Covenantal Characteristics

When there was no creation, there was no anger or wrath of God; without creation, and the entrance of sin, there would be no need for God to be gracious. Because these characteristics present themselves in light of God’s voluntary condescension, we can call them “covenantal.”

 

K. Scott Oliphint, The Majesty of Mystery: Celebrating the Glory of an Incomprehensible God (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016), 102.

Loving God with All Your Mind

But what does it mean to love God with our minds? At minimum, this means that we are to know God—that is, we are to read and understand what Scripture says about God, and to submit intellectually (and otherwise) to that teaching. We are to think God’s thoughts after Him. Those thoughts are found in God’s revelation. When we read Scripture, when we study it, we are to see it as the only true description of what reality is like. We are to reorient our thinking, so that the things around us, and within us, take on the truth that God has spoken. This requires intellectual effort.

 

K. Scott Oliphint, The Majesty of Mystery: Celebrating the Glory of an Incomprehensible God (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016), 12.

Mystery is infused with Truth

...mystery, if we understand it biblically, is infused through and through with the truth that is found in the Word of God. Mystery is the lifeblood of the truth that we have in God’s revelation; it flows through every truth that God gives us.

 

K. Scott Oliphint, The Majesty of Mystery: Celebrating the Glory of an Incomprehensible God (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016), 10.

Mystery Grounded in Scripture

Here is the paradox: A true, biblical view of mystery has its roots not in a lack of understanding, but in the teaching of Scripture. As a matter of fact, it is just the teaching of Scripture that gives us the biblical truth of that which we hold to be mysterious.

 

K. Scott Oliphint, The Majesty of Mystery: Celebrating the Glory of an Incomprehensible God (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016), 10.

The Majestic Mystery of God

Nothing should motivate true Christian worship more than the majestic mystery of God. Things that we understand, that we can wrap our minds around, are rarely objects of our worship. We may seek to control them. We may try to manipulate them. We may want to change them. But we will not worship them, not really. If what we are seeking is true worship, it is the riches of the mystery of God and His ways in the world that will produce and motivate worship in us and to Him.

 

K. Scott Oliphint, The Majesty of Mystery: Celebrating the Glory of an Incomprehensible God (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016), 4–5.

Christian worship begins with mystery

Christian worship, as well as Christian theology, begins with mystery. Mystery is not something that functions simply as a conclusion to our thinking about God. It is not that we learn and think and reason as much as we can and then admit in the end that there is some mystery left over. Instead, we begin by acknowledging the mystery of God and His ways. We begin with the happy recognition that God and His activities are ultimately incomprehensible to us. When we begin with that recognition, we can begin to understand God properly and so worship Him in light of who He is and what He has done.

 

K. Scott Oliphint, The Majesty of Mystery: Celebrating the Glory of an Incomprehensible God (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016), 5.

Simultaneous Gifts

To prove the first point, viz., that God justifies not only by pardoning but by regenerating, he asks, whether he leaves those whom he justifies as they were by nature, making no change upon their vices? The answer is very easy: as Christ cannot be divided into parts, so the two things, justification and sanctification, which we perceive to be united together in him, are inseparable. Whomsoever, therefore, God receives into his favour, he presents with the Spirit of adoption, whose agency forms them anew into his image.

 

John Calvin and Henry Beveridge, Institutes of the Christian Religion, vol. 2 (Edinburgh: The Calvin Translation Society, 1845), 308.

Marriage to Christ

until our minds become intent upon the Spirit, Christ, so to speak, lies idle because we coldly contemplate him as outside ourselves—indeed, far from us. We know, moreover, that he benefits only those whose “Head” he is [Eph. 4:15], for whom he is “the first-born among brethren” [Rom. 8:29], and who, finally, “have put on him” [Gal. 3:27]. This union alone ensures that, as far as we are concerned, he has not unprofitably come with the name of Savior. The same purpose is served by that sacred wedlock through which we are made flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone [Eph. 5:30], and thus one with him. But he unites himself to us by the Spirit alone. By the grace and power of the same Spirit we are made his members, to keep us under himself and in turn to possess him.

 

John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion & 2, ed. John T. McNeill, trans. Ford Lewis Battles, vol. 1, The Library of Christian Classics (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2011), 541.