Author Archives: John Mahaffy

Wrapped with Love

“Holy Scripture is a hymn of praise to the goodness of the Lord; from it Scripture derives the work of creation, as well as all life and blessings for humans and animals (Ps. 8; 19; 36:5–7; 65:44; Matt. 4:45; Acts 14:17; James 1:17). It is extended over all his works (Ps. 145:9) and endures forever (Ps. 136).” “God is King; the King of kings and the Lord of lords; a King who in Christ is a Father to his subjects, and a Father who is at the same time a King over his children. Among creatures, in the world of animals, humans, and angels, all that is found in the way of care for, love toward, and protection of one by the other is a faint adumbration of of God’s providential order over the work of his hands. His absolute power and perfect love, accordingly, are the true object of the faith in providence reflected in Holy Scripture.” (Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. 2, pages 213 and 593)

“To love our enemies is to live a life patterned after God. . . . [T] idea of imitating God is biblical. It is our destiny and our obligation to be conformed to the character of God.” (Daniel M. Doriani, Matthew, Vol. 1, p. 191)

“Like Jesus, his followers are to show benevolence to their enemies in order to reflect God’s benevolence which he shows to evil people. Thus, they are ‘to be complete’ or ‘perfect’ as is their Father (i.e., they are to aspire toward the end time goal of the law, which the Father perfectly reflects).” (G, K. Beale, A New Testament Biblical Theology, p. 426)

Quotes from the Reflection for Trinity Presbyterian Church

Getting Even—Or Not

“His disciples must not resist one who is evil, that is, they must not (according to the rule ‘an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth’) return evil for evil. They must not counter an unfair demand of their neighbor with an equally unfair demand of their own. They must not attempt to avenge themselves on their neighbor with like conduct but rather seek to win him with love, patience, long-suffering, leniency, and a spirit of accommodation. Christ is absolutely not condemning every instance of defending one’s own rights. . . . but the rights of others as well as our own must, according to Christ, be esteemed so highly that they may not in any way be subordinated to personal vindictiveness, hatred, self-interest, to the evil tendencies of the human heart.” (Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. 3, p. 161)

“Retribution is never for the purpose of placating personal revenge but for the purpose of satisfying justice. Justice is not vindictive though it is vindicatory.” (John Murray, Principles of Conduct, p. 174)

Quotes from the Reflection for Trinity Presbyterian Church.


Tonight my wife and I witnessed a powerful presentation of Sophocles’ play, “Electra,” by the Veritas School’s Drama department. Exceedingly well done! (For those of you who are local, there is one more performance, Saturday evening.)
The play wrestles with the idea of vengeance—as it came to expression in a classical Greek setting. The director’s notes summarize: “Vengeance for a wrong was personal, and justice often required the person who was wronged, or their family, to carry out that vengeance. Moreover, the gods and other divine forces demanded vengeance.”
The play is performed in the building of Grace Baptist Church. Joshua W. D. Smith’s director’s notes conclude: “Hopefully the power of Electra’s emotions will tell its own story and inspire reflection on the nature of our own hearts. As a final word, however, it does not escape us that this entire play about justice, vengeance, and the divine, is being staged below the sign of the cross: in Christ crucified, the foolishness of God is wiser than men. (see 1 Cor. 1:20–25)”

Promises, Promises

“When our Lord in his high priestly prayer says, ‘This is life eternal, that they may know thee the only true God and Jesus Christ, whom thou has sent’ (John 17:3), he is predicating of the Father the most ultimate and absolute in respect of deity that biblical language provides. . . . When we speak, therefore, of the sanctity of truth, we must recognize that underlies this concept is the sanctity of the being of God as the living and true God. He is the God of truth and all truth derives its sanctity from him.” “It is because untruth is the contradiction of the nature of God that it is wrong. Truth and untruth are antithetical because God is truth.” (John Murray, Principles of Conduct, pp. 124–125, 148).

“[A] fundamentally false approach to the divine law is in view and is being condemned, an approach which, through externalistic and casuistic interpretation of isolated passages resulted in the justification of frivolous oaths, oaths by heaven and earth, by Jerusalem, by one’s head, or the like. Jesus condemns such vain efforts to avoid a reckoning with God in all of one’s asservations, whether in the form of oaths or not, by the declaration that they were not to swear at all.” (Ned B. Stonehouse, The Witness of Matthew and Mark to Christ, p. 207).

“God is awesome. Before him, all the empty words and false assurances of empty religion will melt away. Ananias and Sapphira discovered that to be the case when they promised God God one thing and then did another.” (Gordon Keddie, Ecclesiastes, p. 133).

Quotes from the Reflection for Trinity Presbyterian Church.


“Our ultimate hope is that God is a covenantal, promise-keeping God. Marriage is a relationship based entirely on promises and public, binding oaths. The promises made between husband and wife to remain faithful, no matter what comes and to forsake all others, is a picture of God’s incredible commitment to us. It is a dim reflection of of the amazing reality that ‘neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord’ (Romans 8:38–39).” (David White, God, You, & Sex: A Profound Mystery, p. 49).

“’One flesh’ certainly includes physical intimacy, but it is broader than that. It means learning both the words and the silences of the beloved. It means dreaming great dreams, but also cleaning up the kitchen. It means sharing the deep concerns of the heart and the little bumps on the toe.” (Daniel Doriani, Matthew, Vol. 1,, p. 160).

“The marriage relationship of Adam and Eve and of all their progeny appears to have been established as a kind of shadow to point to the consummated end-time relationship of God and his bridal people (cf. Isa. 54:1–6; 62:2–5; Eph. 5:29–32).” “This new name [in Revelation 21:2] is then explained in Isa. 62:3–5 to signify a new. Intimate marriage relationship between Israel and God. Therefore it is not accidental that the remainder of Rev. 21:2 addresses a marriage metaphor to explain the significance of ‘new Jerusalem”” (G. K. Beale, A New Testament Biblical Theology, pp. 41 & 676).

“When God receives the Church as His bride and rejoices at the multitude of her sons, then truly the Church is blessed.” (E. J. Young, The Book of Isaiah Vol. 3, p. 470).

Quotes from the Reflection for Trinity Presbyterian Church.

Purity in Christ

“Every unclean thought or glance would be adultery if it could, every covetous desire would be oppression, every thought of unbelief would be atheism, might it grow to its head [that is, ‘ultimate outcome’].” (John Owen, Overcoming Sin & Temptation, edited by Kapic and Taylor, p. 53).

“Be killing sin or it will be killing you.” (John Owen, Works 6:9)

“God did not fish around for some image to use to show his people what his love is like, and then stumble on marriage as the best one to convince them to return to him in covenant devotion. . . . No. God planned it the other way around. He placed in us at creation deep sexual emotions so that we might understand the jealousy of his love for us and the joy of jealousy for him.” (Edmund P. Clowney, How Jesus Transforms the Ten Commandments, p. 95).

“In Matthew 5:27–30, Christ charges that the teachers of the law put the boundaries of purity in the wrong place, at the edge of behavior, misunderstanding the law’s intent. Christ placed the boundaries squarely within the heart. That was the original intent of the law.” (Paul David Tripp, “Teens & Sex: How Should We Teach Them?” p. 19).

Quotes from the Reflection for Trinity Presbyterian Church of the OPC

Anger and Reconciliation

“The fulfillment of the law, like the fulfillment of the prophets, while presupposing and reaffirming its divine truth and authority, predicates the dawn of a new era. The law and the prophets do not produce their own fulfillment. It is the presence of Christ alone which accomplishes this end, and this fact, in the light of Matthew’s total witness to Christ, clearly involves new divine action and speech. The fulfillment of the law and the prophets represents not a mere repetition or reiteration of the old revelation, but the announcement of the appearance of the age to which the old age looked forward.” (pp. 197–198). “No hint is given of a relaxing of the authority of the law; on the contrary he indicates that the demands of God are more comprehensive and more exacting than men had supposed.” (p. 199). (Ned B. Stonehouse, The Witness of Matthew and Mark to Christ).

“Have we sufficiently appreciated the fact that, in a sinless world there would have been no ‘against’? The essence of sin is comprehended in the word ‘against.’ Sin is first of all against God and because we are against God we are against our fellowman.” (John Murray, Principles of Conduct, p. 166).

“The gospel removes an abso­lute law-gospel antithesis in the life of the believer. How so? Briefly, apart form the gospel and outside of Christ, the law is my enemy and condemns me. Why? Because God is my enemy and condemns me. But with the gospel and in Christ, united to him by faith, the law is no longer my enemy but my friend. Why Because now God is no longer my enemy but my friend, and the law, his will—the law in its moral core, as reflective of his character and of concerns eternally inherent in his own person and so of what pleases him—is now my friendly guide for life in fellowship with God.” (Richard B. Gaffin, Jr. By Faith, Not by Sight, pages 117–118).

Quotes on the Reflection for Trinity Presbyterian Church of the OPC on Matthew 5:21–26