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Old Testament Gospel

(32 posts)

Lord’s Day 25, 2008

I reioyced, when they sayd to me, We wil go into the house of the Lord. (Psalme 122:1) HYMN IX. JACOB’S Ladder Gen. xxviii. 12. John Newton (1725–1806) If the Lord our leader be, We may follow without fear; East or West, by land or sea, Home, with him, is ev’ry where; When from Esau Jacob fled, Tho’ his pillow was a stone, And the ground his humble bed, Yet he was not left alone. Kings are often waking kept, Rack’d with cares on beds of state; Never king like Jacob slept. For he lay at heaven’s gate: Lo! he saw a ladder rear’d, Reaching to the heav’nly throne; At the top the Lord appear’d, Spake and claimed him for his own. “Fear not, Jacob, thou art mine, And my presence with thee goes; On thy heart my love shall shine, And my arm subdue thy foes: From my promise comfort take; For my help in trouble call; Never will I thee forsake, ’Till I have accomplish’d all.” Well does Jacob’s ladder suit To the gospel throne of grace; We are at the ladder’s foot, Ev’ry hour, in ev’ry place By affirming flesh and blood, Jesus heav’n and earth unites; We by faith ascend to God, God to dwell with us delights. They who know the Savior’s name, Are for all events prepar’d What can changes do to them, Who have such a Guide and Guard? Should they traverse earth around, To the ladder still they come; Ev’ry spot is holy ground, God is there—and he’s their home. —Olney Hymns. Book I: On select Passages of Scripture. Psalme 88 (Geneva Bible) A song or Psalme of Heman the Ezrahite to give instruction, committed to the sonnes of Korah for him that excelleth upon Malath Leannoth.1 O Lord God of my saluation, I cry day and night before thee. 2 Let my prayer enter into thy presence: incline thine eare vnto my cry. 3 For my soule is filled with euils, and my life draweth neere to the graue. 4 I am counted among them that go downe vnto the pit, and am as a man without strength: 5 Free among the dead, like the slaine lying in the graue, whome thou remembrest no more, and they are cut off from thine hand. 6 Thou hast layde me in the lowest pit, in darkenes, and in the deepe. 7 Thine indignation lyeth vpon me, and thou hast vexed me with all thy waues. Selah. 8 Thou hast put away mine acquaintance farre from me, and made mee to be abhorred of them: I am shut vp, and cannot get foorth. 9 Mine eye is sorowfull through mine affliction: Lord, I call dayly vpon thee: I stretch out mine hands vnto thee. 10 Wilt thou shewe a miracle to the dead? or shall the dead rise and prayse thee? Selah. 11 Shall thy louing kindenes be declared in the graue? or thy faithfulnes in destruction? 12 Shall thy wonderous workes be knowen in the darke? and thy righteousnes in the land of obliuion? 13 But vnto thee haue I cryed, O Lord, and early shall my prayer come before thee. 14 Lord, why doest thou reiect my soule, and hidest thy face from me? 15 I am afflicted and at the point of death: from my youth I suffer thy terrours, doubting of my life. 16 Thine indignations goe ouer me, and thy feare hath cut me off. 17 They came round about me dayly like water, and compassed me together. 18 My louers and friends hast thou put away from me, and mine acquaintance hid themselues. Grace be with you, and Peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

An Epitome of the Gospel (explained)

As I observed yesterday, the entire gospel is summarized in Genesis 3:21: The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them. Most readers will see the blood sacrifice prefiguring the crucifixion. But that is only half of the gospel. At the center of the gospel is the doctrine of imputation. In the bloody sacrifice, we see our sins being imputed to Christ (Isaiah 53). But thats not enough. That does not justify me before God. It isnt enough that Christ bore the penalty for my sin. I must be presented before God righteous. And my righteousness must be a real righteousness. God cannot merely pretend; that would be, as Rome and Finney called it, a legal fiction. Where do we get this righteousness? Adam and Eve thought they could produce their own: and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings (v. 7). Isnt that typical? Our first instinct, when confronted with our sinour nakednessis to try harder, do better. But as Adam and Eve learned, the best covering we can make is inadequate. Nice as it may be, it is still our own, and our own righteousness is no better than filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). Adam and Eve needed what we need: a covering not of their own making, but of Gods. So God killed an animal and made garments for them of the skin. He replaced their unrighteous garments with righteous garments. Christ did not die merely to take away our sins. A complete exchange was made on the cross: our sin for his righteousness. And its all there in Genesis 3:21.

Monergism, 1921 BC

Sarai was barren; she had no child. —Genesis 11:30 Genesis 11:30 tells us, “Now Sarai was barren.” And then the writer repeats himself (just in case you missed it the first time around): “She had no children.” Not to have children in a society where a woman’s value was measured by her fertility was a bitter blow indeed. Sarai must have shed many bitter tears over her inability to bear children. But, paradoxically, her inability in this area was a crucial part of God’s preparation of her for her role in his plan. In order for her to be the mother of the child of promise, it was necessary for her to be unable to bear children without the direct intervention of God. —Iain Duguid, Living in the Gap Between Promise and Reality: The Gospel According to Abraham (P&R, 1999), 10. As we learned from Genesis 3, man has, from the beginning, attempted to stand in God’s place. Adam and Eve did it, Cain did it, and about two millennia later, Abraham and Sarah would try to take charge of fulfilling God’s promise. Today’s text points a finger directly at one of the most important words in soteriology: monergism. The doctrine of monergism states that “the Holy Spirit is the only efficient agent in regeneration—that the human will possesses no inclination to holiness until regenerated, and therefore cannot coöperate in regeneration.” When we think of monergism, we seldom think beyond the specific supernatural act of regeneration. But the monergistic nature of God’s redemptive plan extends to every aspect of our salvation, not merely the present reality, but our future hope, and indeed, to every event in history upon which that plan depends. This is a message that God has declared throughout redemptive history. Two millennia before the incarnation of Christ, he revealed it to Abraham and Sarah in the promise of a seed through whom all the families of the earth would be blessed. But Abraham and Sarah missed it, and the majority of Christians still miss it today. God kept his promise in the womb of a barren woman. He keeps it still today in the barren hearts of men.

A Unilateral Covenant

After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, Do not fear, Abram,  I am a shield to you;  Your reward shall be very great. 2 Abram said, O Lord God, what will You give me, since I am childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus? 3 And Abram said, Since You have given no offspring to me, one born in my house is my heir. 4 Then behold, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, This man will not be your heir; but one who will come forth from your own body, he shall be your heir. 5 And He took him outside and said, Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them And He said to him, So shall your descendants be. 6 Then he believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness. 7 And He said to him, I am the Lord who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess it. 8 He said, O Lord God, how may I know that I will possess it? 9 So He said to him, Bring Me a three year old heifer, and a three year old female goat, and a three year old ram, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon. 10 Then he brought all these to Him and cut them in two, and laid each half opposite the other; but he did not cut the birds. 11 The birds of prey came down upon the carcasses, and Abram drove them away. 12 Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, terror and great darkness fell upon him. 13 God said to Abram, Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years. 14 But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve, and afterward they will come out with many possessions. 15 As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you will be buried at a good old age. 16 Then in the fourth generation they will return here, for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete. 17 It came about when the sun had set, that it was very dark, and behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a flaming torch which passed between these pieces. 18 On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, To your descendants I have given this land,  From the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates: 19 the Kenite and the Kenizzite and the Kadmonite 20 and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Rephaim 21 and the Amorite and the Canaanite and the Girgashite and the Jebusite. Genesis 15 In this chapter, God once again demonstrates the absolutely unilateral nature of salvation. Iain Duguid explains:    At the conclusion of a covenant agreement, it was sometimes the custom for the parties to walk between the pieces of a torn up animal. This served as a kind of acted out curse. What they were saying was, If I break the covenant, may I be torn in pieces like this animal. But in Gods covenant with Abram, only one of the parties passed between the pieces: God himself in the form of a blazing, smoking torch (v. 17). That foreshadowed the pillars of cloud and fire on Mount Sinai. The one who would give the law was here showing that grace comes first, for this was a totally one-sided covenant. Iain Duguid, Living in the Gap Between Promise and Reality: The Gospel According to Abraham (P&R, 1999), 39.

The Lord Shut Him In

So they went into the ark to Noah, by twos of all flesh in which was the breath of life. Those that entered, male and female of all flesh, entered as God had commanded him; and the Lord closed it behind him. Genesis 7:1516 A few years ago, I began reading John Bunyans Exposition of the First Ten Chapters of Genesis. I didnt get far before Bunyans extreme allegorizing of the text almost made me wonder if he believed it was an actual historical account. Since then I have been very wary of any preaching that imposes symbolic meanings where Scripture doesnt specify them. You might want to keep that in mind as you read what follows, and beware of the possibility that I might be taking the allegory too far. Of the substance of theology, I am sure. That it can definitely be drawn from this text, I am not so certain. 1 Peter 3:1821 tells us that the Genesis flood serves as an allegory of the wrath of God against sin and the salvation of his elect in Christ. (I wrote about that three weeks ago.) From Peter we know that the flood and the ark are symbols of Christs death and resurrection and the necessity of being in Christ. Like the New Testament parables, we must be careful not try to drag meaning out of every detail, but I do think there is soteriological significance in the phrase the Lord closed [the door] behind him, or as the KJV has it, the Lord shut him in. Matthew Henry wrote, 3. Those that by faith come into Christ, the ark, shall by the power of God be shut in, and kept as in a strong-hold by the power of God, 1 Pet. 1:5. God put Adam into paradise, but he did not shut him in, and so he threw himself out; but when he put Noah into the ark he shut him in, and so when he brings a soul to Christ he ensures its salvation: it is not in our own keeping, but in the Mediators hand. 4. The door of mercy will shortly be shut against those that now make light of it. Now, knock and it shall be opened; but the time will come when it shall not, Luke 13:25. Matthew Henry, Matthew Henrys Commentary on the Whole Bible (Hendrickson, 1991), 1:50. Following Peters formula, we could say: Those that entered the ark were shut in by the power of God; corresponding to that, those who are in Christ are kept in by the power of God. While the door was open, there was hope of survival, but when it closed, it was closed for good, there was no alternate means of rescue, and all who remained outside were destroyed; corresponding to that, all who reject Christ while he offers salvation in himself will one day find the door closed, and it will be too late. (See also Psalm 95:811, cf. Hebrews 34.)

Not Negotiable

As discussed previously, God has made a unilateral covenant with his people. He alone has made a promise, and he alone will be the promise keeper. And, as Duguid explains, he alone has the authority to set the terms of the covenant. What does it mean when we say our relationship with God is based on a covenant? In the first place, it means that we cannot set the terms of our relationship with God. the terms of the covenant are not negotiable. Imagine the weaker king in an ancient covenant saying to the great king, Fine. Lets do a deal here, but I want to be in charge in this relationship. I want to say what you can do and what you can be likeand dont come making demands of me. Its absurd, isnt it? He would have found his head on a pole and his limbs distributed to the four corners of the empire before you could say, Assyria rules, okay! Yet many people think that they can strike their own bargains with God. They say, I like to think of God as . . .as if they can decide what God will be like. They want to pick and choose what they will believe and what they will doand they certainly dont want a God who makes too many demands on them. My God isnt like that, they will tell you. In other words, they dont want a God who is God. The real question, however, is not what you would like God to be like God to be like, but what he is really like. And he has revealed himself as the God who has made a covenant with his people. When the great king comes and offers to establish a covenant with you, you really have only two choices: you can accept the covenant relationship on his terms and receive its benefits, or you can refuse it and face the consequences. Many people approach religion as if they were interviewing God for a job, the position of personal deity in my life. I want to find a philosophy that works for me, they say. But if God is really who he claims to be, Almighty God, then that is what he is, whether the idea works for you or not. You can interview idols and ideologies, but the God who created the universe offers you only two choices: surrender on his terms of face the consequences. Iain Duguid, Living in the Gap Between Promise and Reality: The Gospel According to Abraham (P&R, 1999), 75. I believe that most of the controversial doctrines of Scripture are disputed only because men and women want some control over whom and how they will worship. They hear a doctrine that challenges autonomy, and reason thusly: if a, then b; b is unacceptable, therefore a must be false. But God has no interest in conforming to our opinion of what is right and acceptable. He is Lord; we are not. Our opinions must conform to the truth that is, the truth that our Sovereign has declared. When we get our view of God straight, we will cease protesting against the truths revealed in Scripture.
By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son; it was he to whom it was said, In Isaac your descendants shall be called. He considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead, from which he also received him back as a type. Hebrews 11:1719 Just a few quick observations from this text: By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac . . . Genuine obedience is by faith (Romans 14:23). By faith Abraham . . . was offering up his only begotten son; it was he to whom it was said, In Isaac your descendants shall be called. . . . Abraham trusted God to keep his promise, in spite of incomprehensible evidence to the contrary. By faith Abraham . . . was offering up his only begotten son; . . . He considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead . . . Abraham believed that God was able to do the impossible to keep his promise. By faith Abraham . . . offered up Isaac [and] also received him back as a type. This passage is thick with typology. First, Abraham typifies the Father, offering his only son. Isaac typifies Christ, willingly and knowingly laying down his life in obedience to his father. Abrahams faith is an example of saving faith in Christ: Abraham surely believed that Isaac would die, yet believed that God would keep his promise and raise him from the dead. Finally, the ram is a type of Christ, and an illustration of substitutionary atonement. Abraham owed God a supreme sacrifice. That sacrifice was his only son, who was more than just precious as a beloved son, but also the fulfillment of Gods promise of Abrahams future legacy. Isaac was Abrahams everything, his very life. And that is our debt to God, for our sin. We owe him a death, and he will be paid. But he has provided a substitute. Abraham called the place Jehovah-jireh (the Lord will provide, Genesis 22:14). Jesus is our ram caught in the thicket. Calvary is our Jehovah-jireh. Most immediately important to us is that, in Isaac, we see ourselves, desperately in need of a substitute that only God can provide.

Election: Sovereign but Not Arbitrary

Iain Duguid on election: The doctrine of election is a difficult one for many people. They struggle with the justice of the idea that God chooses some for salvation and passes over others. Some people, therefore, have argued that it is a matter of God���s foreknowledge. God knows in advance which people are going to choose him, and therefore he responds by choosing them. The Bible, however, is clear. God���s love for his chosen people existed long before their birth, all the way back to the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4-5). God does not love us because he foresaw we would love him. Rather, we love God because he loved us from the first (Rom. 9:16). Yet, as we pointed out earlier, even though God���s election is sovereign, it is not arbitrary or unjust. It is not as if Esau desperately wanted to be a chosen son and God harshly turned him away, not allowing him a place among his chosen people. No, Esau has twice turned his back on his spiritual birthright. First, he sold his birthright to his brother for a bowl of lentil soup (Gen. 25:31���34). Now he compromised the fundamental goal of God���s election: the creation of a separate, holy people for God. Under the circumstances, Esau could have no complaints about being passed over. We should also notice, however, that Jacob is not chosen because, in contrast to Esau, he is such a wonderful person. Jacob shows himself to be a scheming, conniving, calculating little rat, especially during the first part of his life. Nonetheless, because God���s choice rests upon him out of his sovereign mercy, God is going to work on Jacob, reshaping him, purifying him into a person he can use. Neither Jacob nor Esau deserves God���s grace in his life, but God���s sovereign mercy rests upon Jacob for his blessing, and so his grace begins the transforming work in his heart. So it is also for us. Our election and our salvation are entirely of grace. God did not choose you because you were better or smarter or more beautiful or holier than everyone else. God did not choose you because he foresaw that you would exercise faith while others wouldn���t. God chose us while we were still filthy sinners, because of his electing grace. Even with his transforming power at work in our hearts, thou, the best of saints make only small beginnings on the path of holy living. We never outgrow our need for grace while we live on earth. But God���s sovereign choice on salvation is not arbitrary. Those passed over by God have no cause for complaint. Their condemnation is thoroughly deserved. Even though we plead with them with tears to abandon their self-destructive course and find salvation in Jesus Christ, they will have none of it. The whole idea is foolishness to them. Those whom God chooses, he then begins to reshape into a people for his pleasure. As Ephesians 1:4 puts it, ���He chose us . . . to be holy and blameless in his sight.��� The result is that those chosen have no cause of arrogance. Their justification is undeserved by them. It is merited only by the righteousness of Christ that is credited to their account, and it is worked on them by the indwelling power o the Holy Spirit. All is of God, so that God may receive all the glory. That truth should give us boldness in our sharing of the gospel. We may freely call all who will come to Jesus and be saved. The invitation to the party is open to all. Whoever you are, whatever you have done, your sins too can be paid for by the death of Jesus on the cross. No one is too guilty or too defiled to come. You too can receive Christ���s righteousness credited to your account. You too can participate in the feast that God has prepared for all who are his people on the final day. It���s a genuine offer, and we pray fervently and intently that many people will respond to it in faith. But we trust the outcome of our evangelism to the care of a good god, who chose a people who would be his before the foundation of the world. That too is a comforting thought, given the imperfection of so much of our gospel witness. It is God who determines the outcome of our speaking for him, not the quality of our speech. It is God���s choice whither our words fall on the ears of an Esau, to whom they are all nonsense, or on the ears of a Jacob, for whom the road to faith may be long and hard but will eventually bring him to glory. It is God���s choice whether our words fall on the ears of an Abraham who is ready now to hear and trust and believe. We therefore invite all to come to Christ of receive the living water from him, confident that all those whom the Lord our God is calling to himself will hear his voice and will come. To him indeed be all the glory. This truth should also give us great joy on the midst of our manifold sins and failures. Do you know yourself to be a sinner in God���s sight? Are there areas of your life where you continue to fail God over and over again? If so, the bad news is that you are normal. But the good news is that if God has laid hold of you by his electing grace, he will sustain you by that grace through every step of your earthly journey. He will use even that son which you find so difficult to combat as a means of driving you back to the cross. And one day, at the end of all things, you too will be purified completely by his grace and will stand before him without fault or blemish. What a wonderful, heartwarming, comforting, doctrine the doctrine of God���s election is! ���Iain Duguid, Living in the Grip of Relentless Grace: The Gospel in the Lives of Isaac and Jacob (P&R, 2002), 27���29.

The Gospel in Proverbs

Thursday··2012·01·12 · 1 Comments
Dan Phillips lists eleven benefits resulting from the fear of Yahweh found in the book of Proverbs. Among them is a fountain of life, from Proverbs 14:27. The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death. The form is consequence (B is what happens when you A). the meaning of this verse is related to [Proverbs 10:27]. Beyond that, it has a valid application on the eternal level. We are all born rebels, enemies of God and under His death sentence. When we come to know and fear God as He truly is, we receive eternal life, and turn away from the snares of everlasting death under His judgment in Hell. This is one of many proverbs that suggest to me that fear Yahweh is the Old Covenant equivalent of believe in the Lord Jesus (Acts 16:31). It is a distillation of the Gospel, in Old Covenant terms. It could be translated for Christians with no changes other than greater New Covenant specificity: Faith in Christ as Lord is a fountain of life, For turning away from the snares of death. Dan Phillips, Gods Wisdom in Proverbs (Kress Biblical Resources, 2011), 8889.

Jacob’s Ladder

Genesis 28 tells the story of Jacob’s encounter with God at the place he would call Bethel. This is where we read of Jacob’s ladder, and from whence comes that theologically stupid song you learned in Sunday school. At Bethel, Jacob had a dream in which he saw a ladder upon which angels ascended and descended. Whatever happened to Jacobs ladder? The image virtually disappears in Old Testament history. Centuries pass with no mention of it. Then suddenly, it appears again in the New Testament: Philip found Nathanael and told him, We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote-Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. Nazareth! Can anything good come from there? Nathanael asked. Come and see, said Philip. When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false. How do you know me? Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you. Then Nathanael declared, Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel. Jesus said, You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You shall see greater things than that. He then added, I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man. John 1:4551 NIV Jesus words to Nathanael were radical. In this conversation He declared that He is the ladder of Jacob; He is the bridge between heaven and earth; He is the one who spans the chasm between the Transcendent One and mere humans. The angels of God ascend and descend on Him. He makes the absent God present among us. R. C. Sproul, The Holiness of God (Tyndale, 1985), 173174.

God Clothed Them

The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them. Genesis 3:21* Steve Lawson comments on the symbolic picture of the future death of Christ for His chosen ones seen in the passage above: The Lord Himself killed an innocent animal and made coverings for the nakedness and guilt of Adam and Eve. This was the first death in Gods newly created worlda slain sacrifice. This animal was killed at the hands of God Himself, and He provided its skin freely for the first couple as an expression of His saving grace. Their garments of skin represented Gods provision for restoring Adams and Eves relationship with Himself. This bloody sacrifice pictured the coming of Christ into the world to redeem His people. Gods Son would be the Lamb of God, who would take away the sin of His people (John 1:29, 36). His sacrifice alone would provide a covering for the exposed nakedness of Adam and Eves guilt. In explaining this substitutionary death, Boice points out that it symbolized the shed blood and perfect righteousness of Christ. Boice writes: In order to make clothes of skin, God had to kill animals. It was the first death Adam and Eve had witnessed, as far as we know. It must have seemed horrible to them and have made an indelible impression. So this is what death is; this is what sin causes, they must have exclaimed. But even more important, the death of the animals must have taught them the principle of substitution, the innocent dying for the guilty, just as the innocent Son of God would one day die for the sins of those God was giving to him. When God clothed our first parents in the animals skins, Adam and Eve must have had at least a first faint glimmer of the doctrine of imputed righteousness. . . . God saved Adam and Eve from their sins by clothing them in the heavenly righteousness of Jesus Christ, which he symbolized by their being clothed with skins of animals. Steve Lawson, Foundations of Grace (Reformation Trust, 2006), 64. * Ive covered this before: An Epitome of the Gospel.

Sovereign Election in Exodus

Divine justice plays no part in sovereign election. It is all of Gods mercy. Gods choice of undeserving sinners for salvation is an expression of His sovereign will and free grace. God does not owe salvation to any sinner. Saving grace is entirely unmerited; no sinful creature has any claim to it. All that sinful man rightly deserves is divine condemnation. So the lost human race desperately needs what it does not deserve. But because grace is a gift, God is free to bestow it upon whom He pleases without violating His justice. As He is absolutely sovereign, He chooses which sinners He will save: I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. Exodus 33:19b In this passage, God says nothing about His justice. He speaks only of His mercy. These two divine attributesjustice and mercybelong to totally different categories. Election is always a matter of sovereign mercy, not justice. Without any obligation to bestow grace upon any individual, God shows Himself to be infinitely loving by choosing to show mercy upon some. Grasping the profundity of this verse, John MacArthur writes, God is absolutely sovereign and does elect who will be saved without violating His other attributes. He determines who receives mercy. Albert Barnes adds, Jehovah declares His own will to be the ground of the grace which He is going to show the nation. St. Paul applies these words to the election of Jacob in order to overthrow the self-righteous boasting of the Jews (Rom. 9:15). The point is clearGod chooses by sovereign mercy whom He will save. Steve Lawson, Foundations of Grace (Reformation Trust, 2006), 80.

Definite Atonement in Leviticus

I cant help wondering: how do those who object to the doctrine of Definite (or, as in the TULIP, Limited) Atonement deal with the very specific and limited atonement provided by the Levitical priesthood? The high priest of Israel alone entered the Holy of Holies to represent Gods people. His intercession for Israel pictured the particular death of Christ on behalf of the elect of God: Then he shall kill the goat of the sin offering that is for the people and bring its blood inside the veil. . . . Thus he shall make atonement for the Holy Place, because of the uncleannesses of the people of Israel and because of their transgressions, all their sins. Leviticus 16:1516 Once a year, on the Day of Atonement, the high priest of Israel entered behind the veil into the Holy of Holies. As he approached, he carried with him on his shoulders the badge and the engraved stones that were representative of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. As he stepped into the Holy of Holies, he was representing the people of Godnot the Canaanites, Egyptians, or Babylonians. He ministered on behalf of those chosen by God, making atonement for their sin. All this prefigured the Lord Jesus Christ, who would be the High Priest exclusively for His people. It was not for the entire world that Christ made atonement, for if He had, all the world would be saved. Rather, Christ atoned for all who ultimately will be saved, those chosen by the Father. In eternity past, the names of the elect were etched upon Christs heart, and upon the cross the Father transferred their sins to Him. As the Great High Priest of God, Jesus stood before the Father on their behalf, not the worlds (John 17:9) Steve Lawson, Foundations of Grace (Reformation Trust, 2006), 8889.

Definite Atonement in Numbers

Thursday··2012·08·09 · 2 Comments
The only saving remedy for mans helpless state in sin is the atoning sacrifice of Christ. Upon the cross, the Lord Jesus became sin for His people so that they might receive salvation in Him. This substitutionary death was prefigured in the wilderness in the bronze serpent that God told Moses to make and put upon a pole. It was a saving remedy not intended for the surrounding nations of the world, but exclusively for Israel. If the people of God would look, they would be saved: Then the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died. And the people came to Moses and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord and against you. Pray to the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us. So Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said to Moses, Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live. So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live. Numbers 21:69 By His grace, God provided a saving remedy for the sinning Israelites who had been bitten by the fiery serpents He had sent in His judgment. These poisonous snakes administered a lethal bite that ministered deatha picture of the deadly venom of sin. But God told Moses to make a bronze serpent and place it on a standard. When it was raised up, all who looked to it by faith were saved. According to Christs own words, this bronze serpent was a picture of His vicarious death upon the cross (John 3:1415). It portrayed the necessity of looking to Christ in personal, saving faith for salvation. Seeing this intended connection between the bronze serpent and Christ, James Montgomery Boice writes, In the same way, we are to look to Christs cross. We have been bitten by sin, as they were bitten. We are dying of sin, as they were dying. God sent His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin that we might believe on Him and not perish. . . . This is the heart of Christianity. God has provided salvation for you in Jesus Christ. Upon the cross, the Lord Jesus Christ became sin for all who will believe upon Him. The bronze serpent was not intended for the Canaanites or the Egyptians, who lived and died in unbelief. Rather, it was exclusively for Gods people, who looked and lived. So it is with the death of Christ. He died for His people, for all who would put their trust in Him. Steve Lawson, Foundations of Grace (Reformation Trust, 2006), 9293.

Irresistible Call in Deuteronomy

Friday··2012·08·10 · 1 Comments
In Deuteronomy, Moses also taught the fourth main heading of the doctrines of graceGods irresistible call. Hundreds of years before Moses, God commanded Abraham to circumcise all the males in his household. For Israel, circumcision was a picture of what God must do to the unconverted heart. In the new birth, God must circumcise the sin-hardened heart if sinful man is to love Him with saving faith. By a sovereign work of the Holy Spirit, God must cut deeply into the unconverted heart and supernaturally set it apart to Himself. This is the omnipotent work of the Spirit in regeneration. Again, then, we see that God is the sole initiating cause of regeneration. Man is passive while God is active in this vital step in the process of salvation: And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live. Deuteronomy 30:6 Moses presented Gods sovereign work of grace as a spiritual circumcision, a cutting away of the foreskin of the unbelieving heart. It is a penetrating work of grace that removes mans inability to believe and replaces it with true repentance and faith. Regeneration is open-heart surgery, a soul-reviving work of the Spirit that probes to the deepest level of a persons being. Concerning this work of regeneration, Anthony Hoekema writes, What does the Bible teach about regeneration? Already in the Old Testament we are taught that only God can bring about the radical change which is necessary to enable fallen human beings again to do what is pleasing in His sight. In Deuteronomy 30:6 we find our spiritual renewal figuratively described as a circumcision of the heart. . . . Since the heart is the inner core of the person, the passage teaches that God must cleanse us within before we can truly love Him. Explaining the irresistible nature of this divine work, Craigie writes, It is seen rather to be an act of God and thus indicates the new covenant, when God would in His grace deal with mans basic spiritual problem. When God operated on the heart, then indeed the people would be able to love the Lord and live. Steve Lawson, Foundations of Grace (Reformation Trust, 2006), 9798.

Divine Sovereignty in Job

The entire narrative of Job is a declaration of Gods sovereignty. Within that narrative are many examples of his sovereign power, of which this is one: By His sovereignty, God has determined the precise number of days and months each person will live upon this earth. Nothing can circumvent the lifespans allotted by God according to His sovereign will: His days are determined, and the number of his months is with you, and you have appointed his limits that he cannot pass. Job 14:5 Even when life appears to be out of control, as it certainly did to Job, God remains in complete control. This transcendent truth is evidenced by the fact that the duration of a mans life upon this earth remains fixed in the unchanging, eternal plan of God. Henry writes, Three things we are here assured of(1.) That our life will come to an end; our days upon earth are not numberless, are not endless, no, they are numbered, and will soon be finished, Dan. 5:26. (2.) That it is determined, in the counsel and decree of God, how long we shall live and when we shall die. The number of our months is with God. . . . It is certain that Gods providence has the ordering of the period of our lives; our times are in His hand. . . . (3.) That the bounds God has fixed we cannot pass; for His counsels are unalterable, His foresight being infallible. What Henry writes is absolutely true. Despite the uncertainty of life, we must acknowledge that God has decreed the number of our months, having set limits that we cannot exceed. Steve Lawson, Foundations of Grace (Reformation Trust, 2006), 125.

Radical Depravity in Job (1)

Man is pervasively unclean in the depths of his being. What is more, there is absolutely nothing that he can do to make himself clean: Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? There is not one. Job 14:4 Job asked a penetrating question that he quickly answered. No one can bring clean works that are acceptable to God out of an unclean life. Every good work a person does is tainted by sin to some extent. Pointing back to the problem of original sin, Barnes writes, As a historical record, this passage proves that the doctrine of original sin was early held in the world. Still it is true that the same great law prevails, that the offspring of woman is a sinnerno matter where he may be born, or in what circumstances he may be placed. The pervasiveness of radical depravity has polluted the entire inner life of fallen man. Steve Lawson, Foundations of Grace (Reformation Trust, 2006), 127.

Radical Depravity in Job (2)

All men are inwardly impure and unrighteous. Because they are unclean in their hearts, sin abounds in their lives: What is man, that he can be pure? Or he who is born of a woman, that he can be righteous? Behold, God puts no trust in his holy ones, and the heavens are not pure in his sight; how much less one who is abominable and corrupt, a man who drinks injustice like water! Job 15:1416 Mans moral problem is that the inner corruption of his life runs much deeper than mere external actions. His problem is what he is. His inner nature and personal character are defiled by sin. His fallen heart actively lusts for iniquity, so that he drinks sin like water. Of this insatiable thirst for sin, Thomas Watson writes, Like a hydropsical person, that thirsts for drink, and is not satisfied; they have a kind of drought on them, they thirst for sin. Though they are tired out in committing sin, yet they sin. . . . Though God has set so many flaming swords in the way to stop men in their sin, yet they go on in it; which all shows what a strong appetite they have to the forbidden fruit. It must be acknowledged that in the heights of heaven even a host of angels fell into sin. How much more have the sons of Adam on earth rebelled. Steve Lawson, Foundations of Grace (Reformation Trust, 2006), 127128.

Divine Sovereignty in Psalms

God reigns supreme in the heavens, and His plans never change from one generation to the next. From everlasting to everlasting, His eternal counsel remains the same: The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations. Psalm 33:11 In this verse, David refers to the counsel of the Lord, which is the eternal deliberation and decree of God, formed in eternity past, by which He made the irrevocable choice of His all-wise will. No matter what man may attempt, the eternal counsel of the Lord will be sustained unwaveringly from one generation to the next. In fact, nothing that any being can do will alter or subvert it. Gods divine purposes remain immutable and unalterable from age to age. Commenting on this text, Albert Barnes writes, There can be no superior counsel or will to change it, as is the case with the plans of men; and no purposes of any beings inferior to himselfangels, men, or devilscan affect, defeat, or modify His eternal plans. No changes in human affairs can impede His plans; no opposition can defeat them; no progress can supersede them. . . . The things which he has designed, or which He intends shall be accomplished. . . . The plans of God are not changed by the passing off of one generation and the coming on of another; by new dynasties of kings, or by the revolutions that may occur in states and empires. All of human history moves forward toward its divinely appointed end under the absolute control of God. Steve Lawson, Foundations of Grace (Reformation Trust, 2006), 136.

Sovereign Election in Psalms

Gods sovereign choice of his people guarantees more than their eternal destination. Election guarantees their sanctification here and now, as well. Out of the mass of sinful humanity, God has set apart a chosen people for Himself. Each of these elect individuals will become increasingly godly: But know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself; the Lord hears when I call to him. Psalm 4:3 David teaches here that God sets apart the godly, an act that is synonymous with divine election. This choice was made before time began, and guarantees that all Gods chosen ones will be sanctified and become godly within time. God does not elect a person because he or she is godly, but in order that the person might become godly. Spurgeon comments upon this verse, The godly are the chosen of God, and are, by distinguishing grace, set apart and separated from among men. Election is a doctrine which unrenewed men cannot endure, but nevertheless, it is a glorious and well-attested truth, and one which should comfort the tempted believer. Election is the guarantee of complete salvation, and an argument for success at the throne of grace. He who chose us for Himself will surely hear our prayers. Steve Lawson, Foundations of Grace (Reformation Trust, 2006), 144.

Preserving Grace in Psalms

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. ���Romans 3:38���39 The righteous are kept forever secure by God, both in this life and throughout all eternity. Not one of God���s saints will ever perish: The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand. . . . For the Lord loves justice; he will not forsake his saints. They are preserved forever, but the children of the wicked shall be cut off. ���Psalm 37:23���28 In this wisdom psalm, David explains that the Lord guards the righteous. Though the saints may fall into sin, they will never fall from grace. Instead, they will be upheld by God and made to stand forever. VanGemeren comments, ���The Lord establishes the godly, even in times of adversity. He may ���stumble���, either by sinning or by being jealous of the wicked or by the traps laid by the wicked, but he will not fall. . . . The ground for all the blessings is the love of God. He loves ���the just��� and therefore will never forsake ���his faithful ones.��� . . . Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ (Rom. 8:38���39).��� [The Expositor���s Bible Commentary, Vol. 5, 302.] God permanently holds the saints in His hand, and will never allow them to slip through His sovereign grip. He will preserve them forever. ���Steve Lawson, Foundations of Grace (Reformation Trust, 2006), 147���148.

Divine Sovereignty in Proverbs (1)

There is no such thing as luck, and there are no random occurrences. God rules the universe, both in the whole and in its smallest parts. Even the tiniest occurrences in this world, events that seem random, are under Gods directional control: The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord. Proverbs 16:33 Even the smallest occurrences in life fit perfectly into the larger picture of Gods eternal purpose. Nothing is accidental or random. Everything is intentional and purposeful, carried out with divine design. Bridges writes that the casting of the lot is an acknowledgment of absolute Sovereignty; giving up our personal responsibility, and virtually appealing to an Omniscient, Omnipresent, Omnipotent God. It teaches us, that things that we conceive to be accident are really under Providence. What is chance to man is the appointment of God. Simply put, even things that may appear to be chance occurrences are, in fact, under Gods control. Steve Lawson, Foundations of Grace (Reformation Trust, 2006), 152.

Divine Sovereignty in Proverbs (2)

Mans plans cannot alter Gods purpose. What he wills, he will do. Man makes his plans, but what God has determined to do is irrevocably unalterable. Regardless of what man may desire to do, the sovereign will of the Lord will stand: Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. Proverbs 19:21 Man makes his plans, but Gods eternal purpose will prevail. In His sovereignty, God will alter mans plans when they conflict with His will. The purpose of the Lord, Waltke notes, refers to Gods immutable will. His divine plan, determined before time began, endures forever. As for mans plans, God can make them successful or cancel them or bring about the reverse of what people intend. Even the best human plans and efforts cannot stand before Him if He does not will it. People have many plans, but the Lords counsel or purpose will stand. Steve Lawson, Foundations of Grace (Reformation Trust, 2006), 152153.

Radical Depravity in Proverbs

Measuring himself by the wrong standard, the natural man has too high an opinion of himself. The unregenerate are self-deceived. They are astute at rationalizing their sinful behavior and adept at justifying themselves in their own eyes before God: All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit. Proverbs 16:2 The inward corruption of the sin nature causes lost men to live in a perpetual state of self-deception regarding their spiritual state before God. Presuming themselves to be morally clean, they are blind to their true wretched condition. Bridges writes, If man were his own judge, who would be condemned? . . . Man will never believe his real character, until the looking-glass is held to his face with convincing light. . . . He confesses himself indeed to be a sinner. But what his sins are, he knows not. Rather than seeing themselves as God sees them, the unconverted see themselves through self-righteous eyes of sin-excusing deception (12:15; 14:12; 21:2; 30:12) Steve Lawson, Foundations of Grace (Reformation Trust, 2006), 154155.

Divine Sovereignty in Isaiah

In an election year (for those of us in the United States), when so much is at stake, it is comforting to know that no one can thwart Gods will. Gods sovereign control extends to all the nations of the earth. What God has purposed for the world, both in the macro and micro perspective, will surely come to pass: The Lord of hosts has sworn: As I have planned, so shall it be, and as I have purposed, so shall it stand. . . . This is the purpose that is purposed concerning the whole earth, and this is the hand that is stretched out over all the nations. For the Lord of hosts has purposed, and who will annul it? His hand is stretched out, and who will turn it back? Isaiah 14:2427 According to these words recorded by Isaiah, no portion of Gods eternal plan will be left unfulfilled. When God stretches forth His sovereign hand to act, none can turn it back, not even the strongest king or mightiest nation. In these verses, God warned His people that the armies of Assyria under Sennacherib would bring destruction upon their land in due time. This coming devastation of Israel would show that God alone is God, who reigns above. He but speaks and it comes to pass. Concerning this sovereign purpose of God, John Calvin writes, There can be no repentance or change in God (Numbers 23:19); whatever happens, even in the midst of an endless diversity of events, He always remains like Himself, and no occurrence can thwart His purpose. The same irresistible divine sovereignty is shown in Gods salvation of His elect. Steve Lawson, Foundations of Grace (Reformation Trust, 2006), 168.

Definite Atonement in Isaiah

Christ did not bear unspecified griefs and sorrows; the transgressions and iniquities for which he was killed were not theoretical. He was stricken for the transgression of a particular people. Gods Messiah would die an ignominious substitutionary death under the judgment of God as He bore the sins of the elect. By so doing, He would take away the sins of His people: Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. . . . By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? Isaiah 53:48 Isaiah taught that Christ would bear and absorb Gods wrath for the sins of Gods people. As a result, He would justify them. In Chapter 53, Isaiah was referring to those for whom Christ would die when he used such terms as our (vv. 45), all we (v. 6), us all (v. 6), my people (v. 8), his offspring (v. 10), their (v. 11), the transgressors (v. 12), and many (v. 12). The Messiah was to die for the seed born out of His sacrificethe elect. James Montgomery Boice argues, Isaiah 53:6 says that God laid on Jesus the iniquity of us all. But it is clear from the verse immediately before this that the ones for whom Jesus bore iniquity are those who have been brought to a state of peace with God, that is, those who have been justified (cf. Rom. 5:1). Again, they are those who have been healed (v. 5), not those who continue to be spiritually sick or dead. That is to say, Christ died to redeem the elect of God. Concerning these verses, Luther writes, This states the purpose of Christs suffering. It was not for Himself and His own sins, but for our sins and griefs. He bore what we should have suffered. . . . These words, OUR, US, FOR US, must be written in letters of gold. He who does not believe this is not a Christian. . . . This is the supreme and chief article of faith, that our sins, placed on Christ, are not ours; again, that the peace is not Christs but ours. The exclusive terms Isaiah uses for Gods elect designate the intent and extent of the atonement. Christ died exclusively for the elect of God, not for the entire world. Steve Lawson, Foundations of Grace (Reformation Trust, 2006), 178179.

Radical Depravity in Jeremiah

The depravity of man is not merely a state of mind, an attitude that can be changed. It is as fixed as any physical feature, and can only be changed by a miracle. The unregenerate person cannot change his sin nature or act contrary to his wicked heart. His will is essentially imprisoned: Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then also you can do good who are accustomed to do evil. Jeremiah 13:23 Jeremiah unequivocally affirmed that the unbeliever does not have the innate ability to repent of his sin or turn to God for true righteousness. Mans will cannot act contrary to his corrupt nature. A fallen heart can give rise only to a rebellious will that will not submit to God. Concerning this text, John Calvin writes, God declares that the people are so hardened in their wickedness that there is no hope of their repentance. If an Ethiopian washed a hundred times a day, he would still remain black. Jeremiah condemns the Jews for their habitual practice of doing evil. They were unable to repent, for their wickedness had become inherent or firmly fixed in their hearts, like the blackness that is inherent in the skin of the Ethiopians or the spots belonging to the leopard. That is to say, no unregenerate heart can change its nature; it cannot choose contrary to itself toward God. Regarding this startling verse, Charles H. Spurgeon proclaims, You can make yourself filthy by sin, but you cannot make yourself spiritually clean, do what you will. . . . You can do evil all too readily; you can do it with both hands, greedily, and do it again and again, and not grow weary of it; but to return to the right path, this is the difficulty. . . . But remember, dear friends, that, even if an Ethiopian could change his skin, that would be a far smaller difficulty than the one with which a sinner has to deal, for it is not his skin, but his heart, which has to be changed. The unconverted simply cannot change their ways. Steve Lawson, Foundations of Grace (Reformation Trust, 2006), 193.

Irresistible Call in Zechariah

This excerpt has, I suppose, something to annoy almost everyone: the Arminian, with its denial of autonomous free will, and the Replacement theologian, with its affirmation of Gods faithfulness to ethnic Israel. What it should provide is great comfort to every Christian, and greater faith in the God who keeps his promises and unfailingly draws his people to himself. Saving grace is always irresistible grace. It is a work of God that inevitably triumphs in the lives of the elect. Zechariah taught that within the nation of Israel, a remnant would be called to faith in Christ and would surely be converted: And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn. Zechariah 12:10 Zechariah looked ahead to a time when God would pour out His Spirit upon Israel. In that day, Israel would be brought to deep conviction of its sin, especially the sin of crucifying Christ, Zechariah said. At that time, which is still in the future, there will be a great turning to the Lord. God will do a work of sovereign grace in the hearts of many Jews, with the result that all Israel will be saved (Rom. 11:26)a reference to the vast majority in Israel. God will pour out His Spirit on the house of David, bringing conviction of sin and granting true repentance, so that many will call upon His name with saving faith. In other words, God Himself will overcome the natural inclination of the uncoverted heart, which is not able to seek God in and of itself. Recognizing the absolute certainty of this fulfillment, MacArthur writes, God, in His own perfect time and by His own power, will sovereignly act to save Israel. Boice adds that Israels understanding of Christs crucifixion will come about by the power of Gods Holy Spirit, for it is only as God pours out a spirit of grace and supplication that the repentance and turning depicted in these verses occurs. It is only by the power of Gods Holy Spirit that they occur anywhere or to anyone. It is Gods Spirit who causes unconverted sinners to look to the Savior they have long rejected. This is the basis of every true conversion. Steve Lawson, Foundations of Grace (Reformation Trust, 2006), 235.

Lord’s Day 5, 2014

I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.” Then Aaron shall lay both of his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the sons of Israel and all their transgressions in regard to all their sins; and he shall lay them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who stands in readiness. The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to a solitary land; and he shall release the goat in the wilderness. —Leviticus 16:21–22 Hymns of Thanksgiving Hymn XIV. Thanksgiving for the Suffering of Christ. Augustus Toplady (1740–1778) O thou who didst thy glory leave Apostate sinners to retrieve From nature’s deadly fall; He thou hast purchased with a price, Nor shall my crimes in judgment rise, For thou hast borne them all. Jesus was punished in my stead, Without the gate my Surety bled, To expiate my stain; On earth the Godhead deign’d to dwell, And made of infinite avail, The suff’rings of the man. And was he for his rebels giv’n? He was: th’ incarnate King of heav’n Did for his foes expire; Amaz’d, O earth, the tidings hear— He bore, that we might never bear, His Father’s righteous ire. Ye saints, the man of sorrows bless, The God for your unrighteousness Deputed to atone: Praise him till, with the heav’nly throng, Ye sing the never-ending song, And see him on his throne. —The Complete Works of Augustus Toplady (Sprinkle Publications, 1987). Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Please don’t miss worshiping with your local congregation if you can possibly help it. But if you’re in need of a good sermon, try these. Tweets about "sermon from:thethirstytheo" !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);;js.src=p+"://";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");
The year of Jubilee (Leviticus 25) is frequently used by advocates of “social justice” to advance their social and political agendas. In What Is the Mission of the Church?, DeYoung and Gilbert give several reasons why that is a misuse of the text. Those reasons can be boiled down to two factors: Jubilee didn’t do most of what “social justice” advocates think it did, and even if it had, we aren’t Israel. But that just addresses what Jubilee was not. More importantly, we must see what Jubilee is: Jesus is Jubilee. When Jesus read from the Isaiah scroll in Luke 4, his simple message was, in effect, “I am Jubilee.” He did not lay out a plan to accomplish social reform. Instead he stated matter-of-factly, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21). All that Jubilee pointed to and more were realized at the revealing of Jesus in Nazareth. The best news of Leviticus 25 found its fullest expression in the good news of Jesus Christ. —Kevin DeYoung & Greg Gilbert, What Is the Mission of the Church? (Crossway, 2011), 153.

Arky-Arky Malarkey

If Hollywood makes a movie on any religious theme, they are going to get it wrong. That’s my presupposition, which is based on 1 Corinthians 2:14 and Romans 8:6–8, and it has never let me down. Consequently, I am never among the crowds of neo-evangelicals quivering with excitement over the next big theatrical “opportunity for the gospel.” Still, I’m thankful for the discerning and non-quivering few who are willing to take one for the team, pay the cash, sacrifice the time, and see the junk I don’t want to so I can read their reviews and, unfailingly thus far, have my presuppositions affirmed. Most recently, the Big Deal has been Noah. Here are my favorite reviews: Sympathy for the Devil I’m a Christian and I think “Noah” deserves a four star review Great review, in spite of the honorable mention given to The Passion of the Christ. Noah Probably Would Have Sued For Defamation A No Holds Barred Review of Noah : The Movie (2014) I know it’s been said that we can’t judge movies by the same standards as sermons, but I disagree. As I said in my critique of Spiderman 3, “whenever anyone, whether Christian, Roman Catholic, Jew, Muslim, or atheist opens his mouth on anything touching on God, theology, or spirituality, he is obligated to get it right.” Furthermore, any retelling of Noah’s story that isn’t deliberately gospel-centered is wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. I explain why here: Baptism in 1 Peter 3.

Shadow and Substance

As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life. —John 3:14 15 The brazen serpent was an antetype (earlier type) of Christ. Put another way, the serpent was the shadow, Christ is the substance. Smeaton compares the two. 1. The raising of the brazen serpent on the pole or banner-staff, and the lifting up of Christ upon the cross. These two are related as shadow and substance—the one being prophetic of the other. Nor is this by any means to be regarded as a subordinate point, as certain expositors suppose. For, in the first place, the repetition of the verb “lifted up” in the two contrasted clauses, and then the correlation of the two particles, as and so, unite to prove that the one is to be viewed as type, and the other as [antetype]. 2. The two objects here named were, in two different respects, according to the appointment and command of God, to be regarded with a trustful and confident look. Men were directed to look to them with unhesitating confidence, according to the divine appointment, for salvation. 3. The instant effect of that look was to bring deliverance and health. This is the direct and obvious point of comparison, into which the whole statement is naturally to be resolved. It takes for granted believing confidence in the divinely appointed remedy, but implies that there is an instant communication of life in connection with a look at the crucified One. 4. . . . the brazen serpent was only made like the poisonous serpents, yet without their poison, and that Christ was in all points made like unto His brethren, yet without sin. It is not only warrantable to add this further point of resemblance with many of the best commentators, but it is necessary. It is true, the great point . . . of the comparison is, that the lifting up of the brazen serpent healed the wounded Israelite, and that Christ crucified delivers perishing men from eternal death. But we must also take in this point. The serpent was only in appearance like the noxious creatures that had caused lamentation and woe in the camp of Israel, but not one of them; and, in like manner, Christ was made in the likeness of sinful flesh, or made in all points like the brethren, yet without sin. —George Smeaton, Christ’s Doctrine of the Atonement (Banner of Truth, 2009), 261–262.


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