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The Trinity

(42 posts)

Theology 101: The Trinity

Wednesday··2006·11·22 · 23 Comments
I was thirty years old before I actually encountered anyone who called themselves Christians and denied the Trinity. I had heard that such people existed, but outside the Jehovah’s Witnesses, I didn’t know who they were. Then, when we moved to this small town in North Dakota, we met a character who had recently left the same church that we began attending. He was a self-styled teacher with a very overpowering personality who had managed to gather a small group of very committed disciples and formed his own “church,” renting a church building in a neighboring town. A few years ago, this little cult built its own facility just a few blocks up the street from our house. This post is, in a nutshell, what I told one of them when I had the occasion to discuss it, along with a few comments to Trinitarians who explain it badly. There is one true God, eternally existent in three persons. There is only one God. In no sense are there three. “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one!” (Deuteronomy 6:4, and quoted again by Jesus in Mark 12:29). “Has not one God created us?” (Malachi 2:10). God is always spoken of as singular. God is always “he,” never “they.” He reigns over the kingdom of God, not the kingdom of the gods. In Luke 18, Jesus is addressed as “Good Teacher.” His reply: “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.” God is three distinct persons. In no sense are they one. All three exist simultaneously and eternally. The Father is God. The Son is God. The Holy Spirit is God. The Father is never the Son or the Holy Spirit. The Son is never the Father or the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is never the Father or the Son. The Trinity is revealed in Scripture from the very beginning. In Genesis 1:2, “the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.” Farther along in verse 26 we find God talking to himself: “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.” Who was God talking to? Why the plural pronouns? Four thousand years later, John the Apostle wrote of Christ: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being” (John 1:1–3). The Son was present in the beginning, and participated in creation. “Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to His disciples, ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray.’ . . . And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, ’My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.’ . . . He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done.’” (Matthew 26:36, 39, 42). Who was Jesus praying to? Was he putting on an act, going through the motions of prayer in order to set an example for his disciples, as some have said? If so, what does that tell us about him? If true, it tells us that God is an actor, a deceiver, a manipulator who plays with our minds like faith-healers and “revival” preachers. No, Jesus, being God, is incapable of any kind of deceit. He was praying to his Father, as one distinct person to another. The Trinity is probably most clearly demonstrated at Jesus’s baptism: “After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.’” (Matthew 3:16–17). Jesus was in the Jordan, the Holy Spirit descended upon him, and the Father spoke from Heaven—three distinct persons in three distinct places—simultaneously. God does not appear at different times and places in different roles or modes. His triunity may not be compared to the way in which we fill different positions yet remain one person, as one man may be a son, husband, father, grandfather, employer or employee, etc., all at once. That is the Modalist heresy. God also cannot be described as many Trinitarians have attempted to describe him: The Trinity is not like an egg—yolk, white, shell. The Trinity is not like an apple—skin, flesh, seeds. The Trinity is not like water—liquid, solid, vapor. The Trinity is not like time—past, present, future. The Trinity is not like space—height, depth, width. The Trinity is not any other metaphor you’ve thought of. I know, some of you can’t stand not having an explanation for everything. You are very creative and imaginative and love thinking these things up. Well, stop it! You almost persuade me to become a modalist. The Bible tells us quite clearly that God is triune. It does not even begin to tell us how that is so.

Trinity in Unity

Friday··2007·08·31 · 4 Comments
Yesterday’s post on Athanasius and the Arian heresy got me started thinking again about something that has been on my mind a lot lately—the Trinity. In particular, I was thinking about a statement made by someone in one of the large apostate denominations attempting to remove “sexist” language from our understanding of the Trinity. The proposal was to refer to the members of the Godhead as “Creator,” “Redeemer,” and “Sustainer.” While I immediately rejected the discarding of “Father,” “Son,” and “Holy Spirit,” I saw no problem with “Creator,” “Redeemer,” and “Sustainer.” At least they weren’t calling God “Mother.” However, since then I have been prompted to consider the nature of the Trinity more carefully, and I have concluded that these designations lack the necessary precision for describing the individual persons of the Godhead. I present the following propositions: 1a. The Father alone is not the creator. 1b. The Father is not only the creator. 2a. The Son alone is not the redeemer. 2b. The Son is not only the redeemer. 3a. The Spirit alone is not the sustainer. 3b. The Spirit is not only the sustainer. The persons of the Trinity are inseparably bound together in all things. They do nothing independently of the others. Therefore, they cannot be described in terms of individual roles, but only by their names—the names given in Scripture.

The Trinity and Adoption

The gospel is inherently Trinitarian. Joel Beeke shows how one aspect of the gospel, spiritual adoption, is an act of Trinitarian cooperation: The puritans emphasize that all the members of the Trinity are involved in our adoption. Stephen Marshall summarizes it this way: adoption is the gracious act of God the Father whereby he chooses us, calls us to himself, and gives us the privileges and blessings of being his children. God the Son earned those blessings for us through his propitiatory death and sacrifice, by which we become children of God (1 John 4:10), and applies them to us as Elder Brother. And the Holy Spirit changes us from children of wrath, which we are by nature, into children of God by means of regeneration; unites us to Christ; works in us a “suitable disposition” towards God and Christ; and seals our sonship as the Spirit of adoption, witnessing with our spirits that we are the sons of God. In that witnessing, the Spirit shows us God’s work of grace in our hearts and lives, and also “carries our hearts to God, and testifies to the Soul that God is [our] Father.” —Joel R. Beeke, Heirs with Christ: The Puritans on Adoption (Reformation Heritage, 2008), 45–46.

Horror and Glory

Sinclair Ferguson on the priesthood of Christ: [O]n the Day of Atonement, Aaron slew a sacrifice, entered the Holy of Holies with the blood, and poured it out on the mercy seat between the cherubim (Lev. 16:15–16). This ritual was an acted parable, a copy of what Christ was to do on the great day when He made atonement. The blood of animals is both inappropriate and inadequate to provide the cleansing necessary to approach God. Animal sacrifice could not atone for human sin. Neither could any finite individual atone for sin against the infinite God. Only the blood of the divine image incarnate could cleanse our sin and enable us to enter safely into the presence of God, who is a consuming fire (Heb. 1:3; 12:29). The work of atonement took place in the presence of the God of heaven. Indeed, it involved a transaction within the fellowship of the persons of the eternal Trinity in their love for us; the Son was willing, with the aid of the Spirit, to experience the hiding of the Father’s face. The shedding of the blood of God’s Son opened the way to God for us (Acts 20:28). That is both the horror and the glory of our Great High Priest’s ministry. —Sinclair Ferguson, In Christ Alone: Living the Gospel Centered Life (Reformation Trust, 2007), 54–55.

A Heavenly Transaction

Sinclair Ferguson on the Trinitarian transaction that sent the Holy Spirit: [T]he coming of the Spirit indicated that a heavenly transaction had taken place. The often-overlooked words of Acts 2:33 record it: “being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit. . . .” Here, momentarily, a door into heaven is opened and we are given a glimpse into the fellowship between the Son and the Father. The ascended Son comes to the Father. What will he say? “Father, do you remember what you promised the Great King? You said, ‘Ask of me, and I will give you the nations for your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for your possession’ (Ps. 2:8). You said about the Suffering Servant, ‘Behold, My Servant . . . Kings shall shut their mouths at him. . . . He shall see his seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand. . . . I will divide Him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul unto death . . .’ (Isa. 52:13, 15; 53:10, 12). Father, fulfill your promises to me.” How was this world-wide dominion to be established? All authority now belonged to Jesus. He had promised that the disciples would receive the Holy Spirit and He would give them power to become witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and then to the ends of the earth. The disciples, therefore, would go into all the world proclaiming Jesus. He would be with them to the end—through the presence of the Spirit-witness. —Sinclair Ferguson, In Christ Alone: Living the Gospel Centered Life (Reformation Trust, 2007), 90–91.

Five Truths about God

J I. Packer lists “five basic truths, five foundational principles” that will form the foundation of his study of God. 1. God has spoken to man, and the Bible is his Word, given to us to make us wise unto salvation. 2. God is Lord and King over this world; he rules all things for his own glory, displaying his perfections in all that he does, in order that men and angels may worship and adore him. 3. God is Savior, active in sovereign love through the Lord Jesus Christ to rescue believers from the guilt and power of sin, to adopt them as his children and to bless them accordingly. 4. God is triune; there are within the Godhead three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; and the work of salvation is one in which all three act together, the Father purposing redemption, the Son securing it and the Spirit applying it. 5. Godliness means responding to God’s revelation in trust and obedience, faith and worship, prayer and praise, submission and service. Life must be seen and lived in the light of God’s Word. This, and nothing else, is true religion. —J. I. Packer, Knowing God (InterVarstity Press, 1993), 20.
What does the statement that Jesus is the Son of God mean? Jews and Muslims maintain that this claim makes Christianity polytheistic. Unitarians and Jehovah’s Witnesses, on the other hand, believe that the biblical designation Son of God indicates that Jesus was a unique being, in a special class by himself, but still a created being not possessing divinity in the same sense as the Father. This is not a new idea, but goes back to the Arian heresy of the first century AD. Even before that, the phrase Son of God was not commonly understood in the biblical sense. John’s Gospel was written to present Jesus as the Son of God to peoples who would have been confused by the title, Jews who used it as a title for the coming human Messiah, and Greeks whose mythology included many sons of gods. John’s Gospel was concerned with destroying those misconceptions and introducing the Son of God as no less than God Incarnate. Packer writes, [John] does not bring the term Son into his opening sentences at all, instead, he speaks first of the Word. There was no danger of this being misunderstood; Old Testament readers would pick up the reference at once. God’s Word in the Old Testament is his creative utterance, his power in action fulfilling his purpose. The Old Testament depicted God’s utterance, the actual statement of his purpose, as having power in itself to the effect the thing proposed. Genesis 1 tells us how at creation “God said, Let here be . . . and there was . . .” (1:3). “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made. . . . He spoke, and it came to be” (Ps 33:6, 9). The Word of God is thus God at work. John takes up this figure and proceeds to tell us seven things about the divine Word. (1) “In the beginning was the Word” (1:1). Here is the Word’s eternity. He had no beginning of his own; when other things began, he—was. (2) “And the Word was with God” (1:1). Here is the Word’s personality. The power that fulfills God’s purposes is the power of a distinct personal being, one who stands in an eternal relation to God of active fellowship . . . (3) “And the Word was God” (1:1). Here is the Word’s deity. Though personally distinct from the Father, he is not a creature; he is divine in himself, as the Father is. The mystery with which this verse confronts us is thus the mystery of personal distinctions within the unity of the Godhead. (4) “Through him all things were made” (1:3). Here is the Word creating. He was the Father’s agent in every act of making that the Father has ever performed. All that was made was made through him. . . . (5) “In him was life” (1:4). Here is the Word animating. There is no physical life in the realm of created things except in and through him. Here is the Bible answer to the problem of the origin and suntenance of life, in all its forms: life is given and maintained by the Word. Created things do not have life in themselves, but life in the Word, the second person of the Godhead. (6) “and that life was the light of men” (1:4). Here is the Word revealing. In giving life, he gives light too; that is to say, all people receive intimations of God from the very fact of being alive in God’s world, and this, no less than the fact that they are alive, is due to the work of the Word. (7) “The Word became flesh” (1:14). Here is the Word incarnate. The baby in the manger at Bethlehem was none other than the eternal Word of God. And now, having shown us who and what the Word is—a divine Person, author of all things—John indicates an identification. The Word, he tells us, was revealed by the Incarnation to be God’s Son. “We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father” (1:14). The identification is confirmed in verse 18: “The only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father” (KJV). Thus John establishes the point at which he was aiming throughout. He has now made it clear what is meant by calling Jesus the Son of God. The Son of God is the Word of God. We see what the Word is; well, that is what the Son is. Such in the prologue’s message. When, therefore, the Bible proclaims Jesus as the Son of God, the statement is meant as an assertion of his distinct personal deity. The Christmas message rests on the staggering fact the child in the manger was—God. —J. I. Packer, Knowing God (InterVarsity Press, 1993), 56–57.

The Holy Spirit (2)

Wednesday··2008·11·12 · 1 Comments
Continuing from where we left off yesterday, J. I. Packer laments the general ignorance of the person and work of the Holy Spirit among Christians. It is startling to see how differently the biblical teaching about the second and third persons of the Trinity respectively is treated. The person and work of Christ have been, and remain, subjects of constant debate within the church; yet the person and work of the Holy spirit are largely ignored. The doctrine of the Holy Spirit is the Cinderella of Christian Doctrines. Comparatively few seem to be interested in it. Many excellent books have been written on the person and work of Christ, but the number of books worth reading on the person and work of the Holy Spirit, even in this charismatic era is small. Christian people are not in doubt as to the work that Christ did; they know that he redeemed us by his atoning death even if they differ among themselves as to what exactly this involved. But the average Christian, deep down, is in a complete fog as to what work the Holy Spirit does. Some talk of the Spirit of Christ in the way that one would talk of the spirit of Christmas—as a vague cultural pressure for making bonhomie and religiosity. Some think of the Spirit as inspiring the moral convictions of unbelievers like Ghandi or the theosophical mysticism of a Rudolf Steiner. But most, perhaps, do not think of the Holy Spirit at all, and have no positive ideas of any sort about what he does. They are for practical purposes in the same position as the disciples whom Paul met at Ephesus—“We have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit” (Acts 19:2). It is an extraordinary thing that those who profess to care so much about Christ would know and care so little about the Holy Spirit. Christians are aware of the difference it would make if, after all, it transpired that there had never been an incarnation or atonement. They know that then they would be lost, for they would have no savior. But many Christians have really no idea what difference it would make if there were no Holy Spirit in the world. Whether in that case they, or the church, would suffer in any way they just do not know. Surely something is amiss here. How can we justify neglecting the ministry of Christ’s appointed agent in this way? Is it not a hollow fraud to say that we honor Christ when we ignore, and by ignoring dishonor, the One whom Christ has sent us as his deputy, to take his place and care for us on his behalf? Ought we not to concern ourselves more about the Holy Spirit than we do? —J. I. Packer, Knowing God (InterVarsity Press, 1993), 68–69.

The Holy Spirit (3)

J I Packer answers the question, “Is the work of the Holy Spirit really important?” Important! Why, were it not for the work of the Holy Spirit there would be no gospel, no faith, no church, no Christianity in the world at all. In the first place, without the Holy Spirit there would be no gospel and no New Testament. When Christ left the world, he committed his cause to his disciples. He made them responsible for going and making disciples of all nations. “Ye . . . shall bear witness,” he told them in the upper room (Jn 15:27 KJV). “You will be my witnesses . . . to the ends of the earth,” were his parting words to them on Olivet, before he ascended (Acts 1:8). Such was their appointed task, but what sort of witnesses were they likely to prove? They had never been good pupils; they had consistently failed to understand Christ and missed the point of his teaching throughout his earthly ministry; how could they be expected to do better now that he had gone? Was it not virtually certain that, with the best will in the world, they would soon get the truth of the gospel inextricably mixed up with a mass of well-meant misconceptions, and their witness would rapidly be reduced to a twisted, garbled, hopeless muddle? The answer to the question is no—because Christ sent the Holy Spirit to them, to teach them all truth and so save them from all error, to remind them of what they had been taught already and to reveal to them the rest of what their Lord meant them to learn. “The Counselor . . . will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (Jn 14:26). “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will speak only what he hears” (that is, he would make known to them all that Christ would instruct him to tell them, just as Christ had made known to them all that the Father had instructed him to tell them . . . The promise was that, taught by the Spirit, these original disciples should be enabled to speak as so many mouths of Christ so that, just as the Old Testament prophets had been able to introduce their sermons with the words, “Thus says the Lord Jehovah,” so the New Testament apostles might with equal truth be able to say of their teaching, oral or written, “Thus says the Lord Jesus Christ.” And the thing happened. The Spirit came to the disciples and testified to them of Christ and his salvation, according the promise. . . . Hence the gospel, and hence the New Testament. But the world would have had neither without the Holy Spirit. Nor is this all. In the second place, without the Holy Spirit there would be no faith and no new birth—in short, no Christians. The light of the gospel shines; but “the god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers” (2 Cor 4:4) and the blind do not respond to the stimulus of light. As Christ told Nicodemus, “No one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again” (Jn 3:3; compare v. 5). . . . What follows, then? Should we conclude that preaching the gospel is a waste of time and write off evangelism as a hopeless enterprise, foredoomed to fail? No, because the spirit abides with the church to testify of Christ. To the apostles, he testified by revealing and inspiring, as we saw. To the rest of us, down the ages, he testifies by illuminating: opening blinded eyes, restoring spiritual vision, enabling sinners to see that the gospel is indeed God’s truth, and Scripture is indeed God’s Word, and Christ is indeed God’s Son. “When he [the Spirit] comes,” our Lord promised, “he will convince the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” (Jn 16:8 RSV). . . . Paul points the way here: “When I came to you, brethren, I did not come proclaiming to you the Testimony of God in lofty words of wisdom. . . . My speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (1 Cor 2:1–5 RSV). And because the Spirit does bear witness in this way, people come to faith when the gospel is preached. But without the Spirit there would not be a Christian in the world. —J. I. Packer, Knowing God (InterVarsity Press, 1993), 69–71.

Hymns of My Youth: Praise Ye the Father

Saturday··2010·08·21 · 1 Comments
Today’s hymn, like last week’s, is another that I don’t believe I have ever sung in a worship service. I suspect the tune, Integer Vitae, was judged to ponderous for congregational singing. If so, I would disagree strenuously. I think I learned this hymn when I sang it with a Bible camp choir one summer. It is a beautiful song of Trinitarian praise, and one that certainly ought to be sung for Lord’s Day worship. 17 Praise Ye the FatherPraise ye the Father for His lovingkindness; Tenderly cares He for His erring children; Praise Him, ye angels, praise Him in the heavens, Praise ye Jehovah. Praise ye the Savior, great is His compassion; Graciously cares He for His chosen people; Young men and maidens, ye old men and children, Praise ye the Savior. Praise ye the Spirit, Comforter of Israel, Sent of the Father and the Son to bless us, Praise ye the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Praise ye the Triune God. —The Concordia Hymnal (Augsburg Publishing House, 1960).

Christology in John 12:27–28

“Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name.” Then a voice came out of heaven: “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.” —John 12:27–28 Just a few of the doctrines found in this passage: The humanity of Jesus: “My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, ‘Father, save Me from this hour’?” Nor was it unsuitable that the Son of God should be troubled in this manner; for the Divine nature, being concealed, and not exerting its force, may be said to have reposed, in order to give an opportunity of making expiation. But Christ himself was clothed, not only with our flesh, but with human feelings. In him, no doubt, those feelings were voluntary; for he feared, not through constraint, but because he had, of his own accord, subjected himself to fear. And yet we ought to believe, that it was not in pretense, but in reality, that he feared; though he differed from other men in this respect, that he had all his feelings regulated in obedience to the righteousness of God, as we have said elsewhere. There is also another advantage which it yields to us. If the dread of death had occasioned no uneasiness to the Son of God, which of us would have thought that his example was applicable to our case? For it has not been given to us to die without, feeling of regret; but when we learn that He had not within him a hardness like stone or iron, we summon courage to follow him, and the weakness of the flesh, which makes us tremble at death, does not hinder us from becoming the companions of our General in struggling with it. —John Calvin, Calvin’s Commentaries Volume XVIII, Commentary on the Gospel according to John, Volume II (Baker Books, 2009), 32. Jesus’ submission to the Father’s will: “But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name.” But it may be thought, that it is unbecoming in the Son of God rashly to utter a wish which he must immediately retract, in order to obey his Father. I readily admit, that this is the folly of the cross, which gives offense to proud men; but the more the Lord of glory humbled himself, so much the more illustrious is the manifestation of his vast love to us. Besides, we ought to recollect what I have already stated, that the human feelings, from which Christ was not exempt, were in him pure and free from sin. The reason is, that they were guided and regulated in obedience to God; for there is nothing to prevent Christ from having a natural dread of death, and yet desiring to obey God. This holds true in various respects: and hence he corrects himself by saying, For this cause came I into this hour. For though he may lawfully entertain a dread of death, yet, considering why he was sent, and what his office as Redeemer demands from him, he presents to his Father the dread which arose out of his natural disposition, in order that it may be subdued, or rather, having subdued it, he prepares freely and willingly to execute the command of God. Now, if the feelings of Christ, which were free from all sin, needed to be restrained in this manner, how earnestly ought we to apply to this object, since the numerous affections which spring from our flesh are so many enemies to God in us! Let the godly, therefore, persevere in doing violence to themselves, until they have denied themselves. —Ibid., 33–34. The Trinity: “‘Father, glorify Your name.’ Then a voice came out of heaven: ‘I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.’” It surprises me that neither Calvin nor any of my other commentaries directly address the Trinitarian doctrine in this text. J. C. Ryle touches on it implicitly, as does John MacArthur: For the third time in Christ’s earthly ministry, the Father’s voice came audibly out of heaven. On the other occasions, at Jesus’ baptism (Matt. 3:17) and the transfiguration (Matt. 17:5), the Father’s voice affirmed that He was pleased with His Son. Now, as the cross approached, Christ’s impending death in no way signified His disapproval. On the contrary, just as He had already glorified His name through Jesus’ life and ministry, He would glorify it again through His death. Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and His resurrection would mark not only the successful completion of the mission the Father had given Him to “seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10) and to “give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45), but also His return to His full glory in the Father’s presence. —John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: John 12–21 (Moody, 2008), 40.

Lord’s Day 44, 2010

I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.” The Beloved Son.Horatius Bonar (1808–1889) “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.” —Matt. iii. 17. It is the Father's voice that cries ’Mid the deep silence of the skies, “This, this is my beloved Son, In Him I joy, in Him alone.” In Him my equal see revealed, In Him all righteousness fulfilled; In Him, the Lamb, the victim see, Bound, bleeding, dying on the tree. And can you fail to love again? Far fairer he than sons of men! His very name is fragrance poured, Inmianuel, Jesus, Saviour, Lord! He died, and in his dying, proved How much, how faithfully he loved; At my right hand, his glories shine: Is my beloved, sinner, thine? O full of glory, full of grace, Redeemer of a ruined race, Beloved of the Father, come, Make in these sinful hearts a home! Beloved of the Father, Thou, To whom the saints and angels bow; Lnmanuel, Jesus, Saviour, come, Make in these sinful hearts thy home! —Horatius Bonar, Hymns of Faith and Hope, First Series (James Nisbet & Co., 1878). John 14:27–31 Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. 28 You heard that I said to you, ‘I go away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 Now I have told you before it happens, so that when it happens, you may believe. 30 I will not speak much more with you, for the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in Me; 31 but so that the world may know that I love the Father, I do exactly as the Father commanded Me. Get up, let us go from here.” We ought not to leave the closing portion of this wonderful chapter without noticing one striking feature in it. That feature is the singular frequency with which our Lord uses the expression, “My Father,” and “the Father.” In the last five verses we find it four times. In the whole chapter it occurs no less than twenty-two times. In this respect the chapter stands alone in the Bible. The reason of this frequent use of the expression, is a deep subject. Perhaps the less we speculate and dogmatize about it the better. Our Lord was one who never spoke a word without a meaning, and we need not doubt there was a meaning here. Yet may we not reverently suppose that He desired to leave on the minds of His disciples a strong impression of his entire unity with the Father? Seldom does our Lord lay claim to such high dignity, and such power of giving and supplying comfort to His Church, as in this discourse. Was there not, then, a fitness in His continually reminding His disciples that in all His giving He was one with the Father, and did nothing without the Father? This, at any rate, seems a fair conjecture. Let it be taken for what it is worth. We should observe, for one thing, in this passage, Christ’s last legacy to His people. We find Him saying, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you.” Peace is Christ’s distinctive gift: not money, not worldly ease, not temporal prosperity. These are at best very questionable possessions. They often do more harm than good to the soul. They act as clogs and weights to our spiritual life. Inward peace of conscience, arising from a sense of pardoned sin and reconciliation with God, is a far greater blessing. This peace is the property of all believers, whether high or low, rich or poor. The peace which Christ gives He calls “my peace.” It is specially His own to give, because He bought it by His own blood, purchased it by His own substitution, and is appointed by the Father to dispense it to a perishing world. Just as Joseph was sealed and commissioned to give corn to the starving Egyptians, so is Christ specially commissioned, in the counsels of the Eternal Trinity, to give peace to mankind. The peace that Christ gives is not given as the world gives. What He gives the world cannot give at all, and what He gives is given neither unwillingly, nor sparingly, nor for a little time. Christ is far more willing to give than the world is to receive. What He gives He gives to all eternity, and never takes away. He is ready to give abundantly above all that we can ask or think. “Open thy mouth wide,” He says, “and I will fill it.” (Psalm lxxxi. 10.) Who can wonder that a legacy like this should be backed by the renewed emphatic charge, “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid?” There is nothing lacking on Christ’s part for our comfort, if we will only come to Him, believe, and receive. The chief of sinners has no cause to be afraid. If we will only look to the one true Saviour, there is medicine for every trouble of heart. Half our doubts and fears arise from dim perceptions of the real nature of Christ’s Gospel. We should observe, for another thing, in this passage, Christ’s perfect holiness. We find Him saying, “The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in Me.” The meaning of these remarkable words admits of only one interpretation. Our Lord would have his disciples know that Satan, “the prince of this world,” was about to make his last and most violent attack on Him. He was mustering all his strength for one more tremendous onset. He was coming up with his utmost malice to try the second Adam in the garden of Gethsemane, and on the cross of Calvary. But our blessed Master declares, “He hath nothing in Me.”—“There is nothing he can lay hold on. There is no weak and defective point in Me. I have kept my Father’s commandment, and finished the work He gave me to do. Satan, therefore, cannot overthrow Me. He can lay nothing to my charge. He cannot condemn Me. I shall come forth from the trial more than conqueror.” Let us mark the difference between Christ and all others who have been born of woman. He is the only one in whom Satan has found “nothing.” He came to Adam and Eve, and found weakness. He came to Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and all the saints, and found imperfection. He came to Christ, and found “nothing” at all. He was a Lamb “without blemish and without spot,” a suitable Sacrifice for a world of sinners, a suitable Head for a redeemed race. Let us thank God that we have such a perfect, sinless Saviour; that His righteousness is a perfect righteousness, and His life a blameless life. In ourselves and our doings we shall find everything imperfect; and if we had no other hope than our own goodness, we might well despair. But in Christ we have a perfect, sinless, Representative and Substitute. Well may we say, with the triumphant Apostle, “Who shall lay anything to our charge?” (Rom. vii. 33.) Christ hath died for us, and suffered in our stead. In Him Satan can find nothing. We are hidden in Him. The Father sees us in Him, unworthy as we are, and for His sake is well pleased. —J. C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels (Baker Books, 2007) [Westminster (PB) | Amazon (HC)]. 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");

Hymns of My Youth: The Church’s One Foundation

Today’s hymn is from the “Church” section of the Concordia. 80 The Church’s One Foundation The Church’s one foundation Is Jesus Christ her Lord; She is His new creation By water and the Word: From heaven He came and sought her To be His holy bride; With His own blood He bought her, And for her life He died. Elect from every nation, Yet one o’er all the earth; Her charter of salvation, One Lord, one faith, one birth; One holy Name she blesses, Partakes one holy food; And to one hope she presses, With ev’ry grace endued. ’Mid toil and tribulation, And tumult of her war, She waits the consummation Of peace forevermore; Till, with the vision glorious Her longing eyes are blest, And the great Church victorious, Shall be the Church at rest. Yet she on earth hath union With God the Three in One, And mystic sweet communion With those whose rest is won: Oh, happy ones and holy! Lord, give us grace that we, Like them, the meek and lowly, On high may dwell with Thee. —The Concordia Hymnal (Augsburg Publishing House, 1960). The traditional tune for this hymn, Aurelia, was written by Samuel Sebastian Wesley (1810–1876), grandson of Charles Wesley.

Hymns of My Youth: Come, Thou Almighty King

237 Come, Thou Almighty King Come, Thou almighty King, Help us Thy Name to sing, Help us to praise! Father all glorious, O’er all victorious, Come and reign over us, Ancient of Days! Jesus, our Lord, descend; From all our foes defend, Nor let us fall; Let Thine almighty aid Our sure defense be made; Our souls on Thee be stay’d; Lord, hear our call! Come, Thou incarnate Word, Gird on Thy mighty sword, Our prayer attend! Come, and Thy people bless, And give Thy Word success; Spirit of holiness, On us descend. Come, holy Comforter, Thy sacred witness bear In this glad hour. Thou Who almighty art, Now rule in every heart, And ne’er from us depart, Spirit of power! To Thee, great One in Three, Eternal praises be, Hence, evermore; Thy sovereign majesty May we in glory see, And to eternity Love and adore. —The Concordia Hymnal (Augsburg Publishing House, 1960).

Hymns of My Youth: A Mighty Fortress

Saturday··2011·05·14 · 1 Comments
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. —Psalm 46:1 This is one hymn that no Lutheran hymnal can be without. I have no explanation for the unique lyrics. I have found other alternate translations, but I have not seen this version anywhere else. 239 A Mighty Fortress Is Our God A mighty fortress is our God, a trusty shield and weapon; Our help is He in all our need, Our stay whate’er doth happen; For still our ancient foe Doth seek to work us woe; Strong mail and craft and power He weareth in this hour; On Earth is not his equal. Stood we alone in our own might our striving would be losing; For us the one true Man doth fight, The Man of God’s own choosing. Who is this chosen One? ’Tis Jesus Christ, the Son, The Lord of hosts, ’tis He Who wins the victory In ev’ry field of battle. And were the world with devils filled, All watching to devour us, Our souls to fear we need not yield, They cannot overpower us; Their dreaded Prince no more Can harm us as of yore; His rage we can endure; for lo! his doom is sure, A word shall overthrow him. Still they must leave God’s word its might, For which no thanks they merit; Still He is with us in the fight, With His good gifts and Spirit. And should they, in the strife, Take kindred, goods, and life, We freely let them go, They profit not the foe; With us remains the kingdom. —The Concordia Hymnal (Augsburg Publishing House, 1960).

And on that farm, he had an elephant. EIEIO.

. . . but he didn’t think it was really an elephant; we are enjoined to wait and see. Dan Phillips wonders what T. D. Jakes really believes. Along with the rest of us, he hopes James MacDonald’s Elephant Room thingiewhatever will clear it all up. Okay, not really. Among other serious theological transgressions, Jakes has pretty clearly shown his modalist colors (while carefully not quite affirming or denying any specific Trinitarian view). But MacDonald says we should reserve judgment until Jakes speaks his piece (again), so I suppose I can play along. As I do, however, I don’t think it unfair to lay out my expectations. For Jakes to escape his current heretic status, and rescue MacDonald from buffoonery, he will have to clearly articulate at least the most basic Trinitarian theology, as seen in the image below. It would be even better if he would say, “Yes, I believe in the Trinity as affirmed in the Nicene Creed,” but I’ll keep my expectations to a minimum. Simple enough? I leave you to speculate on how that will mesh with this.

Above All Names

Faith in Christ requires an understanding of who he is. Jesus is Savior, and Jesus is Lord (Acts 2:36). Therefore, faith in Christ is infallibly marked not only by trust in his saving work, but also by submission to his Lordship. The New Testament’s names and titles for Jesus make for a rich and inspiring study. But what is the name that God has given Jesus, the name that is above every name? It often happens that Christians who read this passage assume that the name that is above every name is the name Jesus. But Paul had a different name in mind. He went on to say that God has exalted Christ and given Him the name above every name, “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:10–11). The name that is above every name is the title that belongs only to God, Adonai (“Lord”), which refers to God as the sovereign one. Because of Jesus’ perfect obedience in the role of a slave, God moved heaven and earth to exalt His Son, and He gave Him the name that is above every name, so that when we hear the name of Jesus, our impulse should be to fall on our knees and confess that He is Lord to the glory of God the Father. When we do so, when we exalt Christ in this way, we also exalt the Father. —R. C. Sproul, The Work of Christ (David C. Cook, 2012), 16–17.

God Speaks in Him

Hebrews 1:3 tells us that Jesus “is the radiance of [God’s] glory and the exact representation of His nature.” If we want to know God, we must know Jesus. Jesus came to provide the perfect revelation of God that men could receive. John describes him as “the only God, who is at the Father’s side.” This is why Jesus is greater than John the Baptist or Moses, not to mention Mohammed or the pope. Jesus is himself very God of very God, one in the divine Trinity. He is in intimate fellowship of love with God the Father; literally, John says, he is “in the bosom of the Father” (John 1:18 KJV). Here, then, is the one who can show us God. Mark Johnson explains: “If God is to be known, it can only be as he is made known by Someone who already possesses true knowledge of him. Jesus is that Someone. Because of who he is—the eternal Son of God—he is uniquely qualified to reveal God.” This means that Jesus is the gloriously sufficient Savior for all who long to know God. The Greek word translated “made known” (exegesato) gives us our word exegete, a word Bible scholars use for interpreting the Bible. We exegete Scripture to give a full account of its meaning. This is what Jesus does—he interprets and explains and exposits God to us. To know what God is like and what God intends for the world, we need only study Jesus Christ. This is why John called him “the Word&rdquo: God speaks most plainly and eloquently in him. This is what we most greatly need, and what we should all most frequently seek: to know God through Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3). —Richard D. Phillips, The Incarnation in the Gospels (P&R Publishing, 2008), 184.

In Preparation for the Lord’s Day: Holy God, We Praise Thy Name

Holy God, We Praise Thy Name I will bless Your name forever and ever. Psalm 145:1 Holy God, we praise Thy Name; Lord of all, we bow before Thee; All on earth Thy scepter claim, All in Heaven above adore Thee: Infinite Thy vast domain, Everlasting is Thy reign. Hark, the glad celestial hymn Angel choirs above are raising; Cherubim and seraphim, In unceasing chorus praising; Fill the heavens with sweet accord: Holy, holy, holy, Lord. Holy Father, Holy Son, Holy Spirit: Three we name Thee, Though in essence only one, Undivided God we claim Thee, And adoring, bend the knee While we sing our praise to Thee. —The Hymnal for Worship & Celebration (Word Music).

Lord’s Day 11, 2014

I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.” I will give thanks to the Lord with all my heart; I will tell of all Your wonders. I will be glad and exult in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High. —Psalm 9:1–2 Hymns of Thanksgiving Hymn XV. The General Thanksgiving in the Liturgy paraphrased. Augustus Toplady (1740–1778) Eternal God, the thanks receive, Which thine unworthy servants give; Father of ev’ry mercy thou, Almighty and all gracious too! In humble yet exulting songs, Thy praises issue from our tongues, For that incessant boundless love, Which we and all thy creatures prove. Fashion’d by thy creating hand, And by thy providence sustain’d, We wish our gratitude to shew, For all thy temporal blessings due. But O! for this we chiefly raise The incense of admiring praise— Thy love unspeakably we own Which sent the willing Saviour down. For him, of all thy gifts the best, Th’ exceeding gift which crowns the rest, Chiefly for him thy name we laud, And thank thee for a bleeding God. Nor should we fail our Lord to praise, For all the assisting means of grace; Th’ appointed channels which convey Strength to support us on our way. To thee let all our thanks be giv’n, For our well-grounded hope of heav’n, Our glorious trust, that we shall reign And live with him who died for man. And O! so deep a sense impress Of thy supreme, unbounded grace, That anthems in full choir may rise, And shake the earth and rend the skies Make us in deed, as well as word, Shew forth the praises of the Lord, And thank him still for what he gives Both with our lips, and in our lives! O that, by sin no more subdu’d. We might devote ourselves to God, And only breathe to tell his praise, And in his service spend our daysl Hail, Father! Hail, eternal Son! Hail, sacred Spirit, Three in One! Blessing and thanks, and pow’r divine. Thrice, holy Lord, be ever thine! —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");

Blaspheming the Spirit

The mailman was received with great joy, trumpet fanfare, etc. today, as John MacArthur’s Strange Fire was delivered into my grasping hands. Cessationist zealot that I am, you might have expected this sooner. On the other hand, no one would ever accuse me of riding the cutting edge of anything, so maybe not. Anyway, here I am, and better late than never. I love an adult who can deal in straight talk, and MacArthur, as usual, wastes no time in getting to the point, and tells it like it is. It is a sad twist of irony that those who claim to be most focused on the Holy Spirit are in actuality the ones doing the most to abuse, grieve, insult, misrepresent, quench, and dishonor Him. How do they do it? By attributing to Him words He did not say, deeds He did not do, phenomena He did not produce, and experiences that have nothing to do with Him. They boldly plaster His name on that which is not His work. In Jesus’ day, the religious leaders of Israel blasphemously attributed the work of the Spirit to Satan (Matt. 12:24). The modern Charismatic Movement does the inverse, attributing the work of the devil to the Holy Spirit. Satan’s armies of false teachers, marching to the beat of their own illicit desires, gladly propagate his errors. They are spiritual swindlers, con men, crooks, and charlatans. We can see an endless parade of them simply by turning on the television. Jude called them clouds without water, raging waves, and wandering stars “for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever” (v. 13). Yet they claim to be angels of light—gaining credibility for their lies by invoking the name of the Holy Spirit, as if there’s no penalty to pay for that kind of blasphemy. The Bible is clear that God demands to be worshipped for who He truly is. No one can honor the Father unless the Son is honored; likewise, it is impossible to honor the Father and the Son while dishonoring the Spirit. Yet every day, millions of charismatics offer praise to a patently false image of the Holy Spirit. They have become like the Israelites of Exodus 32, who compelled Aaron to fashion a golden calf while Moses was away. The idolatrous Israelites claimed to be honoring the Lord (vv. 4–8), but instead they were worshipping a grotesque misrepresentation, dancing around it in dishonorable disarray (v. 25). God’s response to their disobedience was swift and severe. Before the day was over, thousands had been put to death. Here’s the point: we can’t make God into any form we would like. We cannot mold Him into our own image, according to our own specifications and imaginations. Yet that is what many Pentecostals and charismatics have done. They have created their own golden-calf version of the Holy Spirit. They have thrown their theology into the fires of human experience and worshipped the false spirit that came out—parading themselves before it with bizarre antics and unrestrained behavior. As a movement, they have persistently ignored the truth about the Holy Spirit and with reckless license set up an idol spirit in the house of God, dishonoring the third member of the Trinity in His own name. —John MacArthur, Strange Fire: The Danger of Offending the Holy Spirit with Counterfeit Worship (Thomas Nelson, 2014) viii–ix.

In Preparation for the Lord’s Day: A Mighty Fortress Is Our God

A Mighty Fortress Is Our God The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Psalm 46:7 A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing; Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing. For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe— His craft and pow’r are great, and, armed with cruel hate, On earth is not his equal. Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing, Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing. Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He— Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same, And He must win the battle. And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us, We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph thru us. The prince of darkness grim, we tremble not for him— His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure: One little word shall fell him. That word above all earthly pow’rs, no thanks to them, abideth; The Spirit and the gifts are ours thru Him Who with us sideth. Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also— The body they may kill; God’s truth abideth still: His kingdom is forever. —The Hymnal for Worship & Celebration (Word Music).

In Preparation for the Lord’s Day: The God of Abraham Praise

The God of Abraham Praise [Abraham] did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God Romans 4:20 The God of Abraham praise, who reigns enthroned above; Ancient of everlasting days, and God of love. Jehovah, great I am! by earth and heaven confessed; I bow and bless the sacred name forever blest. The God of Abraham praise, at whose supreme command From earth I rise and seek the joys at His right hand. I all on earth forsake, its wisdom, fame, and power; And Him my only portion make, my shield and tower. He by Himself has sworn, I on His oath depend, I shall, on eagle wings upborne, to heaven ascend. I shall behold His face, I shall His power adore, And sing the wonders of His grace forevermore. The whole triumphant host give thanks to God on high; “Hail, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,” they ever cry. Hail, Abraham’s God, and mine! I join the heavenly lays, All might and majesty are Thine, and endless praise. —The Hymnal for Worship & Celebration (Word Music).

The Excellency of the Word

Before going to worship on the Lord’s Day, we ought to prepare our minds to receive the Word. Toward that end, George Swinnock suggests three things to consider: “Before thou goest to hear, labour to affect thine heart with the necessity, excellency, and efficacy of the word.” On the second: Consider its excellency; it is the word of God. Though thou dalliest when men are speaking, yet surely it becomes thee to be serious when the great God is speaking. . . . ‘I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, which is the power of God to salvation,’ Rom. i. 16. What wonders hath the great God wrought by his word! He hath given eyes to the blind, feet to the lame, ears to the deaf, life to the dead, by his word. What legions of devils and lusts hath he unkennelled and cast out with his word! . . . He hath caused many a soul to hear and live by his word; he hath awakened many a soul that was asleep in sin by the voice of the Scriptures, and caused them to arise and work out their own salvations; thousands of poor creatures, who were sinking into the bottomless hell, have, by God’s hand stretched out in his word, been delivered from going clown to the pit, and lifted up to heaven. It is a word of divine institution and of divine benediction. Rev. i. 3. It is the word in which the Father speaketh: John vi. 45, ‘Every one that hath heard and learned of the Father cometh to me.’ It is the word of Christ, Heb. xii. 25; Col. iii. 16. In it the Spirit speaketh to the churches, Rev. ii. 11. The pearl hid in it, (the Scriptures are ‘they that testify of Christ,’ John v. 39,) the price paid for it, (both Testaments are sprinkled with the blood of Jesus, Heb. ix. 27,) do fully speak the excellency of it. Now, reader, think with thyself thus: I am going to hear that word which hath God for its author, Jesus Christ for its matter, and eternal life for its end. Shall I, like a beastly swine, trample these invaluable jewels under my feet? Shall that which is infinitely more precious than fine gold be esteemed by me as dirt? It is the picture of God’s own excellencies . . . Ah, how tender should I be of that glass which hath wine in it more worth than heaven and earth! Would it not be a thousand pities that I should suffer the flies of my wandering thoughts to corrupt and spoil this box of precious ointments? —George Swinnock, The Christian Man’s Calling, Works of George Swinnock (Banner of Truth, 1992), 1:150–151

Sin, Righteousness, and Judgment

And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged. —John 16:8–11 9. Of sin. It now remains that we see what it is to convince of sin. . . . First, it ought to be observed, that the judgment of the Spirit commences with the demonstration of sin; for the commencement of spiritual instruction is, that men born in sin have nothing in them but what leads to sin Again, Christ mentioned unbelief, in order to show what is the nature of men in itself for, since faith is the bond by which he is united to us, until we believe in him, we are out of him and separated from him. The import of these words is as if he had said, “When the Spirit is come, he will produce full conviction that, apart from me, sin reigns in the world;” and, therefore, unbelief is here mentioned, because it separates us from Christ, in consequence of which nothing is left to us but sin In short, by these words he condemns the corruption and depravity of human nature, that we may not suppose that a single drop of integrity is in us without Christ. 10. Of righteousness. We must attend to the succession of steps which Christ lays down. He now says that the world must be convinced of righteousness; for men will never hunger and thirst for righteousness, but, on the contrary, will disdainfully reject all that is said concerning it, if they have not been moved by a conviction of sin. As to believers particularly, we ought to understand that they cannot make progress in the Gospel till they have first been humbled; and this cannot take place, till they have acknowledged their sins. It is undoubtedly the peculiar office of the Law to summon consciences to the judgment-seat of God, and to strike them with terror; but the Gospel cannot be preached in a proper manner, till it lead men from sin to righteousness, and from death to life; and, therefore, it is necessary to borrow from the Law that first clause of which Christ spoke. By righteousness must here be understood that which is imparted to us through the grace of Christ. Christ makes it to consist in his ascension to the Father, and not without good reason; for, as Paul declares that he rose for our justification, (Rm. iv. 25.) so he now sits at the right hand of the Father in such a manner as to exercise all the authority that has been given to him, and thus to fill all things, (Eph. iv. 10.) In short, from the heavenly glory he fills the world with the sweet savor of his righteousness. Now the Spirit declares, by the Gospel, that this is the only way in which we are accounted righteous. Next to the conviction of sin, this is the second step, that the Spirit should convince the world what true righteousness is, namely, that Christ, by his ascension to heaven, has established the kingdom of life, and now sits at the right hand of the Father, to confirm true righteousness. 11. Of judgment. . . . [T]he light of the Gospel having been kindled, the Spirit manifests that the world has been brought into a state of good order by the victory of Christ, by which he overturned the authority of Satan; as if he had said, that this is a true restoration, by which all things are reformed, when Christ alone holds the kingdom, having subdued and triumphed over Satan. Judgment, therefore, is contrasted with what is confused and disordered, or, to express it briefly, it is the opposite . . . of confusion, or, we might call it righteousness, a sense which it often bears in Scripture. The meaning therefore is, that Satan, so long as he retains the government, perplexes and disturbs all things, so that there is an unseemly and disgraceful confusion in the works of God; but when he is stripped of his tyranny by Christ, then the world is restored, and good order is seen to reign. Thus the Spirit convinces the world of judgment; that is, having vanquished the prince of wickedness, Christ restores to order those things which formerly were torn and decayed. —John Calvin, Calvin’s Commentaries Volume XVIII (Baker Books, 2009), Commentary on the Gospel according to John, 2:139–141.
In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I will request of the Father on your behalf; for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me and have believed that I came forth from the Father. —John 16:26–27 In this passage Jesus seems to deny his role as mediator, saying, “I do not say to you that I will request of the Father on your behalf.” Calvin offers his explanation of this confusing statement: In that day you shall ask in my name. He again repeats the reason why the heavenly treasures were then to be so bountifully opened up. It is, because they ask in the name of Christ whatever they need, and God will refuse nothing that shall be asked in the name of his Son. But there appears to be a contradiction in the words; for Christ immediately adds, that it will be unnecessary for him to pray to the Father Now, what purpose does it serve to pray in his name, if he does not undertake the office of Intercessor? In another passage John calls him our Advocate, (1 John ii. 1.) Paul also testifies that Christ now intercedes for us, (Romans viii. 34;) and the same thing is confirmed by the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, who declares that Christ always liveth to make intercession for us, (Heb. vii. 25) I reply, Christ does not absolutely say, in this passage, that he will not be Intercessor, but he only means, that the Father will be so favorably disposed towards the disciples, that, without any difficulty, he will give freely whatever they shall ask. “My Father,” he says, “will meet you, and, on account of the great love which he bears towards you, will anticipate the Intercessor, who, otherwise, would speak on your behalf.” Besides, when Christ is said to intercede with the Father for us, let us not indulge in carnal imaginations about him, as if he were on his knees before the Father, offering humble supplication in our name. But the value of his sacrifice, by which he once pacified God toward us, is always powerful and efficacious; the blood by which he atoned for our sins, the obedience which he rendered, is a continual intercession for us. This is a remarkable passage, by which we are taught that we have the heart of the Heavenly Father, as soon as we have placed before Him the name of his Son. —John Calvin, Calvin’s Commentaries Volume XVIII (Baker Books, 2009), Commentary on the Gospel according to John, 2:157–158.

In Preparation for the Lord’s Day: Hark! the Herald Angels Sing

Hark! the Herald Angels Sing Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased. Luke 2:14 Hark! The herald angels sing, “Glory to the newborn King; Peace on earth, and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled!” Joyful, all ye nations rise, Join the triumph of the skies; With th’angelic host proclaim, “Christ is born in Bethlehem!” Hark! the herald angels sing, “Glory to the newborn King.” Christ, by highest heav’n adored; Christ the everlasting Lord! Late in time, behold Him come, Offspring of the Virgin’s womb: Veiled in flesh the Godhead see; Hail th’incarnate Deity, Pleased with us in flesh to dwell, Jesus our Emmanuel. Hark! the herald angels sing, “Glory to the newborn King.” Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace! Hail the Sun of Righteousness! Light and life to all He brings, Ris’n with healing in His wings. Mild He lays His glory by, Born that man no more may die. Born to raise the sons of earth, Born to give them second birth. Hark! the herald angels sing, “Glory to the newborn King.” —The Hymnal for Worship & Celebration (Word Music).

In Preparation for the Lord’s Day: Holy, Holy, Holy

Holy, Holy, Holy Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come. Revelation 4:8 Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty! Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee; Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty! God in three Persons, blessed Trinity! Holy, holy, holy! all the saints adore Thee, Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea; Cherubim and seraphim falling down before Thee, Which wert, and art, and evermore shall be. Holy, holy, holy! though the darkness hide Thee, Though the eye of sinful man Thy glory may not see; Only Thou art holy—there is none beside Thee, Perfect in pow’r, in love, and purity. Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty! All Thy works shall praise Thy name, in earth, and sky, and sea; Holy, holy, holy; merciful and mighty! God in three Persons, blessed Trinity! —The Hymnal for Worship & Celebration (Word Music).

In Preparation for the Lord’s Day: Praise Ye the Triune God

Praise Ye the Triune God I will bow down toward Your holy temple And give thanks to Your name for Your lovingkindness and Your truth . . . Psalm 138:2 Praise ye the Father for His lovingkindness; Tenderly cares He for His erring children; Praise Him, ye angels, praise Him in the heavens, Praise ye Jehovah! Praise ye the Savior—great is His compassion; Graciously cares He for His chosen people; Young men and maidens, ye old men and children, Praise ye the Savior! Praise ye the Spirit—Comforter of Israel, Sent of the Father and the Son to bless us; Praise ye the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Praise ye the Triune God! —The Hymnal for Worship & Celebration (Word Music).

In Preparation for the Lord’s Day: Come, Thou Almighty King

Come, Thou Almighty King For the Lord is a great God And a great King above all gods Psalm 95:3 Come, Thou almighty King, Help us Thy Name to sing, Help us to praise: Father! all-glorious, O’er all victorious, Come and reign over us, Ancient of Days. Come, Thou incarnate Word, Gird on Thy mighty sword, Our prayer attend! Come, and Thy people bless, And give Thy word success: Spirit of holiness, On us descend. Come, holy Comforter, Thy sacred witness bear In this glad hour! Thou who almighty art, Now rule in ev’ry heart And ne’er from us depart, Spirit of pow’r. To Thee, great One in Three, Eternal praises be, Hence, evermore; Thy sov’reign majesty May we in glory see, And to eternity Love and adore. —The Hymnal for Worship & Celebration (Word Music).

In Preparation for the Lord’s Day: God, Our Father, We Adore Thee

God, Our Father, We Adore Thee Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Matthew 6:9 God, our Father, we adore Thee! We, Thy children, bless Thy Name! Chosen in the Christ before Thee, we are “holy without blame.” We adore Thee! We adore Thee! Abba’s praises we proclaim! We adore Thee! We adore Thee! Abba’s praises we proclaim! Son Eternal, we adore Thee! Lamb upon the throne on high! Lamb of God, we bow before Thee, Thou hast brought Thy people nigh! We adore Thee! We adore Thee! Son of God, who came to die! We adore Thee! We adore Thee! Son of God, who came to die! Holy Spirit, we adore Thee! Paraclete and heav’nly Guest! Sent from God and from the Savior, Thou hast led us into rest. We adore Thee! We adore Thee! By Thy grace forever blessed: We adore Thee! We adore Thee! By Thy grace forever blessed! Father, Son, and Holy Spirit— Three in One! We give Thee praise! For the riches we inherit, heart and voice to Thee we raise! We adore Thee! We adore Thee! Thee we bless, thro’ endless days! We adore Thee! We adore Thee! Thee we bless, thro’ endless days! —The Hymnal for Worship & Celebration (Word Music).

The Excellencies of God in Christ

But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ —Philippians 3:7–8 In knowing Christ we know the glorious excellencies of God, John xiv. 7. The Father and Christ are so like, as he that knows the one knows the other also, sees the Son, sees the Father. This is so apparent, as Christ seems to wonder that Philip, who had seen him, should speak as though he had not seen the Father, ver. 8, 9. He is known in the knowing of Christ, and seen in the seeing of Christ. Hence he is called ‘the image,’ Col. i. 15,—that which represents, and in a lively manner holds forth to us, the infinite perfections of God; therefore styled, Heb. i. 8, ‘the character,’—not a shadow of him, not a dead, superficial representation of him, such as pictures and portraitures are, but a living, express, subsisting, perfect representation. The similitude seems to be borrowed from a signet s impression, which represents all the sculptures and lineaments of the seal. But no similitude can reach this mystery; only this we learn by this expression, that as Christ is perfectly distinct from, so is he a full and perfect resemblance of the Father, of the same nature and essence with him, so that there is no perfection in the Father but the same is substantially in the Son, so that in knowing Christ we apprehend (as weakness will suffer) the excellencies of God; hence the glory of God is said to shine in the face of Christ, 2 Cor. iv. 6, so that those who know Christ, thereby see the glory of God in the face of Christ. That knowledge, that light which discovers Christ, discovers the glorious excellencies of God, the brightness whereof appears in the face of Christ. Nor is this only true of Christ as he is the Son of God, of the same nature with the Father, but also as he is Mediator. In the great work of redemption, the Lord caused his glory to pass before the sons of men. Never was there such a full, such a clear, discovery of God s glorious perfections, as was made to the world in Christ. In him we may see infinite power, wisdom, justice, mercy, holiness; glorious truth, faithfulness, unchangeabless; the glory of love, of free grace, of goodness; he even caused all his goodness to pass visibly before us in Christ, so that he who knows Christ knows all these glorious excellencies. —David Clarkson, The Excellent Knowledge of Christ, Works (Banner of Truth, 1988), 1:255.

No Small Difference

The difference between Arminianism and Calvinism is no minor disagreement. J. I. Packer writes, The difference between them is not primarily one of emphasis, but of content. One proclaims a God Who saves; the other proclaims a God Who enables man to save himself. One view [Calvinism] presents the three great acts of the Holy Trinity for the recovering of lost mankind—election by the Father, redemption by the Son, calling by the Spirit—as directed towards the same persons, and as securing their salvation infallibly. The other view [Arminianism] gives each act a different reference (the objects of redemption being all mankind, of calling, those who hear the gospel, and of election, those hearers who respond), and denies that any man’s salvation is secured by any of them. The two theologies thus conceive the plan of salvation in quite different terms. One makes salvation depend on the work of God, the other on the work of man; one regards faith as part of God’s gift of salvation; the other as man’s own contribution to salvation; one gives all the glory of saving believers to God, the other divides the praise between God, Who, so to speak, built the machinery of salvation, and man, who by believing operated it. Plainly, these differences are important, and the permanent value of the “five points,” as a summary of Calvinism, is that they make clear the points at which, and the extent to which, these two conceptions are at variance. —The Five Points of Calvinism: Defined, Defended, and Documented, 2nd ed. (P&R, 2004), 13–14.

The One Point of Calvinism

Although the five points are useful as a systematic expression of biblical soteriology, and were necessary as a refutation of the five Arminian articles, we ought to be careful not to separate them as though each stands alone. In fact, they are inseparable. As J. I. Packer writes, You cannot reject one without rejecting them all, at least in the sense in which the Synod meant them. For to Calvinism there is really only one point to be made in the field of soteriology: the point that God saves sinners. God—the Triune Jehovah, Father, Son and Spirit; three Persons working together in sovereign wisdom, power and love to achieve the salvation of a chosen people, the Father electing, the Son fulfilling the Father's will by redeeming, the Spirit executing the purpose of Father and Son by renewing. Saves—does everything, first to last, that is involved from bringing man from death in sin to life in glory: plans, achieves and communicates redemption, calls and keeps, justifies, sanctifies, glorifies. Sinners—men as God finds them, guilty, vile, helpless, powerless, unable to lift a finger to do God's will or better their spiritual lot. God saves sinners—and the force of this confession may not be weakened by disrupting the unity of the work of the Trinity, or by dividing the achievement of salvation between God and man and making the decisive part man's own, or by soft-pedaling the sinner's inability so as to allow him to share the praise of his salvation with his Saviour. This is the one point of Calvinistic soteriology which the “five points” are concerned to establish and Arminianism in all its forms to deny: namely, that sinners do not save themselves in any sense at all, but that salvation, first and last, whole and entire, past, present and future, is of the Lord, to whom be glory forever; amen. —The Five Points of Calvinism: Defined, Defended, and Documented, 2nd ed. (P&R, 2004), 14–15.

The Witness of the Apostles to the Divinity of Christ

Some ammunition for your next conversation with Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses: First of all, a point worth especial attention is the apostles’ teaching that what had been foretold concerning the eternal God had already been revealed in Christ or was someday to be manifested in him. For when Isaiah prophesies that the Lord of Hosts is to be “a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense for the Judeans and Israelites” [Isa. 8:14 p.], Paul declares this prophecy fulfilled in Christ [Rom. 9:32–33]. Therefore he proclaims Christ to be Lord of Hosts. Similarly, elsewhere he says, “We must all stand once before the judgment seat of Christ” [Rom. 14:10 p.]. “For it is written, . . . To me every knee shall bow [Rom. 14:11, Vg.], to Me . . . every tongue shall swear” [Isa. 45:23, order changed]. Since in Isaiah, God foretells this concerning himself, and Christ, indeed, shows it forth in himself, it follows that he is that very God whose glory cannot be transferred to another. It is evident that what Paul cites to the Ephesians from The Psalms applies to God alone: “Ascending on high, he led the captivity” [Eph. 4:8; Ps. 68:18; 67:19, Vg.]. Understanding that an ascension of this sort had been prefigured when in a notable victory God put forth his power against the foreign nations, Paul indicates that it was manifested more fully in Christ. Thus John testifies that it was the glory of the Son which had been revealed through Isaiah’s vision [John 12:41; Isa. 6:1], even though the prophet himself writes that he saw the majesty of God. Obviously the titles of God that the apostle in The Letter to the Hebrews confers upon the Son are the most glorious of all: “In the beginning, thou, O Lord, didst found heaven and earth” [Heb. 1:10 p.; Ps. 101:26 p., Vg.; 102:25, EV], etc. Likewise, “Adore him, all ye his angels” [Ps. 96:7, Vg.; 97:7, EV; cf.Heb. 1:6]. And still he does not misuse them when he applies them to Christ. Indeed, whatever they sing in The Psalms, He alone fulfills. For he it was who, rising up, was merciful to Zion [Ps. 101:14, Vg.; 102:13, EV]; he who asserted for himself the rule over all nations and islands [Ps. 96:1, Vg.; 97:1, EV]. And why should John have hesitated to refer the majesty of God to Christ, when he had declared that the Word was ever God [John 1:1, 14]? Why should Paul have feared to place Christ on God’s judgment seat [2 Cor. 5:10], when he had previously proclaimed his divinity so openly, saying that he was “God . . . blessed forever” [Rom. 9:5]? And to make clear how consistent lie is in this respect, in another passage he writes that “God has been manifested in the flesh” [I Tim. 3:16 p.]. If God is to be praised forever, he, then, it is to whom alone all glory and honor are due, as Paul affirms in another place [I Tim. 1:17]. And he does not conceal this, but openly proclaims: “Though he was in the form of God, he would not have counted it robbery if he had shown himself equal with God, yet he voluntarily emptied himself” [Phil. 2:6–7 p.]. And lest the impious carp about some feigned god, John went farther, saying: “He is the true God, and eternal life” [I John 5:20 p.]. However, it ought to be more than enough for us that he is called God, especially by that witness who aptly declares to us that there are not many gods, but one [Deut. 6:4]. Moreover, it is that Paul who said, “Though many are called gods, whether in heaven or on earth, . . . yet for us there is one God, from whom are all things.” [I Cor. 8:5–6 p.] When we hear from the same mouth that “God was manifested in the flesh” [I Tim. 3:16 p.], that “God has purchased the church by his blood” [Acts 20:28 p.], why do we imagine a second god, whom Paul acknowledges not at all? And no doubt the same was the opinion of all godly men. In like manner Thomas openly proclaims him his Lord and God [John 20:28], and thus professes him to be that sole God whom he had always worshiped. —John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion (Westminster John Knox Press, 1960), 1.13.11.

In Preparation for the Lord’s Day: Holy Trinity

Holy Trinity, Thanks and Praise to TheeSeelenbräutigam Holy Trinity, thanks and praise to Thee, that our life and whole salvation flow from Christ’s blest incarnation and His death for us on the shameful cross. Had we angels’ tongues, with seraphic songs, bowing hearts and knees before Thee, Triune God, we would adore Thee In the highest strain for the Lamb once slain. —Hymns to the Living God (Religious Affections Ministries, 2017). The current hymnal for this series is Hymns to the Living God, recently published by Religious Affections Ministries. This is such a good hymnal that I’m pretty sure I could happily post every hymn it contains, but I’ll be limiting selections to hymns I have never posted here before, especially those unfamiliar to me (of which there are many). For more information and to purchase this hymnal, visit Religious Affections Ministries.

In Preparation for the Lord’s Day: Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts

Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts St. Athanasius Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of hosts, Eternal King, by the heav’ns and earth adored! Angels and archangels sing, chanting everlastingly to the blessed Trinity. Since by Thee were all things made, and in Thee do all things live, be to Thee all honor paid; praise to Thee let all things give, singing everlastingly To the blessed Trinity Thousands, tens of thousands stand, spirits blest before Thy throne, speeding thence at Thy command; and, when Thy command is done, singing everlastingly to the blessed Trinity Cherubim and seraphim veil their faces with their wings; eyes of angels are too dim to behold the King of kings, while they sing eternally to the blessed Trinity Thee, apostles, prophets, Thee, Thee, the noble martyr band, praise with solemn jubilee, Thee, the Church in ev’ry land; singing everlastingly to the blessed Trinity Alleluia! Lord, to Thee, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, Three in One, and One in Three, join we with the heav’nly host, singing everlastingly to the blessed Trinity. —Hymns to the Living God (Religious Affections Ministries, 2017). The current hymnal for this series is Hymns to the Living God, recently published by Religious Affections Ministries. This is such a good hymnal that I’m pretty sure I could happily post every hymn it contains, but I’ll be limiting selections to hymns I have never posted here before, especially those unfamiliar to me (of which there are many). For more information and to purchase this hymnal, visit Religious Affections Ministries.

For the Son, to the Son

Paul, a bond-servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness, in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago . . . —Titus 1:1–2 But notice the end of [Titus 1:2], which is the key: this whole unfolding miracle of salvation comes from God, “who cannot lie,” and, as it says at the end of verse 2, “promised [it] long ages ago.” “Long ages ago” is a biblical expression referring to eternity past—the age before time began (cf. Acts 15:18; Rom. 16:25). It is equivalent to the expression “before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24; Matt. 25:34; 1 Peter 1:20). So Paul is saying God decreed the plan of redemption and promised salvation before the beginning of time. “Promised”—to whom? Not to any human being, because none of us had been created. And not to the angels, because there is no redemption for angels. Second Timothy 1:8–9 helps answer the question. There, it says, “Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity” (emphasis added). To whom did God make this promise? It’s an intra-Trinitarian promise; a promise from the Father to the Son. This is sacred ground, and our best understanding of it is still feeble, so we must tread carefully. We recognize that there is an intra-Trinitarian love between Father and Son, the likes of which is incomprehensible and inscrutable to us (John 3:35; 17:26). But this we know about love: it gives. And at some eternal moment, the Father desired to express His perfect love for the Son, and the way He determined to do so was to give to the Son a redeemed humanity—whose purpose would be, throughout all of the eons of eternity, to praise and glorify the Son and serve Him perfectly. That was the Father’s love gift. The Father wanted to give this gift to the Son, and He predetermined to do it. Not only that, but He predetermined who would make up that redeemed humanity, and wrote their names down in a book of life before the world began. He set them aside for the purpose of praising and glorifying the name of Christ forever. That means, in a sense, that you and I are somewhat incidental to the real issue here. Salvation is primarily for the honor of the Son, not the honor of the sinner. The purpose of the Father’s love gift is not to save you so you can have a happy life; it is to save you so that you can spend eternity praising the Son. —John MacArthur, None Other (Reformation Trust, 2017), 14–16.

To Be Conformed

For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren. —Romans 8:29 The purpose of election is not merely initial justification. It encompasses the whole of redemption, including continual growth in holiness. From heaven’s perspective, the ultimate end of election, the ultimate purpose behind God’s grace poured out on us, is the eternal glorification of the Son. But to understand God’s individual purpose in electing His people for salvation, we need to consider Romans 8:29: “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren.” Two things stand out among the many points that could be addressed in that verse. First, we were predestined to be conformed to the image of God’s own Son. God’s elective purpose is not merely about the beginning of our salvation—He predestined us to the absolute perfection we will (by His grace) enjoy at the end of the process. Paul didn’t say, “He predestined them to be justified,” but, “He also predestined them to become conformed to the image of His Son.” When will that happen? It’s happening now, if you are a believer, even if the progress seems so slow as to be imperceptible. And it will be brought to instantaneous completion “when He appears” (1 John 3:2). That is a reference to the second coming, when the bodies of the saints are resurrected and glorified. Thus redemption will be complete. The verse goes on to say, “we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.” That’s what Romans 8:19 refers to as “the revealing of the sons of God.” And Christ then becomes the chief One among many who are made like Him. As much as glorified humanity can be like incarnate deity, we’ll be like Christ, and He will not be ashamed to call us brothers. Paul said, “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14). What’s the prize of the upward call? Christlikeness. If someone is saved in order to be like Christ in glory, then his goal here is as much as possible—by the power of the Spirit—to be like Him now. That’s the goal all believers must press toward. We will be made like Christ, conformed to the image of the Son, and He will be the chief one among us all. This is the elective purpose of God. And no one’s going to fall through the cracks. His perfect plan will come to pass, without fail. —John MacArthur, None Other (Reformation Trust, 2017), 21–22.

Lord’s Day 14, 2018

I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.” Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because He first loved us. —1 John 4:15–19 The Love Of God. O Love that casts out fear, O love that casts out sin, Tarry no more without, But come and dwell within. True sunlight of the soul, Surround me as I go; So shall my way be safe, My feet no straying know. Great love of God, come in, Well-spring of heavenly peace; Thou Living Water, come, Spring up, and never cease. Love of the living God, Of Father and of Son, Love of the Holy Ghost, Fill thou each needy one. Praise to the Father give, The Spirit and the Son; Praise for the mighty love Of the great Three-in-one. —Horatius Bonar, Hymns of Faith and Hope, Second Series (James Nisbet & Co., 1878). 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 #LordsDay 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");

Who Killed Jesus?

When we inquire by whom the Messiah was brought into the humiliation of actual death, we find that though dogs are said to compass Him [Psalm 22:16],—that is heathen soldiers acting against Him; though the assembly of the wicked are said to inclose Him,—that is the company of the chief priests and their faction,—yet Messiah's death is emphatically ascribed to God Himself; “Thou hast brought Me.” Properly speaking the Lord was not overcome by His enemies. They could have had no power at all to exercise over Him but for His voluntary undertaking, and the consequent judgment exercised upon Him by the righteous Father. This is put beyond doubt by His own reply to Pilate (John xix. 11), and by Peter’s exposition (Acts ii. 23). . . . But this substitution was no make-believe, no mere semblance, but a true exchange of places—the most real of facts. He was accounted as the sinner not by a mere as if He were so, but because He was made sin (2 Cor. v. 21), and hence was treated as a sinner. And all this was not by a mere Divine permission allowing a free rein to human wickedness, but by God’s determinate counsel. That we may have no doubt of this, we shall have to trace in His soul-trouble a direct infliction from the hand of God. —George Smeaton, Christ’s Doctrine of the Atonement (Banner of Truth, 2009), 87, 95.

Lord’s Day 36, 2018

I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.” Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge. —2 Corinthians 1:21–22 Hymn V. The Method of Salvation.   The Father we bless, Whose distinguishing grace, Selected a people to shew forth thy praise; Nor is thy love known, By election alone; For O, thou hast added the gift of thy Son. The goodness in vain We attempt to explain, Which found and accepted a ransom for men; Great Surety of thine, Thou didst not decline To concur with the Father’s most gracious design. To Jesus our friend, Our thanks shall ascend, Who saves to the utmost, and loves to the end; Our ransom he paid; In his merit array’d We attain to the glory for which we were made. Sweet Spirit of grace, Thy mercy we bless, For thy eminent share in the council of peace; Great agent divine, To restore us is thine, And cause us afresh in thy likeness to shine. O God, ’tis thy part, To convince and convert, To give a new life, and create a new heart; By thy presence and grace We ’re upheld in our race, And are kept in thy love to the end of our days. Father, Spirit, and Son, Agree thus in One, The salvation of those he has mark’d for his own; Let us too agree To glorify thee, Thou ineffable One, thou adorable Three. —The Complete Works of Augustus Toplady: To the Holy Spirit (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 #LordsDay 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");


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