Understanding the The Messianic Heir

All of God’s covenantal purposes converge in Jesus Christ. As the eternal Son who would take on our humanity, he is Mediator of the covenant of redemption; as the second Adam, he has fulfilled the covenant of creation on behalf of the elect; as the incarnate, crucified, and risen Savior and Lord, he is head and heir of the covenant of grace, along with all whom he has redeemed.

The Faithful Adam and True Israel

Like Adam, Israel failed to drive the serpent out of God’s sanctuary, succumbing to his seduction. But God promised to preserve a remnant from destruction, from whom the Messiah would come, who would finally crush the serpent’s head and deliver not only Israel but the nations.

Messianic Savior: Son of David

The Davidic covenant is like that with Abraham: an unconditional, unilateral promise of God’s own faithfulness to his Word—in David’s case, the promise of an heir who would reign everlastingly (2 Sam. 7:11–17 and reiterated throughout the prophets). The New Testament takes pains to identify Jesus as this royal son of David’s line. Yet he would not restore the temporal theocracy of the Jewish nation but rather would reign over all the earth in righteousness and peace, bringing Jews and Gentiles together in the unending kingdom promised to David.

Son of Man, the Second Adam

The Son of Man is God’s earthly messianic representative, who is given everlasting dominion over all the kingdoms of the earth—although his kingdom does not arise from any earthly regime (see esp. Dan. 7:9–27). In the Gospels, this title is Jesus’ favorite self-designation, emphasizing his mission to judge, to save, and to reignAlthough Son of Man, as the fulfillment of Adamic sonship, often emphasizes Jesus’ humanity (e.g., Matt. 20:28; Mark 2:27–28), especially in John’s gospel this title carries a simultaneous emphasis on Jesus’ deity (e.g., John 3:13; John 6:53–58; 8:28).

Servant of the Lord

In Isaiah’s Servant Songs (esp. chaps. 42, 49, 50, 52–53, 61), Israel’s corporate commission as God’s covenant servant is embodied in the person of the Messiah to come, the true and faithful Israel, who will secure redemption through obedience and suffering. Jesus proclaimed himself to be this servant (Luke 4:16–21), as did the apostles (e.g., Matt. 12:17–21).


The Meaning and Applications of “Abide with Christ”

John 15:1-5, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

1. The branch grows out of the vine = God’s children have the new birth by Christ.

2. The branch is totally depentdent upon the vine for its life and nurture = God’s children have no spiritual life apart from Christ.

3. The branch’s sole identity is in its vine = the identity of God’s people is in Christ.

4. The substance of the vine is in the branch = Christ’s word abides in His people.

5. God’s people abide in Christ love.

6. Everything needed for spiritual life and fruitfulness is drawn from Christ.


What Does it Mean to Abide in Christ?

John 15:4-5 reads, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

But to what “abide in Christ” exactly means, one must take a deeper look into the Scriptures seeing its great detail God has put into place for His elect with and in His Son, Jesus Christ.

By God’s sovereign choice before the foundation of the world.

Ephesians 1:3-6 – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

We were crucified with Him

Galatians 2:20 – I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

We were buried with Christ

Romans 6:3-9 – Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.

We are risen with Christ

Ephesians 2:1, 4-7 – And you were dead in the trespasses and sins… But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

Colossians 3:1 – If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.

We live in Christ

2 Corinthians 5:14-17 – For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

We are seated with Christ in the heavenly places

Ephesians 1:3 – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places…

Ephesians 2:4-6 – But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,

We wil be glorified with Christ

Romans 8:16-21 – The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God

1 Corinthians 15:20-23 – But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.

1 Corinthians 15:41-44 – There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory. So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.

1 Corinthians 15:51-58 – Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.


The Resurrection of Christ

(Sermon by Octavious Winslow)

‘And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.” Romans 8:11

Having affirmed of the redeemed body that it was dead because of sin, the Apostle, as if anxious to rescue the saints from the humiliation of so affecting a truth, hastens to unveil the light which plays so brightly and cheeringly around each believer’s tomb. He shows that light to spring from the fact of the resurrection of the Savior. This doctrine is the grand luminary of the Christian system- it touches and gilds with its brilliance each cardinal doctrine of our faith. If Christ has not been risen from the dead, then is that faith vain and lifeless; but if he is risen, then each truth becomes instinct with life; and hope, like the day-spring from on high, rises with light and glory upon the soul.

The credibility of this great fact is perhaps the first point to which the mind naturally directs its inquiry. But in the present instance the truth of the doctrine must be assumed rather than established. We are not writing for the sceptic, but for the believer. Not so much to convince as to confirm the mind. And yet, were we arguing the question with a disputant, we might pursue a simple line of reasoning, somewhat like this- That the body of our Lord left the tomb is a fact which even those who have attempted to invalidate the doctrine readily concede. The great question in dispute, then, is- Who removed it? Did the enemies of Christ? What would they have gained by that step? Would they not on the contrary have lost much? Would it not have weakened their declaration that he was an impostor, and have strengthened that of his apostles, that he was risen? Why did not the priests and rulers, who bribed the Roman soldiers to affirm that his disciples had first surreptitiously possessed themselves of the body, and then secreted it, prove their assertion to the satisfaction of all Jerusalem, and thus at once strike the death-blow at the infant religion, and overwhelm the apostles with infamy and scorn? With the power of search which they possessed, surely, this were a natural and an easy process. To have produced the still lifeless body of our Lord would have substantiated their assertion, and thus have set at rest a question, upon which interests of such moment hung, at once and forever. But what were the circumstances of our Lord’s interment? They were all such as to strengthen the fact of his resurrection.

He was buried in a tomb hewn out of a rock. To have excavated that rock would have been a work of time, of immense difficulty, if not of utter impossibility. The exit of our Lord therefore from the tomb could only have been by the door through which he passed within it. And, as if to encircle the grave of the Savior with sentinels of unimpeachable veracity, the Holy Spirit informs us, that in the “place where he was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new sepulcher, wherein was never man laid.” Thus, then, if that sepulcher were emptied, none other than the body of Jesus had broken from its lone captivity. The substitution of another for the corpse of the Savior, was beyond the range of possibility. And who are the witnesses? A company of poor, unlearned, and timid fishermen- as unskilled in the art of falsehood and collusion, as they were in the lettered sciences of their age. They had nothing earthly to gain in testifying to the fact, but everything to lose. Instead of human applause, and honor, and wealth, they were rewarded with every species of obloquy, deprivation, and suffering. And yet, oppressed by poverty and persecution, and with the gloomy machinery of torture- the dungeon, the rack, and the cross staring them in the face, they traveled everywhere, testifying to the sceptic philosophers of Athens, as to the unlettered peasants of Rome, that Christ was risen from the dead. Nor were they men likely to be imposed upon. They were at first strangely incredulous of the fact itself. How slow of heart were they to welcome the testimony that their Lord was indeed alive. Retired from the sepulcher, where in love and sadness they had laid him, they met the holy women, who at the dawn of day had borne their aroma to the tomb, and returning, who proclaimed to the “eleven and to all the rest,” that he was alive. Yet we are told, “their words seemed to them as idle tales.” And when one of the witnesses to the credibility of the fact testified to Thomas, “We have seen the Lord,” how was the testimony received? “Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails,” were the words of that disbelieving disciple, “and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.” Thus reluctant to receive the fact of his resurrection, is it possible that they could have been easily imposed upon by a fiction? We may, then, safely leave the credibility of this cardinal doctrine of our faith to its own evidence, and pass on to other and more experimental views of the glorious truth.

We may refer for a moment to the necessity that Jesus should rise again from the dead; and this will supply a collateral argument in favor of the truth of the doctrine. It was necessary that he should make good his own prediction, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” That some of his enemies rightly understood him to refer to the temple of his body is evident from their subsequent allusion to these words, “We remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again.” Our Lord thus fulfilled his own undeviating prediction. But the perfection of his mediatorial work also pleaded for its necessity. “He was delivered for our offences, and raised again for our justification.” The Father’s glory was clearly interwoven with the fact- his honor, faithfulness, and power. Thus it is said, “Therefore are we buried with him by baptism unto death; that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”

But let us trace the effect of this truth in the believing soul, and this will supply us with no small evidence in favor of its credibility. For if the power of the fact is experienced, the fact itself must be certain. It is one thing to yield the assent of an informed understanding to a truth, and it is another to feel the influence of that truth in the heart. But what is it to sympathize with Christ’s resurrection? It is to be a partaker of its quickening energy, to be sensible of its life-giving, life-elevating power. Oh, there is no single truth which embodies and conveys so much blessing to the believer as his Lord’s resurrection. Trace its sanctifying tendency: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his abundant mercy has begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” To be sensible of this amazing power in the soul is to be born again- to be raised from the grave of corruption- to live on earth a heavenly, a resurrection-life- to have the heart daily ascending in the sweet incense of love, and prayer, and praise, where its risen Treasure is. It possesses, too, a most comforting power. What but this sustained the disciples in the early struggles of Christianity, amid the storms of persecution which else had swept them from the earth? They felt that their Master was alive. They needed no external proof of the fact. They possessed in their souls God’s witness. The truth authenticated itself. The three days of his entombment were to them days of sadness, desertion, and gloom. Their sun had set in darkness and in blood, and with it every ray of hope had vanished. All they loved, or cared to live for, had descended to the grave. They had now no arm to strengthen them in their weakness- no bosom to sympathize with them in sorrow- no eye to which they could unveil each hidden thought and struggling emotion.

But the resurrection of their Lord was the resurrection of all their buried joys. They now traveled to him as to a living Savior, conscious of a power new-born within them, the power of the Lord’s resurrection. “Then were the disciples glad when they saw the Lord.” But is this truth less vivifying and precious to us? Has it lost anything Of its vitality to quicken, or its power to soothe? Oh, no! truth is eternal and immutable. Years impair not its strength, circumstances change not its character. The same truths which distilled as dew from the lips of Moses; which awoke the seraphic lyre of David; which winged the heaven-soaring spirit of Isaiah; which inspired the manly eloquence of Paul; which floated in visions of sublimity before the eye of John; and which in all ages have fed, animated, and sanctified the people of God- guiding their counsels, soothing their sorrows, and animating their hopes- still are vital and potent in the chequered experiences of the saints, hastening to swell the cloud of witnesses to their divinity and their might. Of such is the doctrine of Christ’s resurrection. Oh, what consolation flows to the church of God from the truth of a living Savior- a Savior alive to know and to heal our sorrows- to inspire and sanctify our joys- to sympathize with and supply our need! Alive to every cloud that shades the mind, to every cross that chafes the spirit, to every grief that saddens the heart, to every evil that threatens our safety, or perils our happiness! What power, too, do the promises of the gospel derive from this truth! When Jesus speaks by these promises, we feel that there is life and spirit in his word, for it is the spoken word of a living Savior. And when he invites us to himself for rest, and bids us look to his cross for peace, and asks us to deposit our burdens at his feet, and drink the words that flow from his lips, we feel a living influence stealing over the soul, inspiriting and soothing as that of which the trembling Evangelist was conscious, when the glorified Savior gently laid his right hand upon him, and said, “Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that lives, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.” Is Jesus alive? Then let what else die, our life, with all its supports, and consolations, and hopes, is secure in him. “Because I live, you shall live also.” A living spring is he. Seasons vary, circumstances change, feelings fluctuate, friendships cool, friends die, but Christ is ever the same. He is that “Tree of Life,” whose boughs overhang either side of the river, and which yields its fruit every month. Travel to it when we may, we find it fruitful. It may be winter with us, it is always summer with the Tree. Cold and dreary may be the region where we have come, all chilled and desolate, to the spot where it stands: in an instant it is as though we had emerged into a southern climate- its balmy air, its spicy breezes, and its warm sunlight, encircling us in their soft robes. Oh, the blessedness of dealing with a risen, a living Redeemer! We take our needs to him they are instantly supplied. We take our sins to him- they are immediately pardoned. We take our griefs to him they are in a moment assuaged. “Every month,” ay, and each moment of every month, finds this Tree of Life proffering its ample foliage for our shade, and yielding its rich fruit for our refreshment. Such are some of the blessings which flow from the resurrection of Christ. The identity of this great fact with the resurrection of the saints we reserve for the next chapter; closing the present with the fervent prayer that the Eternal Spirit may give us a heartfelt possession of its power, enabling us to exclaim, with the unwavering faith and undimmed hope of the holy patriarch- “I know that my redeemer lives!”


The Resurrection of Christ

Sermon by J. Gresham Machen (1881-1937)

Some nineteen hundred years ago, in an obscure corner of the Roman Empire, there lived one who, to a casual observer might have seemed to be a remarkable man. Up to the age of about thirty years. He lived an obscure life in the midst of an humble family. Then He began a remarkable course of ethical and religious teaching, accompanied by a ministry of healing. At first He was very popular. Great crowds followed Him gladly, and the intellectual men of His people were interested in what He had to say. But His teaching presented revolutionary features, and He did not satisfy the political expectations of the populace. And so, before long, after some three years, He fell a victim to the jealousy of the leaders of His people and the cowardice of the Roman governor. He died the death of the criminals of those days, on the cross. At His death, the disciples whom He had gathered about Him were utterly discouraged. In Him had centered all their loftiest hopes. And now that He was taken from them by a shameful death, their hopes were shattered. They fled from Him in cowardly fear in the hour of His need, and an observer would have said that never was a movement more hopelessly dead. These followers of Jesus had evidently been far inferior to Him in spiritual discernment and in courage. They had not been able, even when He was with them, to understand the lofty teachings of their leader. How, then, could they understand Him when He was gone? The movement depended, one might have said, too much on one extraordinary man, and when He was taken away, then surely the movement was dead.

 

But then the astonishing thing happened. The plain fact, which no one doubts, is that those same weak, discouraged men who had just fled in the hour of their Master’s need, and who were altogether hopeless on account of His death, suddenly began in Jerusalem, a very few days or weeks after their Master’s death, what is certainly the most remarkable spiritual movement that the world has ever seen. At first, the movement thus begun remained within the limits of the Jewish people. But soon it broke the bands of Judaism, and began to be planted in all the great cities of the Roman world. Within three hundred years, the Empire itself had been conquered by the Christian faith.

 

But this movement was begun in those few decisive days after the death of Jesus. What was it which caused the striking change in those weak, discouraged disciples, which made them the spiritual conquerors of the world?

Read the rest of this entry »


Prophecies Fulfilled by the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ

Bible Prophecy: Isaiah 53:3 says, “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”

Fulfillment: John 1:10-11 says, “He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.”

Bible Prophecy: Psalm 41:9 says, “Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.”

Fulfillment: Mark 14:10 says, “Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them.”

Bible Prophecy: Zechariah 11:12 says, “I told them, ‘If you think it best, give me my pay; but if not, keep it.’ So they paid me thirty pieces of silver.”

Fulfillment: Matthew 26:14-16 says, “Then one of the Twelve – the one called Judas Iscariot – went to the chief priests and asked, ‘What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?’ So they counted out for him thirty silver coins.”

Bible Prophecy: Isaiah 53:7 says, “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.”

Fulfillment: Mark 15:5 says, “But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed.”

Bible Prophecy: Psalm 22:1-2 says, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent.”

Fulfillment: Matthew 27:46 says, “About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’ – which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?'”

Bible Prophecy: Psalm 22:7-8 says, “All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads: ‘He trusts in the LORD; let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.'”

Fulfillment: Matthew 27:41-44 says, “In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. ‘He saved others,’ they said, ‘but he can’t save himself! He’s the King of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, I am the Son of God.’ In the same way the robbers who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.”

Bible Prophecy: Psalm 22:15 says, “My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death.”

Fulfillment: Matthew 27:48 says, “Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink.”

Bible Prophecy: Psalm 22:17-18 says, “I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.”

Fulfillment: John 19:23 says, “When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom.”


What Does it Mean to be Forsaken by God?

In Luke 17 Christ Described the Condition of the damned soul, from which we may learn some of what it means to be forsaken by God. It is to suffer torment and thirst with nothing to diminish either verse 24;

“For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day.”

To be without  comfort in verse 25;

“But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.”

Removed from the help of man and of God in verse 26;

“Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man.”

It was to be awear of loved ones facing the same destruction, but unable to warn them in verses 27-30,

“They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot—they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all— so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed.

Christ and the apostles speak of the darkness of being forsaken by God – read the following;

Matthew 8:11-12 I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Matthew 22:13 This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.

Matthew 25:29-31  For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.  And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.

II Peter 2:4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment;

Jude 6-7 And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— 7 just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.

Jude 12-13 These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; 13 wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever.

And… remember the demons begged Christ not to send them to torment…

Matthew 8:29 And behold, they (demons) cried out, “What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?”

Luke 8:28-31 When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him and said with a loud voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me.” For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many a time it had seized him. He was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the desert.) Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion,” for many demons had entered him.

Just one of the many truths of the Gospel in which one should be thankful for this coming Easter… or every Resurrection-Day  for that matter.


Was Jesus the Object of Old Testament Faith?

In yesterday’s post, “Was Salvation Through Jesus Christ?” a friend commented asking me…

“Salvation is always through Jesus Christ, but does this have to mean that he was the object of Old Testament faith?”

I would argue yes, the object of the Old Testament Faith was Jesus Christ and this is how I would argue for that.

According to Jesus, Abraham’s object was none other than Jesus himself.  John 8:56 reads, “Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.”

What was David’s object of faith? In Acts 2:29-31- 29 “Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption.”

Moses’ reproach of Christ greater? In Hebrews 11:24-26 “By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.”

Who was Job’s Redeemer in Job 19:25? As he says “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth.”

Pauline Theology: Romans 1:1-7 – Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ, To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 4:22-25 – That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.

Galatians 3:9 – So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.


Was Salvation Through Jesus Christ in the Old Testament?

1 Corinthians 10:1 For I want you to know, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 and all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.

Hebrews 4:1 Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. 2 For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened.

1 Peter 1:8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11 inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.

Revelation 13:7 Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, 8 and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.


Jesus the “I AM” (Part 2)

[Posted by Benjamin Thocher]

So what is the point?  What is our take away, as contemporary Christians,  from Jesus calling himself the “true vine”? Jesus tells the disciples that they are branches of the “true vine” and that they are to “abide in him.” In verse 4 Jesus says “Abide in me, and I in you.” I would guess that at this point the disciples would have, at best, understood this as a reference to Jesus’ teaching – they were, therefore, to let the words of Jesus dwell or abide in their heads and hearts. While this is not necessarily an incorrect understanding, it is only one small dimension of what Jesus is communicating.

This  discourse is sandwiched between the end of chapter 14 and the end of chapter 15, both of which contain statements about the Comforter that Jesus would send after his departure. This Comforter, we know, is the Holy Spirit. We see, then, that Jesus is looking forward to the day of Pentecost when he would pour out the Holy Spirit to empower and equip the church for her mission in the world. 1 Corinthians 15:45 says that Jesus, in his resurrection and ascension became to us and for us “life-giving Spirit.”

Therefore, the abiding activity that Jesus speaks of is accomplished by the indwelling presence and work of the Spirit of God. Jesus says that “fruit bearing” will not happen unless we abide in him. If we understand “fruit bearing” to be the primary aim of the Christian life – which it is – then what Jesus is saying is radical, he is saying that the Christian life, and fellowship with the God of the universe, does not happen apart from intimate relationship with him.

What I like about John is he uses heightened contrast to drive home his points. In 1 John we are either in the light or we are in the darkness. Not one or the other, not a little of both. Light. Darkness. Here, we are either abiding in Christ or we are not abiding in Christ. There is no middle ground. We either abide in Christ and are pruned in order that we bear more fruit or we do not abide in Christ and are thrown into the fire. No in between. No casual, take-it-or-leave-it attitude. There is no Christ-likeness apart from intimate relationship with Christ. There is no Christian faith that is not first and foremost focused on the person and work of Jesus. As branches of the true vine, all that is his is ours.

Two points of application from this passage:

As we “abide” in Christ…it redefines what we are…

Our Spirit-wrought union with Christ dramatically redefines what we are. In the Old Testament the division was between Jews and Gentiles. Basically, the haves and the have-nots. The Jews were the people of God while the Gentiles (everyone not a Jew) stood on the outside of that relationship looking in. Jesus, though, as he applies to himself the description of being the “true vine” reorients the way we think about ethnic distinctions. If Jesus is the one true Israelite then we, as we are in relationship with him, are constituted as God’s people on his behalf. There are no longer any distinctions between Jew and Gentile – we are now defined only with respect to whether or not we are “in Christ.”  Paul says in Ephesians 2 that Jesus Christ has “brought near those who were far off” and that he has “broken down the dividing wall” between Jew and Gentile in order that God might create for himself a “new humanity.” We, as the body of Christ in all the world are that “new humanity.”

Sometimes this truth does not hit us the way it should. We don’t live in a world where Jew/Gentile distinctions mean much. However, we do live in a world that values social and economic status. What we want to say as loud as possible to ourselves and to those around us is that right standing before God is not determined by what family you were born into, or what country you live in, or what ethnic background you share in. We are Christians by virtue of our faith in Christ and nothing else. Faith in Jesus, not ethnic background,  has become the decisive characteristic and requirement for membership among God’s people.

What we sometimes miss is that for the Jewish people this was a difficult teaching. This seemed to go against everything that the Old Testament taught. The Old Testament struggles greatly with the issue of Jews and Gentiles. Those inside the covenant relationship with God and those on the outside looking in. When we get through the Gospel accounts and come to Acts we find that the Jews had a difficult time accepting that Gentiles could be included into the people of God as Gentiles (no circumcision necessary!). This is what the gospel has done for us: we Gentiles who were far off have now been brought near by the shed blood of Christ. What we are is no longer central – we have become branches of the one true Israelite on account of his righteousness and perfect obedience.

As we “abide” in Christ…it redefines who we are…

As it redefines what we are, it at the same time redefines who we are. We abide in Christ on account of his work. We abide in Christ on the basis of what he has done and we bring nothing to the table. It is all about who Christ is and has nothing to do with who we are as individuals. We are not central in this picture – we are branches! We are peripheral at best! Branches only have existence as they are connected to the vine. There are no lone ranger Christians who can do things on their own.

John has laid down the gauntlet and given us a choice: we are either abiding in Christ by trusting in him alone, or we are branches that get tossed into the fire. We desperately, desperately need Jesus Christ. Our lives and accomplishments mean nothing before the creator of the universe. All of our success, popularity, fame, and fortune will never be pleasing to God. There is one life that pleases God and that life is Christ’s. Only because his life is accepted can those who are “in him” be pleasing to God and filled with the Spirit, because every believer possesses everything of Christ’s.


Jesus the “I AM” (Part 1)

[Posted by Benjamin Thocher]

At the beginning of John 15 Jesus says to disciples “I AM the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.” The rest of the chapter revolves around this illustration and what it means first of all for who Jesus is and secondly for who we are, as believers, in relationship with him. As we move through John’s Gospel we find Jesus issuing seven “I AM” statements (cf. 6:35; 8:12 & 9:5; 10:7; 10:11; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1).

When Jesus says “I AM,” he is not making a simple statement about himself and tacking on some interesting imagery. The Greek construction utilized in these statements is one of emphasis and could be woodenly rendered “I Myself Am.” By including these seven statements in his Gospel, though, John is communicating something to us about who Jesus is. What is it that John wants to communicate?

In Exodus chapter 3, Moses encounters God at the burning bush. During this encounter God reveals his name to Moses – he tells Moses that his name is “I AM.” Fast forward a few thousand years to Jesus walking around making statements like “I AM the good shepherd” and “I AM the way, and the truth, and the life” and we see a much more profound intention. Jesus is invoking the personal name of God revealed to Moses and claiming to be equal with the God of the Old Testament. YHWH, the God of Israel.

We come then to John 15 and understand Jesus’ statement “I AM the true vine” to be a statement with respect to his deity. Jesus identifies himself as God. What then does he mean when he says that he is the “true vine”? My saying “I am a tree” is meaningless as there is no prior context for it to be significant. However, looking again to the Old Testament we receive assistance in discerning what Jesus is communicating about himself.

In Psalm 80 Israel is said to be a vine that God brought out of Egypt and “planted” in the Promised Land. Throughout the Old Testament – here in Psalm 80 and especially in Isaiah 5 – Israel is called God’s vine, or God’s vineyard. As God’s vine they were called to be obedient. Or, to utilize the language of John’s illustration, they were called to be “fruitful.” Israel, however, did not fulfill their calling.

Adam, as God’s son, failed in the garden to obey the Law of God and to rule over creation. So too Israel failed in the Promised Land, as God’s son, to obey the Law of God and to rule over her enemies. Jesus, in calling himself the “true vine” stands in opposition and stark contrast to that which is inherently counterfeit, or perhaps better put, that which is “less ultimate.” Jesus has in clear view here the disobedience of Israel as God’s faithless vine.

Jesus Christ, not Israel, is the “true vine” of God. Jesus here shows himself to fulfill Israel’s destiny – whereas Israel did not bear fruit, Jesus will bear the fruit of true obedience. This is what I like to think of as the punch-line of the whole Bible: Jesus defines himself as the one true Israelite. He represents in himself the faithful nation of Israel. “Faithful Israel” had been reduced to one man, and one man alone.

All that God had done for Israel looked forward to what he would do in and through his only son, Jesus Christ. Jesus as the true Israelite keeps the law perfectly, he worships God perfectly, and he succeeds in every place that Israel before him had failed. His obedience was a perfect obedience. In Philippians 3:8 Paul says that Jesus’ obedience was an obedience “unto death – even death on a cross.” His deliverance was not a deliverance from the hands of foreign oppressors, but a deliverance from the grip of sin itself.


Precious Blood: The Atoning Work of Christ

 

precious-blood

A Must Have, I read a lot, reviewing titles, reading for class after class, but today I read a fantastic title. I received this week a title that is just Gospel-Centered & Christ-Centered as can be – Precious Blood: The Atoning Work of Christ

In this second volume of essays from the Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology, several noted preachers join editor Richard Phillips in exploring the doctrine of Christ’s atonement and its history in Christian thought.

At the very heart of Christian faith is the blood of Jesus. His sin-atoning death is the divine work on which the entire structure of salvation rests and the truth on which the Christian doctrine of salvation must be built. Yet recent years have seen a pastoral neglect of the cross and a doctrinal assault from the academy.

With these concerns in mind, R. C. Sproul, Philip Ryken, Joel Beeke, Derek Thomas, Carl Trueman, and Robert Godfrey have joined editor Richard Phillips in exploring the doctrine of Christ’s atonement. These noted pastors proclaim the (1) necessary, (2) redeeming, (3) cleansing, (4) atoning, (5) offensive, and (6) precious blood of our Savior in a series of essays that set the cross in its rightful place—at the forefront of salvation.


The most practical doctrine in the Bible

See here.


Christ and Culture

Great study to take the time and check out here.


Christ the Advocate for Sinners

Christ the Advocate for Sinners

Let me invite you to turn in your Bibles to One John chapter 2, verses 1 and 2. The context of these verses start in chapter one verse 5, but due to time’s sake we will only read our text.

KJV– 1 John 2:1-2 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: 2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

This is the Word of God . . . .

Introduction- I must start off with saying what a great privilege it is for us as preachers of the gospel to preach a text like this; it is simply life changing when we read passages like this about our Savior Jesus Christ. My first thought after reading this text was how is it possible to fully describe the overflowing amounts of exceeding joys of the gospel that are presented here for the believer? My plan today is to preach these gleams of the gospel found in this text so that you may see Christ as more beautiful and lovelier to your salvation than when you came in here.[1] I will follow John’s own example, by showing the sickness of sin and the truths of Christ. John writes this letter knowing his audience was a well established group of believers who were standing firm to what they knew to be true about Christ.[2] John gets right to the point in why he is writing this letter. We see John’s mood change from that which he had been writing in the previous chapter when he was dealing with the Gnostics. John had to defend areas that were crucial to these believers. In chapter one he was defending the gospel and here in chapter two, he is teaching the importance of the gospel. This is why Christ is shown so magnificently throughout this entire book, and most beautifully in 1 John 2:1-2.

Propositional Statement (#, Noun, Application, action)

Today, let us consider four important truths in seeing and making known how Christ is the advocate for sinners. They are:

*First, Sin is serious. Sin is the problem within all of mankind, and man cannot nor will he ever find remedy from its disease without Jesus Christ.

*Secondly, In Christ we have an advocate. Christ conquered the cross (death, burial and resurrection) so that he might stand in the courts of heaven and plea to his father, being our Great High Priest.

*Thirdly, Christ is our propitiation. This, however, is twofold. First, Christ, when giving himself up on the cross, reconciled us to God. Secondly, this sacrifice satisfied the wrath of God, so that God could allow mankind to stand in front of him clothed in Christ’s righteousness.

* Fourthly, Christ is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world. When Christ died he provided a way that was cross cultural, multi ethnical, and barrier destroying to that which had been previously, namely the law and Jews.

Instructional Point- Sin is serious. It must be clearly understood what sin does in a relationship with God. Sin must be looked at as the absolutely, positively most offensive act against God.

Illustration- what does the Bible give us?

In verse one of our text, when John says, “My little children, these things write I unto you,” what are “these things” that he talking about? Things like in chapter one, verse three, “that ye also may have fellowship with us,” things like in verse four, “that your joy may be full,” things like verse five, “God is light.” Things like “the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” in verse seven and also these things in verse nine like “and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” to things in verse ten like, “if we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar.” These are the things which John is talking about when he says, “these things write I unto you.” But why does he write about “these things” at all? He writes them so “that ye sin not.” John’s desire is that believers should strive for the art of perfection and for the pursuit of holiness. Anything short of that is not what they should be striving towards. John wants these people to see the seriousness of sin. Sin is not a part of the loving light that John describes to these believers in chapter one, and he is writing these things in chapter one and later in the book so that they may not sin. Look with me in 1 John 3:4, where we find John’s definition of sin. It says, “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” It says that everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.

Application- what does this mean?

What this means for the believer is that your sin is sick to God. When you sin, you break the law and that is a serious, serious offense to God. Now, I happened to come across an article in January when reading Charles Spurgeon’s magazine The Sword and the Trowel and I could not think of a better way to help picture exactly what this lawlessness and what the seriousness of sin does to the relationship between man and God. Thomas Brooks wrote this portrait of how we must see sin:

“You shall as soon espouse light and darkness, and marry midnight to the noonday, as you shall espouse or marry a holy God to an unhumbled sinner. Oh, who can look upon sin as an offense against a holy God, as the breach of a holy law, as the wounding and crucifying of a holy Savior, as the grieving and saddening of a holy Sanctifier, and as an eternal loss and undoing of his own soul, and not mourn over it? Oh, who can east a serious eye upon the nature of sin, or upon the exceeding sinfulness of sin, or upon the aggravations of sin, and not have his heart humbled, his soul grieved, and his spirit melted for sin? Oh who, can look upon sin as it strikes at the honor of God, the name of God, the being of God, the glory of God, and the design of God,’ and not have his mouth full of penitential confessions, his eyes full of penitential tears, and his heart fall of penitential sorrow?”[3]

Interaction- what would that look like?

Let me ask you a couple of questions; when was the last time you asked God for the forgiveness of your sins? When was the last time you or anyone you saw wept over their sins? Do people today in your churches even know the seriousness of sin? I hope that you know the seriousness of sin. Denials of truth, deceiving others to get what you want, lusting after another woman on the sidewalk or in the super market, looking at images that are not God honoring, and the greed in wanting something you don’t need – these are all sin. Gluttony in the eating as much of something as much as you would like and the pride of feeling well-liked and well-praised qualify as sin. What about anger and uncontrolled actions when something happens that doesn’t go your way? This is sin! What about the words that express your feelings? What about words and how they are used towards others? Doing someone wrong because life has supposedly dealt you a deck of bad cards is sin. It’s sin and it’s serious. It is serious because it creates a huge barrier in the relationship between you and God. How often do we as the elect forget about our sins and never confess them to God? This is serious in so many ways. It is serious because these sins are part of nature of the devil and do not represent anything of the nature in which Christ died for, bought you, gave you – who you are now. It is serious because when you sin, you are telling Christ that his cross, his death, and his blood were not good enough for you. And it is serious because if you continue in the same sin or sins continually day after day, I tell you, you should wonder about the assurance of your salvation. Have you continued to sin so much that your heart has become hardened, to the point that you don’t even realize that it is sin any longer? The seriousness of sin is more serious than anything, period! It condemns you to hell and without an advocate there is no hope, which leads me to my next point.

Instructional Point –We have an advocate. Not only has Christ finished his outpouring of blood upon the cross in the purchasing of his elect, he now also pleads on behalf of his elect for their forgiveness of sins.

Illustration- what does the Bible give us?

Now look with me to the second half of verse one, “if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” Now when you read this, you almost would think that John is trying to say that you shouldn’t sin, but it is okay if you do, because you have an advocate. To that I would say that is not at all what he is trying to tell his readers. What kind of advocate is this? Read with me in the previous chapter in verse seven, “But if we walk in the light, as he is the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” From how much sin are we cleansed? We are cleansed from all sin. For it is in the blood of Christ that we the church can be forgiven by God for our sins. So what John is giving us here is that number one, don’t sin and number two, if you do sin, we have an advocate. This here is the center piece of my text. This word here is not used often in the New Testament and when used in all cases, it is used in describing what the Holy Spirit does. But John uses this to display the beauty of Christ as our best friend, our advocate. For starters, I need to give the biblical definition of what an advocate does or what it is. I believe the best definition of this is found in Scripture, in Hebrews 4:14-16. It reads,

“Seeing then that we have a great high priest that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us, therefore, come boldly unto the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”

Application- what does this mean?

That is what an advocate is. Do you get that? Does your family get that? Does your church get that? This is what I am trying to describe to you, that when you know you have a sin issue, when you are struggling more than you ever have in your life, when you think your marriage is at its seams because of the selfish decisions you have made, when your kids do not listen because of the times that you have treated them un-Christ-like manner, Christ is there. When you have left God’s side and disobeyed his word time and time again constantly and willingly, Christ will plead for you, if you are his. And if you are not, today may be the day to meet your lawyer. When you have left God’s side and you have nowhere to run, no one to go to help any longer, and nowhere to hide in your sin, and no arms to comfort you, Christ will take care of His own.

When you are discouraged by your present state, depressed about the decisions you have made, feel abandoned because of the barriers you build between God, hurt because of the loneliness that you have created, and abused by the torment of sin in your lives, Christ is there pleading on your behalf. This is why you pray “in Christ’s name.” All of your problems, all of your troubles, all of your asking of forgiveness of sin, are in Christ’s name. This is crucial to praying to God. Christ sets and pleads and intercedes on your behalf. And as sinners you need an advocate.

Interaction- what would that look like?

What makes this the most amazing is the way that Christ’s intercedes for his bride. In the heavens, he is sitting beside his father in perfect communion, and when you pray, and you ask God for forgiveness from what you have done. What do you think happens? You think Christ says, “Well father he’s really sorry this time.” You think he says, “Well he has not lusted in 3 weeks father, or he hasn’t been prideful lately, father.” You think that’s how God works? No! Christ says, “Look at my cross father, look at it. And look at my hands father, you see them, and my feet, you see my side, look at my cross father; look at my cross. My blood purchased these men father, and I plead on behalf of them with my redeeming, purchasing, sin cleansing pure blood father. That is my plea.” And that is your plea every time you pray to God in Christ’s name and ask for forgiveness before the almighty judge. Amen! God forgives you because he looks at your best friend, your lawyer; he looks at Christ’s blood and not you. This brings me to my next point.

Instructional Point- Christ is our propitiation. The one time single act of atonement for sin by the all together perfect, holy, innocent, unstained, and separated- from-sinners sacrifice of Jesus Christ not only reconciles us to God, but satisfies the wrath of God which was upon us.

Illustration- what does the Bible give us?

Look at our text, the first half of verse two. “And he is the propitiation for our sins.” Propitiation is Christ paying the penalty for all your sins, taking on all of the wrath God that you deserve, enduring all of your condemnation, dying in your place and rising from the dead for your salvation, so that he may reconcile you to God. You must know this to have a solid foundation in understanding our advocate, Jesus Christ.[4] This, however, is not a hard thing to understand. No propitiation and no advocate mean that no pleas and no intercession occur and, therefore, there is no forgiveness of sin in the manner and grace that God has allowed today. No wrath bearing Savior, no propitiation, no advocate, no forgiveness of sins, no gospel. This is how God adopts sinners. This is how you are made righteous and blameless before God. Christ’s sacrifice is complete in reconciling you to God’s wrath so that God is happy with His son, and it is what will allow you to one day stand before God! What thankfulness does this God deserve for saving a sinner like you? You were damned in sin, with God’s wrath on your head, you were a servant of Satan, and when God’s sovereign voice called you, it was Christ’s righteousness that you were clothed in, made possible by his being your propitiation.

Application- what does this mean?

R. C. Sproul says on this issue,

“A Substitute has appeared in space and time, appointed by God Himself, to bear the weight and burden of our transgressions, to make expiation for our guilt, and to propitiate the wrath of God on our behalf. This is the gospel. Therefore, if you take away the substitutionary atonement, you empty the cross of its meaning and drain all the significance out of the passion of our Lord Himself. If you do that, you take away Christianity itself.”[5]

He died in our place, taking on the payment for our sins so that we might be reconciled to God. And yes, it was for the glory of God that Christ died so that the wrath of God would be satisfied and that the wrath of God could and would be removed from his elect. Therefore, he may now plead on the behalf of his people. This is twofold, and without one or the other you lose the foundation and the very center of the gospel. This is not controversial, like many make it today. We must stand for the truth of the wrath of God and our wrath bearing Savior.[6]

Interaction- what would that look like?

In the culture in which we live today it is extremely sad that we have leaders, pastors, teachers, and theologians who belittle Christ, the atonement, and the heart of the gospel when they write books with sections in them like this, and I quote;

“The fact is that the cross isn’t a form of cosmic child abuse-a vengeful Father, punishing his Son for an offence he has not even committed. Understandably, both people inside and outside of the Church have found this twisted version of events morally dubious and a huge barrier to faith. Deeper than that, however, is that such a concept stands in total contradiction to the statement: God is love”. If the cross is a personal act of violence perpetrated by God towards humankind but borne by his Son, then it makes a mockery of Jesus’ own teaching to love your enemies and to refuse to repay evil with evil.”[7]

Let me quote a few more; “there is a need to construct a new paradigm of the atonement in the 21st century; the sacramental model is flawed.”[8] Another one, “on the cross, God was not punishing Jesus.”[9] And one more argues that our view is, “the moral equivalent of the killer who murdered Amish children at the Pennsylvania schoolhouse.”[10]

Some of these quotes came from what once was a Reformed publishing house. Now today they have left the very center of what they once stood upon. And as reformed believers, students, and professors of the truth and the gospel we must stand firmly against issues that are utterly false to our Propitiation, Jesus Christ. If there is no wrath-satisfier, then there is no gospel.

And without the correct understanding of this, Christ’s person and work are belittled and distorted. Listen to me, the loss of this doctrine is nothing but the loss of the gospel. And to someone who would say such junk as this, I would read to them John’s other place that he mentions propitiation in his book, in 1 John 4:10, it sates “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” For God is love, it is his very love that Christ did die! How beautiful is this that it was because of God’s love, this propitiation did take place. It was because of God’s love that Christ took on your entire wrath, it was because of God’s love that he reconciled you to himself, and it was because of God’s love that you didn’t hang on a cross, whipped, beaten, mocked, scorned, spit on and that you were not murdered naked and nail upon a cross. It was God’s love that allows you to sit here today and know Christ, see Christ, savor Christ, live for Christ because of the propitiation of Christ. The loss of this doctrine is nothing but the loss of the gospel.

Instructional Point- Christ is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world! This propitiation for sinners reaches to all nations, all countries, all states and provinces, all cultures, all colors, all types, and all different groups of the world.

Illustration- what does the Bible give us?

As we draw to an end, follow with me in the last portion of our text in verse two, “and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” This does not mean Christ purchased every soul at the cross. It means that whoever comes to him in repentance and belief has limitless access to the benefits of his gospel, his atoning death, his blood, and his cross. It is open for all.

Application- what does this mean?

This is crucial to living out what Christ has given us, the gospel. Understanding the sickness of sin and knowing that his propitiation has allowed him to become the advocate of his elect should not call us to sit in our pews and rest in only knowing about the great benefits of Christ. That is not what the gospel does. And that most certainly is not what it has done for you. We must preach Christ to the whole world. His elect are scattered throughout this world in remote places, so that those who know the gospel can reach those who need to be reached. Are we reaching them? Are we reaching our hands out to further the ministry of the gospel to which Christ so willingly gave his life for? Are we preaching the gospel freely to those who might have not yet received it? Or are we happy and content in the comfort zone of our everyday circles of Christianity and denominations? The gospel is that all that repent and believe on Him should not perish but have everlasting life. Is that your life today? Do you want to see others come to this Christ? Do you want to preach this good news to those who may have not heard or even to those who do not want to hear? Must I ask, when was the last time you offered the gospel to someone? Or should I ask this: do you only offer the gospel to those that you want to or do you only offer the gospel to the small groups society where you feel most comfortable?

Interaction- what would that look like?

Christ’s gospel is not cultural, and it is not only meant for one solid group of reformed individuals. If you want to live out the gospel then live out what you believe. You must preach it to all of mankind. The gospel is wealth to the poor, it is a home to the needy, and it is sight to the blind. What about the punk with chains all down his pants, the goth with black lips, what about the rich and prideful, the obese, the divorced woman with 5 kids, the homeless, the drug-addict, the alcohol-abuser, the tattooed freak, the wife beater, the “trailer park trash”, the prostitute, the orphan, the pimp, the adulterer? And the list goes on. And I ask where they are in our churches? They are sitting right outside, waiting for the gospel. Do we have them in our churches today? Or should I ask, would you have them in your churches today? Sadly, I am afraid that many of our conservative mainstream churches would never desire to deal with these issues or these types of people because of the problems they may bring. But oh, I tell you that the gospel of Christ has been offered to them all. They sit in our cities and our towns every day here in America waiting to hear Christ. We as the bride of Christ need to live out what saved us, the gospel of Christ. And if we do not reach them, we are not living a gospel-centered life like Christ did and has offered to all of us today. Must I remind you that the only reason that you sit here today and are not one of them is because of the gospel? Must I ask you, are you living out the gospel?

Conclusion- When will the church see this? When will the culture of lost men see the hope that lies in Christ, our advocate and our propitiation? Oh, what is more beautiful than this? I am asking now, tell me one thing greater, one thing more beautiful, one truth that surpasses this; I want one! There is none! There is nothing greater in life than the gospel. It is great to the lost, it is great to those young in the faith, it is what is great to the experienced believer, and it is what the old saint depends on in his later years. And in ending, we must know these truths of the Scripture so that we can carry out Christ’s message to this world. Sin is sick, and it has dragged mankind down to the state which he is in today. Sin has captured many souls over the years and is doing so as we speak. As John says, “And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” We have a Savior who has given the perfect sacrifice that can redeem those lost sinners, just like he did for you. His death on the cross on which He bore the sins of many has given hope to us and many more that will come to Christ before his return. Christ has reconciled his elect to his father and drank the cup of wrath so that God may forgive you. And he did this for the world. Amen!


[1] This will be hard to do, with already having Dr. Beeke, Dr. Murray, and Rev. Lanning having preached this text before.

[2] 1 John 2:7; 3:11

[3] Thomas Brooks, The Sword and the Trowel, vol. 7, 1884, p. 403.

[4] Hebrews 7:26

[5] R. C. Sproul, The Truth of the Cross, (Orlando, Reformation Trust, 2007), p. 81.

[6] Isaiah 53: 4-6, 10, Romans 8:3, and Galatians 3:13

[7] Steve Chakle and Alan Mann, The Lost Message of Jesus, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003), p. 182-3.

[8] Brad Jersak and Michael Hardin, eds., Stricken by God? Nonviolent Identification and the Victory of Christ (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2007), p.14.

[9] Jersak, Stricken by God?, p. 31.

[10] Hardin, Stricken by God?, p. 55.


Book of the Week: Jesus Ascended: The Meaning of Christ’s Continuing Incarnation


You can check out the great review at Orthodox Presbyterian Church.


The great LOVE of our Advocate, that should be remembered

On a national holiday here in America we often have boughten into them. Our culture and our tradition of society has won our boughten souls over more then we as believers even know. For this years (2008) “valentines” day may you focus on the greatest act of love that had ever existed, the CROSS. I would like to take this time for you to mediate on our Savior from sin, namely OUR ADVOCATE. May you enjoy my thoughts…

1 John 2:1-2 2:1 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

I. We have an advocate. Since Christ has finished his blood pouring out upon the cross in purchasing his elect, he now pleads on behalf of his elect for their forgiveness of sins.

a. Illustration- what does the Bible gives us?

Now look with me to the second half of verse one, “if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” Now when you read this, you almost would think that John is trying to say that you shouldn’t sin, but it is okay if you do, because you have an advocate. To that I would say that is not at all what he is trying to tell his readers. What kind of advocate is this? Read with me in the previous chapter in verse seven, “But if we walk in the light, as he is the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” From how much sin are we cleansed? We are cleansed from all sin. For it is the blood of Christ in which he gave that we the church can be forgiven by God for our sins. So what John is giving us here is that number one, don’t sin and number two, if you do sin, we have an advocate. This here is the center piece of my text. This word here is not used often in the New Testament and when used in all cases, it is used in describing what the Holy Spirit does. But John uses this to display the beauty of Christ as our best friend, the advocate. Well, for starters I need to explain what an advocate is. I believe the best definition of this is found in Scripture, in Hebrews 4:14-16. It reads,

Seeing then that we have a great high priest that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us, therefore, come boldly unto the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”

b. Application- what does this mean?

That is what an advocate is. Do you get that? Does your family get that? Does your church get that? This is what I am trying to describe to you, that when you know you have a sin issue, when you are struggling more than you ever have in your life, when you think your marriage is at its seams because of the selfish decisions you have made, when your kids do not listen because of the times that you have treated them un-Christ-like manner, Christ is there. When you have left God’s side and disobeyed his word time and time again constantly and willingly, Christ will plead for you, if you are his. And if you are not, today may be the day to meet your lawyer. When you have left God’s side and you have nowhere to run, no one to go to help any longer, and nowhere to hide in your sin, and no arms to comfort you, Christ will take care of His own.

When we are discouraged by our present state, depressed about the decisions we have made, feel abandoned because of the barriers we build between God, hurt because of the loneness that we have created, and abused by the torment of sin in our lives, Christ is there pleading on our behalf. This is why we pray “in Christ’s name.” All of our problems, all of our troubles, all of our asking of forgiveness of sin, are in Christ’s name. This is crucial to praying to God. Christ sets and pleads and intercedes on your behalf. And as sinners we need an advocate.

Interaction- what would that look like?

You know what makes this sweet though is Christ’s intercession for his bride. In the heavens, he is sitting beside his father in perfect communion, and you pray, and you ask God for forgiveness from what you have done. What do you think happens? You think Christ says, “Well father he’s really sorry this time.” You think he says, “Well he has not lusted in 3 weeks father, or he hasn’t been prideful lately, father.” You think that’s how God works? No, Christ says, “Look at my cross father, look at it. And look at my hands father, you see them, and my feet, you see my side, look at my cross father; look at my cross. My blood purchased these men father, and I plead on behalf of them with my redeeming, purchasing, sin cleansing pure blood father. That is my plea.” And that is your plea every time you pray to God in Christ’s name and ask for forgiveness before the almighty judge. Amen! God forgives you because he looks at your best friend, your lawyer; he looks at Christ’s blood and not you.


Book of the Week: The Shadow of Christ in the Law of Moses


Check out the review of the “book of the week” on Reformation Heritage Books, Blog. There you can read a review and purchase it.


CHARLES SPURGEON’S LOVE FOR CHRIST: Part Three

Charles Spurgeon’s Christ-likeness in The Sword and the Trowel

This leads us to how Charles Spurgeon lived what he preached. From the day of the winter storm which led him into a Methodist church in 1834 until his death in 1892, Spurgeon lived out the gospel that saved him. His life was full of difficulties, but he never changed what had and would never change in him. His articles in the Sword and the Trowel show his passions and desire to preach Christ always. Spurgeon’s passion was to see men come to know God and serve him. Spurgeon’s heart can be seen as Christ-like when he writes the following,

“To those who are thus earnest for the Lord’s glory I send my heart’s gratitude, and for those who are not as yet aroused to like ardor, I put up my fervent prayers that they may no longer lag behind their brethren. Our children are growing up around us, our great city is daily adding to its enormous bulk, and our cemeteries are being gorged with the dead; so long as one soul remained unsaved and in danger of the unquenchable fire, it behooves every Christian to be diligent to spread abroad the healing savor of the Redeemer’s name. Woe unto that man who conceals the light, while men are stumbling in the darkness. Woe unto him who keeps back the bread of life in the season of famine. Beloved, I am persuaded better things of you, though I thus speak.”[1]

Spurgeon not only preached and wrote of his love for Christ but lived out his theology, turning it in to doxology and showing others the gospel centered life he lead. This spirituality was easily seen in and throughout his life due to his many friends and popularity. Becoming a preacher at the age of nineteen and having a great sense of humor allowed Spurgeon to become both nationally as well as internationally known. With the spread of his messages and his publications his name was quickly well known. With this bought much popularity in all sides of Christianity, including liberalism, dispensationalism, hyper-Calvinist, and the well liked Reformed side.

During his pastorate and teaching, Spurgeon loved to teach others about how to preach Christ. Although he is often criticized in regard to his preaching style, he is praised for unpacking the text in an accurate manner; his heart was right. Spurgeon’s heart wanted to see all God’s people retain the same zeal and same passion in which they received Christ. Spurgeon life taught his students that preaching Christ was their number one calling and should be done boldly. He says,

As for Christ’s being our subject, I have spoken upon that theme so many times that there is the less need on this occasion to dwell upon it at any length. What other topic can engross a Christian minister’s attention? He is certainly untrue to him who called him if he puts his Master into any but the chief seat, or overshadows him with other themes. Whatever else you leave out let Christ Jesus never be forgotten. Preach all that you know about Christ—all that you have learned from the Scriptures, all that you have experienced at his hands, all that his Spirit; has enabled you to perceive and enjoy. “Not a bone of him shall be broken” set him forth in his entirety. Give each of his doctrines a fair share of your attention, for blessed are they who keep his sayings. Preach all that Christ set forth in his life; all that he commanded, all that he (lid, all that he suffered, and all that he was.”[2]

Although Spurgeon is criticized for being too young, too loose in his sense of humor, and not being serious enough, many great things are said about him. He is honored for his love for Christ, for Christ being the center of his preaching, for his pastoral shepherding, his care for kids, his teaching of students, and his magazine, The Sword and the Trowel. The reason that individuals enjoy Spurgeon is because of his profound sentences about Christ. He had a way with words that cut the heart and helped mold the convictions from Scripture. His clear presentation of the gospel touched the hearts of both sinners and saints both in his generation and ours. Charles Spurgeon painted beautiful pictures of Christ in words. He says,

“Our great concern is concerning Christ. “For him shall constant prayer be made.” It does not much matter what becomes of us, the common soldiers, so long, as our great Guard could defy death for themselves, but were over anxious about the emperor, so every loyal soldier of Christ feels that the one question in the present conflict is, “How goes it with the King?” Is he crowned? Is he exalted? Is he winning his way among the sons of men? Brothers, it may be that our star is waning.”[3]

Spurgeon’s words will forever live on in the believers of today and tomorrow. He paints pictures for the bride of Christ to follow. But he also encourages the believer to take up his duty and fight for her groom. He paints pictures in the mind of his readers to shine as a light for Christ and to never let that glow fade. The believer must never give up but keep on fighting for Christ. Spurgeon says later in the article, “We might, I say, have had seine trembling before of the ark of the Lord if this had been a mere inference or opinion; but we have none now; for as surely as this book is the infallible Word of God, so surely must Christ win the day. As surely as God cannot lie, so surely must he upon whom the Lord laid the iniquity of men, rise from all his sorrows to a glorious victory.”[4]

You may wonder how this shows Christ-likeness. Spurgeon, after being converted, changed and molded his life to that of Christ. He wanted his readers to know what gave him life to live and by revealing the Savior and Redeemer to those who listened and read his words, he showed what Christ did for him. Spurgeon in all meekness and kindness presented Christ to all those he could. It should always be stated that Spurgeon cared for others. He wanted others to see and know Christ like he did. He wanted all of mankind to come to Christ. Charles Haddon Spurgeon was man who truly stood for Christ and was a warrior of his own time, standing for the core beliefs and doctrine of Christ until the day he would meet Him face to face.


[1] Spurgeon, Letter from Mr. Spurgeon, p.57.

[2] Spurgeon, Vol. 6, 1881, Preach Christ in a Christly Manner, p.348.

[3] Spurgeon, 1882, Ever this Our War Cry! Victory! Victory!, p. 594.

[4] Spurgeon, p. 596.


CHARLES SPURGEON’S LOVE FOR CHRIST: Part Two

I. Charles Spurgeon Centrality of The Sword and the Trowel

Charles Spurgeon published his first magazine with only one article, What Shall be Done for Jesus? In this article he introduces the reasoning behind his ministry and most of all his number one passion in life, Christ. Spurgeon saw the importance to make his first article Christocentric, and show the importance of Christ to the believer. He reveals to the believer the importance of centering ministry and life in general on what Christ had accomplished in the believer by washing them pure from sin. Spurgeon explains the importance of the three offices of Christ (priest, prophet and king) and the signifigance of them to the believer to remember and live out. He reveals how Christ pleased and glorified God to his utmost and how the believer should as well. He pleads to both the lost and his flock, showing the importance of Christ–the gospel–to all of mankind. Spurgeon says,

In every other act of grace the design of the King is to honor the Lord Jesus. You cannot taste the sweetness of any doctrine till you have remembered Christ’s connection with it. You are washed from every sin, but how? Ye have “washed your robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” You are sumptuously arrayed from head to foot; ye are appareled as the King’s sons and daughters, but who is this that hath clothed you? Are you not robed in the righteousness of your Lord Jesus Christ? Up to this moment you have been preserved, but now? “Preserved in Christ Jesus.” The Holy Spirit is the author of your sanctification, but what has been the instrument by which he has purified you? He has cleansed you by the water which flowed with the blood from the wounds of the expiring Savior. Our eternal life is sure; because he lives, we shall live also.”[1]

It can be seen that Spurgeon’s love for Christ was always the center of his life, his preaching, his study, his writing, and most of all center of everything in which he did. Spurgeon is well known for his preaching Christ every Sunday morning. Today in the 21st century of America it is very easy to walk into a church and never hear of Christ in the Sunday morning message, but Spurgeon says this about his church,

We love Christ better than a sect, and truth better than a party, and so far are not denominational, but we are in open union with the Baptists for the very reason that we cannot endure isolation, lie who searches all hearts knows that our aim and object is not to gather a band around self, but to unite a company around the Savior.”[2]

Spurgeon’s love for Christ was most important not only to his personal life but in his pastoral life. His desire was to teach the importance of Christ to the lost and the found. Spurgeon wanted to reach the lost of his day, but moreover he wanted the ones in his flock to see the need for evangelism. This is why he would always preach to two crowds on a Sunday morning. One of Spurgeon’s enjoyments was to preach and teach the gospel of Christ to his flock. He would often publish articles for believers to read on how Christ could be enjoyed. One of the perfect examples of this would have been his letter in 1867 called; The Joy of the Lord is Your Strength.[3] Spurgeon would often reveal from the Scripture how Christ was the believer’s hope to for the church and that Christ was what was central to the believer’s life. Showing the necessity of Christ to the believer gave them the strength to become mature in the faith and grow in the pursuit of sanctification. Spurgeon saw that the spirituality of the believer needed to have a firm foundation of knowing Christ and living out Christ-likeness every day. One of his lengthy articles called Christ and His Table Companions shows just how important this relationship with Christ is in the life of the believer when it comes to the Lord Supper,

“We finish with this word of deep regret that many here cannot understand what we have been talking about, and have no part in it. There are some of you who must not come to the table of communion because you do not love Christ. You have not trusted him; you have no part in him. There is no salvation in sacraments. Believe me; they are but delusions to those who do not come to Christ with their heart. You must not come to the outward sign if you have not the thing signified. Here is the way of salvation — believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.”[4]

Spurgeon wanted all to know that the Lord’s Supper was not about playing games. He knew that some did not even know of Christ and for that he did not want them partaking or even trying to be seen in relationship with Christ. Spurgeon cared deeply about his people and cared much more for their souls than often times they did. His love for Christ was shown to his flock and how he preached to them every Sunday no matter what the audience’s spiritual condition was. There was always room for the believer to learn more about Christ. Spurgeon wanted the gospel to not only be a once-in-a-life changing event but something lived out daily. This Christ-centered approach not only helped the elect mold their lives to that of Christ, but allowed the gospel to be preached and offered freely to those who may have been sitting there with no clue about what was to be preached. For the lost coming to see and hear the prince of preachers was one thing, but to hear Christ exalted was above all things. Spurgeon loved to the see lost souls, damned to hell, come to the saving knowledge of Christ. This was why he preached, taught the Scriptures, and published books and magazines such as the Sword and the Trowel. If anyone loved preaching Christ to sinners it was Charles Spurgeon. Spurgeon’s spiritual sense for preaching was shown throughout his works by emphasizing on Christ always. Article after article written by Spurgeon clearly outlines how to know and see Christ. I often ask myself how one could possibly be lost after reading Charles Spurgeon’s articles on the saving Christ. One that is of great magnitude was written in 1877 entitled, To Seek and Saved Which is Lost. A section of this stated this,

“My dear friends, you and I were lost in the sense of having broken the law of God and having incurred his anger, but Jesus came and took the sin of men upon himself, and as their surety and their substitute he bore the wrath of God, so that God can henceforth be “just, and yet the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus.” This blessed doctrine of substitution, I would like to die talking of it, and I intend, by divine grace, to live proclaiming it, for it is the keystone of the gospel. Jesus Christ did literally take upon himself the transgression and iniquity of his people, and was made a curse for them, seeing that they had fallen under the wrath of God; and now every soul that believeth in Jesus is saved because Jesus has taken away the penalty and the curse due to sin. In this let us rejoice.”[5]

Christ was central to Spurgeon’s message, magazines, and most of all his life. Spurgeon wanted everyone to know the good news which had saved him and in every chance and way possible he spoke about His Savior. For him, this was not a job or a message that he gave. This was his life. Spurgeon could tell others about the joy and work of Christ because of the change that it Christ had made in him.


[1] Spurgeon, 1865, What Shall be Done for Jesus?, p. 7-8.

[2] Spurgeon, 1866, Spurgeonism, p. 252.

[3] Spurgeon, 1867, p. 356-59.

[4] Spurgeon, Vol. 3, 1873, The Lord and His Companions, p. 302.

[5] Spurgeon, Vol. 5, 1877, To Seek and Save Which are Lost, p. 43.


January 26, 2008: Saturday’s Video of the Week: Christ The Only Way – R.C. Sproul


The Sovereign Supremacy of Christ