The Wanderer

As I walked through the wilderness of this world …

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Desiring Christ

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John Flavel, preaching in his Method of Grace on alluring the hearts of men to come to Christ, focuses on his being “the desire of all nations.” He asserts that “the desires of God’s elect in all kingdoms, and among all people of the earth, are, and shall be drawn out after, and fixed upon the Lord Jesus Christ.” Having explored the title, and asked why and how it is appropriate, Flavel spends most of his sermon in applying these truths. He concludes with seven uses of direction for stirring up heart desires toward Christ, as follows:

Do these, or any other considerations, put thee upon this enquiry; how shall I get my desires kindled and enflamed towards Christ? Alas! my heart is cold and dead, not a serious desire stirring in it after Christ. To such I shall offer the following directions.

Flavel, JohnDirect. 1. Redeem some time every day for meditation; get out of the noise and clamour of the world, Psal. 4:4. and seriously bethink yourselves how the present state of your soul stands, and how it is like to go with you for ever: here all sound conversion begins, Psal. 69:5–9.

Direct. 2. Consider seriously of that lamentable state, in which you came into the world; children of wrath by nature, under the curse and condemnation of the law: so that either your state must be changed, or you inevitably damned, John 3:3.

Direct. 3. Consider the way and course you have taken since you came into the world, proceeding from iniquity to iniquity. What command of God have you not violated a thousand times over? What sin is committed in the world, that you are not one way or other guilty of before God? How many secret sins upon your score, unknown to the most intimate friend you have in the world? Either this guilt must be separated from your souls, or your souls from God to all eternity.

Direct. 4. Think upon the severe wrath of God due to every sin; “The wages of sin is death,” Rom. 6:23. And how intolerable the fulness of that wrath must be when a few drops sprinkled upon the conscience in this world, are so insupportable, that hath made some to chuse strangling rather than life; and yet this wrath must abide for ever upon you, if you get not interest in Jesus Christ, John 3:36.

Direct. 5. Ponder well the happy state and condition they are in who have obtained pardon and peace by Jesus Christ, Psal. 32:12. And seeing the grace of God is free, and you are set under the means thereof; why may not you be as capable thereof as others?

Direct. 6. Seriously consider the great uncertainty of your time, and preciousness of the opportunities of salvation, never to be recovered, when they are once past, John 9:4. let this provoke you to lay hold upon those golden seasons whilst they are yet with you; that you may not bewail your folly and madness, when they are out of your reach.

Direct. 7. Associate yourselves with serious Christians; get into their acquaintance, and beg their assistance; beseech them to pray for you; and see that you rest not here, but be frequently upon your knees, begging of the Lord a new heart, and a new state.

In conclusion of the whole, let me beseech and beg all the people of God, as upon my knees, to take heed, and beware, lest by the carelessness and scandal of their lives they quench the weak desires beginning to kindle in the hearts of others. You know what the law of God awards for striking a woman with child, so that her fruit go from her, Exod. 21:22, 23. O shed not soul-blood, by stifling the hopeful desires of any after Christ.

Blessed be God for Jesus Christ, the desire of all nations.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Tuesday 24 September 2019 at 09:03

Alphabetizing the Saviour

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A friend sent me an excerpt from the Inauguration Address of William Swan Plumer as Professor of Didactic and Pastoral Theology at Western Theological Seminary in 1854. Some readers might know Plumer as the commentator on the Psalms, or as author of other excellent works. Within a couple of paragraphs in the written record, he takes off, flies, and soars. Here is his magnificent opening gambit. Do read it, soak in it, profit by it, and live in the light of it.

Jesus Christ is a wonderful, glorious person. To look away from self and man to Christ, is to lay hold on everlasting life. If men would be safe, let them flee to him. When he is in the ascendant, the night flies away, and the morning comes – a morning without clouds. His names and titles are as important as they are significant. Every one of them is as ointment poured forth. His lips drop as the honey-comb – honey and milk are under his tongue, and the smell of his garments is like the smell of Lebanon. His people sit under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit is sweet to their taste. To them he is altogether lovely. He is their Advocate, the angel of the covenant, the author and finisher of faith. He is as the apple-tree among the trees of the wood, the alpha and the omega, the Beloved, the shepherd and bishop of souls, the bread of life, the bundle of myrrh, the bridegroom, the bright and morning star, the brightness of the Father’s glory, and the express image of his person.

He is their Creator, captain, counselor, covenant, cornerstone, covert from the tempest, a cluster of camphor, and chiefest among ten thousand. He is to them as the Dew, the door into the fold, a diadem, a daysman, a day-star, a deliverer, and the desire of all nations, ranks and generations of pious men.

In their eyes he is the Elect Emmanuel, the everlasting Father, and eternal life. He is a Fountain of living waters to thirsty souls, of joy to troubled ones, of life to dying ones. He is the foundation on which his people, with safety, build their hopes of heaven. He is the father of eternity, the fir-tree under whose shadow the saints rejoice, the first and the last, the first fruits, the first-born among many brethren, and the first begotten from the dead.

To his chosen he is as the most fine Gold, a guide, a governor, a glorious Lord, God, the true God over all, God blessed forever. He is Head of the church, the help, the hope, the husband, the heritage, the habitation of his people. He is the horn of their salvation. He rides upon the heavens by his name, JAH. He is the Jehovah of armies, the Inheritance, Judge and King of his people. He is their Light, their life, their leader, their law-giver, their atoning lamb, the lily of the valley, the lion of the tribe of Judah.

He is the Man Christ Jesus, the master, the mediator, the minister of the true sanctuary which the Lord pitched, and not man. He is the mighty God of Isaiah, the morning-star of John, the Michael of Daniel, the Melchisedek of David and Paul, and the Messiah of all the prophets. He is the Only-begotten of the Father – full of grace and truth. He is both the root and the off-spring of David. He is the Peace, the prince, the priest, the prophet, the purified, the potentate, the propitiation, the physician, the plant of renown, the power of God, the passover of all saints. He is a polished shaft in the quiver of God.

He is the Rock, the refuge, the ruler, the ransom, the refiner, the redeemer, the righteousness and the resurrection of all humble souls. He is the rose of Sharon. He is the Seed of the woman, the seed of Abraham, the seed of David, the Son of God, the son of man, the strength, the shield, the surety, the shepherd, the Shiloh, the sacrifice, the sanctuary, the salvation, the sanctification, and the sun of righteousness of all believers.

He is that holy thing that was born of Mary. He is the Truth, the treasure, the teacher, the temple, the tree of life, the great testator of his church. He is the Way, the well of salvation, the word of God, the wisdom of God, the faithful witness, the wonderful.

His person is one; but his natures are two. He is both human and divine, finite and infinite, created and uncreated. He was before Abraham, though not born till for ages the patriarch had slept with his fathers. He was dead, and is alive forevermore. On earth he had not where to lay his head, yet he disposes of all diadems. He has the arm of a God, and the heart of a brother. To him all tongues shall confess and all knees bow; yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered. None loves like him, none pities like him, none saves like him. It is not surprising that such a person lives and reigns in the hearts of his people. No marvel that the virgins love him, and the saints praise him, and the martyrs die for him, and the sorrowing long for him, and the penitent pour out their tears before him, and the humble trust in him, and the believing lay fast hold of him. His frown shakes the heavens, his smile gives life, his presence converts dungeons into palaces, his blood cleanses from all sin, his righteousness is the white robe of the redeemed.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Thursday 6 September 2018 at 10:23

Posted in Christology

Tagged with ,

Another question on the Confession of Faith

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OK, folks, we are still in chapter eight, this time in paragraph six, which reads in the original as follows:

6. Although the price of Redemption was not actually paid by Christ, till after his Incarnation, (*) yet the vertue, efficacy, and benefit thereof were communicated to the Elect in all ages successively, from the beginning of the World, in and by those Promises, Types, and Sacrifices, wherein he was revealed, and signified to be the Seed of the Woman, which should bruise the Serpents head; (h) and the Lamb slain from the foundation of the World: (i) Being the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.

* 1 Cor. 4.10. Heb. 4.2. 1 Pet. 1.10,11.

h Rev. 13.8.

i. Heb. 13.8.

Here I offer two questions for the price of one:

First, in modern glosses, the word “successively” is almost invariably dropped altogether. I am not sure why this is (enlightenment appreciated). However, my question is, what might be the precise signification of the word? Let me offer some possibilities (feel free to suggest others): could or does “successively” mean “in their turn” and/or “by increasing degrees” and/or “continuously”?

Second, and this is one where no-one has yet offered me a satisfactory answer, one of the proofs for the price of redemption paid by Christ following his incarnation is 1 Corinthians 4.10, which reads: “We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are distinguished, but we are dishonoured!” I understand that in considering the reasons why certain proofs were chosen you have to take into account the whole interpretive tradition but I am intrigued by what the framers of this document intended, and am still trying to work out precisely what sense and nuance they had in mind. Any answers, ideas or suggestions are welcome.

So, fire away, with thanks.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Wednesday 15 May 2013 at 07:44

Confessional questions

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Thank you, one and all, for your responses here and on Facebook to the question about Chapter 8, paragraph 2, of the Confession of Faith, and the reference to the Son as Creator.

I am glad to say that I am in agreement with those who have responded, and am glad to have my sense confirmed. In summary, here would be my thinking on the matter, working roughly from the lesser to the greater:

  • The interpretation that the phrase refers to the Son himself is consistent with the normal grammar and punctuation of the confession here and throughout.
  • The chapter and the paragraph as a whole deal with the person of Christ as Mediator, and one should anticipate that he would be the subject of such a statement. As David pointed out, the structure of the paragraph as a whole also points to the Son at this point.
  • The historical antecedents (specifically the 1644/46 and the 1596 True Confession) carry us in this direction.
  • It is consistent with the teaching of Scripture as a whole, and with the specific teaching of such portions as John 1.1-3, Colossians 1.16-17 and Hebrews 1.3, 10.

Because this online brains trust thing can be fun, another question will follow shortly.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Wednesday 15 May 2013 at 07:42

Here’s a confessional question . . .

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In chapter 8 of the 1677/89 Baptist Confession of Faith, concerning Christ the Mediator, the second paragraph begins as follows (with original puncutation):

The Son of God, the second Person in the Holy Trinity, being very and eternal God, the brightness of the Fathers glory, of one substance and equal with him: who made the World, who upholdeth and governeth all things he hath made: . . .

Many of the modern editions basically read it as if it said that the Son of God is of one substance and equal with God who made the world and who upholds and governs all things he has made (i.e. they ditch the first colon).

Others of the modern editions read it as if it said that the Son of God is of one substance and equal with the Father. A second statement follows to the effect that the Son made the world and upholds and governs all that he made. In other words, they take the colon (as it often is employed in the confession) as starting a new clause concerning the subject of the paragraph, the Son of God.

Normally, one might turn to the commentaries on the Westminster Confession to see if any further light might be shed, but the phrase in question is introduced by the Baptists (the Savoy gents do not use it either). Without wishing to prejudice anyone in a particular direction by further discussing the punctuation of the Confession or considering which interpretation (if either) is more theologically full and/or accurate, or indeed by stating my own inclination, I wonder if any friends of the blog might opine on this one, especially Baptists who have taught this part of the confession.

Answers on a postcard, please, or failing that, in the comments section below. Thanks in advance.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Saturday 11 May 2013 at 21:58

Name him with many names

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Names or epithets and ascriptions applied to the Lord Jesus Christ in the first chapter of John’s Gospel:

  1. The Word
  2. God
  3. Life
  4. Light
  5. The true light
  6. The only begotten of the Father
  7. Full of grace and truth
  8. Jesus Christ
  9. The only begotten Son
  10. The Lord
  11. The Lamb of God
  12. Jesus
  13. A Man
  14. The Son of God
  15. Rabbi
  16. Teacher
  17. Messiah
  18. Christ
  19. The Son of Joseph
  20. The King of Israel
  21. The Son of Man

An observation by one Aretius, recorded in JC Ryle’s Expository Thoughts on John, and passed on by adaysmarch.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Tuesday 14 August 2012 at 09:10

Posted in Christology

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The eternal generation of the Son

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Scripture teaches that Jesus Christ is both one with the Father and yet distinct from the Father. The doctrine of the “eternal generation” plays an important role in securing both points. This doctrine teaches that the Father eternally communicates the divine essence to the Son without division or change so that the Son shares an equality of nature with the Father (sharing all the attributes of deity) yet is also eternally distinct from the Father.

Although the eternal generation of the Son is affirmed in early confessions such as the Nicene-Constantinopolitan creed (AD 381) and post-Reformation statements like the Westminster Confession, several prominent evangelical theologians object to this doctrine on the grounds that it lacks biblical support. Evangelicals who reject this doctrine frequently point out that the Greek word monogenes (John 1:18; 3:16) does not mean “only begotten” but rather “unique.” Since the mistranslation of monogenes (allegedly) represents one of key lines of biblical evidence, one should dispense with eternal generation as a theological relic of a bygone era.

In light of this, how should we think about eternal generation?

Keith Johnson offers a fascinating, instructive, and stimulating answer to this question.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Tuesday 3 July 2012 at 12:55

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