The Wanderer

As I walked through the wilderness of this world …

Archive for the ‘Christology’ Category

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

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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

Ransomer

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I remember the first time I read Warfield on what it meant for Christ to redeem his people, to be our Ransomer:

There is no one of the titles of Christ which is more precious to Christian hearts than “Redeemer.” There are others, it is true, which are more often on the lips of Christians. The acknowledgment of our submission to Christ as our Lord, the recognition of what we owe to Him as our Saviour, – these things, naturally, are most frequently expressed in the names we call Him by. “Redeemer,” however, is a title of more intimate revelation than either “Lord” or “Saviour.” It gives expression not merely to our sense that we have received salvation from Him, but also to our appreciation of what it cost Him to procure this salvation for us. It is the name specifically of the Christ of the cross. Whenever we pronounce it, the cross is placarded before our eyes and our hearts are filled with loving remembrance not only that Christ has given us salvation, but that He paid a mighty price for it.

B.B. Warfield, “Redeemer and Redemption” in The Person and Work of Christ (P&R), 325, via The Old Guys.

If your would like to do your soul a little good, read the whole piece.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Thursday 2 February 2012 at 18:40

“That lovely, lovely man”

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There is a lady who belongs to the church which I serve. She cannot leave her home at present because of her physical condition, itself substantially the result of a botched operation several years ago. She has been close to death on several occasions. Although she often grieves over her pain, and has often expressed a desire to be free from it, her great complaint and most often-expressed desire are that she might be able to gather with God’s people on the Lord’s day to worship him.

When I go to see her, she often looks pale and drawn. I take her CDs of the sermons, and she listens to them and then sends them on to others so that they can also enjoy the ministry. She tells me that all she really has opportunity to do is to read and to pray. She is not a well-educated woman, and often excuses her lack of learning, but her Bible, she says, is a “Godsend” (I smile when she says this kind of thing, because she has little idea how full and accurate is her speech). She loves her Bible. She particularly loves Romans 8, Proverbs 3, and Isaiah 53. She loves to read the Gospels, and she talks about “that lovely, lovely man” of whom she reads, and how he lived and suffered and died for her, and her eyes fill with tears as she talks about how her eyes fill with tears whenever she thinks of how they hated, and spat at, and slaughtered “that lovely, lovely man.” You see, she knows him. Sometimes I almost think she sees him. She talks to him and walks with him. She loves him absolutely, personally, really. To her, Jesus of Nazareth is not a collection of doctrines, not a list of facts, not a remnant of history, but the God-man who loved her and laid down his life to save her from her sins before rising again from the dead, and who now lives and reigns and cares for her and all his flock.

And, as ever, I read and I pray and I leave, feeling very inadequate to minister to a woman whose personal devotion to the Lord Christ puts mine so much in the shade.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Wednesday 1 February 2012 at 14:39

Posted in Christology

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Preaching the incarnation

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Paul Levy channels Thomas Watson:

He was poor, that he might make us rich.
He was born of a virgin that we might be born of God.
He took our flesh, that he might give us His Spirit.
He lay in the manger, that we may lie in paradise.
He came down from heaven, that he might bring us to heaven . . .

That the ancient of Days should be born.
that he who thunders in the heavens should cry in the cradle . . .
that he who rules the stars should suck the breast;
that a virgin should conceive;
that Christ should be made of a woman, and of that woman which himself made,
that the branch should bear the vine,
that the mother should be younger than the child she bare,
and the child in the womb bigger than the mother;
that the human nature should not be God, yet one with God.

Christ taking flesh is a mystery we shall never fully understand till we come to heaven.

If our hearts be not rocks, this love of Christ should affect us . Behold love that passeth knowledge! (Eph 3:19)

Thomas Watson, A Body of Divinity, 196, 198

Written by Jeremy Walker

Tuesday 13 December 2011 at 08:53

The altogether lovely one

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Here is an excerpt from a sermon by William Cunningham concerning the surpassing excellence of the Lord Jesus, seeking to stir the hearts of his people – indeed, of all people – to faith and adoration:

Christ, however, has all the properties of the Godhead and as God, He has an undoubted right to the first place in our affections, while He is possessed of such glorious perfections and stands m such a relation to us, that supreme love to Him should be the natural and proper result of any view which we take of Him, and of any attempt which we make to realize Him. No man hath seen God at any time; but the only-begotten Son, who was in the bosom of the Father, He hath revealed Him. And one purpose for which God sent His Son into the world was, that He might manifest Himself to us in such a way as might more than ever constrain us to love Him. The apostle tells us, 1 John iv.9: ‘In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him;’ and one use we ought to make of the information which we have received concerning Christ is, to constrain us to obey the first and great commandment. But in endeavouring to use the record God has given concerning His Son, for impressing the Divine character and perfections upon our minds, and shedding abroad the love of God in our hearts, let us never forget that Christ is Himself God over all,—that He is Himself the object whom in the first great commandment we are required to love with all our hearts,—that He is possessed of all those perfections which render that commandment a reasonable one,—and that the giving Him all the honour and respect to which He is entitled, is guarded by an express reference to the day of judgment, and the decision there to be pronounced with respect to our eternal condition. Surely, then, though you have never seen Christ, yet when you know well and believe firmly that He has been from eternity, and is still, possessed of every perfection and excellence,—that He has always been, and still is, the author of every good and perfect gift,—surely you must be constrained to love Him, and to love Him far more than you have ever yet done. . . .

In short, the more carefully you examine the life of Christ as recorded in the Gospels, the more clearly will you see how all His thoughts, and words, and actions, were regulated by consummate wisdom,—by unspotted moral excellence,—by the most amiable and affectionate dispositions;—and when you thus, in realizing His character as exhibited in His life, contemplate Him as a pattern of all moral excellence,—as possessed of every quality fitted to command esteem and to call forth affection,—you will feel a holy exultation, that the same nature which you wear once appeared in such a form and aspect,—that One—who was a partaker of flesh and blood like yourselves—should have exhibited such a faultless pattern of everything that is excellent and beautiful;—and by all these views, and upon all these grounds, you will feel constrained to ‘love’ Him.

You know that Christ was God, possessed of all the perfections of Divinity;—and you know likewise that He was a most beautiful and perfect specimen of Humanity,—exhibiting His excellences amid perpetual and painful sufferings. You are to contemplate Him in these lights, that you may be constrained to love Him.

William Cunningham, Sermons, 162-164

Written by Jeremy Walker

Tuesday 22 November 2011 at 13:17

A divine Saviour

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“Why did Christ have to be true God?” asks the delightfully named Confession of Tarcal (1562) and Torda (1563). Here is the answer:

That same mediator had to be not only man but also true God, for the reasons which we will state.

1.) For first, if He were not true God, He would not be a Savior, but rather one in need of a Savior (Isa. 43:1, 3; Hos. 13:4; Jer. 14:8).

2.) Again, it is necessary that there be found before the righteousness of God parity between sin and punishment. For if the divine majesty, which is offended by sin, is infinite, then sin too is infinite and merits infinite punishment. From this, it appears that there was need of one that would suffer punishment as a man and at the same time be infinite, i.e., true God.

3.) Third, since the wrath of God is infinite there was no strength, angelic or human, great enough to bear such a burden. He had, therefore, to be not only man but also true God that was to overcome the devil, sin, the world, the wrath of God and death and to rise again (John 14:6; 2 Cor. 5:19).

4.) In order to display His incomprehensible goodness, God further did not wish to make His grace only equal to our sin, but wished to surpass it. For that reason Adam, the author of our wretchedness, was so madein the likeness of God that, nevertheless, he could be earthly, as his weakness showed; but on the contrary, the second Adam, Jesus Christ, through whom we are set free, should be true and perfect man and yet the Lord from heaven, i.e., true God, in who resided all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.

Surely, if the disobedience of Adam terrifies us greatly, the righteousness of Jesus rather establishes us much more. And we hope that the life obtained in Jesus Christ is much better than that which we lost in Adam, as Christ surpasses Adam (Rom. 5:15).

Written by Jeremy Walker

Monday 26 September 2011 at 13:10

The sum of our salvation in Christ

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Guy Davies shows us Calvin the worshipping poet:

When we see that the whole sum of our salvation,
and every single part of it, are comprehended in Christ,
we must beware of deriving even the minutes portion
of it from any other quarter.

If we seek salvation,
we are taught by the very name of Jesus that he possesses it;
if we seek any other gifts of the Spirit, we shall find them in his unction;
strength in his government;
purity in his conception;
indulgence in his nativity,
in which he was made like us in all respects,
in order that he might learn to sympathise with us.

If we seek redemption,
we shall find it in his passion;
acquittal in his condemnation;
remission of the curse in his cross;
satisfaction in his sacrifice;
purification in his blood;
reconciliation in his descent to hell;
mortification of the flesh in his sepulchre.

Newness of life in his resurrection;
immortality also in his resurrection;
the inheritance of a celestial kingdom
in his entrance into heaven;
protection, security, and the abundant supply
of all blessings, in his kingdom;
secure anticipation of judgement
in the power of judging committed to him.

In fine, since in him all kinds of blessings are treasured up,
let us draw a full supply from him, and none from any other quarter.

(From Institutes Book II:16:19. Versified by Guy Davies)

Written by Jeremy Walker

Friday 9 September 2011 at 08:44

Posted in Christology

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Review: “Glimpses of the Inner Life of Our Lord & The Emotions of Jesus”

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Glimpses of the Inner Life of Our Lord & The Emotions of Jesus

William G. Blaikie & Robert Law

Tentmaker Publications, 1995, 114pp & 76pp., cloth

ISBN 1 899003 12 6

There are not many works that deal sensitively and Scripturally with the emotional life of Christ, but these stand high in the ranks. Blaikie is perhaps a little less speculative than Law, but both works are grounded in Biblical revelation, and avoid flights of fancy. The style is of its time, but not overly florid, rather well-developed and rich. Time and again the reader must simply sit back and bow the head, adoring again the God-man so faithfully and fully presented in these pages, and pleading with God to be conformed to his image. Profoundly devotional while spiritually purifying and demanding, any sincere believer would find these works of great profit, and elders will find themselves thoroughly stimulated for pastoral and pulpit ministry. Both these volumes, published together by Tentmaker, are now available independently of each other in paperback. Either, but perhaps especially Blaikie, would be worth having.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Saturday 19 February 2011 at 08:54

Plenty of Christ

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David Murray has been posting some stimulating “Christ-rich” material recently:

His material on covenant theology is also very helpful for those who hold to the principle, even if you might not agree with all the nuances. You will find more at the HeadHeartHand Media site.

Very much worth your time.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Friday 4 February 2011 at 09:06

Posted in Christology, Theology

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The champion

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Have you ever needed a champion? Perhaps you have faced an enemy against whom you have had no defences, or been oppressed and cruelly treated and have had no protection. You have been in danger but had no strength to fight; or trapped, with no way of escape. You have needed someone to stand on your behalf, someone to defend you and deliver you, strong to save you and protect you. You have needed a champion.

In truth, every one of us needs a champion in the truest and deepest sense. Mankind has an enemy, Satan. He is cruel, oppressing us in sin and misery, and we have no strength to defeat our pride, our anger, our lust, our loneliness, our shame, our grief, and our bitterness: we are enslaved, enchained. We are in danger, and he is dragging us down to the Pit. We are trapped in the dominion of darkness. We are fearfully exposed to punishment for our sins as those who have followed him.

This was true from the beginning, when Adam our father sold himself to Satan and cut himself off from God. But even then, God was full of mercy, and there at the dawn of time he stepped in and promised a champion to defeat our Adversary, a great victory at grave cost to himself:

I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel. (Gen 3.15)

And then the world waited, looking for God’s champion. And, over time, more was revealed.

To Abraham, God promised a seed through whom all the nations of the earth should be blessed (Gen 12.3). Jacob identified Judah as the royal tribe from whom the sceptre should not depart, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes (Gen 49.10). Balaam, impelled by the Spirit of God, looked into the distant future:

I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near; a Star shall come out of Jacob; a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and batter the brow of Moab, and destroy all the sons of tumult. (Num 24.17)

The Lord promised David that – after his death – he would establish the throne of the kingdom of David’s son forever (2Sam 7.12-16). Isaiah spoke of a God-given sign: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Is 7.14). He spoke of the response of the nations to this Servant of God:

Arise, shine; for your light has come!
And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you.
For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth,
And deep darkness the people;
But the Lord will arise over you,
And His glory will be seen upon you.
The Gentiles shall come to your light,
And kings to the brightness of your rising.
Lift up your eyes all around, and see:
They all gather together, they come to you;
Your sons shall come from afar,
And your daughters shall be nursed at your side.
Then you shall see and become radiant,
And your heart shall swell with joy;
Because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you,
The wealth of the Gentiles shall come to you.
The multitude of camels shall cover your land,
The dromedaries of Midian and Ephah;
All those from Sheba shall come;
They shall bring gold and incense,
And they shall proclaim the praises of the Lord.
All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered together to you,
The rams of Nebaioth shall minister to you;
They shall ascend with acceptance on my altar,
And I will glorify the house of my glory. (Is 60.1-7)

Jeremiah spoke of a coming day and a coming King and Priest from the house of David:

‘Behold, the days are coming,’ says the Lord, ‘that I will perform that good thing which I have promised to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah: In those days and at that time I will cause to grow up to David a Branch of righteousness; he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell safely. And this is the name by which she will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.’ For thus says the Lord: ‘David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel; nor shall the priests, the Levites, lack a man to offer burnt offerings before me, to kindle grain offerings, and to sacrifice continually.’ (Jer 33.14-18)

Then there is Micah, who speaks of one who is himself eternal and yet comes forth out of Bethlehem to rule, shepherding the people of God (Mic 5.2).

Over time, the pens of prophecy sketch a portrait of increasing depth and detail, and a picture of the champion slowly emerges.

And still the earth was waiting.

And then, one night in Bethlehem, all the lines of promise converged in a child who was born of a virgin, the eternal Son of the Most High, and a true man; he was of Abraham’s seed, Judah’s line, and David’s house; he was the King of the Jews and the Gentiles bowed before him. In this Jesus, declared by angels to be Christ the Lord, all the threads of promise twisted into a single cord. Truly, Bethlehem, “the hopes and fears of all the years / Are met in thee tonight.” God’s champion has arrived on the stage of the world. It is worth noting that before he has drawn breath for many days, the malevolence of his enemy is unleashed against him in the slaughter of the infants: battle is joined!

But this is only a beginning; it is not an ending. We have looked only at a few brief promises concerning only his birth. There are countless others that speak of his living, dying, rising, reigning and returning. He has come to stand for his people, to oppose their enemy and defeat him utterly, to set us free from his cruel reign and to restore us to God.

This is not mere coincidence; it is far too complex for that. It is not fantasy; it is far too well-attested for that. This is promise and fulfilment.

Come to Bethlehem. What do you see? An excuse for a temporary bout of niceness? A chance for a get-together, perhaps a family gathering or a party of some kind? A bit of token spirituality for the festive season? A reason to try a little harder this year?

Or do you see a weak infant who is the infinitely mighty God? The eternal Lord a few days born? A ruler, though despised? A king born into a carpenter’s home? A poor baby who is a crowned warrior?

Behold your champion, the Saviour sent from God to deliver and defend from sin, death and hell. Any other Jesus is both false and useless, a lie and a vanity. But this Jesus is a Saviour for you, and if you will take him and trust him as God makes him known, then you will be saved, delivered from Satan’s clutches and miseries as you bow, and worship, and adore, and believe with Mary and Joseph, the shepherds, the wise men, and with all those who have been redeemed by his holy life and sacrificial death, keeping company with angels in the praises of the Redeemer.

Commit your eternal soul to the care of God’s champion: his Son, born in the city of David, a Saviour who is Christ the Lord.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Saturday 25 December 2010 at 00:05

We would see Jesus

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Kevin DeYoung has a couple of very stimulating posts about the fulfilment of Old Testament prophecy in the person and work of the Lord Christ here and here. They are well worth pondering.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Thursday 9 December 2010 at 22:07

“That’s my King!”

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Written by Jeremy Walker

Saturday 13 November 2010 at 11:09

Knowing God in Christ

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From a sermon by David Clarkson on Philippians 3.8, concerning the excellent knowledge of Christ:

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

“The Excellent Knowledge of Christ” in The Works of David Clarkson (1864, reprint, Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1988), 1:255.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Thursday 14 October 2010 at 12:07

Christ’s early conscecration

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William G. Blaikie comments on Jesus’ question to Mary, “Do you not know that I must be about my Father’s business?”

The question implies that Mary knew something of the aims and feelings of Jesus and therefore leads us to think of the intercourse they must have had together on such topics. It carries our thoughts to the nurture and admonition of the Lord in which she would bring Him up. And deeply interesting it is to consider what must have been the lessons which she would teach Him as soon as He was able to understand the Old Testament and its wonderful stories. It was her privilege to begin at a different point from all other mothers: she would not need to urge Him to give His heart to God; but, finding it with God already, would rather seek to develop and ripen the spirit of consecration, dwelling eagerly on the lives of those who had been remarkable for their devotion: of Enoch and Abraham, of Moses and Caleb and Joshua, of Samuel and David, and the long chain of godly men who, often in the face of bitter persecution, had worked so bravely for God in the world. And how apt a learner she must have found Him! How soon would His sympathies show themselves on the right side! How soon would the desire shape itself to take up the old banner, and continue the old work; to vindicate the Divine law, so shamefully trampled on; to draw men to love and honour the Father, and to walk in righteousness before him all the days of their lives! How early must this have appeared to Jesus the grandest object for which men could live! How soon must all other modes and purposes of life – the pursuit of wealth, or of pleasure, or of fame, or even of wisdom and learning considered in themselves – have dwindled into insignificance, compared with a life devoted to the glory of God and the highest good of man!  It is plain that Jesus was possessed with such thoughts from His childhood; even at the age of twelve, the purpose to devote His life to the work of His Father had banished all rivals from His heart.  Formally, Mary might continue to be His teacher, and never would her Son consciously make the office painful to her; yet how soon must she have felt that she had more need to learn of Him than He of her, whether the lessons might be lessons of the understanding or lessons of the heart.  (Glimpses of the Inner Life of Our Lord, Tentmaker Publications, 1995, 9-10)

Which of us, like Mary, does not find his heart exposed by the heart of this child?  Which of us does not realise that he needs to sit at the feet even of the boy Jesus, and discover what true consecration looks like?  Which of us does not need to learn from him, whether the lessons might be of the understanding or of the heart?

Written by Jeremy Walker

Tuesday 24 August 2010 at 09:18

Christ faintly written

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I have mentioned before that I am trying to use this beautiful edition of Tyndale’s New Testament for much of my devotional Bible reading this year.  As I was reading in Romans 5 this morning, I came across this delightful marginal note:

If the text is a little tricky, Tyndale gives our verse 14 thus (spelling modernised): “Nevertheless, death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them also that sinned not, with like transgression as did Adam: which is the similitude of him that was to come.”

As you will see, the owner of the original volume from which this copy is taken has faintly scratched in a name alongside the description, “him that was to come”: Christ.

How often in the Old Testament are there predictions and premonitions “him that was to come” – from Adam’s person and experience onward – alongside which we might faintly write the name Christ? With the light of the New Testament shining back into the Old, ought we not to be able to see more and more how often and how readily the person and work of our Saviour appears?  Our Lord himself, on the road to Emmaus, “beginning at Moses and all the Prophets . . . expounded to [the two discples] in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Lk 24.27).

We should learn to look in the Old Testament for those shadows of “him that was to come” and to write alongside it in our margin that brightest and highest of names: Christ.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Tuesday 17 August 2010 at 20:09

Santa Christ?

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santa-christScott Clark points us to Sinclair Ferguson at Ligonier on a Santa Claus Christology.  This brief essay is excerpted from Professor Ferguson’s outstanding book, In Christ  Alone (see review).

Ferguson writes:

The Scriptures systematically strip away the veneer that covers the real truth of the Christmas story. Jesus did not come to add to our comforts. He did not come to help those who were already helping themselves or to fill life with more pleasant experiences. He came on a deliverance mission, to save sinners, and to do so He had to destroy the works of the Devil (Matt. 1:21; 1 John 3:8b).

Read the whole article for an antidote to saccharine sentiment and skewed supernaturalism this Christmas.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Monday 1 December 2008 at 20:44

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