Posts Tagged ‘Lord Jesus Christ’
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.
From J. C. Ryle:
The Christianity which I call fruit-bearing, that which shows its Divine origin by its blessed effects on mankind – the Christianity which you may safely defy unbelievers to explain away – that Christianity is a very different thing. Let me show you some of its leading marks and features.
(1) Fruit-bearing Christianity has always taught the inspiration, sufficiency, and supremacy of Holy Scripture. It has told people that God’s Word written is the only trustworthy rule of faith and practice in religion, that God requires nothing to be believed that is not in this Word, and that nothing is right which contradicts it. It has never allowed reason, a person’s mind, or the voice of the Church, to be placed above, or on a level with Scripture. It has steadily maintained that, however imperfectly we may understand it, the Old Book is meant to be the only standard of life and doctrine.
(2) Fruit-bearing Christianity has always taught fully the sinfulness, guilt and corruption of human nature. It has told people that they are born in sin, deserve God’s wrath and condemnation, and are naturally inclined to do evil. It has never allowed that men and women are only weak and pitiable creatures, who can become good when they please, and make their own peace with God. On the contrary, it has steadily declared a person’s danger and vileness, and their pressing need of a Divine forgiveness and satisfaction for their sins, a new birth or conversion, and an entire change of heart.
(3) Fruit-bearing Christianity has always set before people the Lord Jesus Christ as the chief object of faith and hope in religion, as the Divine Mediator between God and humanity, the only source of peace of conscience, and the root of all spiritual life. It has never been content to teach that He is merely our Prophet, our Example, and our Judge. The main things it has ever insisted on about Christ are the atonement for sin He made by His death, His sacrifice on the cross, the complete redemption from guilt and condemnation by His blood, His victory over the grave by His resurrection, His active life of intercession at God’s right hand, and the absolute necessity of simple faith in Him. In short, it has made Christ the Alpha and the Omega in Christian theology.
(4) Fruit-bearing Christianity has always honored the Person of God the Holy Spirit, and magnified His work. It has never taught that all professing Christians have the grace of the Spirit in their hearts, as a matter of course, because they are baptized, or because they belong to the Church, or because they partake of Holy communion. It has steadily maintained that the fruits of the Spirit are the only evidence of having the Spirit, and that those fruits must be seen, – that we must be born of the Spirit, led by the Spirit, sanctified by the Spirit, and feel the operations of the Spirit, – and that a close walk with God in the path of His commandments, a life of holiness, charity, self-denial, purity, and zeal to do good, are the only satisfactory marks of the Holy Spirit.
Summary ► Such is true fruit-bearing Christianity. Well would it have been for the world if there had been more of it during the last nineteen centuries! Too often, and in too many parts of Christendom, there has been so little of it, that Christ’s religion has seemed extinct, and has fallen into utter contempt. But just in proportion as such Christianity as I have described has prevailed, the world has benefited, the unbeliever has been silenced, and the truth of Divine revelation been acknowledged. The tree has been known by its fruit.
via J.C. Ryle Quotes.
The believer’s confidence in Christ increases along with their confidence in Scripture and, conversely, ignorance of the Scriptures is automatically and proportionately ignorance of Christ
Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics Vol. 1: Prolegomena (Grand Rapids, MI; Baker Academic, 2003), 440.
HT The Old Guys.
North Coates 6 5. 6 5
Every precious blessing
Comes from God above;
Everything we have is
From his heart of love.
Jesus is the best gift,
Coming down to save:
Dying for his people,
Rising from the grave.
Gracious Spirit, give us
Hearts to trust the Son,
Souls that overflow with
Praise for all he’s done.
See all hymns and psalms.
(Note: this hymn was written with children particularly in mind.)
The elect are gathered into Christ’s flock by a call not immediately at birth, and not all at the same time, but according as it pleases God to dispense his grace to them. But before they are gathered unto that supreme Shepherd, they wander scattered in the wilderness common to all; and they do not differ at all from others except that they are protected by God’s especial mercy from rushing headlong into the final ruin of death. If you look upon them, you will see Adam’s offspring, who savor of the common corruption of the mass. The fact that they are not carried to utter and even desperate impiety is not due to any innate goodness of theirs but because the eye of God watches over their safety and his hand is outstretched to them!
John Calvin via The Old Guys.
It was a few months ago that one of my sons had an accident. He was playing outside the house and he caught his finger in the gate of one of our neighbours. I was out at the time, but when I got home my wife asked me to take a look at it (I am usually the applier of plasters and anointer with Germolene [a sort of universal palliative, for those who don’t know it] in our household). One glance told me that something was amiss – more accurately, askew. The nail just didn’t look right. The brave little guy, who deals well with pain, was pretty robust, but we decided to head down to the local casualty/walk-in centre. Being a child (barely turned three years old), William was seen quite quickly, and the nurse also took one look at the finger and informed me that he would be seen tomorrow. Being dull of wit, I asked what she meant.
“He will be admitted to hospital tomorrow for an operation to re-attach the nail to the nail bed in the hopes that it will grow properly,” she said.
“Oh,” I said, “thanks.”
So, with Will’s finger well bandaged and a fairly cheerful grin still on his face, we headed home as I tried to explain what would happen. Will is not familiar with hospitals, and the place with the specialist plastic surgery stuff was one that I have rarely visited. We spent a few hours trying to prepare him for what was coming, and tried to take the edge off by making a song and dance of the packing, and making sure he had a good meal (nothing to eat in the morning before the operation).
It was cold but fairly dry in the morning. Will was pretty pale and dopey as we loaded him into the car complete with the books and toys that we had selected to make the whole process as palatable as possible. He looked . . . small. The ride to the hospital went well, and we even discovered that there was no parking charge on Sundays, which was a pleasant bonus. The nurses were great, and the doctors proficient as they checked things over. A couple of hours ticked past as we waited for more urgent surgeries to be completed.
Then it was Will’s turn. He got to ride his bed through the hospital as I walked alongside, holding his hand, turning through corridors first erected to provide shelter for RAF pilots suffering from burns and other wounds inflicted while fighting in the skies over Britain and elsewhere. We were ushered into a fairly clinical room in which the anaesthetic was to be administered, and they inserted a cannula into his small, pale arm. They asked me to hold him, and told him that this might hurt a bit. Like I said, he’s a fairly tough little kid, and barely flinched when the cannula went in. The lower lip of this proud father trembled a bit at his bravery.
Then the anaesthetic. You need to talk to him, they said. Distract him. William wanted me to sing. His favourite CD at the time was a collection of Christmas folk songs, so I sang an ancient version of “Hark! The herald angels sing.” They told me to hold him because once the drug went in he would go very floppy. He sat on my lap and smiled at me. They inserted the syringe in the cannula. “Hold on,” they said. “Hold on, son,” I said. “Cradle his head,” they said, and began to inject.
My vulnerable, pale little boy looked up at me as he lay in my arms, listening to me sing. I was very conscious that there was very little that I could do for him; I was weak and helpless myself, and here he was trusting in me. He flinched as the cold fluid began to pour in – “It’s OK, Will” – glanced over, and then looked back. His gaze barely wavered. They could have been doing anything to him, putting anything into his body. It did not seem to matter to him, because Daddy was holding him. He was in his father’s arms. I felt the effects of the anaesthetic, and there was a horrible moment – a sort of choke – when his breath seemed to catch in his throat, and the song died in mine. He went utterly limp. I don’t know if I will ever forget laying him back on his bed.
I prayed quite a lot over the next hour or so, waiting for the surgery to be completed and to be allowed back to see William, and I could not help but see certain parallels between his experience and mine, lessons which I need to relearn in my life as a son.
They could have done anything to William, but he was content, because he knew I was holding him. With a sort of perfection of childlike trust, he knew that I would not allow anything bad to happen to him. Is this the disposition our Lord commends when he points to the example of children in the Gospels? If my son can be at peace in my weak arms, under my limited gaze, how much more ought we to be able to rest safe in the everlasting arms of our heavenly Father? And do I not have an even better example than William? I know another son. He had more insight than William, more awareness and understanding, and far greater suffering. He was dying, and in the hour of death he wrestled with unfathomable agony of spirit. But he trusted, and when he died, he bowed his head and said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Lk 23.46, quoting Psalm 31.5).
And so, there may be great threats about me. There may be dangers of which I am entirely unaware. There may be enemies surrounding me. Sufferings may be my portion. Pains may wrack my body and soul. Death itself may be upon me. But I need to look up with eyes and faith unflinching, and I need to trust. After all, I too am in my Father’s arms.
If you appreciated this, you might also find this hymn profitable.
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.