“The crucified, resurrected, and exalted Christ” by Herman Bavinck

“It is the crucified but also the resurrected and exalted Christ whom the apostles proclaim. From that vantage point of the exaltation of Christ, they view and describe His earthly life, suffering, and death.

For the work He now carries out as the exalted mediator, He laid the foundations in His cross. In His battle with sin, the world, and Satan, the cross has been His only weapon.

By the cross He triumphed in the sphere of justice over all powers that are hostile to God. But in the state of exaltation, consequently, He has also been given the divine right, the divine appointment, the royal power and prerogatives to carry out the work of re-creation in full, to conquer all His enemies, to save all those who have been given Him, and to perfect the entire kingdom of God.

On the basis of the one, perfect sacrifice made on the cross, He now—in keeping with the will of the Father—distributes all His benefits. Those benefits are not the physical or magical aftereffect of His earthly life and death; the history of the kingdom of God is not an evolutionistic process.

It is the living and exalted Christ, seated at the right hand of God, who deliberately and with authority distributes all these benefits, gathers His elect, overcomes His enemies, and directs the history of the world toward the day of His parousia.

He is still consistently at work in heaven as the mediator. He not only was but still is our chief prophet, our only high priest, and our eternal king. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

There is, of course, an enormous difference between the work Christ did in His humiliation and what He accomplishes in His exaltation. Just as after the resurrection, His person appeared in another form, so also His work assumed another form.

He is now no longer a servant but Lord and Ruler, and His work is now no longer a sacrifice of obedience, but the conduct of royal dominion until He has gathered all His own and put all His enemies under His feet.

Nevertheless, His mediatorial work is continued in heaven. Christ did not ascend to heaven in order to enjoy a quiet vacation at the right hand of God, for, like the Father, He always works (John 5:17).

He went to heaven to prepare a place for His own there and to fill them here on earth with the fullness that He acquired by His perfect obedience. What He received as a reward for His labor for Himself and what He received for His own cannot be separated. He is all and in all (Col. 3:11).

The pleroma (fullness) that dwells in Christ must also dwell in the church. It is being filled with all the fullness of God (Eph. 3:19; Col. 2:2, 10).

It is God whose fullness fills Christ (Col. 1:19), and it is Christ whose fullness in turn fills the church (Eph. 1:23). The church can therefore be described as His pleroma, that which He perfects and gradually, from within Himself, fills with himself (Eph. 4:10), and is therefore itself being filled by degrees.

As the church does not exist apart from Christ, so Christ does not exist without the church. He is ‘the head over all things’ (Eph. 1:22; Col. 1:18), and the church is the body (σωμα) formed from Him and from Him receives its growth (Eph. 4:16; Col. 2:19), thus growing to maturity ‘to the measure of the full stature of Christ’ (Eph. 4:13).

The union between Christ and the church is as close as that between the vine and the branches, between bridegroom and bride, husband and wife, cornerstone and building.

Together with Him it can be called the one Christ (1 Cor. 12:12). It is to perfect the church that He is exalted to the Father’s right hand.

Just as through His suffering and death Christ was exalted in His resurrection and ascension to be head of the church, so now the church has to be formed into the body of Christ.

The work of the Mediator is one grand, mighty, divine work that began in eternity and will only be completed in eternity.”

–Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics: Sin and Salvation in Christ, vol. 3Ed. John Bolt, and trans. John Vriend (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2006), 473–475.

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“The most beautiful and glorious object in the world” by Jonathan Edwards

“Another property of light is to be beautiful and pleasant to behold. How dreadful is it to be in horrid darkness, how horrible is it to nature; and how pleasing is the light, how agreeable is it to the eyes.

Men manifest it as soon as they are born: how glorious and beautiful is the sun to behold; what a dismal, gloomy, dreadful place would this world be if it were not for the light. What is more beautiful and glorious that can be beheld with bodily eyes than the light?

So, likewise, Jesus Christ is infinitely the most beautiful and glorious object in the world. When the soul is enlightened by Christ to behold Him, the soul is greatly delighted with the sight of Him, as a little infant is delighted when gazing at the light.

‘Tis a far more pleasant thing to behold Jesus Christ than to look on the sun in his meridian glory, for Jesus Christ is an infinite excellency and beauty.”

–Jonathan Edwards, “Christ, the Light of the World,” in Sermons and Discourses 1720-1723, The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 10, Ed. Wilson H. Kimnach (New Haven: Yale, 1992), 539. Edwards was 18 years old when he preached this sermon. It may be read here in its entirety.

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“When the glorious morning comes” by Jonathan Edwards

“Is Christ Jesus the light of the world? What glorious times will those be when all nations shall submit themselves to Him, when this glorious light shall shine into every dark corner of the earth, and shall shine much more brightly and gloriously than ever before.

It will be like the rising of the sun after a long night of darkness, after the thick darkness had been ruling and reigning over all nations and poor mankind had been groping about in gross darkness for many ages.

When this glorious morning comes, then those that never saw light before shall see it and be astonished at its glory.

Then the world, which has been in a kind of dead sleep for this many ages, shall rouse up and begin to open their eyes and look forth to behold this glorious light of the world.

Then will the sweet music of God’s praises begin to be heard.”

–Jonathan Edwards, “Christ, the Light of the World,” in Sermons and Discourses 1720-1723, The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 10, Ed. Wilson H. Kimnach (New Haven: Yale, 1992), 544. Edwards was 18 years old when he preached this sermon. It may be read here in its entirety.

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“Endless, bottomless, boundless grace” by John Owen

“Observe the endless, bottomless, boundless grace and compassion that is in Christ, who is thus our husband, as He is the God of Zion. It is not the grace of a creature, nor all the grace that can possibly at once dwell in a created nature, that will serve our turn.

We are too indigent to be suited with such a supply. There was a fullness of grace in the human nature of Christ,—He received not ‘the Spirit by measure,’ John 3:34; a fullness like that of light in the sun, or of water in the sea; a fullness incomparably above the measure of angels.

Yet it was not properly an infinite fullness,—it was a created, and therefore a limited fullness. If it could be conceived as separated from the Deity, surely so many thirsty, guilty souls, as every day drink deep and large draughts of grace and mercy from Him, would (if I may so speak) sink Him to the very bottom.

Nay, it could afford no supply at all, but only in a moral way. But when the conduit of His humanity is inseparably united to the infinite, inexhaustible fountain of the Deity, who can look into the depths thereof?

If, now, there be grace enough for sinners in an all-sufficient God, it is in Christ; and, indeed, in any other there cannot be enough. The Lord gives this reason for the peace and confidence of sinners, Isa. 54:4, 5, ‘Thou shalt not be ashamed, neither be thou confounded; for thou shalt not be put to shame.’

But how shall this be? So much sin, and not ashamed! So much guilt, and not confounded! ‘Thy Maker,’ saith He, ‘is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is His name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall He be called.’

This is the bottom of all peace, confidence, and consolation,—the grace and mercy of our Maker, of the God of the whole earth. So are kindness and power tempered in Him—He is our God and our Göel, our Redeemer.

‘Look unto Me,’ saith He, ‘and be ye saved; for I am God, and none else,’ Isa. 45:22, ‘Surely, shall one say, In the LORD have I righteousness,’ verse 24.

And on this ground it is that if all the world should (if I may so say) set themselves to drink free grace, mercy, and pardon, drawing water continually from the wells of salvation, if they should set themselves to draw from one single promise, an angel standing by and crying, ‘Drink, O my friends, yea, drink abundantly, take so much grace and pardon as shall be abundantly sufficient for the world of sin which is in every one of you;’—they would not be able to sink the grace of the promise one hair’s breadth.

There is enough for millions of worlds, if they were; because it flows into it from an infinite, bottomless fountain.

‘Fear not, O worm Jacob, I am God, and not man’ is the bottom of sinners’ consolation. This is that most precious fountain of grace and mercy.

This infiniteness of grace, in respect of its spring and fountain, will answer all objections that might hinder our souls from drawing nigh to communion with Him, and from a free embracing of Him. Will not this suit us in all our distresses?

What is our finite guilt before it? Show me the sinner that can spread his iniquities to the dimensions (if I may so say) of this grace. Here is mercy enough for the greatest, the oldest, the stubbornest transgressor.”

–John Owen, Communion With God in The Works of John Owen, ed. William H. Goold, vol. 2 (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, n.d.), 61–62.

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“What a wonder!” by Stephen Charnock

“Now let us consider, what a wonder of power is all this: the knitting a noble soul to a body of clay, was not so great an exploit of Almightiness, as the espousing infinite and finite together.

Man is further distant from God, than man from nothing.

What a wonder is it, that two natures infinitely distant, should be more intimately united than anything in the world; and yet without any confusion!

That the same person should have both a glory and a grief; an infinite joy in the Deity, and an inexpressible sorrow in the humanity!

That a God upon a throne should be an infant in a cradle.

That the thundering Creator be a weeping babe and a suffering man.

These are such expressions of mighty power, as well as condescending love, that they astonish men upon earth, and angels in heaven.”

–Stephen Charnock, “On the Power of God” in The Existence and Attributes of God, vol. 2 (Robert Carter & Brothers, 1853), 63–64.

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“What a marvelous way of speaking!” by Martin Luther

“So far as justification is concerned, Christ and I must be so closely attached that He lives in me and I in Him. What a marvelous way of speaking!

Because He lives in me, whatever grace, righteousness, life, peace, and salvation there is in me is all Christ’s; nevertheless, it is mine as well, by the cementing and attachment that are through faith, by which we become as one body in the Spirit.

Since Christ lives in me, grace, righteousness, life, and eternal salvation must be present with Him; and the Law, sin, and death must be absent. Indeed, the Law must be crucified, devoured, and abolished by the Law—and sin by sin, death by death, the devil by the devil.

In this way Paul seeks to withdraw us completely from ourselves, from the Law, and from works, and to transplant us into Christ and faith in Christ, so that in the area of justification we look only at grace, and separate it far from the Law and from works, which belong far away…

But faith must be taught correctly, namely, that by it you are so cemented to Christ that He and you are as one person, which cannot be separated but remains attached to Him forever and declares: ‘I am as Christ.’

And Christ, in turn, says: ‘I am as that sinner who is attached to Me, and I to him. For by faith we are joined together into one flesh and one bone.’

Thus Eph. 5:30 says: ‘We are members of the body of Christ, of His flesh and of His bones,’ in such a way that this faith couples Christ and me more intimately than a husband is coupled to his wife.”

–Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 26: Lectures on Galatians, 1535, Chapters 1-4, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann, vol. 26 (Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999), 167–168.

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“The fruit of free grace” by Thomas Brooks

“Look upon all that you have received, and all that you shall hereafter receive, as the fruit of free grace.

Look upon thy adoption, and write this motto, This is the fruit of free grace.

Look upon thy justification, and write this motto, This is the fruit of free grace.

Look upon all thy graces, and write, These are the fruits of free grace.

Look upon thy experiences, and write, These are the fruits of free grace.

Look upon thy strength to withstand temptations, and write, This is the fruit of free grace.

Look upon divine power to conquer corruptions, and write, This is the fruit of free grace.

Look upon the bread thou eatest, the beer thou drinkest, the clothes thou wearest, and write, These are the fruits of free grace.

1 Cor. 4:7, ‘Who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou hast not received? and if thou hast received it, why dost thou glory as though thou hadst not received it? Who maketh thee to differ?’

This age is full of such proud monsters, but an humble soul sees free grace to be the spring and fountain of all his mercies and comforts. He writes free grace upon all his temporals, and upon all his spirituals.”

–Thomas Brooks, The Unsearchable Riches of Christ, in The Complete Works of Thomas Brooks, ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart, vol. 3 (Edinburgh; London; Dublin: James Nichol; James Nisbet and Co.; G. Herbert, 1661/1866), 39.

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