Category Archives: Biblical Theology

“The treasures of Paradise have been opened to you in the gospel” by John Calvin

“When you hear that the gospel presents you Jesus Christ in whom all the promises and gifts of God have been accomplished, and when it declares that He was sent by the Father, and has descended to the earth and spoken among men perfectly all that concerns our salvation, as it was foretold in the Law and to the Prophets — it ought to be most certain and obvious to you that the treasures of Paradise have been opened to you in the gospel and that the riches of God have been exhibited and eternal life itself revealed.

For, this is eternal life; to know one, only true God, and Jesus Christ whom he has sent, whom He has established as the beginning, the middle, and the end of our salvation.

Christ is Isaac, the beloved Son of the Father who was offered as a sacrifice, but nevertheless did not succumb to the power of death.

He is Jacob the watchful shepherd, who has such great care for the sheep which He guards.

He is the good and compassionate brother Joseph, who in His glory was not ashamed to acknowledge His brothers, however lowly and abject their condition.

He is the great sacrificer and bishop Melchizedek, who has offered an eternal sacrifice once for all.

He is the sovereign lawgiver Moses, writing His law on the tables of our hearts by His Spirit.

He is the faithful captain and guide Joshua, to lead us to the Promised Land.

He is the victorious and noble king David, bringing by His hand all rebellious power to subjection.

He is the magnificent and triumphant king Solomon, governing His kingdom in peace and prosperity.

He is the strong and powerful Samson, who by His death has overwhelmed all His enemies.

It follows that every good thing we could think or desire is to be found in this same Jesus Christ alone. For, He was sold, to buy us back; captive, to deliver us; condemned, to absolve us; He was made a curse for our blessing, sin offering for our righteousness; marred that we may be made fair; He died for Our life; so that by Him fury is made gentle, wrath appeased, darkness turned into light, fear reassured, despisal despised, debt canceled, labor lightened, sadness made merry, misfortune made fortunate, difficulty easy, disorder ordered, division united, ignominy ennobled, rebellion subjected, intimidation intimidated, ambush uncovered, assaults assailed, force forced back, combat combated, war warred against, vengeance avenged, torment tormented, damnation damned, the abyss sunk into the abyss, hell transfixed, death dead, mortality made immortal.

In short, mercy has swallowed up all misery, and goodness all misfortune.

For all these things which were to be the weapons of the devil in his battle against us, and the sting of death to pierce us, are turned for us into exercises which we can turn to our profit.

If we are able to boast with the apostle, saying, ‘O hell, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?’ it is because by the Spirit of Christ promised to the elect, we live no longer, but Christ lives in us.

And we are by the same Spirit seated among those who are in heaven, so that for us the world is no more, even while our conversation is in it. But we are content in all things, whether country, place, condition, clothing, meat, and all such things. And we are comforted in tribulation, joyful in sorrow, glorying under vituperation, abounding in poverty, warmed in our nakedness, patient amongst evils, living in death.

This is what we should in short seek in the whole of Scripture: truly to know Jesus Christ, and the infinite riches that are comprised in Him and are offered to us by Him from God the Father.

If one were to sift thoroughly the Law and the Prophets, he would not find a single word which would not draw and bring us to Him. And for a fact, since all the treasures of wisdom and understanding are hidden in Him, there is not the least question of having, or turning toward, another goal.”

–John Calvin, “Preface to Olivetan’s New Testament” in Calvin: Commentaries (Library of Christian Classics, Vol. XXIII), Ed. Joseph Haroutunian (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1958), 68-70.

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“Sitting down at one table” by Herman Bavinck

“The blessedness of communion with God is enjoyed in and heightened by the communion of saints. On earth already this communion is a wonderful benefit of faith.

Those who for Jesus’s sake have left behind house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields already in this life receive houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and fields—along with persecutions—(Mark 10:29–30), for all who do the will of the Father are Jesus’s brother and sister and mother (Matt. 12:50).

Through the mediator of the New Testament, believers enter into fellowship, not only with the militant church on earth, but also with the triumphant church in heaven, the assembly of the firstborn, the spirits of the righteous made perfect, even with innumerable angels (Heb. 12:22–24).

But this fellowship, though in principle it already exists on earth, will nevertheless be incomparably richer and more glorious when all dividing walls of descent and language, of time and space, have been leveled, all sin and error have been banished, and all the elect have been assembled in the new Jerusalem.

Then will be fully answered the prayer of Jesus that all His sheep may be one flock under one Shepherd (John 10:16; 17:21). All the saints together will then fully comprehend the breadth and length and height and depth of the love of Christ (Eph. 3:18–19).

They will together be filled with all the fullness of God (Eph. 3:19; Col. 2:2, 10), inasmuch as Christ, Himself filled with the fullness of God (Col. 1:19), will in turn fill the believing community with Himself and make it His fullness (πληρωμα, plērōma; Eph. 1:23; 4:10).

And sitting down at one table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Matt. 8:11), they will unitedly lift up a song of praise to the glory of God and of the Lamb. (Rev. 4:11; 5:12)”

–Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics: Holy Spirit, Church, and New Creation, Vol. 4, Ed. John Bolt, and Trans. John Vriend, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2008), 4: 722–723.

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Roark Family Advent Devotional

A few years ago I created an advent devotional for my family. Folks have asked for a copy of it over the years, so I’m happy to share it here. Enjoy!

–Nick

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“Dr. Motyer concluded” by Timothy Keller

“Approximately forty years ago, during the summer between my undergraduate college years and seminary, I was working and living with my parents in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.

One evening I drove over the mountains down into a long valley in the midst of the Laurel Highlands and came eventually to the Ligonier Valley Study Center, just outside the little Western Pennsylvania hamlet of Stahlstown, where R.C. Sproul was hosting at his regular weekly Question and Answer session a British Old Testament scholar, J. Alec Motyer.

As a still fairly new Christian, I found the Old Testament to be a confusing and off-putting part of the Bible. I will always remember his answer to a question about the relationship of Old Testament Israel to the church (I can’t remember if R.C. posed it to him or someone from the audience).

After saying something about the discontinuities, he insisted that we were all one people of God. Then he asked us to imagine how the Israelites under Moses would have given their ‘testimony’ to someone who asked for it. They would have said something like this:

We were in a foreign land, in bondage, under the sentence of death. But our mediator— the one who stands between us and God— came to us with the promise of deliverance. We trusted in the promises of God, took shelter under the blood of the lamb, and he led us out. Now we are on the way to the Promised Land. We are not there yet, of course, but we have the law to guide us, and through blood sacrifice we also have his presence in our midst. So he will stay with us until we get to our true country, our everlasting home.

Then Dr Motyer concluded: ‘Now think about it. A Christian today could say the same thing, almost word for word.’ My young self was thunderstruck.

I had held the vague, unexamined impression that in the Old Testament people were saved through obeying a host of detailed laws but that today we were freely forgiven and accepted by faith.

This little thought experiment showed me, in a stroke, not only that the Israelites had been saved by grace and that God’s salvation had been by costly atonement and grace all along, but also that the pursuit of holiness, pilgrimage, obedience, and deep community should characterize Christians as well.”

–Timothy Keller, “Foreward” in Alec Motyer, A Christian’s Pocket Guide to Loving the Old Testament (Geanies House, Fearn, Ross-shire, Scotland, Great Britain: Christian Focus Publications, 2015), ix-x. Keller also alludes to this Motyer quote here.

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“The cross of Jesus Christ” by John Newton

“Dear Sir,

I have procured Cennick’s sermons;—they are in my judgment sound and sweet. O that you and I had a double portion of that spirit and unction which is in them!

Come, let us not despair: the fountain is as full and as free as ever—precious fountain, ever flowing with blood and water, milk and wine.

This is the stream that heals the wounded, refreshes the weary, satisfies the hungry, strengthens the weak, and confirms the strong: it opens the eyes of the blind, softens the heart of stone, teaches the dumb to sing, and enables the lame and paralytic to walk, to leap, to run, to fly, to mount up with eagle’s wings: a taste of this stream raises earth to heaven, and brings down heaven upon earth.

Nor is it a fountain only; it is a universal blessing, and assumes a variety of shapes to suit itself to our wants.

It is a sun, a shield, a garment, a shade, a banner, a refuge: it is bread, the true bread, the very staff of life: it is life itself, immortal, eternal life!

The cross of Jesus Christ, my Lord,
Is food and medicine, shield and sword.

Take that for your motto; wear it in your heart; keep it in your eye; have it often in your mouth, till you can find something better.

The cross of Christ is the tree of life and the tree of knowledge combined. Blessed be God!

There is neither prohibition nor flaming sword to keep us back; but it stands like a tree by the highway side, which affords its shade to every passenger without distinction.

Watch and pray. We live in a sifting time: error gains ground every day. May the name and love of our Saviour Jesus keep us and all his people! Either write or come very soon.

Yours,

John Newton”

–John Newton, “Letter IV – January 10, 1760” in The Works of John Newton, Vol. 2, Ed. Richard Cecil (London: Hamilton, Adams & Co., 1824), 67–68.

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“Biblical theology is essential ” by Graeme Goldsworthy

“The serious and informed teaching of biblical theology is essential to the life of the church, like the hub of a wheel. The hub of the church and of the life of the believer is Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen Lord.

He is not only the hermeneutical center of the whole Bible, but, according to the biblical testimony, He gives ultimate meaning to every fact in the universe. He is thus the hermeneutical principle of all reality.”

–Graeme Goldsworthy, “Biblical Theology as the Heartbeat of Effective Ministry,” in Biblical Theology: Retrospect & Prospect, Ed. Scott Hafemann (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002), 284.

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“Amen and Amen” by J.C. Ryle

“I have now completed my notes on St. John’s Gospel. I have given my last explanation.

I have gathered my last collection of the opinions of Commentators. I have offered for the last time my judgment upon doubtful and disputed points.

I lay down my pen with humbled, thankful, and solemnized feelings.

The closing words of holy Bullinger’s Commentary on the Gospels, condensed and abridged, will perhaps not be considered an inappropriate conclusion to my Expository Thoughts on St. John:

‘Reader, I have now set before thee thy Saviour the Lord Jesus Christ, that very Son of God, who was begotten by the Father by an eternal and ineffable generation, consubstantial and coequal with the Father in all things;—but in these last times, according to prophetical oracles, was incarnate for us, suffered, died, rose again from the dead, and was made King and Lord of all things.

This is He who is appointed and given to us by God the Father, as the fulness of all grace and truth, as the Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world, as the ladder and door of heaven, as the serpent lifted up to render the poison of sin harmless, as the water which refreshes the thirsty, as the bread of life, as the light of the world, as the redeemer of God’s children, as the shepherd and door of the sheep, as the resurrection and the life, as the corn of wheat which springs up into much fruit, as the conqueror of the prince of this world, as the way, the truth, and the life, as the true vine, and finally, as the redemption, salvation, satisfaction, and righteousness of all the faithful in all the world, throughout all ages.

Let us therefore pray God the Father, that, being taught by His Gospel, we may know Him that is true, and believe in Him in whom alone is salvation; and that, believing, we may feel God living in us in this world, and in the world to come may enjoy His eternal and most blessed fellowship.’

Amen and Amen.”

–J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on John, Volume 3 (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1880), 472–473.

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