Category Archives: Biblical Theology

“The external word is the instrument, the internal word the aim” by Herman Bavinck

“The difference between Rome and the Reformation in their respective views of tradition consists in this: Rome wanted a tradition that ran on an independent parallel track alongside of Scripture, or rather, Scripture alongside of tradition.

The Reformation recognizes only a tradition that is founded on and flows from Scripture. To the mind of the Reformation, Scripture was an organic principle from which the entire tradition, living on in preaching, confession, liturgy, worship, theology, devotional literature, etc., arises and is nurtured.

It is a pure spring of living water from which all the currents and channels of the religious life are fed and maintained. Such a tradition is grounded in Scripture itself.

After Jesus completed his work, he sent forth the Holy Spirit who, while adding nothing new to the revelation, still guides the church into the truth (John 16:12–15) until it passes through all its diversity and arrives at the unity of faith and the knowledge of the Son of God (Eph. 3:18, 19; 4:13).

In this sense there is a good, true, and glorious tradition. It is the method by which the Holy Spirit causes the truth of Scripture to pass into the consciousness and life of the church. Scripture, after all, is only a means, not the goal.

The goal is that, instructed by Scripture, the church will freely and independently make known “the wonderful deeds of him who called it out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9).

The external word is the instrument, the internal word the aim. Scripture will have reached its destination when all have been taught by the Lord and are filled with the Holy Spirit.”

–Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics: Prolegomena, Vol. 1, Ed. John Bolt, and Trans. John Vriend (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2003), 493–494.

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“Christ, the Sun of Righteousness” by John Calvin

“The Lord held to this orderly plan in administering the covenant of His mercy: as the day of full revelation approached with the passing of time, the more He increased each day the brightness of its manifestation.

Accordingly, at the beginning when the first promise of salvation was given to Adam (Gen. 3:15) it glowed like a feeble spark.

Then, as it was added to, the light grew in fullness, breaking forth increasingly and shedding its radiance more widely. At last– when all the clouds were dispersed– Christ, the Sun of Righteousness, fully illumined the whole earth.”

–John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion (ed. John T. McNeill; trans. Ford Lewis Battles; vol. 1; The Library of Christian Classics; Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2011), 1: 446. (2.10.20)

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“It was right there in the text” by D.A. Carson

“Paul assesses the significance of Israel and the Sinai covenant within the larger biblical narrative. It is this essentially salvation-historical reading of Genesis that enables him to come within a whisker of treating the Sinai covenant as a parenthesis: the law’s most important function is to bring Israel, across time, to Christ—and to bring others, too, insofar as the ‘law’ is found among those ‘without the law.’

Here, then, too, we obtain a glimpse of how something could be simultaneously long hidden / eventually revealed and long prophesied / eventually fulfilled. It was right there in the text (provided one reads the Scriptures with careful respect for the significance of the historical sequence), even though, transparently, this was not how it was read by Paul the Pharisee.

Doubtless it took the Damascus road Christophany to make Saul of Tarsus recognize that his estimate of Jesus was wrong: Jesus could not be written off as a (literally) God-damned malefactor if in fact His glorious resurrection proved He was vindicated, and so the controlling paradigm of his reading of the Old Testament had to change.

But when it changed, Paul wanted his hearers and readers to understand that the Old Testament, rightly read in its salvation-historical structure, led to Christ.

In other words, as far as Paul was concerned the gospel he preached was announced in advance in the Scriptures, and was fulfilled in the events surrounding the coming, ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus—even if this gospel had long been hidden, and was now revealed in those events and thus in the gospel Paul preached—the gospel revealed, indeed, through the prophetic writings.”

–D.A. Carson, “Mystery and Fulfillment: Toward a More Comprehensive Paradigm of Paul’s Understanding of the Old and the New,” in Justification and Variegated Nomism: The Paradoxes of Paul (ed. Peter T. O’Brien and Mark A. Seifrid; vol. 2, 181st ed.; Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament; Grand Rapids, MI; Tübingen: Baker Academic; Mohr Siebeck, 2004), 2: 427–428.

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“The only foundational pillar of the new world” by G.K. Beale

“Now that Christ has come and has launched a new cosmos, the old cosmos has begun to be destroyed. The only element or fundamental building block of the new creation is Christ.

And since there is only one Christ, of whom the new creation consists and upon whom it is built, there can be only one newly created people subsisting in that renovated creation. In what sense can it be said that the old world has already begun to be destroyed?

The elements of divisiveness that sustained the sinful structure of the old world have been decisively decimated by Christ, and He Himself has replaced them as the only foundational pillar of the new world.

This is what Paul has in mind in Gal. 6:14–16, where he says that through the cross of Christ ‘the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. And those who will walk by the elements (stoichēsousin) of this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, even upon the Israel of God.’

That is, those who conduct their lives on the foundational ‘elements’ of Christ, who is the inaugurated new creation, are partakers of the new creation, and they will experience the peace and unity promised to occur in the new heaven and earth.

We could picture Christ as a hermeneutical filter through which the law must pass in order to get to the new creation.”

–G.K. Beale, A New Testament Biblical Theology: The Unfolding of the Old Testament in the New (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2011), 874–875.

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“Only Jesus” by Stephen Wellum

“Given who Jesus is, we must also be led to worship, adoration, faith in Him alone, and a glad and willing submission to His Lordship in every area of our lives. In Jesus Christ, God the Son incarnate, we see the Lord of Glory, who has taken on flesh in order to become our all-sufficient Redeemer.

By sharing our common human nature, the Son of God is now able to do a work that we could never do. In His incarnation and cross work, we see the resolution of God to take upon Himself our guilt and sin in order to reverse the horrible effects of the fall and to satisfy His own righteous requirements, to make this world right, and to inaugurate a new covenant in His blood.

In Jesus Christ, we see the perfectly obedient Son taking the initiative to keep His covenant promises by taking upon himself our human nature, veiling His glory, and winning for us our eternal salvation.

Our Savior and Redeemer is utterly unique. This is why there is no salvation outside of him. He is in a category all by himself in who He is and in what He does.

In fact, because our plight is so desperate, due to sin, the only person who can save us is God’s own dear Son. It is only as the Son incarnate that our Lord can represent us; it is only as the Son incarnate that He can put away our sin, stand in our place, and turn away God’s wrath by bearing our sin.

Only Jesus can satisfy God’s own righteous requirements, because He is one with the Lord as God the Son; only Jesus can do this for us because He is truly a man and can represent us.”

—Stephen J. Wellum, God the Son Incarnate: The Doctrine of Christ (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2016), 442-443.

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“The Lord of glory” by Stephen Wellum

“The all-glorious Creator—Covenant Lord assumed a full and sinless human nature, such that the eternal Son became a man in order to restore humanity to its vice-regent glory and to inaugurate the new creation, over which the new humanity will rule in righteousness in the age to come.

In this way and by these glorious means, our Lord Jesus Christ becomes our great prophet, priest, and king, the head of the new creation, the Lord of glory, who is worthy of all our worship, adoration, and praise.

In fact, it is only as God the Son incarnate that Jesus can achieve His great work for us. To deny either Christ’s deity or His humanity is to deny the Jesus of the Bible and to rob us of our Redeemer.”

–Stephen Wellum, God the Son Incarnate: The Doctrine of Christ (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2016), 240.

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“Measure the height of His love by the depth of His grief” by Charles Spurgeon

‘There was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.’ This cry came out of that darkness. Expect not to see through its every word, as though it came from on high as a beam from the unclouded Sun of Righteousness.

There is light in it, bright, flashing light; but there is a centre of impenetrable gloom, where the soul is ready to faint because of the terrible darkness.

Our Lord was then in the darkest part of His way. He had trodden the winepress now for hours, and the work was almost finished. He had reached the culminating point of His anguish. This is His dolorous lament from the lowest pit of misery— ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’

I do not think that the records of time, or even of eternity, contain a sentence more full of anguish. Here the wormwood and the gall, and all the other bitternesses, are outdone.

Here you may look as into a vast abyss; and though you strain your eyes, and gaze till sight fails you, yet you perceive no bottom; it is measureless, unfathomable, inconceivable.

This anguish of the Saviour on your behalf and mine is no more to be measured and weighed than the sin which needed it, or the love which endured it. We will adore where we cannot comprehend.

I have chosen this subject that it may help the children of God to understand a little of their infinite obligations to their redeeming Lord.

You shall measure the height of His love, if it be ever measured, by the depth of His grief, if that can ever be known.

See with what a price he hath redeemed us from the curse of the law! As you see this, say to yourselves: What manner of people ought we to be!

What measure of love ought we to return to one who bore the utmost penalty, that we might be delivered from the wrath to come?

I do not profess that I can dive into this deep. I will only venture to the edge of the precipice, and bid you look down, and pray the Spirit of God to concentrate your mind upon this lamentation of our dying Lord, as it rises up through the thick darkness— ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?'”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, ‘“‘Lama Sabachtani?’’ in Majesty in Misery, Volume 3: Calvary’s Mournful Mountain (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2005), 153-154. (MPTS: 36: 133-134)

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