Category Archives: Christology

“The one undivided and indivisible Christ” by Herman Bavinck

“The Reformation attacked this entire nomistic system at the roots when it took its position in the confession that sinners are justified by faith alone. By this act, after all, it all at once reversed the entire order of things.

Communion with God came about not by human exertion, but solely on the part of God, by a gift of His grace, so that religion was again given its place before morality.

If human beings received the forgiveness of sins, righteousness, adoption as children, and eternal life through faith alone, by grace, on account of the merits of Christ, then they did not need to exert themselves to earn all these benefits by good works.

They already possessed them in advance as a gift they had accepted by faith. The gratitude and joy that filled their hearts upon receiving all these benefits drove them to do good works before the thought that they had to do them even crossed their mind.

For the faith by which they accepted these benefits was a living faith, not a dead one, not a bare agreement with a historical truth, but a personal heartfelt trust in the grace of God in Christ Jesus.

In Justification that faith of course manifested itself only from its receptive side because in this connection everything depended on the acceptance of the righteousness offered and bestowed in Christ.

Yet, from its very inception, and at the same time as it justified, it was also a living, active, and forceful faith that renewed people and poured joy into their hearts.

Actually, therefore, it was not faith that justified and sanctified, but it was the one undivided and indivisible Christ who through faith gave Himself to believers for righteousness and sanctification, who was imputed and imparted to us on the part of God, and whom we therefore from the beginning possess in that faith as Christ for us and in us.”

–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: 242–243.

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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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“I am not an elephant” by D.A. Carson

“For the last eight years I have spent more time studying the Gospel of John than any other part of the Scripture. This has proved to be a lesson in humility.

John is simple enough for a child to read and complex enough to tax the mental powers of the greatest minds. As one commentator has put it, this book is like a pool in which a child may wade and an elephant may swim.

I am not an elephant; but I have become aware of the many places where I am beyond my depth.”

–D.A. Carson, The Farewell Discourse and Final Prayer of Jesus: An Exposition of John 14–17 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), 9.

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“There is glory in this paradox” by D.A. Carson

“‘I am the way,’ Jesus answers, ‘and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me’ (John 14:6).

In this fashion one of the greatest utterances in Holy Scripture is called forth from the Master by the inability of His disciples to grasp what He had been teaching. It is an amazing statement.

‘I am the way’—spoken by One whose way was the ignominious shame of a Roman cross, the death of despised and debased criminals.

‘I am the truth’—spoken by One about to be condemned by lying witnesses, one who was generally not believed by His own people, by His own family.

‘I am the life’—uttered by One whose battered corpse would shortly rest in a dark tomb, sealed up by the authorities.

There is glory in this paradox, and much room for adoring meditation. Because Jesus’ own way was the cross, He Himself became the way for others.

As the lamb of God, He took away the sin of the world (1:29); as the good shepherd, He laid down His life for the sheep (10:11).

The lamb dies, the world lives. The shepherd dies, the sheep live. Jesus is the gate by which men enter and find life (10:9; cf. Hebrews 10:19f.); He is their way.

The way of Jesus is the cross; the way of the disciples is Jesus. Small wonder that early Christians were called followers of the Way (Acts 9:2; 22:4; 24:14).

He who was betrayed by an apostle, disowned by another apostle, abandoned by all the apostles, condemned through lying witnesses, was the truth.

We do not read simply that what He speaks is true, but that He Himself is the truth. He is the truth incarnate, just as He is love incarnate and holiness incarnate; for He is the Word incarnate.

‘The Word became flesh and lived for a while among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth’ (1:14).

‘For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but God the only Son, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known’ (1:17, 18).

John is not telling us that Moses’ writings were not true, nor that they were something other than God’s Word. But however much the law was revealed by God, the law was not the unveiling of God Himself, the revelation of grace and truth incarnate.”

–D.A. Carson, The Farewell Discourse and Final Prayer of Jesus: An Exposition of John 14–17 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), 27–28.

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“The whole God is found in Him” by John Calvin

“When Paul says that the fullness of the Godhead dwells in Christ, he means simply that the whole God is found in Him, so that he who is not satisfied with Christ alone, desires something better and more excellent than God. The sum is that God has manifested Himself to us fully and perfectly in Christ.”

–John Calvin, Commentaries on the Epistles of Paul the Apostle to the Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians, trans. T.H.L. Parker (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1965), 330. Calvin is commenting on Colossians 2:9.

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“That old serpent” by J.C. Ryle

“Let us first mark in this passage, the power and unwearied malice of the devil. That old serpent who tempted Adam to sin in Paradise, was not afraid to assault the second Adam, the Son of God.

Whether he understood that Jesus was ‘God manifest in the flesh’ may perhaps be doubted. But that he saw in Jesus One who had come into the world to overthrow his kingdom, is clear and plain.

He had seen what happened at our Lord’s baptism. He had heard the marvellous words from heaven. He felt that the great Friend of man was come, and that his own dominion was in peril.

The Redeemer had come. The prison door was about to be thrown open. The lawful captives were about to be set free. All this, we need not doubt, Satan saw, and resolved to fight for his own.

The prince of this world would not give way to the Prince of peace without a mighty struggle.

He had overcome the first Adam in the garden of Eden;—why should be not overcome the second Adam in the wilderness? He had spoiled man once of Paradise;—why should he not spoil him of the kingdom of God?”

–J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Luke, Vol. 1 (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1879), 108. Ryle is commenting on Luke 4:1-13.

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“In Scripture and nowhere else” by Martin Luther

And assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it is written by the prophet: And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah: for prom you shall come a ruler who will govern my people Israel.’ (Matt. 2:4–6)

Here we ask why Christ did not lead these Magi up to Bethlehem with the star, but instead permitted His birth, which was now known, to be searched for in Scripture. He did this to teach us to cling to Scripture and not to follow our own presumptuous ideas or any human teaching.

For it was not His desire to give us His Scripture in vain. It is in Scripture and nowhere else, that He permits Himself to be found. He who despises Scripture and sets it aside, will never find Him.

We heard earlier that the angel gave a sign to the shepherds [Luke 2:12]; but to Mary or Joseph or to any other man, however pious they may have been, He gave no sign except the swaddling clothes in which He was wrapped, and the cradle into which He was laid, that is, the Scripture of the Prophets and the Law.

In these He is enclosed, they possess Him, they speak of Him alone and witness to Him and are His sure sign, as He says Himself (John 5:39).”

–Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 52: Sermons II (ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann; vol. 52; Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 171–172.

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