Category Archives: Union with Christ

“The people of Jesus Christ have great cause to glory in their Savior” by Jonathan Edwards

“The people of Jesus Christ have great cause to glory in their Savior.

What reason have we to praise God, who has given us so much cause to glory in Christ Jesus, that we that deserve so much shame should have so much cause to glory!

We were in a forlorn condition:

  • we were depressed to the lowest depths of misery and wretchedness;
  • we were filthy and abominable,
  • we had made ourselves viler than the earth,
  • we deserved nothing but shame and everlasting contempt;
  • we had nothing to glory in, but all the circumstances of our case were such as administered to us just cause of shame and confusion of face (Daniel 9:8).

But God has been pleased to provide One for us

  • to take away our guilt and disgrace,
  • and to be the glory in the midst of us;
  • to put great honor upon us,
  • to be as a covering to hide our nakedness,
  • and not only so, but to adorn us and make us glorious;
  • to be to us wisdom,
  • to bring us from our shameful ignorance and darkness;
  • to be our righteousness for the removal of our guilt
  • and to procure acceptance with God for us;
  • to be our sanctification,
  • to change us from sinful and loathsome to holy and amiable;
  • to be our redemption,
  • to deliver us from all trouble and danger,
  • and to make us happy and blessed forever;
  • to bestow upon us gold tried in the fire, that of poor we might become rich, and that He might exalt us from the dunghill and set us among princes (1 Samuel 2:8).

That God should take us, who were under bondage to sin and Satan, and give us such a glorious victory over our adversaries, and cause us thus to triumph over those that had us captives and were so much stronger than we, and that God gives us so much greater privileges than others, that we should have such a king, is reason enough to praise God.”

–Jonathan Edwards, “Glorying in the Savior,” in Sermons and Discourses, 1723–1729, The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Volume 14 (Ed. Harry S. Stout and Kenneth P. Minkema (New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 1997), 14: 468.

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“Christ never for a moment lived for Himself, but always for His church” by Herman Bavinck

“Christ never for a moment lived for Himself (Romans 15:3), but always for His church to leave it an example (Matthew 11:29; John 13:14–16; etc.), to serve it and to give His life as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28), and to communicate to it His grace and truth, His light and His life (John 1:16; 6:33ff.; Colossians 3:4).”

–Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics: Sin and Salvation in Christ, Volume 3, Ed. John Bolt and trans. John Vriend (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2006), 3: 407.

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“Jesus Himself establishes and opens the gates of the kingdom through His perfect obedience” by Brandon Crowe

“As we conclude, I submit that we do indeed find much good news in the Gospels by focusing on the life of Jesus unto salvation. As the last Adam, Jesus vicariously realizes the obedience necessary for eternal life, overcoming the problem of sin and death.

One would need many, many volumes to discuss the grace that is manifested to us through Jesus Christ; indeed, I suppose that the whole world would not be able to contain the books that could be written. I finish, then, with a few brief reflections on the wonders of the grace of Jesus Christ that is revealed in the Gospels.

In the Gospels we see that Jesus accomplishes the righteousness that characterizes the kingdom of God, and this righteousness is a gift. The kingdom demands a better righteousness than that of the scribes and Pharisees for those who would enter it (Matt. 5:20), yet it is also the Father’s good pleasure to grant the kingdom (Luke 12:32).

The stringency in entering the kingdom is ultimately answered by the full obedience of Jesus Himself, who establishes and opens the gates of the kingdom through His perfect obedience—both active and passive. Jesus shows us the unity of obedience and love that the covenantal law of God always required.

Jesus’s people, then, must be united to Him by faith, and so receive the blessings of salvation through the work of the last Adam. By following in the righteous steps of the Messiah, we learn how to truly love God and love our neighbor.

Jesus is definitively and representatively obedient as the last Adam and Son of God, and His people are obedient in a derivative sense, through faith in Him. Jesus is the mediator of the new covenant, which is sealed in His blood.

The full measure of the law has been met, and the penalty of sin has been overcome through Jesus’s death and resurrection. Our faith and hope must therefore be in Jesus Christ, who has proven obedient on our behalf.

I conclude with the confidence expressed by New Testament scholar J. Gresham Machen. As he lay dying in a North Dakota hospital, Machen’s last recorded words came via telegram: ‘I’m so thankful for the active obedience of Christ. No hope without it.’

Machen’s hope is gloriously narrated for us in the Fourfold Gospel, where we read of salvation accomplished by the fully obedient last Adam. As Jesus delighted to do His Father’s will, may we delight to trust in and follow a gracious Savior.”

–Brandon Crowe, The Last Adam: A Theology of the Obedient Life of Jesus in the Gospel (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2017), 214-215.

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“Let us worship God on earth as He is worshiped in heaven” by Jonathan Gibson

“The story of human history, from beginning to end, is the story of worship. This is because God has so structured His world that every person will worship through one of two men—Adam or Jesus Christ.

The first man Adam was made homo liturgicus, and everyone bearing his image has inherited his fallen liturgical orientation toward idolatry. We are born worshiping the creature, not the Creator; we live our lives seeking salvation and satisfaction in pseudo-redeemers, not the Redeemer.

We are a restless race, wandering ‘east,’ away from the divine sanctuary. But, through the Second Man Jesus Christ, we have the invitation to return and worship God aright in spirit and truth, in His presence.

Through the incarnation, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ—the true Homo Liturgicus—God has opened a way back into His presence.

Since the first son of God, Adam, through the national (typical) son of God, Israel, and the royal (typical) son of God, Solomon, to the final (last-days) Son of God, Jesus, and now the (redeemed) sons of God, the Church—God has been seeking a people to worship Him.

We are called to worship, and our hearts are restless until we respond to that call by faith and obedience, and come and feast on Christ: ‘[W]hoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst’ (John 6:35).

The consummate experience of this truth must await the final day when we will feast on, and with, the glorified Son of God Himself, at the Wedding Supper of the Lamb.

For now, it is right, fitting, and delightful to worship as God’s redeemed people; then, it will be right, fitting, and delightful to do so as God’s glorified people. It is why worship matters now—because it will matter then, forever.

And so, as we gather each Lord’s Day, between the now and not yet of God’s kingdom, let us worship God for who is He, as one eternal God in three persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—and for what He has done in creation and redemption, and for what He will do in the coming consummation.

Let us worship God on earth as He is worshiped in heaven.”

–Jonathan Gibson, “Worship On Earth As It Is In Heaven,” Reformation Worship, Eds. Jonathan Gibson and Mark Earngey (Greensboro, NC: New Growth Press, 2018), 20-21.

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“This is my joy and crown of rejoicing: to be able to say that God is mine” by Thomas Brooks

“There is in God an immense fulness, an ocean of goodness, and an overplus of all that graciousness, sweetness, and kindness that is to be found in all other things or creatures.

As Noah had a copy of every kind of creature in that famous library of the ark, out of which all were reprinted to the world, so he that hath God for his portion hath the original copy of all blessings, out of which all may easily be renewed.

All the good-linesses and all the glories of all the creatures are eminently and perfectly to be enjoyed in God. God is an universal excellency.

All the particular excellencies that are scattered up and down among angels, men, and all other creatures, are virtually and transcendently in Him. He hath them all in His own being (Eph. 1:3).

All creatures in heaven and earth have but their particular excellencies, but God hath in Himself the very quintessence of all excellencies.

The creatures have but drops of that sea, that ocean, that is in God. They have but their parts of that power, wisdom, goodness, righteousness, holiness, faithfulness, loveliness, desirableness, sweetness, graciousness, beauty, and glory that is in God.

One hath this part, and another hath that. One hath this particular excellency, and another hath that. But the whole of all these parts and excellencies are to be found only in God.

There is none but that God that is an universal good, that can truly say, ‘All power, all wisdom, all strength, all knowledge, all goodness, all sweetness, all beauty, all glory, all excellency, dwells in Me.’

He that can truly say this, is a god, and he that cannot is no god. There is no angel in heaven, nor saint on earth, that hath the whole of any one of those excellencies that are in God.

Nay, all the angels in heaven, and all the saints on earth, have not among them the whole of any one of those glorious excellencies and perfections that be in God. All the excellencies that are scattered up and down in the creatures, are united into one excellency in God.

But there is not one excellency in God that is fully scattered up and down among all the creatures. There is a glorious union of all excellencies in God, and only in God.

Now this God, that is such an universal good, and that hath all excellencies dwelling in Himself, He says to the believer, ‘I am thine, and all that I have.’ Our propriety reacheth to all that God is, and to all that God hath (Jer. 32:38-42).

God is not parted, nor divided, nor distributed among His people, as earthly portions are divided among children in the family, so as one believer hath one part of God, and another believer hath another part of God, and a third another part of God.

Oh no! But every believer hath the whole God wholly, he hath all of God for His portion. God is not a believer’s portion in a limited sense, nor in a comparative sense, but in an absolute sense.

God Himself is theirs, and He is wholly theirs, and He is only theirs, and He is always theirs.

As Christ looks upon the Father, and saith, ‘All thine is mine, and mine is thine,’ (1 Cor. 3:23, Joh. 17:10), that may a saint say, looking upon God as His portion.

He may truly say, ‘O Lord, Thou art mine, and all that Thou hast. And I am Thine, and all that I have.’

A saint may look upon God and say, ‘O Lord, not only Thy gifts but Thy graces are mine, to adorn me and enrich me. And not only Thy mercies and Thy good things are mine to comfort me, and encourage me, but also Thou Thyself art mine. And this is my joy and crown of rejoicing.’

To be able to say that God is mine is more than if I were able to say that ten thousand worlds, yea, and as many heavens, are mine. For it is God alone that is the sparkling diamond in the ring of glory.

Heaven would be but a low thing without God, saith Augustine.

And Bernard had rather enjoy Christ in a chimney-corner, than to be in heaven without Him.

And Luther had rather be in hell with Christ, than in heaven without Him.

It is God alone that makes heaven to be heaven.”

–Thomas Brooks, The Complete Works of Thomas Brooks, Volume 2, Ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1666/2001), 24–25.

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“He not only was but still is our chief Prophet, our only High Priest, and our eternal King” 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.

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.”

–Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Volume 3: Sin and Salvation in Christ, Ed. John Bolt, and Trans. John Vriend (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2006), 3: 473-474.

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“He is the sun of their souls” by John Newton

“The Lord, by His Spirit, manifests and confirms His love to His people. For this purpose He meets them at His throne of grace, and in His ordinances.

There He makes Himself known unto them, as He does not unto the world. There He causes His goodness to pass before them, and opens, applies, and seals to them, His exceeding great and precious promises, and He gives them the Spirit of adoption, whereby, unworthy as they are, they are enabled to cry ‘Abba, Father.’

He causes them to understand that great love wherewith He has loved them, in redeeming them by price and by power, washing them from their sins in the blood of the Lamb, recovering them from the dominion of Satan, and preparing for them an everlasting kingdom, where they shall see His face, and rejoice in His glory.

The knowledge of this, His love to them, produces a return of love from them to Him. They adore Him, and admire Him. They make an unreserved surrender of their hearts to Him. They view Him and delight in Him, as their God, their Saviour, and their portion.

They account His favour better than life. He is the sun of their souls: if He is pleased to shine upon them, all is well, and they are not greatly careful about other things.

But if He hides His face, the smiles of the whole creation can afford them no solid comfort.

They esteem one day or hour spent in the delightful contemplation of His glorious excellencies, and in the expression of their desires towards Him, better than a thousand. And when their love is most fervent, they are ashamed that it is so faint, and chide and bemoan themselves that they can love Him no more.

This often makes them long to depart, willing to leave their dearest earthly comforts, that they may see Him as He is, without a veil or cloud.

For they know that then, and not till then, they shall love Him as they ought.”

–John Newton, The Works of the John Newton, Ed. Richard Cecil (vol. 1; London: Hamilton, Adams & Co., 1824), 309–310.

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