Tag Archives: Christology

“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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“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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“Your Lord and your brother and your friend” by Jonathan Edwards

“Whatsoever there is or can be desirable in a friend, is found in Christ, and that to the highest degree that can be desired.

Would you choose for a friend a person of great dignity? It is a thing taking with men to have those for their friends who are much above them; because they look upon themselves honoured by the friendship of such. Thus, how taking would it be with an inferior maid to be the object of the dear love of some great and excellent prince.

But Christ is infinitely above you, and above all the princes of the earth; for He is the King of kings. So honourable a person as this offers Himself to you, in the nearest and dearest friendship.

And would you choose to have a friend not only great but good? In Christ infinite greatness and infinite goodness meet together, and receive lustre and glory one from another. His greatness is rendered lovely by His goodness.

The greater any one is without goodness, so much the greater evil; but when infinite goodness is joined with greatness, it renders it a glorious and adorable greatness. So, on the other hand, His infinite goodness receives lustre from His greatness.

He that is of great understanding and ability, and is withal of a good and excellent disposition, is deservedly more esteemed than a lower and lesser being, with the same kind inclination and good will. Indeed goodness is excellent in whatever subject it be found; it is beauty and excellency itself, and renders all excellent that are possessed of it; and yet most excellent when joined with greatness.

The very same excellent qualities of gold render the body in which they are inherent more precious, and of greater value, when joined with greater than when with lesser dimensions. And how glorious is the sight, to see Him who is the great Creator and supreme Lord of heaven and earth, full of condescension, tender pity and mercy, towards the mean and unworthy!

His almighty power, and infinite majesty and self-sufficiency, render His exceeding love and grace the more surprising. And how do His condescension and compassion endear His majesty, power, and dominion, and render those attributes pleasant, that would otherwise be only terrible!

Would you not desire that your friend, though great and honourable, should be of such condescension and grace, and so to have the way opened to free access to Him, that His exaltation above you might not hinder your free enjoyment of His friendship?

And would you choose not only that the infinite greatness and majesty of your friend should be, as it were, mollified and sweetened with condescension and grace; but would you also desire to have your friend brought nearer to you?

Would you choose a friend far above you, and yet as it were upon a level with you too? Though it be taking with men to have a near and dear friend of superior dignity, yet there is also an inclination in them to have their friend a sharer with them in circumstances. Thus is Christ.

Though He be the great God, yet He has, as it were, brought Himself down to be upon a level with you, so as to become man as you are, that He might not only be your Lord, but your brother, and that He might be the more fit to be a companion for such a worm of the dust.

This is one end of Christ’s taking upon Him man’s nature, that His people might be under advantages for a more familiar converse with Him, than the infinite distance of the divine nature would allow of.

One design of God in the gospel, is to bring us to make God the object of our undivided respect, that He may engross our regard every way, that whatever natural inclination there is in our souls, He may be the centre of it; that God may be all in all.

But there is an inclination in the creature, not only to the adoration of a Lord and Sovereign, but to complacence in some one as a friend, to love and delight in some one that may be conversed with as a companion. And virtue and holiness do not destroy or weaken this inclination of our nature.

But so hath God contrived in the affair of our redemption, that a divine person may be the object even of this inclination of our nature. And in order hereto, such an one is come down to us; and has taken our nature, and is become one of us, and calls Himself our friend, brother, and companion.

Psal. cxxii. 8. ‘For my brethren and companions’ sake, will I now say, Peace be within thee.'”

–Jonathan Edwards, “The Excellency of Christ,” The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 1. Ed. Edward Hickman (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1834/1998), 1:688. The sermon may be read here in its entirety.

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“Infinite highness and infinite condescension” by Jonathan Edwards

“There do meet in Jesus Christ infinite highness and infinite condescension. Christ, as He is God, is infinitely great and high above all. He is higher than the kings of the earth, for He is King of kings, and Lord of lords. He is higher than the heavens, and higher than the highest angels of heaven.

So great is He, that all men, all kings and princes, are as worms of the dust before Him; all nations are as the drop of the bucket, and the light dust of the balance; yea, and angels themselves are as nothing before Him.

He is so high, that He is infinitely above any need of us; above our reach, that we cannot be profitable to Him; and above our conceptions, that we cannot comprehend Him. Prov. xxx. 4. ‘What is his name, and what is his Son’s name, if thou canst tell?’

Our understandings, if we stretch them never so far, cannot reach up to His divine glory. Job xi. 8. ‘It is high as heaven, what canst thou do?’ Christ is the Creator and great Possessor of heaven and earth.

He is sovereign Lord of all. He rules over the whole universe, and doth whatsoever pleaseth Him. His knowledge is without bound. His wisdom is perfect, and what none can circumvent. His power is infinite, and none can resist Him. His riches are immense and inexhaustible. His majesty is infinitely awful.

And yet He is one of infinite condescension. None are so low or inferior, but Christ’s condescension is sufficient to take a gracious notice of them.

He condescends not only to the angels, humbling Himself to behold the things that are done in heaven, but He also condescends to such poor creatures as men; and that not only so as to take notice of princes and great men, but of those that are of meanest rank and degree, ‘the poor of the world,’ James ii. 5.

Such as are commonly despised by their fellow-creatures, Christ does not despise. 1 Cor. i. 28. ‘Base things of the world, and things that are despised, hath God chosen.’ Christ condescends to take notice of beggars, Luke xvi. 22. and people of the most despised nations. In Christ Jesus is neither ‘Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free,’ Col. iii. 11.

He that is thus high, condescends to take a gracious notice of little children, Matt. xix. 14. ‘Suffer little children to come unto Me.’ Yea, which is more, His condescension is sufficient to take a gracious notice of the most unworthy, sinful creatures, those that have no good deservings, and those that have infinite ill-deservings.

Yea, so great is His condescension, that it is not only sufficient to take some gracious notice of such as these, but sufficient for every thing that is an act of condescension. His condescension is great enough to become their friend; to become their companion, to unite their souls to Him in spiritual marriage.

It is enough to take their nature upon Him, to become one of them, that He may be one with them. Yea, it is great enough to abase Himself yet lower for them, even to expose Himself to shame and spitting; yea, to yield up Himself to an ignominious death for them.

And what act of condescension can be conceived of greater? Yet such an act as this, has His condescension yielded to, for those that are so low and mean, despicable and unworthy!

Such a conjunction of infinite highness and low condescension, in the same person, is admirable. We see, by manifold instances, what a tendency a high station has in men, to make them to be of a quite contrary disposition.

If one worm be a little exalted above another, by having more dust, or a bigger dunghill, how much does he make of himself! What a distance does he keep from those that are below him! And a little condescension is what he expects should be made much of, and greatly acknowledged.

Christ condescends to wash our feet; but how would great men, (or rather the bigger worms,) account themselves debased by acts of far less condescension!”

–Jonathan Edwards, “The Excellency of Christ,” The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 1. Ed. Edward Hickman (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1834/1998), 1:680-681. The sermon may be read here in its entirety.

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“The perfect Revealer of the living God” by D.A. Carson

“Perhaps the most stunning christological sonship passages are those that assign transparently divine status to the Son, or speak, with varying degrees of clarity, of His preexistence. Some of the texts we have already canvassed have leaned in this direction, of course– as when the Father determines that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father (John 5:23).

Yet we should reflect on a handful of other passages. In the past, the writer of the Hebrews avers, God spoke to the Fathers through the prophets, but now in these last days He has given us the Son-revelation– the Son ‘whom He appointed heir of all things, and through whom also He made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful word’ (Heb. 1:2-3).

The Word that was with God in the beginning (and thus God’s own fellow) and was God (and thus God’s own self) ‘became flesh and made His dwelling 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’ (John 1:1, 14)).

It is not that this eternal Word became the Son by means of the incarnation, so that it is appropriate to speak of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit only after the incarnation, whereas before the incarnation it would be more appropriate to speak of the Father, the Word, and the Spirit.

No, for as we have seen in Hebrews, the Son is the one by whom God made the universe. In John 3:17, we are told, ‘God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.’ It is fanciful to suppose this means that God sent into the world someone who became the Son after He arrived.

‘The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation… He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together… For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him’; indeed, ‘all things have been created through Him and for Him’ (Col. 1:15-19), making Him not only God’s agent in creation but creation’s master and goal.

In these and numerous other passages (e.g., Matt. 11:27; Luke 10:22; John 14:9; 17:1-8; 1 John 5:20), Jesus is not the Son of God by virtue of being the ultimate Israel, nor is He the Son of God by virtue of being the Messiah, the ultimate Davidic king, nor is He the Son of God by virtue of being a perfect human being.

Rather, He is the Son of God from eternity, simultaneously distinguishable from His heavenly Father yet one with Him, the perfect Revealer of the living God.”

–D.A. Carson, Jesus The Son of God: A Christological Title Often Overlooked, Sometimes Misunderstood, and Currently Disputed (Wheaton: Crossway, 2012), 40-41.

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“Help Wanted” by Robert Peterson

“How was the incarnate Son ‘made perfect’? Certainly, nothing was lacking in His divine nature. And His humanity was always without sin. In what sense, then, did He need to be made perfect?

A hint is provided when Hebrews 2:10 says that God made Christ ‘perfect through suffering.’ This idea is expanded when Hebrews 5:8 says that Jesus ‘learned obedience through what He suffered.’ The Son was made perfect when, over the course of His earthly life, He learned to obey the Father, especially by enduring suffering.

An illustration will help. Imagine that in the first-century Jerusalem Gazette a listing appears in its ‘Help Wanted’ section for the job of Redeemer of the world. There are three requirements for the job.

First, the applicant must be God; no others need apply. That would narrow the job pool to three. Second, the applicant must also have become man. That would exclude all but one. The point of the passages in Hebrews that teach that the incarnate Son was made perfect is found in the third qualification in the job description for Redeemer.

Not only must the applicant be God incarnate; he must also have on-the-job experience. Although Jesus’s humanity was never sinful, in God’s plan it must be tried and found true. God did not send His Son to earth as a thirty-three-year-old to die and be raised. He sent Him as an infant in order for Him to experience human life, with all of its trials and temptations, triumphantly.

It is critical to note the purpose for the Son’s being made perfect, that is, experientially qualified to be Savior by learning obedience through suffering. ‘And being made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey Him, being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek’ (Heb. 5:9–10).

Jesus’s sinless life was necessary for Him to become the source of eternal salvation for every believer. His proven sinlessness enabled Him to die and rise to save sinners. It qualified Him to offer Himself as a sacrifice in His ministry as our great ‘high priest after the order of Melchizedek.'”

–Robert A. Peterson, Salvation Accomplished by the Son: The Work of Christ (Wheaton: Crossway, 2012), 49.

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