Tag Archives: Jesus Christ

“The doctrine of substitution is the key to all the sufferings of Christ” by Charles Spurgeon

“The doctrine of substitution is the key to all the sufferings of Christ. I do not know how many theories have been invented to explain away the death of Christ.

The modern doctrine of the apostles of ‘culture’ is that Jesus Christ did something or other, which, in some way or other, was, in some degree or other, connected with our salvation. But it is my firm belief that every theory, concerning the death of Christ, which can only be understood by the highly-cultured, must be false.

‘That is strong language,’ says someone. Perhaps it is, but it is true. I am quite sure that the religion of Jesus Christ was never intended for the highly-cultured only, or even for them in particular.

Christ’s testimony concerning His own ministry was, ‘The poor have the gospel preached to them.’ So, if you bring me a gospel which can only be understood by gentlemen who have passed through Oxford or Cambridge University, I know that it cannot be the gospel of Christ.

He meant the good news of salvation to be proclaimed to the poorest of the poor. In fact, the gospel is intended for humanity in general.

So, if you cannot make me understand it, or if, when I do understand it, it does not tell me how to deliver its message in such plain language that the poorest man can comprehend it, I tell you, sirs, that your newfangled gospel is a lie, and I will stick to the old one, which a man, only a little above an idiot in intellect, can understand.

I cling to the old gospel for this, among many other reasons, that all the modern gospels, that leave out the great central truth of substitution, prevent the message from being of any use to the great mass of mankind.

If those other gospels, which are not really gospels, please your taste and fancy, and suit the readers of Quarterly Reviews, and eloquent orators and lecturers, there are the poor people in our streets, and the millions of working-men, the vast multitudes who cannot comprehend anything that is highly metaphysical.

And you cannot convince me that our Lord Jesus Christ sent, as His message to the whole world, a metaphysical mystery that would need volume upon volume before it could even be stated.

I am persuaded that He gave us a rough and ready gospel like this: ‘The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost,’ or this, ‘With His stripes we are healed,’ or this, ‘The chastisement of our peace was upon Him,’ or this, ‘He died the Just for the unjust to bring us to God.’

Do not try to go beyond this gospel, brethren. You will get into the mud if you do. But it is safe standing here.

And standing here, I can comprehend how our Lord Jesus took the sinner’s place, and passing under the sentence which the sinner deserved, or under a sentence which was tantamount thereto, could cry, ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?‘”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, ‘The Saddest Cry From the Cross,’ in Majesty in Misery, Volume 3: Calvary’s Mournful Mountain (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2005), 177-178. (MTPS, 48: 523-524)

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“Biblical theology gives us the framework to read Scripture” by Matthew Emerson

“Biblical theology is inherently practical because the Bible is inherently practical. The Bible is not only for information but also for transformation.

Further, these two go hand in hand. As we understand better how to read Scripture, we understand its message better and, therefore, are better able to be transformed by it.

Biblical theology gives us the framework to read Scripture. Yes, other tools are needed, but without this big picture, without our topographical map, it’s easy to lose our place in the forest because we are so busy looking at individual trees.

Biblical theology helps us to see where we are in the forest and to make our way toward the end of our trail, the end of all biblical trails, the person and work of Jesus. As we strive toward that end, biblical theology tells us which turns we need to take to stay on that main Christological path.

In doing so, it orients our devotion, mission, doctrine, counseling, and preaching and teaching toward that same goal.”

–Matthew Emerson, The Story of Scripture: An Introduction to Biblical Theology (Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2017), 88.

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“It is free mercy that every day keeps Hell and my soul asunder” by Thomas Brooks

“‘Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy,’ (Matthew 5:7). Mercy is a commiserating of another man’s misery in our hearts, or a sorrow for another man’s distress, or a heart-grieving for another man’s grief, arising out of an unfeigned love unto the party afflicted.

Or more plainly thus: mercy is a pitying of another man’s misery, with a desire and endeavor to help him to the uttermost of our ability. The Hebrew for godly, חסד, chasid, signifies gracious, merciful.

The more godly any man is, the more merciful that man will be. ‘Blessed are the merciful,’ that is, blessed are they that show mercy to others, out of a deep sense of the mercy of God to them in Christ.

Blessed are such who show mercy out of love to mercy, out of a delight in mercy.

Blessed are such as show mercy out of love and obedience to the God of mercy.

Blessed are such as show mercy to men in misery, upon the account of the image of God, the glory of God that is stamped upon them.

Blessed are such as extend their piety and mercy, not only to men’s bodies, but also to their precious and immortal souls.

Soul-mercy is the chief of mercies. The soul is the most precious jewel in all the world; it is a vessel of honour, it is a spark of glory, it is a bud of eternity, it is the price of blood, it is beautified with the image of God, it is adorned with the grace of God, and it is clothed with the righteousness of God.

Such are blessed as show mercy to others, from gracious motives and considerations.

It is free mercy that every day keeps Hell and my soul asunder.

It is mercy that daily pardons my sins.

It is mercy that supplies all my inward and outward wants.

It is mercy that preserves, and feeds, and clothes my outward man.

It is mercy that renews, strengthens, and prospers my inward man.

It is mercy that has kept me many times from committing such and such sins.

It is mercy that has kept me many a time from falling before such and such temptations.

It is mercy that has many a time preserved me from being swallowed up by such and such inward and outward afflictions.

Such as show mercy out of a design to exalt and glorify the God of mercy, such who show most mercy to them to whom God shows most mercy: these are blessed, and shall obtain mercy.”

–Thomas Brooks, “A Cabinet of Jewels,” The Complete Works of Thomas Brooks, Volume 3, ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart (Edinburgh; London; Dublin: James Nichol; James Nisbet and Co.; G. Herbert, 1866), 271-272.

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“The supreme mysterious stranger” by R.C. Sproul

He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, ‘Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?’ (Mark 4:39–40, NIV)

The life of Jesus was a blaze of miracles. He performed so many that it is easy for us to become jaded in the hearing of them. We can read this narrative and skip quickly over to the next page without being moved.

Yet we have here one of the most astonishing of all Jesus’ miracles. We have an event that made a special impression on the disciples. It was a miracle that was mind-boggling even to them.

Jesus controlled the fierce forces of nature by the sound of His voice. He didn’t say a prayer. He didn’t ask the Father to deliver them from the tempest. He dealt with the situation directly. He uttered a command, a divine imperative. Instantly nature obeyed.

The wind heard the voice of its Creator. The sea recognized the command of its Lord. Instantly the wind ceased. Not a zephyr could be felt in the air. The sea became like glass without the tiniest ripple.

Notice the reaction of the disciples. The sea was now calm but they were still agitated:

They were terrified and asked each other, ‘Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!’ (Mark 4:41, niv)

We see a strange pattern unfolding here. That the storm and raging sea frightened the disciples is not surprising. But once the danger passed and the sea was calm, it would seem that their fear would vanish as suddenly as the storm.

It didn’t happen that way. Now that the sea was calm, the fear of the disciples increased. How do we account for that?

It was the father of modern psychiatry, Sigmund Freud, who once espoused the theory that men invent religion out of a fear of nature. Man feels helpless before an earthquake, a flood, or a ravaging disease. So, said Freud, men invent a God who has power over the earthquake, flood, and disease.

God is personal. We can talk to Him. We can try to bargain with Him. We can plead with Him to save us from the destructive forces of nature. We are not able to plead with earthquakes, negotiate with floods, or bargain with cancer. So, the theory goes, we invent God to help us deal with these scary things.

What is significant about this story in Scripture is that the disciples’ fear increased after the threat of the storm was removed. The storm made them afraid. Jesus’ action to still the tempest made them more afraid. In the power of Christ they met something more frightening than they ever met in nature.

They were in the presence of the holy. We wonder what Freud would have said about that. Why would men invent a God whose holiness was more terrifying than the forces of nature that provoked them to invent a god in the first place?

We can understand men inventing an unholy god, a god who brought only comfort. But why a god more scary than the earthquake, flood, or disease? It is one thing to fall victim to the flood or to fall prey to cancer; it is another thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

The words that the disciples spoke after Jesus calmed the sea are very revealing. They cried out, ‘What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?’ The question was, ‘What manner of man is this?’ They were asking a question of kind.

They were looking for a category to put Jesus in, a type that they were familiar with. If we can classify people into certain types, we know immediately how to deal with them. We respond one way to hostile people and another way to friendly people.

We react one way to intellectual types and another way to social types. The disciples could find no category adequate to capture the person of Jesus. He was beyond typecasting. He was sui generis—in a class by Himself.

The disciples had never met a man like this. He was unlike anyone they had ever encountered. He was one of a kind, a complete foreigner. They had met all different kinds of men before—tall men, short men, fat men, skinny men, smart men, and stupid men.

They had met Greeks, Romans, Syrians, Egyptians, Samaritans, and fellow Jews. But they had never met a holy man, a man who could speak to winds and waves and have them obey Him.

That Jesus could sleep through the storm at sea was strange enough. But it was not unique. I think again of my fellow passenger on the airplane who dozed while I was gripped with panic.

It may be rare to meet people who can slumber through a crisis but it is not unprecedented. I was impressed with my friend on the plane.

But he did not awaken and yell out the window to the wind and make it stop at his command. If he had done that, I would have looked around for a parachute.

Jesus was different. He possessed an awesome otherness. He was the supreme mysterious stranger. He made people uncomfortable.”

–R.C. Sproul, The Holiness of God (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1993), 77–81.

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“250,000 published words per year” by Scott Manetsch

“Calvin’s literary corpus is well known, with around one hundred discrete volumes published from the time he arrived in Geneva in 1536 until his death twenty-eight years later. During the 1550s, Calvin’s literary output ranged from 100,000 to a remarkable 250,000 published words per year.

Late nights spent writing at his desk by candlelight or long days spent dictating from bed inevitably took a toll on his health and spirits: ‘I get so tired from that endless writing that at times I have a loathing for it, and actually hate writing,’ Calvin complained to Bullinger in 1551.

But true religion needed to be defended in print as well as from the pulpit. ‘I would be a real coward if I saw God’s truth being attacked and remained quiet without a sound.'”

–Scott M. Manetsch, Calvin’s Company of Pastors: Pastoral Care and the Emerging Reformed Church, 1536-1609 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), 225-226.

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“A prayer for preachers” by D.A. Carson

“Keep revising, praying, and preparing so it is not so much that you have mastered the material as that it has mastered you. There is a way of preaching in which you project an image of being an expert. There is a way of preaching in which you project an image of having been captured.

The latter is gained partly by continually revising, thinking through, and how you express yourself. It’s also attained by where your heart is, how greatly you think of God and of Christ and of the Gospel and how little you think of your preparation even though you’ve been so diligent at it. Let’s bow in prayer.

In truth, merciful God, we discover to our shame that we are not very consistent and we often slip and slide and become intoxicated by peripheral things. O Lord God, in the pressure on our time help us to make choices that are wise, honoring to You, for our people’s good. In the midst of counseling and caring and basic administration, remind us again and again that we are called to the ministry of the Word and prayer.

With all that means for study and preparation as well as for delivery, with all that it means for explaining the Bible to a single person, bringing the comfort of the Word to someone who is ill in the hospital or in an evangelistic group explaining your most Holy Word to people who don’t have a clue, with all that it means for sermon preparation, we confess humbly that we are, at best, unprofitable servants and that what we achieve we achieve by Your grace.

Make us, we beg of You, as holy as pardoned sinners can be this side of the consummation. Make us workers who do not need to be ashamed, rightly interpreting the Word of God. Help us so to grow in life and doctrine that others will see our progress and glorify You. Whether our charge is large or small, whether it is viewed as strategic or in some way removed from the hubbub of life, grant that our deepest concern will be for the well-being of the men and women over whom You have placed us as under-shepherds.

Grant to us the deepest desire to keep our eyes fixed on Christ Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has now sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. We bless You, Lord God, for the immense privilege of Christian ministry, and in its sorrows and hurts, give us a forbearing, forgiving spirit, a persevering grace that lives with eternity’s values in view.

In its moments of triumph and joy, help us to understand that as we work out our salvation, it is You working in us both to will and to do of Your good pleasure. As we grow in love for one another, help us to eschew every hint of the green-eyed monster so we start comparing service records and sizes of church.

Help us rather to be faithful to the One who has called us to live with eternity’s values in view, to delight in faithfulness in small things, to look forward to the approval of the Master Himself on the last day: ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in a few matters; I will make you ruler over many things.’

Have mercy on us, Your people. Teach us not only understanding but tears. Help us to rejoice with those who rejoice and to weep with those who weep, and so to show ourselves mastered by the text that our very blood will be Bibline, prick us and we bleed Scripture. This for Christ’s sake, Amen.”

–D.A. Carson, “Preaching through Bible Books,” in D.A. Carson Sermon Library (Bellingham, WA: Faithlife, 2016).

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“All that He is, He is for His children” by Wilhelmus à Brakel

“The excellency of the children of God is so great that it exceeds all comprehension. This may be known in some measure by considering their origin and state. The origin and state of a child of God is more excellent than anything imaginable.

To be the child of a king is a great thing in this world. Many boast of the fact that they consider themselves among the descendants of kings and of great men of the world; some pagans boasted of being descendants of the gods.

What then must it be to be a child of God Himself who has all glory within Himself, is above all praise, and has made everything? Everything belongs to Him. All creatures and all kings of the earth must be at His service and His beck, and must obey Him to the minutest detail.

He accomplishes all that He wills, and is nothing but love and goodness. And all that He is, He is for His children.

They are of divine descent. Let kings and princes boast of their descent. Let nobility, by way of a long succession of noble ancestors, ascend to generations of higher origin.

And let families who are now poor and of low estate be encouraged by the fact that their ancestors at one time were noble–all this is at best but an earthly honor.

Oh children of God, you must, however, consider your descent to be from God Himself, not only as Creator (which you have in common with everyone else, and which can only cause us to be ashamed, considering that we have fallen away from this majestic God, have thus become His enemies who are worthy to be punished by Him), but that you have been adopted as children by Him and appointed to be the objects of His fatherly goodness.”

–Wilhelmus à Brakel, The Christian’s Reasonable Service, Volume 2, Ed. Joel Beeke, Trans. Bartel Elshout (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 1700/1994), 2: 417.

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