Tag Archives: Reformed Dogmatics

“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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“He drank the cup of suffering to the last drop” by Herman Bavinck

“The state of death in which Christ entered when He died was as essentially a part of His humiliation as His spiritual suffering on the cross. In both together He completed His perfect obedience.

He drank the cup of suffering to the last drop and tasted death in all its bitterness in order to completely deliver us from the fear of death and death itself.

Thus He destroyed him who had the power of death and by a single offering perfected for all time those who are sanctified (Hebrews 10:14).”

–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: 417.

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“If God were not immutable, He would not be God” by Herman Bavinck

“God is and remains the same. Everything changes, but He remains standing.

He remains who He is (Ps. 102:26–28). He is YHWH, He who is and ever remains Himself.

He is the first and with the last He is still the same God (Isa. 41:4; 43:10; 46:4; 48:12). He is who He is (Deut. 32:39; cf. John 8:58; Heb. 13:8), the incorruptible who alone has immortality, and is always the same (Rom. 1:23; 1 Tim. 1:17; 6:16; Heb. 1:11–12).

Unchangeable in His existence and being, He is so also in His thought and will, in all His plans and decisions. He is not a human that He should lie or repent.

What He says, He will do (Num. 15:28; 1 Sam. 15:29). His gifts (charismata) and calling are irrevocable (Rom. 11:29). He does not reject his people (Rom. 11:1).

He completes what He has begun (Ps. 138:8; Phil. 1:6). In a word, He, YHWH, does not change (Mal. 3:6).

In Him there is ‘no variation or shadow due to change’ (James 1:17).” On this foundation Christian theology constructed its doctrine of divine immutability…

If God were not immutable, He would not be God. His name is ‘being,’ and this name is “an unalterable name.” All that changes ceases to be what it was. But true being belongs to Him who does not change.

That which truly is remains. That which changes was something and will be something but is not anything because it is mutable.

But God who is cannot change, for every change would diminish His being. Furthermore, God is as immutable in His knowing, willing, and decreeing as He is in His being.

The essence of God by which He is what He is, possesses nothing changeable, neither in eternity, nor in truthfulness, nor in will. As He is, so He knows and wills—immutably.

Augustine wrote, ‘For even as You totally are, so do You alone totally know, for You immutably are, and You know immutably, and You will immutably. Your essence knows and wills immutably, and Your knowledge is and wills immutably, and Your will is and knows immutably.’ (Confessions, XIII, 16)

Neither creation, nor revelation, nor incarnation (affects, etc.) brought about any change in God. No new plan ever arose in God. In God there was always one single immutable will.”

–Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics: God and Creation, Ed. John Bolt, and Trans. John Vriend (vol. 2; Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004), 2: 153-154.

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“To know God is to live” by Herman Bavinck

“Mystery is the lifeblood of theological reflection. From the start of its labors, dogmatic theology is shrouded in mystery. It stands before God the incomprehensible One.

This knowledge leads to adoration and worship: to know God is to live.

Knowing God is possible for us because God is personal, exalted above the earth and yet in fellowship with human beings on earth. Good theology puts this knowledge of God on public display.

It resists allowing theology to degenerate into rhetoric, a theology merely of words. It seeks the heart of the matter, knowing God in order to worship Him, to love Him, and to serve Him.

Such theology is never a dry and academic exercise. It is eminently practical and superlatively fruitful for life.

The knowledge of God in Christ, after all, is life itself (Psalm 89:16; Isaiah 11:9; Jeremiah 31:34; John 17:3).”

–Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Abridged in One Volume, Ed. John Bolt (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2011), 147-148.

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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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“Sickbeds and deathbeds” by Herman Bavinck

“The satisfaction of the human heart and conscience are the seal and crown of religion. A religion that has no consolation to offer in time of mourning and sorrow, in life and in death, cannot be the true religion.

From other sciences, from logic, mathematics, physics, etc., we do not expect comfort for the guilty conscience and the saddened heart. But a religion that has nothing to say at sickbeds and deathbeds, that cannot fortify the doubting ones, nor raise up those who are bowed down, is not worthy of the name.

The contrast often made between truth and consolation does not belong in religion. A truth that contains no comfort, which does not connect with the religious-ethical life of human beings, ceases by that token to be a religious truth.

Just as medical science in all its specialties is oriented to the healing of the sick, so in religion people have a right to look for peace and salvation.”

–Herman Bavinck, Ed. John Bolt and Trans. John Vriend, Reformed Dogmatics, Volume 1: Prolegomena (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2003), 552.

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“He must open the way to His fatherly heart” by Herman Bavinck

“To correctly assess the benefit of Justification, people must lift up their minds to the judgment seat of God and put themselves in His presence.

When they compare themselves with others or measure themselves by the standard that they apply to themselves or among each other, they have some reason perhaps to pride themselves in something and to put their trust in it.

But when they put themselves before the face of God and examine themselves in the mirror of His holy law, all their conceit collapses, all self-confidence melts, and there is room left only for the prayer: ‘Enter not into judgment with Your servant, for no one living is righteous before You’ (Job 4:17–19; 9:2; 15:14–16; Ps. 143:2; cf. 130:3), and their only comfort is that ‘there is forgiveness before You, so that You may be revered’ (Ps. 130:4).

If for insignificant, guilty, and impure persons there is to be a possibility of true religion, that is, of genuine fellowship with God, of salvation and eternal life, then God on His part must reestablish the broken bond, again take them into fellowship with Him and share His grace with them, regardless of their guilt and corruption.

He, then, must descend from the height of His majesty, seek us out and come to us, take away our guilt and again open the way to His fatherly heart.

If God were to wait until we—by our faith, our virtues, and good works of congruity or condignity—had made ourselves worthy, in part or in whole, to receive His favor, the restoration of communion between Him and ourselves would never happen, and salvation would forever be out of reach for us.”

–Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, vol. 4, Holy Spirit, Church, and New Creation (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2008), 204-205.

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