“To be loved by God, not merely pitied, but delighted in as an artist delights in his work or a father in a son— it seems impossible, a weight or burden of glory which our thoughts can hardly sustain. But so it is.”
Tag Archives: salvation
“In revealing Himself, not only does the Father send His Son in the power of His Spirit; together the Father and the Son send the Spirit to make the Son known. The Son makes the Father known; the Spirit makes the Father known; the Spirit makes the Son known.
He does this first of all by breathing out the Scriptures (2 Tim. 3:16; 1 Pet. 1:11-12) so that in them, the ‘word of Christ,’ Christ may be known (Rom. 10:17; Col. 3:16).
Does this mean that we are, in fact, back to God just giving us a book, as in Islam? Far from it, for– as we shall see if you can bear the wait– God the Spirit not only inspires Scripture, He also comes to us. Indeed, He comes into us. There could be no greater intimacy than with this God.
What it does mean is that the point of all the Scriptures is to make Christ known. As the Son makes His Father known, so the Spirit-breathed Scriptures make the Son known.
Paul wrote to Timothy of how ‘from infancy, you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus’ (2 Tim. 3:15). He is referring to the Old Testament, of course, but the same could be said of the New.
Similarly, Jesus said to the Jews of His day: ‘You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about Me, yet you refuse to come to Me to have life… If you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me’ (John 5:39-40, 46).
Clearly, Jesus believed that is quite possible to study the Scriptures diligently and entirely miss their point, which is to proclaim Him so that readers might come to Him for life.
It all dramatically affects why we open the Bible. We can open our Bibles for all sorts of odd reasons– as a religious duty, an attempt to earn God’s favor, or thinking that it serves as a moral self-help guide, a manual of handy tips for effective religious lives.
That idea is actually one main reason so many feel discouraged in their Bible-reading. Hoping to find quick lessons for how they should spend today, people find instead a genealogy or a list of various sacrifices.
And how could page after page of histories, descriptions of the temple, instructions to priests, affect how I rest, work and pray today?
But when you see that Christ is the subject of all the Scriptures, that He is the Word, the Lord, the Son who reveals His Father, the promised Hope, the true Temple, the true Sacrifice, the great High Priest, the ultimate King, then you can read, not so much asking, ‘What does this mean for me, right now?’ but ‘What do I learn here of Christ?’
Knowing that the Bible is about Him and not me means that, instead of reading the Bible obsessing about me, I can gaze on Him.
And as through the pages you get caught upon in the wonder of His story, you find your heart strangely pounding for Him in a way you never would have if you had treated the Bible as a book about you.”
–Michael Reeves, Delighting In The Trinity: An Introduction to the Christian Faith (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2012), 81-83.
“As the oil ran down Aaron’s head to his body (cf. Psalm 133:1-2; Lev. 8:12), so the Spirit would run down from Christ over our Head to His Body, the church. Thus we become ‘partakers of His anointing’ (Heidelberg Catechism, #32).
The Spirit, through whom the Father had eternally loved His Son, would now anoint believers ‘that they may be one as we are one’ (John 17:22). One with the Lord, one with each other.
This is salvation with jam on top. In fact, the more Trinitarian the salvation, the sweeter it is.
For it is not just that we are brought before the Father in the Son; we receive the Spirit with which He was anointed. Jesus said in John 16:14 that the Spirit ‘will bring glory to Me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you.’
The Spirit takes what is the Son’s and makes it ours. When the Spirit rested upon the Son at His baptism, Jesus heard the Father declare from heaven: ‘You are My Son, whom I love; with You I am well pleased.’
But not that same Spirit of sonship rests on me, the same words apply to me: in Christ my high priest I am an adopted, beloved, Spirit-anointed son. As Jesus says to the Father in John 17:23, You ‘have loved them even as You have loved Me.’
And so, as the Son brings me before His Father, with their Spirit in me I can boldly cry, ‘Abba,’ for their fellowship I now freely share: the Most High my Father, the Son my great brother, the Spirit no longer Jesus’ Comforter alone, but mine.”
–Michael Reeves, Delighting In The Trinity: An Introduction to the Christian Faith (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2012), 74-75.
“First of all you are meant to learn from these verses Christ’s power and willingness to save sinners. This is the main doctrine to be gathered from the history of the penitent thief. It teaches you that which ought to be music in the ears of all who hear it,—it teaches you that Jesus Christ is mighty to save.
I ask you if any man’s case could look more hopeless and desperate, than that of this penitent thief once did?
He was a wicked man—a malefactor,—a thief, if not a murderer. We know this, for such only were crucified. He was suffering a just punishment for breaking the laws. And as he had lived wicked, so he seemed determined to die wicked,—for when he first was crucified he railed on our Lord.
And he was a dying man. He hung there, nailed to a cross, from which he was never to come down alive. He had no longer power to stir hand or foot. His hours were numbered. The grave was ready for him. There was but a step between him and death.
If ever there was a soul hovering on the brink of hell, it was the soul of this thief. If ever there was a case that seemed lost, gone, and past recovery, it was his. If ever there was a child of Adam whom the devil made sure of as his own, it was this man.
But see now what happened. He ceased to rail and blaspheme, as he had done at the first. He began to speak in another manner altogether. He turned to our blessed Lord in prayer. He prayed Jesus to ‘remember him when He came into His kingdom.’ He asked that his soul might be cared for, his sins pardoned, and himself thought of in another world. Truly this was a wonderful change.
And then mark what kind of answer he received. Some would have said he was too wicked a man to be saved. But it was not so. Some would have fancied it was too late, the door was shut, and there was no room for mercy. But it proved not too late at all.
The Lord Jesus returned him an immediate answer,—spoke kindly to him,—assured him he should be with Him that day in paradise,—pardoned him completely—cleansed him thoroughly from his sins—received him graciously—justified him freely—raised him from the gates of hell,—gave him a title to glory.
Of all the multitude of saved souls, none ever received so glorious an assurance of his own salvation, as did this penitent thief. Go over the whole list from Genesis to Revelation, and you will find none who had such words spoken to them as these, “Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.”
Reader, the Lord Jesus never gave so complete a proof of His power and will to save, as He did upon this occasion. In the day when He seemed most weak, He showed that he was a strong deliverer. In the hour when his body was racked with pain, He showed that He could feel tenderly for others. At the time when He Himself was dying, he conferred on a sinner eternal life.
Now have I not a right to say, “Jesus is able to save to the uttermost all them that come unto God through Him?” Behold the proof of it. If ever sinner was too far gone to be saved, it was this thief. Yet he was plucked as a brand from the fire.
Have I not a right to say. “Christ will receive any poor sinner who comes to Him with the prayer of faith, and cast out none?” Behold the proof of it. If ever there was one that seemed too bad to be received, this was the man. Yet the door of mercy was wide open even for him.
Have I not a right to say, “By grace ye may be saved through faith, not of works,—fear not, only believe?” Behold the proof of it. This thief was never baptized. He belonged to no visible church. He never received the Lord’s Supper. He never did any work for Christ. He never gave money to Christ’s cause,—But he had faith, and so he was saved.
Have I not a right to say, “The youngest faith will save a man’s soul, if it only be true?” Behold the proof of it. This man’s faith was only one day old, but it led him to Christ, and preserved him from hell.
Why then should any man or woman despair with such a passage as this in the Bible? Jesus is a physician who can cure hopeless cases. He can quicken dead souls, and call the things which be not as though they were.
Never should any man or woman despair! Jesus is still the same now that He was eighteen hundred years ago. The keys of death and hell are in His hand. When He opens none can shut.*
What though your sins be more in number than the hairs of your head? What though your evil habits have grown with your growth, and strengthened with your strength? What though you have hitherto hated good, and loved evil, all the days of your life?
These things are sad indeed; but there is hope even for you. Christ can heal you. Christ can cleanse you. Christ can raise you from your low estate. Heaven is not shut against you. Christ is able to admit you, if you will humbly commit your soul into His hands.
Reader, are your sins forgiven? If not, I set before you this day a full and free salvation. I invite you to follow the steps of the penitent thief,—come to Christ, and live. I tell you that Jesus is very pitiful, and of tender mercy. I tell you He can do everything that your soul requires. Though your sins be as scarlet, He can make them white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. Why should you not be saved as well as another? Come unto Christ by faith, and live.
Reader, are you a true believer? If you are, you ought to glory in Christ. Glory not in your own faith, your own feelings, your own knowledge, your own prayers, your own amendment, your own diligence. Glory in nothing but Christ. Alas! the best of us knows but little of that merciful and mighty Saviour. We do not exalt Him and glory in Him enough. Let us pray that we may see more of the fulness there is in Him.
Reader, do you ever try to do good to others? If you do, remember to tell them about Christ. Tell the young, tell the poor, tell the aged, tell the ignorant, tell the sick, tell the dying,—tell them all about Christ. Tell them of His power, and tell them of His love. Tell them of His doings, and tell them of His feelings. Tell them of what He has done for the chief of sinners. Tell them what He is willing to do to the last day of time. Tell it them over and over again.
Never be tired of speaking of Christ. Say to them broadly and fully, freely and unconditionally, unreservedly and undoubtingly, ‘Come unto Christ as the penitent thief did,—come unto Christ, and you shall be saved.'”
–J.C. Ryle, Living or Dead? A Series of Home Truths (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1851), 258–265.
“Emulate those whose constant confidence and boast is in Christ Jesus and in nothing else” by D.A. Carson
“In the flow of the chapter, then, Paul makes these points, at least in part, to insist that the Philippian believers emulate those whose constant confidence and boast is in Christ Jesus and in nothing else.
Most who read these pages, I suspect, will not be greatly tempted to boast about their Jewish ancestry and ancient rights of race and religious heritage.
But we may be tempted to brag about still less important things: our wealth, our status, our education, our emotional stability, our families, our political or business successes, our denominational alignments, or even about which version of the Bible we use.
Be careful of people like that.
They tend to regard everyone who is outside their little group as somehow inferior. Somewhere along the way they inadvertently—or even intentionally and maliciously—imagine that faith in Christ Jesus and delight in Him is a little less important than their personal accomplishments.
Instead, look around for those whose constant confidence is Jesus Christ, whose constant boast is Jesus Christ, whose constant delight is Jesus Christ.
Jesus is the center of their worship, the center of their gratitude, the center of their love, the center of their hope.
After that, doubtless we shall sometimes need to argue about relatively peripheral matters. But in the first instance, emulate those whose constant confidence and boast is in Christ Jesus and in nothing else.”
–D.A. Carson, Basics for Believers: An Exposition of Philippians (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1996), 86.