Why We Dare Not Seek God without Christ

Mark Jones: Too Much for Us We believe that thou art a being than which nothing greater can be conceived. —Anselm, Proslogion Whoever has seen God and has understood what he saw, has seen nothing. —Maximus the Confessor, In Epistula Dionysii The majesty of God is too high to be scaled up to by mortals, who creep like worms on the earth. —John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion The true and living God is too much for us to bear, to handle, to conceive, to adore, to know, to trust, to understand, and to worship. The Incomprehensible One is simply too much for us in every conceivable way. Christ the Mediator However, that the Son became flesh makes our human nature appear lovely to God. But he also makes God appear lovely to us.1 Take away Christ, the God-man, and we are reprehensible to God and he to us. But in Christ, God is well pleased with us and

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Pleading our cause

Jesus’ intercession is his identification and involvement with the will of the Father. If we started with Jesus as the ultimate word of God to humankind, the Word incarnate, we now see him in his exaltation as the ultimate word of humankind to God. His resurrection has shown that he is the perfectly acceptable advocate for sinners. His very presence with the Father pleads our cause, but pleads it from the God who loves to give his true children what they ask. Since this role of Jesus is from start to finish on our account, it gives us confidence to ‘draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith’ (Heb. 10:22). — Graeme Goldsworthy Prayer and the Knowledge of God (Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 2003), 35 (HT: Of First Importance)

For whom did Christ die?

From John Owen’s incredible treatise: The Death of Death in the Death of Christ. “The Father imposed His wrath due unto, and the Son underwent punishment for, either: 1. All the sins of all men 2. All the sins of some men, or 3. Some of the sins of all men. In which case it may be said: a. That if the last be true, all men have some sins to answer for, and so none are saved. b. That if the second be true, then Christ, in their stead suffered for all the sins of all the elect in the whole world, and this is the truth. c. But if the first be the case, why are not all men free from the punishment due unto their sins? You answer, ‘Because of unbelief.’ I ask, Is this unbelief a sin, or is it not? If it be, then Christ suffered the punishment due unto it, or He did not. If He

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What Did Jesus Come to Save Us From?

John Piper: Let’s do this inductively. I ask. You answer. John 3:17, “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” Why did God send his Son? _______________ John 3:36, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” Does not obeying the Son (e. g., when he commands us to trust him) bring us under God’s wrath or leave us under his wrath? _______________ So what did God send his Son to save us from? _______________ Is this a felt need among the unbelievers you know? _______________ What are the implications for the content of preaching and                             evangelism? ____________

How wisely is the method of our recovery laid

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (John 1:14) “Jesus Christ did really assume the true and perfect nature of man, into a personal union with his divine nature, and still remains true God and true man, in one person for ever. Had he not this double nature in the unity of his person, he could not have been our Prophet, for, as God, he knows the mind and will of God, and as man he is fitted to impart it suitably to us. As Priest, had he not been man, he could have shed no blood; and if not God, it had been no adequate value for us. As King, had he not been man, he had been no fit head for us, and if not God, he could neither rule nor defend his body the Church. Here infinite wisdom has also left a famous and everlasting mark of itself; which invites, yea, even chains the eyes of

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Why the Reformation Is Not Over

Scott Manetsch (associate professor of church history and chair of the church history department at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and the associate general editor of IVP’s  Reformation Commentary Series) explains why it is “impossible to reconcile the classic Protestant solas with the teaching of the Catholic Catechism.” For Roman Catholics, Scripture and Tradition are two distinct but equal modes of revealed authority which the magisterium of the Roman Church has sole responsibility to transmit and interpret. For the early Protestant reformers, the holy Scripture provides final normative authority for Christian doctrine and practice, standing as judge above all institutions and ecclesial traditions. For Roman Catholics, sinners are justified because of inherent righteousness. For the mainstream Protestant reformers, sinners are accepted on the basis of the righteousness of another—namely, the alien righteousness of Christ imputed to them. For Roman Catholics, sinners are both justified by unmerited grace at baptism and (subsequently) justified by those infused graces merited by cooperating with divine grace. For the

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Prophet, Priest and King

“Christ’s offices render Him glorious in the believer’s eye, and dear to the believer’s deer. He is in office for us, for our salvation, peace, and satisfaction. He is a Prophet, who, possessing all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, condescends to instruct the ignorant sons of men. He opens to our view, the mysteries of redeeming mercy, and reveals the glorious designs of sovereign grace. He teaches man his true condition, and discovers to him how God can be just, and the justifier of such a sinner as he feels himself to be. He is a Priest, who has made an atonement for the guilty, by offering one sacrifice to God, and has entered to the holy place, ever living to make intercession for us. He reconciled us to God, by His expiating death, and saves us by His life of intercession. He presents our prayers, persons, and sacrifices to God; making them acceptable by the incense of His merits.

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It could not be more personal

“Christ is not offered us merely as a Savior who does something for us, but he is offered us as Someone who, having done something for us, is himself the propitiation [Romans 3:25]. . . . It is not as if Christ handed you something and said, ‘Here is your redemption, here is your forgiveness,’ and then ran away, as a messenger hands a gift in at the door and the door shuts and away goes the messenger; he has done his job.  Not a bit of it!  It is Christ himself, the Worker, who comes to us himself.  It is Christ personally who is our salvation. . . . It is Christ himself, personally, who comes to us with all the efficacy, the fruit of what he has done, and is the propitiation for our sin.” William Still, The World Of Grace (Fearn, 1998), page 96. (HT: Ray Ortlund)

What Does Jesus Do With Sin?

By Jared Wilson: “The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’” – John 1:29 John the Baptist commands a beholding of the sin-taking-away Lamb. What do we see in this beholding? How exactly does Jesus take away our sin? Here are 6 things Jesus does with sin: 1. He Condemns It. Jesus puts a curse on sin. He marks its forehead. Romans 8:3 – “For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh.” Jesus says to sin in no uncertain terms, “Sin, you’re going to die.” 2. He Carries It. Like the true and better scapegoat, Jesus becomes our sin-bearer. 1 Peter 2:24 – “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and

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How to Deal with Persistent Guilt

From a fantastic little book, The Bookends of the Christian Life, by Jerry Bridges and Bob Bevington: [A] little-known seventeenth-century Puritan, Thomas Wilcox . . . wroteHoney Out of the Rock, one of the most helpful essays we’ve found on dealing with persistent guilt. We’ve updated into modern language a series of Wilcox’s instructions for dealing with persistent guilt: – Shift your focus away from your sin and onto Christ: don’t persist in looking upon sin; look upon Christ instead, and don’t look away from him for a moment. When we see our guilt, if we don’t see Christ in the scene, away with it! In all our storms of conscience, we must look at Christ exclusively and continually. – Shift your focus to Christ, our mediator. If we’re so discouraged we cannot pray, then we must see Christ praying for us (Romans 8:34), using his influence with the Father on our behalf. What better news could we ever want than to know

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Stott on The Self-Substitution of God

We strongly reject, therefore, every explanation of the death of Christ which does not have at its centre the principle of ‘satisfaction through substitution’, indeed divine self-satisfaction through divine self-substitution. The cross was not: a commercial bargain with the devil, let alone one which tricked and trapped him; nor an exact equivalent, a quid pro quo to satisfy a code of honour or technical point of law; nor a compulsory submission by God to some moral authority above him from which he could not otherwise escape; nor a punishment of a meek Christ by a harsh and punitive Father; nor a procurement of salvation by a loving Christ from a mean and reluctant Father; nor an action of the Father which bypassed Christ as Mediator. Instead, the righteous, loving Father humbled himself to become in and through his only Son flesh, sin and a curse for us, in order to redeem us without compromising his own character. The theological words ‘satisfaction’

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David, Goliath and Representative Warfare

From Nicholas T. Batzig: It never ceases to amaze me how the various accounts of David’s life stand in a typical relationship to that of Christ, the Son of David. While the Bible explicitly draws out some of the ways that David typified Jesus (Matt. 12), it is in the details of the accounts unfolded in the covenantal history that reveal it so magnificently. One such account is the battle between David and Goliath. Far from merely being an exciting children’s story from which we may teach our little ones how to be courageous in the LORD, the record of this battle comes at the half-way mark in redemptive history–reminding us of the battle promise of Gen. 3:15 and urging us to look forward to the fulfillment of it when our Lord Jesus Christ defeated the evil one at the cross. The points of comparison are striking: 1. The Battle is a representative battle. Two individuals represent their people and face off in

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What Is “Gospel-Centered”?

In his recent post “Living Gospel-Centered,” Tim Challies answers a question from a reader about the concept of being “Gospel-centered.”  Since that’s what we hope to be the central theme of this blog, I thought it would be important to pass this on to our readers.  Here’s an excerpt: Gospel The first thing we’ll need to do is define gospel. In our church we’ve got a handy little short-hand way of doing this, one that all the kids understand. I’m pretty sure you could go to just about any child in the church, ask “what is the gospel?” and hear this response: “Christ died for our sins and was raised.” When we talk about this during services, we accompany it with a little action. We begin with a closed fist held out in front of us and with each of the first five words we open one finger. “Christ…died…for…our…sins.” And then, with the open hand, we raise it up and say “and

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Jesus now defines us

“One of the most important things to remember in the Christian life is that we must always live in light of who God is, what Jesus has done, and what has happened to us as a result. Usually we tend to define ourselves by our successes or failures, our reputation, our sin, our intelligence, beauty, and abilities (or lack of them). Moreover, we often define other people by their weaknesses, failures, and sins. Hence we are quick to gossip and condemn others. The good news calls us to view ourselves and other Christians very differently. Jesus now defines who we are. Through Jesus’ work on the cross we have been declared perfect, blameless, and without fault. We have been forgiven and made right with God. We have become the dearly loved children of the living God, and nothing can separate us from his love.” — Neil H. Williams Living in Light of the Gospel Story (Jenkintown, Pa.: World Harvest Mission,

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In that place and on that day

Even as we slog through the trials, persecutions, irritations, temptations, distractions, apathy, and just plain weariness of this world, the gospel points us to heaven where our King Jesus — the Lamb of God who was crucified in our place and raised gloriously from the dead — now sits interceding for us. Not only so, but it calls us forward to that final day when heaven will be filled with the roaring noise of millions upon millions of forgiven voices hailing him as crucified Savior and risenKing. — Greg Gilbert What is the Gospel? (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2010), 121 (HT: Of First Importance)

Being a Christian means Christ is all!

Iain Murray writes: Christianity means knowing and trusting Christ as a living Person; it is a relationship which so captures both the mind and the heart of the believer that henceforth to know Christ, to esteem Him and His words, becomes the very object of existence: “To you who believe He is precious” (1 Pet. 2:7) – more precious certainly than all earthly goods or even life (Luke 14:26). A Christian is someone who no longer lives for himself but understands, with Paul, why Christ is his righteousness, his life, his all . . . A Christian . . . is one who so knows Christ that all things are secondary to his Saviour . . . A Christian is one whose greatest pleasure is to see God magnified in Christ. Iain Murray, Evangelicalism Divided (Carlisle: Banner Of Truth, 2001), 152, 159, 166, 316. (HT: Dan Orr)

Worthy is the Lamb

“Messiah tells a deliverance story—the story of God’s ultimate deliverance of his people from bondage to sin and death.” – Calvin Stapert Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, and hath redeemed us to God by His blood, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. Blessing and honour, glory and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever and ever. Amen. (HT: Tony Reinke)

God’s Covenant Faithfulness

From D.S. Orr: I often fall into the trap of thinking that God’s faithfulness to me is dependent on my faithfulness to him. As a result of my faulty thinking, I am often (almost always) enslaved by performance.  Further, this mindset distorts reality as I have to minimize my sin in order for this equation to ever work out at all.  Thanks be to God that God’s faithfulness is not dependent on me. Instead, He is faithful to me because of Christ’s faithfulness for me. August 13th from Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening. Genesis 9:15 Mark the form of the promise. God does not say, “And when ye shall look upon the bow, and ye shall remember my covenant, then I will not destroy the earth,” but it is gloriously put, not upon our memory, which is fickle and frail, but upon God’s memory, which is infinite and immutable. “The bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon

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