Joel R. Beeke: In John 3:9–15, Nicodemus, a “master of Israel,” receives a remedy for his troubled soul from the Master Physician. The Son of God gives this night-disciple an eye to behold the Messiah lifted up on the cross of suffering and death. To do this, Jesus brings in vital imagery of the bronze serpent from Numbers 21:7–9 to reframe Nicodemus’s knowledge of the Torah. In so doing, he makes us lift up our heads as well. Jesus presents himself as the true Bronze Serpent who must be lifted up and looked on for us to truly live. What exactly did Nicodemus learn in these moments? And what can we learn from this intimate encounter with the Lord of life? Beholding the Bronze Serpent As we examine John 3:14–15, we must ask why Christ mentioned Moses. Why the allusion to Numbers 21:7–9? For Nicodemus, as for us, the law is given to convict him and drive him to the gospel. Here, for the first
Joel R. Beeke and Paul M. Smalley: In His Human Name: Jesus Our Lord bears the human name Jesus (Greek Iēsous). Joseph and Mary did not choose this name; it was commanded from heaven (Matt. 1:21; Luke 1:31). That is not to say that the name was unique, for there were other men named “Jesus” (Col. 4:11). It was a common name among Jews through the beginning of the second century AD.1 For this reason, people spoke of “Jesus of Nazareth” in order to distinguish him from others with the same name.2 Therefore, the name “Jesus” testifies to Christ’s humanity—it is the name of a man. Why did God ordain through angels that this name would be given to his incarnate Son? The answer to this question comes from both the name’s historical background and its etymological meaning. Historically, “Jesus” was the Greek form of “Joshua” (Hebrew Yehoshu‘a),3 as appears from the use of “Jesus” in the Septuagint and New Testament for that great Israelite leader Joshua, the son
By Joel Beeke: One New Testament book that especially emphasizes God’s astounding sovereign grace is Paul’s letter to the Romans. According to Paul, this grace makes both Jew and Gentile co-heirs of God’s kingdom with faithful Abraham (Rom. 4:16). It establishes peace between God and sinners who are His enemies (Rom. 5:2). Since only this grace is stronger than the forces of sin, it brings genuine and lasting freedom from sin’s dominion (Rom. 5:20-21; 6:14). Divine grace equips Christian men and women with varied gifts to serve in the church of God (Rom. 12:6). This grace ultimately will conquer death and is the sure harbinger of eternal life for all who receive it (Rom. 5:20-21), for it is a grace that reaches back into the aeons before the creation of time and, without respect to human merit, chooses men and women for salvation (Rom. 11:5-6). This idea that salvation owes everything to God’s grace is the overarching theme not just in
“Thus, true believer, you are holy before God in Christ, and yet you must cultivate holiness in the strength of Christ. Your status in holiness is conferred; your condition in holiness must be pursued. Through Christ you are made holy in your standing before God, and through Him you are called to reflect that standing by being holy in daily life. Your context of holiness is justification through Christ; your route of holiness is to be crucified and resurrected with Him, which involves the continual ‘mortification of the old, and the quickening of the new man’ (Heidelberg Catechism, Question 88). You are called to be in life what you already are in principle by grace.” — Joel Beeke, Puritan Reformed Spirituality (HT: Joe Thorn)
In this video by Desiring God, Joel Beeke, co-author of A Puritan Theology, gives an entry-level appreciation of the puritans.
From Joel Beeke: For John Calvin, prayer cannot be accomplished without discipline. He writes, “Unless we fix certain hours in the day for prayer, it easily slips from our memory.” He goes on to prescribe several rules to guide believers in offering effectual, fervent prayer. 1. The first rule is a heartfelt sense of reverence. In prayer, we must be “disposed in mind and heart as befits those who enter conversation with God.” Our prayers should arise from “the bottom of our heart.” Calvin calls for a disciplined mind and heart, asserting that “the only persons who duly and properly gird themselves to pray are those who are so moved by God’s majesty that, freed from earthly cares and affections, they come to it.” 2. The second rule is a heartfelt sense of need and repentance. We must “pray from a sincere sense of want and with penitence,” maintaining “the disposition of a beggar.” Calvin does not mean that believers should pray for every whim that