Evening Prayer – Gospel Reading for Today

March 18, 2012 § Leave a comment

John 6:27-40
27 Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.” 28 Then they said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.” 30 Therefore they said to Him, “What sign will You perform then, that we may see it and believe You? What work will You do? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'” 32 Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 Then they said to Him, “Lord, give us this bread always.” 35 And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. 40 And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”

Scripture Meditation – John 6:33

August 24, 2008 § Leave a comment

(I posted this as a comment over on Wedgewords. I thought it would make a good addition to the Scripture Meditation category here.)

John 6:33, “For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

In light of the passage above, couldn’t we say that God indeed has and does continue from moment to moment to uphold His “responsibility” as Creator and preserver of His creation and that the incarnation of the Son is the declaration of this very fact, and that it is this that shows our sin to be the most wicked? That our obligations to one another flow from the command that we imitate our heavenly Father?

Now if this is true and we bring this down to the covenantal or ecclesiastical level, we have The Father’s promise to the Son and by extension to all whom, upon condition of faith, are in union with the Son. So, that in the case of the wife needing a husband to imitate Christ she needs that husband to perform the duty that Christ himself has freely and graciously pledged to do for His church. And because Christ is indeed faithful therefore the husband “owes” this imitation of Christ to his wife.

And, also what makes our sin even greater is that God has gone beyond just mere Creator to creature preservation but He continues to love and to be good to those that hate Him and have rejected the clearest testimony of His goodness. i.e. the giving of the bread from heaven for the life of the world, the incarnate Son himself.

Just thinking out loud.

Blessings,
Terry W. West

Worth Quoting – John Calvin on John 3:16

May 23, 2007 § Leave a comment

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life.

For God so loved the world.

“Christ opens up the first cause, and, as it were, the source of our salvation, and he does so, that no doubt may remain; for our minds cannot find calm repose, until we arrive at the unmerited love of God. As the whole matter of our salvation must not be sought any where else than in Christ, so we must see whence Christ came to us, and why he was offered to be our Savior. Both points are distinctly stated to us: namely, that faith in Christ brings life to all, and that Christ brought life, because the Heavenly Father loves the human race, and wishes that they should not perish. And this order ought to be carefully observed; for such is the wicked ambition which belongs to our nature, that when the question relates to the origin of our salvation, we quickly form diabolical imaginations about our own merits. Accordingly, we imagine that God is reconciled to us, because he has reckoned us worthy that he should look upon us. But Scripture everywhere extols his pure and unmingled mercy, which sets aside all merits….”

That whosoever believeth on him may not perish.

“It is a remarkable commendation of faith, that it frees us from everlasting destruction. For he intended expressly to state that, though we appear to have been born to death, undoubted deliverance is offered to us by the faith of Christ; and, therefore, that we ought not to fear death, which otherwise hangs over us. And he has employed the universal term whosoever, both to invite all indiscriminately to partake of life, and to cut off every excuse from unbelievers. Such is also the import of the term World, which he formerly used; for though nothing will be found in the world that is worthy of the favor of God, yet he shows himself to be reconciled to the whole world, when he invites all men without exception to the faith of Christ, which is nothing else than an entrance into life.

Let us remember, on the other hand, that while life is promised universally to all who believe in Christ, still faith is not common to all. For Christ is made known and held out to the view of all, but the elect alone are they whose eyes God opens, that they may seek him by faith. Here, too, is displayed a wonderful effect of faith; for by it we receive Christ such as he is given to us by the Father — that is, as having freed us from the condemnation of eternal death, and made us heirs of eternal life, because, by the sacrifice of his death, he has atoned for our sins, that nothing may prevent God from acknowledging us as his sons. Since, therefore, faith embraces Christ, with the efficacy of his death and the fruit of his resurrection, we need not wonder if by it we obtain likewise the life of Christ.

Still it is not yet very evident why and how faith bestows life upon us. Is it because Christ renews us by his Spirit, that the righteousness of God may live and be vigorous in us; or is it because, having been cleansed by his blood, we are accounted righteous before God by a free pardon? It is indeed certain, that these two things are always joined together; but as the certainty of salvation is the subject now in hand, we ought chiefly to hold by this reason, that we live, because God loves us freely by not imputing to us our sins. For this reason sacrifice is expressly mentioned, by which, together with sins, the curse and death are destroyed. I have already explained the object of these two clauses,

which is, to inform us that in Christ we regain the possession of life, of which we are destitute in ourselves; for in this wretched condition of mankind, redemption, in the order of time, goes before salvation.”

John Calvin (A.D. 1509-1564)

Scripture Meditation – John 6:57

May 11, 2007 § Leave a comment

I read this verse to my family today as we were reading through this portion of John’s Gospel. I was stressing to my children the privilege and importance of being in Christ and having his life in us. I was teaching them that we receive this grace given to us by the Spirit as we partake of the bread and wine in the Lord’s supper, when we partake in faith. As we come to the Lord’s table every Lord’s day, we are reminded of the necessity of living because of Christ every moment of every day of our lives. So we are meditating on the following verse today.

Joh 6:57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me.

Our prayer back to the Lord from this verse.

Heavenly Father, we thank you for your grace and mercy in sending Christ, that bread from heaven that gives us life. We acknowledge our dependence upon the Holy Spirit to communicate this life as we partake of the flesh and blood of Christ daily by faith. We thank you for the privilege of coming to the communion table each Lord’s day and receiving grace by faith through the power of the Spirit as we eat the bread and drink the wine. Amen.

Blessings in Christ,
Terry W. West

An Inherently Sufficient, Substitutionary Penal Sacrifice/Satisfaction

April 28, 2007 § Leave a comment

John 1:29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

Hebrews 2:9 But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

In this article I want to discuss some implication that must be necessarily inferred from these two related text of scripture. This is the first installment of what I hope will be a much more comprehensive treatment of Christ’s substitutionary penal sacrifice/satisfaction.

The first thing that should be noticed is that both of these texts appear in a passage of scripture dealing with the incarnation of God the Son. The Word became flesh (John 1:14). Jesus partook of the same nature of flesh and blood as those he came to save (Hebrews 2:14). This must certainly be the beginning point of our understanding of Christ’s work on behalf of fallen men. So, first and foremost we must acknowledge, as do the early Christian Creeds, the full and common humanity of Christ. So right here at the very beginning we have a Christ who is representative of and relating to all men, i.e. the whole human race. In this way, sin excepted, Christ shares that nature which is common to every individual member of the entire human race that has ever or ever will exist. By this I am simply stating the undeniable biblical and historic Christian doctrine of the incarnation and nature of the God-man.

Now, this being established, lets take another step in our examination of Christ’s penal substitutionary sacrifice/satisfaction. Why did the Son come to this world and take to himself the nature that is common to all men? The answer to this question is, all men are condemned by the law of God and therefore judged deserving of God’s wrath, being condemned in/by the disobedience of Adam (Romans 5:17-19). So therefore in order to save even one man Christ had to come in the likeness of sinful flesh to condemn sin in the flesh (Romans 8:3). Hebrews 2:14, teaches us this same truth, i.e. in order to save even one man given to Him, He had to partake of the same nature as that man, and to suffer the death that man deserved. Therefore, it must follow that is so far as Christ is a man, as Hebrews 2:9 states, He tasted death for everyone. Or we could state it like this, to substitute for even one man, Christ necessarily, objectively, substituted for every man. This necessarily follows from the fact that He shares that nature which is common to every man, and suffered the death that each and every man deserves. So when we read the declaration of John the Baptist, in John 1:29, we must take it at face value and and infer necessarily, that the penal substitution was indeed, inherently, in the place of the WORLD.

Now, let me pause for a second and remind you, dear reader, least you think I have “forgotten” my own “calvinism”, I am discussing the inherent/objective nature of the work of Christ’s penal substitutionary sacrifice/satisfaction. I am not, in this particular article, discussing the application of this penal satisfaction to particular individuals. So, let us now resume our examination of the inherent nature of the work of Christ.

I believe what I have stated thus far is undeniable in regards to the inherent nature of the God-man and his substitutionary work. Next, I want to do a couple of things. First I want to ask a few rhetorical questions in light of what I have already stated, and then draw what I believe is the necessary conclusion from the answers to these questions. Then second I want to illustrate the conclusion from what we know for certain about two men found in the scriptures.

First the questions:

Question 1. Was Jesus Christ fully human? Answer: Yes.

Question 2. Is every man that has ever existed and will ever exist fully human? Answer: Yes.

Question 3. Is every man judged by the law as sinful and therefore deserving of the wrath of God and death which is the penalty of the law? Answer: Yes.

Question 4. Did Christ suffer the wrath of God and die the death which is the penalty of the law? Answer: Yes.

Question 5. Did Christ suffer as a man, being partaker of the common human nature with all men? Answer: Yes.

Question 6. Did Christ by his life and sacrificial death (suffering the full wrath of God) fully satisfy the justice of God? Answer: Yes.

Conclusion: Therefore we have provided by Christ, the God-man, suffering as a representative of the human race, in the place of the whole human race, an inherently sufficient, substitutionary, full penal satisfaction.

Now, the obvious question that I am sure is right now in your mind, dear reader, is this, “If this conclusion is true, then why are not all men therefore saved?” Well, you will have to come back to read the next installments in which I will discuss th subject of this question and others. But, just to alleviate some of your fears, I am in no way advocating the salvation of all men. This penal satisfaction must certainly be applied by the Spirit before anyone can benefit thereof. The illustration that I now want to use to reinforce the necessary conclusion of the previous questions I posited will lay some of the ground work for understanding the application of the penal satisfaction wrought by Christ.

Let’s consider Peter and Judas. Here with Peter and Judas we have examples of two biblical categories: 1. The Elect = Peter, 2. The “reprobate” or non-elect = Judas. I hope that you will agree with me that we can, with biblical certainty, classify Peter and Judas thus. So, what I want to do now is compare Peter with Judas in relation to the inherent nature of Christ’s substitutionary work. First we know that both Peter and Judas are certainly members of the human race, therefore Christ as man partook of the same human nature that is common to both men. Second, both Peter and Judas are certainly descendants of Adam, therefore they both are condemned and made sinners in Adam and judged by the law of God as deserving of death because of their sins. Therefore, when Christ suffered the wrath of God and died, he certainly suffered that which both Peter and Judas deserved. So we must conclude that the inherent nature of Christ’s substitution must encompass, objectively, both Peter and Judas, and by extension, all the Elect and Non-elect together, or i.e. the whole human race. There is nothing lacking in the sufficiency of the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ that is needed and therefore offerable/applicable to both Peter and Judas alike.

The undeniable reality, from the nature of the case, is that it is biblically and logically impossible to limit, inherently/objectively the substitutionary penal satisfaction of Christ, to Peter/the elect alone. The only place of limitation is in it’s application to Peter (and all the elect), by grace through faith. This being the work of the Holy Spirit, in drawing effectually all those given to Christ. But, as for Judas, though it was offered to and certainly sufficient for him, he because of the wickedness of his own heart and as fulfillment of God’s purposes, despised this very provision he needed and was lost eternally.

As I intimated early in this article my intension is to explore this subject in more depth, and in so doing, also cover the limited application of the benefit of Christ’s satisfaction as well. But for now let me leave you with a wonderful quote from John Calvin:

“We must now see in what way we become possessed of the blessings which God has bestowed on his only-begotten Son, not for private use, but to enrich the poor and needy. And the first thing to be attended to is, that so long as we are without Christ and separated from him, nothing which he suffered and did for the salvation of the human race is of the least benefit to us. To communicate to us the blessings which he received from the Father, he must become ours and dwell in us. Accordingly, he is called our Head, and the first-born among many brethren, while, on the other hand, we are said to be ingrafted into him and clothed with him, all which he possesses being, as I have said, nothing to us until we become one with him. And although it is true that we obtain this by faith, yet since we see that all do not indiscriminately embrace the offer of Christ which is made by the gospel, the very nature of the case teaches us to ascend higher, and inquire into the secret efficacy of the Spirit, to which it is owing that we enjoy Christ and all his blessings.” (Institutes Book 3, Chapter 1, Section 1)

Blessings in Christ,
Terry W. West

The Imago Dei: For God So Loved the World

March 19, 2007 § Leave a comment

Joh 3:16&17 “16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

What is the motive for God’s love to the world? We see clearly in this text that God’s love is the foundation for his desire to save, it is the reason for the sending of His Son into this fallen and condemned world. But do the scriptures not also say that God hates the evildoers (Ps. 5:5)? So, how do we reconcile this seeming contradiction?

I think we must start at the beginning. Man is the special creation of God’s own hand. Mankind is the image bearer of God. Genesis 1:26 & 27 says,

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”

Mankind is designed specifically to mirror the Triune God’s own character. So, God’s love for His creation is in relation to His love for His own glory, which this mere creature is intended to mirror. So, as I said before, we are the work of His own hand, and because it remains true even after the fall into sin that mankind still retains this image, though severely marred and corrupted by sin, that God’s purpose for his special creation has not changed. John Calvin says this,

“But as the Lord wills not to destroy in us that which is his own, he still finds something in us which in kindness he can love. For though it is by our own fault that we are sinners, we are still his creatures; though we have brought death upon ourselves he had created us for life.” (Institutes Book 2, Chapter 16, Paragraph 3)

God’s love for his special creation flows from that purpose for which He created this man. He created him to be His image bearer. Therefore, seeing that this purpose is inherent in the existence of all mankind then this foundation for God’s love towards his creation never fails anymore than the purposes of God can fail. But, men have rebelled against the purpose of God and has exchanged the Glory of the Creator for that like unto their own sinful desires and have worshiped the creature rather than the Creator. (Romans 1:22-25) Therefore God’s hatred for the evildoer is proportionate to the degree that men fail to reflect His own glory in disobedience and sin. Calvin quotes Augustine in the same book and chapter as the previous quote, but in paragraph 4,

“Incomprehensible and immutable is the love of God. For it was not after we were reconciled to him by the blood of his Son that he began to love us, but he loved us before the foundation of the world, that with his only begotten Son we too might be sons of God before we were any thing at all. Our being reconciled by the death of Christ must not be understood as if the Son reconciled us, in order that the Father, then hating, might begin to love us, but that we were reconciled to him already, loving, though at enmity with us because of sin. To the truth of both propositions we have the attestation of the Apostle, ‘God commendeth his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us,’ (Rom. 5:8). Therefore he had this love towards us even when, exercising enmity towards him, we were the workers of iniquity. Accordingly in a manner wondrous and divine, he loved even when he hated us. For he hated us when we were such as he had not made us, and yet because our iniquity had not destroyed his work in every respect, he knew in regard to each one of us, both to hate what we had made, and love what he had made.”

The gloriousness of the gospel is that God is not willing that His purpose for His creation come to naught, so, God sent His own Son, who is the image of the Father, in the likeness of sinful flesh to redeem His creation and reconcile us back to Himself. We read in John chapter 1 that the Creator of the world came into the world, He came to His own as one of us. John Calvin says this,

“Luke goes still farther, showing that the salvation brought by Christ is common to the whole human race, inasmuch as Christ, the author of salvation, is descended from Adam, the common father of us all.” (Institutes Book 2, Chapter 13, paragraph 3)

In the same Chapter of John, verse 29, we have John the Baptist’s declaration that Jesus was the “Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world”. The salvation found in Christ is suitable to and offered to the whole human race, for Christ came as one of the human race and fulfilled all that Adam, the natural representative of the whole human race, which is his posterity, failed to do. Christ the God-man fulfilled all the conditions of the covenant of works (Romans 5:17&18). Thus removed all the legal/covenantal obstacles that prevents the reconciliation of men to God.

As a reward Christ has received, from the Father, for accomplishing this work, a people to bear his image (Romans 8:28-39). Thus fulfilling God’s purpose in the creation of mankind, His image bearer.

What a glorious promise and assurance we have, who have been brought into union with Christ by faith, that God will give to us with Christ all that is promised to Christ. So, as the Apostle Paul teaches use, in Romans 8, nothing can separate use from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord!

Blessings in Christ,
Terry W. West

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