Category Archives: Christ is Best

“In faithful wonder” by Herman Bavinck

“The theological task calls for humility. Full comprehension is impossible; wonder and mystery always remain.

This must not be identified with the New Testament notion of mystery, which refers to that which was unknown but has now been revealed in the history of salvation culminating in Christ.

Neither is it a secret gnosis available only to an elite, nor is it unknown because of the great divide between the natural and the supernatural.

The divide is not so much metaphysical as it is spiritual—sin is the barrier.

The wonder of God’s love may not be fully comprehended by believers in this age, but what is known in part and seen in part is known and seen.

In faithful wonder the believer is not conscious of living in the face of mystery that surpasses reason and thus it is not an intellectual burden.

Rather, in the joy of God’s grace there is intellectual liberation.

Faith turns to wonder; knowledge terminates in adoration; and confession becomes a song of praise and thanksgiving.

Faith is the knowledge which is life, ‘eternal life’ (John 17:3).”

–Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics: Prolegomena, vol. 1, Ed. John Bolt, and Trans. John Vriend (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2003), 1: 602.

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“The sum of the blessings Christ sought” by Jonathan Edwards

“The sum of the blessings Christ sought, by what He did and suffered in the work of redemption, was the Holy Spirit. So is the affair of our redemption constituted.

The Father provides and gives the Redeemer, and the price of redemption is offered to Him, and He grants the benefit purchased.

The Son is the Redeemer that gives the price, and also is the price offered.

And the Holy Spirit is the grand blessing, obtained by the price offered, and bestowed on the redeemed.

The Holy Spirit, in His indwelling, His influences and fruits, is the sum of all grace, holiness, comfort and joy, or in one word, of all the spiritual good Christ purchased for men in this world: and is also the sum of all perfection, glory and eternal joy, that He purchased for them in another world.

The Holy Spirit is that great benefit, that is the subject matter of the promises, both of the eternal covenant of redemption, and also of the covenant of grace; the grand subject of the promises of the Old Testament, in the prophecies of the blessings of the Messiah’s kingdom; and the chief subject of the promises of the New Testament; and particularly of the covenant of grace delivered by Jesus Christ to His disciples, as His last will and testament, in John 14-16; the grand legacy, that He bequeathed to them in that His last and dying discourse with them.

Therefore the Holy Spirit is so often called “the Spirit of promise,” and emphatically “the promise, the promise of the Father,” etc. (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4 and 2:33, 39; Gal. 3:14; Eph. 1:13 and 3:6).

This being the great blessing Christ purchased by His labors and sufferings on earth, it was the blessing He received of the Father, when He ascended into heaven, and entered into the Holy of Holies with His own blood, to communicate to those that He had redeemed.

John 16:7, “It is expedient for you, that I go away; for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.”

Acts 2:33, “Being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this which ye now see and hear.”

This is the sum of those gifts, which Christ received for men, even for the rebellious, at His ascension.

This is the sum of the benefits Christ obtains for men by His intercession (John 14:16–17): “I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever; even the Spirit of truth.”

Herein consists Christ’s communicative fullness, even in His being full of the Spirit, and so “full of grace and truth” [John 1:14], that we might of “this fullness receive, and grace for grace” [John 1:16].

He is “anointed with the Holy Ghost” [Acts 10:38]; and this is the ointment that goes down from the head to the members. “God gives the Spirit not by measure unto him” [John 3:34], that everyone that is His “might receive according to the measure of the gift of Christ” [Eph. 4:7].

This therefore was the great blessing He prayed for in that wonderful prayer, that he uttered for his disciples and all his future church, the evening before he died (John 17): the blessing He prayed for to the Father, in behalf of His disciples, was the same He had insisted on in His preceding discourse with them: and this doubtless was the blessing that He prayed for, when as our high priest, He “offered up strong crying and tears,” with his blood (Heb. 5:6–7).

The same that He shed His blood for, He also shed tears for, and poured out prayers for.”

–Jonathan Edwards, Apocalyptic Writings: “Notes on the Apocalypse” An Humble Attempt, ed. John E. Smith and Stephen J. Stein, vol. 5, The Works of Jonathan Edwards (New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 1977), 5: 341–342.

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“Every atom in the universe” by Jonathan Edwards

“By virtue of the believer’s union with Christ, he does really possess all things (1 Cor. 3:21-23). But it may be asked, how does he possess all things? What is he the better for it? How is a true Christian so much richer than other men?

To answer this, I’ll tell you what I mean by “possessing all things.”

I mean that God three in one, all that He is, and all that He has, and all that He does, all that He has made or done— the whole universe, bodies and spirits, earth and heaven, angels, men and devils, sun, moon, and stars, land and sea, fish and fowls, all the silver and gold, kings and potentates as well as mean men— are as much the Christian’s as the money in his pocket, the clothes he wears, or the house he dwells in, or the meals he eats; yes, properly his, advantageously his, more his, by virtue of the union with Christ; because Christ, who certainly does possess all things, is entirely his: so that the Christian possesses it all, more than a wife the share of the best and dearest husband, more than the hand possesses what the head does; it is all his.

Every atom in the universe is managed by Christ so as to be most to the advantage of the Christian, every particle of air or every ray of the sun; so that he in the other world, when he comes to see it, shall sit and enjoy all this vast inheritance with surprising, amazing joy.”

–Jonathan Edwards, “Miscellany ff,” The “Miscellanies”: (Entry Nos. A–z, Aa–zz, 1–500), ed. Thomas A. Schafer and Harry S. Stout, Corrected Edition., vol. 13, The Works of Jonathan Edwards (New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 2002), 13: 183–184.

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“Christ is the law and the gospel in His own person” by Herman Bavinck

“According to the New Testament, all the different testimonies of the Law and the Prophets culminate in Christ. The whole Old Testament is basically fulfilled in Him. In Him all the promises of God are yes and amen (Rom. 15:8; 2 Cor. 1:20).

He is the true Messiah, the king of David’s house (Matt. 2:2; 21:5; 27:11, 37; Luke 1:32); the prophet who proclaims good news to the poor (Luke 4:17); the priest who, according to the Letter to the Hebrews, in His person, office, appointment, sacrifice, and sanctuary far exceeds the priesthood of the Old Testament.

He is the Servant of the Lord who as a slave (δουλος, Phil. 2:7–8) came to serve (Mark 10:45), submitted to the law (Gal. 4:4), fulfilled all righteousness (Matt. 3:15), and was obedient to the death on the cross (Rom. 5:19; Phil. 2:8; Heb. 5:8).

As such Jesus made a distinction between the kingdom of God as it was now being founded by Him in a spiritual sense and as it would one day be revealed in glory; between His first and His second coming, events that in Old Testament prophecy still coincided; between His work in the state of humiliation and that in the state of exaltation. The Christ had to enter glory through suffering (Luke 24:26).

The work that Christ now accomplishes in the state of humiliation is described in the New Testament from many different angles. It is a work that the Father gave Him to do (John 4:34; 5:36; 17:4); generally speaking, it consisted in doing God’s will (Matt. 26:42; John 4:34; 5:30; 6:38) and specifically included the “exegesis” of God (John 1:18), the revelation and glorification of His name (17:4, 6, 26), the communication of God’s words (17:8, 14), and so on.

Christ is a prophet, mighty in words and deeds (Luke 24:19); He is not a new legislator but interprets the law (Matt. 5–7; 22:40; Luke 9:23; 10:28; John 13:34; 1 John 2:7–8), proclaims the gospel (Matt. 12:16–21; Luke 4:17–21), and in both preaches Himself as the fulfiller of the former and the content of the latter.

He is the law and the gospel in His own person. He is not a prophet only by the words He speaks but primarily by what He is. He is the Logos (John 1:1), full of grace and truth (John 1:17–18), anointed without measure with the Spirit (John 3:34), the revelation of the Father (John 14:9; Col. 2:9).

The source of His message is Himself, not inspiration but incarnation. God did not even speak with Him as He did with Moses, face to face, but was in Him and spoke through Him (Heb. 1:3). He is not one prophet among many, but the supreme, the only prophet.

He is the source and center of all prophecy; and all knowledge of God, both in the Old Testament before His incarnation and in the New Testament after His resurrection and ascension, is from Him (1 Pet. 1:11; 3:19; Matt. 11:27).

The will of God that Jesus came to do further included the miracles He performed. The one work (ἐργον) is differentiated in many works (ἐργα, John 5:36), which are the works of His Father (John 5:20; 9:3; 10:32, 37; 14:10).

They prove that the Father loves Him and dwells in Him (John 5:20; 10:38; 14:10), bear witness that the Father sent Him (John 5:36; 10:25), and manifest His divine glory (John 2:11; 11:4, 40). He not only performs miracles but in His person is Himself the absolute miracle.

As the incarnate Spirit-conceived, risen and glorified Son of God, He is Himself the greatest miracle, the center of all miracles, the author of the re-creation of all things, the firstborn of the dead, preeminent in everything (Col. 1:18).”

–Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. 3: Sin and Salvation in Christ, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2006), 3: 337-338.

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“We have Christ, and having Him, we have all” by J.C. Ryle

“Last of all, if it be right to ‘hold fast that which is good,’ (1 Thess. 5:21) let us make sure that we have each laid hold personally upon Christ’s truth for ourselves.

It will not save us to know all controversies and to be able to detect everything which is false. Head knowledge will never bring us to heaven. It will not save us to be able to argue and reason with Roman Catholics or to detect the errors of the Popes’ Bulls.

Let us see that we each lay hold upon Jesus Christ for ourselves, by our own personal faith.

Let us see to it that we each flee for refuge, and lay hold upon the hope set before us in His glorious Gospel.

Let us do this, and all shall be well with us, whatever else may go ill.

Let us do this, and then all things are ours.

The church may fail.
The state may go to ruin.
The foundations of all establishments may be shaken.
The enemies of truth may for a season prevail.

But as for us, all shall be well. We shall have in this world peace, and in the world which is to come, life everlasting; for we shall have Christ, and having Him, we have all.

This is real ‘good,’ lasting good, good in sickness, good in health, good in life, good in death, good in time, and good in eternity.

All other things are but uncertain.
They all wear out.
They fade.
They droop.
They wither.
They decay.

The longer we have them the more worthless we find them, and the more satisfied we become, that everything here below is ‘vanity and vexation of spirit.’

But as for hope in Christ, that is always good. The longer we use it the better it seems. The more we wear it in our hearts the brighter it will look.

It is good when we first have it.
It is better far when we grow older.
It is better still in the day of trial, and the hour of death.

And it will prove best of all in the day of judgment.”

–J.C. Ryle, Knots Untied: Being Plain Statements on Disputed Points in Religion (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1874/2016), 60-61.

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“Here at last is the thing I was made for” by C.S. Lewis

“There have been times when I think we do not desire heaven; but more often I find myself wondering whether, in our heart of hearts, we have ever desired anything else.

You may have noticed that the books you really love are bound together by a secret thread. You know very well what is the common quality that makes you love them, though you cannot put it into words: but most of your friends do not see it at all, and often wonder why, liking this, you should also like that.

Again, you have stood before some landscape, which seems to embody what you have been looking for all of your life; and then turned to the friend at your side who appears to be seeing what you saw– but at the first words a gulf yawns between you, and you realise that this landscape means something totally different to him, that he is pursuing an alien vision and cares nothing for the ineffable suggestion by which you are transported.

Even in your hobbies, has there not always been some secret attraction which the others are curiously ignorant of– something, not to be identified with, but always on the verge of breaking through, the smell of cut wood in the workshop or the clap-clap of water against the boat’s side?

Are not all lifelong friendships born at the moment when at last you meet another human being who has some inkling of that which you were born desiring, and which, beneath the flux of other desires and in all momentary silences between the louder passions, night and day, year by year, from childhood to old age, you are looking for, watching for, listening for?

You have never had it. All the things that have ever deeply possessed your soul have been but hints of it – tantalizing glimpses, promises never quite fulfilled, echoes that died away just as they caught your ear.

But if it should ever really become manifest – if there ever came an echo that did not die away but swelled into the sound itself- you would know it. Beyond all possibility of doubt you would say, ‘Here at last is the thing I was made for.’

We cannot tell each other about it. It is the secret signature of each soul, the incommunicable and unappeasable want, the thing we desired before we met our wives or made our friends or chose our work, and which we shall still desire on our deathbeds, when the mind no longer knows wife or friend or work.

While we are, this is. If we lose this, we lose all.”

–C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain (New York: HarperCollins, 1940/1996), 149-151.

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“Death cannot deprive us of our best Friend” by Jonathan Edwards

“Now, Madam, let us consider what suitable provision God has made for our consolation under all our afflictions in giving us a Redeemer of such glory and such love, especially when it is considered what were the ends of that great manifestation of His beauty and love in His death.

He suffered that we might be delivered.

His soul was exceeding sorrowful even unto death, to take away the sting of sorrow and that we might have everlasting consolation.

He was oppressed and afflicted that we might be supported.

He was overwhelmed in the darkness of death and of Hell, that we might have the light of life.

He was cast into the furnace of God’s wrath, that we might swim in the rivers of pleasure.

His heart was overwhelmed in a flood of sorrow and anguish, that our hearts might be filled and overwhelmed with a flood of eternal joy.

And now let it be considered what circumstances our Redeemer now is in. He was dead but is alive, and He lives forevermore.

Death may deprive of dear friends, but it can’t deprive us of this, our best Friend.

And we have this Friend, this mighty Redeemer, to go to under all affliction, who is not one that can’t be touched with the feeling of our afflictions, He having suffered far greater sorrows than we ever have done.

And if we are vitally united to Him, the union can never be broken; it will remain when we die and when heaven and earth are dissolved.

Therefore, in this we may be confident, we need not fear though the earth be removed. In Him we may triumph with everlasting joy.

Even when storms and tempests arise we may have resort to Him who is an hiding place from the wind and a covert from the tempest.

When we are thirsty, we may come to Him who is as rivers of waters in a dry place. When we are weary, we may go to Him who is as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.

Having found Him who is as the apple tree among the trees of the wood, we may sit under His shadow with great delight and His fruit may be sweet to our taste.

Christ told his disciples that in the world they should have trouble, but says He, ‘In Me ye shall have peace.’

If we are united to Him, our souls will be like a tree planted by a river that never dieth. He will be their light in darkness and their morning star that is a bright harbinger of day.

And in a little while, He will arise on our souls as the sun in full glory. And our sun shall no more go down, and there shall be no interposing cloud, no veil on His face or on our hearts, but the Lord shall be our everlasting light and our Redeemer, our glory.

That this glorious Redeemer would manifest His glory and love to you, and apply the little that has been said of these things to your consolation in all your affliction, and abundantly reward your generous favors, as when I was at Kittery, is the fervent prayer of, Madam,

Your Ladyship’s most obliged and affectionate friend,

And most humble servant,

Jonathan Edwards”

–Jonathan Edwards, “136. To Lady Mary Pepperrell,” Letters and Personal Writings, The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 16, Ed. George S. Claghorn (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998), 418-419. Edwards wrote this letter from Stockbridge, on November 28, 1751, to comfort a grieving mother on the loss of her son.

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