Category Archives: Doctrine of God

“He is conceived in the fullness of time by the Holy Spirit in Mary” by Herman Bavinck

“Promised under the Old Testament as the Messiah who is to come as a descendant of a woman of Abraham, Judah, and David, He is conceived in the fullness of time by the Holy Spirit in Mary (Matt. 1:20) and born of her, of a woman (Gal. 4:4).

He is her son (Luke 2:7), the fruit of her womb (Luke 1:42), a descendant of David and Israel according to the flesh (Acts 2:30; Rom. 1:3; 9:5), sharing in our flesh and blood, like us in all things, sin excepted (Heb. 2:14, 17–18; 4:15; 5:1); a true human, the Son of Man (Rom. 5:15; 1 Cor. 15:21; 1 Tim. 2:5), growing up as an infant (Luke 2:40, 52), experiencing hunger (Matt. 4:2), thirst (John 19:28), weeping (Luke 19:41; John 11:35), being moved (John 12:27), feeling grief (Matt. 26:38), being furious (John 2:17), suffering, dying.

For Scripture it is so much an established fact that Christ came in the flesh that it calls the denial of it anti-Christian (1 John 2:22). And it teaches that Christ assumed not only a true but also a complete human nature.”

–Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics: Sin and Salvation in Christ, vol. 3, Ed. John Bolt, and Trans. John Vriend (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2006), 3: 296.

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“This is the heart of the gospel” by Herman Bavinck

“There is one mediator between God and humanity, the true God-man Jesus Christ.

This is the heart of the gospel.”

–Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics: Sin and Salvation in Christ (Ed. John Bolt, and Trans. John Vriend; vol. 1; Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2006), 3: 237.

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“A super-infinite plan” by Maximus the Confessor (A.D. 580–662)

“For it was fitting for the Creator of the universe, who by the economy of His incarnation became what by nature He was not, to preserve without change both what He himself was by nature and what He became in His incarnation.

For naturally we must not consider any change at all in God, nor conceive any movement in Him. Being changed properly pertains to movable creatures.

This is the great and hidden mystery, at once the blessed end for which all things are ordained. It is the divine purpose conceived before the beginning of created beings.

In defining it we would say that this mystery is the preconceived goal for which everything exists, but which itself exists on account of nothing.

With a clear view to this end, God created the essences of created beings, and such is, properly speaking, the terminus of His providence and of the things under His providential care.

Inasmuch as it leads to God, it is the recapitulation of the things He has created. It is the mystery which circumscribes all the ages, and which reveals the grand plan of God (Eph. 1:10–11), a super-infinite plan infinitely preexisting the ages.

The Logos, by essence God, became a messenger of this plan (Isa. 9:6) when He became a man and, if I may rightly say so, established Himself as the innermost depth of the Father’s goodness while also displaying in Himself the very goal for which His creatures manifestly received the beginning of their existence.”

–Maximus the Confessor, Ad Thalassium 60, in On the Cosmic Mystery of Jesus Christ: Selected Writings from St Maximus the Confessor, ed. John Behr, trans. Paul M. Blowers and Robert Louis Wilken, vol. 25, Popular Patristics Series (Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2003), 124–125.

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“There was no other way” by Cyril of Alexandria (A.D. 370–444)

“There was no other way to shake off the gloomy dominion of death, only by the incarnation of the Only Begotten.

This was why He appeared as we are.”

–Cyril of Alexandria, On the Unity of Christ, ed. John Behr, trans. John Anthony McGuckin, vol. 13, Popular Patristics Series (Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1995), 13: 125.

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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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“God’s happiness is inseparably linked in with His holiness” by Robert Murray M’Cheyne

“To gain entire likeness to Christ, I ought to get a high esteem of the happiness of it. I am persuaded that God’s happiness is inseparably linked in with His holiness.

Holiness and happiness are like light and heat. God never tasted one of the pleasures of sin.

Christ had a body such as I have, yet He never tasted one of the pleasures of sin.

The redeemed, through all eternity, will never taste one of the pleasures of sin; yet their happiness is complete. It would be my greatest happiness to be from this moment entirely like them.

Every sin is something away from my greatest enjoyment. The devil strives night and day to make me forget this or disbelieve it.

He says, ‘Why should you not enjoy this pleasure as much as Solomon or David? You may go to heaven also.’

I am persuaded that this is a lie. I am persuaded that my true happiness is to go and sin no more.”

–Robert Murray M’Cheyne, Memoir and Remains of the Rev. Robert Murray M’Cheyne, Ed. Andrew A. Bonar (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1844/1966), 154-155.

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