Category Archives: Doctrine of Man

“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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Filed under Advent, Bible, Christian Theology, Christology, Creation, Doctrine of God, Doctrine of Man, Glory of Christ, God the Father, Herman Bavinck, Incarnation, Jesus Christ, Preaching, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, The Gospel, Worldview, Worship

“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 happiness of the Christian is a serious happiness” by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

“For the Christian man who mourns because of sin and because of the state of the world, there is this comfort—the comfort of the blessed hope, the glory that yet remains.

So that even here, though he is groaning, he is happy at the same time because of the hope that is set before him. There is this ultimate hope in eternity.

In that eternal state we shall be wholly and entirely blessed, there will be nothing to mar life, nothing to detract from it, nothing to spoil it.

Sorrow and sighing shall be no more; all tears shall be wiped away; and we shall bask for ever and ever in the eternal sunshine, and experience joy and bliss and glory unmixed and unspoiled. ‘Happy are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.’

How true it is. Unless we know that, we are not Christian.

If we are Christian, we do know it, this joy of sins forgiven and the knowledge of it; the joy of reconciliation; the joy of knowing that God takes us back when we have fallen away from Him; the joy and contemplation of the glory that is set before us; the joy that comes from anticipation of the eternal state.

Let us, then, try to define this man who mourns. What sort of a man is he?

He is a sorrowful man, but he is not morose.

He is a sorrowful man, but he is not a miserable man.

He is a serious man, but he is not a solemn man.

He is a sober-minded man, but he is not a sullen man. He is a grave man, but he is never cold or prohibitive.

There is with his gravity a warmth and attraction. This man, in other words, is always serious; but he does not have to affect the seriousness.

The true Christian is never a man who has to put on an appearance of either sadness or joviality. No, no; he is a man who looks at life seriously; he contemplates it spiritually, and he sees in it sin and its effects.

He is a serious, sober-minded man. His outlook is always serious, but because of these views which he has, and his understanding of truth, he also has ‘a joy unspeakable and full of glory’.

So he is like the apostle Paul, ‘groaning within himself’, and yet happy because of his experience of Christ and the glory that is to come.

The Christian is not superficial in any sense, but is fundamentally serious and fundamentally happy.

You see, the joy of the Christian is a holy joy, the happiness of the Christian is a serious happiness.

None of that superficial appearance of happiness and joy! No, no; it is a solemn joy, it is a holy joy, it is a serious happiness; so that, though he is grave and sober-minded and serious, he is never cold and prohibitive.

Indeed, he is like our Lord Himself, groaning, weeping, and yet, ‘for the joy that was set before him’ enduring the cross, despising the shame.

That is the man who mourns; that is the Christian. That is the type of Christian seen in the Church in ages past, when the doctrine of sin was preached and emphasized, and men were not merely urged to take a sudden decision.

A deep doctrine of sin, a high doctrine of joy, and the two together produce this blessed, happy man who mourns, and who at the same time is comforted.

The way to experience that, obviously, is to read the Scriptures, to study and meditate upon them, to pray to God for His Spirit to reveal sin in us to ourselves, and then to reveal to us the Lord Jesus Christ in all His fullness.

‘Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.’(Matt. 5:4)”

–D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, Second edition. (England: Inter-Varsity Press, 1976), 65-66.

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“Christians today often speak less about saving the lost than about conquering the world” by J.V. Fesko

“In the church’s efforts to defend the faith, Christians must always take a humble stance toward the world. Like the sons of Zebedee, whom Jesus nicknamed “the Sons of Thunder,” we can be all too eager to call down fire on unbelievers (Mark 3:17; Luke 9:54).

Add in the misguided claim that the Bible provides a comprehensive view of life and the world that encompasses all knowledge, and this can easily turn into Christian imperialism.

Christians today often speak less about saving the lost than about conquering the world.

Especially in the secularized West, the problem with such rhetoric is that it does not align with the more modest claims of the Bible.

The church is a pilgrim people: this world is not our home. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were princes among the people of God and were heirs of the covenant promises, yet they dwelled in tents.

As the book of Hebrews tells us,

“By faith [Abraham] went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God” (Heb. 11:9-10).

Too often, Christians thunder about transforming and conquering the world, but such rhetoric is far from Christ’s conduct. Rather than seeking to conquer the world, Christians in defending the gospel must be willing to roll up our sleeves, drop to our knees, and wash the feet of unbelievers.

Even Christ washed the feet of Judas, one who would eventually betray him.

To claim, as Van Til does, that no true learning occurs outside of Christian education, casts an unintended but nevertheless real shadow of contempt on God’s natural gifts, which He has abundantly given to the world, even to the apostate line of Cain.

Christians have much to learn from the unbelieving world about many things: science, mathematics, engineering, literature, art, music, and even ethics. Acknowledging that Christians have something to learn from unbelievers does not require that we embrace in toto what unbelivers claim.

Rather, to learn from the unbelieving world ultimately means to submit to God’s natural revelation in the world and the general wisdom He has so liberally bestowed on His good but nevertheless fallen creation.

We dig amid the muddy soil of this sin-marred world in search of pearls and gems of God’s wisdom.

We must always interrogate and compare any claim against the canon of Scripture to determine whether truth-claims are accurate. In our use of the book of nature, we must never set aside the book of Scripture.

Scripture must always regulate our understanding of the book of nature, lest we abandon the truth and imbibe the world’s erroneous and sinful interpretations of the book of nature.

But we must not forget that all truth is God’s truth, regardless of its human point of origin.

It is true that those who hold the truth in unrighteousness resist the very source of the order, pattern, purpose, freedom, and beauty in nature. They ineluctably presuppose the theism that they willfully distort and resist.

Nevertheless, nowhere in the New Testament do we find language touting the superiority of Christian knowledge, claiming that Christians understand math or science better than unbelievers.

Instead, we encounter the humility and love of Christ for sinners, the same characteristics that should mark the church. Hence, Peter counsels Christians to adopt a humble posture in the face of persecution as they testify and give a defense for the hope that is in us. (1 Peter 3:15-16)

We do not conquer through cultural domination and making claims about the world’s ignorance.

Rather, if love is one of the goals of epistemology, and epistemology is ultimately the submission to God’s authoritative revelation, then we are not cultural conquerors but beggars showing other beggars where they can find a meal.

We conquer the world by laying down our lives in testimony for and defense of the gospel, not in making claims of cultural conquest or epistemological superiority.

As a pride of ferocious lambs, Christians testify to and defend the truth of the gospel with the books of nature and Scripture always in hand.

Christians need not shun the book of nature. We can rejoice because Christ looks out on the creation and all truth and rightfully claims “Mine!” Every square inch belongs to Christ, and therefore every square inch belongs to Christians.

But just because it all belongs to Christ does not mean that Christians are somehow automatically intellectually or culturally superior to their unbelieving counterparts.

Christians know the right motivational foundation and teleological goal of all knowledge, though they frequently forget them, and never succeed this side of glory in living in full conformity to them.

Nevertheless, with this proper understanding of epistemology, we can fruitfully interact with unbelievers, because we share the image of God.

We can defend the gospel, knowing that apologetics can clear away intellectual obstacles to the gospel, clarify our own understanding of the truth, protect the church from false teaching, and encourage our own hearts as we further immerse ourselves in the truth.”

–J.V. Fesko, Reforming Apologetics: Retrieving the Classic Reformed Approach to Defending the Faith (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2019), 215, 217, 218-219.

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“A continual desire” by John Owen

“Our Lord Jesus Christ alone perfectly understood wherein the eternal blessedness of them that believe in Him doth consist.

And this is the sum of what He prays for with respect unto that end,– namely, that we may be where He is, to behold His glory. (John 17:24)

And is it not our duty to live in a continual desire of that which He prayed so earnestly that we might attain?”

–John Owen, “Meditations and Discourses on the Glory of Christ,” The Works of John Owen, Volume 1: The Glory of Christ (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1684/2000), 1: 388-389.

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“This is heaven, this is blessedness, this is eternal rest” by John Owen

“Alas! We cannot here think of Christ, but we are quickly ashamed of, and troubled at, our own thoughts; so confused are they, so unsteady, so imperfect.

Commonly they issue in a groan or a sigh: Oh! when shall we come unto Him? When shall we be ever with Him? When shall we see Him as He is?

And if at any time He begins to give more than ordinary evidences and intimations of His glory and love unto our souls, we are not able to bear them, so as to give them any abiding residence in our minds.

But ordinarily this trouble and groaning is amongst our best attainments in this world,– a trouble which, I pray God, I may never be delivered from, until deliverance do come at once from this state of mortality; yea, the good Lord increase this trouble more and more in all that believe.

The heart of a believer affected with the glory of Christ, is like the needle touched with the loadstone.

It can no longer be quiet, no longer be satisfied in a distance from him. It is put into a continual motion towards him.

This motion, indeed, is weak and tremulous. Pantings, breathings, sighings, groanings in prayer, in meditations, in the secret recesses of our minds, are the life of it.

However, it is continually pressing towards Him. But it obtains not its point, it comes not to its centre and rest, in this world.

But now above, all things are clear and serene,– all plain and evident in our beholding the glory of Christ.

We shall be ever with Him, and see Him as He is. This is heaven, this is blessedness, this is eternal rest.

The person of Christ in all His glory shall be continually before us; and the eyes of our understandings shall be so gloriously illuminated, as that we shall be able steadily to behold and comprehend that glory.

But, alas! Here at present our minds recoil, our meditations fail, our hearts are overcome, our thoughts confused, and our eyes turn aside from the lustre of this glory.

Nor can we abide in the contemplation of it.

But there, an immediate, constant view of it, will bring in everlasting refreshment and joy unto our whole souls.”

–John Owen, “Meditations and Discourses on the Glory of Christ,” The Works of John Owen, Volume 1: The Glory of Christ (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1684/2000), 1: 385.

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