Category Archives: Pierced For Our Transgressions

“He forever wears our nature and all our concerns are written upon His heart” by John Newton

“It is a comfortable consideration, that he with whom we have to do, our great High Priest, who once put away our sins by the sacrifice of Himself, and now forever appears in the presence of God for us, is not only possessed of sovereign authority and infinite power, but wears our very nature, and feels and exercises in the highest degree those tendernesses and commiserations, which I conceive are essential to humanity in its perfect state.

The whole history of his wonderful life is full of inimitable instances of this kind. His bowels of mercy were moved before His arm was exerted: He condescended to mingle tears with mourners, and wept over distresses which He intended to relieve.

He is still the same in his exalted state; compassions dwell within His heart.

In a way inconceivable to us, but consistent with His supreme dignity and perfection of happiness and glory, He still feels for his people.

When Saul persecuted the members upon earth, the Head complained from heaven; and sooner shall the most tender mother sit insensible and inattentive to the cries and wants of her infant, than the Lord Jesus be an unconcerned spectator of His suffering children.

No, with the eye, and the ear, and the heart of a friend, He attends to their sorrows; He counts their sighs, He puts their tears in His bottle; and when our spirits are overwhelmed within us, He knows our path, and adjusts the time, the measure of our trials, and everything that is necessary for our present support and seasonable deliverance, with the same unerring wisdom and accuracy as He weighed the mountains in scales and hills in a balance, and meted out the heavens with a span.

Still more, besides His benevolence, He has an experimental, sympathy. He knows our sorrows, not merely as He knows all things, but as one who has been in our situation, and who, though without sin Himself, endured when upon earth inexpressibly more for us than He will ever lay upon us.

He has sanctified poverty, pain, disgrace, temptation, and death, by passing through these states: and in whatever states His people are, they may by faith have fellowship with Him in their sufferings, and He will by sympathy and love have fellowship and interest with them in theirs.

What then shall we fear, or of what shall we complain, when all our concerns are written upon His heart, and their management, to the very hairs of our head, are under His care and providence? When He pities us more than we can do ourselves, and has engaged His almighty power to sustain and relieve us?

However, as He is tender, He is wise also: He loves us, but especially with regard to our best interests. If there were not something in our hearts and our situation that required discipline and medicine, He so delights in our prosperity, that we should never be in heaviness.

The innumerable comforts and mercies with which He enriches even those we call darker days, are sufficient proofs that He does not willingly grieve us: but when He sees a need-be for chastisement, He will not withhold it because He loves us.

On the contrary, that is the very reason why He afflicts. He will put His silver into the fire to purify it; but He sits by the furnace as a refiner, to direct the process, and to secure the end He has in view, that we may neither suffer too much nor suffer in vain.”

–John Newton, The Works of John NewtonVolume 2 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1988), 2: 20-21.

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“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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“Mary’s Song” by Luci Shaw

Mary’s Song
By Luci Shaw

Blue homespun and the bend of my breast
keep warm this small hot naked star
fallen to my arms. (Rest…
you who have had so far to come.)
Now nearness satisfies
the body of God sweetly. Quiet he lies
whose vigor hurled a universe. He sleeps
whose eyelids have not closed before.

His breath (so slight it seems
no breath at all) once ruffled the dark deeps
to sprout a world. Charmed by doves’ voices,
the whisper of straw, he dreams,
hearing no music from his other spheres.
Breath, mouth, ears, eyes
he is curtailed who overflowed all skies,
all years. Older than eternity, now he
is new. Now native to earth as I am, nailed
to my poor planet, caught
that I might be free, blind in my womb
to know my darkness ended,
brought to this birth for me to be new-born,
and for him to see me mended
I must see him torn.

–Luci Shaw, “Mary’s Song,” in Accompanied by Angels: Poems of the Incarnation (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2006), 29.

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“Jesus is a complete Saviour” by John Newton

“One thing is needful; an humble, dependent spirit, to renounce our own wills, and give up ourselves to His disposal without reserve. This is the path of peace.

And it is the path of safety, for He has said, ‘The meek he will teach his way, and those who yield up themselves to him he will guide with his eye.’ (Psalm 25:9)

I hope you will fight and pray against every rising of a murmuring spirit, and be thankful for the great things which he has already done for you.

It is good to be humbled for sin, but not to be discouraged.

For though we are poor creatures, Jesus is a complete Saviour, and we bring more honour to God by believing in His name, and trusting His word of promise, than we could do by a thousand outward works.

I pray the Lord to shine upon your soul, and to fill you with all joy and peace in believing.

Remember to pray for us, that we may be brought home to you in peace.”

–John Newton, The Works of John NewtonVolume 2 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1988), 2: 144-145.

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“His name is Love” by John Newton

“I hope, in the midst of all your engagements, you find a little time to read His good Word, and to wait at His mercy-seat. It is good for us to draw nigh to Him.

It is an honour that He permits us to pray; and we shall surely find He is a God hearing prayer. Endeavour to be diligent in the means; yet watch and strive against a legal spirit, which is always aiming to represent him as a hard master, watching, as it were, to take advantage of us.

But it is far otherwise. His name is Love: He looks upon us with compassion; He knows our frame, and remembers that we are but dust.

And when our infirmities prevail, He does not bid us despond, but reminds us that we have an Advocate with the Father, who is able to pity, to pardon, and to save to the uttermost.

Think of the names and relations he bears. Does He not call Himself a Saviour, a Shepherd, a Friend, and a Husband?

Has he not made known unto us His love, His blood, His righteousness, His promises, His power, and His grace, and all for our encouragement?

Away then with all doubting, unbelieving thoughts; they will not only distress your heart, but weaken your hands.

Take it for granted upon the warrant of His word, that you are His, and He is yours; that He has loved you with an everlasting love, and therefore in loving-kindness has drawn you to Himself; that He will surely accomplish that which He has begun, and that nothing which can be named or thought of shall ever be able to separate you from Him.

This persuasion will give you strength for the battle; this is the shield which will quench the fiery darts of Satan; this is the helmet which the enemy cannot pierce.

Whereas if we go forth doubting and fearing, and are afraid to trust any farther than we can feel, we are weak as water, and easily overcome.

Be strong, therefore, not in yourself, but in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

Pray for me.”

–John Newton, The Works of John NewtonVolume 2 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1988), 2: 143-144.

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“We look for the city that is to come” by Andrew Wilson

“The fundamental urban contrast in Scripture is not between one earthly city and another but between all earthly cities, whether past, present, or future, and the heavenly city that is to come.

One of the most astonishing things that Jesus ever said, from the perspective of a first-century Jew, was that Jerusalem was going to face the same fate as that of other imperial cities: it would be invaded and destroyed and judged for its evil deeds (Matt. 23:37–24:28).

Forty years after he said that, this is exactly what happened. The Romans razed the temple and set it on fire, and Jerusalem went the way of Babylon, Nineveh, and Tyre.

No city built with human hands, not even the city of David, could put the glory of God on full display.

All cities center on something. In the ancient world the center was usually a temple of the local god. In the modern world the gods are still there, but the temples have changed their appearance; they now look like skyscrapers, government buildings, billboards, or public squares. In some cities the local deity is instantly identifiable, as in Mecca, Moscow, or Manhattan.

In others it is more ambiguous: my city centers on Ares, god of war (from Westminster to Trafalgar Square), Eros, god of sex (from Piccadilly Circus through Soho), and Mammon, god of possessions (from Bank to Bishopsgate).

Wherever you go, the urban god(s) reflect the highest good of the city, which in turn reflects the highest good of the civilization. But there is no city on earth—not Jerusalem, Constantinople, or Rome—that is unequivocally devoted to worshiping the true God, and him alone.

Yet. There will be, though. The apostles were clear about that.

There is a city that Abraham looked for, whose designer and builder is God (Heb. 11:10).

There is a Jerusalem above, who is free, and she is our mother (Gal. 4:26).

There is a heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God, filled with worshiping angels and the assembly of the firstborn (Heb. 12:22–23).

There is a new Jerusalem, a city coming down out of heaven from God, like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband (Rev. 21:2).

Her gates are made of pearls, her walls of precious stones, her streets are made of pure gold, like glass, and she has a crystal river flowing from the throne of God and the Lamb.

Nothing unclean ever enters her, and her gates are open the whole time. She is an enormous cube, twelve thousand stadia each way, half the size of the United States and reaching to 280 times the height of Mount Everest.

And she is so thoroughly indwelt by the living God that she does not have a temple; she is a temple (Rev. 21:9–22:5). In new Jerusalem all of the evil features of your city and mine are removed.

All of their good features—Sultanahmet, Table Mountain, the Piazza San Pietro, Chinatown, the Louvre, Central Park—are amplified. She is full of art without idolatry, abundance without greed, and peace without injustice.

There is music, wine, laughter, and street food. Old people sit in their porches at dusk, and boys and girls play in the streets (Zech. 8:4–5).

And best of all, she is centered not on an urban park or monument or skyscraper, nor even on a cathedral or temple, but on a throne.

God is in the midst of her, and she shall never be moved.

We look for the city that is to come.”

–Andrew Wilson, God of All Things: Rediscovering the Sacred in an Everyday World (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2021), 184-186.

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“The love of our neighbour is inseparably connected with the love of our God” by Herman Witsius

“What we have proved concerning the love of God, the summary of the first table of the law; namely, that it is good in nature; might be also proved from the summary of the second table, the love of our neighbour.

For he who loves God cannot but love His image too, in which he clearly views express characters of the Deity, and not a small degree of the brightness of His glory.

Again, whoever loves God will, by virtue of that love, seriously wish, desire, study, and as much as in him lies be careful, that his neighbour, as well as himself, be under God, in God, and for God, and all he has be for His glory.

Again, whoever loves God will make it his business that God may appear every way admirable and glorious; and as He appears such most eminently in the sanctification and happiness of men, (2 Thess. 1:10), he will exert himself to the utmost that his neighbour make advances to holiness and happiness.

Finally, whoever sincerely loves God will never think he loves and glorifies Him enough; such excellencies he discovers in Him, sees His name so illustrious, and so exalted above all praise, as to long that all mankind, nay all creatures, should join him in loving and celebrating the infinite perfections of God.

But this is the most faithful and pure love of our neighbour, to seek that God may be glorified in him, and he himself be for the glory of God.

Hence it appears, that the love of our neighbour is inseparably connected with the love of God.

If, therefore, it flows from the nature of God, to enjoin us the love of Himself, as was just proved; it must likewise flow from the nature of God, to enjoin us the love of our neighbour.”

–Herman Witsius, The Economy of the Covenants Between God and Man, Volume 1 (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage, 1681/2021), 1: 43–44.

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