Tag Archives: Active Obedience

“From the cradle to the cross He obeyed the will of God from the heart” by Robert Murray M’Cheyne

Inquiry: What good is it to me that Christ is free from guilt?

Answer: Christ is offered to you as your Saviour.

There is perfect obedience in Christ, because He hath gone to the Father, and we see Him no more.

When He came to this world, He came not only to suffer, but to do— not only to be a dying Saviour, but also a doing Saviour— not only to suffer the curse which the first Adam had brought upon the world, but to render the obedience which the first Adam had left undone.

From the cradle to the cross He obeyed the will of God from the heart.

When He came into the world, His word was: “Lo! I come; in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O God; yea, thy law is within my heart.” (Psalm 40:6-8)

When He was in the midst of His obedience, still He did not change His mind. He says: “I have meat to eat that ye know not of: my meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.” (John 4:32)

And when He was going out of the world, still His word was: “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” (John 17:4)

So that it is true what an apostle says; that He was “obedient even unto death.” The whole law is summed up in these two commands—that we love God and our neighbor. Christ did both.

(1.) He loved God perfectly, as God says in Psalm 91:14:“Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him; I will set him on high.”

(2.) He loved His neighbor as Himself. It was out of love to men that he came into the world at all; and everything he did and everything he suffered in the world, was out of love to his neighbor.

It was out of love to men that he performed the greatest part of his obedience, namely, the laying down his life. This was the principal errand upon which he came into the world.

This was the most dreadful and difficult command which God laid upon him, and yet he obeyed. But a short while before he was betrayed, God gave him an awful view of his coming wrath, in the garden of Gethsemane.

He set down the cup before him, and showed that it was a cup without any mixture of mercy in it; and yet Christ obeyed: his human nature shrank back from it, and he prayed: “If it be possible let this cup pass from me;” but he did not waver one moment from complete obedience for he adds: “Nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.”

Now this is the obedience of Christ, and we know that it is perfect.

(1.) Because he was the Son of God, and all that he did must be perfect.

(2.) Because he is gone to the Father. He is ascended into the presence of God. And how did the Father receive him?

We are told in the 110th Psalm. A door is opened in heaven, and we are suffered to hear the very words with which God receives his Son: “The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies my footstool.” (Psalm 110)

So, then, God did not send him back, as one who had not obeyed perfectly enough. God did not forbid him his presence, as one unworthy to be accepted; but God highly exalted him—looked upon him as worthy of much honor—worthy of a seat on the throne at his right hand.

Oh! how plain that Christ is accepted with the Father! how plain that his righteousness is most lovely and all divine in the sight of God the Father.

Hearken, then, trembling sinner! this righteousness is offered to you.

It was wrought just for sinners like you, and for none else; it is for no other use but just to cover naked sinners. This is the clothing of wrought gold and the raiment of needlework. This is the wedding-garment—the fine linen, white and clean.

Oh! put ye on the Lord Jesus. Why should you refuse your own mercies?

Become one with Christ, by believing, and you are not only pardoned, as I showed before, but you are righteous in the sight of God; not only shall you never be cast into hell, but you shall surely be carried into heaven—as surely as Christ is now there.

Become one with Christ, and even this moment you are lovely in the sight of God—comely, through his comeliness put upon you. You are as much accepted in the sight of God as is the Son of Man, the Beloved, that sits on his right hand.

The Spirit shall be given you, as surely as he is given to Christ. He is given to Christ as the oil of gladness, wherewith he is anointed above his fellows. You are as sure to wear a crown of glory, as that Christ is now wearing his.

You are as sure to sit upon Christ’s throne, as that Christ is now sitting on his Father’s throne. O weep for joy, happy believer!

O sing for gladness of heart: “For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ (Romans 8:38:39)”

–Robert Murray M’Cheyne, “Sermon LXXI,” The Works of the Late Rev. Robert Murray McCheyne, vol. 2 (New York: Robert Carter, 1847), 2: 418–419.

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“Herein is He glorious in the sight of God, angels, and men” by John Owen

“The establishment of the righteousness of God on the one hand, and the forgiveness of sin on the other, seem so contradictory, as that many stumble and fall at it eternally. (See Rom. 10:3-4).

But in this interposition of Christ, in this translation of punishment from the church unto Him, by virtue of His conjunction therewith, there is a blessed harmony between the righteousness of God and the forgiveness of sins;– the exemplification whereof is His eternal glory.

“O blessed change! O sweet permutation!” as Justin Martyr speaks.

By virtue of His union with the church, which of His own accord He entered into, and His undertaking therein to answer for it in the sight of God, it was a righteous thing with God to lay the punishment of all our sins upon Him, so as that He might freely and graciously pardon them all, to the honour and exaltation of His justice, as well as of His grace and mercy, (Rom. 3:24–26).

Herein is He glorious in the sight of God, angels, and men.

In Him there is at the same time, in the same divine actings, a glorious resplendency of justice and mercy;– of the one in punishing, of the other in pardoning.

The appearing inconsistency between the righteousness of God and the salvation of sinners, wherewith the consciences of convinced persons are exercised and terrified, and which is the rock on which most of them split themselves into eternal ruin, is herein removed and taken away.

In His cross were divine holiness and vindictive justice exercised and manifested; and through His triumph, grace and mercy are exerted to the utmost.

This is that glory which ravisheth the hearts and satiates the souls of them that believe.

For what can they desire more, what is farther needful unto the rest and composure of their souls, than at one view to behold God eternally well pleased in the declaration of His righteousness and the exercise of His mercy, in order unto their salvation?

In due apprehensions hereof let my soul live.

In the faith hereof let me die.

And let present admiration of this glory make way for the eternal enjoyment of it in its beauty and fulness.”

–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: 358-359.

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“It is a joy of heart unto us that Thou art what Thou art” by John Owen

“Let the world rage whilst it pleaseth.

Let it set itself with all its power and craft against everything of Christ that is in it,– which, whatever is by some otherwise pretended, proceeds from a hatred unto His person.

Let men make themselves drunk with the blood of His saints.

We have this to oppose unto all their attempts, unto our supportment,– namely, what He says of Himself: ‘Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of hell and of death,’ (Rev 1:17-18).

Blessed Jesus! We can add nothing to Thee, nothing to Thy glory.

But it is a joy of heart unto us that Thou art what Thou art,– that Thou art so gloriously exalted at the right hand of God.

And we do long more fully and clearly to behold that glory, according to Thy prayer and promise.”

–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: 347.

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“His sufferings and His glory” by John Owen

“So much as we know of Christ, His sufferings, and His glory, so much do we understand the Scripture, and no more.”

–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: 343.

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“I will pay that which I never took” by John Owen

“‘Ought not Christ to suffer these things, and to enter into His glory?’ (Luke 24:26)

But such, were these sufferings of Christ, as that in our thoughts about them our minds quickly recoil in a sense of their insufficiency to conceive aright of them. Never any one launched into this ocean with his meditations, but he quickly found himself unable to fathom the depths of it; nor shall I here undertake an inquiry into them. I shall only point at this spring of glory, and leave it under a veil.

We might here look on Him as under the weight of the wrath of God, and the curse of the law; taking on Himself, and on His whole soul, the utmost of evil that God had ever threatened to sin or sinners.

We might look on Him in His agony and bloody sweat, in His strong cries and supplications, when He was sorrowful unto the death, and began to be amazed, in apprehensions of the things that were coming on Him,—of that dreadful trial which He was entering into.

We might look upon Him conflicting with all the powers of darkness, the rage and madness of men,—suffering in His soul, His body, His name, His reputation, His goods, His life; some of these sufferings being immediate from God above, others from devils and wicked men, acting according to the determinate counsel of God.

We might look on Him praying, weeping, crying out, bleeding, dying,—in all things making His soul an offering for sin; so was He “taken from prison, and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? For he was cut off from the land of the living: for the transgression,” saith God, “of my people was He smitten,” (Isa. 53:8).

But these things I shall not insist on in particular, but leave them under such a veil as may give us a prospect into them, so far as to fill our souls with holy admiration.

Lord, what is man, that Thou art thus mindful of him? And the son of man, that Thou visitest him? Who hath known Thy mind, or who hath been Thy counsellor?

O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out! What shall we say unto these things?

That God spared not His only Son, but gave Him up unto death, and all the evils included therein, for such poor, lost sinners as we were;— that for our sakes the eternal Son of God should submit Himself unto all the evils that our natures are obnoxious unto, and that our sins had deserved, that we might be delivered!

How glorious is the Lord Christ on this account, in the eyes of believers!

When Adam had sinned, and thereby eternally, according unto the sanction of the law, ruined himself and all his posterity, he stood ashamed, afraid, trembling, as one ready to perish forever, under the displeasure of God.

Death was that which he had deserved, and immediate death was that which he looked for.

In this state the Lord Christ in the promise comes unto him, and says,

“Poor creature! How woful is thy condition! How deformed is thy appearance!

What is become of the beauty, of the glory of that image of God wherein thou wast created?

How hast thou taken on thee the monstrous shape and image of Satan?

And yet thy present misery, thy entrance into dust and darkness, is no way to be compared with what is to ensue. Eternal distress lies at the door.

But yet look up once more, and behold Me, that thou mayest have some glimpse of what is in the designs of infinite wisdom, love, and grace.

Come forth from thy vain shelter, thy hiding-place.

I will put myself into thy condition.

I will undergo and bear that burden of guilt and punishment which would sink thee eternally into the bottom of hell.

I will pay that which I never took.

I will be made temporally a curse for thee, that thou mayest attain unto eternal blessedness.”

To the same purpose He speaks unto convinced sinners, in the invitation He gives them to come unto Him.

Thus is the Lord Christ set forth in the Gospel, ‘evidently crucified’ before our eyes, (Gal. 3:1),—namely, in the representation that is made of His glory,—in the sufferings He underwent for the discharge of the office He had undertaken.

Let us, then, behold Him as poor, despised, persecuted, reproached, reviled, hanged on a tree,— in all, labouring under a sense of the wrath of God due unto our sins.

Unto this end are they recorded in the Gospel,— read, preached, and represented unto us.

But what can we see herein?—what glory is in these things? Are not these the things which all the world of Jews and Gentiles stumbled and took offence at?—those wherein he was appointed to be a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence?

Was it not esteemed a foolish thing, to look for help and deliverance by the miseries of another?—to look for life by his death?

The apostle declares at large that such it was esteemed, (1 Cor. 1:21-25). So was it in the wisdom of the world.

But even on the account of these things He is honourable, glorious, and precious in the sight of them that do believe, (1 Pet. 2:6-7).

For even herein He was ‘the power of God, and the wisdom of God,’ (1 Cor. 1:24).”

–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: 340-342.

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“Christ’s obedience was not for Himself but for us” by John Owen

“This was the original glory of Christ’s obedience. This wisdom, the grace, the love, the condescension that was in this choice, animated every act, every duty of His obedience,– rendering it amiable in the sight of God, and useful unto us.

So, when He went to John to be baptized, he, who knew He had no need of it on His own account, would have declined the duty of administering that ordinance unto Him; but He replied, “Suffer it to be so now; for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness,” (Matt. 3:15).

This I have undertaken willingly, of my own accord, without any need of it for myself, and therefore will discharge it.

For Him, who was Lord of all universally, thus to submit Himself to universal obedience, carrieth along with it an evidence of glorious grace.

This obedience, as unto the use and end of it, was not for Himself, but for us.

We were obliged unto it, and could not perform it;– He was not obliged unto it any otherwise but by a free act of his own will, and did perform it.

God gave Him this honour, that He should obey for the whole church,– that by “His obedience many should be made righteous,” (Rom. 5:19).

Herein, I say, did God give Him honour and glory, that His obedience should stand in the stead of the perfect obedience of the church as unto justification.

His obedience being absolutely universal, and absolutely perfect, was the great representative of the holiness of God in the law. It was represented glorious when the ten words were written by the finger of God in tables of stone; it appears yet more eminently in the spiritual transcription of it in the hearts of believers: but absolutely and perfectly it is exemplified only in the holiness and obedience of Christ, which answered it unto the utmost.

And this is no small part of his glory in obedience, that the holiness of God in the law was therein, and therein alone, in that one instance, as unto human nature, fully represented.

He wrought out this obedience against all difficulties and oppositions. For although He was absolutely free from that disorder which in us hath invaded our whole natures, which internally renders all obedience difficult unto us, and perfect obedience impossible; yet as unto opposition from without, in temptations, sufferings, reproaches, contradictions, He met with more than we all.

Hence is that glorious word, “Although He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered,” (Heb. 5:8).

The glory of this obedience ariseth principally from the consideration of the person who thus yielded it unto God.

This was no other but the Son of God made man,– God and man in one person.

He who was in heaven, above all, Lord of all, at the same time lived in the world in a condition of no reputation, and a course of the strictest obedience unto the whole law of God.

He unto whom prayer was made, prayed Himself night and day.

He whom all the angels of heaven and all creatures worshipped, was continually conversant in all the duties of the worship of God.

He who was over the house, diligently observed the meanest office of the house.

He that made all men, in whose hand they are all as clay in the hand of the potter, observed amongst them the strictest rules of justice, in giving unto every one His due; and of charity, in giving good things that were not so due.

This is that which renders the obedience of Christ in the discharge of His office both mysterious and glorious.”

–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: 339-340.

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“From the cradle to the cross” by Robert Murray M’Cheyne

“Christ is offered to you as your Saviour. There is perfect obedience in Christ. When He came to this world He came not only to suffer but to do — not only to be a dying Saviour but also a doing Saviour — not only to suffer the curse which the first Adam had brought upon the world but to render the obedience which the first Adam had left undone. From the cradle to the cross He obeyed the will of God from the heart.”

–Robert Murray M’Cheyne, The Sermons of Robert Murray M’Cheyne (London: Banner of Truth, 1961), 102-103.

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