Tag Archives: God the Father

“In the cross on Golgotha righteousness and grace were joined together” by Herman Bavinck

“The righteousness which God gives us in Christ and with which alone we can stand in His presence is, accordingly, in no sense the fruit of our labor, but is in an absolute sense a gift of God, a gift of His grace. We are justified freely through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (Rom. 3:24).

The grace of God is the deepest ground and final cause of our justification. But this grace is not to be regarded as a contrast to the righteousness of God but as something inter-related with it.

After all, Paul says again and again that in the gospel the righteousness of God has become manifest, and just so John in his first letter (1 John 1:9) writes that God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, if we confess them, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

And Peter in his second letter (2 Peter 1:1) says that we have obtained the faith through the righteousness of God and our Savior Jesus Christ.

In this the idea is contained that God, the God of justice, has in the gospel created another order of justice than that which obtained under the law. This old order, too, reveals the righteousness of God but in such a way that He gives His law to men, binds men to obedience to this law, and in the end punishes men or rewards them according to His judgment of their conduct.

Inasmuch, however, as that law has become of no effect because of sin, God has in the gospel set up another order of justice. To it men must also subject themselves (Rom. 10:3) but this order in itself by way of faith grants that righteousness which they require in order to stand before the throne of God.

The gospel is, accordingly, at one and the same time an order of justice and an order of grace. The grace consists of this that God who could hold us to the terms of the law and condemn us by it, opened up another way of righteousness and life in Christ.

And the justice consists of this that God does not lead us into His kingdom without righteousness and sanctification, but instead has a perfect righteousness accomplished in the sacrifice of Christ and in grace gives it to us and counts it to our credit.

Christ is a gift of God’s love (John 3:16 and Rom. 5:8). And He is at the same time a manifestation of God’s righteousness (Rom. 3:25).

In the cross on Golgotha righteousness and grace were joined together.

Justification is both a judicial and a gracious deed of God. We have to thank Christ and all His benefits for this oneness of justice and grace. To Him we owe also the benefit of righteousness which we need in order to stand in the judgment of God.

This righteousness which is given us in faith, is however to be carefully distinguished from the righteousness which is an attribute of God’s being, and from that of the divine and human natures of Christ.

For if the righteousness which is the attribute of God’s or Christ’s being were the ground of our justification, not only would the whole passion and death of Christ lose its value but the boundary line between the Creator and the creature would be erased and the natures of these two would be intermingled in pantheistic fashion.

The righteousness which becomes ours through faith and which justifies us before God has, however, been achieved by the passion and death of Christ. God has set forth Christ to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, that is, to be a means of reconciliation effecting the remission of sins through the power of the poured out blood and by means of faith (Rom. 3:25).

He was made sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in him (2 Cor. 5:3 and Gal. 3:13). An exchange takes place between Christ and His own; Christ takes upon Himself their sin and curse and gives them His righteousness instead.

He has of God been made wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption unto them (1 Cor. 1:30).

This righteousness of Christ is so perfect and adequate that it requires no completion or supplementation of our own. As a matter of fact it can in no way be increased or amplified by us, for it is an organic whole.

Just as the law is a whole, so that whoever would keep it entirely but should stumble on one commandment would become guilty of all (James 2:10), so too the righteousness which satisfies the demands of the law is a perfect whole and unity like the seamless robe of Jesus, woven from the top throughout (John 19:23).

This righteousness has not been put together from pieces or fragments. You either have all of it or none of it. We cannot get a part of it and fill in the rest ourselves. And, anyhow, what have we to give that would serve to fill out such righteousness?

Certainly not the good works done before the faith. The Scriptures say most unequivocally that the imagination of the thoughts of men’s hearts is evil from youth on, that what is born of the flesh is flesh, that the thought of the flesh is enmity against God and cannot submit itself to His law and that all of its righteousnesses are as filthy rags.

If good works had to amplify and fill out the righteousness which Christ has achieved, the only works that could be considered as qualifying at all would be the works which regenerate man does out of faith. For it is altogether true that the believers can do good works; just as a good tree brings forth good fruits, so a good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things (Matt. 12:35).

Renewed by the Spirit of God the believer delights in the law of God after the inward man (Rom. 7:22). Nevertheless, all these works which come up out of faith are nevertheless still very imperfect and are tainted with sin; when the believer wants to do the good he finds constantly that evil is present with him (Rom. 7:21).

Moreover, all of these good works already assume the righteousness granted by Christ and accepted by faith. The believer simply walks in the good works which God has before ordained and to which, as God’s creation, he has been made in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:10).

Our comfort in this matter of justification therefore is that the whole righteousness which we require comes from outside ourselves in Christ Jesus. We are not the ones who must bring it into being.

But in this God reveals His righteousness in the gospel that He Himself provides a righteousness through the sacrifice of Christ. The righteousness which justifies us is a righteousness of God through faith in Christ; neither in whole nor in part is it dependent upon our works but is in its entirety perfect and adequate, a gift of God, the free gift of grace.

And if it be by grace then it is no more of works, otherwise grace is no more grace (Rom. 11:6). In short, Christ Himself is the righteousness with which alone we can stand before His face (1 Cor. 1:30).

Through His passion and death He earned the right for Himself and His own to enter into eternal life, free from all guilt and punishment, and to take a place at the right hand of God.”

–Herman Bavinck, The Wonderful Works of God (trans. Henry Zylstra; Glenside, PA: Westminster Seminary Press, 1956/2019), 433–436.

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“The encouragement of good theology” by John Webster

“The encouragement of good theology requires that certain interventions be made in order to promote certain practices and achieve certain ends.

Thus, for example, I shall argue that among the most important practices which need to be cultivated – especially at the present time– are textual practices, habits of reading.

There can be few things more necessary for the renewal of Christian theology than the promotion of awed reading of classical Christian texts, scriptural and other, precisely because a good deal of modern Christian thought has adopted habits of mind which have led to disenchantment with the biblical canon and the traditions of paraphrase and commentary by which the culture of Christian faith has often been sustained.

Such practices of reading and interpretation, and the educational and political strategies which surround them, are central to the task of creating the conditions for the nurture of Christian theology.

Fostering the practice of Christian theology will involve the cultivation of persons with specific habits of mind and soul. It will involve “culture” in the sense of formation.

To put the matter in its simplest and yet most challenging form; being a Christian theologian/ involves the struggle to become a certain kind of person, one shaped by the culture of Christian faith.

But once again, this is not some sort of unproblematic, passive socialization into a world of already achieved meanings and roles. It is above all a matter of interrogation by the gospel, out of which the theologian seeks to make his or her own certain dispositions and habits, filling them out in disciplined speech and action.

Such seeking is painful; as a form of conversion it involves the strange mixture of resistance and love which is near the heart of real dealings with the God who slays us in order to make us alive.

Good theological practice depends on good theologians; and good theologians are— among other things— those formed by graces which are the troubling, eschatological gifts of the Holy Spirit.”

—John Webster, The Culture of Theology, Eds. Ivor J. Davidson and Alden C. McCray (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2019), 45-46.

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“The infinite God Himself gives Himself to you in the person of His dear Son” by Charles Spurgeon

“We are completely dependent upon the charity of God. Let us be glad, then, as we learn that there is no necessity in our spirit but what is abundantly provided for in the all-fullness of Jesus Christ.

You seek for a higher platform of spiritual attainments, you aim to conquer sin, you desire to be plentiful in fruit unto his glory, you are longing to be useful, you are anxious to subdue the hearts of others unto Christ; behold the needful grace for all this.

In the sacred armoury of the Son of David behold your battle-axe and your weapons of war; in the stores of him who is greater than Aaron see the robes in which to fulfil your priesthood; in the wounds of Jesus behold the power with which you may, become a living sacrifice.

If you would glow like a seraph, and serve like an apostle, behold the grace awaiting you in Jesus. If you would go from strength to strength, climbing the loftiest summits of holiness, behold grace upon grace prepared for you.

If you are straitened, it will not be in Christ; if there be any bound to your holy attainments, it is set by yourself.

The infinite God Himself gives Himself to you in the person of His dear Son, and He saith to you, “All things are yours.”

“The Lord is the portion of your inheritance and of your cup.” Infinity is ours.

He who gave us His own Son has in that very deed given us all things. Hath he not said, “I am the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt; open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it”?

–Charles H. Spurgeon, “All Fullness in Christ,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, vol. 17 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1871), 125–126.

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“Christ can and will do both” by Thomas Goodwin

“In all miseries and distresses you may be sure to know where you have a Friend to help and pity you, even in heaven, namely, Christ. You have One whose nature, office, interest, and relation, all, do engage Him to your succour.

You will find men, even friends, to be oftentimes unto you unreasonable, and their mercies in many cases shut up towards you.

Well, say to them all, ‘If you will not pity me, I know One that will, One in heaven, whose heart is touched with the feeling of all my infirmities, and I will go and bemoan myself to Him.’

Come boldly (says the text), μετὰ παῤῥησίας, (Heb. 4:16) even with open mouth, to lay open your complaints, and you shall find grace and mercy to help in time of need.

Men love to see themselves pitied by friends, though they cannot help them.

Christ can and will do both.”

–Thomas Goodwin, “The Heart of Christ in Heaven Towards Sinners on Earth,” The Works of Thomas Goodwin, Volume 4 (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage, 1862/2006), 4: 150.

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“His heart is a fountain of mercy wide enough to take in and give forth to us all God’s manifestative mercies” by Thomas Goodwin

“‘God is love,’ as John says (1 John 4:8), and Christ is love covered over with flesh, yea, our flesh.

And besides, it is certain that as God hath fashioned the hearts of all men, and some of the sons of men unto more mercy and pity naturally than others, and then the Holy Spirit, coming on them to sanctify their natural dispositions, useth to work according to their tempers, even so it is certain that He tempered the heart of Christ, and made it of a softer mould and temper than the tenderness of all men’s hearts put together into one, to soften it, would have been of.

When He was to assume a human nature, He is brought in saying, ‘A body hast thou fitted me,’ (Heb. 10:5); that is, a human nature, fitted, as in other things, so in the temper of it, for the Godhead to work and shew His perfections in best.

And as He took a human nature on purpose to be a merciful high priest (Heb. 2:14), so such a human nature, and of so special a temper and frame as might be more merciful than all men or angels.

His human nature was ‘made without hands;’ that is, was not of the ordinary make that other men’s hearts are of; though for the matter the same, yet not for the frame of His spirit.

It was a heart bespoke for on purpose to be made a vessel, or rather fountain, of mercy, wide and capable enough to be so extended as to take in and give forth to us again all God’s manifestative mercies; that is, all the mercies God intended to manifest to His elect.

And therefore Christ’s heart had naturally in the temper of it more pity than all men or angels have, as through which the mercies of the great God were to be dispensed unto us. And this heart of his to be the instrument of them.

And then this man, and the heart of this man so framed, being united to God, and being made the natural Son of God, how natural must mercy needs be unto Him, and therefore continue in Him now He is in heaven!

For though He laid down all infirmities of our nature when He rose again, yet no graces that were in Him whilst he was below; they are in Him now as much as ever; and being His nature, for nature we know is constant, therefore still remains.

You may observe, that when He was upon earth, minding to persuade sinners to have good thoughts of Him, as He used that argument of His Father’s command given Him; so He also lays open His own disposition, ‘Come to He, you that are weary and heavy laden… for I am meek and lowly of heart.’ (Matt. 11:28)

Men are apt to have contrary conceits of Christ, but He tells them His disposition there, by preventing such hard thoughts of Him, to allure them unto Him the more. We are apt to think that He, being so holy, is therefore of a severe and sour disposition against sinners, and not able to bear them.

No, says He; ‘I am meek,’ gentleness is My nature and temper. As it was of Moses, who was, as in other things, so in that grace, His type; he was not revenged on Miriam and Aaron, but interceded for them.

So, says Christ, injuries and unkindnesses do not so work upon me as to make me irreconcilable, it is my nature to forgive: ‘I am meek.’

Yea, but (may we think) He being the Son of God and heir of heaven, and especially being now filled with glory, and sitting at God’s right hand, He may now despise the lowliness of us here below; though not out of anger, yet out of that height of His greatness and distance that He is advanced unto, in that we are too man for him to marry, or be familiar with.

He surely hath higher thoughts than to regard such poor, low things as we are. And so though indeed we conceive Him meek, and not prejudiced with injuries, yet He may be too high and lofty to condescend so far as to regard, or take to heart, the condition of poor creatures.

No, says Christ; ‘I am lowly’ also, willing to bestow My love and favour upon the poorest and meanest. And further, all this is not a semblance of such an affable disposition, nor is it externally put on in the face and outward carriage only, as in many great ones, that will seem gentle and courteous, but there is all this ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ, ‘in the heart;’ it is His temper, His disposition, His nature to be gracious, which nature He can never lay aside.

And that His greatness, when He comes to enjoy it in heaven, would not a whit alter His disposition in Him, appears by this, that He at the very same time when He uttered these words, took into consideration all His glory to come, and utters both that and His meekness with the same breath:

‘All things are delivered to me by my Father,’ (Matt. 11:27) and presently after all this he says, ‘Come unto Me, all you that are heavy laden… I am meek and lowly,’ (11:28-29).”

–Thomas Goodwin, “The Heart of Christ in Heaven Towards Sinners on Earth,” The Works of Thomas Goodwin, Volume 4 (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage, 1862/2006), 4: 116-117.

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“Our boredom is simple blindness” by Michael Reeves

“Even for Christians, overlooking Jesus is easier than falling off a log, it seems. We instinctively think of God, life, grace, reality with rarely a pause to have Jesus shape what we mean by those things.

We can even have a “Christian worldview” and find Jesus is but an interesting feature in its landscape.

We can even have a “gospel” and find Jesus is just the delivery boy who brings home the real goods, whether that be salvation, heaven or whatever.

But that must change if we are to take seriously the fact that He is the beloved Son.

First, if there is nothing more precious to the Father than Him, there cannot be any blessing higher than Him or anything better than Him. In every way, He Himself must be the “very great reward” of the gospel (Gen. 15:1).

He is the treasure of the Father, shared with us. Sometimes we find ourselves tiring of Jesus, stupidly imagining that we have seen all there is to see and used up all the pleasure there is to be had in Him.

We get spiritually bored. But Jesus has satisfied the mind and heart of the infinite God for eternity. Our boredom is simple blindness.

If the Father can be infinitely and eternally satisfied in Him, then he must be overwhelmingly all-sufficient for us. In every situation, for eternity.

Second, His sonship—His relationship with His Father—is the gospel and salvation He has to share with us. That is His joy. As the Father shares His Son with us, so the Son shares His relationship with the Father.

That is why in Matthew 11:27-30 Jesus first says, “No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him” (Matt. 11:27).

And then says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30).”

–Michael Reeves, Rejoicing in Christ (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2015), 21.

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“They preferred to die of thirst” by Augustine of Hippo (A.D. 354-430)

“The Magi see a star in the East and they know that a King has been born in Judea. Who is that King, so small and so mighty, not yet speaking on earth and already issuing commands in heaven?

In truth He did this for us, in His desire that we might learn about Him from the sacred Scriptures, and for the Magi, that they might believe in Him from His prophecies even though He had given them so bright a sign in the heavens and had revealed to their hearts that He was born in Judea.

For, in seeking the place where He whom they desired to see and to adore was born, they had to contact the leaders of the Jews, so that these unfaithful men, wittingly deceptive but unwittingly truthful, might give evidence to the faithful about the grace of faith, evidence drawn from holy Scripture which they carried on their lips but not in their hearts.

How wonderful it would have been if these leaders of the Jews, when they had heard from the Magi that under the guidance of the star they had come desiring to adore Him, had associated themselves with the searchers for Christ, had led them to Bethlehem, which they had pointed out from the sacred books, and had seen, understood, and adored Him along with them?

Instead, after directing others to the fountain of life, they preferred to die of thirst.

They became, as it were, milestones to these strangers; they indicated the path to the travelers but they remained motionless and immovable.”

–Augustine of Hippo, “Sermon 199: On the Epiphany of the Lord,” Sermons on the Liturgical Seasons (ed. Hermigild Dressler; trans. Mary Sarah Muldowney; vol. 38; The Fathers of the Church; Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 1959), 38: 60-61.

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