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“The path of self-sacrifice is the path to glory” by B.B. Warfield

“Our self-abnegation is not for our own sake, but for the sake of others. And thus it is not to mere self-denial that Christ calls us, but specifically to self-sacrifice: not to unselfing ourselves, but to unselfishing ourselves.

Self-denial for its own sake is in its very nature ascetic, monkish. It concentrates our whole attention on self—self-knowledge, self-control—and can therefore eventuate in nothing other than the very apotheosis of selfishness.

At best it succeeds only in subjecting the outer self to the inner self, or the lower self to the higher self; and only the more surely falls into the slough of self-seeking, that it partially conceals the selfishness of its goal by refining its ideal of self and excluding its grosser and more outward elements.

Self-denial, then, drives to the cloister; narrows and contracts the soul; murders within us all innocent desires, dries up all the springs of sympathy, and nurses and coddles our self-importance until we grow so great in our own esteem as to be careless of the trials and sufferings, the joys and aspirations, the strivings and failures and successes of our fellow-men.

Self-denial, thus understood, will make us cold, hard, unsympathetic,—proud, arrogant, self-esteeming,—fanatical, overbearing, cruel. It may make monks and Stoics,—it cannot make Christians.

It is not to this that Christ’s example calls us.

He did not cultivate self, even His divine self: He took no account of self.

He was not led by His divine impulse out of the world, driven back into the recesses of His own soul to brood morbidly over His own needs, until to gain His own seemed worth all sacrifice to Him.

He was led by His love for others into the world, to forget Himself in the needs of others, to sacrifice self once for all upon the altar of sympathy.

Self-sacrifice brought Christ into the world. And self-sacrifice will lead us, His followers, not away from but into the midst of men.

Wherever men suffer, there will we be to comfort.

Wherever men strive, there will we be to help.

Wherever men fail, there will be we to uplift.

Wherever men succeed, there will we be to rejoice.

Self-sacrifice means not indifference to our times and our fellows: it means absorption in them.

It means forgetfulness of self in others.

It means entering into every man’s hopes and fears, longings and despairs: it means manysidedness of spirit, multiform activity, multiplicity of sympathies.

It means richness of development.

It means not that we should live one life, but a thousand lives,—binding ourselves to a thousand souls by the filaments of so loving a sympathy that their lives become ours.

It means that all the experiences of men shall smite our souls and shall beat and batter these stubborn hearts of ours into fitness for their heavenly home.

It is, after all, then, the path to the highest possible development, by which alone we can be made truly men. Not that we shall undertake it with this end in view.

This were to dry up its springs at their source. We cannot be self-consciously self-forgetful, selfishly unselfish.

Only, when we humbly walk this path, seeking truly in it not our own things but those of others, we shall find the promise true, that he who loses his life shall find it.

Only, when, like Christ, and in loving obedience to His call and example, we take no account of ourselves, but freely give ourselves to others, we shall find, each in his measure, the saying true of himself also: ‘Wherefore also God hath highly exalted him.’

The path of self-sacrifice is the path to glory.”

–B.B. Warfield, “Imitating the Incarnation,” in The Saviour of the World (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1916/1991), 268-270. This sermon is from Philippians 2:5-8.

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“We stand in the righteousness of Christ” by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

“This is a painful subject, and so far we have looked only at the injunction. We have not yet considered the reason which our Lord adds to the injunction.

We have just taken the two words, and I trust we shall always remember them. ‘Judge not’. (Matt. 7:1)

As we do so let us thank God that we have a gospel which tells us that ‘while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us’, (Rom. 5:8) that not one of us stands in his own righteousness, but in the righteousness of Christ.

Without Him we are damned, utterly lost. We have condemned ourselves by judging others.

But then God the Lord is our Judge, and He has provided a way whereby we pass ‘from judgment unto life’. (John 5:24)

The exhortation is that we should live our lives in this world as people who have passed through the judgment ‘in Christ’, and who now live for Him and live like Him, realizing that we have been saved by His wondrous grace and mercy.”

–D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, Second edition. (England: Inter-Varsity Press, 1976), 485–486.

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“The whole Bible comes to us in red letters” by Joel Beeke

“The Bible has many human authors, but one divine Author speaks through them all: the triune God who draws near to us in the Mediator. Though Paul wrote his letters, he insists, ‘Christ is speaking in me’ (2 Cor. 13:3), and, ‘The things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord’ (1 Cor. 14:37).

Therefore, in the Bible, we continue to hear the voice of Christ today. In a manner of speaking, the whole Bible comes to us in red letters.

This makes reading the Bible and hearing it preached a wonderfully personal encounter with Christ. Christ said that the Good Shepherd calls His sheep, and ‘the sheep hear his voice… and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice’ (John 10:3-4).

Christ did not refer here merely to His earthly ministry to Israel, when people literally did hear His human voice. He included the calling of Gentiles: ‘Other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear My voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd’ (John 10:16).

This is the assurance of Christ’s people: ‘My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand (John 10:27-28).

Whenever we prepare to read or hear God’s Word, we should say to ourselves, ‘I am about to hear the voice of Jesus.’ Calvin said, ‘When the pure doctrine of the gospel is preached, it is just as if He Himself spoke to us and were living among us.'”

–Joel R. Beeke and Paul M. Smalley, Reformed Systematic Theology, Volume 2: Man and Christ (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2020), 2: 963-964.

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“Christ spoke prophetic words on the cross” by Joel Beeke

“The death of Christ is the greatest demonstration of God’s love for man (John 3:16; Rom. 5:6-8). What love is this, when God did not spare His own Son but gave Him up to save His enemies (Rom. 8:32)!

It appeared to be a a tragic display of foolishness (1 Cor. 1:18), the waste of the best of lives, but in fact it revealed God’s wisdom and power to save sinners through the most amazing means (1 Cor. 1:23-25).

Furthermore, Christ spoke prophetic words in His passion, including His seven words, or sayings, from the cross, which revealed the following:

  • God’s grace to forgive sinners through Christ: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).
  • God’s salvation through Christ for the repentant: “Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).
  • God’s creation of a new spiritual family in Christ: “He saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home” (John 19:26-27).
  • God’s abandonment of Christ to suffer divine judgment as He bore our sins: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34).
  • God’s fulfillment of His promises and prophecies in Christ: “Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst” (John 19:28).
  • God’s complete accomplishment of salvation by Christ: “It is finished” (John 19:30).
  • God’s acceptance of Christ’s spirit because He completed His work, in anticipation of His resurrection: “Father, into thy hands commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46).

Christ’s greatest revelation of God took place when His deity was most hidden in suffering and shame. This hidden revelation can be accessed only by faith, a a faith that humbles our pride “that no flesh should glory in his presence,” but “he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord” (1 Cor. 1:29, 31).

Christ is the Prophet of the cross, and we can receive His revelation by the way of the cross.”

–Joel R. Beeke and Paul M. Smalley, Reformed Systematic Theology, Volume 2: Man and Christ (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2020), 2: 959.

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“This is our salvation” by Hilary of Poitiers (A.D. 315-368)

“Virgo, partus, et corpus; postque crux, mors, inferi, salus nostra est.

The Virgin, birth, and body, then the cross, death, and lower world; this is our salvation.”

–Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity 2.24 (trans. E.W. Watson and L. Pullman, NPNF 2/9:59). As cited in Samuel D. Renihan, Crux, Mors, Inferi: A Primer and Reader on the Descent of Christ (Independently Published: Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, 2021), 18.

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“We needed a Father, but He did not need sons” by Thomas Watson

“See the amazing love of God in making us His sons.

It is love in God to feed us, but even more to adopt us: ‘Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God!’ (1 John 3:1) It is full of wonder.

The wonder of God’s love in adopting us will appear the more if we consider this: that God should adopt us when He had a Son of His own.

Men adopt because they want children, and desire to have some to bear their name.

But that God should adopt us when He had a Son of His own, the Lord Jesus, here is the wonder of love.

Christ is called ‘God’s dear Son,’ (Col. 1:13); a Son more worthy than the angels, (Heb. 1:4), ‘being made so much better than the angels.’

Now, when God had a Son of His own, such a Son, here is the wonder of God’s love in adopting us:

We needed a Father, but He did not need sons.”

–Thomas Watson, A Body of Divinity Contained in Sermons Upon the Westminster Assembly’s Catechism (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1692/1970), 234-235.

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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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