Picking up where I left off a few weeks ago...
"He gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:11-13, ESV)
More from "Complete In Him" by Michael Barrett...
Chapter 4: Regeneration (New Life in the Gospel)
"And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." (Genesis 2:7, KJV)
"Adam has no physical life until he received the special breath of God." (p. 75)
"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature..." (2 Corinthians 5:17a, KJV)
"Just as Adam required God's breath for physical life, every sinner requires a gracious and special intervention of God to bring him to spiritual life." (p. 76)
"But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us [made us alive] together with Christ" (Ephesians 2:4-5, KJV)
The Definition of New Life
"Regeneration refers to the implantation of the principle of spiritual life into the heart of the sinner that results in an instantaneous, radical, and obvious change of nature affecting the whole governing disposition of life. (p. 76)
"A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh." (Ezekiel 36:26, KJV)
"The prophet's description of the old heart as stony portrays and inward nature that is cold, unfeeling, and hard. A petrified heart is utterly dead, incapable of functioning." (p. 77)
"...old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." (2 Corinthians 5:17b, KJV)
The Westminster Larger Catechism
"Effectual calling is the work of God's almighty power and grace, whereby (out of his free and special love to his elect, and from nothing in them moving him thereunto) he does, in his accepted time, invite and draw them to Jesus Christ, by his Word and Spirit; savingly enlightening their minds, renewing and powerfully determining their wills, so as they (although in themselves dead in sin) are hereby made willing and able freely to answer his call, and to accept and embrace the grace offered and conveyed therein." (Question 67)
The Westminster Shorter Catechism
"Effectual calling is the work of God’s Spirit, whereby, convincing us of our sin and misery, enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ, and renewing our wills, he doth persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ, freely offered to us in the gospel." (Question 31)
The Baptist Confession of Faith
"This effectual call is of God's free and special grace alone, not on account of anything at all foreseen in man. It is not made because of any power or agency in the creature who is wholly passive in the matter. Man is dead in sins and trespasses until quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit. By this he is enabled to answer the call, and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed by it. This enabling power is no less power than that which raised up Christ from the dead. " (Chapter 10, section 2)
Mark 5:41-42; John 11:43-44 (Jesus makes the dead alive)
"When the Spirit of God implants the principle of life within the soul, the regenerate soul will evidence all the vital signs of a spiritual life." (p. 79)
"Man's spiritual death and inability are answered by God's gracious provision in the atoning death of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ." (p. 79)
The Exposition of New Life
"Being dead in our trespasses and sins means that more than anything else we need life, and God graciously according to His divine power 'hath given unto us all things tha pertain unto life and godliness.' (2 Peter 1:3, KJV)." (p. 79)
Imagery of regeneration...
Circumcision (Deuteronomy 30:6)
Resurrection (Ephesians 2:5-6)
Creation (Ephesians 2:10)
Spiritual baptism (1 Corinthians 12:13)
New covenant (Jeremiah 31:33)
1. You MUST be born again (verse 7)
2. The Son of Man MUST be lifted up (verse 14)
"The possibility of the first depends on the performance of the second." (p. 80)
The Necessity of New Life
"As in the first birth a physical life issues from previous nonexistence, so in the second birth a formerly nonexistent spiritual life comes into being." (p. 80)
John 3:3, 7...
Please take into account the footnotes on the link:
"the Greek is purposely ambiguous and can mean both again and from above"
"This sense of the word is perhaps more pertinent to man's need because it calls special attention to the divine source of spiritual life which guarantees the necessary qualifications for entrance into the kingdom of God." (p. 80)
"That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." (John 3:6, KJV)
"A second birth from his mother's womb would produce the same sinful and corrupt flesh as the first birth." (p. 81)
The Agent of New Life
"born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." (John 1:13, KJV)
The New Birth is a Spiritual Work
1. Christ's definition: Character
"Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." (John 3:5, KJV)
"The linking of 'water and spirit' is a literal device called hendiodys (Greek); 'one through two'... Being born 'of water and of spirit' refers, consequently, to spiritual water, which pertains ultimately to spiritual cleansing." (p. 83)
"Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost" (Titus 3:5)
"Christ is teaching that the new birth involves an inward cleansing from the filthiness and pollution that preclude entrance into heaven. Such a cleansing is spiritual work because man is absolutely incapable of cleansing himself (see Jeremiah 2:22)." (p. 83)
2. Christ's affirmation: Success
"That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." (John 3:6, KJV)
The New Birth is a Sovereign Work
"The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit." (John 3:8, KJV)
"the Greek terms for 'wind' and 'spirit' (click here) are exactly the same word." (p. 84)
The Provision for New Life
"The gospel, the good news, is that God has provided the means and the way whereby dead, spiritually oblivious sinners can receive the necessary life." (p. 85)
Based in the Love of God...
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16, KJV)
"It's stimulus is within God who loves and not in the world which is loved... God's love for the world makes no sense since the world consists of sinners who are highly repulsive and unworthy of love... The word 'so' designates not the degree to which God loves, but the way in which God demonstrated His love for the world... The two 'that' statements (different words in the Greek text) define the way in terms of consequence and purpose." (p. 85)
"Given that the supreme and eternal object of the Father's love is His only begotten Son (John 17:23-24), the sacrificial giving of the Son heightens the magnitude of God's love for the world." (p. 86)
"But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)." (Ephesians 2:4-5, ESV)
In men's study, we are currently in chapter 25 of "Introducing Christian Doctrine" by Millard J. Erickson, discussing The Humanity of Christ.
Chapter 25: The Humanity of Christ
"God is high above us, so much so that He cannot be known by unaided human reason." (p. 224)
"And they said to one another, "Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly." And they had brick for stone and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth." And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. And the LORD said, "Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech." So the LORD dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth. And from there the LORD dispersed them over the face of all the earth." (Genesis 11:3-9, ESV)
The reason I have entered this passage into my notes is to show the sovereign power of God. I once heard someone articulate the fact that as they conspired to build a tower to heaven in order to exalt themselves, God still "went down"... they were not even close to God's glorious dwelling place. My elder, when answering the question "Where is heaven?" in a current Q&A session at church, gave the example of the Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin (the first man in space) and Nikita Khrushchev's comment: "Gagarin flew into space, but didn't see any God there"... the reason he didn't is much like Genesis 11 account; he didn't go high enough... he couldn't.
"We are unable by our own moral effort to counter sin, to elevate ourselves to the level of God." (p. 224)
"the validity of the work accomplished in Christ's death, or at least its applicability to us as human beings, depends upon the reality of His humanity, just as the efficacy of it depends upon the genuineness of His deity." (p. 224)
"If He was truly one of us, experiencing all of the temptations and trials of human existence, then He is able to understand and empathize with us in our struggles as humans." (p. 224)
"Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:14-16, KJV)
The Biblical Evidence
Physical Human Nature
1. Human body... He was born; conceived in the womb of a woman.
2. Genealogy... He has ancestors... and most likely genetic traits and characteristics.
3. His life... He grew; nourished by food and water (see Matthew 4:2; John 19:28; John 4:6)
4. He suffered physically and died (see John 19:34)
5. His (and others') use of the word 'man' (see John 8:40; Romans 5:1,15; 1 Corinthians 15:21, 47-49)
This is what the Prophet Daniel wrote (500-600 years before His birth) concerning Jesus...
"I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him." (Daniel 7:13)
6. He "became" human (see John 1:14; 1 John 4:2-3a)
7. Others' perception of His "physicality" (see 1 John 1:1)
Early Heresies Regarding the Humanity of Jesus
Docetism (dokeō [Greek]: "to seem or appear")
"Jesus only seemed to be human." (p. 227)
All matter is evil, God is holy.
"Jesus was more like a ghost, an apparition, than a human being." (p. 227)
[see also Gnosticism and Marcionism]
Apollinarianism (Condemned at the Council of Constantinople [AD 381]
Apollinarius was the Bishop of Syria [4th century]
(Jesus) "must have had a human nous (soul, mind, reason) as well as a divine nous." (p. 227)
John 1:14 ("the Word became flesh")...
"flesh was the only aspect of human nature involved" (p. 227)
Jesus was a composite...
"What He (the Word) took was not the whole of humanity but only flesh, that is the body." (p. 227)
"Jesus was human physically, but not psychologically, He had a human body, but not a human soul. His soul was divine." (p. 228)
I will again focus on the Westminster Confession for more information on Christ's humanity...
"The Lord Jesus, in His human nature thus united to the divine, was sanctified, and anointed with the Holy Spirit, above measure, having in Him all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge; in whom it pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell; to the end that, being holy, harmless, undefiled, and full of grace and truth, He might be thoroughly furnished to execute the office of a Mediator and Surety.Which office He took not unto Himself, but was thereunto called by His Father, who put all power and judgment into His hand, and gave Him commandment to execute the same.
This office the Lord Jesus did most willingly undertake; which that He might discharge, He was made under the law, and did perfectly fulfil it; endured most grievous torments immediately in His soul, and most painful sufferings in His body; was crucified, and died, was buried, and remained under the power of death, yet saw no corruption. On the third day He arose from the dead, with the same body in which He suffered, with which also he ascended into heaven, and there sits at the right hand of His Father, making intercession, and shall return, to judge men and angels, at the end of the world.
The Lord Jesus, by His perfect obedience, and sacrifice of Himself, which He through the eternal Spirit, once offered up unto God, has fully satisfied the justice of His Father; and purchased, not only reconciliation, but an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven, for those whom the Father has given unto Him." (The Westminster Confession of Faith; Chapter 8, Sections 3-5)
A continuation of my discipleship curricula; Psalm 119 verses 121-128:
121 I have done what is just and right; do not leave me to my oppressors.
"Having done justice for others that were oppressed, he begs that God would do him justice and avenge him of his adversaries." (Matthew Henry)
[The assumption here is that the author of this Psalm is King David. Though the author is not known with absolute certainty, David is widely considered to be the human author of this Psalm]
"David reigned over all Israel. And David administered justice and equity to all his people." (2 Samuel 8:15, ESV)
"See, my father, see the corner of your robe in my hand. For by the fact that I cut off the corner of your robe and did not kill you, you may know and see that there is no wrong or treason in my hands. I have not sinned against you, though you hunt my life to take it." (1 Samuel 24:11, ESV)
"As he everywhere promises his aid to the afflicted who are unrighteously oppressed, it is no superfluous protestation which the Prophet makes, that he had not provoked his enemies, but had restrained himself from all injury and wrong-doing, and had not even attempted to requite evil for evil. In asserting that he had at all times done judgment, he means that whatever rite wicked practiced, he steadfastly preserved in following after integrity and never turned aside from what was just and right in any of his public or private transactions." (John Calvin)
"Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all." (Romans 12:17, ESV)
"Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and He shall reign as King and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land." (Jeremiah 23:5, ESV)
122 Give your servant a pledge of good (surety); let not the insolent oppress me.
"Christ is our surety with God; and, if he be so, Providence shall be our surety against all the world." (Matthew Henry)
"In arrogance the wicked hotly pursue the poor; let them be caught in the schemes that they have devised." (Psalm 10:2, ESV)
"The prayer is to this effect, that God would not suffer the wicked to exercise, their cruelty against us at their pleasure, but that He would interpose as a Defender to save us." (John Calvin)
123 My eyes long (fail) for your salvation and for the fulfillment of your righteous promise.
"Though our eyes fail, yet God's Word does not, and therefore those that build upon it, though now discouraged, shall in due time see His salvation." (Matthew Henry)
Failing for salvation...
"allthough there was no prospect of an end to his calamities, and although despair presented itself on every side, yet he strove against temptation even to the fainting of the soul... his eyes fail him not because they become fatigued, but because through earnest looking they contract as it were a dimness, and that yet he does not cease to wait continually for the salvation of God." (John Calvin)
Salvation in this sense is not the faith in Christ by grace, but rather the continual, temporal provision and providence of God for His people. However, the righteous promise would be the fulfillment of God's promise of a Messiah... the longing or failing can be considered a "painful earnestness".
"rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." (Romans 5:3-5, ESV)
"...the righteousness which Christ, who is God as well as Man, has wrought out; and which His Father has approved of, accepted, and imputes to His people, and justifies them with..." (John Gill)
"My soul longs for your salvation; I hope in your word." (Psalm 119:81, ESV)
124 Deal with your servant according to your steadfast love, and teach me your statutes.
"The Prophet... magnifies the greatness and excellence of the benefit of being instructed in the divine law, when he requests that it may be bestowed upon him as a free gift" (John Calvin)
"...it is great mercy on God's part that He condescends to instruct us in His commands." (Charles Spurgeon)
"In difficult times we should desire more to be told what we must do that what we may expect, and should pray more to be led into the knowledge of scripture-precepts than of scripture-prophecies." (Matthew Henry)
125 I am your servant; give me understanding, that I may know your testimonies!
"It is God's prerogative to give an understanding, that understanding without which we cannot know God's testimonies." (Matthew Henry)
"If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority." (John 7:17, ESV)
"The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant." (Psalm 25:14, ESV)
"We are to confess ourselves fools, and then our Lord will make us wise, as well as give us knowledge. The best understanding is that which enables us to render perfect obedience and to exhibit intelligent faith..." (Charles Spurgeon)
"the Scriptures, which testify of the will of God... are only rightly understood by those who have their understandings opened and enlightened; or have an understanding given them, that they may understand them, so as to receive and embrace the doctrine, and do the precepts of them: and such an understanding is the gift of God, and owing to his powerful and efficacious grace." (John Gill)
"Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures" (Luke 24:45, ESV)
126 It is time for the LORD to act, for your law has been broken.
"It is possible a godly man may sin against the commandment, but a wicked man would sin away the commandment, would repeal God's laws and enact his own lusts. This is the sinfulness of sin and the malignity of the carnal mind... We must do what we can for the support of the sinking interests of religion, and, after all, we must beg of God to take the work into his own hands." (Matthew Henry)
"It is the peculiar work of God to restrain the wicked, and even to punish them severely when he finds that their repentance is utterly hopeless... It is a pure and honest zeal which moves him to desire the destruction of the wicked despisers of God; for he adduces no other reason for the prayer, than that the wicked destroyed God's law." (John Calvin)
"Men make void the law of God by denying it to be his law, by promulgating commands and doctrines in opposition to it, by setting up tradition in its place, or by utterly disregarding and scorning the authority of the lawgiver... when the church of God is trampled down, and her message is derided, we may expect to see the hand of the Lord stretched out for the revival of religion, the defense of the truth, and the glorifying of the divine name. The Lord can work either by judgments which hurl down the ramparts of the foe; or by revivals which build up the walls of his own Jerusalem. How heartily may we pray the Lord to raise up new evangelists, to quicken those we all early have, to set his whole church on fire, and to bring the world to his feet. God's work is ever honourable and glorious; as for our work, it is as nothing apart from him." (Charles Spurgeon)
Made void His law...
"atheists and deists (deny the authority of them); Pharisees (preferred their oral law to the written word); Papists (by their unwritten rituals and doctrines); false teachers (wrest the Scriptures, and put false glosses on them, and handle the word of God deceitfully); all profane sinners (bid defiance to the law, abrogate it, and set up a law of their own, and frame mischief by it)... It is proper, in declining times, for good men to bestir themselves and be in action, to attempt the revival of religion, to do all that in them lies to support the cause of God, and to vindicate his honour and glory." (John Gill)
127 Therefore I love your commandments above gold, above fine gold.
"David saw that the word of God answers all purposes better than money does, for it enriches the soul towards God; and therefore he loved it better than gold, for it had done that for him which gold could not do, and would stand him in stead when the wealth of the world would fail him." (Matthew Henry)
"the reason why he esteemed God's law as more valuable than gold and precious stones, was because he had fixed in his mind a thorough persuasion of the truth, that although God may connive for a time at wickedness, the making havoc of all uprightness and equity will not always remain unpunished... when the wicked claim to themselves an unbridled liberty, it behoves us to contemplate with the eyes of faith the judgments of God, in order to our being thereby quickened to the observance of the divine law." (John Calvin)
"in the judgment of the wise, God's laws are more enriching, and bring with them more comfort than all the choicest treasures." (Charles Spurgeon)
"His love was the more inflamed and increased towards it by the contempt it was had in by others." (John Gill)
128 Therefore I consider all your precepts to be right; I hate every false way.
"He loved all God's commandments because he esteemed them to be right, all reasonable and just, and suited to the end for which they were made. They are all as they should be, and no fault can be found with them; and we must love them because they bear God's image and are the revelations of his will." (Matthew Henry)
"We perceive then how the Prophet, inspired with a holy jealousy for the law, contended against the wicked rebellion of those who despised it. And assuredly, when we see that the ungodly mock God with such effrontery, at one time rising up audaciously against him, trod at another perverting every part of the law, it becomes us to be the more inflamed with zeal, and to be the more courageous in maintaining the truth of God. The extreme impiety of our age especially demands of all the faithful that they should exercise themselves in this holy zeal. Profane men strive to outdo one another in scornfully aspersing the doctrine of salvation, and endeavor to bring God's sacred Word into contempt by their derisive jeers. Others pour forth their blasphemies without intermission. We cannot, therefore, avoid being chargeable with the crime of treacherous indifference, if our hearts are not warmed with zeal, and unless we burn with a holy jealousy. The Prophet not merely says, that he approved of God's law wholly and without exception, but he adds, that he hated every way of lying, or every false way. And, undoubtedly, no one subscribes in good earnest to the law of God, but he who rejects all the slanders by which the wicked taint or obscure the purity of sound doctrine." (John Calvin)
"The censure of the wicked is a certificate of merit; that which they sanction we may justly suspect, but that which they abominate we may ardently, admire. The good man's delight in God's law is unreserved, he believes in all God's precepts concerning all things... His detestation was as unreserved as his affection; he had not a good word for any practice which would not bear the light of truth. The fact that such large multitudes follow the broad road had no influence upon this holy mail, except to make him more determined to avoid every form of error and sin. May the Holy Spirit so rule in our hearts that our affections may be in the same decided condition towards the precepts of the word." (Charles Spurgeon)
That is all for now. Be on the look out for more frequent, shorter blog entries in the future. Please take the time to visit some of the blogs in "My Blog List" and check out the links in the "Internet Resources" area. Also, I will be concluding all of my entries with a few links for you to visit...
Office Hours (A Westminster Seminary California podcast; hosted by R. Scott Clark)
The Spurgeon Fellowship (Media Resources; primarily for pastors)
Calvin's Commentaries (Online commentaries of one of the most gifted expositors ever)
Grace and peace be with you. Soli Deo Gloria!