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The Death of Christ

In Reformed Baptist Fellowship on March 25, 2016 at 11:44 am

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by Dr. William Ames

1.  The death of Christ is the last act of his humiliation in which he underwent extreme, horrible, and most acute pain for the sins of men.

2.  It was an act of Christ and not a mere matter of enduring because he met and endured it purposely.  John 10:11, I am the good shepherd.  The good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep; and 10:18, No man takes it from me, but I lay it down myself.  For the same reason it was also voluntary and not compelled.  The act arose out of power and not merely out of weakness – out of obedience to his father and love for us, not out of his own guilt or deserving.  It was designed to satisfy through victory and not to ruin through surrender.

3.  It contained the greatest punishment because it equaled all the misery which the sins of men deserved.  Therefore, there is an abundance of words and phrases describing this death in the Scriptures.  For it is not simply called a death but a cutting off, a casting away, a treading under feet, a curse, a heaping up of sorrows, and the like, Isa. 53; Ps. 22.

4.  However, it contained the punishments in such a way that their continuance, their ordination to the uttermost [deordinatio] and other circumstances accompanying the punishments of the sins of the lost were removed from his death.  Acts 2:24, It could not be that he would be retained by death.  There are reasons for this.  First, such circumstances do not belong to the essence of the punishment itself, but are adjuncts which follow and accompany those who cannot suffer punishment so as to effect satisfaction by it.  Second, there was in Christ both a worthiness and a power to overcome, as it were, the punishment imposed. 1 Cor. 15:54, 57, Death is swallowed up in victory.  Thanks be given to God, who has given us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

5.  This death was the consummation of all humiliation.  It was by far the greatest part of that humiliation.  So Christ’s death itself is often spoken of in the Scriptures by a synecdoche of the member as the full satisfaction of his whole humiliation.

6.  Within these boundaries, the death of Christ was the same in kind and proportion as the death justly due for the sins of men.  It corresponded in degree, parts, and kind.

7.  The beginning of Christ’s spiritual death in point of loss was the passing of the joy and delight which the enjoyment of God and the fullness of grace were accustomed to bring.  He lost this spiritual joy not in principle, not basically, but rather in the act and awareness of it.

8.  The beginning of spiritual death in point of conscious realization was the tasting of the wrath of God and a certain subjection to the power of darkness.  The wrath of God was most properly signified in the cup which was given to Christ to drink. Matt. 26:39, My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass fromme.

9.  The object of this wrath was not Christ as such.  It was connected only with that punishment which he underwent as our surety.

10.  Subjection to the power of darkness was not servitude, but lay in the distress which Christ felt in his mind.

11.  Because of these the soul of Christ was affected with sadness, grief, fear, and dread inagony, Matt. 26:39; John 12:27; Heb. 5:7; and Luke 22:44.

12.  The soul of Christ was affected not only in the part sometimes called lower, but also in the higher; not only nor especially through its sympathy, with the body, but directly and intimately, not principally by the compassion which it had for others, but by true suffering which it underwent in our name; not from a horror of bodily death (which many of Christ’s servants have also overcome by his power), but from a certain sense of spiritual and supernatural death.

13.  There were two effects of this agony.  First, a strong prayer showing a mind astonished and a nature fleeing from the bitterness of death-yet always conditioned by and subject to the Father’s will.  Mark 14:35, He prayed that…it might be that this hour would pass from him.  John 12:27, My soul is troubled.  And what shall I say, “Father free me from this hour?” No, for this purpose I have come to this hour.  Second, there was a watery sweat mixed with drops of blood dripping to the ground.  Luke 22:44, Being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.

14.  In this beginning of Christ’s spiritual death there was a certain moderation and mitigation in that there was time for those duties which were to be done before his death, namely, prayers, discourses, admonitions, and responses.

15.  The moderation was both inward and outward.

16.  The inward occurred in the momentary abatements of the pressure and distress he felt in his soul.  Thus he thought of the meaning of the office he had undertaken, the glory that would arise to his Father and to himself, and the salvation of those whom his Father had given him.  He consciously chose to embrace all the miseries of death in order to obtain these ends.

17.  The outward mitigation in this death came through the angel who strengthened him by speaking to him, Luke 22:43, an angel from heaven appeared to him, comforting him.

18.  There was no inward beginning of Christ’s bodily death except that natural weakening and dying which was caused from outside.

19.  The external beginning was shown in phases of loss and conscious realization.

20. In the realm of loss he was rejected by his own people and counted worse than a murderer; he was forsaken, denied, and betrayed by his most intimate disciples.  By all kinds of men, especially the leaders and those who were considered wise, he was called a madman, a deceiver, a blasphemer, a demoniac, a sorcerer, and a usurper of another’s kingdom.  He was stripped of his garments and denied necessary food.

21. In point of conscious realization. he was aware of the shameful arrest, the violent hauling away, the denial of ecclesiastical and civil justice, the mocking, whipping, and crucifixion with reproach and injury of all kinds.  Yet there was some mitigation in this death: first, in the manifestation of divine majesty through certain miracles, such as the falling of soldiers to the ground at sight of him and at sound of his voice, and the healing of Malchus’ ear; second, in the working of divine providence whereby it happened that he was justified by the judge before he was condemned.  Matt. 27:24, 1 am innocent of the blood of this just man.

22. The consummation of Christ’s death was the highest degree of the appointed punishment, and in this connection are to be considered the death itself and the continuance of it.

23.  The consummation of his spiritual punishment as loss was the forsaking of him by his Father, as a result of which he was deprived of all sense of consolation.  Matt. 27:46, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

24. The consummation of his death in conscious realization was the curse whereby he endured the full consciousness of God’s judgment on man’s sins.  Cal. 3:13, He was made a curse for us. The hanging on the cross was not a cause of or reason for this curse, but only a sign and symbol of it, Ibid.

25. The consummation of bodily death was the expiration of his soul in greatest torment and pain of body.

26. In this death there was a separation of the soul from the body, but the union of both with the divine nature remained so that a dissolution of the person did not occur.

27. This death of Christ was true and not feigned.  It was natural, or from causes naturally working to bring it about, and not supernatural.  It was voluntary and not at all compelled; yet it was violent and not from internal principles.  It was also in a certain way supernatural and miraculous, because Christ kept his life and strength as long as he would and when he desired he laid it down, John 10:18.

28.  The continuance of this death was a continuance of the state of lowest humiliation and not of the punishment of affliction, for when Christ said, It is finished, it applied to the latter punishment.

29. The continuance was the remaining under the reign of death for three days, Acts 2:24.  This state is usually and properly described as existence in Hell.

30. The burial of Christ for three days was a testimony and representation of this state.

Election Year

In Reformed Baptist Fellowship on March 25, 2016 at 10:14 am

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Exodus 18:21a Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them…

The fear of God, in scripture, does not mean a slavish, superstitious dread of a cruel Being; but a reverence that arises from habitually considering God’s glorious perfection and providence; his moral rule of the world, love of holiness and hatred of vice. He sees every thought and action of his creatures, and will punish the impenitent and reward the virtuous. The fear of offending him produces obedience to his laws, together with hope in his mercy and love due One so amiable in character…Without this fear, a man is unworthy of any trust or confidence. No principle so promotes this regard for virtue, as the fear of God. A man may follow virtue when he faces no strong temptation to the contrary. But when temporal infamy and misery are a certain consequence of practicing virtue, and temporal honor and happiness the consequence of forsaking it, will [he] adhere to his duty without regard for God, as his ruler and judge? Will he sacrifice all for the sake of virtue, when he has no expectation of reward beyond the grave? Will he embrace reproach, poverty and death to do what is right? With no fear of God this ought not to be expected…

Men invested with civil power are much more exposed to temptations to violate their duty than other men: They have more opportunities of committing injuries; and may do so with less fear of present punishment; they need every possible restraint to keep them from abusing their power….

A holy life comprised of the fear of God, has a powerful tendency to ennoble the mind and beget an abhorrence of everything cruel and base; to inspire a magnanimity and fortitude of spirit that will prevail through the greatest dangers and difficulties; refine and purify the heart, disengage it from the vanities of the world, and beget good will and benevolence – the brightest part of a virtuous character. Contemplating daily the perfections of the Deity naturally will lift the affections and fix them upon divine things, make us love and seek to imitate the moral character of God; and weaken the lusts so apt to draw men aside and entice them to sin…

Circumstances often occur to leaders, which call for greater wisdom than they possess, though they may be very able men. In such cases we are directed to look up to God, the inexhaustible source of wisdom. God may give us a more just views and lead us to wiser decisions, than we would otherwise have made… There is little reason to think that this light and direction will be given to men who have no fear of God. Though they lack wisdom, they will not ask it of God, “who giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not.” Without divine counsel, their conduct will be wrong and ill-judged, calculated in many instances, not for good, but harm, even destruction.

It is important for their happiness that religion and virtue prevail among a people. Government should use its influence to promote them. Rulers should encourage the people both by their example and authority… Without such, there is danger that the people will forget God and abandon themselves to immorality. God has made religion and virtue necessary to the happiness of human society. It is the duty of the civil magistrate to promote them.

Taking this care for religion appears so plain and important a duty, that a government that wholly neglects it, would be guilty of base ingratitude and a daring affront to heaven. By such conduct they, in effect, adopt the language of the profane fatalists mentioned by Job, who “say unto God, depart from us; for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways. What is the Almighty that we should serve him! And what profit shall we have if we pray unto him?”

Faith in the gospel of Christ should be considered an important qualification for civil rulers. Impious, immoral men at the head of government, with authority to appoint subordinate officers, will choose men of their own character, and so spread corruption and much injury to society.

From a 1780 political sermon by Dr. Simeon Howard, successor to Rev. Jonathan Mayhew at Old West Church in Boston, edited.

Submitted by Max Donner

Confessional Stability

In Reformed Baptist Fellowship on March 1, 2016 at 3:02 pm

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“…earnestly contend for the faith that was once delivered to the saints.” Jude 1:3b

Fake Christianity has always existed alongside of real Christianity. Fake Christianity always compromises with the world when placed under pressure and crumbles into irrelevance, while real Christianity continues to steam forward just as it always has done, regardless of the cultural and political environment it finds itself in.

Real Christianity never changes from generation to generation, because it is defined by fixed and eternal and unchangeable truths, and by a Christ who is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

It does not fluctuate and re-define itself to obtain popularity and acceptance. Its morality and theology do not change to meet the approval of the masses. Its message is fixed and constant.

Part of “evangelical” Christianity’s problem is that they have focused on size over substance, influence over faithfulness, and popularity over truth.

This is because they are unhinged from any commitment to a historic confession of faith, and therefore can free float their message and theology to adapt to the public consensus of the moment. This has been disastrous.

Those Reformed churches who adhere to a historic confession of faith like the London Baptist Confession of 1689, or the Westminster Confession of Faith of 1646, or some other historic reformed creed, have known that they cannot and must not go down that road, because they have a fixed body of truth and theology that they adhere to throughout the generations – one that is not influenced by the world and the political system in which they currently live.

It is a theology that has been tested and proven to be biblical in the crucible of examination by the collective church across the centuries. It isn’t the “insights” made up on the spur of the moment by an eloquent and imaginative megachurch pastor while he is pacing the platform clutching his microphone.

A fluid message, or a fixed message – that is the difference between the “evangelicals” and the reformed. One has little to no doctrinal definition, while the other has a robust and full understanding and expression of biblical truth, and does not conform to the world, but calls the world to conform to the truth.

That is why “evangelical” Christianity is collapsing into theological irrelevance – and why reformed and confessional Christianity never will.

Pastor Max Doner
Sovereign Grace Bible Church
Lebanon, Oregon

Confessing Christianity

In Reformed Baptist Fellowship on January 30, 2015 at 11:42 am

A Word of Practical Advice to New Bi-Vocational Pastors

In Reformed Baptist Fellowship on January 28, 2015 at 5:26 pm

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I’ve been bi-vocational for some time and I wish I had something positive to say about it. The reality is, you’re going to be put into impossible situations where you can’t possibly see to the needs of the church, your other occupation, and your family at the same time.

There will be times when you just can’t be there for the church and some people will be upset about this. There are times when the demands of the church will put a strain on your other employment. There are times when your wife and children just aren’t going to see you much. While we shouldn’t sacrifice our families to our work, we have to provide for them and you’ll have seasons where your occupations DEMAND every waking moment.

For example, a couple weeks ago, one of our breaker boxes went out and to get it fixed has required days sitting in government offices for permits and inspections (long story how it came to that). This has lead to me working from 7:00AM to 11:00PM (16 hour work days!) every day for the last week and a half to take care of all the obligations that are on me. Sometimes these sorts of things happen and there just isn’t going to be anyone who can help and it’s going to all fall upon you. In the above example, everyone else has jobs and can’t be available or can’t legally represent us with the county.

Now…what does a building’s electrical system have to do with our calling to preach the gospel? It doesn’t, but practically, as the only member on staff in the church you’re probably going to have to oversee many things that other men with jobs can’t (even though you have another job too!).

There is also likely to be a challenge with finances. When expenses come up for the church, and people say, “let’s just trust God with the money”, what that really means is YOU are going to have to trust God with the money because any shortfall is going to come out of your support check. What’s worse, I’ve seen people who say, “let’s trust God with the money”, pull up into the church parking lot in a brand new SUV right after my having received a substantial pay-cut. Trusting the Lord with church finances often means that only the pastor’s family is eating beanie weenies.

You may think that a man embittered in the ministry is writing this but I actually happen to pastor a wonderful little church. While my situation could be greatly improved if everyone would faithfully tithe (I’ve never seen that in any church), the people at CRC are very supportive and encouraging. I think in many ways, my situation is fairly optimal as a bi-vocational pastor.

What I am saying is…it is going to be HARD, especially as the years roll by and the bi-vocational situation remains. My advice is, KNOW WHAT YOU ARE GETTIN INTO! Discuss these matters with your wife. Lead her and pray that God grant her commitment to this as well as yourself. You are going to need her understanding and support and never forget that she is the most important congregant you need to shepherd. If the burdens become to great for her, it will likely cause you to need to step out of the ministry.

So…my number one bit of practical advice to the bi-vocational pastor, love your wife fervently, and lead her into the joys of Christ. I remain in the ministry today with all of the burdens it has placed upon my family in large part because my wife is supportive and on board with this calling. She is a wonderful, godly Christian woman and no doubt used by God in a powerful way to help me be much more the man than I could ever be without her. On my part, and more than ever as a bi-vocational pastor, I need to lead and encourage her in the faith.

Robert Truelove, Pastor
Christ Reformed Church
www.christreformedchurch.org

 


 

Whither Reformed Baptist? Part Two of Four

In Reformed Baptist Fellowship on January 26, 2015 at 6:53 pm

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In the relatively short span of my lifetime the evangelical world has witnessed a resurgence of the doctrines of grace among Baptist in America and abroad. Among those who adhere to the five points of Calvinism has been a subset of churches who call themselves Particular Baptist, Confessional Baptists, or Reformed Baptist (I sometimes call them capital ‘R’ Reformed to showcase our confessionalism as opposed to “New Covenant Theology” Baptist who sometimes take the moniker reformed Baptist). When I speak of Reformed Baptist I am addressing those churches who hold in principal and in practice substantial agreement with the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith. Over the past 25 years I’ve been pastoring, I have seen the Lord bless our little ‘tribe’. There was a time when I think I knew the name of every Reformed Baptist Church in the US and at least one of their pastors. There have been so many churches planted and so many churches embracing not just Calvinism, but Confessionalism that I can no longer keep up. With these blessings have also come some concerns. I have not only witnessed churches birthed, but churches die. I have seen prominent men fall from their positions of esteem through gross sin. I have seen pockets of division (which I will address in part four of this series) erect walls of suspicion among brethren who ought to walk together. I’ve also seen some questioning the doctrines and practices they once proclaimed with power.

In part one I discussed the issue of leadership and the need to see young men not only raised up with gifts and graces for gospel ministry but also men with the Confessional convictions which have marked Particular Baptists for centuries. In this blog I want to address the issue of second and third generation fatigue. I mean this both doctrinally and practically. Reformed Baptist Churches have not only been marked by doctrinal convictions, but they have been marked, by and large, with a serious practical commitment of churchmanship that was expressed in ways that are increasingly out of step with our contemporary evangelical and even Reformed setting.

This tendency to fatigue over doctrine and practice among a second or third generation is something addressed repeatedly in the scriptures. One generation fights ‘for the land’ and a second generation is raised in the land. The new generation doesn’t remember the war. They don’t bear the scars. They didn’t feel the cost of church planting or even moving so that you could be in a setting where you could worship according to your convictions–it’s all simply been given to them. I see second and third generation Reformed Baptist who have embraced Christ and have, thankfully, been desirous to stay within the ecclesiastical framework of their youth. They want not only to be disciples, but Reformed Baptist. I bless the Lord for this. I also desire to see the fervent conquering, giving, self denying spirit that marked the previous generation grip them as well. Though the foundations may have been laid and the walls built up by their parents and grandparents, there is still land to conquer, enemies to defeat, and advances to seek after. Though I realize that the commitment to all the stated meetings (on the Lord’s Day and gatherings for prayer) and to giving can devolve into legalism, I saw firsthand these commitments embraced with love, zeal, and passion. Will the rising generation embrace both the faith and practices that marked their parents? The zeal that planted churches? The zeal that meant folks turned down promotions for the sake of the church? The zeal that birthed family conferences and various associations of churches?

I close with this question to all who read these words: If everyone in your church had your level of commitment would your church thrive or fold? Or to put it another way, if my folks had my commitment, would this church ever be here in the first place?

Jim Savastio, Pastor
Reformed Baptist Church of Louisville
 
Whither Reformed Baptist (Part 1)
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What God Requires of the Church: Individualism vs. Christ

In Reformed Baptist Fellowship on January 24, 2015 at 7:50 pm

We live in a time when God’s people are often very confused about what the church is and what it is supposed to do. What does it mean to be a devoted church member? What’s the role of the church in my walk with Christ? What should the church be doing? How do we know the answers to these questions? In today’s culture, many Christians have sought to give answers to the questions above based on personal ideals and preferences.

American Individualism and Consumerism

McDonaldsWhen Christians in our culture look for churches, they sometimes ask, “Does this church satisfy the needs of my life and family?,” “Do I feel like I’ve encountered God at this church?,” “Will this church help me achieve my goals?,” “Do I like the people at the church?,” “Does the church’s schedule fit with my personal schedule?,” “Did I feel moved by the worship music?,” and so on. Notice how each of these questions is centered on the individual, not on the Bible, or the community of faith.

Even more inexcusably, church leaders often design church ministries and programs with questions in mind that cater to this same Western individualistic mindset: “Will this program meet the felt needs of the people?,” “Have we successfully avoided things people don’t want?,” “What innovative methods can we design to keep people interested?,” “How many people will be attracted to this ministry?,” “Will this help us attract more people?,” and so on. By asking such questions, church leaders have perpetuated the problem of American individualism. They have fostered the idea that individual preferences should determine what is done in the church of the Lord Jesus Christ, rather than Christ speaking through His Word.

Clearly, many Christians are asking the wrong questions about church. All of the above questions are about what people want, not what God wants. The questions of individualism and American consumerism make people the reigning authority in the church, rather than God Himself. The most important question we should all be asking is “What does God require of His churches in His Word?”

Paul wrote to Timothy in order to teach him what God requires in the church. Paul said, “I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:15, emphasis added). God wants us to consult His Word for answers about how the church is to conduct itself.

Christ’s Authority Over the Church

Morningview-Baptist-Church1The church is not a democracy. It is a monarchy, ruled by the King (Rev 19:16). He divides His rule with no one. “None can stay His hand or say to Him ‘What have you done?’” (Dan 4:35) The Lord Jesus Christ is the church’s Sovereign, and He requires those in His kingdom to submit themselves to His revealed will in the Bible.

Ephesians 1:22-23 says, “And He put all things under [Christ’s] feet and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.”

Philippians 2:9-11 says, “God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Colossians 1:1-17 says, “And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything He might be preeminent.”

This isn’t to say that people’s thoughts and feelings don’t matter. Christ’s good kingdom is also a family. Our thoughts and feelings matter because God is not only a King, but He’s also a Father. God the Father wants to persuade, comfort, and encourage all of His children by His promises of life in Christ. Our Father never runs roughshod over His children. Jesus says, “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32). But the thoughts and feelings of God’s children have no final ruling authority in Christ’s kingdom. Jesus alone is King. The Father alone has final authority. Church members, deacons, and pastors are all Christ’s subjects, bound to obey Him in faith, love, joy, and gratitude. The church, therefore, has no right authoritatively to require things Christ has not commanded or to neglect things that Christ has commanded.

In future posts, we’ll consider some of the things the Lord Jesus Christ clearly teaches the church should do.

Pastor Tom Hicks

Morningview Baptist Church

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A Brief Statement on Divine Impassibility

In Reformed Baptist Fellowship on January 17, 2015 at 6:05 pm

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A standard definition of the doctrine of divine impassibility (DDI) asserts that God does not experience emotional changes either from within or effected by his relationship to creation. He is not changed from within or without; he remains unchanged and unchanging both prior to and subsequent to creation. The doctrine of divine impassibility is generally treated under the doctrine of immutability in the standard books on systematic theology. Immutability means that God is without change. The Scripture is clear on the doctrine of immutability (see Numbers 23:19; 1 Samuel 15:29; Malachi 3:6; James 1:17) and the logic regarding impassibility should be clear: if God is unchangeable, then He is impassible. If God did in fact experience inner emotional changes, He would be mutable. To suggest otherwise would be to affirm that God was less than perfect to begin with: if He changes it is either for the better or for the worse, neither of which is consistent with the biblical data concerning God.

What the Doctrine Does Not Mean

The doctrine of divine impassibility does not mean that God is without affections. The Bible is clear: God is love (1 John 4:8, 16). The Bible consistently teaches that God does relate to His creatures in terms of love, goodness, mercy, kindness, justice and wrath. An affirmation of divine impassibility does not mean a denial of true affections in God. However, these descriptions of God’s character are not to be understood as changing or fluctuating things. For example, the 2 London Confession of Faith of 1677/1689 affirms impassibility (God is “without passions”) and then goes on to describe God as “most holy, most wise, most free, most absolute…most loving, gracious, merciful, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth…” The affirmation of impassibility does not result in removing affections from God; rather, the affirmation of impassibility upholds the fact that God is most loving because He cannot decrease nor increase; He is love! The doctrine of divine impassibility actually stresses the absolute-ness of affections in God.

Objections to the Doctrine

Some modern authors have challenged the classical doctrine of impassibility. While there are several reasons for this, two of the most persuasive ones seem to be (1) the biblical descriptions of change occurring in God and (2) the fact that Jesus Christ suffered.

In the first place, when Scripture speaks of change occurring in God, these passages do not describe actual inner emotional changes in God, but rather these passages are a means whereby God communicates “in the manner of men” so that He can effectively reveal His unchanging character to man. For instance, when Scripture speaks of God “repenting” (Genesis 6:6; Judges 2:18; 10:16; etc.), these are called anthropopathic statements. An anthropopathism is when the biblical author ascribes human emotion to God. While this may be a new word to many, most Christians are familiar with the word anthropomorphism. An anthropomorphism is used by the biblical authors when they ascribe human characteristics to God; i.e. when the Scripture says God has eyes, or a mighty right arm, or that He comes down to dwell on Mount Sinai (2 Chronicles 16:9; Isaiah 62:8; Exodus 19:20). Such descriptions are accommodations to man that are designed to communicate certain truths to man. In the same way, anthropopathisms are not descriptions of actual change in God, but are a means to communicate something concerning the character of the infinite God to man in language designed to be comprehended by man who is limited by his finite capacities.

Secondly, the sufferings that Jesus Christ went through were real. He was despised and rejected by men, He was betrayed by Judas, delivered into the hands of the Romans, and at the request of the unbelieving Jews, He was crucified. It is important to remember that Jesus Christ was unique: He is one glorious Person with two natures, human and divine. Christianity from the New Testament period on always predicated the suffering of Christ to His human nature. In other words, Christ as God did not suffer and die, but Christ as Man. There are not two Christs, but one Christ who has two natures. To confine the suffering and death of Christ to His humanity protects divine impassibility. Conversely, impassibility protects from the notion of a God who suffers and dies.

Conclusion

In conclusion, there is much more that can be said. The goal with this post is simply to provide a basic definition, explanation, and to highlight why the doctrine is essential. It is crucial to understand that it is the doctrine of impassibility that secures God’s relational character to His creatures; it alone provides the foundation for the confession’s declaration that God is “most holy, most wise, most free, most absolute…most loving, gracious, merciful, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth…”

Jim Butler, Pastor
Free Grace Baptist Church of Chilliwack
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Calvin on the Incarnation

In Reformed Baptist Fellowship on December 23, 2014 at 10:30 am

Calvin on the Incarnation

IT deeply concerned us, that he who was to be our Mediator should be very God and very man. If the necessity be inquired into, it was not what is commonly termed simple or absolute, but flowed from the divine decree on which the salvation of man depended. What was best for us, our most merciful Father determined. Our iniquities, like a cloud intervening between Him and us, having utterly alienated us from the kingdom of heaven, none but a person reaching to him could be the medium of restoring peace. But who could thus reach to him? Could any of the sons of Adam? All of them, with their parents, shuddered at the sight of God. Could any of the angels? They had need of a head, by connection with which they might adhere to their God entirely and inseparably. What then? The case was certainly desperate, if the Godhead itself did not descend to us, it being impossible for us to ascend. Thus the Son of God behoved to become our Emmanuel, the God with us; and in such a way, that by mutual union his divinity and our nature might be combined; otherwise, neither was the proximity near enough, nor the affinity strong enough, to give us hope that God would dwell with us; so great was the repugnance between our pollution and the spotless purity of God. Had man remained free from all taint, he was of too humble a condition to penetrate to God without a Mediator. What, then, must it have been, when by fatal ruin he was plunged into death and hell, defiled by so many stains, made loathsome by corruption; in fine, overwhelmed with every curse? It is not without cause, therefore, that Paul, when he would set forth Christ as the Mediator, distinctly declares him to be man. There is, says he, “one Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus,” (1 Tim. 2:5). He might have called him God, or at least, omitting to call him God he might also have omitted to call him man; but because the Spirit, speaking by his mouth, knew our infirmity, he opportunely provides for it by the most appropriate remedy, setting the Son of God familiarly before us as one of ourselves. That no one, therefore, may feel perplexed where to seek the Mediator, or by what means to reach him, the Spirit, by calling him man, reminds us that he is near, nay, contiguous to us, inasmuch as he is our flesh. And, indeed, he intimates the same thing in another place, where he explains at greater length that he is not a high priest who “cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin,” (Heb. 4:15).

John Calvin’s Institutes, Book II, chapter 12, section 1

Back to the good ol’ days? – Thoughts on this world and the means of grace

In Reformed Baptist Fellowship on December 20, 2014 at 11:13 am

Means of Grace

Should believers try to bring back the good ol’ days in order to combat worldliness in our own day and make it easier to live in this world? I do not think there are any good ol’ days to bring back. There are no good ol’ days, except prior to the fall and even those days were not the best of days (Adam could, and did, fall into sin.). The best of days are yet to come. The end is, after all, better than the beginning (and the middle). As bad as our day may appear to be and actually be, in essence, it is the same as always, since the fall into sin.

The hope (i.e., confident expectation of something in the future based on what God has said) of the Christian is that better days, way better, are coming. But there’s more. We do not have to wait for help to come in the form of the eternal state of affairs after Christ’s second coming. There is help in the now. Our Lord Jesus entered into His glory at His resurrection. Human nature in a sinless representative Person was exalted to a status it had never experienced before. The virtue, the power, the glory of Christ becomes Christ’s people’s in installments. We receive some of the benefits of redemption – the forgiveness of sins, justification, adoption, and sanctification – now. We get consummated glory in our own persons when He comes again. In the mean time, grace from our exalted Mediator comes to souls via the means of grace (I am thinking primarily of the Word of God, prayer, baptism and the Lord’s Supper) instituted by God. The means of grace are conduits through which world-to-come blessings are delivered by the Holy Spirit from the exalted, glorified Mediator to elect souls now.

Should believers try to bring back the good ol’ days in order to combat worldliness in our own day and make it easier to live in this world? No. Easy living as a believer now is a myth. So what should we do? On the private level, we should read our Bibles and pray, then obey God in all spheres of life. On the public level, we should go to church (and join one), where the Word of God is sung, read, and preached, prayer is offered, and the sacraments are employed, then obey God in all spheres of life. The grace that comes through the ordained means is able to keep us from being consumed by consumerism, no matter how consumeristic our surroundings might be.  The more grace we have, the more clearly we are able to see the world (and its trappings) for what it is and the more clearly we are able to see that the real problem is within not without. Growth in grace in the midst of this world is a slow but sure (and often painful) process. It is only possible with the due use of means. Our only hope for godly living now is God’s blessing upon the means of grace. The end (i.e., growth in grace) is God’s to give; the means (i.e., the Word of God, prayer, etc.) are ours to use.

In conclusion, 1) there are no good ol’ days, 2) this world (in the Rom. 12:2 and 1 John 2:15-17 sense) is essentially the same in all places and times since the fall into sin, and 3) believers, use the means of grace, praying God’s blessings upon them. In light of this, we urge any unbelievers to believe the good news of the gospel (i.e., that God has provided the way back into His favor through Jesus Christ) and join yourself to a faithful church.

Richard Barcellos

Grace Reformed Baptist Church

Palmdale, CA

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