Edwards: Salvation and the Trinity

“Not only is each person of the trinity concerned [in our redemption], but each person has his distinct part and as it were, sustains a distinct character and charge in that affair…. All the difference between the Father and the other persons as to this matter is that the other two act as under another in what they do. But the Father acts as first and head of all. But yet each one may be said in some sort to susiain a distinct office. Each one has a distinct part to act, [and] stands in a distinct place and capacity and sustains a distinct character in the affair of man’s redemption, and has a distinct care and work that more especially belongs to him rather than to either of the other persons.”

-Jonathan Edwards, Sermons and Discourses, 1743-1758. As recorded by Owen Strachan, Always in God’s Hands: Day by Day in the Company of Jonathan Edwards, 253.

Robertson: Jerusalem and Faith

“It must not be assumed that those who live in Jerusalem today without faith in Jesus have been chosen by God for salvation. Apart from repentance and faith, the inhabitants of Jerusalem continue to be in bondage and are ‘without hope and without God in the world’ (Eph. 2:12). To suggest anything else is to slight Jesus Christ and his sacrifice on the cross, while at the same time imperiling the souls of many by encouraging false presumption.

But there is another Jerusalem, a Jerusalem that is above, from which the enthroned Son of God sends forth his Spirit. Apart from this Jerusalem, none of us would have a mother to bring us into the realm of God’s redemptive work, for she is the mother of us all” (Gal. 4:26). Only those who have been born from above by the outpouring of the Spirit from the throne of Christ, situated in the heavenly Jerusalem, can claim to be citizens in the kingdom of God.”

-O. Palmer Robertson, The Israel of God: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow, 30.

Piper: God is Just to Forgive

“Even though we have sinned and desecrate the glory of God, Jesus has been bruised to repair the injury we have done to God’s glory. The iniquity of us all has been laid on him. This means that when we take refuge in him, we appeal for salvation not on the basis of our track record, which has fallen so short of God’s glory, but on the basis of Jesus’ vindication of the Father’s glory. In this way, even though we are sinners who have dishonored God’s glory, the glory of God becomes the foundation of our appeal—for we are hiding in the one who lived and died and rose again to glorify the passion of God for his name and the mercy of God to save.

This is what the little word just means in 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” This text says God would be unjust (not merely unmerciful) not to forgive us if we confess our sins.

Why is that? Why is forgiveness now a matter of justice and not merely a matter of mercy?

The answer is that Jesus has shed his blood (1 John 1:7) to make a just recompense for all who confess their sins and take refuge in him. Thus God would be unjust not to forgive them, not because they have honored him by their sinless lives, but because they take refuge in the name of Jesus.

The death of Jesus so honored the Father and so vindicated the glory of his name that God is bound by his justice, not just his mercy, to forgive all who stake their lives on the worth of Jesus. “Your sins are forgiven for the sake of his name,” (1 John 2:12).

Christ’s name, and therefore God’s name and God’s honor, is at stake whenever we fly to Jesus for refuge and bank on his worth instead of our own. This is why there is no contradiction in saying that God loves his name above all things, and yet is committed with all his heart to the good of his people—the people who hope in Jesus. He will not turn away from doing good to them. He rejoices in doing this good for them. And—for all who can believe it—he exalts over us with loud singing.”

-John Piper, The Pleasures of God: Meditations on God’s Delight in Being God, 182-183.

Barrett: Propitiation or Expiation in Romans 3:25-26?

“‘Propitiation’ is not [entirely] adequate, for this means that the offender does something to appease the person he has offended, whereas Paul says that God himself put forward Christ. Propitiation is truly there, however, for, through the sacrifice of Christ, God’s wrath is turned away; but behind the propitiation lies the fact that God actually wiped out (expiated) our sin, and made us right with himself.”

-C.K. Barrett, Reading through Romans, 16.

Happy Yom Kippur!

“YHWH said to Moses: ‘Now the tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement. You will have a declared holy day. You shall humble yourselves and offer an oblation to YHWH.’”
(Leviticus 23:26-27)

“But the Messiah has appeared… In the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, He entered the most holy place once for all, not by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood, having obtained eternal redemption…” (Hebrew 9)

“Lord, I believe Thy precious blood,
Which at the mercy-seat of God
Forever doth for sinners plead,
For me–e’en for my soul–was shed.”
-Ludwig von Zinzendorf
(Jesus, Thy Blood And Righteousness)

(Yom Kippur starts at sundown tonight.)

Satan’s Devices to Keep Saints Doubting and Questioning –Part 4

Satan’s Devices to keep saints in a sad, doubting, questioning, and uncomfortable condition. –Part 4

7. By reminding the saint of his frequent relapses into sin formerly repented of and prayed against:

For remedies, consider that

A. Many scriptures show that such relapses have troubled saints
B. God nowhere promises that such relapses will not happen
C. The most renowned of glorified saints have, on earth, experienced such relapses
D. Relapses into enormities must be distinguished from relapses into infirmities
E. Involuntary and voluntary relapses must be distinguished
F. No experience of the soul, however deep or high, can in itself secure the soul against relapses

8. By persuading saints that their state is not good nor their graces sound :

For remedies, consider that

A. The best of Christians have been most tempted by Satan
B. All the saints temptations are sanctified to them by a hand of love
C. Temptations cannot harm the saints as long as they are resisted by them

-Thomas Brooks, Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices, 1652.

A Debtor to Mercy Alone

A debtor to mercy alone,
Of covenant mercy I sing;
Nor fear, with thy righteousness on,
My person and off’ring to bring.
The terrors of law and of God
With me can have nothing to do;
My Saviour’s obedience and blood
Hide all my transgressions from view.

The work which his goodness began,
The arm of his strength will complete;
His promise is Yea and Amen,
And never was forfeited yet.
Things future, nor things that are now,
Nor all things below or above,
Can make him his purpose forgo,
Or sever my soul from his love.

My name from the palms of his hands
Eternity will not erase;
Impressed on his heart it remains,
In marks of indelible grace.
Yes, I to the end shall endure,
As sure as the earnest is giv’n;
More happy, but not more secure,
The glorified spirits in heav’n.

-Augustus Toplady

Fountain of Never Ceasing Grace

Fountain of never ceasing grace,
Thy saints’ exhaustless theme,
Great object of immortal praise,
Essentially supreme;
We bless Thee for the glorious fruits
Thine incarnation gives;
The righteousness which grace imputes,
And faith alone receives.

Whom heaven’s angelic host adores,
Was slaughtered for our sin;
The guilt, O Lord was wholly ours,
The punishment was Thine:
Our God in the flesh, to set us free,
Was manifested here;
And meekly bare our sins, that we
His righteousness might wear.

Imputatively guilty then
Our substitute was made,
That we the blessings might obtain
For which His blood was shed:
Himself He offered on the cross,
Our sorrows to remove;
And all He suffered was for us,
And all He did was love.

In Him we have a righteousness,
By God Himself approved;
Our rock, our sure foundation this,
Which never can be moved.
Our ransom by His death He paid,
For all His people giv’n,
The law He perfectly obeyed,
That they might enter Heav’n.

As all, when Adam sinned alone,
In his transgression died,
So by the righteousness of One,
Are sinners justified,
We to Thy merit, gracious Lord,
With humblest joy submit,
Again to Paradise restored,
In Thee alone complete.

Our souls His watchful love retrieves,
Nor lets them go astray,
His righteousness to us He gives,
And takes our sins away:
We claim salvation in His right,
Adopted and forgiv’n,
His merit is our robe of light,
His death the gate of Heav’n.

-Augustus Toplady, 1774

1 Timothy 2:4 and Free Will

 by John Piper

“…Some people read into 1 Timothy 2:4 (God “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth”) the necessity of free will as an explanation for why all are not saved.

…This is not owing to anything in the text, but to a philosophical presupposition brought to the text. The presupposition is that, if God will in one sense for all to be saved, then he cannot will in another sense that only some will be saved.

In fact, the wider context of the Pastoral Epistles points away from free will as a solution.

Paul uses the very language of 1 Timothy 2:4 again in 2 Timothy 2:24-26: “And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.”

“…Paul here is explaining why some do not “come to the knowledge of the truth.” The ultimate or decisive answer is that God himself may or may not “grant … repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth.”

-John Piper, Does God Desire All to Be Saved? (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2013), 40-41.

What Keeps God from Saving All People?

If God desires all to be saved, what keeps Him from saving whom He desires to save? If God genuinely desires for all to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4), why doesn’t God save all people?

John Piper gives an answer:

“[The answer] can be illustrated … by reflecting … on 1 Timothy 2:4, where Paul says that God “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” What are we to say of the fact that God desires something that in fact does not happen?

There are two possibilities, as far as I can see.

1. One possibility is that there is a power in the universe greater that God’s, which is frustrating him by overruling what he desires.

Neither the Reformed nor the Arminians affirms this.

2. The other possibility is that God wills not to save all, even though he “desires” that all be saved, because there is something else that he wills or desires more, which would be lost if he exerted his sovereign power to save all.

This is the solution that I, as Reformed, affirm along with Arminians. In other words, both the Reformed and the Arminians affirm two wills in God when they ponder deeply over 1 Timothy 2:4…. Both can say that God wills for all to be saved. And when queried why all are not saved, both the Reformed and the Arminians answer the same: because God is committed to something even more valuable than saving all.

The difference between the Reformed and the Arminians lies not in whether there are two wills in God, but in what they say this higher commitment is.

What does God will more than saving all?

1. The answer the Arminians give is that human self-determination and the possible resulting love relationship with God are more valuable than saving all people by sovereign, efficacious grace.

2. The answer the Reformed give is that the greater value is the manifestation of the full range of god’s glory in wrath and mercy (Rom. 9:22-23) and the humbling of man so that he enjoys giving all credit to God for his salvation (1 Cor. 1:29).”

-John Piper, Does God Desire All to Be Saved? (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2013), 38-39.