Of the Nature of Christ’s Mediation – John Flavel

jflfavelaHere’s another gem from John Flavel’s The Fountain of Life (you can download the entire book in pdf format here):

It implies, a necessity of satisfaction and reparation to the justice of God. For the very design and end of this mediation was to make peace, by giving full satisfaction to the party that was wronged. The Photinians, and some others, have dreamed of a reconciliation with God, founded not upon satisfaction, but upon the absolute mercy, goodness, and free-will of God.

“But concerning that absolute goodness and mercy of God, reconciling sinners to himself, there is a deep silence throughout the scriptures:” and whatever is spoken of it,upon that account, is as it works to us through Christ, Eph. 1: 3, 4, 5.Acts 4: 12. John 6: 40. And we cannot imagine, either how God could exercise mercy to the prejudice of his justice,which must be, if we must be reconciled without full satisfaction; or how such a full satisfaction should be made by any other than Christ. Mercy, indeed moved in the heart of God to poor man; but from his heart it found no way to vent itself for us, but through the heart blood of Jesus Christ: and in him the justice of God was fully satisfied, and the misery of the creature fully cured.

And so, as Augustine speaks, “God neither lost the severity of his justice in the goodness of mercy, nor the goodness of his mercy in the exactness of his severity.” But if it had been possible God could have found out a way to reconcile us without satisfaction, yet it is past doubt now, that he has pitched and fixed on this way. And for any now to imagine to reconcile themselves to God by any thing but faith in the blood of this mediator, is not only most vain in itself, and destructive to the soul, but most insolently derogatory to the wisdom and grace of God.

And to such I would say, as Tertullian to Marcion, whom he calls the murderer of truth,“spare the only hope of the whole world, O thou who destroyest the most necessary glory of our faith!” All that we hope for is but a fantasy without this.

Peace of conscience can be rationally settled on no other foundation but this; for God having made a law to govern man, and this law violated by man; either the penalty must be levied on the delinquent, or satisfaction made by his surety. As good no law, as no penalty for disobedience; and as good no penalty, as no execution.

He therefore that will be made a mediator of reconciliation betwixt God and man, must bring God a price in His hand, and that adequate to the offence and wrongs done him, else he will not treat about peace; and so did our Mediator.

-The Fountain of Life, PDF version p.81.

The Lamb is All the Glory

Our church has been working through Romans 5 and it has reminded me of just how merciful God has been to me. My hope has been strengthened. My soul has been encouraged. And I have grown a new affection for an old hymn titled “The Sands of Time are Sinking.” Here are my favorite portions of it.

That’s all :)

-h.

The sands of time are sinking, the dawn of Heaven breaks;
The summer morn I’ve sighed for—the fair, sweet morn awakes:
Dark, dark hath been the midnight, but dayspring is at hand,
And glory, glory dwelleth in Immanuel’s land.

O Christ, He is the fountain, the deep, sweet well of love!
The streams of earth I’ve tasted more deep I’ll drink above:
There to an ocean fullness His mercy doth expand,
And glory, glory dwelleth in Immanuel’s land.

The King there in His beauty, without a veil is seen:
It were a well spent journey, though seven deaths lay between:
The Lamb with His fair army, doth on Mount Zion stand,
And glory—glory dwelleth in Immanuel’s land.

The Bride eyes not her garment, but her dear Bridegroom’s face;

I will not gaze at glory but on my King of grace.

Not at the crown He giveth but on His pierced hand;
The Lamb is all the glory of Immanuel’s land.

Spurgeon on Philippians 1:6

spurjI had the honor of preaching on Philippians 1:6 today. As soon as the sermon is posted on my church’s website, I’ll provide a link for any who are interested in listening. Until then, here is Spurgeon on the same text.

There is a world of argument in the quiet words which the Apostle uses. He is confident, knowing what he does of the Character of God, that He who
has begun a good work in His saints will perform it until the day of Christ.
[...]
Notice the time mentioned in the text—the good work is to be perfected in the day of Christ, by which we suppose is intended the Second Coming of our Lord. The Christian will not be perfected until the Lord Christ shall descend from Heaven with a shout, with the trumpet of the archangel, and the Voice of God.

That day of the Second Coming is set as the day of the finished work which God has begun, when without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, body, soul, and spirit, shall see the face of God with acceptance, and forever and ever rejoice in the pleasures which are at God’s right hand. This is what we are looking forward to—that God who taught us to repent will wholly Sanctify us; that He who made the briny tears to flow, will wipe every tear from that same eye; that He who made us gird ourselves with the sackcloth and the ashes of penitence, will yet gird us with the fair white linen which is the righteousness of the saints! He who brought us to the Cross will bring us to the crown! He who made us look upon Him whom we pierced, and mourn because of Him, will cause us to see the King in His beauty, and the land that is very far off. The same dear hand that struck, and afterwards healed, will in the latter days caress us! He who looked upon us when we were dead in

sin, and called us into Spiritual Life, will continue to regard us with favor till our life shall be consummated in the land where there is no more death, sorrow, nor sighing! Such is the Truth of God which the text evidently teaches us.
Amen!
-h.

Christ Typified in Genesis 35:1-4

tree-light[Read: Genesis 35:1-4]

In Genesis 35:1-4, Jacob is commanded by God to “arise, go up to Bethel, and dwell there. Make an altar there to God…”(v.1) Before doing this, however, Jacob commands two groups of people to repent, purify themselves, and change their garments. The typology here becomes plain when we read that “Jacob hid [their idols and earrings] under the terebinth tree…” (v.4b), for it is Jacob who puts away their sin (i.e., their idols and earrings) by hiding them under a tree. And while it is true that Jacob is addressing one collective body of people, nevertheless the Holy Spirit identifies two groups of which it is composed, viz. (a.)Jacob’s household and (b.)all who were with him. More to the point, we see that it is not just his blood relatives whose sin he puts away under this tree, but all who were with him (most likely a reference to his servants who were, likely, ethnically mixed).

As we delve into this pericope, we will see the richness of this typology. Here is a brief summary: Jacob is a type of Christ, who preaches repentance, the putting on of His righteousness as a garment, and who then accomplishes this for (a.)Jews (i.e. Members of His genetic household) and (b.)Gentiles (i.e. All other peoples who turn at His rebuke and promise of eternal life), who uses a tree as the instrument of putting away their sins, and who then brings His people (i.e. Jews and Gentiles) to the House of God (i.e. Bethel). As each element of this type can be further fleshed out, let us look at these elements more closely.

The Two Callings

The text begins with God’s command to Jacob to return to Bethel, the house of God. As this contextualizes what follows, therefore, Jacob’s actions are only properly understood in the context of God’s command to him; he is preparing his people to return to the house of God, Bethel. This leads to the second calling; Jacob calls his people to put away their idols, to purify themselves, and to change their garments. Jacob’s people is a group that consists of (a.)Jewish and (b.)Gentile idolaters. This is a sin that is not limited to the worship of figurines and statues made of precious metals and stones, but which is also identified by Paul as covetousness in Colossians 3:5-11. The context of Paul’s epistle, significantly, speaks of putting on “the new man which is being renewed after the image of its Creator” (v.10), echoing Jacob’s command to his people to “change [their] garments,” and states emphatically that “here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all,” echoing the unity of Jacob’s genetic family and gentile servants who were included in his call to repentance.

Jacob, like Christ, calls his people to repentance, forgiveness (i.e., purity), and a change of garments (i.e., putting on the righteousness of God). His people, like Christ’s church, consists of men, women, children, slaves, freemen, Jews and Gentiles; yet these people are equal in the sight of God, who knows them all as idolaters in need of repentance and forgiveness if they are to stand in His holy presence, in His house, as accepted worshipers. Incidentally, it is also interesting to note that just prior to Jacob’s call to return to Bethel, his sons had circumcised and, subsequently, slaughtered the gentiles who defiled their sister, Dinah. Paul’s emphasis on the unity of all believers, like Jacob’s calling all of his people to repent and be forgiven, does away with the external conflict between Jew and Gentile, turning judgment inwardly, instead, and revealing that God is not a respecter of persons: All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. The Shechemites did, in fact, sin against God and the Israelites by raping Dinah; however, the Israelites and gentiles in Jacob’s home had committed the greater sin of idolatry. Therefore, before even the Jew enters Bethel, the house of God, he must repent, be forgiven, and be given the garments appropriate to sitting and worshiping God in His house (cf., Matt 22:1-14).

Redemption Accomplished

Jacob’s call, as a foreshadowing of Christ’s call to all men to repent and believe the Gospel, is followed by his work of putting away the idolatry of his people, even as Christ’s preaching is followed by His redemptive work, in which, as Peter states, “He…bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness” (1st Peter 2:24). Jacob hid the sins of his people, i.e. the idols, under a tree, foreshadowing the fact that Christ canceled “the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This He set aside, nailing it to the cross” (Col 1:14), the “tree” upon which He became a curse for us (cf. Gal 3:13-14), even as Jacob became a curse for his people just prior to putting away their sin (cf. Gen 34:30). Note that in Galatians 3:13-14, moreover, Christ’s becoming a curse for His people is accomplished “so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles…”

Thus, the whole of Jacob’s people, Jew and Gentile, are united not only in their idolatry, but also in their sin being dealt with by God’s chosen servant through the instrumental use of a tree. Likewise, Christ’s people, Jew and Gentile, are united not only in their idolatry, but also in their sin being dealt with by God’s chosen Servant though the instrumental use of a tree, the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. And again, note that Jacob, because of the sin of his children, became an accursed enemy to the Shechemites; likewise, Christ became a curse for us, as Paul notes.

Conclusion

Jacob is a type of our Lord Jesus Christ, and this means that there are also difference between his work and Christ’s. Jacob is an imperfect, sinful, shadowy picture of our perfect, sinless, and perspicuous Lord of Glory. Whereas Jacob’s becoming a curse did not end in his destruction, as he thought it would, Christ’s becoming a curse for us did end in His being crushed by God and, therefore, suffering the destruction due to us. Similarly, whereas Jacob’s tree hid the sin of his people, Christ’s tree is where our sin is put on display, even as Christ’s blood covers it. Lastly, whereas Jacob’s people changed physical clothing that time dissolved, and they travelled to a temporary place of worship called the house of God, we have been clothed with the eternal righteousness of Jesus Christ, garments which nothing can dissolve or sully, and we will spend eternity in the presence of our blessed Savior, unhindered by sin, death, and the devil – no longer sojourners on this earth, but residents of the New Jerusalem.

Amen!

-h.