Friday, October 25, 2013

Applications of the Truth that the Just Shall Live by Faith, part 5--“The just shall live by faith”— A Study of the Relationship of Faith to Salvation in its Justifying, Sanctifying, and Glorifying Fulness, part 28

4.) Behold in the Word the glory of God in Christ.

            a.) Behold the glory of Jesus Christ as the eternal Son of God.  He has existed from eternity with His Father, rejoicing always before Him, participating in the ineffable communion of love and delight of the three Persons in the undivided Trinity.  Before the beginning, now, and to all eternity, He possesses in full the undivided Divine essence.  He is God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, eternally begotten of the Father.  His throne, as God, is for ever and ever, and the scepter of His kingdom is a righteous sceptre.  He is the I AM, who was, and is, and is to come, the Almighty.  He is self-existent, immeasurable, and eternal. He is the Creator and Sovereign of the Universe—all things were made by Him, all things consist by Him, and all things are of Him, through Him, and unto Him.  He fully possesses the infinite Divine glory, and will receive, with His Father and the Holy Spirit, the worship and adoration of the entire redeemed creation, for ever and ever.

            b.) Behold the glory of Jesus Christ in His Mediatorial office.  Behold, in the eternal counsel of peace, the Father giving the elect to the Son, the Son agreeing to redeem them, and the Spirit determining to regenerate them.  Behold, and wonder at the mystery of godliness: God manifest in the flesh.  See the condescension of the Father’s express Image tabernacling among men, He who was always consubstantial with the Father as to His Godhead becoming consubstantial with humanity as to His manhood, uniting in His one Person the Divine nature and a true human nature.  Behold the eternal Word conceived in the womb of Mary, being born in a manger.  See the fulness of the Godhead embodied in a true Child who grew in wisdom and stature, and favor with God and man.  Behold Him in His human identification with the sinful and extremely needy race He came to redeem.  See Him growing weary with a journey, and sitting on Jacob’s well to rest.  See Him weeping at the grave of Lazarus—and raising his beloved friend from the dead.  See His tender friendship with the Apostle John, the disciple whom Jesus loved.  See Him sorrowful and very heavy in light of His coming cross, agonizing in prayer to the Father, betrayed by a familiar friend and deserted and denied by the rest.  See Him unjustly condemned, mocked, spat upon, whipped, and crucified.  See Him saving the soul and bringing to Paradise the repentant thief crucified next to Him.  See Him bearing the sins of the world in His body, perfectly satisfying the demands of Divine justice through His one offering.  See Him rising from the dead and so destroying the power of death, and ascending to the right hand of His Father, being crowned with glory and honor, and having all power in heaven and earth given into His hand.  See Him interceding for His people as their Priest and Advocate, and by His omnipotent power preserving every one of them to everlasting glory.  See Him, with the Father, sending the Holy Spirit, reflecting the Spirit’s eternal procession from the Father and the Son in His temporal mission to indwell the church.  See the union His elect have with Him in His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension.  See Him completing the work of His humiliation, and uniting to His immutable Divine perfections the human perfections that make Him the perfect and all-sufficient Savior of all who will come to Him.  See Him ruling over the church in the world, preparing mansions for His beloved people, and coming again to bring them to Himself.  See Him sitting on the throne of David and manifesting the righteous rule of God over the earth in the Millenial kingdom.  See Him as the Light of the New Jerusalem, and His people singing the praises of redeeming love and serving Him before the throne of God and the Lamb for ever and ever.  See Christ’s glory in John’s Gospel as the bread of life, the light of the world, the door to eternal life, the good shepherd who gives His life for the sheep, the resurrection and the life, the way, the truth, and the life, and the true vine, the source of all grace, the font of spiritual and eternal life for all those brought into union with Him.  See the glory of the Lord Jesus in all Scripture, in type and in antitype, in promise and in fulfillment, and embrace Him, cleave to Him ever the more in all that He is and in all that He does.  The glory of God in Christ is an inexhaustible theme, the delight and glory of the saints to all eternity.  A few lines of application certainly cannot even begin to compass it in its beauty and glory.[1]  Oh Christian, set in motion the work of eternity now—through the Scripture, behold the glory of God in Christ!  In so doing, He will reveal Himself to you, you will partake in ever greater levels of spiritual life, and you will be transformed into the moral likeness of your incarnate Head.

5.) Consider also that the more true intellectual and experiential knowledge of God in Christ the Christian has, the more he longs for more such knowledge, and the more he hates his fleshly feebleness in seeking after it.  Does your heart and flesh, all the faculties of your who renewed person, cry out for God, the living God, as your own God?  What an awful evil is this faintness, this feebleness, is seeking after God your Father, His Son, and His Spirit?  How does believing meditation on Gethsemane, and on the cross, affect the heart!  For seeing the Lord Jesus in His glory enflames the believer’s soul with love for Him, with true sanctification as a result.  And yet the disciples failed to watch and pray, but slept while the Lord wept His infinitely precious tears of blood, and forsook the Lord when He went to the cross.  How often do I follow their faithless and criminal example, and fail to draw nigh to the Lord when He has come nigh to me?  My God, oh for grace to love and know Thee more!

6.) Consider the great privilege believers, and in particular ministers have, in proclaiming the mystery of God in Christ.  Oh Christian, you have the privilege and the duty to give the gospel to the unconverted, and to set forth the Lord Jesus before believers in all His glory and grace to stir up their holy affections for Him.  How much time do you spend proclaiming the gospel?  How many doors have you knocked on this week?  Is not Jesus Christ worthy of being known by all men?  Furthermore, Hebrews 10:24-25 commands you to provoke others in the church to love and to good works.  How better to do this than to set God in Christ before them?  Do you talk of your Father, and of His Son your Redeemer, on the Lord’s Day?  “Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not”  (Malachi 3:16-18).

Furthermore, pastor, evangelist, and Christian preacher, you have the privilege and duty of setting forth the most stupendous of all truths in the proclamation of the Triune God and the incarnate, crucified, and risen Christ.  Am I to proclaim the “mystery of godliness, God manifest in the flesh”?  Who is sufficient for these things?  Employ the great privileges that God has given you and set forth the truth, and all the truth, with nothing added or taken away, with holy boldness and passion, and with holy fear and trembling over the fact that the Lord has chosen and commanded you so to do.  Earnestly contend for the faith, that nothing whatever of the glory of God revealed in Christ through the Scriptures, and committed to you for bold and public proclamation everywhere to all men, be lost.

7.) Do not turn aside from the full proclamation of God in Christ, as set forth from Genesis to Revelation, to any other and lesser message.  Do not turn from Christ to a merely “practical” message or mere moralism.  Doubtless the people of God must, and will, adorn their knowledge of God with good works.  Indeed, the greater their true spiritual fellowship with Christ, the greater will be their outward manifestations of practical holiness.  However, to take knowledge of the Lord Jesus away to focus exclusively upon what is “practical” is to rip out the soul from true religion and leave a lifeless corpse.  Any “piety” that does not lead men to behold, believe on, receive, and know Jesus Christ is false, fleshly, and devilish.

            What is more, as you strive against specific sins, do not let the Lord Jesus be removed from your view.  It is certainly proper to set yourself mightily against particular lusts and products of the old man and to strive to utterly put to death specific manifestations of indwelling sin (Romans 8:13; Colossians 3:5).  But do not remove the glory of God in Christ from its central place in your heart and mind.  Sweet fellowship with Him causes the vain allurements of sin to quickly fade.  Yes, your specific sins are awful, and a terrible problem—fight them with all your might.  But make sure that in your warfare you have the Captain of the hosts of the Lord with you—without Him you can do nothing.  Closer communion with Christ will end many a seemingly intractable battle with besetting sins.

            Also, you should expect God’s blessing to the conversion of sinners and the spiritual strengthening of saints when Christ is preached and plainly set forth.  Proper preaching of the Lord Jesus will have supernatural efficacy to produce spiritual results, while the employment of humanly devised marketing or salesmanship techniques will only detract from a real focus on the revealed glory of God in the incarnate Redeemer.  What is the chaff to the wheat?

            Indeed, in the instituted services of the church the worship of the Triune God through Christ must not be removed from its proper central place.  Since God’s own instituted worship is the best means of His own revelation, the Regulative Principle of worship must be consistently practiced.  What is more, in whatever music is employed, not only must all fleshly sounds be rejected, but even proper melody and harmony must not be allowed to overshadow the spiritual worship of God.  He must always remain the focus—let not the elements of worship, and especially the circumstances, attract attention to themselves and become ends to themselves.


This is the last part of the study on “the just shall live by faith.”  The entire study is available and can be downloaded as a single file here.

[1]           For what is arguably the preeminent treatment of this theme, see CRISTOLOGIA: or, a Declaration of the Glorious Mystery of the Person of Christ, and Meditations and Discourses on the Glory of Christ, in His Person, Office, and Grace:  With the Differences Between Faith and Sight:  Applied unto the Use of Them that Believe & Applied unto Unconverted Sinners and Saints Under Spiritual Decays, by John Owen.

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