The True Knowledge of Christ

John CalvinJohn Calvin:

None have intercourse with Christ but those who have acquired the true knowledge of him from the Gospel. The Apostle denies that any man truly has learned Christ who has not learned to put off “the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and put on Christ,” (Eph. iv. 22.) They are convicted, therefore, of falsely and unjustly pretending a knowledge of Christ, whatever be the volubility and eloquence with which they can talk of the Gospel. Doctrine is not an affair of the tongue, but of the life; is not apprehended by the intellect and memory merely, like other branches of learning; but is received only when it possesses the whole soul, and finds its seat and habitation in the inmost recesses of the heart. Let them, therefore, either cease to insult God, by boasting that they are what they are not, or let them show themselves not unworthy disciples of their divine Master. To doctrine in which our religion is contained we have given the first place, since by it our salvation commences; but it must be transfused into the breast, and pass into the conduct, and so transform us into itself, as not to prove unfruitful. If philosophers are justly offended, and banish from their company with disgrace those who, while professing an art which ought to be the mistress of their conduct, convert it into mere loquacious sophistry, with how much better reason shall we detest those flimsy sophists who are contented to let the Gospel play upon their lips, when, from its efficacy, it ought to penetrate the inmost affections of the heart, fix its seat in the soul, and pervade the whole man a hundred times more than the frigid discourses of philosophers? (On the Christian Life)

He Chose Us to be Holy

Holiness“May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness,” (2 Peter 1:2-8 ESV)

God is calling to Himself a holy people. Those whom He chooses receive His very great and precious promises. Election is the only way by which we escape the corruption of this world. God’s glory is displayed by enabling those whom He calls to live a life of holiness. The chosen are called to live a virtuous life. God has decreed that without holiness no man shall see God. The elect of God are chosen to be holy. God does not choose a man because he is holy. Holiness is the result of being chosen by God. God’s only motive in election is His own glory and excellence. There is nothing in us – left to ourselves – that merits our salvation. “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (Romans 3:10-18 ESV) Continue reading

Jesus Had a Human Body

Making Sense of Christ and the SpiritWayne Grudem:

The fact that Jesus had a human body just like our human bodies is seen in many passages of Scripture. He was born just as all human babies are born (Luke 2:7). He grew through childhood to adulthood just as other children grow: “And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him” (Luke 2:40). Moreover, Luke tells us that “Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52).

Jesus became tired just as we do, for we read that “Jesus, wearied as he was with his journey, sat down beside the well” in Samaria (John 4:6). He became thirsty, for when he was on the cross he said, “I thirst” (John 19:28). After he had fasted for forty days in the wilderness, we read that “he was hungry” (Matt. 4:2). He was at times physically weak, for during his temptation in the wilderness he fasted for forty days (the point at which a human being’s physical strength is almost entirely gone and beyond which irreparable physical harm will occur if the fast continues). At that time “angels came and ministered to him” (Matt. 4:11), apparently to care for him and provide nourishment until he regained enough strength to come out of the wilderness. When Jesus was on his way to be crucified, the soldiers forced Simon of Cyrene to carry his cross (Luke 23:26), most likely because Jesus was so weak following the beating he had received that he did not have strength enough to carry it himself. The culmination of Jesus’ limitations in terms of his human body is seen when he died on the cross (Luke 23:46). His human body ceased to have life in it and ceased to function, just as ours does when we die.

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Acquitted

J. C. RyleJ. C. Ryle:

I remember reading a story in ancient history which may help to illustrate the truth on which I am now dwelling. It is the story of one who was put upon trial for a capital charge, at Athens, shortly after the great battle of Marathon. In that famous battle the Athenians had preserved, by their valour, liberty for their little state, against the mighty hosts of the Persians; and among those who had distinguished themselves greatly, the brother of the prisoner was one; and had been sorely wounded in the fight. The man was put upon his trial. The evidence against him was strong and unanswerable; there seemed no chance of the prisoner escaping condemnation. Suddenly there came forward one who asked to be heard on his behalf. And who was this? It was his own brother. When he was asked what evidence he had to give, or what reason he had to show why the prisoner at the bar ought not to be found guilty, he simply lifted up his mutilated arms–nothing but stumps–the hands completely cut off; the wounded stumps alone remaining. He was recognised as a man who, at the battle of Marathon, had done prodigies of valour, and in the service of the State had lost his hands. By those wounds he had helped to win the victory which was then ringing in Athenian ears. Those wounds were the only evidence he brought forward. Those wounds were the only plea he advanced why his brother ought to be set free, and sentence ought not to be passed upon him. And the story states that for the sake of those wounds–for the sake of all his brother had suffered, the prisoner was acquitted. The case was dismissed at once, and the prisoner obtained his liberty. Reader, in like manner the wounds of the Lord Jesus Christ are ever before God the Father. The nail-prints in His hands and feet–the marks of the spear in His side–the thorn marks upon His forehead–the marks of all that he suffered as a lamb slain, are ever before God the Father in heaven. While Christ is in heaven, the believer’s sins will never rise in judgment against him. Think not with fear upon those old sins of yours, my believing brother or sister. Christ lives, and those old sins will not condemn you. We have an ever-living, ever-interceding Priest. Christ is not dead, but alive.

Help From Without

Charles H. SpurgeonCharles H. Spurgeon:

“Yea, I will help thee” (Isaiah 41:10)

The Lord says, “I will help thee.” Strength within is supplemented by help without. God can raise us up allies in our warfare if so it seems good in His sight; and even if He does not send us human assistance, He himself will be at our side, and this is better still. “Our August Ally” is better than legions of mortal helpers.

His help is timely: He is a very present help in time of trouble. His help is very wise: He knows how to give each man help meet and fit for him. His help is most effectual, though vain is the help of man. His help is more than help, for He bears all the burden, and supplies all the need. “The Lord is my helper, I will not fear what man can do unto me. Because He has already been our help, we feel confidence in Him for the present and the future. Our prayer is, “Lord, be thou my helper”; our experience is, “The Spirit also helpeth our infirmities; our expectation is, “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, whence cometh my help”; and our song soon will be, “Thou, Lord, hast holpen me.”

Consolation to Sustain and Cheer Us

Bishop J. C. RyleJ. C. Ryle:

Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7:25)

We need much comfort and consolation in a world like this. It is no easy matter for a man to carry the cross and reach heaven. There are many enemies to be encountered and overcome. We have often to stand alone. We have at the best times few with us and many against us. We need cordials and strong consolation to sustain and cheer us, and to preserve us from fainting on the way as we travel from Egypt into Canaan.

The Apostle appears deeply conscious of all this in the words he uses. He says, “He is able to save to the uttermost,”–to save perfectly, to save completely, to save technically,–”all that come unto God by Him, because He ever liveth to make intercession for them.” Christ is able to save to the uttermost, notwithstanding the old sins of any believer. Those old sins shall never rise again, not stand up to condemn the child of God. For what says the Scripture: “Christ has not entered into the holy place made with hands, but into heaven itself; to appear in the presence of God for us.” (Heb. ix. 24.) Christ, to use a legal phrase, is ever making an appearance in the court of heaven on behalf of them that believe in Him. There is not a year, nor a month, nor a day, nor an hour, nor a minute, but there is One living in the presence of God, to make an appearance there on behalf of all the saints. Christ is ever appearing before God the Father on behalf of the men and women that believe in Him. His blood and His sacrifice are ever in God’s sight. His work, His death, His intercession are always sounding in God the Father’s ears. (“Able to Save”)

The Center of the Bible

Feed My SheepSinclair B. Ferguson:

There is a center to the Bible and its message of grace. It is found in Jesus Christ crucified and resurrected. Grace must therefore be preached in a way that is centered and focused on Jesus Christ Himself, never offering the benefits of the gospel without the Benefactor Himself. (Feed My Sheep, Soli Deo Gloria Ministries, 2002)

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