Theological Tuesday

Our term today is redemption. The word is derived from a Latin root meaning “to buy back,” thus meaning the liberation of any possession, object, or person, usually by payment of a ransom. In Greek the root word means “to loose” and so to free. The term is used of freeing from chains, slavery, or prison. In the theological context, the term “redemption” indicates a freeing from the slavery of sin, the ransom or price paid for freedom.
In the OT the object of God’s redemption is generally the people as a whole, or nation, rather than individuals. We see examples of this in Deuteronomy 15, and Exodus 6.
Christians believe that in Jesus we see the fulfillment of the OT redemptive concept. He was the substitutionary sacrifice for us on the cross. He was the sin offering(Romans 3). Redemption is by the giving of his life (Acts 20:28) for a purchased people (1 Pt 2:9; also 1 Cor 7:22–24; 2 Cor 5:14–17).
In other words, He was given as an atonement for our sin. He accomplished this by being born and living perfectly under the law, so that He would be the perfect sacrifice for us. His death, and our redemption, could not have happened unless He had first lived perfectly under the whole law. In this way, He was able to redeem His people.

Trouble in Bakersfield

There is a really interesting and relevant post by Bob McKelvey at Meet the Puritans. He picks up on an editorial(linked in the post) by Carl Trueman about a friend of his who lost his position on a school board. McKelvey then makes an analogy to John Bunyan’s arrest in the sixteen hundreds. It is a wonderful post, and one you should read and consider.

Theology Tuesday

The term this week is justification. It is a foundational term in the christian faith, and therefore the best place to begin our series.

The word itself is a legal term that comes from the Greek word “dikaioo”, meaning ‘to acquit’, or ‘declare righteous’. Here we find the answer to the question how can sinful man be found right with God.

The word “justification” appears only a few times in the Bible. Usually we see the word, justified, or justify. Here are two well know verses in Scripture(ESV):

Galatians 2:15–16:

We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners;
yet we know that a person is not justified by works of
the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have
believed in Christ Jesus,in order to be justified by faith
in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works
of the law no one will be justified.
Romans 5:1:

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith,
we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Justification brings us into relationship with Christ. The key is understanding that it only comes by faith in Christ. There are many who believe in a justification by works. This is also known as a “works righteousness”. Works righteousness teaches you must earn your own righteousness in order to be justified, or declared righteous by God.

The Bible is clear throughout that we can only be declared righteous by our faith in Christ. And, most importantly, this righteousness is an external righteousness that comes from Jesus. Justification is by faith and grace alone.

And it is because of Christ’s sacrifice for His elect on the cross, as we see in 2 Corinthians 5:21:

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin,
so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Even Abram, in Genesis 15 believed and was counted righteous. God’s grace to His children is shown throughout all of scripture, and we are recipients of that grace.

Read Old Books

old books

 

The language is too archaic. They talk funny. It doesn’t make sense today. It’s not for me. Just like history being forgotten, people do not read old books as much anymore. And they are missing so much. Old books, well written books, remind us of a time and place when God was honored, and men feared their sin.
Whether the Puritans in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, or Spurgeon and Hodge in the nineteenth century, the content of the books was focused on God, and our relationship to Him. We need books that remind us of the tragedy of sin, and, as R. C. Sproul states, the cosmic treason that is sin. We do not look on sin as those who went before us did. We do not weep and lament at our purposeful separation from a God who calls us to himself. The church today is disconnected from the church of a hundred, two hundred, five hundred years ago, and we are suffering because of it. We need to learn biblical repentance that was taught and practiced for hundreds of years. Charles Spurgeon said this in the late nineteenth century,
Repentance may be and is a change of mind; but what a change it is! It is not an unimportant change of mind such as you may have concerning whether you will take your holiday this week or the next, or about some trifling matter of domestic interest; but it is a change of the whole heart, of the love, of the hate, of the judgment, and the view of things taken by the individual whose mind is thus changed.

It is a deep, radical, fundamental, lasting change; and you will find that, whenever you meet with it in Scripture, it is always accompanied with sorrow for past sin. And rest you assured of this fact, that the repentance which has no tears in its eye and no mourning for sin in its heart, is a repentance which needs to be repented of, for there is in it no evidence of conversion, no sign of the existence of the grace of God.[^1]

“A deep, radical, fundamental, lasting change…accompanied with sorrow. Were individual christians and the church to begin practicing and living out this   kind of repentance it would change the face of our lives and witness of the church. John Owen, writing in the seventeenth century, produced multiple volumes of theological works, including a seven volume study of the book of Hebrews. John Bunyan wrote the Pilgrim’s Progress, read widely even today by millions. One could even go as far back to the church fathers of the early second through sixth centuries. Augustine, Origen, Eusebius, and others. Athanasius, in his “Statement of Faith” discussing the relationship of the Father and Son, says this

For it would be inconsistent with His deity for Him to be called a creature. For all things were created by the Father through the Son, but the Son alone was eternally begotten from the Father, whence God the Word is ‘first-born of all creation,’ unchangeable from unchangeable.[^2]

These writers discuss deep theological thoughts and ideas. They are passionate about the things of God, and about sharing the things of God with the people they teach. We lose so much when we forget. To use Sir Isaac Newton’s famous phrase, “we are able to see further because we stand on the shoulders of giants.” We need to stand on the shoulders of these giants in theology, and follow their passion for God and His Word. In this modern era we need to see clearly and far, and we cannot do that if we forget. Please, read old books.

 

 

[1] The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, volume 43, sermon number 2,510, “Apart.”
[2] Athanasius of Alexandria. “Statement of Faith.” St. Athanasius: Select Works and
Letters. Ed. Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. Trans. Archibald T. Robertson. Vol. 4. New York: Christian Literature Company, 1892.

A Series on the Transfiguration

Alastair Roberts has posted the ninth in a ten part series on the transfiguration. He has also posted some helpful articles on the recent online debate regarding the Eternal Generation of the Son. Alastair writes well and clearly. Visit Alastair’s Adversaria today and catch up on both of these topics.

On The Christian Life Series

Owen_book

If you have not had a chance to read any of the books from the series “On the Christian Life”, you really should. Some of today’s leading theologians have written short biographies on christian theologians from the past. They are wonderfully written and short enough for you to read easily. You can start with any of them today. I suggest buying them here.