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‘The end and intent of the Scripture is to declare that God is benevolent and friendly-minded to mankind; and that he hath declared that kindness in and through Jesu Christ, his only Son; the which kindness is received by faith.”

-from Protestant martyr George Wishart’s (1513-1546) translation of the First Helvetic Confession (1536)

St_georges_church_graveyard_Carrington_Greater_ManchesterThe [Apostles’] Creed next mentions, that he “was dead and buried”. Here again it is necessary to consider how he substituted himself in order to pay the price of our redemption. Death held us under its yoke, but he in our place delivered himself into its power, that he might exempt us from it. This the Apostle means when he says, “that he tasted death for every man,” (Heb 2:9). By dying he prevented us from dying; or (which is the same thing) he by his death purchased life for us. But in this he differed from us, that in permitting himself to be overcome of death, it was not so as to be engulfed in its abyss, but rather to annihilate it, as it must otherwise have annihilated us; he did not allow himself to be so subdued by it as to be crushed by its power; he rather laid it prostrate, when it was impending over us, and exulting over us as already overcome. In fine, his object was, “that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage,” (Heb 2:14-15).

-John Calvin

Here is a short clip from our recent morning sermon, “The Announcement of the Lamb,” an exposition of John 1:29. For the complete sermon, click here

Sacrificial_Lamb_of_God_006The lamb is a symbol of everything tender, innocent, and wholly dependent. As an urbanite from boyhood, I have only seen lambs occasionally. My last lamb sighting was on a trip in England. While running through the beautiful countryside, some of these absolutely adorable little creatures arrested me on the roadside. The aww-factor was off the charts!

John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus Christ, when seeing him among the crowds cried out, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” Now, the above symbolism rang true for Jesus. He was the epitome of harmless good. He was the man of peace, through and through. But there was much more to the lamb-symbolism for Jesus.  The image God gave in the lamb-symbolism was also one blood and gore, because the Old Testament lamb was raised to be a victim. A sacrificial victim.

Why? Is this just a crude hold-over from primitive, superstitious peoples? Are we moderns right to say we have moved on from these gruesome ideas? Really, is the meaning of the cross still meaningful?

Join us as we consider these issues in our Sunday morning service on May 6. 

 

untitled“Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehemjudah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons” (Ruth 1:1).

It was once asked, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” So in the same way, one might ask, can anything good come out of such dark, evil days, the days “when the judges ruled?” After all, though the era of the Judges was marked by heroic underdog-victories and feats of superhuman strength, yet they were spiritually and morally backwards. The days of the judges were days in which “there was no king in Israel,” and when “everyone did what was right in His own eyes.”  Those were days of gross idolatry, of tribal civil war, days of foreign invasion and occupation, and of shocking moral abominations. But in these days, there was a great story, the story of Ruth.  Following the Book of Judges is this small, precious pearl, the Book of Ruth. Like a diamond shining in the rough.

Really, it is the answer to the book of Judges! “Where sin abounds, grace does much more abound.” Though Israel had sunk so low, yet God stepped in.  Through Ruth the Moabitess, the unlikely convert to the God of Abraham, God restored life. He revived a family on the brink of extinction. And he established the house from which David came – and David’s seed, the Lord Jesus Christ!

Can anything good come out of such evil times?  “Come and see.”

“He manifests his comparative glory; “Thou art more excellent than hills of prey: fairer than the sons of men;” the bride, the believer sees him as the apple-tree among the trees of the wood, every way incomparable. Whatever he be compared to he excels it; if he be a lily, he is the lily of the valley; if he be a rose, he is the rose of Sharon; if he be a plant, he is the plant of renown; if he be a physician, he is the physician of value; if an advocate, he is an advocate with the Father; he is represented without any parallel.”

-Ralph Erskine (1685-1752)

Close-up_of_Sirius“What shall I say! And how shall I describe this Birth to you? For this wonder fills me with astonishment. The Ancient of days has become an infant. He Who sits upon the sublime and heavenly Throne, now lies in a manger. And He Who cannot be touched, Who is simple, without complexity, and incorporeal, now lies subject to the hands of men. He Who has broken the bonds of sinners, is now bound by an infants bands. But He has decreed that ignominy shall become honor, infamy be clothed with glory, and total humiliation the measure of His Goodness.”

-John Chrysostom (c. 349-407)

“Find the door of your heart, you will discover it is the door of the kingdom of God.”

-John Chrysostom (c. 349-407)

662a7aecb7“. . . the return of Christ unto judgment is not an arbitrary addition that can be isolated from his preceding work and viewed by itself.  It is a necessary and indispensable component of that work.  It brings that work to completion and crowns it.  It is the last and highest step in the state of his exaltation.

“Because Christ is the savior of the world, he will someday return as its judge.  The crisis,  or judgment (krisis),  that he precipitated by his first coming he consummates at the second coming.  The Father gave him authority to execute judgment (krisin poeiein) because he is the Son of Man (John 5:27).  Eschatology, therefore, is rooted in Christology and is itself Christology, the teaching of the final, complete triumph of Christ and his kingdom over all his enemies.  In accord with Scripture, we can go back even further.  The Son is not only the mediator of reconciliation (mediator reconciliatonis) on account of sin, but even apart from sin he is the mediator of union (mediator unionis) between God and his creation.  He is not only the exemplary cause (causa exemplaris) but also the final cause (causa finalis) of creation.  In the Son the world  has its foundation and example, and therefore it has in him its goal as well.  It is created through him and for hims as well (Col. 1:16).  Because the creation is his work, it cannot and may not remain the booty of Satan.  The Son is the head, Lord, and heir of all things.  United in the Son, gathered under him as their  head, all creatures return to the Father, the fountain of all good.  The second coming is therefore required by his first coming.  It is implied in the first; in time, by inner necessity, it will proceed from the first; the second coming brings the first coming to its full effect and completion and was therefore comprehended in a single image with the first coming by Old Testament prophecy.”

– Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics (4:685).

Last Lord’s Day (Sunday), we considered the weighty saying of Christ, “The Son of man came not to serve, but to be served, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28).  Jesus was going to the cross, but sadly, his disciples detoured him with their foolish question.  Yet Jesus made this sad detour a boundless blessing for them and us, if we have ears to hear.

Listen – if even for a minute or two – to the message here.