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Christology: David’s Son and David’s Lord (Review)

May 15, 2020 1 comment

I’ve enjoyed the Theology theme essay books recently published by the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, compilations of lectures on various doctrinal topics.  Previous posts here include reviews of Only One Way and Our Ancient Foe.  The latest offering is on the topic of Christology —  David’s Son and David’s Lord: Christology for Christ’s People.  As Mark Jones observed in Antinomianism:  Reformed Theology’s Unwelcome Guest (see this previous post), the errors of antinomianism and legalism, common among Christians today, are resolved by a solid foundation of Christology.  This volume contains 11 contributions, from lectures originally delivered at the 2018 Spring Theology Conference at Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, from many theologians including Joel Beeke, Michael Barrett, G.K. Beale, Ian Hamilton, and several others.

A recent post included a close look at chapter 7 from this essay collection.  The other chapters are also helpful, with teaching on several points: Christ as our prophet, our priest, our king, His deity and pre-existence, His impeccability; also several essay expositions of particular texts such as Psalm 45, Isaiah 53, and Matthew 4.

It would be hard to pick one ‘best’ chapter, as this volume has many solid essays, including the chapter from the very quotable Joel Beeke, and Morales’ essay with parallels between Israel in the wilderness and Jesus’ later 40 days in the wilderness.  G.K. Beale’s writing, on the Genesis creation theme of being fruitful and blessings, a theme continued throughout the rest of the Old Testament, is also interesting.

Among the highlights, Joel Beeke (Deity and pre-existence of the Son of God; John 8:58) provided strong application, as in these selections:

Do you give Christ your heart in worship every day, and especially during Lord’s Day services?  To worship Him is to recognize that He is the One who meets all your needs and brings us true happiness.  He is worthy of your adoration and worship.  Tell Him, therefore, in public worship, as well as in private, that He is your highest love, your only Beloved without any competitors.

and

The fact that Christ has been faithful to His covenant and to His covenant people throughout the ages proves that He will be faithful to you now.  Can you recount the many times when Christ has shown Himself faithful to you?  The fact that Christ has been faithful to his covenant and covenant people throughout the ages proves that He will be faithful to you now and forever more.  Can you recount the many times when Christ has delivered you from trouble?  Sometimes doubts arise within us because of various trials we encounter.  Are you prepared to counter these doubts by recounting His many deliverances?  Keep a record of the ways God has brought you through difficulties in the past.  There is wisdom in the children’s song, ‘Count your blessings, name them one by one.’

Throughout the book are also many quotes from the Puritan and other past writers, such as this great one from Edward Griffin, on Romans 8:32:

What could you wish for more?  What change can you desire?  In what single circumstance would you move for an alteration?  Our blessed Jesus governs all.  Would you take the government of a single event out of his hands?  To whom then would you commit it?  To angels?  They never loved like Jesus.  To chance?  There is no such love in chance.  To men?  Men never died to save your lives.  To yourselves?  Jesus loves you better than you love yourselves, and knows infinitely better what is for your good.  Come then [to Christ] …. and rejoice that this redeemed world is governed by the matchless love of him who died to deliver it from Satan’s oppression.

The book ends at an appropriate place, with Ryan McGraw on Christ’s Return and its importance, and how we should live in light of the Second Coming.  This section especially reminded me of the similar point made by J.C. Ryle in his Coming Events and Present Duties, and McGraw mentions J.C. Ryle, who reportedly “would look out his window every morning and say, ‘maybe today Lord,’ and every evening and say, ‘maybe tonight Lord’.”  This chapter includes quotes from Thomas Manton and Sinclair Ferguson, and mentions the appointed means by which we reflect on the Lord’s Return, including baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and the observance of the Sabbath.  McGraw also emphasizes the beatific vision of heaven–the more traditional view of heaven–as contrasted with the “New Creation” model (reference this previous post, about Derek Thomas’ book Heaven on Earth’).

“David’s Son and David’s Lord: Christology for Christ’s People” is another great selection in the conference lecture series essays.  The essays cover several topics within the overall theme, with great expositions of Bible texts, and solid application to the Christian life.

1689 Confession Series Study: Christ as Prophet, Priest, and King

May 18, 2015 3 comments

Continuing in a sermon audio series through the 1689 London Baptist Confession, chapter 8 in the confession includes a good study of Christ as our Mediator: our Prophet, Priest and King. The following comes from the introductory message in this mini-series on Christology (number 74) in the full 1689 series, and the introductory message brings out many interesting points.

Christ is the Last Adam. Thus, the First Adam was also, at least in some sense, a prophet, priest, and king – and would have continued in that state if he had been confirmed. Though Adam may not have consciously realized his three roles, Adam’s three roles are implicitly taught.

  • Adam as a prophet, had true knowledge; he accurately reflected God in his thoughts, words and deeds, thought God’s thoughts after Him, and acted as a representative of God, reflecting God and His truth.
  • Adam as a priest offered sacrifices of praise and service, in complete communion with God, and represented a people. No mediator was then needed (before the fall), and Adam could approach God on behalf of himself and others.
  • Adam as a king: he had been given dominion over the lower-creation (the Garden of Eden), and ruled according to correct knowledge.

The Last Adam, Christ:

  • Our Prophet: we come to Him and learn from Him, we study His word, and hear it proclaimed in sermons.
  • Our Priest: daily we confess our sins to Him as we continue in fellowship with Him
  • Our King: the basic understanding of Lordship Salvation, that we obey Him

A right relationship to God includes observing all three of Christ’s offices.

  • Some people only want to have Christ as Prophet (liberal Christianity), saying that He was a good man and a great teacher—ignoring that the one who was a good and great teacher also claimed to be Priest and King.
  • Others will go further, affirming Christ as Prophet AND as priest—Christ our Savior—but claim He need not be our Lord–or, that third part can come later (“Free Grace” non-Lordship and easy-believism views here).
  • Others may claim Christ as their King, with emphasis on obedience, on following the law of God; yet are really taking a self-righteous approach of doing their own works, denying Him as their priest.

A good application: three things to consider whenever we read or study scripture or hear a sermon. We should always ask ourselves these three questions:

  1. What do I learn from this passage, and what am I learning about God? – role of Christ as prophet
  2. What sins do I need to confess and repent of right now? — Christ as priest
  3. What must I now do? What do I learn, in this passage or this sermon, about obedience: what things to stop doing or start doing? – Christ as King

The gospels present Christ as Prophet, Priest, and King, which has implications for evangelism.  A key text is Matthew 11:28-30, in which Christ offers Himself in all three offices:

  • All you who labor and are heavy-laden:   Christ as our Priest
  • Come and learn of Me: Christ as our Prophet
  • Take my yoke upon you… : Christ as our King

Revelation 5, the Christology of Heaven (S. Lewis Johnson)

September 10, 2014 3 comments

From S. Lewis Johnson’s Revelation series, a few observations concerning the great throne room scene of Revelation 5 – the Christology of Heaven.

The three-fold praise in heaven gives a natural three-point sermon:

  • The Song of the creatures and the elders (Rev. 5:8-10)
  • The Shout of the angelic host (Rev. 5:11-12)
  • The Saying of “the whole creation” (Rev. 5:13-14)

Revelation 5 references the atonement and that satisfaction that Christ has rendered in His death on the cross.

this expression that, “the lamb of God was slain and has purchased”, is a reference to his penal death, that is he died under the penalty of the sins of men, further that it is a substitutionary death that we should have died, but he died instead of us. He died as our representative. He died as our covenantal head. Incidentally, Bach makes that point over and over in the St. John Passion, of how He was bound that we might not be bound and so on. And then also it is a satisfaction that is the Lord Jesus Christ in His sacrifice in His blood has satisfied the claims of a holy and righteous God against us. And as Anselm pointed out, it was something we must do — but we did not have the power to do and someone else, our Lord Jesus Christ, is the one who has done it for us. … It is good news that men who cannot save themselves do have a Savior to whom they may appeal and expect to find full, free forgiveness and justification of life. So it is a penal substitutionary satisfaction, and I would like a minor emphasis this morning, we don’t have time to deal in detail with this, to say that also it was a particular redemption.

The ninth verse: “For Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed to God by Thy blood.” (ESV: for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God):

Most of the translators supply the words either “men” or “some”. Luther supplied the German word Menchen, which means something like mankind, but it’s a supply because of the partitive construction in the original text. Take my word for it. It’s true. After forty years of teaching New Testament Greek exegesis. Jesus, I assure you there is no doubt about it whatsoever, it is a partitive construction. That is, a reference is to some out of the whole, a part out of the whole. So he does not say he has redeemed to God by Thy blood, every kindred tongue and people and nation, but “out of every people tongue and nation.” In other words, there is a selection, a part of the whole that is the object of the redeeming work.

That verse 9 means more than simply talking about the fact that some should be lost, is seen in the very next verse: “And hast made them unto our God kings and priests.”

In other words, everyone who is the object of the purchase is also effectually made a king and a priest, and surely you’re not going to be universalists are you? No, you know that that is not true. So everyone who has been purchased has also been made a priest and a king, and I won’t say anything more about it. I don’t want your blood to rise, become hot and angry because there are other things that are very important in this great passage, but I want you to think about it. It’s evident then, I think that what John says is harmonious with a particular redemption.

Another observation: the angelic hosts know where to put the crown: they don’t put it on man, but on the Son of Man, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Ask those angelic hosts how men are saved, and from their own language that they would say, “The glories that men who are saved have are not due to the individuals. They are due to the lamb who was slain,” or if you were to say to the elders and the living creatures, “Where did the faith come from by which this vast multitude was saved? Did it come from them?” they would say, “No a faith did not come from them. It was the gift of God.” For after all the apostle wrote, “No man can call Jesus Lord, but by the Holy Spirit.”

Colossians: Christ’s Preeminence in Creation, the New Creation of the Church, and All Things

January 31, 2014 Comments off

I’m now going through S. Lewis Johnson’s Colossians series, and enjoying it even more than I expected to.  This is a great study on this epistle, complete with many quote-worthy comments and observations, so applicable to our day as it addresses the nature and being of Christ in answer to the heresies already developing in the 1st century.

From Colossians 1:15-20, Paul’s great Christology, the following observations:

The Lord of the First Creation

This section may have been part of an early hymn, perhaps written by Paul or someone else, or even composed by multiple people in the early church.  If it is a hymn, the hymn of the beloved Son begins in verse 15 with a statement concerning the essential basis of his Lordship, “Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every”, or of the whole, “creation.” 

The description here is of the Lord Jesus as the unique perfect likeness and manifestation of God, the great and final theophany.  The Greek word for “image” suggests that He possesses the Divine Attributes.  Concerning the word eikon and its usage:

There is a related word to it formed of the same root entirely, absolutely, I should say, which was used of a photograph, and further, there is a word very closely related to it, one is eikon, and the other is eikonian, a diminutive of it, a little eikon which was used when individuals signed a contract in legal terms guaranteeing certain things to others.  For example, in an IOU, it was customary for when the contract was drawn up for an eikonian to be drawn up as well.  And what that meant was certain sentences which would describe the individuals who entered into the contract were set in the contract in order that there might be evidence of precisely who entered into the contract, so that there would be no misunderstanding.  That was called an eikon, that is, a description of the individuals involved.

This text presents Christ’s essential basis of His Lordship. Then, the last part of verse 15 presents the Economic Basis of His Lordship:  He is the firstborn of the whole creation.  As Dr. Johnson well notes, this does not mean He is a creature – the Arian heresy.

He’s not a creature.  He’s the creator of the creatures.”  And Athanasius convinced the early church, properly so, that the Lord Jesus may be called firstborn of the whole creation, but not in the sense that there was a time when he entered into existence, so far as his person was concerned.  In fact, the Lord Jesus is the eternal Son, and He is the creator of the creatures.  In Him the whole created universe came into its existence.  So the term firstborn then takes on the meaning that it had in other passages in the Bible: of sovereignty over.

So we have three prepositional phrases.  “All things were created in him.”  “All things were created by him.”  “All things were created for him.”

Lord of the New Creation

Paul moves from the cosmological (the physical creation), to the soteriological, our personal salvation.  Christ is the head of the body, and thus He controls the church, He owns the church, and has authority over the church.

Of course, that has great practical significance so far as our personal life is concerned too.  We are related to the Head who is in heaven.  And if we are to live a life that is acceptable to the Lord God, we must be submissive to the Head, the Lord Jesus in a personal sense.  And as a body of believers who are under shepherds, elders, it’s most important for them and for us to be under Him and to look to Him for control and guidance and authority in the things that we do.

Preeminent In All Things

Verse 18, “that in Him should all fullness dwell.”

I don’t think that the apostle, when he says, “All fullness,” here is referring simply to our Lord’s deity.  That doesn’t make sense in the context, that is, that He should have the preeminence because He’s firstborn from the dead because He’s God.  It should relate to His saving work by which He became firstborn from the dead.  So I suggest to you …. what I mean by “all fullness” … all saving fullness, all saving power, in grace, because He’s the covenantal head of the people of God.  So he says, “For it pleased the Father that in Him should all, ‘saving’ fullness dwell.”

This point is especially important to the Colossians, in answering the heresy of gnostic Judaism, which included the idea of a God so holy that He doesn’t directly create.  Gnosticism has a series of eons, angelic type beings, that come forth from God the father, each a little less holy, and Christ is one of these beings, not a divine being but a created, secondary being, a mediator that is secondary and not god himself.  Paul emphasizes this point, that it “pleased the Father” to have all saving power reside in Christ – Jesus Christ the covenantal head and having all saving power.  So there is not a hierarchy of mediators between God and men as the heretics were saying.  But by the fact that He is raised from the dead, there is evidence that He is the one and only saving mediator between God and men. 

Christ’s Sufferings In Type: Christology, S. Lewis Johnson

April 29, 2013 2 comments

S. Lewis Johnson’s Systematic Theology series, Christology section, again brings great lessons regarding biblical typology, with “Christ: His Sufferings in Type” (this audio message; transcript here).

As noted from previous S. Lewis Johnson typology lessons (also reference these posts, typology in reference to Joseph and David), a type is not some special technical term reserved only for the “types” explicitly called types in the New Testament.  Rather, a type is just another word for “illustration” or “example,” one that has specific characteristics, including historicity and pattern, with spiritual correspondences between people, things (or institutions), or events within historical revelation – that is, within the Bible.  Typology is a form of prophecy: prophecy conveyed through history.  A type prefigures. A prophecy foretells.  The word type is not a technical term.  that Greek word is a word that does not have any special significance.  It means simply, example. 

Yet the idea of a special classification of only explicitly-named types is not unique to our day (reference this post), for S. Lewis Johnson responded to such a notion in this, the early 1970s Systematic Theology lesson, noting the following:

1)     The New Testament never says that Joseph is a type of Christ.  But there is not a clearer OT example of Jesus Christ than Joseph.  The NT does explicitly call Adam a type of Christ, in Romans 5.   Yet Adam is a type in only one particular point (a representative man), and is actually more to be contrasted with Christ in every other aspect.

2)    Jesus describes Himself as the reality of several Old Testament types, none of which are explicitly called types in the New Testament: as for instance the Temple, Jacob’s ladder, the manna in the wilderness, the brazen serpent, the smitten rock, the pillar of fire.

Also from this lesson: why is typology valid? God controls all of history, and so we observe that Old Testament events were designed by God to express aspects of the ministry of our Lord Jesus.

Now to some actual types of Christ’s sufferings:

In Typical Persons:

  1. Joseph: a man of dreams, dungeons and diadems.  Parallels to Christ in His suffering:
  • the object of the desire and heart of his father’s love.
  • Received a commission from his father to his brethren.
  • Rejected by his brethren, into captivity.
  • lived a life of humiliation (prison)
  • exalted to be a ruler in Egypt (Jesus has been exalted to the right hand of the Father.)
  • acquired a bride in his exaltation; Jesus is acquiring a bride (the church).
  • used to bring about the restoration of his brethren.  Jesus at His second coming shall be used to bring about the restoration of Israel.

2. Moses.  New Testament reference typology: Stephen’s speech in Acts 7.  Moses was rejected by his people, same as Jesus is now rejected by His people Israel.

3. David.

  • Rejected, hunted by Saul, and persecuted. Lived in rejection, and gathered a group of troubled, depressed people to himself. Likewise Christ is now gathering a peculiar people to Himself.
  • Anointed king, then slew Goliath; then rejection. Christ at the cross slew Goliath; then was rejected.
  • David later came into his kingdom, as Christ will at His Second Coming.

In Typical Events:

  • Coats of skins in Eden, Genesis 3.
  • The Passover.  Exodus 12
  • The Smitten Rock — Exodus 17.  The rod that had turned the water of Egypt into blood.

In Typical Institutions:

  • The Tabernacle
  • The brazen altar, the mercy seat
  • The Priesthood:  ordination of the priests.
  • The Offerings: the day of atonement; the offerings in Leviticus 1-4; the offering for the cleansing of a leper