Monthly Archives: February 2009

Calvin Catechism: Fri Feb 27 Q. 58: Condemnation and Innocence of Jesus

Fri Feb 27 Q. 58: Condemnation and Innocence of Jesus



58. But Pilate pronounced Him innocent, and therefore did not condemn Him as if He were worthy of death (Matt. 27:24; Luke 23:14).
Both were involved. He was justified by the testimony of the judge, to show that He did not suffer for His own unworthiness but for ours and yet He was solemnly condemned by the sentence of the same judge, to show that He is truly our surety, receiving condemnation for us in order to acquit us from it.



As a father of five children, I have been confronted with the dilemmas of not knowing who the guilty party in a sibling conflict is, and of who first broke a house rule only to have one of the other then follow. I cannot see with omniscience or omnipresence, so I have to sort out details by asking what happened to two or three of the sibling witnesses to an event. As I get close to a conclusion on the identity of the perpetrator and pronouncement of initial judgment, is then that the pleas with tears begin: “It wasn’t me, daddy! It wasn’t me! He did it!” “No, I didn’t! She did it!”



At this point, there is a danger for me. I do not want to punish the wrong child for the lawbreaking incident. (It really takes the wisdom of Solomon in these matters—I “divide the baby” by the examination of the responses as I get closer to judgment. If I have the guilty party right, he/she does not gloat or show callousness at the sign of the punishment going to the other.) When I get it right, the confession often comes willingly after the discipline has been meted out. I also see a sigh of relief on the timid face of the other child as he/she avoids being convicted and sentenced for a crime he/she did not commit.



Humankind would like to cry out to the Creator, “We did not do it!” We have the First Century crowd to thank for saying it on our behalf, and then saying “no, blame that innocent man named ‘Jesus!’” He was innocent, without fault, always doing his Father’s will. Yet, instead of pointing the finger back to us so that we might be punished, he let the words and actions of Pilate stand and he received the judgment of condemnation for innocence. In his innocence, he took our full judgment on the Cross – wounds, stripes, and “the iniquity of us all” included. We, therefore, having been given grace to plea for mercy through him, walk away free from sin, sighing with fear as we have avoided the eternal wrath of God.




Recommended Reading: J. I. Packer and Mark Dever, In My Place Condemned He Stood: Celebrating the Glory of the Atonement (Crossway, 2008).




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Calvin Catechism: Fri Feb 20 Q 52 The Human Obligation of Christ

Fri Feb 20 Q 52 The Human Obligation of Christ

  (Late Posting on Friday, February 27, 2009)


52. You say that Christ had to become man, to fulfill the office of Saviour, as in our very person.
Yes, indeed. For we must recover in Him all that we lack in ourselves, and this cannot be done in any other way.  



When the Gospel is first announced in cryptic form in Gen. 3:15, the sort of Person for which we are looking throughout Redemptive History is described: A male-offspring of a woman, who will do battle with Evil and Evil’s offspring, who himself will suffer a wounding by Evil, but will be completely triumphant over evil. That this one must be “man” should be evident for 1) it is a man (male) who was responsible for keeping the Law in the Garden but failed to do so, and 2) it is a man (person) who must receive just punishment for man’s disobedience to the Lord. This one must not yield to Evil, as did Adam and Eve, for then he would not be able to conquer Evil. Instead, he must be completely triumphant over evil—he must be perfect in obedience, perfect in righteousness, perfect in keeping God’s Law. When this one is finally victorious, God will then rule over and through man as he did with intention in the Creation, when he both made man (“rule over”) and gave him dominion on the earth (“rule through”).



When Christ came in fulfillment of Gen. 3:15, he came as a perfect Savior. He provided justification for us because in himself we have the righteousness required to stand before the Judge Almighty. All we lack in ourselves is given to us through his atoning death and resurrection, such that not one of us can boast of anything before God. Our sin subjects us to the will of Evil so that we cannot save ourselves or recover what was lost in the Fall. Without a perfect Savior, we would be hopelessly covering ourselves in fig leaves.




Calvin Catechism, Fri Feb 13, Q. 45 & 46: The Unique Son


Fri Feb 13, Q. 45 & 46: The Unique Son



45. You would conclude, then, that the title of Christ includes three offices which God has given His Son, in order to communicate virtue and fruit to His faithful people?
That is so.


46. Why do you call Him the only Son of God, seeing that God calls us all His children?
We are children of God not by nature, but only by adoption and by grace, in that God wills to regard us as such (Eph. 1:5). But the Lord Jesus who was begotten of the substance of His Father, and is of one essence with Him, is rightly called the only Son of God (John 1:14; Heb. 1:2) for there is no other who is God’s Son by nature.  




Through the three offices, Christ reveals true virtue to us.



By nature, we are children of wrath, sons of disobedience—people who are spiritually dead and under the sentence of eternal death (Eph. 2:1-4). Since the Fall, from our points of origin, each of us comes in the likeness of Adam the transgressor (Rom. 5:12-14, 17-18). We are born not with equal parts good and bad, or with more or less of each. We are born spiritually corrupted, totally but not ultimately. In order to become children of the Holy One, a new birth – a second birth – from above rather than from earth, must take place—one that will make us of his nature (Jn 3:1-16).



The one without birth, beginning or end is not like the rest of us. He shared the glory of God from the beginning, and obeyed him perfectly. His Sonship is different from ours as the only Son from God with the exact nature of God from within himself—and that from all eternity to all eternity. It is that nature to which we are being conformed through all things in this life (Rom. 8:28-30). Only one is rightly celebrated as Son. The rest of us are brothers-in-awe and sisters-in-awe who are glad simply to have been given a new life in him so that we might have the virtue to applaud him.


“The first particular glory that upholds all the rest is the mere eternal existence of Christ. If we will simply ponder this as we ought, a great ballast will come into the tipping ship of our soul. Sheer existence is, perhaps, the greatest mystery of all. Ponder the absoluteness of reality. There had to be something that never came into being. Back, back, back we peer into endless ages, yet there never was nothing. Someone has the honor of being there first and always. He never became or developed. He simply was. To whom belongs this singular, absolute glory? The answer is Christ, the person whom the world knows as Jesus of Nazareth” (John Piper, Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ [Crossway, 2001]: 27.


Recommended resources for further study:


Andreas Kostenberger and Scott Swain, Father, Son, and Spirit: The Trinity and John’s Gospel. NSBT (InterVarsity, 2008).



Robert Letham, The Holy Trinity: In Scripture, History, Theology and Worship (P&R, 2005).



Glory Road Available for Pre-Order!



Glory Road: The Journeys of 10 African-Americans into Reformed Christianity
is available for pre-order! From the publisher:

“Ten African-American leaders in the church tell their stories of how they embraced Reformed theology and what effect it has had on their lives and ministries.

The ten men who have contributed to this book are often asked, “How did you come to embrace Reformed theology?” With the recent surge in popularity of Reformed theology in the broader evangelical world and the growing interest among African-Americans, it shouldn’t seem curious that more and more African-American churchmen are embracing Reformed theology. But the question remains, and Glory Road provides an answer, using personal accounts tracing their conversion to Christianity, their introduction to and embrace of Reformed theology, and this theology’s effect on their lives and ministries. Ultimately, Glory Road is about the glory of God in providentially bringing men and women to the truths of salvation.”

Pray for the book to have a wide readership, for the sake of a Reformation in the African American church. Pre-order your copy today!

We Chose Life


Anthony Harvoth’s We Chose Life is now available at Amazon. This is my endorsement from previewing the book:

Making a choice between continuing or terminating a pregnancy in which the unborn child has little chance of a normal or healthy life is one of the most significant family, emotional, and moral decisions one will every make in life. Having been in that position, I found We Choose Life to be sensitive, clear, and informative for helping people make the hard decision to walk from joy to pain and back to joy rather than take the easy road of ending the life of a child.

I hope you enjoy the book!

Calvin’s Catechism, Friday, February 6

Fri Feb 6, Q 39: Christ is Prophet



39. In what sense do you call Christ a Prophet?
Because on coming down into the world (Isa. 7:14) He was the sovereign messenger and ambassador of God His Father, to give full exposition of God’s will toward the world and so put an end to all prophecies and revelations (Heb. 1:2).



In this one question in the catechism, Calvin pulls together many prophetic concepts concerning Christ, including the Incarnation of the Word (cf. Jn 1:1-3; Heb 1:2), his role as embodied messenger of God (cf. Jn 1:14; Heb 1:3), his mission as ambassador (Jn 1:18;  2 Cor 5:18-19), his purpose in revealing the will of God toward the world (cf. Jn 6:39-40; 17:6-8), and his purpose in being the fulfillment  and chief end of the prophetic word (cf. Matt 5:17-20). All of these concepts are involved in Christ’s office as Prophet toward us—his work to make known God and his will to us by the Scriptures and the Spirit of God.



From the time of the second giving of the Law, the Scriptures pointed forward to a prophet like Moses whom God would raise up to speak his words to his people (Dt 18:15, 18; Acts 3:22-24; 7:37; cf. Jn 1:21). In the vein of Moses, but excelling him, that one would have unique experiences as a speaker for God:



Num 12:6 And he said, “Hear my words: If there is a prophet among you, I the Lord make myself known to him in a vision; I speak with him in a dream. Not so with my servant Moses. He is faithful in all my house. With him I speak mouth to mouth, clearly, and not in riddles, and he beholds the form of the Lord.



The Prophet who is the final Word from God—Jesus, the Son over the house of God—was the form Moses beheld, and is the unique God who declares the unseen God to us (cf. Heb 3:1-6; Jn 1:17-18). His humiliation and exaltation speak of all things God has willed for us. We must sit at the foot of the Cross and the opening of the Tomb and listen with joy.


Calvin’s Catechism, Friday, January 30 (late)

Q. 32 33 Fri Jan 30: The Name of Jesus

32. What is the meaning of the name Jesus which you give to Him?
It means Saviour, and was given to Him by the angel at the command of God (Matt. 1:21).

33. Is this of more importance than if men had given it?
Oh, yes. For since God wills that He be called so, He must be so in truth.


Significance is attached to the name, “Jesus,” just as significance is attached to the Old Testament name “Yahweh” (LORD) as the covenant name.  


In the Old Testament, every mention of the name of the LORD served to bring two things to mind for the people of God: 1) This is the God who was and is faithful to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and their offspring—to be with their offspring and bless them forever (Ex 3:6, 14-15); 2) This is the God who is “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation” (Ex 34:6-7). Calling on the Name itself served as a reminder of God’s faithfulness to keep his promises to his people and gave God’s people a reminder to recognize the very character of the merciful and holy God.


The name of Jesus signifies to us that “God will save his people from their sins”—that he is our Savior. Every mention of his name should invoke the thought of him rescuing us from the penalty due to us for our sins against God. The decree by which his name was given adds to the importance of honoring his name: Unlike typical birth names (Malcolm Little), chosen names (Sasha Fierce), pennames (bell hooks), and famous names (Barack Hussein Obama), it was not the choice of Joseph, or of any finite being; but, like our salvation, it is an infinitely powerful name because it was the choice of God—the faithful God.