Archive for January, 2013

D.A. Carson; John 17

Posted: January 31, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Biblical Studies, Christianity, Discipleship, Uncategorized

FROM TIME TO TIME IN THESE two volumes I have drawn attention to the fact that the way a biblical writer uses a word may not be the same way we use it. The serious reader of the Bible will then want to take special pains to avoid reading into the Bible what it does not say.

On the night he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus prayed for his followers in these terms: “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you have sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified” (John 17:17-19). Observe:

First, this side of the Reformation “sanctification” usually refers to the gradual growth in grace that flows out of conversion. In justification God declares us to be just, on account of the sacrifice that his Son has offered up on our behalf; in sanctification, God continues to work in us to make us more and more holy, “sanctified,” maturing into conformity with Jesus Christ. There is nothing wrong with talking like that: in the domain of systematic theology, the categories are reasonably clear. And after all, whether or not the word “sanctification” is used, there are plenty of passages that depict this sort of growth in grace (e.g., Phil. 3:10ff.).

Second, that sort of use of “sanctification” makes little sense of John 17:19. When Jesus says that for the sake of his disciples “I sanctify myself,” he does not mean that for their sakes he becomes more holy than he was, a little more mature and consistent perhaps. Rather, in the light of John’s closing chapters, he means that he totally devotes himself to his Father’s will—and God’s will is that Jesus go to the cross. Jesus is entirely reserved for what the Father wants; he sanctifies himself.

Third, Jesus’ purpose in such obedience is that his disciples “may be truly sanctified” (John 17:19). Because of Jesus’ self-sanctification he goes to the cross and dies for his own; in consequence of this cross-work, his disciples are truly “sanctified,” i.e., set aside for God. This sounds like what systematicians call “positional sanctification”: the focus is not on growing conformity to God, but on the transformation of one’s position before God owing to Jesus’ decisive atonement.

Fourth, what Jesus asks for in his prayer is that his Father “sanctify” his disciples by the truth, i.e., by his word which is truth (John 17:17). He may simply be asking that they be decisively “sanctified” by the truth of the Gospel. But if an experiential, long-term dimension is also in view, this passage tells us how to become more “sanctified”—in line with Psalm 1:2119:109111.

 

by D.A. Carson

Check the Claim

Posted: January 31, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, Discipleship

“If someone claims that the Greek says something that none of the translations say, dismiss their idea and walk away. Perhaps if they are commentary writers or scholars, their argument might have some validity; but I am always suspect of someone who bases their interpretation on any basis that you are not able to check… Beware of people who claim authoritative knowledge based on something you can’t check. If they can cite a well-known translation or commentary writer, or if they make a sensible contextual argument, that is one thing. But to dismiss interpretations to the contrary that are held by all translations, be suspicious.”

– Bill Mounce

Woven into Glorious Purpose

Posted: January 30, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, Discipleship, The Christian Life

“The mystery of iniquity is at work in the world during this interim time, and it is not always clear how its malignant work is being checked, overridden, or woven into the glorious purposes of God. We need to remember, though, that while Judas betrayed Christ, and woe to him for doing so, it was God’s plan that Christ was thus betrayed. Evil by its very nature opposes the purposes of God, but God, in his sovereignty, can make even this evil serve his purposes.”

– David F. Wells, The Courage to Be Protestant

D.A. Carson; John 13

Posted: January 30, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Biblical Studies, Christianity, Discipleship, Uncategorized

 

THE ACCOUNT OF JESUS WASHING his disciples’ feet (John 13:1-17) is narrated to establish several points:

(1) Walking on dusty roads in open sandals took its toll. Many homes would assign the lowest of the servants to wash the feet of visitors. On this occasion, however, Jesus and his closest disciples are on their own, and no one thinks to take on the role of the humblest servant—no one, that is, but Jesus himself. The way John marshals the facts shows that, decades later when he is writing these lines, he is still awed by the dimensions of the deed. Jesus knows that it is time for him to go to the cross, “to leave this world and go to the Father” (John 13:1), but he is not self-absorbed. He knows that one of those whose feet he will wash is Judas Iscariot, who, sold out as he is to the devil, is in the process of betraying him. Jesus knows whence he has come, “that he had come from God and was returning to God” (John 13:3). All along he has “loved his own who were in the world,” and now he shows them “the full extent of his love” (John 13:1)—not only the footwashing itself, but the cross, to which the footwashing points (as we shall see). Knowing all this, loving like this, “he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist” (John 13:4)—it is as if every step has been indelibly burned onto John’s memory, and he can play it back, again and again, in slow motion. In the hush of the room, Jesus washes his disciples’ feet.

(2) Peter balks (John 13:6-11). The exchange that follows is multi-layered. On the surface of things, there is a form of humility that is actually proud. In one sense, the most humbling thing to endure in this setting is Jesus washing your feet. So there is a lesson in humility. But there is something deeper: “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand” (John 13:7); Jesus’ washing of his disciples’ feet anticipates, symbolically, the washing that is accomplished by the cross, the supreme self-humiliation that is displayed in the cross. Peter will understand such things only after the events. And then, in a moment of flip-flop enthusiasm, Peter wants a bath, and a third level is peeled back to view: a person who is already clean does not need a bath, but only to have his feet washed (John 13:10). And in some respects the disciples, with the exception of the son of perdition, are already clean. Here, then, is a picture of the “once-for-all” element in the cross (cf. Heb. 9:11-1423-26); we do not need a new sacrifice, but fresh confession (1 John 1:79).

(3) And always there is the demand to be like Jesus. Reflect on John 13:12-17 and its bearing on us today.

from D. A. Carson here

 

Let us ever remember that Christ on the cross is of no value to us, apart from the Holy Spirit in us.

In vain that blood is flowing, unless the finger of the Spirit applies the blood to our conscience; in vain is that garment of righteousness wrought out, unless the Holy Spirit wraps it around us and arrays us in its costly folds.

The river of the water of life cannot quench our thirst, till the Spirit presents the goblet and lifts it to our lips.

All the things which are in the paradise of God could never be blissful to us, so long as we are dead souls — and dead we are, until that heavenly wind comes and breathes upon us, that we may live.

We do not hesitate to say that we owe as much to God the Holy Spirit as we do to God the Son.

— Charles SpurgeonGleanings Among the Sheaves(New York, NY: Sheldon and Company, 1869), 101

HT:OFI

D.A. Carson; Luke 24

Posted: January 29, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Biblical Studies, Christianity, Discipleship, Uncategorized

THE RESURRECTED JESUS APPEARED to his disciples on several occasions. Here we reflect on Luke 24:36-49.

Notwithstanding what the Bible says about the transformed nature of the resurrection body (especially 1 Cor. 15), in this section Jesus goes out of his way to demonstrate that he is not a dematerialized body or a disembodied spirit. He can be touched; the scars of the nails can be seen (that is the significance of his words, “Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself!” [Luke 24:39]); he speaks of himself as having “flesh and bones” (Luke 24:39); he eats some food in the presence of his disciples (Luke 24:42-43). This is entirely consistent with other voices in New Testament witness. It is unimaginably glorious: death has been beaten, and the long-promised king, once crucified, is now alive.

But Jesus insists that at one level his disciples should not have been surprised. He had been predicting for some time that he would die and rise again, but they had no categories for accepting his words at face value. Now he goes further: what has happened to him has fulfilled what was written about him “in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms” (Luke 24:44—i.e., in all three divisions of the Hebrew canon, which were often referred to in just this way). That Jesus has to explain this to them presupposes, of course, that as far as he is concerned they really have not properly understood the Scriptures up to this point. So now he opens their minds in order to overcome this deficiency (Luke 24:45). He does this by synopsizing what the Scriptures say—just as on the road to Emmaus he explained to the two disciples precisely the same thing. On that occasion he began with Moses and all the Prophets and explained “what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself” (Luke 24:27).

Clearly Jesus read the Old Testament in an integrated way, with himself at the center of it. From the New Testament records written by Jesus’ immediate disciples and heirs, we can gain a pretty comprehensive glimpse of his self-understanding in this regard. He saw himself not only as the rightful messianic king in the line of David, but also as the suffering servant who would be wounded for our transgressions. He knew he was not only the atoning sacrifice but also the priest who offered the sacrifice. He was not only the obedient Son who discharged the mission his Father assigned him, but also the eternal Word made flesh who disclosed the Father perfectly to a generation of rebellious image-bearers. And so much more. And all of these things we should see, too, and bow in solemn, joyful worship.

 

from D.A. Carson blog

Life in the kingdom of God

Posted: January 28, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, Discipleship, Uncategorized

We believe that those who have been saved by the grace of God through union with Christ by faith and through regeneration by the Holy Spirit enter the kingdom of God and delight in the blessings of the new covenant: the forgiveness of sins, the inward transformation that awakens a desire to glorify, trust, and obey God, and the prospect of the glory yet to be revealed.

Good works constitute indispensable evidence of saving grace. Living as salt in a world that is decaying and light in a world that is dark, believers should neither withdraw into seclusion from the world, nor become indistinguishable from it: rather, we are to do good to the city, for all the glory and honor of the nations is to be offered up to the living God. Recognizing whose created order this is, and because we are citizens of God’s kingdom, we are to love our neighbors as ourselves, doing good to all, especially to those who belong to the household of God.

The kingdom of God, already present but not fully realized, is the exercise of God’s sovereignty in the world toward the eventual redemption of all creation. The kingdom of God is an invasive power that plunders Satan’s dark kingdom and regenerates and renovates through repentance and faith the lives of individuals rescued from that kingdom. It therefore inevitably establishes a new community of human life together under God.

— The Gospel CoalitionConfessional StatementArticle 10

 

HT:OFI