Full by John Owen

This is the Beloved of our souls, “holy, harmless, undefiled;” “full of grace and truth;” –full, to a sufficiency for every end of grace,– full, for practice, to be an example to men and angels as to obedience,– full, to a certainty of uninterrupted communion with God– full, to a perfect victory, in trials, over all temptations,– full, to an exact correspondency to the whole law, every righteous and holy law of God, –full to the utmost capacity of a limited, created, finite nature– full, to the greatest beauty and glory of a living temple of God,– full, to the full pleasure and delight of the soul of the Father,– full to an everlasting monument of the glory of God, in giving such inconceivable excellencies to the Son of man.

– John Owen, The Works of John Owen, vol. 2 (ed. W.H. Goold; Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1850-53/2013), 67.

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“All his things are ours” by John Calvin

If these matters had in bygone ages been treated and dealt with in proper order, so many tumults and dissension would never have arisen. Paul says that in the upbuilding of Christian teaching we must keep the foundation that he had laid among the Corinthians [cf. 1 Cor. 3:10], “beside which no other can be laid, which is Jesus Christ” [1 Cor. 3:11]. What sort of foundation have we in Christ? Was he the beginning of our salvation in order that its fulfillment might follow from ourselves? Did he only open the way by which we might proceed under our own power? Certainly not. But, as Paul had set forth a little before, Christ, when we acknowledge him, is given us to be our righteousness [1 Cor. 1:30]. He alone is well founded in Christ who has perfect righteousness in himself: since the apostle does not say that he was to help us attain righteousness but himself to be our righteousness [1 Cor. 1:30]. Indeed, he states that “he has chosen us in him” from eternity “before the foundation of the world,” through no merit of our own “but according to the purpose of divine good pleasure” [Eph. 1:4-5]; that by his death we are redeemed from the condemnation of death and freed from ruin [cf. Col. 1:14, 20]; that we have been adopted unto him as sons and heirs by our heavenly Father [cf. Rom. 8:17; Gal. 4:5-7]; that we have been reconciled through his blood [Rom. 5:9-10]; that, given into this protection, we are released from the danger of perishing and falling [John 10:28]; that thus ingrafted into him [cf. Rom. 11:19] we are already, in a manner, partakers of eternal life, having entered in the Kingdom of God through hope. Yet more: we experience such participation in him that, although we are still foolish in ourselves, he is our wisdom before God; while we are sinners, he is our righteousness; while we are unclean he is our purity; while we are weak, while we are unarmed and exposed to Satan, yet ours is that power which has been given him in heaven and on earth [Matt. 28:18], by which to crush Satan for us and shatter the gates of hell; while we still bear about with us the body of death, he is yet our life. In brief, because all his things are ours and we have all things in him, in us there is nothing. Upon this foundation, I say, we must be built if would grow into a holy temple to the Lord [cf. Eph. 2:21].

–John Calvin, The Institutes of the Christian Religion, vol 1. (ed. Lewis/Battles; Philadelphia, PA: Westminster, 1559), III.xv.5; pg. 793.

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“Christ is full of grace” by Martin Luther

The third incomparable benefit of faith is that it unites the soul with Christ as a bride is united with her bridegroom. By this mystery, as the Apostle teaches, Christ and the soul become one flesh [Ephesians 5:31-32]. And if they are one flesh and there is between them a true marriage-indeed the most perfect of all marriages, since human marriages are but poor examples of this one true marriage-it follows that everything they have they hold in common, the good as well as the evil. Accordingly the believing soul can boast of and glory in whatever Christ has as though it were its own, and whatever the soul has Christ claims as his own. Let us compare these and we shall see inestimable benefits. Christ is full of grace, life, and salvation. The soul is full of sins, death, and damnation. Now let faith come between them and sins, death, and damnation will be Christ’s, while grace, life, and salvation will be the soul’s; for if Christ is a bridegroom, he must take upon himself the things which are his bride’s and bestow upon here the things that are his.

– Martin Luther, On Christian Liberty (Trans. W.A. Lambert; Minneapolis, MI: Fortress Press, 2003), 18-19.

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“What then is the Word of God?” by Martin Luther

You may ask, “What then is the Word of God, and how shall it be used, since there are so many words of God?” I answer: The Apostle explains this in Romans 1. The Word is the gospel of God concerning his Son, who was made flesh, suffered, rose from the dead, and was glorified through the Spirit who sanctifies.

To preach Christ means to feed the soul, make it righteous, set it free and save it, provided it believes the preaching. Faith alone is the saving and efficacious use of the Word of God alone, according to Romans 10:9: “If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Furthermore, Christ is the end of the law, that everyone one who has faith may be justified” [Romans 10:4]. Again, in Romans 1:17, “He who through faith is righteous shall live.” The Word of God cannot be received and cherished by any works whatever but only by faith. Therefore it is clear that, as the soul needs only the Word of God for its life and righteousness, so it is justified by faith alone and not any works; for if it could be justified by anything else, it would not need the Word, and consequently it would not need faith.

– Martin Luther, On Christian Liberty (Trans. W.A. Lambert; Minneapolis, MI: Fortress Press, 2003), 7-8.

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“That one thing” by Martin Luther

Furthermore, to put aside all kind of works, even contemplation, meditation, and all that the soul can do, does not help. One thing, and only one thing, is necessary for Christian life, righteousness, and freedom. That one thing is the most holy Word of God, the gospel of Christ, as Christ says, John 11:25, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live”; and John 8:36, “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed”; and Matthew 4:4, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” Let us consider it certain and firmly established that the soul can do without anything except the Word of God and that where the Word of God is missing there is no help at all for the soul. If it has the Word of God it is rich and lacks nothing since it is the Word of life, truth, light, peace, righteousness, salvation, joy, liberty, wisdom, power, grace, glory, and of every incalculable blessing.

– Martin Luther, On Christian Liberty (Trans. W.A. Lambert; Minneapolis, MI: Fortress Press, 2003), 5-6.

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“He is the Telos” by Richard Gaffin

The opening words of Hebrews (vv.1-2a) are particularly instructive in this regard since they provide explicit biblical warrant for the approach we are designating redemptive-historical. Along with a couple of other closely correlative references to God’s speaking in 2:2-3 and 3:5-6, this assertion both substantiates and facilitates elaborating basic elements in a redemptive-historical, history of revelation approach.

God, having formerly spoken at many times and in various ways to our fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us in his Son. (author’s translation)

This umbrella-like declaration covers all, or at least much, of what the writer goes on to say in the rest of the document. As such, it also provides a sweeping, overarching perspective on God’s speech or revelation, a controlling perspective arguably shared, more or less explicitly by the other New Testament writings. Several interrelated factors may be noted about this statement, reducible to the definitive nuclear assertion, “God has spoken.”

First, revelation is in view as a historical phenomenon. Further, revelation has taken place as an ongoing history, a history of revelation that unfolds in two basic stages. The contrast between the old and new covenants prominent later, especially in chapters 8-10, is fairly seen as implicit or anticipated in the two-fold division of 1:1-2a, as well as in 2:2-3 and 3:5-6. The revelation-historical outlook is more specifically a covenant-historical outlook.

Second, God’s Son is the consummate and integrating focus of this history. The history of revelation is both complete and a unity. God’s having spoken “in the Son” is his “last-days” speaking. Any thought that this speech might be surpassed or superseded is plainly foreign, not only here but every where else in the New Testament. God’s Son-speech has nothing less than eschatological finality.

The history completed by the Son is also unified in Him. Overall Christ-centered unity is particularly clear in 3:5-6.

Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant in testifying to the things that would be spoken, but Christ is faithful over God’s house as Son.

Here instead of the prophets (1:1) or angels (2:2), Moses stands for the whole of the old covenant, for the law (2:2) as well as the prophets. As such, in his servant capacity “in all God’s house”, he is the key witness to “the things that would be spoken,” that is, to those future things eventually spoken by God in Christ, God’s future last-days speech in the Son. All told, the old covenant functions as a witness that looks forward to and anticipates the new (cf. Luke 24:25-27, 44-47, and many other passages that could be cited). Explicitly, more clearly than in the other two passages, God’s revelation in his Son terminates the covenant-historical house-building process as he is its completion. He is the telos (cf. Rom 10:4), the goal that gives unity and coherence to the history of revelation in its entirety, old covenant as well as new.

This focus on Christ, as once as comprehensive and completing as it is unifying, shows clearly that the history of post-fall revelation, considered in terms of its subject matter, is in fact the history of redemption. God’s speech “in the Son” is “salvation…spoken through the Lord” (Heb. 2:3), with its both realized (cf. 9:26) and still future (9:28) aspects.  He embodies, climactically and uniquely, both word (verbal) revelation and deed revelation (cf. John 1:1), with the former interpreting the latter.

– Richard Gaffin, Seeing Christ in all of Scripture (ed. Peter Lillback; Philadelphia, PA: Westminster Seminary Press, 2016), 44-46.

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Quotes from Dominion & Dynasty

On the goal of Exodus:

The goal of Exodus is thus the building of the Edenic sanctuary so that the Lord can dwell with his people, just as he once was Yahweh Elohim to the first human beings (100)

On the significance of Sinai:

After the exodus narrative the Israelites move to Mount Sinai. Mount Sinai stands in the way of Canaan, the land of their inheritance, but it is certainly no diversion, nor is it incidental. The centrality of the this mountain is shown by a number of narrative signals. First and most obvious is the virtual suspension of narrative pace. Israel stays at Sinai for eleven months in real time (Exod. 19:1-Num. 10:11) and fifty-seven chapters in narrative time. This is important given the fact that sixty-eight chapters precede Sinai and fifty-nine chapters follow-it. Sinai is central to the Torah. (100)

On the Sabbath:

Just as the covenant with Noah had a visible sign in the created order, and the covenant with Abraham a visible sign in the human body of the male, so the Sinai covenant has sign to be made visible in time. More significantly, this shows that the covenant at Sinai marks a people that manifests God’s intentions for creation from the beginning: the rule of God. Just as the Sabbath was a sign of God’s rule at creation, so it becomes a sign of his rule in history. There is significant progression here: the stability of the world order, the blessing of descendents, human activity mirroring divine activity. This is a noteworthy expression of rulership and dominion in history. Created order leads to descendents who exercise dominion. Just as the divine ruler worked and rested, human beings are to work and rest. This kingdom of priests is to manifest God’s rule to the world. (102-103)

– Stephen Dempster, Dominion and Dynasty: A Theology of the Hebrew Bible (ed. D.A. Carson; Downers Grover, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 2003), 100, 102-103.

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