Call To Die

Then [Jesus] said to them all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24, HCSB)

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Follower of Christ, husband of Abby, member of Kosmosdale Baptist Church, and tutor/staff member at Sayers Classical Academy.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Heart and Life: Notes and Gospel Reflection on Proverb 4:23


With all preservation, watch over your heart, because from it [flow] the springs of life. (Prov 4:23)


The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart. (Luke 6:45 NASB)


Who? This is a general command, and yet the contents of the heart, expressed through speech, reveal two kinds of people: the good and the evil.

What? The heart—the faculty of the soul which is the seat of our desires—“the springs of life;” “treasure” (and a portion of that treasure), which is good or evil; speech.

When? The springs of life are always flowing and are particularly evident when we speak.

Where? The condition of our heart is particularly evident when we open our mouths to speak to others.

Why? Our heart, reflected by our speech, sets the whole course of our life, even into eternity.

How? We choose according to our greatest desire.

So what? These are verses of absolute good or absolute evil: of eternal life or eternal death.

2 Tim 3:16

Teaching: these passages teach us concerning the necessary God-created connection between heart, speech, and life.

Correcting: these passages correct us when we falter in vigilance concerning our hearts.

Rebuking: these passages rebuke us if we imagine that we can reform our lives or our speech without a fundamental change of heart.

Training in righteousness: these passages help train us to watch over our hearts for our own good, for the benefit of others, and for God’s glory.

Gospel Reflection

Due to the sin of Adam, our hearts have been radically corrupted, bent against God. Our vigilance and deeds in reforming our hearts—if we do begin to realize the adverse effects our corrupted hearts have on our lives—our will and works are utterly insufficient. We need the power of the Holy Spirit. We need redemption for our hearts. As our hearts are, by nature, in rebellion against God, we stand condemned as traitors against our Sovereign. We need the legal obstacle to our redemption—our condemnation under the justice of God

Christ died, taking our condemnation in our place. But we must have more than forgiveness from the penalty of our sin; we must have redemption from the power of sin. Our hearts must be set free from the prison of sin. We must have our hearts cleansed from the pollution of sin. And as the old hymn celebrates:

[Christ] breaks the power of cancelled sin, 
He sets the prisoner free,
His blood can make the foulest clean,
His blood availed for me.

Having died for our sins, Jesus rose again on the third day, demonstrating that He was victorious over sin, death, and Hell. He now lives forever, offering salvation from sin and eternal life to all who believe in Him. He offers the power of the Holy Spirit, that we might guard our hearts, living lives that honor Him. By His grace and for His glory, dear reader, watch over your heart.


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Christ and Angels: Notes on Ephesians 1:9-10; Colossians 1:19-20

Focus Passages

He made known the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention, which He purchased in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times– that is, the summing up of all things in Christ– things in the heavens and things on the earth. (Eph 1:9-10 NASB)

For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on Earth or things in Heaven. (Col 1:19-20 NASB)


Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven. (Matt 6:10)

You have made Him a little lower than the angels. (Heb 2:7a)

Don’t you know that we will judge angels? (1 Cor 6:3a)


These passages focus readers’ attention on gospel truths from past, present, and future: 1. the past, “the fullness of the times,” when Christ’s work of penal substitution took place; 2. the present, as we are continually praying for God’s will to be done; 3. the future state, in which we who are redeemed will judge angels.

God is glorified in Christ in the Heavens and on the Earth. The benefits of God’s grace in Christ are “purchased” “through the blood of His cross.” This is according to the divine will: it is the Father who made Christ a little lower than the angels during Christ’s pre-resurrected incarnate existence. The revelation of the gospel of reconciliation also takes place according to the kind intention of God’s will (“the Father’s good pleasure”). The gospel of reconciliation uniquely demonstrates God’s grace. Due to His atoning work, establishing the gospel of reconciliation, all things have been summed up in Christ, and all of the manifest created order will be at peace with God.

In reflections upon Christian theology and piety, there is much discussion of “mystery.” These passages correct faulty understandings of “mystery:” a term that must be understood in light of the person and work of Christ. These passages, by implication, offer a rebuke to those who would fail to grant Christ and His Cross their proper place of preeminence. These passages train us to glorify Christ and His work on the Cross in all aspects of our lives.


“[O]ut of Christ all things were disordered, and that through him they have been restored to order. And truly, out of Christ, what can we perceive in the world but mere ruins? We are alienated from God by sin, and how can we but present a broken and shattered aspect? The proper condition of creatures is to keep close to God. Such a gathering together (νακεφαλαίωσις) [AKA: "recapitulation"] as might bring us back to regular order, the apostle tells us, has been made in Christ.” [Calvin’s Commentary, Ephesians 1:10]

“The apostle opens up a view of the atonement as embracing angelic intelligences as well as men…. In one sense, the efficacy of the atonement reaches to [angels], but in a different way from the reconciliation of those alienated by sin. God reconciles all things to Himself, celestial and terrestrial, and the angels seem to have been confirmed by the Son of God. It is not to be affirmed that Christ was the Mediator of angels, for the language of Scripture is that He is the Mediator between God and men (1 Tim 2:5), but He is their Head, the uniting bond of the universe, gathered up anew or recapitulated under Him (Eph 1:10).” [George Smeaton, The Doctrine of the Atonement According to the Apostles (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1988), 297-299.]


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Christ is Life: Reflections on John 1:4

Focus Passage

In [the Word] was life, and that life was the light of men. (John 1:4)


And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. (John 1:14)

Jesus said to [Thomas], "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)

 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples [after His resurrection], which are not written in this book, but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:30-31)

For to me, to live is Christ. (Phil 1:21a)


Jesus is Life. He is revealed as Life in His incarnation and in His teaching. Jesus is revealed as the Life by the divine will through the Cross and in His resurrection. Jesus declared that He is the Life when He was in close communion with His disciples. We too need communion with fellow believers that we would be ever more convinced that life is uniquely in Him.

Jesus is the Life because He is God, He is Man, and as the God-Man He conquered death. He took the death that we deserved in our place. Believing in Him, we have life in His name, both in this life and the life to come.

Jesus has life in Himself. The incarnate Word is—as we see throughout the Gospel of John—the eternal “I AM” of the Old Testament. “I AM” represented YHWH, the covenant name of God in the Old Testament. But whereas that name came to represent judgment and condemnation, since—by the weakness of our sinful flesh—people were entirely unable to keep the Old Covenant demands, the name Jesus literally means “YHWH saves.” The New Covenant established in His blood brings about life and peace with God.

The Word of God does not only create, but sustains all things. The Word of God does not only create and sustain, but He reveals who God is (He is the Light). The Word of God directs our paths (He is the Way). The Word of God is the Truth by whom all ideas must be evaluated.

The Word of God does not only create—does not only give life—in the natural realm, but in the supernatural and eternal realm as well. We ought not seek for life anywhere else. There is one Mediator between God and Man, the Man Christ Jesus. Jesus’ teachings offer us clear guidance. We obtain eternal life by faith alone; we gain access to God through Christ alone.

Jesus is the Life. These passages rebuke anyone who would seek to proclaim another source or end for life. These passages correct those who are confused about life, and who have something other than Jesus Himself as their chief concern in life. These passages train us to look to Jesus as the grounding for our lives, as the way to live our lives, and as the truth about life by which all other ideas must be evaluated.


Saturday, August 09, 2014

The Image and Firstborn of God: Notes on Colossians 1:15-17

[The following blogpost is re-edited and expanded from posts originally published on 3/19/2009 and 6/26/2012.]


15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For everything was created by Him, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities: all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and by Him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:15-17 HCSB)

Who and What is “He”?

Son, Firstborn, and Image. The antecedent of this pronoun–He–had been revealed two verses prior: “He” is “the Son He [that is, God] loves” (Col 1:13). In relation to God, He is God’s “image”. In relation to creation, He is the “firstborn,” holding preeminence over all things. Both terms–“image” and “firstborn”–are indicative of Christ as the new Adam. "Image of the invisible God" is "at least in part, an allusion to Gen 1:27.... Paul's language here is virtually identical with his reference elsewhere to 'man' being in the 'image and glory of God' (1 Cor 11:7, where clear reference is made to Gen 1:27)…. Christ has come in human form and accomplished that which the first Adam did not; consequently, as…ideal human, Christ reflects the image that Adam and others should have reflected but did not." [G.K. Beale, "Colossians," Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007), 851-852.] “Jesus is the firstborn in the sense that He has the preeminence (1:18) and that He possesses [like Adam possessed, before the Fall] the right of inheritance ‘over all creation’ (Heb 1:2; Rev 5:1-7, 13)” [MacArthur Commentary, p. 1735]. "[Firstborn] signifies his dominion over all things, as the first-born in a family is heir and lord of all, so he is the 'heir of all things' (Heb 1:2)" [Matthew Henry’s Commentary]. Christ is first in rank and exercises lordship over all creation.

Distinct. Colossians 1:16 provides grounds for verse 15, and begins to demonstrate Christ’s deity, but it also demonstrates the role distinction of His Person in that everything was created “through” Him. "[Colossians 1:16] indicates that Christ is in a quite different category from creation, since all things (ta panta) are said to have been created 'in him,' 'through him,' and 'for him.' The scope of the items mentioned in this verse indicates that this creation is not some partial or local event but the sum total of physical and 'spiritual' reality. Christ is not said here to be [the ultimate source of being for all things]: they are created (by God) 'in him'; but neither is his role simply that of agent or mediator, since the 'in him' and 'through him' are supplemented by the striking 'for him' (eis auton) at the end of 1:16. Comparing this formula with that in 1 Cor 8:6 (another confessional statement) highlights the importance of this addition, since there 'all things' are said to come into existence 'from' and 'to' (eis) God... Thus here in Colossians Christ is seen not merely as the instrument of creation, the tool of God's creative power, but as the one to whom all creation tends, the goal and purpose of its existence" [John Barclay’s Commentary (Sheffield, 2001, p. 80)].

Divine. “Image” and “firstborn” are significant for our understanding of Christ’s humanity, being indicative of Christ as the new Adam. However, these terms are both also significant for our understanding of Christ’s divinity. Christ perfectly reveals who the Father is.

In Colossians 1:15-17, “image” speaks not only to Christ’s identity as ideal Man, but it speaks to His ontological identity with God as well. The term “image” certainly indicates that Christ is the new Adam, but "at the same time, we gather also from this [term] his (μοουσία) identity of essence [with God], for Christ would not truly [and fully] represent God, if he were not the essential Word of God" [Calvin’s Commentary]. "In His essence, God is invisible; but Jesus Christ has revealed Him to us (John 1:18)…. The author of Hebrews, in a passage that certainly speaks to Christ’s deity, affirms that Jesus Christ is 'the express image of [God’s] person' (Heb 1:3)"  [Warren Wiersbe’s Commentary].

Firstborn” in verse 15 similarly speaks to Christ’s ontological identity with God, carrying the exact opposite import than what is imagined by the Arian heretics. Christ does not become “firstborn” at the incarnation, but this passage speaks to the state of Christ as He was “before all things”. “All things” includes time, and so we confess that there NEVER was a time when Christ was not in existence. “Firstborn over all creation” (some versions translate the phrase “firstborn of all creation, ” which is true to the Greek form, though “over” does give the proper sense of the passage): this phrase does not mean that Christ is part of creation, for “all things have been created by Him.” (The text does NOT read ‘all other things,’ as if He Himself were created.) Creation, made by the Son, is not the source of His title “firstborn”. Nothing within creation is the source of the Son’s nature. From whom does one who is born receive his nature? Is it not from his parents? The Son receives His nature from His Father. God the Son is consubstantial with His Father. He is eternally generated.

Hypostatically United."[T]here is a close association between the doctrine of man's creation in the divine image and the doctrine of our Lord's incarnation. It is because man in the creative order bears the image of his Creator that the Son of God could become incarnate as man and in his humanity display the glory of the invisible God” [F.F. Bruce’s Commentary]. As seen in Colossians 1:17, Christ is the Creator and Sustainer– these are the cosmic functions of the Son; in his deity, the incarnate Christ upheld all creation even in His nativity and all throughout His life.

How Can These Things Be?

The realities concerning Christ that are proclaimed in these verses come about by the power of God (Col 1:12), who is the Source of all being. These realities come about due to the eternal divine will. The Son or Word was in active existence previous to the creation of all things, and He transcends the heavens and the earth (Col 1:16-17).

So What?

Christ in Creation and Revelation. This passage teaches us concerning the preeminence of Christ in revelation and creation. Each person is made in God’s image (Gen 9:6). However, Christ is uniquely declared to be the image of God. As Calvin notes, "We must, therefore, beware of seeking [God] elsewhere, for everything that would set itself off as a representation of God, apart from Christ, will be an idol" [Calvin’s Commentary]. Mystical experiences or religious ceremonies are no substitute for Christ Himself.

Christ in Our Thoughts and Words. This passage certainly offers a rebuke against those who would deny Christ’s divinity or affirm that He was only a good teacher. But this passage also offers correction to those who are prone to frivolous thoughts concerning our Lord [i.e., “buddy Jesus” or “Jesus is my homeboy”]. This passage trains us regarding the kind of language that we must use to identify our Lord: exalted, worshipful language. More accurate knowledge of who Jesus is allows us to improve our worship and our witness.

Christ in Our Redemption. This passage is introduced by the phrase, “We have redemption, the forgiveness of sins, in Him” (Col 1:14). Colossians 1:15-17 provides grounding for how the Son is able, according to the divine will, to bring us “redemption, the forgiveness of sins”. Christ’s Person is the basis for His work.

As God, all things are created through Christ and for Christ. God cannot be successfully robbed. He will possess His creation.

As Man, Christ entered into creation. As Man, He became a suitable substitute for us: we, who have been made in God’s image, but who have become alienated from God and hostile in our minds towards Him because of our evil actions (Col 1:21). In His physical body, on the Cross, Christ took the penalty of death that we deserved, as we had made ourselves rebels against our Sovereign Creator and Sustainer (Col 1:20, 22). Christ thus secured our reconciliation to God.

As the God-Man, death could not hold Christ. He became the firstborn from the dead (Col 1:18). Christ thus secured our resurrection unto God.

DEAR READER: Trust in Christ today. In Christ, find the peace with God that you so desperately need. Find the hope of eternal life in Him. 


Friday, August 01, 2014

The Deity of Christ

[The following blogpost is re-edited from a post originally published on 7/23/10. The first part of this post is the outline I used for the 7/22/10 devotion at the pre-work prayer meeting that I had with my friends from UPS on Thursdays.]

The Deity of Christ

I. Jesus is identified as God by His own words: John 10:30-31; 14:8-9.

II. Jesus is identified as God by His actions: Mark 2:1-12.

-NOTE: The above points need only assume that the Gospel records are accurate eyewitness testimony (or, in the case of Luke, based upon careful investigation of several eyewitnesses [Luke 1:1-4]), as they claim to be: John 19:35. By these points we know, if we have any sure historical knowledge of Jesus at all, that it is beyond a reasonable doubt that Jesus considered Himself divine.

III. Jesus is identified as God by theological statements made by the apostles: John 1:1; Colossians 2:9.

IV. Jesus is identified as God by titles used for Him by the apostles:

A. Savior: 2 Timothy 1:10 [Isa 43:11];

B. Lord: 1 Peter 3:15.

-NOTE: The above points assume that the apostles' teaching, recorded as New Testament Scripture, comes from God: John 14:25-26; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 3:15-16. By the teaching of the New Testament regarding the deity of Christ, we know that Jesus is to be worshiped and served in a way that befits Him as God.
In their book Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case for the Deity of Christ (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 2007), Robert Bowman and Ed Komoszewski give the acronymn HANDS to help readers remember the biblical evidence for the deity of Christ. HANDS stands for: Honors, Attributes, Names, Deeds, and Seat. [More examples could be given for each lettered sub-point that follows.]

I. Jesus deserves the Honors only due to God

A. Whereas worship is to be given to God alone, Exo 34:14; Deut 6:13,

B. Jesus receives worship, Matt 2:11, 28:9-10, 17; John 5:23, 9:35-39).

II. Jesus shares the Attributes that only God can possess

A. Eternity, Isa 9:6; John 1:3;

BImmutability, Psa 102:25-27; Heb 1:10-12; 13:8.

III. Jesus is given Names that can only be given to God (as noted above)

ASavior: 2 Timothy 1:10 [Isa 43:11];

BLord: 1 Peter 3:15.

IV. Jesus performs Deeds that only God can perform

A. Jesus reads thoughts and forgives sin: Mark 2:1-12.

B. Jesus created everything: John 1:3; Col 1:15-16; Heb 1:2.

C. Jesus sustains everything: Col 1:17; Heb 1:3.

V. Jesus possesses a Seat on the throne of God (Rev 3:21)