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.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Richard Barcellos on Marriage and the Sabbath

[The following is an excerpt from Dr. Richard Barcellos' new book Getting the Garden Right: Adam's Work and God's Rest in Light of Christ, page 178.]

"[M]arriage, from the beginning, was designed by God to be a type of Christ and His church. Marriage, as a divine creational institution, continues until Christ returns. It is not abrogated by His first coming. So, just as the creational ordinance of marriage is an age-long divine institution pointing to Christ and His church, so similarly with the Creator's rest and a Sabbath day rest for man. A Sabbath day for man is a creational ordinance pointing to eschatological rest. As a type of the ultimate rest to be enjoyed in Christ, the earthly symbol remains as a Sabbath rest, or a Sabbath-keeping [now taking place on the Lord's Day], for the people of God."

MY NOTES:

1. Regarding marriage: Christ in His redemptive work secured the Church as His bride, and yet marriages, which point to this spiritual reality, continue until the spiritual reality is consummated in the "marriage supper of the Lamb" (Rev 19:9), after which there will be no more marrying or giving in marriage (Matt 22:20).

2. Regarding Sabbath-keeping: Christ in His redemptive work secured the believers' rest, and yet Sabbath-keeping (Heb 4:9, rightly translated), which points to this spiritual reality, continues until the spiritual reality is consummated when we are brought into the ultimate Promised Land of the New Heaven and New Earth, free from sin, temptation, and all misery (Rev 21).

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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The Form of God Assuming the Form of a Slave: The Humiliation and Exaltation of the Incarnate Word (Philippians 2:5-11)

[The following blogpost is re-edited from a post published on 7/27/14. After prayerful consideration of the text itself, the first commentaries that I looked to were John Chrysostom and John CalvinAdditionally, my understanding of this passage has been sharpened by comments in Simon Gathercole's book The Preexistent Son, James White's book The Forgotten Trinity (Chapter 8), and class notes from Dr. Stephen Wellum.]

Text

Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus, who–existing in the form of God–did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage. Instead, He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men, and–when He had come as man in His external form–He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even to death on a cross. For this reason, God highly exalted Him and gave Him the name that is above every name, so that–at the name of Jesus–every knee will bow (of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth), and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (HCSB)

Observations

In Philippians 2:5-11, the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul commands us to humility. This passage calls us to follow Christ as our example for humility. It also, implicitly, holds out a promise to us. God the Father exalted Christ Jesus due to His humble obedience. We who have been united to Christ by faith (1 Cor 6:17) will share in His exaltation as we follow His example.

John Calvin
Paul gives an argument from the greater to the less. Christ exercised humility, as Calvin notes, “[B]y abasing Himself from the highest pinnacle of glory to the lowest ignominy.” We, on the other hand, exercise humility simply by not thinking higher of ourselves than we ought.

In this argument from the greater, Paul presents the highest Christology: a proclamation of Jesus as God. The high Christology of Philippians 2:5-11 is seen in at least two ways: 1) in Philippians 2:6, Christ Jesus is declared to be “in the form of God;” 2) the language of Philippians 2:10-11 directly parallels that of the statement about the LORD God in Isaiah 45:23. The remainder of this article will explore the first of these two ways.

Christ Jesus was “in the form of God.” “Form” in Philippians 2:6-8 is equivalent to “nature.” Christ emptied Himself by taking on a human nature. The Word became flesh (John 1:14). The Word—who “was God” (John 1:1)—was called a man (1 Tim 2:5). Christ forever retains His bodily form (Col 2:9). So both forms—the divine form, which is eternal, existing before His incarnation, and the human form, assumed in time—now remain everlasting.
John Chrysostom

Of these concepts, while commenting on Philippians 2:5-11, John Chrysostom helpfully remarks: “Let us not then confound nor divide the natures. There is one God, there is one Christ, the Son of God; when I say ‘One,’ I mean a union, not a confusion; the one Nature did not degenerate into the other, but was united with it.”

The incarnation and crucifixion were due to a voluntary act of the divine will as expressed through the subsistence within the Trinity known as the Word (as in John 1) or Son, and identified in the text under present consideration (Phil 2:5-6) as Christ Jesus. As Simon Gathercole notes, "[Christ's] act of emptying himself in the incarnation is paralleled with his act of humbling himself to the point of death." As Christ chose to go to the Cross (John 10:18), He had previously chosen to be born of the Virgin Mary. No one chooses the manner of his own birth: no one save Christ, "emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men." Notice the human existence the Christ chose: not a life of fame and fortune, but one that (for most of His time on this earth) was characterized by obscurity and poverty.

In Philippians 2:7, "assuming" and "taking on" modify the ‘emptying’ that is mentioned. Contrary to the kenotic theory, which teaches that Christ lost or set aside aspects of His divinity in the incarnation, the ‘emptying’ is not a losing but a gaining. The Son does not lose anything of His divinity, but he adds a human nature to His divine nature. This is an ‘emptying’ because it temporarily masks His divine glory and becomes the opportunity for His suffering on behalf of others

As Calvin notes, “[T]he abasement of [Christ's] flesh was… like a veil, by which His divine majesty was concealed. On this account, He did not wish that His transfiguration should be made public until after His resurrection” (Matt 17:9; Mark 9:9; Luke 9:36). The incarnate Christ was publicly manifested as the Son of God by means of His resurrection (Rom 1:4)

Prior to His resurrection, Christ suffered humiliation in the manner of His death: “cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree” (Deut 21:23; Gal 3:13). Christ was hanged between two robbers, sharing in their ill repute, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, “And He was numbered with the transgressors” (Isa 53:12). Christ crucified is a stumbling block and considered foolishness by those who are proud in their religious or philosophical endeavors (1 Cor 1:24)

Once the incarnate Christ was exalted, following His resurrection, the Word was returned to the glory that He had with the Father from “before the world began” (John 17:5). Nothing was added to the Son’s divinity (for it is impossible that the all-glorious One could increase in glory), but now His humanity, which was previously a vehicle for humiliation, has become glorified, manifestly partaking in the divine nature, allowing everyone who is united to Christ by faith (1 Cor 6:17) to become a partaker in the divine nature as well (2 Pet 1:4).

The above thoughts are key to rightly understanding the term "emptied" as it is used in Philippians 2:7 and help indicate how Christians must obey the command to 'make our own attitude that of Christ Jesus' in the way indicated by this passage (see Phil 2:5). Humility, as James White has observed, consists of: "having privileges, and laying them aside in service of others." As Martin Luther noted in On the Freedom of a Christian, whereas a Christian is "a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none" (due to the privileges we have in Christ through faith, John 8:36; Eph 2:6), a Christian is also "a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject to all" (due to the fact that the Holy Spirit has commanded us to practice humility). We cannot empty ourselves of divine attributes (as those holding to the kenotic theory would wrongly suggest is indicated by "emptied" in Phil 2:7), but we can empty ourselves of privileges though self-sacrificial service to others.

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