“The Art of Man- Fishing.” Part 1.

Taken and adapted from, A Soliloquy on The Art of Man- Fishing 
Written by  Thomas Boston, 1699
Edited for thought and sense.



“Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
–Matthew 4:19

I. There is a duty, “Follow me” from which we should consider…

A. The object, “me” even the Lord Jesus Christ, the chief fisher of men, who was sent by the Father to gather in the lost sheep of the house of Israel, who was and is the infinitely wise God, and so knew the best way to catch men, and can instruct men how to be fishers of others.

B. The act, Follow me (Gr. come after): Leave your employment, and come after me. Though no doubt there is a direction here to all the ministers of the gospel, that have left their other employments, and betaken themselves to the preaching of the word, and as follows, that if they would do good to souls, and gain them by their ministry, then they are to imitate Christ, in their carriage and preaching to make him their pattern, to write after his copy, as a fit mean for gaining of souls.

II. There is a promise annexed to the duty.

Wherein we may consider,

A.  The benefit promised; that is, to be made fishers of men; which I take to be not only an investing of them with authority, and a calling of them to the office, but also a promise of the success they should have, that fishing of men should be their employment, and they should not be employed in vain, but following Christ, they should indeed catch men by the gospel.

B.  The fountain-cause of this, I, I will make you; none other can make you fishers of men but me.

You may observe,

A.  Then, O my soul, that it is the Lord Jesus Christ that makes men fishers of men. Here I shall shew; First, How Christ makes men fishers of men. Second. Why unconverted men are compared to fish in the water. Third, That ministers are fishers by office.

I. How does Christ make men fishers of men?

In answer to this question, consider spiritual fishing two ways. 1. As to the office and work itself; and 2. As to the success of it.

First. He makes them fishers as to their office, by his call, which is twofold, outward and inward, by setting them apart to the office of the ministry; and it is thy business, O my soul, to know whether thou hast it or not. But of this more afterwards.

Second. He makes them fishers as to success; that is, he makes them catch men to himself by the power of his spirit accompanying the word they preach, and the discipline they administer, 1 Cor. 1:18, “The preaching of the cross” unto us which are saved, is the power of God.” 1 Thess. 1:5, “Our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance.” He it is that brings sinners into the net which ministers spread; and if he be not with them to drive the fish into the net, they may toil all the night, and day too, and catch nothing.

1. O my soul, then see that gifts will not do the business. A man may preach as an angel, and yet be useless. If Christ withdraw his presence, all will be to no purpose. If the Master of the house be away, the household will loath their food, though it be dropping down about their tent-doors.

2. Why shouldst thou then on the one hand, as sometimes thou art, be lifted up when thou preach a good and solid discourse, wherein gifts do appear, and thou gettest the applause of men? Why, thou mayst do all this, and yet be no fisher of men. The fish may see the bait, and play about it as pleasant, but this is not enough to catch them. On the other hand, why shouldst thou be so much discouraged (as many times is the case), because thy gifts are so small, and thou art but as a child in comparison of others?

Why, if Christ will, he can make thee a fisher of men, as well as the most learned rabbi in the church, Psalm 8: 2. Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength. Yea, hast thou not observed how God owned a man very weak in gifts and made him more successful than others that were far beyond him in parts?

Has not God put this treasure in earthen vessels, that the power might be seen to be of him? Lift up thyself then, O my soul, Christ can make thee a fisher of men, however weak thou art. Follow thou him. My soul desires to follow hard after thee, O God !

3. Be concerned then, in the first place, O my soul, for the presence of God in ordinances, and for his power that will make a change among people, Psalm 110: 3. When thy discourse, though ever so elaborate, shall be but as a lovely song, O set thyself most for this. When thou study, send up praises to thy Lord for it. When thou write a sermon, or ruminate on it, then say to God, Lord, this will be altogether weak without thy power accompanying it. O, power and life from God in ordinances is sweet.

Seek it for thyself, and seek it for thy hearers. Acknowledge thine own weakness and uselessness without it, and so cry incessantly for it, that the Lord may drive the fish into the net, when thou art spreading it out. Have an eye to this power, when thou art preaching; and think not thou to convert men by the force of reason: If thou do, thou wilt be beguiled.

4. What an honorable thing is it to be fishers of men! How great an honor should thou esteem it, to be a catcher of souls! We are workers together with God, says the apostle. If God has ever so honored thee, O that thou knew it, that thou might bless his holy name, that ever made such a poor fool as thee to be a co-worker with him. God has owned thee to do good to those who were before caught. O my soul, bless thou the Lord. Lord, what am I, or what is my father’s house, that thou hast brought me to this?

5. Then don’t you see here what the reason is you toil so long, and catch nothing? The power comes not along. Men are like Samuel, who, when God was calling him, thought it had been Eli. So when thou speak many times, they do not discern God’s voice, but thine; and therefore the word goes out as it comes in.

6. Then, O my soul, despair not of the conversion of any, be they ever so dissolute. For it is the power of the Spirit that drives any person into the net; and this cannot be resisted. Mockers of religion, yea, blasphemers may be brought into the net; and many times the wind of God’s Spirit in the word lays the tall cedars in sin down upon the ground, when they that seem to be as low shrubs in respect of them, stand fast upon their root. Publicans and harlots shall enter the kingdom of heaven before self-righteous Pharisees.

7. What thinkest thou, O my soul, of that doctrine that lays aside this power of the Spirit, and makes moral suasion all that is requisite to the fishing of men? That doctrine is hateful to thee. My soul loathes it, as attributing too much to the preacher, and too much to corrupt nature, in taking away its natural impotency to good, and as against the work of God’s Spirit, contrary to experience; and is to me a sign of the rottenness of the heart that embraces it. Alas! that it should be owned by any among us, where so much of the Spirit’s power has been felt.

“Salvation Taken into God’s Own Hands”



“The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance,
that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners,
of whom I am the foremost.”
–1 Timothy 1:15 (ESV)

There is not a Christian on earth who could have secured the privilege of being born…

…and brought up under the light of the Gospel, had not God ordered his lot in this manner.  Not a Christian on earth would ever have awakened himself from the slumbers of sinful repose, — would have poured upon his own conscience the convincing light of truth, would have subdued his own resistance and translated himself from darkness into marvellous light.  The best Christian on earth, with all his attainments, would never overcome another sin, — would never gain another triumph over the world, — would never demolish another idol, — would never escape another snare of Satan, but for the power of God.

Sustaining the combined assaults of earth and hell, what can he do?

An infant pulling in it’s mother’s arms, might as well attempt to hurl the sun from his orbit and turn all the angels out of heaven, as a poor feeble creature, in his own strength, to overcome two worlds with his own house divided against itself. His only hope is in God. At what time he is afraid he can only trust in his eternal rock. Surrounded by armies stronger than he, with all their weapons pointed at his heart, like Jehoshaphat he cries out to God for aid. Inclosing in his own bosom a host of rebels, constantly disposed to mutiny and to tumult, with no check upon them but guards which are furnished from heaven, what could he do if the heavenly aid were withdrawn ? Beset from without and from within, he must soon be swallowed up if the God of his salvation did not appear for him.

Excerpts taken and adapted from, “Salvation Taken into God’s Own Hands”
Sermons by the Late Reverend Edward D. Griffin”
Sourced from, The Dead Puritan Society. Hosted by Paul D.

PART 3D. FREED FROM THE ACCUSATIONS OF THE LAW: Boundaries? Yes! Christian Freedom? Absolutely!

Taken and adapted from, The True Bounds of Christian Freedom
Written by Samuel Bolton

satan-tempting-jesus (1)


Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect?’
 –Romans 8. 33

This may be thought a strange question, ‘who shall?’, for there are several such accusers…

Satan is ready to lay things to their charge. He is called ‘the accuser of the saints … night and day’ (Rev. 12. 10). He is the great Calumniator, ever bringing forward bills of indictment against the saints. Sometimes he accuses God to man, as in the case of our first parents, where he charged God with envy to His creatures, as if He had forbidden the tree lest they should become too wise. It is ordinary with Satan, either to accuse God’s mercy by telling men they may sin and yet God will be merciful, or to accuse His justice by saying that, if they sin, there is no mercy for them. As he stretches God’s justice above the bounds of the Gospel, so he stretches God’s mercy above the bounds of His truth.

And as Satan accuses God to man, so he accuses man to God. Sometimes he does this by way of complaint, as appears in the case of Joshua (Zech. 3. 1-4). In this fashion he is ever charging crimes home, and introducing bills of indictment against the saints. So that, in all his temptations, we may say, as the man said to Joab when he was asked why he had not killed Absalom: Thou thyself didst hear what the king commanded, that Absalom should not be hurt; and if I had done this thing, thou thyself would have been the first to accuse me to the king’ (2 Sam. 18. 12-13). So may we answer Satan: Thou thyself dost know that God hath forbidden this thing; and if I should have done it, wouldst not thou have been the first to accuse me to God? Such is Satan’s way; he is first the tempter to draw us to sin, and then an accuser to accuse us to God for sinning.

At other times Satan uses the method of suspicion and conjecture. It was so in the case of Job. God commends Job; Satan condemns him, as if he knew Job better than God Himself. Nay, and though he could not condemn Job’s actions, yet he would quarrel with his affections. Surely, whatever his actions are, yet Job’s intentions are not good! This was as much as to tell God that He was deceived in Job; it was as if Satan said, Certainly, whatever Thou thinkest of Job, yet Job doth not serve Thee for nothing. He is a mercenary fellow, one that serves Thee for loaves, for belly blessings. Thou hast heaped outward favors on him and hast made a hedge about him, fenced him in with Thy favors so that nothing can annoy him. Thus it is that Satan brings his accusations.

But Satan cannot condemn. The issues of life and death are not in his hands, nor will his accusation against us before God take effect. A man who is himself condemned, though he has the voice of accusation, yet he has no power to condemn. His testimony against another is invalid. Satan is a condemned wretch, and all his accusations against the saints before God have no effect. Joshua’s case shows this: though the accusation was true that he was clad in filthy garments, yet God would not receive it: The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan; is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?’ (Zech. 3. 2).

But it is not only Satan who accuses us; wicked men may do the same. Sometimes they do so justly, for sins committed, but forgiven, and in this they show their malice and lack of love in not forgetting that which God has forgiven. Sometimes they accuse the godly unjustly, laying to their charge things they never did, as Potiphar’s wife accused Joseph of uncleanness because he would not be unclean. David, too, complains that men laid to his charge things he never did; so also, Daniel. But none can condemn the truly godly.

Again, not only Satan and wicked men, but conscience itself may accuse; and then, is it possible for us to say. Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? Conscience, I say, may accuse, sometimes bringing true light, sometimes false information, sometimes reviving old bills cancelled and crossed long ago. In the first case, we are to listen to the accusations of conscience when it charges us truly. Joseph’s brethren were accused by their consciences when they were evil treated in Egypt, and told by them that they were verily guilty of the wrong done to Joseph. After David had numbered the people, his heart smote him. Conscience had not been a bridle, and it was now a whip; it had not been a curb, therefore it was now a scourge. David did not hearken to the warnings, and therefore he feels the lashings of conscience. And when conscience justly accuses us, when it comes in with evidence according to the Word, we must hear it, for there God speaks. If a sun-dial be not set by the sun, it is no matter what it says; but if it is correct by the sun, we must hearken to it. So, if conscience does not speak according to the Word, we need not give heed to its accusations, but if it speaks according to evidence there, it is good to listen to it.

Sometimes conscience charges us falsely. It will perhaps tell us that those things are sin which are not sin. In this case it is an erroneous conscience and we are not to listen to it. At other times conscience will revive old cases, answered and satisfied long ago. Then it is a quarrelsome conscience, like a contentious troublesome fellow at law, and God will deal with it as an honest judge with such a fellow; He casts the charges out of court as matters not worth hearing, or as things that have been settled long ago. These accusations must not take hold of the soul. In this case, I say, when conscience condemns, God is greater than conscience, to acquit and absolve the soul.

But there is a fourth party which is ready to lay sin to the charge of God’s people, and that is the law. The law may come as accuser. How then can it be said, ‘Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect?’, for if the law may accuse, we cannot be said to be free from the indictments and accusations of the law. I answer thus: if we speak of sins pardoned, neither conscience, nor Satan, nor law, has any right to accuse the people of God. God has justified them, and who then shall accuse?

Indeed, before faith, while we are under the law, we are subject to the accusations, judgments, and sentences of the law. The law not only accuses us then, but its sentence and curse take hold of us. It accuses us, as Christ told them that would not believe in Him, but looked for justification by the law: ‘Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuses you, even Moses, in whom ye trust’ (John 5. 45). The law by which they looked to be justified would accuse them. The law also sentences the sinner, and the sentence and curse take hold of him: ‘He that believeth not is condemned already… the wrath of God abides on him’ (John 3. 18, 36). So that while a man is under the law, before faith and interest in Christ, the law not only accuses but also condemns him.

As for those, however, who have an interest in Christ, the law cannot accuse them of sin committed before grace saved them, because it is pardoned, and thus this accusation is made void. Nor can the law accuse them of sin after grace saved them, sin after pardon.

They are not subject to the accusations, arrests, and sentences of the law. The law cannot so accuse believers as to call them into the court of the law; so the word signifies, ‘Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect?’; or rather. Who shall call them into court? The word not only signifies to accuse, but to summon to court (jus vocare). Yet the believer is freed from the law as a covenant, and hence from its judgments, sentences, condemnations, curses, and accusations. If it sends any of its officers to accuse us and arrest us for sin, we may refuse to obey and to appear in its court, for we are to be tried by another court; we are to be tried by the Gospel. If God’s people, when they have sinned, go to the right court, they will both sooner get sorrow for sin, and assurance of the pardon of sin; they will find more sorrow and less dismay for sin.

When I say that we are freed from the accusations of the law, I mean such accusations as are subordinate to condemnation. There is a twofold accusation, first, an accusation leading to conviction and humiliation for sin, second, an accusation resulting in sentence and condemnation for sin. All the accusations of the law against those who are under the law come under the second head. But all its accusations against the godly for sin are with a view to conviction and the humiliation of the godly under it, and so are subordinate to life and salvation. And so I conceive the law may accuse those who are, notwithstanding, the freemen of Christ. It may show them how far they come short of the glory of God, and how far they have wandered from the paths of righteousness, and may accuse them for it; but this results in humiliation, not condemnation. As I shall show hereafter, either this must be so, or else it must be denied that the law is a rule for believers.

But there are two queries that arise here. The first is whether the law may justly accuse us, seeing that we are not under it. Briefly I answer that we are not under its curses, but we are under its commands. We are not under the law for judgment, but we are under the law for conduct. So far as we walk not according to it, as a rule, it has an accusing power, though we are taken from under its condemning power. There is no further power left in the law than is for our good, our humiliation, our edification, and this is intended to lead to our furtherance in grace.

The second query is whether the law is just in its accusations against us, seeing we do not sin. This is founded on the previous query; if it be true that we are freed from the law as a rule or as a direction of life – were this so, it would be our bondage rather than our freedom – then our breaches of the law are not sin. If we are not subject to law, then we do not sin in the breaking of it, any more than we do if we break the laws of Spain or of any other nations, which are no laws to us.

I shall show later the invalidity and the danger of these two queries. In the meantime I must tell you that the law in its directive power remains with the believer. This must needs be plain from the words: ‘The law, which was four hundred and thirty years after (the promise), cannot disannul (the promise), that it should make the promise of none effect’ (Gal. 3. 17). For if the law, as the apostle says, was given 430 years after the promise, then it was given either as a covenant or as a rule. But as a covenant it could not be given, for then God would have acted contrary to Himself, first in giving a covenant of grace and then one of works. Therefore He gave it as a rule, to reveal to us, after our justification by the promise, a rule of walking with God so that in all things we might please Him.

Furthermore, that can never be said to be a part of our freedom which is a part of our bondage; nor can that be said to be part of our bondage which is part of our holiness. But conformity to the law, and subjection to the law of God, is part of our holiness. Therefore it can never be said to be a part of our bondage. There is, indeed, a twofold subjection – the subjection of a son, and the subjection of a slave. We are freed from the one, namely, the subjection of a slave, which was a part of our bondage, but not from the other, namely, the subjection of a son, which is a part of our freedom. But I shall speak of this at greater length in the discourses that follow.

Why I Call Myself a Reformed Baptist

Taken and adapted from, The Reformed Baptist Blog
Written by, Keith Throop.

Perhaps it would be helpful to discuss at least three senses in which I believe the term “reformed” has been used…

First, the term reformed can be used in a broad sense to describe that which is changed for the better, and in our discussion it refers to the changes that were made by Protestants in their efforts to reform the Roman Catholic Church in accordance with Scripture. In this sense it could refer to any person or group that seeks to be consistent in reforming the church in this way. I believe John Quincy Adams had in mind this usage of the term in his famous little book Baptists: The Only Thorough Religious Reformers, and this is one sense in which I intend the word to be taken when I describe myself as a Reformed Baptist. It communicates my commitment to the principle indicated by the slogan semper reformanda (“always reforming”), and it declares my conviction that it is the Particular Baptists who have been more faithful reformers than their Presbyterian brothers, especially with regard to the issues of church government and baptism, as indicated above. Indeed, in this sense I think we have more right to use the term than they do.

Second, the term reformed can refer to the broader Protestant tradition characterized by principles held by most of the early Reformers, and not just those in Geneva, for example. These principles may be summed up by the five Reformation precepts often referred to as “the solas.” These include the principle of sola scriptura (that Scripture alone is our ultimate authority), the principle of solus Christus (that we are saved by Christ alone), sola gratia (that we are saved by God’s grace alone), sola fide (that we are saved through faith alone), and soli Deo gloria (that all is to the glory of God alone). Thus when I call myself a Reformed Baptist I mean to indicate that I wholeheartedly embrace these distinctive principles of the Reformation.

Third, I agree that there is a more narrow use of the term, namely to refer to those who follow the traditions that have come particularly from Calvin’s reforming work in Geneva. This would include not only the Swiss Reformed, but also the Scottish and Dutch Reformed and the numerous Presbyterian groups that have followed from each of these traditions. I also agree with Clark that we do not want to confuse Baptists with these Reformed groups. However, this is precisely why I call myself a Reformed Baptist. The term Baptist clearly qualifies my use of the term Reformed. And when I use the terms together this way, I do not think I am doing anything essentially different than did those English Baptists who based the Baptist Confession of 1689 largely upon the Westminster Confession of Faith. They clearly wanted to identify themselves as in the mainstream of the Reformed tradition in one sense (particularly with regard to Calvinist soteriology and Covenant Theology), while at the same time distinguishing themselves in ways that demonstrated how they had reformed more thoroughly than had their Presbyterian brethren. This – together with the reasons already listed – is precisely why I call myself a Reformed Baptist.


The Doctrine of Reconciliation and its Arrangement Under the Covenant

Taken and adapted from, The Doctrine of Reconciliation.
Written by A. W. Pink

divine_adams-finger1Reconciliation has been procured by the incarnate Son, the Lord Jesus Christ

…for He is the grand and all-sufficient Provision of God for the accomplishing of His purpose. But it was effected by the Lord Jesus in fulfillment of a Covenant agreement. Unless that be clearly perceived we are without the principal key to the understanding of this stupendous undertaking.

The great majority know that “it is the blood (and that alone, plus nothing from us) that makes an atonement for the soul”(Lev. 17:11), but we wonder how many of them have pondered and grasped the purport of that blessed and remarkable statement “The God of peace that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of everlasting covenant” (Heb.13:20). That implies, first, that there was a covenant-agreement between God and our Lord Jesus; second, that it was a covenant made with Him as the Head of His people—”that great Shepherd of the sheep;”third, that Christ performed the condition of the covenant; fourth, that it was as the propitiated and reconciled One that God here acted; fifth, that it was in fulfillment of covenant purpose that He raised Christ; sixth, that Christ’s blood was the meritorious ground on which He (and all the saints in Him) was delivered from the prison of the grave; seventh, that hereby the Church has Divine assurance of its complete redemption and salvation. We cannot dwell upon these points but would request a careful weighing of them as introductory to what follows.

Three things are necessary in order to create a “covenant”; the parties, the terms, the agreement.

A “covenant” is a solemn pact or contract in which there are certain “articles”or conditions to be performed, in return for which performance an agreed award is promised and assured. It is a mutual agreement in which one party guarantees a stipulated return for the other’s fulfillment of the work he had pledged himself to undertake. It is an agreement entered into voluntarily by both parties (see Matthew 26:15). The two parties in “the everlasting covenant”were the Father and the Son—the Holy Spirit concurring therein, being the Witness, and agreeing to co-operate in the same. In Scripture the Father is represented as taking the initiative in this matter, proposing to His Son the terms of the covenant. The Father proposed a federal transaction in which the Son should take upon Him the Mediatorial office and serve as the Head of His people, thereby assuming and discharging their liabilities and bringing in an everlasting righteousness for them. The Son is represented as freely and gladly consenting to it.

It needs to be pointed out and emphatically insisted upon that the Son was not so constrained that He could not have avoided the humiliation and sufferings which He endured. We shall explain later the precise meaning of His words “My Father is greater than I”(John 14:28), “neither came I of Myself but He sent Me” (John 8:42), “this commandment (to lay down His life) have I received of My Father”(John 10:18); sufficient now to point out they have no reference whatever to His condition and position prior to the Covenant, for He then enjoyed absolute equality with the Father in every way. The Son might have resigned the whole human race to the dire consequences of their apostasy and have remained Himself everlastingly blessed and glorious. It was by His own voluntary consent that He entered into covenant engagement with the Father. In that free consent lay the excellency of it. It was His willing obedience and personal merits which gave infinite value to His oblation. Behind that willingness lay His love for the Father and His love for the Church.

On the other hand it is equally true that though the Son had pitied, yea to loved the elect (fore viewed as fallen) that He was willing to become their Surety and Substitute, yet He could not have redeemed them without the Father’s acceptance of His sacrifice. The Father too must consent to such an undertaking. Thus, there must be a mutual agreement between Them. The relation which Christ assumed to His people and the work He did for them presupposed the Father’s willingness to it. Before passing on it must also be pointed out that in consenting to become Mediator and Servant, and as such in subjection to the Father, the Son did not surrender any of His perfections not relinquish any of His Divine rights, but He agreed to assume an inferior office and for a season to be subordinate to the Father’s will. This was for the glory of the whole Godhead and the salvation of His people. After He became incarnate He was still in possession of His essential glory, though He was pleased to veil it in large measure from men and make Himself of “no reputation” in the world.

Before adducing proof-texts of the covenant made between the Father and the Son, let us call attention to a number of passages which clearly imply it and which otherwise are not fully intelligible. Take Christ’s very first recorded utterance after He became incarnate: “Do you not know that I must be about My Father’s business”(Luke 2:49). Did not that intimate He had entered this world with a clearly defined and Divinely designed task before Him? “I came clown from heaven not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me”(John 6:38) is even more explicit. Such subordination of one Divine person to another argues a mutual agreement between Them, and that, for some unique end. “Say you of Him whom the Father has sanctified and sent into the World; You blaspheme, because I said, I am the Son of God?” (John 10:36). Observe carefully the order of the two verbs: Christ was “sanctified”by the Father—that is, set apart and consecrated to His mediatorial office—before He was “sent” into the world! “Other sheep I have . . . them also I must bring” (John 10:16)—why “must”unless He was under definite engagement to do so?

That Christ went to the cross in fulfillment of a covenant-agreement may be gathered from His own words: “truly the Son of man goes as it was determined”(Luke 22:22), with which should be linked “Of a truth against Your holy child Jesus, whom You have anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together, for to do whatsoever Your hand and Your counsel determined before to be done” (Acts 4:27, 28). When you stand before the cross and gaze by faith upon its Sufferer recognize that He was there fulfilling the compact into which He entered with the Father before the world was. His blood shedding was necessary—”ought not Christ to have suffered these things!” (Luke 24:26). He asked—because of the relation He sustained to His people as their Surety. He was pledged to secure their salvation in such a way as glorified God and magnified His Law, for that had been Divinely “determined” and mutually agreed upon in the everlasting Covenant. Had not Christ died there had been no atonement, no reconciliation to God; equally true is it that had there been no covenant, Christ had never died!

Every passage where Christ own the Father as His God witnesses to the same truth. When Jehovah established His covenant with Abraham He promised “I will. . .be a God unto You and to your seed” (Gen. 17:8), and therefore when He “remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob”(Ex. 2:25) and revealed Himself to Moses at the burning bush preparatory to delivering His people from Egypt, He declared Himself to be “The Lord God of your fathers: the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob: this is My name forever and this is My memorial to all generations”(Ex. 3:15). This is My covenant title and the guarantee of My covenant faithfulness. So too the grand promise of the new covenant is “I . . .will be their God” (Jer. 31:33 and Heb. 8:10). If then the Father had entered into covenant with His Son we should expect to find Him owning Him as His God during the days of His flesh. And this is exactly what we do find. “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me”was not only a cry of agony, but an acknowledgment of covenant relationship. “I ascend to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God”(John 20:17). So also after His ascension. He declared, “Him that overcomes will I make a pillar in the Temple of My God. . .and I will write upon Him the Name of My God, and the name of the city of My God” (Rev. 3:12).

Turning to the Epistles we find many passages which presuppose the Father’s covenant with Christ before creation on behalf of His people. “Who has saved us. . .according to His own purpose and grace which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began”(2 Tim. 1:9). Even at that time, if time it may be called, there was a federal relationship subsisting between Christ and the Church, though it was not made fully manifest until He became incarnate. That subsisting relationship formed the basis of the whole economy of Divine grace toward them after the fall, as it was the ground on which God pardoned the O. T. saints and bestowed spiritual blessings upon them. “In hope of eternal life which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world was”(Titus 1:2). Does not that “promised” imply an agreement that God made promise to Christ as the Covenant Head and to His people in Him? Christ was faithful to Him that appointed Him (Heb. 3:2). As “obedience”implies a precept, so “faithfulness”connotes a trust, and a trust wherein one has engaged himself to perform that trust according to directions given him.

Passing now from indirect allusions to what is more specific, we begin with Psalm 89:3. “I have made a covenant with My chosen, I have sworn unto David My Servant.”The immediate allusion is to the historical David, but the spiritual reference is to David’s Son and Lord. This is clear from many considerations. First, the striking and lofty manner in which this Psalm opens intimates that its leading theme must be one of great weight and value. “I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever, with my mouth will I make known Your faithfulness to all generations. For I have said, Mercy shall be built up forever, Your faithfulness shall You establish in the very heavens”(vv. 1, 2). Such language denotes that no ordinary or common “mercies”are in view, but those which when apprehended fill the hearts of the redeemed with holy songs and cause them to magnify the fidelity of Jehovah as nothing else does. Thus, such an introduction should prepare us to expect Divine revelation of extreme importance and blessedness.

Second, “I have made a covenant with My Chosen” (same word as My Elect in Isa. 42:1). I have sworn unto David (which means Beloved) My Servant. In the following passages it may be seen that Christ is expressly referred to as “David”by the prophets (Jer. 30:9; Ezek. 34:23; 37:24; Hosea 3:5) and let it be duly borne in mind that all those predictions were made long after the historical David had passed away from this scene. “You spake in vision to Your Holy One and said: I have laid help upon One that is mighty, I have exalted One chosen out of the people (Deut. 18:15), 1 have found David My Servant, with My holy oil have I anointed Him” (vv. 19, 20). Who can doubt that a greater than the son of Jesse is here before us? But more: God goes on to say “I will make Him My Firstborn higher than the kings of the earth.. .My covenant shall stand fast with Him”(vv. 27, 28)—does not that establish beyond a doubt the identity of the One with whom Jehovah made the covenant! Such declarations pertain to no mere human being.

Third, the covenant promises here made establish the same fact. “His seed will I make to endure forever and His throne as the days of heaven”(v. 29)—the throne of the historical David perished over two thousand years ago! That this promise was to be fulfilled in Christ is clear from Luke 1:31-33, where it was said to Mary. You “shall call His name Jesus. He shall be great and shall be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David, and He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever and of His kingdom there shall be no end.” Another proof that it is not the typical David who is viewed in this Psalm appears in “If His children forsake My Law . . . then will I visit their transgression with the rod”(vv. 30-32). Had it been the successor of Saul who was the subject of this Psalm it had said “If he shall break My Law. . .! will visit his transgression with the rod” —as he was sorely chastised for so grievously wronging Uriah. No, it is Christ and His spiritual children who are referred to, and it is because of God’s covenant with Him that He casts then not off. (See vv. 33-36).

Fourth, in Acts 13:34 Paul proved the resurrection of Christ thus: “As concerning that He raised Him from the dead to return no more to corruption, He said on this wise: I will give you the sure mercies of David.”But in what did that quotation from Isaiah 55:3 provide proof? By the resurrection of Christ the “sure mercies of David”are confirmed unto His children. If they are in possession of them, then Christ must have risen! That word of Paul’s looks back beyond Isaiah 55 to Psalm 89, which, as we have seen, begins thus: “I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever.” The principal mercies are “I have made a covenant with My chosen . . . Your seed will I establish forever, and build up Your throne for all generations”(vv. 3, 4). Here then are “the sure mercies of David:” that God has covenanted to raise up Christ and set Him at His own right hand from where, on His mediatorial throne, He communicates those mercies to His seed. All doubt on this point is removed by Peter’s avowal that through David God had sworn that “Of the fruit of his loins . . . He would raise up Christ to sit on His throne”(Acts 2:30 and see v. 33).

On Psalm 89:3, 4 the immortal Toplady said, “Do you suppose that this was spoken to David in his own person only?

No, indeed; but to David as the type, figure, and forerunner of Jesus Christ. ‘I have sworn unto David My Servant’ unto the Messiah, who was typified by David, unto My co-equal Son, who stipulated to take upon Himself ‘the form of a servant.’‘Your seed’ all those that I have given unto you in the decree of election; all those whom you shall live and die to redeem. Those ‘will I establish forever,’so as to render their salvation irreversible and inadmissible. ‘And build up Your Throne:’Your mediatorial throne, as King of saints and covenant Head of the elect. ‘To all generations:’there shall always be a succession of favored sinners to be called and sanctified, in consequence of Your federal obedience unto death, and every period of time shall recompense Your covenant sufferings with an increasing revenue of converted souls, until as many as were ordained to eternal life shall be gathered in” (Author of that precious hymn “Rock of Ages”).

A solemn covenant was entered into between the Father and the Son before ever the world was.

A compact was made in which the Father assigned the Son to be the Head and Saviour of His elect, and in which the Son consented to act as the Surety and Sponsor of His people. There was a mutual agreement between Them, of which the Holy Spirit was both the Witness and Recorder. It was in there that the Son was appointed unto the Mediatorial office, when He was “set up”(or anointed as the Hebrew signifies), when He was “brought forth” from the eternal decree (Prov. 8:23,24) and given a covenant subsistence as the God-man. It was then that Christ as a lamb without blemish and without spot “verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world”(1 Pet. 1:18, 19). It was then that every thing was arranged between the Father and, the Son, concerning the redemption of the Church. It is this which throws such a flood of light upon many passages in the N.T. which otherwise are shrouded in mystery.

As the One more especially offended (1 John 2:1) the Father is represented as taking the initiative in this matter: “I have made a covenant with My Chosen” (Ps. 89:3), yet the very fact that it was a “covenant” necessarily implied the willing concurrence of the Son in it. Before the covenant was settled there was a conference between Them. As there was a conferring together of the Divine Persons concerning our creation (Gen. 1:26), so there was a consultation together over our reconciliation, as to how peace could be righteously made between God and His enemies and as to how their enmity against Him might be slain; and thus we are told “the counsel of peace shall be between Them both”(Zech. 6:13). The terms which the Father proposed unto the Son may be gathered from the office He assumed and the work He performed, for the relation into which He entered and the task He discharged were but the actual fulfilling of the conditions of the covenant. The Son’s acceptance of those terms, His willingness in entering office and discharging its duties, is clearly revealed in both Testaments.

This covenant was made by the Father with Christ on behalf of His people: “Your seed will I establish forever”follows immediately after Psalm 89:3. So again “My covenant shall stand fast With Him: His seed also will I make to endure forever”(vv. 28,29). In the next verses His seed are termed “His children” andshould they be unruly God says “I will visit their transgression with the rod, nevertheless My lovingkindness will I not take from Him”— showing their covenant oneness with Him. The elect were committed to Christ as a charge or trust so that He is held accountable for their eternal felicity: “Of them which You gave Me have I lost none”(John 18:9). Since the covenant was made with Christ as the Head of the elect it was virtually made with them in Him, they having a representative concurrence therein.

The terms of the covenant may be summed up thus…

First, it was required that Christ should take upon Him the form of a Servant, be made in the likeness of men, and act as the Surety of His people. Second, it was required of Him that He should render a full and perfect obedience to the Law and thereby provide the meritorious means of their justification. Third, it was required of Him that He should make full satisfaction for their sins, by serving as their Substitute and having visited upon Him the entire curse of the Law. In consideration of His acceptance of those terms the Father promised Him adequate supports; and on fulfillment of the task prescribed, specified rewards were promised Him. Let us briefly amplify these points. Little needs to be said on the first, for it should be clear to the reader that in order for the Son to render obedience to the Law He must become a subject of it and be under its authority. Equally evident is it that to be the Substitute of His people and suffer the penalty of their sins. He must become partaker of their nature—yet without sharing its defilement.

It was required from our Surety that He should comply in every respect with the precepts of the Divine Law. Such obedience was required of man originally under the Adamic covenant, and since the nature of God and His relation to the creature changes not, that requirement holds good forever. If then a Surety engages to discharge all the obligations of God’s elect then He must necessarily meet that requirement on their behalf, which is only another way of saying that He would thereby provide or bring in an everlasting righteousness for them. “There was no possibility that man could obtain happiness unless this obedience was performed by him, or by another whom the Law should admit to act in his name. ‘If you will enter into life, keep the commandments’ (Matthew 19:17) is the answer which the Law returns to the sinner who asks what he shall do to inherit eternal life. It is evident the same obedience was required from our Saviour when acting as our federal Head” (J. Dick).

The Father required from our Surety full satisfaction for the sins of His people. Since they had broken the Divine Law its penalty must be inflicted, either on them or on One who was prepared to suffer in their room. But before the penalty could be inflicted the guilt of the transgressors must be transferred to Him. That is to say, their sins must be judicially imputed to Him. To that arrangement the Holy One willingly consented, so that He who “knew no sin” was legally “made sin”for His people. God laid on Him the iniquities of them all, and therefore the sword of Divine justice smote Him and exacted satisfaction. Without the shedding of blood there was no remission of sins. The blotting out of transgressions, procuring for us the favor of God, the purchase of the heavenly inheritance, required the death of Christ.

The Son’s free acceptance of those terms is revealed in Psalm 40. All the best of the commentators from Calvin to Spurgeon have expounded this Psalm throughout of Christ as the Head of His Church. Its opening verses contain His personal thanksgiving for deliverance from death and the grave, but in His new song He makes mention of “our God”(v. 3)—His people sharing His glorious triumph. In verse 5 Christ owns Jehovah as “My God”and speaks of His thoughts to “Usward,” that is, to the elect as one with Himself. But it is in verses 6-10 we have that which is most germane to our present subject—a passage quoted in Hebrews 10, and which looks back to the far distant past. The force of “sacrifice and offering You did not desire”(v. 6) is given us in “it is not possible that the blood of bulls, and goats should take away sins”(Heb. 10:4). “My ears have You digged”speaks in the type of Exodus 21:5, 6 and tells of our Lord’s readiness to serve and His love to His Father and His children. “A body have You prepared Me”(Heb. 10:5) announces the Son’s coming into this world equipped for His arduous undertaking.

“Then said I: “when alternatives had been discussed and it was agreed that animal sacrifices were altogether inadequate for satisfying Divine justice. “Lo, I come”willingly of My own volition—from the ivory palaces to the abodes of misery. Those words signified His cheerful acceptance of the terms of the covenant. “In the volume of the book it is written of Me:”thus it was recorded at the very beginning of the Divine decrees—of which the Scriptures are a faithful transcript—that I should make My advent to earth. Thus it was registered by the Holy Spirit who witnessed My solemn engagement with the Father so to do. Thus it was formally and officially inscribed that in the fullness of time I should become incarnate and accomplish a purpose which lay beyond the capacity of all the holy angels. “I delight to do You will, O My God” tells us first of the object for which He came—to make good the Father’s counsels; second, His freeness and joy in it; third, the character in which He acted—as covenant Head: “My God.”

“I delight to do Your will, O My God. “Here consists the very essence of obedience: the soul’s cheerful and loving devotion to God. Christ’s obedience, which is the righteousness of His people, was pre-eminent in this quality. Not withstanding unparalleled sorrows and measureless griefs our Lord found delight on His work. “Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame”(Heb. 12:2). “Yea, Your Law is within My heart”He declared. No mere outward and formal subjection to the Divine will was His. That Law which is “holy, just and good”(Rom. 7:12) was enshrined in His affections. “O how love I Your Law”(Ps. 119:97) He averred. The Law did not have to be written on His heart, as it has on ours (Heb. 8:10), for it was one with the holiness of His nature. Then what a horrible crime for any to speak disparagingly of or want to be delivered from that Law which Christ loved!

The two things—the Father’s proposing the terms of the covenant and the Son’s free acceptance of them—are brought together in a striking yet rarely considered passage. “And their Noble (the Hebrew is in the singular number) shall be of themselves and their Governor shall proceed from the midst of them, and I will cause Him to draw near, and He shall approach Me: for Who is this that engaged His heart to approach Me, says the Lord”(Jer. 30:21). That is one of the great Messianic prophecies, and it is closely parallel with Psalm 89:19, 20, 27. In it we see the Father taking the initiative, and equally so the Son’s cheerful compliance. The Son is to become incarnate, for He was to “proceed from the midst of”the people of Israel. He was to be their “Governor,”and in order thereto is seen “approaching” the Father, or voluntarily presenting Himself to serve in that capacity. His free consent and heartiness so to act appears in His “that engaged His heart to approach Me.”

We cannot now enter into the connections of the above verse, but if the reader compares verse 9 of the same chapter and ponders what follows, he will rind confirmation of our interpretation. There the Father announced, “They shall serve the Lord their God and David their King, whom I will raise up (not from the grave, but exalt to office, as in Deut. 18:15; Luke 1:69 etc.) unto them.”That can be meant of none other than Christ, the antitypical David, for “serve”includes rendering Divine homage (Matthew 4:10), and worship will never be performed to the resurrected son of Jesse. Now it is the antitypical David, the Father’s “Beloved,”who is the King and Governor of the spiritual Israel and to whom Divine honors are paid. And He is the One who before earth’s foundation was laid “engaged His heart,” or as the Heb. signifies “became a Surety in His heart” (for so the word is rendered in Gen. 44:32, Prov. 6:1 etc.,) and that is the ground of the covenant which follows: “and you shall be My people and I will be your God”(v. 22).

Before looking at some of the assurances made by the Father of adequate assistance to His incarnate Son in the discharge of His covenant engagements, we must consider closely the office in which He served. In previous articles we pointed out the needs be for a Mediator if God and His people were to be reconciled in a way that honored His Law, as we also intimated His consummate wisdom in such an arrangement, and showed the perfect fitness of Christ for such an office. As the Mediator He was to serve as our Surety and also fulfill the functions of Prophet, Priest and King. As the Mediator He was “set up” or “anointed”from the beginning (Prov. 8:23): that is, was given a covenant subsistence as such before God, in which He acted all through the O.T. era. The prophets (equally with the apostles) were His ministers, and therefore the Spirit who spoke in them is termed “the Spirit of Christ”(1 Pet. 1:11). In Zechariah 1:11, 12 and 3:2 we find Him interceding: and in anticipation of the incarnation He appeared as “Man” (Josh 5:13, 14; Dan. 12:6, 7).

Christ is Mediator in respect of His person as well as office.

Only thus could He be the Representative of God unto us, the Image of the invisible God, the One in whom He is seen (John 14:9), the light of whose glory shines in His face (2 Cor. 4:6). It must be ever remembered that it was a Divine person who became flesh, and it is equally necessary to insist that the whole of His mediatory work is inseparably founded on the exercise of both of His natures. It is quite unwarrantable to predict certain things of His Divine nature and others of His human, for though not confounded there is perfect oneness between them. It was the God-man who was tempted, suffered and died— “the Lord’s death”(1 Cor. 11:26). This is indeed a subject beyond human comprehension, nevertheless, thought “great is the mystery of godliness”yet it is “without controversy”(1 Tim. 3:16) unto all those who bow to the all-sufficient authority of Divine revelation and receive the same as “little children.”

As the Mediator Christ became the Father’s “Servant”(Isa. 42:1; Phil. 2:7). Yet in so doing He ceased not to be a Divine person, but rather the God-man in whom “dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Col. 2:9). As our Surety Christ became subordinate to the Father’s will, nevertheless He still retained all His Divine perfections and prerogatives. When the Holy Spirit announced that unto a Child should be born and a Son given, He was careful to declare that such an One was none other than “the mighty God”(Isa. 9:6). When the Father brought His Firstbegotten into the world He gave orders “Let all the angels of God worship Him”(Heb. 1:6). Yet as our Surety and the Father’s Servant He was sent into the world, received commandment from His Father and became obedient unto death. Retaining as He did His Divine perfections He could rightly say “I and My Father are one”(John 10:30), co-equal and co-glorious; yet as the Servant “My Father is greater than I”(John 4:28)—not essentially so but officially, not by nature but by virtue of the place which He had taken. This distinction throws a flood of light upon many passages.

To be Himself “the true God”( John 5:20) and yet subject to God—owning Him as “My God;”to be the Law-Giver and yet “under the Law”(Gal. 4:4), to be one with the Father and yet inferior to Him, to be “The Lord of glory”(1 Cor. 2:8) and yet “made both Lord and Christ”(Acts 2:36), are, according to all human reason and logic, inconsistent properties: nevertheless Scripture itself expressly predicates these very things of one and the same Person—yet looked at in different relationships! In the days of His flesh Christ was “over all, God blessed forever”(Rom. 9:6), yet as our Surety “the Head of Christ is God”(1 Cor. 11:3). While walking this earth as the Man of sorrows the disciples beheld His glory “as of the Only-begotten of the Father”(John 1:4), yet as our Substitute He was “crucified through weakness”(2 Cor. 3:4). As God manifest in flesh He both laid down His life and took it again (John 10:18). but as our Shepherd God “brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus”(Heb. 3:20). There is perfect harmony amid wondrous variety.

Christ’s entrance into covenant engagement was entirely voluntary on His part: there existed no prior obligation, nor was there any authority by which He could be compelled to it. As the Father’s “Fellow”He was subject to no law and acknowledged no superior, supreme dominion was Him, and He “thought it not robbery to be equal with God”(Phil. 2:6). But having freely entered into the covenant and agreed to fulfill its terms, the Son became officially subordinate to the Father, and as our Surety He “sent Him into the world”(John 13:7), and as our Surety he was “anointed”with the Holy Spirit and with power (Acts 10:38), was “delivered up for us all” (Rom. 8:32), was raised from the dead (Acts 2:24), was “given all power”(Matthew 28:18), was elevated to the right hand of the Majesty on high (Heb. 1:3), was exalted “to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins” (Acts 5:31), and was “ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead”(Acts 10:42). Thus, the very passage over which “Unitarians”have stumbled and broken their necks speak of Christ not in His essential Person but in His mediatorial office: the former giving value to the latter, the latter endearing the former to our hearts.


PART 3C. FIVE REASONS WHY THE LAW CANNOT CONDEMN THE BELIEVER: Boundaries? Yes! Christian Freedom? Absolutely!

Taken and adapted from, The True Bounds of Christian Freedom
Written by Samuel Bolton

Three Crosses and Silhoutted Person in Prayer at SunriseFive reasons why the law cannot condemn the believer:

All this the apostle puts plainly: ‘Who is he that condemns? It is Christ that died’ (Rom. 8. 34). He sets the death of Christ against all the charges that can be brought. It is evident that the court of the law cannot condemn the believer:

I.     Because that court is itself condemned

…its curses, judgments, and sentences are made invalid. As men that are condemned have a tongue but no voice, so the law in this case has still a tongue to accuse, but no power to condemn. It cannot fasten condemnation on the believer.

II.   Because he is not under it as a court.

He is not under the law as a covenant of life and death. As he is in Christ, he is under the covenant of grace.

III. Because he is not subject to its condemnation.

He is under its guidance, but not under its curses, under its precepts (though not on the legal condition of ‘Do this and live’), but not under its penalties.

IV. Because Christ, in his place and stead, was condemned by it that he might be freed

…Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us’ (Gal. 3. 13). It may condemn sin in us, but cannot condemn us for sin.

V.  Because he has appealed from it.

We see this in the case of the publican, who was arrested, dragged into the court of justice, sentenced and condemned. But this has no force because he makes his appeal, ‘God be merciful to me a sinner’ (Luke 18. 13). He flies to Christ, and, says the text, ‘He went down to his house justified’. So the court of the law (provided that your appeal is just) cannot condemn, because you have appealed to the court of mercy.

There are many who make a false appeal.

They appeal in part, not wholly, for they trust partly on Christ and partly on themselves.

Many appeal to Christ for salvation who do not appeal to Him for sanctification. This is false. Many appeal to Christ before they are brought into the court of lie law, before they are humbled, convinced, and condemned by the law. The case of the publican shows what kind of appeal will do a man good. Condemned in the court of the law, he makes his appeal to Christ in the Gospel. Read the words spoken of him: ‘He stood afar off, and would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner’. Here was a threefold demeanor, answering to a threefold work within him. First, he stood afar off; this answers to his fear and consternation. Then, he would not so much as lift up his eyes; this answers to his shame and confusion. Again, he smote his breast; this answers to his sorrow and compunction. And being in such a case he then appeals: ‘God be merciful to me a sinner’.

In brief, then, if your appeal is a right one and such as will do you good, it must be a total, not a partial, appeal. You must not come to Christ for some relief only, but for all. Christ must have the honor of all. Also, it must be an appeal for grace as well as mercy, for sanctification as well as salvation, an appeal to be made holy by Christ as well as to be made happy by Christ. Again, it must be the appeal of a man humbled and condemned in himself. No man will appeal to another court until he is found guilty and condemned in the former. So here, we cannot appeal to Christ until first we are found guilty and condemned by Moses. This the apostle shows: ‘We have proved both Jews and Gentiles to be all under sin; as it is written. There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none that understands, none that seeks after God’ (Rom. 3. 9-11).

Thus demonstrates the indictment and the accusation of the law, and in verse 19 is found the sentence or judgment upon it, and there the apostle tells us the reason why the law says this: ‘That every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God’. It is when the law has accused and sentenced us, when it has stopped our mouths and we become guilty, that the sinner comes to make his appeal from the law as a covenant to Christ as a Savior. He looks for nothing from justice, but all from mercy. And when he has thus appealed, the law has no more to do with him; he is not under the sentence, the penalties of the law; he is out of the law’s reach. The law can take no hold of him for condemnation; he has fled to Christ, and taken sanctuary in Him.

What a privilege is this, to be free from the curses and penalties of the law, so that if the law threatens, Christ promises; if the law curses, Christ blesses. This is a high privilege. If God did but let one spark of His wrath and displeasure fall upon your conscience for sin, you would then know what a mercy it is to be thus freed.


The Economy of the Trinity in the Work of Soteriology

Taken from, The Doctrine of Justification,
Written by, James Buchanan.


Throughout the history of the church, expressions were devised in order to define and help us understand the relationship between the three persons of the Divine Trinity. The term essential Trinity describes the complete oneness which exists among the three of the Divine Trinity. But the term economical Trinity describes the division between the three members of the Divine Trinity. The Father, the Son, and the Spirit are absolutely one in essence. This is the essential Trinity. But in God’s economy to carry out His purpose of dispensing Himself into His chosen people, He is three. This is the economical Trinity. In His economy, the Divine Trinity is distinctly the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. The Father planned, the Son redeemed through His vicarious death, and the Spirit seals the redeemed ones (Eph. 1:4-14).]


The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are revealed as concurring together in the whole purpose and plan of man’s redemption; but as sustaining, each of them, a distinct office, and undertaking a different part of the work, in carrying that purpose and plan into effect.

Their common purpose of saving sinners, and their harmonious co–operation in its accomplishment, might be inferred from the unity of the divine nature, which necessarily implies unity in the counsels of the divine will; but the personal distinctions of the Godhead could never have been so clearly revealed in any other way than by the distinct offices and operations, which are ascribed to them in connection with the work of salvation. It is to mark at once their harmony of purpose, and also their several agencies, in this work, that every believer is required to be baptized,-not simply into the name of God,-but ‘into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost (Matt. 28:19);’ and that each of the three is distinctly invoked in the Apostolic form of benediction: ‘The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all (2 Cor. 13:14).’ The preparatory baptism of John, which is described as ‘the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins,’ and which was administered to the people who attended his ministry, (Acts 19:2-6) that they might be taught to ‘believe on Him who should come after him,’ and ‘baptize them with the Holy Ghost,’-was imperfect, as compared with Christian baptism, because it did not distinctly specify the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and accordingly it was superseded on the establishment of the Christian Church.

Each of the three Persons in the Godhead sustains a distinct office, and undertakes a work which Is ascribed peculiarly to Him, in connection with the divine method of saving sinners.


…is revealed as representing the majesty,––exercising the sovereignty, ––and maintaining the prerogatives, of the Godhead. It is said of Him that ‘He loved us,’––that ‘He blessed us with all spiritual blessings in Christ,’––that ‘He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world,’––that ‘He predestinated us to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath made us accepted in the Beloved,’––that ‘He gave His only–begotten Son,’––that ‘He sent His Son to be the Saviour of the world,’––that ‘He made Him to be sin for us,’––that ‘He set Him forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood,’––that ‘lie spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up to the death for us all,’––that ‘He commends His love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us,’––that ‘it pleased the Lord to bruise Him,’––that ‘He raised Him up from the dead, and gave Him glory, that our faith and hope might be in God,’––that He ‘crowned Him with honour and glory, and did set Him over the works of His hands,’––and that ‘God hath exalted Him with His right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance, and remission of sins.’ (John 3:16; Eph. 1:3,4,5; 1 John 4:14; 2 Cor. 5:21; Rom. 3:25, 8:32; Isa. 53:10; 1 Pet. 1:21; Heb. 2:7; Acts 5:31).


…is revealed as acting in official subordination to the Father,––as ‘sent”,––as ‘given,’––as ‘coming to do His will,’––as ‘making Himself of no reputation,’––as ‘taking upon Him the form of a servant, and appearing in the likeness of man,’––as ‘humbling Himself, and becoming obedient unto death, even the death of the cross,’––as being ‘made under law,’––as being ‘made sin for us,’––as being ‘made a curse for us,’––as ‘wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities,’––as bearing ‘our sins in His own body on the tree,’––as ‘giving Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour,’––as ‘crucified in weakness, but raised in power,’––as ascending up into heaven, and sitting down ‘forever on the right hand of God, from henceforth expecting till His enemies be made His footstool,’––as ‘highly exalted, and having a name given to Him which is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, and every tongue confess that He is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.’ (Phil. 2:7; Gal. 3:13; Isa. 53; Eph. 5:2; Heb. 10:12; Phil. 2:9-10).


…is revealed as ‘proceeding from the Father,’––as ‘sent by the Son from the Father,’––as ‘testifying’ of Christ,’––as ‘glorifying Christ,’––as ‘bearing witness’ of Him,––as ‘convincing the world of sin, because they believe not on Him,’-as ‘shining into the hearts of men, and giving them the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ,”––as renewing them in the spirit of their minds,’––as ‘quickening them’ into spiritual life,––as ‘the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Christ,––as ‘the Spirit that dwelleth in us’––that ‘worketh in us’––that ‘guideth us into all truth’––that ‘helpeth our infirmities’––that ‘witnesseth with our spirits that we are the children of God,’––as ‘the Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance.’ (2 John 15:26, 16:14; 1 John 5:6; John 15:8-9; Eph. 1:17,14).

images (5)These testimonies are sufficient to show…

First, that there is a real distinction between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, since many things are revealed concerning each of them which cannot be affirmed of the other two;––and secondly, that they sustain different offices under the same scheme of grace, and execute different parts of the same work of redemption. If these fundamental truths are clearly revealed, it follows that we can only involve ourselves in inextricable confusion by over-looking the fact that such distinctions exist, and by ascribing that to the Father which Scripture ascribes to the Son,-or that to the Son which Scripture ascribes to the Spirit,-or, conversely, that to the Spirit which the Scripture ascribes to the Son. Yet this is the very error with which those are justly chargeable who substitute the work of the Spirit in us, for the work of Christ for us, as the ground of our Justification.