Saturday, June 26, 2010

Gary North: The Levitical sacrifices had to be unblemished to symbolize Christ's perfect, infinite sacrifice

“Leviticus begins with the law governing the burnt offering. ‘A male without blemish’ was required, which was also the requirement for the Passover lamb: ‘Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats’ (Ex. 12:5). The phrase, ‘without blemish,’ is repeated throughout Leviticus [1:10; 3:1,6; 4:23,28,32; 5:11,18; 6:6; 9:2-3; 14:10; 22:19; 23:12,18]. The blemish-free sacrificial animal symbolized God’s legal requirement of a final sacrifice that alone serves as a legal ransom payment (atonement) to God for man’s sin. This pointed to the substitutionary death of a perfect man, Jesus Christ (I Pet. 1:18-21).” (Gary North, Leviticus: An Economic Commentary, p. 50)

“Why was there a Levitical requirement of blemish-free sacrifices? Because man is made in the image of God, and his acts are supposed to reflect God’s acts. This raises the question of God’s acts. God has offered a sacrifice to Himself: a high-value, blemish-free sacrifice. To meet His own judicial standards, God forfeited in history the most valuable Lamb of His flock, His own Son. It is not what fallen may pays to God that repays God for sin (a trespass or boundary violation); it is what God pays to Himself. The blemish-free animal in the Mosaic sacrificial system symbolized (i.e., judicially represented) this perfectionist aspect of lawful atonement. Even closer symbolically than slain animals was God’s announcement to Abraham that he would have to sacrifice Isaac, a payment for which God later mandated a substitute: the ram (Gen. 22:13).” (Gary North, Leviticus: An Economic Commentary, pp. 53-54)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Lyrics: The perfect, spotless, infinite, sufficient atonement of Christ our Savior

Alas! and did my Savior bleed
And did my Sovereign die?
Would He devote that sacred head
For such a worm as I?

But drops of grief can ne’er repay
The debt of love I owe:
Here, Lord, I give my self away
’Tis all that I can do.

At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light,
And the burden of my heart rolled away,
It was there by faith I received my sight,
And now I am happy all the day!

-Isaac Watts

There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel’s veins;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.
Lose all their guilty stains, lose all their guilty stains;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.

-William Cowper

Shall we still dread God’s displeasure,
Who, to save, freely gave His most cherished Treasure?
To redeem us, He hath given
His own Son from the throne of His might in Heaven.

He becomes the Lamb that taketh
Sin away and for aye full atonement maketh.
For our life His own He tenders
And our race, by His grace, meet for glory renders.

-Paul Ger­hardt

Arise, my soul, arise; shake off thy guilty fears;
The bleeding sacrifice in my behalf appears:
Before the throne my surety stands,
Before the throne my surety stands,
My name is written on His hands.

He ever lives above, for me to intercede;
His all redeeming love, His precious blood, to plead:
His blood atoned for all our race,
His blood atoned for all our race,
And sprinkles now the throne of grace.

Five bleeding wounds He bears; received on Calvary;
They pour effectual prayers; they strongly plead for me:
“Forgive him, O forgive,” they cry,
“Forgive him, O forgive,” they cry,
“Nor let that ransomed sinner die!”

The Father hears Him pray, His dear anointed One;
He cannot turn away, the presence of His Son;
His Spirit answers to the blood,
His Spirit answers to the blood,
And tells me I am born of God.

My God is reconciled; His pardoning voice I hear;
He owns me for His child; I can no longer fear:
With confidence I now draw nigh,
With confidence I now draw nigh,
And “Father, Abba, Father,” cry.

-Charles Wesley

[Note: we ascribe to the words "all our race" the meaning that Christ died for the entire "race" of God's elect; He redeemed them and secured for them eternally glorified life]

Jesus, our great high priest,
Hath full atonement made,
Ye weary spirits, rest;
Ye mournful souls, be glad:

Extol the Lamb of God,
The sin atoning Lamb;
Redemption by His blood
Throughout the lands proclaim:

The year of jubilee is come!
The year of jubilee is come!
Return, ye ransomed sinners, home.

-Charles Wesley

Fountain of never ceasing grace,
Thy saints’ exhaustless theme,
Great object of immortal praise,
Essentially supreme;
We bless Thee for the glorious fruits
Thine incarnation gives;
The righteousness which grace imputes,
And faith alone receives.

Whom heaven’s angelic host adores,
Was slaughtered for our sin;
The guilt, O Lord was wholly ours,
The punishment was Thine:
Our God in the flesh, to set us free,
Was manifested here;
And meekly bare our sins, that we
His righteousness might wear.

Imputatively guilty then
Our substitute was made,
That we the blessings might obtain
For which His blood was shed:
Himself He offered on the cross,
Our sorrows to remove;
And all He suffered was for us,
And all He did was love.

In Him we have a righteousness,
By God Himself approved;
Our rock, our sure foundation this,
Which never can be moved.
Our ransom by His death He paid,
For all His people giv’n,
The law He perfectly obeyed,
That they might enter Heav’n.

As all, when Adam sinned alone,
In his transgression died,
So by the righteousness of One,
Are sinners justified,
We to Thy merit, gracious Lord,
With humblest joy submit,
Again to Paradise restored,
In Thee alone complete.

Our souls His watchful love retrieves,
Nor lets them go astray,
His righteousness to us He gives,
And takes our sins away:
We claim salvation in His right,
Adopted and forgiv’n,
His merit is our robe of light,
His death the gate of Heav’n.

-Augustus Toplady

Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness
My beauty are, my glorious dress;
’Midst flaming worlds, in these arrayed,
With joy shall I lift up my head.

Bold shall I stand in Thy great day;
For who aught to my charge shall lay?
Fully absolved through these I am
From sin and fear, from guilt and shame.

The holy, meek, unspotted Lamb,
Who from the Father’s bosom came,
Who died for me, e’en me to atone,
Now for my Lord and God I own.

Lord, I believe Thy precious blood,
Which, at the mercy seat of God,
Forever doth for sinners plead,
For me, e’en for my soul, was shed.

Lord, I believe were sinners more
Than sands upon the ocean shore,
Thou hast for all a ransom paid,
For all a full atonement made.

When from the dust of death I rise
To claim my mansion in the skies,
Ev’n then this shall be all my plea,
Jesus hath lived, hath died, for me.

This spotless robe the same appears,
When ruined nature sinks in years;
No age can change its glorious hue,
The robe of Christ is ever new.

Jesus, the endless praise to Thee,
Whose boundless mercy hath for me—
For me a full atonement made,
An everlasting ransom paid.

O let the dead now hear Thy voice;
Now bid Thy banished ones rejoice;
Their beauty this, their glorious dress,
Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness.

-Nikolaus L. von Zin­zen­dorf

Sing, oh sing, of my Redeemer,
With His blood, He purchased me.
On the cross, He sealed my pardon,
Paid the debt, and made me free.

-Philip Bliss

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure;
Save from wrath and make me pure.

Not the labor of my hands
Can fulfill Thy law’s demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and Thou alone.

Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to the cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die.

While I draw this fleeting breath,
When mine eyes shall close in death,
When I soar to worlds unknown,
See Thee on Thy judgment throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee.

-Augustus Toplady

For nothing good have I
Whereby Thy grace to claim,
I’ll wash my garments white
In the blood of Calv’ry’s Lamb.

And now complete in Him
My robe His righteousness,
Close sheltered ’neath His side,
I am divinely blest.

Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.

-Elvina M. Hall

Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt!
Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured,
There where the blood of the Lamb was spilled.

Dark is the stain that we cannot hide.
What can avail to wash it away?
Look! There is flowing a crimson tide,
Brighter than snow you may be today.

Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin.

-Julia H. Johnston

I love Thee because Thou has first loved me,
And purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree.
I love Thee for wearing the thorns on Thy brow;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

-Will­iam R. Fea­ther­ston

J. Gresham Machen: A high view of the Law is neccesary for a proper understanding of the Gospel

A new and more powerful proclamation of law is perhaps the most pressing need of the hour; men would have little difficulty with the gospel if they had only learned the lesson of the law.

As it is, they are turning aside from the Christian pathway; they are turning to the village of Morality, and to the house of Mr. Legality, who is reported to be very skillful in relieving men of their burdens…

‘Making Christ Master’ in the life, putting into practice ‘the principles of Christ’ by one’s own efforts-these are merely new ways of earning salvation by one’s obedience to God’s commands…

So it always is; a low view of law always brings legalism in religion; a high view of law makes a man a seeker after grace. Pray God that the high view may again prevail. (J. Gresham Machen, What is Faith?, pp. 141-142)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

John Murray: Eternity will not exhuast the wonder and glory of Christ's atoning sacrifice

The lost will eternally suffer in the satisfaction of justice. But they will never satisfy it. Christ satisfied justice. “The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isa. 53:6). He was made sin and he was made a curse. He bore our iniquities. He bore the unrelieved and unmitigated damnation of sin, and he finished it. That is the spectacle that confronts us in Gethsemane and on Calvary. … Here we are spectators of a wonder the praise and glory of which eternity will not exhaust. It is the Lord of glory, the Son of God incarnate, the God-man, drinking the cup given him by the eternal Father, the cup of woe and of indescribable agony. We almost hesitate to say so. But it must be said. It is God in our nature forsaken of God. The cry from the accursed tree evinces nothing less than the abandonment endured vicariously because he bore our sins in his own body on the tree. There is no analogy. He himself bore our sins and of the people there was none with him. There is no reproduction or parallel in the experience of archangels or of the greatest saints. The faintest parallel would crush the holiest of men and the mightiest of the angelic host (John Murray, Redemption Accomplished and Applied, pp. 77-78. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1955).

Thought and expression stagger in the presence of the spectacle that confronts us in the vicarious sin-bearing of the Lord of glory. Here we must realize that we are dealing with the mystery of godliness, and eternity will not reach the bottom of it nor exhaust its praise. Yet it is ours to proclaim it and continue the attempt to expound and defend its truth (p. 5).

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

John Murray: When we understand the nature of the atonement, we see that it was limited in intent and extent but not in efficacy, perfection, or power

The question is: on whose behalf did Christ offer himself a sacrifice? On whose behalf did he propitiate the wrath of God? Whom did he reconcile to God in the body of his flesh through death? Whom did he redeem from the curse of the law, from the guilt and power of sin, from the enthralling power and bondage of Satan? In whose stead and on whose behalf was he obedient unto death, even the death of the cross? These are precisely the questions that have to be asked and frankly faced if the matter of the extent of the atonement is to be placed in proper focus. ... The question is precisely the reference of the death of Christ when this death is viewed as vicarious death, that is to say, as vicarious obedience, as substitutionary sacrifice, and expiation, as effective propitiation, reconciliation, and redemption. In a word, it is the strict and proper connotation of the expression "died for" that must be kept in mind (John Murray, Redemption Accomplished and Applied, p. 62. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1955).

... Did Christ come to make the salvation of all men possible, to remove obstacles that stood in the way of salvation, and merely to make provision for salvation? Or did he come to save his people? Did he come to put all men in a salvable state? Or did he come to secure the salvation of all those who are ordained to eternal life? Did he come to make men redeemable? Or did he come effectually and infallibly to redeem? (p. 63)

... The saving efficacy of expiation, propitiation, reconciliation, and redemption is too deeply embedded in these concepts, and we dare not eliminate this efficacy. ... Whether the expression "limited atonement" is good or not we must reckon with the fact that unless we believe in the final restoration of all men we cannot have an unlimited atonement. If we universalize the extent we limit the efficacy (p. 64).

... It is necessary for us to discover what redemption or atonement really means. And when we examine the Scripture we find that the glory of the cross of Christ is bound up with the effectiveness of its accomplishment. Christ redeemed us to God by his blood, he gave himself a ransom that he might deliver us from all iniquity. The atonement is efficacious substitution (p. 75).

Read about Murray's analysis of the nature of the atonement to more fully understand why Christ's work of obedience, expiation, propitiation, reconciliation, and redemption; are inescapably limited to believers.

Monday, June 14, 2010

R.J. Rushdoony: God's sovereignty and predestination vs. sacramentalism and baptismal regeneration

The conflict between God and man over the issue of sovereignty comes about in various ways. An important instance of the clash can be found in the rise of English Arminianism between c. 1590 and 1640. The basic problem was one of predestination versus sacramentalism, or, more specifically, predestination versus baptismal regeneration. If God saves man by His sovereign predestinating grace, then baptism is an outward witness to an inner grace, and to God's covenant promise. It witnesses to the fact that God has a covenant of grace with His people. It is, according to chapter 27 of the Westminster Confession, "a sign and seal of the covenant of grace." It witnesses to what God has promised and to what God has done; it is not itself the ingrafting into Christ, or regeneration, or remission of sins, but a witness to what God in His sovereign grace does. The salvation is from God, not from the rite nor the church. The Larger Catechism, A. 165 says of baptism,
Baptism is a sacrament of the New Testament, wherein Christ has ordained the washing with water in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, to be a sign and seal of ingrafting into himself, of remission of sins by his blood, and regeneration by his Spirit; of adoption, and resurrection unto everlasting life; and whereby the parties baptized are solemnly admitted into the visible church, and enter into an open and professed engagement to be wholly and only the Lord's.
Behind a man's baptism there stands God's sovereign decree, and Christ's atonement in satisfaction of God's justice. To affirm baptismal regeneration means to transfer the saving power from the Lord who ordains baptism to the rite itself, and to the church which performs the rite. (R.J. Rushdoony, Sovereignty, p. 72)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

R.J. Rushdoony: We tend to move from gratitude for grace into autonomous expectations of entitlement

Louis XIV, after the fearful defeat of his army at Ramillies, said, "God seems to have forgotten all I have done for him." Men are ready to affirm salvation by grace, and then to believe that they have now merited various blessings. Men and women marry, feeling at first privileged to have one another, and then their lives become one of expectations and demands; they expect to be loved rather than loving. Men feel elated at getting a prized position but are then resentful that they are not showered with advantages for doing their work. The economy of our lives shifts easily from grace to expectations. Since man's original sin is to believe that he can be his own god, and his own source of law and order (Gen. 3:5), all men readily forget grace and live in terms of their expectations of God and man. The peace offering, and the many psalms which echo it, requires us to live in gratitude towards God and in community with one another. (Rushdoony, Commentary on Leviticus, p. 66).