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What is it that is effected and brought forth by the regenerative activity of God in the human heart? Scripture describes this product of the re-creating grace of God with various words and images. It describes it as a circumcised heart (Deut. 30:6; Rom. 2:29), a pure heart and a firm spirit (Ps. 51:17), a heart of flesh instead of a heart of stone (Jer. 31:33ff.; Ezek. 11:19; 36:25), a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17), God’s workmanship (Rom. 14:20; Eph. 2:10), a new self (Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10 NRSV), a new life (Rom. 6:11; Eph. 2:5; Col. 3:3), and so forth. … Humans, who originally were the image of God, lived and experienced blessedness in communion with God, lost that life, and were subject in soul and body to corruption. Sin began with an act but penetrated the very nature of humans and corrupted them totally. It may not be a substance, but it is not merely an act either. It is an inner moral corruption of the whole person, not only of one’s thoughts, words, and deeds but also of one’s intellect and will; and again not only of these faculties but also of the human heart, from which all iniquities flow, of the central inner core, the root of one’s existence, the human self. And for that reason, according to Scripture, regeneration consists and can exist in nothing less than the total renewal and re-creation of human beings. If humans are radically evil, then, for their redemption, a rebirth of their entire being is indispensable. A tree must first be made good if it is ever to bear good fruit, for “functioning follows being.”

Source: Herman Bavinck, Volume 4. Holy Spirit, Church and New Creation, Part I The Spirit gives New Life to Believers Chapter 1 Calling and Regeneration ‘Becoming Spiritual Persons’

 

To be a mediator, to be a complete Savior, He had to be appointed by the Father to all three (Prophet, Priest, King) and equipped by the Spirit for all three offices.

The truth is that the idea of humanness already encompasses within itself this threefold dignity and activity. Human beings have a head to know, a heart to give themselves, a hand to govern and to lead; corresponding, they were in the beginning equipped by God with knowledge and understanding, with righteousness and holiness, with dominion and glory (blessedness). The sin that corrupted human beings infected all their capacities and consisted not only in ignorance, folly, error, lies, blindness, darkness but also in unrighteousness, guilt, moral degradation, and further in misery, death, and ruin. Therefore, Christ, both as the Son and as the image of God, for Himself and also as our Mediator and Savior, had to bear all three offices.

He had to be a prophet to know and disclose the truth of God. He had to be a priest, to devote Himself to God and, in our place, to offer Himself up to God. He had to be a king, to govern and protect us according to God’s will. To teach, to reconcile, and to lead; to instruct, to acquire, and to apply salvation; wisdom, righteousness, and redemption; truth, love, and power – all three are essential to the completeness of our salvation.

In Christ’s God-to-Humanity relation, He is a prophet; In His Humanity-to-God relation He is a priest; in His headship over all humanity He is a king … Scripture, consistently and simultaneously attributing all three offices to him, describes Him as our chief prophet, our only [high] priest, and our eternal king. Though a King, He rules not by the sword, but by His Word and Spirit. He is a Prophet, but His Word is power and [really] happens. He is a Priest, but lives by dying, conquers by suffering, and is all-powerful by His love. He is always all these things in conjunction, never the one without the other: mighty in speech and actions as a king and full of grace and truth in his royal rule.

Source: Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Volume Three: Sin and Salvation in Christ, Christ’s Humiliation, Christ’s Threefold Office p. 367-36

 

Through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.—The great blessing of justification is described above as proceeding from the free grace of God, which is the fountain from whence flow pardon, righteousness, and salvation, excluding all works, whether before or after faith. Here it is referred to the meritorious price provided by God, and that is the redemption which is in Christ Jesus For though it comes freely to man, yet it is through the redemption or purchase of the Son of God.

 The word redemption signifies a buying back, and necessarily supposes an alienation of what is redeemed. In general, it imports a deliverance effected by a price, and sometimes a deliverance by power. In this last sense it is said, “Now these are Thy servants, and Thy people, whom Thou hast redeemed by Thy great power,” Nehemiah 1:10. “I will redeem you with a stretched out arm,” Exodus 6:6; Psalm 77:15. The resurrection of the body by an act of Divine power is called a redemption, Psalm 49:15; Romans 8:23. But, more generally, redemption signifies, in Scripture, deliverance by price, as that of slaves, or prisoners, or persons condemned, when they are delivered from slavery, captivity, or death, by means of a ransom. …

In every place in Scripture where our redemption in Christ is mentioned, there is an allusion to the law of redemption among the Jews. This law is contained in Leviticus 25, where we and regulations laid down for a twofold redemption, a redemption of persons and a redemption of possessions. The redemption of possessions or inheritances is regulated, Leviticus 25:23–28, and that of persons, from verse 47 to the end of the chapter. In both these cases, none had a right to redeem but either the person himself who had made the alienation, or some other that was near of kin to him. But none of Adam’s family ever was, or ever will be, able to redeem himself or others. … From the sentence of death and the slavery of sin, it was impossible for any of them ever to have been set free, if Christ had not paid the ransom of His blood. But He, the Son of God, having from all eternity undertaken the work of redemption of those whom God gave Him, and being substituted by the everlasting covenant which God made with Him in their place, the right of redemption was vested in Him, by virtue of His covenant relation to them. And that nothing might be wanting either to constitute Him their legal kinsman–Redeemer, or to evidence Him to be so, He took on Him their nature, and in that nature paid their ransom to the last mite. Thus He performs the part of the Redeemer of His people, redeeming them from slavery and from death, and redeeming for them that inheritance which they had forfeited, and which they could not redeem for themselves.

 

forfeited, and which they could not redeem for themselves.

 

While God pardons, He by no means clears the guilty. His people are absolved, because they are righteous; they have fulfilled the law, and suffered its penalty, in the death and obedience of Jesus Christ, with whom they are one. … The penalty and the precept are fulfilled in Jesus Christ the surety. HALDANE, ROMANS

The verb justify means to declare righteous … no legal fiction but a legal reality of the upmost significance, to be justified means to be acquitted by God from all charges that could be brought against a person because of his or her sins. MOO 227

And it is always better to fall into the hands of the Lord than into those of people, for his mercy is great. For when God condemns us, he at the same time offers his forgiving love in Christ, but when people condemn people, they frequently cast them out and make them the object of scorn. When God condemns us, he has this judgment brought to us by people—prophets and apostles and ministers—who do not elevate themselves to a level high above us but include themselves with us in a common confession of guilt. By contrast, philosophers and moralists, in despising people, usually forget that they themselves are human.

Source: Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Volume 3, Chapter 2 (pp. 124-125)

Original pollution is a punishment for original guilt. … Scripture frequently speaks along those lines and regards consequent sins as punishment for previous sins (2 Sam. 12: 11-12; 1 Kings 11:11-31; 22:30fF.; Isa. 6:9-10; 7:17; 105-7; 14B; Jer. 50:6-8; Rom. 1:24-28; 2 Thess. 2:11-12; etc.). Also human sins are subject to God’s government; the laws and ordinances that apply to the life of sin have been laid down and are being maintained by him. And to that category of laws belongs also this one: "The curse of an evil deed is above all that it must continually give birth to evil." The nature of sin is such that it progressively renders sinners more foolish and hard, entangles them ever more firmly in its snares, and propels them ever more rapidly down a slippery slope toward the abyss. It is true that sin, viewed by itself, can never be a punishment for sin, for the two are essentially different and opposed to each other. Sin arises from the will, and people undergo punishment against their will. Sin is a violation of the law; punishment an act of upholding the law. God is the author of punishment, not of sin. Still, a subsequent sin may be called a punishment for a prior sin, since it distances the sinner even further away from God, makes him more wretched, and abandons him co all sorts of covetousness and passion, dread and remorse.

According to this law, in the case of Adam and all his descendants, a sinful state followed the sinful deed. The picture Pelagians have of this is that an act of the will, whatever it is, has absolutely no consequences. The will that did wrong the one moment can, a moment later, if it so pleases, again do good. In this view, the will never has a fixed nature, a determinate character, and never attains one; it is and remains neutral, indifferent, without any inner bias, always situated between opposites and focusing, with incalculable caprice, now in one and now in another direction. But such a view is contradicted from all directions. In the case Of Adam and Eve, When they violated God’s command, an enormous moral change occurred. Shame and dread before God took possession of them. Serenity, peace, and innocence were gone; they hid from God in the trees of the garden and blamed each other. Cain committed fratricide. And soon the Lord saw that the wickedness of humans was great on the earth, and all the imaginations of the thoughts of their heart were evil from their youth. In Adam’s trespass an appalling degeneration of the human race had its inception. We are here confronting a horrible reality whose explanation escapes us. How can it be that one single sin had such dreadful consequences and brought about such a radical reversal in the nature of humans?

Generally speaking, we can begin by saying that frequently in life the relation between an act and its consequences seems to us to be totally disproportionate. One hour of thoughtlessness can produce a lifetime of tears. A small error, a single misstep can radically change the direction of the lives of numerous people. Seemingly insignificant incidents have an aftermath that lasts for generations. Our happiness or unhappiness often hangs by the thread of a single "chance" event. Adam’s one trespass brought about an overall change in the thoughts, attitudes, and inclinations of his whole nature. Experience teaches us, after all, that no matter what people do, the act to some degree boomerangs on them and leaves tracks on their character. At bottom nothing is indifferent, and nothing passes us by without a trace. Every act of the will, arising as it does from antecedent impulses and desires, has a retroactive impact on it and reinforces it. In that way every sin can become a habit, a tendentious pattern, a passion that controls a person like a tyrant. Humans are changeable, extraordinarily moldable, and pliable. They adapt themselves to all occasions; they accommodate themselves to every kind of environment; they get used to everything and orient themselves to all fashions. Those who commit sins become the servants of sin. A crime, a lie, a theft, a murder never vanishes with the moment in which it has been committed. In a similar way but on a much larger scale, the disobedience of Adam changed his entire nature.

Source: Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Volume 3, Chapter 2 (pp. 106-1078)

This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: "In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.

You said, ‘No, we will flee on horses.’ Therefore you will flee! You said, ‘We will ride off on swift horses.’ Therefore your pursuers will be swift!

A thousand will flee at the threat of one; at the threat of five you will all flee away, till you are left like a flagstaff on a mountaintop, like a banner on a hill."

Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!

(Isaiah 30:15-18)

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