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"God is so great that according to his eternal purposes … no sin can frustrate the Lord of his purpose. … Almighty God in his eternal purpose of election and salvation actually rides high and sinlessly on the sins of his saints having dealt with them by precious blood and by the fire – the purging fire of the Holy Spirit … The sinners are transformed into instruments of his holy will."

(William Still)

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Preaching

… in the language of earlier generations of preachers, to both wound and heal, sing and sting, disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed.

Source: Capill, The Heart is the Target p.19

He even repeatedly presents the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as a reward (Matt. 19:29; 25:34, 46) that is already stored up in heaven now (5: 12; 6:20; 19:21; Luke 6:23) and will be distributed at the resurrection (14:14). And that reward will be paid for all sorts of works: for enduring persecution and disgrace (Matt. 5: 10-12), loving one’s enemies (5:46), giving alms (6:4), perseverance (10:22), confessing Jesus’s name (10:32), service to his disciples (10:41-42), giving up everything and leaving it behind (19:21, 29), working in the vineyard (20:1-16), faithfulness in one’s vocation careful management of the goods entrusted to us (25:14-30), mercy toward the disciples of Jesus and so forth. There is therefore no doubt whatever that Jesus uses the idea of reward as an incentive to spur his disciples toward faithfulness and perseverance in the pursuit of their calling. … works. Although salvation is granted to all believers, there will be differences in glory among them, depending on their works (Matt. 10:41; 18:4; 20:16; 25:14ff.).  In Scripture, therefore, both in the New and in the Old Testament, there is a close connection between sanctification and glorification. What is sown here is harvested in eternity (Matt. 25:24, 26; I Cor. 15:42ff.; 2 Cor. 9:6; Gal. 6:7-8).

Source: Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Volume Four: Holy Spirit, Church and New Creation, Sanctification and Perseverance, Holiness as Gift and Reward, pp. 234-236

To correctly assess the benefit of justification, people must lift up their minds to the judgment seat of God and put themselves in his presence. When they compare themselves with others or measure themselves by the standard that they apply to themselves or among each other, they have some reason perhaps to pride themselves in something and to put their trust in it. But when they put themselves before the face of God and examine themselves in the mirror of his holy law, all their conceit collapses, all self-confidence melts, and there is room left only for the prayer: "Enter not into judgment with your servant, for no one living is righteous before you" (Job 4:17-19; 9:2; 15: 14-16; Ps. 143:2; cf. 130:3), and their only comfort is that "there is forgiveness before you, so that you may be revered" (Ps. 130:4). If for insignificant, guilty, and impure persons there is to be a possibility of true religion, that is, of genuine fellowship with God, of salvation and eternal life, then God on his part must reestablish the broken bond, again take them into fellowship with him and share his grace with them, regardless of their guilt and corruption. He, then, must descend from the height of his majesty, seek us out and come to us, take away our guilt and again open the way to his fatherly heart. If God were to wait until we—by our faith, our virtues, and good works of congruity or condignity—had made ourselves worthy, in part or in whole, to receive his favor, the restoration of communion between him and ourselves would never happen, and salvation would forever be out of reach for us.

… In the past, Reformed theologians put it as follows: The Father justifies effectively; the Son, meritoriously; the Holy Spirit, applicationally. And to complete the picture at once, let us add: faith apprehends, the sacraments seal, and works declare. (B. de Moor, Comm. theol., IV, 562.)

Source: Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Volume Four: Holy Spirit, Church and New Creation, Justification, Justification is Forensic, Not Ethical, pp. 204-205

Union with Christ

The purpose of election is very comprehensive. It is the purpose of God to bring his people to holiness, sonship, and eternal glory. He never intended to do this irrespective of Christ. On the contrary it was his purpose, as revealed in Scripture, to bring his people to these exalted privileges through a Redeemer. It was in Christ as their head and representative they were chosen to holiness and eternal life, and therefore in virtue of what he was to do in their behalf. There is a federal union with Christ which is antecedent to all actual union, and is the source of it. God gave a people to his Son in the covenant of redemption. Those included in that covenant, and because they are included in it—in other words, because they are in Christ as their head and representative—receive in time the gift of the Holy Spirit and all other benefits of redemption. Their voluntary union with Christ by faith, is not the ground of their federal union, but, on the contrary, their federal union is the ground of their voluntary union. It is, therefore, in Christ, i.e. as united to him in the covenant of redemption, that the people of God are elected to eternal life and to all the blessings therewith connected.

In whom we have redemption … We are not self-redeemed. Christ is our Redeemer.

Source: Charles Hodge, Ephesians

 

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

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