Archive for the ‘Bavinck, Herman’ Category

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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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)

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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)

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Justification, the outstanding blessing of salvation, is the Triune God’s counterintuitive gift of forensic acquittal and right status, an end-time decision announced now in the middle of history, consisting of Christ’s own righteous obedience freely imputed to sinners united to Christ through self-divesting and Christ-riveted faith.

source: Dane Ortlund after several moths of pondering Herman Bavinck’s writings on justification. His attempt at a single (run-on) sentence articulating Bavinck’s view. http://hermanbavinck.org/2011/04/06/bavinck-on-justification/

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First God calls people to Himself, enabling them to hear and understand the gospel.

Then He graciously gives those He calls the free gifts of repentance and faith.

God produces both creation and new creation by his Word and Spirit. … he calls all things into being out of nothing … by the word of his almighty power he again raises up the fallen world.

source: Bavinck, ‘The Call of God’ vol. 4 p.33.

We are told in Romans 11 that Israel-according-to-the-flesh have experienced a hardening of heart in relation to the gospel. We are also told that one day Israel-according-to-the-flesh will turn in mass to Christ. What break will break the repeated cycle of centuries of rejection?

The answer is found in Zechariah 12:10 "And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn."

In other words, the saving of Israel-according-to-the-flesh will occur when God intervenes to break the centuries of rejection. He will do this by three actions:

1. Pouring out of his Spirit which will cause

2. Israel to look on God/Christ whom they have pierced which in turn will cause

3. genuine mourning and repentance

Not repent – look to Jesus – receive Spirit.

Rather Spirit poured out (regenerating, overcoming resistance) – looking to Jesus – repenting.

The same pattern is discernable in individuals.

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“Just as the caterpillar becomes a butterfly, as carbon is converted into diamond, as the grain of wheat upon dying in the ground produces other grains of wheat, as all of nature revives in the spring and dresses up in celebrative clothing, as the believing community is formed out of Adam’s fallen race, as the resurrection body is raised from the body that is dead and buried in the earth, so too, by the re-creating power of Christ, the new heaven and the new earth will one day emerge from the fire-purged elements of this world, radiant in enduring glory and forever set free from the ‘bondage to decay.’”


From Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, 4:720

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Interesting to think about these being the three ways God communicates in the Bible. In each case Jesus is the climax of God’s special revelation since he is the ultimate theophany, prophet and miracle worker. And now for Bavinck …

A frequent mode of biblical revelation is a perceptible divine presence, a theophany (angelophany). These manifestations do not presuppose God corporeality nor are they emanations of the divine Being. These appearances can be impersonal presence (wind, fire) or via personal beings (angels). Among God’s envoys the Messenger of God occupies a special place. This theophany is still incomplete; theophany reaches its climax in Jesus Christ.

Prophecy, or “inspiration, “is another mode of revelation; in it God communicates his thoughts to human beings. This address can be an audible voice, a dream, a vision, or a communication by casting lots (Urim and Thummim). …

While the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament comes upon a person momentarily, it is not until the New Testament that the supreme and definitive prophet makes his appearance. While some individual believers are still equipped by the Holy Spirit for the office of prophet, it is more important to underscore the universal prophetic task of all believers. Prophecy as a special gift is destined to pass away in the New Jerusalem.

In miracles God reveals himself by his works. Word and deed go together; God’s word is an act, and his activity is speech. God’s works are first to be observed in creation and providence, which are an ongoing work and miracle. A distinction must be maintained, however, between the ordinary order of nature and extraordinary deeds of divine power. In a special way, the later are miracles, God doing something new. Thus the history of salvation is replete with miracles until the consummation. The anticipation of this final glory can be seen in the powerful signs of the kingdom performed by Jesus as acts of healing and restoring creation. When Christianity became established, God began to manifest his power and glory in spiritual miracles. …

God’s self-revelation to us does not come in bits and pieces; it is an organic whole, a grand narrative from creation to consummation. All nature and history testify to God the Creator; all things return to him. Fallen humanity sees this revelation only in part and with blinded eyes. A special revelation is needed that is provided in grace. …

source: Bavinck, Herman. Reformed Dogmatics. Vol. 1: Prolegomena (Special Revelation) page 323-324

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