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Duty of Gratitude for Divine Grace: Covenant of Grace- Book Seventh- Chapter 2

Book Seventh

CHAPTER II.

COVENANT OF GRACE.

THE THREE DIVINE PERSONS CO-OPERATE IN MAN’S SALVATION ACCORDING TO AN ETERNAL COVENANT.[1]

On a former occasion, it was shown that the Scriptures use the term covenant with great latitude of meaning. The propriety of its use in the present case, cannot well be questioned. We have three divine persons, who are parties in this covenant; and the doctrine of God’s unity cannot exclude the notion of a covenant, without, at the same time, excluding the distinction of persons in the Godhead. We are not to imagine, as included in this covenant transaction, a proposal of terms by one party, and a deliberation, followed with an acceptance or rejection of them, by the other parties. These things occur, in the making of human covenants, because of the imperfection of the parties. In condescension to our weakness, the Scriptures use language taken from the affairs of men. They speak as if a formal proposal had been made, at the creation of man, addressed by one of the parties to the others: “Let us make man:” but this is in accommodation to our modes of conception. An agreement and co-operation of the divine persons, in the creation of man, is what is taught in this passage. This agreement and co-operation extend to all the works of God: “Who worketh all things after the counsel of his will.”[2] The idea of counsel in all these works, accords with that of consultation which is presented in the account of man’s creation. In every work of God, the divine persons must either agree or disagree. As they alike possess infinite wisdom, disagreement among them is impossible. The salvation of men is a work of God, in which the divine persons concur. It is performed according to an eternal purpose; and in this purpose, as well as in the work, the divine persons concur; and this concurrence is their eternal covenant. The purpose of the one God, is the covenant of the Trinity.

In the work of salvation, the divine persons co-operate in different offices; and these are so clearly revealed, as to render the personal distinction in the Godhead more manifest, than it is in any other of God’s works. Beyond doubt, these official relations are severally held, by the perfect agreement of all; and, speaking after the manner of men, the adjustment of these relations, and the assignment of the several parts in the work, are the grand stipulations of the eternal covenant.

That the covenant is eternal, may be argued from the eternity, unchangeableness, and omniscience of the parties, and from the declarations of Scripture which directly or indirectly relate to it: “Through the blood of the everlasting covenant.”[3] “His eternal purpose in Christ Jesus.”[4] “In hope of eternal life promised before the world began.”[5] “Grace given in Christ Jesus before the world began.”[6]

Although God’s purpose is one, we are obliged, according to our modes of conception, to view it, and speak of it, as consisting of various parts. So, the eternal covenant is one; but it is revealed to us in a manner adapted to our conceptions and to our spiritual benefit. The work of redemption by Christ is presented in the Gospel as the great object of our faith; and the stipulation for the accomplishment of this work, is the prominent point exhibited in the revelation which is made to us respecting the covenant of grace. The agreement between the Father and the Son is conspicuously brought to view, in various parts of the sacred volume: “Thine they were, and thou gavest them me.”[7] “Ask of me, and I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.”[8] “Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire. Then said I, Lo, I come, in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O God:”[9] and in Isaiah, chapter xlix., the stipulations between the Father and the Son are presented, almost as if they had been copied from an original record of the transaction.

According to the covenant arrangement, the Son appeared in human nature, in the form of a servant; and, after obeying unto death, was exalted by the Father to supreme dominion. The Holy Spirit also is revealed as acting in a subordinate office; but appears as sustaining the full authority of the Godhead, sending the Son, giving him a people to be redeemed, prescribing the terms, accepting the service, rewarding and glorifying the Son, and sending the Holy Spirit. In all this the Father appears as the representative of the Godhead, in its authority and majesty. The Son also sustains a representative character. The promise of eternal life was made, before the world began, to the people of God, in him as their representative. The reconciliation between God and men is provided for by the covenant engagement between the Father and the Son; the Father acting as the representative of the Godhead, and the Son as the representative and surety of his people. The Holy Spirit concurs in this arrangement, and takes his part in the work, in harmony with the other persons of the Godhead. His peculiar office is necessary to complete the plan, and to reward the obedience of the Son by the salvation of his redeemed people. The promises of the Father to the Son include the gift of the Holy Spirit; and, therefore, the sending of the Spirit is attributed to the Son;[10] and sometimes to the Father at the petition of the Son.[11]

In this order of operation, inferiority of nature is not implied, in the subordination of office to which the Son and the Spirit voluntarily consent. The fullness of the Godhead dwells in each of the divine persons, and renders the fulfillment of the covenant infallibly sure, in all its stipulations. The Holy Spirit, in the execution of his office, dwells in believers; but he brings with him the fullness of the Godhead, so that God is in them, and they are the temple of God, and filled with the fullness of God. The Son or Word, in the execution of his office, becomes the man Jesus Christ; but the fullness of the Godhead dwells in him; so that, in his deepest humiliation he is God manifest in the flesh, God over all, blessed for ever.

The order of operation in this mysterious and wonderful economy, can be learned from divine revelation only. Here we should study it with simple faith, relying on the testimony of God. In the representation of it here exhibited, we may discover that the blessings of grace, proceeding from God, appear to originate in the Father, “of whom are all things,” to be conferred through the Son, “by whom are all things,” and by the Spirit, who is the immediate agent in bestowing them, the last in the order of operation. The approach to God, in acts of devotion, is in the reverse order. The Spirit makes intercession in the saints, moving them, as a spirit of supplication, and assisting their infirmities, when they know not what to pray for. Their prayers are offered through Christ, as the medium of approach; and the Father, as the highest representative of the Godhead, is the ultimate object of the worship. Through him [Christ] we have access by one Spirit to the Father.[12] The Spirit moves us to honor the Son and the Father: and for this purpose takes of the things of Christ and shows them to us, that we may believe in him, and through him approach the Father. In this work he acts for the whole Godhead, and therefore his drawing is ascribed to the Father: “No man can come to me, except the Father, which hath sent me, draw him.”[13] When we come to Jesus Christ, the whole Godhead meets us again in the person of the Mediator: for “God is in Christ reconciling the world unto himself.”[14] And when we address the Father, as the ultimate object of our worship, the whole Godhead is there, and receives our adorations. In the covenant of grace, the triune God is so presented to the view of the believer, that he may worship without distraction of thought, with full confidence of acceptance, and with clear perception that God is to him all and in all. In the retirement of the closet, the devotional man addresses God as present in the secret place, and holds communion with him, as a friend near at hand. When he comes forth into the busy world, he sees God all around him, in the heavens, and in the earth; and holds converse with him in this different manifestation of himself. When he lifts his thoughts to the high and holy place where God’s throne is, and prays, “Our Father which art in heaven,” his mind is directed to the highest and most glorious manifestation of the Deity. In all this he suffers no distraction of thought. The same omnipresent One is addressed, whether conceived to be in the closet, or in the world, or in the highest heavens. With equal freedom from distraction we may worship the Infinite One, whether we approach him as the Holy Spirit, operating on the heart; or as the Son, the Mediator between God and men; or as the Father, representing the full authority and majesty of the Godhead. We worship God, and God alone, whether our devotions are directed to the Father, the Son, or the Holy Spirit; for the divine essence, undivided and indivisible, belongs to each of the three persons.

To guard against mistake, it should be observed, that the covenant which we have been considering is not identical with the new covenant of which Paul speaks in the epistle to the Hebrews. The latter made, according to the prophecy which he quotes, “with the house of Israel and the house of Judah;”[15] whereas the covenant of which we have treated, is not made with man. There is, however, a close connection between them. In the eternal covenant, promises are made to the Son, as the representative of his people: in the new covenant, these promises are made to them personally, and, in part, fulfilled to them. The promises are made to them: “I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:”[16] and they are, in part, fulfilled. “I will put my law in their minds, and write it in their hearts.”

[1] Ps. ii. 8; xl. 6–8; lxxxix. 3; Isaiah xlix. 3–12; John xvii. 6; Heb. xiii. 20; Titus i. 2.

[2] Eph. i. 11.

[3] Heb. xiii. 20.

[4] Eph. iii. 11.

[5] Tit. i. 2.

[6] 2 Tim. i. 9.

[7] John xvii. 6.

[8] Ps. ii. 8.

[9] Ps. xl. 6–18.

[10] John xvi. 7.

[11] John xiv. 16.

[12] Eph. ii. 18.

[13] John vi. 44.

[14] 2 Cor. v. 19.

[15] Heb. viii. 8.

[16] Heb. viii. 10.

John L. Dagg- Manual of Theology

Duty of Gratitude for Divine Grace: The Trinity- Book Seventh- Chapter 1

Book Seventh

CHAPTER I.

THE TRINITY.

THE FATHER, SON, AND HOLY SPIRIT, ARE THREE PERSONS IN ONE DIVINE ESSENCE.[1]

The unity of God is a fundamental doctrine of religion; and no doctrine can be true which is inconsistent with it. All admit that the Father is God; and we have seen that the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, according to the teachings of the sacred Scriptures. To reconcile the proper deity of these three, with the strict unity of God, is a matter of great difficulty. All admit that they cannot be three and one in the same respect; and divines have usually held that they are three in person, and one in essence.

The doctrine of a three-fold distinction in the Godhead, belongs especially to the economy of grace, and is therefore more clearly revealed in the New Testament than in the Old. Some intimations of it, however, may be found in the Hebrew Scriptures. In the very first verse of the Bible, the name of God is plural, and the verb “created,” with which it is construed, is singular. This countenances the opinion, that there is plurality as well as unity in the Godhead. But since words which are plural in form, are sometimes used to denote objects which are singular, this argument for a plurality in the Godhead cannot be regarded as in itself conclusive. It derives strength, however, from two considerations: 1. The Hebrew scriptures guard the doctrine of God’s unity with great care; and if all plurality were inconsistent with it, this important purpose of the revelation made to the Hebrews, would have been better subserved if none but singular names for the deity had been admitted, yet plural names are very commonly employed. And in one remarkable case, the Hebrew name Elohim, is used in an express declaration of the divine unity. “Hear, O Israel, Jehovah, our Elohim, is one Jehovah.”[2] Why was the plural name here introduced? The declaration of the divine unity would have been complete without it. If it was introduced to guard against an improper inference from the use of plural names, it shows the use of such names to have been dangerous, and therefore difficult to reconcile with the wisdom of revelation. If the name Jehovah be understood to refer to the divine essence; and the name Elohim, to the three divine persons; the passage may be interpreted consistently and beautifully, and it becomes an explicit declaration of the New Testament doctrine. 2. The Hebrew scriptures contain other intimations of a plurality in the Godhead. Plural pronouns are applied to God, and consultation is attributed to him. “Let us make man.”[3] “Let us go down and confound their language.”[4] A consultation with created beings cannot here be supposed. The opinion that God spoke in these cases, after the pompous manner of eastern monarchs, besides being, on other accounts, wholly improbable, is completely set aside, by the passage, “Behold, the man is become as one of us.”[5] No eastern monarch ever spoke of his individual unity, in this style. No consistent interpretation of this language can be given, without admitting a plurality in the Godhead; and this admission explains the use of plural names for God.

That the plurality in the Godhead is three-fold, has been inferred from the three-fold ascription of holiness[6] to God, and the three-fold benediction of the High Priest.[7] A more satisfactory argument is derived from passages in which the three divine persons are distinctly brought to view.[8]

This doctrine is more clearly revealed in the New Testament. In the formula of Christian baptism it is clearly exhibited.[9] We are baptised into one name, because God is one; but that is the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, because it belongs alike to each of these divine persons. Here, this doctrine meets us, at our very entrance on the profession of the Christian religion. If Christ was not God, he was justly condemned to death, and his religion is false; and the Holy Spirit, the Comforter whom he promised, is as little entitled to regard as he was. If Christ and the Holy Spirit are not God, the form of baptism should be rejected, as of a piece with the false religion into which it introduces us. No man can consistently receive Christian baptism, without believing the doctrine of the Trinity.

We have spoken of this doctrine as belonging especially to the economy of grace. It is here that it is most clearly unfolded to our view, and without this doctrine, the covenant of grace, and its developments in the great work of salvation, cannot be understood. Yet there are fainter exhibitions of the doctrine in the works of God. This is true of creation. The consultation at the creation of man has already been noticed, as a proof of plurality in the Godhead. Moses says, “The Spirit of God moved on the face of the waters.” Job says, “By his Spirit he garnished the heavens.” John says, “By him (the Word) all things were made.”[10] All the divine persons, therefore, were concerned in creation: and other passages teach that they are also concerned in providence.[11]

The most sober-minded divines admit that there is incomprehensible mystery in the doctrine of the Trinity. All attempts to explain it have failed. Two methods which have been proposed to bring it within our comprehension, deserve special notice.

Some who are called Sabellians, maintain, that the distinction between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, is official and not personal. They hold that God is one in person, as well as in essence; but that he manifests himself in three different ways, and that the three different names denote these three modes of manifestation. This simplifies the doctrine; but it does not accord with the Scriptures. According to this view of the doctrine, we might paraphrase the words of Christ, in John, xiv. 16, thus: “I who am the same person with the Father, will pray the Father, who is no other than myself, in a different office, or mode of manifestation, and he shall give you another comforter, who is not another, but the same person as my Father and myself.” We see, from this specimen, that this explanation of the doctrine is at variance with the word of God.

Others admit the distinction of persons in the Godhead, and explain that the three possess one essence, just as three men, Peter, James, and John, possess one nature. This is Tritheism. It makes the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, three Gods, just as Peter, James, and John, are three men. If we may call the three persons one God, merely because they are alike in their nature; we may, with equal reason, call all mankind one man; and we may maintain that Jupiter, Neptune, Pluto, and all the heathen deities were one God. Paul’s distinction, “There are gods many; but to us there is but one God,”[12] is a distinction without a difference; for the many gods are one, in the same sense in which the three divine persons are supposed to be one. This explanation must, therefore, be rejected, as inconsistent with the proper unity of God.

Attempts have frequently been made, to illustrate the mystery of the Trinity, by means of material objects. One of these may be cited as a specimen of the rest. Water, ice, and snow, it is said, are different things, and yet they are but one. For aught that appears, it would have served quite well, to illustrate the mystery, by three separate glasses of water, all in the liquid form. The distinction between them would have been as perfect; and the identity of nature would have been as real, and more apparent. All such illustrations darken counsel with words without knowledge. What shall we liken to the Lord?

These efforts to explain the doctrine, are not simply fruitless, but they lead to error. If the mind receives satisfaction from them, it is by a false view of God’s mode of existence, and thinking him such an one as ourselves. It is far wiser to admit, that none by searching can find out God; and to abstain from unavailing efforts to comprehend what is incomprehensible to our finite minds. What God tells us on the subject, we ought to believe; and with this measure of knowledge, we ought to be satisfied; and all beyond this is human speculation, of which it is our duty and interest to beware. Nor are we justly liable to the reproach of believing what we do not understand. The teaching of divine revelation, we may understand, and we should labor to understand; and the mystery which remains unrevealed to our understanding, is not an object of our faith. The proposition, God is incomprehensible, is simple and intelligible, and our faith embraces it. God is the subject of this proposition; and, if a full understanding of the subject were necessary to faith, a belief of this proposition would be impossible. Though we do not comprehend God, we comprehend the meaning of the proposition; and this is what we believe. So the doctrine of the Trinity, as an object of our faith, may be expressed in propositions, each one of which is intelligible, notwithstanding the incomprehensibility of the subject.

The view which has been presented, is important, to strengthen our faith in the doctrine of the Trinity. So long as we imagine that a full comprehension of the subject is necessary to the exercise of faith, we must embrace the truth feebly. But let us examine the propositions, in which the doctrine may be expressed, and we shall find each one of them perfectly intelligible. The Father is God;–the Son is God;–the Holy Ghost is God;–there is but one God. All these propositions, we may understand, and receive with unwavering faith; while we are well assured that our understandings fall infinitely short of comprehending the great subject, and that, in harmonizing the last proposition with the preceding three, there is a difficulty which finite intelligence cannot explain.

In receiving a truth which is attended with difficulty, our faith may be assisted, by noticing that other truths, which we are compelled to admit, are attended with equal difficulty. The Omnipresence of God, may be shown to be as incomprehensible as the Trinity. If, at the same moment, a ball of matter is here, a ball there, and a ball yonder, we know that there are three balls. If, in the illustration, we substitute an angel for the ball, we know that there are three angels in the three places, and not one and the same angel. Yet the doctrine of God’s omnipresence teaches, that a whole is here, a whole deity there, and a whole deity yonder; and yet it is one and the same deity which is present at each place. If an entire deity may dwell, at the same time, in three separate places, and yet be but one, why may not an entire deity dwell in the three separate persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and yet be but one God? There is, perhaps no analogy between the two cases, except in this, that they alike confound our arithmetic; but this analogy is sufficient for our present purpose. Were God’s mode of existence like that of created things, either material or spiritual, he could not be in several places at the same time, or in three distinct persons; and yet be an undivided unit. We are compelled to admit the omnipresence of God, and we should admit, with equal faith, on the authority of God’s word, the doctrine of the Trinity, ascribing the difficulty of the subject to the incomprehensibility of the divine nature.

The doctrine of God’s omnipresence has, in one particular, greater difficulty, than that of the Trinity. The latter has a relief not discoverable in the other, arising from the consideration, that God is not three and one in the same respect. God is three in person, one in essence; and, although we may be unable to explain the precise difference between person and essence, the fact that there is a difference, relieves the doctrine from the charge of inconsistency.

We study the human mind in the phenomena which it exhibits. The operations of memory, imagination, reasoning, &c., differ widely from each other; but we refer them all to the one indivisible substance, called mind, of which we have no knowledge, except what we acquire from the phenomena. What we know of God, we learn from the manifestations which he has made of himself, in his works and word. In these manifestations, we discover the personal distinction of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; yet, as taught by the divine word, we refer all the manifestations to the one indivisible essence, in which the unity of God consists. It is not a threefold manifestation of the same person, as the Sabellians hold; but a manifestation of three distinct persons, counselling and covenanting with each other, one sending another, one speaking to another, and of the third, &c. Nothing like this appears in the phenomena of one human mind: but we cannot thence infer, that it cannot be in the manifestations of one divine mind.

The word Trinity is not in the Bible, and objection has therefore been made to its use. As signifying tri-unity, three in one, it is an expressive name for the doctrine. As a convenient word, we are at liberty to use it, as we do many other words not found in the Bible; and the propriety of using it is the greater, because there is no single word in the Bible, which can be substituted for it. But we are under no obligation to contend for the name, which is human, provided we firmly maintain the doctrine, which is divine.

The word person, also which is used in stating this doctrine, is without Scripture precedent. Some have cited, as authority for its use, the passage in Heb. i. 3: “Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person.” Here, it is alleged, the person of the Father is mentioned; and, as the Son is his express image, we must conclude that he, also, is a person; and, having established the personal distinction between the Father and the Son, no doubt can remain, that the Holy Spirit is a third person. To all this, it may be answered, that the word person is not a good rendering of the Greek word here used, the sense of which would be better expressed by the word substance. The passage properly interpreted, refers to the full display of the Godhead, made through Jesus Christ as mediator, and not to the relation subsisting among the divine persons. But though there is no Scripture precedent for the use of the word, must it therefore be abandoned? A scrupulosity, which should refuse to use any word not found in the Bible, would be unwise, and lead to no good result. No one would refuse to apply the word person to Jesus Christ, and speak of him as a holy and just person, an extraordinary or wonderful person; or to say that his divine and human natures are united in one person: yet it would be difficult to produce Scripture precedent for this application of the term. Paul does speak, in 2 Cor. ii. 10, of “the person of Christ:” but a better rendering of this passage would be, “in the presence of Christ:” and Pilate’s wife said, Matt. xxvii.: “Have thou nothing to do with this just person:” but the word person is here supplied by our translators, and has no word corresponding to it in the original text. Yet our translators, in applying this word to Christ, have conformed to the common usage of the word, adopted and sustained by the common sense of mankind. Now, if Jesus Christ was a person, in the common acceptation of the term; and if he addressed his Father, and spoke of the Holy Spirit, as one human person would address another, and speak of a third, it must be an excessive scrupulosity, which refuses to apply the term to the Father, and the Holy Spirit, as well as the Son. Some have preferred to substitute the word manifestation; but this is equally without Scripture precedent; and to say, that one manifestation speaks to another, and of a third: would be unintelligible. We may, therefore, defend the use of the term person, provided we remember that it is a human expedient to avoid circumlocution. But if any one proceed to draw from the term, an inference which will affect the doctrine, he must be reminded that the word is human. If any one should infer, when we speak of the three divine persons, that they are as distinct from each other, in every respect, as the three human persons, Peter, James, and John, he is building an inference, on a foundation not authorized by the word of God.

[1] Matt. xxviii. 19; 2 Cor. xiii. 14; Rev. i. 4; Gen. i. 26; iii. 22; xi. 7; Isaiah xlviii. 16; John xiv. 16; Matt. iii. 16, 17.

[2] Deut. vi. 4.

[3] Gen. i. 26.

[4] Gen. xi. 7.

[5] Gen. iii. 22.

[6] Isaiah vi. 3.

[7] Num. vi. 24–26.

[8] Isaiah xlviii. 16; lxi. 1; lxiii. 7–10.

[9] Matt. xxviii. 19.

[10] Gen. i. 2; Job xxvi. 13; John i. 3.

[11] Heb. i. 3; Isaiah xxxiv. 15, 16.

[12] 1 Cor. viii. 5, 6.

John L. Dagg- Manual of Theology

Duty of Living and Walking in the Holy Spirit: Conclusion

Book Sixth

CONCLUSION.

Adam became a living soul when God breathed into him the breath of life:[1] and from that time, the process of breathing is evidence that life exists. Prayer may be regarded as the breathing of the spiritual man. Sufficient proof was given that Saul of Tarsus had been converted, when the Lord said, “Behold, he prayeth.”[2] True prayer proceeds from the Holy Spirit, imparting spiritual life, and enkindling those spiritual desires which find their vent in prayer. These desires are breathed into the bosom of God, in the exercise of filial confidence in him; and, being in accordance with the will of God,[3] they are regarded by him with favor, and obtain answers of grace and peace.

From this view of prayer, we may see the propriety of the Apostle’s injunction: “Pray without ceasing.”[4] The cessation of prayer would be the cessation of spiritual life. A form of words may not be incessantly used; but spiritual desires must ever have place in the heart; and the habit must ever exist, of looking to God for the fulfilment of these desires. This constant intercourse with God is the life of faith. We live with him, converse with him, and enjoy communion with him, through the Holy Spirit which dwelleth in us.

We often complain that our prayers are not answered; but it would be profitable to inquire, what those unanswered petitions were. Did we ask for wealth, power, and long life? If so, our desires were carnal, and did not proceed from the Spirit of God. We must learn to regulate our desires by the will of God, and our prayers will be sure to obtain a gracious hearing.

Sincere prayer begins with the very commencement of spiritual life. An infant’s cries express its wants, before it knows how to express them in words; and the tender mother will understand this inarticulate language. So the desires of the spiritual infant may be signified by “groanings which cannot be uttered:”[5] but the Lord understands these groans, and knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, who maketh intercession for them. As the lamb in the bosom of the kind shepherd; as the babe on the breast of its tender mother; so the spiritual babe reposes on the bosom of eternal love; and in that bosom breathes all its desires.

Spiritual life, evidenced at first by the breathing of prayer, is afterwards indicated by spiritual growth. To be spiritual, we must not ever remain babes in religion. Paul said to the Corinthians, “I could not speak unto you, as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.”[6] Spiritual life is progressive, and tends to make us men, strong men in Christ Jesus. The truth of God supplies the milk for babes, and the strong meat for those who have attained to greater age.[7] We have been engaged in the study of this truth; and it will be well for us to inquire whether our spiritual life has been nourished by it, and whether we are growing in faith, and love, and every grace. Unless the truth strengthens the inner man, and gives increased vigor in the Christian life, our study of it has been in vain.

[1] Gen. ii. 7.

[2] Acts ix. 11.

[3] Rom. viii. 27.

[4] 1 Thess. v. 17.

[5] Rom. viii. 26.

[6] 1 Cor. iii. 1.

[7] 1 Pet. ii. 2; Heb. v. 12.

John L. Dagg- Manual of Theology

Duty of Living and Walking in the Holy Spirit: Office of the Holy Spirit- Book Sixth- Chapter 3

Book Sixth

CHAPTER III.

OFFICE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.

THE HOLY SPIRIT IS THE SANCTIFIER AND COMFORTER OF GOD’S PEOPLE.[1]

The Holy Spirit is the author of holiness in all those who are saved: “Through sanctification of the Spirit.”[2] “Ye are washed, ye are sanctified by the Spirit of our God.”[3] He is the author of the new or spiritual life which is produced in regeneration.[4] Not only the beginning of the new life, but its whole progress, is dependent on the Spirit: wherefore, believers are said to live in the Spirit,[5] to walk in the Spirit, to be led by the Spirit,[6] and be filled with the Spirit;[7] and, for this reason David prayed, “Take not thy Holy Spirit from me.”[8] As it is his office to change the soul, and from a state of death in trespasses and sins, bring it into a new life, so it is his office to change our vile body, and fashion it like the glorious body of Christ: “He that raised up Jesus from the dead, shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.”[9] As both body and spirit are redeemed by Christ, so both body and spirit are changed by the Holy spirit, and fitted for the presence and enjoyment of God.

The Holy Spirit is the Comforter of God’s people. By his teaching, the knowledge of salvation by the remission of sins is obtained. The Saviour promised: “He shall take of mine, and shall show it unto you.”[10] In fulfilment of this promise, the Spirit makes known the sufficiency and suitableness of Christ as Saviour, and the efficacy of his blood to cleanse from sin. By the Holy Spirit the promises of the divine word are applied to the heart. Hence, peace and joy are called the fruit of the Spirit.[11] These spiritual enjoyments, which are a foretaste of heaven, are called “the earnest of the Spirit.”[12] And, as the earnest is given by him, we have reason to conclude that the full possession will be given by him. As Christ will be the medium through which the felicity of the future world will be bestowed; so, the Holy Spirit will be the immediate agent in bestowing it. The first comfort here below, and the full bliss and glory of heaven, are alike his work.

[1] Ps. li. 10-12; Ezek. xxxvi. 27; John xiv. 26; Acts ix. 31; Rom. v. 5; viii. 13, 16, 26; 1 Cor. vi. 11; 2 Cor. i. 22; iii. 18; Gal. v. 22; 2 Thes. ii. 13.

[2] 1 Pet. i. 2.

[3] 1 Cor. vi. 11.

[4] John iii. 6.

[5] Gal. v. 25.

[6] Gal. v. 18.

[7] Eph. v. 18.

[8] Ps. li. 11.

[9] Rom. viii. 11.

[10] John xvi. 15.

[11] Gal. v. 22.

[12] Eph i. 13, 14; 2 Cor. i. 22.

John L. Dagg- Manual of Theology

Duty of Living and Walking in the Holy Spirit: The Divinity of the Holy Spirit- Book Sixth- Chapter 2

Book Sixth

CHAPTER II.

THE DIVINITY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.

THE HOLY SPIRIT IS GOD.[1]

When we have ascertained that there is a person to whom the name Holy Spirit is applied, we can have little difficulty in arriving at the conclusion that he is a divine person. The following arguments establish this truth.

1. In the commission he is equally included with the Father and the Son, in the name into which we are baptised. If he is not God when we devote ourselves to him in our baptism, we are guilty of idolatry. It is no objection to this argument, that Paul says the Israelites were baptised unto Moses.[2] A formal baptism in the name of Moses is neither affirmed nor intended. An analogy is exhibited between the course of a believer who dedicates himself to Christ in baptism, and the course of the Israelites, who gave themselves up to the guidance of Moses, from the Red Sea to the promised land: but an analogy only is all that is intended. The Corinthians were not baptised in the name of Paul;[3] though it was their duty to follow him as he followed Christ: and the Israelites were not baptised in the name of Moses; though they followed him as their leader. The Angel, in whom the name of God was, went before them, in the pillar of cloud and fire; and Moses, equally with all the rest, followed his guidance, and acknowledged his authority.

2. In the benediction, the Spirit is named, equally with the Father and the Son, and regarded as the source of spiritual blessings. The words may be considered a prayer to the Holy Spirit, for the bestowment of these blessings.

3. When the bodies of believers are called the temple of the Holy Ghost,[4] the deity of the Holy Ghost is recognised. They to whom temples of wood or stone were erected, were regarded as deities: and he to whom the bodies of the saints are temples, must be God. But we are not left to our own inference on this subject. Paul has drawn the conclusion for us: for after having stated that the bodies of the saints are the temples of the Holy Ghost, he speaks of them as belonging to God;[5] and in another place, when speaking of the saints as a temple, he calls the building a “habitation of God through the Spirit.”[6] The same view is presented in 1 Cor. iii. 16: “Know ye not, that ye are the temple of God, and that the spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy: for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” So the heathen deities were imagined to dwell in the temples dedicated to them; and so God was in his holy temple at Jerusalem.

4. The heinousness of the sin against the Holy Ghost, is proof of his divinity. When Ananias and Sapphira lied to the Holy Ghost, Peter explained the enormity of their sin in these words: “Thou hast not lied to men, but to God.”[7] To sin against the Holy Ghost, is to sin, not against a creature, but against God. This argument acquires greatly increased force, when we consider the words of Christ: “All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men; but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.[8] Whatever be the reason that renders blasphemy against the Holy Ghost unpardonable, it must include in it that he is God. If he is not God, sin committed against him would be less heinous than that committed against the Father and the Son.

5. Passages of the Old Testament which speak of Jehovah, the Supreme God, are, in the New Testament, applied to the Holy Ghost.[9]

6. The attributes of God are applied, in Scripture, to the Holy Spirit.

Eternity. “Who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God.”[10]

Omnipresence. “Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? and whither shall I flee from thy presence?”[11]

Omniscience. “The Spirit searcheth all things; yea, the deep things of God.”[12]

7. Divine works are ascribed to the Holy Spirit.

Creation. “The Spirit of God moved on the face of the waters.”[13] “By his Spirit he garnished the heavens.[14]

Providence. “Thou sendest forth thy Spirit, they are created; and thou renewest the face of the earth.”[15]

Miracles. “If I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.”[16] “To another is given the working of miracles by the same Spirit.”[17]

Resurrection of Christ. “Declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.”[18] “Being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit.”[19]

Resurrection of believers. “If the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.”[20]

[1] Matt. xxviii. 19; Heb. ix. 14; Ps. cxxxix. 7; 1 Cor. vi. 19; 2 Cor. vi. 16; Acts v. 3, 4.

[2] 1 Cor. x. 2.

[3] 1 Cor. i. 13.

[4] 1 Cor. vi. 19.

[5] 1 Cor. vi. 20.

[6] Eph. ii. 22.

[7] Acts v. 3, 4.

[8] Matt. xii. 31.

[9] Ex. xvii. 7 compared with Heb. iii. 9; Isaiah vi. 8, with Acts xxviii. 25; Jer. xxxi. 31-34, with Heb. x. 15-17.

[10] Heb. ix. 14.

[11] Ps. cxxxix. 7.

[12] 1 Cor. ii. 10.

[13] Gen. i. 2.

[14] Job xxvi. 13.

[15] Ps. civ. 30.

[16] Matt. xii. 28.

[17] 1 Cor. xii. 10.

[18] Rom. i. 4.

[19] 1 Pet. iii. 18.

[20] Rom. viii. 11.

John L. Dagg- Manual of Theology

The Trinitarian Controversy and the Problem of Shallow Roots

by Tom Chantry

I was looking at the enormous Norway Maple in my backyard the other day, and a question occurred. How deep are its roots? Living as we do in the age of Google, I soon found myself reading this fascinating and instructive article on the question of root depth.

Apparently there has been some dispute over the natural root depth of trees. Back in the 1930s, scientists investigated this question by digging out the root systems of large trees. The answer that they reached is one you may have seen in textbooks when you were a kid: that the root system of trees is as extensive as the branch system. Indeed, reports exist of such trees to this day.

However, this was not the end of the question. Many assumed that trees could not be grown in modern cities because the typical soil composition would not allow for the development of such elaborate root systems. It turns out, though, that those 1930s scientists had understandably chosen trees for their study which were planted in easily dug soil such as loess (sediment deposited by wind). The more diggable soil allowed for careful extraction of a tree’s root system. It turns out, though, that in such soil trees tend to grow deeper roots, but that the same variety of trees may also grow tall with roots stretching out horizontally.

Today, urban arborists often explain that trees don’t require deep soil, and common opinion has turned against the old deep-root theory. The correct conclusion, as expressed by James Urban of the American Society of Landscape Architects is this: “Trees are genetically capable of growing deep roots, but root architecture is strongly influenced by soil and climate conditions.” Specifically, soil which is compacted and has poor drainage creates a poor environment for root depth. This does not mean, however, that trees cannot grow, only that they may grow without deep roots.

Yet all may not be well. A tree may look tall, full, and impressive, but its root system may prove insufficient. A tree with shallow, horizontal……

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.

Do Christians and Muslims Worship the Same God?

December 23, 2015 Leave a comment

By Albert Mohler, Jr.

A statement made by a professor at a leading evangelical college has become a flashpoint in a controversy that really matters. In explaining why she intended to wear a traditional Muslim hijab over the holiday season in order to symbolize solidarity with her Muslim neighbors, the professor asserted that Christians and Muslims worship the same God.

Is this true?

The answer to that question depends upon a distinctly Christian and clearly biblical answer to yet another question: Can anyone truly worship the Father while rejecting the Son?

The Christian’s answer to that question must follow the example of Christ. Jesus himself settled the question when he responded to Jewish leaders who confronted him after he had said “I am the light of the world.” When they denied him, Jesus said, “If you knew me, you would know my Father also” (John 8:19). Later in that same chapter, Jesus used some of the strongest language of his earthly ministry in stating clearly that to deny him is to deny the Father.

Christians and Muslims do not worship the same God. Christians worship the triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and no other god. We know the Father through the Son, and it is solely through Christ’s atonement for sin that salvation has come. Salvation comes to those who confess with their lips that Jesus Christ is Lord and believe in their hearts that God has raised him from the dead (Romans 10:9). The New Testament leaves no margin for misunderstanding. To deny the Son is to deny the Father.

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.