And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.
Question 39: What shall be done to the wicked at the day of judgment?
Answer: At the day of judgment the bodies of the wicked being raised out of their graves, shall be sentenced, together with their souls, to unspeakable torments with the devil and his angels forever. (Dan12:2; Jn 5:28, 29; 2 Thess 1:9; Matt 25:41)
What I always find so amazing when I share the gospel with people is how many will talk about getting old and planning for retirement but never plan for death. Yet, no one knows if they will ever see retirement or even old age. We have no idea when our lives on this earth will end. We could die in five years, next month or tomorrow. But we all know we will someday die. Death comes to all of us. Thus, it seems to me we ought to spend more time planning for death than we do for retirement. The Bible is quite clear that “it is appointed unto man to die once and then the judgement” (Heb 9:27), and what a tragic day that will be for many. Not just for atheists and agnostics, but for many professing Christians as well. Jesus tells us in Matthew 7 that on the day of judgement many will come to him and say, “Lord, Lord, look what we’ve done in your name. We prophesied and performed miracles and even the demons obeyed.” Then Jesus will declare unto them, “Depart from me, you worker of iniquity, for I have never known you” (vv.21-23). What a frightening and awful day that will be. What that teaching tells us that it is not enough to simply engage in religious activities. Yet so often that is what we think Christianity is all about. That so long as we are doing the right things and checking off the right boxes, we’re good. Nothing could be further from the truth. What God wants from us is not religious activity. He wants faith and love. He desires and demands that we truly believe that Jesus is who he claimed to be that he died on the cross to pay for our sins and he desires and demands that we love and honor and worship his son. God wants our affections as much as our obedience.
"In your presence [O God] there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore." (Psalm 16:11)
Question 38: What shall be done to the wicked at their death?
Answer: The souls of the wicked shall at their death be cast into the torments of hell, (Lk 16:22-24) and their bodies lie in their graves till the resurrection, and judgment of the great day. (Ps 49:14)
When we talk about what happens to unbelievers at death, it is important to note that hell is not eternal separation from God. First, God is omnipresent. Thus, there cannot be a place where God is not. Second, separation from God would not be hell for the unbeliever but heaven. Being separated from God would not be torment for the depraved soul but bliss. This is because the unbelieving heart despises God and would love nothing more than to be rid of God and away from him. This will not change in eternity. It is because of our sin and wickedness that the unbelieving creature despises and fears God. We see this throughout biblical history. In Isaiah 6, when the prophet is given a glimpse of the majesty of God, he cries out, “Woe is me for I am undone! For I am a man of unclean lips and I live among a people of unclean lips!” When Peter recognizes who Jesus is, he exclaims, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” (Lk. 5:8). And when two demon possessed men recognize who Jesus is they cry out, “What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?” (Matt. 8:29). To be in the presence of a holy God is what sinful creatures fear most. Thus, hell is not the absence of God, but the unmitigated fullness of the holiness of God. That which unbelievers despise and fear most is the very thing which they will be immersed in with no means of escape and no where to hide. They will be completely immersed and surrounded by the full glory and holiness of God and it will torment them. What is interesting to note is that for the believer, heaven is the same. Except that which torments the unbeliever will be pure bliss and joy for the believer. For those whose sin has been atoned for by the blood of Christ and who are clothed in Christ’s righteousness, we will enter into the full blazing glory of God’s presence and will bask in his holiness and experience unspeakable joy and peace. Not because of anything in us or because of what we have done, but because of Christ has done for us.
Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:2)
Question 37: What benefits do believers receive from Christ at the resurrection?
Answer: At the resurrection, believers being raised up in glory, (1Cor 15:43) shall be openly acknowledged and acquitted in the day of judgment, (Mat 10:32) and made perfectly blessed both in soul and body in the full enjoying of God (1 Jn 3:2) to all eternity. (1 Thess 4:17)
When Christ returns, believers who have died in Christ will be bodily resurrected from the dead and their souls will be re-united with their bodies, then those who are still living upon the earth will be raptured and caught up in the air with the Lord (1 Thess 4:16-18). At that moment the earth and all its inhabitants will be destroyed in unquenchable fire (1 Thess 5:1-2; 2 Pet 3:10-13), there will be the Great Day of Judgement (Mat 25:31-46), God will re-create the earth to restore it to its pristine state before the fall of Adam and Eve (Rev 21:1-4), death and Satan and all unbelievers will be cast into the Lake of Fire (Rev 20:14-15), then believers will live upon the new earth in their glorified bodies forevermore with the Lord, where there will be no sin or suffering or pain or death, and never the possibly for these things (Rev 22:1-5). The wonderful encouragement of knowing this truth is that regardless of how difficult this life may be, in comparison to eternity, this life is but a blip on the radar screen and someday we will spend all of eternity, in bodily form, in the presence of our God and King worshipping him day after day forevermore! What a glorious time that will be!
Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:8)
Question 36: What benefits do believers receive from Christ at their death?
Answer: The souls of believers are at their death made perfect in holiness, (Heb 12:23) and do immediately pass into glory, (Phil 1:23; 2 Cor 5:8; Lk 23:43) and their bodies, being still united to Christ, (1 Thes 4:14) do rest in their graves (Is 57:2) till the resurrection. (Job 19:26)
Throughout church history there has been some debate as to what happens to the souls of believes at the moment of death. Specifically, the debate has surrounded what has come to be known as the doctrine of the Soul-Sleep. That is, there are some who have argued that after death and before our souls are re-united with our glorified bodies, we remain in a state of unconscious existence, a sort of soul sleep until Christ returns and resurrects our bodies. However, there are several reasons to believe that this is not the case. First, when Jesus tells the story of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16, he clearly implies that both the rich man and Lazarus are consciously aware of their existence. To be sure, we do not know if Jesus is describing a literal event or if this is just an analogy. But if it is an analogy, it would seem misleading for Jesus to make an analogous comparison using non-factual information. Second, from all the descriptions Jesus gives regarding hell, it would seem that those who go there exist in a state of conscious torment (Matt 8:12; 13:42, 50; 22:13; 24:51; 25:30; Lk 13:28). It stands to reason that if this is true of those who go to hell, it must be true of those who go to heaven. And third, per Revelation 6:9-10, the souls of the saints who have died are consciously aware of their existence as they cry out to the Lord, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Thus, at the moment of death, the souls of believers enter into the glorious presence of our God and King and experience joy and bliss beyond human comprehension.
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:1)
Question 35: What are the benefits which in this life do either accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification?
Answer: The benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification, (Rom 5:1, 2, 5) are assurance of God’s love, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Spirit, (Rom 14:17) increase of grace, perseverance in it to the end. (Prov 4:18; 1 Jn 5:13; 1 Pet 1:5)
What wonderful truths are found in the question and answer to number 35. There is so much here it is difficult to know where to begin and end. The benefits of justification, adoption, and sanctification; that is, of being in covenantal relationship with God is most certainly the assurance of God’s love, peace of conscience and joy. But also growing in God’s grace and persevering to the end. At the end of the day, the benefits are of knowing that since salvation is the work of God from beginning to end, then we need not fret about whether we have lost our salvation and need to be re-saved. We can rest in the hope and assurance that God always does and accomplishes what he set out to do. Jesus will not fail at his mission. God always keeps his promises. More importantly, we can find rest and comfort and peace in knowing that God is for us, not against us. Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” While the wrath and anger of God remains on those who refuse to place faith in Christ (Jn 3:36), we are at peace with God. We can sleep easy at night and know that God is looking out for us.
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Eph. 5:1-2)
Question 34: What is sanctification?
Answer: Sanctification is the work of God’s Spirit, (2 Thes 2:13) whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, (Eph 4:24) and are enabled more and more to die to sin, and live to righteousness. (Rom 6:11)
Regeneration (the new birth) is a sovereign, monergistic, unilateral, work of God. In regeneration God gets all the glory and we get none. However, in sanctification (the process of becoming like Christ), the Holy Spirit guides, directs, instructs, and convicts, and we do our part to walk with the Spirit and to listen to his guidance, direction, instruction, and conviction. In Philippians 2:12, Paul writes, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,…” Thus, we are to work out our own salvation. Not save ourselves, but rather the salvation we now possess should be worked out in our lives to display the evidence of the Holy Spirit. But then Paul immediately says in the next verse, “for it is God who works in you, both to will [to give the desire] and to work [to give the ability] for his good pleasure.” Thus, we are to work out our own salvation while God gives us the desire and the ability to do so. And as we do this, as we gaze into the beauty and glory of the face of Christ, “we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18). Thus, while regeneration is a monergistic work of God, sanctification is synergistic. The Holy Spirit does his part, but we must do ours.
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. (Gal. 4:4-5)
Question 33: What is adoption?
Answer: Adoption is an act of God’s free grace, (1 Jn 3:1) whereby we are received into the number, and have a right to all the privileges of the sons of God. (Jn 1:12; Rom 8:17)
Adoption as a gift of God’s grace is a word and a concept that is unique to the apostle Paul as he is the only one in the entire Bible who uses the word (Rom 8:15, 23; 9:4; Gal 4:5; Eph 1:5). The only exception is in Acts 7:21 where Stephen makes the statement that “Pharaoh's daughter adopted [Moses] and brought him up as her own son.” Otherwise, Paul is the only one who develops the doctrine of spiritual adoption as children of God based on faith and on our union with Christ. This is an incredibly important doctrine as it assures us of our relationship with God and that God the Father will never leave us nor forsake us. When God adopts us as his sons and daughters, we are every bit as much a full and complete child of God as Jesus is. The fact that we are adopted and Jesus is the only begotten son of God does not make us any less children of God than he. It is for this reason that Jesus prays to the Father in the garden for all believers that “the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me” (Jn. 17:23). Jesus prays that the world would know that God the Father loves all his children just as, to the same degree, that he loves Jesus. This is truly amazing! Not only for our comfort and assurance, but it communicates to us that God is pro-adoption. Christians should take note of this. We speak about being pro-life and encourage young mothers to consider adoption as an option, rather an abortion. Yet, on average there are 135,000 adoptions which take place every year in the United States, there are currently 515,000 children in foster care waiting to be adopted, and there are 156 million professing Christians in the United States who are actively involved in church. Thus, if just .33% of Christians in the U.S. adopted one child, we could empty the foster care system. Christians should not just be pro-life; we should be pro-adoption--because God is.
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. (Rom. 3:23-24)
Question 32: What is justification?
Answer: Justification is an act of God’s free grace, wherein he pardons all our sins, (Rom 3:24; Eph 1:7) and accepts us as righteous in his sight (2 Cor 5:21) only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, (Rom 5:19) and received by faith alone. (Gal 2:16; Phil 3:9)
The doctrine of Justification is one of the most important doctrines for the Protestant Christian faith. The German reformer, Martin Luther (1483-1546), once said that the doctrine of Justification is “the doctrine upon which the Church stands or falls.” He was absolutely correct in saying that for the doctrine of Justification by faith alone is the sine qua non of the gospel. It is the thing without which there is no gospel. To be justified in the Bible means to be declared not guilty before the law of God (Duet 25:1-2). This presents a problem for all of us because the Bible clearly tells us that we are all sinners and have all fallen short of God’s holy standard (Rom 3:23). We are also told by Christ in Matthew 5:48 that what God requires from all of us is perfection. Thus, if we are all sinners and have all fallen short of God’s holy standard, how can anyone be justified before God and attain to heaven? Paul gives us the answer in Romans 4:5 where he writes, “And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness.” But how is our faith counted as righteousness? Is it our faith itself that is counted as righteousness before God? Paul explains where this righteousness comes from in Philippians 3:8-9 where he says that for the sake of Christ he has suffered the loss of all things “in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.” Thus, the righteousness upon which we are declared not guilty before God comes to us by faith from God. It is the righteousness which Christ himself has earned for us in his perfect life of obedience, which is credited to us at the moment we place faith in Christ.
And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. (Rom. 8:30)
Question 31: What benefits do they who are effectually called, partake of in this life?
Answer: They who are effectually called, do in this life partake of justification, (Romans 8:30) adoption, (Ephesians 1:5) sanctification, and the various benefits which in this life do either accompany, or flow from them. (1 Corinthians 1:30)
In our church’s statement of faith, we say that saving faith “is wrought in the heart by the Holy Spirit, and is accompanied by all other saving graces, and leads to a life of holiness.” By “all other saving graces” we mean exactly what Spurgeon is discussing here in question 31, that all who are effectually called by God partake in all the blessings and benefits which come with being brought into union with Christ by the Holy Spirit—justification, adoption, redemption, forgiveness of sin, atonement, reconciliation, sanctification, and glorification. The apostle Paul speaks about this in Romans 8:30 in a verse theologians refer to as the ordo salutis. This is a Latin term which means “order of salvation.” There Paul writes, “And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” That is, those whom God has predestined unto eternal life will be effectually called by the Holy Spirit, and those whom the Holy Spirit calls will be justified—imputed with the righteousness of Christ by faith—and those who are justified will be glorified. That is, they will be brought into eternal glory with God the Father and God the Son. This is all the amazing and sovereign work of God!
All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. (John 6:37)
Question 30: What is effectual calling?
Answer: Effectual calling is the work of God’s Spirit (2 Timothy 1:9) whereby, convincing us of our sin and misery, (Acts 2:37) enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ, (Acts 26:18) and renewing our wills, (Ezekiel 36:26) he does persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ freely offered to us in the gospel. (John 6:44,45)
In John chapter 6, Jesus makes an amazing statement regarding salvation and how that all takes place. There he says, “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day” (vv.37-39). In other words, there are certain ones from eternity past whom God the Father has given to the Son, and Jesus says of all those whom the Father has given to him, they “will come to me.” Not ‘they might come to me’ or ‘they may possibly come to me’, but they “will come to me.” This is the effectual calling of God. That is, when God calls a person to be saved, that person will come to Christ and will be saved. Why is that? As Jesus goes onto say, “And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me.” God the Father’s will for Jesus is that he lose not one of all whom the Father has given him. Jesus will not fail in his mission. He will complete the task which the Father has given him. Thus, Jesus did not come into the world simply to make salvation possible or to make salvation available. He came into the world to make salvation effectual. He came into the world to definitely save those whom the Father had given him.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Eph. 2:8-9)
Question 29: How does the Spirit apply to us the redemption purchased by Christ?
Answer: The Spirit applies to us the redemption purchased by Christ, by working faith in us, (Ephesians 2:8) and by it uniting us to Christ in our effectual calling. (Ephesians 3:17)
So often we think salvation is a matter of hearing the gospel, weighing the pros and cons of it, and then thoughtfully making a decision as to whether or not we will follow Christ. But the Bible makes clear that salvation is a gracious gift and sovereign work of God from beginning to end. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,…” What is a gift of God? Answer: grace and faith are gifts from God. God gives us the grace and the faith to believe. This is why Paul goes on to say, “not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” In the end, when we enter into heaven, no one will be able to pat themselves on the back and say I did something to get here. Maybe God did 99.9% of the work but I at least contributed .01% in order to be saved. But according to Ephesians 2:5-9, we did nothing to be saved. When the Bible talks about God's saving us, it means exactly that. We were in need of saving, and God saved us.
Even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:5-6)
Question 28: How are we made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ?
Answer: We are made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ, by the effectual application of it to us (John 1:12) by his Holy Spirit. (Titus 3:5,6)
Spurgeon’s answer to question #28 is a great answer—“by the effectual application of it [redemption] to us by his Holy Spirit.” By “effectual” he means that this is something the Holy Spirit unilaterally, monergisticly, and sovereignly applies to the believer's life. He means that the application of redemption is effective. When God chooses to save someone, that person will be saved. Paul uses similar language in Ephesians 2:5-6 when he says, “even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus”. The apostle Paul uses resurrection language to describe our conversion and redemption by the Holy Spirit. In our redemption the Holy Sprit “made us alive” and “raised us up with him.” Just like Lazarus, at one moment we were spiritually dead in our trespasses and sins and then in the next moment God spoke to our dead souls and made us alive in him. We did nothing to earn it and we certainly do not deserve it. Praise be to God for his Amazing Grace and mercy!
Because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead. (Acts 17:31)
Question 27: Wherein consists Christ’s exaltation?
Answer: Christ’s exaltation consists in his rising again from the dead on the third day, in ascending up into heaven, and sitting at the right hand of God the Father, and in coming to judge the world at the last day.
In the first chapter of Romans, Paul writes that Jesus “was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead” (1:3-4). In other words, Christ was vindicated to be the son of God by his resurrection. His resurrection was his exaltation. It was the proof of who he is. It was the means through which God declares to the world that Christ was who he claimed to be. The blessedness of this truth is that we know that our faith is not in some emotional abstract idea, but that our faith is in the objective historical reality of the resurrected Christ and, thus, we can believe and trust in all that God has revealed through his word and through his Son. That Christ was exalted by God the Father gives us the hope to keep pressing on in a fallen world.
But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law (Galatians 4:4)
Question 26: Wherein did Christ’s humiliation consist?
Answer: Christ’s humiliation consisted in his being born, and that in a low condition, made under the law, undergoing the miseries of this life, the wrath of God, and the cursed death of the cross; in being buried, and continuing under the power of death for a time.
When Spurgeon speaks about the humiliation of Christ, he is referring to the humility of Christ, not the manner in which Christ was mocked or humiliated. Thus, the question that is being asked is how or in what way was the humility of Christ displayed to us. First of all, when we think of humility we tend to think of personality. We tend to think of people who are humble or possess humility as people who are meek and mild-mannered. However, Jesus made a whip and drove people out of the temple. Yet, at the same time he described himself as being “gentle and humble in heart” (Matt 11:29). So then, what does it mean to be humble? Specifically, what does it mean for Christ to be humble? In what way did Christ display his humiliation? Philippians 2:3-4 describe humility as thinking of others as being more important than yourself and looking out not only for your own interests, but for the interests of others. As Spurgeon explains, Christ did exactly that when he was “made under the law, undergoing the miseries of this life, the wrath of God, and the cursed death of the cross.” Christ was not obligated to do any of that for us. He did so because he was driven by his love for us and by his humility, his desire and willingness to place our interests above his own. Christ is the quintessential example of humility for us.
He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end. (Lk. 1:32-33)
Question 25: How does Christ execute the office of a king?
Answer: Christ executes the office of a king in subduing us to himself, in ruling and defending us, and in restraining and conquering all his and our enemies.
When God made a covenant with David, part of what God promises him is that he will establish the throne of his son forever (2 Sam. 7:12-13). We know this promise is not fulfilled in Solomon, as Solomon dies, as do all the rest of David's descendants. All except one. Throughout his book, Matthew refers to Jesus as the son of David more times than any other New Testament writer. He goes to great lengths to show that Jesus is the legitimate heir to the throne of David. Not only this but when the angel appears to Mary in Luke 1:31, he says to her that the child she is carrying "will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end." Thus, Jesus comes to establish the throne of David and to rule over his kingdom forever. He is the king of his people, however, not only in that he reigns upon the throne of David, but in Revelation 6:10 we hear the voice of those who have been slain for their faith shouting to Christ, "O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?" The answer comes in Revelation 19, "Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords" (vv.11-16). Christ, our King, will someday return and avenge the blood of his people. In the end--God wins.
Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. (Heb. 4:14)
Question 24: How does Christ execute the office of a priest?
Answer: Christ executes the office of a priest, in his once offering up himself a sacrifice to satisfy divine justice, and to reconcile us to God, and in making continual intercession for us.
In the Old Testament only the high priest could enter into the presence of God into the Holies of Holy behind the curtain, and only then could he enter just once per year and only after having offered a sacrifice for his own sins (Heb 7:27). This is because the high priest himself was not a perfect mediator. He was a sinner just like the rest of us. Not only that, but it is also made clear that all of those Old Testament sacrifices never did take away sins. Rather the whole point of the sacrificial system was to simply remind the people, day after day, month after month, year after year, that they are sinful and in need of a a savior (Heb 10:1-4). What the world needed was a perfect sacrifice offered by a perfect and sinless height priest who could once for all take away our sins and usher us into the presence of the living God. Only Christ does that. The author of Hebrews writes, "And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified" (10:11-14). Praise be to God we have a high priest who has done for us what no mere human could ever do--once for all atone for our sins and give us permanent access to the presence of God.
For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses-- as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself. (Heb. 3:3 ESV)
Question 23: How does Christ execute the office of a prophet?
Answer: Christ executes the office of a prophet, in revealing to us, by his Word, and Spirit, the will of God for our salvation.
The way the apostle John opens up his gospel has fascinated theologians and pastors alike for centuries. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." Jesus is the divine logos of God--the word of God. But why? He then goes on to say in v.14, "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth." Then in v.18, "No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known." John's point is that God is spirit. He is invisible. Had God chosen not reveal himself to humanity, then no one would ever know God. God would never be known. Thus, God reveals himself to humanity by speaking to them through his word, through the prophets. But as the author or Hebrew states it, "Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son" (Heb. 1:1-2). In other words, Jesus is the word of God, the final word of God, because in Christ the fulness of God is revealed to us. In this sense he fulfills the role of prophet. The prophets in the Old Testament could only reveal about God what God had revealed to them. But in the person of Jesus Christ, Jesus is the full revelation of God. Jesus is God personified. Everything there is to know about God is found in the person of Jesus Christ. Thus, if you want to fully know God, then seek to know Christ.
Nathanael answered him, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!" (John 1:49)
In question 22 of Spurgeon's catechism, he asks the question: "What offices does Christ execute as our Redeemer?" The answer is: "Christ as our Redeemer executes the offices of a prophet, (Acts 3:22) of a priest, (Hebrews 5:6) and of a king, (Psalm 2:6) both in his state of humiliation and exaltation." Throughout the Old Testament the people of God were at various times led and governed by either prophets (such as Moses and Elijah), priests (such as Aaron), and and/or kings (such as David and Solomon). Sometimes by all three. What is clear from the New Testament is that each of these offices were designed and intended to point God's people forward to their ultimate prophet, priest, and king who is Jesus Christ. All of the prophets, priests, and kings who came before Christ were flawed and sinful and could neither perfectly nor truly lead God's people in the way they should be led. Only Christ can do that. As prophet, Christ speaks the words of God to us and only the words of God. As Priest, Christ ministers on behalf of God's people, intercedes for them before the throne of grace, and offers for them and for their sins the one and ultimate atoning sacrifice for their sins. And as king, Christ defends, protects, and defeats the enemies of God's people. This should come as no surprise since Christ tells us in Luke 24:44 that all of the Old Testament is about him and points forward to him.
For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell (Colossian 1:19)
As we continue to walk through this wonderful little catechism written by Charles Spurgeon, question twenty-one asks, "How did Christ, being the Son of God, become man?" The answer given is that "Christ, the son of God, became man by taking to himself a true body, and a reasonable soul, being conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit in the Virgin Mary, and born of her, yet without sin." Often the struggle that many have when thinking about the hypostatic union of Christ; that is, the bringing together of full deity and full humanity in the one person of Jesus Christ, is how do these two realities come together? How is it that Christ was fully God and fully human at the same time? Throughout the last two millennia there have been several false views that have been put forward which have all been condemned by the church at various times in church history. But Spurgeon is correct when he says that Christ became a man "by taking to himself a true body, and a reasonable soul,..." In the book of Philippians, the apostle Paul describes Christ becoming human with these words, "Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross" (2:5-8). Notice the kind of language Paul uses: "taking the form of a servant," "being born in the likeness of men," "being found in human form." When God became man in the form of Jesus Christ, he did not put aside or diminish any of his deity, rather took on full humanity. Jesus is 100% God and 100% man. He is the God-man. And he had to be fully God and fully human in order to be able to atone for our sins, according to the author of Hebrews (2:14-17).
For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (1 Tim. 2:5)
Question 20: Who is the Redeemer of God’s elect?
Answer: The only Redeemer of God’s elect is the Lord Jesus Christ, who being the eternal Son of God, became man, and so was and continues to be God and man, in two distinct natures and one person forever.[i]
In yesterday’s Daily Thoughts, I talked about the Redeemer whom God promised to send in Genesis 3:15. That Redeemer is Christ. Scripture tells us “there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim 2:5). Yet, there are some who want to make the argument that all religions worship the same God, just in different ways and in different forms. The idea that there are many ways to heaven is patently false and illogical. When one reads the Bible and the Qur’an side by side, it immediately becomes evident that these two books are contradictory. In fact, this is true of all religious systems. The Bible, the Qur’an, the Vedas, the Book of Mormon, and the Tipitaka cannot be reconciled in any rational fashion. Thus, if all religions lead to the same God, then God is irrational, contradictory, and schizophrenic, and there is no hope whatsoever for anyone. However, Jesus made statements like, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me,” and “unless you believe that I am he, you will die in your sins” (Jn. 8:24; 14:6). Jesus claimed to be the only way to the one true God, and then he provided proof by dying on a cross and then raising himself back to life after three days. No other religious leader has ever provided any proof in the form of miracles that they had truly been sent from God. Thus, for example, those who follow the Qur’an or the Book of Mormon are expected to simply believe that Muhamad or Joseph Smith were telling the truth when they claimed that God had spoken to them. Neither offered any proof of their claims. But Jesus said, “Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves” (Jn. 14:11).
[i] “A Catechism with Proofs” by Charles Haddon Spurgeon
I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel. (Gen. 3:15)
Question 19: Did God leave all mankind to perish in the state of sin and misery?
Answer: God having, out of his good pleasure from all eternity, elected some to everlasting life, did enter into a covenant of grace to deliver them out of the state of sin and misery, and to bring them into a state of salvation by a Redeemer.[i]
It is truly amazing that when we look at the fall of man, when we look back at what transpired in the Garden of Eden, God had every right to destroy Adam and Eve and start all over. They had one law to keep— “Don’t eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil," and they blew it. God could have wiped them off the planet and he would have been perfectly just in doing so. Yet, what we see in the midst of God cursing the serpent, cursing the woman, cursing the man, is God making a promise to send a Redeemer to someday deliver humanity from the bondage of sin and Satan and to repair what man had ruined. In Genesis 3:15, as God is cursing the serpent, he says to him, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” When God says, “he shall bruise your head,” he is clearly referring to a person. He is referring to Jesus Christ who would someday destroy the power of Satan, and ultimately will destroy Satan himself (Rev 20:10). But the amazing thing is that we are told in scripture that out of the mass of humanity that God chose certain ones to be saved, to be the recipients of his amazing grace (Eph 1:4-5). As a result of the fall, God looked on the mass of humanity and saw that everyone was perishing and on their way to hell, and we deserved it. We brought this on ourselves. Yet, in his amazing grace and mercy, God chooses to save some. He chooses to pluck some from the river of sin which is carrying them to the falls of destruction. This is what makes God’s grace so amazing!
[i] “A Catechism with Proofs” by Charles Haddon Spurgeon
For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (Rom. 8:7-8)
Question 18: What is the misery of that state whereunto man fell?
Answer: All mankind, by their fall, lost communion with God, are under his wrath and curse, and so made liable to all the miseries in this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell for ever.
Ultimately, the most grievous condition that was the result of the fall of man is not that he died physically, but that he died spiritually. Not long after the fall, we read in Genesis 6:5 that “the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” What a sad commentary on the human condition. “Every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” The Bible makes clear that the unbelieving heart only desires sin. That is not to say that all unbelievers are as evil as they can be. It is to say that even when unbelievers do good things, they always do them for sinful reasons—for selfish reasons—to look good to others, to feel good about themselves, to move up the ladder, so that others might owe them. Put simply, the Bible makes clear that everything we do should be done from a heart of faith and for God’s glory (Rom 14:23; 1 Cor 10:31). Thus, any good deed we do that does not proceed from a heart of faith in God and is done for his glory is sin. But even worse, the Bible makes clear that because of the fall of Adam, all unbelievers are blind to the things of God (2 Cor 4:3-4), at enmity with God, unable to obey God’s commands, unable to even please God (Rom 8:7-8), are spiritually dead in their sins, and completely non-responsive to the things of God (Eph 2:1, 5). This is the state of the human soul apart from the transforming power of the gospel.
For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. (Rom. 7:19-20)
Question 17: Wherein consists the sinfulness of that state whereunto man fell?
Answer: The sinfulness of that state whereunto man fell, consists in the guilt of Adam’s first sin, the want of original righteousness, and the corruption of his whole nature, which is commonly called original sin, together with all actual transgressions which proceed from it.[i]
The fall of Adam negatively impacted every aspect of humanity. Humans are created in the image of God. Meaning, humans possess all the qualities and attributes God possesses, but on an finite level. It also means that all that is in man is also in God, minus sin. Humans were created as a miniaturized, finite, representational, version of God. Adam and Eve were perfect in every way. After the fall, humans are still the image of God, but we are a shattered image. Because of sin, the image of God in man has been warped, twisted, and tainted. We are damaged goods. The apostle Paul says in Romans 7:20-23, “Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.” He says that sin “dwells within me” and that sin “dwells in my members”; that is, the members of our own bodies. Thus, sin is not just what we do. Sin is what we are. We are sinful. We are sinful creatures. Even as saints, sin still indwells us. It’s for this reason Martin Luther would often say that believers are simul justus et peccator—simultaneously justified and sinner. Yet, because of what Christ has done for us—for the believer—there is hope. We can echo the words of Paul who said, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (vv.24-25). Someday when our sanctification is complete, when we are done with this life and enter into the glorious presence of our God and King, we will be free from the sin that plagues us and indwells us and be able to worship Christ in purity and holiness for all eternity.
[i] “A Catechism with Proofs” by Charles Haddon Spurgeon
The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. (Gen. 6:5)
Question 16: Into what estate did the fall bring mankind?
Answer: The fall brought mankind into a state of sin and misery. (Romans 5:18)[i]
Adam and Eve lived in a pristine environment. However, immediately after the fall we see the horrible effects of sin. Adam and Eve’s firstborn son kills their second born son because of jealousy. Cain kills Abel. Parents who have suffered the loss of a child know the incredible pain and suffering that causes. Now imagine suffering the death of a child at the hands of their sibling who intentionally murdered him. Adam and Eve learned in a painful way the kind of suffering and misery their actions had brought into the world. And then it’s not long after this that we read that “the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart” (Gen. 6:5-6). Sin, suffering, misery, and wickedness had become so great on the earth that God decides to wipe out all of humanity and start over with one family—Noah and his family. We look around at the world today and we are reminded everywhere of the consequences of sin and disobedience to God, not only on a global scale but on a very interpersonal level as well. The Bible tells us “that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power” (2 Tim. 3:1-5). We are living in the last days. But thanks be to God I have read the end of the Bible—and God wins in the end! For those who have faith in Christ there will come a day when he “will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore” (Rev. 21:4). What a glorious day that will be!
[i] “A Catechism with Proofs” by Charles Haddon Spurgeon
Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned. (Rom. 5:12)
Question 15: Did all mankind fall in Adam’s first transgression?
Answer: The covenant being made with Adam, not only for himself but for his posterity, all mankind descending from him by ordinary generation, sinned in him, and fell with him in his first transgression. (1 Corinthians 15:22; Romans 5:12)
The Bible makes clear that because of the sin of Adam, because he disobeyed the command not to eat from the forbidden tree, all people suffer the consequences of his actions. Adam and Eve were designed to live eternally in the presence of God and in harmonious relationship with God. But sin changed all that. Not only did Adam and Eve begin to age and eventually die physically, they first died spiritually (Eph 2:1, 5). These consequences were passed down to all their posterity, not via DNA but via the imputed guilt of Adam. In Romans 5:15-21, Paul will go on to explain just how and why Adam’s sin and guilt are passed on to all humanity. He does so by drawing a point of comparison between Adam and Jesus (the second Adam, cf. 1 Cor 15:45) and explaining that the manner in which justification and life come to those who are in union with Christ by faith is the same manner in which condemnation and death come to those are in union with Adam by birth. In other words, what Paul discusses is the idea of federal representation. Adam was the federal representative for all humanity. Thus, we reap the consequences of his actions. All humanity is imputed (credited) with his guilt, and thus inherit a corrupted soul. There are some who might think that is simply not fair. Why should we reap the consequences of Adam's actions? Should we not each be given the same opportunity as Adam had in the garden? First, do we really think we would have done better, given the same circumstances? Second, if we say we disagree with God imputing Adam’s guilt to us, then we must also be willing to say we disagree with God imputing Christ’s righteousness to us and that God should judge us based on our own merit. I, for one, am not willing to say that. Thank God we are imputed with Christ’s righteousness at the moment we place faith in him!
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