Jesus, Prophets, and Prophecy (Robertson)

 If you’re looking for a detailed, scholarly biblical resource on the Old Testament prophets, you’ll want to get “The Christ of the Prophets” by O. Palmer Robertson. I’m working my way through it now and am finding out it’s a very thorough and helpful study.  The unabridged volume is long (c. 500 pages) but it’s a book you don’t necessarily have to read through in order or all at once.  I’m thinking of it as a study reference book on the prophets.

Anyway, I appreciate Robertson’s emphasis on how the OT prophets find their fulfillment and consummation in Christ. Here’s what Robertson wrote after discussing the great prophet text in Deuteronomy 18:

The tension created by the establishment of a prophetic mediator at Sinai pointed to the need for ending this separation between God and his people at some point in the future.  God appeared at the top of the shaking, smoking mountain, displaying his awesome glory as he spoke by the trumpet sound of his voice.  The people trembled in fear at the bottom of the mountain and pled with Moses to mediate the words of this awesome God..  While the role of prophetic mediator was essential for the communication of the divine word, this very arrangement made impossible the realization of the central purpose of the covenant, which was to establish an intimacy of fellowship between God and his people.  Somehow this circumstance had to be altered.

This entire scenario encourages the expectation that some resolution of the problem would appear in the future.  God’s purpose in the covenant will not be frustrated.  Unity between the Covenant Lord and his people must be realized.  Indeed, the Lord will not minimize his greatness and his glory as the Almighty.  But somehow the deficiency represented by the mediatorial role of Moses must be overcome.  In this context, the claims of the new covenant scriptures concerning Jesus of Nazareth may be fully appreciated, for at many points the presentation of Jesus as prophet supplies an answer to this limitation of the prophetic office of the old covenant.

Robertson then goes on to talk about Christ as the originator of the prophetic word, the distributor of the Spirit’s gifts, the Lord over the prophetic word, and as the consummative prophet:

“[The long line of] prophets originates with Moses and finds its consummation in Jesus Christ. As a result, all the blessings intended in God’s covenant flow through him.”

O. Palmer Robertson, The Christ of the Prophets, chapter 2.

Shane Lems
Hammond, WI, 54002

Music Monday: “Yet Not I but through Christ in Me”

For me, music is one of the greatest blessings in life. I deeply enjoy music in general, but specifically solid Christian music has helped me in my walk with Christ in so many ways at so many different times in my life. Here on this blog in the past I’ve noted various Christian lyrics (from John Newton to Andrew Peterson) and for some time I’ve been thinking about doing a “Music Monday” blog post. I’m not sure I’ll do it every Monday, but from time to time I hope to post the words from some songs that have encouraged me in the Christian faith.

Today’s song is “Yet Not I but through Christ in Me” by CityAlight. I know it’s not possibly to wear out a digital copy of a song, but if it were, I would’ve worn this one out! Here it is:

What gift of grace is Jesus my redeemer
There is no more for heaven now to give
He is my joy, my righteousness, and freedom
My steadfast love, my deep and boundless peace

To this I hold, my hope is only Jesus
For my life is wholly bound to his
Oh how strange and divine, I can sing: all is mine!
Yet not I, but through Christ in me

The night is dark but I am not forsaken
For by my side, the Saviour He will stay
I labour on in weakness and rejoicing
For in my need, His power is displayed

To this I hold, my Shepherd will defend me
Through the deepest valley He will lead
Oh the night has been won, and I shall overcome!
Yet not I, but through Christ in me

No fate I dread, I know I am forgiven
The future sure, the price it has been paid
For Jesus bled and suffered for my pardon
And He was raised to overthrow the grave

To this I hold, my sin has been defeated
Jesus now and ever is my plea
Oh the chains are released, I can sing: I am free!
Yet not I, but through Christ in me

With every breath I long to follow Jesus
For He has said that He will bring me home
And day by day I know He will renew me
Until I stand with joy before the throne

To this I hold, my hope is only Jesus
All the glory evermore to Him
When the race is complete, still my lips shall repeat:
Yet not I, but through Christ in me!

To this I hold, my hope is only Jesus
All the glory evermore to Him
When the race is complete, still my lips shall repeat:
Yet not I, but through Christ in me!

CityAlight, “Yet Not I but through Christ in Me.”

Shane Lems
Hammond, WI, 54015

Even Though I Torture Myself to Death (Luther)

The Epistles of St. Peter and St. Jude: Preached and Explained Today while studying 1 Peter 2:5 I ran across this helpful commentary by Martin Luther.  I thought it was worth sharing:

Peter says, we are to offer spiritual sacrifices, acceptable unto God through Jesus Christ. Since Christ is the cornerstone whereon we are laid, whatever we wish to transact with God must be done only through him, as we have heard sufficiently above…. For God does not look upon my cross even though I torture myself to death, but he looks upon Christ through whom my works are acceptable before God, which otherwise would not be worth a straw. Therefore the Scriptures properly call Christ a precious cornerstone which imparts its virtue to all who through faith are built upon it. So also Peter teaches us in this passage how Christ is the living stone, what Christ is; and the figure is beautiful, since it is easy to understand by it how we are to believe on Christ.

 J. G. Walch, “Analysis of Contents: 1 Peter 2,” in The Epistles of St. Peter and St. Jude: Preached and Explained, ed. and trans. John Nicholas Lenker, The Precious and Sacred Writings of Martin Luther (Minneapolis, MN: Lutherans in All Lands Co., 1904), 95.

Shane Lems
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI, 54015

His Deeds + His Words = Witness (Warfield)

The Lord of Glory: A Study of the Designations of our Lord in the New Testament with Especial Reference to His Deity Benjamin B. Warfield’s 1907 publication Lord of Glory is an excellent resource for the NT study of Christ’s deity.  The subtitle is this: “A Study of the Designations of Our Lord in the New Testament with Especial Reference to His Deity.”  Here’s an excellent section I read today while studying the NT phrase Jesus is Lord:

We have already remarked that the Christian community cannot be supposed to have formed and immovably fixed in their hearts the conviction that their Lord was divine without evidence—much evidence—convincing evidence. We have also pointed out that the primary item of this evidence was our Lord’s own assertion. But there certainly must have been more evidence than our Lord’s bare assertion. Men do not without ado believe everyone who announces himself to be God, upon the bald announcement alone. There must have been attendant circumstances which supported the announcement and gave it verisimilitude,—nay, cogency—or it would not have had such power over men.

Our Lord’s life, His teachings, His character, must have been consonant with it. His deeds as well as His words must have borne Him witness. The credit accorded to His assertion is the best possible evidence that such was the case. We can understand how His followers could believe Him divine, if in point of fact He not only asserted Himself to be divine but lived as became a God, taught as befitted a divine Instructor, in all His conversation in the world manifested a perfection such as obviously was not human: and if dying, He rose again from the dead. If He did none of these things can their firm and passionate faith in His deity be explained?

 Benjamin B. Warfield, The Lord of Glory: A Study of the Designations of Our Lord in the New Testament with Especial Reference to His Deity (New York: American Tract Society, 1907), 300.

Shane Lems
Hammond, WI, 54002

All Other Ground is Sinking Sand (Luther/Bernard)

Commentary on the Sermon on the Mount Martin Luther, in his Commentary on the Sermon on the Mount, noted how some people build their house upon the sand by resting on their own works or merits for acceptance with God.  Luther then gave a helpful insight from the life and faith of Bernard of Clairvaux:

St. Bernard himself had also to feel and acknowledge this, who had nevertheless led a very strict life, with praying, fasting, bodily mortification, etc., so that he was deficient in no respect, and served as an example for all others, so that I know of no one among the monks who wrote or lived better than he. Yet, when he came to die, he had himself to pronounce this judgment upon his entire holy life: ‘O, I lived a damnable life, and spent my life shamefully!’ Ah, how so, dear St. Bernard? You were surely a pious monk all your life. Is then chastity, obedience, your preaching, fasting, praying, not an admirable thing? No (says he,) it is all lost and belongs to the devil. There comes the wind and rain, and throws foundation, basis and building all into a heap, so that he would have had to be eternally damned, by his own judgment, if he had not turned about, and, made wiser by his loss, deserted monkery, seized upon another foundation and clung to Christ, and been kept in the faith that the children use in their prayers, when he said: “Although I am not worthy of eternal life, nor can attain it by my own merit, yet my Lord Christ has a double right to it, once as Lord and heir to it, inherited from eternity; secondly, attained through his suffering and death. The first he retains for himself; the other he bestows upon me,” etc.

 Martin Luther, Commentary on the Sermon on the Mount, trans. Charles A. Hay (Philadelphia: Lutheran Publication Society, 1892), 487–488.

Shane Lems

How/Why Can Faith Resist Satan? (Watson)

 In his exposition of the sixth petition of the Lord’s Prayer (lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one), Thomas Watson explains how faith can be so strong as to resist Satan’s temptations in such a way that he flees from us (cf. James 4:7):

[Faith can resist Satan and put him to flight because] it brings the strength of Christ into the soul. Samson’s strength lay in his hair—ours lies in Christ. If a child is assaulted, it runs and calls to its father for help. Just so, when faith is assaulted, it runs and calls Christ, and in his strength overcomes. “In every situation take the shield of faith, and with it you will be able to extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one.” Ephesians 6:16

Faith furnishes itself with a store of promises. The promises are faith’s weapons to fight with. As David, by five stones in his sling, wounded Goliath—so faith puts the promises, as stones, into its sling. 1 Sam 17:40. “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Heb 13:5. “A bruised reed shall he not break.” Matthew 12:20. “Who will not allow you to be tempted above that you are able.” 1 Cor 10:13. “The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly.” Romans 16:20. “No man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.” John 10:29. Here are five promises, like five stones, put into the sling of faith, and with these a believer may wound the red dragon. Faith being such a grace to resist and wound Satan, he watches his opportunity to batter our shield, though he cannot break it.

Indeed, this is why Paul said that faith is a shield “with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one” (Eph. 6:17 NASB).

The above quote is from page 274 of Watson’s The Lord’s Prayer.

Shane Lems
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI, 54015

He Submitted Himself to the Covenant of Works (Bavinck)

 Romans 5 is a great passage in Scripture that compares and contrasts Adam and Christ.  Paul uses legal and covenantal language to explain how Adam was a type of Christ.  For example, here’s verse 19: For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous (NIV).  I appreciate how Herman Bavinck commented on these great truths:

…While it is certainly true that as a human and with reference to himself Christ was subject to the law, it must be emphasized that his incarnation and being human occurred not for himself but for us. Christ never was, and may never be regarded as, a private person, an individual alongside and on the same level as other individuals. He was from the very beginning a public person, the second Adam, the guarantor and head of the elect. As Adam sinned for himself and by this act imposed guilt and death on all those he represented, so Christ, by his righteousness and obedience, acquired forgiveness and life for all his own. Even more, as a human being Christ was certainly subject to the law of God as the rule of life; even believers are never exempted from the law in that sense. But Christ related himself to the law in still a very different way, namely, as the law of the covenant of works. Adam was not only obligated to keep the law but was confronted in the covenant of works with that law as the way to eternal life, a life he did not yet possess. But Christ, in virtue of his union with the divine nature, already had this eternal and blessed life. This life he voluntarily relinquished. He submitted himself to the law of the covenant of works as the way to eternal life for himself and his own.

The obedience that Christ accorded to the law, therefore, was totally voluntary. Not his death alone, as Anselm said, but his entire life was an act of self-denial, a self-offering presented by him as head in the place of his own.

 Herman Bavinck, John Bolt, and John Vriend, Reformed Dogmatics: Sin and Salvation in Christ, vol. 3 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2006), 379.

Shane Lems
Hammond, WI, 54015