January 4, 2019

History of the Work of Redemption Vol I of the Works - Edwards - III - Period I continued

Required reading
History of the Work of Redemption Vol I of the Works in Vol I of the Works by Jonathan Edwards (Available from Amazon or free here) - Read Part III and II of Period I.

My summary.
Today we continue the overview of the history of the work of redemption. The third period is from the calling of Abraham to Moses. 

Edwards notes the following important points of redemptive history::
(i) It pleased God now to separate that person of whom Christ was to come, from the rest of the world, that his church might be upheld in his family and posterity till that time;
(ii) There accompanied this a more particular and full revelation and confirmation of the covenant of grace than ever before;
(iii) God's preserving the patriarchs for so long a time in the midst of the wicked inhabitants of Canaan, and from all other enemies;
(iv) The awful destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the neighbouring cities;
(v) God again renewed and confirmed the covenant of grace to Isaac and Jacob;
(vi) God's remarkably preserving the family of which Christ was to proceed from perishing by famine, by the instrumentality of Joseph;
(vii) After this there was a prophecy of Christ, on some accounts more particular than any before, in Jacob's blessing his son Judah;
(viii) God's wonderfully preserving the children of Israel in Egypt, when the power of Egypt was engaged utterly to destroy them;
(ix) God's wonderfully preserving and upholding his invisible church in that nation, when in danger of being overwhelmed in the idolatry of Egypt.

What grabbed me
I liked the way Edwards pointed to the shadows of Christ in the life of Joseph: 

'This salvation of the house of Israel, by the hand of Joseph, was upon some accounts very much a resemblance of the salvation of Christ. The children of Israel were saved by Joseph their kinsman and brother, from perishing by famine; as he that saves the souls of the spiritual Israel from spiritual famine is their near kinsman, and one that is not ashamed to call them brethren. Joseph was a brother they had hated, sold, and as it were killed; for they had designed to kill him. So Christ is one that we naturally hate, and by our wicked lives, have sold for the vain things of the world, and by our sins have slain. Joseph was first in a state of humiliation; he was a servant, as Christ appeared in the form of a servant; and then was cast into a dungeon, as Christ descended into the grave. When he rose out of the dungeon, he was in a state of great exaltation, at the king's right hand as his deputy, to reign over all his kingdom, to provide food, to preserve life; and being in this state of exaltation, he dispenses food to his brethren, and so gives them life. So Christ was exalted at God's right hand to be a Prince and Saviour to his brethren, received gifts for men, even for the rebellious, them that had hated and sold him.'

Every page of the Scriptures whispers His name.

Next week's reading
Read Part IV of Period I.

Now it's your turn
Please post your own notes and thoughts in the comments section below.

January 3, 2019

Dogmatic Theology - Shedd - VII - Chapter IV continued

Required readingDogmatic Theology Vol 1 by William G.T. Shedd (Available from Amazon or free here) - Continue Chapter 1 (Revelation and inspiration) by reading up to the paragraph starting with 'The objections urged against the plenary inspiration of the Bible are the following:' (Page 93 of my edition).

My summary
Today Shedd continues speaking about special revelation.  Last week we started considering inspiration.  

Now we start today's reading by considering revelation proper. Revelation 'in the restricted sense...denotes the communication of truth or facts hitherto unknown to man, and incapable of being deduced from the structure of the human intellect, or derived through the ordinary channels of human information'.

Shedd gives examples from the Old and New Testament of revelation proper, in contrast to inspiration and even to philosophy ethics and natural theology.

Then Shedd returns to defend infallible inspiration, not just infallible revelation.  He asserts that inspiration is not:
(i) sanctification;
(ii) omniscience;
(iii) necessarily completely comprehensible

Rather, inspiration is the influence of the Holy Spirit upon a human person, whereby he is infallibly moved and guided in all his statements while under this influence.

Shedd then affirms the connection of ideas and words as this teaching of inspiration depends upon such a connection.  He says that words are not arbitrary signs of ideas, having no natural connection and affinity with the ideas expressed by them.  This is proved:
(i) by Scripture;
(ii) by comparing the sounds of human language with other sounds;
(iii) by the fact that shades of an idea suggest varieties of words;
(iv) by the fact that men think in words;
(v) by the fact that a peculiar kind of thought expresses itself spontaneously in a particular kind of phraseology.

What grabbed me

I appreciated this clear summation of the difference between revelation proper and inspiration: 'To determine then how much of the Bible is revelation proper, and how much is only inspiration, we have but to examine its contents. Anything in its pages that may indisputably be deduced by human reasoning, or be drawn from human sources of information, is not revealed. But everything else is. The genealogical tables in Matthew and Luke are not revelation. Much of the historical narrative in the Old Testament and New Testament is not revelation. Geographical and statistical data are no part of revelation in distinction from inspiration.'

Next week's reading
Conclude Chapter 1.

Now it's your turn
Please post your own notes and thoughts in the comments section below.

December 21, 2018

History of the Work of Redemption Vol I of the Works - Edwards - II - Period I commenced

Required readingHistory of the Work of Redemption Vol I of the Works in Vol I of the Works by Jonathan Edwards (Available from Amazon or free here) - Read Parts I and II of Period I.

My summary.
Now Edwards starts his overview of the history of the work of redemption. 

The first period is from the fall to the flood. Milestones in the work of redemption include:

(i) As soon as man fell, Christ entered on his mediatorial work;
(ii) The gospel was first revealed on earth, in these words, Gen. iii. 15. "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.";
(iii) The custom of sacrificing was appointed, to be a standing type of the sacrifice of Christ, till he should come, and offer up himself a sacrifice to God;
(iv) God soon after the fall began actually to save the souls of men through Christ's redemption;
(v) The first uncommon pouring out of the Spirit, through Christ, in the days of Enos;
(vi) The eminently holy life of Enoch;
(vii) In Enoch's time, God more expressly revealed the coming of Christ than he had before done;
(viii) The translation of Enoch into heaven;
(ix) The upholding of the church of God in that family from which Christ was to proceed during that great and general defection which preceded the flood.

The second period is from the flood to the calling of Abraham.  Highlights of redemption are:
(i) The flood itself;
(ii) God's wonderfully preserving that family of which the Redeemer was to proceed, when all the rest of the world was drowned;
(iii) The new grant of the earth God made to Noah and his family immediately after the flood, as founded on the covenant of grace;
(iv) God's renewal of the covenant of grace with Noah and his sons;
(v) God's disappointing the design of building the city and tower of Babel;
(vi) The dispersing of the nations, and dividing the earth among its inhabitants, immediately after God had caused the building of Babel to cease;
(vii) God's preserving the true religion in that line from which Christ was to proceed, when the world in general apostatized to idolatry, and the church was in imminent danger of being swallowed in the general corruption.

What grabbed me
I loved the description of Christ's immediate action after Adam and Eve fell: 

'As soon as man fell, Christ entered on his mediatorial work. Then it was that he began to execute the work and office of a mediator. He had undertaken it before the world was made. He stood engaged with the Father to appear as man's mediator, and to take on that office when there should be occasion, from all eternity. But now the time was come. Christ the eternal Son of God clothed himself with the mediatorial character, and therein presented himself before the Father. He immediately stepped in between a holy, infinite, offended Majesty, and offending mankind. He was accepted in his interposition; and so wrath was prevented from going forth in the full execution of that amazing curse that man had brought on himself.

It is manifest that Christ began to exercise the office of mediator between God and man as soon as ever man fell, because mercy began to he exercised towards man immediately .There was mercy in the forbearance of God, that he did not destroy him, as he did the angels when they fell. But there is no mercy exercised toward fallen man but through a mediator. If God had not in mercy restrained Satan, he would immediately have seized on his prey. Christ began to do the part of an intercessor for man as soon as he fell; for there is no mercy exercised towards man but what is obtained through Christ's intercession. From that day Christ took on him the care of the church, in the exercise of all his offices. He undertook to teach mankind in the exercise of his prophetical office; to intercede for fallen man in his priestly office; and to govern the church and the world as a king. He from that time took upon him the care of defending his elect church from all their enemies. When Satan, the grand enemy, had conquered and overthrown man, the business of resisting and conquering him was committed to Christ. He thenceforward undertook to manage that subtle powerful adversary. He was then appointed the Captain of the Lord's hosts, the Captain of their salvation. Henceforward this lower world, with all its concerns, devolved upon the Son of God: for when man had sinned, God the Father would have no more to do immediately with this world of mankind, that had apostatized from and rebelled against him. He would henceforward act only through a mediator, either in teaching men, or in governing, or bestowing any benefits on them...And therefore we may suppose, that immediately on the fall of Adam, it was made known in heaven among the angels, that God had a design of redemption with respect to fallen man; that Christ had now taken upon him the office and work of a mediator between God and man; and that they were to be subservient to him in this office. And as Christ, in this office, has been solemnly installed the King of heaven, and is thenceforward, as God-man, the Light, the Sun of heaven, (agreeable to Rev. xxi. 23.) so this revelation made in heaven among the angels, was as it were the first dawning of this light there. When Christ ascended into heaven after his passion, and was solemnly enthroned, then this Sun rose in heaven, even the Lamb that is the light of the New Jerusalem.'

If our Captain hadn't stepped up immediately to intercede on behalf of humanity, God's wrath would have been unleashed without restraint.

Praise God that he did!

Next week's reading
Read Part III of Period I.

Now it's your turn
Please post your own notes and thoughts in the comments section below.

December 20, 2018

Dogmatic Theology - Shedd - VI - Chapter IV commenced

Required readingDogmatic Theology Vol 1 by William G.T. Shedd (Available from Amazon or free here) - Commence Chapter 1 (Revelation and inspiration) by reading up to the paragraph starting with 'In maintaining the plenary inspiration of the Bible, we shall consider it first as containing matter that is revealed, in distinction from inspired. (Page 77 of my edition).

My summary
Now Shedd begins his section on Bibliology with Chapter 1 on revelation and inspiration.

Shedd firstly outlines what general revelation is and how it is not infallible.

Then he moves to special revelation, that is written revelation.  

Shedd teaches us about the contents of written revelation:
(i) ethics;
(ii) truths and facts from human observation;
(iii) supernatural truths.

Then Shedd begins to speak of the two modes of Divine operation upon the human mind:
(i) inspiration;
(ii) revelation proper.

Today we only consider 'inspiration'. Shedd says it is a superhuman influence upon the particular person selected to be the organ of the Divine mind. But inspiration goes no further than to insure freedom from error in presenting that truth which has been obtained in the ordinary ways in which men obtain truth; while revelation discloses new truth that is inaccessible to the ordinary human mind.

What grabbed me

I liked Shedd's sharp contrast between Christianity and natural religion: 'The distinguishing characteristic of Christianity is not the teaching of sound ethics, but the offer of mercy through a Divine mediator, and a radical change of human character. Christianity is gospel, not law; but Confucianism and Buddhism, so far as they contain truth, are law, not gospel. If it can be shown that Buddhism and Confucianism actually secure the forgiveness and extirpation of human sin, then they may be classed with Christianity. But there is no pardon and no regeneration in any religion but that of Jesus Christ. "Who is he that forgiveth sins, but God only?" Hence the modern Christian, like the primitive, cannot concede that Christianity is merely one among several religions; merely one of the religiones licitae. Christianity is an exclusive religion for man, because it is the only redemptive religion for him.'

Only the Christian message is truly good news.

Next week's reading
Continue Chapter 1 (Revelation and inspiration) by reading up to the paragraph starting with 'The objections urged against the plenary inspiration of the Bible are the following:' (Page 93 of my edition).

Now it's your turn
Please post your own notes and thoughts in the comments section below.