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Theology

Carson on Why Jesus Came to Die

D.A. Carson, contributing in The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World, gives this stirring reminder of the ultimate reason behind Jesus going to the cross to die for our sins:

Jesus came to complete the work that his Father gave him to do (John 17:4).  We so often think that the ultimate motivation behind the cross is God’s love for us.  I do not want to downplay the importance of that love…But we must see that in John’s Gospel the motivating power behind the entire plan of redemption was the Father’s love for his Son and the Son’s love for his Father.  When Jesus found himself in an agony in Gethsemane, he did not finally resolve to go through with the plan of redemption by saying, “This is awful, but I love these sinners so much I’ll go to the cross for them” (though in a sense he might have said that), but “Not my will but yours be done.”  In other words, the dominating motive that drove him onward to perfect obedience was his resolution, out of love for his Father, to be at one with the Father’s will.  Though we poor sinners are the unfathomably rich beneficiaries of God’s plan of redemption, we are not at the center of everything.  At the center was the love of the Father for the Son and the love of the Son for the Father.

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Theology

The Gospel and the Bible Story

From D.A. Carson’s article “The Biblical Gospel”:

Thus the gospel is integrally tied to the Bible’s story-line. Indeed, it is incomprehensible without understanding that story-line. God is the sovereign, transcendent and personal God who has made the universe, including us, his image-bearers. Our misery lies in our rebellion, our alienation from God, which, despite his forbearance, attracts his implacable wrath. But God, precisely because love is of the very essence of his character, takes the initiative and prepared for the coming of his own Son by raising up a people who, by covenantal stipulations, temple worship, systems of sacrifice and of priesthood, by kings and by prophets, are taught something of what God is planning and what he expects. In the fullness of time his Son comes and takes on human nature. He comes not, in the first instance, to judge but to save: he dies the death of his people, rises from the grave and, in returning to his heavenly Father, bequeaths the Holy Spirit as the down payment and guarantee of the ultimate gift he has secured for them—an eternity of bliss in the presence of God himself, in a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. The only alternative is to be shut out from the presence of this God forever, in the torments of hell.6 What men and women must do, before it is too late, is repent and trust Christ; the alternative is to disobey the gospel (Romans 10:16; 2 Thessalonians 1:8; 1 Peter 4:17).  This story-line, and its connection with the gospel, could be fleshed out in a number of

Categories
Theology

Perseverance of the Saints

There’s a lot of different perspectives in Christianity about the level of assurance a believer can have.  D.A. Carson, of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, offers some great insight:

For non-reformed theologies…”at the end of the day, the security of the believer finally rests with the believer.  For those in the opposite camp [Reformed], the security of the believer finally rests with God–and that, I suggest, rightly taught, draws the believer back to God himself, to trust in God, to a renewed faith that is of a piece with trusting him in the first place.”

When people believe that their free-choice brought them to Christ, that their works bring about sanctification, and that their determination keeps them enduring, instead of God’s election, grace, mercy, and power, they are ultimately trusting in themselves and not God.  How arrogant and self-centered!

Furthermore, if we could lose our salvation, that would mean that the Christian could perform a work that is more powerful than Almighty God by leaving his saving grasp.  We must remember what Jesus said in John 10:27-29, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.  My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”

Take joy in that promise.  Rejoice that your Savior is not weak or incapable of preserving you.  He is gloriously powerful and more than able to hold you in his grip for all eternity.