Sunday, April 12, 2009

Why is the Resurrection Important?

Sinclair Ferguson:

In Paul’s exposition of the gospel, the categories used to describe the application of redemption to the believer are the categories which explicate the meaning of Christ’s resurrection. In other words, the application of redemption to us is rooted in the application of redemption to Christ.

Jesus’ resurrection is viewed as his justification (1 Tim 3:15). In it he was vindicated or justified by the Spirit. Having been made sin in his death, in his resurrection he was declared as our representative to be (what he in fact always was personally) righteous. He did not ‘see decay’ because he was God’s Holy One (Acts 2:27). Dying in our place as the condemned one, he was raised as the justified one.

Paul also implies that the resurrection can be seen as Jesus’ adoption. As to his human nature, Jesus ‘was a descendent of David’ but ‘through the Spirit of holiness’ he ‘was declared with power to be the Son of God, by his resurrection from the dead’ (Rom 1:4). . . . His resurrection thus constitutes him messianic Son of God with power . . .

The resurrection may also be viewed as the sanctification of Christ. That which is fundamental to our sanctification is found first in Christ himself: he died to sin once for all, and was raised to newness of life in which he lives for ever to God (Rom 6:9-10). . . . In his death Christ came under the dominion of sin; in his resurrection he was delivered from that dominion. this deliverance is the foundation of sanctification, whether in us or in Christ. Hence we may properly speak about Christ’s resurrection in the power of the Spirit as nothing less than his sanctification by the Spirit.

Furthermore, the resurrection constituted Christ’s glorification. As the ‘firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep’ (1 Cor 15:20), he was the first whose body was ‘sown . . . perishable, . . . raised imperishable; . . . sown in dishonour . . . raised in glory; sown in weakness . . . raised in power; . . . sown a natural body . . . raised a spiritual body’ (1 Cor 15:42-44). By the Spirit’s power his bodily existence was transformed into one of glory (cf. Phil. 3:21).

To be ‘in Christ’ means to share in all that Christ has accomplished. More specifically this means that those who are united to the risen Christ share in his justification, adoption, sanctification, and glorification.

Sinclair Ferguson, The Holy Spirit (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1996), 104-106.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Guarding Our Hearts Against Temptation

Three directions for avoiding temptation, courtesy of John Owen:

1. If you would avoid entering into temptation, labour to know your own heart. Become acquainted with your own spirit, natural temperament, lusts and corruptions, and natural, sinful, or spiritual weaknesses. By finding where your weakness lies, you may be better able to keep at a distance from all occasions of sin.

2. Watch against every kind of occasion, opportunity, activity, society, solitude, or business that tends to entangle your natural temperament, or that provokes your corruption. It may be that there are some situations, some kinds of society or business, in which you have never in your life been able to escape the temptation that arises, because it is so suitable to ensnare or provoke your particular corruption. . . . If you have any love for your soul, it is time for you to awake and deliver yourself, as a bird from an evil snare.

3. Be sure to lay up provisions in store against the approach of any temptation. This is part of our watchfulness over our hearts. . . . As for the provision to be laid up, it is what is provided for us in the gospel. Gospel provisions will do this work; that is, they will keep the heart full of a sense of the love of God in Christ. This is the greatest preservative in the world against the power of temptation.

And a couple of final quotes to underscore this last point:

"Store up in your hearts a sense of the love of God in Christ, the eternal purpose of his grace, the savour of the blood of Christ, and his love in the shedding of it; get a taste for the privileges we have through this: our adoption, justification, acceptance with God; fill your hearts with thoughts of the beauty of holiness, as the effect Christ intended in dying for us; and you will, in the ordinary course of walking with God, have great peace and security from the disturbance caused by temptations."

"The apostle tells us that the peace of God will keep our hearts (Phil. 4:7). . . . What is the peace of God? It is a sense of his love and favour in Jesus Christ. Let this abide in you, and it shall garrison you against all assaults whatever. Besides, there is in this sense of love and favour that which is in direct opposition to all the ways and means that temptation uses to approach our souls. Striving to obtain and keep a sense of the love of God in Christ, by its very nature, undermines all the workings and insinuations of temptation. Therefore, lay up a store of gospel provisions which will make the soul a place of defence against all the assaults of temptation."

(from Chapter 16 of John Owen, Temptation Resisted & Repulsed. Edited and abridged by Richard Rushing. Original edition, 1658. New edition, Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 2007.)