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Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. 3 > Chapter 4: The Punishment of Sin (weeks 14-16)

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In this chapter, we learn about the horrible consequences of sin. Here are the big concepts summarized:

1. God is Merciful: "The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy" (Psalm 103:8). The penalty for sin is death. Even so, Adam and Eve were graciously spared from immediate death when they sinned against God. They were allowed to live for many years afterwards (thus providing opportunity for repentance, forgiveness, and restoration). "Although God threatened in advance to requite sin with the full punishment it deserved, this punishment did not go into effect [immediately] after the sin had been committed. Nor does it fully go into effect in this life, and even at the time of death, it is not yet administered in full. Only after the judgment of the last day does it strike the guilty with all its severity" (p. 160). After the fall, God's grace was abundantly displayed. "All the consequences and punishments that went into effect after the entry of sin, accordingly, from that moment display a double character. They are not merely the consequences and punishments appointed by God’s justice but, from another perspective, also all without exception appointed means of grace, proofs of God’s patience and compassion" (p. 160).

2. Purpose of Punishment: Punishment primarily satisfies two purposes: first it satisfies for sins already committed (looking back), and second it deters from future sins (looking forward). "The purpose of punishment [then]… is to redress the justice of God that has been violated by sin… Further, punishment sought to prevent such violations and to prompt Israel, in the fear of the Lord, to walk in his ordinances (Deut. 13:11; 17:13; 19:20; 21:21)" (p. 161). Some people have argued that punishment does not always deter crime. In response, we should point out that punishment "is imposed, in the first place, not because it is useful [in deterring all crime], but because justice requires it, because the criminal has incurred a moral-judicial debt" (p. 167). Punishment is required, not principally because it deters crime, but because it is required to satisfy justice. Deterrence is secondary. "'The principle aim of punishment is retribution. Not vengeful reprisal, nor coarse retaliation, or external repayment; it is rather the authoritative restoration of the broken judicial order, in accordance with the laws of a higher set of values, by a punishment that fits the measure of indebtedness. Other goals accompany this aim, such as the protection of society, deterrence, and improvement. For the administration of justice and expediency are not mutually exclusive. But these accompanying goals must be dovetailed with and subordinate to the fundamental idea of justice'" (p. 167). Through punishment, God's nature is revealed. Punishment is "rooted in the perfect, holy will of him who upholds and governs all things. Those who violate [God's will] are violating God himself" (p. 167).

3. Determining the Type of Punishment: God teaches that the "standard of punishment… had to be derived from the nature of the criminal offense committed" (p. 161). The law of retribution (lex talionis; where punishment is based on the principle of "an eye for an eye") was present in Israel (for examples, see Exod. 21:24; Lev. 24:19-20; Deut. 19:21). But it was never intended to be applied thoughtlessly. If abused, it "could lead to gross injustices and be made an instrument of vindictiveness. If for some criminal offense a person was condemned to lose one of his eyes, hands, or feet, it made a vast difference whether up until that time he still had two healthy eyes, hands, or feet, whether he had to lose the left or the right one in each case, and whether in the past he needed it for a special occupation, say, for the practice of the art of writing or painting. For different persons living in different circumstances, the same punishment is most unequal in effect and may therefore be fair in one case and highly unfair in another. For that reason… the law of retribution was not always applied rigorously and literally" (p. 161). It is for this reason that punishments were individualized according to the specific circumstances of the crime (e.g., Exod. 21:20–26). "The law of retribution does not demand the same thing from all but demands that to each be given his or her due; it does not demand a precise payment in kind but punishment proportionate to the seriousness of the offense. To the degree that a person is guilty, to that degree he or she deserves punishment" (p. 166).

4. We Are Not to Seek Punishment as a Means of Revenge: The law of retribution was "often abused, and it was against this abuse that Jesus spoke out in the Sermon on the Mount" (Matt. 5:38-42). The problem was that the principle of "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth" was made into a "a tool of self-interest, personal vengeance, and hatred. Jesus, opposing this abuse, offers in its place the principle of love and patience… [Jesus taught his disciplines that they] must not attempt to avenge themselves on their neighbor with like conduct but rather seek to win him with love, patience, long-suffering, leniency, and a spirit of accommodation. In saying this, however, Christ is absolutely not condemning every instance of defending one’s own rights… But the rights of others as well as our own must, according to Christ, be esteemed so highly that they may not in any way be subordinated to personal vindictiveness, hatred, self-interest, to the evil tendencies of the human heart. When we fight for them, we must do so out of love for God and our neighbor. Vengeance and recompense, also according to the Old Testament, are the Lord’s own cause (Deut. 32:35)" (pp. 161-162). Only God can rightly seek his own vengeance because only God can do so without sinning.

5. All Punishment is Based on God's Justice: "All punishment presupposes that the person who pronounces and imposes punishment is clothed with authority over those who have violated the law. This authority cannot have its origin in humanity itself, for what human being can claim any right as such vis-à-vis others who are of the same nature? It cannot rest in a person’s physical condition, for that only creates the so-called right of the strongest; neither can it be grounded in one’s ethical qualities, for all people are sinners, violators of all the commandments of the divine law, and cannot in a moral sense claim the right to summon, judge, and convict others before their judgment seat" (p. 163). Justice, therefore, must be grounded in a higher power that surpasses all human authority—that is—God. If we deny God's place, then "the right and essential character of punishment immediately collapses as well… The fact that God punishes evil is the basis of all human punitive justice… Punishment… rests in the inviolable ideas of good and evil that are rooted in the holy will of God" (p. 163). If the Christian worldview is denied, the concepts of good, evil, and justice become eroded away: "no God, no master" (p. 163).

6. Punishment for Sin is Necessary: Sin must always be answered with punishment. "Behind that judicial order stands the living, true, and holy God, who will by no means clear the guilty… If he did not punish sin, he would give to evil the same rights he accords to the good and so deny himself. The punishment of sin is necessary so that God may remain God… God cannot bear to let sinners, instead of submitting to his law and obeying it, defy that law, in principle making themselves God’s equals. In punishment, accordingly, God maintains his sovereignty; by means of suffering he sets sinners down on the place where they belong and by punishment brings them—where they do not accept it voluntarily—to the involuntary confession that they are his inferiors, that they are not God but creatures. Those who will not listen must accept the consequences. Punishment is powerful proof that… only God is good and great" (pp. 168-169).

7. Not All Suffering is Punishment: "Guilt turns suffering into punishment; take away the guilt, and the fact of suffering can remain the same yet totally change in character. The fact of death is the same for believers and unbelievers; for the latter, however, it is a punishment, for the former a passing into eternal life. For that reason one may not infer personal sin from the suffering a given person has to endure (Luke 13:4; John 9:1). In God’s providence and by his grace and wisdom, suffering serves not only as punishment but also as a trial, as chastisement and nurture. He is so powerful that he can make all things work together for good (Rom. 8:28)" (p. 169).

Side note: As proof that not all suffering is necessarily a result of sin, remember that Jesus Christ suffered (Heb. 5:8), yet remained sinless (Heb. 4:15). Therefore, be encouraged: if we suffer for righteousness, we are in good company! For more on this topic, listen to Pastor Overduin's recent sermon on "Gospel encouragement focusing on Christ" (based on 1 Peter 3:17-22; preached on January 25, 2015 AM).

8. The Consequences of Sin: Punishment is always connected with sin. "Sin by its very nature produces separation from God and thus carries with it darkness, ignorance, error, deception, fear, disquietude, a sense of guilt, regret, misery, and enslavement. Bondage to sin is unspeakably hard" (p. 169). The punishments that we endure are never randomly assigned, but are always appropriate, even if we cannot distinctly make a connection between a particular punishment and a specific sin. "The concrete punishments with which God often already in this life visits sin, accordingly, are not arbitrary but—even when we have no insight into the connection—occupy a well-ordered place in the history of human sin and guilt" (p. 170). Accordingly, the "punishments that God has ordained for sin in this life are guilt, pollution, suffering, death, and the dominion of Satan" (p. 170).

9. The Consequences of Sin—Guilt: "Guilt is the first and heaviest punishment… for guilt is nothing other than an 'obligation to endure punishment'"" (p. 170). The idea of guilt presupposes that someone is under obligation to do something (or perhaps refrain from something), but instead does the opposite. As the Bible reveals to us, we "are obligated to keep the whole law (Luke 17:10; Gal. 5:3). And if we fail to keep it, we are guilty… Guilt is an obligation incurred through a violation of the law… It binds the sinner… People believe that by violating the law they become free from the law, but precisely the opposite occurs: in another way they are now much more tightly bound to its demand" (pp. 170-171). "The fact that sin truly has guilt as its concomitant is certain both from the witness of God in Scripture and in the human conscience… God by no means clears the guilty and pronounces a curse upon all who do not abide by all things written in the book of the law (Deut. 27:26; Gal. 3:10)… a divine curse is the abandonment of a person to corruption, ruin, death, judgment, Satan" (p. 172).

message 2: by Alex, Moderator (new)

Alex | 356 comments Mod
Although we are frequently aware of our sin, there are times when we do not immediately realize that what we are doing is wrong. "Guilt and the consciousness of guilt are not the same. Those who try to deduce guilt from the consciousness of it block themselves from understanding guilt in its true significance and gravity. Ignorance can to some extent excuse sin (Luke 23:34; Acts 17:30), just as conscious and intentional violation aggravates sin (Luke 12:47; John 15:22; 9:41). But there also exist sins that are hidden from ourselves and others (Ps. 19:12), and also sins of ignorance are culpable (Acts 17:27–30; Rom. 1:19–21, 28; 1 Tim. 1:13–15). Yet objective guilt is more or less firmly reflected in the human consciousness" (p. 173). By God's grace, humans generally remain aware of their sins, know that they are separated from God, and are under obligation to conform to his law. "And this witness is the conscience… it is proof that communion with God has been broken, that there is a gap between God and us, between his law and our state. This is clearly evident when our conscience accuses us. But also when in a given case it excuses us, that is, keeps silent, that separation from God underlies it (Rom. 2:14–15)… God is not the only accuser of humankind; in their conscience humans condemn themselves and take God’s side against themselves" (p. 173).

Side note: As believers, we are justified (and thus acquitted of guilt) by faith in Jesus Christ. Yet, indwelling sin remains (until death and glory). The Westminster Confession of Faith teaches, "God does continue to forgive the sins of those that are justified; and although they can never fall from the state of justification, yet they may, by their sins, fall under God's fatherly displeasure, and not have the light of His countenance restored unto them, until they humble themselves, confess their sins, beg pardon, and renew their faith and repentance" (chapter 11.5). Bavinck elaborates, "It is indeed true that the sins of believers, that is, of those who have received forgiveness in full, in themselves always remain sins and therefore culpable. Against the Antinomians, who denied this and therefore deemed prayer for forgiveness unnecessary in the case of believers, the Reformed have always maintained this, making the distinction between 'potential' and 'actual' guilt. But when the guilt of sins has been removed, all satisfaction and punishment automatically expire as well… In that case, God is no longer a Judge but a Father, who, though he chastises the son whom he loves (2 Sam. 12:13–14)" (p. 171). This is the idea of "at the same time righteous and a sinner" (simul iustus et peccator).

10. The Consequences of Sin—Pollution: While guilt is what obligates us to endure punishment, pollution is what renders us unclean (p. 174). "Sin is simultaneously a violation of the covenant of works and the destruction of God’s image. The former implies that God is no longer our covenant Partner… the second means that the sinner is no longer in the covenant, can no longer love and keep the law, and can therefore no longer secure life in this way. By the works of the law, no flesh can any longer be justified (Ps. 143:2; Rom. 3:20; 2 Cor. 3:6f.; Gal. 3:2, 10). This is true even though it be the case that the law of the covenant of works still continues to obligate us… [in suffering its penalties for disobedience as well as demanding perfect] obedience to its commandments (Matt. 5:48; 22:37)" (p. 174). Recall (see volume 2, chapter 12, point #7), although the image of God has been destroyed by sin, it is lost only in the restricted sense; in the broader sense, it remains intact. "Human beings who violate God’s law do not cease to be human; they retain their body, soul, faculties, powers, intellect, will, and so on. But now these faculties are all devoted to the service of sin and function in the wrong direction" (pp. 174-175). This is pollution—a corruption of our whole nature. As we learned in chapter 2 (on the spread of sin), we are all born with original sin because of Adam and Eve's fall. It is congenital.

However, even beyond original sin, there is another element of sinful pollution that afflicts us all. The Westminster Shorter Catechism (Q&A 18) teaches that "The sinfulness of that estate whereinto 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." In other words, while we are all affected by original sin (which is passed on by our parents), we are also stained by the personal sins we commit. And "these sinful deeds then also impact, reinforce, develop, and direct [our] innate moral depravity" (p. 175). It is a vicious cycle: our sins foster more and more sin. Not only does our sin directly affect us, but it has a tendency to corrupt others around us too. "Just as a sinful deed, when repeated over and over, fosters a sinful habitual propensity, say, to drink, sensuality, and lust, so sinful mores and habits can also reinforce an innate depravity in a family, among relatives in a family line, or among a people and develop it in a certain direction. Also, that special modification of innate depravity often passes from parents to children, from one generation to the next" (p. 175). We can be corrupted by the sins of others, and likewise corrupt others by our sins. As the Apostle Paul said, "Do not be deceived: 'Bad company corrupts good morals'" (1 Cor. 15:33 NASB). "As people are interconnected, so also are their sinful inclinations and deeds" (p. 175).

11. The Consequences of Sin—Suffering: "According to Scripture, in addition to guilt and pollution, suffering also is a punishment for sin. As a result of it, humanity not only lost true knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, but also dominion and glory" (p. 176). Immediately after the fall, God pronounced "upon the woman the penalty of painful childbirths and of an ever-gnawing desire for her husband despite the former. The man himself gets his share of suffering from the curse pronounced upon the earth, a curse that obligates him to work arduously for his appointed share of daily bread. With this, a history of suffering is ushered in for all humanity and all the earth. And all the suffering that strikes people here on earth—a short life; a sudden, violent death; famine; plagues; wars; defeats; childlessness; painful losses; deprivation of goods; impoverishment; crop failure; cattle mortality; and so on—all has its root in sin, indeed not always in personal sins (for there is also a sparing of the wicked [Gen. 18:26ff.] and punishment as a testing of the righteous [Job 1; Matt. 13:21;26 John 9:1; 11:4; 2 Cor. 12:7]), yet still in sin in general. Without sin there would be no suffering (Lev. 26:14f.; Deut. 28:15f.; Ezek. 4:17; Hosea 2:8f.; Rev. 18:8; 21:4). Even the irrational creation has been subjected to futility and decay and now collectively sighs, as though in labor pains, looking forward to the revelation of the glory of the children of God, in hope of being itself set free from bondage to decay (Rom. 8:19–22)" (p. 176). "No one can deny that between sin and misery there is a very close link. Many sins, as everyone agrees, bring with them all sorts of frightening consequences, not only mentally, such as fear, regret, shame, disgrace, remorse, and so on, but also materially, such as illness, misery, pain, poverty, degradation, and so on. This is true not only in the case of carnal sins, such as sensual indulgence, drunkenness, lust, and so on, but also in the case of sins that bear a more spiritual character, such as idolatry, superstition, unbelief, deception, greed, vanity, pride, hatred, envy, short-temperedness, and so on" (p. 179).

12. The Consequences of Sin—Death: Death, as a penalty for sin, is perhaps one of the most difficult concepts to grasp because it is difficult for us to envision a world where death does not exist. But, we should not for this reason consider death to be natural and necessary. Materially, "humans are dust, flesh, perishable; nevertheless their death is the consequence of sin… Human beings are dust and have to return to dust, but this is not natural. Sin has gradually weakened the vitality of people… It violates the inner nature of a human being (Job 14:1–12). Righteousness and life are intimately intertwined (Lev. 18:5; Deut. 4:1; 30:15; Jer. 21:8; Hab. 2:4; Ezek. 33:16; Ps. 36:10; Prov. 3:2, 18; 4:4, 13, 22; 8:35; etc.). In the perishability of life, we see the manifestation of a judgment of God (Ps. 90:7–12)… and in the New Testament (John 8:21; Rom. 1:32; 5:12; 6:23; 1 Cor. 15:22, 55–56; Heb. 2:14; 1 Pet. 4:6; James 1:15; 5:20; Rev. 20:14; 21:4; etc.), it is clearly stated that death is the wages of sin" (pp. 183-184). "Death has always been for humans the last and greatest enemy… all recognize in death an unnatural power and flee from it as long as they can" (p. 184). "Science does not know the cause that makes death a necessity. The fact that human beings die—says Professor Pruys van der Hoeven in his study of Christian anthropology—is a riddle that can only be explained by the degeneracy of their nature" (p. 185). The only answer that we have to "Why do we die?" is the plain testimony of Scripture: it is because we are sinners.

message 3: by Alex, Moderator (last edited Jan 31, 2015 09:05PM) (new)

Alex | 356 comments Mod
13. The Consequences of Sin—Satan's Dominion: All sinners are under bondage to sin and held captive to Satan to do his will (cf. 2 Tim. 2:26; John 8:34). "The final penalty of sin to be discussed [is that] the world has fallen into the power of Satan… Since Satan seduced humanity and brought about its fall (John 8:44; 2 Cor. 11:3; 1 Tim. 2:14; Rev. 12:9, 14–15; 20:2, 10), the world is in his power, lying as it does in the evil one (1 John 5:19). He is the 'prince of this world' and the 'god of this age' (John 12:31; 16:11; 2 Cor. 4:4)" (pp. 185-186). Satan and the fallen angels are active all around us.

Throughout the centuries, most of Christendom has adopted an extremely superstitious view of Satan and demonic beings: "physical evil in the world—disease, crop failure, famine, plague, death—[has been attributed] to Satan… in the Middle Ages, [there was widespread] belief that the devil could appear in all sorts of guises (cats, mice, goats, swine, werewolves)… seduce people into covenants sealed with blood, bewitch them, enter into them, ride with them through the air, change them into animals, and stir up all sorts of misfortune also in the natural environment. [In the Roman Catholic Church, it was taught that in the secular (lower) world] Satan reigns with virtually unlimited power… [consequently] Catholic Christians [often] see themselves threatened by the devil everywhere and have to take all sorts of measures to drive him away" (p. 187).

While the existence, power, and influence of Satan should not be denied, our views should be informed by Scripture (rather than by pagan superstitions). As such, the Reformed "brought about a significant change in belief in the devil. Going back to Scripture and not going beyond it, confessing the absolute sovereignty of God, [the Reformed] could not view Satan and his angels, however powerful, as anything other than creatures who without God’s will cannot so much as move… [The] power of Satan over humanity… is always subject to God’s providence… God, not Satan, is the Creator of light and darkness, good and evil. Sickness and death are sent to us by him (Isa. 45:7)… Our life, and the end of our life, is not in Satan’s hand but in God’s. Luke 13:11, 16, and 2 Corinthians 12:7 do not accord us the right to ascribe all sickness and evil to Satan. Moreover, Satan cannot create and produce something out of nothing… He cannot immediately exert influence on the human intellect and will nor alter the substance or quality of things, and so on" (p. 188). There are definite limits to Satan's demonic power.

Still, we need to recognize that the assaults of Satan are real, especially against God's people. "There are children of God—and not the weakest or smallest but the most advanced, people who are foremost in the struggle and who live in the closest fellowship with Godwho often complain of horrible temptations and inner assaults" (p. 189). Satan operates within a kingdom of darkness. His attacks are systematic and planned. There "is a deliberate methodical opposition to God and all that is his… [In the beginning, he was involved] in the temptation and fall of the first human being. In paganism he organized a power that stands opposed against all true religion, morality, and civilization. When Christ appeared on earth, this 'prince' concentrated his power against him, not only by assaulting him personally and persecuting him relentlessly, but also by surrounding him on all sides with demonic forces in order to thus break down and resist this work" (pp. 189-190). Satan swayed "the Jews who were hostile to Christ (John 8:44f.), tempted Jesus (Matt. 4:1–11), sent unclean spirits, entered Judas (Luke 22:3; John 6:70; 13:2, 27), and so on" (p. 186). After Christ overcame Satan (Luke 10:18; John 14:30; 12:31; 16:11; Col. 2:15; Heb. 2:14; 1 John 3:8), he continued his vicious attack upon the church: he "tempts believers and works against them (Luke 22:31; 2 Cor. 12:7; 1 Thess. 2:18), attempts to lead them astray and to cause them to stumble (1 Cor. 7:5; 2 Cor. 2:11; 11:3, 13–15; 1 Pet. 5:8; 1 Thess. 3:5; Rev. 12:10), [and therefore] the church is called to fight against him always (Matt. 6:13; Eph. 6:12f.; Rom. 16:20; 1 Peter 5:9; James 4:7; Rev. 12:11)" (p. 186).

At the end of history, the reality of Satan's dominion will be clearly revealed for all to see "in all its seductive power (1 Thess. 2:18; 2 Thess. 2:8–11; Rev. 9:1–11; 13:13–15; 19:20)" (p. 190). On that day, Satan will "once more raise himself up in all his power (Matt. 24; Mark 13; Luke 21; 2 Thess. 2:1–12; Rev. 12f.)" (p. 186). But, the victory will ultimately belong to God as Satan will be overpowered and his kingdom destroyed forever (2 Thess. 2:8; 1 Cor. 15:24; Rev. 20:10).

14. A Hope to Come: The first four chapters of volume 3 of Bavinck's Reformed Dogmatics aptly describe the plight of the human condition. We have now learned about sin's origin, its universal spread, its vile nature, and the punishment it deserves. "At work throughout the creation is a principle of divine wrath that only a superficial person can deny. Not communion but separation prevails between God and humankind; the covenant has been broken; God has a quarrel with his creatures. All stand guilty and punishable before his face (Matt. 5:21–22; Mark 3:29; James 2:10). The whole world is accountable to God (Rom. 3:19); it is subject to divine judgment and has no defense" (pp. 172-173). If we were to stop here, we would be left without any hope. Thankfully, this is not the end of the story. In the next chapter, we will introduce the idea of the Covenant of Grace, whereby God redeems us from our sins, reconciles us to himself, and restores communion again:

"By nature, since the entrance of sin, no man hath any communion with God. He is light, we darkness; and what communion hath light with darkness? He is life, we are dead, — he is love, and we are enmity; and what agreement can there be between us? Men in such a condition have neither Christ, nor hope, nor God in the world, Eph. ii. 12; 'being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them,' chap. iv. 18. Now, two cannot walk together, unless they be agreed, Amos iii. 3. Whilst there is this distance between God and man, there is no walking together for them in any fellowship or communion. Our first interest in God was so lost by sin, as that there was left unto us (in ourselves) no possibility of a recovery. As we had deprived ourselves of all power for a returnal, so God had not revealed any way of access unto himself; or that he could, under any consideration, be approached unto by sinners in peace. Not any work that God had made, not any attribute that he had revealed, could give the least light into such a dispensation.

"The manifestation of grace and pardoning mercy, which is the only door of entrance into any such communion, is not committed unto any but unto him alone in whom it is, by whom that grace and mercy was purchased, through whom it is dispensed, who reveals it from the bosom of the Father. Hence this communion and fellowship with God is not in express terms mentioned in the Old Testament. The thing itself is found there; but the clear light of it, and the boldness of faith in it, is discovered in the gospel, and by the Spirit administered therein. By that Spirit we have this liberty, 2 Cor. iii. 17, 18. Abraham was the friend of God, Isa. xli. 8; David, a man after his own heart; Enoch walked with him, Gen. v. 22; — all enjoying this communion and fellowship for the substance of it. But the way into the holiest was not yet made manifest whilst the first tabernacle was standing, Heb. ix. 8. Though they had communion with God, yet they had not παῤῥησίαν [parrésia; freedom, confidence], — a boldness and confidence in that communion. This follows the entrance of our High Priest into the most holy place, Heb. iv. 16, x. 19. The vail also was upon them, that they had not ἐλευθερίαν [eleutheria; freedom, liberty], freedom and liberty in their access to God, 2 Cor. iii. 15, 16, etc. But now in Christ we have boldness and access with confidence to God, Eph. iii. 12. This boldness and access with confidence the saints of old were not acquainted with. By Jesus Christ alone, then, on all considerations as to being and full manifestation, is this distance taken away. He hath consecrated for us a new and living way (the old being quite shut up), 'through the vail, that is to say, his flesh,' Heb. x. 20; and 'through him we have access by one Spirit unto the Father,' Eph. ii. 18. 'Ye who sometimes were far off, are made nigh by the blood of Christ, for he is our peace,' etc., verses 13, 14. Of this foundation of all our communion with God, more afterward, and at large. Upon this new bottom and foundation, by this new and living way, are sinners admitted into communion with God, and have fellowship with him. And truly, for sinners to have fellowship with God, the infinitely holy God, is an astonishing dispensation" (John Owen, Of Communion with God, The Works of John Owen, Volume 2, pp. 6-7).

message 4: by Hans, Pastor and Moderator (new)

Hans Overduin | 24 comments Mod
Thanks for this summary again Br. Alex. Text passages which came to mind as I read it over are Leviticus 5:14-19, Ecclesiastes 8:11-13, Revelation 12, II Peter 3, and Romans 6:23. Endless thanks be to God for the second half of that last verse, indeed, infinite eternal thanks to our Triune God, the God of our salvation!
I'm looking forward to our study on the subject this Saturday morning. Hope to see the group together also for this "historic last time" in the Hick's first Alberta "basement residence."
With Christian greetings,
Quotes to ponder:
"Only by faith that conscientiously follows Scripture can we overcome the superstition that has struck such deep roots in the human heart and, despite all so-called intellectual development, keeps on reemerging." Bavinck, p. 188.
"Satan mimics everything." Bavinck, p 190.
Psalter 383:5 & 247:1&6 & 128!

message 5: by Alex, Moderator (new)

Alex | 356 comments Mod
Thanks Pastor Overduin for the wonderful thoughts! I'm also looking forward to this Saturday's meeting!

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