III.  The Power of God in Redemption

Stephen Charnock: Existence and Attributes of God, Book 2: p 59 ff.

It had been, in the nature of the thing, an easier thing to Divine Power to have created a new world than repaired a broken, and purified a polluted one.  This is the most admirable work that ever God brought forth in the world, greater than all the marks of his power in the first creation.       In creation, the world was erected from nothing; as there was nothing to act, so there was nothing to oppose; no victorious evil was in that to be subdued; no thundering law to be silenced; no death to be conquered; no transgression to be pardoned and rooted out; no hell to be shut; no ignominious death upon the cross to be suffered.

Topic

Scripture

Details

In the Person Redeeming

In His Conception by the Holy Ghost

Luke 1:35   And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

 

Genesis 1:2  And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

 

Job 14:4   Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one.

 

Rom. 8:3   For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh.

 

 

It expresses the supernatural manner of the forming the humanity of our Savior, and signifies not the Divine nature of Christ infusing itself into the womb of the virgin; for the angel refers it to the manner of the operation of the Holy Ghost in the producing the human nature of Christ, and not to the nature assuming that humanity into union with itself.  The Holy Ghost…overshadowed the virgin, and by a creative act framed the humanity of Christ, and united it to the Divinity….  Our Savior had been incapable of being a redeemer, had he been tainted with the least spot of our nature, but would have stood in need of redemption himself….

By this manner of conception the holiness of his nature is secured, and his fitness for his office is assured to us.  It is now a pure and unpolluted humanity that is the temple and tabernacle of the Divinity: the fullness of the Godhead dwells in him bodily, and dwells in him holily.  His humanity is supernaturalized and elevated by the activity of the Holy Ghost, hatching the flesh of the virgin into man, as the chaos into a world.

In the Union of the Two Natures

Heb. 1:8,9   But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy kingdom.  Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.   

 

Rom. 1:3,4  Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; 4 And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.  

 

Zechariah 12:10  And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.   

John 1:14   And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

 

Col. 2:9  For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.

 

Acts 20:28  Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.

The Son is called God with a throne forever and ever; the anointing speaks of humanity, for God cannot be anointed or have fellows….  Divinity and humanity are ascribed to him.  The Word from eternity was made flesh in time.

 

The terms of the union were infinitely distant.  What greater distance can there be than between the Deity and humanity, between the Creator and the creature?  That a person possessed of all the perfections of the Godhead, should inherit all the imperfections of the manhood in one person, sin only excepted: a holiness incapable of sinning to be made sin; God blessed forever, taking the properties of human nature, and human nature admitted to a union with the properties of the Creator: the fullness of the Deity, and  the emptiness of man united together; not by a shining of the Deity upon the humanity, as the light of the sun upon the earth, but by an inhabitation or indwelling of the Deity in the humanity.

 

The Divinity of Christ is as really united with the humanity, as the soul with the body; the person was one, though the natures were two; so united, that the sufferings of the human nature were the sufferings of that person, and the dignity of the Divine was imputed to the human, by reason of that unity of both in

one person; hence the blood of the human nature is said to be the “blood of God.”  All things ascribed to the Son of God, may be ascribed to this man; and the things ascribed to this man, may be ascribed to the Son of God, as this man is the Son of God, eternal, Almighty; and it may be said, “God suffered, was crucified,” etc., for the person of Christ is but one, most simple; the person suffered, that was God and Man united, making one person.

 

The two nature of Christ are not mixed, as liquors that incorporate with one another when they are poured into a vessel; the Divine nature is not turned into the human, nor the human into the Divine; one nature doth not swallow up another, and make a third nature distinct from each of them….    Now let us consider, what a wonder of power of all  this: the knitting a noble soul to a body of clay, was not so great an exploit of Almightiness, as the espousing infinite and finite together….   That a God upon a throne should be an infant in a cradle; the thundering Creator be a weeping babe and a suffering man, are such expressions of mighty power, as well a condescending love, that they astonish men upon earth, and angels in heaven.

In the Power of His Life

 

How many wonders were wrought by his bare word, or a single touch?        But the mightiest argument of power was his patience; that He was, in his Divine nature, elevated above the world, should so long continue upon a dunghill, endure the contradiction of sinners against himself, be patiently subject to the reproaches and indignities of men, without displaying that justice which was essential to the Deity; and, in especial manner, daily merited by their provoking crimes.

In the Power of His Resurrection.

Rom. 1:4   And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:

Rom. 6:4  Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

 

Acts 13:33   God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.

His resurrection was not only the re-tying the marriage knot between his soul and body, or the rolling the stone from the grave; but a taking off an infinite weight, the sin of mankind, which lay upon him.  So vast a weight could not be removed without the strength of an Almighty arm.

 

Eph. 1:19,20   “And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead.”    It was an hyperbole of power, the excellency of the mightiness of his strength: the loftiness of the expressions seems to come short of the apprehension he [Paul] had of it in his soul.

In the Publication and Propagation of the Doctrine of Redemption

Nature of the Doctrine

1 Cor.  1:18-31  For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. 20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the

foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. 22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: 23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; 24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than

men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: 27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to

nought things that are: 29 That no flesh should glory in his presence. 30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: 31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

 

Acts 18:13   Saying,  This fellow persuadeth men to worship God contrary to the law.

The nature of the Gospel was offensive.  Though the heathen philosophers agreed in the being of a God, ye their notions of his nature were confused and embroiled with many errors…   Though they had some notion of mediators, yet they placed in those seats their public benefactors, men that had been useful to the world, or their particular countries, in imparting to them some profitable invention….   The belief of a Providence was staggering; nor had they a true prospect of the nature of virtue and vice; yet they had a fond opinion of the strength of their own reason….   They presumed that they were able to measure

all things by their own reason….   That the Son of God should veil himself in a mortal body, and suffer a disgraceful death in it, were things above the ken of reason.  Besides, the world had a general disesteem of the religion of the Jews, and were prejudiced against anything that came from them;  whence the Romans, that used to incorporate the gods of other conquered nations in their capital, never moved to have the God of Israel worshipped among them….

The customs of the world were contrary to the Gospel.  Men will be sooner divorced from anything than the modes and patterns received from their ancestors. (Acts 18:13).  The Jews were no less devoted to their ceremonial traditions than the heathen were to their vain superstitions.  This doctrine of the gospel was of that nature, that the state of religion, all over the earth, must be overturrned by it; the wisdom of the Greeks must vail to it, the idolatry of the people must stoop to it, and the profane customs of men must moulder under the weight of it.

The Sensuality of the world , and the lusts of the flesh were contrary to the Gospel.   It decried all natural, all moral idolatry, things as dear to men as the apple of their eyes.  It despoiled them of whatsoever the mind, will, and affections of men, naturally lay claim to, and glory in.  It pulled self up by the roots, unmanned carnal man, and debased the principle honor and self-satisfaction, which the world counted at that time noble and brave.  In a word, it took them off from themselves, to act like creatures of God’s framing; to know no more than he would admit them, and do no more than he did command them.

Instruments of the Doctrine

1 Cor. 2:8  Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. Acts 4:13   Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.     2 Cor. 4:7  But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. Luke 24:49   And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.

Mean and worthless in themselves: not noble and dignified with an earthly grandeur, but of low condition, meanly bred: so far from any splendid estates, that they possessed nothing but their nets; without any credit and reputation in the world….  Folly outwitted wisdom, and weakness overpowered strength….A Divine power suddenly spirited them, and fitted them for so great a work. 

Means of Propagation

2 Cor. 10:4  (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)   Heb. 6:5   And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come….

The apostles bore not this doctrine through the world upon the points of their swords; they presented a bodily death where they would bestow an immortal life…  They had no ambition to subdue men unto themselves, but to God.    The doctrine they preached, viz. The death, resurrection and ascensionof Christ, are called th powers, not of this world, but “of the world to come’   (Heb 6:5).  No less than a supernatural power could conduct them in this attempt, with such weak jmethods in human appearance, againt all the force, power, and wit of the world.


The Success

Isaiah 54:2,3  Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes; 3 For thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left; and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited.    Rev. 6:2  And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.   Rom. 1:8  First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.

 

 

Isaiah said that it would break “forth on the right hand and on the left, and her seed should inherit the Gentiles.” (Is. 54:2,3)  How wonderful it is that the Jews should so soon, and by such small means, pay a reverence to the servants, who had none for the Master!  That they should hear them with patience without the same clamor against them as against Christ, “Crucify them, crucify them!”…It had gained footing not in a corner of the world, but in the most famous cities; in Jerusalem, where Christ had been crucified; in Antioch, where the name of Christians first began; in Corinth, a place of ingenious arts;  and Ephesus, the seat of a noted idol.  In less than twenty years, there was never a province of the Roman empire, and scarce any part of the known world, but was stored with the professors of it….   Thus did our Savior reign and gather subjects in the midst of his enemies; in which respect, in the first discovery of the Gospel, he is described a “mighty conqueror,” and still conquering in the greatest of his strength….   This plain doctrine vanquished the obstinacy of the Jews, baffled the understanding of the Greeks, humbled the pride of the grandees, threw the devil not only out of bodies, but hearts; tore up the foundation of his empire, and planted the cross, where the devil had for many ages before established his standard.  How much more than a human force is illustrious in this whole conduct!

The Application of Redemption

In Planting Grace

2 Peter 1:3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue.    Is. 53:1   Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 Cor. 10:5  Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jer. 13:23  Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Philippians 2:13   For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

 

It is expressed by light, by regeneration, by resurrection.  As we could nto contrive the death of Christ for our redemption, se we cannot form our souls to the acceptation of it; the infinite efficacy of grace is as necessary for the one, as the infinite wisdom of God was for laying the platform of the other.   He puts his fingers upon the handle of the lock, and turns the heart to what point he pleases.    It is called creation and conversion.  There is greater distance between the terms of sin and righteousness, corruption and grace, than between the terms of nothing and being; the greater the distance is, the more power is required to the producing any thing.

 

The Instrument of this Power  is the Gospel (Rom. 1 16):

1.     In turning the heart of man against the strength of the inclinations of nature.  When the Gospel is presented the understanding is ignorant of it, the will perverse against it;  the carnal wisdom in the mind contrives against it; the will devises against it. Only the invincible power of God can enlighten the dark mind, to know what it slights; and the fierce will, to embrace what it loathes….  Not one converted soul from Adam to the last that shall be in the end of the world, but is a trophy of the Divine conquest.  None were pure volunteers, nor listed themselves in his service, till he put forth his strong arm to draw them to him.

2.     Against a multitude of corrupts habits rooted in the souls of men.  Nothing so contrary to man, as to be thought a fool; nothing so contrary to man, as to enter into slavery.  It is no easy matter to plant the cross of Christ upon a heart guided by many principles against the truth of it, and biased by a world of wickedness against the holiness of it.  Nature renders a man too feeble and indisposed, and custom renders a man more weak and unwilling to change his hue.

3.     Against a multitude of temptations and itnerests.  The Divine strength only can separate the world from the heart, and the heart from the world. 

4.     In the manner of conversion.  There is not only an irresistible force used in it, but an agreeable sweetness.  The power is so efficacious, that nothing can vanquish it; and so sweet, that none did ever complain of it.

In Pardon of Sin

Isaiah 45:24  Surely, shall one say, in the LORD have I righteousness and strength: even to him shall men come; and all that are incensed against him shall be ashamed. 

Romans 9:22  What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:

Isaiah 57:19  I create the fruit of the lips; Peace, peace to him that is far off, and to him that is near, saith the LORD; and I will heal him.

Psalm 51:10,12  Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.  12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.

 

1.  In the pardon Itself.   The power of God in pardoning is advanced beyond an ordinary strain, beyond the creative strength.  In trhe creation, he had power over the creatures; in this, power over himself: in creation, no himself, butr the creatures were the object of his power; in that, no attribute of his nature could article against his design.  In the pardon of a sinner, after many overtures made to him and refused by him, God exercises a power over himself; for the sinner hath dishonored God, provoked his justice, abused his goodness, done nijury to all those attributes which are necessary to his relieve.  Unless we have recourse to the infiniteness of god’s power, the infiniteness of our guilt will weigh us down.

2.  In the sense of Pardon.  When the soul hath been wounded with the sense of sin, and its iniquities have stared it in the face, the raising the soul from a despairing condition, and lifting it above those waters which terrified it, to cast the light of comfort, as well as the light of grace, into a heart covered with more than an Egyptian darkness, is an act of his infinite and creating power.

In Preserving Grace

Col. 1:13  Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:   John 10:29  My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.   2 Peter 1:3  According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:

 

2 Thess. 1:11  Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power: 

His strength abates and moderates the violence of temptations; his staff sustains his people under them; his might defeats the power of Satan, and bruiseth him under a believer'’ feet.  The counter workings of indwelling corruption, the reluctances of the flesh against the breathings of the spirit, the fallacy of the senses, and the rovings of the mind, have ability quickly to stifle and extinguish grace, if it were not maintained by that powerful blast that first imbreathed it.    Look into the word, and the manner of its propagation instructs us in it; your changed natures, your pardoned guilt, your shining comfort, your quelled corruptions, the standing of your staggering graces, are sufficient to preserve a sense, and to prevent a forgetfulness, of this great attribute, so necessary for your support, and conducing so much to your comfort.

Use of this Doctrine

Use I: 

Information and Instruction

Philippians 3:21  Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.  Job 33:4  The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life.

 

 

 

 

 

Psalm 135:6  Whatsoever the LORD pleased, that did he in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places.

 

2 Kings 17:36  But the LORD, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt with great power and a stretched out arm, him shall ye fear, and him shall ye worship, and to him shall ye do sacrifice.

 

Numbers 14:16  Because the LORD was not able to bring this people into the land which he sware unto them, therefore he hath slain them in the wilderness.

 

1 Corinthians 10:22  Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he?

Psalm 78:19  Yea, they spake against God; they said, Can God furnish a table in the wilderness?

Isaiah 10:13  For he saith, By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom; for I am prudent: and I have removed the bounds of the people, and have robbed their treasures, and I have put down the inhabitants like a valiant man:

Isaiah 14:24 The LORD of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand:

Psalm 50:22  Now consider this, ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver.

I.     Instruction One:  Christ has a divine nature, because divine power is given to Him.

A.  The power of Creation: Heb. 1:10,11; Heb. 1:2; Col. 1:16; John 1:3; I Thess 4:2;  Rom. 11:36;  Rom. 8:13;  2Tim. 1:14.

B.  Preservation is ascribed to Him.  Col. 1:17

C.  Resurrection is ascribed to Him.   Phil 3:21;  John 5:28;  Luke 1:69;  I Cor. 10;  Ps. 89:19 etc.

II.   Instruction Two:  Hence, also the Deity of the Holy Ghost.

Job 33:4;  Gen. 1:1,2; Rom. 8:11;  I Thess. 1:5.  The Father, Son, Spirit, are one principle in creation, resurrection, and all the works of omnipotence.

III. Instruction Three:  The blessedness of God.  He can want nothing; he cannot be miserable.  Nothing can hinder His happiness.  His is as happy, as great, as glorious, as he will; for he hath a perfect liberty of will to will, and a perfect power to attain what he will; his will cannot be restrained, nor his power meted.

IV. Instruction Four:  The immutability of God.  Being almighty, he can be no more changed from power to weakness; than, being all wise, he can be changed from wisdom to folly; or, being omniscient, from knowledge to ignorance.  He cannot be altered in his purposes, because of his wisdom; nor in the manner and method of his actions, because of his infinite strength.

V.  Instruction Five:  The Providence of God.  His power, as well as his wisdom gives him a right to govern: nothing can equal him, therefore nothing can share the command with him; since all things are his works, it is fittest they should be under his order: he that frames a work, is fittest to guide and govern it.

VI. Instruction Six:  Here is ground to worship God.  Wisdom and power are the grounds of the respect we give to men; they being both infinite in God, are the foundation of a solemn honor to be returned to him by his creatures.

VII.Instruction Seven:  Belief in the Resurrection.  God aims at the glory of his power, as well as the glory of any other attribute.

VIII.Instruction Eight:  How strange that it should be:

A.  Contemned:

1.   By every sin committed

2.   By every distrust.

3.   In too great fear of men.

4.   In trusting ourselves.

5.   In not believing the Gospel.

B.  Abused:

1.   When we make use of it to justify contradictions, such as transubstantiation.

2.   By presuming on it without using the means that He has given us

IX. Instruction Nine:  The misery of Hell.

Use II:

Comfort

 

1.     Comfort in all afflictions and distresses.

2.     In all strong and stirring corruptions and mighty temptations.

3.     All promises shall be performed.

4.     Assurance for perseverance

5.     Great comfort despite the low estate of the church.

Use III: 

Exhortation

Psalm 48:10  According to thy name, O God, so is thy praise unto the ends of the earth: thy right hand is full of righteousness.

1.    Meditate on His power.

2.     Trust in His power.

a.     Trust in God takes God’s power as a foundation.

b.     Sometimes power is the only object of trust.

3.     Humility and submission

4.     Not to fear the pride and force of man

5.     Fear God only.

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