Did you notice the big blue circle that is bigger than the church in the missional view? Although the church as an institution may be one of the agents and instruments of the Missio Dei, it is not the only agent or instrument. On this view, the mission of God is being advanced not only through the church as an institution but also through the cultural activities of Chistians in the broader world.
The Missional Manifesto (of which Tim Keller is one of the architects) fleshes out what it means to be “missional” in terms of transforming the culture. That document calls on the church and Christians to be “agents of reconciliation” who are “leaders in deeds of justice and ministry to the poor, as well as live out the implications of their faith in business, the arts, in politics, the academy, the home, and in all of life.” This mandate follows from the assumption that “God’s mission ... universally encompasses every aspect of life: personal, familial, social, cultural, and economic” (there’s the big blue circle again).
It is clear that the missional philosophy rests on a Kuyperian philosophy of “Christ the transformer of culture” (to use Richard Niebuhr’s typology) rather than on the “two kingdoms” theology which is more consistent with biblical already/not-yet eschatology. The missional philosophy blurs the distinction between the holy kingdom of God and common grace realm, between cult and culture, between the holy and the common.
That is why, as a Klinean, I am unable to jump on the missional bandwagon. People probably know that I have been a strong critic of theonomy and Christian Reconstructionism, which is essentially the same problem, albeit wedded to a rightwing political philosophy. But Kuyperianism is wrong whether its rudder is tilted to the right or to the left. In the OPC, I was besieged by the Kuyperians of the right. Now that I am in the PCA, I am confronted by the Kuyperians of the left. Kuyperians to the right of me, Kuyperians to the left of me. Who will join me in affirming that “here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come” (Heb 13:14)?
That is a big question that is currently a topic of intense discussion in many evangelical circles today.
The traditional (and I believe biblical) answer to that question is that the church is the bigger category. The church has three inter-related activities: worship, nurture, and witness. In addition to worshiping the triune God and nurturing its members, the church has been entrusted with a mission. The mission is to offer the gospel freely to all men, resting in God’s effectual call to grant faith to those who are elect, thereby bringing them into the church. The mission is subordinate to the church. Ultimately God’s glory, in both the salvation of the elect and the punishment of the reprobate, is God’s ultimate purpose. Within the positive side, the salvation of the elect, and their being gathered into and forming the church, the bride of Christ, is God’s eternal purpose. The church is not merely an instrument for some other goal. It is the goal.
We can vizualize the traditional view of the relationship between church and mission this way:
The church is God’s appointed ordinance for the gathering and perfecting of the saints. The saints are perfected, nourished, and nurtured through the preaching of the Word, the church’s Christian education programs, the administration of the Lord’s Supper, the communion of the saints, and through church discipline.
But with the rise of the missional movement in the last decade or so, in the minds of many the order has to be switched. In this view, mission is the bigger category, and the church is subordinate to the Missio Dei. The missional philosophy’s slogan is that “It’s not the Church of God that has a mission, but the God of mission who has a church.” This formula is attributed to various authors. (I think the one I just quoted comes from Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury.) Another version of the formula is used in The Missional Manifesto (by Ed Stetzer, Alan Hirsch, Tim Keller, et al): “Although it is frequently stated ‘God’s church has a mission,’ according to missional theology, a more accurate expression is ‘God’s mission has a church.’”
We can vizualize the missional movement’s view of the relationship between church and mission this way:
What is the practical result of subordinating the church to God’s mission? Tim Keller says that “a ‘missional’ church (as we define it) gears absolutely every single part of its life—its worship, community, public discourse and preaching, education—for the presence of non-believers from the culture surrounding it.” [Keller, “Contextual and Missional,” p. 1. Lecture Three of the Urban Plant Life series of the London Church Planting Consultation, 2008-2009.]
That’s a pretty astounding statement when you think about it. Is it true that everything the church does must be adapted and reformulated so that it is engaged with non-Christian society? Corporate worship? Christian nurture? Fellowship? What about the sacraments? Most activities that the church engages are geared toward the edification of the saints, apart from any consideration of mission.
When the church is viewed as having a subordinate role within mission, then everything the church does ought to be merely a means to the end of mission. “Missional represents a significant shift in the way we understand the church,” the drafters of The Missional Manifesto candidly state. Indeed.
What practical comfort can we draw from the truth that Christ “descended into Hades”?
It is comforting to know that Jesus has gone ahead of us as our forerunner and forged the path of eternal life from the dead. He experienced death as we will experience it, and has gone through it to the other side of resurrection life for us. Jesus shared the fate of all who have died. He was once among the dead, once among those departed souls in Hades. Jesus is really human like us. Although he is the eternal, divine Son of God, this in no way detracts from his full humanity. He is the Son of God who became man, one of us, who shared our fallen human lot in every way, including the troubling, mysterious, and angst-inducing experience of death. As the author of Hebrews says, he had to be made like his brothers in every way, and he is not ashamed to call us brothers. In that capacity as our brother, by the grace of God he “tasted death” for us all (Heb 2:9).
Tertullian made this point about the true humanity of Christ. He wrote in his treatise on the soul: “Although Christ is God, yet, being also man … he fully complied [with the law of human nature], by remaining in Hades in the form and condition of a dead man; nor did he ascend into the heights of heaven before descending into the lower parts of the earth” (ANF 3.231).
Being God incarnate you might think he would be spared from tasting death in this way. You might think, once has accomplished atoning for all our sins on the cross, as soon as he expired, his human soul would go to some special place reserved at the right hand of God in heaven. But no, it was not yet time for his exaltation. Being the incarnate Son of God did not spare him one last act of humiliation. He had yet to go one step lower. The bottom of the cosmic parabola has not yet been reached. He must descend into Hades. He must go down, down to the very depths, to the farthest point symbolically from the heights of heaven. And he went there, not to suffer more for our sins, but in order to free all his own from the cords of death.
Not only did he share in our fallen humanity to the point of going down into the dead, but in that very humanity he conquered death for us. Over and over again the New Testament says, not that Jesus rose again from death in the abstract, but that he rose again “out from among the dead” (ἐκ νεκρῶν). Jesus is “the firstborn from among the dead” (Col 1:18; Rev 1:5). On the third day, he rose up victorious from among the midst of them as the firstborn from the dead, as the strong Savior, King, and Lord of Hades. We can take heart in the face of our own death, knowing that Jesus has conquered death and released us from its power.
In the first chapter of Revelation, the Apostle John says he “was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day.” In a trance he saw a vision of “one like a son of man” wearing a long robe. His face was like the sun shining in full strength. When John saw him, he fell at his feet as though dead. But the Lord laid his right hand on him to comfort him and said, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades’” (vv 17-18).
Therefore, we need not be afraid of death. When the time comes for us to cross over into that mysterious realm where the souls of the dead are, we know that we will not go there alone, nor will we face it with doom and gloom. Jesus has been there before us, and he will see us through.
Now that we have figured out what “he descended into hell” really means, we have to ask another important question: What did Jesus do in Hades? If we assume that the souls in Hades have some awareness of the other souls around them (as Isaiah 14:9 implies), then it is tempting to speculate. When the human soul of Jesus, still in union with the second person of the Trinity, entered the realm of the dead, it seems likely that some communication took place.
In the history of the church, there have been three main speculations. The first one is clearly wrong, the second one is wrong but can be rescued and reformulated in a more orthodox way, and the third one is orthodox but the Bible only provides hints about it.
The First Speculation: A Second Chance for Repentance
The first speculation, the clearly wrong one, is that Jesus preached the gospel and gave those who had died before the coming of Christ a second chance to repent. But this speculation is clearly wrong. We know that there is no second chance for repentance after death. The Bible clearly teaches that “it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment” (Heb 9:27). Jesus himself taught the same thing. Remember what father Abraham said to the rich man in Hades, “Between us and you a great chasm has been fixed” (Luke 16:26). Once you’ve died, you can’t change your lot. So that rules out the first speculation that Jesus preached to the souls of those who had died before his coming to give them an opportunity to be saved.
The Second Speculation: Release of Old Testament Saints from Limbo
The second speculation has been very influential in church history. This is the popular Roman Catholic view, although it has never been formally promulgated as doctrine. The popular Roman Catholic belief throughout the middle ages was that after his death Jesus descended into a place called Limbo, which is inside of Hades, to lead the Old Testament saints out of this shadowy prison and bring them into Paradise.
The problem with this view is that there is no such thing as Limbo. We know that when the Old Testament believers died, they experienced joy in God’s presence. For example, in Psalm 73, Asaph said to the Lord, “You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory” (Psalm 73:25). The Old Testament believers were not stuck in Limbo. Calvin called the Catholic belief that Jesus freed the Old Testament believers from Limbo, nothing but a childish fable (Institutes 2.16.9).
But we shouldn’t give up on this speculation too quickly. I believe it can be rescued and reformulated in a more orthodox way. Although the Old Testament saints sometimes did express their confidence that God would ransom them from Sheol, at other times the thought of going down to Sheol was not such a happy feeling with warm fuzzies. There was a lingering sense of apprehension because the Messiah had not yet come. In the Psalms of lament, the psalmist will cry out to God not to let him die. He will ask rhetorical questions like, Do the dead praise you? Is your faithfulness known in the land of forgetfulness? (Check Psalm 88 for an example.) Objectively, the Old Testament saints experienced blessedness in the presence of God at death, but subjectively they were apprehensive about death. So when Jesus descended into Hades, his presence among the Old Testament saints must have been a glorious moment. I like to think of it as Jesus walking into a dark room and turning on the lights.
In support of this reformulation, J. I. Packer (Affirming the Apostles’ Creed [Crossway, 2008]), appeals to two verses in Hebrews which speak of the spirits of the Old Testament believers being “made perfect” by Christ. You remember Hebrews chapter 11, the great hall of faith which mentions a long list of Old Testament believers – Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Moses, and so on. At the very end we read, “And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect” (Heb 11:39-40). The second verse is the reference in the following chapter to “the spirits of the righteous made perfect” (Heb 12:23). The implication seems to be that the Old Testament believers were “made perfect,” not at the time of their death, but only later after Christ had accomplished the atonement in history.
This is the core truth that the Roman Catholic concept of Limbo was getting at in its clumsy way. Even Calvin, who disdained anything that smacked of man-made myth, acknowledged this core truth. He said that Christ shined light upon the Old Testament believers. The light of his presence enabled them to see clearly the salvation which, before, they had only had a foretaste of (Institutes 2.16.9).
The Third Speculation: Proclamation of Victory over Satan
This brings us to the third speculation. This one is the most biblical of the three, but we only have hints here and there in the Bible. It seems likely that when Jesus descended into Hades after his death, he proclaimed his victory over Satan and his host. Luther and his followers held a version of this view. One possible hint of this triumphant proclamation in Hades is a passage in Peter’s First Epistle, where Peter tells us that Jesus went and preached to the spirits in prison (1 Pet 3:19). This passage is full of exegetical puzzles that I don’t have the time to get into. But one possible interpretation would support this third speculation.
So the first speculation, that he gave the dead a second chance to repent, can be dismissed out of hand. The second and third speculations can’t be dismissed so quickly, and there are scattered verses here and there in the Bible that provide some hints that when the soul of Jesus entered Hades, something earth-shattering (or Hades-shattering!) happened there.
At the end of the day, I think it’s wise to exercise caution. We can’t be dogmatic. But this much we can say. When Jesus descended into Hades, it was the first sign that something historic had happened, the fabric of the universe was fundamentally altered, because he had accomplished the atonement and brought in the everlasting righteousness. This revelation of the accomplishment of redemption was like a thunder bolt that flashed across Hades. To the lost souls and the demons, it was a terrifying signal that Christ was now Lord of the underworld and that the day of judgment was coming. But to the Old Testament believers, it was a glorious revelation that Hades was now transformed into Paradise for them and that one day they would be raised again in resurrection bodies to dwell in the renewed creation.
So if we’re not going to tamper with the Creed by editing out the descent clause, or by reinterpreting it metaphorically, how should we understand it?
Now right at the outset I need to clear up some confusion about the word “hell.” When we hear the word “hell,” we usually think of the place of final judgment. We think of the Lake of Fire where the lost are sent to be punished eternally for their sins. So when the Creed says that Jesus descended into hell, we might think he entered the place where the wicked are punished in unquenchable fire. But this is not at all what the Creed is talking about.
What’s going on here? The problem is a linguistic one. It has to do with the way important theological words got translated from Hebrew to Greek, from Greek to Latin, and from Latin to English. It’s a long story, but the short version is this: the English word “hell” can be used to refer to two very different things. Nowadays, it refers to the place of final judgment, after the resurrection. But originally, “hell” meant the realm of the dead, the interim place where souls go after death before the resurrection.
English has one word for two different concepts, resulting in much confusion. But the Bible itself uses different words. When the Bible talks about the place of final judgment after the resurrection, the word most commonly used is Gehenna. That’s the word Jesus used when he warned about the fires of Hell. In the Book of Revelation, the place of final judgment after the resurrection is called the Lake of Fire.
But when the Bible talks about the place of provisional judgment before the resurrection, Gehenna is not the word used. In the Old Testament, the interim realm of departed souls was called “Sheol.” For example, when Jacob’s sons brought Joseph’s coat of many colors to him, torn and with blood on it, Jacob thought that Joseph was dead. He refused to be comforted and said, “I shall go down to Sheol to my son, mourning” (Gen 37:35). The word Sheol is used 65 times in the Hebrew Old Testament. In 61 of those 65 occurrences, the Septuagint translators used the Greek word “Hades” to render the Hebrew word “Sheol.” The word Hades already had connotations from Greek mythology. Hades was both the name of the god who ruled in the underworld and the name of the underworld itself. When referring to the underworld itself, Hades could be a name for the gloomy dungeon of torment for bad people. Or, it could also be used in a neutral sense for the realm of the dead, whether good or bad. Because it was so similar to the biblical view of the afterlife, the Septuagint translators borrowed this word Hades to render the Hebrew word Sheol. Thus, Sheol and Hades are the same thing. It refers to the neutral place where all departed souls go, whether good and bad, whether saved or lost. The key point is that Sheol/Hades is a neutral concept, and is totally distinct from the negative concept of Hell or Gehenna.
And just as in the Greek pagan view, the biblical view is that Hades is subdivided into two sections, one for the saved and one for the lost. This is the view presupposed by Jesus in the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus in Luke 16. Although they both went to Hades when they died, these two men had very different experiences there. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s Bosom. The rich man also died and he also went to Hades, but he was in torment in a place that was separated from Abraham’s Bosom by an uncrossable chasm.
(For more on the historical development of a “two-section” Hades in post-OT Judaism, see the excellent article by Joachim Jeremias on ᾅδης in Kittel’s Theological Dictionary of the New Testament.)
It should also be pointed out that “Sheol” in Hebrew becomes “Hades” in Greek, and “Hades” in Greek becomes “Infernum” in Latin, which is the word used in the Apostles’ Creed (descendit ad inferna). In the Vulgate, most occurrences of “Sheol” in the OT or “Hades” in the NT are rendered “Infernum,” i.e., the underworld.
So when we recite the Creed and say that Christ “descended into hell,” we aren’t saying that he descended into Gehenna or the Lake of Fire. Instead, we’re affirming that he descended to the underworld, the realm of the dead, called “Sheol” in Hebrew and “Hades” in Greek. The Bible teaches that between the death of Jesus on the cross and his resurrection on the third day, his body was laid in the tomb and his human soul went to Hades, the place where all souls go after death prior to the day of judgment.
This is clear from Peter’s sermon in Acts 2, where Peter quotes Psalm 16 and applies it to Jesus. In its original setting, Psalm 16 is a psalm of confidence in which David expresses his certainty that God will not abandon his soul in Hades. But here’s the interesting part. Peter says that David wasn’t really talking about himself. Peter reasons that David died and was buried and his tomb is with us to this day. So he couldn’t have been talking about himself. Rather, since David was a prophet, and since he knew that God had promised him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, David actually foresaw the future and spoke about the resurrection of Christ. When David said, “You will not abandon my soul to Hades,” he was speaking the words that Jesus himself would one day take up on his lips. So this is a crucial proof text for the statement in the Creed that Jesus descended into Hades.
Now just to be clear, Jesus did not go to that portion of Hades that is the lot of the wicked, the place of provisional punishment. Rather he went to that portion of Hades that is the lot of the righteous, the place of joy in the presence of God. This good part of Hades is also called “Paradise” or “Abraham’s Bosom.” That’s why Jesus said to the thief on the cross, “Today, you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43).
My third post will address the question, "What did Jesus do in Hades?"
When we recite the Apostles’ Creed in church, we have no problem with the affirmation that Jesus “suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.” But when we come to the next phrase, “He descended into hell,” we scratch our heads and wonder what is meant. The affirmation that Christ descended into hell is one of the most celebrated and controversial sentences in the Apostles’ Creed.
Some Protestants have objected to this clause. There was one Protestant pastor named Walter Deloenus in the 16th century who pastored a congregation in London. He didn’t think the descent clause was biblical and so he just deleted it. However, this created a bit of dust-up, and after he was rebuked by his fellow pastors he acknowledged his error.
Even today there are well known Evangelical scholars like Wayne Grudem who want to strike this clause. In 1991, Grudem published an article titled, “He Did Not Descend Into Hell: A Plea for Following Scripture Instead of the Apostles’ Creed” (JETS March 1991). He pointed out that the descent clause seems to have been added later, first showing up in the Creed of the Council of Sirmium in AD 359. The descent clause was not universally included in the Creed until around AD 650. But Grudem’s main argument is that it’s just not biblical. Nowhere does the Bible teach that Jesus descended into hell.
Calvin was equally concerned with this phrase and felt the weight of these objections against it. However, he didn’t want to tamper with an ancient Creed, so he interpreted it metaphorically (Institutes 2.16.8-12). He said that the descent of Jesus into hell means that Jesus endured the torments of hell in his soul prior to his death. Calvin’s interpretation is theologically acceptable. It’s true that Jesus “endured most grievous torments … in his soul” (WCF VIII.4), in addition to the painful sufferings of his body. Calvin’s metaphorical interpretation has had a tremendous influence in the continental Reformed tradition. It is the view enshrined in the Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 16:
Question 44: Why is there added, “he descended into hell”? Answer: That in my greatest temptations, I may be assured, and wholly comfort myself in this, that my Lord Jesus Christ, by his inexpressible anguish, pains, terrors, and hellish agonies, in which he was plunged during all his sufferings, but especially on the cross, has delivered me from the anguish and torments of hell.
This metaphorical interpretation is defended by many Reformed pastors to this day, e.g., Daniel Hyde, In Defense of the Descent (Reformation Heritage Books, 2010).
But I just can’t see that this is what was intended by “he descended into hell.” If the descent clause is a metaphorical way of describing Christ’s atoning sufferings on the cross, then it’s in the wrong place. It should be after “was crucified” and before “died and was buried.” On the cross Jesus said, “It is finished,” so we know that the atoning sufferings of Christ were completed before he died. He did not go into hell after his death to suffer further punishment in our place.
On February 29, 2012, I published my critique of Tim Keller's paper on "Evangelistic Worship" on my website. Over the past months, I have received helpful feedback from the session of New Life Burbank and other individuals who have taken the time to dialogue with me. As a result of these interactions, I have decided to revise the paper.
Most of the revisions pertain to clarifying two terms that I used too frequently in the earlier version of this paper but that I now realize were ambiguous: “address” and “unbelievers.” By “address” I mean to engage apologetically with the aim of seeking to convert. By “unbelievers” I mean those not professing faith in Christ as members of the covenant community. I have also added an Appendix answering questions prompted by my paper.
One point that did not come across in the original version is that I am not opposed to welcoming visitors from the pulpit and demonstrating an attitude of hospitality to them. In addition, I am not opposed to occasional invitations to those who do not profess faith in Christ to come to Christ, as long as such invitations do not overwhelm and detract from the covenantal nature of the worship, although I do not think a preacher has an obligation to include such gospel invitations in every sermon. So those are a couple of points on which I have corrected the paper in light of the feedback. My original language came across as overly restrictive.
I appreciate the feedback and questions, from friends on both sides of this debate, which have prodded me to clarify my thinking and be more precise in my language. It is great when iron sharpens iron in a constructive manner, something that does not happen frequently enough when we have disagreements in the church.
One of my favorite sections of the Westminster Confession of Faith is chapter 8, Of Christ the Mediator:
1. It pleased God, in his eternal purpose, to choose and ordain the Lord Jesus, his only begotten Son, to be the Mediator between God and man, the Prophet, Priest, and King, the Head and Savior of his church, the Heir of all things, and Judge of the world: unto whom he did from all eternity give a people, to be his seed, and to be by him in time redeemed, called, justified, sanctified, and glorified.
2. The Son of God, the second person in the Trinity, being very and eternal God, of one substance and equal with the Father, did, when the fullness of time was come, take upon him man's nature, with all the essential properties, and common infirmities thereof, yet without sin; being conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost, in the womb of the virgin Mary, of her substance. So that two whole, perfect, and distinct natures, the Godhead and the manhood, were inseparably joined together in one person, without conversion, composition, or confusion. Which person is very God, and very man, yet one Christ, the only Mediator between God and man.
3. The Lord Jesus, in his human nature thus united to the divine, was sanctified, and anointed with the Holy Spirit, above measure, having in him all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge; in whom it pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell; to the end that, being holy, harmless, undefiled, and full of grace and truth, he might be thoroughly furnished to execute the office of a mediator, and surety. Which office he took not unto himself, but was thereunto called by his Father, who put all power and judgment into his hand, and gave him commandment to execute the same.
4. This office the Lord Jesus did most willingly undertake; which that he might discharge, he was made under the law, and did perfectly fulfill it; endured most grievous torments immediately in his soul, and most painful sufferings in his body; was crucified, and died, was buried, and remained under the power of death, yet saw no corruption. On the third day he arose from the dead, with the same body in which he suffered, with which also he ascended into heaven, and there sitteth at the right hand of his Father, making intercession, and shall return, to judge men and angels, at the end of the world.
5. The Lord Jesus, by his perfect obedience, and sacrifice of himself, which he, through the eternal Spirit, once offered up unto God, hath fully satisfied the justice of his Father; and purchased, not only reconciliation, but an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven, for all those whom the Father hath given unto him.
6. Although the work of redemption was not actually wrought by Christ till after his incarnation, yet the virtue, efficacy, and benefits thereof were communicated unto the elect, in all ages successively from the beginning of the world, in and by those promises, types, and sacrifices, wherein he was revealed, and signified to be the seed of the woman which should bruise the serpent's head; and the Lamb slain from the beginning of the world; being yesterday and today the same, and forever.
7. Christ, in the work of mediation, acts according to both natures, by each nature doing that which is proper to itself; yet, by reason of the unity of the person, that which is proper to one nature is sometimes in Scripture attributed to the person denominated by the other nature.
8. To all those for whom Christ hath purchased redemption, he doth certainly and effectually apply and communicate the same; making intercession for them, and revealing unto them, in and by the Word, the mysteries of salvation; effectually persuading them by his Spirit to believe and obey, and governing their hearts by his Word and Spirit; overcoming all their enemies by his almighty power and wisdom, in such manner, and ways, as are most consonant to his wonderful and unsearchable dispensation.
Jesus Christ is just the Savior we need.
If he were only God but not fully man, he would not be able to sympathize with us in our weakness, to be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, and he would not be able to undertake the human side of the covenant on our behalf, to represent us before God and yield the obedience we could never yield and to pay the debt of sin that we could never pay.
If he were only man but not fully God, then he might be the most wise, holy, and benevolent man the world has ever known, but we could only admire him from a distance, but could never draw near to him as our all-powerful Savior in whom all the fullness of the Godhead dwells in bodily form (Col 2:9) so that he might bring to bear the almighty and infinite resources of his deity for us and for our salvation.
The divine Son of God, who made heaven and earth, who upholds all things by the word of his power, who is immutable and eternal, assumed our nature in order that he might bear our sins and bear the infinite punishment of God’s wrath that we deserved for our sins. Christ is one person with two distinct natures, divine and human. Because of the unity of the two natures of Christ in one person, because the human nature is one that was assumed and brought into personal union with a divine person, the Son of God, this gives infinite value and merit to the obedience and sufferings of Christ. The death of Christ is not the death of any ordinary man, but the death of the God-man. When he died, he satisfied the justice of God in our place.
No wonder Peter said that we come to Jesus as to “a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious … and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame” (1 Pet 2:4, 6).
Jesus, the sinner’s Friend,
We hide ourselves in Thee;
God looks upon Thy sprinkled blood,
It is our only plea.
He hears Thy precious Name,
We claim it as our own;
The Father must accept and bless
His well-beloved Son.
Thou hast fulfilled the law,
And we are justified:
Ours is the blessing, Thine the curse;
We live, for Thou hast died.
Jesus, the sinner’s Friend!
We cannot speak Thy praise;
No mortal voice can sing the song
That ransomed hearts would raise.
But when before the throne,
Thy face we all shall see,
Clothed in our blood-bought robes of white,
We’ll stand complete in Thee.
Jesus, we’ll give Thee then
Such praises as are meet,
And give ten thousand thanks to Thee,
Adoring, at Thy feet.
New Life Burbank,the congregation of which Misty and I and our covenant children are members, and where I currently serve as a ruling elder, is looking for a new pastor. The church is located in Burbank, California, and is part of the Pacific Presbytery of the PCA. We are a racially-mixed congregation of approximately 80 adult communicant members who are predominantly Asian-American, within the age range of 25-45. We are looking for a mature man who can model for us what it means to walk with Christ. We are looking for a servant who loves the sheep and wants to shepherd them with a Christlike spirit of love and humility. Our church is committed to Christ-centered, diligent, and meaningful exposition of the Scriptures in which the imperatives flow out of the indicatives. Prospective applicants may find more information here: www.newlifeburbank.org/pastorsearch