an expository sermon on Matthew 21:1-17 preached by Pastor Jordan Atkinson on February 28, 2021
an expository sermon on Isaiah 8 preached by Pastor Jordan Atkinson on January 10, 2021
an expository sermon on Matthew 7:13-29 preached by Pastor Jordan Atkinson on October 13, 2019
Living in the United States in the 21st century, we are blessed with a plethora of theological resources. The Bible, the gospel, and the things of God have never been so accessible as they are now in our society. Below are some of the books and articles that have been most helpful to me both to know God better and to love God better, the focus of Article II of Friendship’s statement of faith.
Resources on the Attributes of God
All That Is in God: Evangelical Theology and the Challenge of Classical Christian Theism by James E. Dolezal
God’s Greater Glory: The Exalted God of Scripture and the Christian Faith by Bruce Ware
Knowing God by J. I. Packer
The Holiness of God by R. C. Sproul
Resources on the Trinity
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: Relationships, Roles, and Relevance by Bruce Ware
Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Christian Belief by John M. Frame
Resources on God the Son
God the Son Incarnate: The Doctrine of Christ by Stephen J. Wellum
The Person of Christ by Donald MacLeod
Resources on the Holy Spirit
God’s Indwelling Presence: The Holy Spirit in the Old and New Testaments by James M. Hamilton Jr.
Spiritual Gifts: What They Are and Why They Matter by Thomas R. Schreiner
The Holy Spirit by Sinclair Ferguson
“The Witness of the Spirit in Romans 8:16: Interpretation and Applications” by Daniel B. Wallace. Pp. 37-52 in Who’s Afraid of the Holy Spirit? An Investigation into the Ministry of the Spirit of God Today, edited by Daniel B. Wallace and M. James Sawyer. (He has published an online version of this essay at bible.org.)
Having discussed the person of Christ, the Baptist Faith and Message includes a paragraph on the work of Christ: “He honored the divine law by His personal obedience, and in His substitutionary death on the cross He made provision for the redemption of men from sin. He was raised from the dead with a glorified body and appeared to His disciples as the person who was with them before His crucifixion. He ascended into heaven and is now exalted at the right hand of God where He is the One Mediator, fully God, fully man, in whose Person is effected the reconciliation between God and man. He will return in power and glory to judge the world and to consummate His redemptive mission. He now dwells in all believers as the living and ever present Lord.” This discussion of the work of Christ extends from the past, to the present, into the future.
The Work of Christ in His First Coming
In his first coming, Jesus’ work centered on accomplishing the redemption of his people from sin. Jesus did this by living a life of perfect obedience and dying in our place on the cross. The Baptist Faith and Message affirms what theologians call the active and passive obedience of Christ. The active obedience of Christ is “His personal obedience.” This is a positive way of putting the doctrine stated negatively in the previous blog post (Christ’s sinlessness). Jesus fulfilled the Law and the Prophets (Matt 5:17). “He is and does all that they predicted” (Charles Quarles, The Sermon on the Mount [Nashville: B&H Academic, 2011], 93). Jesus obeyed the Sabbath, even though the scribes and Pharisees objected to his actions (Matt 12:1-14). He affirmed the law of the tithe (Matt 23:23-24). Jesus perfectly obeyed the law.
Jesus’ death is referred to his passive obedience, even though he was no less active in going to his death than when he was obeying God’s commands. He submitted himself to the punishment of the law that everyone else deserved but that he didn’t deserve. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” (Gal 3:13). He accomplished redemption at the cross, and we receive this redemption “through faith” (Gal 3:14). “Christ crucified” is “the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Cor 1:22-24). Because Jesus died on the cross in our place, he “became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1 Cor 1:30).
We know that Jesus’ death accomplished redemption because God raised him from the dead. All four Gospels record Jesus’ resurrection. Paul affirms that Jesus appeared after his resurrection to Peter, his disciples, hundreds of Christians, and James his brother (1 Cor 15:3-7). John records that Jesus still had scars from the nails and spear that pierced him (John 20:19-29). He also tells us that Jesus ate, which indicates that his was a bodily resurrection (John 21:4-14). Forty days after Jesus’ resurrection, he ascended to heaven (Acts 1:3-11).
The Work of Christ Now
Now, Jesus is “exalted at the right hand of God where He is the One Mediator, fully God, fully man.” He remains the God-Man. Paul explains that it is precisely because Jesus humbled himself to death on a cross that God has highly exalted him to this position where he has the name above all others (Phil 2:6-11). Jesus told his disciples before the ascension, “all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matt 28:18). He is the one Mediator between God and humanity (1 Tim 2:5-6). As Mediator, he intercedes for us his people (Heb 7:23-25).
Jesus also now puts into effect the reconciliation between God and man that he accomplished at the cross. Now, God reconciles us to himself through Christ (2 Cor 5:18). He accomplished this reconciliation at the cross (2 Cor 5:19). He applies that reconciliation to people throughout history through the preaching of Jesus’ death and resurrection by Christians. All Christians have this ministry of reconciliation, of proclaiming to others that you can be reconciled to God through faith in Jesus Christ as the atoning sacrifice for your sin.
Finally, Jesus “now dwells in all believers as the living and ever present Lord.” Jesus prayed that Christians would be “in” him and the Father (John 17:21). He also prayed that he would be “in them” (John 17:23, 26). Jesus now is present in the lives of all Christians in the person of the Holy Spirit, as will be discussed in future blog posts about the Holy Spirit.
The Work of Christ in His Second Coming
At his second coming, Jesus will accomplish two purposes: “to judge the world and to consummate His redemptive mission.” John foresaw Jesus accomplish each of these things in the vision the Lord gave him:
Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”Revelation 20:11-21:8
The work of Christ as the incarnate Son of God extends from his first coming, through the present, to his second coming. Eternal judgment and eternal salvation will be consummated at the end of the age under the auspices of the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us Christians praise our Lord Jesus for his obedient life, sacrificial death, triumphant resurrection, present intercession for us, and promised return! As we await his sure return, let us live faithful lives to him for his glory!
The Baptist Faith and Message has important confessions about both the person of Christ and his work. “Christ is the eternal Son of God. In His incarnation as Jesus Christ He was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. Jesus perfectly revealed and did the will of God, taking upon Himself human nature with its demands and necessities and identifying Himself completely with mankind yet without sin.” Friendship’s statement of faith discusses Christ’s person in terms of his incarnation and human nature.
The confession’s discussion of Jesus’ incarnation begins with a re-affirmation of Jesus’ eternal deity: “Christ is the eternal Son of God.” This contention was a major point in a previous blog post on the Trinity. Christ’s incarnation deals with how the eternal Son of God became a human being. God the Son became the God-Man, Christ Jesus. “He was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary.” Both Matthew and Luke begin their Gospels by teaching that Jesus is the eternal God the Son incarnate.
Matthew teaches that Jesus is Immanuel in fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah 7:14 (Matt 1:22-23). Jesus was virgin-conceived and virgin-born. The angel affirms Jesus’ conception in the virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit to Joseph (Matt 1:20-21). Matthew teaches that Mary was still a virgin when Jesus was born (Matt 1:25). Jesus perfectly fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy, which was that not only would the Savior be born of a virgin but that the Savior would in fact be God incarnate.
Luke likewise opens his Gospel with an affirmation of Jesus’ identity as the incarnate Son of God. In perfect agreement with Matthew, Luke teaches that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35). Gabriel told Mary that her son “will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end” (Luke 1:33). For his kingdom to be eternal, he must similarly be no mere man but the God-Man, even as prophesied by Daniel, “one like a son of man … was presented before [God]. And to him was given a dominion … an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away” (Dan 7:13-14). Jesus’ incarnation shows that he is the eternal Son of God, but his special conception in no way diminishes from his full humanity. As the second Adam, it is fitting that Jesus, like Adam, would have no human biological father. It is fitting that the offspring of the woman to crush the head of the serpent would be conceived and born of a woman without the biological help of any human man (Gen 3:15).
Christ’s Human Nature
Jesus Christ was both fully God and fully man. As a man, he had a full “human nature with its demands and necessities and identif[ied] Himself completely with mankind yet without sin.” Each part of this statement is important. Jesus took on the demands and necessities of human nature. He was fully human physically, intellectually, emotionally, and volitionally.
Fully human, Jesus was in his humanity constrained by space and time, even as God is spirit and omnipresent. As a man, Jesus experienced hunger that Satan strove to exploit (Matt 4:1-3). He got thirsty in the heat of the day (John 4:6-7). Jesus experienced the tragedy of homelessness (Matt 8:20). He needed sleep (Matt 8:24). As a human, Jesus “grew and became strong, filled with wisdom,” and he “increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:40, 52). From the excruciating agony of the cross, Jesus thirsted (John 19:28-30).
Jesus as a man also knew the limitations of human knowledge. The most direct statement of the human limitation of Jesus’ knowledge, in addition to Luke’s statements that Jesus grew in wisdom as he grew from a child to an adult, comes late in Jesus’ ministry: “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only” (Matt 24:36). As a human being, Jesus experienced the reality of Deuteronomy 29:29, “The secret things belong to the Lord our God.”
Fully human, Jesus had human emotions. He felt pity (Mark 1:41). He marveled at unbelief (Mark 6:6). He had compassion on people (Mark 8:2). He loved people (John 11:5). He got angry (John 11:33). His soul was greatly troubled on the eve of his crucifixion (John 12:27).
Finally, Jesus had a fully human will, as well as a divine will. As a boy, Jesus had to submit to Mary and Joseph as his parents, which he did (Luke 2:51). Even as an adult, his will is subservient to that of Father God (John 5:19, 30). Jesus’ submission of his human will to the divine will is most apparent in Gethsemane:
And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.” And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”Mark 14:32-36
As a man, Jesus very naturally did not want to die. As a perfectly righteous man, Jesus very rightly did not want to experience the cup of the wrath of God. But even at this moment of greatest temptation, Jesus submitted his human will to that of God the Father. Donald Macleod describes Jesus’ triumph over temptation most poignantly:
he was not being called upon to mortify a lust. He was being called upon to frustrate the holiest aspiration of which man is capable … We must be careful not to misconstrue the effect of Jesus’s sinless integrity at this point. Far from meaning a shorter, painless struggle with temptation it involved him in protracted resistance. … The very fact that he was invincible meant that he endured the full force of temptation’s ferocity, until hell slunk away, defeated and exhausted.The Person of Christ (Downers Grove: IVP, 1998), pp. 226-228
And Macleod’s quote gets at the truth of the last aspect of the Baptist Faith and Message’s discussion of Jesus’ human nature: his sinlessness. Scripture teaches that Jesus was both without a sin nature and that he never once committed a sin.
Numerous Bible verses affirm that Jesus did not have a sin nature. Paul calls Adam a type of Christ (Rom 5:14). Just as Adam originally did not have a sin nature, so did Christ not have a sin nature. His miraculous conception by the Holy Spirit also miraculously preserved his humanity from receiving a sin nature. Throughout his life, Jesus was in the position that Adam was in the Garden of Eden. But unlike Adam, Jesus never sinned. Both Paul and John explicitly state that Jesus was and is sinless: Jesus “knew no sin” Paul said (2 Cor 5:21), and John says, “in him there is no sin” (1 John 3:5). These statements not only affirm the sinless actions of Christ but also the sinless nature of Christ.
In addition to being sinless, Jesus never committed a sin. He was “like his brothers in every respect” and “suffered when tempted” (Heb 2:17-18). Because he never gave in to temptation, “he learned obedience” and was “perfect” (Heb 5:8-9). Because he was perfect, his sacrifice was acceptable to God (Heb 7:27-28). Peter teaches plainly, “he committed no sin” (1 Pet 2:22). Macleod’s comments are again helpful, “Nowhere in the structures of his being was there any sin. Satan had no foot-hold in him. … There was no affinity with sin. There was no proclivity to sin. There was no possibility of temptation from within. In no respect was he fallen and in no respect was his nature corrupt” (ibid., 222).
We at Friendship Baptist Church are so thankful that God became man in the person of Christ Jesus. We are so thankful that he was perfectly obedient in his full, human life. We are thankful for his sinlessness, which he credits to us through faith in him.