Thursday, March 05, 2015

39 Artciles Lent Course Session 2 Part 1: "finishing off God"

Lent Course 2015 – The 39 Articles - Session 2 – Handout 1
Articles 2-5: God (continued)

Article 2: Of the Word or Son of God, which was made very Man

The Son, which is the Word of the Father, begotten from everlasting of the Father, the very and eternal God, and of one substance with the Father, took Man's nature in the womb of the blessed Virgin, of her substance: so that two whole and perfect Natures, that is to say, the Godhead and Manhood, were joined together in one Person, never to be divided, whereof is one Christ, very God, and very Man; who truly suffered, was crucified, dead, and buried, to reconcile his Father to us, and to be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for actual sins of men.

The true divinity and the true humanity of Christ - Cf. the creeds in the Prayer Book & the Chalcedonian Definition (451)

“Son” – 2nd person of the Trinity – not physically, biologically but relationship to the Father – Lk 1:35; Jn 1:34; Rm 1:4; Heb 1:2-5 – the Father could not be Father without his Son

“Word” – John 1:1,14; Rev 19:13 – OT: the Word by which God creates, saves, reveals himself etc.; logos, logic, reason, principle, self-expression, self-communication of God

“very” = Latin “verus” = true, truly God

“begotten from everlasting” – John 1:14; Col 2:9 – The eternal Son is uncreated, “begotten not made” - not physically  – the Son is the heir of all things – Jn 5:26, 6:57; Heb 1:3

“one substance” – sharing the same divine nature, both equally God – cf. homousious (same) and homoiousios (like) – one iota’s difference

The virgin birth - Is 7:14; Mt 1:18-25; Lk 1:34-35 see also Mk 6:3; Jn 1:13, 6:41-42; Gal 4:4; Phil 2:7 – not especially unbelievable, cf. creation, miracles, resurrection. Jesus had a sinless humanity (Heb 4:15; Rom 8:3). It may be that by his virgin birth he avoided inheriting Adam’s guilt and sinful nature (Lk 1:35). Highlights human inability – salvation is the work of God alone which human begins receive from outside themselves. 

2 natures (true God and true man) in 1 person, 1 self (Christ) – Jesus not a 3rd kind of mixture – union of natures without confusion

The true humanity of Christ – The Second Adam, fulfilment of God’s plan for creation Ps 8, Heb 2:5-12 – essential to our salvation – real body, Jesus hungry (Mt 4:2), weary (Jn 4:6), heavy and sorrowful (Mk 14:33), grew in stature and knowledge (Lk 2:52), died, tempted (Heb 2:7, 4:15) – Christ sympathises with us, knows what it’s like to be human from the inside out, by personal experience not just divine omnipotence

“never to be divided” – incarnation not temporary – after the incarnation, Jesus remains the God-Man

truly suffered” – God suffered as a man in Christ; the Son suffered according to the human nature – God cannot suffer (in his divine nature) – see Article 1

On original guilt see Article 9 on original sin. Some Roman Catholics apparently taught that Jesus died only for original sin and the Mass made atonement for actual sin (Augsburg Confession XXIV). Distinguish sinful nature and sinful acts which flow from it.

On the atonement see also Articles 15 and 31.

Christ’s death as reconciling – Rm 5:10-11; 2 Cor 5:18-20; Eph 2:16; Col 1:19-20 – note reconcile the Father to us, not just us to the Father – a propitiation dealing with the wrath of God – Rm 1:18; 3:28; Heb 2:17; 1 Jn 2:2; 4:10 – of course not the nice Son reconciling the mean Father to us – God the Father in his love sends the Son who comes willingly – God satisfies the wrath of God

Christ’s sacrifice for sin – Jn 1:29; Rm 3:25; 1 Cor 5:7; Eph 5:2; Heb 9:26; 1 Pt 1:19

Further reading: Donald MacLeod, The Person of Christ (IVP, 1998)

Article 3: Of the going down of Christ into Hell

As Christ died for us, and was buried; so also it is to be believed, that he went down into Hell.

The phrase “he descended into hell” is not found in the earliest known versions of the Apostles’ creed. It first appeared in AD 390 when it was understood to mean simply that Christ really died and was buried. The Greek form of the creed has the word “hades” which can mean the grave / place of the dead not just hell. The phrase reappeared referring to hell in AD 650.

We may say that Christ suffered hell on the cross as he bore the punishment for sin. Calvin, Institutes 2.16.8-12.

Even if Jesus did go to hell after his death (which I’m not convinced he did!) we’d certainly want to say that he was just visiting! He finished his saving work on the cross (Jn 19:30). Hell could have no claim on the sinless Son of God. It is best to think that when Jesus died his Spirit went directly to be with his Father in Paradise (Lk 23:43, 46). Heb 9:24-26 speaks of Jesus entering heaven on our behalf, rather than hell. After his death Jesus’ body remained in the grave while his spirit was in heaven and then on Easter Sunday his body and soul were reunited at his resurrection (as ours will be on the great final day).

Some people have found support for the idea that Jesus descended into hell in Acts 2:27 (KJV/AV has “hell” for the Greek hades, OT sheol, grave / death), Rm 10:6-7 (abyss, depths or grave is a better translation here, though Paul is saying we should not ask that question!), Eph 4:8-9 (though this verse is probably speaking of Jesus coming to earth not going to hell) and 1 Pt 4:6 (though the dead here seems to mean those who were alive but are now dead, as the NIV takes it). It is probably best to think that 1 Pt 3:18-20 refers to Christ speaking (by the Spirit) through the preaching of Noah to the people of Noah’s day when they were alive, who are now spirits in prison in hell (see also 1 Pt 1:11; 2 Pt 2:5) though some think that Christ did go to hell and proclaim his victory to the fallen angels / demons (cf. ? the sons of God of Gen 6:1-4).

Article 4: Of the Resurrection of Christ

Christ did truly rise again from death, and took again his body, with flesh, bones, and all things appertaining to the perfection of Man's nature; wherewith he ascended into Heaven, and there sitteth, until he return to judge all Men at the last day.

Bodily resurrection – the empty tomb, Mt 28:1-8; Mk 16:1-8; Lk 24:1-11; Jn 20:1-8; Jesus is specifically said not to be a ghost, Lk 24:36-43 see also Lk 24:30; Mt 28:9; Jn 20:26-28, 21:9-14 – the risen Jesus can be seen, talk, eat and be touched. On the resurrection body see 1 Cor 15. The Christian hope is for a New (re-newed) Creation – Rom 8:18-25

Heaven” - Heaven is God’s space, realm or dwelling place (Ps 33:13-14; Mt 6:9; Ps 2:4). In Hebrew and Greek the Bible uses the same word for heaven and for the sky (something we can do in English too, “the heavens” can be the skies). Jim Packer suggests that “the sky, which, being above us and more like infinity than anything else we know, is an emblem in space and time of God’s eternal life.”

Jim Packer argues: “To think of heaven as a place is more right than wrong, though the word could mislead. Heaven appears in Scripture as a spatial reality that touches and interpenetrates all created space.” Since Jesus’ physical-spiritual glorified resurrection body is in heaven, that would suggest it is a place. We need not think of heaven as “up there”. We can’t say where heaven is, even if that’s a sensible question.

Jesus’ resurrection and ascension amount to his vindication, the Father’s seal of approval on him and acceptance of his finished saving work. “sitteth” – enthroned (Rev 3:21), a man on the throne of the universe - Heb 1:3; 10:11-14; 12:2

Ascension - Acts 1:6-11, 2:33-34, 3:21; Jn 6:62, 20:17; Eph 4:8-10; 1 Thess 1:10; 1 Tim 3:16; Heb 4:14, 9:24; 1 Pt 3:22; Rev 5:6

Heavenly reign of Christ – Ps 110:1; 1 Cor 15:25; Rom 8:34; Heb 7:23-26; 9:24; 1 Jn 2:1-2

Christ’s return as judge – Mt 25:31-46; Jn 5:25-29; 1 Cor 15:51-52; 2 Cor 5:0-10; 2 Thess 1:7-10; Rev 1:7; 20:11-15; 2 Tim 4:1; 1 Thess 4:13-5:11

Article 5: Of the Holy Ghost

The Holy Ghost, proceeding from the Father and the Son, is of one substance, majesty, and glory, with the Father and the Son, very and eternal God.

Holy” - means special or separate / set apart. The Holy Spirit is unique and as God is set apart from all evil and sin.

Ghost” = Latin, “Spiritus”, Spirit, not ghosts as we might think of them (e.g. spirits of the dead)

proceeding from the Father and the Son” – The Great Schism between East and West 1054 – The East rejects the filioque clause, “and the Son”, whereas the West teaches “double procession”. Whatever exactly “proceeding” means?  The Spirit is uncreated and not begotten, i.e. he has a unique relationship the Father and Son proper to him as Spirit. Cf. Spirit = breath – Gen 2:7; Ps 33:6; Ez 37:1-14; Jn 20:22

The Spirit of the Father: Mt 10:20; Rm 8:11; Lk 11:13; Jn 14:16, 26; 15:26; Act 2:33. The Spirit of the Son: Rm 8:9; Phil 1:19; 1 Pt 1:11; Gal 4:6; Acts 2:33; 16:17; Jn 15:26; 16:7; 20:22

The divinity of the Spirit: Acts 5:3-4; 2 Cor 3:18; Lk 11:20 and Mt 12:28; Acts 28:25-28 with Is 6:9-10; 1 Cor 3:16; 6:19; Mk 3:29; Heb 9:14; 1 Cor 2:10-11; Ps 139:7-10; Gen 1:2; Ps 33:6; Is 61:1; 2 Pt 1:21; Lk 1:35; Jn 3:5-7; Tit 3:5; 1 Jn 3:9 as well as Trinitarian passages

Personal, like Father and Son, not merely a “force”- Jn 14-17; Rm 8:26-27; 1 Cor 12:4-11; Gal 5:18; Eph 4:30; Acts 5:4; Mk 3:29. He not it!

Further reading: Sinclair Ferguson, The Holy Spirit (IVP, 1996)

What are the applications / implications / uses of these doctrines? How do they affect our praises and prayers?

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