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Jacob’s Prayer A. W. Pink

There is not a little in the prayer of Jacob which is worthy of close attention, the more so as it was a prevailing prayer, and that it is the first recorded real prayer in the Bible.

“And Jacob said, O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, the Lord which saidst unto me, Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I will deal well with thee; I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast showed unto thy servant; for with my staff I passed over this Jordan; and now I am become two bands. Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau; for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, and the mother with the children. And thou saidst, I will surely do thee good, and make thy seed as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.” (Genesis 32:9-12.)

First, the God to whom he prayed. He approached God not merely as God the Creator, but as “the God of his father Abraham and the God of his father Isaac.” It was God in Covenant relationship. This was laying hold of the Divine faithfulness; it was the prayer of faith. It means much to approach God thus; to appeal to Him on the ground of a sure and established relationship. We come before God not as the God of our forefathers, but as the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, and therefore our “God and Father.” It is as we plead this relationship He is pleased to bless us.

Second, Jacob cast himself on the sure Word of Jehovah, pleading before Him His promise. He humbly reminded the Lord how He had said, “Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I will deal well with thee.” Here again we do well to learn from Jacob. The Scriptures contain many promises given to believers in general, and it is our individual privilege to plead them before God in particular, the more so when, like our patriarch, we encounter difficulties and opposition in the way wherein He has directed us to walk. Jacob pleaded a definite promise; so must we. In 2 Corinthians 12:9 we read, “My grace is sufficient for thee.” Come to the Throne of Grace at the beginning of each day, reverently and believingly remind the Lord of this declaration of His, and then say with one of old, “Do as Thou hast said” (2 Samuel 7:25). Again, we read in Philippians 4:19, “My God shall supply all your need.” Tell the Lord of this in the hour of emergency, and say, “Lord, do as Thou hast said.”

Third, Jacob fully acknowledged his own utter lack of desert [worthiness]. He confessed that the Lord was in no wise his debtor. He took a lowly place before the Most High. He owned that “he was not worthy of the least of all God’s mercies.” Mark this well, dear reader, for very little teaching is heard in these days that leads to self-abasement. It has become a rarity to hear a saint of God confessing his unworthiness. There is so much said about living on a high plane of spirituality, so much Laodicean boasting, that many are afraid to acknowledge before other believers that they are “not worthy of the least of God’s mercies.” One sometimes wonders if this is the chief reason why so few of us have any real power in prayer today. Certain it is that we must get down into the dust before God if we would receive His blessing. We must come before Him as empty-handed supplicants, if He is to fill us. We must own our ill deserts, and be ready to receive from Him on the ground of grace alone if we are to have our prayers answered.

Finally, notice the motive which actuated Jacob in presenting the petition he did. That for which he made request was expressed as follows: “Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau; for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, and the mother with the children.” At first glance, it would appear that our patriarch was moved by nothing higher than the natural affections of the human heart. It would seem that this was the petition of a kind husband and a tender father. But as we re-read this request of Jacob in the light of the closing words of his prayer, we shall discover he was prompted by a far worthier and higher motive. He at once added, “And thou saidst, I will surely do thee good, and make thy seed as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.” In this conclusion to the prayer, we may see not only a further pleading of God’s promise, but an eye to God’s glory. Jehovah had promised to make Jacob’s seed as the sand of the sea, but if his wife and children were slain how then could God’s promise be fulfilled! Now it is natural, and by no means wrong, for us to be deeply concerned over the salvation of our loved ones; but our chief concern must center itself not in the well being of those who are united to us by the ties of blood or intimate friendship, but for the glory of God. “Whatsoever ye do (in prayer, as in everything else) do all to the glory of God” — to this everything else must be subordinated. Here, then, is a searching test: Why am I so anxious to see certain ones saved? — Simply because they are near and dear to me? Or that God may be glorified and Christ magnified in their salvation? May Divine grace purge us of selfishness and purify our motives in prayer. And may God use these few words and cause both writer and reader to cry, with ever increasing fervor, “Lord, teach us to pray.”

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The Love of God by A. W. Pink

“The Love of God” by A. W. Pink [PDF]

There are three things told us in Scripture concerning the nature of God.

First, “God is spirit” (John 4:24).  In the Greek, there is no indefinite article and to say “God is a spirit” is most objectionable, for it places Him in a class with others.  God is “spirit” in the highest sense.  Because He is “spirit” He is incorporeal, having no visible substance.  Had God a tangible body, He would not be omnipresent, He would be limited to one place; because He is spirit, He fills heaven and earth.

Second, “God is light” (1 John 1:5), which is the opposite of “darkness.”  In Scripture, “darkness” stands for sin, evil, death; and “light” for holiness, goodness, life.  God is light, means that He is the sum of all excellency.

Third, “God is love” (1 John 4:8).  It is not simply that God “loves,” but that He is Love itself.  Love is not merely one of His attributes, but His very nature.

There are many today who talk about the love of God who are total strangers to the God of love.  The Divine love is commonly regarded as a species of amiable weakness, a sort of good-natured indulgence; it is reduced to a mere sickly sentiment, patterned after human emotion.  Now the truth is that on this, as on everything else, our thoughts need to be formed and regulated by what is revealed thereon in Holy Scripture.  That there is urgent need for this is apparent not only from the ignorance which so generally prevails, but also from the low state of spirituality which is now so sadly evident everywhere among professing Christians.  How little real love there is for God.  One chief reason for this is because our hearts are so little occupied with His wondrous love for His people.  The better we are acquainted with His love—its character, fullness, blessedness—the more will our hearts be drawn out in love to Him.

1. The love of God is uninfluenced. By this we mean, there was nothing whatever in the objects of His love to call it into exercise, nothing in the creature to attract or prompt it.  The love which one creature has for another is because of something in them; but the love of God is free, spontaneous, uncaused.  The only reason why God loves any is found in His own sovereign will: “The Lord did not set His love upon you, nor choose you because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: but because the Lord loved thee” (Deuteronomy 7:7-8).  God has loved His people from everlasting, and therefore nothing of the creature can be the cause of what is found in God from eternity.  He loves from Himself: “according to His own purpose” (2 Timothy 1:9).

“We love Him, because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).  God did not love us because we loved Him, but He loved us before we had a particle of love for Him.  Had God loved us in return for ours, then it would not be spontaneous on His part; but because He loved us when we were loveless, it is clear that His love was uninfluenced.  It is highly important if God is to be honored and the heart of His child established, that we should be quite clear upon this precious truth.  God’s love for me, and for each of “His own,” was entirely unmoved by anything in them.  What was there in me to attract the heart of God?  Absolutely nothing.  But, to the contrary, everything to repel Him, everything calculated to make Him loathe me—sinful, depraved, a mass of corruption, with “no good thing” in me.

“What was there in me that could merit esteem,

Or give the Creator delight?

‘Twas even so, Father, I ever must sing,

Because it seemed good, in Thy sight.”

2. It is eternal. This of necessity.  God Himself is eternal, and God is love; therefore, as God Himself had no beginning, His love had none.  Granted that such a concept far transcends the grasp of our feeble minds, nevertheless, where we cannot comprehend, we can bow in adoring worship.  How clear is the testimony of Jeremiah 31:3, “I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee.”

How blessed to know that the great and holy God loved His people before heaven and earth were called into existence, that He had set His heart upon them from all eternity.  Clear proof is this that His love is spontaneous for He loved them endless ages before they had any being.  The same precious truth is set forth in Ephesians 1:4,5, “According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him.  In love having predestinated us.”  What praise should this evoke from each of His children!  How tranquilizing for the heart: since God’s love toward me had no beginning, it can have no ending!  Since it be true that “from everlasting to everlasting” He is God, and since God is “love,” then it is equally true that “from everlasting to everlasting” He loves His people.

3. It is sovereign. This also is self-evident. God Himself is sovereign, under obligations to none, a law unto Himself, acting always according to His own imperial pleasure.  Since God be sovereign, and since He be love, it necessarily follows that His love is sovereign.  Because God is God, He does as He pleases; because God is love, He loves whom He pleases.  Such is His own express affirmation: “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated” (Romans 9:19).  There was no more reason in Jacob why he should be the object of Divine love, than there was in Esau.  They both had the same parents, and were born at the same time, being twins; yet God loved the one and hated the other!  Why?  Because it pleased Him to do so.  The sovereignty of God’s love necessarily follows from the fact that it is uninfluenced by anything in the creature.  Thus, to affirm that the cause of His love lies in God Himself, is only another way of saying, He loves whom He pleases.

For a moment, assume the opposite.  Suppose God’s love were regulated by anything else than His will, in such a case He would love by rule, and loving by rule He would be under a law of love, and then so far from being free, God would Himself be ruled by law.  “In love having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to”—what?  Some excellency which He foresaw in them?  No; what then?  “According to the good pleasure of His will” (Ephesians 1:4-5).

4. It is infinite. Everything about God is infinite.  His essence fills heaven and earth.  His wisdom is illimitable, for He knows everything of the past, present and future.  His power is unbounded, for there is nothing too hard for Him.  So His love is without limit.  There is a depth to it which none can fathom; there is a height to it which none can scale; there is a length and breadth to it which defies measurement, by any creature-standard.

Beautifully is this intimated in Ephesians 2:4: But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us: the word “great” there is parallel with the “God so loved” of John 3:16.  It tells us that the love of God is so transcendent it cannot be estimated.  No tongue can fully express the infinitude of God’s love or any mind comprehend it: it “passeth knowledge,” Ephesians 3:19).  The most extensive ideas that a finite mind can frame about Divine love, are infinitely below its true nature.  The heaven is not so far above the earth as the goodness of God is beyond the most raised conceptions which we are able to form of it.  It is an ocean which swells higher than all the mountains of opposition in such as are the objects of it.  It is a fountain from which flows all necessary good to all those who are interested in it (John Brine, 1743).

5. It is immutable. As with God Himself there is “no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17), so His love knows neither change nor diminution.  The worm Jacob supplies a forceful example of this: “Jacob have I loved,” declared Jehovah, and despite all his unbelief and waywardness, He never ceased to love him.  John 13:1 furnishes another beautiful illustration.  That very night one of the apostles would say, “Show us the Father;” another would deny Him with cursings; all of them would be scandalized by and forsake Him.  Nevertheless “having loved His own which were in the world, He love them unto the end.”  The Divine love is subject to no vicissitudes.  Divine love is “strong as death … many waters cannot quench it” (Song of Solomon 8:6-7).  Nothing can separate from it: Romans 8:35-39.

“His love no end nor measure knows,

No change can turn its course,

Eternally the same it flows

From one eternal source.”

6. It is holy. God’s love is not regulated by caprice passion, or sentiment, but by principle.  Just as His grace reigns not at the expense of it, but “through righteousness” (Romans 5:21), so His love never conflicts with His holiness.  “God is light” (1 John 1:5) is mentioned before “God is love” (1 John 4:8).  God’s love is no mere amiable weakness, or effeminate softness.  Scripture declares, “whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth” (Hebrews 12:6).  God will not wink at sin, even in His own people.  His love is pure, unmixed with any maudlin sentimentality.

7. It is gracious. The love and favor of God are inseparable.  This is clearly brought out in Romans 8:32-39.  What that love is from which there can be no “separation,” is easily perceived from the design and scope of the immediate context: it is that goodwill and grace of God which determined Him to give His Son for sinners.  That love was the impulsive power of Christ’s incarnation: “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16).  Christ died not in order to make God love us, but because He did love His people.  Calvary is the supreme demonstration of Divine love.  Whenever you are tempted to doubt the love of God, Christian reader, go back to Calvary.

Here then is abundant cause for trust and patience under Divine affliction.  Christ was beloved of the Father, yet He was not exempted from poverty, disgrace, and persecution.  He hungered and thirsted.  Thus, it was not incompatible with God’s love for Christ when He permitted men to spit upon and smite Him.  Then let no Christian call into question God’s love when he is brought under painful afflictions and trials.  God did not enrich Christ on earth with temporal prosperity, for “He had not where to lay His head.”  But He did give Him the Spirit “without measure” (John 3:34).

Learn then that spiritual blessings are the principal gifts of Divine love.  How blessed to know that when the world hates us, God loves us!

From The Attributes of God.

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Affliction and Glory by A. W. Pink

“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17).

These words supply us with a reason why we should not faint under trials nor be overwhelmed by misfortunes.  They teach us to look at the trials of time in the light of eternity.  They affirm that the present buffetings of the Christian exercise a beneficent effect on the inner man.  If these truths were firmly grasped by faith they would mitigate much of the bitterness of our sorrows. “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”  This verse sets forth a striking and glorious antithesis, as it contrasts our future state with our present.  Here there is “affliction;” there “glory.”  Here there is a “light affliction;” there a “might of glory.”  In our affliction, there is both levity and brevity; it is a light affliction, and it is but for a moment; in our future glory, there is solidity and eternity!  To discover the preciousness of this contrast let us consider, separately, each member, but in the inverse order of mention.

1. “A far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”

It is a significant thing that the Hebrew word for “glory,” kabod, also means “weight.”  When weight is added to the value of gold or precious stones this increases their worth.  Heaven’s happiness cannot be told out in the words of earth; figurative expressions are best calculated to convey some imperfect views to us.  Here in our text one term is piled up on top of another.  That which awaits the believer is “glory,” and when we say that a thing is glorious we have reached the limits of human language to express that which is excellent and perfect.  But the “glory” awaiting us is weighted, yea it is “far more exceeding” weighty than anything terrestrial and temporal; its value defies computation; its transcendent excellency is beyond verbal description.  Moreover, this wondrous glory awaiting us is not evanescent and temporal, but Divine and eternal; for “eternal” it could not be unless it were Divine.  The great and blessed God is going to give us that which is worthy of Himself, yea that which is like Himself, infinite and everlasting.

2. “Our light affliction, which is but for a moment.”

a. “Affliction” is the common lot of human existence: “Man is born unto trouble as the sparks fly upward” (Job 5:7).  This is part of the entail of sin.  It is not meet that a fallen creature should be perfectly happy in his sins.  Nor are the children of God exempted; “Through much tribulation we must enter into the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).  By a hard and rugged road does God lead us to glory and immortality.

b. Our affliction is “light.” Afflictions are not light in themselves for oft times they are heavy and grievous; but they are light comparatively!  They are light when compared with what we really deserve.  They are light when compared with the sufferings of the Lord Jesus.  But perhaps their real lightness is best seen by comparing them with the weight of glory which is awaiting us.  As said the same apostle in another place, “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).

c. “Which is but for a moment.” Should our afflictions continue throughout a whole lifetime, and that life be equal in duration to Methuselah’s, yet is it momentary if compared with the eternity which is before us.  At most our affliction is but for this present life, which is as a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.  O that God would enable us to examine our trials in their true perspective.

3. Note now the connection between the two.

Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, “worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”  The present is influencing the future.  It is not for us to reason and philosophize about this, but to take God at His Word and believe it.  Experience, feelings, observation of others, may seem to deny this fact.  Oft times afflictions appear only to sour us and make us more rebellious and discontented.  But let it be remembered that afflictions are not sent by God for the purpose of purifying the flesh: they are designed for the benefit of the “new man.”  Moreover, afflictions help to prepare us for the glory hereafter.  Affliction draws away our heart from the love of the world; it makes us long more for the time when we shall be translated from this scene of sin and sorrow; it will enable us to appreciate (by way of contrast) the things which God had prepared for them that love Him.

Here then is what faith is invited to do: to place in one scale the present affliction, in the other, the eternal glory.  Are they worthy to be compared?  No, indeed.  One second of glory will more than counterbalance a whole lifetime of suffering.  What are years of toil, of sickness, of battling against poverty, of persecution, yea, of a martyr’s death, when weighed over against the pleasures at God’s right hand, which are for evermore!  One breath of Paradise will extinguish all the adverse winds of earth.  One day in the Father’s House will more than counterbalance the years we have spent in this dreary wilderness.  May God grant unto us that faith which will enable us to anticipatively lay hold of the future and live in the present enjoyment of it.

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The Humanity of Christ by A. W. Pink

It has been truly said: “Right views concerning Christ are indispensable to a right faith, and a right faith is indispensable to salvation.  To stumble at the foundation, is, concerning faith, to make shipwreck altogether; for as Immanuel, God with us, is the grand Object of faith, to err in views of His eternal Deity, or to err in views of His sacred humanity, is alike destructive.  There are points of truth which are not fundamental, though erroneous views on any one point must lead to God-dishonoring consequences in strict proportion to its importance and magnitude; but there are certain foundation truths to err concerning which is to insure for the erroneous and the unbelieving, the blackness of darkness forever” (J. C. Philpot, 1859).

To know Christ as God, to know Him as man, to know Him as God-man, and this by a divine revelation of His person, is indeed to have eternal life in our hearts.  Nor can He be known in any other way than by divine and special revelation.

“But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, to reveal his Son in me” (Galatians 1:15-16).

An imaginary conception of His person may be obtained by diligently studying the Scriptures, but a vital knowledge of Him must be communicated from on high (Matthew 16:17).  A theoretical and theological knowledge of Christ is what the natural man may acquire, but a saving, soul-transforming view of Him (2 Corinthians 3:18) is only given by the Spirit to the regenerate (1 John 5:20).

“But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:7).

The first clause (and the preceding verse) was before us in the last two chapters.  The two expressions we consider here balance with (and thus serve to explain) those in verse 6.  The last clause of v. 7 is an exegesis of the one immediately preceding.  “Made in the likeness of men” refers to the human nature Christ assumed. The “form of a servant” denotes the position or state which He entered.  So, “equal with God” refers to the divine nature, the “form of God” signifies His manifested glory in His position of Lord over all.

The humanity of Christ was unique. History supplies no analogy, nor can His humanity be illustrated by anything in nature.  It is incomparable, not only to our fallen human nature, but also to unfallen Adam’s.  The Lord Jesus was born into circumstances totally different from those in which Adam first found himself, but the sins and griefs of His people were on Him from the first.  His humanity was produced neither by natural generation (as is ours), nor by special creation, as was Adam’s.  The humanity of Christ was, under the immediate agency of the Holy Spirit, supernaturally “conceived” (Isaiah 7:14) of the virgin.  It was “prepared” of God (Hebrews 10:5); yet “made of a woman” (Galatians 4:4.).

The uniqueness of Christ’s humanity also appears in that it never had a separate existence of its own.  The eternal Son assumed (at the moment of Mary’s conception) a human nature, but not a human person.  This important distinction calls for careful consideration.  By a “person” is meant an intelligent being subsisting by himself.  The second person of the Trinity assumed a human nature and gave it subsistence by union with His divine personality.  It would have been a human person, if it had not been united to the Son of God.  But being united to Him, it cannot be called a person, because it never subsisted by itself, as other men do.  Hence the force of  “that holy thing which shall be born of thee” (Luke 1:35).  It was not possible for a divine person to assume another person, subsisting of itself, into union with Himself.  For two persons, remaining two, to become one person, is a contradiction.  “A body hast thou prepared me” (Hebrews 10:5).  The “me” denotes the divine Person, the “body,” the nature He took unto Himself.

The humanity of Christ was real. “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also Himself likewise took part of the same… Wherefore in all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren” (Hebrews 2:14, 17).  He assumed a complete human nature, spirit, soul, and body.  Christ did not bring His human nature from heaven (as some have strangely and erroneously concluded from 1 Corinthians 15:47), but it was composed of the very substance of His mother.  In clothing Himself with flesh and blood, Christ also clothed Himself with human feelings, so He did not differ from His brethren, sin only excepted.

“While we always contend that Christ is God, let us never lose the conviction He is most certainly a man.  He is not God humanized, nor a human deified; but, as to His Godhead, pure Godhead, equal and coeternal with the Father; as to His manhood, perfect manhood, made in all respects like the rest of mankind, sin alone excepted.  His humanity is real, for He was born.  He lay in the virgin’s womb, and in due time was born.  The gate by which we enter our first life he passed through also. He was not created, nor transformed, but His humanity was begotten and born.  As He was born, so in the circumstances of His birth, he is completely human.  He was as weak and feeble as any other babe.  He is not even royal, but human.  Those born in marble halls of old were wrapped in purple garments, and were thought by the common people to be a superior race.  But this Babe was wrapped in swaddling clothes and had a manger for a cradle, so that the true humanity of His being would come out.”

As He grows up, the very growth shows how completely human He is.  He does not spring into full manhood at once, but He grows in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.  When he reaches man’s estate, He gets the common stamp of manhood upon His brow.  “In the sweat of thy brow shalt thou eat bread” is the common heritage of us all, and He receives no better.  The carpenter’s shop must witness to the toils of a Savior, and when He becomes the preacher and the prophet, still we read such significant words as these — “Jesus, being weary sat thus on the well.”  We find Him needing to betake Himself to rest in sleep. He slumbers at the stem of the vessel when it is tossed in the midst of the tempest.

Brethren, if sorrow be the mark of real manhood, and “man is born unto trouble as the sparks fly upward,” certainly Jesus Christ has the truest evidence of being a man.  If to hunger and to thirst be signs that He was no shadow, and His manhood no fiction, you have these.  If to associate with His fellow-men, and eat and drink as they did, will be proof to your mind that He was none other than a man, you see Him sitting at a feast one day, at another time He graces a marriage-supper, and on another occasion He is hungry and “hath not where to lay His head” (C. H. Spurgeon).

They who deny Christ’s derivation of real humanity through His mother undermine the atonement.  His very fraternity (Hebrews 2:11), as our Kinsman-Redeemer, depended on the fact that He obtained His humanity from Mary.  Without this, He would neither possess the natural nor the legal union with His people, which must lie at the foundation of His representative character as the “last Adam.”  To be our Goel (Redeemer), His humanity could neither be brought from heaven nor immediately created by God, but must be derived, as ours was, from a human mother.  But with this difference: His humanity never existed in Adam’s covenant to entail guilt or taint.

The humanity of Christ was holy. Intrinsically so, because it was “of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 1:20); absolutely so, because taken into union with God, the Holy One.  This fact is expressly affirmed in Luke 1:35, “that holy thing,” which is contrasted with, “but we are all as an unclean thing” (Isaiah 64:6), and that because we are “shapen in iniquity” and conceived “in sin” (Psalm 51:5).  Though Christ truly became partaker of our nature, yet He was “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners” (Hebrews 7:26).  For this reason He could say, “For the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me” (John 14:30).  There was nothing in His pure humanity which could respond to sin or Satan.

It was truly remarkable when man was made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26).  But bow in wonderment and worship at the amazing condescension of God being made in the image of man!  How this manifests the greatness of His love and the riches of His grace!  It was for His people and their salvation that the eternal Son assumed human nature and abased Himself even to death.  He drew a veil over His glory that He might remove our reproach.  Surely, pride must be forever renounced by the followers of such a Savior.

Inasmuch as “the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5) lived in this world for thirty-three years, He has left “an example, that ye should follow his steps” (1 Peter 2:21).  He “did no sin,” nor should we (1 Corinthians 15:24).  “Neither was guile found in his mouth,” nor should it be in ours (Colossians 4:6).  “When he was reviled, He reviled not again,” nor must His followers.  He was weary in body, but not in well-doing.  He suffered hunger and thirst, yet never murmured.  He “pleased not himself” (Romans 15:3), nor must we (2 Corinthians 5:15).  He always did those things which pleased the Father (John 8:29).  This too must ever be our aim (2 Corinthians 5:9).

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The Person of Christ by A. W. Pink

We enter with fear and trembling upon this high and holy subject.  Christ’s name is called “Wonderful” (Isaiah 9:6), and even the angels of God are commanded to worship Him (Hebrews 1:6).  There is no salvation apart from a true knowledge of Him (John 17:3).  “Whosoever denieth the Son [either His true Godhead, or His true and holy humanity]… hath not the Father” (1 John 2:23).  They are thrice-blessed to whom the Spirit of Truth communicates a supernatural revelation of the Being of Christ (Matthew 16:17).  It will lead them in the only path of wisdom and joy, for in Him “are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3) until they are taken to be where He is and behold His supernal glory forever (John 17:24).  An increasing apprehension of the Truth concerning the person of Christ should be our constant aim.

“Without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh” (1 Timothy 3:16).  In view of such a divine declaration as this, it is both useless and impious for any man to attempt an explanation of the wondrous and unique person of the Lord Jesus.  He cannot be fully comprehended by any finite intelligence.  “No man knoweth the Son, but the Father” (Matthew 11:27).  Nevertheless, it is our privilege to grow “in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).  So too it is the duty of His servants to hold up the person of the God-man as revealed in Holy Scriptures, as well as to warn against errors which cloud His glory.

The one born in Bethlehem’s manger was “the mighty God” (Isaiah 9:6), “Immanuel” (Matthew 1:23), “the great God and our Savior” (Titus 2:13).  He is also the true Man, with a spirit, a soul and a body, for these are essential to human nature.  None could be real man without all three.  Nevertheless, the humanity of Christ (that holy thing, Luke 1:35) is not a distinct person, separate from His Godhead, for it never had a separate existence before taken into union with His deity.  He is the God-man, yet “one Lord” (Ephesians 4:5).  As such He was born, lived here in this world, died, rose again, ascended to heaven, and will continue thus for all eternity.  As such He is entirely unique and the Object of lasting wonder to all holy beings.

The person of Christ is a composite one.  Two separate natures are united in one peerless Person; but they are not fused into each other, instead, they remain distinct and different.  The human nature is not divine, nor has it been, intrinsically, deified, for it possesses none of the attributes of God.  The humanity of Christ, absolutely and separately considered, is neither omnipotent, omniscient, nor omnipresent.

On the other hand, His deity is not a creature and has none of the properties which pertain to such.  Taking to Himself a human nature did not effect any change in His divine being. It was a divine person who wedded to Himself a holy humanity, and though His essential glory was partly veiled, yet it never ceased to be, nor did His divine attributes cease to function.  As the God-man, Christ is the “one mediator” (1 Timothy 2:5).  He alone was fitted to stand between God and men and effect a reconciliation between them.

It needs to be maintained that the two natures are united in the one person of Christ, but that each retains its separate properties, just as the soul and body of men do, though united.  Thus, in His divine nature, Christ has nothing in common with us — nothing finite, derived or dependent.  But in His human nature, He was made in all things like to His brethren, sin excepted.  In that nature He was born in time, and did not exist from all eternity. He increased in knowledge and other endowments.  In the one nature, He had a comprehensive knowledge of all things; in the other, He knew nothing but by communication or derivation.  In the one nature, He had an infinite and sovereign will; in the other, He had a creature will.  Though not opposed to the divine will, its conformity to it was of the same kind with that in perfect creatures.

The necessity for the two natures in the one person of our Savior is self-evident.  It was fitting that the Mediator should be both God and man, that He might partake of the nature of both parties and be a middle person between them, filling up the distance and bringing them near to each other.  Only thus was He able to communicate His benefits to us; and only thus could He discharge our obligations.  As Witsius, the Dutch theologian (1690) pointed out: “None but God could restore us to true liberty.  If any creature could redeem us, we should be the peculiar property of that creature: but it is a manifest contradiction to be free and yet at the same time be the servant of any creature.  So too none but God could give us eternal life: hence the two are joined together — ‘The true God, and eternal life’ (1 John 5:20).”

It was equally necessary that the Mediator be Man.  He was to enter our Law-place, be subject to the Law, keep it, and merit by keeping it.  “But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law” (Galatians 4:4).  Note the order.  He must first be “made of a woman,” before He could be “made under the law.”  But more, He had to endure the curse of the Law, suffer its penalty.  He was to be “made sin” for His people, and the wages of sin is death.  But that was impossible to Him until He took upon Him a nature capable of mortality.  “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Hebrews 2:14).

Thus, the person of the God-man is unique.  His birth had no precedent and His existence no analogy.  He cannot be explained by referring Him to a class, nor can He be illustrated by an example.  The Scriptures, while fully revealing all the elements of His person, yet never present in one formula an exhaustive definition of that person, nor a connected statement of the elements which constitute it and their mutual relationships.

The “mystery” is indeed great.  How is it possible that the same person should be at the same time infinite and finite, omnipotent and helpless?  He altogether transcends our understanding.  How can two complete spirits coalesce in one person?  How can two consciousnesses, two understandings, two memories, two wills, constitute one person?  No one can explain it.  Nor are we called upon to do so.  Both natures act in concert in one person.  All the attributes and acts of both natures are referred to one person.  The same person who gave His life for the sheep, possessed glory with the Father before the world was!

This amazing Personality does not center in His humanity, nor is it a compound one originated by the power of the Holy Spirit when He brought those two natures together in the womb of the virgin Mary.  It was not by adding manhood to Godhead that His personality was formed.  The Trinity is eternal and unchangeable.  A new person is not substituted for the second member of the Trinity; neither is a fourth added.  The person of Christ is just the eternal Word, who in time, by the power of the Holy Spirit, through the instrument of the virgin’s womb, took a human nature (not at that time a man, but the seed of Abraham) into personal union with Himself.  The Person is eternal and divine; His humanity was introduced into it.  The center of His personality is always in the eternal and personal Word, or Son of God.

Though no analogy exists by which we may illustrate the mysterious person of Christ, there is a most remarkable type in Exodus 3:2-6.  The “flame of fire” in the midst of the “bush,” was an emblem of the presence of God indwelling the Man Christ Jesus.  Observe that the One who appeared there to Moses is termed, first, “the angel of the LORD,” which declares the relation of Christ to the Father, namely, “the angel (messenger) of the covenant.”  But secondly, this angel said unto Moses, “I am the God of Abraham,” that is what He was absolutely in Himself.  The fire — emblem of Him who is a “consuming fire” — placed itself in a bush (a thing of the earth), where it burned, yet the bush was not consumed.  A remarkable foreshadowing this was of the “fullness of the Godhead,” dwelling in Christ (Colossians 2:9).  That this is the meaning of the type is clear, when we read of “The good will of him that dwelt in the bush” (Deuteronomy 33:16).

The great mystery of the Trinity is that one Spirit should subsist eternally as three distinct Persons: the mystery of the person of Christ is that two separate spirits (divine and human) should constitute but one person.  The moment we deny the unity of His person we enter the bogs of error.  Christ is the God-man.  The humanity of Christ was not absorbed by His deity, but preserves its own characteristics. Scripture does not hesitate to say, “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52).  Christ is both infinite and finite, self-sufficient and dependent at the same time, because His Person embraces, two different natures, the divine and the human.

In the incarnation, the second Person of the Trinity established a personal union between Himself and a human spirit, soul, and body.  His two natures remained and remain distinct, and their properties or active powers are inseparable from each nature respectively.  The union between them is not mechanical, as that between oxygen and nitrogen in our air; neither is it chemical, as between oxygen and hydrogen when water is formed; neither is it organic, as that subsisting between our hearts and brains; but it is a union more intimate, more profound, and more mysterious than any of these.  It is personal. If we cannot understand the nature of the simpler unions, why should we complain because we cannot understand the nature of the most profound of all unions? (A. A. Hodge, to whom we are also indebted for a number of other thoughts in this article).

“Is there a thing beneath the sun

That strives with Thee my heart to share?

O tear it thence, and reign alone,

The Lord of every motion there.

Then shall my heart from earth be free,

When it has found repose in Thee.”

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