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"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)

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  • « Jeremiah's Plaint and Its Answer- Geerhardus Vos | Main | Unconditional Election on the Dividing Line »

    The End of the Incarnation By B.B. Warfield

    “For I am come down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of Him that sent me; and this is the will of Him that sent me, that of all that He hath given me, I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day.”—John 6:38–39

    In the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand our Lord presented Himself symbolically to man as the food of the soul. For, as Augustine reminds us, though the miracles wrought by our Lord are divine works, intended primarily to raise the mind from visible things to their invisible author, yet their message is not exhausted by this. They are to be interrogated also as to what they tell us about Christ, and they will be found to have a tongue of their own if we have skill to understand it. “For,” he adds, “since Christ is Himself the Word of God, even a deed of the Word is a word to us.” One of His miracles is accordingly not to be treated as a mere picture, which we may be satisfied to look upon and praise; but rather as a writing, which we are not content to praise though we delight in its beauty, but find no satisfaction until we have read and understood it. We may possibly consider somewhat fanciful Augustine’s detailed decipherment of the signs in which this miracle is written. He discovers in it a complete parable of the salvation of man and of men. But we can scarcely refuse, as we read it in the pregnant record of John, to say in Pauline phrase, “these things contain an allegory.”

    As such, indeed, John presents it. This is the meaning of his care to tell us, as he introduces his recital, that “the passover was at hand”: not a mere chronological note, we may be sure; nor yet merely an explanation of the presence of the multitude, gathered for the pilgrimage to Jerusalem ; but a premonition of what is to come,—John’s account of the occasion and meaning of the miracle, which itself was the occasion of the great discourse on the bread of life. Christ, the true passover, chose the passover time, when men’s minds were upon the type, to present the anti-type to them in symbol and open speech. It was therefore also that He tested His disciples with searching questions, designed to bring them to the discovery of whether they yet knew Him; and that He taxed the people that “signs” were wasted upon them (verse 26), and that while they were demanding a sign that they might see and believe (verse 30), the sign had been given them, and though they had seen, they did not believe (verse 36). It was therefore above all, that Christ followed up the miracle with the wonderful discourse in which He explains the sign, and declares Himself openly to be “the bread of God that cometh down from heaven and giveth life to the world.” This is the tremendous truth which miracle and discourse united to proclaim to the multitudes gathered on the shores of Gennesaret at that passover season; but which, despite type and sign and teaching—each a manifest word from God,—they could neither receive nor understand. And this is the blessed truth which our text,—taken from the center of the discourse and constituting, indeed, its kernel,—presents to our apprehension and belief anew to-day. May the Spirit of truth, who searches all things, even the deep things of God, illuminate our minds and prepare our hearts, that we may understand and believe.

    I. Let us begin by observing the testimony borne by our Lord and Master here to His heavenly original and descent: “I am come down from heaven,” He says. And the truth here declared is the foundation of the entire discourse: the whole gist of which is to represent Jesus as the “bread out of heaven,” “the true bread out of heaven,” “the bread of God that cometh down out of heaven,” which the Father hath given for the life of the world. I need not remind you how this representation pervades John’s Gospel,—from the testimony of the Baptist (3:31), that He who was to supplant him “cometh from above,” and is therefore “above all,” to Jesus’ own triumphant declaration at the close of His life, that, His work being finished, He is ready to return to the Father who sent Him, and to the glory that He had with Him before the world was (17:5, 11). Our present asseveration is but a single instance of the constant self-testimony of the Son of Man to His heavenly original and descent.

    The older Unitarianism was prodigal of miracle. It was not the supernatural, but the mysteries of the Holy Trinity and the God-man that were its scandal. When brought face to face with such passages as these, it was wont, therefore, to explain that Jesus, born miraculously of His virgin mother, but a mere man, was taken up to heaven by the divine power to learn the things of God; whence He again descended to bring divine teaching to men. To the newer Unitarianism, on the other hand, it is precisely the supernatural which is the offence. Its philosophical forms might hospitably receive such mysteries as the Trinity and the God-man, if only they may be permitted to run freely into their moulds. But divine interventions of any kind, and most of all the descent of a personal God from heaven to earth, to be incased in flesh and to herd for a season among men, it cannot allow. It, therefore, attacks our passages with a theory of ideal, not real, preexistence, and teaches that Jesus means only that, in the thought and intention of God, His advent into the world had long been provided for, and that, in that sense, He was with God and came forth from God.


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    Posted by Marco on February 24, 2014 04:16 PM

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