Dedicated to the devotional, exegetical and philosophical study of theological paradox in Conservative, Thoroughly Biblical, Historically Orthodox, Essentially Reformed theology . . . to the glory of God alone!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Servant Who Suffered to Save Sinners - Introduction

It's always interesting to speak abstractly and philosophically about Calvinism and theology. That's something I've done extensively of late. But I sense a need to get my focus back on the simple truth of the Gospel through a study of the Word in a more devotional/exegetical manner.

Even the best theological systems and philosophies cannot feed the soul. For that purpose, God has given us His Living Word and His Precious Spirit. This is why some of God's dear children can be theologically off the mark, but are still full of the life and love of God. Strange as it may seem, some who are steeped in egregious philosophical errors that are obviously unbiblical have nonetheless fed on the Word and received abundant grace from it. They walk in the Spirit, and love God with all their hearts. His Word is powerful and often works secretly within us, even when we miss the point (philosophically speaking). This is also why some of those who seem to be most theologically right can be dry wells, with little love or joy to offer. They've abandoned their pure devotion to the Word and run after every obscure question for which their heart craves an answer. It's the idolatry of philosophy, which can even exist in theologically grounded philosophy. It's easy to treat the Bible like an encyclopedia for reference and information gathering. Yet God gave His Word to us as an endless fountain of water, and daily bread to our souls - rich, refreshing, nutritious, and life-sustaining. It's not that deeper theological pondering is bad (it's not), but it has to be kept in balance. We don't want to have our "head in the clouds" (at least not all the time).

With that in mind, this post begins a new series called "The Servant Who Suffered to Save Sinners." Several years ago (at a time when, by God's grace, I began to grieve over a perceived hardening of my heart), I sensed a stirring from the Lord to pursue a study of Christ's work on the cross. It was as if He said, "Look to the cross, for in seeing My brokenness you will be broken again." For weeks thereafter, I meditated upon the words of Isaiah 53. The fruit of those meditations continues to feed Gospel truth to my soul to this day. Now, dear friend, I pray that these studies will feed your soul as we look to the cross together.

Isaiah 53 is a remarkable passage of Scripture for many reasons. Here are a few of them.

1. It was written more than 700 years prior to the birth of Christ, and yet it predicts His sufferings with undeniable accuracy.
2. It serves as a key link between the Old and New Testaments, being one of the clearest Old Testament passages which unambiguously states doctrines related to the Gospel. Thus, it demonstrates the unity of the Bible's message.
3. It sets forth divine sovereignty and human responsibility; describes key facets of the incarnation; affirms the total depravity and universal guilt of mankind; offers some explanation of human suffering; shows the humility, obedience and sinless innocence of Christ; reveals Christ's ministry as a sin-bearing sacrifice; implies substitutionary atonement; promises lost sinners a way of reconciliation with God; predicts Christ's suffering, death, burial, resurrection and glorification; and it unveils the justification of sinners through faith in God's Own righteousness.

We'll explore these things more deeply as we examine the text theme by theme, concept by concept, line by line, phrase by phrase, and word by word. Join me as we fix our gaze lovingly on the Lord Jesus Christ . . .


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