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Punishment versus Discipline


How do sufferings and trials that seem to come to us under the guise of punishment, remain after the full and complete remission of sins? why are the consequences of sin suffered to remain, if sin is thus completely cancelled? This fact does not invalidate the full remission of sins, which takes place at the moment one believes. The man is perfectly forgiven, and the person fully accepted, and all that is strictly penal in the consequences of sin is brought to an end and terminated for ever. These effects of sin are transformed into a course of discipline. The sickness, suffering, and death which come to us in the ordinary course of things, and which could not be altered without a miracle, still remain to the Christian, but they are wholly changed in their character. They are no longer penal, no longer part of the curse, which was quite exhausted on Christ, but means of spiritual improvement, or a part of the Christian’s education in patience and hope. Though physical suffering is allowed to remain in the history of the redeemed, it is no longer an infliction of wrath or a channel of vengeance, but a fatherly chastisement or a salutary discipline, and through divine grace richly made available for our growth in holiness. For we must always distinguish between correction and punishment in the proper import of the term; and constant prosperity is so rarely advantageous, that an alternation with the opposite is found profitable to the Christian.

—George Smeaton, Christ’s Doctrine of the Atonement (Banner of Truth, 2009), 222–223.

The Blood of the Covenant

And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.” —Luke 22:20 [I]t is alleged by some interpreters that the language only implies, “this cup is the new religion in my blood, or that by which I seal the new religion.” It is held by not a few averse to the vicarious sacrifice, that Jesus simply meant to say that He died in confirmation of His doctrine. These are all shallow interpretations, and are utterly defective and faulty. They ignore the great idea contained in the Saviour’s words; which intimate, with all the perspicuity with which language can say it, that His blood was shed really, and not typically, to expiate sin; and that the new covenant was based on His death, or, in other words, causally connected with it. The covenant was founded, then, with all its provisions, in Christ’s atoning blood. The blood of Christ is the fundamental condition on which it rests. And they who take the emblems into their hands at the Supper do not view Him as a martyr merely, or as dying simply to confirm His message. They recall the great fact that Christ’s atoning blood was offered, not in a vague, general, abstract way, but specially and vicariously for them; and that they become in consequence a covenant people or peculiar people. Thus Christ’s blood is the blood of the covenant, not simply as it attests or confirms the truth of the Gospel, but as it has an atoning character; and the idea is not that Jesus died to confirm to us the truth of the promises, or to seal them, or to ratify them. Moses did not sprinkle the blood to ratify the promises, but to cleanse the people by his atonements. And the disciples, in like manner, hearing of a new covenant founded and set up by the shedding of blood, naturally and necessarily reverted to the erection of the Sinai covenant. Christ was the mediator of the new covenant in a higher sense than Moses was or could be in that covenant which was but typical and transitory; and yet the typical mediatorship was all based on the blood of the covenant (Ex. xxiv. 6). These shallow comments on the new covenant are faulty in two respects. They would make the words convey no more than an allusion to a new way or method of procedure which God introduced among men by Jesus Christ, without any objective ground or basis on which it can be seen to rest. They all tend, too, in a legal or semi-legal way, to throw men back upon themselves and upon their own resources, will, or strength, instead of leading them away from self-dependence. For if the human heart does not lean on Christ’s propitiation, it inevitably falls back, in some phase of it, upon self-dependence. Certainly it is but mediaeval mysticism at the best without liberty. —George Smeaton, Christ’s Doctrine of the Atonement (Banner of Truth, 2009), 219–220 (emphasis added).

A Real Sacrifice

And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.” —Luke 22:20 The Lord Jesus . . . speaks of His blood as the new covenant, or as constituting its fundamental condition. The sole ground upon which a covenant in any case is, or can be, constituted, is that of sacrifice; without which a sinner could not be allowed to stand in any friendly relation toward God. We find it was enough to institute a typical sacrifice for the temporary covenant, but the true sacrifice was indispensably necessary for the abiding covenant. At the founding of the two covenants, it appears that something similar took place; and we can easily gather from the peculiarities of the typical covenant, that the blood of Christ must be viewed in the same light and as serving the same purpose that the blood of bulls and goats subserved in the institution of the covenant at Sinai. The blood was not a mere martyr’s blood to confirm his testimony, but the blood of sacrifice. It does not merely seal Christ’s doctrine as true. There is no allusion, indeed, in these words of Christ either to His doctrine or to the sealing of His doctrine; for a covenant is not to be viewed as consisting in bare doctrine. Rather it is the founding or erection of a new relation between God and man; and in the present case it was a divine economy, order, or arrangement, by which, on the ground of Christ’s atoning blood, as shed for the remission of sins, God becomes our God, and we become His people. —George Smeaton, Christ’s Doctrine of the Atonement (Banner of Truth, 2009), 214–215.

It was the High Priest offering up His soul to God that said, “Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit.” And He uttered it with a loud voice, to show that strength still remained in Him, and that, by His own authority, He released the spirit from the lacerated and wounded body. The curse was, “Thou shalt die;” and now it was exhausted, and sin annihilated. Now heaven and earth were reunited; God and man were at one again. —George Smeaton, Christ’s Doctrine of the Atonement (Banner of Truth, 2009), 182.

Lord’s Day 20, 2018

I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.” Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. —Jude 3 The Old Story. Come and hear the grand old story, Story of the ages past; All earth’s annals far surpassing, Story that shall ever last. Noblest, truest, Oldest, newest, Fairest, rarest, Saddest, gladdest, That this earth has ever known. Christ, the Father’s Son eternal, Once was born, a Son of man; He, who never knew beginning, Here on earth a life began. Here in David’s lowly city, Tenant of the manger-bed, Child of everlasting ages, Mary’s infant, lays his head. There he lies, in mighty weakness, David’s Lord and David’s Son; Creature and Creator meeting, Heaven and earth conjoined in one. Here at Nazareth he dwelleth, ’Mid the sin of sinful men; Sorrowful, forlorn, and hated, And yet hating none again. Here in Galilee he wanders, Through its teeming cities moves, Climbs its mountains, walks its waters, Blesses, comforts, saves, and loves. Words of truth and deeds of kindness, Miracles of grace and might, Scatter fragrance all around him, Shine with heaven’s most glorious light. In Gethsemane behold him In the agony of prayer; Kneeling, pleading, groaning, bleeding, Soul and body prostrate there. All alone lie wrestles yonder, Close beside him stands the cup, Bitterest cup that man e’er tasted; Yet for us he drinks it up. In the Roman hall behold him Stand at Pilate’s judgment-seat, Mocked and beaten, crowned and wounded; Jew and Gentile join in hate. On to Golgotha he hastens; Yonder stands his cross of woe; From his hands, and feet, and forehead, See the precious life-blood flow. Sinless, he our sin is bearing, All our sorrows on him lie, And his stripes our wounds are healing, God, for man, consents to die. It is finished! See his body Laid alone in Joseph’s tomb; ’Tis for us he lieth yonder, Prince of Light enwrapt in gloom. But in vain the grave has bound him, Death has barred its gate in vain; See, for us the Saviour rises, See, for us he bursts the chain. Hear we then the grand old story, True as God’s all-faithful word, Best of tidings to the guilty, Of a dead and risen Lord. ’Tis eternal life to know it, Light and love are shining there, While we look, and gaze, and listen, All its joy and peace we share. Hear we then the grand old story, And in listening learn the love, Flowing through it to the guilty, From our pardoning God above. Glory be to God the Father, Glory be to God the Son, Glory be to God the Spirit, Great Jehovah, Three in One. —Horatius Bonar, Hymns of Faith and Hope, Second Series (James Nisbet & Co., 1878). Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Please don’t miss worshiping with your local congregation if you can possibly help it. But if you’re in need of a good sermon, try these. Tweets about #LordsDay from:thethirstytheo !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);;js.src=p+"://";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");

In Preparation for the Lord’s Day: O Father, Thou Whose Love

O Father, Thou Whose Love Profound O Father, Thou whose love profound a ransom for our souls hath found, before Thy throne we sinners bend; to us Thy pardoning love extend. Almighty Son, Incarnate Word, our Prophet, Priest, Redeemer, Lord, before Thy throne we sinners bend; to us Thy saving grace extend. Eternal Spirit, by whose breath the soul is raised from sin and death, before Thy throne we sinners bend; to us Thy quickening pow'r extend. Jehovah! Father, Spirit, Son, mysterious Godhead, Three in One, before Thy throne we sinners bend; grace, pardon, life, to us extend. —Hymns to the Living God (Religious Affections Ministries, 2017). Suggested tune: Rockingham The current hymnal for this series is Hymns to the Living God, recently published by Religious Affections Ministries. This is such a good hymnal that I’m pretty sure I could happily post every hymn it contains, but I’ll be limiting selections to hymns I have never posted here before, especially those unfamiliar to me (of which there are many). For more information and to purchase this hymnal, visit Religious Affections Ministries.

The Bitterness in the Cup

Too often, the physical suffering of Christ is made the center of his final sacrifice. Passion plays are enacted, films like The Passion of the Christ are produced, and viewers think they have seen an accurate presentation of his suffering. But the truth is much greater than any image can portray. The bitterest ingredient in the Lord’s cup was the soul-trouble which He experienced direct from the hand of God. There were indeed actings of His own holy nature which brought with them the deepest sorrow, as may easily be collected from the consideration that One who was inflamed with zeal for His Father’s glory, and who breathed the deepest love for holiness, could not but be affected with lively sorrow, when He discerned sin in all its deformity, and furthermore felt that though not His own personally, it belonged in a sense to Him, because it belonged as a personal property to those who were His. And if a mere sight of sin is often painful and well-nigh overwhelming to us though never called to feel its doom, what a hell it must have been to the holy nature of Jesus to see before Him and upon Him by imputation the sins of all the elect. This made Him the man of sorrows. But the most insupportable part of His sorrows was that He had to encounter the frown of an angry Judge, an agony and a desertion which constitute the ingredients of the second death. He tasted death for every one of the many sons who are to be brought to glory (Heb. ii. 9); enduring in a little space what soon overwhelms the lost with unending despair. This wrung from Him the cry in the garden already noticed, and made Him offer up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears (Heb. v. 7); pressing from Him the bloody sweat*, the preternatural character of which testified to a suffering which no other man suffered and no mere man could have borne. This desertion reached its climax on the cross: but faith was kept in lively exercise in His human soul amidst it all. During those awful hours on the cross when made a curse for us, the Lord Jesus sustained that desertion, which was just the endurance of the death of the soul, when sin separates between God and the soul, and when God hides His face from us. —George Smeaton, Christ’s Doctrine of the Atonement (Banner of Truth, 2009), 180–181. * Traditional explanations of hematohidrosis notwithstanding, I don’t believe Jesus sweat actual blood, as Luke 22:44 is usually interpreted, but doesn’t actually say. The expression, “His sweat became like drops of blood,” is a simile, and neither the immediate context nor any other text gives us any reason to read it otherwise. In any case, the point is the same: The mental burden wrought by the sure knowledge of impending judgment was so extreme as to manifest physically. Jesus perspired profusely, not from heat or exertion, but from pure mental agony, anticipating the pouring out of God’s wrath in consequence of our sin heaped upon him.

No Abstract Atonement
The Humility of Christ
Labor Redeemed
The Baptism of the Sin-Bearer
Lord’s Day 19, 2018
In Preparation for the Lord’s Day: Let Us, with a Gladsome Mind
My Opinion

About Those “Missing Verses”
Little Old Lady Who?
Reading between the Lines
This Stinks
Lord’s Day 17, 2018
In Preparation for the Lord’s Day: O Lord, Our Lord
Necessity of Atonement according to Jesus

According to the Order of Nature
On “Son of Man”
To Bear Sin
Lord’s Day 18, 2018
In Preparation for the Lord’s Day: O Praise Ye the Lord
Who Killed Jesus?


Who Is Jesus?

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