Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Book Review: The Savior of the World

The Savior of the World. Benjamin B. Warfield. 1991. Banner of Truth. 270 pages. [Source: Bought]

The Savior of the World was my introduction to B.B. Warfield. I loved this collection of sermons. Each sermon focused on a particular passage of Scripture. Warfield did a great job "unpacking" Scripture. He really took his time and examined the verses carefully. This was good, for the most part. There were places that instead of saying exactly what he thought a verse meant right away, he would explore various options first. Interpretation A says this, Interpretation B says that…but this is what I really think the Bible was saying. He argues his case for a particular interpretation. It definitely has an intellectual feel to it as opposed to devotional. It can still be emotional, by the way. The two are not exclusive.

His sermons are thought-provoking. They do require you to think, to be engaged, to follow his arguments point by point, to consider. These sermons can't be rushed through. There is much to be gained by taking your time, by absorbing all he has to say. It really is an amazing read.

The Savior of the World includes:

The Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32)
Jesus Only (Acts 4:12)
The Lamb of God (John 1:29)
God's Immeasurable Love (John 3:16)
The Gospel of Paul (2 Corinthians 5:14-15, 18-19, 21)
The Glorified Christ (Hebrews 2:9)
The Risen Jesus (2 Timothy 2:8)
The Gospel of the Covenant (John 6:38-39)
Imitating the Incarnation (Philippians 2:5-8)


From "The Prodigal Son"
The message which the parable brings us is certainly a great one. To lost sinners like you and me, assuredly few messages could appeal with more overwhelming force. Our hearts are wrung within us as we are made to realize that our Father in heaven will receive our wandering souls back with the joy with which this father in the parable received back his errant son. But it is an exaggeration to represent this message as all the Gospel, or even as the core of the Gospel; and to speak of this parable therefore, as it has become widely common to speak of it, as “the Gospel in the Gospel,” or even as the summation of the Gospel. It is not that. There are many truths which it has no power to teach us that are essential to the integrity of the Gospel: nay, the very heart of the Gospel is not in it. And, therefore, precious as this parable is to us, and priceless as is its message, there are many other passages of Scripture more precious still, because their message enters more deeply into the substance of the Gospel. Take this passage for example: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever belie vet h on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Or this passage: “God, being rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, quickened us together with Christ (by grace have ye been saved), and raised us up with Him and made us sit with Him in the heavenly places with Christ Jesus.” Or even this short passage: “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost.” All these are more precious passages than the parable of the lost son, not merely because they tell us more fully what is contained in the Gospel, but because they uncover to us, as it does not, what lies at the heart of the Gospel. It is important that we should recognize this.
We are sinners. And our only hope is in one who loves sinners; and has come into the world to die for sinners.
From "Jesus Only"
The salvation of the world hangs, thus, in our human mode of speaking, on the clearness and the strength of our conviction that there is salvation in none other than Jesus, that there is none other name under heaven, given among men, wherein they must be saved. O the cruelty of that indifferentism, miscalled broadness of mind, that would withhold from a perishing world the only healing draught, on the pretence, forsooth, that it is not needed. O remember that the whole world lies in iniquity — ill to death with the dreadful disease of sin, — and that you have in your hands the one curative potion, the only water of life which can purge away sin and restore to spiritual health and beauty. Remember the great commission!
On the peril of your souls, I charge you to remember that Jesus Christ is the only way, the only truth, the only life; that no man comes or can come to the Father except by Him, that all the life that is in the world is in Him, and he only that hath Him hath the life, while he that hath not Him hath not the life. Listen to the solemn words of the apostle of love: “Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: he that confesseth the Son,” he, and he only, “hath the Father also.” Let us note it clearly and note it whole: there is no access to God for sinners save in the blood of Jesus Christ.
From "The Lamb of God"
“Behold the Lamb of God,” cries the Baptist, “which taketh away the sin of the world.” Not, Behold the Prophet like unto Moses, whom ye shall hear; nor yet. Behold the Israelite without guile, in whom meet perfect purity, wisdom and truth; nor even. Behold the Lion of the tribe of Judah, who shall scatter your foes and deliver you from all your enemies. He might have said any one or all of these things. They are all true of Jesus. Christ is our teacher, and our example, and our king. But there is something more fundamental than any of these things; something which underlies them all and from which they acquire their value. And it is this that the Baptist saw in Christ and sends us to Christ to find. “Behold,” says he, “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” That image could mean but one thing to an humble, sin-conscious Old Testament saint. He would think first of the righteous sufferer of the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah: and that righteous sufferer is not merely described there, we will remember, as a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and as a sheep that before her shearers is dumb, the very embodiment of meekness and patience in enduring the violence of the despoiler; but, in well-remembered words which throw a glory over these sufferings to which even meek patience and uncomplaining endurance can lend nothing, we read: “Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we were healed.” “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” “For the transgression of my people was he stricken. .. yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him. He hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. … By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many, and he shall bear their iniquities. … He bare the sin of many and made intercession for the transgressors.” And along with the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah, the Old Testament saint, when directed to the Lamb of God which takes away sin, would inevitably think also of the paschal lamb, the fundamental national symbol of deliverance; along with it, beyond question, also of the lamb of the daily sacrifice and of the underlying significance of the whole sacrificial system, with its typical finger pointing forward to something better, — to God’s own Lamb, who should really take away sin, a lamb of God’s providing, able and willing to bear on his own head the sin of the world.
“Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away sin.” Is it not a joyful message to sin-stricken souls? Let others think of Jesus as they may. Let them hail him as a king: let them sit at His feet as a prophet: let them eagerly seek to follow in His steps. For you and me, sinners, He is most glorious and most precious, as a Saviour.
From "God's Immeasurable Love"
What it concerns us now to note, however, is not the mere fact that He loves, but what it is that He is declared to love. For therein lies the climax of the great proclamation. This is nothing other than “the world.” For this is the unimaginable declaration of the text: “God so loved the world.” It is just in this that lies the mystery of the greatness of His love. The “world,” he tells us, is just the synonym of all that is evil and noisome and disgusting. There is nothing in it that can attract God’s love, — nay, that can justify the love of any good man. It is a thing not to be dallied with, or acquiesced in: they that are of it, are by that very fact not of God; and what the Christian has to do with it is just to overcome it; for everything that is begotten of God manifests that great fact precisely by this — that he overcomes the world. “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world,” is John’s insistent exhortation. “Nothing that is in the world is of the Father,” we are told; or, as it is put elsewhere in direct positive form: “The whole world lieth in the evil one.” “The world, the flesh and the devil” — this is the pregnant combination in which we have learned from Scripture to express the baleful forces that war against the soul: and the three terms are thus cast together because they are essentially synonyms. See, then, whither we are brought. When we are told that God loves the world, it is much as if we were told that He loves the flesh and the devil. And we may, indeed, take courage from our text and say it boldly: God does love the world and the flesh and the devil. Therein indeed is the ground of all our comfort and all our hope: for we — you and I — are of the world and of the flesh and of the devil. Only, — we must punctually note it, — the love wherewith God loves the world, the flesh and the devil — therefore, us — is not a love of complacency, as if He the Holy One and the Good could take pleasure in what is worldly, fleshly, devilish: but that love of benevolence which would fain save us from our worldliness, fleshliness and devilishness. The world then was perishing: and it was to save it that God gave His Son. The text is, then, you see, in principle an account of the coming of the Son of God into the world. There were but two things for which He, being what He was as the Son of God, could come into the world, being what it was: to judge the world or to save the world. It was for the latter that He came. “For,” the next verse runs on, “God sent not His Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world through Him should be saved.” Not wrath, then, though wrath were due, but love was the impelling cause of the coming of the Son of God into this wicked world of ours. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son.” The intensity of the love is what is emphasized: it was so intense that it was not deterred even by the sinfulness of its objects. The marvel, in other words, which the text brings before us is just that marvel above all other marvels in this marvellous world of ours — the marvel of God’s love for sinners. And this is the measure by which we are invited to measure the greatness of the love of God. It is not that it is so great that it is able to extend over the whole of a big world: it is so great that it is able to prevail over the Holy God’s hatred and abhorrence of sin. For herein is love, that God could love the world — the world that lies in the evil one: that God who is all-holy and just and good, could so love this world that He gave His only begotten Son for it, — that He might not judge it, but that it might be saved. Its primary connotation is ethical, and the point of its employment is not to suggest that the world is so big that it takes a great deal of love to embrace it all, but that the world is so bad that it takes a great kind of love to love it at all, and much more to love it as God has loved it when He gave His Son for it.
 From "The Gospel of Paul"
Until Jesus had died for us there was nothing for us to do but to die. We were dead in sin, and held under death for sin. But now since He has died for us, we can work our salvation out into life. And that is what Paul teaches us. We cannot save ourselves: but having been saved, we can illustrate our salvation in newness of life.
Being in Christ Jesus, you have within you the powers of a new life, and they will grow, and grow, and grow. Sinner that you are, Christ who knew no sin has been made sin for you, and you shall become the righteousness of God in Him. Could there be a greater inducement to effort brought to bear upon us than this great declaration? It is God that is working in us: shall we not then work out our own salvation with fear and trembling? This is Paul’s exhortation to you. In effect he says: Seeing that you are a new creation, live as becomes those who are a new creation. Desert the old plane of your living; it is not worthy of new creatures. Having died with Christ, live with and for Him. He has been made sin for you. See that you become the righteousness of God in Him. You are released from the bondage of sin and freed for a new life of holiness. Live it. Adorn the Gospel you profess: for God has called you not to sin but to holiness, and if you walk not in this holiness, — are you in Him? have you died with Him? He who dies with Him lives also in and with Him, and living in and with Him lives to Him.
From "The Glorified Christ"
The fashionable, I do not say unbelief, I say the fashionable belief, about us to-day, forgets or neglects, or openly turns its back upon the living Christ, and bids us seek inspiration for our lives and hope for our future, in a Jesus who lived and died in Palestine two thousand years ago, — and that was all. Dimly seen through the ever-increasing obscurity of the gathering years, that great figure has still the power to attract the gaze and to quicken the pulses — yes, to dominate the lives — of men. This is, no doubt, much; but so little is it all, that it is the least of what we are to seek and to find in Jesus Christ. He is our inspiration; and, knowing Him better than these, our would-be guides, know Him, He is also our example. But He is so much more than our inspiration or even our example, that we need scarcely think of these things when we think of Him: He is our life. And He is our life not only because He has washed out in His blood the death-warrant that had been issued against us — giving, as He Himself phrased it. His life as a ransom for many — but also because, after He had purchased us to Himself by His precious blood, He has become to us the living fountain and ever-flowing source of life and blessedness. Jesus on the cross is our Saviour; and it is our privilege to behold Him on His cross, an all-sufficient sacrifice for our sins. But Jesus on His throne is our Saviour too; and it is our privilege to-day, as we read the lofty words of this great declaration of the Epistle to the Hebrews, to behold Him on His throne, crowned with glory and honour, that His tasting of death may by God’s grace be the actual salvation of our souls. 
Remember that you serve a living, not a dead Christ. You are to trust in His blood. In it alone have you life. But you are to remember that He was not broken by death, but broke death; and having purchased you to Himself by His blood, now rules over your souls from His heavenly throne. He is your master whom you are to obey. He has given you commandment to bring all peoples to the knowledge of Him. And He has promised to be with you, even to the end of the world. Live with Him. Keep fast hold upon Him; be in complete touch with Him.
From "The Gospel of the Covenant"
What can we possibly need that we do not find provided in Him? Do we hopelessly groan under the curse of the broken law, hanging menacingly over us? Christ has “redeemed us from the curse of the law, having been made a curse for us.” Do we know that only he that worketh righteousness is acceptable to God, and despair of attaining life on so unachievable a condition? Christ Jesus “hath of God been made unto us righteousness.” Do we loathe ourselves in the pollution of our sins, and know that God is greater than we, and that we must be an offence in His holy sight? The blood of Christ cleanseth us from all sin. But do we not need faith, that we may be made one with Him and so secure those benefits? Faith, too, is the gift of God: and that we believe on Him is granted by God in the behalf of Christ. Have we sought to run, and learned by bitter experience that it is not of him that runneth nor of him that willeth? We may learn too by a happy experience that it is of God that showeth mercy and that worketh in us both the willing and the doing. Nothing has been forgotten, nothing neglected, nothing left unprovided. In the person of Jesus Christ, the great God, in His perfect wisdom and unfailing power, has taken our place before the outraged justice of God and under His perfect law, and has wrought out a complete salvation.
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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