We're in the middle of our five-part series on 'Soteriology' - our doctrine/s of salvation. Having established the Power of the Cross (the Servant King enduring horror and shame, 'for us and for our salvation'), we looked last Sunday at the Work of the Cross. How exactly did Jesus' death procure our salvation? How did he win our redemption?
As we discovered last time, the Cross is at the centre of Christianity. Paul says in Gal 6:14 that he will boast in nothing else. Indeed, the history of the Church has been one long story of reckoning with it! With that in mind, we looked at how the ancient Church understood the death of Christ on the Cross, how the medieval Church understood it, and then how the Reformers reckoned with it - all in conversation with Scripture.
On the Cross, Christ is the great Victor - conquering Satan, sin, death and hell.
On the Cross, Christ is the God-Man - standing in our place, doing what we never could.
On the Cross, Christ is our True Example - showing us what love really means.
All of these are good and true answers, and consistent with scripture to a greater or lesser extent. But these are all but melodies without a harmony. There is one answer that unites them all. It's there in the early Church. It's there in the medieval Church. It's there in the modern Church. And it's there in the Scriptures. What is this answer?
On the Cross, Christ is our substitute - pierced for our transgressions.
He became sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God.
A great start to the new year! Thanks to all those who attended our sixth Foundations sessions last night. We were continuing (and finishing) our study of God as Creator.
Having asked how and why God created all things in the last session, we turned our attention to ourselves. What does it mean to be human? It's the question at the centre of all other questions - from sexuality and politics, to ethics and morality, to parenting and education, to technology and art, everything we do begs this same question. What are we? Who are we? What were we made for?
Noverim te, noverim me - "I would know you, God, for I would know myself"
Those were Augustine's words. We cannot hope to know ourselves as creatures without first having looked at God our Creator. We saw how the story of humanity can be told in three 'chapters':  Prelapsarian Man (i.e. what we were like before we fell);  Postlapsarian Man (i.e. what happened to us because of the Fall), and  New Creation Man.
The last chapter in the story of humanity is the best of all! Christ the Second Adam, the True Man, became human for us! Whereas once there was a broken image, now there is the Image of the Invisible God; whereas once there was rebellion, now there is a True King; whereas once there was sabotage, now there is an Obedient Son; where once we were covenant breakers, now we have Christ, the 'Yes' and 'Amen'!
You can find a full set of notes below.
I. The Awesome Sound
Imagine waking up in a great concert hall amongst a vast congregation of singers. The first thing you hear is a wondrous song, a musical masterpiece, proceeding from the stage at the centre of a circular arena. The sound, though not particularly loud at first, is filled with a thousand perfect harmonies. The intertwined music and lyrics seem more ancient than you can possibly imagine, but at the same time refreshing and relevant. The song never seems to end, and yet it somehow stays entirely captivating, telling a great tale of many movements. It is easily the most beautiful music you have ever heard.
Your heart is gripped in awe, and you are drawn to the source to which all the audience direct their voices. You gaze in the same direction, for on the stage is an awesome scene: a throne, overarched by a rainbow. The One sitting on it has the appearance of precious gems, and next to the throne there is an empty bloodstained cross. All around the throne is a host of musicians and vocalists, young and old, addressing their various sounds to the One in echo of His song. In front of them stands the Conductor, and you realise that you somehow know Him; He has the appearance of the Son of Man. You notice a large songbook in front of you. You pick it up in the hope of confirming what your memory is telling you. The title reads: “The Holy Word of God and The Gospel of Grace: The Wisdom by which the Earth was founded and the Heavens Established”, followed by the conductor’s name, “The Word who was with God in the beginning and is God, Who dwelt amongst humanity for their redemption”.
Now you remember. He is the One who saved you from the state you used to be in; the One who rescued you from the sea of destruction.
We met last night to begin our study of God as Saviour - what a privilege! We will eventually turn to look at the Cross, at the Resurrection, at Justification and Sanctification (etc.). But last night our focus was very simple: God has freely chosen to be a Saviour God. This is undeserved, unprovoked, and unmerited.
And yet he seeks us anyway.
Our focus was the doctrine of election - God's free choice to be God in whatever way he sees fit, the Father's predestination of the Son to the praise of his name, and the Triune God's election of a people who he takes as his precious possession.
"Perverse and foolish oft I strayed,
But yet in love he sought me;
And on his shoulder, gently laid,
And home rejoicing brought me!"
You can find notes below - greatly expanded, with five appendices! You can also the find the below I played last night, a modern adaptation of Francis Thompson's "Hound of Heaven".
Second year TTS students - click here for the S10 notes!
Welcome to the Theology That Sings blog. Here you'll find news of upcoming events, as well as notes and notices.