Watson on the need for Spirit illumination

Some speak of how far reason will go if put to good use; but, alas! the plumbline of reason is too short to fathom the deep things of God. A man can no more reach the saving knowledge of God by the power of reason, than a pigmy can reach the pyramids. The light of nature will no more help us to see Christ, than the light of a candle will help us to understand. ‘The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: neither can he know them’ (1 Cor. 2:14). What shall we do, then, to know God in a soul-saving manner? I answer, let us implore the help of God’s Spirit. Paul never saw himself blind till a light shone from heaven (Acts 9:3). . . .

We may have some excellent notions of divinity, but the Holy Ghost must enable us to know them in a spiritual manner. A man may see the figures on a dial, but he cannot tell how the day goes unless the sun shines. We may read many truths in the Bible, but we cannot know them savingly till God’s Spirit shines upon us.

Watson, The Godly Man’s Picture, (BoT, 1666/rp. 1992), 27.

Warfield on Liberal Scholarship

Prof. Mackintosh says many good things well and strongly. We have noted numerous passages where truths of importance, often truths disputed in circles with which Prof. Mackintosh manifests a certain sympathy, are stated with clearness and force. And the drift of the whole discussion is on the side of the angels. But the points of view from which Prof. Mackintosh approaches his task and the presuppositions with which he endeavors to accomplish it, gravely compromise his results, or rather, if we are to speak quite frankly, render it from the first impossible that he should succeed in reaching a satisfying solution of the problems which it offers.

Warfield, Critical Reviews, in Works, vol. 10 (Baker, rpt), 307.

Thomas Watson on Godliness and Knowledge

What a shame it is to be without knowledge! ‘Some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame’ (1 Cor. 15:34). Men think it a shame to be ignorant of their trade, but no shame to be ignorant of God. There is no going to heaven blindfold. ‘It is a people of no understanding: therefore he that made them will not have mercy on them’ (Isa. 27:11)

Watson does not divide doctrine and life:

How many knowledgeable persons are ignorant? They have illumination, but not sanctification. Their knowledge has no powerful influence upon them to make them better. If you set up a hundred torches in a garden they will not make the flowers grow, but the sun is influential.

. . . . . . . . . . .

Many in the old world knew there was an ark, but were drowned because they did not get into it. Knowledge which is not applied will only light a man to hell.

Watson, The Godly Man’s Picture, (BoT, 1666/rp. 1992), 25f.

Warfield on Inspiration and Incarnation

It has been customary among a certain school of writers to speak of the Scriptures, because ‘inspired,’ as a Divine-human book, and to appeal to the analogy of Our Lord’s Divine-human personality to explain their peculiar qualities as such. The expression calls attention to an important fact, and the analogy holds good at a certain distance. There are human and divine sides to Scripture, and, as we cursorily examine it, we may perceive in it, alternately, traits which suggest now the one, now the other factor in its origin. But the analogy with Our Lord’s Divine-human personality may easily be pressed beyond reason. There is no hypostatic union between the Divine and the human in Scripture; we cannot parallel the ‘inscripturation’ of the Holy Spirit and the incarnation of the Son of God. The Scriptures are merely the product of Divine and human forces working together to produce a product in the production of which the human forces work under the initiation and prevalent direction of the Divine: the person of Our Lord unites in itself Divine and human natures, each of which retains its distinctness while operating only in relation to the other. Between such diverse things there can exist only a remote analogy; and, in point of fact, the analogy in the present instance amounts to no more than that in both cases Divine and human factors are involved, though very differently. In the one they unite to constitute a Divine-human person, in the other they coöperate to perform a Divine-human work. Even so distant an analogy may enable us, however, to recognize that as, in the case of Our Lord’s person, the human nature remains truly human while yet it can never fall into sin or error because it can never act out of relation with the Divine nature into conjunction with which it has been brought; so in the case of the production of Scripture by the conjoint action of human and Divine factors, the human factors have acted as human factors, and have left their mark on the product as such, and yet cannot have fallen into that error which we say it is human to fall into, because they have not acted apart from the Divine factors, by themselves, but only under their unerring guidance.

B. B. Warfield, "The Biblical Idea of Inspiration," in Works (OUP, 1932; reprinted, Baker, 2003), 108f.

More on the Tabernacle

Enns observes a few key textual factors that point to the tabernacle as a recreated Eden.

Commentators for centuries have noticed that the phrase ‘the LORD said to Moses’ occurs seven times in chapters 25-31. The first six concern the building of the tabernacle and its furnishings (25:1; 30:11, 17, 22, 34; 31:1), while the final introduces the Sabbath command (31:12). It seems clear that the purpose of this arrangement is to aid the reader in making the connection between the building of the tabernacle and the seven days of creation, both of which involve six creative acts culminating in a seventh-day rest.

Peter Enns, Exodus, NIVAC, 509. [The weakness of the observation is the clustering of the sayings in ch. 30; why does it not occur consistently at key points of the building process?]

Interestingly the very next event recorded (Ex. 32) is a fall. There a couple of occasions in Scripture in which there is a "recreation" followed by a fall. (The Flood is one example. The passage is full of creation language. It is as if the world is washed clean and recreated. And the next recorded incident after God’s rainbow covenant with Noah is a fall). These passages emphasize the depth to which sin is engraved in the human person. To remove sin there will need to be a real recreation.

Also important to notice, the fall in Exodus 32 puts God’s presence among his people in jeopardy.

The Threefold Office of Christ – Part 12

Ezra and Nehemiah recount the restoration of a remnant of Israelites to the land. Jerusalem and the temple were rebuilt. Yet the people were caught in the same sins that led to the exile (Ezra 9; Neh. 5, 13).

Haggai and Zechariah ministered as prophets during this period. Haggai confronted the people for once again breaking the covenant and calling its curses down on their heads (Hag. 1). But he also closed the book with a note of hope for the Davidic dynasty. God told the Jeconiah, the last Davidic king, He would cast him away even if he were a signet ring on God’s right hand. Now Haggai tells Zerubabbel, Jeconiah’s grandson, that God chose him to be a like signet ring—one that God is not going to cast off.

Zechariah saw a vision of Joshua, the high priest, covered in filthy garments (Zech 3:1-3). This was a picture of Israel in her sins. [Three reasons exist for identifying Joshua as symbolic of the entire people. First, the priests represented the nation before God. Second, God responds to Satan’s accusations by saying that He has chosen Jerusalem (Zech 3:2). Third, God purposed to remove iniquity from the land (Zech 3:9).] Yet the Lord had these filthy garments replaced with clean garments. This symbolized the removal of iniquity and the gift of purity.

In this context, God told Zechariah the solution to Israel’s sin problem is found in his "servant the Branch." Other references to the Branch in the Old Testament equate this figure with the Davidic Messiah. The timing of this promised removal of iniquity is linked to "vine and fig tree" language (Zech 3:10). Micah 4:1-7 uses vine and fig tree language in connection with the rule of the Lord from Zion. The Micah passage is parallel to Isaiah 2. The prophet Isaiah identifies the Lord who rules from Zion and the Davidic Messiah.

In Zechariah 6:9-15 Joshua, the high-priest is symbolically crowned to indicate that the Branch would be “a priest on his throne” (Zech 6:13). As the book progresses Zechariah predicts a king that will come “having salvation” (Zech 9:9). He is contrasted with false shepherds (Zech 10-11). When that king comes he is found to be the Lord (Zech 14:9). Yet he is a pierced Lord (Zech 12:10) who provides a fountain of cleansing for the people’s sin and uncleanness (Zech 13:1). The Lord the king is thus able to do what the sacrifices were intended to do. In the end the whole earth will be made holy to the Lord (Zech 14:20-21).

Free Commentary on Matthew and Mark

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Turner has also recently written a commentary on Matthew for the Baker Exegetical set.

Machen and Hermann

Long before Machen wrote Christianity and Liberalism, he studied in Germany under the Ritschlian, Wilhelm Hermann.

Machen wrote home about the experience:

The first time that I heard Herrmann may almost be described as an epoch in my life. Such an overpowering personality I think I almost never before encountered—overpowering in the sincerity of religious devotion . . . .

My chief feeling with reference to him is already one of the deepest reverence . . . . I have been thrown all into confusion by what he says—so much deeper is his devotion to Christ than anything I have known in myself in the past few years . . . . Hermann affirms very little of that which I have been accustomed to regard as essential to Christianity, yet there is no doubt in my mind that he is a Christian, and a Christian of a peculiarly earnest type.

cited in John Piper, Contending for Our All: Defending Truth and Treasuring Christ in the Lives of Athanasius, John Owen, and J. Gresham Machen (Crossway, 2006), 123.

This reveals the fallacy of equating Christianity with piety apart from doctrine. It was an error the young Machen almost succumbed to and an error about which the older Machen tried to warn the church.

The Tabernacle and the Presence of God

The Tabernacle was a visible symbol of God’s presence among his people (Ex 25:8). This was a blessing not to be under-appreciated. When Adam and Eve were thrust from Eden, they were thrust from the presence of God. The Tabernacle was the first step toward God dwelling with his people once again.

Interestingly, it seems that all of the furniture described in Exodus 25 reinforces the concept of God’s presence.

The ark is the first piece of tabernacle furniture mentioned. It is the "supreme post-Sinai symbol of the Presence of Yahweh" (Durham, 350 cited by Enns, 511). Since Scripture reveals that Yahweh was enthroned between the cherubim (1 Sam 4:4; 2 Sam 6:2; Ps 80:1; 99:1), the ark, with the cherubim on its lid symbolizes Yahweh’s throne.

The table also testified to God’s presence with his people. The twelve (=tribes) loaves of bread laid on the table were called "bread of the Presence" (ESV, NASB, HCSB, NIV; "shewbread," KJV; Heb, לחם פנים). Leviticus reveals that the priests were to eat this bread each Sabbath in the Holy Place, which probably indicates God’s fellowship with his people.

The lamp is made to look like a tree, and several commentators think the lamp is meant to symbolize the tree of life (Staurt is the most helpful on this point; he makes the best use of cross references).

If the lamp does indeed picture the tree of life, the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies was like a miniature Eden built in the wilderness [G. K. Beale has some similar ideas in The Temple and the Church’s Mission, but he argues Eden was a "temple." I think this argues backwards; the tabernacle and temple were like Eden]. This is an Eden that is also a continual reminder of sin, however. The people are still barred from the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies. Only priestly mediators are permitted to enter there.

Frame says the biblical story "is the narrative of God coming to be with his people as their Lord, in his control, authority, and presence" (DCL, 273). The construction of the Tabernacle is a major step toward the realization of God dwelling once more with man. It also reveals the need for the remainder of the plan of redemption.

Machen on Doctrine and Christianity

But, it will be said, Christianity is a life, not a doctrine. This assertion is often made, and it has the appearance of godliness. But it is radically false, and to detect its falsity one does not even need to be a Christian. For to say that ‘Christianity is a life’ is to make an assertion in the sphere of history.

. . . . . . . . . .

About the early stages of this movement [that is, Christianity] definite historical information has been preserved in the Epistles of Paul, which are regarded by all serious historians as genuine products of the first Christian generation. The writer of the Epistles had been in direct communication with those intimate friends of Jesus who had begun the Christian movement in Jerusalem, and in the Epistles he makes it abundantly plain what the fundamental character of the movement was.

But if any one fact is clear, on the basis of this evidence, it is that the Christian movement at its inception was not just a way of life in the modern sense, but a way of life founded upon a message. It was based, not upon mere feeling, not upon a mere program of work, but upon an account of facts. In other words, it was based upon doctrine.

J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism (Eerdmans, 1923), 19, 21.