“Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.”
Matthew 24:34 Commentary – John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible.
“Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.”
Matthew 24:34 Commentary – John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible.
This is the first of a series of posts in which I hope to offer an explanation of my view of God’s covenant dealings with Abraham. This view is virtually the same as that held by Nehemiah Coxe, and presented in the book Covenant Theology: From Adam to Christ, by Nehemiah Coxe & John Owen. Some dear paedobaptist brothers and sisters of mine are often confused when I assert that while the Covenant of Grace (I prefer the name Covenant of Redemption) was most certainly revealed to Abraham, the Covenant of Circumcision cannot be equated with this Gospel Covenant. In this, and, Lord willing, future posts, I’ve tried to present my view in the form of succinct statements, followed by Scriptural support. It is my hope that this will serve to edify and clarify my convictions concerning Abraham, circumcision, grace, baptism, and God’s eternal plan of redemption in Christ.
1.) God’s promises to Abraham are based in mercy, not merit.
20Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob, and the mercy to Abraham, which thou hast sworn unto our fathers from the days of old.
72To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant;
73The oath which he sware to our father Abraham,
18For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise. Continue Reading
Have you ever heard someone describe someone else, saying something like, “He’s his own
man,” or, “She’s her own woman”? This phrase is used to describe someone who has an
independent or headstrong personality, someone who knows what he or she wants and goes after
it. If I say, “I’m my own man,” I’m saying that I’m not a follower who goes along with the
crowd, but rather someone who is self-reliant, who is not afraid to make his own decisions, and
ultimately answers to himself. This character trait is generally considered to be a good thing to
have. Take it away, and the world sees a “sheep,” a weak person who lets someone else handle
the decisions and is content to just sit in the background and do as they’re told.
As Christians, however, none of us is “his own man,” or “her own woman.” Yet this is not a
weakness! In fact, the Heidelberg Catechism calls this our “only comfort in life and in death!”
Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 1, Q1:
Q. What is your only comfort in life and in death?
A. That I am not my own, but belong – body and soul, in life and in death – to my
faithful savior Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and
has set me free from the tyranny of the devil. He also watches over me in such a way that
not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven: in fact, all
things must work together for my salvation. Because I belong to Him, Christ, by his Holy
Spirit, assures me of eternal life and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from
now on to live for him.
Let’s take a look at I Corinthians 6:19-20. We’ll be focusing our attention on the latter part of
verse 19, along with verse 20.
I Corinthians 6:19-20 (NKJV)
“Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit Who is in you,
Whom you have in God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price;
therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
You Are Not Your Own
The first point that we will examine is that “you are not your own.” This raises the
question, “To Whom do we belong?” In Ezekiel 18:4, God says, “Behold, all souls are Mine; The
soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine.” As Creator, all things – including all
people – certainly belong to God, and He is free to do with them as He pleases (Romans
9:14-24). Yet we also see in John 8:44 that some belong to the devil. So what exactly is this
passage telling us?
In John 15:19, Christ addresses His disciples, saying “You are not of the world, but I chose you
out of the world.” God has chosen for Himself a people, made up of individuals from all nations,
classes, races, etc. While every human being belongs to God as Creator, this chosen people – the
elect – belong to Him in a special way, as Redeemer.
Romans 1:6 refers to believers as “the called of Jesus Christ.” Romans 7:4 says that we are
“married to another – to Him who was raised from the dead.” Romans 14:8 says that “if we live,
we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore whether we live or die, we are
the Lord’s.” Also, Galatians 5:24 refers to “those who are Christ’s.”
I Corinthians 3:23 plainly says that “you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.”
I Corinthians 6:19 says that “your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you
have from God.” The temple belongs to God, not man, thus we cannot think of ourselves as
independent – we, as temples of the Holy Spirit, belong to God (Morris 104).
You Were Bought With A Price
Now that we have established that we as believers, the elect of God, belong to Christ, and not to
ourselves, the next question to be answered is, “How did we come to belong to Christ?” The
present passage states that we have been “bought at a price.” Paul repeats this later in I
Corinthians 7:23. What exactly is this price?
In Acts 20:28, Paul addresses the elders of the church of Ephesus, instructing them to “take heed
to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to
shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” In Revelation 5:9, John
records that he saw the four living creatures and twenty-four elders singing before the Lamb,
who is Christ, “You were slain, and have purchased us for God with Your blood out of every tribe
and tongue and people and nation.”
The Greek word here translated as “bought” and “purchased” (sometimes “redeemed”) is
agorazo, from agora, meaning marketplace. Paul’s language in this passage emphasizes Christ’s
ownership of believers. If I go to the bookstore and pay money buy a book (or two, or seven), I
say that the book is mine; it belongs to me. How much more, then, do we belong to Christ, our
Creator, who paid for us, not with money, but by the shedding of His own precious blood? The
answer is: utterly and completely. As the Heidelberg Catechism says, “body and soul, in life and
Christ’s claim on believers does not end with their life, but also extends over their death, so that
whatever we do, even dying, is done to the honor and glory of Christ.
“For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the
Lord; and we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the
Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of
both the dead and the living.”
Verse 20 contains a “therefore,” an important indicator word that means the writer is drawing a
conclusion. In this case, Paul is instructing his readers that since they have been bought at a
price, and thus belong to God, they are to “glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are
God’s.” What does it mean to “glorify God”? This is a phrase that we as Christians often hear,
and most have a pretty good idea of what it means, but some may never have taken the time to
really consider what it means to “glorify” our Lord.
The Greek word for “glorify” is doxazo. It can be defined as follows:
1. to think, suppose, be of opinion
2. to praise, extol, magnify, celebrate
3. to honor, do honor to, hold in honor
4. to make glorious, adorn with luster, clothe with splendor
a. to impart glory to something, render it excellent
b. to cause the dignity and worth of some person or thing to become manifest and
Now, it is plain that we as creatures cannot impart glory to God our Creator, in the sense of
actually causing Him to be glorious. He is inherently, naturally the epitome of Glory; He does
not need us to make Him so. Therefore, in this context, we can reject this one meaning for
doxazo. The rest, however, apply perfectly to Paul’s context. We can certainly glorify God in the
first sense (think, suppose, opine), recognizing and believing that God is glorious. We can glorify
God in the second sense, praising and celebrating His holy magnificence in our daily worship of
Him. We can glorify God in the third sense, honoring Him with our words and deeds, and
respecting Him and His Word above all others. We can also glorify God in the last sense listed,
by spreading the word to others about His dignity and worthiness of all honor, glory, and praise.
Scripture provides us with many examples of how to glorify God. The best way is to obey God’s
-John 15:8 “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My
-John 17:4 “I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have
given Me to do.”
We can also glorify God with our words:
-Mark 2:12 “All were amazed and glorified God, saying, ‘We never saw anything like
-Luke 2:20 “The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that
they had heard and seen.”
-Luke 5:25-26 “Immediately he rose up before them, took up what he had been lying on,
and departed to his own house, glorifying God. And they were all amazed,
and they glorified God and were filled with fear, saying, ‘We have seen
strange things today!’”
-Luke 7:16 “Then fear came upon all, and they glorified God, saying, ‘A great prophet
has risen up among us’; and, ‘God has visited His people.’”
-Acts 11:18 “When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God,
saying, ‘Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.’”
-Romans 15:5-6 “Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded
toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with
one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord
Glorify God in Your Body
Now that we have a general sense of what it means to glorify God, how do we put it into practice
as Paul says, “glorify God in your body”? The immediate context of I Corinthians 6:13-7:40
refers to sexual purity. We are to respect and obey God’s commands regarding marriage and
fidelity, even before we are actually married.
God has given us our bodies, to also be the temple of the Holy Spirit. Thus we ought to be good
stewards, or caretakers, of our bodies, maintaining good health practices.
The great Baptist theologian, John Gill, explained what it means to “glorify God in your body”
“Outward attendance on His worship… confessing and speaking well of Him; by acting
for Him, laying out and using time, strength, and substance, for His honor and interest;
and by patient suffering for His name’s sake.”
Glorify God… in Your Spirit
While the command to “glorify God in your body” emphasizes the need for outward purity,
“glorify God… in your spirit” emphasizes the need for inward purity. This is the part of ourselves
that nobody sees but us, and of course God.
We ought to use our mind to think Godly thoughts.
-II Corinthians 10:5 “bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ”
-Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble,
whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever
things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy –
meditate on these things.”
Gill wrote that glorifying God in your spirit was “done when the heart or spirit is given up to
Him, and is engaged in His service, and when His glory lies near unto it.”
In conclusion, God’s Word is urging us to glorify Him with our entire self, because He has
purchased us, and we fully belong to Him. Brothers and sisters, listen to the words of the
Heidelberg Catechism, and recognize that our only comfort is that we are not our own, but
belong, body and soul, to our Lord Jesus Christ. But don’t stop there; use each day to glorify
God in your body and spirit: praise Him, magnify Him, celebrate Him, honor Him, and tell
others about Him! We have been bought with the precious blood of Jesus Christ, and we are not
Gill, John. Exposition of the Old and New Testaments.
Morris, Leon. The First Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians. “Tyndale New Testament
“The covenant of grace made between God and Christ, and with the elect
in him, as their Head and Representative, is a proper covenant, consisting
of stipulation and restipulation; God the Father in it stipulates with his Son,
that he shall do such and such work and service, on condition of which he
promises to confer such and such honours and benefits on him, and on the
elect in him; and Christ the Son of God restipulates and agrees to do all
that is proposed and prescribed, and, upon performance, expects and
claims the fulfilment of the promises: in this compact there are mutual
engagements each party enters into, stipulate and restipulate about, which
make a proper formal covenant; see Isaiah 49:1-6; 53:10-12; Psalm
40:6-8; John 17:4,5.
“It is by some divines called, “the covenant of redemption”; and very
truly, because the redemption of God’s elect is a principal article in it: the
Father proposed to the Son, that he should raise up, restore, redeem Israel,
his chosen ones; the Son agreed to it, and hence he was declared and
promised, and expected as the Redeemer, long before he came into this
world to do this service; Job knew him as his living Redeemer, and all the
Old Testament saints waited for him as such, having had a promise of it,
which was founded on this covenant agreement; for as it was proposed to
him, and he agreed to it, to be the Redeemer, so it was promised him, that
upon the condition of giving himself, the redemption and ransom price for
the elect, they should be delivered from all their sins, and the effects of
them, and out of the hands of all their enemies; see Isaiah 49:5; 59:20;
Job 33:24. But then,
This covenant is the same with the covenant of grace; some divines,
indeed, make them distinct covenants; the covenant of redemption, they
say, was made with Christ in eternity; the covenant of grace with the elect,
or with believers, in time: but this is very wrongly said; there is but one
covenant of grace, and not two, in which the Head and Members, the
Redeemer and the persons to be redeemed, Christ and the elect, are
concerned; in which he is the Head and Representative of them, acts for
them, and on their behalf. What is called a covenant of redemption, is a
covenant of grace, arising from the grace of the Father, who proposed to
his Son to be the Redeemer, and from the grace of the Son, who agreed to
be so; and even the honours proposed to the Son in this covenant,
redounded to the advantage of the elect; and the sum and substance of the
everlasting covenant made with Christ, is the salvation and eternal
happiness of the chosen ones; all the blessings and grants of grace to them,
are secured in that eternal compact; for they were blessed with all spiritual
blessings in him, and had grace given them in him before the world was;
wherefore there can be no foundation for such a distinction between a
covenant of redemption in eternity, and a covenant of grace in time.
The contracting parties concerned in this covenant, are next to be
considered more particularly and distinctly. This covenant is commonly
represented as if it was only between the Father and the Son; but I see not
why the Holy Spirit should be excluded, since he is certainly promised in it
both to Head and members; and in consequence of it, is sent down into the
hearts of God’s covenant ones, to make application of the blessings,
promises, and grace of the covenant to them, and to work a work of grace
in them; all which must be by agreement, and with his consent; and I think
there are some traces, and some footsteps of all the three Persons, as
concerned in it, in the dispensation and manifestation of this covenant to
the people of Israel, Haggai 2:4,5.
“[T]here is the Father’s
distinct act of will notified in the covenant, that it is his will and pleasure
his Son should be the Saviour of the chosen ones; and there is the Son’s
distinct act of will notified in the same covenant, he presenting himself, and
declaring himself willing, and engaging himself to be the Saviour of them;
which distinct acts of the divine will thus notified, formally constituted a
covenant between them; and as the holy Spirit dispenses his gifts and
grace, the blessings of this covenant, “severally as he will”, 1 Corinthians 12:11 this is pursuant to an agreement, to a notification of his
will in covenant also” (Of The Everlasting Council Concerning The Salvation Of Men. Gill’s Body of Divinity, Vol 1. John Gill. Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI ,1978. Pages 306-314.).
In Gordon H. Clark’s essay, “Concerning Free Will” (Essays on Ethics and Politics; Jefferson: Trinity Foundation, 1992. pp. 25-35; originally published in The Reformed Presbyterian Advocate, August-September, 1961.), Clark provides several quotes from historic Protestantism on the subject of “Free Will.” I found the following quotes especially helpful, particularly because they speak to subjects and arguments that I have encountered in my own theological discussions. Emphasis in bold is my own.
First, Martin Luther, in response to Erasmus’ quote of Deuteronomy 30:19, “I have set before thy face life and death, choose what is good.”
“What words” says the Diatribe, “can be more plain? It leaves a man the liberty of choosing.” I answer, what is more plain than that you are blind? How, I pray, does it leave the liberty of choosing? Is it by the expression “choose”? Therefore as Moses saith “choose,” does it immediately come to pass that they do choose? Then there is no need of the Spirit. … [Erasmus says] “It would be ridiculous to say to a man standing in a place where two ways meet, Thou seest two roads, go by which thou wilt; when only one was open.” This, as I [Luther] have observed before, is from the arguments of human reason, which thinks that a man is mocked by a command impossible: whereas I say that the man by this means is admonished and roused to see his own impotency. True it is that we are in a place where two ways meet, and that one of them only is open, yea rather neither of them is open. But by the law it is shown how impossible the one [way] is, that is, to good, unless God freely give us His Spirit, and how wide and easy the other [way] is, if God leave us to ourselves. … Wherefore the words of the law are spoken, not that they might assert the power of the will, but that they might illuminate the blindness of reason, that it might see that its own light is nothing and that the power of the will is nothing. … Man by the words of the law is admonished and taught what he ought to do, not what he can do; that is, that he is brought to know his sin, but not to believe that he has any strength in himself” (pp. 153-154).
Look then first at that of Jeremiah and Malachi, “If thou wilt turn, then will I turn thee;” and “turn ye unto me and I will turn unto you.” Does it then follow from “turn ye” therefore, ye are able to turn? Does it follow also from “Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart” therefore, thou art able to love with all the heart? If these arguments stand good, what do they conclude but that free will needs not the grace of God, but can do all things of its own power? (p. 162) [Clark 27-28]. [Clark takes these quotes from Luther’s Bondage of the Will, Henry Cole trans., Sovereign Grace Union ed., United States, Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1931.]
Here Luther has shown that one can only derive propositions (such as “Man possesses the liberty of choosing”) from other propositions. An imperative statement, or command, is not a proposition; it is neither true nor false, and thus truth cannot be derived from it.
Next, John Calvin. Continue Reading