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In Matthew 4:1-11, Christ is driven by the Spirit into the desert. In His battle with Satan, Christ is like Adam, like Israel and like David.

Like Adam, the devil confronts Him with audible temptations to doubt God's word and eat.  And like Adam the fate of humanity rests on His shoulders.

Like Israel, He is called 'Son of God', and goes through the waters straight into a wilderness trial.  Where they caved in to temptation over 40 years, Christ would be the true Israel, resisting temptation over 40 days.

Like David, He's just been anointed and now faces a giant, man-to-man, whose 40 days of taunts reproach the God of Heaven.  And like David, Christ's victory would mean victory for His people.

Adam failed.  Israel failed.  But Christ, the anointed King goes to battle for His people.  He steps up as Adam - the True Man.  As the Son of God - the True Israel.  As David - our Spirit-filled Champion.  And through apparent weakness He slays the giant who has dismayed and defeated us at every turn.  His triumph is our triumph.

Christ's temptations are not in Scripture to model for us a three point primer in spiritual warfare!  They narrate for us the actual victory of our Anointed Champion.  This is not Jesus your Example.  Not primarily.  This is Jesus who has taken your humanity to Himself, who has become Himself the true people of God and who has waged war on our behalf.

If you only see  'Jesus our Example' you lose the gospel and put yourself at centre stage.  If you see 'Jesus our Champion' you get the example thrown in.  But fundamentally your eyes are taken from yourself and fixed where they should be:

When Satan tempts me to despair

And tells me of the guilt within

Upward I look and see HIM there

Who made an end of all my sin


Christ in the Wilderness 2

Christ in the Wilderness 3

Christ in the Wilderness 4

Christ in the Wilderness 5


Two boys at work in a field. (Gal 4:1-3).

They look the same, but they couldn't be more different.

One is a slave, the other is a son.  One is property, the other is heir.  One calls the owner "Boss".  The other calls him "Daddy."

But from a distance you can't tell.

In church, slaves and sons sit side by side.  And, from a distance, you can't tell which is which.  But actually there is a profound difference in their relationship to the Father - and this difference is decisive.

Paul writes Galatians 4:4-7 to sort out the slaves from the sons.

At the heart of this difference is the trinity.  If we understand the trinity and our union with Christ, if we understand our adoption into the very life of God, then we'll be sons.  If we miss this, we will live as slaves.

The trinity really is that important.

Audio of Sunday's sermon - Galatians 3:26-4:7

Slides here.

Text below...

...continue reading "Trinity – the difference between slaves and sons"

There are the cold and clinical 'latins' who are all about the 'law court' and 'satisfaction' and 'penal substitution'.

And there are the warm and generous eastern types who speak of 'trinity' and 'adoption' and 'theosis'.

Or if you're on the other side:

There are the faithful and biblical evangelicals who remember God's 'justice' and 'wrath' and 'propitiation'

And there are the wishy-washy liberals (i.e. everyone who's not an evangelical) who never face the problem of sin and judgement.

So which is it?

Matt Finn's post and Sam Allberry's comment show the way forward.  The penal self-substitution of Christ (which is very clearly taught in the Scriptures) only makes sense with a strong doctrine of the Trinity and of union with Christ.  Only if the Crucified One is God Himself intercepting His own judgement, and only if I am crucified with Him does it hang together.

It's just a real pity that those churches that are strong on penal substitutionary atonement (PSA) are often weak on trinity and union with Christ.  And in that context PSA gets horribly twisted.  And so many who oppose it say to themselves "If it's PSA or the trinity, I'll stick with the trinity."

If that were really the choice then I don't think I could blame them.  But it's not the choice.

13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ...18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.   (Eph 2:13,18)

We've got to hold together the legal and the familial - PSA and trinity/union with Christ.

Perhaps we need to remember JI Packer's three word summary of the New Testament: "adoption through propitiation". And let's hold on equally tightly to both.


Having just thought about Calvin and union with Christ - here is Mike's second talk on justification.  We receive His righteousness in Jesus.

Do give some time to these talks.  It's a chance to be refreshed and liberated by gospel truth.


Here's 5 minutes with Lane Tipton.  Or just read the summary quotes below.  Good stuff.

ht Bobby.

"In the contemporary setting today... there is a tendency to emphasize the forensic element of the gospel as being perhaps the whole gospel, such that justification begins to eclipse the very Person of Christ Himself."

[Instead Calvin's theology is a theology of union with Christ.  Therefore...] "You first possess Christ and then in Christ you are justified."

"Likewise if you want to be holy you must first possess Christ and then in Him you will be holy."

"The priority for Calvin is Christ.  And that breeds a very healthy christocentrism - a very healthy Christ-centredness in the Christian life.  Believers are united to a Person."

"... In offering the church a theology that focusses on union and communion with the living Person of the Son of God, Calvin avoids pushing us in the direction of accepting abstract benefits of the gospel and points us to the crucified and resurrected Benefactor of the gospel in terms of Whom we receive every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places."


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