I call upon You, Lord, God of Abraham and God of Isaac and God of Jacob and Israel, You who are the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the God who, through the abundance of your mercy, was well-pleased towards us so that we may know You, who made heaven and earth, who rules over all, You who are the one and the true God, above whom there is no other God; You who, by our Lord Jesus Christ gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit, give to every one who reads this writing to know You, that You alone are God, to be strengthened in You, and to avoid every heretical and godless and impious teaching.

St Irenaeus of Lyons, Against the Heresies 3:6:4

Thursday, January 10, 2013

O Fools, and Slow of Heart to Believe All that the Prophets have Spoken

Yesterday, Justin Taylor posted two bits from recent antiquity on seeing Jesus in all of the Scripture on his GC blog, showing that it is not a Johnny-come-lately fad.  The first was from the 1878 Niagara Creed and the second was from Calvin.  Oddly, last night, as I was reading Ryle’s Knots Untied on the Kindle, I found the same beautiful expression of Christ as the hermeneutical key to all of Scripture.  Ryle put it like this.

But one golden chain runs through the whole volume (of the Canon): no salvation excepting by Jesus Christ.  The bruising of the serpent’s head foretold in the day of the fall; the clothing of our first parents with skins; the sacrifices of Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; the Passover, and all the particulars of the Jewish law—the high priests, the alter, the daily offering of the lamb, the holy of holies entered only by blood, the scape-goat, the cities of refuge—all are so many witnesses to the truth set forth in the text (of Acts 4:12).  All preach with one voice, salvation only by Christ. 

In fact, this truth appears to be the grand object of the Bible, and all the different parts and portions of the book are meant to pour light upon it.  I can gather from it no ideas of pardon and peace with God excepting in connection with this truth (loc. 621—630). 

In the section wherein this portion is found, Ryle has been arguing for the exclusivity of Christ as the only means of salvation; this quote is part of his third premise.  No compromising position is safe in his survey, as everything from Romanism to less-than-pure Protestantism comes into his crosshairs.  Ryle’s thesis is as simple as it is pure truth.  In his opening, he says he could cut short this section with one simple argument: Only in Christ is there salvation, because “God says so!” (loc. 563).  However, in concession to the critical reader, Ryle premises his argument on three supporting points (which is simply another way of saying, "God says so!" which I love!).

The doctrine of exclusivity, as declared by St. Peter in Acts 4:12, must be true, because...

            1. Man is what man is (i.e., from total depravity)
            2. God is what God is (i.e., from God’s omnipotence, holiness, and justice)
3. The Bible is what the Bible is (e.g., if we take not this text’s truth, the Bible must be disregarded altogether, as it points decisively to the truth of this doctrine from cover to cover, as the quotation above argues)

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