Wednesday, October 30, 2013

P2 - The significance of Christ redeeming men rather than angels - Steven Charnock

Hebrews 2:14-15 "Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. 16 For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham."

In yesterday's post I provided a quote from the classic 17th century theologian Stephen Charnock's work: "On the Existence and Attributes of God".  The reason being was to explore the significance behind Christ's redemptive work being extended to lost human beings rather than the angelic realm.  The above text proclaims a significant truth and it is this blog writer's opinion that Charnock provides one of the best explanations on this subject.  We saw yesterday what he had to say with reference to the angelic realm.  Today we see further Charnock's comments on how God's goodness in redemption exceeds that of any goodness He expressed towards the fallen angelic realm. My prayer is that you will again be edified in reading this wonderful, Spirit gifted man.

An Excerpt from Stephen Charnock's "On the Existence and Attributes of God"1

His Goodness in redemption is greater than any goodness expressed to the fallen angels 2

"It is the wonder of his goodness to us, that he was mindful of fallen man, and careless of fallen angels; that he should visit man, wallowing in death and blood, with the dayspring from on high, and never turn the
Egyptian darkness of devils into cheerful day; when they sinned, Divine thunder dashed them into hell; when man sinned, Divine blood wafts the fallen creature from his misery: the angels wallow in their own blood forever, while Christ is made partaker of our blood, and wallows in his blood, that we might not
forever corrupt in ours; they tumbled down from heaven, and Divine goodness would not vouchsafe to catch them; man tumbles down, and Divine goodness holds out a hand drenched in the blood of Him, that
was from the foundations of the world, to lift us up (Heb. 2:16). 

He spared not those dignified spirits, when they revolted; and spared not punishing his Son for dusty man, when he offended; when he might as well forever have let man he in the chains wherein he had entangled himself, as them. 

We were as fit objects of justice as they, and they as fit objects of goodness as we; they were not more wretched by their fall than we; and the poverty of our nature rendered us more unable to recover ourselves, than the dignity of theirs did them; they were his Reuben, his first-born; they were his might, and the beginning of his strength; yet those elder sons he neglected, to prefer the younger; they were the prime and golden pieces of creation, not laden with gross matter, yet they lie under the ruins of their fall, while man, lead in comparison of them, is refined for another world. 

They seemed to be fitter objects of Divine goodness, in regard of the eminency of their nature above the human; one angel excelled in endowments of mind and spirit, vastness of understanding, greatness of power, all the sons of men; they were more capable to
praise him, more capable to serve him; and because of the acuteness of their comprehension, more able to have a due estimate of such a redemption, had it been afforded them; yet that goodness which had created them so comely, would not lay itself out in restoring the beauty they had defaced. 

The promise was of bruising the serpent’s head for us, not of lifting up the serpent’s head with us; their nature was not assumed, nor any command given them to believe or repent; not one devil spared, not one apostate spirit
recovered, not one of those eminent creatures restored; every one of them hath only a prospect of misery, without any glimpse of recovery; they were ruined under one sin, and we repaired under many. 

All His redeeming goodness was laid out upon man (Psalm 144:3); “What is man that thou takest knowledge of him; and the Son of man, that thou makest account of him?” Making account of him above angels; as they
fell without any tempting them, so God would leave them to rise, without any assisting them. I know the schools trouble themselves to find out the reasons of this peculiarity of grace to man, and not to them; because the whole human nature fell, but only a part of the angelical; the one sinned by a seduction, and
the other by a sullenness, without any tempter; every angel sinned by his own proper will, whereas Adam’s posterity sinned by the will of the first man, the common root of all. 

God would deprive the devil of any glory in the satisfaction of his envious desire to hinder man from attainment and possession of that
happiness which himself had lost. The weakness of man below the angelical nature might excite the Divine mercy; and since all the things of the lower world were created for man, God would not lose the honor of his works, by losing the immediate end for which he framed them. 

And finally, because in the restoration of angels, there would have been only a restoration of one nature, that was not comprehensive of the nature of inferior things; but after all such conjectures, man must sit down, and acknowledge Divine goodness to be the only spring, without any other motive. Since Infinite Wisdom could have contrived a way for redemption for fallen angels, as well as for fallen man, and restored both the one and the other; why might not Christ have assumed their nature as well as ours, into the unity of the Divine person, and suffered the wrath of God in their nature for them, as well as in his human soul for us? 

It is as conceivable that two natures might have been assumed by the Son of God, as well as three souls be in man distinct, as some think there are.

1. Stephen Charnock. The Existence and Attributes of God. Baker Books 2000.  Originally Charnock had written his work in the mid-17th century.  The piece quoted above for today's post, as well as tomorrow's post, comes from Volume 2, pages 262-265

2. The electronic version of Charnock's work is quoted in today's post and the address is:

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