The subject of the incarnation, or he who became man, is not the Father, nor the Holy Spirit, but the Son alone. “The Word was made flesh” (John 1:14). “God sent for this Son, made of a woman” (Galatians 4:4). “Jesus Christ is come in the flesh” (I John 4:2). Although the essence and operation of the three persons in the godhead are the same, the flesh was not assumed by the divine essence, but by a certain person. It was at least assumed by the divine essence, only as it is characterized, and, so to speak, restricted, in the person of the Son. Neither the Father, nor the Holy Spirit, indeed, was unconcerned in the incarnation of the Son. The glory of the whole adorable Trinity is displayed in the human nature of Christ (see John 14:7, 9; John 1:18; II Cor. 4:6). But though the Father is in the Son, he is not therefore incarnate with the Son; he is only in his incarnate Son (John 14:10). A body was formed to be the future residence of the Deity, by that will which is common to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. But whilst it was determined by the will of the Father and the Holy Spirit that that body should belong to the Son, the Son, by the same will, determined that it should be his own; and thus by the united consent of all the Three, it could be the body of none but the Son (Hebrews 10:5).
From Witsius’ Sacred Dissertations on The Lord’s Prayer (p. 330 – 31):
The pardon of sin does not only free the sinner from the wrath of God, but restores him to the Divine favor and friendship. As it originated in a love of benevolence, and in the gracious purposes of God; so it places the sinner in such a condition that God regards him with a love of complacency, and bestows upon him the enjoyment of his grace in the most delightful manner. He is then enabled to behold the face of God as an indulgent Father, to hear his gracious voice, and in the sweetest intimacy of Divine fellowship to declare, ‘Thy love is better than wine” (Song 1:2). ‘For I will not,’ saith God, ‘contend for ever, neither will I be always wroth; for the spirit should fail before me and the souls which I have made. I have seen his ways, and will heal him. I will lead him also, and restore comforts unto him and to his mourners’ (Isa. 57:16, 18).
For it is utterly impossible that the decree of God should fail; that the promises of God should come to nought; that the word of salvation should be preached in vain; that the prophecies respecting the perpetuity of Christ’s kingdom should fall to the ground; or that Christ should lose the reward of His labor, and become a Master without disciples, a King without subjects, a Bridegroom without a bride, a Head without a body.
Do you share Witsius’ certainty? And perhaps even more importantly, is your certainty based on factors sociological, historical, or coincidental? Or do you, like Witsius, know the security of the Church of God rests in the infallible work of her Savior and Eternal Beloved?
(Quote: Symbolum XXIV.xxiii)
This gathering is effected by the word of the Gospel; for although God in some respect invites men to himself by the works of nature (Acts 17:27; Rom 2:4), no invitation of that sort is sufficient for constituting the Church; but the word of supernatural revelation must be added (I Cor 1:21)… The preaching of the Law, that the minds of men may be rightly prepared: “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” But the preaching of the Gospel is chiefly made use of: “This only would I learn of you: did you receive the Spirit by works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” The invitation given by the Gospel is termed our Calling: “Them he also called” (Rom 8:30). Hence, too, the frequent designation of “the called,” and the very word Ecclesia, the Church.
Quoted from Sacred Dissertations on the Apostles’ Creed XXIV.vi p. 352
By a DIVINE, I mean one who, imbued with a substantial knowledge of Divine things derived from the teaching of God himself, declares and extols, not in words only, but by the whole course of his life, the wonderful excellencies of God, and thus lives entirely for His glory. Such were in former days the holy patriarchs, such the divinely inspired prophets, such the apostolic teachers of the whole world, such some of those whom we denominate fathers, the widely resplendent luminaries of the primitive Church. The knowledge of these men did not lie in the wire-drawn subtleties of curious questions, but in the devout contemplation of God and his Christ. Their plain and chaste mode of teaching did not soothe itching ears, but impressing upon the mind an exact representation of sacred things, inflamed the soul with their love, while their praiseworthy innocence of behavior, in harmony with their profession, and unimpeached by their enemies, supported their teaching by an evidence that was irresistible, and formed a clear proof of their having familiar intercourse with the most holy God.
Vero Theologo p. 13
Often the path of ministry seems to be filled with insurmountable obstacles. For those engaged in vocational ministry such as pastors and missionaries, there are often discouragements and trials to meet them on their path. It is instructive that when Herman Witsius was met with doubt and anxiety as he was about to embark on a new call to academia at Frankfurt, he recalled his external call:
My only consolation is, that I have not sought after this place by unworthy artifices, nor indeed by any improper efforts, but have, on the contrary, been summoned and drawn hither by the unanimous wish of the prince and nobles, and the concurrent earnest desire of the whole Church, in which things the judicious bid me recognise a distinct call from God.
Drawing from a rich Scriptural vein of callings both internal (I Timothy 3:1) and external (Acts 13:1 – 3) as important for ministry, Witsius reminds those seeking to serve the risen Christ of aids to confirm our calling in the midst of doubtful scenarios. We dare not thrust ourselves into the Lord’s work if He has not confirmed our calling, and to do so deprives ourselves of assurance when our ministries are storm-tossed.
But grace is needed for us all – pastor or regular Christian – when we serve in the strength which God supplies (I Peter 4:10 – 11). (more…)
“From the holiness of God flows a mortal and implacable hatred of sin. It is as much the nature of holiness to ‘hate iniquity, as to love righteousness’ (Ps. 45:8). Sin is ‘an abomination to his soul’ (Prov. 6:16), that is, to his very essence, and essential holiness: and neither sin only, but also the sinner is the object of his hatred. ‘For all that do such things, and all that do unrighteously, are an abomination to the Lord thy God,’ (Deut. 25:16). He therefore separates from himself, and from his chosen people, all whom he cannot make partakers of his favour: and so he cannot but inflict upon them that punishment which is the effect of his hatred. According to Solomon’s reasoning, Prov. 16:5, ‘Every one that is proud in heart, is an abomination to the Lord.’ And the consequence is, He shall not be unpunished. In the same manner David reasons, Ps. 5:4, 5, 6, ‘Thou art not a God that hast pleasure in wickedness.’ Thou hatest sin, and the sinner too, because of it. ‘Thou hatest all the workers of iniquity.’ And surely the fruit of this must be exceeding bitter: ‘Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing.’ And thus from the holiness of God, arises a hatred of sin and the sinner; from hatred, punishment.”
Economy of the Covenant Between God and Man (Escondido, CA: den Dulk Christian Foundation, 1990), vol. 1, p. 96.