July 11, 2014 Broadcast

Ask R.C. Live, Part 1

A Message by R.C. Sproul

Answering theological questions from his students has been a continual commitment throughout Dr. R.C. Sproul’s long career in ministry. Originally called “gabfests” by his students, and later titled, Ask R.C., these sessions continue to take place at Ligonier conferences, on Renewing Your Mind, and online. In this program, you’ll hear a portion of the Ask R.C. Live event from January, 2014.

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Further Study On This Topic

  1. question and answer

    We've been taught that prayer changes things. In view of God's sovereignty, what is the role of prayer in a Christian's life?

  2. devotional

    Sabbath Rest for God

  3. article

    A Sinless Life

We've been taught that prayer changes things. In view of God's sovereignty, what is the role of prayer in a Christian's life?

First of all, we need to establish that it is the sovereign God who not only invites us but commands us to pray. Prayer is a duty, and as we perform that duty, one thing for sure is going to be changed, and that is us. To live a life of prayer is to live a life of obedience to God.

Also, we must understand that there is more to prayer than intercession and supplication. When the disciples said to Jesus, “Lord, teach us to pray,” they saw a connection between the power of Jesus and the impact of his ministry and the time he spent in prayer. Obviously, the Son of God felt that prayer was a very valuable enterprise because he gave himself to it so deeply and passionately. But I was surprised that he answered the question by saying, “Here’s how you ought to pray,” and gave them the Lord’s Prayer. I would have expected Jesus to answer that question a different way: “You want to know how to pray? Read the Psalms,” because there you see inspired prayer. The Spirit himself, who helps us to pray, inspired the prayers that are recorded in the Psalms. When I read the Psalms, I read intercession and I read supplication, but overwhelmingly what I read is a preoccupation with adoration, with thanksgiving, and with confession. Take those elements of prayer, and what happens to a person who learns how to adore God? That person is changed. What happens to a person who learns how to express his gratitude to God? That person will now become more and more aware of the hand of Providence in his life and will grow in his sense of gratitude toward God. What happens to the person who spends time confessing his sins? He keeps in front of his mind the holiness of God and the necessity of keeping short accounts with God.

But can our requests change God’s sovereign plan? Of course not. When God sovereignly declares that he is going to do something, all of the prayers in the world aren’t going to change God’s mind. But God not only ordains ends, he also ordains means to those ends, and part of the process he uses to bring his sovereign will to pass are the prayers of his people. And so we are to pray.

Sabbath Rest for God

In chapter 4, the author of Hebrews develops the idea of God’s rest. God began His rest when He ceased from His creative activity and continues His rest today. By faith alone, a person can enter God’s rest and enjoy it for all eternity.

Hebrews 4:4 quotes from Genesis 2:2, which tells us that after God created the universe, He rested on the seventh day from the work that He had done. It is notable that unlike all the other days of creation in Genesis 1, the seventh day does not have a morning and an evening. God’s rest on the seventh day is an eternal period; it has no end.

At this point we will consider what it means to say that God began to rest on the seventh day. Certainly it does not mean that God was tired and needed to relax after six days of hard work. God is not a human being and does not grow weary physically (Isa. 40:28). When God began resting, He did not cease from all activity. God still providentially upholds the universe because otherwise it would cease to exist (Neh. 9:6).

When Genesis 2:2 tells us that God rested, it is simply telling us that God ceased only His foundational activity of creation. This is clear from the fact that God continues to work after creation to preserve and redeem His people. When God rests it means that He no longer is laying the foundation for the universe. This was done once at the beginning of time and does not need to be done again.

In His rest, God is glorified by His handiwork. At the start of His Sabbath, He pronounced all that He created as “very good” (Gen. 1:31), reflecting God’s enjoyment of His handiwork. Even though sin is present, He still enjoys His work today because His people are very good on account of the imputed righteousness of Christ. God also sees all of time and knows that His work will produce a very good universe in the end. God also enjoys Himself in His rest because He delights in His glory and works to make it manifest. He does what He pleases and His glory pleases Him most of all (Ps. 115:3; Isa. 49:3).

In the garden Adam also enjoyed God and God’s work. He walked with the Lord (Gen. 3:8) and delighted in the woman who God made for him (Gen. 2:22–23). In Eden, Adam enjoyed God’s Sabbath, but the fall into sin brought the rest to an end. But God took pity on us and accomplished redemption in order to bring us back into His rest.

A Sinless Life

Nicholas Batzig

"And being found in human form, He humbled Hi mself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death of the cross" (Phil. 2:8). I have long wished that, in heaven, I might get to see the entire history of Christ's earthly life, from Hi s birth to Hi s ascension—viewing each and every act of obedience. The reason is simple. Jesus lived a representative life. Jesus lived a sinless life, and it was, therefore, a life of representative sinlessness. Our Lord's obedience stands in the place of His people's sin. His law-keeping is counted as the law-keeping of those who have faith in Him.

Christ's sinless life is set against the background of the scriptural testimony to the sinfulness of man. Job declared that man is "abominable and corrupt," one who "drinks injustice like water" (Job 15:16). Solomon acknowledged, "there is no one who does not sin" (1 Kings 8:46). The apostle John warned, "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves" and "make Him a liar" (1 John 1:8, 10). The apostle Paul summed it all up when he said, "none is righteous, no, not one" (Rom. 3:10). Yet, when the Son of God took to Himself a human nature, a sinless man entered into time and space.

In a life that spanned three decades, our Lord never entertained a thought, never uttered a word, and never carried out an action that was defiled by impure motives. He always honored His Father in heaven, always honored His earthly father and mother, never lusted, never uttered a word in sinful anger, never gossiped about or slandered His neighbor. He never stole, never lied, and never coveted. In short, He submitted to every commandment of the law of God without wavering. He loved the Lord with all His heart, soul, mind and strength, and He loved His neighbor as Himself. The Scriptures bear manifold witness to this truth, and it is one of the most profitable truths upon which we ought to meditate.

The Bible expressly declares that Jesus was sinless. The writer of Hebrews tells us that He was "holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners" (Heb. 7:26, NASB). The apostle Paul boldly asserts that He "knew no sin" (2 Cor. 5:21). At the announcement of His birth, an angel called Him "that Holy One who is to be born." Pilate's wife told her husband: "Have nothing to do with that just man." Pilate himself said, "I find no fault in Him." The dying thief acknowledged the innocence of Jesus when he said, "this Man had done nothing wrong." The centurion, at the foot of the cross, said, "Certainly this was a righteous man" (Luke 23:47). Even the demons recognized that Jesus was "the Holy One of God" (4:34).

If external testimony was not enough, Christ bore witness to His sinlessness when He said, "the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood" (John 7:18). Add to this the fact that He had said almost a thousand years earlier (through the psalmist): "Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God, and Your law is within my heart." Jesus' life was a life of perfect conformity to the will of God.

In regard to the commands that God gave to the covenant people, we find that Christ began to fulfill them when He was circumcised on the eighth day. He was the only one who did not need what circumcision signified. At the beginning of His public ministry, He underwent a baptism "of repentance," though He needed no repentance. When John tried to stop Him from being baptized, He said, "permit it to be so now, for thus is it fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness" (Matt. 3:15). Jesus was obeying as the representative of His people.

Christ's obedience, however, can sometimes mistakenly be reduced to His obedience only to the moral law. While it is certainly true that He obeyed all those commands that are binding on all men for all time, He also fulfilled the ceremonial laws given to the Jews. There is, however, another dimension of the obedience of Christ. Jonathan Edwards observed that Jesus obeyed the mediatorial commands that the Father specifically gave to Him—commands that were more difficult than any given to us. Besides those moral and ceremonial laws, Jesus was commanded to "lay down His life willingly, and take it again." "This command," He said, "I have received from My Father" (John 10:17).

Our redemption rests upon Christ's sinless life and substitutionary death. When we see the corruption of our minds, hearts, and wills, we must look at the One who knew no sin and yet was made sin for us. When we long to know Christ in a deeper and more intimate way, it is good for us to meditate on Scripture's teaching concerning His representative perfection. Are you laboring under the weight of your sin before the presence of God? We must remember the One who was obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

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