Insight into Substantive Preaching (2)

Mark Minnick

In Part One of this series, Dr. Minnick introduces a substantive sermon by Benjamin Keach. We also gave you just a taste of the first couple of paragraphs of the sermon. In today’s post, we offer the full introduction to the sermon and the first major point.

Gospel Salvation Is a Great and Glorious Salvation

How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation? (Heb. 2:3)

I am about the proof and demonstration of the first point of doctrine raised in our text. That Gospel-salvation is a great and glorious salvation. I have spoken of this already under five considerations. Now sixthly.

It is so if we consider the glory and greatness of the persons who sat in counsel about bringing it in and working it out for sinful man. We commonly judge of the greatness of an undertaking and the glory of the work by considering the dignity, glory, wisdom, power and greatness of the persons concerned in it.

Now if this work, I mean the salvation of sinful man, had been put into the hands of the mighty angels, and they had called a council about it, and showed their utmost skill, wisdom, and power in order to the actual accomplishment thereof, would not all say, “this must needs be some great and wonderful work, or a great salvation”?

But alas, they could neither have found out a way of salvation for us, much less have wrought it out. Could they any way have thought how the glory of every attribute of God might have been raised, and have shone forth in equal luster? Could they have secured the glory of God’s justice and holiness, and made up the wrong we had done to God by our sin, and so have opened a way for mercy and goodness to run down like a mighty stream, and secured the sanction of the law, and yet have delivered man from the curse thereof?

God must not, will not, lose the glory of any one of His attributes, let what will become of a rebellious sinner. Alas, angels could never have found out a way whereby the attributes of mercy and justice might meet together, and righteousness and truth kiss each other.

The persons then who found and wrought out this salvation were not the holy angels of God. No, no. None but God Himself could do it. The salvation of Israel is of the Lord (Ps. 25:5). He is our Saviour. How often is this expressed in the Psalms and in other places of the Holy Scripture. Salvation is ascribed to the Lord. To Him only. Yea to his own arm, to the greatness of his power. Therefore my own arm brought salvation (Is. 63:5).

Brethren, each person of the Trinity hath a part in it. The Father hath His part. The Son hath His part. And the Holy Ghost hath His part also.

The Father’s Part in this Great and Glorious Salvation

1. The Father is held forth in the Scripture as the Contriver or first Author of this salvation. All things are of God, Who hath reconciled us unto Himself by Jesus Christ (II Cor. 5:18). All things in and about our salvation are of God the Father, as He is the fountain and spring of it. He hath devised means, that His banished might not forever be expelled from Him. I have found a ransom. “Where did God find it?” saith Reverend Caryl [Joseph Caryl, London Puritan pastor]. “Certainly in His own bosom. In His own heart. Jesus Christ came out of the bosom of the Father. There He was, and God found Him in and with Himself. He did not find the ransom by chance, but He found it in His own wisdom, love, and goodness.”

2. The Father was injured. His glory seemed to be eclipsed by sin. This must be righted and His honour repaired, so He found out the proper way to do it. “I know how to do the poor sinner good. I know how to save him and do my own honour, my justice, truth and holiness no wrong. My honour is secured. My justice is satisfied. And yet the sinner whom my heart is set upon shall be saved.”

3. The Father only could appoint the terms and way of our salvation. Who but God could tell or did know what would comport with His truth and justice, and with the sanction of His righteous law and infinite holiness? And He saw it did not comport with His truth, justice, holiness, and blessed law to save man merely as an act of sovereign mercy, but it did agree in His infinite wisdom to transfer the punishment of the sinner to another, namely, to His own Son, He taking our nature on Him. From the union of the two natures in one person, He procured an infinite satisfaction, or made a plenary compensation for our sins.

4. God the Father is therefore held forth as the Person who substituted His own Son as mediator and surety in our stead and room, to work out our redemption, or this great and glorious salvation, and to this end prepared Him a body—A body hast thou prepared me (Heb. 10:5). And the Father is said also to send His Son. How many times doth our blessed Saviour ascribe this unto the Father in the Gospel recorded by John? I am persuaded not less than forty times: The Father that sent me is with me. God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world. This is the will of Him that sent me.

5. All the blessings of our salvation are ascribed to the free bounty, mercy, love and goodness of God the Father. Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He hath visited and redeemed His people, and hath raised up an horn of salvation. And therefore He is styled, The Father of mercies and God of all comfort (II Cor. 1:3).

6. Brethren, it was the Father that loved us and chose us in Jesus Christ before the foundation of the world. This is the spring of all spiritual blessings, even of redemption and salvation itself.

7. Moreover, the Father is said to raise Jesus Christ from the dead. Though the Son being God could raise Himself, yet as Mediator, the power to quicken whomsoever He will, is said to be given to Him by the Father. Besides, it is the mere grace and good pleasure of God the Father, to accept of Christ and His obedience for us, and to accept of us in Jesus Christ. Also it is the Father that blesseth us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Eph. 1:3). Nay, no man, Christ says, can come unto Him, unless it be given by the Father. That is, power must be given him to come. And again He saith, No man can come unto me, except my Father that sent me draw him. We ought therefore to see we do not lessen the glory of God the Father in our salvation, who is the efficient, the original and moving Cause thereof. My Father, saith Christ, hitherto worketh, and I work (John 5:17).

Brethren, we are not to attribute only the works of Creation and Providence to God the Father. He hath a great and glorious hand in the work of Redemption. To accomplish this work, even the salvation of His elect, He worketh hitherto, and Christ also worketh. Which brings me to consider the next Person in the Trinity concerned herein.

To be continued…

Dr. Mark Minnick is the pastor of Mount Calvary Baptist Church in Greenville, South Carolina, and serves as adjunct professor of preaching and exposition at Bob Jones Seminary.

(Originally published in FrontLine • January / February 2004. Click here to subscribe to the magazine.)