Bavinck’s Theological Description of Death

Death is not natural but arises from the violation of the divine commandment (Gen. 2:17); from the devil insofar as he by his seduction caused humanity to fall and die (John 8:44); from sin itself inasmuch as it has a disintegrating impact on the whole of human life and, as it were, produces death from within itself (James 1:15); and from the judgment of God since he pays the wages of sin in the currency of death (Rom. 6:23). And in Scripture this death is never identical with annihilation, with nonbeing, but always consists in the destruction of harmony, in being cut off from the various life settings in which a creature has been placed in keeping with one’s nature, in returning to the elementary chaotic existence…. 

Accordingly, in its essence and entire scope, death is disturbance, the breakup of all these relations in which humans stood originally and still ought to stand now. Death’s cause, therefore, is and can be none other than the sin that disturbs the right relation to God and breaks up life-embracing fellowship with God. In this sense sin not only results in death but also coincides with it; sin is death, death in a spiritual sense. Those who sin, by that token and at the same moment, put themselves in an adversarial relationship toward God, are dead to God and the things of God, have no pleasure in the knowledge of his ways, and in hostility and hatred turn away from him. And since this relation to God, this being created in his image and likeness, is not something extraneous and additional, a donum superadditum, but belongs to the essence of being human and bears a central character, the disturbance of this relationship will inevitably have a devastating impact on all the other relationships in which human beings stand—to themselves, to their fellow humans, to nature, to the angels, to the whole creation. Actually, in terms of its nature, at the very moment it was committed, sin should have resulted in a full, across-the-board death (Gen. 2:17), a return of the entire cosmos to its primeval chaotic condition.

But God intervened: he broke the power of sin and death. … He intervened first with his common grace to curb the power of sin and death, then with his special grace to break down and conquer that power. Not only is physical death postponed, and not only did God by various measures make human existence and development possible; but also Christ by his cross fundamentally achieved a victory over sin and death and brought life and immortality to light (Rom. 5:12ff.; 1 Cor. 15:45; 2 Tim. 1:10; Heb. 2:14; Rev. 1:18; 20:14), so that everyone who believes in him has eternal life and will never die (John 3:36; 5:24; 8:51–52; 11:25). Now it is this life and this immortality that in Holy Scripture stands in the foreground.

Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, vol. 4, pp. 614-15.

Doctrine Class — Milwaukee Rescue Mission

On Wednesday mornings I volunteer at the Milwaukee Rescue Mission and teach a basic doctrine class in their New Journey rehabilitation program, as well as preach chapel. Attached is a zip file to the full slides and handouts I use for the class, as well as other resources. There are 24 lessons total (originally composed spring of 2018).

MRM Doctrine Class (zip file)

Course Overview

Doctrine of Revelation & Scripture
  • Revelation (1)
  • Scripture (2)
Doctrine of God
  • God’s Attributes & Works (3)
  • The Trinity (4)
Doctrines of Humanity & Sin
  • Humanity & Sin (5)
  • The Effects & Consequences of Sin (6)
Doctrine of Christ
  • The Person of Christ (7)
  • The Work of Christ (8-9)
Doctrine of Salvation
  • Grace (10)
  • Election & Predestination (11)
  • Calling & Regeneration (12)
  • Conversion: Faith & Repentance (13)
  • Justification (14)
  • Sanctification & Good Works (15)
  • Perseverance & Eternal Security (16)
  • Resurrection & Glorification (17)
  • Union with Christ (18)
Doctrine of the Holy Spirit (19)
Doctrine of the Church
  • Nature, Origin, & Mission (20)
  • Organization: Members & Officers (21)
  • Life & Ministry (22)
  • Ordinances: Baptism & Lord’s Supper (23)
Doctrine of the End (24)

Bondage of the Will by Martin Luther

The following comes from a paper presented for Dr. Scott Manetsch at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School for the course Classic Texts in the History of Christianity CH 8100.

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In The Bondage of the Will Martin Luther sets out to investigate what ability human freedom possesses and how it relates to God’s grace (II.iii.). For Luther, this theological dispute over human freedom is of utmost importance. He claims it is the fundamental disagreement between himself and the Catholic tradition (II.iii.; VIII.). Because this topic strikes at the heart of soteriology, truths of “eternal consequence” are at stake ( To know nothing of these matters is to know nothing of Christianity (II.iii.); the entirety of the Christian faith and the gospel would be ruined by such ignorance (II.v.).

Responding to Desiderius Erasmus’ Discourse on Free Will, Luther asserts that man has no “free-will.” Contrary to Erasmus (IV.i.), men are not autonomous in regards to meriting or even willing salvation (II.x.), but are enslaved, “ever turned in the direction of their own desires, so that they cannot but seek their own” (V.iv.). God’s will is carried out necessarily; no room is left for man’s so called “free-will” (V.vii.).

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“Grace Amazing” by Jimmy Needham (ft. Trip Lee)

Jimmy Needham, in his song, “Grace Amazing” (from his album, Nightlights) truly does present grace as it ought to be presented, amazing. And how does he do this? The same way any good Soteriology (doctrine of salvation) does–by starting with a good Hamartiology (doctrine of sin), namely, our total inability or total depravity. As Needham says, “That’s how it is with us all. We weren’t just damaged we fell dead at the fall.” And in doing so he recognizes that salvation is dependent on God’s sovereign grace. “Unless You breathe life into me I won’t ever feel my dead heart beating. But you open these blind eyes to see.” And the fact that God has made believers alive, who once were dead and could not give life to themselves, is what makes grace amazing. The Blind don’t give themselves sight; God does. In short, grace is amazing because the recipients of grace had no part in it. “That’s what makes Your grace amazing.”

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