Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Christ the scope of Scripture

The Puritan Isaac Ambrose (1604-1664). said: "Let a man have what the
world can give, yet if he have not Christ, he is nothing worth. Christ
is the marrow and fatness, the fulness and sweetness of all our
endowments, separate Christ from them and they are bitter and do not
please us, empty and do not fill us." "Surely Christ is enough to
fill all our thoughts, desires, hopes, loves, joys or whatever is
within us or without us. Christ alone comprehends all the
circumference of all our happiness. Christ is the pearl hid in the
large field of God's word Christ is the scope of all the scripture:
all things and persons in the old world were types of him; all the
prophets foretold him, all God's love runs through him, all the gifts
and graces of the Spirit flow from him, the whole eye of God is upon
him, and all his designs both in heaven and earth meet in him; the
great design of God is this, That " he might gather together in one
all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on
earth, even in him," Eph. 1:10".

He has another more well-known quotation about Scripture in this
regard: "Keep still Jesus Christ in your eye, in the perusal of the
Scriptures, as the end, scope and substance thereof: what are the
whole Scriptures, but as it were the spiritual swaddling clothes of
the holy child Jesus? 1. Christ is the truth and substance of all the
types and shadows. 2. Christ is the substance and matter of the
Covenant of Grace, and all administrations thereof; under the Old
Testament Christ is veiled, under the New Covenant revealed. 3. Christ
is the centre and meeting place of all the promises; for in him the
promises of God are yea and Amen. 4. Christ is the thing signified,
sealed and exhibited in the Sacraments of the Old and New Testament.
5. Scripture genealogies use to lead us on to the true line of Christ.
6. Scripture chronologies are to discover to us the times and seasons
of Christ. 7. Scripture-laws are our schoolmasters to bring us to
Christ, the moral by correcting, the ceremonial by directing. 8.
Scripture-gospel is Christ's light, whereby we hear and follow him;
Christ's cords of love, whereby we are drawn into sweet union and
communion with him; yea it is the very power of God unto salvation
unto all them that believe in Christ Jesus; and therefore think of
Christ as the very substance, marrow, soul and scope of the whole

John Owen had a similar view, reflecting on Luke 24:27, "It is
therefore manifest that Moses, and the Prophets, and all the
Scripture, do give testimony unto him and his glory. This is the line
of life and light which runs through the whole Old Testament".

Richard Muller notes that it was common in Reformed writers to see
Christ as the "scope" of Scripture "…the theologies of the Reformers
and of their orthodox successors consistently place Christ at the
center of their discussions of redemption, consistently understand
Christ as the center and fulfillment of divine revelation, and equally
consistently understand the causality of salvation as grounded in the
divine purpose".

Muller comments on the definition of the term: "It is particularly
important that the contemporary English meaning of 'scope,' the full
extent, range, or intention of a thing, be excluded. The original
Greek (skopos) and Latin (scopus) indicates the center or bull's eye
of a target. Indeed, in the First Helvetic Confession, scopus
translates der Zweck of the German original. The term is rightly
understood, therefore, not as the aim, purpose, goal, and center,
indeed, the 'bull's eye' of the biblical target. The Latin title of
the section is simply 'scopus Scripturae,' but the German reads at
greater length and with a clearer definition of the issue, 'What the
center (Zweck) of Holy Scripture is, and toward what the Scripture
ultimately points.' The 'entire Bible' (die ganze biblische Schrift)
teaches 'that God is gracious and benevolent' and that he has bestowed
his grace upon mankind in the person of Christ, his Son, by means of
faith. Much as in Luther's statement concerning the canon and in the
Schmalkald Articles, the center of Scripture is not merely Christ
doctrinally understood, but Christ apprehended by faith as the focus
of God's work of reconciliation. The larger sense of scopus as the
divine work of reconciliation throughout Scripture is echoed in
Bullinger's use of the term to indicate the covenant - a usage that
will appear in the writings of some of the Protestant scholastic

Ambrose applies this:

All things are summed up in this one Jesus Christ: if we look on the
creation, the whole world was made by Christ, if we look on
providences, all things subsist in Christ, they have their being, and
their well-being in him. Where may we find God but in Christ? Where
may we see God but in this essential and eternal glass? Christ is "the
face of God," 2 Cor. 4:6. " The brightness of his glory, the express
image pf his Father's person," Heb. 1:3. The Father is (as it were)
all sun, and all pearl; and Jesus Christ is the substantial rays, the
eternal and essential irradiation of the sun of glory: Christ outs God
as the seal doth the stamp: Christ reveals God, as the face of a man
doth reveal the man, so Christ to Philip," He that hath seen me, hath
seen the Father," John 14:9. q. d. I am as like the Father as God is
like himself: there is a perfect indivisible unity between the Father
and me, " I and the Father are one;" one very God, he the begetter,
and I the begotten: Christ is the substantial rose that grew out of
the Father from eternity: Christ is the essential wisdom of God;
Christ is the substantial word of God, the intellectual birth of the
Lord's infinite understanding: oh the worth of Christ! compare we
other things with Christ, and they will bear no weight at all; cast
into the balance with him, angels, they are wise, but he is wisdom;
cast into the balance with him men, they are liars, lighter than
vanity, but Christ is " the Amen, the faithful witness;" cast into the
scales kings, and all kings, and all their glory, why he is King of
kings; cast into the scale millions of talents' weight of glory; cant
in two worlds, and add to the weight millions of heavens of heavens,
and the balance cannot down, the scales are unequal, Christ outweighs
all. Shall I yet come nearer home? What is heaven but to be with
Christ? What is life eternal but to believe in God, and in hia Son
Jesus Christ? Where may we find peace with God, and reconciliation
with God, but only in Christ? "God was in Christ reconciling the world
unto himself," 2 Cor. 5:19. Where may we find compassion, mercy, and
gentleness to sinners, but only in Christ? It is Christ that takes otf
infinite wrath, and satisfies justice, and so God is a most lovely,
compassionate, desirable God in Jesus: alt the goodness of God comes
out of God through this golden pipe the Lord Jesus Christ. It is true
those essential attributes of love, grace, mercy and goodness, are
only in God, and they abide in God, yet the mediatory manifestation of
love, grace, mercy and goodness, is only in Christ; Christ alone is
treasury, store-house, and magazine of the free goodness and mercy of
the Godhead. In him we are elected, adopted, redeemed, justified,
sanctified and saved; he is the ladder, and every step of it betwixt
heaven and earth; he is the way, the truth and the life, he is honor,
riches, beauty, health, peace and salvation; he is a suitable and rich
portion to every man's soul: that which some of the Jews observe of
the manna, that it was in taste according to every man's palate, it is
really true of Christ, he is to the soul, whaisoevor the soul would
have him to hp. All the spiritual blessings wherewith we are enriched,
are in and v Christ: God hears otir prayers by Christ: God forgives us
our iniquities through Christ; all we have, and all we expect to have,
hangs only on Chtist: he is the golden hinge, upon which all our
salvation turns.

Oh! how should all hearts be taken with this Christ? Christiana! turn
your eyes upon the Lord: " Look, and look again unto Jesus," Why stand
ye gazing on the toys of this world, when such aChrist is offered to
you in the gospel? Can the world die for you? Can the world reconcile
you to the Father? Can the world advance you to the kingdom of heaven?
As Christ is all in all, so let him be the full and complete subject
of our desire, and hope, and faith, and love, and joy; let him be in
your thoughts the first in the morning, and the last at night. Shall I
speak one word more to thee that believest? Oh! apply in particular
all the transactions of Jesus Christ to thy very self; remember how he
came out of his Father's bosom for thee, wept for thee, bled for thee,
poured out his life for thee, is now risen for thee, gone to heaven
for thee, sits at God's right hand, and rules all the world for thee:
makes intercession for thee, and at the end of the world will come
again for thee, and receive thee to himself, to live with him for ever
and ever. Surely if thus thou believest and livest, thy life is
comfortable, and thy death will be sweet. If there be any heaven upon
earth, thou wilt find it in the practice and exorcise of this gospel
duty, in "Looking unto Jesus."