This week we want to continue through the neglected Puritan Thomas Manton's (1620–1677) "Christ's Temptation and Transfiguration Practically Explained and Improved in Several Sermons” (Works 1, 258–336). Sermon 3 treats Matthew 4:5–6 (click here for sermon 1 and sermon 2).
This is a particularly insightful and practical sermon on the role of Satan and angels both in Christ's temptations as well as our own.
In dealing with Satan's use of Psalm 91:11–12, Manton described "the devil's cunning in citing Scripture" (Works 1, 278). Just as Satan disguises himself as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14) and just as he "took the habit [clothing] and guise of a prophet," in this account he "cometh like a divine [theologian], with a Bible in his hand, and turneth to the place; here the enemy of God cometh with the word of God, and disguiseth the worst of actions with the best of words, opposeth God to God, and turneth his truth to countenance it" (Works 1, 278). Manton applied this with a general principle: "Christians, you have not to do with a foolish devil, who will appear in his own colours and ugly shape but with a devout devil, who, for his own turn, can pretend to be godly" (Works 1, 278). Remember that! Satan is no fool; he is devout.
In the second half of the sermon Manton offered several observations. The first was that although Christ rejected Satan's first temptation Satan continued "like a troublesome fly that is often beaten off" since he "is incessant in his attempts against the saints, and is ready to assault afresh upon every occasion" (Works 1, 280). Because of this you and I must incessantly watch out for him and his temptations.
The third observation is an allegorical one. Since Satan took Christ up to the pinnacle of the temple and tempted him to cast himself down, Manton observed: "If Satan lead us up, it is to throw us down" (Works 1, 282). This observation has spoken most to me as I pray I do not allow my head to be lifted up so high in pride by Satan that I come crashing down to the destruction of myself and everyone around me. May God help us all in this!
Observation six is the longest and deals in two parts with the ministry of angels. Manton speaks of them not as ministers of conversion and sanctification but of preservation (Works 1, 284). He then digresses into the age-old question of whether each believer has a guardian angel. Manton's answer? "It is enough for us to believe that all the angels are our guardians" (Works 1, 285). He went on to say that their ministry was not the care of souls (cura animarum) but the service of outward help (ministerium externi auxilii), in which he further described them as custodians/guardians of the body (custodia corporis; Works 1, 285). Why did the Lord choose to work through angels? For four reasons:
What use is this ministry of the angels towards us in our temptations? This shows us our happy state as God's people, since "no heirs of a crown have such guards as they have" (Works 1, 285). This breeds confidence and comfort in difficulities when all visible help seems at an end (Works 1, 286). This should cause us to live holy lives because they are among us (Works 1, 286).
Congrats to Timothy C. of Sweet Water, PA, and Linda M. of Lytle, TX, winners of our book giveaway for Wayne Spear's, Faith of Our Fathers.
Entry into our newest book giveaway is now open and the deadline is April 22. Thanks to our friends at Latimer Trust, we have two (2) copies of Lee Gatiss', The Tragedy of 1662: The Ejection and Persecution of the Puritans.
The Law was given by Moses [John 1:17] and the righteousness of faith was taught by Moses, as our Saviour testifies [John 5:46]. Why then does the Apostle in the words following add by way of opposition, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ? The sense of the place seems to be this, that the Law prefiguring Christ, and redemption in Him, and teaching and commanding what ought to be done, but neither giving grace to do it, nor containing the substance of the thing prefigured, was given by Moses: but grace to do what was commanded came from Christ, in whom also the substance of what was prefigured by the Ceremonies is fulfilled (p. 119; see also John Calvin’s comments on John 1:17).
— Steven Furtick (@stevenfurtick) March 29, 2016
And away we go.
There are so many things about this that make me want to SCREAM! How could anyone give an "Amen" to this? Beware of analogies from our lives in trying to explain the character of the incomprehensible God! Has this guy ever picked up a basic book of Christan theology and worked through it thoughtfully? But I digress. What is really so bad about this is what it says about the character of God and the cross of Christ.
In reference to the avenging justice of God, does God punish sin because it pleases Him, since He could refrain from doing so if He so desired, or is the punishment of sin a necessary consequence of the righteous character of God, so that He cannot but punish sin, that is, He cannot let sin remain unpunished? (The Christian's Reasonable Service, p. 128)
Let us love, and sing, and wonder,Let us praise the Savior's name!He has hushed the law's loud thunder,He has quenched Mount Sinai's flame.Let us wonder, grace and justiceJoin and point to mercy's store;When we trust in Christ our fortress,Justice smiles, and asks no more.
What are the decrees of God?God's decrees are the wise, free, and holy acts of the counsel of his will, whereby, from all eternity, he hath, for his own glory, unchangeably foreordained whatsoever comes to pass in time, especially concerning angels and men. (Q&A 12)
In 2016, every two months (Feb, Apr, June, Aug, Oct, Dec) we will be producing a Meet the Puritans Resource, which you will be able to find linked under Our Resources. These will be classic texts with introductions, footnotes, and modernized language. The purpose is to introduce you to the treasures of the Reformed tradition.
April's Resource is J.I. Packer's well-known "Introduction" to John Owen's classic work, The Death of Death in the Death of Christ: