June 2012 • Volume XIV, Issue 2
The Book of Job and the Nature of Man (1)
Like the rest of the Bible, the book of Job teaches that
man is a unified being with two "aspects" or "parts:"
body and soul or spirit (Matt. 10:28; Luke 16:22-23;
23:43, 46, 52). Thus Elihu speaks of God’s gathering
man’s "spirit" and man’s body turning again to "dust"
after death: "If he [i.e., Jehovah] set his heart upon
man, if he gather unto himself his spirit and his
breath; all flesh shall perish together, and man shall
turn again unto dust" (Job 34:14-15).
Like Ecclesiastes 12:7 ("Then shall the dust return to
the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto
God who gave it"), Job 34:14-15 refers to the
dissolution of man into his two constitutive "parts,"
according to his original creation in Genesis 2:7: "And
the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and
breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man
became a living soul."
The statement that God "breathed into his nostrils the
breath of life" is echoed in Job 34:14 ("if he [i.e.,
God] gather unto himself his spirit and his breath") and
especially in Elihu’s confession, "The Spirit of God
hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given
me life" (33:4; cf. 12:10), and Job’s reference to his
breath and nostrils: "All the while my breath is in me,
and the spirit of God is in my nostrils" (27:3).
Turning to man’s material dimension, Elihu affirms, "I
also [like Job and all men] am formed out of the clay"
(33:6). Being created out of the earth, Job knows that
he will return whence he was formed: "Remember, I
beseech thee, that thou hast made me as the clay; and
wilt thou bring me into dust again?" (10:9). Similarly,
he speaks of those who "dwell in houses of clay, whose
foundation is in the dust, which are crushed before the
moth" (4:19). As Elihu puts it, "man shall turn again
unto dust" (34:15).
This teaching on man’s physical constitution in the book
of Job is in perfect accord with the opening chapters of
the Bible, for "the Lord God formed man of the dust of
the ground" (Gen. 2:7) and Jehovah said to Adam after
the fall, "dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou
return" (3:19). So basic to Job is the scriptural view
that man, as to his material dimension, was created out
of dust, dwells in a body of clay and will return to
ashes, that that ancient, patient saint even refers to
the maxims and arguments of his three "friends" as weak
as the earthly nature of man: "ashes" and "clay" (Job
Look at Job, formed out of dust, sitting among the
ashes, scraping himself with a potsherd made out of clay
(2:7-8)! His breath is failing (17:1), painful (7:19;
9:18) and noxious, so that even his wife shrinks from
him (19:17)! No wonder the book of Job speaks so often
and movingly of man’s nature, echoing Genesis 2:7!
Invitation or Command?
"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden,
and I will give you rest," Christ declares in Matthew
11:28. "In this text," asks a reader, "is Jesus inviting
us or commanding us to come to Him?"
The text in question is often (though wrongly) cited by
the defenders of a gracious and well-meant gospel offer
to everybody. Jesus’ words are interpreted to mean that
Christ is inviting all men to come to Him. The text,
then, is not a command, but an invitation. It is an
invitation in which Christ graciously expresses His
desire that all men head for head will come to Him to
receive salvation. That interpretation teaches that,
because the text is an invitation, the coming to Christ
is the work of man who chooses to come. An invitation
can be accepted or rejected, after all.
The gracious and well-meant gospel offer is contrary to
Scripture. Jesus is most emphatically not inviting all
men to come to Him. He has just prayed to His Father, "I
thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because
thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent,
and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father: for
so it seemed good in thy sight" (25-26). Is it even
remotely possible that Jesus would thank God for hiding
the truth from some and revealing it to others and then
turn around and beg every man to come to Him? A man is
not thinking straight if he talks that kind of language.
Moreover, after concluding this prayer to His Father,
Jesus goes on to say, "All things are delivered unto me
of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the
Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the
Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will [i.e., desires
to] reveal him" (27).
Jesus makes it abundantly clear that while it is God’s
will to hide spiritual truths from the wise and reveal
these same truths unto babes, He, who alone knows the
Father, is commissioned to accomplish His Father’s will.
Those who teach a gracious and well-meant offer want us
to believe that Christ, who carries out the will of His
Father in hiding and revealing, now suddenly turns
around and tells everyone to whom He preaches that both
He and God earnestly desire that everyone head for head
It is preposterous! Nor will it help to scurry away from
the text and hide behind the bush of "apparent
contradiction." That is a coward’s escape.
No wonder Jesus tells the multitude in Capernaum, "All
that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that
cometh to me I will in no wise cast out" (John 6:37).
Christ assures His disciples and all who hear Him that
all the elect, given Him by the Father, will and do, in
fact, come to Him. Therefore, not only is it certain
that all the elect will come to Him, but it is also
certain that only the elect will come to Him; no one
else. Is it not, therefore, preposterous to say that
Jesus, in spite of this fact, still pleads with everyone
to come to Him? It will not work to take refuge in the
crumbling tower of "apparent contradiction."
Nor does Scripture leave room for man’s free will,
something the defenders of the well-meant offer
cunningly do. Christ says, "No man can come to me,
except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I
will raise him up at the last day" (John 6:44).
There is no safety from the clear words of Scripture in
the lame excuse of "apparent contradiction." Nor does
the arrow, shot from a broken bow, hit anything by
calling those who deny this "apparent contradiction" and
the gracious well-meant offer "rationalists."
Name-calling can never successfully defend the lie.
Matthew 11:28 is a beautiful text. Briefly, its beauty
lies in the fact that Jesus is not calling all men, but
only His beloved people. Those who "labour and are heavy
laden" are, in the first instance, those, still in the
old dispensation, who heard the demands of the law and
knew in their hearts they could not keep that law. The
law had become to them a burden too great to bear and it
confronted them with an obligation that they knew they
could never accomplish.
Jesus words are beautiful: "In the law there is no peace
and the burden to keep it is too great to carry. Come to
Me; My yoke is easy and My burden light." It is the call
to every sin-crushed sinner, whether Jew or Gentile,
whether in the first or twenty-first century, who has
tried to save himself, but finds God’s demand forever
Those who know this are those who are given to Christ by
God, that is, the elect. The Spirit of Christ has begun
His work, for the only way to Christ is the way of
sorrow for sin, shame that fills the soul of the child
of God with horror, and a deep longing to escape the
consequences of not doing what he knows he must do, but
Is this an invitation of Christ? Well, only if you
understand that an invitation from the King of kings
comes as a command. An invitation to a birthday party of
a friend you may accept or reject. An invitation from
the Lord of heaven and earth is a command that you had
better obey—or lose your life!
It is, therefore, a command, without doubt. But it is
couched in a way that, in the Lord’s command to come to
Him with the burden of sin, He speaks tenderly and with
infinite love, for He woos God’s elect to Him by sweet
words. He knows how great the burden of the sin of His
people can be. He knows how, crushed beneath their sin,
they wonder whether God can possibly ever receive them.
He knows that they are so ashamed that to come to Christ
seems a boldness too great for an unworthy sinner.
The words are calculated to give us courage, courage in
Christ’s love for us, a love that is too great for us to
comprehend. The Lord does not say to you and me, "Come
to Me—or else." His voice is not harsh and threatening.
He comes in His love for poor, chastised, frightened
sinners who know their sins make them unworthy even for
Christ to take a quick glance in their direction. "Come
to Me ... I fulfilled the law for you who cannot keep
it. I will give you rest—rest in salvation by grace
alone!" Prof. Hanko
One of the thirteen chapters of Herman Hoeksema’s
Whosoever Will is a moving meditation on
Matthew 11:28. This book is available from the CPRC for
£8.80 (inc. P&P).
Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Name of God (2)
The Jehovah’s Witnesses (JWs) claim that, when Jesus
proclaimed the name of God in Israel (John 17:26), He
taught the JW (and Unitarian) view of the divine name
"Jehovah." Instead, Christ taught them who God is and
what kind of God He is, through His words and deeds, for
He, as the incarnate Son, is the revelation of the
Triune God (1:14; 14:9). To know God’s name is not
merely to know the letters which make up the word
"Jehovah," but to know God Himself, His attributes,
wonders, works and promises in Christ, and to fellowship
with Him in His Son (John 17:3; I John 1:3; 5:20).
Nowhere in the gospels do we read of Jesus calling God
"Jehovah." Even in John 17, the greatest of Christ’s
recorded prayers, He addresses God as "Father" (1, 5,
21, 24), "holy Father" (11) and "righteous Father" (25).
In the prayer which He taught His disciples, He has us
address God as "Our Father which art in heaven" (Matt.
6:9). Why not "Jehovah," if that is the preferred, if
not the only acceptable, name of God?
The essence of the name "Jehovah" appears in the NT.
Five times in Revelation, God is addressed as Him "which
is, and which was, and which is to come" (1:4, 8) or
"which was, and is, and is to come" (4:8) or "which art,
and wast, and art to come" (11:17) or "which art, and
wast, and shalt be" (16:5). These allusions to Exodus
3:14 and the name "Jehovah" clearly refer to God’s
unchangeable eternity and faithfulness.
In John 8, Jesus affirms, "Abraham rejoiced to see my
day" (56), to which the unbelieving Jews retort in
scorn, "Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou
seen Abraham?" (57). Christ’s response so shocks the
Jews that they pick up stones to put Him to death on the
spot for blasphemy. Here is the JWs’ New World
Translation (NWT) of what Jesus said: "Before Abraham
came into existence, I have been." The KJV
rightly translates, "Before Abraham was, I am"
(58). Why does the NWT mistranslate the Greek (ego
eimi) as "I have been," instead of "I am"? Because
the JWs refuse to believe that Jesus is Jehovah and they
want to sever the obvious link between John 8:58 and
Exodus 3:14, where ego eimi is used in the
As we have seen, though the NT does not contain the word
"Jehovah," the truth of Jehovah is writ large all over
the NT. It is found even in the name "Jesus," which
means Jehovah-salvation, Jehovah is salvation or Jehovah
Saviour. That is why Peter declares of Jesus that "there
is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby
we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). That, too, is why Paul
can state, in obvious allusion to Isaiah 45:23, that God
has given Christ "a name which is above every name," so
that "every knee should bow ... [and] every tongue
should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory
of God the Father" (Phil. 2:9-11).
The JWs use the word "Jehovah" in their prayers,
worship, Bible perversion and proselytizing, but they do
not truly confess Jehovah, because their "Jehovah" is
not the sovereign, unchanging, faithful, Triune God of
Scripture. The Jehovah’s Witnesses could more accurately
be called the False Witnesses for they are guilty of
taking God’s name in vain. Rev. Martyn McGeown,
Limerick Reformed Fellowship
If you would like to receive the Covenant Reformed News
free by e-mail each month (and/or by post, if you are in the UK), please
contact Rev. Stewart and we will
gladly send it to you.