This entry is part 2 of 16 in the series: The Fountain of Life (Flavel)
- The excellency of knowing Christ crucified
- Christ’s primeval glory
- Christ’s wonderful person
- Christ’s humiliation in his incarnation
- Christ’s humiliation in his life
- Christ’s prayer for his people
- The Lord’s Supper
- Christ’s illegal trial and condemnation
- The nature of Christ’s death
- ‘Father, forgive them’
- Flavel on Jesus’ cry of dereliction
- “It is finished”
- ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit’
- The resurrection of Christ
- The ascension of Christ
- Christ’s exaltation
Here’s a second instalment from John Flavel’s The Fountain of Life (subtitled, ‘Presenting Christ in his Essential and Mediatorial Glory’). Chapter 2 is based on Proverbs 8:30: ‘Then I was the craftsman at his side. I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence.’ What follows is a summary.
This verse speaks of the eternal delights that Jesus Christ, the wisdom of the Father, had with his Father before his assumption of our nature. This intimacy is also spoken of in Jn 1:18.
‘The state of Jesus Christ before his incarnation was that of the highest and most unspeakable delight and pleasure in the enjoyment of his Father.’
Jn 1:18 ‘…the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father.’
Jn 13:23 shows this to be the language of dearest love.
Isa 42:1 ‘my chosen, in whom my soul delights.’
2 Cor 8:9 ‘…he was rich…’
Phil 2:6 ‘…in the form of God…’
Jn 16:15 ‘All that the Father has is mine.’
Jn 17:5 .the glory which I had with thee before the word was made.’
Consider this negatively
(a) He was not then abased to the condition of a creature, making himself ‘of no reputation,’ Phil 2:7, ‘in the likeness of sinful flesh’, Rom 8:3.
(b) He was not under the law in this state. It was great abasement for the absolute independent Being to come under law, Gal 4:4.
(c) He was not then liable to the sorrowful consequences and attendants of that frail and feeble state of humanity. He was not then ‘a man of sorrows’, Isa 53:3; nor homeless, Mt 8:20; nor ‘despised and rejected’, Isa 53:3; nor a reproach of men, Psa 22:6; nor tempted by the Devil, Mt 4:1; nor in pain, Isa 53:5; nor forsaken by his Father, Mt 27:46; nor under God’s wrath, Mt 26:39. ‘All these things were new to Christ: he was above them all, till, for our sakes, he voluntarily subjected himself unto them.’
Consider this positively
(a) This was a state of matchless happiness. He was with God, Jn 1:1, in whose presence there is fulness of joy, Psa 16:11.
(b) There was oneness of persons. See Jn 10:30. No child so one with its parents; no husband so one with his wife; no friend so one with his friend; no sould so one with its body; as Jesus Christ and his Father were one. ‘Oh, what matchless delights must necessarily flow from such a blessed union!’
(c) It was a pure delight. The best of creature delights are mixed, debased and alloyed. But this was a crystal stream, a pure beam of light, a most holy delight and love.
(d) It was a constant delight. It never suffered a moment’s interruption.
Consider this comparatively
(a) The delight that creatures take in each other is sometimes very great, as Jacob’s delight in Benjamin, Gen 44:30, and David’s in Jonathan, 1 Sam 18:1. But this is creaturely, and finite, and cannot equal the delights between the Father and the Son.
(b) God takes great delight in some creatures. He takes pleasure in his saints, Zeph 3:17; Isa 62:5. But God’s delight in the saints is secondary, and for Christ’s sake. His delight in Christ is for his own sake.
(c) The best creatures take great delight in God and Christ, Psa 73:25. But this is no rule by which we may measure God’s delight in Christ. For our love is, at best, imperfect – inconstant, ebbing and flowing. But this is constant.
1. What an astonishing act, that the Father gave the delight of his soul for poor sinners. Jn 3:16. ‘Surely, never did any child lie so close to a parent’s heart, as Christ to his Father’s; and yet he willingly parts with him, though his only one, the Son of his delights; and that to death, a cursed death, for sinners, for the worst of sinners. O, the admirable love of God to men, matchless love, a love past finding out! Let all men, therefore, in the business of their redemption, give equal glory to the Father and the Son. Jn 5:23. If the Father had not loved thee, he had never parted with such a Son for thee.’
2. Be astonished at the love of Jesus Christ to poor sinners, that ever he should consent to leave such a bosom, for such as us. See Rom 5:6-8, Jn 17:23. ‘What manner of love is this? Who ever loved as Christ loved? Who ever denied himself for Christ, as Christ denied himself for us?’
3. An interest in Christ is the true way to all spiritual preferment in heaven. ‘Do you covet to be in the heart, in the favour and delight of God? Get an interest in Jesus Christ, and you shall presently be there. Christ is the great favourite in heaven: his image upon your souls, and his name in your prayers, make both accepted with God.
If the Father considers Christ worthy of all love, then so should we.
If Christ be the beloved of the Father’s soul, think what a grievous thing it is to the heart of God, to see his dear Son despised. See 1 Cor 16:22. Slight him no more.
If Christ was so ready to leave his Father’s bosom for our sakes, then let us be ready to forsake all earthly comforts for his sake. Moses left all the glory of Egypt. Peter and the other apostles left all, Lk 18:28. But what can we forsake compared with what he forsook for us? ‘Christ is the highest pattern of self-denial in the world.’
Let this confirm your faith in prayer. ‘If he that has such an interest in the heart of God intercede with the Father for you, then never doubt of audience and acceptance with him.’ Jn 11:42; Heb 7:25; Jn 17:24.
Sinners, embrace the bosom-Son of God. Do not despise and reject such a Saviour. Embrace him who is so freely offered to you, and you will be dear to God in him.
The Fountain of Life, revised and somewhat abridged edition, Baker Book House, 1977, pp 23-31.