Nick Batzig

How Patient Is God With Us?

We must remember the mercy of God in Christ, as we acknowledge, hate, and turn from our sin and rebellion to Him who is “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness,” to the God who “forgives iniquity, transgression and sin.” May God give us grace to see that his patience is part of his goodness and that his goodness leads to repentance. 

Augustine once said, “God has promised forgiveness to your repentance, but He has not promised tomorrow to your procrastination.” This is a sobering truth—a much-needed reminder that we are called to repent of our sin as soon as God has convicted us of it. It is also a sobering truth in so much as it relays the fact that God does not owe us life or forgiveness. He can do with us whatever he wants at any time (Deut. 32:39).
When we come to terms with this fact, we fall on our faces and cry out with the psalmist,
Enter not into judgment with your servant,for no one living is righteous before you.(Ps. 143:2)
We cling to Christ crucified and risen and cry out with the psalmist,
If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,O Lord, who could stand?But with you there is forgiveness,that you may be feared.(Ps. 130:3-4)
This is not something that must happen just one time in our life. We must do this throughout the totality of our short lives until we are with Christ in glory.
God bears long with us in order to encourage us to repent.
Sadly, we so often act just like the Israelites—seeing God’s glorious works and yet rebelling against him time and time again. In Numbers 14, we have one of the most instructive examples of Israel’s rebellion and God’s mercy. The people were murmuring against God’s appointed leaders, Moses and Aaron—though they were really complaining against the Lord. The Lord asked Moses,
“How long will this people despise me?”(Num. 14:11)
Moses then interceded on behalf of the people for the sake of the Lord, his attributes, and his covenant promises (Num. 14:15-19). The Lord then granted Moses his request, saying,
“I have pardoned, according to your word.”(Num. 14:20-21)
However, God brought the following charge against the people:
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5 Things You Should Know about Sanctification

Though sanctification is based on what Christ accomplished in His death and resurrection and is experienced in the lives of believers by the power of the Holy Spirit, God has appointed certain means to assist believers in the pursuit of growth in grace. The believer’s progressive sanctification will be commensurate with his employment of the means of grace. The central means that God has appointed for the sanctification of His people are the Word, sacraments, and prayer. 

If you were seeking a succinct definition of the biblical doctrine of sanctification, you would be hard-pressed to find a better one than that found in the Westminster Shorter Catechism. In the answer to Question 35, the Westminster divines wrote, “Sanctification is the work of God’s free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness.” Although this is an accurate definition of the progressive nature of sanctification, Scripture sets out several other important aspects of sanctification that are necessary for us to gain a full-orbed understanding of this benefit of redemption. Consider the following five things:
1. Christ is the source of sanctification.
Believers are sanctified by virtue of their union with Christ. He is the singular source of sanctification insomuch as He supplies His people with all that they need to grow spiritually as they abide in Him by faith. As the Apostle Paul wrote, “You are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1 Cor. 1:30, emphasis added). To become the source of sanctification for His people, Jesus had to sanctify Himself in the work of redemption (John 17:19). Though He had no sin (2 Cor. 5:21), He consecrated Himself for His people by perfectly obeying the law of God as well as the mediatorial commands of God (John 10:17–18). Geerhardus Vos explained, “This . . . is not to be understood as a change in the Savior, as if this sanctification presupposes a previous lack of holiness, but as the consecration of His life in mediatorial obedience (passive and active) to God.” In addition to His obedient life, Christ was sanctified for us when He died on the cross. Since the sins of believers have been imputed to Christ, and He bore them in His body on the tree, they were judicially purged when He fell under the fiery wrath of God.
2. Regeneration is the fountain of sanctification.
Since justification is a legal benefit of redemption (i.e., a once-for-all act), sanctification more properly flows from the transformative blessing of regeneration. The implementation of a new nature (i.e., regeneration) into the lives of believers at the beginning of their Christian experience begins the process of sanctification.
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4 Ways to Respond When Christians Hurt You

In the house of God, Christians must learn to remember the identity of their brothers and sisters, humbly pray for their brothers and sisters, lovingly cover the sin of their brothers and sisters, and privately confront their brothers and sisters. As we do, we will see God’s grace healing and sustaining our relationships in ways that the world will never experience.

As the culture war rages on, there is another battle raging to which we must turn our attention. When I was a boy, my dad would sometimes tell me, “No one will hurt you so much as others in the church.” In my lifetime, this has generally proven to be true. Believers sometimes experience the greatest hurt in their relationships with other professing believers in the church at large.
When a professing believer hurts our feelings or reputation, how should we respond? Should we, in turn, demean that individual by telling others (whether privately or publicly), “I can’t stand him,” or “she’s such a mess” or “I’m not even sure that he or she is a Christian.” To our shame, most of us are guilty of having responded in such sinful ways. When someone hurts us, the instinct of our flesh is to hurt them back.
Thankfully, God does not leave us to our fleshly instincts to learn how to respond. Instead, He instructs us in very specific ways about how we should respond when someone does us harm. By virtue of our union with Christ—in His death and resurrection—we can learn to put the following into practice:
1. Remember the spiritual identity of the offending brother or sister.
The Scriptures differentiate between the children of God and unbelievers. Everyone who is united to Christ by faith has been adopted into God’s family. None of us deserves to be adopted into God’s family. It is the height of the spiritual blessings that God has conferred on us by grace. When we sin against others in the body, or when they sin against us, we are sinning against one of God’s beloved sons or daughters.
We are to view all professing believers as our brothers and sisters in Christ—as members of “the whole family in heaven and earth” (Eph. 3:14). Our actions are to accord with what we believe about the doctrine of adoption. If we are brothers and sisters in Christ, then we should “be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love” (Rom. 12:10), and we ought never “speak evil of one another” (James 4:11). If we viewed each other according to the doctrine of adoption, it would radically change the way that we respond when a brother or sister hurts us.
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A Mountain Range Christmas: Why the Baby in the Manger is Also the Lion on the Throne

We tend to focus more on the first coming with its shouts of salvation rather than on the second with its promised shout of salvation and judgment. In a sense, we often wrongly separate the baby in the manger from the Lion on the throne. We have to learn to look at both the mountain tops and the mountain range. We do so by looking at the whole Christ in the whole of the Scriptures. 

As we head toward another Christmas—and a renewed time of remembrance of the fulfillment of the prophecies that God gave for millennia concerning the Christ—it would do us good to step back and consider the fact that the Old Testament prophecies about Christ were often not time-specific, neatly packaged prophecies but rather mountain-ranges of prophecy about all that the Savior would be and do in both his first and second coming.
At this time of year, our minds often turn to the prophecies concerning the virgin who would conceive and bear a Son whose name would be Emmanuel (Isa. 7:14) and prophecies of the child who would be born whose name would be Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Princes of Peace (Isa. 9:6), and of the One who would be ruler over Israel—who would be from everlasting—would be born in the little town of Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). We love to look back with delight as we see the way in which these prophecies, given so long before God fulfilled them, were so specifically and clearly fulfilled in the birth of Jesus.
The Old Testament prophecies about Jesus foretold both his first and second coming.
However, we often forget that the Old Testament spoke of another dimension of the advent of the Christ. The entire Old Testament pointed forward to the coming Savior—who, in his work on the cross and in his return to judge the world in righteousness—would bring about in the consummation the salvation and judgment of all men.
Louis Berkhof, in his book Principles of Biblical Interpretation, illustratively explained how it is that the prophecies made about Christ in the pages of the Old Testament appear more like mountain ranges than mountain tops. He wrote:

The element of time is a rather negligible character in the prophets. While designations of time are not wanting altogether, their number is exceptionally small. The prophets compressed great events into a brief space of time, brought momentous movements close together in a temporal sense, and took them in at a single glance. This is called “the prophetic perspective,” or as Delitzsch calls it “the foreshortening of the prophet’s horizon.” They looked upon the future as the traveller does upon a mountain range in the distance. He fancies that one mountain-top rises up right behind the other, when in reality they are miles apart. Cf. the prophets respecting the Day of the Lord and the two-fold coming of Christ.[1]

We see how this is played out in the way in which the elderly Simeon spoke of the destiny of the baby Jesus.
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The Rapture and the Return of Christ

Christ’s return will be accompanied by public proclamation. Jesus will first bring about the resurrection of His people who have died; then He will cause those who are alive to be caught up together with Him in the air. Scripture nowhere advances the idea of a secret rapture before a period of tribulation, but it does reveal that the second coming of Christ will be a most rapturous event for all believers.

A friend of mine once preached on the return of Christ in a church that embraced a view of the end times informed by dispensationalism. After the service, one of the congregants, apparently concerned by what he had just heard, asked him, “You do believe in the rapture, right?” My friend lightheartedly responded, “Oh, I believe that the return of Christ is going to be a rapturous event!”
Contrary to many widely accepted misconceptions about the rapture and the return of Christ, including those found in dispensationalism, Scripture knows of only two comings of Christ—the first at His incarnation and the second at the consummation. The New Testament revelation of the events that accompany the return of Christ includes the teaching of 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18, a passage that many Western evangelicals misguidedly see as proof of an evacuation of believers to heaven to escape some or all of the tribulation that precedes the visible return of Christ. But this passage actually teaches that believers who are alive when Christ returns in glory will be “caught up” (i.e., raptured) at the time of this return, immediately after Christ raises His people from the dead at His second coming. In other words, the church is not evacuated before the final coming of Christ and is not promised an escape from tribulation.
While complicated proposals about the rapture and the return of Christ have been advanced through dispensational teaching since the late nineteenth century, a sweet simplicity belongs to the biblical revelation regarding these events. Scripture does not speak of three returns of Christ (or two and a half, as certain proposals insist); rather, redemptive history is structured by Christ’s first and second comings. The author of Hebrews teaches, “Just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him” (Heb. 9:27–28). This passage summarizes what the rest of the New Testament reveals concerning the two appearances of Christ and the hope of believers.
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Jesus is the True and Faithful Gardener Who Cares for Your Soul

Adam was called to guard and keep the Garden. This certainly included his need to protect his bride from the temptations of the evil one. When Jesus entered into his sufferings on the cross, he did so with His bride—the church—with him there in the Garden. As Adam should have warned Eve to “watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation” (Matt. 26:41), so Jesus warns his bride—the Church—to do that very thing. There is a striking parallel between the events of the two Gardens—Eden and Gethsemane.

The Scriptures tell us that the Son of God began His sufferings in a Garden and brought them to a close in a Garden. That is an absolutely amazing display of God’s wisdom. After all, Jesus is the second Adam undoing what Adam did and doing what Adam failed to do (Rom. 5:12-21; 1 Cor. 15:47-49). He is the Heavenly Bridegroom, entering into his sufferings in a Garden for the redemption of his bride, the Church. He is the Heavenly Gardener, giving himself to the cultivation of the souls of his people through his atoning sacrifice and continual intercession.
When he hung on the cross, Jesus spoke of Glory under the name of “Paradise”—an evident allusion to the paradise in which our first parents dwelt and the paradise from which they fell. He is the second Adam who, by the shedding of his blood, secured the New Creation. As we consider the double entendres of the fourth Gospel, we come to those specifically concerning the biblical theology of the second Adam in the Garden. Consider the theological significance of the following two Garden settings in which Christ carried out the work of redemption.
1. Jesus began His sufferings in a Garden in order to show that He came to undo what Adam had done.
In his soul-stirring book, Looking Unto Jesus, Isaac Ambrose explained the theological significance of the Garden motif in the Gospels—both with regard to the beginning of Christ’s sufferings in the Garden of Gethsemane and at the end of his sufferings in the Garden where his body was laid to rest in the tomb. Concerning the first of these symbolic gardens, Ambrose suggested:

“Jesus went forth with his disciples over the brook Kidron, where there was a garden [John 18:1];” many mysteries are included in this word, and I believe it is not without reason that our Savior goes into a garden…Because a garden was the place wherein we fell, and therefore Christ made choice of a garden to begin there the greatest work of our redemption: in the first garden was the beginning of all evils; and in this garden was the beginning of our restitution from all evils; in the first garden, the first Adam was overthrown by Satan, and in this garden the second Adam overcame, and Satan himself was by him overcome; in the first garden sin was contracted; and we were indebted by our sins to God, and in this garden sin was paid for by that great and precious price of the blood of God: in the first garden man surfeited by eating the forbidden fruit, and in this garden Christ sweat it out wonderfully, even by a bloody sweat; in the first garden, death first made its entrance into the world; and in this garden life enters to restore us from death to life again; in the first garden Adam’s liberty to sin brought himself and all of us into bondage; and, in this garden, Christ being bound and fettered, we are thereby freed and restored to liberty. I might thus descant in respect of every circumstance, but this is the sum, in a garden first began our sin, and in this garden first began the passion, that great work and merit of our redemption.[1]

Since “a garden was the place wherein we fell…therefore Christ made choice of a garden to begin there the greatest work of our redemption,” Jesus is the second Adam. It is fitting, therefore, that his work of undoing all that Adam did should begin in a Garden. Charles Spurgeon drew out this same observation, stating:

May we not conceive that as in a garden Adam’s self-indulgence ruined us, so in another garden the agonies of the second Adam should restore us. Gethsemane supplies the medicine for the ills which followed upon the forbidden fruit of Eden. No flowers which bloomed upon the banks of the four-fold river were ever so precious to our race as the bitter herbs which grew hard by the black and sullen stream of Kedron.[2]

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3 Reasons Why Christians Should Lay “R.I.P.” to Rest

The Scriptures make it abundantly clear that God has purchased peace only “through the blood of the cross” (Col. 1:20). The rest and peace for which we should long—both for ourselves and for those around us—is grounded on the nature of the person and atoning death of Jesus. If men have spent their lives rejecting the gospel and have not professed faith in Jesus, we should not be offering them posthumous well-wishes. It puts the nature of the exclusivity of Jesus and the gospel in jeopardy, even if that is not our intention.

I have great admiration for non-Christians who have contributed to the improvement of society through their inventions, production, leadership, literature, and art. My wife and I were recently reflecting on the remarkable ways in which Steve Jobs’s labors helped change the world in which we live. I love so many of the beautiful works of art and music that have been the product of secular artists; and I do not, for one second, believe that we should sequester ourselves from the use and enjoyment of the contributions of self-avowed unbelievers in the world around us. Otherwise, as the apostle Paul wrote, “you would need to go out of the world” (1 Cor. 5:10). There is a common grace principle at work in the world by which God allows men to benefit their neighbors, making life in this fallen world a little less painful than it would otherwise be.
That being said, I’ve noticed something of a concerning trend over the past several years. It is the way in which believers speak about culture-impacting individuals at their deaths. Instead of simply expressing appreciation for their life and achievements, it has become commonplace for Christians to use the shorthand “R.I.P.” (rest in peace) on social media when speaking of individuals in whose lives there was no evidence of saving grace at their death. At the risk of sounding ill-tempered, I wish to set out several reasons why I am troubled by this occurrence.
1. R.I.P. refers to the afterlife.
First, when we employ the abbreviation R.I.P., we are inevitably admitting a state or condition inseparably linked to the idea of the afterlife. We are not speaking of something indifferent to the truth of the hereafter. Someone might push back at this point, suggesting that R.I.P. is nothing other than a way of expressing appreciation for an individual’s life and achievements.
However, while certain words and phrases can be fluid in their meaning (e.g., “goodbye” has taken on a different meaning than its Old English sense, “God be with you”), “rest in peace” gives the sense that the deceased are “in a better place”—a place of rest and peace. If we care about the eternal salvation of people, and whether or not they are trusting in Christ alone for eternal life, then we should painstakingly avoid giving the sense that we believe in any form of universalism whatsoever.
2. Christians should not pray for the dead.
Second, as Christians we should revolt at the idea of “praying for the dead,” since there is not a single ounce of biblical support for such an idea.
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Why Is the Substitutionary Atonement Essential?

During the first decade of the twenty-first century, a number of prominent leaders in the emerging church movement asserted that the doctrine of substitutionary atonement is tantamount to “cosmic child abuse.” At a time when men and women were finally starting to see the need to condemn every form of abuse that had been tolerated in our culture, the allegation seemed to be a powerful argument with which to drive people away from the longstanding teaching of the Christian church on the sufferings of Christ. The question of the atonement is not, however, settled by aspersions cast by contemporary theologians but by biblical exegesis and theological coherence.
While Jesus frequently taught His disciples about the certainty and necessity of His death on the cross (Matt. 16:21; Mark 8:31; Luke 9:22; 17:25; 22:22), He only explicitly tied those aspects of His death on the cross to its meaning on three occasions—in Mark 10:45, in the Good Shepherd discourse (John 10), and at the institution of the Lord’s Supper (Luke 22:19–20). In these places, Jesus taught the substitutionary nature of His death for the forgiveness of the sins of His people.
When we move from the Gospels to the Epistles, an explicit articulation of the substitutionary nature of the death of Christ appears. When one considers the many instances in which the Apostles explain the death of Christ, it is incontrovertible that the doctrine of substitutionary atonement is the Apostolic doctrine of the atonement. In what is perhaps the clearest exposition of the death of Christ, the Apostle Paul teaches the vicarious sacrifice of the Savior when he declares, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21). Likewise, the Apostle Peter explained that Jesus “himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness” (1 Peter 2:24).
Behind the Apostolic interpretation of the death of the Savior is the Old Testament teaching on the atonement. The prophet Isaiah, in speaking of the Suffering Servant, foretold of the sufferings that Jesus would undergo in the place of His people: “He was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed” (Isa. 53:5). All of Israel’s prophets alluded to the substitutionary nature of the work of the Redeemer when they spoke of the work of redemption. This, of course, also has its foundation in the nature of Old Testament sacrifice.
In his Reformed Dogmatics, Herman Bavinck explains the significance of the old covenant sacrificial system for seeking to understand the sacrifice of Christ:

What Would Jesus Drink?

The Savior has drunk, to the full, the cup of God’s wrath so that we might drink, to the full, the cup of his blessings. We must learn again and again to remember what it is that we deserve from the hand of God and what our Savior took upon himself for our salvation. It is only as we do so that we are drawn into deeper communion with him.

If you were hoping to read a post about the temperance movement, wineries, microbrews or an illegitimate use of the Bible to fuel the health food revolution (or perhaps I should have said, “health food religion”), then you could be disappointed. If, however, you are looking for an explanation about what the Scriptures tell us that Jesus drank when he spoke of “this cup” (Matt. 26:39), then my hope is that you’ll find this to be one of the richest subjects for the well-being of your soul. How are we to know what Jesus meant when he spoke of “the cup” that he had to drink?
When he entered the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus went away by himself and prayed to his Father, “‘If it is possible, let this cup pass from me’” (Matt. 26:39). As he left the garden to head to the cross, our Lord said to his disciples, “‘Shall I not drink the cup that my Father has given me?’” (John 18:11). Simply put, “the cup” was nothing less than the full outpouring of the wrath of God against the sin of his people. We understand this both from what the Old Testament prophets foretold about that cup and from the impact that it had on the soul of our Lord when he made mention of it.
The Cup in the Old Testament
There are several places in the Old Testament that help us answer the question, “What would Jesus drink?” The cup that Jesus stared into in the garden is described in the Old Testament as the cup of judgment and wrath in the following places:

But it is God who executes judgment, putting down one and lifting up another. For in the hand of the Lord there is a cup with foaming wine, well mixed, and he pours out from it, and all the wicked of the earth shall drain it down to the dregs. (Psalm 75:7-8)

Wake yourself, wake yourself, stand up, O Jerusalem, you who have drunk from the hand of the Lord the cup of his wrath, who have drunk to the dregs the bowl, the cup of staggering. (Isaiah 51:17)

Thus the Lord, the God of Israel, said to me: “Take from my hand this cup of the wine of wrath, and make all the nations to whom I send you drink it. They shall drink and stagger and be crazed because of the sword that I am sending among them.” So I took the cup from the Lord’s hand, and made all the nations to whom the Lord sent me drink it. (Jeremiah 25:15-17)

Most interesting about these three passages is that both Israel and the nations are said to be deserving of the cup of God’s wrath. This parallels Paul’s declaration that both Jew and Gentile are both under sin (Rom. 3:9) and the curse of the Law by nature (Gal. 3:10-13). Jesus’ coming as the substitute Redeemer of his people means that what he did, he did in their place and for their good. He drank the cup that we should have drunk. He took up the cup that we should have taken up. He bore our sins in his own body on the tree. He who knew no sin was made sin for us. He was wounded for our transgressions.
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4 Important Aspects of the Noahic Covenant in Redemptive History

Every time we see the rainbow we should remember God’s covenant faithfulness in sending the Redeemer to save a people for himself. Just as God had placed a rainbow in the sky to show his steadfast covenant fidelity, so there is a rainbow around the throne of Jesus Christ in glory (Rev. 4:3). We, like Noah, are beneficiaries of the mercy established in the Noahic Covenant in Jesus Christ.

The Noahic covenant was the first covenantal administration after God’s initial covenant promise to redeem and restore humanity (Gen. 3:15). It is also the first time that the word בְּרִית (Berith, translated Covenant) is used in the Scripture (Gen. 6:18). What has not been frequently observed, however, is how the Noahic covenant falls squarely in the realm of redemptive history.
Consider the following ways in which Noah and the Noahic covenant play a part in redemptive history:

The Redemptive Role of Noah as a Type of Christ

Noah was a type of Christ. He was a typical second Adam, a typical redeemer, and a typical rest giver. Like Adam, God gave Noah similar instructions with regard to being fruitful and multiplying, filling the earth and subduing it. He was not the second Adam but was a type of the second Adam who pointed to Christ.
Jesus is the second and last (eschatological) Adam who redeems his people and fulfills the creation mandates. Noah was a typical redeemer. Everyone with Noah on the ark was saved. Everyone in Christ is saved. Noah was not “the Redeemer.” He was a typical redeemer, providing typical redemption for all those who descended from him. Jesus came to redeem all those he represented spiritually.
Noah was a typical rest-giver. Noah’s name meant ‘rest.’ His father had named him ‘Rest,’ saying, “This one will give us rest from the ground which the Lord had cursed.” Noah only gives typical rest, as the remainder of the Bible bears witness to the ongoing need for redemptive rest.
Jesus is the one who finally and fully gives rest to the people of God and to the creation that was brought under the curse at the fall. He is the one who said, “Come unto me and I will give you rest for your souls.” He is the one who takes the curse on himself when he wears the crown of thorns—the symbol of the curse on the ground.

The Redemptive Foreshadowing of the New Creation

The book of Revelation tells us that the “new heavens and the new earth” will be the new Temple where God dwells fully and permanently with the redeemed. Noah and all of creation were together in the ark, as in a typical temple. This was foreshadowing the new creation-temple. Interestingly, the ark and Solomon’s Temple had three levels. It seems that the biblical data substantiates that the ark was a temple where God dwelt with his creation.
Noah also led the way into a typical new creation when he and his family stepped off of the ark and into a world that had been typically cleansed of pollution. Jesus brought about the new creation through his death and resurrection.
Noah knew that the flood had not really made “all things new,” because he sacrificed when he stepped off of the ark. The flood waters could never cleanse the evil out of the heart of man. God had destroyed the earth with a flood because “every intent of the thoughts of man’s heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5).
God promised never to destroy the earth with a flood again because “the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth” (Gen. 8:21). The reason for the latter declaration was that the flood was never meant to deal with man’s real problem—the sinful pollution of his heart.
Noah’s sons would populate the earth along with depraved sinners. Only the blood of Jesus could cleanse the hearts of sinners. The cleansed world onto which Noah and his family stepped when the waters receded was a type of the “new heavens and the new earth in which righteousness dwells.”
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