August 18, 2007

David Brainerd (1718–1747) on John 1:29 and Christ's Sufficiency

II. Considered how and in what sense he 'takes away the sin of the world:' and observed, that the means and manner, in and by which he takes away the sins of men, was his 'giving himself for them,' doing and suffering in their room and stead, &c. And he is said to take away the sin of the world, not because all the world shall actually be redeemed from sin by him; but because, (1.) He has done and suffered sufficient to answer for the sins of the world, and so to redeem all mankind. (2.) He actually does take away the sins of the elect world.
From the "Life and Diary of the Rev. David Brainerd," in The Works of Jonathan Edwards (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1992), 2:374.

Observe the following in the quote above:

1) The 'taking away' is the 'doing and suffering' of Christ in the stead of the 'world'.

2) This does not mean that all the 'world' shall be redeemed (the non-elect are viewed as a subset of the 'world') in the sense of being finally saved (redemption applied), but only that Christ suffered sufficiently for the world so to redeem all mankind (redemption accomplished, or paying the ransom price for all mankind).

3) By saying this, Brainerd clearly uses 'world' to mean all apostate humanity on earth, i.e. all mankind.

4) He affirms that only the elect will be finally redeemed (i.e. have the redemption applied to them), which occurs when they believe.
And, secondly, I frequently endeavoured to open to them the fulness, all-sufficiency, and freeness of that redemption, which the Son of God has wrought out by his obedience and sufferings, for perishing sinners: how this provision he had made, was suited to all their wants; and how he called and invited them to accept of everlasting life freely, notwithstanding all their sinfulness, inability, unworthiness, &c.
Ibid., 2:432.

Observe in the above quote how Brainerd associates free gospel invitations with the sufficiency, suitability or ample provision of Christ's obedience and sufferings.

These theological conceptions were part of what was driving David Brainerd to fervent missionary activity among the American Indians. His free invitations for the unbelieving Indians to come to Christ could only make sense if Christ had suffered sufficiently for them, which Brainerd affirms.


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