Of God's Will Concerning Believers and their Seed
"And Jesus said unto him (Zacchaeus), This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham," Luke 19:9.
With these words Jesus points us to God's promise to Abraham, "And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee and to thy seed after thee," (Gen. 17:7). God's purpose in election and in His work of grace by which He becomes our God in Christ is personal, but it is not individualistic. Jesus saves a church. He says, "I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it," (Matt. 16:18). Gathering that church according to the counsel of God out of all nations, Jesus commands the gospel to be preached to every creature (Mark 16:15). In that preaching and gathering of the elect, the nations are gathered into His kingdom and made disciples (Matt. 28:19). The world God loved is saved (John 3:16). As many as are ordained to eternal life believe (Acts 2:47; Acts 13:48). To this working of God's will belongs the truth that God saves His people in families and believing households, gathering His elect in the generations of believers (Gen. 17:7).
When Jesus passed through Jericho on his way to Jerusalem and the cross, He did so for a purposeto save Zacchaeus. He was accomplishing His Father's will. He indicates that this is the case when He calls Zacchaeus down from his perch in a tree and says, "for today I must abide at thy house," Luke 19:5. Jesus does not simply say what He will do, "abide at thy house," He says, "I must abide at thy house." It is something that "must" be done. It was necessary because His sheep must be saved and gathered. Jesus further explains this when He says, "This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost," (Luke 19:9, 10). Jesus' reference here is to God's promise to Abraham, and the promise to His seed (Gen. 17:7). That promise was in Christ Who is the seed above all (Gal. 3:16) and to those who are the spiritual offspring of God's grace, children of promise ( Gal. 3:29; Gal. 4:28). Such was Zacchaeus, "a son of Abraham" not simply after the flesh, but one who, though lost in himself, was made a spiritual son, one who had the faith of Abraham. But in bringing that salvation to Zacchaeus, Jesus was not bringing it to him alone, as an isolated individual. He brought it to his house, to his family. Jesus says so. "This day is salvation come to this house," (Luke 19:9).
In His work of grace God makes dead sinners living children of God, a spiritual seed of Abraham, whether they be Jew or Gentile. This was the teaching of John the Baptist (Matt. 3:9; Luke 3:8). It is also Jesus' instruction concerning Zacchaeus. But that work of grace saves a believer and His seed, not mere individuals. This is the blessing which was given Abraham, first in his seed after him in his generations, in which God gathered a spiritual, believing seed who loved God and were His people. This blessing was not due to any natural connection but was a work of grace. God established His covenant with them, became their God, and made them His children. This was not all the offspring of Abraham, his natural descendants, but a spiritual seed gathered in the generations of his natural seed. The Pharisees and scribes were also Abraham's children after the flesh, His seed in that natural sense, but they were not Abraham's true children for they did not have Abraham's faith. (John 8:39, 40). According to His promise and founded upon His will, God saved a spiritual seed who were born by grace from above. That is what Isaac, the child born by the promise, represents. Hence the Word of God says, "Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise," Gal. 4:28.
God also intended that there be a spiritual seed unto Abraham among the Gentiles. When the Apostle Paul says, "Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise," (Gal. 4:28) he is addressing Gentiles in the church of Galatia. It is the Gentiles to whom John the Baptist is referring when he says, "God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham," Matt. 3:9. Hence the Apostle Paul says to the Gentiles, "And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise," Gal. 3:29. As we have seen, the promise was not to Abraham as a mere individual, "I will be a God unto thee," but it was to his seed, "in their generations. " When Jesus addresses Zacchaeus, it is that promise which He has in view, including the fact that God sets his grace in families. God is always pleased to save his people, "in their generations." He is pleased to command the grace of election to run in the generations of believers, to gather of the children of believing parents a people who are his own possession, children born of His grace as Isaac was. For this reason Jesus does not say to Zacchaeus, this day is salvation come to you, personally, alone. What Jesus says is, "This day is salvation come to this house," Luke 19:9. He did not say this because now the building had a believer living in it. Jesus is pointing us to the nature of God's promise to Abraham, and behind that to God's will to save His people in households, gathering believers and their elect seed in their generations into the blessings of salvation.
This has to do with the truth of election. We see this also when Jesus declares His Father's will concerning the children of believing parents who sought His blessing for their children, "Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God," (Mark 10:14). God in Christ saves His people in the generations of believers. Election and the grace of God are made to run, according to God's will, in the generations. Not by any power of the flesh nor by any cause in man is this the case. It is God's sovereign determination. Hence the gospel is not merely, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved," but it is, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved and thy house," Acts 16:31. The gospel in Acts 2 is not, "the promise is unto you (Jews) and to those afar off (Gentiles), " but the promise, to those pricked in their hearts of the Jews, is "unto you and your children," Acts 2:39. Moreover, when it comes to the Gentiles, those "afar off," the promise is, "believe...and thou shalt be saved and thy house," Acts 16:31. At issue is not first of all such a matter as infant baptism, (though a necessary result) but the will of GodGod's will of election, God's promises in Christ. The gospel itself is at issue. Jesus says of the children of believersand they were infants"of such is the kingdom of God," (Mark 10:14). Jesus blesses them because such children are the objects of His grace and saving workHis blessing. Jesus brings salvation to a believer's household. "This day is salvation come to this house," (Luke 19:9). It is likewise not insignificant that two of Jesus' resurrection miracles involved the raising children from the dead, the widow's son at Nain and Jairus's daughter. Jesus also wrought other miracles among the children of believers (Matt. 15:21; 17:14; John 4:46). Jesus came to save His people from their sins, also the little ones of His kingdom (Matt. 18). Has Jesus brought salvation to your house?
By Rev. Thomas Miersma, Missionary Pastor
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