Every year, when we sing or hear “Joy to the World” around Christmas time, we sing a song that anticipates the work of our Lord Jesus Christ in his exaltation. For the purposes of our text this morning and the idea that total regeneration overcomes total depravity, the third verse of this hymn is appropriately anticipatory:
No more let sins and sorrows grow,
nor thorns infest the ground;
he comes to make his blessings flow
far as the curse is found,
far as the curse is found,
far as, far as the curse is found.
We sing this song of joy during the Christmas season in anticipation of the fulfilled promise of the Father, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, who applies Christ’s redemption as far as the curse is found.
In this reflection, I want to expand on how the total regeneration that comes through believing on the Lord Jesus overcomes the total depravity that we all possess in our fallen human nature. We’ll do this first by thinking about how far the curse is found and then by considering how Christ’s blessings flow that far in the salvation of his people.
So, first, the bad news. The curse is found in everyone born of Adam, i.e. it extends federally. The first sin of Adam and his loss of original righteousness was not a private matter. As the head and representative of humanity, his sin became everyone’s sin. As J.C. Ryle says, “It is a family disease, which we all inherit from our first parents, Adam and Eve, and with which we are born.”
Consequently, the curse of the fall of Adam is found from the time of Adam to our present day, i.e. it extends historically. With an unqualified statement, Paul says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23) and have received death as the wages for sin (Rom 6:23). This was true even before the law, for Paul also says that death reigned even from Adam up to Moses (Rom 5:14). And so, the curse extends historically.
Finally, the curse is found within every part of every person, i.e. it extends totally. This is the doctrine of total depravity; in your fallen human nature, apart from the saving grace of Jesus Christ and the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, you are, in every part of you, head, heart, and hands, a sinner who is affected by corruption. Apart from Christ, we are “dead in sin, and wholly defiled in all parts and faculties, body and soul” (WCF 6.2).
But there is good news! The Lord Jesus Christ was not born of Adam but born as a second and as the last Adam. He was not subject to corruption, and so, having won the victory and having received the promise of the Father, his blessing flows federally to all who call upon his name.
Moreover, as Scripture testifies, Christ’s blessing flows historically as well to cover the curse and the sins of his people in the past, present, and future. Jesus himself says of Abraham that he “rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad” (John 8:56). Thus, the Westminster Confession says, “Although the work of redemption was not actually wrought by Christ till after his incarnation, yet the virtue, efficacy, and benefits thereof were communicated unto the elect, in all ages successively from the beginning of the world” (WCF 8.6).
And finally, the blessing flows totally within everyone whom God has called to himself. Christ’s blessing, applied by the Spirit, flows as far as the curse is found in each one of us so that there is no nook or cranny in your being that is not redeemed.
To be sure, we are still waiting for the fullness of this total regeneration at the end of this age, but even now we can confidently sing that Christ has come to make his blessings flow far as the curse is found. Praise be to God!