Search

Changed By Glory

"And we all… beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another." II Cor. 3:18

Category

Christian Life

New Covenant Singleness

A recent conversation about singleness on a podcast I listen to called The Reformed Pubcast[i] sparked some consideration in my mind with where I stand on that matter. Specifically the tension that there seems to be in conservative Christian circles between Paul’s writings on the issue in I Corinthians 7 and the Genesis 1 & 2 command that a man should cleave to a wife and be fruitful and multiply.

The direction that is often taken, especially in the setting I grew up in, is to respond to Paul’s words in one of three ways:

  1. We “hmm-haw” about it and tend toward the side of Genesis 1.
  2. We use 1 Corinthians 7 as a comfort for those that are “unfortunate” enough to not be able to find a husband/wife.
  3. We take the heretical approach and state that Paul was simply speaking his opinion here and these words are uninspired (please don’t do that!)

I think that there is a real danger in not simply taking Paul at face value, as difficult as it may be to swallow.[ii] And further, I don’t think there is a tension here between Paul and Genesis. And the best way to see that a tension does not exist is to view the issue of singleness through theological lenses.

Let me lay out that theological lens which must be considered. First, it is my view that the Scriptures reveal that God interacts with his Creation through various covenants. And second, I am also “baptistic” in the sense that I believe that under the new covenant the covenant “children” are those that are born-again, exhibiting repentance and faith, thus making them the rightful recipients of the covenant sign, which is baptism.[iii] You may be wondering what that has do with Genesis, 1 Corinthians 7, and singleness. But trust me! We will get there.

The Bible teaches that, from my viewpoint, Adam was under a covenant.[iv] Like all covenants, this one had terms[v] and responsibilities[vi]. Among the responsibilities was that man was to be fruitful and multiply.

Had Adam not transgressed the covenant by eating from the forbidden tree, his children would have been covenant children – fellows in this mission to fill and subdue the earth. The same seems to be the case with the Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants, where children born to families under those covenants were given the covenant sign of circumcision and were expected to “be fruitful and multiply”.

Now we come to the New Covenant, ushered in by Christ and sealed with his blood, where there is an important shift. Children are no longer born into the covenant people “by the will of the flesh, nor the will of man” but are born “of God” into the covenant people.[vii]

Just as God in Genesis 1 gives authority to man to subdue the earth and commands him to be fruitful and multiply, with the dawning of the New Covenant God gives authority to his covenant people –the church- and also commands them to be fruitful and multiply.[viii] There has been a shift in categories of covenant offspring from the strictly biological to the spiritual[ix] and therefore a shift in the paradigm of “be fruitful and multiply.”

So now we get back to Paul in I Corinthians 7. Paul, I believe, understood this distinction in what makes someone a child of the covenant. Just read Romans and Galatians. Paul even refers to Timothy as his “true child in the faith.”[x] Paul believed that in his singleness he was obeying the covenant duty to be fruitful and multiply. Just like Old Testament saints he understood that just as God opens and closes the womb he also opens and closes the heart[xi] and he made it his aim to “procreate”. Paul saw, under the New Covenant, that he could better pursue fruitfulness as a single man because he would be freer to scatter the seed of the Gospel which God may be pleased to spring to fruit.

Under the new covenant, therefore, there is a dignity and a purpose to singleness like never before. Our union with Christ and his church means that we are not robbed of meaningful fellowship outside of marriage. We are not defined by our ability to have sexual intimacy, but rather by our inseparable, intimate marriage to Christ as a member of his bride – the church.

What this means is that marriage is good. Marriage is honorable. Marriage is pure. But it is not better than singleness in the eyes of God. The new covenant removes that tension.

So if the Lord has called you to singleness this is my admonition: Jesus is enough. Now, pursue fruitfulness and multiplication by sowing the seed of the Gospel in broad and daring ways that you never could if God had called you to be a husband/wife, father/mother.

The command stands. The paradigm has shifted.

 

 

[i] A Christian podcast about theology, pop culture, and beer.
[ii] I speak as someone who is happily married and wish many were as I.
[iii] I don’t have time to get into all the details of this. For more info message me and I can suggest some reading.
[iv] Hosea 6:7
[v] Don’t eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:16)
[vi] Subdue the earth and be fruitful and multiply (Gen. 1:28)
[vii] John 1:13
[viii] Matthew 28:18-19
[ix] I understand this is something my Presbyterian brothers will disagree with.
[x] 1 Timothy 1:2
[xi] Genesis 29:31, Acts 16:14

A Good Thing Gone Bad – Introduction

Introduction

The warfare that we wage, is a spiritual warfare. One that is primarily a matter of truth and falsehood, according to the Scriptures.[i] It can be surprising how much of the material in the New Testament is polemical and how often the exhortation is to stand firm on truth, hold fast to doctrine, to make a good a confession. Since that horrific day in Eden that mankind was plunged into depravity there are forces at work, taking truth and twisting it, taking something that is good and misusing it, drawing people into this cycle of taking what God has created and morphing it into something that is a god itself. God gives us a monument of his glory in the Gospel and we take it as a token of our worth.

The history of the church is littered with extremism and complacency, with antinomianism and legalism, with passiveness and judgmentalism. Every revival has resulted in residual excessiveness and strange doctrine –ranging from the bizarre to the coldly indifferent. Every reformation has resulted in radicalism – both to the side of legalism and antinomianism. The reason for this is the war that we wage. In fact we should expect heresy to grow around the triumph of truth and for foolishness to arise around Spirit-driven fervor. Why? Because since the Fall there has been a war against truth. We have a real enemy who is “the father of lies”[ii]. And he is a liar who knows truth when he sees it and will stop at nothing to undermine it. He is subtle. He is cunning. And he is sinister. He is the enemy of the truth.

The church harms itself when it thinks that spiritual warfare is primarily about what goes bump in the night. The enemy knows he cannot beat God, so he tries to rob glory from him, and what is the greatest display of the glory of God? It is his Gospel, “the gospel of the glory of Christ who is the image of God.”[iii]

In the garden, Satan went after the ones made in God’s image, meant to reflect his glory. Defacing those images was the closest thing that he could do to diminishing the unfaltering, unapproachable glory of God himself. Since that time God has been unfolding his magnificent plan of redemption, by which to restore those fallen image bearers into monuments of his glory, a glory that would shine more brightly than ever could in Eden – the glory of his grace.

When Jesus came on the scene he shone with the radiance of the Father’s glory.[iv] Satan tried to deface that too and when he was unsuccessful he tried to outright destroy the image, but in doing so he unleashed with fury a light beyond compare. The perfection of God’s love and justice in a single, macabre scene on a Roman cross in Palestine. As the temple veil tore and the ground shook the enemy likely knew he was doomed, especially as fallen man looked on and said, “Truly, this was the Son of God.”[v] God’s glory was vindicated and his triumph guaranteed when on the third day following this crucifixion for the first time in history the incarnate Son of God burst the bonds of death with immortality, never to die again. Truth would prevail. God’s purposes were relentless and his glory would not be diminished.

In the coming days under the New Covenant the apostle were keenly aware that they had a foe that until the final battle would not cease his attacks on the glory of the Creator. Paul warns with certainty the Ephesian elder that wolves will come and devour the flock.[vi] The warfare would continue to be a warfare between truth and error. For it is in truth, namely the truth of the Gospel, that the glory of God is displayed in brilliant purity. Paul urged with passion for Timothy to guard the Gospel.[vii] He rebuked the Galatians for accepting another “gospel”.[viii] Until Christ returns the church has been given a deposit to proclaim, to live, and to guard. It is the Gospel. And every assault of Satan, at the end of the day, is an assault against this Gospel. Why? Caught it yet? Because it is there that the glory of God is most fully seen.

In the midst of this battle, the church which is a “pillar and buttress of the truth”[ix] is not without its scars. The study of church history shows two things: that there is a war against truth and that truth ultimately prevails. We see the warfare against truth in that with every true reformation in the church there is extremism on one hand and stagnation on the other, with every revival there is excessiveness on hand and coldness on the other. This is not the fault of the Gospel, in fact, it proves that the Gospel is still going forward because war is being waged. Wherever truth is, there will be the battle.

And that is the topic of this book or blog post series or personal rant, whatever it turns out to be. I believe that the truth is going forward, as it should, but there is a battle being raged. In some places the battle is very obvious, but actually those engagements, while important, are not the things that are the most troubling. In fact, those great battles grow out of the covert operations which go not only unnoticed, but applauded. It is the battle fought by those “clothed as angels of light” preaching another gospel[x], it is those wolves dressed in very convincing sheep’s clothing. It is those who believe they do God a service with what they preach. And most tragic is the damage done by those sheep that are charmed, duped, and downright deceived into swallowing Gospel that has been laced with poison.

We rejoice that the Gospel goes forward, but if we are not alert, we could end up doing more harm than good.

[i] II Corinthians 10:4-6
[ii] John 8:44
[iii] II Corinthians 4:3
[iv] John 1:14
[v] Mark 15:49
[vi] Acts 20:2
[vii] 1 Timothy 6:2
[viii] Galatians 1:6
[ix] 1 Timothy 3:15
[x] Galatians 1:8, II Corinthians 11:14; We will deal later with what makes something another Gospel.

“I Was Meant To Do This”

“I was meant to do this”.

I admit that over the past few summers my lunchtime entertainment has been watching the television show America’s Got Talent. One of the things I have observed after seeing hundreds of hopefuls perform is a recurring sentiment, the claim that “I was meant to do this.”

This reveals something interesting to me about people. That is that most people at the end of the day do not have any problem with an impersonal, sovereign force. Fate, if you will. People talk about existing for a purpose when their worldview would affirm that they really have no purpose. They deny the existence of God or at least they deny the idea of a God who is sovereign and “works all things according to the counsel of his will” (Eph. 1:11). Yet, when they reach their goals they are eager to attribute their success to some deterministic “meaning” for their life.

Despite this almost innate openness to the idea of fate, even many so-called Christians reject and are downright offended by a God who determines their destiny. But if not God then what? A materialistic universe has no plan to execute. So tell me, if you were meant to do something, then who meant it? If you believe there is a God who has “a plan for your life”, then how will he bring it about? Who formed you with your skills and talents?

What this shows us is that when people speak of how unthinkable the idea is that God is sovereign over everything, their problem isn’t with determinism, but with the person behind it. People have no problem with the idea of something setting the course of their lives. People make determinism out to be the big issue, but it isn’t the big issue. They aren’t troubled with the logic of how free choice interacts with “destiny” when they step on the stage or when their fate hands them their dreams. The problem they have is not an impersonal, determining force – but a personal one. A being that chooses their destiny for them – and not always the destiny they want.

The problem people have with a divine sovereign is because “Although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” (Romans 1:21 ESV) People embrace the idea of fate, but put God as the power behind the fate and they deny it. This is because in our sin we do not “honor him as God”, instead we bring him down to our level. And who wants an equal determining their destiny? A friend can’t even tell me what to do!

There is a selfishness behind this that is clear. For when people’s dreams come true they say “I was meant to do this” or “I feel this is why I am on earth.” But when our dreams crash and burn we turn to the God we ignore and ask “why?” or we simply say “This isn’t how life was supposed to go.” So in our sin and self-idolatry what we want is an impersonal force choosing a brilliant destiny for us where we are successful and happy – where we are a god. We want a universe that serves us as god, rather than seeing ourselves as part of a universe that was made to serve God.

Christians do this as well. I meet so many Christians who despise “Calvinism” and by that they mean the idea of total sovereignty, yet when facing the unknown they take comfort that God “has a plan” for them. But when things go bad they don’t respond with “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away” instead they either ask, “God, why would you let this happen?” or if they are more spiritual, yet want to retain their best-buddy view of God they say, “The devil did this”.

A charge sometimes brought against the total sovereignty of God by Christians is that this belief leads to passiveness in our Christian lives. In response to that charge it should be noted that even those that deny God and are pursuing their “destiny” actually use their belief in an impersonal, sovereign force as an impetus to pursue their dreams. They pursue their dream because they believe it is their destiny to reach their goal.  Likewise, as a Christian my destiny is to be conformed into the image of Christ, that is the goal. The knowledge of that, if I have a new heart, should be a sufficient impetus to pursue what I was “meant to do”. To labor to the end that I would reach my destiny! If that logic works with wanna’be pop-stars, why not with us as well who have the promises of God to boot?

I know this is a very scattered post, so let me condense my point. People don’t have a problem with sovereignty, they have a problem with a sovereign God. Why? Because if they want a God at all, they want one whose plans to coincide with theirs. Today our rejection of God’s sovereignty is a manifestation of our rebellion, as it was for Adam and Eve in the garden when they despised the idea of a God who would choose their destiny for them. It is my desire that many would come to see the folly of their logic, that I would see my own, and that we would honor God as the sovereign God that he is and embrace the destiny he has chosen as good and right, even if understanding it is beyond us.

The Novelty of Good Intentions

Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice, (Philippians 1:15-18 ESV)

As time passes I am more and more convinced that God does not need my skills, my eloquence, my cultural insight, and apparently not even my good intentions for his Word to be effective. As I have considered the God in Scripture and his Gospel, it has become apparent to me that what we proclaim, not skillfully spun, but plainly spoken, will always have its intended result. Those men that God has used as his mouthpieces in Scripture certainly were convinced of this – as was the Word-made-flesh himself.

When one carefully considers Paul, he finds someone who I would argue eschewed pragmatism. He had one method – “preach Christ”. Paul’s ministry flowed out of his theology. He knew that where the word was supposed to have its saving effect it would and where it was meant to harden it would. His confidence was not in eloquence or reason – but was in the Spirit working through the word. Even Paul himself, a doctor of the Scriptures, had rejected Christ even though he beheld with blind eyes for years his image in the law and prophets. Nothing was going to cause Paul to see the truth of the Gospel and embrace it except for a work of the Holy Spirit. And so it was.

This simple confidence that Paul had in the message which he proclaimed can be seen with shocking clarity in Philippians 1:15-18. Paul applauded the proclamation of the Gospel even by those that did it with wrong motives. He wasn’t begrudgingly thankful that the word was getting out, but he rejoiced! Why? Because he was completely confident that the power of the message was found in its source and not in its delivery. Such was Paul’s confidence in the simple proclamation of the Gospel that it did not matter to him who proclaimed it or why they did, as long as it was proclaimed. For he knew that it is the word falling on deaf ears and dead hearts that the Spirit of God uses to awaken sinners to life – if he so pleases.

The encouragement here is plentiful:

First it should encourage us as Christians – and especially as pastors – to be humbled, recognizing that the power for effective ministry does not rest in us but in the message we proclaim, if in fact we proclaim the Gospel that Paul preached.

Second, we should also rejoice when the Gospel is preached, even if the personality of the one preaching it is abrasive or in some way obnoxious. We should rejoice that the fragrance of Christ is spread, even if it is from a crude vessel. There are preachers I can barely stand to listen to, but they proclaim the Gospel and by it many are saved. I should rejoice.

Third, abandon hope in pragmatism and cultural intelligence. Focus instead on the purity of the message you proclaim. For if God does not even need your good intentions to exalt Christ and save sinners, he certainly doesn’t need your good ideas, however well-intentioned they may be.

Know the message of the Gospel. And desire that it be preached. More than you desire fruit or freedom or approval, desire that the Gospel be preached.

 

 

Mutated Seed Produces Mutated Plants

“The sower sows the word.” (Mark 4:14 ESV)

“Neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.” (1 Corinthians 3:7 ESV)

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:10-11 ESV)

Harsh climate, bugs, soil deficiencies are all problems that farmers face in their attempt to grow a profitable crop. Factors outside of the control of the farmer can make their task a frustrating one, even devastating. For centuries this was just part of sowing seed. There was no modern equipment or genetic science, the potential for life was entirely in the seed. All the sower of that seed could do was cast the potential upon the ground and pray to God that it would be fruitful. In our time the progress in the field of genetics has made it possible to mutate seed in order to make it more fruitful and in some ways to counteract for a hostile environment. This often yields results, but the problem is that mutated seeds produce mutated plants. The final product is changed because the seed is changed. Just as farmers will use genetically mutated seeds in order to counteract for a hostile environment, so Christians, entrusted with the seed of God’s word, can be tempted to offer a mutated word in an attempt to make a seed that the hostile heart-soil won’t reject on contact. Many well-meaning people do this by changing how they introduce truths or by adapting terminology, dressing up the message. They will borrow from the religion they are engaging in a way which cloaks the seed in a type of “insecticide” or “herbicide”, all with the argument that the seed just needs to be able to take root. We see this especially in evangelism to those of other religions but also in seeker-sensitive preaching, in entertainment driven ministry, and even in the way we share our faith with those around us. We try to rescue the message from its folly and we try to smooth down the stone of stumbling that it is. The frightening thing about mutated seed is that it may look like it is working, but it is producing mutated plants. The seed of the word has been entrusted to us by God. Our job as the church is to sow the word, and when little plants spring up we water it with the word. The growth is God’s department. When we try to put our focus on “fruitful practices” we are trying to reverse engineer something that only the Spirit of God can do. Our job is to be faithful to the revelation we have been given, constantly working to separate out the chaff from our bag of seed by going deeper in the word. This makes spreading the word very simple. Take the message that has been passed down and pass it on. It’s not rocket science. Planting is simply planting. The potential for life is in the plain seed of the word, all of the other things are factors outside of our control. Don’t judge whether a ministry practice is right by how effective it is. Take the seed, the glorious gospel of the kingdom, pray, spread it everywhere, and pray some more. Those that God has prepared to receive it, will receive it.

Love That Accords With Knowledge

“Love so follows knowledge, that no man can perfectly love God who has not previously a full comprehension of his goodness.” – Augustine of Hippo

We grow in our genuine love for God as we grow in the knowledge of Him in what he has revealed about himself. The more we view his loveliness, the more convinced we become of its reality. Many wonderful people are misunderstood as long as no time is taken to get to know them. In fact, so many problems in relationships are due to a lack of gaining understanding and even seeing only what we want to see. Love for God based on our own fabrication of who he is, is not love, but mere fancy. And our world is full of short, shallow, and fanciful relationships that prove this point.

If love for God is lacking then more time should be spent in His word. Any time spent there will not be wasted. Eyes that have been opened to behold the glory of God in the Gospel will perceive the loveliness of God in the Scriptures as long as they are actually taking time to look!

Our love for God grows as our true knowledge of Him increases, thus our love will be perfected when we finally see him and know him beyond the dim lens of sin.

The Parish Concept

300px-St_Pancras_Old_Church_in_1815

In the Anglican church, a parish is not only a reference to a church, but a defined geographic area over which a vicar has jurisdiction. The vicar of that parish is responsible for the souls, the spiritual well-being, of everyone in that geographic area. Within the parish the minister has the responsibility to visit the sick, care for the poor and widows, and most importantly – make certain that every individual has heard the Gospel message.

Reflection on this institution has led me to an idea which I am calling “The Parish Concept”. As I work at planting Immanuel Church of Fujairah, I have a burden to see the saints built up and equipped to do the work of Gospel ministry in this city. This city is overflowing with people who have never heard the Gospel and there is a lot of ground to cover. As I have reflected on ways to mobilize the church to reach this city with the Gospel, I have pondered on implementing the idea of parish in the lives of every believer in the church.

What I mean when I say I want to introduce believers in the church to the idea of parish is this:

  1. Show them that God has sovereignly placed them in their neighborhood and job for his purposes. Also, teach them that the same applies to their neighbors and co-workers. (Acts 17)
  2. Prove to them from the Scripture that they are called to love their neighbor in a tangible, above-and-beyond kind of way (Lk 10) and that this love is ultimately shown through obedience to the Great Commission (Matt 28) and lives consistent with our identity as ambassadors for Christ (II Cor 5).
  3. Make the connection between points one and two. God’s sovereignty and the call to Gospel proclamation and lives of sacrificial love. This makes the area where each believer lives, works, and plays their individual “parish” they have been assigned by God himself. That believer is called to seek the spiritual well-being of every person in that parish and to love them in tangible ways.
  4. I then need to disciple and encourage believers to take practical steps toward fulfilling their responsibilities. Encourage them to start with the people in the dwellings or desks closest to them and then to branch out until everyone in their sphere of influence has heard the Gospel and knows that this Christian in their life is someone who loves them.
  5. Through this the goal is that every person in our city would hear the Gospel and personally known a genuine disciple of Jesus Christ.

This doesn’t happen over night, but it is a helpful concept for me as I consider how to mobilize the people at Immanuel Fujairah to reach this amazing city and beyond with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Our hope is not in methods, but in the Spirit of God working through the Word and I long for the Word to be quick on the lips of every Christian here! It is my prayer that every believer in Fujairah would take ownership of the “parish” that God has placed them in and that they would be faithful witnesses there.

Abortion & The Sovereignty of Man

The pro-choice ideology, the idea that a woman has the right to abort the life growing in her womb, springs from the natural result of the belief that man has the right to self-sovereignty, the right to choose. This idea was birthed in the western context both from homo-centric enlightenment ideology and the theological traditions that range from Palagianism to Arminianism. The exaltation of the sovereign choice of man over the sovereignty of God begins in very innocent, optimistic, idealistic forms leading from one implication to the next until babies are being murdered on the basis of a right to choose life or death – a choice that belongs ultimately to God alone.

    It is God who alone has the right to give life and to take it and it is presumptuous for man to wrest that right and apply it to himself. It is said that man has the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. This view is untenable for those with a Christian worldview, but it is the view from which the “right” for abortion comes. For what happens when an unexpected pregnancy gets  in the way of the life you want to live or the liberty that you enjoy? What happens when you have a feeble relative in the nursing home who is getting in the way of your pursuit of happiness? What happens when your 5-year plan is interrupted by the diagnosis that the baby inside has Down’s Syndrome?  We are so quick to latch onto ideas that sound right and noble without following those ideas through to their logical end when applied to a mankind that is depraved and futile in their thinking.

   Life is a gift from God, both physical and spiritual, at it his work that brings it about.  Beware of the fruit of exalting the sovereignty of man (his right to make choices divorced from an objective standard of truth) against the sovereignty of God. Ideas are seeds and they always bear fruit that are proof of their origin. The fruit being born in America is not foreign from what was planted by its founders despite their intentions. America is reaping exactly what was sown.

Christ – Promises Fulfilled & Promises Guaranteed

” For all the promises of God find their Yes in [Christ]. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.”

II Corinthians 1:20

   It is a marvel to consider the truth that the whole of Scripture testifies to this verse. If you would ask me why I believe the Bible and that it is inspired and inerrant, one of the foundational reasons I would have to give is this verse. All of the promises of God, of blessing and of judgment, fulfilled and yet to be fulfilled, find their “yes” in Christ.

     The list is exhaustive but as we stroll through the ages of redemptive history we can find ourselves catching our breath as we behold the truth of this verse in some of the prominent stories and promises of the Bible.

     In Christ, God fulfilled his promise to Eve and to the serpent. “I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise you head, and you shall bruise his heel”. Christ, the offspring of the woman, faced temptation in the wilderness and was victorious, not being swayed by the Devil’s twisting of the words of God as was Eve. And finally he suffered, died and rose again, triumphing over his enemies.

   In Christ, God fulfilled his promise to Abraham that through his seed “all the families of the earth shall be blessed”(Gen 12:3). A reflection of the kingdom reality that Christ ushered in and the mandate he left for his church, that the seed of Abraham, vaster than the sand in the sea would not be only of Abrahamic bloodline, but from the bloodline of Adam’s fallen race.

    In Christ, God fulfilled the Passover promise that he made to his people that “when I see the blood I will pass over you.” Giving them a symbol of the blood that would be shed one day and if applied to the heart by like faith would reckon that one righteous and spare that one from the wrath of God.

    In Christ, God fulfilled his promise that David would always have an heir on his throne (II Sam 7:16-17). Now the risen, glorified King, root of Jesse, reigns on an eternal throne which shall never cease!

    In Christ, God fulfills what he declared in Exodus 34 The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty”. For in Christ God is true to his unchanging character as both just and merciful. How can God be so merciful and yet still execute his justice by not clearing the guilty? The answer is by providing a substitute in Christ, who by his perfect life and dual nature as the God-Man, bore as man the sins of man in order that God might be just in justifying the wicked. Then he was resurrected as a proof that God was true to what he spoke through the prophet Isaiah that  “Out of the anguish of his soul He shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities“(Is 53:11).

   Many more are the promises that God declared to his people. God made covenants with his people, all pointing to an everlasting covenant of grace with Christ as the testator. In Christ, God made good on the promises he made in the old covenant and by sending Christ to live a perfect life and die, then raising him from the grave he made a guarantee that all that would live and believe in him would never die for the wages of death had been paid.

   In Christ, God fulfilled his promise that he would pour out his Spirit on mankind (Joel 2:28) and that he would write his law  on their hearts (Jeremiah 31:33). Christ did this by sending the Holy Spirit to dwell in his people (Jn 16:7), after he had ascended, who is now our guarantee, a down-payment, that God will finally make good, through Christ, on all his promises. For dwelling within us is the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead. That Spirit is “quickening our mortal bodies” so that we may be conformed into the image of Christ as we were chose to be before the foundation of the world and finally be raised by that same Spirit in the last day (Rom 8:11, Eph 1:4).

  

  If we look at the Scriptures we see that all of the promises of God find their “yes” in Christ because Christ is at the center of all of those promises, even the promises of judgment and wrath.Consider all of the promises that God has made, then consider how only in Christ is the fulfillment of that promise possible. Make a exercise of this and you will never ceased to be amazed at God’s marvelous dealings with his people! And with a sure hope you will be able to face every day with confidence in the God who out of his existence as Trinity makes promises (Father), fulfills them (through the Son), and guarantees them in the meantime (by the Spirit). Pondering on this is daily a huge encouragement to me and I hope it can be to you as well! Let us then read the word of God, face each day with its joys and trials, all the while uttering our amen to whatever comes, all to the glory of the God who keeps his promises.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑