So often we teach that abiding in Christ means spending time with Him in His Word and prayer. In so doing, we may tend to neglect a proper emphasis on Christ Himself. It is not the Word of God itself or even prayer that supplies the power and grace to live the Christian life. It is Christ who is our life (see Colossians 3: 4). The Word of God and prayer are the primary means by which the Holy Spirit mediates Christ’s life to us. But we must never so emphasize the Word and prayer, which are God’s instruments of grace, that we lose sight of Christ, who is the source of our life. We must actively “abide in Christ”; that is, we must look to Him by faith to sustain us, nurture us, and provide all that we need to live a life pleasing to God and worthy of Him. When we come to Christ for salvation, we renounce any confidence in ourselves, placing our trust entirely in Him. In the same way, as we live the Christian life, we should continue to renounce any confidence in ourselves, placing our trust entirely in Him. But this does not mean we should become passive in a “let go and let God” approach to the Christian life. Rather, we are called to a dependence on Christ, as well as a dependence on the Holy Spirit, whose work it is to mediate the life of Christ to us, enabling us to live the kind of lives that are pleasing to God.
Adam stood outside the Garden, with God, in the valley of death; ashamed and defeated. God cursed the ground on Adam’s behalf, increased the pain of labor for Eve and spilled the blood of a substitute to make a covering for His wayward and fallen children. In the midst of the first evil, God promised a son to restore the lost and broken relationship that God had enjoyed with man.
In the pain of that moment, betrayed, accused and hated by His own children whom He had given the world, God knew something profound. That all the sons of Adam and Eve would be unable to bear the burden, were too weak and broken to fight back against the dragon. God knew that the Son that was promised would be ravaged and that the battle would cost that Son his life. And God knew, God promised in that moment, at the very beginning, with the tears of betrayal fresh on His cheeks, that the Son whose blood would be spilled for mankind, would be His own Son; His only Son. Continue reading “God Vowed to Walk There With Them”
It is this spiritually organic relationship that forms the basis of true Christian community. It is not the fact that we are united in common goals or purposes that makes us a community. Rather, it is the fact that we share a common life in Christ. There are many organizations, both secular and Christian, whose members work together to pursue common goals. Some of these groups may call themselves communities. But biblical community goes much deeper than sharing common goals, though it ultimately involves that. Biblical community is first of all the sharing of a common life in Christ. It is when we grasp this truth that we are in a position to begin to understand true community.
Isaiah 44:24Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer,
who formed you from the womb:
“I am the Lord, who made all things,
who alone stretched out the heavens,
who spread out the earth by myself,
Isaiah 45:12I made the earth
and created man on it;
it was my hands that stretched out the heavens,
and I commanded all their host.
We learn from this section that the world had a beginning. This might be considered one of the most obvious truths that can be stated, but is one that has always required confirmation by divine revelation, due to man’s impudent mythologies. Continue reading “For the Glory of His name”
Do you suffer? Have you experienced a broken heart or a broken arm? Have you been betrayed or falsely accused? Are you alone and misunderstood? Why in an otherwise decent world, full of beauty and good things, do events occur that have no apparent upside? Why does a good God allow suffering?
We have to turn back to the beginning to find out. Have you ever wondered what Jesus was thinking at the moment that Adam ate the fruit, God the Father, commanded Adam not to eat? Adam bit into the fruit and by his action Adam called Jesus’ Father, our father, a liar. The father whom Jesus loved. Who Jesus adored, served, obeyed and revered. Adam bit into that fruit and called God’s Holiness, evil. In that act, in the midst of a paradise, as the king of earth, Adam bowed down and worshiped Satan before the face of God. Adam chewed the fruit and each bite was a tear and gnarling wrench of God’s heart. And at that moment, Jesus entered His suffering at the site of God’s chief creation, God’s image bearer, prostituting himself for the promises of an idol.
At the dawn of time, still rejoicing over the creation made in and through him, Jesus not only witnessed the treachery of man but Jesus was, in that moment, sentenced to death. And that suffering of the Father and the Son and the Spirit would continue as generation after generation proved themselves to be just as treacherous and evil as Adam.
That suffering continued until Jesus laid down His life only to take it up again as the resurrected LORD. And that suffering continues as Christ’s blood spreads from the rivers to the ends of the earth, cleansing everything Adam stained. And what is even more profound about this moment is that it was decreed by God. It was not a shock to Him. “Man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward,” it says in Job 5:7. Man’s fall plunged God’s world into suffering.
We are fallen creatures and the evil that we experience is the result of what we’ve done to God. No matter what we suffer or experience. Evil that befalls evil creatures is not evil. It’s par for the course. The only one who experiences true evil and who truly suffers is God himself. Continue reading “The Suffering Servant”
Nature confesses there is a God. As Calvin stated:
“There exists in the human minds and indeed by natural instinct, some sense of Deity, we hold to be beyond dispute, since God himself, to prevent any man from pretending ignorance, has endued all men with some idea of his Godhead” (Institutes, 3.1)
The Christian’s knowledge of the Godhead is special because it is relational; it is covenantal. We know who God is because of what he does and what he tell us of himself. The Lord’s creation, actions and disclosures recorded in the bible are the source for our special knowledge of him. Knowledge that goes beyond mere instinct or a vague “sense;” the God of the bible is relational and personal. Continue reading “The Triune God”
The Christian life is full of paradox; apparent contradictions. The doctrine of the Trinity is chief among these paradoxes, but there are many others. How do many members become one body and not lose their identity as individuals? How do husband and wife make one flesh and also not lose their identity as individuals? How does God ordain everything that comes to pass without doing violence to the will of His creatures? These mysteries are means of exhibiting the necessity of faith and demonstrating the transcending Holiness of our God who is Three in One. We believe so we can understand, as Augustine wrote. We live standing on the promises of God.
Another paradox that stems from God’s very nature is the principle of gaining by losing; growth through death; increase through decrease. God increases His glory by giving it away. Every person of the Trinity demonstrates this principle. It is at the heart of the Community of Love. Jesus said that anyone who loses his life gains it (Matthew 10:39). This is not some trick or stumbling contradiction meant to frustrate us. It is God’s reality and He demonstrates this principle over and over again.
The Father gave His Son to gain a people (John 3:16). The Son gave His life to gain a crown (Hebrews 12:2). The Father and Son gave their Spirit to gain a church, a world; a kingdom (Acts1:8; Romans 8:14; Ephesians 2:22). The Spirit gives free and abundant access to throne of God to everyone ordained by the Father and saved by the Son. The Spirit does not withhold, doesn’t horde and does not restrain union and communion with the Father or the Son (Romans 8:15, 15:13; Titus 3:5; 1 Peter 1:12). The Sprit is generous in His ministry. Continue reading “How to Increase Through Decrease”