Posts Tagged ‘redemption’

The Uniqueness of Christ

June 15th, 2017

As surely as God is faithful, our word to you has not been Yes and No. For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not Yes and No, but in him it is always Yes. For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. (2 Cor. 1:18-20 ESV)

Here is a jewel of scriptural insight, a principle that should guide us to understand the Scripture more fully. The entire Bible points toward Christ - either in prophecy and in examples or “types” in the Old Testament or in retrospect, experience, and anticipation in the New Testament. He is the essential Person of our redemption and of our life, and the main character of the book. He is the One through whom God works in our lives today.

The unity of the Bible: There are some who view the Bible as a collection of the random thoughts of lesser deities, superstitious tidbits for reflection of varying levels of inspiration or usefulness. But here is proclaimed a principle that clearly refutes that: “For all the promises of God find their Yes in him.” Everything that God did in the Old Testament pointed to Christ - “These testify of me” said Christ of the Old Testament (John 5:39).

Christ said that He was the “Truth” (John 14:6), not that He spoke the truth but that He was in His very nature Truth itself.

The singleness of the work of God: God has only one work of redemption. It is multi-faceted in its outworking, properly called the “manifold grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10), but the Redeemer is One and only One. All the promises of God are channeled into our lives through Christ, and through our faith in Him. God has sent only one Savior. He establishes only one Church - the Church Invisible comprised of all true believers in Christ. And though there are redeemed through the ages who were people of faith before the gospel of Christ was preached, even their salvation is mediated by Christ.

The ‘Amen’ is in Him as well: The word “Amen” meant the affirmation of the promises of God, and, for Christ, the acceptance of His role in the Father’s plan for salvation. There is solemnness in this fact. Christ called Himself “the Amen” (Rev. 3:14), meaning that He has taken on the responsibility of our redemption. It does not say that he said “Amen” to the plans of God, as though He merely agreed to them. It says He was the Amen, meaning that He Himself worked his salvation.

Looking at the sin of the world, God’s heart was burdened.

The Lord saw it, and it displeased him
that there was no justice.
He saw that there was no man,
and wondered that there was no one to intercede;
then his own arm brought him salvation,
and his righteousness upheld him.
He put on righteousness as a breastplate,
and a helmet of salvation on his head;
he put on garments of vengeance for clothing… (Isaiah 59:15-17 ESV, See also Isaiah 63:5)

Fullness of Redemption Is in Christ! And here is, I believe, Paul’s main point he was making to the Corinthians - that because Christ is the Amen, because all of the promises of God are fulfilled in Him, this means that Christ offers full redemption. Every believer should be thrilled with this truth! All sin is forgiven in Him. Every soul, no matter how affected we may be from sin, can find full redemption in Christ. We have fullness in Him not only of life after death but of life in the Spirit today.

The secret of living abundantly and joyfully is knowing Christ, trusting Him, submitting to Him, worshiping Him, following Him. The Phillips Translation says it this way:

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, whom Silvanus, Timothy and I have preached to you, is himself no doubtful quantity, he is the divine “yes”. Every promise of God finds its affirmative in him, and through him can be said the final amen, to the glory of God.

We are helped in our understanding and spiritual growth by godly teachers of the Bible, but the basic experience of the believer is with Christ, and not with any other teacher. Simply taking His Word and listening to Him speak to our hearts, and meditating on its truth, and speaking to Him, opens for us the very doors of heaven. And God delights to bless people who trust in Christ with joy, wisdom, and abundance of life.

2 Corinthians , , , ,

The Mixture of Good and Evil

March 23rd, 2017

Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. (James 3:10 NKJV)

As it is with ourselves so it is with other believers - we are a mixture of good and evil.

The evil in us is the sinful nature - the misshaped human heart, originally made in the image of God, but now perverted and depraved.

The good in us is from God, either as a remnant of His holy image originally stamped upon us in our creation, or by the new birth freshly placed in us as our new nature, created to be like God.

But it is frustrating to deal with others and to even deal with ourselves. We so easily vacillate between encouragement and discouragement - whether we are dealing with ourselves or with someone else - that we may despair of all that is human. I have a few items in my house and in my office that were either given as appreciation for something that I have done, or that were given and reminds me of the goodness of others. Yet neither the thing that I was rewarded for doing was not done perfectly - there were many flaws in my performance of my ministerial duties.  Nor was the person who is memorialized to me by his own gift a perfect Christian. Some wound us almost as much as they encourage us.

We are left with these ambivalent feelings toward one another. One particular thing I keep in my house just as a reminder to me of the human reality - a man gave a very nice gift to me, and then offended me after he gave it. But I keep it there not just because it is an attractive thing, but because it reminds me of this dual reality of human life. It makes me ask myself, “Am I any different?” And that question encourages me to try and be a better person - to not be like a stream that pours forth both sweet and bitter water.

Out of the same mouth, and from the same life, proceed blessing and cursing. Sometimes we may feel so discouraged by the words and actions of others that we may wish to hide away in solitude. I know many who have cut off relations with others out of hurt, and have done so myself on a very few occasions. Though we have this right, and sometimes we are wise to do so out of self-protection, or to protect the vulnerable, we should exercise it very cautiously. If we decided to withdraw from all that is human that has offended us, where would we go? What fellowship, what family, what friend, what church would we run to? If we decided to cut ourselves off from all that is human that fails or wounds or disappoints, we would cut ourselves off from every human - even ourselves.

I am reminded of an old Chinese tale of a wise man who was traveling from city to city, walking as was the custom of that day. He ran into a traveler going to the city from whence he came. The stranger asked the wise man, “I am going to the place you have just left. Could you please tell me what type of people live there, whether they are good or evil?”

The wise man replied, “I would be glad to but could you first tell me about the people of the place you have just come from?”

The man said, “Oh, they were terrible, treacherous, distrustful, mean-spirited, unreliable. They were unfaithful friends. I am leaving and looking for a new home because I have such hurt in my heart.”

The wise man then replied, “Well, I am sorry to inform you that you will find the same sort of people in the town that I just came from.” And with that news the stranger slumped his shoulders and traveled on to his destiny.

But then, shortly later, the wise man ran into another stranger on the same road, who also asked him the same question.

The wise man replied again, “Could you first tell me about the people of the place you have just come from?”

“Oh,” said the stranger, “They were wonderful friends, kind, trustworthy, faithful. I wept when I left them because we loved each other so much.”

The wise man then replied, “Well, I am happy to inform you that you will find the same sort of people in the town that I just came from.”

There are certainly unreliable and untrustworthy people in the world, even treacherous and evil people, sometimes there are people we need to get away from, but, even so, for the most part, our relations are what we make of them. The scripture says, “For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you” (Matt. 7:2 ESV).

Happiness, peace, joy, and contentment has much more to do with the attitude in our hearts than with our circumstances. More often than not, when we try to run away from our problems, we find the same problems in the place we run to.

And, as it concerns us, we ought not to be both blessers and cursers - “these things ought not to be so.” Grace, blessing, righteousness, peace, encouragement, kindness, gentleness, patience, and love should be the main things we communicate with each other. And it should be the primary filter through which we see one another.

Let us make up our minds not to be discouraged with one another, not even ourselves. Determine not to let failure be the final word about any Christian brother, not even yourself. The transformation of God will be completed in each believer’s life eventually (Phil. 1:6), and that is the final thing, the thing that really matters. Stand firmly in this hope for every believer, and become an excellent forgiver of others. You will be a blessing to others, and a blessing to yourself, for it is our unwillingness to forgive that prevents us from enjoying one another as much as we should.

Daily Devotions, Forgiveness , ,