Posts Tagged ‘salvation’

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.

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To God Alone Be the Glory

May 23rd, 2017

Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but to Your name give glory, because of Your mercy, because of Your truth. (Psalm 115:1 NASB)

Here is a truth that we must be constantly reminded of, that only God deserves the glory.

Glory, as we use the word, has two basic meanings. First, it describes an objective reality. It can be defined as “majesty and splendor,” in the sense of the objective reality of God’s Person. Second, glory can also mean our response to God’s majesty, or “praise, renown, fame, prestige, honor, recognition.” The praise of heaven is the praise of angels, who know clearly the difference between truth and falsehood, and between reality and pretense.

Whatever fame or recognition we gain on this earth is fleeting. Even the greatest among us will at the best only be remembered for a few years, perhaps a few centuries, and then forgotten. Who can forget the moving poem of Shelley, “Ozmandius.”

I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare

The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

We are passing away, and if our life is invested solely in ourselves, in establishing our name brand, our glory, we will have chosen to invest our lives in fleeting things. But If our lives are invested in God then we will have chosen the best, for His reality and His glory is eternal.

It is also of a much higher character than ours. Our best is weak and faulty. We do have something to do on this earth. We are to make a difference for Christ. We are to love our spouse and children. We are to love our family. We are to love our neighbor. We are to love even the whole world of people and seek to win them to Christ. We are to do good for Jesus’ sake. We are to grow in our faith and in our knowledge, in our prayer and in our love.

But all of this comes from God and not from within us alone. He deserves praise because of His character, His love, His mercy, and His truth. God is the only One in the universe that can be trusted with real power because He will always use it rightly. We will abuse it, but about God it can be said truly, “He does whatever He pleases” (Psalm 115:3b), and said in joy and gladness. For God is love and truth and peace.

He speaks the truth because He is the truth. He tells us the truth about His love, about our sin, and about His power to forgive and transform. Praise Him and let Him be the center of your soul and of your choices. Worship Him in your heart, considering Him as the greatest good. Trust in Him in all that you do and leave matters in His hands that are beyond your ability to understand or control.

To praise God alone also means to lay aside all personal efforts at attaining salvation and find your acceptance by God in His grace and in His grace alone. John Calvin wrote, “Let us also, in all our approaches unto God, remember to lay aside all self-righteousness, and to place our hopes entirely on his free favor.” We praise Him because our salvation is entirely by Him. We trust in Him, not in our selves or in our devotion or good works.

There is a problem around young people today that many do not feel the sharpness or weight of their sin. They look at the death of Christ on Calvary as something that God did for God’s sake and not really for ours – after all, they reason, we were rather happy in our sin. We are like children playing in disease-infested filth, not realizing the seriousness of our condition. We must constantly be reminded that the cross means God sees our sin very differently, as something terribly serious. We must be converted from this worldly disregard to sin and repent and mourn again for how we have offended God. And we need again to be delighted and amazed, truly grateful, for the gift of God through Jesus Christ.

To Him belongs all praise and glory.

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