The Gift of God: The Worthiness of Christ to Eat His Flesh and Drink His Blood

“The Lord Jesus, on the night He was betrayed, took bread, and when He had blessed it, broke it, saying, ‘This is My body.’ In the same manner, after supper, He took the cup and said, ‘This is My blood of the new covenant; do this as often as you drink it.’ For whenever you eat this bread or drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. For this reason, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup in an unworthy manner shall be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. But whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup should examine himself, and in so doing he is to partake of the body and blood of the Lord… If we judged ourselves, we would not be judged by the Lord, for when we are judged by the Lord we are disciplined by Him, so that we will not be condemned along with the world.”

This passage is a beautiful promise, very much like other passages, such as, “Whatever you ask in My Name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son,” and, “Until now, you have not asked for anything in My Name. Ask, and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.” When we partake of the bread that is His body and the wine that is His blood, we are pledging ourselves to Him: we are acting our desire and request to be made one with Him and in Him, as He prayed for us in John chapter 17. We are proclaiming the death of the Lord – that Christ died, and that we live by His death, and that all our hope is in the return in glory of this same Living Lord, of which we have no doubt. So, when it says, “When we are judged by the Lord we are disciplined by Him, so that we will not be condemned along with the world,” it is saying that when we seek this union with His Son, when we accept the union Jesus prayed for us, God will fulfill His promise, He will unite us with Christ, He will fulfill the desire of our hearts. Continue reading “The Gift of God: The Worthiness of Christ to Eat His Flesh and Drink His Blood”

Personal Perfection and Trust and Joy in the Finished Work of Jesus Christ

“Be perfect, therefore, as your Father in heaven is perfect.”

“What shall I render to YHWH for all His benefits to me? I shall take up the cup of salvation and go into the House of YHWH.”

“The blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin.”

“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.”

“God made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

“If we confess our sin, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

“Rejoice in the Lord. I will say it again, rejoice.”

“Your righteousness must exceed that of the scribes and the pharisees.”

“I press forward to the prize of the upward calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

“All things are lawful, but not all things are edifying.”

“For them I sanctify Myself, that they too may be sanctified in Truth.”

As Christians, we are not content with anything less than spotless holiness. What we want is to be like Jesus Christ, our Master and Redeemer. The Holy Spirit lives in us, and we hate sin – we hate sin to the death, literally. We would crucify the flesh and its passions. Indeed, we want to be perfect for our God: anything less than absolute, pure perfection is abominable to us, as it is to Him. It is for this reason that I hate the term, Christian morals. There is no such thing. Christianity is not about morality. Even the strictest code of morality is minimalistic from our perspective; we do not want to be moral, but holy. We are not content with rules we can pass; it is our desire to be spotless, perfect and righteous throughout our entire being, in our thoughts, in our attitudes, in our words, in our actions, in all things. The absolute holiness of Jesus Christ Himself is our standard and our desire. Any imperfection, any falling short, seems to us a horror and sin of unfathomably abominable evil. We detest and hate it. Anything other than the glory of God is unsatisfactory and must be thrown away. We have begun to see God, and so we are beginning to see reality from God’s perspective.

When we fall short, we cannot live with it. We must be perfect and holy. In our inner being, we agree with God. It is His holiness, He Himself, that we want. Yet, we fall short constantly. The imperfection we hate with all our might lives in us, and we do not know the extant of this abomination that seeps into everything we try to do, and mars the inmost attitudes of our hearts. It is not a matter of ‘Am I saved?’ or ‘Will God let me into Heaven?’ (Such a thought may even appear nonsense to us.) It is a matter of, ‘God is holy. I must be holy because my God is holy.’ It is a matter of, ‘I am in love with Jesus. I am enthralled by my Savior. I must be like Him.’ (This is why I would never preach morality. The point is not repentance from sins, but turning to God and repentance from sin.)

When we are plagued by our failure, by our abominable imperfection which we hate, where do we turn?

The salvation which God offers us in Christ Jesus is exactly what we want – and more. It is, more importantly, what He wants. It is in accordance with His nature. What Jesus Christ died to do is to give us His own righteousness. When He sends His Holy Spirit into our hearts, He makes us new creations. The reason that He became sin on our behalf was that we might become the very righteousness of God in Him. In Colossians, we read, that “you are perfect in Him.” When God says something, it is true, it is truer than we can understand. His word is truth. In Christ Jesus – which means, in truth – we are the perfect, spotless, holy righteousness of God. We are the reward and the righteousness of the Savior who became sin in our place. We are more righteous and holy than we will ever be able to understand.

Yet, we see sin everywhere in our lives. We hate it and struggle against it, and we know we would rather die than continue to sin, and yet we sin. Our love is imperfect. Sometimes, we are afraid to trust that we really are the righteousness of Christ, perfect in Him. We would not only cry for an hour about this horror of imperfection, but we feel like sitting in misery over our failure, our abominable inadequacy, the unspeakable evil of the sin which still infects us. We do not want to rejoice.

We rebel against trusting and believing God, living in the freedom that He has bought for us, and rejoicing in what He has done because of pride.

On the cross, the perfect Son of God took upon Himself all our sin. In some sense, remaining wholly innocent, pure, and righteous, He became our sin. When He was crushed, sin was crushed. When He died, sin died. When He was destroyed, sin was destroyed. He did away with our sin, so that it is no more. When He rose, He had filled death by His life – His blood – and sin by His righteousness – His blood. All our imperfections are simply gone in the sight of God – which means, in truth. He won the righteousness of God for us – this is absolutely amazing! We do not have the righteousness of a mere creature, but the righteousness of God Himself – of God as Man. This is more than we could have ever imagined, ever imagined that we longed for, and yet, honestly, anything less than this would be unsatisfying to us. God made us for Himself.

In the light of this, we have no right not rejoicing. Jesus, by the price of His own blood, saved us from sin and hell. He suffered what no mere man can ever suffer. He did everything, He paid the greatest price. God Himself died. Think about that! God Himself – always righteous and holy – was made sin for us. This is the most horrible, the most terrible, the most glorious, and the most beautiful thing that ever was done! The righteous and ultimate Man was forsaken for us. He DIED. It would be the greatest insult to His sacrifice and His love not to rejoice in what He has done for us. It would be to say, ‘No, what You did isn’t enough. I am not content with this gift You give me.’ Is that not a horrific insult to pay to Love Himself? It would be to say, ‘No; I am not content with You. Your righteousness is not good enough.’ Could there be a more terrible insult to pay the Eternal King, the All in All, the Righteous One? It would be to say, ‘No; I don’t believe what You did is real.’ Can there be a more abominable insult to pay Truth?

Whatever we may feel, however we may fail, Jesus Christ is the Faithful and True. We really were crucified with Him. We really were buried with Him. We really were raised with Him. We really are seated in the heavenly places with Him. This is the truth. Let us rejoice in Him! Look to Him and what He has done. It is satisfactory. It is more than satisfactory. It is real! “Let God be true, and every man a liar.”

We rejoice because He deserves that we rejoice. He is enough.

Let us rejoice in everything – even our view and experience of our own abominable imperfection – because it helps us to see more truly the amazing wonder of what Christ has done for us and in us – that He makes sinners perfect saints – in every opportunity to trust Him.

“Worship YHWH with trembling; rejoice before Him with fear.”

 

Copyright 2018 Raina Nightingale

All Things Are Yours: Knowing and Praising God in Pleasure and Pain

One of the beautiful truths about the Christian life, is that God always gives us His absolute best – which, of course, points us to His Son, because it is for us in His Son that He gives us His absolute best, which is Jesus Christ Himself, in Jesus the Son. All things He makes, in our lives, to be very good. Not a single hair of our heads will perish. That is, nothing will be lost. Nothing will turn out to the worse. Nothing will be less than the absolute best and perfect. The statement that not a hair of our heads will perish was made in the context of being persecuted, hated, and killed, and it holds for all of life. “What, then, shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son for us, but freely gave Him over for us all, how will He not, with Him, graciously give us all things?” writes St. Paul, and in another place, “For all things are yours, whether Paul, or Cephas, or Apollos, or the world, or the present, or the future, or life or death – all are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.” Everything was made for us. Pleasure is made for us. Suffering is made for us. Life is for us. Death is for us. Continue reading “All Things Are Yours: Knowing and Praising God in Pleasure and Pain”

Love’s Wounds in Beauty Glorified: The Christian’s Comfort in the Scars of Christ

“And in the midst of the throne, there stood a Lamb, standing as if slain.”

“Put your fingers here in my hands and your hand in my side.”

“Since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, let us hold firm our confession of faith. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weakness, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we ourselves, yet without sin.”

“It was fitting for the Messiah to suffer these things, and so to enter His glory.”

“He who descended to the depths is He who ascended to the heights, in order that He might fill all in all.”

Enthroned in heaven, His humanity glorified with the glory of God, Jesus bears the scars of His crucifixion. God is everywhere, and all of God is everywhere. “All things were made through Him, and apart from Him was made nothing that was made.” Again, it is spoken of the Word, “Who upholds all things by the word of His power.” Again, it is written, “In Him all things hold together.” In a beautiful psalm, we read, “If I make my bed in Sheol, You are there. Behold, if I take the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there Your hand will uphold me.” Continue reading “Love’s Wounds in Beauty Glorified: The Christian’s Comfort in the Scars of Christ”

What’s Amazing is What God Does: The Place Where Courage Is Impossible

“If we live, we live to the Lord and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or we die, we belong to the Lord, for to this end Christ both died and lives again, that He might be the Lord both of the dead and of the living.”

“You will be betrayed even by friends and family, and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all men because of Me, and not a hair of your heads will perish.”

I’m writing this right now because I read a line about how someone was an amazing hero of the faith one too many times. People talk so much about how amazing some martyr was; how heroic some missionary was. They talk about being inspired by the courage of the “heroes of the faith,” and other such things. They talk about how, unlike how the world thinks, meekness isn’t cowardice, but strength under control, a form of courage. I remember once, years ago, when I said that I enjoyed reading about the lives of other Christians and God’s work through them to a lady who had been telling me about someone who was preaching the Gospels to thousands at once in one of the many countries where this is often rewarded with persecution, torture, and death. She said to me, “Yes, it’s amazing what these people are willing to do.” I almost stepped backwards. “No, actually,” I said. “What’s amazing is what God can do.” Continue reading “What’s Amazing is What God Does: The Place Where Courage Is Impossible”

The Glorified Humanity of Christ

In the first chapter of Romans, there is a verse which some translations render, “declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection,” and which another renders, “by the resurrection, appointed to be the Son of God with power.”

I am not here interested in which is the more faithful translation of the Greek, for both emphasize different truths (if they are, indeed, different truths). The resurrection is the greatest proof of Jesus’ deity; it is the greatest proof that He is indeed, who He claimed to be, one with the Almighty and the Almighty Himself; the Son of God who will come on the clouds of heaven at the right hand of the Majesty; the one whose acknowledgement is eternal life and whose disregard and condemnation is everlasting death. When God raised Jesus from the dead, He proved to the whole world that Jesus is His beloved Son and said to humanity with a voice louder than that with which He spoke at Jesus’ baptism in the river Jordan and on the mountain of transfiguration, “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well-pleased: listen to Him!” Continue reading “The Glorified Humanity of Christ”

Blessed are the Poor in Spirit and Our Daily Bread

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

“Give us this day our daily bread.”

To be poor in spirit means to recognize that we are creatures. This may well be a description of repentance, for sin began when Satan told Eve that if she ate of the forbidden fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil she would be like God and she and Adam ate the fruit. Sin is creatures trying to be self-sufficient, trying to be their own creator, and so repentance means turning from this desire and insistence on being our own and our own creator and recognizing that we are creatures.

It is because we are creatures that we are completely dependent on the grace of God. Continue reading “Blessed are the Poor in Spirit and Our Daily Bread”

Lessons from Jonah, the Whale, and Nineveh: Salvation is of the Lord

God alone is mighty to save. “For there is no restraint to YHWH to save, by many or by few,” or by the strong or the weak.

The most successful prophet in the Old Testament appears to be Jonah. God told him to go to Nineveh, and tell the people there that God would destroy their city in forty days because of their sin. Hating the Ninevites and fearing that they might repent and God would spare their city, Jonah ran away. After a storm arose that threatened to drown the ship in which he was fleeing from God, and after being thrown into the sea and swallowed by a whale, Jonah finally repented. He went to Nineveh and preached the message God had given him. The people were eager to respond, and sent riders across the city spreading Jonah’s message ahead of him. Everyone repented in sackcloth and ashes and prayed to God for mercy. This made Jonah so angry that he went outside the city to watch and to mope. Continue reading “Lessons from Jonah, the Whale, and Nineveh: Salvation is of the Lord”

Free to Live and Free to Die

“We who are free to worship and serve the Lord must never forget those who are not.” At first glance these words seem, at least to me, to be saying that Christians should remember, pray for, and preach the Gospel to those who do not know that God sent His Son to be the sacrifice for our sins. They appeared, though, in a context of remembering our brethren who are persecuted (which is clearly commanded in the Bible)! I believe they were attributed to Chuck Swindoll. However, who said them does not matter. What matters is not even that anyone said them. What matters is many Christians think that, in persecution, Christians are not free to worship and serve the Lord; to be more careful, many who think they are Christians think this, and many Christians think that they think this. Continue reading “Free to Live and Free to Die”