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The Sovereign Love of God

I love the thought that God is completely sovereign over all the details of my life – and the world. It is, to me, a great expression of His love and a necessary ground of my great confidence in Him. I need not fear any failure of mine, any sin, any weakness: God in love is sovereign, and He will not permit the purposes of His love to fail because of my sinfulness. When I proclaim the Gospel, I need not fear either my inadequacy or my sin, because God is in control, and He loves me and everyone else. I need not fear any power of man: if I am tortured, God’s love will have chosen – out of perfect, stunning, all-encompassing love that staggers all imagination, love tenderer than a mother’s love for her newborn child and I mean that! – every throb of pain, every firing of the nerves, every detail, great or small, whether of intensity or quality or anything else, so that I will receive it as by His tender lovingkindness. When I look around at the world, I know that the brightness and colors of the clouds at sunset, that every hair on every blade of grass, is what and where it is because of God’s express will, Continue reading “The Sovereign Love of God”

The Reward of Christ and the Glory in His Saints

“He is coming, and His reward is with Him and His recompense accompanies Him.”

Whenever I read or remember these words I see two pictures in my mind, that mean the same thing: I see Jesus, coming, with all His holy ones, redeemed by His blood, around Him, the reward of His suffering, the recompense of His blood. I see Jesus, coming, to give Himself in fullness of glory to all His own. For, we read also, “We do not yet know what we shall be, but we know that we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is,” and, “Righteous Father, I want those You have given Me to be with Me, where I am, so that they may see My glory, the glory which You have given Me because You loved Me before the world was.” In Revelations, we read that they sing, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain… for You purchased for God a people with Your blood, out of every nation, language, and tribe, and they shall be a kingdom and priests to our God.”

I believe there is only One who will be praised, honored, and rewarded for His deeds: Jesus Christ. Continue reading “The Reward of Christ and the Glory in His Saints”

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”

Grace and Truth: Perfection and Joy in Jesus and His Finished Work

“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. Continue reading “Grace and Truth: Perfection and Joy in Jesus and His Finished Work”

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”

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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!

(For, faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God, which is Jesus Christ, for, in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.) He said, “I have raised this Man, Jesus of Nazareth, from the dead. His miracles were My power. His words were My words, as He told you. He died by My will, as a sacrifice for sins, and I have raised Him from the dead, that all creation may know that He has triumphed over sin and death and I have accepted the sacrifice of His blood, and that you may look to Him and have life. He is My Son and My Anointed One. Kiss the Son with trembling, lest you perish from the way, for His wrath may flare up in a moment. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!”

At the same time that the resurrection is the greatest declaration that Jesus, this same Jesus who was crucified, is the One and Only Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God, begotten not made, of one substance with the Father, and for the same reasons, it is also the supreme glorification of His humanity.

In His resurrection and ascension (for, are they not the same eternal reality, breaking on this world of time in two different points?) Jesus was glorified as a Man who still bears the wounds of His crucifixion. He came in the likeness of sinful flesh, in the very same weak and frail flesh, subject to temptations and suffering, that is ours, with just this one difference: His flesh was sinless. Nonetheless, He came as, with regards to His humanity, not yet perfected, though there has never been and can be no change in His perfect, eternal Godhead. He was innocent; He knew no sin; indeed, He was perfect, but His flesh was not yet perfected. He came in the likeness of us all. He entered the virgin’s womb and was born, an infant needed to nurse, unable to talk or walk, and gradually, as every human being, His manhood matured and He grew in wisdom and in favor; He grew into a man. His humanity was made perfect by His growing and living, by His suffering and dying, and by His resurrection and glorification. In Him, God condemned sin in the flesh not only by means of His sacrificial death, in which sin was righteously judged and cast as far as the east is from the west and trampled underfoot, but, God also condemned sin in His flesh as He lived the perfect life, fulfilling the entire Law and all righteousness (note, it is all righteousness, not just some righteousness and no unrighteousness) in the same flesh in which are we ourselves; only, in us this flesh is sinful, and in His it knew no sin. God condemned sin by the righteousness of Jesus Christ in His life and by His death on the cross. As is the lot of all men, He suffered. “He was made perfect in that He suffered,” we read in Hebrews, for otherwise He could not be a perfect man, for men suffer; He suffered perfectly; He suffered all there is to suffer, so that no suffering is left which He has not tasted, and He suffered in perfect love and obedience. He was tempted; when He was born His humanity was innocent, but not perfected, not proven, not yet in the fullness of that which it was and was to be. He was perfected in temptation. He was tested and stood the test. He was tried, and in Him the fire of purging found no impurities to clean, but proved that He was purest gold; in Him there was no lack. All of this contributed to the perfection of His humanity. When He died for our sins, and in His flesh atoned for all our impurities, when all our sins were taken away, then, indeed, did He perfect humanity; He perfected the flesh that He took from a woman, the same flesh that is in all men.

However, His work went beyond that. The perfection which He completed was a perfection even Divine. Having condemned sin in the flesh, having been found innocent and made perfect in the flesh and having purged and perfected the flesh, He rose from the dead. This is both the proof that He was indeed perfect and perfected and yet greater glory and perfection. He said, “I am going back to the Father,” and by this He did not mean that His Godhead had left heaven, had left the Father, and that now He was returning. God the Son cannot leave heaven: “the Word was with God and the Word was God.” His Divinity is the same Divinity that is the Father’s, and He is in closest relationship to the Father, always, without change, for the Godhead is eternal and cannot change, as the Name, YHWH: I AM WHO I AM. No, His humanity was going to the Father, henceforth to share in the glory of His Deity. His humanity, and in Him humanity, was to be glorified with the glory that was His before the world began. This glory – this glory that was the same glory He has always had, and also a new and greater glory, as it says in Philippians, “So God also highly exalted Him,” that is, gave Him a new and greater glory, for the same glory of God was now also the glory of Man – would be through His suffering, through His sacrificial death, and in His resurrection and ascension, as He tells us, “For them I sanctify Myself, that they too may be sanctified in Truth,” and He said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” We also read in Hebrews, “but we do see Jesus, because of the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor.”

In His humanity, He was appointed the Son of God with power by the resurrection, because He is the Son of God and in His resurrection that humanity was raised into the glory and power of His Godhead. Having risen from the dead and ascended, He sat down at the right hand of the Father as the Son of Man. (Some have said that the term, “Son of Man,” appearing as it does in the Book of Daniel, does not emphasize or speak of the humanity of Jesus Christ, but I believe that is mistaken: throughout the Old Testament, human beings are referred to as “the sons of man,” and the prophets are called, “son of man,” – thus pointing us to Jesus, the ultimate Son of Man, for as in Adam all die, so in Christ all shall be made alive, yet the trespass is not to be compared with the gift, for as the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more abundantly, through the obedience of the one man the many shall be made alive, by the gift of grace in Christ Jesus. For the condemnation followed one trespass and brought condemnation to the many, but the gift came after many trespasses and brought justification to the many. Again, it says, “The first man, Adam, became a living soul. The second man, Jesus Christ, became a life-giving spirit.” As for the Son of Man in Daniel, specifically, I believe it points to the risen and glorified humanity of Jesus Christ – why else would the term be used? God lives in eternity, and the Son of Man who would be Divine that was shown to Daniel in the prophetic vision is the risen and glorified Jesus Christ. He was showing Daniel that there would be a Man who was God Himself.) Jesus Christ, in His very humanity that was crucified as a sin offering, has been raised again and the very humanity that suffered for our sins reigns over all the kings of the earth and knows all things. In the resurrection, His humanity was glorified with the glory of the Son of God, and in the flesh He was glorified with the glory of which He emptied Himself in taking on that flesh. The very flesh that was nailed to the cross is present with us and dwells in us everywhere. Just as God, and all of God, is present everywhere, so all Jesus’ humanity is present everywhere. In the same flesh that was pierced with a spear, every eye will see Him and He will judge the nations. In that same flesh, He is with us now. It is not only in His Deity, but in His perfected and glorified flesh, the very same flesh in which He was tempted and crucified, that Jesus Christ is everywhere and dwells within believers – and we in Him. In fact, it is through dwelling in His humanity that we dwell in His Deity, for the Deity and the humanity are of one person: the Son of God. It is in Him – in His humanity, in His resurrection – that we are perfected and glorified. His death is our justification, but His resurrection is our salvation.

Even so it is, that He promises in Revelations, “Just as I have overcome and sat down with My Father upon His throne, so to the one who overcomes will sit down with Me on My throne,” and we overcome because He was overcome! We share in His victory! “In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” “Take heart! I have overcome the world.” “Apart from Me, you can do nothing.”

 

Copyright 2018 Raina Nightingale

Salvation: Heaven From the Foundations of the World

“Those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He might become the firstborn among many brethren. Those He predestined, He also called. Those He called He also justified. Those He justified He also glorified.”

This indicates something of the nature of salvation to me. Salvation is an eternal work. In Philippians, Paul writes, “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to do His good pleasure.”

Salvation is the action of God. Just as Jesus is “the Lamb who was slain from the foundation of the world,” so salvation is eternal. God has not only foreknown and predestined His children from before the world began. He has also justified them and even glorified them Continue reading “Salvation: Heaven From the Foundations of the World”

Salvation: Sharing in the Life of the Triune God

One of the most mind-boggling verses in all the Scriptures may be: “I have given them the glory that You gave Me, that they may be one as We are one, Father, You in Me and I in them. May they be brought to complete unity that the world may know that You sent Me and have loved them even as You have loved Me.” The Scriptures abound with similar promises. “To him who overcomes, I will give to sit with Me on My throne, even as I have overcome and sat down with My Father on His throne.” “I know My sheep and My sheep know Me, even as I know the Father and the Father knows Me.”

The goal of the Christian life, salvation itself, is, apparently, a participation in the life of the Trinity. This may well be the greatest mystery in Christianity; Continue reading “Salvation: Sharing in the Life of the Triune God”

I Will Look Upon Your Face in Righteousness: How Can I Envy Though My Enemies Have All Their Desire

I was reading Psalm 17:15 and verse 15 specifically stood out to me. “As for me, I will look upon Your face in righteousness, I will be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness.” In the context on the previous verses, “Arise, O YHWH, confront him, bring him low; Deliver my soul from the wicked with Your sword and from men with Your hand, O YHWH, from men of this world whose portion is in this life and whose belly You fill with Your treasure; They are satisfied with children, they leave their abundance to their babes,” 15 is powerful. It is as if David is saying, “How can I envy, even though my enemies have all their desire? Yes, Lord, give my enemies all that this world can offer, if You will. It does not concern me. I have something far greater, far better, far more everlasting. I shall look upon Your face in righteousness, I shall be satisfied with Your likeness when I awake, You who are my only good. [Ps. 16:2]” Continue reading “I Will Look Upon Your Face in Righteousness: How Can I Envy Though My Enemies Have All Their Desire”

(Part II) The Wonder of the Trinity: Father, Son, Spirit

We tread on very holy ground here. How sacred and unfathomable are the mysteries of the Trinity and the union of the Persons of our Triune God! Let us approach with care in reverence and awe, and take warning that if we think that we have grasped Him with our minds, it is not God upon whom we gaze.

This mystery of the relationships of the Persons of YHWH is far deeper, higher, and wider than is the truth that God is One. It is hidden under His train, veiled by the unapproachable light and the rainbow like an emerald that is round the throne. Let us take care that we do not seek to delve into the hidden things the knowledge of which God has reserved to Himself alone, but approach in worship to receive that which He would disclose to all His children, to whom His gift is Himself. All we see is but a sliver of the Infinite One, and words are so poor; I can only point, and hope that someone might see that which I have seen or greater yet, or at least realize that that which they think they have seen they have not seen, for they have not seen rightly. Continue reading “(Part II) The Wonder of the Trinity: Father, Son, Spirit”