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”

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”

Temples of the Holy Spirit and Living Sacrifices

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit? You are not your own; you were bought with a price; so honor God with your body.”

Just earlier, Paul was writing about how when a man is joined to a woman he is one flesh with her and that Christians are one in spirit with the Lord. He is explaining to the Corinthians why they should not commit adultery. “Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute?” It is basically the same concept as “Be holy, because I am holy,” “Come out from among them and be separate, you who bear the vessels of YHWH,” “What fellowship then is there between light and darkness? Or what fellowship is there between Christ and Belial?” We are called to holiness because our God is holy; we are being transformed by the glory of the Lord; we are being conformed to the image of Christ. We love Him because He first loved us. Continue reading “Temples of the Holy Spirit and Living Sacrifices”