The Humiliation and the Glory

The Infinite One who encompasses the worlds, the Lord of Majesty, becomes a baby in a woman’s womb.

The Lord of Love and Faithfulness is betrayed with a kiss of devotion.

He is bound with ropes that can not exist for a moment apart from His active will by men who can not breathe except that He allows it.

The King in whose presence the seraphs cover their faces and feet is mocked and spat upon by sinners.

The King of all kings and Lord of all lords is sentenced to death by a conquered people and a mere government official. Continue reading “The Humiliation and the Glory”

(Part II) The Promises of God: Prayer – Whatever You Ask

Over and over again, Jesus said things like, “Whenever two or more of you agree on anything that you ask in My Name it shall be given you,” or “Whatever you ask in My Name, I will do,” or “Until now you have not asked for anything in My Name. On that day you will ask, and I do not say that I will petition the Father on your behalf; no, the Father Himself loves you, because you have believed in My Name,” or, this, in 1st John, “Now, if we ask for anything according to His will we know that He hears us, and we know that if He hears us then we have what we asked of Him.” Continue reading “(Part II) The Promises of God: Prayer – Whatever You Ask”

Why The Believers Were Shocked by Peter’s Release: It Wasn’t What They Were Praying For!

I was just reading an interpretation, which I can’t let go, of that part in Acts where the believers are praying for Peter and then can’t believe his release in a Bible Study guide a friend received. The interpretation, which I have seen in more places than I can count, was that that the believers didn’t really expect God to answer their prayers; they’d seen James killed and they were desperately praying for Peter’s release but they didn’t really believe that God could or would answer their prayers.

I’m going to be honest. I can’t stand that interpretation. That’s why I’m writing this article right now. I don’t think the believers were praying for Peter’s release at all. They’d seen God deliver Peter from prison before; Continue reading “Why The Believers Were Shocked by Peter’s Release: It Wasn’t What They Were Praying For!”

(Part I) The Promises of God: Introduction and Psalm 23

First, I’m going to give you some background for why I believe it is necessary to address the staggering nature and meaning of God’s promises. Then, I am going to go through Psalm 23 in the light of other Scriptures. I would like everyone to keep in mind throughout that all the promises are made in Christ and ultimately are Christ, even as we are told “Jesus Christ His Son, who is the only true God and eternal life,” and that it is in Christ that all the promises are “Yes and Amen.”

There is an unfortunate problem in America. There are a lot of people who don’t want to warn would-be believers to count the cost of discipleship. They shrink from telling people what Jesus did: “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. Anyone who loves father or mother or wife or brother or lands more than Me is not worthy of Me.” Continue reading “(Part I) The Promises of God: Introduction and Psalm 23”

The Incarnation: Divine Person, the Man

Jesus Christ is God and Man. The Trinity is hidden in unapproachable light; the Incarnation is an impossible act of the God who does the impossible; perhaps the supreme impossible act of this God. It is at the very heart of our faith and means not only the conception in the womb of the virgin but the entire human life lived by our Lord, His crucifixion, and His glorification. The verse at the heart of the Incarnation is this:

Though being in very nature God, He did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but He emptied Himself and took the nature of a slave, appearing in human likeness. Being found in appearance as a man, He became obedient to the death, even death on a cross. Therefore, God highly exalted Him and gave Him that Name which is above all names, so that at the Name of Jesus every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. (From Philippians chapter 2). Continue reading “The Incarnation: Divine Person, the Man”

What Jesus’ Words Mean in the Context of the Holiness of God

God is holy. That does not just mean that He is pure and sinless. It does not even just mean that He is righteous. God’s holiness means that He is pure, sinless, and righteous, but it is more than that. God’s holiness means that He is completely Other. He is Himself and completely unlike any of His creation (there is a kind of likeness between God and His creation, but I cannot go into that here, and I believe that that is just another way in which God is so holy, so other, so completely unlike His creation, that even that statement must be qualified).

Generally, we associate light with holiness. The Bible also does this and there is great truth in it, but so that we may see how far beyond our thoughts is the reality of God’s holiness, God also gives us images of darkness and destruction for His holiness. Continue reading “What Jesus’ Words Mean in the Context of the Holiness of God”

(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”

(Part I) The Wonder of the Trinity: God is One

God is One. There are three distinct Divine Persons.

These two truths have been held by Christians throughout the ages. They form the basis for our understanding of the faith. With the doctrines of the Person and Work of Jesus Christ and the Incarnation they stand at the very center of the Christian faith. Indeed, without a right understanding of the Nature of God and the Trinity the mystery of the Incarnation is nonsense, and without the Incarnation the Cross and Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ are equally nonsense.

In order even to understand the incomprehensibility of the Trinity, we must have an understanding of the truth that God is One.

This means more that there is only one God. I would like to say that it means that God is God. Continue reading “(Part I) The Wonder of the Trinity: God is One”

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The Image of God and the Firstborn over all Creation: God must be all in all

It is only fitting that in all things good God should reign supreme, that everything that is not rebellion, that is, defiance against His nature and law, God should fill. There shall be no goodness had by any creature, no good role held or enacted by any creature, that does not belong to God!

This is fulfilled in God’s Messiah. You may say that it is against God’s nature to obey, to submit, to suffer limitations or pain, to die. I say that it is against God’s nature for there to be any goodness which is not His – in fact, I say that it is downright impossible for there to be any goodness which was not first God’s (don’t worry about time and chronology right now – God is immutable in eternity, and there is a sense in which one can say that anything God will do He has done from eternity; though Jesus died on Calvary outside Jerusalem just under two thousand years ago, He is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world). You see, God’s nature is the rule of goodness and the measure of all things, and so there can be no goodness which is not found in Him. God is God and we are not, and there are goodnesses which are His to which no creature can aspire, and to which if any creature tries to aspire, that creature then becomes bad and a rebel and falls from any nearness to God, but there is no goodness which He does not have, which is not found in Him. In all things, God must be All in All, God must fill all things, all things must be summed up in God, all things must be by Him and for Him and through Him and in Him. Because of God’s absolute perfection, supremacy and authority, it is against His nature for there to be anything good which is not His and does not source from Him.

In the very beginning, before even time or space came to be, God submitted to God, and so consecrated submission. There is no doubt that submission and obedience is often good, and not a sign or cause of inferiority. Children are to obey parents, but such submission and obedience does not mean that children are less human than parents. Wives are to submit to husbands, but such submission does not mean that women are not human as much as men, or that they have less dignity, or even that their minds are inferior. Employees obey their bosses, but no one thinks that this is because they are somehow less human or inferior humans or have less dignity (doubtless, often enough a boss is better at one thing and his employee at other things, though human society is very marred, and sometimes people are in places it seems backwards, according to their natural talent or their moral character). However, it is obvious that submission or obedience is not bad, or even a sign of inferiority. So it is that, from the days of eternity, the Son, who is Himself the radiance of the Father, submits to the Father in perfect freedom and love, not because He must or because He is in any way inferior, but because He is the Son and the Father is the Father and so it is in accord with their perfectly united nature and will. The submission of the Son is an act as free, as voluntary, as uncoerced, as deliberate and chosen, as is any other act of God, be it speaking the world into existence. In the same way, the Father seeks, from the foundations of eternity, to glorify His Son and exalt Him over all and in all.

So, also, Jesus the Messiah became a man, the man (God created man to be His unique and crowning work and ruler over creation, as it were, to represent God to the rest of the creation, almost, in a way, one might say, as the ultimate or best creation). If there is any goodness ever found in being weak, suffering, or dying, it must be because God has done them all, and they are consecrated by Him. If suffering is to be consecrated, God must become a man, for in His own nature He can not suffer. Jesus Christ is perfect God and perfect man. He is the consummation of all things. He is perfect, uncreated, the Glory of Eternity, the image of the invisible God, and He is also the firstborn over all creation, the firstfruits of all creation. Christ must be, in all things, the Best and the Fullness, for He is the image of His Father and the One God loves to glorify and glory in. Creation must be offered to God in Christ, its best must be Christ and all that is good in it must be in Christ. Christ is God and Man, All in All; He descended into the depths in order that He might also rise to the heights, as the One who fills all in all.

Jesus the Messiah is really, truly man, and all that is good in man He is in perfection, as well as being the very Glory of God, the fullness of God, the One and Only Son of God, possessing perfectly all the attributes of the Divine Nature. Jesus the Messiah is the King; He rules all things, His kingdom will never end, nothing happens that He does not choose to permit, and one day God will establish His throne in the sight of the nations so that every knee will bow to Him and all will know that He reigns and none will have strength to defy His commands. Jesus the Messiah is the Prophet; He gives to men the very words of God, He tells them the decrees of the Most High. He teaches to humans the things of God. Jesus the Messiah is the Priest; it is He who offers the sacrifice that atones for sins and appeases the wrath of God and gains His favor. It is He who, by virtue of that sacrifice, pleads with God on behalf of His people and obtains mercy for them. It is through Him that humans can approach God and can find mercy, grace, and help in time of need. Jesus Christ is the Sacrifice; the sacrifice He offers is Himself. He it is who purchases forgiveness and appeases the wrath of God, it is the offering of His body that satisfies the demands of justice against us and gains for us favor from God. It is by virtue of the sacrifice of Himself, by virtue of His own merit and His own suffering, that He pleads with God, and that we can approach God in Him and find mercy and help. Jesus the Messiah is the Judge; it is He who will judge the nations, it is through Him that God will render and pronounce judgment on every human being and on every word, deed, and action. He is the Man God has anointed for all these roles, since He is His perfect and beloved Son. All that He is, I cannot tell. Ten thousand glorious names would not be enough for all He is and does.

To be our Prophet, the Messiah must be both God and man. He must be God, because otherwise He cannot enter God’s presence to receive God’s decrees and revelations, and neither can He properly teach them. He must be man, because otherwise He cannot teach men in a way that will not overpower or overwhelm them, nor can He come close to sinners. To be our Priest, the Messiah must be both God and man. For He must be a man to understand the weaknesses of humans and to empathize with us, and also to offer sacrifice in our stead, and He must be God, for He must be able to enter the blinding and unapproachable light of the Presence to present the sacrifice. To be our Sacrifice, the Messiah must be both God and man, for unless He is man He is not a suitable sacrifice for the sins of humans and in the place of humans, and unless He is God He has neither the worth required to atone for our sins nor the strength to bear them before the wrath of God until all is accomplished. His anointment as Judge too is related to His being Son of Man as well as Son of God; perhaps that fallen humans might be judged by the Man, the perfect man, the man who has withstood all the temptations that have ever befallen the human race, the man who has borne and expiated sin and extended salvation to them for so long, that it might be clear to all how atrocious, abominable and unjustifiable is the sin of the judged and how appropriate is the judgment, and that the One who gives the prize to the saved and purified should be the very One who both won and is that prize. The Messiah to be King must be both God and man, for God made man to rule over His creation, and He promised David that one of His descendants would reign on his throne and on the earth forever, and so a man must be king over creation, and a descendant of David (a man) must be king, and who but God can be the Supreme and Everlasting King?

So, Jesus is the all in all. In Jesus, all is God’s. For there can be no glory or goodness which is not God’s and does not source from Him and find its completion in Him. His Son has become a man, that in the person of Jesus our Messiah, the perfect Son of God and the perfect Son of Man, God would redeem for Himself a people, and the perfection of every goodness, whether Divine or human, would be found in the person of the Man Jesus, so that all creation would be consecrated to God, and God’s glory should be over all and in all, and all goodness should belong to God and be found in Him! Jesus, the God and the Man, has been found perfect in all things – in power, in authority, in glory, in wisdom, in all that pertains to God, and as Man, our prophet and priest and king and judge, perfect in living and in dying, perfect in suffering, perfect in all that human life entails. He is the Son of God and the ultimate and perfect Man, the second Adam, the glory of God and the glory of creation, so that all glory and every goodness is God’s forever, blessed be His name. And in His glory and exaltation, the Father is glorified, for He is the Son of the Father and the radiance of His image.

A few of the Bible verses relevant to the topic above:

Ephesians 1:9-10, 20-23, and 4:10.

Colossians 1:15-20, 2:9.

1 Corinthians 15:28.

John 5:27.

Copyright 2017 Raina Nightingale

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