In the Image of God

“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 are, yet is without sin.”

“For in order to be a suitable high priest, He had to be made like His brethren in every way, sin excepting.”

“He is the image of the invisible God.”

“He is the radiance of His glory and the exact imprint of His nature.”

“’Let Us make man after Our image, in Our likeness.’ So God created man in the image of God; in the likeness of God He created him.”

The Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, the Son, Word, and Image of the Father was incarnated and became man, in the womb of a virgin by the power of the Holy Spirit. Many thousands of years earlier, God made Adam out of the dust of the earth in His own image. Continue reading “In the Image of God”

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”

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”

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”

(Part II) Who Are You That You Fear: I, Even I, Am He…

“I, even I, am He…”

Doesn’t that sound a lot like “I AM?” That’s followed by “who comforts you.” It sounds a lot like, “YHWH is my Shepherd.”

“I, even I, am He who comforts you. Who are you that you fear mortal men, the sons of men who are like grass, that you forget YHWH, your Maker?”

“YHWH is my Shepherd. I will not lack. He makes me to lie down in green pastures, He leads me besides quiet waters… Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil.”

A lot of what I am going to say may apply to very different sins and struggles than that of fear; sin is sin; all sin flows from and to idolatry, from and to death; sin leads to sin. Pride – fear – hatred – at the bottom, they are all the same; they are all opposed to God, to salvation. They are all the opposite of faith; instead of being the gaze of the soul upon God – “One thing I have asked of YHWH, that I shall seek… to gaze upon the beauty of YHWH” – sins are the turning of the soul towards self, the setting of attentions and vision not upon God, but upon self and other selves. “Who are you that you… forget YHWH, your Maker?”

The remedy is beautifully depicted in this verse from Galatians: Continue reading “(Part II) Who Are You That You Fear: I, Even I, Am He…”

(Part I) Who Are You That You Fear: Introduction and the Idolatry of Fear

“You shall not fear what they fear, nor be in terror of what terrifies them. YHWH Himself shall be your terror and your fear; then He will become a refuge, but to the houses of Israel a stumbling stone and a rock of oppression.”

“Do not fear their reproaches, nor be in terror of their slander, for they will all wear out like a garment; the moth will eat them up, but My salvation is forever and My righteousness for all peoples.”

“I, even I, am He who comforts you. Who are you that you fear mortal man, the sons of man who are like grass, that you forget YHWH, your Maker, who stretched out the heavens?”

Fear is not right in the life of a Christian. People have said to me, “You’re only human; of course you’re going to be afraid. Those “fear not” verses are just meant to be a comfort and an encouragement; not a command.” I read in a book once, on that passage where Jesus said not to fear those who can kill the body, but after that can do no more, but to fear Him who can destroy both body and soul in Gehenna, something to the effect of, “If somebody walks into your bedroom in the middle of the night with a knife and says ‘I’m going to kill you,’ are you going to be afraid? Of course you are. He’s going to kill your body. Continue reading “(Part I) Who Are You That You Fear: Introduction and the Idolatry of Fear”

The Day I Would Die

I closed my eyes and waited. Today was the day we would die in the arena. Not long ago, I had been asked to throw incense to Caesar and call him that which no mere man was… call him a god. But, Jesus was Lord. Jesus is always Lord. He never changes. Caesar was a mere mortal, a son of man who would wither like the grass. By the grace of God, we who confessed Jesus as Lord would not die; rather, we who die with Him will also live with Him.

Only God knew what awaited any of us in the arena. Sometimes, it made my blood run cold. But, I knew Jesus was with me. Continue reading “The Day I Would Die”

Hypocrisy in the American Church: A Scandal and Disgrace

In one of the Letters to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul wrote that an immoral person who refuses to repent should be expelled from the Church. Then he writes, “I do not mean for you not to associate with unbelievers; to do that, you would have to leave the world.” So, obviously, the idea is that there should not be persistent public sin in the Church, but, as Jesus did, we should relate to and love people, regardless of whether their sins are particularly heinous or disgusting in whatever way.

This is precisely what I do not see in the American Protestant Church. Others may have the same problem or very similar and closely related problems, but I’m going to focus on a manifestation of this plague which afflicts Protestantism. Continue reading “Hypocrisy in the American Church: A Scandal and Disgrace”

Christian Citizenship

“Our citizenship is in heaven, from which we eagerly await the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”

“Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

“No man can serve two masters. He must love the one and despise the other.”

Christians can only ever offer allegiance to God alone. We were born into various different countries and, by the command of God, we are to pay taxes and offer due honor to the authorities of our country, whether it be the United States of America or Iran or China. We are obligated, by the command of God, to obey the laws of the nation to which we belong, just insofar as the laws of the nation do not conflict with the laws of God. The instant they do, we are obligated to “disobey” them – they are no longer laws and have no more authority – all authority comes from God.

Ultimately, however, our citizenship is only in heaven. We can never be about our country. We are ambassadors of Christ and must always remember that fact. Continue reading “Christian Citizenship”

How Should We, as Christians, Respond to ISIS?

How should we, as Christians, respond to ISIS?

For most things, clarification and disentangling of different meanings present in a word is helpful. I believe that by ISIS we generally mean two things at the same time which together form one thing; namely a group of people who do certain types of despicable things. Firstly, we mean the actions of ISIS. Secondly, we mean the individuals in ISIS. We do not have to feel the same way about both (besides the fact that we could not, even if we wanted)! In order to determine how we should respond to ISIS we are going to try untangle how and why we feel the way we do, why we do not have to, why ISIS is what they are, and how we (being who we are) should react to them (being who they are).

Our Fear of ISIS

I am not, here, interested in the probability of ISIS doing certain things or the power of ISIS to do these things. In some ways, I think, this is simple enough. We are afraid of ISIS and, since fear is a horrible emotion to feel, we try to dull it with hatred. Further, the actions of ISIS are, in fact, completely worthy of hatred. First, why are we afraid? What exactly are we afraid of? Continue reading “How Should We, as Christians, Respond to ISIS?”