Tag Archive for 'Jesus'

Attributes of Christ

Colossians 1:15-20 NASB
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.

(I chose NASB for the capitalized pronouns and if you click on the Scripture reference link you’ll find a whole lot of cross references.)

Oswald Chambers – Sermon on the Mount

Oswald Chambers sums up what the Sermon on the Mount is all about.

“He came to make us what He teaches we should be.”

The teaching of the Sermon on the Mount produces despair in the natural man–the very thing Jesus meant it to do. As long as we have a self-righteous, conceited notion that we can carry out Our Lord’s teaching, God will allow us to go on until we break our ignorance over some obstacle, then we are willing to come to Him as paupers and receive from Him. ‘Blessed are the paupers in spirit,’ that is the first principle in the Kingdom of God. The bedrock in Jesus Christ’s kingdom is poverty, not possession; not decisions for Jesus Christ, but a sense of absolute futility–I cannot begin to do it. Then Jesus says–Blessed are you. That is the entrance, and it does take us a long while to believe we are poor!

Matthew 5:3
Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.


Legalism and Low Grade Guilt

Here are a couple of quotes from Living the Cross Centered Life that I think go together.

Here’s a simple definition I use: Legalism is seeking to achieve forgiveness from God and justification before God through obedience to God.

A legalist is anyone who behaves as if they can earn God’s forgiveness through personal performance.

The subtle and serious error of legalism is a sinful fruit from sinful roots.

Thomas Schreiner writes that ‘legalism has its origin in self worship. If people are justified through their obedience to the law, then they merit praise, honor and glory. Legalism, in other words, means the glory goes to people rather than God.’

That’s how serious legalism is. The implications are staggering, because legalism claims in essence that the death of Jesus on the cross was either unnecessary or insufficient. It says to God, in effect, ‘Your plan didn’t work. The cross wasn’t enough and I need to add my good works to it to be saved.’

Philippians 3:9
not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith–

Do you see any traces of condemnation in your life? Don’t be surprisee if you do. But don’t keep carrying the burden! Because of the gospel’s power you can be completely free of all condemnation.

Not mostly free; completely free.

Don’t buy the lie that cultivating condemnation and wallowing in your shame is somehow pleasing to God, or that a constant, low-grade guilt will somehow promote holiness and spiritual maturity.

It’s just the opposite! God is glorified when we believe with all our hearts that those who trust in Christ can never be condemned. It’s only when we receive His free gift of grace and live in the good of total forgiveness that we’re able to turn from old, sinful ways of living and walk in grace-motivated obedience.

Isaiah 1:18, Romans 8:1, Hebrews 11:6, 1 Peter 3:18

Treasuring the Trinity

Pitchford’s Ramblings has a good, concise article on the Biblical basis for the Doctrine of the Trinity:
Treasuring the Trinity

2 Corinthians 12:8 – Prayer

2 Corinthians

2 Corinthians 12:8-9
So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Three times he pleaded for his affliction to be taken away. This is reminiscent of Jesus praying three times in Gethsemane. “So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again.” (Matthew 26:44) “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39 b)

We can see that Jesus and Paul were persistent in prayer. Maybe there is significance in comparing the fact that Paul and Jesus both prayed three times but that isn’t a magic formula. Jesus may have prayed that same thing many times before that night. And Paul received a definite answer after three times.

The parables that illustrate persistence in prayer are the impudent friend in Luke 11:5-10 and the bothersome widow in Luke 18:1-8.

Both Jesus and Paul got an answer of “no” to one of their most fervent prayers. This should give us comfort when we and our loved ones don’t get what we wish.

But by no means is that the end of it. God accomplished in Paul and Jesus much more after an answer of “no” than anyone would imagine. God is good (Nahum 1:7) and His will is perfect (Romans 12:2).

Ephesians 3:20 says, “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,” I never thought that this could apply to the answer of “no” until now.

As far as our prayers go, in his commentary on 2 Corinthians Garland says, “Calvin explains that there are two kinds of answers to prayer:

We ask without qualification for those things about which we have sure promise, such as the perfecting of God’s kingdom and the hallowing of His name, the forgiveness of sins and everything profitable* to us. But when we imagine that God’s kingdom can and indeed must be furthered in such and such a way, or that this or that is necessary for the hallowing of His name, we are often mistaken, just as, in the same way, we are often deluded as to what in fact tends to our own welfare.

We can ask with full confidence for what is certainly promised to us, but ‘we cannot prescribe the means.’ God may grant the end that we ask for in prayer, but God may use a means that we do not desire.”

*I’m guessing his definition of “profitable” may be different than what we may think.

Christ’s Poverty

2 Corinthians

2 Corinthians 8:9
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.

What exactly does “poor” mean here? At first glance it would seem that He became poor in a material sense. But logically this would seem to imply that he became poor so that we could become materially rich. This wouldn’t make sense unless you like TV evangelists with big hair.

We don’t even know if in fact He was materially poor. He said he didn’t have a place to lay his head in Matthew 8:20 but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s poor in that sense.

Garland says in his commentary on 2 Corinthians that, “Becoming poor refers to his ’emptying himself’ (Phil 2:6 *; see also Rom 15:3; Heb 12:2) and suggests that this is something he did voluntarily. But how does this make us rich? Christ’s incarnation [embodied in flesh] climaxed in his death, and the principle of interchange–he became poor; we became rich–is the same as in 2 Corinthians 5:21: ‘Jesus gave up his righteousness (becoming ‘sin’) in order that believers might become the “righteousness of God.”‘” (Sorry for all those quotation marks.)

Garland quotes C. Lapide:

Christ was made poor that we through His poverty might be rich. He took the form of a servant that we might regain liberty. He descended that we might be exalted. He was tempted that we might overcome. He was despised that He might fill use with glory. He died that we might be saved. He ascended, to draw to Himself those lying prostrate on the ground through sin’s stumblingblock.

*The word “exploited” makes much more sense to me:
Philippians 2:6 NRSV who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited,

Santa Christ

The book In Christ Alone: Reflections on the Heart of the Gospel by Sinclair B. Ferguson has a chapter called Santa Christ. You will find the whole chapter and two others within the sample PDF file:
http://www.wtsbooks.com/pdf_files/9781567690897.pdf (1 MB)

I have included an excerpt here:

The Scriptures systematically strip away the veneer that covers the real truth of the Christmas story. Jesus did not come to add to our comforts. He did not come to help those who were already helping themselves or to fill life with more pleasant experiences. He came on a deliverance mission, to save sinners, and to do so He had to destroy the works of the Devil (Matt. 1:21; 1 John 3:8 b).

Those whose lives were bound up with the events of the first Christmas did not find His coming an easy and pleasurable experience.

Mary and Joseph’s lives were turned upside down.

The shepherds’ night was frighteningly interrupted, and their futures
potentially radically changed.

The magi faced all kinds of inconvenience and family separation.

Our Lord Himself, conceived before wedlock, born probably in a cave, would spend His early days as a refugee from the bloodthirsty and vindictive Herod (Matt. 2:13-21).

There is, therefore, an element in the Gospel narratives that stresses that the coming of Jesus is a disturbing event of the deepest proportions. It had to be thus, for He did not come merely to add something extra to life, but to deal with our spiritual insolvency and the debt of our sin. He was not conceived in the womb of Mary for those who have done their best, but for those who know that their best is “like filthy rags” (Isa. 64:6)—far from good enough—and that in their flesh there dwells no good thing (Rom. 7:18). He was not sent to be the source of good experiences, but to suffer the pangs of hell in order to be our Savior.

Grace and Peace To You

2 Corinthians

2 Corinthians 1:2
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

In his commentary on 2 Corinthians Garland says, “The greetings are not ordinary good wishes but blessings that have become a spiritual reality through the death and resurrection of Christ.”

Later on he says, “‘Grace’ is the foundation of their Christian existence and most clearly expresses Paul’s understanding of Christ’s work of salvation which presents us with the undeserved forgiveness of our sins and our unearned acceptance by God (Rom 3:23-24). ‘Peace’ is the effect of God’s action in Christ. It is not simply the absence of hostility under the Pax Romana* but peace that God won through Christ’s death, defeating the supernatural enemies and bringing about reconciliation (Rom 5:1; Eph 2:17; Col 1:20). It covers a person’s physical and spiritual well-being and wholeness, which can only be given by God (see Isa 48:18; Psalm 85:10).”

In the same way when Jesus said, “Peace be with you,” it wasn’t just a way of saying hello or a traditional Jewish greeting.

John 20:19
On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

He is truly the bringer of peace.

John 14:27
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

John 16:33
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

*Pax Romana, Latin for “the Roman peace” (sometimes Pax Augusta), was the long period of relative peace and minimal expansion by military force experienced by the Roman Empire between 27 BC and 180 AD.

Recap on Divorce Articles

In light of the post here on Divorce, Expository Thoughts blog has compiled a Recap of the Divorce Debate.

The only reason I originally brought this up is because we’re studying the Sermon on the Mount in our Bible study. Jesus talks about divorce in Matthew 5:31-32 so I looked into it a little bit and also happened to come across the first article while browsing Christianity Today’s web site.

I will refrain from comment and let the articles and Scripture speak for themselves.

The comments on all these articles are very interesting although there is a lot to wade through.

Relisting of related Scripture:
Malachi 2:13-16, Matthew 5:32, Matthew 19:9-11, Mark 10:11-12, Luke 16:18, Romans 7:2, 1 Corinthians 7:15

Knowledge of the Holy

In the last chapter of A.W. Tozer’s book Knowledge of the Holy he spells out six conditions. I’d like to summarize them with just a few added Scripture references. (Click on Scripture references.)

“…this knowledge is difficult because there are conditions to be met and the obstinate nature of fallen man does not take kindly to them.

Let me present a brief summary of these conditions as taught by the Bible and repeated through the centuries by the holiest, sweetest saints the world has ever known:”

“First, we must forsake our sins.”
Isaiah 55:7, Acts 3:19

“Second, there must be an utter committal of the whole life to Christ in faith.”
Psalm 63:8, Psalm 84:1-2, Luke 9:23

“Third, there must be a reckoning of ourselves to have died unto sin and to be alive unto God in Christ Jesus, followed by a throwing open of the entire personality to the inflow of the Holy Spirit.”
Romans 6:3-4, Galatians 2:20, Galatians 5:25

“Fourth, we must boldly repudiate the cheap values of the fallen world and become completely detached in spirit from everything that unbelieving men set their hearts upon, allowing ourselves only the simplest enjoyments of nature which God has bestowed alike upon the just and the unjust.”
Psalm 1:1, Romans 12:2

“Fifth, we must practice the art of long and loving meditation upon the majesty of God.”
Psalm 1:2, Psalm 63:6, Psalm 145:5

“Sixth, as the knowledge of God becomes more wonderful, greater service to our fellow men will become for us imperative. This blessed knowledge is not given to be enjoyed selfishly.”
Matthew 5:16, Ephesians 2:10, Philippians 2:4, Titus 3:8, Titus 3:14, James 2:17-18

Contentment and Provision

John MacArthur at Pulpit Magazine is writing a series on Contentment based on Philippians 4:11-12.

In addition to that I’d like to mention that I always used to have Philippians 4:13 memorized without thinking about the context of the two verses before it.

Philippians 4:11-13
Not that I am referring to being in need; for I have learned to be content with whatever I have. I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Jesus did say, “For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20) But I think we need to keep Philippians 4:13 in context. All things is referring to being content in every condition of life. This includes being content in prosperity without being proud, greedy, hungering for more etc.

Then in 4:19 he says, “And my God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (emphasis added) Our perception of our needs and what our needs really are may not line up. But He will supply our true needs and we can learn to be content in them through Him who gives us strength.