You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Christ’ category.

What do you do with Jesus? This is an age old question. Is he a great teacher? Is he a prophet? Is he just another religious leader? Or is he something more? In a world that seems to be searching for answers about who Jesus is, Matthew’s gospel does not leave room for a lot of doubt. In the opening chapter, Matthew has taken great pains to show us that Jesus heir to the promises to Abraham and to David the king.

Now here in Matthew chapter 2, we begin to see that Jesus is not a neutral figure. It is not uncommon to see Matthew 2:1-12 retold each year around Christmas. I mean after all many of us justify the tradition of giving gifts, because the wise men brought gifts to Jesus. However, it is unfortunate that fundamental message of these verses is lost by our modern depictions of these magi from the east.

We see them show up in Jerusalem asking “Where is He who has been born king of the Jews?” (2:2). But this question is not met with joyous celebration but uneasiness and agitation. We read that “Herod…was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him” (2:3). In a city that should have been longing for God to send a king in the line of David, this announcement should have been met with great joy, but it wasn’t.

While it might be understandable that Herod was upset by this announcement, the response of “all the chief priests and scribes of the people” is particularly troubling. They know the scriptures. They know that the Messiah is to be born in Bethlehem, but they don’t care. Now you might say that is a little harsh, but don’t be quick to excuse them. They have heard that a Messiah-like figure has been born and know where to find him, but they don’t go anywhere!

This is what makes the wise men, such important characters. They have traveled hundreds of miles to find a Jewish king. Instead of responding in apathy or agitation, “they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy” at just seeing the star that mark the Messiah’s location (2:10). They did not just come to see Jesus, they came and “fell down and worshiped him.” That is the bottom line. There is only one one proper response to Jesus: Worship!

I have heard it said that you should not let your past control you. How often do we hear of people whose present actions are somehow influenced by their past? When was the last time you did something simply because you have always done it that way? We are all under the influence of our past. Whether we like it or not our present reality is influenced by where we have been, what we have experienced, and the things we have done. The question we are confronted with is to what extent we are to be held prisoner by our past.

There may be no areas in which people struggle with the issue of overcoming the past than in the area of regret or guilt. Most people by the time they’re my age have done something they regret. We have all made ill-informed or foolish decisions. For a lot of us, those regrets are relatively harmless, but for others they are more serious. And to make matters worse, sometimes those decisions involve moral failures on our part. So, now regret turns to guilt. We try to hide it or forget about it, but the reality of our guilt tends to nag at us. Our failures have a way of not letting us forget.

But what if I said that our problem was not our ability to just put the past behind us, but rather an unwillingness to look beyond our own lives to another event in history that should have a radical impact on who we deal with regret and guilt. I am talking about the death of Jesus Christ. It is fitting that I write this with Easter approaching. This is supposed to be the time of year when we as Christians take a hard look at what happened in Jerusalem 2000 years ago and the effect it is supposed to have on our lives today.

The past is important…just read Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. In the first fourteen versus, he reminds us over and over again of what God has already done in the past. He “blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing” (1:3, cf. 1:6)), “he chose us in him before the foundation of the world” (1:4), “he predestined us for adoption” (1:5, cf. 1:11), and “he lavished” his grace on us (1:7). All of these blessings are stated in the past tense as a reminder that they have already been done for us.

However, the past is not without its present implications. In the same passage, Paul reminds us of the present benefits believers now enjoy in Christ. He reminds us explicitly that “we have redemption…the forgiveness of our trespasses” (1:6) and that “we have obtained an inheritance” (1:11). Even more, we know that we now enjoy the benefits of having been adopted into God’s family and the privilege of calling him, “Father.” We know that if our sins have been forgiven, then our past regrets and guilt should no longer hold sway over us.

So while our past may be full of regrets, as those redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, they no longer need to weigh us down with guilt. Instead, let them remind us of what we have been saved from, and let them fuel our worship of the One who died, so that we might live, and who was condemned, so that we could be set free.

A few days ago I began to consider where true humility is to be found. In so doing I assert that it is only in Jesus Christ that one can come to a true understanding of what humility is, particularly that it involves dying to self and living for God and for others. However, as I have continued to reflect on this issue, I realized that all I have so far done is shown in what way Christ was an example of humility. Therefore, I would like to show here that Christ not only establish an example of humility in his incarnation, his obedience, his sufferings, and his death, but that he also procured the believers humility as well. To say this another way, that the believer being humble and walking in away of humility before God and others was ultimately accomplished by Jesus Christ.

“For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.” (2 Cor. 5:14-15)

First, notice that these verses indicate that “that one died for all, therefore all died”. Those “who live”, those who are no longer “dead in their trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1) have died with Christ. When Christ died, they died also. As Paul says in another place, “knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin;” (Rom. 6:6) or “I have been crucified with Christ” (Gal. 2:20). Now recall that the essence of sin in to be a “lover of self ….lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” (2Tim. 3:2-4). At the heart of sin is to seek our interests before the interests of God and the interests of others. Therefore, when it says that “our old self was crucified with Him…so that we would no longer be slaves to sin”, it is the same as saying that “He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves”. Both of these passages declare to us that we are loosed from the bondage to sin, from the pursuit of self-love, from pride, by being crucified with Christ. No man may ever put to death his own pride, He is too proud to do so. No man can every set aside his love for himself, for he loves himself too much to do so. It is for that reason that Christ intervened to put to death the old man, the proud man, so that those who are in Christ might “no longer live for themselves”.

I hope the reader will heed these words, no man pursues interest other than his own, except for those who are. All men apart from Christ seek their own pleasure and their own desires. They live for themselves. Objection. Some may object at this point and say, “But I know atheists and members of other religions that do good to others. They give to the poor and help their neighbors. How can you say they only live for themselves?” Answer. Those who be not in Christ will meet the needs of others only as far as they see in them their own greater interests. How many do good to others in way of religion as a means of securing salvation for themselves? They do not do good to others out of love for them, but out of love for self. Their life is driven by a desire to secure their own eternal interest (i.e. their salvation) and they use others as a way of doing so. Yet Scripture tells us that those “but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation.” (Rom. 2:8). For those who profess to be atheists and deny their maker, they also live in a way as only to themselves. They may seek the good of others and the good of society as a whole, but it will always be driven by a desire to maximize their own interests. For some this will be a desire to secure their own safety and protect from the evils of men. For others it will be a desire to have others think more highly of them, to maximize their glory in the eyes of men.
Why then is it that only Christians can be rightly said to “no longer live for themselves”? Why is it that the good that they do unto others cannot be rightly attributed as a “living for themselves”? The nature of man made religion is to think that man can do something in order to secure their salvation. The result is that men pursue interests of religion out of their own desire to better themselves, to improve their own lot before God. True Christians on the other hand under declares that man can do nothing to secure their lot before God, rather that God and God alone is able to save. They understand that all their righteous deeds are filthy rags before a holy God and that they stand unable to save themselves. Thus the cast themselves on the mercies of God, who sent for His Son to save them. They look to Christ who alone can save to the uttermost. They see that they do not need anything to secure their greatest good, as Christ has already done it on their behalf. “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God,”(1Pe. 3:18). Therefore, all that they do in Christ is not done for their own good, but ultimately as 2 Cor. 5:15 says “for Him”. They actions and deeds are not done in a way of promoting themselves or their own interests or their own glory, but rather what they do is to be done in a way of promoting Jesus Christ and pursuing His interests and exulting His glory.
May those of us who have died with Him no longer live for ourselves, but for Him who loved us and gave Himself up for us.

I must confess that I have a propensity toward being a very proud person, which is not a good thing when it comes to standing before God. “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (Jam. 4:6, 1Pe. 5:5) Even more, God testifies that “Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD; Assuredly, he will not be unpunished” (Pro. 16:5). Therefore, we are told that “pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before stumbling” (Pro. 16:18). If pride is such a damnable thing, how is a man who by nature proud ever to be humbled? How is that someone who is proud can ever receive grace, if God only gives grace to the humble”

Some men have been humbled by providence, that is, God has arranged the events in their life in such a way that they cannot help but acknowledge that they do not have control over it. They understand that life is beyond their control and this produces a sense of humility regarding their circumstances. The question that this raises in my mind however is does such humility reflect a person who has received grace, or is this humility merely a facade or a pretense of what is genuinely called humility?

I am inclined to thing that such a sense of humility is inadequate for several reasons. First, a person who is humbled by the knowledge that life is outside of their control does not necessarily acknowledge that it is in God’s. Rather, they may ascribe the events of their life merely to ‘Chance’, to ‘Luck’, to ‘Fate’ or even to ‘Providence’. None of these however is the true God who has revealed Himself in the Scripture, but rather a god which has been made in their own minds. Second, this sense of humility does not have to recognize the true condition of man. A man may resolve that life is beyond his control and not argue against it, but all the while think that he deserves better. Therefore, even here they continue to place the blame for what happens in their life on God. Their misfortunes are never the result of their sin, but rather the result of bad luck or fate. It is under such persuasions that I fear many people continue to live in state of delusion. Having humbled themselves before a god who is production of their own imaginations and the speculations of their darkened minds, rather than before the true and living God.

So then where should we learn humility? My answer is simply this: “In Christ”. For God has told us that in Christ “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3). There can be no true knowledge of what it means to be humble, except that which is learned in Christ. Now here then is humility,

“Having this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Php. 2:5-8)

“In Christ Jesus” we see what humility truly is. I might lay it out under three heads for our consideration. First, true humility involves death, particularly death to self. So we see that Christ “emptied Himself”, that is, He denied His own rights and privileges as one who was “in the form of God” and who was “equal with God” and took to Himself also “the form of a bond-servant and being made in the likeness of men, being found in the appearance as a man”. Now this makes His humbling distinct from our own. For He who was like God became like man, and He who was equal with God also was made equal with men. But His death to self was not only figurative, but literal. For he was “obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Now this dying was not for his own sake for He was already like God and equal with God, he was always without sin and was under no penalty of death. Yet, in humility He laid down His life of his own desire and out of his own obedience to God.

This then is the second consideration concerning his humbling himself, “He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death.” His humility was in a way of obedience to God the Father. His humility was further manifest in His willingness to do only the Fathers will and to speak only what the Father had given him to say. “I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment i just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (Joh. 5:30). “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (Joh. 6:38). This obedience was total and complete as is clear from having strove with sin even to the point of shedding His blood. He would rather obey His Father and suffer the pains of death. Though He sought from His Father way by His obedience might be completed other than the drinking the cup of His wrath, He entrusted Himself to His Father’s care and obeyed until He could say, “It is finished.”

Finally, not only was his humility demonstrated in a way of dying to self and obedience to the Father, but it was done for the sake of others. As previously mentioned, Christ was already God and equal to the Father, yet He chose to empty Himself, to Humble Himself. This then was not for His own sake, but for the sake of His people. First, His obedience was not for Himself for He was already perfect and was in no way in need of righteousness for by His being like God and equal to God, He was in Himself already righteous. So we read, “even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous” (Rom. 5:19). His obedience was not for Himself, but so that “the many will be made righteous”. His obedience then was for those who would believe in Him and entrust their lives to Him. Second, His death was not for Himself, “even death on a cross”. He did not endure the wrath of God, because He was guilty of any sin or deserving of such a punishment, but rather for us who had sinned against Him and were by nature children of wrath – “and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins” (1Jn. 2:2). He was in no way satisfying the wrath of God for His sins for He had none which need to be satisfied for, but rather was making satisfaction for the sins of His people and other their behalf.

So we see that Christ’s humility consisted in His denying (dying) Himself, in His obeying His Father, and in His doing so for the good of others. Here then is true humility seen – hating self, loving God, and loving others.

But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus,” (Ephesians 4:20-21)

I have been thinking a lot about the nature of reality an how we attempt to make sense of the world. And the more I have considered the meaning of everything in life, the more convinced I have become that their must be one singular purpose that serves as the fountain from which everything else must flow. But what is that source that provides the basis for making sense of life. Ephesians 4 points us the Son of God as the source of all knowledge – all truth – upon which our lives must be founded.

I should first point to the failings of worldly philosophical systems or other religious systems, namely that they provide no basis for truth. Even in Ephesians 4:17-19, those who do not have Christ are seen as being “in the futility of their minds”, “darkened in their understanding”, “ignorant”, and living in “lusts of deceit. Why are they like this? Simple they have forsaken God who is the standard against all knowledge and truth were to be measured. He alone provides a basis for knowing anything. He is self-sufficient, so so His actions and thoughts are not dependent upon His creation. I do not have to be concerned about some else discovering something that God will need to learn from them. God is not taught by us, but we are to be taught by Him. He is eternal and unchanging, so truth has not and can not change, but will be the same yesterday today and forever. Therefore, I can rest assured that if it was right to tell the truth today it will be right to tell the truth tomorrow.

Yet here in Ephesians 4:21, we see that truth is does not reside in God as some simple abstract idea, but in the person of Jesus Christ. There can be know true knowledge of God, let alone any true understanding of life, without Jesus Christ. So if someone desires to know the truth, what must they do? They must run to God through Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:6) Let me point out two quick observations that point to Christ’s sole position as the mediator of knowledge of the Father to those who are children of God.

  1. All Truth is in Jesus Christ. Because Jesus is not simply a man, but God clothed in human flesh, He is the standard against which all knowledge must be measured. Who His is, what He says, and what He does is not simply a reflect what truth is, but defines it. Thus every speculation of man must be tested against Jesus Christ for its validity. And when our assertions of “truth” conflict with His, it becomes abundantly clear that our so called “truths” are really lies.
  2. Christ is the Sole Dispenser of Truth. Not only is He the source and definer of truth, but He alone is the dispenser of if. Thus we read that these Christians “have heard Him and have been taught in Him”. As the apostle Paul else where describes Christ a shepherd who calls his sheep and they follow Him, here Paul tells us that those who have heard the truth were not simply hear about Jesus but they “heard Him”. When Paul had appealed for them to reconciled to God, that had received not as a mans testimony, but has Christ Himself appealing through Paul for them to be reconciled. Thus those who refuse to listen to Christ – refuse to listen to truth. They may seek their “truth” or their “wisdom” from other sources, but they are only learning falsehood and folly.

So let us look to expose the folly that remains in our hearts, because of the ignorance that is in us by running to Christ to shed the light of truth in lives and teach us how to walk in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus.

Over the last several months there has been one particular verse that I have often found my attention drawn to, especially when it comes to the issue of dealing with sin in my own life. And that is 1 Corithians 3:18. 

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.

Later in 2 Corithians 4:4-6, Paul tells us that the glory of God is beheld in the gospel of Jesus Christ, who is the image of God. It has been a tremendous reminder to me to pursue right behavior not through my doing, but rather through my beholding. The power to life the life that honors God does not come through human invention or adherence to a set of does and don’ts (even if the list is the ten commandments). The life that honors God is empowered by beholding the glory of the Lord in the person of Jesus Christ. It comes through dependence upon “His precious and magnificent promises” which He has given to us by “His own glory and excellence.” (2 Pet 1:2-4)

This morning I was reminded again of one of the most fundamental displays of “His own glory and excellence” in the uniting of two natures (God and Man) in the person of Christ. Why should that seem so amazing? I think it is amazing to think first of the nature of God, who is the infinite, eternal, self-existant, self-sustaining, God who has no need of us and who would be perfectly glorify first without every having created the world, but also in the eternal condemnation of that creation once it had fallen. And then, to think that He would condescend to take on human flesh – not only to further glorify Himself – but in so doing to redeem a part of His creation from their fallen state. And furthuremore, to think that He – The Sovereign Creator – would allow His creation to nail Him to a tree so that He might be able to extend mercy to them and yet uphold His righteousness and His justice. What a great encouragement that is to me that if the One who would undertake such on loving act on my behalf is also the One who governs the course of history and the events of each day of my life.

For the last year or so I have been slowly working my way through the book of Romans. It has been at times one of the most humbling studies, while at others the most encouraging and up lifting. Let me share some of the hightlights of my last year of study.

  1. Foolishness. For a long time I attributed the foolishness of sin to the harmful effects that it has, such as hurting ourselves or others, but ultimately offending God. After considering Romans 1:22-23, I would suggest that the foolishness of sin does not stem from the consequences of sin, but rather from the surpassing value that we forsake in the act of sinning. “Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man …” Notice that folly is connected with the exchange of the glory of God for something else. A series contemplation of sin should lead us to realize the vanity, not to mention the offense, of it. We exchange the worship of insurpassible worth of God for the worship of worthless things – or rather things that must derive their worth from the God. We exchange the eternal enjoyment of God for the fleeting pleasure of sin. We exchange Him who is of infinitely good for the partaking of that which is infinitely destructive. No matter how you cut the cake we are fools for having abandonded the God who created us for the creation.
  2. Fear of God. While this shouldn’t have really seemed to be such a profound topic, I am some what slow to catch on sometimes. When on considers what the fundamental root of all sin is most people would say pride, the exultation of self, which seems like a fair assessment. But let me suggest we look at it from a different perspective – that the root of sin is ultimately the lack of fear (or reverence) for God. “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (3:18) Now if we see God rightly, I think it would total change our perspective on everything. If we saw how holy and righteous and just God is would we not come to hate our sinfulness and rebellion against Him. If we saw how patient and kind and tolerate and gracious and merciful He is toward us would it not lead us to repentance (2:4) and to strive more diligently after personal holiness and devotion to God. If we saw how powerful and wise and good He was would we question His providential workings in our lifes or would we praise Him even in the days of trials and suffering. The way then to deal with sin is to behold more clearly the character of God.
  3. Soveriegnty of God and Justice. By far one of the most humbling passages to study was Romans 9 as Paul lays out the sovereignty of God is salvation. “So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.” (9:16) It is an extraordanary thing to consider that ones eternal destiny is not in ones own hands. Or rather that if left to my own will or running that results would be eternal condemnation and God would be right and just and fair in carrying out my sentence. But yet what great encouragement it is to think that my eternal well fair is the hands of an ever faithful and loving God.
  4. Great Mercy and Great Love. Let me end with this last consideration, over the last year as I have contemplated the love of God particularly in light of Romans 5:1-11 and 8:28-39, I have been utterly amazed that God’s would show such love and compassion, such mercy and grace, toward one such as I. As I have contemplated this amazing reality even today, I am yet aware that I have only begun to scratch the surface of the “depths of both the wisdom and the knowledge of God.” It is my hope and prayer even for the years ahead that I would be more amazed at who Jesus Christ IS that would cause Him to do what He DID, so I may tell others about this great God and Savior.
  5. Christ and the Cross. Ok, I lied, I am compeled to add one more. I have come to realize that the glory of God is not simply found in the Cross (i.e. what Jesus did), but also in the Character of the One who hung upon it (i.e who Jesus is). Without Christ, the God-Man, the Cross is simply and instrument of dead. For it was the very nature of the One who hung on Calvary that gave the cross its meaning. It is Christ who turns a simply blood stained piece of wood into a vibrant demonstration of the glory of God. And without the Cross, we would never have seen the vibrancy and beauty of the glorious God in the person of Christ. For it was by means of the Cross that Christ manifest the glory of the Father in such a way to us that we might come again to fear and adore the one who we had foolishly forsaken. So Christians let us seek to stir one another up not only to love and good deeds, but to the beholding of the glory of God in the Person of Christ and in the Cross of Christ.

Surely, you have heard someone say, “Once saved, always saved.” But what about those people who come to church for awhile and then decided they want nothing to do with Christianity. Surely, those people who have committed apostasy are not going to go to heaven are they. So then what should we concluded…that they were once saved, but because of their sin they have lost their salvation. May it never be! The very notion that someone can lose their salvation because they committed a certain sin implies that their salvation is contidition on their not committing that particular sin. But that does not square with the rest of scripture: “So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy” (Rom. 9:16). 

As I mentioned yesterday we must remember that salvation is ultimately not a work of man, but a work of God upon the human heart. “He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 1:6) Because Paul accepted the reality that it was God who had began a good work in the Phillippian believers, he could confidently assert that He would also finish that which He began. So then assert that someone can lose their salvation is at best ignorant and at worst blasphemous. If you believe that a person can lose their salvation, you must either believe that salvation is ultimately not dependent upon God, but upon man (he did something that caused God to withdraw salvation). Or you must believe that God is somehow insufficient for the work of salvation (ironically, either way you believe God is insufficient). You must conclude that God lacks the resource, the will, the power, the desire to finish the work which he began or else you must simply call God a liar. “Yes, God I know your word says ‘He who began a good work in you will perfect it’. But look at all the people who have been Christians and then denied the faith either in word or in deed. Clearly, they cannot be saved. You cannot still be working in their life.”

And to some degree that person would be right, God is not working in their life. However, they have made the wrong conclusion. God is not currently working in their life, because He was never working in their life. “They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us.” (1 John 2:19) This truth should either be of great encouragement to us or great concern. If God is working in your life to sanctify you and conform you into the image of His beloved Son, you should be greatly encouraged that God is faithful and that which He begins, He sees through to the end (What a great reason to give Him thanks and praise). On the other hand, if God is not currently working in your life, you should know that God has never been working in your life, and you should seek Him for mercy…beg Him to begin a work in you…plead with Him to see the glory of the gospel…ask Him to grant you the repentance that leads to life.

The more I talk to people about the grace of God revealed in the gospel and about what it means to be a Christian, the more I realize that most people don’t really get the gospel. They don’t really understand the nature of reality. Any professing Christian that has any sort of biblical understanding would readily admit that salvation is by grace. But how is that we recieve grace? How do I know if I have found mercy from God?

The apostle Paul hit the nail on the head when he said, “So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy” (Rom. 9:16). The problem is most of professing American Christianity does not realize that recieving mercy does not depend on them, but upon God. What would you say if I told you that reading your bible, going to church, praying, or any other religious duty did not guarantee that God will be gracious to you? Do you think that being a Christian means that God will show mercy to you? Or do you think you are a Christian because God has shown mercy to you?

You see we do not become Christians when we start to do something, but rather when God begins to do something in us “He [God] who began a good work in you” (Phil. 1:6). And so we are called to examine ourselves to see if we have been born of God or whether we are yet in our sins (see 1 John). While I can’t give an exaustive list, let me list a some of the evidences that one is born of God (i.e. that you are not a Christian in name only).

  • You have beheld the glory of God in the person of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 4:4-6)
  • You’re life displays the fruit of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23)
  • You’re life is being conformed into the image of God in Christ, that is, you are becoming more Christ-like. (Rom. 8:29, 2 Cor. 3:18, 1 John 3:2-3)
  • You’re life is being changed not by adhering to a set of rules and regulations, but by beholding the glory of God in Christ. (2 Cor. 3:18, 1 John 3:2-3, 1 John 4:19, Col. 2)
  • You crave the pure milk of God’s Word and delight in it. (1 Pet. 2:2, Ps. 119, Rom. 7:22)
  • You count all your righteous deeds to be polluted rags and rejoice in the the righteousness of another, “the Lord our righteousness” (Phil. 3:7-11, Jer. 23:6)
  • You live a life of ongoing repentence, since “the grace of God has appeared…instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age” (Tit. 2:11-12, cf. Rom. 8:1-13, Heb. 12:4-11).

The bottom line is this: If you have been experienced the grace of God, it will be evident in your life. If your life is not being conformed to the image of Christ, it may be evidence that you have not recieved mercy from God. If you have need of mercy you must come to the Great High Priest, Jesus Christ, who offered Himself up as a sacrifice once for all the just for the unjust so that He might bring us to God. There is no other who is fit to be the dispenser of God’s grace, than the Son of God who clothed Himself in likeness of sinful flesh, so that He might glorify the Father through His perfect obedience and His perfrect sacrifice on behalf of those who would trust in Him. “He has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature” (2 Pet. 1:4)

I was reading through The Glory of Christ: His Office and Grace by John Owen earlier this afternoon and I was reminded about the great priviledge (and duty) we have to behold the glory of God in person of Jesus Christ. I cannot help but think that be struggles with the love of the flesh and the love of this world would soon evaporate if I more clearly beheld the glory of God and allowed my heart and affections to be captivated by the contemplation of such a worthy object as Christ Himself.

“In this [beholding his glory], then, our present edification is principally concerned; for in this present beholding the glory of Christ, the life and power of faith are most eminently acted. And from this exercise of faith, love to Christ principally, if not soley, arises and springs. If, therefore, we desire to have faith in its vigour or love in its power, giving rest, complacency and satisfaction to our own souls, we are to seek for them in diligent discharge of this duty; elsewhere they will not be found. In this would I live; in this would I die; upon this would I dwell in my thoughts and affections, to the withering and consumption of all the painted beauties of this world, to the crucifying all things here below, until they become to me a dead and deformed thing, no way suitable for affectionate embraces.” (Owen, page 48)

We as Christians in the 21st century could learn much from men like Owen. When was the last time you stopped to consider that your growth [edification]  as a Christian is principally as a response to your beholding the glory of God in Christ. “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” (2 Cor. 3:18) Therefore, it is chiefly to this duty that we should commit ourselves.

There is no greater way to have “all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life” (1 Jn. 2:16) put to death in our hearts than to contemplate the glory of Christ until they appear “a dead and deformed thing, no way suitable for affectionate embraces.” We should put as much effort into cultivating our affections (and others) for the glory of Christ as we have in cultivating our affections for the things of this world. It is a shame to think that we are willing put more effort into convincing ourselves and others of the value of worldly things, than we are to convince ourselves of “the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Phil. 3:8).