Why has He come: this infant?
Romans 1 tells us that our downfall is that we worship the creature rather than the creator.
The created things then become what define us, rather than us giving definition to creation.
God’s willingness to become flesh and to continue in obedience makes our flesh holy.
Dietrich Bonheoffer wrote the man who confesses his sin in the presence of a brother knows that he is no longer alone with himself. He experiences the presence of God in the reality of the other person.
Many of us have not experienced grace “in the flesh”. We can be around a lot of acceptance and grace, but until the hurt and guilty places in our hearts are exposed, we do not experience grace, and the gap between what we know in our head and what we experience in our hearts continues.
The humble heart names its offence and yields it up to Him as an offering of sin.
Jesus transforms His bride by having us expose our rags to one another, rather than allowing us to hide behind gleaming coats constructed out of shame.
What then does reconciliation mean in relation to other men and, in particular to white men? “When the other men are white people, this means that black people will bring their new restored image of themselves to every encounter.… They will not let Whitey make an It of them, but will insist, with every ounce of strength, that they are people.
For white people, God’s reconciliation in Jesus Christ means that God has made black people a beautiful people; and if they are going to be in relationship with God, they must enter by way of their black brothers, who are a manifestation of God’s presence on earth.
The assumption that one can know God without knowing blackness is the basic heresy of the white churches. They want God without blackness, Christ without obedience, love without death.
True Christian knowledge is the knowledge of a Person. And because it is knowledge of a Person it leads to love, because He Himself is love. ‘God is love’. Christ is love incarnate.
So to know God and to know Christ, of necessity leads to love. If the knowledge we claim to have has not led to greater love in our lives we had better examine ourselves very seriously. Knowledge without love becomes what the Scriptures call ‘heady’ and ‘high-minded’. It turns us into authorities; it introduces a censoriousness and hardness which is positively harmful.
Why should the eternal, absolute, holy God trouble at all about this world that rebelled against Him and reduced His paradise to a state of chaos? Why did He not destroy it all, and consign it there and then to perdition? It was because of His eternal, self-generating love! This is the motivation in the heart of God.
And in the Christian life we are to be like Him; we are to follow in His steps, we are to be reproductions of Him.
See this motive as it is exemplified in the Apostle Paul himself. Scripture portrays him as an indefatigable evangelist and preacher who travelled day and night teaching and preaching, who crossed oceans and was subjected to endless cruelties and indignities at the hands of men. Ask him why he behaved thus. In his Second Epistle to the Corinthians he gives his answer: ‘The love of Christ compels us’ (5:14). The love of Christ is in Him. He has seen the situation of mankind in sin as Christ saw it. He knows what Christ has done for him, and this has created a like love in his heart. He is ‘rooted in the love of Christ’, it is the base of His entire experience. This is what drives him on, this is the motive, and nothing else. This is to be the way in which we too are to represent Him, to bring glory to His Name and to be well-pleasing in His sight.
There is yet one further element in this idea of being rooted in love. It is negative, yet very important, and has been implied in what we have said. There is no ultimate value in all our work, and all our activity, unless it is rooted and grounded in love. That may appear to be too strong or too extreme a statement; but it is not mine, it belongs to the Apostle himself. He tells us: ‘Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal’. You may be the greatest orator in the world, you may be able to speak in an affecting manner which can move people to admiration and perhaps even to action; but if love does not control what you are saying or doing you are but as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal. Further, ‘Though I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge; and though I have all faith so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profiteth me nothing’.
That is a shattering and alarming statement, but it is obviously the simple truth. It must be so because the Christian life is a Christ-like life, and everything in Him had its source in love. So must it be with us. The day of judgment will be a revelation, a day of surprises. What appeared to us to be very great may then appear to be nothing at all; and what appeared to us to be trivial will then be seen to be of great value with the arc-light of God’s love shed upon it. What a reversal of our judgments and our conceptions we shall find!
Her tears were more acceptable in His sight than the precious, expensive ointment which she used. To be anointed by tears from the heart is of infinitely greater value to Him, even though it be only applied to His feet, than to have His head anointed with spikenard or the most costly spices and fragrant perfumes. Nothing is of value in His sight unless it comes out of a heart of love.
The Christian is not a man who is carrying out a task, or labouring merely to perform a duty. He is one who is ‘rooted in love’. And, like his Lord, his every motive arises from it. He is also energized by it, constrained by it. He cannot refrain, he cannot but be thus. Because Christ is dwelling in his heart by faith, his faith is rooted in the soil of love, and it is drawing its precious vital nutriment from that source. Thus it becomes a reproduction of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. May God open our eyes to this! May He give us this love, and ‘shed it abroad’ in our hearts! May we seek after it above everything else, because all else without it is nothing, and will lead to nothing but loss. May God root us in His love!
Was there any one secret above all others which explained success in winning such a coveted prize year after year? And particularly, what was the secret of their remarkable height? He told me that it was quite a simple principle; if you want great height you must dig deeply.
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Our Lord taught this more clearly than anywhere else in the Sermon on the Mount, as we find it recorded in Matthew’s Gospel, where He contrasts His way with every other way.
That is the basis of the Christian life. That is the thing that differentiates us from the best non-Christian. The latter loves people who love him, but he does not love his enemies; he hates them as they hate him, and because they hate him. But that is not Christian; anyone can love those who love him, and all are doing so. At the very foundation of the Christian life is this love of our enemies; and until we are on this foundation we are wasting time in seeking any higher experiences. You will never know the breadth and length and depth and height of the love of Christ which passeth knowledge until you are on this foundation. That is the argument of this prayer which Paul offers for the Ephesian Christians.
is to be in us.
This attitude is clearly something that we have to cultivate, and to make sure that we possess. Am I loving my enemies and blessing those that curse me and who say all manner of things falsely against me? I must consider this carefully, and I must not be satisfied until I can honestly say that I love them, and pray that God may have mercy and pity upon them and open their eyes, and bring them to Himself. Until I do so it is idle for me to seek some higher experience. How important the foundation is!
One of the most subtle temptations of the devil is to get us to ignore foundations and to rush on to seek the higher experiences.
‘Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled’. The people who are going to be filled with the Spirit, the people who are going to enjoy the full blessing are those who are hungering and thirsting after righteousness; not after the blessing, but after righteousness.
Our last principle is that the foundation always suggests stability.
God’s perfect love is self-generated; it does not depend on anything outside Himself; it is a love that starts within and goes out to others. That is why God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. It was in spite of what He saw in the world, and certainly not His response to a demand from man. It was His own self-generated love pouring itself out. It starts in Him, and it is based upon itself. Your love and mine must be the same.
In that beautiful thirteenth chapter of his First Epistle to the Corinthians the Apostle Paul says, ‘Love suffereth long and is kind’. It ‘suffers long’ because it is on a solid foundation. It also stands up to the stresses. ‘It is not easily provoked’. A love which is easily provoked is not deep. ‘Love beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things’. Change in others, malice, spite, bitterness, hatred, anything that may happen they make no difference! love stands firm! ‘Love never faileth’. Never! Whatever may come against it, the foundation is so deep that love stands as if nothing had happened.
Have you ever been at the seaside in a storm and watched the waves dashing themselves against a mighty cliff or rock? Back they go, and return with redoubled energy. The gale seems to redouble its force and the waves dash themselves against the rock. But it remains immovable as if nothing had happened. ‘Love never faileth’. Does our love conform to this description?
Nothing but a deep love to God can stand up to the trials and the stresses, the hazards and the strains of life. Belief alone is not enough. Belief is essential, and it can take you a long way. But when the real storms come, belief alone is not enough. Love alone enables us to stand up to the storms. Another hymn-writer, Edward Mote, was able to say with certainty and assurance,
the woman standing (being) in the midst] She still remained bound as it were by her sin in the presence of ChristThe condemnation has reference to the outward punishment and not to the moral guilt: that is dealt with in the words which follow. “Ergo et Dominus damnavit, sed peccatum non hominem” (Aug. ad loc.).
go, and sin no more] go thy way: from henceforth sin no more. Comp. 5:14.
The Glory of God
‘To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.’
He has not been moved to do all this by anything in us whatsoever; it is entirely of Himself. Salvation is not according to man’s desire or request. Man by nature, and in sin, does not desire salvation. Salvation is not a response on God’s part to anything in man; it is entirely from God. He was moved by His own grace, mercy, and compassion. The Apostle has been emphasizing this truth; and he now proceeds to give us the reason why God has acted in this way. Here we have the great motive behind redemption, the ultimate purpose in the mind and wisdom of God, which has led to all the blessings resulting from this great purpose of salvation. The ultimate motive of it all is, ‘to the praise of the glory of his grace.’ It is all for the glory of God.
But the astonishing thing, indeed the almost incredible thing, is that God purposed to reveal that glory in us and through us.
So let us proceed to discover what it is that calls for this praise and adoration and thanksgiving.
But it is when we come to the New Testament that we find this element still more clearly. In the lyrical announcement of the Incarnation that was made to the shepherds as they watched their flocks by night we read that suddenly a multitude of the heavenly host was heard crying out and saying,
I say that for this reason: I think I can demonstrate to you from the Scriptures that what happened in regeneration is not merely that we are restored to the condition that Adam was in before he fell, but we are advanced beyond that: ‘Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound’ (Rom. 5:20). Yes; as Isaac Watts has put it,
In Him [in Christ] the tribes of Adam boast
More blessings than their father lost.
Salvation, redemption, regeneration do not merely put us back where Adam was; we are in a much higher position. So here again, you see, the doctrine of the image is very important from the standpoint of the doctrine of salvation, and we must be very careful that we interpret it correctly. So while we will still use those two quotations, they will not determine our exact definition of what is meant by the divine image.
And my last general principle is that clearly there is a difference between man as he was made at the beginning by God, and the manhood or the humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ. If you take those verses at the beginning of Hebrews 1, you will find this: Christ is the ‘express image of his person’. All the effulgence of the glory is in Him. That cannot be said about man. Man is, as it were, a created copy – Christ is the image. He is indeed the very express, essential image of God Himself. That will be important to remember when we come to deal with the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
This “pretermission” of transgressions differs from their “remission” in being only temporary. This forbearance, even though explained and legitimated by the propitiation of Christ, is not to be eternal. Justice will finally assert its claims, and those whose unrepented transgressions have met with this temporary indulgence and delay of punishment, on account of Christ’s atonement, will in the end receive the just punishment of sin. St. Paul, in this passage, does not say that these sins had been eternally pardoned by divine grace (charis),120 but had been only temporarily passed by through divine forbearance (anochē).121
In the sixth place, the vicarious satisfaction of justice is the only mode of exercising mercy that is possible to a just being. This follows from the nature of justice and its relation to other divine attributes.
Think of His incarnation, and the reason why He came into the world, As the angel said to Joseph, His object was to deliver His people from their sins, and all He did was designed to that end. He came in order to die for us, to ‘taste death for every man’, that He might deliver us and emancipate us.
How far shall vengeance proceed before equity is satisfied? After what manner shall the sword do homage to the scepter? Must the elect of God be condemned for their sins? No; Jesus is moved with compassion. He steps in, he takes upon himself the uplifted lash, and his shoulders run with gore; he bares his bosom to the furbished sword, and it smites the Shepherd that the sheep may escape.
the multitude excited his compassion because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he taught them as a guide who showed the path by leading the way; and he looked after their welfare as a Shepherd who regarded the health of their bodies as well as the good estate of their souls. Surely, brethren and sisters, if you love him and wish to be like him, you cannot look on this congregation without pity. You cannot go out into the streets of London and stand in the high roads among the surging masses for half an hour without saying, “Whither away these souls? Which road are they traveling? Will they all meet in heaven?” What! you live in London, you move about in this great metropolis, and do you never have the heartache, never feel your soul ready to burst with pity?
But since the minister, though he may call as he may, will not bring souls to Christ of himself, the Lord Jesus, moved with compassion, has sent his Spirit. The Holy Ghost is here. We have not to say:
“Come Holy Spirit, heavenly dove.”
Third, “Blessed are the meek.” A score of examples might be drawn from the Gospels illustrating the lovely lowliness of the incarnate Lord of glory. Notice it in the men selected by Him to be His ambassadors:He chose not the wise, the learned, the great, the noble, but poor fishermen for the most part. Witness it in the company He kept:
He the crowds wanted to make Him their Idol, He avoided them (Mk. 1:45; 7:17). When they tried to come and “Take Him by force to make Him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone” (Jn. 6:15). When His brethren urged, “Show Thyself to the world,” He declined, and went up to the feast in secret (Jn. 7). When He, in fulfillment of prophecy, presented Himself to Israel as their King, He entered Jerusalem “lowly, and ridinguponanass” (Zech.9:9).
Fourth, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness.” What a summary this is of the inner life of the Man Christ Jesus! Before the Incarnation the Holy Spirit announced, “Righteousness shall be the girdle of His loins” (Is. 4:5). When He entered this world, He said, “Lo, I come to do Thy will, O God” (Heb. 10:17). As a boy of twelve He asked, “Wist ye not that I must be about My Father’s business?” (Lk. 2:41). At the beginning of His public ministry He declared, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets:I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill” (Mt. 5:17). To His disciples He declared, “My meat is to do the will of him that sent me” (Jn. 4:34). The Holy Spirit has said of Him; “Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness:therefore God, Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows” (Ps. 45:7). Well may He be called “The Lord our righteousness.”
Fifth, “Blessed are the merciful.” In Christ we see mercy personified. It was mercy to poor lost sinners that caused the Son of God to exchange the glory of Heaven for the shame of earth. It was wondrous and matchless mercy that took Him to the Cross to be made a curse for His people. He still exercises mercy to us as our “merciful and faithful High Priest” (Heb. 2:17). So also we are to be “looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life” (Jude 21), because He will show us mercy in “that Day” (II Tim.1:18).
2692 Father With Son In Attic
A father had told his son he would send him to sleep in the attic, with only bread and water for his supper, if he broke the laws of the home once more. The child disobeyed again and was sent to the attic: The father could not eat. He had the boy on his mind and his heart. His wife said: “I know what you are thinking. But you must not bring the boy from the attic. It would cause him to disobey again. He would have no respect for your word. You must not cheapen your relation as his father by failing to keep your promise.”
To which her husband replied: “You are right. I will not break my word. To do so would cause my son to lose his respect for my word. But he is so lonely up there.” He kissed his wife good-night, entered the attic, ate bread and water with the boy, and when the child went to sleep on the hard boards, his father’s arm was his pillow.
He who knew no sin suffered for the sinner.
THE SOUL’S MEAT AND DRINK.
Beloved friends, as many of you as have been taught of God know the spiritual meaning of these words. You know that the doctrine of the incarnation of Christ is meat to your soul, and you know that the great truth of the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ which is expressed by his blood, is the most nourishing cordial to your heart. You know that, in this sense, Christ’s words are full of deep spiritual teaching: “My flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.”
THE GREAT BIRTHDAY.
, there was a sweet benevolence of spirit in the angel’s bosom which made him happy because he had such gladsome tidings to bring to the fallen sons of men.
They are friends of the Bridegroom and rejoice in his joy, they are household servants of the family of love, and they wait upon us with an eager diligence, which betokens the tenderness of feeling which they have towards the King’s sons.
say to my fellow men, “God has condescended to assume your nature that he might save you.”
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Lloyd-Jones, David Martyn: The Unsearchable Riches of Christ (Studies in Ephesians, Chapter 3). Grand Rapids : Baker Book House, 1972, S. 186
Lloyd-Jones, David Martyn: The Unsearchable Riches of Christ (Studies in Ephesians, Chapter 3). Grand Rapids : Baker Book House, 1972, S. 189
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Lloyd-Jones, David Martyn: The Unsearchable Riches of Christ (Studies in Ephesians, Chapter 3). Grand Rapids : Baker Book House, 1972, S. 195
 Westcott, Brooke Foss (Hrsg.) ; Westcott, Arthur (Hrsg.): The Gospel According to St. John Introduction and Notes on the Authorized Version. London : J. Murray, 1908, S. 127
Lloyd-Jones, David Martyn: God's Ultimate Purpose : An Exposition of Ephesians 1, 1 to 23. Edinburgh; Carlisle, Pa. : Banner of Truth Trust, 1978, S. 128
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120 120. χάρις
121 121. ἀνοχή
Lloyd-Jones, David Martyn: Christian Unity (Studies in Ephesians, Chapter 4, Verses 1 Through 16). Grand Rapids : Baker Book House, 1972, S. 127
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Pink, A. W.: Comfort for Christians. electronic ed. Escondido, CA : Ephesians Four Group, 2000, S. 75
Tan, Paul Lee: Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations : A Treasury of Illustrations, Anecdotes, Facts and Quotations for Pastors, Teachers and Christian Workers. electronic ed. Garland TX : Bible Communications, 1979; Published in electronic form by Logos Research Systems, 1997
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