“Christ as our propitiation is a precious thought because it means that the wrath of God that we deserved was removed. Christ absorbed it, and took it away. He became the curse for us and took away the judgment of God. God was propitiated by God.”
– John Piper in his sermon, “The Greatest Thing in the World”
Jesus died for me. What a thought. When I meditate upon that thought, I scarce can take it in. It is almost too terrible, too wonderful, too scandalous. In the scriptures, there are two kinds of death described – physical and spiritual. Certainly, when we say that – “Jesus died for me” – we are not simply saying that Christ died a physical death in our place, for we all, like everyone who has lived before us, will die a physical death. Don’t misunderstand me. The physical death of Christ was certainly necessary, for our propitiation, but it was not enough. Continue reading
“As God delights in his own beauty, he must necessarily delight in the creature’s holiness which is a conformity to and participation of it, as truly as (the) brightness of a jewel, held in the sun’s beams, is a participation or derivation of the sun.’”
– Jonathan Edwards (The End for which God Created the World)
Though it is a constant theme in Scripture, many Christians recoil when confronted with the idea of God’s Delighting in His Own beauty. We simply don’t like it. We want God to delight in us above all things. I want Him to be all about me – my world, my life, my concerns, my beauty, my standing, my reputation, my health. Me and me alone. What a shock it is to our system when we discover that God is all about God – first and foremost; that His desire to glorify Himself takes precedence over every other concern.
When we consider this, we immediately try to “humanize” the idea. Is God not arrogant? How could he demand so much attention without being guilty of selfishness. We mumble inside our hearts, “God is just an attention hog, that’s what He is. Always demanding our love, demanding our devotion, demanding our worship. He’s just a big old baby! And if we don’t give Him what He wants then He pouts and thinks about ways to smite us into oblivion.”
“We hence see the exuberant goodness of the Creator, who hath not only provided for all the necessities, but also for the pleasure and recreation of all sorts of creatures, and even the insects and those that are most despicable.”
– Jonathan Edwards “Of Insects”
On this Ash Wednesday, as we begin the season of Lent, I would like to consider together with you the Grace of Christ that lurks in the nooks and crannies of our lives. On this somber day, for a moment, let’s allow the possibility that the Grace of Jesus is not wholly seen by our eyes; not fully heard by our ears; not truly understood in our perception. Grace is not often gaudy, but quiet, moving slowly and effortlessly within our hearts and in the world around us.
When Christoph Römhild, a Lutheran pastor in Hamburg, Germany, sent Carnegie Mellon Ph.D. student Chris Harrison a list of 63,779 cross-references between the Bible’s 1,189 chapters, the two became enthralled with elegantly showing the interconnected nature of Scripture. Each bar along the horizontal axis represents a chapter, with the length determined by the number of verses. (Books alternate in color between white and light gray.) Colors represent the distance between references. Graphic by Chris Harrison, Carnegie Mellon University.
The Gospel is indeed Sacrosanct.
Click on the picture to see larger image.
By the way…take note that the strand coming down right in the middle is the longest chapter in the Bible – Psalm 119 – which extols the riches of the Word of God.
Below is an article that compares the aims of Religion v. the aims of The Gospel. The article was originally constructed by Rev. Tim Keller, a PCA pastor in Manhattan. I have refurbished it a bit. Have a read. I would relish any comments or observations! (FYI – I have included a link to the Word Document if you would like to download it by clicking here – religion-v-the-gospel
I teach a college aged Bible Study on Sunday Mornings. Over the past several months we have been going through 1 John and as we walked through the book one thing seemed to emerge right out of the pages and dance before our very eyes…Jesus is Grace. When John speaks of Loving one Another – he is not talking about a love that can be separated from the Love of Christ. When John speaks of holiness he is not talking about a holiness that exists apart from the Holiness of Christ. When John says “Do not Sin” he is not talking about behavior modification, he is talking about the idolatry that leads us away from Christ. Christ is our Grace. There is no Grace apart from Him. John culminates this idea in 1 John 3:23 – “And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.”
The First Command? “Believe in Jesus!” There is no other way to please God. Believe in the name of Christ! This is our righteousness. This is our Grace! And this gives us Grace upon Grace to obey the Second Command…to Love one another as He has commanded us.
Isn’t it strange that the Apostle should feel the need to command us to Believe? I think most of us assume that we believe. We think that that should be the easy part. But it isn’t. In fact, there could not be anything more difficult for us. “Believing in Jesus” really is the command that is impossible without Grace. We need Jesus, so that we might believe in Jesus. Everything else in the Christian life dances forever around this central truth. Whenever we move away from believing in Jesus, we move toward idolatry. And when we move away from Jesus, we move away from love, away from forgiving, away from grace. This is why John ends his letter with this abrupt warning…”Little Children, keep yourselves free from idols.”
I would like to recommend an excellent book that I am presently reading called “Heaven is not my Home” by Paul Marshall. In his thought-provoking book, Marshall asserts that God is not seeking to destroy the earth, but to restore it to its original splendor. He shows us how the redemption of all things should shape the way we look at every aspect of our lives. He especially fleshes out some of the things I’ve talked about in regard to developing a healthy theology of play. (See “Christian Impact and Football” and “C.S. Lewis and a Theology of Christian Hope“). However, Marshall’s work goes much, much further. His fuller emphasis is focused on broader aspects of the Kingdom of God ‘yet to come’ and connecting those to the Kingdom of God that exists ‘right now’.