April 16, 2017
The Resurrection and the Believer
“And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.” (Colossians 1:18)
The resurrection of Christ is no less crucial to the gospel than the death of Christ. If He did not rise from the dead, then we who believe in Him “are of all men most miserable” (1 Corinthians 15:19).
Christ’s resurrection assures us, first of all, of our justification. Speaking of Abraham’s faith and the imputation of God’s righteousness to him, Paul writes, “For us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification” (Romans 4:24-25).
God imparts to us the power to serve Him effectively through the resurrection, “that [we] may know . . . what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead” (Ephesians 1:18-20). As the passage continues, Paul declares that through the resurrection Christ is now “the head over all things to the church, which is His body” (vv. 22-23 and also in our text).
In His resurrected and glorified state, Christ continues His ministry to us. “Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens. . . . Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:14, 16).
Finally, Christ’s resurrection assures us that we too will one day be resurrected, if we should die before He returns. “He which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus” (2 Corinthians 4:14). JDM
|April 14, 2017
Born to Die
“For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)
Especially as noted in the gospel of John, Christ identified many reasons why He had been born. Consider the following sampling of verses and references. First and foremost, Christ came to redeem those who would believe: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). But under that umbrella of redemption come many other aspects.
Jesus said, “My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work” (John 4:34). God’s will was paramount even in judgment (John 5:30) as well as resurrection. “This is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:40). It also governed His teaching (7:16-17). In everything, Christ sought to bring glory to His Father (7:18).
Many aspects of Christ’s work are to be realized in this life, for He said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). His desire in it all was that we might have an eternal relationship with God. “That they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3).
But the primary goal was to bring to climax His redemptive strategy. He knew that none of the other aspects of His work had any effect without atonement for sin, which was only possible if a blood sacrifice was made for that sin. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep” (John 10:11). This was the reason He came to Earth. JDM
|April 13, 2017
“Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour.” (Ephesians 5:1-2)
Incense in Scripture has a variety of rich and meaningful usages, particularly as related to the blood sacrifice. “And thou shalt make an altar to burn incense upon: . . . And thou shalt put it before the vail that is by the ark of the testimony, before the mercy seat that is over the testimony, where I will meet with thee” (Exodus 30:1, 6). Without this incense, it was impossible to meet with God in this prescribed way. It was to be offered both morning and evening (vv. 7-8). Great care was to be taken in its preparation (vv. 34-36), and it was not to be used for any other purpose (vv. 37-38).
In the New Testament we find a totally different application of this principle. As in our text, we see that Jesus Christ Himself has become an offering and a “sweet-smelling savour” to God. His freely offering Himself is an example to us to live a life of sacrifice and love.
While He was the final sacrifice, we are to “present [our] bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is [our] reasonable service” (Romans 12:1). This may even take the form of material “things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God” (Philippians 4:18).
In the mind of God, our life of sacrifice is a sweet-smelling savor. “Thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place. For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish” (2 Corinthians 2:14-15). Without our willing, living sacrifice, we cannot approach God, but with it, we are a “sweet savour of Christ.” JDM
|April 11, 2017
The Same Mind
“Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” (1 Corinthians 1:10)
The days of the early church were the days of its greatest power because they were days of its greatest unity. “They, continuing daily with one accord . . . and singleness of heart.” “And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: . . . and great grace was upon them all” (Acts 2:46; 4:32-33). It was not long, however, before divisions, contentions, and schisms crept in. Therefore, the New Testament contains many exhortations toward a restoration of the unity—and thus the power—of the early church. Note the following examples.
“Be of the same mind one toward another” (Romans 12:16). “Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God” (Romans 15:5-6). “Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you” (2 Corinthians 13:11). “Stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27). “Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind” (Philippians 2:2). “Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous” (1 Peter 3:8).
Real unity, of course, must be both “the unity of the Spirit” and “the unity of the faith” (Ephesians 4:3, 13), and “the same mind” must be nothing less than the mind of Christ. “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5). HMM
|April 10, 2017
A Good Name
“A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one’s birth.” (Ecclesiastes 7:1)
It seems odd at first that Solomon would link these two maxims together. How is the day of death better than birth, and what has this to do with the value of one’s good name? The great king had once enjoyed a name synonymous with godliness and great wisdom, but his name had eventually become so sullied with the excesses of wealth and fleshly indulgence that he began to long even for death. It is a tragic thing for godly young people to allow their good names to be ruined by careless carnality, thenceforth never to be able to fulfill the promise their lives once seemed to carry. Solomon could employ all the most costly ointments and other comforts to ease his declining years, but they could never redeem his good name. “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold. The rich and poor meet together: the LORD is the maker of them all” (Proverbs 22:1-2).
The Christian believer has a double incentive to maintain a good name, of course, for his words and deeds inevitably reflect, for good or ill, on the name of Christ as well. When we cause our own names to be damaged, we also (as David did) give “great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme” (2 Samuel 12:14), and there are, sadly, many such enemies eagerly watching for us to give them yet another occasion to “blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called” (James 2:7).
In a very real sense, of course, even those who do maintain a good name all their lives can joyfully anticipate the day of death. Christ has promised: “I will write upon him the name of my God . . . and I will write upon him my new name” (Revelation 3:12). That will, indeed, be a “good name” and one we shall enjoy forever! HMM