“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” Because “we all reflect as in a mirror the splendour of the Lord; thus we are transfigured into His likeness, from splendour to splendour; such is the influence of the Lord who is Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18) Yet, “we are no better than pots of earthenware to contain the treasure, and this proves that such transcendent power does not come from us, but is God’s alone.” (2 Corinthians 4:7) “We cannot claim anything as our own. The qualification we have comes from God.” (2 Corinthians 3:6) Only “[His] Spirit gives life.” (2 Corinthians 3:6)
Not only this, but “wherever we go we carry death with us in our body, the death that Jesus died, that in this body also life may reveal itself, the life that Jesus lives.” (2 Corinthians 4:10)
“No wonder we do not lose heart! Though our outward humanity is in decay, yet day by day we are inwardly renewed.” (2 Corinthians 4:16) “Our eyes are fixed, not on the things that are seen, but on the things that are unseen: for what is seen passes away; what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:18) “We possess a building which God provides — a house not made by human hands, eternal, and in heaven.” (2 Corinthians 5:1-2)
And so, “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”
“God makes the wisdom of this world look foolish.” (1 Corinthians 1:21) “The world fails to find Him by its wisdom, and [God] chooses to save those who have faith by the folly of the Gospel.” (1 Corinthians 1:22) “The Word [doctrine] of the cross is sheer folly to those on their way to ruin, but to us who are on the way to salvation it is the power of God.” Paul therefore says that he “declares the attested truth of God without display of fine words or wisdom.” He “resolves that while [he] is with [the Corinthians] [he] will think of nothing but Jesus Christ — Christ nailed to the cross.” (1 Corinthians 2:1,2) “The gospel [he] proclaims does not sway [them] with subtle arguments.” Instead, “it carries conviction by spiritual power.” Therefore, “faith [is] built not on human wisdom but upon the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:4,5) Paul “speaks God’s hidden wisdom, His secret purpose framed from the very beginning.” (1 Corinthians 2:7-8) This wisdom is “revealed to us through the Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 2:10) “This is the Spirit we receive from God, and not the spirit of the world.” (1 Corinthians 2:12)
Paul tells us our faith comes through the Spirit of God, through God’s wisdom which appears to be “sheer folly” to the world. The spirit of the world leads people “to ruin” while the Spirit of God leads those who believe to “salvation.” No fine words or subtle arguments are necessary because the Spirit we receive is directly from God. Paul calls this Gospel “the attested truth of God” which is “Christ nailed to the cross.” This Gospel is God’s “secret purpose framed from the very beginning.”
“[We] are God’s garden. Or again, [we] are God’s building.” And, “there is no other foundation beyond that which is already laid; [Paul] means Jesus Christ Himself.” (1 Corinthians 3:9,10,11)
After raising Lazarus from the dead — the very next day, in fact — Jesus heads towards Jerusalem to celebrate the Jewish Passover. Pilgrims who heard of the resurrection “come out to meet [Jesus], shouting, ‘Hosanna [Save!] Blessings on Him who comes in the Name of the Lord!'”
“The people present when [Jesus] called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead tell what they saw and heard. That is why the crowd goes to meet Him; they heard of this sign He performed.” (John 12:17-18)
In raising Lazarus, Jesus demonstrates His power is equivalent to the power of God, the Father. And, Jesus shows us emerging from the grave is possible, even before His own resurrection. Jesus says to Martha, Lazarus’ sister, “‘Did I not tell you that if you have faith you will see the glory of God?'” (John 11:40-41) while commanding, “‘Take away the stone.'” (John 11:39)
“The man who loves himself is lost.” (John 12:25) “A grain of wheat remains a solitary grain unless it falls into the ground and dies; but if it dies, it bears a rich harvest.” (John 12:24)
Jesus rides the colt of a donkey into Jerusalem. He says, “‘Now My soul is in turmoil, and what am I to say? Father, save Me from this hour? No, it was for this that I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your Name.’ A voice sounds from heaven: ‘I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.'” (John 12:27-29)
Peter testifies,”But God shows me that I should not call any man impure or unclean.” (Acts 10:28) Cornelius testifies, “Suddenly a man in shining clothes stands before me and says, ‘Cornelius, God hears your prayer and remembers your gifts to the poor.” (Acts 10:31) God tells Cornelius to send for Peter; and Peter comes to a man — he once considered impure and unclean — in obedience to God’s call.
Peter testifies, “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear Him and do what is right.” (Acts 10:34) Peter tells us, “Everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His Name.” (Acts 10:43)
“The gift of the Holy Spirit is poured out even on the Gentiles.” (Acts 10:45) Therefore Peter says, “Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 10:47)
“Therefore,” commands Jesus, “go and make disciples of all nations.” (Matthew 28:19)
Take your stand on and in the good news of Jesus Christ crucified and raised from the dead. Take your stand on realizing you are unfit to untie and re-tie His sandals. Take your stand on Jesus washing your feet. You do not wash His.
Jesus tells Peter, “Unless I wash you, you have no part in Me.” When Peter hears this, he demands that Jesus wash “my hands and my head as well!” But Jesus says, “A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean.” (John 13:8,9,10)
“Do you understand,” asks Jesus, “what I have done for you?” (John 13:12)
I don’t think we do, at least not fully. I don’t think we understand the abundant life of which Jesus speaks; or the command He gives that “[we] also should wash one another’s feet.” (John 13:14) I’m not sure we even understand that “no servant is greater than his master, nor is the messenger greater than the One who sent him.” (John 13:16) “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)
Jesus says, “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” (John 13:17)
Friday, April 15, 2011 at 9:13pm
“For all alike have sinned” — not some, but all. “And [all] are deprived of the divine splendour,” separated from God the Father by that very sin. “And all are justified by God’s free grace alone.” The grace of God — although free — is priceless and the only requirement for justification.
That we attempt to add to God’s grace is a huge waste of energy and time. “What room is left for human pride? It is excluded. And on what principle? The keeping of the law would not exclude it, but faith does. For our argument is that a man is justified by faith quite apart from success in keeping the law.” (Romans 3:27-28)
In addition to this principle,”God’s act of grace is out of all proportion to Adam’s wrongdoing.” (Romans 5:15) “The gift of God is not to be compared in its effect with that one man’s sin; for the judicial action, following upon the one offence, issued in a verdict of condemnation, but the act of grace, following upon so many misdeeds, issued in a verdict of acquittal.” (Romans 5:16)
We are acquitted. The judge has struck the gavel and declared us ‘not guilty.’ “The conclusion of the matter is this: there is no condemnation for those who are united with Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)
“Keep watch over your ability and prudence, do not let them slip from sight; they shall be a charm hung about your neck and an ornament on your breast. Then you will go your way without a care, and your feet will not stumble.”
“Do not spurn the Lord’s correction or take offence at His reproof; for those whom He loves the Lord reproves, and He punishes a favourite son.” (Proverbs 3:11-12) “Can anyone be a son, who is not disciplined by his father? If you escape the discipline in which all sons share, you must be bastards and no true sons. Again, we paid due respect tot he earthly fathers who disciplined us; should we not submit even more readily to our spiritual Father, and so attain life? They disciplined us for this short life according to their lights; but He does so for our true welfare, so that we may share His holiness. Discipline, no doubt, is never pleasant; at the time it seems painful, but in the end it yields for those who have been trained by it the peaceful harvest of an honest life. Come, then, stiffen your drooping arms and shaking knees, and keep your steps from wavering.” (Hebrews 12: 7-12) Remember,”in your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.” (Hebrews 12:4-5)
“Throw off every encumbrance, every sin to which [you] cling, and run with resolution the race for which [you] are entered, [your] eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom faith depends from start to finish: Jesus who, for the sake of the joy that lay ahead of Him, endured the cross, making light of its disgrace, and has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of God. Think of Him who submitted to such opposition from sinners: that will help you not to lose heart and grow faint.” (Hebrews 12:1-3)
Live an honest life, which results from maintaining your focus on Christ. “Think of Him” at all times; do “not lose heart.” Do not “grow faint.” “Keep your steps from wavering;” “stiffen…[your] shaking knees.”
“Who is a god like You? You take away guilt, You pass over the sin of the remnant of Your own people, You do not let Your anger rage for ever but delight in love that will not change. Once more You will show us tender affection and wash out our guilt, casting all our sins into the depths of the sea. You will show good faith to Jacob, unchanging love to Abraham, as You did swear to our fathers in days gone by.”
“And Mary says: ‘Tell out, my soul, the greatness of the Lord, rejoice, rejoice, my spirit, in God my saviour… His Name is Holy; His mercy sure from generation to generation toward those who fear Him; the deeds His own right arm has done disclose His might: the arrogant of heart and mind He has put to rout, He has brought down monarchs from their thrones, but the humble have been lifted high. The hungry He has satisfied with good things, but the rich sent empty away. He has ranged Himself at the side of Israel His servant; firm in His promise to our forefathers, He has not forgotten to show mercy to Abraham and his children’s children, for ever.’ ” (Luke 1:46-47,49-55)
God does not forget. He remembers His promises. He takes away guilt; He casts all our sins into the sea. His love is unchanging; His mercy sure. He satisfies the hungry; and sends away the rich. He heals the sick; and questions the healthy, saying: “I guess you have no need of Me?” He routs the arrogant; and lifts the humble. He does not forget His promises to the remnant of His people — those He loves and calls according to His purpose.
“For at the very time when we were still powerless, then Christ died for the wicked [that is, for us]. Even for a just man one of us would hardly die, though perhaps for a good man one might actually brave death; but Christ died for us while we were yet sinners, and that is God’s own proof of His love towards us.”
When did God’s Son die for us? “When we were still powerless.” When we were “wicked,” “while we were yet sinners.” Why did God send His Son to die for us? Christ’s death “is God’s own proof of His love towards us.”
We didn’t earn God’s love. Rather, “in Christ He chose us before the world was founded, to be dedicated, to be without blemish in His sight, to be full of love; and He destined us — such was His will and pleasure — to be accepted as His sons through Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 1:3-5) “For it is by grace [we] are saved, through trusting Him; it is not [our] own doing.” (Ephesians 2:8) “God, rich in mercy, for the great love He bore us, brought us to life with Christ even when we were dead in our sins; it is by grace [we] are saved.” (Ephesians 2:4-5)
“And although [we] were dead because of [our] sins and because [we] were morally uncircumcised, [God] has made [us] alive with Christ. For He has forgiven us all our sins; He has canceled the bond which pledged us to the decrees of the law. It stood against us, but He has set it aside, nailing it to the cross.” (Colossians 2:13-14)
We are free from the law of sin and death because Christ died for us — the ungodly, while we were still powerless. Praise be to God, our Lord and Savior.
Last night, under the threat of a thunderstorm, I briskly walked with one of my best friends and her cousin around my neighborhood. The air was filled with humidity while being totally still — as it is before a tornado. Also, the temperature was cooler than the day had been.
We walked quickly, noting how dark the houses seemed. We strolled into and then out of several cul-de-sacs, talking all the while on all sorts of topics: from raspberries to colleges to religion to the benefits of walking for at least thirty minutes after meals to sex offenders to our children — our conversation of topics oddly mixed like vegetables in a tossed salad.
Later, I slept like a baby.