"God manifest in flesh"
Dear Friends and Neighbors, June 27, 2016
At intervals and through a constant, pressing concern as to the eternal welfare of each I count it a matter of joy to send around a few words as to the greatness of the deliverance from death – the salvation – provided without cost to each and every one of us by a compassionate Savior God.
The Word of God as set out in the Bible tells us in the 1st chapter of Hebrews that “God having spoken in many parts and in many ways formerly to the fathers in the prophets, at the end of these days has spoken to us in [the person of the] Son.” A lateral statement is found in 1st Timothy 3: “God has been manifested in flesh”. This is immense.
The Bible shows an immeasurable distance morally between a perfect, holy God and ourselves. Two of the great, essential statements in Scripture are: “by one man sin entered into the world, and by sin death; and thus death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12) and “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5). The reconciliation of these two disparities is the foundation of the Gospel – or, Glad Tidings as it is called – and is based on the wonderful and infinite reality that “God is love.” (1 John 4:8).
We all face two circumstances in respect of our path here: (1) the natural conclusion of our path here is death, as God has righteously imposed the penalty of death to halt the activity of sin – “the soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezekiel 18:20) and (2) our lives here are relatively brief. When God set man in this scene originally there was no death; however, the blessedness of the Gospel is that God is bringing man into eternal life through faith in Christ. God can maintain life for eternity – there are species of lowly coral that are estimated to be over 4,000 years old.
The sinless Man that hung on the Cross of Calvary was and is God Himself. How might God expect us as sinful men to ourselves attain to a standard of moral perfection such as is seen in Jesus Christ? The answer is that He doesn’t expect us to effectuate this – Romans 5:6 says “for we being still without strength, in [the] due time Christ has died for [the] ungodly.” A suitable state to meet God’s perfect love as set out in the Bible is not arrived at through attainment; it is, rather, provided as a plenary endowment from a gracious and compassionate Savior God.
The underlying question for any as to salvation and life essentially comes in three parts and is this: is God providing salvation freely through the redemptive work of Christ on the Cross? If He is doing this, does the Cross fully and properly meet all moral obligations and issues between man and God? And, does God have the power to effectuate salvation – i.e., can He indeed raise the dead? If the Cross of Christ satisfies these questions; then, we can have full confidence in God and the accomplished work of Christ.
The first question is answered thus – “ye are saved by grace, through faith.” In Romans 10 it is written “if thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord, and shalt believe in thine heart that God has raised him from among [the] dead, thou shalt be saved. For with [the] heart is believed to righteousness; and with [the] mouth confession made to salvation.” Many propose that there can be an acceptance with God through some means of natural, moral achievement; however, the Bible shows that our best achievements are so tainted always with the nature of our sinful estate that “all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6).
God saves us through faith which He accounts to us as righteousness since we then believe His truth. We are only called upon initially to repent and to believe. In Genesis 15:1-6 God told Abraham when he was almost 100 and was without child that his seed would be as the stars of the heaven and “he believed Jehovah and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.” The twelve tribes of Israel sprang through Abraham; but, we are told, also, “Know then that they that are on the principle of faith, these are Abraham's sons; and the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the nations on the principle of faith, announced beforehand the glad tidings to Abraham: In thee all the nations shall be blessed. So that they who are on the principle of faith are blessed with believing Abraham.” (Galatians 3:8)
God introduces a new nature through new birth and the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. This nature meets all moral obligations necessary to an unhindered eternity in a Heavenly paradise in God’s presence.
The next question is answered “yes” - God has accepted the propitiating act of Christ to atone for men’s sins on the Cross. The Bible shows that Christ moved here in absolute and sinless perfection, and then, in obedience to the will of God offered Himself as the spotless, sacrificial Lamb. He could say “I do always the things that are pleasing to him” (John 8:29). The proof that God has fully accepted Christ’s sacrificial offering of Himself on the Cross is that “Christ has been raised up from among [the] dead by the glory of the Father” (Romans 6:4).
We might think that the Cross was not such a matter to the Lord (after all, He is God); but, the Bible tells us differently: “having knelt down he prayed, saying, Father, if thou wilt remove this cup from me:—but then, not my will, but thine be done. And an angel appeared to him from heaven strengthening him. And being in conflict he prayed more intently. And his sweat became as great drops of blood, falling down upon the earth.” I ask you simply – does this affect your heart and mind? The Lord is indeed God; but, His humanity is very real.
The last question, then, is can we have confidence in God that He can and will raise the dead? The proof is that Christ has risen – the tomb is empty. The apostle writes, “concerning his Son (come of David's seed according to flesh, marked out Son of God in power, according to [the] Spirit of holiness, by resurrection of [the] dead) Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 1). History confirms this as a simple historical fact, and time in the western world in which we live is typically marked from the birth of this very Christ – i.e, B.C. and A.D.
The apostle Paul writes in 1st Thessalonians 4 – “ But we do not wish you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them that are fallen asleep, to the end that ye be not grieved even as also the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus has died and has risen again, so also God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep through Jesus.”
This is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. God labels the affairs of this world as they are. Men die because of sin and yet God “desires that all men be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4) – although, as a righteous backdrop to His message of salvation He stands “ready to judge [the] living and [the] dead.” God never excuses sin – He always judges it - He judged it in the Cross of Christ. This is righteous – otherwise, there are no final, moral judgments in His universe. Christ has born the judgment for all men; but, it only has a practical application for those who believe it. For those that have a heart softened and amenable to God “he that believes on him shall not be ashamed.”
Do not linger – you cannot say with certainty that you will be here tomorrow and “for what should a man give in exchange for his soul?” If you lack faith – ask God for help with that. He stands ready to provide wonderfully for your present circumstances and your eternity to come. God says, “life and death have I set before you, blessing and cursing: choose then life, that thou mayest live, thou and thy seed” (Deuteronomy 30:19).
Dear friends and neighbors – take sober account (if you have yet to so do) of your eternal well-being – the Bible simply says “now [is the] well-accepted time; behold, now [the] day of salvation.”