Jesus’ Sacrifice Trivial? (2 of 2)

crucifixion 3

(Continued from yesterday)

Now let me give a little theology before I respond to skeptics. When man sinned, the result is spiritual death or eternal separation from God:
Rom 6:23 For the wages of sin is death,

However, God loved us and did not want us to be forever separated from Him, so He offered to take our place:
Rom 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

But there is a problem. God is eternal and cannot die:
1 Tim 1:17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
In order for God to die on man’s behalf, He had to become a man:
Jn 1:14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
This is called the incarnation. Thus Jesus has two natures – His original divine nature as God the Son, to which was added His human nature when He became man.

What some people do not realize is that Jesus did not take on a human nature for only the 33 years while He was on earth, but even after His resurrection and ascension:
Lk 24:39 See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.
• Jn 20:27 Then He said to Thomas, “Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.”
• Acts 1:11 They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”

So contrary to what cults and some people believe, the divine Christ did not descend on the human Jesus for only 33 years and then leave. God the Son actually became man for all eternity after the incarnation.

Let’s get back to the skeptics. The trouble with them is that in their minds, their view of man (themselves) is too high, while their view of God is too low. From God’s perspective, the significance of Christ’s sacrifice is that the sinless Son of God offered Himself to substitute for man. The emphasis is on His deity. Since God is infinite, Jesus’ death is sufficient to atone for the sins of all men throughout human history. That would be a large number, but finite. The suffering is not just on the physical scourging and crucifixion, even though that’s one of the most cruel and painful tortures invented by men. The anguish is more on the spiritual and emotional, with Jesus carrying all the sins of all humanity on Himself:
2 Co 5:21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

The skeptics, however, see Jesus as little more than a man, may be even less, as some people have suffered longer or more intensely than He. They do not see the condescension of the Creator of the universe becoming a creature in the incarnation, nor what’s involved in atoning for sin. The incarnation gap, by the way, is infinitely more than say man becoming an ant, as both man and ant are creatures, and man does not have power to create even an ant. So skeptics dwell only on the physical, human level, thinking how short is 3 days compared to eternity. That’s not even the right perspective. No wonder they got it all wrong! Jesus took on human nature for all eternity future. He rose after three days to show that God is pleased with the atoning sacrifice, otherwise it would have to be repeated as in OT sacrifices. Foreknowledge of the resurrection does not lessen the mental anguish and pain of all the sins of all mankind bearing on Him, something the skeptics could not even begin to imagine. His sacrifice is acceptable to the Father, but not the skeptics. What arrogance! What ingratitude!

God is not too small, and Christ’s sacrifice is not too puny; the depraved mind and the darkened heart of the skeptics is. God offered them His best, but they just couldn’t see it, treating it as dirt with disdain. Reminds me of Mt 7:6:
• Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

But our task is not to judge but to proclaim the gospel. So we try to be gentle and patient as the Lord leads us. Hope this helps.

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Jesus’ Sacrifice Trivial? (1 of 2)

passover lamb 2

Q. Can’t it be argued that Jesus didn’t really sacrifice Himself? Yes He endured the physical pain, but not the mental anguish that comes from not knowing what would happen to Him after He died. Since He knew He would rise again and get His life back in 3 days, doesn’t that nullify His life as a “sacrifice” and render it a temporary loss instead?
If you knew for example that you had to have your hand chopped off as a punishment, but that it would grow back in 3 days, it would be much easier to accept knowing it would be a temporary pain and to just “get it over with”

A. Before we listen to the words of men, let’s see what God had to say about Jesus’ sacrifice:

1 Co 5:7 … For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed.
• Eph 5:2 and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.
• Heb 7:27 who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.
• Heb 9:26 Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.
• Heb 10:8-12 After saying above, “SACRIFICES AND OFFERINGS AND WHOLE BURNT OFFERINGS AND sacrifices FOR SIN YOU HAVE NOT DESIRED, NOR HAVE YOU TAKEN PLEASURE in them” (which are offered according to the Law), then He said, “BEHOLD, I HAVE COME TO DO YOUR WILL.” He takes away the first in order to establish the second. By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD,
• Heb 10:14 For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.

Notice the following:
• Christ is the Passover lamb. The lamb was sacrificed so that when the LORD saw its blood on the doorposts and the lintel, He passed over that house to spare the firstborn of the Israelites (Ex 12:7, 12-13). In the same way, He was sacrificed so that those who trust in Him are spared.
• Christ gave Himself up for us i.e. voluntarily, out of love. No one compelled Him. Jn 10:17-18 because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative.
• Unlike OT sacrifices which had to be repeated daily because they can never take away sins, He did it once for all, for all time, because that was sufficient.
• The effect was to put away sin and perfect forever those who are sanctified (set apart).
• After the sacrifice Jesus sat down at the right hand of God, meaning that God accepted and was satisfied with His offering, seating Him at the place of honor.

The emphasis was on the sufficiency and efficacy of Christ’s sacrifice, not on its duration. Why? Because of who Christ is, the Son of God, and no mere man. The significance was not on the “three days”, even though that had been prophesied repeatedly.

(To be continued)

Jesus’ Perfection

Jesus perfect 3

Q. Last Sunday the speaker told us not to be too hung up on Christmas, because Jesus had to be dedicated, circumcised and fulfill all the OT requirements in order to be perfect. What’s your opinion on this?

A. I have not heard the speaker for myself, but based on what you reported I would disagree with his premise. To claim that in order to be perfect, Jesus had to fulfill all OT requirements is to state that He achieved perfection by works or performance, which is heretical.

First, Jesus is perfect because He is God:
Col 2:9 For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form,
In fact, He is the standard by which perfection is measured. He did not have to fulfill His own laws to qualify. It’s His nature.

Secondly, perfection can never come through the Levitical priesthood or the Law:
Heb 7:11 Now if perfection was through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the people received the Law), what further need was there for another priest to arise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be designated according to the order of Aaron?
Jesus is priest according to the order of Melchizedek, higher than the order of Aaron.

The only sense Jesus need to be perfected was through sufferings:
Heb 2:10 For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings.
This does not refer to Jesus being deficient in any moral sense. It only points out that as God Jesus had not experienced human suffering. Therefore He had to be made perfect or complete by suffering what we went through to sympathize with our weakness:
Heb 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.

I believe Jesus is perfect because of who He is, not because of what He had done. The latter flows out of the former, not the other way around. Doing follows being.

Flax Spiritual Lessons

We went to the Maritimes with our friends for a little rest and recreation after our short-term mission, which vacation turned out to be educational as well. For example, at King’s Landing, New Brunswick, we learned a bit of history about early settlers from the British Isles to Canada. The agricultural setting gave us some reminders of biblical truths. For instance, the yoke recalled Jesus’ yoke in Mt 11:29-30, or “unequally yoked” in 2 Co 6:14. And the muzzle brought to mind how we should look after our pastors in 1 Co 9:9 or 1 Tim 5:18.

But a very interesting lesson came from the flax plant. Farmers grow flax for both food and fiber. The plant is pretty with small bluish flowers. The seed is like brown sesame and rich in omega-3. The stem is long like that of rice or wheat. However, it is how the plant is turned into useful products that provided the object lesson. Going back to the old days when most jobs are manual, the mature plant is pulled up by the roots, sun-dried, and the grains removed by threshing. The straw is then retted for up to two months, during which time the sun and the rain produce an enzyme that breaks down the bond between the straw’s outer stalk and the inner fibers.

After retting the outer straw is broken into smaller pieces on a crusher, which is shaped like a paper-cutter except that the edge is not sharp. The “chopper” breaks the stalk but leaves the long fibers intact. The fibers look like long blond hair, and are drawn through a bed of long nails called a hackle or heckle to separate them into strands. The individual strands are then spun on a spindle into threads, which are 2-3 times stronger than cotton, and transferred onto a loom to be woven into cloth.

The preparation process is an analogy to the Christian life. To be useful in God’s hands, Abraham, Jacob and Joseph had to be uprooted for their training. Paul had to suffer beatings (2 Co 6:5; threshing). Retting is soaking flax or hemp in water to soften it and separate the fibers. It is removal of the woody tissues by partial rotting. In the same way, Joseph, Moses and David had to be put on the sideline and wait to learn humility. Heckling resembles afflictions. Paul knew about being afflicted in every way, but not crushed; struck down, but not destroyed (2 Co 4:8-9). Though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day (2 Co 4:16).

Most of us would shy away from any form of suffering, because we have not learned its value. But not Paul, who said in Rom 5:3-4 “but we exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character”. If only we’ve truly learned the theology of suffering, we would have been much better Christians and the Church would have a much greater impact. Pray that all of us would learn to pay the cost of discipleship.

Top - horn yoke; bottom - neck yoke

Top – horn yoke; bottom – neck yoke

Muzzle

Muzzle

 

Flax plant

Flax plant

Flax chopper

Flax chopper

Heckling

Heckling

Spinning into yarn

Spinning into yarn

Weaving into cloth

Weaving into cloth

God’s Will (2 of 3)

God's will 20

(Continued from yesterday)

Yesterday we’ve explored the revealed will of God pertaining to His preceptive will and will of disposition, in particular concerning salvation. He does not wish for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. What else does the Bible tell us about His will?

* 1 Thes 4:3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality;

God wants us not only to be saved, but to be holy. He wants us to be pure. The basic meaning of holy is to be separated. Often we tend to follow the crowd, what the majority do. But God wants us not to walk as the Gentiles walk. Do not be like them. Do you follow the world, or do you separate yourself from their ways?

But what if we fail? Well, God provided for that too:

* 2 Co 7:9-10 I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point ofrepentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.

He made us sorrowful according to His will, so that we would repent and not suffer loss. Do not view only blessings as from God, for there is a purpose for sorrow as well.

And not only sorrow, but even suffering:

* 1 Pet 4:19 Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.

Paul said, “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted (2 Tim 3:12)”. Peter added, when “you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed … but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name (1 Pet 1:14, 16)”. So, even suffering can be according to God’s will when we suffer for Christ’s sake to glorify His name.

One more God’s will for you. What should our attitude be in the midst of difficulties?

* 1 Thes 5:18 In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

When we are saved, sanctified, sorrowful, suffering, we ought to be thankful. Not complaining “why me”, but grateful that God chose us as His worthy vessel to glorify Him. It’s the character of a Spirit-filled Christian. Now, are you thankful, or ungrateful?

(To be continued)