Saturday, May 17, 2014

glorying in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ

One or two notes taken from a sermon by one of our ministers some years ago. This is a summary not a verbatim quote.

Galatians 6v14. “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world”.

All religions in this world are either about salvation by works, or salvation by faith in the finished work of Christ. That has ever been the dividing line between spiritual life and spiritual death; it was the line between Jacob and Esau, Abel and Cain; it's the fundamental difference today, and the difference between those entitled to go to the Lord's Table and those who are not.

The Galatians people were showing signs of going back to works salvation. What uncertain creatures we are -- the Word, Spirit and experience teach us that. We have native antipathy to giving all the glory to Christ alone for salvation. But over against that, Paul states that he will not glory save in the Cross of Jesus Christ. He had long experience of the years the locusts had eaten while he followed works, he'd spent long enough in the camp of glorying in other things, long enough with that cracked vessel.

Three headings: 1. Paul gloried in a great name. 2. Paul gloried in the cross. 3. The world was crucified to him.

1. Glorying in a great name. In Isaiah Ch 6 we see glory given to God. That vision was given to Isaiah at the beginning, to set his feet right. The angels are saying: "We never did anything glorious, we are less than nothing compared to the One who set His face as flint to go up to Jerusalem, saying 'To do thy will I take delight' ". The angels are saying: " God forbid that we should glory".

The Bible says that His name shall be called Jesus for He shall save His people from their sins. Joshua was a type of Christ. He cleared the land of giants so his people could have possession of the land. Christ came into possession, knocking down the walls of the Jericho of man's pride, slaying the giants of unbelief, striving with Satan in the wilderness. He has come as the New Testament Joshua to destroy the works of the devil, cast down his citadels. The possessions which the New Testament Joshua has gained for His people are the sure mercies of David in the covenant of grace.

Paul gloried in His name as Christ. Christ means anointed, the Messiah. In the Old Testament, prophets were anointed to speak with the authority of God. Moses stood face to face with God and came down from the mount with his face shining so much it had to be veiled. The prophets had to receive the Spirit -- that's what the holy anointing oil represented. Christ was THE Messiah, there were many prophets, but here is the One who is the voice of wisdom, able to speak a word in season to them that are weary. He also speaks with authority. He told Zacchaeus to come down at once from the tree. He pronounces that salvation has come to this house. He cries outside the grave of Lazarus and Lazarus comes forth. Lazarus comes forth and joins them so that the little family in Bethany can be remade. (In contrast to this level of authority, Paul had to ask for men to pray that he would be given a dorr of utterance).

Christ was anointed as a priest. Paul gloried in the High Priest who was holy, harmless and undefiled. Nothing less than this One, who was holy in Himself, would suffice; though He is bone of our bone and flesh o our flesh, He is nevertheless separate from sinners. This High Priest continueth ever, in the order of Melchisedec, without end of days, He is anointed as High Priest, continuing ever with divine power to take away sins. The divinity in the High Priest means he is able to save to the uttermost.

Christ was anointed as a King. There was one high point in the history of Israel’s kings and that wad the reign of David. The Lord over-ruled the waywardness of Israel in asking for a king – He is able to accomplish His purposes with means, above means, without means etc. Saul died, David anointed goes before in the house of his father. He was set apart to receive a kingly disposition, a nearness to the Lord, “a man after mine own heart” said the Lord. There was no time like the kingship of David in the history of Israel. His head was crowned with many crowns. Let us serve Him and pay Him allegiance. Gold, frankincense and myrrh were given to Christ in the stable. No doubt the wise men from the east gave Herod his place as an earthly king but there was no glory in Herod’s crown and scepter as there was in Christ’s. When men’s feet are “put upon the rock” there is praise for heaven’s King. Do you see anything in Him worth your allegiance and zeal?

2. Glorying in the Cross. Here is the cross of the same King. Christ died there, having lived a life of pain and sorrow. He was tempted in the wilderness. A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. “Is there any sorrow like unto my sorrow” he asks. He was the seed of the woman, promised at the gates of the Garden of Eden. His great purpose was to save by the cross. He was to turn the curse into a blessing, destroy the destroyer, tramp on the head of the serpent, tread the wine-press alone.

Wherever there is to be hope of cleansing the soul from sin, even one sinful thought, there must be the cross.

The cross was a public statement that the Second Adam was bearing away the curse. The two great elements to be seen at the cross are God’s love to His people, and the justice of God being set forth.

There are “songs in the night” at the cross. There is a dark night – see Psalm 130 – “if thou should’st mark iniquity, who shall stand?” Yet there is a song there too – “but yet with thee forgiveness is, that feared thou mayest be”.

Just as there was a  savour from the sacrifice Noah offered, on leaving the ark – a savour of rest, justice having been done on the wicked people – so there is a savour of rest and completion and satisfaction of divine justice at the cross of Christ.

3. Crucified to the world. Paul experienced an alienation from the world, its values, pomp, ceremonies and priorities.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man...

One or two notes taken from a sermon by one of our ministers some years ago. This is a summary not a verbatim quote.

John 6v53

Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.

Christ is using a metaphor. V 30 shows the Jews looking for a sign. It seems they were trying to impose this thinking on the Saviour, that He should show them a sign like Moses had done. There are warnings in Scripture against this. "A wicked and adulterous generation require a sign, etc" -- this is a fruit of the native unbelief and unwillingness to accept the word of the Lord which has already ben given. Yet, in this case, Christ does use the idea of a sign.

The Jews at this point could not understand the significance of His words. Now we have the full revelation of Calvary, we can and ought to understand this figurative language here. The manna Moses gave was not THE life-giving bread; it was a miracle and sign and proof that God spoke by Moses but not THE bread. Christ points to this by saying "My Father giveth you the true bread" (v32)

In v53 Christ is giving the application of the metaphor.

1. The verse teaches there must be a receiving of Him. This is as fundamental as the Father giving Him, and He giving Himself on Calvary. A man is not a Christian unless he believes that the Father sent the Son to redeem. Christ came to do the will of Him that sent him. What a will that was, what requirements were attached to it! O how essential it is. Christ's life is not just an example or pattern of behaviour, but He lived that he might give His flesh for the world, (men of evrry kind, not just Jews). He was giving His life, it was substitution, one in the place of another, Christ crucified. This was the commandment of the Father. Christ gave Himself as a ransom for many.

But, it's equally essential that they would eat. There's a receiving of His flesh and blood by faith. It's  a spiritual receiving of the atonement.

2. The teaching is a distinguishing doctrine -- it discriminates between people.

3 These words are soul-humbling; it's a doctrine which offends or humbles.

4. It is a soul-satisfying doctrine. "My flesh is meat indeed". It is in proportion to their faith, that their soul gets satisfaction.

Monday, May 05, 2014

The thief's dying prayer

Luke 23v42, 43. "And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. 43And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise".

1. The unusual prayer. The thief preached before he prayed. He was the only person who defended Christ at the scene of the crucifixion. He never enjoyed spiritual fellow-ship with another sinner on this earth. The thief was on the cross, losing his ability to speak.

2. The prayer's content. The prayer showed that Christ was his Lord, the ruler of his life; he was not just seeing Christ as Saviour. We don't know if the thief could read, but he could see the inscription 'King of the Jews'. The words Jew and Judah means 'praise of God'.

3. Its answer. The phrase 'with me' is crucial. It refers to Christ bringing the thief close to Him, sanctifying him, and taking him into heaven as His brother. The thief would have heard the cry: "It is finished". This was the most joyous cry ever heard in the history of the earth. He'd have heard Christ commit His spirit into the hands of the Father. These were 'hands' that were as holy and just as himself. The most precious soul ever on earth was being committed to God the Father.

Friday, May 02, 2014

He that hath the bride

One or two notes taken from a sermon by one of our ministers some years ago. This is a summary not a verbatim quote.

John 3v29. "He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled". The words are those of John. Two points:

1. The unique privilege of the bridegroom. Christ is the bridegroom to the bride, His church. This was a marriage arranged beforehand, like all marriages. But this was arranged and covenanted for, in a past Eternity. There are no slip-ups in this marriage, nothing goes wrong.

2. The privilege of the bride-groom's friend. John was the special friend, like the special friend at Jewish weddings who waited for the voice of the groom. Eliezer spoke in this way on behalf of Isaac. John heard the voice of Christ. The voice was similar to the sound of the trumpet, blown at the Jubilee, when slaves were set free and debts wiped out. Again, the voice of Christ was like the sound of the bells on Aaron's garment. It's sounding showed that the High Priest had put the special garment back on, during the Great Day of Atonement and that his sacrifice on behalf of the people had been accepted. The atoning blood had been accepted. The golden bells and pomegranates hit each other, causing the sound. The golden bells signified the gospel, and they struck the pomegranates, these dried fruit signifying the finished work.