Wednesday, October 19, 2011

This is My Story, This is My Song!

As is true of all Scripture, God intends that this story – a story of His saving grace poured out freely on needy humans – should become our story as well. 
For indeed, this is the story of all who follow Christ. For Christians, personal salvation is very similar to the story of the Pentateuch. God, the Sovereign of the universe, breaks into our personal history and provides a solution for our brokenness. Because of His love and grace, He provides salvation by His own revelation in history (incarnation). God gives us prophets and teachers to interpret his historical acts and help us maintain our relationship with Him. The rest of the story is one of growth in grace, or the imitation of our Saviour. So the gospel of Jesus Christ was also the gospel of the Israelites.
-B. Arnold and B. Beyer, Encountering the Old Testament, Baker Books, 1999, pg 68.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Hear His Voice

The Holy Spirit is acknowledged as the one who spoke ‘through David’ in the writing of Psalm 95. The Spirit continues to speak to subsequent generations of Christians through this scripture, warning them to make each day a fresh ‘Today’ in which to hear His voice and live. 

David G. Peterson, New Bible Commentary; Hebrews, IVP, Pg. 1329

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Why Does Jesus Identify With Us? (Part 2)

Nearly all reject the weak and poor as objects of disgust; an earthly king cannot bear the sight of them, rulers turn away from them, while the rich ignore them and pass them by when they meet them as though they did not exist; nobody thinks it desirable to associate with them. 
But God, who is served by myriads of powers without number, who “upholds the universe by the word of His power,” whose majesty is beyond anyone’s endurance, has not disdained to become the Father, the Friend, the Brother of those rejected ones. He willed to become incarnate so that He might become “like unto us in all things except for sin” and make us to share in His glory and His kingdom. What stupendous riches of His great goodness! What an ineffable condescension on the part of our master and our 
Symeon the New Theologian 
Discourse 2.4

Jesus the Suffering Conqueror

Because of Jesus’ resurrection, all threats against you are tamed if you trust in Christ. Jesus conquered death, so death and evil done to you is not the end of the story and you can have hope. In the book of Revelation, one of the key themes is conquering through suffering. This theme is evident in the number of the occurrences of the verb “to conquer” in the book. John describes amazing promises to Christians, addressing the promises specifically to those who “conquer”:
-To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God. (2:7)
-The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death. (2:11)
-To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it. (2:17)
-The one who conquers and who keeps My word until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations. (2:26)
-the one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. (3:5)
-The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from My God out of heaven, and My own new name. (3:12)
-The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with Me on My throne, as I also conquered and sat down with My father on His throne. (3:21)

How will these staggering promises come to pass? How will they conquer amid affliction and persecution? How will they find the strength to endure and overcome against all odds? John provides the answer: they will conquer by looking by faith to the One who has already conquered, Jesus Christ. We read in Revelation 5:5-6:
    And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”
    And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain
John describes Jesus as the kingly Lion and the meek Lamb who has conquered all of His and our enemies. Jesus has conquered His enemies through His suffering and death on the cross, and yet he is also one who has been slaughtered. Jesus is “the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth,” and He is the one “who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood and made us a kingdom of priests to His God and Father.” We reign with Him because He died and freed us and made us a kingdom for His glory.

Justin & Lindsey Holcomb, Rid of My Disgrace: Hope and Healing for Victims of Sexual Assault, Crossway Publishers, 2011, pg. 147-148

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. (John 14:27)

Peace is Jesus’ bequest to His disciples. Peace was commonly used at this time as a word of greeting (20:19, 21, 26) or of farewell. It thus comes in aptly in this final discourse of our Lord’s. But the expression used here is not the usual formula of farewell; Jesus is using the term in His own way for His own purposes. The repetition of “peace” is impressive. The concept is important. Having stated positively what He gives, Jesus goes on to differentiate this give from anything that the world can give. When the world uses “peace” in a greeting it expresses a hope. It can do no more. And even that it usually does in no more than a conventional sense like our “good-bye” (= “God be with you”). But Christ effectually gives His people peace. Moreover, the peace of which He speaks is not dependent on outward circumstances, as any peace the world can give must necessarily be. Because He gives people such a peace Jesus can enjoin them not to be troubled in heart no cowardly. A Christ given serenity excludes both. In the Bible “peace” is given a wider and deeper meaning than in other Greek writings. For the Greeks (and for us) peace was essentially negative, the absence of war. But for the Hebrews it means positive blessings, especially a right relationship with God. This is to be seen in the Old Testament and is carried over into the New. The word here has its fullest content. 

Leon Morris, The Gospel According to John, New International Commentary on the New Testament, Eerdmans, 1995, pg. 583-584