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“Oh, the unspeakable greatness of that exchange,—the Sinless One is condemned, and he who is guilty goes free; the Blessing bears the curse, and the cursed is brought into blessing; the Life dies, and the dead live; the Glory is whelmed in darkness, and he who knew nothing but confusion of face is clothed with glory.” Trailady

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A person God turned around many times.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

God was manifest in the flesh

“Without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.” (1Tim. 3:16).

“And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.” (1Jn. 4:3). The denial to identify with Jesus in His humanity is the spirit behind the antichrist. That denial, that lack or refusal of confessing His human-ness, forms the whole basis for the Christian apostasy and the loss of their first love for Him. He must be more than some mental icon, some imaginary figure. For that, He might as well be Buddha or Krishna. If all He is is some intangible “God” then He might as well be the giant mother ship Hinduism calls, “the Soul,” which all of our smaller souls follow after. Lucifer has made our Father into a meaningless, loveless, personless blob. He has “opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name” and defame His character. (Rev. 13:6).

No, our Lord must be much more tangible; much more touchable. But how? He has ascended to heaven. Must we relegate Him to the dusts of antiquity like the apostatizing Church did 1800 years ago? Must we do to Christ like Israel did to Moses, “Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this [Jesus], the Man that brought us up out of the [bondage to sin], we wot not what is become of Him.”

“For we have not an High Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” (Heb. 4:15).

“Wherefore in all things it behoved Him to be made like unto His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.” (Heb. 2:17).

“Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them.” (Heb. 7:25).

We can look to His time here as a man. We can look up to Him like a little one. With all of our great need for a big brother, we can join in His unchanging passions and timeless plans for people then, and enlist ourselves among His band of disciples. We can invite ourselves into the record He left; we can let the Holy Spirit, who always attends that record, bring that record to life and up to date, and apply it to our 21st century experience. Nothing has changed about human nature since the beginning, anyway. We can be His “little children.” (Jn. 13:33).

“And Jesus called a little child unto Him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Matt. 18:2-6).

“And were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well: He maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak.” (Mk. 7:37). We should be able to make the same statement as we watch Christ during His close up and personal ministry during the apostle’s and Moses’ day, or His more distant ministry from heaven all the rest of the time. We need to have Someone definite we can lay our eyes on. We must have a Person, well defined and recognizable, Someone who does like we do, who feels and needs like we do.

There is no greater joy than having a friend, a companion. No one wants to travel this life alone. We love society; we are social creatures. We love to do things together. The Lord said it right, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” (Gen. 2:18).

Man is made for companionship. Companionship reveals the glory of God. When there is a task to be done, we are much happier doing it with another person. When we have a difficult problem to handle, dealing with it alone makes the going much more difficult. A companion is a counselor, someone who can remind of ideas forgotten and help us keep the bigger picture. We need Jesus because He ever kept the unseen world in the forefront of His thoughts. “How … can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” was His constant motto. (Gen. 39:9). He is our best peer.

“Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (Ecc. 4:9-12).

Does Jesus offer us this same companionship? Can we still find in Him human qualities? How can He compete with our human friends if we can’t have the same communion with Him that we have so readily with our earthly companions? If we can’t identify with Him or know that He identifies with us, how will we ever give prayer the precedence over conversation with our human friends or even strangers?

The little child looks up to his parents for support and guidance. And anyone who does this to Jesus is the greatest in the kingdom. Do we look to Jesus for the same kind of support as the little child? Does He walk and talk with us like He did with the disciples? Or is He remote, sitting on His throne like Lincoln in his memorial?

Those disciples lived in an atmosphere of His acceptance and grace. The groundwork for that atmosphere was laid by His Father through God’s maintaining the grievous consequences of their sin and thus creating in them the need for grace. Then Jesus could show them that grace. He knew how essential grace and friendship is to the well-rounded development or rehabilitation of every human being. He never failed to give them gracious love daily, repeatedly, in an on-going fashion, and to provide them counsel.

This is God in the flesh. Whoever doesn’t preach this, or even neglects to preach this, according to John, “is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come.” Allah never condescends to draw near us. He or it never leaves the sanctity and safety of his hiding place to mingle with sinners, but stays there throwing lightning bolts at us, the author of guerrilla warfare. Buddha, at the other extreme, never threatens us. He remains in death-like peace and Nirvana, and remoter still than Allah. Djwahl Kuhl never leaves the “astral planes.”

The living God alone has come to spend time with us. “Let them make Me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.” (Ex. 25:8). Not only did they build Him a sanctuary tent and two larger buildings in which to abide, but, through His providences and abundant grace and justice, they provided Him a holy line though which to be incarnated. He had dealt with Israel and their failures in temptation and in the daily routines of life, and now He would live with them in the flesh.

Daily He reproved their selfishness, but daily He found every opportunity to reveal His deep love for them through the riches of His grace. They could identify with Him. He wasn’t a distant Creator that Satan could easily impersonate. He became one of them. They ate and talked and walked with Him. He was flesh and blood, carrying all the infirmities they did. He sang and thrilled their hearts. He prayed for them and won their love. He strictly kept under the Law, happy to do His Father’s commandments, and earned their respect and worship.

His teaching was light-years ahead of the rabbis, and the people heard Him gladly. His communication skills were without peer. Truly a greater than Solomon was present before them. Who could convict Him of a fault or of sin? No one dared even to try! Yet He never preached about Himself. He never asked anyone to worship Him. He was always pointing the people to the God in heaven.

Today, two thousand years after His ascension, how can we identify with Him like they could? He isn’t here in person; He doesn’t charm us with His beautiful righteousness. He doesn’t preach the good news to us and convert our hearts. He doesn’t, in person, bend every effort to reveal His love and grace for us. All of that happened 2,000 years ago in the Holy Land, but what about me right here and right now. He whom their eyes had seen and their hands had handled, what about my eyes and my hands? I want to see and touch and listen to Him too!

But if I can’t touch and embrace Him and sit at His feet here and now, how can I identify with Him like they could? How can I identify with a God sitting on His throne? Is He nothing but some abstract icon? Even if He were to only sit on a throne somewhere, in my culture and in this age, we don’t care about worshipping someone who just sits there. Maybe in some other place and time that was acceptable, but not for this generation. Even if Christ is pleading His blood, how does the average human being identify with that? Does every candidate for faith in Jesus have to be retrained before he can have faith, or is there something about Jesus that we all can naturally identify with?

How can the typical secularist westerner detect love and grace from Christendom’s typical idolatrous description of Jesus in heaven? Or is it no wonder that they never step foot in a church and left it when their parents or pastor could no longer stop them?

Can the Jesus of today in the heavenly places only be known by what was written of Him in the gospels? Even if we know that He is officiating in the heavenly tabernacle like the Aaronic priesthood did in the OT, how can the modern every-day man identify with priests in white robes doing priest things? I mean personally identify.

We need an active, living Son of God. He must do more than the gods of this world’s religions. “They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not:
They have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not:
They have hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat.
They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them.” (Ps. 115:5-8).

I commend to you the living, breathing Jesus of Nazareth, who hasn’t changed the way He loves us with both mercy and justice. He is the same today as He was in yesteryear. John saw Him, not an icon sitting on a throne, but walking amongst the candles of the sanctuary. “If, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” (Rom. 5:10).

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