“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, February 18, 2010

Let’s plug Him in

David said, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn Thy statutes. The law of Thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver.” (Ps. 119: 71,72).

The whole of the 119th psalm is all about both the law and the victorious Christian life. The two can actually go together! Amazed? Listen to Paul’s explanation on this most important theme.

Please take a look at Romans 7:11-17, 7:22-8:4.

Maybe you noticed that Romans 8 is part of Romans 7. Chapter 8 is not a new idea in this context, but simply Paul’s conclusion of the trouble of human nature and its relation to law as seen in the previous chapter. Notice, too, that his approach to the law (or to the Bible, which is the law for us today) was on the level of intellectual assent (Rom. 7:16). Mental assent is the reason he could not obey the commandments. No one can ever obey the will of another unless he is perfectly surrendered to that person. Intellectual assent does not go far enough to drive obedience. Perfect obedience needs more than the fuel of just reasoning with an idea, it needs the lightning bolt of conviction from a person.

It’s a general principle. “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey?” (Rom. 6:16).

What Paul realized was that only God through Christ could save him from sin. So, even though he delighted in the law after the inward man, now he began to seek Christ in the law and this transformed “the law” into “the Law of Christ” or the Law of God. Alone, the law is our enemy, but the Law of Christ, or the Law of God, which the Spirit of God can use for our advantage, becomes our friend. Once reconciled to Jesus as a friend, then we are OK with His Law, His will.

What we need to see is both the Law, its principles, its guidance for life, and a Person, a Friend, an Advocate who has been through what we’ve been through, and in whom we can identify and trust. No sinner can trust a list of rules. Trust is too personal and private for that. We are made in God’s image, and trust is sacred to every human being, not to be put into anything so trifling as simply a list of ideas, even if they look good. Faith must be entrusted in a person.

So, it is obligitory on us to make the effort to place Jesus back into the law, the Bible. Actually, much of the Bible is written as principles. These principles are “holy, and just, and good” (Rom. 7:12); they are time-honored, good for all time, good through both Old and New Testament. However, little of it has Jesus obviouly centered in its focus.

There is a good reason for this lack. The Spirit of God has written both testaments like this because the offer of Jesus puts grace into the Law, but the grace of God was an offer that for much of the time of the whole sin-filled world—God’s people included—whether it was Israel or the Christian church, was in no condition to accept. (Gal. 4:4). Instead of receiving it and Him, in our ignorance we would have presumed upon God’s provision for our redemption—the provision of His dear Son seen in His laws. This provision would have been the power of God unto salvation, and until the world was at its lowest condition under satanic rule, it would not have needed what God had from the beginning planned to provide. To give it to fallen man prematurely would have ruined any chance of the human race of ever accepting it. And Satan would have made sure of this. God would have been setting us and the plan of salvation up for failure. It would have been just like the parable of Matt. 12:43-45. And God didn’t want to lose the world in the process of saving it.

Notice, that to the contrary, Satan wants to set us up for failure. So he advances the law of God without Christ at the center. A Christ-centered Law of God would undo the whole kingdom of Satan. So, without Christ, men, prompted by Satan and straining to keep the laws of the Bible, find solace in altering those laws in order to have any hope of keeping them. And it may take centuries of time, but eventually this arrangement goes south. Example: the antediluvian world, the Roman Empire, and America today.

So, God kept Christ out of the law until we were ready by faith to accept both Christ and the law. Paul explained this well in the last part of Galatians 3. “But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.” (Gal. 3:23). Not until the world was in the worst shape it had ever been in that demon-controlled sinners were able to look to God in great need and avoid presumption. For our sake and in His great mercy, our Father in heaven who is infinite in wisdom and knowledge, arranged it this way. Four dominating empires of idolatry did for God’s people in the world to bring them to faith what many ease-filled centuries of good times could never have accomplished. At Earth’s lowest point our Creator sent His Son to redeem those who would admit to their sinfulness and their helplessness toward any iota of righteousness.

That’s also when faith was introduced to His Law. The Gospel puts Jesus into the Law and sets the law right. Today the need for this is just as great in the church as it was 2,000 years ago with the Jews. Unlimited sermons are being preached without Jesus made the center of focus upon which the people’s faith might rest, even among the professed evangelical denominations.

So, according to the divine direction of Romans 8, let’s put Jesus into the law. Here we go, based on 1Corinthians 13.

“Jesus spoke with the tongues of men and of angels, and was filled with grace; He had the Spirit without measure, so His teaching was not like a sounding brass, a tinkling cymbal or “vain jangling,” (1Tim. 1:6), but rather heavenly orchestras and full of power.
He had the gift of prophecy, and understood all mysteries, and all knowledge; He had all faith, so that He could remove mountains, and He had grace; He was everything.
He bestowed all His goods to feed the poor, and gave His soul to be burned to ashes (Num. 19:5,6), and through it all maintained His grace toward us; it profited Him everything—our propitiation.
Christ suffered long, and was kind; He never envied; Jesus never vaunted Himself, He was never puffed up,
He never behaved Himself unseemly, never sought His own, was never easily provoked, never thought evil;
He never rejoiced in iniquity, but He only ever rejoiced in the truth;
He bore all things, believed all of His Father’s word, hoped for all things, endured all things.
Christ’s love never failed: men’s prophecies fail; human ability to speak will cease; knowledge, will get outdated and vanish away.
For man has known in part, and prophesied in part.
But when the perfect love of Jesus was come, then that which was in part was done away.
When He was a child, He spoke like a child, He understood as a child and thought as a child: but when He became a man, He put away childish things.
Before His anointing He saw His Father through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: He knew His Father in part; but then He knew Him even as also His Father knew Him.
And now abideth Christ’s faith, hope, grace, these three; but the greatest of these was His gracious love.”

And hear Jesus all through His life quoting David, “It is good for Me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn Thy statutes. The law of Thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver.”

The science behind putting Jesus into the law and Bible works deeply in our subconscience; we see Him and His life. “This is the will of Him that sent Me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.” (Jn. 6:40).

“For 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). If there was ever a place to focus, it is on Him, His life. The only other option is on ourselves and our works, our working out the law. Yuck! And what a disaster that has made to the life of victory over sin all through the history of the ancient Israelites and the church. This is the very thing that made the old covenant faulty. Sinners aren't interested in a law of righteousness. Its boring to them.

But, God has offered us a buffer between His law and the sinner. Jesus lived that Law perfectly through love and now we can look at Him—a person, instead of an “it”—instead of a list of rules. An example, the visible works of His grace upon a gross world steeped in sin, can be our vision. What a gracious gift from above! Because, if we see that the Son of God, God’s very best representative, was gracious to that vile and brutal world of the Roman Empire into which He was born, then the Holy Spirit will teach us that He will be gracious to us too, who are also hopelessly vile. And so will God be toward us.

And this new idea of plugging Jesus into the law and obeying Him instead of it, does not defame the Bible or the law at all. How could we know what Jesus’ character and love were like without the law to which to compare Him? The principles of Old and New Testaments are fundamental to receiving the correct picture of the Son of God. We must have the law, we must have the Bible, we must have the Spirit of Prophecy; but we must never try to obey them without plugging Jesus into them and then following Him. Watching Him! Obeying Him!

To approach obedience to the law—or the Bible in our case—even to the epistles of the apostles, which are simply Old Testament principles set in New Testament framework, without Jesus’ life as the go-between, as our buffer, is the height of pride and arrogance. Especially, now that we know we don’t have to be bedfellows with the law anymore. Heaven has provided us a Mediator for the principles of righteousness. Jesus in the flesh is the veil through which a vile sinner can enter the holiest experience of all, obedience to a Friend, and righteousness and peace with God. (Heb. 10:19,20).

“For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Rom. 7:3,4).

“If there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.” (Gal. 3:21,22).

So, plug Jesus in to every scripture you read. This is not only a request as your friend, because I know what a blessing it will bring you, but it is a command from God Himself in His Gospel, and to refuse is an insult toward His most gracious gift. “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” (1Pet. 4:17).

We would see Jesus, on the mountain teaching,
with all the listening people gathered round;
while birds and flowers and sky above are preaching
the blessedness which simple trust has found.

We would see Jesus, in his work of healing,
at eventide before the sun was set;
divine and human, in his deep revealing
of God made flesh, in loving service met.

We would see Jesus, in the early morning,
still as of old he calleth, "Follow me!"
Let us arise, all meaner service scorning;
Lord, we are thine, we give ourselves to thee.