“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.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The epistle of God

 We have the epistles of Paul and Peter and John, of Jude, James and the writer Hebrews. And we could say that the prophets of the Old Testament also wrote epistles, many throughout the span of their ministries.

Jesus had His own epistles which He dictated to the gospel writers via His Holy Ghost sent down from the holy place of the heavenly sanctuary.

And God has given us an epistle, also. That epistle is the grandest of all epistles and the most concise—the Ten Commandment Law of God.

“And God spake all these words, saying, ‘THOU SHALT NOT…. THOU SHALT NOT…. THOU SHALT NOT….’” (Exo. 20:1-17).

The epistles of the prophets and apostles are full of warning and encouragements, truth and grace—depending on the audience, appropriately tailored to meet their need. To Israel, to the Romans, the Corinthians and Galatians, and Philemon, we hear more truth than grace. To the Ephesians and Philippians, the Colossians and the Thessalonians, and Israel in David’s day, we hear more grace than truth. The men of God discharged their role as mediators to help the people to know God and His will.

Jesus Himself, became the Son of man like the mediating prophets, full of grace and truth, the consummate Mediator between God and man.

But, when God spoke He didn’t come with grace and encouragement and mediation for man. He had no mediation to offer because He was the One who needed mediation, in order to spare sinners their due retribution. He spoke very sparingly of any promises and was non-committal in saving anyone. It was, “You will come up to My standard (or else).” He spoke in terms of pure authority, not to serve, but to be served.

Why should God speak like this, unbending, uncompromising, roaring His words deeply into the consciences of this ignorant world? “Ye shall be holy: for I the LORD your God am holy.” (Lev. 19:2). Why must He communicate this way?

“With the merciful Thou wilt shew Thyself merciful; with an upright man Thou wilt shew Thyself upright;
With the pure Thou wilt shew Thyself pure; and with the froward Thou wilt shew Thyself froward.
For Thou wilt save the afflicted people; but wilt bring down high looks.” (Psa. 18:25-27).

God is to be feared. He doesn’t need to be pandered to. He doesn’t need our self-righteousness or self-manufactured worship. We need Him to save us from sin, not the other way around. Every act of true acceptable goodness never originates from us, but from Him. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights.” (Jas. 1:17).

We need to “Fear God, and give glory to Him.” (Rev. 14:7). We should “honour all men,” and “love the brotherhood.” But we must “Fear God.” (1Pet. 2:17).
“Fear God.” (Gen. 42:18).
“Fear God.” (Exo. 18:21).
“Fear God.” (Job 1:9).
“Fear God.” (Psa. 66:16).
“Fear God.” (Ecc. 8:12).
“Fear God.” (Ecc. 12:13).
“Fear God.” (Luk. 23:40).
“Fear God.” (Acts 13:16).

There can be no confusion who is the subject and who is the LORD; who desperately needs the help from whom. Therefore, when God, the all powerful Judge and King, speaks ex cathedra, He minces no words, He beats around no bush, not even a burning bush. In God’s epistle He is telling us that we are not His equal, not His peer. Our disposition is to submit to Him. We are His creatures, and His rebellious creatures at that, sinners whom He hopes to salvage from sin.

His unspoken message is that He is in charge; He will destroy sin and any sinner who comes to the end of life never having relinquishing his hold on self. Make no mistake, let there be no loopholes, no genius manipulator of His intent, no ingenious excuses for disobedience to His rule of righteousness. “Thou shalt not sin!” And He made sinlessness sound very doable. And a requirement.

That’s a lot to ask of sinners, but God was not asking. He was commanding. He wasn’t recommending, soliciting our loyalty, or suggesting anything. “You will do this, and you will do that, and that’s all I have to say.” “And by the tone of My thunders and My lightnings and the melting of magma flowing down from My mountain, hopefully you will comprehend My perfect expectations. Otherwise, you are doomed.”

Between each command He allowed His great orders to roll through the land and to echo back from the hilltops of the surrounding terrain. And, when He was finished relating His great epistle, and all of Israel—including the great Korahs, Dathans, and Abirams—were on the ground with heads covered and eyes and ears tightly shut, then He went silent because He had no commentary to make—just pure requirement and threat, clear as crystal—“Just do what I said.”

This is the language of our Creator, the Ancient of days. These are His thoughts, His will, His infinite desire. Perfection and nothing less. We will listen, or die. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isa. 55:8,9).

Higher than the highest human thought can reach is God’s ideal for His children. Godlinessgodlikenessis the goal to be reached. Education, p. 18.

Christ has ever been God’s spokesperson, to reveal the austerity and suffocating expectations of the Father’s infinite yearning for perfection in heart, mind, soul, and behavior, and for His infinite suffering from beholding imperfection, even among the angelic hosts and unfallen worlds. Christ has always mingled that austere divine expectation with grace, never to lessen His Father’s need of infinite perfection, but to make it doable, over time. Grace has been the God-given provision for the means and vehicle to grow to God’s perfection.

The grace of Christ has always been complimentary to God and His Law, never destructive to it. But His grace has always also been the provision of God Himself, who understands that perfection must require growth; even as patience and grace, which facilitate perfection, are attributes that originate in Him. But by no means does His provision of grace clear the presumer upon His goodness, nor allow for any excuse for sin.

We can be thankful for God’s method in the Ten Commandments, and His form of speech. He speaks, and does not converse. He expects no discussion with Him concerning anything He says. It’s not a two way conversation. If we desire to come before Him, we must go through His Son. Through His Son’s mediation—and only through communion and conversation with His Son—we can glean the love that flows from our great Father’s heart and from His overwhelming Ten Commandments, even as the angels who live in His powerful presence and love to crowd Him.

We can suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the flint; we can drink from the brook that flows from His Law of stone and be fed with the heritage of Jacob our father. For the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.


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