Archive for Christ

Walking in Truth – NT

Posted in NTBC C&C with tags , , , , , , on June 5, 2010 by Mark Hanson

Last week we looked at the Old Testament understanding of Walking in Truth. This week we’ll look at the New Testament understanding of the same concept and compare the similarities and differences to see if there have been any changes in God’s program. The apostle John talks about walking in truth, and makes mention of some things of interest to our study:

John 1:17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

In context John is not saying that the law was not truthful, rather he is making the argument that the grace and truth found in Christ is what gives the law any benefit because it finds its fulfillment of mercy and forgiveness in Him.

John 8:31-32; 14:6 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free… Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

Christ’s life in action and His words are placed on the same level as direct revelation from God it is Truth. But Christ goes further in the giving of truth as He also gives the Spirit for guidance and direction:

John 14:17; 16:13 Even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you… Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.

So now we have a direct spiritual guidance and oversight by a the third person of the Godhead who will lead us in truth. This will never be in disagreement with Christ’s revelation, but will be to prompt proper obedience to both God’s previous revelation as well as Christ’s revelation. It is truth which sanctifies. It is truth that changes. It is truth, and it is found in God’s word’s.

John 17:14-21 14 I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. 18 As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.  20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; 21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

Verse 20 is an amazing prayer as Christ is not just praying for His immediate disciples, but for ALL disciples that would follow. He prayed for US! He prayed that we would be sanctified by truth! How precious the truth of God’s Word should be to us! But what does that look like?

1 John 1:8; 2:4; 3:18-19 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us… 2:4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him… 3:18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. 19 And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.

A life marked by sensitivity to our depravity and knowing that our nature is prone to sin. If we deny this, we deny the truth because it is exactly how God describes our condition. God’s commands are a direct admonition to us to correct our erring ways back to truth and that is way keeping His commandments are so vital. And when we can put these things into practice both in what we say and in what we do, then we will find assurance of our relationship with God.

John was a minister who established churches and brought people into relationship with Christ. As he writes to some of these we find that he takes great joy in seeing that they continue to walk in truth:

2 John 1:3-6 3 Grace be with you, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.  4 I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father. 5 And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another. 6 And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.

3 John 1:3-14 3 For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth. 4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. 5 Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers; 6 Which have borne witness of thy charity before the church: whom if thou bring forward on their journey after a godly sort, thou shalt do well.

John’s definition of walking in truth is exactly what he learned from Christ [Mark 12:30-31] and is not so very different than David’s:“[It is] not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another. 6 And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it” [2 John 1:5-6]. So the question then is, do you follow what David and John and Christ taught? Are you walking in truth?

Truth & Blind Man’s Bluff…

Posted in theoflections with tags , , on February 10, 2010 by Mark Hanson

Working in a library now, I’ve run across an article by Andrew Abbott entitled The Traditional Future: A Computational Theory of Library Research. While that may not excite some, I did come across one phrase that perfectly summed up the quest for truth.

Scientific “methods are thus ultimately a formalized version of blind man’s bluff; we make educated guesses about where the truth is and then get told whether our guesses are right or wrong. Fundamental to this game is our belief that the truth is somewhere out there in the world to be discovered.”

Science takes stabs at truth blindfolded. When they remove the blindfold they claim to have the truth. Sometimes they do get it right. But they can never be absolutely sure. There is always someone else out there trying the same method to disprove the others claims at truth.

How glad I am to have a sure foundation of truth. Who would want to place their “faith” in a system that can never make any absolute claims? How can we know the way? Only through Christ who is:

“The way, The TRUTH, and the Light…” (John 14:6)

So which do you choose as your foundation of truth? A formalized version of blindman’s bluff or Christ?

Christ Alone…

Posted in theoflections with tags , on February 8, 2010 by Mark Hanson

Listening to the song “In Christ Alone” I’m struck again by how quickly my mind forgets the one who has has given me true life. I am grateful for songs like this that in an instant can bring Christ back into focus. Placing Christ in the forefront of my mind, restoring Him to the place of preeminence that He deserves and demands:

IN CHRIST ALONE

In Christ alone my hope is found…
What heights of love, what depths of peace
My Comforter, my All in All…

In Christ alone, who took on flesh…
Fullness of God in helpless babe…
Scorned by the ones He came to save
‘Til on that cross as Jesus died…
For every sin on Him was laid…
Here in the death of Christ I live…

Light of the world by darkness slain…
Up from the grave He rose again…
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me…
For I am His and He is mine…
Bought with the precious blood of Christ…

From life’s first cry to final breath…
Jesus commands my destiny…
‘til He returns or calls me home…
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.

Christmas

Posted in theoflections with tags , , , , , on December 25, 2009 by Mark Hanson

The time of remembering the birth of Christ has come again. This year it elicits different thoughts and feelings as I have added a son to my own family…which prompts thoughts into the mystery of Christ’s divinity and humanity. As I sit holding my son, I wonder if Jesus sucked his thumb, spoke baby mutterings, or had crying fits when his body had need of something that He could not take care of Himself. I wonder if at just few months Christ fully comprehended the magnitude of His existence as a man, or if He was only absorbed with movement, eating, changing, and all around general contentedness. I wonder at what point He understood what He purpose was on earth, or if His divine consciousness was always present merely waiting for His limited physical body to catch up.

Obviously God chose not to reveal all the nuances as to the unseen combination of Christ’s divinity into frail humanity. But one thing is certain; Christ’s birth into the world does demonstrate that the human body is capable of accomplishing the purpose God intended: obedience.

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” – Matthew 5:17

And it was through that demonstration of obedience that God revealed hope to mankind.

“In the days of his flesh, Jesus… Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him.” – Hebrews 5:7-9

Even the human authors of Scripture note that attempting to delve into the mystery surrounding Christ can be complicated.

“About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain…” – Hebrews 5:11

Yet in spite of the mysterious unfathomable nature of God’s descent to meet mankind in its imperfection, the clarity of His purpose in coming is not.

“He became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him.” – Hebrews 5:9

May Christmas always remind you of this.

Revealing – Part I

Posted in theoflections, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on December 16, 2009 by Mark Hanson

After my last post I decided to take a deeper look into each of the main points from my Love… as Christ does the church post. While this is more for my own personal challenge in being the husband God has called me to be, all of these elements should challenge us in our daily lives as we strive to reflect Christ as being evident in all of our relationships.

Revealing God

Christ’s statement: “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world (the church)… I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known” in John 17:6, 26 denotes that Christ took upon Himself the responsibility of manifesting or revealing God’s very essence to His people the church.

1) Revealing God is seen in obedience.

Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me… I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father.” – John 14:23-24, 31

2) Revealing God is seen in relationship.

“And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples… he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick… he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.” – Matthew 9:10, 12; 14:14

3) Revealing God is seen in sacrifice.

“The love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.– 1 John 4:9-11

Christ sacrificed via a human relationship by obeying God. As such He revealed more of God to us. May we strive to do the same in our relationships and marriages.

Love… as Christ does the church

Posted in theoflections with tags , , , , on December 14, 2009 by Mark Hanson

This past Saturday brought the special privilege and joy of attending a wedding in which Ephesians 5 was given as a challenge to the couple. It really gave me a good opportunity to reflect on my own marriage, and was quite a challenge. The main part that stuck out to me was:

In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself.” – Ephesians 5:28-33

This gave me pause to think of how I’m suppose to reflect Christ in the way that I love my wife so that it resembles the love that He displays for His church. Here are some broad applications drawn from Christ’s prayer in John 17 that should be evident in my married life:

By Revealing God to her

“I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world (the church)… I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known. – John 17:6, 26

By Praying for her

“I am praying for them (the church)… that you keep them from the evil one… sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. – John 17:9, 15-17

By Guarding her

“Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them.” – John 17:11-12

By Dedicating my life to and for her

“And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.” – John 17:19

By properly Honoring her

“The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one.” – John 17:22

By Living so that the world will know that Christ sent me to love her

“So that the world may know that you sent me (Christ) and loved them (the church) even as you loved me.” – John 17:23

By Loving so she can see God’s love in my love for her

“That the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” – John 17:26

Tempting God

Posted in theoflections with tags , , , , , , on November 24, 2009 by Mark Hanson

Just ran across this yesterday reading James 1:13 “… for God cannot be tempted with evil…” and then began to wonder… since Christ is God, how this could be reconciled with Matthew 4:1 when it says that “Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil”?

How does one reconcile the apparent contradiction between James 1:13 with Matthew 4:1? There are two elements to consider:

Divinity

Christ was completely divine. Mark 1:1 testifies to record “the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” Claiming the title of “son” denoted essence, and family inheritance. A good example of this cultural truth is found in the story Ben-Hur. Ben-Hur is condemned to slavery in a Roman war galley. Eventually the ship sinks and he saves the life of the Roman general on board, who in return adopts Ben-Hur as his own son. This act legally accorded him all the rights and privileges associated with his adoptive father. Christ’s claim to be the Son of God is no different. Jesus is accorded all the rights and privileges of being God, sharing the same essence with Him. The reaction by the Pharisees confirms their understanding of Christ’s claim in Matthew 9:2-4,6 And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” And some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts?… know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” Christ forgave the man’s sins, an act which is within the power of God since all sin is pardonable only by the maker of the universe. Since Christ was a physical manifestation of God in human form, holding a completely divine essence.  His divine nature could not be tempted by evil (James 1:13).  But He was also human…

Humanity

Christ was completely human. Matthew 1:23 says “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). He was physically born of a woman, and as a child was dependent on His parents.  Luke 1:80 records that Jesus as a “child grew and became strong in spirit,” just as all children normally do. He was subject to all the same elements we are.  Jesus sleeps in Matthew 8:24, eats and drinks in Matthew 26:26-27, bleeds in Luke 22:44, suffers bodily injury in Luke 22:63, and was subject to the a physical death in Luke 23:46. In all respects Christ lived a human life.  Hebrews 5:8 records “he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.” With the presence of sin all life suffers, and yet in Hebrews 4:15 “we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” It is in respect to this element that I think we as humans have a hard time grasping. He was perfect. It was in His humanity that He was tempted. He was tried and pushed to His physical limits just as we are every day. The only difference  is that He overcame all obstacles to be perfectly obedient to the Father.

Synthesis

The issue centers on whether in His divinity Christ had it easier with a little supernatural help. The writer of Hebrews shows us that He did not have an easy out because of His divinity. His mission was to come and demonstrate what perfect obedience looked like. He was really tempted and He genuinely demonstrated obedience. He is the only man to do so. The answer to the question about the distinction between His two natures is in the temptation by Satan himself. Satan’s temptations are centered on Christ’s humanity in Matt 4:3 “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread” touching on physical provision, or self-dependence. Matt 4:6 “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone” touches upon the issue of pride, or self-glorification.  Matt 4;8-9 “The devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me” touches upon the issue of possessions, or self-indulgence. Each of these issues is rooted in opposition to God with “self” supplanting God as the ultimate ruler in life. This is not  something that God could ever be tempted with because He is the the ultimate authority. Satan is, rather, directly attacking Christ’s humanity by seeking a weakness which might have set itself up against God rather than submitting to Him.

God cannot be tempted with evil. But men can be. Christ’s humanity was tempted, and so is ours.  But Christ overcame, and so can we. Temptation is an ever-present part of our human existence, always attempting to package sin as attractively as possible.  How I long for that day when all temptation will fall away. But until then, “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”Philippians 3:14

Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.