Golgotha

Let us muse upon the fact that Jesus was conducted without the gates of the city. It was the common place of death. That little rising ground, which perhaps was called Golgotha, the place of a skull, from its somewhat resembling the crown of a man's skull, was the common place of execution. It was one of Death's castles; here he stored his gloomiest trophies; he was the grim lord of that stronghold. Our great hero, the destroyer of Death, bearded the lion in his den, slew the monster in his own castle, and dragged the dragon captive from his own den. Methinks Death thought it a splendid triumph when he saw the Master impaled and bleeding in the dominions of destruction; little did he know that the grave was to be rifled, and himself destroyed, by that crucified Son of man.

Charles Spurgeon. The Procession of Sorrow. Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit. 1 March 1863.

Ordo Salutis VI: Christ’s Perfect Work, We Are Justified

Many people tried to say that the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament are completely two different gods. Have you heard this argument? Why was God so angry? Why is Jesus so loving and kind? Was God in the Old Testament was the Father and then his Son took over in the New? I don’t understand a god that would punish people. I can only understand a god that loves.

Interesting is that the Holy Spirit took killed a husband and his wife for lying to God about the selling land and the giving of proceeds from that sale. 1

It is even more interesting to note that the Apostle John wrote in his Gospel in chapter 3 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” 2, did not finish that statement without further claiming and clarifying, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him”. 3

So quite simply by seeing the wrath of God in both Testaments, that we know that God is eternally God past, present, and future.

But what about His love, mercy, and grace? What about His gospel which Paul utterly declares to be “… the power of God in salvation for those who believe, to the Jew first and also the Greek4, to which he was not ashamed of?

To try to speak of God’s grace upon constant grace, His daily renewed mercies, and His steadfast love throughout the Bible, I believe we have to also look at his righteousness throughout the Bible.

But what is righteousness? Webster defines it as “the quality of being morally right or justifiable.” When God defines it, he takes it to that next proverbial level: “To stand upright in the presence of God.” That is to say: to be without sin, to be perfect.

Here’s the reality: we don’t know a time or place ever in our lives or in our souls that was without the effects and consequences of sin. We cannot fathom what it really means to be perfect. Can we really? Even saying something like “That dress is perfect!” or “This gift is so perfect” really doesn’t mean the same thing.

And yet, the Creator God of the universe requires us to be perfect in order to never to perish and more so than that, to be with Him forever. To be with God now and forever requires you to be free from sin—never known sin, committed any sin or never failed to do the thing you were supposed to do.

God requires you to be perfect. And in my experience, when people realize that, there are usually three reactions.

One, hubris. “Well, I guess I better roll up my sleeves and get to work. I know I can do this if I remain perfect control of myself but more so, controlling those people around me and the world around me. If everyone acts right, I can be right and my life will be perfect.”

Two, despair. “Oh my God! This is impossible. I will be crushed under this weight!”

Three, apathy. “Why even bother? This impossible. Screw God, his people and his made up laws. They are not real and made up anyways.”

And all three leads not to joy and pleasures but to destruction and death.

But God, from the moment sin was introduced into this perfect world, gave us the first tidbit of the good news as he promises Satan his own death in front of his two dying kids:

Genesis 3:15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

That monster, Satan, came to kill, steal, and destroy. And Satan successfully came and did that. Think about this: Adam and Eve had it all. Not because they had all their needs met, and even more than never knowing sin, they had it all because they had God. But in original parents’ fatal mistake, God doesn’t respond with instant judgment. Instead, God lovingly and calmly comes into our world evident by simply strolling through the coolness of the garden looking for his two lost kids.

God calls out, “Adam, where are you? Why are you wearing those ridiculous things? Who said you were naked?”

In other words, “What’s wrong? Tell me, son. Tell me, daughter. What is wrong?”

God doesn’t respond out of by judgment alone although he alone rightfully judges. He doesn’t respond out of only his holiness by shunning his kids instantly away because we know that His holiness does not tolerate sin in his presence. God doesn’t just respond out of righteousness. No, God responds fully and truly out of everything he is–perfectly and fully.

It is out of the perfection and fullness of God’s love, desires, affections, mercy, grace, justice, righteousness, patience, peace, holiness, aseity, omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence, we can fully see in God’s response.

God doesn’t chastise or even condemn. (Bare with me. I will get to that in a moment.)  Instead, God responds with, “Satan, I will send Someone to make this right. You might think you have hurt him but he will crush your skull underneath his barefoot once and for all.” 5

God promises the monster that he will be destroyed and God makes this threat in front of his half-naked, scared, frightened, sin-filled kids. With Adam and Eve as his first witnesses, God promises He alone will fix what they did. Step number one was sending someone to be born of a woman, step two was for this savior to be hurt in some way and step three was that this person would smash Satan’s head to smithereens.

And when God turns to Adam and Eve, I believe that God doesn’t just instantly judge them. Why would I say this? Because after this encounter, they are still standing around on the earth. What I see is that God is simply laying out the consequences of sin in their lives and in the world.

But do not miss this next part. When you teach a Sunday school lesson, preach the word or simply reading from the Bible on this passage, pay special attention to this verse:

Genesis 3:21 And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.

Now, if you had only read the Bible for the first time in your life and chapter 3 verse 21 was the first time you have ever heard of that, that might not mean anything to you.  I mean, it’s nice that God covered their naked bodies. But as the days and lives continue on after this moment, God continues to interact, guide, speak to, and continues to reveal His glory to his people, we can go back and see what was God really doing in that instance. It is only when I read through the law and the gospels that I can reread that verse in actual truth.

That Adam and Eve sinned and they tried covering up their sins with their own self-righteousness which are as dirty garments before God. But, God responds by preaching the Gospel of his Son. Adam and Eve respond by believing the gospel. And because they believed God, God takes away their sin and self-righteousness and clothes them with His own righteousness.

Don’t believe me?

Consider the following:

Luke 15:17–24 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger!  I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you.  I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.” ’  And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.  And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’  But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet.  And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate.  For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.

What did the father do? He quickly covered his son’s own mess, shame, and guilt with the best robe; ordained his son with his own seal, and covered his kids’ dirt and poop-covered feet with peace. And then ordered for the fattened calf to be barbequed because his own son was now saved.

The father in the parable had all the means to restore his son to his own family. But how much more is the Good Father in heaven able to restore and bring the very worst and vile sinners into his own family.

God knows everything about you. He determines when you were born and where you would live 6. On top of that, He knows when you were far from him, running away from him and commiting treason against Him. He sees all of that. He knows all of that. God also knows when you appear to do good things but your heart is not in the right place. Namely, your heart is not about God. But when God saw you in your unrighteousness, he decided not to instantly judge you to instant condemnation. But even before the creation of the world, God decided to save you 7.

Just as God slew an animal to clothe his kids, the slaying of that animal did save them. Just as God proclaims his law to His people, that law could not and did not save them—it was too weak to do so. Even when God laid out the instructions to spill the blood of perfect, spotless animals in order to show his people what God must do in order to  save them, not even the animals’ dried blood that completely stain the bronze altar would not save his people 8!

No! God demanded the Perfect Sacrifice and that sacrifice had to be Man. But here’s the dilemma: no one ever born of man is perfect. No one! All who were born of Adam inherited Adam’s wicked and depraved heart. No one is righteous. No, not one. All of us have fallen way short of the glory of God. But under the law of God, the shedding of blood purified everything and without the shedding of blood, there is no removal of sin. Man has fallen into sin, committed sin even when they thought they were obeying the law of God (they were not) and only Man can atone for sin. You cannot atone for sin when you are filled with sin. God has a perfect requirement to atone for sin: it is a perfect man who lives perfectly and this same man would not ever know sin. This man could even be tempted as we are but still freed from sin. From the moment I was made in my mother’s womb, I was automatically disqualified from atoning for my own sin. My very birth was into sin and my continuous disobedience condemns me before the righteous and just God. And don’t get hung up on the word ‘continuous’ as thought I could somehow stop sinning on my own. If I had broken one of the laws of God, I have broken all of the laws of God 9.

With every single verse, chapter, and book in the Old Testament, God continuously, lovingly, and graciously preached His gospel to his people, both Jew and Gentile: “I know you are messed up. I have these laws that you need to perfectly obey in order to be with me forever. They are but the standard of which to live with me forever. Oh, I know you were going to fail. All of you will fail. And your sins will have consequences—sometimes even dire and mortal. But trust in me. No matter how many times you fail, just trust me. Maybe not in your lifetime or your kids’ lifetime or your kids’ kids lifetime but I promise you that one day I will fix everything that you have broken.

That fix was His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. God the Father sent God the Son to born as a little baby to perfect live his life perfectly obeying every single law that God gave his people. His Son was tempted but never falling short of the glory of God. But in perfect obedience to His Father by the power of His Spirit, the God and man, Jesus Christ, made a beeline to the cross in perfect obedience and with joy and gladness because what Christ was about to do is save His people from their sins. It was upon the last step on that hill of the skull where Jesus Christ would gladly give up his perfect life once and for all so that we would have the perfect life once and for all.

2 Corinthians 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Notes:

  1. Acts 5:1-11
  2. John 3:16
  3. John 3:36
  4. Romans 1:16
  5. Genesis 3:15
  6. Acts 17:24-28
  7. Romans 5:8; Ephesians 1:3-10
  8. Hebrews 9:11–22; Hebrews 10:3-7
  9. James 2:10

Mark 9:33-37 God Alone Receives All Who Would Come

Mark 9:33-37 And they came to Capernaum. And when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.”

1. In our world, what does it mean to be great?
2. What did Jesus compare greatness to?
3. How can we be great in heaven?
4. Who would be the servant of all?

Now Sings My Soul: Psalm 23:1b I Shall Not Want

My Lord Above,

I thank you for your perfect provision.

You are my Good Father in heaven and because I am your child, you have always provided for me.

When I was younger, I wanted many things but you did not provide them. But looking back, those things I wanted would have harmed me or cause me to turn away from you. But what you have always done is gave something even better, which turned out to be actually good.

It is by your hand alone that I have shelter over my head, food in my stomach, and water upon my dried tongue. It is by your strength I am able to stand and work and seek out accomplishments which is the work you have provided for me to do for your glory.

But more than that, you are my All-in-all because you gave me everything when you gave me your Son in Christ Jesus.

Since I have your love, your Son, and your Spirit, you have given me so much that heaven and earth can give me no more.

I will praise you with every single breath you give me.

And I will love you with all the love you have given me.

Here is Love: To Whom Are We Saved? – Romans 8:29e

Romans 8:29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

When we carefully walked through verse 29 of Romans 8, we saw that there was more than a few questions that rose to the top, namely:

What did God saw in us?  We now know that he didn’t see anything good, righteousness or lovely. What he saw was my traitorous sin and depraved wickedness. But in His power, goodness, and love, He saved me. Not by my own will, mind, or righteousness, but in his grace alone.

How did God save us? We now see that it was by the perfect life, sacrificial death, Spirit-powered resurrection, and glorious ascension of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to the right hand of the Father where He alone rules and reigns over heaven and earth is actually how we are saved.

By whom we are saved?  Again, from the sovereign grace of the Father, through the blood-drained and broken body of Christ upon the cross, by the power and might of the Spirit. In other words, God.

Why did God save us? Again, it was not because we were good or made the right decision or merely born into the right family, but for the glory of God which is the fullest, maximum infinite display of everything that God is—holiness, love, righteousness, just, mercy, and grace, just to name a few.

So by the term “firstborn among many brothers”, we can then ask this question:

To whom are we saved?

Not to Sunday School this and end it quickly, but the immediate and correct guess would be Jesus Christ. If God is our Father, Christ is His Son, and we are adopted by him into his family, that would no doubt make Christ, what older, dead white guys would rightfully call, our Elder brother.

Remember Romans 8:14–17 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.  For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”  The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,  and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

And just so we are clear: the term firstborn might be a weird adjective to describe the Word of God who has always been from eternally past. But remember that Christ is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End 1—the creator, founder, begetter, and perfector of our faith.

And since he proceeds everything, in a strange, “outside-of-time” way, it is the firstborn, founder and perfector of all the faith of the saints, both in the New and in the Old Testament. 2

So, we see He is first and preeminent. But God did not just merely save us in order to be first. Let’s take a look at the promises of God:

More than just merely saved from Hell and sin but to the presence of God himself: Psalm 16:9–11 Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure.  For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption.  You make known to me the path of life; in your presence, there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

That we won’t simply die in sin, or stay the same but we will look like Him: Psalm 17:15 As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness.

That once belong to Him, no one can take us away from him: John 10:28–30 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.  My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.  I and the Father are one.”

Forever, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ 3 and no separation for those who are in Christ 4.

We are saved to God forever and ever. Amen.

But here is the real kicker: not only are we saved to Him, the one who is firstborn, forever but also to one another i.e. the brethren.

In a strange sense, the salvation plan of God was two-fold: to himself forever and to each other forever.

Now, if you grew up in church, you have heard this verse thrown out just in mere passing that is sometimes used as some sort of heavy-handed law of God. “Don’t you dare miss church OR ELSE!” And I am going to repeat it here just to get it out of the way but not in mere passing but within context. Let us look at the entire passage.

Hebrews 10:19–25 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus,  by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh,  and since we have a great priest over the house of God,  let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.  Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.  And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

We are to meet together not to throw guilt, shame, and condemnation at one another but to build up each other in encouragement. (Sounds familiar? That’s why we have the gifts of the Spirit, particular with the gifts of encouragement and prophecy. 5)

Let us not neglect the meeting of the saints so that we can encourage and lift up one another and we do so not just by sincere encouragement, and prophesy that is tested by the word of God but primarily by the exposing of our sin by the law of God and the ocean of grace and love that awaits for us within the gospel of His blessed Son, Jesus Christ.

On the flipside of that: when the church fails to do that, in other words, when it fails to be a safe place for the saints, what are we to do? Then neglect meeting with one another.

Listen, we are the Bride. You are saved to the family of believers. You are not alone. I totally understand that if you need to depart and take it easy for a time but don’t totally close yourself off. Keep in touch. Let people know if you need help. Reach out. Allow those who you feel are safe to reach out and help and continue to encourage you.

I have seen too many people who just depart without saying a word to leaders or even to one another. And then they end up all alone. A sheep that stands alone in the world is the easiest prey for the wolves. They will come and devour you.

Maybe leaders are not safe either. God acknowledges this. In John 10, Jesus calls shepherds who turn and run at the first sight of danger not actual shepherds but just mere hired hands. But in Jeremiah 23, the Good Shepherd looks after his sheep and if those in charge of the sheep fail to do their job, he will remove them and set up new shepherds. I know that it seems as though those in power always remain in power and seem to be untouchable. But not in His church. And what we are witnessing in America with the cleaning out the house, we are seeing that in His church as well.

Ephesians 3:7–13 Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power.  To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,  and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things,  so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.  This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord,  in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.  So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.

Paul will elaborate on the church as a mystery that is similar to marriage with Christ and His Bride later on in chapter 5 starting at verse 20.

This all falls back on what Christ proclaimed to be the greatest and second greatest commandment:

Matthew 22:36–40 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”  And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the great and first commandment.  And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

Jesus Christ will one day return. Until then, He sits on the throne at the right hand of God. He didn’t leave us as orphans but sent His Spirit, who is God, to come dwell in our hearts forever in an unbreakable love.

But we are saved just to stand in this world cold and alone. God is so good and so loving to save us to one another. Sometimes, the church is not perfect. Sometimes, it incredibly messy and painful. I have seen terrible pain and abuse in the church. But only by God’s grace, I cannot quit His Bride. For me to leave Her would be like me giving up on her. And I cannot. She is the bride of Christ, who, and as crazy as this might seem, will be adorned in splendor, beauty, and perfection for Her Bridegroom.

We are saved to Him and to each other. That is all-incredible love.

Series: Intrigued by the postmodern oft-used answer of “God is love”, by just by digging a little deeper, what I have learned is that people usually mean, “Love is God”. So we then have to ask, what is love? This series is my attempt to answer that question as theologically and biblically as possible.

Notes:

  1. Revelation 21:6
  2. Hebrew 11:1-12:2 cf. Romans 3:21-26
  3. Romans 8:1
  4. Romans 8:38-39
  5. 1 Corinthians 14:3-4

Ordo Salutis VII: Christ’s Sufficient Work, We Are Clean

This is the magnificence of the True God.

The God of the Old Testament who called down judgment on the wicked and the departed. The same God who expressed His faithfulness to His people who were faithless. The God whose steadfast love never ceased to those whom he promised would make things all things right. The infinitely powerful God who was able to always woo and pursue the hearts of his children and bring them out of death and destruction back into life everlasting. The holy God who did not destroy our original parents when they choose themselves over him. The righteous God who redeems and restores. The Lord who resets his mercies every morning. The gracious God pours his heart out like a mighty river.

What have we done? Fought against God. War against God. Blaspheme against His holy name. Sought out the destruction of all living things. We tend to think of ourselves above everything. Shall we receive this glory! Shall we behold all the praises due because of all the good works we have done, the brilliant thoughts we have thought up and how we have pushed ourselves to improve over the generation before us? How good are we! How we need to be exalted! How no harm, no foul, no evil, no bad thing should ever happen against us! If anything bad happens to us, the God is not a just god, not a good god, not a great god, not a powerful god and not a loving god. Therefore, there is no god and we chose to declare war against him as everything in this universe descends in utter chaos and our undoing.

In whatever we do and all we have done, He is mournful, sorrowful and grieved but he is not phased and he is not moved. His will still carries on from the beginning of time and he is determined, nay, absolute that His people will be with him to enjoy him for his glory alone forevermore.

This is the God who does not quit.

This is the God who does not relent.

This is the God who does not forget.

This is the God who saves.

This is the God who loves

This is the God who bled.

This is the God who died.

This is the God who gave his life up for me.

Jesus Christ stood before his blasphemous people—people who cried and rejoiced with their lips, “Hosanna in the highest!” just days before—now are ready to cry out in a murderous rage to crucify the Son of God who is God. Jesus Christ, the glorious Lord stood side-by-side a convicted murderer, Barabbas as the governor audaciously asked the people, “Who would you rather have living with you in your neighborhoods, shopping in your shops, doing business with, passing by you on the streets? Who do you want: God or a murderer?”

The rational answer is clear. Yet our sinful hearts pick the comforts of sin every time.

In the Old Testament, Aaron stood before the people of Israel and they looked up this live goat. Aaron runs through all of their sins, all of their follies, all of their iniquities and all of their transgressions. With that massive, terrible list, Aaron touches the head of the goat and pushes it through the crowds and directs the goat into the vastness of the wilderness, always lost, always running in freedom and never to be seen again. (Leviticus 16:21-22)

Barabbas was presented as the culmination of the best that humanity has to offer as our depravity and wickedness stared us straight in the face. We don’t want better. We don’t want perfection. We want more of our wicked hearts desires. We want not His holiness, His forgiveness, and His love. We want more of what this world can offer.

We pick the goat with all of our sins. We are the ones who picked Barabbas. Yet, just like the goat into the wilderness, Barabbas is forgotten from ancient history, never to be heard from again.

The only thing we have done right is sin. However, by faith alone, we can place those sins on the one who would bear it all for those who have and will come to trust in him. The only thing we have done is allowed the Son of God to be crucified. The only right thing we have said, “Crucify Him!”.

In his beatings, his whippings, his crowning of thorns, in the nails stabbing through his hands and the spear through his heart were all needed to drain our Savior of his life-giving blood. He had his people to save and He must do it perfectly:

Indeed, under the law, almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins. 1

This is the only way it could be done: violently, excruciatingly, vomit-inducing, and sickly because that is what sin is to our Holy God.

He had to save his people.

He had to change his people.

He had to cleanse his people so that they can know Him:

And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” 2

He will not be angry at his people forever because He loves them too much. He does not bestow his righteous and just wrath upon his people because his people cannot bear it, to lest they are destroyed and be apart from him forever. His love is as high and as great as the distance between heaven and earth, so too is the same distance our sins, wickedness, and atrocities our removed from us.

Our God is One of compassion. 3

This all culminates into His Son who died on the cross, who pour out all of his blood just like a lamb to the slaughter.

We must admit the exceeding sinfulness of our sin. We must be desperate for to someone greater than us to save us.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 4

We call upon him. We look towards him. We reach out and cry, “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.” God, who is merciful, gives us His Son because He is the God who actually saves.

Notes:

  1. Hebrews 9:22
  2. Jeremiah 31:34
  3. Psalm 103:6-14
  4. 1 John 1:9

Mark 9:30-32 God Alone is Over Death

Mark 9:30-32 They went on from there and passed through Galilee. And he did not want anyone to know, for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise.” But they did not understand the saying, and were afraid to ask him.

  1. Did the disciples knew what Christ was actually talking about? Why or why not?
  2. What did Christ mean by “delivered into the hands of men”?
  3. Could Christ be randomly killed by anybody?
  4. What was the death of Christ going to do?

Now Sings My Soul: Psalm 23:1a The Lord Is My Shepherd

You are my Good Shepherd.

You fled the ninety-nine in order to come rescue me,
	when I could not possibly rescue myself.

You saved me from certain damnation,
	you’ve rescued me from the slaughter.

You’ve taken all of my sin,
	and you let the wrath of Father fall upon your heart
	You bled out for me,
	so that I might live forever.

Lord, keep me in your care,
	I pray that you keep good shepherds to care and feed me.
	none that will run away at the first sight of danger
	none that will be swayed to and fro by every wind of doctrine
	but stay the course because you are their strength and resolve.

I praise your holy name ever.

Here is Love: Why Did God Save Us? – Romans 8:29d

Romans 8:29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

This entire series has been trying to pit the world’s definition of love versus God’s definition of love. And perhaps up until this moment, we have never taken that to actual task. What I mean by that is that comparatively speaking, if I speak of God’s love, we can still find something like that in on earth.

For example, the laughter of a tiny infant to their parents’ goo-goo and gah-gah sounds. Some would say that would be joy, innocence, and love. But not much more that. Or when we challenge oppressors in hopes to give liberty to the oppressed, that might be out of justice and love, but what else could that included.

We could come up good lists of what different loves look like but none would be as complete as the love of God. I contend that the reason why is because while we do things out of love, God does something even greater than that—He does everything out of his glory.

Think for a moment and try to come up with a definition for the word ‘glory’. Consider Webster’s:

  1. high renown or honor won by notable achievements.
  2. magnificence or great beauty.
  3. praise, worship, and thanksgiving offered to a deity.
  4. luminous ring or halo, especially as depicted around the head of Jesus Christ or a saint.
  5. take great pride or pleasure in.

But according to the Bible, it speaks of God’s glory as each of his attributes to the maximum infinite degree. I say both maximum and infinite because to suggest maximum might suggest a limit somewhere. To say infinite says there is unlimited potential, but we can fall short of that.  In who God is—whether it be love, mercy, justice, holiness, righteousness, presence, strength, knowledge, or grace—God is maximum unlimited.

So when we say “God saved us out of love”, that is true but is far much more than that. I can say that with utmost certainty because you see, God is perfect and was never was or will be in sin and thus, everything that he does is never out of good intentions or in hope of but completed perfectly to the end. Consider our born state and the world we live in: many times, while we might do our best to do things out of love, we either fallen short with good intentions or do so with selfish gain.

Take any book of the Bible, look for the mention of the glory of God and see what I am saying. For instance, in Luke we see that:

God’s glory in the mere ability of God becoming man, Jesus – Luke 2:8-21 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

God’s glory in His all-knowledge and all-wisdom Luke 4:15 And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all.

God’s glory again in His all-power over brokenness Luke 5:25-26 And immediately he rose up before them and picked up what he had been lying on and went home, glorifying God. And amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, “We have seen extraordinary things today.”

God’s glory in his all-power over death Luke 7:16 Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and “God has visited his people!”

God’s glory in all-justice Luke 9:26-27 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.” (See Revelation 19:11–21)

God’s glory in His command of time Luke 9:32 Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, but when they became fully awake they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him.

God’s even in the death of Jesus Christ upon the cross Luke 24:26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?”

Why did God save? Because he loves us but more so than that, because He is glorious!

Consider this: if God was not for his glory, then he would cease to be God. Remember, until we see our Savior completely face to face, we will never know perfection on this side of heaven. (Some pastors say you can obtain perfection while on earth and I am here to tell you that they are wrong). But what if we were without sin? That is so impossible to imagine but that is what God is. And in his absolute perfection, He operates within the maxed out of his attributes. He operates in glory.

To put this in another way, God does not have to lessen something that he is his in order to do what he wants. He doesn’t suppress his righteousness and holiness in order to love us. He doesn’t have to suppress his love in order to be fully holy. No, not at all! But sometimes we want him to let off his righteousness and holiness? Don’t we? Like “Lord, thank you for eradicating all of my sins but how about don’t work on this little sin deep in the recesses of my heart. How about leave that alone? I need my pride, my lust, my fear, my vanity because that is who I am!” How crazy is the notion that we would want God to grade on a curve or overlook this one little sin in our hearts? Don’t you want to be with the God who has ZERO SIN in and around him which automatically equates to perfect peace, fullness of joy and blissful pleasures forevermore? If God allowed sin in his presence—yes, even our “itty bitty little” sin— then we would still have sickness, disease, despair, death, broken hearts, some joy, some love, and mediocre pleasures in a short amount of time. Doesn’t that already sound a bit familiar? (Hint: look around you.)

But because God is glorious—in other words, because God is fully, perfectly, one-hundred percent-ly all the things that the Bible says he is, then it is because His glory that we are saved.

Isaiah 48:9–11

“For my name’s sake I defer my anger;
for the sake of my praise I restrain it for you,
that I may not cut you off.

Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver;
I have tried you in the furnace of affliction.

For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it,
for how should my name be profaned?
My glory I will not give to another.

And yet from this one prophet, consider how he was saved:

Isaiah 6:1-7 In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!”

And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”

Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”

How do we know this to be the glory of God? Jesus said so:

John 12:41 Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him.

Praise God for his perfection and glory.

Praise God for his ability, willingness, and actually completed his salvation of His people.

Praise God for his absolutely amazing love!

Series: Intrigued by the postmodern oft-used answer of “God is love”, by just by digging a little deeper, what I have learned is that people usually mean, “Love is God”. So we then have to ask, what is love? This series is my attempt to answer that question as theologically and biblically as possible.