In His Time

“When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons”

Galatians 4:4-5

Like many phrases in the Bible the first few words of this passage have been adopted by some into their regular speech. The “fullness of time” means at the right time. It was God who declared the time right. The people involved had no foreknowledge and it was unexpected on their part. Neither Mary nor Joseph had any warning.

The reason Jesus came is stated for us here. His mission was to buy back that which Adam had given away to Satan. The price was the Son of God crucified. The law could not redeem people and neither could any person redeem themselves or anyone else because all were born in sin and have sinned. All that the law can do is reveal people’s condemned state. It would take incarnate deity to pay the price for our sin; One without the sin disposition and who has never sinned. At its root sin is rebellion against God: “I want to do it my way, not His way.”

On the cross Jesus not only delivered us from justifiable punishment but in His resurrection He gave us a new position that we could never attain ourselves. An adopted son is equal with a biological son concerning inheritance. In Christ’s death and resurrection He has taken away the penalty for sin and also the very root of sin and placed us as sons with Christ to share in His inheritance.

Only as we have the same nature as God can we commune and coexist with Him. Jesus accomplished that for us and that is the Gift of God to undeserving sinners. The magi from the east brought gifts to Jesus in worship and thanksgiving. Everyone who has truly trusted Christ will be thankful to God. Paul writes that it is therefore reasonable that we should present ourselves as a living sacrifice in thankfulness, and as an act of worship, for His unspeakable gift (Romans 12:1).

The times are in His hands and at the right time He will again invade the earthly realm and assume His rightful place as KING of kings and LORD of Lords. Then, and only then, there will be: Peace on earth and goodwill toward men. May you experience a very happy and blessed Christmas with joy that endures all year.

I’m Not That Bad

“… we preach Christ crucified: to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness.”

1 Corinthians 1:23

One of the most abhorrent and counter-cultural ideas in Christianity is that everyone is a sinner, and is freely offered forgiveness and redemption. Every “monster”, no matter what they have done, can be saved. Is there any sin that is too great for Christ’s atonement on the cross? No. Was his death sufficient to cover all the worst atrocities perpetuated throughout history? <strong>Yes, it was.</strong>(1 John 1:7)

This concept is anathema due to one of our greatest weaknesses – the persistent notion that at least we are “not as bad as those others”. After all, it’s insulting and degrading to be lumped into the same category as those we regard as the “worst of humanity”.

A certain man was quoted saying “Don’t compare yourself with anyone in this world. If you do so, you are insulting yourself.” (this quote is also attributed to another). This implies that we often sell ourselves short – by comparing ourselves at our worst, to others at their best. It has a grain of truth: that we fail to retain a right picture of ourselves. Although I expect the author of the quote did not intend it, a higher truth may be obtained from it: that we should instead compare ourselves with some One who is not of this world.

We ask the mirror on the wall, “who is the fairest of them all?” and the mirror replies, “You are the fairest” – but the mirror is merely parroting what we already believe to be true. The higher truth is that only through God’s eyes (as revealed in his Word) can we know ourselves truly. And only thereafter can we start to see our fellow humans in the right way as well.

We must let go of pride (Isaiah 5:21), and let go of condemnation (Romans 8:1). Instead of comparing ourselves to fallen creatures, we must set our eyes on the sinless one, Jesus, who has called us to Himself as the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6).

Misplaced Sentiment

“Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, ‘Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!’”

Matthew 16:22

In the following verse Jesus attributes these words of Peter as having their source in Satan. This same Peter had just spoken words that had their source in the Father (vv 16, 17). This is an indication of what happens when we allow sentiment to overshadow the words of Jesus and the plan of God. Sentiment is a good attribute but like all good things it can be expressed wrongly.

Many people are expressing this kind of sentiment when they advocate euthanasia. From a sentimental and a godless world view this seems logical. The value of every human life is seen in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Our value is in the love God has for us. Man was created in God’s image to live forever.

For the one without Christ bodily death is the beginning of eternal suffering, not relief from suffering. Those who choose euthanasia are in for a catastrophic disappointment. End of life suffering may be the motivation for many lost people to turn to Christ at the last minute.

John 3:18

tells us that people who are condemned to an eternity of God’s wrath are those who have not believed the Gospel of Christ. It tells us that condemnation does not begin at death or the judgment; they are already condemned and waiting for the sentence to be carried out. The reason they are condemned is not because they told a lie, robbed a bank or murdered someone. It is because they have not believed on the name of the only begotten Son of God. As long as they live that Door is open if they will enter it (John 10:7-8).

We must be careful not to make ourselves judges of God through our exercise of sentiment. Is God good? Is God kind? Is God love? Is God just and righteous? Is God Holy? The answer to all of these is, Yes, and He is always exercising these attributes. The world without God comes to the conclusion there is no God of love because of all the suffering in the world. Let us not be among them lest we find ourselves joining them in calling God unloving. Sin’s origin is in Satan and man not God. God, in love, provided redemption (Romans 5:6, 8).

Bought With a Price

“The earth is the Lord’s and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein”

Psalm 24:1

Everything that exists belongs to the Creator. It is His by right of creation; He brought it into being and sustains it in its entirety. The foundation of atheism is the denial of this fact. Paul bases his words to the Christians in Rome on this fact in contrast to others who suppress this truth (Romans 1:18-32). Peter likewise addresses this suppression to his readers (2 Peter 3:1-9). Fallen and sinful people refuse to acknowledge that they are owned by the One who created and sustains them. This is the essence of Satan’s lie to Eve and the root of pride.

Christians recognises this and are glad that they are owned by Christ through redemption. Paul writes, “You were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:20).

Everything we are and have is on loan as to a steward. A steward serves the one who has placed his possessions into his hands. Our lives are not our own; our bodies are not our own; our talents and skills are not our own; our time is not our own. The opportunities that come our way are also given by God. Material blessings are not ours but His and He has given us all these things to glorify Himself. This means that they are all to be seen and utilized to express God’s Divine and glorious nature.

In the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30) Jesus commended the servants who utilized what they had been given to them by their master to manage and they were rewarded. The third servant had made no attempt to utilise his master’s money. Jesus refers to him as being wicked and lazy (v 26) and not only did he not receive a reward but he was cast out from his master’s presence.

God has greatly blessed us with life, various types of talents and gifts with varying levels of these. He expects us to use that which He has given for His glory. One who despises the Creator will refuse to act as a faithful steward and will be cast from His presence.

When once we have come to know the Lord Jesus it is hard to understand why anyone would not gladly love and serve Him.

“It is good to give thanks to the Lord and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High; to declare Your loving kindness in the morning and Your faithfulness every night” (Psalm 92:1-2).

The Gift of God

“Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith” Romans 3:27

If obtaining God’s favor is based on our effort then those who gain acceptance would have something of which to boast. Paul makes it clear in this letter, especially the first few chapters, that there will be no boasting because acceptance is not gained in that way. He also says the same in Ephesians: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (2:8-9).

Some people believe that they will be able to mount a credible defense at the judgment but Paul says that “every mouth will be stopped.” No one will be able to defend themselves against the indictments of God. All will know they are guilty and without any defense (Romans 3:19).

The indictments of God are taken by Paul from the Old Testament and recorded in verses ten to eighteen. Alva McClain writes that there are fourteen indictments recorded here. One should take note of the words “none” and “all” in this passage. There are no exceptions. This is God’s assessment of each and every person against His measure.

When we make an assessment of ourselves we use our own idea of what is good or we may compare ourselves against other people who are esteemed by our peers. But are these valid measures?

In the last two chapters of the Bible we read that nothing that is corrupt or that defiles will enter God’s presence. God is holy, without corruption and defilement. Heaven would not be heaven if it did not match God’s purity, perfection and holiness. Jesus Christ is the measure and all judgment has been given to Him (John 5:26-27). Anything that is less than His perfection and purity cannot enter His presence.

Since the indictments taken from the Old Testament are all inclusive of mankind no one will enter God’s presence based on his own effort. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (v 23). If anyone is to enter His presence then there must be another way.

This is the reason Christians celebrate at Christmas and why we give and receive gifts. Jesus Christ is God’s gift to mankind (John 3:16) and through faith in Him (John 6:40) He gives us His righteousness as an undeserved (grace) gift. The title of this article might well have read, “The Gift that is God.” Paul’s testimony is that righteousness is a gift so that no one will be able to boast in themselves. Paul writes that we are “justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (v 24).

We are glad that God does not demand that we attain purity by our own effort because it is evident that there is no way we can change what we are. That He changes what we are as a gift in Christ is cause for great joy. Our boasting is not in our own achievement but in the Gift of God and that Gift is Jesus Christ. “But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Galatians 6:14).