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Meditations Special Observances

To Glorify God in Propitiatory Death

WHY THE GOD-MAN?

REASON #4:

To Glorify God in Propitiatory Death

Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect … to make propitiation for the sins of the people.
— Hebrews 2:17 —

When “Christ came into the world” He came to glorify God the Father, not only in perfect life, but ultimately in propitiatory death. “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), but God “sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins;” and this He did in love (1 John 4:10). A propitiatory death means a sacrificial death, in substitution on behalf of the guilty, that satisfies the just and righteous wrath of God. A propitiatory death fully satisfies or exhausts every legal demand—all penalties owing to sin’s rebellion. No penalty remains for the guilty when the guilty is substituted by a propitiatory death.

The aim of the glory of God in the substitutionary death of the incarnate Son is underscored in Hebrews 10:5-7, where the pleasure of God is the focus and contrasts are used to highlight this point. “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired” is contrasted with “a body you have prepared for me.” “Burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure” is contrasted to the pleasure that God the Father delighted in according to the pledge of God the Son, “Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.” Here we get a glimpse of God’s triune intrapersonal communication concerning the incarnation.

In the Gospel of John we see yet another illustration of this same purpose. Christ, being very near His betrayal and crucifixion, cries out to the Father with an eager entreaty that the Father be glorified. Christ openly declares, “for this purpose I have come to this hour” referring to His imminent sacrificial death. It was in response to this request that the Father declared that He had glorified His name and “will glorify it again.” Now, when He says that He will glorify it again, the most immediate pointer is to Jesus’ death. There is no question that God came in humanity “for this purpose” to lay down His life in the only sacrifice capable of satisfying the good and holy demands of God’s justice against humanity’s sin. Christ came not only so that He who is God could die, but that He could glorify God in propitiatory death.

Why the incarnation? Why the God-man? One central reason was to glorify God in propitiatory death.

—Pastor Manny

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Meditations Special Observances

To Glorify God in Perfect Life

WHY THE GOD-MAN?

REASON #3:

To Glorify God in Perfect Life

You know that he appeared … and in him there is no sin.
— 1 John 3:5 —

I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.
— John 17:4 —

Our chief end speaks also of our chief sin. The basic principle of sin is idolatry, the worship of something other than God—the glorifying and enjoying of something chiefly other than God.

The Psalm says, “There is none who does good” (14:1). Man seeks not after God but after his own self-adoring will. Isaiah says, “we have turned—every one—to his own way” (53:6). Man naturally rebels against God as his King; thinking, desiring, living and doing, in principle as the ancient people of Israel, of whom it is said, “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6).

Christmas is a reminder that God came to glorify God, even, and especially, where man failed. Jesus said, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me” (John 6:38). And again, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work” (John 4:34). Jesus repeatedly draws attention to the fact that He came and was sent to glorify God through perfect obedience to the will of the Father. Before John the Baptists, Jesus affirmed, “it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness … and behold, a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased’” (Matthew 3:15–17). This was part of His mission. Jesus said Himself that He was sent and lived a life marked by intimacy with the Father. Regarding His coming and living, He said, “I always do the things that are pleasing to him” (John 8:29). Hebrews reminds us that when “Christ came into the world, he said, ‘Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me . . . Behold, I have come to do your will’” (Hebrews 10:5–7).

Where Adam failed to glorify God in perfect life—where Israel failed, where you and I fail—Christ came to undo, invert, reverse, and correct through His substitution. The penalty of our rebellion and belittling of God, Christ came to absorb through His death and to magnify the worth of God through His life.

Why the incarnation? Why the God-man? One reason was to glorify God in perfect life.

—Pastor Manny

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Meditations Special Observances

So That He Who Is God Could Die

WHY THE GOD-MAN?

REASON #2:

So That He Who Is God Could Die

But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
— Hebrews 2:9 —

God cannot die and the salvation of sinful men depends entirely on the death of a perfect Substitute. Since no man is righteous and without sin (Romans 3:10; Ecclesiastes 7:20), God Himself came, in grace, to be our perfect Substitute, that we might glorify and enjoy Him forever. As Hebrews 2:9 says, we see Jesus, who is God, for a little while made lower than the angels—this is the Christmas story; this is the incomprehensible wonder of the incarnation and suffering and exaltation of Christ. It is all a testimony of the grace of God. Its purpose was so that He who is God “might taste death,” so that we who are sinners might enjoy eternal life.

B. B. Warfield said it well: “The Son of God as such could not die; to Him belongs by nature an ‘indissoluble life’ (7:16). If He was to die, therefore, He must take to Himself another nature to which the experience of death were not impossible (2:17).” This is an encompassing reason for the incarnation, the purpose for which Christ came. Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. … Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour” (John 12:24–27). There would be no hope of any other lasting benefit of His coming without His death. Therefore, we can summarily agree with Robert Culver, “The Passion and death of Christ … were designated by Jesus as the chief reasons for the incarnation.”

Why the incarnation? Why the God-man? So that He who is God could die.

—Pastor Manny

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Meditations Special Observances

To Make God Known to Man

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. … And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us … No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.
— John 1:1, 14, 18 —

Man cannot know God apart from God making Himself known. The creation reveals enough to inform man about God, but it does not reveal God Himself to man. Knowing the creation is not the same as knowing the Creator. Creation reveals enough about God to condemn us, rendering the natural man both without excuse and without God. Creation, then, only makes God known as unknown; even the Greeks testify to this (Acts 17:23). And since you cannot love what you do not know, no one truly loves God who does not truly know God. And since sin has separated us from God (Isaiah 59:2), man is now estranged from God in his sin. The gripping reality is that man is utterly incapable of coming to God on his own; God must come to man. This is Christmas—God coming to man.

By His incarnation—which means ‘enfleshment’—God makes visible the invisible God. He assumes human nature to manifest Himself for people to see. “He is the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15). “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” (Hebrews 1:2). Jesus responds to Philip’s request to see the Father in staggering terms: “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” (John 14:9). As Charles Simeon once said, “His incarnation affords the brightest discovery of the Divine perfections.”[1] Christ came to give us “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). “And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life” (1 John 5:20). Wuest explains this first reason for the incarnation: “He is the visible revelation of what invisible deity is like. And only deity could clearly manifest forth deity. This manifestation was through a human medium in order that it might be perceptible to human intelligences. And that is the reason for the incarnation.”

“Man could never comprehend the invisible God unless He revealed Himself, as He did in Scripture and the incarnation.”[2] While Scripture alone is sufficient to make God known to man, Scripture is the looking glass to God and not God Himself. No one can say, “If you have seen Scripture you have seen God.” Immediately two important considerations come to mind. First, Christ is explicitly called the Word (John 1:1, 14) or The Word of God (Revelation 19:13). As the written word reveals God, so the incarnate Word reveals God. Christ and Scripture both reveal God, but only in Christ is God Himself revealed. The Scriptures speak of Him and testify to Him; He is the purpose of the Scriptures. Christ is the end; the Scriptures are the means. Second, the Scriptures testify to the supreme significance of the personal revelation of God in Christ as superior: “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son … He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power” (Hebrews 1:1–3). While Scripture is sufficient to make God known to man, they are not sufficient in and of themselves. Apart from Christ in the working of His Spirit, the Scriptures are just words that the natural man is not able to understand (1 Corinthians 2:14). Scripture is not our Savior, Christ is.

Every religion in the world, save Christianity, operates on the fundamental assumption that man can work his way to God or “the gods” or some “better” abode as a reward for his morality, labors, discipline, good deeds, sacrifices, religious rites, knowledge, prayers, or intentions. Christianity alone understands that “no one understands; no one seeks for God” (Romans 3:11). Christians are the only people in the world that celebrate a man-seeking God rather than working as a God-seeking man.

Salvation comes through revelation alone. Eternal life is a definitive impossibility apart from the self-revelation of God: “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3). The One whom the Father had sent is coequal (John 1:1)—and one and the same (John 10:30)—with “the only true God.” The deep significance of the little clause, “whom you have sent,” has to do with the only possible means of mankind coming to know “the only true God” and thereby coming to have eternal life (cf. 1 John 5:12).

Why the incarnation? Why did God come to man, assuming our own nature and being found in the likeness of our constitution? The ancient question cries: Why the God-man? One reason is to make God known to man.

—Pastor Manny

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[1] Charles Simeon, Horae Homileticae Vol. 19: 2 Timothy to Hebrews (London, 1832-63), 135-36.

[2] John MacArthur, comments on John 4:24.

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Meditations

Gossip

God flatly condemns gossip. Even in its best form, it is an evil work of the tongue that betrays confidence and serves to slander. While it includes the notion of spreading rumors or lies about someone and is often assumed to be with ill-intent, gossip need not be malicious or false. It is the truthful but non-redemptive talk about others that is too often the besetting sin of Christians.

Gossip destroys trust (Pr 11:13), separates close friends (Pr 16:28), brings dishonorable shame and ill-repute (Pr 25:9-10), and inflames quarrels (Pr 26:20).

What is Gossip?

In the English language, we get the word “gossip” from the Old English “godsibb.” Oxford Dictionary tells us that the word was originally used to describe “a person related to one in God;” like the words “godfather” or “godmother.” It is a compound of god and sibb, the source of “sibling.” Its original definition was: “One who has contracted spiritual affinity with another by acting as a sponsor at a baptism” (OED). In medieval times a gossip was “a close friend, a person with whom one gossips” (COED). The history of this word illustrates the nature of what it has come to mean. It represents conversation belonging to a person who is intimately, even spiritually, related. It describes the divulging of private information.

In God’s Word, the idea behind the translation of the word “gossip” is always negative.

Gossip is a Species of Slander

The word is often grouped or associated with other sins of the tongue. For instance, it is written in 2 Corinthians 12:20, “For I fear that perhaps when I come I may find you not as I wish, and that you may find me not as you wish—that perhaps there may be quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder.” Here slander and gossip are closely connected. We find this same connection in the writings of the early church as well. In 1 Clement 30:3, “gossip” is joined with “evil speech” or “slander”: “Let us put on harmony, being humble-minded, exercising self control, keeping ourselves far away from all gossip and evil speech” (also in 1 Clement 35:5).

In Romans 1 it is grouped under the traits of “debased mind” (Rom 1:28) and is in class with “all manner of unrighteousness” (Rom 1:29). Again, “gossips” and “slanderers” are presented side-by-side (Rom 1:29-30); they are cousins in concert playing maladies of the tongue. Gossip is a species of slander, which is overtly prohibited in the Law of God to Israel (Lev 19:16).

Gossip Speaks Secrets

“Gossip” translates the Greek word that comes from the verb “to whisper” (psithurismos) and most literally means “a whispering” with the idea of “a secret slander” (Abbott-Smith). One lexicon describes the Greek word as “providing harmful information about a person, often spoken in whispers or in low voice, with the implication that such information is not widely known and therefore should presumably be kept secret” (Louw-Nida). Another describes it as “derogatory information about someone that is offered in a tone of confidentiality” (BDAG). Luther’s translation of the noun used a German word that means “scandal-mongering.” The sense of the word denotes that which is breathed against another’s character. It need not be malicious, but is always a mark of indiscretion.

People gossip when they go about “saying what they should not” (1 Tim 5:13). Gossip is a form of slandering that reveals secrets. Proverbs 11:13 says, “Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered.” Such an “informer” inflicts injury and does not promote the glory of God in the grace of the gospel. In Proverbs 20:19, he is called “a simple babbler,” which is associated with one who speaks foolishly, indiscreetly.

Love Opposes Gossip

As Christians, we are to act in love toward one another (Rom 12:10; Gal 5:14-15; 1 Thess 4:9). And in the context of information about people, love does not broadcast or whisper the sins or weaknesses of others. Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends” (Proverbs 17:9). So the one who acts in love, watches over their heart and tongue so as not to uncover that which is private. Charles Bridges insightfully notes, “Another breach of love is reproved here. The Gospel does not shut us up in our own private interests, as if we had no sympathy for our neighbor. It is a universal brotherhood of love. Yet it rebukes a gossip who, having no business of his own, traffics with his neighbor’s name and honor and sells his scandals for gain or wantonness.”

“Let him not see the results of misplaced confidence dropping out of our mouth. It is of great moment to our peace—that those about us should be of a faithful spirit, fully worthy of our confidence; to whom it is not necessary on every occasion to enjoin secrecy; true to our interest as to their own; who would rather refuse a trust than betray it; whose bosom is a cover of concealment, except when the honor of God and the interests of society plainly forbids. Invaluable is such a friend, but rare indeed in this deceitful world. Yet let it never be forgotten, that Christian consistency includes the faithful spirit; and the habitual absence of it under a plausible religion makes it most doubtful, whether the spirit and mind of Christ is not altogether wanting.” (Bridges, 103–104).

A disciplined tongue is a restraining mercy to the Church

Again, we would do well to remember that “mischief might not be intended. But to amuse ourselves with the follies or weakness of our brethren, is sinful trifling, fraught with injury. … A disciplined tongue is a restraining mercy to the Church.” (Bridges, 225). On this, Matthew Henry writes,

“The way to preserve peace among relations and neighbours is to make the best of everything, not to tell others what has been said or done against them when it is not at all necessary to their safety … the ripping up of faults is the ripping out of love, and nothing tends more to the separating of friends, and setting them at variance, than the repeating of matters that have been in variance … the best method of peace is by an amnesty or act of oblivion.” (Henry, 992).

Gossip is the Fruit of Pride

Gossip is the fruit of pride, being motivated by a queer delight in the failings or difficult circumstances of others. It is a shameful sin to find pleasure in the negative news of another. Yet gossip is curiously hard to resist, like a tasty morsel: “The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body” (Pr 18:8; 26:22). So even though the tongue is so small a member of our bodies, the perverse cravings for the words of a whisperer (gossip) are great and have tremendous potential for damage like a small spark to a massive wildfire (James 3:5). The happiness of many a life has been tragically scared and burned by thoughtless, to say nothing of ill-intended, gossip.

May we take to heart the words of Charles Spurgeon:

Gossips of both genders, give up the shameful trade of talebearing; don’t be the devil’s bellows any longer to blow up the fire of strife. Leave off setting people by the ears. If you do not cut a bit off your tongues, at least season them with the salt of grace. Praise God more and blame neighbours less. Any goose can cackle, any fly can find out a sore place, any empty barrel can give forth sound, any brier can tear a man’s flesh. No flies will go down your throat if you keep your mouth shut, and no evil-speaking will come up. Think much, but say little: be quick at work and slow at talk; and above all, ask the great Lord to set a watch over your lips.

Gossip is a Besetting Sin

Gossip is a besetting sin of Christians. It involves a non-redemptive conversation about someone else to a person who is not directly involved. If what you have to say reports something negative that (a) does not make much of God, (b) does not bless the person being talked about, and (c) does not sanctify the hearer, then it is likely gossip. If you are sharing a personal sin or weakness about someone else and you are talking to someone not immediately involved in the circumstance (either in the sin or the correction of that sin), then it is likely gossip. Praying for someone is not the same as being involved in the circumstance and should not be equated to ministering in the correction of that sin. Gossip is all too often committed under the guise of a “prayer request” or an effort to help someone “better understand the situation.” In such cases, it remains the whispering of a secret, the unloving uncovering of that which love ought to cover, the intrusion of a bad interest in the language and reasoning of good intentions. It is better to pour your heart out to God rather than spread the sins of others before man.

A Christian Exhortation

May we as Christians think and speak with wisdom and discretion, with grace and love, with humility and sensitivity. May we increasingly seek to glorify God with our tongues, being mindful of God so as to be good stewards of whatever information we might possess. May we be more deliberate with our conversations to make much of Christ and the gospel and less of people and negative news. May our prayers and prayer requests be adorned in the beauty of holiness and meekness, with all contentment in knowing that God knows such needs before we or others do.

Let us be sure to hold one another accountable in love (Gal 6:1-2), expose unrepented sins according to our Lord’s manner (Matt 18:15-17), and report what threatens safety and peace, but let us not gossip. Let us be sure to share what is edifying (Eph 4:31), speak the truth in love (Eph 4:15), and bless others with our tongue (Lk 6:28), but let us not gossip.

Oh, may we keep our tongue from evil (Ps 34:13)!

—Pastor Manny