Archive for November 2011

A Servant is not Greater

30 November 2011 by Daniel

Q. 54. How is Christ exalted in his sitting at the right hand of God?
A. Christ is exalted in his sitting at the right hand of God, in that as God-man he is advanced to the highest favor with God the Father, with all fullness of joy, glory, and power over all things in heaven and earth; and doth gather and defend his church, and subdue their enemies; furnisheth his ministers and people with gifts and graces, and maketh intercession for them.

Q. 55. How doth Christ make intercession?
A. Christ maketh intercession, by his appearing in our nature continually before the Father in heaven, in the merit of his obedience and sacrifice on earth, declaring his will to have it applied to all believers; answering all accusations against them, and procuring for them quiet of conscience, notwithstanding daily failings, access with boldness to the throne of grace, and acceptance of their persons and services.

There once was a man whom God gifted by granting him a deep hunger for, and understanding of, His word. As the man began to devour God's word, he simultaneously became aware that he was able to expound and explain what he was being made aware of in God's word, with clarity and conviction. Those around him in the church encouraged him to exercise this gift, which they understood to be the gift of a teacher of God's word.

In the years that followed this man began to exercise this gift, and though he earnestly guarded himself against taking credit for God's gift, yet some secret part of him quietly nursed the notion that he was special on account of his gifting.

As the years went on, he showed himself to be approved, filling the pulpit and feeding the flock God's word. But his zeal for God's word, as pure as it was at the outset, began to decay ever so slowly that he wasn't even aware of the cancer of self slowly uprooting and displacing the word the Lord had done. And so there came a day when he set pen to paper to write the next sermon, and found himself dry as a funeral drum.

The next day he delivered the pathetic, still-born sermon he had labored all that week to write. It was received with such yawning disinterest that each word seemed heavier and more burdensome than the last. After the service finally ended he fled home, shut himself in a closet, and wept his heart out to the Lord. How had he become such an empty, prancing peacock? He finally himself as he had become, and he loathed himself and was all but consumed by the shame of his sin, and the damage it undoubtedly had caused to others. He was like that man in scripture, who understood himself to be a wretch, and could only cry that God be merciful to him: the sinner.

In the days that followed, God answered that prayer and he found again a genuine humility. This the Lord used to tear down all that the man had exalted over the years, and through this the Lord taught him again to hate his own pride and praise. When the man stood in the pulpit the following Sunday, the Lord was exalted in Him. He came to God's word, trembling to handle it, and with utter reliance on the Lord, that gift shone anew, to the praise of God's glory, and the feeding of the flock.

Do you see that the Lord exalted this man in the end, by first humiliating him? God didn't begin in the middle somewhere, but brought the man to <>nothing in that every aspect of his exaltation was owed entirely to the Lord. Had God failed to bring this man to nothing, God could not have exalted him: you see God will not share His glory. When you can see this, you will understand, in some small way, what something more about how Christ was exalted by God the Father.

Christ humbled Himself to the point of emptiness when He took on human flesh so that when God exalted Christ, He didn't just raise Him up to the highest honor, but raised Him up from the lowest humiliation to that highest honor. Had Christ not been humbled first, His exaltation would have been diminished. It is one glory to leap over the highest hurdle, and another to do the same having made that leap from the deepest pit. The exaltation of Christ was magnified by and through His humiliation.

There is no higher honor than to sit at God's right hand. Yet this honor, by itself, was not sufficient an honor to justly exalt Christ. In order to honor Christ with that honor that an honor worthy of Him, Christ had to be exalted from the lowest humiliation. Thinking about how the Lord honored Christ is a good and worthy meditation; but it is also a truth that has application. If God exalts Christ in this way, He will continue to do so in Christ's servants. Do not be alarmed therefore when the Lord tears down a thing. It may be that the Lord is exalting Christ in building it up.

Utter Opposition

29 November 2011 by Neil

Q. 54. How is Christ exalted in his sitting at the right hand of God?
A. Christ is exalted in his sitting at the right hand of God, in that as God-man he is advanced to the highest favor with God the Father, with all fullness of joy, glory, and power over all things in heaven and earth; and doth gather and defend his church, and subdue their enemies; furnisheth his ministers and people with gifts and graces, and maketh intercession for them.

Q. 55. How doth Christ make intercession?
A. Christ maketh intercession, by his appearing in our nature continually before the Father in heaven, in the merit of his obedience and sacrifice on earth, declaring his will to have it applied to all believers; answering all accusations against them, and procuring for them quiet of conscience, notwithstanding daily failings, access with boldness to the throne of grace, and acceptance of their persons and services.

Jesus is seated at the right hand of God. We read this over and over in the Bible. But is he really sitting? Is he sometimes standing? Does he stand up and sit down again, and then do it some more? Is his head continuously craned to the left so that he can continuously whisper in God's ear to make continuous intercession for us? And as Thomas Aquinas socratically mused, does that mean that God the Father is at the left hand of Jesus, and thus in a position of lesser honour? Does Jesus sometimes wander away from the Father's right hand for a little while to do some other odd bits of work?

The geometry of the throne room is irrelevant.  Don't be so self-centered to think that God's throne is like your favourite armchair.

Once again, go back to Question 7: God is a Spirit, in and of himself infinite in being, glory, blessedness and perfection, et cetera. No physical throne can seat him. He has a “right hand”, but not in any sense that a petty human such as you can imagine. But you protest: “Stephen saw Jesus literally standing at the right hand of God!”

Take another look (Acts 7:54-56). Stephen did not say that he saw “the right hand of God”. What Stephen saw was Jesus standing, and what Stephen comprehended was the position of power, might, authority and glory of the resurrected Son of God, the Christ. In utter opposition to the extent of the Son's many humiliations, Stephen saw this human Christ restored to the glory and honour that he had with the Father before he was human, in fact before there were humans, in fact before the world existed. Stephen saw the consummation of the astonishing journey of the Son from heaven to the depths, from Spirit to flesh, from unblemished to “sinful”, from life to death, from death to life, from earth to glory, and from subject to Judge.

Before the spit landed, before the rocks struck, before his body broke, and before his lifebreath thinned, Stephen saw that the weak carpenter who wouldn't defend himself from the Sanhedrin and the Romans had been exalted above all, with the royal authority to rule and welcome his sheep, and to judge and sentence his enemies.

Stephen didn't see a wistful pantywaist hoping to be asked into hearts. He didn't see a buddy or a conversationalist eager to have humans assign their preferred meaning of the moment to his sayings.  No.  Stephen saw God.  Stephen saw Almighty God, and it brought him confidence and joy, and bring on the stoning. That terrifies me, in a good way.

How to Win a Perfect Kingdom

28 November 2011 by Tom Chantry

Q. 54. How is Christ exalted in his sitting at the right hand of God?
A. Christ is exalted in his sitting at the right hand of God, in that as God-man he is advanced to the highest favor with God the Father, with all fullness of joy, glory, and power over all things in heaven and earth; and doth gather and defend his church, and subdue their enemies; furnisheth his ministers and people with gifts and graces, and maketh intercession for them.

Q. 55. How doth Christ make intercession?
A. Christ maketh intercession, by his appearing in our nature continually before the Father in heaven, in the merit of his obedience and sacrifice on earth, declaring his will to have it applied to all believers; answering all accusations against them, and procuring for them quiet of conscience, notwithstanding daily failings, access with boldness to the throne of grace, and acceptance of their persons and services.

As eager as our society is to make idols of our fellow man, we are equally ready to tear them down. Perhaps the famous have become too famous; we know too much about them to hold them in awe. Whatever the reason, we delight in seeing the mighty humbled.

This trend is particularly evident in conversation about our political leaders. Coarse jokes and rude insults are the currency not only of comedians, but of talk-show hosts, columnists, and (sadly) pastors. Who can be bothered with propriety when it seems that every politician has invited the slings and arrows of outrageous rhetoric?

Yet such irreverence is out of step with the Bible. We might have remembered the words of Solomon in Proverbs 16:14-15.
A king’s wrath is a messenger of death,
and a wise man will appease it.
In the light of a king’s face there is life,
and his favor is like the clouds that bring the spring rain
But then, we wouldn’t want to be accused of pandering!

Worse, though, is the temptation to employ the same coarse familiarity towards our true King, the Lord Jesus.

He is no king like those of the nations. Rather than exalt himself with pomp and ceremony, he seized a kingdom through humiliation. He allowed himself to be degraded - to be dragged through the muck of our common, evil existence - in order that he might win a perfect kingdom in a world to come.

But we should stand in awe of his humiliation, not find in it an excuse to speak lightly of him. Let us never forget, even as we express his humiliation, where He is now! “…as God-man he is advanced to the highest favor with God the Father, with all fullness of joy, glory, and power over all things in heaven and earth…” And would we, who confess him to be Lord and Christ, speak coarsely or familiarly of his former humiliation?

Here is a King whose wrath is a messenger of eternal death, but whose favor brings the spring rain of God’s blessing. Let us not, whenever we speak of his humiliation, allow ourselves to drift into forgetfulness of who he now is or of where he now sits enthroned.

By His Own Power

23 November 2011 by Brad Williams

Q. 51. What was the estate of Christ's exaltation?
A. The estate of Christ's exaltation comprehendeth his resurrection, ascension, sitting at the right hand of the Father, and his coming again to judge the world.

Q. 52. How was Christ exalted in his resurrection?
A. Christ was exalted in his resurrection, in that, not having seen corruption in death, (of which it was not possible for him to be held,) and having the very same body in which he suffered, with the essential properties thereof, (but without mortality, and other common infirmities belonging to this life,) really united to his soul, he rose again from the dead the third day by his own power; whereby he declared himself to be the Son of God, to have satisfied divine justice, to have vanquished death, and him that had the power of it, and to be Lord of quick and dead: all which he did as a public person, the head of his church, for their justification, quickening in grace, support against enemies, and to assure them of their resurrection from the dead at the last day.

Q. 53. How was Christ exalted in his ascension?
A. Christ was exalted in his ascension, in that having after his resurrection often appeared unto and conversed with his apostles, speaking to them of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God, and giving them commission to preach the gospel to all nations, forty days after his resurrection, he, in our nature, and as our head, triumphing over enemies, visibly went up into the highest heavens, there to receive gifts for men, to raise up our affections thither, and to prepare a place for us, where himself is, and shall continue till his second coming at the end of the world.

Houdini was a master showman and an unparalleled escape artist. He would allow men to shackle him, put him into a locked chest, and then dump him into the water. He would then emerge unscathed from his ordeal, thrilling the gathered crowds at his ability to cheat death.

Nobody wanted to see a drowned Houdini. At least, not any person with a heart. They wanted to see him defy death. They would watch him plunge, bound in chains, into certain doom with bated breath, and then cheer as he rose victorious over his shackles. Houdini's fame lay in the fact that he escaped, not simply in the fact that he was bound, but that he escaped. But not even Houdini could escape the trap of death; he, like us, was bound by the cords of death like every other man.

Jesus of Nazareth was no Houdini. He did not challenge men to bind him in chains and throw him into the sea. He said, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up" (John 2:19). The shackles that Jesus wore were fashioned by man, but not out of iron or steel, they were fashioned from sin and held its prisoners fast in the depths of death. No one had ever escaped death. This was no parlor trick. Jesus was nailed to the cross, speared in the side, laid in the tomb, sealed with a rock, guarded by Roman soldiers, and mourned by his friends.

And on the third day, he cast off death. The angels rolled the stone away from his tomb, not so Jesus could get out, but so his disciples could get in and see that he was risen indeed. This is the exaltation of Jesus Christ; not that he cheated death, but that he defeated it. His resurrection from the dead is God's declaration that Jesus is both Lord and Christ, that he is the yes and amen of every promise of God, and that he is the man chosen by God to set the children free from the fear of death.

One day, you and I will feel the cold fetters of death fasten about our mortal coil. We will be put in a grave and mourned by our friends. In that day, we will join the rest of the witnesses of Christ and wait with bated breath for Christ to do what only he can do: free our bodies from the shackles that bind them, and glorify them as he himself is glorified. Death will flee from us with a shout from the one who has mastered him: Jesus the Christ, the man whom death could not hold.

Raised

22 November 2011 by Daniel

Q. 51. What was the estate of Christ's exaltation?
A. The estate of Christ's exaltation comprehendeth his resurrection, ascension, sitting at the right hand of the Father, and his coming again to judge the world.

Q. 52. How was Christ exalted in his resurrection?
A. Christ was exalted in his resurrection, in that, not having seen corruption in death, (of which it was not possible for him to be held,) and having the very same body in which he suffered, with the essential properties thereof, (but without mortality, and other common infirmities belonging to this life,) really united to his soul, he rose again from the dead the third day by his own power; whereby he declared himself to be the Son of God, to have satisfied divine justice, to have vanquished death, and him that had the power of it, and to be Lord of quick and dead: all which he did as a public person, the head of his church, for their justification, quickening in grace, support against enemies, and to assure them of their resurrection from the dead at the last day.

Q. 53. How was Christ exalted in his ascension?
A. Christ was exalted in his ascension, in that having after his resurrection often appeared unto and conversed with his apostles, speaking to them of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God, and giving them commission to preach the gospel to all nations, forty days after his resurrection, he, in our nature, and as our head, triumphing over enemies, visibly went up into the highest heavens, there to receive gifts for men, to raise up our affections thither, and to prepare a place for us, where himself is, and shall continue till his second coming at the end of the world.

It is a stale theological fact, for some, that Christ was raised from the dead, ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God. The bible says it, they believe it, and that settles it. But to allow this truth to sit as an unapplied fact is a tragic waste of this precious truth.

Listen: The exaltation of Christ is the lifeblood of assurance, and any Christian who acknowledges Christ's exaltation without applying it to the reality of his own faith is suffering needlessly.

Though I am redeemed, and my salvation certain, yet the body in which I now live has yet to be redeemed. In other words, as a believer the work of sanctification has begun in my life, but this isn't a work that will end in this life. The desire to do what I want, rather than what I ought, will always be with me. In Christ I am granted victory over that desire reckoning myself dead to it, and alive to Christ, but however mature I may become, my walk is not perfect, and I will fail at times to rest in Christ.

The guilt of some sin will assault me, and I shall examine myself in its wake: My flesh will gladly entertain the notion that God accepts me when I am obedient, but when my obedience wavers, and some long dead tendril of works-righteousness is revived by my guilt, it will surely begin to whisper anew that God is my secret Enemy until such time as I can make amends for my failure through even greater feats of obedience. In the slippery pit of this despair, for all my theology, I shall writhe until I remember that I am in Christ, and Christ is risen.

You see, when God raised Christ from the dead, the scriptures tell me that I was in Christ. When God raised Jesus, He raised me. If even one sin was able to separate me from God, then Christ could not have been raised, for I was in Him - united together with Him. In order to raise Christ, I had to be acceptable to God. The fact that Christ was raised is a declaration of my acceptance to God. His exaltation is God's undying declaration of my acceptance - the root and font of my assurance in times of trouble.

God has exalted Christ; it isn't an empty doctrine - it is the declaration of our acceptance - worthy of all praise and remembrance. Do you want your heart to swell today in love and adoration? Think on these things.

Lengths

21 November 2011 by Matt Gumm

And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:8, ESV)

It was enough humility that Christ came to Earth as a human being, leaving behind heaven, and glory, and veiled His godhood so that, when he was looked upon, so that those around Him even gave him any thought (Is. 53:2-3). But His humility continued to the (very) bitter end, to accomplish the task His Father had set out for Him--the redemption of a people for himself. That redemption required something that Jesus couldn't do as only God, and that was die a sacrificial death.

His death was bitter in almost every way imaginable: he was betrayed by one of his own company, and abandoned by all the rest of them; his own people didn't recognize him; his execution was a complete travesty of justice; he was physically abused and executed in a manner that was horrific by any standards. Finally, this death signified the spiritual truth that Jesus died under God's curse.

All of this was driven by single-minded devotion to his earthly mission--to honor his father and complete the work that he was sent to accomplish.

The ugliness and shame of that obedient death on the cross stands as a stark reminder of the awfulness of sin, the cost of redemption, and the lengths God willingly undertook to save all those who would believe.

Bone Dry

16 November 2011 by Daniel

Q. 49. How did Christ humble himself in his death?
A. Christ humbled himself in his death, in that having been betrayed by Judas, forsaken by his disciples, scorned and rejected by the world, condemned by Pilate, and tormented by his persecutors; having also conflicted with the terrors of death, and the powers of darkness, felt and borne the weight of God's wrath, he laid down his life an offering for sin, enduring the painful, shameful, and cursed death of the cross.

Q. 50. Wherein consisted Christ's humiliation after his death?
A. Christ's humiliation after his death consisted in his being buried, and continuing in the state of the dead, and under the power of death till the third day; which hath been otherwise expressed in these words, He descended into hell.

In Psalm 113 we learn that in order to acknowledge (ie. see) the heavens and the earth God has to humble Himself. Think about that for a second. Is that just poetry, or is God really that exalted? I believe He is. It follows that Paul was making a vast understatement when he writes to the believers at Philippi that Christ our Lord, though He existed in the form of God, emptied Himself, taking on the form of a bond-servant, and being found in the likeness of men.

Not the kind of empty whereby we mean, mostly empty, as in an "empty" gas tank - which may have a few drops left in it, or the glass of milk that you "empty" which, once emptied, still has a little drop or two of milk in it that you couldn't be bothered to clean out. When the second Person in the Godhead emptied Himself in order to become a man, we are getting a description of exponential humility. If God must condescend just to look at men, how much more to empty Himself and become a man?

But God didn't stop there. He didn't leave a few drops of milk in the bottom on His emptied cup. When God the Son condescended to become a man, He didn't stop there, but lived this life in perfect obedience, even as His own creation in rejecting Him, abused Him, falsely accused Him, and jeered at Him as they took away that same life. I mean, His death was the death of a criminal - it was the cultural equivalent of putting down a rabid dog. Man's judgment against His maker was that the Author of Life was not fit to live.

Betrayed by His own, abandoned in the end, and dying an ignoble death -these things were nothing compared to being forsaken by God. Do you want to understand how Christ was humbled in His death? He drank the cup of humiliation bone dry, when our Lord said, "It is done!" it marked the completion of His humiliation. Chew on this: It meant that He had endured every humiliation possible. It meant that He had come from the highest high, and condescended to the lowest low. When He said "It is done!" it marked the place where there was no where lower to go.

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Nakedness

15 November 2011 by Brad Williams

Q. 49. How did Christ humble himself in his death?
A. Christ humbled himself in his death, in that having been betrayed by Judas, forsaken by his disciples, scorned and rejected by the world, condemned by Pilate, and tormented by his persecutors; having also conflicted with the terrors of death, and the powers of darkness, felt and borne the weight of God's wrath, he laid down his life an offering for sin, enduring the painful, shameful, and cursed death of the cross.

Q. 50. Wherein consisted Christ's humiliation after his death?
A. Christ's humiliation after his death consisted in his being buried, and continuing in the state of the dead, and under the power of death till the third day; which hath been otherwise expressed in these words, He descended into hell.

When Adam and Eve sinned against God, the first thing that they realized was that they were naked. Why hadn't they noticed this before? Was it because they, in their innocence, were completely naive? Or, is their realization connected to something else? Since I believe that the first couple were at least as smart, if not smarter, than the rest of their progeny, I highly doubt that it had previously escaped their notice that they were both in the buff. If that is the case, then their realization of nakedness means something else. But what?

The original sin of our ancestors brought death. The bodies of Adam and Eve began to decompose while they were still wearing them. It was slow, but it was steady. Like you and I, they became subject to disease, injury, and death. Old age crept up on them, just like us, and eventually they died, just like we will.

Being dead is kind of a bummer. I believe that to die is to depart and be with Christ. I also believe that being dead and with Christ is better than being alive in this rotting tent we call a body. However, 2 Corinthians 5 indicates that the time between being dead and being resurrected represents a time of longing. We are longing to be clothed with immortal bodies that are not subject to death. Part of being human is wearing flesh, its just that the flesh we wear now is a constant reminder of our original shame: we have sinned, and we are dying.

Did you know that Jesus the Lord experienced this shame? He had to wear a body that was subject to death, even though he never earned that sort of body by sinning. He wore that tent, he tabernacled with us, because he is gracious. And not only did Jesus wear a body ravaged by the effects of sin, he died in it. Not only did he die in that body, he remained separated from a body for three days. Is that a big deal? Yes, yes it is. Jesus is a man, and so for three days he felt the longing that I will feel when I die and am disembodied. He longed to put on his heavenly garment and be clothed in immortality, just like I do. I will do so even more keenly when this body finally wears out.

In every way, our Lord Jesus became one of us. He wore our filthy garments. He suffered in the same kind of flesh we suffer in as a reminder of our shame. He even suffered a death like ours, a disembodiment like we will suffer, and he groaned for the redemption of his body.

And on the third day, he clothed himself with immortality. Soon, he will rid us of all our shame, and he will cloth us as he has clothed himself.

Hallelujah.

A Last Look at Your Good Name

14 November 2011 by David Regier

Q. 49. How did Christ humble himself in his death?
A. Christ humbled himself in his death, in that having been betrayed by Judas, forsaken by his disciples, scorned and rejected by the world, condemned by Pilate, and tormented by his persecutors; having also conflicted with the terrors of death, and the powers of darkness, felt and borne the weight of God's wrath, he laid down his life an offering for sin, enduring the painful, shameful, and cursed death of the cross.

Q. 50. Wherein consisted Christ's humiliation after his death?
A. Christ's humiliation after his death consisted in his being buried, and continuing in the state of the dead, and under the power of death till the third day; which hath been otherwise expressed in these words, He descended into hell.

Let us pause to briefly consider what it takes to get mentioned by name, like Judas and Pilate, in the Westminster Catechism.

I'll wait. . .



Even if you've never betrayed your spiritual mentor for modest gain, even if you've never pilfered from the coffers while spouting high-minded ideals about ministry, even if you've never sold out to the enemy because you saw which way the wind was blowing. . .

Even if you've never looked at what was going on, saw that it was all wrong, that everybody had the wrong idea, but man, they're loud. Even if you've never abdicated the authority that you rightfully had by letting the mob rule and then washing your hands. . .

Even if you didn't, at your best, make like brave, brave Sir Robin with the rest of the disciples. . .

Reflect on those names and understand that there will be a day when all history is revealed, and every name, every action recorded as scripture for the purpose of God's glory. Is your name any better than theirs?

Run to the name that is above them, and above all.

It Swallows Up

10 November 2011 by Frank Turk

The apostle had made all who are under the law subject to the curse; from which arose this great problem, that the Jews could not free themselves from the curse of the law. Having stated this problem, he meets it, by showing that Christ has made us free, which aids his purpose even more. If we are saved, because we have been freed from the curse of the law, then righteousness is not by the law.

He next points out the manner in which we are made free. It is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree. Now, Christ hung upon the cross, therefore he fell under that curse. But it is certain that he did not suffer that punishment on his own account. It follows, therefore, either that he was crucified in vain, or that our curse was laid upon him, in order that we might be delivered from it. Now, he does not say that Christ was cursed, but, which is still more, that he was a curse, — intimating, that the curse “of all men was laid upon him” (Isaiah 53:6.) If any man think this language harsh, let him be ashamed of the cross of Christ, in the confession of which we glory. It was not unknown to God what death his own Son would die, when he pronounced the law, “He that is hanged is accursed of God.” (Deuteronomy 21:23)

But how does it happen, it will be asked, that a beloved Son is cursed by his Father? We reply, there are two things which must be considered, not only in the person of Christ, but even in his human nature. The one is, that he was the unspotted Lamb of God, full of blessing and of grace; the other is, that he placed himself in our room, and thus became a sinner, and subject to the curse, not in himself indeed, but in us, yet in such a manner, that it became necessary for him to occupy our place. He could not cease to be the object of his Father’s love, and yet he endured his wrath. For how could he reconcile the Father to us, if he had incurred his hatred and displeasure? We conclude, that he “did always those things that pleased” (John 8:29) his Father.

Again, how would he have freed us from the wrath of God, if he had not transferred it from us to himself? Thus, “he was wounded for our transgressions,” (Isaiah 53:5,) and had to deal with God as an angry judge. This is the foolishness of the cross, (1 Corinthians 1:18,) and the admiration of angels, (1 Peter 1:12,) which not only exceeds, but swallows up, all the wisdom of the world.

-- John Calvin, Commentary on Gal 3:13

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The Problem with Christ's Humility

09 November 2011 by Brad Williams

We are a cursed people. The stench of death hangs upon this world. It stalks us all. It lurks, like a specter, in the back of our minds from the time we become aware that we are persons to the time we breathe our last. It casts a shadow over all we do. Everything here rots. Everything here dies. Everything here turns to dust.

Nature itself feels the weight of death's oppression. The creation sighs, and it does not willingly suffer the sons of men to trample her underfoot. The earth longs for restoration, for the wicked to be put down, for death to crushed underfoot. If creation were not bidden by her Master to hold us up, she would gladly cast us off and be rid of our cursed ilk. The sons of men are cruel stewards.

Man is cursed to separation. He is separated from his God, and he is separated from the creation he was made to tend. He spends his life in fear of dying, wondering if there is something beyond this world of thorns and thistles. He sees the withering flower that dies and leaves no trace, he sees the oak tumble and burn, he watches his crops die for lack of rain, he hears his babies cry with hunger, he sees time etch her marks on his skin, and he knows he is headed for his doom. All of this, whether he knows it or not, is just recompense for his own wickedness.

It is a testament to the horror of sin and the depth of man's cursedness that the heinous thing we call death, the blight that permeates the world, is a mercy. Death is a mercy, though she is cloaked in terrible garments. For the Lord God said upon man's fall, "Behold, the man has become like on of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and live forever..." (Gen. 3:22). God drove the man out of paradise and into the clutches of death in order to save him from a fate worse than dying, a fate worse than a thousand generations of cancer, murder, rape, starvation, and war. A fate worse than a stillborn upon the lap of an inconsolable mother.

This brings us to the greatest shame of the sons of men and the source of our greatest misery. We are blinded to glory and goodness. We are utterly unable to see holiness. For if we could see glory, and if we knew holiness, we would never have to wonder if death were a mercy, whether our suffering is just, and how it could be that starving is preferable to God's displeasure.

Man is a cursed brute, and the world is full of his stench. No one knows this like a man who has been set free by that alien thing called grace, who has caught the scent of heaven, who has seen the glory of eternity, and who has been enveloped by the love of God that invades this wretched place. Only this kind of man, a man freed from the misery of sin, can see that God must kill us to save us, and that all our sufferings here, all of our miseries, are nothing in comparison to knowing the glory of God in the risen King, Jesus Christ. The cursed world thinks this man is insane, thus adding to the misery and the longing for the sons of God to be revealed.

To No Avail

08 November 2011 by Neil

Q. 46. What was the estate of Christ's humiliation?
A. The estate of Christ's humiliation was that low condition, wherein he for our sakes, emptying himself of his glory, took upon him the form of a servant, in his conception and birth, life, death, and after his death, until his resurrection.

Q. 47. How did Christ humble himself in his conception and birth?
A. Christ humbled himself in his conception and birth, in that, being from all eternity the Son of God, in the bosom of the Father, he was pleased in the fullness of time to become the son of man, made of a woman of low estate, and to be born of her; with divers circumstances of more than ordinary abasement.

Q. 48. How did Christ humble himself in his life?
A. Christ humbled himself in his life, by subjecting himself to the law, which he perfectly fulfilled; and by conflicting with the indignities of the world, temptations of Satan, and infirmities in his flesh, whether common to the nature of man, or particularly accompanying that his low condition.


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 -- Hebrews 4:15

Yahweh was the very definition of wisdom, and Yahweh was all power: he constituted the space-time of the cosmos, and made all that would ever be into existence with his bare words. Yahweh was holy, and Yahweh was unchanging: he did not countenance sin, and he never would. Yahweh was Lord over all, in right and in position.  Yahweh was unassailable.  You'd be mad to try.

Yet, Yahweh's most powerful created being rebelled. Unwilling to submit, he wanted to take the place of Yahweh, the first of multitudes who still want the exact same thing.  The rebel intended to win, but the battle went predictably. Shocked and enraged, the rebel was thrown from the heights, thrown from the very presence of Yahweh

But now... Yahweh had the brain of a man, and Yahweh was frail and forty-days hungry. He was part of creation instead of over creation, and he made tables and woodsheds instead of worlds and newborns.  He was no longer the Lawgiver. Yahweh was under the Law, and was Lord over nothing. Yahweh had changed.

Yahweh was a thirty year old man called Jesus, and apparently he had stupidly made himself ripe for failure. The rebel saw a chance to win. Joyfully sauntering through his opening, he got in the face of the weak and starving man. He offered food. He offered power. He plucked Jesus up from one spot and plopped him down in another. He swarmed the senses and needs of the man like a furious hornet colony going after a hapless kid. He did his utmost. But Yahweh changes not, and this battle also went predictably: the rebel is the one who failed.

This wasn't the first time the rebel had tempted Jesus, and it wouldn't be his last opportunity either. Sometimes he would openly declare himself. Sometimes he would use Jesus' best-loved friends to do the dirty work. The rebel would work on Jesus for the rest of his life, but to no avail. Because even though Jesus is Yahweh, he is also one of us, yet without sin.

Humble for Hypocrites

07 November 2011 by David Regier

Q. 46. What was the estate of Christ's humiliation?
A. The estate of Christ's humiliation was that low condition, wherein he for our sakes, emptying himself of his glory, took upon him the form of a servant, in his conception and birth, life, death, and after his death, until his resurrection.

Q. 47. How did Christ humble himself in his conception and birth?
A. Christ humbled himself in his conception and birth, in that, being from all eternity the Son of God, in the bosom of the Father, he was pleased in the fullness of time to become the son of man, made of a woman of low estate, and to be born of her; with divers circumstances of more than ordinary abasement.

Q. 48. How did Christ humble himself in his life?
A. Christ humbled himself in his life, by subjecting himself to the law, which he perfectly fulfilled; and by conflicting with the indignities of the world, temptations of Satan, and infirmities in his flesh, whether common to the nature of man, or particularly accompanying that his low condition.

There's a guy who, in the effort to convince the world that its carbon use will destroy the planet, flies all over it in a private jet. There's a man who, having crusaded his entire life against income inequality, lives in the richest circumstances the world has ever known. There's a woman who, in the service of telling the nation about the immorality of its food choices, sets herself before feasts that would make Louis XIV blush.

There are people who campaign to restore ethics to Congress as they fund their campaigns with lobbyist cash. There are young people who rail against the idea of private property, but hey, gimme back my iPhone! There are preachers who rail against immorality, even in the midst of their affairs. There are teachers who bust kids for cheating even as they fudge the test scores. There are drunk mothers against drunk driving, and cops who text while pulling you over for texting while driving.

There are fat gym teachers, smoking doctors, friends who give the best advice but live ruinous lives. There are mothers who punish their kids for whining, then whine at the world online. There's a certain dad who berates his son for being distracted from his schoolwork as he goes back to the computer in his office - look what that funny cat said!

We all have a law. Jesus did too.

And then He subjected Himself to it.

The Greatest Missionary

01 November 2011 by Brad Williams

Q. 46. What was the estate of Christ's humiliation?
A. The estate of Christ's humiliation was that low condition, wherein he for our sakes, emptying himself of his glory, took upon him the form of a servant, in his conception and birth, life, death, and after his death, until his resurrection.

Q. 47. How did Christ humble himself in his conception and birth?
A. Christ humbled himself in his conception and birth, in that, being from all eternity the Son of God, in the bosom of the Father, he was pleased in the fullness of time to become the son of man, made of a woman of low estate, and to be born of her; with divers circumstances of more than ordinary abasement.

Q. 48. How did Christ humble himself in his life?
A. Christ humbled himself in his life, by subjecting himself to the law, which he perfectly fulfilled; and by conflicting with the indignities of the world, temptations of Satan, and infirmities in his flesh, whether common to the nature of man, or particularly accompanying that his low condition.

I love missions. By that, I mean that I love the spreading of the Gospel to the nations for the purpose of making disciples of Jesus Christ. I have friends who are overseas living in circumstances that would break most men and women I know; they have left kith and kin with only the dream of the Gospel to sustain them. They are in what look like God-forsaken lands, but they believe that the Gospel will bring their new people hope. So they labor in language, with loneliness, in danger, and among a strange people in a strange land. This world is not worthy of them. They are the sort of people who get embarrassed when you tell them how much you admire them, and they would be ashamed if they knew I had them in mind when I wrote these words. These brothers and sisters are ministers of Christ; they burn with His fire.

The greatest missionary who ever lived was not the Apostle Paul. The greatest missionary that ever lived was our Lord Jesus Christ. He left His country (heaven, where his throne is) surrounded by throngs of adoring angels, not counting His equality of God a thing to be clung to, and he emptied himself. He made himself of no reputation. He stepped out of glory and into the womb of a poor Jewish girl, took on on flesh and bone, and became the son of a blue collar laborer named Joseph.

His was more than the ordinary abasement. Jesus' mission required humiliations galore. He lived in the world he made, and his own people which he made rejected him; they cursed him with the air he gave them to breathe. Yet, he endured for the love of his bride. Jesus burned with a love for the nations, and no humiliation, torture, nor even the wrath of God would deter him from his zeal to rescue them.