"Thou art fairer than the children of men."
The entire person of Jesus is but as one gem, and his life is all along but one impression of the seal. He is altogether complete; not only in his several parts, but as a gracious all-glorious whole. His character is not a mass of fair colours mixed confusedly, nor a heap of precious stones laid carelessly one upon another; he is a picture of beauty and a breastplate of glory. In him, all the "things of good repute" are in their proper places, and assist in adorning each other. Not one feature in his glorious person attracts attention at the expense of others; but he is perfectly and altogether lovely.
Oh, Jesus! thy power, thy grace, thy justice, thy tenderness, thy truth, thy majesty, and thine immutability make up such a man, or rather such a God-man, as neither heaven nor earth hath seen elsewhere. Thy infancy, thy eternity, thy sufferings, thy triumphs, thy death, and thine immortality, are all woven in one gorgeous tapestry, without seam or rent. Thou art music without discord; thou art many, and yet not divided; thou art all things, and yet not diverse. As all the colours blend into one resplendent rainbow, so all the glories of heaven and earth meet in thee, and unite so wondrously, that there is none like thee in all things; nay, if all the virtues of the most excellent were bound in one bundle, they could not rival thee, thou mirror of all perfection. Thou hast been anointed with the holy oil of myrrh and cassia, which thy God hath reserved for thee alone; and as for thy fragrance, it is as the holy perfume, the like of which none other can ever mingle, even with the art of the apothecary; each spice is fragrant, but the compound is divine.
"Oh, sacred symmetry! oh, rare connection
Of many perfects, to make one perfection!
Oh, heavenly music, where all parts do meet
In one sweet strain, to make one perfect sweet!"
"The foundation of God standeth sure."
2 Timothy 2:19
The foundation upon which our faith rests is this, that "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them." The great fact on which genuine faith relies is, that "the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us," and that "Christ also hath suffered for sin, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God"; "Who himself bare our sins in his own body on the tree"; "For the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and by his stripes we are healed." In one word, the great pillar of the Christian's hope is substitution. The vicarious sacrifice of Christ for the guilty, Christ being made sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in him, Christ offering up a true and proper expiatory and substitutionary sacrifice in the room, place, and stead of as many as the Father gave him, who are known to God by name, and are recognized in their own hearts by their trusting in Jesus--this is the cardinal fact of the gospel. If this foundation were removed, what could we do? But it standeth firm as the throne of God. We know it; we rest on it; we rejoice in it; and our delight is to hold it, to meditate upon it, and to proclaim it, while we desire to be actuated and moved by gratitude for it in every part of our life and conversation. In these days a direct attack is made upon the doctrine of the atonement. Men cannot bear substitution. They gnash their teeth at the thought of the Lamb of God bearing the sin of man. But we, who know by experience the preciousness of this truth, will proclaim it in defiance of them confidently and unceasingly. We will neither dilute it nor change it, nor fritter it away in any shape or fashion. It shall still be Christ, a positive substitute, bearing human guilt and suffering in the stead of men. We cannot, dare not, give it up, for it is our life, and despite every controversy we feel that "Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure."
Today's reading: Esther 3-5, Acts 5:22-42 (NIV)View today's reading on Bible Gateway
Today's Old Testament reading: Esther 3-5
Haman's Plot to Destroy the Jews
1 After these events, King Xerxes honored Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, elevating him and giving him a seat of honor higher than that of all the other nobles. 2 All the royal officials at the king's gate knelt down and paid honor to Haman, for the king had commanded this concerning him. But Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor.
3 Then the royal officials at the king's gate asked Mordecai, "Why do you disobey the king's command?" 4 Day after day they spoke to him but he refused to comply. Therefore they told Haman about it to see whether Mordecai's behavior would be tolerated, for he had told them he was a Jew....
Today's New Testament reading: Acts 5:22-4222 But on arriving at the jail, the officers did not find them there. So they went back and reported, 23 "We found the jail securely locked, with the guards standing at the doors; but when we opened them, we found no one inside." 24 On hearing this report, the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests were at a loss, wondering what this might lead to.
25 Then someone came and said, "Look! The men you put in jail are standing in the temple courts teaching the people." 26 At that, the captain went with his officers and brought the apostles. They did not use force, because they feared that the people would stone them....
[Ărĭstär'chus] - the best ruler. A Macedonian of Thessalonica and one of Paul's travel-companions. This convert from Judaism is spoken of as Paul's "fellow-prisoner," implying imprisonment for the Gospel's sake (Acts 19:29; 20:4; 27:2; Col. 4:10; Philem. 24).
THE LIGHT SHINING IN THE DARKNESS
Against the gray clouds and darkness across the human race stands one distinctive life-a brilliant, even blinding light. Jesus the Messiah, called many things, is also known uniquely as “him who had no sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21 ). Because the glory of God shines directly from him, and because it is undiminished even by his true human nature, Jesus is the answer to the problem of sin. Darkness doesn’t stand a chance against the light. And considering he who was called “the light of the world” and “the light that shines in the darkness,” we have always before us a brilliantly illuminated life, the way human life was supposed to be.
But we also have to take the time to understand the seriousness of our plight without God.
This is how serious our plight is: the father who received back the prodigal son said, “He was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found” It is one of Jesus’ most beloved stories, the story of a son who snatched his inheritance and squandered it in reckless living. When he found himself eating with the pigs, he wondered if maybe his father would hire him as a manual laborer, and trudged toward home. There he found a waiting father.
“Was dead, is alive.”
How else could we describe living life utterly separated from God? “You were dead in your transgressions and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). That makes the forgiveness and love that comes from God in Christ all the more remarkable. God “made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions” (Ephesians 2:5). Jesus himself said that those who believe in him have “crossed over from death to life” (John 5:24).
Christian faith holds that this brokenness of our humanity has affected every faculty we possess. The heart is easily given to deceit (Jeremiah 17:9). The mind is darkened (Ephesians 4:18). Even the conscience, that moral watchdog that is supposed to warn us when we stray, is corrupted (Titus 1:5 ). Does this mean that we are incapable of thinking good and doing good? No. Does it mean that these faculties we possess are as corrupt as they can possibly be? No. Does it mean that every person sins in every way that is possible to sin? Obviously not.
Not everyone commits murder. Or adultery. Or theft. But we would make a major spiritual mistake to take refuge in the fact that there’s always someone else we can point to who seems to have been guilty of graver moral errors than ourselves.
Hitler’s deeds make none of us angels by comparison.
There are two things true of every human being we share the planet with today: we all belong to a race created in the image of God, and we have all become broken, twisted, and corrupted. It is not that we are sinners because we commit sins. This brokenness is so universal and so constant that the only way of understanding it is that we sin because we are sinners.
Are all sins the same? Of course not. Murder is a distinctly worse offense than shoplifting. The commonality among us is not in the sameness of what we do wrong, it is the fact that we all share the same status of belonging to a race of fallen, broken creatures. Jesus as easily forgives a criminal who seeks his mercy as he does someone who cheats on his taxes or cheats on his spouse, or who tends toward a bit of a gossip–is we have faith in him.
No wonder Jesus called himself “the light of the world.”
Excerpt from Putting the Pieces Back Together: How Real Life and Real Faith Connect. Free DVD available now.