Tag Archive: Perfect



“If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” -Romans 10:9

Photobucket

In a previous entry (see my entry concerning Romans 1:12, “On The Correlation Between Faith and Love”), I had discussed some of the like attributes between both love and faith. Yet, when we consider our faith in the Lord, we find love to be a necessary condition for our faith in Jesus Christ. Without this love, our relationship with the Lord cannot develop and will eventually be negated by the doubt that we as believers are sometimes confronted and assaulted with, for our faith cannot be steadfast without loves inclusion in the relationship. We can obviously see this when it comes to loving our brethren, how much more should it be applicable to our relationship with the Lord, who is love? The Bible makes it perfectly clear how love and faith are the prerequisites to developing a deeper friendship with the Lord (see my entry concerning John 15:15, “On Having a Friendship With The Lord”). 1 John 4:19 states (see my entry, “On Love’s First Cause”):

“We love because He first loved us.” -1 John 4:19

Throughout my life, many times have I heard the phrase, “God is love.” From this verse in 1 John, it is more than apparent that this is truth, for it links our love with His. Though God has many attributes, including discipline, these all have their basis in love. Even concerning His wrath, He takes no pleasure in the punishment of the ungodly, but God cannot co-inhabit with evil. As Psalms 5:4 tells us, “With you the wicked cannot dwell.” In the same way two forms of matter cannot occupy the space, so too, the wicked cannot dwell with perfect holiness. This, is in fact, a contradiction, and thereby we need the justification that was manifest and offered upon Calvary. What God does take pleasure in, however, is the justification of the wicked by His Son! This is not only backed up in Scripture, but if it wasn’t true, Christ would not have came and died upon such a cruel instrument of death in the first place. Yet, the cross became His glory! If this did not appease God’s justice and have the ability to, not only change a sinners being, but also clothe the depraved with a garment of righteousness, then the Trinity would have never been separated. Yet, since it has alleviated God’s justice, we are granted the opportunity to come to the Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, in faith. By this very thing, which should be evident in our hearts, and through which springs all godly obedience, we are saved. Thereby, we next find ourselves in The Book of John, at one of the most famous verses in all of Scripture, Chapter 3, Verses 16 and 17:

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.”

Photobucket

Regarding God’s discipline, it is also based in love. Hebrews 12:7-13 likens God to a loving worldly father (indeed when looking at family proper, or rather, a proper family, we find much in the family structure symbolizes God’s nature):

“Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as His children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 8If you are not disciplined – and everyone undergoes discipline – then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. 9Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! 10They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in His holiness. 11No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. 12Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13‘Make level paths for your feet,’ so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.”

Photobucket

Notice that Verse 8 clearly expresses John 3:16, for if everyone, by love, undergoes discipline, then it follows, “that God so loved the world,” is indeed true. God’s love is absolutely perfect and in complete accordance with His nature. Before our existence in the world came to pass, He already loved us and had our justification planned out in Christ. We can come to the Lord in the first place, as sinners, due to this preexisting love. If it exists prior, on a temporal plain where we didn’t even exist yet, how much more important is this mutual love when we do exist and come to the Lord by faith? Our faith, among other things, is a recognition of that love, and by it we love God reciprocally as the Book of Deuteronomy commands:

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.” -Deuteronomy 6:5-6

Photobucket

It is this same faith and love in His Son, by which we are granted the Holy Spirit. To those who have eyes, let them understand, for due to the corruption of this world, the following may be hard to contemplate, or uncomfortable to focus on. However, it is important. As man and women become one flesh in love, likewise do we become one with the Lord by His love and sacrifice. He dwells within us, as the Spirit of Holiness, and if we are in the Spirit as well, love is perfectly manifest and we, by the Spirit, cannot do anything apart from love. If our actions are ones that don’t speak to the love of God in either word or example, it is of the self. As 1 Corinthians says:

“Therefore I tell you that no one is speaking by the Spirit of God says, ‘Jesus be cursed,’ and no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit.” -1 Corinthians 12:3

Photobucket
Though this love was manifest in perfection by the Son, in both His death and resurrection, it existed prior to Christ’s first coming and was in the Law, which according to the Gospels can be summed up with just two commandments:

“‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law? 37Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38This is the first commandment. 39And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” -Matthew 22:36-40

Photobucket

The Law, revealed by God unto Moses, shows explicitly the attributes and nature of God. Hence, we can only conclude the Law is good, just as our Lord is good. In the same way, because God is love, the Law, by necessity, follows suit. Therefore, since we know love to be such an intrinsic part of God, our faith too should resonate with love for our Lord. In addition, the love of God is boundless and this being the case, our love can always become manifest greater in our lives. Though we can love too little, we cannot love enough. This week, let us pray that the Lord may extend the boundaries of love we have set by the desires of the self and our own comfort, that we may better serve both the Lord and man. Let us pray that we may glorify Him even further than we have, through not just words, but rather by example. Amen.

Photobucket


“For to be sure, He was crucified in weakness, yet He lives by God’s Power. Likewise, we are weak in Him, yet by God’s power we will live with Him to serve you.” -2 Corinthians 13:4

Photobucket

When we read the Scriptures, we cannot help but be impressed with the lengths Christ had to descend in His humility to accomplish the goal. Though Paul offers a great compare/contrast here, there is one major difference between the weakness of Christ and the weakness of mere man. The weakness of Christ was manifest due to His perfect obedience, while the weakness of man, is often made apparent by our disobedience. The weakness of Christ, and His humility, even to the point of death, is infinitely stronger than the greatest of man’s strength! He was perfectly obedient, for Christ was well aware of His mission on earth, and that it must be completed, lest none of us become saved.
Photobucket
Yet, as we realize that Christ was man, as well as a vital part of the Trinity, we see that Christ had His struggles. Not to the point of sin and disobedience, for if this were the case our faith would be meaningless, but rather, as a man, He dealt with temptation and even fear. We do not have a Lord who sits up on high, making commands from afar, with no personal understanding of the difficulty man has in overcoming sin. Instead, we have a Lord who became man, faced the very same challenges we face, and more, was crucified, and rose again victorious.

Photobucket
Thereby, it gives us hope to realize our Lord did wage war against sin, temptation, and looked upon His crucifixion with trepidation. This is, of course, to put it mildly. We are told in Luke 22:44, that during His praying within the garden of Gethsemane that He sweat as blood. This, and His prayer, in which He prayed God would take the cup from Him if it was His will, are some heavy indications of the turmoil and fear Christ must have felt in that part of His nature that was man. Yet, could He have sweat blood?

Photobucket
This rare medical condition is known as hematidrosis, or, hematohidrosis. Rather than some kind of obscure condition, though it’s rare, history, apart from the account of Christ, is full of examples of this occurring. In fact, Leonardo da Vinci, wrote the account of a solider who sweat blood before battle. I also recall hearing an account of a young girl who living in or near London during the blitz sweat blood out of fear. The blood vessels around the sweat glands rupture, the blood seeping into the glands, and it pushes the blood and sweat to the surface. The experience is said to be rather painful, for the skin becomes extremely tender.

Photobucket
Even to the point of shedding His blood in such a fashion, Christ was obedient to the Fathers will, and though He could have stopped the crucifixion, and indeed destroyed all of Rome, He did not. To be obedient to God,  He appeared as weak, though in reality, He was strong, so that by what occurred at Calvary, we may all be saved by His strength and obedience, and that we may be clothed in it, even in our weakness, to serve God and others as Christ did. As the Father raised Christ, so too will we be raised, for like our sin was put upon Christ at Golgotha, His righteousness will be put upon even the weakest of those who come to Him in faith and persevere. To Him be all the praise and glory. Amen.
Photobucket


“Then go quickly and tell His disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.” -Matthew 28:7

Photobucket
In my previous entry (see my note concerning 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, “On a Brief Overview of The ‘Historical Christ,’ Contradiction, and Biblical Omission”), I discussed some of the paradox among the Gospels concerning the events surrounding the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It was my hypothesis that all the Gospels meshed together to form a perfect narrative. One of the assumed contradictions, has to do with Mary Magdalene and her companions encounter with an angel outside the tomb. Yet, in Luke 24:4, it says there are two angels and they speak to the women inside the tomb. However, when we read Mark 16:5, only one angel inside the tomb is recounted.

Photobucket

Many theories concerning the reconciliation of these encounters have been offered, including that there are multiple groups of women, or that Mary Magdalene ran to tell the disciples after being spoken to by the angel outside the tomb, who sat upon the stone that had been rolled away. She is at times said not to enter the tomb until later. Yet, I concluded after some prayer for illumination, that the angel on the outside spoke to them and they entered the tomb where they encountered at least one more heavenly being. As for how many angels were in the tomb, I address that in my previous entry as well.

Photobucket

The Lord led me back to this verse, and I found some more evidence suggesting that my interpretation, at least in this case, may be correct. Let us closely examine the angel’s words. In Chapter 28, Verse 6, of Matthew, the angel says:

“He (Christ) is not here; He has risen, just as He said. Come and see the place where He lay.”

To me this sounded like an invite to see the evidence which was visible within the tomb, but my cited indications advocating this truth essentially ended there. However, the beginning of Verse 7 may contain a bit more evidence. It may not be earth shattering, but adds a little extra confirmation that my interpretation concerning this event may be correct. When we look at Verse 7, it begins with the word, “then.”

Photobucket

"Angel Seated on The Stone of The Tomb," by James Tissot. watercolor, c. 1886

What this means to me is that the angel in reality did invite or command them into the tomb, in order that they may “see the place where He lay.” The term, “then,” suggests further instructions by the angel, that immediately after viewing the tomb they should embark on and hasten to tell the disciples, for Christ is said to be going ahead of them. When they finally reach the disciples, after seeing Jesus themselves, they tell them of the empty tomb. They were disbelieved, but regardless Peter and John ran to the tomb to investigate Mary’s claim. If Mary and her companions did not yet enter the tomb, as some believe, then only their encounter with the angel would have been mentioned along with their encounter with Christ. They would’ve lacked seeing the evidence with their own eyes that His body was missing.

Photobucket

"Saint Peter and Saint John Run to the Sepulchre," by James Tissot. watercolor, c. 1884-1896

As Christ had first went into Galilee ahead of the women, so too does He go ahead of us, preparing a place for us in His Father’s house, and when we get there, we will likewise see Him. Though Christ had a new glorified body, the Firstfruit (see my note concerning 1 Corinthians 15:20-23, “On The Chaos of Reason, The Firstfruit, and The Transfiguration”), we see that this body isn’t bound by physical laws, or even death. Christ was able to move throughout Israel at His own will, without traveling in the manner of a mortal man. He would simply appear. This gives us some clues into what our new bodies will be like once they are granted unto us, through faith in the Son.

Photobucket

Stained Glass Window in The Duomo, Florence, by Paolo Uccello. c. 1443

I would like to thank the Lord that when we come to Him and pray over His word, He illuminates the Scriptures beyond our mere mortal understanding. His faithfulness in answering such prayers is truly amazing. Thank you Lord for revealing the mysteries of your Word, unto the likes of me, a disobedient sinner. May this glorify You, and may You put a hedge of protection around my heart, that in your revelations I may not grow prideful, but rather give you the praise and see myself in sober judgement always. May your name be revered, blessed, and worshipped for all eternity. In Christ’s name, Amen.

Photobucket

"Resurrection of Christ and the Women at the Tomb," by Fra Angelico. fresco, c. 1440

Thank you Lord for blessing me with Terie, a fantastic “Editor-in-Chief.” 🙂


“But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23But each in his own turn: Christ the firstfruits; then, when He comes, those who belong to Him.” -1 Corinthians 15:20-23

Photobucket

"The Transfiguration", by Lodovico Carracci. oil on canvas, c. 1594

I find that my inquisitive nature is both a blessing and a curse, as will become apparent in my commentary concerning this passage of Scripture. The mind is a astonishing thing, though it can also serve evil, but it was gifted by God that we may seek out the wonderful mysteries of Him. Yet, our faith must surpass our own understanding, for God is beyond the reason of man. Rather than use this as an excuse, the inability to reason God and His ways, is perfectly reasonable. If we were able to reason God, we would need to be Him, which is impossible. Much like you can know a person, you can’t really know them to a full degree unless you are actually one in the same, which trespasses against the law of identity. Thus, we see only as a poor reflection and though we can approach God using the mind, the fullness is unattainable.

Photobucket
We can stretch our minds to have great understanding of the Lord, and such wisdom is provided by Him, but there is a line past which man cannot reason, where thought becomes defused, a chaos of reason, if you will. This is an important thing to realize, if one who is as inquisitive as I am begins to get tripped up from unanswered questions, as it used to do with me. A couple other things to realize are:

  • Just because you don’t have an answer, doesn’t mean there isn’t one.
  • Answers can be hard to come by, but most often they come not from teachers or pastors, but from the Lord Himself.
  • If the mind of man is corrupt and evil, how can we possibly fully comprehend that which is perfect and good? Perfect goodness cannot be fully comprehended.
  • If you have pondered it, chances are someone else has as well, therefore a answer, or rather partial answer, is bound to be available somewhere.
  • If you feel your questions eating at your faith, this is really a manifestation of pride. Wait on the Lord to provide an answer, if the question is that important to you, remain in prayer.

In this verse, it tells us Christ was the Firstfruit. What is meant by this? Christ at the time of His resurrection, arose with a new glorified body. One that is free of decay and will never pass away. He was the first to receive such a body, but won’t be the last. While Christ justly received His new body, we, those who belong to Him, will receive it according to His grace. If death came through the disobedience of one man, as 1 Corinthians tells us, how much more can the perfect obedience of Christ negate the disobedient act of he who cursed all man?
Photobucket
Again, His body is the first of the new bodies which we will be granted at the time of our passing from death into life. Christians will be raised again, with the blood of Christ covering us and we will be seen as righteous, through grace, and we will acquire our new bodies through the Son of Man. Our bodies will be unperishable and not be bound to the physical world and it’s laws as we now know it.

Photobucket
This certainly is a glorious truth that we eagerly await. When the Lord comes in glory we will be free of the struggle, the pain, the anguish, and the disgusting nature of sin which stains us all. What a glorious day it will be! However, here my inquisitive mind interjects and asks a question, I almost can’t help but ask, and as of now I have no answer. The question is this:

If Christ is the Firstfruit, and I have faith He is, then how could He talk with both Moses and Elijah (Matthew 17:1-9)? Were they not resurrected?

One answer seems rather obvious. Elijah never died, but was whisked off to heaven in a whirlwind accompanied by a chariot of fire and horses. For this reason I believe the two witnesses mentioned in Revelation 11:1-14 will be Enoch and Elijah, for both in the scriptures did not experience physical death, but were taken straight up into heaven in bodily form. Thus, both have yet to die, which the two witnesses will be subject to before being raised up again to life.

Photobucket

The famous Hank Hanegraaff, who is well renowned for providing biblical answers, said on his blog concerning this question:

“There is no reason to think that they (Moses and Elijah) had yet received permanent resurrected bodies.”

Truly, the Bible doesn’t say that at all. Both were beloved by God and may have been called from Abraham’s Bosom to speak to the Lord. Also, the fact that the transfiguration occurred at this very time, might indicate, that in this miraculous event, Christ was transcending the world prior, of course, to His crucifixion. However, this is all speculative, and exactly what form Moses, whom the Law was given, and Elijah, whom was the restorer of the Law, took might be a mute point when juxtaposed with the “pre-incarnate” glory manifest in Christ. Whatever the answer is, perhaps it lies in the chaos of reason and I would not even be able to grasp a full answer, and thereby the inquisitive nature is overshadowed by that of faith. My faith in the Scripture, which I have no reason to disbelieve, tells me that Christ was indeed the Firstfruit, and Moses and Elijah were in form of something different than the glorified body, for Christ had not yet became glorified, so the opportunity for the two men to receive their new bodies had not yet come to pass.

We must be wary not to include those things in the Bible that it does not say. In this case it does not say that they, Moses and Elijah, were in bodily form, so there is no reason, truly, to conclude that they are. Though, again, at least one, Elijah, could have been. Another form is possible, for we know people after their earthly death go into Hades, or Abraham’s bosom. Therefore, it follows that they still exist in some form and perhaps it was this form that, at least Moses took, on the Mount of Transfiguration. Finally, the mountain itself is unknown, but three suggestions have been made concerning its identification, though admittedly this is somewhat irrelevant. The three candidates offered by scholars and tradition are, Mount Tabor, Mount Hermon, and even Mount Sinai, the latter being the most unlikely of the three due to its location.

Photobucket

Thanks again to Terie for her insight, a true Princess of The Lord and The Queen of Grammar. 🙂


“I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.” -Revelation 1:18

Photobucket

The Book of Revelation is a proclamation of things to come, given unto the apostle John, a disclosure and edict given directly from our Lord Jesus Christ. In Chapter one, the Son of Man appears to John in glory and surrounded by seven brilliant lamp stands, the brilliance of Christ trumping them all, as suggested by John’s description. Christ tells John in verse 17 to not be afraid, following it up with the transcribed verse above.

Photobucket

"The Revelation of St. John: St John's Vision of Christ and the Seven Candlesticks," by Albrecht Durer. woodcut, c. 1497-1498

What John saw was He who is truly alive, in His glorified body, given unto Him by the Father, because of Christ’s perfect obedience and righteousness. Frequently in the scriptures, when a heavenly being, or the Lord appears to a mere man, the encounter is so awesome and sublime, that those who are blessed with such visitations, can only respond in reverence and fear, which John indeed does, collapsing at the feet of the Son. This reaction is so common in scripture I would be willing to say that such manifestations and visitations would require the heavenly beings blessing or affirmation that the person upon who the honor was bestowed, would be calmed to receive the message being offered.

Photobucket
The resurrection of Christ is such an amazing truth, I myself had a hard time grasping it. I understood it in terms of an abstract concept, but it wasn’t until I traveled further in my walk that it really hit home, so to speak. Christ not only died, as He indeed affirms in Revelation, but He rose again, being brought back to life by the Father, and in glorious victory! His victory was so great that even Hades couldn’t hold His glory, nor now can it hold our sins, or us, for by His victory we are saved and we perish to the flesh. Thus, we will perish to the world also, and on the appointed day, we will rise again to join our victor and Savior. To be victorious over His own death would be enough, how much more amazing is it then, that He was victorious over ours?

Photobucket
Though a lot of people equate hell with Hades, the two are not interchangeable. Simply, Hades is a place reserved for departed spirits and it is often compared with, or likened to, a state of sleep. Most will enter this realm and be awoken by the Lord in His appointed time. Hell, on the other hand, is a place of eternal damnation, where those who are apart from the Lord will eventually descend. This terrible place, in the temporal sense, doesn’t yet exist, in that man cannot descend into it, until the final judgement.

Photobucket

"Heaven-Earth-Hell", Located in Vank Cathedral, Iran. fresco.

Christ holds the key to both death and Hades, for he entered both, and exited them, being glorified and rising again alive! Furthermore, because He is alive, He doesn’t need to be born again through natural birth. He is already living. This more than adequately refutes those false Christ’s in the world today that profess to be our Lord. Christ not only died for our sins, but defeated them by His resurrection, so that whomever comes to the cross and bows down before it will be saved. Since Christ is victorious, let us be as well through Him, and battle against the evil that surrounds us. I pray that all those in Christ would arise strong and steadfast, adorned in the armor of God, ready to do battle with the enemy, and fight the good fight on Christ’s behalf and through Him. Amen.

Photobucket

I would like to acknowledge and thank Terie, who prior to my posting, gave me her input concerning this entry.


“For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life!” -Romans 5:10

Photobucket

There were times, and are times when I act more in accordance with an enemy of God than an ally. This is of course much to my shame, but this is essentially what sin is, battling against God and those perfect decrees He has made known through all creation. Yet, through the death of Christ on the cross there is offered reconciliation even for the likes of myself. Furthermore, if that what was accomplished through His death, how much more was accomplished by His resurrection? His death was the gateway into salvation and His resurrection the completion. It could not have been accomplished unless these two things were in complete unity. As 1 Corinthians 15:17 states:

“If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.”

Thus, when we come to Christ in faith, we must believe upon Him, His death, and His resurrection. For in His death we die along with our sins, but in His life we arise as a new creation. 2 Corinthians 5:17 (see my note on, “On The Old Overtaken by What is New”) tells us:

“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, and the new has come!”

Photobucket

Though we are made anew, this doesn’t necessarily mean we won’t contest with those things we allied to when we were enemies of God. In fact, those sins which enslaved our lives are more apt to be the ones we most struggle with in Christ. Yet, let us never tire of doing good, for despite our flaws, we are being renewed day by day (see my note concerning 2 Corinthians 4:16, “On Not Losing Heart Due to Sin”). This can be an esoteric truth to understand when one comes to Christ and it may serve the enemy to trip up those who are new to the faith. I once had a discourse with a messenger from Satan regarding this very thing.

Photobucket

I had found myself losing battles but striving to do what was right in sight of the Lord. The enemy came to me saying, “Are you sure this is what you want? In me is true contentment, lack of struggle and gratification.” I am not proud to recount that it was a temptation for me. Did I really want to fight against the flesh, isn’t it much easier to go the way of sin, than of righteousness? I found myself warring against myself and I prayed for some sort of guidance and delivery from the argument. This temptation was apparently very effective, for I almost buckled under the weight of it. I kept warring back and forth between ease of gratification and the difficulty of conviction.

Photobucket
Then the Lord began to answer me and the dark messenger. I found myself responding to the enemy, that even if I fail, even to the point of eternal condemnation, I shall rejoice that Christ has been victorious. By responding as such, the provocation subsided and I was astounded at the thought, to be honest, for like anyone I fear the fires of hell, but my fear was trumped by my love and praise. I began to realize, with the help of verses like the aforementioned one in Romans, that despite losing battles, the Lord is the one who won the war on our behalf. I consistently see new Christians struggle with this very thing, the associations of conviction and condemnation, but as this verse suggests, it’s not about the skirmishes that we may lose, but who we ally ourselves to. I began to see from a different point of view, that in conviction God doesn’t condemn, but rather uses it to produce better soldiers in His army.

Photobucket

Illustration for John Milton's, "Paradise Lost," by Gustave Dore, c. 1866

The Lord is putting us through a Holy boot camp, that we may serve Him to the best of our ability, and that our abilities may keep improving and developing. If one who has given their life to Christ, still finds themselves asking if they truly belong to Him, they must transcend the worlds idea of worth through action. One should seek inside themselves what side they really are fighting for and against, without taking their lost battles into account, for as I mentioned before, Christ has already won the war. Ally yourself on he side of victory and push beyond what you may conceive as easy, for as the Lord showed me at the end of my discourse with the darkness, effort is put in serving the sinful nature, just as it is in surpassing it. May you surpass it and receive the blessings of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Photobucket

"Christ Blessing," by Simone Martini. tempera on panel, c. 1317


“‘He Himself bore our sins’ in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; ‘by His wounds you have been healed.'” -1 Peter 2:24

Photobucket

"Christ on The Cross With Three Angels," by Albrecht Durer. sketch, c. 1525

Though I try not to look at Scripture in a purely aesthetic context, I am a nerd and there are times, or rather verses, where I feel almost overcome by its beauty. This verse is no different. Eons before the arrival of Shakespeare, the apostle Peter recounts something worthy of the “Hamlet” author, by the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 53:5). As Shakespeare liked to utilize compare/contrast and antithesis in his poems and plays, Peter and Isaiah do similarly with the phrases, “die to sins and live for righteousness,” and, “by His wounds you have been healed.”

Photobucket

The antithesis represented by the words, “die,” “live,” “wounds,” and, “healed,” emphasize what Christ endured on our behalf, and for what cause. Christ was mocked, flogged, crowned with thorns, and crucified, in order that, by Him, we may be crowned by His glory and receive the gift of eternal life, returning the glory to its rightful place. In our salvation, we praise and glorify our savior, who bore incredible suffering for the likes of sinful, grotesque and undeserving man, that by His love, we may dwell with Him inside eternity. No praise seems worthy, for His glory far outweighs what we can offer. Yet, we strive to perfect our praise, love, and adoration in our hearts, spirits, minds and actions, for this is what God desires, commands and more than deserves. May our praises upon the alter of humility be a pleasant aroma unto our Lord and God whose glory and grace far outweigh what we could ever hope to offer.

Photobucket

"Deposition," by Albrecht Durer. engraving, c. 1512


“To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.” -2 Corinthians 12:7

Photobucket

"The Conversion of Saul," by Gustave Dore. engraving, c. 1865

Let us not compare our Christian walk or spiritual gifts with anyone else in the Body of Christ. Romans 12:6-8 makes it abundantly clear that we differ in gifts and those godly manifestations expressed in the body. These are from God and are granted to us by His grace. This is important to realize, for even these blessed gifts by the Lord can be used by our sinful nature to feed our pride.

The enemy loves to turn our work for the Lord into something sinful. It’s not to say the work of the Lord in and of itself is sinful, of course not, but rather that we ourselves may sin in our efforts to be in complete obedience with our Lord. We may have the gift of prophecy and we may serve, teach, encourage, give, lead, or show mercy. Yet, a hidden danger might lie in wait, for instead of acknowledging the source, we may use these gifts to feed our pride. This verse suggests that Paul himself was tempted with this as he followed obediently to complete God’s great works.

Photobucket

"Apostle Paul," by Rembrandt. oil on canvas, c. 1657

Yet, God in His wisdom knew that this would hinder the great work He was doing through and with Paul. This partnership would have been spoiled if the apostle would have become conceited. So, there was given to Paul a thorn in his flesh, “a messenger of Satan,” to torment him. What this “thorn” actually was has been debated for some time. These range from a physical malformation or defect of some sort, to a sin that tormented Paul. Regardless of what it was, we know that this “thorn” kept Paul grounded with the Lord, and he eventually found that “thorn” to be a blessing, for without it Christ’s power wouldn’t be able to “rest on him” to the degree it did.

Photobucket

Outside Christ, who was perfect, even the most amazing men of God in the scriptures had grievous faults, which should give us some hope. It certainly does me. Moses for example was a murderer, had anger issues, was a stutterer, and was disobedient to the Lord. Though Moses was disciplined for this by not being able to enter the promised land, God used this faulty man to do an amazing work, as He can use us, as faulty as we are, to do great works as well.

Photobucket

"Moses Striking The Egyptian (detail)," Amsterdam Hagadah, c. 1695

When we come to the Lord in faith, He is not beyond bringing hardship, weakness, persecutions, “thorns,” and difficulties in our lives so that we may not loose sight of Him. If we are too prideful in our walk with the Lord and in the gifts He bestows in us, we should not be too shocked when, in His sovereignty, brings about a hardship to “ground” us.

Although I don’t like speaking for God, I do feel comfortable saying that God doesn’t want to encourage sin in your life. So if you haven’t been granted gifts to a fullness yet, perhaps if they were given unto you, the glory would go to the self and not God.

Let us pray for the understanding at only comes from the Spirit, that we may be instructed on how to avoid becoming to proud in our obedience and the gifts God pours into us. Let us pray that we will give credit where it’s due, that is, to the source of the gifts we are presented and indeed all things. Let us forever strive not to pervert that which is Holy or shift the glory of God onto the self. May He be forever praised. Amen.

Photobucket


“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” -Psalm 90:12

"The Persistence of Memory," by Salvador Dali. oil on canvas, c. 1931

Regarded as one of the oldest, if not the oldest psalm in the Bible, verse 12 of the poem provides us a glimpse of how it is we should approach the inevitable shortness of life. Many nowadays are tempted to live life, as if they are going to die tomorrow, and thus, “eat, drink, and be merry.”

"Les Romains de la Décadence," by Thomas Couture, c. 1847

Indeed, in today’s pop culture this seems to be the exact way people live, to party it up, as it were, and experience all carnal desires to a large degree before the day of their departure arrives. Yet, this is not how our impending death should be approached.

Rather, states the psalm, let us take this knowledge, and have it spur us on to acquiring wisdom while on earth, rather than gratifying the senses. With this in our minds let us not forsake opportunity and squander our days living stagnate, but move forward with wisdom, and sharing wisdom, that the Lord’s work may be done here on earth and that we may partake in His glory at the appointed time. In addition, let us realize where it is that wisdom comes from, the Lord Himself. Thus, may we develop a relationship with Him, in faith, that this godly and perfect wisdom may be bestowed upon us for His divine purpose.

%d bloggers like this: