Being the Brightness

When Christ walked the Earth He looked normal, like any other person, but on the Mount of Transfiguration His face became so bright it shone like the sun. (Mt 17:1-2) This is evidently His natural state, what He’s like when He isn’t veiled, disguised, subdued.

For example, when Jesus appears to Paul from Heaven His face is even brighter than the sun. (Ac 26:13) And we find the same when Jesus appears to John years later (Re 1:16); Christ is so overwhelming in His mere appearance our dear brother John faints dead away. (17a)

Further, when Christ returns to reign on Earth, His very brightness destroys His enemies. (2Th 2:8) So, He’s already toning it down a good bit when He appears to the apostles and to Paul.

Jesus is the brightness of God (He 1:1-3); He Who made the universe outshines all the stars together. (Co 1:16) When Jesus walks into a room, unless He gets out His dimmer switch and tones it down, we will not only be unable to look at Him — any more than we can stare directly into the sun — in our natural state we’ll need to take cover and/or shield ourselves from His brightness in order to survive… if anything actually could shield us from it. And this is when He’s in a kind, loving, gentle mood.

What then will it be like when He’s angry? When Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, rises up from His eternal throne in a full on, indignant rage? (Je 10:10) At the end of the age, when the King of Kings shows up in all His glory and splendor (Re 19:16), full of wrath and fury (2Co 5:11) we have no idea what that will be like – nothing in all Creation can endure His undiluted, unfiltered, angry presence (Re 6:16-17): Creation itself will try desperately to flee and find no cover. (Re 20:11)

When He came the first time, Jesus Christ of Nazareth was unimpressive, not much to look at. (Is 53:2b) Born in a stable among some animals, to a poor family from a very poor community, having no formal education, He essentially came to us incognito. If He hadn’t veiled His glory like this His enemies wouldn’t have been able to act like enemies; He was pleased to give them the opportunity to express their nature before the universe, which they certainly did, for all of us to ponder. (1Th 2:16)

And I suppose it’s reasonable to expect this is why He still seems to be mostly in hiding, not typically showing Himself in unmistakable, overwhelming ways just yet (He 12:18-21): it’s evidently to let us all show who and what we are before He throws open the doors of the Heavenly Courtroom. (Ro 9:22) He will do so, some day. (Ro 2:4-6)

So, it’s wisdom to kiss the Son lest He be angry, and we perish from the way, when His wrath is kindled just a little. (Ps 2:2) Let’s not trifle with Jesus (2Co 5:11); He’s been incredibly kind and merciful to deliver us from the wrath to come (1Th 1:10), but let’s not disrespect Him or take Him for granted; He’s to be feared as well as loved. So, let’s honor and revere Him as He deserves (Jn 5:23), serving and obeying Him with fear and trembling. (Php 2:12)

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Whom Have I In Heaven?

How important would going to Heaven be if there were no Hell?

Suppose God were to offer us all our own version of Paradise, whatever we wanted, where we may do as we please any time we wish, enjoying lovers, friends and family at will, living in eternal happiness and pleasure away from God.

And suppose Heaven is only God, just each of us alone with Jehovah God forever, beholding and worshipping and serving Him. Nothing and no one else even on the radar.

If it were indeed so, who then would strive to enter God’s kingdom? (Lk 13:24) Would it be more evident who’s seeking God Himself, to know Him and walk with Him? (Jn 17:3)

When we think of Heaven, is God distant and far off, the way we perceive Him now? Are we OK with that? primarily interested in being reunited with loved ones? (Mt 10:37) Or in freedom from pain and suffering? (38)

Meanwhile, are we consumed with earthly cares? (Mk 4:18-19) Only turning to God when we’re in need? (Jn 6:26)

Many of us, by the way we’re living, appear to be like Adam and Eve after the Fall: seeking Paradise without God. (Ge 3:8)

If the earthly-minded are bound for eternal destruction (Php 3:18-19), how much more those who would focus Heaven itself on themselves?

Those pursuing their own benefit will forfeit it (Jn 12:25) and miss the ultimate Treasure. (Mt 13:44)

Can a soul who isn’t longing for God Himself be fit for the kingdom? (He 12:14) Can one who doesn’t value God above all rightly claim to know Him? (Mt 13:45-46)

Is God Himself enough for us? (Ps 72:26) Is Jehovah God our eternal portion? (Ps 119:57) If not, we don’t yet know Him as we should. (Php 3:8)

Asking God to search our hearts (Ps 139:23-24) helps us understand ourselves, to know who we are and where we are with God. (2Co 13:5) We can lie to ourselves about our love for God all day long, but He won’t fall for it. (1Co 16:22)

If we love God supremely, with a new heart created by Him and for Him (2Co 5:17), being with Him eternally is the Paradise we long for (Ps 27:4), and nothing less is acceptable. (Ps 73:25)

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The Travail of His Soul

Our response to the crucifixion of Christ reveals who we are; this becomes the ultimate litmus test, revealing the inward nature of both God and Man.

In contemplating the Cross, in particular the immense soul-crushing suffering of Christ on our behalf (Is 53:4-6), as the innocent Son of God becomes our sin (2Co 5:21), we may begin to comprehend God’s amazing character and appreciate the intensity of His passion and love. God in Christ, laying down His life for us, showing us how He loves us: this is how we perceive the love of God. (1Jn 3:16)

The Passion of the Christ

As Father God sees the travail and suffering of Jesus Christ, not merely the intense physical suffering but also His vast, mysterious spiritual agony (Mt 27:46), He is satisfied. (Is 53:11a) In God’s reaction to the Cross, we find that Christ’s payment for our sin is both necessary and sufficient for our salvation. (1Jn 2:2)

Seeing God the Father’s response to the Cross helps us fathom not only the goodness of God (in that He so graciously provides each of us a way to be reconciled with Himself – Jn 3:16), but also the severity of God (in that He requires such a complete and costly sacrifice for sinRo 11:22a) Further, we also experience both God’s justice and mercy (in that He fully accepts Christ’s sacrifice on behalf of those who believe, though none of us deserve it. – Is 53:11b) This is a priceless window into the matchless power and wisdom of God. (1Co 1:23-24)

Yet it also appears that Father God will partition the human race based on our response to His Son (Jn 3:36), and to the Cross in particular. (14-15) Our reaction to the Crucifixion will reveal everything about us that’s worth knowing (1Co 1:18); this determines our eternal destiny. (Jn 6:53) Disvaluing the Son (Ps 2:12) and His provision of salvation (He 2:2-3) deeply angers the Godhead. (He 10:29)

What will it be like on Judgment Day, as we stand before Jehovah God of the Universe and behold His nail-pierced hands? How will ignorant, ritualistic, self-centered worship pale before Him, in light of the infinite cost He paid to save us? (1Jn 3:1) How will indifference (Re 3:16), or a spirit of disobedience (Co 3:6) fare before the Cross in the presence of His incredible suffering on our behalf? (Mt 10:38)

If the Cross has not yet overwhelmed us with the love of God, with the majesty of God, if it isn’t moving us into holiness with God, and continually drawing us into gratitude and true worship (Jn 4:24), then we’re not yet rightly valuing the Cross of Christ; we’re not really getting it. (1Co 2:14) The spiritual mind is grounded in the supreme value of the Cross (Ga 2:20); this doesn’t come naturally; we should pursue God for this grace. (Ep 3:14-19)

A proper valuation of the Cross positions it uniquely within our hearts: the Cross on the one side, and all the world on the other. (1Jn 2:15-17) The crucifixion of Christ, when rightly valued and understood, tells us we no longer belong to ourselves; we’ve given up the right to go our own way; everything about us belongs to Christ now. (2Co 5:14-15) The Cross effectively crucifies the world unto us, and us unto the world. (Ga 6:14b)

If our affection and focus is still on the things of this world, if our appetites still command our attention and loyalty, then we’re still enemies of the Cross of Christ … and we aren’t yet His. (Php 3:18-19)

To glory in anything else, to depend on, exult in and/or rejoice in what is outside of and apart from God in Christ, especially in the context of the keeping of our souls (1Pe 4:19), highlighting anything we think we’ve done to contribute to our eternal salvation, devalues Christ our Savior. (Ga 6:14a) Knowing Christ, and Him crucified, is where we must begin. (1Co 2:2)

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The Father Seeketh

As Jesus teaches us about the Father, He reveals a Seeker of worshippers: God’s looking for those who worship Him in spirit and in truth (Jn 4:23-24); true worship is about relationship, loving and enjoying God Himself, not religious form or ritual.

However, this isn’t the same as indulging our emotional impulses; seducing spirits imitate the Holy Spirit and draw careless, uninformed worshippers away. If we aren’t focused on and enjoying Father God as He has revealed Himself, we’re wandering astray, off on our own path (Is 53:6), chasing idols. (1Co 12:2)

So, we should carefully heed Christ’s observation that most worship is ignorant: “Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.” (Jn 4:22) Unless we know God from a Hebraic perspective our worship is in error, misguided; Jesus and His followers worship in truth because they have a Torah-based mindset. The Jews are the conduit of God’s offer of salvation to the world; through the Tanach God has revealed Who He is, what He is like and how to have a relationship with Himself. (Lk 16:29) We can only worship in spirit and in truth from such a perspective. (Ps 119:7, Is 8:20)

Christ is telling us that if we aren’t cherishing Jehovah God of the Hebrews, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and what He has shown us about Himself in Torah, we aren’t worshipping God at all, but an idol of our own imagination. (Ro 1:21) In other words, if we aren’t meditating in the Old Testament to comprehend Divinity and how to walk with Him, if we’re getting our theology elsewhere, we’re not even in the ballpark — we’ve no idea what we’re doing.

This is the basic problem with Christian theology: in rejecting the Torah-based foundation it takes the New Testament out of context; it’s a new religion, invented well after the Apostolic era, built on the sand. (Mt 7:26-27) The Jesus offered to the world through Christianity, who abolished Torah, isn’t the Christ of Scripture (Mt 5:17-19), and the various Christianized versions of the everlasting Gospel — inasmuch as they are not grounded in Torah, are false. (2Co 11:4) It’s an elaborate counterfeit (2Co 11:13-15), and to the degree souls are inoculated with this deception the harder they are to reach.

The people of God, who are the Israel of God (Ga 6:16), understand the basics about God as revealed in Torah: Jehovah God is holy, pure light; in Him is no darkness at all. (1Jn 1:5) He is a consuming fire (He 12:29) and will trample underfoot all who err from His commandments. (Ps 119:118) It is a fearful thing to fall into His hands. (He 10:31)

Claiming to know Jehovah God without keeping His commands is lying to ourselves. (1Jn 2:4) There’s no reconciliation with God apart from obedience (Ac 5:32); God doesn’t save us to sin as we please (Ep 2:10), He writes His Laws into our hearts (He 8:10) and conforms us to the image of His Son. (Ro 8:29)

God’s followers obey Him (1Jn 3:7-8), and we do so in love — love for God and others. (10) We obey in faith, knowing God is good, faithful and true, no matter what. God works in us to live like this (Php 2:13), to serve Him with reverence and godly fear, by grace. (He 12:28)

God is seeking worshippers … who know Him as He is: Almighty Jehovah God, laying down His life to justify us (1Jn 3:16), giving us new hearts to love and pursue Him (saving us) (Ez 36:26), requiring perfect obedience of us (Mt 5:48), showing us mercy as we try imperfectly to obey (Ex 20:6) and enabling us to obey Him more and more in spirit and truth (sanctifying us). (1Co 1:30-31)

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We Have an Altar

To establish the relevance of Torah for today we must consider the sacrificial system: would offering an animal sacrifice today dishonor the sacrifice of Christ in any way? If we are thus serving the earthly tabernacle, are we necessarily forsaking the cross of Christ? (He 13:10)

A key text here describes God’s peculiar interest in His earthly temple at the end of this present age; He has John measure the temple, the altar and those who worship and serve Him there. (Re 11:1)

Though the Jerusalem temple is dormant for now, it will evidently be rebuilt and re-established in all its glory in this present age by the miraculous hand of God (2Th 2:3-4), and the sacrificial offerings will evidently resume. (He 8:4-5) So, even after the atonement of Christ is complete, a functioning Levitical priesthood is evidently not offensive to God. (He 8:4) Why would it be? After all, He designed and ordained it to help us all understand redemption (Jn 1:29): it never was designed to take away or finally atone for any personal sin. (He 10:11)

Both the earthly temple and its sacrificial system remain a precious example and shadow of heavenly things (He 8:5); they are not the heavenly reality (He 10:8), but constantly and perfectly point us toward this reality. (Re 11:19)

So, as the Apostle Paul fully participated in the Levitical sacrificial system with burnt offerings, sin offerings and peace offerings (Nu 6:13-14) without dishonoring Christ (Ac 20:26), we may each do the same if we understand these as merely shadows of heavenly realities (He 10:1), and not the ultimate realities themselves. There can be no more dishonor to Christ in a New Testament believer participating in such divine rituals with proper understanding than it was for an Old Testament believer to do so.

It is no surprise then that we find the early Jewish believers, the Twelve Apostles taught by the Master Himself, along with their faithful disciples, all zealously keeping Torah, including the sacrificial system, long after the sacrifice of Christ. (Ac 20:20) As they ministered powerfully in the Holy Spirit, they saw no inconsistency, knowing animal sacrifices never have taken away sins (He 10:4) but have always perfectly illustrated Christ’s redemptive work (1Co 5:7-8), reflecting the eternal mystery of divine atonement for sin in Christ. (He 10:14)

If it isn’t a problem for Jewish believers to participate in the sacrificial system today, if this type of worship brings no dishonor to the work of Christ and is perfectly consistent with the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit (Ro 7:22-25), then it is so for the Gentile as well (Ep 2:12-14): we may all continue to enjoy the beauty and mystery of temple worship on Earth so long as Heaven and Earth stand. (Mt 7:18)

So, while John doesn’t officially measure the court of the Gentiles (Re 11:2), God at least mentions it — that there is a special place for all of us at the altar of God, even in these last days, an open invitation to all to come, remember, understand and rejoice in the redemptive work of Christ.

There will come a day when this type of worship is no longer possible, or even helpful; when the earthly temple is no more, only a heavenly tabernacle will remain. (Re 21:22) In that day the Levitical priesthood will finally be obsolete (He 7:12), and thus the related ceremonial laws of Torah abolished (18-19), replaced by the Melchisedek priesthood of Christ (11), Who serves the saints eternally in the Heavenly temple. (He 8:1-2)

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Complete In Him

Perhaps it’s become trite Christianese, but we say there’s a God-shaped hole in each one of us, and that the world is out there constantly trying to fill it up with something else. There’s something profound here; we do well to explore for ourselves, as well as for others.

According to Scripture, in Christ we find this inner fullness, satisfaction and contentment we’re all searching for: we’re complete in Him. (Co 2:10) Everything we need spiritually and emotionally is there for the taking in Christ; He loves us unconditionally, beyond our ability to comprehend (Ep 3:19), and He gives us ultimate meaning, purpose and fulfillment. (Php 1:21)

Christ is also breathtakingly beautiful, more so than any other being in existence (Ps 45:2a); He is the ultimate in moral excellence, majesty, might and power (2b-4), as well as the embodiment of the ultimate divine mystery. (1Ti 3:16) Jesus Christ is amazing on every conceivable level. (Ep 3:8)

So, unless we’re so deeply satisfied in God that we feel no enticement from the best the world has to offer, such that it doesn’t even begin to lure us away, we still have some healing to do here. It’s helpful then to identify areas in our lives where we still feel enticed to sin, to not love God with our whole heart, soul and mind (Mt 22:37); it’s here that the God-shaped hole remains exposed and empty in us, beckoning us to fill it.

So, where are we looking? Searching for what will satisfy and complete us? The perfect friend, wife or husband? or that perfect house or career? Whether it’s more toys, more acclaim, a pain-free, trouble-free life … if we look carefully and thoughtfully, we’ll see where we’re still in need of healing, where we’ve bought in to the lie that God Himself isn’t enough, insuffieicnt, that something else besides God will balm the wound and fill our emptiness.

Yet, the One Who made us knows our wounds better than we do, and only He knows how to heal them. If He Himself bore our griefs and carried our sorrows (Is 53:4), if He’s willing to take on all our demons and heal all our sicknesses (Mt 8:16-17), He’s willing to help us with the deeper, spiritual healing we need, sanctifying us in Him. (Ti 2:14)

Truth is, our old man will never be satisfied (Pr 27:20), no matter what; its very nature is to crave more and more. Christ didn’t come to fix our old man; He has already crucified it along with Himself. (Ro 6:6) We’re to reckon ourselves dead unto sin, and alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Ro 6:11) We are to abide in the energy and life of Christ within us (Co 3:3), Who’s always feeding in the majesty of God; we’re to be living out His life in Him and with Him. (4)

So, find each worldly thing that beckons us away, every distraction turning us from the love and perfection of Christ, and hold it up to the light in Him. Sense how He Himself compares this thing with Himself, and let Him heal the lie holding onto it with Himself. (Ep 1:17) Play this out before Him, with Him, in Him, examining it with Him, and examining Him alongside it, asking Him to deliver and quicken, to open the understanding (Ep 4:17-19), and drink in the vast, immeasurable chasm between this paltry little thing that promises to charm us, and Himself. (Ep 3:17-18)

Everything outside Christ can be made to look shiny and appealing if we look at it in darkness, in isolation from Christ. But out in the blinding, stunning, majestic radiance of Jesus Christ (Re 1:14-16), there is simply no comparison; nothing outside Him can abide His unveiled presence. (Re 20:11)

Let all these cheap, earthly trinkets vaporize before Him, let them all go … and be satisfied in Him. (Php 3:8)

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A Jealous God

God illustrates how He feels about us in terms of marriage, the covenant relationship between husband and wife, holy lovers. When we’re away from Him it’s like we’re committing adultery, grieving Him and angering Him like a bride who’s sleeping around with other men. (Ja 4:4)

This tells us that God’s not in favor of us being separated from Him, not even a little bit; He wants us close to Him, at home with Him, in intimate fellowship with Himself, and He wants this all the time. To tolerate any distance at all between ourselves and God, to be OK with it, to tolerate it for even a moment, or to seek comfort, acceptance and pleasure outside of God, is a betrayal of this divine marriage relationship.

In other words, God is a jealous God (Ex 20:5); He loves each and every one of us passionately and He finds our lack of love for Him, our tendency to wander away from Him and cast our eyes and hearts upon other lovers, entirely unacceptable. It’s whoredom, prostitution, and God will destroy all who live this way, who make a life pattern of whoring from Him. (Ps 72:27)

God isn’t being selfish in loving us all like this; He is absolutely the only One Who can fully and completely satisfy us and fulfill our deepest needs; He has designed us to be satisfied in Him and no other relationship can take His place. It’s a mystery that so few are seeking Him, looking elsewhere for love.

As a bit of perspective, this Jesus Christ Who loves us (Re 1:5) is the most beautiful and perfect Being in existence (Ps 45:2); His magnificence is so powerful we have nothing to compare with it just yet. The beauty of God, of Jesus Christ, will take our breath away; it will overcome us and overwhelm us. If we aren’t prepared for it, if He should come upon us suddenly, His beauty, majesty and power would paralyze us to the point of fear and dread. (Re 1:17) We’ll actually need new bodies to fully enjoy Him as He is. (1Jn 3:2)

To gaze eternally on His beauty and perfection, feeding on the majesty and continually delighting in Him, this is what we were all made for. (Ps 27:4) We can never tire of Him, never get used to Him. Anything less than God will ultimately disappoint and ruin us, and God is not OK with that.

The take-away from this is that any tendency to think otherwise, to feel that God is disinterested in us, to sense that He’s irrationally angry with us or displeased with us, to conclude that He is boring or unappealing in any way, or that He isn’t perfectly faithful and good, loving and just … anything at all that would tempt us and draw us away from Him, it’s all lies and we should have none of it, not for a moment. (Ps 119:29)

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Do Not Condemn Me

Job accused God of hunting him down like a lion, of chasing him down for reasons that were hidden, mysterious, entirely incomprehensible to Job. (Job 10:16b) He believed God was very angry with him (17), though Job had no idea why. He asked God to not condemn him without first helping Job see his own sin. (2)

Can we relate to Job here? Do we sometimes feel God is out to get us? that He’s disappointed or angry with us for no apparent reason? or even unjust and cruel? This is the way of lying, and we should acknowledge it as such, unwilling to live in it. God simply isn’t this way: He is good, yet Satan is always denying this fundamental fact. (Jn 8:44)

If Job failed anywhere, he seems to have failed here: he experienced a spiritual oppression that claimed to be God but failed to detect the satanic impersonation and call it what it was.

God is angered by willful sin (He 10:26-27), yet slow to anger and merciful as we turn back to Him (Ps 103:8-10), but He’s never angry when we’re clueless (Ro 4:15); He’s merciful when we’re ignorant, incapable of understanding. (1Ti 1:13) If we’re trying our best and we’re still missing the mark (which is always the case), He patiently shows us where we aren’t likeminded with Him (Php 3:15) and helps us (He 4:15-16), one step at a time. (Ps 119:133)

As we struggle, our hearts may condemn us with a feeling we can never measure up no matter how hard we try, but God is greater than our heart and knows all things. (1Jn 3:20) He gave Himself for us, to redeem us and set us free. (Tit 2:14)

Satan lies to us about God to disarm us, to cripple us, to break our communion with God and steal our joy; when we don’t feel condemned before God, we have confidence and joy in Him and can serve Him mightily. (1Jn 3:21-22) This is war; if Satan can’t get us to sin willfully, then he tries to get us to believe God’s displeased with us anyway, which has a similar affect. Don’t fall for it. (Ja 4:7)

Identify any sensation that God is displeased or angry as deception unless it’s directly tied to persistent, willful, unrepentant sin: deliberate transgression of His Law, or purposeful neglect of the known will of God. (Ja 4:17) As God points out specifics, repent and seek healing from Him (Ja 5:16), continuing in the life of worship, fellowship, communion and joy in God. (Php 3:3)

God misses us every second we’re apart from Him, distanced from Him at all (2Co 13:14); there’s no good reason to ever be away. (De 13:4)

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Praise His Word

I was warned early in my spiritual journey to not worship the Bible, to not make an idol out of it (1Jn 5:21), to avoid what we might call bibliolatry.

Certainly, the idea of bowing down to a bible, a literal physical book, worshipping it or praying to it, never crossed my mind. Yet the spirit of this warning might be taken a bit further, suggesting we shouldn’t love the words of scripture too much, and this is perhaps a more interesting and relevant concept. How much should we value the words of scripture? (Ps 19:10) What does the value we place on them reveal about us and our spiritual state? (Ps 119:127)

Asked another way, can I envision God reprimanding me for loving what He says too much? for taking Him too seriously? for treasuring His words too much, or trying too hard to understand His ways and obey His commands? (Is 66:2)

In other words, what’s the practical difference between loving God and loving what He says? (1Jn 2:5) Can I be loving Him and disinterested, even the slightest bit, in what He’s saying? (Ps 119:155)

Jesus says those who love Him will keep, guard or cherish His words. (Jn 14:23) He’s telling us there’s a direct connection between how we treat His Word and how we view Him; our view of His Word reveals our heart toward Him. (24)

It’s easy to mistake a love of Bible study and teaching the Bible, even memorizing it and quoting it to others, for a love of God’s Word. Yet, if we aren’t earnestly obeying all of it as well as we can, in both letter and spirit, we aren’t loving God’s Word itself at all: we’re just loving what we can do with it, and missing the whole point. (1Ti 1:5-7) God equates loving Himself with obeying His commands. (1Jn 5:3)

Do we praise God’s Word as we’re praising Him? (Ps 56:10) Are we delighting in God’s Law so much that we’re constantly thinking about it? (Ps 119:97) consumed with wanting to understand and obey it more and more? (20)

If God actually were to equate our love for Him with how we treat the Bible (Re 3:8), how would it go? (Mt 7:24-27) Seems to me very likely that He will. (Jn 12:48)

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What Manner of Love

The Apostle John encourages us to behold the love of God, to study His love and contemplate it, to recognize what kind of love this is, to try to comprehend how immense and immeasurable it is. How profound and unfathomable is it to be called a child of God? (1Jn 3:1)

The key to perceiving God’s immense love lies in recognizing what God does, how He demonstrates His love and acts it out: He lays down His own life for us. (1Jn 3:16) He does this for us while we’re still His enemies. (Ro 5:10) This is amazing love indeed!

The Passion of the Christ

If we dare to dig a bit deeper, we contemplate the kind of death He chooses to die for us: it is perhaps the most painful and humiliating kind of death – Roman crucifixion. (Php 2:8) It’s brutal beyond comprehension, yet in itself a hideous metaphor, a window into something utterly profound.

The fierce agony in God’s physical death is symbolic of His spiritual suffering: the reality of its depth and breadth lurks in the separation imposed by our sin within the very Trinity itself. As He voluntarily accepts the penalty of our sin and fully identifies with us as sinners, as He becomes our sin, the Son is forsaken by His Father. (2Co 5:21) This causes a deep separation, an annulment of the infinite, loving communion between Father and Son. (Mt 27:46)

This may very well be the most intense kind of suffering possible: separation from God within God himself. It is certainly well beyond any possible form of physical or emotional suffering, and it’s endured by the infinitely precious Holy One, Who deserves it the least.

Yet God suffers this willingly for us — for anyone, for all who come to Him. (2Pe 3:9) The totality of God’s personal suffering is thus multiplied by His suffering personally, in person, for the multitudes. His suffering surpasses that of every other living thing, in both degree and scope, in both depth and breadth; it’s infinitely more than anyone could ever suffer, even for eternity, even if God only experienced this vast suffering for a few dreadful hours, many years ago.

We might presume this was indeed merely a one-time occurrence, buried in the distant past, such that God has now put this atrocity behind Himself and moved on, seeing it as only a distant memory.

The problem with such sentiment is that it presumes God is bound by time when He is not; He is ever present in every moment of time. Duration means nothing to Him; past, present and future are meaningless in His timeless experience. (Jn 8:58)

Anything God experiences, He experiences infinitely and forever. God never stops experiencing anything which He ever experiences. So the unthinkably painful separation between the Father and the Son is something they live with even now, to this present day; they will live with this anguish continually, and forever.

God has voluntarily entered into an eternal suffering from which they will never escape, and which they have always known. (Re 3:18) Father, Son and Holy Spirit have chosen to suffer for us like this from eternity past. It is almost like God is forever going to Hell for us Himself, giving up His eternal safety and welfare for us, taking your place, suffering in my place.

Who would you give up your eternal welfare for? Who would you burn in the flames of Hell forever for? If you would do it for anyone, would you do it for an enemy?

Doesn’t this change everything?

What has God done, my dear friend? Do I really think I have any clue how much He loves us? and whom He loves? Is it even for the worst of us?

What does my mistrust of Him look like now? In the presence of such love? What is my complaint now, my uncertainty, my selfishness, my fear … it is all a lie, darkness fleeing the Light. (Jn 1:9)

If I could keep the taste of this wonder in my spirit, let the fragrance of it dwell within and permeate all that I am, the very first glimpse of this immense, divine passion, truly, would it not begin to fill me with all the fullness of God? (Ep 3:19)

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