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Thursday, November 10, 2016
Sola Christus – Part One – one of the Five Solas of the Reformed Faith - 10 November 2016, Anno Domini
5 Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: 6 For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: 7 In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them. 8 But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. 9 Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; 10 And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: 11 Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all. (Col 3:5-11)
A friend of mine has a small sign on the wall of his study that reads, He who has many things, and has Christ, has no more than he who has Christ alone. How true. What would the believer take in exchange for the benefits of Christ in his life and for his salvation? I think no true believer would exchange Christ for all the wealth and kingdoms of this world, though the world does tempt the marginal believers to make that exchange.
To Abraham, God made the Promise of a Seed that would redeem the elect. Those Spiritual descendants of Abraham (those only who believed the Promise regardless of blood line) were accounted saved by the Grace of the Lord through faith in Him. Many did not believe the Promise but insisted on salvation by works – a doctrine that condemns and never saves. But Abraham, by faith, looked forward with eagerness to the fulfillment of that promise. 8 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. 9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: 10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. 11 Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable. 13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. (Heb 11:8-13)
God tested the faith of Abraham by demanding that his only beloved son (one and only legitimate son of Sarah) be offered as a sacrifice (for sin) on Mt. Moriah (the same upon which our Lord was sacrificed almost 2,000 years later). At the foot of the mountain, Isaac asked of his father a heart-breaking question: Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? (Gen 22:7) This question must have pained his father beyond measure; however, Abraham’s answer echoes throughout all time and eternity: My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering. (Gen 22:8) Disregard the deliberate dissimulation of modern Bible versions such as the NIV, ESV, and NASB in rewording and redirecting this phrase away from the Christ to whom it directly points. God will NOT provide a Lamb for the burnt offering – God will provide HIMSELF to be the Lamb for a burnt offering. Abraham uttered the remark in UNKNOWING faith, because he knew that God is always righteous and would somehow fulfill his promise to multiply the seed of Abraham through Isaac. This was an explicit confirmation of the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ as Redeemer.
But the promise of a Savior was made even before that Promise made to Abraham. In fact, it was made to our primitive parents, Adam and Eve, way back in the Garden at Eden. It was not only a spoken Promise, but a demonstrated one as well. 15 And I will put enmity between thee (the Serpent, Satan) and the woman, and between thy seed (those who belong to Satan) and her seed (those who belong to Christ); it (the Lord Jesus Christ) shall bruise (crush the power of Satan) thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel (as occurred when the heel of Christ was nailed to the Cross at Calvary). (Gen 3:15) That is a veiled reference to the victorious Christ. It could not have been made more comprehensible to the primitive understanding of the two in the Garden. This was the spoken word of Promise to Adam and Eve. But what of the physical demonstration of that Promise?
You will recall that until the sin of Adam and Eve, there was no death in Paradise; and afterward, the Tree of Life and Paradise were themselves removed to Heaven. (see Revelations 2:7 and 22:2). So there was but one occasion of death in God’s Paradise; but what was it? 21 Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them. (Gen 3:21) Please observe the only death in Eden was of an innocent animal which God sorrowfully killed to cover the sin of Adam and Eve. God loved everything that He had made, and it undoubtedly pained the Lord to take the life of an innocent animal. Uppermost in the Mind of God was what the death of that innocent animal represented in the omniscient Mind of God! It represented His dearly beloved and only Begotten Son which had been decreed to be sacrificed as a Lamb without blemish in the Eternity that was before Creation. As the Baptist proclaimed from Jordan Waters, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. (John 1:29) 18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, 21 Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God. (1 Peter 1:18-21)
Like our primitive parents in Eden, we need a covering for our sins (nakedness before God). That covering is the blood-bought Robe of Righteousness that Christ offers to all whom He calls and chooses as the Elect of God.
Man is a land-borne creature. His mind is weak and his resolutions are never sure. He cannot see with his physical eyes the glorious prospects of Heaven. His imagination of the Divine is clouded with the mundane desires and offerings of a physical Universe. But Christ came to offer sight to the blind and light to those who have sat in darkness so that their spiritual eyes can grasp a glimpse of that beauty and magnificent grandeur that lies just beyond the frontiers of man’s imagination. 2 The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined. (Isaiah 9:1-2)
Down through the shadows and whispers of time, God has provided an increasingly vivid understanding of that one and only Personage who would suffer the humiliation and pains of a tortuous death in our stead. When one considers all of these revelations God provided the ancient prophets, it is all the more astounding that the greater part of Israel failed to see that promise fulfilled in Christ. But, when the few who received and accepted that Promise from Abraham down to the first Christmas, it seems more a matter of intentional obstinence than of fair reason and spiritual insight that others could not see. The miracles of preservation to Israel in Goshen of old Egypt boggles the mind; however, memory is apparently short. The miracle of the First Passover should have instilled an unfailing faith from that moment until now – but the people forgot God only days, or weeks, later. God even provided great the Pillar of Cloud by Day, and Fire by Night - which was Christ the Lord – to guide and protect His people both in the Wilderness and in the Red Sea Crossing. When they complained, He gave them a miraculous provision of Manna daily.
We see that God placed beautiful pictures throughout the Old Testament of His Beloved Son. The Song of Solomon is an exquisite representation of Christ and His Church. The Book of Ruth – the eighth Book of the Bible (eight signifies new beginnings such as the eight souls saved from the Deluge) – is strategically positioned between the day when the Law of God reigned supreme in Israel (the time of the Judges), and the advent of human rule through Israel’s Kings (1 Samuel). This book, too, is a glorious painting of the love Christ has for His people and Church – even those who have not a drop of Hebrew blood (Ruth – the Moabitess). In fact, the recorded lineage of our Lord Jesus Christ came down from Boaz and Ruth (Matt 1:5), and through Rahab (the Canaanite), the prostitute of Jericho (ibid). Ruth is a Garden of Grace betwixt the severity of the Law and the excesses of the Kings of Israel.
The Wilderness Tabernacle, in its furniture and fixtures, represented the attributes of our Lord. It possessed a resplendent interior décor, but a very plain and unattractive appearance without having goat hair as a covering. The beauty of Christ was never in His physical appearance as the Son of Man, but the magnificent beauty concealed within a heart that was larger than the Universe itself.
Well, Reader, to even touch on the glorious Person of Christ Alone would be a daunting task for any book; however, impossible in a mere devotion! But I will give a further brief glimpse into this subject in Part Two of this Devotion tomorrow.