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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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Prophetic Doctrine

John Calvin:

“As far as sacred Scripture is concerned, however much froward men try to gnaw at it, nevertheless it clearly is crammed with thoughts that could not be humanly conceived. Let each of the prophets be looked into: none will be found who does not far exceed human measure. Consequently, those for whom prophetic doctrine is tasteless ought to be thought of as lacking taste buds.” (Institutes of the Christian Religion)

The Humanity of Jesus

The Bible and Apollinarianism:

Apollinarianism was a heresy taught by Apollinaris the Younger in Syria about 361 A.D. He taught that the Logos of God took the place of the rational human soul of Jesus and that the body of Christ was a glorified form of human nature. Jesus was a man, but He did not have a human mind. Apollinaris taught that the two natures of Christ could not coexist within one person and so he lessened the human nature of Christ.

Apollinarianism was condemned by the Second General Council at Constantinople in 381 A.D. This heresy denies the true and complete humanity of Jesus which jeopardizes the value of the atonement. Jesus has to be both God and man to atone. He must be God to offer a holy sacrifice and He must be a man to die for men.

The Bible teaches:

“Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.” (Hebrews 2:17 ESV)

“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 ESV)

“For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh. . . .” (Romans 8:3 ESV)

“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law. . . .” (Galatians 4:4 ESV)

Faking It!

Confucius once said, “I have yet to meet a man as fond of high moral conduct as he is of outward appearances.” I believe that Confucius was right about this. It is a part of our fallen nature; I suppose we all tend to care too much about appearances. After all, there are certain ways we want people to see and think about us. If we find ourselves unable or unwilling to actually live up to this way of life – we try to fake it.

Jesus pointed out to us an example of this lifestyle: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” (Matthew 23:25-28 ESV)

How do we avoid this obvious hypocrisy in our own lives? Jesus proclaimed our need for a new birth: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3 ESV) “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV) In believing and obeying the gospel of Jesus Christ we know that we abide in Christ and Christ in us. (1 John 3:24 ESV) We can obey because He has given us His Spirit.

Now we can begin to put away all those sins and lies which have made us hypocrites in the past. Paul writes, “But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth… you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” (Colossians 3:7-10 ESV) We are being renewed in the spirit of our minds and created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:22-24 ESV) Paul declares, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20 ESV)

Based on my understanding of the Scriptures, I do not expect to ever live a life of perfect obedience and holiness. Yet, the Bible plainly teaches that: “now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.” (Romans 6:22 ESV) I know by faith in Jesus Christ that the inner change was applied to me at the moment of my salvation. I know also that the outer change in my daily life, sanctification, will continue throughout my life. The pursuit of holiness is a process wherein I am a coworker with the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit works in and with me, but I too am responsible for casting off the sin and hypocrisy in my life.

We cannot, however, sanctify ourselves any more than we can justify ourselves. The Bible speaks of God as the one who brings growth or sanctification to the believer’s life. Paul writes, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:12-13 ESV) In these two verses some important issues are addressed. You and I are commanded to pursue the things of God, but these verses also say that any obedience we have is ultimately from God. He gives us the will and enables us to work for His good pleasure. Yes, God is the source of my sanctification and yours, but we are responsible for cooperating in this growth.

I am sad to say that I am often embarrassed by some failure of mine to live up to the high calling of Jesus Christ. I too, have the tendency to want to pretend that I have grown more in Christ than I actually have. I am tempted to put on the mask of the hypocrite when I am more worried about what people think than I am concerned about my relationship with God. Please do not allow yourself to be caught up in this web of self-deceit.

If you find yourself tempted to “fake it” rather than repent of your disobedience, your own failed righteousness, and your willingness to pretend that you are something more than you actually are – run to the cross and to Christ. Only there do we find righteousness and ultimately, who we really are.

My hope is built on nothing less   

Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.

I dare not trust the sweetest frame,

But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name.

When He shall come with trumpet sound,

Oh may I then in Him be found.

Dressed in His righteousness alone,

Faultless to stand before the throne.

(From: “MY HOPE IS BUILT” by Edward Mote)

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