Christ’s Preeminence

Quick one today!  I’m reading in Colossians now and was impacted by verses 1:15-18 when Paul is describing Christ’s superiority over all things.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.  For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, wheter thrones or dominions or principalities or powers.  All things were created through Him and for Him.  And He is before all things, and in Him all things consits.  And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.

–Colossians 1:15-18

This passage reminds me of how small and insignificant we are compared to the glory and superiority of Jesus Christ.We are finite, He is infinte.  We are the created, He is the Creator.  We are all like grasshoppers to him who created the universe but yet He loved us enough to die on a cross for our sins!  What a Savior!  I love this passage and it really puts my humanity into place and really humbles me everytime I read it.  Praise God that our lives are not what it’s all about!  If my life were not subject to a higher authority I’d be completely lost.  Since Christ is king over all the earth, He is king over me and it is my joy to be His subject!  “For a day in Your courts is better is than a thousand.  I would rather be a dorrkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked” –Psalm 84:10.

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Substitution

I think I found a new favorite theologian quote.  I was reading In My Place Condemned He Stood and read the quote by John Owen which goes “If He fulfilled not justice, I must; if He underwent not wrath, I must to eternity“.  That hit me like a ton of bricks.  To me, that sentence fully embodies what Christ’s mission on earth was and the reason He died.  He didn’t die because He was guilty of a crime according to man, or because He was a filthy sinner.  Christ was innocent and completely sinless and pure.  Jesus was the only one who lived in compliance to God’s Law.  The death He died, He died for me as my substitute.  

 

Jesus willingly carried the cross for our sake

Jesus willingly carried the cross for our sake

In IMPCHS JI Packer defines the word “substitutionary” as something done in the place of someone else that they had no power in themself to accomplish.  The dictionary defines “substitute” as “a person or thing acting or serving in place of another”.  Christ wasn’t my representative, He was my substitute.  A representative is someone designated by those who need representation to act in their place.  If Christ was my representative, I must have told Him to fix my sin problem.  That couldn’t be farther from the truth.  The amazing thing about grace is that it seeks you out.  I couldn’t have done anything to seek grace, it found me.  Christ was indeed my substitute on the cross because I was in the crowd jeering and slandering Him while He was being nailed to the cross.  Christ, as my substitute, underwent wrath so that I would not have to, and He fulfilled justice so I wouldn’t have to.  Because if I had to do either of these things my future would hold nothing but condemnation.  Praise God Father, Son, and Spirit for the substitutionary death He died to ransom my soul and those in the Church!  Grace and Peace.

Your own preacher

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
–Philippians 3:12-14

The thing that worries me about Christianity is that some people don’t inquire of God themselves.  They tend to let their pastors do that for them and blindly accept everything they hear from the pulpit.  There obviously is no perfect church, no church has a completely correct interpretation of scripture because the lies and deception of sin occasionally creep in the Body.  But that is where personal inquiry comes in.  Each believer is subjected to the Sunday sermon and should take it very seriously.  But taking a sermon seriously involves more than swallowing it the second you hear it.  It involves discernment and research on your own part and time studying the Word.  

And(A) he gave the(B) apostles, the prophets, the(C) evangelists, the(D) shepherds[a] and teachers,[b] 12(E) to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for(F) building up(G) the body of Christ, 13until we all attain to(H) the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God,(I)to mature manhood,[c] to the measure of the stature of(J) the fullness of Christ, 14so that we may no longer be children,(K) tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in(L) deceitful schemes. 15Rather,(M) speaking the truth in love, we are to(N) grow up in every way into him who is(O) the head, into Christ
–Ephesians 4:11-15

I love this passage from Ephesians because it describes in full the mission and purpose of pastoral ministry.  Teaching and studying scripture is not just for the pastors, it is for the prophets, evangelists, the teachers, and the shepherds.  Teachers and shepherds may sound like they mean the same thing, mainly pastors, but the way I see it, it has a double meaning.  It surely does mean pastors and leaders, but every believer is a shepherd of his/her own soul by nature of the indwelling Holy Spirit.  Hebrews 5:14 explains this well:  

But solid food is for(A) the mature, for those who have their powers(B) of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

The writer of Hebrews is warning against apostasy in this verse and tells the Jewish believers that they need milk instead of solid food because their faith is wavering and they need to better understand the basics of the faith much like a baby needs milk in infancy.  The solid food is reserved for those who can discern good from evil in teaching to guard their souls against false doctrine and apostasy.  Therefore, we are called to be discerning for ourselves what we accept to be true and what is good or evil.  

I’m not censuring acceptance of everything pastors say, but advocating a spirit of inquiry among the Body of Christ.  The blind sheep approach to ministry is never a good idea and takes a great deal of discernment to each believer to determine what they personally believe.  As long as a believer’s individual beliefs and convictions don’t compromise the essential truth of the Gospel, then why can’t we accept others beliefs?  As long as you can say without conviction that “the Gospel… is of first importance” then, personal differences are fine.  If we claim to have figured God out all the way and say we absolutely know everything about God, then we limit Him.  Our God is infinite in all His attributes and our fallen human minds cannot fathom the characteristics of Almighty God.  

Don’t limit God by blindly accepting everything you hear from the pulpit.  Rather, prayerfully consider everything and study the Word with a spirit of discernment and love.  Allow yourself to be led by the Holy Spirit to shape your own personal convictions and beliefs that allow you to experience God to the fullest extent and to fully experience the joy of salvation in this life while we eagerly await the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ when everything will be laid bare and the truth of God proclaimed across the earth.  Grace and Peace.

 

 

Accounting

My new least favorite class of all time is Accounting.  Some people are naturally gifted to excel at Accounting, and some can learn it if they try hard enough.  Then there’s people who can’t even begin to understand how mental Accounting is and will pull their hair out before reconciling a bank statement.  I fall into the third category of people…not only do I fall into this category, I define it.  If it was a group on facebook, I created it!  Right now I’m waiting to find out my grade on the first exam of the semester in that class.  I despise that class so much that a bad grade doesn’t even affect me that much.  I have a feeling that a lot of people from my class aren’t doing so well.  I have several complaints about the teacher too, but I will keep my mouth shut so I don’t slander and gossip.  My excuse for not getting upset over a bad grade is “none of this will matter in eternity”, but I need to get at least a C- in Aaaarg!Accounting to pass and since it’s required for my major I reeeeaaallly need to pass it.  So that excuse is not helpful anymore!  All I can do now is work my behind off for the rest of the semester and trust that God will get me through and His will be done in Accounting class and if I have to take it over the summer then, oh well.  If I have any prayer requests they would be that God would help me get through this class with a passing grade (C-).  

I can’t wait til this week is over.  Going to the Baltimore Blast game on Friday which should be lots of fun!  There are several things to look forward too over the next couple of weeks.  Youth Advance is coming up really quick, in just over 2 weeks!  This is the first time going to YA for me so I’m pretty stoked!  I’ve heard that God really chooses this weekend to act in people’s lives whether they’re attending or on the staff.  That weekend is also the first weekend of my spring break!  Stevenson always has early spring breaks.  It can be good and bad having break so early, mostly bad though, because everyone else has a different break much later in the month.   Nevertheless, break will be very relaxing and a good time to unwind a little.

Philippians

I just finished reading through the book of Philippians in my quiet times.  About a month ago, I thought I wanted to start reading Isaiah again.  After making it through about the first 2 chapters, although all scripture is divinely inspired and profitable, I was not experiencing joy from reading.  Almost instantly, God directed me to Philippians.  The overarching theme of Philippians is joy.  Paul encourages the believers in Philippi to fight for joy and even tells them that his joy is full because of  them.  The joy they experience is in their salvation, that once they were not a people, but now were God’s people, and have recieved the mercy in Jesus Christ (1 Pet. 2:10).  

The salvation of mankind is a miracle that only the divine could accomplish.  Our biggest dilemma has been solved.  There was a time when man was completely cut off from God and could not experience His presence and His love.  Our sin separated us from Himbridge and we were doomed to spend eternity away from the light of the LORD.  But the good news of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection is the promise of a new life here on earth and in heaven!  “There is, therefore, no comdemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1).  We are free from the sentence of the Law and all its guilt and shame.  We have the righteousness of Christ as our robe and continue to be shaped into His likeness everyday until we see Him face to face.  This should be grounds for rejoicing!  God loved us enough to kill His own son and send Him to hell in our place.  Christ, as our substitute, bore the punishment for our sins that would have brough untold condemnation upon us. 

Paul makes it very clear that we should find great joy in our salvation.  “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice” (Phil. 4:4).  Though the toils of life threaten to steal our joy and toss us down to depression and bitterness, we have a high priest who is eager to fill us with joy, peace, love, and mercy from the well of living water that never dries.  May we all seek the joy that is in Christ Jesus and remember the love that He has for us and persevere until the final day when we see His glorious face and our pains cease and worship the Lamb Who Was Slain forever!

Here we go!

So this is me trying to start a new hobby that doesn’t involve playing video games or staring mindlessly at a computer screen.  I hope to make this a way of keeping track of thoughts and a faith building exercise for myself and others.  No official posts tonight because its way too late lol.