The Names of Christ: Christ, the Alpha and Omega (Part 10 of 10)

Jesus is the first and the last in the pardon of sin. That there is forgiveness with God, forgiveness of the greatest sins, is one of the sweetest refrains in the music of the gospel. “Who is a God like unto you, who pardons iniquity, and passes by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage. He retains not His anger forever, because He delights in mercy.” But Jesus is the sum and substance of this pardon. It comes alone through His wounded body, His pierced and bleeding heart. There is no forgiveness of sin, no guilt-cleansing, no conscience purifying, but through the atoning blood of Jesus. “Without the shedding of blood there is no remission.” “The blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sin.” To this blood, this blood alone, let me direct your eye, my sin-distressed, guilt-burdened reader. I ask not how many, nor hove deep a dye, your sins are. Enough that you feel, and are sensible of them; that you deplore, and mourn over them. I meet you with the blood, the blood that can wash your sin-tainted, guilt-oppressed soul whiter than snow. And how, you ask, am I to avail myself of this full and free pardon of sin? I answer, simply and only by believing in Jesus. Listen to the proof: “For God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and to satisfy God’s anger against us. We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed his blood, sacrificing his life for us.”

Oh, what precious words are these! “What!” you respond, “is there pardon for me?- is there forgiveness for one so vile as I?” Yes; through the blood of Jesus, there is a complete, a free, a present pardon- a pardon which no unworthiness shall ever cancel, which no ingratitude shall ever revoke. Believing this truth- experiencing the blood of atonement upon the conscience- how sincere and earnest will be your desire never to presume upon this irrevocable, ineffaceable forgiveness of a sin-hating, yet a sin-forgiving God, but will only, and all the more, draw from it your strongest obligation to deny all ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live godly, righteously, and soberly in this evil world.”

Christ is also the first and the last of our justification before God. As in our pardon, so in our justification, nothing of our own finds a place. Not a shred of our own doings is woven in the web of our righteousness. How luminously the apostle argues this truth! “For no one can ever be made right in God’s sight by doing what his law commands. For the more we know God’s law, the clearer it becomes that we aren’t obeying it. But now God has shown us a different way of being right in his sight—not by obeying the law but by the way promised in the Scriptures long ago. We are made right in God’s sight when we trust in Jesus Christ to take away our sins. And we all can be saved in this same way, no matter who we are or what we have done.” Thus clear is it that, if we are ever justified, it must be by a righteousness entirely foreign to ourselves- by the righteousness of another.

And who is He? Even Him who is entitled “The Lord our Righteousness.” Of this justifying, this acquitting righteousness, this righteousness imputed to us who believe, and without a work of our own, Christ is the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last. It is all in His divine and full obedience to every precept of the law in our stead; so that every believing soul is “accepted in the Beloved,” and is “complete in Him.” The crowning of this great truth, is the declaration of the apostle- “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” Behold the method of our justification!

To read the rest of the chapter Christ, the Alpha and Omega, click here.

 

The Names of Christ: Christ, our Righteousness (Part 9 of 10)

This title of our Lord at once points to His essential dignity as God. The construction is remarkable. The prophet does not designate Him as the righteous One, using the concrete, but righteousness itself, using the abstract term. Thus God is said not to be loving, but love- the abstract form in both texts is thus employed to show that these perfections- righteousness and love- are essentially and absolutely God’s. Would it not be a fraudulent invasion of the divine dignity, a robbing God of His honor, to have denominated a mere creature, were he the holiest and purest even of the species, abstract and essential righteousness? Could this title be grounded in anything but essential Deity? A mere creature may be righteous through the possession of a righteousness imputed, a righteousness imparted, a righteousness given.

Every act of human obedience must necessarily partake of the moral taint of the being by whom it is offered. Just as under the law the touch of the leper rendered ceremonially unclean the person or the thing he came in contact with, so everything to which sinful man puts his hand must partake of the taint of his sinful and corrupt nature. As water cannot rise above its level, so no nation can rise above its religion, no individual can rise above his nature, and no act can rise above its motive. The moral leprosy sin, of which all by nature are partakers, inoculates with its virus, and taints with its malaria all our religious doings- thus corrupting and neutralizing every attempt of man to render obedience and honor to the commandments and precepts of God’s holy law. It follows from this that, seeing the sinner can only be saved on the footing of a law obeyed in every enactment, kept in every precept, magnified and honored in the dignity of its character and in the holiness of its nature, it must be by another obedience and infinitely beyond his own. This train of thought conducts us to the truth we seek to establish.

The divine dignity and personal holiness of Christ provided all the moral fitness and qualification which the case demanded. As the sinner could only stand with divine acceptance in a Divine righteousness, the “Lord our righteousness” fully met the case. Hence the strong language of God’s Word. “The Righteousness of God, which is by faith of Jesus Christ, unto all and upon all those who believe.” And again, “He has made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the Righteousness of God in Him.” Magnificent truth! precious announcement! The believing sinner stands before God in the righteousness of God Himself! He is as righteous- not essentially so, but legally– as God is righteous. If he is “made the righteousness of God in Christ,” this must emphatically be so. And since no other righteousness could justify him before God, this must unquestionably be so. To what dignity does this righteousness raise the believer here, and to what super-angelic glory will it raise him hereafter? In your righteousness shall they be exalted.”

To read the rest of the chapter Christ, our Righteousness, click here.

The Names of Christ: Christ, the Resurrection and the Life (Part 8 of 10)

But Christ, by His own resurrection, has ESTABLISHED HIS DIVINE AND EXCLUSIVE CLAIM TO THE TITLE He now wears as the “Resurrection and the Life.” This fact in His history and this doctrine of our faith constitutes the central principle of both. It is a self-evident truth that had He not risen from the dead, all His pretensions to Messiahship, all His claims to be the Son of God and the Savior of sinners, must have fallen to the ground; and in that fall must have perished the salvation of the Church and the hope of the sinner. But no such event awaited Christ, and no such catastrophe awaits man. He arose from the dead exactly as types foreshadowed, and as prophets predicted, as He Himself promised, and as evangelists and apostles testified and preached, and He was thus “declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.” Were it our present object to meet the cavil of the infidel, rather than confirm the faith and comfort the heart of the Christian, nothing were easier than to demonstrate, on Scripture grounds, the truth of Christ’s resurrection; thus establishing His claim to the sublime title these pages assign to Him. The facts in His case were indisputable.

He was brought before the tribunal of Pilate, He was tried, was sentenced to death, was crucified, was taken down from the cross, was laid in a new sepulcher, a stone was rolled against the door, it was sealed, and a watch set over it of Roman soldiers, to whom it was certain death had they slept. The victory of His foes seemed now certain and complete. But vain were their precautions, and still more vain their momentary triumph! A messenger from heaven, “his clothing white as snow, and his countenance like lightning,” came and rolled back the stone from the door, and the Son of God rose triumphant! And when the holy women came in the gray twilight of morning to the tomb, lo! they were challenged by the inquiry, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, He has risen. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.” And then, to meet all credulity and to set at rest all doubt, He appeared in His risen body among the twelve apostles as they were assembled in an upper room, exhibited the scars of His wounds, and with His own lips assured those who it was even He Himself, and said unto them, “Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day; and that repentance should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things.” And thus instructed and confirmed, the apostles went forth preaching everywhere, “and with great power gave witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus and great grace was upon them all.”

To read the rest of the chapter Christ, the Resurrection and the Life, click here.

The Names of Christ: Christ, a Man of Sorrows (Part 7 of 10)

In the first place, He was a Man of Sorrows, because, as man, He was born under the curse. Sorrow was an consequence of the curse. God pronounced a curse upon the earth, and upon man in his passage through it, when His divine and holy law was broken. How awful its terms- “Cursed is the ground for your sake; in sorrow shall you eat of it all the days of your life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to you; and you shall eat the herb of the field; in the sweat of your face shall you eat bread, until you return unto the ground.” Now our blessed Lord, in order to remove the curse, must first bear it; and in bearing it He became emphatically; and in a sense and to a degree as none other could, a “Man of sorrows.” Behold, my soul, in the sorrow of the Savior, the pledge of the utter annihilation of your curse! His soul-grief, His bodily suffering, absolved you from it all. It fell upon Him in all its unmitigated, unmeasured force. There was no condoning the curse, no soothing or sweetening of its harshness and bitterness; but, standing in the place of His Church, He became a “curse for it;” and so was He a “Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.”

In this light interpret all the dispensations of your God which look so threatening, feel so crushing, and utter their pealing voice as from the “secret place of thunder.” Christ has entirely rolled the curse from off His people, turning it into a blessing. Thus, those very trials and sorrows, which, in the case of the ungodly, are “thorns and thistles” of the curse, in the experience of God’s saints are blossoms, and flowers, and fruit, the hallowed result of sorrow’s discipline, in which no curse is found. What real, what pure blessings, then, must our Father’s corrections be, since from them Christ has extracted every particle of the curse, every drop of wrath, every frown of anger, every spark of hell! But, oh my soul, forget not what an element of severity must this have been in the soul-sorrow of your Lord! What an embittering ingredient in that cup of woe which trembled in His hand, yet which, for the love He bears you, He drank to the very lees, exclaiming, “Your will be done!”

As the sin-bearer of His Church, Christ was a “Man of sorrows.” Thus, the sufferings of our Lord were vicarious, the sorrow of His soul sin-atoning. No other rational solution of His sufferings and grief can be found than this. The prophecy from where this title of our Lord is taken- a prophecy of the sufferings of Christ- is so real and so life-like that it might well be taken for a chapter of one of the evangelists- completely vindicates the vicarious nature of our Lord’s sorrow. In this part of God’s word, the sin-bearing, sin-atoning character of His death is presented with a clearness so distinct, the seeing eye cannot possibly mistake, and with a force so commanding the candid mind cannot possibly resist. How simple, solemn, and irresistible the statement of the evangelical prophet!- “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray- we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” “It pleased the Lord to bruise Him: He has put Him to grief: when You shall make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.” Such is the Old Testament key to the New Testament history of our Lord’s sorrow.

To read the rest of the chapter Christ, the Man of Sorrows, click here.

The Names of Christ: Christ, the Prince of Peace (Part 6 of 10)

As the “Prince of Peace,” our Lord Jesus PROCURES PEACE BETWEEN GOD AND MAN. The problem of effecting reconciliation could only be solved by the Prince of Peace. It had baffled the ingenuity of a synod of angels, composed of every celestial being in heaven. The thought of reconciling God and man, in a way that would uphold the rectitude and honor of the Divine government, would never have crossed a finite being’s mind. It was the conception of one mind alone- the mind of the Eternal Lord God- and was lodged, eternally lodged, in that Mind myriads of ages before an angel was created. There are no second, no after-thoughts, of the Divine mind.

If, then, God is eternal, never having had a beginning, then the thought of saving man by the Incarnation of Deity was as eternal as the Mind that conceived it. Thus, our Lord Jesus was the Peace-procurer of His Church. He was the true Levi of whom Jehovah said, “My covenant was with Him of life and peace.” None but He could have effected it. There was disruption and separation, dissension and discord, a terrible schism between the Creator and His creatures. The Prince of Peace alone had dignity, authority, and power to effect peace. As none but the express Image of God could restore the divine image to man’s destroyed soul; as none but Essential Life could breathe life into man’s dead soul; as none but perfect Holiness could restore the reign of holiness in man’s sinful soul; as none but the Son of God could make us sons of God, and none but the Beloved of God could make us beloved to God, so none but the “Prince of Peace” could bring us into a covenant of peace with Jehovah. Thus the Lord Jesus became our Peace-procurer.

In love and mercy He undertook what He alone could undertake. Oh, it was a great, a marvellous work, the work of restoring unity and friendship between God and man! Hence the twofold nature of our Lord. Mediating between the two extremes of being, the Infinite and the finite, the Divine and the human, He must partake of the nature of both. Effecting peace on the part of God, He must be God; effecting reconciliation on the part of man, He must be man. Hence the glorious fact, which at this season of Advent we celebrate- “God manifest in the flesh.” Let your faith, my readers, embrace this truth afresh. It will strengthen your confidence in the reality of the peace the Prince of Peace has secured for you. It was no mere resemblance of peace He procured, no unauthorized compact into which He entered; no reconciliation which either party in the agreement could not honorably accept- Oh, no! Because He was God, He was essentially fitted to mediate for God; and because He was Man, He was in all respects fitted to negotiate for man; and thus God has accepted His mediation, and so “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself.”

To read the rest of the chapter Christ, the Prince of Peace, click here.

 

The Names of Christ: Emmanuel or God With Us (Part 1 of 10)

This post will be the first of 10 in a series entitled Emmanuel: The Titles of Christ. These posts will be based on the 10 chapters of the book with the same title. Stay tuned for the remaining 9 posts as I will try to post at least one or two a week. May you be strengthened and encoraged!

In the first place, Emmanuel is GOD WITH US. We here ascend infinitely above the human. It is not merely an angel that is with us- a man that is with us; it is Deity who is with us, none less than Jehovah Himself, Israel’s covenant God and Keeper. We cannot do with anything short of Deity. If Deity does not come to our aid, if Deity does not stoop to our low estate, if Deity does not save us, we are lost to all eternity. When we fell in the first Adam, our humanity lost all its original righteousness and strength. If Deity did not interpose on our behalf, if God did not Himself embark in our rescue, the inevitable consequence must have been the shades of endless death. But a plan of deliverance had been conceived from everlasting. God, in the infinite counsels of His own mind, resolved upon the salvation of His eternally chosen and loved people. He saw that there was no eye to pity them, and no arm to save them. He resolved upon our salvation, embarked in it, accomplished it; and eternity, as it rolls upon its axis, will magnify His name, and show forth His praise.

And, O beloved! what an assuring and comforting truth is this- God with us! Now we feel equal to every service, prepared for every trial, armed for every assault. Deity is our shield, Deity is our arm, Deity is our Father and our Friend. We deal with the Divine. Deity has died for us, has atoned for us, has saved us, and will bring us safely to the realms of bliss. “This God is our God, forever and ever, and will be our Father even unto death.” Oh, see, my reader, that your hope is built upon nothing more and upon nothing less than Christ. The “Rock of Ages” must be your only foundation if saved. If you stand not in the “righteousness of God” when you appear in His presence, He will say to you, “How did you get in here, not having on the wedding garment?” Speechless will then be the tongue now so fluent and ingenious in its many and vain excuses, or so loud and earnest in its heartless responses in religious worship. I solemnly repeat that, if you have no better righteousness to appear before God in than your religious duties, or rites, or doings, when summoned to His dread tribunal, it had been better for you never to have been born. Oh, cast from you the leprous garment you so long and so fondly have clutched, as though it were a white and beautiful robe fit to appear in the presence of the holy, holy, holy Lord God; and accept in penitence and faith the “righteousness of God, which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all, and upon all those who believe.” Deadly doings are deadly things, sinking you as a nether millstone down to the shades of the bottomless pit. But one believing look at the crucified Savior is life and immortality, raising you above the curse, above your sins, out of the horrible pit and the miry clay of your present condemnation, into the sun-lit regions of forgiveness, peace, and hope.

God with its! O glorious name!
Let it shine in endless fame;
God and man in Christ unite;
mysterious depths and height!
God with us! amazing love
Brought Him from His courts above
Now, you saints, His grace admire,
Swell the song with holy fire.
God with us! but tainted not
With the first transgressor’s blot;
Yet He did our sins sustain,
Bear the guilt, the curse, the shame.
God with its! O wondrous grace!
May we see Him face to face,
That we may EMMANUEL sing,
As we ought, our God and King.

To read the full chapter of Christ, Emmanuel or God With Us from the book Emmanuel, follow this link.