Friday, February 23, 2007

The Measure of a Man

Isaiah 40:31
But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

What is the measure of man? In order to understand this question which is perhaps as old as humanity itself we must look to the source of all wisdom, the revealed Word of God. In His manifold wisdom the Lord saw fit to create man in His own image and to give man responsibility in the earth. From this brief passage in Genesis 1:26 we can easily infer that man's responsibility before God is in fact ordained by God; Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, [a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground".

Now it comes as no real surprise to a man to find himself desirous of something to do. That something may be as fruitful and productive as being a messenger of the Gospel of grace or as perverse and wicked as opposing the Creator of the Universe in defiance of His holy will, but in the final analysis we find nothing in between, for man either serves the One True Living God or he serves something else, usually himself.

Clearly not all men serve the Lord, nonetheless all men at all times are commanded to place their faith squarely in Him and none other. This is perhaps the crux of the oft debated Calvinist argument in favor of election of the saints. Clearly election is taught in Scripture and I have nothing to say against this doctrine, except to say that free will is also taught in Scripture thus both concepts are simultaneously equally true and valid. How God in His unsearchable wisdom balances these seemingly irreconcilable teachings is, at least to me, a mystery. Yet are we Christians not, by definition, supernaturalists? Indeed, we are. And since this is our case may we who claim to believe in the availability of eternal salvation for the sinner, the mystery of the invisible church, the virgin birth, the resurrection of the dead, and the Triune eternal Godhead also believe the simple teaching of Holy Writ that declares our Sovereign God has both a perfect will (not willing that any should perish, but all should come to repentance) and a permissive will (equally clear from Scripture is that all will not repent and many will perish).

The working out of God's Sovereign plan of salvation of His elect is a mystery, even to those of us who see through a glass darkly, yet by faith we proclaim together in one voice; "Praise Him forevermore!", and preach His everlasting Gospel to every creature under heaven (Revelation 14:6).

I want to take a moment to point out the extreme importance of recognizing that the Gospel is described as an everlasting Gospel in Revelation 14:6. This same concept is echoed by the inspired Apostle Paul in Galations 3:8 when he explains And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, "In thee shall all nations be blessed." We see the essential gospel (the promise of a future hope in God) was preached by God Himself unto faithful Abraham! As Christians we often tend to think of the Gospel message as dating from the time of Christ's incarnation, yet within the revealed Word of God we find instead that the true Gospel dates from time immemorial, for before there was a universe or any created thing there was the "I AM" who in and of Himself, utterly self-contained and without need or want, entered into covenant with Himself thereby engendering the Gospel of and by Himself: Jesus said unto them, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am". (John 8:58)

We see the evidence of the eternal nature and existence of the Gospel evidenced throughout the Holy Writ. For example in Galatians 1:11 Paul unequivocally states the gospel is not after man: "But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man." If it is "not after (the fashion of) man" then that leaves only God as the source of the Gospel since He is the Creator of all things; of course this would seem obvious but I think this point is often overlooked, and if it weren't it seems unlikely that the Apostle Paul would have made this point with such care and precision. Furthermore in Romans 16:25-26 we read "Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:". The evidence is conclusive, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is an everlasting gospel whose beginning is tied directly and inextricably to the eternal Godhead Who instituted covenant with Himself prior to any act of creation in order that men would be saved through grace by faith in Him alone.

Friend, this is a hard teaching but if it doesn't lend you comfort, nothing this side of heaven ever will. For you see, in His omniscience and perfect love the absolutely Sovereign God Almighty knew that you would inherit a problem from your earthly father, Adam. That problem is called "sin" and it entered the world through man's rebellion and unrepentant heart. The Creator of the Universe who made you and I in His very image knew full well that we would be hopeless sinners without excuse and without escape from hell's flames, except that He intervene directly. He, the omiscient, omnipotent and eternal God has always known this.

Sin didn't surprise God. He wasn't caught off guard by man's predeliction for wickedness and his evil mistreating of his fellow man. But God, the Perfect One, Just and Righteous and ABSOLUTELY HOLY entered into eternal covenant with Himself that God the Father would forgive the sins of men who placed their faith in God the Son who would set aside the glory of heaven, and humble Himself to enter our sin sick world in order to endure the shame and agony of the Cross for the joy that was set before Him, and that God the Holy Spirit would bear witness to this faithful and true teaching, worthy of all acceptance, and draw men unto salvation that you and I through grace by faith alone in the one and only unique Savior, Jesus Christ, might be reconciled to the One True Living God through His atoning sacrifice. Jesus paid our price. God's Holy Justice against the sins of those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ was satisfied on the cross. His grace is sufficient to not only cover, but absolutely obliterate our sin.

Friend, as you read this does the Holy Spirit not bear witness to the truth herein? Does your heart not burn within you as the Spirit of God convicts you with the absolute and undeniable truth of His Word? You have a friend in Jesus Christ, our great Lord who is not unfamiliar with our weaknesses and infirmities, being tested in every way as we are, yet without sin. That's a claim we cannot make, you and I, for we are guilty sinners before God. We have not and cannot live a life good enough, worthy enough, or righteous enough to be freed from our sin through our good works, therefore we're guilty before God and condemned to eternal punishment except for the pardon of the cross!

Oh friend, if I could ask you now, will you not heed the call of the Spirit unto the Lord Jesus Christ? Will you not abandon your false and prideful sense of autonomy and humble yourself before Him? Will you not bow your knee and submit to Him as your Lord and Savior? For in the Bible in 1 Timothy 1:15 we read "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners;". Praise be to God that you and I qualify for the pardon He freely offers! Won't you trust Him today? Won't you call upon His name? We read in Romans 10:13; "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." Are you a "whosoever"? Are you a sinner? Yes, as indeed are all men, and as such you qualify to call upon His precious name and be saved.

What is the measure of a man? Man is measured against the absolute perfection and holiness of God Almighty, the Creator and Judge of the universe. By this measure we are without hope, but through the blood of the Lamb of God, Christ Jesus we find our true measure. For through the blood we are measured as co-heirs with Christ and as adopted children of the One True Living God. This is the measure of a man; his submission to Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. Friend, how do you measure up today?