Gracious Overflow

Eternal life thus consists in sharing in the gracious overflow of the Father’s eternal love for the Son in the Spirit. We share in this gracious overflow as “children” (John 1:12) who have been grafted into God’s beloved Son as branches into the true vine (15:1-11; 17:26).

—Andreas J. Köstenberger and Scott R. Swain, Father, Son and Spirit: The Trinity and John’s Gospel, 187

Missions and Worship

The church’s mission not only flows from and through the love of the triune God; it also flows to the love of the triune God.  The Father, after all, seeks worshippers (John 4:23).  The Father sent the Son to make His great and holy name known to His people (1:18; 17:6).  The church’s mission therefore ultimately consists in reaping a worldwide harvest of worshippers (4:35-38) gathered by the Son, through the Spirit, to serve and adore the ‘Holy Father’ (17:11; cf. Isa. 6:3; 66:19-21; Rev. 22:3-4).  One day the church’s mission will be consummated in trinitarian worship (Rev. 22:1-5).  This means that, even now, as the church engages in the worship of the Holy Trinity, she engages not simply in the means of her mission, but in the very end of her mission: the gloria Dei.

—Andreas J. Köstenberger and Scott R. Swain, Father, Son and Spirit: The Trinity and John’s Gospel, 163-64

Pandemic Wisdom

God’s message to the world during times like this always is, “You’re not really in charge. You may think you are going to get ready for the next one, but you never will. The world isn’t under your control; it’s under My control. You need to turn to Me. You are not sufficient to run your own life. You need My wisdom and you need My help.”

—Tim Keller

 

The Plan

It’s not, I think, unwarranted to ponder the fellowship of the Trinity, and the Father and the Son conceiving (no coercion whatsoever) a plan whereby the Father consults with the Son of His willingness, and the Son consults with the Father of His intention, and a most magnificent agreement is reached: that the Son will, after the universe is created and has fallen, and after God has shown everything He wants to show about His holy self through 2000 years of Jewish history, then the Son would enter and die. That was the plan.

Again, Paul says in 2 Timothy 1:9: “God called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of His own purpose and grace, which He gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began.” So, before the ages of time began, the plan was for the revelation of the glory of the grace of God specifically through Christ Jesus.

SEPTEMBER 22, 2012

—John Piper, “Why Did God Create the World? John Piper” (sermon: September 22, 2012)  https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/why-did-god-create-the-world

Dangerous!

In many respects I would find an unresurrected Jesus easier to accept. Easter makes Him dangerous. Because of Easter I have to listen to His extravagant claims and can no longer pick and choose from His sayings. Moreover, Easter means He must be loose out there somewhere. Like the disciples, I never know where Jesus might turn up, how He might speak to me, what He might ask of me. As Frederick Buechner says, Easter means “we can never nail Him down, not even if the nails we use are real and the thing we nail Him to is a cross.”

—Philip Yancey, The Jesus I Never Knew, pp. 225

A Weekly Festival

Many active Christians would say that Christmas is their chief festival. Closer to the mark, but still missing it, are those who would say that Easter Day is the principal feast of the church. What is amiss about such assessments? Simply this: No observance that occurs only once a year can connote the continuing work of God in daily life. Therefore the chief festival occurs weekly, and from it all else is derived, including those annual festivities that may be more visible and certainly are the more popular cultural occasions. . . . It has become a maxim of late that “every Sunday is a little Easter.’” But it would be more accurate to say that “every Easter is a great Sunday.”

—Laurence Stookey, Calendar: Christ’s Time for the Church, 44,54

Resurrection Certainties

What has God done in raising Jesus from the dead? Here are a few biblical answers.

Because of the resurrection of Jesus, death will never have any dominion over Him again. (Romans 6:9; Acts 13:34)

Because of the resurrection, Jesus intercedes for us in heaven before God. (Romans 8:34)

Jesus’ resurrection was the beginning and guarantee of our resurrection. (1 Corinthians 15:20; 2 Corinthians 4:14)

We were raised with Jesus so that our true life is hidden now in Him. (Ephesians 2:6; Colossians 3:1-4)

Because of the resurrection of Jesus, we are born again to a living hope. (1 Peter 1:3)

Because of the resurrection of Jesus, we now enjoy His personal fellowship with us always. (Matthew 28:20)

Because of the resurrection of Jesus, He has a name above every name and every knee will bow to Him. (Philippians 2:9-10)

The resurrection of Jesus means that Jesus kept His word. (Matthew 17:22)

The resurrection of Jesus fulfilled the Scriptures and the promises of God. (1 Corinthians 15:4; Acts 13:32-33)

Because Jesus was raised, He has received the promise of the Spirit and poured out the Spirit on us. (Acts 2:33)

Because Jesus is raised, He can still heal the way He did on earth. (Acts 4:10)

Because of the resurrection, He gives repentance and forgiveness of sins. (Acts 5:31)

Because Jesus was raised, He is now appointed by God to judge the living and the dead. (Acts 10:42; Acts 17:31)

God secured our justification by raising Jesus from the dead. (Romans 4:25)

The risen Christ takes the place for us that the law once had so that we can bear fruit for God. (Romans 7:4)

Because of Jesus’ resurrection, He now has the glory for which we were made. Our ultimate destiny is to see Him as He is. (1 Peter 1:21; John 17:5, 24)

—John Piper

God of My Exodus

O GOD OF MY EXODUS,
Great was the joy of Israel’s sons
when Egypt died upon the shore,
Far greater the joy
when the Redeemer’s foe lay crushed in the dust.
Jesus strides forth as the victor,
conqueror of death, hell, and all opposing might;
He bursts the bands of death,
tramples the powers of darkness down,
and lives for ever.

He, my gracious surety,
apprehended for payment of my debt,
comes forth from the prison house of the grave
free, and triumphant over sin, Satan, and death.
Show me herein the proof that His vicarious offering is accepted,
that the claims of justice are satisfied,
that the devil’s sceptre is shivered,
that his wrongful throne is levelled.
Give me the assurance that in Christ I died, in Him I rose,
in His life I live, in His victory I triumph,
in His ascension I shall be glorified.

Adorable Redeemer,
Thou who wast lifted up upon a cross
art ascended to highest heaven.
Thou, who as man of sorrows wast crowned with thorns,
art now as Lord of life wreathed with glory.
Once, no shame more deep than Thine,
no agony more bitter, no death more cruel.
Now, no exaltation more high,
no life more glorious, no Advocate more effective.
Thou art in the triumph car leading captive Thine enemies behind Thee.
What more could be done than Thou hast done!
Thy death is my life, Thy resurrection my peace,
Thy ascension my hope, Thy prayers my comfort.

—from The Valley of Vision

Eastertide: The Great Fifty Days

“Easter” is the period of eight Sundays [until Pentecost], comprising fifty days, often called as a unit “the Great Fifty Days.” For the explosive force of the resurrection of the Lord is too vast to be contained within a celebration of one day.

The recovery of Easter as “the Great Fifty Days” of the year can move the church along toward a fuller understanding of what the resurrection of its Lord implies. Easter is not one closing day at the end of a lengthy period of Lent. Easter is one extended rejoicing in the resurrection that more than exceeds in length the Lenten disciplines. The first day of the season, Easter Day, is the opening of a protracted celebration, even as the Resurrection is itself the opening to a vast new reality.

“The First Sunday After Easter” implies Easier is over, having lasted only one day. But “the Second Sunday of Easter” (for the same date) indicates that Easter is an extended season, whose essential character is shared by all of its parts. The careful use of “Easter Day” rather than “Easter” for the opening occasion further presses this point.

Once Easter is seen as a season, congregations can work at distinctive worship practices throughout the Great Fifty Days in order to tie the weeks together more clearly in the hearts of worshipers. For example, on Sundays Two through Seven, one stanza of a hymn used on Easter Day might be sung as an acclamation (“Christ the Lord Is Risen Today” is one possibility).

—Laurence Stookey, Calendar: Christ’s Time for the Church, 54, 56-7

He Lives!

Rise heart; thy Lord is risen. Sing His praise
      Without delays,
Who takes thee by the hand, that thou likewise
      With Him mayst rise:
That, as His death calcined thee to dust,
His life may make thee gold, and much more just.

Awake, my lute, and struggle for thy part
      With all thy art.
The cross taught all wood to resound His name,
      Who bore the same.
His stretched sinews taught all strings, what key
Is best to celebrate this most high day.

Consort both heart and lute, and twist a song
      Pleasant and long:
Or since all music is but three parts vied
      And multiplied;
O let Thy blessed Spirit bear a part,
And make up our defects with His sweet art.

—George Herbert , “Easter” (1633)

Holy Saturday

Today a grave holds Him
who holds creation in the palm of His hand.
A stone covers Him
who covers with glory the heavens.
Life is asleep and hell trembles,
and Adam is freed from his chains.
Glory to Your saving work,
by which You have done all things!
You have given us eternal rest,
Your holy resurrection from the dead.

— from a matins hymn for Holy Saturday (Orthodox Church)

It Is Finished (3)

What a grand utterance! Now are we safe, for salvation is complete. The debt was now, to the last farthing, all discharged. The atonement and propitiation were made once and for all and forever, by the one offering made in Jesus’ body on the Tree. There was the cup; Hell was in it; the Savior drank it—not a sip and then a pause—not a draught and then a ceasing. He drained it till there is not a dreg left for any of His people. The great ten-thronged whip of the Law was worn out upon His back. There is no lash left with which to smite one for whom Jesus died. The great cannonade of God’s justice has exhausted all its ammunition—there is nothing left to be hurled against a child of God. Sheathed is thy sword, O Justice! Silenced is thy thunder, O Law! There remains nothing now of all the griefs and pains and agonies which chosen sinners ought to have suffered for their sins, for Christ has endured all for His own beloved (1Th 1:4) and IT IS FINISHED.

—Charles Spurgeon

It Is Finished (2)

TETELESTAI conveys an ocean of meaning in a drop of language, a mere drop. It would need all the other words that ever were spoken, or ever can be spoken, to explain this one word. It is altogether immeasurable. It is high; I cannot attain to it. It is deep; I cannot fathom it. IT IS FINISHED is the most charming note in all of Calvary’s music. The fire has passed upon the Lamb. He has borne the whole of the wrath that was due to His people. This is the royal dish of the feast of love.

—Charles Spurgeon

It Is Finished

The general religion of mankind is “DO,” but the religion of a true Christian is “DONE.” IT IS FINISHED is the believer’s conquering word. INCARNATE LOVE has fulfilled His self-imposed task. Jesus, as the Substitute for sinners, was condemned to die, and He died that He might finish the work of our redemption. Your sins have sustained their death-blow, the robe of your righteousness has received its last thread (cf 1Cor 1:30, 2Cor 5:21). It is done, complete, perfect. It needs no addition; it can NEVER suffer any diminution. Oh, Christian, do lay hold of this precious thought.

—Charles Spurgeon

Come

Come to Calvary’s holy mountain,
Sinners ruin’d by the fall;
Here a pure and healing fountain
Flows to you, to me, to all,
In a full, perpetual tide,
Open’d when our Saviour died.

Come in poverty and meanness,
Come defiled, without, within;
From infection and uncleanness,
From the leprosy of sin,
Wash your robes and make them white:
Ye shall walk with God in light.

Come, in sorrow and contrition,
Wounded, impotent, and blind;
Here the guilty free remission,
Here the troubled peace may find;
Health this fountain will restore,
He that drinks shall thirst no more:—

He that drinks shall live for ever;
‘Tis a soul-renewing flood:
God is faithful; —God will never
Break his covenant in blood,
Sign’d when our Redeemer died,
Seal’d when He was glorified.

—James Montgomery, Sacred Poems and Hymns, 1854

The Supper

The Lord’s Supper should not “be viewed as a funeral for poor Jesus rather than the wedding supper of the victorious Lamb.”

—Laurence Hull Stookey, Eucharist: Christ’s Feast with the Church, 153

Since Christ is the host of the meal, and very much present in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, the focus and central dynamic of the event are in the present, not the past. We are not, then, reliving or reenacting a past event—neither the event of the cross nor the event of the Last Supper. We are, rather, allowing a past event to shape and inform the present.

—Gordon T. Smith, A Holy Meal: The Lord’s Supper in the Life of the Church, 40

The Lord’s Supper is the meal of the church, the body of Christ, and our basis for gathering around this table is not our blood affiliation but the fact that we have been called together by Christ. This meal, in the language of the hymn “The Church’s One Foundation,” is the holy food of the faith community:

Elect from every nation,
Yet one o’er all the earth;
Her charter of salvation,
One Lord, one faith, one birth;
One holy Name she blesses,
Partakes one holy food,
And to one hope she presses,
With every grace endued.

—Gordon T. Smith, A Holy Meal: The Lord’s Supper in the Life of the Church, 54

Lavish Giving

And while He was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as He was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over His head. There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they scolded her. But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to Me.  (Mark 14:3-6)

There are many mausoleums that crumble to decay. But this monument to Jesus fills the whole world still with its fragrance.

—S. Lewis Johnson

The Lord raises for all time a memorial to her who had done her best to honor Him.

—author unknown

A great deal has been made through the years over the question of apostolic succession by certain churches, but I would rather be in Mary’s succession than in the succession of the whole crowd of the apostles on this occasion.

—author unknown

Undoubtedly Mary’s act of total commitment and love meant so much to Jesus because it was itself so Christlike—it was suggestive of what He what about to do: give Himself completely for the sins of the world, to allow himself (as the song puts it) to be “broken and spilled out” in an act of total selflessness.

Mary’s act also is a faint reflection of what the Father Himself was about to do: to give the very best He had—His only Son—for the salvation of the world (John 3:16). The Father is the author of lavish giving: “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which He lavished upon us” (Ephesians 1:7-8).

—RM