"Thou hast given a banner to them that fear Thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth" (Ps. 60:4).
God's Blessed Accessibility
It is so good and wonderful to put our trust in the Lord. "Whom have I in heaven but Thee, and there is none upon earth that I desire beside Thee," exclaimed the psalmist in reference to God (Ps. 73:25). Praise His Name! He is our desire also. "He hath made us accepted in the Beloved" (Eph. 1:6), and we now rejoice in Him through that Beloved, who has reconciled us to God "in the body of His flesh through death" (Rom. 5:11; Col. 1:21-22).
It is blessed to know that all who receive the reconciliation to God wrought for them by Christ, the Father receives with open arms. They can then, by faith, continually draw near to and fellowship with the God of their salvation (Heb. 10:19-22). The situations of this life cannot keep us from this Divine fellowship, as we get into Jesus, and cleave to Him with purpose of heart.
Our earnest desire is to share this great salvation and our blessed God and His precious Son with all people everywhere. They alone constitute one's sufficiency for both the life that now is and that which is to come.
Let us continue to preach the gospel, praying all the while that God will give the increase from such ministry, to the praise of His glory and the salvation and edification of people. --Sister Beverly Brunner, Mt. Zion, IL
Christ's Sufferings and Glory
By Fred O. Blakely
"Searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when It testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow" (I Pet. 1:11; cf. Lk. 24:25-26).
Our Lord, as the suffering Servant then to come, is graphically depicted, for example, in Isaiah 53. He was "smitten of God, and afflicted" on our behalf. "Surely, He hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows." "The chastisement of our peace was upon Him," and-bless His holy Name!-"with His stripes we are healed" (vv. 4-5).
In propitiating our sins, the Savior's "visage was so marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men," the Prophet continues (ch. 52:14; see also ch. 50:5-9; Ps. 109:21-27; Zech. 13:21-27). Thus, Peter's summary, in retrospect: "Those things which God had before showed by the mouth of all His Prophets, that Christ should suffer, He hath so fulfilled" (Acts 3:18). The Just suffered "for the unjust" for the gracious purpose of bringing us "to God" (I Pet. 3:18).
The Point of Emphasis. Particularly in this day of religious sensationalism, an important fact needs to be kept in mind. It is that Scripture stresses the end for which Jesus suffered, not the enormity of the physical and spiritual anguish as such that He endured. The purpose for which our Redeemer was put to grief is of primary concern to us, though, of course, we are not unmindful of the unparalleled pain in body and Spirit that He underwent for our salvation.
Those today who appear to major on the literal aspects of Gethsemane and the cross are not apostolic in their stress. It is not sympathy for His agonies that our Lord desires of us. He made that clear on the day of His crucifixion. "Weep not for Me!" He exclaimed to the women who lamented Him, "but weep for yourselves, and your children" (Lk. 23:28).
Rather, Christ desires that His sufferings affect us by turning us from our sins and the world, for which sins they were incurred, to God's righteousness (I Pet. 2:24-25). Paul sets the example at this point. "The love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that One died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, that they that live should no longer live unto themselves, but unto Him who for their sakes died and rose again" (II Cor. 5:14·15, ASV; cf. Tit. 2:14, ASV; I Pet. 2:9, ASV).
Maudlin sentimentality concerning our Lord's physical and spiritual agonies will not compensate for the transformation of heart and life which those sufferings are designed to produce in us. If His bearing our griefs and carrying our sorrows does not result in our turning from the idols of this world to live unto Him, we have misapplied the divine intent of the unutterable miseries He endured for us.
The Following Glory. We need to take particular note of "the glory" that was to follow Jesus' vicarious sufferings. "Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory?" He asked on the Emmaus Road (Lk. 24:26). Thus, it "behoved" Him "to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day." Why? What was the constraining incentive? In order "that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His Name among all nations" (vv. 46-47).
The forgiveness of sins, because of the sacrifice therefor by our Lord, is the basis for the glory, as regards our present experience of it, that was to follow His sufferings. Consequent upon that is the bestowal of the Holy Spirit, which brings the Godhead to indwell the forgiven ones. So is fulfilled the commitment indicated in the Savior's remark to the holy Father: "The glory which Thou gavest Me I have given them" who believe on Him through the apostolic testimony (Jn. 17:22-23).
The Present Participation. Christ, it will be recalled, was "received up into glory" (I Tim. 3:16), "and sat on the right hand of God" (Mk. 16:19). From that exalted position, He now wields all authority in heaven and on earth, "angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto Him" (I Pet. 3:22; cf. Col. 2:8-10).
As we are spiritually united with our dead and enthroned Lord we, in measure, now partake of His glory and share in His reign. So are we constituted "kings and priests" on the earth (Rev. 1:5-6; 5:9-10, ASV). That is because we, having been delivered from "the power of darkness," have been "translated" into the divine kingdom, and now sit with the ruling Lord in "the heavenly places" (Eph. 2:4-6; Col. 1:13).
Let us, by all means, fully receive these present benefits of Christ's sufferings for us, that we may begin to enter into His glory.
"Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately" (Lk. 12:35-36).