Abraham, Land, Faith, and the Work of the Holy Spirit

Name and Place for Aug 12 (’14)


Again from David Wells:

As we look back, then, we can see that our knowledge of God is exactly like that of Old Testament believers in three important ways.

We know God by grace alone, through faith alone, because of Christ alone. In two important ways, though, we stand on higher ground than they did.

First, all that the Old Testament believers hoped for, which at that point was not realized, came to a final fulfillment in the person of Christ.  We see in him all that they yearned for, and we see in him all that we should be.  Second, the Holy Spirit’s work is now to point us to Christ, to join us to him, to deepen our life in him, to make him our sovereign Lord, to fill our hearts with gratitude for what he has done, and to lift up our eyes to see all that is yet to come.

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What does Jerusalem have to do with Athens? What does God’s salvation have to do with Man’s attempt to save himself?

Indeed, this is what is unique about Christian faith in contrast to all other religions and spiritualities.  Faith is not simply faith in God.  It is not about connecting to a power greater than ourselves in the world or, for that matter, in ourselves.  It is not about our private choice to be spiritual.  No, it is instead all about receiving God’s promises of redemption, about receiving them at the only place and in the only way that we can receive them.  It is about coming through Christ to receive what the Father has for us in him. And when we take hold of Christ, and of the promises made to us and received in him, we have the most important thing that God wants us to have.  ‘For all the promises of God find their Yes in him.  That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory’ (2 Cor 1:20).

The fact that Christ was God incarnate, that in him ‘the whole fullness of deity’ dwelled (Col 2:9), means it is here that we see most luminously what we cannot see elsewhere_because there has been no other incarnation.  Here we see the character of God most fully.  Here we find how all of the lines of the Old Testament teaching about God have run their course because they have converged upon Christ.  They have ended on and in him.  In him, we are face-to-face with God, albeit veiled, and in him we see personalized, and finalized, the disclosure of what holiness and love are really like.

More than that, at the cross we see the mysterious interactions between Father and Son that happened when our sin was taken into the holy being of God.  We hear the cry of dereliction, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ (Mt 27:46).  We are seeing and hearing what is in the very depths of God’s being as the demands of love encounter the demands of holiness.  Christ, in his life and…death, has given us the white-hot center of the whole disclosure God has made of himself.  To lose this center, to allow it to pass from the center of our focus, is to miss exactly what we should be seeing.

In a strange way, though, we are also walking the same kind of road along which Abraham walked.  For him, there was the staggering promise of an heir, a seed being a blessing to all nations, and the land.  Not one of these promises was withing Abraham’s grasp to bring about.  Indeed, that was the whole point.  He was simply called upon to believe not only that all of promises ave and realiry waythese promises were within God’s power, but also that God would keep his word to bring them about.

For us, now, it is the promise of a final deliverance from sin and the promise of a world cleansed of all evil that we are called to believe.  It is the promise of being forever in the presence of God in worship, joy, and service.  These, too, are far, far beyond our capacity to realize ourselves.  We are but pilgrims and aliens who journey toward this end and who, in ourselves, are incapable of bringing ourselves there by so much as a single step.

 

 

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