Julian Freeman

Freed to live through the death of another.

Tag: Trinity (page 2 of 4)

Jesus

Jesus Christ, the Son of God

No one figure in all of human history has captured the minds, hearts, and imaginations of humanity like Jesus of Nazareth. The art, the literature, the science, the worship, the sermons, the churches and the movements that have been inspired by this one man are literally innumerable.

In his own day he was a ‘trending topic’ as everyone asked, ‘Who is this man?’ and everyone had their theory of choice (Mark 6.14-16). Crowds flocked to him. From prostitutes to temple rulers, and children to rich men, from scribes to Syrophoenician women — everyone had to hear him, and had to know about him.

And it’s no wonder. He is the image of the invisible God (Col 1.15). He is the radiance of the glory of God (Heb 1.3). He is all that God wanted to say to the world (John 1.1, 18). He is the greatest revelation of God that this universe has ever known, will ever know, or could ever know (Heb 1.1-2). Whatever a man may behold of the glory of God is seen in the face of this man, Jesus Christ (2 Cor 4.4-6).

After studying Jesus in the Bible, I have to say that, while I know him better now than ever before, I feel as though ‘tip of the iceberg’ and ‘scratching the surface’ don’t even cut it when it comes to describing how well I know him.

I remember one time I got together with a friend I hadn’t seen in years. The conversation quickly turned to Jesus and how we had been growing in our love for him. What was fascinating, however, was that I had been learning of late about the deity of Christ (he is God!) while he had been learning of the humanity of Christ (he is man!). Both topics are mysterious and it will take eternity to uncover the glories of the dynamics of tension present in the person of my Lord, but what stuck out to me is the truth that no matter what aspect of the nature, the beauty, the glory of Jesus you are considering, the more you get to know him, the more you will inevitably come to love him.

As I’ve read the Bible over and over, I can’t help but see more clearly than ever that the New Testament presents Jesus as God (I’ve written about that here and here). But as I’ve read the Gospels lately, I’ve been overwhelmingly impressed again by his humanity: his weakness, tiredness, hunger, and thirst. Both his deity and his humanity magnify the mystery of his faithfulness to become obedient to the Father, even to the point of death, all for the sake of unfaithful rebels like me.

To know him, the one who loved me and gave himself for me, is to love him. I pray that God would increase my love for my Saviour and Lord through the work of the Spirit who opens the eyes of my heart and illuminates Scripture. I pray that I would see more of Christ in the next 30 years than I had ever imagined possible. I know that the more I see, the more I will love, the more love will compel me to reflect him and to walk in humble obedience — just like Jesus.

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** This is written as part of the series 30 for 30: Reflections on Life at My 30th Birthday **

The Heavenly Father

There was a time in my Christian life when I thought little of the Trinity. I knew the concept, but contemplated the unity of the three persons and the uniqueness of the three persons very little. In retrospect, I can hardly believe how foolish that was, and how much of the sheer awesomeness of God I was missing out on. Over the next few days I just want to reflect on some things I’ve learned and come to delight in about the three members of the Holy Trinity.

It is only appropriate to begin with the Father.

I remember taking a course not too long ago with Bruce Ware (author of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). Through that course the Spirit really opened my eyes to the glory of God the Father. I think too often in Christian circles we can think of the Father as aloof or angry. Or sometimes we take him for granted. The false reasoning goes like this: ‘We’ve always had him. But the Spirit is so New Covenant! And Jesus is just like us… we can identify easier with him.’

How mistaken and how tragic!

It is ironic that in our rush to make much of Jesus, we forget that his mission was to bring us to the Father. He taught us to pray in his name to the Father. At the end, he will hand over all things to the Father. Jesus makes much of the Father — so why would we who want to make much of Jesus make little of what he made much of? If we truly want to honour Jesus, we must honour the Father.

It is too easy to forget that it was a display of the Father’s love that sent Christ into the world for us (John 3:16). It is too easy to overlook the fact that the Father has planned our salvation from eternity past, that all of what he accomplishes in us might be to the praise of his (the Father’s!) glory (Eph 1.3-14; Eph 3.20-21). It is the Father’s wise plan which has been brought to bear for our salvation. It was his love that was set on us. It was his Son who was crushed for us. It is his Spirit who indwells us now, bearing with us, sustaining us until the end.

All that to say, I’ve grown to love the Father as a unique member of the Triune Godhead. He is the Initiator, the Planner, the one who hears our prayers, and the Sovereign One who gives direction to the Son and the Spirit for the accomplishment of my salvation.

Here are a few other thoughts I’ve had on the Father over the last couple years:

I know that I will spend the rest of eternity contemplating, exploring, and delighting in the Triune God — but I pray that however much time God gives me here on earth would be spent on getting a head start now.

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** This is written as part of the series 30 for 30: Reflections on Life at My 30th Birthday **

Jesus is So Obviously God

The Holy TrinityFor those who have eyes to see, it couldn’t be clearer: Jesus is God. It’s everywhere in Scripture.

Of course there are a few key proof texts that can be used in isolation, but really it is the whole storyline of the Bible that, when brought together, can leave us with no other impression than this: Jesus is the ultimate revelation of God because ‘in him the whole fullness of deity dwells’ (Col 2.9).

I see this all the time in studying, but thought I’d just share this one because it struck me as particularly glorious today.

I’m studying to preach the last half of Mark 10 (verses 32-52). In this section Jesus prophesies his coming death and resurrection, in which he will bear the wrath of God (handed over to the Gentiles, drinking the cup, enduring the baptism — all biblical images for the wrath of God) in order to ‘ransom’ (could also be translated ‘redeem’) ‘many.’

Now, right away that should stick out to us for a number of reasons. Not the least of which is Psalm 49.7, which says, ‘Truly no man can ransom another, or give to God the price of his life.’ So how can Jesus, then, if he is just a man, ransom ‘many’ with his life? Something bigger is clearly happening here. That gets drawn out more as we turn to Isaiah 44.

The burden of this section of Isaiah (40-48) is twofold: (1) God will redeem his people from exile — a second ‘Exodus’; and (2) the fact that he announces beforehand what he will do is what clearly sets him alone apart as God. That God has the power to act to redeem his people and the ability to declare the future before it happens are the two things that make it clear to Israel that he is God and there is no other.

So I find it pretty awesome that in Mark 10, just before Jesus enters Jerusalem to be rejected by Israel he is (1) declaring that he will redeem his people, and, (2) declaring it in advance, before it comes to pass. For anyone with eyes to see, it’s there to be seen.

What I love though, is that if you read Isaiah 44 in light of Mark 10 and Jesus’s impending conflicts in Jerusalem, it becomes even more glorious:

  • I am the Lord … who turns wise men back and makes their knowledge foolish (Isa 44.24-25)
  • [I am the Lord … who says] of Jerusalem, ‘She shall be built,’ and of the temple, ‘Your foundation shall be laid.’ (Isa 44.28)

Isn’t that exactly what Jesus is about to do, beginning in the very next chapter? Confrontation after confrontation with the ‘wise’ of Israel, until no one dares to ask him any more questions, because he turns them back in their ‘wisdom,’ making their foolishness evident to all (Mark 12.34). And isn’t the very charge brought against him by the Sanhedrin that the temple will be destroyed (Mark 13) but that he will ‘lay the foundation’ and rebuild it (Mark 14.58)?

As the narrative of Jesus’s life unfolds, the gospel writers make it clear for any with ears to hear: this Jesus does what God himself said only he could do. From the forgiving of sins and the cleansing of sinners to the ransoming of a people and the rebuilding of the true temple, all has been declared ahead of time that when Jesus comes we will know that in him we see our God.

Glimpses of Jesus – Part 2

Here’s another of my favourites from Fernando Ortega. This song glories in both the exalted power and immanent presence of our Lord. It further contrasts his greatness with our neediness, leading us to cry out to him. He is powerful and trustworthy, he is merciful and faithful, worthy of all our love, adoration, and praise.

Since this video doesn’t display the lyrics and since the video picture never changes, I’m posting the lyrics here so you can read them as you listen to the song.

Jesus, King of angels, heaven’s light,
Shine Your face upon this house tonight.
Let no evil come into my dreams;
Light of heaven, keep me in Your peace.

Remind me how You made dark spirits flee,
And spoke Your power to the raging sea.
And spoke Your mercy to a sinful man;
Remind me, Jesus, this is what I am.

The universe is vast beyond the stars,
But You are mindful when the sparrow falls,
And mindful of the anxious thoughts that find me, surround me, and bind me…

With all my heart I love You, Sovereign Lord.
Tomorrow, let me love You even more.
And rise to speak the goodness of Your name
Until I close my eyes and sleep again.

Jesus, King of angels, heaven’s light,
Hold my hand and keep me through this night.

Glimpses of Jesus

One thing I’ve grown to appreciate over the years is Christians who are able to take the grandest truths and the most profound mysteries of the Christian faith and express them in new and deep ways. In particular, I have a love for men & women who are able to communicate to me the mystery of Jesus: God become man; the meeting place of the Infinite and the finite; Immortal, Invisible, King, yet fully human, seen and touched, the Servant of all. I simply love reading authors and listening to singers who have had–and then give us–glimpses of Jesus.

One such singer I’ve appreciated over the years is Fernando Ortega. This past Christmas season I enjoyed listening to his Christmas CD again, and in particular, I was struck by the glorious mysteries of Christ expressed in the old hymn ‘Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence.’

Here’s a video of the song. I hope that it gives you a glimpse of your Lord and your God (John 20.28).

 

Audio Review of ‘the Shack’ by Tim Challies

the-shackOn Monday at the Toronto Pastors Fellowship, during the Q&A, Tim Challies was asked to give a brief review of the bestselling book, the Shack.

Note that this review was given off-the-cuff in a Q&A session. Tim has done a thorough review of the book for you to read here.

But, if you’re lazy and would prefer to listen to a 4 minute audio review, rather than read one, you can download the audio review here.

No Wonder They Hate It

This past Sunday at GFC, the preacher taught on Core Value #4: Authority. That was good for my heart to hear. When we, as elders, sat to discuss what we wanted to include in this series (i.e. What are our core values?), authority wasn’t the first thing that came to mind. 

As we reflected on the biblical guidance for Christian leadership and where that intersects Canadian culture, however, we quickly realized that this was something we needed to speak to. Our culture hates authority. The very fact that one person might have the ‘right to command’ another person to do something just makes our skin crawl. 

But that begs this question: Why? Why would we hate it so much and so instinctively? 

To be sure, the reasons are numerous. We have seen authority ill-defined and often-abused. We’ve seen people in authority positions without authority qualifications, and that makes us question the legitimacy of it all. We’ve all be subject to authorities who have made us do things we just don’t want to do. We could go on and on.

But I would argue that there’s something more at play–something deep-seated in our very nature as humans that makes us want to either (1) reject authority and rebel against it, or, (2) seize authority and use it for our personal gain. What is it in us that makes us act this way?

I think the answer is simple: Authority is rooted in God, defined by God, is good and is a part of what it means to be God.

Since we’re created in his image, it only makes sense that we would be created to reflect this reality. But ever since the fall, we’ve done with authority what we do with every other part of the image of God in us: we either deny it or distort it.

The authority of God the Father cannot be questioned. Throughout the Old Testament, his Word stands. He declares the end from the beginning, and his will is brought to pass. In the gospels (especially John) we see that it was the Father who sent the Son. The Son speaks the words that the Father gave him to speak, and does the works the Father gave him to work. 

The authority of Christ is a present reality. At the Great Commission Jesus said, ‘All authority has been given to me…’. In Ephesians 1, we’re told that Christ (after being raised from the dead) was seated at the right hand of God the Father, ‘in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion…’ with ‘all things under his feet…’. 

Christ will not always hold on to that authority, however. In 1 Corinthians 15, we read that at the end of this world, Christ will hand all things back over to the Father, who is the true, ultimate authority–even within the Godhead, where all are perfect equals. Authority, then, existed in eternity past (where there was no sin) and will exist into eternity future (where there will be no sin).

This tells us why we hate authority. We hate it because we’re rebels by nature. We hate God and everything that he is. Authority is intrinsically good. Authority is a part of what it means to be God. It is not a result of the fall–rather, it is merely perverted and hated because of the fall.

As Christians, we are called to rightly reflect the image of God as we were created to. Our response to perversions of authority in the world is not to reject all authority, but to esteem and praise right authority, and to respond to bad authority rightly and humbly: by submitting ourselves to it (1 Pet 2.13-17).

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