Wonder of wonders! God over all, blessed for ever, became one with a newborn babe which slept in a manger where the homed oxen fed. He was abundantly manifest among the multitudes, and before his disciples during the latter part of his life. He was God in miracles most plenteous, but he was man in sufferings most pitiable.
He healed all manner of diseases, and was himself exceeding sorrowful even unto death.
Winds and waves obeyed him, every element acknowledged the august presence of deity, and yet he was tempted in all points like as we are. Arraigned before human tribunals, condemned as guilty of the gravest crimes, he is taken from prison and from judgment, with none to declare his generation; he is fastened to the accursed wood, and put to a death of deepest shame, and bitterest torture. O ye whose loving eyes have looked upon the ensanguined rills which gush from the wounds of your bleeding Lord, and have delighted to behold the lily of the valleys reddened into the rose of Sharon with the crimson of his own blood, you can see God in Christ as you behold rocks rending, the sun darkened, and the dead arising from their tomb sat the moment of his departure from the earth — behold in the writhing form of the Crucified Man at once the vengeance and the love of God, nor less behold divine power sustaining the load of human guilt, and divine compassion enduring such agonies for rebels so ill deserving.
Truly this Son of man was also the Son of God. Beloved, this is a mystery surpassing all comprehension. If any man should attempt to explain, or even to define the union of the divine and human in the Lord Jesus, he would soon prove his folly.
Christ-centered thoughts and studies
The schoolmen of the dark ages were very fond of asking puzzling questions about what they called the hypostatical union of the deity and humanity of Christ. They could not cast so much as a ray of light upon the subject; they amused themselves with enigmas and lost themselves in labyrinths.
It is enough for us to know that the incarnation is a glorious fact, and it suffices us to hold it in its simplicity. God was manifest in the flesh of Jesus Christ the incarnate Word. Beloved, this is a great mystery — great because it treats of God.
Any doctrine which relates to the Infinite and the Eternal is of the utmost weight. We should be all ear and all heart when we have to learn concerning God.
Reason teaches us that he who made us, who is our preserver, and at whose word we are so soon to return to the dust, should be the first object of our thoughts. Turn ye hither, ye wayward children of Adam, and behold this great mystery, for your God is here. A bush burning and unconsumed would attract your curious gaze: what think ye of a man who was in union with the God who is a consuming fire?
The truth of God manifest in flesh is great if you consider the great honour which is thereby conferred upon manhood. Whichever of all the creatures shall come nearest to the Creator will evidently have the preeminence in the ranks of creatureship, which then shall bear the palm?
Shall not the seraphs be chosen? Behold, and be astonished, a worm is preferred, a rebellious child of the earth is chosen! Human nature is espoused into oneness with the divine! There is no gulf between God and redeemed man at this hour. God is first, over all, blessed for ever, but next comes man in the person of the man Christ Jesus. For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.
Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet. Man is exalted since Christ is humiliated. Man may go up to God now that God has come down to man. This is great, is it not? A mystery, certainly, but great in every way. See that ye despise it not, lest ye miss the abounding benefit which flows to man through this golden channel. My brethren, the mystery appears greatest of all because it is so nearly connected with our eternal redemption.
There could have been no putting away of sin by vicarious suffering if God had not become incarnate.
“Justified in the spirit”
Sin is not removed except by an atonement, neither would any person have sufficed to atone but one of like nature to those who had offended. By man came death; by man also must come resurrection. Jesus appears as man to save his people from their sins, by taking the sins of his people upon himself, and offering a propitiation for them. What a wondrous sight was the dying Redeemer! The cross is the focus of all human history — I was almost going to say it is the centre of the life of God, if such a thing can be.
All the ages meet in Calvary.
Jesus is the central Sun of all events. O, gaze again, and marvel more and more that God should put himself into the place of his offending creature, and in the person of his dear Son, should offer to eternal justice a compensation for the insults which sin had cast upon law and rule! There is no greatness in heaven or earth if it be not here in the bleeding flesh of Jesus, the Son of God. All else is dwarfed into nothing in his presence. Beloved, the manifestation of God in Jesus crucified will appear to be great to you if you have ever drank deep into its meaning.
If you have learned that his blood has brought perfect pardon to all believers, and that through the. I count ye the worst of thieves. The apostle mentions, in the next place, the important witness by which the mission of Jesus was confirmed. It appears more natural to confine the expression to the Holy Spirit. Every religion demands our attention in proportion to the certainty of its teachings, and the value of its confirmatory testimony.
How matchless is the seal which is set upon the mystery of godliness, since the Holy Spirit has been pleased himself, personally and repeatedly to confirm it! If we demand trustworthy evidence, behold the Holy Spirit bearing witness to our most holy faith, both in heaven and in earth! And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God. Ye have not forgotten the miraculous flames of fire which sat upon each of the disciples, and how they spake with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance!
You know how that day three thousand were converted to the faith by the testimony of those first champions of Christ! Thus the Holy Spirit bore witness with signs, and miracles, and wondrous gifts, that he who professed to be incarnate Deity, was most truly God and the Saviour of men. Beloved, if you complain that this attestation has now ceased, and that the record of miracles is rather a strain upon your faith than an assistance to it, I would remind you that the Spirit of God has not ceased from the midst of the church.
The Holy Ghost no longer operates upon material substances, the sick are not healed, and the dead are not raised — this the we freely confess; but he still acts with equally wonderful results upon the minds of men. In this very house there have been miracles performed, which, in lasting value, put the raising of the dead to the blush. Many of us who are now present bear witness that by the Spirit of God we have been new created, raised from spiritual corruption, delivered from the dominion of Satan, and translated into the kingdom of God.
The swine of drunkenness have been made lovers of holiness, the beasts of sensuality have become partakers of the divine nature; what better sign is needed? When hearts of adamant melt like wax, and streams of penitence flow from souls as hard as flinty rocks, who will refuse to believe? Let the gospel be judged by its fruits, and we are satisfied with the trial. If it does not turn the moral desert into an Eden, transform the lion into a lamb, and raise up the beggar from the dunghill, then let it be rejected; but since it has done this, and is doing it, let its despisers beware lest they commit the sin against the Holy Ghost while they reject the solemn evidences which he daily thrusts before our eyes.
The Spirit of God is with us still, working with the word of God. See the savage casting away his weapons, the cannibal softened into the man.
What philosophy could not do and did not care to attempt — what civilisation never could have accomplished alone, the cross of Christ has effectually performed. The Spirit of God is with us, and both in the holiness of the saints, and in the conversions of unbelievers, he bears witness that God was in Christ. Our Lord was watched by holy spirits in the wilderness where, after he had conquered that arch tempter, angels ministered unto him. He was with the wild beasts at one moment, and anon seraphic spirits waited in his train.plicchecompfil.tk
THE MYSTERY OF GODLINESS
An angel ministered unto him in Gethsemane, when his sweat was as it were great drops of blood. Upon Calvary they watched him too, and doubtless, as the poet says —. Visions of angels were seen by the witnesses of his resurrection. Two clothed in white sat the one at the head and the other at the foot where the body of Jesus had lain.
The apostle mentions this to show the greatness of our religion, since the noblest intellects are interested in it. Did you ever hear of angels hovering around the assemblies of philosophical societies? Very interesting papers are sometimes produced speculating upon geological facts; startling discoveries are every now and then made as to astronomy and the laws of motion; we are frequently surprised at the results of chemical analyses; yet I do not remember ever reading even in poetry that angelic beings have shown any excitement at the news.
Those august minds which have been long ago created of God, and preserved from defilement by his decree, are better able to judge than we are of the importance of things; and when we find them deeply interested in a matter, it cannot be of small account. They turn from every other sight to view the incarnate Redeemer, regarding his condescending deed of grace as a bottomless ocean of mystery, a topless steep of wonder.
Then, he passes on to the next truth, Jesus Christ was preached unto the Gentiles. Was this a great thing? Is preaching a wonder?
And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh!!!
The preaching of the gospel proves conclusively the grandeur of our religion. The nearest to Christ were the angels — he was seen of them: the furthest from Christ were fallen Gentiles, who had given themselves up to the worship of the works of their own hands, to these also Jesus came. That Jesus Christ was preached to the Gentiles at all, was a wonder which it behoves us not to forget. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace.
This surprised our apostle; and what surprises me still more is this, that Christ was preached to the Gentiles by Jews — that those whose bigotry at that time was invincible, so that they could not imagine such a thing as a Gentile being in covenant with God, were the very men who with indefatigable ardour went among the Gentiles to preach Jesus Christ. You may cut the Jew in pieces first. The belief that his race is peculiarly favoured of God lies in the very heart and marrow of the Israelite; he will never consent to become one with the Gentile dogs. This is a startling fact.
It is a most noteworthy fact in the history of our faith, that Jesus is still preached among the nations, and the church labours to make him everywhere known. What other religion spends so much energy in seeking converts? If any of you were foolish enough to wish to become Jews, you would not be welcomed among the Jewish fraternity.