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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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  • Recommended Reading

The Deepest Human Problem

James M. Boice:

[T]he true nature of the gospel also emerges in this understanding of the death of Jesus. The gospel is not just a new possibility for achieving joy and fullness in this life, as some seem to suggest. It is not just a solution to what were previously troublesome and frustrating problems. It is rather something much deeper that has been done, something relating to God, on the basis of which and only on the basis of which these other blessings of salvation follow. Packer says, ‘The gospel does bring us solutions to these problems, but it does so by first solving . . . the deepest of all human problems, the problem of man’s relation with his Maker; and unless we make it plain that the solution of these former problems depends on the settling of this latter one, we are misrepresenting the message and becoming false witnesses of God.’ (Foundations of the Christian Faith: A Comprehensive and Readable Theology, page 319)

The Docetic Heresy

Docetism and Christianity:

Docetism was a heresy that attracted interest in the third century. Docetists believed that there was one eternal father who was eternally transcendent and unable to experience any sort of human emotion of suffering. The belief that Jesus became human flesh and experienced life as a human was unthinkable.

The early orthodox church opposed Docetism. Irenaeus wrote a five-volume work against Valentinus (136 A.D. – 165 A.D.) who one of Docetism’s prominent teachers. Polycarp condemns the Docetists by saying that “everyone who does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is an anti-Christ,” echoing 1 John 4:2-3.

The Bible teaches us that Jesus experienced hunger (Matt. 4:2) and thirst (John 19:28), was sympathetic (Matt. 9:36), became weary (John 4:6), felt sorrow to the point of weeping (John 11:35), and grew in wisdom (Luke 2:52). Yet, His humanness never caused Him to sin (Heb. 4:15).

Docetism strikes at the heart of Christianity; as the author of Hebrews plainly teaches, Jesus “had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.” (Hebrews 2:17 ESV)

The Bible teaches:

“I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” (John 6:51 ESV)

“For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist.” (2 John 1:7 ESV)

Bought with a Price!

Charles H. Spurgeon:

If I had the power to do it, how would I seek to refresh in your souls a sense of the fact that you are “bought with a price.”

There in the midnight hour, amidst the olives of Gethsemane, kneels Immanuel the Son of God; he groans, he pleads in prayer, he wrestles; see the beady drops stand on his brow, drops of sweat, but not of such sweat as pours from men when they earn the bread of life, but the sweat of him who is procuring life itself for us. It is blood, it is crimson blood; great gouts of it are falling to the ground.

O soul, your Savior speaks to you from out Gethsemane at this hour, and he says: “Here and thus I bought you with a price.”

Come, stand and view him in the agony of the olive garden, and understand at what a cost he procured your deliverance. Track him in all his path of shame and sorrow until you see him on the Pavement; mark how they bind his hands and fasten him to the whipping-post; see, they bring the scourges and the cruel Roman whips; they tear his flesh; the ploughers make deep furrows on his blessed body, and the blood gushes forth in streams, while rivulets from his temples, where the crown of thorns has pierced them, join to swell the purple stream. From beneath the scourges he speaks to you with accents soft and low, and he says, “My child, it is here and thus I bought you with a price.”

But see him on the cross itself when the consummation of all has come; his hands and feet are fountains of blood, his soul is full of anguish even to heartbreak; and there, before the soldier pierces his side with a spear, bowing down he whispers to you and to me, “It was here and thus, I bought you with a price.”

O by Gethsemane, by Gabbatha, by Golgotha, by every sacred name collected with the passion of our Lord, by sponge and vinegar, and nail and spear, and everything that helped the pang and increased the anguish of his death, I conjure you, my beloved brethren, to remember that you were “bought with a price,” and “are not your own.”

I push you to this; you either were or were not so bought; if you were, it is the grand fact of your life; if you were, it is the greatest fact that ever will occur to you: let it operate upon you, let it dominate your entire nature, let it govern your body, your soul, your spirit, and from this day let it be said of you not only that you are a man, a man of good morals and respectable conduct, but this, above all things, that you are a man filled with love to him who bought you, a man who lives for Christ, and knows no other passion.

O! that redemption would become the paramount influence, the lord of our soul, and dictator of our being; then were we indeed true to our obligations: short of this we are not what love and justice both demand.

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