Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Hymspirational Moment #3

THE COMFORTER HAS COME

Verse 1
Oh, spread the tidings ’round, wherever man is found,
Wherever human hearts and human woes abound;
Let every Christian tongue proclaim the joyful sound:
The Comforter has come!

Chorus:
The Comforter has come, the Comforter has come!
The Holy Ghost from Heav’n, the Father’s promise giv’n;
Oh, spread the tidings ’round, wherever man is found—
The Comforter has come!

Verse 2
The long, long night is past, the morning breaks at last,
And hushed the dreadful wail and fury of the blast,
As o’er the golden hills the day advances fast!
The Comforter has come!

Verse 3
Lo, the great King of kings, with healing in His wings,
To every captive soul a full deliv’rance brings;
And through the vacant cells the song of triumph rings;
The Comforter has come!

Verse 4
O boundless love divine! How shall this tongue of mine
To wond’ring mortals tell the matchless grace divine—
That I, a child of hell, should in His image shine!
The Comforter has come!

"Oh spread the tidings round wherever man is found!"  What a tremendous impulsion!  The very indwelling Spirit of God was what pushed the early Christians beyond their fears of persecution, imprisonment and death to tell all men everywhere of their own personal experience with God.  When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, the 120 waiting Disciples in the upper room in Jerusalem were filled with the power of the resurrection; the same Spirit which raised Christ from the dead now lived in them (Romans 8:11).  It was the power which, Jesus promised, would make them His witnesses in all the world (Acts 1:8) and, when reading the New Testament Book of Acts, we can clearly see that unction at work.  

Why were their hearts so filled with an urge to tell everyone of their experience?  "The long, long night is past."  The Old Covenant with its bloody ritual sacrifices was over.  The temporary relief from the guilt of sins was replaced by the true remission of sins.  The shadows of the past were replaced by the substance of the New Covenant; the Lord Jesus Christ (Colossians 2:17).  The Sun of Righteousness had risen in their hearts and, for the first time in human history, there was an indwelling assurance of salvation.  Their redemption had been sealed (Ephesians 4:30) and their assurance of eternity with God was guaranteed through the deposit of the Holy Spirit of God (2 Corinthians 1:22).  How could they keep silent.

They had the terrific reassurance of knowing that their salvation had not been purchased by God's representative but by God Himself.  "Lo, the great King of Kings with healing in His wings to every captive soul a full deliverance brings."  God in Christ had reconciled them (2 Corinthians 5:19).  They had seen their Saviour and, now, were recipients of the very Christ living inside of them.  There was no longer any doubt of the promise the Lord Jesus had made to them of being forever with them (Matthew 28:20) and living in them (John 14:17).  This was the experience of the First Century Christian.  It was the experience of the Jews in Acts 2, the Samaritans in Acts 8, the Gentiles in Acts 10 and the Ephesians in Acts 19.  It was the experience of being born again (John 3:3-5).

And even now, though almost two millenia have passed since that great Day of Pentecost outpouring of the promise of the Father, the Holy Spirit is still being given.  Along with this supernatural endowment of power from on high (Luke 24:49) the persistent and demanding impulse to be a witnesses yet remains.  We who have received this gift MUST speak to those who have yet to receive.  "How shall this tongue of mine to wondering mortals tell the matchless grace divine?"  The Spirit pushes us to speak and we cannot contain it.  Why should we even try?  "That I, a child of hell, should in His imagine shine."  So great a salvation must be declared loudly, boldly and without reservation by all of those who have received thereof.  

You need not wait any longer for that which our Lord promised while He was yet with us in the flesh!  Find your own upper room!  Pray!  Ask the Father!  He will fill you with His Spirit!  If you have already received the Holy Ghost, open your mouth and declare to the world!  Tell them all; young and old, rich and poor, at home and abroad!  "Let every Christian tongue proclaim the joyful sound:  THE COMFORTER HAS COME!"

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Only Lamb That Knew

“Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour." - John 12:27

A father and his son are walking along a well beaten path while, at their side, a young lamb walks along briskly pausing only occasionally to nibble at one of the sporadic patches of green in the otherwise earthen path.  A gentle tug of the rope leash by the son persuades the animal to continue obediently along the journey.  It is a scene that has played out on many occasions.  Before long, the trio makes its way to the large tented compound known as the Tabernacle.  At the gate, the father is met by a somewhat imposing individual known as a Levite.  The tranquility of the cool of the morning is shattered suddenly by the agonizing scream of the lamb.  With the brisk action of a skilled, knife-wielding hand, the young lamb's life comes to an end and his blood is offered to God on behalf of the sins of the father, his son and the entire family.  

Along the same path the father and son are returning to their home in silent and reverent reflection of the morning's events.  The son's face unwittingly betrays the presence of a persistent question in his heart.  

The father asks, "What is it, son?"  

"Father," replies the son, "did the lamb know?"

The question perplexed the father.  "Did the lamb know what, son?"

Tears welled up in the son's eyes as he quivered the words, "Did the lamb know why he had to die?"

"No, son," the father answered pensively.  "The lamb doesn't know anything."  

That night sleep eluded the father as he wrestled with a peculiar unease in his heart. He understood the Law enough to know that the Lord God had required the sacrifice of certain animals for certain sins and uncleanness but had never stopped to think about what the animal experienced in the process.  All along the path from their modest dwelling to the Tabernacle the lamb had pranced happily unaware that it had only minutes left to live.  It was not until it was held and bound by the Levite that it experienced fear and then, in an instant, excruciating pain followed by sudden death.  The lamb, like every other type of animal sacrificed, understood what was happening but not why.  The lamb knew nothing.  

God alone knows how many hundreds of thousands of animals were sacrificed in such a manner under the Mosaic Law Covenant and yet none of them were in the least aware of the reason for their slaughter.  The countless innocent lambs whose lives were taken were not only oblivious to the fact that they were bringing about the temporary relief of the guilt of an individual's sins, but they were also involved in the process against their own will.  No animal desires to be killed and will, when feeling threatened, fight in order to preserve its life.  The lamb of the sacrifice doubtlessly struggled against its captor to no avail.

Thousands of lambs died.  But then, "...when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law..." (Galatians 4:4-5a)

Imagine the scene when John the Baptist was baptizing and saw his cousin, Jesus of Nazareth, walking by.  Suddenly, by divine unction, John lifted his voice and said, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29).  The Angel of the Lord had spoken before Jesus' birth and declared that he would, "...save his people from their sins." (Matthew 1:21).  Jesus Christ was the Lamb of God.  He was the Lamb of God from birth.  In fact, before the heavens and earth were ever created, the Son of God existed in the mind and will of God for the purpose of dying for the sins of mankind and bringing about the everlasting Gospel of Salvation (1 Peter 1:19-21).  What is more, it is evident from His prayer recorded for us in John 12 that He was absolutely certain that death for the atonement of the world was His ultimate purpose and destiny.

Jesus Christ was the only lamb that knew why His life was being taken.  As God in flesh, the very Creator and eternal Spirit who had inspired the Prophets, it is doubtless that the words of Isaiah 53 were firm in His mind as He was beaten, scourged and wounded.  Jesus knew that He was being bound to a cross just as the lambs of the Old Covenant had been bound to an altar so that their blood could be sprinkled before the presence of the Almighty God for the pardon of sinful man.  Jesus knew.  He knew the pain that would be involved.  He knew the reality of the chilly hand of death that would overshadow His fleshly form.  Nevertheless, no one took His life; He laid it down voluntarily.  (John 10:18).

The Lamb of God knew His death would bring salvation to the single mother struggling with the harsh realities of life with an illegitimate child.  He saw the depressed teenager lost in a seemingly endless sea of despondency with full confidence that His blood would be sufficient to bring liberty and joy.  For the man trying to put his life back on the right path, Jesus saw a way of righteousness whose pavement was paid for by His own broken body.  The oppressed, the poor, the broken, the wounded, the forgotten, the neglected, the weary, the hurting, the burdened and all manner of man, woman, boy and girl were in the eyes of Jesus Christ as He willingly gave Himself for them.

Jesus Christ knew.  He knew that we would reject Him and His work at Calvary.  He knew that we would mock Him.  He knew that His very existence would be disputed in the centuries to come.  He knew we would fail to keep His commandments.  He knew we would doubt.  He knew that there would be billions of people who would choose to worship another god.  He knew all of this and still died willingly.  He endured the cross because of the "joy that was set before him." (Hebrews 12:2).  And what was that joy?

Look in the mirror.  Remind yourself.  Jesus Christ knew about you.  He knew He was the Lamb.  He knew He must die.  He knew you would be born and your life would be worth saving.  He was the only Lamb who could identify with the individual for whom He was being sacrificed.  God became flesh so that all men could know that God not only knew but completely understood by firsthand experience the trials, suffering and frailty of humanity.  Jesus knew why He was dying, for whom He was dying, that many would refuse Him and that you would be born with an opportunity to accept Him.

Look to Jesus.  He knew you and loved you enough to lay down His life for you.  He was the only Lamb that knew.