Saturday, 24 December 2011

The Greatest Love of all....

I was a big Whitney Houston fan in the 80's and her now classic hit was 'The Greatest Love of All', the song ends with the lyrics 'the greatest love of all is learning to love yourself'. That is not the greatest love of all, in fact loving ourselves is easy for us. The greatest love of all is this: while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. 
It's the holiday season when amidst all the frenzy of shopping and Santa there is a manger scene where cattle, shepherds and Magi surround a helpless baby who is placed in a manger. (but not a Santa)
John's gospel tells us nothing of this, that is left to Matthew and Luke, for John, Christmas starts earlier not in Mid September like it does in the West these days, but in Eternity past. John tells us that this helpless looking baby is none other than the Word who created all things in the beginning. The Word who was with God and is Himself God. The Son who is very God of very God, whom the myriads of Angels adored, and the Father delighted in,  the darling of Heaven humbled Himself and became a helpless baby. As one song writer put it, 'The hands that created the world, made the hands that was now holding Him'. Or as John put it 'The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth'.
Christmas confronts us with the fact that while we do love ourselves we by our nature are unlovely and we stand in need of saving and in need of forgiveness. Yet we are utterly helpless to change and transform ourselves and utterly helpless to change our standing before a holy God. Christmas confronts us with a baby who was born to reconcile sinners to Himself to offer us forgiveness by coming to trust in the one who laid down His life for guilty sinners. Christmas points inevitably to Easter and the manger points inevitably to the cross!

As you celebrate Christmas may you come to delight in not only the greatest love of all but the greatest gift of all that is forgiveness from God.

Merry Christmas!
Stephen <><

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

How deep the Father's love for us

I am working my way through John Stott's classic book 'The Cross of Christ', Stott reminds us that The cross is not the Son working against the Father's will to redeem us as the cross is just as much the Father's initiative. 
Stuart Townend's song 'How deep the Father's love for us' also reminds us of this:

How deep the Father's love for us
how vast beyond all measure
that He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure.

How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the Chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory

John 3:16  tell's us that God so loved the world that He gave His only Son so whoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life. The cross therefore isn't the means to God loving us but is the result, the effect of that love.
Stott puts it like this, 'We must never make Christ the object of God's punishment or God the object of Christ's persuasion, for both God and Christ were subjects not objects, taking the initiative together to save sinners. Whatever happened on the cross in terms of 'Godforsakeness' was voluntarily accepted by both in the same holy which made atonement necessary. It was God in our nature forsaken of God. If the Father gave the Son, The Son gave Himself. If the Father "sent the Son, the Son 'came' Himself. The Father did not lay on the Son an ordeal he was reluctant to bear, nor did the Son extract from the Father a salvation he was reluctant to bestow.' Stott, The Cross of Christ p151

We find at the cross God's wrath poured out upon His beloved Son, the place where wrath and mercy met. Divine justice, mercy and love are fulfilled as God in love both punishes and receives punishment to bring many sons to glory. How great is God!

God Bless
Stephen <><