Friday, February 22, 2008

Jesus Christ, The All-Sufficient Treasure

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” Or, “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”

What could be so precious and valuable that a man would sell everything to buy a field, and so have the treasure buried therein? What could be such a marvelous pearl that an intelligent merchant would sell everything just to buy it? Certainly, we know that this treasure is Jesus Christ. We know that this is a reflection of the gospel. But why is Jesus so precious? What makes Jesus such a sufficient treasure? You do not sell everything and risk homelessness unless you see this pearl as more valuable than anything else you currently have or will ever attain. What about Jesus is so valuable? We say that the Gospel must be enjoyed, and by that we certainly mean that the Christ revealed in this Gospel is to be enjoyed; but, why? Why is Jesus so precious?

Tonight is going to be very difficult for me to preach. It is as if I am holding the most beautiful and costly diamond and I have only a short amount of time to show you all of its intricacies and beauty and splendor. Not only that, but I cannot fathom all of the beauty in the diamond which I am holding. Nevertheless we will attempt to do this.

We could easily spend hours discussing all of the various qualities of Jesus. We could discuss his perfect humanity, we could discuss the fact that He is God—which would lead to a discussion of all of His attributes, we could talk about his mercy, his love, his justice, all of these things. But tonight I want us to focus on one facet of this beautiful diamond; the benefits that come to us through the work of Christ. What has Jesus accomplished for us?

So, if you want to picture this; everything we discuss tonight will be under this big heading of Substitution. Then we will discuss 5 different benefits of substitution. All of these are so intertwined and it is difficult to separate each one, but we can make distinctions in each of these.
Tonight we will look at Jesus Our Righteousness, Our Redeemer, Our Reconciler, Our Reward, and Our Ruler.

Throughout this message we will be using a particular phrase--the work of Christ. What does that mean? When we use that term we are pointing to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Specifically we are referring to Christ work of substitution. He took the punishment of our unrighteousness and gave to us His righteousness. It is known as the great exchange. If this has happened in your life this is the reason you are saved, the work of Christ. It is the ground for every one of these benefits. The first of which is:

Jesus Christ, Our Righteousness, has fulfilled the Law

The first place for us to turn is Romans 8:1-4. As you are turning there you must know the background. There are 7 chapters before this that builds the foundation for this beautiful verse. Paul has labored to show that man is not righteous before God. There is none righteous, no not one. Paul has beautifully shown that both Jew and Gentile stand guilty before God, as he says in 3:19, “Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world be held accountable to God.” Paul has then masterfully shown that our righteousness comes through faith in Jesus Christ. But this leads to a very important question. What do we make of the Law? Are the Old Testament and the Law of Moses (like the 10 Commandments) meaningless? In Chapter 7, Paul is showing that those that believe in Jesus Christ are released from the Law. Jesus has fulfilled it. The Law was only there to display our sin; the Law (as we learn in Galatians) was there to point us to our deliverer. The Law, as good and holy as it was could never save, it could only expose sin and provide condemnation. It is at this point, after Paul cries out, “who will deliver me from this body of death”, that we find ourselves in chapter 8, verse 1.

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit”. What does all of that mean? It means that, though I was under the curse of the Law, Jesus Christ took my place. He did what the Law could not do—save me. He did what the Law was powerless to do—produce righteousness in hopelessly depraved sinners.

Oh, do you see the beauty in this verse? Do you see what Jesus Christ has done for you? The Law was pointing a sentencing finger of death over you. You stood under the curse of the Law. We all stood condemned before the Law; without hope of any of the blessings of God. But God made him who knew no sin, to become sin on our behalf.

It seems like I have quoted Martin Luther numerous times in the last few months, but here is yet another story the helps illuminate the beauty of the gospel. Luther often envisioned himself battling with Satan. In one particular battle, Satan was reminding Luther of all his sins. Luther asked Satan to bring out the scrolls and show him all of his sins. Satan brings out a scroll, very long. After laboring for a long time, they finally completed the scroll, sin after sin after sin. You can imagine some of the sins on there: lust, anger, pride, rebellion, gluttony, murderous thoughts, not treasuring God and many of these multiple times over. Certainly, Luther could have been replaying in his mind those sins. Some may have even caught him off guard. As they came to the last sin on the scroll, Luther looked at Satan and said, “Is that all?” Satan, surprised by this, goes in the back room and brings out another very long scroll. They go through the same process; Sin upon sin, upon sin. Treacherous sins. Vile sins. Secret sins that nobody even knew but Luther. All are exposed before him. He certainly would have felt the pain of many of them. But he stood and took every one of them. Finally, again after a long time had passed they arrive at the bottom. Again, Luther asks, “Is that all”? Satan, quite shocked by this question again, goes into the back room and brings out another very long scroll. They continue the labor, sin after sin. Each an offense. Each requiring the death penalty. Each enough to separate Martin from God for eternity. Even the smallest offense enough to bring about the full wrath of God. Finally, after a long time passes, they get to the last one on the scroll. Luther, to Satan’s frustration, but perhaps with exhausted glee, asks “Is that all?” This time, Satan trying to hide the wry smile from his face, says, “Yes, Martin, that is everything”. Now, Luther tells Satan to grab ink and a pen. Now, Satan, write upon every one of those, “The blood of Jesus Christ his Son covers all sin”.

Luther could have easily told Satan to write Romans 8:1. There is no condemnation for those that are in Christ Jesus. Only those of you that have spent time staring at these scrolls will feel the sweetness of this verse. Only those that feel even an ounce of the weight of even one of these sins will treasure the great that there is now no condemnation.

We could use many words in this section to describe the benefits of Christ. Clean. Freedom. Though our sins are as scarlet, they are now white as snow. Holy. Pure. Blameless. Forgiven. Right with God. This alone would be enough to encompass our eternal worship. Yet this is not the only benefit that Christ has purchased. There are yet four more we will cover tonight. The second of which is:

Jesus Christ, Our Redeemer, has delivered us from the bondage of sin
The second place for us to look tonight is Ephesians 2. At the beginning of Ephesians 2 we see a very bleak outlook. We are dead in our trespasses and sins. I am not sure that we really understand what this is saying. Earlier we read the words of Jesus, “You must be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect”. God’s standard is absolutely high. We must be perfect in all that we do. We must be perfectly righteous. Everyone in here probably knows that they are not 100% righteous. But I am not certain that you understand what this text is saying. This text is saying that not only were you not 100% righteous you weren’t even 1%. Furthermore you were so dead in your sin that you could not even muster up 1%. The biblical picture is that no man on his own initiative will ever seek God. Even if God is mercifully offering forgiveness, without God first doing a work in our heart we will not even come to Him for this mercy. We are dead in our sin.

This is a reference to human inability. We are so in love with our sin that we will not come to Jesus. There is not a soul in here, saved or not saved, that woke up one morning of his own initiative and said, I think I want to love Jesus now. No, we love Him because He first loved us. Or to use the words of Paul here in Ephesians 2, “we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” The Puritan, John Flavel, has a rather striking comment to say about this. “The blood that runs in our veins is as much tainted as theirs in hell”. We, like every soul in hell today, at one time were in bondage to sin. We loved sin. We treasured it. We refused to come to the light. This is our state without the work of God.

But listen to verse 4. But God…oh, what wonderful words…But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved…” What does this mean that God has made us alive together with Christ? It means that just as the power of God raised Jesus from the grave, so the power of God raises us from our state of death. Meaning we are no longer in bondage to sin.

Listen to what Paul says in Romans 7:24-25. “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” The body of death that Paul was talking about was the slave body; the one that is a slave to sin. But thanks be to God, he has made us alive with Jesus Christ.

To really catch what is taking place here we must take our minds back to the prophet Hosea. Remember in Chapter 3 when God urges Hosea to buy back his harlot wife. The idea of “buying back” is the concept of redemption. This is what God is now doing with us. We are in bondage to our sin. We have prostituted ourselves. We have run away and rebelled from our Creator. And now, we, like Gomer, and the people of Israel she symbolized, are empty, alone, and hopeless.
Yet listen to the amazing love of God. “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her. And there I will give her her vineyards and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth, as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt.” At this point we see that God speaks of a covenant that He will establish. This is how he will buy back his wife, this is how he will betroth her to Himself forever; it is through the Redemption that Jesus Christ has secured.

What does this mean for you? It means that if you are in Jesus Christ then you are free from the bondage of sin. That means you do not have to sin any longer. You choose to sin. It’s almost like you have to work to sin. You have to make it intentional. You have been freed from its treachery. Because of the work of Christ you now have the ability to see and savor Jesus Christ. What a wonderful blessing. These two would be enough to secure our happiness for all eternity. But they are only faint reckonings of two aspects of this precious diamond. We still have three more.

Jesus Christ, Our Reconciler, has brought us back into fellowship with God

For this point we will be looking at Romans 5:10-11, 2 Corinthians 5:18-21, and Colossians 1:21. There is an assumption behind this. That man is not currently in a state of fellowship with God. Mankind, apart from Jesus, are not in a right relationship with God. We have offended God. We have set up obstacles to our relationship with God. He cannot dwell among sin. His holy wrath and anger must be poured out upon sin, and the sinners that it encompasses. Therefore, we are most definitely God’s enemy.

We have looked in the past at the fact that we are not merely mad at God; He is infinitely ferociously mad at us. We are by nature objects of wrath. We are not born into this world having intimate fellowship with God. This is the background to Romans 5:10-11:

“For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” We were enemies and yet God reconciled us. What was the obstacle? Sin. “And you once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds”. But what has God accomplished in Christ? “he has now reconciled [you] in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him…” What has Christ done? He has reconciled us with himself. We have been adopted as Sons. We are now in fellowship with the King.

Do you realize what this means? Do you know what it is to be the son of a King, the daughter or Royalty? Let me ask you this, if you have a Father that is very much in love with you…and he has the intent to lavish all of these gifts upon you…and he is passionate about your joy…what do you think that means for you? The God that owns everything, the Creator that hung the stars, we are now in fellowship with Him. We are his children. We are reconciled to Him. Can you imagine the benefits?Now, lest I be misunderstood as to be preaching a prosperity gospel, part of this fellowship is also a fellowship of suffering. At least that is the way it is at this point. But even suffering is used by God to further our joy. Oh, it is difficult joy. It is painful to have things you love ripped from you. Yet we have fellowship with God.

Only those of you that already have a relationship with God understand how wonderful this is. While you are not reconciled this does not sound appealing to you. This sounds boring. But, for those of you that know God, this is wonderful news. But we are not finished.

Jesus Christ, Our Reward, has lavished upon us gifts instead of wrath.

For this point turn to Romans 8:31-32. This section will serve to close out the first part of the book of Romans. Paul has gone from Romans 1-8 and has shown our helplessness before God and that we are under wrath. By chapter 8 the gospel has been unveiled for us to see and rejoice in. As Paul closes out what God has done, and gives us confidence that God is going to complete His work, he says this:

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”
If you understand this verse in light of what Paul has revealed to us thus far it is astonishing. If you really understand that we are by nature objects of wrath. We are enemies of God. We are guilty of putting Jesus on the Cross, the vilest act any human could commit. We would kill God if we had the power. It is for worms that God is doing this. For dust, the Son of God would come and die.

This is Paul’s argument. What is the most difficult thing for God to do? Now certainly, it is risky to talk in such a way. But Paul is doing this. He is saying, if God can (and will) do the unthinkable--give His Son for His enemies—then what do you possibly think He will withhold from you. How will he not give us all things? What are these all things?

I would venture to say that they are all of the gifts of the gospel. It is peace. It is joy. It is freedom. It is spiritual giftedness. It is blessing upon blessing. But more than any of this it is the gift of God Himself. That is where Paul leads us to at the end of chapter 8, “For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” That is the goal that Paul is moving us toward. As Piper has eloquently put it, “The greatest gift of the gospel is God Himself.

Oh, we will receive countless blessings. There are fringe benefits to this. There is peace that transcends understanding. There is joy that is inexpressible. There is hope in the midst of suffering. There is love that is lavished upon us. But all of these are but rays of blessing that are emanating from the source. If all of these little gifts are enough to cause us great joy and sustain us. If these gifts are attractive enough to adulterate into idols, how much more precious must be their source?

And all of these are given to us. They are given to us in Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ, Our Ruler, has brought us into His Kingdom

For this last benefit, turn to Colossians 1:13-14. This last point is very crucial. It helps us see something very important about all of these blessings, they are conditional. Another place to put your finger will be Matthew 10:34-39. Before we turn there, lets look at Colossians 1:13-14. We see here something very drastic that Jesus has done.

“He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Again you can see here some of the themes that we have already touched upon. You have forgiveness. You have redemption. You have deliverance. Assumed in the text is reconciliation. In order for us to be “transferred” and “delivered” it must be assumed that we are not already in His kingdom. And we must understand from the Scriptures that the benefits that we have been talking about are only for those that are in the Kingdom of God. Only those that have been “transferred” enjoy these benefits.

Forgiveness is not found outside the kingdom. Righteousness will not be given to those that are not within the kingdom. Unless Jesus is your King he is not your Savior. You are not reconciled to God unless you are reconciled under the throne of King Jesus. You are not redeemed unless you have been delivered from death and transferred into this glorious kingdom. You cannot say to have the reward of Christ or any of the secondary benefits if you are not in his kingdom. You can not have the benefits of citizenship in America unless you are a citizen. So, it is in the Kingdom of God, unless you are a citizen you do not have the benefits.

And this takes us to our conclusion; our main application of this sermon.

One other fruit of the work of Christ, might be seen as a negative one. But it is necessary nonetheless. It is that of division. If you turn to Matthew 10, you will see this. “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father and mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it”.

Jesus divides men. Either you are for him or against him. If you are not willing to break from even the most basic familial relationship for the sake of Christ then obviously you do not see Him as a sufficient treasure. Obviously, you do not want Him as your King. If He is not your King then He is not your Savior. He must be your Ruler as well as your Redeemer. But if He is your Ruler then you should rejoice because all of the benefits of the Kingdom are yours. Eternal life, righteousness, redemption, all of this. And the most precious gift of all—God Himself.

This is what Jesus Christ has secured for all those that are in His Kingdom. What are you exhorted to do tonight? If you are in the Kingdom, then act like it. Live like it. Live like you are redeemed. Live like you have been broken away from the bondage of sin. Do not present your bodies to death anymore, live in holiness. If Jesus is your King, then act like it. If you are reconciled to God then enjoy that. If you’ve been given the righteousness of Christ then live that out. Enjoy the Gospel.

If you are not certain tonight whether or not you are in Christ, then hopefully God has opened your heart so that you can see tonight Jesus as a sufficient treasure. Your application is straightforward, you need to be in the Kingdom. How is all of this appropriated, or applied to you? It is by grace through faith. It is believing that Jesus has done these things. It is by crying out to God for mercy. It is by trusting in what Jesus Christ has done. It is by asking Him to be your substitution. Cry out to God.

9 comments:

Larry said...

Hello Pastor,

I read with relish your post of 22 February, and it almost convinced me of your acquaintance with its subject, until you fell back, toward the end, to the insufficiency of Christ to save apart from a man's supreme love for Him as a necessary added condition.

Of course this is nothing other than re-introducing the Law, namely the "great commandment in the Law (Mt 22:36,38)" as a mediator to God: not solus Christus; not sola fide; but fide et amoris supremis.

This is a "substitution" of the worst kind. By this the devil laughs at our claims to exalt Christ: in fact, it can be seen to be his work, when we say we exalt Christ for ever-so-extended a time if at the end, we make it necessary for the sinner to fulfill the greatest commandment of the Law in order to be saved.

Mike Leake said...

Larry,

I very seriously doubt that you will read this...I only found the comment here today.

I take your charge here very seriously. But for the life of me I cannot see what you are referencing. Nowhere do I say that in order for man to be saved that he must first supremely love Christ...nor do I see this as an added condition. To do so would indeed be re-introducing the Law.

Perhaps there is a misunderstanding in my application where I exhort the hearers to "live out the gospel"...Or perhaps it is in exhorting sinners to Cry out to God. I'm not certain where you are getting this charge...

Larry said...

Thanks Pastor for your response of Aug 2008 to my original comment. You ask where I gathered that you had said in the original post that Christ is insufficient to save apart from a man's supreme love for Him as a necessary added condition.

I found it in this portion of your post:

"If you are not willing to break from even the most basic familial relationship for the sake of Christ then obviously you do not see Him as a sufficient treasure. Obviously, you do not want Him as your King. If He is not your King then He is not your Savior. He must be your Ruler as well as your Redeemer."

To "break from" a familial relationship because one sees Him as a sufficient treasure is described by the Lord as an issue of how much more love one must have for Christ than for father and mother, etc., as the verse you quoted in the paragraph previous states: "whoever loves father and mother more than me is not worthy of me." The Lord is certainly raising the issue of the relative love we must have for him compared to that for our father and mother, etc. How then can you make it a condition of salvation, by saying that willingness to break from a familial relationship is required for salvation, since without it, "obviously you do not see Him as a sufficient treasure... do not want Him as your King ... He is not your Savior."

Mike Leake said...

Larry,

Wow, I can't believe you actually returned and commented :-) Thank you.

I now understand what you are saying, thanks for the clarity. I believe that I had miscommunicated in this particular sermon...thanks for pointing that out. Not sure that your charges in your first comment are warranted...but I see your point.

By no means am I attempting to reintroduce the Law or say that if you leave father and mother you are saved or that if you do not leave father or mother you are not saved. My point in saying that is to say look at where your heart is...this may be an indicator that Christ is not your King. I should have not spoken quite so absolutely in the original sermon.

Honestly, I am not looking at this as a prior to salvation but a looking back to see the work that Christ has done. But again, I understand the confusion...thanks for the clarity.

Mike Leake said...

One more thing for the sake of clarity...

My statement is not meant as a basis for salvation but as an evidence of salvation.

Granted I should not have spoken in such absolute terms...but the point stands that if you are not willing to break from a familial relationship for the sake of Christ can you actually say that Christ has changed you?

Larry said...

I see just now that there are two posts to respond to!

For contextualization, we are discussing "What makes Jesus such a sufficient treasure?" and "What about Jesus is so valuable?" and "Why is Jesus so precious?" and "What has Jesus accomplished for us?"

And the blogpost's original answer is "under this big heading of Substitution." Under the five "different benefits of Substitution" there is the first, Jesus "Our Righteousness."

Here is how the first benefit is well-explained: "He took the punishment of our unrighteousness and gave to us His righteousness." Amen.

And then the blogpost relates the story of Luther and the devil discussing all Luther's sins, Luther asking the devil repeatedly if the current list finishes all. Finally, the devil, having brought out lists after lists, perhaps he says, as we may continue, on our topic:

--
Devil: "Yes, Martin, that is everything. Except for one that was committed yesterday."

Luther: Which, of the many, do you refer?

Devil: Yesterday morning you were unwilling to love Christ more than your wife.

Luther: Indeed, I sinned against Christ in so doing.

Devil: I will not write upon that one, "the blood of Jesus Christ his Son covers all sin."

Luther: If it were up to you, you'd not write that on any of them. But it's not up to you. God has done so, Mt 1:21.
--

So, my original assertion was that you fell back, toward the end of the blogpost, to the insufficiency of Christ to save apart from a man's supreme love for Him as a necessary added condition. Yesterday bro I found an old-email that had this jump in it. That's what got me back to see you had originally asked for clarification. Let's continue to honor Christ by edifyingly discuss this, as the Lord leads.

I think I can show you that your two posts of yesterday show the same ambiguity that I was so sad for in the blogpost. Christ is sufficient ... but not really, if ....

The first post of yesterday said, very helpfully, that "by no means ... if you do not leave father or mother you are not saved."

The second post said, "if you are not willing to break from a familial relationship for the sake of Christ can you actually say that Christ has changed you?"

Let's bring out the presuppositions behind this rhetorical question. I say "rhetorical" because I gather that the answer expected is "no, I can't say that Christ has changed me, if I am unwilling to break from a familial relationship for the sake of Christ." The logic of the presupposition would then continue, "if Christ has not changed me, then I am not saved. Christ has not changed me. Therefore I am not saved."

Is it more difficult to break from a familial relationship than, to say, alter our Sunday schedules for the sake of Christ? Of course. That's the point of the standard Jesus states for love of him. To love father, mother, son, or daughter more than Christ is not to be worthy of him (Mt 10:37). The standard is a perfect standard, because nothing, loved more than him, is so great, that we do not fail to be worthy of Christ, when we love it more than him.

Look at the result. All the devil needs to do, to supposedly defeat the sufficiency of Christ, is to point out that we fail at doing the most difficult things, therefore supposedly Christ has not changed us, and we're not saved! How did this happen? How does a single failure topple the sufficiency of Christ?

Mike Leake said...

Larry,

I still think there is a misunderstanding here. By no means would I ever say that the sacrifice of Christ is not sufficient. I think the problem here is in our starting points.

And I am not saying that in a...yeah it's sufficient but NOT really...type of way. I really believe that Christ sacrifice is not only sufficient to save us but also sufficient to produce in us holiness.

Just to be clear I want to say that I do wish I would have not spoken in such absolute terms. If A is happening then B is the result.

Consider my audience. My audience at this particular point is not to a believer. My audience at this point is a person that is convinced that they are a believer but yet they are not bearing any fruit...this is just one example. The whole point of saying this is to say check your heart. Are you really trusting in Christ? Those that trust in Christ will produce fruit. Yes, not perfect fruit. And this fruit is not something that WE produce...it comes through our union with Jesus.

Let's go back to the example of a familial relationship. If I am counseling a believer that is saying I am having a hard time breaking from this relationship then we see a struggle there. That is common of every believer.

But if they are confronted with the call of Jesus and are stubbornly refusing to heed His command I do not see how Scripture gives any sort of warrant to say...well that's okay you made a profession of faith...this isn't necessary.

I am not saying that this person is definitly not saved or anything of the such. That is not my place to judge. But I am saying at this point a stubborn refusal to heed the call of Christ should cause you to call into question your claim of believing upon Christ as Lord. Often the Lord uses such a searching to spur on towards holiness and a deeper understanding of the gospel.

Again I am not saying that Christ cannot save us from our unbelief, or that He cannot save us from our lack of love and struggles of love. My entire point is to say if there is not a struggle there...not a basic desire for Christ...can you really say that you are a believer.

Larry said...

Sufficient is a word with a different meaning than "powerful." Something can be powerful, very powerful, yet insufficient for accomplishing xyz, Lk 14:28-30. If it's sufficient for accomplishing xyz, that's another thing than merely being powerful.

Mike I discovered your blogpost with Google back in 2008. May I say how I discovered it? I was so tired of reading over and over again how Christ is great, helpful, necessary even, but no more necessary to bring us to heaven than our works. A faith plus good works system for going to heaven. Since you are in school, I'll call this Trent. A "beginning with faith" system. This contradicts, just to scratch the surface of the number of explicit statements that can be cited, Eph 2:9. And Rm 3:27. And Jn 14:6. So I asked Google, which claims to search all cyberspace, is anybody anywhere saying anything about the sufficiency of Christ to save us from hell? And your blogspot came up.

Yesterday I read your first blogpost under this location. Your first blogpost was regarding caricatures of Jesus, whom you gave humorous names, but with a point. May I add to your points there? There is such a thing as a "Home Depot Jesus." This Home Depot Jesus gives you great, powerful stuff, to build a home to live in, but which you must use to build your salvation yourself. People LOVE that kind of thing. Even spiritually. Enterprising, gifted, self-confident people. He's necessary, but not sufficient. His stuff is great, but just a start. He gives you powerful stuff, but there's a tower to be built yet. He's powerful in Himself, but you can't rely on Him alone to save you. No solus Christus. You can't be saved from hell by relying alone on Him. No sola fide. The Home Depot Jesus doesn't Himself get it done. He doesn't do the whole job to save you from your sins, which is an insult to Mt 1:21. He's part of the way to the Father, but not the whole way. Learn highway construction, Jn 14:6. Learn home construction, Jn 14:2. More insults.

This caricatured, powerful but insufficient Jesus supposedly gives us power to do the rest of the work necessary to save us. How has this happened? How is it that we are telling people to trust Christ to save them, but what we really mean is that He's the Home Depot? That is the insufficient Jesus that I would like you to add to your list, bro. It's very sad.

Remember how I found your post! Christ is the all-sufficient treasure. We can exalt Christ for ever-so-extended a time, but if at the end, we make it necessary for heaven, for our good works, then all we've said is that He is a great, great, great -- starter package, and included a boast about our home building. Since you're in school, let's call that Babel.

I wanted, with your permission, to make these points without direct reference yet to your latest comments. Next, I'll ask regarding what you have recently said, some questions, to see how I understand you, whether it's what you mean, in light of these thoughts I've added here, on the sufficiency of Christ to save us.

Larry said...

Mike!

Great: "nowhere do I say that in order for man to be saved that he must first supremely love Christ...nor do I see this as an added condition. To do so would indeed be re-introducing the Law." Added, as in post-conversion? Gal 3:15!

Then, saying "If you are not willing to break from even the most basic familial relationship for the sake of Christ," you said this "may be an indicator that Christ is not your King," you commented that the in the earlier comment (over a year ago!) you "should not have spoken quite so absolutely." Very good. The British might say "quite good of you, old man." I gather that you don't wish to categorically pronounce on everyone: in your next post, you indeed say "I am not saying that this person is definitly not saved or anything of the such. That is not my place to judge."

So, revised, a person unwilling to break from even the most basic familial relationship for the sake of Christ should look at where their heart is, specifically whether this "may be an indicator that Christ is not your King." Pretend it wasn't you that said it, or I, or some authority you or I like or don't, not thinking about who's wrong or right, but just whether things are supportable, or else we should adopt some tentativeness, just as we would ask others to consider showing caution on things that we together can't support right now. But if Scripture refutes things, we should too, I would think! ;)

Understanding "not looking at this as prior to salvation," but "looking back" to see "the work that Christ has done."

This understanding is that the work that Christ does when saving someone who has any of the basic familial relationships described in Mt 10:37 besides all else, is discernible somehow in "where their heart is." The amount of time passing is not indicated, only that at some point, therefore, if there is a "looking back to see the work that Christ has done," then, when individuals do this, they are to look at "where their heart is." Part of looking at where their heart is, is whether they are "unwilling [or, presumably, willing] to break from even the most basic familial relationship."

In this understanding, if they are unwilling, this "may be an indicator that Christ is not your King." I hope I have not damanged the tentativeness you want.

Now, Mt 10:37: are there any qualifications? Is there any warrant to believe it does not apply to everyone and anyone whom it refers to?

It is a very categorial rule, is it not? It is one of those rules that are doubly stated with elaboration, I would venture to say, for solemnity and weight. "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me."

Do we have any reason to say that this is not as applicable to a mature Christian who loves father, etc., more than Christ, just as much as to the suspected imposter who no one has ever seen before?

Is this not a rule about competing allegiances? To love something, anything, even friend or activity that competes with our love of Christ, so that our love for that is greater than for Christ, means that we are unworthy of Him.

The question is what should be concluded about this inversion of loves. Is this sin for us to "look back and see the work that Christ has done, and notice that there "may be an indicator that Christ is not your King"? How could it be so, if a supreme love for Christ is not an added condition? It seems to have been added, tentitavely. If supreme love for Christ is not a post-conversion requirement for there to be salvation (cf. Jn 21:15), how can its lack be a tentative indicator of no salvation? Even Peter didn't gather that!

We're not talking about the general rule that "every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire" (Mt 3:10). We're talking about the specific rule about the necessity of a supreme love for Christ, without which we should tell everyone to check their salvation?

EVERY sin betrays a lack of supreme love for Christ.