Equality: A Biblical Perspective
Every person is equal in God's eyes, with equal opportunity to know Him…
"From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us." (Acts 17:26-27)
"So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them" (Genesis 1:27..."man" means mankind, or the human race. The “one man” referenced in Acts 17 is Adam).
"There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28...for our modern context I think we could add to this list!).
"All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23...the glory of God was God's original intent in making humankind in "His image and likeness" as quoted above. We were never meant to make distinctions based on physical characteristics, as we were all meant to share in God's glory--spiritual beings)
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:16…It all starts with God’s love. All we have to do is believe and receive eternal life—Christ’s life.)
"He who believes in the Son has eternal life; he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God rests upon him" (John 3:36...true belief leads to obedience. The question is: are you in Christ, having believed in Him, and actively living for Him now?).
Roman's 1:18ff, "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of people who suppress the truth in unrighteousness…”
—God has given every single person a choice: glorify Him as God, SHARING IN HIS VERY LIFE, or worship and serve something else, DESERVING WRATH.
2 Corinthians 5:16ff....God has reconciled THE WORLD to Himself. Those who receive this gift are a NEW CREATURE--forget the old. He has committed to us the "word of reconciliation..." take it to ALL PEOPLE, EVERYWHERE!
Wisdom: Watch and Wait for Life
“Now, therefore, O sons, listen to me, for blessed are they who keep my ways. Heed instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it. Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at my doorposts. For he who finds me finds life and obtains favor from the LORD. But he who sins against me injuries himself; all those who hate me love death.”
‘Wisdom’ is speaking this to all who will listen. It is required that one WATCH and WAIT, to the end that one would find life and favor from the LORD. Watching and waiting daily implies a relationship—walking with a person. To contrast, there is a warning to those who do not do this—they are on the path to injury and death.
The picture above was helping me to understand the spirit of these verses. One man has crossed a bridge to the castle of the king, has knocked at the door, and is waiting for the door to open. This is a picture of wisdom: watching and waiting for the LORD to show the way of life. The other man is trying to force his way into the castle—to get wisdom on his own, despising God’s wisdom. This person thinks he actually has power to obtain life on his own, stealing from the source of life, but this is actually the way of death! He won’t actually make it over the “wall” but will plummet to his own demise. WATCH AND WAIT FOR LIFE.
In John 14, Jesus says He is the “way, the truth, and the life.” Read verses 1-7 for some context, and we see that Jesus is comforting His disciples by reminding them of the dwelling place in His Father’s house which He is going to prepare for them. What is required of them is that they would keep their eyes on Jesus, obeying His word, while they watch and wait for His return (John 14:15-17). Remember that Jesus “became to us wisdom from God” (1 Cor. 1:30-31). While we wait for our redemption, we hold onto His righteousness and participate in His sanctification. It may not look like we are doing much as we entrust ourselves to Him.
In John 10:7-10, Jesus says, “I am the door of the sheep.” Sheep just entrust themselves to the shepherd. For those who are to take care of God’s flock, the only way to do so is by Christ. Watch and wait for His guidance and provision. If I force anything, I risk injury or demise to myself or others.
John 10:22-30. Jesus is speaking these things during the Feast of the Dedication. That was when the temple was rededicated in Jerusalem between the time of the OT and the NT. Macabees took it back from the Greek oppressors. He is saying that He is the only way to fully experience God’s presence and worship Him accordingly. Some WAITING but not WATCHING.
David wrote Psalm 30 to commemorate the first dedication of the Temple. David is waiting on the LORD, praising Him for deliverance. Jesus, the Davidic Messiah, fulfilled this once for all.
Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 6:19-20 that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit, accomplished through Jesus’ work on the cross. We have died to our efforts to obtain life on our own strength or wisdom. We don’t belong to ourselves. We would be wise to meditate on this, watching and waiting for Jesus’ instruction on how to glorify God in our bodies.
"Good" is Becoming Like Christ
Romans 8:28-29 “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called to His purpose. For those whom God foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren.”
The purpose God has for a man is that he be conformed to the image of Christ—this is the only good. In order to do that, He has to cause everything that happens in his life to work out for that end goal. That is what it means to work out for good. So, no matter whether it is good or bad, hot or cold, high or low, rich or poor, life or death, all that happens to a man that loves God will be an instrument in God’s hand to shape that man into a son that is like Christ. God foreknows those who will come to love Him, for there is no man who starts out in this life loving anything but himself. But there will be some who will turn toward the Lord. For them, God has determined to work in them to completion, the purpose He destined for man, which is to be sons.
God’s intention for humanity was always to have children in His image and likeness (Gen. 1:26).
Romans outlines this plan, how we fell, and how God redeems us.
Romans 1—God has clearly shown Himself, yet mankind exchanged God’s glory for his own.
Romans 2—God’s judgment is on the disobedient whether or not they had the Law.
Romans 3—There is only righteousness in Christ. We are only righteous by faith in Christ.
Romans 4—Abraham was an example of justification by faith alone—received promise of new life—eternal/resurrected life—in Christ. He “went out not knowing where he was going”—left the old life (Heb. 11).
Romans 5—Our tribulations prove the surpassing value of God’s grace in Christ—we live eternal life now.
Romans 6—Being alive in Christ, we should now be dead to sin and slaves to His righteousness.
Romans 7—We are literally joined to Christ as His body, bearing fruit apart from the Law, which was God’s means to turn us to the Savior who sets us free.
Romans 8—We are no longer condemned, and we should be subjecting ourselves to the power of the Holy Spirit through our sufferings, in light of the hope of one day standing victoriously with Christ, a new creation.
“Conforming to the image of Christ” entails a present experience of transformation in light of the future reality of perfection in Him. This is something God has accomplished, not based on our merit or effort. I cannot help but dwell on the tension in Romans. God has accomplished it, yet there is a participation on our part which God, in His grace, allows. There is a life in us which God wants to reveal to His creation. He uses everything to get the natural life out of the way. We simply have to let go of that life. While we do that, Jesus Christ is glorified. It is like a pottery mold…we, as the clay, have to submit to fitting in the mold—useless material is thrown away. After the fires in the oven, it is now evident what was intended—something beautiful and useful.
We have been converted from a lump of dirt, prepared in many ways, to a beautiful work of art—a child of God.
Now the pottery needs glazed to contain what was intended. This pot has a light inside. We have been sealed by the Holy Spirit with a promise of redemption--glorification (Rom. 8:16-18; Eph. 1:13-14).
Now as children of God, we endure suffering—the pot is cracking—to show the glories of Christ’s life in us. One day, the pot will be completely removed and all that will remain is light--Sanctification.
2 Cor. 4:3-6—Good news: God is offering all His glory and image
2 Cor. 4:7-12 …(picture of a cracked pot with light escaping). The treasure inside us is the light/glory of God—This to show that there is a life greater than the natural one.
Hebrews 12:25-29…We have an unshakeable kingdom and unshakeable life—let’s endure, serving God!
Hebrews 11:32-40, “And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.
Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others experienced mocking and scourgings, yes also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground. And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart form us they would not be made perfect.”
***Up to this point, the writer of Hebrews has expounded on some specific exemplars of faith:
Abel—Faith is remembering and pleading for God’s mercy.
Enoch—Faith is walking with and seeking God.
Noah—Faith is actively preparing for God’s redeemed creation. (beyond just the flood event)
Abraham and Sarah—Faith is utter obedience to God with His promise of eternal life in view.
Jacob—Faith: remembering, resting in, and receiving God’s righteousness (perfection in Christ)
Joseph—Faith is recognizing true prosperity is becoming perfect in God’s presence.
Moses—Faith is treasuring Christ above all else.
Joshua/Rahab/Jericho—Faith is surrender to Christ.
verses 32-40 can be broken up into two sections.
—32-34 describes triumphant acts in their present time
—35-40 describes suffering with a hope of receiving a future promise of perfection yet to come
—that promise of perfection is the “better resurrection” (Heb. 11:35) which we will experience in a new, perfect kingdom (Heb. 12:25-29)
—What is required of us is that we will not refuse Christ in anything (Heb. 12:25) even in the face of immense persecution (Heb. 11:35—they did not accept their release by denying Christ). We need to be okay with being or appearing homeless (Heb. 11:37-38). We need to be okay with the world thinking lowly of us (Heb. 11:38).
—As we keep the faith, we will have God’s approval. That is our victory. Faith is the power to suffer victoriously.
This is all really walking in Christ’s victory (See Hebrews 12:1-2).
All our suffering is to prove we have an unshakeable life in Christ (Heb. 12:27-28).
Do I hold onto shakeable things?
Do I look for approval from anything else but the LORD?
1 Peter 2:21-25—We can endure suffering because Christ did.
1 Peter 1:3-9…The ultimate reward of faith in Christ—our victorious king—is the salvation of our souls.
Romans 8:16-23…We are children of God by faith. He has given us power to overcome any suffering, knowing our hope of eternal life through the Holy Spirit.
This is the blog of Tyler Shepard, the Associate Pastor for Centre Union Church in Yeagertown, PA.
I hope you are encouraged and challenged to walk more closely with Jesus Christ!