“Apart from Christ we can only experience the wrath of a dishonored and distant God Who “is angry with the wicked every day” (Psa 7:11). But in Christ God has become to us a reconciled God, a promising God, a glorified God, and a God near to us. Erskine opens up a great deal of the glory of grace that we see when we view God in Christ.” – – Ralph Erskine http://www.chapellibrary.org/book/gich/god-in-christ
Jesus lived God’s welcome to sinners. He embodied God’s mercy. He was known as a friend of sinners… The religious people didn’t like it, because it turned their proud systems of self righteousness upside down… But Jesus sat down to eat with prostitutes, adulterers, and porn addicts. |~ Tim Chester
In looking at the indicative clauses of Colossians 3:12-16 we are told that we are God’s chosen ones. There is much in that. I feel somewhat like a Lloyd-Jones here, but I want to slow down and reflect on this – like… word… for word. In slowing down, I want to think about whose we are.
Colossians 3:12 reflects the who of our identity, it is who we are in Christ. But this short statement begins with a possessive. So not only does it tell us who we are, but whose we are. That’s the focus of this post.
Whose We Are
We are God’s. We are His chosen. We belong to Him.
We are His possession.
And this in Christ and by Christ and for Christ.
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. Titus 2:11-14
Jesus Christ, our Great God and Savior, gave Himself:
- to redeem us
- to purify for Himself a people for His own possession
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
We are the possession of another, namely God in/through/by/for Christ. This passage is another example of the way the indicative precedes the imperative. Whose are we? Not our own. Whose are we? We are God’s, having been bought at a price.
So on 19th December 2015, we AuckWards left Auckland, on the first leg of our journey. This first leg took us to Wanganui where we stayed with Peter, Ruth, Jonathan, Hannah, Davy, Daniel, and Amalia van den Brink.
The following day I preached at Wanganui Grace Presbyterian Church in the morning and later in the evening we assumed the second leg of our journey. This took us to Wellington where we crossed Cook Strait on Bluebridge Ferry at 2:30am, it now being Monday 21st December 2015. We had the luxury of a private cabin and the ability to sleep most of the way across.
This landed us in Picton from whence we travelled to Nelson for the day and then onto Blenheim for the night. We stayed locally thanks to Airbnb, a service we used in 2014 for our trip around the North Island. This was the day that NZ had record high temperatures, especially in the South Island.
Leg three was onto Christchurch along the east coast of the South Island via Kaikoura. We were booked to stay with another Airbnb host, but this fell through and we ended up staying at the City Centre Motel thanks to booking.com. This ended up being a far better set up to what we had previously booked so it wasn’t too bad an ordeal. The weather, however, had packed in and so we went looking for warmer clothes, but were unable to find acclimatizing apparel at the Westfield Riccarton.
It was Wednesday 23rd when we finally arrived “there”, our “destination” – Invercargill. This means Christchurch to Invercargill was the fourth leg of our journey. We continued down the east coast of the South Island. The highlight was probably Oamaru for reasons including the whisky taste testing at The New Zealand Whisky Company.
Our first day in Invercargill left us unable to maintain our defence that the place isn’t nearly as cold as what the rest of the country thinks with heaters on and a fire lit.
Here is a picture of the getting there part of our holiday. A huge credit is due to Ashley, my lovely, wife, who did all but a very small fraction of the driving from Papakura to Invercargill over the course of 4 days. It wasn’t long after arriving in Invercargill that the trip counter registered 2000km.
They came by the thousand. A constant and steady stream of people.
I guess this is what it would have been like when people were leaving Jerusalem on their way home from feasts. But they would have left tired, having exerted themselves with ritual and celebration.
This time people were coming to Bethany with the same kind of anticipation they would have had when they were approaching Jerusalem – especially if it marked the end of a long and arduous journey – you know, like the last dash at the end of a marathon – when all you have left is, well… the energy comes from somewhere.
And those coming weren’t all that sure what they were coming to see. As Jesus once asked us “What did you go out to see?” What were people expecting? A tent meeting and a well-dressed and well-intended crusade evangelist?
Day after day they would come. Day after day John would preach and baptise. The same message, the same method, but always with sincerity and life-changing power. People came. People heard. People responded to what they heard. It really did seem as if people were genuinely convicted of their sin; moved to both confession, repentance, and baptism.
One day things changed. Things were different. The crowds came – from Jerusalem, from Judea, from the South East. John preached. John baptised.
But then something unusual happened. You see, people usually came in groups, like hundreds at a time, and never alone.
Not this one. He came alone. He came from the opposite direction. He came from the North East. I am not sure when John saw Him, but John stopped. It was very unusual for John to be interrupted like this, even amidst the flood of emotional expression, John just kept on with the message and the method.
He stopped. He stopped talking. He just stood there. He seemed to be squinting at this lone traveller as if trying to figure out His facial features – unsure where he’d seen Him before.
The man from the North East approached the crowd and the crowd parted like the red sea, a wall of standing soldiers on either side. It was then that John knew.
John knew that this crowd parting traveller was the long-expected one, the one, the strap of whose sandals he was unworthy to bend down and untie. This was part of John’s message. Every day we’d hear about this coming Great One. And everyday there was a growing sense of anticipation as if to ask “Is today the day?” or as people came forward for baptism “Is this the one?”
The closer He got, the more the shadows of doubt were evicted from our hearts and minds. This is the one. This was the Great One John had said would come.
We had no idea just how great!
The Story of His Coming.
As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way, the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,'” John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” (Mark 1:2-8)
Here is an article I wrote about Nola Young back in 2011 when she got sick leading to the Young’s relocation to Auckland.
I left church last night with a certain sense of uneasiness and uncertainty over something someone had said to me.
As I drove home, one of the verses “spoke to me” – addressing the uneasiness and uncertainty.
“The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple” Psalm 119:130
Scripture Memory FTW!