The greatest miracle ever to take place was not the standing still of the sun over Joshua’s battle or water coming from the rock by the striking of Moses’ rod. The greatest miracle ever to take place was the incarnation of Almighty God, which took place when Jesus Christ was born many years ago of the virgin Mary. The magnitude of this miracle follows from its stunning implications: that the God who created the world around us, who formed each of us in the darkness of our mothers’ womb, who cannot be contained in temples made with human hands, assumed the form of a servant, took upon himself our human nature, was wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid to sleep in a manger! The preciousness of this miracle to every believer is found in God’s purpose in performing it. Jesus Christ, the Son of God incarnate, was not born to gratify our sentimentality during the holiday season. He was not born as the poster child for world peace to be displayed in nativity scenes across the nations. He was born for our salvation, which he would accomplish when he grew into the man who hung on the cross and was raised again three days later for our justification.
“Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness” (Col. 3:12–14).
Most of us have a wardrobe at home in which we keep our clothes. Every day we open the wardrobe and we put on some of the clothes that we store there. Perhaps we have clothes that we wear on special occasions. Perhaps we have a summer wardrobe and a winter wardrobe. Perhaps there are items of clothing that we wear frequently, for they belong to our favorites. We have other items that we seldom wear. Perhaps we have our “Sunday best.”
In these verses Paul calls the Colossians—and he calls us—to put on various items. Of course, the apostle writes figuratively. He is not interested in our clothes or fashion as such. He is interested in our “spiritual wardrobe.” He urges us to put on certain spiritual clothing.
Dear Rev. McGeown,
In your third blog post on the RFPA blog recently, “Abiding in Christ’s Love” (Nov. 18, 2019), you wrote the following: “Peter had to learn that the hard way: when he denied Jesus, he did not abide in the consciousness of Jesus’ love. Jesus loved Peter, but Peter had to weep bitterly with tears of repentance—which were the fruit of God’s grace—before he came to the renewed assurance of Jesus’ love for him.”
With delight this new book by author Martyn McGeown, missionary-pastor of the Limerick Reformed Fellowship, is heartily recommended to the reading public!
In this new publication the author addresses what by his own confession is “the greatest miracle in history”: the incarnation, birth, and childhood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (1).
We have seen the beautiful affirmation of Christ’s love for us. We have heard Christ’s exhortation to abide or continue in his love. We now come to the most controversial aspect of the text, for Jesus connects our abiding in Christ’s love to the keeping of his commandments in verse 10—“If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love” (v. 10). On the face of it, Jesus seems to be teaching conditional salvation or (at the very least) conditional experience of salvation. Does Christ’s use of the word “if” indicate a condition that we must fulfill in order to abide in his love?
Before Jesus departs from his disciples on the night of his arrest and trial, he assures them of his love. His love for his disciples—and for believers in every age—is as the Father’s love for him: “As my Father hath loved me, so have I loved you” (v. 9). What beautiful words to cheer the troubled souls of the disciples and to comfort our fearful hearts!
We are familiar with Christ’s beautiful figure of a vine and its branches in John 15. However, what is less familiar is the idea of “abiding” found in the same chapter. To “abide” is to remain, to stay, or to continue, where the verb “abide” (translated in various ways) occurs eleven times in vv. 1–11. Jesus speaks of different kinds of “abiding.” First, there is Christ’s abiding in us (v. 4–5)—that is fundamental. Second, there is the abiding of Christ’s words in us (v. 7). Third, there is our abiding in Christ (vv. 4–5, 7). Finally, and the subject of this blog post, there is our abiding in Christ’s love.
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