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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Normal Christian Worships God

The Normal Christian Worships God

Hebrews 1:1-4, 8-12

"What kind of a Christian should be considered a normal Christian?"  That question deserves more discussion than it currently is arousing.

Some people claim to be normal Christians when actually they mean they are "nominal" Christians. My old dictionary gives this definition as one of the meanings of the word "nominal":

"Existing in name only; not real or actual; hence so small, slight, or the like, as to be hardly worth the name." 

With that as a definition, those who know they are Christians in name only should never make the pretension of being "normal" Christians.

Is the Lord Jesus Christ your most precious treasure in this world? If so, you can count yourself among normal Christians.

Is the moral beauty which is found only in Jesus Christ constantly drawing you to praise and worship? If so, you are indeed among those whom God's Word identifies as normal, believing, practising Christian.

But I can almost anticipate an objection. If someone is that delighted and that occupied with the person of Jesus Christ, is he or she not an extremist rather than a normal Christian?

Have professing Christians come to that time in their humanistic and secularistic leanings that they can sincerely deny that loving Jesus Christ will all their heart and soul and strength is normal Christianity? We must not be reading and studying the same Bible!

How can anyone profess to be a follower and a disciple of Jesus Christ and not be overwhelmed by His attributes? These divine attributes attest that He is indeed Lord of all, completely worthy of our worship and praise.

As Christians we like to say that we have 'crowned Him Lord of all', but we find it difficult to express what we really mean.

I have always been interested in the phrasing of one of our great hymns:

Lord of all being, throned afar,
Thy glory flames from sun and star;
Center and soul of every sphere,
Yet to each loving heart how near.

The Lord of all being is far more than the Lord of all beings. He is the Lord of all actual existence. He is the Lord of all kinds of being - spiritual being, natural being, physical being. Therefore, when we rightly worship Him we encompass all being.

When young people begin to colmprehend this truth of the highest position and stature in the universe accorded to Jesus Christ as Lord of all, they also begin to sense the importance of His call to a lifetime of loving service.

Many young people give themselves wholly to science and some to technology and some to philosophy or to music or the arts. When we worship the Lord Jesus Christ, however, we embrace and encompass all possible sciences and philosophies and arts. This is our answer to those in other religious backgrounds who are willing to accept that Jesus was a man but who do not accept His claim to be One with the Father as the eternal Son of God.

These other religionists contend that when we give worship to the man Jesus Christ, we are guilty of idolatry, becasue we, too, have confessed that He was a man. We do believe that Jesus came among us as the Son of Man, but we believe the entire record. That record informs us He was the only begotten of the Father. Thus Jesus was also God.

By the mystery of the Incarnation, Jesus Christ was fully united with men and women of the human race. The eternal plan was not to bring God down to man's level but for the Son to take humanity up into God. Thus we are to be joined in the beauty and wonder of the anthropic union - God and man in one.

The synopsis of this unique mystery involving God and man is just this: whatever God is, Christ is. When you are worshipping the Lord Jesus you are not displeasing the Father. Jesus is the Lord of all being, and He is the Lord of all life.

The apostle John has told us plainly in his first epistle that none of us would know anything about the meaning of life if Jesus had not come forth from the Father to show us the true meaning of eternal life. But He came, and as a result, John assures us, 'our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.'

The fact that Christ is now the fountain of life for redeemed and worshipping men and women was expressed simply in the meaningful hymn, 'Jesus Lover of My Soul', by Charles Wesley:

Plenteous grace with Thee is found,
Grace to cover all my sin;
Let the healing streams abound:
Make and keep me pure within.
Thou of life the Fountain art,
Freely let me take of Thee;
Spring Thou up within my heart,
Rise to all eternity.

We know that there are many kinds of life and we may be assured that Jesus is the Lord of all kinds of life. In the spring, we watch the new, eager buds on the trees and shrubs. They are ready to push themselves out and extend themselves into the blooming patternsof floral life.

Soon we expect to see the birds return. I do not forgive the birds too easily - they aresuch fair weather friends. On the dark and stormy days when we need them the most, they are in Florida! But they return each spring, expressing their own kind of lifeas they warble.

We begin to see the rabbits  and the other animals. They have their own kind of life. Christ is Creator and Lord of them all. Beyond these manifestations of life is the intellectual life, for instance - the life of imagination and dreams.

We know something also of the spiritual life. 'God is ... Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). God's eternal Son is our Lord. He is the Lord of angels and He is the Lord of the cherubim and seraphim. He is the Lord of every kind of life - this same Jesus.

In our day it is important that we find out Jesus Christ is the Lord of all wisdom and the Lord of all righteousness.

The sum total of the deep and eternal wisdom of the ages lies in Jesus Christ as a treasure hidden away.There is no kind of true wisdom that cannot be found within Him. All the deep eternal purposes of God reside in Him because His perfect wisdom enables Him to plan far ahead. All history becomes the slow development of His eternal purposes.

God in His wisdom is making evil men as well as good men,adverse things as well as favorable things work for bringing forth of His glory in the day when all shall be fulfilled in Him.

The Scriptures give us many delightful concepts of the manner in which Christ is the Lord of all righteousness.

Righteousness is not a word that is easily acceptable to lost men and women in a lost world. Someone will say, 'Oh, I will be staisfied if I can just get my hands on a good book dealing with ethics.' Outside of the Word of God, there is no book or treatise that can give us a satisfying answer about righteousness because the only One who is Lord of all righteousness is our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. A sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of  His kingdom. He is the only One in all the universe who has perfectly loved righteousness and hated iniquity.

In the Old Testament period, there was a picture of righteousness in the shadows of the temple system of worship. The high priest was instructed to enter into the Holy of Holies once each year to offer the sacrifices. He wore a mitre on his forehead and the Hebrew words engraved on the mitre would be translated in English, 'Holiness unto the Lord.' Our great High Priest and Mediator is the righteous and holy One - Jesus Christ, our risen Lord. He is not only righteous, He is the Lord of all righteousness.

Then, too, He is the Lord of all mercy. Who else would establish His kingdom upon rebels - rebels whom He himself has redeemed and in whom He has renewed a right spirit?

Think with me about beauty - and this One who is the Lord of all beauty. We know by our own reactionsand enjoyment that God has deposited something within the human being that is capable of understanding and appreciating beauty. God has put within us the love of harmonious forms, the love and appreciation of color and beautiful sounds.

What many of us do not understand is that all beautiful things, so pleasant to the eyes and ears, are only the external counter parts of a deeper and more enduring beauty - that which we call moral beauty.

In relation to Jesus Christ, it has been the uniqueness and the perfection of His moral beauty that has charmed even those who claimed to be His enemies throughout the centuries of history. We do not have any record of Hitler saying anything against the moralperfections of Jesus. One of the great philosophers, Nietzche, himself an instrument of antichristian forces in this world, died finally beating his forehead on the floor and moaning, 'That man Jesus I love. I don't like Paul.'

Nietzche objected to Paul's theology of justification and salvation by faith, but he was strangely moved within by the perfections of moral beauty found in the life and character of Jesus, the Christ, the Lord of all beauty.

We see this perfection in Jesus, but when we look closely at this world system and society, we see the terrible and ugly scars of sin. Sin has obscenely scarred and defaced this world, making it inharmonious and unsymmetrical and ugly, so that even hellis filledwith ugliness.

If you love beautiful things, you had better stay out of hell, for hell will be the quintessence of all that is morally ugly and obscene. Hell will be the ugliest place in all of creation. When rough-talking men say that something is 'as ugly as hell', they employ a proper and valid comparison. Hell is that reality against which all ugliness is measured.

That is a negative picture. Thank God for the positive promise and prospect of heaven's being the place of supreme beauty. Heaven is the place of harmonious numbers. Heaven is the place of loveliness. The One who is all beautiful is there. Heis the Lord of all beauty.

My brother or sister, earth lies between all that is ugly in hell and all that is beautiful in heaven. As long as we are living in this world, we will have to consider the extremes. Light and darkness. Beauty and ugliness. Much that is good and much that is bad. The things that are pleasant and those that are tragic and harsh.

Why? Because of the sense in which our world lies halfway between heaven's beauty and hell's ugliness.

Agaist that background let me report aperson who called me to ask this question: 'Mr. Tozer, do you think a person who is really a Christian can hurt another Christian?'

I was forced to say, "Yes, I think so."

Why is it that a man can be on his knees one day, praying earnestly, and the next day be guilty of offending or injuring another Christian?

I think the answer is because we are halfway between heaven and hell. It is because the shadows and light fall upon us.

The best answer is that we are being saved out of all of this. The Lord of all beauty is saving His people from the ugliness of sin. Our Lord Jesus Christ came to this ugly, selfish, violent world that He might save us and deliver us to a beautiful heaven.

We will never be able to comprehend the awful, terrible price the Lord of all beauty paid to gain our redemption. The prophet said of the Messiah to come, 'There is no beauty [in Him] that we should desire him' (Isaiah 53:2). I do not believe the artists have given a proper concept  of Jesus the man. They paint Him as a pretty man with a tender, feminine face. They ignore the statement that 'there was no beauty that we should desire him.'

Jesus was fully one of us, a strong Man among men. He apparently was so much like His disciples that Judas Iscariot had to make a special arrangement to earn his thirty pieces of silver. 'Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he' (Mark 14:44).

We may well say that when the eternal Son has taken on the form of a man, only His soul was beautiful. Only when He was suddenly transfigured on the mount did 'his face shine as the sun, and his raiment was while as the light' (Matthew 17:2). Only then did His closest disciples really see how beautiful He was. While He walked among men,  His perfect beauty was veiled.

There is an effective illustrationin the types and figures of the Old Testament reminding us of the adornments of grace and beauty that will makr the believing Body of Christ, the Church, being prepared as the bride awaiting the heavenly Bridegroom. It is the memorablestory of Isaac and Rebekah in Genesis 24. Abraham sent his trusted servant to his former homeland to select a bride for Isaac. Of course, Rebehah passed all the tests which Abraham's servant had posed. There is no statement concerning Rebekah's beauty, but presumably she was beautiful.

The adornment of her beauty consisted of the jewels and the raiment tht came as gifts of love from the bridegroom whom she had not yet seen.

It is a reminder of what God is doing in our midst right now. Abraham typifies God the Father; Isaac,our Lord Jesus Christ, the heavenly Bridegroom. The servant who went with his gifts into the far country to claim a bride for Isaac speaks well of the Holy Spirit, our Teacher and Comforter.

I ask, what is our real beauty as we are called out one by one to take our places by faith in the Body of Christ to await His coming? God has not left this to chance. He givesw us one by one the beauties, the gifts, the graces of the Holy Spirit, typified only imperfectly by those jewels and gems that the servant bestowed on behalf of Isaac. Thus  we are being prepared, and when we meet Jesus Christ as our coming Lord and King, our adornment will be our God-given graces and gifts. By that means it will be possible for us to stand with the One who is the Lord of all beauty!

If you do not know Him and worship Him, if you do not long to reside where He is, if you have never known wonder and ecstasy in your soul because of His crucifixion and resurrection, your claim of Christianity is unfounded. It cannot be related to the true Christian life and experience at all.

Meanwhile, I believe that we as Christians must become willing to allow every ugly thing in our lives to be crucified. We must indeed worship the Lord of all beauty in spirit and in truth. This is not a popular thing, for so many Christians insist that they must be entertained while they are being edified.

I have long been a student of the life and ministry of Albert B. Simpson, founder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance. I pass on to you his yearning that we may become so enamoured of God's good gifts that we fail to worship the Giver.

Dr. Simpson was once invited to preach at a Bible conference in England, on the assigned topic, 'Sanctification.' When he arrived, he discovered that he was to be on the platform with two other Bible teachers. All three of them had been given the same topic - 'Sanctification.'

The first speaker used his time in making clear his position that sanctification meant eradication. 'The sanctified person had has his or her old carnal nature removed, as you would remove a  weed from your garden - eradicated.'

The second speaker arose and set forth his view that sanctification meant supporession of the old nature. 'The "old man" will always be there,' he said, 'and your victory is tosit on the lid and keep him down and beat him at his own game. He must be suppressed.'

That wasnot an easy situation for Dr. Simpson, scheduled to be the third and final speaker.

He told the audience that hecould only present Christ Himself as God's answer. 'Jesus Christ is your Sanctifier, your sanctification, your all and in all. God wants you to get your eyes away from the gifts, the formulas, the techniques. He wants your gaze to be on the Giver, Christ Himself. He is your Lord; worship Him.'

That is a wonderful word for those who would worship rightly.

Once it was the blessing;
Now it is the Lord.

~A. W. Tozer~

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