Unmasking Jesus: The Purpose of Temptation

unmasking2

The idea of Jesus Christ being tempted has been the focal point of debate, and imagination in many in the last 2,000 years. Sources like Hollywood, and The New York Times bestsellers list have taken liberties with how a thing can be. As we step back and reflect perhaps the question we should be asking is why was Jesus tempted?

The person of Jesus is defined as the God man, the hypostatic union that is the combonation of the union between the divine nature of Jesus with the human element. Genesis 3:15 is the first mention of this as he would be born of woman and not of the conventional means that which would override the sin nature that falls on the shoulders of all image bearers under the headship of Adam the first man. (Psalm 51) The debate of the nature of Jesus has been of much debate as many in the faith have not physically seen him but the scriptures in their inerrant testimony of God’s meta-narrative redemptive movements give complete documentation of who Jesus is. In Matthew 4 and Luke 4 Jesus after being baptized is tempted in the wilderness and the question posed is even as a man how can God be tempted?

Man was created in the image of God in the creation event in Genesis 1 and 2 where God in three persons planned out and made man in his image to reflect him both physically, and spiritually as man was made to be a living spirit. God had man in his image socially as he had given Adam a helper the first woman, Eve whom Adam the first man was set to reflect God in three areas: as a worker, a wise man, and a warrior. These roles were given to Adam to up hold practicing godly wisdom as he is given knowledge and instruction naming animals, and instructing his wife cultivating her in God’s teachings. Genesis 3 marks the change in history where man rebels against God cursing all men are cursed to live in sin, born spiritually dead. (Romans 5:12, Psalm 51) Genesis 3:15 enters in the proto-gospel of the one who will crush the head of the serpent and who will mend the relationship between God and man. The cross itself originated in the mind of Jesus himself as he knew from that moment that he would be brought low become a man, live a life that reflects the one that Adam and Eve were originally intended to live as the last Adam, and dying on the cross atoning the sins of man. Sin is an infection that is deep rooted and is the present in the natural man who is born into spiritual still born state that is opposed to God. At it’s essence it’s ‘the failure to conform to the moral law of God in act, attitude, or nature.’ (Grudem. 490) It’s root is rebellion and blooms into everything from lawlessness to faithlessness and all in between with the common denominator being death. Sin takes the form of everything from being a piece of fruit that was forbidden to eat, to riches, fame, fun, it’s formless and yet is the shape of anyone’s desire. It’s however the thing that promises quick reward apart from God, and is against God making it’s effects to be devastating to those whom feel the reprocussions.

While sin effects can range from major to minor and often times are overlooked they ultimately are against God at it’s core. (Psalm 51:4) Temptation however is the alluring call to sin that provides foothold into one’s life if they are to accept fellowship with it but is not sin. Jesus is counted as being he who knows no sin but became sin upon the cross for all but is tempted himself in the wilderness in Matthew 4, and Luke 4 the account of which Christ is confronted by sin that offers him temptations that go against the grain offering short cuts in his ministry and are crossless means in which of winning over the world trumping God’s override and destruction of his image bearers.

Jesus himself is the fulfillment of over 300 prophesies concerning his coming, his virgin birth, his life, his ministry, death, and resurrection leading up to the day of the Lord in accurate detail. Jesus is presented as the second member of the trinity as he has provided characteristics in his coming that he only can have in common with God himself that being his omnipotence as he is able to read minds (Mt. 9:4), walk on water (Mt. 14:22-33), raises the dead (Mark 5:21-43, Luke 7:11-17, John 11:1-44) performs miracles having two members of the trinity present at his baptism, providing testimony to his credentials as God. He is also revealed in the transfiguration as being God to his disciples as they are shown Moses, and Elijah in the presence of Jesus transfigured before God the father. (Matthew 17) The evidence surrounding Jesus being fully God and fully man is documented and witnessed by those present and heavenly hosts who proclaimed his coming to the surrounding public. His presence as the messiah sent by God even confirmed being presented at the temple in Luke Chapter 2 the scriptures themselves are presented as the inerrant testimony of God breathed out (2 Tim. 3:16). So the argument of Jesus’s divinity is undeniable, and his birth his capacity to feel and relate in weakness to man is also before us in the scripture that as he lived, breathed, and ate he was fully God and there is no separating the two pieces of Christ’s person.

So how then can Christ as being fully God and man be tempted even if he doesn’t carry the curse, and mark of sin?

God is sovereign and is the same God that under his sovereignty oversaw indirectly Satan enter into the garden to tempted Adam and Eve. Is the same sovereign God that would allow himself to be tempted in the same weakness that brought him low to save his beloved creation while Jesus was fully God he is complete with personality and has displayed full spectrum of emotions, and desires to do the will of the father whom had sent him. As Jesus did not know sin as the first Adam pre-fall didn’t know it either was still armed with the same knowledge of identity, commands from God wasn’t tempted by the normal things that the natural man could be tempted by women, fame, money, finite power the things that sin offers one to gain in place of God as the object of the worship.

Satan is only able to tempt Jesus with short cuts that reveal his character of being finite, but still short cuts that stray from the path to the cross, and into the dead ends of finite broken, and empty avenues of Lordship that yes would provide absolute quick and temporary imitations of peace and security of God’s will but nothing that would provide man with the eternal promise that we do know in Christ but instead would have offered a burned bridge leaving man under the full condemnation of God himself.

The purpose in Christ’s temptation wasn’t a matter of whether or not could Jesus pass the test in order to become messiah he already was the messiah with identity in tact. In fact the purpose of the temptation was to display the power of God’s word and the ability that it has for freedom over sin, and temptation. As Christ was in the wilderness there comes a parallel between the first Adam in paradise in Genesis 3 being tempted and falling, and Jesus the last Adam being the first born of the dead turning to God in the midst of temptation in a barren wasteland distant from God and succeeding. The temptation is set to serve as a model that Jesus set the bar that as distant as one can come from God can still overcome bondage through his word, and submission to his commands.

Philippians 2:5-11 Jesus came in poured out servitude that serves as the bar that one who calls himself a disciple needs to meet. The temptation is meant to serve as the model one needs to come to in the face of temptation leaving people without the excuse to continue in their sin while Christ’s sacrifice pays for it the practice of it by no means should continue. “Satan gives Adam and apple and takes away paradise. Therefore in all temptations let us consider not what he offers but what we shall lose.”- Richard Sibbes. God cannot be tempted (James 1:13) and for God to be subject to temptation is not for the benefit that he himself can beat down on the principalities of darkness which he will eventually do, but rather endure so that he may lead others through trials as an example to imitate that reflects God himself into the darkest places.

Works Cited

Drisoll, Mark. Breshears, Gary. Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe. Wheaton, IL. Crossway. 2008. Print.

Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology. Grand Rapids, MI. Zondervan. 1994. Print.

Lewis, C.S. Mere Christianity. New York, NY. Harper One. 1952. Print.

Pentecost, J. Dwight. A Harmony of The Words and Works of Jesus Christ. Grand Rapids, MI. Zondervan. 1981. Print.

Wilkinson, Bruce. Boa,Kenneth. Talk Thru The Bible. Nashville, TN. Thomas Nelson. 2002. Print.

Advertisements

What Defines The Church?

albert_huizing_iv_charlottetown_pei_crc_6

You are probably thinking that a church is defined by a house, building, and cookie cutter suburbanites and grandparents right? Wrong the church is made up of an eclectic group of people, but with all this diversity and relatablity the church is suppose to represent. What defines a church? What defines Christian ministry?

In the letter to the Philippian church by the Apostle at a glance is a letter of Paul himself communicating to a church he helped plant, raise and had communication with since he beginnings as a 1st century church planter. He is anticipating his release from prison and he’s looking reaching out to encourage and edify these people who are supporting him in his imprisonment like the people who take to the street and protest in the modern day they are a people with a cause to rally around having their founding pastor imprisoned. Paul himself is not in a defeated position, or spirit as he lays the ground work for not just deep theology to be preached from the pits of Roman jail but he’s overflowing with a supernatural joy that also spills out the philosophy of ministry that he not just lays for this church but to all the saints whom are to come. In this Paul’s establishing the principles that allows the church to become the true community of believers for all time, to allow them to have both a visible presence yet an invisible presence at the same time, as God sees them having the dual access to be the relatable presence to the hostile world around them.

Verses 1:12-26 Paul really polishes the beginning showcase the true motives of someone and the church in how they conduct themselves in preaching, teaching, and raising more and better disciples. That is Christ revealed, and the kingdom of God and his kingly rule he is quick to identify those in his time who are preaching and teaching from all kind of imitations, and manners in which draw varying reactions, and gain a lot of attention in the body. Paul cuts to the bone in highlighting that the vessel of which Christ is proclaimed should not be the focus of the church or how it’s packages but the contents itself in which it holds as Jesus himself is the motive. (Grudem. 863) The people themselves are not the kingdom but a society of men under God’s rule which in itself is the kingdom and they are the instrument of which it’s used in it’s proclamation. The focus of Christ being the faithful center piece of any movement of any ministry as Paul lays this out the mark of which is his joy and celebration as his affliction is serving the overflow of a Christ centered in the middle.

This is to attribute to the advancement of the gospel by living Christ coram deo the mark of which is the presence of joy that is the lifestyle we are called to; it’s attributed the philosophy Paul is bringing to the church and it’s the very presence of God himself that comes from Christocentric motives, and mission.

“Joy is a lifestyle that celebrates the forward progress of the gospel of Jesus Christ.” -Mark Driscoll

Paul then moves in verses 2:17-30 to give way to the example of service that the church should embody as Christ’s representatives. Ministry should embody purity, and humility that is to serve as light to contrast the world around them. He uses Timothy and Epaphroditus as the examples credentialing them to the church to not only vouch as one would co-sign for credit on a loan but to highlight to church as to the type of character one should be striving towards as the mark of the godly fruit that they bare. This goes in conjunction to the Christ like example that Paul writes to the church in verses 5-11 in chapter 2 as Christ himself had poured himself out as a sacrifice coming to serve to ultimately ascend and every conscience in creation will bow in humble recognition of his Lordship. The servant should willing to be seen for the sake of Christ and to be the example of faith that is seen by the world that represents in that scene of those whom he or she is also in connection with. The imprisonment is joy, the unity in the church is joy, and the opportunity to serve in a capacity that is not ideal, or even looked down upon is also joy. The servant is being called to a lifestyle of joy that extends past the momentary and in that joy the gospel is being progressed either spoken, and/ or unspoken to greater make him known among the nations. This type of man that is described in Timothy, and Epaproditus is what should be retained and valued versus the men whom seek godly means in which to elevate and promote themselves among God’s people. Joy progresses the gospel, the means in which joy is exacted in the servant is selfless service that speaks outside of the box and is an overflow into their actions. This speaks out to the fulfillment of Matthew 5:13:16 as a Christian’s influence to be both salt and light they extend beyond themselves as a city on a hill that can be seen for miles a people serving a world willing to persecute them. (Stott. 57) Salt in itself on an elemental level is stable and can withstand attack and can sustain itself against that which comes against it, but can become contaminated among other impurities. In the credentialing from verses 19-30 Paul is laying out that these men of God and men that need to be retained in God’s regenerate community that in itself has the ability to be stable as salt itself. Many people in the first century just like they do today come with the guise of the Christian veneer and lifestyle but do not produce the reflection of Christ as true believers and servants of God do. Matthew 7:16, and John 8:12 Jesus says two things that ‘You shall know a tree by the fruit it bares’, and ‘I am the light of world’. Meaning that people are more universal than they than they are unique and you can always tell who they really are by the transparency that they have or lack of in which to discern if God’s presence is really with them. Ed Marcelle used the analogy once in a sermon where he compares the believer to a mirror that is broken or shattered the life of which the believer is spent allowing Christ to assemble those pieces back together so that they may better reflect his presence in their life. The true servant of God is one that is light and reflects God in their life, their worship, their prayer life there is no lack of transparency for them to hide because they are a reflection of Christ before man.

Ministry is also men and women who are righteous through their faith there can be no merits in man if there was the cross would not have been needed. Christ does elevate man from unworthiness to a place of deserving poor faith in Christ is based solely on his mercy and cannot rest on the substitutions that we bring to the table ourselves. John 3:16 gives a perfect picture of the great exchange, and is the fulfillment of the redemption mode in which Christ was prophesied to take in Zechariah 3:10. Even more so the basis of faith is extended back to the sacrificial testing of Abraham and God providing the means of redemption in which man can live righteously in fellowship with him.

The faithful are not fools though as Paul speaks of being weary of the enemies of the cross, the unfaithful, mentioning them as dogs as we have looked at being able to exercise godly wisdom. Paul speaks into the original identity that God had given pre-fall man of being workers, wise man, and warriors. As they are called to godly wisdom in being able to discern the character of those around them, speak the revealed truth of the gospel of Christ Jesus, and know humility and truly understand having Christ being the object of their worship and not the things around them or even who they were before they had come to know Christ in faith. They are also able to strive in one body, spirit, and one solid movement that reflects a unified body, and Paul uses himself as the example to model in a how-to fashion as his position is to nurture, mold and guide the church, and the communities at large. The areas of workers, and warriors are those who hear this call, and obeys while at the same time securing the godly balance, and presence.

Finally in the last part of Paul’s letter he hones in; in chapter 4:8-20 Paul really reveals that ministry should not be something left for the younger generation to figure out. He in fact through the letter to the church uses himself as the example in which they are to use like a teacher who’s giving a demonstration. By doing this there is no room for new things to bring to the Christian faith rather it is more or less an old fashioned demonstration of how one lives out obedience, in faith, and maintains transparent spiritual integrity as salt and light that results in a lifestyle that celebrates the gospels forward progress. This is not something that is done a lone and the whole of Paul’s ministry to the church in Philippi is that it is one rooted in joy but done in community the missional piece of ministry that Paul pours out is one that is intentionally in community from his prayers, concerns, and reception of gifts from them and his dispatchment of Timothy and others to and from the church is that while Christ is the central crown jewel of ministry, and the godly positions that the believer is privy to that is restored through Jesus and faith. Through maintaining the path, the frame work is meant to serve the people of God under submission to God revealing the effectual calling of God into himself.

Ministry is defined loosely in the modern day as any church and has been raised up and organized to mean, serve, and establish the church presence in community. While there is variation of experience, and attempt to find fresh ground in Christ as a missional community Paul’s presentation to the Philippians church can be summed up as, ‘The Lifestyle of Joy’. Flowing from which comes the piece of the forward progress of the gospel of Jesus Christ as joy is the effectual mark of his presence and from that wells the overflow that will pour out onto the community that the church is set to serve as a missional and monastic presence. At the essence the goal is worship of God which as John Piper has said that, “The ultimate goal of the church is worship, missions exist because worship doesn’t.”

Ministry is not the presentation of the people that occupy it’s organization, or fit within the services each week but is the right presentation of our God, and his gospel as his redemptive movements that offers spiritual resuscitation, and restoration. Ministry is the presentation of God’s presence among mankind, and offers us the same reassurance of his presence that ancient Israel, and even the 1st century church had who were able to dine, and touch Christ himself. The lifestyle of joy is his mark, and that ministry is about a God who fully present, and fully loving as he is reflected amongst his people like broken mirrors, offering salt.

Works Cited

Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology. Grand Rapids, MI. Zondervan. 1994. Print.

Stott, John, R.W. The Message of The Sermon on The Mount. Downers Grove, IL. Inter Varsity Press. 1978. Print.

Lewis, C.S. Mere Christianity. New York, NY. Harper One. 1952. Print.

Pentecost, J. Dwight. A Harmony of The Words and Works of Jesus Christ. Grand Rapids, MI. Zondervan. 1981. Print.

Wilkinson, Bruce. Boa,Kenneth. Talk Thru The Bible. Nashville, TN. Thomas Nelson. 2002. Print.

The Sky Boys: Last Night on Earth

When I heard your name the electric left breathe huddled as the air stood stail. Comma times new roman those eyes track the words from synaptic misfires as the catalytic foam washes over and I am void with out reason.

Hearts like these never carry far so heavy as we untie, unravel as the floor escapes the flood light of the back yard. Sweating across this night time scene we shrugg our chains.

Hopes float in release as the air tastes in hints of fall like the first inhales of autumn we fair like the waves of innocent waving in and out of time. Superstitions retracted as the unknown looks back in fear from where we could have gone knowing where we are. Houses calm as the wind hits my face the ticking of our hearts drum like music against our worst fears. Looks disengage from what was a burial ground is a tar mat for take off.

Hands in unison we fly in tears as where we had been found dead a float is the point of reference. We are tail lights in the wind. 

The Sky Boys: Part 1—Skylines

Substance bleeds in like foreign sunlight no ghosts fill the ashes the former vast like diamonds. Faces haunt the windows as they were a gazed fixed eternally on the well in chests now nostalgically asthmatic. Uphill the climb to be a fixture of decay as the neck ties, turn into coast lines, then into skinned knees on bike rides racing towards the scene of crimes long atoned for. 

Elegant the waltz of careful comfort as fear escapes the ridges of wounds self inflicted. The ankles of the heart perpetually sprained over and over as the fingers trace the way back home around the lip of the same cup of coffee. That’s evaporated into the eye lids that never open in this haunted house there is a depth that is carved out in this man like a key in a book that no one is allowed to read. It’s kept on a shelf in a house constantly being demolished in rubble built upon rubble. 

There is a sovereign hand that peels back layers refined in justice for this sprain. Contoured is the hollows of this hand as the dream is allowed to properly decay. Grey morning skies tremble in as grace flumes around in the air in the front porch light. Unwilling to leave as sweet conditions illuminates the inward image as the glass breaks. The inward sinking is properly buried as the dim look one gives a burial at sea inside a fresh meadow overlooking a patch of trees, grave, and a well. No longer does one linger in the same dead end streets that promise promises with its sunsets, and romance. There is no longer hair styles that can tame the desire of where we are going. There is is just a soft voice in white that leads on.