Thursday, June 9, 2016

"First Verse, Last Verse"

"First Verse, Last Verse"  

    The Bible begins with God's existence and working.

    "In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth" (Genesis 1:1).

    Two primary truths proceed from this affirmation, namely, the Lord transcends His creation in existence and in power.  As the originator of all things, He necessarily existed before them.  Moreover, as the Maker and Provider of all space, mass, and time, His ability necessarily transcends the things and powers of His physical handiwork.  The Apostle Paul addresses these two revelations of Divine transcendence in his epistles to the Romans and the Colossians:

   "The invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and godhead" (Romans 1:20).
    "He is before all things, and by Him all things consist" (Colossians 1:17).

    In its first verse, the Bible opens with the proclamation of God's otherness.  He is transcendently greater in both existence and power than the things He made.   The Bible's last verse, however, beckons the Creator, the Lord Jesus Christ, to visit and involve Himself in His creation.  "Even so, come Lord Jesus" (Revelation 22:20).  Herein lies a mystery.  By definition, a transcendent being should not be able to immanently and intimately inhabit  a realm of which He is infinitely greater.  As Solomon asked and declared, "Will God indeed dwell on the earth?  Behold, the Heaven of heavens cannot contain Thee!" (I Kings 8:27).  Or, as other voices of old suggested, "God dwells as the Beyond in the midst".  How is this possible?  How can the Transcendent become the Immanent?

   "The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us" (John 1:14).

   Any consideration regarding the otherness of God and the nearness of God to His creation directs all attention to the Lord Jesus Christ.  Scripture declares Him to be the creator and sustainer of all things.  He also took part in the creation He made, becoming human in order to redeem humanity from sin.  This led to the cross of Calvary, certain wounds of which still etch the resurrected body of Christ.  The Apostle Paul, in the present tense, affirms the Savior as "the man Christ Jesus".  Paul also proclaims the Lord Jesus to be the possessor of that "Name above every name".  We could go on and on regarding transcendence and immanence in our blessed Lord, the God who became man, and the man who remains God.  In Heaven and earth, there is none like Him, the "from everlasting to everlasting Son" of the uncreated God, and the glorified human High Priest of the redeemed (John 20:27; I Timothy 2:5; Philippians 2:9; Psalm 90:2; Hebrews 4:15)

    How can one like Christ even exist?  Paul wondered: "Great is the mystery of godliness.  God was manifest in the flesh" (I Timothy 3:16).  Shall God indeed dwell on the earth?  Solomon asked a fascinating question.  Even more wondrously, however, the inquiry leads to the Incarnation: Shall God dwell in and as man?  Shall Transcendence somehow become personalized in a human being?  The Christian answers, resoundingly, "Yes!"  The Lord Jesus Christ provides our answer, the One we can never explain, but the One we will eternally love, worship, trust, obey, and honor.  Genesis 1:1 and Revelation 22:20 unite in our Savior, the fulfillment of every word of God as the living Word Himself.  "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end" (Revelation 1:8).  God shall dwell on the earth.  The Transcendent became the Immanent, and dwells forevermore as the Word made flesh, as the man Christ Jesus.  Great is the mystery!

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth."
(John 1:1; 14)

Weekly Memory Verse
     Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
(Hebrews 12:11)

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