Continuing from last week, where we reviewed that God has appeared in time, entering into our temporal existence, for the purpose of the salvation of his elect. We have been instructed by conscience, the Spirit, and Jesus’s direct command to live lives that deny our sinful and worldly desires and instead pursue righteousness. Sensibly living for God and his purposes, not our own, in the age where we currently reside. Be it in 1st Century AD, or the year 3,000 AD – God’s commands to us remain as our charge before him.

v 13 – “looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Christ Jesus,”

  • Looking for the blessed hope and appearing…
    • The hope of the Christian is not in this world. Our hope lies in the coming of our savior. We understand that this world is passing away – it will end and be destroyed, and instead a new heaven and a new earth will be presented to us. One where:
      • Sin no longer exists
        • This new heaven and earth will be inhabited by a people cleansed from their sin. They have, being human, been born into sin (Ps 51) and bound in our sinful human flesh, we have sought our own good above all other, but now, in Christ, that has passed away. Our sins have been forgiven, our debt paid by Jesus the Christ on our behalf, and our guilt over our sin taken from us.
      • Desire cannot be shifted to ourselves and our own worship
        • This new world also brings a new set of desires. In this world we are, even as Christians, still desirous of our own self – seeking to redeem ourselves for our sins before God and man, and seeking to gratify our own desires – however benign that may appear. This is live “under the sun” and that where we now exist. But in the new heaven and the new earth, which are being prepared for us by our God and king, these things – these habits of sinfulness and self-glorification – will have all passed away. This is unimaginable to us today, who currently fight and battle with our sinful desires daily, as is the course for Christians who have not yet passed through the veil of death and live with Christ. But just as we today cannot imagine a world without our sinful desires within us, in glory with Christ forever, we will likewise live in eternity with our God and King, and never even have the inkling or momentary flash of a desire for self. Our current daily, and in some cases, moment by moment battle against our sinful flesh and its desires, will be a fast fading memory. Like brief battle experienced in our youth – which at the time seemed so significant and world changing, yet now exists only as a fading hint on the horizon of our minds as we approach our death, we will thank God for our experience of life on this planet, knowing that it was directed for our ultimate good, even the bad things we endure, to his eternal glory.
      • God lives with us, and we live with him
        • God both will live with us, and we will live with him. That is a very different set of circumstances. While we may be able to imagine the great king of all creation – the sovereign ruler over mankind and the universe itself living with us, yet it is a very different thing to imagine that we would live with him. The same one that Isaiah recoiled in fear from, that Moses immediately threw himself prostrate before, that mighty angels even cover themselves with their wings when in his presence to hide their creatureliness. This same God desires us to live – with him. When we stay with family or friends, we tend to put on a false face. We walk in eggshells and attempt to represent ourselves well so as to both not outstay our welcome, but also to protect ourselves – our true selves, from criticism. But this God knows our thoughts before they manifest in our minds. He knows our desires more intimately than even we know them. He, who knows us so intensely, seeks us to live with him. In his presence, never to be forgotten or pushed out of our minds, God seeks to know us in a way that we never could imagine. This is the nature of the eternal relationship which we will share with our God and king. Nothing like the struggle of a Thanksgiving or Christmas holiday spent with family that you may rather avoid, but an everyday appointment with the king of creation, who has made us for his glory, and now we, living in glory with him, will pursue oneness with him in eternity.
  • our great God
    • This is the one who created the universe with a word. Think about that for a minute. In a single moment of time, nothing became everything. But that wasn’t enough – not at all. He then, using his hands, crafted all the animals that live on the earth, and then, using his same hands, crafted us to rule over his creation. Like a potter carefully and intricately shaping, finessing, carving, and elaborately decorating a vessel for honorable use, we have been crafted by our holy God for his purposes and to his glory. Perfectly fit for our purpose. This is our great God. Our sovereign king, who rules over not only the weather of the cosmos, and the movements of galaxies, star systems, and planets, but also is responsible for nations, boundaries, earthly kings. He cares for and about the lives of his people which exist under his care, and loves us so much that even his enemies, those who actively seek his destruction and the destruction of those who love him, receive the same oxygen, food, shelter, and care that his elect receive. This is our God.
  • Savior, Christ Jesus
    • But knowing our sin before him – the sin found in Genesis 3 – the sin of wanting to be our own god. Being able to choose for ourselves that which was good and that which was not. Being able to carve our own destiny and command our futures. This is the sin from which all other sins has sprung, and it has, in generations past, condemned all to a life spent in toil under the curse, and an eventual death on this planet, only to then embrace the just result of sin before a holy and pure God, continual torture in eternity. In a literal time without time – where the temporal bounds of seconds and minutes are replaced with the terrifying truth that nothing will ever pass away. This is why he came to us – to save us from our sins – from the consequence of our sins before him, but also to save us to himself for his glory and to his praise forever.

v 14 – “who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.”

  • Gave Himself for us
    • This savior of ours, knowing that there must be a punishment for sin, and knowing that God is a God of justice – who doesn’t just possess justice, but IS justice personified – he knows that sin must be punished and that we, his elect, cannot merely have our sin debt before him commuted. We cannot achieve a mere Presidential pardon, that erases our sin and ignores it. Someone must take that punishment, and for his elect, God has chosen to take it upon himself.
  • to redeem us
    • The purpose of Jesus’s work on our behalf was, in the first part, our redemption. God’s cannot be in the presence of sin, nor can sin persist in his presence. For us to be in his presence, as he has directed through his choice of us as his elect, we will need to have our sin taken care of. This is the work which Jesus has performed for us on the cross. He, as the second Adam, had no inherent sin nature, lived a perfect life in through, word, and deed before God under the same law and requirements as we live, yet without sin. Jesus then, took our place, as this perfect and unblemished lamb, on the cross of condemnation. God the Father transferred the full ownership of the sins of his elect upon Jesus the Christ. While his substitutionary atonement in our place is sufficient for the sins of all mankind, it was only efficient (meaning, functionally applied) to the accounts of his elect, whom he has chosen from before he created the universe – before “time” was put into motion. This work, therefore, places the sin that we have committed, knowingly and unknowingly, upon Jesus as our redeemer. We have then been redeemed from the just result of our sins and Jesus has, in our place, taken the punishment that God’s law demands. We, those who trust not in our own ability to save us, but who trust in the work that Jesus has performed in our place, are not freed to stand in the presence of our God and King. Throughout scripture, we see the righteous fear and terrifying result of standing in the presence of God. The patriarchs of our faith, Abraham and Moses, threw themselves on the ground. The most well respected prophets lived in abject fear of God’s retribution against them because of their own internal sin, much less the sin of their nations. This is because they did not have Jesus as their redeemer to redeem them, and only were looking to the promised deliver who was to come for them. We, however, in this age of Christ’s Church – living in the shadow of a blood stained, yet no longer used cross, and basking in the glory of the empty tomb can stand freely in the presence of God almighty. King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The grand creator of all creation whom we now serve in perpetuity – fully cleansed from the guilt and punishment from our sins. It is Jesus the Christ who has redeemed us to himself, for himself, to his glory and our ultimate good.
  • to purify for Himself a people of his own possession; zealous for good deeds
    • The second purpose of Jesus work on our behalf, was to purify us, as just mentioned, as a people for his own possession. We, now broken from the slavery to our sinful desires and bound under the guilt of a thousand thousand sins which bore against us daily, we are now freed to live as a slave for Christ. Forsaking our own possessions, relationships, and ties to this world so that we can serve him alone. This is what Jesus referred to in his countless statements to “count the cost”, “take up the cross”, and to “reject our ‘life’ so that we may have ‘life abundant’”. Our lives on the earth, if led to serve ourselves, only will result in a temporary end, but if we forsake those lives – serving God the Father through the sacrifice of Jesus the Christ, empowered daily by the work of the Holy Spirit, then our work that we perform is in his service and reaps eternal rewards. Not that the works that we now perform are done so to achieve salvation, nor maintain it, but that they flow from us naturally. When someone in the church has a need and you notice it, the Holy Spirit drives you to meet that need for them. When you see someone struggling in a way that you once struggled, you step alongside them and lift them up – helping them as you were helped. We struggle together, and serve together – building each other up to the glory of our God. This is that which Jesus spoke of when he said that they will know you for the love that you have for one another. Our love for the brethren exists because of the love which Jesus first had for us, and in light of that, we cannot condemn anyone else after we have been released from our own condemnation. This is the unity of the Church in light of the Christ who has saved us – who is our redeemer.