Genesis is about God from first to last — and to read it any other way is to misread it.
These apostles and prophets do not want to simply establish themselves as self-styled leaders. It is to bring the kingdom of God to the earth. It is dominion teaching; they see a way to bring that dominion through an alliance with a government that seems to share their agenda-with a country that seems to have a “manifest destiny” and calling by God to bless the nations of the earth. As this movement builds momentum and many churches adopt such teaching the Biblical centred churches will again be persecuted. However, this time not from the World but from the “church.”
To take up this end of our yoke with Christ, in the sense of entering into the ‘fellowship of his suffering, being made conformable unto his death’ is no different essentially from bearing each his own cross as we follow Christ. As an old gospel song says, ‘He always takes the heavy end and leaves the light to me’.
Jesus is identified as God’s Son in a special way that indicates his eternal, divine nature. In the early church, the confession that Jesus Christ was fully divine was a critical aspect of the Christian faith.
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Apart from the knowledge of Christ there is no salvation. We are of God, and the whole world lies in wickedness in enmity and hostility to God. Without the shedding of Blood there is no salvation in any other, remission! Thus, for there is none other name under heaven – given among men, whereby we must be saved. Thus salvation is the revelation of Christ.
Jesus professes to have a unique knowledge of God. Jesus says: “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him” (Matthew 11:27)
To serve God we are not called to choose self-denial or sacrifice, rather are we called to fulfill God’s purpose. The basic principle is not to choose the cross but to obey God’s will. Should the principle on which we work and serve include rebellion, then Satan will obtain and enjoy glory even through our sacrifices. Saul might offer sheep and oxen, yet God never accepted them as sacrifices to Himself because there was a Satanic principle involved.
Our self-love keeps us from surrendering to the guidance of the will of God, and eliminates the sense of gratitude we should have toward God for all the blessings God lavishes upon us. By calling upon us to deny ourselves, bear our cross and hope for eternal life, even as we thank God for the blessings of this life, we are to abandon once for all the image of ourselves we have created through our blind self-love, in order to be conformed to the image of selfless and self-giving love that is revealed in Jesus Christ.
Christians want to appear to be living for eternal life, if you really examine their plans they are filled only with earthly concerns, which brings to expression their greed, ambition and desire. To remove from us our love for riches, power and honour. God reveals the vanity of the present life through the afflictions of the cross.
Human reason tells us to avoid dishonour and disgrace as the worst of plagues, but faith in Christ reveals to us that being reviled for the sake of his name is the highest honour we can receive in this life.
Since we do not belong to ourselves, we should cease to live for ourselves, but should rather deny ourselves. We are not our own: in so far as we can, let us therefore forget ourselves and all that is ours. Since we belong to God, we should live and die for God alone, and order all parts of our lives by his will alone. Thus, we are God’s: let us therefore live for him and die for him.
Martin Luther thought that the heart of religion lies in the pronouns: “The Son of God gave himself for me.” By way of contrast, modern evangelical theololgians often give pride of place to the preposition: “in, into, with, and through Christ.”
For Paul, the work of Christ does not establish a union with humanity in general but rather for a distinct group: “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Eph. 5:25)
Believers have even now been incorporated into the consummation of their union with Christ in the eschaton: “future glory . . . will be nothing other than the continued unfolding of the riches of our union with Christ.”