E. Stanley Jones

The Word Became Flesh

 

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Week 1—Sunday

John 1:1-3

Why “The Word?”

 

    The phrase “the Word” was not really indigenous to Hebrew thought. It used “the word of the Lord,” “Thy word,” but not “the Word” as separate entity. But it was indigenous to Greek thought, so the early Christian writers did not hesitate to reach beyond the Hebrew heritage and take hold of any conception to express that which was beyond expression. For they saw that the Gospel was bursting with universal meaning and could not be confined to the Jewish language and cultural to express that which was beyond language and culture. A universal faith would require a universal medium for its expression. That universal medium could only be life—the one thing universal to us all. But even that universal “life” would be insufficient—it would have to “Life,” the “Life” of God and man, the Life of the God-man. The word would have to become flesh.

 

    But on the way to reveal the Word become flesh, the writer would use the “Word,” for it is expressive: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the word was God” (John 1:1). Why was Jesus here called the “Word”? Well, one’s words are the expression of the hidden thought. If you should stand before an audience would get your thought, intuitively and immediately, it would end in futility. Only as the hidden thought is put not a word is the thought communicated.

 

    Here is the hidden God, like the hidden thought, and we cannot know what He is like unless He communicates Himself through a word. If one says, “I can know God in my heart intuitively and immediately, without the mediation of a word,” then the answer is: “But your ‘heart’ then becomes the medium communication and knowing the heart as one does with its sin and crosscurrents and cross-conceptions he knows it is a very unsafe medium for the revelation of God.” God must reveal Himself.

 

O God, my Father, Thou art the hidden God. How can I, bounded by my senses, know Thee except as Thou shalt show Thyself to me? I cannot read Thee unless I get a Word from Thee. But I know that Word cannot be verbal, for Thou are not verbal, but vital. Amen.

 

Affirmation for the day: If the word is the expression of the hidden thought, I shall be, in some be, in some real way, the expression of the hidden God.

 

Week—Monday

John 1:4, 5

The Word Is The Son Of Thought

 

    We saw yesterday that without a word the thought cannot be expressed. The word is the thought become available. When you get hold of my words, you say: “Now I have hold of his thoughts.” The words are the thought—they are the thought mediated to us. The words are not a third something standing between you and the thought—they are the thought become available. He who takes hold of words takes hold of the thought itself. The word and the thought are one.

 

     Here is the hidden God, and He expresses Himself through the Word. When you take hold of that Word, you do not take hold of something standing between you and God—that Word, Jesus, is God available. Jesus is not a third person standing between you and God. When you take hold of Him, you take hold of God Himself. He is a mediator only in the sense that He mediates God to you. When you know Him you know God. Just as the thought and the word are one, so Jesus could say, “I and the Father are one.”

 

    But the word is the offspring, or son, of the thought. So Jesus is the offspring, or Son, of the Father. And just as the thought is greater than the word, for all expression means limitation—you have to look around to get the right word to express the thought—so the unexpressed God is greater than the expressed God. God had to limit Himself in coming to us in human form. So Jesus could say, “The Father is greater than I.”

 

    There seems to be a contradiction: “I and the Father are one,” and “The Father is greater than I.” But there is not. Just as the thought and the word are one, so God, the thought, and Jesus, the Word, are one. But just as the unexpressed thought is greater than the expressed thought, the word, so God the Father, the unexpressed, is greater than God the Son, the expressed. They are one, and yet the Father is great than the Son. For God was self-limited when He became Human.

 

    Did He have to become Human to show Himself?

 

O God, our Father, we are at the very crux of our quest—Didst Thou have to become human? Help us not to make a misstep here, for we go astray in life if we go astray in thought. May we think after Thee, for we would be Thy life after Thee. Amen.

 

Affirmation for the day: I offer my mind, my soul, my flesh to reveal God to someone today.

 

Week 1—Tuesday

John 1:14, 15

Did God Have To Become Human?

 

    We ended up yesterday with the question: Did God have to become human to show Himself? Wasn’t there some other way? A less expensive way? A less humiliating way?

 

    Well, there are a number of ways He might reveal Himself. He can reveal Himself through nature. But not perfectly. I loop up to God through nature and come to the conclusion that God is Law. But the revelation is a very impersonal kind of law. The discovery of atomic energy has driven many thoughtful scientists to God. From whence this awe-ful energy, so awe-ful and so law abiding? All this drives men to a dependable Creator. But that energy tells you little about the character of God except His might. Said a chaplain, “That plane holds more power than was expended in the last war.” That atom can burn millions to ashes, or it can lift the life of millions to a higher level if it is harnessed to the collective good. The character of God revealed in the atom is morally neutral. The song we sing, “How great Thou art,” tells of looking at the stars and hearing the rolling thunder and concluding that God is “great,” but “great” in what? The stars look down on us indifferent as to our moral character, and the rolling thunder and the flashing lightning may hit a brothel or a baby with no moral discrimination. So nature’s revelation of God is equivocal.

 

    Then God reveal Himself through prophet and teacher and sage, but not perfectly, for the medium of revelation is imperfect and the message coming through that imperfect medium partakes of that imperfection. Besides it is the word become Word—verbal.

 

    Then there is the method of revelation through a book. We must be grateful for every inspired word which has come down to us through a book—grateful, but not satisfied. For two reasons: first, a book is impersonal and God is infinitely Personal; second, a book is the Word become word, not the Word become flesh.

 

O Father, we search through various ways and various media to find Thee. For we are homesick for Thee. For Thou art our Home, and apart from Thee we wander from thing to thing and from place to place seeking, seeking. Our hearts are restless till they rest in Thee. Amen.

 

Affirmation for the day: I shall be an imperfect medium, but nevertheless a medium, through which people can see God today.

 

 

Wednesday—Week 1

John 1:16-18        

Can God Reveal Himself Perfectly Through A Book?

 

     We paused yesterday to ask whether God could perfectly reveal Himself through a book, however sacred it may be. The Sikhs of India treat the Granth Sahib, their sacred book, as though it were a person. They fan it in hot weather, offer it food, and put it to sleep under mosquito the book personal, it is still impersonal. The Vedas of the Hindus are supposedly eternal, but we know that of times there are historical references in them. They are of time and are impersonal. The Koran is supposedly dictated by God, but if it were, it would still be impersonal; hence such titles as God Speaking, which were supposedly dictated to the listening scribes. From the contents, it would seem that they are, at their, the highest thoughts of the writers translated as the voice of God, for nothing beyond high human thinking has bee revealed—and some of it is not even high, it is very, very ordinary. But if it were dictated by God, it would still be the Word become word.

 

     Then there are those who in religious circles sit in séances waiting for some word from God through a medium, who in turn is supposed to get some word from a person in the next life. Apparently, what has “come through” has added little or nothing to our knowledge of God, and little or nothing to our knowledge of the hereafter—nothing except what the human mind would project into the future and call revelation. In any case, if it were real it would be inadequate, for it would be the Word become word and a very second-hand, or third-hand at that. But there are those who go into contortions and trances and speak supposedly as God. “Who is he?” I inquired of a disciple when people at every railway station fell at the feet of a “holy man.” “He is God. He can tell you anything.” But I could see he was a spastic and his contortions of speech were supposed to be the result of divine possession.

 

O God, we project ourselves and our thoughts into the heavens and call it Thy voice and Thy revelation. We are sick, nigh unto death, at the echoes of our own voices. We want some authentic Word from Thee—the Word for which we have been waiting. Amen.

 

Affirmation for the day: Regarding God, I shall be not a second-hander but a first-hander.

 

Thursday— Week1

Hebrews 1:1, 2         

Seeing God Through Imperfect Media

 

     We are considering how God could reveal Himself perfectly. We continue to look at the question of whether a book can be a perfect revelation. Words get meaning from the life that surrounds them. If I should use the word “home” before an audience, to some it would mean “heaven,” to some “hell,” according to the life which surrounded the word. Literature can never rise higher than life. For life puts content and meaning into the literature. Suppose God should give us a book from heaven with all His will written into it—would that be a perfect revelation of God? Hardly. For we would read into those words our highest experience of those words. I would see the word “love” in the book, and I would read into it my highest experience of love. But my highest experience of love is not love—it is my highest experience of love which is partial, incomplete. I would see the word “purity” in the book, and I would read into it my highest experience of purity; but my highest experience of purity is not purity. I would see the word “God,” and I would read into it my highest experience of God; but my highest experience of God in not God.

 

       I would pull these words to the level of my highest experience, and so would you, so the book would not be so much a revelation of God as a revelation of us. What then do we need for a perfect revelation of God? A life must come among us—a Divine Life which will lift these words to the level to which we have dragged them and put a new content into them—a Divine content through the Divine Illustration. We would then no longer see these words through what we are, but what He is. We think that has happened. A life came among us and lived publicly for three years. We no longer see the word “love” in the light of our poor, partial love, but in the light of a Love that prayed for enemies upon a cross: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” The Word of love became flesh.

 

O, Father, we see Thee faintly and distortedly through the lattice of nature and through the lattice of Thy followers, but we begin to see Thee through the Life of Thy Son. And what we see sets our hearts on fire to see more and yet more. In His Name. Amen.

 

Affirmation for the day: My light may be poor, but it will be light, not darkness.

 

Friday—Week 1

Matt. 13:16, 17

The Quest For the Perfect Revelation

 

      We continue our quest for the Perfect Revelation. If God should give us a book from heaven as His revelation of Himself, we would read into those words our highest experience of those words. But now the new possibility has com. I can see those words through a Divine Illustration of the meaning of those words. I see the word “purity,” and I longer read into it my highest experience of purity, which is partial and incomplete, but I see it in the light of purity, which shared my temptations, minus my falls. I see Purity—the Real Thing. I no longer see the word “God” in the light of my imagination of God, but in the light of this authentic uncovering of the nature of God in understandable terms—human terms. I look up through Jesus, the Son, and I now know what God is like. He is a Christ—like God, and if He is, then He is a good God and trustable. I could think of nothing higher, I could be context with nothing less.

 

       If God isn’t like Jesus, I am not interested in Him. For the highest I know in the realm of character is to be Christlike. I said that in India, and a Hindu wrote to me: “You took my breath away. This is Bhakti [devotion] par excellance. You said you wouldn’t be interested in God if He were not like your Guru [Master].” But my Guru is no human Guru—He is God’s authentic self-revelation. When the disciples said, “Show us the Father—it sufficeth us,” Jesus quietly said: “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father,” and it was one of the greatest moments in human history. In the Congo when those in charge were about to pull up the idol from the idol-pit, the people fell back terror-stricken. They cried: “If we look on the face of ‘our father,’ we will die.” But here, as we look on the face of “Our Father” in the person of Jesus, then we do not die, but live! We see God not terrible but tender, not forbidding but forgiving. We see in Jesus God as He is—really is!

 

O Son of God, we thank Thee for showing us the Father. We would never have known what He was like had we not looked on Thy face. Seeing Him in Thy face, we rest not satisfied but stirred—stirred to be like what we see in Thee. Read our gratitude. Amen.

 

Affirmation for the day: Perhaps I cannot be authoritative but I can be authentic.

 

 

Saturday—Week 1

I Cor. 2:9, 10

The Silence of Eternity Has Been Broken

 

    We come now to gather together what we have been saying this week. We must reject as inadequate or inaccurate the attempts to find God through nature—the nature worshippers; the attempt to find Him within themselves—the “I” worshippers: the attempt to find Him through teachers, gurus, priests—the men worshippers; the attempt to find Him through legalism—the written law worshippers; the attempt to find Him in slogans and affirmation—the cult of the Positive, the Positive worshipers; the attempt of find Him in the quiet of submissiveness—the worshippers of Silence, of Quietism. In any of these you may find a glimpse of God, but if you are to see God face to face you must see Him in the face of Jesus Christ. For Jesus is God approachable, God available, God simplified, and God lovable. The Word has become flesh.

 

    There was, and is, no other way for God to reveal Himself except in understandable terms, human terms. He had to show His character where your character and mine are wrought out, namely, in the stream of human history. The Word had to become flesh, or else not be the Word; it would be something else—words!

 

     Lao-tse, the Chinese philosopher said: “The Word that can be uttered is not the Divine word, that Word is Silence.” He is right, in a way, for the Divine Word cannot be uttered. That would be the Word become word. But the alternative is not silence. Lao-tse had to say the alternative was silence for he knew of no Word become flesh, know no Jesus Christ. So it had to be silence. But “the silence of eternity” has been broken, it has been “interpreted by love,” by the appearance of Incarnate Love—Jesus.

 

     The statement of Lao-tse, himself a philosopher, that the Word that can be uttered is not the Divine Word, sweeps from the board of adequacy all attempts to utter the Divine word through philosophy, laws, reason, and theology. They are all the Word become word. The only method of revelation is the Word become flesh.

 

O God, my Father, I thank Thee that when all other ways were inadequate Thou didst open the way to us. When we couldn’t come to Thee, Thou didst come to us. Come to us in lowly form, human form. And now we can come to Thee through the Way. Amen.

 

Affirmation for the day: The Silence of Eternity shall become revealed in me today.

 

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Sunday--Week 2

Job 23:1, 2, 8

God Through Philosophy And Moralism

 

    There have been two great attempts to find God apart from the Word became flesh. They are the attempts of philosophy and the attempts of moralism. The attempt of philosophy has been seen in the great philosophical nations--Greece, India, and China. The great philosophical systems were all three completed just before the time of the coming of Jesus. They took me as high as man could go by philosophical reasoning. Beyond these systems the human race will not progress in philosophical thought. The human brain strained itself to the utmost and having reached its apex went progressively bankrupt as an adequate method of finding God. At its highest, in the Vedanta philosophy of India, and the philosopher could only say of Brahma: "Neti, Neti"--"Not that, Not that." That was the very highest it could say, and its word was negative. the Word of philosophy was word and that word was "No." It had not positive affirmation to make about the nature and character of God. It was the tacit acknowledgement of bankruptcy. Lao-tse said the final word about God is Silence and Shankarachariya, the great philosopher of India, said the final word about God is "Not that." They both came out to zero.

 

    If the attempt to find God by philosophy was completed before the coming of Jesus, so the attempt through moralism, or the Law, was also completed just before His coming. the attempt to find God through Law was a noble attempt of a great people, the Hebrews. Never was such a moral system built up as was embodied in the Law, and never was the end product so disappointing. It produced the Pharisee, who stood in his pride and said, "I thank God I am not as other men." And Jesus pronounced the doom of this attempt at finding God when He said: "Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the Scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven." Their highest could not reach the Kingdom. Both philosophy and moralism fall short.

 

    O Father, when our best was not good enough, and when our highest could not reach the Kingdom, Thou didst come Thyself to lift us to Thyself. What mercy. What humility. What grace. We are speechless before the wonder of it. Read our thankful hearts. Amen.

 

Affirmation of the day: May no one looking at me ever say in his quest for God, "Not that."

 

Monday--Week 2

Heb. 7:18, 19

The Law Contains But a Shadow

 

    We ended yesterday on the attempt to reach God by moralism, by the Law. The inadequacy, even bankruptcy, of this method is expressed in the Epistle to the Hebrews:

"For the Law contains but a shadow, and no true image, of the good things which were to come;

it provides for the same sacrifices year after year, and with these it can never bring the worshippers to perfection

for all time...That is why, at his coming into the world, he [Christ, R.S.V.] say:

 

Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire,

But thou has prepared a body for me.

Whole-offerings and sin-offerings thou didst not delight in.

Then I said, "Here am I: as it is written of me in the scroll,

I have come, O God, to do Thy will."--10:1, 5-7 N. E. B.

 

    "The Law contains but a shadow, and no true image." It was the Word become word, hence, a shadow and no true image. Then it follows that if the Law is but a shadow, all discussion and argument about the Law are but shadow-boxing. And all services based on moralism are but shadow-worship. And all preaching of moralism to whip up the will to do good and to be good is but shadow-preaching. It ends in futility.

 

    When sacrifices of animals and products of nature were at the end of their--God did not "desire" them--and when all the offerings of man's endeavor to gain salvation, by offering his moral acts and good deeds, fell short--for God did not "desire" them--then the Unexpected happened: "But Thou hast prepared a body for me"--the Word became flesh. "Here am I...have come, O God, to do Thy Will"--the will of God became a Person--embodied in that Person it was the Will become flesh.

 

    This was the substance--all else is but "shadow." So the substance superseded all shadow manifestations. It now holds the field as the only real way of Revelation, that way--the Word became flesh.

 

    Dear God and Father, we see it clearly now that only as Thou didst come to us could we find Thee and know Thee. Now we know Thee and find Thee in available form--find Thee in the God--man. And what a find! Our hearts sing with gratitude. Amen.

 

Affirmation for the day: My body is at Thy disposal to reveal Thy will.

 

Tuesday--Week 2

Heb. 7:22, 25-28

Hasn't Resources Within Himself

 

    Job asks, "Who by searching can find out God?" The answer is plain in history: No one! For what we find in our upward search for God is not God, but the projections of our thoughts into the heavens and calling it God. It is the Word become--word and earthbound. We create God in the image of our imagination. And this is "no true image." Apart from Jesus, we know little or nothing about God, and what we know is wrong. The Word must become flesh or the Word is a vast question mark.

 

    India is the greatest illustration of the truth of the above. If God the Father cold have been discovered through philosophy, then the philosophers of India could have discovered Him. For centuries they have piled words on words, but through the multiplicity of words they have not discovered the word. Someone has facetiously defined philosophy as "the search in a dark room for a black cat which isn't there." But there is more than usual truth in that jibe. For philosophic reason has searched in a dark universe for a philosophical God who isn't there. The highest philosophical  thought of India, the Vedanta, came out to the conclusion that Brahma, in its highest state, the Niangua (without relationships) is Sat--Truth, Chit--intelligence, Ananda--bliss. Truth, intelligence, and bliss, but no Love. Reason made God in its own image--bliss through truth and intelligence. But without Love God is a cold, inviting Abstraction. Therefore, "Vedanta is the philosophy of a few, the religion of none." Through philosophy you have come out to a God who is other than God the Father. God the Father could only be revealed by Revelation. No one could imagine or think that the God of the Universe would take a body and become man to redeem man. A love like that just doesn't exist--not in the categories of philosophy. Here only seeing is believing. We would never have believed it unless we had seen it. The Word had to become flesh to become credible. Unless the eye had seen and the ear heard it would never have entered into the heart of man what God has prepared for us.

 

    O God, our Father, our hearts are filled with an unutterable joy--a joy too deep for words. We are not knocking at the gate of heaven. Thou art knocking at the lowly doors of our hearts. What grace, what humility, what love! What we couldn't dream--we see! Thank Thee, thank Thee. Amen.

 

Affirmation of the day: I haven't resources in myself to complete myself, but I know how to take.

 

Wednesday--Week 2

II Cor. 3:4-6

Principles Instead of a Person?

  

    In Conversion we mentioned Dr. Hocking, the philosopher, who said that as a philosopher he could not say, "The Word become flesh," though the said that he saw it. There is a sequel to that. I mentioned the about story to his son who is also a philosopher, at Emory University, and he replied, "That is interesting, for when someone asked my father, he replied, 'Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.'" That is interesting, for one would have thought that the great philosopher would have chosen, "Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free," for that would have been down his philosophical alley, but no, he chooses this personal approach from the Unseen, this fact of God coming to us and knocking at the door of our hearts, the Word of Love made flesh. Dr. Hocking, the philosopher, could see this personal approach but could not say it; but Dr. Hocking, the person, sees it, loves it, and say it, and cherishes it as the most precious thing in Scripture and in his life. There is the difference between philosophy and real religion--one is cold, calculating and uncommitted; the other is warm, uncalculated, and committed with a life committal.

 

    That is where Dr. Q. Hobart Mowrer, Research Professor of Psychology at the University of Illinois, is so right in his diagnosis of Freudianism--psychoanalysis, and so wrong when he switches to religion and says, "As long as different religious groups fasten upon personages, which are of necessity unique, they will remain apart; but when they begin to look at the principles which they have in common, reconciliation and union are by no means improbable." He would take the principles of the Christian faith and push to the edges the Person. He would take the stream, but not the source; the rays of the sun, but not the sun.

 

    O my Father, they want the impersonal but not the Personal. But it is Thou that my soul most deeply craves. I can take no halfway house and call it a home. Thou art my home and nothing this side of Thee can ever satisfy the deepest cravings of my heart. Amen.

 

Affirmation of the day: The personal is too big to be satisfied with the impersonal.

 

Thursday--Week 2

I Tim. 3:16

Christianity is Christ

 

    We paused yesterday to look at the suggestion of Dr. Mowrer that the emphasis should be on the principles in the Christian faith and not on the Person. But the Person is the Christian faith. Christianity has its doctrines but it is not a doctrine; has its creeds, but it is not a creed; has its rites and ceremonies but it is not a rite or ceremony; has its institutions but it is not an institutions. Christianity is Christ, Christians are people who believe in God and man and life through Christ. We do not begin with God, for if you do you do not begin with God but with your ideas of God which are not God. We do not begin with man, for f you do you being with the problems of man. And if you begin with a problem you will probably end with a problem, and in the process you will probably become a problem. Of one modern minister it was said, "Without a problem spake he not unto them." This  is a problem-obsessed age, and we have come problems dealing with problems. A man was offered a better job--he turned it down: "I'd be a two-ulcer man in a five-ulcer job." A retired bishop said, "Since I've been retired I am frustrated and unhappy." We don't begin with God, and we don't being with man, we begin with the God-man and from Him we work out to God, and from Him we work down to man. In His light we see life--all life. For He is the revelation of God and man--revelation of what God is and what man can become--he can become Christlike.

 

    The words of William Temple, Archbishop of Canterbury, sum up the Christian position: "The supreme revelation is given in the life and person of Jesus. The revelation is not His teaching or His acts but Himself. Christianity is not a dedication to a system of rules of thoughts but a dedication to a Person. This is unique among the religions of the world." Mowrer wants the Word become word; the Christian faith presents the Word become flesh. Hence power.

 

    O blessed Savior, Thou are a Savior just because Thou art God available--available to our needs, for Thou dost meet us amid those needs. Thou hast lived among our needs and hast shown us how to live where we live. Now I not only hear, I see. Amen.

 

Affirmation of the day: I, the personal, am made by the Personal, and for the Personal and cannot rest this side of Him.

 

Friday--Week 2

John 5:39, 40

The Principle of Motherhood?

 

    We are considering whether the principles of the Christian faith apart from the Person, Jesus, would be adequate or effective, and the answer is decided "No." For it is the Person the principles would mean something else, something very different. Take the statement: "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you" (John 13:34). Without the last portion, "even as I have loved you," there would have been nothing new in the commandment. The old content--the content gathered from contemporaneous life--would have remained. That content would have been eros--possessive love and not agape--sacrificial love. Jesus put the agape love is not the norm now--the norm is Christlike love which is a norm all its own, sui generis.

 

    Principles may be low in content: they are also always low in power. They are moonlight, secondhand, not sunlight, firsthand. Suppose a child is crying for its mother, and you say, "Don't cry, little child, I'll give you a the principle of motherhood." The child would reply: "I want my mother." In India where the highest God, Brahma, is impersonal, Tulsi Das, a great Indian poet says, "The Impersonal laid no hold on my heart." Too child, to unresponsive. No wonder someone described the Vedantic philosophy, which expounds the philosophy of a few, the religion of none." There are no temples to Brahma--no worship of it. Philosophy about Brahma, but no religion. Religion sets up when a person seeks communion with a Person. Then want to practise the principles because He practised and embodied them. Then principles become power, but only as they are embodied in a Person--otherwise, no. They fall faintly upon the human heart.

 

    O blessed and only wise God., Thy method is sound. Thou hast shown us in Thy Son that Thou art practicing what Thou dost require of us. In Thee the Word is always flesh. "For by all that God requires of me, I know that He himself must be." I thank Thee. Amen.

 

Affirmation of the day: Let all my principles become personal in me today.

 

Saturday--Week 2

John 1:15-18

Jesus Puts a Face On God

 

    We are discussing the relation of principles and the Person. When people speak of God as "the Divine Principle," they may talk to themselves about God, but they cannot talk to God. You cannot talk to a Principle; you can only talk to a Person. So a religion founded on "the Divine Principle" must be, of necessity, a religion of dialogue with yourself, affirming to yourself certain principles. This is the side of, and other than the religion of communing with your Heavenly Father, a person with a Person.

 

    Christianity "puts a face on God." Jesus is God's face. And that "or dear Face, far from vanishes, rather grows...and becomes my universe that feels and knows." And Browning further adds: "O heart I made, a Heart beats here." The Psalmist asks: "He that made the eye shall He not see; He that made the ear shall He not hear?" And we may add: "He that made the human personality shall He not be Personal?" He can't be less than Personal, for personality is the highest category of being we know. And when I say, "God is Personal," I don't mean He is corporeal--and enlarged Man seated in the heaves. In personality there are at least four things: intelligence, feeling, will, self-consciousness. So when we say that God is personal, we believe He thinks, He feels, He wills, He has self-consciousness. He may be more than that; He cannot be less. And the Impersonal is less.

 

    We cannot say our prayers to a principle, nor worship an axiom. The woman in Ceylon, who when self-government cam and the first election was introduced, was seen with folded hands saying her prayers to a ballot box--the new god who decided things. But prayers to a ballot box decided nothing: the number of votes within the box did.

 

    Prayer and worship is response on the part of a person to the response of the Person. It is communion, or it is self-hypnotism. So principles let you down unless they are embodied.

 

    O Father God, when I talk with Thee I know I am not listening to the echo of my own voice. I know my Father's voice. And the Voice is not mine projected into the heavens, for it often runs counter to my voice--and rightly so, for it is redemptive. I thank Thee. Amen.

 

Affirmation of the day: My person responds to the Eternal Person fully and forever. 

 

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Sunday--Week 3

Heb. 2:8, 9

Why Don't You Preach Principles?

 

We are discussing whether principles, apart from the Person, in religion would be sufficient. A Hindu said to me: "Why don't you preach principles to us and leave out the person of Christ?" The answer is simple and two-fold: The Principles without the person are powerless. An exact statement of truth, or an exact statement of ethical moralism, leaves us cold and unmoved. Only as principles are embodied in a person do they become power. And second, we would never have known what the principles meant had we not see them illustrated in the Person.

 

    We who are persons yearn for the Personal. Browning puts it in these vivid words:

" 'Tis the weakness in strength, that I cry for! my flesh, that I seek In the Godhead!

I seek and I find it! O Saul, it shall be A Face like my face that receives Thee;

A Man like to me, Thou shalt love and be loved by, for ever: a Hand like this Hand Shall

throw open the gates of new life to Thee! See the Christ stand!"

"Saul"

    Suppose there is no flesh in the Godhead, no Face like my face there--is the Godhead attractive? Will the Godhead evoke loyalty and love? The answer is in the Brahma of Hinduism. We have noted that Brahma has three attributes--truth, intelligence, bliss, but no love. If Brahma, the It had love it would  love it would relate Itself to men and things. Brahma is the unrelated. Love is absent from the Highest. But love is the highest in man. Then man has something higher than that which is found in the Highest. Then God is a disappointment. If love is absent from the Highest, then the Highest will do nothing to help you up the ladder to Itself. You get there if you get there. And you get there by contemplation, by meditation, by self-affirmation: "Aham Brahma": "I am Brahma." But that is the Word become word, not the Word become flesh.

 

    O Father, I thank Thee that I seek the highest in Thee--love--and find it there. But I would never have found it had I not been shown it--shown it in Thy Son. In Him we see, not merely hear. And the seeing is believing. So I believe. Amen.

 

Affirmation of the day: I see in God my weakness in His Strength, my littleness His Greatness--I nestle.

 

Monday--Week 3

Luke 1:67, 68, 76-79

He Hath Visited & Redeemed

 

    We are driven to the conclusion that the only way for God to reveal Himself to us is for the Word to become flesh. So the Scripture reads: "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father...And from his fullness have we all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who s in the bosom of the Father, he had made him know" (John 1:14-18).

 

    "And dwelt among us." The revelation of God was not a momentary rift in the clouds that surround the mystery of the hidden Divine--a momentary insight as to what God is like, a fleeting vision. No, He "dwelt among us." He dwelt among us from the cradle of the manger to the grave of the tomb. It was long enough for Him to reveal God's character in operation amid the surroundings where your character and mine are wrought out. He met life as you and I meet it--as a man. He called on no power not at our disposal for His own moral battle. He performed no miracle to extricate Himself from any difficulty. If had had power, He power to restrain power, holding it only for the meeting of human need in others. He never performed a miracle just to show power to confound the enemy. He lived a normal life, so normal that it became the norm. He dwelt among us as one of us.

 

    Another passage says: "He hath visited and redeemed his people." The only way to redeem His people was to visit them. He couldn't sit on a cloud and utter commands, or pick us up and take us to heaven with celestial tongs, not soiling His fingers with the messy business of human living. No, He dwelt among us--amid our poverty, amid our temptations, amid our problems and choices, amid our oppositions and disappointments. He lived among us and showed us how to live by living.

 

    Gracious Savior, Thou didst come where we are to take us where Thou art. Thou didst show us Life in the midst of life. And now we know what Life is like; we have seen it--in Thee. And what we see is so infinitely beautiful that we are on fire to see more. Amen.
 

Affirmation of the day: I walk today with One who has all the wisdom, all the power, all the grace I need.

 

Tuesday--Week 3

Luke 4:1-4

I Take A Bite, You Take A Bite

 

    We are considering the verse: "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us." He really dwelt among us. He resisted the temptation to live in any way except "among." the first temptation is the wilderness was to feed himself upon miracles apart from the people--make stones into bread. He rejected that--He would eat as we eat. The second temptation He also rejected--the temptation to live above the people, standing on a pinnacle of the temple, and throwing Himself down, only to be carried back again on angel's hands. He would not live above. The third temptation was the temptation to live as--to live as we live, taking the devil's suggestion to worship him--to adopt his methods, to gain the kingdoms of the world. No, He would not live apart, above, or as--He would be with us, but different. He would identify Himself with us in everything, except our sin.

 

    During the war a G.I. saw a starved little girl and offered her a sandwich, but her mind had been so poisoned by propaganda that she wouldn't take it--it might be poisoned. So the G.I. took a bite and then said to her: "I take a bite, you take a bite"; "I take a bite, you take a bite." She melted and began to play the game of "I take a bite, you take a bite." In Jesus we find God seriously playing that game with us: "I take a bite, you take a bite." Jesus "tasted death for every man," but He also tasted life with every man. He asks us to do nothing but what He himself does. If we are born in poverty and rejection, remember He was born in a stable, for there was no room for them in the inn. "He was tempted in all points like as we are." He knows us--from within.

 

    In Holland I saw a church bell ringing inside a cross. Befitting. The music came out of pain. There is music in the Gospel, but it's music which is not surface jazz--it is pain set to music--pains become paeans. The Victory is not apart, or above, but in. He "dwelt among us."

 

    O Jesus, when Thou dost speak it is Deep speaking to deep. We know that You know. And knowing You love, how can we help loving in return? We do with all our ransomed beings. We love Thee; we love Thee. Give us a greater capacity to love Thee. Amen.

 

Affirmation of the day: All my crosses have bells within them, and I shall ring them when pain wrings me.

 

Wednesday--Week 3

Titus 3:3-7

Full of Grace and Truth

 

    We continue to look at this amazing passage: "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth." "Full of grace and truth." The first thing in the Christian faith is "grace"--an act--an act of outgoing, forgiving, redeeming grace. Grace is first, for the first thing in God is love, and grace is love in action--it is the word of love become flesh. If grace is "unmerited favor," so, here, it is Love favoring us when we are not favorable, loving us when we are not lovable, accepting us when we are not acceptable, redeeming us when by all the rules of the book we are not redeemable. Grace is love applied, the word of love become flesh. That is the distinctive thing in the Christian faith.

 

    Suppose it had read: "Full of the truth and grace." Then the emphasis would have been upon "truth" in God. "God is truth," said Mahatma Gandhi, for he, inheritor of the emphasis of philosophy from the Hindu centuries, would approach it with emphasis on truth. But that would be the Word become Word--"God is truth" is a word about the Word. But never say, "God is truth," for that would have classed the Christian faith as a philosophy. But the Christian faith is not primarily a thought; it is primarily an act--an act of Love invading history to redeem men. It is Grace in action.

 

    Then where does "truth" come in? It comes in after "grace." For you have to see "truth" and not merely hear about it. If truth is not seen in action--it is not seen; for truth not in action is less than truth--it is truth verbal, not vital. I am not truth unless I am truth in the my relationships, in my acts. For truth that is not acting in truth, static, which is less than truth.

 

    So we see "truth" through "grace"--grace is truth in gracious act. We see the nature of truth through the revelation of the act. Otherwise truth would be the Word become word, now we see it as the Word become flesh.

 

    O Savior, Thou dost not only save us, Thou dost save truth--save it from being a proposition and made it into a Person. Thou didst say, "I am the truth," and lo, Truth is lovable and livable and not as a dry-as-dust proposition. I am at Thy feet, Gracious Truth. Amen.

 

Affirmation of the day: All my justice shall have kindness in it, and all my kindness shall have justice in it.

 

Thursday--Week 3

John 21:18, 19

A Person To Be Followed

 

    We are pondering on "full of grace and truth." We insisted yesterday that the order was right--first grace, then truth. A great many people think Jesus was a moralist imposing a moral code upon humanity--a code for which humanity is badly made. It is an impossible code which humanity, being what it is, cannot fulfill. But Jesus was not a moralist in that sense at all. He was a revealer of the nature of reality. First of God--He said if you want to know what God is look at me. "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father." We see the Father in the face of His Son. God is like Jesus in Character. Transfer every characteristic of character from Jesus to God, and you do not lower your estimate of God or man that to be Christlike. Jesus is God simplified . God approachable, God understandable, God loveable. When I say God I think Jesus. And nothing higher can be thought or said! Jesus is the last word that can be said about God.

 

    Then Jesus was a revealer of the laws which underlie the universe. He seldom used the imperative, almost never the subjunctive, almost entirely in indicative. "This is," He said, "and you must come to terms with it, or get hurt." When He finished the Sermon on the Mount "the people were astonished at His teaching for He taught them as one who had authority and not as their Scribes." The Scribes quoted authorities, second-hand teaching--He spoke with authority, firsthand teaching. The term "with authority" could be translated "according to the nature of things." He revealed the nature of things. He was a revealer of the nature of Reality.

 

    So the Christian faith is not a set of propositions to be accepted--it is a Person to be followed. That Person is manifest Reality, so to follow Him is to follow Reality--manifested as the Word became flesh. So to follow Him is not assent to truths, but the acceptance of Truth, embodied in a Person and re-embodied in my person.

   

    O Jesus, when Truth walks up to me in Thee, my attitude is assent not to that truth, but the acceptance of Thee in every portion of my life and with the consent of all my being. It is a life acceptance. Thy Truth is warm, tender, and compelling. I follow--singing. Amen.

 

Affirmation of the day: My code is now a Character, forever beyond me, forever beside me and within me.

 

Friday--Week 3

John 4:9-11

You Cannot Describe Love

 

    We are meditating upon "full of grace and truth" and the fact that "truth" could only be revealed through "grace." I was about to speak on the subject of "The Word became flesh" when a soloist sang very beautifully "O Love of God." It is a moving song describing in vivid terms how, if the sea were an inkwell, and every blade of grass a quill, and every man a scribe by trade, and the sky a parchment upon which to inscribe the love of God, it would be an inadequate method. It would be the Word of love become word. And not matter how vivid the rhetoric may be, it is futile, for it can't be done by that method. You cannot describe love--you have to see it--see it in act.

 

    I was addressing a mass meeting in a North Carolina city in a public hall. There were probably two hundred pastors on the platform. The Negroes were segregated in the balcony. Before I began speaking the white ministers left the platform, went to the gallery before all, and took their places among the Negroes. I have forgotten what I said about the Christian attitude toward race--perhaps the people have too, but I can never forget that Word of love become flesh in those pastors. They revealed the nature of truth in race relations by a gracious act. The "truth" was revealed through "grace."

 

    But while "grace" is first, "truth" has to be second. This "grace" is not maudlin sentimentality--it s "truth." It works according to the laws of truth, it works within the framework of integrity and truth. Some ex-headhunters of Borneo taught me this is vividly. One of them said to me about his new-found faith in Christ, "Christianity is the only faith where you can't wangle God to get benefits out of Him." He was profoundly right. He was used to a faith where you could cajole, bribe, and wangle your god to get him to favors. Not so Christ.

 

    O Jesus, my Lord, Thou art truth. We cannot bribe, wangle, or induce Thee. We can come to Thee honestly obeying Thy laws and get everything we need. But we can't come with crooked motives and methods. We are grateful we cannot wangle Thee. I thank Thee. Amen.

 

Affirmation of the day: I do not attempt to please Christ--I surrender to Him and follow and obey Him. The pleasing takes care of itself--a by-product.

 

Saturday--Week 3

Luke 9:28-32

And We Have Beheld His Glory

 

    We are studying "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the Son from the Father." We have considered that "grace" was first and "truth" was second. For the first thing in God is "God is love," and hence the out flowing of that love is grace.  If the first thing in God were "God is truth," then the out flowing of that truth would be a statement on how to live life. But that would be the Word become word. God as truth would mean religion as philosophy, but God as love means religion as redemption--God acting in love to save us.

 

    And note it says "full of grace and truth," which would mean that in Jesus there is not a spotty character--grace and un-grace, truth and un-truth. There is grace and only grace, truth and only truth. A Hindu put it this way: "We like to listen about a Man who practiced everything He preached." A very important verse is this one: "But now Christ has come, high priest of good things already in being." (Heb. 9:11, N.E.B.) Other versions give the alternate reading of "good things to come." It is  both, for Jesus as "the Word become flesh" is the high priest of "good things to come," and is also the high priest of "good things already in being." He is anticipation and He is realization. When you have Him, you have the present and the future. Jesus is full of grace and full of truth so there is no room for the opposite. He is one Character and only one.

 

    And "We have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father." "We have beheld his glory"--what would that "glory" be? "Who is he?" I asked a disciple of "holy man" in India. "He is God, he can tell you anything"--his glory was in his knowledge. Others would reply concerning the some other: "He is God, he can perform miracles"--his glory is in what he does. But in Jesus His glory was in what He was--"glory as of the only Son From the Father." It was a glory, not knowledge and might, but a glory of being. His knowledge and might flowed from His being, Being the "Son" was everything.

 

    O Jesus, I thank Thee for what Thou art. For what Thou art determines everything. And Thou are the only Son. We look on Thee and know, and know that there can be no other like Thee. Thou art the only Son and therefore the only Incarnation. We thank Thee. Amen.

 

Affirmation of the day: I glory in that I am a child of God--what else do I need?

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Sunday--Week 4

John 10:1-5

Alternative Incarnations

 

    We are considering whether there is the one Word become flesh or whether there are many who are the Word become flesh? The answer is to that depends on whether this statement is true: "glory as of the only Son from the Father." If He is the "only Son." then there can be one "Word become flesh"--one incarnation.

 

    Arnold Toynbee is an able historian, but he missed his step when he said he no longer believed in one Incarnation, that he preferred that attitude of the Hindus who say that Vishnu incarnates himself many times. So he say he as given up an exclusive faith for a more inclusive faith in this regard. But when one looks at the so-called Incarnations of Vishnu, he wonders where Toynbee's sense of history has gone when the list shows: A boar, a tortoise, a fish, a dwarf, a man lion, Parasuram, Rama, Krishna, Buddha. We must dismiss the first six as not worth consideration and look at the last three. Rama was a warrior and a spotty character; the Krishna of history is not only spotty, he is shady while the Krishna of the Gait is not historical. Buddha would be a strange incarnation of God where he himself did not believe in God. The list is looked on by the Hindus themselves as unsatisfactory, for they are looking for the Nishkalank Avatar--the Spotless Incarnation, implying that the others are spotty.

 

    When Krishnamurti, whom Mrs. Besant put forth as the coming messiah, returned from a trip to the West to the college he had founded, the students said to him, "Talk to us about your travels rather than being the Messiah," for they knew he wasn't. And he knew he wasn't, so he has renounced the idea and had dropped out of the picture. I talked with him and heard him swear, Oh, d-- it all," referring to his messiahship. A Hindu put it this way, "There is no one else bidding for the heart of humanity except Jesus. There is no one else on the field." And there isn't . Not only do the Scriptures say "the only Son"--history says the same.

 

    O Jesus, we thank Thee that in the sifting of value, Thy values came out on top. In the sifting of persons Thy Person stands above. To whom else shall we go for Thou hast the words of eternal life? Having seen Thee we want to see no other. We thank thee. Amen.

 

Affirmation of the day: All I have to do is to look in the face of Jesus to decide whether there is any other--there cannot be!

 

Monday--Week 4

Heb. 6:1-3

The Perfect Becomes The Progressive

 

    Since there is an "only son," then His Incarnation is the only Incarnation. By its very nature the Word became flesh can be only once--and  once and for all for all men. For if humanity is one, and God is one, then there must be one revelation for all humanity. To have more than one would blur the picture of God and what He is like, and blur the picture of man and what he can be like. The Son of God reveals the one God, and the Son of Man reveals the one humanity. The God-Man reveals both God and man.

 

    Does this perfect and final revelation stop progress? No, it begins it. in every realm of life we discover an ultimate which is the beginning of progress. In the realm of mathematics we discovered that two and two makes four. We do not improve on that--it is fixed. Does that fixed ultimate stop progress? No, it begins it, for on this fixed ultimate you build up your vast mathematical calculations. If you were not sure whether two and two made four or six, you would be blocked. The perfect becomes the progressive. In geometry things equal to the same thing are equal to each other. That is fixed. But upon that fixed ultimate you build up vast geometrical calculations. Again the perfect becomes the progressive. In the realm of music we are adding no new notes to the scale, but within that fixed scale there is infinite range--the perfect becomes the progressive.

 

    In the realm of character there has been revealed a Character Ultimate, the Word of Character has become flesh. The adjective Christlike is the highest descriptive adjective of character both for God and man in any language. Beyond that revelation we will never progress. Does that stop character progress? It begins it. For now we know what the Norm is. Now we know where to head in: we know the goal. That fixed God is the starting point for infinite progress.

 

    O blessed Redeemer and Savior, how can we thank Thee enough for showing us the Father, showing Him in Thyself? For we could never have known unless we had seen. But having seen it sufficeth us. We want no other; we want nothing different. We want Thee. Amen.

 

Affirmation of the day: I see Jesus, and yet I see that there is more to be seen--and so forever!

 

Tuesday--Week 4

Eph. 5:20, 21

The Real Christian The Most Universalized Person

 

     We saw yesterday that the fixed ultimate becomes the beginning point of progress. Until something is fixed, you can never have the progressive. Uncertainty as to the goal means uncertainty as to the way.

 

    So when you become broad and liberal on essentials in the name of universality, you do not become universal; you become hazy and mixed and call it universality. You exchange clarity for fog. In an institution training men and women to go out for Christian service in foreign lands the question of Jesus saying, "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life" was explained by one of the teachers as being "an oriental metaphor for there are many ways." And the head of the institution said: "Jesus has many names--Mohammed, Krishna, Buddha, Confucius." This is the moral and spiritual flog into which we get when we lose the Norm. The emphasis of the institution was that the representative should go out and love people. But you cannot love people unless you love truth and reality.

   

    Besides we do not know what love is unless you see it in Him who was love. "By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren." (I John 3:16) "By this we know love"--we know love when we see t in the cross and that cross inspires us to lay down our lives for the brethren. When we exchange the Word become flesh for the word become word, it becomes a very sentimental word and fades under realities.

 

    You are not universal when you are less Christian. For the real Christian is the most universalized person on earth. He loves everybody because he love Christ, for he loves everybody in Christ. When it was said of the early Christians: "Behold how those Christians love one another," it was only partially true. The did not only love one another, they also loved their enemies and they loved the unlovely. When we lose Love we will lose love. And more you know Love the more you will know love. Without the Word become flesh you will soon have nothing but the Word become word.

 

    O Love that will not let us go into the vague and marginal, save us from the verbal and make us vital with a love that is Thy love. Let us kindle the flame of our love at the flame of the Love that became flesh. For we know Love only as we see it in Thee. We thank you. Amen.

 

Affirmation for the day: When I am less Christian I am less universal, when I am more Christian I am more universal.

 

Wednesday--Week 4

I Tim. 2:3-6

Co-Redeemers?

 

    There is another phase of the "only Son" which we must consider. The objection is made that Jesus Presented God as Father, but not God as Mother, and therefore lacks universality. The difference between a mother-love and a father-love as defined by Fromm in The Art of Loving is: "Mother's love is unconditional, it is all-protective, all enveloping; because it is unconditional it can also not be controlled or acquired. Since mother loves her children because they are her children, and not because they are good, obedient, or fulfill her wishes and commands, mother's love is based on equality." On the other hand: "The nature of fatherly love is that he makes demands, establishes principles and laws, and that his love for the son depends on the obedience of the latter to these demands."

 

    In Jesus both of these types of love blend--He is "grace," that is the mother-love side, and He is "truth," that is the father-love side. In the son the qualities of the mother and father came together. So in Jesus, the Son, the mother-quality of "grace" and the father-quality of "truth" came together and are one. We do not need, therefore, to piece out Jesus, as in Roman Catholicism, to make Him universal by bringing in the mother, Mary. They have lost Jesus as alive, and she is more alive to Roman Catholicism than Jesus. They are now about to make Jesus and Mary Co-Redeemers. Usually it was "The Sacred Heart of Jesus," but I saw a Church called "The Sacred Hearts," and there were two hearts, not one.

 

 But in the living and real Jesus we see the Motherhood of God and the Fatherhood of God, for He is full of grace and truth. "How often I would have gathered you together as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings"--the Motherhood side. "But ye would not. Behold your house is left unto you desolate"--the Fatherhood side. Love and Law meet in Him, for all Love is Law and all Law is Love. In Him they are one. He is tender and terrible--in one hand, grace and in the other hand, judgment.

 

    O Jesus, my Lord, I see Thee as all-inviting, so I come with all my heart. But I see Thee as all-demanding, so I give Thee my whole will and obedience. And I am grateful for both, Thou art my all, for I see All in Thee. And I bring Thee my All. Amen

 

Affirmation of the day: The strictness of God is my salvation--He saves me from myself.

 

Thursday--Week 4

Gal. 2:19-21

Grace Upon Grace

 

    We continue to study John 1:14-16. The next portion says: "And from his fullness have we all received grace upon grace."

 

    There is an objection which Bonhoeffer makes when he speaks of "cheap grace," when grace demands nothing but "faith." It is true that "grace" can be so interpreted as to become "cheap"--"believe and you are saved." But this is a caricature of "grace." Grace has law in it, and the law is the law of self-surrender. The gift of grace is a very expensive gift, for if you take the gift you belong forever to the giver. He binds you to His heart with cords of love that hold you forever, but you wouldn't have it otherwise for worlds. So accepting grace is not a mental assent--it is a life response. He gives all, and you cannot give less in return. It is my all for His all and His all for my all. It is mutuality, but not equality, for His all is infinitely grater than my all. But it is my all, therefore not cheap.

 

    And since we know that, we can safely receive "grace upon grace." For my self-surrender is once and for all and yet continuous. So if I am taking grace continuously, I am giving my all continuously. But I know I am getting the better bargain continuously. Therefore, it is "amazing grace" that would give so graciously and lavishly. But if lavish giving on His part provokes lavish giving in return on our part, then it is safe giving.

 

    So now He is free to give with both hands. For He is not spoiling us, He is despoiling us! For the more He gives, the more He receives--from us!

 

    This "grace upon grace" actually depicts something that is unexhausted and inexhaustible, and it makes reach on tiptoe to give and receive more. The Christian life is a life of endless adventure in receiving in receiving and giving. We never outgrow Him and we never out give Him. It is endless mutuality--and effortless mutuality.

 

    O Divine Redeemer, I see and am on tiptoe to see more. I receive and am on tiptoe to receive more. For Thou dost quench thirst and create thirst. The more I receive, the more my heart cries, "More." I am endlessly satisfied and endlessly seeking. I thank Thee. Amen.

 

Affirmation of the day: My life be one vast illustration of "grace upon grace."

 

Friday--Week 4

Gal. 2:16-19

We have A Law

 

    We continue to look at our passage: "For the law was given through Moses: grace and truth came through Jesus Christ" (John 1:17). Here the essential difference between the Hebrew system and the Christian is shown in one brief sentence. When we speak of the Hebrew-Christian system and hyphenate these two words as if they were a continuation--are not continuous--they are discontinuous. There is a break--a radical break. this verse puts that break in the "but": "The law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." While the Jewish faith was a preparation for Christianity, the Christian faith is also a reversal. It stands in contrast in basic conception. "The Law was given through Moses," that is the Word become word; "but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ," that is the Word become flesh. One is built around an abstract law, the other around a concrete Person. This is not a difference in degree--it is a difference in kind. The end product is different-one produced  the Pharisee--correct, legal, proud, separate; the other produced the Christian--humble, receptive, loving, self-giving.

    The Jews said: "We have a Law" ; we can say, "We have a Person." They add: We have a law and by that law he ought to die." And we may add: "We have a Person, and by being a Person He is, he willingly die for man." One ends in retribution--"He ought to die," the other in redemption--"I lay down my life for them."

    The Jews of Jerusalem have a saying, according to one of them, "The Messiah will never come, and Ben Gurion will never go." They are right. The kind of Messiah they are looking for--one who will conquer their foes and make Israel supreme by physical arms--will never come.

    The Jews, I am told, never read the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah, for there the suffering, self-giving Messiah is shown. He is here--alive.

    O Jesus, Thou are "grace and truth." Thou are what we seek in the Godhead and find there. Thou are all I want--and more. For in Thee I seek and find my Heavenly Father and finding Him I want naught beside. For I'm not a subject asking for a Law, but a Son asking for a Father. Amen.

Affirmation of the day: My Law is a Life, my Code is a Character, my obedience is an enabling.

Saturday--Week 4
I Cor. 2:1-5

Jesus Was The Message

     We meditate upon the last line of the wonderful passage: "No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known" (John 1:18). "No one has ever see God"--that rules out all dogmatic assertions by theologians as to what God is like, all so-called visions of God by mystic dreamers, and it puts a damper on the prophets when they assert that God is this, that, and the other. "No man has seen God"--neither philosopher, nor priest. "The only Son...has made him known." Apart from Jesus we know little or nothing about God the Father, and what we know is wrong.

       You see God in the face of Jesus Christ, His Son, or you do not see Him. You may see your imagination of Him, but you do not see Him. That is what Jesus meant when He said: "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, no man cometh to the Father, but by me." Through Moses you can come to Jehovah and all that conception contains and can give;  through Confucius you can come to Heaven and all that conception contains and can give; through Buddha you can come to the Vast Question Mark and all that conception holds and can give;  through Shankara you can come to Brahma and all the that conception holds and can give; through Krishna you can come to Vishnu and all that conception holds and can give; through the modern philosophers and theologians you can come to the Reality about God, you must come through the Son. For He said: "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father." So if you haven't seen something else. The emphasis here is upon "the Father"--you see the Father only in the Son. Note I say, "in the Son," not merely "by" or "through," but "in". "God who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past with the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken to us by his Son." Heb. 1:1-2 KJV ("in the Son," N.E.B.). Note "through the prophets" and "in the Son." The prophets brought a message; Jesus was the Message. The Gospel was in His Person.

    O Jesus, I see the Father in Thee--in what Thou are, in what Thou doest, in what Thou sayest--in everything about Thee. Thou art the silence of eternity interpreted by love. Thou are the language of eternity translated into speech of time. Thou are my God. Amen.

Affirmation of the day: When Jesus speaks, the eternities listen, for they know their Master's voice.
 

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