May 302014
 

Radiance of gods gloryThe Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.” (Hebrews 1:3)

This is another name of Jesus which totally blows out of the water any idea that Jesus was anyone other than God Himself. In order to understand what it means we first need to have some idea about what God’s glory is.

The word “glory” means “brightness.” It says in 1Timothy 6:16: “he who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see.” In the book of Ezekiel, we read that the prophet had a vision of heaven. He described the throne room of God, saying: “And the glory of the Lord went up from the cherub to the threshold of the house, and the house was filled with the cloud, and the court was filled with the brightness of the glory of the Lord.” (Ezekiel 10:4). When the Lord came to the Israelites at Mount Sinai, it describes His appearance as such…”Now the appearance of the glory of the Lord was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel.” (Exodus 24:17)

The word ‘glory’ not only implies extreme brightness but also carries with it a sense of ‘heaviness’ or ‘weightiness’. When Solomon’s temple was finished, God’s glory filled it so that the priests were not even able to stand up…”And when the priests came out of the Holy Place, a cloud filled the house of the Lord, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord.” (1 Kings 8:10-11). It was more than the brightness of God’s presence which prevented them from standing. It was the sheer weight of His glory.
Now that we have an idea of what the glory of the Lord is, let’s look at the fact that Jesus is the radiance of that glory. God’s glory is communicated through Jesus Christ, but it would be a mistake to say that He merely reflects glory. It is important to understand that “radiance” does not mean reflection. When we see a full moon in a clear sky it appears to be shining pretty brightly, but of course it has no ability in and of itself to shine at all. It is a lifeless piece of rock, its brightness is just a reflection of the sun’s light. Jesus’ radiance is not like that. The sun’s light is radiated from the centre of our solar system. Christ is not reflecting God’s glory, as the moon reflects the sun, but He is the radiance of God’s glory, as the light and energy waves bring the power of the sun to us.

Without light waves, we would not see the sun. Without its energy being transmitted to earth, we would not feel its heat. Like the sun’s beams, the radiating lines of the Son’s glory are too numerous to count. Have you ever tried counting sunbeams? It can’t be done; it would be like trying to count airwaves in the wind. Without Jesus Christ, we could not see God. But now, because Christ has come, we have seen God.

Even thinking about the brightness and strength of the sun doesn’t do it justice. One day the sun will be replaced by the glory of God and there will be no more night because the glory of the Lord will illuminate the new heavens and the new earth: “And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.” (Revelation 21:23). “And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.” (Revelation 22:5).

I leave you with a wonderful thought that the more time we spend with Jesus, the more His radiance reflects off us. The more we spend time with Him the more we are becoming like Him and are being changed. This will attract others to Him: “and we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

 May 30, 2014  Posted by at 12:00 pm Names of Jesus 1 Response »
May 212014
 

Firstborn over all creation Last week we looked at Jesus being the ‘image of the invisible God’ and before we leave this passage in Colossians, I want to look at verses 15-20 in all their glorious majesty but with specific reference to Jesus being the ‘firstborn over all creation’. Here’s the full 5 verses in all their magnificence..

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

You see there was a bit of Gnosticism creeping into the church at Colossae about whether Jesus really was God with a big G or god with a small g. Paul sets the record straight in no uncertain terms with his whole letter, but what does ‘firstborn over creation’ actually mean.

The word ‘firstborn’ is translated from the Greek word ‘prototokos’ and as with many words translated from one language to another it is very difficult to sum up in just one word. If you look at it, you will see the similarities with another word, ‘prototype’ and that is roughly what Jesus is. Prototype being the first one, he came first.

Some have tried to deny the divinity of Jesus (i.e. that Jesus is God) from this phrase by arguing that Jesus was created first of everything that was created, and if He is a created “thing”, He cannot be God. This argument completely ignores the context in which this phrase was written. Firstly it comes immediately after the phrase we looked at last week about Jesus being the exact representation of God. He wasn’t a copy or a lesser thing but God himself in human representation.

Secondly the word Prototokos doesn’t necessarily refer to just the one born first, it is a title of the one considered to have that special status conferred upon them. In the culture of the Ancient Near East, the first-born was not necessarily the oldest child. First-born referred not to birth order but to rank. The first-born possessed the inheritance and leadership.
We see in a number of places in the bible where the title ‘Firstborn’ is given to someone other than the first one to be physically born such as Jacob over Esau and David over his brothers as shown in Psalm 89:27. Jesus has pre-eminence and first place rights over everything that exists.

The description “firstborn over all creation” speaks also of Christ’s pre-existence. He is not a creature but the eternal Creator as shown in John 1:10.

He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him

God created the world through Christ and redeemed the world through Christ (Hebrews 1:2-4) and he now has control over the created order.
Notice too that Jesus is referred to as also being the “firstborn from the dead”. Jesus was not the first person ever raised from the dead; a number of people throughout the Bible were raised from the dead before Him; Elijah raised the widow of Zarephath’s son in 1 Kings 17:22 and Jesus raised Lazarus in John 11. But Jesus holds first place among all who have or will be raised from the dead because of what His resurrection accomplished and provides.
This is glorious news, because he is Firstborn and ruler over created things he will keep and protect those of us who are trusting in his resurrection and one day we will celebrate with Him a new created order in the new heavens and the new earth.

 May 21, 2014  Posted by at 9:09 pm Names of Jesus, Uncategorized No Responses »
May 152014
 

Image of the invisible God He is the image of the invisible God…(Colossians 1 v 15)

The bible is full of the most amazing statements that would take an eternity to unpack. I guess that is the nature of any statements about God which by nature go way beyond our understanding. Today we look at an amazing mystery in just 5 words.

The first word ‘image’ could mean quite a few things in English so let’s see what the original Greek word actually means. The word is ‘Eikon’ which has no direct translation into English, the closest being ‘image’

A Greek dictionary will define the term as ‘mirror-like representation’ referring to what is very close in resemblance, something that exactly reflects its source (what it directly corresponds to). It assumes a prototype, of which it not merely resembles, but from which it is drawn. It is more than a “shadow”; rather it is a replication. It is the same word used in 2 Corinthians 4:4

In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

So Jesus then is more than a vague representation of God, someone who resembles Him like a child resembles a parent. He is the exact representation. Jesus has all the qualities that God the father has in complete measure; His righteousness, justice, purity and love. He doesn’t have them to a lesser degree as a cheap copy, He has them fully.

There are other clues and images of God in things such as creation

For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. (Romans 1:20)

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. (Psalm 19:1)

Also created man reflects His image:

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness (Genesis 1:26)

With it (the tongue) we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. (James 3:9)

The examples of creation and mankind give an idea, an impression, but only Jesus reflects Gods image perfectly.

So why does He need to represent the other two members of the trinity? Because they are invisible. Jesus is the only one who can be seen. It would be very difficult for mankind to grasp all these qualities of God through some abstract concept. God made it easy for us to understand what He is like. Jesus came into the world and represented God in His very essence. Jesus said in John 14:9

Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father

And also in Colossians 2:9 For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily.

It is an amazing thought that by following Jesus we are being changed into His image, we are being shaped into the very image of God.

 May 15, 2014  Posted by at 10:41 pm Uncategorized No Responses »
May 082014
 

Ancient of days As we’ve mentioned before, the concept of the trinity is all over the pages of the bible, but it will never quite be something we will be able to fully grasp. How can God be three distinct persons but still only one? Today’s name for Jesus, “Ancient of Days”, is another concept which is somewhat blurred at the edges. Let me explain: This title appears three times in the bible and all three instances are in the book of Daniel, chapter 7. Verses 9 and 22 seem to be referring to Jesus and verse 13 to God the father. Here they are:

As I looked, thrones were placed, and the Ancient of Days took his seat; his clothing was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames; its wheels were burning fire”. (Daniel 7:9).

I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him.” (Daniel 7:13).

“..until the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was given for the saints of the Most High, and the time came when the saints possessed the kingdom.” (Daniel 7:22).

What may possibly cause further confusion is the fact that we often assume the God depicted as clothed in white and having a snowy white beard to be God the father. However, in verse 9 He is clearly described as sitting on a seat of judgement, the role given to Jesus. Jesus is the one with snow white hair! In this passage, verse 13, Jesus is presented to God the father as the ‘Ancient of Days’.

Confusing? It shouldn’t be. As I have already mentioned, we will always struggle with the “3 but 1” concept. However what we do know is that God the father and God the son have always existed, therefore they can both be legitimately called ‘Ancient of Days’.

This term speaks of God being outside of time and before time existed. He actually bought time into existence. In Genesis 1 He created day and night- measurements of time. Psalm 90:2 refers to Him as being from everlasting to everlasting and Isaiah 44:6 as ‘The first and the last’.

Do you know we can really trust the God who knows the end from the beginning? We can easily become indignant when we don’t receive answers to our prayers exactly when we want them. We should remind ourselves that our loving father is the creator of time. He is outside of time, He sees all, knows all. Our prayers are limited; we see only in part and actually know very little. He answers our prayers at exactly the right time-not too soon, not too late. Trust Him, His timing is perfect!

 May 8, 2014  Posted by at 9:14 pm Uncategorized No Responses »
May 022014
 

Alpha and OmegaThis week we will be continuing in the ‘Names of Jesus’ series which started right back at the start of the year. Many of these aren’t strictly names; some of them are titles, but they all give a different aspect of our wonderful saviour and are well worth meditating on.

The trinity is not a concept mentioned by name in the bible but its ideas are there throughout its pages. Today’s title is an example of that. It could just as easily be a title for God the father as for God the son. It is ‘Alpha and Omega’ and it is found three times in the book of Revelation (Revelation 1:8, Revelation 21:6 and Revelation 22:13).

Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet and they signify completeness. This idea is also found in the Old Testament in Isaiah 44:6, “Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god.” It is interesting to note that these are among the last words spoken by Jesus in the whole of the bible.

God is the Alpha, the beginning of all things. Our minds cannot comprehend that before time began, God was there. He was there in the beginning but He Himself has no beginning. Scientists have tried to understand how it all started by considering theories such as ‘the big bang’, but God was there before any big bang. There has never been a time when God hasn’t existed. The bible puts it well in Colossians 1:17, “And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

As our Alpha, God is there from the moment of our conception, to birth, to our first school, our first everything; everything we start He knows about and He is in control over.

The comforting thing for some is the fact that God is also the Omega, the end of all things. He knows our trials and tribulations, He knows when they will come to an end and He is able to sustain us in everything we go through.

What He starts He is also able to complete. It is no coincidence that these three passages are in the book of Revelation, speaking about the end of history when everything gets wrapped up, loose ends tied and final judgements are made. There is no doubt that when the final time arrives, Jesus will return.

I mentioned that for some this is comforting; for others it is not. At the end of all things there will be a final judgement and we will all be judged, every single one of us. For some (those of us who have accepted Jesus as our Lord and saviour), the judgement has already been taken by Jesus. Whatever happens throughout our lives, when we get to the end and we are still trusting in Jesus, we will find that our debt has been paid. For others, however, the final judgement will be a terrifying thing. Jesus is the end of judgement. Nothing gets passed Him, everything is judged perfectly and righteously and when the final judgement is pronounced that will be it…Omega.

The most important question we can ask ourselves now is, who are we trusting in? If it is in ourselves then we are in big trouble. If it is in Jesus we are secure. There is no time to wait because we don’t know when the end will be, but we know for sure that it will certainly happen.

 May 2, 2014  Posted by at 12:00 pm Names of Jesus No Responses »