Pre-fleshly State of Christ Part 9 of 9 series: Harmony of the Gospels

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

13 (Acts 19:3) “And he said to them, “Into what then were you baptized?” So they said, “Into John’s baptism.” When the apostle raised the question of baptism, he found out that these men knew only about John’s baptism. In other words, the extent of their knowledge was that the Messiah was at hand, and they had signified their repentance by baptism as a necessary preparation for receiving Him as King. They did not know that Christ had died, had been buried, and had risen from the dead and ascended back to heaven, and that He had sent the Holy Spirit.13
14 (Rev. 14:6) “Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people.”14
15 (Ps. 19:6) “Its rising is from one end of heaven, And its circuit to the other end; And there is nothing hidden from its heat.” There is nothing hidden from the heat of the sun. It enjoys universal exposure, pervading every remote corner and crevice of the world.15
16 (Rom. 10:18) “But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed: “Their sound has gone out to all the earth, And their words to the ends of the world.” What then has been the problem? Haven’t both Jews and Gentiles heard the gospel preached? Yes. Paul borrows the words of Psalm 19:4 to show that they have. He says, Yes, indeed: “Their sound has gone out to all the earth, And their words to the ends of the world.” But the surprising thing is that these words from Psalm 19 are not speaking of the gospel. Rather, they describe the universal witness of the sun, moon, and stars to the glory of God. But as we said, Paul borrows them and says, in effect, that they are equally true of the worldwide proclamation of the gospel in his own day. By inspiration of the Spirit of God, the apostle often takes an OT passage and applies it in quite a different way. The same Spirit who originally gave the words surely has the right to reapply them later on.16
17 (Mt. 5:15) “Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.” People do not light a lamp and put it under a basket. Instead, they put it on a lampstand so that it will give light to all who are in the house. He did not intend that we hoard the light of His teaching for ourselves, but that we share it with others. We should let our light so shine that as people see our good works; they will glorify our Father in heaven. 17
18 (Jn. 16:28) “I came forth from the Father and have come into the world…” Here the Lord repeated His claim to equality with God the Father. He did not say, “I came forth from God” as if He were just a Prophet sent by God, but “I came forth from the Father.” This means He is the eternal Son of the eternal Father, equal with God the Father. He came into the world as One who had lived elsewhere before His Coming. 18
19 (Jn. 1:12) But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name. He offers Himself to all mankind again and to those who receive Him, He gives the right or authority to become children of God. This verse tells us clearly, how we can become children of God. It is not by good works, not by church membership, not by doing one’s best—but by receiving Him, by believing in His Name.19
20 (Mt. 17:1-2) “Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light.” Jesus took Peter, James, and John up to a high mountain, somewhere in Galilee. These three, who seem to have occupied a place of special nearness to the Savior, were privileged to see Him transfigured. Up to now, His glory had been veiled in a body of flesh. But now His face and clothes became radiant like the sun and dazzling bright, a visible manifestation of His deity, just as the glory cloud or Shekinah in the OT symbolized the presence of God. The scene was a preview of what the Lord Jesus will be like when He comes back to set up His kingdom. He will no longer appear as the sacrificial Lamb but as the Lion of the tribe of Judah. All who see Him will recognize Him immediately as God the Son, the King of kings and Lord of lords.
21 The law is pictured as a guardian and guide of children, or as a tutor. This emphasizes the thought of teaching; the law taught lessons concerning the holiness of God, the sinfulness of man, and the need for atonement. Here the word is used to describe one who exercises discipline and general supervision over minors, or the immature.
The law was a Jewish guardian until the coming of Christ. There is a sense in which the law preserved the people of Israel as a distinct nation by regulations concerning marriage, property, foods, etc. When “the faith” came, it was first announced to this nation that had been so miraculously kept by God as His chosen people through the centuries had. Justification by faith was promised on the basis of the finished work of Christ, the Redeemer.21
22 (Lu. 1:72) “To perform the mercy promised to our fathers And to remember His holy covenant.” The Lord had made an unconditional covenant of salvation with Abraham. This promise was fulfilled by the coming of Abraham’s seed, namely, the Lord Jesus Christ.22
23 (I Tim 6:16). “Who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power.” At the appearing of the Lord Jesus, men will also realize that it is God alone who has immortality or deathlessness. This means that He is the only One who has it inherently. Angels have had immortality conferred upon them, and at the resurrection, believers will receive bodies that are immortal (1 Cor. 15:53,1 Cor. 15:54), but God has immortality in Himself.
God is next spoken of as dwelling in unapproachable light. This speaks of the bright, shining glory, which surrounds the throne of God. Man in his natural condition would be vaporized by this splendor. Only those who are accepted in the Beloved One and complete in Christ can ever approach God without being destroyed.
In His essential being, no man has seen God or can see Him. In the OT, men saw appearances of God, known as theophanies. In the NT, God has perfectly revealed Himself in the Person of His beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
However, it is still true that God is invisible to mortal eyes.
To this One, honor and everlasting power are due.23
24 (Mt. 11:27). “All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.” Although we can know Him, love Him, and trust Him, there is a sense in which only the Father can truly understand Him.
But the high mysteries of Thy Name
The creature’s grasp transcend;
The Father only (glorious claim!)
The Son can comprehend.
Worthy, O Lamb of God, art Thou,
That every knee to Thee should bow!
—Josiah Conder

Ultimately, only God is great enough to understand God. Man cannot know Him by his own strength or intellect. But the Lord Jesus can and does reveal the Father to those whom He chooses. Whoever comes to know the Son comes to know the Father also (John 14:7).

Not even in eternity will our finite minds be able to fully appreciate the greatness of God or understand the mystery of the Incarnation. When we read that the Father is revealed only to those whom the Son chooses, we might be tempted to think of an arbitrary selection of a favored few. The following verse guards against such an interpretation. The Lord Jesus issues a universal invitation to all who are weary and heavy-laden to come to Him for rest. In other words, the ones to whom He chooses to reveal the Father are those who trust Him as Lord and Savior. As we examine this invitation of infinite tenderness, let us remember that it was issued after the blatant rejection of Jesus by the favored cities of Galilee. Man’s hate and obstinacy could not extinguish His love and grace.

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