Monthly Archives: December 2012

 

Dec

31

2012

Jared C. Wilson|9:00 am CT

10 Best Books I Read This Year (2012)

Before the year is over, I thought I’d offer my entry to the annual collection of “best of” lists. Two notes: These are the best books I read in 2012, but that does not mean they were published in 2012. Also, as you will see, I tend to read a bit outside the tribe, so to speak. Without further ado, in ascending order:

10. Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion by Janet Reitman

This fascinating history and expose of the brainwashing cult Scientology started by fancy-pants huckster L. Ron Hubbard was a couldn’t-put-it-down read for me. Beginning with the enterprise’s roots in Hubbard’s days writing science fiction, Reitman’s book is meticulously researched but plainly written, culminating in a peek behind the scenes to the trauma of today, from the grooming of vulnerable young celebrities like Tom Cruise and John Travolta to the emotional and physical abuse of cult members’ children. Reitman’s work is an important one.

9. Church Discipline by Jonathan Leeman

The “little red book” from Leeman on church discipline — not to be confused with his big book on the subject, The Surprising Offense of God’s Love, which is also excellent — is one of the entries in 9 Marks’ Building Healthy Churches series. This is a great primer on a sorely neglected facet of the church’s love for Christ. Leeman writes clearly and concisely, no easy feat given he well covers all the exegetical ground and even provides guidance on a host of “what if?” scenarios. I found it extremely helpful. Perhaps a great contribution to your elders’ resources and certainly to your church library.

8. Defiant Grace by Dane Ortlund

This short overview of the gospel depths in the four gospels is like four shots of doxological whisky served straight up. Ortlund talks about the “vertigo” of grace in the book, and he writes toward that end too. This book flew a bit under the radar (I am way overdue on a review of it for Themelios), as Dane tends to do himself, but it deserves a wider read and a long meditation.

7. The Fight by Norman Mailer

Mailer’s eyewitness coverage of the days leading up to the legendary 1975 World Heavyweight clash in Zaire between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman and the fight itself is as visceral and measured as the fighters themselves. He spends most time on the training regimens and character of the fighters. Ali in particular never needed anyone’s help appearing larger than life, but through these two icons of the boxing world, Mailer is able to ruminate ecstatically about race, class, national identity, and, yes, violence. Not for all readers, of course, but if you like literary fiction and non-fiction from genius navel-gazers like Mailer, and you appreciate the bloody ballet of boxing’s heyday, this one could be for you.

6. Fidelity: How to be a One-Woman Man by Douglas Wilson

The rumors of its animus have been greatly exaggerated. What Wilson aims his collar-throttling and acerbic wit at are selfish, chauvinistic, excuse-making husbands. I don’t think that described me before I read this book, but we could all use a good talking-to on sacrificially serving our wives now and again. The theological stuff on sexual sin was really incisive, as well.

5. The Lobster Chronicles: Life on a Very Small Island by Linda Greenlaw

Oh boy, I loved reading this. Greenlaw, a compatriot of the departed fishermen documented in Sebastian Junger’s The Perfect Storm, retired from fishing to become a lobsterman. Lobsterwoman? Yes. This book is sort of about her new career in lobstering, assisted by her dutiful father, but it’s really about the motley crew of interesting people and the unique community they make up — equal parts charming and discomforting — on Isle au Haut, Maine, which is accessed only by boat, normally from Stonington. I confess I may have loved this book mostly because I read it while cozied up in a lovely sea cottage in the very town of Stonington, Maine last summer. Certainly having the salt air in my nose and on my skin while reading it bumped it up a few notches.

4. 1776 by David McCullough

I have never been a big reader of history, and this book was my first effort at making correction. Figured I’d opt for a pretty popular read, thinking the odds of my enjoying it would be better. I was right. McCullough gives great insight not just to the exploits of our founding fathers but to their motivations and grit. I was most moved by the efforts of Henry Knox and his men, lugging Fort Ticonderog’s cannons all the way from the fort to Boston through ice and snow. Whoa.

3. The Fullness of Christ by John Preston

Was directed to this Kindle edition Puritan John Preston’s exposition of John 1:16 by someone online (I forget who, sorry) and am I ever glad I clicked the links to try it out. Pure gospel gold. How can one get a (short) book’s worth of material out of one verse? Well, how full do you think Christ is? Page after page gleams with grace upon grace. One of my favorite passages:

[T]here was in Stephen and the saints the fullness of a container, but in Christ, there is the fullness of a spring. Their fullness was given to them by someone else and so is derivative. In Christ, there is the fullness of a fountain, which proceeds from himself and depends on no one else. The medieval scholastic theologians expressed this well when they said that Christ’s and the saints’ fullness differ as fire and things set on fire. The fullness of the ocean is too small to express this. The removal of even a drop or two diminishes it to some degree, but you can light a thousand torches from the fullness of fire and it is not diminished at all.

2. Delighting in the Trinity by Michael Reeves

Narrowly edging out Preston’s little antique gem is this little modern gem from British theologian and minister Reeves, my most soul-stirring read of 2012. This was the last book I finished this year, just last week, and I’m glad I did. As an introduction to the Christian faith, as the book is billed, it would make a fantastic establishment of new believers in full-fledged Trinitarian faith, but we “old” believers will profit from Reeves’s relentless exulting in the gospel. Read it along with Fred Sanders’s uber-excellent The Deep Things of God and get a refreshing reset on your appreciation of the fullness of God’s work in the gospel.

1. Moby Dick by Herman Melville

I actually started this classic in 2011 but finished it about a week into January. I read the Penguin Classics edition, which is a handsome craftsman’s paperback with interpretative introduction by Melville scholar Nathaniel Philbrick. Moby Dick is one of those rare books that is like what it is about. Meaning, reading it cover to cover is an experience akin to whaling — there are waves upon waves of interminable boredom, of meticulous details, of philosophical ruminations, of feeling adrift at sea and lost forever, of feeling on the verge of losing one’s mind. Punctuated by moments of sheer panicky brilliance and ecstatic mania. Looking for that one big “a ha!” moment that suddenly ties the whole book together is like Ahab’s search for the elusive white whale itself. But a hint: Pay attention to early chapters 8 and 9. Moby Dick is full of great lines too. Here’s one of my favorite passages, from the aforementioned Chapter 8, titled “The Pulpit”:

. . . for the pulpit is ever this earth’s foremost part; all the rest comes in its rear; the pulpit leads the world. From thence it is the storm of God’s quick wrath is first descried, and the bow must bear the earliest brunt. From thence it is the God of breezes fair or foul is first invoked for favorable winds. Yes, the world’s a ship on its passage out, and not a voyage complete; and the pulpit is its prow.

All links are to Amazon, but not affiliate links. If you click through and buy, I don’t earn a dime. Happy reading.

Last year’s list.

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Dec

24

2012

Jared C. Wilson|2:57 pm CT

The Christmas Miracle of the Incarnate Omnipresent Word

A Christmas reflection I wrote for Desiring God last year:

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
– Hebrews 13:8

Every year at this time as we celebrate the birth of baby Jesus to the virgin Mary, I don’t suppose it occurs to too many merrymakers that what they’re really celebrating is the Incarnation. All of the other miracles are in service of that central miracle: God became man. And in becoming, through Spiritual conception, the man Jesus of Nazareth, the Word of God did not cease to be God. Baby Jesus, from the moment of conception to the straw habitation of the manger, was fully God and fully man. That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.

When we put our minds long to the idea of Jesus being one hundred percent God and simultaneously one hundred percent man, they naturally feel overwhelmed. The orthodox doctrine of the Incarnation is compelling, beautiful, biblically sensible, and salvifically necessary, but it is nevertheless utterly inscrutable. And that’s okay. In the end, the Incarnation is not for analysis but for worship.

But when we read Colossians 2:9 — “For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily” — the inscrutability of the Incarnation widens. The baby Jesus who was wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger, was also omnipresent Lord of the universe. Omnipresence is one of God’s impassable attributes; God cannot not be omnipresent. So for Jesus Christ to be God incarnate must not mean he was no longer God omnipresent.

Louis Berkhof concurs:
The doctrine of creation and the doctrine of the incarnation always constituted a problem in connection with the immutability of God . . . However this problem may be solved, it should be maintained that the divine nature did not undergo any essential change in the incarnation.*

Wait a second, you might say. Didn’t Jesus disregard his deity as something to be grasped? Yes, but what Paul is getting at in Philippians 2:5-8 is not that Jesus did not “hold” or “maintain” the fullness of his divinity but that he did not exploit it or leverage it against his experiencing the fullness of humanity. He didn’t pull the parachute, in other words.

Instead, what we see in the wonder of the God-Man is a miraculous extension, not reduction. Jesus “made himself nothing” (Phil. 2:7), yes, but this was not a voiding of his essential deity. It is instead an appraisal of the bewilderment of the Incarnation. The Incarnation posits a self-willed emptying consisting of Jesus’ refusal to employ all divine abilities at his disposal, not an emptying that would consist in a subtraction from the Godhead. The alternatives to simultaneous incarnation and omnipresence are a lesser incarnation on one side or a lesser Godhead on the other.

The words of John Calvin:

For even if the Word in his immeasurable essence united with the nature of man into one person, we do not imagine that he was confined therein. Here is something marvelous: the Son of God descended from heaven in such a way that, without leaving heaven, he willed to be borne in the virgin’s womb, to go about the earth, and to hang upon the cross; yet he continuously filled the world even as he had done from the beginning!**

In Calvin’s estimation, God’s incarnation in Christ was not an exit from heaven so much as a descent, an extension. In his commentary on John’s Gospel, he writes, “So Christ, who ‘is in heaven,’ has clothed himself in our flesh, so that by stretching out his brotherly hand to us he may raise us to heaven with himself.”***

Let us take this cue from Calvin: Here is something marvelous!

This Christmas, let’s marvel that the Incarnation presents to us the fullness of God in the fullness of man, because it proclaims to us the great big gospel of the fullness of God for the fullness of man.

* Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1996), 323-324.

** John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, edited by John T. McNeill, Vol. 1, 2.XIII.iv (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1960), 481.

*** John Calvin, Crossway Classic Commentaries, Packer (Wheaton: Crossway, 1994) 74‐75. John 17:21

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Dec

24

2012

Jared C. Wilson|2:49 pm CT

Peace (and a Sword)

Christmas Eve I saw a stable, low and very bare,
A little child in a manger.
The oxen knew Him, had Him in their care,
To men He was a stranger,
The safety of the world was lying there,
And the world’s danger.

- Mary Elizabeth Coleridge, “The Stable”

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Dec

14

2012

Jared C. Wilson|1:37 pm CT

God Wants the Liabilities

Grateful for Gospel-Centered Discipleship’s featuring an excerpt from my book Gospel Deeps today.

One snippet from the snippet:

This means that God picked us. In the days of my youth in Houston, Texas, I played pick-up basketball or football with my buddies nearly every weekend at our favorite park. When it came time to form teams, I enjoyed very often being the first or second pick. I had serious game, I assure you. Then my wife and I moved to Nashville, Tennessee. I stopped playing sports every weekend.

Several years later on a visit back home, the old gang decided to get together to throw the pigskin around. We began to form teams, and even though I had given no more demonstration of my current fitness level than simply walking from the car to the field, I was picked second to last. Oh, how the mighty had fallen! I was humiliated. All these guys had done was look at me; I guess several years had taken the sheen off their memories of my athletic prowess. I suddenly looked less Tom Brady and more Tom Bosley.

I felt very keenly in that moment how good it feels to be picked. Everybody wants to be picked. The gospel tells an interesting story about being picked. If I had to relate it to my weekend football humiliation, I would put it this way: God looks at the available selection, sees that I have no evident talent or ability and that in fact I give all indications of being a liability to the team, not an asset, and says, “I’ll take him first.”

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Dec

13

2012

Jared C. Wilson|9:50 am CT

Don’t Let Christmas Distract You From Jesus

There is a great danger this Christmas season of missing the point. And I’m not referring simply to idolatrous consumption and materialism. I’m talking about Christmas religiosity. It is very easy around this time to set up our Nativity scenes, host our Christmas pageants and cantatas, read the Christmas story with our families, attend church every time the door is open, and insist to ourselves and others that Jesus is the reason for the season, and yet not see Jesus. With the eyes of our heart, I mean.

I suppose there is something about indulging in the religious Christmas routine that lulls us into thinking we are dwelling in Christ when we are really just set to seasonal autopilot, going through the festive and sentimental motions. Meanwhile the real person Jesus the Christ goes neglected in favor of his plastic, paper, and video representations. Don’t get distracted from Jesus by “Jesus.” This year, plead with the Spirit to interrupt your nice Christmas with the power of Jesus’ gospel.

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Dec

13

2012

Jared C. Wilson|9:41 am CT

Safeguarding Against Abuse In the Church

Yet another story in the news about a church that botched report of sexual abuse on its premises. We are hearing about more and more, and there are still more besides, as the problem is certainly more prevalent than just what we see reported. Quite often in retrospect these cases reveal not simply mistakes made but systemic dysfunctions in a church community and a church’s discipleship culture. Below is a list of safeguards: some are obvious bare minimums, others are harder to implement and run deeper than superficial processes and procedures, but all are ways to help establish a church community as a safe place.

1. All employees and all childcare and youth volunteers, or anyone else who has regular contact with children in the church or as a representative of the church, ought to undergo a criminal background check as thoroughly as possible. It will also help if volunteers in these areas are required to be members of the church, assuming membership in a church entails clear communication about covenant responsibilities and church discipline.

2. A church should have a membership structure and a church should exercise church discipline.

3. Churches ought to have a “safe sanctuary” policy in place. Get consultation with an outside firm if necessary, but have a thorough, thoughtful plan in place that “intentionalizes” safety for children and others at risk. This plan should also include processes and procedures if a known sex offender or abuser wants to attend the church.

4. Every officer in the church should have real accountability. To elders, to the congregation, to real people with real authority in the church body, and to a network or denominational board outside the local body if the church is part of one. And this must be real accountability, real authority, not figureheads or “yes men.” They should be a part of a community group. Church officers, including pastors, must be able to be dismissed, and it must not be inordinately difficult to do so.

5. It must be taught to pastors and counselors that confidentiality is a matter of discernment. Pastors are not priests or lawyers or doctors. They are not bound to confidentiality, nor should they be if someone is in danger. In matters of abuse, it must be taught that confidentiality should be employed only if it genuinely protects a victim, not simply because it will protect a church’s reputation or alternately out of some spiritualized fear of hurting an abuser.

6. On that note, we must educate our church what grace is, what repentance is, what forgiveness is, and what reconciliation is. What do they look like? We must understand that the gospel is often a severe mercy to abusers, even genuinely repentant ones, and so it means consequences — disciplinary in the church, legal outside — and accountability. Too often “grace” for the abuser adds more abuse to his or her victim. But justice can be grace. It is amazing how often churches fail in this regard, pushing for relationships between victims and their abusers, spiritualizing some kind of reconnection as if it honors God when really it is a cheapening of grace and often just a way to sweep events under the church rug. In the kingdom of God, the helpless, the hurting, the trampled on, the abused take precedence. Any truly repentant abuser would agree to that. We must remember that a victim’s safety and healing is vastly more important than a church’s convenience.

7. A church must be honest about what it can and can’t do. Too many churches assume help found outside the church body is by definition “worldly” or that all problems must be handled totally in-house. This is foolishness. A wise church will make use of legal authorities if necessary, qualified and trained biblical counseling services, consultants, etc.

8. The discipleship culture of a church needs transparency and the welcome of grace. It must be a safe place to not be okay. This must be initiated and modeled by those in leadership. If a leader is insular and secretive and un-confessional, if he is not a gracious person or a listening person in the church, he sets a standard for a climate of distrust, secrecy, and fear.

9. A church should make humility a top requirement for leaders. Humility is observable. Look for it. And if it is hard to see in a leader, they should probably not be a leader. Everyone struggles with pride, of course, but leaders with surfacing problems of arrogance or aggression or self-centeredness will always struggle in discerning areas of power and vulnerability, which are very important to sort out in preventing abuse or handling its occurrences. You can’t trust an un-humble person to sort through the fallout of abuse occurring under his watch.

10. The preacher should preach against abuse. I’m not saying it ought to be the theme of his ministry, of course, but every Sunday families come into the church service harboring secret sins involving exploitation of the weak and defenseless. Preachers need to bring the fear of God to abusers who may never otherwise be confronted with it. Victims need to know their preacher knows what’s happening to them is serious sin, even if he doesn’t know it’s happening to them. The subject needs to be put out on the table and people need to know where God, and thus the church, stands on abuse.

There is lots more to be said and studied, but those are some hard thoughts for the moment.

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Dec

12

2012

Jared C. Wilson|10:36 am CT

The Healing Within the Healing: Gospel Deeps in Mark 5:21-43

The depths of God’s love in the gospel of his Son Jesus Christ are fathoms enough for the baptizing of the universe and at the same time safe enough for a baby. The same ocean that offers the foot-soaking shore offers core-slicing trenches veiled in mystery, depths we may never see.

I think we see this glorious truth in the miracle of the raising of Jairus’ daughter, interrupted by the healing of the woman with the bloody discharge. A refresher from Mark’s account:

And when Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered about him, and he was beside the sea. Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing him, he fell at his feet and implored him earnestly, saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live.” And he went with him.

And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him. And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my garments?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’” And he looked around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

While he was still speaking, there came from the ruler’s house some who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” And he allowed no one to follow him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. They came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and Jesus saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. And when he had entered, he said to them, “Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. But he put them all outside and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him and went in where the child was. Taking her by the hand he said to her, “Talitha cumi,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” And immediately the girl got up and began walking (for she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement. And he strictly charged them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.

– Mark 5:21-43

Three gospel applications of this passage may help us see the depths of Christ’s love.

First, there are no little people in the kingdom of God.

Jairus was a ruler of the synagogue, a high muckety muck. The woman clearly is not. In fact, she is considered continually unclean, and therefore untouchable, because of her condition (Leviticus 15:25), which most certainly informs the way she seeks out her healing. She tries to steal it, in effect. And yet Jesus made time for her. Even so, he could have turned around in a huff, treating her as an irritant or annoyance. But he doesn’t. Over and over we see what kinds Jesus goes out of his way to fraternize with, consistently setting the first last and the last first (Matthew 19:30). When the disciples are trying to cordon the children off, hustling them off to “children’s church” perhaps, it is the grown-ups he rebukes. It’s the sick who need a doctor and the poor in spirit who receive the blessing, and so when you tug on Jesus’ garment he doesn’t sigh or roll his eyes. He loves to be pestered. Pester him. His love is that deep.

Secondly, we see in this passage that a weak faith and a strong faith receive the same measure of grace.

Jairus comes — as far as we can tell — fully convinced. He knows that Jesus can heal his daughter and he trusts that Jesus will, so he approaches Jesus directly. The woman instead tries stealth. She trusts that Jesus can heal her, but she isn’t trusting that he will. She’s been burned too many times in the past. And she’s not willing to risk being rejected due to her condition or because of Jesus’ apparent hurry. And when finally confronted, she is full of fear and trembling.

But what does he call the woman? “Daughter” (v.34). He is equating her essentially with Jairus’ daughter, and more importantly establishing her relationship to himself and the Father. This is more wonderful evidence that it is not a strong faith that saves but a true faith. It is proof that the most beat-up and beat-down mustard seed-size of faith, tattered and tiny, will receive the eternal fullness of the glorious riches of Christ. It need not be big; it only need be real. That’s how deep God’s love is.

Finally, the way this encounter develops shows us the bigger picture that on the way to resurrection, our salvation is part of the story.

On his way to raise Jairus’ daughter from the dead, Jesus heals the woman and makes her part of the story. Her healing becomes part of the story of the raising of Jairus’ daughter, an integral part in fact because it is in delaying his journey to care for her that the little girl passes from severe illness into death. And Jesus’ plan is to raise her, not simply heal her.

The narrative here is a mico-picture of the bigger story: Jesus is on his way to die and rise again. Along the way, he is teaching and healing and exorcising demons and eating and sleeping and welcoming and worshiping. He has a plan, and he will get there at the right time. He is on the Father’s business, determined to give himself up that he may be lifted up, but in the meantime, there is time. And all who desire his touch will get it. (I find it special too that Mark, who is the most eager of the Gospel writers to get to the cross and therefore produced the shortest and most urgent-toned of the synoptics, has the longest version of this account, compared to Matthew’s and Luke’s. It is as if he wanted his slowing down to reflect Jesus’ slowing down.)

Like the Bible that reveals it, the gospel is not about us but it is for us. The story is chiefly about God’s glory. But in the gospel we are partakers of that glory. So part of the story of Christ’s death and resurrection is the story of the captives being freed from sin and shame. I am grateful he made time for me! Before the world began he was making space for me! And in heaven now, Jesus is preparing space for me!

Paul writes in Romans 8:32 “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” So as we rush headlong toward the second coming of Christ, there is time enough for the salvation of all who trust in him. He will not come until all God’s children are accounted for in salvation. He is not really slow; he’s patient, and there’s a difference. Peter says in 2 Peter 3:9: “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”

The gospel story is about Christ’s exaltation, but our healing is an integral part of the story — indeed, it is part of his exaltation. The love of Christ is so deep, there is more than enough for you if you want it.

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Dec

11

2012

Jared C. Wilson|8:54 am CT

What’s Worth Staking Your Ministry On?

From a new interview of John Piper by Mark Driscoll:

MD: As you reflect on your time as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist, what were some of the risks you took?

JP: . . . I took a risk less than two years into my ministry by proposing that the Church Covenant be amended to remove the requirement of teetotalism for membership. I’m a teetotaler. But to me, this came so close to Galatianism (the idea that, to be a complete Christian, you need circumcision) that I staked my ministry on it. Some of my supporters were shocked, and the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union chapter said the church had called a liberal who would take us down the road to unbelief. It passed, but barely. I’m still here and have not heard the charge of liberal in a long time.

The gospel is worth centering your ministry around; therefore, anything that reeks of Galatianism is worth risking your ministry to oppose. I’m grateful for Piper’s example, especially in a practical area that would not have affected him personally.

Read the whole thing.

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Dec

10

2012

Jared C. Wilson|11:27 am CT

The Fullness of God Dwells Embryonically

And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.”
– Luke 1:35

Really, the Advent season runs from Genesis 3 onward, and Christmas Day is when the miracle prophesied in Luke 1:35 is fulfilled. For those of us who believe personhood can be derived from Psalm 139:13-15 and Job 31:15, we believe the Incarnation did not begin at Jesus’ birth but at his conception. And if this is so, when Colossians 2:9 says, “For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily,” we know that the fullness of deity dwelled in fertilized ovum.

Will the Empire State Building occupy a doghouse? Will a killer whale fit inside an ant?

And here we are told that omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, utter eternalness and holiness dwelled in a tiny person. This makes Santa coming down a chimney seem a logistical cakewalk.

“The head of all rule and authority” (Col. 2:10) had one of those jelly-necked wobbly baby heads. The government rested on his baby-fatted shoulders (Is. 9:6).

This miracle of addition is important. We must hold it tightly or lose the bigness of the Incarnation. God came as unborn child so that Christ would experience all of humanity. And he experienced all of humanity so that we might receive all of him for all of us.

If God came as a vulnerable, needful, weak baby, we have no need to fear for our own vulnerability, needfulness, and weakness. He emptied himself (Phil. 2:7) so that we would not see our own emptiness as a hopeless cause. “As you received him” — desperate, helpless, desirous — “so walk in him” (Col. 2:6). The miracle of the God-Baby proclaims the gospel’s specialty: rescue of the helpless.

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Dec

06

2012

Jared C. Wilson|10:04 am CT

How Our Fullness and Christ’s Fullness Differ

“[T]here was in Stephen and the saints the fullness of a container, but in Christ, there is the fullness of a spring. Their fullness was given to them by someone else and so is derivative. In Christ, there is the fullness of a fountain, which proceeds from himself and depends on no one else. The medieval scholastic theologians expressed this well when they said that Christ’s and the saints’ fullness differ as fire and things set on fire. The fullness of the ocean is too small to express this. The removal of even a drop or two diminishes it to some degree, but you can light a thousand torches from the fullness of fire and it is not diminished at all.”

– John Preston, The Fullness of Christ

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