2014-Mar/April-Issue -Article 08-Advantages in Christ

2014-MarApr-104x136

Rich Incentives

Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom (Luke 12:32 NAS).

Tom Ruggirello

The Memorial of Jesus’ death is one of the few observances that we are asked to keep. We keep this observance not merely in obedience but because it is a privilege for us to honor someone as great as our Lord. Because he gave so much, and set such an extraordinary example of living a consecrated life to God, we pay this tribute to him.

In everything that he did, and in everything that he said, he never pointed to himself. His purpose was to give glory to the Father, and he did that with every fiber of his being. What a legacy he has left! What a model he will have been when all creation begins to learn what faith and obedience are all about!

The Apostle Paul put it this way: “Though being in God’s form, he did not meditate a usurpation to be like God, but divested himself, taking a bondsman’s form, having been made in the likeness of men; and being in condition as a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:6-8 Diaglott).

The more we study Jesus’ life, the more we understand the tremendous advantages that we could never hope to have otherwise.

God Now Within Reach

One of the major benefits the consecrated receive because of Jesus is that God is now within our reach. The scope of that is difficult to comprehend because so much about God is invisible to us. He is the brilliance behind all of creation. He has the power of all the stars and galaxies in the palm of His hand. He has billions of angels serving Him day and night, and yet, He is accessible to the consecrated. “To as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God” (John 1:12). Life without God is meaningless. This is one of the profound lessons in the permission of evil. Life without God is empty.

The principles He stands for, the perfection of His attributes, the beauty of His character, the love that pours out of Him, is now available to us because of the atonement that Jesus provided. To be sons of God is no small claim. Jesus promised that when he left this earth, God’s Spirit would be sent as a comforter and teacher. That was a promise to have the influence of God right within us. His presence with us now makes it possible for us to be lifted to a higher plane of existence, to a higher morality and goodness. His patience in molding us to His image is seen through His daily dealings with us and the gentleness of a Father who dearly loves His children. Jesus made that relationship possible and we praise him for that!

Jesus Alongside Us

Not only has Jesus opened up access to God, but he has also made himself accessible to us. He is our head who gives us direction. He is our example and has set a standard for us to follow. He is our sympathetic High Priest to whom we can go to for understanding and mercy. He is our great apostle and teacher who has brought truth to light and opens our minds to new insights about God and His Plan.

He is our shepherd who provides for our daily needs, who heals our wounds and protects us from enemies. He is our bridegroom who loves us and wants to be one with us. He is our brother who has shared the experiences of the Narrow Way and is encouraging us on to victory. He is our friend. Jesus said, “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Yes, we have tremendous advantages with Jesus by our side.

Hope

“If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied. But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:19-22 NAS).

The Apostle’s logic is powerful. When Jesus was resurrected he became the first fruit from the dead. He became the guarantee that others would follow. The resurrection of the Church then is just as sure as the fact that the resurrection of Jesus has taken place. If we can believe that he was resurrected, then we can believe just as strongly that those who follow him unto death will someday be raised out of death as he was.

Hope for an eternity of life can profoundly change our perspective. It gives us reason to endure the hardships of this life, and not just endure them, but rejoice in them because we can see meaning and purpose in them. God is a loving father who thinks of the welfare of his children and plans for ways of doing them good. God’s Divine Plan is a blueprint for blessings.

The Seed of Promise

Another advantage the Church has because of Jesus is the promise that it will be part of the promised seed that will bless all the families of the earth. We look out at the world today and feel sorry for the suffering. We are sad when we see the millions who go hungry. We are distressed by the number of poor and homeless. Sin has blighted the human family.

The dying process is a sickening ordeal. But the promise that God has made to the consecrated is that they will have a hand in removing all of these burdens. What a wonderful prospect! Sin has blighted the human family. Our covenant will be the instrument that will remove that curse and leave a pure and perfect race.

This means a far better hope for us because Jesus has become our priest by the oath of God. Other men have been priests without any sworn guarantee, but Jesus has the oath of him that said, “The Lord sware, and will not repent himself, Thou art a priest forever. And he is, by virtue of this fact [by God’s oath], the living guarantee of a better agreement” (Hebrews 7:20-22 Phillips). This is an assurance that all of God’s promises will become a reality. Jesus is the living guarantee of a better covenant. There can be no greater confirmation of the promise than the oath of God, as manifested through the resurrected Jesus.

“God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Revelation 21:4). This promise represents the epitome of the kingdom work. It captures the essence of the work God has in store for Jesus and the Church. We wait in faith, patiently, for that great work to begin. While no amount of activity by the Christian today could solve the world’s problems, it will not be true forever. Hunger, poverty, and all the social ills of society will be eliminated under the rule of Christ. Because of Jesus, each of us who walk in his footsteps can be a part of the reconstruction of mankind. That desire should burn in our hearts.

Our Brotherhood

A final advantage to those in Christ is the brotherhood which he established. Jesus knew that the way of the New Creation would be difficult. Some of his final thoughts on earth were for those who would be united as brethren of his Church. He prayed earnestly for the unity of the body. “That they may all be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: … and the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one” (John 17:21,22).

The unity of his followers was of vital concern to Jesus. He wanted them to have the same unity of spirit that he had with his Father, a unity of spirit that was so close that they could be considered one. This is not unrealistic. If we strive for unity of spirit we are honoring him just as much as we honor him when we partake of the memorial emblems.

We should never underestimate the value of fellowship with like-minded brethren. If we can see one another through the Lord’s eyes, and through his blood, then we can achieve the unity for which Jesus prayed. The memorial season is an appropriate time to increase our efforts to see each other through the Lord’s eyes. We will then be more forgiving and more prone to finding ways to bless them. It prepares us to better follow Jesus throughout the coming year.

Our Daily Memorial

When Jesus gave us the Memorial symbols he said, “Do this in remembrance of me.” We gladly do that in a special celebration once a year. However, we can also find ways to remember Jesus every day of our Christian walk. When we seek out God in our everyday experiences, we are remembering Jesus. When we seek after a greater measure of truth, we honor Jesus. When we cherish the brethren, we follow his command to love one another. When we love our enemies, we copy Jesus’ example. When we sacrifice for the Lord in humble submission, we are following his footsteps. These daily efforts help us to remember him.

“I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: … ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; saying with a loud voice, worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the Throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever” (Revelation 5:11-13).

 

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