We have shared other devotionals by my friend Dallas Burdette before, with positive feedback. Here is his latest. Please keep Dallas in your prayers, as he is experiencing health problems.
God’s Coming in the Flesh
Calls for Renewal
Dallas Burdette PhD
What does God’s coming in the flesh mean to us? How do we view our relationship to God, to Christ, and to the Holy Spirit? Is there true commitment on our part to the kingdom of God and His righteousness? Since we are the people of God, we should reexamine our lives to see if there is renewal within our lives to the things of God. Our study of the Bible, our spiritual singing, and our meeting with God’s people are constant reminders of Jesus and of our redemption. Our study of the Hebrew Scriptures reveals the children of Israel as the “people of God,” which designation is the basic definition of the Church. The Church is the rightful successor to the remnant of Israel and stands in the continuous history of God’s promise to the nation that the Messiah would come through Judah (Genesis 49:10), which history is still governed by the same design of God-a people premeditated to carry out good works and to bear fruit for His kingdom (Ephesians 2:4-10; Luke 3:9; Hebrews 13:15-21).
When God’s unique community reflects upon its own renewal, we cannot help but reflect upon God’s call for the rekindling of our zeal over and over in our lives (Romans 12:9-21; 1 Peter 2:4-10). The prophets of old recorded with brute frankness the need for revitalization on the part of His people (Jeremiah 7:1-11). The coming of the Redeemer is announced in the Old Testament (Genesis 3:15; 22:17-18; Numbers 24:17; Deuteronomy 18:15; Isaiah 9:6-9; 11:1-11). This event is embedded within the history of God’s people who murmured against Him who sought to save them. Beginning with the Book of Genesis and continuing through the Book of Malachi, we witness God seeking His people and, at the same time, making known an event that would change the world-the coming of His Messiah to redeem lost humanity (John 1:1-14). As we read and reflect upon the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings, we need to keep in mind that there is a common thread that runs throughout the entire Old Testament Revelation-the coming of the Messiah. With the coming of Jesus, we observe that a new power invaded history-God became flesh (1 Timothy 3:16).
God’s New Israel (the church) is to guard itself against the mindset of Old Israel, which nation was characterized by ingratitude and disobedience to the God to whom it owed everything (Isaiah 1:1-21). In spite of their acts of rebellion, God continued to work for the salvation of His people. Over and over again, we perceive pure grace from God to the nation of Israel. God foretold the day when He would enter into a New Covenant with the house of Israel (Jeremiah 31:31-34). God’s New Covenant is none other than Jesus Himself (Isaiah 42:6). This New Covenant is associated with repentance. Under the New Covenant we are confronted with the God who does not give up His plan of salvation for the redemption of lost humanity. God’s plan of salvation is easy-salvation by grace through faith in the finished work of Christ upon Calvary (Romans 3:21-31; Galatians 2:14-16; 3:15-16).
For those who respond to God’s Way of salvation by faith, this response demands repentance as well as faith in Jesus as the Way (Mark 1:14-15). In Galilee, Jesus began His ministry with the call to “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near” (Matthew 4:17). To repent is to turn from our old lifestyles to a new way of life (Ephesians 2:1-10). What does it mean to repent? Renewal is to give up our previous ungodly conduct. Again, what is the old approach to life? It is the way of rebellion against God and His Law; it is the way of self-seeking; and it is the way of self-absorption. There is a tendency among many of us to think that God’s election is a guarantee of our salvation in spite of our behavior. Just a casual glance at the Old Testament prophets reveals that God pronounced a woe upon all who refused to live holy lives. God proclaimed wrath upon all those who were at ease in Zion (Amos 6:1).
Isaiah (739 BC), Jeremiah (627 BC), and Ezekiel (593 BC) prophesied concerning God’s New Covenant. Unlike the Old Testament Law, God’s Law is now inscribed upon the hearts of men and women-the law of love, which law entails loving one another as Jesus has loved us (John 13:34; Romans 15:7). Ezekiel expresses the “age to come” this way: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26). Because of what God has done for us, we should renew our wills to obedience to God. Remember, the New Covenant is not embodied in a Law, but in a Person.
The Servant (Jesus Messiah) is the New Covenant. It is not possible for us to go on living in the old way when we come face-to-face with the kingdom of God, which kingdom was announced by John the Baptist and Jesus the Messiah. Daniel (605 BC) announced this Messianic kingdom over six hundred years before its arrival (Daniel 2:44). As we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, we cannot help but recall that Jesus’ Twelve disciples stood on the threshold of the new world (a new heaven and a new earth, see 2 Peter 3:10-13). The past event of the Exodus from Egypt finds its ultimate fulfillment realized in the Kingdom of God. The coming of Jesus is the in-breaking of a new age-the age of grace in its fullness (Galatians 4:1-7). The set phrase, the Israel of God, has now been transferred to the saints in the Kingdom of God.
The New Jerusalem is here, that is to say, the new heaven and the new earth (Revelation 21:1-4), which is the church of firstborn ones (Hebrews 12:22-29). The bodily Resurrection of Jesus is the victory over spiritual death, which death is overcome through His Atonement upon the Cross of Calvary. Today, we are the beneficiaries of His grace and forgiveness. With the coming of Christ in judgment against Jerusalem for its rejection of Him as the Savior of the world, the Kingdom of God has entered into this world. God has issued a call for all to partake of the beginning of the “age to come” that has no end. Jesus is the “firstborn” from the dead, and He has entered fully into the glory of the fulfillment of all that Moses, the Prophets, and the Writings foretold would come to pass (Luke 24:44-49; Daniel 7:13-14).
As Christians, we are not living in the “last days.” The “last days” pertained to the last days of the old covenant world of Judaism. Today, we are living in the age without end (Isaiah 9:6-9; Daniel 2:44). We are invited to share with Christ in this new life. This new life calls for renewal (Romans 12:1-2; Colossians 3:1-14). Paul utters it this way: “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life” (Romans 6:4; 15-23).
Since we have “tasted the goodness of the Word of God and the powers of the coming age” (Hebrews 6:5), we are now experiencing the “coming age” as foretold by the prophets “in” and “through” Jesus (Luke 6:46). We should endeavor to renew our commitment to Jesus as Lord of our lives. Have we made our commitment of loyalty to the kingdom of God and His righteousness? Are we working toward the advancement of God’s new heaven and new earth? We should listen and meditate upon the following admonition of Peter:
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 11 Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the worl
d, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” (1 Peter 2:9-12)
Please share this study with others. Also. I encourage my readers to visit my website: www.freedominchrist.net. Also visit Amazon for a list of my five books.
Yours in Jesus,