For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God's mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments. For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ.
Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.
See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spiritsof the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. (ESV)
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What About God
Monday after the the Baptism of our Lord
11 January 2016
Some years ago, a young Lutheran school teacher, who had taught for two years in my former congregation's Lutheran school, came to me after a Bible class with a quizzical look on her face and said, "Pastor, since I have been coming to Bible class here, you have talked a lot about Jesus." I was glad to hear that. But then she asked quite earnestly, "When are you going to start talking about God?" Suddenly I was not so glad. As patiently as I could I walked her through John 14:8-10 where Philip asked a similar question of Jesus.
Jesus, by reason of His incarnation, is the fullness of the Godhead dwelling bodily. By seeing Jesus we have seen the Father. There is no god-ness to be found behind, around, above, or outside of Jesus. There is no tearing away the veneer of His true humanity to see the "real" God. Jesus is not a divine masquerader, whose mask, when snatched off by us, will give us a glimpse of what God is really like.
The personal union of the two natures in Christ is a full and complete union, so that both natures permeate each other, without separation of the natures and without confusion or commingling. To see the incarnate Word is ever and always to see the God-Man to whom is attributed: birth, death, burial, resurrection, ascension, and enthronement at God's right hand. In this One we see the God who suffers, bleeds and dies "for us men and for our salvation." And salvation is what is at stake. For if Jesus Christ is not fully divine, He cannot provide salvation for us. If Jesus Christ is not fully man, He cannot be our substitute. The personal union is about the "for me." Why does Christ take unto Himself my flesh? To rescue me! This is a sublime and blessed mystery that the God-Man is one undivided person.
Leo the Great
"Keep far from your hearts the poisonous lies of the devil's inspirations. Knowing that the eternal Godhead of the Son underwent no growth while with the Father, be wise and consider that to the same nature to which it was said in Adam, 'Out of the ground you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return' (Gn 3:19). It is said in Christ, 'sit at My right hand' (Ps 110:1). According to that nature, whereby Christ is equal to the Father, the Only-begotten was never inferior to the majesty of the Father; nor was the glory which He had with the Father a temporal possession. For He is on the very right hand of the Father, of which it is said in Exodus, 'Your right hand, O LORD, glorious in power' (Ex 15:6) and in Isaiah, 'Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? (Is 53:1)'
"The man, therefore, assumed into the Son of God, was in this way received into the unity of Christ's person from His very beginning in the body, that without the Godhead He was not conceived, without the Godhead He was not brought forth, without the Godhead He was not nursed. It was the same person in the wondrous acts, and in the endurance of insults, through His human weakness crucified, dead and buried. Through His divine power, beingraised the third day, He ascended to the heavens, sat down at the right hand of the Father, and in His nature as man received from the Father that which in His nature as God He Himself also gave.
"Meditate on these things with devout hearts. Be always mindful of the apostle's injunction, who admonishes all men, saying, 'See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in Him' (Col 2:8-10). He said not 'spiritually' but 'bodily,' that we may understand the substance of flesh to be real, where there is the dwelling in the body of the fullness of the Godhead. Therefore, of course, the whole Church is also filled, which, clinging to the Head, is the body of Christ; who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, God forever and ever. Amen."
Leo the Great, Sermons on the Nativity
Lord Christ, in whom dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, grant by Your grace that we through baptism would be counted Your body the church of which You alone are Head, High Priest, Bishop and Shepherd of our souls, through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with the Father in communion with the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.
For President Matthew Harrison of the LCMS, that he would be strengthened in every good deed
For Bishop Shalem of the Bible Faith Lutheran Church of India, that he would continue to confess the faith of the holy church
For Pastor J. Bart Day, that the God the Holy Spirit would grant him wisdom and discernment
Art: AERTSEN, Pieter Adoration of the Magi (c. 1560)
© Scott R. Murray, 2016