Wecome to Logia, the personal blog of Paul Hartwig. Reflections and resources to enhance understanding of what God has revealed of himself in Scripture.
"The core of the gospel, the historical facts of what God did in Christ, is often down-graded today in favour of a more mystical emphasis on the private spiritual experience of the individual. Whereas faith in the gospel is essentially acceptance of, and commitment to, the declaration that God acted in Christ some two thousand years ago on our behalf, saving faith is often portrayed nowadays more as trust in what God is doing in us now. Biblical ideas such as 'the forgiveness of sins' or 'salvation' are interpreted as primarily describing a Christian's personal experience. But when we allow the whole Bible - Old and New Testaments - to speak to us, we find that those subjective aspects of the Christian life which are undoubtedly important - the new birth, faith and sanctification - are the fruits of the gospel. This gospel, while still related to individual people at their point of need, is rooted and grounded in the history of redemption. It is the good news about Jesus, before it can become the good news for sinful men and women. Indeed, it is only as the objective (redemptive-historical) facts are grasped that the subjective experience of the individual Christian can be understood". (Gospel and Kingdom).
When it comes to reading the 'signs of the times' most people get the wrong end of the stick. The common method to determine when Bible prophecies will be fulfilled is for Christians to look for signs in the world around them, that is, in natural disasters, climate changes, etc. Surprisingly, Jesus said the opposite! He stated that people should find in Christians the sign of his return. The 'sign of the times' is given by Jesus in John 13:34:
“A new commandment I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another”.
In his time, Jesus was not the only Rabbi who attracted devoted disciples. We know John the Baptist had his own followers. Yet the distinctive badge that Jesus wanted his followers to be known by was located in the quality of their love for one another. It was not in persuasive confessions of the truth, popularity or attractive methods that would convince the world about Jesus. It was the nature of Christian love that would be Christ's signature on earth. In these well-known and simple words Jesus tells us that when the same love he very concretely demonstrated toward his small group of 12 disciples is duplicated amongst all his followers the world will sit up and listen. It is by loving one another the way Jesus loved us that the world is to receive its final manifestation of the truth of Jesus Christ.
These words of Jesus are given richer colour and broader application in The Lord's Prayer in chapter 17 of the same Gospel. Here we overhear Jesus praying to his Father. The prayer concludes when Jesus asks the Father to unite all his followers 'so that the world may know and believe that You sent me' (vs 21, 23). We see here that Christ saw the unity of all his followers functioning as a great sign to the world, providing a true spectacle that would persuade them that Christ was truly the One sent by God.
Of course you cannot love abstractly or theologically. Jesus loved us practically and concretely. He died on a Roman cross, on hill called Golgotha, as a public spectacle on a highway into Jerusalem. As his followers we are mandated to demonstrate similar cross-shaped and public sacrificial love, love that is demonstrated at a particular time and in a particular place. Wherever your church may be, there you can begin to become this sign of Christ to your community. Regardless of church labels, Jesus' words send all Christians on a mission: to visibly demonstrate to our world who Jesus Christ is through the way we love one another.
"One thing's needful; Lord this treasure
Teach me highly to regard;
All else, though it first give pleasure,
Is a yolk that presses hard.
Beneath it the heart is still fretting and striving,
No true, lasting happiness ever deriving.
The gain of this one thing all loss can requite,
And teach me in all things to find true delight.
Wilt thou find this one thing needful,
Turn from all created things
Unto Jesus and be heedful
Of the blessed joy He brings.
For where God and Man both in one are united,
With God's perfect fullness the heart is delighted;
There, there is the worthiest lot and the best,
My One and my All and my Joy and my Rest.
How were Mary's thoughts devoted,
Her eternal joy to find
As intent each word she noted,
At here Saviour's feet reclined!
How kindled her heart, how devout was its feeling,
While hearing the lessons that Christ was revealing!
For Jesus all earthly concerns she forgot,
And all was repaid in that one happy lot.
Thus my longings heavenward tending,
Jesus, rest alone on Thee.
Help me, thus on Thee depending;
Saviour come and dwell in me.
Although all the world should forsake and forget Thee,
In love I will follow Thee, ne'er will I quit Thee.
Lord Jesus, both spirit and life is Thy Word;
And is there a joy which Thou dost not afford?
Wisdom's highest, noblest treasure,
Jesus, lies concealed in Thee;
Grant that this may still the measure
Of my will and actions be,
Humility there are simplicity reigning,
In paths of true wisdom my steps ever training.
Oh, if I of Christ have this knowledge divine,
The fullness of heavenly wisdom is mine.
Naught have I, O Christ, to offer,
Naught but Thee, my highest Good.
Naught have I, O Lord, to proffer
But Thy crimson-coloured blood.
Thy death on the cross hath Death wholly defeated
And thereby my righteousness fully completed;
Salvation's white raiments I there did obtain,
And in them in glory with Thee I shall reign.
Therefore Thou alone, my Saviour,
Shalt be All in all to me;
Search my heart and my behaviour,
Root out all hypocrisy.
Restrain me from wandering on pathways unholy
And through all life's pilgrimage keep my heart lowly.
This one thing is needful, all others are vain;
I count all but loss that I Christ may obtain"
Johann H. Schroeder (1667-1699)
Translated by Frances E. Cox (182-1897)