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Saturday, December 8, 2018

The HEAVEN-SENT GIFT of GOD


Let’s take a journey, all of us, to that realm of eternity, before time and space themselves were created, in the hallowed halls of heaven, where the Godhead – the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit (ROM 1:20; COL 2:9; 1 JOHN 5:8) entered the Father’s office and closed the door for a confidential meeting that left the angels curious.

Long before God said, “Let there be light” this meeting was held by these Three Who knew the end even before the beginning (ISAIAH 46:10).
They discussed how it would go with Lucifer, how he would instigate a rebellion in which a third of the angels would follow him (ISAIAH 14; EZEK 28; REV 12:4). How Adam would yield to his wife and partake of the forbidden fruit (GEN 3:6) and thereby plunge the entire human race into the dreadful curse of sin, death, destruction and damnation (1 COR 15:21-22).

They would have to judge and condemn the human race for their sin: The absolute holiness integral to God’s very nature could not possibly demand anything less (EZEK 18:4,20).
Yet God also declared His unconditional love for these souls who had not then even been born (JOHN 3:16).
How could the judgment of God against wickedness be upheld without condemning man to an eternity of hell (REV 14:11)?

How could He demonstrate His absolute love for them without compromising His holiness?



The Trinity conferred with One Another at length, all the while, the angels waited anxiously outside the Father’s office, wondering what was going on. . .

They finally stepped outside and rejoined the angels in the Holy Throne Room, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit assumed their places. The holy cherub, Lucifer then led all of heaven in adoration and worship of the Holy Ones, Who knew well that angel’s terrible fate.

The six days of creation commenced: time, space and matter/energy were all created, the angels in awestruck wonder were in audience, beholding it all from day one to six (JOB 38:4-8).

Then Lucifer recruited 33% of the angels in rebellion against God, infiltrated the garden as the serpent, beguiled Eve, and drew Adam in compliance to her rebellion and the human race was doomed. The world which God placed in Adam’s stewardship then became Lucifer’s – the ruler of this present world (JOHN 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; 2 COR 4:4).

It was then that God declared war on the serpent, revealing that the “seed of the woman” would crush his head (GEN 3:15)!

Prophets and seers arose among the nation of Israel: each of them revealing a piece of this grand puzzle of God’s making, depicting a portrait of grace and peace: pronouncing the arrival of a coming One: “the seed of the woman”, “the Lion of the Tribe of Judah” and “the Messiah of Israel”.

For thousands of years the people of Israel waited, and with each prophet that God raised up, brush strokes that painted this portrait were added, eventually revealing the face of God – as an infant babe Who was born of the tribe of Judah, of the House of David, of the daughter of David – Mary, the wife of Joseph – who himself was also of the royal line of David.

In those hallowed halls of heaven awash with holy light and purity, permeated with the aroma of Almighty glory and love, there came a point in which the Son arose from His Father’s side, stepped across the Holy Throne Room and vanished from the presence of the angels!

His Spirit stepped down from eternity and into the creation He fashioned thousands of years earlier – descending, descending to the Earth, drawing closer to that terrestrial globe, nearing the Middle East, then to the nation of Israel, and to the city of Galilee where He passed by the arch-angel Gabriel who was even then speaking to Mary, saying:

Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:
And he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end
” (LUKE 1:30-33).

Then said Mary unto the angel, “How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?
And the angel answered and said unto her, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore, also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.
And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible.”
And Mary said, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her” (LUKE 1:30-38).

The Son was then accompanied by the Holy Spirit who enacted an exercise of creation and instilled a new life in the womb of this woman of great faith, that life imbued by the very Spirit of the Son – Immanuel.

Nine months later, Joseph and Mary found themselves on a hard road to Bethlehem, and managed to find lodging . . . in a barn, using a cattle’s feeding trough – a manger – for a crib to lay the Christ child in (LUKE 2:1-7).

Here is the great mystery – a total union of 100% God and 100% human (JOHN 1:14) confined in this Jewish baby, no doubt surrounded by spiritual body guards – mighty cherubim that would keep the baby safe from Satan who would recognize Him, and His arrival for what it really was: A Holy Invasion into Satan’s territory, the world that he rules over. 

The war of the ages would soon be engaged, but Satan tried to use his puppet King Herod to seek out and kill this baby – but the attempt failed miserably (MATT 2:16). Satan attempted to recruit Jesus in the temptation, much as he succeeded in doing so with the first Adam (MATT 4:1-11).

But not this last Adam! With every temptation, the Christ struck at the serpent, not with the Divine power that coursed through His veins, but with the Word of God. Within three biblical blows without need for a forth, the Son of God drove Satan away – for a season.
Jesus preached repentance, He preached salvation, He preached the Gospel and the coming Kingdom where He Himself will one day reign as King. 

The power of God the Father and the Holy Spirit was upon Him as He worked miracles – healing the blind, the deaf, the lame and the maimed as well as the leper, and even raised the dead and cast out demons by the droves (MATT 15:30; MARK 3:10-12; LUKE 7:11-15; 17:12-17)!

A few followers grew into crowds, and crowds grew into multitudes – that is, until He began talking about His disciples picking up their crosses and following Him (MATT 16:24). He even spoke of His own cross that He would bear – and Satan used Peter, His chief disciple’s mouth in an attempt to express sympathy and admonished the LORD to stop talking that way!

Yet the LORD wasn’t fooled by that masquerade; He spotted Satan behind Peter’s words and soundly rebuked that rebel angel (MATT 16:21-23).
Jesus was soon left with only His original twelve – and one of them, Judas – was a devil (an “adversary”)! When He asked them, if they would also forsake Him, Peter answered in glorious fashion:

LORD, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life! (JOHN 6:68)”

The religious body of Jewish leadership, the Sanhedrin were likewise the pawns of the devil, as he orchestrated the plot to deliver Jesus to death.
God in the flesh, this very man that John the Baptist called “the Lamb of God” set Himself resolutely to Jerusalem, determined to stay the course and finish the plan that the Father and the Holy Spirit developed with Him in Eternity Past.

The lame excuses of court trials which broke more laws than they claimed to uphold, in condemning Christ to death – but the Sanhedrin had no authority to execute criminals under Roman Law. If they had that authority – they would have stoned Jesus to death. Therefore, He had to die under Roman Law, by Roman means of execution. 

Crucifixion!

The physical passion of Christ began in Gethsemane. The physician, Luke, is the only evangelist to mention this occurrence in the Gospel account named after him. He says, "And being in an agony, he prayed the longer. And his sweat became as drops of blood, trickling down upon the ground" (LUKE 22:44). Our precious LORD was under great emotional stress concerning the hard road ahead of Him; tiny capillaries in the sweat glands began to break, thus mixing blood with sweat. This process alone could have produced marked weakness and possible shock.

Next came His trial before the Sanhedrin and Caiaphas, the High Priest. Here the first physical trauma was inflicted. A soldier struck Jesus across the face for remaining silent when questioned by Caiaphas. The palace guards then blindfolded Him, mockingly taunted Him to identify them as each passed by, spat on Him, and struck Him in the face. The full brunt of the Roman soldier’s blows impacted Jesus, because, being blind folded, He couldn’t turn His head to deflect part of the impact.

Before Pilate

In the early morning, battered, bruised, dehydrated, and worn out from a sleepless night, Jesus was taken across Jerusalem to the Praetorium of the Fortress Antonia, the seat of government of the Procurator of Judea, Pontius Pilate whose action in attempting to shift responsibility to Herod Antipas, the Tetrarch of Judea failed. In response to the outcry of the mob, Pilate ordered Barabbas released and condemned Jesus to scourging and crucifixion.

The prisoner was stripped of His clothing, His holy hands tied to a post above His innocent head. The Roman soldier armed with the flagellum – a short whip consisting of several heavy, leather thongs with two small balls of lead attached near the ends of each – struck God the Son. The heavy whip struck with full force again and again across Jesus' shoulders, back, and legs.
The weighted thongs cut through the skin at first, and as the blows continued, they cut deeper into the tissues under the skin and finally spurting arterial bleeding from vessels in the underlying muscles.

By then the skin of the back was hanging in long ribbons, and the entire area was an unrecognizable mass of torn, bleeding tissue. When it was determined by the centurion in charge that the prisoner was near death, the beating was finally stopped.

Mockery

The half-fainting Jesus was untied and allowed to slump to the stone pavement, wet with his own blood. The Roman soldiers saw a great joke in this bloody Jew claiming to be a king. They threw a robe across His shoulders and placed a stick in His hand for a scepter. 

They still needed a crown to make their travesty complete. Small flexible branches covered with long thorns were plaited into the shape of a crude crown. The crown was pressed into his scalp and again there was copious bleeding as the thorns pierced the very vascular tissue. 
After mocking Him and striking Him across the face, the soldiers took the stick from His hand and struck Him across the head, driving the thorns deeper into His scalp. Finally, they tired of their sadistic sport and tore the robe from His back. The robe had already become adherent to the clots of blood and serum in the wounds, and its removal caused excruciating pain. The wounds again began to bleed.

Golgotha

The heavy patibulum of the cross was tied across His shoulders. The procession of the condemned Christ, two thieves, and the execution detail of Roman soldiers headed by a centurion began its slow journey along the route which we know today as the Via Dolorosa.

In spite of Jesus' efforts to walk erect, the weight of the heavy wooden beam, together with the shock produced by copious loss of blood, was too much. He stumbled and fell. The rough wood of the beam gouged into the lacerated skin and muscles of the shoulders. 

He tried to rise, but human muscles had been pushed beyond their endurance. The centurion, anxious to proceed with the crucifixion, selected a stalwart North African onlooker, Simon of Cyrene, to carry the cross. Jesus followed, still bleeding and sweating the cold, clammy sweat of shock. The almost 2000’ journey from the Fortress Antonia to Golgotha was finally completed. The prisoner was again stripped of His clothing except for a loin cloth which was allowed the Jews.

The crucifixion began. Jesus was offered wine mixed with myrrh, a mild analgesic, pain-reliving mixture. He refused the drink. Simon was ordered to place the patibulum on the ground, and Jesus was quickly thrown backward, with His shoulders against the wood. The Roman soldier feeling for the depression at the front of the wrist, then drove a heavy, square wrought-iron nail through the wrist and deep into the wood. 

Quickly, he moved to the other side and repeated the action, being careful not to pull the arms too tightly, but to allow some flexion and movement. The patibulum was then lifted and dropped into place at the top of the stipes, the brutal shock of the drop would dislocate bones in the shoulders and arms. A sign reading "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews" was nailed into place.

The left foot was pressed backward against the right foot. With both feet extended, toes down, a nail was driven through the arch of each, leaving the knees moderately flexed. The sinless Victim was now crucified.

On the Cross

As Jesus slowly sagged down with more weight on the nails in the wrists, excruciating, fiery pain shot along the fingers and up the arms to explode in the brain. The nails in the wrists were putting pressure on the median nerve, large nerves in the mid-wrist and hand. 
As He pushed himself upward to avoid this stretching torment, He placed His full weight on the nail through His feet. Again, there was searing agony as the nail tore through the nerves between the metatarsal bones of His feet.

As the arms fatigued, great waves of cramps swept over the muscles, knotting them in deep relentless, throbbing pain. With these cramps came the inability to push Himself upward. Hanging by the arms, the pectoral muscles, and the intercostal muscles, the small muscles between the ribs, were paralyzed. Air could be drawn into the lungs but could not be exhaled. Jesus fought to raise Himself in order to get even one short breath. Jesus was marred beyond human likeness

The Last Words

Spasmodically, He was able to push Himself upward to exhale and bring in life-giving oxygen. It was undoubtedly during these periods that He uttered the seven short sentences that are recorded.

The first - looking down at the Roman soldiers throwing dice for His seamless garment:

"Father, forgive them for they do not know what they do."

The second - to the penitent thief: 

"Today, thou shalt be with me in Paradise."

The third - looking down at Mary His mother, He said: "Woman, behold your son." Then turning to the terrified, grief-stricken adolescent John, the beloved apostle, He said: 
"Behold your mother."

The fourth cry is from the beginning of PSALM 22: "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?"

He suffered 6 hours of limitless pain, cycles of twisting, joint-rending cramps, intermittent partial asphyxiation, and searing pain as tissue was torn from His lacerated back from His movement up and down against the rough timbers of the cross. 

Then another agony began: a deep crushing pain in the chest as the pericardium, the sac surrounding the heart, slowly filled with serum and began to crush the heart.
The prophecy in PSALM 22:14 was being fulfilled: "I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint, my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels."

The end was rapidly approaching. The loss of tissue fluids had reached a critical level; the compressed heart was struggling to pump heavy, thick, sluggish blood to the tissues, and the tortured lungs were making a frantic effort to inhale small gulps of air. The markedly dehydrated tissues sent their flood of stimuli to the brain.

Jesus gasped His fifth cry: "I thirst."

Again, we read in the prophetic psalm: "My strength is dried up like a potsherd; my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou has brought me into the dust of death" (PSALM 22:15).

A sponge soaked in posca, the cheap, sour wine that was the staple drink of the Roman legionnaires, was lifted to Jesus' lips. His body was now in extremis, and He could feel the chill of death creeping through His tissues.

This realization brought forth His sixth cry, possibly little more than a tortured whisper: 

"It is finished." that is in the Greek: Toltelestoi: "Paid in full".

His mission of atonement had been completed. Finally, He could allow His body to die. With one last surge of strength, He once again pressed His torn feet against the nail, straightened His legs, took a deeper breath.

He uttered His seventh and last cry

"Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit."

Death

The common method of ending a crucifixion was by crurifracture, the breaking of the bones of the leg. This prevented the victim from pushing himself upward; the tension could not be relieved from the muscles of the chest, and rapid suffocation occurred. The legs of the two thieves were broken, but when the soldiers approached Jesus, they saw that this was unnecessary.

Apparently, to make doubly sure of death, the legionnaire drove his lance between the ribs, upward through the pericardium and into the heart. 

JOHN 19:34 states, "And immediately there came out blood and water." 

Thus, there was an escape of watery fluid from the sac surrounding the heart and the blood of the interior of the heart. Conclusive post-mortem evidence that Jesus died, not the usual crucifixion death by suffocation, but of heart failure due to shock and constriction of the heart by fluid in the pericardium.

The above description of the crucifixion and passion of Christ was taken from the following article.

As horrific and nightmarish as the crucifixion of Christ was, that was the least aspect of His sufferings! What was far more torturous and inconceivably terrible was what He suffered spiritually. This was the answer to the great questions considered by the Trinity:

How could the judgment of God against wickedness be upheld without condemning man to an eternity of hell?
How could He demonstrate His absolute love for them without compromising His holiness?


The LORD Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world, took upon Himself every single sin – in deed and thought, of every single descendant of Adam – the entire human race. Think about what that must have been like for a Holy Person Who was absolutely, spotlessly innocent – and I know you really can’t, nor can I. We have no capacity to understand what that would be like, because we don’t know what its like to be a holy person like Jesus.

Think about a person who was always 100% healthy, and never once even experienced a sniffle and then infest him with every sickness known to man – everything from pneumonia, to leprosy, to cancer of every variety, to AIDS and arthritis and that gives you a only slight idea.

But that still wasn’t all – not only did He have every sin, from every soul ever created, crammed to overflowing in His righteous soul, but He suffered the judgment, the wrath and the punishment of every single sin from the Father, Who then presided over His only begotten Son, as His judge, condemning His Eternal Son to an eternity of punishment, compacted into those six long hours on the Cross (ROM 8:3)!

God’s justice and punishment against all the wickedness and sins of humanity was met and satisfied in Christ Who accepted this cup of wrath and was condemned for us all.
God’s expression of absolute love for each and every one of us was seen at Calvary and all that Jesus suffered to win our salvation, and this love from God is available to any who will believe the Gospel and by faith receive Christ as LORD and Savior.

For those who reject this offer, freely given to each of us, there is no Plan B of salvation, because there IS no salvation in any other, or by any other means.
We know that Christ conquered over sin, and death and hell, because having died as a result of taking on our sin, HE ROSE AGAIN WITH ETERNAL POWER AND GLORY, VANQUISHING OVER ALL THE POWER OF HELL AND SATAN!

Will you then accept Christ's sacrifice for you, repent of your sins and surrender your life to the LORD Who surrendered His life for your salvation? You will then be born again of GOD's Spirit and become a member of His coming Kingdom!

PSALM 85:10-12
10 Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.
11 Truth shall spring out of the earth; and righteousness shall look down from heaven
.




When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?


Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all
.


TO WATCH THIS TEACHING SEE THE FOLLOWING VIDEO



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