THESIS #54 OF 95 - The mature Christian has a sense of what pleases God for he/she already possesses the mind of Christ whom EVEN DURING HIS EARTHLY MINISTRY had the mind of His Father.
Prov11:20 The perverse in heart are an abomination to the Lord, but those who are blameless in their ways are His delight.
1Sam13:14 The Lord has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has appointed him ruler over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.
Jn14:9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
1Cor2:16 – For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.
Col1:15 (Christ) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation
Heb1:3a (Christ) is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His nature
Many Christians including myself in the past, have understood that God is such that whatever we may do or whatever our manner of life, we are incapable of pleasing Him. The writer of Prov11:20 thought otherwise: “The perverse in heart are an abomination to the Lord, but those who are blameless in their ways are His delight“. The misconception in turn relates to the notion that God’s nature is alien in nature and incomprehensible to man. That is to misunderstand both Paul and Christ Himself as I will now demonstrate. But for starters it contradicts what the bible declares human beings to be: made in the image/likeness of God. And that still applies, even after the Fall (Gen9:6). Given that God is invisible, that likeness cannot pertain to appearance but to nature.
And at the individual level there are men and women whom God regards as instinctively being “after His own heart”. One such was the shepherd boy David whom He appointed King over His people, Israel. And God is preparing another people, no longer restricted to the Jews, who are being fashioned to be after His own heart. For the Father has foreordained that some are to become conformed to the image of His Son (Rom8:29), and He has provided the means of grace by which that might be accomplished. The apostle Paul was such a one, who declared that he and such like him, already “have the mind of Christ” (1Cor2:16).
Having the mind of Christ is one thing, but apprehending God’s own nature surely is another matter? Is it really? Not according to Jesus:
“If you know Me, you will have known My Father also; from now on you do know Him and have seen Him.” Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus *said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? The one who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’”? [Jn14:7-9]
Think through the implications in the context of this thesis. What pleased Jesus during His earthly ministry must please His Father also. Yet Jesus was a Man, indeed the Proper Man, as Luther aptly referred to Him. So, do you think that acts of kindness, generosity, courage and the like would not please our loving gracious Saviour? And that would be the case regardless of their imperfections as, classically, we see in the Mt25 sheep/goats passage.
That of course is the definitive New Testament passage on final judgement, the most important assessment of all. It frankly turns the theology I was brought up with on its head, but so does Jesus’ comments to Philip in Jn14 quoted above. For even during His earthly ministry, Jesus perfectly reflected the nature of His Father – AND YET HE WAS A MAN. Of course, when He returns in glory to judge the world, this King of kings and Lord of Lords will be a scarier prospect, but it will be the same Jesus. Oh, blessed words: “Have I been with you so long, Philip – if you have seen Me, you’ve seen the Father”. For man has been made in God’s image, and it was perfectly reflected in Jesus, even during His earthly ministry. For our sakes He laid aside His glory but nothing of His nature.
When the implications of this are grasped, then so much traditional theology is thrown into question. Not least, that of the Protestant Reformers that I adhered to for the first 28 years of my Christian life. For that more than any other is predicated on a Creator incomprehensible to human reason. Within such theology, God’s defining quality of LOVE (1Jn4:8) appears to mean something quite different from how Paul defines it in 1Cor13 (next thesis). For sure, God’s ways and methods are extraordinary and sometimes incomprehensible, not so His Nature. It was revealed to Philip, his fellow disciples and many others privileged to witness the earthly ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ, being “the radiance of (God’s) glory and the exact representation of His nature” (Heb1:3NASB). That is my good news, and it was Paul’s also: “According to my gospel, the day is coming when God shall judge the secrets of mankind through Christ Jesus (Rom2:16; cf. Jn5:22).
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