And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side,he has made him known.
Ok, the genre/style may not resonate with everyone :), but I encourage you to give a watch and listen to this meditation about the wonder of the incarnation: God With Us. The music is produced by a group called Folk Angel.
The deepest ongoing prayer myself and the other elders have for all of you is that you would increasingly know, by faith, the incomprehensible greatness of God’s holy love for you in Jesus (Eph. 3:14-21). And as the fullness of His love – which is also the fullness of His grace and truth (Jn. 1:14) – abounds in you, we pray it would overflow through you to more and more people.
May you be filled with joy in the living hope of Jesus Christ!
While there are many metaphors God uses to describe His relationship with His people, one of the more prominent in Scripture is that of a shepherd with his sheep. Extending from numerous Old Testament references (Gen. 48:15; Ps. 80:1; Is. 40:11; etc.), Jesus is revealed to be the Good Shepherd (Jn. 10:11-16), the Great Shepherd (Heb. 13:20-21), the Shepherd and Overseer of his sheep (1 Pet. 2:24-25), and the Chief Shepherd (1 Pet. 5:4). Our exalted Shepherd accomplishes His faithful care of His sheep (feeding, leading, correcting, and protecting), through Elders that He raises up as “under-shepherds” (Acts 20:28; 1 Pet. 5:1-3), and through the shared love and ministry His sheep are to have with one another (1 Pet. 4:7-11). All of this points to the local church as the arena in which God shepherds His people.
Beloved, there is a strong, God-ordained connection between your hope-filled delight in God’s shepherding care, and your humble devotion to His wise design for the local church. If we actively submit to His design in faith, we’ll increasingly taste of the Lord’s gracious goodness (1 Pet. 2:1-3). Conversely, to arrogantly resist God’s design is to resist His shepherding care, and to provoke His powerful opposition (1 Pet. 5:6).
I’m sure I speak not only for myself, but also for Smokey, Steve, and Chuck in saying that we’re humbled, honored, and blessed to serve among you as Christ’s under-shepherds at RCG. As we yearn for you with the affection of Christ, so we thank Him for you, and continually pray for your fruitfulness and joy in the hope of the Gospel (Phil. 1:3-11).
To God be the Glory!
Contrary to our natural, negative perceptions of “authority”, God’s perfect and good authority in Jesus Christ is the outworking of His holy love. And the goal of His love and authority is to promote mankind’s greatest pleasure and joy in His glory. Thus to submit to God’s authority is to taste of His love and goodness, and to know true life in Him. And to rebel is to reject that same love, goodness, and life. This is why Peter, throughout his first letter, is continually exhorting believers with statements like, “…as obedient children…be holy in all your conduct” (1:14-15); “…be subject for the Lord’s sake…” (2:13); “…honor Christ the Lord as holy…” (3:15); “…entrust [your] souls to a faithful Creator while doing good” (4:19); and “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God…” (5:6).
Jonathan Leeman offers these thoughts: “What a hellish lie has made humans despise the idea of authority! Divine authority grounded in holy love does not sap and steal the truly human from the human – just the opposite. It creates the human, and it authorizes the human to participate in, or mimic, that which is most satisfying – the divine life. The call to obedience is nothing more than a call into the pleasure of consciously imaging a perfect God. The rule of God’s love, his call to obedience, is a commissioning – a great commissioning. God equips us with all the tools of consciousness and creativity that we need to image him; he hands us the planet and then he authorizes us to go about living, loving, building, singing, conquering, investigating, caring, and speaking in such a way that his glory is manifested and displayed.” (from The Church and the Surprising Offense of God’s Love, Crossway: 2010, pg. 145)
Beloved, what great mercy God has poured out upon us in the Lord Jesus Christ! Though we were rebels and under His just wrath, he has forgiven, cleansed, justified, reconciled, and restored us under His holy, good, loving authority! Submission to him – his commands, and his will in our circumstances – should be our greatest delight, as ever more deeply we “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps. 34:8; 1 Pt. 2:3)!
How I love you in the love of Christ!