Loving Christ For Who He Is
The Person of Jesus is the True Object of Our Affections
This past weekend during my Sabbath rest on the Lord’s Day afternoon between morning and evening service I had the pleasure of reading a few sermons from William Bridge, a 17th century Puritan pastor and author. In the first portion of his writing he says something that I wanted to share with you. He says:
What an excellent thing it is to love the person of Christ rather than the benefits of Christ; to have our hearts drawn out in love to His person, more excellent than to have a love to Him upon the account of benefits.
What does Bridge mean here and why does it matter for our day-to-day life? Let me answer that by asking you this question, do you like it when people use you just get something out of you? In other words if you have $1,000 and a person finds that out and comes and gives a sob story full of guilt and contrition that could be helped only if you gave them a portion of your blessing what is your normal reaction? It’s likely one of repulsion and a feeling of being used, sought not out of true desire of friendship and the kinds of things we associate with kindness. There is also a sense of arrogant presumption in the midst of it. It bothers us, as it should. Loving someone only based on what you can get out of them is not love at all.
Go back and re-read what Bridge has to say in light of that truth.
What are believers to seek in Christ? According to him it is far better for us to desire the Lord Himself. There are of course blessings which come from Jesus, but do we love because of what He can do for us or because who He is? Bridge’s point here is no different than what Jesus talks about to the crowds in John 6. Why do the people love Jesus? Because He fed them the bread that is perishing. Why should they love Him?
Because He is eternal life.
Part of the reason I was reading Bridge is that this coming weekend and into next week I’ll be leading special services at a local ARP church and the theme of my messages will be: “Living in Light of Christ: How Our Obedience to His Word Shows Our Love of Him”. The main text will be the whole of Deuteronomy 11 divided up with a portion each session. At the beginning of that text Moses writes, “Therefore you shall love the Lord your God, and keep His charge, His statutes, His judgments, and His commandments always.”. The first step to keeping the law is first remembering not only who gave them, but who He is. Notice the name given. It is the LORD your God. He is the covenant-keeping one, the Creator who has not only made all things, but by the word of His power has given life to those made in His image. As an image-bearer of God what is your chief end? To glorify Him and enjoy Him forever. Well, how to you do that? Through the word of God, which is contained in the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. Now what is it especially about Christ that teaches us this truth? Paul says, “And He is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things He might have the preeminence.”
We glorify and enjoy God first and foremost, not because we saw what He did and wanted a part of it as Simon Magus falsely desired, but because He first loved us. As those who are purchased with a price we cannot be those who wonder primarily what comes with adoption, but in amazement that this LORD who bore no responsibility to help us out of our sinfulness, has by His mighty grace delivered us into His family kingdom in His mercy. The very attributes of God show forth His praise and God as He is God is more than enough reason for us to obey His every command. We love Christ in loving His commandments. It is the natural outgrowth of our being united to Him spiritually by faith. It is the vine which gives us the sustenance of life. Grace is not a source of itself, but that which pours down like water from the fountain which never ceases. That is not to downplay the benefits which come from redemption, we are to be thankful for those as well, however, it is Christ Himself who is the object of our affection.
I tell young couples in pre-marital counseling all the time that a marriage built on lust, or bodily attraction, or material things is destined for failure because those things don’t last. People get old, their outward characteristics change, but what doesn’t change but only improves? According to Proverbs 31:30 it is, “Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised.” True beauty is found in the heart, not in the skin. Notice once more what that verse says. The beginning of wisdom, Solomon says earlier in the book, is the fear of the LORD. Why do we say that? Because remembering who God is and who we are is the right foundation for all that comes after it. Thomas Manton in referencing that verse notes, “The object, ‘vanity.’ Thereby is meant carnal and worldly things, worldly pleasures, worldly honour, worldly profits; all these are called vanity, because they have no solid happiness in them, and do so easily fade and perish.” There we see the heart of the matter. What is our only comfort in life and death? It is Jesus Christ.
All this is why Paul says what he does in those seraphic words in Romans 8:7-9:
Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.
As believers we have been granted such a privilege to have the Triune God as our own. It is because He is who He is that we can face tomorrow. Why can we run to Him in our days of anxiousness and worry? Because He is the Rock of our salvation. It is who He is.
One more word on the matter.
Blessings in Christ,
Rev. Benjamin Glaser
Pastor, Bethany ARP Church
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