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Sunday, March 22, 2015

Softly & Tenderly; the Apprehension of Condescension

Jesus is calling; will you answer? Jesus tells His children, 'Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me' ( Revelation 3:20 )! Okay, so He originally said that to the Church in Laodicea in the first century, AD, but really, does it not hold true today? When God's children decide that they're hungry, as the prodigal son did in Luke 15 & they turn to the only Source of the Bread of Life, will He not give them that bread? Yes, Jesus was knocking at the door, so to speak, of His children's hearts, back in the first century, but is He not still open to dining with His children should they wish to receive Him?

As we visited St. Thomas Reformed Church on St. Thomas in the U.S.V.I., the familiar, but long unheard refrain of 'Softly and Tenderly' was heard wafting through the airy structure that houses the Church! Yes, in the greatest sense, this is an invitational hymn, one structured to speak to the hearts of poor sinners, but is that not, in the greatest sense, what we, as the Church & Body of Christ are about? Through living our lives in the Present Kingdom of God & Heaven, are we not living invitational lives? Sometimes I wonder if many of those who claim fulfilled eschatology have not forgotten that! Now, I'm not necessarily advocating going door-to-door, or even bring-a friend-to-church Sunday, but I believe that, along with the message of fulfillment that we preach, we often forget that there are those yet to whom 'the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!'

Fulfillment, in most or much of today's preterist theology & to many preterists, means that what is fulfilled has necessarily ended! In a sense, that's true, what began in Genesis came to its conclusion in Revelation; the covenant that God made with Adam, all the way up through Abraham & David, whether one believes it was a betrothal covenant or a marriage covenant, came to an end in AD70 with the destruction of Jerusalem & the Temple! In the greatest sense though, it is still being fulfilled ( filled up ) in us! Whether or not one believes that we are the Bride still, or simply the offspring of that marriage, that marriage is still in force; in fact, it is an Eternal Union: it will never end!

Thus, our responsibility never ends! As the Body of Christ, we are responsible for the rest of God's children & so still, as before, whether through our actions or our voices, say, 'Come'! In the past, most, if not all theology associated with evangelism has been weak at best & false at worst; this is very likely what most preterists are reacting against when they preach the message of fulfillment! This is also, most likely why the message of fulfillment has not been well-received or accepted in traditional circles! The message that most evangelists have preached & yet preach is a weak & falsified Gospel, really, barely even recognizable sometimes as the Good News, but once the Message preached begins to reverberate with the True Gospel, that of Fulfillment ( in its greatest sense ), then we may truly say, with the Spirit, 'Come Home'!

As we approach the Holy Day that most Christians call Easter, we once again turn our thoughts to the cross where our Savior spent His precious blood for the salvation of His people! The cross played an important part, no doubt, in the Plan of Salvation, but it was only a part. Of utmost importance is the glorious fact of what was fulfilled ( accomplished ) through the events of those days of ignominy & pain! Jesus' death on the cross & subsequent resurrection signaled that He had overcome that which threatened to separate God & man forever! Of Greater Import, though, was the fact that through His Birth, the Creator, as promised throughout the Scriptures, had come to rest in the midst of His Creation!

As a Good Father, our Creator deemed to place His Seed within us, in essence, becoming One with us ( in a corporate, not individual sense ) & He still calls all His children, softly & tender, to come, take their seat at His Table of Blessing & to Commune with Him! We, as the Fruit of His Loins, so to speak, are to be about His business! That business is redeeming His Creation; we have that ministry, the same ministry which the first Adam was given & the last Adam fulfilled; now, what will we do with it?

Charles Haddon Shank



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