Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Affirming the Apostle's Creed by J. I. Packer #6

packerIn this post we finish up J. I. Packer's short book, Affirming the Apostle's Creed.  Here Packer discusses our forgiveness, the resurrection of the body and eternal life.I am posting from my reading in New Testament theologies and devotionals on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I welcome comments and discussion on my Facebook page. I am using the Logos version of the book.

The next item in the creed is "forgiveness of sins." This means that God takes people back into relationship with Himself and was willing to pay the high price of the cross to make it happen. Not only are sins removed, but the new relationship places the believer into a vital role within God's kingdom plan. It is assured because God accomplishes it through the work of the Trinity.

Forgiveness is pardon in a personal setting. It is taking back into friendship those who went against you, hurt you, and put themselves in the wrong with you. It is compassionate (showing unmerited kindness to the wrongdoer), creative (renewing the spoiled relationship), and, inevitably, costly. God’s forgiveness is the supreme instance of this, for it is God in love restoring fellowship at the cost of the cross. 130–131

Justification is forgiveness plus; it signifies not only a washing out of the past but also acceptance and the gift of a righteous man’s status for the future. Also, justification is final, being a decision on which God will never go back, and so it is the basis of assurance, whereas present forgiveness does not necessarily argue more than temporary forbearance. So justification—public acquittal and reinstatement before God’s judgment-seat—is actually the richer concept. 132

Why faith only? Because Christ’s righteousness only is the basis of pardon and peace, and Christ and his gifts are received only by faith’s embrace. Faith means not only believing God’s truth but trusting Christ, taking what he offers, and then triumphing in the knowledge of what is now yours. 133

The next assertion of the creed deals with the believer's great hope, "the Resurrection of the Body." The Christian hope of resurrection is not the disembodied life of a spirit, but of a new improved, faultless resurrection body living on a fully restored new earth. The assurance of this hope is the bodily resurrection of Jesus. We will be like Him.

In raising believers, God completes their redemption by the gift not of their old bodies somehow patched up, but of new bodies fit for new men. Through regeneration and sanctification God has already renewed us inwardly; now we receive bodies to match. 138–139

Ask God to show you how Jesus’ life, body and soul, was the only fully human life that has ever been lived, and keep looking at Jesus as you meet him in the Gospels until you can see it. Then the prospect of being like him—that and no less—will seem to you the noblest and most magnificent destiny possible, and by embracing it you will become a true disciple. 141–142

The final statement of the creed is about "the Life Everlasting." In our new resurrection bodies we will enjoy the reunited heaven and earth for all eternity. We will enjoy the good things of life fully in the way God intended, beginning with a relationship with God that is unencumbered by sin, death, selfishness etc. Whatever we can think about what it will be like; it will be even better.

Being with Jesus is the essence of heaven; it is what the life everlasting is all about...What will we do in heaven? Not lounge around, but worship, work, think and communicate, enjoying activity, beauty, people, and God. First and foremost, however, we shall see and love Jesus, our Savior, Master, and Friend. 146

As I get older, I find that I appreciate God and people and good and lovely and noble things more and more intensely; so it is pure delight to think that this enjoyment will continue and increase in some form (what form, God knows, and I am content to wait and see) literally forever. 147–148

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