|Volume 19 Number 2 February 2017||
Gary C. Hampton
L.L. Brigance was a Gospel preacher and educator. He helped prepare outlines for N.B. Hardeman. They are found in the “Tabernacle Sermons” that were presented in the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee from March 28 through April 16, 1922. I have found his outlines to be very helpful in understanding important subjects like one he titled, “The Facts of Life.”
Life is made up of time. Benjamin Franklin said, “Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of.” James put it a little differently, but his point was the same. He wrote, “Whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (4:14). Paul also urged Christians to use time wisely (Ephesians 5:15-17).
Life needs a purpose. Brigance cited a poem from an unknown author, which said, “Half the wrecks upon life’s ocean If some star had been their guide Would have safely reached the harbor But they drifted with the tide.” Paul compared life to the Olympic Games in his first letter to Corinth. He stressed that Christ’s followers are not just practicing like someone shadow boxing. Daily devotion to pursuit of the prize demands daily sacrifice and self-control (9:25-27).
Life goes beyond the grave. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow penned the following words. “Life is real! Life is earnest! And the grave is not its goal; Dust thou art, to dust returnees, was not spoken of the soul.” Paul longed for a new body specially prepared to live eternally in the heavenly home (2 Corinthians 5:1-4). He also said, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).
Let us resolve to use the time God gives us in a way that will glorify his name, setting our sights on receiving an unfading crown from the Master. Life on earth is not the end. Heaven is the ultimate, eternal goal.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!
“Guilty, vile, and helpless we; Spotless Lamb of God was He; ‘Full atonement!’ can it be? Hallelujah! What a Savior!” (Song by Philip P. Bliss - 1875). This song communicates two truths about the sacrifice of our Lord that are important for us to realize, essential for us by which to live.
First, we must never forget the price that was paid for our forgiveness from sin to be achieved. The familiarity we have with the cross can sometimes minimize the esteem we hold for it. It is incredible to consider the Son of God coming to earth as the Son of Man, to take flesh and blood and live a human existence, so our sins might be pardoned. For Deity to be humbled and become part of creation is amazing to consider. “Who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:6-7).
Not only is the incarnation amazing to consider, but also is the death to which it led. Christ became human knowing it was to die for our sins, the most horrific, painful, shameful death conceivable. What greater act of love can be shown than God offering His Son for our sins? “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us” (1 John 3:16). “For one will scarcely die for a righteous person, though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die, but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:7-8). The enormity of all this should never be lost on us, those who would perish eternally without such a sacrifice being made on our behalf.
Another truth we must understand is that all Christ did for us in becoming human and dying on the cross, he did willingly, from love, and this should be a source of joy for us. It reminds us the value we have to the Father. “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:1-2). God wants fellowship with us, and He is willing to do everything necessary for it to be possible. “What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor” (Psalm 8:4-5). What an honor for God to so love us and provide so richly for us. We can rejoice that God so cares for us.
We should never take for granted what God has done for us in Jesus Christ. We should be humbled and in awe that God so loves us and that our Lord has done so much for us. We also should never forget how precious we are in God’s sight, our value and worth to him. We ought to commit ourselves wholly to loving and living for Him. “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). “Lifted up was He to die; ‘It is finished!’ was His cry; Now in Heav’n exalted high. Hallelujah! What a Savior!”