Good News

Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. –1 Corinthians 15:49

Just as surely as I once had an Adam-like heart, I will have a Christlike heart. Just as surely as I was steeped in sin at birth, I will be steeped in the righteousness of Christ. I’m still struggling and stumbling and falling, but it won’t always be like this. Death will be swallowed up in victory– Christ’s death and resurrection guarantees it. I’m so glad my Savior purchased that for me.

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How God Shows His Power

I’ve been reading through the Exodus story the past couple of days, and I’m struck by how God chooses to show his power to Israel and Egypt.

The first thing that got me thinking about this was the two signs God gives Moses to show how he will back up his word with miracles (Ex 4). The first sign is God turning Moses’ staff into a snake– a creative miracle, although a somewhat ominous one. The second is turning Moses’ hand leprous. So these signs show God’s power to create and destroy (and then he goes on to tell Moses that he will turn the water of the Nile to blood– not a nice-sounding sign either).

Then, before Moses even begins to meet with Pharaoh, God lays out the whole scenario that’s about to commence:

And the LORD said to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt, see that you do before Pharaoh all the miracles that I have put in your power. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go. 22 Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the LORD, Israel is my firstborn son, 23 and I say to you, “Let my son go that he may serve me.” If you refuse to let him go, behold, I will kill your firstborn son.'” (Ex 4:21-23)

So already God’s planning to harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he knows how the story will end.

This pattern continues throughout the narrative: God announces his plan to show his power by bringing terrible plagues upon Egypt, but also tells Moses that he will continue to harden Pharaoh’s heart. The plagues come just as God promised, and Pharaoh remains unmoved, just as God promised.

But the most chilling sentence of all comes in 9:16, when God tells Pharaoh: “For this purpose I have raised you up, to show you my power, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth” (emphasis added). God’s very purpose in creating Pharaoh was to demonstrate his power, and he chose to do this not by doing great things for Pharaoh (as he did for Israel), but by doing terrible things to Pharaoh and Egypt– all the while protecting his own people from the plagues.

I think this is what Paul is talking about when he says that God has created some people to be “vessels of wrath” (Rom 9:22). I don’t think the American church has much of a place for this in our minds, but it’s right there in our Bibles. God is a great God. His power is shown not just in the wonderful things he does, but in the terrible things he does as well. As Pharaoh and Egypt learned, he is to be feared above all others– which is what makes it so amazing that this same God allows us to call him our Father.

Submission in Marriage

In 1 Corinthians 11:3 Paul casually makes a really big statement about submission in marriage.

1 Corinthians 11:3 But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.

Notice that here he doesn’t simply say that the husband is the head of the household; he takes a giant step back and shows the bigger picture. So the husband is the head of the wife, but then Christ is the head of the man. And not only that, but God is the head of Christ.

Paul gives us a great analogy here for how the marriage relationship works: he compares it to the relation of God the Father to God the Son. Christ is, of course, equal in power and glory to his Father– he is the “radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” (Heb 1:3). But he also submits to his Father: for example, he does nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing (John 5:19).

In other words, what we see in the Trinity (and it extends to the Holy Spirit as well) is total equality with regard to the persons— no person of the Trinity is more important or more divine than the others– with distinction in roles— the Son submits to the Father, and the Spirit to the Father and the Son. This fits very well with Paul’s teaching on marriage. Men and women are entirely equal in status before God, but there is a distinction in their individual roles when we come to the topic of marriage. So the same Paul who says “there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:28) also has no problem saying “Wives, submit to your husbands” (Eph 5:22).

This isn’t a matter of men having wholesale authority over women; it’s a matter of every believer being properly submitted to God-given authority. Wives submit to husbands, husbands submit to Christ, and Christ submits to God.