This the 16th installment of 52 reviewing RA Torrey’s 1898 publication What The Bible Teaches. See all of Lex’s posts here. A PDF copy of the book can be downloaded here. You are welcome and encouraged to join the discussion in your comments to these posts.
THE CHARACTER OF JESUS CHRIST
Jesus Christ is the ultimate character. All those peculiarities that define the best characters that we know personally or have known about in the world have their genesis in Jesus Christ. Human kindness, generosity, humor, concern, selflessness, self-control, generosity, humility, devotion, all stem from the One in whose likeness we were all made. The same with creativity, attention to detail, productivity, love of beauty, hatred of perversion, hope and all the other personal characteristics we’d desire in ourselves.
Torrey explores the character of Jesus in this chapter. He is very detailed in the things discussed. For example he writes thirty-nine propositions concerning how Jesus loved, describing almost every example in Scripture of how this was manifested. Yes, it is important that all these things be understood about our Lord, they are all vital concepts that assure us that if He displays His love and concern for those as described in these verses we too are encompassed in that love. The recitation of which sure does fatten this chapter.
The character of Jesus Christ is an immense topic and could be detailed in books without end. But one word can easily summarize. That is Love. All the different characteristics possessed by our Lord Jesus Christ are different manifestations of His unbounded love. That includes His love for the Father, whom He obeyed and set aside His glory to live among us, including his obedience and desire to please, to imitate, to reveal His Father to all creation.
And Jesus loves His creation and creatures. This of course is shown in the ultimate act of love in laying down His life for the salvation of man and the restoration of nature. We should understand this love in mainly two ways. One is to love in the sense of wanting the very best for the beloved. He wants the best for us and is hurt and disappointed when we accept so much less for ourselves. This is the Greek Agápe (ἀγάπη) Note love. It also involves tough love – discipline – to bring us to the place that is best for us.
He also has genuine love of fellowship for us. This is the Greek Philia (φιλία) Just as He delighted to walk in the Garden with Adam and Eve, He wants the same feeling of affection from us to warm our relationship. It is definitely not a cold impersonal feeling of winding up His creation and letting it uncoil predictably. The interaction is of vital importance. This is the concept of praying without ceasing. Meaning a constant form of communication, not just something to be relegated to one day of the week. Commune with Christ on a moment by moment basis and you will discover all the characteristics of His nature.
What do we really have when we don’t consider such an intimate level of communication with Jesus who has given us everything of importance in this life? If we don’t care enough to make Him a priority in thought word and deed what does that say of our love for Him? The Scriptures in this chapter show at length how He loves us. How is our love for Him manifested in our lives? Think of these following verses and see if you can imagine the extent meant by “all your heart,” “all your soul,” “all your strength.”
Deut. 6:5 “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”
Deut.10:12 “Now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require from you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.”
Mark 12:30 [Jesus speaking] “AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.”
Note. You may need a Greek font to see these Greek words for love displayed correctly. They can be obtained on the NET Bible web site. See the Download Fonts on the page at this link: http://bible.org/netbible/. Hebrew fonts are also available there.