Saturday, 22 February 2014

Three appearings of our Lord Jesus in Hebrews

I am sure these thoughts will probably not be new to most people but as I have been looking at Hebrews recently I was reminded of these thoughts and thought I would share them here with you now. Here is the section I have been interested in:

Hebrews 9:24-28  For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:
Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others;
For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

I have been enjoying thinking of these in the following way; PAST, PRESENT, FUTURE.

PAST - There can be no doubting the fact that as verse 26 states, Christ has appeared in order to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. This is incredible and should thrill us and encourage us as we live our lives for him! There was a time when God came down into this world, as a man amongst men! Great is the mystery of godliness (1 Tim 3:16) that God was manifest in the flesh... this indeed should never cease to amaze us! Our verse in Hebrews however tells us the reason why he came, to put away sin. Other verses reinforce this mission, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners (1 Tim 1:15) and indeed this was the reason for this first appearing - so that he might deal with the question of sin and make a way of salvation for us. As the verse tells us though, it involved the sacrifice of himself! Remember that the sacrifices of old were all about the shedding of blood, in order to answer the claims of God against sin. Leviticus 17:11 tells us that it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul, and so it is with the precious blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7). Of course the difference between these sacrifices is made clear in our verses, he only needed to appear ONCE to put away sin, this is a once and forever final act that does not need to be ever repeated! We are reminded again of the superiority of our Lord Jesus Christ and the perfect completeness of that work on the cross.

PRESENT - The great news for the believer is that today the Lord Jesus lives and is in the presence of God where he ever lives to make intercession for us (Romans 8:34), what a wonderful truth is this! Even today he is concerned with us, his people. This is his great occupation now, he appears in the presence of God on our behalf, where he gives us grace to help us in time of need and presents our prayers before God for us. Hebrews teaches us that he is our Great High Priest, and we should look through this book to learn more about what that means, it will certainly encourage us! I also find it lovely to think that our Saviour has passed into heaven itself, into the presence of God the place from where he had came. He returned home! He tells us in John 14 that he is preparing a place for us, those who have trusted in him for salvation, his blood-bought people.

FUTURE - I like that the Word of God distinguishes this third appearing from the other two. Not now is he appearing to deal with sin (like in the first) or to carry our burdens or intercede for us (as in the second), but now he appears to bring to full salvation those who are looking for and expecting the imminent return of the Lord Jesus. I certainly believe that this is referring to the Rapture, or the second coming of Christ, as outlined in 1 Thess 4:16-17 and as the lord himself promised in John 14:3. There is lots to cheer the believer here, as we have this lovely promise brought before us again - our future is with him! He is coming to take us home to be with him, surely there can be no better prospect than this?! Remember the words of Paul that he desired to be with Christ which is far better... We have a challenge here as well though, as the words in the AV rendered look for him should better read eagerly, constantly and patiently waiting for and expecting Him (AMP)... I wonder if we are truly marked by that eager expectancy, or by that daily state of mind that looks forward to his second appearing? This has been an immense challenge to me, as all too often the daily grind of life and the distractions of the world can easily overcome our spiritual vision and focus. Let us be challenged once again and set our lives in order, in accordance with that truth, that Christ is coming again, and quickly!

I trust that these few simple thoughts will be a blessing, challenge and encouragement to us all.

Yours in Christ, Mark.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Christ our Passover (Part 2)

So last time we looked in general terms at the Passover and what this meant for the people of God and how this is a fitting picture of our salvation and the beginning of a life and a journey with God. This time I would like to go back to this Passover night and look more at the detail and what we can learn from these things.

If we read Exodus 12 we read that a lamb was to be taken. Many of us will understand that this is a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ and our minds will go to scriptures such as John 1:29 "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world". Let's look at how this lamb would speak of the Lord Jesus.

We are told that the lamb must not have any blemish and this would speak to us of the sinless, spotless character of the Lord Jesus. 1Pet 1:19 and Heb 7:26 are just two scriptures that tell us of the sinlessness of Christ.

The lamb must be slain! When we gather to remember the Lord Jesus we "shew the Lord's death till he come" (1 Cor 11:26). The death of Christ is also at the centre of our Gospel message, without his death there is no salvation or good news! "But we preach Christ crucified" 1 Cor 1:23

But more than this, the blood of the lamb had to be applied to those doorposts and lintels, without the blood there would be no Passover and no deliverance! Remember God said "when I see the blood, I will pass over you", so we learn that the blood was effectual, it was the blood that saved! Of course this applies to our salvation also for the Word of God tells us that without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins, and 1 Pet 1:19 says that we are redeemed "with the precious blood of Christ..."

The application of the blood externally made me think, there were aspects of the Passover that were internal and there were aspects that were external. The Passover feast for example, was inside the house and no meat was to be carried outside. It was also consumed and eaten, so truly internal in nature. The blood however was applied externally outside the house and I think there is a lesson here too regarding our salvation, as this is something that should effect us internally and externally! Salvation changes us internally as we are 'born again' we are a 'new creature' one that is indwelt by the Holy Spirit. We also take in the Word of God and meditate on it and appreciate Christ, these are all internal things! However our salvation also has outward aspects, such as a changed life visible to all those around, showing the fruits of the spirit, good works, and also public worship and contribution to the activities and gatherings of the local church. All these are external things, but very real things that apply to us today, so let us be encouraged and challenged as we read these things!

As we draw to a close, the Passover was something they would remember and that would have an impact on them for the rest of their lives (Ex 12:24). It would not be onerous, or some boring tradition but it would be a joy to them, to have cause to remember once again the greatness and goodness of their God in saving them! This should speak to us today! How much of our Christian lives do we find onerous or a bind? This should not be so! Let us once again remember the goodness of God and take joy and delight in the things of God.

Finally, if they were asked by their children what the Passover feast was all about, they should be able to both maintain and explain these things to them! I think the lesson is clear, when others ask us why we believe what we believe we should be able and ready to maintain and explain to them, if only in simple terms. 1 Peter 3:15 says that we should "always be ready to give an answer to every man that asks for the reason of the hope that is in you..." So let's be encouraged and be bold, and ensure we are equipped to maintain and explain to others!

I trust these couple of posts will have been interesting and beneficial to you. Yours in Christ, Mark

Monday, 27 January 2014

Christ our Passover (1 Cor 5:7) (Part 1)

Hello again fellow believers, and welcome to the new look Believers Blog site, now a Blogger site which I am finding easier to administer and post to, as well as being free! I hope you all continue to enjoy the site and find it helpful and profitable to read.

I thought I would share a few simple thoughts that occurred to me as I was reading the Passover account in Exodus 12 recently. I am sure that most of us would realise that the Passover is a picture of our Lord Jesus Christ and the salvation he has made for us, but there is so much bound up in this picture! Here are a few thoughts of mine...

In Exodus 12 we read God says; "this month shall be for you the beginning of months"... In effect this was to mark a new beginning for His people, the Passover marked the beginning of a new life for them! And so it is with our salvation, praise God it marks the beginning of a new life with Christ our Saviour. And of course the Passover marked the beginning of a journey with God, and so it is with our salvation! Let's think about that journey for a moment...

They had been saved out of Egypt, which in the Bible is generally a picture of the world and its attractions. This was the place where they were in slavery as well so this is an excellent little picture for the believer who is saved out of the world and from the penalty and power of sin. They were on their way to the Promised Land which is generally seen as a picture of the Christian's inheritance and the enjoyment of the blessings of God as a believer. Ephesians tells we are presently "blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places" but occasionally conflict and trouble can arise which can rob us of our enjoyment of spiritual things, such is pictured by the various conflicts the people of God experienced with the Philistines in the Lord and other such enemies.

I think that there is an application however, that we can view the Promised Land in a future sense as well for the believer. Remember that the Promised Land was the end goal for God's people on their journey with God, and in between Egypt and Canaan there were many years where they would experience times of testing and triumph, failure and victory, and they would experience the guidance, preservation and provision of God. How much God would have to teach them during that time and the works he would do through them, all before they reached their promised home. Sometimes we sing "heaven is our home" and how true this is, we are pilgrims and strangers down here (1 Pet 2:11), our citizenship is in heaven (Phil 3:20)!

Next post we will look in a little bit more detail at this Passover night and see what more we can see of Christ there and how we can apply this to ourselves today practically in our Christian living.

Yours in Christ, Mark

1 Kings 19: Elijah and God

I was listening to a podcast the other day which was speaking about 1 Kings 19 and it reminded me of how very relevant this passage is to ou...