Jesus Christ is Lord of All

Monday, March 12, 2012

Blood-derived Peace

19 For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, 20 and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through His blood, shed on the cross. Col 1

Theme Song: It is not Death to Die 

Dear Father,
      I praise You that You are always faithful. Thank You for commanding us to trust in You...for allowing us to trust in You through the ever-winding path of this earthly life. You are our peace and through Your blood, Your people are granted peace. Each and every one of Your people has been reconciled to You in Your time. And in You, Your people are irrevocable reconciled to one another. Father, it is hard for me to see Your peace through my weak Spiritual eyes, but I pray that You will grant us faith to know the peace that You have acquired for us.
In Jesus Christ's Name,

Peace with God through His Blood
     The relationship of the human soul to the Sovereign soul keeper is of primary importance in the eternal Kingdom. As we consider our own peace in light of this relationship, we know that the status of this relationship will dictate our own peace, yes even the presence of turmoil, fear, worry, gloom...ultimately condemnation in our conscious thoughts and feelings which result in the absence of peace. The absence of our peace came from presence of a great distance and a great separation between our human souls and the great I Am.

     The wall which stood between us is like the veil in the Temple which separated the Most Holy Place from the Holy Place. Even the holiest one among the people of God, the high priest, could only enter once a year and not without the blood. The veil was literally our hostility towards God manifested in our disobedience, which was revealed through the law. 

 But only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance.8 The Holy Spirit was showing by this that the way into the Most Holy Place had not yet been disclosed as long as the first tabernacle was still standing. Heb 9

     As Christ was crucified, His Life was numbered with the transgressors and His blood was poured out onto death. Here the very constituents of the veil, our sinful hatred of God, was placed on the perfect Lamb. As He bore our guilt, His blood was shed to make atonement for, or to remove our guilt. 

     As the Messiah finished the work of atonement, He cried out "It is Finished" and the veil in the temple was torn in two. In the heavenly realms, the separation between God and His people was removed. No longer was there condemnation looming over their heads or the fear that the Israelites had when the Lord commanded Moses to command the people to not come any closer to the mountain of God where God spoke to Moses. It was not as though God had overlooked our sin in light of the atoning sacrifice of Christ. Rather, in Christ, the full price for our sin had been paid. Our sin had been removed entirely. The price for our sin was the price for our soul. In atoning for our sin, He was purchasing our souls for His own keeping. Yes, the fearful and awesome God, whose holy fire would have consumed the fallen earth in Its splendor, has truly loved His people. He has loved them unto death on a cross. He has loved them to call them His own and to give them Life in knowing Him. 

     What is eternal Life? What is this Life that was intended to make our joy and peace compete? Jesus has prayed:

3 Now this is eternal Life: that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent. John 17

     Though the veil has been torn, few have found the Eternal Life in Christ. For to know Him we must come to Him. We must approach His throne of grace with freedom and confidence. This requires that we believe in the complete forgiveness of our past, present, and future sin. And it is a strange work that the Spirit performs. For as we receive forgiveness we are being granted that very humility and response of love for our Sovereign Lover that enables us to live a righteous life. 

21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22 But now He has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the Gospel. Col 1

      There is an ongoing temptation in our hearts to harbor condemnation and the associated consequences of a perceived absence of peace: fear, gloom, despair, anger... The devil uses our momentary sins and the accusations given to us from the world and those around us to destroy our peace. We often think that when we lack peace, there is some earthly event or person who is responsible. But it is quite true that the necessary and sufficient predecessor for our lack of peace and thus our pained relationship with our Good Shepherd is the perception of guilt. 

Here is a personal example:

     One major arrow against my peace has been physical discomfort. There are times when I am overcome with exhaustion or stomach ailments. I have felt utterly condemned in them. For on my heart is written the Law of God (and even the law of men) that we ought to "lay down our lives for others", "pour ourselves out like a drink offering", "set an example to believers in life, love, faith, and purity", "be content in all circumstances", "rejoice in the Lord always", "not be idle"... and in my weakness I feel completely incapable of thinking of others or fulfilling God's or the world's or even my own standards. I could dream of 101 potential occurrences in which I would fail to walk in faith in such a state. And yet God's Word to me is that "My child, your sin has been forgiven and My grace is enough for You. My Holy Spirit still indwells your being though you have felt this way. I have allowed these weaknesses to come upon you in order to reveal my glory. You need not fight against it, but stand firm in faith and You will see My deliverance."

     And there are many instances in our lives when the literal continuous sins of the flesh, that is, when we are not walking in faith, bring to us inclinations of condemnation and judgment. And yet when we consider the finished work on the cross we realized that if the guilt of even one of these momentary sins were to be borne by us, we would be entirely damned. Do we feel guilt for our sins? Then we are claiming that we are eternally damned. We ought to approach the throne of grace with freedom and confidence that we may find mercy and grace to help us in our time of need. 

     There would be no hope for our continuing in Him if we do not have the humility and child-likeness to believe that each and every sin is forgiven. We may pray, "Father if You have not forgiven this sin, then I am not Your child. But I believe that Christ has borne them and Your Spirit in me confirms to my mind and heart that I am Your child." 

    The momentary bearing of shame and guilt is something that occurs deep within our hearts and minds and we are often not even aware that we are bearing them. But ultimately, what prevents us from seeing and remembering our Savior is our holding onto guilt and shame. It is that very refusal to acknowledge His forgiveness that causes us to think that we are separated from Him. For we know that we were included in Him when we believed and that each sin is forgiven.

     There is another Spiritual state called "Godly sorrow that brings repentance" which is a brokenness and contrition of departing from the Law of the Spirit of Life. The Law of the Spirit of Life is the life lived in faith in the righteousness that comes from Christ and not through obedience to the Law. Thus, the very act of refusing to receive the forgiveness of God is an act worthy of Godly sorrow. We ought to have Godly sorrow for not receiving His forgiveness each moment. Our refusal to receive it indicates a heart that still strives to derive a righteousness of its own and thus incompletely believes that Christ has borne our sin on His Body or that He was raised to Life for our justification and sanctification.

     He wants us to abide in Him. He tells us to "Come to Him, all of us who are weary and heavy laden that He may give us rest". He tells us to eat of Him, the Bread of Life, and drink of Him, the Living Water. He tells us to cast our burdens onto Him for He cares for us. He tells us to commit our ways to Him and to put upon Him those impossible trials and temptations that He may do the impossible for us. Even the uncertainties of the future can weigh hard on our consciences (as though it were a sin for us not to know the future) and He tells us to trust in Him with all our hearts. 

1. To believe in Christ is to know that all of the sin, big and small, is forgiven because of Christ's death and resurrection. The receiving of His forgiveness is a prerequisite for the living of a Godly life. The humility and faith that God requires of us starts with the receiving of His forgiveness. If we do not receive His ongoing full forgiveness we cannot live with Him or for Him. 

2. To believe in Christ is the way to know Him in His glory, splendor, holiness, righteousness, and LOVE. In this way we are reconciled to Him and HE HIMSELF WILL BE OUR PEACE.

2 Open the gates 
   that the righteous nation may enter, 
   the nation that keeps faith. 
3 You will keep in perfect peace 
   him whose mind is steadfast, 
   because he trusts in You. 
4 Trust in the LORD forever, 
   for the LORD, the LORD, is the Rock eternal. Is 26

Peace Among God's People

     In the believing of our sin placed on the Lamb of God and the full sufficiency of His blood to make atonement for our sin comes the belief in this same truth for the souls of those around us in the family of God and even forgiveness for those who are outside of it in the present time. The same eyes which behold the righteous robe of Christ that covers our own sin sees this robe on the family member as well.

2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. Eph 4

     The faithful are constantly receiving His forgiveness and they are constantly seeing as forgiven the sins of others. Focus on the word "CONSTANTLY". It is common for us to receive His forgiveness for sin and to forgive through seeing as already forgiven the sin of others during personal prayer time. But we are not unaware of the devil's schemes. For more often He would plague our hearts with temptation in our every day living when we are not walking by faith: those very times when we feel condemned. The times when we are unable to forgive and love and bear with the sin in others always occurs during those very times when deep in our hearts we are not receiving God's forgiveness for our own sin and weaknesses. The one who is condemned in his heart can only condemn and judge the other. The one who receives the forgiveness of the Father can only love and forgive the sin in another while sometimes rebuking but not without tears, Agape, and deep humility. 

     To constantly receive forgiveness means that the eyes of our hearts are always on Christ. They are fixed on Him. They are unmoved. They do not consider their circumstances based on the spirit of the prince of the power of the air who works in the sons of disobedience or on their past failed experiences. There hearts are set on Christ above who is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. This is abiding in Christ. This is letting His Words remain in constantly trust in His Words that His Body has been broken for us and His blood has been shed for the forgiveness of our sins.

     Even the very act of remembering the Bread and the Cup are referred to as "Communion". The very essence of Communion is the remembering that HE has paid it all, that HE has allowed His Body to be broken for us. And as we remember together, we are really receiving His forgiveness for all of our sins collectively. For certainly we are all part of one Body with Christ as our Head. 

     God uses the trials and discipline in the lives of believers to unite them. As our Father removes from us the very objects of our heart's adultery and idolatry, we are drawn to His comfort and the true satisfaction of knowing Him. As we see the same discipline occurring in the lives of each other, we identify as brothers and sisters with the same Father and the same Firstborn elder Brother, Jesus Christ. The true children of God are all experiencing trials and discipline. And there is a mark on them all that we see. We see the mark of brokenness and uncertainty in the future and yet the distinguishing mark is the presence of the Holy Spirit and the responsiveness to the Word of God and the discipline of the Father. Look around you among the people and God and behold the mark of the Spirit on the people of God. This mark is a mixture of earthly brokenness and Godly light and the glory of God. When God gives you the eyes to see this mark, you will praise God for His great love lavished upon His children. 

19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21In Him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in Him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit. Eph 2

     For surely in the midst of the Father's discipline He is removing that very earthly glory that had caused us to bear hostility towards one another. In causing us to glory and boast in Him and not in our fading and unworthy fleshly glory, we are no longer viewing each other from a human perspective. And when we see each other falter in  valuing the glory of the flesh, may we humbly plead their case before our Father. We may only be united with one another in Spirit when He removes, through His discipline, our desiring or even acknowledging of earthly glories, and when He instills that very vision of the Father's glory. 

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:11

      A subset of earthly glory is the presence of our own standards of righteousness. We remember the described hostility between the Israelites and Gentiles because of the law. The Israelites sought to follow their own law and were circumcised in the process. The Gentiles had their own standards of goodness yet were uncircumcised. But in the complete acknowledgement of our sinfulness apart from Him, He has removed from us the dividing barriers of our own self righteousness. Only as we hold Him as exclusively righteous and only as we claim no righteousness apart from Him are we united with the bond of peace.

14 For He Himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by abolishing in His flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in Himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which He put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18For through Him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Eph 2

Excellent Finds:
Puritan Prayers: Link to prayers by old Puritans...could not get past a few lines without tears.
Sermon: Prayer as Communion

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