The God Who ‘Sticks His Neck Out’

There was once a man who went for a walk in the fields near his home in the early springtime. As he began to make his way upon familiar paths, he eventually came up to a pond that he had passed by many times on his previous sojourns.

The winter had not been a heavy one and the pond was shallow enough for the man to see many rocks sticking partway out of the pond; some round, some more rough and angular.

The man decided to venture a little closer to the pond’s edge and noted that one of the rounder rocks in the water had a different sheen on it than the other ones. Not having the greatest vision, the man put on his glasses and was soon able to confirm that the rock indeed looked different from the others in the pond. Though mildly curious, he concluded nothing further and was certainly not about to waste his time getting his feet wet in order to determine why this particular rock was different.

He was about to tread up the hill away from the pond to resume his strolling through the fields when suddenly the sun came out from behind the clouds and the rock that he thought was an inert hunk of rounded stone moved!

A head, followed by a long neck slowly began to extend itself outward from one end of the semi-circular ‘rock’, eventually stretching its way out and above the surface of the pond and into the blazing light of day.

The man laughed at himself and said, “I should have known! That was no rock, it was a turtle all along! I guess if I’d made the effort to wade near the pond’s edge the creature might have stirred and I’d have known it was a turtle sooner. Heck, I could have picked up one of the long sticks that lay along the banks of the pond and reached out to prod the ‘rock’. Then I would certainly have known it was not a rock at all.”

Only the man didn’t.

However, the turtle did what turtles do: at just the opportune moment, the creature made his move – stretching out his head with eyes a’blinking – in order to bask in, absorb and reflect the light of the life-giving sun. Through this one act, the turtle revealed his true identity as a living being to a man who might otherwise have gone on his way thinking that he had simply seen a slightly different looking rock sticking out of a pond on a warm spring day.”

———————————————————————————————————————-

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, in one of his famous detective stories, once stated, “the world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes”. How true! We can often pass by a familiar object and not see any further significance in the object, other than the fact that it is there. A bit more investigation, if we’re interested enough, may reveal that the object we’ve thought as being one thing is in fact another thing entirely. Have you ever had a moment where it finally hit you that you’ve been seeing things wrong (or have maybe been oblivious to what’s directly in front of you)? That photograph you’ve walked by every day at the office, suddenly it’s, “Hey, that’s no photo, that’s a painting!” Or mom’s ‘fake’ plant in the corner of the living room – it turns out to be real (usually, right after you’ve accidentally ripped off one of its leaves in a careless moment). It’s times like these we realize that our perceived world is not always grounded in reality.

When it comes to our knowing what’s what regarding anything, we must agree that the goal of all humanity is to grow in knowledge in order to further benefit our existence and not to run on mere instincts. (When humanity does operate from primal or base desires, it often results successfully in filling up jail cells. Though correctional officers and police benefit from this via employment, no sane person would consider the situation utopian.) Growth in the area perception is one of those things that makes us truly human. With perception changes occurring as we mature, our creeds and philosophies are born and affect/frame our whole lives. However, there comes a point where we seem to settle in our ways and it’s at that stage where most of us are extremely disinterested in ‘re-perceiving’ our world or our views, religious or otherwise. We’ll look at things through the lens of our prejudices or from our set of perspectives and then comment on one issue or another (in attempts to find balance), often with tepid sayings like, “It’s all the same when you look at it,” or “To each his own,” or “A rose by any other name is still a rose”. But things are not all the same and there is an incredible amount one could learn about roses if they care to!

Is it possible your view of God is something like this? Maybe for years you’ve seen God in one way and one way only. Maybe you’ve always seen Him as an ‘amorphous blob’, having no definite shape, form or identity. Or maybe you view God as being like ‘the Force’ – a good or bad power as per George Lucas’ concept in Star Wars (and which was borrowed heavily from Eastern religions). Or conversely, you’ve always thought of God (or have been made to think of God) as the very opposite of ‘unknowable’ – that in fact, he’s very knowable: as an overarching, dominating being who arbitrarily picks and chooses who lives or dies, who’s saved or damned, and who is incapable of showing anything ‘humane’ or something akin to benevolent love to his creation? There are so many views of God that it would be next to impossible to list them all.

The only way we can become ‘unstuck’ regarding our view of God is through His Spirit (that personal extension of His very being) shining a light into our hearts so that we can clearly see that God is far more incredible, involved and interested than we think He is.  This applies to the unbelieving, the skeptical and even at times the religious-minded! If we’d only take (or make) time to wait for a ‘parting of the clouds’ – that moment when God reveals His true self to us – how much further along would we be? God has done this in the past for those who looked for truth and reality concerning Him and He can do this for us now. We so want God to ‘show up’ in this world and ‘do something’, but what if He already has (or still does) and some of us just haven’t grasped that?

Maybe you’re like Christ’s disciple, Philip, who in John’s Gospel, asks Jesus a ‘simple’ favour: “Show us (me and the rest of the disciples here) the Father (the God of Israel) and that will be enough for us!”

Jesus hands Philip ‘God on a platter’, so to speak, with the words, “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves.”

These words of Jesus should encourage some serious investigation, if in fact they’re true. For me, Jesus’ claims have spawned such investigation and thanks to superb authors such as Phillip Yancey, N.T. Wright, C.S. Lewis, Francis Schaeffer and a host of others who’ve delved deeply into the Christian scriptures that hail back to the first century, I believe that one does get to know God by knowing Jesus Christ as he is revealed to us via the Gospels and other New Testament documents. But I also maintain that it had to have been God who shined down his light into my mind in order for me to ‘get it’ or understand the significance of Christ’s words and life. And if this Christ of the New Testament is truly true, as I believe He is, then He did more than just stick His neck out; He gave his very life-blood for the this broken world – for you – so that you could have a unique relationship with God unlike anything else this world and its many other religions offer.

For anyone willing to ‘stand on the banks’ and wait patiently, God will reveal Himself once His powerful light illuminates those priceless and pure realities that are found only in Him. It wouldn’t hurt to do a little prodding into things and step out into the mysterious waters of faith; that is true. But ultimately, it will be an intelligent, loving and amazing God who shows His true self to you and propels you into wanting to know more and more about Him with every passing day.

May that wonderful and superbly enlightening moment be yours soon, I pray,

© Flagrant Regard, 2012

“… the reality, however, is found in Christ.”
Paul’s letter to the church at Colosse, Chapter 2, verse 17

“And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place,
until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.”

Peter’s 1st letter, Chapter 1, verse 19

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If You’re Gonna Be A Walking Billboard For Jesus, Make Sure It’s Really Jesus You’re Representing

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/story/2012/05/04/ns-jesus-shirt-student-school.html?cmp=rss

So in Nova Scotia, the battle is won: a Christian student has received the right to wear a ‘Christian T-shirt’ by the administration of the high school he attends. I’m sure all the Christian conservatives around the planet have collectively breathed their sighs of relief re the Province of Nova Scotia’s decision to maintain ‘constitutional integrity’ with respect to Canada’s freedom of religion ‘n such.

But being a ‘Classical Christian’ (something like a ‘conservative Christian’ but less embarrassing) I have to say that I am not all that happy about the attention this is receiving from the watching world.

In the initial story that broke over the wire, a young high school student named William Swimmer at Forest Heights Community School was banned from wearing a T-shirt that brazenly stated, “Life is WASTED without Jesus”. But after the ban received significant media attention, the ban-decision was overturned and now William can proudly display his message to the souls around and about him.

But with respect to the Christian faith, is it the right message?

When I was a teen I was the high school Christian weirdo who wore a baseball shirt with a transfer on the front that said, “I’m Hooked on Jesus”, and which was often accompanied by my hand-bedazzled jean jacket festooned with Christian sew-on patches along with the glitter-goo message, “Jesus Lives” on the back of it. It was a ‘positive affirmation’ message that elevated Jesus and my love for Him.

But this T-shirt message of Mr. Swimmer? Negative … really negative. In effect, here’s what the T-shirt’s words are proclaiming: “Your life is worth crap if you don’t have Jesus…you LOSER, you!” Wow.  That just ain’t playin’ nice in my books.  The message is condemning in nature and I can’t but help remember the words uttered by Christ immediately following John 3:16 (the faith statement ubiquitously placarded at sports events) “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:17).

Can you imagine if Jesus had everyone sit down in groups on the side of a mountain hill and instead of His famous (and wonderfully tender) ‘Beatitudes’ he began instead to speak to the crowds with something like, “Okay, listen up! You are all spiritually retarded dolts who really don’t get me and are pretty much a waste of space!”  Isn’t that in effect what William Swimmer’s T-Shirt’s message is to his fellow students and teachers? If I were to ask Mr. Swimmer if he feels that way about his many peers – if they’re all meaningless sans the Saviour, would he look me in the eye and say, “Well, yeah!”. I pity that young man if that were how he felt, because then he is NOT receiving Christian education from a right-minded sort or source. (I personally believe that the young fellow hasn’t really explored the semantics of the T-shirt’s message all that much and probably is in no way insensitive and intolerant of everyone’s existences being lived outside of Christ.)

Jesus came to serve and to love those who were outcasts, who were searching for truth, who wanted to believe in a God who cared and were hoping for some relief from the burdens imposed on them by pernickety religious zealots. The Lord served by teaching in a thoughtful manner with respect to the general public but was often frighteningly visceral in his admonitions to those teachers of religion who should have known God and His expectations better (and, in fact, they did know better!).  And as for Jesus’ disciples he, once again, spoke to them very differently from the curious masses he attracted; often firmly and with deeper instruction or revelation those outside of the discipleship circle would not have been privy to (Matt 13:11).

If we’re going to be walking billboards for the Saviour, let’s display a message to the surrounding populace that shows the seekers and the unbelievers the qualities we Christians truly elevate and hold dear in our faith-journeys: hope, faith and that all-important love found in and at the heart of God. That is the Gospel. Whether it’s a sartorial mission statement found on a T-shirt transfer or via one’s code of conduct before the watching world, I believe it’s important how we represent the Who that is our life.

“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone
who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.
But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience,
so that those who speak maliciously against your good behaviour in Christ
may be ashamed of their slander.”
1 Peter 3:16-17

© Flagrant Regard, 2012


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Shortest Christian Blog Post EVER!

“When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.”
Proverbs 10:19

… Yup.

© Flagrant Regard, 2012


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Why We Love Our Hollywood Heroes

Zoolander

How many times have you seen this in a Hollywood flick: 

Man falls in love with woman, woman appears to have her sights on or a commitment to someone else. 

The smitten man – always the story’s protagonist – does his best to win the woman’s affections and to become her ‘one and only’.  But, as the plot goes, the woman’s potential suitor finds himself in a losing battle with the other man in her life, or so it appears. And then of course, there comes this powerful moment in the story where he relinquishes his pursuit of the woman he’s in love with and, burying his hurt, stoically tells her something like, “I love you so much, I can’t afford to see you unhappy.  I want you to be with the man you truly love, and if it ain’t me babe, then at least I know you’re content.” 

In some movies the protagonist gets another kick at love’s can as the woman in the story realizes what a truly unselfish man she’s throwing away and, forsaking the safe and familiar, falls hard and passionately for the new guy.  At other times (but is less rarely seen in modern American films) the pursuing male wanders off dejected and alone as he sadly accepts his destiny –  not being with the woman he’s in love with.

In either outcome, we value the protagonist as a true, unwavering and selfless hero who wants the best for the one he loves even at the cost of his own happiness.  Now that’s a Hollywood hero!

We cherish our silver screen heroic archetypes, especially in stories like the above, because of the selflessness involved; the sacrifice that springs from genuine love.  As we watch the drama unfold, we find ourselves wanting to believe in that noble kind of love because we know it’s the right kind to fully embrace and which also ‘sets the bar’ for ourselves.

But what of our heroism with respect to our following Jesus?  How much more should we be ready to sacrifice our selfish wants and desires – no matter how painful it is – in order to make sure the God we claim to love is pleased?  Are we willing to give up all or, like the rich young ruler that Jesus encountered who was not willing to give up that which he held most dear to him, we too walk away without God’s blessing or true fulfillment in our lives? 

My wife and I heard these wonderful words of Martin Luther from a preacher just the other day:

“A religion that gives nothing, costs nothing, and suffers nothing, is worth nothing.”

In order to gain Christ, we are told it will mean us losing our very lives and sometimes walking away from the things we value most.  Will we walk away from a relationship that God’s word states is not right or will we blithely dismiss the clear instructions of the Scriptures in order to suit our desires or ideals?  Will we say in our prayers, “I want You to be pleased with everything I think, say and do, even if it means my sacrificing the things and/or beliefs I hold on to (which I think matter most).”? 

Loving God often means struggle and persecution, but it is ALWAYS about forsaking all in order to gain Christ’s blessing, once we’ve been saved by His grace.  If you view the Gospel in any other light, you are not yet a beneficiary of the truth.  Yes, God is all about love, but he’s also about holy living, exemplary behaviour as befitting His people and He expects TRUE REPENTANCE:  an about face in our hearts toward God and a resetting of our minds that enables us to seek out what God’s will is for every aspect of  our life. 

Do you want to be a hero?  Do you want to have the audience of angels and saints in heaven – and your heavenly Father himself – cheering for you?  Then be holy (sacred, morally upright, set apart), be seeking God’s will and be ready at all times to give your all no matter what the cost is to yourself.  This is how we win in this life and in the next.

© Flagrant Regard, 2012

“On His journey vast crowds attended Him, towards whom He turned and said, “If any one is coming to me who does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes and his own life also, he cannot be a disciple of mine. No one who does not carry his own cross and come after me can be a disciple of mine. “Which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not sit down first and calculate the cost, asking if he has the means to finish it? — lest perhaps, when he has laid the foundation and is unable to finish, all who see it shall begin to jeer at him, saying, ‘This man began to build, but could not finish.’ Or what king, marching to encounter another king in war, does not first sit down and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand men to meet the one who is advancing against him with twenty thousand? If not, while the other is still a long way off, he sends messengers and sues for peace. Just as no one of you who does not detach himself from all that belongs to him can be a disciple of mine.”
(Luk 14:25-33)

“Therefore, surrounded as we are by such a vast cloud of witnesses, let us fling aside every encumbrance and the sin that so readily entangles our feet. And let us run with patient endurance the race that lies before us, simply fixing our gaze upon Jesus, our Prince Leader in the faith, who will also award us the prize. He, for the sake of the joy which lay before Him, patiently endured the cross, looking with contempt upon its shame, and afterwards seated Himself– where He still sits–at the right hand of the throne of God. Therefore, if you would escape becoming weary and faint-hearted, compare your own sufferings with those of Him who endured such hostility directed against Him by sinners.”
(Heb 12:1-3)

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Mathterlife Equations


Ever wondered if all the world’s religions or faith-groups (and what they believe regarding the afterlife) could be broken down into simple mathematical formulas?

Well, here’s an attempt at what that might look like.

VALUES

M = Mankind
W = Works (usually referent to goodness via thoughts, words and deeds)
D = Death (the constant)
U = Uncertainty (unknown or unknowable outcome)
B = Belief (faith in an unseen force or being)
AE = Ambiguous Eternity (includes reincarnation belief systems)
S = Substitutionary Death (of Jesus Christ)
R = Relationship (faith based communion/prayerful intimacy with God)
GE = Guaranteed Eternity


NON-FAITH BASED EQUATIONS


1. Atheists

M + W = D + Ø

2. Agnostics

M + W = D + U

The Algebraic Take
In case of the agnostic, they believe M or W (or both) have a value higher than do atheists, in order for U > Ø. However, since M + W are in fact the same quantities then D + U = D, leading to U = Ø at the very least.

The Theological Take
Agnostics and Atheists have to be the saddest lot, in that their non-belief consigns them to a life with temporary significance. Meaning and purpose is measured (or experienced) via ephemeral/fleeting notions of what is good or bad given a particular moment in time. There is no grounded universal with respect to ethics or morality. No foundation of belief regarding the spiritual exists. The afterlife, if there is one, is wholly unknowable.


FAITH BASED EQUATIONS


3. Nontheistic or Polytheistic Religions

M + B + W = D + AE

The Algebraic Take
D + AE > D only if B > Ø. If belief with no quantifier (something definitive to believe in) is the same as no belief at all, then B = Ø and again D + AE = D, leading to U = Ø at the very least.

The Theological Take
In nontheistic faiths such as Buddhism, some souls might enter the ‘hungry ghost realm’ (if they belonged to evil people) or will reincarnate into another person until all bad karma has been dealt with and one achieves ‘Nirvana’, which is essentially a successful transition to blissful ignorance!

In the polytheistic religion of Hinduism or Jainism, karma is directly linked to your past deeds and/or misdeeds. Your bad debts are paid off in transiting from life to life and you can never hope to know what type of existence will befall you upon your ‘next go around’. (One of the reasons the poorer classes (aka. Talits) of India are not well regarded or assisted by many of the well-to-do in society is due to the traditional and pervasive belief that the poor are where they are because karma is being meted out to them by way of their suffering!)


4. Spiritualist, Mystical or ‘Fringe’ Belief Systems

(M + B) | (M + W) = D + AE

Note: “|= logical or

The Algebraic Take
If (M + B) > (M + W) in conceptual value, we have no contradiction if from the previous case B = Ø (non quantified), and again neither can be > D, and so again, here B and W can be used interchangeably, and in the end, D + AE = D, and so again AE = Ø.

The Theological Take
Wiccans, serious practitioners of eastern meditation, New Age types or spiritualists all have one thing in common: a desire to be non-conformist in their approach to faith or religious practices. In other words, if a belief concept is considered ‘outside the box’ or non-traditional, it’s a candidate for interest. Multiple elements borrowed from Christianity, eastern mysticism, witchcraft, Buddhism, Jainism and even voodoo form a hodgepodge of beliefs and/or practices. Achieving harmony with self, nature and others is the primary focus while thoughts of the afterlife are of secondary concern; often a mish-mash of various ideas with no root concepts. The need to address one’s own moral evil or sinfulness and how it relates to ‘the next world’ is usually regarded as ‘old school’ and even offensive, while goodness is whatever one deems it to be. What unifies people in this belief category is their having no unified idea of what God or the afterlife truly entails.


5. Monotheistic Abrahamic Religions and/or Christian Cults

M + B + W = D + AE

The Algebraic Take
Same as case 3.  D + AE = D, AE = Ø.

The Theological Take
Religions such as Judaism, Islam and even Mormonism have a munificence of customs and beliefs based on holy books or sacred scriptures. Beliefs and customs vary somewhat, but what they ALL have in common is an understanding that the rights and wrongs committed in this life are what impact one’s ultimate destination; that being heaven or hell and particular levels therein.

Doing one’s best, along with a general or committed belief in God should or could result in a good outcome, but there is still no guarantee! (Incidentally, women do not share celestial equality with men in Islam and Mormonism.)


6. Christianity’s Equation

S + M + B + R = D – D + GE

The Algebraic Take
Here belief is quantified by S and R, giving the all-important GE quantity, and interestingly, the constant D is cancelled out on the right side of the equation thanks to the substitutionary death S = -D on the left side.

The Theological Take
Christianity is the ONLY FAITH system where the belief in the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ supersedes man’s moral uprightness. Classical first-century Christianity contends that mankind cannot (nor will ever be able to) understand or attain a level of goodness that God would be impressed by or satisfied with. It further asserts that even the negative, dark thoughts of the mind count as spots on our souls. In order for God to receive us into his presence fully and completely (in this life AND the next), we have to be perfect. Realistically, this is quite impossible. To become perfect enough for God, a person must accept that they are morally and ethically a shifty, inept being who can never attain a full level of goodness that meets God’s requirements in areas of purity, holiness and right-standing character and that the ONLY solution to this dilemma is to be made perfect! Christ, who while on earth was perfect in every way, was indeed a great teacher and an incredible man but Christians believe he was far more than that. They believe that God, through Christ, revealed his intense love for us by sacrificing His very self in death in order to make us perfect and bridge the barrier that exists between a holy God and not-very-holy humanity. A further step was taken by this same God – to provide evidence of His power and ability – when He caused Jesus’ body to rise up and out of death’s grip within three days of His brutal execution. This miraculous event, witnessed by several hundred people, validated to these people (and those who would believe their testimony) that Jesus was exactly who he claimed to be and that God’s seal of approval rests with Him and Him alone. (No other religious leader has ever left an empty tomb behind them.) When this is believed in wholeheartedly and whole-mindedly by anyone and a true one-to-one relationship between them and God ensues as a result, God determines them ‘fully qualified’ for entrance into a peaceful and purposeful eternity.

One may notice that the ‘W‘ (works) variable is missing from Christian math equation. The reason? A Christian’s relationship with God (as brought about through Christ’s saving work) is the only means by which we will ever be able to rest, let alone stand, in the presence of the Almighty. A turning away from things that are considered spiritually or morally unhealthy evidences true Christian belief and ‘good works’ will be the natural outworking that springs from the new life and relationship God begins in a real believer. Just as it is believed that in the next life evildoers will receive punishment that befits their crimes, Christians, upon entering their eternity with God, understand that they will receive some measure of reward for the good works that they have done while in their earthly bodies. (After opening and entering through the door of faith, it is very important to note that the Christian no longer maintains that any {or any amount} of their good deeds are what qualify them for an eternity with God and often reflects upon this, remembering that anything to the contrary strips away the true meaning and ultimate purpose of Christ’s death on the cross.)

My attempt to explain faith concepts using mathematical equations is certainly a feeble one, but fortunately God is not feeble. He is powerful enough to whisper into the deafest ear, “I am here – know my Son, know Me, know my intense love for you and believe”. Today, this may be you.

I pray anyone reading this will hear the call of the Master and come to know the truth that indeed sets them free.

© Flagrant Regard, 2012., with algebraic corrections and commentary provided by Boris D.


For further evidence of the above, please download a free copy of the bible (and a variety of helpful commentaries) from www.e-sword.net and review for yourselves, in context, the following verses.

Letter to the Romans 5:6-11
For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.
New American Standard Translation

Letter to the Hebrews 12:22-24
But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
New International Version

Letter to the Philippians 3:7-14
I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead! I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
New Living Translation

Letter to the Hebrews 10:1-25
The old system under the law of Moses was only a shadow, a dim preview of the good things to come, not the good things themselves. The sacrifices under that system were repeated again and again, year after year, but they were never able to provide perfect cleansing for those who came to worship. If they could have provided perfect cleansing, the sacrifices would have stopped, for the worshipers would have been purified once for all time, and their feelings of guilt would have disappeared. But instead, those sacrifices actually reminded them of their sins year after year. For it is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. That is why, when Christ came into the world, he said to God,

“You did not want animal sacrifices or sin offerings. But you have given me a body to offer. You were not pleased with burnt offerings or other offerings for sin. Then I said, ‘Look, I have come to do your will, O God—as is written about me in the Scriptures.'”

First, Christ said,

“You did not want animal sacrifices or sin offerings or burnt offerings or other offerings for sin, nor were you pleased with them” (though they are required by the law of Moses). Then he said, “Look, I have come to do your will.”

He cancels the first covenant in order to put the second into effect. For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time.

Under the old covenant, the priest stands and ministers before the altar day after day, offering the same sacrifices again and again, which can never take away sins. But our High Priest offered himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, good for all time. Then he sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand. There he waits until his enemies are humbled and made a footstool under his feet. 14 For by that one offering he forever made perfect those who are being made holy.

And the Holy Spirit also testifies that this is so. For he says,

“This is the new covenant I will make with my people on that day, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.”

Then he says,

“I will never again remember their sins and lawless deeds.”

And when sins have been forgiven, there is no need to offer any more sacrifices.

And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.

Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.
New Living Translation

Categories: Apologetics, Bible Knowledge, Christianity, Creative Writing, Religion, Theology, Worship Music | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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