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The Cross – THE SUPREME MOMENT IN HUMAN HISTORY

The following is a sermon outline by Dr Charles Stanley. It’s very relevant to reflect on this text on Good Friday, a day we honour in memory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Take the time to consider the importance of this event of Christ dying for our sins, and allow God to bring us all under conviction.

KEY PASSAGE: Luke 24:13-26

SUPPORTING SCRIPTURE: Genesis 2:17 | Ezekiel 18:4 | Ezekiel 18:20 | Matthew 27:46 | John 1:29 | John 12:27-31 | John 19:30 | Acts 2:22-24 | Romans 1:18 | Romans 6:6 | Romans 8:1-3 | 2 Corinthians 5:6 | 2 Corinthians 5:10 | 2 Corinthians 5:17-18 | 2 Corinthians 5:20-21 | Philippians 3:21 | Colossians 2:13-15 | Hebrews 9:22 | 1 Peter 2:21-24 | 1 John 1:9 | Revelation 1:18

SUMMARY

If you asked a historian, philosopher, and scientist to identify the supreme moment in history, they’d all have different answers. But from God’s point of view, that moment was the crucifixion, death, and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. As humans we can’t comprehend all that happened at the cross, but God has given us deeper understanding of what transpired in His Word.

SERMON POINTS

After the resurrection, Jesus appeared to two disciples walking on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-26). They’d been in Jerusalem and were aware of Jesus’ death and reported resurrection but were disappointed and confused about these events. Jesus responded, “You foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to come into His glory?” (vv. 25-26). Then He explained to them all that was written about Him in the Old Testament. Jesus was the only one on earth who knew what had happened, and His Word is still explaining it to us today.

God judged sin the day Jesus was crucified.

Because He is holy and righteous, the Lord hates sin. He warned Adam and Eve that they would die if they disobeyed Him (Gen. 2: 17), and He continues to warn us in the scriptures not to rebel against Him because His wrath “is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of people who suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18).

In the Old Testament, God set up a system of animal sacrifices to deal with sin. According to Hebrews 9:22, “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” But those sacrifices were insufficient. What was needed was a perfect sacrifice, and that’s what Jesus came to be. When John the Baptist announced Him, he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).

Christ was the only qualified sacrifice because He was perfect. On the cross, God “made Him who knew no sin to be sin in our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21). Jesus was our substitute who bore the guilt and penalty of our sins so we wouldn’t have to. This was all according to the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God. He sacrificed His Son to bear the condemnation we deserved (Acts 2:22). Now there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1).

Christ defeated Satan on the cross.

Shortly before His crucifixion, Jesus said, “Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out” (John 12:31). Even though Satan is still working powerfully in this world today, Jesus won the war against him on our behalf with His death and resurrection.

  • The devil cannot condemn us. Jesus Christ paid our sin debt in full. Since we’ve all sinned, we have a certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, but Jesus has canceled it, having nailed it to the cross (Colossians 2:13-15). At the cross, God disarmed the rulers and authorities and made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Christ.

Satan is a defeated enemy even though he still tempts and attacks us. Christ’s victory over him guarantees that none of his accusations against us can stand because the record of our sins has been removed, and we stand in Christ’s righteousness. When we sin and confess, God promises to forgive and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). In fact, His blood is continually cleansing us every day of our lives. God will never condemn one of His blood-bought children.

  • Satan cannot make us sin. Christ defeated the power of sin in our lives. According to Romans 6:6, “Our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so we would no longer be slaves to sin.” Satan rules over unbelievers, and they have no power to defeat him, but he can’t make any believer sin. Yes, we sometimes do, but we have God’s supernatural power to resist if we’ll use it.
  • Satan cannot take our lives. Jesus alone holds the keys to death (Revelation 1:18). We are held securely by Him, and nothing happens to us apart from His permissive will. Death will eventually come, but God is the one whom the cross demonstrated how wicked Satan is. He tempted Jesus to come down from the cross and save Himself, yet despite the humiliation, abuse, and suffering, Christ did not revile in return, but quietly endured in obedience to His Father’s will, leaving us an example to follow in His steps (1 Pet. 2:21-23).

God reconciled us to Himself through Christ.

Reconcile means to bring back together two parties who were formerly estranged. Our sin has alienated us from a holy God, and there is nothing we can do to remedy the situation. But the Lord took the initiative to reconcile us to Himself by sending His Son to satisfy His righteous justice on the cross (2 Corinthians 5:17-18). Jesus bore the tidal wave of God’s wrath that we deserved so we wouldn’t have to. He was forsaken so we could be accepted (Matthew 27:46). Right before His death, Jesus cried out, “It is finished!” (John 19:30). Redemption and reconciliation were complete. Through faith in Christ, the enmity is gone, and as God’s beloved children, we’re clothed with the righteousness of Christ (2 Cor. 5:21).

RESPONSE

  • How has your understanding of the events on the cross been enlarged? What will you do in response to this supreme moment in human history?
  • In what ways have you believed Satan’s lies and accusations and allowed him power in your life that is not rightfully his?
  • The cross of Christ is the only way of salvation. Have you trusted in Jesus for reconciliation and forgiveness, or have you tried to add to His work on the cross to earn your acceptance?

Jesus is able to save to the uttermost

Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. (ESV Hebrews 7:25)

As we approach Good Friday, and the weekend dedicated to remembering the cross of Jesus Christ and what He accomplished for you and me – for anyone who will repent of sin, and trust Jesus as Lord of their life. By accepting Him, you can have your name written in the Book of LIfe – you are forgiven and move from judgement into life eternal. And that eternal life was assured when Jesus rose from the grave on the following Sunday.

When  Jesus was resurrected, it is clear from scripture that he then became the High Priest and became our advocate with the Father.

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water…For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. (Hebrews 10:19–22, 24 ESV)

As we learn to trust and obey, the Spirit works to conform our minds into the image of God – to the way to live on earth like Jesus. We may occasionally make a mistake and sin. Here’s where Christ’s advocacy as our High Priest is essential:

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. (ESV 1 John 2:1)

Jesus Christ is our mediator between God and man:

For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, (ESV 1 Tim 2:5)

Jesus understands you. He lived as a man on earth as he ministered to the multitudes.

Since then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence, draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (ESV Heb 4:14-16)

Through Jesus Christ our High Priest, we, just like the early Christians who witnessed Christ’s death and resurrection, and further based their faith on Christ’s promise of salvation and eternal life — have the same hope offered to us. This refers to the personal, heart to heart relationship the Christian is expected to have with Jesus.

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish.  (John 10:27–28)

Jesus is ready to forgive you. By His advocacy, we all have access in one Spirit to the Father, and we live through Christ’s Spirit united with Him and the Father, and we can live in newness of life in mind, body and soul in His kingdom now. (John 17:21)

For a deeper dive into the theology of Jesus Christ our High Priest you can access my in-depth study here: Jesus Christ, our High Priest

God Is Bigger Than Your Worldly Troubles

Have you ever stopped to think how different life would be if we were still living in Eden? No broken relationships. No difficult pregnancies. No squabbles with spouses. No financial woes. No cancer. No feeling far away from God. (And this list doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface!)

Instead, we live in a world marred by the effects of sin. We daily face all kinds of pain, trouble, suffering, weeping, loss and despair.

The temptation is to blame our woes on God, but let’s be honest: The human race did this to itself. All God ever did was love us, and — when we rebelled — implement a plan to rescue us.

The promise above — a statement by Jesus to his followers — is a sobering assessment of the way things are. But it is also a hopeful reminder of the once and future Paradise for which we were created.

In light of such truth, author Elisabeth Elliot counsels us: “Refuse self-pity. Refuse it absolutely. It is a deadly thing with power to destroy you. Turn your thoughts to Christ who has already carried your griefs and sorrows.”

Our Sovereign Lord’s Promise 

Trials and sorrows are part of living in a fallen world. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NIV) 

This tells me that Jesus is promising me: I am bigger and more powerful than any worldly troubles you face. 1

Let’s Pray

Heavenly Father, trials and sorrows are a normal part of life. I don’t like this truth, but it reminds me of my need for you, God. I can take heart in the fact that you will have the final word. I praise you because you are powerful and sovereign over my life — even the hard times. Always keep me looking to you.

1 Once a Day Bible Promises

Dangers and Delusion of Rationalization

…behold, you have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out. Numbers 32:23

When Joseph’s brothers saw him coming, they . . . made plans to kill him. . . . [But] Judah said to the others, “What can we gain by killing our brother? That would just give us a guilty conscience. Let’s sell Joseph to those Ishmaelite traders. Let’s not be responsible for his death; after all, he is our brother!” (Genesis 37:18, 26-27 NLT)

Initially, out of jealousy for their little brother, Joseph’s elder brothers proposed a plan to kill him. Then they altered their strategy of murdering him, rationalizing a lesser sin, to sell him into slavery to by-passing Ishmaelite traders. When you rationalize your plan to commit a lesser sin, it remains sin. At these times of temptation consider the consequences of your actions. When we justify in such times when deceived that a lesser evil is okay, we surrender our conscience from the guidance of the Holy Spirit to Satan. Rationalizing is, in many cases, delusion in disguise. We might think we are smart while acting in folly.

Begin to consider in what areas of life where you might be rationalizing sin that could lead to harmful consequences.

  • Have I joked crudely, even if it hurts another’s feelings?
  • Do I have a propensity for gluttony, drunkenness, sexual lust, anger, or slanderous gossip?
  • Have I ever told half-lies versus the whole truth?
  • Am I ethically divisive based on political leanings?
  • Do I advise others how to live even if it is against their conscience and thus viewed as sin?
  • Do I ever sidestep the plain truth of scripture that doesn’t fit my denominational group-think?
  • Have I ever rejected Christ as my Saviour?
  • Do I sway others  towards non-Christian ideologies unto ungodly living in this world’s culture?
  • Have I minimized Christ in the family to get along with my partner/spouse?
  • Have I often spoken of the faults of others without exhibiting forgiveness?

Let the Lord challenge you: Live such good lives among the unbeliever that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. (1 Peter 2:12)

Theology: The Trinity Doctrine Glorifies our Lord Jesus Christ

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1

The doctrine of the Trinity has parallel truths that are complementary, not contradictory. Three unique identities co-exist in one tri-unified Godhead in an equal relationship working distinctly as purposeful personal extensions in the co-creation of the universe, with earth and humankind and all creatures, sustaining potentiation of divine connections to humanity in a communicable (prayer-linked), pedagogical mindset (Spirit-linked): with prescribed laws (prophetically scripture-linked) in all realms psychologically, spiritually, familial in relation with our minds existentially in a created biologic, physic, atomic, and cosmic reality sustained by the highest laws in each energy field. 1

The Christian faith affirms that there is one and only one God, eternally existing while fully and simultaneously expressed in three Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Each member of the Godhead is equally God, each is eternally God, and each is fully God—not three gods but three Persons of the one Godhead. Each Person is equal in essence as each possesses eternally, simultaneously, and fully the identically same and undivided divine nature. Yet each is also an eternal and distinct personal expression of that one undivided divine nature. Because of this, what distinguishes each Person of the Godhead from each other Person is not and cannot be the divine nature, since the identically same one and undivided divine nature is the full and eternal possession of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. So, what distinguishes each Person of the Godhead from each other Person are the relationships that each has with each of the other Persons and his particular roles in relation to the others. In light of both the equality of essence yet differentiation of relationships and roles that exist among the Persons of the Godhead, we consider just how the church came to affirm these truths about the Trinity and how those Trinitarian relationships and roles are expressed within the Trinity of Persons. 2

The bible teaches that the Father is God. Yet it was evident that while on earth as our saviour and representative man, Jesus honoured prayed to and obeyed his Father.

The Doctrine of the Trinity Glorifies Jesus Christ

In 1 Corinthians 8:6 we can see that Jesus was active in creation: yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him. 

The triadic relationship of God can be seen into whom Christians are baptized. Matthew 28:19-20 states: Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.

Further, we are called to know the true God in the context of Jesus Christ, whom the Father sent. John 17: 3: And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

In 2 Corinthians 13:14: the Hoy Spirit is noted in the triad: May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

The Supremacy of Jesus in the creation of all life is noted in Colossians 1:15-20 NLT: Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him, God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see—such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together. Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body. He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead. So he is first in everything. For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.

1 Glen Jackman’s philosophic meditations

2 Dr Bruce Ware, Southern Seminary

Demons lurk behind international warfare

Now in 2022, the war in Ukraine brings violent evil to the fore once again and threatens to reshape our global future in ways we can only imagine.

Human selfishness and greed are among the sins that spawn wars: “Where do the wars and where do the conflicts among you come from? Is it not from your passions that make war within your members?” (James 4:1, NASB). Collectively, however, the scale of human suffering at the hands of others also seems to presume a dimension of cosmic evil that defies even our recognition of human depravity.

There are reasons for that. The Book of Daniel speaks not just of a succession of world empires but of the spiritual forces behind them. The angelic prince of Persia delayed an answer to Daniel’s prayers until Michael, Israel’s prince, intervened; the angelic prince of Alexander’s empire would follow (Dan. 10:13, 20–21; 12:1). God had sovereignly allotted times in history for various angels and their empires, but his angelic and human servants continued to work for his purposes until he caused them to prevail.

The Greek translation of Deuteronomy mentions that God appointed angels over the various nations, and Jewish thought increasingly recognized such heavenly rulers and authorities—what later rabbis called angels over the nations. These beings were typically hostile toward God’s people, but in the end, God would give the kingdom to his persevering people.

Because our king, Jesus, has already come, Satan has been defeated. His exaltation corresponds with the angel Michael’s heavenly triumph over the dragon (Rev. 12:7–8).

In explaining this story, scholars often invoke the World War II analogy between D-Day and V-Day. In D-Day, the success of the Normandy invasion decided the outcome of the war, and the defeat of the Nazi regime and its allies was merely a matter of time. Yet until V-Day—the final surrender of the Axis powers—battles continued and casualties mounted.

In the same way, all enemies—including the final one, death itself—will be subdued when Jesus returns (Ps. 110:1; 1 Cor. 15:25–26), but his servants face continuing battles until then.

In Ephesians, Paul emphasizes that Jesus is already enthroned above heavenly rulers and authorities (Eph. 1:20–22) and we are spiritually enthroned with him (Eph. 1:22-23; 2:6). In a letter that heavily underscores the unity between Jews and Gentiles in Christ’s body, this enthronement above angels of nations and empires means that our unity in Christ is greater than all the ethnic and national divisions fomented by such angels. Believers are no longer subject to the prince of this world (Eph. 2:1–3).

For Paul, this triumph over divisions has spiritual warfare ramifications, even for the interpersonal dimensions of our lives. In Ephesians 4, for example, denying the devil an opportunity means having integrity and controlling our anger (Eph. 4:25–27). In Ephesians 6:10–20, it means taking hold of the defensive armour of truth, faith, and righteousness, plus a weapon for invading hostile territory: the mission of the gospel.

The upside is that by faith we look forward to our Lord’s final victory over the world conflicts spawned by evil:

  • He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. (Isaiah 2:4)

  • “. . .in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.” — Daniel 2:44 KJV
  • “Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.” — 1 Thessalonians 4:17-18 ESV
Excerpts from: Mark Johnson, Michael Heiser; and Louis Markos, Feb 26, 2022, Christianity Today

Christ: Our High Priest of a New Covenant

Updated Theological Paper: Christ: High Priest of a New Covenant

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. (Hebrews 4:14 NASB)

This study will bring to light the importance of understanding that the new covenant is not simply an addendum to or a continuum of, the old covenant. We will look at the priesthood of Christ to help us determine the differences, as Yahweh was moving Israel out of a works-based law-keeping, view of life. The previous covenant was strongly bent towards the personal disciplined use of willpower alone. God used the old covenant system, with its sacrificial typology, led by the Mosaic written law, outwardly policed by the managing Levites, as a teaching tool to constrain his people as time progressed towards the first advent of the Messiah. My aim is to help nurture the paradigm shift based on scripture. There are many Christians who do not understand the huge shift in the covenantal progression that occurred at the cross when the law was written on the hearts of believers in Jesus Christ, encouraging Spirit-led motivation unto obedience now based on love for Him; concomitant to having love for others in His church.

Without an awareness of the distinctions of the two uniquely different covenants, many of the important doctrines of the church can be terribly misunderstood, namely: Christ’s Ascension, Christ’s Atonement, Responsible Sanctification, The Call of the Elect, and the Leading of the Teaching Spirit.

The Importance of the Truth of Christ’s High Priesthood

Our enemy, Satan attacks especially the doctrine of the High Priestly ministry of Christ because it is central to Christ’s atoning work on the cross to save mankind by faith, warping it into man-made myths. The Prince of Preachers, Charles Spurgeon, emphasized the importance of adhering to Biblical Truth, doctrines in accord with scripture alone:

We need to bind the girdle of truth more and more tightly around our loins. It is a golden girdle, and so will be our richest ornament, and we greatly need it, for a heart that is not well braced up with the truth as it is in Jesus, and with the fidelity which is wrought of the Spirit, will be easily entangled with the things of this life, and tripped up by the snares of temptation. It is in vain that we possess the Scriptures unless we bind them around us like a girdle, surrounding our entire nature, keeping each part of our character in order, and giving compactness to our whole man. If in heaven Jesus unbinds not the girdle, much less may we upon the earth. Stand, therefore, having your loins girt about with truth. (also see Ephesians 6:14, Isaiah 11:5, Revelation 1:13-14)

The Holy Spirit of Christ must give us Spiritual Eyesight to See

Hebrews 8:1–13 defines Christ’s High Priesthood on an entirely different spiritual plane, a new dimension never understood before the Messiah came to Israel. This occurred in the context of a wholly new, altogether different covenant: “in speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away” (Hebrews 8:13; 10:1).

As we study this with regard to Christ’s sacrifice which opened up a new and living way, we must seek to allow the Spirit to free our perception if it is bound to mirror the old covenant antitype of the initial priesthood of the earthly tabernacle in continuum right into heaven, moreover if it disallows the contradistinction of a new heavenly reality of the new covenant paradigm (Luke 22:20; Matt 26:28; 1 Corinthians 11:25).

If we place Christ as carrying on a similar old covenant priesthood in heaven, bear in mind that he could not be a priest according to the old law’s metaphorical methodology as Jesus was not of the Levitical tribe. The divine strategy to move out of the old covenant symbology into the realized actual spiritual sphere of the Holy Spirit working within the hearts of men and women encompassing the church on earth must operate in a non-symbolic new way.

Now, after the sacrifice on Calvary — a singular and final sacrifice once and for all, Jesus must be recognized as the giver of the Holy Spirit whom he breathed on, imparting the gift of the Spirit to the disciples before his ascension (John 20:22); and the church was blessed with the same receipt of the Holy Spirit after Jesus was glorified at the ascension when He sat down with His Father in heaven (John 7:39). Now we view Jesus as our “God, the Judge of all” and as we pray to him we are to know that, we are coming “to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant” (see Hebrews 12:23-24). And the Holy Spirit became the actualizing agent of the church of all the believers. (Galatians 3:2, 14; Acts 1:8; 2:38; 9:17; 19:2;10:47; John 14:17)

Hebrews, chapter 8, addresses the relationship between the sanctuary (or sphere of high priestly ministry) and the sacrifice. Since Christ now exercises His superior High Priesthood in the heavenly sanctuary (Hebrews 8:1–2) which the Lord set up.  His sacrifice differs from and surpasses Old Testament sacrifices which previously dealt with sin, and which priests offered routinely  in the earthly sanctuary (Hebrews 8:3–6).

Hebrews 8:1 introduces this detailed argument of Hebrews 8:1–10:18. The author’s main point is that we do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven. Psalm 110:1 and Hebrews 4:14-16 support this assertion. Psalm 110:4 assures us that our High Priest replaces the Aaronic high priest. Psalm 110:1 assures us that this superior High Priest has sat down at the right hand of the Father. The rest of Hebrews 8:1 through to Hebrews 10:18 shows the significance of His being at the right hand and the adequacy of the sacrifice which enables Him to be there.1

These chapters demonstrate that, because of His sacrifice and heavenly position, He administers a covenant far superior to the old covenant priesthood which was entirely symbolic. Jesus was not a Levite so he could not enter history classified as one of the Aaronic priesthood who’d carry on the system established by Moses (Hebrews 8:4) installed as a system of law to lead Yahweh’s people through the use of symbols and recurring constraints, to lead them to Christ (Gal 3:24-25).

Carefully note the words, “Since then we do have” an active Lord Jesus Christ as our High Priest in the Presence of the Father in heaven, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (see Hebrews 4:14–16). The epistle describes the greatness of the High Priest that Christians have so that we understand that we are free to enter into the privileges of the kingdom. From Hebrews 8:1 running through Hebrews 10:18, we sharply focus on Christ’s sacrifice. Why dial in on Christ’s sacrifice? Because through it Christ has become the effective High Priest because His past sacrifice enables Him to help us via His advocacy with the Father today.

Hebrews 8:1–2 emphasizes the “location” or magisterial sphere and the authoritative governance that Christ’s High Priestly ministry holds. Predetermined according to Psalm 110:1, God invited Him to sit at His right hand first alluded to in Hebrews 1:3 describing God’s right hand as “the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.”

The description in Hebrews 8:1 is even stronger: the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven. With these additional words, the author of Hebrews emphasizes even more strongly the significance of this place of Christ’s ministry. He underlines the sovereign authority and glory of God the Father in whose presence Christ ministers! Can there be any doubt that this is the sanctuary, and the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, absolutely not by man?

Most good English translations follow the Greek text conjoining the word sanctuary and the true tabernacle, for example, “a minister in the sanctuary and the true tent”. I particularly like the NASB’s correct use of “and” (Hebrews 8:2 NIV; Hebrews 8:2 RSV; Hebrews 8:2 NASB; Hebrews 8:2 ESV).

Where some interpreters get lost

An old school of interpreters believed the writer of Hebrews thought that heaven, where Christ entered, has two parts of which the two parts of the earthly Tabernacle are a copy. The analogical use of language proper to the earthly sanctuary might give the impression that the heavenly sanctuary itself is envisaged as a locality, but we need not suppose that our author thought of it absolutely in local terms.

 1, 2

The outer section of the earthly Tabernacle which Moses constructed was the Holy Place where the priests customarily ministered daily. A second or inner section of this Tabernacle was the Most Holy Place where in some sense God’s Presence dwelt (see Hebrews 9:1–10).

If the writer of Hebrews believed in a two-part heavenly tabernacle, then the sanctuary of this verse must designate the inner of those two parts, the heavenly most holy place where Yahweh God dwells. And if two-part, then it might be reasonable to hold the view that the true tabernacle could be the outer of those two parts — the heavenly holy place through which one must pass to enter the holiest place to be in the presence of Yahweh. Or perhaps consider that the true tabernacle could be a reference to the entire heavenly tabernacle, encompassing both holy place and most holy place. 3  Regardless of how the various schools of thought had viewed the sanctuary: When Christ sat down at the Father’s right hand He entered “heaven itself” to appear in the presence of God (Hebrews 9:24). Therefore it is only logical, that we must see the sanctuary, the true tabernacle as one single reality because Christ immediately ascended into the presence of His Father! Heaven in this view does not have two compartments.

The earthly tabernacle had two compartments indicating symbolically that access to God was not open under the old covenant (see Hebrews 9:6–10). None but the high priest could ever go beyond the first compartment. But now, Christ has opened the way for all to unify with the Father as one (John 17:20-21) through Christ (John 14:6).

The Most Holy Place in relation to The Holy Place

When we look back to the writing of Moses in (Exodus 25:10-22; 26:33–35;37:1-9) we see that only the Most Holy Place contained the ark of the testimony and the mercy seat. The Most Holy Place was separated by a veil from the Holy Place which included the altar of incense (see Exodus 30:1–10) in addition to the lampstand and table (see Exodus 25:23–40). Exodus 26:33 depicts the curtain separated access to all, except the specially qualified high priest (see Leviticus 16: 29-34;14-15), prefiguring that only Christ can open the way to the Presence of God (Hebrews 9:7–14; 10:20).

The Ark of the Testimony/Covenant and the Mercy Seat which is the traditional term for the gold lid on the Ark of the Covenant. Shutterstock sample.

The Most Holy place along with the ark included the mercy seat which symbolized the redemption of Christ. Exodus 25:18–21 revealed that the high priest sprinkled the blood of a sacrificial bull onto the mercy seat as an atonement for the sins of the people of Israel. Today every Christian knows that Jesus Christ is the antitype of the High Priest typified in the old testament’s sacrifices for sin, that His death on the cross was the fulfilment of the most solemn of typified sacrifices on the annual Day of Atonement, for all Israel, extending to all the faithful believers who see this clearly in the Word or God, clearly incontestable when scripture frames this doctrine. Thus when he ascended to heaven Christ Jesus rightly went immediately into the presence of Yahweh, Father God, in the antitypical Most Holy Place as our anchor within the veil.

We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. (Hebrews 6:19-20)

Jesus while praying for the unity of his disciples to be one with Him, as He was one with the Father, it was evident that this would soon occur because He stated: “I am coming to you now” (John 17:13) Jesus taught that He ascended to His Father’s presence, “to my Father”… My God…Your God”! (John 20: 17) I cannot imagine Jesus being relegated to an antechamber awaiting entrance to the presence of Yahweh God! Lenski, a theologian with a brilliant mind, excelling in the Greek language, destroys this viewpoint referencing scripture: By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the holy places is not yet opened as long as the first section is still standing (which is symbolic for the present age). (Hebrews 9:8)

We decline to follow them. In Hebrews 9: 8 the very fact that in the earthly Tabernacle the Holy Place still has its position before the Holy of Holies is pointed out as evidence that the way into the heavenly Holy of Holies has not yet been made manifest. Are we now to believe that such an anteroom still has its position, an eternal position, in front of the Holy of Holies of heaven, and that despite this fact realized post-Calvary, that this anteroom is now not the evidence that it is in v. 8 of Hebrews 9, but rather the opposite, it is the evidence that the way into the heavenly Sanctuary has been made manifest? This anteroom logic surely cannot be the case. If there is an anteroom in heaven as there was in Moses’ Tabernacle, the two antechambers cannot have an opposite significance, to say nothing of this division of heaven apart from any significance regarding the way to the heavenly Holy of Holies. 3 (for cited context)

Who goes to His Father at Christmas, or Thanksgiving, or a long-awaited home visit, and doesn’t aim directly to see him face to face in His presence? Similarly, doesn’t every “good father” long to see His son and embrace him? Even David disconnected from his rebellious son Absalom desperately asked “how is it with young Absolom” and soon wept over the decease of his son: O Absalom my son, my son! (2 Samuel 18:33) And did Yahweh-Father not work united as One with Christ, as the Father, with the Son, via His Spirit, evident in the prayer of Christ for his disciples that the same unity would be allowed for them — to abide in the presence of both the Father and Son together via the Holy Spirit as the portrayal of a church family.

There would be no point in an “outer compartment” in heaven before, at or after Christ’s Ascension after-which He is glorified with the Father for his Atonement work on  the cross. This heavenly sanctuary (Hebrews 8:2) is the place where God dwells, the reality pictured by the Most Holy Place of the earthly Tabernacle. The earthly Tabernacle was only a copy which is why the writer never calls it the true tabernacle. Any antechamber concept destroys the beauty of the anti-type realized now, as it was known doctrinally in Paul’s day and confirmed by the apostles reasoning, especially in the High Priestly prayer of Christ in John 17.

Again, the heavenly sanctuary is the place where God indeed dwells. Its reality clarifies the fact that it was set up by the Lord himself without the agency of man. It is, indeed, equivalent to the God-established permanent city (see Hebrews 11:9–10) or heavenly homeland (Hebrews 11:13–16; 12:22–24). There, God’s people finally find an eternal “rest” in His presence (Hebrews 4:1–11). Christ’s sacrifice belongs to a different dimension, to the realm of the eternal not the temporal. 4

The Corruption of the Anteroom Thesis: In Exodus 27:21 in the old testament period, we see the Lamp inside the veil signifying the presence of Yahweh’s Spirit. When Jesus died the rent curtain signified new access in the New Covenant period from a typical, symbolic presence, obtainable via a corrupt High Priesthood, now directly accessible via the living waters aka living Spirit soon to be reckoned at Pentecost.  Moreover, the Sovereign Father, in union with Christ ascended, would not allow the continuation of the corrupt High Priesthood that crucified Jesus, work out the continuance of the Atonement for him on earth, once ascended. Thus any idea of an anteroom preceding the Most Holy Place continues the corruption that crucified him, doing despite unto the Spirit of Grace.

Christ and His unique Sacrifice (Hebrews 8:3–6)

Hebrews 8:3–5 begins to establish the fact of Christ’s High Priestly ministry in this heavenly sanctuary, especially defining His sacrifice.
If a person is a high priest at all, he has been appointed by God to offer both gifts and sacrifices. The phrase gifts and sacrifices is a comprehensive term that includes the various kinds of Old Testament sacrifices. Offering sacrifice describes, by definition, what it means to be a high priest (see Hebrews 5:1). Christ ministers in the heavenly sanctuary or sphere. If He is a High Priest, and He is, then it is logically necessary for Him, too, to offer something (Hebrews 8:3; 9:12–15; 10:5–10).

The writer of Hebrews clarified that this “something” Christ offers is not the same kind of sacrifice that the Aaronic priests offered! This truth is implied by Hebrews 8:4: If he were on earth, instead of in heaven, he would not be a priest of the Aaronic order at all, much less a high priest, for there are already those who offer the gifts prescribed by the Mosaic law. Christ’s kind of High Priesthood has a sacrifice, but it is a very different kind of sacrifice from that of the Aaronic high priest in the earthly sanctuary.

The necessary difference between their sacrifice and His becomes clearer when we look at the place where the earthly priests serve and its relationship to the heavenly sanctuary of Christ’s service. (Hebrews 8:5) teaches: They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. The New International Version has added the word sanctuary for clarity, but the Greek text is more accurately rendered by the New American Standard Bible: “who serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things.” 5

Note carefully this distinction: The writer did not even call their location a “sanctuary” at all but only a “copy and shadow.” The scriptures do not imply that every piece of furniture and every detail of the earthly Tabernacle was a copy of something in heaven. He is not affirming exact correspondence between the two, but the inferiority of the earthly. The earthly Tabernacle Moses established mirrored the true approach to God in heaven but only in a shadowy way. It was only a symbolic copy.

We must be hearers of the gospel, to have eyes to see that Christ’s sacrifice must be something of a vastly different quality than the sacrifices appropriate for this “copy and shadow.” 6

We are called to the sanctity of our conscience

In the earthly sanctuary, sacrifices were indeed offered, but their efficacy was sadly restricted; they could not bring “perfection” to the worshiper because they did not affect his conscience. Now we see what our author wishes to teach his readers. The really effective barrier to a man or woman’s free access to God is an inward and not a material one; it exists in the conscience. It is only when the conscience is purified by Christ’s love and offering of His life for us that one is set free to approach God without reservation and offer him acceptable service and worship (Hebrews 10:19–25). We transit from the useless sacrificial blood of bulls and goats — useless in this regard. Animal sacrifice and other material ordinances which accompanied it could affect at best a ceremonial and symbolical removal of pollution. 7

For our author, as for Paul, these things were but “a shadow of the things to come” (Colossians 2:17). As regards the “various ablutions,” not only had the high priest to “bathe his body in water” after performing the ritual of the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:24), similar purifications were prescribed for a great variety of actual or ceremonial defilements. Now, however, we are created anew within our hearts to serve the living God in holiness and righteousness, this righteousness imputed to us when we confess our sins, and accept Jesus as Lord (1 John 1:9; Ephesians 4:24; Romans 4:8,24; 2 Corinthians 5:21) We now have confidence that we have salvation, motivating us to come to the Lord (1 John 5:14; Ephesians 3:12; Hebrews 10:19). The good news of Christ activates our consciences (Acts 2:37, 23:1, 24:16; Rom 9:1, 14:22). Our conscience is led by the Spirit (Rom 8: 14) and the understanding of what His atoning blood has done on our behalf gives us the confidence to live for Christ with a clear, purified conscience as testified to us via the Holy Spirit (Gal 4:6; Hebrews 9:14; 10:9-10, 22; 13:18; 2 Corinthians 1:12; 1 Tim 1:9, 3:9; 1 Peter 3:16, 21; 2 Pet 2:19; 1 John 3:21). This is our ministry to live in a clear conscience before the world (2 Corinthians 4:2, 5:11).

In 2 Corinthians 5:21, we learn about Christ’s propitiation on our behalf, and imputation of righteousness, when we are accounted as righteous because God the Father looks to Christ who covers us with His atoning work, having died in our stead:

“He [God] made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” Here we have a double imputation. God imputed our sins to Christ who knew no sin. And God imputed his righteousness to us who had no righteousness of our own. The key phrases for us are “the righteousness of God” and “in Him.” It’s not our righteousness that we get here. It is God’s righteousness. And we get it not because our faith is righteous, but because we are “in Christ.” Faith unites us to Christ. And in Christ, we have an alien righteousness. It is God’s righteousness in Christ. Or you can say it is Christ’s righteousness. He takes our sin. We take his righteousness. 8

We must see that the Old Covenant as symbols for the times past

These purifications undoubtedly had great hygienic value, but when they were given religious value there was always the danger that those who practised them might be tempted to think of religious duty exclusively, or at least excessively, regarding externalities. But all these things were “outward ordinances” (NEB), “regulations for the body” (RSV), not for the conscience, with a temporary and limited validity until the “time of reformation.” By the rendering “reformation” we might understand “reformation” in the sense of “reconstruction”; the coming of Christ involved a complete reshaping of the structure of Israel’s religion. The old covenant was now to give way to the new, the shadow to the substance, the outward and earthly copy to the inward and heavenly reality. 9

The New Covenant Reality: the Living Way in Christ, our High Priest

“Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience” (Hebrews 10:19-22 NASB). Dr. Keil of the renowned Hebrew Commentary Keil–Delitzsch sees the new Holy of Holies of Daniel 9 in the new covenant period after the ascension, to mean the Most Holy Place as the church where Christ is ministering to sanctify His people and make them holy by the indwelling Holy Spirit empowering them to have a clear conscience — to have “hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience”. :

We must refer this sixth statement (to anoint the Most Holy) also to that time of the consummation, and understand it of the establishment of the new Holy of Holies which was shown to the holy seer on Patmos as “the tabernacle of God with men,” in which God will dwell with them, and they shall become His people, and He shall be their God with them (Rev 21:1-3). In this holy city, there is its temple, and the glory of God will lighten it (Rev 21: 22-23). Into it nothing shall enter that defileth or worketh abomination (Rev 21:27), for sin shall then be closed and sealed up; there shall righteousness dwell (2 Pet. 3:13). 10

Our High Priest and our Royal Priesthood

By cooperating responsibly, motivated by grace (2 Peter 3:31), with the Holy Spirit’s sanctifying work in the church which begins when we first believe (John 15:3; 1 Corinthians 1:2, 30, 6:11; 1 John 3:3), we are purified from the sins of the world by the indwelling Spirit (John 17:19; Ephesians 5:26; 2 Corinthians 7:1; 2 Timothy 2:19; James 4:8; 1 Peter 1:15). Our unity with Christ our High Priest, working within our hearts both individually, and collectively together in the church will be our hope until the Lord returns in glory (John 15:5; 1 Thessalonians 5:23).

As Paul noted, our sanctification will be the work of a lifetime of obedience, as we currently engage in spiritual warfare in our life now and progressively onward in our life- journey, as the Lord leads via His Spirit until we meet Him face to face. (1 John 3: 1-3; Philippians 3:13-15). In this way we also as a church can effectively minister to others the sanctifying Word of our Lord in the new covenant order of Melchizedek 11 (Hebrews 5:9-19, 6:19-20; 1 Peter 2:9).

Corroborating study 1: Melchizedek: Divine Priest of Abraham

Corroborating study 2: The Old and New Covenant Distinctions 

1 F. F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Hebrews (New International Commentary on the New Testament)

2 Christ’ High Priesthood at His ascension noted in Hebrews 9:11, arks the symbolism of the curtain which was rent in two upon Christ’s decease (Matt 27.51; Mark 15:38; Luke 23:45), the curtain symbolizing being his rent body, a way confirmed by the Spirit (Rom 7:6; Hebrews 10:20)!

Lenski, R. C. H. (1938). The interpretation of the Epistle to the Hebrews and of the Epistle of James (pp. 290–291). Columbus, OH: Lutheran Book Concern, notes: They suppose that Christ went into the Holy of Holies in heaven (εἰς τὰ ἅγια, v. 12) by first going through something that corresponds to the Holy of the earthly Tabernacle of Moses. This anteroom they find in “the greater and more complete σκηνή or Tabernacle, not handmade, that is, not of this creation.”

But what can this anteroom be? The idea that it is the body or the human nature of Christ is now commonly rejected and certainly has no support in 10:20. Since this σκηνή is “not of this creation” as the writer himself says, the created heavens cannot be referred to as they are referred to in 4:14: “having passed through the (created) heavens” in his ascension. So these commentators think that heaven itself, the uncreated place where God dwells, is divided into two parts that correspond to the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies of the Tabernacle of the wilderness. They think that the writer is exalting this heavenly anteroom “through” which Jesus passed in order to reach the heavenly Holy of Holies that was above the anteroom of Moses’ Tabernacle.

We decline to follow them. In Hebrews 9: 8 the very fact that in the earthly Tabernacle the Holy Place still has its position before the Holy of Holies is pointed out as evidence that the way into the heavenly Holy of Holies has not yet been made manifest. Are we now to believe that such an anteroom still has its position, an eternal position, in front of the Holy of Holies of heaven, and that despite this fact this anteroom is now not the evidence that it is in v. 8 but rather the opposite, evidence that the way into the heavenly Sanctuary has been made manifest? This surely cannot be the case. If there is an anteroom in heaven as there is in Moses’ Tabernacle, the two antechambers cannot have an opposite significance, to say nothing of this division of heaven apart from any significance regarding the way to the heavenly Holy of Holies.

4 Cockerill, G. L. (1998). Hebrews: a Bible commentary in the Wesleyan tradition (p. 167). Indianapolis, IN Wesleyan Publishing House.

5 Ibid

6 Ibid

7 F. F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Hebrews (New International Commentary on the New Testament)

8 John Piper, Desiring God

9 F. F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Hebrews (New International Commentary on the New Testament

10 Commentaries on the Book of Daniel, Vol II, trans. by Thomas Myers (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1948 [reprint]), p 349

11 The order of Melchizedek was symbolic of the new covenant order that Jesus would institute. The mystery of the gospel relates so well to the life of Abraham, a man of faith who trusted God’s Word to lead him (and view Melchizedek as a High Priest who entered into his life in his time of duress).

 

 

 

 

The Gospel of God the Father

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:14-15)

The gospel of God (Mark 1:14–15) If the intratrinitarian love of God is a crucial theme within our text, we also need to draw together the wider themes related to the Messiah’s mission and how they illuminate the love of God. 1

In verse Mark 1:14 we are told Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news [gospel] of God. This wonderful phrase shows how Mark links the Gospel interchangeably to God or Jesus Christ (Mark 1: 1). In other words, the story of Jesus described above is very good news about God.

What is this good news? Perhaps I can explain it this way. There is a tension running through the prologue of Mark, and Mark 1:11 in particular, between the transcendence and immanence of God. Transcendence means that God is utterly distinct from his creation. Immanence captures how God is near and present, intimately involved within the world. Both are, in different ways, sources of very good news.

First, transcendence. In verse 11 God is in heaven, his ‘dwelling place: a different dimension of reality from the physical universe. It is only when heaven is ‘split’ open that the voice of God is heard. Mark’s description gives readers a glimpse of the glorious ‘otherness’ of almighty God. In other words, ‘behind the scenes’ God is reigning.

As the Son literally steps out of the Jordan in faith he is affirmed in his identity and mission. The Father is with him and anoints him with his Spirit. The presence of Father and Spirit remain with him in all the darkness to come. If the transcendent love of the Father and the empowering of the Spirit are good news for Jesus, they are also good news for Christians today. Obviously the parallel is not exact: Jesus has a unique relationship with his Father. He alone is the anointed king and Messiah. But there is encouragement here for us nonetheless. Jesus announces that The time has come … the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news! (Mark 1:15).

As Acts later makes clear, God has now poured out his Spirit for all who respond in faith and repentance to the good news of the resurrected Son (e.g. Acts 2:38). Therefore, whatever trials we face in our daily lives, the ‘otherness’ of our transcendent God is a source of hope and comfort. Whether we are wrestling with cancer, broken relationships, grief, spiritual opposition, injustice or long-term unemployment, we can be encouraged that this world is not all there is: it is the gospel of the transcendent God that will have the last word.

Second, God is also immanent (here with us). God loves Israel passionately. He is also deeply angered by sin. Neither is he passive. In Mark the dramatic arrival of Israel’s Messiah is God’s (utterly unexpected) means by which to heal the story of our broken world by God’s fulfilled promise to Israel – he is working within history to bring forgiveness and hope, via a king establishing his kingdom here on earth and who is powerfully present in the world through his Spirit.

Most astonishingly of all, he through the incarnation and mission of his beloved Son, God shows us his utter commitment to this broken world. Jesus becomes vulnerable to hunger and temptation in the desert. Ultimately, as a human saviour, he allows himself to be vulnerable even to suffering and death. God has, in Christ, and through the Spirit, ‘come down’ to us.

The Father is well pleased Mark 1:11 to send his Son on such a mission because his endgame is blessing. Charles Wesley’s great words capture perfectly this paradox of the limitless transcendent love of God being embodied in his Son:

Love divine, all loves excelling, joy of heaven, to earth come down, fix in us thy humble dwelling, all thy faithful mercies crown. Jesus, thou art all compassion, pure, unbounded love thou art; visit us with thy salvation; enter every trembling heart.

All this tells us astonishing good news about the God we worship: Father, Son and Spirit. Mark, does not spell this out, but invites his readers to think of ‘God’ through a new lens. He is at once totally, transcendant ‘other’ and, at the same time, immanently ‘present’ in the beloved Son whose mission leads to the cross.

Richard Hays suggests that ‘if we have rightly followed Mark’s narrative clues about the identity of the one on the cross’, the most appropriate response is ‘reticent fear and trembling’—where ‘we stand before the mystery in silence, to acknowledge the limitation of our understanding, and to wonder’. We would be wise to take this into account as we live our lives here on earth in what is actually a probabtionary period before the Second Advent of Jesus Christ who will ultimenty judge each of us according to our ways, words and deeds.

Learn about God’s Love; The New Covenant Manifesto of God’s Love

1 The insight into the Trinity by Patrick Mitchell is highly recommended,:The Message of Love: The Only Thing That Counts, ed. Derek Tidball, The Bible Speaks Today (London: Inter-Varsity Press, 2019), 101–103.

The Relationship of the Father with the Son

 Theology Series on the  Trinity

Our first study will look at the relationship of the Father and the Son, to see both a distinction and equality. We will also see both the difference and the identity. (John 1:1) Further studies will bring in the relationship of the Spirit in co-unity with the Father and the Son.

The definition of the Trinity: God’s whole and undivided essence belong equally, eternally, simultaneously, and fully to each of the three Persons of the Godhead, so that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit each is fully God – not three gods — while each is his own personal expression, in the relationship, role and activity, of the one eternal and undivided divine essence.

Each Person of the Godhead is equal in essence as each possesses the identically same undivided divine nature, both of whom distinctly express a personal expression of that one undivided divine nature.  The distinguishing character of each Person of the Godhead from each other Person is not the divine nature, being identically the same, possessing oneness with an undivided divine nature, expressing the full and eternal possession of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Possessing equality of essence, the distinguishing characteristic from each other’s personage is the particular roles and authority in relation to each other.

In light of both the equality of essence yet differentiation of relationships in authority and roles that exist among the Persons of the Godhead, we consider now just how those relationships and roles are expressed within the Trinity of Persons.

The Father as Supreme in Position and Authority among the Persons of the God-head

  • Psalm 2:7-9: “I will surely tell of the decree of the Lord:  He said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.  ‘Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, And the very ends of the earth as Your possession. ‘You shall break them with a rod of iron, You shall shatter them like earthenware.’”
  • Matthew 6:9-10: “Pray, then, in this way:  ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. ‘Your kingdom come.  Your will be done,  On earth as it is in heaven.’”
  • 1 Corinthians 15:28:  When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all.
  • Ephesians 1:3 – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him…
  • Philippians 2:9-11: For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth,  and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

The Father is the Architect, the Designer of Creation, and of Redemption

  • Ephesians 1:9-12-9: He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.

The Father is the Giver of Every Good and Perfect Gift 

Scripture emphasizes the wisdom, the goodness, the care, and the thoroughness with which the Father exercises his authority using His absolute authority always to bring about what is best.

  • James 1:17: Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.
  • Romans 8:31-32-31: What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?

The Father often Provides and Works Through the Son and Spirit

  • Ephesians 1:3-14: The Father is to be praised, but his gifts to us come – every one of them – through the Son and Spirit.
  • Col 1:16: For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.
  • John 1:1-4:  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.

The Father in Relation to the Son 

The Father’s plan and purpose is to place his Son in the lime-light directing attention and honour to The Son, as the Son seeks, in all he does, to glorify his Father.

The Son is under the headship or authority of the Father

  • 1 Corinthians 11:3: But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.
  • Hebrews 1:1-2: God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son [incarnation], whom He appointed heir of all things [eternity future], through whom also He made the world [eternity past].

The Son’s submission to the Father during His incarnation and earthly mission 

The Son’s perfect, loving, and joyous obedience to the Father is always evidenced by his life when incarnated here on earth as a man. He never sinned!  In all that he did, his submission to the Father was in absolute obedience without compromise.

  • John 8:28-29: So Jesus said, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me. “And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him.”

This is typical of how Jesus spoke over and over. In John 4, when the disciples asked Jesus why he was not interested in eating, Jesus said, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work” (John 4:34).

The Son’s Submission to the Father in eternity past

Forty times in John’s gospel, Jesus mentions the fact that the Father has sent him to accomplish the mission he is here to do.  Some might be understood as a “sending” that occurred during the incarnation itself, but most refer to his being sent (or coming forth) from heaven.

  • John 3:16-17-16: For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.
  • John 6:38: “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”
  • John 8:42: “. . . I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me.”
  • John 10:36: “…do you say of Him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?
  • John 1:3; 1 Cor 8:6; Col 1:16, Heb 1:1-3 the Father creates “by” or “through” the Son (the “Word”)
  • Eph 1:9-11: indicates that the Father ordained that everything in creation be placed in subjection to his Son, both as some are elected and redeemed in Christ (Eph 1:4-6), and as all others are brought to final judgment through Christ (John 5:22-29). See Rev 5:9 for stunning display of both (see below for elaboration)

The Son obeyed the Father in heaven, as the Father’s instrument of creation, and as sent from heaven do the will of his Father.  The Son submitted to the Father, then, in eternity past.

The Son’s submission to the Father in eternity future

  • 1 Cor 15:25-28: For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death. For He has put all things in subjection under His feet. But when He says, “All things are put in subjection,” it is evident that He is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him. When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all.
  • Rev 1: The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John.

The Love Relationship between the Son and the Father

  • John 14:3: I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father [italics added].
  • John 15:9-10:As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.  If you keep my commandments you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love [italics added].
  • Jesus works in unity with the Father. It is the Father’s Gospel for mankind – the Good News must be seen through the lens of a united act of both the Father and Son, and Spirit.

1 Indebted Professor Bruce Ware’s teaching, who helped me to understand the unity of the Trinitarian Godhead. I attempted to edit his finest ideas.

You can live in the Spirit of holiness now

The LORD himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.” (Exodus 14:14)

When Moses directed the Israelites to enter the promised land, he first sent spies to determine the layout of the land and potential enemy strength. Most of the spies expressed fear of the giants they saw in the land, referring to themselves in a demeaning note comparative to the giants as grasshoppers. They were downright scared puny! Moreover, they poisoned the minds of the Israelites to fear entering the land of promise – wherefrom milk and honey and giant grapes were brought back by the spies evidencing the fertility of the land.

With the majority upset, siding with the fear-mongering report, the Jews were doomed not to obey their marching orders from Moses, who took his lead from Yahweh God.

The minority report of two men, Caleb and Joshua, was overwhelmingly positive – let’s move forward into the promised land — we can overcome the giants — we have God on our side!  But it was not enough to open the deafened ears of the majority. For their stubbornness, which God viewed as a disobedient lack of trust in His ability to conquer and overcome, they would never cross the Jordan and enter the land. That entire generation of complainers would die right at their point of a call to radically act and be rewarded with the blessings promised and a bountiful land they could call home.

Significantly, Caleb and Joshua saw what all the other spies saw (Numbers 14:6). They saw grapes, and they saw the giants.  Nor did they dispute or deny that they were grasshoppers, but with the eye of faith, they ‘saw’ something else.  They were more conscious of God than they were of the giants, the grasshoppers, and even the grapes.  Caleb’s initial charge to the people was unequivocal: ‘Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it’ (Numbers 13:30). 1

The Israelites had just crossed the Red Sea and had seen how God destroyed the Egyptian army. Yet, they grumbled and defied the timing ordained by God to move into a place where with His help, it would have been impossible to fail if they’d demonstrated obedient trust.

This offers an object lesson typified by Joshua and Caleb’s clear-sighted trust and obedience in contrast with the whining populace of the then-current generation, who magnified the fear-mongering resistance to trusting God alone for victory.

Subsequently, entire corporate Israel – irrespective of Joshua and Caleb’s faithfulness – was adjourned by Yahweh to roam the desert wastelands until death. Their children would eventually enter 40 years later. For those fearful of failure in their walk with the Lord, we must learn a lesson to take courage, equip our minds and advance in the will of the Lord unto righteous living in His favour.  When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. (Psalm 56:3–4 ESV)

Those doomed to stay in one place are a type of Christians who never grasp the promise of God, that they can overcome the enemy, Satan and his demons, by the indwelling Spirit of God and live obedient and holy sanctified lives. Those who overcome will be prepared to meet the Lord with all his holy angels in the final reaping judgment at the second advent of Jesus Christ.

Many have experienced failure, often allowing Satan to tempt them to focus on their spiritual weaknesses. Here is an important scripture you can contemplate to encourage you to stand decisively like Joshua and Caleb, holding to the promises and doctrine taught by the prophets and the apostles. The apostle Peter made it clear that we are to adhere insightfully to the promises of God to overcome Satan’s temptations living obedient, holy lives.  His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. (2 Peter 1:3–4 ESV)

The prophet Daniel speaks of the necessity of heeding a serious call to submit to the Lord and live an obedient and holy life. (Daniel 12:10 NAS): Many will be purged, purified and refined, but the wicked will act wickedly; and none of the wicked will understand, but those who have insight will understand. 

1 A Radical Comprehensive Call to Holiness, Joel R. Beeke and Michael P.V. Barrett