Closer to God and His dear ones too!

How do we relate to God? “The other” staying somewhere very far from us? What does Bible has to say about how close we can be to God? How does this closeness force us to love our dear ones? Let us see from Hebrewes 10.

Bible text: Hebrews 10: 19-25  (click here to read the passage)

The author is now brininging out the implications of the doctrine he has been narrating from the end of 4th chapter. He has explained in detail about how great a High Priest was Jesus and how unique and powerful  the sacrifice of Lord Jesus Christ was. Let us see one by one the implications of the doctrine of Christ’s sacrifice as explained by the author of Hebrews.

Before explaining the implication the author gives a short summary of some of the doctrines explained before in verses 19-21:

  • We have confidence to enter the Holy Places by the blood of Jesus.
  • This is the new and living way opened for us through his flesh
  • We have a great High Priest over the house of God.

Implications:

  • Let us draw near with a true heart (22)
  • Let us draw near in full assurance of  faith (22)
  • Let us draw near with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience (22)
  • Let us draw near with our bodies washed with pure water (22)
  • Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope (23)
  • Let  us not waver as the Lord who promised is faithful (23)
  • Let us consider how we have to stir up one another to love and good works (24)
  • Let us not neglect meeting together (25)
  • Let us encourage one another as the Day  of God’s judgement is drawing near (25)

The sacrificial death of Jesus calls us to draw near to God. Relationship and closeness with God  are some of the very positive effects of Christ’s sacrifice. This closeness in turn affects our behaviour for good. Paul exhorts his readers to maintain a close relationship with Christ.What a great privilege for us sinners to be close with a Holy God!

This sacrifice individuually encourages us to clean ourselves from the evil conscience. The implication of this has to be seen in the way we approach our jobs, studies and so on. Do we extend the implication of Christ’s sacrifice beyond our personal level to the way we approach our workplace or spheres of influence. 24X7 we have to think with a renewed conscience. Not alone when we think of our personal life but also in all spheres of life.

This sacrifice of Jesus also lets us to draw closer to God with full assurance. Our past sins can not have any say. Because of Christ’s sacrifice we can establish a very closer relationship with God.

We also need to have a solid faith on our hope that we will not perish for ever rather our sins are forgiven, our lives transformed and we will live for ever and have a life of eternal joy. We have to hold on to this hope all the more as the one who promised this hope is faithful. Our meeting together as fellowship should enable us to hold firm to this hope.

Also in relation to this sacrifice, we have to be responsible to one another in encouraging each other. What Christ’s sacrifice has accomplished has to be practiced not alone individually. We are responsibile to do good works and loving one another. Fellowship gatherings have to be aimed at this. Also fellowship gatherings help us from wandering away. The believers working together in one particular institution (say a college or hospital or business firm or so on) should encourage one other to do good work for the institution. Also a student has to help his peer in doing good work in his institution. Also he is responsible to his fellow believer to help him overcome the challenges posed by the ideology of his institution and help him to establish a close relationship with God. He is also responsible to enable him to hold on to his faith inspite of all the odds he will have to face.

  1. What all can we do so that we can be closer to him?
  2. How can the meeting together at workplace encourage one another to stand firm in faith? How can these meeting enable us to foster a model love relationship within the fellowship members which serve as a good model and example for all those who notice us?
  3. How do we keep our full assurance of faith as we keep waiting for theLord’s day
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The only perfect Sacrifice

We all look for perfection everywhere. Don’t we? Why do we complain “this person is not following the que” or “the barber could have been more careful while cutting my hair”,  “the train is late by 10 minutes”, “the salt in this food is little less”, etc. All these show how we long for perfection. We have a great Lord who has offered the perfect sacrifice. Let us see this from Hebrews 10.

Bible text: Hebrew 10:1-18 (click here to read the passage)

The  author in this chapter continues his thesis on how the sacrifice of Christ is greater than the old testament sacrifices. Let us see his thesis as to how this sacrifice is greater.

OT sacrifices are nothing but shadow!
1. Law can not make anyone perfect as sacrifices are offered continually every year
2. Law is a shadow of good things to come.
3. A perfect sacrifice will cease to be offered once the purpose is accomplished
4. Once truly clean, there will not be any consciousness of sin.
5. It is impossible for the blood of goats or other animals to take away sin.

Uniqueness of Christ’s sacrifice:
1. Christ sacrifice is a willful sacrifice
2. Christ sacrifice is the fulfillment of what has been prophesied in the OT scriptures
3. We are sanctified by the will of Jesus to offer him as sacrifice
4. Once for all we have been sanctified of our sin with the sacrifice of Lord Jesus.
5. Christ has offered a single sacrifice for all times.
6. Christ accomplished what he wanted through his Sacrifice and sat at the right hand of God.
7. Christ once for all perfected for all time.
8. Now as a covenant God will put His law in our hearts and mind
9. God will never remember our sins anymore
10. Since there is already forgiveness there is no need for  any more offering for sin.

The good news for us is that no more we have to perform any sacrifice or do anything for our sins to be forgiven. Anything we do for forgiveness of sin will definitely fall short of what God expects.

Also Lord Jesus’s sacrifice forgives all our sins. This enables us to live a life free of guilt in all three tenses.

Surprising thing is Christ’s sacrifice will put His law in our minds and hearts. It is our responsibility to discern his law. God has certain expectation and standard. This he puts as a covenant in the person who accepts His sacrifice. Let us take effort to discern his law not alone for our personal life but in all spheres.

Questions for reflection:
1. How is this passage compelling us to proclaim the greatest sacrifice of Christ to the sacrificing world?
2. How does the fact that Christ forgives enables us to live a life free of guilt?
3. What implication does the fact that Christ  has put His law in our heart and mind has in our approach towards our studies, research or employment. How can we discern God’s law for our academics and apply them in our fields?

Transformed conscience!

Many a time we hear a phrase “does your conscience allow this”. Yes, conscience plays an important part in our day to day life. Have you ever thought many a times our conscience needs transformation? How does we get this transformation? Let us see from Hebrews 9.

Bible Text: Hebrews 9 (click here to read the text)

In verses 1 to 5 the author explains in short the structure of the old testament temple. Then he takes this as a theme and  explains a greater reality. Let us see some of the greater realities as explained in this chapter.

1. Holy place was not yet open as the first section of tabernacle was there.
2. Gifts and sacrifice offered can not perfect the conscience of the worshipper.

Greater realities
1. Jesus Christ is the High Priest of the good things
2. Christ entered once for all in the Holy places
3. Secured eternal redumption by His own Holy Blood
4. Chrit through the eternal Spirit offered Himself
5. He was without blemish which means the sacrifice was also without blemish
6. THIS SACRIFICE HAS A GREATER POWER TO PURIFY OUR CONSCIENCE FROM DEAD WORKS
7. Christ is the mediator of this commandment
8. With this sacrifice whoever called may recieve the eternal inheritance which was promised.
9. This sacrifice redeems us from the transgression committed under the first law.
10. Death of Christ is very essential for us to receive His blessings.
      a) It has made a blameless sacrifice
      b) Only after death the will comes to effect
11. The second covenant is inaugurated by the precious blood of Jesus
12. Now our sins are forgiven and we are perfected by His sacrifice.
13. Christ will come again to save us who eagerly wait for Him.

Sacrifice of Jesus has the power to transform our conscience. Today we live in a world with everyone having corrupted conscience. Even the ones who accept Jesus many times live with a corrupted conscience and exhibit dead works. But let us look to the sacrifice and transform our conscience. Pornography, jealous, lack of integrity all can be transformed by this powerful sacrifice. Many times we look to Jesus’ sacrifice only as a saving activity from our past sins. But it has even more greater implication for living a life of new covenant.

1. What are the areas that are in me which exhibit dead works?
2. What encouragement does the sacrifice of God gives to you in terms of transforming your conscience?
3. How do we become researchers or students or employees of this new covenant who exhibit a transformed conscience in
our field of academics or employment?

Amazing facts about the greatest High priest

All of us are quiet excited about great personalities and would like to know about their uniqueness. Today let us see some uniqueness about the greatest High Priest

Bible Text: Hebrews 7:11-28 (click here to read the text)

Context:

Chapter 7 of Hebrews talk about Jesus as the greatest High priest on contrast with descendants of Aron. In old testament the office of the High Priest is given only to the descendants of Aron.

As the book of Hebrews is written to Jews, the writer uses a lot of allusions from old testament. Jesus is presented with the help of literary device “type” by making allusions to Old testament characters. In this chapter we find Melchizedek portrayed as type of Jesus.

Melchizedek gets mentioned only two times in  Old testament. The author of Hebrews uses these quotes to establish the supremacy of Christ as the greatest High priest. Earlier in chapter 7 Melchizedek is established as the priest prior to Aaron. Now Christ is presented as the High Priest of this order of Melchizedek.

Short exposition:

Christ the high priest in the order of Melchizedek:

Having established that the existing priesthood of Aron’s order can not attain perfection, the author presented the need of a new order.

Some implications of this priesthood of Christ in new order:
A. It is perfect
B. Presents a new law
C. priest on the basis of indestructible life and not on the basis of descendants
D. Priest forever not conditioned by death
E. Focus shift from commandment to HOPE
F. Possibility to draw closer to God
G. Guarantee of better covenant as this priesthood is established by an oath by God
H. One permanent and continuous priest forever
I. Save everyone
J. Sinless and Holy High Priest
K. High priest exalted above heaven

Conclusion:

To the original Jewish audience this passage would have been a great encouragement to put their trust in Lord Jesus. High priest was, for them, someone with ultimate authority. But Christ being more than a High Priest would have been an amazing good news for them.

What implication does this have for us?
Even today people have different people as high priest for them. Knowingly or unknowingly people put a lot of trust in them. Some times it may be pastors, sometimes it may be other magicians or priests of other religious order or some people with special gifts. As jews depended on the High Priest to perform sacrifice for them, today many depend on many of the above mentioned people to have their different works done or prayers heard. But let us remind ourselves that we have a direct access to Christ our intercessor and greatest High Priest. There is no need for us to roam to thousand places. We can directly access the greatest High Priest. Man should not be our ultimate foucs but the Perfect High Priest

This also calls for a more deep relationship with God through Christ. We can get in touch with Him any time. We have the privilege to have hope as our focus and live a better life. We live not by fear of breaking commandment but trusting in the new hope that enables us to live a holy life.

Also this new order breaks the hierarchy of importance presented by Aaron’s order of priesthood but makes everyone equal in the sight of God.

Questions for reflection:
1. People go around looking for great priests, pastors, etc to get their work done. How can we communicate the good news of all sufficient supreme intercessor and High Priest to the searching world?
2. How much importance do we give to the hope that is in Christ? How can we make our life more focused bases on the hope we have?

Suffer. Did I?

“which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me”.
2 Tim 1 12

God has called us and has given us the responsibility to be the Herald of His Gospel. Paul’s understanding of God and the Gospel help him to boldly proclaim Jesus and suffer for Him. As I was meditating through this passage I thought it would be good if I think How God enabled me to suffer in a very limited way because this calling. This forces me to thank God for His Grace and the amazing way He guided me.
1. First thing God helped me to undergo is to leave my mother and sister in God’s care I I stepped out of home. It was not easy for me or them. But God is faithful and amazingly lead them. Here rather than a suffering for family it was a blessing for them.
2. Leaving the comfort of my own place and live like a stranger in a strange place is something God enabled me to God. That helped me to develop myself also. I still remember lack of good fellowship, own food and so on. But God did help me to get adjusted here.
3. I did have to face a lack of identity in many instances. My relatives and friends talk about high fi jobs, earning , etc. But yes God made me realize it is He from whom I get my identify and not the profession I hold
4. I think earning a high salary and proving myself was another challenge I faced becuase of this call. But I m definitely better off. God did not made me in want of anything. He also enabled me to opt for a simple life style and gave me a heart of giving than accumulating.
4. Choice of marriage was another thing. I can not just marry anyone but whose vision is in consistent with th Calling of God. This left me with the best life partner who indeed is the best for me
5. Being in an unknown place I had to strive for learning new language, culture and food habits. It was definitely difficult. But it developed me in a wholesome manner. I could get a broad perspective and be one with a varied group of people.
6. Fear was also another thing constantly I had to battle. But God was simply amazing. It always gave an opportunity to trust in the almighty and Almighty alone.

Even though I think I suffered little for God, in fact I did not suffer but the suffering kind of experience I had lead me to develop me.
Thank God for the Gospel and the great calling He gave.

Dear reader the verse enabled me to have a recap of my life. It gave me a lot of reasons to praise Him. Why don’t you also have a recap of your life as per the above verse?