The “Bourne Again” Supremacy

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It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices [the blood of goats and calves], but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices [the blood of Christ] than these. For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; He entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. Nor did He enter heaven to offer Himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now He has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of Himself.”  (Hebrews 9:23–26, NIV 1984).

My Musings – The blood of goats and calves, were only temporary coverings of sin that had to be repeated time and time again.  They had no power to permanently remove the sin.  It took a better sacrifice.  It took the supreme (superior to all others) sacrifice.  The blood of God’s only Son. The “once for all” sacrifice “to do away with sin,” not just cover it. It must be offensive to God, for man to assert that there are other paths to salvation apart from His Son.  If there were, His Son’s sacrifice would not be supreme.  In fact, it would not have even been necessary.  But there is only one path.

My Advice – Don’t settle for solution other than the supreme solution — The “Bourne” Again Supremacy.

Sensational Grace

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Then Abraham approached him [the LORD] and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked?”  (Genesis 18:23, NIV 1984).

Then he [Abraham] said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?” He [the LORD} answered, “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.”  (Ge 18:32, NIV 1984).

The two men [angels] said to Lot, “Do you have anyone else here—sons-in-law, sons or daughters, or anyone else in the city who belongs to you? Get them out of here, because we are going to destroy this place. The outcry to the LORD against its people is so great that he has sent us to destroy it.”  (Genesis 19:12–13, NIV 1984).

With the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished.” When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the LORD was merciful to them.  (Genesis 19:15–16, NIV 1984).

“Look, here is a town [Zoar] near enough to run to, and it is small. Let me [Lot] flee to it—it is very small, isn’t it? Then my life will be spared.” He said to him, “Very well, I [the angel] will grant this request too; I will not overthrow the town you speak of. But flee there quickly, because I cannot do anything until you reach it.”  (Genesis 19:19–22, NIV 1984).

My Musings – The story of Sodom and Gomorrah is mostly remembered for the fierce judgment of God because “their sin [was] so grievous.”  I don’t intend to debate the nature of their wickedness, but rather the underlying message of God’s mercy and grace that is often overlooked.  Perhaps because that message is not quite as “sensational” and makes for a less interesting tale.  In reality, it is both quite sensational (causing great public excitement) and interesting (arousing curiosity or catching the attention).

It starts with Abraham “negotiating” with the LORD.  “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked?”  (Genesis 18:23, NIV 1984).  Beginning with “fifty righteous,” Abraham “wears” the LORD down to agree not to destroy the cities “for the sake of ten.”  The story is not about Abraham’s astute bargaining skills, but rather lavishness of God’s grace and mercy.  God always has His remnant, and the lengths He will go “for the sake of the [elect]” is staggering.

In the end, there were only four.  God did destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, a righteous judgment. Yet He did not “sweep away the [four] righteous with the wicked.”  An undeserving expression of His abundant grace.  For did they really measure up to His standard of righteousness?

His grace did not end there. When they hesitated, in the face of imminent destruction no less, “the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the LORD was merciful to them.” Even sparing another city (Zoar) marked for destruction (“I will not overthrow the town you speak of“).

God’s grace and mercy was extended despite the captivation of Lot to the wickedness that surrounded him.  For example:

• He got close to the wickedness (“pitched his tents near Sodom” — Genesis 13:12).

• He moved into the midst of wickedness (“Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city” — Genesis 19:1).

• He hesitated leaving the circle of wickedness (“When [Lot] hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city” — Genesis 19:16).

• He desired to stay near the wickedness (“here is a town [Zoar] near enough to run to, and it is small. Let me flee to it” — Genesis 19:19).

My Advice – Let’s not cheapen God’s grace and mercy by getting close to, moving in to, hanging on to or staying near to worldliness.  God is long-suffering, but His “Spirit will not contend with man forever.” (Genesis 6:3, NIV 1984).

 

No Little Things

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Don’t you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough?  (1 Corinthians 5:6, NIV 1984).

For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.  (James 2:10, NIV 1984).

My Musings – There are two principles being conveyed in these two passages.  There are no little sins, and little sins lead to growing sins.   “Sometimes when I consider what tremendous consequences come from little things, I am tempted to think, there are no little things.”  — Bruce Barton.

The oxygen tanks on Apollo 13 exploded because the heater thermostatic switches were overlooked when the rest of the system was upgraded to a higher voltage, causing them to overheat and ignite in the oxygen rich environment.   The space shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after launch because the O-ring seals used in the joint between the two lower segments of the right Solid Rocket Motor were not designed to handle the unusually cold conditions that existed at this launch.  Little things, big consequences.

  • Just One Point – It only took the one sin in the Garden that led to the fall of all mankind.
  • A Little Yeast – It only took one glance at Bathsheba bathing that led to the larger sins of adultery and murder.

We often think it’s such a little thing and violate the principle of James 2:10.  Or, just this once and violate the principle of 1 Corinthians 5:6.  Jesus sent His Son to die on the cross for the little sins as much the big sins.  There was no sin so small He did not have to die for and no sin so great that He would not die for.  Jesus sent the Holy Spirit  to dwell within us to and provide the conviction necessary to make sure the yeast of sin does not work through the whole batch of dough.

My Advice – There are no little things.

 

Born (Again) Free

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It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.  (Galatians 5:1, NIV 1974).

You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature.  (Galatians 5:13, NIV 1984).

My Musings – Those who are in Christ (saved by grace not merit) have been freed from the “yoke of slavery” to measure up to the law.  Nevertheless, this does not give us carte blanche to “indulge the sinful nature.”  Rather, as we grow in Christ, we choose (exercise of freedom) to live our lives in a manner that is pleasing to the Lord instead of pleasing the flesh.  It is a mark of maturity not a sign of slavery.

My Advice – Stand firm in the faith, freed from the law but choosing to be obedient nonetheless.

 

Forgiven Little, Forgiven Much

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Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.”  (Luke 7:44–47, NIV 1984).

My Musings – How grateful are we really for God’s forgiveness of our sins?  How grateful should we be?  One sin is enough to separate us from a Holy God for all eternity.  No matter how “small” our forgiven sins are, we should be eternally grateful.

My Advice – Pause for a moment to thank God for your salvation (if you are saved).  If you are not saved, show your gratitude that your sins are not too great to be forgiven, by asking Christ into your heart.

Receipt Required

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For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son.” (John 3:16a, NIV 1984).

Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.”   (Hebrews 9:22, NIV 1984).

He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.”  (Isaiah 53:5, 10, NIV 1984).

Because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.” (Hebrews 7:24–25, 27 NIV 1984).

Whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16b, NIV 1984).

My Musings – Focus on these two words – “so loved.”  Two definitions of so are:

  • To such a great extent – That He would sacrifice His only Son to save us.
  • And for this reason – He sent His Son into the world.

So, such a small word, such a large meaning.

Christ had to come into the word, to become flesh, because  “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.”  Only a blood sacrifice will do.  But not just any blood.  The blood of God.

Pierced for our transgressions,” not His.  He was without sin.  He was God in the flesh, who became sin on our behalf.  God willingly crushed Him and caused Him to suffer, exacting the price required to exonerate us and bring us peace with God.

But death could not keep Him in the grave.  God is greater our sin and greater than the death sin brought with it.  He rose from the dead to live forever.  He had already been in existence forever, for He had no beginning.  From Creator, to Savior to High Priest.  A priest is a mediatory agent.  And Jesus is “unlike the other high priests.”  He does not need to keep returning to the Father with sacrifice after sacrifice.  When “He offered Himself,” no other sacrifice was required.  Because so (there’s that word again) “worthy was the Lamb that was slain” that the penalty for all of mankind’s sin past, present and future was paid for.

My Advice – For all of mankind means that “whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  Do you believe?  Your sins have been paid for, but you have to show the “receipt.”

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Want to become a Christian? See my blog series “The Born Again Experience.”
Want a closer walk with Christ? See my blog series “Got Spiritual Milk?”

Not One, Not Any

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No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”  (1 Corinthians 10:13, NIV 1984).

My Musings – “No.”  A small word with a big meaning (not any, not one).  You think the temptations you face are peculiar to you, that they are more difficult to deny yourself than what others face.  In reality they are quite common.  You might think that the temptation is unbearable, but God promises that it is. Not only that, He promises a way out.

The problem is, we often choose to ignore the way out when (not if) we are tempted.  We choose to give in.  The key word here is choice.

My Advice – As much for myself (maybe more so) as for others – choose wisely.

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Want to become a Christian? See my blog series “The Born Again Experience.”
Want a closer walk with Christ? See my blog series “Got Spiritual Milk?”