Category: Hebrews



2 Corinthians 6:2, “For [God] says, ‘In an acceptable time I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.’ Behold, now is the acceptable time! Behold now is the day of salvation.” (LITV)

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Paul here quotes from Isaiah 49:8. It would certainly be beneficial to us to refer to this verse in Isaiah, and the previous one, so that we might understand what the acceptable time means.

Isaiah 49:7-8, “The LORD, the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel, says to the One who is despised and rejected by the nations, to the One who is the servant of rulers: ‘Kings will stand at attention when you pass by. Princes will also bow low because of the LORD, the faithful one, the Holy One of Israel, Who has chosen You. At just the right time, I will respond to you. On the day of salvation I will help you. I will protect you and give you to the people as My covenant with them. Through You I will reestablish the land of Israel and assign it to its own people again.”

This chapter in Isaiah is a prelude, foreshadowing or prophecy of what would eventually come to pass. Israel would be in state of enmity against God and His Holy Servant Jesus Christ. Verse 7 gives us insight into this strife, which is extant on man’s part alone, but despite the presence of unbelief and outright hostility against God and God’s Holy One, God sought it fit to impart grace upon mankind.

I would ask the reader to reflect upon the sublimity of these facts, that at one of the most hostile times in history towards God and His Holy One, that God somehow, in accordance with a grace and love far surpassing that of human-kind, purposed a time of His favor through that same Holy One, Jesus Christ. As William MacDonald mentions, the “day of salvation” mentioned, as it pertains to Jesus, “refers to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

"Resurrection of Christ," by Carl Heinrich Bloch. c. 1875

“Resurrection of Christ,” by Carl Heinrich Bloch. c. 1875

Therefore, this “time of favor” can be said to be situated between the resurrection and Christ’s return. Philip E. Hughes, of the NIV Study Bible, says:

“[This is] an affirmation that is true in a general sense of all God’s saving acts in the history of His people, but that finds its particular fulfillment in this present age of grace between the two comings of Christ.” –Philip E. Hughes, NIV Study Bible

Hughes correctly points out that throughout history there have been manifest times of God’s favor. However, there is an innovative originality concerning the particular age we live in now, where this hallowed salvation is made available to all mankind. Yet, we say this in a general sense, for there is also an individualistic sense in which, by Paul’s words, is not only suggested this blessed grace or salvation, but also it serves as a warning. For we are told that it is a time of God’s favor, but one necessary condition of time is that it passes. The direct consequent, then, is that this time of “acceptability” will pass. Henceforth, we understand the urgency of Paul’s message, that ‘now is the day of salvation.’

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The NIV Study Bible points this out when it states:

“[‘Now’] underscores the urgency of the divine invitation.” –Philip E. Hughes, NIV Study Bible

Time is somewhat of a relative term as it is used here. We should realize that time can mean, this moment, today, this week, fifty years from now, a hundred, or, indeed, eons from now. Of course, the verse applies its message for today. Paul does this in probably the full understanding that mankind, when it comes to salvation and holiness are the greatest of procrastinators. We tend to put off these things like obedience and faith because we fool ourselves into thinking that we will always have tomorrow, the next day, or the next, and so on, to come under the grace of our Lord. However, nobody is guaranteed tomorrow, nor ten minutes from now. This strikes me as a rather prideful assertion and delusional assurance, for all evidence points to the contrary. Rather than putting these things off, let us today put on the full armor of God, with its helmet of salvation, shield of faith, shoes to spread the gospel of peace, breastplate of righteousness and belt of truth. Let us put on the shining armor of right living, as the Scriptures tells us:

Romans 13:12, “The night is almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here. So remove your dark deeds like dirty clothes, and put on the shining armor of right living.”

Ephesians 6:11, “Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.”

Ephesians 6:13-14, “Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness.”

1 Thessalonians 5:8, “But let us who live in the light be clearheaded, protected by the armor of faith and love, and wearing as our helmet the confidence of our salvation.”

Let us again consider the general and specific application regarding this “time of salvation” as it pertains to both mankind as a whole (general) and the individual (specific). We find the generality of the time of God’s favor to pertain to all man in this age between the appearances of Christ. It is in this age we are offered salvation by and through faith (in which obedience becomes an integral part) in Jesus Christ. Yet, as we have said, since it is mentioned in the context of time, it will not carry on indefinitely. Rather, this time supposes an end, so, let us run in haste and endurance that race marked out before us, while we still exist within this state or time, for we do not know the time when it will come to an abrupt end.

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Here is our chance. Here is our opportunity. Let no man suppose that this opportunity will always be there, for if it was the case the Scriptures would not emphasize us coming to the Lord, or obeying His statues, “as long as it is still today.” The Scriptures say:

Hebrews 3:7-8, “That is why the Holy Spirit says, ‘Today when you hear His voice, don’t harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled, when they tested Me in the wilderness.’”

Hebrews 3:13, “You must warn each other every day, while it is still ‘today,’ so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God.”

Hebrews 4:7, “So God set another time for entering His rest, and that time is today. God announced this through David much later in the words already quoted: ‘Today when you hear His voice, don’t harden your hearts.’”

Psalm 69:13, “But I pray to you, O LORD, in the time of Your favor, in your great love, O God, answer me with your sure salvation.”

Isaiah 55:6, “Seek the LORD while He may be found; call on Him while He is near.”

Psalm 32:6, “Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to You while You may be found; surely when the mighty waters rise, they will not reach Him.”

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No, we must run for the goal, which is Christ Jesus, in all due haste. How I cringe when I hear Christians suggest by their words that they can always ask for forgiveness later. How I cringe when I realize I too have done this very thing. Now I am not one to put limits on the grace of the Lord, for this is beyond my scope of knowledge, but this attitude speaks loudly in a resounding tone of arrogance and disrespectful presuppositions. For it supposes God will always forgive us and that He is always willing to forgive. Frightfully enough, the Scriptures, though Jesus tells us if we seek we shall find (Matthew 7:7), Proverbs makes it clear:

Proverbs 1:24-28, “I called you so often, but you wouldn’t come. I reached out to you, but you paid no attention. You ignored My advice and rejected the correction I offered. So I will laugh when you are in trouble! I will mock you when disaster overtakes you—when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster engulfs you like a cyclone, and anguish and distress overwhelm you. When they cry for help, I will not answer. Though they anxiously search for Me, they will not find Me.”

Therefore, let us not suppose we are always fit to be found under the grace of the Lord our God. However, those of us who have been forgiven for our past sins let us rejoice and take a firm hold of the faith. For the Lord has granted us favor, and not by our own works, but by His grace which transcends all understanding of man.

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“For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace. 15What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means!” -Romans 6:14-15

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Once a subject comes to the Lord, and evil’s grasp over a person begins to weaken, the enemy reaches into his well worn bag of tricks to pullout a biggie. Those who come to the cross know that they are forgiven for their sins, and the newly created, not yet having moved onto solid food (Hebrews 5:11-14), may be approached with the temptation that Christ’s blood, which grants righteousness through faith, gives one freedom in sin. God’s perfect word addresses this very thing. Yet, even as I mentioned , that this is a common temptation when first coming to the Lord and knowing only the elementary truths, it can, in fact, afflict even those who have moved onto a more mature diet.

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As Romans 6:15 urges us not to sin while we are covered with grace, The Book of Hebrews reiterates the danger of using Christ’s blood as an excuse for iniquity:

“If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27but only a fearful expectation of judgment and raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.” -Hebrews 10:26-27

In Exodus 34:7, there are three kinds of sin that are mentioned. There are those sins, which result from the habitual acts and thoughts of the human nature, more or less, because of our “natural” faulty faculties, by which we fall short of the Glory of God. For instance, catching ourselves cursing at someone in traffic. I will refer to these sins as a “breach.” Though I may give these kinds of sin different terms, this is strictly for the purposes of differentiation, and by no means necessarily reflect how the Lord may judge these sins, which is not for me to say. These are just general categories that seem to be implicit in Scripture.

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The second category, and addressed throughout this entry, is iniquity. Iniquity is willful sin in the sight of God. The willful sins are of greater consequence. We know this, not only because of the dangers represented through God’s word, but as those who have engaged in willful sin under grace (as I have) should be able to testify, the conviction by the Spirit concerning such sin weighs more heavily than does the conviction of a breach.

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Thirdly, and yet first in terms of severity, is “transgression,” or willful rebellion. To rebel against the ways of God, is to rebel against the nature of God, and in such sin there is no forgiveness, for there is no repentance. True repentance is not merely the asking for the forgiveness of sin, but turning and walking away from it.

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The similarities of the last two examples reside in the fact that they are both willful. Yet, in the case of transgression, it is a willful rebellion against God. Between iniquity and rebellion there is a subtle difference, in which the degree of the rebellion is emphasized. In iniquity, while one does certainly rebel in the very act of the willful sin, and in fact all sin is disobedience, the rebellion in the heart may not be to the degree of transgression. The latter is often strove for in a permanent sense, that the transgressor is not willing to give all to God, or even allow God to work in that area of sin.

As with some breaches, iniquity too can be habitual by nature. This is usually due to our indulgences in that sin, either prior to coming to Christ, or those times when people fall away and rebel willingly, as I too am guilty of. So for such people like myself, where is the hope? Does it exist for those like me who, by my own admission, have rebelled and fallen away (more than once) having both iniquity and transgression represented in my life? It is somewhat distressing personally to read verses like the one contained in Hebrews. Is there any hope if one is guilty of iniquity?

By the grace of God, I am here to tell you, absolutely! There is still hope, for as I stated earlier, in regards to the convictions of the Spirit, which are manifest when those sins that reside in the scope of iniquity are committed, the conviction is a lot, “heavier.” By the mere conviction alone, we see the Holy Spirit still communicating with us and weighing a burden of conviction upon our hearts. Taking this into account, and knowing that the Holy Spirit is, “a guarantee of what is to come,” (2 Corinthians 1:22) we know by the Word itself we may still be under grace.

Yet, let us not undermine the danger in such intentional sin and disobedience. As with Samson, the Lord eventually left him, and as the Scriptures tell us, he was not even aware that this was the case, which is the biggest tragedy. Thus, when iniquity becomes so prevalent in our lives, we may not know when we have moved from under grace to under wrath. To which point this occurs is not for me to say, nor would I, lest by doing so I may cause a stumbling block for others, for man has a tendency to push the limits of what is right, edging as close as he can before crossing the ethical boundaries he perceives, or that which have been set by the Lord. This kind of knowledge is reserved for the Lord and is between the Lord and the trespasser. The fact is, with a willful progression and steadfastness in iniquity, Hebrews suggest that by engaging in this with abandon, there is no sacrifice to cover the sin!

However, even to those who have at one time in their life, “trampled on the blood of Christ,” or fallen away, you have hope abounding! This is because of our gracious, merciful God, to whom belongs all the glory! Even Samson, though the Lord left him, at his end called on the Lord, and by doing so, God gave him the strength to destroy the temple. In addition, as the parable of the prodigal son testifies, there is much rejoicing in heaven when a former son, or daughter, returns to the Lord. In fact, more so than that of the righteous.

Our Lord is gracious and loving, but He warns us sternly not to take advantage of the grace He has offered us. It has been wrought with the blood, pain, suffering and humiliation experienced by His one and only Son, our savior, Jesus Christ. Shall we choose to hammer the nails deeper into Christ by continuing to sin, knowing full well what Christ endured on our behalf?

The three types of sin brought up earlier can be recovered by grace with a repentant humble heart. Yet, man in his imperfection still continues to sin, but Christ’s blood has both covered the sins of the past, and of the future. The warning is powerful, as it should be, for as some will testify, including myself, with the indulgence of iniquity you by your own accord have departed from under the cleansing blood of Christ. If this is the case, and I pray it isn’t, then you may find yourself much like Samson, with the Lord leaving you and you being unaware. Woe to the man or woman who in such a state is perishing.


“If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” -Romans 10:9

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In a previous entry (see my entry concerning Romans 1:12, “On The Correlation Between Faith and Love”), I had discussed some of the like attributes between both love and faith. Yet, when we consider our faith in the Lord, we find love to be a necessary condition for our faith in Jesus Christ. Without this love, our relationship with the Lord cannot develop and will eventually be negated by the doubt that we as believers are sometimes confronted and assaulted with, for our faith cannot be steadfast without loves inclusion in the relationship. We can obviously see this when it comes to loving our brethren, how much more should it be applicable to our relationship with the Lord, who is love? The Bible makes it perfectly clear how love and faith are the prerequisites to developing a deeper friendship with the Lord (see my entry concerning John 15:15, “On Having a Friendship With The Lord”). 1 John 4:19 states (see my entry, “On Love’s First Cause”):

“We love because He first loved us.” -1 John 4:19

Throughout my life, many times have I heard the phrase, “God is love.” From this verse in 1 John, it is more than apparent that this is truth, for it links our love with His. Though God has many attributes, including discipline, these all have their basis in love. Even concerning His wrath, He takes no pleasure in the punishment of the ungodly, but God cannot co-inhabit with evil. As Psalms 5:4 tells us, “With you the wicked cannot dwell.” In the same way two forms of matter cannot occupy the space, so too, the wicked cannot dwell with perfect holiness. This, is in fact, a contradiction, and thereby we need the justification that was manifest and offered upon Calvary. What God does take pleasure in, however, is the justification of the wicked by His Son! This is not only backed up in Scripture, but if it wasn’t true, Christ would not have came and died upon such a cruel instrument of death in the first place. Yet, the cross became His glory! If this did not appease God’s justice and have the ability to, not only change a sinners being, but also clothe the depraved with a garment of righteousness, then the Trinity would have never been separated. Yet, since it has alleviated God’s justice, we are granted the opportunity to come to the Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, in faith. By this very thing, which should be evident in our hearts, and through which springs all godly obedience, we are saved. Thereby, we next find ourselves in The Book of John, at one of the most famous verses in all of Scripture, Chapter 3, Verses 16 and 17:

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.”

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Regarding God’s discipline, it is also based in love. Hebrews 12:7-13 likens God to a loving worldly father (indeed when looking at family proper, or rather, a proper family, we find much in the family structure symbolizes God’s nature):

“Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as His children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 8If you are not disciplined – and everyone undergoes discipline – then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. 9Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! 10They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in His holiness. 11No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. 12Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13‘Make level paths for your feet,’ so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.”

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Notice that Verse 8 clearly expresses John 3:16, for if everyone, by love, undergoes discipline, then it follows, “that God so loved the world,” is indeed true. God’s love is absolutely perfect and in complete accordance with His nature. Before our existence in the world came to pass, He already loved us and had our justification planned out in Christ. We can come to the Lord in the first place, as sinners, due to this preexisting love. If it exists prior, on a temporal plain where we didn’t even exist yet, how much more important is this mutual love when we do exist and come to the Lord by faith? Our faith, among other things, is a recognition of that love, and by it we love God reciprocally as the Book of Deuteronomy commands:

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.” -Deuteronomy 6:5-6

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It is this same faith and love in His Son, by which we are granted the Holy Spirit. To those who have eyes, let them understand, for due to the corruption of this world, the following may be hard to contemplate, or uncomfortable to focus on. However, it is important. As man and women become one flesh in love, likewise do we become one with the Lord by His love and sacrifice. He dwells within us, as the Spirit of Holiness, and if we are in the Spirit as well, love is perfectly manifest and we, by the Spirit, cannot do anything apart from love. If our actions are ones that don’t speak to the love of God in either word or example, it is of the self. As 1 Corinthians says:

“Therefore I tell you that no one is speaking by the Spirit of God says, ‘Jesus be cursed,’ and no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit.” -1 Corinthians 12:3

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Though this love was manifest in perfection by the Son, in both His death and resurrection, it existed prior to Christ’s first coming and was in the Law, which according to the Gospels can be summed up with just two commandments:

“‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law? 37Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38This is the first commandment. 39And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” -Matthew 22:36-40

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The Law, revealed by God unto Moses, shows explicitly the attributes and nature of God. Hence, we can only conclude the Law is good, just as our Lord is good. In the same way, because God is love, the Law, by necessity, follows suit. Therefore, since we know love to be such an intrinsic part of God, our faith too should resonate with love for our Lord. In addition, the love of God is boundless and this being the case, our love can always become manifest greater in our lives. Though we can love too little, we cannot love enough. This week, let us pray that the Lord may extend the boundaries of love we have set by the desires of the self and our own comfort, that we may better serve both the Lord and man. Let us pray that we may glorify Him even further than we have, through not just words, but rather by example. Amen.

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“Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid.” -Proverbs 12:1

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Like it or not, and sometimes we certainly don’t, discipline is an important aspect of life that everyone goes through at one time or another. Whether it be from God, our parents, our boss, friends, or dare I say it, even the law, if we approach discipline with the proper reverence, it can culminate in a blessing rather than a burden. This point is echoed, rather pioneered, elsewhere in the scriptures, when it tells us:

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

It is not uncommon for man, in his pride, to look at discipline with bitterness, but Proverbs tells us we are viewing it in the wrong way, especially when the discipline comes from the Lord. We are to humbly accept this discipline, for the discipline of the Lord is perfect, good, done for our own good, and motivated by His love for us (Hebrews 12:5-8). Thus, look to God’s discipline as a means of moving you forward, closer to our Lord, instead of letting it become a hindrance to your walk, which can become manifest due to prideful bitterness. The Lord keeps those who are His and calls upon them. His intention is not to push you away due to discipline. As Hebrews tells us, discipline isn’t exactly pleasant, but its an instrument used by the Lord, in order that we may share in his holiness.
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Pride is a major stumbling block to looking at discipline and correction in such ways as the Bible urges. Man, even on an individual level, enjoys feeling that they are perfect and beyond reproach. Thus, when one is corrected in a misconception, then its not to uncommon for the one being corrected to respond in anger, not out of logic, but out of desperation when their pride is pierced. Though remember, there is always the chance you may try to rebuke someone and find out your actually the one needing to be corrected. This happens to me frequently.

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When one corrects you, realize that you have an opportunity. An opportunity to gain wisdom and knowledge. These opportunities are indispensable, for if you are in the wrong, realize with a proper reaction, you can be made right, and such knowledge may come to serve you and the Lord in the future.

Do not let your pride negate the correction before you, for to be corrected is a blessing that is beyond measure. Our pride, however, at times lets us not accept the correction, and this can be dangerous considering our personal growth in the Lord. Take your correction with praise and realize that another piece of knowledge or wisdom has entered your repertoire, and for that thanks should be given! If you have trouble accepting correction, realize and identify it, and pray to our Lord that you may develop a heart of humbleness.

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If you want to be stupid, then don’t accept any correction and blame your discipline on everyone else. Could you imagine how things would be if nobody accepted any correction? Your mind would be utterly blank and any argumentation posed against you could only be answered with anger and hate. We are not called to these things. Bless those that have corrected you, and praise the Lord that He has sent correction your way. With that I pray you would grow into a man/woman of God, with the wisdom, knowledge, and discernment to be able to lead a multitude to our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

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"Jesus Walks on Water," by Ivan Aivazovsky. oil on canvas, c. 1888


“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” -Hebrews 13:8

"Christ on the Sea of Galilee," by Tintoretto. oil on canvas, c. 1575-1580

As I have mentioned before, and indeed will probably mention again, Hebrews remains one of my favorite Books in the Bible. Chapter 12 especially was instrumental at leading me to the Lord. This particular verse I didn’t stumble upon until later, after the initial encounter, but it certainly added to my realization that God was real and not some made up thing, though I honestly thought for a while if I was putting it all in my head myself and I struggled with this, but when resolution came it pushed all doubts out of my mind. This verse is beautiful in form, in simplicity, and in meaning. I will tell briefly about some of my testimony and why this verse is so important to me.

For a time, during a particularly dark period in my life, I cried out to God for deliverance. He answered me not in just resolving my troubles, but He also spoke to me. As much as I would like to hear from Him again in like manner, to this day He hasn’t spoke to me the way He did in those dark days. I don’t know why, though I am sure He still does, but not in the same “hearing” sense.

Let me explain a little what I mean by “hearing.” When the Lord speaks to you in words its usually not a booming voice that comes out of the sky. It is a booming voice in your heart, mind a spirit. In fact, looking back I am not so sure that it wasn’t audible, but it was powerful. At the risk of sounding like I am some esoteric mystic, its really hard to describe unless it has happened to you. At any rate, in one word spoken from God I felt that I would be delivered, and I truly was by His grace. What was spoken and in what context I will save for another time, but I will say it was directly linked with Hebrews chapter 12.

The second time the Lord spoke to me was a time when I finally understood what Christ has done. It humbles one to a Godly sorrow, and it was in the midst of this sorrow, and me asking why, stating that I wasn’t worth the torture He suffered and it should have been me  instead, something only a Christian can understand (it is commonplace within the faith), that He answered: “I would do it yesterday, today and tomorrow.”

"Christ on The Cross," detail from the center panel of the Isenheim Alterpeice, by Matthias Grunewald. oil on panel, c. 1512-1515

At this time I was far from being a biblical scholar, and still am, but the Word was absolutely foreign to me, which is my shame because I did go to a Christian school, but my conversion was long after. When I eventually did come across this verse sometime later, I almost fell out of my chair, for the Scripture and what God spoke to me (I made sure to write it down) are in essence, identical. As far as I knew then and know now, I had no previous knowledge of this verse, I was never the sort to engage in any sort of memorization except the best places to go party.

There are a couple other times God spoke to me, but the last time He did, it was a little less positive. He indicated that due to a situation I was willingly walking into that, if I continued, I would, “suffer.” Indeed I did, and backslid heavily. Yet, the Lord by His grace has called me to Him once more. Looking back, its seems so amazing that I am tempted to think perhaps I was nuts, or somehow arranging past circumstances, either consciously or subconsciously in a way to make it appear I was in touch with some hard to reach mystical realm. However, my volumes of journals testify to the reality of the occurrences, the words given to me, and there are even witnesses that can testify to it as well. In full disclosure to the reader, I am actually quite hesitant about sharing all of that and posting it to complete strangers. In fact, I feel a little sick to my stomach due to the influence of my old friend cowardice.

With that foreknowledge, let’s turn to the verse. In life everything can at times feel like it is out to get us. The trust we place on people and possessions is so powerful that when we are let down, when we find our bank accounts lacking, and when people we thought would be there aren’t, our hearts get hardened, so that the resulting pain may never be felt again. We feel in essence that a hardened heart will act like a giant Tylenol that will elevate the pain in our lives and spirit. It doesn’t, for out of that only comes self-destruction and despair.

Christ went through the most ghastly experience, by being tortured and mercilessly put to death on the cross, but even in His suffering He did not harden His heart against man, nor does He even regret what He went through! In fact, He would do it tomorrow if it were required, but as He said, “it is finished.”


Christ is a truth we can rely on when others fail us. This doesn’t mean that we will always get what we want or that we will be spared pain, rather realize that because of what Christ has done pain isn’t eternal for those who believe upon Him and we will someday receive a gift that is beyond description and beyond what we could even dream to want, salvation in eternity with our Lord and all those who we know in Jesus Christ.

The banks may fail, but we can always bank on Christ. His blood is still flowing over us, cleansing us of the tarnish of sin and iniquity, just as it was decreed at the beginning and as it will last forever. We won’t have absolute happiness until we get there friends and cross the finish line, but in our silly “little” suffering, we can take heart that the Lord is there to comfort and guide us. We have a God that cares for us, is interested in the little things we go through day after day, and is eager to hear from us. Such a Lord no other can boast, but we can boast in Christ, who is the same yesterday, today and forever, and who would do it all over again yesterday, today and tomorrow.

"Christ on The Cross," by Albrecht Altdorfer. c. 1520


“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” -Hebrews 12:1

Verse one begins one of my favorite chapters in all of scripture, Hebrews Chapter 12. Despite the subject matter of discipline and judgement, which can have the tendency to make people cringe, especially while they live in sin, it is one of the most beautiful passages in all the bible. Of course, that’s a personal conclusion and not made from any independent study. It could have something to do with the fact that this chapter is the one that led me to the Lord. Thus, it has a deep personal significance for me.

Nobody knows without a doubt who wrote Hebrews, for the writer does not identify himself. Though it was accredited to Paul in the past, he seems an unlikely candidate, due to the style of writing differing from his. For instance, Paul identifies himself in his letters, but Hebrews is void of any such attribution. Yet, there are a couple candidates, and it appears that whoever the writer of Hebrews was, was indeed a close friend of Paul’s. Verse one suggests this by presenting the allegory of an athlete, which Paul was a frequent user of. Paul’s metaphors found in his other books and the allegory used by Hebrews’ author are so similar, it seems logical that the writer knew Paul intimately. Scholars have narrowed authorship down to two possibilities, Apollos or Barnabas. Whoever it was, they wrote a book equal to that of Paul and of vast importance for any Christian. Not only does Chapter 12 remain one of my favorite sections of scripture, Hebrews remains my favorite book outside the gospels. I recommend it to anyone engaged in an in depth bible study.

"St. Jerome in His Study," by Albrecht Duerer. engraving c. 1514

Verse one brings to mind the familiar image of an athlete. The cloud of witnesses, refers to great holy men of the past who gave all for their love of the Lord. Their faith led them to obedience and by that obedience, the Lord’s will became known on earth. These witnesses prepared the way for the Lord Jesus Christ so that by and through Him we may be reconciled unto God.

Sir Isaac Newton and earlier John of Salisbury brought into the common lexicon the phrase, “standing on the shoulders of giants.” What is meant by this is that progress is made by carrying on those things pioneered by what and who has came before. It is no different in Christianity. The Kingdom of God is not meant to be stagnant, but rather to be forwarded by those who belong to Christ Jesus. Thus, because we are made aware of this by the Spirit and the Word, we are called to remove those hindrances and stumbling blocks that prevent us from doing our part in moving the Kingdom forward.

Sir Isaac Newton

Christ opened up the Kingdom to and for us that we may be admitted by faith rather than by works and He being human for a season, can readily identify with man, for He was tempted by sin as we all are, yet remained in perfect obedience to the Father. In fact, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to say He must have been tempted beyond all men, due to Satan’s awareness of His true nature.

We have a merciful God who doesn’t just reside in the heavens, but became man, and experienced all the grotesqueness of sin. At the same time He underwent the struggle we all encounter, but was victorious. Amazing as it is, we have a God who knows what it’s like to fight against sin and thus verses that hint at how easily sin overtakes us are not infrequent in the scripture. This should give us hope and we should praise God for this, that He can identify with even the most lowly of us.

Again, the athlete allegory is mentioned at the close of the verse. “Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Christians aren’t called to just skate by going to church just on Sunday’s and Easter, but to take an active role in the mission God has set out for them. This requires effort and perseverance, for it will not always be easy, for sometimes we will be ahead and other times behind. Yet, we are called to keep our eyes on the goal, and the prize that we will receive when we cross that finish line.

In life, we often convince ourselves that we have to run from something, like a bad circumstance or sin, but we rarely tell ourselves that we need to run towards something. In life, you are always running towards something. Don’t focus on what you are running from, for when running a race, a participant is discouraged from looking back, lest they slow down and stumble. Keep you eyes forward along the track that the Lord has set out for you and the magnificent finish line that marks the end, for it is there we will gather with Christ and all the other racers in the glorious winners circle that is promised to those who run and finish the race.


“Through Him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for His name’s sake.” -Romans 1:5

One of the paradoxes frequently discussed amongst those in the Christian faith is the relationship between faith and obedience. We find the Bible does place importance on both faith and deeds, though it also tells us our deeds are meaningless, in that we cannot acquire salvation from them and of our own accord.

We, as Christians, more often than not understand this conceptually, for it is a cornerstone of our faith in Christ. As it is said, if it was possible to become righteous because of deeds, then Christ need not have come in the first place (See my note on Galatians 2:21, “On Righteousness by The Law”).

It’s unfortunate, but even us Christians, me included, continue to lose our way, and each and everyone of us can think of a time where we have backslid spiritually. When I read this verse I feel it is not only important for me, but all the Body of Christ. In fact, I have dealt with this very thing recently and perhaps anyone reading this can relate.

I had backslid quite a bit, from what I would consider the most pious time in my life. The scripture tells us of the sin that so easily entangles (See my note on Hebrews 12:1, “On Running The Race”), and more or less, I threw myself headlong into that thorny hedge of intertwined sin and darkness.

The thorns pierced deep into my bone, and once more I was caught in a life of sin. My heart, however, as corrupt as it was, ached for God to pull me out of that hedge. I knew the Lord would love nothing more, for I had a very pious relationship with Him in the past. So I desired to come back to the relationship I once had with Him, and thought I could get that by obeying His statutes. Imagine my disappointment when I found it was doing no good for my relationship with Him, nor was it pulling me out of sin, for I found the sin still abundant in my life despite my disgust with it.


It took me a while, but I eventually was shown I had it all backwards. Even the most taught of us in the faith, make this very mistake. We find ourselves in a place, much like where I was at, and we think to have a relationship with the Lord, we must clean up to approach Him. Yet as Paul touches on here, it is faith that brings us to the Lord and by that relationship, it’s manifest in our deeds.

Christ Himself said that if we love Him, we will obey Him (See my note on John 14:23, “On Love: A Motive For Obedience”). This doesn’t necessarily mean that every sin negates the love we have for Him, though it does show the imperfection of our love, but rather, that loving Him is a necessary condition for obedience. Thus, despite my shame of backsliding, I took some simple steps to improve my relationship with the Lord. I made the assumption He still wanted to hear from me, I confessed, prayed and spent time in the word.


Honestly, it was rather uncomfortable at first. Really uncomfortable. Yet, the relationship has seemed to grow abundantly stronger in a short amount of time, simply because I looked to God, not obedience, to bring me closer. This is a lesson that is clear when we come to Christ, but somehow it gets lost among even the most devout of us. We don’t need to become perfect to come to the Lord or to have a relationship with Him.

So, if you have sin in your life that is tearing you apart from God, realize you have been apart from God already, hence the disobedience. Yet, take heart if you recognize it, for that is the Almighty Himself calling you back. Humble yourself and strive to develop your relationship with God and the obedience in which the Christian finds peace and contentment will surely follow.

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