In the book of Hebrews we read of Jesus’ work of intercession:
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 (Hebrews 7:25).
In the book of Romans we read of the Holy Spirit’s work of intercession:
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God (Romans 8:26-27).
Now this is a topic that deserves a lot more attention than I am going to be able to give it today, but how amazing is that two persons of the Triune God are making intercession on the behalf of Christians! Jesus’ intercession is for our justification. The marks in his hands and feet are what give me the ability to draw near to God through him. While I may now be counted righteous before God, I am not actually righteous. So, the Holy Spirit intercedes for me as I bring my prayers and my needs to God. I do not know what to pray, I do not know how to pray and I do not know the will of God. The Holy Spirit takes care of that and intercedes for me.
Jesus and the Holy Spirit interceding for me! It is their works of intercession that give me assurance of my salvation and confidence to draw near to the throne of grace. And is yet another of the countless reasons I will give thanks to the Triune God forever.
I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever. Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable (Psalm 145:1-3).
For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens (Hebrews 7:26).
Many religions have high priests, but only Christianity has a high priest who is perfectly holy, innocent of any and all wrong doing, unstained by the sinful nature we inherit from Adam, separated from sinners by his righteous life, and exalted above everything in heaven and on earth. To him, and him alone, we must look for our salvation.
Two Sundays ago, my pastor was continuing his sermon series working through the Gospel of Mark. The text for his sermon was from the end of Mark chapter 4:
On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” (Mark 4:35-41).
It is easy to understand the great fear of the disciples as their little boat takes on water amid this great storm. I would be terrified too! All are saved, of course, when Jesus is awoken and miraculously calms the storm with just a word. Hurrah!
What I had never noticed before in this passage was the disciples’ response after Jesus calmed the storm—”they were filled with great fear.” They were filled with more fear after Jesus calmed the storm than they were in the midst of the great storm when they thought they would perish at the bottom of the sea. We might naturally expect these men to collapse in relief at the passing of the storm. Instead they are filled with great fear? Why? Because they recognized that the real power was not in the storm, but in the man standing before them. They were standing in a little boat, face-to-face, with God Himself. In the Old Testament, the prophet Isaiah also came face-to-face with God in a vision. Isaiah’s response was the same as those disciples in that little fishing boat; FEAR. Capital F, capital E, capital A, capital R:
“Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”(Isaiah 6:5).
So, what do you FEAR?
He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power (Hebrews 1:3).
Jesus is described here in the ESV translation as having the “exact imprint” of God’s nature. Other translation render this as the “exact representation” (NASB) or “express image” (KJV), but the idea is the same. Now, this book of Hebrews was written to, well naturally, Hebrew people. That is, people who had come from an Old Testament Jewish background. And how does Old Testament define the nature of God?
- Eternal – “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God” (Psalm 90:2).
- All Powerful – “Ah, Lord GOD! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you” (Jeremiah 32:17).
- All Knowing – “Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure” (Psalm 147:5).
- Omnipresent – “Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the LORD. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the LORD” (Jeremiah 23:24).
- Unchanging – “For I the LORD do not change” (Malachi 3:6).
This is only a partial list of the characteristics of God’s nature. If you omit any of these characteristics, you have grossly neglected describing the one true God of the universe. And if Jesus did not possess any of these attributes, then he would in no way be the “exact representation” of his nature as described in Hebrews chapter 1. But Jesus did possess all those characteristics and all the others I did not list, because he was truly God in flesh. And this was to fulfill what had been foretold by God through the prophet Isaiah long before Jesus’ birth:
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6).
The Mighty God came down in the form of a child to save his people from their sins.
Everywhere I turn lately it seems I am confronted with the writings of another “Christian” who proclaims that everyone is going to heaven because Jesus loves everyone just the way they are. Apparently this must be the blond-haired, blue-eyed, non-judgmental surfer Jesus. It is clearly not the Jesus described in the Bible. For example, Hebrews chapter 1 borrows liberally from the Old Testament in its description of the real, Biblical Jesus:
“Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”? (Hebrews 1:13).
If Jesus loves everyone just the way they are, then he cannot really have enemies. Therefore, he must be making his friends a footstool for his feet. I really love my wife. I wonder if she would like to be a footstool for my feet? Yeah, probably not. This imagery of Jesus as the conquering king is incompatible with the surfer Jesus. Also, earlier in Hebrews, Jesus is said to hate wickedness:
You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness (Hebrews 1:9).
It is because Jesus hates the wickedness of sin that he will judge. And we do not have to look very hard in this sinful world to see people who are clearly the enemies of Christ Jesus. Yet, so many people want to try to convince you that Jesus loves everyone unconditionally; even his most vocal enemies. There is no reasonable way to align the teachings of these “Christian” universalists with the clear teachings of the book of Hebrews or the rest of the Bible. They have crafted a false god whom they may call Jesus, but he is not the true Jesus of the Bible.
The demons know of the real Jesus and shudder! Why? Because they are his enemies and know his power and of the judgment to come. Read your Bible for yourself and learn about the real Jesus, before it is too late lest you die as one of his enemies.
Most Christians are familiar with the passage in Acts 4:11-12 in which we are told that Jesus is the only way we can be saved:
This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:11-12).
It is interesting that the Old Testament records a passage written about 700 years prior to Jesus in which we are taught that the LORD (literally Yahweh) is our only Savior:
You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me. I, I am the LORD, and besides me there is no savior (Isaiah 43:10-11).
Sine we know that Jesus is also fully God, these passages are easy to harmonize. It is also a great reminder that God’s ultimate plan of redemption for his people has never changed. The depth of the revelation culminated in the coming of Christ Jesus, but the plan was clear from the beginning.
Filed under God, Salvation
The little book of Jude packs quite a wallop into its 25 verses. While most of it is focused on calling out false teachers, there was one little word that really caught my eye when looking through it this week:
Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe (ESV, Jude 1:5).
Can you guess which word it is? I know that every preschooler at church would guess the word because they shout it out as the answer to 90% of all questions – JESUS! Take a look at that verse above again. We usually do not think of Jesus being the one leading the people out of Egypt a few thousand years before his birth. But, Jesus himself affirmed his existence prior to that event:
Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am. (John 8:58)
Now, depending upon your translation of the Bible, you may have either “Lord” or “God” in place of “Jesus” in Jude 1:5 as there are ancient textual variants on this verse. The modern translators have to decide which ancient version is most likely the original. But, ultimately it does not matter much since we Christians, like Thomas before us, proudly declare Jesus to be both our Lord and our God:
Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28).