Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Holiness and Wholeness

Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.”
(Hebrews 12:14)

At Mount Sinai, the Israelites discovered that the holiness of the Lord was fierce. And they needed to keep their distance. Or be destroyed.

But, many generations later, at just the right time, God in the flesh came to earth to bridge that great chasm separating His created people from His unapproachable holiness. A giant gap between sinful man and holy God that was so wide and deep that there was no other way possible to cross it. 

For no matter how good and righteous we might think ourselves to be, we are utterly unable to earn God's acceptance. Only Jesus' once-for-all sacrifice on the cross enables us, many generations later, to be acceptable to the Almighty God. 

The Chinese traditional character for Righteousness is a “lamb” over “me.”
The blood of the Lamb of God, freely given, ushered into existence a new covenant, and the writer of Hebrews explains how it completely changed our access to Holy God:

You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them, because they could not bear what was commanded: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned.” The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, “I am trembling with fear.”

But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, that judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.” (12:18-29)

When the holy Lamb of God is over us, making us righteous in God's sight, our hearts are changed and we are set free from the control of sin in our lives.

But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:22-23)

The fruit of our changed-by-the-Lamb lives will be to give Him praise for all of the circumstances in our lives. The answers to prayer that we wanted and the answers that we didn't want. As well as the fruit of extending God's grace and mercy to all the people He places in our lives. Those who are easy to love and especially those who are difficult to love.

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. (Hebrews 13:15-16)

He is able to provide us with all that we need, in order that we can do all that He asks of us. So that He receives all the glory.

May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (Hebrews 13:20-21)

No longer do we need to cower in fear at the foot of Mount Sinai, keeping a safe distance from a fearful holy God. Through the spotless Lamb of God, we can come to Mount Zion, the city of the living God. He has opened a way for us to enter into His presence. And receive Grace.

Let us approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 5:16)

The sinless life of Jesus and His death on our behalf allows us to enter into the Holiest of Holies. At Jesus' last breath, the curtain in the temple was torn in two (Matthew 27:51). So that we could enter. With confidence. And find the throne overflowing with abundant grace and mercy. Enabling us to become a people who freely offer God's grace and mercy to a world thirsty for unconditional love. 

God's Grace through Jesus takes us by the hand and leads us into Holiness before God and Wholeness with people.


Linking up with Velvet Ashes this week on the theme of "Hesed"

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