VIDEO My Saviour’s Love

Aug 3, 2009

I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus, the Nazarene,
and wonder how He could love me, A sinner, condemned, unclean.

How marvelous, How wonderful! And my song shall ever be:
How marvelous, How wonderful! Is my Saviour’s love for me!

For me it was in the garden, He prayed, “Not my will, but Thine.”
He had no tears for His own griefs, But sweat drops of blood for mine.

In pity angels beheld Him, and came from the world of light
to comfort Him in the sorrows He bore for my soul that night.

He took my sins and my sorrows; He made them His very own.
He bore the burden to Calvary, and suffered, and died alone.

When with the ransomed in glory His face I at last shall see,
‘Twill be my joy through the ages to sing of His love for me.

The Cost of Sanctification

May the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely… —1 Thessalonians 5:23

When we pray, asking God to sanctify us, are we prepared to measure up to what that really means? We take the word sanctification much too lightly. Are we prepared to pay the cost of sanctification? The cost will be a deep restriction of all our earthly concerns, and an extensive cultivation of all our godly concerns. Sanctification means to be intensely focused on God’s point of view. It means to secure and to keep all the strength of our body, soul, and spirit for God’s purpose alone. Are we really prepared for God to perform in us everything for which He separated us? And after He has done His work, are we then prepared to separate ourselves to God just as Jesus did? “For their sakes I sanctify Myself…” (John 17:19).

The reason some of us have not entered into the experience of sanctification is that we have not realized the meaning of sanctification from God’s perspective. Sanctification means being made one with Jesus so that the nature that controlled Him will control us. Are we really prepared for what that will cost? It will cost absolutely everything in us which is not of God.

Are we prepared to be caught up into the full meaning of Paul’s prayer in this verse? Are we prepared to say, “Lord, make me, a sinner saved by grace, as holy as You can”? Jesus prayed that we might be one with Him, just as He is one with the Father (see John 17:21-23). The resounding evidence of the Holy Spirit in a person’s life is the unmistakable family likeness to Jesus Christ, and the freedom from everything which is not like Him. Are we prepared to set ourselves apart for the Holy Spirit’s work in us?

by Oswald Chambers

Leviticus, Holiness and the Christian

without holiness He 12 14
Since I am rereading Leviticus at the moment, it is not surprising that several articles have been generated concerning this book. Let me do one more piece, offering a more broad-brush look at this Old Testament book, and why it is so important for the contemporary Christian.

Too many believers today avoid the Old Testament in general, and books like Leviticus in particular. That is a big mistake. This is a vitally important book and one which directly impacts our New Testament faith. As Allen Ross remarks,

“It must be recognized that Leviticus was and is one of the most important books of the Old Testament. It not only presents the entire religious system of Israel, but it also lays the theological foundation for the New Testament teaching about the atoning work of Jesus Christ.”

Holiness is the main focus of this book because God is the main focus of this book, and he is above all else a holy God. As John Hartley comments, “In Leviticus Yahweh makes himself known to Israel as their holy God. Holiness is not one attribute of Yahweh’s among others; rather it is the quintessential nature of Yahweh as God. This is supported by the declaration that his name is holy (20:3; 22;32).”

As David Pawson writes, “There is no book in the Bible which is stronger on the holiness of God than Leviticus.” Various verses speak to this major theme of holiness. For example, Lev. 11:44, 19:2; 20:26 all repeat this key topic: ‘Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy’.

And Lev 10:10-11 is also critical here, where God instructs Aaron and his sons to keep sober “so that you can distinguish between the holy and the common, between the unclean and the clean, and so you can teach the Israelites all the decrees the LORD has given them through Moses.”

To love God is to be holy, and to make a distinction between the holy and the unholy. And as Pawson reminds us, we need to understand the love of God in light of this holiness:

God’s understanding of love is a little different from ours. Ours is a sentimental love, his is holy love. His love is so great that he hates evil. Very few of us love enough to hate evil. We learn about the holiness of God from the book of Leviticus. We learn to love God with reverence, with holy fear. Hebrews says, ‘Let us worship God with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.’ This is a sentiment the writer got straight out of Leviticus. It is vital for Christians today to read Leviticus, in order to keep hold of this sense of God’s holiness.

Hartley notes the connection between holiness, fear and love as well: “Since reverential fear is the proper human response to the manifestation of the holy God, ‘fear of God,’ a Hebraic expression somewhat similar to the NT term ‘faith,’ is the inner attitude of one living a holy life. Fear is a mixture of love, respect and honor. … Fear of God, then, is the inner disposition essential for developing a holy character.”

And this holiness is a two-way street. It is both something God does for us, and something we are to pursue and work out as well. As I have written in other posts recently, sanctification and the holy life are something both God and the believer contribute to. See here eg.:

In his commentary on Leviticus Gordon Wenham nicely expresses this dual aspect of holiness:

Leviticus stresses that there are two aspects to sanctification, a divine act and human actions. God sanctifies and man also sanctifies. Only those people whom God calls to be holy can become holy in reality. “The man whom the Lord chooses shall be the holy one” (Num. 16:7). The divine side to sanctification is expressed in the frequent refrain “I am the Lord your sanctifier” (Lev. 20:8; 21:8, 15, 23; 22:9, 16, 32). Sometimes the divine part in sanctification and the human side are mentioned together:

“You must sanctify him … for I the Lord sanctify you” (Lev. 21:8). Another example is in the fourth commandment: “Remember the sabbath day to sanctify it. . . . and the Lord sanctified it”
(Exod. 20:8, 11).

So how does the New Testament Christian relate to such a book? I have already hinted at this above, but let me say a bit more. Simply to understand the NT properly, we need to know about what is in Leviticus. As Hartley comments, there are at least four significant contributions found here:

First, the information on the sacrificial system is vital to understanding Jesus’ sacrificial death….
Second, according to the NT, Jesus is the ultimate high priest….

Three, the tabernacle and its operation were a gift under the covenant in order that the congregation might continue to have access to the holy God. In the New Covenant, Jesus himself becomes the sanctuary for all who believe on him….

Fourth, the call to be holy like Yahweh is clearly restated in the NT.

While much of the specific material on sacrifices and offerings and so on is no longer in play for Christians (since there is no longer a tabernacle/temple, and since Christ fulfills all this in his once and for all sacrificial offering of himself), what is carried through are the broad principles and truths which these rituals and rules reflect.

As Mark Rooker writes, “Since the Book of Leviticus is mainly concerned with the preservation of the covenant relationship between sinful people and their holy God, the principles and theology of the passages are directly applicable to the believer’s contemporary life because these conditions are not time bound.”

And the whole idea of being a people set apart (which is what holiness is essentially all about) in order to reach the world is a theme just as much central to NT revelation as that of the OT. As R. K. Harrison states about what Israel was meant to be:

Theoretically, this distinctiveness would enable the people, when asked, to testify to their faith in the living God of Sinai, who above all other deities in the ancient Near East was unique. Thus the covenant people would be able to witness to those around them as to the true meaning of holiness. As they became progressively conformed to the world of secular culture (cf. Rom. 12:2), their distinctiveness disappeared and their witness was compromised correspondingly.

We too are meant to be a covenant people who are supposed to be distinct and different from the surrounding culture, in order that we can be a powerful witness to it and lead people to Christ, but far too often it is the world that gets the upper edge in all this.

Holiness as distinction and being set apart is a key concept then not only in Leviticus but all of Scripture. The fundamental issue of holiness is never culture bound or specific to certain times, places or peoples. As Derek Tidball states,

Holiness, then, is a statement about God, a command to his people, and a promise concerning his Spirit. The summons of Leviticus leaps across the yawning cultural divide and the intervening centuries to call us once again to holy living. Christian believers, no less than Israel, are called to be holy and to pursue holiness in every dimension of their lives. Like Israel, we too have been set free, by Christ, but not so that we might continue to live in sin or with indifference to God; rather, we have been set free to be holy.

by Bill Muehlenberg

By Faith

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)

This great verse, evidently a definition of faith, appears to be somewhat obtuse, but it can be properly understood. The word “substance” carries the sense of reality, or assurance. The same author uses the word to explain that the Son of God took on human “substance,” consisting of “the express image of his person [or ‘substance’]” (Hebrews 1:3). The word “evidence” is more properly translated “proof.” The passage teaches, then, that faith provides the reality and proof of things which we can’t see directly. They are as sure to us, through faith, as are things we can see directly.

Faith enters into the picture whenever we attempt to understand something outside the realm of empirical observation. This surely includes creation. “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear” (Hebrews 11:3). Creationist faith is certainly reasonable faith, in stark contrast to evolutionist faith which believes in ordered complexity from disorder, without any ordering mechanism or outside intelligence.

Faith is extremely important in God’s economy: “Without faith it is impossible to please him” (Hebrews 11:6) in any area of life. “For by grace are ye saved through faith” (Ephesians 2:8). Likewise, we live by faith: “The life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God” (Galatians 2:20). Furthermore, “by faith ye stand” (2 Corinthians 1:24) steadfast as a Christian, and “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). We are to “follow after . . . faith” and “fight the good fight of faith” (1 Timothy 6:11-12).

Since this list comprises only a sampling of things which must be done in, by, or through faith, it is no wonder that it “is the victory that overcometh the world” (1 John 5:4). JDM

He Can Be Grieved

And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. —Ephesians 4:30

Because He is loving and kind and friendly, the Holy Spirit may be grieved…. He can be grieved because He is loving, and there must be love present before there can be grief.

Suppose you had a seventeen-year-old son who began to go bad. He rejected your counsel and wanted to take things into his own hands. Suppose that he joined up with a young stranger from another part of the city and they got into trouble.

You were called down to the police station. Your boy—and another boy whom you had never seen—sat there in handcuffs.

You know how you would feel about it. You would be sorry for the other boy— but you don’t love him because you don’t know him. With your own son, your grief would penetrate to your heart like a sword. Only love can grieve. If those two boys were sent off to prison, you might pity the boy you didn’t know, but you would grieve over the boy you knew and loved. A mother can grieve because she loves. If you don’t love, you can’t grieve.

Lord, I think I take Your love for granted and consequently forget how grieved You are when I sin. Overwhelm me today with Your love,
so that I might be more careful to not grieve You. Amen.

Encounter with God Brings Wonder and Awe

And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, fear not; I am the first and the last. Revelation 1:17

There is a point in true worship where the mind may cease to understand and goes over to a kind of delightful astonishment—probably to what Carlyle described as “transcendent wonder,” a degree of wonder without limit and beyond expression!

That kind of worship is found throughout the Bible (though it is only fair to say that the lesser degrees of worship are found there also).

Abraham fell on his face in holy wonderment as God spoke to him. Moses hid his face before the presence of God in the burning bush. Paul could hardly tell whether he was in or out of the body when he was allowed to see the unspeakable glories of the third heaven. When John saw Jesus walking among His churches, he fell at His feet as dead.

These were in unusual circumstances—but the spiritual content of the experiences is unchanging and is found alike wherever true believers are found. It is always true that an encounter with God brings wonderment and awe!

The pages of Christian biography are sweet with the testimonies of enraptured worshipers who met God in intimate experience and could find no words to express all they felt and saw and heard!

Christian hymnody takes us where the efforts of common prose break down, and brings the wings of poetic feeling to the aid of the wondering saint. Open an old hymnal and turn to the sections on worship and the divine perfections and you will see the part that wonder has played in worship through the centuries.

Who Hears the Call of God?

Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. JOHN 6:68

Who can deny that there are certain persons who, though still unconverted, nevertheless differ from the crowd, marked out of God, stricken with an interior wound and susceptible to the call of God?

In the prayer of Jesus in John 17:11, He said: “Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me.” Surely no man is ever the same after God has laid His hand upon him. He will have certain marks, perhaps some not easy to detect.

First might be a deep reverence for divine things. A sense of the sacred must be present or there can be no receptivity to God and truth.

Another mark is great moral sensitivity. When God begins to work in a man to bring him to salvation, He makes him acutely sensitive to evil.

Another mark of the Spirit’s working is a mighty moral discontent. It does take a work of God in a man to sour him on the world and to turn him against himself; yet until this has happened he is psychologically unable to repent and believe!

Lord, I pray that Your Spirit will continue to make me sensitive to the “divine things” at work in this immoral world so that I may make a difference for Christ among my network of relationships.