Since you have been raised to new life with Christ set your minds on the realities of Heaven, where Christ sits at God's right hand in the place of honour and power. Let Heaven fill your thoughts. Do not think only about things down here on earth. For you died when Christ died and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:1-4)
The aim of the letter is to affirm the superiority of Jesus above all. He was shown to be greater than the prophets who were a very respected group of people; considered to have God's ear. God spoke to His people, through the prophets, throughout the ages. The point was that Jesus was greater than them in as much as God has spoken through His Son. They all had bits of the jigsaw. Jesus was the full picture. So we saw that Jesus is greater than the prophets.
The next step was to show that He is greater than the angels. At that time there was a strong belief in angels. That wasn't a problem. The problem was that they were being asked to believe that the angels could open the way in to the presence of God. They couldn't. There is only one way in to the presence of God and that one way was Jesus. "I am the way, the truth and the life no one comes to the Father except by me" So we saw that Jesus is greater than the angels.
Now the assertion is taken one step further. These people were on the point of returning to that which they had received from their forefathers from the teaching of Moses. When we face uncertainty the tendency is to pull back to what is familiar rather than press on in to the unknown.
They were making comparisons. Moses had delivered their forefathers from their Egyptian bondage. Jesus had not delivered them from their Roman bondage. They could not yet see that He had come to deliver them from a greater bondage. Moses had instigated the tabernacle service. Jesus hadn't added any such inspiring ritual to them. They could not see that God's purpose was to build a temple made out of living stones. Neither could they see that the way in to the presence of God was not through their own efforts to keep Moses' law but through the law of Moses having been totally fulfilled in Christ Jesus.
Moses had a unique place in their hearts. God had spoken to him as a man speaks with a friend. He had been in the presence of God and received the commandments which were the essence of their way of life. He was ranked higher than the angels. God said of him that he was the most faithful in His entire household. He was a leader of great renown. So now, having shown that Moses was greater than the Angels the writer sets out to establish that Jesus is greater than the greatest man of Israel. He was faithful to speak all that God told him to speak. He was faithful to accomplish all that God gave him to accomplish. He argued with God. But he obeyed Him. He was a remarkable man. His faithfulness was unique even when the people he led were unfaithful. No one could conceivably closer to God. That's why the point is made; the Son is more faithful. He is counted as more worthy of glory than Moses. So he writes; consider Jesus as the apostle of faith & as the high priest.
AS THE APOSTLE OF FAITH
This is the only reference to Him as apostle. He was sent as an apostle of the Good News to a fallen world. He was god's ambassador. He was sent with the authority and power of God. He was the undiluted voice of God.
AS THE HIGH PRIEST OF THE FAITH
A priest is a pontifex (bridge builder) over the chasm of sin that separates man from God. To do that he must know God and he must know man. Jesus is the high priest because He is perfectly God and perfectly man. He is the only one who ever has, can and will ever be able to fulfil that function. That's what makes Him the apostle of faith. That's what makes Him the high priest of the faith.
Jesus is worthy of more glory than Moses because His relationship was more exalted than that between Moses and God. Moses was God's servant. Jesus was God's Son. Moses was faithful as a servant in God's house. Jesus was faithful as a Son over His house.
This passage concludes with these words: we are god's household if we keep up our courage and remain confident in our hope in Christ. The way to do that is to set your minds on the realities of heaven Let Heaven fill your thoughts. Do not think only about things down here on earth. The reality is that Jesus is greater than the prophets; greater than the angels and He's greater than Moses.
Article by Mick Smith
We are approaching the time of year when we will, as Christians, be most appreciative of God's plan of salvation that has been made possible through His grace in sending Jesus to the earth. He came to take away our sins so that whoever would believe in Him may have eternal life. Jesus' death is a recorded fact of secular history. It's not just the Bible that informs us about the event. There has never been any doubt that Jesus died on a cross. It's not a story made up by His followers. It was witnessed by many who did not believe in him. It was well documented at the time by the Roman soldiers and leaders. Even the Roman authorities recorded that a man called Jesus, a carpenter from Nazareth, was crucified. Any controversy concerning it has not been about the event; it has concerned the meaning of it.
We have to go to the Bible, God's written communication to everyone, to realise the meaning. The Bible tells us that Jesus died, in our place, to take the punishment for our sins and that He rose again on the third day. His death was an atoning sacrifice. His resurrection was an affirmation that He was the Son of God. His death is essential to the Christian's belief in the provision of God for the sake of our reconciliation but it's only half of the plan of God.
At the heart of our belief is the fact that God can now treat sinners as sons because He treated His only Begotten Son as a sinner. Jesus became sin for us. God could have folded His arms in righteous indignation at the state of fallen man of His creation through the effect of sin; He could have been angry at the thought that His Son, who lived a totally sinless life, had to die to take away the punishment we deserved. But, crucially, He didn't. Instead He opened His heart and reached out with arms of love to all of mankind to enfold us with His love, grace and mercy. All of that was while we were still at enmity with Him. God so loved the world that He sent His only Begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should have everlasting life.
That set me thinking. For many people Easter has become simply a holiday; a break from work; an opportunity to get away from it all. But, for those who believe, on Good Friday we humbly thank God that He sent His Son to die in our place. We can, with grateful hearts say, "It's Friday but Sunday's coming."
His resurrection is the other essential fact of our faith. John Stott said that "Christianity is, in essence, a resurrection faith.The concept of the resurrection is at the very heart of our faith." There were many who witnessed His death on the cross but no one witnessed His resurrection because He rose from within the sealed tomb where His body had been laid. However there were many who witnessed the resurrected Jesus. The stone that sealed the entrance to the tomb was rolled away to let the disciples in; not to let Jesus out
How can we know? By looking at the substantial evidence. There were eye witness accounts. Though it's true to say that no one witnessed the resurrection (it happened in a sealed tomb) the resurrected Jesus appeared to many of His followers. He appeared to the followers who gathered around the empty tomb. He appeared to the twelve disciples. He appeared to a crowd of five hundred. He appeared to the apostle Paul.
The resurrection is a verified, witnessed, historical fact; one which remains at the heart of the Christian faith. The facts are indisputable. There was an empty tomb.. The large stone that sealed the door of the tomb was rolled away and the Roman seal which no one would have dared to break was broken. There was no body in the tomb and the grave clothes were folded and left in the tomb. These are what the Bible calls the infallible truths.
In addition there was plenty of circumstantial evidence. The lives of the disciples were transformed. The day of rest was changed. Jesus' dead body was never found simply because He had risen. The believers consequently would greet one another with the words, "He is risen" to which the response would be "He is risen indeed"
Jesus answered the questions concerning His death and resurrection with the words, "Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies it remains alone; but, if it dies it bears much fruit" (John 12:24) He took an example from the natural realm to explain a truth from the Spiritual realm. A grain of wheat sown in the ground appears above ground in a different form. The old has gone and the new has come. That is the essence of faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Jesus died and He rose from death. He has a new body that is no longer subjected to the restrictions of the body that died. It's the same principle at work in the spiritual realm as in the realm of nature when the farmer sows his seed in the ground, in one form, and it is raised in another form.
Jesus died to atone for our sins. He rose from the dead for our justification and He ascended into Heaven to present His blood as atonement for our sin.. This Easter let us give thanks with ever increasingly grateful hearts. Now there's a thought.
Article written by Mick Smith
I've been thinking a lot, recently, about the choices with which we are faced each and every day. It seems to me that, as followers of the Lord Jesus, we are constantly faced with choices that are important as we live in a greatly changing world. Values have changed, morals have changed and society itself has changed. In the midst of all of that we have a leader who does not change. That fact does not make Him old fashioned but it does mean, for His followers, that His leadership, example and values are as relevant today as when He walked this Earth.
Some years ago we were on holiday and had gone to a local church where the pastor, whilst preaching on the subject of God's timing, mentioned that he and his wife were often 'last minute' people because his wife could never make her mind up what to wear and that often involved her trying on one outfit and then changing it at the last minute. It often took her a long time to choose what to wear. it had to be right for the right occasion.
He used a phrase that has stuck with me ever since. He said, in his view, that she had 'two wardrobes full of nothing to wear.' I think he realised, having said that in public, he may have been skating on thin ice because he ended the story with the remark that she always looked nice whatever she wore and her choice, that morning, was particularly nice. On the other hand of course he could just have been a very wise man.
Perhaps, to some extent, we are all a little bit like that. We, generally, want to look good don't we? Come on, be honest, how many of us take something out of the wardrobe and then put it back because it's not quite right or another outfit would look that much better or appropriate. Of course that will be the ladies not the men (oops perhaps I should have left that out.....too late) We may not have two wardrobes full of clothes from which can choose the right outfit but many of us will take time to know what to wear for which occasion.
That set me thinking. The Bible is quite clear on what we should wear. Granted, it's not exactly what clothes we should wear or a dress code for church attendance. It's something much more important than the issue of wearing the right clothes for the right occasion. It's all to do with the issue, a gar more important issue, of what does and what does not please God.
The Bible is quite straightforward in what we should wear in terms of what we should take off and what we should put on. One of my favourite expressions in the
Bible (in the older versions) is that the Holy Spirit put on Gideon. That's powerful. Anyway, we are clearly told, for example, that we need to put off (take off) the old self and that we should put on the new self. It even describes for us the detail of the old and describes for us the new. That's to be found in Colossians chapter three and verses five to seventeen. There's another list in Ephesians chapter four and verses twenty two to thirty two.
If we really do want to dress in a way that pleases God we will do what we are told to do. We are to put off (take off) the old nature and to put on the new nature. The new nature, often referred to as the new self, represents the 'clothes' that God has provided and in which He loves to see us. Such outfits are pleasing to Him. The old nature or the old self represents the 'clothes' that God does not like to see us wear simply because they are not pleasing to His eyes
When we make our choice of what to wear (we are back in the everyday world of the clothes we wear to go out) we we take the clothes we are not going to wear and hang them back up in the wardrobe and then take another outfit from the wardrobe and put that on. Concerning the things (back to the spiritual realm) that the Bible tells us to put off (take off) it's time well spent if we take a look at the two scripture passages above to see if we can recognise anything that we keep putting on that's not pleasing to God. If there's anything that we do recognise it's a good idea (even a God idea) to make a conscious decision to throw them away rather than hang them back up again to be worn at some other time.
That way, in due time, we will be faced with less of a choice of what to wear and, hopefully, what's left will be the things that the Bible tells us we are to put on and are pleasing to God. Now these a thought.
Ephesians 4:22-24 Put off your old nature which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful lusts and be renewed in the spirit of your minds and put on the new nature created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
I absolutely love driving. It is something that I have enjoyed for many years. My work, as an area manager, in the steel industry involved a lot of travel over a large area. My average mileage was in excess of 40,000 miles each year and there was a great deal of freedom away from an office desk as well as a lot of responsibility in keeping appointments; all of which I enjoyed.
During that time on the roads I saw plenty of collisions between other vehicles. Some of those collisions were minor bumps and scrapes but others were major incidents. Some, I suppose, happened through complacency or carelessness and some must have happened through sheer recklessness of one driver or another; even both. But I cannot imagine that any one of them were caused deliberately through sheer intent. Why would anyone set out to do such a thing on purpose?
That set me thinking. When Jesus died on the cross at Calvary it was not just an accident that caused him to hang there and die. It was not something that happened as a consequence of carelessness in any form. It did not happen to him because of his preaching, his claims or his unpopularity. His death was not an accident from which God managed to salvage some good. When Jesus hung on the cross it was the fulfilment of all that He had come to earth to achieve. No one sent Jesus to the cross. He went to the cross. No one took the life of Jesus. He willingly gave his life. What took place at Calvary was destined to happen in full accord with the will of God. It was the aim of his sinless life. It was a deliberate collision between good and evil. It was with deliberate intent.
God set a deliberate collision course with sin even from before the foundation of the world. The result of this collision was profound. Jesus died as the lamb of God that was slain from before time began. What a collision that was, between good and evil, the day that Jesus willingly died for our sakes. It was so great that the whole earth was covered in darkness and shaken by an earthquake. Rocks were split asunder tombs were opened and those incredible curtains of the Temple were torn in two from top to bottom (Matthew 27:45-54).
Any collision involves a cost. In the case of vehicle collision there is the cost of any repairs to the vehicles involved. There is the cost of an ambulance that might be called to the scene, or the fire service or the police service. There is the cost of hospitalisation and treatment to any or all of the injured persons in the accident. There certainly was a cost involved in the collision that God brought about that day at Calvary.
It cost God a lot to send his Son to die; in fact Isaiah prophesied that it pleased God to bruise him. It cost Jesus his life. That's why, with grateful hearts, we can say thank you to God for what it cost him and to Jesus that he took our place in redeeming sacrifice. We would never have survived such a collision on our own. The price of our redemption has been paid for us. The cost of it is beyond our imagination. The wonder of it is that it was no accident. It was deliberate.
There is always a consequence to any collision. In a vehicle accident someone may have points put on their driving license. They may be fined. They may even be banned from driving for a period of time. Such consequences are a penalty. It indicates guiltiness.
The consequences of the deliberate collision between God and sin are quite incredible. There is no penalty attached to us at all. In fact there is the benefit that God's enemy no longer has dominion over us because Jesus, our Saviour, has taken the penalty upon himself. Wow, what a Saviour!!!
When the centurion, and those that were with him around the cross, experienced the earthquake and saw what was taking place when Jesus died they were filled with awe and the centurion confessed, "Truly, this was the Son of God." (Matthew 27:54) The apostle Paul was, later, to realise that the son of God loved him and gave himself for him. (Galatians 2:20) In fact the truth is that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever would believe in his love for them would have eternal life (John 3:16) but what a revelation that was for Paul when he saw that love for the whosoever became personal for him.
How blessed we are when we comprehend the truth. God intended this collision. It was his deliberate plan. The consequence? The destruction of the hold of sin and death. Surely that is enough to fill us with that same sense of awe that those around the cross experienced. May we, may I, never lose the wonder of the cross. Now there's a thought.
Galatians 2:26 I have been crucified with Christ. It's no longer I that live but Christ living in me. The life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.
It happened quite a few years ago but it was so dramatic that I, along with many people, still recall it and remember it vividly when asked about it. It was a European cup final and, to all intents and purposes, the team I supported was going to lose. The other team was winning 2-1 and any hope of a recovery and victory was fading fast. Nothing was going right. My team was seemingly doing everything alright but there was no sign of the two goals we needed to score to win the trophy.
Time was running out fast and hope of a victory was fading even faster when a big cheer went up from the supporters. Another player was warming up on the touch line and on he came as a substitute for another player who had not been able to do what he was supposed to do to win the game.
The substitute took the place of the one who was taken off and, to the absolute amazement and appreciation of the supporters, went on to score the two goals that were needed for an unexpected and unlikely victory. Even better; the second goal came in the dying seconds of the game. The substitute had won the game. The trophy and the glory of such a victory was ours; it was shared with the manager, the rest of the team and those who had supported them through it all.
Although no one thought it at the time the manager knew exactly what he was doing as he had waited for just the right time to make the substitution. That's the strange thing about time isn't it? We had scored the first goal and, when we were winning, time seemed to go very slowly as the other team gradually became stronger and scored the two goals they thought would secure them the victory. When we were losing and the end of the game was approaching time seemed to go very quickly and hope was fading fast of a victory.
That story set me thinking. It makes me appreciate how Jesus took my place as my substitute. At Calvary He took my place in redeeming sacrifice. It was me that deserved to die but it was Jesus that died in my place. It was my sin that deserved the due punishment but it was He who stepped in, at the right time, to take my sin, shame and punishment upon himself. The just died for the unjust. God sent Jesus to die in our place so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21) What a substitution!! What an exchange!! What glory!!
Just one of the incredible things about God is His sense of time. It's totally different from our concept of time. The Bible clearly tells us that it was when the hour had fully come that He sent his only begotten Son to atone for our sins. In other words He came on and took our place, as our substitute, just at the right time. There are those who may ask the question, "Why not sooner?" The answer is that God knew the right time.
Just one of the incredible things about Jesus is that, in view of who He is, He was willing to die in our place. The aim of the footballer we spoke of earlier was simple. He had the prospect of some form of glory before him if he could achieve that purpose for which he was sent on to the field. But it was different for Jesus.
The Word who was with God, and who was God, became flesh and dwelt among us full of grace and truth but, in fact, His immediate aim was not his own glory. It was suffering, of such an intensity that we will never fully fathom, purely for our sake and for the sake of the glory of his Father's name. The truth in which we can all share and in which we can equally rejoice is that He endured the suffering and accomplished the victory. That was the glory that was set before him.
This is the time of the year to appreciate fully God's plan to substitute you. You may be thinking that time is running out and you have yet to secure the victory in some area of your life? It might be sorrow or regret. It might be affliction or oppression. It might even be some habit that always rears its head when you thought you already had the victory. You feel as though nothing's changed, it will never change, the clock is ticking and time is running out.
If that is so remember this. God sent Jesus to be your substitute; to do what you cannot do. The wonder of that is that He has overcome the world, and that through his overcoming, you are more than a conqueror. Now we can share in the glory of that victory just as everyone shared in the glory of that football victory years ago. The substitute won the reward but we all share the trophy. Now there's a thought.
Isaiah 53:4-6 surely He has borne our grief and carried our sorrows yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities. Upon him was the chastisement that made us whole and, with his stripes, we are healed.