Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Jesus, Our Man in Heaven

A.W. Tozer has a sermon entitled, "Jesus, Our Man in Glory," and the last three verses of Hebrews four give us a wonderful description of Him in His office as "Great High Priest, the Man who represents us before God in Heaven. When I am pressed to identify a "favorite" book of the Bible, I usually name this one, not because I have any great insight into it, but because what I do understand (and even suspect) enthralls me so that I am drawn back to it again and again. Let me show you what I mean.


"Seeing then that we have a great high priest that is passed into the heavens, Jeus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession" (Heb.4:14).

Jesus Christ left the Father, passed through the womb of a virgin, lived a sinless life, suffered an agonizing interim of death and hell, accomplished a glorious resurrection, and then passed through the clouds to return to the bosom of the Father. This is why He is, superior to any earthly priest who lives now or ever lived before. He is the eternal Son of God; therefore He cannot die. He has "passed into the heavens," where our destiny is determined, and where (I say this reverently), He has the ear of the Father. This is why you and I can "hold fast our profession" of faith. We are safe and secure as long as our High Priest is alive. You can hang on to that, saint of God!


"For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin" (Heb.4:15).

George H. Morrison (1866-1928) has suggested that Jesus' greatest temptation was to avoid the Cross, and I can understand his reasoning. The devil promised He could gain a kingdom if He would bypass it (Matt.4:8-9); and Peter vehemently insisted he would personally not allow His Lord to suffer such treatment (Matt.16:21-22). Even the crowd around the Cross taunted Him, saying that the real King of Heaven would be mighty enough save himself, promising even to believe on Him, if He did (Matt.27:39-42).

Jesus knows what it is to be tempted to bypass cross bearing; and He knows what it is to tempted to act independently of God, which my husband thinks was His greatest temptation. But one way or another, the verse says Jesus was tempted "like as we are," from the greatest temptation to the seemingly insignificant hurt.

Because this is true, to me, the riveting word in this verse is "touched." I derive great comfort from the fact Jesus is not just mindful, or even troubled with my infirmities; He is touched by them. Others may say, "I feel your pain," but it is biased, tainted by their own feelings. I believe that Jesus' feelings on earth were not His own, but ours, as He represented every man. And today, He remembers those feelings of infirmity and inadequacy; not His own, to be sure, for there was no infirmity or inadequacy within Him (Jno.16:33; Isa.42:4); He remembers ours, and He is touched, deeply touched. He feels what we feel, but to an even higher and purer degree. When you and I truly grasp this, I think we will be far less inclined to pour our hearts out to anyone lesser.


"Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need" (Heb.4:16).

Finally, having described the superior qualities of this matchless High Priest, and His inherent bias toward us, the writer encourages us to come—come boldly—to the Father through His Son, Jesus Christ, where we have every reason to expect satisfaction in our petitions for mercy. It is a "throne of grace," not a throne of rejection. The Law may have been given to shut our mouths, but Grace was given to open them!

So, if today is a "time of need" for you, dear friend, know this: You have a Great High Priest who stands before the Father, ready, willing, and able to speak for you. His name is Jesus, and He is Our Man in Heaven, so what are you waiting for?

Go! Go now!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

What Manner of Love?

"Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God...Beloved now are we the sons of God..." (John 3:1-2)

The greatest show of love God Almighty could have displayed upon us was to initiate a lineage and offer to add us to it.

Of what need were we to God? None surely. The first to bear the title, "son of God" on earth was Adam (Luke 3:38). From the beginning, God was looking for an heir; and we know from the Old Testament that this could have been a mere servant (Gen.15:2-3). But instead, He chose to allow you and I to experience a father and son relationship with Him, far closer than Creator and creation, or even friend-to-friend. Should this not give us somewhat of a window into the mind of God, and His desire for intimacy with us?

When the first son, Adam, failed by disobeying, and as our federal representative, plunged the rest of us into sin, it was not an angel or a cherubim who was commissioned to redeem the human race, but another Son. One would think God would have despaired of human flesh! But this Son, though He might bear the fleshly image of the first Adam, also retained the everlasting stamp of Deity, therefore becoming the "last Adam" (1Cor.15:45).

But it did not stop there. God was willing to allow this perfect Son—perfect even in human flesh—to be sacrificed, so that this same personal relationship could be bestowed upon you and me. We are not now, nor will we ever be, Deity; but as children of God through faith in Jesus Christ (Gal.3:26); we are related.

Truly, what manner of love is this?

I challenge you today to meditate on this truth. If it does not overwhelm you, you either have not comprehended it, or else you have never experienced it. I know one thing for sure: if it is experienced and comprehended, it will change you. "And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he [Christ] is pure" (v.3).

I once heard a mother say to her child who would be gone from home for a while, "Remember who you are." And that is what God says to us: "Remember who you are." After all, those who are the heirs of a King, sons of a Sovereign, walk differently than peasants.

"Beloved, now—[now!]—are we the sons of God."

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Growing Old...Faithfully

"Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to everyone that is to come." (Psalm 71:18)

David only wanted to stay around long enough to be a source of blessing and encouragement to the next generation (and the next). Not until he had fulfilled all his dreams and ambitions; not until he had made a name for himself; only as long as it took to leave a vibrant testimony to the power and strength of God, to those who were stepping onto the stage to take his place. Gray hair is only a "crown of glory," says Solomon, if it is "found in the way of righteousness" (Prov.16:31); otherwise, it's just a sign of old age!

After all these years, my husband and I now have the opportunity to enjoy each other without the glaring (if glorious) distraction of children, and we take advantage of our unfettered freedom. But I am keenly aware that this does not mean our familial responsibilities have come to a close. On the contrary, when we laid down our mantles of teacher and nurturer, we took up the garment of intercession and selective, if limited, counselor. We can (or, at least, should) no longer interject ourselves into their lives, but we can stand in the wings and step in when called upon.

In addition, I think this time of life also affords us the unique opportunity to show our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren that service to God is still possible when one is less active and less in demand. We may no longer be "on display"; but, to me, our testimony has never been more important.

Faithfulness to God can only be proven over time.

As far as I'm concerned, one of the great advantages with which the older generation is blessed is the ability to look back and see the hand of God in their lives, and the opportunity to display a measure of their own faithfulness to Him. After all, faithfulness is a choice. God may provide the impetus and the power, but He still said, through Joshua, "Choose you this day whom ye will serve" (24:15). [emphasis added] It is a blessing to hear a young person praise God for His faithfulness; but of even greater impact is the testimony of a "seasoned saint" to the faithfulness of God through many years of sickness and health, scarcity and plenty, hardship and happiness.

Like David, these are things I feel constrained to share with those who call me "Mom," "Mamaw" or "Granny," and "Gigi." I may not be able to pass along trendy ideas (Christian or otherwise); but from this vantage point of life, I can share those timeless truths that will suffice when the heart is broken and all hope is taken away. When those times come, I want this coming generation of "Sandlin" kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids to know—not just from the Word of God—but also from observation—that the God their mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother loved and served all her life will be abundantly enough for them, matter what.

"Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare waht he hath done for my soul" (Psalm 66:16)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The King's Ransom

"For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time." (1 Timothy 2:5-6)

"When I buy for you, I never look at the price." I forget what occasioned this declaration from my husband, but I know it's true. He may wrangle for a good price on other things, but not when it comes to me. I must admit, although I have felt guilty about this at times, I have given up chiding him for it. When he spoke these words in all sincerity, my mind immediately went to the Lord Jesus. It was almost as though I could hear that dear One say, "When I paid the ransom for you, I didn't look at the price."

In His case, it was not "a king's ransom," the price required to buy back a stolen king; but rather, "the King's ransom," the price that the King was willing to pay to ransom those who had been His from the foundation of the world, but who, as far as earth and time were concerned, had been kidnapped by the Enemy.

Sometimes a ransom involves a trade. One victim for another, or one life for another. This must surely be the most drastic exchange. Besides the weighing of cost, there will be weighing of worth. Who would offer a king in exchange for a criminal? But that is exactly what God did. You and I had committed a capital crime against Him: willful disobedience; yet He arranged an exchange of penalty—even guilt—if we will accept His offer of salvation and swear allegiance to Him.

I ask you, were we worth the trade? Was it a reasonable exchange? Not to any thinking person's estimation. Ah, but for some reason, it was to God. And for that reason, the foundation of my assurance of self worth is the extravagance of the ransom that was paid for my redemption.

What shall I assume is the motivation behind my husband's desire to spend generously on me? I like to think it's love; and, as a matter of fact, he told me so. And what shall I assume is the motivation behind God's desire to spend so generously on me? As a matter of fact, He had told me; it's love. "God so loved that he gave..."

Calvary was The King's Ransom, and I sing with the songwriter:

There's a sweet and blessed story of the Christ who came from glory Just to rescue me from sin and misery; He in loving kindness sought me, and from sin and shame has brought me; Hallelujah! Jesus ransomed me.

By and by with joy increasing, and with gratitude unceasing, Lifted up to be with Christ eternally; I will join the hosts there singing, in the anthem ever ringing, To the King of Love who ransomed me.

Hallelujah! What a Savior Who can take a poor, lost sinner, Lift Him from the miry clay and set him free; I will ever tell the story, shouting, "Glory, glory, glory!" Hallelujah! Jesus ransomed me.

— Julia H. Johnston, 1849-1919

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Intelligent or Just Educated?

“Now about the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught. And the Jews marvelled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned? Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.” (John 7:15-16)

May we assume from what these men said, Jesus had no formal education? One thing is sure: they considered Him to be less knowledgeable than they. Yet, when He taught, they marveled. In other words, they couldn’t understand how anyone who had not had the benefit of the kind of education to had received, could speak as though He had.

I realize it is obvious that the One who was “the Word” in flesh (Jno.1:14) would be a walking lexicon. Yet, at the same time, the Bible says, “…the common people heard him gladly.” Perhaps this is one reason the Pharisees hated Him so. His circle of influence included men and women of all backgrounds.

Rest assured, I do not mean to disparage education or champion illiteracy. The gaining of helpful, not harmful, knowledge is always to be sought. But I think the principle in this passage is that education may be a basic road to knowledge, but it’s not the only one, by any means.

One of the great benefits of a formal education, it would seem to me, is finding out how to study; and I have sat in classrooms with many students who did not a clue, when it came to knowing where to find answers or assimilate facts. And I might add that I have listened to quite a few teachers whose powers of reasoning were all but nonexistent. As far as I was concerned, they had been educated beyond their intelligence!

Jesus spoke with authority and power because he spoke the words of God. It was as simple as that. And so can we. He did not speak of Himself, as a Man, but of His Father. He goes on to say, “He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory” (v.18). If our knowledge begins and ends with what we subjectively think about things, we have little to add to any conversation. Great thoughts seldom come without stimulation from greater minds, and there is no greater mind than the mind of God.

To you who have not, or will not, have the opportunity of advanced, formal education, I say this without reservation: Because of its style—and authority—anyone who reads and assimilates the language of the King James Bible, and especially who inculcates its truths into his or her life, can consider himself or herself well educated. That education can be augmented; but it cannot be surpassed. It can be refined; but it cannot be replaced. And no one without it can truly be called educated, no matter how many letters may follow his or her name.

"All scripture is given by inspiration of God...that the man of God may be perfect...throughly furnished..." (2 Tim. 3:16-17)