Forgiven Once and Forever (part 1)

Forgiven Once and Forever (part 1)

There is no more important message than the message of grace.  The truth of grace is the foundation on which all other truth is built.  Unfortunately very few children of God have a solid foundation in grace.  To the degree our grace foundation is insecure, to the same degree what we build upon that foundation will lack stability.A prime place to see the grace teaching is Hebrews 8-10.  The writer of Hebrews was addressing Jewish people who had spent their whole life under the Law; he therefore used the occasion to contrast the old and the new covenants by making comparisons between them.  Let’s start by looking at some of the Jewish tradition the writer of Hebrews based the comparisons in his letter on.

The Jewish temple had an outer court, and inner court, and the Holiest of Holies.  The Holiest of Holies was only entered into once a year – on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur).  The priest would have to be cleansed by a sacrifice for himself and his family before entering the Holiest of Holies.  He would also make another sacrifice for the people of Israel and then proceed to lay hands on a goat to transfer the sins of the nation onto it – before sending it out into the wilderness.  That is where we derive the term “scape goat.”  The goat would leave with the sins of the nation so that the nation’s sins for the previous year would now be covered (atoned for).

Individuals would also have to atone for their sins in the old covenant.  They would do this by taking a lamb to the priest – at which point the priest would inspect the animal to be sacrificed to make sure that the lamb was without blemish – and therefore acceptable.  The sinner brought the best of what they had.  The priest would then instruct the person who had sinned to lay hands on the head of the lamb so that the sinner’s sin would go into the lamb – and correspondingly, the righteousness, perfection, and innocence of the lamb would transfer into the person.  After the transference of sins and exchange of righteousness had occurred, the high priest would cut the throat of the lamb and kill the lamb as a sacrifice.

Now that we have a little historical backdrop, let me ask you a question . . .

What is your status right now with God the Father?  If you were to come under scrutiny in the courts of Heaven, how would you stack up?  

If those questions raise doubt, concern, condemnation, worry, or anxiety in us, we do not yet understand what Jesus did for us.  Jesus was our lamb!  When a sacrifice was brought before the priest, did the priest examine the sinner or the lamb?  He examined the lamb!

When Jesus came and died for us, God examined the Lamb!  John the Baptist, when he was in the river Jordan, baptizing people, looked up and by the Spirit of God said “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (Jn 1:29)  Subsequently, when Jesus was baptized and came out of the water, God the Father said “this is my Son, in whom I am well pleased.”  Jesus was God’s Lamb.  He (Jesus, the Lamb) was inspected – and found to be pleasing / without spot or blemish – and was acceptable for our sacrifice!  Jesus is acceptable before God.  So, when Jesus went to the Cross, the Father essentially laid His hands on Jesus’ head – to transfer all the sins of humanity for all time – onto the Lamb and then killed the Lamb on our behalf, just as the priests did for the Jews in the old covenant.

So, when we consider our own life, when we wonder what our status is with God, we tend to examine ourselves.  BUT GOD is not examining you.  He is examining your Lamb.  So, who is your Lamb?  Jesus is your Lamb!  That is who the Lord is examining.

We need to stop looking inward when we are considering who we are in God!

~ This blog post is an excerpt from a sermon by Brad Ettore.  Hear the whole sermon, Forgiven Once and Forever, from Agathos Church. Columbus, Ohio

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