January 16, 2014

Fixing My Mind On Jesus

And so, dear brothers and sisters who belong to God
and are partners with those called to heaven,
think carefully about this Jesus whom we declare to be God's
messenger and High Priest.
~Heb. 3:1

The Book of Hebrews is one of my most favorite books in Scripture. I have always been challenged by the content, and I feel that it is one of the least understood books to date. Some of it is fairly easy to grasp, but there are deep spiritual truths nestled within the pages of this book that cause even strident believers to think, to question, and to wonder about this Jesus we worship and adore. As I consider my life this day, I am brought low to my knees whenever I think about the Lord and all that He has done for me. He has saved me for eternity -- I am saved. He has washed my sins clean -- I am forgiven. He has adopted me into His family -- I am His child. He has given me a new purpose, a new plan -- I have value and worth. He has shown me how to live my life according to the Scriptures -- I can live a life that is pleasing to Him. In all, He has redeemed me, reclaimed me, restored me, and refocused me. I am not the same person I once was, formerly walking in darkness, and estranged from God and living according to my desires and intentions. No, I am now redirected and following a new path, a new road -- a road which leads to ETERNITY.

It is written this way in Hebrews 6:1-2:

Therefore let us go on and get past the elementary stage in the teachings and doctrine of Christ (the Messiah), advancing steadily toward the completeness and perfection that belong to spiritual maturity. Let us not again be laying the foundation of repentance and abandonment of dead works (dead formalism) and of the faith [by which you turned] to God, with teachings about purifying, the laying on of hands, the resurrection from the dead, and eternal judgment and punishment. [These are all matters of which you should have been fully aware long, long ago.]

Speaking of the former and the new, the writer of Hebrews clearly instructs us to understand what maturity looks like, and calls us to know that as believers in Christ Jesus, we must move behind the basic tenets of the faith, and seek to accept fully the gospel of Grace, which brings the complete forgiveness of our sins. In doing so, we are encouraged to grasp the significance of the finished work of Jesus Christ, and to accept fully the gift He has given to us.

I consider these words, and I take them to heart because part of my Christian upbringing rests upon foundations laid by men, Godly men, but mere mortal men who taught that the only way to remain in relationship with Christ was to live in perpetual repentance. I was raised to believe that I was a sinner, always a sinner, and that I maintained my "grace state" through constant remembrance of my sin-state. In doing so, I lived a condemned life, a life whereby I remembered my sins and the guilt of my sins, confessing repeatedly and asking God for His forgiveness. I was taught that this was how to remain humble and to stay in a grace-fellowship with the Lord.

As I have matured in my walk with Christ, I have come to understand the completeness of His Mercy, and I have realized that I am free from the penalty of my sin. My sins have been washed away, I have been made clean, and I am brand new. God does not remember my sins, and I am forgiven -- yesterday, today, and forever.

It has taken a long time for me to accept this truth, and to understand what it means for me to walk in Grace. I also have come to understand the centrality of the Gospel, and that the ministry of Christ, is far more greater than anything I could/can possibly comprehend. In short, Jesus is GREATER THAN all my fears, my doubts, my hesitations, my failings, my frailty, and so on. He is EVERYTHING, so when the writer of Scripture says that Jesus is the first and the last, the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end -- it is meant to suggest a circle without an end. Jesus is the SUM TOTAL of all things, beginning with Him and ending with Him. He covers everything in between, and there is no breakage, no point in time when He is not in control or in charge. 

I look to Him with this in mind, and I immediately see that my life exists as part of His circle (His being). I am part of Him, and through Grace, He has become part of me. It is a miracle and the outworking means that I am no longer functioning outside the circle, for I am now contained within it. The good news then becomes the fact that as part of His circle, my life flows with Him. His will, His desire, His plans...I am part of what He chooses to do, His work, His ministry. My life is no longer my own, but I exist as part of Him. Exciting to conceptualize, yet even more exciting to experience. I am processing this revelation, and I don't have it completely clear in my mind, other than to say that because of this idea, I can see how my life works into His plans. I can say with the Apostle Paul in Gal. 2:19-21 AMP: 

For I through the Law [under the operation of the curse of the Law] have [in Christ’s death for me] myself died to the Law and all the Law’s demands upon me, so that I may [henceforth] live to and for God. I have been crucified with Christ [in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ (the Messiah) lives in me; and the life I now live in the body I live by faith in (by adherence to and reliance on and complete trust in) the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself up for me. [Therefore, I do not treat God’s gracious gift as something of minor importance and defeat its very purpose]; I do not set aside and invalidate and frustrate and nullify the grace (unmerited favor) of God. For if justification (righteousness, acquittal from guilt) comes through [observing the ritual of] the Law, then Christ (the Messiah) died groundlessly and to no purpose and in vain. [His death was then wholly superfluous.]

Today as I think on these scripture verses, I am reminded of the fullness of the Gospel of Grace. I am thankful that God has provided a way for me to be redeemed (completely), to be saved and sanctified (completely), and to be re-purposed according to His plans (completely). I am thinking how this changes my view of life, and how my response to God is different. I lift my hands in prayer, and I shout with joy to Him for He has done marvelous things for me (and for you). Today is a new day, a brand new day, and I look to this day for the pleasure He brings to me, and the wonderful works He has planned for me. May God be praised today and forever more. Amen (so be it), thy will be done. Selah (pause and calmly think about that)!

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