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Archive for July, 2016

“…her candle goeth not out by night.”  Proverbs 31:18

I am struck by this passage when reading about the virtuous woman, the picture of the true Church in Proverbs 31.  Who burns their candle all night long?  And why would you do that?  I dare say that most of us turn the lights off when we go to bed.  But not the virtuous woman.  She keeps her light burning throughout the entire night.

As Christians, we rejoice in our salvation and celebrate our transformation from death, but for a truly converted Christian, it will not end there.  He will look back into the darkness and light a candle so others can see the lighthouse of safety and come out of that world of darkness.  That desire to hold up a light and to let it burn all night long so that others can see it is something that only comes from the grace of God..

Grace transforms us and changes the way we look at things. Those who have been truly transformed by grace are no longer satisfied with attending bland church services, fellowshipping with other complacent believers in ivory halls of contentment, and warming themselves by the coals of indifference. Something inside them cannot rest while others are dying. The realities of darkness become stark when seen from that place of light.  The dark seems darker and the despair seems more desperate. While others seek the calm serenity of their chapels and cathedrals, there are those who want to set up a rescue station one foot away from the very Gates of Hell.  Light the candle and let it burn all night long!

Grace is not just “undeserved mercy”. It is the fountain from which mercy flows. And mercy gives birth to charity, and charity is the very essence of the entire Gospel, the main theme of the Cross, the whole reason why Jesus died and the central reason of why we were called to salvation. Without grace, we are but tinkling bells and a sounding cymbal – plenty of noise and pretty music, but lacking substance.

Grace also produces righteousness. We assume that “works” are the antithesis of grace, but that is not so. Works are the evidence of grace. It is grace working in us that brings us to a place of righteousness before God. Grace was never meant to be a cheap and easy covering for sin, but is that which gives us the power to overcome sin. Grace produces righteousness, and righteousness establishes the promises of God and ushers us into His presence.

Grace is the river of Life that flows from the Throne of God through us so that we may be a reflection of His glory. The true purpose of grace is not to excuse sin, but so that world can see God as their savior to save them from sin. Grace is the Light of Jesus Christ burning in us to beckon those who are lost to come out of the darkness and into His glorious light.

For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13)

 

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The Inner Side of the Veil

“We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” Hebrews 6:19,20 ESV

The King James calls it “that within the veil”. The New King James calls it “the Presence”. Holman calls it “the inner sanctuary”. The literal Greek is esothen meaning “the inner side” of the veil. What is the writer of Hebrews (let’s assume for clarity that the writer is Paul) referring to?

Chapter 6 of Hebrews is a mysterious chapter. By that, I mean that the message is not immediately obvious. What seem to be five different and separate messages is actually one message that is not stated but woven into them all. I am reminded that, “It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honor of kings is to search out a matter.” (Proverbs 25:2) It is left to us to search it out.

The chapter opens with an admonition about going on to “perfection” or a higher level in our spiritual walk instead of being bogged down with basic essentials, of which he names six. But, Paul warns, don’t start seeking some deeper of more “spiritual” level unless God permits!

Why is that? What is the problem with seeking more knowledge or deeper spiritual understanding? Doesn’t Proverbs plainly tell us to do that with everything we have? And such a warning! Why?

Because, Paul warns, it is impossible, once you have crossed over the line, to come back again. I know this is anathema to who believe in Eternal Security, but it clearly describes five unmistakable marks of true salvation: enlightenment, sampling the heavenly gift, partaking of the Holy Spirit, tasting the Word of God, and tasting the powers of the age to come. And it clearly warns that if they fall away that there is a point where they cannot repent again.

In other words, be careful before you wander off into theological scholasticism or modern Christianity’s bent on deeper “spirituality”. You can wander off into dangerous theories, arguments, doctrines, and translucent ideas that will take you away from the basics of the Gospel. Jesus said to be concerned with the “weightier matters of the law”, judgment, mercy, and faith. (Mathew 23:23) It is the foolishness of preaching that God uses to save souls (1 Cor. 1:21), not the wisdom of man, as he further admonishes in that chapter.

In other words, stick to the basics; you can’t go wrong with the basics. The Bibles tells us that, “he that winneth souls is wise” (Proverbs 11:30), not those with carnal intelligence, because “to be carnally minded is death” (Romans 8:6)

And then Paul turns to encourage the reader that God is not unjust to forget our works and mercies that we have done. He fortifies it with a reference to God’s promise to Abraham, which is confirmed by God’s own oath so that we would have a strong consolation to have hope in God.

That hope is not found in the pursuit of knowledge and theological strivings or of any other paths that lead around and away from the Cross. It is embedded on the inside of that veil. Not on the side of the veil that the priesthood could see and touch, but on the other side, the side that is inhabited and immersed in the Holy Spirit of God.

You see, that place of assurance cannot be reached through carnal efforts, no matter how well intentioned they are. Our works and efforts are all good things, but they won’t bring you into the Presence of God. You can’t touch the inner side of the veil by sticking your finger through the outer side.

You approach God through faith. That is what gives you hope. And hope is the anchor of the soul, hooked into the inside surface of that holy fabric which was torn open on the Cross so that we could pass through into His Presence.

 

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