Christ Alone – Episode 31

But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. Hebrews 10:12-14 ESV

Solus Christus or Christ Alone, it is the concept that the only work required for our salvation was done through Jesus’s death on the cross. There are many places throughout the New Testament that makes this point. Paul tends to put it so bluntly as to state that while we were enemies of God, Christ died for us, just read Romans 5 or Colossians 1. The Old Testament also points forward to this, while the Jews of Jesus’s day, especially the religious leaders, missed it many of the prophecies pertaining to Christ’s first coming show a need for Him to be the suffering servant. However, if I just had to pick out one book of the Bible that drives home the point of Solus Christus it would have to be Hebrews. The entire book was written to believers in Rome during a time of great persecution where many were considering leaving the faith, the author seeing the problem wrote to encourage them and illustrate that Christ is far greater than any other option.

The author spends a great amount of time comparing Jesus to the priesthood, pointing out Jesus’s superiority and how the sacrifices offered up by the Levitical priests are not sufficient to cover our sins. The problem is that the Old Testament sacrifices were not perfect sacrifices offered by a perfect priest, therefore they were flawed sacrifices. This required regular trips to the temple and frequent sacrifices to cover one’s sins.

Then Jesus came along, the perfect Lamb of God, he lived a perfect life free from sin and died on the cross serving as a sacrifice for the sins of all mankind. Not only that but in doing so he also took on the role as our High Priest to stand before God in our place acting as our advocate and interceding on our behalf, covering those who have faith with his righteousness. That is why the author of Hebrews can state that those who are being sanctified are perfected once and for all through Christ’s sacrifice, because the blood that was used to cover our imperfections was the perfect blood of Christ applied by a perfect Priest and not the blood of earthly sacrifices applied by earthly priests. It is this sacrifice that makes God’s offer of grace possible; and without grace there would be no faith, and with no faith we would have no hope for salvation. So we have now seen that we are saved by grace, through faith, because of Christ’s work on the cross.

Stop the Spiritual Fluff – 1 John 4:1

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 1 John 4:1 ESV

Who are you listening to? What preachers and speakers do you regularly follow? Do you take what they tell you as gospel truth or do you regardless test what they are teaching against the Word of God? John wrote to the early church warning them about false teachers and he wasn’t the only person to warn the church. Paul in his farewell address as well as when writing to Timothy warned against those that would come in teaching what people want to hear rather than teaching the Truth.

Today in the world of televangelists and mega churches we find ourselves in a similar situation. Crowds gather more to where they are being told what they want to hear rather than what they need to hear. They want the what amounts to being spiritual sweets while neglecting the spiritual nutritional substances. The problem is much like with our own diet we cannot live on only cakes, pies, and ice cream as our nutritional intake, a spiritual diet of nothing but spiritual fluff is also unhealthy.

That is why we need to test the spirits. We need to be sure that our spiritual diet is healthy. We do this by making sure that the teaching we listen to is firmly grounded in the Bible and not taken out of context. We need to remember that just because it sounds good doesn’t make it true. So let me leave you with this, what does your spiritual diet look like? Do you test the spirits to make sure what you are taking in is healthy or do you just settle for spiritual junk food?

Are You A People Pleaser? Matthew 6:3-4

But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. Matthew 6:3‭-‬4 ESV

What’s your motivation? Why do you do what you do? Are your actions done so that others’ may see what you are doing and so you get praise for it, or would you rather not be recognized for what you do?

In these verses placed within the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is touching on this subject. You see the religious elite of the day were known for publicly displaying their righteousness. If people were watching they made sure to make themselves look good. They would pray elaborate prayers, throw large sums of money into the offering, if it would get the people to look at them and comment on how “good” they are they would do it. In Matthew 6:1-2 Jesus steers the people away from this thinking, telling them not to act this way, but rather as mentioned in verses 3-4 to do it in secret.

What Jesus is getting at here is not to do the seemingly impossible of keeping one part of your body from knowing what another is doing, but rather our actions should be done in such a way that glory and praise is focused on God. The pharisees were all “look at me, look at me!” While Jesus tells us that we should be going “look at God, look at God!”

Jesus states that those seeking the praise of the people already have their reward, that is because rather than seeking God’s glory and God’s favor they are seeking the praise of the people and to have their egos stroked. So they have gotten exactly what they are seeking; but those that seek God’s favor, those that do good in secret, will receive God’s grace as a reward.

So I ask again what is your motivation? Do you seek the praise of others or do you seek to please God?

Christian Fellowship – Hebrews 10:24-25

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:24-25

Why is fellowship important? What is the purpose of being a part of a local congregation? I remember hearing R.C. Sproul telling the story of a pastor that while at a church picnic talked to a member of his congregation that rarely attends. The guy told the pastor that he didn’t need the church, he was part of the universal church and doesn’t need the local fellowship. The pastor then took a white hot coal off the grill and set it aside. Ten minutes later he told the guy that that coal was white hot, but now since it was not with the other coals it has cooled off and become ineffective in it’s duty.

This is what the author of Hebrews is talking about here. You see when we are part of a local congregation the fellowship with other believers helps to make us effective in doing God’s will. I like how some translations will say that we are to provoke one another. You see when we are in fellowship with other believers we are constantly pushing and challenging each other to further deepen our relationship with Christ. Our faith should be such that when those around us encounter us they want to better their faith, which in turn gets us to want to do the same; a sort of one up manship in regards to deepening our faith, or a faith feedback cycle where our faith spurs on that of those around us and their faith spurs us on. So which are you like, the useless piece of charcoal off to the side, or part of the community fulfilling its purpose?

Romans 12:1 – Who takes first?

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Romans 12:1

What is worship? How are we to worship God? Looking at Romans 12:1 we see that worship consists of being a living sacrifice. What does this mean exactly, what does it look like to be a living sacrifice? A lot of it comes down to the concept of humility. I know it seems like humility is something that is mentioned constantly, but that is because it is central to our faith. The concept of being a living sacrifice means we are not just day by day but instant by instant laying aside our will and our desires and looking towards God to receive His will and His desires. This means in order to be a living sacrifice we take ourselves out of the equation and place God first in our life.

You see worship is what we place our energy, priority, and focus on. What we worship is what we place first in our life. The problem though is that we often make a list of things in our lives and rank them by priority, yet just like a golf leaderboard something in second place still has the chance of becoming first. You see God wants not just to be first in a list of priorities but He wants to be our everything. This is offering ourselves as a living sacrifice, we take our leaderboard of things in our life and place God at every single ranking. In other words we throw out the leaderboard, throw out the rankings, and seek out God alone.

So do you have a leaderboard of priorities in your life? If so I challenge you to first place God firmly in that top spot, then work on making God fill all the spots, as that is what spiritual growth is.

Psalm 119:9 – Why is Bible Study Important?

How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.

Why is it important to study the Bible? Well if you were to ask the psalmist, he would tell us that it is to keep us focused on God and to help keep us from falling into sin. The more time we spend in the Word the more we see how we should be living and acting. We see how we should keep our focus on God as He is the only one worthy of our worship; and whatever has our focus, whatever takes our priority is that which we worship. Spending time in the Word keeps our mind and hearts centered on God, guarding our way and keeping it pure.

The best illustration of this in practice is when we look at the temptation of Christ. After Christ was baptized He went into the wilderness for forty days at the end of which Satan came and tempted Him. We see in the narrative that with each temptation Christ countered Satan by quoting Scripture.. But now here is the thing, it is not just enough to know Scripture, we can’t just memorize verses and just quote them at times of temptation; we need to understand what the verse actually means so we can use them appropriately. We even see this with Christ’s temptation, in one instance Satan, seeing Christ countering him with Scripture, used Scripture to try to get Christ to sin by twisting the intended meaning of the verse to suit his purpose. Someone not grounded in Scripture might look at it and think, “you know you’re right,” but because Christ knew His Scripture, He was able to say, “you’re wrong and according to Scripture here’s why.”

So have you been finding it hard to stay on track in your faith? The first thing to do is look to see if you have been neglecting your Bible, and start digging into His Word.