Christmas 2015 – Week 52 / December 23rd

Christmas 2015 – Week 52 / December 23rd

2015Devotional

Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

 

Dear Friends,

“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given;

                                                and the government will be upon His shoulder, and

                                                His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty

                                                God.”                                   Isaiah 9:6

 

Our world is filled with violence, conflict, uncertainty and financial challenge and if we fix our eyes on it we will certainly give way to despair. Thankfully Christmas reminds us that our security, stability and peace come from another source all together. These come to us from a heavenly source and in particular from the joy and peace that Jesus gives us. He came into the world to dispel the darkness that had enveloped us because of our rebellion against God and all that is good, right, beautiful and pure. We chose sin, darkness and death over a relationship with God our Father in heaven and we inherited the wind, fear and a fallen nature that continues to plague the world in every corner. Ultimately, if not corrected our lives end in bitterness and descend into eternal misery separated from God.

 

Jesus changed all of this for us and, what really amazes us is, He didn’t have to but chose to enter our world of gloom and by His death redeem us and give us a future that never ends and one that is filled with His love and joy. He did for us what we could never do for ourselves. This is the Christmas story and it is wondrous to say the least. The story itself is magnificent and filled with wonder and amazement. Angels broke in upon our dark night and sang of the glory of God as they announced the birth of Christ. Shepherds beheld these things with godly fear and Kings from the East, guided by a star, brought gifts to the new-born babe that would speak of His person and destiny. Since then the most glorious Carols have been composed giving glory and adoration to the Christ-child in a way that is timeless. Every year we long for them and sing them with joy. Christ is born indeed and has saved us! What a message and what a joy! We are therefore filled with hope and more determined than ever to share His good news with the world.

 

Cheryl and I therefore wish to thank you for your friendship and fellowship in Jesus. You have nourished our lives, challenged us and brought us closer to God. We truly thank God for your lives and wish you, your loved ones and friends a very blessed Christmas. God is with us and so we face the future filled with hope and in His love and strength.

 

Merry Christmas,

Malcolm and Cheryl Hedding

The Cross of Jesus – part 4 / Week 51 – December 14th

The Cross of Jesus – part 4 / Week 51 – December 14th

2015Devotional

 

 

                                                                         According to the Pattern

                                                “But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to

                                                come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle

                                                not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not

                                                with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own

                                                blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all,

                                                having obtained eternal redemption.”

                                                                                                Hebrews 9:11-12

 

When Moses went up Mt Sinai to receive the Law of God he was also given a blueprint of exactly how to build the wilderness Tabernacle. This blueprint was in fact a plan that would result in a structure being built on earth that would be a scaled replica, copy or model, if you wish, of a Tabernacle that, too this very day, exists in heaven. According to scripture the heavenly Tabernacle has an altar from which a burning coal was applied to Isaiah’s life in order to cleanse him from sin; it has a Holy of Holies, wherein dwells an Ark and Angels proceed from it as they go out into the world at the bidding of the God of Israel.

 

“Then one of the Seraphim flew to me, having in his hand

                                                a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the

                                                altar. And he touched my mouth with it and said:

                                                               “Behold, this has touched your lips;

                                                                your iniquity is take away, and your

                                                                sin purged.”

                                                                                                Isaiah 6:6-7

                                                “After these things I looked, and behold, the temple of

                                                the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened.

                                                And out of the temple came the seven angels having

                                                the seven plagues, clothed in pure bright linen, and

                                                having their chests girded with golden bands.”

                                                                                                Revelation 15:5-6

So then, this heavenly Tabernacle is real and it is herein that God dwells in light unapproachable and full of glory (1 Timothy 6:13-16). This is no replica or model; it is indeed the holy House of God’s real presence; the very nerve center of the universe. Thus God told Moses that he was to reflect heaven on earth by building a Tabernacle into which, once built and consecrated by blood sacrifice, would be placed the glory of God’s presence.

And you shall raise up the tabernacle according to its

pattern which you were shown on the mountain.”

                                                                                                Exodus 26:30

 

“Therefore it was necessary that the copies of the things

 in the heavens should be purified with these, but the

heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than

these”

                                                                                                Hebrews 9:23

Of note then is the fact that the very events described by the book of Revelation are orchestrated from this glorious heavenly Tabernacle. This the book of Revelation emphasizes time and time again. The custodian of God’s eternal presence and power cannot be fully comprehended because the glimpses we have of it in scripture are just too amazing. It is a ”greater” Tabernacle that rests upon what appears to be a sea of sparkling glass and in the Holy of Holies, upon this sea, is the Ark and a throne of such splendor that no human mind can fully grasp or appreciate this (Revelation 4:1-6). Above all, it is a place of indescribable perfection and holiness. The latter is measured by the character of God which is His glory and Angels constantly refer to this glory by crying out, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty (Isaiah 6:1-3).” There is no unrighteousness in this glorious Tabernacle, not even a smidgen of it and nothing unrighteous can dwell or enter there. Only those who are like God can appear in this holy court! Sadly then for thousands and thousands of years no man ever entered this glorious chamber because all had sinned and had fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). But all of this changed in 33 AD when a perfect man once again entered the Tabernacle of heaven and stood before the throne of God and this, all because of His death on the cross! To understand this we must consider the following:

A perfect sacrifice

Immediately after His resurrection Jesus entered the perfect heavenly Tabernacle and there, before God His Father, He placed His blood on the Mercy Seat of the Ark.

 “But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come,

 with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made

with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood

of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the

Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal

redemption.”

                                                                                                Hebrews 9:11-12

This sacrifice became perfect and once for all because it was made by One who Himself was perfect and sinless and who died and rose again as us and entered the heavenly Tabernacle as us. He thus by His blood poured out on the cross, the very symbol of His perfect life, paid the price for our past, present and future sins. This He did for every person on earth (Hebrews 2:9; 2 Corinthians 5:14-15) and if accepted, by real repentance and faith in Him, we too are declared righteous as He is righteous and so, covered by His perfection, we too can enter the very throne room of the heavenly Tabernacle. Indeed we are encouraged to do this boldly!

“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we

may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

                                                                                                Hebrews 4:16

Actually, the picture here presented to us by the book of Hebrews is dramatic to say the least because a perfect Man, clothed in blood, stood before the veiled Holy of Holies of the heavenly Tabernacle and then, just as the veil on earth in the “Copy Tabernacle” was split from the top to the bottom, so the eternal heavenly veil was split, in the same way, allowing the Son of Man to enter the very chamber of God’s holy presence! Scripture captures this scene when it states:

Then the temple of God was opened in heaven and the ark of

His covenant was seen in His temple.”

                                                                                                Revelation 11:19

A perfect intercessor

When we boldly approach this glorious throne room, covered by the blood of Christ, to find mercy and grace in our time of need we really do not know how to pray because of the crippling effect that sin has had upon our minds. We tend then to ask amiss but Jesus, by His intercession in that Holy Place, “straightens out” our sincere and misguided prayers by entreating the Father to act on our behalf because His blood makes us perfect before Him. God our Father knows nothing of our weakness but His Son does yet without sin. He is then a faithful High Priest on our behalf! The writer of the book of Hebrews declares:

“For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands,

which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to

appear in the presence of God for us.”

                                                                                                Hebrews 9:24

And,

                                                “Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who

                                                come to God through Him, since He always lives to make

                                                intercession for them.”

                                                                                                Hebrews 7:25

And,

                                                “Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed

                                                through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our

                                                confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot

                                                sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted

                                                as we are, yet without sin.”

                                                                                                Hebrews 4:14-15

Yes, Jesus intercedes before His Father for each one of us every day by making sense of our weak prayers and appealing to God to demand less of us because of our weakness. Paul knew this truth and so penned these words in his letter to the Church at Rome:

“Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore

is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes

Intercession for us.”      

Romans 8:34

These prayers of ours are brought to Jesus at the right hand of God by the Holy Spirit who lives in us and has been poured out upon us. He takes our weak and ignorant prayers and brings them to Jesus who by His blood and intercession turns them into what they should be. How blessed we are and what a marvelous encouragement to keep on praying. Again Paul writes:

“Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not

know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself

makes intercession for us with groanings that cannot be uttered.

Now He (Jesus) who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the

Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints

according to the will of God”

                                                                                                Romans 8:26-27

We have here a beautiful picture of the Holy Spirit searching our hearts and understanding our sincere prayerful cry but also correcting our misguided perception of what God our Father should do for us. He brings them to Christ, who acquainted with our pain and weakness, presents them to His Father in the way that they would best serve our interests and become thereby an expression of the perfect will of God for our lives! We truly have a wonderful High Priest in heaven. To put it bluntly, we may not like the way our prayers are answered but we must remember that we do not know how to pray and the answer we get will be God’s perfect will for us.

 

These my friends are marvelous truths surrounding the blessings unleashed upon us by Jesus’ death on the cross. The writer of the book Hebrews speaks at length about these and in response to them, in order to appropriate them, calls upon us to:

  1. Draw near to God all the time with hearts that are full of faith and lives that are clean; having been washed with the word of God.
  2. Hold fast the confession of our glorious hope….and,
  3. Be mindful of our fellow believers by encouraging them also and by attending the regular meetings of the faithful.

 

“Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the

blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for

us, through veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the

house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance

of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and

our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession

of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And

let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works,

not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner

of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you

see the Day approaching.”

      Hebrews 10:19-25

 

A perfect judge

Given these great and marvelous things Jesus will bring us all into judgment (2 Corinthians 5:10-11). For the believer this will amount to an assessment of his or her life that, once concluded, will determine their place of privilege and function in the eternal kingdom of God (Romans 14:9-13). However, for the unbeliever this judgment will be terrifying as it will unleash upon him, or her, the terrifying vengeance of God (Hebrews 10:26-31). They have twice rebelled against God; once in Adam and secondly by rejecting Christ’s finished work on the cross for them. Now God has no alternative other than to cast them into hell! So, again the writer of the book of Hebrews states:

“And it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the

 judgment…”

                                                                                                Hebrews 9:27

                                                “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the

                                                living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable

                                                company of angels, to the general assembly and church

                                                of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the

                                                Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to

                                                Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood

                                                of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.”

                                                                                                Hebrews 12:22-24

However, there is also a present judgment flowing over the nations of the world. This judgment, has repentance in mind and the intention to bring the nations to Christ, in order to save them from the great and final judgment that will send Christ rejecters to hell (Revelation 20:11-15). God is not willing that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9), so this present judgment is dispensed by angels who proceed to this holy work from the very perfect and glorious Tabernacle in heaven. Christ’s work on the cross demands that God employ all means possible to retard wickedness in the world and give the people of this world an opportunity to be saved.

“After these things I looked, and behold the temple of the

 tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened. And

out of the temple came the seven angels having the seven

plagues, clothed in pure bright linen, and having their chests

girded with golden bands.”

                                                                                                Revelation 15:5-7

Sadly, even as “present judgment” flows over this world men continue to love darkness and will not repent. They twice reject God and thereby spurn His love for them; a love that is so great that it sent His very unique and only Son to the cross for them. So scripture testifies to this by stating:

And men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed

the name of God who has power over these plagues; and they

did not repent and give Him glory.”

                                                                                                Revelation 16:9

My friends, the cross towers over history and shines with the grace and love of God in Christ for a sinful world. We cannot escape it and it calls upon us all to embrace it and live out in our lives all that it imparts to us. If we do this we will one day enter a Tabernacle, not made with hands, where eternal life, made real by the very presence and fellowship of God, will be our inheritance. Be assured of this; very shortly Jesus will step out of the glorious Tabernacle of heaven and descend again to the earth to gather His eternal family to Himself. On that Day we will all marvel at His magnificence but His robe will still be dipped in blood! (Revelation 19:11-16)

 

Malcolm Hedding

                                               

 

 

Chaos and Revolt – Week 50 / December 7th

Chaos and Revolt – Week 50 / December 7th

2015Devotional


                                                “Moreover the word of the Lord came to

                                                Jeremiah, saying, “Have you not considered

                                                what these people have spoken, saying, ‘The

                                                two families which the Lord has chosen, He

                                                has also cast them off’? Thus they have

                                                despised My people, as if they should no

                                                more be a nation before them.”

                                                                                               Jeremiah 33:23-24

                                               

As revolt and chaos spreads through the Middle East it turns out that the only stable Democracy in the region is Israel and indeed that the Apartheid State of today is not Israel but the Arab nations around her. These nations are imploding with discontent and violence as people take to the streets protesting their lack of freedoms and their subjugation under the hands of thugs, murderers, despots and leaders who have made themselves rich on the backs of their people! Syria, as we once knew it, is no more and, as the country continues to burn, 240,000 of its citizens lie dead in its smoldering ruins and more than a million more have invaded Europe. Among them jihadists who are determined to bring chaos and mayhem to the capitals of Europe; as we have just witnessed in Paris. Christians throughout the Nineveh Plain have followed Jesus to the cross and the real barbaric face of Islam has been laid bare for all to see. Adding to this awful toxic brew is the arrival of the Russian military machine in the region. We should all take note and prepare ourselves for greater upheavals.

 

Israel by contrast is a shining example of freedom, the rule of law, an independent judiciary and the freedom of the press and yet the educational institutions of our world have decided to boycott Israeli academics and to annually hold what is called, “Israel Apartheid Week” and the European Union is now moving to boycott and label Israeli products made in Judea and Samaria. Nothing is more hypocritical, and indeed shameful, as this. While totalitarian dictators, throughout the Arab world, suppress their people and even murder them in huge numbers on the streets of their capitals, these European technocrats decided to focus on Israel and condemn her. Sadly, many Church movements have also joined themselves to this hypocrisy. This is all part of a sinister desire to discredit Israel, delegitimize Israel and in the end dismantle Israel. Anti-Semitism is at work here for sure and it masquerades under the umbrella of the so called BDS movement. It is unbridled and unashamed and sadly attracts many followers.

 

We, who have been “washed” by the scriptures, recognize this evil root that again and again seeks to find fertile soil where it can flourish and grow. Thankfully, we stand in its way and we will stand alongside Israel in her endless struggle to exist in a dark world. Jesus said that, “This nation (generation) would not pass away until all things are fulfilled” (Matthew 24:34) and the Prophet Jeremiah declared that as long as the sun, moon and stars are in the firmament just so long will Israel exist as a nation before God. (Jeremiah31:35-36)

 

The struggle will be a challenging and difficult one but we will stay the course because we have a God in Heaven who watches over Israel day and night (Psalm 121:4) and Who invites us into a place of dedicated prayer and intercession on her behalf. (Isaiah 62:6-7) In the end He will be glorified in the nations in this growing contest as He will arise and defend His people in a way that we never thought possible (Zechariah 12:1-9). Let us therefore ignore the anti-Israel antagonists, arise to the place of dedicated intercession and be faithful to God.

 

Malcolm Hedding

The Truth – Week 48 / November 23rd

The Truth – Week 48 / November 23rd

2015Devotional

“The Elder, to the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I but also all those who have known the truth, because of the truth which abides in us and will be with us forever.”

2 John 1-2

 

John the Apostle writes to a local church, probably that of Rome, but because of persecution refrains from giving specific details of the church concerned; the church is simply, an “Elect Lady with her children.” The burden that John carries however is that of knowing the truth and living by it. We live in a Christian world today that is so experience orientated that truth is very often lost in the euphoria of desiring to experience the supernatural. The chaos that this brings to the Church is immeasurable though few see it and the casualty of all of this is truth! So here we are told to:

 

Love in truth (1-3)

The context reveals that this love is not just a fuzzy emotional feeling but indeed anchored to an external body of teaching, called the word of a God, that is indeed eternal. It is this truth that “abides in us” by Jesus Christ that regulates our relationship with others. In fact, if others do not embrace this truth and still purport to be Christian we are to reject them and not even greet them! How unloving, by many people’s standards, is that? The truth matters and we are to love it in order to properly love others. Love desires the best for people and there can be no higher good than giving people a body of truth that leads them to eternal life. This is John’s message and we should hear it clearly.

 

Love by the truth in us (4-6)

Jesus is the truth that lives in us and He is the Son of the living God. That is, He is one with the Father from all eternity and is himself God. He alone brings us into fellowship with God and we cannot have such a relationship with God our Father if we bypass Him. The truth of scripture is clear, no one can know the God of Israel by rejecting the truth of who His Son is and what He did for the world on the cross. God lives in us only by Jesus Christ!

 

We can only love one another in truth if we allow the life of Jesus us to flow through us. This is a commandment that was from the beginning, meaning that it was settled once for all in the Torah or five Books of Moses. Here we read:

 

“You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Leviticus 19:18)

 

When Jesus lives in us because of the truth we embrace from God’s word then loves becomes empowered by the Holy Spirit and makes an impact upon people’s lives. There can be no other path to manifesting the true love of God. This is John’s message to all of us.

 

Love in watchfulness (7-11)

Even the early Church was beset by deceivers who infiltrated and corrupted it. John is mindful that the spirit of Antichrist is at work in the world and that it essentially attacks the person and work Jesus. He is thus clear that love is watchful and does not abide anyone who denies the nature of Jesus’ work, in the flesh, on the cross. Today, sadly many Christians have little understanding of what took place on the cross and therefore they easily embrace people who contradict the nature of Christ’s identity and work, all in the name of love. In so doing they share in the “evil deeds” of these people, all in the name of love! We are to know the “doctrine of Christ” as he puts it. We must be watchful for if not we will not receive a “full reward.”

 

John closes his short letter by reminding us that to stand for the truth can be a costly business. We therefore have to be “wise as serpents” and here he is just that because he recognizes the folly of committing too much truth to, “paper and ink”. The lesson is clear we should not compromise the ongoing impact of God’s truth by giving evil people the opportunity to attack it.

 

Malcolm Hedding

 

The Cross of Jesus – part 3 / Week 47 – November 17th

The Cross of Jesus – part 3 / Week 47 – November 17th

2015Devotional

 

 

                “Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to

                                                Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the

                                                ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in

                                                Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing

                                                their trespasses to them and has committed to us

                                                the word of reconciliation.”

                                                                                                2 Corinthians 5:18-19

 

The cross of Jesus reconciles our lives to the God of heaven. It makes us compatible with His perfect character and enables Him to invade our lives with His transforming power. This remarkable demonstration of God’s love, power and grace frees us from the fear of disapproval, condemnation and judgment (1 John 4:18-19). We are fully “accepted in the Beloved” and covered with His righteousness. We are the righteousness of God in Christ. This is amazing and good news indeed.

 

As Christians we need to know these facts and live by them. It is precisely here that we fail and all of Paul’s letters are written with this goal in mind. So, to be all that God wants us to be by virtue of Jesus’ death on the cross we need:

To learn to come into God’s presence

The writer of the book of Hebrews tells us that we need to do this boldly.

“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that

                                                we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of

                                                need.”

                                                                                                Hebrews 4:16

We come into God’s presence boldly on the grounds of what Jesus did for us on the cross. We are not deterred from doing this because of some earthly experience relating to our natural fathers etc. God is our Father and He is like none other and when Jesus saves us He brings us into a right relationship with His Father. Jesus’ blood, the evidence of His death for sinners, gives us unhindered and full access to God our Father. This is vital truth stamped on our hearts by the Holy Spirit and so it is our understanding of what happened on the cross that propels us with joy into the very throne room of God! It is when we are assured of these things that we will exercise our right to approach God our Father free from doubts and fears. The truth of God will set you free from these and this is precisely why we need to live in God’s word (John 8:31-32). Also, it is ignorance, doubt, condemnation and fear that keeps us from praying for it is by praying, just talking to God in Jesus’ name, that we draw near to God and find His comfort. This is the promise of His word (John 14:13-14).

 

To learn to trust the power of Christ in us

The Bible affirms that it is Christ in us the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27). That is, Jesus transforming power inside each one of us can change us into a reflection of the character of God. There is no power on earth that can stand in the way of Jesus’ work in us because “greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4). This in turn means that the ungodly habits, actions and addictions of our lives have all been conquered by the cross. There is no need for us to be entrapped by any of them. This in itself is a revelation that has to be fully grasped by us. Until we thoroughly learn this truth we shall continue to be held captive by defeated tormentors! It is thus precisely because of Jesus’ great power residing in us that we can truly consider ourselves to be dead to sin; unresponsive to it. Paul affirmed this when he wrote:

“Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed

                                                to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore

                                                do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should

                                                obey it in its lusts.”

                                                                                                Romans 6:11-12

John, the Apostle, knew this truth well because he wrote that the one who is truly born again does not sin (1John 3:6; 9)! The language here is very strong and confident and indeed it surprises many as on the other hand, in the same letter, he also states that if we say we do not sin we lie and the truth is not in us (1John 1:8). So, what did he really mean? He meant that he that has come to the cross and has appropriated what happened there does not sin habitually. That is, sinful habits, actions and practices do not have a hold on us; we have been freed of their grip and can live in a way that pleases God. All of this is because “His seed”, the very life of Christ, is in us (1 John 3:9). We must learn to trust the power of Jesus in us. This is why John also writes that the way we live as Christians is characterized by righteousness:

“If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone

                                                who practices righteousness is born of Him.”

1 John 2:29

So, Paul had it right when exhorted the readers of his Roman letter to count on the life of Jesus in them to fully transform them. He put it this way:

“Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that

                                                you should obey it in its lusts.”

                                                                                Romans 6:12

 

To learn to walk in perfection

The cross, by virtue of reconciling us to God, has the power to fully transform our lives. In fact we are to see ourselves already seated with Christ in heaven (Ephesians 2:4-6)! The Spirit of God within us helps us to walk this position out in time and this is a process called sanctification. Our calling is to make our heavenly position of perfection an earthly reality. Or, to put it another way, we are to close the gap between what God says we are and what we are on earth. Paul acknowledged this when he stated that he presses forward toward “the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12-14) That is, he is ever moving forward to have Christ’s perfection of character established in his. This was Paul’s daily pursuit and, as he embraced it, he recognized that he had not yet fully attained his goal but he was getting close to it (Philippians 3:12)! How close are you?

 

Having said this it is also true that we can be perfect! Paul clearly taught this but it has to be explained. Perfection can be defined as staying at the place of Christ-like transformation to which the Holy Spirit has brought you. It does not mean that one is a perfect reflection in character of all that Christ is. No, it means that to the degree to which one has positively responded to the transforming light and power of Christ and is living in it; to that degree one is perfect! Paul put it this way:

“Therefore let us, as many as are perfect, have this mind;

                                                and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal

                                                even this to you. Nevertheless, to the degree that we

                                                have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let

                                                us be of the same mind.”

                                                                                                Philippians 3:15-16

When we walk in the power of God’s transforming light and stay in God’s transforming light, never going back, it is then that we are perfect. God holds us accountable for the light that we have received. Paul acknowledges that not all Christians understand this and that in time God will make it clear to them but the bottom line is, “to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule”. We should never slide back into old habits and practices that God in Christ has delivered us from and so, like Paul, we forget those things which were behind and we press forward to those things which are ahead. The cross bought us a full deliverance and we should always move forward to appropriate it. The writer of the book of Hebrews understood this and wrote of it in these terms:

“Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles

                                                of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the found-

                                                ation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God….”

                                                                                                Hebrews 6:1

It’s time for Christians to grow up, and indeed wise up, and go forward to perfection!

 

To learn the ways of the cross in tribulation

The cross we shoulder every day is the one that applies the purchased blessings of Jesus’ cross to our lives. Our cross challenges the “I principle” or “Selfish principle’ in our lives every day. We do this by trusting the power of God in Christ to invade and transform our lives. We therefore, with God’s help, put to death our old way of living and embrace the ways of God. Because Jesus lives in us by the power of the Holy Spirit Paul commands us to change!

“…….if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by

                                                Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your

                                                former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according

                                                to deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind,

                                                and that you put on the new man which was created according

                                                to God, in true righteousness and holiness.”

                                                                                                Ephesians 4:21-24

Sometimes sin is so deeply rooted in our lives that we cannot change by simply being obedient to the word of God. It is for this reason that God allows us to walk through trials and tribulations. These have a habit of driving us to Christ as never before and so through the ordeal of trials and tribulations He is able to change us. This is not a blessed process but it is a necessary one and every true follower of Christ will be subjected to and trained by it. At the end the power of Christ will have uprooted our stubborn evil ways and replaced them with His. Peter encouraged the Christians of his day to submit to this process with patience:

“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if

                                                need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the

                                                genuineness of your faith, being more precious that gold

                                                that perishes, though it be tested by fire, may be found to

                                                praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

                                                                                                1 Peter 1:6-7

                                                “Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm

                                                yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffer-

                                                ed in the flesh has ceased from sin.”

                                                                                                1 Peter 4:1

James, in his epistle, begins by encouraging the believers to hold steady in trials and not to get discouraged as in due time God will deliver them but not before He has effectively applied the cross to their lives. He puts it this way:

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials

                                                knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But

                                                let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect

                                                and complete lacking nothing.”

                                                                                                James 1:2-4

Paul also appreciated the fact that trials and tribulations are the tools that God uses to apply Jesus’ cross to our lives. That is, to not only impute righteousness to us but to impart righteousness to us. So he writes of this reality in these terms:

                “And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing

                                                that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance,

                                                character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint-

                                                ment, because the love of God has been poured out in our

                                                hearts by the Holy Spirit who was give to us.”

                                                                                                Romans 5:3-5

It is therefore clear that the way of the cross is a challenging way but we are all to submit to it, or as the writer of the book of Hebrews put it, be trained by it (Hebrews 12:7-11), as in the end, by virtue of the power of God in us, we will be changed and people around us will take note that we have been with Jesus.

 

To learn to walk in the Spirit

In the book of Romans Paul sets forth, in chapters seven and eight, the struggle that believers have in “finding their footing” in Christ. The cross has fully cancelled the power of sin in our lives but we struggle to appropriate it and so Paul gives personal testimony to his journey in this regard. He therefore cries out:

“For the good that I will to d, I do not do; but the evil

                                                I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will

                                                not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells

                                                in me.”

                                                “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from

                                                this body of death? I thank God-through Jesus Christ

                                                Our Lord!….”

                                                                                                Romans 7:19-20; 24-25

Paul then goes on to tell us that Jesus delivers us from in-dwelling sin by our relationship with the Holy Spirit; that is, we are to walk in the Spirit and consequently we will not give into sin or, as he puts it, the flesh.

“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who

                                                are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh

                                                but according to the Spirit.”

                                                                                                Romans 8:1

The question then is, how do we walk in the Holy Spirit? The answer, according to Paul, is applying your mind in such a way that it agrees with the truth of God’s word. It is God’s truth that sets you free and enables the Spirit of God to work powerfully in your life. Our minds need to be made subject to the word of God. So, Paul states, in confirmation of this:

“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds

                                                on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to

                                                the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded

                                                is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”

                                                                                                Romans 8:6-7

It is then clear that to walk in the Spirit and thus apply to our lives all that Jesus did for us on the cross begins with our minds. We have to “want to” change and then God changes us. When our minds stand on truth, that truth explodes in our lives and transforms us. This is why Peter wrote that we are to gird up the loins of our minds and follow Christ (1 Peter 1:13) and Paul, writing to the Philippian Church, said that we are to train our minds to dwell on good and godly things (Philippians 4:8-9). Christians today need a radical commitment to the word of God and they need to support this with lots of prayer and attendance at a good fellowship of God’s people. There is just no other way to walk in the Spirit and live out all the blessings unleashed for us on the cross.

 

Malcolm Hedding

 

 

The Cross of Jesus part 2 – Week 46 / November 7th

The Cross of Jesus part 2 – Week 46 / November 7th

2015Devotional


                                                “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I

                                                who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which

                                                I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of

                                                God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

                                                                                Galatians 2:20

 

In our previous study we examined the nature of Jesus’ atoning work on the cross. In short, because of His sinless and perfect life Jesus could lay His life down as a satisfying atonement on our behalf and for the sins of the world and take it up again. Death could not hold Him because of His perfect and therefore indestructible or endless life (Hebrews 7:16). The resurrection of Jesus was the ultimate and abiding evidence of this. He was therefore able to pay the price for sinners and, by His resurrection life, able to infuse them with His saving power. The sinner is thus not only declared righteous but actually made righteous. Paul underlines this in his letter to the Church at Rome when he writes:

“Much more then, having now been justified by His blood,

                                                we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we

                                                were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death

                                                of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be

                                                saved by His life.”

                                                                                                Romans 5:9-10 

Being saved by Jesus’ life is what the Bible calls being sanctified; which in turn can be defined as that work of the Holy Spirit in us by which the effects of the fall upon our characters are reversed. By this cleansing process our evil nature is put to death or eradicated and we begin to reflect once again the image of God. Again Paul refers to this process in these ways:

“But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you,

                                                brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the

                                                beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification

                                                by the Spirit and belief in the truth.”

                                                                                                2 Thessalonians 2:13     

                                                “But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us

                                                wisdom from God-and righteousness and sanctification

                                                and redemption.”

                                                                                                1 Corinthians 1:30           

Those who faithfully walk this road are thus embracing what the Bible calls holiness and without this we shall not see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14). In other words; when Jesus said that we are to pick up the cross and follow Him (Matthew 16:24), he meant that we are to embrace everything that His cross purchased for us and chiefly this means that we are reconciled to God and allow His Spirit to cleanse us or eradicate the strongly entrenched “I” or selfish principle in us. The Bible calls this “I principle” being fleshly or carnal (1 Corinthians 3:1-3). It is then important to note that the cross of Jesus did not open up a way for man to get out of hell into heaven, no it opened up a way for God to get out of heaven into man! Allowing God by Christ Jesus to invade our lives is the ultimate purpose of God and it is the major issue facing every Christian. This is what it means to be a fully devoted follower of Christ. By the cross we have been reconciled to God our Father and so; being a disciple of Jesus means allowing God to fully transform our lives until they reflect as closely as possible the character of God. Paul put it this way:

“For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be

                                                conformed to the image of His Son, that He might

                                                be the firstborn among many brethren.”

                                                                                                Romans 8:29

So, the goal of Jesus’ death and resurrection was to create men and women, a family if you will, who would willingly love God, serve God and reflect His image for all eternity. The cross of Jesus is the only means by which God can create such a being. We are therefore created in Christ Jesus and are therefore trophies of His workmanship. Once again Paul acknowledges this truth by writing:

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and

                                                that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works,

                                                lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship,

                                                created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God

                                                prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

                                                                                                Ephesians 2:8-10

The Loving Power of Christ in Us

The difference between defeat and victory depends on the follower of Jesus having a good grasp of what has really happened to him because of the cross of Jesus. That is, he or she must understand the nature of the loving power that flows toward them by being in Christ. The love of God embracing us is immeasurable and the power of God in us unassailable. This means that there is no power in heaven, on earth or under the earth that can overcome the loving power of God; which is ours! Paul recognized that the followers of Jesus needed a revelation (heart understanding) of this:

 

“Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord

                                                Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to

                                                give thanks for you, making mention of you in my

                                                prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the

                                                Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom

                                                and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of

                                                your understanding being enlightened; that you may

                                                know what is the hope of His calling, what are the

                                                riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,

                                                and what is the exceeding greatness of His power

                                                toward us who believe, according to the working of

                                                His mighty power which He worked in Christ when

                                                He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His

                                                right hand in the heavenly places, far above all

                                                principality and power and might and dominion, and

                                                every name that is named, not only in this age but also

                                                in that which is to come.”

Ephesians 2:15-21

It will be noted from this passage, and it cannot be repeated often enough, that the follower of Jesus is infused with a power in Christ that is greater than any principality (demonic entity), earthly kingdom, any living entity or person in this age and the one to come! Given that this is true, why do so many Christians struggle and fail? Also, the believer in Jesus is immersed in a “sea of God’s love” that is knowable but not exhaustible. That is, it is too great to be fully grasped or known!

                                                “For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our

                                                Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in

                                                heaven and earthed is named, that He would grant

                                                you, according to the riches of His glory, to be

                                                strengthened with might through His Spirit in the

                                                inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts

                                                through faith; that you being rooted and grounded

                                                in love, may be able to comprehend with all the

                                                saints what is the width and length and depth and

                                                height-to know the love of Christ which passes

                                                knowledge; that you may be filled with all the

                                                fullness of God.”

                                                                                                Ephesians 3:14-19

Again, the Jesus’ follower is to comprehend and be assured of the great love that God in Christ has for him. There is therefore no limit to knowing God’s love just as there is no limit to knowing God’s transforming power. The sin factor in our lives is broken, the devil has no power over us and the world has no lure; all because of the cross of Jesus. Paul is more than clear about all of this but so many Christians know nothing of these; why? Because they need to grasp the biblical principles of:

We died in Christ and consequently we rose with Christ and we are now seated in heavenly places with Christ. His death, burial and resurrection was ours and thus by the exceeding great power and love of God we are already in heaven! Such is the grace of God flowing toward us. Christ in us is an “incredible thing.” Paul knowing this says:

                                               “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His

                                                great love with which He loved us, even when we

                                                were dead in trespasses, made us alive together

                                                with Christ………and raised us up together, and

                                                made us sit together in the heavenly places in

                                                Christ Jesus…….”

                                                                                                Ephesians 2:4-6

For God the power unleashed at the cross is such that it instantly completed the great work of salvation. We simply have to walk this out in time and through our days; all the while knowing that we cannot possibly fail and that to appropriate this victory we need secondly to know the principle of:

 

  1. Perception

The barrier preventing us from reaching God’s powerful deliverance in and of our lives is ourselves or what we call our minds. The effects of sin has darkened our imaginations or minds (Ephesians 4:17-18) leaving the seat of our very being crippled and unable to agree with God. When this barrier is torn down by earnest prayer our minds are made submissive to God and transformation is the result. This must be our daily cry to God; we have the power and love to change all we require is the will! Our perception of God’s ability to transform us has to change. Again Paul writes:

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies

                                                of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice

                                                holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable

                                                service. And do not be conformed to this world, but

                                                be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that

                                                you may prove what is that good and acceptable and

                                                perfect will of God.”

                                                                                                Romans 12:1-2

See also: Ephesians 4:20-24; 1 Peter 1:13

The Christ follower must recognize, have the perception, that he or she has the capacity to change and therefore they must reckon themselves to be dead indeed to sin, “but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:11)

Lastly we need the principle of:

 

  1. Injection

When we gave our lives to Christ, because of what He did for us on the cross, something wonderful actually happened to us in that we were regenerated by His Spirit and given a real hunger and thirst for God. To put it another way; we were born again (John 3:3) and from within we experienced something amazing. In short, we were actually injected with God’s real power, love and presence. John writes of this fact by stating that when we came to faith God placed the seed of His life within us (1 John 3:9). If you have never had this experience then, to be honest, you have never been saved and your life remains under His wrath (John 3:36)! Paul writing to Titus described this experience thus:

“But when the kindness and the love of God our

                                                Savior toward man appeared, not by works of

                                                righteousness which we have done, but according

                                                to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of

                                                regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,

                                                whom He poured out on us abundantly through

                                                Jesus Christ our Savior.”

                                                                                                Titus 3:4-6

All this means that you now know that the greatest loving power in the universe has impacted your life abundantly because of the cross; meaning that now you can build on this injection and allow it to fully transform your life. There can be no other outcome! Once again the Apostle John recognizing this great truth writes:

 

“You are of God, little children and have overcome

                                                them, because He who is in you is greater than he

                                                who is in the world.”

                                                                                                1 John 4:4

 

It is certainly therefore true that we have received everything we need for life and godliness in Christ (2 Peter 1:3). It is now for us to expand God’s presence and power in our lives by exposing ourselves to the means by which this can happen. That is, we need to cultivate good prayer lives, spend much time in His word, enjoy stimulating Christian fellowship and frequently recall His goodness to us by the breaking of bread or communion. This was the “pattern” laid down for us by the early church.

“Then those who gladly received his word were

                                                baptized; and that day about three thousand

                                                souls were added to them. And they continued

                                                steadfastly in the apostles doctrine and fellowship,

                                                in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers.”

                                                                                                Acts 2:41-42

Those who expose themselves to the real life of God by these regular godly pursuits will experience the full power of the cross cascading through their lives and they will be a blessing to the world.

 

Malcolm Hedding

               

The Cross of Jesus -week 43 / October 22nd

The Cross of Jesus -week 43 / October 22nd

2015Devotional

 

 

                                                      “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served,

                                                      but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many”

                                                                                                            Mark 10:45

 

                                                      “All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose

                                                      names have not been written in the Book of Life of

                                                      the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”

                                                                                                            Revelation 13:8                                   

 

The cross is the central theme of the Bible; it is pictured everywhere in types, symbols, rituals and reality. Jesus died on a Roman cross two thousand years ago and this death carries with it a significance and power that can change one’s life and destiny forever. It can be said that creation came about because, way back in eternity before time, space and matter existed, the second person of the Godhead                  gave His promise that He would come into the world and embrace the cross. This fact tells us that creation itself, in all its mystery and splendor, could not be put in place without the cross and this is especially true of a created family of men and women that would willingly submit itself to God and love Him. Without the cross creation would have been still-born! That is, it would have failed in the womb of God’s purpose. The cross of Jesus is the cornerstone upon which all of creation was built.

 

The creation account recorded in the first chapters of Genesis tells us that the pinnacle or grand masterpiece of God’s creative work is mankind. He is not only the great masterpiece of it but also the very center of it. It exists for him and it will respond to his place in it. This means that should the first man and woman fall from God’s will and desire for them, as they did, then the glory, wonder and beauty of the world around them would also fall and fail. Mankind’s rebellion against God did exactly this and subsequently the created order has fallen; is decaying and is polluted and yearning for the day when mankind will again take the position that God originally intended for it. Paul comments on this truth in Romans 8:19-22:

“For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revelation of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.”

 

  1. The truth

God could not create a true family for Himself without the fall of mankind. This is so because the creation of a being that could and would think independently from God, even though perfect, meant that such a being would need to know what was the alternative to serving the God that had made it. The Tempter or Serpent simply ignited this question in them by offering them the possibility that something better could be had. Our first parents took the gamble and the result was tragic and indeed, for God, fully expected. A once perfect man and woman would now have to be saved and the only means by which this could be done was the cross of Jesus. God knew this and planned for it before the world began. Consider Paul’s words in Ephesians:

 

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.”

                                                                                                            Ephesians 1:3-4

  1. The need

The God of creation and of the Bible is perfect in love and holiness (1 John 4:7). He is “holy-love” meaning that His character cannot abide selfishness or sin (Habakkuk 1:13). These cannot dwell in His presence and have to be banished and judged; the latter is an expression of His wrath (Romans 1:18). The need that God had and has is that, in dealing with mankind, He has to satisfy the demands of His character because, if He didn’t, He too would become selfish and sinful! Even human judges that fail to dispense proper judgment are accused of corruption and wrong doing; they become like the villains brought before them. God is no villain and therefore He had to find a way to be just (true to His character) and the justifier (the savior) of sinful and fallen humanity.

 

So, to sum it all up; the demands of God’s character are such that we, all rooted in Adam, had to be removed from His presence eternally and placed under His wrath or judgment because of our rebellion against Him. All this means that we could not find our way back to Him because:

  1. We cannot re-embrace His perfection no matter how hard we may try. Even our best efforts cannot bring us close to the glory of God’s character (Romans 3:23). Our good works will just not save us and thus, in terms of salvation, they become dead works that in fact have to be repented of (Hebrews 6:1-2)!
  2. We could not “get out of jail”, as it were, after serving our prison term because the term is eternal. In short we were children of wrath without hope and doomed (Ephesians 2:1-3).

The reality of all of this is that we can do nothing to save ourselves and if we live a good life, as we see it, we will still be separated from God’s presence forever (Ephesians 2:8) Also, we cannot find a champion amongst ourselves who will breach this chasm between God and mankind. When this truth dawned upon the Apostle John we are told that he wept (Revelation 5:1-4). The need that God has is to be true to His character and at the same time merciful to us. Even the angels, knowing well this dilemma, could not envisage a solution to it (1 Peter 1:10-12)

  1. The solution

A savior could not be found and cannot be found on earth from amongst mankind and yet God knew all of this would transpire before He made the world. He thus also knew, before the foundation of the world that He would have to become the solution to sin’s problem if He wanted to gain a family with which He could live eternally. He thus decided in Jesus, the second person of the Godhead, to come into the world and thereby be incarnated in a human body (John 1:14). This “New Adam” would be fully God and fully man and being without sin He could and did die for all of humanity as their representative. He died in our place and thus satisfied the demands of God’s character against us (1 Peter 3:18). His death was therefore a propitiation meaning that it fully satisfied and placated the character of God on our behalf. Paul put it this way:

“…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

                                                                                                            Romans 3:23-26

All this being true the cross is changed from an awful instrument of execution to a glorious symbol of hope and salvation. Its meaning becomes greater than the events surrounding it and thus as Jesus cried out from it, “Tetelestai” meaning, “It is finished” or more correctly “it is paid”, we recognize that our debt has been paid in full and that God our Creator has found a way not only to save us but to demonstrate that He truly is holy-love and can be trusted for eternity (John 3:16) (1 John 4:10). We embrace this with joy and become what He desired us to be from all eternity; His children! Truly Jesus became our “kinsman redeemer” and because of His perfect and sinless life He could lay it down for us and pick it up again by the resurrection; a testimony to His divinity (Romans 1:3-4). Our good works are just like filthy rags before Him and our only hope is what He did for us on the cross (Isaiah 64:6)!

 

In essence God provided a new beginning for us in Christ, the new Adam (1 Corinthians 15:22). If we attach our lives to Him we become everything that God wanted us to be from eternity but if we remain attached to the old Adam we shall die with him. Paul expressed this truth in this way:

“For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.”

                                                                                                                              Romans 5:19

 

The way home to God is only via the cross of Jesus and we rightly embrace it by repenting of our wickedness and trusting fully the finished work done upon it by Jesus on our behalf. There is no other way of salvation (Acts 4:12).

 

  1. The choice

Our choosing of God by exercising faith in Jesus’ finished work on the cross and by real heartfelt repentance for our rebellion against God means that God will declare us to be righteous just like He is righteous. That is, He will justify us meaning; we will be declared guilty but now fully forgiven and henceforth treated by Him as if we had never sinned. All our sins, past present and future, will be removed from us thereby freeing us from all condemnation and He will bring us into a living and real relationship with Himself by Jesus Christ. Romans five sets forth the blessings of being justified by God’s grace in Christ. Paul says that we are:

  1. Reconciled to God
  2. Have peace with Him
  3. Are filled with Joy…….and,
  4. Given real hope, even in great trials, by the Holy Spirit Who lives in us.

Romans 5:1-5

Our Savior fully satisfied the demands of God’s character on our behalf and thereby secured for each one of us the gift of God’s righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21). The Bible states that He tasted death for every man and this is the glory and reach of the cross (Hebrews 2:9). No one need perish eternally (2 Peter 3:9) and to celebrate this truth the veil in the Temple was split from the top to the bottom when Jesus died (Matthew 27:51). God, in Christ, literally came down from heaven and filled our hearts with His love and blessing. The Bible calls the reception of this love and blessing being born again or regenerated by the Holy Spirit (John 3:3; Titus 3:4-6). Those who embrace God’s saving grace in the cross will begin an eternal adventure with Him but those who reject this great saving work of the cross will be forever banished from the presence of God and have their abode in hell; a place initially only prepared for the Devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41).

 

Malcolm Hedding

Jesus is Greater – Week 39 / September 24th

Jesus is Greater – Week 39 / September 24th

2015Devotional


                                                “Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly

                                                calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our

                                                confession, Christ Jesus, who was faithful to Him who

                                                appointed Him, as Moses also was faithful in all His

                                                house. For this One has been counted worthy of more

                                                glory that Moses, inasmuch as He who built the house

                                                has more honor than the house. For every house is

                                                built by someone, but He who built all things is God.

                                                And Moses indeed was faithful in all His house as a

                                                servant, for a testimony of those things which would

                                                be spoken of afterward, but Christ as a Son over His

                                                own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the

                                                confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the

end.”

Hebrews 3:1-6

 

The Book of Hebrews is written to Jewish believers who were tempted, because of peer pressure and persecution, to abandon their faith in Christ. The writer of the book is determined to encourage them and he does so by placing before them the greatness of Jesus. Indeed he opens the book with the startling notion that Jesus is the very Creator and outshining of all that God is. In short, Jesus is God! He then augments this argument by demonstrating that Jesus is God because He is greater than Angels, because the testimony of scripture affirms this and because He is far greater than Moses, the revered Law Giver of Israel. This one of a kind Godman died for our sins and thereby released us from the tyranny of death, delivered us from all demonic power and reconciled us to God, His Father.

 

The main body of the book however sets out to prove that Jesus is greater than Moses and that His work on the cross is a fulfillment of Moses’ work, which by the wilderness tabernacle, was only a picture, though a very glorious one, of all that Jesus would come and do. Moses thus dealt only with pictures and shadows but Jesus entered the more perfect tabernacle of God’s real presence in heaven and there presented His blood as an atonement for the world’s sins. Moses is therefore great, indeed very great, but Jesus is greater! Jesus’ work was real; Moses work was preparatory by nature and therefore only a shadow of the good things to come in Christ. Or, to put it in the writer’s own words: Moses faithfully served God in His house and purpose but Jesus built the real house of God by the spilling of His blood by virtue of His indestructible life. Jesus is therefore greater than Moses and should be listened to because we shall not escape if we neglect the great salvation that Moses only pictured but which Jesus accomplished on the cross.

 

The writer then reminds his readers that great spiritual truths can be neglected and lost because we are weak and prone to drift. So, often it is not deliberate rebellion that takes us away from Christ but neglect and sheer spiritual laziness. Open rebellion will however leave us in a dangerous place as it could so offend God that He will not take us back even if we cry out for it. This is no idle warning! The greatness of Jesus is overwhelming and we must retain it before our spiritual eyes by not growing weary but by looking unto Him every day because He is the author and finisher of our faith. There is no trial or difficulty that should dissuade us from staying true to Him and we must learn to endure all of these because the prize of gaining His glory is worth it all. Jesus is greater!

 

Moreover, retaining Jesus’ greatness in our lives means that we should recognize that His life is given to us through the shared experience of gathering together to worship Him. We must then not neglect our “assembling together”, we must encourage each other as we see the day of His second coming drawing nearer, we must submit to godly leaders, we must draw near to God by regular devotion and we must “consider one another in order to stir up love and good works.”

 

Moses was indeed a very great man. He led over one million people out of Egypt into a wilderness and by the outstretched hand of God, fed them, delivered them, protected them and organized them into a great nation under God. Jesus by contrast has led billions out of the Egypt of sin and has brought them into the very near presence of God. Moses brought His people to a mountain that thundered, smoked and shook with lightning bolts thus striking fear into the hearts of his people but Jesus has led His people into the very near and loving embrace of God. He is just greater!

 

Malcolm Hedding

A Prophecy of the End / Week 35 – September 7th

A Prophecy of the End / Week 35 – September 7th

2015Devotional


 

                                                “At that time Michael shall stand up, the great

                                                prince who stands watch over the sons of your

                                                people; and there shall be a time of trouble,

                                                such as never was since there was a nation,

                                                even to that time. And at that time your

                                                people shall be delivered, every one who is

                                                found written in the book. And many of those

                                                who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake,

                                                some to everlasting life, some to shame and

                                                everlasting contempt. Those who are wise shall

                                                shine like the brightness of the firmament, and

                                                those who turn many to righteousness like the

                                                stars forever and ever.” Daniel 12:1-3

 

Daniel eleven and twelve are the foundation upon which Jesus built His Olivet Discourse. This is not surprising as it was part of the embodiment of scripture that Jesus knew and hence He quoted from it. The Abomination of Desolation is mentioned in chapter eleven of Daniel’s oracle (11:31) and in the context of a coming king from the east, in Daniel’s time a Seleucid being the name of a dynasty that sprung up from one of Alexander’s Generals after his death. This Seleucid, by the name of Antiochus Epiphanes, placed a statue of Zeus in Temple of Jerusalem as a symbol that Greece’s pagan gods were superior to the God of the Jews. In fact Zeus, called Jupiter, by the Romans, is the god worshipped by the pagans of Pergamos, mentioned in the second chapter of John’s Revelation (Revelation 2:13). The citizens of Pergamos built a huge altar/throne to Zeus, which today can be seen in Berlin, but Jesus refers to it as the “throne of Satan.” Zeus or Jupiter is in fact the Devil himself and for centuries he has sought to usurp the God of Israel by enthroning himself on His holy altar site in Jerusalem; the Temple mount! Thus up until today Zeus has gained a foothold on the Temple Mount three times; in 168 BC, in 70 AD and in 135 AD. In terms of the latter the Romans completely destroyed the city of Jerusalem, renamed it Aelia Capitalonia and built a shrine to Jupiter on the holy Temple Mount. According to Jesus’ Olivet Discourse, Jupiter will once more seek to get a foothold on the Temple Mount and again commit the Abomination of Desolation (Matthew 24:15). Paul also made mention of this (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4).

 

In essence this is an attempt to bring in a global religion by which the world can be unified in obedience to a new world political order. The world will be brought under satanic rule for a short period and this does not bode well for the Jews and the Christians everywhere (2 Thessalonians 2:9-10). John’s Revelation warns of this at great length (Revelation 13). We must wake up as the signs of this approaching day are everywhere. In fact this new satanic reality is just about to overtake us as global events in this regard are surging ahead at a pace that very few have the insight to cope with and understand. Huge economic, political and cultural changing events are just around the corner, meaning that all the things we thought were stable and normal to us will be shaken and removed.

 

At the center of this coming storm is, and will be, the tiny nation of Israel. A small people with a very big God will once again be challenged by Zeus and his dark hordes. It is here that Daniel, in his twelfth chapter, tells us that something unique and unprecedented in history will take place. We should note the following:

 

  1. The God of Israel will set the pace and times of history and not Zeus. (Daniel 12:1a)

That is, at the time of huge global change, plunging the nations toward satanic rule, Michael the great Archangel will stand up. Michael is the Archangel of war and his chief role before the God of the Bible is to defend Israel. When nation after nation has declared its opposition to Israel Michael will take his stand; an action by which God is saying, “Enough is enough!”

 

  1. The God of Israel will bring nations to a time of trouble never known or seen before. (Daniel 12:1b)

Jesus Himself warned of this coming day (Matthew 24:21) and I believe this day is rushing toward us; especially because, according to Jesus, the restoration of the Jews to Jerusalem after two thousand years of dispersion, is a sign of the approaching end (Luke 21:24).

 

  1. The God of Israel will deliver His people. (Daniel 12:1c)

Israel will be snatched out of this time of great international distress and she will be delivered. This is not simply national/political deliverance but spiritual deliverance. She will recognize her Messiah, mourn for Him as one mourns over the death of a first-born and she will embrace Him. (Zechariah 12:10) All those entered into God’s great book of life will be saved! Great trial and adversity will drive Israel to the King of Kings, even though on her holy mount in Jerusalem Zeus will proclaim himself once more to be god.

 

  1. The God of Israel will resurrect His family and damn His enemies. (Daniel 12:2)

The salvation and deliverance of Israel will trigger the resurrection of the dead; meaning that in the end, some will be resurrected to life everlasting and others will be resurrected to everlasting damnation. Jesus Himself spoke of this coming day as recorded in John’s Gospel (John 5:25-30). The difference between eternal life and eternal death is what we do with Jesus. We should mark this well.

 

  1. The God of Israel designates the wise. (Daniel 12:3)

The “wise” are those who live to show others the way to life, by their walking and talking. There is nothing more important and more urgent in life. Jesus said that He was, “The way, the truth and the life” and that “no one could come to the Father but by Him.” (John 14:6) We have a little time and we must now be about our father’s business. Those who embark on this holy calling will, “Shine like the brightness of the firmament.”

My friends this is Daniel’s picture of the times now just ahead of us. You must prepare more than ever to suffer hardship and difficulty, but most of all you must keep your eyes on Jesus, “The author and finisher of our faith.”

 

Malcolm Hedding

 

The New Apostolic Movement – Week 33 / August 26th

The New Apostolic Movement – Week 33 / August 26th

2015Devotional


 

“You are already full! You are already rich! You have

                 Reigned as kings without us-and indeed I could wish

                 You did reign, that we also might reign with you.

                                                       1 Corinthians 4:8

 

“And you have tested those who say they are apostles

                   And are not, and have found them liars.”

                                                     Revelation 2:2

 

Once again an old, but theologically camouflaged, error is corrupting the evangelical Church in America and beyond. This message, recently propagated in Nashville, is positive, triumphant and thus infectious but it is wrong and a serious contradiction of scripture. Essentially it believes that the Church must reform society in all aspects and thus, supposedly by the power of Jesus, take dominion over the world. Not until the Church moves into this position will Jesus come again! To support this error the modern version of what is really post-millennialism inflates and exaggerates the impact of the Church on the world today and networks with like-minded individuals, mostly leaders, to set up a world “Apostolate.” Theirs is a message of hope, not based on the return of Jesus, but on the transformation of the world system! This message is so close to the truth because of the biblical terms in which it is framed that the average and unsuspecting Christian is unable to challenge it.

 

By Jesus’ very command we are told to go forth into the world and impact it with the Gospel and transformation is certainly the goal of our proclamation. (Matthew 28:16-20) That is, the transformation of lives not the political, educational, artistic and commercial systems of the world! These new brave apostles are carrying a message of hope, as they put it, for the world and they intend to achieve their agenda by a Pentecostal experience that essentially denies the core message of Pentecost. This core message is that by the Baptism of the Spirit believers in Jesus are empowered to live a sanctified or holy life and they are emboldened and equipped to call people out of the world by the effective preaching of the Gospel. The word for Church in the Greek means “called out ones.” (ekklysia) In contradiction of this, the new apostolic movement is looking for the emergence of a “Super Christian” who by great signs and authority will transform every segment of society. They seek dominion over the world order or as they put it, dominion over the seven mountains of human endeavor, and falsely redefine the nature of the five-fold ministry gifts of Ephesians four to conform to this agenda.

 

But, what of scripture? What does it have to say about our mission and calling?

 

  1. Our Hope

The Bible clearly teaches that the world system is past rehabilitation. In fact it is like a sinking ship and is thus passing away; we cannot transform it! (1 John 2:15-17) If anything we are to come out of it and indeed hasten its destruction by reaching the elect with Jesus’ message of salvation. (Revelation 18:4; 2Peter 3:10-13) So, wherein then does our hope lie? Definitely, not in telling people that there is a bright future for them in the world system. Our blessed hope is the return of Jesus and the resurrection of our weak bodies. (Titus 2:11-15) This is the hope that Paul holds out to believers everywhere in the New Testament. Nothing less and nothing more. (Philippians 3:17-21)

 

  1. Our Weakness

The writer of the Book of Hebrews reminds us that God did indeed promise dominion to man but he forfeited this privilege by the fall. Even “saved man” has not regained this position because he is still weakened by very serious sin and imperfection. (Hebrews 2:5-9) The Author of the book of Hebrews then reminds us that our dominion will only be restored in the age or world to come when we are finally all that God wants us to be. Now, we do not see “man” exercising dominion but we do see Jesus who has gone ahead of us as a forerunner encouraging us to lay hold of Him and thus fully appropriate the saving mercies of His death. In short, Jesus will bring in the “age to come” by His second coming and then we will exercise dominion with Him over the world; not before! (Revelation 2:26-27) According to Paul, all of creation is longing and waiting for this day to arrive. (Romans 8:18-23) The “new dominionists” would have you believe that it has already come! They are wrong, yes very wrong and are leading God’s precious people astray. Indeed, as Paul says, they are already “kings” but they are not reigning in Jesus’ kingdom but that of their own wishful thinking. (1 Corinthians 4:8-9)

 

  1. Our Truth

The emerging church dominionists seek to gain influence wherever they can get it. They will look out for and invite into their apostolic band and network men and women of influence but if you go through their articles of faith, association and incorporation, as I have, you will find no definite word or teaching about Israel! Why? Because a sound biblically based theology on Israel contradicts their dominion thesis. For them the Church will establish the kingdom on earth by the proclamation of the Gospel and the transformation consequently of the educational, artistic, commercial and political structures of the world. This is classic heresy in that they go too far beyond the preaching of the Gospel.

 

The truth is; we proclaim the Gospel to the “whosoever will” knowing that, because of Israel’s unbelief, the nations have an opportunity to be saved; but a process of restoration in the land of Canaan by which the Jews are returned to the land and to the Lord will in fact bring in the true kingdom of God. (Acts 3:17-21) Only when Jesus reigns over the earth from Jerusalem, with a “rod of iron” will there be, for the first time, true transformation of the world system. (Revelation 12:5) The Disciples knew this and asked Jesus about it just before He ascended to the right hand of glory. (Acts 1:6) So the biblical position is that the arrival of the transforming kingdom of God comes to the world through the Jewish people by the Second Coming of Jesus. A thought that really upsets dominionists. For this reason Israel has no significance in their agenda. It’s all about power and the transformation of the world system. The importance of Jerusalem must therefore be diminished by these people and it is here that we witness the depth of their deception.

 

Sadly still is the fact that the emerging church apostles debunk the prophetic scriptures and scoff at those who hold onto them. (2 Peter 3:3-4) They make snide remarks about the book of Revelation and end time books and seek to diminish the urgent teaching of Jesus’ Olivet Discourse and other prophetic passages of scripture by asserting that they have all been fulfilled in AD 70. This theological position is known as the Preterist view of eschatology. One of these preachers recently stated that it is wrong and selfish to tell your thirteen year old son that Jesus is coming soon. They will have you believe that no one knows when Jesus is coming. They are wrong, do not listen to them! Firstly, we do not know the day or hour of His coming but we definitely know the season. (1 Thessalonians 5:1) Jesus’ soon coming interferes with, and contradicts, the long term agenda of the dominionists and therefore they have to debunk it and with it the significance of a Jewish return to Jerusalem. A unique sign that Jesus gave pointing to His second coming. (Luke 21:24)

 

  1. Our Safety

The so called new apostolic movement recognizes people that have no apostolic credentials and actually twists these to fit in with their framework. An Apostle, according to scripture, is one that is sent. That is, he or she is a missionary who actually, by signs and wonders, plants churches, sets them in order, gives oversight to them and has an apostolic band of Ephesians 4 ministries (prophets, evangelists, pastors, apostles and teachers)   that serves them and protects them theologically. (2 Corinthians 12:11-13; Ephesians 4:11-16) In short an Apostle goes to virgin soil and therein plants the Kingdom of God. (2 Corinthians 10:12-18) He is not an Apostle simply because he took over something which others have labored over and built. Paul was called to be an Apostle meaning that it was more of a servant designation than a title. (Romans 1:1-7) Today these new apostles very much like to be called Apostles. Jesus wrote to the Church at Ephesus and applauded them for putting so called Apostles to the test. (Revelation 2:2) Apostles must fit the biblical model; this is our safety!

 

Conclusion

Dominion theology rests on the notion that a great revival is coming before Jesus comes again. They lay great emphasis on this coming great revival but Jesus only taught that the Gospel will be preached as a witness to all nations and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:14) My Bible does not teach an end time revival; in fact it states the exact opposite. Indeed Jesus said that just before He comes again the hearts of many so called Christians will grow cold and possibly He will not find “the faith” on the earth when He comes. (Matthew 24:12; Luke 18:8) He also taught that Christians will be hated by all nations before He comes. (Mark 13:14) Hardly a picture of the Church ruling the world and exercising dominion over it. Paul echoed the same thoughts when he wrote that one of the great signs of Jesus’ coming will be a great falling away. (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3) Now, this does not mean that we are going to huddle together as a defeated little flock and not aggressively proclaim the Gospel. We must be full of faith, joy and zeal and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus and encourage those who believe to be salt and light in their sphere of influence but we must not resort to false teaching and theories that are just not found in scripture. These, if not corrected, will play into the great delusion of the end time because we did not love the truth! (2 Thessalonians 2:11-12) As Christians we must be zealous for good works (Ephesians 2:8-10) and by so doing alleviate the pain and suffering of our broken world; but we do this not because we want to rule the world but rather because we are driven by the compassion of Christ. It is this compassion that drove Christians to build schools, orphanages and hospitals in times past. They were not seeking to rule but to heal! Even so Lord Jesus come quickly.

 

Malcolm Hedding

 

Note:

Preterism was first expounded as a theological system by the Jesuit Luis de Alcazar in an attempt to counter the claims of the Reformation.