Thursday, April 09, 2009
Current Study: A to Z
Today’s Topic: One More “Z”
Today’s Scripture: Hebrews 12:22-24 But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
The next four days are the most significant days of celebration in the Christian faith. Tonight many will gather and celebrate the Last Supper. Tomorrow people will stream to churches and auditoriums to commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus. Early Sunday morning there will be those who attend sunrise services to celebrate Christ’s resurrection. Others will attend worship at the normal time, but the service will be far from normal.
This Sunday at our church we will be celebrating the new life found in Christ by witnessing three people get baptized by immersion as a statement of their faith in Jesus Christ. All three are new followers of Jesus. All three now understand that faith is not just a religion, but a relationship with the living God based on the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. His work fully satisfied the wrath of God against our sin, making it possible for us to be forgiven and declared “not guilty” by a righteous and just God. The resurrection of Jesus guarantees that God’s forgiveness results in eternal life. One day, when Jesus returns to the earth to gather together all those who belong to Him by faith, we will see Him face to face and behold Him in all of His glory. HALLELUJAH!
God is a just God, and all sin must be punished with death. The holiness of God and His wrath against sin and sinners is to be feared above all else. In the Old Testament when the people of God under the leadership of Moses came to the mountain God had set up as a meeting place, they were terrified. Moses himself said, “I am trembling with fear.” But in Christ all fear is gone. We will never stand on a mountain where God judges sin. Read with rejoicing the words of Hebrews – But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. Because of the blood of Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant of forgiveness and grace, we who believe and receive have been saved from God’s wrath and will live forever with Him in Zion.
One of the people being baptized on Sunday wrote the following testimony on the blog site where they track the progress of their son who suffers from some serious medical issues. She gave me permission to reprint it here. This is what the death and resurrection of Jesus are all about.
First of all I promise not to complain about being tired one little bit later today. So let’s get to why in the world I am updating Caring Bridge just after midnight. The reason is because a few hours ago I began reading a book. I finished it just now. Why would I, a mother who values sleep (a tricky thing to capture in this house some nights) stay awake reading when clearly I could put the book away and resume reading tomorrow? The answer simply is that the story is so profound and relevant that I was compelled to finish. There is nothing left to chance in this world. The book that was placed in my hands today, the book that I needed to read before my life this Easter week could continue was: “He Chose the Nails” by Max Lucado. It took me on a walk to Calvary. It painted pictures in my mind about what that walk would look like; what the pain may have felt like, and most importantly…why it happened and for whom it was meant. There is nothing left to chance. He chose the cross for you and for me, but left us with the will to choose for ourselves.
Jordan and I are to be baptized this Sunday at Calvary Baptist. To be honest when Pastor John asked if we’d consider doing it on Easter Sunday we both were unsure. Not because we weren’t sure that we had accepted Jesus’ gift of salvation, but because the day itself is so meaningful. I can’t speak for Jordan of course, but after reading this book tonight I understand that being baptized this Sunday is the only day that makes sense for me. My salvation originated from Jesus dying in my place on that cross on the hill called Calvary. All of my sins I lay at his feet and with tears that can only be described as gratitude (because my human words are inadequate) I pray that I can live my life in a way that pleases Him; draws Him closer to me; and never allows me to forget that He “chose the nails” for me.
She has come to Mount Zion and found the grace of God. So has her husband. So can you. Do not let this Easter celebration be a mere religious holiday. Do not just go through the motions of a new dress or suit and a nice ham dinner. My prayer is that you will discover the cost of the cross – the life of Jesus who died for your sins, and that you will discover the reality of the resurrection by inviting the living Christ to live in you. He’s alive…and because He lives, we too shall live!