Archive | April 2015

From the Pastor’s Pen

Hebrews 8:1-6

Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man. For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices. Therefore it is necessary that this One also have something to offer. For if He were on earth, He would not be a priest, since there are priests who offer the gifts according to the law; who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, “See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.” But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.           NKJV

Our passage speaks of the superiority of Jesus’ high priesthood over that of the Old Testament high priests. As the believer’s High Priest, Jesus ministers in Heaven as opposed to ministering in an earthly tabernacle (vs. 1-2). The Old Testament high priests who ministered on behalf of the people entered into an earthly tabernacle made of animal skins (v.4). In contrast, Jesus has entered into Heaven itself; into the presence of God the Father (v.1, Heb. 4:14). The earthly tabernacle was but an imperfect copy of Heaven and all it contains (v.5). The Old Testament high priest was but an imperfect copy of Christ; the tabernacle furniture was but a picture of the person and work of Jesus; the veil was a representation of the cherubim that surround the throne of God; the mercy seat was but a copy of God’s throne; and the blood of the Old Testament sacrifices were but a foreshadowing of Christ’s blood.

As the believer’s High Priest, Jesus offers both gifts and sacrifices (v.3). The Old Testament high priests offered gifts of grain offerings for thanksgiving and dedication to God. Likewise, Jesus offered His prayers and His life in thanksgiving and dedication to His heavenly Father (Jn. 17:1,4; Phil. 2:8). The Old Testament high priests also offered sacrifices for sin unto God. Likewise, Christ offered Himself up once as a sacrifice for sins forever (Heb. 10:12).

As the believer’s High Priest, Jesus is the mediator (go-between) of a better covenant that the Old Covenant (v.6). There are three reasons why the New Covenant is better than the Old Covenant.

First, the New Covenant is a covenant of grace (undeserved favor) rather than a covenant of law. Mankind is unable to keep the laws of God which were under the Old Covenant (Rom. 3:23), so Jesus has kept them for us under the New Covenant (Heb. 4:15).

Second, the New Covenant has an eternal high priest. The Old Testament high priests kept dying off and had to continually be replaced, but since Jesus lives forever, He is able to offer eternal intercession for the believer (Heb. 7:22-25).

Third, the sin offering of the New Covenant is acceptable unto God. The Old Testament high priests could not offer themselves up for the sins of the people because they too were sinners (Heb. 7:27). Neither were the animals they offered up a suitable sacrifice for the sins of human beings (Heb. 10:4). But Jesus, who became a perfect, sinless human being was able to go to the cross and offer Himself up as a perfect, acceptable sacrifice for our sins (Heb. 10:5-14).

Jesus Christ is the perfect, sinless Lamb of God (Jn. 1:29). Have you repented of your sins and trusted Him as your personal Savior and High Priest?

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From the Pastor’s Pen

Matthew 7:15-29

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.           NKJV

My wife and I have been going through Content to Be Good, Called to be Godly by Janet Denison as part of our daily devotionals. In the book, Mrs. Denison, who is a Pastor’s wife, makes some very astute observations about the passage which I felt led to share with my readers.

           This warning from Jesus is critical. Every church has both sheep and wolves sitting in the pews. The wolves dress and sound just like the sheep, but they wear a disguise of faithfulness . . . How do you identify the wolves? More importantly, how do you keep yourself from becoming one? The answer to both questions is by prayerfully becoming a fruit inspector.
           When I speak, I love to use this illustration. I set two apples on the podium. One of the apples is real and the other is artificial. No one in the audience can distinguish the difference until I ask someone to come up and inspect the fruit. Close up, the differences are unmistakable. Wolves dressed like sheep look almost identical to real sheep. The only way we can detect the difference is by looking closely.
         Then I hold up both apples and describe them. The artificial fruit is perfect in appearance. There are no bruises or breaks in the skin. Often the artificial apple appears to be in better shape than the real one. My artificial apple doesn’t have a stem. It was never attached to a tree and so it never needed one. A real apple is created because it was attached to a tree that produces an apple. Artificial fruit can sit in a bowl and look good for years. With a little dusting, this plastic fruit will maintain its fresh and “tasty” appearance. Real fruit doesn’t need maintenance for the best appearance—it requires sustenance.
           An artificial witness can often look better than a genuine witness. The artificial witness seems flawless and is “stem free.” It makes sense because a false witness is manufactured, not grown. A real witness cannot be manufactured; God Himself must create him. What strengthens and sustains your witness: you or God?
           But the real difference between my two apples is the weight. One apple is much lighter than the other because it is hollow. The same is true with a person’s faith. Just like people who reach for artificial fruit when they are hungry and walk away disappointed and unsatisfied, many people lead Christian lives that are hollow, unable to benefit anyone. Only real fruit can feed people when they are hungry. Seeds can be found only in the center of a real apple. Real apples produce other apples; real Christians produce other Christians. Does your witness result in the fruit of other people coming to know Jesus as Lord and Savior of their lives?
           What does it mean to be a fruit inspector? It means you look closely at a person’s life to identify whether that person is a sheep, or a wolf disguised as a sheep. You won’t be able to tell unless you have the chance to inspect his or her life. Most wolves carefully limit their exposure to spiritual situations. When surrounded by real sheep, their disguise is easier to notice. Wolves might have the appearance of faith, but they are unable to produce the fruit of a godly witness. In truth, they often feed on the sheep. Significantly, wolves produce other wolves, not sheep.           Janet Denison

These are sobering thoughts based on Jesus’ warning concerning wolves in sheep’s clothing and the lack of spiritual fruit in their lives. Let this be a warning to us to carefully examine the fruit of our lives. Are we real sheep? Or wolves in sheep’s clothing?