google-site-verification: google3e8cc4742c5fd8a2.html Sermon - A God of Joy and His people - Part 3
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A God of Joy and His people

Part 3

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3. Today

Read Hebrews 2v14-18

Holy Barrier

I wonder what the biggest fence, wall or barrier is that you have either seen! Perhaps one of the biggest walls in the world is the Great Wall of China. It is over 4000 miles long, about 25 feet high and up to 30 feet thick! It is huge!! I have seen it both up close and from the air! It was originally built to keep out invaders - for that is what walls and barriers do: Keep out enemies!

However big the Great Wall of China is, there is one barrier that is even bigger!  Just as it was for ancient Israel, it is for us today.   The biggest barrier to exist is the one that separates God from all His creation. This barrier is holiness, for God is a holy God and people are inherently not!  The prophet Ezekiel gives a vivid picture of the holiness of God and describes it as a fire, a bright light, radiance, full of glory and majesty.

If that is holiness, what is sin? Sin is both a heavy burden. Sin is like also toxic virus of the soul and affects every person.  It is more deadly than Ebola, HIV and Spanish flu - combined.  Sin inevitably leads to death and sin is anti-God!  Sin is disobedience of God.  Sin is also not doing what is right!  With God there is no big or small sin - sin size is a human construct! However, some sins do cause God to grieve more than others.

Holy People!

If only people declared holy can enter God's presence, how are we made holy?  How can we, as mortal unholy people, enter into the presence of God and live? What does atonement, if anything, mean for us in the 21st century?

Chapters 9 & 10 of the book of Hebrews are the best commentary you can find on Leviticus 16.  In there we see that Jesus Christ is our scapegoat and takes the immense burden of our sins on himself!  Aaron was a type of servant king but Jesus was the ultimate servant king! Aaron, as Chief Priest, offered sacrifices for the cleansing of sin, but Jesus Christ himself was both the sacrifice and the Chief Priest.  Jesus Christ became sin! We see the annually repeated Day of Atonement becoming the unique Day of Calvary, as Jesus' death is an atoning and substitutionary sacrifice, which makes amends to God for the sins of the world.  Jesus alone gives life and offers life to the full - a life borne from grace and not from Law.

At the time of Jesus' death, the curtain to the Holy of Holies in the Temple, the Tabernacles successor in Jerusalem, was torn in two from top to bottom to symbolise that access to God was now open!  The blood of bulls and goats could never take away sin, as God never wanted sacrifices in the first place! God desired obedience over sacrifice - all the time! The sacrifices of Leviticus were only in situ because the ancient Israelites sinned, they were disobedient towards God and His desires! God wanted obedience, and obedience as we know, goes on to give praise to Almighty God and gives testimony to His goodness!

Declared Holy!

Lets now, quickly compare the Levitical Sacrifices and Jesus' Sacrifices!

Levitical Sacrifices: Performed repeatedly by earthly priests who stood. Their work was unending as they laboured on earth and their sacrifices could never take away sin.

Jesus' Sacrifice: He offered one sacrifice. Jesus now sits at God's right hand in power and glory with His earthly work now complete. His sacrifice achieved its goal of fulfilment and made his followers holy!

At the cross of Jesus Christ on Calvary, the Old Covenant was fulfilled and the New Covenant ushered in! This New Covenant assures those who follow Jesus Christ have

  • Forgiveness!
  • Peace!
  • Reconciled to God
  • Declared right and just before God!
  • Cleansed from sin!
  • Free from the slavery to sin!
  • Intercedes for us!
  • Given the Spirit to dwell inside!
  • Granted direct access to God the Father, through the Son in the power of the Holy Spirit

With His own blood, rather than that of an animal, Jesus became the only atoning sacrifice that is perfectly acceptable to God, and it's only by His blood that was shed on that hill of Calvary that makes people holy.  While the Levitical sacrifices were needed to be done over and over again, Jesus' sacrifice on the cross was a once and for all sacrifice - never to be repeated!  Because of Jesus Christ's sacrificial death and His subsequent resurrection, we have access to God and we have been declared holy and innocent! But only if we have made a conscious decision to follow Him

Perfect holiness, has been revealed in Jesus Christ, and Him alone.  If you are a Christian, you have been declared holy because you now wear Jesus Christ's robe of righteousness!  It was given to you as a gift of grace! That is because of what Jesus did on the cross and in His resurrection.  Jesus Christ has broken down the barrier between God and humanity once and for all, by His sacrificial death.

That's why we celebrate Jesus' death around the communion table and that's why the bread and the wine are only symbolic of His flesh and blood.  If the bread and wine did turn into the actual flesh and blood of Jesus Christ as some churches proclaim, then we would be sacrificing Jesus Christ all over again. If you are a Christian, you are declared holy, and therefore you are to live a holy life - a life worthy of Jesus Christ!

Live Holy!

As a Christian, the Holy Spirit is living inside you, changing and transforming you into the very image of the holy one, Jesus Christ.  Your transformation into that image of Jesus Christ, is the greatest evidence, not only of the work of the Holy Spirit but also of you being a Christian living an obedient life to God.  As a Christian, you are no longer an enemy of God but a friend of God and belong to God!  As Christians, we are to live a life of obedience to God - casting off all that hinders and seeks to stop us.  And if we fall into disobedience, we can confess our sin to the Father, through the name of the Son and in the power of the Spirit and get right back up again, knowing we are forgiven - totally amazing!

As Christians, we are called to be joyfully obedient to the Lord, serving Him in every aspect of life! In doing so, our whole lives will be acceptable worship to God and not just at a Sunday meeting.  Our worship is to be a lifestyle of conscious decisions, reflecting our devotion to a God with whom we are to be in a dynamic and intimate relationship with.  This lifestyle will affect the way we work, rest and play!

As instruments in God's orchestra of joy, we are to be loyal to Him - the joy giver!  We are to obey with joyful, effervescent vigour and reflect a living God to a society out there, which is in darkness.  They will know we are Christians by the way we act - actions of obedience to God, signified by the love we have for each other and them.  Love in action by supplying people's needs, both on an individual and church basis.

We are called to follow God and not to succumb to the temptations, which seek to mar our relationship with the God who lives inside us.  Go into this week, to obey and serve the Lord with faithful obedience!

But if you are not a Christian here tonight, then please do make yourself known to us afterwards and we would love to talk to you about becoming a Christian. While you have breath, it's not too late to start this life of joyful obedience to a loving God and enter into a living and dynamic relationship of true Joy with Him.  Don't leave it so late that you incur God's judgement for your sins and have everlasting separation from Him and others! God does indeed love you and He is calling you to come into a dynamic relationship of true joy with Him today. Take the opportunity today - come and follow Jesus Christ. He is calling you to respond!

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