Posts Tagged ‘Heir’

Hebrews: Jesus is Better!

Jesus Is Better

© 12/6/2016 C. O. Bishop THCF 12/18/2016

Hebrews 1: 1-3

Introduction:

Today we will begin a study through the book of Hebrews. This epistle has endured controversy over the years regarding the identity of the writer. The consensus over the centuries has mostly been that the writer was the Apostle Paul, and most Bibles have that printed as part of the title.

However, unlike every other Pauline Epistle, there is no introductory line stating that Paul is the writer, and greeting the recipients with “Grace be unto you, and Peace…” etc. Some have therefore attributed this epistle to Apollos, or some other writer. I tend to think it is Paul, anyway, because of some internal evidence: comments that seem to uniquely fit Paul’s life. There is no clear proof either way, so I will drop that issue, and leave it for others to haggle over. The book was clearly written before AD 70, as a good deal of it regards the temple in Jerusalem, and its service, and there is no mention made of the temple’s destruction (which happened in AD 70). So, most historians tentatively place it at about AD 64, but we can’t be certain.

The general theme is the idea that “Jesus is Better”. The writer shows the infinite superiority of Christ, over seven key aspects of Judaism. He also issues seven warnings to “dabblers” who seem to be believers, but who evidently are just “along for the ride”, and not actually “entering in” by faith. The warnings grow more and more serious, throughout the book. There are forty exhortations of one sort or another, and a great deal of teaching. It is not an easy book to study because there are passages that can be easily misunderstood, if not carefully compared with the rest of the Bible. We will try to address those problematic passages as they arise.

It is interesting, to me, however, that there is almost no teaching in the book of Hebrews on how to be saved, only multiple warnings and exhortations to not miss out on it. Evidently the writer knew his audience, and knew they were aware that salvation was offered as a gift, and of how it must be received. There is also very little teaching on “what the Church is”, or “how it is to function;” only on who Christ is, compared to the Earthly or Heavenly “star-players” of the Old Testament. So, Jesus is better than:

  1. The Prophets (Hebrews 1:1-3)
  2. The Angels (1:4-14; 2:5-18)
  3. The Prophet and Lawgiver, Moses (3:2-6)
  4. The Sabbath (4:1-16; 5:1-10)
  5. The Priesthood (7:4-28; 8:1-6; 9:11)
  6. The Old Covenant (“He is the mediator of a better covenant.”) (8:6-13; 9:1-28)
  7. The Old Testament Sacrifices (He is a better sacrifice) (9:11-14, 23, 28; 10:1-12)

In every case, Jesus was demonstrated to be far superior to whomever or whatever he was to be compared…hence, the thematic choice, “Jesus is better.

An Abrupt Beginning

The opening lines of the Epistle to the Hebrews actually form one of the problems that make people wonder who the author is: All of Paul’s other epistles begin with a fairly consistent greeting; blessing the recipients and identifying the writer.

The Epistle to the Hebrews dispenses with formalities, so to speak; it makes no “introduction” as to the writer or the recipients, nor even to the theme, but simply slams right into the theme itself. It is interesting to me that the Old Testament Hebrew writings sometimes do the same thing. (Genesis 1:1, for example.) Possibly the reason this book is so different in style is specifically because it is the only epistle Paul wrote for a non-Gentile audience. In Romans 11:13 Paul cheerfully identifies himself as “the apostle to the Gentiles”. So, all of his writings to the Gentiles followed Gentile formats. We have another example by an unbelieving Roman centurion, (Acts 23:35, ff,) and it follows a similar form. So, I am comfortable with the differences between this epistle and the others written by Paul. Most, if not all, of the differences can be attributed to the difference in the intended recipients.

By verse two we can see that a comparison is being made between the Old Testament Prophets and Jesus, with Jesus being shown to be so far superior that no further comment is made. No argument is offered: He is simply shown to be God, while the prophets were simply the mouthpieces or spokesmen for God. In the same short chapter, the angelic hosts are shown to be a servant-class creation, while Jesus is shown to be their Creator and Master; but we will pursue that subject at a later date.

Though the majority of the epistle is written to genuine believers, there are seven warnings to professing believers (sometimes intermingled with exhortations to believers), scattered throughout the whole book:

  1. Don’t neglect the salvation that is being offered. (2:1-4)
  2. Don’t harden your heart. (3:7-4:1)
  3. Don’t fail, through unbelief, to enter in. (4:1)
  4. Don’t fall away, despising the sacrifice of Christ (6:1-9)
  5. Don’t attempt to fall back on the sacrifices…they no longer work. (10:26-31; 35-39)
  6. Don’t opt out for temporal gain. (12:16)
  7. Don’t refuse to hear (respond to) Him. (12:25-29)

There are also about 40 exhortations to believers, which we will address as they arise.

I will be quoting from the KJV. You are welcome to read along in any translation you like.

Hebrews Chapter One: God Speaks to Man

The writer begins with the “Author of all things”—God. Both Genesis and John begin with the same individual. I think it is an effective approach, especially in dealing with an audience of professing Hebrew believers, to begin with the central person of all Eternity: God.

God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,

Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
In various ways and at various times, God has approached Man. We cannot approach Him unless He first reaches out to us. Think about it: He is invisible, so that we don’t know where to look; and He’s absolutely Holy, so as to be completely separate from the fallen race of Man. We can only see the effects of His power, and marvel from a distance at His obvious wisdom and splendor. We have no real way to approach God: God had to approach Man.

Even in the Garden of Eden, God called to Adam, “Where art thou?not the other way around. All through the Old Testament, God reached out to Mankind, meeting us where we lived. And it has continued so today. God says in Psalm 14, and reiterates in Romans 3, that “…there is no one who seeks after God.” We have a hard time with that idea: we insist, “Oh, yes we do!” But the fact is that we only seek after that “missing something”, in each of our lives; perhaps motivated by a longing for meaning and direction and Peace; but, most certainly not seeking the Creator and Judge of all the Universe. We fear Him; we flee from Him, and we reject him at every turn, until He comes and confronts us. (E.g. John 1:11, 12; Acts 9:1-6)

God had sent prophets, many times, throughout the centuries, but they were usually rejected, and were frequently murdered. So, God himself changed the game. After thousands of years of sending prophets, judges, and deliverers at various levels; speaking unto the Fathers (the patriarchs) by the prophets, He finally sent “God in the Flesh:” God the Son. He spoke to the prophets in a variety of ways: out of the air, from a burning bush, from the glory in the tabernacle, and from a towering column of thundering smoke at Mount Sinai… but the prophets were sent to speak to the patriarchs. Who did He send to us? Jesus!

Jesus is Better Than the Prophets

He says that, “in these last days”, he has spoken to us by His Son. But not just any son… the only begotten Son—the heir, “whom He hath appointed heir of all things”. And, lest we forget just who that Son really is (not just a Jewish Carpenter), he reminds us that it is Jesus who carried out the creation of the universe. (Greek “aeonas”—the ages…this is not the Greek word “kosmos”, which can mean a world or a world system. But we see in Genesis that the “time-pieces” (Sun, moon, and stars) were created after the creation of the earth that we inhabit. So, if Jesus is the creator of the ages…all time as well as the whole earth, as we will see, then he is truly the Creator of the universe.) Also; though we see things from the perspective of those locked in time and space, God sees from Eternity, the eternal “Now,” and He decreed before the foundation of the Earth that the Only Begotten Son was to be the means of our salvation. Jesus is “Plan A”—and there is no “Plan B.” (Ephesians 1:4; 3:8-11; 1st Peter 1:20)

He goes on to describe the person and work of Jesus Christ in astonishing ways, so that any reader can see the unquestionable superiority of the Son, but in ways that are especially tailored for Jewish readers:

Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high:

What Does He Say?

  • He says that Jesus is the brightness of the Glory of God. (Think about the tabernacle! Remember how the Glory of God shone out from the Tabernacle so brightly that no one could go in? That was Jesus, personally showing up to bless the new structure, though it was just a tent at that point! Later, in the great Temple of Solomon, the same thing happened: The “Shekinah” Glory shone out. Jesus is the Brightness of God’s Glory!)
  • He says that Jesus is the exact manifestation of the Father. (Compare John 14:8-11) We have a hard time with this, because it exceeds our imagination, but the Jews had an even harder time, as they denied that it was possible for a man to be God, or for God to become a man. And yet, had they thought it over, they would have realized that God had many times appeared in the form of a man in their history. He had eaten with them, fought for them, and wrestled with one of the patriarchs! If they read Zechariah 12:1-10, they should have even seen that the one that was pierced was Jesus…and Jehovah!
  • He says that the Word of Jesus is what is “upholding all things”…maintaining the Universe… (Compare Colossians 1:15-17: “holding everything together”.)
  • The Greek word for “Power”, here, is “dunamis”, not the word for authority—“exousia”. This refers to the sheer magnitude of His ability. And yet, he does it by His Word.
  • He says that Jesus himself purged the sins of the human race…he alone did it. There is no other work to be done. The sinner can add nothing to the completed work of Jesus at the Cross. His blood stands for eternity as the full payment for the sins of the Human race. His work is finished!
  • He further says that when Jesus had accomplished that task, he sat down at the right hand of the majesty on high. (Note—in the tabernacle, or the temple (our only glimpses into the “arrangement” of the throne room of God) the Ark of the Covenant was the only piece of furniture in the inner sanctum, the Holy of Holies. If Jesus completed his High-priestly duties, where could he sit? Especially, how could he sit down “at the right hand of God?” The answer is that he is God, and has the right to sit between the cherubim, on the Mercy Seat, in the place of God. Consider John 5:22) Further, the Old Testament high priests could never sit down. Their work could never be completed, even had there been a place to sit.

To me, these are mind-boggling premises. And the writer did not ease up on the ideas, or even try to “build a case,” culminating in the explanation of these facts. He simply, bluntly stated them, and allowed the Jewish readers to draw their own conclusions. The Jewish believers, then and now, were pretty awed by the prophets…and rightfully so. But the writer of the book of Hebrews immediately points out that Jesus surpasses the Prophets in every way.

Conclusion

If we haven’t already caught on to the identity of Jesus Christ, we need to open our eyes and see it! Paul spoke to a mixed audience: not all of them really knew the enormity of who Jesus is/was. Some still had the idea that he was just the most recent in a long line of Jewish Prophets. Some may have thought that he was some sort of exalted spiritual being, along the lines of an angel. The writer gives no room for such thoughts.

Who do you say that he is? Jesus asked that question of the disciples, and Peter responded, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” That turned out to be a great answer.

But there are those who are uncomfortable with it. John 1:1-14 reveals that Jesus is God in the Flesh, and Hebrews 1:1-14 reveals the same truth in more stark terms. We cannot relegate Jesus to a lesser status than who he really is. He has to be one of the following:

  1. The Almighty God, the Creator, who became a Man, so that He could die in our place,
  2. A lesser god of some sort, or
  3. Not a god at all.

Some people diminish Jesus to the state of a demi-god…a great spiritual being of some sort. This means he was not truly Man (which would disqualify Him as Savior) nor was He truly God (which would also disqualify Him as Savior.) So the religions and philosophies that deny His deity also have to deny him as Savior. (By the way, one of these groups, which lifts its name from Isaiah 43:10, where it says “I am Jehovah and you are my witnesses” in their Bible, ignore the next few verses, which say that there has never been another God before or after Him, and that apart from Him there is no savior!

Others go further and declare him to be only a man, possibly a good man, but deluded, at best. Some even go a step further and deny that he ever existed at all, as though he were simply a creature of mythology and wishful thinking…perhaps like Santa Claus. Not only would both of these accusations completely disqualify him as savior, they fly in the face of history.

The secular historians of Jesus’ time knew who he was. They denied his deity, but they surely knew of his existence. And the many thousands who believed on him in the first century were martyred because they knew who and what Jesus was, and because they believed in Him. Theirs was not a faith built on hearsay. They had known him personally, and had personally witnessed the crucifixion and the resurrection. People don’t willingly sacrifice their lives for something they know to be a lie. They knew the truth.

The fact is, we know the truth too! So we need to live as those who know the truth, and who, by that truth, have been set free to serve the Living God. As we study through Hebrews, we can be set free by the sure knowledge of the Person of Christ. It seems especially appropriate to think on these truths, at this season of Christmas, when we commemorate His birth. The following song by Mark Lowry, addresses this question:

Mary, Did you Know?

Mary, did you know that your baby boy would some day walk on water?
Mary did you know that your baby boy would save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you’ve delivered, will soon deliver you.

Mary did you know that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will calm a storm with his hand?
Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
And when your kiss your little baby, you have kissed the face of God.

Oh Mary did you know

The blind will see, the deaf will hear, the dead will live again.
The lame will leap, the dumb will speak the praises of the lamb?

Mary did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary did you know that your baby boy would one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb?
This sleeping child you’re holding is the great “I AM!”

Personally, I find that concept absolutely beyond comprehension! But that is the Truth! The One whom we have come to know, and trust as our Savior.

Lord Jesus, lift up our eyes to see your face. Help us to see you in your humanity, but just barely cloaking your full deity. It is hard, perhaps impossible, for us to understand your deity, Help us to accept that truth, and see your face in the Scriptures as well as in the Creation.


Son or Servant?

Son or Servant?  Slave or Free?

C. O. Bishop 4/9/15 THCF 4/12/15

Galatians 4:19-31

Introduction:

We have been talking about the problems associated with legalism so long I am beginning to fear that folks will think that is all I want to talk about. But as we read the Book of Galatians, we can see that Paul spent the better part of four chapters outlining the difference between Law and Grace, the dangers of legalism, the trap that it sets for the new or untaught believer, and the character or condition of those who spread such doctrine. He has minced no words—he has been quite blunt.

He has pronounced God’s curse on those who corrupt the Gospel of Grace by adding works as a condition of salvation, he has told the Galatian believers that the Law has never been a means of salvation, but rather a curse, as it only reveals the lostness of the human race. He has told them that through Jesus’ fulfilling the Law, he, Paul, had been made dead to the Law, but alive to God. He has told them that if it was possible to gain a right standing with God through works of any kind, then Jesus died for nothing.

Paul has explained the issue of what it meant to be a child of Abraham, pointing out that Abraham lived more than 400 years before the Law was given, and that the promised “seed” was singular, not plural. The Promised Seed was actually Christ, and we are to be made part of Him by faith, and so we become the children of Abraham by faith—not physical, as the Jewish offspring of Abraham claim to be, and are, but the spiritual offspring, and in a completely different category. Now Paul is addressing those believers as children.

Paul’s Concern for His “Kids”:

Paul claims these believers as his own offspring, since he is the one who led many of them to Christ. But he has some misgivings about their response to false teaching, and is wondering whether they are really born again, all of them, or just going along with the group in some cases.

19 My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,

 20 I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I stand in doubt of you.

This is a third word for “children” used here: the Greek word “teknia”—born-ones—offspring. Paul is claiming them as his spiritual offspring, and so they are, since he led them to Christ. He says that he is “in labor” again, as if they were being born again all over again. He is not sure where they stand, or who they really are. He wished that he could be there, face to face with them, and could express his heart to them more clearly. For my part, I am grateful that he could not, since it meant that we have this letter today.

Now Paul has one last major point to make regarding Law and Grace: The difference in the implied relationship between the believer and God. He uses a well-known Old Testament account to demonstrate that Law corresponds to slavery, while Grace corresponds to freedom, and son-ship. He begins by saying, in effect, “All right, then: if you like Law, let’s talk about the Law! He says:

21 Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law?

“Law-keeping” Exposed: An Allegory Revealed

Paul knows from his own experience, as well as from the Word of God, that any human claiming to keep the Law, is being very “selective” in their thinking. He knows they have not obeyed the whole law, nor do they really intend to do so.

22 For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman.

Now here is something we might not have seen apart from God revealing it. The only thing I could have said for sure is that Abraham took advantage of what seemed an “opportunity to fulfill God’s promise” (annnnd, coincidentally, a real opportunity to gratify the flesh: to have sex with a younger woman, not only legally, but with his wife’s consent…in fact it was her idea!) Must have seemed like a great idea at the time…. But it was NOT God’s idea, and Abraham neglected to ask whether it was right. So, he went ahead, and, in doing so, he set up the genealogy for the largest group of enemies his people, the Jews, would ever have. The Children of Ishmael, Abraham’s son by Hagar, have bitterly resented the Children of Isaac, his son by Sarah (specifically the Jews), for centuries. And today they completely surround the Jewish state:  by their own admission, they seek to wipe Israel from the face of the earth. (Thanks, Abe!)

But…God was also setting up an object lesson, by which we are expected to see the differences between the miraculous work that God does through faith, and the natural work that we can accomplish on our own. God is in the business of carrying out miraculous work in the lives of believers, not simply saving us and then turning us loose to do the works on our own. The difference pointed out is the difference between work of the flesh—which any natural man can accomplish, and the work of God, which only He can do. Law-keeping fits in the former category…Grace fits in the latter.

23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise.

What Abraham accomplished with Hagar was completely natural…even an old fossil like Abraham could have relations with a young woman who was still of child-bearing age, and produce a child. Where’s the miracle in that? What is supernatural about an old man getting a young woman pregnant? Especially since she was a slave and had no choice in the matter? (When you think of it in that way, it is not a very attractive picture, is it? Bear in mind that this was truly Sarah’s idea, and is emulated later by Jacob’s wives. The issue was not whether it was illegal, or even immoral, but whether it was of God. Yes, it was Sarah’s idea but Abraham was definitely a willing participant.)

Sarah, on the other hand, though a free-woman, was past the age of child-bearing, and could not be reasonably expected to conceive. So, in order for that union to bear fruit, God had to step in and supernaturally rejuvenate her body…which He eventually did!

The Allegory:

The result of the paired conceptions, one natural, the other supernatural, is an object lesson for us today: and one that God set up, using human failure as the starting point.

24 Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.

Please bear in mind that this is God talking through Paul; this is not just Paul’s opinion. God says there was an allegory there for us to see and learn. This not license to claim that every passage of scripture is allegorical, so that we can read into it whatever we want.

25 For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.

I would never have gotten this connection: Hagar represents Mt. Sinai, and the Law (which brought bondage,) and, by extension, the natural Jerusalem which is in bondage (at that time, it was in bondage to Rome… still today it is in bondage to sin.) I never would have seen these parallels unless God had pointed it out.

26 But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.

Sarah was the other side of the equation—the need for supernatural re-birth and revival. She represented the supernatural Jerusalem, still invisible, and only accessible through faith. She is a picture of the way that God chooses to deal with believers.

27 For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband.

Ironically, she also brings out the picture of the gentile believers, because although it says the desolate woman shall bear children, it also says she will have many more than “she who has a husband”.  Sarah had a husband! Remember Abraham? She had been married to him for many years. Why would it say specifically “than she who had a husband”?  I think that it is a prophecy that there will be more Gentile believers in the Body of Christ than will come out of Israel, the “wife of God!”

28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.

Who are the “Brethren” of whom he speaks? They are all the believers, Jew and Gentile. There is no division between believers of Jewish or non-Jewish descent. But all of us became the children of promise by faith. There is no other way.

29 But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.

Ishmael laughed at Isaac, the heir, and mocked him, as a toddler. As a result, he and his mother were sent packing. It was a heart-rending experience for Abraham, who loved his son Ishmael, and for Ishmael, as well, who doubtless loved his father.

It was a grievous thing for Hagar, too, who had enjoyed the privileges of a wife for a time, instead of the position of a slave. But she had silently sneered at Sarah because she could bear Abraham a son, while Sarah could not (God confirms this). Sarah saw that, and wanted her out. She treated her harshly and drove her out, so that Hagar ran away. But God sent her back for the time being, and kept her there until Ishmael was nearly grown, and more nearly able to care for himself.

When Hagar was finally expelled, it was a deeply bitter thing for her and her son. And God prophesied that he, Ishmael, would be “a wild man”, and that his hand would be “against every man, and every man’s hand against him” (which is being fulfilled today.) And Paul reminds them that Jerusalem will be persecuted by the sons of Ishmael (and it is happening daily today.)

 The Separation between Natural and Supernatural

30 Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.

Though it was a bitter, terrible parting, with long-lasting consequences, the separation was by the decree of God. It was partly for practical reasons, I am sure, as God did not want Isaac to be in competition with Ishmael for Abraham’s attention; but it was also intended to set up this specific lesson: There is a sharp, uncrossable divide between the natural and the supernatural in terms of eternal value. We see this borne out in 1st Corinthians 3:10-16, where the judgment seat of Christ is in view. Works either have eternal value or they don’t. There is no “sliding scale.”

What the Galatian believers were being persuaded to embrace (works—legalism) required no “touch of God”—it required no presiding Holy Spirit. They could carry out the demands of a man-made religion strictly on their own…and countless millions in the world do just that, every day of their lives.

That is one of the distinguishing marks of both the Old and New Testaments—they both demand a degree of holiness not achievable by man, and they both provide a means of overcoming the lack that still admits no human interference. The Law demanded perfection, and said, “…the Soul that sinneth, it shall die.” It offered no way out except a shedding of blood, and the faith of the believer that God himself was the redeemer…the “goel”—the one who buys us out of our sin-debt, and sets us free. The New Testament does not change this arrangement one bit! It only concludes the long line of blood-sacrifices with the final, perfect Blood-sacrifice of the Lamb of God, which sets us free from the Law forever.

But the enmity between the natural and the supernatural was not limited to Ishmael: it is nearly universal.

The Enmity between Natural and Supernatural

Whether Jew or Gentile; those who deny this truth –especially the religious people who deny the truth of Grace—will bitterly resent the freedom inherited by the children of the Promise. They will take a stand against God and His people at every opportunity, even when claiming to be believers themselves. Remember how King Herod sought to deceive the Magi: he said “Tell me where He is, so I can worship Him too!” Far from worship, Herod intended to murder Jesus, but he pretended to be a believer, so as to deceive the real believers.

Only the Holy Spirit can bring about the real changes we hope to see in our lives. God says that the scripture has provided “…exceeding great and precious promises, that through these we might be partakers of the divine nature.” And that is how it happens. We embrace His promises by faith, and through His Word, by His Spirit, he begins to change us into His likeness. It does not happen overnight. It required growth, exercise and feeding.

Conclusion:

31 So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.

That is the bottom line, as far as Paul is concerned: You are not a slave, but a freeborn, re-born child of God. Act like one! Don’t enslave yourself to things from which He died to set you free. Keep stepping along in the freedom He died to provide!

We keep looking to God, and, in light of His Word, in light of His holiness, we see our sin. We confess it as sin, and he cleanses us, and continues to work to change us into his likeness. But embracing a set of regulations through which we hope to “be the people God intends us to be” is a serious step backward. It puts us in the camp of the enemy, effectively, because it is exactly the opposite of what God wants.

I read a story, years ago…I have no idea whether it was true…of an old gentleman living alone in a rundown house in the commercial area of a big city. He was offered a very large amount of money for his property, and he accepted it gladly. The purchasers gave him plenty of time to find a new place to live, and to get moved out. During that time, he looked around at his shabby old house, and thought it was a shame to be selling it to the new owners in such poor shape, so he took some of the money they had paid him and renovated the house—new roof, broken windows replaced, plumbing repaired, and everything painted inside and out. The old place was really looking good, so when the new owners showed up to take possession, he happily showed them all the work he had done. They looked and listened, and finally shook their heads sadly: “We are really sorry to tell you this, but you have wasted both your time and your money: we never wanted the house at all! We are tearing it down to build an office complex, here! All we wanted was your land.”

God does not want what YOU can do: He wants what He can do in you. Ultimately, he just wants YOU. Law-keeping is something we think we can do, but no matter how good we are at it, it is not what God wants at all.

Look to the Lord to change you from the inside out, and the old ways will begin to drop away…the new nature will become more and more prominent. If you have received Christ as your Savior by faith, then you are already a child of God, by the new birth; enacting a set of rules in your life will not enhance your relationship with God. Believing His promises, and obeying his principles by faith will continually build that relationship, and you will grow more and more into His likeness.

God help us to draw near by faith, and receive your Grace as the empowering principle in our lives. Remake us into the men and women of God that you have chosen us to be.