Confidence on Judgment Day!

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Scripture:  “so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.” – Hebrews 9:28

Observation (Background): The Book of Hebrews is in many ways a discourse on how Jesus is the fulfillment of all things Jewish. (In fact, Hebrew is not only the language spoken by the Jews, but is another way to refer to the people themselves.)  In Chapter 1, the writer shows that Jesus is superior to the angels – He is the very Son of God.  Yet, in Chapter 2, He is also human, like His “brothers.”  In Chapter 3, He’s portrayed to be greater than even the great patriarch Moses – who in his prophet & priestly role was really just a type & foreshadow of the Christ who would come.  in Chapter 4 & 5, Jesus is compared to the great high priest who was chief among Israel’s priests – even greater than Melchizedek, the first high priest who predated the Hebrew people themselves! In Chapter 6, Jesus is shown to be the fulfillment of God’s promises to Abraham (the father & first of the entire Jewish nation) – through whom the world would be blessed.  In Chapter 7, by comparison again to Melchizedek, Jesus is shown to be even greater than the Jewish “Law” and the bearer of a new and “better covenant.” (7:22). Through Him, the old covenant now made obsolete (Chapter 8:13).  Now here in Chapter 9, Jesus is shown not only to be the high priest, but the sacrifice Himself – able to enter the Most Holy Place by his own blood, and in fact we, His people, are able to enter eternal life forgiven of all our sins by that one and the same blood!

Application:  I love how this verse (Hebrews 9:28) connects with the sermon I preached just this last Sunday “Who Will Escape Judgment.”  It states so clearly – and even more comfortingly – that while indeed Christ is going to appear a second time to judge the world, He is really returning to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him!  In other words, yes – Jesus is going to judge and remove all evil (see today’s Life Journal readings from Isaiah 13 to 15 – the judgment upon Babylon, Assyria, Philistine and Moab is but a “type” and foreshadow of the judgment that will come at the Last Day!)  And yes, the unrighteous will “face judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).  But perhaps most importantly, God’s holy people will receive the reward of their faith – salvation!  We will not only be saved from our sins … but saved from a life of sin in this broken and hurting world!  For me, this is just confirmation that those who are in the faith, need not fear Jesus’ return, but rejoice at the promised fulfillment of God’s plan of salvation through Him.

Prayer: Lord, help me not to fear Christ’s return, but to look forward to it with hope knowing that my salvation is secure through faith in Jesus and my baptism into His Body.  Dear Jesus, come quickly.  Amen.

A Glimpse of the Kingdom of Heaven

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Wouldn’t you like to know what the kingdom of heaven looks like? Jesus knows that the Kingdom of Heaven is not of this world, so He gives us glimpses into His Kingdom every time He teaches using a parable. This month at Redeemer by the Sea, during our “God on Film” sermon series we will be looking at a number of the Parables of Jesus, and asking some key questions.

God on Film

  • July 3The Parable of the Sower: “What is the Kingdom of Heaven like?”
  • July 10The Parable of the Wheat and the Tares: “Who will escape judgment?”
  • July 17The Parable of the Mustard Seed: “Can faith move mountains?”
  • July 24The Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard: “What to do when life’s unfair”
  • July 31The Friend at Midnight: “How to pray effectively”

In a wide sense every parable of Jesus illustrated the peculiarity of the Kingdom of Heaven in one way or another. However, in many of them He indicated that the parable explicitly taught something about the nature of the Kingdom, using the phrase, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like…”  (see Matthew 13:24, 13:31, 13:33, 13:44, 13:45, 13:47, 13:52, 18:23, 20:1, 22:2)

What is the Kingdom of Heaven like?  What’s special about it? Well for one thing God’s Kingdom is not some geographical area surrounded by physical boundaries, as are the kingdoms of the world. Rather it is an abstract idea expressing the entire reign or dominion of the King, Jesus. Therefore the Kingdom of Heaven is really wherever Jesus reigns in authority. It is not a physical Kingdom … but a spiritual one. Jesus attested to this fact as He testified before Pilate in John chapter 18.   And Jesus’ subjects (His faithful people) are different than the subjects of any earthly kingdom too … operating out of love and faith, rather than fear or compulsion.

Why did Jesus teach in parables? For that we might consider what the word “parable” itself means. According to Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words it signifies the “placing of one thing beside another with a view to comparison.” In other words, a parable puts the known next to the unknown so that we might learn about the unknown in terms we can relate to. Another reason that Jesus taught in parables was because in so doing Jesus effectively separated the truth-seekers from the curiosity-seekers. Someone who was just looking for Jesus to do miracles and give them food wasn’t going to be looking for the deeper truths of the Kingdom that a parable revealed.

In the Parables we can see several sub-themes emerge.  As Jesus taught about the Kingdom of Heaven, He also, by extension and comparison, taught about the King and the King’s subjects as well. So for example, the Parable of the Mustard Seed and the Parable of the Hidden Treasure indicate something about the character of the Kingdom. But the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard teaches something very important about the character of The King Himself – particularly His overflowing generosity. And a parable like the Good Samaritan teaches about the character of The King’s subjects – they demonstrate the generosity of the King here on earth.  Clearly, there is much to learn about the Kingdom of God in Jesus’ parables.

I’m looking forward to spending the first part of our summer enjoying some fun movies which are a testimony to the creativity and talent of humans.  But I’m even more looking forward to using those movies as a springboard to delve into the Scriptures through the Parables of Jesus, which are a testimony to the very special nature of God’s Kingdom. I pray that your summer is both a refreshing time and a growing time for you.  We hope you’ll join us as together we Worship, Grow and Serve together at Redeemer by the Sea!

A subject of the King,

Pastor Augie