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Holy Hush

Sitting silently,

soul stilled, spirit savouring

sweetest sacred sounds

https://i1.wp.com/kiwimadepreaching.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/silence.jpegThis is a Haiku – a form of traditional Japanese poetry.

Haiku is a 17-syllable verse form consisting of three lines of 5, 7, and 5 syllables.

Staurology

cross-1

A word based on verses written by St Paul: “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” – 1 Corinthians 1:18 – where “stauros” = the cross (or stake) and “logos” = the word (concerning) – put them together and we have: STAUROLOGY = ‘the doctrine of the Cross’.

At a time when denial of the substitutionary, atoning death of Jesus Christ is resurgent, it is crucial to ask: what is the witness of Scripture to this ‘doctrine’ ? So, I urge you to ‘allow’ the New Testament to speak for itself – (noting my emphases and brief notes):

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THE FOUR GOSPELS

MATTHEW

“She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

“From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

“As they were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day.” And they were greatly distressed.”

And as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside, and on the way he said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem. And the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.”

“… the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” NOTE: “The word translated “ransom” is the one commonly employed in the papyri as the price paid for a slave who is then set free by the one who bought him, the purchase money for manumitting slaves (i.e. releasing from slavery) … There is the notion of exchange also in the use of “anti”. Jesus gave his own life as the price of freedom for the slaves of sin.” cited from ‘Robertson’s Word Pictures’

“You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.”

“Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

Matthew 26 & 27 – the narrative of the Passion

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MARK

“And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.””

“…he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise.” But they did not understand the saying, and were afraid to ask him.”

“And they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them. And they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. And taking the twelve again, he began to tell them what was to happen to him, saying, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles. And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise.””

“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

“And as they were eating, he took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.”

Mark 14 & 15 – the narrative of the Passion

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LUKE

“And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”

“And he strictly charged and commanded them to tell this to no one, saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.””

“And behold, two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure (literally: exodus), which he was about to accomplish (pleroo) at Jerusalem.”

“When the days drew near for him to be taken up (analapesis = lifted up), he set his face to go to Jerusalem.”

“For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day. But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.”

“And taking the twelve, he said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished (i.e. teleo). For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. And after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise.” But they understood none of these things. This saying was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said.”

“And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.””

“For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me has its fulfillment.””

Luke 23 & 24 – the narrative of the Passion

“”He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” And they remembered his words.”

“And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”

“Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations …”

JOHN

The next day he (John, the Baptist) saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!”

(Repeated for emphasis ?)

“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up (on the Cross ?), that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

“I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.”

So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me. And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him.”

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.”

“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”

“”Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die.

John 19 & 20 – the narrative of the Passion

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THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES

“Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know – this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.”

“Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

“The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him. But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses.”

“And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled.”

“Rulers of the people and elders, if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead – by him this man is standing before you well. This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.”

“The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed – for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.”

“But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”

“And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah (i.e. chapter 53). And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.” So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. Now the passage of the Scripture that he was reading was this: “Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter and like a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he opens not his mouth. In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth.And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus.”

” … you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. And we are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

“Brothers, sons of the family of Abraham, and those among you who fear God, to us has been sent the message of this salvation. For those who live in Jerusalem and their rulers, because they did not recognize him nor understand the utterances of the prophets, which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled them by condemning him. And though they found in him no guilt worthy of death, they asked Pilate to have him executed. And when they had carried out all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead, and for many days he appeared to those who had come up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now his witnesses to the people. And we bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers, this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus.”

“Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses.”

“And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.”

“Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.”

“To this day I have had the help that comes from God, and so I stand here testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass: that the Christ must suffer and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles.”

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THE EPISTLES OF PAUL

ROMANS

“But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it – the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith”

“It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.”

“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person–though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die – but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.”

“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.”

“For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.”

“He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things ?”

For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living

“For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died.”

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1 CORINTHIANS

“Christ did not send me to baptise but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power

“For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God”

We preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”

“And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”

NOTE the contrasts: Folly/Wisdom – Weakness/Strength – Perishing/Saved – Plausible words of wisdom/demonstration of the Spirit and of power – Wisdom of men/Power of God.

“Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed

“You are not your own, for you were bought with a price

“… the brother for whom Christ died

“The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?”

“For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”

“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures … ”

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2 CORINTHIANS

“For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”

“… in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

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GALATIANS

“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, Who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father …”

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.  I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.”

“O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified.”

“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us – for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree” – so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.”

“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.”

“But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offence of the cross has been removed.” – offence = skandalon (English word: scandal)

“And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”

But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” – NOTE: why would an intelligent man like St Paul boast in a thing of such ignominy ?

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EPHESIANS

“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us … “

“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace …”

“… that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility (i.e. between Jew & Gentile & God & man)

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

“Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.”

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PHILIPPIANS

“And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

“… that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death … “

“For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ.”

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COLOSSIANS

“For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard … “

“And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.”

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1 THESSALONIANS

“… you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.”

For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him.”

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1 TIMOTHY

“The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.”

“For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.”

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TITUS

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.”

SUMMARY: Of the letters ‘attributed’ to St Paul, only 3 from 13 do not contain a direct reference to the Cross or death of Jesus – 2 Thessalonians, 2 Timothy and Philemon

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THE EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS

“He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high … “

“But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.”

“Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.”

“Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.”

“For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself.

“But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.

“For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.”

“And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.”

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”

“… looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood.

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THE GENERAL EPISTLES

1 PETER

“… according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood.”

“Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories.”

“… knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you …”

For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.”

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit …”

~~~~~~~~

2 PETER

“But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.”

~~~~~~~~~

1 JOHN

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”

“My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.”

“You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin.”

“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.”

“In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

“And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.”

~~~~~~~~~

THE BOOK OF REVELATION

“To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

“And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.” And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain …”

“And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.””

“Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!””

“Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”

“And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world–he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.”

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If you arrived here I heartily applaud you !!

IN SUMMARISING

20/27 NT books give some witness to the fact and the focus of Jesus’ crucifixion. For Jesus the Cross was ‘non-negotiable’ – His vehement response to Simon Peter’s clumsy attempt to deflect Him from the divine purpose under-scores this: “Get behind me, Satan. You are a stumbling-block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men

From the above it can be safely concluded that Scripture teaches:

1. THE REALITY OF THE CROSS – Christ died

2. THE REASON FOR THE CROSS – Christ died for our sins

3. THE RESULTS OF THE CROSS reconciliation, cleansing, forgiveness, pardon, justification, peace, salvation, deliverance, victory and eternal life … each deserves a study in its own right !

~~~~~~~~~

A Hymn of Praise

By the cross of Jesus standing,
Love our straitened souls expanding,
Taste we now the peace and grace!
Health from yonder tree is flowing,
Heav’nly light is on it glowing,
From the blessed Sufferer’s face.

Here is pardon’s pledge and token,
Guilt’s strong chain forever broken,
Righteous peace securely made;
Brightens now the brow once shaded,
Freshens now the face once faded,
Peace with God now makes us glad.

All the love of God is yonder,
Love above all thought and wonder,
Perfect love that casts out fear!
Strength, like dew, is here distilling,
Glorious life our souls is filling,
Life eternal, only here!

Here the living water welleth;
Here the Rock, now smitten, telleth
Of salvation freely giv’n:
This the fount of love and pity,
This the pathway to the city,
This the very gate of Heav’n.

Horatius Bonar (1808-1889)

Cross 2

Gunnerside Gleanings

After a recent visit with friends to this lovely spot in Swaledale, North Yorkshire

I penned the words below, and included some visual images

Simply click on a thumbnail to enlarge

Gunnerside GillGunnerside GillGunnerside GillGunnerside Gill

Stretching out beyond me

amid panoramic views of

wooded valleys and grassy hills,

a narrow, labyrinthine trail

twisting, turning o’er

uneven terrain, littered with …

~~~~

… displaced rocks from

precipitous cliffs above

… gnarled tree roots

standing proudly prominent

 … low-hanging branches

wildly over-arching

~~~~

All dampened by drizzly droplets

demanding utmost respect

ready to stumble or ensnare

the careless or the unaware.

A mirror and chronicle

of my enigmatic soul

~~~~~

woodypath

Every morning I lay out the pieces of my life on Your altar and watch for fire to descend” – the Message Bible paraphrase of Psalm 5:3 is a remarkable aid to personal devotion …

1. It speaks of CONSECRATION – ‘I lay out the pieces of my life on your altar …’

We’re drawn into the mysterious imagery of Jewish Tabernacle worship, laid down in early books of the Bible, where we meet with the daily ritual of the burnt offering. Numerous passages in the Book of Leviticus specifically contain regulations concerning this strange procedure.

But as we pass forward into our New Covenant context we discover the Book of Hebrews replete with spiritual counterparts of those OT rituals. Hebrews 13:10, for example, teaches that we have an altar – an unapologetic reference to the Cross of Christ, where the ultimate sacrifice was made for us, once and for all – when the spotless Lamb of God, of His own volition, laid down His life as our ‘substitute’.

By identification in faith we become participants at an inner, spiritual altar. We embrace the Cross as ours, discerning ourselves as crucified with Him, and experiencing resurrection into new life. All this is enacted during the course of baptismal initiation – and subsequently worked out in the rest of our earthly pilgrimage.

Continuing in Hebrews 13:15, 16 we note this practical outworking as we’re encouraged: through JESUS, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise – the fruit of lips that confess His Name. AND do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased”. This points not to a vague pie-in-the-sky, esoteric spirituality, but one deeply grounded in human community – in the earthy reality of serving others.

2. It speaks of CONSUMMATION – ‘watch for fire to descend’

Fire is one of many symbols used to denote activity of the Holy Spirit (Who is God Himself – a ‘consuming fire’). Often a heaven-sent fire entirely consumed those daily sacrifices, by way of divine response, or affirmation. To illustrate, a rather fascinating passage reads: Aaron lifted up his hands toward the people and blessed them, and he came down from offering the sin offering and the burnt offering and the peace offerings. And Moses and Aaron went into the tent of meeting, and when they came out they blessed the people, and the glory of the LORD appeared to all the people. Fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed the burnt offering and the pieces of fat on the altar, and when all the people saw it, they shouted for joy and fell face-down.”Leviticus 9:22-24. Fire is both a purifying and an energizing element. In our walk and work as followers of Christ we definitely need both – purity and energy.

3. It speaks of CONSISTENCY – ‘every morning’

I cannot speak too highly of the need for regular, consistent attention to personal devotion – it’s got to become a habit – ingrained into our lifestyle.

Delving once again into that bygone age, we observe the careful instructions given regarding altar maintenance within the Tabernacle routine. Leviticus captures this: “These are the regulations for the burnt offering: The burnt offering is to remain on the altar hearth throughout the night, till morning, and THE FIRE MUST BE KEPT BURNING ON THE ALTAR. The priest shall then put on his linen clothes, with linen undergarments next to his body, and shall remove the ashes of the burnt offering that the fire has consumed on the altar and place them beside the altar. Then he is to take off these clothes and put on others, and carry the ashes outside the camp to a place that is ceremonially clean. THE FIRE ON THE ALTAR MUST BE KEPT BURNING; IT MUST NOT GO OUT. Every morning the priest is to add firewood and arrange the burnt offering on the fire and burn the fat of the fellowship offerings on it. THE FIRE MUST BE KEPT BURNING ON THE ALTAR CONTINUOUSLY; IT MUST NOT GO OUT.” – Leviticus 6:9-13 – note the emphases …

So, there’s a daily obligation (‘every morning’) to:

remove the ashes – speaking of yesterday’s offering which will not suffice for today. Here’s a reminder to deal with the ashes of our past, otherwise they will certainly hinder our present day offering. We should never permit the despair of our failures or the elation of our achievements to clog up our inner altar, but rather cultivate appropriate contrition and humility.
add the firewood – for me, adding wood speaks of re-fuelling through meditating on the Cross (our firewood). “Put ‘t wood in ‘t ‘oil” is a wonderful linguistic expression originating in the north of England. It actually means ‘close the door’ – but how necessary it is to add the wood of the Cross to the empty spaces in our heart, providing material for the fire of God, the Holy Spirit – note how the Spirit and the Cross of Christ are intimately connected.
arrange the offering – rather than a slap-dash, hit and miss approach, this clearly advocates a thorough and thoughtful process in which we carefully and unhurriedly lay out the various pieces of our life – placing each fragment on the altar at His disposal. Interestingly, another designation of this sacrifice was the whole burnt offering – in which nothing is held back.

I believe this powerful imagery is uppermost in St Paul’s mind when exhorting Christians in Rome: “offer your bodies (what is visible & material) as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship”Romans 12:1. The thought is taken up in the Anglican post-Eucharist prayer: Almighty God, we thank you for feeding us with the body and blood of your Son Jesus Christ. Through Him we offer You our souls and bodies to be a living sacrifice. Send us out in the power of your Spirit to live and work to Your praise and glory”. Further, it is a theme of so many of the church’s great hymns, one example of which follows this image …

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O Thou Who camest from above,
The pure celestial fire to impart,
Kindle a flame of sacred love
On the mean altar of my heart.

There let it for Thy glory burn
With inextinguishable blaze,
And trembling to its source return,
In humble prayer and fervent praise.

Jesus, confirm my heart’s desire
To work and speak and think for Thee;
Still let me guard the holy fire,
And still stir up Thy gift in me.

Ready for all Thy perfect will,
My acts of faith and love repeat,
Till death Thy endless mercies seal,
And make the sacrifice complete.

Charles Wesley (1707-1788)

Prayer For My Heart

More than a decade ago I came across this prayer, attributed to pastor Jack Hayford, the founder of Church on the Way, Van Nuys, Los Angeles – it’s reproduced here in full, with permission from Jack Hayford Ministries:

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“Lord God, Creator of all, Maker of my heart … I bring it to You this morning.
My heart … which at various times has been lifted in praise to You, rejoices over Your goodness and giving to me.
My heart … which also sometimes cowers in fear before people and problems—when I forget You are bigger than them all—has been stained by meditations unworthy of a child made in Your image. It has been lifted up in pride over attainments accomplished by Your hand alone.
And, Lord, my heart is often hardened as well. I bring my heart to You this day for softening…
… like a child’s, softened to forgive quickly, easily, without judgment, prejudice, bitterness, or resentment;
… like a field, softened to receive seeds of Your truth, that the fruit of Your Holy Spirit might be produced through my life;
… like clay, softened, that I might be shaped today more completely into the person You want me to become.
Forgive my hardness of heart when it results from my own disobedience, neglect, or outright resistance to Your ways.
Deliver me, lest my heart shrink by reason of this dryness and hardening. Flow the rivers of Your life over my heart, and bring it to renewal, O Lord.
And where my heart is hardened simply by the heat of duty, the weariness of work, the attack of enemies, the slings and arrows of the inconsiderate or crude … at those points, give me a vision of Your heart today, Lord. For although I have wounded Your love by my failures, You have never hardened Your heart against me.
So, dear God, let my heart be softened today in the same way as Yours, toward any who have done to me as I have to You. Deliver me from all temptation to smallness or hardness of heart, and fill my life today with Your will and Your Word.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my redeemer (Psalm 19:14).
Through Christ, our Lord, Amen”

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