Interactive Study Blog – Hebrews Chapter 10

For thousands of years, the priests of the temples sacrificed animals to atone for our sins. I cannot imagine how many animals were killed, but because they were not the perfect sacrifice, it never provided the perfect atonement necessary for us. We received the perfect sacrifice from Jesus Christ on the cross. The prior sacrifices were a constant reminder of our sinful nature and that we would never receive the complete atonement we craved. It took our Great High Priest, Jesus Christ, to provide the necessary perfect sacrifice. The moment He did the first covenant was abolished, and the new covenant, the atonement of our sins through the blood of Christ, was installed.

What a wonderful gist He gave us.

God Loves You And So Do I

Michele Edgel

The Five Solas, pt. 2

  • Sola Fide, by faith alone.
  • Sola Scriptura, by Scripture alone.
  • Solus Christus, through Christ alone.
  • Sola Gratia, by grace alone.
  • Soli Deo Gloria, glory to God alone.

Grace Alone

The second Sola I’m writing about is Grace Alone.  It goes with the Faith: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)  Gee, what else can I write, that about says it all.

God’s Grace is so amazing.  The ancient Hebrews built altars to sacrifice animals, birds and grain to atone for sins.  We have Christ, who sacrificed himself for us.  You see, there had to be sacrifice for the atonement of all mankind’s sins.  That is the way God first set it up.  So God sent his Son to do be the sacrifice for our sins and the sins of the world.

OK, you say, so everyone is saved.  Not quite.  That’s where the faith comes in.  We have to have the faith in Christ, believe that he died for us, to accept this gift that he gave us.  It’s like a billionaire giving away money.  If you were told that you could have an amount of money (let’s make it big, $100,000) for free, all you had to do is go and accept it, you’d do that, right?  Whooo Hoo, someone is giving away money, let’s go!!  If only we felt the same way about God’s wonderful and amazing gift.  We don’t need to do a thing, just accept it.

OK, you say, so I’ll just keep sinning to get more Grace.  It’s true, we are all sinners and we all sin each and every day.  But in his letter to the Romans, Paul address this:  “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?    By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?”  (Romans 6:1-2)  No, you will not want to sin anymore.  Once you’ve been given this gift you will not want to sin. 

So…  Grace Alone by Faith Alone.  We’re building to the best part: Christ Alone.

Thankful for Grace Alone

“…offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life;  and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness.  For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.”  Romans 6:13

What’s it like to live on “Waiting for Death Street”?  And what is it like to have done something really bad, really evil–something irreparable?  These were the thoughts of Sister Helen Prejean, as she mailed her first letter to Pat Sonnier, a convicted murderer awaiting execution in Louisiana.  As she got to know Pat, and eventually visit him, she was surprised by “how human, even likable, he is.”  He confided to her his “terror .. of the death that awaits him.”  He didn’t eat or sleep well, and a guard told Sister Helen, “The guy (is)…eaten up by what he did.”

Unfortunately at that stage of his life, all the remorse in the world could not save Pat from his sentence.  He had never received a disciplinary write-up since he arrived on Death Row, but good behavior could not help him.

Pat’s brother, Eddie, in prison for life for the same murders, told Sister Helen that he, not Pat, was the actual murderer.  Pat was a participant in the abduction of two teenagers, but was not the shooter.  Having less responsibility than someone else could not save Pat, either.

If he was to live, his only hope was that the Governor would intervene by commuting his sentence to life in prison.  Yet he could not even argue for himself.  He was dependent upon others to make his case at a Pardon Board hearing, which would recommend life or death to the Governor.  He was a condemned man, totally helpless.

Most of us cannot identify with Pat Sonnier.  We may not even understand how Sister Helen could befriend him.  However, if we stop and think about our own situation before God, we see it is no different.  In his letter to the Romans, the apostle Paul tells us that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”(3:23) and “the wages of sin is death (6:23).  Paul admits of himself, “I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.  For what I do is not the good I want to do;  no, the evil I do not want to do –this I keep on doing”(7:29).  In desperation he cries out, “What a wretched man I am!  Who will rescue me from this body of death?”(7:24)

Like Pat Sonnier and the apostle Paul, we stand condemned.  Our sins are heinous and we are helpless.  Our repentance and good works are laudable, but they do no change our situation.  We deserve death and cannot save ourselves.

Fortunately, for Christians, the rest of the story is that we “are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Jesus Christ.  God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood.”(3:24-25).  Grace is a gift from God, and we are saved by this gift alone (Ephesians 2:8).

The response to such incredible grace can only be gratitude.

Think about it.  What if someone paid a crushing debt you owed.  What if someone forgave you for a wrong that seemed unforgivable.  What if you met a person who literally saved your life.  Such an experience would be life-changing.  As a Christian you share this experience.  It’s called conversion, and if authentic, leads to transformation:  a life of gratitude and service.

Paul describes how this happened to him in 1 Corinthians 15:10  “…by the grace of God I am what I am and his grace toward me was not in vain.  On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I but the grace of God that is with me.”

We may recognize God’s grace in an instant, or gradually over the course of years.  However it happens, our Christian testimony is no more than a story of grace:  how God opened our eyes and how we responded.

Pat Sonnier was eventually put to death for his crime.  He was deeply grateful to Sister Helen and others who tried but failed to save his life.  In his will, he left his worldly possessions (which were few) to Sister Helen.  Her compassion and loving kindness helped him to die without hatred in his heart;  in fact, his last words were a request for forgiveness for what he had done.

Jesus was put to death for our crimes “while we were still sinners.”(Romans 5:8).  Like Pat, we have little to offer the one who has shown such mercy and grace to us.  The best we can do id heed Paul’s instruction to “…offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life;  and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness.  For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.” (Romans 6:13)

Originally published in the Lutheran Ambassador

 

 

Forgiveness Isn’t An Option

As a Christian we are expected to forgive everything and anything that we encounter in our life. I try to do that, but let us be honest here, forgiveness is not always an immediate response. Is we feel that we have been wronged by someone, our first instinct is to lash out or become irritated. Well guess what, that’s because we are human and are full of sin. I believe that even if our first response is to lash out it is our final reaction that means the most.

Asking for forgiveness from God is easy, but asking for forgiveness from the person/persons we have wronged is a lot harder. It is our responsibility to accept we have done wrong with our reaction and asked for forgiveness from them even if it is hard.

Praying for those that we feel have wronged us is difficult at first, but if you continue to do so, you will find that it becomes easier to actually mean the words you are saying.

So, I guess the moral is – DON’T ask for forgiveness – if you WON’T give it.

Just saying

God Loves You And So Do I

PS I struggle with this as well so do not feel like the Lone Ranger out there.

How Should A Reborn Christian Act?

***Warning – This blog may upset some people

What a way to start my newest blog. When we are reborn as a Christian through Christ’s sacrifice, I believe that it comes with certain responsibilities; being kind to others, non-judgmental towards others, giving the credit for ALL good things we do to Christ and the list goes on.

Read this part carefully – Just because you go to church that doesn’t make you a Christian, anymore than sitting in a garage makes you a car. When people say they are a Christian in one breath – and put down their neighbor in the next; talk about all the sacrifices they make for God as they are complaining that they aren’t satisfied with the 2-year-old car they have; or better yet, talk about how they can’t believe that “SHE” wore that to church. Really, that is NOT Christian PERIOD.
When you are truly reborn into Christ – you want to do right (being a sinner makes it hard) you want Him to get the glory, you want to give all you have to Him because He gave all for you.
Now before you say that I am being judgmental – you are RIGHT – I am. I firmly believe that when someone is representing themselves as a Child of God we are responsible to make sure that they are accountable for their actions, words or lifestyle. That doesn’t mean I think I am better than them, and I would hope that my friends and family would admonish me when my behavior is contrary to the will of God.

We are responsible to make sure that we as Christians present ourselves as fallen saints & unworthy sinners and without His sacrifice bound for hell. When we do not use the gift of our rebirth in Christ as a positive identification and act like we are better because we are “Christians”, we are in danger of condemning others to being turned away to the wonderful gift we have.
We do not attend church because we are perfect saints but we attend church because we are unworthy sinners.

I am hoping to get some comments about this, does anyone deal with these feelings when confronted with any of these situations? If so, how do YOU handle them, because as anyone who knows me will tell you, I tend to be outspoken and am working on being more “politically correct”.

Remember, no matter my rant – God Loves You And So Do I

Michele Edgel

The Ultimate Sacrifice

It’s Good Friday.  Some Christians don’t like to think about the atonement:  too gory, too depressing.  As Lutherans we walk through the entire journey of Jesus, knowing there is no Easter without Good Friday.  Today is a day to meditate on the crucifixion and the sins that caused it to happen.  Think about the words of this hymn, Ah, Holy Jesus.

1. Ah, holy Jesus, how hast thou offended,
that we to judge thee have in hate pretended?
By foes derided, by thine own rejected,
O most afflicted!

2. Who was the guilty? Who brought this upon thee?
Alas, my treason, Jesus, hath undone thee!
‘Twas I, Lord Jesus, I it was denied thee;
I crucified thee.

3. Lo, the Good Shepherd for the sheep is offered;
the slave hath sinned, and the Son hath suffered.
For our atonement, while we nothing heeded,
God interceded.

4. For me, kind Jesus, was thy incarnation,
thy mortal sorrow, and thy life’s oblation;
thy death of anguish and thy bitter passion,
for my salvation.

5. Therefore, kind Jesus, since I cannot pay thee,
I do adore thee, and will ever pray thee,
think on thy pity and thy love unswerving,
not my deserving.

One Sacrifice

In our Lutheran worship service each week, we confess our sins and the pastor announces that we are forgiven.  Notice the word in bold, announces?  This means we are not forgiven at that moment, we are not forgiven because of our confession, we are already forgiven. This segment in the service is to remind us that the work of  atonement has already been  done.  Because of Christ’s sacrifice, we have been forgiven once and for all–for every sin–those we committed last week, last year and even the ones we will commit next year.  As Jesus said on the cross, “it is finished.” John 19:30

It took me a long time to get this.  It makes more sense to think that we have to somehow make up for our sins, even if that only means acknowledging them and feeling remorseful.  The author of Hebrews tells a different story in Chapter 10:

“Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties;  again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.  But when this priest (Jesus) had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.  Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool , because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.  The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this.  First he says:

This is the covenant I will make with them, after that time, says the Lord.  I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.’

Then he adds:

‘Their sins and lawless acts, I will remember no more.’

And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin.” Hebrews 10:11-18

It’s hard to grasp, but think about it.  No further sacrifice is necessary:  not by you or anyone else.  We’ve been handed a get out of jail free card that never expires.  What grace and freedom we have in the faith!  Any sacrifices we make, are not sacrifices for sin, but thank offerings, in gratitude for the forgiveness Jesus has given us.  The old system has been replaced.  We live under grace, not law.

How does this make you feel?  Please send us your thoughts and comments.