I have a picture in my scrapbook of my brother and I hugging each other when I was probably two and he was five. It warms my heart to see it because it reminds me of near to my heart he is. There are pictures like that in the scriptures also. These pictures remind us of how much God holds His people near to His heart.
There is a question may be at the root of most of our spiritual problems. A wrong answer will drive us into legalism, depression or even rebellion…
The question is this: “Does God really love me enough to put away ALL of my sin?”
Here is perhaps one of the most profound and encouraging phrases in all of scripture…
“According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:“
Ephesians 1:4 KJV
In my childhood home, There was a story that was told as a child that brought me a lot of comfort. You see, my brother and I were both adopted into our family. Although we were born from different parents we were received into the same loving family as infants.
He is three years older than me so the story was told that when the time came for me to be handed over to my adoptive parents out of the orphanage, that my brother, Charlie ‘chose me’ when he ran over to the crib and peered over edge and said, “I want this one!”
So it was said that my adoption was finalized by my being ‘chosen in Charlie’. This story served me well whenever I felt insecure about my place in the family. Our parents wisely told us from a young age that we were adopted, but still…there were times when I was in trouble that I naturally wondered in my mind if I wasn’t going to be returned to the orphanage…
This story of my being chosen by Charlie was very reassuring to me because I knew that my parents loved Charlie, and I knew that he wasn’t going anywhere. So, believing that he had chosen me, I knew that I wasn’t going anywhere without him…
In the same way, it is reassuring for each Christian to know that when a sinful heart brings us down, and doubts arise as to our position in God’s family, this verse tells us that It was Christ who looked, as it were over the edge of the crib at man soul and said, “I want this one”… “He’s my brother, She’s my sister”.
You see If we are in Him, we are as secure as He is.
“Nearer, more near
I can never be,
For in the person of Christ, God’s Son,
I am as near as He”
How Can I Be Sure That This Is True?
In the Old Testament there was instruction given to men who were to perform the office of priests.There was one chosen who was to act as High Priest. In this capacity, he was making it possible for the heart of man and the heart of God to be brought together in a loving embrace as it were. The duties of the High Priest were essentially to remove the barriers that naturally exist between Holy God and sinful man.
When we look at who Christ is as revealed in the scriptures, we find that He holds three offices: These are Prophet (Mark 13:23; Acts 3:22; 7:37), Priest (Hebrews 4:14) and King (1 Timothy 1:17; 6:15,16). Although He is all of these eternally, He is revealed to us in time as one who exercises these offices in a rather sequential manner.
In other words, when He came to this earth to live in a body of flesh, He fulfilled the office of Prophet.
In a time yet future, He has promised to return to the earth and fulfill God’s covenant with man through the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (the nation of Israel). (Exodus 32:13; Daniel 2:44) He will then establish His own throne in Jerusalem as King of kings and Lord of lords. (Isaiah 9:7; Luke 1:32; 1 Timothy 6:15)
We learn from the book of the Acts of the Apostles that after His death and resurrection, Christ Jesus ascended back to heaven from which He will return (Acts 1:11). So, now He is not yet on His own throne, but sits on the right hand of the Father’s throne of grace. From there He presently serves as Great High Priest. (Hebrews 8:1) He lives there to intercede for believers and secure their place in Him by removing the barriers between themselves and Holy God. (Hebrews 7:25)
Who Loves Ya’…?
Knowing that this is His present session, it is instructive to look at the office of the High Priest in the Old Testament as prescribed by the law. There we find pictures or foreshadowings of Christ who presently fulfills that office under grace. In particular, a study of the High priests garments picture for us God’s expressions of love to our souls.
One very important piece of those garments is called “the breastplate of judgment” It is called that because among other things it signifies God’s eternal decree (judgment) that this garment and what it represents was to be worn over the heart of the High priest whenever he approached God in the tabernacle of the congregation.
“And Aaron shall bear the names of the children of Israel in the breastplate of judgment upon his heart, when he goeth in unto the holy [place], for a memorial before the LORD continually.“
Exodus 28:29 KJV
Note that the placement does not refer to a superficial placement upon his chest…but instead it refers to the place next to the High Priests’ heart.
On this breastplate there were 12 different stones, one for each of the sons of Jacob (Israel). The stones are secured on the breastplate that is upon his heart. In addition, each of the stones was secured by a golden clasp reminding us of the Divine Hand that keeps the child of God in that place. It is from the heart that emanates the source of life.
Each stone had one of the names of the tribes of Israel engraved on it after the manner of a signet (a gifted engraver). This instruction was important because it meant that the manner in which their names were carved into the stones could not be erased, they could not be wiped off, they could never be removed.
In other words, as the heart pumps blood (the life of the flesh is in the blood – Leviticus 17:11) throughout the body, so too are the souls of God’s children eternally kept by God’s right hand (i.e. Jesus) to the source of eternal life. This is uniquely the task of our Great High Priest.
“For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as [we are, yet] without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”
Hebrews 4:15,16 (KJV)
I mentioned at the first that if we fail to understand the fullness of God’s love for us, then we may fall into a pattern of legalism, depression or even rebellion.
Legalism demands that our acceptance and our position with God is based upon our performance. We set up rules and patterns of dress, behavior and speech are deemed acceptable signs of our orthodoxy and therefore proof of God’s love being shed abroad in our heart.
As long as we see ourselves as chosen in Him, we can be assured that He will produce in us all that is required to be accepted in the Beloved.
“Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly [places] in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.”
Ephesians 1:3-6 (NKJV)
Knowing that His love is greater than all of my sin is why the Christian can be sure of salvation. We are secure in the knowledge that we belong to Him. He chose us for salvation even knowing everything about us before we were even born.
We Stand Amazed In His Presence…
If we are to be content in this life, we need to have a paradigm shift in our thinking. We grow up thinking that life is all about discovering who we are, when it is really all about us discovering who God is. When we choose to place our trust in Christ we come to be as near to our heavenly Father as Jesus Himself is.
Something that completely amazes me is that Christ Jesus not only longs to reveal Himself to us but He longs to reveal Himself in us. His present work as our High Priest insures that we can never be lost and that we are steadily being re-shaped into His own image.
My wife often wonders why it is that my brother and I are so much like each other even though we are from different birth families and have different personalities. I tell her it is because I was chosen in Charlie.
Even so, because believers are so near to God’s heart, they are being steadily conformed into His image.
“Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.”
1 John 3:2 KJV
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