The Kingdom Of Heaven

“The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact expression of His nature, sustaining all things by His powerful word. After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” Hebrews 1:3 HCSB

Our text from chapter IV of Andrew Murray’s The Holiest of All will be brief this time:

There He lives, opening up and keeping open the blessed access to God's presence and fellowship for us; lifting us up into and maintaining us in its enjoyment; and in the power that prevails there, making the kingdom of heaven a reality within the heart. 

It is the great object of the Epistle to bring home to us the heavenly glory of Christ as the ground of our confidence, the measure of our expectation, and the character of that inward salvation He imparts.

Murray mentions character in today's text. Character is a set of qualities that make somebody or something distinctive; their nature, and disposition. Of course, he is talking here about Christ and the Holy Spirit whose being is of the highest character of all.

Galatians 5:22 gives us a clear overview of the fruit (character) of the Spirit:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith [or faithfulness], gentleness, self-control.

After careful examination of this verse, these fruits “are to be regarded as the proper result of the Spirit’s operations on the soul.” (Albert Barnes)

A while back, I came across a video of a popular Christian worship group. As much as I wanted to participate, I sensed that something was wrong. The Holy Spirit clearly warned me by the absence of peace. I did not give it much thought at the time, other than that it was odd.

Later I noticed that my favorite worship leader had released a song that was co-written with this particular group. Now I was getting red flags. While I was grieved, I was not sure how to proceed. I listened to the new song many times, and it seemed as if it were true to the worship leader’s style that I was used to. I committed to praying about it.

Before I could come to any conclusions, things started going wrong in my life. Right and left, it seemed that the “heavenly life” that I was accustomed to (peace and joy) was becoming chaotic. Even my dreams were not peaceful, which meant that somehow my heart was affected. I stopped listening to this new music.

Instead, I began to research what has recently been coined as “strange fire.” While I have not had the time or energy to research this in depth, Frank Viola has done so, and you can find many articles about it on his website.

I found evidence to confirm that this particular group is, in fact, a problem for the Kingdom. They are demonstrating qualities that are clearly not of the Spirit. And their influence is spreading like wildfire through worship artists to many, including our youth.

I for one am deeply concerned and equally sad. Do you believe we should be concerned with where the lyrics to our worship songs originate? Write to me and give me your thoughts.

The Work Of Christ

“The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact expression of His nature, sustaining all things by His powerful word. After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” Hebrews 1:3 HCSB

One of my favorite movies of all time is Julie and Julia. In this film, the character of real-life Julie Powell decides she will blog her way through making all 524 recipes from Julia Child’s famous cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking. She is a writer at heart, and as she works her way through the project, she journals about her experiences while giving the audience a parallel glimpse into the life of Julia Child. In the end, a new generation of foodies falls in love with Julia Child’s recipes and her life story.

When I first started reading The Holiest of All last year, the particular website I was using for reference ended the book with chapter 18. Later when I received a copy of the book, imagine my surprise to find it contained 130 chapters. It is in reality a very long book.

However, I had already fallen in love with the book and had publicly announced that I would be blogging my way through the Epistle of Hebrews with this book as a commentary. While I did not plan for this study to turn into such a large project I can hope that, in the end, we will fall deeper in love with Jesus and His life story through understanding the Epistle of Hebrews. 

In an excerpt from chapter IV “The Glory of the Son in His Person and Work” Andrew Murray is giving an overview of the significance of Christ’s work in his book The Holiest of All:

The description of the glory of Christ's person is followed by that of the work of this Son in whom God speaks to us. God's words are deeds. It is in what Christ is and works that God speaks to us. In His divinity and incarnation we see what God has given us. In His life and death and ascension we see how the gift of God enters and acts in all our human life, how complete our salvation is, and what God now asks of us. All Christ's work is God's word to us.

That work consists in two parts: the one on earth, the other in heaven. Of the former it is said, ‘When He had effected the cleansing of sins;’ of the latter, ‘He sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.’ In a healthy Christian life we must know and hold fast both parts of Christ's work.

The work He did upon earth was but a beginning of the work He was to do in heaven; in the latter the work on earth finds its perfection and its glory. As Priest He effected the cleansing of sins here below; as Priest-King He sits on the right hand of the throne to apply His work, in heavenly power to dispense its blessings, and maintain within us the heavenly life.


To The Lamb, Forever

The book was given to me this week Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church: A Guide for Ministry. This quote stood out to me:

A biblical anthropology begins with humans created in the image of God in order to worship God by reflecting back to him his glory through their lives (Gen. 1:26–28). Therefore, we are not finally defined by either our behavior or our thoughts. Rather, we are defined by who we worship. We are fundamentally worshipers, and our identity is defined by what or who we are reflecting.

This got me thinking about the definition of worship. I found this in Easton’s Bible Dictionary:

Worship is homage rendered to God which it is sinful (idolatry) to render to any created being (Exodus 34:14; Isaiah 2:8). Such worship was refused by Peter (Acts 10:25 Acts 10:26) and by an angel (Revelation 22:8 Revelation 22:9).

To elaborate on what exactly homage means: Homage is a show of reverence and respect; especially putting another’s interest first (in this case God). It also means deference, which includes submission to the judgment, opinion, or wishes of another (again, God). It includes high esteem, admiration, and awe.

Obviously, worship is a lifestyle. However, it can also be a powerful source of strength. Something happens when we praise and worship God, especially when we are going through a difficult time. When we are able to praise Him no matter what the circumstance, He responds. (See Acts 16)

If you have frequented this blog you know, I love to praise and worship God. In the song below Chris Tomlin is pointing to the passage in Revelation 4 and 5 where you see the angels and all the creatures gathering around the throne of God in celebration, singing in a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb.” One day we will stand before this very throne, forever. 

Here is one of my favorite verses from Revelation 5:13:

I heard every creature in heaven, on earth, under the earth, on the sea, and everything in them say: Blessing and honor and glory and dominion to the One seated on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!

I Will Rise
By Chris Tomlin

There’s a peace I’ve come to know
Though my heart and flesh may fail
There’s an anchor for my soul
I can say, “it is well”

Jesus has overcome
And the grave is overwhelmed
The victory is won
He is risen from the dead

I will rise when He calls my name
No more sorrow, no more pain
I will rise on eagles’ wings
Before my God, fall on my knees
And rise
I will rise

There’s a day that’s drawing near
When this darkness breaks to light
And the shadows disappear
And my faith shall be my eyes

And I hear the voice of many angels sing, “worthy is the Lamb”
And I hear the cry of every longing heart, “worthy is the Lamb

The Full Revelation Of Christ

“Long ago God spoke to the fathers by the prophets at different times and in different ways. In these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son. God has appointed Him heir of all things and made the universe through Him.” Hebrews 1:1-2 HCSB

We find ourselves faced with a matter of great significance. Mr. Murray believed that understanding the two stages in which God deals with man was top priority. He does not want us to be content with the first stage. He wants us to know “the living Word,” in all its “life and power.”

I have gone over this chapter repeatedly hoping to find superfluous words, desperately trying to summarize what Mr. Murray is saying here. However, each word and thought bears much weight. While I have never been content with the lower stage he describes, somehow God is maximizing the reality and depth of "the divine indwelling Word [as it] reveals its power within.”

We continue where we left off in chapter II titledThe Son - More Than the Prophets” in The Holiest of All by Andrew Murray:

It is of the utmost consequence for our spiritual life that we should rightly understand these two stages in God's dealing with man. In two ways, not in one; not in more than two; in two ways has God spoken.

They indicate what, in substance, is God's way with every Christian. There is, after his conversion, a time of preparation and testing, to see whether he willingly and heartily sacrifices all for the full blessing. If in this stage he perseveres in earnest effort and striving, he will be brought to learn the two lessons the Old Testament was meant to teach.

He will become more deeply conscious of his own impotence, and the strong desire will be wakened after a better life, to be found in the full revelation of Christ as able to save completely. When these two lessons are learned—the lesson of despair of self and hope in God alone—the soul is prepared, if it will yield itself in faith to the leading of the Holy Spirit, to enter truly into the New Testament life within the veil, in the very Holiest of All, as it is set forth in this Epistle.

Where Christians, through defective instruction, or through neglect and sloth, do not understand God's way for leading them on unto perfection, the Christian life will always remain full of feebleness and failure. It was thus with the Hebrew Christians. They belonged to the New Testament, but their life was anything but the exhibition of the power and joy Christ came to reveal.

They were far behind what many of the Old Testament saints had been; and the reason was this— they knew not the heavenly character of the redemption Christ had brought. They knew not the heavenly place in which He ministers, nor the heavenly blessing He dispenses, nor the heavenly power in which He secures our enjoyment of these blessings.

They knew not the difference between the prophets and the Son; what it means that God has now spoken to us in His Son. The one object of the Epistle is to set before us the heavenly priesthood of Christ and the heavenly life to which He in His divine power gives us access. It is this that gives the Epistle its inestimable value for all time that it teaches us the way out of the elementary stage of the Christian life to that of full and perfect access to God.


The Old And The New

“Long ago God spoke to the fathers by the prophets at different times and in different ways. In these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son. God has appointed Him heir of all things and made the universe through Him.” Hebrews 1:1-2 HCSB

As much as I desire to pick up the pace of this study, I find it necessary to listen to the pleading of Andrew Murray. He is calling for us to stop and secure in our minds the two stages in which God deals with man. He goes to great lengths to make his point and I cannot help but take notice. He goes so far as to say, “It is of the utmost consequence for our spiritual life.” He is clearly serious.

You may be wondering what all of this has to do with liberty in Christ. In short, it is because the more I grasp the relationship between the Old and New Testaments the more I realize what was missing from my understanding of how Christ sets us free.

We find deep observation of both in this study on the epistle of Hebrews. I continue with an excerpt from The Holiest of All by Andrew Murray titled The Son - More Than the Prophets:

We all know that there are two Testaments—the Old and the New. These represent two dispensations, two modes of worship, two sorts of religions, two ways in which God has intercourse with man, and man draws nigh to God. The one was provisional, preparatory, and intended to pass away. What it gave and wrought was not meant to satisfy, but only to awaken the expectation of something better that was to come. The other was the fulfillment of what had been promised, and destined to last forever, because it was itself a complete revelation of an everlasting redemption, of a salvation in the power of an endless life.

In both Old and New Testament it was God who spake. The prophets in the Old, and the Son in the New, were equally God's messengers. God spake in the prophets no less truly than in the Son. But in the Old everything was external and through the mediation of men. God Himself could not yet enter and take possession of man and dwell in him. In the New all is more directly and immediately divine—in an inward power and reality and life, of which the Old had only the shadow and hope. The Son, who is God, brings us into the very presence of God.

And wherefore was it that God did not, could not, from the very beginning, reveal Himself in the Son? What need was there of these two ways of worshipping and serving Him? The answer is twofold—lf man were indeed intelligently and voluntarily to appropriate God's love and redemption, he needed to be prepared for it. He needed first of all to know his own utter impotence and hopeless wretchedness. And so his heart had to be wakened up in true desire and expectancy to welcome and value what God had to give.

When God speaks to us in Christ it is as the Father dwelling in the Son. "The words that l say unto you, I speak not from Myself, but the Father abideth in Me doeth the works." Just as God's speaking in Christ was an inward thing. So God can still speak to us in no other way. The external words of Christ, just like the words of the prophets, are to prepare us for, and point us to, that inner speaking in the heart by the Holy Spirit, which alone is life and power. This is God's true speaking in His Son.


When God Speaks

“Long ago God spoke to the fathers by the prophets at different times and in different ways. In these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son. God has appointed Him heir of all things and made the universe through Him.” Hebrews 1:1-2 HCSB

As we embark upon the journey into the Epistle of Hebrews, we are beckoned to merely listen. At some point, I intend to pick up the pace on this large study. However, in this first chapter of Andrew Murray’s book The Holiest of All we pause to establish the posture of our hearts going forward.

The following is an excerpt from the chapter titled The Son in Whom God Hath Spoken (emphasis mine):

When God speaks in His Son, He gives Him to us, not only for us and with us, but in us. He speaks the Son out of the depth of His heart into the depths of our heart.

Men's words appeal to the mind or the will, the feelings or the passions. God speaks to that which is deeper than all, to the heart, that central depth within us whence are the issues of life. Let us believe the mighty, quickening power God's word will have.

…God is a Spirit. As such He has no other way of communicating to us His life or His love, but by entering our spirit and dwelling and working there. There He causes Christ to dwell, and there He speaks to us in Christ these words of redeeming love and power which bring life to us.

The words of Christ can bring us no profit, except as they unfold to us what God is working in us, and direct us to what is to be revealed in our heart. It is the heart God wants; let us open the whole heart to listen and to long.

God hath spoken in His Son! The living Jesus, come forth from the fiery furnace of God's holiness, from the burning glow of everlasting love, He Himself is the living Word.


The Heavenly Sanctuary

One of my favorite authors is Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896). Technically, she could be considered the very first Christian Life Coach. She wrote over 30 books, with my favorite being The American Woman's Home.

The more I study her books and life I realize that Harriet and I have a great deal in common. Besides the fact that she loved teaching women how to see to the health of their family’s needs in detail, she had the opportunity to witness the brutality of slavery first hand. She developed a deep compassion for those trapped in a life of slavery.

My favorite commentary to the title verse of this blog (II Cor. 3:17) is from Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible:

And where the Spirit of the Lord is – wherever this Gospel is received, there the Spirit of the Lord is given; and wherever that Spirit lives and works, there is liberty, not only from Jewish bondage, but from the slavery of sin – from its power, its guilt, and its pollution.

My passion is to see people follow Christ and be set free from the slavery of sin in all of its manifestations.

Andrew Murray had a great deal to say about the subject of freedom in Christ. However, he does not call it freedom; he preferred to use words such as joy, strength, victory, and life.

In Murray’s book The Holiest of All, his object is to teach us the knowledge in the Epistle of Hebrews that will show us how to follow the Lord fully, yield ourselves completely, and find in the gospel and in Christ everything that we need for this life.

I am expecting great things from this journey into Hebrews. I now present the final excerpt from the introduction into The Holiest of All:

It is Jesus Christ we must know better. It is He who lives today in heaven, who can lead us into the heavenly sanctuary, and keep us there, who can give heaven into our heart and life.

The knowledge of Jesus in His heavenly glory and His saving power; it is this our Churches and our Christians need. lt is this the Epistle will bring us, if we yield to that Spirit who speaks in it, to reveal it in us.

lt is therefore with great confidence that l invite all who long for the rest of God, for a life in the holiest of God's love, for the fullness of faith and hope and love, to take up the study of the Epistle, with the confident assurance of finding in its revelation of what Christ and His salvation are, the deliverance from sin and sloth, the joy and the strength of a new life.