Draw Near

“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16)

The “Christ alone” message challenges us to let go of what comes most natural to our human nature— control. God appointed Christ to suffer and pay the penalty for our sin. It was a debt we couldn’t pay, but one that Jesus lovingly paid on our behalf. Christ has redeemed us, perfectly and for all time. All of salvation is by God’s grace, and it comes through faith alone in Christ alone. Jesus lived a life we couldn’t and He died a death we wouldn’t. We don’t have to add to what Christ has done because we can’t. Instead, we are to trust in His finished work.

As believer’s, our confidence to “draw near” is not because we’ve worked up enough goodness in and of ourselves to be worthy enough to draw near. No, it’s because Jesus, our Great High Priest has made atonement for sin and thereby opened the doorway to grace. It’s Christ who is worthy! So, let us do as the Hebrew writer says. Let us draw near to the throne of grace, and to the cross, the central symbol of all Christ has done on our behalf. We don’t have a God who is unapproachable, but one who calls us to come boldly and confidently before His throne knowing that it’s there where we will find mercy, ever flowing grace, and help in our time of need.

Why “Being Good” Can’t Be Good Enough

“All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one” (Romans 10:12)

I imagine all of us at some point have wished that “being good” was good enough to spend eternity with God. There are people we love that one day leave this world making us wonder if they ever put their trust in Jesus Christ. And even with the best of intentions, we wish God would grant salvation based on their “goodness”. The problem in wishing that is it’s not what the Bible teaches. To think otherwise is to misunderstand the relationship between the Old and New Testaments, to ignore numerous passages of Scripture and to read others out of context. Our beliefs must conform to God’s inerrant Word.

The Bible teaches that we’re saved by faith alone in Christ alone. That is the distinguishing characteristic between Christianity and all other religions. The Bible says that “none is righteous, no, not one” that “no one seeks God” and that “no one does good, not even one” (Romans 3:10-12). And about our righteous deeds it says, they’re like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). God really is that holy and we all fall short of the perfect standard He set, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). But thankfully, God didn’t leave us in that condition. By His grace, He has provided a way of salvation for us in Christ. Our stains have been washed clean by the blood of Christ (Ephesians 2:13). Jesus willingly traded His righteousness for our sin (2 Corinthians 5:21) and by His wounds we have been healed (1 Peter 2:24). This is the message we share. This is the good news. This is the gospel. Let these truths never be lost. Though perhaps we might sometimes wish salvation rested on our goodness, the Bible clearly teaches it doesn’t. Salvation results from one thing—trusting in the finished work of Christ, because, unlike us, He was good enough!

Yet Without Sin

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15)

The great message of the gospel is that Jesus accomplished what we couldn’t. God is holy, so holy, He cannot look upon sin. Sin has separated us from God, but because of His love for us, He has provided a way of forgiveness. That way is through Christ.

Described as a “word of exhortation”, Hebrews was written to encourage Jews to remain faithful to their confession of Christ. The increased intensity of their persecution had caused some to deny their identification with Christ and fall back into certain aspects of Judaism.

The primary theme of the book of Hebrews is the supremacy of Christ. Jesus, the mediator of the new covenant did what the old covenant mediators couldn’t. Under the old covenant, the priest’s role was to act as an intermediary between God and the people. They offered sacrifices for their sins and the sins of others. These sacrifices had to be repeated. Jesus, however, is the perfect High Priest who’s once for all sacrifice atoned for sin for all time. He is the High Priest worthy of praise.

Jesus understands our weaknesses because He was made weak and suffered temptation, yet did so without sin. We can have no better advocate than the one who walked through the temptations of humanity free from sin, yet chose to die for ours, only to then overcome the grave. Live in light of that truth and give Him the praise He is due. Worthy is the Lamb!

A Mighty Fortress

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1)

Most know Martin Luther as the leader of the Protestant Reformation. If you were to associate Luther with only one book of the Bible, it would probably be Romans. His conversion resulted from its study. But Martin Luther also loved the psalms and Psalm 46 was one of his favorites, serving as inspiration for his writing the hymn, A Mighty Fortress Is Our God. Continue reading