The Love Of God ( 1 John 3:16, KJV ) by Carley Evans


God, the Father watches us all everywhere.
(Photo credit: angelofsweetbitter2009)

God displays His love for us — fully revealed through His death on the cross.

“Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”

Knowing God’s love for us, we ought to love one another — love that is sacrificial; love that gives up something precious for the sake of another.

“Sinners Saved” ( Hebrews 7: 25, NIV ) by Carley Evans


God the Holy Spirit writes about sin in believers:

“See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” (Hebrews 3:12-13,NIV)

Jesus, the Son of God intercedes for believers. No need to intercede for those who do not sin.

“Therefore [Jesus] is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them.” (Hebrews 7:25)

Jesus made one sacrifice for all sin.

“By one sacrifice He has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” (Hebrews 10:14)

“If we deliberately keep on sinning, after we have received knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.” (Hebrews 10:26-27)

“Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” (Hebrews 12:1)

“In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.” (Hebrews 12:4)

Obviously, Christians are called not to sin; but we do. And thank God, Jesus’ sacrifice nails those sins to the cross and His shed blood washes them away. The Holy Spirit says, “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” (Hebrews 10:17)

“To Put Away Sin Once For All” ( Hebrews 9: 26, ESV ) by Carley Evans


How many times does Jesus die? How many times is He nailed to a cross? How many times does Jesus suffer? I’m sure the answer is obvious — once. “Christ, having been offered once to bear the sin of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for Him.” (Hebrews 9:28)

How many times do Levitical priests enter the holy places to make sacrifices for the sins of many? Not once, but “every year with blood not [their] own.” (Hebrews 9:25) Their sacrifices are repetitive and only temporarily effective. On the other hand, Jesus “has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.” (Hebrews 9:26) In putting away sin, Jesus solves the problem. He ends the separation of man and God, becoming “the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance.” (Hebrews 9:15) “We are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (Hebrews 10:10)

There is no need to crucify our Lord again. Sacrifices offered year after year only remind us of sins; they do not permanently take them away.  Jesus enters “heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.” (Hebrews 9:24) What or who is able to do more for us than this? What self effort or effort of others is able to save us so completely as Jesus Christ?

“Not To Deal With Sin A Second Time” ( Hebrews 9: 12, ESV ) by Carley Evans


“[Christ] enters 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.” The blood of goats and calves secure only a temporary redemption, one that requires repeating and repeating, year after year. “Under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” (Hebrews 9:22)

“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.” (Hebrews 9:24-25) Instead, He “appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.” (Hebrews 9:26)

“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.” (Hebrews 9:28)

Notice when Christ returns, He is not coming back to deal with sin, for He has already finished dealing with sin. Instead, when He comes again, He is returning to save. His sacrifice for us is once for all, and need not be repeated.

“Fierce In Wrath” ( Nahum 1: 2, HCSB ) by Carley Evans


God is an avenging and jealous Lord; taking vengeance — “fierce in wrath.” Though He “is slow to anger;” He is “great in power” and “never leaves the guilty unpunished.” (Nahum 1:3)

The Lord proclaims, “I kill them with the Words of My mouth. My judgment strikes like lightning. For I desire loyalty and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings. But they, like Adam, violate My covenant; there they betray Me.” (Hosea 6:5-7)

“I depart,” says God, “and return to My place until they recognize their guilt and seek My face; they search for Me in their distress.” (Hosea 5:15)

The Lord says, “Seek Me and live!” (Amos 5:4) “Seek good and not evil so that you may live, and the Lord, the God of Hosts, will be with you, as you claim. Hate evil and love good; establish justice.” (Amos 5:14-15)

Then, we repent. “Come,” we say to each other, “let us return to the Lord. For He tears us, and He heals us; He wounds us, and He binds up our wounds. He revives us after two days, and on the third day He raises us up so we live in His presence. Let us strive to know the Lord. His appearance is sure as the dawn. He comes to us like the rain, like the spring showers that water the land.” (Hosea 6:1-3)

His Name is Jesus, and He is “the One who comforts.” (Isaiah 51:12) He is the One who “is pierced because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities, punishment for our peace was on Him, and we are healed by His wounds.” (Isaiah 53:5)

By His sacrifice, God’s fierce wrath is satisfied.

“Not Of Human Will Or Effort” ( Romans 9: 16, NIV ) by Carley Evans


Odd how we speak of man’s free will while denying God’s sovereignty in all matters. We don’t appear to have any difficulty accepting that God obviously preferred Abel’s sacrifice over Cain’s though both offered gifts of significance — after all, Cain appears to be just as sincere as Abel. The big difference is Abel’s sacrifice reflects Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice and the shedding of His blood for our sins. Cain’s offering represents mankind’s self-effort, the work of his hands. As such, no matter how good it appears, it is lacking and unacceptable to our God.

We don’t doubt God’s sovereignty in His choice of Abram and Sarai to become a great nation, or His selection of Joseph rather than his brothers or of Jacob rather than Esau — even before either one had done good or evil. And God chose Mary to be the vessel for His Son, Jesus. God even, most especially, chose Judas to betray Jesus with a kiss.

Paul deals with God’s sovereign choice especially well in his letter to the Roman church. Some are destined [not designed] to be vessels of God’s mercy while others show forth God’s wrath — the wrath which remains on them just as it is removed from others. All are born as vessels of wrath. These vessels of wrath show forth God’s great mercy which He has in store for those who are vessels of His mercy.

Many are called; few are chosen. This, I know, on the surface appears extremely unfair. But the reality is that once our DNA was altered by Adam and Eve’s sin, God just as easily could have abandoned us as a worthless project, a project gone wrong. Instead, He sent His Son into the world so that He might save it.

“Shall I Offer My Firstborn” ( Micah 6: 7, NIV ) by Carley Evans


“What does the Lord require?” (Micah 6:8) Does He require “the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” (Micah 6:7) Does He desire the sacrifice of “my firstborn for my transgressions?” (Micah 6:7) Does He demand sacrifice of me? Or, does He ask me “to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with [my] God.” (Micah 6:8)

He cries out to me that He requires me “to fear [His] Name [which] is wisdom –[and He says,] ‘Heed the rod and the One who appoints it.'” (Micah 6:9)

“Though I sit in darkness, the Lord is my light. Because I sin against Him, I bear the Lord’s wrath, until He pleads my case and establishes my right. He brings me out into the light; I see His righteousness. Then my enemy sees it and is covered with shame, she who says to me, ‘Where is the Lord your God?’ My eyes see her downfall; even now she is trampled underfoot like mire in the streets.” (Micah 7:8-10)

She tells me continuously I must do this but not that, go here but not there, be this but not that — but, God says to me: “The day for building your walls is here.” (Micah 7:11)

“Who is a God like You, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of His inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You again have compassion on [me]; You tread [my] sins underfoot and hurl [my] iniquities into the depths of the sea.” (Micah 7:18-19)

Therefore, I “remember [my] journey” and I “know the righteous acts of the Lord.” (Micah 6:5)

“Partakers Of The Divine Nature” ( 2 Peter 1: 4, NIV ) by Carley Evans


How is it that we, who are called by God into His Kingdom, are able to “participate in the divine nature?” Is it due to something inherent in us? Or, is it due to God’s generosity? The answer is obvious — nothing we are, nothing we do explains our “escape [from] the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” Only the sacrifice of Jesus, the Son of God adequately explains our sharing in the divine being. All other explanations pale by comparison. Avoidance of sin, fervent worship, self-sacrifice, martyrdom — none of these fully meet God’s requirements for being divine.

We are provided with “His divine power [which] gives us everything we need for life and godliness.” (2 Peter 1:3) “[We] are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God.” (1 Peter 2:9) We are partakers in the divine nature simply because although “once [we] had not received mercy, […] now [we] have received mercy.” (1 Peter 2:10)

God’s mercy is the reason we share in His nature. “In His great mercy, He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade — kept in heaven for [us], who through faith are shielded by God’s power.” (1 Peter 1:3-5)

Our faith guarantees our inheritance — not because we generate that faith — but because of the shield of God’s power. God shields us “from the corruption in the world” and seals us for “the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Peter 1:5)

“Jesus Christ: Our High Priest” ( Hebrews 8: 1-2, NIV ) by Carley Evans


Our High Priest, Jesus Christ “meets our need.” He is “one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens.” (Hebrews 7:26) Jesus is everything we are not. “He does not need to offer sacrifices day after day.” (Hebrews 7:27) His sacrifice is “once for all.” (Hebrews 7:27) And, on top of this truth, “He always lives to intercede” for those He loves. This is why we can say without equivocation that Jesus “is able to save completely those who come to God through Him.” (Hebrews 7:25)

Jesus’ sacrifice is “set up by the Lord, not by man.” (Hebrews 8:2) This is also why His sacrifice is completely effective; why nothing need be added to it. Jesus Himself cries out in triumph before His death on the cross: “It is accomplished [paid in full]!” (John 19:30)

Before God, those of us who come to Him through His Son, need not fear. Our salvation is a purchased gift, paid for in full by the blood of Jesus. No debt remains. Therefore, let us praise Him who “always lives to intercede for [us].” Amen.

“Can Never Perfect” ( Hebrews 10: 1, HCSB ) by Carley Evans


“Since the law has only a shadow of the good things to come, and not the actual form of those realities, it can never perfect the worshipers by the same sacrifices they continually offer year after year.”

 

When I was young, I used to pretend my shadow was a friend; a friend who looked very much like me except without definition — without facial features or voice or action of its own. Not only this, but my shadow was completely dependent upon a light source being behind me. Otherwise it would not cast itself before me.

 

God’s law is “not the actual form” ” of the good things to come” but only a shadow of them. Because the law is only a shadow, “it can never perfect the worshipers” who offer sacrifices “year after year.” “In the sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” (Hebrews 10:3-4)

 

God isn’t interested in “sacrifice and offering.” He “does not delight in whole burnt offerings and sin offerings.” (Hebrews 10:5,6) Instead, God sends His own Son so that we “are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (Hebrews 10:10) “This man, after offering one sacrifice for sins forever, sits down at the right hand of God. (Hebrews 10:12) “For by one offering He perfects forever those who are sanctified.” (Hebrews 10:14)

 

God declares, “I never again remember their sins.” (Hebrews 10:17) Don’t forget: “Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.” (Hebrews 10:18)

 

Like our shadows, the law is a featureless reflection of the good things to come.