Thursday, August 20, 2009

Faith in Times of Affliction

Holding onto your faith can be a tremendous struggle at times. Sometimes it seems as though God has forgotten about you, your struggles or your pain.

I felt like this recently. I have struggled with something the Church views at utterly sinful for as long as I can remember. I have been ridiculed and insulted from pulpits. I have been misunderstood and hated by Christians. I have been thrown out of Church’s. I have been embarrassed at times to even be called a “Christian”.

The Church, that should be a place of love and tolerance, is sometimes, and more often than not, the breading ground for intolerance and hatred.

Sinners often leave the Church condemned rather than free, angered rather than at peace and burned-out rather than refreshed.

I have been angry with the Church, with God and with His Word. Having struggled with Same-sex attractions as a Bisexual male has not been easy in a culture that out-rightly and unapologetically, not to mention hypocritically, denies you the right to full membership and constantly misunderstands you.

But instead of getting upset, I smile. I am not ashamed to say that I am tempted in this way any longer because behind the social-masks and the proud displays of religion some Christians wear, I know that deep within us all is brokenness. We have all failed God. We have all failed each other. No one can say that he or she has acted perfectly at all times.

My sin may be different to yours, but sin is sin. As James puts it: “For whoever keeps the whole law, but stumbles on just one point, has broken the entire law” (Jas. 2: 10)

Maybe you are having sex prematurely, or maybe you are addicted to pornography. Perhaps you are angry with God or His Church. Some may be gluttons or smokers. There are many different sins and whether we like it or not, we have all committed a few in our lives. That’s Okay. It doesn’t shock God. He is the beginning and the end. He is all-knowing. He knows your end from your beginning. He knows what you did yesterday, but greater still; He knows what you will do tomorrow, or the next day or even in three years time. When you failed and sinned, He was not surprised. He knew it was coming. He was not disillusioned because He never had any illusions in the first place.

AND HERE IS A HUGE MYSTERY: Jesus died for ALL of your sins before you were even born. Imagine that! Our God must know every sin we will ever commit because HE DIED FOR THEM 2009 YEARS AGO AND HAS ALREADY FORGIVEN US FOR THEM ON THE CROSS. Jesus does not need to die each time we sin. HE DIED ONCE and His sacrifice was perfect.

In the Old Testament we see pictures of Christ in The Sin Offering. A lamb (without blemish or spot) was brought before the High Priest to be sacrificed for the forgiveness of Israel’s sin once a year. The High priest would examine (inspect) the sacrifice and make sure that it was perfect. If the Lamb was perfect, then it would be acceptable to God as a sin-offering and Israel’s sin would be forgiven. The High Priest knew that if the sacrifice was perfect, then God would forgive Israel of all of her failures.

Jesus is our Sacrificial Lamb. He is our sin offering. HE IS PERFECT, without blemish or spot. We may fail, but we have a perfect Sin Offering. Remember, the High Priest inspected the Offering to make sure it was Holy, not Israel. Likewise, when God wants to see whether we are holy or not. HE LOOKS AT THE SACRIFICE (Jesus) God does not look at us. Based on our thoughts, actions, behaviours and past we will fall short of Gods glorious standards. We are all sinners. No one is perfect, not even one. God knew this, and so when He declares us Holy it is not because we did something right-But because Jesus has washed us clean of every impurity.

I love the way Paul saw Jesus. He was in Love with God in everyway. Jesus was his romance, his Joy and his delight and when he describes Him he says: “Jesus is our High Priest forever in the order of Melchizedech.”(Heb.5:6)

I love that! A High Priest is the representative of a nation before God (Heb 5:1). This word “representative” literally means “to imitate, personify or act in place of someone else”.

Representatives personify whoever they represent. If I sent you as my representative to President Zuma, he would view every word you spoke as my words, your every action as my actions, and your every thought as my thoughts. You would be imitating, personifying and acting in place of me!

When the High Priest went before God he was representing and personifying Israel. If he was Holy then God would view Israel as Holy. But if he was evil, God would view Israel as such.

Jesus is our High Priest Forever! He represents us before God always! He imitates us, personifies us and acts on our behalf in Gods presence! OH YES!

Just like Old Covenant High Priests, Jesus represents us before God. If He is Holy, God sees us as Holy. And you know what? JESUS IS HOLY AND ACCEPTABLE. Therefore, because we have this great High Priest we can rejoice. God sees us as Holy and Acceptable.

But Brogan, what if I sin? Will I still be holy and acceptable then?

God will view us as Holy and Acceptable for as long as our High Priest is holy and Acceptable. Ask yourself: Is He? YES HE IS. And here is the magic word: “FOREVER.”

“Jesus is our High Priest FOREVER in the order of Melchizedech”

Jesus represents us before God always. Therefore we are ALWAYS holy and acceptable! Even when you fail and mess up, because, as I have already shared, Jesus forgave you of all of your sin before you were even born by being your Sacrificial Lamb.

But, I am so sinful? Surely God see’s that?

Moses had a word from God that said the Israelites were to kill a lamb and place the blood of the lamb on the doors of their houses. God warned that the Angel of Death would pass-over Egypt at night and kill all the firstborn sons of each family. However, if the Angel of Death saw the blood of a lamb on the doors of a house, he would pass over them and no harm would be done.

The Angel of Death did not inspect the family. He did not ask them their names or ID numbers. He did not check to see if they were black or white, pink or yellow. He did not look in the window to see what they were doing. He did not look for sin.

He looked for one thing only: BLOOD. If he saw blood, then the family would be saved, irrespective of their history, financial statements or sinfulness.

Likewise, when God looks at us he is looking for one thing: BLOOD.

It is no coincidence that Jesus died on the Day of Pentecost. He is our Passover Lamb and His blood has been poured all over us. When God looks at us, when He sees Jesus’ Blood, He is pleased and His wrath and anger pass over us. He knows you are a sinner, but He see’s blood and His wrath is quenched.

But I was taught God was Just. Surely a Just God must punish sin?

God is Just and He takes sin very seriously. He does not make light of our sin. He hates sin. In fact, He takes sin so seriously that He sent His One and Only Son to die on the Cross to suffer the punishment of your sin.

God hates sin BUT HE HAS ALREADY PUNISHED SIN ON JESUS. The Bible tells us that Jesus took all of Gods Wrath and Anger upon himself at the Cross. God’s anger and Wrath are fully satisfied. Jesus took it ALL. There is nothing left for you. You do not have to fear wrath or judgement because Jesus, as your representative, High Priest and Sacrificial Lamb, quenched all of Gods Wrath and Anger on the Cross. All God has left is Love.

The Book of Isaiah teaches that God says “Just as I promised in the time of Noah to never let a flood cover the whole earth again, so now I promise that I will never be angry (disappointed or disillusioned) with you ever again.” (Isaiah 54: 9)

God has promise to never be angry or disappointed or disillusioned with us EVER AGAIN.

If you fail-no anger

If you sin-no disappointment

If you get angry and upset with God-there is still no anger, frustration or disillusionment.


Does this mean that God will bless me even when I sin?

OF COURSE As Paul said, Jesus is our High Priest forever in the Order of Melchizedech. Unlike the AARONIC PRIESTHOOD that had the power to Bless and to Curse, the Melchizedech Priesthood ONLY BLESSES! Oh yeah! Jesus will never send a curse your way because HE TOOK EVERY CURSE UPON HIMSELF AT THE CROSS. Now, He only sends blessings our way! We have complete peace with God and can rest assured in our Salvation.

Melchizedech was the King of Salem. “Salem” means “Peace”. He was the King of Peace, Just like Jesus. So many Christians are living under condemnation, falsely believing that God is angry or upset with them or that He is disappointed with their performance. They are not at Peace.

But Jesus is Peace and we can have peace between ourselves and God through Christ.

I do not know which sins you struggle with. I do not know the hurt and pain the Church has put you through. I do not know where you are or what you are doing. But one thing I know for sure is that JESUS DOES ACTUALLY LOVE YOU. And that God is not angry or disappointed with you. You do not have to be ashamed, or avoid Him. If any one has any right to hate God it is me…but I trust Him because He is not His Church. They may fail me, but He never has.

So does this mean that I may sin whenever I want to?

Sin is still sin, even if we all deal with it and even if Jesus did die on our behalf. It is impossible not to sin, but the Grace of God was given and it “teaches us to say no to unrighteousness and to live soberly in this present age” (Titus 2:12). The Revelation of HOW GOOD GOD IS will catapult you into a life lived in LOVE FOR GOD. Sin will become boring to you. As the Scriptures testify: Those who are forgiven much; Love much. When we learn just how much gunk Jesus has freed us from and forgiven us of, WE WILL LOVE HIM MUCH. We will live for Him naturally.

But how exactly?

If you have received Christ you are a new creation. Your Sinful Nature has been removed and replaced with a Righteous Nature. Innately, you are Righteous. Live out of this Righteousness by Grace.

That however is for a whole new blog, right now all I want you to know is HOW MUCH JESUS ACCEPTS YOU AND LOVES YOU.

Grace and Love Always


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