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October 2nd, 2017

Where the Day of Atonement fits into the story of the Bible and in particular its context in Leviticus.

The following video explains this in a less than 7minutes.

Bible project

Overview of Leviticus Click here.

Now this leads to a need to discuss more fully the biblical concept of holiness.

 Holy Click here.

This helps us to understand a bit more the overwhelming awe and thankfulness of the early church for the gospel of Jesus Christ. He entered completely into our common everyday lives, crossing the separation between us and God, freeing us from ritualistic impurity and by his blood freeing us from moral impurity so that all aspects of our lives – spirit, soul and body- can be acceptable to God. This means that God can dwell in us at all times, in all that we do. We are no longer impure or unclean.

While there is more to say, sufficient to hear the wonder of how he has delivered us from our sins:

Hebrews 10:10-13

10 And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
11 Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God,

Jesus said that he was the temple of God. In himself he makes atonement for us so that it if we are in in him we meet God. He is the eternal meeting place between man and God. And in him God meets us.

13 and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool.

But the world is not fully liberated – it is not at one with God . All Jesus’ enemies are our enemies – evil has not been fully eradicated, Satan has not be finally bound, death has not been replaced by life.

So we have to patiently endure the contradictions of having the firstfruits of the Spirit while still experiencing the present groaning of the creation.

God has joined us to him through the Spirit’s work. We are enjoying the firstfruits of being made holy, without any impurity in God’s presence.

Our response is described in 1 Thessalonians 5:7

For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.

And how we do is given in 1 Thessalonians 3:13

May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones;

Not only do we stand in Christ blameless and holy in the presence of God, our Lord Jesus is working to make us blameless and holy In the presence of God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ when he comes.

Main message

N. T. Wright:

The taxi driver looked back at me in his mirror. His face was a mixture of amusement and sympathy. We were stuck in traffic and he’d asked me, as they do, what I did for a living.

‘Ah,’ he said, ‘you Church of England people’ (having told me he was a Roman Catholic himself). ‘You’re still having all that trouble about women bishops, aren’t you?’

I had to admit that that was indeed the case.

‘The way I look at it,’ he said, ‘is this: if God raised Jesus Christ from the dead, all the rest is basically rock’n’roll.’

It is a rather glib statement. But in one sense it does reflect what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15: 17

And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.

Yes he is raised and we are not still in our sins.

Reflect on the wonder of the resurrection and what it achieved for us in
in John20:1-18. Jesus says something really overwhelming in this passage.

Did you read especially “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”?

Jesus is fundamentally saying what I have with the Father I am sharing with you. The oneness you saw me have on this earth is now your oneness with the Father through me.

How can this be?

And what does this mean?

Robert Walker:

Normally we think the gospel is the cross, and then the resurrection is kind of an extra. But in many ways, it’s the resurrection… you can’t separate the two.

There’s a verse of Paul, “Jesus was put to death for our sins and raised for our justification.” Raised for our justification. It’s the resurrection that makes us righteous. The cross puts away our sins, but it’s the resurrection that makes us righteous.

The resurrection is an almighty event. It’s not just the raising of a body from death, it’s the beginning of a new creation — the beginning of the renewal of all of space and time.. it brings out the fact that the resurrection is forgiveness. It’s not just the proof of forgiveness, it is forgiveness, because in the Bible, sin and death are linked. So for God to undo sin, means to undo death. That means the resurrection is God’s undoing sin. It’s raising somebody up who has taken our sin out of the grave, so that is our resurrection.

That’s why Paul says, “If Christ is not raised, we are still in our sins.”

The resurrection of Jesus is our forgiveness in action. They’re identical — God forgiving and God raising Christ, they’re the same thing.

Thus the resurrection is NOT just some happy ending.

It is the starting point for everything. It has implications for the whole creation.

Jesus is the firstborn, the first fruits, and he’s the head that’s come out first, so the rest of creation will follow like the body of a baby in what’s happened to Christ.

The resurrection is not just somebody being raised from the dead, it’s the beginning of the reconstitution of everything — the beginning of heaven on earth. Complete Atonement.

JMF: That would imply that we don’t know what space and time will be like in the resurrection, once we are immortal. What will that look like — as something not like what we experience now, perhaps?

Robert Walker: We can’t say. But we can say that it will be this creation, these bodies of ours. We’ll recognize each other, so there will be continuity. Yet what it will be like when the creation is freed from sin, death, corruption and injustice, we can’t say. It will be far more wonderful and glorious — we can only look forward to it. The Bible says that it does not yet appear — we cannot yet see what we shall be like, but we know that when Christ comes again, we’ll be like him. It speaks of Jesus now having a new and more glorious body, a body which no longer dies.

JMF: After his resurrection he appeared to the disciples several times, including on the seashore, cooking a meal and eating it with them. Yet this was a resurrected body that he was appearing in and he was able to enjoy food and fellowship.

RW: Yes. I like those stories, because dead men don’t rise from the dead, so it’s striking that the first reaction of the disciples is…they don’t believe it. The risen Jesus meets some of the women, and the women tell the disciples he’s risen, and they don’t believe it, and they’re afraid because …is this a ghost? No, it’s real.

The fact that Jesus is raised, he’s the beginning of a new creation. In the 40 days that he was on earth, the new creation was overlapping with the old creation. When he ascended, we can no longer see the new creation that is there in Christ. We know it by faith, we know it because we meet and know Christ through the Spirit. We know the reality of it, and that’s what gives the New Testament its tremendous sense of victory, triumph and looking forward to what we will be. It’s not “pie in the sky” – it’s the renewal of this wonderful creation.

The resurrection of Jesus means that what God has done for Jesus he is beginning to do, in and through Jesus, for the whole of the rest of the world. And that is what it means to say that God is now becoming king of the whole world in the new way of which Jesus had spoken.

NT Wright:

John’s gospel, whose matchless twentieth chapter we heard a moment ago, is soaked in the idea of new creation, as Mary in the garden becomes for a moment Eve, weeping for her lost innocence and her lost Lord, and then discovering that the one she thinks is the gardener really is the gardener, the one through whose healing stewardship the whole creation will be dug afresh and planted with the Tree of Life. The resurrection of Jesus is the coming of the kingdom of God.

What the” rest is rock n roll” doesn’t mean, of course, is that ‘anything goes’, that there are no boundaries, no standards, no codes of behaviour.

NT Wright:

Rather, we should start once more from the resurrection of Jesus himself, and discover just what key the rock’n’roll is best played in.
The key, to say it again, is new creation: the new creation in which the little ones are put first,.. the new creation in which a woman is the first to bear the news of resurrection; the new creation in which the original male-plus-female pattern of the original creation is gloriously reaffirmed; the new creation in which sin can be faced, repented of and forgiven, rather than covered up or excused, because we know it was dealt with on the cross and we have therefore nothing left to prove….

and that we should celebrate the new creation in which sins are brought to light in order to be dealt with, new starts are possible, healing is real and available, and God is becoming king,… in the whole world, and in and through our own hearts and lives. God has raised Jesus Christ from the dead.

What a glorious hope we have in which we can participate as firstfruits today.

At the centre of our hope is the high priesthood of Jesus Christ. What we are upholding today is that we have a mediator.

Gary Deddo;

God’s relationship to his creation and creatures is a mediated one—that God is connected directly only to Jesus Christ and we are connected by the Holy Spirit to the humanity of Jesus Christ who is the one and only Mediator between God and humanity

1 Timothy2:5

For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus,

There is no other way we overcome sin and death. There is no other way we are perfected in our humanity. There is no other way in which we resist the lies of Satan. There is no other way we become a new creation.

The book of Hebrews has much to say about Jesus as the true High Priest. Because of the resurrection it is an everlasting high priesthood. Hebrews compares the power of his eternal priesthood with the inadequacy of the temple and priesthood under the Old Covenant.

The book of Hebrews also describes him as merciful and faithful. He is one who saves completely because he lives forever. He deals with us gently, understands our weaknesses. Why? Because he was made fully human though remaining sinless, blameless and pure even though he entered our sinful human situation. Jesus, our High Priest ascended to the heavenly Holy of holies, bearing his blood as an eternal sacrifice.

He was exalted by the Father, and seated at his right hand, he speaks for us. This means that in our union with the one who is our elder brother, we might confidently, even boldly, enter the presence of the Father by faith. Christians overcome Satan, the accuser of the brethren, by the blood of the Lamb and their confession of faith in Jesus.

We serve the living God, and offer sacrifices of praise, doing good and sharing with others!

Further in the book of Hebrews we read

Hebrews 10:1

The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming – not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship.

They were like shadows of the reality, not the reality itself – shadows cast by the bright light coming from God’s future.

Psalm 40:6-8 quoted in Hebrews 10:5-7,

6 Sacrifice and offering you did not desire –
    but my ears you have opened;
    burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require.
7 Then I said, ‘Here I am, I have come –
    it is written about me in the scroll.
8 I desire to do your will, my God;
    your law is within my heart.’

The Psalm explains: t he voluntary offering of a human being, coming to do the will of God is the real thing which God wanted. The real thing for which all the sacrifices and offerings of the Temple service were simply signposts, and somewhat inadequate ones at that.
Jesus and his obedience to the Father’s will is the reality.

Jesus has gone ahead of us into God’s future reality. He will reappear when that future reality bursts into the present for the whole world.
Our eternal High Priest calls us now to share God’s future in the present. How? We share in Jesus’ priesthood! What Israel was to have been – a kingdom of priests – is fulfilled in the one true Priest.

Through faith and because of God’s grace, we find ourselves sharing in his life through the Spirit.
1 Peter2:9

We are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

NT Wright:

What Jesus the Messiah has done, once and for all, comes both as the crown and completion of God’s previous purposes. It is the new reality which takes their place.

To agree with Psalm 40 is not… to say that there is anything wrong with the Old Testament, or the system it put in place. That system itself declared itself to be temporary. Now the proper replacement has come. Nobody in their right mind would stay with the temporary one, let alone go back to it having once experienced the new, and permanent, way which has come to birth.

But the New Testament also speaks of Christ’s active, continuing prayer for us. In Romans 8, and more fully in the Epistle to the Hebrews, Christ is portrayed as the one who prays for us as our representative. He is the High Priest, tempted yet without sin, sympathising with our weaknesses. He is unashamed to call us brothers and sisters. He is alive to speak for us, appearing in God’s presence on our behalf. We do not have to “get it right” to be heard by God. We can lean on Christ. We can know that he can take our cries before the Father more truly and sincerely than we ever could ourselves.

Ambassadors on foreign trips carry the needs of their country with them. They take their people’s concerns and speaking as they would if they could. In the same way Christ takes our feeble, muddled and uncontrolled prayers and directs them in the presence of Abba, Father. Our own prayer is thus purified, made clear, and purposeful. It is reshaped and renewed. How? Because now it happens with and “through Christ our Lord,” in whom we are represented.

If people don’t focus on Christ, they can drift away and begin to trust in other things instead of him. These other things can take many forms ranging from the ordinary to the religious.

The world changes when we view the world through Jesus Christ.

John 1: 14-18

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
15 (John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, ‘This is the one I spoke about when I said, “He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.”’) 16 Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given.
17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in the closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.

The central question of Christian theology is Who are you Lord? We must remain centred on Jesus Christ.

We need to know who we are in Jesus Christ. Remember he is risen and ascended to the right hand of God.

But also he has not retired. He has an uninterrupted ministry, which is not limited by age or tiredness that we experience. His resurrected life is ever dynamic. In this ministry he continues to represent on our behalf with God. We never stand alone on our qualifications before God. In him we are at one with God.

He has gripped our life even before creation and we depend on that grip. And it is the most powerful grip in the universe. More powerful than sin, than death, and Satan. Nothing can break that grip.

We are so joined to him that we cannot separate our life from what he is doing now in this world.

This is what we mean by atonement.

Message for the Day

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