The Intercession of Christ – What Is Our Salvation?

Old English Archer

Most of us heard this passage quoted to us as we were led to the Lord…

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; [But we] Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; (Romans 3:23-25 KJ2000)

We were made to see that we are all sinners, but God has made the provision of His Son to deal with that. But how many of us understand this word “propitiation”? In old England they had what were called “Whipping Boys.” If a man of stature in that culture committed a crime that was punishable by a public flogging he could hire a whipping boy who would take the beating for him. This comes close to what “propitiation” means.

 We also have been told that the word “sin” in the New Testament means is to miss the mark or to fall short. It was an old English archery term. When an archer would shoot at a target and fall short the spotter at the target area would call out, “Sin!” And we all know how we have fallen short of the glory that God has for us to walk in—the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Now consider these two passages from the New Testament…

 

In this way, Jesus has become the guarantor of a better covenant. There have been many priests, since they have been prevented by death from continuing in office. But because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore, because he always lives to intercede for them, he is able to save completely those who come to God through him. We need such a high priest-one who is holy, innocent, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. (Hebrews 7:22-26 ISV – emphasis added)

Who is he that condemns? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. (Romans 8:34 KJ2000 – emphasis added)

 My wife, Dorothy, and I just got back from a road trip to Texas and drove a grueling 5000 miles on our journey. We went down there to go to our grand daughter’s wedding which was a nice family gathering with two of our kids and their families, One of the highlights of the trip for us was a visit with Charlie Lafferty and his dear wife, Alice, who live just east of Dallas. Their hospitality was wonderful. What made my visit with Charlie stand out was one morning we were sitting at his kitchen table and we got to talking about how Jesus is at the right hand of God making intercession for us. Charlie was saying how he had always heard the above verse in Hebrews interpreted to mean that God is mad at us sinners and ready to toss us all into hell and Jesus is there at the right hand of God pleading with Him not to do it. He said that didn’t seem right to him, so I got out my computer Bible program and here is what Thayer’s dictionary has to say about the Greek word that was translated “intercession” in the above verses.

 G1793 – ἐντυγχάνω entugchanō

1) to light upon a person or a thing, fall in with, hit upon, a person or a thing

2) to go to or meet a person, especially for the purpose of conversation, consultation, or supplication

3) to pray, entreat

4) make intercession for any one

From [two Greek words] G1722 and G5177

 G1722 – ἐν en

  • in, by, with etc.

and

G5177 – tugchanō

1) to hit the mark

1a) of one discharging a javelin or arrow

  • to reach, attain, obtain, get, become master of

So to intercede means to reach and obtain and hit the target WITH Christ making this possible for us to do as He sits at the right hand of God in heaven.

 Paul used this same Greek word when he wrote,

 In the same way, the Spirit also helps us in our weakness, for we do not know how to pray as we should. But the Spirit himself intercedes [entugchanō] with groans too deep for words, and the one who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, for the Spirit intercedes [entugchanō] for the saints according to God’s will. And we know that he works all things together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:26-28 ISV)

God fills us with His Spirit who also fills-in for our weaknesses and prays according to the will of God for us. It is the will of our Father that the Son and the Spirit of God hit the mark in our behalf. Wow! Everything we need is in Christ! David caught the intent of God’s heart concerning us when he wrote,

 He has not dealt with us according to our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. Like as a father pities his children, so the LORD pities them that fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. (Psalms 103:10-14 KJ2000)

When we sin we miss the mark of our high calling in Jesus Christ, “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God,” but…

Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; Who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house… But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house [family or household] are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end. (Hebrews 3:1-6 KJ2000)

He is at the right hand of God, our Father, as the Head of His household and as such is our intercessor hitting the mark with God for us as we trust in Him. It is as if He takes our short comings (sins) and replaces them with HIS ability to hit the mark (intercede) with God. WE then are found IN Him with the ability [grace] to reach, attain, obtain and become masters of all that pertains to His holiness! God is not that angry judge sitting there just waiting to punish us! NO! That is a lie from hell. As Jesus put it, “For God so LOVED the world that He sent His only begotten son, that whosoever would believe (cling to, rely on and trust in) Him would NOT perish, but have everlasting life.” What a great understanding Father we have and what a Savior we have in His Son!!!

800 years before Christ, Isaiah prophesied of this great saving work that God would do for His creation saying,

Yet it was the will of the LORD [the Father] to bruise him [God’s own Son]; he has put him to grief; when he makes himself an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring, he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand; he shall see the fruit of the travail of his soul and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous; and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he poured out his soul to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:10-12 RSVA)

 Amen! Thank you Lord Jesus for making every provision we need to please our Father as we trust in you.

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Do We Really Love?

Religion-love affair

Why has God put in our hearts this need to be loved? We all seem to have this human trait in common if we take the time to get in touch with our emotions. Physiologists have found that infants which are not held and loved, but otherwise have their physical needs met, will eventually die. Then I would ask this… Is the need to love as strong in any of us as the need to be loved? Between these two longings seems to be a large chasm fixed. Why this deficit? Doesn’t it stand to reason that God created man with as great a capacity to love as he has to be loved? As I look at the scriptures it seems that God has both of these qualities equally. He speaks of Israel as His longed-for bride in the Old Covenant and in the New He speaks of the church as the bride of Christ. He longs for our devotion and love as well as defining Himself as Love. This deficit to love is at the root of the damage that came upon mankind when Adam and Eve fell. When they sought to be made “wise” without Him, they became self-centered and cold.

 John wrote,

Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and everyone that loves is born of God, and knows God. He that loves not knows not God; for God is love. (1 John 4:7-8 KJ2000)

 Here we are commanded to love, but there is no command to be loved is there? No, the longing to be loved is innate in us and God put it there for God IS love. What a bold statement! But even bolder is the command written here to love one another, “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and everyone that loves is born of God, and knows God.” Do we really love one another, my fellow saints? Do we love one another the way God loves us? Isn’t this what John is saying, “Everyone that loves is born of God” Do we really live as if He IS our Father, living by the same attributes?

 I recently wrote the following in a letter to a dear friend in Christ, “Is love just a game? Is it some kind of sport where we maneuver with one another, each one trying to get into a position so that the other one needs us but we maintain control so we don’t need them? As I look around at all the relationships I have seen, it really seems to be the case. How often have you ever seen a married couple that both NEEDED each other the same amount with the same intense love? Or is it that I have come from such a dysfunctional family background that I perceive relationships this way?”

 How often in the relationship between two people do you see a mutually in-depth love for one another? Isn’t it almost always lopsided? Today I see so many marriages where one person loves the other and the other one seems indifferent and self-centered. There are many unequally yoke couples in Christendom today. The ones who have truly given themselves to one another spirit, soul and body in complete unity, the unity that the Father has with the Son are rare indeed. Yet, isn’t it something we all long for who are IN Christ? Grant it, not all are really IN Christ among even those who call themselves “Christian,” yet is not this the very gauge that John has put forth in the above quoted passage? If this malady is true of husband and wife relationships in the church, how much more is it true of the relationships that members of Christ’s body have with one another who are not so closely bound? I can’t get away from Jesus last will and testament:

That they all may be one; as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that you have sent me. And the glory which you gave me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and you in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that you have sent me, and have loved them, as you have loved me. (John 17:21-23 KJ2000)

 Christian unity, even marital unity and love for one another are bound together. John goes on to write,

 And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love; and he that dwells in love dwells in God, and God in him. In this is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. (1 John 4:16-17 KJ2000)

Can you see how these two verses here tie right in with Jesus’ final prayer? “He that dwells in love dwells in God and God in him.” Coupled with, “I in them, and you in me, that they may be made perfect in one…” How many of us really dwell in love and unity? Don’t most of us spend our waking hours dwelling on our own needs and desires? Yet in 1 Corinthians chapter 13 is this an attribute of the love of God? Here Paul wrote, “Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful…” Is God really dwelling in us as we spend the day focused on our wants and desires? If so He must be pushed into a back room closet.

 “He that dwells in love, dwells in God and God in him.” Do we so dwell in the love of God that we are made perfect by His indwelling power of love in us? Are we made perfect in love? And if not will we have boldness on that judgment day? John seems to tie the love of God in with boldness as well for he continues to say,

 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and he who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because he first loved us. (1 John 4:18-19 RSVA)

 We love because He first loved us. His love for us and in us has enabled us to love as He does, also. Fear has torment, yet if we are dwelling in the love of our Father, if we really know HIM as the one who loves us so, we will have no fear from Him or anyone else for that matter. Love does that! It makes you bold. Bold enough to love others as God loves you without fear. How many of us love this way? Aren’t we afraid to be vulnerable with one another and as a result aren’t we really afraid to love for fear of being dumped or fear that if we share our most intimate secrets with a person they will not love us anymore or worse yet, blab them to others whom we do not trust?

 Aren’t most of us afraid to let our real emotions show for fear of criticism or being crushed? So there we go living life wanting to be loved by others, yet afraid to let them know it? You see, for real love to work it requires great vulnerability and many opportunities to be wounded. This is why John inserts here the fact that perfect love casts out fear. We must be so moved by the love of our Father that we can openly communicate His love to others and be willing to keep loving them even when that love is not reciprocated. This is the kind of love that Jesus had for those who killed Him, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!” (Matthew 23:37 RSVA).

 It is said that the apostle John whom we quote, was the longest living of all the apostles and as such he was the last one living that had seen and lived with Jesus Christ. They would bring him into a gathering of saints on a stretcher and they would wait to see what this old saint would have to say to them and he would rise up on one elbow and say, “Little children, it is enough that you love one another.”

 So, dear saints, I pray that we might all be so changed by the love of our Father that we become instruments of His love to others regardless of how they do or do not receive us. “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.” THIS is the way God loves and it is here that we will manifest whether we are truly mature in Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

 A new commandment I give unto you, That you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another. (John 13:34-35 KJ2000)

Two or Three… Intimacy in Christ

last supper“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20 KJ2000)

What does it mean to have intimacy with our Lord? Jesus often indicated that God desires intimacy with all of us. For instance, in John chapters ten and fifteen, He is a Shepherd that calls His sheep by name and leads them in a personal way. He is the Vine and we, His branches, are attached directly to Him and we get all our nourishment from Him. Even evangelical churches call Him our Personal Savior. But after we get saved in one of these institutions, how “personal” does He become to us?

Most of us grow up in families that are very fractured and in most, even the best of them, time spent with our parents in an intimate way is very rare due to the pressures of supporting a family and so many other distractions like TV. Then there is “church.”

In my own experience with “church,” the machine divides the family from having time together more than it promotes family intimacy. There is the need to be at the church every time it is open; Sunday morning service that ushers the kids off to “children’s church;” Sunday school that is divided up by age groups; Wednesday night prayer service that doesn’t welcome kids; and all the kid and youth activities at the church during the week. Let’s not forget to mention Royal rangers and church youth camp. On and on it goes, all in the name of promoting a “Godly family.” Go figure!

The same thing happens with our own “personal” relationships with Christ. We get “saved” and then what happens? We are told that we need to sit and listen to sermons delivered by one man. We have go to Sunday school classes with their man-made curriculums (and even fill in the blanks) in a one-size-fits-all lesson plan. If we dare to share what is really on our hearts on “prayer meeting night,” it is sure to become the gossip for the church “prayer chain” during the week. So we learn to be secluded, isolated and divided instead of truly becoming members one of another as the Church was meant to do.

The Machine prevails in the lives of most Christians. Their “relationship” with who they think God is becomes like that scene our of 1984, where all the people have blank stares on their faces as they watch Big Brother on the screen and are filled with his mind controlling propaganda. Is it any wonder that Christian circles have a “group speak” that is blindly followed that dictates what is proper to say and what is not?

So, what must happen in the life of a saint that is caught-up in this system for him or her to find that intimacy with the Lord Jesus had in mind when He saved them? Soren Kierkegaard wrote,

“We warn young people against going to dens of iniquity, even out of curiosity, because no one knows what might happen. Still more terrible, however, is the danger of going along with the crowd. In truth, there is no place, not even one most disgustingly dedicated to lust and vice, where a human being is more easily corrupted – than in the crowd.

 “Even though every individual possesses the truth, when he gets together in a crowd, untruth will be present at once, for the crowd is untruth. It either produces impenitence and irresponsibility or it weakens the individual’s sense of responsibility by placing it in a fractional category.

“For instance, imagine an individual walking up to Christ and spitting on him. No human being would ever have the courage or the audacity to do that. But as part of a crowd, well then they somehow have the “courage” to do it – dreadful untruth!

“The crowd is indeed untruth. Christ was crucified because he would have nothing to do with the crowd (even though he addressed himself to all). He did not want to form a party, an interest group, a mass movement, but wanted to be what he was, the truth, which is related to the single individual. Therefore everyone who will genuinely serve the truth is by that very fact a martyr. To win a crowd is no art; for that only untruth is needed, nonsense, and a little knowledge of human passions. But no witness to the truth dares to get involved with the crowd.

“His work is to be involved with all people, if possible, but always individually, speaking with each and every person on the sidewalk and on the streets – in order to split apart. He avoids the crowd, especially when it is treated as authoritative in matters of the truth or when its applause, or hissing, or balloting are regarded as judges. He avoids the crowd with its herd mentality more than a decent young girl avoids the bars on the harbor.

“Those who speak to the crowd, coveting its approval, those who deferentially bow and scrape before it must be regarded as being worse than prostitutes. They are instruments of untruth.”

There is so much truth here! When they were spitting on and mocking Jesus, it was the crowd who persecuted Him. The same soldier who spit on Him never would have come up to Him privately and done so. The same thing is true of worship and prayer. When we come together in a crowd and try to express openly what we feel, we are shut down and end up singing a canned song from a hymnal or praying a canned prayer from a prayer book. At best, we might pray something out loud that we know won’t get us ridiculed by the rest of the crowd.

How did Jesus really teach? He was always intimate when He taught. Yes, he taught the crowds in parables, but He gave the meanings of those parables to His hand-selected disciples, and often spoke to them individually as He addressed their heart issues. Even the twelve were whittled down to three when he went up on the mountain to meet with His Father, and only John had the title, “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” A herd mentality or a mind imprisoned by a church system won’t let you hear the truth about what it means to be intimate with Jesus. It saddens me when people who claim to be Christians have a group identity that is more important to them than their true identity that is found by abiding IN Christ.

Jesus was and is intimate! He taught the woman at the well privately. He taught Nicode’mus (or at least tried to), but not the Sanhedrin. He had a close friendship with the family of Lazarus and especially Mary. He spoke to Nathaniel about what He saw him doing under the fig tree. He called Matthew the tax collector in a personal way and no one else that day. He spoke salvation personally to the woman caught in adultery and condemnation to her religious persecutors. He picked out Zacchaeus from the crowd and had dinner with him. Jesus was and is a Personal Savior! Imagine the intimacy of the woman kissing His feet, washing them with her tears and drying them with her hair in Simon’s house. All Simon the Pharisee could was to judge them both. Religion is cold and impersonal at best, and so are church services, for the most part. Many people like it that way and feel “safe” lost in the crowd at their mega-churches. Toward the end of the time when I was still trying to find Jesus in church services and conferences, He always spoke to me about things that were unrelated to the service. He was becoming my personal Christ!

Christians are fearful of intimacy! Prudish religion tells us that intimacy is an evil word and is something to be avoided at all costs least the flesh rise up and get involved. In true conversion and salvation, our stoney fleshly heart is removed and we are given the heart of Christ! Our old sinful minds are replaced with the mind of Christ and His commandment of love is written on our hearts (read Jeremiah 31:31-33, Ezekiel 36: 26-27 and Hebrews 8).

Jesus insists that He is coming back for His bride and loves her very much. She loves him with a love that is without blemish. God speaks of being a Husband to Israel all through the Old Covenant. Jesus never called His Father “God,” but rather “Father.” He tells us to call NO man father, but only our Father in heaven. He calls Himself the Son and tells us that we are all siblings or “brethren.” He tells us that He is the Good Shepherd. Even David had that figured out when he said, “The LORD is MY Shepherd…”

Dear saints, don’t fear intimacy with God. He is not the great and fearful Oz who stands behind a curtain flicking levers and pulling ropes as He tries to portray an image that scares little people into submission. The curtain between us and our Father was torn from top to bottom when Jesus died for us on the cross. He even tears down the veil of separation between us as individuals as we abide in Him. In Christ there is no slave nor free man, no Jew nor Gentile, no male nor female, but a new Creation (see 2 Cor. 5:17 and 21) that abides intimately with the Father and the Son and with one another as well. You can’t do this in a crowd!

This is why the early church met in homes. Their homes were not like our 2000 square foot plus homes in America, but much smaller and many only had one room. Families were intimate, so it was not a fearful thing in the early church. We fear it because of our socially imposed distance, the big buildings we meet in, the isolated cars we travel in, fenced up yards that keep us isolated from our neighbors, the cubicles at work, and so on. If we get into an elevator, we all turn and face the door and no one dares to speak. Even in church we look straight forward at the lecturer and rarely venture a side long glance at “our neighbor” unless told to do so by the man up front. When the “service’ is over we scurry to grab our kids and get out to the car so we can beat the crowd out of the parking lot. It is all a lie. The crowd is a lie. This is NOT the church!

Jesus never said, “Where two or three hundred are gathered together, I will be there…,” but He did say, “If any man (not any church or any nation) will open up to me I will come into him and sup with him and he with me.” He did pray, “Father, that they might be one even as we are one, I in you and you in me that they might be one in us.” It is always about intimacy with the Lord. The intimacy that the Son has with the Father is to be ours with each other as we are ONE with one another. Then the world will know that the Father sent the Son to be a personal Savior with each person in His creation. Will we say, “Yes Jesus! I want that personal intimacy with you! I want to know you as the lover you have called me to be IN you. I want to know my fellow saints who want this same intimacy that is lived by the Father and the Son”? This should be our prayer and deepest heart’s desire if we are truly called and chosen by the Father.

Bless you all as you seek His wonderful face.

 

The Glory of the Lord in His Living Temple

Stoning of Stephen

And Stephen, full of grace and power, did great wonders and signs among the people. Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue… disputed with Stephen… But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he spoke… and they came upon him and seized him and brought him before the council, and set up false witnesses… And gazing at him, all who sat in the council saw that his face was like the face of an angel. (Acts 6:8-15 RSVA)

And Stephen went on to say,

 

“Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made with hands; as the prophet says, ‘Heaven is my throne, and earth my footstool. What house will you build for me, says the Lord, or what is the place of my rest? Did not my hand make all these things?’ “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did not your fathers persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.” Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth against him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; and he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God.” But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together upon him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him; and the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. And as they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And he knelt down and cried with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep. (Acts 7:48-60 RSVA)

 

Stephen was the infant church’s first martyr and there is much to be noted here in this story that lead up to his death. . First, note that God had done a great work in Stephen and he was filled with the grace and power of God. It was not of him! Stephen’s message for the Jewish leaders was straight from God and they refused to hear it. If those who live a lie can’t refute the message, they often will kill the messenger. And what was that message? That God does not live in temples of stone and wood, but in one that is made of Living Stones (See 1 Peter 2:3-5). And that the carefully orchestrated system that the Jews had built up around the teachings of Moses was NOT what God had in mind. That those who saw themselves as keepers of the law were the worst form of law breakers, killing the very Messiah that the Father sent to them, just as they killed the prophets that were sent before Him to show them the way. God had even warned them that because they broke the old covenant, He was about to do something altogether new and that it would be founded on His own Son, NOT Moses (Read Hebrews chapters 7 and 8). But these lawless ones plotted to kill the Heir so that THEY could posses the vineyard of God for themselves (See Matthew 21:33-40).

What is interesting to me is that God spoke through Stephen with great wisdom and power, and emphasized what he was saying by changing the way he looked, making his face like that of an angel! These people were without excuse! God did all He could short of sending Jesus back in His resurrected body to warn them! But they already refused to hear Him!

Is it any different today? How many of us have run up against that same spirit that hates God and resides over HIS vineyard, the church, and always resists HIS Holy Spirit? How many of us have been cast out of the synagogues of church men because we spoke the words of the Holy Spirit? The more things change without the changing power of God, the more they remain the same. The church system that has evolved is the same bloody system that rejected Jesus and killed HIM. As long as they resist the Spirit of God, they will be controlled by that same evil spirit that took control of the first covenant and its temple system. Remember, it is the builders who reject the Precious Stone that God selected to be the Head of the corner (read Matthew 21:42-44).

 

The Witness of a Shining Face

 

For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us. (2 Corinthians 4:6-7 RSVA)

Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. (1 Corinthians 15:49 RSVA)

 

Here we have this extraordinary witness of Stephen as the glory of God showed on his face. What a contrast he must have been to those authorities that had the darkness of Satan on their faces as they were filled with hate! God does that. He loves contrast. Where there was darkness and chaos upon the deep He said, “Let there be light!” Where people were the social rejects of Israel, He sent His son to be a friend of harlots, publicans and sinners! Like one dear brother said to me, “If you want to find where Jesus is working today, it is the same place He has always been, among the sick and the rejects. Get out of your churches and mingle with the outcasts of society and you will find Him there.”

 

But what I want to address here is not where it is NOT at, but where it IS. Consider the following passage:

You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: Since you are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart. And such trust have we through Christ toward God: Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; Who also has made us able ministers of the new covenant; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter kills, but the spirit gives life. But if the ministry of death, written and engraved in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not steadfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away: How shall not the ministry of the Spirit be more glorious? For if the ministry of condemnation be glory, much more does the ministry of righteousness exceed in glory. For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excels. For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remains is glorious. Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech: And not as Moses, who put a veil over his face, that the children of Israel could not steadfastly see the end of that which is abolished: But their minds were blinded: for until this day remains the same veil not taken away in the reading of the old covenant; which veil is done away in Christ. But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their hearts. Nevertheless when one shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away. Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. (2 Corinthians 3:2-18 KJ2000 – emphasis added)

Actually, this whole passage is very enlightening. We know that the Old Covenant had the glory of the Lord in the form of the Shekinah that was over the mercy seat of the Ark. Moses’ face shown with that glory because of His visits with God on Mount Sinai. When that glory began to fade, Moses hid his face with a veil because he didn’t want the people to see that the glory was passing away. Because of the rebellion against Him, God had Moses take the tent of meeting outside the camp. As that rebellion grew, even Moses’ testimony was affected until he entered into it himself and was forbidden to enter the Promised Land. The glory of the Lord was rapidly fading because of the sin of unbelief. Dear saints, it is this same sin that we, the very church of Christ, are warned about in Hebrews chapter four which can infect us!

Now, imagine what was going through Saul’s (Paul’s) mind as he watched the glory of God reappear on the face of the first martyr of the NEW Covenant! The very man that he was partaking in the murder of! The old system had been Ichabod (the glory has departed) for hundreds of years! Even the Ark where the glory once rested was lost during the Babylonian captivity and in the temples that were built later, the Holy of Holies was just an empty room.

Now ponder these two verses:

“But if the ministry of death, written and engraved in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not steadfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away: How shall not the ministry of the Spirit be more glorious?” (2 Corinthians 3:7-8 KJ2000).

YES! How can the ministry of the Spirit in the New Covenant not be MORE glorious on the faces of those who minister IN the Spirit and Life of Christ?

What changed my heart and got my attention when God captured me in 1970 was this very thing. I saw the glory of the Lord on the faces of a handful of young Spirit filled Jesus People. It was a glory and life I HAD NEVER SEEN in any church building or congregation I had ever been part of. Here was the witness that God used to change my life forever!

Did everyone see what I saw resting upon these kids? Probably not, no more than everyone sees what I have seen on the faces of the precious saints I have met since then and have come to love so much. Why doesn’t everyone see it? There is still the problem of the veil.

But their minds were blinded: for until this day remains the same veil not taken away in the reading of the old covenant; which veil is done away in Christ. (2 Corinthians 3:14 KJ2000)

The veil of empty sin-filled lives and empty religion must be taken away as we abide IN Christ and refuse to abide in anything less than HIS fullness and glory! As Paul put it, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” If we are truly abiding IN Christ and not just in dead religion, we will be beholding the glory of Jesus as Moses did. His glory will change us into that same glory as the Spirit of Christ continues to work in us. What a precious promise we have been given, dear saints!

May we all seek HIS face and never settle for anything less until the fullness of Christ is formed in and on us! And may Jesus’ final prayer be fulfilled at last, “That they all may be one; as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that you have sent me. And the glory which you gave me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one.” (John 17:21-22 KJ2000).

Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon you. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon you, and his glory shall be seen upon you. And the Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. (Isaiah 60:1-3 KJ2000)