“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another; and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25).
There are some who neglect the meetings for reading of the Word of God and Bible study at their local assembly because they feel that they can learn more by reading and studying at home. Now it is true that there may be much weakness in those that minister the Word, or in the ministry, and there may be much that is discouraging. The Bible teaches us that we can expect things to get weaker as we draw nearer to the end and the coming of the Lord. But as we realise that we are in days of weakness we need to be more concerned than ever that we would, “strengthen the things which remain” (Revelation 3:2).
While you may be able to learn more at home, you won’t be able to minister it to others. While you are feeding yourself, your empty chair at the meetings will probably add to the discouragement of others who are struggling too. You DO make a difference. Be an encourager. Be there!
At the beginning of this week I want to pass on a story I hope will speak to anyone reading this who is only pretending to be a Christian.
Many years ago on a busy street in New York City, a boy was selling mince pies, and was crying out: “Hot mince pies—get your hot mince pies while they last!” A man stopped and bought one but found to his chagrin that it was not hot at all, but rather ice cold.
He went back to the boy and said: “Why do you call these ‘hot’ mince pies?”
“Because that is the name they go by, sir.”
Hearing this story made me think of so many who call themselves Christians, and yet it is in name only. People may think that they are on fire for the Lord, when in fact they are really very cold. Here is a very sobering verse from the Bible to consider in this regard: “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth” (1 John 1:6).
The royal One died in order that we might become the King’s sons!
Prior to His birth, the Lord’s royal claims were acknowledged: “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David: And He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end” (Luke 1:32-33).
In His infancy, the wise men said, “Where is He who is born King of the Jews” (Matthew 2:2)?
In His kingly entrance into Jerusalem the crowds cried out, “Hosanna to the Son of David” (Matthew. 21:9). Yet this King was rejected! “Though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9).
May we worship and adore the one of whom it says, “He shall reign for ever and ever…And He hath on His vesture and on His thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS” (Revelation 19:16; 11:15).
“Have faith in God” (Mark 11:32). “For by grace are ye saved through faith” (Ephesians 2:8).
“Faith” comes before “feelings” in the dictionary, and so it does in the matter of our spiritual blessing. Many would like to reverse it. They would like to feel happy before in simple faith they have taken God at His word, but God would not have our assurance of salvation to rest on such a flimsy foundation as our feelings. He would have us rest on Christ and His atoning sacrifice.
Feelings ebb and flow and come and go like the tides that wash the shore. Christ’s work is abiding. God’s way is unchanging. It has been put something like this: The Lord Jesus did it, the holy God says it, I, the sinner, believe it.
The Lord Jesus suffered for sins upon Calvary’s cross.
The holy God says, “Whosoever believeth in Him (the Lord Jesus) shall receive remission of sins.”
I, the sinner, believe what God says about His Son and what He has done. I know that forgiveness of sins is mine.
Happy feelings depend upon our faith in Christ’s sacrifice and in God’s Word about it.
“Unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation” (Hebrews 9:28).
The heavens, which now hide the Lord Jesus from our natural eyes, will presently open, and Jesus will come forth to bring His people into the full blessing of His accomplished work. It will be the fulfilment of the Lord’s own promise. What a day that will be! “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:3).
Are we looking for that day? Are we truly watching and waiting? Are we like those of whom it says, “Blessed are those servants, whom the Lord when He cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that He shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them” (Luke 12:37)?
In summary we learn from these three appearings:
Christ has put away our sins by the sacrifice of Himself.
Christ lives in God’s presence for us, and bears us up through life’s journey.
Christ will come and take us home to be with Him forever.
“For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us” (Hebrews 9:24).
Having risen from the dead, having put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself, Jesus, the High Priest, has entered into the holiest by His own blood, and now appears in the heavens, the Man Christ Jesus, in the presence of God for His people, for whose sins He died. He lives to die no more, and He Himself, once the Sacrifice on earth, is now the Priest on high for His people. He appeared on earth to die for us; having died, He appears in God’s presence to live for us. He abides there our Priest. “Seeing then that we have a Great High Priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an High Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:14-16).
“But now once in the end of the world hath He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself” (Hebrews 9:26).
The Lord Jesus has appeared here in this world—on planet earth—and has done a mighty work to the glory and eternal satisfaction of God His Father. He could say of that work, “I have glorified Thee on the earth: I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do” (John 17:4).
He will never thus appear again. The cross is eternal in its issues. What He has done can never be added to nor taken from. “For by one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified” (Hebrew 10:14). God would be unrighteous if He required another sacrifice for sin now. Never will the Lord appear again to offer Himself. It is done! What a glorious fact!
By the sacrifice of Himself He has accomplished this most mighty work, and as a result, for His people, sin is put away. It will also be put away from the earth by virtue of that sacrifice, and then the Father’s will shall be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
I suppose we all wonder, and ask ourselves this question. Thankfully, God has not given us the ability to see into the future, as far as life here on earth is concerned. If we could see ahead, even for a day or two, it would be a burden we could not carry, and we would be constantly trying to change things that we have no control over. The Christian life consists in living for Christ today and leaving tomorrow to His wise discretion. That’s really the meaning of the verse that says, “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof” (Matthew 6:34).
As we look ahead, one thing is certain: there is a bright and sure future for the believer. It is to be with Christ in the Father’s house, and to sing the songs of heaven for eternity. The Lord’s promise, made so long ago, still stands: “I will come again” (John 14:3). That hope and future is indeed “sure and stedfast” (Hebrews 6:19).