“Ian, , look up into the firmament – see the vast space – the activity which you can only see a fraction of – that is Me – I embrace that all – as many as the stars out there are my thoughts – even more, about you and the rest of My creation. Then consider yourself – you are unique, there is only one of you – but as complex and wonderful is My creation – so you are not complete yet – not perfected yet – that is why I am moulding you, sculpting you to conform to My likeness – and sometimes the knife is sharp and cuts deep and is painful, but the harvest of righteousness it produces is abundant. so be patient, appreciate the work of Jesus who has bridged the gap from the distant firmament to your heart – so that you can have communion and continue growing.”
So Kathy is leaving herself a small escape hatch – “it is almost impossible to lose one’s salvation”, she says. I think I know what she means but want to reassert that there is “nothing that can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:39b). But there is doubt. What is the doubt? Let me say clearly the doubt is not about losing salvation, but whether one was saved in the first place. So of course the next question is “can I be sure I am saved”. Well friends that is what the major thrust of Hebrews is from ch 6:31 on. So this picture is going to build and gather momentum as we go along.
But maybe, as a starting point. Take a step back and remind yourself that the life and death of Jesus is an historical fact, having taken place in a specific place and at a specific time. This is well documented even outside the bible. The purpose of His death and what it accomplished is explained over and over in the bible. Ask yourself now “Do I believe that He lived and died as described? Do I understand why He had to die and what He accomplished? Am I putting my trust in Him as these FACTS reveal, not relying on my subjective feelings?” If you have doubts about your salvation take that step and affirm your decision to trust God asking Him again to fill you to the full with His presence. Don’t be afraid of doing this, you can do it as often as you want to and God will always respond.
Now back to Hebrews. I have reached ch 8. The role of Jesus as high priest has been established and His absolute ability to save completely (or to the uttermost) as been established in Chs 6 and 7 ( summarized in Heb 7:25). We now come to the central part of the writer’s argument in Hebrews (mainly from ch 8-9), which focusses on the New Covenant. Notice 8:1 “the point of what we are saying is this:”
So now he turns to discuss the terms of the New Covenant, which, to put it another way was God’s explanation of the way He was going to interact with His creation, put in the form of a promise which, as we read earlier cannot be revoked. Now before we study this Covenant, let us stop and consider one question. “Did God make a mistake with the Old Covenant that He had to replace it with a New one?” cf 8:7 “For if there had been nothing wrong with the first covenant, no place would have been sought for another”, 8:13 “By calling this covenant ‘New’, he has made the first one obsolete”.
The answer lies in 8:8 “But God found fault with the people”. So God instituted the Old Covenant with the people, after He had demonstrated His grace by rescuing them from Egypt. This is well documented in Exodus. The terms of the covenant rested on the promise of God to Abraham (Gen12:1-3) and simply required a response from the people to love Him and show this by obeying all the laws He had laid down to how to demonstrate this. eg Exodus 19:5,6. The problem with the ‘people’ was that the reneged on their side and turned away from God to follow other gods, abandoning much of the law and culture He had laid down. The promise of a New Covenant is made through Jeremiah to the people who were in exile in Babylon which was their ultimate punishment for their disobedience.
So the next question we may ask is: “was He not being unreasonable in expecting all this from a sinful people who were really unable to respond correctly”? The answer to that question must be that He was setting the scene over a long period of time to demonstrate the necessity and value of Jesus’ work when He eventually came. All this history was surely known by God before it happened, yet He had to show how weak we are without the work of Jesus, around whose coming the whole of the New Covenant revolves.
So I ask myself: “Am I still excited by the terms of the New Covenant? Every time I read it I am thrilled again from the start.