He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.

Archive for June, 2013

GRACE LEADS TO WORSHIP


UNDERSTANDING GRACE LEADS TO WORSHIP

Therefore, since we are receiving a Kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us hold on to grace. By it, we may serve (worship) God acceptably, with reverence and awe for our God is a consuming fire.” Hebrews 12:28.

For about a month now, I have been meditating on and studying this verse in order to gain a deeper revelation of the basis of worship as believers in Jesus Christ our Lord and God.

Through researching the original Greek text several new perspectives have emerged that have opened up my understanding and enhanced my comprehension of the experience of worship.

Several messages I have heard recently have also shed some light and given a better understanding and appreciation of what actually takes place in the process of worship.

I approach this subject with “fear and trembling” and in reliance upon the Holy Spirit for His guidance and revelation of our privilege of entering into the realm of worshipping our King Jesus and our Heavenly Father through the Holy Spirit.

The 12th chapter of Hebrews begins with encouragement to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run the race marked out for us.” My hope is that we may do this in regards to our approach to worship in throwing off everything that hinders us and causes us to “miss the mark” or “fall short” and to run with ease the race marked out for us as we enter into the freedom of worship made possible for us through Jesus.

Verse 2 gives us the key to this victorious race to run when it says; “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the JOY set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and SAT DOWN at the right hand of the throne of God.”

I’m particularly drawn to the imagery of Jesus who for the prize of winning you and me and for the joy this brought to Him and our Abba, endured the utter scornful shame of the cross, finished the bloody work and then SAT DOWN on the right hand of His Abba on the very throne of God…mission accomplished.

It says in Hebrews 10:12 “But when this priest (Jesus) had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, He sat down at the right hand of God. Since that time He waits for his enemies to be made His footstool, because by one sacrifice He has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. 16 The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First He says:

This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds. Then He adds:

THEIR SINS AND LAWLESS ACTS I WILL REMEMBER NO MORE

. And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin.

Because the perfect work of Jesus as our High priest was FINISHED, once and for all, the sure promise of God is ours that our sins are forgiven and He will remember them no more because judiciously His full, righteous, judgment, condemnation and consequential wrath were poured out completely on Jesus on the cross where He once and for all “remembered” them and punished them in Jesus, in our place. Therefore He would now be an unjust judge to ever remember them again and hold them against us. God who is not bound by time, for all time and eternity dealt with all our sins; past, present and future. In fact, all our sins were at that time future sins and they were all removed and placed on Jesus some 2,000 years ago…paid in full.

2 Corinthians 5:21 “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1.

We are only able to worship Him; a Holy, Righteous, Pure God if we are acceptable before Him.

He has made us acceptable;

Coming to Him, a living stone-rejected by men but chosen and valuable to God- 5 you yourselves, as living stones, are being built into a spiritual house for a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” I Peter 2:4, 5.

This revelation of the completed work of Jesus on our behalf is what sets us free to worship Him completely, acceptably, and Holy (set apart as pure, undefiled objects of devotion).

The Spiritual sacrifices we offer are never for our sins, less we degrade the eternal blood sacrifice of Jesus made on our behalf, nor are they to appease God in any way but rather are acceptable sacrifices of praise and worship freely given in response to His amazing gifts of forgiveness and His righteousness by His grace; His unmerited, unearned, and undeserved favor.

It is as we delight in His redemptive work and in our transformation into His Kingdom as New Creations that we are compelled to freely worship the One who has truly set us free!

With this as the solid foundation for our approach to worship as New Covenant believers, the original passage can now be explored.

Therefore, since we are receiving a Kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us hold on to grace. By it, we may serve (worship) God acceptably, with reverence and awe for our God is a consuming fire.” Hebrews 12:28.

The Therefore, of this verse refers to the preceding verses that described the scene on Mount Sinai and the giving of the Law on the first Pentecost when the mountain shook and verse 21 says, “The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, “I am trembling with fear.”

This is then contrasted with: ” Instead, you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God (the heavenly Jerusalem), to myriads of angels in festive gathering23 to the assembly of the firstborn whose names have been written in heaven, to God who is the Judge of all, to the spirits of righteous people made perfect, 24 to Jesus (mediator of a new covenant), and to the sprinkled blood, which says better things than the [blood] of Abel.”

We as believers in Jesus, have been brought to a much better place contrasted with trembling Sinai to a place that is UNSHAKABLE, Mount Zion; the heavenly Jerusalem, where myriads of angels are gathered in joyful, festive, jubilant celebration! This is a party to top all parties and we are all there to celebrate Jesus, the mediator of a New Covenant and to the sprinkled blood, which says much better things than the (blood) of Abel. Abel’s blood cried out for revenge and justice. The blood of Jesus cries out REDEMPTION AND FORGIVENESS!

A warning is given to not refuse Him who speaks, meaning, Jesus who offers the free gift of Salvation to all who will believe and receive it because the day is coming when everything will be shaken, once again…

For thus says the Lord of the armies of heaven, ‘Once more in a little while, I am going to shake the heavens and the earth, the sea also and the dry land. And I will shake all the nations; and they will come with the wealth of all the nations; and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the Lord of the armies of heaven. ‘The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine,’ declares the Lord of the armies of heaven. ‘The latter glory of this house will be greater than the former,’ says the Lord of the armies of heaven, ‘and in this place I shall give peace,’ declares the Lord of the armies of heaven.” (Haggai 2:6-9)

Verse 27 of Hebrews 12 then says, “The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.

The “what” is explained in verse 28 as The Kingdom of God.

Therefore, since we are receiving a Kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us hold on to grace. By it, we may serve (worship) God acceptably, with reverence and awe for our God is a consuming fire.” Hebrews 12:28.

The permanent, unshakable, solid foundation of the Kingdom; the Rule and Reign of Jesus Christ as our King who is the same yesterday, today and forever gives us the certain confidence to approach His throne of grace with boldness and freedom knowing that through His body, the curtain torn, we have eternal access to the Holy of Holies, the very presence of Holy God; our Abba. And this reality is unshakable for all eternity. We are receiving an unshakable Kingdom where we abide in the Shalom and the Security of our eternal King.

As I began to research this verse in the original Greek several key words took on a deeper meaning;

  1. since we are “RECEIVING”.. in the Greek is the word “paralambano” which translates from two words;

para-from close –alongside and

lambano- aggressively take

So our receiving is an aggressive taking hold of what has come along side us; the Kingdom of God.

The next part of the verse can be translated as, “let us hold on to grace” which also has the idea of taking hold of. The word in Greek is “echomen” which means “I have, hold, possess”.

The word “Grace” in the Greek is “charis”-favor, disposed to, inclined, favorable towards, leaning towards to share a benefit. This is in agreement with the Hebrew for grace;

“KANA” – extension towards, reaching, God inclining toward people because He is disposed to bless and be near them.

So as we “aggressively” take hold of Him; and we take hold of His grace; He extends His grace towards us to bless us and be near us. I get an image of a child reaching out to their loving Daddy who is reaching out to them simultaneously because He wants to be near them and to bless them with His love, protection and provision for their every need. I see a giant love hug, bear hug style of His arms around them as they hold on to Him confident in His strength and ability to hold them securely…. Selah.

“By it, we may serve… The key point here is that “By it” that is by His grace, we may serve. Because of all He has done for us, freely by His grace, we are made able to “serve” Him.

The word in the Greek here is “latreuo”- to render technical, acceptable service because specifically qualified, (equipped.)

If we ever question our qualifications for worship, it will only be as we look to ourselves for those qualifications. Once we know that He has qualified us not by anything we have done or can do but solely by what He has done for us, by His grace alone, we are free to worship Him with abandon. He has equipped us by His Holy Spirit’s en-dwelling power to worship Him in Spirit and truth.

Acceptably-euarestós- well-pleasing because fully acceptable.

Once again, we are well-pleasing because we have been made fully acceptable by Jesus and His finished work, alone, not by anything we have done or can do. We just are, and we act on this reality by faith in His atonement that has qualified us and equipped us for acceptable, well-pleasing worship.

…with reverence and awe… eulabeias- from two Greek words;

Eu- well, good

Lambano- aggressively lay hold of; Aggressively taking hold of what God calls good.

Once again, we see the word “Lambano”, and the theme continues to build in the passage of “aggressively taking hold of something God calls “good”. And He certainly calls worship “good” and something to being taken hold of, aggressively. So, we see the image of taking hold aggressively of the Kingdom, taking hold of and possession of His grace, which enables us to aggressively take hold of Him as we acceptably worship Him, by His grace.

But then we read that we do this “because our God is a consuming fire.”

Honestly, when I read this, my first images are of Mount Sinai again and the smoke, and lightening, and a whole lotta shakin’ going on! But this is not the image the writer intended. He just carefully detailed the contrast between the two mountains of Sinai and Zion and the heavenly Jerusalem with celebrating angels. So what is the intent of this imagery?

I first looked at the word “consuming” and found an interesting revelation;

The word is “katanalisko” and in its raw definition means to “utterly, totally, consume.”

When I broke the word down further, revelation came forth.

Kata- “down from a higher to a lower plane, with special reference to the terminus or end point.”( In this case, we are the terminus or end point.)

Analisko- from two words;

Ana- Up, again, back upwards, repetition, intensity, reversal

Halisko- to conquer; which comes from

Haireomai- “to lay hold of by a personal choice. The self-interest of one preferring (deciding) to grasp or take.

So, the process of consuming is a force coming down from a higher to a lower plane, with special reference to the target, (terminus) end point responding back up again with repetition, intensity, and reversal; The purpose being to conquer; to lay hold of by a personal choice, to grasp or take.

Consuming

then in this context is an experience of the Greater force of Holy Spirit coming all the way down, utterly, wholly down to us and back up again, repeatedly, intensely, reversing-laying hold of us by His personal choice to take hold, grasp, take, conquer- CONSUME.

In this we see the source of worship being the downward force of Holy Spirit upon us and the response being our worship going back up again, repeatedly, intensely, reversing, as He lays hold of us by His personal choice and we are conquered and consumed over and over and over…

Fire- PUR- means fire.

As I thought about fire and the nature of it to change by ignition whatever it touches into fire I began to see the “Consuming Fire” that is our God in a new light.

We light a match and it consumes the wood and it becomes the flame, transformed into light and likeness to itself. In the same way, as we encounter our all “Consuming Fire” we become transformed into His likeness.

In this context, God’s Spirit, like a Holy, all-consuming fire enlightens and purifies so that we share more and more of His likeness. It reminds me of 2 Corinthians 3:17 “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is FREEDOM. And we, who with unveiled faces all “reflect” the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

The word that is of interest here is “reflect”. In the Greek, the word is;

Kataoptanomai-

Once again we find the word “Kata” down from a higher to a lower plane

And optanomia- I appear, am seen to gaze (with wide open eyes) as at something remarkable

The reference is to the Lord’s glory and our transformation (literally metamorphosis) into His likeness with ever increasing glory.

Glory in Hebrew is – Kabo- to be heavy; God’s infinite, intrinsic worth, substance, essence.

So we see the supernatural, inexplicable, mysteriously, amazing transformation from on high, into His likeness in ever-increasing glory by His Spirit.

Likeness- (eikṓn) then is more than a “shadow”; rather it is a replication. 

Transformation into His likeness is the objective and end result of our worship. It happens by faith as we move in the reality of His finished redemptive work for us, by grace, as we take hold of Him who took hold of us and are moved into the place of being consumed by Him as a transforming Fire, with ever increasing likeness and ever increasing glory.

We are urged, encouraged, admonished by Paul in Romans 12 “to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act or worship.”

So let us offer our entire bodies as living sacrifices, which are holy and pleasing, acceptable to God, because of the redemptive work of Jesus on our behalf.

We offer ourselves in worship not to become holy but because we are already holy and pleasing to God who sees us as righteous in Christ, being transformed from glory to glory by His Spirit, who is an all-consuming fire.

May He who is “All Consuming Fire” fall on us as holy, live, sacrifices as we continue to offer to God a sacrifice of praise – the fruit of lips that confess His name.

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess His name . Hebrews 13:15