Dear Praying Friends,
Thank you for helping me to tell others constantly about Jesus Christ in evangelism, teaching, counseling, and prison work. I can’t do it without you. People need to come to Christ for salvation initially, once for all, and then learn to walk with Him ongoingly, repeatedly, day by day for assurance of our standing in Him. We never outgrow our need for Jesus, the only Mediator between God and humanity.1 Bernard of Clairvaux’s hymn closes like this:
What language shall I borrow to thank thee, dearest Friend, / for this, thy dying sorrow, thy pity without end? O make me thine forever; and should I fainting be, / Lord, let me never, never outlive my love to thee.2
In October, our Jewish friends celebrated Yom Kippur (the day of atonement), the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. In Leviticus 16:34, God commanded through Moses, “This is to be a lasting ordinance for you: Atonement is to be made once a year for all the sins of the Israelites.”3 Modern Jews use this holiday for prayer and repentance.
God commanded the Old Testament (OT) high priest to enter into the Most Holy Place in the Tabernacle with the blood of sin offerings and to send the scapegoat into the wilderness. These ordinances and all OT ceremonial laws pointed ahead to Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.4 By placing his hands on the goat’s head and confessing the nation’s sins, the high priest symbolically transferred those sins to the substitute. The goat then symbolically carried the people’s sins away into the wilderness. Christ was delivered to the Gentiles and crucified outside the walls of Jerusalem, being sent “outside the camp” like the OT scapegoat.5 All these ceremonial laws are now nullified under the New Testament, but they remind us of Jesus’ saving grace, His suffering, and the everlasting benefits we receive because of Christ’s doing, dying, and rising in our place.6
We recently devoted four posts to the topic “What Christ Does with Our Sins.” (See links below) We wrote those because sometimes the Lord’s dearest disciples can lack assurance of their salvation and of their full forgiveness in Jesus. Phillip Bliss’ hymn reminds us: “Guilty, vile, and helpless, we; / Spotless Lamb of God was He; / Full atonement! can it be? / Hallelujah! what a Savior!”7 Christians must not make light of sin and guilt in our lives, but we are to run back again and again to our merciful Lord who washes us whiter than snow.
Here are three illustrations that I recently used with people to remind them to look to Christ alone for their acceptance with God and not to their feelings:
1. A woman was agitated by her lack of assurance and came to Murdoch Campbell (1900-1974). She said, “Pastor you always seem to have such peace in your soul. How can you have such a tight hold on God?” Campbell smiled and answered, “I don’t always have a good hold on the Lord, but I praise Him that He always holds on to me.” The Lord Jesus says, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.”8
2. A Chicago man was likewise worried that he didn’t feel saved and came to D. L. Moody (1837– 1899). Moody gently reasoned with the man asking, “Was Noah safe in God’s ark?” The man answered, “Yes, certainly.” Moody asked again, “What made him safe, his feelings or God’s ark?” The man got the point and said, “How foolish I’ve been. It’s not my feeling; it is Christ who saves me.” God deals with our sins fully and finally in Jesus. Praise the Lord! Christ Himself is our propitiation and atoning sacrifice. He saves completely, forever, to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, because Christ always lives to intercede for us.9
3. John Duncan (1796–1870) was a Scottish missionary to Jews in Hungary and Professor of Hebrew. He loved the Jewish people and loved the OT Scriptures that all point to Christ, so he was nicknamed “Rabbi”. Duncan taught that not only may people come to Jesus for salvation, they must come.10 One Communion Sunday, John Duncan was in church, feeling unworthy for fellowship with Christ and he decided that he wouldn’t take Communion. Duncan was feeling miserable and noticed a teenage girl across the small church who didn’t go up front either. She was weeping and her tears reminded the old man of the Bible truths he believed so deeply, but had forgotten momentarily. Duncan whispered loudly, so loudly you could hear it across the whole church. He said: “Take it, Lassie, take it. It’s meant for sinners.” And he himself took Communion also and was refreshed by God’s saving grace in Christ.
These Scriptures and stories may help you to bring Jesus’ good news to unsaved people for salvation and to saved people for their peace and courage in Christ. Once again, I really appreciate your friendship, fellowship, and partnership with us in ministry! Please keep praying for us.
Your very grateful brother in Christ, Bob
From the blog. Blogs posted since our August 2019 update:
- Christ is My Rock
- Accepted by God Our Father
- Accepted in God’s Beloved Son
- Rejected on Earth; Accepted in Heaven
- Receiving Good Times and Bad Times from the Lord’s Hand
- What Christ Does with Our Sins (Part 1)
- What Christ Does with Our Sins (Part 2)
- What Christ Does with Our Sins (Part 3)
- What Christ Does with Our Sins (Part 4)
- Christ-like Love: Discuss Without Arguing
- Christ-like Love: Giving and Praying
- Christ-like Love: Listening and Speaking
Notes (various translations): 1 1 Tim 2:5; Heb 8:6; 9:15; 12:24. 2 from the hymn “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded.” 3 See also rest of chapter 16 and Lev 23:26-32. 4 John 1:29,36. The Book of Revelation includes about thirty references to Christ as the lion-like lamb, slain but now standing in victory after His resurrection and ascension. God’s Messiah conquers by dying on the cross and rising. He redeems people through His self-sacrifice, yet also calls all human beings to account on the Day of Judgment. 5 Heb 9:6–28 and 13:11–13 compare the Day of Atonement and the death of Christ. 6 Gal 4:1-7; Col 2:13-17; Eph 2:14-18; Heb 9:1-10:18. 7 from the hymn “Man of Sorrows.” 8 John 10:28-29. 9 Rom 3:24-25; 1 John 2:2; 4:10; Heb 7:25. 10 Acts 4:12; 17:30-31.