The Once and For All Death Of A Universe Maker

He (Jesus) is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and He upholds the universe by the word of His power. After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. (Hebrews 1:3)

Sometimes the question is proposed concerning the efficacy of the sacrifice of Christ: “How can one man’s sacrifice cover the sins of every man and woman who ever lived? That’s impossible.”

And yes, if it was a mere man who sacrificed, it would indeed be an impossible task for his blood to effectively cover the sins of many worldwide.

But Scripture doesn’t count Jesus Christ as just any Tom, Dick, or Josephus.

After claiming Jesus the Final Prophet, or the final Living Word through His life and ministry (Hebrews 1:1-2), the author of Hebrews intimates what manner of man this Lord of glory is:

“He is the radiance of the glory of God and exact imprint of His nature” (Heb 1:3)

He is Radiance of the Father’s Glory. You want know the glory of God? You want to see the face of God? Look unto Jesus (2 Cor. 4:4,6) He is the manifest radiance –streaming out of Him-of God. When I say my wife is radiant, people know what I mean. I am speaking about her physical beauty, but not just her outward beauty; there is an inward character that makes her whole being “radiant” to me.

Christ is God’s manifest beauty, His light.

Christ is no mere mortal, He is the definitive and full representation of Yahweh. The wording “exact imprint” is from the Greek word “charakter,” meaning the very essence of God. The Father and Son share identity. And it is the Son who “upholds all thing by His word.” Every molecule in our body and every law in the universe is kept, preserved, and sustained by the current word of this Christ. Christ is the only reason our bodies don’t collapse like accordions under the weight of gravity.

The value and glory of the son of God (the universe sustainer) makes him laying down His life so much greater.

Verse 2 also claims He created all things. Jesus has creation rights over the whole natural world. And He doesn’t sit back idly like a Deistic unaffected clock maker. He created and then He entered into that creation. Jesus Christ wrote the screenplay. Then He inexplicably wrote Himself into the screenplay. He even outlined and reserved the most tragic excruciating role for Himself  (Isaiah 53).

God is not an absentee Father or busy Taskmaker, He burns with the same passions Jesus burns with in the Gospels. No wonder Jesus says “If you have seen me you have seen the Father” (John 10)

Jesus is a chip off the old block.

But why would this glorious One stoop so low?

Sin.

Drastic problems call for drastic measures.

This is the universal grip of death, tragedy, heartache, and evil (Romans 3:23) Look at even the smallest children. There is an innocence there but there is also a latent sin nature. I didn’t have to teach my two year old son to deceive.

“Josiah, did you eat the cookie I left on the table?”

With chocolate smeared in the corner of his mouth: “Noooo.”

Though some people get better at hiding this nature as adults, it doesn’t go away.

And God hates this sin. “God is love” is the oft quoted verse of our time, and that is so true. Yet God hates sin. The cross displays both of those realities perfectly. God’s love for us is emanating out from cross. God’s hatred for sin is being poured out onto Jesus during the cross. God hates sin and that’s why He had to pour out his wrath. (Isaiah 53:11) “It pleased God to crush Him. ….”

After making purification.  It was a “Once for all” sacrifice as Hebrews points out numerous times. Jesus is not just Creator and Sustainer. Jesus is our personal High Priest. Our Go-between.

In the Old Testament the high priest had to enter once a year into the Holy of Holies to kill an animal on behalf of the people’s sins. Yet this priest was also sinner. This OT act was a shadow of the reality to come in Christ. Christ entered to the heavenly Holies once and for all (Hebrews 9:24). Yet He didn’t kill a scapegoat. Shockingly, He turned the knife on Himself. And the blameless blood that spilled out was perfect, holy and able to purify a people forevermore before God.

“Once and for all”, means for all our sins. Those past, present, and future transgressions. And Hebrews 7:25 says this same sympathetic High Priest “lives to make intercession” for us. He didn’t resurrect and ascend to just sit on His comfortable throne and eat celestial grapes. He’s a living advocate before the Holy Father right now. For the sin we committed last night. For the sin we commit tonight. For the sin we may commit on our deathbed 50 years from now.

Jesus Christ utterly blotted them out. “It is finished!” so He continually pleads His righteous blood and finished work before the Father on our behalf.

So:

“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” Heb 4:16;

Indeed.

This is no mere man.

Such incomprehensible power.

Such unconditional love.

Such sustaining grace for the now.

Bryan Daniels

A Small Public Apology (Kind Of) To Joel Osteen

A slight commendation may be due for Joel Osteen. Seriously.

After being consistently pummeled by conservative evangelicals everywhere, Joel has recently assembled a few basic baby steps towards pastor cred.

Maybe a small, I did not say total, but small apology is due from us. In conservative Christendom, we (and when I say “we” I mean “I”) are quick to jump on anyone without the same exact precise theological and social convictions as us. Some of it is warranted: Joel does frequently proclaim the (un)gospel of self-esteem. He does usually replace sin and repentance with quaint stories and pop psychology. In the past, even on primetime television, he has been ambiguous about essential theological convictions (the Larry King interview comes to mind).

How can you not love that perfectly bleached smile?

But, with no fear of reprimand from heresy hunters, I attest here that Joel Osteen for once got it right…in an interview…on primetime television no less.

Here’s a brief transcript of Joel’s statement on a recent segment of CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight. When asked bluntly by Morgan about whether homosexuality was a sin this is what America’s pastor said:

“Yes, I’ve always believed, Piers, the Scripture shows that homosexuality it’s a sin,” he said. He added: “But you know, I’m not one of those that are out there to bash homosexuals and tell them that they’re terrible people and all of that. I mean, there are other sins in the Bible, too. I think sometimes the church — and I don’t mean this critically — but we focus on one issue or two issues, and there’s plenty of other ones. So, I don’t believe homosexuality is God’s best for a person’s life. I mean, sin means to miss the mark.”

The reason for this brief kudos is not necessarily that Joel is talking somewhat frankly about the specific sinfulness of homosexuality, but rather that Osteen has added the word “sin” into his public vocab repertoire at all. Sin is not a word Osteen has been known to use liberally, or ever. 

As Albert Mohler points out in his article “The Osteen Moment”, just four years ago Joel was much more vague and timid in his response to the same exact “homosexual” question. Let’s hope this counts for theological progress in Osteen’s path towards biblical Orthodoxy. 

Now I know his response wasn’t exactly an epic Martin Luther-esque type stance before the Diet of Worms: “Here I stand! I can do no other! God help me…”

A passing mention of Romans 3:23 may have done some good here. And he waffled a bit when Morgan asked specifically about Elton John’s homosexuality. I admit, Joel didn’t exactly look comfortable doing it, and there wasn’t a clear presentation of the gospel by him (again, baby steps), but Osteen took a stand where we (I) would have expected him to drop to the fetal position with empty positive platitudes.

Instead of lambasting him, let’s point to the positive (in classic Osteen fashion): Joel Osteen just spoke the unforgivable in Hollywood values and committed blasphemy against the god of political correctness. Given his platform and following, he likely knew his position would accumulate a hailstorm of hatred from “tolerant” liberal ideologues everywhere. Joel Osteen said what the Bible says: Homosexuality is a “sin.” No more atrocious than the litany of heterosexual sins, but nonetheless a sin that Jesus Christ calls us out of (1 Cor 6 :9-11).

Let’s hope continued baby steps lead him in the right direction: towards a bold proclamation of the biblical gospel where Jesus is the only cure for the wrath of a holy God and the sins of wicked man.

We’re (I’m) rooting for you, Joel.

Bryan Daniels

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