Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Now for something completely different

Two statements that have nothing to do with one another, or for that matter, with anything else.

1. I want to apologize to my readership (if I have one) for the length of some of my recent posts -- as is readily evident, I tend to go too long on posts -- I have not quite gotten the blog etiquette down yet. I will try to break my streams of thought into readable and succinct posts going forward (maybe).

2. OK, so how do I know I am getting older? David Lee Roth has a BLUEGRASS (yes, that is what I said, Bluegrass) album out, and I (gulp) kind of like it... (face reddening now). I found myself waxing nostalgic as I watched David perform some of the songs on CMT.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Our Provision

Exodus 25:23–30 - “You shall make a table of acacia wood. Two cubits shall be its length, a cubit its breadth, and a cubit and a half its height. You shall overlay it with pure gold and make a molding of gold around it. And you shall make a rim around it a handbreadth wide, and a molding of gold around the rim. And you shall make for it four rings of gold, and fasten the rings to the four corners at its four legs. Close to the frame the rings shall lie, as holders for the poles to carry the table. You shall make the poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with gold, and the table shall be carried with these. And you shall make its plates and dishes for incense, and its flagons and bowls with which to pour drink offerings; you shall make them of pure gold. And you shall set the bread of the Presence on the table before me regularly.

Leviticus 24:5-9 - “You shall take fine flour and bake twelve loaves from it; two tenths of an ephah shall be in each loaf. And you shall set them in two piles, six in a pile, on the table of pure gold before the Lord. And you shall put pure frankincense on each pile, that it may go with the bread as a memorial portion as a food offering to the Lord. Every Sabbath day Aaron shall arrange it before the Lord regularly; it is from the people of Israel as a covenant forever. And it shall be for Aaron and his sons, and they shall eat it in a holy place, since it is for him a most holy portion out of the Lord's food offerings, a perpetual due.”

We are now in the Tabernacle, we have come in from the stench and heat of the outer court, as as the last post discussed -- we are able to begin to take in the beauty of the Holy Place. And now we stand before the Table of the Bread of the Presence. This has been a progressive journey, from outside the gate to inside the Tabernacle... This is the walk of the believer. in this post we will look at God’s provision, and the fellowship of the believers. We will see how in the Table of the Bread of Presence, our Messiah is perfectly represented to us.


This bread is most interesting… It is called Lechem Paniym in Hebrew. That means the bread that is before the face of God, or before the presence of God. These loaves sat on the table all week, representing the tribes of Israel in the presence of the Lord. Isn’t that interesting? In the showbread we see the shadow of Messiah. As we read in Romans 8:33-39 - Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died — more than that, who was raised — who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. And again in Hebrews 7:24, 25 - but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

This bread was before the Lord continually... His face looked upon this bread, which represented the Chosen People of God. Is this any different than the ministry of the Messiah for us? Does He not stand before the Father representing us? Psalm 32:1, 2 - Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

This bread was an offering before the Lord, covered in Frankincense. Leviticus 24:5–7 - "And you shall take fine flour and bake twelve cakes with it. Two-tenths of an ephah shall be in each cake. "You shall set them in two rows, six in a row, on the pure gold table before the LORD. "And you shall put pure frankincense on each row, that it may be on the bread for a memorial, an offering made by fire to the LORD. Isn’t it interesting that when the wise men came to the house to honor the Lord, that they brought frankincense? I find these small things to be so interesting, I mean, even in the smallest things we find the Lord at work.

Our Messiah stands before the Father, making intercession for us. He represents each believer, who has been covered in his blood, just like the showbread represented the twelve tribes. That is such an incredible and awesome thought to me that He would do that, that He HAS done that and He will continue to do that. What a God we serve! In Numbers 4:5–8 - "When the camp prepares to journey, Aaron and his sons shall come, and they shall take down the covering veil and cover the ark of the Testimony with it. "Then they shall put on it a covering of badger skins, and spread over that a cloth entirely of blue; and they shall insert its poles. "On the table of showbread they shall spread a blue cloth, and put on it the dishes, the pans, the bowls, and the pitchers for pouring; and the showbread shall be on it. "They shall spread over them a scarlet cloth, and cover the same with a covering of badger skins; and they shall insert its poles…” They did not remove the bread when transporting the table!


This bread also represented that God was to be the people’s provision. As a matter of fact, as they wandered in the wilderness, we find that He is the one that kept Israel alive by providing manna (Exodus 16). these loaves were representative of our daily provision from the Lord, as the priests partook of these loaves in representing the tribes.

John 6:31-40 - "Our fathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written, 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'" Then Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. "For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." Then they said to Him, "Lord, give us this bread always." And Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. "But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe. "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. "For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. "This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. "And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day."

Micah 5:2-4 contains a prophecy about Messiah. It is most interesting. Many are familiar with Micah 5:2, but the rest of the verses are interesting. In verse 3 it prophesies regarding the diaspora and the return of the remnant and then in verse 4 we see what the rule of Messiah will be like. Micah 5:2–4 - "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting." Therefore He shall give them up, Until the time that she who is in labor has given birth; Then the remnant of His brethren Shall return to the children of Israel. And He shall stand and feed His flock In the strength of the LORD, In the majesty of the name of the LORD His God; And they shall abide, For now He shall be great To the ends of the earth…” Truly we have provision in the Lord!

To finish up with John 6, we go to the final verses, John 6:53-58 - Then Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. "Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. "For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. "He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. "As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. "This is the bread which came down from heaven; not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever."


Finally we see that the bread was to be consumed by the priests. Leviticus 24:5–9 - "And you shall take fine flour and bake twelve cakes with it. Two-tenths of an ephah shall be in each cake. "You shall set them in two rows, six in a row, on the pure gold table before the LORD. "And you shall put pure frankincense on each row, that it may be on the bread for a memorial, an offering made by fire to the LORD. "Every Sabbath he shall set it in order before the LORD continually, being taken from the children of Israel by an everlasting covenant. "And it shall be for Aaron and his sons, and they shall eat it in a holy place; for it is most holy to him from the offerings of the LORD made by fire, by a perpetual statute."

Exodus 19:6 the Lord says this to His Chosen People - 'And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel." And in 1st Peter 2:4, 5 - Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Finally in John’s introduction to the book of the Revelation we find this: Revelation 1:4–6 - John, to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

The priests ate the bread of the presence in the Holy Place. Much like our time of communion, when we are in the Holy Place, the place where the priests meet their God. We too are to partake of the Lord together as priests in this place. The priests were the ones who ministered in the Holy Place, and their fellowship was with one another. This does not mean that they did not interact with the other peoples, but it means that when they were in the Holy Place ministering and breaking bread, it was a time of fellowship with them and God. Can you imagine, standing (as there are no chairs) in the Tabernacle, no one else was allowed to come in, and you are sharing bread with your fellow priests? Imagine the awesome feeling of being in the presence of God. We should think about that as we partake of communion on Sunday. Communion is so much more than we realize.

Notice that the bread was MOST HOLY to the Lord. As it represented the Messiah, it was to be treated with great respect and honor due it. Not in the way that some people have taken the bread and raised it to the level of veneration itself. It is what the bread symbolizes that makes it Holy, not the physical bread itself.

May we all enjoy a time of feeding upon the Messiah this Lord's day!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

O Sacred Head, Now Wounded

What a hymn! Written by Bernard of Clairvaux

O sacred Head, now wounded, with grief and shame weighed down,
Now scornfully surrounded with thorns, Thine only crown;
How pale Thou art with anguish, with sore abuse and scorn! How does that visage languish, which once was bright as morn!

What Thou, my Lord, hast suffered, was all for sinners’ gain;
Mine, mine was the transgression, but Thine the deadly pain. Lo, here I fall, my Savior! ’Tis I deserve Thy place;
Look on me with Thy favor, vouchsafe to me Thy grace.

Men mock and taunt and jeer Thee, Thou noble countenance,
Though mighty worlds shall fear Thee and flee before Thy glance.
How art thou pale with anguish, with sore abuse and scorn! How doth Thy visage languish that once was bright as morn!

Now from Thy cheeks has vanished their color once so fair;
From Thy red lips is banished the splendor that was there.
Grim death, with cruel rigor, hath robbed Thee of Thy life; Thus Thou hast lost Thy vigor, Thy strength in this sad strife.

My burden in Thy Passion, Lord, Thou hast borne for me,
For it was my transgression which brought this woe on Thee. I cast me down before Thee, wrath were my rightful lot;
Have mercy, I implore Thee; Redeemer, spurn me not!

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.

My shepherd, now receive me; my guardian, own me Thine. Great blessings Thou didst give me, O source of gifts divine.
Thy lips have often fed me with words of truth and love;
Thy Spirit oft hath led me to heavenly joys above.

Here I will stand beside Thee, from Thee I will not part;
O Savior, do not chide me! When breaks Thy loving heart, When soul and body languish in death’s cold, cruel grasp, Then, in Thy deepest anguish, Thee in mine arms I’ll clasp.

The joy can never be spoken, above all joys beside,
When in Thy body broken I thus with safety hide.
O Lord of Life, desiring Thy glory now to see,
Beside Thy cross expiring, I’d breathe my soul to Thee.

My Savior, be Thou near me when death is at my door;
Then let Thy presence cheer me, forsake me nevermore!
When soul and body languish, oh, leave me not alone,
But take away mine anguish by virtue of Thine own!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Beauty of the Lord

Scripture: Exodus 26:1-14 -- “Moreover, you shall make the tabernacle with ten curtains of fine twined linen and blue and purple and scarlet yarns; you shall make them with cherubim skillfully worked into them. The length of each curtain shall be twenty-eight cubits, and the breadth of each curtain four cubits; all the curtains shall be the same size. Five curtains shall be coupled to one another, and the other five curtains shall be coupled to one another. And you shall make loops of blue on the edge of the outermost curtain in the first set. Likewise you shall make loops on the edge of the outermost curtain in the second set. Fifty loops you shall make on the one curtain, and fifty loops you shall make on the edge of the curtain that is in the second set; the loops shall be opposite one another. And you shall make fifty clasps of gold, and couple the curtains one to the other with the clasps, so that the tabernacle may be a single whole. “You shall also make curtains of goats' hair for a tent over the tabernacle; eleven curtains shall you make. The length of each curtain shall be thirty cubits, and the breadth of each curtain four cubits. The eleven curtains shall be the same size. You shall couple five curtains by themselves, and six curtains by themselves, and the sixth curtain you shall double over at the front of the tent. You shall make fifty loops on the edge of the curtain that is outermost in one set, and fifty loops on the edge of the curtain that is outermost in the second set. “You shall make fifty clasps of bronze, and put the clasps into the loops, and couple the tent together that it may be a single whole. And the part that remains of the curtains of the tent, the half curtain that remains, shall hang over the back of the tabernacle. And the extra that remains in the length of the curtains, the cubit on the one side, and the cubit on the other side, shall hang over the sides of the tabernacle, on this side and that side, to cover it. And you shall make for the tent a covering of tanned rams' skins and a covering of goatskins on top.


As we have looked at the Tabernacle, we saw the linen curtain that surrounded the court of the Tabernacle, separating it from the ‘world’. We saw that there was one gate, that being the Messiah, and that, as we entered the courtyard, we are caused to pass the bronze altar. This altar represents the atonement of Messiah. Once passed this we come to the bronze laver, the place of sanctification. And now, we actually enter the main building, the Tabernacle itself. We will find that the outside of the Tabernacle belies the beauty hidden inside.

Again, in this we see the ministry of the Messiah. We see that the outside curtains we made of a leather animal skin. Under this are the ram’s skins, and under that are the goat’s hair curtains. And then finally we come to the woven curtain of purple, blue and red with cherubim worked into it.

Isaiah 53:2 -- For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.

There is a tendency for people to have a picture of Messiah in their heads, or on their walls that show a perfect face that beams light; nowadays, you get downright blasphemous pictures of Him -- yet the Word says that He was common in appearance. I remember a few years back, an artist released a portrait of what Messiah MAY have looked like. It was a common Middle-Eastern face. Well, you would not believe the uproar that was caused over this drawing! You would have thought that the artist had done something incredibly awful.

How does all of this relate to the Tabernacle? The outer coverings of the tabernacle were animal skins, something that would not turn the head of the common tent dweller in that day. Much like Messiah when He walked the earth. He was not exceptionally handsome; He was like us in appearance. Remember, the Israelites had picked on physical handsomeness before, remember Saul, who was a head taller than any other Israelite? What about the strong man, Sampson?

Unfortunately, in our culture we are obsessed with physical appearance. I believe that is why so many people were offended by that artist’s portrait. We have preconceived notions as to what Messiah looked like, when in reality it was who He was that set Him apart, not what He looked like. We are still obsessed with looks; I remember hearing a preacher once say that he needed a $1000.00 suit and $800.00 shoes in order to have people believe what he was saying about the Lord. In other words, people don’t listen to a person unless they ‘look’ the part, whatever that means! The Lord draws people to Him; the preacher can be wearing a camel hair coat and eat locusts and it won’t matter, the Lord will draw those to Him that He will. There is a broken theology in our culture that believes that we have to dress or look a certain way in order to draw the lost to the Lord. That makes it sound as though the Lord somehow needs our help in drawing the lost. The Messiah said clearly in John 6:44 -- No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. So, no matter what a preacher is wearing, unless one is drawn, they cannot come.

Like the Tabernacle, the beauty of Messiah was hidden in humanity and many had a problem with that. Here was the Lord of the world, the one whose very words created all things, born to a common family. For that matter He was born in a manger, and laid in a feed trough to sleep. Not very glamorous surroundings for the king of the world! He lived as an itinerate preacher, and died as a common criminal, alone and forsaken by all. Yet, in that common skin dwelt the Lord of all, who came to the earth to save His creatures. Pretty incredible, isn’t it? If you haven’t thought about the gospel in a while, I suggest that you go reread a gospel to see how the Glory of God was hidden in the flesh of humanity.

In the Tabernacle we see that the animal skins covered not only a beautiful woven curtain, but that also the golden planks were covered as well. From the outside, the Tabernacle looked like a large rectangular tent. But from the inside! In John 1:10–14 we read this -- He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own [Tabernacled], and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.


The outside of the Tabernacle looked like a skin-covered tent, and the Messiah looked like a common man. Could you imagine walking into the Tabernacle? As the Priest, you had been standing in the dusty, hot, smoky courtyard and suddenly you transition into a hushed and Menorah-illuminated room that is totally different from the outside world. As you look around you see gleaming golden planks along the walls, the golden utensils of the Tabernacle and the curtain woven with cherubim. You have entered a completely different realm, one smoky with the wonderful scent of the incense. Imagine the quiet as well; the stillness as you stood in the Holy Place looking around about you.

The Messiah is very much like that. I remember accepting the sacrifice of Messiah, the winds and the smells of the world were all around me. But I also remember stepping into the Holy Place the first time it was breathtaking to me. I remember the incredible stillness in my spirit, as if for the first time in my life my spirit had found quiet! I still remember that first time, and it still moves me! And what beauty confronted me!! So, as we look at this beautiful hidden place, we find so much of the Lord there.

David understood this beauty, he writes in Psalm 27:4, 5 -- One thing I have desired of the LORD, That will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD All the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD, And to inquire in His temple. For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; In the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock.

What is this beauty? Is it gold, and jewels? No, the beauty of the Lord is beyond our imagination; the Tabernacle was simply a symbol of this beauty. We are commanded to worship Him in the beauty of holiness. As the priests would come into a beautiful room and be overwhelmed by its sheer beauty, so we too should be overcome by the beauty of the Lord. Psalm 96:8, 9 -- Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering, and come into his courts! Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth!

We often come into the Tabernacle to see what the Lord can do for us, when in reality, the priests NEVER entered into the Holy Place with that thought, rather they were there to serve the Lord, not BE served! We should worship the Lord in the beauty of HIS Holiness!

We see a moment when the Lord actually lifts the veil of the Tabernacle a bit and Peter, James and John get a brief look. Matthew 17:1, 2 -- And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light.

Just as the beauty of the Tabernacle was clothed in animal skins, so too our Messiah was clothed in human skin, yet Peter and the Zebedee brothers caught a glimpse of His beauty!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

A Hymn for The Lord's Day

As I prepared the final notes for my sermon tomorrow, this hymn kept going through my mind, I found myself singing it as I prepared my text (Genesis 42)...

Pass me not, O gentle Savior,
Hear my humble cry;
While on others Thou art calling,
Do not pass me by.

Savior, Savior,
Hear my humble cry;
While on others Thou art calling,
Do not pass me by.

Let me at Thy throne of mercy
Find a sweet relief,
Kneeling there in deep contrition;
Help my unbelief.


Trusting only in Thy merit,
Would I seek Thy face;
Heal my wounded, broken spirit,
Save me by Thy grace.


Thou the Spring of all my comfort,
More than life to me,
Whom have I on earth beside Thee?
Whom in heav’n but Thee?


TEXT: Fanny Crosby
MUSIC: William H. Doane

Thursday, August 10, 2006

The Bronze Laver

Exodus 30:18-21 - “You shall also make a basin of bronze, with its stand of bronze, for washing. You shall put it between the tent of meeting and the altar, and you shall put water in it, with which Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet. When they go into the tent of meeting, or when they come near the altar to minister, to burn a food offering to the Lord, they shall wash with water, so that they may not die. They shall wash their hands and their feet, so that they may not die. It shall be a statute forever to them, even to him and to his offspring throughout their generations.”

We have examined the outer court, silver foundation, and the wall surrounding the Tabernacle; we have entered, had the sacrifice of the Messiah imputed to us, and we now stand before the bronze laver, or washbasin. This washbasin has a very deep significance in a believer’s life.


The bronze laver was fashioned out of the mirrors of the women of the nation – Exodus 38:8 - He [Moses] made the basin of bronze and its stand of bronze, from the mirrors of the ministering women who ministered in the entrance of the tent of meeting.

Mirrors were a valuable item in those days, you didn’t just stop by Wal-Mart and pick up a mirror. We don’t often contemplate the value of mirrors in that day; today every home has a multitude of mirrors. However, in the ANE, mirrors were not everywhere and these women probably gave up their only mirror for the Tabernacle.

[sidebar comment] It really is amazing to think that the people gave a freewill gift to build the Tabernacle out of their BEST, not their leftovers. [/sidebar comment]

So the laver would have retained the reflective quality of the mirrors, and every time the Priests went to the laver to wash, they saw their reflection. Likewise, the Word of God will ‘highlight’ our reflection as we study and reflect upon it. The reflection in the laver enabled the Priests to ensure that they looked proper for service inside the Holy of Holies, likewise, we should examine ourselves through God’s Word as we enter endeavor to walk 'Coram Deo'.

Ephesians 5:25-27 - Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.


The Priests were inside the Tabernacle courtyard already; they had entered Holy Ground already. Just as a person who comes through the door, which is Messiah, and enters into a relationship, there, they are faced with the altar for the sacrifice. They appropriate the sacrifice made by Messiah, then they can come to the laver.

So, we see the unfolding of the gospel right in this portion of the outer court.

1. - The door -- John 10:7–9 - So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.

2. - The Altar of Sacrifice -- Galatians 2:20 - "I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."

There are many who never get any further than this. Many say, “I feel no difference in my life, can’t really tell that I know Jesus Christ as Savior.” They had their 'ticket punched' but are not living lives for Christ. They have been taught that they have 'made their decision', and that's it! However, we are to walk Coram Deo, and the Lord continues to refine us. This refinement requires a sober, and honest look at ourselves in the mirror of His Word, and we don’t like what we see in the reflection.

We need to examine the process of sanctification, and then maybe we will understand the bronze laver better. First, we understand that Christ's finished work justified the elect; i.e. made them 'right before God', but also sanctified the elect -- John 17:15-19 -- I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth. There are many passages that highlight that santification is the work of the Savior -- we are definitively sanctified through Christ's work.

In Romans 6:1-4 Paul writes -- What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. And in this passage Paul is speaking in the indicative -- stating that we are walking in a newness of life.

Later in Romans 6, Paul begins to speak in an imperative tone -- Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. But even in becoming progressively sanctified, it is only through the fact that we are alive in Christ taht we are able to do this.

This is the life of a Christian -- to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. I liken it to the passage in the Upper Room -- John 13:6-10a -- He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean.

We are completely clean in the finished work of our Savior -- but there is the matter of the feet -- these instruments can cause problems, the flesh is at emnity with the Spirit -- even then, it is not our work, but the work of the Spirit indwelling us, that enables us to continue to become more and more like Him.

We see that our progressive sanctification continues throughout our life. Going back to Romans 6, verse 19 states that at one time we presented ourselves more and more to a sinful life, and now Paul tells us to present ourselves more and more, to holiness; I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness. And again in 2nd Corinthians 3:18 -- But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

Now that we have looked at sanctification, we can see how the bronze laver fit into the picture with the Priests. They had come through the door, they had burned the sacrifice on the altar and now they were about to enter the Holy of Holies. However, the Lord instructed that those who came before Him were to be cleansed! I fear in our consumerist society that have left out this aspect in so much of our teaching. In our headlong rush to fill seats, and give the unbeliever a 'good experience', we have left out a vital part of the truth -- that is, that Christ's work on the Cross not only justified the sinner, but sanctified him, and now, by the power of the Spirit, he is able to walk in a newness of life. What kind of good news is it that Jesus died for you, but left you in the deathgrip of sin, still a prisoner? How can we be hupernikeo if we are still slaves to sin?

I exclaim with Paul -- "Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!"