Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode 602 · 6 months ago

Our Friends in High Places

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Ephesians 1:18-23, Hebrews 7:25, 1 John 2:1-2

With me before your seated. Our Father, we thank you today that we are able to draw near to you through the complete finished work of your son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who bore all our transgressions and so answered the demands of your character, that we may come freely confidently and we draw near Lord, as your people, that you might meet us today in the Ministry of your word, that the reading and the preaching of the word of God today might speak into our hearts and strengthen us, so that we walk away saying what a great God and what a great savior for a needy sinner such as me. Show US yourself, show US your son. We pray in Jesus name. Men, please be seated. I'm going to introduce the sermon and that will be looking reading through the scripture passages for the day, but I just wanted to say it's good to be back with you all. My wife sends her greetings. She's unable to be here. The choir at Rencon is singing for their last time in this current year school year today and she is one of the few Sopranos, so she is needed. Every one of US walked in the Sanctuary today into this auditorium out of different circumstances, circum stances of life and marriage and singleness and perhaps widow or widower states, of health, work situations, financial needs. There's a lot, a lot of diversity in this room today, but as as I think about where we're going to go in scripture today, I really think there are only two big categories of people here today. The first group is maybe you're here today in the midst of some great affliction, maybe in the midst of great personal failure or...

...temptation, maybe in a season of relentless difficulty. You may even be in a position where, as you go to bed each night and wake up each day, you wonder how you can keep pressing on and face the challenges that you have. That may be you today, or you may be in the other category, which is someone in between such afflictions, in between times of difficulty or personal failure or one adversity of another kind. So that's it. Those are the two kinds of people that are here today. Either you are in the midst of some form of suffering or temptation, are you are between a time of suffering and temptation and the next one. Now I'm not being pessimistic. It was Jesus who said in this world you will have tribulations and it was Paul who said through many sufferings we must enter the Kingdom of God. So you're either suffering or you're in between, some form of suffering in another. What I wanted it today is connect something of Jesus to our afflictions and our sufferings and our temptations. And I don't want to talk about the past, what Jesus has done for us and his life, death and resurrection, and I don't want to talk about the future, what Jesus will do and he comes and his present at the end of the age and ushers in the new creation Kingdom of God. What I want to talk about today is what he is doing now, because scripture tells us that yes, he has ascended at the right hand of God, that he is active there. He is not just sitting, he is active at the right hand of God.

He is working today, and here's here's a I but summarize it and then we'll look at the scriptures. Jesus ascended to God's right hand of power, is there for you and for me every moment of every day until he brings us home. He is ascended to God's right hand of power and he is active there for you and for me every moment of every day until he brings us to the finish one. So there are three scriptures were going to read. You can listen to me read them or you can turn to them as we do, so they're there in your bullets. In the first is Ephesians one, eighteen to twenty three. We're stepping into the middle of Paul's prayer and he says this that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you and what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and Dominion and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come, and he put all things under his feet and gave him his head over all things, to the church which is his body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. And then dipping into the argument of the Book of Hebrews, Chapter Seven, Verse Twenty Five, a conclusion of a discussion, the writer says. Consequently, he, Jesus, is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. And then, finally,...

First John Two, verses one and two. My little children, writes John. I'm writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the father, Jesus, Christ the righteous, and he is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. Look at other passages as well, but here's what I think we will see. The Jesus, ascended to God's right hand of power, is active there for me and for you, every moment of every day until he brings us safely home. So we're going to look at that four different ways. How he is there for us as we run the rays God has given us until we cross the finish line. So the first way I want to look at is the we're going to look at four realities that we live with as God's people, and how what he is doing at God's right hand answers those first you and I live in hostile territory, surrounded by enemies. How can I not be overcome by that? And the answer is he is the reigning King of all. So let's talk a little bit about hostile territory. Jesus said, if you were of the world, the world but love its own. But because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world. There for the world hates you. We are to expect that. We live in a world where there is hostility and hatred for us. That begins with the enemy, the arch enemy of God and of us, the devil and Satan and the multitude of their demons. We wrestle not with flesh...

...and blood. And here's what you need to know about Satan. He hates God, he hates Jesus, he hates you. If you are in Christ. He has undiluted intentions to destroy you every moment of every day, and by destroy I mean do whatever he can to cut you off from trusting in Jesus Christ as savior. And he will, and he does, mobilize every resource at his hand to do so. We live in hostile territory. He has allies, not not just invisible allies, but he has visible allies and he'll use those to destroy me. One of those allies. Jesus talks about theiry tall, he talks about the world. He that he did. The Devil hates Christ and the world hates Christ, and John says that very clearly. Jesus says that very clearly. Well, who is this world that hated him and hates us? Well, we tend to think that the world is that hates Christ are all the immoral and irreligious and godless people that are all around us. That's true. Those people are all around us, have always been around us, but we forget that the people who hated Christ and put him to death were moral and religious and pious people. Sometimes those who hate Christ do not appear to be against his morality, but for it. But what the irreligious and immorl have in common with the moral and the religious is they agree to one thing. Christ will not be our king and he will not be our savior. We will take care of things by ourselves. Thank you very much. We're surrounded. We have an enemy. He has allies...

...in the human race who oppose Christ, and he and his allies will create great pressure on my life and tempt me to walk away from Christ. But he has other allies as well. See in a few moments he has allies among God's people. Well, what do I mean by that? He has in every one of us the flesh, the inner traitor to God and his purposes, and he can appeal to the flesh in any Christian to use them to cause harm to other Christians. We call it betrayal or deception or slender it's friendly fire and it is perhaps the most discourage and kind of assault when people who are in my family seem to do things to undermine my faith and confidence in Christ. So I'm surrounded by enemies in the world, in society, in in the devil and his Legion of Demons, and sometimes in the church as well. And so what am I to do? Am I to live in fear? How can I not be overcome? I'm surrounded. They outnumber me a thousand to one. The answer is Jesus is the reigning King of all. That's what Paul said in the Fesians. One he seated him. The father seated the son at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, not just above but far above, not most, but all rule and authority and power and dominion and every name, not most names, every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. There is nothing left out here. So what I know is a CH Chritian as.

I'm in the midst of the battle which I am not going to be read. I'm not going to be rescued from fighting, but I will be delivered through it. And the one who is my savior is reigning at God's right hand, not just sitting but reigning overseeing, ordering the events of human history and every detail of my life for the purpose of keeping me and bringing me across the finish one. So a couple things. That means. Number One, my enemy and my enemies can do nothing against me except by the permission of the king. You find that in the book of Job Satan came and made accusations and God said you may do this, but no further. That's because Jesus is King of all. Secondly, we can know that, because he is reigning there, he can turn the worst action someone intends to me into something good and for his glory. We think of the story of Joseph, where the malice of his brother soldom as a slave to Egypt and God, as Joseph said at the end of his life, you intended it for evil, but God turned it to good. That's what it means that he is reigning. We see that in Jesus, when the powers of the age gathered to slander him and malign him and murder him, and God turned it to the salvation of an uncountable multitude from all nations. He, the enemy, can do nothing to me except by his permission. Whatever the enemies do to me, it can be turned to something good and will be come turned to something good by my reigning king. And number three, they may appear to win some battles, but they've already lost the war. So, because he is the reigning king, reigning on my behalf as his child at God's right hand, I do not live in fear. Rather, I have every...

...reason to press on with courage, to endure in following Christ, and I have weapons at my disposal, not carnal weapons of money and politics and power, but spiritual weapons of the word of God. In prayer that I may take up, and by them the enemy will flee. The book of Revelation says the Followers of Christ overcame the dragon by the blood of the lamb and by their word of witness to Christ. Those are my weapons. So I will face enemies all the way to the finish line. But because he is at God's right hand and he is reigning there for me, I can trust him in press on. Second what's the second circumstance? I live with constant temptation and I often sin. How, then, can I not be found guilty in face condemnation? The answer is he is my advocate at God's right hand. So not only do I have enemies outside, I have an enemy within, and I don't think there's any greater burden to the Christian than the enemy within. Yes, the New Testament clarifies that. Certainly, from the day I become born of Christ to the day I finish the race and cross the finish line, and then I am home, I will face every day of my life the active presence of what the New Testament calls the flesh or sin which lives in me, and that is a battle that is going to be experienced in my life all the time. Now, Paul Paul puts it this way. The spirit of God in me as opposed to the flesh, and the flesh is opposed to the spirit. They're opposed to each other,...

Paul says in Galatians. I will live with that inner war, in the reality of sin in me and the temptations that arise from within me, all the way through the end of my life, and that will not change until I cross the finish line. And because that is the case, I will sin. And when I send there two particular ways I think sin becomes a greater burden than in other situations, and I'm number one, is if I sin in a particular way and I find myself committing that sin repeatedly, I find myself not making much progress against that particular sin, and that can be everything from online pornography to outbursts of anger or even just the delight of Gossiping and talking about other people. I find those sins grip me. Perhaps you'd perhaps perhaps you can say I find one of those sins grip me and I'm discouraged by it. I find it leading me to a place of condemnation, and the other way in which sin can become a greater burden that at other times, as when we sin in a way that the puritans described as wounding the conscience, and and what they meant by that was a public and scandalous sin, a sin that alters my life or the life of the people I love. It may it may be a criminal act, it maybe a violation of marriage vows. Think King David committing adultery and setting up the murder of one of his best friends. So we have this inner battle and when we look at our lives and how little progress we make, or maybe when we look at some of the sins of our past that we're scandalous and brought harm to others, two things can happen. Not Number One, our conscience accuses...

...us, this this umpire that's within our hearts, that calls us on our sin, and our conscience says things like kind of Christian are you? Or how can you say you're a Christian and do such things? Or maybe you're going to be the first person for whom Jesus is run out of patience. Conscience accuses us, and then we have an enemy, the external enemy, who is the accuser, and he accuses us as well, and we can begin to wonder is Jesus great enough to save someone like me? And we can begin to live under condemnation, eyes to the ground, had not held high, no joy, just a burden of sin. Well, how, how can I not be found guilty of continued sin? And the answer is he at God's right hand is my advocate. He is the one who died for sin and rose again, and he is at God's right hand and he is presenting there his finished work, is finished sacrifice, as more than sufficient to cover all my sins. That's what that's what John says. If anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the father, Jesus Christ, the righteous. John Calvin says that Jesus Work at God's right hand is to turn the father's eyes to his righteousness and away from our sins. Let's stop and picture that for a minute. He turns the father's eyes away from our sin to look at his sacrifice, his perfect righteousness, and he's not persuading a reluctant judge. It was the father who, for love of us, gave his son for us, and it was the son who, for love of the father and of us, gave himself for us. So one of the...

...ways that I've been helped over the years with a poem by a woman named Martha Snell Nicholson. The poem is called my advocate, and I'm going to would tempt to read it because it describes what it means to have Jesus as my advocate. She writes, I sinned, and quickly Satan flew before the presence of the most High God and made a railing accusation. There he said this soul, this thing of clay and Sawd has sinned. Tis True that he has named THY name, but I demand his death, for you have said the soul that sins it shall die. Shall Not your sentence be fulfilled? Is Justice dead? Send now this wretched sinner to his doom. And thus he did accuse me, day and night, and every word he spoke, Oh God, was true. Then quickly one rose up from God's right hand, before who's glory angels veiled their eyes. He spoke. Every jot and tittle of the law must be fulfilled. The guilty sinner dies. But wait, suppose his guilt was all transferred to me and that I paid his penalty. Behold my hands, my side, my feet, one day, I was made sin for him and died that he might be presented faultless at THY throne. And Satan fled away full well, he knew that he could not prevail against such love, for every word my dear Lord spoke was true. What does that mean? Yes, I have an external enemy, the devil, who wants me to quit and stop fighting sin and give up on Christ. I have an internal enemy that draws me to sin and tempts me day and night. But Jesus is my advocate, he is pleading his sacrifice...

...for me at God's right hand, and even when I sin repeatedly or even when I sin greatly, he is there for me. Therefore, I can get up from where I stumble and confess my sin and continue on and following Christ and trust in Christ until the end. Oh, third circumstance, this war is fierce and I am weak and needy. How can I endure? And the answer is he is my intercessor at God's right hand. Well, it should be obvious by now that I think the New Testament says that the life of the Christian is a war against mortal enemies inside and out, and it is relentless. It is day in and day out. And when soldiers face battle day in and day out, they get battle fatigue. We come to an end of our strength, our resolve, our determination, our resources. We feel desperately weak and needy. So where do I go when I feel so weak and needy? The answer is he is my intercessor that's what Hebrews says. He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives, always lives to make intercession for them. See, my savior knows that. I don't need moral cheerleading, I don't need positive thinking. I need to remember that his eye is upon me every moment of every day and he is never weary and he is never distracted and he will bring me home safely and save me to the uttermost,...

...because he will never fail to intercede for me. And what we know is whatever you ask according to God's will, he hears. And what we know is the son of God, at God's right hand, always asks according to the father's will and therefore all that he asks he receives, and he is asking so that he may save us to the utter most. And what's so amazing is he is utterly faithful, even when we are not. Christ is praying for you, my friends, and for me every day, even when we are negligent in prayer. He is presenting to the father our spiritual needs, even when we don't even know what they are. He is praying for our protection against dangers we don't even see. He's praying against enemies that threaten us even though we don't notice them. Yes, I face a relentless battle and I grow weary, but I am not alone. His resources are infinite. He knows exactly what you and I need and will have no difficulty getting it to you. All that he asks, the father gives, and so I may rest and his faithful interception and endure. And the fourth circumstance and last is the path is hard and the road is often dark. How can I find my way? And the answer is the one at God's right hand is the trailblazer. Well, what do I mean by that? Well, obviously, again, the life of the Christian is that. I call it an uphill climb on a dangerous path into a stiff wind in the dark.

That's the nature of the Christian life. Some days it doesn't seem that way, and some days it seems like that's not that might not quite get at it, and in the face of that kind of difficulty we lose hope, we become perplexed. And Hebrews says Jesus is our pioneer, he's our trailblazer. is how I like to translate that. We have in him a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul who has entered into the inner place, behind the curtain where Jesus has gone as a trailblazer on our behalf, says he brews. And what that means is he has gone ahead of us, and he has gone ahead of us after facing every temptation, standing against every enemy, dealing with every obstacle. He has cleared the way for us to follow. He knows exactly what we will face and he is able to supply all we need for every circumstance we face, and he will bring us home. So I've done hiking at times. Number of years ago, my my son and I hike the trail in the Machu Pichu in the andies. Now he's an outdoors man. He wanted to do with just a map and I said, number one, you can't. Number two, I'd rather have a guide. I appreciate your map reading skills, I'd rather have a guide that knows the areas. So guess what, Jesus is a God's right hand who would be our guide, and he has given us his spirit, who and dwells us, who is our God. So not only is he our trailblazer, but we have the spirit of God, the son, within us to guide us in a path with unlimited supplies for every obstacle and challenge and dark moment we face. He will bring us home. And when he brings us...

...home, he will bring us to sit with him at God's right hand, even as he conquered and sad, at God's right hand. The promise of scriptured, the way the church fathers put it, as as we were, he became incarnate and as he is exalted, we shall be with him. So Jesus as ascended, and because he is ascended, he is active there for you and me every moment of every day, as king, as advocate, as intercessor and as our trailblazer, and he will enable us to finish the race and bring us home. And knowing that gives us reason for the greatest confidence and the greatest boldness. To press on in following him. And No, I'll end with these words from Calvin who, in his discussion of the ascension, says some rather gutsy things. On the else to say very bold things, but I think he catches the spirit with which we should see Jesus present work for us and how we live each day. Calvin writes thus, since he has gone up there, the ascended Christ, and is in heaven for us, we need not fear to be in this world. Fear has no place. He's saying. We look to our head, who is already in heaven, and we say, although I am weak, there is Jesus Christ, who is powerful enough to make me stand upright. Although I am feeble, there is Jesus Christ, or is my strength. Yes, the devil is called the Prince of this world, but what of it? I love that. What of it? Jesus Christ holds him in check, for he is King of Heaven and earth. There are devils above us in the air who make war against us, but what of it? Jesus Christ rules above having entire control of the battle. Thus we need not doubt that...

...he gives us the victory, and this is how we must look at his ascension, applying the benefit to ourselves. Jesus, Christ of God's right hand is active there for you and for me, every hour of every day until he brings us home. Would you pray with me? My father, we thank you today for the completeness of the salvation that father, son and spirit of design for us as sinners, that not only do we have a savior whose sacrifice paid for all our sin, whose resurrection was the beginning of triumph and a new creation, and who will one day come again and bring about the consummation of all things, but today he, the God man at your right hand, is active for his own ruling, advocating, praying, providing US exactly what we need as we walk this path of following him. Father, I pray and we pray, that you might strengthen our faith as we consider Christ, our reigning savior, at Root Your right hand. But we pray this in Jesus name. Amend.

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