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The Consummation of Advent
We are coming into the great season of Advent. Advent means arrival or coming — the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. In a previous article (This Shall Be a Sign Unto You) we dealt with the sign — learning what the sign was, and the significance of the sign that the angel mentioned to the shepherds. Now we want to look into the consummation of Advent — what it all leads to — the end of time and the last things. That means we must consider the Second Advent, that is, the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus, the hope of the Church, and our trust that it’s drawing near. That coming, when He, the Beloved of God and of our hearts appears, will bring the end of earth’s tribulations and perplexities, murders, suicides, scandals, and wickedness.
We’ll be delving into Hebrews, chapter 12, which may surprise you until you see how very significant it is to the second Advent and our preparation for His coming. It’s a wonderful revelation of the consummation of what we are approaching, and what we are saved for. In His first advent, Jesus the Savior, Christ the Lord, came to turn darkness into light, to open blind eyes, to bring prisoners like you and me out of the prison house, and to give us that most precious gift of all, the very Spirit of God to indwell us and energize us and guide us and guard us. The epistle to the Hebrews is God’s great, wonderful testimony to holiness—the great epistle on sanctification. If you are seeking sanctification or want to understand God’s way of holiness, it would be helpful for you to read the epistle to the Hebrews.
The Author and Finisher
1Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2Looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews chapter 12 brings all that the writer has been saying to fullness. God wants you to understand that “we are compassed about with a great cloud of witnesses.’’ We’ll come back to that statement later, when I trust you will see its importance and what it fully means.
Now notice that we are to look to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith. That’s not easy in these days. There are so many different voices — so many charming voices and strident voices, and so many wooing voices, on Christian television, on Christian radio, and social media, which make one inclined to look to the person who’s speaking, or the organization that’s represented. Somehow it seems that too often Jesus is used as an advertisement for the person speaking. You know, friends, when we are really speaking about Jesus and magnifying Jesus, attention on the speaker is eliminated. We’re so taken up with the Beloved One, the Lord Jesus, that our focus is only on Him.
So many things can obscure our Beloved. Even our evangelical witness can stress much more the method and the person who is doing it, and the organizations involved, and the wonderful books we offer, and the clever program we’re presenting, rather than the One whom it’s all about. Here the writer to the Hebrews is calling us back to look to Jesus, who is the Author and Finisher of our faith.
That word author is a very interesting word. It’s a Greek word, archēgon, which means captain — captain of our salvation. But it doesn’t mean “captain” in the sense of a centurion. It means one who leads the file. He is the beginning and the ending. He’s the Alpha (the first letter of the Greek alphabet) and the Omega (the last letter of the Greek alphabet). He’s the First and the Last. He’s the first one in a file of soldiers marching to capture a city.
So Jesus is the archēgon. He’s the one who came to recapture the earth after it had been stolen away and led captive by the devil at his will (2 Timothy 2:26). He is also the very first one leading the file in the Church. We look to him, our leader. The word means leader, the one who bears the brunt of a battle, the one who’s the first into the fight, the one who first receives the blast from the enemy, the one who has to take the arrows, the sword, the spear in his breast — which Jesus did at Calvary. Jesus is the archēgon, the author, the captain, the first in the file, the file leader of our faith.
He’s also, I’m glad to say, the Finisher of our faith. Oh, how often we let our hands hang down, how often our knees are feeble,3 because we are so afraid that we won’t finish. We’re afraid that the goodness He’s shown us up until now won’t continue. This precious word, that He’s the Author and Finisher of our faith, tells us that the little Baby that came and was laid in a manger in Bethlehem is also Christ the Lord. He began His Lordship in Bethlehem. He finished it on the cross. He rose again to herald it and testify it!
Before He ascended, He first descended “into the lower parts of the earth” (Ephesians 4:9). Peter tells us that when Jesus descended into Hades, by the Spirit He “went and preached unto the spirits in prison” (1 Peter 3:19). The Greek word translated preached (κηρύσσω / kērússō) means He proclaimed like a herald the glory of His great salvation. See Him, the Triumphant One, whom death could not hold, whom Satan could not bind, who took the keys of Hades from the arch-usurper Satan and rose triumphantly to tell His Church, “I have the keys of death and of Hades!”’ He’s not only the Beginner, He’s the Finisher. Right up to His Father’s throne He went. Now we are in His good, strong hands:
My name is written on His hands.4
There for me the Savior stands,
Shows His wounds and spreads His hands.5
My name from the palms of His hands
Eternity will not erase;
Impressed on His heart it remains,
In marks of indelible grace.6
Do you see that the Lord Jesus is the Author and the Finisher? He’s the file leader; he also is the rearguard. How wonderful to realize the Lord is going before and coming after! How marvelous to realize I’m safe! I love to refer to the 23rd Psalm where it says,
Goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell into the house of the Lord forever.
We are told that He is our Shepherd. This is depicting the same truth, that we’re safe. In the East, all the sheep followed the shepherd. The shepherd never came behind; he never drove them. They loved him and he led them. The Lord is my Shepherd; He leads — in front.
And what is behind me? The Psalmist, inspired by the Holy Spirit, says, “Goodness and mercy shall follow me.” In front, my Beloved, the Lord Jesus; behind, two guardian angels, goodness and mercy.
A thousand shall fall at thy side,
and ten thousand at thy right hand;
but it shall not come nigh thee.
— Psalm 97:1 —
We are protected on the right hand and on the left. “Underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deuteronomy 33:27); and above is the overshadowing of God’s almighty wings.7 Can you tell me a direction where you’re not safe and shielded by Jesus? He is the Author and the Finisher, the file leader, and the rearguard. This also means that we can be “confident of this very thing,” that He will finish what He begins. “He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).
Think of John 13:1, that lovely verse which says Jesus “having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end” (John 13:1). The meaning of that simple verse is that Jesus, having once loved his own, kept on loving them. Did He love you once? He loves you still. Will He love you tomorrow? Yes, and every other tomorrow. He’s the Author and Finisher of our faith. He is the conquering Lord. He’s a loving comforter. He’s as tender as a mother. He’s as compassionate as a father. He’s the living God!
Consider Him that Endured:
Jesus is also the Son of Man, so He knows our infirmities and our temptations. He is with you when you’re tempted. He’s also there to give you triumph and glory in the temptation. He experienced what you experience.
2…who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3For consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. 4Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. 5And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, “My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of Him…”
What was it like at work today? Were you bossed around? Did you have people at your right hand and left who use the filthiest language? Did you constantly hear God’s name blasphemed? Did you have to stand firm against temptation? Have you known what it is to be jeered at and mocked because you’re a Christian? Thank God, it puts a bit of stiffener in us. When we “consider Him who also endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself,” it does us good. We can be like Jesus.
Some of you have prayed to be like Jesus. But when you are like Jesus by being mocked at and scoffed at, you realize that you didn’t understand what you were praying for. You meant that you wanted to be meek and mild and sweet and loving and tender and kind like Jesus. But the only way to be like Jesus in these ways is to get there by way of the cross. And that’s the way He takes you.
Sons in Pure, White Linen:
7For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth. 7If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the Father chasteneth not? 8But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye false sons,8 and not true sons. 9Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? 10For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but He for our profit, that we might be partakers of His holiness.… 14Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord…
Considering this scripture, we notice that it says, “Whom the Lord loves He chastens. My son, my daughter, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord. Every son whom He receives, He scourges.” That’s the way of the cross. “If you endure chastening, God deals with you as sons.”
How does God deal with us as sons? We are given a glimpse in the account in Exodus 39 of the preparation of the high priest and his sons for their service in the Tabernacle. Fine linen clothing was made for Aaron and for his sons, as the Lord commanded Moses, along with a holy crown of pure gold on which was a plate with an engraving, like on a signet, that read Holiness unto the Lord. God, the Father, the Holy One, “deals with you, as with sons.” Aaron, the priestly father, in linen garments, the one with “Holiness unto the Lord” on his turban, had four sons. Like their father, they had to be dressed in the pure white linen coats, because they were all to be holy like their father. Fine linen is God’s wonderful picture of holiness.
Thinking of those linen garments reminds us of a scene from the book of Revelation. John says that an angel carried him “away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God…” (Revelation 21:10). What was this city? Let the angel tell you. The angel said, “ ‘Come hither, I will shew thee the Bride, the Lamb’s wife.’… and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God” (Revelation 21:9,10). Now notice that this Bride of Christ, the Lamb’s wife, is dressed in a special way.
Revelation 19:7-9 — “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to Him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.” 8And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. 9And he saith unto me, “Write, ‘Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb.’” And he saith unto me, “These are the true sayings of God.”
God deals with you as His sons, even as He did with Aaron and his sons. They were clothed in coats of fine linen, white and clean. Are you a son or daughter of God? Can you be a child of God and not be holy? “Holiness unto the LORD.” Look at Hebrews 12:10 again. God, dealing with His sons, chastens us that we might be partakers of His holiness, that we might be dressed in fine linen, pure and white, as He is. The son of Aaron was dressed in pure, fine, white linen, and the Bride, the true Church, is also dressed in that fine white linen — the righteousness of saints.
How good God is to make it so simple. He wants me to be holy. He’s willing to make me so — “that we might be partakers of His holiness.” The writer to the Hebrews says, “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.”
Jesus taught the same message of holiness in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:8 — “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Which means if you’re not pure in heart, you won’t see God. Going back in Hebrews to 10:19-20, we read,
Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20By a new and living way, which He hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, His flesh….
He has opened the way into the very presence of God. We all may come and stand before the throne of God, because of His precious blood that has been shed. We may stand where angels veil their faces. We may stand where seraphim cover their feet, not being worthy to stand in His presence. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
But it means that you must trust Him for the application of the blood. It means you must ask Him to make your heart pure. It means you must say, “Thank you, Lord, for chastening me.” It means you must be willing to deny yourself and go the way of the cross. Then you’ll be dressed in white and pure garments. God never pretends. God never deceives Himself nor you. He doesn’t put a pure white garment on a person with an unclean heart. It’s “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” This means that those who haven’t pure hearts will not see God. It doesn’t say “they will not go to heaven.” It says “they shall not see God.”
Oh, how can I whose native sphere
Is dark, whose mind is dim,
Before th’ Ineffable appear,
And on my naked spirit bear
The uncreated beam?
There is a way for men to rise
To that sublime abode:
An offering and a sacrifice,
A Holy Spirit’s energies,
An Advocate with God.
These, these prepare us for the sight
Of holiness above.
The sons of ignorance and night
May dwell in the eternal light
Through the eternal love.9
Brothers and sisters, it’s not a special place for a special select people whom God has capriciously chosen before the foundation of the world. It’s a special place for a special people whom God has willingly saved to the uttermost, because they were willing to come to Him by the Lord Jesus, because they were willing for God to cleanse them, to keep them, to save them. They’re willing to abandon their own desires, their own ambitions, to walk with God, to live for God.
Taking Scars to Heaven
And they are willing to suffer for Jesus’ sake. If when you arrive at heaven, you have no scars to show for your conflict on earth, won’t you be ashamed? Shakespeare pens the words of England’s King Henry V on the eve of the famous Battle of Agincourt against the numerically superior forces of the French:
…He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say “To-morrow is Saint Crispian.”
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say “These wounds I had on Crispin’s day.”
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day.…
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be rememberèd—
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile…10
“Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars, and say ‘These wounds I had on Crispin’s Day.’ ” So we might say, once we are in heaven. I would hate to appear there without a scar or two. There are the martyrs, perhaps clothed in red, with crowns on their heads. And we come along, affluent Americans, living on a standard of living the highest on earth, and we were ashamed of Jesus.
Ashamed of Jesus, that dear friend,
On who my hopes of heav’n depend?
Ashamed of Jesus? Yes, I may
When I’ve no guilt to wash away.
Ashamed of Jesus! Sooner far
Let evening blush to own a star.
’Twas midnight with my soul, ’til He,
Bright morning star, bid darkness flee.
Ashamed of Jesus, that dear friend
On whom my hopes of heav’n depend?
Nay, when I blush, be this my shame
That I no more revere his name.11
Brothers and sisters, don’t go to heaven without a scar. Be those who gladly endure tribulation for His name’s sake.
“Ye Are Come”: Hebrews 12:22-24
22But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, 23to the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, 24and to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.
Now what is the writer to the Hebrews saying when he writes, “Ye are come” (Hebrews 12:22)? We’ve not come to Mount Sinai, which is the mount of law. We’re not under law, but under grace. God has put the law into our hearts, so we desire to do His will. We don’t even have to think about keeping the law, because He in us, who gave the law, is the One who lives out His life within us. So we are not come to Mount Sinai, a physical mountain. We are come to a much more real mountain, Mount Zion, the mount of peace, the mount of blessing. “Ye are come unto Mount Zion.”
I missed it for years! I thought it meant I was coming to Mount Zion, coming to this list of blessings that the writer enumerates in Hebrews 12.
But then the Lord helped me realize that this passage says that I have come to it, that is, that I have already arrived. And when we realize that, we begin to see depths, even in the Apostles’ Creed, that we’ve never seen before. “Ye are come unto Mount Zion, unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem.” The heavenly Jerusalem is a figure of the Church. Not just the one that’s composed of church members. It’s a holy Church which Jesus has made without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing. It’s composed of all those who are truly God’s children, all those in whom the Holy Spirit dwells, all those truly born of God, without reference to denomination or color or clime or race, throughout the whole world. It’s the General Assembly and Church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. That’s what you’ve come to.
You who love holiness, you who are striving to please your Beloved, you whose whole concern is one day to see His face — you’re in the heavenly Jerusalem; you’re a part of the Bride of Christ. You’re looking forward to that wonderful consummation, the second Advent, when the Bride will be joined to her Beloved forever. There will be the marriage supper of the Lamb, when He Himself who once on earth served His disciples by washing their feet, will come and serve you.
“Ye Are Come”…to the Church of the Firstborn:
15Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; 16lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. 17For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.…24and to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.
Hebrews 12:23 continues to elaborate on the theme of “Ye are come”: “You are come to the general assembly and church of the firstborn.” Who are the firstborn? How can every one of us be firstborn? In Israelite families, the firstborn son possessed a special birthright. The importance of that birthright is vividly illustrated in the story of Jacob and Esau. Esau, for one morsel of food, sold his birthright blessing to his brother, Jacob. And afterwards when he repented, he couldn’t have it back again, though he sought it carefully with tears. God says to us, “Don’t sell your birthright! Don’t let the world take it from you. Don’t for the sake of a little something in this world leave that first wholehearted devotion to your beloved Lord Jesus. You are birthright sons.”
So what is the Bible telling us? You may ask, “How can I know that I know that I’m a birthright son?” Listen to what God says in Exodus 13:13 —
Every firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb; and if thou wilt not redeem it, then thou shalt break his neck: and all the firstborn of man among thy children shalt thou redeem.
When a man had a burro, an ass, a donkey, whatever you like to call it, and it had a little one, he had a decision to make. Either he must break its neck, or sacrifice a lamb on its behalf; there was no alternative. One had to die. The Bible tells us that man that is born of woman is “like a wild ass’s colt (Job 11:12 kjv). That means that man has to be redeemed. “Every firstborn of thy children thou shalt redeem.” It means that the firstborn were redeemed ones. Every firstborn in the family could say, “I have been redeemed by the death of a lamb.”
Have you been redeemed by the death of the Lamb? Do you know the Lamb of God? Did He die for you? Are you redeemed with the blood of Christ? Then you are God’s firstborn. You’ve come into the birthright blessing. You are a birthright heir, inheriting the blessings. We are “heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17). God throughout the eternal ages is going to show His kindness toward us, because we are the Beloved of His Son who redeemed us, and because in a rebellious world, we let our name be put down on the charter roll of those who would stand by Him and allow their names to be associated with Jesus and bear the scoffing and the shame.
“Ye Are Come”… to an Innumerable Company of Angels:
Now what about the angels mentioned in verse 22 of our Hebrews 12 passage? “Ye are come …to an innumerable company of angels.” I believe that God sometimes allows angels to come when we’re expounding His Word. It’s not given to angels to understand the mysteries of salvation, but they are “things the angels desire to look into,” says the Apostle Peter (1 Peter 1:12). And I believe sometimes God allows them to have their desire. It’s not our place to draw aside the curtain of the future or to attempt to peek into the unseen world. But if God draws it up a ways, peep in. He’s doing it now. “Which things the angels desire to look into.” “Ye are come… to an innumerable company of angels.” Praise God!
“Ye Are Come”…to the Spirits of Just Men Made Perfect:
And you’ve come to something more. “Ye are come… to the spirits of just men made perfect.
For years and years, I got stuck on a line from the Apostles’ Creed. I was christened and confirmed in the Episcopal Church of England and became a choirboy. My father held the honorable position of the vicar’s warden, so we sat in the family pew of the vicar’s warden. And during the service I would recite The Apostles’ Creed:
I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
Maker of heaven and earth:
And in Jesus Christ His only Son our Lord,
Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
Born of the Virgin Mary,
Suffered under Pontius Pilate,
Was crucified, dead and buried:
He descended into hell;
The third day He rose again from the dead;
He ascended into heaven,
And sitteth on the right hand of God, the Father Almighty;
From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Ghost;
The holy Christian Church;
The communion of saints.…
I got stuck on that phrase, “the communion of saints.” It’s mentioned in that lovely hymn:
The Church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord;
She is His new creation by water and the word.
From heaven He came and sought her to be His holy bride,
With His own blood he bought her and for her life, He died.
Ah, but listen to the hymn’s special verse about the Church—
She on earth has union with God the Three in One,
And blessèd sweet communion with those whose rest is won.12
So we confess in the Creed, “I believe in the communion of saints.” The hymn writer illuminates that the Church “on earth hath… blessèd sweet communion with those whose rest is won.” That’s the very thing we’ve been reading in Hebrews 12: “Ye are come unto the spirits of just men made perfect.”
I mentioned near the beginning that there was a verse I would comment on later. Here it is: “Wherefore seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses…” (Hebrews 12:1). The previous chapter (chapter 11) gives you a condensed description of faith heroes who finished their course. Then the writer says, “Seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses” who are watching us, “let us lay aside every weight and the sin that doth so easily beset us.” Who are the “cloud of witnesses” watching us? They are “the spirits of just men made perfect.”
The great cloud of witnesses, these “spirits of just men made perfect,” are where we are come. How can they witness us if they aren’t near? Such a wonderful truth can comfort the Christian widow whose beloved husband loved the Lord Jesus and has been taken to glory. Such understanding can comfort the Christian widower whose saint-like wife was taken to heaven. To such mourning brothers and sisters, I say, “ ‘You are come to the spirits of just men made perfect.’ Your departed spouse isn’t far away. She’s closer than you think. He’s nearer than breathing.”
Heaven isn’t a long, long way away. It’s just another dimension that you can’t get into except by the way God has appointed, when the soul leaves the body, or when our Beloved comes at the Second Advent and we are changed in a moment. Aren’t you glad that God says, “Ye are come to the spirits of just men made perfect”? Doesn’t it make you tremble a little when you read we are “compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses,” that we’re being watched? You hope God puts a cloud around you sometimes so they can’t see!
No wonder Peter challenges us with his thought-provoking question: “What manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conduct and godliness?” (2 Peter 3:11) You are come to Jesus, the Mediator of the New Covenant. I know you believe He’s in our midst when we gather together, or when we spend time with Him. But you haven’t realized what that means. It means that heaven isn’t far away; Jesus is present by His Spirit.
“Ye Are Come”…to the Blood of Sprinkling that Speaketh:
Let’s return to Hebrews 12:22-24 and conclude with the final phrase:
22But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, 23To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, 24And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.
In regard to the blood of sprinkling: Who is the the only one who can sprinkle that precious sacred blood? The Lord Jesus Christ, the High Priest. Only the high priest could sprinkle that blood on the precious, wonderful Day of Atonement. Only Jesus, God’s High Priest, has entered once for all into the holy place, that is, the very presence of God, “not without blood” (Hebrews 9:7), but with His own blood. When John saw a vision of Him, He was as a lamb freshly slain in the midst of the throne (Revelation 5:6). He had taken His blood right into the Godhead, into the midst of the throne. And everyone who trusts Him and gives himself to Him for salvation, has His blood sprinkled on them. His blood is on you. It marks you. It’s God’s sign, God’s hallmark, the precious blood of Jesus: you’re covered with His blood. “Ye are come to the blood of sprinkling.”
We need to re-think — and repent of — how we sometimes talk about the blood of Jesus. “We plead the blood!” I’ve even been in meetings where young people were shouting at the top of their voices, “The blood! The blood! The blood! The blood!” trying to cast a demon out of a person. You can’t handle the blood of Jesus. He can sprinkle it on you, but you dare not lay your unholy hand upon that precious blood. We are told, quite unscripturally, to sprinkle the blood as protection against the devil; so if you think the devil is involved in a thing, you “sprinkle the blood.”13 My dear friends, I wish you weren’t so scared stiff of the devil. If you’ve trusted in Jesus, He is your protector. He’s the one who has sprinkled his blood upon you. And he never intends to take that blood away. He has sprinkled it on you, and you’re safe. This was foreshadowed with the Israelites in Egypt when the angel of death passed over the homes where the blood was sprinkled over the doorposts. The evil one can’t touch you, when you’re abiding in Jesus; God loves you and protects you. We need to have more reverence for the blood of Jesus.
The Bible says that blood speaks. Remember Cain? When he killed his brother Abel, God said to him, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood speaks to Me from the ground.” Yes, blood speaks. What did the blood of Abel speak? It kept crying to God, “Vengeance! Vengeance! Vengeance!” Then what is the blood of Jesus saying? Our verse in Hebrews 12:24 says, “Ye are come unto… the blood of sprinkling that speaketh.” So what does the blood of Jesus say? I’ll let Charles Wesley tell you:
Jesus’ blood, through earth and skies,
“Mercy — free boundless mercy!” — cries.14
His blood speaks mercy, and you are come to it — not coming to it. We hear the speaking blood that cries mercy, cleansing, holiness, acceptability with God, sin put away.
I’m so glad we can look forward to the Second Advent as those whom the Bible says are going to be His kings and priests. We are come to it. We shall reign on the earth. Because metaphorically the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into the new Jerusalem, which is the Church, His Body. You’re to be God’s future kings, whether male or female, in heaven — there is no difference there. You’re going to be God’s kings, if you hold fast the truth that God has given you, if you walk in the light, if you’ll bear His cross, if you’ll follow your Beloved, if you’ll remain in Him, if you’ll allow the Holy Spirit to lead you and your walk in the Spirit. Amen.
Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of Advent. And thank you, Lord, that you’re taking us forward. Soon we’re going to be together in the Second Advent! We’re looking forward to that Advent day, the day of Your return.
The sky, not the grave, is our goal.
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!15
- Copyright © 2019 Finest of the Wheat Teaching Fellowship, Inc. Edited and annotated by Jim Kerwin. Co-edited by Denise Kerwin. Original audio transcribed by Donna Harvey. ↩
- Title image created by Jim Kerwin using a stock photo freely available from Unsplash.com by Marc-Olivier Jodoin. ↩
- This is an allusion to Hebrews 12:12, which is a quotation of Isaiah 35:3. ↩
- From the lyrics of Arise, My Soul, Arise! by John and Charles Wesley. ↩
- From Charles Wesley’s hymn Depth of Mercy. ↩
- This final quote comes from Augustus Toplady’s A Debtor to Mercy Alone. All of the couplets reference or allude to God’s words in Isaiah 49:16—
Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of My hands;
thy walls are continually before Me. ↩
- The “shadow” of God’s “wings” is a repeated theme in the Psalms. This word picture is mentioned in 17:8; 36:7; 57:1; 61:4; 63:7; and 91:4. ↩
- We follow Pastor Gutteridge’s slight, genteel departure from the King James text at this point. ↩
- These verses are from Eternal Light! Eternal Light! by Thomas Binney. ↩
- Henry V, Act IV Scene iii 18–67 ↩
- The words come from the lines of Joseph Gregg’s hymn, Ashamed of Jesus? ↩
- These six lines come from Samuel J. Stone’s masterpiece, The Church’s One Foundation. ↩
- A note from Bro. Jim Kerwin: In his message Pastor Gutteridge doesn’t elaborate on where this unscriptural doctrine comes from. Actually, it’s supposed origin is in the Bible, but, like so many misguided “truths,” it’s from a verse taken out of context. Consider the supposed source: Revelation 12:11 —
And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.
Now just to be clear, the “him” of the verse is the “the great dragon… that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan” (12:10), “the accuser of our brethren” (12:11). And the “they” of the verse are those accused “brethren” already mentioned, those who are being persecuted (v. 13), those against whom the dragon is waging war (i.e., those who “keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ,” v. 17).
The whole of Revelation 12 is a description of warfare, both in the celestial and terrestrial spheres. By the time Revelation had been written, the Church had already been through two long persecutions (under the Emperors Nero, a.d. 67) and Domitian, a.d. 81), and yet another loomed on the horizon. It was during this period that the word “testimony” — μαρτυρία / martyria — of these brethren made the transition of meaning to the last confession of a witness. And that word witness — μάρτυς / mártys or μάρτυρος / mártyros — which used to be more or less a legal word (e.g., Matthew 18:16), became the word which gave us the English word martyr (as the Greek word is used in Acts 22:20, Hebrews 12:1, Revelation 2:13 and 17:6).
So, you know those brethren, these ones who overcame the “great dragon” by “the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony”? Let’s finish the verse about them, something that those who quote this verse hardly ever do. There’s a third part to their overcoming: 1) the blood of the Lamb; 2) the word of their testimony; and, 3) their willingness to suffer martyrdom (“they loved not their lives unto the death”). It’s that third part that gets ignored, and shows us that, whatever else overcoming “by the blood of the Lamb” means, it certainly didn’t stop the devil from killing these witness/martyrs! Rather the blood marked them as those who were washed clean by His atoning sacrifice.
They “overcame” even in death, because, after all, how can you defeat someone who isn’t afraid to die?! “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain!” (The Primitive Church knew early on what the devil learned too late: “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.”)
Please understand that “pleading the blood” comes from a misunderstanding of this verse; it’s a superstition with which we’re left after this is ripped out of context. And I use the word “superstition” very deliberately, but without intention to offend. The devil is not scared of the blood of Jesus; he was the one who shed it (albeit unknowingly setting in motion his ultimate demise)! He’s not overly concerned about the name of Jesus (as seen in Acts 19:13-17). He fears the presence of Jesus, whether in Person, or in the person of a Spirit-filled saint of God assigned to oppose him.
Pastor Gutteridge’s concern, and mine, is to let the Church know that Jesus’ blood is not a talisman against the devil. It seems as though some believers (who might be appalled at the analogy I’m about to employ, but who wouldn’t necessarily disagree with the end goal) think along the lines of “what garlic is to a ‘vampire,’ the blood of Jesus is to the devil” — it wards him off. That is what I mean about it being superstition — it comes so close to the “magic” that shamans use against demon-spirits that it’s hard to see the qualitative difference.
Pastor Gutteridge is right: Only God’s High Priest, Jesus Christ, is worthy enough and holy enough to handle the blood, His blood. Other than the aforementioned misinterpretation of Revelation 12:11, there is not a single example in the New Testament of anyone “pleading the blood” or “sprinkling the blood” against the devil or demons. Nor does Paul list ”the blood” in the panoply of armor and weapons in Ephesians 6. The blood of Christ is not a “weapon” of spiritual warfare, nor is it God’s “magic charm” to ward off malignant spirits; it’s the living sacrifice of the Lamb that “cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). ↩
- These words are found in John Wesley’s translation of Johann Andreas Rothe’s hymn, Now I Have Found the Ground Wherein. ↩
- These are the closing lines of Horatio Spafford’s renowned hymn, It Is Well with My Soul. ↩