Rev Dr Edgar Mayer; Living Grace Toowoomba Church; Message on Tabernacle 2; Date: 30 August 09

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The Secret Of The Holy

 

 

What do we remember about the tabernacle from last Sunday?

 

[Show slides of the tabernacle.]

 

We observed the following: 1) The principles of the tabernacle – the deep truths of this ancient worship tent – the patterns which God showed to Moses – are still in force today and therefore apply to us – here and now. The Bible explains – Hebrews 8:5: “They [human priests] serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: ‘See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.’” 2) Access to God is progressive. You start at the Outer Court but then the presence of God intensifies the further you go into the Holy Place and then the Holy of Holies. 3) In the past God began by choosing one nation as his people and from this one nation – the people of Israel – only one person – the high priest – was ever allowed in the Holy of Holies and that only once every year (on the day of atonement). But now – because of Jesus’ supreme sacrifice on the cross – we can all approach and enter into the Holy of Holies. When Jesus died, “ … the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom” (Mark 15:37-38).

 

The tabernacle is modeled on heaven itself and the best available teaching aid on worship. However, even last Sunday we were slow to get excited about this worship tent because of the seemingly endless construction details in the Bible – chapter upon chapter upon chapter of minute – particular – building instructions – what material to use – the length and width of every curtain, pot and post. God layed out – spelled out – absolutely everything – to the last (little) detail. This was painstaking – too much effort (cramping our style) – even reading about it. Yet, there is another lesson contained in this for us. Obedience matters. Following God’s instructions to the “t” (dotting every “i”) matters because obedience to God is the prerequisite – the number one condition – of drawing near to him in worship.

I read from the closing building inspection – Exodus 39:32-43: “So all the work on the tabernacle, the Tent of Meeting, was completed. The Israelites did everything just as the Lord commanded Moses. Then they brought the tabernacle to Moses: the tent and all its furnishings, its clasps, frames, crossbars, posts and bases; the covering of ram skins dyed red, the covering of hides of sea cows and the shielding curtain; the ark of the Testimony with its poles and the atonement cover; the table with all its articles and the bread of the Presence; the pure gold lampstand with its row of lamps and all its accessories, and the oil for the light; the gold altar, the anointing oil, the fragrant incense, and the curtain for the entrance to the tent; the bronze altar with its bronze grating, its poles and all its utensils; the basin with its stand; the curtains of the courtyard with its posts and bases, and the curtain for the entrance to the courtyard; the ropes and tent pegs for the courtyard; all the furnishings for the tabernacle, the Tent of Meeting; and the woven garments worn for ministering in the sanctuary, both the sacred garments for Aaron the priest and the garments for his sons when serving as priests. The Israelites had done all the work just as the Lord had commanded Moses. Moses inspected and saw that they had done it just as the Lord had commanded. So Moses blessed them

 How are we feeling about this? This almost sounds tedious. Who really cared what the clasps and the frames and the crossbars and the bases looked like? As long as the Tent had structure to withstand the desert wind, God should have been pleased. Yet, God – (in this case) a stickler for detail – was not relaxed about compliance – at all – but insisted on his – precise – blueprint and the Bible stresses the point: “ … The Israelites did everything just as the Lord commanded … The Israelites had done all the work just as the Lord had commanded ... Moses … saw that they had done it just as the Lord had commanded … ”

God – and this is the lesson – insists on the obedience of anyone that wants to draw near him in worship. Therefore, do not come with any self-made approach – what looks good to you – and do not follow any shortcuts (cf. Exodus 32:1-5) – but follow God’s own – meticulous – building instructions for his worship tent. There is a reason behind every detail (even if you do not yet understand).

God articulated the principle of obedience in many places. When he took the Israelites as his people, he said to them at Mount Sinai – Exodus 19:5-6: “Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then … you will be my treasured possession … a kingdom of priests and a holy nation … ” God offered the Israelites a special relationship – his presence among them – which was worth any condition and therefore the Israelites answered God – Exodus 19:8: “ … We will do everything the Lord has saidThey committed themselves more than once – Exodus 24:3: “When Moses went and told the people all the Lord’s words and laws, they responded with one voice, ‘Everything the Lord has said we will do.’”

Are we willing to do everything that the Lord has said? One book in the Bible sums up all of life in no uncertain terms – Ecclesiastes 12:13: “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man … ” Obedience to God underpins absolutely everything and without obedience not even the worship of our God has any benefit – 1 Samuel 15:22: “ … Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams

Indeed – far more than obedience is required. You can keep all of the commandments and still fall short of God’s requirements because God is not only interested in your actions (and be they perfect) – but your heart. He says in the Bible – Leviticus 19:2: “ … Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy[1 Peter 1:5: “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’”] And holiness consists of far more than obedience. The holiness of God speaks of his pure nature and character. It is the beautiful core of his being and not just what he does.

We are to be the same. Jesus himself said so. If we think that we can simply come to him and live on cheap forgiveness – without any real commitment to obey him and without any real commitment to holiness – we are on the wrong track. Our loving Jesus himself corrects our vision, saying –  Matthew 5:17-20: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven … I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven

This is Jesus. Every Christian is to obey the laws of God to the smallest letter and the least stroke of a pen (down to the last little building detail of the worship tent) and our righteousness is to surpass that of mere religion – the mere observance of outward regulations. We are to be holy because he is holy.

What does this mean in practice? Jesus gave a few examples – Matthew 5:21-26: “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, … ’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgement … ” Matthew 5:27-30: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart … ” In other words: Obedience that is not backed up by the purity of your heart – by holiness – is not worth anything. You may not murder with your hands but what does it profit you when your heart does. You may not commit hands-on adultery but what does it profit you when – from a distance – your eyes and your heart do. This is not good enough for God. He says: “Be holy as I am holy[We are to surpass the righteousness of the Pharisees by means of the Holy Spirit who has been poured out on all in these last times.]

We get back to the worship tent – the tabernacle – and maybe at this stage we come to understand what needs to happen first as we come in and draw near to God. I read to you the account of how the ministry at the tabernacle began. Let the words impact you. Get the flavour of this kind of worship – Leviticus 9:1-24: “On the eighth day Moses summoned Aaron and his sons and the elders of Israel. He said to Aaron, ‘Take a bull calf for your sin offering and a ram for your burnt offering, both without defect, and present them before the Lord. Then say to the Israelites: ‘Take a male goat for a sin offering, a calf and a lamb – both a year old and without defect – for a burnt offering, and an ox and a ram for a fellowship offering to sacrifice before the Lord, together with a grain offering mixed with oil. For today the Lord will appear to you.

They took the things Moses commanded to the front of the Tent of Meeting [the Tabernacle], and the entire assembly came near and stood before the Lord. Then Moses said, ‘This is what the Lord has commanded you to do, so that the glory of the Lord may appear to you.’ Moses said to Aaron, ‘Come to the altar and sacrifice your sin offering and your burnt offering and make atonement for yourself and the people; sacrifice the offering that is for the people and make atonement for them, as the Lord has commanded.’

So Aaron came to the altar and slaughtered the calf as a sin offering for himself. His sons brought the blood to him, and he dipped his finger into the blood and put it on the horns of the altar; the rest of the blood he poured out at the base of the altar. On the altar he burned the fat, the kidneys and the covering of the liver from the sin offering, as the Lord commanded Moses; the flesh and the hide he burned outside the camp.

Then he slaughtered the burnt offerings. His sons handed him the blood, and he sprinkled it against the altar on all sides. They handed him the burnt offering piece by piece, including the head, and he burned them on the altar. He washed the inner parts and the legs and burned them on top of the burnt offering on the altar.

Aaron then brought the offering that was for the people. He took the goat for the people’s sin offering and slaughtered it and offered it for a sin offering as he did with the first one. He brought the burnt offering and offered it in the prescribed way. He also brought the grain offering, took a handful of it and burned it on the altar in addition to the morning’s burnt offering. He slaughtered the ox and the ram as the fellowship offering for the people. His sons handed him the blood, and he sprinkled it against the altar on all sides. But the fat portions of the ox and the ram – the fat tail, the layer of fat, the kidneys and the covering of the liver – these they laid on the breasts, and then Aaron burned the fat on the altar. Aaron waved the breast and the right thigh before the Lord as a wave offering, as Moses commanded.

Then Aaron lifted his hands toward the people and blessed them. And having sacrificed the sin offering, the burnt offering and the fellowship offering, he stepped down.

Moses and Aaron then went into the Tent of Meeting. When they came out, they blessed the people; and the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people. Fire came out of the presence of the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the fat portions on the altar. And when all the people saw it, they shouted for joy and fell facedown

The tabernacle worship is modeled on heaven itself but for us today it doesn’t seem to be that accessible. First the minute building instructions – God’s insistence on his blueprint – every precise detail – seemed tedious – there were so many boring Bible chapters – but now – after this account – there is another impression. Now the same insistence on detail becomes gruesome. God’s kind of worship involved so much killing of innocent animals – so much innocent blood – rams and oxen and goats.

Can you imagine coming to church on Sunday and – after some opening songs – watch the church leadership slit the throat of one animal after another so that these bloody sacrifices would atone – pay the price – for our sins? How would you feel? Let’s look at a few pictures of what worship at the tabernacle looked like.

 

Slide presentation of bloody animal sacrifices.

 

This looks gruesome. Instead of nice worship and wearing our Sunday best there is the butchering of animals, blood flowing and death. Can we take in the pictures and everything that we have said so far – and then begin to appreciate the number one problem of worship, that is: how can sinners like us draw near to a holy God. Obedience matters. Holiness is required but we are sinners – always falling short of God’s perfect standards. How can we worship him? How can we draw near to him and not be consumed?

The people in our Bible account observed God’s glory consume the sacrifice with holy fire. They shouted for joy and fell facedown but the very next verses in the Bible relayed how God – even for them – retained his dangerous – holy – side. I read from Leviticus 10:1-3: “Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu took their censers, put fire in them and added incense and they offered unauthorized fire before the Lord, contrary to his command. So fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord. Moses then said to Aaron, ‘This is what the Lord spoke of when he said: Among those who approach me I will show myself holy; in the sight of all the people I will be honoured.’ Aaron remained silent. [He was not allowed to mourn.]”

Once a year the high-priest would enter the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle but he would do so with bells on his garments and a rope tied to his ankle because it was so dangerous for him to come into the holiest presence of God. Outside people would listen whether the bells were still making any sounds. If everything was silent, God might have killed the high-priest and the people – without risking the same fate – would simply pull on the rope dragging the high-priest out. Do we worship with the same kind of awareness? God is absolutely holy and therefore – by his very nature – consumes everyone and everything that is unclean – that has any sin or any blemish.

[The principle in the Bible is that the closer we come to our holy God, the more even the “small” sins matter and the swifter judgement comes. Cf. Leviticus 10 and 1 Samuel 2; Numbers 20 and Acts 5.]

The good news is that God made provisions for blood sacrifices to atone for the sin of the people. Forgiveness was available but it was costly. The Bible teaches – Hebrews 9:22: “In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgivenessIn the tabernacle worship begins at the brazen altar – with blood flowing for human sins.

For us it is not any different even though for us Jesus took the place of all the animals. The brazen altar found its fulfillment in Jesus’ supreme sacrifice on the cross. The Bible teaches – Hebrews 9:11-28: “ … Christ … did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God … It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself … ”

 

Slide presentation of Christ’s bloody sacrifice. [Commentary: Jesus was perfect like the animals to be sacrificed had to be perfect. His blood atoned for everything and according to Hebrews 9 also cleansed the Most Holy Place in the Tabernacle. We are welcome now in the presence of God. The pictures relay how big the sin problem was and is for worship and how grave the remedy was and is. Hallelujah. Praise be to Jesus Christ – our Saviour.]

 

 

Now – in this last segment of today’s message I want to draw your attention to an unexpected secret which only a few Christians seem to know. Yes – the worship of our God can appear tedious – when obedience is required to minute building instructions and life regulations – and it can appear gruesome – when so much blood must flow for us (for the forgiveness of our sins) – but the outcome of taking time at the Brazen Altar is wonderful – and unexpected. The outcome of being thorough and painstaking in humbling ourselves before God, applying the blood of Christ to each and every one of our sins and committing to a life of holiness is worth our all.

Charles Finney wrote a concise little book called “Power From God” which is absolutely amazing and – even after one hundred and fifty years – still modern. There is much correction in this book and helpful teaching on Spirit power, faith experience, how to win souls, how to overcome sin and prevailing prayer. Yet, one chapter of the book was spoiling the entire treatise for me. It seemed overdone, too narrow and small-minded.

The chapter was dealing with the question of innocent amusements and I read some excerpts to you. See what you think. He writes: “ … it is plain that it is not innocent to engage in amusements merely to gratify the desire for amusement. We may not innocently eat or drink to gratify the desire for food or drink. To eat or drink to gratify the appetite is innocent enough in a mere animal, but in a moral agent, it is a sin. A moral agent is obligated to have a higher ultimate motive – to eat and drink that he may be strong and healthy for the service of God. God has made eating and drinking pleasant to us, but this pleasure ought not to be our ultimate reason for eating and drinking …

Nothing is innocent unless it proceeds from supreme love to God and equal love to man, unless the supreme and ultimate motive is to please and honour God. In other words, to be innocent, any amusement must be engaged in because it is believed, at the time, most pleasing to God … Fishing and shooting for amusement are not innocent …

Again, no amusement can be innocent that involves the squandering of precious time that might be better employed to the glory of God and the good of man. Life is short. Time is precious. We have but one life to live. Much is to be done. The world is in darkness. A world of sinners are to be enlightened and, if possible, saved …

Again, no amusement can be innocent that involves an unnecessary expenditure of the Lord’s money … Expensive journeys for our own pleasure and amusement, and not undertaken with a single eye to the glory of God, are not innocent amusements but sinful …

What, then, is an innocent amusement? It must be that and only that which not only might be, but actually is, engaged in with a single eye to God’s glory and the interests of His kingdom. If this is not the ultimate and supreme design, it is not an innocent but a sinful amusement …

The question often arises. Are we never to seek such amusements? My answer is that it is our privilege and our duty to live above a desire for such things. All of that class of desires should be subdued by living close to God. We should be living so much in the light of God and having so deep a communion with Him that we will not feel the need of worldly excitements, sports, pastimes, and entertainments for enjoyment. If a Christian avails himself of his privilege of communion with God, he will naturally and by an instinct of his new nature repel solicitation to go after worldly amusement. To him, such pastimes will appear low, unsatisfactory, and even repulsive …

Surely, a Christian must be fallen from his first love, he must have turned back into the world, before he can feel the necessity or have the desire of seeking enjoyment in worldly sports and patimes. A spiritual mind cannot seek enjoyment in worldly society … Probably few people enjoy worldly pleasure more intensely than I did before I was converted; by my conversion and the spiritual baptism that immediately followed it, completely extinguished all desire for worldly sports and amusements. I was lifted at once into an entirely different plane of life and another kind of enjoyment … I must say that my Christian life has been a happy one …

Now, is this rule a yoke of bondage? … Surely, it is not and cannot be to any who love God with all their hearts and their neighbours as themselves … all real Christians love God supremely. Their own interests and their own pleasure are regarded as nothing as compared with the interestes and good pleasure of God. They, therefore, cannot seek amusements unless they believe themselves called of God to do so. By a law of our nature, we seek to please those whom we supremely love. Also, by a law of our nature, we find our highest happiness in pleasing those whom we supremely love …

This is a fact of Christian consciousness. The highest and purest of all amusements is found in doing the will of God. Mere worldly amusements are cold and insipid and not worthy of naming in comparison to the enjoyment we find in doing the will of God …

The Bible is replete with instruction on this subject, which is the direct opposite of these pleas for worldly amusements. These teachers plead for fun, hilarity, jesting, plays, games, and such things as worldly minds love and enjoy; but the Bible exhorts sobriety, heavenly mindedness, unceasing prayer, and a close and perpetual walk with God. The Bible everywhere assumes that all real enjoyment is found in this course of life, that all true peace of mind is found in communion with God and in giving our all to seek His glory. It exhorts us to watchfulness and it informs us that we must give an account in the Day of Judgement for every idle word (Matthew 12:36) …

What is Christian liberty but the privilege of doing what Christians most love to do – that is, in all things to fulfill the good pleasure of their blessed Lord? … There can be no higher enjoyment found in this world than is found in pulling souls out of the fire and bringing them to Christ … ” (Charles Finney: Power From God, New Kensington: Whitaker House 1996, p98-115).

In my estimate this was too harsh. What about church soccer? What about going to a concert? Was Finney such a sour man that he could not enjoy life? To the contrary! When I read his autobiography, I began to understand the heart behind Finney’s words – what he experienced himself. His absolute commitment to holiness – his most thorough time at the Brazen Altar – yielded more joy, more peace, more love than any non-Christian will ever know.[1]

In his autobiography he shared the following [abbreviate and retell in your own words]: “ … this winter … my mind was . exercised on the question of personal holiness … I gave myself to a great deal of prayer … After praying … for weeks and months, one morning … the thought occurred to me, what if … my heart is not really subdued … Just before … I had had a great struggle about giving up my wife to the will of God. She was in very feeble health, and it was very evident that she could not live long … I had never before seen so clearly what was implied in laying her and all that I possessed upon the altar of God, and for hours I struggled upon my knees to give her up unqualifiedly to the will of God. But I found myself unable to do it. I was so shocked and surprised at this that I perspired profusely with agony. I struggled and prayed until I was exhausted, and found myself entirely unable to give her altogether up to God’s will, in such a way as to make no objection to his disposing of her as he pleased. This troubled me much … But … I was enabled, after struggling … to fall back in a deeper sense than I had ever done before upon the infinitely blessed and perfect will of God. I . told the Lord that I had such confidence in him that I felt perfectly willing to give myself, my wife and my family, and all, to be disposed of without any qualification according to his views and will … I then had a deeper view of what was implied in consecration to God than I ever had before. I spent a long time upon my knees … giving up everything to the will of God … the whole of that day … nothing troubled me. I was neither elated nor depressed; I was neither … joyful nor sorrowful. My confidence in God was perfect … Just at evening the question arose in my mind: ‘What if God should send me to hell – what then?’ … my mind . settled. I said, ‘No … hell could be no hell to me if I accepted God’s perfect will.’ This sprung a vein of joy in my mind that kept developing more and more for weeks and months, and indeed I may say for years.

For years my mind was too full of joy to feel much exercised with anxiety on any subject … It seemed as if my desires were all met. What I had been praying for myself, I had received in a way that I least expected. Holiness to the Lord seemed to be inscribed on all the exercises of my mind … The language of the Song of Solomon was as natural to me as my breath … I not only had all the freshness of my first love, but a vast accession to it. Indeed the Lord lifted me so much above anything that I had experienced before, and taught me so much of the meaning of the Bible, of Christ’s relations and power and willingness, that I often found myself saying to him, ‘I had not known or conceived that any such thing was true.’ … I had had no conception of the length and breadth, and height and depth, and efficiency of his grace … I found myself exclaiming, ‘Wonderful! Wonderful! Wonderful!’ … “ (Charles Finney: The Original Memoirs Of Charles Finney, Grand Rapids: Zondervan 1989, p328-332).

What happened to Finney was that radical consecration made him enter the Holy of Holies.

 

Show slide of tabernacle.

 

After everything was surrendered to God, he entered the most holy presence of God and found that – in response to his complete surrendering – he now received far more in return from God. The language of the Song of Solomon became as natural to him as breath. This is what we want in our own lives (cf. Heidi Baker). Holiness is no longer a chore – a discipline in the Outer Court at the Brazen Altar as we begin to worship (cf. 1 Corinthians 9:27: “But I buffet my body and bring it into bondage … ”) – but now it has become the natural desire of someone that is so in love with God that pleasing him and rejoicing in his holy nature are the foremost delights.

Let us hear more from Finney what we can all experience [abbreviate and retell in your own words]: “ … what I experienced that winter exceed all that I had before experienced … I had in fact oftentimes experienced inexpressible joys, and very deep communion with God; but all this had fallen so into shade, under my enlarged experience that winter, that frequently I would tell the Lord that I had never before had any conception of the wonderful things revealed in His blessed Gospel, and the wonderful grace there was in Christ Jesus … As the great excitement of that season subsided, my mind became more calm. I saw more clearly the different steps of my Christian experience, and came to recognize the connection of things as all wrought by God from beginning to end. But since then I have never had those great struggles, and long protracted seasons of agonizing prayer before I could get hold of full rest in God, that I had often experienced. Since then it is quite another thing to prevail with God in my own experience, from what it was before. I can come to God with more calmness, because with more perfect confidence. He enables me now to rest in Him, and let everything sink into His perfect will, with much more readiness than ever before the experience of that winter. I have felt since then a religious freedom, a religious buoyancy and delight in God and in His Word, a steadiness of faith, a Christian liberty and overflowing love, that I had only experienced, I may say occasionally before that … but never abiding as they have been since. My bondage seemed to be at that time entirely broken, and since then I have had the freedom of a child with a loving parent. It seems to me that I can find God within me in such a sense that I can rest upon Him and be quiet, lay my heart in His hand, and nestle down in His perfect will and have no carefulness or anxiety. I speak of these exercises as habitual since that period, but I cannot affirm that they have been altogether unbroken, for in 1860, during a fit of sickness, I had a season of great depression and wonderful humiliation. But the Lord brought me out of it into an established peace and rest … ” (Charles Finney: The Original Memoirs Of Charles Finney, Grand Rapids: Zondervan 1989, p333-335).

What Finney and others experienced is the full privilege of “tabernacle worship” where the presence of God intensifies as we move from the Outer Court to the Holy Place and then Holy of Holies. He understood that the key to entering deeper into the presence of God was holiness – allowing the blood of Jesus to cleanse him thoroughly. However, (I assume) most of us here do not quite comprehend what Finney was talking about. I myself have not yet arrived at a point where the language of the Song of Songs is as natural to me in my relationship with God as breathing. I am also not enjoying as much rest and as much joy as he did. I’m still stressing way too much – worrying about many things.

Finney himself also found that only few other Christians could relate to him. Most did not understand what he experienced because most Christians never seemed to have entered the Holy of Holies. He writes: “I spent nearly all the remaining part of the winter, till I was obliged to return home, in instructing the people in regard to the fullness there was in Christ. But I found that I preached over the heads of the masses of the people. They did not understand me. There was, indeed, a goodly number that did, and they were wonderfully blessed in their souls, and made more progress in the divine life, as I have reason to believe, than in all their lives before. But the little church that was formed there was not composed of materials that could, to any considerable extent, work healthfully and efficiently together. The outside opposition to them was great. The mass even of professors of religion in the city did not sympathize with them at all. The people of the churches generally were in no state to receive my views of sanctification; and although there were individuals in nearly all the churches who were deeply interested and greatly blessed, yet as a general thing the testimony that I bore was unintelligible to them (Charles Finney: The Original Memoirs Of Charles Finney, Grand Rapids: Zondervan 1989, p332-333).

This morning – you and I – we are ready to discover what we do not yet know. We spend time at the Brazen Altar. Do it now: give up all of our sins, ask for forgiveness, apply the blood of Jesus to your sins, commit to holiness – and then – in God’s time – expect to enter the Holy of Holies. We are allowed in and – overcome with all of his goodness – the language of the Song of Solomon will become as natural to us as breathing. “God, you are beautiful. We love youAmen.



[1] The commitment to holiness does not have to be world-denying. Basilea Schlink: My All For Him, London: Lakeland 1971, p14-18: “For a long time I could not find the key, the solution, to my questions: What is true discipleship? What does Jesus want? On the one hand, He calls us to an uncompromising discipleship. He calls us to forsake everything … In the same way, the Bible says that the whole creation is God’s handiwork; thence springs human knowledge and science, and thus our civilization: surely we should hold it in esteem? Now, if we forsake all things to tread the path of uncompromising discipleship, we become ascetic and seclusive, denying civilization and everything that God has created. Yet this cannot be right! What are we to do?

Many voices reached my ears … One view was that as the body of Christ, we should not concern ourselves with what is happening in our country … I listened to this but then I discovered that those who held this view lacked joy … At the same time, they were very self-righteous … Then I heard a very different view … they took their place in the world. It seemed to me, however, that they had so fully conformed to the world that they did not pay attention to the warnings of scripture, e.g., ‘Do not love the world or the things in the world’ (1 John 2:15) …

Still I wondered. What did God want? … After following first the one path for several years and then the other, I still did not feel that I had found His way … He had to make me see the truth about myself before He could show me the right way. He had to show me that I was a poor sinner. I had to become so desperate that I could cry over my sins. I could not get on with a difficult woman with whom I was living … Then the Lord showed me my sin … This experience drove me into the arms of Jesus … He began to reveal Himself as Love. It was He Himself – not any particular teaching … but rather He Himself who was the answer … Only one thing was important: I was drawn to love him … He was the jewel of my heart … He truly is the sweetest …

My love for Him helped me to find the answer to my questions. I had found the key – love for Jesus, this first love, bridal love. Through this love I saw that to tread the path of Jesus does not involve abstention from the riches of our Father’s world. All at once I noticed the two phrases which Jesus always added whenever He called someone to uncompromising disicpleship: ‘For My sake,’ ‘For My name’s sake’. We are called to tread His path and be close to Him out of love for Him …

After the Lord showed me that the way of uncompromising discipleship is the way of voluntary love, He let me find the key to Christian freedom. Because Jesus is Love, He must have enjoyed hours of relaxation with His disciples. He drew their attention to the beauty of nature: ‘Consider the lilies of the field … ’ (Matt. 6:28) … I began to comprehend this; now that I was joined with him in love, I could enjoy creation.

Now the gifts of the Creator were no longer strange and foreign to me, not were they something to be avoided lest they draw me away from strict discipleship. Now they were a loving greeting from God the Father … Previously, too, I scarcely dared to admire religious art. But, now when I saw pictures of Jesus or of the marvels that God had brought into being in lands where I had met Him, they aroused deeper thanksgiving and greater love in my heart … No, now I loved my people and all other peoples, because they shared the radiance of the Father’s love; they were a creative thought of His heart … Now I was truly free … because I was completely filled with His love … ”