Before Jesus came to earth, suffered and died for our indiscretions (rebellion and sin against God), the Presence of God was resident in only one place: the Holy of Holies. Wherever Israel set up camp, the ‘temple’ was also set up. At first it was a tent with surrounding grounds bordered by curtains. Then later, with King Solomon, an actual temple was built. It consisted of three sections: the Outer Court, Inner Court and the Holy of Holies.
All people could enter the Outer Court. Only the priests could enter the Inner Court and only with restrictions such as: no alcoholic drinks, no diseases, and no reason to be unclean or defiled. But, only the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies. He could go behind the veil that separated the Inner Court from the Presence of God usually only once a year and only after an elaborate purification process. If he failed to perform the purification process properly or had some other reason to be unworthy to enter the Presence, he would drop dead in the Presence of God. Evidently this happened on occasion, because it was customary to tie a rope around the High Priest’s leg when he went in, in case he did die. No one wanted to go in after the body, but with the rope, they could just drag him out.
After the death of Jesus, when He said ‘it is finished’ and the curtain was torn in two, then symbolically, God was giving all men the ability to enter His Presence.
50 days later at the celebration of Pentecost, the Presence of God dwelling with His people became a reality. The Spirit of God appeared suddenly in the Upper Room as a mighty rushing wind where the 120 were gathered. They were gathered there because Jesus had told them (Acts 1: 4-5) to wait in Jerusalem for the promise of the Father.
When the wind came—the Holy Spirit appeared as a fire, which split and rested on each person there. They then carried with them the Holy Spirit as evidenced among other things by speaking in foreign tongues and prophesying.
About 4000 years of planning, teaching, prophesying, and sacrificing led up to the death and resurrection of Christ. Then 50 days later, God sealed the deal. Ephesians 1: 13-14 says:
“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.”
We do not belong to ourselves.
We were purchased with a price.
1 Cor 6:19-20 (NLT) “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.”
My dad was an air conditioner repairman when I was little, before I was in kindergarten. At that time it was me and two little sisters plus my mom and dad. Christmas was special, but we didn’t have a lot of spare cash. My favorite toy as a child was my Tiny Tears. I remember how amazing she was. She had rockabye eyes; she could drink cry real tears and wet her diaper! Guys, I know you understand how cool this was—right?
Well, back in the day—if you were a guy—you probably had a pocketknife with you all the time! (Check your pocket—got one now?) What do a doll and a pocketknife have to do with my thoughts here? Think about it—what do these things represent to us? Fun, special times, maybe sacrifice, family memories, comfort, can all be tied up in this knife or this doll.
Now, you are not a doll or pocketknife to God—and you are WAY MORE precious to Him than that doll was to me. He knows every cute little thing you do. Every funny word, every nice gesture, every hair on your head—He knows and delights in them all. Read Psalm 139 if you want a CRAZY list of everything God knows about us! Or, read Psalm 121, if you want some reassurance that HE NEVER SLEEPS, HE IS NEVER OFF HIS GAME, and yes—that means He knows you.
You are so precious to God that, when you tell Him you want to be a member of His family and confess your sin, and put your faith in what Jesus did on the cross; Ephesians chapter 1 says he seals you with the Holy Spirit.
Did you read the passage above in Ephesians? Did you REALLY read it? Here it is again,
“You also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.”
Wow! You can be sealed. You can be the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit! Think about that as you go about your business this next week. I would bet the Israelites would be pretty pumped about that thought!
I know it is changing me—just focusing on that one thought. How will it change you? Will it give you great peace? Will it make you more careful how you go about your day? Probably both! My parents paid for me to get braces on my teeth when I was in High School. I so appreciated the sacrifice they made, that I have always taken care of my teeth; making regular dental appointments, etc., This has meant something to me for all my adult life–and that is just braces on my teeth.
Find something that means a lot to you—a picture, a pocketknife—put it where you can see it. Every time you see it, let it remind you that God is watching and rejoicing over you. Zephaniah 3:17 says
“For the lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”
Thank you Virginia. It is so awesome and humbling, following God. Who could dream the places He will take you when you commit to His ways? Vicki
You have used one of my favorite verses in scripture in this post (Ephesians 1). It is one that really speaks to me and convinces me that God planned for me, for all of us, long before we were born. Thank you for your inspiring writing, and (from reading the exchange above) your willingness to take on the difficult questions.
I missed you this morning–I appreciate your question–it took me back to my salvation experience. I was hoping others would be stirred to ponder their own–or lack of one. I only want to write what will bring truth to someone, maybe someone who has never heard it. I value your insights. (And I LOVE your heritage–mine is Armenian! We are each a influenced by those that went before us.) Vicki
I think you mean this last question (two ways)? Feel free.
Looking forward to the choice you made. Is there a difference, when it comes to salvation, between being dead and a robot. A good intro to the topic? Hmmm.
Do you mind if I use your question as the beginning of a ‘post’? My response ended up being something I would like to share. I am not sure how I will do this yet–still new to WordPress.
Your “After the death of Jesus, when He said ‘it is finished’ and the curtain was torn in two, then symbolically, God was giving all men the ability to enter His Presence.”
I take it that you would agree that God also gave “all men” the desire as well?
What do you mean by “all?”
I appreciate your comment, more than you realize. I have one of those global thinking, excitable personalities with a desire to write a book. Reigning it in has been a challenge. God is/has been so personal in my life, that I want to walk up to everyone I know and share everything I know in 5 minutes.
In answer to your second question, Jesus himself says it more eloquently than I in the Gospel of John. Chapter 3, vs 16-21 (NIV)
So, it is ‘all’ with a condition attached (God’s covenant).
The first question ‘the desire’, I am not sure I have all the answers. People talk about a ‘God-size’ hole in a person’s heart, a longing for something that cannot be explained. The author of Psalms offers insight into an anguished heart searching for God (Ps 42 comes to mind). When God created us, He created a being with whom He could communicate. Maybe that is the piece that is called ‘desire’. When it is not satisfied, like losing a loved one to death, we long for that relationship, even after many years. The years dull the emptiness, (like all the pursuits of life dull our need for God), but it is there when we lay down at night alone with our thoughts.
Thanks bography–you made me think! Vicki
Do you believe in eternal damnation – hell? If so, do you think the people who are there deserve to be there? If yes, why is this so?
Greater minds than mine have written volumes on this question. So, in the interest of time and sanity, I will try to hit the high points.
Yes, I believe in eternal damnation. In Genesis 2:16
God lays down the condition for the arrangement between Himself and Adam (Eve wasn’t on the scene yet). Obviously Adam didn’t die after the contrary offense. So, what did God mean by
And in Romans 6:23
Look around, it is obvious that sin is an insidious cancer, killing on the inside and outside. Often, like cancer, the evil is not recognizable even to the host. Like Adam, we justify our sins with self-righteous validation. “I can’t help the way I am.” I know someone in prison for molesting a child who has said those very words.
Yes, spiritual death is the outcome of rebellion against God, and if we are never reconciled to God in this physical existence, we will spend eternity apart from Him (damnation). However, we can reverse this spiritual, eternal death by accepting what His Son Jesus did on the cross as a substitution for the penalty of our sins.
Free-will is not ‘free-will’ without a choice. There HAD to be a condition in the Garden. (If you don’t believe that’s the way things started out, it doesn’t change the fact that we are responsible for our choices now. It is easier on my brain to believe God’s WORD is true from the first page to the last. If I have to pick out which page is true and which page is not, I would chuck the whole thing. I don’t think God wrote for intellectuals only, He wrote for me too, and for the 8 year-old next door, and the old man down the street.)
Without a choice we would be robots without any say in our existence. God created us to freely love Him. Choices have consequences. God has done everything in His power to provide us with the tools to make a choice. In my own life He was patient while I tried every other way to happiness I could find. Some day I will post my own story of finding out the truth of God’s forbearance with me.
I am glad God is the judge. Thank you for helping me to clarify. Vicki
Which of the two ways – there are only two – would you describe how you were saved?
1. You were drowning in a deep pool of water. You were just about to go under. A man on the bank shouted to you to stretch out your hand. You struggled with all your might and managed to stretch out a bit of your exhausted arm. He grabbed your arm and pulled you out. He told you all about yourself and promised you would live forever if you put your trust in him for the rest of your life. You were so grateful that you decided to follow him the rest of your life.
2, You were lying dead at the bottom of the pool. You, of course, didn’t know this because you were dead. A man came dived into the pool, swam to the bottom and dragged you to the surface onto the bank. The “kiss of life” would be of no use because you weren’t half-dead but dead dead. Yet, he brought you back to life. He told you all about yourself and promised that you would live forever if you put your trust in him the rest of your life. You were so filled with joy that you decided to follow him the rest of your life.
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