Christ salvation

Search the Scriptures: A Celebration of Salvation

When God gave the Law to Israel, speaking from the mountain, proclaiming those edicts which would become known as the Ten Commandments, the book of Exodus tells us that it was an awesome and awe-inspiring occasion (cf. Exodus 20:18 -19). The Israelites were so driven to terror that they asked Moses to be the ambassador henceforth, interceding between them and God.

The writer of the letter to the Hebrews in the New Testament, seeking to encourage his Christian readers, reminds them of this ancient occasion, drawing a contrast with their own experience. He first writes: “For you have not arrived at that which can be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and darkness and a storm and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the listeners that no other message is addressed to them. For they could not bear the command given to them: ‘If even a beast touches the mountain, it will be stoned.’ Indeed, the sight was so terrifying that Moses said, “I tremble with fear. (Hebrews 12:18-21; ESV)”

On the contrary, the author argues, the Christian experience is quite different, being occasioned less by outright terror in the face of God’s awesome power, and more by an air of celebration rejoicing in Christ’s salvation and a place in his kingdom.

“But you came to mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to the innumerable angels having a feast meeting, and to the congregation of the firstborn who are written in heaven, and to God , the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel (Hebrews 12:22-24; ESV ). “

Heavenly Jerusalem, the city of God on the true Mount Zion, is not a reference to this physical city of the same name. It is a city not found on any earthly map, hence the description “heavenly”, but rather a prophetic allusion to the Kingdom of God. In this sacred city, saints and angels gather. The saints are identified as “the assembly of the firstborn who are written in heaven”, and the numberless angels are seen in festive gathering, all before the throne in the center of the city, on which sits the King and Priest of the New Covenant: Jesus the Christ, whose blood purifies sin and testifies to the salvation of those who receive it.

The rejoicing angels evoke another passage. Jesus taught, “There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who need no repentance,” and “there is joy before angels of God to one repentant sinner” (Luke 15:7, 10; ESV). »

Men on earth were afraid when God spoke from heaven and the earth itself trembled before his voice. But when God manifests his love and mercy in Christ, it brings joy to all who participate in it and it brings joy to those who serve the Lord. God himself rejoices in souls who are saved. The angels, seeing the face of their joyful Creator, also rejoice, and all heaven becomes a festive gathering, celebrating the salvation of Christ each time a single soul turns from sin and, obeying the good news of Christ, sees his sins blotted out. (cf. Acts 22:16).

As the angels rejoice, so too should God’s people here on earth. The fruit of the Spirit is not pain, but joy (cf. Galatians 5:22). The Ethiopian eunuch heard and obeyed Christ’s message, and knowing the treasure he had received, we read, “he went on his way rejoicing (Acts 8:39).” His example is recorded reminding us of the propriety of joy in the face of salvation and life.

God’s awesome power is not diminished from what it was when he gave the commandments to Israel, but is tempered by the glory of Christ’s gift. The author of Hebrews wisely advises all: “Take care not to reject the speaker (Hebrews 12:25). There is no good sense in turning away from the gift of life offered in Christ. Those who have not yet come to Christ in obedience should not delay, but make every effort to partake of God’s grace in Christ.

Likewise, having received such a gift, “let us be thankful that we have received a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and so offer pleasing worship to God with reverence and fear, for our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:28-29; ESV). Our worship of God as Christians is a celebration of our salvation, reminiscent of the festive gathering of heavenly angels. It’s reverent and filled with awe as we come before the living God, but it’s also full of gratitude for what God has done for us. A gift as wonderful as the one Jesus gave us deserves nothing less than heartfelt joy from those who receive it.

McAnulty

Jonathan McAnulty is a minister of Chapel Hill Church of Christ. The views expressed in the article are the work of the author.