Sermons

Summary: Finding the glorious tension between our guilt and His grace

12Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And before him no creature is hidden, but all are naked and laid bare to the eyes of the one to whom we must render an account.

14 Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. 15For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin.

16Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4: 12-16 (NRSV)

It was Mr. Mosher’s 10th grade Biology class that ended my medical career. The poor frog didn’t stand a chance! With a scalpel I opened the poor creature’s middle and it was not a pretty sight!

I don’t suppose it is a particularly “pretty” sight when God looks inside any of us either. Scripture says that God sees even the thoughts and intentions of our hearts; each of us, and ALL we have in our hearts!

This morning I want you to feel that – what it’s like for God to inspect us like a dissected frog…only this is without anesthetic; let’s be completely wide awake.

Consider the Sword

If you’re going to dissect something it helps to have a sharp knife. We commonly refer to the Bible as “God’s Word,” and this is so; however, in this application it is more. The word of God is more than just words printed on the pages of the book collecting dust in many households, or the method of inspiration which got those words on the page. The word of God is not dead or dusty – it is alive and powerful. It is all of who God is; all those Omni-words, omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent. Sharp sword!

Consider the Target

When the preacher to the Hebrews said the word divides soul and spirit, thoughts and intentions of the heart, he was trying to use the sharpest image possible for the reality that God knows us. He knows us so well there is not a part of our will, emotions and being hidden from him. He knows our heart. In fact God knows it so well it is truly like our friend the dissected frog, laid naked on the lab table. Nothing is hidden from his eyes, from this omniscient God of all. That phrase “laid bare” carries with it picture of an executioner looking at a bare neck awaiting the blow. God is the judge and we stand before him with our entire being a target for his inspection.

Now, this is where the “not very pretty” comes in – Scripture tells us we must “render an account” to this one who wields the sharp sword. This phrase means we have to speak…to say what our life has meant. When I was very young my Dad caught me in the act of something I knew was wrong. He stood there; the verdict was certain. (The only thing not certain to me was how much it was going to hurt!)

This is the sense of rendering our account before God. He already knows – the sharp sword has seen, known, and heard all we are and do. He saw it in the intentions of our heart, the will we possess and exercise.

Consider the Compassion

Yet, with impending judgment unmistakable, undeniable and unavoidable, the writer says, say it anyway…hold fast to your confession. The reason? Jesus! Jesus is the priest, the one who has faced every temptation, every trial possible to human beings; he has faced it all without sin, and stands for us, with us, sympathetic to our weakness. One of the meanings of that word “weakness” suggests our “unimpressivness”. Jesus knows what it is like to be despised and rejected - unimpressive.

Consider the Grace and Mercy

Jesus is more than just compassionate; he is the source of grace and mercy for our right relationship with God. We stand guilty before Almighty God, and rightly so; we must confess our sins. Jesus takes us by the arm and says; let’s go closer…all the way to the mercy of the Father all the way to his outstretched, merciful arms. That, friends, is our help in time of need; that is grace for the undeserving, unimpressive persons we really are!

Consider the Leap

The “leap” is what holding the confession is all about. The 139th Psalm is how to do that. If you’re ready to trust this One who knows you like a dissected frog, pray this way:

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