The Big Cover-up
22 May 2004, Pr George Porter
(George is Thornleigh's Church Pastor)
TITLE: The Big Cover-up
Theme: Christian Atonement in the Final Judgment
Scripture Readings: Matthew 7:21 -23 2 Corinthians 5:10
INTRODUCTION: (Before Ordinance of Humility - Feet Washing)
Jesus said in Matthew 7: 21-23, "Not all people who sound religious are really godly. They may refer to me as 'Lord', but they still won't enter the Kingdom of Heaven. On judgment day many will tell me, 'Lord, Lord, we prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.' But I will reply, I never knew you." NLB
Again in 2 Corinthians 5:10 Scripture records the fact that, "We must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in our bodies." NLB
Today on this special Ordinances day we are celebrating the Big Cover-up. It is the most blatant and loving Cover-up in all the history of the universe. The issue of the Lord's Supper - Holy Communion is to Cover-up. The feet washing ceremony represents our attitude to Christ and each other. It displays love for God and also love for our neighbour.
THE REAL ISSUE BEHIND THE COVER-UP
There is no doubt after surveying Scripture that God has scheduled a pre-Advent judgment with final consequences for the occupants of this world. It is for the believers - "the household of God", and also for non-believers. "We must all appear before the Judgment seat of Christ." It is good news. It is all over before Jesus comes the second time. Our names certainly come before Christ in the pre-advent judgment but you personally will not be there! Then again in a sense, you are there in Christ as a believer. You believe by faith that He covers for you because you have confessed your sins and have chosen Him as your Attorney and Solicitor.
This pre-advent judgment is the scrutiny of the records of our attitudes and works - the behaviour as acted out in our lives and lifestyle. We certainly need Christ to cover us, as none of us, no matter how good our works may be, have enough righteousness of our own to stand before our Holy God alone. The Good News about the judgment is that we do not have to stand alone. Stand we do but not alone. We are covered if we accept Christ's offer. We stand in Jesus Christ. Our records declare forgiven if by faith we believe solely in Jesus Christ as our Saviour. WOW! I am sure glad my Solicitor and Attorney is my Judge. His righteousness is credited and gifted to us. We are winners. Not one threat of our so called works contributes to our not guilty verdict. Salvation is of Christ alone.
We live in time of the Final Universal Day of Atonement. The final pre Advent Day of Judgment. Since 1844 the Scripture plainly declares that you and I live in the final phases of this worlds investigative judgment. It decides and determines the destination of every soul on earth, in God's final execution of judgment for a world on trial for treason against Creator God. This modern Day of Atonement is about God's offer to save those who love His salvation offer, Jesus Christ our Saviour. Remember, atonement is intercession and forgiveness for believers. This is "Good News".
For all believers atonement is about pardon not condemnation. "So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus." Romans 8:1. As Daniel made it clear in Daniel 7: 22, 27 Judgment is in favour of the saints, that is the believers. Daniel is talking about the finals. As the laws of the Levitical system of the Old Testament show, It is blood not the law that pardons and cleanses . It is a Big Cover up for us all if we accept. Oh , what love.
Now we can show our sorrow for our sins and our penitence and seek pardon and forgiveness by entering into the washing of each others feet and then returning to the Lord's sacred table. It is all Day of Atonement intercession and forgiveness. Let us all get prepared for our covered up. ( Feet Washing Ceremony- Ordinance of Humility)
(Return for the Holy Communion - The Lord's Supper - Ceremony)
Symbols of Salvation and Redemption - Unleavened Bread and Grape Juice
THE COVER-UP IN COURT
THE BREAD SYMBOL
We live in the final Day of Atonement. The pre-Advent Judgment times. There is a scrutiny of our claim to be Christ's children. Our claim is on show to God in the records of our every day lives. BUT Satan accuses us and has plenty of evidence. We need a big cover up of our sins repented of before Christ.
Zechariah 3:1-5 NLB is a powerful sample of final Day of Atonement judgment.
Here Joshua, the first High Priest after the return from Babylon, stands on Atonement day on behalf of his people corporately. He must stand for his own personal sins too. He and they are there because they have repented and returned to God from Babylon.
"Satan was there … accusing Joshua of many things." "And the Lord said to Satan, I the Lord, reject your accusations." Christ stands for Joshua because he has repented and been forgiven. Christ is there to defend not accuse believers. "There is now no condemnation, " Romans 8:1. God does for believers what they can never do for themselves.
Note that in verse 3 Christ directs the angels to, "take off the filthy clothes," of Joshua." Joshua does not do it. The Lord does it for him. The symbolism is clear. "See, I have taken away your sins, and now I am giving you these fine new clothes." The Big Cover-up. Our unrighteousness is taken and we are given His righteousness. This is righteousness by faith. The bread is the symbol of His life for ours. We are covered in Judgment. His righteousness covers our defective self- righteousness.
THE WINE - PURE GRAPE JUICE
Zechariah 3; 7 NLB "This is what the Almighty says, "If you follow my ways and obey my requirements, then you will be given authority over my Temple and its courtyards. I will let you walk in and out of my presence along with those standing here".
It is important to note that it is after Christ rebukes Satan, and after He removes the dirty clothes, and after He clothes Joshua with clean garments that He clearly commands Joshua to walk in His ways. He did not say, " keep and obey my ways, laws, and requirements and then I will remove your filthy clothes." It was after He saved Joshua. It was after He removed his sins and had forgiven him. After He had given and covered Joshua in His, Christ's righteousness that He commanded him to obey and keep His requirements. It is imperative to remember that it was not Joshua's obedience that caused his change of clothes. Joshua's obedience was the result of the change. Salvation is of the Lord not of self. We cannot obey without His covering over us. We need the Big Cover-up.
So today at this Atonement Table we need the wine - pure grape juice, "the life of Christ" to rely on, for mercy, pardon and obedience to walk with Him.
The grape juice is to remind us that Christ focuses on our acquittal not our condemnation. I t is Satan who focuses on sins, filthy garments and our weaknesses, not our Lord and Saviour.
Ellen White says the following about this Day of Atonement vision in Zechariah:
It , "applies with peculiar force to the experience of God's people in the closing up of the great day of atonement." Testimonies For The Church, p. 472
To clarify our need of cover up with His righteousness as opposed to self worked righteousness, Ellen's comments are profound;
"But while we should realize our sinful condition, we are to rely upon Christ as our righteousness, our sanctification, and our redemption. We cannot answer the charges of Satan against us. Christ alone can make an effectual plea in our behalf. He is able to silence the accuser with arguments founded not upon our merits, but on His own." Ibid pp 471-2 (Italics supplied.)
Believers have put away sin and have sought His Righteousness to cover for us in judgment. The cover is for righteousness not to conceal cherished sin. Cover signals change. It means fellowship with the God family.
So, judgment and atonement time is when God confirms our choice of our recognition of Him as our Saviour and Redeemer. This will be manifest by our works and obedient behaviour as we walk with the One who acquits us daily.
"That is why we have a great High Priest who has gone into heaven, Jesus the Son of God." Hebrews 4:14 NLB
"…Jesus who guarantees the effectiveness of this better covenant. …..Jesus remains a priest forever, his priesthood will never end. Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save completely everyone who come to God through him. He lives forever to plead with God on their behalf." Hebrews 7: 22, 24-25.
" Here is the main point: Our High Priest sat down in the place of highest honour in heaven, at God's right hand. There he ministers…." Hebrews 8:1-2
" For Christ has entered into heaven itself to appear now before God as our Advocate. …. Christ died only once as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again but not to deal with our sins again. This time he will bring salvation to all those who are eagerly waiting for him." Hebrews 9: 24, 28. The judgment is over when He comes back. It is in favour of the believers. There is no second chance.
What wonderful hope and encouragement this Day of Judgment is for believers. It is Intercession, forgiveness, pardon, acquittal, redemption and salvation. It is cover-up with His righteousness. The Holy Communion stands for all of this we have spoken today. His life for ours. His righteousness not ours.
Please remember and be encouraged, the Day of Atonement and Judgment for believers stands for : Repentance, Forgiveness Intercession Atonement. That is "Good News".
Beware, for blatant sinners, unbelievers, it is self condemnation. There is cause for being afraid. Now is the time and the day to make it right with your God. Accept His offer to be your Solicitor and Attorney because He is Judge of us all.
I am glad He is my Attorney and Judge. That is a win win situation all because of His love and my choice. The Lord's Supper - Holy Communion means all of the above.
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