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    Understanding Justification

    Brethren and sisters, I welcome you back to the second day of our Passover Feast, in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, our Saviour.

    Today is the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Without this feast the Passover would not be complete. As you will recall from yesterday, the Feast of Paschal Lamb represented justification, which we sometimes call (not always appropriately) "salvation". What do we mean by "justification"? To be justified means to be "made right". When we accept Jesus Christ then we are made right with God on a legal basis. In other words, from God's point-of-view we are clean -- not because of anything that we have done but because of what Jesus Christ has done in our behalf. This is an act of mercy on God's part. This is not, however, the end. The fact that we are "made right" with God does not mean that we are fully saved. We may be declared righteous by God but the fact that we continue to sin -- and I hope no-one here will deny that -- means that we are not yet fully cleansed. Justitication is a legal declaration made by God, and I stress the word legal here.

    Let me try to illustrate this point with an analogy. Let's say that my son breaks a window in my neighbour's house in a fit of bad temper. He apologies to me and says he's sorry. I forgive him and pay the neighbour for the damaged window. However, the problem of my son's bad temper remains. My neighbour is happy because of the restitution I make for his damaged property. He is no longer angry with my son. My neighbour is a type of God the Father here, I am a type of Christ, and my son is a type of a sinner. The problem of damaged property is resolved as far as the neighbour is concerned but not the question of my son's bad temper. That is something that must we worked with.

    The Two Salvations

    So it is with us. Having been "saved", as we say in the Christian world, is not the end. The fact that we are declared righteous by God does not make us literally righteous, but only in a legal sense. My neighbour declares my son not to be responsible for the broken window any longer because I have paid for it, so their friendship is restored. Similarly our friendship with God is restored through our accepting the atoning work of Christ in faith.

    So what is the next step? The Bible calls is sanctication, which is the process by which we are made holy. Unlike justification, which may be said to be a single event, sanctification usually takes a long time. Just as my neighbour is satisfied with the payment of the broken window and my apology, so God is satisfied with the payment of Jesus' blood for our sins.

    The Meaning of Unleavened Bread

    This truth is no more beautifully taught than in the Festival of Unleavened Bread which I shall now explain to you. Unleavened bread was made of fine wheat flour and baken into thin wafers with no leaven. It represents the pure sinless humanity of Christ. The Israelites were to eat this bread with the roast lamb during the seven days of the Passover Celebration.

    Now why were the Israelites commanded to eat bread without yeast? Yeast is used in two different symbolic ways in the New Testament, one positive, and one negative. The positive way is that of the yeast representing the Kingdom of Heaven. In a well-known parable, Jesus says that the Kingdom is like a little yeast in the dough that leavens the whole bread. That dough is us -- our spirits -- which become transformed by the yeast. This is a vivid picture of sanctification.

    But yeast is also used in a negative way. Just as there is good yeast (the Light of Christ) so there is bad yeast (the hypocricy of men). In the Feast of Unleavened Bread it is the yeast of hypocricy that we are to get rid of entirely.

    Feeding upon the truth of justification, represented by the roast lamb, is necessary but it must never be separated from sanctification. There must be the purging of leaven with the sprinkling of blood and feasting on the roast lamb.

    The Cleansing Process

    The Israelites were commanded by the Lord to search every crack in the floor, every closet, and every cupboard for bread crumbs and traces of leaven. The house was to be searched and cleansed thoroughly. Why was the Lord so particular about this? Why do you find Hebrew families on their bended knees searching every part of their homes? It may look a little comical but I assure you there was nothing funny about it at all. Who can say that sin, which destroys the soul, is funny? The commandment is to teach us that the slightest sin is enough to corrupt out spirits. We ought, therefore, to go on our hands and knees and thoroghly cleanse out our souls.

    According to Jesus the leaven of the Pharisees was the hypocricy. Their self-righteousness, holiness, flowery words and their looking down their noses at the poor repentent man on the street were all hypocricy.

    There is far too much leaven in our houses and churches, even in so-called "Spirit-filled" churches. How often have we heard condemnation from the pulpit and pews of other Christians who "do not have the Spirit as do."

    The Psalmist says: "Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit there is no deceit" (Ps.32:2, NIV).

    My brethren and sisters, the sanctfying influence of Christ through the Holy Spirit cannot take place in our lives if we are deceitful or hypocritical. The yeast of deceit and hypocrisy has to go. It is no good saying: "I have accepted Jesus as My Saviour! I am going to Heaven!" That's no good at all. That's like a new-born baby decalring that it is going to get a well-paid job before it's grown up, gone to school and received a higher education. Justification is only the beginning. Remember, remember, that the only time the Israelites ate roast lamb was on the day BEFORE they traveled. Remember they were told to eat is all and not leave any over for the next day. So what were they to eat on their journey?

    They ate unleavened bread -- the bread of purity and holiness. For days afterwards they carried unleavened bread as left Egypt behind. Remember also that they didn't leave Egypt in one day. They had a long journey to the Red Sea and through Sinai, all of which was Egyptian territory. Not until the end of the 40 year wandering did they leave Egyptian territory. Yes, in a way they left Egypt in "one day" when they crossed the Red Sea because there was no way back. But they would have been very foolish if they had said: "We've crossed the Red Sea. We've left Egypt. We're in the Holy Land!" They weren't.

    The Ticket to Heaven

    The Christian does not have an automatic ticket to heaven the moment he accepts Christ as his Saviour. Terrible dangers still face him. He may have crossed the Red Sea making his return to Egypt more difficult that going to the Holy Land but he is still in Egypt. There are far too many Christians who continue to eat unleavened bread yet continue to dwell in Egyptian territory even though they claim to have the blood applied and have feasted on the roast Lamb. BEWARE! They say they have eternal security whilst dying out in the desert. They don't. This is a terribly dangerous doctrine. And this is the lesson we are to learn from the feast of Unleavened Bread which the Israelites were commanded to eat for 7 days on the march. If our lives are not characterised by a walk in the holiness of Christ then we are marching back to Egypt. There must be a burning period in the desert while the dross is burned out of us -- all the deceit and hypocricy.

    Many Heavens

    Brethren and sisters, it is not enough just to eat the roast lamb once -- to accept Jesus as your Saviour. You have to continue eating the unleavened bread of purity which leads to sanctification. Heaven is not a single place. There are "many rooms" in our Heavenly Father's House, many degrees of glory. Common sense alone should tell us that the Christian who thinks he is automatically in the "throne room of God" simply because he has accepted Christ as Saviour is simply contradicted by human behaviour. Sanctification is a long, sometimes painful, journey. Jesus said that we have to walk a Way -- a path. It is a straight, narrow path. The Festival of Unleavened Bread is to remind us that we cannot eat the pure Bread of Life, which is Jesus, until we have cleared out all lies, hypocricy and deceit from our lives.

    Yesterday I gave instructions at the end of our last meeting that everyone should clean out their houses of every crumb of bread, and said that you were not to eat leavened bread. How did that go? [] If you have as many crumbs on the floor as we do in our home I expect it was an enormous task, especially when you remember that not one crumb is supposed to remain in the house! That, brethren and sisters, is how serious sin is in God's eyes -- so serious, that not one sin is permissible in our bodily temples.

    Having accepted Jesus as our Saviour, we have a big task ahead of us -- sanctification. Praise God, though, that we don't have to do it in our own strength. We couldn't anyway. The unleavened bread represents Christ whose blood is still available to us to cleanse us of confessed and repented sins, not in a legal sense, but literally. This is the message of the Unleavened Bread: Jesus changes us, sometimes quickly, sometimes gradually, until we have reached perfection. It is as this juncture that the Church plays its vital rôle in teaching the Law of Christ through its apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers and deacons.

    Communal Salvation

    We saw yesterday that eating the Paschal Lamb is an intensely communal affair. There is, as I have been preaching from this pulpit since I came to Norway, no such thing as a solo Christian, no more than there is such a thing as a solo football player. Whilst certain things we can only do alone -- like receiving Christ as our personal Saviour, repenting of sins, and so on, many times we cannot manage these things alone. The prayers of the faithful, their moral and practical support, are all vital in growing in grace. Indeed, I believe it is true to say, that sanctification is a matter of the whole Body since it involves our inter-personal relationships.

    Two Cups of Wine

    In a short while we shall partake of the Lord's Supper though using unleavened bread instead of ordinary leavened bread. Though wine was not apparently drunk by the Israelites when they left Egypt, the inclusion of wine in the Passover Feast was a well established tradition by Jesus' time. Two different cups of wine are spoken of in the New Testament: one that was shared before the Passover meal and one after the supper (Lk.22:17,20). And that is the pattern we shall be following. As yesterday, this feast is for all the family members of the Covenant and this year, because the Church is for the moment disorganised, also for those who profess Christ and are seeking to obey Him in all things. Therefore any Christian guests are welcome to eat with us.

    The Thirty-Third Day

    Today is not only the Festival of Unleavened Bread but also a special day for us to. It is the 33rd day of the third month of March, or in other words, the number 333. Those of you who are not of this New Covenant Church will probably not know what we mean by 333. This is a prophetic number given to us some years ago that is related both to time and events that have been taking place around us.

    Tomorrow is 3 April and is the Festival of Firstfruits, of individual Christians, of the Church and, even more importantly, of the Dead to Resurrection and Everlasting Life. Just as Bread without the leaven is dead, so too are we symbolically dead, since we have also crucified the carnal nature which has up until now leavened us. Tomorrow we return the yeast to the bread -- not the yeast if hypocricy and deceit, but the yeast of the Light of Christ. Therefore we shall partake of the Lord's Supper using leavened bread, as we normally do.

    Our great desire as New Covenant Christians, particularly over this last year, is that the Lord would give spiritual rebirth to His people and Church. We desire to set aside all that is wrong in our lives and come before Him as new creatures. We have also come to listen to His living Word -- to His revelation to this people. We desire that He shall talk to all of us and confirm the way we shall now go.

    I invite you all now to quietly enter into the spirit of prayer and petition as we gather around the table of the Festival of Unleavened Bread. The cup will first be passed around to each person. Then the unleavened bread will be broken and passed round. Finally, the cup will be passed round again. After this has been done you are invited to share with the people assembled what the Lord puts into your heart, to share any prophetic words, to pray, to bear witness, as the Spirit leads.

    May these still moments be moments of peace as we yield our carnal selves in death to the Lord and wait in anticipation for His leading.

    This page was created on 12 May 1998
    Last updated on 12 May 1998

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