As a Lent course, ‘my’ bible study group worked our way through “Finding a Voice” which took parallels from the film of “The Kings Speech” with the Christian who is reticent to speak out about his or her faith in modern Britain.
The leaders of the group were asked to look at something about the death and resurrection of Jesus for the period after Easter, and we came upon a book called “Life by His Death”.. This is a re-working of the book “The Death of Death in the Death of Christ” by John Owen, who lived from 1616 to 1683. Owen was personal chaplain to Oliver Cromwell for several years, as well as pastoring three churches.
I must confess, I was brought up Presbyterian. My co-leader was brought up Methodist. So we have a group led by a Calvinist and an Arminian. And the Arminian chose this book.
The foreword by JI Packer states that the work was prepared to show “..that the doctrine of universal redemption is unscriptural and destructive of the Gospel.”
So far it has been interesting, in part because it has reminded me of some things I had long forgotten, or had misunderstood.
We are mostly all aware that Jesus had three roles, as Prophet, Priest and King. As prophet, He showed men what the Father actually wanted, obedience, love and justice rather than sacrifice. As priest, He interceded with the Father and made a sacrifice as a permanent sin offering, and as king, He requires that men do His perfect will.
What I had forgotten was how the two priestly roles are so intertwined. Jesus the man was perfect. He never sinned. So He was the only one who was able to come into the presence of the Father on our behalf. He is still at the right hand of the Father (Romans 8:34) intereceding for us. As I said, Jesus is the perfect priest. His prayer is heard by the Father, and just as he said that he was and is one with the Father, we can be sure that His prayer is in the Father’s perfect will. This priestly role of intercession continues to this day. It was His sacrifice that was once for all upon the cross. But the ‘all’ is not every single person on this Earth. It is those for whom He prayed in John 17, those whom the Father has given Him.
Let us remember this fact when we are tempted to give up our faith and conform to the ways of the world. In the short term it is easy to live that way, but in the long term we know that it leads to eternal separation from our destiny, to know God and to praise Him for ever.