April 1, 2013

It's Possible

Recently I came across an article posted on the New Scientist website which listed ten “impossibilities” that were ultimately conquered by science.1 As I read through the list, I was reminded of the verse in the Book of Daniel which says that in the end times, knowledge will be increased. We certainly live in an age when knowledge is exploding in all directions.

For many years, scientists supposed that the feats on this list were simply beyond the capabilities of man. For example, in 1934 Albert Einstein was quoted in the Pittsburg Post Gazette as saying, “There is not the slightest indication that [nuclear energy] will ever be obtainable. It would mean that the atom would have to be shattered at will. It’s not possible.” Just five years later, scientists figured out how. The first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction was initiated on December 2, 1942, and less than three years later, detonation of atomic bombs brought about the end of World War II. In 1954, the USSR became the first nation to harness nuclear energy to produce some of its power. The impossible had become possible.

Another item on the list was heavier-than-air flight. The next time you travel by plane, think of this one when you board. The list says, “The number of scientists and engineers who confidently stated that heavier-than-air flight was impossible in the run-up to the Wright Brothers’ flight is too large to count.” In 1895, Lord Kelvin, who invented the Kelvin scale used on thermometers, was among those who said that such flying machines were impossible. Eight years later the Wright Brothers took their first flight.

Consider space flight. For centuries the idea that one day a human being might be catapulted into space was thought to be simply preposterous. I understand that in order to get beyond the pull of gravity, a craft must reach escape velocity of 11.2 kilometers per second. I don’t know how aeronautical engineers developed the technologies to make such a feat possible, but Sputnik was launched in 1957, and the first manned space craft flight followed four years later.

While man’s efforts have made possible many achievements once considered impossible, the Book of Hebrews describes an impossibility that will never become possible. We read in Hebrews 10:4, “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.”

The writer of Hebrews knew his audience. He was addressing the Jewish nation, and when he said the blood of bulls and goats could never take away sins, they knew he was alluding to the sacrificial system of the Old Testament. As part of the worship ceremonies ordained for Israel, animal sacrifices to atone for sin were made on a regular basis. Verse 3 of that same chapter says, “But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year.”

That remembrance of sins still takes place today, though the sacrificial rituals are no longer practiced. The Jewish New Year occurs during September or October, depending on when the new moon appears, and at that time the Jewish people observe the Feast of Trumpets. This begins the Jewish High Holy Days, which conclude on the Day of Atonement. The Day of Atonement was, and is, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar. That day is what the writer of Hebrews was referring to: a remembrance of sins made every year.

Chapter 16 of Leviticus describes very clearly what the Children of Israel were to do on that day. The high priest was to take a bullock for a sin offering, and a ram for a burnt offering. He was to wash himself and put on holy garments, and then approach God on behalf of the people. First, he made atonement for himself. After killing the sacrificial animal, he would take a censer of burning coals from the altar and burn incense before the Lord in the Holy of Holies. Then he would take the blood of the offering and sprinkle it seven times on the Mercy Seat. When that was done, he would repeat the same ritual with another animal, for the Children of Israel. This act of atonement brought reconciliation between the people and God, but the sacrifices had to be repeated year after year. Hebrews 10:11 relates, “And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.”

Then the writer goes on to make a vital contrast. The perfect nature of Christ’s sacrificial death is highlighted by his words, “But this man [Jesus Christ], after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God.” Thank God for the atoning Blood of Jesus! What was once considered impossible—full deliverance from sin—was made possible by Jesus’ death at Calvary.

Blood is vitally important. Human blood begins flowing in the very early stages of fetal development. In fact, just twenty-two days after conception, a baby’s heart begins to beat with its own blood. I remember when my wife and I went for the first ultrasound of our oldest son, Graham. The picture was grainy and you could not make out much, but you could see a distinct heartbeat. I will never forget that picture!

Now Graham is almost five years old, and blood is of great concern to him. When he falls down and skins a knee or elbow, his first question is, “Mommy (or Daddy), is it bleeding?” Our response determines how hard he cries. It might be only a tiny speck of blood, but if he bleeds, he cries.

A bit of research about human blood reveals some interesting facts. A heart beats 35 million times a year, pumping one million barrels of blood in an average lifetime. Our blood travels 12,000 miles a day as it circulates through our bodies. There are four major blood groups: type A, B, O, and AB. Type O-negative blood is called the “universal donor” because it is compatible with any blood type.

While the attributes of human blood are amazing, the Blood of Jesus Christ is unique. Because God was His Father and He was conceived by the Holy Ghost, Jesus’ Blood was without sin. Hebrews 10:4 declared that it was impossible for the blood of bulls and of goats to take away sin, but the Blood of Jesus provides for exactly that. It makes the impossible possible! It is universally available and universally effective to cleanse sin. Every sin can be taken away by the Blood of Jesus Christ!

Jesus gave His life at Calvary when He became the Perfect Sacrifice for the sins of mankind. Through His death and shed Blood, He purchased our redemption. In 1 Peter 1:18-19, the Apostle told those in the Early Church, “Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”

Redemption is needed. The Fall of man created a horrible mess in this world—broken hearts, broken lives, broken families, broken communities, and broken nations are all the result of sin. Violence and war are occurring around the world. The continent of Africa alone has been marred by more than twenty major civil wars since 1960.2 Much of the world is currently consumed in armed conflict or struggling to maintain an uncertain peace. But Jesus offers peace which begins in the hearts of individuals—a peace that passeth all understanding.

As a child, I was taught that all of us were born with “sin spots” in our hearts. When I was around five or six years old, I remember taking a bar of soap and trying to scrub my chest. Actually, I knew soap would not take away sins, but I tried anyway. However, because Jesus shed His Blood and died for us at Calvary, our sins can be washed away. Salvation and forgiveness do not come through shaking the preacher’s hand, accepting Christ, or being baptized. We are saved when we look to Calvary and by faith accept the provision that was made there for our sins through the shed Blood and sacrificail death of Jesus! The Spirit of God witnesses with our spirits that we have been forgiven. We have peace in our hearts, and freedom from guilt and shame.

Not only can we be forgiven through Jesus’ atonement, it can also cleanse us of the carnal nature—the inward tendency toward sin that we inherited from Adam.

Not only can we be forgiven through Jesus’ atonement, it can also cleanse us of the carnal nature—the inward tendency toward sin that we inherited from Adam. We read in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, [plural, referring to sins we have committed] he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins . . .” Forgiveness occurs when we are saved, but the writer does not stop there. He continues, “. . . and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Hearts can be cleansed from the sin nature and made holy through the sanctifying power of Jesus’ Blood. Hebrews 13:12 relates, “Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.”

The Blood of Jesus does a perfect work in our lives because He was the Perfect Sacrifice. Hebrews 10:1 points out that the Mosaic Law was “a shadow of good things to come.” A shadow is simply a shape. It does not reveal much except the outline or general shape of the object. The Old Testament forms of worship gave an indistinct picture of Christ’s later and perfect Sacrifice. Jesus’ Blood provides for a perfect work in our hearts.

Today, have your sins been forgiven? Do you know what it means to have the Blood of Jesus applied to your heart? If not, you can find deliverance from sin, and power to live a life without sin from now to eternity. There truly is wonder-working power in the Blood of Jesus!



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