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But Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than people. The God of our forefathers raised up Jesus, whom you seized and killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him to his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses of these events, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.”
The Sanhedrin is scolding Peter and the apostles for teaching in the name of Jesus. So often, obedience to God meets resistance throughout cultural, political, and social circles. All who wish to follow Jesus are faced with this same challenge: surrender and live in obedience to God in the midst of a world that does not agree with the truth of His Word. Put on trial by the ones who crucified Christ, the apostles do not lie, they do not falter, and they stand firm in their faith. They speak the truth, and communicate clearly that their allegiance is not divided. As witnesses of the grace of Jesus Christ, having been rescued from death, we too are called to stand firm in our faith as witnesses of His unfailing love and mercy. Trust in the Spirit of God to lead you, and do not fear speaking the truth.
(My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.) But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous One, and he himself is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for our sins but also for the whole world.
The grace of Jesus Christ is sufficient, whether we are talking about the power to turn away from sin, or the power to forgive sin. Our circumstance does not change the comprehensive and complete work of the cross of Christ. He alone atoned for our sin, and the sin of the whole world. This is why He is the way, the truth, and the life: the only way to be in relationship with God. In Christ the fall of man is dealt with by grace, and not by works. If we are living victoriously, temptation can be crouching at our door. If we seem utterly defeated and ensnared by our sin, grace is poised and ready to cover us. Demonstrated through Christ, the grace of God is alive and well, and is able to restore anyone, no matter their station in life.
For I delight in faithfulness, not simply in sacrifice; I delight in acknowledging God, not simply in whole burnt offerings.
It pleases God for us to come to know Him. He sent His Son Jesus so that we could be in relationship with Him. Being in relationship with someone, means getting to know them. Through Christ, God demonstrates His love for us and just how far He is willing to go to reveal Himself to us. Basically, as the NLT translates, “I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices.” In Christ the law is fulfilled, and the act of atoning for sin by sacrificial offerings is no longer needed. The perfect sacrifice has transformed atonement and worship. Now, in the new covenant in His blood, we offer our bodies as “living sacrifices” and transform into new creations. Our worship and offering is perfected by Jesus’ righteousness and perfect work. God wants relationship, not ritual, that glorifies His name.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he gave us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, that is, into an inheritance imperishable, undefiled, and unfading. It is reserved in heaven for you, who by God’s power are protected through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
Everything we have been redeemed to be is in Christ Jesus, and is protected by our faith in Him. We do not have a hope that can be stolen away, but one that is everlasting. We are living under God’s great mercy right now. It is not only that we are changed, but even more we are made new. Our inheritance is assured, and we need not fear anything. Praise God for our hope that will be realized! Praise Him that He is faithful and worthy, to Him be all the glory and honor and praise!
Thus we must make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by following the same pattern of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any double-edged sword, piercing even to the point of dividing soul from spirit, and joints from marrow; it is able to judge the desires and thoughts of the heart. And no creature is hidden from God, but everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must render an account. Therefore since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession.
Hebrews 11 is about entering a promised Sabbath rest. We can only enter this rest by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. The word of God is so precisely able to judge the thoughts and attitudes of the heart, that our only hope is in Christ. In Christ we are made righteous, we did not earn it, nor could we ever earn that righteousness. Our minds, hearts, motives, and everything is an open book to God. This is why "holding fast to our confession" is what saves us and escorts us into His promised Sabbath rest. There is not one person that can stand before God apart from Jesus. Let His grace become real in your life and know that it is always enough.