Last Sunday's (3/30) evening sermon, preached by Marion Clark, was his last as Executive Minister of Tenth Presbyterian Church: "Our High Priest." All of us feel a mixture of emotions about Marion's departure—sadness over losing such a wise, kindly, and pastoral minister, and happiness for the possibilities that lie ahead for Marion and Ginger. I'm sure they're feeling this mixture of happiness and sadness, too.
Marion always drafts a verbatim manuscript of his sermons which we upload to the Resource Library alongside the audio and video, eliminating the necessity of a blog sermon recap. However, I was struck by the lessons Marion drew from this passage at the end of his sermon, and in particular, how intentional he was about caring for his flock—Tenth Church—even as he was saying goodbye. And so I thought I would share it here:
I selected this passage for my last sermon because it is one that I turn to time and again when members of my flock have come for counsel. Suffering and giving in to sin take a toll on us. They wear us down; they cause us to waver in our faith. Suffering leads us to wonder if God cares; sin leads us to wonder how God could care.
How many more times can we confess the same sin before God says enough? Maybe that is why we suffer? God is displeased with us. We’ve got Jesus, but how pleased can Jesus be with us? He died on the cross for us, and what do we have to show for it? We have failed him again and again. How could a true follower of Christ be such a sinner? Maybe he tried his best to save us, but our hearts are too hard. Maybe he did go to the cross with joy for what we would become, but now that he sees how little progress we have made, how could he rejoice over us?
I know. Those have been my thoughts as well. Satan accuses me of my failures, and unfortunately Satan is accurate. But here is where Satan is not accurate—when he claims that my High Priest either cannot or will not make atonement for me; when he claims that my Savior failed on the cross in regard to me, or that he no longer desires to intercede for me. It is then that I know Satan is true to who he is—a liar.
For me, for us, to fear that we will not receive mercy before God is to express not doubt in ourselves but in our Lord Jesus Christ. When I realized that, I learned to back off. However humble it may seem to say that I “hope” to be saved or that I “hope” God still approves of me, it is actually a statement of utmost arrogance. Am I prepared to say, “You did your best Jesus, but it wasn’t good enough? I am too tough of a case for you. I know you went to the cross for me, but my sins are too great for you; my hardened heart is too much for you to overcome.” I don’t have the nerve to go there. If God’s Word says that Jesus passed through the heavens and offered his own blood of the mercy seat, God’s throne; if God’s Word says that my Lord is sympathetic toward me because I am a sinner—who am I to doubt? And if God’s Word bids me to come with confidence—a confidence that is placed in Jesus to be true to his calling as High Priest—how can I disobey and not enter into the Sabbath rest of Jesus Christ?
No, with confidence I must now draw nigh. Before the throne my Surety stands. My name is written on his hands, as are yours who call upon him.
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