God the Father appointed his Son Jesus to become a high priest for us in glory. Indeed, Jesus is in glory right now — as both Man and God — on our behalf. He is arrayed in the garments of a high priest and stands before the Father interceding for us.
No doubt the Father takes great pleasure in having his Son at his right hand, but the Bible does not say Jesus ascended for the sake of his Father. Nor does it say he ascended to regain his glory. No, Scripture says Christ ascended to heaven on our behalf as a high priest. “Christ … entered … into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us” (Hebrews 9:24).
John caught a glimpse of Jesus in his ministry as our High Priest in glory. He writes that Jesus appeared in the midst of seven candlesticks, representing his church, and ministered among them wearing a particular garb: “Clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band” (Revelation 1:13).
Exodus 30 gives us a wonderful picture of the ministry of the tabernacle and the high priest. An altar made of gold stood just before the entrance to the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle. Incense was placed on the altar and burned at all times. Aaron, the high priest, took care of the lamps and wicks every morning and every night. Throughout all of Israel’s wilderness journeys, the golden altar filled the Holy Place with a cloud of sweet incense and the fragrance was constantly rising to heaven (see Exodus 30:7-8).
In the Bible, incense represents prayer and the ever-burning incense on that altar in the Holy Place represents the prayers of Jesus while he was on earth. Jesus prayed constantly — in the morning and evening, in solitude, in the mountains. John 17 is all about Jesus’ prayer for his disciples and his people who followed him and believed in him, yet he also prayed for those “who will believe in Me” (17:20). What a powerful truth—Jesus’ words include you and me. He was praying for us even when he walked this earth in the flesh.
Beloved, this prayer that Jesus prayed for us did not vanish into thin air. It has been burning on God’s altar all this time and God accepts his Son’s prayers for each of us. Our conversion, our salvation, is the result of Jesus’ prayers. Hallelujah!
“Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you” (John 16:7).
Jesus — the Messiah — healed, delivered, raised from the dead, cast out demonic spirits, walked on water, delivered from sin, and preached the truth of God like no other. He spoke with authority and deeply loved his disciples. So how could it possibly be better that he go away? The disciples could not imagine how this could be an advantage for them.
Jesus softened the blow of his announcement by assuring the disciples that the Holy Spirit would do great things for them and all mankind. “When he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged” (16:8-11).
Jesus implied that the Holy Spirit was to be a helper and would do even more than he had done while he was on earth. He would convict the world of sin, their need of a Savior, and that’s good. But he would also convict believers of righteousness. He was talking to followers of Jesus and saying that the Holy Spirit would convict them of their righteousness.
So, once you have met Jesus and he has washed you by his blood and cleansed you from all unrighteousness, he has taken you from the kingdom of darkness and delivered you into his marvelous kingdom of light. And now the role of the Holy Spirit is to convince you of who you are in Christ Jesus — to convince you of your righteousness! Hallelujah! You and I need this convincing every single day because when we fail, we might be tempted to just give up and go back.
The Holy Spirit is there to convince you not to entertain thoughts of giving up. He lovingly walks beside you to assure you that you do not belong back in that kingdom of darkness because Jesus has made you clean. He loves you and has made you righteous!
“My speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:4-5). Now Paul was anything but a weak man in the natural; in fact, he was a leader among leaders. He even once declared that concerning works of the law, he was blameless (see Philippians 3:6).
I would not want to listen to a preacher who has no personal testimony of the miraculous power of God at work in his or her life. Paul was somebody you could look at and say, “There is a power touching my heart that I know cannot come from this physical vessel. It must be from the Spirit at work inside of this one who is speaking to me. Lord, let that be my portion in the days ahead!”
As a new generation of Israelites was about to go in and possess the Promised Land which others had forfeited through their unbelief, they went with the instruction that God gave to Joshua: “See! I have given Jericho into your hand, its king, and the mighty men of valor” (Joshua 6:2). Joshua got hold of that word, obeyed it, and led the children of Israel into the land of promise.
Are you are tempted to think of all the things you are fighting to get through? Begin to think, instead, about all the things God has done. Negative voices that are not provoking you to faith will lead you to die in a spiritual wilderness. Meditate on his Word today and be confident in him!
Carter Conlon joined the pastoral staff of Times Square Church in 1994 at the invitation of the founding pastor, David Wilkerson, and was appointed Senior Pastor in 2001.
The foundational truth of Christianity is justification by faith. You will never know true rest and peace until you are convinced that your own works of righteousness can never make you right in God’s eyes. You may feel good because of the good works you do, and you will probably enjoy a moment of victory whenever you resist temptation. You feel God’s favor on you, but the next day you fall back into sin and lose your joy. Why? Because in yourself, you always fall short. And no righteousness of the flesh will ever stand before God. We are accepted by him only as we are in Christ.
“For you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). Being “in Christ” means God credits Jesus’ righteousness to us. We are accounted righteous in our Father’s eyes because of Jesus. All our sins are washed away because of his work, not ours!
Paul writes, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2). We are to break from this world completely and be conformed to Christ alone.
Beloved, Jesus didn’t die just to take you to paradise; he died so that every day you could live in beautiful, close fellowship with the Father. You can talk to him, listen to him, ask him to lead you, guide you, tell you where you’re wrong, convict you of sin — all because he abides in you by his Spirit!
Yes, Jesus died so that we can enjoy deliverance in and from this present world. This simply means:
All you need in order to walk in this marvelous freedom is a faith that yearns to know him in whom you have believed and a hunger in your heart for him!
Is it possible for righteous, godly, Spirit-filled Christians to become so low and downcast that they feel they can’t go on? To actually come to the brink of giving up? These are believers who are close to Jesus, who know his heart and mind, have done battle in prayer, and experienced his miracles.
How could it be possible that such Christians get pressed down and troubled, in despair and despondency? To some, it seems that once they gave their life to the Lord, all they got in return was suffering. No one, within the church or without, has ever understood how a loving God can allow those who have given their all to him to go through times of great trouble and despair.
Consider the man Job who famously suffered and came back to a victorious life. Or Jeremiah, the weeping prophet; also, another prophet, Elijah. They all suffered depression and feelings of defeat during their trials but God brought them back.
In the New Testament, we see Paul, the apostle. He truly was a godly, precious man who had given up the whole world that he might win Christ. He spent every breath in the cause of the Master. He had a revelation of Christ as did no other person on earth and, further, his epistles have instructed God’s people throughout the centuries.
Yet, Paul encountered turmoil and trials. When he went to Asia to preach the gospel, he received only trouble: “For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life" (2 Corinthians 1:8).
How could this happen to a man so mightily used of God? Well, our Father allows his people to go through many difficulties so that their faith may be built from it. So how do you come to victory? The secret, plain and simple, is to trust in the Holy Spirit, who abides in you. And then you pray and read the Word of God faithfully. Lay hold of your special promises and you will find that even when you are ready to give up, he remains faithful to deliver you. Hallelujah!