Arriving at Our Destination
Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Hebrews 7:25-26
My wife’s sister and her husband moved to a small town in Kansas this past summer. The seven hours between us and the fact I work every weekend means our trip to visit them for Thanksgiving was our first time visiting their new home. Roughly two-thirds of the trip I could navigate from memory. Most of it is the path I have taken to visit my in-laws for the past 23 years. Despite my familiarity with much of the route, I fired up the GPS app on my phone as soon as we got into the car after the Thanksgiving church service.
I enjoy what the GPS app offers. Even when I know where I am going it provides useful information for me. A small speed limit sign informs me of how fast I can drive in that specific location. It provides a very accurate arrival time to give me a good answer when my children ask “How much longer?”. It can also route me around busy traffic if I am driving in a congested area.
All of these are great features but a GPS app has one feature central to its existence. It has to get me to my destination.
After seven hours in the car this past Thanksgiving, the GPS app failed to do that for me. We arrived in the small Kansas town our family lives in and the app informed us we were at our destination. It was on our left but the only thing on our left was a street to turn down. Like many small, rural town streets this street was not well lit. At all. While the light level of the street was above normal because of the Christmas lights that were put up early, it was still very dark. We had trouble seeing house numbers, but we discovered the street name did not match with the street address my sister-in-law had given me.
We changed course and returned to the correct street. Appropriate to the day on which we were travelling, we were thankful we had seen pictures of the home we were looking for. Through the darkness we could identify not only the home we were looking for, but also the vehicles matching the ones our family owned. The generality of the directions provided to us by the GPS was good enough to get us close but we needed specificity to get to our destination.
The seven-hour return trip home offered me the opportunity to think about what we had experienced. This caused me to reflect on the truth of who God is. We often hear people talking about God and often the description of who God is gets us close to who he is. There is an understanding of God’s nature and we see he is a good and loving God. There is also often a good understanding of God’s law and what he requires of us. These are all good things but many times these descriptions of God do not get us to our destination. They do not get us to Jesus Christ and his saving work through his perfect life, death, resurrection, and ascension on our behalf. Talk about God, if it does not lead us to the saving work of Christ, does not get us where we need to be.
This distinction is important because it is how we are saved. Salvation is delivered to us by grace alone through faith alone on account of Christ alone. It is the work of Jesus for us that informs us of God’s nature. Can we understand the law of God without the cross? It is there where we see just how serious God is about his law. Breaking it requires a price be paid. At the cross we see this price is paid for us by the wrath of God being poured out on someone who did not violate the law. Jesus did this for you.
We also truly understand the love of God at the cross. The price paid for our sin at the cross was not merely done to satisfy the anger and wrath of God. It was also to show his love for his people. We trust in this good news and we are saved. It is a sure and certain promise. We are brought to faith through our hearing of the gospel by the power of God the Holy Spirit. This faith is our destination, and it is this gospel of Jesus Christ directing us to exactly where we need to be.
The Word of God is not vague like the directions I received from my GPS app on the evening of Thanksgiving. When it speaks about who God is it does not lead you down darkly lit streets wondering which place is the correct one. All of scripture points to salvation through Jesus Christ and this is why we are faithful to proclaim Christ and him crucified. It leads us to the God who is. The God who reveals himself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit does not lead us to a vague destination. His Word leads us to himself.
Pastor Mark Groen