Romance, job hunting and salvation

 
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Romantic initiatives can work a lot better when you have someone credible vouching for you. I should know. Part of the reason I’m married to my wife, Jammie, is that I had the best advocate available when we were just getting to know each other.

Within a day after Jammie and I announced that we were dating, her sister Jofe called me and with a stern voice said she needed to ask me some questions about myself. I barely knew Jofe, so I’ll confess I felt a little intimidated. She started by warning me that I’d better think carefully about my answers, because she intended to share them with her whole family.

We covered my work experience, general background, plans for the future and a slew of other areas of my life. She made me sweat, but it was worth it. From that moment on, Jofe stood up for me, made me look good to the family, got me out of trouble when I committed cultural faux-pas (my in-laws are Filipino; I’m Swedish) and gave me the occasional pointer on how to avoid looking completely clueless to my future wife. Jofe was and still is, quite literally, a godsend.

In addition to being a good advocate in romantic relationships, a good mediator’s usefulness extends to all kinds of situations, and nowhere is this more apparent than in our relationship with God. There’s enormously good news about who stands as our Friend and Advocate in heaven: Jesus Himself.

 

Jesus, our Mediator

The Bible shows us that Jesus was born as a child; lived a perfect, sinless life; died to save us from our sins; and rose from the grave before going back to heaven. But that’s not where the action ends. Jesus hasn’t spent the last 2000 years lounging around eating peeled grapes while angels fan Him with palm fronds. What He’s been up to is extremely important.

Just as the Old Testament high priests ministered on behalf of the Israelites before God, so Christ has been the Mediator before God for all His people in the heavenly sanctuary. Hebrews 8:1, 2 clearly identifies Jesus as our high priest, sitting down “at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by a mere human being.” In the previous chapter, Hebrews says that Jesus became “the guarantor” (Hebrews 7:22) or “mediator of a better covenant” (Hebrews 8:6, 7). As our High Priest, Jesus represents us before God, cleanses us of sin and empowers us to live meaningful, victorious lives.

We learn from Bible prophecy that Jesus’ heavenly work on our behalf shifted into high gear as He began the final part of His atoning ministry by moving into the most holy part of the heavenly sanctuary. Daniel 8:14 describes this phase by saying that “the sanctuary will be cleansed.” Just as earthly priests cleansed the ancient Hebrew sanctuary on the day of atonement, so Christ cleanses our record of sin and gives us eternal life through the perfect sacrifice of His blood (Hebrews 9:11–28).

Daniel 7:9–14 describes a heavenly court scene where books are opened. As Christ enters the Most Holy Place in that sanctuary, He opens the heavenly records and shows the entire universe that those who have died believing in Him, together with those who remain alive and faithful to Him until His return, will all reap eternal life. This work of Christ in the Most Holy Place of the heavenly sanctuary shows the whole universe that God is just and that those who will be in heaven receive eternal life because they’ve accepted Christ’s sacrifice and remained loyal to Him. As Jesus reviews our lives, He demonstrates to all created beings that God’s decisions regarding every human being are both fair and based on grace and love.

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Dealing with sin

In doing this work, Christ is dealing with the sin problem. Before Creation, a heavenly plan was devised to rid the world of sin should it ever arise (1 Peter 1:20), and in His work in the heavenly sanctuary, Jesus is implementing that plan. And Christ’s ministry isn’t just about dealing with our past sins; in His work on our behalf, He also gives us the power to live a joyful life with Him today and in the future. We can claim God’s power over sin through Jesus’ atoning, mediating work. The Bible says that because of Christ’s sacrifice, we can approach God “boldly”(Hebrews 4:16) and “in full assurance of faith” (Hebrews 10:22).

We aren’t saved because of any credentials we possess that would qualify us for eternal life; we’re saved because when God looks at us, He sees His Son’s perfect life and sacrifice. Hebrews 4:16 makes clear that, as we come to God through Jesus, He is more than willing to give us the grace to live a strong life with Him.

Jesus understands what we’re going through, and He’s sympathetic to our need for help. He understands the trials, temptations and hardships that are ever-present in our lives. Hebrews 4:15 reminds us that “we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathise with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet He did not sin.” We can be sure that Jesus deals with us mercifully. He’s totally invested in seeing us succeed. Through His Holy Spirit, He’s in us, helping us to overcome the world (John 14:17; 2 Peter 1:3, 4).

 

Jesus, our job Counsellor

Although earthly comparisons will never capture Christ’s ministry in the heavenly sanctuary perfectly, let’s compare job hunting with what Jesus does for us.

Recent job market research reveals that up to half of the people who are hired come from referrals. Perhaps the biggest reason for this is that when job candidates are referred for a position, they basically come pre-vetted. The system doesn’t always work perfectly, but the basic idea makes sense: a trusted person with an “inside track” to the prospective employer can make good things happen for a job candidate. Especially when you’re just starting out in the world of work, a good reference can be better for your chances of landing a job than your resume. And the reason is obvious: the track record and credibility of your referee speaks on your behalf and makes up for gaps in your knowledge, training and background. He or she has become your mediator and intercessor.

Similarly, in spiritual terms, none of our efforts or achievements will make our heavenly resumes look more attractive. The only reason we’re forgiven and qualified for heaven is Christ’s sinless track record. His perfect life stands in place of ours as heaven’s record books are reviewed. Christ, as “the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2), is the ultimate “in.”

So I urge you to spend time getting acquainted with your heavenly Mediator. He understands your situation because He experienced what you’re going through. He’s here to help you and to “present you before [God’s] glorious presence without fault and with great joy” (Jude 24).