Tuesday, October 30, 2018

10 Hebrews 10 – Because He DID, We Therefore MUST

How amazing and precious is the truth of our salvation! Jesus by his one sacrifice accomplished what the multiplied offerings of bulls and goats never could. The Mosaic Law contained only a shadow, not the very substance of God’s things. Year by year, animal blood served only to remind – not to redeem – sinners alienated from God. Only the blood of the Lamb of God could do that.
These are lesson notes, not written in a polished or finished manuscript form.
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So Jesus did what neither the Law nor we could do. He did it completely, once for all. As we read in Heb 10:14, “For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.” What blessed assurance, to know that in Jesus we are counted as perfect and holy!
So may we go on sinning willfully? No way! Read Heb 10:26-31.
Since Jesus paid it all, some reason that all sin is unconditionally covered. They say that we recipients are under no particular obligation to pursue holiness or to live by obedient faith. They teach that, once saved by grace, followers of Jesus are relieved from the necessity of living by obedient faith. It’s not true!
Calvinists teach the perseverance (or preservation) of the saints. They say that, if God chose to save you, he will guarantee your continuation in faithful, godly, holy living. For you to fail would be for his promise to fail. These warnings cannot actually apply to people who are saved, because God by his nature cannot let them be lost. That’s not true either!
Could Not, Did, and Must
10:1-4        What the Law Could Not Do
Read also Rom 7:9-12; Rom 8:1-4.
The value of animal sacrifices: not a removal of sin, but a reminder of sin.
The repetition of those sacrifices reveals their inability to forgive sin.
The purpose of the law: not to provide salvation, but to prepare for it by showing our desperate need for it.
“… because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.” Rom 3:20
“If righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.” Gal 2:21
“For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law.” Gal 3:21
10:5-18      What Jesus Did Do
Read also Psalm 40:6-8.
Though God commanded sacrifice, animals could not ultimately satisfy His righteous requirements. Such is impossible (Heb 10:4).
Had the OT ever indicated that sacrifices, burnt offerings, and sin offerings did not please God sufficiently to provide true forgiveness? Yes, especially when such gifts were presented without genuine devotion from the heart. See Ps 50:7-15; Isa 1:10-17; Jer 6:20; Amos 5:21, 22; Mal 1:10.
In Heb 10:5ff the writer quotes the words of Ps 40:6-8 to show the failure of animal sacrifices to please God. “Sacrifice and offering You have not desired … In whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You have taken no pleasure.”
By inspiration he then interprets the text messianically. The words, first written by David after God had delivered him, are now the words of Jesus. The eternal, pre-existent Son of God had to come into the world, because the OT sacrifices could not ultimately please God.
“A body You have prepared …” He took on human form, so that he could offer his physical body back to God as the perfect sacrifice. Review Heb 2:14-18.
“I have come …” Jesus left heavenly glory for the world.
“In the scroll of the book …” As God had prescribed in the OT Law.
“To do Your will …” “Will” has a double sense here. Jesus came [1] to fulfill God’s desire or “will.” He also came [2] to establish God’s “will,” the new covenant.
Hebrews draws out the implication. He took away the first will (the old covenant or testament), replacing it with the second (the new). 10:9
In contrast to daily, repeated sacrifices, which could not remove sin …
He offered one sacrifice for sins for all time; then He sat down, where He waits for the final victory. Heb 10:12
He perfected us. 10:14
He sanctified us. 10:14
He put His laws within our hearts, so that we want to obey them and love to obey them. 10:16
He freed us from the need to offer atonement for ourselves. There is no longer any (need for) other offering. 10:17-18
10:19-25   What We Therefore Must Do
Note the “for” (or “because”) and the “therefore.”
Because (positive) …
We have confidence to enter! We have a great priest!
We have been cleansed in conscience and washed in water!
Therefore let us …
        Draw Near Sincerely and Securely
        Live with a Clear Conscience
        Hold Fast without Wavering
        Find Ways to Spur One Another On
        Assemble Faithfully
        Encourage One Another – Time is Running Out!
Heads Up!
Because (negative) …
We must draw near, hold fast, and encourage, BECAUSE –
[1] On the positive side – God graciously saves those who follow Jesus through faith (10:19-25).
[2] On the negative side – God severely judges those who reject Jesus through sin (10:26-31).
10:26-31   Look Out!
Willful sin forfeits the cross. “There no longer remains a sacrifice for sins.” 10:26
Faithful Christians walk in the light, confess their sins, and are continually cleansed and forgiven (1 John 1:5-10). Unfaithful Christians abandon the light, continue their sins, and face God’s judgment (Heb 10:26-31).
Can a Christian sin defiantly and willfully, persist in that sin, and be lost eternally? Yes of course! That is the exact teaching of this passage, regardless of those who teach “once saved, always saved” or the Calvinistic doctrine of guaranteed, no-matter-what, perseverance and preservation of the saints.
This text is not intended to threaten or destroy the blessed assurance of imperfect Christians who live by obedient faith! Rather, it powerfully warns willful, habitual, deliberate sinners of God’s eternal judgment. It calls us to heed that warning so that we do not become such.
Num 15:30-31 speaks of sinning defiantly, “with a high hand.”
Examples of life-threatening sins:
Heb 13:4 Fornicators and adulterers God will judge.
1 Cor 6:9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.
Gal 5:19-21 immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these … those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
Greater Grace, More Severe Judgment
“How much severer” than the capital punishment meted out under OT Law!
Since the blessings of the new covenant are greater than the old …
Since its sacrifice, ministry, and promise are greater than the old …
Since Jesus the Son of God is greater than Moses …
The consequences of despising and rejecting Jesus and his new covenant are far more severe!
Here is the same “how much more” a fortiori argument used in Heb 2:1-3 and Heb 12:25. Everything in the OT is magnified in the NT. Grace is greater, but so is the penalty for deliberate, willful sin.
Why? Read Heb 10:29. To reject the moral teaching of Christ is to spurn and trample the person of Christ, to disregard His blood as unclean, and to insult His Spirit of grace.
These sobering words are written in this context, not to the world, but to Christians:
Heb 10:30 For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge His people.” 31 It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
10:32-34   Look Back!
We often urge those in failing marriages to think back to the time of their honeymoon. They would make any sacrifice, overcome any obstacle, and change whatever was necessary to show their love for one another. Then challenges, arguments, and pressures came into their lives and discouraged them. Can they recreate the freshness, beauty, and excitement of that time and make a new beginning? With God’s help they can start over again and rekindle that original fire! The same principle applies to our relationship with Christ.
Remember the joy, zeal, and courage you had when you first found the Lord?
Write down the reasons for your initial spiritual fire. What about forgiveness? Christian friends? Bible study? Telling others about Jesus? Prayer?
The book of Hebrews addressed those who are losing their fervor and zest due to persecution. Can they – can we – go back a recreate the “honeymoon?”
Read Heb 10:32-34.
A confident Christian, who has “seen the light,” … Heb 6:4; 2 Cor 4:6
Can endure any conflict of sufferings, no matter how severe. 2 Cor 1:3-4
Can be “put on display” and made a spectacle. 1 Cor 4:9
Can survive insults, setbacks, and mistreatment. Acts 5:40-42
Can identify and sympathize with those persecuted or imprisoned. Heb 13:3.
Can rejoice even when his earthly possessions are seized. 1 Pet 4:13-16 How? Why?
Because he knows that none of these things affect his primary “real estate.” Note:
Heb 10:34because you know that you have for yourselves a better possession and a lasting one.
That phrase leads us from “Look Back!” to …
10:35-39   Look Ahead!
“Therefore, do not throw away your confidence!” It must be possible to do that and lose our eternal reward, or else these words could not have been written. But the more we appreciate and anticipate the value of that reward, the more determined we will be to keep our confidence and not cast it aside!
Of course we are saved by grace. Faith, confidence, endurance, and obedience claim (but do not earn) the promise. Don’t lose your claim!
Can you and I be faithful to Jesus for “a very little while,” knowing He will come again? Yes we can! We must!
Next there is a quotation from the prophet Habakkuk. Habakkuk asked in Hab 1:1-4, in 609 BC, “When will God’s judgment ever come against the wicked?” God answered in Hab 2:3-4, “Yet in a very little while … Live by faith!”
Hebrews applies that answer to the final salvation Christ will bring the faithful.
When will Jesus come? Will he delay?
The answer is the same answer that the LORD gave Habakkuk. “Yet in a very little while … Live by faith!”
We are “justified by faith” (Hab 2:3) as we live by that faith to the end.
We have two options. We could “shrink back to destruction,” or we could “have faith to the preserving of the soul.” Heb 10:39 exhorts us, “But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.”
Shall we shirk or shall we work? In the hymn, “Let Me Live Close to Thee,” J.R. Baxter, Jr. wrote, “I would work, never shirk, blessed Lord, for Thee.” Amen!
Coming up: Heb 11 will showcase “the men of old” who illustrated this very principle, living by faith. 11:10, 16, 35-40
Then Heb 12 will resume the theme of 10:35-39, urging us to “lay aside sin and finish the race!” Let’s do it!

Thursday, October 25, 2018

09 Hebrews 9 – Sanctuary and Sacrifice: Shadow and Substance

Heb 8 introduced the basic contrasts between the old covenant and the new. Now Heb 9 shows that the old tabernacle and sacrifices were just an earthly copy, image, or facsimile of the heavenly realities contained in the new. No one having seen a mere picture, of gold for example, would ever prefer that picture over the actual treasure itself. By highlighting the substance – the heavenly sanctuary and the ultimate sacrifice – the text exhorts the reader never to fall back. To do so would be to settle for less.
As we have said, Heb 9-10 will next detail the “WHAT” of the greater priesthood, revealing Jesus’ role in making atonement and appearing in heaven on our behalf. Once again the main idea is clear. Jesus is the true high priest, exalted to the Majesty’s right hand, and serving in the real tabernacle.
These are lesson notes, not written in a polished or finished manuscript form.  
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9:1-10        Shadow: the Old Sanctuary and Sacrifices
See Ex 25-30.
A tent with two sections: Holy Place, Most Holy Place
In the first (outer):
lampstand (Ex 25:31-39)
table (Ex 25:23–29)
bread of the Presence (Ex 25:30; Lev 24:5–8)
In the second (inner) (“Holy of Holies”):
golden altar of incense (Ex 30:1-10; Lev 16:12-13, 18)
ark of the covenant (Ex 25:10; 26:33; 40:3, 21)
Further description of the ark:
Covering: gold
Contents: golden urn with manna (Ex 16:33-34)
Contents: Aaron’s staff that budded (Num 17:10)
Contents: tablets of covenant (Ex 25:16; 40:20)
Above: cherubim (Ex 25:18–22), overshadowing the mercy seat (“propitiatory”) (Lev 16:2)
To go into further detail would have detracted from the main point being made.
We may have further questions, such as …
Where is the Ark?
Theories abound!
In Jer 3:12-18, the LORD faithless Israel to repent and promises then to restore his people in the land. He says in verse 16, “And when you have multiplied and been fruitful in the land, in those days, declares the Lord, they shall no more say, ‘The ark of the covenant of the Lord.’ It shall not come to mind or be remembered or missed; it shall not be made again.”
So was the ark taken by Babylon? If so, then what?
Was it taken by Pharaoh Shishak of Egypt to Tanis?  (This is the theory on which the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark is based.)
Is it now in Axum, Ethiopia, guarded?
Is it under the Temple Mount in Jerusalem?
Is it in the Mount Nebo area, or the Dead Sea area?
Scripture does not reveal a current earthly location for the ark.
However, note this in Rev 11:19:
Re 11:19 Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple. There were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail.
So the ark of his covenant, or the heavenly reality which it represented, is now in the heavenly temple that John saw in Revelation! How fitting. That truth squares perfectly with the message of Hebrews, especially chapter 9.
The Priestly Procedures
Priests go repeatedly into first section of tent.
Only the high priest, once a year, into second section.
         Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur
         Never without blood
         For himself first, then the people
         Gifts and sacrifices
Of course, those procedures were not able to accomplish what only Christ could do. They were preliminary and anticipatory of his perfect sacrifice.
Heb 9:9 … According to this arrangement, gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper, 10 but deal only with food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until the time of reformation.
Provided the average person no direct access to God.
Provided no clear conscience for the worshiper, because …
Provided only dietary, external, bodily, temporary measures. 
UNTIL … God would provide “reformation,” that is, the establishment of a new order or system.
9:11-28      Substance: the True Sanctuary and Sacrifice
High priest of the good things having come
Greater and more perfect tent
His own blood; offered himself
Ashes of heifer Num 19:1–22, esp. vss. 9, 17–19
Purify our conscience … to serve
The Day of Atonement
Compare and contrast the procedure described in Lev 16, the Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur, with its fulfillment, the day Jesus gave his life on the cross. The old is the “type” that prefigures and prepares for the corresponding “antitype” that fulfills it. Placing these specifics side by side helps us appreciate the fact that Jesus is “God’s Better Way.” Why would these first-century readers – or why would we – ever consider drifting away and settling for less?
OT Type:                                  NT Antitype:
Sinful High Priest                    Sinless High Priest
Once a Year                                   Once for All
Physical Holy of Holies            Heaven Itself
Copy, Shadow, or Image                 Reality or Substance
Sacrifice for Self                    Sacrifice of Self
Brings the Victim                    Becomes the Victim
Reminder of Sin                     Redemption of Sin
Blood of Cattle                       Blood of Christ
Cleansing the Flesh                Cleansing the Conscience
Forgiveness Impossible           Forgiveness Guaranteed
High Priest Repeats                High Priest Reigns
Veil: the Curtain                     Veil: the Christ
Priest Enters Holy Place          People Enter Holy Place
The True Sacrifice
Note Heb 9:15. Redemption from first-covenant sins; see Rom 3:25.
God forgave sins during the OT era. This is stated clearly and repeatedly.
Le 4:26 And all its fat he shall burn on the altar, like the fat of the sacrifice of peace offerings. So the priest shall make atonement for him for his sin, and he shall be forgiven.
Ps 32:5 I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.
Ps 103:12 as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
However, the price for that forgiveness was not paid during the OT era. The price was paid when Jesus went to the cross. This is the point of Heb 9:15.
We might say, using a financial analogy, that forgiveness was truly credited to those who followed God’s OT instructions at that very time, based on the fact that the payment would be made when Jesus’ blood was shed.
One more note. Many have heard that sins were “rolled forward” each year. The Bible never uses this expression, and it may leave one with the mistaken belief that no one was actually forgiven in the OT. Rather than saying that the sacrifices “rolled forward” the people’s sins, Hebrews says that in those sacrifices there was a “reminder of sins every year” (Heb 10:3).
Just as a human “last will and testament” takes effect at (not before) the death of the one who made it, so God’s “new testament” or “new covenant” could not begin until Jesus died.
Not in force until the blood is shed
New covenant was begun with Jesus’ death.
Old covenant begun also with blood: Ex 24:3-8
Ex 24:5 And [Moses] sent young men of the people of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen to the Lord. 6 And Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and half of the blood he threw against the altar. 7 Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it in the hearing of the people. And they said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.” 8 And Moses took the blood and threw it on the people and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.”
The “sprinkling” mentioned in Heb 9:21 has no reference to the mode of NT baptism, but rather to the way Moses physically applied the animal blood to inaugurate the OT covenant.
“Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.”
Note the summary of the truth emphasized in Heb 9.
Heb 9:24 For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; 25 nor was it that He would offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the holy place year by year with blood that is not his own. 26 Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.
Four Great Certainties:
Now the chapter closes by stating succinctly these rock-solid facts.
 [1]    Death
[2]     Judgment
[3]     Sacrifice: Jesus’ First Coming
[4]     Salvation: Jesus’ Second Coming