Sunday, November 25, 2012

Hebrews 10:26-31 – Apostasy? Me?

Hebrews 10:26-31 – Apostasy? Me?
By Pastor Lee Hemen
November 25, 20112 AM

Sometimes the anticipation of something can be far more than the reality. You know what I mean, as children we may have anticipated Christmas, the presents, and then when the actual day arrives, it is not quite what we thought it might be. For the believer however, our anticipation of heaven and eternity does not come close to the reality. Paul wrote, “However, as it is written: ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him’” How do we know this to be true, Paul continues by telling us that “God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.”(1 Corinthians 2:9-10 NIV) I bring this up in order to say that some of us have a convoluted view of eternity.

There are those who think that heaven is some kind of ethereal place and hell is only what you make of it, neither is true. Heaven is being in the presence of God, hell is not, and both are a reality. Not believing in them is dangerous. This is why the author of Hebrews begins to relate to his audience that if they persist in going back to their old way of the Law, they are in danger of apostasy. Renouncing what they had once believed in and trusted. We reap what we sow in life and there are consequences for our actions. Let’s find out what Hebrews teaches us about apostasy…

READ: Hebrews 10:26-31

It is one thing to disbelieve in something that is truly mythical, like fairies, trolls, goblins or gods who live in the clouds on top of a mountain. However, when you are given historical facts, eyewitness evidence, and the testimony of billions of changed lives then either you are blinded by your own prejudice or simply foolish. Then there are those who know and understand the gospel message, yet disregard both its warning and blessing. For those folks, the author of Hebrews writes that…

I. Unbelief results in judgment! (Vv. 26-27)

“If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.”

  1. Spiritual defection carries consequences! We reap what we sow! What we have to understand here is that the writer was concerned for those who said they knew God, knew about Jesus, but their actions proved otherwise. He writes, “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left.” The Old Law was worthless and now they have turned their backs on Christ! What was left for them? The answer is “nothing”, in fact, “only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God!” One plays a very dangerous game when they vociferously profess their faith, but their lifestyle proves otherwise. The author was not saying those who are truly saved could lose their salvation, rather, he was speaking to those who claim faith but did not truly believe what they said. Jesus emphatically taught, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.” (John 10:27-28 NIV) But these folks were false disciples. Peter would say that they “are springs without water and mists driven by a storm!” In fact, he would continue by writing, “If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them.” (2 Peter 2:20-21 NIV) Wow! Jude, Jesus’ other brother, writes, “They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever” and that they “do not have the Spirit.” (Jude 1:13, 19 NIV) Hebrews says they are “enemies of god” and only “judgment” and a “raging fire” await them! Unbelief results in judgment!

  EXAMPLE: My sister had an old hound dog named “Dilbert.” She named him long before the cartoon ever was drawn. He was the stupidest and friendliest animal I have ever seen. He never met a person he did not like to lick or make his buddy immediately. He would have held the door for burglars and greeted strangers with a wag of his tail. Then, he would have gone off somewhere to sleep. Far too many in our day and age give their allegiance away way too easily, just like Dilbert did. Sadly, Dilbert knew who fed him, gave him shelter, and took care of his every need but he did not care. There are those who understand who Jesus is, what he did, and his gospel message yet refuse to give him their faithfulness. All too soon, they will find out that their unbelief results in judgment.

There are folks on the web who spend worthless hours and miniscule intellects going from site to site trying to get others stirred up. They leave outrageous or offensive remarks, then sit back, and watch the online pandemonium that results, they are descriptively called, “Trolls.” They troll the internet looking for whom they can devour with their hit and run tactics. We can insult others, but when we know the truth that God has given us and then we deliberately turn away and try to drag others with us, we may discover that…

II. Insulting God results in judgment! (Vv. 28-29)

“Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?”

  1. You will be judged for your continued insults! Under the Old Covenant, if an Israelite spurned the Mosaic Law and at least two or three witnesses verified his actions, he was put to death. “Anyone who rejected the Law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.” Now, we have the witnesses of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit! Understand that we now enjoy the complete “mercy” of God, his total grace found in Jesus! Also, understand that all sin ultimately leads to death, “For the wages of sin is death!” (Romans 6:23 NIV) John would remind us that, “There is a sin that leads to death.” (1 John 5:16 NIV) What is this “sin”? Is Hebrews referring to this? It is possible, however, if one knew that the Old Law was no longer worthwhile because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, what was left for them now? “How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?” Jesus taught, “Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.” (Matthew 12:32 NIV) Again, I believe the idea here may be for those who say they profess Christ, but their actions say something else. Jesus was speaking about disdaining the Holy Spirit’s witness concerning the Gospel, rejecting salvation through faith in him alone. The author of Hebrews is not necessarily thinking about hell here, but rather the author’s whole point lies in the seriousness of the act. To treat “the blood of the covenant” (which actually makes believers holy) as though it were an “unholy” (koinon, “common”) thing and then to renounce its worth with one’s words or deeds, is to commit a sin so dreadful as to dwarf the fatal violations under the Old Covenant. Be very careful then how you treat God’s grace in your life and his love for you in Jesus. You will be judged for your insulting lifestyle and you will not like the outcome. Insulting God results in judgment!

  EXAMPLE: Have you ever been insulted? We can survive being hurt of offended, but when we insult God’s grace that is a whole different story. God is not some old guy with a pinstriped suit, horned-rimmed glasses, and a cigar. Nor does he wink at our sin and ungodly lifestyles. Psalm 94 reminds us, “Take heed, you senseless ones among the people; you fools, when will you become wise? Does he who implanted the ear not hear? Does he who formed the eye not see? Does he who disciplines nations not punish? Does he who teaches man lack knowledge? The LORD knows the thoughts of man; he knows that they are futile.” (Psalms 94:8-11 NIV) This is why Paul would remind us, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” (Galatians 6:7-8 NIV) Insulting God results in judgment!

When Jesus related, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” (Matthew 7:1 NIV) he was not saying that we can never be judgmental of someone else’s ungodly actions. Rather, his point was that a person should not be habitually critical of a mere sawdust speck in someone else’s eye when he has a plank sticking out of his own eye! God, however, does judge us. In fact, we learn that…

III. It is a horrible thing to be judged by God! (Vv. 30-31)

“For we know him who said, ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ and again, ‘The Lord will judge his people.’ It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

  1. God never makes idle threats! Folks have a tendency to think of God in the same way they view how they would make decisions. When we do, we make some very serious errors. God is totally holy and does not make mistakes, we are not holy and we often make mistakes in our thinking and our lives. Hebrews bluntly reminds us of the biblical fact, “For we know him who said, ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ and again, ‘The Lord will judge his people.’” God reserves the right to himself for final judgment. Paul wrote, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:10 NIV) Jude, again, would relate that Jesus would come “to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” (Jude 1:15 NIV) Jesus promised, “But I tell you that men will have to give account on the Day of Judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:36-37 NIV) Paul understood this concept of words meaning what you say. He wrote, “For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” (Romans 10:10 NIV) The author of Hebrews wanted his readers to understand completely that “It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” It is indeed a horrible thing to be judged by God!

  EXAMPLE: We can fool ourselves, we can fool others, but we can never ever fool God. One of the most startling statements Jesus ever made was when he bluntly told his listeners, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Matthew 7:21-23 NIV) The will of Jesus’ Father was that we would come to Jesus as Savior and Lord! Jesus cannot recognize anyone who is just “nice” and does religious things; he only recognizes those who profess faith in him! It will be a horrible thing to be judged by God!

Conclusion:
We learned today that our unbelief results in judgment, that insulting God results in judgment, and it is indeed a horrible thing to be judged by God!
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Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Pastor Lee Hemen has been the outspoken pastor of the same church for 27 years in Vancouver, WA. He writes regularly on spirituality and conservative causes and maintains several web blogs. This article is copyrighted © 2012 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Hebrews 10:19-25 – The “Lettuce” Sayings!

Hebrews 10:19-25 – The “Lettuce” Sayings!
By Pastor Lee Hemen
November 18, 2012 AM

Integrity is truly an interesting word. It speaks to our core principles, of our steadfastness to hold to high moral standards in spite of the rest of the world. It is our completeness or our undivided attention to what we actually believe and adhere too. And finally, it is found in what makes us whole as a person. Someone of integrity can be counted on, is seen as one who is not only dependable but also upright, and someone who is not ashamed of their actions anywhere with anyone. Integrity should be the hallmark of a Christian’s life.

Do you think many of us might be surprised to know how others view our integrity in the Lord? Perhaps we might also be ashamed at how God sees our lives as well. The author of Hebrews was writing to a group of folks who held themselves in high spiritual and moral regard. But as my Dad would say, “Their salad was just shy a few tomatoes.” Meaning, they were not doing what they said they believed. If a person says they believe in Jesus, and what he has done, then they will live accordingly. It all comes down to what you make your life’s salad out of and so our author gives us his “lettuce” sayings. Let us discover what they are today...

READ: Hebrews 10:19-25

What you make your life out of matters. Notice, I did not say what you make out of life matters. What ingredients you put into your life is what the final product will be. Garbage in, garbage out or Godliness in, godliness out, it all depends on the ingredients we use in life. Hebrews relates that if we have been completely forgiven of our “lawless acts” we should live godly lives…

I. Because, we have all the ingredients we need! (Vv. 19-21)

  1. Notice that the ingredients we have are already purchased for us!
    1) “We have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus!” Integrity is found in lives that are invested in something other than themselves. John would emphatically state, “If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” (1 John 1:6-7 NIV) The blood of Jesus gives us the confidence we need to live a life of integrity! His blood has cleansed us so we can have confidence before God!
    2) We have “a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body!” Jesus would declare, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6 NIV) In fact, we know that “At that moment” of Jesus’ sacrifice for us, “the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split.” (Matthew 27:51 NIV) No one else and no other philosophy of life have done or will do for us what Jesus did! He is the “new and living way” and we dare not go back to our old and dead way of our lives!
    3) “We have a great priest over the house of God!” Remember, Hebrews has already promised us, “We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven!” (8:1) Notice, however, he says Christians are “the house of God.” Jesus refers to Christians as his “church” (Matthew 18:17) and Paul would relate, “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” (1 Corinthians 12:27 NIV) The word for “church” is ek-klay-see'-ah and means the “called out” or the “assembly” for a specific purpose. In fact, we as members of Jesus’ body we are the ingredients ourselves of Jesus’ body doing his will in the world! (1 Corinthians 12:28) We are the church, the called out to do a specific task for Christ! As such, we have all the ingredients we need!

  EXAMPLE: Have you ever realized that Christians are called by God, to a calling of God, to serve in his called out body of Christ? If not, why not? There is no greater thing to be called to than the body of believers to serve the Living Lord. This is why Peter would write, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9 NIV) We have confidence to come to the throne of God because of the new and living way since we are part of the house of God! He has provided all the ingredients we need in life!

Why is it that even though we may have the best ingredients available to us in life as believers, we sometimes do not use them, as we should? Perhaps it is because we know deep down inside that we do not live as we should for the One who has given us everything. The author here begins to share with his audience that they could bring together the ingredients of God and then live for him. It is all about putting together life’s proper salad, so-to-speak, and so he says…

II. Let us! (Vv. 22-25)

  1. Notice what we should do with the ingredients we have!
    1) “Let us draw near to God!” Perhaps he was remembering what God had told the prophet Isaiah so long ago, “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.” (Isaiah 29:13 NIV) James, Jesus’ brother was a little more blunt when he wrote, “Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” (James 4:8 NIV) We can confidently “draw near to God” when we have “a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.” When we are right with God, we can draw near to him, and Jesus makes us right with him! Therefore…
    2) “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess!” If we truly have placed our trust in Jesus, we know for a fact that “he who promised is faithful!” If have trusted Christ, we can trust God! Remember, Hebrews has already told us “Christ is faithful as a son over God's house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast” (3:6), we have to hold on “unswervingly to the hope” we say we possess! James, again, writes that Christians “must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind!” (James 1:6 NIV) Paul writes, “The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.” (1 Thessalonians 5:24 NIV) We can “hold unswervingly to the hope we profess”!
    3) “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds!” The idea here is to literally keep an eye on each other and to get in one another’s face, if need be, to provoke each other to live for the Lord, just as a parent does with their children. I am reminded of Paul when he wrote the rebellious Corinthian church these “tender” words of encouragement, “Some of you have become arrogant, as if I were not coming to you… What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a whip, or in love and with a gentle spirit?” (1 Corinthians 4:18, 21 NIV) I guess he was “spurring” them on a bit. John would write, “Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” (1 John 3:18 NIV) It is easy for us to say we love fellow believers; it is far tougher to display our “love and good deeds” with our time, talent, or treasure!
    4) And finally, “Let us not give up meeting together!” Here is where the rubber meets the road so-to-speak. Why do I say that? Well, we can help folks to massage our guilt, we can even say we love the Lord without actually doing anything, but it is far harder to show up week after week to worship, serve, give, and face your fellow believers, eye-to-eye. We forget that we are called to meet together. That a special fellowship happens when we do come together: “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18:20 NIV) The body of Christ is only the actual body of Christ when it meets together in fellowship and service. The church is not some ethereal mystical amoeba that exists somewhere out there, that anyone can say they are a part of without consequence. Christians are to make the effort to meet together as Jesus’ body in order to “encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching!” Each day brings us closer and closer to the coming of the Lord. And each day brings us closer and closer to our own face-to-face meeting with God. What will you say to Jesus, who died for you and established his church for you to be an active part of, when in fact you are not “meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing”? What is your habitual behavior? It is one of the major ingredients of a believer’s life.

  EXAMPLE: I was making pancakes the other day and Andrew, my grandson, came up and asked, in his three-year-old vernacular, “Whatcha doing Papa?” I told him I was making our pancakes for breakfast. He then began to ask about each thing I added to the mixing bowl. I told him that each ingredient was important in order to have good pancakes. Later, after he had eaten his fill, Andrew remarked, “Papa make good pancakes!” We as believers have the best ingredients to live our lives for God. We are to draw near to God, hold unswervingly to our faith, spur one another on to love and good deeds, and to “not give up meeting together” as the body of Christ. You know what; our “Papa” in heaven has given us every ingredient we need as well. Let’s use the ones he has given us!

Conclusion:
Because, we have all the ingredients we need, let us do what God has called us to do!
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Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Pastor Lee Hemen has been the outspoken pastor of the same church for 27 years in Vancouver, WA. He writes regularly on spirituality and conservative causes and maintains several web blogs. This article is copyrighted © 2012 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Hebrews 10:11-18 - What the sacrifice has done!

Hebrews 10:11-18 - What the sacrifice has done!
By Pastor Lee Hemen
November 11, 2012 AM

Up to ten Libyans were killed as well as Glen Doherty, a former Navy SEAL, who was one of the four Americans who died thinking that help was coming after defending their position for several hours. They were eventually overrun and slaughtered and the ambassador taken and killed. All of this occurred while the President and his Administration knew it was going to happen because they had been forewarned. The defenders reflected self-sacrifice, loyalty, and honor. What do you ascribe to the actions of those who could have done something but did nothing? They later claimed it was due to a protest of a video, when they knew it was actuality a planned terror attack by Ansar al-Shariah, an established offshoot of al-Qaeda, watched it live, and then told those who wanted to help to “stand down”. What would anyone call that? Certainly not, “sacrifice.”

What would call the actions of someone who knew the outcome of his actions and yet went ahead and stayed the course in order to benefit those who did not care, would not care, or who did not know? Jesus willingly went to the cross as our ultimate sacrifice. The author of Hebrews describes for us the perfect nature of the sacrifice of Jesus by contrasting him with the old order sacrifices. We learned before that Jesus’ sacrifice was so perfect that it was “Once for all.” Now we begin to learn just what the sacrifice has done.

READ: Hebrews 10:11-18


God had told Moses long ago, “Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” (Exodus 19:5-6 NIV) However, because of the Israelite’s sin, this would not fully occur until the sacrifice of Jesus when his followers would become “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God.” (1 Peter 2:9) Jesus would be…

I. The sacrifice sanctifies! (Vv. 11-14)


  1. The writer teaches his audience some truths concerning the differences between the earthly priests and God’s holy priest, Jesus. He relates that “Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices”! And in fact no matter how many times the priest stood and did the same sacrifice repeatedly, it “can never take away sins”! However, “when this priest (Jesus) had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.” Jesus did not have to stand and then offer himself repeatedly, as his earthly counterparts had to do! How marvelous to learn that one can depend upon the work of Jesus “once for all”! Interestingly, the writer then ominously makes reference to the fact that “Since that time” of his sacrifice, Jesus “waits for his enemies to be made his footstool.” Least they forget, and thereby us as well, those who do not trust in Jesus’ sacrifice remain God’s enemies! (More about that in a moment.) Notice that Hebrews is referring back to the prophetic writing of David in Psalm 110. Paul would say that our ultimate “enemy” death would be subject to Jesus: “For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” (1 Corinthians 15:25-26 NIV) In fact, we know that “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.” We are dying daily because we are in sin and we know it to be true because God tells us through his law, “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:56-57 NIV) Hebrews knew that “by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy”, those who are sanctified! Jesus told his disciples, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” (Matthew 28:18 NIV) He also said, “Because I live, you also will live.” (John 14:19 NIV) “And by that will,” referring back to what we learned before, “we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (Hebrews 10:10 NIV) The sacrifice sanctifies!

  EXAMPLE: Brother Percy Manuel, a friend and pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Portland, Oregon for many years, once told me something I have passed on to others concerning our faith in Christ. He related that when someone comes to Christ, “Their ‘wanter’ is changed.” What they used to do, they no longer want to do and they now want to live for the Lord. He knew that those who truly come to Christ want to live holy lives for him. Those who were trying to fake it would not. Percy continued by relating, “Lee, in the 50 plus years I have pastored, I have never met a brother that deliberately lives in sin. I have learned those who do are liars.” You know what, he was correct. This is why John wrote, “If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:6-8 NIV) I am so glad that the sacrifice sanctifies us completely!

One of the most profound spiritual truths I learned as a new Christian was that no matter how I feel, God forgives me. My salvation is not dependent upon my emotions, but upon the work of Christ. Either the sacrifice of Jesus covers us completely or it does not. Praise God that it most profoundly does cover us completely! The author of Hebrews was having a tough time convincing his listeners that Jesus did what the priests could never do. He tells them that…

II. The sacrifice is sufficient! (Vv. 15-18)

  1. Jesus told his disciples that the Holy Spirit would come and “he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment.” (John 16:8 NIV) In fact, “when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth.” (John 16:13 NIV) This is why the author of Hebrews would tell his listeners, “The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this.” The Holy Spirit testifies to the fact that “by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy!” (v. 14) Jeremiah, through the Spirit, prophesied, “‘This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,’ declares the LORD. ‘I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.’” (Jeremiah 31:33 NIV) Hebrews reminds them, “This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.” But more importantly, “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more!” In fact, Jeremiah states that God would “forgive” completely our “wickedness.” The sacrifice of Jesus ended our enmity, our hostility, with God because of our wickedness, our sin. Yet, notice that because of the sufficiency of Jesus’ sacrifice, we are completely and utterly forgiven! Paul would teach that we are “to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.” (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 NIV) God, through the prophet Isaiah, reminds us, “Come now, let us reason together… Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” (Isaiah 1:18 NIV) Hebrews continues by saying, “And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin!” The reason is simple: the sacrifice is sufficient!

  EXAMPLE: Many believe that the wrath of God was revealed in disasters like 9-11, hurricane Katrina hitting New Orleans, and the super storm Sandy hitting New York and New Jersey. Perhaps, but the real outcome is occurring when God’s people live ungodly lifestyles thinking God does not care. It is reflected in our unruly families, fatherless children, violent crime, gangs, acceptance of perversion such as homosexuality, and the wonton race for quick happiness through things, drugs, or relationships. I believe the wrath of God comes when God’s people disdain his Son’s sacrifice and forget its sufficiency. Christians need to change society not through government or acquiescence of our faith, but through reminding people around us that the sacrifice of Jesus is sufficient!

Conclusion:

The sacrifice of Jesus both sanctifies us and is completely sufficient for us as well!
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Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Pastor Lee Hemen has been the outspoken pastor of the same church for 27 years in Vancouver, WA. He writes regularly on spirituality and conservative causes and maintains several web blogs. This article is copyrighted © 2012 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Hebrews 10:1-10 – The shadow of the reality!

Hebrews 10:1-10 – The shadow of the reality!
By Pastor Lee Hemen
November 4, 2012 AM

“True! Nervous - very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses - not destroyed - not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell.” Thus begins “The Tell-Tale Heart”, a short story by Edgar Allan Poe, first published in 1843. It is told by an unnamed narrator who endeavors to convince the reader of his sanity, while describing a murder he committed. Ultimately, the narrator's guilt manifests itself in an auditory hallucination: The narrator hears his victim’s heart still beating under the floorboards where he hid the body. Guilt can make us hear things, do things, or say and promise things we would not normally hear, say or do. Sin is like that. Guilt coupled with pride convinces us to remain in ungodly relationships, do things we know we should not do, or say things we should not utter.

Guilt coupled with pride can also make us continue to stick to old habits and beliefs that are utterly worthless or even harmful. This is what was occurring with the listeners of the sermon of Hebrews. The author was desperately trying to help them see that their pride and guilt was causing them to make poor choices concerning their faith in Jesus. Some were actually thinking about returning to their old way of doing things. Going back to the shadow of the Old Law could never save them or assuage their guilt. The old way was a mere shadow of the reality itself! Can this be true of us in our day and age? The answer is a resounding, “YES!” Let’s discover why and how we can avoid making the same mistake concerning the shadow of the reality!

READ: Hebrews 10:1-10

I enjoy going to Disneyland or Disneyworld. I confess I like theme parks and especially the rollercoasters, where the faster and more loop-the-loops the better! Yet I am amazed and somewhat saddened to see the amount of money spent because of parental guilt in these parks. And all of the experience is based on a false premise, namely that everything is make-believe. It is not real. While the requirements of the Old Testament Law were very real, they were actually only a foreshadowing of what was to come. Hebrews therefore teaches us about…

I.  A mere shadow! (Vv. 1-4)

“…the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” (Matthew 4:16 NIV)

  1. “The law is only a shadow” that is a mere example or more exactly a foreshadowing in relation to the temporal good things of the spiritual and eternal good things of the Gospel to come. The good news is the “good things” that were coming because of Jesus Christ! We find that Colossians 2:17 tells us that in fact these “are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ!” More about that in a moment, however, the Old Law for “this reason” could “never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship.” An example cannot be as good as the real thing! This is why the author of Hebrews continues by asking, “If it could, would they not have stopped being offered?” Of course, the answer would be that certainly, they would have stopped, but they didn’t. So, if in fact they had stopped then “the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins.” Can you imagine realizing that the continuous sacrifices, which you had “repeated endlessly year after year”, actually testified to the Law’s inability to “perfect” its worshipers? What a bummer! We discover that instead “those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins!” Sin is actually a defiance of the eternal law, and these material sacrifices belong to a ceremonial law, which is far less acceptable to God than moral duties or eternal consequences. We know that sin is committed against God and is objective and without truly measurable limits. Therefore, it can never be atoned for by the blood of creatures but it leaves a stain on the mind and conscience, which blood can never reach! What the blood of these creatures could not do, the blood of Christ has done, and does continually. The Law was just a mere shadow.

  EXAMPLE: When I was little, I was afraid of the dark. Of course, my brother did not help the issue because he delighted in hiding in the closet, jumping from behind closed doors, or even lying under my bed and waiting for me to come to bed. Our minds can play tricks on us and that is why theme parks and certain horror movies are so popular. Yet they are not real. They are mere shadows of what our minds have conceived. Convincing folks that some things are not valid can be tough. The sacrifices of the Old Law could not perfectly cleanse anyone. They were only meant as a reminder of the cost involved and as an example of what would prove to be so much better. The Law was a mere shadow of better things to come.

This is why the author spent so much time in his argument concerning the Old Testament Law and the New Testament Christ. He wanted his readers to be convinced of…

II. The reality! (Vv. 5-10)

“These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.” (Colossians 2:17 NIV)

  1. “Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: ‘Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased.’” The author is using Psalm 40:6-8 where David writes, “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but my ears you have pierced; burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require. Then I said, ‘Here I am, I have come-- it is written about me in the scroll. I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.’” (Psalms 40:6-8 NIV) Jewish scholars believed this has always referred to the Messiah to come. Interestingly, the phrase “a body you prepared for me” is one Septuagint rendering of the Hebrew expression “you have dug ears for me.” It was a phrase used in preparing the body for burial. In the “body” which Jesus assumed in his coming, he could say that he had come to achieve what the Old-Covenant shadow sacrifices never achieved, the perfecting of New-Covenant worshipers, those who lived in the light and not the shadows! The reality was that Jesus could say, “Here I am -- it is written about me in the scroll -- I have come to do your will, O God.” Remember, it was not his will but God’s will that Jesus earnestly desired to do! Jesus’ last concern was that he not be dissuaded in any way from doing what he was called to do! We learn that, “Yet it was the Lord's will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.” (Isaiah 53:10 NIV) By Jesus willingly doing what he did, he “sets aside the first to establish the second.” The author continues by reminding his readers that “And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” The Law was simply a shadow but Jesus was and is the light and life of all men. This is the reality!

  EXAMPLE: As fun and as exciting as make-believe can be, reality is far better. That is, if you are prepared for it. We can become so enamored with the lives of others that we disdain our own existence or we live beyond our own means. I have seen parents try and make up for their lack of a childhood by overindulging their children. I have also watched as young couples have an inappropriate view of what their married life should be like. Then there are those who think that the world owes them a living. It is interesting to watch folks, as reality comes crashing into their lives. Just as Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz learned, “There is no place like home”, the believer needs to understand the reality of Jesus: That “we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all!” That is the reality and not some shadow!

Conclusion:
A mere shadow or the reality, which do you prefer. I rather like reality myself.
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Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Pastor Lee Hemen has been the outspoken pastor of the same church for 27 years in Vancouver, WA. He writes regularly on spirituality and conservative causes and maintains several web blogs. This article is copyrighted © 2012 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.