for reasons of space the first section of Hebrews 10 is omitted. It is
essentially a continuation of the previous section, and the reader is referred
to that lesson.
now comes to the point of his lesson – and gives us an outline of what we
should be doing.
19Therefore, brothers, since we have
confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that
is, his body, 21and since we have a great priest over the
house of God, 22let us draw near to God with 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. 23Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who
promised is faithful. 24And let us consider how we may spur one
another on toward love and good deeds. 25Let us not give up meeting
together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one
another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
26If we deliberately keep on sinning after
we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that
will consume the enemies of God. 28Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died
without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29How 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? 30For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”£ and again, “The Lord will judge his
people.”£ 31It is a dreadful thing to
fall into the hands of the living God.
32Remember those earlier days after you had
received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face
of suffering. 33Sometimes you were publicly exposed to
insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who
were so treated. 34You sympathized with those in prison and
joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you
yourselves had better and lasting possessions.
35So do not throw away your confidence; it
will be richly rewarded. 36You need to persevere so that when you
have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 37For in just a very little while,
“He who is coming will come and will not delay.
38 But my righteous one£ will live by faith.
And if he shrinks back,
I will not be pleased with him.”£
are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe
and are saved.
The Open Door
is often said among Christians that “when God closes a door, he opens a
window.” It is usually said when the opportunities in life seem to have
vanished. It can also be said of this passage – except in this instance God
has closed the window and thrown the door wide open.
The Way is open
am the way, the truth, the life,” said Jesus. Paul portrays that idea here as
he pictures Christ’s body as being a veil. Remember the Christmas carol
words: “Veiled in flesh the Godhead see; hail the incarnate deity?” In that
body was God veiled from us; by the sacrifice of that body the veil was split
open – just as the symbolic version, the veil in the Temple, was split too.
Such a split could only have been made (remember our symbolism from the last
lesson) with the blood of the perfect sacrifice. It is therefore clear (I
hope) how Jesus can say that unless you eat his body and drink his blood, you
cannot enter the kingdom of God. By this he refers to the Lord’s Supper, of
course. As the Old Testament had its symbolism, so does the New Testament.
the old way: the High Priest alone goes behind that veil. But our High Priest
goes through the veil, splitting it. We can now see what God had behind that
veil. We see the mercy seat beneath the glory of God. Because we can see
ahead, we have confidence to go ahead. (When lost in the wilderness it is
extremely helpful to have a compass, a topographic map of the area and a pair
all sounds rather symbolic and fuzzy. Let me give you an example. Suppose you
need a new car. You go down to the dealership, hesitant and worried about
being cheated. How do you know if you got a good deal? Would the sales
manager have signed on your first offer? It’s a nervous thing, because of what
you don’t know.
now suppose your rich uncle tells you, “Order whatever car you want. I’ll pay
for it.” Now your fears subside! Christ has removed the uncertainty, the fear
of what you don’t know. So, then, what should we do about it?
Draw near to God
you ever wanted to get closer to God – and wondered why it isn’t happening?
Paul gives us four keys to drawing nearer to God:
sincere heart is first. If you are in church either to profit monetarily
or to cover you bets in the world, God knows – and you will be far from
faith is next. We often say that we walk by faith – but do we? Do we stick
our necks out and act like God will provide, or do we just wait until he
– in the spiritual sense – is next. On the outside this is shown by
baptism. On the inside, it’s a clear conscience, purified by the
forgiveness that only God can give.
there is hope. Is life just a parade ending in a cemetery? Or is it a
procession to heaven? Your attitude; your altitude.
Draw near to each other
often as we stress time of prayer, time of being alone with God – the world
hates the time we give to him in solitude – we must also stress the time with
each other. Why does Paul tell us to do this?
so we can spur each other on. See the inner and outer lives of Christians
here. We are to spur each other on to love (inner) and then to good deeds
(outer). Some think it begging when we ask the congregation to support
some great project for Christ. Isn’t it also encouraging us to do what we
should be doing?
do this, we must meet together! Even in this electronic age, face to face
is still the preference of real human beings.
we must encourage each other. When times get tough, when things are sad,
we need our Christian brothers and sisters with us.
it sound strange that Paul next breaks into warning? It is not. There will
always be those who decide that since grace covers sin it would be a good thing
to have more sin in their lives. Here is a cogent answer to that argument.
Greater knowledge, greater responsibility
at it this way. Suppose you are hired to look after a very sick, elderly
lady. She cannot get out of bed; her eyes do not permit her to read the
labels on the prescription bottles. The doctor leaves you with a bottle of
pain killer for her. This particular day she is in a great deal of pain. You
decide (without asking the doctor) to give her twice the usual dosage.
Unfortunately, that kills her.
the first question: did you just commit murder? Well, in some degree or
other, you did. But the circumstances make it clear that this action, while
you knew better, does not rise to first degree murder.
suppose the doctor is there, and he gives her twice the dose. Now, do you
suppose the legal system will charge him the same way? I think not. They
would argue that his greater knowledge means that his act is much more
heinous. This might indeed be first degree murder.
same is true in our dealing with the new covenant. The argument goes something
in the old covenant, if two or three people saw you do it, you got stoned
now, with the coming of Christ, our knowledge of what God wants is greatly
because of our greater knowledge, the punishment we deserve for deliberately
flouting his word is all the greater.
the criterion given: “deliberately keeps on sinning.”
How God sees it
it helps to know just what God might be upset about. We think of him so often
as a cosmic grandfather who loves his grandchildren that we forget about the
says those who do this trample the Son of God underfoot. The expression
is an old one; it means to throw out something as junk, work it into the
ground and walk on it. It means to treat the Cross as if it were nothing
these people treat the blood of Christ as unholy. The phrase means to
treat Christ’s blood as commonplace, of no more value than anything else
they insult the Holy Spirit. If you disdain a gift, you insult the giver,
are the ones who have taken the name of Christ, consider themselves saved, and
then act as if nothing had changed. They deliberately continue to sin.
me give you an example. Suppose you are living with your girl friend, enjoying
life. You become a Christian, but decide that God couldn’t really mean
anything by condemning fornication. You go on just as you did before. That’s
the kind of person we’re talking about.
God doesn’t like it. What’s he going to do about it?
who you’re dealing with. He is completely righteous, and therefore is
able to judge with justice. You cannot plead with him (as you would with
me) that he is a sinner too.
also that God judges his people first. Indeed, the Old Testament has a regulation
that if your adult children blaspheme God by their conduct, you must bring
them to justice – and have them stoned to death.
reminds us: God is merciful to those who are obedient – but you really
don’t want him angry at you.
What to do
told us of the greatness of the new way, and warned us about despising the
sacrifice of Christ, Paul now tells us what we should do about it.
did not get to your present state all in one day. Therefore, you have memories
which may help:
that you have a lot invested in this – spiritually. It seemed good to you
at the time; what’s changed? Not God!
that you sympathized with others who are Christians. You’ve made it
public – you believe, and you’re willing to pay the price.
also that your faith cost you in material things – and that you gladly
paid the price, for you thought it grand that you were considered worthy
to suffer for the name.
your memories refresh your thinking.
Persevere in confidence
because God will reward your confidence in him. He is seeking people to
is an active perseverance, not a passive waiting. While you’re here, do
the work you are called to do. Let God worry about the results.
you do the will of God, you will receive what God has promised. No one
else can deliver such great things.
The just shall live by faith
is a phrase that Paul uses frequently. What does it mean?
it means there is no sense trying to live by law – Old Testament or that
of our own creation. That’s not the way to life.
too, that the law is a cold thing, full of if and but. Faith is a living
thing, full of the Spirit.
is also Paul’s way of bringing up his next topic – faith. Which we shall
approach in the next lesson.