15th November 2022
Read (Hebrews 10v19-39)
Message (Scott Woodburn)
The Apostle has given us rich theology about the priesthood of Christ and as chapter ten comes to a close he applies that theology to everyday living. Jesus has given us absolute confidence to enter the holy places. We have been washed clean by the blood of the Lamb (v19) and as our great high priest, Christ has gone on before us and opened up the way to heaven (v20-21). Therefore Paul urges us to act in response to the glory of the Gospel.
Firstly, he urges us to draw near to God in full assurance of faith (v22). We have much that shames us and we fall into sin daily but nevertheless we are to approach the Lord with confidence knowing that we have been cleansed by the work of Christ and are welcome in the holy place.
Secondly, we are to hold fast to our confession of hope (v23). Our confession is what we believe to be true and so our confession of hope is what we believe about the Gospel. We hope for sins forgiven, we hope for heaven, we hope for the resurrection of our bodies. Hold fast says the Apostle!
Thirdly, we are to stir one another up and meet together frequently (v24-25). Christians are to meet together and they are to encourage one another when they do so. I know it is much easier to breeze in and out on a Sunday but Christ compels us to stop and talk and to encourage one another to good works. The final day is drawing near and in light of Christ's finished work and priestly activity, we are to be active in building the church of Christ.
This threefold response is both right and proper. What is not acceptable is to respond to the Gospel of grace by turning away from Jesus. Amazingly some of the Hebrews were considering exactly that. This is what we call apostasy - to once profess faith in Christ and then to turn away from Him. To warn his hearers about apostasy Paul reminded the Hebrews of a sinner during the days of the old covenant. A sinner who wilfully continued in sin despite a knowledge of the truth had no means of sacrifice (v26) only a fearful expectation of judgement (v27). To set aside the law of Moses would result in punishment and death by the evidence of two or three witnesses (v28).
If such a punishment was expected during the days of Moses then the punishment for anyone who forsakes Christ is much much worse (v29). The Lord will bring vengeance to those who oppose Him and the Lord will judge His people (v30). The Apostle is clear - it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (v31).
With this startling warning ringing in their ears Paul takes the Hebrews back to the beginning. They once had hard struggles (v32), they publicly knew both reproach and affliction (v33), they were compassionate to those in prison and they even tolerated the loss of their own property because they knew that they had a much greater possession in Christ (v34).
Therefore he told them as he tells us - don't throw your confidence in Christ away (v35)! In Jesus we have an extraordinarily great reward and so we must with endurance keep on to the finishing line (v36). Our call is clear - the Lord Jesus is coming soon and we are to ensure that we do not shrink back but instead continue living by faith (v38).
To shrink back from Christ is to know the displeasure and wrath of God (v38). So brothers and sisters may we not be those who shrink back and meet with destruction but may we continue on in faith. Christ is our great high priest who has opened the path to heaven. All who believe in Him will never be put to shame. Keep your eyes on Him and in response draw near to God, hold fast to your confession and continue meeting together and stirring one another up. Brothers and sisters, press on!
Q105 What do we pray for in the fifth petition? In the fifth petition, which is, And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors,” we pray, that God, for Christ’s sake, would freely pardon all our sins; which we are the rather encouraged to ask, because by his grace we are enabled from the heart to forgive others.