Hebrews: Drawing Near to God

July 20, 2016 at 12:15 pm | Posted in Hebrews | Leave a comment
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The Book of Hebrews offers five admonitions for living a confident and victorious Christian life:
1. Don’t slip when it comes to faithfully exercising your spiritual disciplines. Don’t stop praying, studying your Bible, attending church.
2. Don’t be suspicious of God’s trustworthiness.
3. Don’t be stunted in your spiritual growth. Eat God’s nourishing Word, rest on His promises, and exercise yourself in walking with Him.
4. Don’t slander God’s Word by acting like it’s not true.
5. Don’t spurn God’s Word by disbelieving or thinking it doesn’t apply to your special circumstances.

There are several themes in the Book of Hebrews: the supremacy of Christ over all His Old Testament types; finding a confident and sure “rest” by “entering in” to the promises of God; Christ’s role as our Great High Priest; and others. But the theme that really stood out to me the first time I studied through Hebrews was the theme of drawing nearer and nearer to God. I believe the two key verses to unlocking the book are:

For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.

Hebrews 7:19

Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

Hebrews 10:22

We can draw nigh with confidence into the Holiest to truly consider the glory of God in the person and work of Christ. We can draw near by growing in holiness, by faith, by consistently seeking to be in His presence, by considering, provoking, and assembling with each other, by preparation for worship, and by a willingness to go forth. Draw near to God in Christ and you will enter into your rest!

Here are links to the lessons on Hebrews:

1. Winning the Argument that Christ Is Better (Hebrews 1)
2. Two Thrones (Hebrews 1:8)
3. The Certainty of Christ’s Deity (Hebrews 1:10-13)
4. Don’t Let ’em Give You the Slip (Hebrews 1-2)
5. John Piper’s S.W.I.M. Prayer (Hebrews 2:1)
6. Don’t Let Go of the Rope (Hebrews 2:1)
7. He’s No Angel (Hebrews 2, 4:15)
8. Flesh and Blood (Hebrews 2:14)
9. Close Enough to Whisper in God’s Ear (Hebrews 3-4)
10. Restless Unbelief (Hebrews 3)
11. The Labor of Rest (Hebrews 3-4)
12. Rest / Repentance (Hebrews 3-4)
13. The Invitation to Come Closer (Hebrews 4)
14. A Timely Word (Hebrews 4:12) *
15. Beware the Feeling of Formidability (Hebrews 5)
16. Don’t Stunt Your Growth (Hebrews 5)
17. When the Foundation Ceases to be Cute (Hebrews 6)
18. The Hard Work of Encouragement (Hebrews 6)
19. Partakers Overtake Undertakers (Hebrews 6:4-6)
20. Anchored Upward (Hebrews 6)
21. The Certain Hope (Hebrews 6:18-19)
22. A Unique and Superior Priesthood (Hebrews 7)
23. The Testator as Intercessor (Hebrews 7)
24. The Meaning, Majesty, Ministry, and Maintenance of the Mediator (Hebrews 8)
25. The Old Covenant Sanctuary and the New Covenant Sanctuary (Hebrews 9)
26. The Greatest Sacrifice (Hebrews 10)
27. The Danger of Slandering God (Hebrews 10)
28. Catechism Question 19 (Hebrews 10:12)
29. Faith Illustrated (Hebrews 11)
30. Home Is Where Your Lord Is (Hebrews 11)
31. Abraham and Isaac Receiving Christ in a Figure (Hebrews 11:17-19)
32. How God Prepares Leaders (Hebrews 11:23-29)
33. A Closer Race with Thee (Hebrews 12)
34. Racing Tips (Hebrews 12:1)
35. The Author of the Story that Never Ends (Hebrews 12:2, 7:25, 6:18)
36. This Is Going to Hurt Me More than It’s Going to Hurt You (Hebrews 12)
37. Moving Toward the Immovable (Hebrews 12:28-29)
38. Immutability for Today (Hebrews 13)
39. Why Is Marriage So Honorable? (Hebrews 13:1-8)
40. The Assurance of the Blood (Hebrews 13:20-21)

* most-viewed post in category

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Immutability for Today

June 30, 2016 at 1:12 pm | Posted in Hebrews | 2 Comments
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Hebrews Chapter 13 is a very practical chapter of God’s Word. It contains doctrine that can be applied to everyday life. In fact, throughout the whole Bible, duty is never divorced from doctrine.

Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.

Hebrews 13:8

This verse is often cited as a proof-text to try to convince people that God always works the same way, and that He does not operate differently in His relationship to creation during different dispensations or historical periods. That is not a correct use of the verse, but it is true that God’s character does not change. His qualities of love, mercy, grace, holiness, righteousness, and power are everlasting. He has been Father, Son, and Holy Ghost forever, and He will be forever. He cannot lie. That’s a comforting thing to know, a nice thing to know, and an important thing to know, but, in addition to providing comfort and assurance about the trustworthiness of God, it also has very practical outworkings in the daily lives of Christians.

Take, for example, the responsibility of the believer toward his or her spiritual leaders.

Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.

Hebrews 13:7

Though leaders change from one to another, and though they might change in the sense of moral failure or being undependable, we must remember that our ultimate responsibility is to follow and serve God, and that He is always the same when it comes to trustworthiness and dependability. We chiefly put our faith in God’s Word and His promises.

Standing on the promises I cannot fall;
Listening every moment to the Spirit’s call;
Trusting in the Savior as my ALL in ALL;
Standing on the promises of God

Standing on the promises that cannot fail;
When the howling storms of fear and doubt assail;
By the living Word of God I shall prevail;
Standing on the promises of God

R. Kelso Carter

This Is Going to Hurt Me More than It’s Going to Hurt You

June 14, 2016 at 1:46 pm | Posted in Common Expressions, Hebrews | 1 Comment
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Chastening is sometimes referred to as punishment, but since it really has a goal of correction, rehabilitation, and restoration, it would probably be better thought of as discipline rather than punishment. Strictly speaking, a criminal sentenced to prison has not been chastened; he has been punished to pay a price for doing wrong regardless of whether he mends his ways. However, punishment may turn out to be chastening, depending on the response of the person being punished. Punishment has to do with the goal of the punisher, although it may be transformed into chastisement in the mind of the one being punished. Chastisement has to do with the goal of the chastiser and the response of the one being chastised. It is very important to understand this distinction. When I chastise my children, they can respond in one of two ways: (1) with bitterness and a determination not to be broken; or (2) with a contrite heart and willing obedience. Can there be joy in chastening? Not during – it’s grievous for both parties while it’s going on.

Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

Hebrews 12:11

The oft-parodied parental expression from the parent about to administer a spanking to his child is, “This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you,” and, although the child would beg to differ, it is is true that it does hurt a loving parent to chastise his child with corporal discipline. But think how much more it must hurt our loving God!

And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

Ephesians 4:30

Grief is worse than sadness or mourning. Grief is a painful regret mixed with indignation and sorrow. It’s an amazing thing that I can grieve the Holy Spirit – I ought to strive not to do it – but, when I’m chastened, I must respond to it the right way, and grow and profit from it. If I don’t, I will be guilty of spurning the Word of God and making the chastening a root of bitterness. It’s bad enough to have a root of bitterness springing up between believers, but the devil wants a root of bitterness to spring up between me and God. When I am tending the garden of my heart, it’s not enough to love flowers – to love the spiritual fruit I should be bearing. I must also hate weeds, and be constantly digging up the roots of bitterness.

The Bible calls the tool that you use to discipline your children “the rod of correction.” We sometimes call it a “paddle,” and there is another spiritual (albeit embarrassing) lesson in the Bible about the “paddle.”

And thou shalt have a paddle upon thy weapon; and it shall be, when thou wilt ease thyself abroad, thou shalt dig therewith, and shalt turn back and cover that which cometh from thee:

Deuteronomy 23:13

Most translations say “equipment” or “spade” or “implement,” but the King James Version calls it a “paddle.” The paddle in this verse is for burying – outside the camp – that which would defile and make unclean a camp of God’s people. That’s what we need to do with bitterness – deal with it – go outside the camp and bury it – not bring it in among the family of God.

In the Christian race, we are to look diligently.

Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;

Hebrews 12:15

We are to look diligently for a root of bitterness, because such a root will hinder our relationship with God, and because, by it, many will be defiled. If we don’t look where we’re running, we might step in something and track it into the house of another believer, or worse, into the house of the Lord – the local church – and cause a big stink.

A Closer Race with Thee

May 23, 2016 at 1:41 pm | Posted in Hebrews | 3 Comments
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Hebrews Chapter 12 starts of with a “wherefore,” which – similar to a “therefore” – reminds us to take into consideration what we’ve just learned.

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

Hebrews 12:1

The witnesses are the heroes of the faith from Chapter 11, and they are not “witnesses” in the sense of being spectators. They are witnesses in the sense that their testimonies, and what we know about them from the Bible, witness to us. Their testimonies let us know that, if they did it, we can do it, too.

If the Christian life is a race, we need training for the race – and the training is ongoing as we run at different levels, drawing nearer and nearer to God:

One, we look at those who have finished the race – and won the race – before (the cloud of witnesses, patriarchs of the faith).

Two, we consider what kind of shape we’re in to start. Are we weighted down? Weights are useful for training, but no one would run the actual race with his weights. A batter in the on-deck circle does his practice swings with a weighted donut around the barrel of the bat, but he makes sure to take it off before stepping up to the plate. In the Christian race we lay aside “every weight” – even so-called “harmless” things. Remember, the question for the mature believer who is drawing closer and closer to God is not, “What’s wrong with that?” but “What’s right with that?”

No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.

II Timothy 2:4

We lay aside every weight and “sins that easily beset us.” We know we can’t draw nigh while we’re all weighted down – especially with sin.

Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:

Hebrews 12:14

We are not going to come into the presence of God – as confident believers who know better – without some degree of holiness. We cannot have total and complete holiness, for this is impossible for flesh and blood, but we must have some holiness. God said, “Be ye holy; for I am holy,” and He wouldn’t have told us to do it if it was impossible.

Three, we look at the One Who truly did it.

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of [our] faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.

Hebrews 12:2-3

We have to draw close to “consider.” Christ is our best example for running the race. He didn’t use His powers to coast through His earthly life. Like Job, he was tempted, but to a far greater extent. He exercised faith – built up in prayer – used with the Word of God as a sharp weapon. Christ is not only our example, He is our enabler. He gives us the patience (really, endurance) and the strength to run the race.

Two Thrones

May 16, 2016 at 1:37 pm | Posted in Hebrews | 5 Comments
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Years ago I read a quote that I really liked, and I jotted it down: “God has two thrones – one in the highest Heaven, and one in the humblest heart.” The problem is that I forgot to write down who said it, or where I read it. My best guess is that it is somewhere in a collection of volumes I have – compiled by Warren Wiersbe – of famous sermons by famous preachers on different topics. However, I haven’t been able to relocate it, so I can’t be certain of giving credit to who said it, although I have seen it attributed “on the internet” (a dubious source at best!) to D.L. Moody.

In any event, I think of that quote often. First, I think about the amazing and fearful idea that the almighty, sovereign Creator and Lord of the universe would deign to take up residence on the petty little throne of my insignificant and obscure heart. What a simultaneously humbling and encouraging thought! And what a stark and convicting reminder of how often and how treacherously I am guilty of trying to weasel my way back onto that throne after I have supposedly ceded it completely to its rightful Owner and King!

God reigneth over the heathen: God sitteth upon the throne of his holiness.

Psalm 47:8

Second, I think of just how high the throne of the highest Heaven must be, and just how mighty must a King have to be Who would ascend to this throne. A well-known (and increasingly criticized and even ridiculed) evangelical plea says that we need to “ask Jesus into our hearts.” Regardless of the theological accuracy of the wording, the idea is astounding, for this Jesus on Whom we must call for our eternal salvation did Himself once ascend to the throne of the highest Heaven – as God, yes – but also truly as a man. Being an immutable being, if He has indeed “come into” my heart, and is indeed seated on the throne there, He must rule with the same authority invested in His Father’s throne on high. How dare I, mere creature, guilty of abominable and despicable treason, taint the holiness of His throne room or the air around the righteousness of His scepter with vanity or sin? What an exhortation to love, fear, obey, and live for Jesus!

But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.

Hebrews 1:8

Faith Illustrated

April 12, 2016 at 4:03 pm | Posted in Hebrews | 2 Comments
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Hebrews Chapter 11 is often called “The Faith Chapter” of the Bible, or the “Hall of Faith,” or the “Hall of Fame of Faith” because it lists several “heroes” of the Old Testament, and what they were able to accomplish through their faith in God. However, it also teaches that faith is more than just a feeling and more than mental assent to a Biblical doctrine. Nor is Biblical faith totally totally separate from empirical and rational evidence.

One of the chief reasons we use the Word of God in evangelism is that there is power in the Word. Faith actually comes FROM hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17). For Christians, the idea of “having faith” should never be separated from “living by faith.” Just as love – for Christians – is more of an action than a feeling, so faith – “saving” faith – is a faith that has the power to work. As we draw near to Christ by faith, we get sent out by faith, and empowered by faith.

We increase our faith by obedience and action, and it is also helpful to spend time with faithful people – to observe and to emulate faithful people. The pages of the Bible are full of people who pleased God through faith, and people who failed God by unbelief. Hebrews Chapter 11 records the success stories.

By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.

Hebrews 11:4

Abel gave gifts to God by faith, and was martyred for his faith, but his actions still speak today. He was the first in a long line of God’s people who died for the faith.

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.

Matthew 23:29-35

By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Hebrews 11:5-6

Enoch was a man who grew closer and closer to God, until one day God drew him all the way to Himself in Heaven!

By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.

Hebrews 11:7

Noah guided his family by faith, guided those who were faithful, and condemned the unfaithful world.

The line of faithful men continued with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph, who, by faith, kept going toward a city that could only be seen by faith. The visible world they walked through each day was not – they knew – their real home.

By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;

Hebrews 11:24-25

Moses forsook a life of ease and pleasure, believing by faith that, no matter how scary the wilderness looked and how long it lasted (40 years), following God was safer than hiding from God.

By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.

Hebrews 11:31

Rahab, a condemned heathen harlot, was grafted into the ancestral line of Christ as an illustration of faith. After reading the Old Testament, we might be surprised at some of the other “heroes of the faith:” Gideon, the frightened farmer; Samson, the macho strongman, whose greatest service to God may have been in his death; Jephthah, impatient and illegitimate, who was used by God even though he wound up sacrificing his own daughter.

There is today a false doctrine out there called the “Word Faith” movement, led by wealthy preachers who say foolish things like, “If it’s in your mouth it’s in your future” and “Don’t keep praying – it shows a lack of faith; if you must pray, just express thanks that it’s already been done, instead of repeating and making supplication.” These false teachers say that the presence of real faith excludes the possibility of suffering. It is an error easily refuted by the Bible:

And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

Hebrews 11:36-38

Not only the Old Testament patriarchs, but New Testament martyrs as well, have suffered faithfully, without earthly deliverance. I hope you don’t believe that some television preacher with a Lear jet, six Rolls Royces, a tanning bed, and a beauty salon for his wife’s pet poodle has more faith than these wanderers in deserts and caves. These faithful martyrs named eternally in the everlasting page’s of God’s holy Word do not teach us that faith is “speaking forth blessings,” “pleading the blood” over our finances, or “naming and claiming it.” They teach us that faith is believing God’s Word in spite of circumstances and consequences.

Lord Jesus, thank You for Your saving grace. Thank You for making intercession for us before the Father. As You do so, let us draw ever closer and closer to You, and make us more like You today than we were yesterday. Amen.

The Danger of Slandering God

March 30, 2016 at 10:49 am | Posted in Hebrews | 3 Comments
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Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,

Hebrews 10:19

Entering into the “holiest” is the ultimate in “drawing near” to God. Under the New Covenant, and its superior Sacrifice, we are allowed to come this close to God. “Drawing nigh” creates the image of pulling up forcefully and quickly and suddenly stopping – of getting as close as possible without becoming that to which we are drawing near. As Christians, we spend time preparing to draw near to God, and, even in our preparations, we are already “near,” but, as the shadows of the Old Covenant are fulfilled in the New, the sprinkling of the blood of animals becomes the sprinkling of our hearts from an evil conscience.

Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

Hebrews 10:22

The washing in the laver becomes the washing of our bodies with obedience to the Word. We are motivated to try to keep ourselves clean (holy) in preparation for entering His presence, and abiding in His presence every minute of every day.

Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)

Hebrews 10:23

If he said we could do it – if He PROMISED – then we CAN.

The next verses exhort us not to forsake some things: do not forsake considering each other; do not forsake provoking each other; do not forsake assembling with each other. That’s one reason why it’s so important to attend a local church. Three things that help us to abide in God’s presence are His Word, His Spirit, and His Body, the local church. If you forsake any one of these three, you are on a dangerous path, and are placing yourself at the mercy of one of your three enemies:

1. The devil, who we fight with the Word.
2. The flesh, which is fought against in the power of the Holy Ghost.
3. The world, which we fight against with the local church.

This brings us to the fourth admonition in Hebrews:

1. Don’t slip.
2. Don’t be suspicious.
3. Don’t be stunted.
4. Don’t slander.

Slandering God is slandering His Word. It is living as though what He has said will not come to pass. It is living as if disobedience will produce no consequences.

For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.

Hebrews 10:26

The Old Covenant provided no sacrifices for deliberate and willful sins.

He that despised Moses’s law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:

Hebrews 10:28

The punishment was execution.

Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?

Hebrews 10:29

Who is more accountable? The lost person who slanders God? Or the saved person, who knows the truth about God, yet slanders Him anyway? Even forgiven sins have consequences.

We are saved through faith, and the victorious Christian must also LIVE by faith.

Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.

Hebrews 10:38-39

The opposite of drawing near is drawing back. “Perdition” in Verse 39 is not eternal punishment or damnation, but it is a serious and severe punishment. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. He’s a living and a loving God. A saved person will never fall out of the hands of God – nothing shall pluck them out (John 10:28-29) – but a believer who slanders God by repeated willful deliberate patterns of sin – by drawing back farther and farther – WILL be dealt with by God.

The Greatest Sacrifice

March 17, 2016 at 1:13 pm | Posted in Hebrews | 2 Comments
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Priests went into the Old Covenant sanctuary to make sacrifices. These sacrifices had to be repeated time and time again, but the New Covenant Sacrifice is superior. It is an everlasting Sacrifice. It is sufficient and efficient to open the way into the Holy of Holies in Heaven – to allow believers to have confident and eternal access to God the Father. In the Old Covenant animals were sacrificed, but in the New Covenant the Sacrifice was Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God. Christ was a better Sacrifice because He actually took away sins.

But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.

Hebrews 10:3-4

Old Covenant sacrifices had to be repeated over and over because they did not cause God to stop “remembering” the sins of the people. These sacrifices served to cover sin, but not to cleanse the sinner. Christ was a better Sacrifice because God had prepared the Sacrifice Himself.

Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me:

Hebrews 10:5

Christ did what it was not possible for anyone else to do: He pleased God with His mind, His heart, His desire to obey, and even with a body of flesh. He did ALWAYS the will of the Father.

While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.

Matthew 17:5

For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.

John 6:38-40

I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.

John 17:4-5

Old Covenant sacrifices were accepted, but they had no will of their own to be sacrificed, and they had not been especially prepared by the Father in the way Christ had.

In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure.

Hebrews 10:6

Why would God have no pleasure in sacrifices which were done in obedience to His Word? These sacrifices were often made with an outward show of obedience, but without an obedient heart. Remember, God sees the heart. There’s no drawing near by way of a sacrifice in form only. There must be a humble heart, a desire to please, and a true obedient ATTITUDE: a desire that the Lord God would accept this sacrifice as a sign of true repentance and a resolve not to disobey again. This did bring about blessings, but it did not pay the sin debt once and for all. The sacrifice of Christ did.

But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;

Hebrews 10:12

For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.

Hebrews 10:14

The Old Covenant Sanctuary and the New Covenant Sanctuary

February 29, 2016 at 1:38 pm | Posted in Hebrews | 3 Comments
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For the Hebrew believers the New Covenant was an extreme departure from everything they had done to attempt to keep a right standing with God. For those of us who have grown up around New Testament Christianity it would be like if we started having church standing on our heads! This is one reason why the Holy Spirit, in the letter to the Hebrews, breaks things down element by element, piece by piece, as if to say,”Look, it’s okay to draw near to God under the New Covenant.” The logical conclusion for 1st Century Jewish Christians would have been, “If we keep drawing closer and closer, we’re going to wind up in the Holy of Holies – that’s as close as you can get – AND WE CAN’T GO IN THERE!

So in Hebrews Chapter 9 the Holy Ghost explains, using contrasts, just how superior the sanctuary in Heaven (the New Covenant sanctuary) is to the sanctuary in the Tabernacle or the Temple. It is also important to remember that, for New Testament believers, our “sanctuary” is not really a “building.” Today, if you are truly a believer, the Spirit lives within you.

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

I Corinthians 6:19

However, keeping that in mind, here are some contrasts between the Old Covenant sanctuary and the Heavenly sanctuary.

1. The Old Covenant sanctuary was man-made.

Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary.

Hebrews 9:1

The earthly sanctuary was limited by decay and locale. The eternal sanctuary is permanent – spoken into existence by God.

But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building;

Hebrews 9:11

2. The Old Covenant sanctuary was a “type” of a greater reality.

For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary. And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all; Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat; of which we cannot now speak particularly.

Hebrews 9:2-5

The pattern for a dress lets the seamstress see what it’s meant to be, but the actual dress is much more useful and fulfilling for the wearer. The Old Covenant sanctuary, by its very nature, pointed to something greater.

Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

Hebrews 9:12-14

The sacrifice made in the New Covenant sanctuary actually cleans the conscience, instead of just making someone ceremonially clean.

3. The Old Covenant sanctuary acted as a boundary.

But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people:

Hebrews 9:7

Only the high priest could go into the Holy of Holies, and then only once a year, but in the New Covenant sanctuary, spiritually, we can have unlimited access to God, through Christ because of His shed blood.

4. The Old Covenant sanctuary was temporary.

The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing:

Hebrews 9:8

Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;

Matthew 27:50-51

The New Covenant sanctuary is not only permanent, but is home to a permanent ministry.

For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:

Hebrews 9:24

Even the Jewish genealogical records have been lost or destroyed, and their religions leaders and historians are not sure who is supposed to be ministering as a priest today.

5. The Old Covenant sanctuary was set up to deal with ceremonial and carnal purity.

Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.

Hebrews 9:9-10

The New Covenant sanctuary deals with the heart (the conscience). It changes what is on the inside.

For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

Hebrews 9:13-14

And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

Hebrews 9:27

Have you taken advantage of the true – the better – the superior – the everlasting ministry of the sanctuary in Heaven?

The Meaning, Majesty, Ministry, and Maintenance of the Mediator

February 3, 2016 at 4:24 pm | Posted in Hebrews | 4 Comments
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Jesus, the Great High Priest, ministers in a better sanctuary than the Levitical priests of the Old Testament.

Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens;

Hebrews 8:1

Jesus sits on the throne of God at the Father’s right hand, but He is not seated because He doesn’t care about us. He is seated because He is doing an everlasting job. He has been ordained to an everlasting ministry. He is also seated because of His majesty. He is the King, so He sits on a throne. He sits on a throne of truth and of grace.

His Heavenly tabernacle is better than the earthly Tabernacle known to the Hebrew believers. Jesus is a High Priest Who is perfectly suited for us because we need something more than the blood of bulls or lambs. We need a better sacrifice.

For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law: Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount.

Hebrews 8:4-5

The Law showed a picture of the eternal reality in Heaven. Earthly priests were suited to that ministry. They gave gifts and made sacrifices for themselves. But our Great High Priest did not need to sacrifice for Himself, and He does not need to repeat the sacrifice each year for atonement.

But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.

Hebrews 8:6

He is a better Priest, with a better ministry, ministering a better covenant, established upon better promises. His role as “Mediator” reminds us of the “daysman” longed for in Job 9:32-33. Our Mediator/Daysman brings us into eternal loving peace and familial relationship with God. Job had a desire to draw near to God – to “come together in judgment” – but he lived in the time of shadows – shadows of better things to come. He had the desire to draw near to God, but not the means.

For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.

Hebrews 8:7

Was the old covenant wrong? No. It’s “fault” was that it was temporary and it led to what was to fulfill it. If the Old Testament Israelites had obeyed it, they would have been blessed, but it didn’t have the power to transform – to create new hearts.

Does the Law have any ministry for believers today? Yes, the righteousness of the Law should be fulfilled in us as we yield to the Holy Spirit.

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

Romans 8:1-4

But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.

I Timothy 1:8-11

What better way to draw nigh unto God than by letting Him (His Holy Spirit) completely take over? If the Spirit glorifies Christ, and we let the Spirit have control, where will we be drawn?

For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:

Hebrews 8:10

This shows the fulfilling of the prophecy of Jeremiah 31:31-34. The laws of the Old Covenant are inside Christians (Zechariah 8:8) in righteousness and in truth, as the Holy Spirit speaks to our hearts and to our minds and actually lives inside us.

Lord, thank You for Your saving grace. I praise You because You can not lie, and because You do not change Your plan of salvation. Lord Jesus, we are grateful to You for making intercession for us before the Father. As You do so, let us draw ever closer and closer to You. Make me more like You today than I was yesterday. Amen.

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