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Hebrews - Part 10 - Christ's Perfect Sacrifice: Once for All

Study of Hebrews  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  26:00
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Christ was the perfect sacrifice once for all

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Introduction Good morning everyone! Today we are going to continue our series through the book of Hebrews with an exposition of the first 18 verses of chapter 10. Before we get into chapter 10 let's do a quick recap of the purpose of the book and some of the key points developed in the first nine chapters. The author of Hebrews, whose identity is not absolutely known, is writing with a pastor's loving care to a group of Christians who have come out of Judaism. They are facing persecution for their beliefs and are tempted to return to Judaism. The author recognizes this and addresses this issue in two ways. First, he emphasizes the over arching superiority of Jesus to anything in their Jewish background. This includes Hebrew heroes like Moses and even angels. Jesus is no mere mortal but the son of God who came to this earth. He is sufficient for all their spiritual needs. Second, the book contains five warnings of the danger of falling away from the faith. Chapter 10 concludes this section of the book by discussing the perfect results of Jesus' priestly work. I want to give credit to my former professor at seminary, Dr. Michael Morrison, whose exposition of this section of Hebrews I am quoting throughout. Heb. 10:1-2 1 The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming-not the realities themselves. For this reason, it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. 2 Otherwise, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins The law was not effective Verse one begins with a conclusion: The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming - not the realities themselves. This conclusion follows chapter 9, which sketched the rituals of the Levitical high priest and stated that Jesus did far better, offering a perfect sacrifice (himself) in a perfect place (heaven). The Levitical rituals had to be continually repeated, but Jesus' sacrifice was fully effective and therefore did not have to be done again. Just as the tabernacle was a copy of the true holy place in heaven (8:5), so also the rituals were copies or shadows of the real sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The tabernacle and its rituals (all included in the word "law") represented good things but could not bring them about. The law talked about cleansing and forgiveness but could not cleanse or forgive. Are the "good things" already here, or are they yet future? The grammar in this verse could be understood in either way, but the previous chapter (Heb. 9:11) makes it clear: Christ is the "high priest of the good things that are already here." Forgiveness and cleansing and relationship with God are already possible through Jesus Christ, and the old covenant is obsolete because the new covenant has already been established. There are better things yet to come (9:28), but the author's stress in chapter 10 is on things that Christ has already brought. The law is only a shadow, not the spiritual reality. As it states in verse 1, For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. No matter how many animals were killed, no matter how much water was used, the law could never achieve the forgiveness that the new covenant now offers. The word "perfect" can create unrealistic ideas. Faith in Christ does not make people morally perfect. We still sin, and we still fall short of what we ought to be. The Greek word could also be translated as "complete," and this may be a better translation. We are completely forgiven by Christ, completely cleansed, and therefore perfectly qualified to worship God, perfectly able to have a relationship with him. God has gotten us to the place where he wants us to be. The context shows what the author has in mind: the removal of sin (v. 4) and a cleansed conscience (v. 2), so that we can approach God to worship him (v. 1b). The author seems to view all of these as the same basic concept. The old covenant could picture forgiveness but could not achieve it. If the law could qualify the people for worship, then there would be no more need for sacrifices. If the sacrifices could achieve what they pictured, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins" (v. 2). The logic is this: If the sacrifices completely prepared people for worship, then further sacrifices would not be needed. The people would no longer have a guilty conscience and would not feel any need to offer sacrifices (at least not sin offerings). The law was inadequate, and the author implies that the new covenant gives what the old could not: a cleansed conscience. Through faith in the effectiveness of Christ's sacrifice, we do not feel guilty. Rather, we feel forgiven, have a cleansed conscience, and accepted by God. Rather than being excluded from the holy place, we are invited in. Heb.10:3-4 . 3 But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins. 4 It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. The author then summarizes the argument against the old covenant system: The sacrifices, instead of cleansing the people, are an annual reminder of sins, because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins (vs. 3-4). A physical substance, such as blood, cannot remove a spiritual stain. The old covenant was designed to picture forgiveness, not to actually bring it. The Old Testament followers of God were forgiven their sins, of course, but it was done on the basis of faith and God's grace, not because they had paid a big enough price or earned it. Forgiveness was available, but it was not through the old covenant. The sacrifices had a shadow of forgiveness - they spoke about forgiveness and they pictured forgiveness - but they were not the way that forgiveness actually comes. Christ is the answer Heb. 10:5-7 5 Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: "Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; 6 with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. 7 Then I said, 'Here I am-it is written about me in the scroll- I have come to do your will, my God.' The author begins verse 5 with the word "therefore," meaning "because of what I have just said." In this case, we might paraphrase it like this: "Because the old covenant could not bring forgiveness, Christ came into the world and said..." and then follows a quote from the Greek version of Psalm 40:6-8: Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. Then I said, `Here I am - it is written about me in the scroll - I have come to do your will, O God" (Heb. 10:5-7). In this psalm, The author has found one of several Old Testament passages that foreshadow the end of the sacrificial system. He rephrases the psalm to emphasize his point, and he begins by giving the label "first" to a point that he will come back to shortly: Heb. 10:8-10 8 First he said, "Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them"-though they were offered in accordance with the law. 9 Then he said, "Here I am, I have come to do your will." He sets aside the first to establish the second. 10 And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And to make another point, he inserts an additional comment: though they were offered in accordance with the law (v. 8). The author is making a contrast between what the law required, and what God ultimately wanted.1 God gave the law not as a permanent ideal, but as a temporary system that would prepare the way for the reality, which is Christ. The old covenant law was not the final word on what God wanted. What did he want? Verse 9 says, Here I am, I have come to do your will. God wanted the people to obey him - but only Christ did it perfectly. The early church apparently understood this psalm as a messianic psalm because Jesus fulfilled its words in a way that no psalm-writer could. Then comes a powerful conclusion in verse nine: He sets aside the first to establish the second. What is the "first"? In the immediate context, it is sacrifices and offerings, but the writer has also used the word "first" five times to refer to the old covenant. The old covenant with its sacrifices and rituals has been set aside. And what has been established? The doing of God's will. The word "establish" was also used for covenants, and the word "second" was also used for the new covenant (8:7). The author is making a literary parallel here, using Psalm 40 as a miniature picture of the change in covenants. Because the old covenant could not bring forgiveness, Christ said, Out with the old, and in with the new! The new covenant has been established by the obedience of Jesus Christ. He is the answer to the deficiency of the old covenant. Verse 10 begins, And by that will... Whose will are we talking about - God's will, or Christ's willingness to obey it? It is not clear; perhaps the author left it ambiguous because both meanings are true. Since Christ conformed his will to the Father's, they had the same will. It is by God's choice, and by Christ's obedience, that in verse 10 "we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. We have been made holy - this is another way of describing the results of the new covenant. Our sins are removed, our conscience is cleared, and we are made holy, so we can approach God to worship. How is it done? Through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ - a sacrifice that involved both his will and his body, both his mind and his flesh. Further, we do God's will when we accept this as our means of sanctification. Jesus bridges the gap between heaven and earth, between spirit and matter, in a way that nothing else could. Only he could make an offering on earth that was acceptable in heaven. The flesh and blood of his body was no different than the flesh and blood of any other crucified man, but it was effective for our sanctification and our forgiveness because Jesus was perfectly obedient, because there was a perfect will in his person. We humans are both physical and spiritual, and we sin in the flesh and in the mind. The salvation that we have in Christ redeems our bodies and our minds, sanctifying both for true worship of God. We are not saved by a purely physical sacrifice, nor by a purely spiritual one. A physical body had to be willingly given, because the spiritual sacrifice had to be expressed in the physical world. In Christ, we are assured that we have been completely redeemed. His will and his body were given for us, and it was fully effective, once for all time. Perfect forever Heb. 10:11-14 11 Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. 14 For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. Our acceptance by God does not depend on the performance of rituals (either ancient or modern) - it depends on what Christ has already done, and it is therefore guaranteed. This is contrasted with the ineffective work of the old covenant priests: Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins (v. 11). Was it an exercise in futility? No, it was a picture, a drama that was worth repeating until Christ fulfilled it. But when this priest [Christ] had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God (v. 12). The Levitical priests stood while they worked; Christ is able to sit (figuratively speaking) because his work is now done. There will be more in the future (v. 13), but for now he sits, because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy (v. 14). The work of sanctification is done (v. 10), and it is still being done (v. 14). Christ is still working in our lives, but the work is based on the sacrifice that was done once for all time. He has completely cleansed us, made us qualified to be in God's presence. That does not change. Heb. 10:15-18 15 The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First, he says: 16 "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." 17 Then he adds: "Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more." 18 And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary. As evidence, in verse 16 he quotes Jeremiah 31:33 again, the prophecy of the new covenant: 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. This is the work now being done as we "are being made holy." Then in verse 17 the author skips down to the last part of Jeremiah 31:34: Then he adds: `Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more' . And he draws this conclusion: And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary (v. 18). This is the grand finale: Our sins are forgiven; there is no need for sin sacrifices. To us, this may seem a minor point, an anticlimax, something we take for granted. But to the author, this is a major point, the point he has been hammering away at for four chapters. The sacrificial system is not needed any more. The old covenant has been set aside. It never was effective, and Christ has set us free from it. Apparently, the audience of Hebrews found the sacrificial system attractive. It was a God-given pattern of worship, and the people saw no reason to give it up. Even if God allowed other forms of worship, wouldn't it be better to stick to the original plan? Wouldn't this assure us that we were doing something that God likes? No, the author is explaining. God does not necessarily like now what he commanded centuries ago. He didn't like it in Jeremiah's day, or when Psalm 40 was written. The law was good for a time, but its time is past. In the early church, when Jewish people first believed in Jesus as the Messiah, many of them continued to participate in the temple rituals, either in person or through the offerings collected in the synagogues. At first this seemed harmless, and the people were allowed to continue their customs. However, as time went on, it became clear that the rituals were a competitor to Christ. They were an enemy of faith. People were looking to the rituals for assurance, rather than to Christ. In their minds, their relationship with God was based partly on their participation in the rituals. They probably thought, Doesn't this make us more obedient, more pleasing to God? Even if the laws were optional, wouldn't it be better to continue them? And, aren't those who continue better than those who don't? The rituals could easily lead to judgmentalism. So the author argues, chapter after chapter, that the rituals are obsolete imitations. This is not the better way - this is the inferior way. Rituals do not achieve anything. Our standing with God is based on what Christ has done, and he has set aside the old covenant. Throughout the book, Christ is compared to various aspects of the old covenant, and Christ is always better. Does the author want his people to participate in the sacrifices and rituals? Probably not. Does he command them to quit? No, not directly, but he probably wants them to come to that decision themselves. What he does command them is to look to Jesus. Old covenant rituals are ineffective. They are shadows - copies. Jesus is the reality, and he is fully effective. There is no need for obsolete rituals. They are not a badge of better Christianity - they are an unnecessary burden that can block our view of Christ. This advice is still true today. We need to encourage one another in the faith, and in doing good - "all the more as you see the Day approaching" (10:25). Christ will return, and we will be called into account for how we responded to his message, for what our focus was. He will "bring salvation to those who are waiting for him" (9:28) - and not just waiting but working in faith as well. Illustration (mortgage slide) Let me share a hypothetical situation that might help us to understand the enormity of what Jesus has done for you and for me. Suppose you receive a message on your voicemail Friday afternoon that the manger of the bank where you have your mortgage for $500,000 wants to meet with you at 9:00 a.m. next Monday morning to discuss your mortgage. You were laid off several months ago because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The bank agreed to defer mortgage payments for three months. But time is running out. Is the bank going to foreclose our property you wonder? Monday morning you attend at the bank and are shown into the manager's office. As you find a seat, he quietly closes the door behind you and sits behind his massive desk. After a few pleasantries he addresses you by name and hands you a large brown manila envelope. He explains that in the envelope you will find a package of papers confirming that your mortgage is completely paid and is discharged. You no longer have a $500,000 mortgage on your home. Your hand is trembling as you take the envelope and stammer out a question: How can this be possible? I haven't finishing paying the mortgage. The manager nods affirmatively and asks if you know Jim Pattison. Of course, you say, everyone knows Jim Pattison, the billionaire businessman who lives in this area. Well, says the manager, what you probably don't know is that once a year Mr. Pattison randomly selects a homeowner in the lower mainland and as an act of generosity pays off their mortgage. This year your name was selected, and he has paid your mortgage. After a few more minutes of conversation you stumble out of his office and can hardly wait to get on your smart phone and share this incredible news with your spouse. Now, of course what I have just described is a purely hypothetical situation. Mr. Pattison has a reputation as a generous benefactor but to the best of my knowledge he is not in the habit of cancelling peoples' mortgages. But if it were true, would you not feel an incredible sense of gratitude to Mr. Pattison? Application (young woman in Freedom of Forgiveness slide) But consider what Jesus has done for you. While you are listening to these words consider the sin debt you ran up before accepting Him as your savior. What sins is the Holy Spirit bringing to your mind? Perhaps it includes lying, stealing, and blasphemy when you used the name of God as a swear word. Perhaps you remember sexual sins from your youth. Maybe you slandered someone and coveted everything from your first bicycle to your first car and first spouse. But whatever comes to mind we can rest in Christ's perfect and complete sacrifice for our sins-past, present, and future. Jesus has done it all. We know that we can stand before the judgment seat of God with full assurance that the perfect sacrifice of Jesus, our Lord and Savior, has covered it all. If we would be thrilled at the forgiveness of our mortgage, that pales into insignificance compared to the forgiveness of our sins and entering into heavenly places by the grace of God. In a few minutes we will hear a beautiful hymn entitled Before the Throne of God Above but before we do let me share the words of verse two with you. I find the words incredibly encouraging and I hope you do too. <slide of young woman facing left> When Satan tempts to despair And tells me of the guilt within Upward I look and see Him there Who made an end of all my sin Because the sinless Savior died My sinful soul is counted free For God, the just, is satisfied To look on Him and pardon me. If you are already a follower of Jesus, rejoice in the reality that He has dealt with your sins for all time. If you are watching this message online and have not yet accepted Him as your savior, escape from the shame and guilt of your past is available. Accept him as your Lord and Savior today! Accept the perfect sacrifice that Jesus has made for you! Closing prayer slide Word Count: 37352 Est. time: 27 minutes 1 Jeremiah 7:22-23 has a similar contrast 2 Credit: Dr. Michael Morrison, Grace Communion Seminary whose exposition of Hebrews 10:1-18 is quoted extensively in this message. --------------- ------------------------------------------------------------ --------------- ------------------------------------------------------------ Hebrews 10:1-18 Christ's Perfect Sacrifice-Once for ALL Page 1 of 2 Keith M. Roberts0New Life Christian Fellowship013 Jun 20
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