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Nothing But the Blood

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Nothing But the Blood

Hebrews 9:15-28
Introduction
Children may be dismissed to children’s worship. The rest of you please turn in your Bibles or on your device to Hebrews chapter 9. We are going to spend the morning in verses 15 through 28. If you were not here last week I want to encourage you to go on our website hopeofdixon.com or our audio podcast feed and listen to the message. This morning is a bit of a sequel to last week. It’s almost like part two.
For two thousand years, Christianity has been known as a bloody religion.
I can remember a man at one of the churches I served at named Jack Daniels. Not kidding, that’s his real name. His wife’s name is Jacquie. No lie. Jack would tell me stories about going to a little Baptist church in this small town and singing what he called “The Bloody Three.” It was three hymns that I think they sung together all of the time. I think it was What Can Wash Away My Sin, There’s Pow’r in the Blood, and There is a Fountain Filled with Blood. These and many other songs like them have marked Christian worship for many, many years.
In the last several years there has been a movement in more liberal circles to remove some of the more “uncomfortable” occurrences of blood and the theme of blood from some of the songs and verbiage in churches. This gives you an impoverished telling of the gospel. It’s not just important that Jesus died for your sin but it’s greatly important the way that Jesus paid for your sins. Al Mohler wrote that “…how Christ achieves our redemption more fully demonstrates the glory of God. We can’t honor, appreciate, and worship God for what he has done for us unless we understand what it cost to achieve our salvation."
In the first half of chapter nine, the writer of Hebrews explained that because of the new covenant and Jesus’s work of salvation, we who have trusted in Christ, having been called to Him, get full access to God.
We don’t have to go through a priest but can enter straight into the holy place where previously we would have been forbidden to go. Now we can go to God because we have a mediator who shed His OWN blood to seal this new covenant. That is what we are going to unpack a little more this morning. What did that inauguration of the new covenant look like and what did Jesus go through as our mediator. What did He purchase as an eternal inheritance for His followers?
READ
Hebrews 9:15–28 ESV
15 Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant. 16 For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. 17 For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive. 18 Therefore not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood. 19 For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, 20 saying, “This is the blood of the covenant that God commanded for you.” 21 And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship. 22 Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. 23 Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. 25 Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, 26 for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, 28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.
This is the Word of God. Let’s pray and ask God to help us believe, understand, and apply it to our lives.
PRAY
The book of Hebrews leads us through understanding the contrast between the old and new covenants. The writer was writing to a group of Hebrew Christians who were being pressured to drop their new found faith in Jesus and go back to the old covenant Jewish ways of religious ritual and celebration that were incapable to save. In fact, everything in that old covenant was pointing forward to the need for a better sacrifice and a better mediator. It all pointed to Jesus and was eventually fulfilled in Him. Verse 15 tells us that Jesus is the mediator of the new covenant. And His mediation ends up with us getting an eternal inheritance. A mediated, eternal inheritance.

I. A Mediated Eternal Inheritance

A. The Definition of Mediator

Mediator is an interesting word because of our modern use cases for it. We might lean toward thinking about this word in a different way than what the book of Hebrews uses it here. We think we know what the word means and assume that a mediator is someone who gets two people or opposing sides together and tries to work out a compromise or some kind of agreement between them. Example: world peace/conflict… This person looks for some common ground where they can come together.
The big problem in this case is that there is no common ground between a holy God and sinful humanity. A few years back I was teaching a Bible class at a high school and I asked the students where they would start in telling someone about God and specifically about his characteristics. Unsurprisingly, they started with God being love. They started by describing God as loving. And to be sure, He is love. But my instruction to them was that instead they start with the fact that God is holy. Because unless we understand our sin as offensive and separating us from a holy God we won’t see our need for a savior. We need to know the bad situation we are in before the good news will truly sound like good news to us.
Romans 3:23 tells us that we have all sinned. Romans 6:23 tells us that the wages of that sin is death. Sin can not be in the presence of a holy God. Sin must be judged and the wrath of God must be poured out upon it. So we either get the wrath of God for eternity OR we have a mediator that stepped in. Our mediator, Jesus, steps into the situation and agrees with God that our sin deserves infinite outpouring of His wrath. He agrees that our sin is ugly and He agrees with the Father that there is a sacrifice needed. As our mediator He puts Himself forward as the sacrifice for us, in our place. He mediates the relationship and reconciles us to God.
According to verse 15, those who God has called, the church, will receive a promised eternal inheritance. This happens because a death has occured, namely the death of Jesus Christ upon the cross. His death redeems us from transgressions committed under the first covenant. All of our sin and our war with God by breaking His commands was put on Jesus and He took the punishment for us so that we could have this eternal inheritance.
Let’s look into this idea of an eternal inheritance.

B. Our Eternal Inheritance

In verses 16 and 17 the writer of Hebrews mentions this illustration of a will when someone passes away and their inheritance is handed out to who is designated as the beneficiary in said will. The scripture says that the death of the one must be established for it to take effect. It’s not in effect while the person is still living. That’s why it was wild in the story of the prodigal son that the younger son went to his father and asked for his inheritance while the father was still living. It’s like he was saying, “I wish you were dead.” But that’s a story for another sermon.
The Greek word used here can designate a will. This is the legally binding final directions of the person who has died. It could also signify an ancient Near Eastern covenant. This covenant would have required a sacrificial animal in order to be put into effect.
Another place in Hebrews the word here is translated as covenant. Either of these understandings actually work because they both only come into force after a death has occured. The implication is that the new covenant and our eternal inheritance as followers of Christ was instituted at the time of Christ’s death. A death had occured and so the inheritance would be passed on. The covenant had been sealed by the sacrifice. We therefore have the inheritance of the present and future benefits of Jesus’s saving work. Our present benefits are sanctification, relationship with God, prayer, service, sharing the good news with others, and unity with the body of Christ, the church. We have these in addition to eternity with God in heaven and these are guaranteed for those Jesus has saved.
That guarantee of our eternal redemption and inheritance was sealed with the blood of Jesus Christ because the old covenant blood of animals was not sufficient. It had to be continually offered. We needed a better blood.

II. The Necessity of A Better Blood

The old covenant did not completely solve the problem of sin in the world. People still committed sins under the old covenant. The blood of animals was not enough to take away the sin of people permanently once and for all time. Blood still had a very prominent place in the old covenant. Verse 18 tells us it was inaugurated with blood. The reference here would likely remind the initial audience of what we see in Exodus 24:4-8.
Exodus 24:4–8 (ESV)
4 And Moses wrote down all the words of the Lord. He rose early in the morning and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel.
5 And he sent young men of the people of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen to the Lord.
6 And Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and half of the blood he threw against the altar.
7 Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it in the hearing of the people. And they said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.”
8 And Moses took the blood and threw it on the people and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.”
The entire sacrificial system was pointing to the cross of Calvary where Jesus died as the ultimate sacrifice which inaugurated the new covenant. Just as Moses doing this with the people inaugurated the old covenant.
Blood demonstrates the costliness of sin. As the animal would have been slashed and the blood would have drained out of it the Israelites would see it as the life leaving the animal. Sin costs something. Someone has to pay for it. It will either be you or Jesus on the cross in your place.
But thank God that He provided the final and sufficient sacrifice in Jesus Christ!

III. The Sufficiency and Finality of Christ’s Sacrifice

Last week I talked about the furniture in the tabernacle and how they were but a copy and shadow of the heavenly holy place. The copies of heavenly things had to be purified with blood. They were a copy and a shadow of heavenly realities.
v. 24 Christ entered the heavenly place made by God not man
He entered by His own blood
Appears in the presence of God on our behalf
Once and for all - not repeatedly sacrificed
At the end of the ages
To put away sin by the sacrifice of himself
John Calvin wrote, “Moreover, this passage warns us that we receive God’s promises only when they are confirmed by the blood of Christ. All God’s promises are Yea and Amen, as Paul testifies in 2 Cor. 1:20, only when by the blood of Christ they are inscribed on our hearts as a seal; for, we hear God speaking to us only when we see Christ offering himself as a pledge in what is said to us. If we could only get it into our heads that the Word of God we read is written not so much with ink as with the blood of the Son of God; or that when the gospel is preached, his own blood is poured with the voice we hear—we would pay far more attention and that with far greater reverence. The sprinkling spoken of by Moses was a symbol for the reality which we have just explained.”

Conclusion and Call for Response

Our great inheritance
It’s not two sided. A will is given unilaterally from the one leaving the inheritance. It’s a take it or leave it proposition. You don’t get to negotiate the terms. This is a sovereign expression of the will of God.
Jesus brought us near to God. Gives us full access to God and relationship with Him.
The pressure facing the Hebrew Christians to go back into their old religious ways. It may have appealed to them because it was known to them and probably easier than facing persecution for following Christ. Yet the author of Hebrews presents to them verse after verse of reasons why Jesus is better and you don’t need those old covenant ways because Jesus fulfilled the old covenant and sealed the new covenant with His blood.

RELIGIOUS PRACTICES WITHOUT HEART CHANGE DO NOT REDEEM

All of the blood of animals and ritual was not enough to redeem the people eternally. Only the blood of Christ would do. The ritual was external. They problem was the heart of people. The problem is our heart. Sometimes we try and save ourselves or make ourselves more presentable to God by doing more and more. We try all kinds of things because it seems too simple for us to just say, Jesus has sealed it. It’s harder to trust than to do, even though we know our doing will never be perfect and is not good enough… yet we still try because we find it easier to “do” religious ritual instead of trusting Jesus.
Guarantee of Jesus’ return. Christ will return for those eagerly waiting for Him. He will return for His church.
What does that say about what we should be doing? Not sitting in a bunker with a bunch of canned food and rifles. We must be serving God. We must be sharing this hope with as many people as we can because the days are evil.
WE should be living every day as if it could be our last and as if it could be THE last.
Build our lives on the gospel and not on material things or activity. Look, there are things that we as followers of Christ should be doing. We should be coming to church to worship with our brothers and sisters, we should be giving, we should be making disciples… but that stuff is not what saves you. It’s only by the blood. That is life changing.
What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus; What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus. Oh! precious is the flow That makes me white as snow; No other fount I know,   Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
For my cleansing this I see— Nothing but the blood of Jesus! For my pardon this my plea— Nothing but the blood of Jesus!
Nothing can my sin erase Nothing but the blood of Jesus! Naught of works, ’tis all of grace— Nothing but the blood of Jesus!
This is all my hope and peace— Nothing but the blood of Jesus! This is all my righteousness— Nothing but the blood of Jesus!
PRAY
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