Saturday, April 30, 2011

Huge wake up call to the churches of America

Hebrews chapter 10 starts out emphasizing, again, that the Law is a shadow of things to come:

Hebrews 10:1 For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near.

Hebrews 8:5 who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, "SEE THAT YOU MAKE ALL THINGS ACCORDING TO THE PATTERN SHOWN YOU ON THE MOUNTAIN."

Hebrews 7:19 (for the law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God.

Hebrews 9:9 It was symbolic for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience—

Then the writer quotes Psalm 40, twice, to bring home the point that God no longer desires their sacrifices and burnt offerings. This was confusing to me at first. I was thinking, “why did He have this sacrificial system if He didn't desire it?” So I checked on some commentary. John MacArthur says in his commentary that God no longer desired sacrifice and burnt offerings because He was making way for the New Covenant; the Final Sacrifice:

Hebrews 10:8-9 Previously saying, "SACRIFICE AND OFFERING, BURNT OFFERINGS, AND OFFERINGS FOR SIN YOU DID NOT DESIRE, NOR HAD PLEASURE IN THEM" (which are offered according to the law), 9 then He said, "BEHOLD, I HAVE COME TO DO YOUR WILL, O GOD." He takes away the first that He may establish the second.

Then the statement is made that must have sent the Jews in to a tail spin. I envision a scene where people have been so committed to their religion, constantly striving to gain God's approval; and along comes the Gospel of Jesus Christ saying, “It is all worthless, there is One Final Sacrifice by which we must be saved and there is NO OTHER WAY”:

Hebrews 10:10 By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

This sounds strangely familiar doesn't it? There are so many people convinced that their way is the right way. They don't really know why, but they have grown up in a certain church and “my parents brought me to this church so it must be right.” There is no doubt there are those in catholic churches across the world that are convinced it is the Truth, even though the catholic church has been shown to be a false religion over and over again. There are those in the ELCA wing of the Lutheran church loving what they hear and are equally convinced, although their doctrine contradicts Scripture. There are those in other churches, such as Jehovah's Witness and Church of Latter Day Saints (Mormonism) that are convinced they are the only ones with the Truth. There are billions of Muslims in the world that have grown up a certain way and through confusion and intimidation they will identify themselves as Muslims without really practicing their own self-proclaimed religion.

A common response from many people as they read a paragraph like the one above is, “yea, and you also think you are the one with the Truth.” The Truth is found in the Word of God and the evidence of Its validity is overwhelming for anyone who desires to make a sincere study of it. There is no doubt many have made an intellectual exercise of Christianity, and there has been no evidence to disprove the Bible. However, at the end of all the intellectual exercise there still stands a person equally condemned, unless they have been convicted by the Holy Spirit and born-again. There is no fleshly ritual or routine that will wash away sin:

Hebrews 10:11-12 And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God,

To enter the Kingdom of God we must be perfect. The problem is, with an honest assessment, it doesn't take long to figure out that we are all FAR FROM PERFECT. So, the question must be asked, how can I be made perfect? The answer is, only One Way; through the Blood Sacrifice of Jesus Christ:

Hebrews 10:14-17 For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. 15 But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; for after He had said before, 16 "THIS IS THE COVENANT THAT I WILL MAKE WITH THEM AFTER THOSE DAYS, SAYS THE LORD: I WILL PUT MY LAWS INTO THEIR HEARTS, AND IN THEIR MINDS I WILL WRITE THEM," 17 then He adds, "THEIR SINS AND THEIR LAWLESS DEEDS I WILL REMEMBER NO MORE."

How amazing is that!?!?! "THEIR SINS AND THEIR LAWLESS DEEDS I WILL REMEMBER NO MORE." As we discussed this week, we die once and then the Judgment. The last thing anyone should ever want is to face the Judgment Seat of God when He remembers your sins and lawless deeds. Yet, that is exactly what happens to those who are too proud and too in love with their sin to let the Blood of Christ wash away their sin so it is “remembered no more”.

Hebrews 10:19 Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus,

Hebrews 10:22-23 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. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.

In chapter 6 we looked at some terrifying verses; these next two verse can easily be added to the long list of terrifying verses of the Bible:

Hebrews 10:26-27 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.

Here's how the ESV translates:

Hebrews 10:26-27 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.

I have no doubt the the recipients of this letter were living much like many people do today. An attitude of “I'll sin and seek forgiveness tomorrow”. I know this is true, because that is exactly what I used to do before I got saved. An attitude of “live like the devil tonight and seek the forgiveness of God tomorrow, after all it's all about Grace.” There has been a mindset of, “it's easier to get forgiveness than it is to get permission”; read the Hebrews 10:26-27 again to see if you still think that. 1 John 1:6 makes the same point:

1John 1:6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.

For those that continue to preach GRACE, GRACE, GRACE without the rest of the puzzle in place; consider what the Word says about those that deliberately continue in sin; which the Word calls insulting the Spirit of Grace:

Hebrews 10:29 Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?

This should act as a wake up call to many, especially considering that many people with the GRACE, GRACE, GRACE attitude also have a confused opinion on how God will look at those that continue in sin, this verse should make it clear:

Hebrew 10:30-31 For we know Him who said, "VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY," says the Lord. And again, "THE LORD WILL JUDGE HIS PEOPLE." 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

We are to be obedient, faithful; we are to fight the good fight and keep the faith:

Hebrews 10:35-39 Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: 37 "FOR YET A LITTLE WHILE, AND HE WHO IS COMING WILL COME AND WILL NOT TARRY. 38 NOW THE JUST SHALL LIVE BY FAITH; BUT IF ANYONE DRAWS BACK, MY SOUL HAS NO PLEASURE IN HIM." 39 But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.

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