Hebrews 11:1-12:3

[Running the Marathon. To be truly human means to be in a race in this life.]

Chapter 12, verses 1-3 tells us we are in a race.  Everyone in chapter 11 has run the race before us (we’ll come to them). And in chapter 12 verse 2 we learn that Jesus also ran and completed the race So now, 12:1

since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

 

We’re in a race.  The Christian life is not a cup of tea and a nice sit down, it’s not a kickabout with mates or an aimless ramble or a gentle stroll or even a jog in the park.  It’s a race.  

 

And it’s a long race. an ultra marathon. v1 says run with perseverance.  Verse 2 says that when Jesus ran it, it was all about endurance.  Verse 3 says the same thing,   The Christian is in a LONG distance, seemingly unending marathon.  And the great danger is, chapter 12:3, that we hit the wall: that we grow weary and lose heart.

 

That was the danger for the Hebrews.  Look back to the end of chapter 10.

v35 do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.

 

They had started with confidence but they were in danger of throwing in the towel. The writer says keep going. Hang in there for the long haul. Endure. Cos this is a marathon.

 

And so in these closing chapters the writer to the Hebrews is seeking to inspire perseverance in these Christians.

Are you flagging in your zeal?  In danger of losing heart and growing weary?  These chapters are for you.

 

And what the writer does in chapter 11 is to show how the believers of old ran the race.  You’re not the first to run this race – many before you have run it.  

And how did they run it?  They ran it By faith.

 

That’s the phrase repeated 24 times in chapter 11 – by faith Abel, by faith Enoch, by faith Noah, by faith Abraham, by faith every other hero of the OT you could care to mention – they all ran the race by faith.  By trusting the Lord.

The Christian life is not a race for great performers, for great doers, for great workers.  The Christian life is a race for the trusters, the believers, the people of faith.

And that’s the way it’s got to be if we remember what Hebrews is all about.  Remember it’s all about how “God has said everything that needs to be said and done everything that needs to be done, through His Son, to bring us to himself.”  God has done it through Jesus.  He has DONE it.

So Jesus doesn’t say “It’s up to you. You do it.”  He says “I’ve done it all. You, Trust me.”  Jesus has been the perfect sacrifice for sins, the perfect priest representing us before God – He’s done everything to bring us to God and sat down on the throne of heaven, job done.  So He’s not looking for our work.  He’s simply looking for our trust.

 

And so when we read through Hebrews 11 we don’t see Heroes of morality.   We see Heroes of faith.  There are all sorts in this list. There are the famously good – v5 Enoch, who walked with God and never faced death.  But there’s also the famously bad, v31 – Rahab the prostitute! And Enoch’s a hero not because he was famously good and Rahab is a hero in spite of the fact she was famously bad.  They’re both only considered heroes because “by faith” – because “they trusted the Lord.”  And in between the very good and the very bad, there’s a real mixed bag in this list of OT fore-runners. (Mostly bad)

From v8 we read about Abraham, who did some good stuff, he also sold his wife into a foreign king’s harem…. Twice.  As did his son Isaac (v20).  Jacob, his son was a slime-ball deceiver, but he makes the list – v21, Moses (v23) was a murderer as was David (v32) who is listed there among an assortment of fools, cowards and bullies.

The race is run by faith.  Now this faith does inspire some incredible action in these guys.  And faith if it’s genuine faith, always does translate into action.  But the emphasis here is faith because God does not look for our works (Christ has given Him all the works He needs).  He looks for our trust.

 

 

What does this faith look like?  What does it mean to live by it? A few things 

V1 – it’s certain. 

faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

Last week my kids were on pathfinder camp - High ropes. Jump and catch rope. Leap of Faith. Of course they were harnessed in. 

Faith is never presented as a blind leap in the dark in the bible. On the contrary It’s stepping into the light.  You see Jesus in the Scriptures and you KNOW that He is the ultimate Sacrifice and the ultimate Priest. You know he is the strong harness who will hold you up and so you trust Him.  

 

V6 – Faith draws near joyfully

6 without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Faith is not simply believing THAT God exists, Faith believes God is a Giver, a Rewarder, Someone it’s GREAT to be around.Faith is a joyful drawing near to God because you know being in His presence is BRILLIANT.

 

 

v10 - looks forward. it doesn’t possess now

Abraham and his family lived in tents because v10 He was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

Look at v13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth.

and v39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. 40 God had planned something better

faith does not possess things now, it is a delayed gratification. It acts on the basis now that it looks forward to a future joy. The New Creation, the City that is to come. 

 

V26 – sides with Christ in suffering

By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25 He chose to be ill-treated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. 26 He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.

Think of all the privileges Moses had and could have kept if he’d remained with the Egyptians.  He might have become Pharaoh himself – the most powerful man on earth.  But no, Moses trusted in Christ, He trusted in the LORD Messiah.  But in every age trusting in Christ means siding with the Suffering Servant and being rejected by the world.

 

Finally faith experiences triumph and tragedy in this life:

Read with me verses 32-39 and watch out for the triumphs and then the tragedies:

32 And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. 35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again.  Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. 37 They were stoned; they were sawn in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and ill-treated– 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground. 39 These were all commended for their faith

In triumph they were commended for their faith, in tragedy they were commended for their faith.  That’s the thing about living by faith – there are no guarantees in this life.  there are triumphs that we don’t deserve and there are tragedies that we don’t deserve.  And it’s not because we’ve DONE anything right or wrong.  It’s just the nature of the race, and the Lord throughout says TRUST ME.  Even in tragedy the OT believers finished the race.  It’s long distance, there’s all sorts of hardship and all sorts of endurance required.  But there is a finishing line and it can be run.

 

And now as we come into chapter 12 the writer says “It’s our turn.”

We’re following in the footsteps of Noah and Abraham and Moses and David.  And he calls these guys a cloud of witnesses.  We’re not running alone.  The greats of the faith surround us.

 

When he says they’re a cloud of witnesses, he doesn’t mean that they are merely spectators of our race.  They’re not cheerleaders.  We’re not meant to get the idea of Moses and Noah in heaven with pom-poms singing “Giles, Giles he’s our man, if he can’t do it, no-one can! Giles!”  No! they are witnesses because they demonstrate to us that the race is runable.  We look to them, not by looking up into heaven to see their placards and messages of encouragement.  We look to them by reading the Scriptures and calling to mind how they ran and how they endured.

 

So as we run our race today, we might face losing out financially, or as these Hebrews had happen, our property is confiscated for following Jesus.  And we ask, how can I run the race when I lose out in possessions? – well, Abraham knows.  He shows me how to run in those circumstances.  Or we ask, how can I run the race when I get frozen out from friends and family?  – Moses knows.  He can show me.  Or how can I run the race when it means trouble from the authorities?  Daniel and his friends know – they were cast into the flames and the lion’s den.  And all these heroes of faith witness to us – And they say “the race is runable”.

 

And so the writer says, 12:1, let US run.  They’ve run with endurance.  Let usrun this race ourselves.  Now is our turn.  This isn’t King David’s time any more.  It’s our time.  This is our turn.  Let’s run.

 

And if we’re going to run, v1, for goodness sakes, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.

Every year in the London marathon there are those who wear fancy dress.  Why on earth would you want to run dressed as a womble or a giant peperami when it’s hard enough to run anyway?? Or what about the guy who “ran” the marathon in a 120lb deep sea diving suit complete with lead boots?? It took him 6 days!!

 

 

The writer says there’s stuff that’s tangling us up and we are in an ultra marathon here not just a 6 day clomp. Some of the stuff entangling us is out-and-out sinful.  Some of it is just a hindrance, not necessarily sinful but it’s a weight that doesn’t help you run the race.

What’s hindering you?  What sins are entangling?  throw it off and run. 

 

And look straight ahead.  Because, v2, there you’ll see Jesus.

2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

 

Here’s the incredible thing about our race.  The One who Authored the race – entered the race. The one who marked out the race for us ran it first. God the eternal Son. Jesus our saviour. he entered our world, he entered his race.  

 

And Do you know how Jesus ran His race? Exactly the same way that we do:  by faith! God the Son ran the race by trusting God the Father by the power of God the Holy Spirit.

do you see in v2 how He ran?  For the joy set before Him He endured the cross. that’s faith. Jesus believed something he didn’t yet have and it got Him through. Jesus looked forward to a future joy and so He trusted His Father even though He didn’t possess that future yet but instead He had to suffer and go through tragedy before the triumph.  Do you see?  Jesus had that faith that joy wins in the end.

 

What was that joy?  Well the joy set before Jesus was that through ENDURING THE CROSS He would save and cleanse and perfect you and me and One day He would enjoy our company with Him and His Father – face-to-face forever.  That was the joy set before Him and he calculated thatHis cross was worth it.  

 

What about us? Our cross will be worth it.  Because one day we will be IN on this joy.  One day Jesus will say

`Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.’  (Matt 25:34)  ‘Well done, good and faithful servant…  Enter into the joy of your Lord.’  (Matt :25:21)

That’s the joy set before you.  There is nothing that this joy won’t make up for.  Tortured?  This resurrection hope is worth it.  Sawn in two?  This joy is worth it?  Suffering hell on the cross – this joy is worth it.  There is nothing this joy won’t make up for.  And so the writer says “Fix your eyes on Jesus.”

and RUN by Faith. 

 

 

Let’s say verses 1-3 together as a prayer as we close:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

.

Hebrews 10:19-end

19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God.

 

Let us draw near to God 

 

Here’s the picture that Hebrews has been building up for us for at least the past 6 chapters.  The Most Holy Place was the dwelling of God Himself.  It was the centre of the OT tabernacle and in it was the ark of the covenant – the LORD’s very throne.

 

But of course the whole Old Covenant system kept the people away from God’s presence.  the great thick curtain, mentioned in v20 – it had guardian cherubim embroidered into it to remind people of the sword bearing angelic guards protecting the way back to Eden. Do you remember when Adam and Eve sinned they were expelled from God’s holy presence and God put cherubim with flashing swords - like throwing sword martial artsists to bar the way back in.  You are a sinner and God is holy, holy, holy.  There’s no entry through here.  Not unless you’ve got a great sacrifice and a great priest.

 

And that’s the thing that Hebrews is celebrating. v19 this whole system has been resolved. a once and for all and forever effective sacrifice - the blood of jesus, a new and living way opened for us - A new covenant. a great high priest over the house of God - jesus in Go’s presence eternally FOR US and the result is “Come on in!”  COME ON IN! 

It’s extraordinary.  Hebrews says, walk with CONFIDENCE into the presence of the Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord Almighty.  You could imagine the Old Testament priests appalled, running along behind us in their robes saying “You can’t go in there!  Are you even Jewish?”  “Nope” we say.

“And where’s your sacrifice, I don’t see a sacrifice.  And where’s your priest, you need a priest.”  And we say the blood of the LORD Jesus has been shed, is that a good enough sacrifice?  And He is our great High Priest, appearing for us in heaven right now, is that a good enough priest?  Yes it is and so we DRAW NEAR to God.

 

This command to draw near is repeated seven times in Hebrews.  It’s a major theme.  Christ’s sacrifice is the perfect sacrifice, His priesthood is the perfect priesthood, draw near with confidence.

And you think, well I can’t, can I?  I get tongue tied in the presence of earthly authorities.  I make a fool of myself in the presence of minor celebrities.  I feel small and awkward and ashamed in the presence of human greatness.  Can I really draw near?

Yes, v22 goes on:

draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.

There is a FULL assurance that comes from faith.  When we see Jesus, arms open on the cross, we see just how approachable He really is.  He assures we can draw near and we trust Him.  Not only that He sprinkles our hearts with His blood.  The blood of the OT sacrifices were sprinkled on external things to say “This sacrifice has outwardly cleansed these things.”  Christ’s sacrifice goes deep – it cleanses even our wayward and sinful hearts.  No more guilt – it’s all been laid on Jesus:  He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities.  The punishment that brought us peace was upon Him.  And by His wounds we are healed.  No need for guilt.  Christ has paid for it all, cleansed it all, removed it all.

And our bodies are washed with pure water.  In between the altar and the holy place of the tabernacle there was a massive basin where the priests washed before entering the holy places.  Jesus has taken us through that washing into God’s presence.  And for our part, baptism is the symbol of this deeper washing.  But as we stand before God no need to feel out of place, no need to feel uncertain, no need to feel guilty, no need to feel impure – Christ has cleansed us.  Draw near.

 

But what does that actually mean?  What does it look like to ‘draw near to God’?

In Hebrews 10 there are three important contexts we need to bear in mind as we draw near:

The holiness of God

The suffering of the Christian life, and

The need for community

 

 

  1. the holiness of God 

it is simply breathtaking that we are welcomed into the presence of God because God is so holy. so holy. We must have been made so clean. God is like this and that impresses upon the nature of our relationship with him. In Fatherly love he has poured out himself to make us clean, to make us his children. We may be confidently in his presence now but nothing has change about who he is. he doesn’t suddenly become God All Matey. No our Father is God Almighty

 

Those fearful verses in vv26-31 

v26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 

v29 speaks of punishent 

v30 of vengeance 

v31 It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

scary verses made even scarier if you think you are the person who can only expect judgement 

 

i’ve spoken with christians who have been crippled by the fear that they are damned because of ongoing sin.  Whenever I held out the grace of Jesus they would always come back to these verses and say “I’m keeping on sinning, therefore I’m trampling on the Son of God therefore I will be punished.”

Is that what these verses are saying?  Are they saying that too much sin will eventually mean you trample the Son of God and get judged.

 

Well look, it would be very strange if Hebrews was teaching that true Christians could lose their salvation.  Just look back a dozen verses to verse 14:

by one sacrifice Christ has made perfect for ever those who are being made holy.

Those being made holy are the Christians and Christ by His death has made them perfect FOREVER.  So unless this writer has completely changed his theology in the space of a dozen verses, this is not about true Christians who sin too much and end up in hell.

 

No v26 is not about any old perpetual sin. The context and the use of sinning as a verb in hebrews suggests that this must be the sin of rejecting Christ who is the one and only sacrifice for sins. v29 seems so make that clear - it’s a rejection of Christ and his saving death and the spirit who makes that available to us. 

The person who deliberately walks away from Jesus Christ and says of the cross and the Holy Spirit - what a load of nonsense 

As someone said to me at a wedding on Friday where i preached the gospel, ‘God and me we have an agreement, I don’t bother him and he doesn’t bother me’ 

That’s the sin that tramples on the cross and the Spirit. It’s the only unforgiveable sin - blasphemy against the holy spirit - because it is the rejection of the only means of forgiveness. 

 

It’s like a drowning man rejecting the one lifeguard who has swum out to save him - pushing him away, trying to drag him under with them. 

 

More than that it is the spurning of a lover isn’t it? God in love pours out his life to save the people he has made, the people who belong to him. He Gives his own son. Because he loves. and to have that love rejected, thrown back in your, I’ll stay with other lovers - it’s Deeply wounding, deeply angering. 

 

If anyone ends up in hell. They will do so having trampled hell bent over the crucified Jesus - his arms open but spurned.

But notice who God is. the lover of our souls is Holy Holy Holy - a furnace of burning purity. And you can draw near and be refined, be made holy, be made like him in love. 

 

So the first thing is Let us draw near to God - the holy God 

 

 

the second is 

Let us hold unswervingly to hope 

The context of the suffering of the christian life vv32-end 

 

the orignial recipients of the book of Hebrews have v32 been through a great conflict and suffering 

v33 they’ve experienced insult and perscutoin 

v34 some of them have beem imprisoned or had property confiscated 

 

have you ever experienced any of this in your christian life. 

the christian life brings troubles, persecutions. we are strangers in the world. if the world hated me, says Jesus, it will hate you also 

 

direct insult, persecution, imprisonment and violence is the experience of millions of christians today around the world. Nigeria, India, Iraq, Indonesia. churches and homes burned, lives lost..

 

how does anyone keep going as a christian in those sorts of circumstances?

how do you keep drawing near?

 

in the west we may not encounter violence and gross mistreatment as Christians but there is a kind of persecution - a withering derision and active sidelining of christian belief which has a deeply suffocating effect on our faith and perseverance. 

 

how do you keep going as a christian in those sort of circumstances? 

how do you keep drawing near when everyone is telling us that our faith is our silly hobby. 

 

and then there are the sufferings of encountering and fighting our sin which afflicts all Christians 

 

how do you keep drawing near 

 

2 things in the passage 

 

community and the future 

 

  1. community 

v33 they stood side by side with each other in suffering 

v34 they sympathised with those who were suffering 

= to co-suffer. suffer with 

they did suffering and struggle together as a community 

 

and 

2. they did it looking forward to the future 

v34 better and lasting possessions 

a remarkably tangible view of the future 

 

they could persevere when their possessions were confiscated or their homes burned down because they were looking foreward to a concrete future hope. The new creation. An inheritance kept for you. 

 

imagine if you have your books, your computer, your car confiscated, your home, church damaged, your reputation stripped away 

 

such a concrete view of a physical tangible perfect future hope. 

i have better possessions coming to me 

 

of this they were convinced v36 we will receive what he has promised

 

Jesus didn’t just promise persecution. he promised a new creation hope. lasting possessions and relationship with him 

v36 in just a little while …will come 

 

 

lovely name for Jesus ‘he who is coming’

who is Christ? he is he who is coming 

 

he is on his way, we will see him face to face  

our faith is not some laughable hobby. 

the future is Christ’s and we will inherit a whole universe with him 

 

 

3. context for drawing near 

let us not give up meeting together 

let us consider how we might spur one another on to love and good deeds 

 

the context of cimmunity 

drawing near to God happens in community 

 

i need to be thinking about you 

and about how i can spur you on to love Jesus and others and to good deeds 

and you need to be thinkiong about me and about how you can encourage me 

 

bevcaise i can’t draw near to God without you and you can’t draw near to God without me

we need each other 

we need to spur each other on and we need to be deliberate about it 

 

 

v25 we need to meet together and keep on meeting together 

 

because NOT meeting together is habit forming 

interesting. You might have imagined he’s say that meeting together can becoem a habit which it can 

but not meeting together can become a habit v v quickly 

 

haven’t you had that?

you miss splinter group or church because something comes up you can’t make it. it makes it easier not to make it the following week. 

 

these verses say please watch out. if you want to draw nearto God you must draw near to each other. we need each other 

don’t give up meeting together. 

it’s crucial ..because staying away can slide into drifting away which can slide into falling away

Don’t give up meeting together. 

 

let us 

let us 

let us 

 

who is the lord laying on my heart that i can encourage today?

 

 

 

as we come now to the service of the Lord’s supper 

where we celebrate that in jesus we have a perfect sacrifice 

a wonderful high priest 

 

let us draw near to the god who is holy holy holy 

let us hold firmly to the hope we profess in all the sufferings of this life 

let us encourage one another daily 

 

 

don’t stay away. with confidence draw near with sincere hearts. 

 

Hebrews 9

 

How do you deal with a guilty conscience? Some of the greatest works of art deal with the controlling power of guilt and shame, We think of Lady Macbeth in Shakespeare’s Scottish play. Or Raskolinikov in Dostoyevsky’s Crime and punishment. 

 

Guilt is very complex. 

There is such a thing as false guilt – we feel guilty but the shame is not our own – it’s been imposed upon us by others’ deeds. 

But there is also such a thing as real guilt – whether we listen to our consciences or not. It’s not just that we owe others when we wrong them. But when we offend others we also offend God.  We owe him. Guilt weighs upon us. How do you deal with a guilty conscience?

 

If you’re a Christian you are told that you are forgiven and yet shame and guilt can still consume and control. They can shape ongoing behaviours. They can make us doubt that we’re gonna make it. 

 

How do you deal with a guilty conscience. 

 

That’s the concern of our writer in chapter 9 of the book of Hebrews. 

We are guilty and we alone can never shift that human stain. But we are to take to heart that Jesus deals with our guilty conscience once and for all and forever by his blood.   

 

Our writer starts in vv1-5 by again, as he often does speaking about the first and original terms of relationship, or covenant, between God and his people.  

 

and the key thing was the tabernacle - this elaborate tent made to God’s instructions when Israel were in the wilderness and that later became the temple in Jerusalem. built to the same layout which was, v2,  

a curtain from the outside - that brought you into an outer room - the holy place and then a second curtain behind which was an inner room - the most holy place. God’s throne - the ark of the covenant - was in this most holy place. And God’s glory dwelt between the cherubim overshadowing the atonement cover. 

 

and v6 … priests entered regularly into the outer room to carry on their ministry. But v7 only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance.

 

only the high priest, only once a year, never without blood.

The worship of Israel was awash with blood. Every day animal sacrifices were made so that the people to continue in their relationship with God and the high point was this annual ‘day of atonement’ when the High Priest, representing the people, actually went into the presence of God carrying the blood of the sacrifice which he poured out on the atonement cover on the ark of the covenant. 

Graphically teaching that Guilty, sinful people cannot be in relationship with a holy God. The wages of sin is death. But the sacrifice dies in my place meaning that i can be cleansed and draw near - that i can be in ‘relationship..’

 

But of course it wasn’t really much of a relationship was it? 

Because of the offerings of all that animal blood, Once a year, one man could go in for a few minutes???  

The chasm between God and people remains enormous doesn’t it? 

 

Look at what Our writer says in v8: The Holy Spirit was showing by this that the way into the Most Holy Place had not yet been disclosed as long as the first tabernacle was still functioning. 9 This is an illustration for the present time, indicating that the gifts and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscience of the worshiper. 10 They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings—external regulations applying until the time of the new order.

 

The old tabernacle didn’t actually work because the sacrifices of animals didn’t actually clear the guilt of the worshipper. And the severe restrictions of any access into God’s presence made that abundantly clear. 

 

But 

 

But 

 

v11. It’s a huge But 

 

when Christ came …. everything changed. 

 

Jesus’s sacrifice of himself on the cross was the fulfilment of everything of which the worship of the tabernacle was only a picture, an illustration, a model..

 

look at the second half of v12 

and see that Jesus, our great High Priest, Jesus, doesn’t enter a room in a temple, year after year, with the blood of countless animals, only to stay for a couple of minutes 

 

no look end of v12 

 

he entered THE Most Holy Place

ONCE for all 

by HIS OWN blood, 

thus obtaining ETERNAL redemption.

 

he entered THE Most Holy Place

ONCE for all - 

by HIS OWN blood, 

obtaining ETERNAL redemption. 

 

4 incredible realities. Let’s look at each of them in turn..

 

  1. Jesus entered THE most holy place for us.

the writer to the Hebrews has been telling us that the tabernacle worship was only a model, a picture to look forward to the reality which is Christ. 

For a start God didn’t really fully dwell in the holy of holies in the tabernacle or the temple in Jerusalem. As if a building could contain the presence of God! If God had really fully been there in all his glory then the High Priest entering the holy of holies, carrying the blood offered for his own sins and the peoples, would have been blown away because the animal sacrifices being offered didn’t actually work, they didn’t remove guilt! The way into God’s presence was not yet open (v8) 

 

BUT Jesus’ sacrifice of himself on the cross for us really does work. Really does open the way for sinful human beings to be cleansed and to draw near, into the very presence of God!

 

v11 tells us that Jesus, having died and risen again went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands, that is to say, is not a part of this creation. 

or v24 Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence.

 

Jesus opens the way into the true heavenly thone room. 

The Lord God wants you in his presence. Do you know that about God?

 

Do you consider this that if you are a Christian you literally live your life in the presence of this holy God because Jesus has brought you there. 

 

we might be tempted to take this for granted. Or not realise it and fail to enjoy its privilege. The way is open. Jesus entered the most Holy place for us 

 

2. He did so ONCE FOR ALL 

We’ve just moved into a new home and a new bathroom had been put in prior to us moving in and …there are some teething problems. A tiny leak from the shower that drips down into the sitting room. Not great!  A lovely man called Lance has come to fix the leak. He comes and does some stuff and we rejoice on that day. But then the leak comes back. It’s happened about 3 times now and Lance will be back on Monday. 

 

The Jewish day of atonement was a bit like that! On that day the Israelites rejoiced because their sins were dealt with and the way into the Most Holy placed was opened! But it was just for a day, just for a moment. The very next day ..the leak was back. The sacrifices had to be repeated. Blood shed every day. The day of atonement year after year after year.. 

 

But Jesus’ sacrifice is different. It is once for all. v25

[Christ did not] enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. 26 Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.

 

Jesus’ death does away with sin completely, finally, once for all. 

Oh that our leak could be fixed once for all. 

But Oh that our sin could be forgiven, covered. It has been once for all! 

 

Which means there is nothing more to be done. There’s nothing that you or I contribute to our salvation. It was completed once for all before you were even born! There is nothing for you to do. 

 

Ill. imagine a painter gives you one of her paintings, framed and ready to hang in your house. And before you do so you precede to break open the frame and get a biro to add a bit of shading to the sky! 

 

Or imagine if you’re invited to a dinner party and the meal is served to you and you take it back to the kitchen to do a bit more work on the sauce

 

No - when you are given something that is finished, completed - The creator has laid down her paint brush, has removed his apron and said this cannot be improved on – it is not only needless but offensive to attempt your own contribution. 

 

we often do think that our contribution matters that God favours us when we are good and frowns upon us when we’re bad. But no, the gospel is not about us. It is all about God and his free grace towards needy undeserving sinners. 

 

We must humble our proud selves. And joyfully accept that No contribution is required.  

 

[Jesus] has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.

 

3. third thing to say. third part of v12 Jesus entered the most holy place once for all by his own blood

I’m a bit squeamish about blood. A few times i’ve gone for blood tests or given blood and i have to look away. Blood is meant to stay in the body! Blood coming out means life ebbing away. 

The book of Hebrews is full of blood. The worship of Israel was all about blood. The writer says in vv15-22 that some some contracts only become legal when there is a death - a will for example.  And all establishing of relationship between people and God, all God’s covenants required blood vv18-20 and all ceremonies in Judaism required blood to cleanse v21 because, end of the verse without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. 

 

our sins in the face of a holy God deserve death. the sacrifice of an unblemished animal provided a picture that another could die in my stead so that i could draw near, forgiven. The blood of a perfect substitute could cleanse me. 

Of course it’s only a picture, a ceremony: 

the death of animal - no matter how perfect - could never really take away human sin. It’s an animal.  

Neither could the death of another human truly take my place - we are all flawed, we all have our own sin to pay for. 

 

but what about the blood of a perfect human being?

 

 13 The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. 14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!

 

we all in our, selfishness, greed, lust, pride engage in acts that load our consciences with guilt - acts that lead to death. But the unblemished man, Jesus stands in our place and takes our death for us. the perfect substitute. he pays for our sin. his blood cleanses our consciences that, no longer separated, we may serve the living God. 

 

guilt and shame can control us 

Our enemy the devil – yes he is real – though defeated he still seeks to destroy faith and hope and joy and keep us in our sin.  He’s a master shame specialist. He loves to dig up all the stuff that we might feel ashamed of. He lies about God and his favourite words are ‘You are not..’ What are you doing in church? You are not good enough. Call yourself a Christian? Think God is gonna persevere with you? You are not gonna make it.  We believe his lies and guilt and condemnation can control us. If I think that I am a worm – I’ll behave like one. 

 

But Jesus speaks a different word to us. He says to us yes you have done wrong but I’ve paid. Yes you have failed, yes you’ve been a hyprocite. But I’ve paid. I have paid for all your sin - past, present and future. The Devil says ‘You are not…’ Jesus says ‘You are MINE.’ 

 

Jesus’ blood forces us to refocus our concept of God. Do we imagine God constantly wagging a reproachful finger at us? Is he constantly demanding that we strive to be better, do more, live perfectly? Does he fill us with anxiety and despair? This is not the God of the Bible. The God of the cross knows our weakness and frailty – why else did he die for us? The true God anticipates out inability to keep his standards by taking the consequences of our failure on himself. All of them – past present future.

 

Every one of us now must not be controlled by guilt because Jesus’ blood never fails us. 

 

Final thing from v12 

Jesus entered the most holy place once for all by his blood thus obtaining eternal redemption. 

 

Remember the High Priest on the day of atonement tip-toeing into the most holy place - never without blood. pleading the blood. ‘the substitute has died, please don’t kill me!’ pouring the blood on the atonement cover, the mercy seat and then getting out of there as quickly as possible. Only for a different priest, a year later to do the very same thing. Not exactly what you’d call access to God! it wasn’t. 

 

By contrast look at Jesus. v24 

24 For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, NOW to appear for us in God’s presence. 

 

Jesus, after his death and resurrection enters heaven itself to appear in for us in God’s presence AND HE NEVER LEAVES. He’s there now. 

 

7v25 says that Jesus is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.

 

Jesus constantly pleads his blood before the Father. Showing his nail marked hands. When I sin, jesus says I died for him.  When Ioffend God, Jesus says I bled for him.  When I am lost Jesus says, He is mine. 

 

He is our ETERNAL High Priest. 

There is never an end to his grace. 

 

How do you deal with a guilty conscience?

 

Hebrews 8 Nigel Beynon

What are we to think about our relationship with God?  if we’re Christians – how do we feel about knowing God?

Guilt - we say we’re forgiven but can have a sense God is disappointed in me – thinks less of me because of what I did last week. 

Expected change – well we know he wants us to live in a certain way - but can feel that means not being really me. He’s forcing into a mould that doesn’t fit. 

Insecurity - we can certainly feel God likes others more than me. That’s an easy one – some people are really in with him – whereas I’m on the edge.

Do you ever feel those sorts of things? Should we feel those things? What sort of relationship does a Christian have with God? 

I ask that because here our writer describes the relationship with God we’ve been given in Jesus – and we’re going to see it’s very very different to what I’ve just said. 

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Hebrews 5:11-6:20

What do we make of friends who belong to church, serve in remarkable way, who can speak of great Christian experiences, maybe they’ve even helped you in Christian life and been a real example to you – and NOW, they are nowhere spiritually.  They don’t call themselves Christians anymore.  They feel like they’ve out-grown it.  They’ve consigned it to the past.  

What do we make of that? What about Christians who fall away?

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Hebrews 4:14-5:10 

Do you think that we still need to go through a priest inorder to get to God? Do we need a human being to mediate for us our relationship with God? 

 

The Bible’s remarkable answer is yes! 

We need a priest. The question is which Priest. The Priest we need is the man - Jesus Christ - our great High Priest. He brings us to God and he is God towards us! 

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Prayer Luke 11.5-8  

Statistics show that all of us pray at some time. Some of us only pray occasionally when we are in a crisis. Others of us pray a little more frequently. But none of us would say we pray a lot. We are slow to pray. But why? If God is your father and you are his child why wouldn’t you come to God in prayer? There’s only one answer.

It’s the oldest lie in the world. The one that the serpent used in the garden of eden. A lie that runs deep. The lie that God is not good; that he’s mean and doesn’t answer our prayers. Our trials and sufferings and seeming unanswered prayers seem to back up the lie and so we feel that God says, 'No' alot.. And so we don’t pray. 

Jesus realizes this might be an objection to us praying and so in v5-8 he gives us a parable to motivate us to pray by seeing that God will answer when we pray because He must! 

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Prayer Luke 11:2-4

Prayer is a struggle – sometimes we don’t desire to pray, or our prayers seem to go unanswered so long that we lose heart. We don’t know how to pray. We don’t know what to pray.

Jesus gives us a framework for prayer. More crucially there are deep reasons to pray within the framework. Thousands of books written on prayer to help us pray. One of the most prominent recently was spiritual writer, Anne Lamott’s book on prayer entitled. Help, Thanks, Wow: The three essential prayers. 

Jesus’ pattern of prayer is a little different. And, good as Lamott’s writing is, Jesus’ is the pattern worth following. 

Jesus’ pattern is WOW, sorry, please  

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Prayer Luke 11:1-2

One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.’ [Jesus] said to them, ‘When you pray, say: “Father..."

Father

this is the foundation of all prayer. Father

Jesus doesn’t begin with whats or hows but with who.  If we are ever to truly pray it is not subjects or methods that we need. We need to know who it is that we are invited to pray to.. 

Father 

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Luke 10:25-37 

The only dynamic in the world that can motivate this kind of living and loving is Grace. 

In other words - You will never show radical mercy until you have received radical mercy. This is what Jesus is trying to teach the Lawyer here. And it’s what he would teach us. The power to show radical mercy springs from the heart understanding that you, yes you, have been shown radical mercy. You have been the recipient of radical grace, love, help. 

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Luke 10: 1-24 

Every disciple of jesus is given a message to publicly proclaim, to communciate urging everyone to believe it. 

This of course is an incredibly hot issue in our society - 

Anyone claiming that they have the Truth;  saying that their religion is superior and trying to convert people to it is considered at best arrogant and at worst dangerous. The divisiveness of religion is seen as a major threat to world peace. 

And to a certain degree - that fear is absolutely right. There clearly is a danger that religion and ideology can play into the negative human tendencies towards superiority and separation. looking down your nose at ’them’ can lead to the marginalisation of others which can in turn lead to oppression, abuse or even violence against them. 

Our modern society’s solution to this problem is to seek to control religion, to privatise religion and silence the religious. We as western Christians feel this pressure very keenly and largely we bow to it. We are silenced; we bow to the dogma that it’s fine to believe what you want to believe as long as you don’t try to persuade or convert anybody else.. 

But - as we shall see in a bit there are deep internal contradictions and problems with this dogma. 

We shall see in this passage that Christian disciples ARE messengers. It cannot be avoided.  We are 

sent on a Mission 

with a Message 

and yet it is our Motivation that will affect the whole way we go about our mission and ensure that we are never contributors to oppression or abuse of others ..

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Dethroning Mammon - Matthew 6:19-24

Money is a spiritual issue. The way we think about money and what we do with our money is unavoidably linked to our spiritual life and growth - to our happiness! Jesus said you cannot love both God and money. Whether you’re rich and you have loads of it or poor and you don’t have any, the love of money will suffocate your relationship with God. money. It’s a spiritual issue. 

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Luke 9:43b-62 James May

The future is largely unknown to us, as those of us who followed the Federer, Rafa final today are well aware. We can hope, and we can plan, we can expect, but we can never be sure what is going to happen. We only see life backwards, after the event. 

The question the disciples faced again and again in this passage was should they trust themselves and their ideas for the future, or should they trust Jesus and his plans. 

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Luke 9:28-45

Life, for the most part, is full of stuggles isn’t it? For many in our world right now their lot is extreme poverty and hunger or violence, war, persecution, homelessness and loss. Even if we do not find our selves in such desperate circumstances we all know what it is to struggle - often alone - with disappointments, deep sadnesses, unrealised dreams, broken or difficult relationships, emotional problems, mental or physical illness, addictions and compulsions. Life is full of pains and griefs. 

How are we to think about God and suffering?

Our tendency in our culture is to think that all should be healthy and painless and well. That should be what God would want for us and therefore as contemporary followerers or would-be followers of Jesus Christ when suffering comes we stop trusting that God is in control - he’s absent and we feel that he has abandoned us - He is silent. 

In this section of Luke’s gospel Jesus is teaching his disciples how they are to cope in the real world of spiritual struggle. He’s just told them that suffering is coming - that he - the Christ is going to suffer and die! and following him will mean sacrifice for them. But now he takes his 3 closest followers up the mountain to reassure them that he is always in control and that he is not silent. 

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Luke 9:1-27

There is something in the human spirit, i think, that longs for adventure. Even those of us who just want a quiet life need some sense of purpose and achievement. Most of us are inspired by stories of courage and espionage - spy missions and military successes, we’re exhilharated by the achievements of explorers and adventurers and sportsmen and women. It draws out some desire in us for the same. we might compensate for our lack of adventure by starting a business or taking up an extreme sport, going on exotic holidays, or more negatively having an affair or losing ourselves in online fantasy worlds where we can be the potent hero that we are not in the real world.

We can’t all be james bond but surely we can be heros just for one day? 

Could it be that this sense that we are made for adventure and courage and sacrifice and joy is within us because we are made to be disciples of Jesus Christ? Because as we shall see, the authentic christian life as Jesus presents it to us is a life lived on Mission; an adventure of radical service and sacrifice and joy.

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