Our text begins with the word “therefore.” Now in the Greek, this word points backwards to the teaching that has gone before. In other words, “in light of this teaching,” these following things are true. The writer had carefully built a case that Christ is the Superior, once-for-all sacrifice, and the superior high priest who has abolished the old priesthood. Now listen. In our text for today, there are two great propositions that are a summary of this teaching. There are two great propositions, and then based on these two propositions, there are five exhortations.
Since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place
1. Listen, my friend. This is more than just an invitation to Sunday School. This is more than just an invitation to a Church Service. This is more than just an invitation to superficial Bible Study. This is an invitation to the very presence of God. You may ask, “could a sinner like me ever be welcomed into the Most Holy Place.” This text gives you two reasons that you can confidently enter the Most Holy place. 1) the blood of Jesus, 2) the body of Jesus. Notice that neither of these things have anything to do with what you have done. They both refer to what Jesus has done.
a. The Most Holy Place is a reference to the “Tabernacle, or the Temple, [which] represented God’s special presence, and only the high priest could enter there once a year.” (MacArthur, Hebrews, p. 260). This was on a day known as Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. On this day, the High Priest would enter the Most Holy Place with a blood offering to atone, or cover over the sins of the people. This was not a day of confidence, though. The Scriptures reveal to us that the high priest would tie a rope around his ankle and would place bells at the bottom of his garment before entering the Most Holy Place. The bells would ring as the priest would move about performing his priestly duties behind the curtain that separated the Most Holy Place from the rest of the temple. If the bells stopped ringing, the other priests would know that God was not pleased with the sacrifice and had struck the high priest dead. The priests would then extract the dead priest from the Most Holy Place with the rope that was tied around his ankle. Surely this is not representative of confidence.
b. But the writer of Hebrews says, “Since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy place…” But now, notice that this invitation is not just open to the High priest but to the priesthood of all believers. If you have asked Jesus Christ to be the Lord and Savior of your life, you are no a pauper, you are a priest.
c. 1 Peter 2:9 says, “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
d. As a follower of Christ you are a priest that has access to the very presence of God. But notice that unlike the OT priest that entered into the presence of God by the blood of a goat, you, NT priest, enter by the blood of Jesus (Heb. 10:19).
i. Jesus’ blood opened the door for you to have access to God Himself. The presence of the Father is the privilege of the priest.
ii. If the blood of Jesus has cleansed you from the stain of your sin, you are privileged as a priest to participate as a priest in the presence of God.
iii. “The blood of Jesus Christ, however, counts for everything, and the person who trusts in His atoning work can come with complete boldness before God, claiming all the blessings and promises in His Son. We can come expecting mercy and grace, (Heb. 4:16) rather than justice. For if God gave us justice, He would have to condemn us, because this is what we deserve. But Jesus, through His shed blood, satisfied God’s justice in our behalf, so that we can now claim God’s mercy and grace. God cannot condemn us who are in God’s grace.” (MacArthur, 260)
e. Not only is the by the blood of Jesus, but verse 20 says we can enter the presence God by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body.
i. The word “new” used in verse 20 is used only one other time in the NT. Originally, the word meant, “freshly slaughtered.” “Jesus is the new way, the freshly slaughtered sacrifice which opens the way to God. It seems contradictory that the freshly slaughtered way would also be the living way. But Jesus’ death conquered death and gives life. His death is the only way to life that is everlasting” (MacArthur, 261)
ii. On the Day of Atonement, the High Priest would take the blood of the sacrifice toward the Most Holy Place. Just before the Most Holy Place there was an enormous curtain that separated the Most Holy Place from the rest of the Temple. Only the High Priest could enter with the blood of the Sacrifice.
iii. In Luke chapter 23:44ff, you can read, “It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.’ When he had said this, he breathed his last.”
iv. The veil has been rent. The curtain has been torn asunder. The line of separation has been removed. Just has His flesh was torn, so too was the curtain torn!
v. And now, through His body, Christ has opened the Way to experience the presence of God.
2. Why do you come to church?
a. Draw near to greater cognizance?
b. Draw near to a cleaner conscience?
c. Draw near to God’s presence? I don’t want a church with just a higher intelligence, or a just a church with a cleaner conscience; I want a church seeking God’s presence. Listen to the promise of our Savior, found in Mat. 18:20, “For where two or three come together in my name, there I am in the midst.”
d. It doesn’t say where two or three are (PERIOD)…that could be a ballgame, or a bridge match, or a ballroom. It says where two are three come together…This is the verbal form of the word “synagogue.” It means to congregate or assemble together.
e. “When two or three congregate or assemble together, in my Name…” Remember my definition of what a church is from last week? “A local assembly of baptized believers, covenanted together, before God, practicing two ordinances (baptism and the Lord’s Supper) with two offices (pastor, and deacon). Notice that this assembly is covenanted together before God. That means that the assembly has gathered together in God’s Name.
i. Now assembling in God’s Name doesn’t mean that it is “a church” just mentions the name of God somewhere in its service.
ii. It doesn’t mean that there are just a few songs about God.
iii. It doesn’t mean that there is a few references to the Word of God
iv. It means that in all things, Christ is Preeminent. Christ has the First Place! Christ is the Center! And that the preaching of His Word is the Priority. That His Word is the sole source for the faith of the church, and the practice of the church.
f. Today, we have assembled together in Christ’s name. We have sung songs of worship, we have given of our resources, His Word is being proclaimed, and that means He is Here!
i. Don’t come to church just to get smarter
ii. Don’t’ come to church just to satisfy your social needs
iii. Come to church to experience the very presence of God that is so powerful when His priestly people assemble together.
Since we have a great priest over the house of God (Heb. 10:21)
1. The first proposition was, “since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place,” but the second proposition is, “since we have a great priest over the house of God.”
2. I would like for you to here the words of the Reformer John Calvin, from his commentary on this verse: “All the things that he has previously said about the abolition of the old priesthood are now to be brought back to mind. Christ could not be a high priest unless the former priests were divested of their office since theirs was a different order. He means therefore, that all those things which Christ changed at His coming are to be let go. He sets Him over the whole house of God so that whoever wishes to have a place in the Church must submit to Christ and choose Him and no other as his leader and ruler.”
• This church is not about the man in the pulpit
• This church is not about the membership in the pew
• This church is about the Messiah, the Great High Priest
1. Bow your knee to no other. Pledge your loyalty to no other. Today, declare your declaration of dependence to Him. Today, pledge your allegiance to the great priest who is over this house.
a. This is not your house
b. This is not my house
c. This is God’s house, and He will not be satisfied with second place!
Based on these two propositions, the writer of Hebrews offers 5 exhortations. Since both of the propositions are true, the five exhortations are equally true.
1. let us draw near to God (10:22)
a. with a sincere heart: “This calls for genuine devotion rather than hypocrisy” (Holman NT Commentary, vol. 10, p. 186).
b. in full assurance of faith: this means that your commitment is genuine
c. having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience: this is a beautiful picture of deliverance from sin and condemnation. “When Jesus died, His blood removed our sins, and when we embrace Him by faith, our conscience becomes free from guilt…” (MacArthur, p. 263).
d. having our bodies washed with pure water: listen, “having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience” refers to the inward change that takes place at the moment of our salvation. “Having our bodies washed with pure water” refers to baptism which is the outward demonstration of that inward change.
2. let us hold unswervingly to the faith we profess (for he who promised is faithful) (10:23)
a. “Unswervingly denotes an object which stands absolutely straight, not departing from the perpendicular. We are to lay hold of Christ and never let go, even in the slightest.” (Holman, 186).
b. When persecution comes, hold on!
c. When tribulation comes, hold on!
d. When temptation comes, hold on!
e. When persecution, tribulation, and temptation come, the temptation is to take your eyes off Jesus and place them on yourself. But remember, the focus of this passage, and the focus of human history is not you, it is Jesus. The focus is not on your experience, but His presence in your experience, for “he who promised” to carry you through persecution, to strengthen you in tribulation, and not abandon you in temptation is TRUE.
f. “God’s answers may seem to be a long time in coming, and our waiting may be uncomfortable or even painful. But He will always do just as He has said He will do.” (MacArthur, 267)
3. let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds (10:24)
a. The word translated “spur” here, can literally mean to stir someone up. “It can be used in the negative sense of stirring up disagreements,” or in the positive sense, as in here in verse 24 (Holman, 194).
b. Why is it that the church is so good at stirring up disagreements and so bad at stirring up love and good deeds? I think I have the answer. Because too many people would rather focus on themselves than they would focus on to God. If you fail to draw near to God, you will find yourself unable to draw near to each other.
i. If you have a broken marriage, draw near to God so that you might draw near to your spouse.
ii. If you have a fractured relationship, draw near to God so that you might draw near to your friend.
iii. Draw near to God, draw near to your neighbor, and stir up love and good deeds in them.
4. let us not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing, (10:25)
a. Drawing near to your neighbor is not always as easy as drawing near to God. In fact, there are many people who have given up on the church all together. Frustrated with hypocrisy, filled with hurt, and fighting against hate, many people think it is just better off for them to stay home each Sunday. The Greek word for “give up” has behind it the idea of desertion or abandonment. Don’t abandon the assembly. We don’t assemble together because we are perfect, we assemble together because Christ is perfect.
b. One of the most successful tactics the devil is using today is to use believers to hurt other believers so that the hurt believers have an excuse not to go to church. Instead of deserting the assembly, how about determining to do your part to make this assembly all that God would have it to be? Instead of walking away from this assembly, how about working to make this assembly all that God would have it to be.
c. “Regular fellowship with believers is an essential ingredient in Christian growth” (Holman, 187). There is no NT precedence for you growing in isolation.
d. Some people have allowed every other habit to enter into their life except for being a part of the regular assembly. I hear all the time about the business of life.
e. Usually, when life gets to busy the first thing to go is church. There is time for work and play and ball games and social activities but no time for church. “Since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place and since we have a Great Priest over the House of God, let us draw near to God!” In view of the suffering and sacrifice of your Savior it is time for some of you to repent of your perverted priorities and your misguided missions. It is time to cast off the bondage and burden of busyness and draw near to God! Cut out the dead weight! Cut out the selfish habits! Cut out the sinful hindrances!
f. If you have chosen to make this assembly your church home, you have a responsibility to this body. When you fail to make corporate worship a priority you are not the only one who misses out! When you are not here, the body is not complete. Not only am I not able to minister to you when you are not here, you are not able to minister to me or the other members of the Body.
5. let us encourage one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching
a. The final exhortation is to encourage one another. The word for encourage hear means “to call to, or speak to, or persuade.” To be able to speak to someone, you must be in contact with them, and develop a relationship with them. You must know how God is working in their life, and involve yourself in their development.
b. People are more isolated then ever, but the writer of Hebrews says that as the Day of judgment approaches, he says it is even more important for your to draw near to each other.
In these last days, you must draw near to God.
Practice the presence of God. Pursue the presence of God.
Proclaim the presence of God.
But not only must you draw near to God, you must draw near to your fellow believer.