Summary: The New Covenant is in effect the last and will and testament of the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ's redemption under the New Covenant saves even Old Covenant believers. No new sacrifices are needed!
Sixty–seven-year-old Tomas Martinez was living on the street in Santa Cruz de le Sierra, Bolivia, when he was approached by police officers who had good news for him. His ex-wife (whom he had abandoned years earlier) had died and had left him her fortune of $6 million. However, Martinez thought the police were there to arrest him for his drug and alcohol related issues, and he fled without hearing what they had to say. Local newspapers called him the “new millionaire paradoxically not knowing his fortune.” Martinez has never been located.
This is an odd example of someone who forfeited a fantastic inheritance because of an assumption that He owed a debt to society, yet unpaid, for his sins, rather than the truth that a great gift had been given Him, once and for all, that was free and there for the taking. You’ve got to wonder how such a gift might have changed his life. What a tragic story!
But it’s the same kind of error and terror that millions of people make every day in the spiritual realm. They think they owe, they owe, they owe, so off to church they go. They have been taught or they presume that they owe a great debt to God which they must pay through continual sacrifices in order for their sins to be forgiven and to be right with God. But all along, now for 2000 years, the Good News that they somehow refuse to hear or understand is that that debt was paid once and for all by a person who offers them an incredible inheritance both of the forgiveness of sins and as His heir in the Kingdom of God.
What I’m talking about is the Last Will and Testament of none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. By His death, by the shedding of His blood He inaugurated a New Covenant—a covenant that is the testament literally to His will—that at His death should be distributed to all who will come to Him in repentant faith both the forgiveness of sins and an inheritance as a co-heir of His in the Kingdom of God.
Yes, it’s a free gift. Yes, the debt for our sins has been paid once and for all. Yes, there is no need for further sacrifices to earn eternal life, either on our part, or on His. Repeated sacrifices, whatever they be, simply perpetuate the idea that a debt must be paid, rather than that a free gift has been given once and for all and is available for any who will apply through faith.
This morning we continue in Hebrews 9. We’re in the midst of a discussion addressed to Jewish Christians about why they should not abandon Jesus Christ and return to the Old Testament religious system that required repeated sacrifices of bulls and goats for the forgiveness of sins. The entire discussion has a broader application to anyone who would even think about falling away from faith in Jesus Christ. It also has great relevancy to anyone still enmeshed in any kind of religious system that insists that repeated sacrifices of any kind, or even supposedly of Jesus Christ, are still necessary for forgiveness of sins and eternal life.
The message is this: Don’t blow off Christ’s sacrifice. Don’t substitute any other sacrifices, or you abandon the only covenant & sacrifice that provides an eternal forgiveness & inheritance.
The writer to the Hebrews has just encouraged his readers to stick with their faith in Christ, noting that only Christ’s sacrifice on the cross cleanses us from sin. The sacrifices of the blood of bulls and goats was only a prefiguring, a foreshadowing of this ultimate sacrifice that would save us from our sins. Abandoning Christ would be returning to sacrifices that never really accomplished anything in cleansing the conscience of the worshipper.
And He provides yet another reason for persevering in the faith of Christ beginning in verse 15. He says not to blow of Christ, or His sacrifice because Jesus is the ultimate mediator, the ultimate priest of a better covenant that redeems even those believers who sinned under the Old Covenant. Yes, He’s saying that the New Covenant is the only covenant which is actually effective in saving people from their sins—that Christ’s death for our sins not only paid for the sins committed by believers who came after His crucifixion, but in retrospect, it also actually paid for the sins of believers who came before Christ’s death, people who followed God in the Old Testament were not saved by the sacrifices of bulls and goats offered back then. They were ultimately saved by the sacrifice of Christ which established the New Covenant as well.
Now verse 15 is a mouthful. Listen and follow along very carefully. “For this reason”—the reason being that only Christ’s sacrifice could really cleanse the conscience of the worship from the dead works or sins he had committed, “For this reason He (Christ) is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.