Hebrews 10:19-39 -- Jesus Is Better #14 -- Jesus Offers The Best Race

Introduction

  • When in a endurance race, there are ample opportunities to quit.
    • Various opportunities: injuries, irritations, fatigue (training), energy (nutrition), dehydration, or discouragement.
    • Today: Jesus is worthy of our confident endurance - 6 helps for our endurance.

19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God,

  • 19 Therefore: Words of conclusion, summary statements. But what is he making conclusive comments about?
    • 19-20 First, that we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh.
      • Jesus has made a new and living way to God by his blood and through his flesh.
        • Matthew 27:51 (ESV) — 51 And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom...
        • John 14:6 (ESV) — 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
    • 21 Second, that we have a great priest over the house of God.
      • Jesus is now our great high priest.
    • These two elements, which are a recap of the previous teaching of Hebrews, are mentioned as foundational elements to propel us forward in a resolute confidence and endurance with Jesus.
      • What should we do?

22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

  • 22 Draw near to God.
    • 22 With our hearts sprinkled clean: With positional security.
    • 22 And our bodies washed: With practical sanctification.

1 - Commune with God.

  • By this point in Hebrews, we ought to be certain of a Christian's radical access directly to God.
    • Hebrews 4:16 (ESV) — 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
    • Hebrews 7:19 (ESV) — 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 9:14 (ESV) — 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.
  • You are clean (true heart / full assurance / hearts sprinkled clean / bodies washed), so you can approach God with holy boldness.
    • We don't have to appear to be anything more or less than we are with him.

23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

  • 23 Hold fast the confession about Jesus, who he is and what he's accomplished for us.
  • 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.

2 - Stir up and meet with one another.

  • 25 Instead, we are called to meet together and be encouraging to one another.

    • We are told that the church is shrinking because of the rise of a new-atheism. But many statistics point not to a rise in unbelief, but a rise in belief without belonging to something.

      • Nearly everyone agrees with this statement: "Organized religion is bad, personal spirituality is good."

        • "It's not a religion, it's a relationship." -- But what do you mean by that statement?
        • But is this true?
      • Our culture prefers networks and loose affiliations, while feeling uncertain and untrusting of institutions.

        • "An institution is a social mechanism where life-giving human activities can be nurtured and protected and sustained. Some aspects of life should be unscheduled, spontaneous, random. But not all of life should be. What an institution does is structure a desirable experience, so that it becomes repeatable on a regular basis. Institutions are not a problem...An institution is meant to enrich life." -- Ray Ortlund, Is Your Church An Institution?, The Gospel Coalition (https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/ray-ortlund/is-your-church-institution/)

        • 25 As is the habit of some: Many have succumbed to the spirit of the age by personalizing and customizing their Christianity, rejecting the importance church commitment.

          • It is impossible to live the Christian life alone.
            • Because of all the ways we are called to love one another.
            • But also because we are too easily discouraged and dissuaded from Christian doctrine.
    • How can we meet together?

      • 5 suggestions -- Sunday gatherings, small groups, prayer meetings, serve teams, and discipleship groups.
  • 25 When you get to know other believers in the community of faith you are more easily stirred up to love and good works.

    • Because the examples around you speak volumes.
    • Because the words you'll hear help refocus you.
    • Because a safe and loving community fosters creative risk.
      • You'll say, "So what if I fail at my attempt to love and do good works? I am in a loving community. They will love me even if I do not succeed."

26 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.

  • 26-27 The person who goes on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth is in spiritual danger. There no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgement.
    • Question: What does he mean by "sinning deliberately"?
      • Option 1: The opposite of "sinning accidentally".
        • There is a sense where all sin is deliberate.
          • Examples: Lying, pride, hatred, anger, cheating, lust...
          • Additionally: sins of omission (a lack of evangelism, prayer, generosity).
        • But can we honestly look into God's word, including the book of Hebrews, and draw this conclusion? This would violate the thrust of the book, the radical sacrifice of Christ for humanity.
          • Hebrews 4:15 (ESV) — 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses...
      • Option 2: Whatever the author says next.
        • Remember: the author is battling for Hebrew-Christians!

28 Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 29 How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?

  • 28 There were crimes that broke the law of Moses that called for the death penalty. Two or three witnesses were required.

  • 29 If the Old Covenant had harsh repercussions when someone rejected it, how much worse punishment will be deserved when someone rejects the New Covenant?

    • They were guilty of three crimes, all of which fold into one.

      • 1 -- They trampled underfoot the Son of God.

        • Blatant disdain for Christ.
      • 2 -- They profaned the blood of the covenant.

        • Disrespect for the blood of Christ.
          • NKJV: calling it a common thing.
      • 3 -- They outraged the Spirit of grace.

        • To insult or mock the Spirit.

        • This is the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, rejecting the Spirit's testimony regarding the cross of Christ.

          • Mark 3:29 (ESV) — 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin...

    • This is an apostate person -- they willfully disrespect Christ by disconnecting from him, declaring his cross a foolish message.

30 For we know him who said [both from Deuteronomy 32], “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And gain, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

  • 31 Fall into the hands of the living God: They had vehemently rejected God's Son.

3 - Hold tight to your gospel confession.

  • 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.
    • If the problem of the apostate is a total disrespect for what Christ has done, mustn't we continually cultivate a respect for what Christ has done?


32 But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, 33 sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. 34 For you had compassion on those in prison [for Christ], and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one.

32-34 Hard struggle / Sufferings / Exposed to reproach and affliction / Partners with those so treated / Prison / Plundering of your property: They had suffered for Christ.

4 - Expect suffering for Christ.

  • In this passage, for their Christianity, they experienced many trials.

    • Imagine for yourself: They endured struggle (mission of Christ), suffering (because of Christ), ridicule (reproach for Christ), affliction (marginalization for Christ), imprisonment (harassed for Christ), and plundering of their goods (economic persecution for Christ).
  • Watch out for the prosperity-gospel.

    • I know you're thinking of televangelists who need a new private jet.

    • But think of the subtle message we sometimes communicate, often through social media, you can be a Christian and be cool, travel the world, have an attractive spouse, know fascinating people, have great taste and style, eat great foods and drink great coffee, be in world-class shape, and basically live the dream.

      • But this might set us up for a prosperity-gospel, the belief that if I do disciple things I will get the good life.

      • Luke 9:58 (ESV) — 58 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”


35 Therefore 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.

  • 35-36 Great reward / What is promised: "A better country, that is, a heavenly one" (Hebrews 11:16).
    • This is grace on top of grace.
      • Matthew 5:12 (ESV) — 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

5 - Look forward to the great, promised reward.

  • Because it makes you effective:

    • "If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. The Apostles themselves, who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the Slave Trade, all left their mark on Earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim and Heaven and you will get earth 'thrown in': aim at earth and you will get neither." -- C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, p. 134

    • Example: Both the horizontal (world) and vertical (heaven) axis of the cross.

  • But how does this help us resist the urge to quit?

    • Because a lack of focus on the reward leads to the inevitable infatuation with what is here on earth. We become earth-only believers, and this is dangerous.

      • In the beautiful world, there is a point in which many realize that while their hip and fantastic church may offer them opportunities to engage in justice projects, a life group that meets for community and meal at the pub, and digestible life advice, they can leave the church and find similar opportunities. The kicker is that you can still enjoy all of this while ditching the biblical prohibitions on sex, or having to measure up to the limitations of biblical holiness, or the commitments of creedal Christian community. If you still want to keep your sneaker toe in the Christian camp, no problem. Just pick up a book or subscribe to that podcast by a “progressive” Christian author who will reassure you that you can still be a Christian while not getting too stressed about sex or Scripture or going to church. In an increasingly world-focused evangelical church, what looks like leaving faith or church, to the actual leaver simply seems like a small shimmy to the left, in which the beautiful world promises that you can have it all. -- Mark Sayers, Disappearing Church, p. 99

      • But the promised reward shows us we cannot have it all!


37 For [from Habakkuk 2], “Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; 38 but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.” 39 But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.

6 - Learn to live by faith.

  • This will be the point of our next few weeks in Hebrews 11, learning the life of faith.
    • Example: I remember the fire in the Del Monte Forest. I recently walked through an area where the trees have been replanted. Many years have passed, but they are still small. It takes a long time for the trees to get to full strength.
      • Be patient. Don't give up. Walk by faith.