Great Exhortations

Posted: July 19, 2009 in Hebrews

Hebrews 10:19-25, “Great Exhortations”
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Introduction:
For 5 chapters now, the writer of Hebrews has been systematically showing that Jesus is superior in every way to Aaron as our true High Priest. In Ch 5, he laid out the qualifications for a high priest. In Ch 6 he took a break for a bit, warning of the need to keep walking with Jesus, but showing that He is our sure anchor who goes behind the veil as our High Priest. In Ch 7, he lays out the basis for Jesus’ priesthood (foreshadowed in Melchizedek). In Ch 8, he compares the covenants establishing the priests, demonstrating that God was going to provide a new & better one. In Ch 9-10, he looked at the location of priestly service & what happened during the priestly service, demonstrating that Jesus is again superior in both His place & what He brings as a sacrifice.

That’s a lot! For the Jewish Christian struggling with whether or not the Old Covenant priests were still necessary, this was a powerful argument addressing every area of doubt they could have possibly brought up. Jesus is superior in every respect.

So now that we know all that, what do we do with it? Surely there must be some way in which we respond? There is. Wrapping up the priestly comparison with a nice bow, the author gives us a promise & 3 exhortations. The promise is the privilege we have through Christ (complete forgiveness & access to God); the 3 exhortations are how we apply those promises – in faith, hope, and love…

Hebrews 10:19-25 (NKJV)
19 Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus,

A. The result of that fact (of Jesus’ superiority to Aaron) is that we have “boldness” (confidence) to spiritually enter the Holy of Holies alongside our great High Priest. The average Jew probably would never even dream of doing such a thing! Before Christ Jesus, we would never have had that boldness! Nadab & Abihu (the eldest sons of Aaron) came ‘too’ boldly into the tabernacle, offering strange fire (unsanctified fire) before the Lord & God killed them on the spot (Num 10:2). King Uzziah tried to be bold in coming before the Lord God & was struck with leprosy (2 Chr 26:19). Why? Their sin was in the way! For Nadab & Abihu, they were invited into the tabernacle, but offered something tainted by sin. For Uzziah, he had not even been invited & still thought his position was all that was needed to remove his sin. Sin taints everything we do! [] All of that changes in Christ Jesus! When we are covered by His sacrifice – when our sins are completely forgiven through Him & we have Jesus’ righteousness imputed to us – NOW we can go boldly before the throne of grace to find mercy in our time of need.
__a. Are you starting to grasp the privilege & invitation we’ve been given? Even Queen Esther feared for her life when entering the throne room of her husband uninvited. Through Jesus’ work on the cross, we have a constant invitation! Thus we approach God in reverent awe, but we can approach Him in bold confidence – knowing without a doubt that when we ask for grace in the name of Jesus Christ, God is faithful to grant it because of the sufficiency of the work of Christ on our behalf.

B. By what means do we enter? 2 main ways – 1st is “by the blood of Jesus.” Picks up the context from the end of Ch 9 & beginning of Ch 10. We needed a sufficient sacrifice of blood given for our sin. Bulls can’t do it – goats can’t do it – nothing is sufficient other than the blood of Jesus Christ. Even our blood would take an eternity in Hell to atone for our sins – it’s never fully atoned for through our blood. Only the blood of Jesus is sufficient. So sufficient that He offered one sacrifice & sat down. What would take us eons upon eons to pay & still never come close to paying was paid by Jesus in one fell swoop. Praise God for the blood shed by His Son for us!
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20 by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh,

A. The way into the Holy of Holies is “by a new and living way.” There’s a play on words here that we don’t quite get in the English. “new” = “fresh” comes from a compound word originally meaning “freshly slain/newly butchered.” The Gk word is not always associated with sacrifice (hence, “new”), but considering the context of sacrifice, the idea is tough to escape. Jesus’ blood is not some old worn-out sacrifice given for us; our sin sacrifice is new & fresh. Yet Jesus doesn’t stay dead; He’s alive. It’s as if Jesus just died for our sins right now, but yet already is resurrected in power & glory.

B. His sacrifice is new & living, but it’s also the “way.” Exactly what Jesus tells us in John 14:6 – He is the way! This way is the “consecrated” way – the way made holy & dedicated by God for this very purpose of salvation.

C. The 2nd means is by the veil. Just like the old way (covenant) had a veil in the tabernacle, so we have a veil in the new covenant Holy of Holies. Only this time is the veil is the “flesh” of our Lord & Savior, His body which was broken for us. Be careful here – the text isn’t saying that Jesus’ body separates us from God (as was the primary purpose of the OT veil). On the contrary, Jesus came to declare the Father to us (John 1:18) & he who had seen Jesus had seen the Father (John 14:9). But just as the only way back to the Holiest sanctuary was through the veil, so we only come to God the Father through the broken body of Christ the Son.
__a. Interesting tie to Communion here. We come through Jesus’ blood. We come through Jesus’ body. This is exactly what we remember & celebrate when we take part in the Lord’s Supper. It’s only through His body that we are received into the presence of God & it’s only through His blood that our sins are forgiven & we are given a new covenant with Him.
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21 and having a High Priest over the house of God,

A. In all of this we have the promise of our Jesus being our Great High Priest. Jesus provides the sacrifice – Jesus prepares the sacrifice – Jesus IS the sacrifice… Everything that was unattainable to us in the old covenant is now open & available to us in the new. Jesus is over the “house of God.” What more would we need?

– Now that we have boldness to enter the Holy of Holies through the blood & body of Christ Jesus…now that we have this new way & our great & wonderful High Priest, what do we do with all this? The writer gives us 3 exhortations:

– Exhortation #1: Draw near in faith!
22 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.

A. “Let us draw near”: takes us directly back to vs. 19. We CAN enter the Holiest through Jesus, thus we SHOULD draw near to God through Jesus. Christ has made the way possible, so we ought to take full advantage of what He’s making available to us as His church.
__a. God doesn’t want a long-distance relationship with His people. He wants us to be near to Him. What does it mean to say we “draw near” to God? It means we boldly & readily come before God our Father in worship, prayer, adoration, thanksgiving, etc. WE come. We have a wonderful & great High Priest, but in our new covenant, we don’t send the priest into the tabernacle to worship on our behalf; WE come unto God through Christ & worship Him ourselves.
__b. What’s your worship like? Not talking about singing; we have a tendency of reducing worship down to the music… [Music is a tool for worship; not the worship itself] But when you’re singing (or praying or somehow otherwise consciously praising & worshipping God), are you drawing near to Him? Are you actively engaged? Are you truly ascribing to God His worth? Or are you going through the motions. It’s easy to fall into a rut… God is worthy of worship! Draw near to Him to give it! Psalm 29:1-2 (1) Give unto the Lord, O you mighty ones, Give unto the Lord glory and strength. (2) Give unto the Lord the glory due to His name; Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness. []

B. What state are we in when we come before our King? We bring a “true heart.” “true” = “genuine/sincere/real.” This is not a state of emotions; it’s a spiritual fact. IOW, you can fake out a lot of people, but you can’t fake out God. There are many many people who know the right words to say, who can put on the right attitudes around other people, and everyone thinks they’re such a wonderful Christian by the things they say. But God knows the truth. When we come before God through Jesus Christ, we have to come before Him in truth & genuineness. There simply is no other way.

C. How do we know we have the freedom to draw near to God? Because we know this “in full assurance of faith.” … We have faith in the work of Christ Jesus on our behalf. Ch 11 is going to describe and define that faith for us. Suffice to say for now, we know that we don’t draw near to God because of our work (all those things we do that makes us good ol’ American Christians)… The only way we draw near is by trusting Jesus’ work.

D. What happens through Jesus’ work? Not only are our hearts made true, but our consciences and works are washed and made clean. Everything that was only symbolized through the numerous sprinkling of blood & ritual washing is spiritually accomplished through Christ Jesus. Unlike the brazen altar & other tabernacle instruments, our hearts have been sprinkled with the blood of Christ for cleansing & sanctification. Unlike the laver which was there for the priest’s physical washing, we’re made spiritually clean through Jesus. As we saw in Ch 9, that was the symbol; this is the true. We are truly cleansed, made righteous, and set apart as holy in the sight of God because of the Lord Jesus.
__a. Do you see what’s happening here? Any objection we might bring up as an excuse for us not to draw near to God is exposed for what it is. We say, “I know Jesus did all that for me, but I really can’t draw near to Him in prayer; I’m not worthy.” Of course you’re not worthy; that’s why Jesus died for you! If you were worthy, the cross wouldn’t have been necessary. But because Jesus went to the cross for you & He’s called you to Himself & made you a new creation, then He’s MADE you worthy to draw near to God because it’s not your worthiness; it’s His! When we dole out excuses to make us feel better about not growing nearer to God through prayer or the word, all we’re doing is exhibiting our own pride. Jesus has already done the work; we simply trust in Him & what He’s done.
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– Exhortation #2: Hold fast to hope!
23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.

A. Once we place our trust in Jesus’ work via faith, then we are to “hold fast the confession…” Keep in mind that this was the problem the Jewish Christians were having. They trusted Jesus initially, but they weren’t holding fast to Him…as if Jesus were optional to their relationship with God. Jesus is never optional! What does it mean to “hold fast”? “To possess or occupy.” Like one man holding another & not letting him get free… We are to hold to our confession steadily; without wavering or faltering. As if we were holding on to a lifejacket in the middle of an ocean, so we hold on to our confession of Jesus Christ…there is no other option.

B. Note we’re not just holding fast to anything; we’re to “hold fast the confession of our hope.” IOW, we’ve got to hold fast to the gospel of Jesus Christ by which we are saved. Paul said the same thing (repeatedly) – 1 Corinthians 15:1-2 (1) Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, (2) by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. [] We need to be firm in our conviction & confession that Christ died for our sins, was buried, and rose again on the 3rd day in victory according to the Scriptures & will of God. This is what we stand upon! When everything else in your life falls apart, you can know that Jesus died for you & rose again.
__a. ‘Well you keep holding fast. That’s good for you; it works for you. I’m glad you’re sincere in your beliefs; I’ll be sincere in mine.’ No! What we hold fast to is important! People are often sincere in Russian Roulette & people often die from playing it. Faith is important, but faith means nothing without a credible object to entrust with your faith…

C. So the obvious question is: is the subject of our faith credible? Is our confession trustworthy? YES! We can trust everything about the gospel of Jesus Christ because it’s about Jesus Christ. “He who promised is faithful.” That’s why this confession is a confession of hope. (KJV incorrectly has “faith” – translates the exact same word 53 other times as “hope.”) Through Jesus we have a true hope – a hope of eternal life. Because we’ve believed the gospel & received Jesus as our Lord, we have a confident assurance that what do have faith in is true, because He is faithful
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– Exhortation #3: Consider one another in love!
24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works,

A. IOW, we’re to take note of one another. None of us are “lone ranger” Christians. Just as we are concerned to hold fast to our confession of faith, so we ought to be concerned about one other – that others are also holding fast to Jesus & growing in their walk with Him.

B. This is part of being the Body of Christ. We are to bear one another’s burdens (Gal 6:1), to weep & rejoice with those among us (Rom 12:15), to love one another as Jesus loved us (John 13:34), and to be unified with one another as in the Lord (John 17:21). This is all part of considering one another… To some extent, we ARE our brother’s keeper. We’re all members of one Body and what one person does affects the rest of us.

C. What do we do in considering one another? Two things here – joined by one action: stirring up one another. Gk: παροξυσμός (paroxysms). English refers to a sudden action (like a physical convulsion or outburst) – similar in Greek: it’s stimulation to action…usually with some sort of intensity. Loving one another & doing good works are not things that come very naturally to us (people are naturally selfish!) & part of what Jesus calls us together in one body is to help spur us on to do these things.
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25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

A. How do we go about considering one another? How is it done practically? Partially by meeting together regularly. It’s tough to stir up one another to love & good works if we never see each other. There’s a lot that can be done over internet, TV, & radio ministries, but this isn’t one of them! The early church made a habit of meeting together from the very beginning, and God blessed it. Acts 2:42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. [] (Goes on to say that they continued daily in one accord – vs. 46)

B. Some might argue that meeting together isn’t necessary. ‘We have a personal faith in Christ Jesus, so why bother tying ourselves down to one particular congregation? All Christians are part of the body of Christ, so why not float from congregation to congregation?’ That’s not what the Bible says! We need to continue meeting together. “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together.” Apparently some people had already quit coming together as a church body. They had left the faith & gone back to the temple &/or Old Covenant method of sacrifices. In the process, they stopped meeting with the local church altogether. BAD idea! It’s not just a bad idea for the ancient Jewish Christians; it’s a bad idea for us too! Yet some people who claim to be Christ continually try to argue that being part of a local church isn’t necessary… Why is it important to be part of a local congregation?
__a. We’re told to do so (from this passage). The word for “assembling” is only used twice in the NT. 1st in 1 Thess 4:17 regarding the Lord Jesus catching us up & meeting Him in the air (the Rapture). 2nd, here…but the assembling is not done by Jesus, but by us. Obviously not speaking of mass meetings of the entire church, but local gatherings of believers. (Gk is actually a plural form of ‘synagogue.’) If for no other reason to come together as a local church body, we do so because the NT tells us to.
__b. The Body hurts when you’re not there (1 Cor 12:15-19) – we all have need of one another. Jesus formed us together as His body with Himself as the Head. Each of us are called by Him & each of us are necessary.
__c. Jesus expects us to minister to each other (Rom 12:6, 1 Cor 14:26; 1 Pet 4:10). The Holy Spirit has given us spiritual gifts in order that we would use them within the body of Christ for our mutual edification. It’s tough to do that if we’ve been hopping around from church to church.
__d. What happens when WE fall somehow? (Gal 6:1-2) We need other people in the Body of Christ just as much as they need us. I am grateful for the men who have pointed out areas where I’ve messed up & helped me overcome it…

C. One specific reason to continue the assembly: we need to be “exhorting one another.” We have an exhortation to exhort. 🙂 Goes back to stirring one another up. We can’t do it unless we’re around one another & building relationship with one another.

D. Especially in these last days! Some think that at the time this letter was written, the handwriting was on the wall about the coming destruction of Jerusalem & the temple. It’s possible…but even if that’s the case, it’s likely that they were anticipating Jesus’ return at that time (just as we expect Jesus’ return at any time). The idea here is that the church was to be doing these things, exhorting one another & worshipping God until the day Jesus comes back. What better way to be caught up in the Rapture than either proclaiming the gospel or worshipping God & building up His people?

Conclusion:
One glorious promise & three great exhortations. The promise? We have a great High Priest in Christ Jesus Whose work is absolutely sufficient for our every need. He has made the way to God open and available to those who come by faith through His body & blood sacrificed at the cross. What do we do as a church in response?
A. Draw near in faith
B. Hold fast in hope
C. Consider one another, stirring up love & good works.

How are you doing in these areas? Are you drawing near to God in worship, trusting that Jesus is truly sufficient to allow you to come before God in praise? … Are you holding fast to your profession of faith in Christ Jesus, having a solid hope for eternity? Every day Christians come under attack and ridicule for holding to the gospel, but there’s nothing that gives us more hope than the faithful promises of God. … Are you considering others in the body of Christ – not merely looking for what you might receive, but how you might minister to them? To exhort them & comfort them in Christ & stir one another up to love & good works? …

What a marvelous privilege we have in the Lord Jesus! We’ve been given access to intimate worship of God, promises of eternal salvation based upon His sure word, and a family of fellow-believers through which we can help one another in our walk with Christ.

The way into all this? The body & blood of Christ. The privilege to draw boldly near to God in worship goes out only to those who repent from their sins & trust in the sacrificial work of Jesus on the cross. The invitation to be saved goes out to the entire world, but the only ones that have access to worship are those who ARE saved. Jesus has already performed the work. He’s already paid the price for your sin; but you must respond.

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