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Hebrews 10:19-25: Accesss Leads to Action Print E-mail
Hebrews
Sunday, 08 January 2017

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Jesus is better than anything or any person or any religion. He is the greatest treasure of all in this life and in the age to come. The author of Hebrews has written this letter or sermon to teach this truth to His readers. As we have said repeatedly, many of them were apparently considering going back to Judaism. But the writer of Hebrews shows them why that would be a mistake. Over and over again he demonstrates that Jesus is better. He is better than angels, better than Joshua and Moses. He is a better priest and a better sacrifice and the covenant He brings is better than the old. In all these ways and more, Jesus is better.

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If this is true, if Jesus really is the greatest treasure of all, then our lives should be lived in light of that fact. Why run after lesser treasures? Why pursue temporary and fading joy, when everlasting delight is found in our Savior? After arguing for the greatness of Christ for the first ten chapters of the book, the author of Hebrews will now turn to teaching us how to live in light of Christ. He has exhorted these professing believers to persevere in the faith throughout, but the emphasis in the last three chapters will shift to living out our faith in light of Christ and his greatness. In one sense, our passage this morning is the conclusion of all that he has argued from 4:14-10:18. And in another it is the transition to the rest of the letter. He draws his conclusions in the first few verses and then gives us three ways to act on this truth. These conclusions and actions are the climax of His call for these believers to persevere. So what does he say?

Foundational blessings for perseverance (v. 19-21)

If anyone is going to persevere in the faith, then they must be clear on who Jesus is and what He has done for them. They must know who they are in Christ (indicative) and what blessings He has given them through His life and death. The author mentions two foundational blessings here.

First, Jesusí sacrifice gives us access to God. Look at verses 19-20. If you remember, the author has talked at length about the limited access that people had to the holy places under the old covenant. For them, only one person and only once a year could go into the holy of holies, the place where Godís presence especially dwelled. But not with Jesus. He invites us to live in the presence of God through the indwelling of the Spirit. He has opened a new (in contrast with the old) and living (eternal) way to God. And how did He do that? The author tells us: by the blood of Jesus and through His flesh. As we have been celebrating this season, Jesus took on flesh to pay for our sins at the cross. When the Father raised Him from the dead, new access was granted to the Father. This is what the author has been arguing in chapters 8-10. The sacrifice of Christ is far superior to those offered by the priests under the Old Covenant. His sacrifice gives us confidence, or authority, to come into Godís presence. The first foundational blessing for our perseverance of faith is that we have access to God through the sacrifice of Jesus.

Second, Jesusí priesthood gives us access to God. Look at verse 21. The author argues that Jesus is our Great High Priest in 4:14-5:10 and chapter 7. Jesus was not a levitical priest, but one in the order of Melchizedek. We might be tempted to dismiss such arguments as not all that important for us, but the author shows us here that our access to God is dependent upon Jesus being our priest. If He is not our priest, then we have no access. But if He is our priest as the author has demonstrated, then we do have access. After all, what was the purpose of a priest?

For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins (5:1). The priest is the mediator between God and men. He is to offer sacrifices so that men can be forgiven for their sins. Jesus did this for us as the cross. He offered Himself in our place. He is the Lamb of God that was slain for the sins of the world. If you have sinned, then you need Jesus. You need Him to be your priest, your Mediator with God. Through faith in Him, He gives us access to God as our Great High Priest.

Jesus is our priest and sacrifice. And as such, we now have access to God. These are foundational blessings that we must understand if we are going to persevere in the faith. We must labor to see access to God as the blessing that it truly is. When Isaiah and I were at the bowl game over the holidays, we got invited to go out on the field after the game. A security guy gave us tickets to go and meet the coach and the players. We got autographs and free stuff. It was great. Actually, this didnít really happen. But wouldnít it have been great if it did. Have you ever been given VIP access at a game or concert? How cool was that? But this is God we are talking about. Jesus, our priest and sacrifice, has given us access to Almighty God. He has given us the greatest treasure of all, namely Himself! How great a blessing is that?

Fundamental actions for perseverance (v. 22-25)

If all of that is true, if we truly do have access to God through Jesus, then how should we live? How should these foundational blessings cause us to respond? The author lists three actions.

First, we should draw near with a pure heart. Look at verse 22. If Christ has given Himself to give us access to God then we should use it! We should draw near to God by reading His Word, spending time in prayer, gathering with believers, and living a life of obedience. We should live in His presence. Our hearts should not be divided in their devotions, they should be pure and genuine. And why should we have full assurance of faith? We have it because Jesus is our priest and sacrifice. Those foundational blessings give us assurance to approach the Almighty. Through faith in Jesus we have hearts that have been sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and bodies washed with pure water.

The author is still drawing on imagery from the old covenant and noting again that Christís sacrifice makes us clean and pure in every way (see 9:1-14), unlike the offerings of old. The issue here is not why should I come or why should I make time, but simply how could I not? You have access to the greatest treasure in all of the universe through faith in Christ, why would you not enjoy it? Itís like sitting down to an amazing feast and refusing to take a bite. Draw near to God because you can through Christ!

Second, we should hold fast the confession of our hope. One of the major themes of the letter is perseverance and this action highlights the importance of holding fast to what we believe. Look at verse 23. We must hold fast to our hope in Christ. What is this hope? Again, the great truth that we have access to God through Jesus and that one Day when this world is done we will go to dwell with Him forever. We should hold fast to that without wavering. How do we do that? First, we fight doubt by remembering those foundational blessings. Do not doubt your High Priest or His sacrifice for your sins. He paid the price to purchase our redemption. His sacrifice was and is enough. How do I know? He sat down! It was once for all. Do not waver. Second, we fight doubt by remembering the character of our God: He who promised is faithful. The Lord has promised to give the church eternal life through faith in Christ. Our salvation rests upon His character. And He is faithful! His faithfulness is our shelter and refuge. So hold fast and do not waver!

Third, we should consider how to stir one another up to love and good works. Look at verse 24. The verb translated Ďconsiderí in the ESV is a strong action word. It is not passive. It could actually be translated Ďprovoke.í We should provoke one another to love and good works. We should be fighting hard for this, always on the look-out for opportunities. The author goes on and gives a negative and positive explanation of what he means. Look at verse 25. We should avoid neglecting to meet together and we should pursue encouragement. Although the author means more than just attendance on Sunday mornings, he does not mean less than this. We should see the importance of regular attendance at our weekly gathering. We should do this for the sake of our own perseverance and for the sake of others. We must be aware of the danger here.

One of my commentatorís writes: ďTo be needlessly absent is to deprive oneself, both of being helped and of helping others, but more seriously of drifting in the direction of danger.Ē1 Of course we can just dismiss this as being legalistic, but I fear that we do that to our own destruction. For the encouragement of our own souls and the souls of each other, we should be committed to being here and being involved as much as possible. We should do this because Jesus has given us access to the house of God, the fellowship of the saints. We should do it to stir up one another to love and good works as we see the Day of Christís return drawing near.

Conclusion
The writer of Hebrews has written to convince his readers and us that Jesus is the greatest treasure of all. He is our priest and our sacrifice. And as such, He has given us access to God. What are you going to do with that? If you have never turned from your sins and trusted in Christ, then I encourage you to consider what is holding you back. Is it worth it? Is it more important than access to the Father through the Son? If not, then let it go and believe in Jesus. If you are a follower of Jesus, then let me ask you: are you living in light of the great access that you have? Are you spending time in the Word and prayer? Are you holding fast to your hope? Are you committed to gathering with other believers in 2017 to stir them up to love and good works? The access to God that we have through Christ should lead to these actions. May we live in light of our Savior and all that He has done for us. Amen.

1 Hywel R. Jones, Letís Study Hebrews (Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2008), p. 116.

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Saturday, 21 January 2017 )

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