We are so blessed at this church!! And today we were definitely blessed – our pastor was back! He’s not 100% better, but he was able to speak, thankfully. He gave us the Word as powerfully as before he got sick, and boy did it hit home. He covered a LOT of ground. Do you know how difficult it is to pare this down to just a couple of highlights?
One thing I really love about Calvary Chapel: we go through the entire Bible, chapter by chapter, verse by verse – nothing skipped over to keep from offending or upsetting anyone. If it’s in the Bible, it gets spoken of from the pulpit. We just finished Hebrews chapter 10.
The sacrifices and rituals spoken of in Hebrews 10:1-18 served as a forerunner of the LORD Jesus. They were meant to keep the people looking to the LORD for salvation – they could not and did not save in themselves. They were to be performed as an act of obedience, to remind the people that they needed cleansing they could not provide on their own. But, as established in verses 9-10, the LORD Jesus provided a perfect sacrifice – once and for all. After that, the sacrifices were no longer needed.
Then said He, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that He may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
So, in view of this, why would anybody want to go back to those rituals, which had to be done continually and could not save?? But many of the Hebrews had done just that. They were being persecuted and reviled – by their own people and by the religious leaders – for their faith. Many were discouraged and maybe thinking it would be better if they just gave in and went back to the old ways. That should get everyone off their backs, right? Not!
Verses 19-39 encouraged those believers – and us too – not to give up, not to give in, and not to lose faith. Verse 19 starts with, “Having, therefore….” One of our pastor’s favorite sayings is, “When you see therefore, ask yourself, What it is there for?” I cannot read those words now without thinking that very thing! Verse 19 refers back to the promises in the preceding verses, encouraging the people not to rely on empty rituals, but to go right to the Source! The writer encouraged them to boldly enter the Holy of Holies, wherein only the High Priest was allowed to enter, and then only once a year, under the old system. Jesus Christ is both our High Priest AND that Holy of Holies; by His blood we are allowed to enter into His presence and commune with Him. What a promise!!!
When something is repeated in Scripture, it tells us to PAY ATTENTION! Something important is being shared, and we need to take heed. Verses 22-24 all begin with Let us….”Let us draw near with a true heart…let us hold fast the profession of our faith…let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works….These are all admonitions that, if followed, will increase our faith and encourage other believers. We need to hang in, hang on, and hang out. What’s that mean?? Remain faithful, don’t give up, gather with other believers! Making a public stand for Jesus Christ WILL bring persecution, make no mistake. But if we have patience and don’t draw back when the going gets tough, we will be rewarded.
Verses 25-31 speak of the dire consequences of rejecting and scorning Jesus Christ and His sacrifice. These set me back on my heels – especially verse 31, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (bold added by me).” Moses warned the people against apostasy; and the Hebrews are being warned again. Turning one’s back and willfully sinning, after having known and tasted the truth, brings a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation (verse 27). I don’t know about you, but I don’t wanna go there!
Verses 32-39 encourage me that I can rest assured of His faithfulness to me, no matter what kind of trials I face. These verses remind me to remember my first days as a believer, when the excitement of my new faith was fresh and exhilarating. Facing persecution was possible because I rested in His protection and care. Patience is key here – endurance is vital. Perseverence will pay off with great rewards, but drawing back when tested is very displeasing to God. As I said before, I don’t wanna go there! Verses 38-39, the end of this chapter, are very special to me:
Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of our soul.
THAT’S where I want to be!!