Alright let us have a word of prayer as you take your Bibles and turn in Hebrews 10. Let us pray.
This morning as I approach the Word of God and preach Your Word, I pray that Your Word would be met by the power of the Spirit and that You would drive home to our hearts the truths contained therein. You put it there for us and You want us to know it. I do thank You, Lord, that in Scripture it tells us that one would hardly die for a righteous man but perhaps for a good man someone would dare to die. But Lord you demonstrated Your own love for us in that while we were sinners Christ died for us. Thank You, Lord, that You died for the unjust, ungodly, unholy, and the sinner. We all qualify. We praise You for that. Help us to grow deeply in our faith so that we would not waver or doubt for too long before the Word of God clears things up. I pray that You would establish us again in the truth for the great sufficiency of the sacrifice of Christ both now and forever. I pray this in Your Name, Amen.
Let us take our Bibles and turn to Hebrews 10. I want to set up where I left off. It has been a little bit of time since I have been in Hebrews, and last time I was there I ended with the thought that Christ’s sacrifice was necessary and superior because it is the only sacrifice that consummates everything. It is the only sacrifice that brings everything to a conclusion. It is like when you start a book, you want to finish it and come to the end. The Lord’s sacrifice did that. A very significant phrase is found in Hebrews 9:26, which is:
Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.
The consummation of the ages means the completion of the age. It meant that the past ages of world history have come to their joint goal to which God intended them to come in light of the Person of Jesus Christ. The Scripture goes on to explain that more because it says that the Lord came once the first time. But He is also coming a second time. God had a goal for the first coming, and that is found in Hebrews 9:26. It is that the purpose of His appearing the first time is to put away sin. That is why He came. The verse again says:
He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.
He appeared in heaven seated face to face with the Father for us. He said He would go and prepare a place for us and come again. The Lord promised that for His disciples. He was preparing for the second coming and He is still preparing for the second coming even now. Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven and He is preparing to come again. Between the first and second comings we still experience the effects of sin because we are born in this world and we will eventually go the way of death. But of course the Lord has taken care of and defeated death for us. The greatest enemy we have is Satan and of course He has taken care of those things.
In Hebrews 9:27 it says:
And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment.
We are appointed to die once but when we think about that comes judgment right after. God’s verdict of acquittal could be heaven or His verdict of condemnation could be hell. The Bible never speaks about a place called purgatory ever. There are only two options. It is specific here in Scripture for those who have been bought by the blood of Christ. The throne of judgment has been changed to the throne of mercy. Is that not great when you come to the Lord and believe in Him that His throne of judgment, what was against you has now changed, it has been reversed. God has nothing but mercy and grace on His kids. He lavishes grace on His kid, that is how the Bible describes it. For those who have not and do not come to Christ, after they die, are ushered into the throne of judgment. The first coming has taken care of everything. I am preaching the effects and the purpose of the first coming for God to take away your sin, nail it to the cross, and for God Himself to give you not your righteousness, but His righteousness which makes you acceptable to the Father. Now you become the beloved of God and can enter into the presence of God based one everything Christ did for you on the cross.
The Bible speaks of something else in Hebrews 9:28, it says:
Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.
Hebrews brings up the second coming. He did it the first time, why would He not come a second time? We can rest assured that God tells us the truth about coming again. Here is the purpose: He is coming for salvation. Look at what it says, without reference to sin. It is not in reference to shedding blood or sacrificial death as a substitute for sinners. He will appear a second time to fulfill His new covenant promise to come and get us, to finish our salvation, and to glorify us. All He foreknew, He predestined, and all He predestined, He called, and all He called, He justified and all He justified, He glorified.
Christ comes a second time for His children to utterly complete their salvation. We have a promise of the resurrection. What is really keeping us from God’s presence is our own bodies and mortality. We are held back here by our bodies. Someday we are going to have a new body to spend time with the Lord forever and ever. This is when our salvation will be forever completed by God. God brings everything to consummation. It is interesting how the preacher of Hebrews mentions in Hebrews 9:28 where he says that Christ comes to those who eagerly await Him. This is all part of the covenant promise that God’s people desire His presence. God’s people who are living on the earth are living in anticipation of His coming.
We should be wanting in our hearts for the Lord to come. Jeremiah 31:33 tells us:
I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
The new covenant people will obey God because they want to and because they have been given the ability and power to obey by the Spirit of God. They want Christ to come and they want to be with Him. I do not know many Christians who have that eagerness and maybe it is because they do not learn what it says in the Bible. They are not learning what God says about Himself in Scripture. When you do that, God sanctifies you and it sets you apart from your old ways of thinking. It makes you think in a way like God wants you to think. You can know God’s will, His plan, and what He is going to do. I am not in doubt because it says it in Scripture.
These verses lead up to Hebrews 10 which now emphasize the sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice. This means that everything else was and is and will forever be deficient, subpar when compared to Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for salvation. If you did not get it by now, Hebrews is a Christo centered book. It is about Christ and He is right in the middle. If you miss the point that Christ is the One that you must come to for salvation, then you have missed it.
There are two things that help us understand the sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice. Here is the first one found in Hebrews 10:1-3. In verse 1, it says that Jesus’ sacrifice is sufficient because it is the reality of the shadow. What do you mean by that? The law was never able to bring someone to the goal of saving them completely and bring them into a right relationship with God. It was never designed by God to do that. Look at Hebrews 10:1:
For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near.
It is the Mosaic law with the sacrificial system and it was only a nebulous shadow, a mere silhouette, a form without reality. That is what it is telling us here in Scripture that the law was only a shadow, a pale outline cast by an object which is the reality.
Now the recommended cure to provide people’s sin was deficient. That is what the Bible is saying. It was deficient to bring a person in close fellowship with God. The only thing it could do was to offer a distant relationship with God. Look at the Old Testament, you had to have the camp set up, the tabernacle with the fence around it, and the two rooms the Holy and the Holy of Holies. The only one that could go in that room was the high priest. The people were on the outside and could not get close to God.
That was always the picture in the Old Testament, they could only have a distant and irregular contact with the Lord. Yet, the sacrificial system was no valueless and for this reason. If there is a shadow, then there is a real object which cast the shadow. If I see a shadow on the wall, the shadow itself cannot hurt me but I know that the light is being shined on that object which is casting that shadow. There is a real object and form when there is a shadow. A real object which casts that shadow means that the reality is not very far away. The shadow has value because it is connected with substance and with promise.
Not only it is the substance that casts the shadow but the promise that goes with it from the Old Testament that the Lord would do this thing. When the shadow drops away, the substance or reality will be revealed. Then you see the true and detailed picture of the sacrifice that God would provide is Jesus Christ. In other words, Jesus Christ is the reality. He is the One who casts the shadow. When it came to the law and the sacrificial system, that was the shadow of the reality which was always Christ. We saw that dimly in the Old Testament though the prophets kept prophesying. The law was never able to bring someone to full salvation, to the goal. It was never designed to do that.
God did not start John 1 or 3:16, He started with Genesis 1. He built His revelation historically. Everything is established. The whole plan of redemption is unfolded as you read through the Old Testament. By the way, if you have been reading your Bible, you should be coming to the end soon. You can see every year as you read through it that God has revealed His plan for us. He did not keep anything back. We just have to read it and study it.
The sacrificial system was never able to bring it to completeness either. It says in Hebrews 10:1:
It can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near.
This is what it is saying here. These sacrifices that the people brought, and those sacrifices were required by God to bring so they can approach God. But these sacrifices had no ability or effectiveness to bring someone to complete salvation. A genuinely effective thing does not need to be repeated. Repetition is proof that there remains a deficiency. That is why the offerings had to come day by day and month by month. We had the burnt offerings and the peace offerings and the voluntary offerings and the sin offerings which had to be brought to God over and over again. The repetition showed that it was not designed to bring someone to a complete relationship with God.
In Hebrews 10:1 it also says that it had no ability to:
Make perfect those who draw near.
Everyone who came to worship God could never get their souls purified. Here is an interesting point in Scripture. If the law and its sacrificial systems were able to do that and purify people’s souls, two things would have happened.
In Hebrews 10:2, it says:
Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, because the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have had consciousness of sins?
If they were designed to do what people hoped, then all the sacrifices would have stopped and we would not have had to have priests offer sacrifice after sacrifice. A second thing that would happen if these were effective is that the worshippers, those who came continually to worship, would have no more consciousness of sin. If these practices were effective, then the people would not have been guilty of their sins.
Every time the Israelites went and offered sacrifices to worship God, they walked away with guilt still in their hearts, knowing they were not completely purified. All they were made was ceremonially clean to approach God at that point, not to be able to live with God forever in His holy presence. These sacrifices had a particular ability, and it tell us in Hebrews 10:3 that:
But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year by year.
This is what the law and the sacrificial system had the ability to do for people, remind you that you are a sinner. All they do is remind of sin and the worshiper that he or she is not purified. His or her sins still stand between him or her and God. They could never get farther than the next year’s sacrifice. The day of Atonement brings the constant reminder of sin. Scripture has just established for us the inability of the law and it has prescribed sacrifices to reach God’s intended goal for all His children.
That has to be clear for people, and for the Jews. Especially for those still involved in the sacrificial system. It means that there must be a far different and vastly superior sacrifice that will be needed to make someone walk away knowing that they are purified in their hearts from all their sin and that the sacrificial system will stop forever. Those things have to happen if it is what the Bible teaches.
Animal sacrifices could only cover the Israelites’ sin which gave them the ceremonial cleansing needed to worship. But Israel’s sin remained because there is a great impossibility. I just said to you that Christ’s sacrifice is sufficient because it is the reality of the shadow but the second thing that helps us understand the sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice is this, that it is sufficient. It moves the impossible to the possible.
Look at Hebrews 10:4:
For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
That word impossible is one of those final words. There is not much you can do with it except to say that something is impossible! It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. If it was possible, we would not have a problem. These cannot take as serious and deadly a thing as sin before a holy God. They cannot completely appease and atone for sin. All they can do and this is all they are meant to do is to cast a shadow. The reality of the shadow is better blood that connects the worshiper to the Messiah’s blood through faith in Christ.
Here is something to think about especially when you think of this word, impossible. If God’s Old Testament prescribed system for approaching Him in the law and in the offering of sacrifices could not take away sins, then it is more so impossible for any other man made invented religious system to save or provide any value or to point definitively and clearly to God’s distinct revelation in Christ and His single sacrifice for sins in which men and women can be saved immediately and forever. In other words, eternal life cannot be found outside of Christ.
What does that have to do for us today besides the theological stuff? I have to warn you that there is an ever growing mindset that we all live in called pluralism. Theologian Don Carson defines pluralism as “the view that all religious have the same moral and spiritual value and offer the same potential for achieving salvation however salvation be construed.” In other words, however salvation would be defined by that particular system.
The pluralist question is whether the work of Christ necessary for salvation, or are there other bases. The pluralist believes that Jesus is the provision God has made for Christians. But that there are other ways to getting right with God and gaining eternal bliss in other religions. The problem is that part of evangelicalism is believing that and they are already embracing people who do not have a clear testimony of their salvation and who are setting aside the sufficiency of Christ in order to gain approval of men. The work of Christ, they say, is useful for Christians, but not necessary for non Christians. That is why it is important to study a book like Hebrews. Scripture strongly impresses on us the impossibility of eternal salvation outside of Christ.
It is just as impossible for a Muslim to achieve salvation by the five pillars of Islam, for a Hindu by the resolutions of renunciation, or by Buddhist ethics, Sikhs patterns of self-salvation, or Catholicism’s system of obtaining inherent righteousness by keeping the sacraments.
Then it cannot possibly be that those His death was necessary for the salvation of some, most could equally attain it by other means. May that never be for us as believers that all Scripture affirms that the work of Christ is the only necessary means provided by God for eternal salvation for all people in all religions for all time and in all cultures. There is no other way but Christ and that is what this book is establishing.
For the Jew who wanted to go back to the system of Judaism, there was something they thought was provided in that religious system that could save them. It says in Hebrews that that is not true! Christ is the only way to be saved for Jews but for Gentiles and for every other person that lives on the face of this earth. There is no other way, and yet students go into college and high school classrooms and hear that all religions are the same and all lead to the same path to God. There is only one that leads to God, and that is Christ Jesus. And that is not a religion, but a relationship. Is that exclusive and narrow? But it is the truth and the only thing that can save people.
For your information, this next section of Scripture in Hebrews 10:6-9, the author is quoting from the Septuagint, which is the Greek translation of the Old Testament. The author quotes Isaiah 40:6-9 and he stresses this very point. The point he is making here in Isaiah 40 is that the only effective sacrifice is Jesus Christ and from Scripture this has always been God’s plan and purpose. From this passage of Scripture which is quoted in Hebrews 10, it was never God’s will for animal sacrifices to remove sin. Look at what it says in Hebrews 10:5-6, 8:
Therefore, when He comes into the world, He says, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body you have prepared for me; in whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin you have taken no pleasure. After saying above, “Sacrifices and offerings and whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin you have not desired, nor have you taken pleasure in them” (which are offered according to the Law).
So the Word of God is saying here: it was never God the Father’s will for animal sacrifices to remove sin. He never had pleasure in them. In this sense, they did not bring people to a full realization of Him. That is why He had no desire or pleasure in them. Scripture says that sacrifices often degenerate into something that God never intended or wanted.
There is a great passage of Scripture in Isaiah 1:11-14, turn there for a minute. Let me even mention David in Psalm 51, when he sinned the sin against God and sent Uriah to the hottest part of battle, killed him, and committed adultery with Bathsheba. He says this in Psalm 51:16-17:
For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; you are not pleased with burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit. A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.
But look at Isaiah 1:11-14:
“What are your multiplied sacrifices to Me?” Says the Lord. “I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed cattle; and I take no pleasure in the blood of bulls, lambs or goats. When you come to appear before Me, who requires of you this trampling of My courts? Bring your worthless offerings no longer, incense is an abomination to Me. New moon and sabbath, the calling of assemblies—
I cannot endure iniquity and the solemn assembly. I hate your new moon festivals and your appointed feasts, they have become a burden to Me; I am weary of bearing them.
Why? Because the people went through the ritual of the system without obedience in their hearts to love God. God hates that, He hates fakes and hypocrites. He hates when people just go through the motions and talk the talk, but who never desire in their hearts to obey God and love Him. That is what He is looking for. That is what these things could not do for the human heart. It took Someone greater to cleanse the heart completely and put the Spirit of God in us, so that we can worship God with heart, desire, will, obedience, and sincerity. We can approach God.
Why then did God establish the elaborate sacrificial system if animal sacrifices could not remove sin? That is the question I had. Well there are several things that David Levy, a converted Messianic Jew, brought up that are very good. He said that blood sacrifices made the Israelites acknowledge their need of atonement before God. They always had that understanding. Whatever happens, there has to be a sacrifice.
Secondly, sacrifices force them to admit that someone else has to make substitutionary atonement for them. They could not atone for their own sins or save themselves. This idea of substitution was in their minds all throughout the Scriptures.
Thirdly, sacrifices which originated in the mind of God enables people to have their sins covered before approaching Him in worship, at least temporarily.
Fourthly, sacrifices pointed to the day when Christ would once for all atone for sin. These sacrifices and the law were a shadow of what was to come, the reality that was coming. The realty is Jesus Christ. In Jesus Christ, we can have full and final salvation.
I said first of all that it was never the Father’s will for animal sacrifices to remove sin. But secondly in this Psalm, it was always the Father’s will that the Son would become the true sacrifice for sin. Look at Hebrews 10:7, 5b:
Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come (in the scroll of the book it is written of me) to do your will, O God.’ But a body you have prepared for me.
Now if you notice in the Word of God, this is one of those Messianic psalms. Jesus is talking about the Word of God being written about Himself. The Psalms, the Old Testament, the books Moses wrote, are all written about Him.
What I am saying that it is the Father’s will that the Son will always be the sacrifice. Read again verse 5b:
But a body you have prepared for me.
Jesus was being prepared to be the sacrifice for sins. It has always been in Scripture that way. A third and final thing is that Christ was willing to do all the Father’s will. This is what others were never able to do: completely obey the Father in every single detail. Christ was willing to do all the Father’s will. Hebrews 10:9 says:
Then He said, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He takes away the first in order to establish the second.
That is referring to the demise of the Levitical system. He sets the shadows aside because Jesus Christ becomes the reality by dying on the cross, having completely obeyed the Father in every single detail in order to bring about your and my salvation.
Now that means if Jesus’ sacrifice was what the Word of God said it would be, two things would happen. One, sacrifices must stop. And two, the removal of guilt of the worshipers of God. Do you not have both of those things happening? There is no sacrificial system today. It stopped in 70 A.D. and never came back again because it cannot. It cannot in the sense of Scripture because it says something in Hebrews 10:10:
By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
That once for all means an end to all the sacrifices, but at the same time it is able to sanctify the worshiper and set him apart. Loving, willful obedience is the only true sacrifice. When Jesus was the perfect sacrifice because He perfectly did the Father’s will and by it brought purified sinners into a continual relationship with God as it says in our Scripture here in verse 10. He fulfilled all the types and shadows and pictures of the sacrificial system and ended it. It was not needed anymore.
It does say something about you and I. When we look at the cross, we should not linger thinking about our sins. We ought to confess our sins but not linger on our sins for this reason. We should linger upon Christ and His substitute on our behalf. We should linger on the fact that He made you and I righteous by His death. We need to be thinking on those things. You think too long on your own sin and it drags you down to the pit. But if I take my sin and give it to Christ, I can walk away with my conscience purified. That is why Paul freaked the Jews out when he said that his conscience is clear. He understood the sacrifice of Christ, that He cleanses you from every bit of sin. Yesterday, today, and the sin I will commit tomorrow is all under Christ.
In Scripture it says that if you think you can go on and sin and think that everything is alright, it means you are not a sinner. A habitual sinner shows that the seed of God is not in them. But a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ, Isa, the Messiah can every day of their life walk knowing they are purified in their conscience. Guilt free. Do you live like that? I know there are enough things to make us guilty in the world.
The Holy Spirit of God truly makes us feel the guilt of sin. But we do not stay there, we live in light of the cross. It says in 1 John 1:9:
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
There may be some things that you miss and the blood of Christ takes care of those too. We cannot retain anything the older we get. I ask the Lord to help me remember and not forget. I also ask for the ability to share that truth with people.
There was a one time sacrifice by Jesus Christ for sins on the cross. I can live a life of guiltlessness and I will not have to walk around with the conscience of my sin all day and night. But I do have the thought that I am a great sinner, but that Christ is a great Savior.
How do you want to live? Christ’s sacrifice is definitely sufficient now and forever. If you have not yet received Christ, just the opposite is true for you. You have no sacrificial substitute, the consciousness of your sin and guilt remain, and you will be responsible for bearing the penalty of your own sin. And why would you want to do that when Christ died for you?
Christ demonstrated His love for you on the cross and died for the ungodly. If you fit that category, then come and believe and be freed in your conscience and soul. Know that you have a relationship with God and that there is nothing you could do to improve it or make it better. It is finished and complete and forever. I come humbly with gratitude because of what He has done for a sinner like me. That is the only way to serve. Christ’s obedience is worked in us by the Spirit of God. We are then obedient to Him and want to be. The more you grow in Christ, the more you will want heaven and the more eager you are for Him to come. The more you grow in Christ, the more you see how sin abounds in the world and how dark the world is when it comes to sin. The more you think about that, the more you are compelled in your heart to tell the people around you that they need Jesus Christ.
This morning in Scripture it establishes for us that there is no place to go but Christ. There is no other place you should want to go. If you have not come to Christ, then come. Serve Him with a loving obedience heart and do it all the time. Confess your sin, repent of your sin, do not got stuck in your sin but get stuck on the sacrifice of Christ on your behalf and all the implications that has for your personal life every day. If you live there, you will maintain your joy and your boldness for Christ. It is not about you but about God.
Let us pray. Lord, I thank You for Your people and gospel. In it is contained everything for life and godliness. With a passage of Scripture like this we see again the awesomeness of Your plan of redemption. Thank You, Lord, that many of us have become the recipients of that sacrifice and that we feel its benefits every day. I pray that You would continue to give us strength to be sanctified by Your Word and that You would continue to enable us to serve You with a willful, joyful heart. And for those that do not know You, that they would come soon even today and confess You as their own Lord and Savior and believe in You. I pray this in Christ’s Name, Amen.