The title of my message is The Lettuce Bowl of Scripture. The reason being that in Hebrews 10:22-24, each verse begins with “Let us,” and that’s the “lettuce” part. Also, it indicates a shift in this section of Hebrews. In other words, I completed moving through a large doctrinal section of Hebrews. Not that there were no practical things in there, but now we are shifting to the practice of the doctrine.
He took ten and a half chapters to get to the practice. He laid the theological foundation before you could ever do anything. When you do something, you ought to do it with a correct understanding of what the Bible says about it, so that you may do it correctly and consistently. All the teaching is related to our daily lives as followers of Christ.
Acknowledging Jesus’ Lordship with our lips alone is not useful if the practice of such truth is not evident in our life. This is not just a professing faith, but a doing faith. If you have faith, show me your faith and that you are redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb. Here, in what is called The Lettuce Bowl of Scripture, links doctrine with deeds. So far, in Hebrews, there has been an insistence on correct thinking and teaching, and now there is an exhortation on consistent behavior.
The teaching of Scripture not only needs to be received by us, but also needs to be appropriated by us. This is important in all the books of the Bible, especially in the epistles that gives an admonition of applying what you know. Thanks to the Lord, Scripture doesn’t leave us alone guessing on how to apply what we know, and the rest of Hebrews 10 is broken up into two parts.
The first part is an exhortation and encouragement; second, it is a warning, which is the last major warning in the book of Hebrews. In the first part, we are giving four appropriate responses to the proceeding doctrines in the last ten and a half chapters of Hebrews. Therefore, believers are exhorted and encouraged to action.
For this reason: they possess something they did not possess before. They do not possess it because they earned it, nor do they have it because they deserve it. Rather, they possess it by divine favor and grace. Hebrews 10:19:
Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus
In this passage, “we have,” simply means that we have something, which is something we didn’t have before. We have the great and grand truth, which is for all of God’s children. Based on the one-time sacrifice of Jesus Christ, God forgets our sins and violations of His law. He doesn’t just cover them, but He purges them from us forever. Hebrews 10:18:
Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin.
By Christ’s full and final expiation of all sins for all time, believers are made right before a holy and just God, and given continual access to God, which we never had before. Remember, expiation means something done in view of the believer. In other words, sin exits and is removed from the believer, and the punishment is removed from the believer and given to Christ. Therefore, Christ removes the sin forever, and He pays the price for your sin for you to be set free. Because of that, all the dynamics of your life should change. Now, you can live for God, be a believer, and a follower of Christ.
If you are going to carry out the exhortation, these objective truths must be firmly imbedded in your mind and heart. To carry out the exhortations, you must have confidence in the doctrines taught about Jesus Christ. The confidence we have is based on objective truth. If someone asks how you know you are a Christian, what would you say to them?
Some respond by saying, “well, I feel like I am a Christian. I know in my heart that I am a believer.” This isn’t a bad answer, but it’s not the whole answer. That is a subjective answer, and in a very real sense, our faith does have and must have a subjective nature. However, our feelings must be constantly fed and challenged by the objective foundation, which informs our confidence.
As we go through Hebrews, confidence means faith-in, which is what he is working up to Hebrews 11, the great faith chapter. Before they ever did anything for God, all these people had confidence in what they believed first. Without having the fulfillment of the promise, they even died for God knowing it would be there once they died and went into God’s presence, especially since they understood the character and nature of God and the promises He made in the New Covenant.
For our consistent walk with the Lord, this is vital. It is hard to hold fast to something subjective, especially if your feelings are being compromised all the time. In Hebrews, they are under the attack of being ostracized from their home, they’re suffering, and some are losing their lives. Our feelings are not a reliable guide. They are often fickle and wavering. Sometimes it just depends on how the weather is, and some people are not here this morning because it is raining outside. The bed was awfully warm and cozy, so their mind began to come up with reasons why they should convince themselves to not go to a place that God says they ought to be. In fact, that’s where he is going in Hebrews 10:25:
not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
Part of believing the truth is doing the simple things God asks. When you have church meetings, be there. I don’t say that, but God does. It cannot be what a person says, but it must be what God says through His word. The Holy Spirit wrote this, but we don’t always take seriously what’s written in the Word of God. For instance, simple things like being present, and not making excuses why you shouldn’t be there. When you put God first, God takes care of the things that often cause you anxiety and worry. Matthew 6:33:
But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
He will add onto you all the things gentiles worry about such as clothing, food, bills, etc. Often, we worry about those since we’re not putting God first. Instead, you are first, your job is first, money is first, but not God. Faith is about trusting God and His word. When we do that, we find out that we cannot trust our feelings. Therefore, there must be that objective ground and basis on which our confidence rests, which embraces all that we have in Christ.
Doctrine will inform our thoughts, which informs our feelings and emotions, which then informs our doing. “Follow your heart” is bad theology, and following your feelings is worse. Unfortunately, that’s what you get in movies, Hollywood, and all over the place. Thus, follow truth that comes from God and it will never steer you wrong. If you stay on the path of truth, then the path of truth will make you strong, discerning, and courageous.
In the King James Bible, confidence is translated as boldness, so the truth will give you boldness in your faith. Because the truth is in your heart, no one will be able to move you. The truth guides your mind, glorifies God, and helps you to know what God wants you to do. Because of that, you grow strong. Already, Hebrews taught us that Christ is the author of our salvation, and He will bring us many sons to glory. Concluding, Jesus Christ has been crowned with glory and honor.
Christ is the heir and, as co-heirs in Christ, we’re about to inherit salvation. In Christ’s expiation and incarnation, He joined us and made us His brothers. By His death, He has freed us from the devil, the might of death, and fear of death. In time of temptation, He brings us help. In Scripture, Christ is said to be our Apostle and High Priest. When we confess, He fills us with assurance, hope, and glory that awaits us at the end, which is seen by faith. When we are in the presence of God and drop off these bodies, it will be completely given to us.
As you can see, these are some of the unchanging, rock-solid objective realities that enable us to enter God’s presence with confidence. We can form our feelings to enable us to feel firmly confident and assured of the realities of our faith, which causes us not to waver or bend with every wind of doctrine. Those who profess faith in Christ will remain faithful. Thus, giving evidence that they are members of Christ’s household.
The question God is answering in your life: are you faithful? Such as being faithful to the truth, to what you know that you have learned in the Word of God, to your profession of faith in Christ, to assembling together with believers, to the study of the Word of God, to the practice of what you do know in your life, to discern good and evil, to pray, to love Christ, and to walk with Him daily.
These things are always done imperfectly, but that is the direction of life. That is what He is calling us to and it will be all about that in the next chapters until the end of the book. Once you know it, do these things. It starts in your heart and mind, so do it there. In addition, it starts because you know you are saved and that Christ has done this for you, so that is what gives you confidence. In saying that, there are two things that need to accompany our approach to God, but I will only be covering the first one this morning.
First, followers of Jesus Christ are to enter the Holy place with confidence. Again, Hebrews 10:19-20:
Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, 20by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh
True believers have confidence. In Greek, confidence means to have freedom of speech, and to be fearless and cheerful in your courage. The true believers in Jesus Christ are exhorted to go directly into the presence of God with free speaking. Meaning, our confidence has something to do with us having courage before God and expressing not only intercessions for other people and adoration to God, but your own personal need and struggle with sin before God. We have confidence to come before God and lay out the whole mess and dysfunction in our life. Lay out the sins, hopes, dreams, anxieties, and needs you have before Him. Therefore, this word does mean, and includes, to come fearlessly in that way before God.
There is a contrast here with the way the people of the Old Covenant approached God versus the way people of the New Covenant approach God. In the New Covenant, people approached God with a joyous and confident heart. In the Old Covenant, people were cautious and fearful. In the New Covenant, people are to draw near always while Old Covenant people were frequently exhorted to keep their distance lest they’d be killed. In any moment of trial, all followers of Christ are urged to come at any time before the Throne of Grace. In the Old Covenant, only the high priest could enter the holiest place only once a year.
God has taken this Old Covenant, where one high priest can enter in before His presence once a year, to now, where it’s open, come anytime you want, and with no priest. Of course, your priest is Christ. You must have a priest, but it cannot be a priest of your choice. It must be Christ himself, who is the Melchizedekian high priest. So, how do we really show confidence?
We show confidence in five ways. First, we show confidence by entering. Secondly, we show confidence by drawing near. Hebrews 10:22:
let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
We show confidence by holding fast. Hebrews 10:23:
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful;
We show confidence by keeping near. Hebrews 10:35:
Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.
We show confidence by pressing on. Hebrews 10:36:
For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.
All shows confidence that you believe the Doctrines about Christ in the Word of God. As you do that, there are three aspects of redemptive love that should always be on our heart when we approach God. Hebrews 10:19 is telling us how we enter, and never forget that this is how we enter. Followers of Christ are entering the Holy of holies, which, under the Old Covenant, people were forbidden to enter. Therefore, we enter not ignorantly, flippantly, carelessly, but mindfully.
We have an understanding in our mind of the cost it took God to give us this awesome privilege to come into His presence anytime we want, anywhere, and any place. What are those redemptive thoughts?
First, it should enter your mind of the blood He shed. Meaning, what happened in the blood of Jesus, how He bought us, and paid our huge sin-debt. Because of Christ’s blood, we belong to Him. Secondly, we enter mindful of the way He opened, and that we are accepted by Him. All the obstacles to come to Christ has been removed, so there is no person, no church, no sacrament, and no routine we must go through to enter His presence aside from being mindful of what Christ did for us to get there.
Thirdly, redemptive thought should enter our mind of the work He has done and continues to do. As the High Priest, His work is to intercede for us and help us in our time of need. Meaning, God understands our weakness as human beings, He understands the painfulness we experience as human beings, and He understands what your sin and the sins of others does in your life. Therefore, there is nothing that can come to your mind by thinking, “I don’t have to bother God with this,” or, “God doesn’t understand my situation.” In fact, doctrine has said in Scripture that God understands all your needs way deeper than you do. Because of His suffering and death, He has experienced them himself.
Scripture is saying to never back off God because of what He has taught you. God has removed all these obstacles, so you can come for help. When we come before God, these three aspects of redemption may stir us to be full of adoration, confession, and thanksgiving, which all equals worship that is pleasing to the Father. Under the Old Covenant, this is what the Father was desiring all the time. However, He has it under the New Covenant.
In Hebrews 10:20, there are two key words: new and living. It is new because no one could directly enter God’s presence under the Old Mosaic Law. In Greek, this rich word new means to be freshly slaughtered. Also, it means one that retains its freshness and cannot grow old. Meaning, the sacrifice of Jesus Christ retains its freshness and could never grow old. Although His sacrifice for our sins was offered over two-thousand years ago once and for all, it never grows old and is always fresh and current for all who come to receive. For believers, His shed blood is a continual fountain of cleansing to all who appropriated for their sins.
Also, in Hebrews 10:20, it is living because the way provides life for believers and continual access to God. Meaning, all other ways are dead ways. This is the only living way, and all other ways are dead ends. The exclusive nature of the Gospel of Jesus Christ makes it a dead end to go any other way. This is the only fresh and living way.
In the last part of Hebrews 10:20, everything ended for the Old Covenant, and everything begins for the New Covenant people. At the exact time of Jesus’ death on the cross and at the ninth hour, which is three o’clock in the afternoon, the heavy temple veil was rent in two. That afternoon, hundreds of people were in the temple area, and the priests were busy preparing for the evening sacrifice. It must have been amazing to have been there when God tore the huge veil from top to bottom. The empty room of the holy of holies stood wide open before the priests.
When thinking about the holy of holies, there was the holy place, which was the first place you entered in the tabernacle. However, it was the holy of holies the high priest could go once a year. In this passage of Hebrews, he is talking about the holy of holies. Mark 15:33-39:
When the sixth hour came, darkness fell over the whole land until the ninth hour. 34At the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “ELOI, ELOI, LAMA SABACHTHANI?” which is translated, “MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?” 35When some of the bystanders heard it, they began saying, “Behold, He is calling for Elijah.” 36Someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed, and gave Him a drink, saying, “Let us see whether Elijah will come to take Him down.” 37And Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed His last. 38And the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39When the centurion, who was standing right in front of Him, saw the way He breathed His last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”
This is where God ended it all. In one message, I said that in 70 A.D. the whole sacrificial system ended, but this is where it really ended. On the Cross, everything ended for the old system. In the new system, everything began. Therefore, we have the privilege to know that through the atoning Blood of Jesus, the true High Priest had opened the way into God’s presence. In Hebrews 10:20, the “veil” is His flesh. The torn veil is a picture of the torn body of Christ, who made it possible for us to worship Him at the throne of God. The same hand that tore the veil in the temple, from top to bottom, tore Jesus’ body on our behalf. Isaiah 53:10:
But the LORD was pleased
To crush Him, putting Him to grief;
If He would render Himself as a guilt offering,
He will see His offspring,
He will prolong His days,
And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand.
Through Christ’s body, God tore that opening between us and God. It is done now forever because He was the final sacrifice and our High Priest, who accomplished everything so that we could come into God’s presence. Bottom line, we must enter the holy place of prayer. Christ is in heaven interceding, so while we’re on this side of eternity, we enter the presence of God through prayer.
Prayer is the entry way, and that’s why we come confidentially talking. Prayer means we can enter God’s presence. Truly, we must know that prayer is permission to enter His presence because we are forgiven. Having believed in Jesus Christ for salvation, believers have a new standing before God because Jesus Christ had died in their place and was sacrificed on their behalf. It is a standing they didn’t have before since they are now able to approach God. They have repented, believed, and were granted forgiveness of sins.
One of the components of the New Covenant is that you’re forgiven of your sins; therefore, you have permission to come. Secondly, prayer is confidence. It is to come to the mercy seat at any time, in any posture, and in any place. Also, it is confidence that you don’t have to wonder if God hears or if He is there. You don’t have to wonder if you have the right to pray. You don’t have to wonder if God is stooping down and listening to you.
When the Old Testament passages of Scriptures talk about God listening, it means, in Hebrew, to stoop down and listen, so God is coming close to hear what you have to say. This is a picture of intimacy. We are no longer an enemy of God, but a child and a friend of God. Therefore, if you are a believer, God is never against you. He is with you, for you, listening to your prayer, and waiting to meet your need.
Prayer ought to be persistent, so never ceasing. The Bible says that even in weakness of our flesh, when we feel empty, and when we feel cold, we are to keep coming and persist in prayer as an expression of our complete dependency on God for all aspects of our existences. Persistence flows from the certainty, confidence, and boldness of our creaturely helplessness and logical conviction from Scripture that God alone can help us. Psalms 73:25-26:
Whom have I in heaven but You?
And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.
26My flesh and my heart may fail,
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Have you ever felt like that? Like your flesh, emotions, feelings, friends, family, education, experience, and job has failed you. However, as said in Psalms 73:26, “God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” You don’t have to worry about anything else. Without persistent prayer, we have no offense in the battle against evil. Remember, Christ defeated Satan and death. In Hebrews, it tells us that everything is done.
As a Pastor, I have found to get people to gather for prayer is the hardest thing and most discouraging thing for me. If there is no prayer, there is no power. If we are not vigilant, we will be ensnared by temptation, by worldliness, by fleshliness, by satanic influence, and the enemies of our life. Our defense and offense are active, persistent, earnest, and believing prayer. As believers, this is what we ought to do.
Regular and continual prayer show one’s priorities, concerns, and passions. I implore you to remember that prayer is always first and should always be regular. We have this great privilege before us to come into God’s presence by talking, meeting, walking, and pouring out our heart to our Lord. Yet, we don’t take advantage of this. We think we have all these priorities in our life, yet the most important priority, we neglect. By the time you get to it, you are so tired, you fall asleep, and decide to pray. That is not prayer. That is your priorities all screwed up.
If the church doesn’t get this priority corrected, that’s a real bad thing. Sinful interruptions, satanic attempts to distract your mind, and good things derail your prayers such as sports, work, hobbies, studies, and families. These are all one hundred thousand excuses.
In Hebrews 25, it is mainly talking about corporate prayer. We forget corporate prayer, which is the church and the body meeting together to seek God out. We must rethink how we do prayer in our church. I know other things must be done, but if we are not praying for Sunday School, the preaching, and other struggling individuals, then where is the power behind that?
Prayer must be offered in faith that God is a hearer and an answerer of prayer, and that He will fulfill His word. Matthew 7:8:
For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.
We are to have a continuous inner channel of communication with God. Prayer is worship to the Lord, in which He deserves our adoration coupled with a thankful heart. Prayer means we remain keenly aware of our constant need of Jesus Christ, our High Priest. Hebrews 4:14-15:
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.
Jesus understands our deepest needs. Also, we need to come with humility. James 4:6:
But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.
If you are not praying, it means you are not humble and do not need help. You realize that we have spiritual wickedness against us, so we need help every second of every day before God. Also, we need mercy and forgiveness. Hebrews 4:16:
Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Brethren, we are battling forces greater than ourselves. Therefore, we need to be praying. As believers, it is our primary duty. After all that doctrine, this is the first point of practice: confidence to come before the Lord in prayer. Not many deny that prayer is important, but practically, many have been atheists when it comes to prayer. We think that we should do it, but we don’t seek God’s face on normal days for everything. Believe me, I’m preaching to myself too, not just to you.
When Jesus turned over the tables of the money changers in the temple, he called the place where God’s people met together the place of prayer, especially since prayer is the most important, holy duty of the gathered assembly. Matthew 21:13:
And He said to them, “It is written, ‘MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER’; but you are making it a ROBBERS’ DEN.”
We can take a place where God’s people are supposed to gather and make it something other than what God intended it to be. We can do a lot of things as a church, but if we don’t pray, we’re in trouble. The life, power, and glory of the church is prayer. It shows that we are all together, depending on our God. We know we cannot do it without Him. We need this spiritual strength: the life of it’s members is dependent on prayer, the presence of God is secured and retained by prayer, and the very place in which we meet is sanctified when we pray. Without it, the church is lifeless and powerless. Without it, even the building itself is nothing more than a structure.
With prayer, in the house of God, which is anywhere people gather to meet, the house of God lacks nothing. When people come to pray, it has all the beauty that you could ever imagine. Without prayer, the church is like a body without spirit; therefore, it is dead. A church with prayer in it has God in it and has a bunch of people in it who believes what the bible teaches and is doing what it says.
Accordingly, the first point of doing is to come confidentially into the presence of God to pray together. Some of the things that are happening in your life and in my life have been a result of not praying, especially when we try to do it ourselves or get other people to try to help us. Yet, we never bring it before the Lord. The Lord allows us to do things like that, and then we get ourselves tied in all kinds of knots. Everything breaks down around us, and then we wonder what is going on. You haven’t even prayed about it, you haven’t brought it to your brethren, or brought your prayers and intercessions before the Lord.
When prayer is set aside, God is outlawed. When prayer becomes an unfamiliar exercise, then God is a stranger in that place, especially since prayer is about talking to God. Prayer is about a bunch of people who can know why they can come into the presence of God at any time, any place, and anywhere. They are filled with adoration and praise to the Lord, and they are filled with things to talk about with the Lord.
As God’s house becomes a house of prayer, the divine intention is that people should leave their homes to go to meet Him in His house with His gathered people. The building itself is set apart for prayer, especially as God has made a special promise to meet His people there. God is delighted when we meet, and He is filled with joy when we meet for prayer. Therefore, it is our duty to go there.
Prayer should be the chief attraction for all spiritually minded church goers. As a church body, this is one thing we must work on. No one is exempt or has an excuse higher than this priority. We must find ways to come together on a regular basis and all the time to pray. This coming year, we must have a plan to do it, so that everybody is involved. I know people live distances away, but there is a way to do this.
When we haven’t prayed about something that we should have, I feel very nervous about that, and I should be. I want to be so prayed up and overflowing in this area where we’re just boldly doing things because we know God is going to bless it already. After we understand our conversion to Christ and what He has done for us, we have a great gift and privilege and we often don’t use it as we should.
Now, we need to change that, put our priorities back in order, and start implementing this practice of our faith. To come confidentially, boldly, and assuredly into the presence of God as a body. Let’s pray:
Lord, Thank You, for the Word of God. Lord, forgive us of the sin of not being prayerful as a body. Forgive us, Lord, of the sin of not being prayerful as individuals in Your body. Lord, I pray, that whatever anyone is going through today in their life, including myself, that You would help us to reexamine the area of prayer, especially as to where it is in our priorities. I pray that we would put it where it ought to be first. As we do that, Lord, help us to adjust our schedules and our calendars to reflect that priority. Lord, You know our heart and the motives of our heart. You know our weakness and our tendencies to go in directions that we ought not to go. Lord, please enable us to be able to prioritize prayer, especially corporate payer, and implement it this year to bring all our needs, intercessions, and petitions before You, Lord. I pray that we would learn to enjoy coming before You. That we would learn to put all other things aside to come before You. Lord, I pray that we would see great things happen. That we know only You could do because we are seeking You out, and we’re praying humbly before Your face because we know our great need, and we need to be in Your presence, Lord. That is why we are saved. O, Lord, that is going to be our future. We know, Lord, that’s the greatest thing we have. So, help us, Lord. Give us wisdom, as a body, to be able to put this first major point of practice into being, and that it’d be a regular part of our routine. Thank You, Lord, for challenging us and rebuking us in this way. Help us, Lord, now to do what you say. In Christ, I pray, Amen.