The last time we looked at Hebrews, we talked about the will of God. We saw in the text how it has always been God’s will from eternity that Jesus Christ save His elect by dying for their sins.
We saw in the text that Christ has accomplished God’s will; that is, He has saved His people. And the way He did this was by offering His body to God at the cross as a sacrifice for His people’s sins.
He offered Himself as a substitute for His people. And as their substitute, He took to Himself the punishment for their sins and died in their place as the One made guilty for their sins.
His death, as punishment for their sins, has fully and forever satisfied God’s wrath that had stood against His people for their sins.
As a consequence of having satisfied God’s wrath on behalf of His elect, Christ did purchase for His elect their justification, their faith, their conversion, their new birth, and their resurrection.
In view of what Christ has accomplished for them, God now must impute them righteous, for His justice has been satisfied. He must bring them to faith and He must justify them. And at the last day He must raise them from the dead and clothe them with immortality.
Elsewhere in the text we also saw that by accomplishing God’s will, Christ has forever put away all the sacrifices and offerings required by the old Mosaic law.
We saw that these sacrifices and offerings could never accomplish God’s will. They could never put away His people’s sins. This is why they had to be continually repeated. The best they could do was postpone for one more year that inevitable date with judgment, but they could never once and for all put away sins.
Christ however, has put away His people’s sins. He has put away the punishment for them by suffering that punishment Himself.
And lastly, we saw that by His death, Christ did once and for all put away the old Mosaic covenant itself – including its law – and did in its place establish a new covenant which God had promised beforehand from eternity, and which comes with its own identifiable, written law, independent of the laws of all those old covenants, and which Christians are to obey today, but not for righteousness.
This is where we have been. Today, we are going to look at the second half of chapter 10, which begins with verse 19, but we’re going to start with verse 11 instead of verse 19, because we need to pick up a few things before we head into verse 19.
So, Hebrews 10, starting with verse 11.
11 And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.
I mentioned this a moment ago. The first three verses of this chapter go into this. The old covenant sacrifices could never take away sin. This is why the priests of that covenant had to keep ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices.
Notice the text says the priest stands. He was never allowed to sit. And the reason why he could never sit was because atonement had not been accomplished, the work was not finished.
I think we mentioned before how in Matthew’s gospel we find the women approaching the tomb of Jesus only to find the stone that covered the entrance of the tomb rolled away and an angel seated upon it.
He was seated, see. The work was finished. Christ had accomplished God’s will.
It’s the same idea we find in the next verse where Christ is seated at the right hand of God, and also in Ephesians 2 where we are told that the saints are even right now seated with Christ in heavenly places.
12 But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, 13 from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool.
Seated at the right hand of God does not mean Christ spatially occupies a space on the right side of God’s throne versus the left side.
No, right hand is a Hebrewism. It’s a turn of phrase, in other words. It’s a Jewish way of saying He is seated upon the heavenly throne. He is the King of the universe, the supreme authority over all power and dominion in heaven and on earth. And keep in mind, He is seated there. He is not standing.
As for Christ being seated “from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool”, this is a reference from Psalm 110. The author has quoted from this Psalm several times already in his epistle. He quoted from it in chapter 1, in chapter 5 and again in chapter 7. And here again in chapter 10 he makes reference to it.
What is so important about this Psalm? Well, in Psalm 110 we see Christ made a high priest by a promise.
The Lord has sworn
And will not relent,
“You are a priest forever
According to the order of Melchizedek.”
We also overhear God the Father saying to God the Son, “Sit here until I make all Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.”
And lastly we also find God making His people willing in the day of His power. What is the day of His power? The day of His power is that day He converted you. It’s the day He converts each of His elect.
The I in Tulip, irresistible grace, is a reference to this. In that day He made us willing to believe His gospel.
We continue with our text, verse 14.
14 For by a single offering He has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.
We talked about this phrase being sanctified last time. Verse 10 tells us that, “By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” It’s a once and done act, it’s finished. Verse 14 reiterates this, “He has perfected.”
We talked about how the phrase being sanctified here in verse 14 here is referring to effectual calling. It’s referring to that day of His power.
Although all the elect have been redeemed 2000 years ago, they are still nevertheless born in need of being imputed righteous and effectually called.
15 But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; for after He had said before,
The Holy Spirit also witnesses to us. And how does the Holy Spirit witness to us? By His written word. That’s what the author is showing us here.
“But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us, for after He had SAID . . .” and then the author quotes from the Old Testament.
These verses taken from the Old Testament is what the Holy Spirit said. The Holy Spirit spoke the Old Testament and He spoke the New Testament. His written word is His witness.
Moving on to verse 17.
“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more”
This is the eternal promise of the new covenant.
Where there is forgiveness of these there is no longer any offering for sin.
What’s the these? The these are verse 17, “their sins and lawless deeds.”
Where there is forgiveness of their sins and lawless deeds, there is no longer any offering for sin. And the reason why there is no longer any offering for sin is because there is no need for any offering for sin. Christ was the final sacrifice. His sacrifice has once and for all put away all His people’s sins.
Okay, so you get what this first half of the chapter is getting at. It’s done. It’s finished. No more sacrifices. No more offerings. No more seeking to put away sin. No more seeking to atone for sin, to get our sins forgiven. No, it’s done. All of the sins of all of the elect have been once and for all put away.
Keeping all of this in mind, we now move to the second half of this chapter.
The first thing we should note about the second half of this chapter is that it follows a therefore. This is how the passage begins. It begins with the word, “therefore.”
Now, as you have probably already heard many times before, when you see the word “therefore” see what it’s there for.
The word therefore is like an imaginary equals line. 2 + 2 =. It draws a conclusion from a previous passage. It’s like saying, in the light of everything I’ve just said, now therefore.
This means that if you want to find out what he means by what he is going to say next, then you had better first make sure you understand what he has already said before, because whatever he is going to say next is going to be said within the light of what he has already said before.
What the author of Hebrews has said before is this: “that where there is forgiveness of lawless deeds, there is no longer any offering for sin.” This is verse 18. It summarizes everything he has said from verse 1 to verse 17.
Now that Christ has put away all His people’s lawless deeds, therefore, in the light of this.
What follows the therefore is an assertion.
19 Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus.
Notice that. HAVING BOLDNESS. The ESV puts it, “SINCE we have confidence.”
This is not a suggestion. He is not saying he thinks it would be a pretty good idea were we to try to be bold here about entering the holy places. No.
Nor is he telling us this boldness is something for the mature Christian; that it’s something we grow into, a higher life kind of thing. No, he is not saying that either.
What the author is telling us instead is that it is a foregone conclusion. If you believe the gospel, then of course you have boldness to enter the holy places without fear of punishment. There is no question you have confidence. It’s absurd to even consider the idea of someone believing the gospel and yet not having boldness to enter the holy places without fear of punishment.
Why is it absurd? Because listen to what the gospel says.
We went over it in the first half of this chapter.
The gospel tells us that it has always been God’s will that Jesus Christ save His elect by dying for their sins, and that Jesus Christ did indeed accomplish this. That is, He has removed His people’s lawless deeds by offering His own body to God as a sacrifice for His peoples’ lawless deeds. God no longer counts their lawless deeds against them, because He has counted them to Christ. And having been counted with His people’s lawless deeds, He then satisfied God’s wrath that once stood against them for their lawless deeds by dying the death they had earned for their lawless deeds.
He has once and for all perfected them. Not one of them will be lost, and He will bring every one of them to believe that this is true.
Now, how can someone who believes their lawless deeds are no longer counted to them NOT have boldness to enter into God’s presence? The idea is absurd.
Contrast this with what the Catholic Church teaches.
Rome tells us that assurance is a sin, because we can never be certain we have done enough to atone for our sins.
Well do we dismiss right from the start, but don’t think for one moment Rome is alone in this. No. The fact is this nonsense has been creeping into Calvinist circles for some time now.
Consider the Puritans. They were terrible for it. Lots of Puritans taught that some Christians will never be assured of their salvation, and that even those who would be still had to struggle through years and sometimes even decades of doubt first.
Now yes, they didn’t say Christians wouldn’t have assurance because they had to atone for their sins, nor did they say it was a sin to have assurance; but nevertheless, they still treated assurance as if it were some near impossible to attain goal that God delights in keeping from His saints.
No, absolutely not. This kind of nonsense has helped feed into heresies like Lordship Salvation and Federal Vision.
Lordship tells us that we can have assurance, all right, but not by faith alone. No. We have to look to what the Spirit is doing to our behavior instead. More about that later.
For now though, have you ever heard someone say you can’t know whether you’re really saved or not until after Christ returns? I have. I’ve heard it a bunch of times, and let me tell you, it is garbage.
Imagine someone, they have just recently been brought to believe the gospel, and then one of the first things they hear after being brought to believe the gospel is some preacher or person on the internet telling them that they cannot really be certain they are saved. What are these people saying? They’re denying the gospel. They are telling us that if we are certain God keeps His promises, then we are being presumptuous and that we mustn’t think this way.
Every gospel believer from the newest to the oldest has the right to enter boldly into God’s presence without fear of punishment. He has the right to expect the Father to hear his prayers. He has the right to expect to be raised at the last day and to be clothed with immortality. It’s a foregone conclusion that he has the right to expect this, and that he will, in fact, expect this.
What about this Holiest though? What is the Holiest?
If you were an Old Testament Jew the only place you would know as holy is the Temple itself, and by extension the various rooms within the Temple; the courtyards, the altar and so forth.
But more precisely, for an Old Testament Jew, the Holiest would refer specifically to the innermost room called The Most Holy Place and located in the Holy Place.
The Most Holy Place was where the ark of the covenant was kept. It was said to be God’s throne and the place where His Presence dwelt.
A thick, heavy curtain hung between the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place. The purpose of this curtain was to separate the sinful worshippers who were outside in the Holy Place from God’s presence within the Most Holy Place.
The reason why this curtain was needed was because of man’s sin. Man, because of his lawless deeds, could not enter into God’s presence.
But now that Christ has removed His people’s lawless deeds by offering His own body to God as a sacrifice for His peoples’ lawless deeds, that curtain which separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place has been torn in two. It’s been removed. The way to the tree of life is now open to God’s elect. They now have free and unfettered access into God’s presence without fear of punishment.
And so what the author means by Holies is simply the Presence of God. Since we now have free and unfettered access into God’s presence, let us therefore approach Him with boldness . . .
. . . verse 20 . . .
20 by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and having a High Priest over the house of God, 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.
Full assurance of faith. Confidence. Boldness. That is, the full assurance that what they believe is true.
And what they believe is true is that they now have the right to enter into God’s presence without fear of punishment, because Christ has removed their lawless deeds by offering His body to God at the cross as punishment for their lawless deeds.
They are fully assured, certain, confident the Father will hear their prayers. They are fully assured, certain, confident that Christ will raise them at the last day.
The next part of our passage echoes this confidence yet again. Verse 23
23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 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.
The reason why the elect have the right to enter into God’s presence is because Christ has redeemed them and has imputed them righteous. And because they are convinced this is true, the elect also know and are convinced that their sins have been put away and so therefore their conscience is clean.
A true heart is a heart that is convinced this is true. Convinced, assured, confident. Therefore, let us hold fast our confession of hope then.
In the light of this, in light of the fact that we have the confidence to enter into God’s presence without fear of punishment, let us then consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together as is the habit of some.
I have a question. Why would a justified saint, made righteous by the cross of Christ – NOT want to meet with their brothers and sisters in order to stir and be stirred up to love and good works?
That’s a good question. But let put that on hold for a moment, because I think we will understand the answer better in light of the rest of the passage.
I will come back to it though, I promise.
Continuing with our passage. Verse 26.
26 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.
And here we come to what I think is the third most abused, misused, maligned and misunderstood passage in all the Bible; third only to James chapter 2 and John 3:16.
Some of the interpretations I have heard concerning this passage just anger me. The most self righteous, God dishonoring commentary that I have ever heard center around this passage.
I have heard preachers and theologians and people with Ph D’s after their name say everything about this verse from it teaches us that we can lose our salvation to it says we aren’t saved if we keep sinning willfully, or as the ESV puts it, deliberately.
Let me begin by saying that both of these “opinions” and just about everything in between is foolishness. It’s foolishness. It’s just garbage.
This verse is not teaching us that we can lose our salvation. How could it be when in every single verse that preceded it has reminded us time and again that the work is finished and our sins have been put away?
For by one sacrifice He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. Hello? Forever means forever, doesn’t it? Forever does not mean such time only as until I sin.
Nor is this verse teaching us that we are not saved if we go on sinning willfully. How could it be when in every single verse that precedes it we are reminded time and again that the work is finished and that our sins have been put away? For by one sacrifice He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. Hullo? What part of He has perfected does not include the sins we sin willfully?
His perfect sacrifice has put away all His people’s sins, including those sins which they sin willfully or deliberately.
The gospel does not say He took our sins done in ignorance, but He left us to atone on our own for the willful ones.
No, the Bible says He was made sin. It does not say He was made accidental sin, but not willful sin.
Nor does the Bible teach that He was made accidental and willful sins in reference ONLY to that time before the elect are converted, but He was only made accidental sin for that time when after they are converted.
You see how absurd this gets?
Look at what James tell us about our sinning.
But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin.
Sounds to me like he’s saying it’s all willful.
There is this idea found in false gospels that says the purpose of the cross, the reason why Christ came to die for His people, was to prepare His people for the Holy Spirit’s work of making them more obedient and less sinful, and that if you are not progressing towards becoming less sinful and more obedient, then you have not the Spirit of Christ and are not really a Christian.
Now think about that for a moment. I want us to do a little thought exercise. Suppose for a moment that this were true, just for a moment. Suppose the purpose of the cross was indeed to prepare God’s people for the work of becoming better, more law obedient, less sinful people with the help of the Spirit.
If this was true, then wouldn’t we be in the process of becoming less needful of the cross?
If I am becoming less sinful, then the fact is I am needing less of His cross today than I did when He first converted me. Right? See that?
Do you think Christ is glorified by people having less need of His sacrifice? I don’t think so.
You see, a man who is growing less sinful every year is also a man who is needing less of the cross every year. He is needing less of that righteousness, because he is gaining a righteousness from his own obedience.
In addition to this foolishness though, there’s another problem, because if we are getting better about not sinning, then it is true our conscience remains polluted with the sin that we haven’t gotten better about yet.
How, in that case, with a polluted conscience, are we supposed to approach the throne of grace with confidence? We couldn’t.
This nonsense is not only found among the Pentecostals, and Methodists, and Finney-Wesley circles of Arminianism either. No, it is every bit as entrenched in Presbyterian and reformed circles, as well.
The purpose of the cross was not to prepare the elect for the process of becoming conformed in their obedience to Christ’s obedience. No, we just read what the purpose of the cross was right here in the first half of chapter 10.
The purpose of the cross was to perfect the elect once and for all time. In other words, to present them perfect and complete in righteousness. The cross has done that, once and for all. Once and for all is not progressive. Once and for all is definite, done, finished. This is why there are no more sacrifices.
What then is this passage talking about if it’s not talking about a progressive holiness?
Let’s read the passage again to see what is happening here. Verse 21
21 and having a High Priest over the house of God, 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. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 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.
Verse 26 connects to verse 25. Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, BUT INSTEAD EXHORTING ONE ANOTHER. In other words, let’s continue to meet in order to encourage one another.
To encourage one another about what though? Verses 24 and 23.
23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope WITHOUT WAVERING.
Let’s exhort one another to not waver. Waver about what? Verse 21 and 22.
21 and having a High Priest over the house of God, 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
In other words, let’s keep meeting with each other in order to keep exhorting one another to not waver in our faith in the great priest who is over the house of God and who has made us to draw near to God in full assurance of faith with a clean conscience.
Because if you do waver from this, if you willfully draw back from this high priest and His sacrifice, then there no longer remains a sacrifice for your sins. Why? Verse 18, remember that one? Where there is forgiveness of lawless deeds, there is NO LONGER an offering for sin.
There is no more offering for sin, folks. That’s it. No more. So if we draw back in doubt from this one, then we’re stuck, because there are no more sacrifices to be had.
Do you see that?
There is nothing in this passage about you’d better start shaping up and start sinning less if you don’t want to lose your salvation. Good grief.
Listen, men who teach that kind of nonsense are spiritual perverts. They really are. They are spiritual perverts.
They pervert the gospel of God’s sovereign grace. They are enemies of the cross of Christ, their god is their belly and they glory in their shame. They are men who delight in perverting God’s word for the purpose of gathering disciples to themselves, and they are to be avoided.
Let me say again as I have said in times past, I am against the Zane Hodges’ tattoo version of Christianity in which you stroll up to an altar or repeat a prayer, and boom, you got your ticket punched. You got your permanent Jesus tattoo. You can go home, never think of Christ again, you can even decide to become a Buddhist or an Atheist, it doesn’t matter, you’re still going to heaven no matter what you believe, because you got your ticket punched.
No, I am against that. That is a false gospel, make no mistake about it.
But I am equally against this modern brand of Neonomianism called Lordship Salvation that says you aren’t really saved if you don’t have less sin to show for it.
These guys love to talk about “balance”. This is their favorite word, “balance.” I’ve heard them talk about the first half of this chapter as if it were just one side of a two-sided coin.
They’ll say yes, that first half, it’s all about the work being finished, it’s about what Christ has accomplished for His elect. Yeah, that’s what it’s about. But now we have to BALANCE that.
We have to “balance” all that grace and redemption with our responsibility. We can’t just go out there start acting like that stuff is actually true. No, we have to temper that grace with a big heaping helping of self righteous motivation. It might be finished, but it ain’t finished until it’s finished in us.
I’ve said it before, let me say it again. These guys, they stand outside the front door of their churches crying, “By grace alone, by grace alone, it’s all been finished by Christ.” But the moment you cross the threshold and step inside, that’s when they demand you show them some works to prove you belong inside. And if you can’t, then they escort you out the backdoor while they continue to shout it’s all by grace alone at the front door.
Lordship Salvation is a false gospel. It dishonors God and perverts the gospel into a morning makeover show. But the gospel is no morning makeover show. God is not Dr Phil, and there are no before and after photos.
But we do still have that question I asked a moment ago. Why would a justified saint, made righteous by the cross of Christ, not want to meet with their brothers and sisters in order to stir and be stirred up to love and good works?
Certainly there are a number of different reasons why someone might get into the habit of not gathering regularly for fellowship. Laziness is right at the top. I’ve been prone to that myself. Petty bickering, jealousies, is another one.
But consider who he is writing to. These Hebrews were drawing back in doubt. They kept laying new foundations of repentance every time they turned around.
Now let me quickly add here before I continue that I am NOT talking about those brothers and sisters who have no where to fellowship. Not at all. The tragedy is we have lots of brothers and sisters who are in a situation where they have nowhere to fellowship. I am NOT referring to them.
Nor am I referring to the occasional emergency. Truck breaks down, you get sick, someone in the family dies, whatever. I’m not talking about that either.
No, what I’m talking about is the person who has somewhere to fellowship, they have a local body of solid gospel believers they can gather with, but they consistently refuse to do so. Why?
I mean, consider our fellowship here. We have had dozens and dozens of people in our fellowship here come and go over the years. They’re no longer with us. Some have come for a few weeks and then we never see them again. Others have come and have stayed for a number of years before they disappear never to be seen or heard from again.
In some of those cases the people who left seemed to be confident in their assurance, but they are still no longer here with us. How confident were they really then?
In other cases, some of the people who left us seemed never to be assured. They were always struggling with doubt, never fixed and certain in their faith.
Let me say that if you are struggling with assurance, if you are uncertain of your salvation, then the last place you need to be avoiding is fellowship with your brothers and sisters in Christ. Because I’m going to warn you right now. If you are struggling with assurance, then it’s only a matter of time before you start finding yourself tossed about by every wave and wind of doctrine. It’s going to happen, because at the end of the day assurance is what you are looking for and you’ll chase anything and anyone who promises it.
If the good news of what Christ has accomplished for His people is not enough to assure you, then the only thing left to you is a fearful expectation of judgment.
You see, the irony here is that the person who doubts, he is still expectant of something. We are all expectant of something, because there is no other sacrifice to be had. Either we are expectant of our salvation, or we are expectant of our condemnation and death. There is no other sacrifice to be had.
I’m not saying that the person who is struggling with assurance is not a Christian. No, these very Hebrews here were drawing back in doubt. The author doesn’t tell them they’re lost. No, he tells them he feels confident about better things concerning them.
But keep in mind they were still gathering for fellowship, so he knew they were at least hearing him preach the gospel to them. What can we say about those who are no longer gathering with us to fellowship?
Not a good situation they’ve put themselves in, is it?
I think in addition to this there are some Christians who honestly do not know and understand what the role of gathering for fellowship plays in the life of the believer. We’re told right here what it is. To gather in order to encourage one another to not waver in our faith.
Listen, if you aren’t here to help encourage your brothers and sisters in Christ, then who is going to encourage them? And if you aren’t here to be encouraged, then how are you being encouraged?
I mean, are you just giving up on ever doing any good works at all? Is that it? You have no intention of honoring God by presenting your bodies as living sacrifices? You have no gratitude or thanksgiving to render to Him?
It reminds me of the ten lepers. Christ healed all ten, but only one returned to give thanksgiving and praise. Whatever the reason why you are not in the habit of fellowshipping, that’s between you and God, but I encourage you to examine yourself if you are one of these.
Let’s keep going so we can finish our passage. We’re almost done.
28 Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses.
The author uses an example from the Old Testament to prove his point about not wavering in our faith. He’s saying look here, if you want evidence that there no longer remains a sacrifice for people who willfully draw back in unbelief after having heard and understood the gospel of God’s sovereign grace, then consider this. Anyone who sat aside the law of Moses died without mercy once it was proven by the testimony of two or three witnesses that he had set aside the law of Moses.
Your absence from regular fellowship, what do you think that witnesses of? Not good.
29 How much worse punishment then, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?
When he says “he was sanctified” he’s being hypothetical. He’s saying look here, if a person under the old covenant died without mercy for setting aside the law of Moses, then imagine how much worse the punishment will be for anyone who draws back in unbelief?
I hope that some of those folks who have gone out from us, I hope they hear this message sometime this week. And I hope God uses it to convict them, and to bring them back. Whatever you are going through some of you, whatever issues you are struggling with, whatever doubt you might have, the last thing you need is to be isolated from fellowship with the people of God.