“Boldly Go” – Hebrews 10:15-25

December 23rd, 2018

Hebrews 10:15-25

Sermon Title: “Boldly Go”

Aux. Text: 2 Corinthians 3:7-18

Call to Worship: Psalm 24

Advent Text: Luke 1:67-79

 

Service Orientation: With all the Older Testament’s warnings, examples and teaching that we need to keep our distance from God; our being “In Christ” now allows us to come into His presence with confident assurance.

 

Bible Memory Verse for the Week:  Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. — Hebrews 4:16

                                                                                                                                           

Background Information:

  • We’ve come to the end of the doctrinal part of Hebrews. The writer has proved his case.  There can no longer be any doubt, Christianity is vastly superior to Judaism.  The old system with its bondage and endless sacrifices was powerless to help man at the point of his greatest need.  (C. S. Lovett, Lovett’s Lights on Hebrews, 220-1)
  • The writer to the Hebrews now comes to the practical implication of all that he has been saying. From theology he turns to practical exhortation.  He is one of the deepest theologians in the NT but all his theology is governed by the pastoral instinct.  He does not think merely for the thrill of intellectual satisfaction but only that he may the more forcibly appeal to men to enter into the presence of God.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series, Hebrews, 119)
  • (v. 15) Another witness to the finality of Christ’s perfect sacrifice is the Holy Spirit. He “also testifies to us about this,” the author writes.  Note the present tense “testifies,” reminding us that the Spirit not only authored what was written in the past but also witnesses through it in the present.  (Richard E. Lauersdorf, The People’s Bible: Hebrews, 112)
  • (v. 16) The author has chosen this text to illustrate that with the coming of Christ and the completion of his sacrificial work, the era of the new covenant has commenced. God makes a new covenant with his people, puts his laws in their hearts and writes them on their minds.  Believers redeemed by Christ live a life of gratitude by keeping God’s commandments.  These laws are an integral part of their covenant relationship to God.  (William Hendriksen & Simon J. Kistemaker, NT Commentary: Hebrews, 283)
  • (v. 17) If the sins themselves have gone, and God will remember them no more, no further sacrifice is required for them. What need do you have of cleansing if you are so clean that God Himself sees no sin in you?  O glorious purgation by the atoning sacrifice of Christ!  Rejoice in it, and praise the Lord for it forever and ever.  (Charles Spurgeon, Spurgeon Commentary: Hebrews, 284)
  • (v. 17) For God to remember our sins no more is the same as for him to forgive them; obviously, sins effectively dealt with in this way, fully forgiven and put out of sight (so different from the situation under the Levitical system), have no need of further propitiation. The all-sufficient propitiation has been made, once and forever (1 Jn 2:2).  At last the longing of the centuries has been satisfied:  true forgiveness of sins is provided by Christ’s one perfect sacrifice of himself on the cross.  (Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, 404)
  • (v. 17) The readers were being put on the horns of a great dilemma, which they could not escape. The Holy Spirit, through the writer of Hebrews, is saying, “You cannot accept the teaching of your own beloved prophet Jeremiah and yet reject the New Covenant he prophesied.  You cannot accept one without the other.”  To accept Jeremiah is to accept Jesus Christ.  To reject Jesus Christ is to reject Jeremiah (not to mention the many other prophets who spoke of the Messiah ) and to reject the Holy Spirit Himself.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 257)
  • (v. 18) For the Christian, because he has never known the ritual of animal sacrifices, the words “there is no longer any sacrifice for sin” are somewhat matter-of-fact. But for the person of Jewish descent in the second half of the first century, these words must have struck with thunderous finality.  The age-old Levitical system of presenting sacrifices to God was rendered pointless with the death of Christ.  To be sure, the termination took place in A.D. 70 when the Roman army destroyed the sanctuary in Jerusalem.  (William Hendriksen & Simon J. Kistemaker, NT Commentary: Hebrews, 283-4)
  • (v. 19) So we come here to the great turning-point in Hebrews where the writer turns from the explanation of the superiority of the person and work of Christ to the application of it in the lives of the storm-tossed church. The shift can be stated in various ways:  from doctrine to duty, from creed to conduct, from precept to practice, from instruction to exhortation, all of which mean one thing–the writer becomes very explicit regarding how Christians ought to live.  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: Hebrews, vol. 2, 29)
  • (v. 20) Thus the fact of the incarnation, the partaking by the Son of our human nature, is indissolubly connected with the purpose of the incarnation, the suffering of death for the propitiation of our sins. The significance, then, of the analogy between the curtain of the tabernacle and the flesh of Jesus “is only this,” to quote Owen, “that by virtue of the sacrifice of Christ, wherein his flesh was torn and rent, we have a full entrance into the holy place [meaning, as the context shows, the most holy place], such as would have been of old upon the rendering of the veil.”  (Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, 409-10)
  • (v. 20) With “curtain” the author speaks of Christ’s body as being the entrance to heaven. Just as the high priest entered through the ornamental curtain into the Most Holy Place in the Tabernacle so we enter into heaven through Christ’s body given for our sins on the cross.  (Richard E. Lauersdorf, The People’s Bible: Hebrews, 116)
  • (v. 22) This is the third exhortation and the third virtue of the triad faith (v. 22), hope (v. 23), and love (v. 24). Earlier in the epistle the author elaborated on this triad (6:10-12).  In harmony with the conclusion of Paul’s letter of love (1 Cor 13:13) and other passages where he mentions the triad (Rom 5:1-5; Gal 5:5-6; Col 1:4-5; 1 Thess 1:3; 5:8; and see 1 Pt 1:21-22), the writer of Hebrews shows that love is the greatest because it reaches out to others.  Love is communal.  For man, love extends to God and one’s neighbor.  (William Hendriksen & Simon J. Kistemaker, NT Commentary: Hebrews, 289)
  • (v. 22) In man’s nature the heart is the central power. As the heart is so is the man.  The desire and the choice, the love and the hatred of the heart prove what a man is already, and decide what he is to become.  Just as we judge of a man’s physical character, his size and strength and age and habits, by his outward appearance, so the heart gives the real inward man his character; and “the hidden man of the heart” is what God looks to.  (Andrew Murray, The Holiest of All, 369)
  • (v. 22) Sincere (alēthinos) means genuine, without superficiality, hypocrisy, or ulterior motive. Coming to God with full assurance requires commitment that is genuine.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 262)
  • (v. 22) Observe first that he speaks of “pure” water. “Pure” here must be taken in the sense of “holy” in that it is devoted to God’s use.  It does not mean that it is distilled or boiled, or has any sacredness about it.  That means it is used for ceremonial cleansing such as we find, for example, in the washing of the OT priests at the laver before entering the tabernacle to minister before the Lord (Lv 8:6; Ex 30:19-21).  The NT use of “holy” water is in baptism.  (C. S. Lovett, Lovett’s Lights on Hebrews, 227)
  • (v. 23) The author of Hebrews uses katecho to speak of keeping a tight grip on the Christian faith, keeping it from slipping away. (George H. Guthrie, The NIV Application Commentary: Hebrews, 344)
  • (v. 23) At 10:23, the writer intensifies the concept of “holding on” with the adverb akline, which the NIV renders as “unswervingly.” This rich word literally means “that which does not bend” or “that which is straight,” which communicates the concept of stability or immutability.  (George H. Guthrie, The NIV Application Commentary: Hebrews, 344)
  • (v. 24) In Greek the verb “concerned,” (NIV – consider) means to fix one’s eye or mind on another. (C. S. Lovett, Lovett’s Lights on Hebrews, 229-30)
  • (v. 24) Let us remember that we are Christians not only for our own sake but also for the sake of others. No man ever saved his soul who devoted his whole time and energy to saving it; but many a man has saved it by being so concerned for others that he forgot that he himself had a soul to save.  It is easy to drift into a kind of selfish Christianity; but a selfish Christianity is a contradiction in terms.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series, Hebrews, 121)
  • (v. 24) Let us beware of the self-deception that thinks it possible to enter the Holiest, into the nearest intercourse with God, in the spirit of selfishness. It cannot be.  The new and living way Jesus opened up is the way of self-sacrificing love.  The entrance into the Holiest is given to us as priests, there to be filled with the Spirit and the love of Christ, and to go out and bring God’s blessing to others.  (Andrew Murray, The Holiest of All, 394)
  • (v. 25) Each one who begins to see what the blessedness is of a life in the full surrender to Christ should offer himself to Christ, to be made His messenger to the feeble and the weary. (Andrew Murray, The Holiest of All, 394)
  • (v. 25) When spoken of in this absolute manner, “the Day” can mean only the last day, that ultimate eschatological day, which is the day of reckoning and judgment, known as the Day of the Lord (cf. 1 Cor 3:13; Acts 2:20; 1 Thess 5:2; 2 Thess 2:2; 2 Pt 3:10, 12; Mt 7:22; 10:15; 11:22, 24; 24:36; Mk 13:32; Lk 10:12; 17:26, 30, 31; 21:34; Jn 6:39; Phil 1:7, 10; 2:16; 1 Cor 1:8; 5:5; 2 Cor 1:14; Jude 6; Rv 6:17). (Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, 416)
  • The triad faith, hope and love, stands out clearly in verses 22, 23, and 24. The author discusses the meaning of faith in chapter 11.  With numerous admonitions he counsels his readers to hope–that is, to persevere and endure (chap. 12).  Love is expressed in helping one another; chapter 13 features many instructions about putting love to work.  In a sense, the three verses that include the triad present a brief summary of the next three chapters.  (William Hendriksen & Simon J. Kistemaker, NT Commentary: Hebrews, 286)
  • These three thoughts form the sub-division of the practical part of the Epistle. Chap. 11 may well be headed, The fulness of faith; chap. 12:1-14, The patience of hope; and chap. 13, Love and good works.  (Andrew Murray, The Holiest of All, 393)

 

The question to be answered is . . . With all the Older Testament’s warnings, examples and teaching that we need to keep our distance from God, why does God now say we can boldly come into His presence with confident assurance?

 

Answer: Because Jesus has made coming into God’s presence safe.  Even more than that, we are encouraged and motivated to come into God’s presence.

 

The Word for the Day is . . . Bold

 

It may be that some, as in the study of the Epistle the wondrous mystery of the way into the Holiest now opened was revealed to them, have entered in; they have said, in faith:  Lord, my God; I come.  Henceforth I would live in Thy secret place, in the Holiest of All.  And yet they fear.  They are not sure whether the great High Priest has indeed taken them in.  They know not for certain whether they will be faithful, always abiding within the veil.  They have not yet grasped what it means–having boldness to enter in.  (Andrew Murray, The Holiest of All, 357)

 

What do we need to know about coming boldly into God’s presence?:

I-  It has not always been this way. (Heb 12:18-21; see also: Ex 3:5; 19:12; 24:1-9; 33:20; 34:1-3; Lv 16:1-2; 10:1-4; Jud 13:21-23; Josh 5:15; Ps 24:3-4; Mt 7:21-23; Jn 14:6)

 

Our approach to God is confident and joyous; theirs was tentative and fearful.  We are urged always to “draw near;” they were frequently exhorted to keep their distance (12:20).  Only the appointed high priest could enter “the holiest of all” and even then only on one day a year; here all Christians (brethren) are urged to come in any moment of trial (4:16).  (Raymond Brown, The Bible Speaks Today:  Hebrews, 184)

 

If a person tries to go into God’s presence based on his own character, his own works, or his own religious affiliation, he will find no access.  He will certainly not have access on the basis of a mere verbal profession of Christ.  “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.  Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness’” (Mt 7:21-23).  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 260)

 

Raised in the tradition of the temple where they were taught that they were barred from God’s presence because of their sins, it is hard for them to think they can now approach Him with boldness.  It was ground into them that they had no business in God’s presence, no right to be there.  Even though the writer tells them that Jesus’ blood has taken away every bit of their guilt, it is difficult for them to accept that fact with complete confidence.  They know they are still sinners.  This makes them shy away from a bold entrance into the most holy place.  Refusing to come this way, however, is an act of unbelief.  (C. S. Lovett, Lovett’s Lights on Hebrews, 226)

 

II-  FAITH:  Jesus’ life and death in the New Covenant paved the way for those who are “In Christ” with a sincere heart to boldly come into God’s presence with confident assurance.  (Heb 10:16-22, 25b; see also: Mt 27:51Eph 2:13-18; 3:12Heb 4:14-16; 7:19; 1 Pt 3:18; 1 Jn 2:28; 3:21; 5:14)

 

The blood of the Lamb!  Oh think what it mean.  God gave it for your redemption.  God accepted it when His Son entered heaven and presented it on your behalf.  God has it for ever in His sight as the fruit, the infinitely well-pleasing proof, of His Son’s obedience unto death.  God points you to it and asks you to believe in the divine satisfaction it gives to Him, in its omnipotent energy, in its everlasting sufficiency.  Oh, will you not this day believe that that blood gives you, sinful and feeble as you are, liberty, confidence, boldness to draw nigh, to enter the very Holiest?  (Andrew Murray, The Holiest of All, 359)

 

The writer calls Christians the house of God.  In the OT, God’s “house” referred exclusively to his people, the Jews.  But under the new covenant, God’s “house” refers to all who believe in Jesus Christ as Savior, accepting his sacrifice for their sins–whether they are Jews or Gentiles.  Over this house rules “a great priest” (Jesus Christ) who opened the way into God’s presence.  As the perfect Mediator, Christ accompanies Christians into the very throne room of God.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Hebrews, 159)

 

The author stresses that the heart must be sincere if faith is to be genuine.  The word sincere describes the heart of a person who is honest, genuine, committed, dependable, and without deceit.  When the believer’s heart is sincere, faith is evident in full assurance.  The believer has complete confidence in God, because he fully accepts the truth of the gospel.  By contrast, doubt keeps the believer from approaching God.  Doubt insults whereas faith exalts.  (William Hendriksen & Simon J. Kistemaker, NT Commentary: Hebrews, 288)

 

True religion is a thing of the heart, an inward life.  It is only as the desire of the heart is fixed upon God, the whole heart seeking for God, giving its love and finding its joy in God, that a man can draw near to God.  The heart of man was expressly planned and created and endowed with all its powers, that it might be capable of receiving and enjoying God and His love.  God’s great quarrel with His people is that their heart is turned from Him.  (Andrew Murray, The Holiest of All, 369-70)

 

In NT times we have access to God because Jesus shed his blood for our sins and because at his death “the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom” (Mt 27:51).  We are even encouraged to come into God’s presence with confidence.  (William Hendriksen & Simon J. Kistemaker, NT Commentary: Hebrews, 286)

 

The old way could not even bring man into God’s symbolic, ceremonial presence, much less into His real presence.  But the new way can bring us there, through the veil, that is, His flesh.  When Jesus’ flesh was torn, so was the veil that kept men from God.  The blood of animals allowed only the high priest to enter the veil briefly.  Jesus’ blood allows everyone who believes in Him to enter the veil permanently.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 261)

 

The Holy Spirit asks us first for a true heart, and then at once, as its first exercise, for fullness of faith.  There is a faith of insight, a faith of desire, a faith of trust in the truth of the word, and a faith of personal acceptance.  There is a faith of love that embraces, a faith of will that holds fast, and a faith of sacrifice that gives up everything, and a faith of despair that abandons all hope in self, and a faith of rest that waits on God alone.  This is all included in the faith of the true heart, the fullness of faith, in which the whole being surrenders and lets go all, and yields itself to God to do His work.  In fullness of faith let us draw nigh.  (Andrew Murray, The Holiest of All, 375)

 

When the writer says a NEW way has been opened into God’s presence he does NOT mean to imply that there was an OLD way.  There never was ANY way to God until Jesus came and opened it for man.  Jesus is HIMSELF the way to God.  He said so.  “I am the WAY…the LIFE; no man comes to the Father but by Me” (Jn 14:6).  To us, the word “way,” generally means a road or a path.  We shuttle about this world over roadways or airways.  But in God’s world, the way is a Person.  (C. S. Lovett, Lovett’s Lights on Hebrews, 223)

 

This “day” (Christ’s return) is guaranteed:  Christ will return.  Through the centuries, many Christians have been discouraged because they believed that Christ should have already returned.  But Christ has not forgotten, and he has not changed his plans.  Christians must live as if the Lord will come back at any moment.  Christ must not find us lax in our devotion and preparation.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Hebrews, 163)

 

The boldness with which we are to enter is not, first of all, a conscious feeling of confidence; it is the objective God-given right and liberty of entrance of which the blood assures us.  The measure of our boldness is the worth God attaches to the blood of Jesus.  As our heart reposes its confidence on that in simple faith, the feeling of confidence and joy on our part will come too, and our entrance will be amid songs of praise and gladness.  (Andrew Murray, The Holiest of All, 358)

 

Commentators have noted that although the language is different, the sixth Beatitude carries the same idea, where we are called to be “pure in heart” (Mt 5:8).  There are to be no mixed motives or divided loyalties.  There must be pure and unmixed devotion, “sincere” love for God.  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: Hebrews, vol. 2, 32)

 

It is ever the Holy Spirit’s work to turn our eyes away from self:  to Jesus:  but Satan’s work is just the opposite of this, for he is constantly trying to make us regard ourselves instead of Christ.  He insinuates, “Your sins are too great for pardon; you have no faith; you do not repent enough; you will never be able to continue to the end; you have not the joy of his children; you have such a wavering hold of Jesus.”  All these are thoughts about self, and we shall never find comfort or assurance by looking within.  But, the Holy Spirit turns our eyes entirely away from self:  he tells us that we are nothing, but that “Christ is all in all.”  Remember, therefore, it is not your hold of Christ that saves you—it is Christ; it is not your joy in Christ that saves you—it is Christ; it is not even faith in Christ, though that be the instrument—it is Christ’s blood and merits; therefore, look not so much to your hand with which you art grasping Christ, as to Christ; look not to your hope, but to Jesus, the source of your hope; look not to your faith, but to Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith.  We shall never find happiness by looking at our prayers, our doings, or our feelings; it is what Jesus is, not what we are, that gives rest to the soul.  If we would at once overcome Satan and have peace with God, it must be by “Looking unto Jesus.”  Keep your eye simply on him; let his death, his sufferings, his merits, his glories, his intercession, be fresh upon your mind; when you wake in the morning look to him; when you lie down at night look to him.  Do not let your hopes or fears come between you and Jesus; follow hard after him, and he will never fail you.  (Alistair Begg quoting Charles. H. Spurgeon in Pathway to Freedom, 228-9)

 

The work of sacrifice is done.  There will be no more.  Forgiveness is already provided for those who trust in this one perfect sacrifice.  Why would anyone want to go back to the old sacrifices, which were never finished and never effective?  To reject is to have no other hope of forgiveness–ever.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 257)

 

God asks for the heart.  Alas, how many Christians serve Him still with the service of the old covenant.  Religion is a thing of time and duties.  There are seasons for Bible-reading and praying and church-going.  But when one notices how speedily and naturally and happily, as soon as it is freed from restraint, the heart turns to worldly things, one feels how little there is of the heart in it:  it is not the worship of a true heart, of the whole heart.  The heart, with its life and love and joy, has not yet found in God its highest good.  Religion is much more a thing of the head and its activities, than of the heart and its life, of the human will and its power, than of that Spirit which God gives within us.  (Andrew Murray, The Holiest of All, 370-1)

 

The invitation comes:  Let us draw near with a true heart.  Let no one hold back for fear, my heart is not true.  There is no way for obtaining the true heart, but by acting it.  God has given you, as his child, a new heart–a wonderful gift, if you but knew it.  Through ignorance or unbelief or disobedience it has grown feeble and withered; its beating can, nevertheless, still be felt.  The Epistle, with its solemn warnings and its blessed teaching, has come to bring arousing and healing.  Even as Christ said to the man with the withered hand, Stand forth, He calls to you from His throne in heaven, Rise, and come and enter in with a true heart.  As you hesitate, and look within to feel and to find out if the heart is true, and in vain to do what is needed to make it true, He calls again, Stretch forth thy hand.  (Andrew Murray, The Holiest of All, 371)

 

Yes, in the very act of obeying the call to enter in, it will prove itself a true heart–a heart ready to obey and to trust its blessed Lord, a heart ready to give up all and find its life in the secret of His presence.  (Andrew Murray, The Holiest of All, 371)

 

The true heart is nothing but true consecration, the spirit that longs to live wholly for God, that gladly gives up everything that it may live wholly for Him, and that above all yields up the heart, as the key of the life, into His keeping and rule.  True religion is an inward life, in the power of the Holy Spirit.  Let us enter in into the inner sanctuary of God’s love, and the Spirit will enter into the inner sanctuary of our love, into our heart.  Let us draw nigh with a true heart–longing, ready, utterly given up to desire and receive the blessing.  (Andrew Murray, The Holiest of All, 372)

 

To draw near our holy God is the believer’s blood-bought privilege.  How he uses this privilege shows what value he places on it.  When men do approach God, only one thing counts, “a sincere heart.”  God looks beyond persons and positions to the heart.  (Richard E. Lauersdorf, The People’s Bible: Hebrews, 117)

 

Again and again the High Priest bathes himself in the laver of clear water.  But these things were ineffective to remove the real pollution of sin.  Only Jesus can really cleanse a man.  His is no external purification; by his presence and his Spirit he cleanses the inmost thoughts and desires of a man until he is really clean.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series, Hebrews, 120)

 

Here is something far beyond what was an annual “reminder of sins” (cf. v. 3), whereas in the new covenant there is not more remembrance of them.  Repeated remembrance of sins and repeated sin offerings went inevitably together; therefore, the irrevocable erasing of sins from the divine record implies that no further sin offering is called for.  The finality of the sacrifice of Christ is thus confirmed.  (F. F. Bruce, The New International Commentary on the NT: Hebrews, 248)

 

The priests were continually washing themselves and the sacred vessels in the basins of clear water, and blood was continually being sprinkled as a sign of cleansing.  But all the cleansing, whether with water or blood, was external.  Only Jesus can cleanse a man’s heart.  By His Spirit He cleanses the innermost thoughts and desires.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 263)

 

III-  HOPE:  God has promised that those who are “In Christ” can boldly enter His presence.  God is incapable of breaking His promise.  (Heb 10:23; see also: Nm 23:19; Jer 31:31-34; Ezek 11:19-21; 36:25-27; 2 Cor 3:4-18; Heb 6:16-20)

 

Christians can hold fast to their hope in this way because behind it is a God in whom they can have full confidence.  God is thoroughly to be relied on.  When he makes a promise, that promise will infallibly be kept.  He has taken the initiative in making the promise, and he will fulfill his purposes in making it.  (Frank E. Gæbelein, Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 12, 104)

 

Hope relies on faith and looks to the future.

Faith is therefore placed in God alone who is able to fulfill the promises he has made, for God is faithful.  We are told to keep on voicing our hope and to do so unfalteringly.  God himself unfailingly has honored his promises.  In fact, to make his promises unbreakable, God added an oath (Heb 6:17).  “He can as soon cease to exist as cease to be faithful to His promise.”  (William Hendriksen & Simon J. Kistemaker, NT Commentary: Hebrews, 289)

 

Christ’s death has established a covenant of grace in which there is no flaw, and no possibility of failure, for the one condition of the covenant has been fulfilled by Christ and now it stands as a covenant of “shalls” and “wills” on God’s part from which He will never run back.  It is not, “If they do this, and if they do that, I will do the other,” but is all “I will.”  (Charles Spurgeon, Spurgeon Commentary: Hebrews, 283)

 

Study the references on the word “promise” in this Epistle, and see what a large place they take in God’s dealings with His people, and learn how much your life depends on your relation to the promises.  Connect the promises, as is here done, with the promiser; connect the promiser with His unchanging faithfulness as God, and your hope will become a glorying in God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  (Andrew Murray, The Holiest of All, 391)

 

It is, or course, a vitally important consideration that the promises in which we have faith and which are the foundation of our hope are the promises of God, which as such demand the response of faith that is fully assured (v. 22) and a confession of hope that is without wavering, unswerving (NEB).  If the promises were to any degree the promises of man, to that degree they would be fallible and uncertain, a question mark would be placed against their fulfillment, and faith and hope would falter.  But of God, and only of God, it can be affirmed as absolutely and everlastingly true that he who promised is faithful.  (Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, 414)

 

Faith and hope ever go together.  “Faith is the substance of things hoped for.”  Faith accepts the promise in its divine reality, hope goes forward to examine and picture and rejoice in the treasures which faith has accepted.  And so here, on the words Let us draw near in fullness of faith, there follows immediately, Let us hold fast the confession of our hope.  Life in the Holiest, in the nearness of God, must be characterized by an infinite hopefulness.  (Andrew Murray, The Holiest of All, 389)

 

The entrance into the Holiest is only a beginning.  It is to be a life in which we every hour receive everything from God, in which God’s working is to be all in all.  Here, if anywhere, we have need of an infinite hopefulness.  After we have entered in, we shall very probably not find what we expected.  The light and the joy and the power may not come at once.  Within the veil it is still, nay rather it is eminently, a life of faith, not looking to ourselves, but to God, and hoping in Him.  Faith will still be tried, will perhaps most be tried when God wants most to bless.  Hope is the daughter of faith, the messenger it sends out to see what is to come:  it is hope that becomes the strength and support of faith.  (Andrew Murray, The Holiest of All, 390)

 

IV-  LOVE:  Accountability with the greater Body of Christ provides even more confident assurance to boldly enter God’s presence.  (Hebrews 10:24-25; see also: Psa 55:14; Jn 17: 21-23; Acts 1:14; 2:42-47; Rom 1:12; 1 Cor 10:16-17; Gal 6:2, 10; Eph 2:14-22; 3:18; Phil 1:27; 2:1-2; Col 2:2; 1 Thess 5:11-14; 1 Tim 3:13; Heb 3:13; 1 Pt 3:8-9; 1 Jn 1:3, 7; 4:17)

 

There is nothing more unchristian than a solitary Christian.  –John Wesley

 

God did not design Christians to be completely independent of each other, however; he designed believers to need and encourage each other.  To withdraw from corporate strength is to invite disaster, like a soldier in battle who lags behind the rest of his platoon and becomes an easy target.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Hebrews, 163)

 

To neglect Christian meetings is to give up the encouragement and help of other Christians.  We gather together to share our faith and to strengthen one another in the Lord.  As we get closer to the day when Christ will return, we will face many spiritual struggles, and even times of persecution.  Anti-Christian forces will grow in strength.  Difficulties should never be excuses for missing church services.  Rather, as difficulties arise, we should make an even greater effort to be faithful in attendance.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Hebrews, 163)

 

The failure of love shows itself, then, in selfish individualism, and specifically here in the habit of some of neglecting to meet together.  Such unconcern for one’s fellow believers argues unconcern for Christ himself and portends the danger of apostasy, concerning which our author is about to issue another earnest warning (vv. 26ff.).  It is important, therefore, that the reality of Christian love should be demonstrated in the personal relationships and mutual concerns of the Christian community.  (Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, 415)

 

There is no doubt that immeasurable influence for good can come from the powerful example of right-minded people in association with others.  The NT lends no support to the idea of lone Christians.  Close and regular fellowship with other believers is not just a nice idea, but an absolute necessity for the encouragement of Christian values.  (Donald Guthrie, Tyndale NT Commentaries: Hebrews, 216)  

 

Congregational worship makes possible an intensity of adoration that does not as readily occur in solitude.  On the tragic level, a mob tends to descend to a much deeper level of cruelty than individuals.  It is also understood that the appreciation and enjoyment of an informed group of music lovers at a symphony is more intense than that of a single listener at home.  This holds true for worship as well.  Corporate worship provides a context where passion is joyously elevated and God’s Word ministers with unique power.  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: Hebrews, vol. 2, 34-5)

 

Martin Luther spoke of this when he confided, “At home in my own house there is no warmth or vigor in me, but in the church when the multitude is gathered together, a fire is kindled in my heart and it breaks its way through (Robert G. Rayburn, O Come, Let Us Worship, 29).  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: Hebrews, vol. 2, 35)

 

Believers ought to consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.  This word “spur” (paroxysm) means to “stimulate strongly,” “arouse,” or “incite to riot.”  Christians need to spur or stimulate each other in two areas:  (1) Love: not an emotion but a choice to act regardless of our feelings.  We are to act lovingly toward other believers.  (2) Good deeds:  works done for the good of others, and which attract others to Christ.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Hebrews, 163)

 

Believers need to gather together to be strengthened and to give strength.  Believers go to the gatherings for worship and fellowship not just to gain for themselves, but to give to others.  Let the subtle error that believers don’t need the church, that they can sit alone at home with their radio or television set on Sunday mornings, be laid to rest by that strong urging.  Like blades of grass growing together or charcoal briquettes glowing together, we need each other.  (Richard E. Lauersdorf, The People’s Bible: Hebrews, 120)

 

Outside the fellowship was a rough world.  They needed each other.  But some didn’t seem to understand this.  They were beginning to get discouraged over the Lord’s delay in returning.  So they began to forsake the Christian gatherings. Of course, they were forfeiting the very thing that would help them most, for the most powerful force that can act on a person is the influence of another.  Take that out of Christianity and it goes limp.  Christianity is essentially a fellowship.  (C. S. Lovett, Lovett’s Lights on Hebrews, 230-1)

 

Our entering into the Holiest is mere imagination, if we do not yield ourselves to the love of God in Christ, to be filled and used for the welfare and joy of our fellow-men.  (Andrew Murray, The Holiest of All, 395)

 

The Holiest of All is the home of eternal love.  It is love dwells there.  It is love that came forth from there to seek me and bring me in.  It is into the everlasting love I have been welcomed and taken in.  It is love that has been shed abroad in my heart.  My entrance in was only in the path of self-sacrifice; my abiding there can only be as one dead to self and filled with love.  And love seeketh not its own; it gives itself away, and only lives to make others partakers of its happiness.  And it loves the assembly of God’s people, not only for what it needs and hopes to receive, but for the communion of saints, and the help it can give in helping and encouraging others.  (Andrew Murray, The Holiest of All, 398)

 

It is also true that giving up meeting with other believers hampers one’s theology and doctrinal understanding.  Paul, in Eph 3:18, prays that the church in Ephesus “may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp…and to know this love that surpasses knowledge.”  Great theological truths are best learned corporately–“with all the saints.”  Theology is to be done by the assembled church.  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: Hebrews, vol. 2, 35)

 

One of the first indications of a lack of love toward God and the neighbor is for a Christian to stay away from the worship services.  He forsakes the communal obligations of attending these meetings and displays the symptoms of selfishness and self-centeredness.  (William Hendriksen & Simon J. Kistemaker, NT Commentary: Hebrews, 290)

 

The author exhorts the readers to “encourage one another daily…so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness” (3:13).  He realizes that among some of the members spiritual zeal has declined.  Therefore once more he says, “But let us encourage one another” (10:25).  Not only the writer of this epistle but also all the members of the church have the communal task of encouraging one another daily.  Together we bear the responsibility, for we are the body of Christ.  (William Hendriksen & Simon J. Kistemaker, NT Commentary: Hebrews, 290)

 

Under the various pressures which were being brought to bear upon them, to withdraw from the society of their fellow-believers was to court spiritual defeat; only by remaining united could they preserve their faith and witness.  (F. F. Bruce, The New International Commentary on the NT: Hebrews, 258)

 

He may not go to church because of fear.  He may be ashamed to be seen going to church.  He may live or work among people who laugh at those who do so.  He may have friends who have no use for that kind of thing and may fear their criticism and contempt. . . . . He may not go because of fastidiousness.  He may shrink from contact with people who are “not like himself.”  There are congregations which are as much clubs as they are churches.  They may be in neighborhoods where the social status has come down; and the members who have remained faithful to them would be as much embarrassed as delighted if the poor people in the area came flooding in.  We must never forget that there is no such thing as a “common” man in the sight of God.  It was for all men, not only for the respectable classes, that Christ died. . . .  He may not go because of conceit.  He may believe that he does not need the Church or that he is intellectually beyond the standard of preaching there.  Social snobbery is bad but spiritual and intellectual snobbery is worse.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series, Hebrews, 121-122)

 

The only place where we can remain steadfast until He returns is with His people.  We need each other.  We need to be in fellowship with each other, as we mutually strengthen each other and encourage each other.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 268)

 

The need to be challenged to a love actively expressed is ever present in a Christian ethic (e.g., Gal 5:13; 1 Thess 1:3; Rv 2:19) and a cornerstone of authentic Christian community.  (George H. Guthrie, The NIV Application Commentary: Hebrews, 345)

 

We as Christian leaders must not burden people with a guilt trip if they are not at the church five nights a week.  The question is whether they are meaningfully engaged in the life of the body on a weekly basis.  Are they involved in worship?  Are they being educated through preaching and teaching of God’s Word?  Are they ministering, exercising their spiritual gifts?  Are they experiencing Christian fellowship?  We should teach these aspects of healthy Christian living and allow the Holy Spirit to show them how these are to be lived out consistently.  (George H. Guthrie, The NIV Application Commentary: Hebrews, 348)

 

We meet Christ in a special way in corporate worship.  It is true that a person does not have to go to church to be a Christian.  He does not have to go home to be married either.  But in both cases if he does not, he will have a very poor relationship.  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: Hebrews, vol. 2, 34)

 

Worship Point:  The holy, righteous, perfect, Almighty God who spoke the Universe into existence has now made it possible for us to enter into His presence because of the work of Jesus.  Why would we ever have a problem with worship?

 

If you don’t see the absolute holiness of God, the magnitude of your debt, the categorical necessity of God’s just punishment of your sin, and therefore the utter hopelessness of your condition, then the knowledge of your pardon and deliverance will not be amazing and electrifying! — Tim Keller

 

Gospel Application:  The bad news is our sinfulness, rebellion and pride has alienated us from the holy, righteous, perfect, Almighty God who spoke the Universe into existence.  The Good News is that the work of Jesus has made it possible for us to come into God’s presence boldly with confident assurance that we will be lovingly accepted rather than judiciously destroyed.

 

For fifteen centuries Israel had a sanctuary with a Holiest of All into which, under pain of death, no one might enter.  Its one witness was:  man cannot dwell in God’s presence, cannot abide in His fellowship.  And now, how changed is all!  As then the warning sounded:  Enter not! so now the call goes forth:  Enter in! the veil is rent; the Holiest is open; God waits to welcome you to His bosom.  Henceforth you are to live with Him.  This is the message of the Epistle:  Child! thy Father longs for thee to enter, to dwell, and to go out no more for ever.  (Andrew Murray, The Holiest of All, 355)

 

You may be saying to yourself, “I don’t think I can ever live the Christian life”–and you are right!  But a new heart, the expulsive inner power of new affection, will make it possible.  The sense that you cannot do it is precisely why you should come to Christ.  In fact, it is the qualification!  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: Hebrews, vol. 2, 25)

 

Spiritual Challenge:  Seek Jesus.  Never forget that God Almighty is holy, righteous, perfect and just.  And that our sinful, just, desert is the curse of death.  But always remember that God sent His own Son to remove the curse from us so we could once again enter into an intimate relationship with the God of the Universe.  He has provided the means to “get back to the garden.”  But only if we seek Jesus. 

 

“Day and night, in season and out.”  We may ask, “Who has time for that any more?”  Such seeking, such drawing near to God may seem archaic, conjuring pictures of medieval monks.  How does one fit God into a day planner?  How does one seek God in the rush and crush of corporate (or even small-town) America?  If we are to draw near to God, our yearnings must be cultivated in the right direction because, if they are not, our culture will consume us, siphoning off our energies, our desires.  (George H. Guthrie, The NIV Application Commentary: Hebrews, 350)

 

You believe that the great Priest over the house takes possession of your inner life, and brings you before God.  And yet you wonder you feel so little changed.  You feel just like the old self you were.  Now is the time to listen to the voice–In fullness of faith, not of feeling!  Look to God, who is able to do above what we ask or think.  Trust His power.  Look to Jesus on the throne, living there to bring you in.  Claim the Spirit of the exalted One as His Pentecostal gift.  Remember these are all divine, spiritual mysteries of grace, to be revealed in you.  Apart from feeling, without feeling, in fullness of faith, in bare, naked faith that honors God, enter in.  Reckon yourself to be indeed alive to God in Christ Jesus, taken in into His presence, His love, His very heart.  (Andrew Murray, The Holiest of All, 376)

 

What is the meaning of this summing up of all, wherefore brethren, having boldness to enter–let us draw nigh, if a real entrance into and abode in the Holiest is not for us?  No, beloved Christian, do believe, it can be.  Let no thought of thy weakness and unfaithfulness hold thee back.  Begin to look at God, who has set the door open and calls thee in; at the blood that has prevailed over sin and death, and given thee a boldness that nothing can hinder; at Christ the almighty and most loving High Priest, who is to bring thee in and keep thee in; and believe:  yes, such a life is meant for me; it is possible; it is my duty; God calls me to it; and say, then, whether thy heart would not desire and long to enter this blessed rest, the home of God’s love.  (Andrew Murray, The Holiest of All, 386)

 

Of the well-known triad faith, hope, and love, hope seems to be neglected.  Writers of the NT, however, do not neglect it, for they mention it as many times as faith and love.  The Christian in his spiritual life appears to stress the virtues of faith and love, but he says little about hope.

Yet hope guides the believer, for it provides him freedom from the fear of death.  He keeps his eyes on Jesus, who has conquered the power of death.  He knows that in Jesus he has salvation, righteousness, eternal life, and the assurance of resurrection from the dead.  That hope will be realized when Jesus returns.  (William Hendriksen & Simon J. Kistemaker, NT Commentary: Hebrews, 291)

 

To have found God and still to pursue Him is the soul’s paradox of love, scorned indeed by the too-easily-satisfied religionist, but justified in happy experience by the children of the burning heart.  St. Bernard states this holy paradox in a musical quatrain that will be instantly understood by every worshiping soul:  “We taste Thee, O Thou Living Bread, and long to feast upon Thee still:  we drink of Thee, the Fountainhead and thirst our souls from Thee to fill.”

Come near to the holy men and women of the past and you will soon feel the heat of their desire after God.  They mourned for Him, they prayed and wrestled and sought for Him day and night, in season and out, and when they had found Him the finding was all the sweeter for the long seeking.  (A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God)

 

So What?:  Knowing this message builds faith, hope and love as well as confirms Paul’s message:  “If God is for us it really doesn’t matter who is against us.” (Rom 8:31-32).  Imagine really living like we believed this.

 

If the blood be to us what it is to God, the boldness which God means it to give, will fill our hearts.  As we saw in chap. 9, what the blood has effected in rending the veil and cleansing the heavens, and giving Jesus the Son of Man, access to God, will be the measure of what it will effect within us, making our heart God’s sanctuary, and fitting us for perfect fellowship with the Holy One.  The more we honor the blood in its infinite worth, the more will it prove its mighty energy and efficacy, opening heaven to us and in us, giving us, in divine power, the real living experience of what the entrance into the Holiest is.  (Andrew Murray, The Holiest of All, 358)

 

None of us really has anything until we make USE of it.  For example, it is one thing to know all about God’s grace toward us, another to RELAX in it.  Spiritual wealth, like physical wealth, consists not in the possession, but the enjoyment of it.  (C. S. Lovett, Lovett’s Lights on Hebrews, 222)

 

When Chrysostom was brought before the Roman emperor, the emperor threatened him with banishment if he remained a Christian.  Chrysostom replied:  “You can not banish me for this world is my father’s house.”  “But I will slay you,” said the Emperor.  “No, you can not,” said the noble champion of the faith, “for my life is hid with Christ in God.”  “I will take away your treasures.”  “No, but you can not for my treasure is in heaven and my heart is there.”  “But I will drive you away from man and you shall have no friend left.”  “No, you can not, for I have a friend in heaven from whom you can not separate me.  I defy you, for there is nothing you can do to hurt me.”  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: Hebrews, vol. 2, 31)

 

We have boldness to enter, for we shall not perish.  We may have this boldness of entering in at all times, because the veil is always rent, and is never restored to its old place.  “And Yahweh said to Moses, ‘Tell your brother Aaron that he should not enter at any time into the sanctuary behind the curtain in front of the atonement cover that is on the ark, so that he might not die’” (Lv 16:2).  But the Lord does not say so to us.  Dear child of God, you may at all times have “boldness to enter in.”  The veil is torn both day and night.

Indeed, even when your eye of faith is dim, still enter in; when evidences are dark, still have “boldness to enter in”; and even if you have unhappily sinned, remember that access is open to your penitent prayer.  Come still through the torn veil, sinner as you are.  Although you have backslidden, though you are grieved with the sense of your wanderings, come even now!  “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts” (Heb 3:15), but enter at once; for the veil is not there to exclude you, though doubt and unbelief may make you think so.  The veil cannot be there, for it was torn in two from the top to the bottom.  (Charles Spurgeon, Spurgeon Commentary: Hebrews, 296)

 

Men always speak out of the abundance of the heart of that which they hope for.  We, too, must confess and give expression to our hope.  The confession strengthens the hope; what we utter becomes clearer and more real to us.  It glorifies God.  It helps and encourages those around us.  It makes God, and men, and ourselves, see that we are committed to it.  Let us hold fast the confession of our hope, that it waver not.  (Andrew Murray, The Holiest of All, 390)

 

JESUS:

MAKE US BOLD

 

 

 

Leave a Reply