- Sermon Notes
Living Closer to God
Hebrews is one of the most important books in the Bible because it shows us some of the richest, most beautiful insights into what God has done for
us through His Son Jesus Christ. We see Jesus like in no other book of the Bible. It strengthens our faith and draws us to appreciate this great
salvation that God has given us.
He’s writing to Hebrews, or Jews, who are believers in Jesus Christ as the long-awaited Messiah. But they are struggling in their faith because they
are being pressured by the other Jews in Jerusalem to go back to the ways of the Old Testament, back to the laws of Moses, back to the shadow of
the thing, of which Christ is the reality, the substance.
Line by line, he shows them that Jesus is superior in every way. Jesus is greater than Moses, He is greater than Solomon, greater than Jonah, greater
than even Abraham. He is greater than the angels, He is greater than all the priests of the Old Testament, He is greater than the Sabbath and he
is even greater than the temple itself.
Why go back to the old life when what you have in Christ is superior to anything else? There is nothing better than Christ. There is no greater truth,
there is no greater salvation.
When you recognize how great a salvation that you have received and when the eyes of your heart are opened to see what great love God has poured out
upon you through His Son, how should you respond? That’s the main point of chapter 10.
They were being pressured to go back to the old life and the old ways that were only a shadow of what they now have in Christ. Instead of falling backward,
he challenges them to press forward, to draw nearer to God with a sincere heart and in full assurance of faith.
This applies to many people today. Many are stuck in what I call the ‘miserable middle.’ They believe Jesus purchased salvation for them and they have
received the offer of life, but pressures of life, the worries and cares of the world and the desire for other things come in and choke out their
spiritual life and they find themselves in the miserable middle.
When you understand what a great salvation you have and what God has done for you through His Son, Jesus Christ, you should press forward, you should
draw nearer to God; with a sincere heart and with full assurance of faith.
- The writer spent the last several chapters writing that Jesus is far superior to the Old Testament priests and the law they served.
- The law was weak and useless and could make nothing perfect and has therefore been set aside.
- We have a better hope, through which we draw near to God, that hope is an anchor for our soul. Jesus is the mediator of a better covenant, which
has been enacted on better promises.
- Verse 19, however, opens the door to one of the deepest and greatest truths about how near we can come to God because of what Jesus has done for
us when he offered Himself as a sacrifice.
- We now have confidence to enter the holiest place, the place nearest to God, by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh.
- What does this mean? And how does it apply to us? He’s telling us that God is inviting us to have the closest possible relationship to Him; we can
enter the holiest place before the throne of God.
- Many are convinced that God is angry with them because of the mess they have made up their lives. What a tragedy for someone to believe that and miss
out on the life God is offering them.
- God doesn’t require you to be holy before you can approach Him and drawn near, He forgives your sin, removing it from you and placing it on His own
Son and then gives righteousness to you as a gift.
- All of this was in the Old Testament as a shadow…
Hebrews 10:1, For the Law, since it is only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never… make perfect those who draw near.
Hebrews 8:4-5, There are those who offer gifts according to the Law; who serve a copy and shadow of the things in heaven…
- When Moses was on Mount Sinai receiving the laws and commandments for Israel, he was given a pattern from which he was instructed to build the tabernacle.
- But the pattern Moses received was a copy of the throne room in heaven itself. In other words, the ark of the covenant, covered on all sides with gold,
and above it the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat, was a shadow of the very throne room in heaven where God sits in all His glory.
- And here’s where it gets very interesting. Each year, the Jews observe Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the holiest day
each year. It is considered the Sabbath of all Sabbaths.
- In the days when Israel had the temple, the high priest selected two goats. The blood of one would be brought by the high priest into the holiest of
holies who would sprinkle its blood on the mercy seat of the ark of the covenant.
- The high priest would then lay his hands on the head of the second goat, transferring the sins of the people on to it. That goat would be released
into the wilderness, never to be seen again, taking the sins of the people with it.
- The main point of all of this was that the only way man could come to God was through the blood of the sacrifice, the payment of death for the sins
of the people and then those sins would be removed from them and placed onto the scapegoat.
- But all of this was just a shadow. The blood of bulls and goats could never take away sin.
- Jesus offered Himself as the sacrifice once for all, and as our high priest, He did not offer His blood on the mercy seat of the temple, He offered
His blood on the mercy seat in heaven and became the scapegoat that removed our sins far from us, never to be seen again.
Hebrews 9:24, For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.
- Therefore… let us draw near to God, through a new and living way, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and let us draw near with confidence.
- You can have confidence because He has taken away your sin and He has taken away your shame.
Illus – When we were kids we picked strawberries every summer. Not every kid was required to pick berries, but it was easy to tell that I was; all you had to do was look my fingers. All my fingers were deeply stained and no amount of washing would remove it. I was ashamed of my poverty and I was ashamed of my stains.
Jeremiah 2:22, “Although you wash yourself with lye and use much soap, the stain of your iniquity is before Me,” declares the Lord God.
Psalm 103:10, 12, He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities… For as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.
Illus- You can meditate and empty your mind and repeat the sound of the universe and try to become one with it, or you can draw near to God through Christ.
You can climb mountains and shout holy phrases, you can memorize all the holy writings ever written, you can pray until your knees become hard and calloused, but without the precious blood of Christ applied to your life, you cannot draw near to God.
B. Draw near with a sincere heart
- Verse 19, 22 – Since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus… let us draw near with a sincere heart.
- What does it mean to have a sincere heart? It means to have a heart that is true.
Illus – Chuck Smith told about a guy in Texas that used to advertise on TV that he had genuine simulated diamonds. Many people sent in real money to buy a true, genuine, simulated diamond.
Illus – The English word sincere is rooted in the Latin words ‘sin cere,’ which mean, ‘no wax.’ In Greek and Roman cultures artisans would sell a sculpture with the certification that it was ‘sincere,’ it was made of pure marble, there was no wax.
- When it comes to our relationship to others, it’s common for us to want to hide our flaws, to conceal those flaws with wax, wanting to sell a better
version of ourselves than is real.
- Therefore, many people think they can do the same with God, wanting to sell a better version of themselves to God. But this is a great mistake because
it keeps us farther away from the very One who can help us in our brokenness.
- First of all, it’s ridiculous to deceive ourselves into thinking that He doesn’t know those flaws already.
Hebrews 4:12-13, For the word of God is living and active… able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.
- People hide their flaws because they are ashamed and embarrassed. They either want to hide it forever, like skeletons in the closet, or they
think they can fix it on their own.
Illus – If you were in deep trouble, wouldn’t you want a friend to come alongside to help, to be an advocate, someone who won’t cast you out, but will come to your aid? That’s what God will do.
- Come to God with a sincere heart, knowing that He is for you, that He is your advocate, and that in Him you will find help in time of need.
Hebrews 4:16, Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.
II. Have Full Assurance of Faith
- Verse 22 – let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, he wrote.
- This goes along with having a sincere heart. Come to God with a heart that’s true, in other words, your love is authentic and genuine. You truly are
thankful to God for what He has purchased for you through Jesus, His Son.
- You have a genuine, thankful heart that truly loves, because you are fully assured in your faith.
A. Have faith with full conviction
- They were wavering in their faith; they had become unsure because of the influence of people around them.
- He is writing to strengthen their faith; to open their eyes to see how great is the salvation God gave them, to show them Jesus, the Son of God in
all His glory.
- Truth resonates in the soul and strengthens the conviction of faith.
John 18:37, Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”
- To have faith with full conviction means that you are fully convinced, you have full assurance.
Hebrews 11:1, Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
B. Because He who promised is faithful
- Verse 23 – Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful, he wrote.
- He is faithful to His promises, and His promises are for you. This hope we have as an anchor for our soul.
Hebrews 6:19, This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast.
- You draw near to God with full assurance of faith because you believe that His promises are sure; even in the midst of the storm.
2 Timothy 1:12, I know whom I have believed and I am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed to Him until that day.
- This world is messed up. The world order is changing before our eyes and getting more dangerous by the day.
- It’s times like these we need an anchor for our soul. We need to draw nearer to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith that our God is
able, that He is faithful to His promises.
Hebrews 10:12-25 NASB
unaware, brethren, that often I have planned to come to you (and have been prevented so far) so that I may obtain some fruit among you also, even as
among the rest of the Gentiles. 14 I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. 15 So, for my part,
I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.
in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “But the righteous man shall live by faith.”
that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes,
His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21 For even
though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of
birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. 24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies
would be dishonored among them. 25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who
is blessed forever. Amen.