The “Let Us” Series From The Book Of Hebrews #5
TEXT: Heb. 10:22
INTRO: In the Old Testament it was very dramatic when God was approached. First, only the high priest could ever actually enter the Holy of Holies, and then only once a year. If he approached God’s presence in an impure state or not properly cleansed he would die immediately! It was almost scary to enter the Holy of Holies, inside was the Ark of the Covenant and the Mercy seat where the blood was to be sprinkled, the high priest would wear a bell around his ankle with a rope attached just in case he did die going into God’s presence they could pull his body back out – no one else could enter or they would die. That one day a year, when it was time for the high priest could go in and sprinkle blood for the remission of Israel’s sins as well as the sins of the high priest, must have been a very dramatic moment. Tension most likely filled the air and relief when the high priest returned alive!
How different under the New Covenant! Jesus served as both high priests and as the blood sacrifice – as well as the mercy seat and Ark of the Covenant. In doing so He forever changed the way we approach God! This is GOOD NEWS! – the very meaning of the word “Gospel.”
ILLUS: How it must have startled those early Jewish Christians to read in the letter to the Hebrews, “Let us draw near.” Their whole Jewish tradition said just the opposite: “Stand back!” The architecture of their temple said it with an outer court for the Gentiles, an inner court for the women, and an inmost court for the men. After that came the temple proper, which only the priests could enter. The whole message of that architecture was “Stand back!” There were ranks of people to match the temple’s architecture–a high priest, and then lesser priests, then the men, then the women, and finally the Gentiles. There were rituals to match the ranks. Burnt offerings were offered at an open-air altar insight of all. The altar of incense was inside the temple, seen only by the high priests and seen only dimly by them, in a shadowy room lit by seven candles. Shed blood was offered for the sins of the people in the inmost room, shrouded in complete and perpetual darkness. All was calculated to say, “Stand back!” Against this background, the letter to the Hebrews offers us a blessed assurance: “Let us draw near to God, with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith” (Hebrews 10:22). — Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1997).
PROP.SENT: The Scriptures teach us that we have complete access to God through Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on the cross. Because our lives are cleansed by Christ’s blood we can draw near to God with full assurance that He will receive us. This is so very different from the Old Testament era when approaching God was scary!
AUDIENCE! Heb. 10:22a
Access! Heb. 10:22a
- The lead-in statement here is amazing – “Let us draw near to God!” To a Jewish audience this was an amazing statement!
- It was amazing because the very that anyone could approach God was nearly impossible under the Old Covenant.
- The writer here however is stating unequivocally that access to God is not only possible; we are encouraged to do so!
- God has granted access – through His son Jesus!
- How many people are missing out on God’s presence because they simply do not know how available it is?
ILLUS: The Amazon River is the largest river in the world. The mouth is 90 miles across. There is enough water to exceed the combined flow of the Yangtze, Mississippi, and Nile Rivers. So much water comes from the Amazon that they can detect its currents 200 miles out in the Atlantic Ocean. One irony of ancient navigation is that sailors in ancient times died for lack of water–caught in windless waters of the South Atlantic. They were adrift, helpless, dying of thirst. Sometimes other ships from South America who knew the area would come alongside and call out, “What is your problem?” And they would exclaim, “Can you spare us some water? Our sailors are dying of thirst!” And from the other ship would come the cry, “just lower your buckets. You are in the mouth of the mighty Amazon River.” The irony of ancient Israel and the tragedy around us today is that God, the fountain of living water, is right here and people don’t recognize Him! — Earl Palmer — James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 242.
Sadly, so many people are not aware in their spiritual thirst that He who is “living water” is readily available and can quench their thirsty soul and grant access to the very presence of God Himself.
Attitude! Heb. 10:22a
- Sincerity is more than just a light emotion, it means to come to God with a genuine desire to be truthful with Him as well as truthful with ourselves.
- God does not do well with hypocrites!
- Jesus had some of the strongest words with hypocrites in His own day, sincerity is more than just attempting to be honest, it is being honest!
- It is possible to be sincere and sincerely wrong too! It is thus more than a surface understanding of “sincerity” that is being spoken of here.
- The literal idea is “with a truthful heart.” It is the idea of what Jesus meant when He said that those who wanted to worship God must worship Him in “Spirit and in truth.”
- To be pure means to come sincerely.
ILLUS: A girl in Sunday school had read the Beatitudes in Matthew. She was asked which of the things mentioned she would most like to have. She said, “A pure heart.” When asked why she preferred that, she said, “If my heart were pure, I believe I would have all the other virtues mentioned in this chapter.” – Unknown
The Lord never turned away from a sincere heart reaching out to him, whether it was a fallen woman of low regard, or people with addiction problems like drunkards, or those who were known sinners in his culture like tax collectors, etc.
- Whenever Jesus met someone who was truthful He reached out to them.
- He would go out of his way to spend time with a truthful sinner – like Zacchaeus.
- The woman at the well was another truthful person – although Jesus had to kind of pull it out of her, her sincere heart brought her into the light of God’s saving grace.
- When we come with a sincere heart God grants full and quick access – always! It is a door opener.
ASSURANCE Heb. 10b
Assurance! Heb. 10:22b
- It is important to note that assurance comes only with faith!
- This of course means that one cannot be assured of their place before God without faith, and indeed the writer of Hebrews said this in the next chapter, “Without faith, it is impossible to please God…” Heb. 11:6
- Our assurance is the result of Christ’s sacrifice, and our faith in Him and that work He has done. Only when that faith is properly placed do we experience this absolute assurance.
- Sometimes it is hard to have faith because things don’t always work out the way we want them to or expect them to.
- But when that happens that is exactly when our faith works best!
- And it is then when our faith gives us the greatest assurance!
- If we belong to Christ we need not fear anything that might come down the pike!
ILLUS: An engagement ring that fell into the sea off the west coast of Sweden almost two years ago found its way back to its owner. The ring was consumed by a mussel that was caught by fisherman Peder Carlsson. Carlsson was able to return the ring to its owner because its owner, Agneta Wingstedt, had her name engraved on the inside. If we belong to Christ and bear his name, we will be reunited with him one day. — Parade (12/26/96). Leadership, Vol. 17, no. 4.
Faith brings this important assurance to our hearts and minds! We are His, and because of this we have full access to Him now as well as in the future.
Acquitted! Heb. 10:22b
- Our hearts are clean when we come to Christ, He has acquitted us of all our sins by the work on Calvary through His death and resurrection.
- Guilty we could not come before His presence. Like the high priest in the Old Testament, entrance into the Holy of Holies with sin in their heart meant immediate death – but Christ’s sacrifice was perfect, and His shed blood made possible our cleansing from all sins, and thus freedom to stand in His presence.
- It is important to realize that this cleansing is true whether we always feel it or not, faith works in good times and bad times.
ILLUS: Faith on a full stomach may be simply contentment–but if you have it when you’re hungry, it’s genuine. — Frank A. Clark, Christian Reader, Vol. 35, no. 2.
No matter what we face in life, good things or bad things – we can face God at all times because we belong to Him, and He has cleansed us and acquitted us of all guilt and sin.
- We must never fear to come into His presence!
- We must always come with a cleansed heart, He will never push us aside.
III. ACCEPTED! Heb. 10:22c
Accredited! Heb. 10:22c
- No more guilty conscience when we have come to Christ.
- So many people hold on to their past sins, and by doing so they are robbing themselves of the joy of being saved!
- They also make it harder to come into the presence of God with a clear conscience when they don’t allow their own forgiveness for past sins.
- Jesus made it pretty clear, when we come to Him and receive Him, ALL our sins are forgiven and we are “new” creatures – “born again.”
- Old things pass away, all things become new!
- Approaching our Lord is supposed to be a thing of joy, not of fear! This is why the Bible states, “perfect love casts out all fear.” 1 John 4:18
- The bottom line in an imperfect world is that we are the winners! This is true whether current realities seem to show that – we are tuned into another kingdom which will never lose or pass away.
ILLUS: On a balmy October afternoon in 1982, Badger Stadium in Madison, Wisconsin, was packed. More than 60,000 die-hard University of Wisconsin supporters were watching their football team take on the Michigan State Spartans. It soon became obvious that MSU had the better team.
What seemed odd, however, as the score became more lopsided, were the bursts of applause and shouts of joy from the Wisconsin fans. How could they cheer when their team was losing? It turns out that seventy miles away the Milwaukee Brewers were beating the St. Louis Cardinals in game three of the 1982 World Series.
Many of the fans in the stands were listening to portable radios–and responding to something other than their immediate circumstances. Paul encourages us to fix our eyes not on what is seen but what is unseen (2 Cor. 4:18). When we do, we can rejoice even in hardships because we see Christ’s larger victory. — Greg Asimakoupoulos, Naperville, Illinois. Leadership, Vol. 15, no. 4
We need to act and live like winners no matter what we are facing in life. God has already determined the outcome of our faith and that is eternity with Him!
- We can live in a fallen world like victors with a clean conscience – our sins have been taken away.
- This was symbolized even in the Old Covenant by the “scapegoat” that had the sins of Israel pronounced on its head, and then was led out into the desert to disappear. Once the high priest had confessed the sins of the people and made a blood sacrifice for them they were reminded that such sins disappeared forever.
- Why do so many Christians allow themselves to be trapped by their past? It is unnecessary and unproductive and can spoil the joy of coming into God’s presence.
- Like the hit song in the recent animated movie “Frozen” says, “Let it go, let it go, let it go.”
- It will be hard to “draw near to God” if we cling to our past sins or guilt of them.
Accomplished! Heb. 10:22c
- The final statement in this verse clearly indicates a complete “washing.”
- And washed with “pure water.”
- It is not from the human effort that this “pure water” comes from; it is from the fountain of Christ’s shed blood!
- Too many people think they have to earn their salvation, and that getting clean is a work of their own power.
- It is NOT our power; it is God’s power and cleansing!
- When we falsely assume it is up to our ability to cleanse ourselves from our sins we will discover that it is nearly impossible!
ILLUS: Everyone is familiar with Murphy’s Law, “If anything can go wrong, it will.” That has spawned a whole set of such tongue-in-cheek laws. One of them is O’Reilly’s Law of the Kitchen: “Cleanliness is next to impossible.” We’ve all heard that cleanliness is next to godliness, but doesn’t it sometimes seem that cleanliness is truly next to impossible? Spiritual cleanliness is only possible through the grace of God, by the blood of Christ. — Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1997).
God desires us to come to Him, He calls us to fellowship with Him, He has made the way possible, He has paid the price, He has opened the way – all through the work and sacrifice of His son Jesus. Why would you hesitate to come to a God who has done all the work, paid the price for all sin, and beckoned you to come to Him.
- Jesus aid this during His ministry on earth, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matt. 11:28
- Unlike other religions on this earth, all but one make it up to you to earn your way. With some you have to beat yourself or try and discipline yourself to earn God’s favor, some teach that you will not likely ever reach “nirvana” in this life, but keep trying. Some teach you have to prove yourself by forcing others to submit. There is only one “religion” however that God says, “come … I’ve done it all for you” and that is Christianity.
- It isn’t about how good you can be for God to love you; it is about how good God is that He loves you!
- How can anyone resist the love Jesus Christ showed by taking the price of sin upon Himself?
- LET US DRAW NEAR TO GOD!
CONCLUSION: The writer of Hebrews was writing to a people who had always known fear in coming to God. They had understood by the Old Covenant that approaching God was a frightening thing. All of that was because Christ had not yet died as the perfect sacrifice, and as our high priest. Now that He has come entrance into the very presence of God is wide open, COME!