Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Redemption's Actor and the certainties He supplies for Christians

Hebrews 10:19-22a "Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near..."

Why is it so important to consider the Actor of salvation Jesus Christ? Why are the actions which he performed on the cross and from the empty tomb crucial? Why are the activities He is performing right now at the Father's right hand so fundamental to the Christian's confidence in salvation? Hebrews 10:19-25 gives us three certainties that Jesus Christ's activity of salvation gains for believers. 

1. Guaranteed Confidence before God. 
Hebrews 10:19-20

2. Grand Representation with God. 
Hebrews 10:21

3. Getting to know and serve God. 
Hebrews 10:22-24

1. Guaranteed Confidence before God.  Hebrews 10:19-20
The word "therefore" is the writer's way of summarizing the purpose for what he just wrote in Hebrews 8:1-10:18.  As you read that portion of Hebrews, you discover that Jesus' mission of coming to earth was to inaugurate the New Covenant redemption that would replace the Old Covenant system. (Hebrews 8) In establishing that basis, the Lord Jesus Christ acted on our behalf as our Perfect sacrifice as pictured in the tabernacle. (Hebrews 9:1-11)  Furthermore, He accomplished great benefits that would be applied to all who by grace through faith believed on Him. (Hebrews 9:12-28) 

The tabernacle/temple imagery is employed by the writer to prove that Jesus Christ acted as both sacrifice and sacrificer, perfect offering and priestly offerer, effective human representative and Eternal Son. By inaugurating the New Covenant in Hebrews 8 and by acting and accomplishing what was needed to guarantee our confidence before God in Hebrews 9, we see in Hebrews 10:1-18 how He did so - by way of assuming onto His person a second nature, a human nature through the virgin birth. Such an activity is how Jesus Christ came to be the Supreme actor of our salvation.  He did for us what we could not do, bore the punishment that should had been ours and provided salvation and the basis for confidence that we did nothing to earn.  Christ alone is our great confidence before the Father. So by focusing on the Actor Jesus Christ, we discover that His activity guarantees confidence before God.  But notice next...

Grand representation with God. Hebrews 10:21
Hebrews 10:21 states - "and since we have a great priest over the house of God".  What the writer of Hebrews does, in typical Jewish fashion, He revisits the same material he just covered in greater detail, including scripture that he may had written earlier.  The background of the High Priest's office is used by the writer of Hebrews to describe Jesus' role as the High Priest of His people.  Because He ever lives to make intercession and mediation for us, we have nothing to fear before our Heavenly Father. (1 Timothy 2:5; 1 John 2:1-2) Jesus functions as the believer's High priest, however He does so not in the order of Aaron's priesthood (for Jesus in His humanity was descended from the tribe of Judah), but rather in the order of Melchizedek.2  Now as fascinating as it is to read the writer of Hebrews comparison of Jesus and Melchizedek, we want to know why Jesus Christ alone provides such great representation?  

1. Full Deity in human flesh represents the believer. (Hebrews 1-2)

2. Fully Faithful to represent the believer. (Hebrews 3-4)

3. Forever qualified to represent the believer (Hebrews 5-7)

4. Final act secures representation for the believer (Hebrews 8-10)

No Grander Representative is there for sinners to be saved and for saints to be secure than Jesus Christ.  By focusing on Jesus Christ, the actor of salvation, we have seen how His activity secures the certainties of guaranteed confidence before God and grand representation with God. But now let's notice one last certainty here in Hebrews 10:19-25..

Getting to know and serve God. Hebrews 10:22-25
Behold the three commands that the writer issues forth to believers: "Let us draw near" (Hebrews 10:22); "Let us hold fast our confession of hope without wavering" (10:23) and "let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds" (10:24-25).  God's commands are rooted in the certainties he supplies.  Those three commands could not had been carried out consistently in the Old Covenant.  No one could draw near to God when they wanted to, nor could they hold fast to their confession with unwavering confidence nor was the worship environment as conducive for encouragement.  We as Christians take for granted all that has been accomplished by Jesus Christ. The privilege of getting to know and serve God  is spelled out by these three commands in the three main activities that are made possible by Christ's finished work:

A. We know and serve God by prayer. (10:22)

B. We know and serve God by the scripture. (10:23)3

C. We know and serve God together as a church. (10:24-25)

The confidence we have to know and serve God by prayer, the word and going to church to be with God's people is fed by and made possible by the Actor of our salvation, Jesus Christ.  

So by focusing on the Actor Jesus Christ, we discovered that His activity gains three certainties for the believer: guaranteed confidence before God; grand representation with God and getting to know and serve God. 

1. The writer of Hebrew appears to be not only including what he just covered in Hebrews 8:1-10:18, but more so taking the reader back to Hebrews 1:1-7:28.  What is so significant about having such a great high priest? What is a high priest? In ancient Israel the people of God were represented by priests at the tabernacle and later on temple systems.  The head priest was called the "High Priest" and his office was inaugurated with the installation of Aaron, Moses brother, in Leviticus 8. Only the High Priest could enter into the most holy place of the tabernacle/temple once a year.  It was in that most holy room that the High Priest would bring the blood of a bull or goat and sprinkle it on the mercy seat, the lid of the ark of the Covenant.  This action signified that the people and the tabernacle system were cleansed and fit for use before God for another year.  

2. Melchizedek's mysterious identity (Genesis 14) is shown to had been none other than an Old Testament appearance of Jesus Christ. (Hebrews 5-7) 

3. Unless you and I as Christians are daily and regularly in the scriptures, we will not be able to consistently hold fast. It is the scriptures that ties us to Christ and His truth and prevent us from being blown around by every wind and wave of error. (Psalm 119:11; Ephesians 4:12-15; James 1:6-8, 22-25) 

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