Hebrews 10:19-25 Radical Commitment to Church WC McCarter
There are so many directions I could take a sermon with this title. It could be very topical, and I could just tell you what I think about commitment to church. I could tell you that (1) Being committed to church is being committed to the encouragement, support, and uplifting of the local congregation. I could also tell you that (2) Being committed to church is being committed to the ongoing growth of the church not only locally but around the world; that sending missionaries to do Gospel work throughout the nations is of utmost priority; and that we need to continually pray for missionaries and send as many resources as possible. I could take this all sorts of directions, but I have decided to teach/preach Heb 10:19-25. You and I need to know what the Lord says about these things. So, we will cover only part of it from this passage.
READ Scripture- This is the Word of God
We have Boldness and a High Priest (19-21)
The “therefore” summarizes at least 4:14-10:18. In fact, there is great overlap of this passage with what was said in 4:14-16. The writer calls on the brethren, that is, the brothers and sisters in the church, to act a certain way in light of what he has said throughout these several chapters. On the basis of Christ High Priesthood, we have (1) boldness to enter the Holiest and (2) a High Priest.
Let’s look at the first part. We now have boldness to enter in the Holiest. The “Holiest” is the Most Holy Place or the Holy of Holies. In the Temple there were sections and courts. The Most Holy place was the most inner place where God came down and met with the High Priest. Only the High Priest could go into that area and only at designated times. Thus, only one man had access into the full and glorious presence of God. Hebrews now says that we can have boldness to enter into that place, that is, into the presence of God on the basis of the blood of Jesus which is a new and living way. What is so new about it? We may enter into God’s presence not by the blood of bulls and goats but by the precious blood of Jesus. That is new. We could list off several things that are new about this way, but let us suffice it to say that another important part of this that is new is the fact that Jesus’ blood provides access into the presence of God for not only one, or some, but for all us. What makes this way living? The primary reason that this is a living way as opposed to a dead way is because Christ has laid down His life as a sacrifice, and He has been raised from the dead. The resurrection ensures that this is a living way.
This is something that only Christ could consecrate for us. He is the Resurrection and the Life. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Just as the ancient Temple had a large, heavy curtain which separated everyone from the presence of God and it was literally and physically torn from top to bottom when Christ died on the cross, here Jesus’ flesh is seen as that veil. Christ’s body was torn on our behalf. His flesh was ripped for us. The wrath of God fell upon His soul in order that we would have a new and living way into the presence of God. Thus, we have boldness to enter God’s presence because we do so on account of the blood of Jesus.
The second thing we have is a High Priest. We know that this is a major theme in the book of Hebrews. We are now the people of God. Those who were not God’s people are now God’s people. We are the house of God, and Jesus is our High Priest. He is our go-between. We have no need to look to any other thing or any other person to get us to God; no priest, or pastor, or system. We go to God the Father through God the Son. It is on this basis that the author will now exhort us to do three things. These three each begin with, “Let us.”
Let Us Draw Near (22)
Since we have boldness to enter God’s presence and since we have a High Priest, let us draw near to God (1) with a true heart [genuine, sincere; the heart is usually meant to refer to the mind] (2) in full assurance of faith [assurance takes place in the life of the mind] (3) having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience [in the ancient Jewish system there were several ceremonial cleansings, but here it must refer to the work of God in our lives for regeneration] and (4) having our bodies washed with pure water [along the same lines of the ceremonial washings, the author says that our bodies have been washed with pure water, that is, we have been cleansed from all sin]. No longer pull away from God. No longer dabble into the things of the world. Draw near to God. Let your confidence be sure as you draw near to Him.
Let Us Hold Fast the Confession of Our Hope (23)
Since we have boldness to enter God’s presence and since we have a High Priest, let us hold fast the confession of our hope (1) without wavering (2) for He who promised is faithful. “Without wavering” literally means to not bend. Christian hope does not change because it is rooted in the finished work of Jesus Christ. He does not change. What He has accomplished is established and firm. These are things that happened outside of us, back in history. The only thing that might change is your steadfastness. What about you? Therefore, on the basis of Christ’s finished work, we should not waver. Our hope should be straight. God has been shown to be faithful throughout time. When we put the pieces together and consider that God made this plan of redemption even before the foundation of the world, He was faithful to and through the nation of Israel, and then He sent His Son into the world in order to save sinners. His faithfulness was put on full display when Christ came into the world and fulfilled the plan of redemption. The life, ministry, sacrifice, and resurrection of Christ was the faithfulness of God. If He has already done, what seems to me, the hard work, why would He then not give us everything else? He will surely, then, be faithful to His promises about our future. He has proven Himself throughout time, mainly in Christ, and He will in the future.
Let Us Consider One Another (24-25)
Think of where the author has come in the development of these points: Christ is God’s final word on all things; Christ is greater than the angels, greater than Moses, greater than Joshua, He is more excellent than any who have come before. He has done the greatest work in history, the work of salvation. Since we have boldness to enter God’s presence and since we have a High Priest, let us consider one another in order to (1) stir up love and (2) stir up good works. To do this we will have to (1) not forsake the assembling of ourselves together and (2) exhort one another.
It is not only about one or some getting across the finish line. We can all get across the line. I know many who run marathons. They celebrate the completion the race, even if they finish two hours after the person who took first place. The same is true of the Christian life. It is not about who gets there the quickest. It is about all of us getting across the finish line. We only have to finish the race of faith that is before us. It is my goal as your pastor to get all of you across the line. It should also be our goal as a church to get each of us across the finish line.
Another motivator for being together so that we can exhort one another is because “the Day,” that is, the Judgment Day is approaching. We get into our regular routines, taking care of our responsibilities at work, at home, and in the community, and we forget that this will all be over one day. This life does not last forever. Either you will die soon or Christ will return.
A commitment to regular attendance in worship is a commitment to the other people here. It is rooted in your thoughtfulness and love for one another. If you are going to stir up love and good works in one another, you have to be together. If you are going to exhort one another, you have to be face-to-face.
Conclusion and Christian Application
The Scriptures call on us to not consider a commitment to church to be a commitment to some religious duty; rather, we are to consider church to be a commitment to one another, a commitment to the people who are our brothers and sisters in Christ.