“A New and Living Way”
We begin this week with a sermon Jason did on Hebrews 10:11-25. We hope it will encourage you and help you to walk strong in the Lord this week!
Let’s pray. Father, may the cross be our glory, may You be our song. That’s our prayer today Lord. And we ask that by the power of your Holy Spirit, right here and right now, that you might give us eyes to see and ears to hear what that means for us. In Jesus’ holy name we pray. Amen.
This week has been a very interesting week for me. I’ve been travelling around to different places, speaking from Valparaiso University, to Joliet, to out on the East Coast for a couple of days and one reoccurring theme, as if God knew what He was doing, kept coming up. Whether I’m sitting down one on one with people or speaking to groups, the reality is that most people who call themselves Christians do not understand what it means to live in this new and living way. Most people who call themselves Christians are stuck in religion. They are stuck just trying to be good people. Do you know anyone who’s trying to be good people? Because that is our drift. That’s my natural drift pattern. I’m not trying to be a bad person, but if left up to my own devices, can I generate any good? No! And wrestling with that truth is challenging. Wouldn’t you agree? We sang this awesome song, “God you are good, you’re so good, you’re good.” We said that quite a few times, didn’t we? Well there’s a reason we did, because I forget. I start to believe that I might or could be good. You see, I don’t know any good people. I only know people through whom God does good. That’s the crux of what we are going to talk about today. This new and living way is the life-giving way of living by faith through grace and living by grace through faith.
I do a lot of couple counseling and coaching. Do you remember the phrase, “stop biting and devouring or else you’ll be destroyed by one another”? That’s what they were in the midst of, and so they called me in and asked me to help them sort this out. Have any of you had trouble in your marriage? Do you know what I’m talking about, where you’re biting and devouring? You can’t seem to forgive one another. You can’t seem to just let it go and move forward. Basically, they were standing one on each side, there’s the problem in between them, and they’re just lobbing bombs at each other. You see, unless you understand the new and living way of Jesus, the way of grace, living in and through Him by faith, we will continue to destroy one another. That is the way of man and women, of mankind. This new and living way though helps us get on the same side and look at the problem together. Remember that I am saved through grace and that I am not perfect. Remember that I need forgiveness and I should not stand in judgment of others, though they might have sinned against me or disappointed me and not lived up to my expectations. Now aren’t you glad that God doesn’t treat you that way? God very clearly proclaimed to us his expectations, didn’t He? In giving us the law, He gave us the Ten Commandments. Has anybody here ever stolen? Anybody here ever lied? Let’s get all of our hands up please. So we have disobeyed God. And God tells us that the wages of sin is death, separation from God. That is what we all deserve, but He doesn’t. He gives us grace.
In the Old Testament, the Jewish people were taught this. They were given the Law and they were given the sacrificial system. They were told that not only does their sin separate them from God, but that there must be payment for sin. Blood must be shed. So they engage in this sacrificial system of rams, goats, bulls and all kinds of stuff. But that never actually took away the sin because it would require, if humans are the ones doing the sinning, a human sacrifice.
So that’s where we’re digging in today. Here’s the Scripture, from Hebrews 10. “Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins”, as I’ve just said. All it’s doing is paying forward. All it’s doing is making sure we don’t forget that God’s righteous, holy decree must be satisfied and that there must be some payment for the disobedience and therefore blood must be shed. All foretelling what’s about to be talked about here in verse 12. “But when this priest had offered for all time” (Jesus is this priest) “one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.” No more sacrificial system, no more doing the religion thing. It’s been done, by the new and living way of Jesus. Continuing with verse 13 and 14, “Since that time He (Jesus) waits for his enemies to be made his footstool, because by one sacrifice” this is the key verse, “he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” Do you understand that you have been made perfect forever in Jesus Christ if you are living by faith through grace?
How many of you in here have been baptized? We want you to understand what is freely being offered to you in baptism: forgiveness for all your sins. Cleansed. Purified. For those of us who were baptized a long time ago, we still just live back into our baptismal promise, don’t we? That’s what we come to bank on. He promised that He would forgive. And that’s good news! He’ll never change. And those of us who are really engaging in what I just described, do you sense day by day that you are being made more and more holy? Do you see God, not only justifying you, but sanctifying and growing you in this grace? That’s normal for all believers, for us to be growing constantly and living by faith. Not just being saved by faith, but living by grace through faith.
Alright, let’s go through the first principle. Jesus, not only is our high priest, but He is the sacrificial Lamb of God that takes away, not just pays them forward, the sin of the world. It’s done, it’s gone. Past, present and future. He’s our High Priest. He offered himself as the perfect sacrifice for our sin. Let’s continue in Hebrews 10, verse 15. “The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says: “This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord.” A covenant, a new expectation, a new agreement. “I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write the on their minds. Then he adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” You’re being made more and more holy through baptism and as we’re growing through Him. The more I understand the will of God, the more convicted I am of my sin. Does that make sense? The more I understand how egregiously I’ve offended and do offend a holy God, the more I am going to understand that He is God and I am not. And boy do I need His grace! That’s not a one-time thing. That’s an ever-growing awareness of my need for His grace and my receiving of that grace. It only grows, it only magnifies, as you come to know him. So aren’t you glad that as you come to have that written on your mind and on your hearts, you can be for sure that it’s forgiven. He’ll remember it no more. It’s a very important point. “And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin”. It’s done, it’s over.
Let’s continue with verses 19-21, “Therefore, brothers (and sisters), since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God “. So let’s understand this a little bit. We now can enter the Most Holy Place. He’s talking about the temple. Inside of the temple was the Holy of Holies. What separated us from the Holy of Holies? It was the curtain, which on the cross when Jesus was dying, tore in two. Miraculously by the power of the Holy Spirit, it tore in two, symbolizing there’s access to God. What’s separating us from Him is over. The sin is paid for. We can all have access to God now through Jesus, through His blood that has been shed once for all. The curtain is torn. Talk about a great High Priest! What do you think? Back then they would have known the high priest. They would have gone one time a year. They’d tie a little rope around their leg and they’d go into the Holy of Holies. This is a holy God and to connect with Him requires awesomeness and that’s what Jesus provides to us. Forgiveness of our sins, cleansed, so that we can move into that space unafraid. So here’s the challenge. Will you do exactly that? Verse 22 says “let us draw near to God with a sincere heart”. Will you draw near to God? Do you draw near to God? How do you draw near to God? Do you walk daily with him? Do you hold on to him as if He’s life? Because He is. “With a sincere heart”, that means a humble and contrite heart. This is not just doing what I want to do anyway and then asking for the Lord to bless me. This is “You are God and I am not”, apart from You I can do nothing. I need Your grace. Take me deeper into that understanding Lord, use my life as You will. “Thy will be done, thy Kingdom come”. “On Earth as it is in Heaven”. Continuing now with verse 22, “having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience” (sprinkled through the shedding of his blood) “and having our bodies washed with the pure water.” Verse 23 says, “Let us hold unswervingly” (drive a stake in the ground and remember that this is the core of life) “to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” Let’s hold on the fact that He is faithful. Me, not so much. How about you? Do you mess up once in a while? The good news is He is absolutely perfect, so let’s hold on to Him. So let’s live by faith in him, not in us. That’s what it means to live in full assurance of faith. I have faith in him. I have full assurance in Jesus, not so much assurance of me.
Next is Principle #2: We live by Grace through FAITH. Not only are we saved by grace through faith, we live by grace through faith in God. Through faith in His sacrifice for us, we can be forgiven, cleansed from our sins and reconnected with God. That is what life is all about: connecting with Him and with one another. Then as He uses our lives, He’ll use us to connect others in His calling that He’s given us. Look what it says next in Hebrews 10:24, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” You know God is love. And good deeds are what God does through us. Let’s consider all the myriad of ways that we could do that as a body. How many of you here have taken the Body Life Basics training we’re doing? Hopefully you’re going to be soon, by God’s grace. Because that’s what we’re trying to help each other get on the same page about. This is what it means for us to be the body of Christ. To do exactly what He said: to spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Hebrews 10:25 continues, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” The Day is the final day when Jesus comes back again. He is going to consummate history.
Principle #3: “Biblically functioning community”, states that if you want to live by grace through faith you need the body of Christ. That’s why we are here for one another and God in and through you is a blessing to me. So I want to connect with that. I want to talk to you about my sins and what I’m struggling with. I want to ask you to pray for me and help me grow in Christ. I was back in New York and it’s just interesting again how God knows what He’s doing, right? So I’m talking with 3 or 4 people about New Year’s resolutions. They’re kind of funny when you think about it, right? How little traction we actually get, especially when they are done alone. So we are all contemplating the reality that we could lose a few pounds. Ok, so my number was 40. That’s the number I felt convicted about. So 4 or 5 of us all at the same time are saying “me too”. It was just awesome. I’ve known these people a long time. We’ve journeyed together, we’ve wrestled together, we’ve prayed together. So we’ve all committed together, for the next year, to go on a journey together. We’re going to encourage one another. We’re going to try and spur one another on towards love. This is love for God, to obey His command. Don’t be a glutton. Aren’t you sometimes? The only way to stop it, isn’t just pray “Father”, it’s pray and get together with the body of Christ and encourage one another daily. So we grow in this new way of Jesus, this way of grace and community, not isolation, not self-help, it’s God. As we live by faith together in biblical functioning community, whatever the Bible teaches us, however it teaches us how to relate to one another, that’s what we will do. We will spur one another on toward love and good deeds.
Now Mark 13:1 says, “As he was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent building!” Then Jesus responds in verse 2, “Do you see all these great buildings? “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.” So that was them leaving the temple. They walked through the valley, they’re thinking on these things, like that’s one of those things you don’t forget, right? They get back up to the other side of the valley and they are on the Mountain of Olives. Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, opposite of the temple, so now they’re looking at it. It’s a beautiful scene if you’ve ever been there. There are Peter, James, John and Andrew. You can almost picture the conversation between them: “You ask him”. “No, you do it. I’m not doing it. Last time he said get behind me Satan, I’m not doing it.” Peter’s out. “Don’t say it’s not going to happen, just find out when”. “No Lord, that’ll never happen.” “Get behind me!” “It’s going to happen, don’t stop that again. When?” So they try. In verse 4 they ask, “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?” Verse 5 continues, “Jesus said to them: “Watch out that no one deceives you”, that no one shows up and says “Hi, I’m Jesus back for the second time”, which has happened quite a few times, in some of our lifetimes even. Continuing in Mark 13:6-7, “Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many. When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, (like what is happening right this moment in the Middle East) do not be alarmed.” That’s the way people disconnected from His love and grace, that’s the way they are going to act with one another. Until He comes back, that’s part of the deal. Mark 13:7-8 continues “Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains
So Jesus comes, consummates history and brings in the new Jerusalem. He ushers in the new way of heaven No more sin, no more struggle against evil. We will be living with our Lord, abiding in Him, all day every day, serving the King. Mark 13:9 says, “You must be on your guard.” Are you on your guard this morning? Are you ready? Do you understand the deception of the evil one trying to drag you back to religion? Trying to be a good boy or girl, not living by grace through faith in Jesus every day in every way. Because it is a very slippery slope. Because here is the reality, things are going to get worse. Mark 13:9 continues, “You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues.” And every one of the people, those four guys that were asking, they all died for their faith. That happened. And that isn’t just a truth for them, it’s also foretelling a truth for us. This is the way it will be at the end of the times. Continuing verse 9, “On account of me you will stand before governors and kings (they actually, literally did) as witnesses (to Jesus) to them.” Does that make sense to you? Do you embrace the reality that as I am living in this new way, as He is growing me and sanctifying me, it is normal for Him to bear witness to who He is through me? And I will stand for him. When people come against me with hatred and anger, I come with love and forgiveness because that’s what Jesus did. And sometimes, they will want to take our lives because of it. Do you understand that more people are dying, are being martyred for their faith right now than ever before in history? Did you know that? It’s easy to miss that sometimes, living in America. You should know this is true. By the way, where that’s taking place, the Kingdom of God is expanding, multiplying. I was talking to one of my buddies in New York. He just came back from Africa, the church is expanding like wildfire in Africa. Praise God. People are finding life by grace through faith. It’s awesome and they are living in that way. They’re not being proud. They’re not standing against God. They’re submitting to Him. They’re living. It’s awesome. They’re being God’s witnesses and they’re receiving that witness. They’re living boldly for the Kingdom.
Moving on to Principle #4, “There will be increasing trouble and persecution in this world, and we will bear witness to God’s love in the midst of it all!” Because He will do it through us. Guaranteed, as we live by faith. And then He says this in Mark 13:10, “And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial,” (it might be painful, no doubt about it, it was painful for Jesus, but here’s the thing you have as a guarantee, don’t waver on this) “do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.” So let Him speak. Be used of God.
How many of you have had the privilege of being used of God, in any circumstance, and you’ve seen God change lives? You know that’s God doing that, right? And we get to be used as His instruments to bear witness to His forgiveness and His bringing life into us and then life through us. That is good news. It’s very good news. So God will speak through us. He will give you words to speak. Don’t be afraid. Then He goes on to say this. He’s really trying to make sure you get it, how hard this is going to get. Continuing with Mark 13:12-13, “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child.” I can’t even imagine that. “Children will rebel against their parents,” (that I can imagine) “and have them put to death. All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” Guaranteed, because He who promised, is faithful. Remember, He who promised is faithful.
Lastly, Principle #6, “Persecution reveals Character!” How do you find something out? One of my mentors and I were sitting in a mall food court. We were having this mentoring time. I was wrestling with some stuff and he was looking at me all weird. This guy is a very wise man of God. He took the cup of juice and he picked it up in his hand and said “watch this”. He got really close to me and smashed the cup and the juice got all over me. And I said “Jim, what’s up? That’s not cool dude.” And he said, “That’s how you find out what’s in somebody. Pressure!” The real them comes out. I said “you could have just said that Jim”. He said, “well this way the point will stick.” Real sticky, now I have to go wash my clothes. But that’s how you find out where someone really stands. And Jesus is trying to help us all understand. If you stand with Him, live by grace through faith, not only will He strengthen us, not only give us words, not only change the world through us, He will bear testimony to his goodness. And He is good. We will experience and express His love in ways you could never even ask for or imagine for yourself. It’ll be awesome. That is us who are being made holy. That is the journey of faith that we all get to be a part of. Is that not good news? Let’s pray.
Father God, we are grateful that You invite the likes of us, not only that You would come and die for us, but that You use our lives to bear witness to Your glory, to Your holiness, to Your goodness. Father, we all proclaim that You are good and we are not. We are so grateful that we get to be cleansed and purified, that you create in us new people. Teach us how to live in Your ways, Lord. Help us to walk with You. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.