Hebrews 10:19-25 - Full Assurance of Faith
In our Sunday School classes our kids have been studying some chapters from the book of Numbers which speak about the people of Israel as they made their way through the wilderness to the edge of the Promised Land. They have been learning about how much that generation doubted, complained, murmured and rebelled against the LORD and the promises that He had made to them. This all comes to a climax in Numbers 13 &14 when twelve spies are sent out into the Promised Land but ten of them return with a bad report that turns the heart of the people away from faith in God and obedience to His promises.
Upon hearing this bad report, and having rejected the good report from Caleb and Joshua, the ‘congregation raised a loud cry, and the people wept that night...they grumbled against Moses and Aaron’. They began to say, “Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness!” Their hearts turned away from the living God and they spoke of choosing a new leader who would take them back to the land of Egypt. Eventually, the people picked up stones to stone Moses and Aaron to death but God appeared at the tent of meeting before all of the people of Israel.
During all of this Moses interceded for the people and the LORD pardoned their sin but He judged them and said that they would not be allowed to enter into the Promised Land. When Moses tells them about this they mourned greatly and then some of the people got up early the next morning and tried to enter into the Promised Land without the LORD’s blessing. This resulted in their deaths as they were routed and soundly defeated by their enemies in the land.
As our kids have learned about these stories I have found myself asking, ‘Why did God send in those twelve spies since everything turned out the way that it did?’ Ten of the twelve spies were faithless and wicked. As I have considered these things I have found myself saddened over their failure and lack of faith. And yet, I see through their faithlessness Christ’s faithfulness is all the more magnified. Jesus was faithful to the one who appointed Him (3:2). Jesus alone can conquer our enemies and deliver us from our fear of death and lifelong slavery (3:14-18). He did all of this by being perfectly faithful to God through His active obedience in obeying the Father fully and by His passive obedience as He willingly suffered and died on the cross. Because He did these things for us He has become our forerunner who has gone ahead on our behalf. He has gone before us into heaven as our Great High Priest and now we are told to come boldly before the LORD. (4:16, 6:19-20).
Because of Jesus, and only because of Him, can we now have confidence to enter into the holy places. If we attempt to do this by any other way we will end up like those who tried to go into the Promised Land without God’s blessing (Numbers 14:39-45).
Consider these things as we look at our text this morning which is in Hebrews 10:19-25. It says,
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Last week we saw in Hebrews 10:1-4 that there were five reasons why the Law could not give us confidence before God.
The law was only a shadow.
The law was not the true form of the realities that were to come.
The law demanded sacrifices to be repeated continually.
These sacrifices could not cleanse the worshipers.
The sacrifices could not remove consciousness of sins but were a continual reminder of sins.
Hebrews 10:4 draws the conclusion from all of these facts when it says, “It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” These facts have led to only one conclusion and to only one diagnosis: ‘it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins!’
As you consider these things how does it make you feel? Well, the text does not tell us how we should feel about it; rather, it tells us how God felt about these things. We read, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired...in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure.”
Things seem to be pretty hopeless for us at this point; however, the text then gives us a heavenly solution to this impossibility. Christ agrees to have a body prepared for Himself (5) and He says, “Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written about me in the scroll of the book.” (7)
In doing this Jesus makes an end of the first covenant and establishes a second. He offers Himself up to God once and for all so that His elect can be sanctified. While men do many religious things which can never take away sins, Jesus is sitting down at the right hand of the God, waiting for His enemies to be made a footstool for His feet (11-13). By that one sacrifice He has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified (14). And the Holy Spirit testifies, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.” And where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin (18).
Hebrews 10:1-4 showed us that the Old Covenant could not gain us access before God because it was impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. However, Hebrews 10:5-18 shows us what the LORD has done so that we can draw near and enter into the holy places. Jesus was condemned for our sins and died. He now lives to intercede for His people before the Father.
Because of what Christ has done, and because of what He is now doing for us as the Mediator between God and man, we are to have ‘confidence’ that we can enter the holy places, we are to ‘draw near’ with full assurance of faith, we are to hold fast to our confession because ‘He who promised is faithful’.
May I ask you if you are confident, even bold, to draw near to God? Is this not so hard for us to do because we know that we have sinned. We know our guilt. We are well acquainted with the condemnation that our sins deserve. Therefore, does your heart not tremble at the thought of being invited to come before Him?
John Bunyan once wrote, “By the presence of God, when we have it, indeed, even our best things, our comliness our sanctity and righteousness, all do immediately turn to corruption and polluted rags. The brightness of His glory dims them, as the clear light of the shining sun puts out the glory of the fire or candle, and covers them with the shadow of death...How much more then will we fear the LORD when He shows Himself to us as one that dislike our ways, as one that is offended with us for our sins!”
John Bunyan continues, “God’s presence is dreadful, and that not only His presence in common, but His special presence, yes, His most comfortable and joyous presence. When God comes to bring a soul news of mercy and salvation, even that visit, that presence of God is fearful...Man crumbles to dust at the presence of God; yes, even though He shows Himself to us in His robes of salvation.”
In Hebrews we have often seen that God has come to us in His special presence with an invitation. He comes to us to bring our souls news of mercy and salvation; and yet, even this visit from Him where we are promised access to the Father by faith in Christ strikes fear into our hearts. Therefore the author of Hebrews has had to give strong biblical encouragement and comfort so that we can enter into God’s presence.
The only means through which this is done is by Jesus Christ. Having addressed the impossibility of the Law to grant us this access (10:1-4), the author of Hebrews has talked to us about what Christ has done to grant us this access (10:5-18). Now we are told that we can have confidence to draw near because He who promised is faithful.
Our confidence to enter the holy places rests upon the sacrifice of Jesus, His resurrection, and His mediation on behalf of His people. Our confidence rests upon the fact that we have Jesus' own testimony given to us. Will we believe? We read, “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God…”. So our confidence to draw near to God is because of Jesus and what He accomplished.
We can draw near because of the internal application of these things which have granted assurance to our hearts. We read, “...let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” We can draw near to God because of the benefits of Christ’s work and its application to us.
Finally, we come while holding fast to the confession of our hope without wavering because He who promised is faithful. We read, “... let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” We can draw near to God because the LORD is faithful from start to finish.
We began this sermon by talking about the spies who came back from spying out the Promised Land. Ten of the twelve men came back with an evil report. Their testimony effected the entire nation of Israel. Their faithless report spread throughout the camp and before long all of the people turned against the LORD. On that day they murmured and complained, they looked back longingly towards Egypt, and they picked up stones with which to kill Moses.
We have also seen that Jesus is our great forerunner who has been sent ahead of us. He has not only spied out the land, but He has also conquered it and gone ahead of us (Hebrews 2:15-17). The Good News has come to us about the promise that lies ahead of us. We have heard the testimony of a land that is flowing with milk and honey. What will our response be? Will it be a response of faith or will it be a faithless response like the generation that died in the wilderness?
Our text tells us what our aim should be. The author of Hebrews says, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
We are not to be like that wicked faithless generation who did not enter into the rest that had been promised. We have been given a promise of eternal life and the one who promised is faithful so we should encourage one another. We should encourage one another because we need each other and it would be to our own harm, and the harm of Christ's church, if we neglect to meet together.
As we have seen in the book of Hebrews already there were some among this congregation who were murmuring against Christ and the Gospel. There were some who claimed to be believers but they stopped gathering with the saints. If this was allowed to continue there would be terrible consequences for those individuals and for the community at large. Therefore, they are exhorted to consider how to stir one another to love and good works. This is the responsibility of the entire congregation.
There will be some who will not gather together with the body of Christ. There are some who will not identify with the congregation especially when there is no advantage in that association. These types of faithless people are not to become the example that is followed by others. We are not to be like those in Numbers 14 who allow the testimony of those 10 faithless men influence the whole community.
Instead, we are to stir one another up to love and good works, and encourage one another. There will be many challenges in the church. People can come and go. Beloved pastors will die or move to another place. Conflicts occur and personalities clash. So what is the consistent motivation for us to continue to be faithful to the LORD and to each other in all of these things?
We are told that we are to do these things all the more as we see the Day drawing near. Just as we have confidence to draw near to God by looking at Christ we are to draw near to the Congregation by continuing to look at Him and expecting His return. We always do best when we keep our eyes on Jesus!
In Hebrews 3:1-6 these believers were asked to consider Jesus. They were to look at Him because He has been faithful over all God’s house as a Son. We have been told that we are His house if we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope (3:6). Now the author of Hebrews asks us, brothers in the LORD, to consider how we can encourage one another as members of that house while looking to Christ’s return. Christ is our living hope, He is our confidence, He is our boast, He is our hope!