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Hebrews 9:13-28 part one - Considering the past, present and future ministry of Christ

Call to Worship to begin service: Isaiah 43:1-3a

Call to Repentance and Forgiveness of Sins: Revelation 2:4-5


There are two ways that Hebrews 9:13-28 can be structured or outlined.

  • One emphasizes the past, present and future ministry of Christ.

  • The second emphasizes the efficacious nature of Christ’s sacrifice. [Efficacious is possessing the quality of being effective; productive, or powerful to produce the effect intended.]


With these two things in mind this text ought to cultivate some excitement about the grace and comfort that this passage offers us.


This week I have often prayed and asked the LORD which of these two structures would be best for us?


Do we have to pick one or the other?

  • This week we will address the believers comfort in considering the past, present and future work of Christ.

  • Next week we will consider the efficacious nature of His sacrifice.


In verses 13-23 we take a look back into the past and see that Jesus has done. We read, ‘For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant. For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive. Therefore not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood. For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, “This is the blood of the covenant that God commanded for you.” And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship. Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.


Secondly, we see in verses 24-28a that we are to look up towards heaven with the eyes of faith to see what Christ is doing for us right now in heaven. ‘For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many…’.


Third, we can look at the end of verse 28b and we are made to consider the future that we have with Christ and we are made to eagerly wait for His return. We read, ‘Christ...will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.’


This week in my personal devotions I came to a text that helped to bring out the importance of the LORD’s past, present and future ministry. In the book of Revelation the apostle John, like the author of Hebrews, wrote to encourage suffering Christians to persevere, to overcome, to keep the faith.


What would he share with these believers to encourage and strengthen them under those conditions?


To minister to these Christians, and to these seven diverse and unique churches (Revelation 2&3), John emphasizes many of the same topics that we can find in our text.


The act that the bible so often speaks with one message about these things ought to encourage us. We can go to the bible and see and remember the truths that we already know which have already helped me in the past. These same truths can be found on every page of the bible.


We see in the Revelation 1 and in Hebrews 9 that we should consider...

  • the Trinitarian work of salvation.

  • the grace and peace that Christ’s sacrifice gives us.

  • the death and resurrection of Christ which grants us an eternal inheritance and the forgiveness of our sins.

  • that we have been purified to serve the LORD and freed from dead works.

  • that we are admonished to anticipate Christ’s soon return.


Another way that John will edifies these believers and these churches, which we see in both passages, is that we are to know the past, the present and the future ministry of the LORD.


The apostle John begins his introduction by saying, “John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come (Father), and from the seven spirits who are before His throne (the Holy Spirit), and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.” (4-5a)


Do you see the past, present and future hope that we have in the LORD in these verses?


Then John continues by saying, “To Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood and made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Behold, His is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of Him. Even so, Amen.” (5-7)


Do you see the past, present and future hope that we have in the LORD in these verses?


John writes in verse 8, “I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.


Do you see the past, present and future hope that we have in the LORD in these verses?


After these words John speaks of having seen Christ in a vision and he describes his response. He writes in verses 17-18, “When I saw Him (Jesus), I fell at His feet as though dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying, ‘Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.


Do you see the past, present and future hope that we have in the LORD in these verses?


Each of these verses speak of the past, present and future work of the LORD. Considering any one of these three things would provided great grace and comfort to you and I; but in our text we are reminded to consider the past, present and future ministry of Christ.

  • How often we can look at the cross, but then fail to appreciate what Jesus does for us now.

  • How often we can consider what Jesus does for us today, but then neglect to wait eagerly for Jesus’ return.


Our text in Hebrews 9 also speaks of these three things. Hebrews 9:13-23 reminds us that Christ shed His blood, died, and offered Himself as our sacrifice for our sins. For example, Hebrews 9:14-15says, “...how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. Therefore He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.


As I consider how Jesus offered Himself up to God I picture all of this happening after Jesus is resurrected and ascension to the Father. In a sense, this is true because of what we read in Hebrews9:11-12, “But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) He entered once and for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of His own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.


But there is a sense in which these words may also speak of what happened in the sight of everyone as Christ offered Himself up to God during His suffering and death on the cross (26).


Dr. Hywel Jones speaks of this in this way, “It is often forgotten that Christ was active on Calvary. Though He suffered at the hands of men, the devil, and God, and meekly submitted to all, He was not inactive as bulls and goats were. These words describe what He was doing on the cross, how He was active. He was making an offering to God (5:1-3). His priestly ministry is therefore not to be located in heaven alone. Golgatha was an altar and not just a gibbet (gallows), because Christ was acting as a priest there. As the old priests were to bring the sacrifice to the Lord symbolically, sprinkling the altar, Christ offered His sacrifice to God actually.”.


There is an endless well of grace for us to experience as we contemplate what Jesus did for us on the cross. The apostle Paul spoke to the Corinthians and said, “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Christ and Him crucified.” However, as great as this is there are more blessings that the author of Hebrews wants every believer to consider. For example, He wants us to consider Jesus’ present ministry.


We see in verses 24-28a what Christ is doing for us right now in heaven. It begins with these words, ‘For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.


As we read these words it is helpful to consider when the old testament High Priest would enter into the Holy of Holies once a year. On that day the crowds would watch as the High Priest went behind the veil. Behind the veil, outside of their eyesight, the High Priest would minister on behalf of the people and mediate for them before the LORD (Leviticus 16).


Similarly, Jesus ascended to heaven and He now appears before ‘the face of God’ on our behalf. Jesus entered into the greater Tabernacle, the heavenly Temple, not made with human hands. His sacrifice was accepted by the Father and it was so efficacious that there is no longer any need for Him to suffer and die for sins again. His one sacrifice has purified every believer under the Old Covenant dispensation and under the New Covenant dispensation. Jesus atoned for all of our sins. Jesus is right now in heaven interceding for us. He is presently sovereignly ruling over the things of this world. And He is caring for His church in a special way (London Baptist Confession; Chapter 5 Section 7: As the providence of God does in general reach to all creatures, so after a more special manner it takes care of His church, and disposes of all things to the good thereof.)


We may not see Jesus with our eyes, but He reigns over all things. We read these words in Revelation 1:5 that Jesus is ‘the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth.’

  • Jesus was a faithful witness in life and in death. Now He faithfully ministering in heaven.

  • Jesus has risen from the dead and secured eternal life and an eternal inheritance for His people.

  • Jesus, though unseen, is still sovereignly ruling over all things and working out His will in all wisdom.


As Jesus mediates for us and intercedes for us He is not twisting the Father’s arm to accept us. He is not begging the Father to approve of us. He is not trying to convince His Father that we should be accepted. No, everything that separated you and I from the Father has been dealt with by Christ. (London Baptist Confession chapter 8 section 5: The Lord Jesus, by His perfect obedience and sacrifice of Himself, which He through the eternal Spirit once offered up unto God, has fully satisfied the justice of God, procured reconciliation, and purchased an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heave, for all those whom the Father has given to Him.)


If you and I, like the apostle John, were caught up in heaven and stood before Jesus He would come to us and put his right hand upon us and say, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore and I have the keys of Death and Hades.” (17-18)


Often our own thoughts often betray us, Satan continually seeks to condemn and us, this rebellious world assails us from every direction; therefore, we need to think upon the present ministry of Christ and find great comfort and grace in this. He holds His people in His mighty hand (1:20).


John 10:27-30says, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one.”


John 6:39-40 says these comforting words, “And this is the will of Him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that He has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in Him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” Jesus’ words, ‘I will raise him up on the last day’ brings us to our last point from our text.


Hebrews 9:28b reminds us to consider what Christ will do in the future. We read, ‘Christ...will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.’


Once a year, on the Day of Atonement, the High Priest would enter into the Holy of Hollies and the people would wait eagerly for him to come back out. When he came out the people rejoiced because this meant that the sacrifice that he had offered on their behalf had been accepted by the LORD. This gives us a sense of what we are to be like as we await the second coming of Christ. We are to be eagerly waiting for His return.


Last week, as I began to contemplate Christ’s death for me and as I did this I felt my heart falling in love with Jesus. Our text asks us to consider even more than this. It has asked us to consider Christ’s present ministry. He is in heaven ministering for us before the ‘face of the Father’ and He is sovereignly ruling over all visible and invisible things. Because of this we love Christ even more!


These two things, the cross and His present ministry, will produce in us an eager expectation to see His second appearing because we desire to be with the One that we love.


Revelation 21:1-5 speaks of that day when we read, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”


Are you ready for that day?

Are you Christ’s bride?

Are you waiting for Jesus who has been preparing a place for you in heaven (John 14:1-3)?


To be His bride you must consider His first coming when He dealt with our sins. You must repent of your sins and trust in Him alone as your only hope and salvation.


If you have done this, are you setting your mind on these three things: the past, present and future ministry of Christ?


Closing Benediction: Hebrews 13:20-21

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