Klaven Embertson - Hebrews 10:19-25
Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having 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 stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
Good morning everyone, let me just start out by saying that if you were encouraged when Pastor Chris mentioned last week that he was covering the largest section of Hebrews he had since we started Hebrews, you will be discouraged by me saying that today we will be covering the shortest section. Today we will be looking at six verses that in their 140 or so words contain enough concise truth to make even Paul proud. In my last two weeks of study and journaling on them, I feel as though this text has become a close friend. If you, like me, were already acquainted with these verses you may have thought, “I would like to get to know them better”, well here is your chance. This morning allow me to introduce you to a friend that will surprise you, challenge you, bring you joy, and cause you to draw nearer to God. This meet and greet, if you would, will happen in two parts, first we will look at the Confidence spoken of in verse 19, and then we will look at the three “Let us” statements that happen in verses 22-25. I do not have the time to cover everything that I learned in my nightly studies, but my prayer is that after we are done this morning you will want to get to know these verses more yourself.
Hebrews 10:19 says this: Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus. I want to draw out to you here the word Confidence, just that word all by itself. When you think of the word Confidence what do you think of? The dictionary defines this word in three ways: first, the feeling or belief that one can rely on someone or something, second, the state of feeling certain about the truth of something, and third, a feeling of self-assurance arising from one's appreciation of one's own abilities or qualities. The question we all ought to be asking ourselves is which definition is the one we should have in mind in this context? I think I can with good confidence say that the world loves the third definition best. The world would say the only confidence you should seek to have is self-confidence. Well let’s look and see if that stands up if we put that into this verse. Therefore, brethren, since we have self-confidence to enter the holy place… Hmm, what do you think? Wait, wait, before you answer, here is some historical context to put around the phrase “confidence to enter the holy place”. As I was studying this verse I spent a lot of time on the two words “holy place”, what is this holy place, who went into this holy place, and how did one feel when going into this holy place. It is clear that the writer of Hebrews thought a lot about this holy place also, as he uses these words together seven times, of those we have already talked about six. In chapter 9 of Hebrews we learned a lot about this holy place, we learned it was part of the sanctuary that is exquisitely blueprinted by God in Exodus chapters 25-28, we learned that only the High Priest was allowed to enter it, and we learned that even he had very specific rules to follow in order to enter it. In fact as Leviticus 16 records, in order for him to enter it, he had to make sacrificial atonement for his sin, and if he did not follow these very exact sacrificial rites he would die. But the most important thing we learn in Hebrews chapter 9 about this holy place is found in verse 24 where it says, For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself. So, if you were a Hebrew reading this phrase “since we have confidence to enter the holy place”, what do you think your response would be? Do you think it would be one of self-confidence or self-assurance? Of course not, they would have been greatly concerned about doing this based on confidence in themself, and brethren we should be no different. That is why the end of this verse is so important, it tells us which definition we should be using for Confidence, it says that we have this confidence “by the blood of Jesus”. Our confidence is based on a belief in someone greater than us. Someone that has made a new and living way for us to enter the holy place.
This leads us into verses 20 and 21 which says that we can have confidence to enter the holy place, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God. Thank you Lord Jesus! Thank you for this new and living way! The old way was but a shadow, it was one of death and repetition and incompleteness. You Lord made a new way, no longer a shadow but light, it is one of life because you have resin, one needing no repetition because you died once for all, one of completeness because in You we have all things. You Lord are our Great Priest over the house of God, a house that we have been promised residence by your blood and by our faith in your sacrifice. A faith that is a gift, not something we have earned or found but that has been given so that no man can boast. You have given us confidence by your blood inaugurated through the veil. When we hear this church we ought to think of Hebrews 6:19-20, This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek. Church we have an anchor within the veil, a firm anchor, attached to us not by earthly rope but by the very seal placed on us by the Holy Spirit. This is our confidence, this is our hope, this is our assurance, this church is the new and living way.
How are we doing church? I sure hope that you are enjoying getting to know my friend as much as I did. It is time to move into the second point I want to emphasize in this text. Hopefully you are able to rejoice with me in the confidence that we have by the blood of Jesus, inaugurated through His flesh. But what is our response to the gift of this confidence? For that we will turn to verses 22-25 where we will find three “let us” statements. For context I am going to repeat a bit of verse 21 as well. Since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having 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 stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. The three “let us” statements are: Let us draw near, Let us hold fast, and Let us consider how to stimulate one another. As we step through these statements it is important that we realize they are culminating in the final statement of “encouraging one another”. There are many ways to encourage one another but these verses are reminding us that as a church the ultimate way to encourage one another is by reminding each other of our confidence in Christ and the resulting freedom we have.
We begin with verse 22, Let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let me say that again, Let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith? Once again let us take a trip back to the old testament to be reminded of the astounding nature of that statement. We are going to draw near to God? Let’s see what Exodus tells us about that idea. Exodus 19:10-12 reads: The Lord also said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments; and let them be ready for the third day, for on the third day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. You shall set bounds for the people all around, saying, ‘Beware that you do not go up on the mountain or touch the border of it; whoever touches the mountain shall surely be put to death. The Lord is going to come down onto Mount Sinai in three days and the people are certainly not encouraged to draw near, we see this again in chapter 24. In that chapter Moses does a sacrifice for the people and sprinkles them with the blood of the sacrifice but they are still not allowed to draw near to God. But here the author of Hebrews has a message from God telling us to not just draw near but to draw near with a sincere heart, in full assurance of faith. But why are we able to do this, the verse tells us, we can do this because our hearts have been sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies have been washed with pure water. In Exodus 24 the people of Israel had been sprinkled clean by the blood of bulls and goats but we already know that was not enough. Our hearts have been sprinkled clean by the blood of a better sacrifice. The prophet Ezekiel talked about this in Ezekiel 36:26 where he prophecies: I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. Again because of the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior and the gift of faith from the Holy Spirit we have been given a new heart and a new spirit, our bodies are washed clean. Because of these the bounds setup to prevent harm to us have been removed and we can draw near to God. We can draw near in prayer, in praise, in worship, we can draw near in spirit and truth. Have you drawn near to Him today? Why not, if you have been washed clean by the blood of Christ the bounds have been removed, draw near!!
Now, we move onto verse 23, where we will find the second “Let us” statement, which encourages us to hold fast: Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. We are to hold fast to our confession, by this the author means that we are to cling and adhere to the confession of our hope. This term confession has been used previously in Hebrews, in 3:1 the author refers to Jesus as the High Priest of our confession, in 4:14 told to hold fast our confession because Jesus was tempted in every way and was yet without sin. So what is this confession? In 1 Timothy 6:13 we are told that Jesus made the good confession before Pontius Pilate. Before Pontius Pilate, Jesus confessed the gospel itself, that all those that know the truth know Him and that He is the King of a spiritual kingdom. So, this verse is telling us to hold fast to our confession of faith in the gospel. Paul in 1 Timothy 6:12 says Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. This church is calling us to remember our baptism, where we made confession of our faith before the church, and once we pull in the final “Let us” in a minute here we will see that each of us is part of helping one another hold fast to this by reminding each other of our baptism and confession of faith. We can in fact hold fast to this confession without wavering because He who promised is faithful. This is important to understand in two ways: first in that Jesus has made the same confession and we know that Jesus cannot lie, second is that Jesus has promised that those who are adopted into the family of God will be held fast by His intercessory prayer. By this I mean to say that if Jesus has promised to be your anchor within the veil, bound to you by the seal of the Holy Spirit, you will not waver because He is faithful, Amen? One more thing before we move onto the final “Let us” statement, I want to look at this word Hope. This was one of my favorite moments in my studies, 1 Peter 1:3-5 says this: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. That brothers and sisters, is real hope, not a dead hope in the sacrifice of bulls and goats but a living hope in our living Savior Jesus. Oh, Father, thank you for the fullness of your word that reveals the truth over and over again in such amazing ways.
And so here we are, the third “Let us” statement, Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. A major contention during the Protestant Reformation centered around salvation and whether it was by faith alone or faith plus works. The reformers argued that Jesus and the Apostles clearly taught that our salvation was not by works at all, we can point Ephesians 2:8-9 for a very clear proof of this, For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. That being said every reformer would also have said that love and good deeds are a hallmark of a Christian we can simply look at 1 John 3:16-18 to see this, We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. The reality is that by the example of Jesus and by the Holy Spirit in us we are spirited onto love and good deeds. These verses take it a step further and remind us that it is by our assembling together, that we encourage one another in this way. Regularly gathering together to worship our Lord and serve our community is one of what is called the means of grace. If we are as the verse says forsaking our own assembling together we are not able to encourage one another. We are not able to rejoice together in drawing near to God. We are not able to remind each other to hold fast to our confession of faith when we feel far from God. Our assembling together is by no means to be seen as an obligation, but rather as a treasure to be richly guarded. Our assembling together is by no means something that saves us, but rather a precious gift that our Father has given us. Let us seek to find more and more ways to gather together so that we may continually encourage each other, for as the verse ends, do this all the more as you see the day drawing near. Our world is moving closer and closer to the time of His return, we will need the encouragement of the Holy Spirit and each other more and more as that time draws near.
Prayer: Father God, we thank you for your word and the confidence, assurance, and hope in You that is built within us as we worship together around it. We thank You also as we are encouraged to draw near to You, in full assurance of faith. And even now as we gather together to remember your sacrifice on the cross that made a way for us to know You, encourage us and show us how to encourage each other in You.
In Jesus' name we pray Amen.
As we prepare our hearts and minds to commune together with the Lord, I encourage you to take this time to examine ourselves and repent of any sin the Holy Spirit brings to mind.
Lord, we thank you that you have prepared our hearts to remember your sacrifice for us and participate in this which you ordained. We read from 1 Corinthians chapter 11 The Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” Let us pray, Lord Jesus, we thank You for Your body freely broken to inaugurate a new and living way, and now resurrected in glory. In your name Amen. Let us eat the bread together.
In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” Let us pray, Lord Jesus, we thank You for Your blood freely poured out for the remission of our sins, the blood by which we can have confidence to enter the holy place. In Your name we pray, Amen. Let us drink together.