Friday, August 12, 2011

Hebrews 9 - Idolotry and Jesus Our High Priest

Hello Project Ezra! This week’s reading is a portion of Hebrews chapter 9, and deals with Christ as our High Priest. This chapter, and indeed a good portion of the book of Hebrews, deals with Christ’s priesthood, and the fulfillment of the imagery found in the Old Testament sacrificial system in the person and work of Jesus Christ in the New Testament. The Old Testament priests entered into what this chapter says was a copy of the true temple in heaven, and offered sacrifices that were only shadows of the sacrifice to come. While those sacrifices, offered in obedience, acted as a covering for sin temporarily, Jesus entered the true Holy of Holies, and His payment was permanent. The perfect sacrifice was made, and then He sat down at God’s right hand, with the ultimate sacrifice for sin complete, and sufficient for all. We need to make it clear when sharing the gospel that salvation is not something we do with a little help from God. It is ALL a work of God, and the work was completed 2000 years ago. And although the sacrifices in the temple have ceased, our High Priest still lives, and intercedes for us through eternity. I truly do love the book of Hebrews!

I also focused the use of the law a little differently this time. While I generally go through several of the 10 Commandments to bring conviction of sin, this time I focused specifically on the nature of our worship of God, and on the sin of idolatry. This is due partly to the theme of the chapter, and partly to the fact that idolatry is the foundation on which other sins are built. It is, as a wise man once said, the darling sin of humanity. If we have a false view of God, or are worshiping another god, idolatry allows us to justify our actions to ourselves and smother our guilt temporarily, while still having the appearance of religiosity and righteousness. So, this week we will focus specifically on a right view of God, and who He is, who Christ is and what He accomplished in the atonement.

As a side note, I would encourage you to ask yourself this; if someone were to challenge you as to why they should believe in the God of the Bible rather than some other god, what would you say? If you spend any amount of time sharing your faith and have not been asked this question yet, trust me, you will be. And the thought process of considering how you would explain this is an excellent exercise. I could cite many evidences for the truth of the Bible that I believe are compelling, but have been working on and thinking about how to refine my own approach. I want to make sure I am presenting my reasons for belief in God not only, or even primarily, in light of apologetic or philosophical evidence, but also taking seriously the Biblical statements that tell us all men know in their hearts of God’s existence, and are suppressing that truth. It can be a tough balance to strike, but I challenge you to give it serious thought and prayer.

I pray this outline is a blessing.


INTRODUCTION – Introduce yourself, and let people know the group that you are part of, or that you are part of Project Ezra. Give people an idea why you are there.

Read Hebrews 9:11-28

In this passage, Jesus is called our High Priest, our mediator with God. But what does that mean, and why does it matter to you?

Most of us believe some kind of god, or gods, exist. And in religion, priests are the mediators, those who bridge the gap between these “gods” and men.

But the first question we need to ask when we talk about how to get right with the eternal, is to discover if something is wrong. Is mankind at enmity with God, and if so, why?

The Bible says there is one true, creator God, and He says that indeed there is something wrong. That something is what the Bible calls sin.

To sin means to miss the mark. A sin is a moral crime, a crime against God’s law. It is an act of rebellion you take against your creator.

God says in His word that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Rom 3:23) We are all sinners, myself included.

The Bible says God’s law is written on our hearts, and that our consciences bear witness to it (Rom 2:15). If this is true, then you have sinned, and your know it! Is this is true, then we are without excuse.

So look into God’s law, which tells us what sin is, with a tender conscience. See how you compare with God’s perfect, holy standard.

Look at your worship. Even if you claim no religious affiliation, you worship something. Do you worship as God has declared you should?

If you are giving your worship to a God other than the God of the Bible, you are in rebellion against Him, and are guilty before Him. There is only one God, and He is a jealous God. (Ex 20:5)

In fact, if you worship a false God of a false religion, you are not just making a mistake and getting the details wrong. The Bible says you are actually offering your worship to demons. (1 Cor 10:20)

If you believe in God in a general sense, but avoid dealing with the claims of any particular faith, then you are still believing in an idol. You are assuming that whatever god exists doesn’t care about your specific beliefs and doesn’t care how He is worshiped, and the Bible says something very different.

Even if you claim belief in no god, you will still idolize something. We were created to worship, and everyone finds something to devote themselves to. It may be money, it may be power, it may be knowledge, it may be sexual gratification, or it may the supposed freedom to act as you choose. Making any of these things your god, the object of your affection, is sin, and God will hold you accountable.

You may even claim to believe in the God of the Bible. But if you pick and choose the things in the Bible that you want to believe, and create a god in your mind, one that smiles at your sin and will accept everyone regardless of their belief, than that god can not save you. He can not save anyone, because he doesn’t exist.

God takes sin and rebellion seriously. God is a just judge, who will see that all sin is punished completely. He is holy and perfect, and thus will not allow evil in His presence. His word says that His eyes are too pure to even look on evil.

Those who live and die in their rebellion against God will spend eternity paying for their sins, their moral crimes against Him.

God says that payment will be made in Hell, a place of eternal torment. Revelation 21 describes it as a lake that burns with fire and sulfur.

You may be offended by the idea of hell, and eternal punishment, and think I’m trying to make people feel guilty.

My purpose is not to be offensive, but yes, I want to help you see your guilt before God. Hell is a real place, and I don’t want any of you to go there.

But there is good news! God provided a perfect High Priest, a perfect mediator, to make us right with Him

The Bible says that there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ. And it says that God demonstrated His love in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

God will not allow any evil to go unpunished. God’s word says without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins. Only through the shedding of blood can we be purified from our sin.

God so loved the world that He sent His only son, Jesus Christ, who was made the perfect sacrifice for sin, who shed His blood on our behalf.

Jesus Christ shed His own blood on the cross, and bore the anger and wrath of the Father, so that we could be forgiven. Isaiah 53 says He bore our iniquity, and by His stripes we are healed.

This chapter says the blood of Christ, offered through the Spirit to God, without blemish, purifies our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. Any good works you do in hopes of being made right with God are dead. The full price has already been paid by Jesus Christ. He is our perfect High Priest, because only He could provide the perfect sacrifice.

The debt is paid in Jesus Christ and in Him along. So do as Jesus Christ Himself said. Repent, and believe the gospel, the good news that Jesus died to make us right with God.

Turn from your sin, and trust in Christ completely. Only He paid the price for sin, only through Him can you be made right with God. Only He can act as our mediator. So turn from your sin, put the full weight of your trust on Him, and you will be saved.

The Bible also says Jesus will appear a second time to save those who area eagerly waiting for Him. Someday I will be in heaven with God. I didn’t earn it, and I don’t deserve it. But because I have repented of my sins and put my trust in Christ alone, I will be in heaven. And when I get there, I pray that I see all of you there as well.

Please, while God has graciously given you time, turn from your sin and idolatry and turn to the one God that can save you!

Stop trusting in yourself, and your own works. No dead works can help you get right with God, and no repeated sacrifices are needed. Turn to our perfect High Priest, trust in His perfect sacrifice, and be saved!

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