Rev. Marlin D. Harris, Pastor

Persevering Through Pressure

Religion vs. Relationship

Part 12 -- 8/15/05


We are coming to the end of the Book of Hebrews; we are nearing the end and we are in chapter 10.  We will spend just a little bit of time in chapters 11 and 12 and then we will close in chapter 13.  Then our time in the Book of Hebrews will have been over but allow me to just share with you that it has been a wonderful journey and passage through this book. 

We have come tonight to the close of the second portion of our teaching through the Book of Hebrews and that is the portion that deals with religion vs. relationship.  We started that portion of teaching in chapter 7 and I do have to admit that from chapters 7 through 10, there has been quite a bit of redundancy and quite a bit of repetition because the writer of the book is driving home basically one primary point in that particular segment of the book, chapters 7 through 10, and heís driving home the singular point that Jesus Christ is a so much better sacrifice, or He offers to us a better covenant than the old covenant.  That is the central theme throughout each of those chapters and it speaks of all of the trappings of the old covenant and contrasts those trappings of the old covenant with the reality of Jesus Christ, and the trappings of the sacrifices, the trappings of the priesthood, the trappings of the sanctuary, the tabernacle and all of those other antics that are related to the old covenant, the writer of Hebrews goes through extra pain to demonstrate that that is merely a shadow of the substance or a shadow of the reality, I guess I should say, of what Jesus is and who Jesus is to us.

So the writer spends his time from 7 through 10 dealing with the covenant.  We come now to the end of chapter 10 which is the end of our time in the second portion dealing with religion, religious systems, religious orders vs. a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, and I have entitled this final portion of religion vs. relationship, ďDonít go backĒ or rather ďThe Final Warning Ė Donít Go Back!Ē.  This is the last warning that the writer of Hebrews gives to the church or to the people that heís writing to and he tells them ďDo not go backĒ.  Now he demonstrates this desire to not go back in three different segments at this final portion.  So if you would please, if you would mark in your Bibles or your notes Ė I want you to make certain that you understand these three segments, these three breakdowns of this final portion of chapter 10. 

The first segment is verses 19-25.  In that segment he says ďDonít go back because of what Christ has done for us.  Donít go back because of what Christ has done for us ď ĖThen in verses 26 through 31 he says ďDonít go back because there is no other way to avoid Godís judgment Donít go back because there is no other way to avoid the judgment of God, and then in verses 32 through 39 he says ďDonít go back because Godís original promise still remains trueĒ.  Iíll repeat them again.  Verses 19-25, the writer is telling us ďDo not go back, donít leave the faith, donít leave your convictions, donít leave your profession of Christ because of what Christ has done for you; donít go back because He has done too much for youĒ.  The second thing he tells us is in verses 26-31, the writer says ďDonít go back because if you do there is no other way to avoid Godís judgment.  If you leave Christ you have no other way to avoid the judgment of God.  Thirdly he says ďDonít go back because Godís original promise still remains true. 

Alright class are we together.  Lets look at the first one here, donít go back because of what Christ has already done for you.  In verse 19 he tells us Having therefore brethren boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus by a new and living way which he has consecrated for us through the veil, that is to say His flesh, and having a high priest over the house of God.  Now verses 19, 20 and 21 are signified by two particular indicatives[1] and an indicative is a grammatical term that simply means it is reason for something.  It indicates a reason for something else.  So an indicative form of a particular writing or an indicative form of a sentence or verb is a verb that points to a greater reason or points to another reason or points to some other aspect that explains the verb.  Itís sort of utilizing the verb as its own modifier and there are two indicative cases within this first three verses.  The first indicative case, which is something that points to something else, a greater reason, it says ďhavingĒ therefore brethren Ė the word ďhavingĒ thereforeĒ is in the indicative case.  It says that there is a reason why we shouldnít go back and we shouldnít go back because we have boldness to enter into the holiest by the Blood of Jesus.  So it indicates we shouldnít go back because we have boldness to enter into the holiest by the Blood of Jesus.  The first indicative form of this particular verse is the word ďhavingĒ Ė both of those are indicated by the word having.  Verse 21 again says ďAnd, having a high priest over the house of GodĒ, which means we shouldnít do something because we have.  The indicative case of having in this 21st verse points to the fact that we donít need to go back because we have a great high priest who sits over Godís house.

Two reasons he mentions why we should not go back Ė the first one is because we have access into what he calls ďthe holiestĒ.  The holiest simply means it is the holiest portion of Godís house.  Now remember we went through the details about how the earthly tabernacle was only an intimation of the spiritual tabernacle or that on earth was an intimation of that which is in heaven, that earth is a shadow of that which is in heaven.  We see an earth which God allows us to see naturally so we can understand spiritual truths and principles of how God works in heaven.  He says the holiest.  There are three sections to the temple.  There is the first section which is the outer court; the second section which is the inner court and then there is that last section which is the holiest of all or the holy place, the most holy place.  He says ďwe have access into the most holy place where the Jews believed that was the seat where God sits.  It was the dwelling place of God.  They believed it was Godís dwelling place on earth because it foreshadowed or pointed to the spiritual reality of Godís dwelling place in heaven, and since they could not go to Godís dwelling place in heaven, in order for them to understand it, God allowed them to paint a picture of it on earth by submitting themselves to the access toward the holiest of all which is the most holy place in the tabernacle and only the high priest could go there once a year.

He says ďWe all now, all of us, have access to God in that holiest of places.  That God has allowed us to come in to have fellowship with Him, to come near Him, to approach Him, because of the Scripture says here, ďBy the blood of JesusĒ.  So the Blood of Jesus has paid the price for us to come to God with boldness.  You see in the verse 19 it says ďHaving therefore brethren boldnessĒ.  We can come to God boldly even into the holiest place, which is the most holy place to the very Throne room of God because of the Blood of Jesus Christ.  Now before we couldnít come to that place, we could not go there.  No man could approach God because if he approached God, God would have to judge his sin so they would approach God through the blood of animals and sacrifices to demonstrate that they know they canít come to God because of their sin.  Sin has to be atoned for.  It says ďsin has been atoned for by the Blood of Jesus Christ which now allows a man to come to God with boldness, without fear, with confidence, with full assurance he can come before God. 

The image that was in my mind as I was preparing this lesson is the image of the cowardly lion as heís approaching the Wizard of Oz, and as heís approaching the hallway leading to the Wizard of Oz heís holding his tail in his hand as his little blanket or security and heís afraid and saying ďI donít want to go there, thatís okay you all go ahead, I donít really want to goĒ because the lion didnít have boldness, he didnít have courage, he felt that there was something within him that would cause the wizard to reject him, and rather than receiving a blessing from the wizard he would in turn get wrath from the wizard because there was something in the lion that was deficient so he believed.

Many of us approach God the same way.  We donít have a confident approach toward God.  We even pray with a certain sense of fear or bashfulness or certain sense of standing back from God Ė aloofness if you would.  We donít pursue hard after knowing God and the heart of God and there are many reasons for that.  I know people who donít pray as they ought because they have feelings of guilt and they donít think that God really wants to hear from somebody like them.  After all theyíve done, after all the things they have been involved in, why would God want to hear from me and the list goes on and on.  If its not guilt then its an awareness of sin; if its not an awareness of sin itís the fact that Iím man and Heís God and Heís a big God and Iím a little man and all these other kind of issues that stop us from coming toward God.  None of those issues are untrue.  God is a great God and we are insignificant on the earth in comparison to who God is, we are nothing absolutely.  But because of the precious Blood of Jesus Christ we can come with our insignificant selves, with our small sinful selves, we can come to God with boldness because we come on the sacrifice of another.  Then it mentions even that the road to God has been opened up because of Christ Ė in the next verse it says ďby a new and a living wayĒ, by a new way and a living way.  Now we come to him by the Blood of Jesus Christ, by a new way and a living way which Christ has consecrated for us through the veil, that is to say through His flesh.

Hereís the issue.  The way that leads to God is now a new way and itís a living way.  Well new we are cool with because the old way is what we have been trying to dispel in the past four chapters Ė talking about the old way of the priests, the old way of the sacrifices, the old way of religion Ė thatís how they used to try and get toward God and it never worked; it wasnít good enough, was insufficient.  Now we have a new way and this new way comes through Jesus Christ by His blood Ė weíre all fine with that.  But this living way is another issue.  The old way was not only old but it was dead.  It was a dead way; it was based upon dead sacrifices of dead animals of a dead animalís blood by a priest who was on his way to die as well but everything about our approach to God now is about life.  Itís about living.  Our priest is alive.  The blood of our priest is the blood of a living priest, a living sacrifice.  As a matter of fact, whenever we offer ourselves to God he says because youíve got so much of the life of Christ in you, donít you try to offer yourself to God as a dead sacrifice.  You become a living sacrifice Ė offer your bodies a living sacrifice unto God.  Thatís the living way, it is the life of Christ, it is through the livingness of Jesus that we come toward and approach God.  By a new and a living way which He has made available, consecrated, made special, set apart for us, through the veil Ė that is to say his flesh

The writer here is using imagery words and he is demonstrating that the way you get in the earthly tabernacle to the ark of the covenant, which is the dwelling place of God, is through a veil Ė a little curtain, that is in between one portion of the tabernacle and the holiest portion of the tabernacle.  He says ďwe now can come through that curtain because the curtain was rent in two and all of you know that.  You donít need me to go back through that right.  You know when Christ died on the cross the veil in the temple was rent in two and it was torn from top to bottom the Bible says.  Meaning that God tore it, man couldíve Ė he says that same veil which was torn from top to bottom in the temple, he says that veil is the flesh of Jesus Christ.  So as his flesh was being crucified so the barrier, the separation between God and man was also being null and void, done away with, as His flesh was pierced so the barrier was pierced. 

As a matter of fact we could not have access to God until His flesh was pierced.  Before His flesh was pierced there was a separation between man and God, and the separation between man and God is the fact that Jesus Christ is holy and God only accepts the holiness of His son and because we are not holy, the unholiness of man separates him from the holiness of God and the only way the unholiness of man can ever get to the holiness of God is if he comes through the holiness of Jesus because God only accepts holiness and this is the veil of His flesh. 

Now interesting enough in verse 19 and 20 you have two aspects mentioned here.  Aspect No. 1 is by His blood.  Aspect No. 2 is through his flesh.  By His blood and through His flesh sounds like what guys ďCommunion -- the Lordís supper, that which we takeĒ.  He says if you donít drink my blood and eat my flesh you have no part with me.  The Blood of Jesus and the flesh of Jesus is what we take at the Lordís supper.  In both of those elements of the Lordís Supper, they are mentioned in verses 19 and 20 and both elements, blood and flesh which we take as bread and wine, because it is the symbol of blood and flesh, and this blood and flesh without it no man can come to God.  So when we take the Lordís supper understand we are taking the symbol through which we come to God.  This is why you cannot take it lightly, you cannot take it with sins in your life that you have not confessed before your God, you cannot take it not discerning the Lordís body, which means not being able to judge that this is the Lordís body, because if you take it with that type of frivolity, that type of casualness, what you do is you eat and drink damnation to yourself because you do something Ė Iím going to show you when we get a little bit further down in the text.

You must understand that it is the blood of Christ and the flesh of Christ through which we have access to God.  The next thing he says is:  That we have a high priest over the house of God.  The first thing is we have boldness to come before God into the holiest of all because of Christís blood and His flesh.  Secondly we have a high priest over the house Ė this means we have a constant advocate who is constantly sitting in the house of God over it, Heís on the throne, and He advocates on our behalf.  So therefore his blood covers all of my sin.  His blood covers the sin nature that I have and his advocacy covers the sin instances that I get involved in.  So as I sin everyday, which you do and I do, we all sin everyday, the Blood of Jesus Christ covers the fact that I have a sin nature and it is covered before God.  He does not see that sin nature and the advocacy of Jesus Christ is such that He reminds (and Iím using remind only in an anthropomorphic[2] understanding and an anthropomorphic idea) that he reminds God that the sins that he/she has done by instances throughout his life have all been covered by My blood and I serve as his eternal lawyer before Your Throne.

I remember whenever I used to get a lot of tickets because I couldnít drive and I would always go to court by myself.  I just showed up, Iím going to pay the fine, I was going to plead guilty.  But I noticed something over a period of time I kept seeing folks at court with their lawyer.  Then there was one time I saw a fellow who wasnít even at court, his lawyer was there in his place and get this Ė he was speeding faster than I was speeding, in a speed zone lower than mine.  I pleaded guilty and had to pay full price, some $200+.  His lawyer pleaded guilty for the man, the lawyer said ďheís guiltyĒ, I said ďIím guiltyĒ.  I paid $200+; this man paid something like $25, $30.  Wait a minute, Iím guilty, heís guilty, he had a lawyer.  He had somebody who was representing him.  Whenever we stand before God we have a lawyer and our lawyer is in heaven right now representing us.  Now Jesus is not going to plead innocent, you are guilty, you did sin, you were born in sin, shapen in iniquity, you sin, I sin, we all sin right.  Heís going to plead guilty but all charges are dropped because His blood has secured the payment for all of our sin  He says because of these two facts, these two facts indicate for us that we should not go back, we should not neglect God, we should not turn our backs on this great sacrifice.  Look at what Christ has done for us.  No. 1, He gave us open access to God and No. 2 He is our eternal advocate before God on our behalf.  I get there by His blood, I get there by His flesh and He stands there as my priest who is the go between between me and God.  Thatís why I can come boldly before His throne.  Everybody understand that.

Now it says ďin light of the fact that you are able to come boldly to Him, in light of the fact that you are able to have a priest who stands forever over the house of God, in light of this fact donít go back but rather you ought to do some things as opposite of going back.  He mentions three things we ought to do.  They are found in verses 22, 23 and 24 and they all begin with the words ďLet usĒ.  First thing he says.  Since Christ has done all this stuff for us, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, let us draw near to God since He has done all this for us Ė lets go near to God.  He says ďand when you come near to Him, have fellowship with God, have relationship with God in full assurance of faith, with a true heart.  True heart is an honest heart in sincerity.  That whenever you stand before God you stand before God with a sincere heart.  You donít come before God trying to fake it.  Trying to make God think that you are better than you really are, that everything is really cool with you.  No true Christian has any reason to lie to God, as if your lying to God would make you any better in His sight.  We are filthy in the eyes of God.  We are dirty rags in the eyes of God except for the Blood of Jesus which has covered our sin, which means we cannot look any better to God than the Blood of Jesus makes us. 

If a true believer lies to God, Iím okay, Iím alright, you know I couldnít help myself, well you know the Lord knows my heart Ė if any true believer is trying to water down his sin or trying to make himself look better than he is, he doesnít understand two things:  Thing No. 1 is he doesnít understand the total depravity of man; the fact that he is completely depraved Ė that means messed up, tore up from the floor up, he is depraved Ė there is none good in him Ė nothing good in him at all.  The Bible says the heart of man is deceitfully wicked, who can know it.  Are you hearing what Iím saying.  I do not promote the natural goodness of man, no way.  The natural badness of man.  We are good because any spark of goodness that we have is because of the common grace that God has given to all men so that Godís grace might lead men to greater light of His favor.  Thatís the only reason why we have any goodness in us at all.  Man when left to himself without the Grace of God will utterly destroy himself and this is not a history lesson so I canít go through all of the different wars and conflicts throughout history but from the earliest instance of man until this very present moment, there have been wars and fighting and killings and murdering and every kind of iniquity and sin between man and man, between community and community, between tribe and tribe, between nation and nation, country and country, one side of the world against the other side of the world Ė if left to ourselves we will self destruct. 

Right now today your President, your President has a button he can push and if he pushes that button and somebody else pushes their button, and Europe pushes their button, we could destroy the whole world with three men on a button.  We create weapons to mass destruct.  You know left to ourselves we will self destruct, are you hearing what Iím saying.  The second thing that a person who has to make himself look good in the eyes of God that he doesnít understand is the full sufficiency of Jesusí blood.  He has no idea that Jesusí blood and His blood  alone gives sufficiency for all of my sins.  What good could I convince God that I have done that would mean more to God than the Blood of Jesus.  I paid my tithes Lord.  I treated everybody right.  God Iím a good person deep down within.  Well you know Iíve got a good heart.  I donít care what good adjectives you can give to yourself, there is nothing you and me could ever do that would be greater to God than the blood of His son.  So why fake it when you come to Him.  Why lie when you come to Him.  Why try to paint a better picture of yourself when Ė why not come to Him and say ďGod I messed up.  I did wrong.  You know I did wrong.  Thank you for the Blood of Jesus Christ.  You said if I confess my sins You are faithful and just to forgive me of them and cleanse me from all unrighteousness.  Be real with Him.  Come to Him because you have an open door but when you come draw near with a true heart Ė with a true heart. 

22Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith,

Because I know Ė see the word ďhavingĒ Ė hereís our indicative tense again Ė

having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.  Now the having of the hearts being sprinkled and the having of the bodies being washed represent what is considered to be a one time act that continues throughout all time.  Itís a one time act that continues throughout all time.  So when it says having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience it means that at one time God sprinkled my heart from an evil conscience.  Conscience is awareness whereby my heart is aware of its evil but the blood of Christ sprinkled the awareness of the evil from my heart.  Whereby my heart being evil before the blood of Jesus, when the blood of Jesus sprinkled my heart, the consciousness, the awareness of the evilness of my heart was sprinkled away Ė isnít that some good news.  Hereís the issue.  Without the Blood of Jesus Iím doomed.  Iím lost.  I have a continual reminder that Iím a sinner, Iím a sinner, Iím a sinner Ė Iím conscious of the fact that my heart is evil without the Blood of Jesus.  With the Blood of Jesus I have the Holy Spirit living on the inside of me.  Now that the Spirit of God lives on the inside of me, He has cleansed my heart whereby the inner part of me, the inner part of man, who I am at the core of my being, has been changed.  You know what that is called?  Guess what that is called?  It is called ďRegenerationĒ. 

Now hereís the issue.  Pastor does that mean that we are okay now.  Well part of you is.  Your inward man is okay because it has been re-gened.  It has been regenerated by the Holy Spirit but your outward man is dying everyday.  Your inward man is your spirit man and your outward man is your flesh and though your spirit man is renewed, your outward man is degenerating every single day.  The only way I am ever going to be okay on both halves of the totem pole is when I let go of this outward man, let him go on ahead and die Ė my inward man goes up to God and I trust God that He will hook the two up whenever He comes back again.  Are you hearing what Iím saying.

So he says here:  having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.  Now hereís the issue Ė how many of you guys Ė thatís a bad question.  All of you guys had a bath this morning, shower, bath Ė you had something didnít you Ė wash off [laughter].  You did something; we pray that you did.  Now how many of you have to do that again tonight?  Tomorrow?  Tomorrow night?  Right, because my body keeps getting dirty.  Now my heart is sprinkled from an evil conscience Ė thereís no consciousness but my body keeps getting dirty.  I have to continually die to the flesh, everyday I have to die to the flesh.  Hereís the issue.  Sanctification is a one time act that happens and continues throughout all of time.  My heart is sprinkled once and forever, my body is washed once and forever but my body keeps getting dirty and the water never runs out.  So I can sin 50 million times between now and 192 when Iím going to die, and there is enough water, enough spirit, to wash me all 50 million times.  It doesnít matter how much I sin from now, my body will always have enough water to wash it.  The Holy Spirit will never get tired of washing Marlin because he keeps on getting dirty.  I believe God expects me to get dirty because I live in an earthly plain, I live in the flesh, in this world Ė He expects me to get dirty and He knows I already paid the price for his heart to be cleansed and Iíve already produced enough water to wash him, he canít sin more than I have water to wash him.  Are you getting it.  He says so in light of all that, you ought to come near to God.  The second things he says here in verse 23, Let us, the second ďLet usĒ

23Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)

He says that you ought to take advantage of what Christ has done for you and in doing so you ought to come near to God, and in doing so you ought to hold on to your faith.  Now notice he says hold fast your profession.  Do you see the word is not confession, it is profession.  Are you getting what Iím saying.  Confession is from both of its etymological experiences, both Greek and Latin, but from its Greek it means ďhomologiaĒ (pronounced ho-mo-lo-gē'-š]  Ė to say the same thing that God says.  From Latin, confess Ė con means with Ė to do with.  Fess is the verbal expression.  It means to say the same thing that God says and to say it with God.  There is a harmony in confession that my heart confesses what the heart of God has declared.  As I confess I harmonize my heart with God Ėdo you see that.  So whenever I get saved I believe in my  heart and I confess what my heart believes with my mouth.  Its not the verbal saying it that makes me saved; it is the fact that Iím saying what my heart has already harmonized with God.  Iím a sinner, I need a savior, He is a savior, I accept him as my savior, save me of my sin, come into my heart, be my Lord forever.  Whenever I harmonize that with God I confess Ė are you hearing me.  That saves me Ė harmonizing my heart with God.

Now profess doesnít save me.  Pro means ďbeforeĒ.  This means I am saying it before.  My profession is ďI donít know if its real, I donít know if its right, I donít know if you really mean it, all I know is what you said.  God sees your confession, I see your profession.  If your profession ever changes I can safely assume your confession wasnít real.  I canít see your confession Ė God sees your confession.  All I see is your profession.  If ever there comes a time when your profession changes then I have to assume your confession wasnít genuine.  He says ďHey guys please whatever you do donít break my heart after all this preaching Iíve done, after all of this writing Iíve done, after all of this establishing of churches Iíve done, donít break my heart by changing your profession.  Say today what you said yesterday, and say tomorrow what you said today and donít change your profession because if you change your profession then Iím going to have to assume your confession wasnít genuine because a profession never saves anybody. 

I know folks who profess to be saved, profess to be a Christian.  AS a matter of fact I have a man in my family, heís in my family right now, he professes to be both a Christian and a Muslim.  He said you know ďI follow Allah and Iím a Muslim but that doesnít mean that Jesus didnít die for my sinsĒ.  I said ďSo you a Christian?Ē  Yes.  And you a Muslim?  ďYesĒ  You profess to be both?  ďYesĒ.  If profession is all it takes to save you that fellow, I donít know what he is.  Profession doesnít save anybody.  Confession does.  Either his heart has combined and synergized with Godís heart or it hasnít.  One or the other.  He says your outward verbal speaking of it is the only way that Iím going to know that you still believe it.  So please whatever you do hold fast to it.

Now there are those who love to say that that hold fast means you can lose your faith.  No, you canít lose your faith.  You can change your profession, but you canít change your confession.  He said

23Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)

And the last ďlet usĒ

24And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:

He says in light of the fact that Christ has done all of this for us let us quickly draw near to God, take advantage of it.  Let us not change our profession which is the only thing that is the barometer for our confession and let us always consider others in the body, and make certain that we do everything we can so that our brother and our sister can hold fast and draw near to God too.  There is a bonding and a uniting in the body of Christ because of what Jesus has done for us.  Iím teaching in 1 Corinthians (the first and third service) about how there is schisms and divisions and some say Iím of Paul, and Iím of Apollos, and so on and so forth.  Whenever you understand what Jesus has done for you, how can you be divided?  I mean we can disagree on non-essentials.  I mean do you sprinkle, do you dip, those are nonessentials, but when it comes down to the essentials of our faith we ought to have harmony, unity, oneness.  He says consider one another and move them toward love and toward good works.  That means hold them accountable in the areas of love and good works.  This means motivate your brother to love and motivate your brother to do good works. 

I have to watch the way I live my life in front of you because I want to motivate you toward love, toward God and I want to motivate you toward good works.  If Iím sloppy in the way I live it messes up the works you do because you see my evil works and makes you think that you can do evil works as well.  Weíve got to watch how we live because our own brothers are looking at us. 

25Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together

Donít forsake means to quit.  He says donít quit coming together. as the manner of some is;

The word ďmannerĒ is the word for tradition or customs.  He says there are some people who have developed a custom of not coming together.  Now catch this.  He says in light of the fact of all that Jesus has done for you, you ought to move your brother and sister toward love and good works and as often as you possibly can, you ought to come together and not forsake doing so.  Come together.  There are people who say ďI donít need church.  I donít need to have a churchĒ.  Okay, according to the Scriptures you are not to forsake it.  ďWell what does church have to do with my salvation?  According to the Scriptures in light of the fact of all that Jesus has done for us we ought to draw near to God, hold fast what we say and not change and we ought to consider one another and not forsake coming together.  Therefore church to me is tied to the fact that Iím saved.  No church does not save me.  No, and church doesnít keep me saved.  Jesus does both of those.  But in light of the fact of what He has done for me, it ought to motivate me to go to church. 

I know people who go to church but it ainít a church.  Itís either not a church because the doctrine ainít right, because itís a club mentality, and its based on cliques and clubs, it doesnít do a ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ.  I mean if itís the body of Christ it ought to be His hands, His eyes, His ears, His feet and so on and so forth.  So for all intents and purposes it is not a Biblical church, its just a place where folks come together.  They do more fighting there, they do more bickering there, more arguing there, more contentions and strife there, more ego tripping there and ego stroking, and competition, or they do more sensationalism and entertainment and having fun; so itís not a church. 

If he said donít forsake the assembling of yourselves together and he connects that to the fact that you ought to do it since you are saved, people who donít do it and go to the wrong places and enjoy it and love it and stay there and have no desire to change and have no desire to find a better church.  There should be a sense of hurt when you spend time without the fellowship of other believers.  I mean you should not be able to come to ďchurchĒ ďeverydayĒ or every week, after week, after week, and you never see no believers, and you just as happy as you can be.  I was talking to a young lady once who comes to our church and she actually comes to Bible study (I hope she is not here tonight) and one of the reasons why she comes to our Bible study is because she says ďIím not getting fed at my church.  Iím not being ministered to at my churchĒ so I wanted to find out whatís going on and why you are not being ministered to at your church.  So she was going through all of these heresies, heresy here, heresy there, non truth, non truth and I was like ďWowĒ and I almost wanted to say ďWell when are you going to joinĒ, but I found myself saying ďWell what are you going to do?Ē  She said ďWell Iím going to come here on Tuesday and go there on Sundays.  And I said there is something in her that wants to be in a genuine community of faith but there is something else in her that wants to be in a genuine community of mess.  At some point sheís got to reconcile those two things within her.  He said donít forsake the assembling of yourselves together

but exhorting one another: encourage one another, uplift one another and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

The closer we get to the rapture the more we should encourage, exhort and build up one another.  Thatís what service is all about.  What Iím doing here now is teaching so that I might exhort, edify and build you up.  What you do whenever you are in the hallways and what not as you hug, you kiss, you make certain that you love on your brother and sister because you are building them up.  I believe the best way to have this done is a way that we are starting to do and that is through small group environments, in a small group setting, whether its ministry or Sunday school class or a small group itself Ė that you get together with other believers and you open the Word of God Ė you talk about issues, you talk about life, you talk about problems, cares and concerns, and find out what God has to say, you get peer to peer counseling, and peer to peer support, because it exhorts one another.  It builds one another up.  Nobody can be a believer and have no contact with other believers and be satisfied.  It cannot happen. 

Alright, lets look at the second one here as we move along.  The second one is donít go back because if you do there is no other way to avoid Godís righteous wrath, to avoid Godís judgment because if you do there is no other way to avoid Godís judgment.  Now it starts off in verse 26 and 27 with some issues that make us frown. 

26For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,

27But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.

Strong words isnít it.  For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,

Here is what has been said about that verse.  Itís been said ďThat pastor, itís just as clear as day that if you sin and you sin of your own choice, willfully, there is no more sacrifice for sin, that means after you get the knowledge of the truth and you do one more sin after that, he says there is no more sacrifice for you to ever get saved again.  And Iím like boy, in one verse he invalidates the whole of Christian writ in one verse; that canít be what it means because the Scriptures say too many times and in too many places that such a thing is not possible.  As a matter of fact if salvation was only as good as one more sin what kind of salvation is it?.  And Iím sorry guys, Iím going to live until Iím 192.  You mean I ainít got but one more sin between now and then.  No thatís not what it means.

Iíve heard others say this.  That this is again a hypothetical situation; that heís not saying that you canít be forgiven if you do one more sin.  Heís saying hypothetically that you couldnít . . .  I said ďYou know what, this is not hypothetical, this does not mean that you canít be forgiven, lets read it to find out what it really does meanĒ? 

For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,

Either the animals blood or the blood of Jesus and if the animalís blood doesnít do it, and it doesnít then the only other option you have is the Blood of Jesus and here in verse 26 he is saying if you reject the Blood of Jesus we ainít got nothing else we can offer you.  There is no other sacrifice, thereís nothing more we can give you.  There remains nothing.  I mean itís not the blood of the animal, the Blood of Jesus and the blood of Marlin.  Itís the blood of the animal or the Blood of Jesus and if the blood of the animal doesnít work and he spent four chapters telling us it doesnít work, then your last resort is the Blood of Jesus. 

Now lets go back up.  For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth,

First there are a couple of words we have to understand.  One is the word ďreceivedĒ.  Received, we would like to believe it means to receive it in my heart, in my spirit, so that I am changed by it.  Thatís reading too much into it.  Receiving it simply means hearing it and understanding it.  Jesus gave analogies, parables in Matthew 13, the parable of the sower and He gave three instances where people both heard and received the word.  The fowls come and steal the word that is sown in their heart.  It says these receive it quickly with joy but because they have no root they wither away.  Then it says these receive it but the thorns choke it out, so its possible to receive the word but not be saved by the word.  Received means to hear and understand it.  Now catch this.  He says for those of you Hebrews who have received, youíve heard and youíve understood the truth of Jesus Christ but you choose not to accept the truth of Jesus Christ, he says there ainít nothing else we can offer you. 

He says if we sin willfully Ė thatís the second word I need for you to get Ė the word sin Ė if we sin willfully.  Well now let me ask you a question.  Isnít all sin willful?  Okay, there are ignorant sins and sins that I do that I didnít know I was sinning.  I understand that.  Well are there any ignorant good?  You do good donít you?  If you do good and you know you are doing good, to do bad how can you not know you are doing bad?  You may not know that such and such a thing, an ignorant sin is that I told you that Rev. Farr was from Canada because I thought I heard him say that at some point and it turns out he ainít from Canada; heís from Arkansas Ė I lied but I didnít know I was lying.  I thought he was from Canada; I donít get judged for lying because I didnít know I was lying.  Thatís not a willful sin.  But I know lying is a sin, are you understanding what Iím saying.  Because I know lying is a sin when I tell lies God has to judge my heart if I knew or if I didnít know.  God has to judge that; you canít, I canít.  The fact is I know itís a sin to lie. 

I want you all to name a sin that you did/do that you didnít know was wrong [congregation laughing].  I mean seriously.  Name a sin that you do that you didnít have a clue it was wrong.  You might not have known that the actual thing you were doing was wrong, but you knew that sin was wrong.  I talk to so many folks, you know they are shacking up and they go pastor I didnít know it was wrong to shack up.  I said ďOh, thatís okay I know you didnít know betterĒ.  [congregation laughing]  Have you ever read in the Bible ďThou shalt not commit adulteryĒ.  Yeah.  Did you know that was wrong?  Yeah.  Adultery is having sex with somebody who is not your wife or husband, isnít it?  Yeah.  ďIs this your wife or husband?Ē  No.  ďIs you all having sexĒ?  Yeah.  ďWell then you knew that was wrong.Ē

There might be certain particular nuances whereby you donít now the nuances are wrong, but you know sin is sin so in that sense all sin is willful.  So it canít be talking about just any old sin because if it were it wouldnít say the word ďifĒ.  The word ďifĒ says that there is a choice in the matter whereby this sin could be avoided willfully, and that sin has to match the context of the chapter and the chapter, the book, is all about accepting Jesus and saying no to all other ways to get to God.  So if I reject Jesus and say yes to any other way to get to God THAT WOULD BE A SIN!.  He says if you do that sin willfully, which means I wasnít tricked into it, duped in it, Iím not quite understanding this thing, I donít understand it, I donít quite get it, so Iím going back to Judaism because I donít understand it.  No, you received the knowledge of the truth, you know it, you understand it, you see it, it makes perfect sense to you.  You choose of your own will to commit that sin and say no to what you know is true and you go back to Judaism.  He says if you say ďNo to the sacrifice of Christ and go back to the sacrifices of bulls and goats and calves, and Iím a good person normally, and Iím okay, whatever your sacrifice is, he says if you go back to that willfully, there is nothing else we have to offer you.  If you donít like Jesus I donít have anything else to offer you. 

Now Pastor does that mean that a person who knows God is real, Jesus is real and God sent His son Jesus to die on the cross for my sins, I know that, but I reject it Ė is the Bible saying he can never get saved?  It didnít say that.  What it says is that he canít get saved if he rejects the only sacrifice that could save him.  Now when he gets ready to stop rejecting it and come back to it, he can be saved.  But there is no other option for this person to be saved by.  Are you hearing what Iím saying. 

Now look at what it calls him in the next verse. 

27But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.

These are people who are opposed to God and His Christ.  These are not people who have accepted the Lord Jesus Christ in their heart.  These are people who are opposed to God and His Christ, they are adversaries.  He says ďIf you donít accept the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the only other thing that is available for you is righteous indignation from God.  Here he goes on to say.  Hereís an example, he gives a parenthesis.

28He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:

I mean, if you didnít do Mosesí law you died. 

29Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?

If breaking the law of Moses causes a man to die, imagine what happens to the man who trods underfoot the son of God; that means to cast on the ground salt, or anything on the ground, and walk on it.  It is a total disrespect and disregard for Jesus.  Then it says to consider the blood of the covenant an unholy thing.  So He died for me, His blood was shed for me, but I donít think His blood is any different than anybody elseís blood. I donít consider Jesusí blood to be any different than my blood.  He says ďNow the moment you start doing that!!! 

The last one is ďand hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?

And he calls it a particular name, the Spirit of grace.  There is a Spirit of Christ, a Spirit of God, Spirit of Glory, a Spirit of Grace is the Spirit that ministers grace to the person.  Grace is unmerited favor.  He says this person looks in the face of the gift of Godís Grace given to him through the agency of the Holy Spirit and when the Spirit has revealed to him, enlightened him, that Grace is available and it doesnít cost you anything to be saved Ė the man will insult, despite, he will insult the Grace that God has to offer him by shoving it back in His face.  You hearing me.

He says if you do that there ainít nothing else that we have to offer you.  The next thing for you Ė if you do that and remain that way, of course, is a fearful expectation for a coming judgment.  Now a lot of folks have problems with that because we donít believe God is a judging, wrathful God.  Iíve heard folks say all the time ďGod ainít angry no moreĒ.  How can God not be angry anymore?  Sin still takes place.  As long as there is sin, then it must receive the anger of God.  ďGod ainít mad at usĒ!  Well, you know what, Heís not mad at us Ė Heís mad at our sin though.  He doesnít send sin to hell, he sends sinners to hell because they have the sin in them.  We want God to be a loving God, a good God, a God who always gives me what I want when I ask Him, or a God who has nothing to do with anything that goes wrong.  A God who blesses me with a brand new baby but doesnít allow that baby to die before that baby reaches an age where I think its okay for him to die.  And when a 21 year old person dies that ainít God; God would never do nothing like that.  When a 91 year old person dies ďWell you know the Lord took her homeĒ.  We put on God what we consider God activity to be.  We write His job description.  We donít accept what He says in His Word.  We write a job description of God and we have written out of Godís job description all anger, all wrath, all judgment, all righteous indignation.  Heís only love, good and on and on and on.  NO, NO, NO, NO, NO!  God is both loving and just.  Heís both merciful and wrathful at the same time, and you cannot have a God that you have created and concocted for your own use. 

Job understood God so well that he said ďYou know what, God is so good He gives to me, and God is so good He takes from meĒ.  If He gives to me it doesnít make Him any more God and if He takes from me, it doesnít make Him any less God because whatever happens to me has nothing to do with how credible He is.  Iíve talked to so many folks who have declared and decried the tsunami disaster Ė God had nothing to do with that.  911, God had nothing to do with that and Iím sitting here saying ďBoy, so you mean to tell me that every disaster that ever happens God has nothing to do with it.  Well whose running His world?  Heís up in heaven and He watches the news and Ted Koppel says ďThereís been a tsunami disaster over in Southeast Asian and God says ďOh my goodness what is going on, I didnít have nothing to do with thatĒ.  No, if anything happens in Godís universe God has everything to do with it.  It canít happen unless God has something to say about it.  

And the second thing I need to make sure that I mention to you is that every negative thing that ever happens is not always Godís judgment.  There are times when God allows for negative things to happen, not as a form of judgment but as a form of instruction.  We behold both the goodness and the severity of God.  His goodness and His severity Ė that which is good about Him and that which is severe about Him, and both of them lead men to repentance.  He says now if you reject Jesus Christ we have nothing else to offer you. 

30For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.

31It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

I need to stop here real quickly and deal with this.  The Lord will judge His people.  Somebody wants to raise their hand and say ďSee Pastor, aha, they are His people, they are truly saved and they fell and now they canít be saved no more.Ē  Hm, hm.  There are two churches.  There is a visible church and a true church.  The true church is the church of truly regenerated people.  The visible church is the church that everybody sees.  If Iím driving down the street and I see New Life Baptist Church and Iím not in the faith, I would have to assume that those are the Christian people, the people of God; wouldnít I?  But you do know that everybody in New Life Baptist Church isnít the true church.  Iíve got people on my rolls, Iíve got folks that have been dumped in that baptismal pool and they are not in the true church.  They are in the visible church.  This is the church that everybody is able to see, but a true church is determined by a true heart. 

In Israel, which is where the idea of the true church and the visible church comes from, the nation of Israel was a nation that came out of Egypt, in the wilderness, into the promised land.  It was called a mixed multitude which means you had people in there who were true Israelites and then you had people in there who were mixed Israelites.  God did not say ďonly let the true Israelites come in the wilderness and donít let the mixed ones come.Ē  He said bring the whole multitude together; Iím looking for faith.  And guess what happened?  On the whole multitude of Israel, mixed and true Israel, only two made it to the promised land.  They were all Israelites, some of them mixed, they were all the visible church but there werenít but two members of the true church.  And every non-true member of that visible church died in the wilderness.  When it says God will judge His people, this means God will judge the visible church.  Jesus said it like this.  On that day, which is the judgment day, I will stand and I will divide the sheep from the goats Ė I will do it myself.  Are you hearing what Iím saying? 

He says It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Vs. 32-39, our time will not allow us to go through that particular portion of Scripture but that portion of Scripture sets us up for the teaching of faith that is in Hebrews 11.  From verses 32-39 we have the strongest call in the Book of Hebrews, other than Hebrews 11, to hold on to your faith, donít throw away your confidence, donít let persecution, and donít let the reproaches and afflictions of men cause you to walk away from the thing that you have professed.  Amen!

Give God praise and glory Ė thatís our lesson.

[1] Showing, suggesting, or pointing out that something exists or is true

[2] The attribution of a human form, human characteristics, or human behavior to nonhuman things, e.g. deities in mythology and animals in children's stories.