Paid In Full

Blood is life. Blood flows throughout our body, through large arteries and veins and tiny capillaries invisible to the naked eye.

Life takes place within our blood as it flows through various organs in our body that regulate vital life processes. If our blood is contaminated in any way, disease can take hold and lead to serious complications including death if untreated.

When the Bible speaks of blood in relationship to a covenant, blood takes on a spiritual nature. The physical properties and function of blood provide an illustration for an understanding of its spiritual truth.

Scripture

Because Christ offered himself to God, he is able to bring a new promise from God. Through his death he paid the price to set people free from the sins they committed under the first promise. He did this so that those who are called can be guaranteed an inheritance that will last forever.

In order for a will to take effect, it must be shown that the one who made it has died. A will is used only after a person is dead because it goes into effect only when a person dies. [vss 15-19]

That is why even the first promise was made with blood. As Scripture tells us, Moses told all the people every commandment. Then he took the blood of calves and goats together with some water, red yarn, and hyssop and sprinkled the scroll and all the people. He said, “Here is the blood that seals the promise God has made to you.” In the same way, Moses sprinkled blood on the tent and on everything used in worship. [vss 20-21]

As Moses’ Teachings tell us, blood was used to cleanse almost everything, because if no blood is shed, no sins can be forgiven.

The copies of the things in heaven had to be cleansed by these sacrifices. But the heavenly things themselves had to be cleansed by better sacrifices. [vss 22-23]

(Hebrews 9:15-23 GW) [Context– Hebrews 9]

Key phrase—

Through his death he paid the price to set people free

Digging Deeper...

Review the Scriptures above as you answer the following questions

  • What did Christ do that guarantees believers an eternal inheritance?

  • What needs to take place for a will to go into effect? How is this related to what Jesus did to bring our eternal inheritance?

  • Why was the first promise (covenant) made with blood? What do you think this is talking about?

  • Why is blood used in both the Old and New Covenants? [hint– see Leviticus 17:11]

Reflection...

No more sacrifices are needed. All the sacrifices before (under the Law) were reminders of what was to come—the perfect sacrifice of Jesus. His sacrifice—Himself—was not offered in a human temple but in heaven in the very presence of the Father.

This is called the Atonement of Christ which was prefigured by the sacred Jewish ceremony called the Day of Atonement (Lev 16). The Day of Atonement involved a whole day of fasting and many, many sacrifices. But the Atonement of Christ was done once for all (Heb 9:11-14).

The shed blood of Jesus is greater and more powerful than the blood of animals. Why? Because He was both human and God in nature—physical and spiritual—and He did not have a sinful nature since He wasn't born from the natural seed of a man (Matt 1:20; Luke 1:31-35).

His death on the cross brought a new promise (covenant) into effect. It acted as a ransom that wiped away the resulting debt of sin, which is physical and spiritual death, and provided an eternal forgiveness not possible under the old promise (covenant).

His death and resurrection that followed brought an inheritance for all those who would trust in Christ as both Savior and Lord. This inheritance is eternal, not physical nor temporary. It's not a geographical homeland but an abiding relationship with God and an eternal kingdom.

Make it personal...

Read through the Scripture text again as you consider and answer these questions

  • How does the blood of Christ provide believers an assurance of their salvation?

  • Do you understand why it was necessary that Jesus offered up His own blood and self as an atoning sacrifice?

  • Have you personally experienced the forgiveness of God and assurance of Christ's inheritance?

  • How has the forgiveness of God brought you assurance, freedom, and peace?

©2017—Word-Strong


Here's a free introduction for the book of Hebrews— Intro to studying Hebrews

His Own Blood

Most, if not all, religions are focused on appeasing an angry God or finding a way to gain God's acceptance or a combination of both. In most religions, God is either distant and unreachable or an impersonal spiritual force.

A relationship with God is only possible if He is personal and living. But access into the presence of God may appear impossible without some extraordinary means to gain that opportunity.

Religion is humanity's attempt to build a bridge up to God based on a person's best efforts at being good, or at least reaching some minimum requirement. But these efforts and requirements are just arbitrary hopeful guesses at what God desires.

Can a person have any certainty of reaching out to God and being accepted? Yes, and much more!

Scripture

But Christ came as a chief priest of the good things that are now here. Christ went through a better, more perfect tent that was not made by human hands and that is not part of this created world. He used his own blood, not the blood of goats and bulls, for the sacrifice. He went into the most holy place and offered this sacrifice once and for all to free us forever. [vss 11-12]
The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of cows sprinkled on unclean  people made their bodies holy and clean. The blood of Christ, who had no defect, does even more. Through the eternal Spirit he offered himself to God and cleansed our consciences from the useless things we had done. Now we can serve the living God. [vss 13-14]
(Hebrews 9:11-14 GW) [Context– Hebrews 9]

Key phrase—

He went into the most holy place and offered this sacrifice once and for all to free us forever

Digging Deeper...

Review the Scriptures above as you answer the following questions

  • What are we told Jesus did when He came as a chief (high) priest?

  • Where did Christ enter and what did He use to offer as a sacrifice? How often did this happen?

  • Why is the blood Christ offered so much more valuable and powerful than other sacrifices?

  • What great benefit does the Lord's sacrifice provide for those who trust in Him and why is this so?

Reflection...

Our own efforts at purifying ourselves are useless, just as all the sacrifices under the Old Covenant Law which were only temporary. None of them could make a person pure or free on a continuing basis.

The perfect sacrifice of Jesus—the Victor over sin, death, and the devil by His sacrifice on the cross and His resurrection from the dead—brings true freedom. God's Spirit dwelling in those who are true believers empowers them to live in the victory Jesus won.

God built the bridge between humanity and Himself. He came as a person to do what no other person could do. Jesus the Messiah (Christ) fulfilled all the requirements of the Law (Matt 5:17) so we no longer need to try to meet its perfect demands.

Not only are we free from the requirements of perfect obedience and continual sacrifices, we are free to know and serve the true and living God with a clean heart and conscience.

Make it personal...

Read through the Scripture text again as you consider and answer these questions

  • Which do you choose—religious ceremony or genuine spiritual freedom?

  • Which is better—an appearance of righteousness or a right relationship with God and a clear conscience?

  • Have you learned and become convinced that the grace of God is far superior to any religious effort on your part?

  • In what way have you experienced personal freedom to worship and serve the one true and living God through His Son Jesus?

©2017—Word-Strong


Here's a free introduction for the book of Hebrews— Intro to studying Hebrews

Not Open

What's the most important thing to understand about heaven? It isn't that the streets of heaven are made of transparent pure gold with a wall that has twelve gates of pearl (Rev 21:21). The primary focus isn't what it's like or what happens there, but who is there.

Of course, the primary focus is God. Heaven isn't some destination high above our atmosphere but a different dimension than our physical world. It's the very presence of God.

The way into the presence of God is closed if we rely on religion and good deeds. That stairway just isn't long enough or strong enough.

But the way into the very presence of God is open to those who personally trust in the Lord and His grace, His favor and goodness, by faith.

Scripture

The first promise [covenant] had rules for the priests’ service. It also had a holy place on earth. A tent was set up. The first part of this tent was called the holy place. The lamp stand, the table, and the bread of the presence were in this part of the tent. 
Behind the second curtain was the part of the tent called the most holy place. It contained the gold incense burner and the ark of the Lord’s promise. The ark was completely covered with gold. In the ark were the gold jar filled with manna, Aaron’s staff that had blossomed, and the tablets on which the promise  was written. Above the ark were the angels  of glory ⌊with their wings⌋ overshadowing the throne of mercy. (Discussing these things in detail isn’t possible now.) [vss 1-5]
That is how these two parts of the tent were set up. The priests always went into the first part of the tent to perform their duties. But only the chief priest went into the second part of the tent. Once a year he entered and brought blood that he offered for himself and for the things that the people did wrong unintentionally.
The Holy Spirit used this to show that the way into the most holy place was not open while the tent was still in use. [vss 6-8]
The first part of the tent is an example for the present time. The gifts and sacrifices that were brought there could not give the worshiper a clear conscience. These gifts and sacrifices were meant to be food, drink, and items used in various purification ceremonies. These ceremonies were required for the body until God would establish a new way of doing things. [vss 9-10]
(Hebrews 9:1-10 GW) [Context– Hebrews 9]

Key phrase—

The Holy Spirit used this to show that the way into the most holy place was not open

Digging Deeper...

Review the Scriptures above as you answer the following questions

  • What are we told about the tent used during the first promise (Old Covenant)?

  • How is it described and who can go into which parts? How and when are they able to enter these two places?

  • What do you think it means "the way into the most holy place" wasn't open?

  • Why was access to the "most holy place" restricted? When would it be open?

Reflection...

Religion is restrictive by nature. It's designed to be that way. Generally, we are either attracted to this restrictive nature or repelled by it. These restrictions are like a spiritual framework or infrastructure of belief.

On one hand, religion gives us prescribed boundaries intended to provide freedom and protection within those boundaries. Yet, many people want the freedom without the restrictions as a somewhat manageable form of anarchy.

Basically, we all place much greater weight on external issues rather internal ones because we live in a physical, tangible world. It may also seem like external things are easier to manage or control than what's internal.

The first promise—the Old Covenant Law—was not perfect nor eternal but temporary. It focused on the physical and external, it was not inherently spiritual and internal or eternal.

The comparison between the old and new promises (covenants) illustrates the difference between a religion based on obedience and a relationship based on God's grace,

The New Covenant, a promise extended through God's grace, brings internal transformation and isn't focused on external issues and actions. As internal transformation takes place, external concerns and actions conform to the internal change in a person.

Make it personal...

Read through the Scripture text again as you consider and answer these questions

  • What attracts or repels you about religion or religious practices?

  • Do you understand how religious practices can be a hindrance to walking by faith?

  • When have you experienced having a clear conscience? What led up to it?

  • How have you experienced an external change in your life based on internal transformation?

©2017—Word-Strong


Here's a free introduction for the book of Hebrews— Intro to studying Hebrews

A New Relationship

Hebrews study.png

It seems there's increased criticism of Christianity and church the past decade or so. Some of it may seem justifiable based on an oft-quoted saying attributed to Gandhi, "I love your Christ, but I dislike your Christianity."

As with many cultural trends, great liberty is taken with some truth, then opinions get mixed in and are seasoned with a measure of ignorance.

The quote appears to be a distillation of Gandhi's thoughts where a veteran missionary to India acknowledges that the example of Christians may not match the life and nature of the One they claim to follow. 

But, in a sense, all of this misses the more important issue. Christianity may be a major world religion, but its originator—Jesus Christ—had something very different in mind.

Christianity is not just a religious dogma or philosophy to follow or believe. Jesus always intended for His followers to be in relationship with Him by faith.

Scripture

 If nothing had been wrong with the first promise, no one would look for another one. But God found something wrong with his people and said to them,
“The days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new promise to Israel and Judah. It will not be like the promise that I made to their ancestors when I took them by the hand and brought them out of Egypt. They rejected that promise, so I ignored them, says the Lord. [vss 7-9]
But this is the promise that I will make to Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my teachings inside them, and I will write those teachings on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will each person teach his neighbors or his relatives by saying, ‘Know the Lord.’ All of them from the least important to the most important will all know me because I will forgive their wickedness and I will no longer hold their sins against them.”
God made this new promise and showed that the first promise was outdated. What is outdated and aging will soon disappear. [vss 10-13]
(Hebrews 8:7-13 GW) [Context– Hebrews 8]

Key phrase—

I will be their God, and they will be my people

Digging Deeper...

Review the Scriptures above as you answer the following questions

  • What does God say is coming and why does He say this?

  • How What did God find wrong with His people (Israel)? What did they do?

  • What are two important things we are told about this new promise of God?

  • How is this new promise better than the promise of the Old Covenant Law?

Reflection...

The Christian faith is too often minimalized to a prescribed moral code and acceptable behaviors, but that's a religious regimen, not faith.

The Old Covenant or Mosaic Law, inscribed upon tablets of stone, was a relationship with God based on required obedience to specific moral, civil, health, and religious or spiritual laws. Great blessings were promised by God for those who kept this covenant promise.

But His people failed to keep this covenant. So God established a new promise and a new relationship through Jesus Christ.

Jesus established this new promise by giving Himself as the perfect sacrifice upon the cross and guaranteed it when He rose from the grave. It is a personal promise based in relationship, not in obedience or good behavior. It is a relationship of faith, confident trust.

This new promise is called the New Covenant (or Testament). It replaces the Old Covenant Law because it is better and more powerful and more personal. It is written in our heart, our inner being, rather than on tablets of stone.

Make it personal...

Read through the Scripture text again as you consider and answer these questions

  • Do you understand the difference between the Old and New Covenants?

  • Are you aware of how different relationship by faith is in contrast to religion?

  • Can you see how much more personal this new relationship with God is?

  • Have you personally experienced the Spirit of God writing the truth of God in your heart?

©2017—Word-Strong


Here's a free introduction for the book of Hebrews— Intro to studying Hebrews

The Real Deal

"He's the real deal," is a common expression to affirm someone's credibility. This expression is often applied to an athlete or someone with great talent or used to confirm some claim or observation about a person.

Over the past 45 years, my wife has loved on and cared for hundreds of children. Many people along the way have noted her gift with and love for children and their love for her.

I've seen it in her as Mom and Nana and in her work in church nurseries, in our ministry overseas, and in her current work at a preschool.

Words need to match action for a person to be the real deal. The opinion of others isn't enough, people need to see it for themselves. In other words, it should be obvious to all.