atonement

A Terrifying Thing

Politicians and lawyers, as well as the media, know how to take a few words someone says, and misconstrue them in order to trap and attack a person with their own words.

The usual retort or defense by the trapped person is that their words were taken out of context. Context is important! This is always true when it comes to understanding words spoken and written.

This issue of context also applies to reading and studying the Bible. But context includes more than just the words and sentences. The time frame and culture of spoken or written words are an important frame of reference for understanding them.

Most of the lack of understanding or misunderstanding of the Bible is due to an ignorance of the full context of history, culture, the Scriptures as a whole, and the nature of God.

Scripture

If we go on sinning after we have learned the truth, no sacrifice can take away our sins. All that is left is a terrifying wait for judgment and a raging fire that will consume God’s enemies.

If two or three witnesses accused someone of rejecting Moses’ Teachings, that person was shown no mercy as he was executed. [vss 26-27]

What do you think a person who shows no respect for the Son of God deserves? That person looks at the blood of the promise (the blood that made him holy) as no different from other people’s blood, and he insults the Spirit that God gave us out of his kindness [grace]. He deserves a much worse punishment. [vss 28-29]

We know the God who said, “I alone have the right to take revenge. I will pay back.” God also said, “The Lord will judge his people.”

Falling into the hands of the living God is a terrifying thing. [vss 30-31]

(Hebrews 10:26-31 GW) [Context– Hebrews 10]

Key phrase—

Falling into the hands of the living God is a terrifying thing

Digging Deeper...

Review the Scriptures above as you answer the following questions

  • What is the strong warning given? What is not available "if we go on sinning?"

  • How is rejection of the Mosaic Law compared to rejection of the New Covenant of grace?

  • What are we told insults the Spirit of God? What result can we expect if we insult God's Spirit?

  • How is all of this reasoning tied into the last strong expression of this warning?

Reflection...

I've seen this portion of text (the 4th of 5 warnings in Hebrews) used to discourage and scare people, which brings both condemnation and confusion. It is a strong warning and exhortation to be sure but is intended to encourage believers to persevere not despair.

This should be clear from the context of this whole chapter (10) and the following chapter (11), as well as the purpose of the whole book of Hebrews.

Once the Mosaic Law was completed and replaced (Matt 5:17; Heb 8:6-13), its provision of forgiveness and atonement was null and void. Trying to go back to the Law meant rejecting the perfect atonement of Jesus brought through His death and resurrection. This would be a rejection of God's grace and the promise of God's Spirit (John 14:16-17, 26) living in us as believers.

Be careful how you handle the truth of God! Falling into the hands of the living God is a terrifying thing. Be wary of sitting in God's place and pronouncing judgment on anyone! Rather than a false confidence in religious righteousness, accept and trust God's grace.

Make it personal...

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

  • Since none of us lead a perfect, moral life, how is this warning an encouragement?

  • Do you understand how and why the rejection of New Covenant grace to rely on the Law is a personal and grievous insult to God?

  • Can you see all of this from the context of these early converts from Judaism to Christianity?

  • Are you living in the freedom of God's gracious forgiveness through Jesus or struggling to be righteous through your own efforts?

©2017—Word-Strong


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

A New and Living Way

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Life is full of symbolism but most of it is taken for granted. A clock or watch tracks time, yet time is an abstract concept marked in life by the rising and setting of the sun. Nowadays we use emoticons in place of words.

The Bible also contains much symbolic and figurative wording. This requires some thought and reflection to understand what they represent and mean. Understanding them brings insight of the truth they represent.

The book of Hebrews is a guide for understanding the Old Testament (covenant) in light of the new relationship with God believers experience through trusting in the Lord Jesus.

Just as the curtain in front of the Most Holy Place in the temple tore apart from top to bottom when Jesus exhaled His last breath on the cross, a new and living way opened up for all who trust in the Lord (Matt 27:50-51).

Scripture

Brothers and sisters, because of the blood of Jesus we can now confidently go into the holy place. Jesus has opened a new and living way for us to go through the curtain. (The curtain is his own body.) [vss 19-20]
We have a superior priest in charge of God’s house. We have been sprinkled ⌊with his blood⌋ to free us from a guilty conscience, and our bodies have been washed with clean water. So we must continue to come ⌊to him⌋ with a sincere heart and strong faith. [vss 21-22]
(Hebrews 10:19-22 GW) [Context– Hebrews 10]

Key phrase—

Jesus has opened a new and living way for us to go through

Digging Deeper...

Review the Scriptures above as you answer the following questions

  • What are Christian believers now free to do and in what way?

  • Why are believers able to enter this holy place of God's presence? 

  • What are the symbolic things Jesus does for believers that make this possible?

  • What is the final exhortation given here? In what way are we to come to the Lord?

Reflection...

The Christian faith is not a set of religious dogmas or mere beliefs. It is an ongoing personal relationship with God the Father through trust in His Son Jesus.

This relationship is made available by what Jesus did on the cross (atonement) for all humanity, all those who would trust in Him personally.

The way into God's presence is open but is only accessible with a sincere heart and strong faith—an honest, open and trusting heart (Heb 10:22). His poured out blood cleanses our conscience and the pure water of God's truth washes and renews our mind.

Jesus opened the way to God and He leads us through that way as both our Savior and High Priest who continually intercedes for us (prays on our behalf). It is a new and living way of life.

Make it personal...

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

  • Do you understand the symbolism of the curtain and holy place of the temple?

  • Can you picture in your mindthe torn curtain and the way opened to God?

  • How does all of this encourage you personally? Have you experienced the freedom of God's forgiveness and acceptance?

  • Are you making time each day to enter into God's presence? Do you have this confidence deep in your heart?

©2017—Word-Strong


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

Confident to Enter

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Since the beginning, we humans invest a lot in our outward appearance. The first man and woman covered their shame of nakedness with fig leaves. Today, we Americans spend a lot of time and money on stylish clothing, even for work clothes.

A lot of sayings speak to this tendency—beauty is only skin deep, don't judge a book by its cover, or a house is not a home. Yet we spend a lot of time and money on skin products and houses! The point is that what's on the inside matters more than the outside.

This even truer when it comes to God and our spiritual life. God always looks at the heart—the inner person—not what is presented to others. This has always been true.

Many people are convinced they need to clean up their lives before God will accept them. But they are wrong. God works from the inside out. Just the opposite of us. He opens the way into His presence to those who let Him clean their lives up, beginning in their heart.

Scripture

With one sacrifice he accomplished the work of setting them apart for God forever.

The Holy Spirit tells us the same thing: “This is the promise that I will make to them after those days, says the Lord: ‘I will put my teachings in their hearts and write them in their minds.’ ” Then he adds, “I will no longer hold their sins and their disobedience against them.” (Jer 31:31-34) [vss 14-17]

When sins are forgiven, there is no longer any need to sacrifice for sins. Brothers and sisters, because of the blood of Jesus we can now confidently go into the holy place. [vss 18-19]

(Hebrews 10:14-19 GW) [Context– Hebrews 10]

Key phrase—

Because of the blood of Jesus we can now confidently go into the holy place

Digging Deeper...

Review the Scriptures above as you answer the following questions

  • What has been done forever? How was this done?

  • How does the Holy Spirit confirm this work of God?

  • For how long will "their sins and their disobedience" be forgiven?

  • What are we able to do because of the blood of Jesus? Why?

Reflection...

God intends for His truth to live and remain in our hearts, as well as our minds. This is true when a person accepts God's perfect forgiveness through the perfect reconciliation made by the Lord offering Himself as the perfect sacrifice (atonement).

Being "set apart...forever" is God's work. It's not based on any effort from us but on the gracious gift of God. The blood of Jesus—through His death on the cross—cancels the debt and power of sin for those who accept it.

The presence of God, through the Holy Spirit who is given to dwell in us when we experience new birth, continues this work of setting us apart for God and His purposes (Titus 3:4-7).

This is why a genuine believer has the confidence to enter the presence of God (the Holy Place). Just as the blood of atonement under the Old Covenant brought forgiveness for a year, the blood of Jesus brings forgiveness forever—once for all (Heb 9:14).

Make it personal...

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

  • How is this prophetic promise of forgiveness connected to Christ's once and for all sacrifice?

  • If we are forgiven fully of our sin, what does this tell us about how to handle guilt and shame?

  • Do you have this confidence to go into the very presence of God?

  • How would you explain this blessing of entering God's presence in your own words (IYOW)?

©2017—Word-Strong


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

A Better Sacrifice

Freedom is not just a concept, it's something we experience. A person might be able to define what freedom is yet still not experience it. We can also become so accustomed to freedom that we take it for granted.

In America (USA), freedom is a guaranteed right by law. But it's more than that—it's a privilege. The freedoms we enjoy came at the cost of life—many lives over a period of many years.

Political freedom is not the same as civil rights, but the one guarantees the other. Spiritual freedom and personal freedom also aren't the same, but spiritual freedom can produce true freedom.

The grace of God provides true freedom for anyone who trusts in the Lord. But this freedom is not to be taken for granted nor abused for self-gratification.

God opened the door to true freedom through His son when Jesus offered Himself once for all, as a provision to remove the consequence of sin which is death—also called atonement.

Scripture

Christ didn’t go into a holy place made by human hands. He didn’t go into a model of the real thing. Instead, he went into heaven to appear in God’s presence on our behalf. Every year the chief priest went into the holy place to make a sacrifice with blood that isn’t his own. [vss 24-25]
However, Christ didn’t go into heaven to sacrifice himself again and again. Otherwise, he would have had to suffer many times since the world was created. But now, at the end of the ages, he has appeared once to remove sin by his sacrifice. [vss 25-26]
People die once, and after that they are judged. Likewise, Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of humanity, and after that he will appear a second time. This time he will not deal with sin, but he will save those who eagerly wait for him. [vss 27-28]
(Hebrews 9:24-28 GW) [Context– Hebrews 9]

Key phrase—

Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of humanity

Digging Deeper...

Review the Scriptures above as you answer the following questions

  • What did the chief (high) priest do every year? How is this contrasted with what Christ did?

  • If Jesus was like the former high (chief) priests (under the Old Covenant), what would He have to keep doing and why?

  • What are we told about death and judgment? How is this relevant to believers for what Christ did as our High (Chief) Priest?

  • How often was Jesus sacrificed and for what purpose? What is the purpose for Jesus to return a second time?

Reflection...

Once. Once is all the Lord Jesus needed to offer Himself as the perfect reconciling sacrifice (atonement) for humanity. Only once!

This is because His sacrifice—offering Himself as a means of reconciliation—is a better sacrifice. A better since He was free from sin Himself.

He doesn't need to suffer death many times and we don't need to "get saved" more than once. As believers, we need to have this assurance of forgiveness and cleansing from sin, once and for all.

We need to walk with Him—the resurrected Lord—in faith and ready for His return. We do this when we honor Him with our life in our relationships and how we live each day.

Make it personal...

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

  • Do you personally know and have a relationship with Jesus? If not, what holds you back from that?

  • Do you understand why Jesus only needed to die once as a reconciling offering for humanity's sin—once and for all, for all sin, people, and time?

  • Are you ready to see Jesus return a second time?

  • How are you personally honoring the Lord with your daily life?

©2017—Word-Strong


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

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