sacrifice

Look—the Lamb of God!

Each of us has various roles in life—within our family of origin and at various points in life. Some roles are temporary and some endure. John the Baptizer knew his role in life. He was the "voice in the desert" who preceded and proclaimed the coming of Israel's Messiah.

John knew and accepted that his important but limited role would end when the One whom he proclaimed arrived. But how would he know for sure who this person was?

Set Apart for God

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Religion, by definition, is a set of beliefs, ceremonies, and rules used to worship a god or group of gods. The Latin root of this word carries the idea of constraint and practice, even to restrain or tie back.

Many religions are noted by their adherence to traditions, rituals, and rules along with other implied expectations. A religious person practices these things with the hopes of becoming more spiritual and acceptable by whoever or whatever is worshiped.

Sacred is a common term related to religion. It describes a sense of holiness or devotion. Something that is sacred is devoted or set apart for service or worship. It can also refer to people who are set apart for service or worship.

In Christianity, this is expressed as being holy or sanctified. When applied to a person, the process of becoming holy is called sanctification. All of this religious stuff sounds pretty exhausting and intimidating, doesn't it?

Here's some good news. Jesus has set His followers free from all this effort, once for all! Not so we can do as they please but to free us to live a life that pleases Him.

Scripture

We have been set apart as holy because Jesus Christ did what God wanted him to do by sacrificing his body once and for all.

Every day each priest performed his religious duty. He offered the same type of sacrifice again and again. Yet, these sacrifices could never take away sins. [vss 10-11]

However, this chief priest made one sacrifice for sins, and this sacrifice lasts forever. Then he received the highest position in heaven. Since that time, he has been waiting for his enemies to be made his footstool. 

With one sacrifice he accomplished the work of setting them apart for God forever. [vss 12-14]

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

Key phrase—

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

Digging Deeper...

Review the Scriptures above as you answer the following questions

  • What made it possible for believers to be "set apart as holy"?

  • What did the priests under the Law do over and over yet not able to accomplish?

  • How is what Jesus did as a chief priest contrasted with the other priests?

  • What do you see is the major emphasis of these few verses? [hint– it's repeated three times]

Reflection...

Why keep repeating the same thing over and over if it isn't effective and has little lasting value? This is the nature of religion.

No religion, no effort at goodness, no philosophy or system of discipline can make a person better or more righteous than what Jesus did once for all.

Why try to improve on perfection? Our own efforts at goodness are futile. Why not choose what is perfect and guaranteed for eternity?

Christian believers—followers of Jesus—are set apart as holy by the work of Jesus on the cross and through the power of His resurrection living in us. It's the Holy Spirit's transforming work in our hearts and minds that makes us holy.

True righteousness and sanctification are not the result of good behavior and good intentions but is based on a genuine, personal relationship of trust.

Exchanging our effort for Jesus' perfect work is wise. What will you choose today?

Make it personal...

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

  • How would you describe the idea of being holy or set apart (IYOW)?

  • Why do you think we all seem to default to some type of religious effort?

  • Have you experienced the conflict between effort and trust in your own life?

  • How are you currently learning to trust Jesus and His perfect work in your daily life?

©2017—Word-Strong


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

I Have Come

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An age-old question for people is, "What does God want from me?" People have offered sacrifices and kept various rituals throughout human history in attempts to please God, or various gods. Some of these efforts are extreme and others are more philosophical in nature.

Religion—including Christianity—is mostly comprised of efforts to please God or lead a life that pleases God. This might range from trying to appease God's wrath to seeing God as a benign and distant ruler of heaven.

Jesus answered this question once and for all, yet many of us misunderstand it. Christian believers who are well-versed in what the Bible says, understand that Jesus died to abolish the power and penalty of sin once for all.

But many Christians continue to try and live in some form of obedience to God through prescribed efforts at goodness. The obedience God is looking for isn't accomplished through external acts of goodness, it goes deeper than that.

Scripture

For this reason, when Christ came into the world, he said, “‘You did not want sacrifices and offerings, but you prepared a body for me. You did not approve of burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin.’

Then I said, ‘I have come! (It is written about me in the scroll of the book.) I have come to do what you want, my God.’ ” [vss 5-7]

In this passage Christ first said, “You did not want sacrifices, offerings, burnt offerings, and sacrifices for sin. You did not approve of them.” (These are the sacrifices that Moses’ Teachings require people to offer.)

Then Christ says, “I have come to do what you want.” He did away with sacrifices in order to establish the obedience that God wants. [vss 8-9]

(Hebrews 10:5-9 GW) [Context– Hebrews 10]

Key phrase—

I have come to do what you want, my God

Digging Deeper...

Review the Scriptures above as you answer the following questions

  • Why do you think we're told what is said in the Psalms [Ps 40:6-8] was from Christ?

  • What are we told in this text is the purpose for Christ's coming?

  • Where is this illustrated by Jesus in the gospels? [hint– look towards the end]

  • Why did the sacrifices need to be set aside to "establish... obedience..." that God wants?

Reflection...

What type of obedience is God looking for? The answer is shown by His Son Jesus, the Messiah (Christ), the savior of the world. Jesus came to do the Father's will not His own. As it says, "I have come to do what you want, my God."

This is made clear by the Lord's struggle in prayer in the garden of Gethsemane (Matt 26:36-46), where Jesus asks three times if "this cup" of suffering could be set aside. Each time, Jesus submitted His will to the Father.

This is our illustration, our example for the obedience God wants. Not external acts of goodness but the surrender of our lives to Him.

Jesus' once-and-for-all sacrifice on the cross brings a freedom from the impossible burden of perfect obedience required under the Law. God is not requiring acts of obedience we can do for Him but calling us into a relationship of trust (faith).

This relationship of trust is an ongoing internal and spiritual work enabled by God's Spirit dwelling in us as believers. This is what Jesus meant about denying yourself and taking up your cross in order to follow Him (Matt 16:24).

Make it personal...

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

  • Do you have the same heart attitude of Jesus as His in the garden of Gethsemane?

  • Are you willing to lay down your own wants and desires to do what God desires of you?

  • Are you willing to trust in Jesus' once-and-for-all sacrifice to be sufficient for your sin?

  • How are you learning to trust the Lord and surrender your will to Him?

©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