Sunday School 09 02 2012

 

Created 4 This  - Vashawn Mitchell

Best Days - Tamela Mann

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Diary of Juanita Bynum II

 

Mama, I want to Sing - Lynn Whitfield and Ciara

 

“Faith Calls for Perseverance”

Lesson Text: Psalm Hebrews 10:19-31

Background Scripture:  Hebrews 10

 

Hebrews 10:19-31 (KJV)

19Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,

20By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;

21 And having an high priest over the house of God;

22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

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

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

25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

26For if we sin wilfully 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.

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

29 Of 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?

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.

 

OBJECTIVES

To learn to live a life free from sin, through Jesus Christ.

To know that God is able to deliver you from your sins.

To remain steadfast in your faith in God.    

 

INTRODUCTION

Hellfire and Brimstone?

  The American colonial preacher Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) is best known for his sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” In this sermon, Edwards rides the theme of God’s anger and the judgment that awaits sinners. Edwards preached this: “The wrath of God burns against them, their damnation [doesn’t] slumber, the pit is prepared, the fire made ready, the furnace is now hot, ready to receive them.”

  Many assume that Edwards used Hebrews 10:31 (part of today’s lesson text) as the basis for this sermon. This is not quite the case, however, for that verse says, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God,” not “angry God.” Edwards imported the image of the Lord as the God of wrath from the Old Testament and mixed it with the Bible’s picture of God as judge to create his terrifying picture.

  Edwards did not always preach like this, but he defined a style of preaching sometimes known as hellfire and brimstone. These are sermons that emphasize the horrible fate awaiting unbelievers. While this style of preaching was once common, even popular, it has declined in favor of more positive messages about God’s love and forgiveness. To preach only about the wrath of God-as-judge is to preach something less than the full gospel.

  Yet there is a solid biblical basis for preaching about the threat of God’s judgment. In both the Old and New Testaments, God is pictured as the ultimate judge (examples: Psalm 50:6; Ecclesiastes 3:17; Hebrews 12:23). The New Testament also pictures the Son of God, Jesus Christ, in this role (see Acts 10:42; 17:31). Today’s lesson will look at a passage in the book of Hebrews that helps us understand the reality of God’s judgment and how we can be saved from this through faith.

 

LESSON BACKGROUND

  The book of Hebrews is not always given a place of importance in the teaching and preaching of the church. Many prefer to focus on the stories of Jesus as found in the Gospels, the magnificent doctrine of Paul’s letters, and/or the mysterious images of the book of Revelation. But Hebrews is filled with descriptions of Christ that are unique, and we dare not neglect these. Here we see the role of the Son of God in creation (Hebrews 1:1, 2). Jesus is described as the “captain” of our salvation (2:10). Christ serves as both our eternal high priest (10:21) and our eternal sacrifice for sins (9:26).

  The book of Hebrews is tied to the Old Testament. It quotes the Old Testament more than 30 times, sometimes at considerable length. This is done not merely to reinforce a point the author is making, but to dig into these older Scriptures and find what they have to say about Jesus and the new covenant. In particular, the author is concerned to show that the priests of Israel, their temple, and their sacrifices were all pointers to Jesus.

 

Faith’s Boldness (Hebrews 10:19-25)

1. What does the phrase “enter into the holiest” refer to? (Hebrews 10:19, 20)

  The phrase the holiest refers to the innermost chamber of the Jewish tabernacle or temple. This is sometimes called “the holy of holies,” although that exact phrase does not appear in the Bible (compare Exodus 26:33; Hebrews 9:3). This chamber was the intended location for the ark of the covenant; it was a place traditionally entered once a year by the high priest of Israel on the Day of Atonement. No Old Covenant worshiper would have been bold enough to try to enter the holy of holies in the tabernacle. Only the high priest entered the holy of holies only once a year to atone for the sins of the people. 

  However, the author of Hebrews is not speaking of an earthly holy of holies, but of a perfect place. We may understand this along the lines of John’s vision of the temple in Heaven, opened to reveal a heavenly ark of the covenant (or “ark of his testament,” Revelation 11:19). 

   In the earthly temple in Jerusalem and the movable tabernacle that preceded it, the holy of holies was protected by a large veil or curtain (Exodus 26:31-33). There is now no need for such a barrier between God and humans (compare Mark 15:38). The author wants his readers to know that they now have access to this most intimate of places, full access to God himself.  

  How is this? We now have access because of the work of Jesus Christ, through “his flesh”This refers to the incarnation of our Lord in the person of Jesus of Nazareth (Hebrews 2:9a). God bridged the gap between sinful humanity and our holy God when He took on human form. Only Jesus’ “blood” (10:20) that is, His sacrificial death - once and for all atonement (2:9b) could tear that veil (Mark 15:38) and open the way into the heavenly sanctuary where God dwells.

   This why Jesus said, “This cup is the new testament in my blood” (1 Corinthians 11:25). This new covenant would provide a way for believers to have an intimate relationship with our Father in Heaven in a way we never could before.  

2a. How is Jesus our “highpriest” over the house God? (v. 21)

   Not only do we have a spiritual sacrifice enabling us to enter the Fathers’ presence, but we also have a great High Priest “over the house of God” (Hebrews 10:21). 

  Again the writer contrasted the Old Covenant high priest with Jesus Christ, our Great High Priest. The fact that Jesus sat down after He ascended to the Father is proof that His work was completed (Heb. 1:3, 13; 8:1). The ministry of the priests in the tabernacle and temple was never done and never different: they offered the same sacrifices day after day. This constant repetition was proof that their sacrifices did not take away sins. What tens of thousands of animal sacrifices could not accomplish, Jesus accomplished with one sacrifice forever!

2b. How, then should we enter in to the house of God (v. 22)?

   Coming into the presence of God is to be done with the heart properly prepared. It must be a true heart, the opposite of a false, hypocritical heart. And it must be a heart with full assurance of faith. This expression is parallel to the true heart. The emphasis in the Greek text is not on the assurance part, but on the full part. Our hearts are fully true, completely trusting and believing. We have every reason for this confident approach to God, for we have the perfect high priest who has taken care of the sin that once separated us from our Creator.

What Do You Think?

   What hinders you from entering God’s presence “in full assurance”? How do you overcome problems in this regard?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

. Issues of doubt (James 1:6-8) |

. Issues of presumption (Job 38:2; 40:1)

. Issues of despair (Lamentations 3:42-44)

. Issues of rebellion (Proverbs 28:9)

 

3. Why is it so important to hold fast to our faith without wavering?  (v. 23)

   The readers of this epistle were being tempted to forsake their confession of Jesus Christ by going back to the Old Covenant worship. The writer did not exhort them to hold on to their salvation, because their security was in Christ and not in themselves (Heb. 7:25). Rather, he invited them to hold fast "the profession [confession] of... hope."

  We have noted in our study of Hebrews that there is an emphasis on the glorious hope of the believer. God is "bringing many sons unto glory" (Heb. 2:10). Believers are "partakers of the heavenly calling" (Heb. 3:1) and therefore can rejoice in hope (Heb. 3:6). Hope is one of the main themes of Hebrews 6 (vs. 11-12, 18-20). We are looking for Christ to return (Heb. 9:28) and we are seeking that city that is yet to come (Heb. 13:14).

  When a believer has his hope fixed on Christ, and relies on the faithfulness of God, then he will not waver. Instead of looking back (as the Jews so often did), we should look ahead to the coming of the Lord.

  In the final analysis, it is not our circumstances or the actions of others that determine whether we remain faithful. We can remain faithful because God is faithful. We are like the survivors of the horrors of the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BC who could sing, “Great is thy faithfulness!” (Lamentations 3:23). The Lord God always keeps His promises. We can depend on this as much today as when these words were written many centuries ago.

What Do You Think?

  In what circumstances do you find it hardest to “hold fast... without wavering”? What helps you do so anyway?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

   In the secular workplace | Regarding entertainment activities | In family life 

   In secular higher education

  

4. In what ways can we be an influence to other believers? (v. 24)

   We now see what should happen if one is holding fast to an assured faith: believers are to influence one another in attitude and action. Our lives should stimulate love among our Christian brothers and sisters. This attitude of love should work itself out in acts of good works and loving deeds as a natural expression of our salvation. 

   In other words, the Christian faith should make an observable difference in the lives of believers. This echoes the teaching of James, who says that faith without works is dead (James 2:17, 26). If loving works are not evident in the life of a Christian, then there is a problem with this person’s faith. Loving works should be the natural result of trust in our loving God (compare 1 John 3:18). 

5. What is one of the purposes of assembling ourselves together? (v. 25) 

   Fellowship with God must never become selfish. We must also fellowship with other Christians in the local assembly.  

   This is one of the most quoted verses in Hebrews, often used to encourage Christians to attend church services on a weekly basis. Following immediately after the author’s encouragement for love and good works in verse 24, we can understand that participation in the weekly fellowship of a church body is a way to practice such things. 

   The author is not exhorting his readers to be regular in attendance for their own benefit so much as for the benefit of other believers. We need each other. The author’s world is hostile to Christianity, and ours is not much changed. We function as the body of Christ as the Lord intends when we assemble in the name of Jesus to worship, fellowship, and learn (see Acts 2:42). The fact that the readers see the day approaching—most likely a reference to Judgment Day—adds a sense of urgency. 

What Do You Think?

   How can your own regular attendance at worship services be a ministry to other believers? 

Talking Points for Your Discussion

. Person to person (Proverbs 27:17)

. Body life (Ephesians 4:16)

. Witness of priorities and allegiance (2 Timothy 4:10) 

 

Faith’s Determination (Hebrews 10:26-31) 

6. Is it possible for an individual to be redeemed after willfully disobeying God’s will?  (Hebrews 10:26)

  The text addresses the all-too-common issue of ongoing sin in the life of the believer. If taken out of context, the verse seems to say that (1) if we have made a Christian commitment and (2) we make a knowingly sinful choice, then (3) we fall into a state of no more sacrifice for sins (unforgiveness). 

  First, let us admit that great heroes of the faith can have sin issues after their conversion. In a famous episode, Paul had to confront Peter for his hypocrisy in rejecting fellowship with Gentile believers (Galatians 2:11). It would seem that this was a willful choice by Peter, a sinful action that required his repentance. 

  Second, the Bible teaches that we can be forgiven for sins, even those committed intentionally, if we confess them and ask for forgiveness (see 1 John 1:9; compare Psalm 51:2-4). The area of danger is when we harbor a lack of repentance for our sins. It is one thing to sin willfully and then repent; it is quite another to sin defiantly and refuse to repent. 

  Third, we should put the phrase no more sacrifice for sins in the larger context of what the author has already taught. There is one, final, ultimate sacrifice for sins: the sacrifice of Jesus through His death on the cross (see Hebrews 2:17; 9:26). We delude ourselves if we think we can abandon Christian faith and find some other way to take care of our sins. The sacrifice of Jesus is the only sufficient way to cancel our sins; there is no other. 

7. What are the consequences of rejecting the sacrifice of Jesus for our sins? (v. 27)

  The author points out the results of rejecting the sacrifice of Jesus for our sins. If we believe we can find an easier and more viable alternative, we are wrong. The one who rejects Christ has only the promise of judgment and punishment in his or her future. The ultimate justice of God will not be thwarted by unbelievers (the adversaries). This should be adequate motivation to take the problem of sin seriously. 

What Do You Think?

   How does culture downplay the seriousness of sin? How do you resist cultural influences in this regard? 

Talking Points for Your Discussion 

   Exodus 23:2; Psalm 94:7; Isaiah 5:20; Mark 7:9-12 

8. How does the punishment in the Old Testament differ from the consequences of rejecting Christ? (vs. 28,29)

  Drawing on the Jewish roots of his readers, the author reminds them of the harsh   judgment under the Law of Moses (see Deuteronomy 17:6, 7). The Old Testament gives many examples of the necessary deaths of those whose sin was a threat to the purity and integrity of the nation of Israel, God’s covenant people. (For a rather extensive list of offenses that called for death, see Leviticus 20:9-16.) The importance of the verse before us is established next. 

  The author pushes hard for the reader to understand the seriousness of what he is saying. If certain sinners were judged harshly under the Law of Moses, the judgment of those who have rejected the sacrificial death of Jesus will be even harsher. Not only do unbelievers reject the salvation offered through Christ, they also reject the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of grace. 

   “Hath done despite” translates an unusually strong Greek verb to express the author’s outrage at how ungrateful unbelievers react to God’s work in Christ. The idea is that of a deep, deliberate insult (see Hebrews 6:4-6).   

What Do You Think?

  What are some ways that people walk all over Jesus today? How should we react when we see this happening? 

Talking Points for Your Discussion

   Governmental laws | Employment policies | Commercialism | Media portrayals 

9. Should we as believers fear God’s judgment?  (vs. 30, 31) 

   The author quotes Deuteronomy 32:35, 36 (compare Romans 12:19). No Christian believer should fear God’s condemning judgment because Jesus Christ has delivered us from what we deserve. Jesus was not sent into the world as a judge, but as a Savior (see John 3:16, 17).  

   Yet we should remember that the promises of judgment on sinful people are sure. If we reject Jesus, there is nothing to keep us from receiving our deserved judgment at the hands of the living God. Having a clever lawyer or trying to plea bargain won’t help. God’s final judgment will result in a verdict of eternal life or eternal death. Only if we have Jesus as our advocate will we receive the verdict of life (see 1 John 2:1, 2). 

POINTS TO PONDER 

1.We now have access to God through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ –“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16; 10:19-22). 

2.Make sure the life you live stimulates others to come to Jesus Christ. (vs. 24-25).   

3.Let us not be callous concerning the truth of Jesus’ sacrifice. If we reject Jesus there is nothing to keep us from receiving our deserved judgment at the hands of the living God. (vs. 26-31).

 

CONCLUSION

Secure in Faith 

  In uncertain times, people naturally want assurances of security. We want to know that our jobs will continue, that our marriages will be successful, and that our retirement plans will be adequate. We experience anxiety when a job terminates, a marriage ends, or retirement savings evaporate. The Christian is subject to the uncertainties of life just as anyone else. Our faith in Christ will not necessarily protect us from financial ruin or personal tragedy. However, our faith in Christ gives us the assurance that our future is in the hands of a loving God.   

  Because of Jesus’ atoning death, we are not subject to God’s condemnation and wrath (see 1 Peter 2:24). This is the life of freedom God has given us. It is a life by which we can spur our fellow believers to love one another and to practice our loving faith through good and helpful deeds for others. The one who is securely in the arms of the loving God lives this kind of life. 

PRAYER 

  Holy God, may the fact that we have been forgiven never cause us to take sin lightly. May we never miss an opportunity to express love through our actions. May we never doubt our salvation through our great high priest, Jesus; amen.                                                                                                       

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER 

   Know where real security lies.  

 


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