The whole purpose of salvation is to make us free to serve the living God. Knowing the truth will make us free (John 8:32). Only free people can work toward a free world.
Scripture: Hebrews 9:1-14
- Hebrews is one long argument showing the superiority of Christ.
- The priestly ministry of Christ is superior as contrasted with the sacrifices of the old covenant tabernacle.
- The rituals of atonement were basic to the thinking of ancient peoples; the Jews would have had great difficulty accepting that the Lamb of God came to earth to be sacrificed and to enter a permanent heavenly tabernacle, setting aside the old order.
- Rituals are a carefully ordered aspect of our approach to God; the old order rites are superseded and replaced in Christ.
- Rituals are normally celebrated by repetition, but Christ’s work is done once and for all, ending the tabernacle rituals.
- When we celebrate the ritual feast of the Lord’s Supper, we are remembering what Christ has done, not repeating it.
- Contemporary Judaism has rituals but no atonement.
- The earthly sanctuary was a reflection of the heavenly reality.
- The seven-stick lampstand represented the light of God and our light to the world, and the table of show bread represented the life and covenant given by God, and the holy of holies was the throne room of God where His presence dwelt.
- The prescriptions for the tabernacle and temple were so strict because they represented the throne room of the Holy and Almighty God.
- We do not grasp the access to God granted in Christ until we realize how access to God was denied in the old covenant.
- On the day of atonement, the blood of atonement was sprinkled on the ark of God’s presence for the high priest and the people.
- The rituals were crucial, but not efficacious as was Christ’s final atoning work which was the reality pointed to by OT rituals.
- A righteous God cannot look upon sin; ordinary sinful man does not have access to the presence of God.
- In Christ we are granted continual access to the throne of grace.
- We should consider ourselves not as the goal of God’s work, but as instruments of God’s work in His priestly service.
- We are to become living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God; as God’s atonement is effective in our lives we become His servants in the world.
- In the church we have rituals but they must not replace the presence of God. Through the blood of Christ sprinkled on the mercy seat, we can come near to God.
- All efforts at self-atonement are futile. Self-atonement does not work, and will leave us slaves to sin and guilt and death.
- Guilt destroys freedom. It makes us slaves to sin both within and without (John 8:34,36).
- A bad conscience based on personal guilt morally disarms us, and moral compromise leads to theological compromise.
- Guilt is the most useful tool for tyrants; histories of oppression create false guilt, making people subject to manipulation.
- Guilt is an enemy of freedom, leading to enslavement and false atonement. Christ’s atonement brings us freedom from sin and guilt; He is the sin-bearer.
- The whole purpose of salvation is to make us free to serve the living God. Knowing the truth will make us free (John 8:32).
- Only free people can work toward a free world.
- In Christ we are justified, discharged before the Living God.
- True preaching should lead people to be free in Christ, to serve the living God. If we reject Christ, we reject freedom.
- Compare and contract access to God under the old tabernacle system versus access to God granted us by Christ.
- What does it mean for us to have access to God?
- Do we seek the rituals or God Himself in our worship?
- What is the end goal of God’s work within us (Eph. 2:10)?
- What are the consequences, temporal and eternal, of unresolved guilt?
- In what ways will our freedom in Christ move us to serve His purposes this week?