A Study of the Book of Hebrews




Sermon Text and Topics for November 2019

 

 

November 3:

Hebrews 9:1-10

“The Power to Cleanse the Human Conscience”

 

One of the most poignant, powerful stories in my family's history is that of my uncle Bob's fate in World War II. Bob was my father's oldest brother. At age 19 Bob was drafted to serve in the United States Army and along with thousands of other young men, took part in the D-Day invasion. Bob was lucky. He survived the first day. He was part of the Allied Army that swept across France liberating town after town from German control. But when they came to the town of Metz, Bob's luck ran out. He was killed by friendly fire...the rifle of one of his best buddies. The young man who fired the shot was devastated. He wrote my grandmother a letter explaining what happened, and she wrote back offering her forgiveness. But it wasn't enough. He couldn't get past the fact that he had killed his friend and left a hole in my grandmother's heart. So after the war, the young man surprised my grandmother by showing up on her doorstep. He told her who he was. They hugged, and he humbly asked her to forgive him. Then, and only then, could his heart rest in peace. Here in Hebrews 9, the Hebrew preacher gets at a powerful truth about the human conscience: Our sins cannot be forgiven and our hearts purified from afar. We need face to face, heart to heart access to God. That's what Jesus, our High Priest provides. Today, we'll learn how Jesus brings us right into the Holy Presence of God, and what he accomplishes for us when we get there. We'll learn what it takes to cleanse a human conscience.


November 10:

 Hebrews 9:11-15

"The Power of a Purified Conscience"


Last week we discovered that it takes coming into the presence of a Holy God to purify our consciences. Today, we'll go deeper into what it takes to remain in God's holy presence so that the purification isn't just another temporary fix. Real, lasting purity comes as we develop a dynamic relationship with the holy God we worship. This is how we receive our eternal inheritance: a purified conscience leads to a holy purpose and holy deeds: deeds that become our new offerings to our Master who sits at God's right hand: sacrifices that become powerful tools in the hands of Jesus to build His Kingdom. What does human life lived in constant awareness of the holy presence of a holy God look like? Turns out it's the most beautiful, exciting, life-giving way to spend our days. Gone are the days of rote, dead obedience to regulations. The days of new life have come! Holy life! Eternal life! Life that is infused with holy purpose and power!

 

November 17:

Hebrews 9:15-28

“The Purpose of the Blood”


After showing us the high and holy aim of Christ's sacrifice on the cross: the tearing of the curtain, the opening of the heart of God to the hearts of his people, resulting in our liberation and purification from sin and adoption as God's children, now the Hebrew teacher reminds us why it's all necessary in the first place. Some folks think the necessity of the cross is primitive theology: that sacrifice and blood are horrific holdovers from an ancient, outdated way to win God's favor. I do not agree. Even though we cannot process and understand it in the same as the Hebrew people, the shed blood of Jesus is an essential chapter in the story of our salvation. Today, we will seek to discover why this is so, what's really at stake here, and why the atoning blood of Christ is necessary. Sin is serious business. It's not just the act of being untrue to ourselves and hurtful in our actions towards others. Sin is an offense against the Moral Law of God. The God who spoke us into being does not allow us to determine for ourselves the terms of our payment of this debt. Being a "good person" according to our own definition will not suffice. We must offer ourselves to God on His terms. His terms include the cross: Jesus took up his cross willingly. Now God calls us to humble ourselves, receive forgiveness on his terms, and take up our cross as well. If we want the cross to speak to modern minds, we must help people see that the mind of God is higher and holier than our own. As such, His terms of deliverance from sin are much more preferable and effective than our own.

      

November 24:

Hebrews 10:1-4, 11-18

"A Gift For which to be Truly Thankful"


This week we gather together with our families to offer thanksgiving to God for the blessings of home, health, provision, and freedom. These are all blessings for which we should always be grateful to God. But what about God's greatest blessing of all? On this Thanksgiving Sunday, the writer of the letter to the Hebrews reminds us of God's greatest gift: The ultimate, once and for all answer to our guilt and shame: Christ's self-giving sacrifice establishes the terms of the new Covenant: terms of love, terms of grace, terms that transform human hearts and put the power of shame and guilt to bed forever. Today, God will once again give us the opportunity to lay our bondage at the feet of Jesus and we will receive His most precious gift, freedom. That's a gift for which to be truly thankful.



 

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