Captured And Captivated By Christ: Hebrews 9:15-28 – The Promised Eternal Inheritance

Grace For The Journey

We are in Hebrews chapter 9 this morning as we are studying our way, verse-by-verse through marvelous Book.  Yesterday we studied the first half of chapter 9, verses 1 through 14 where the writer talks about the old Covenant system we read about in the Old Testament.   A few days ago we reviewed some of the Covenants which we read about in the Bible. 

A Covenant describes the way

God relates to His people

And the way His people

Are to relate to God.

God determines the terms and conditions of the covenant, not man.  God is the Creator and He is Sovereign and He sets the ground rules. 

The word “covenant” is often used interchangeably with the word “testament.”  We noted that the Old Testament is not itself the old Covenant, but that the Old Testament contains the old Covenant.  The old Covenant is the Covenant God handed down through Moses when God’s people gathered at Mount Sinai.  

There are other Covenants described in the Old Testament.  The very first one is generally described as “a Covenant of works.”  This Covenant was established in Genesis chapters 1-3, where we read of God’s creating Adam and Eve and, after creating them, God said, “Here is what you are to do and what you are not to do,” which included the command: “Don’t eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  If you eat of that tree, you will surely die.”  But Adam disobeyed and brought sin into the world.

By Genesis 3 mankind is in huge trouble.  How can man hope to be saved from the consequences of sin and have life?  This is where the next covenant comes in – from Genesis 3 all the way through Revelation.  This covenant is called “the Covenant of Grace.”  We need to think of this Covenant as an umbrella that encompasses all the other Covenants beneath it. 

The Covenant of Grace is God’s

Choosing to relate to His people

In a way they do not deserve.

That is what grace means; getting something you do not deserve. 

God’s Covenant of Grace is God’s fix

For the broken Covenant of works

By Adam in the Garden.

It puts believing sinners into right relationship with their Creator through faith in Jesus Christ.

I thought you might appreciate this from The Baptist Confession of Faith 1689.  A Confession of Faith is a summary of what people believe.  This Baptist Confession originated in London and eventually made its way across the Atlantic as the primary confession of Baptists whose roots are in English Puritanism.  Charles Spurgeon – the great Baptist preacher – had the confession reprinted in 1855 to give to members of his congregation.  From Section 7: “God’s Covenant,” the confession states: “… as man had brought himself under the curse of the law by his fall, it pleased the Lord to make a covenant of grace.  In this covenant He freely offers to sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ, requiring from them faith in Him that they may be saved, and promising to give to all who are appointed to eternal life His Holy Spirit to make them willing and able to believe.”

This covenant is revealed through the Gospel; first of all to Adam in the promise of salvation by the seed of the woman, and afterwards by further steps until the full revelation of it became complete in the New Testament.  So God’s people – whether living in Old Testament times or New Testament times – are all saved the same way.  Whether God’s people lived before Jesus died on the cross or after Jesus died on the cross, God’s people are all saved the same way: not by works; not a covenant of works, but by a Covenant of Grace, the condition of which is faith – and even faith itself is a gracious gift from God.  Old Testament believers looked forward in faith to a Christ who would come.  Believers like us living in New Testament times look back by faith to a Christ who has come.  But all are saved by grace through faith.

The writer will go on in Chapter 11 and talk about all of God’s people who were saved by faith.  He will start with Adam and Eve’s son, Abel.  He will say in verse 4 of Chapter 11, “By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous …”  All of God’s people are all saved the same way, not by works, but by grace through faith in God’s provision for perfect atonement and forgiveness, Jesus Christ.

The writer’s main point in the first part of Chapter 9 here is that the old covenant given under Moses, that Covenantal system with the tabernacle, priests, and animal sacrifices was a way of worship that could not finally take away sin and give the worshiper a clean conscience.  He will go on to say very explicitly in the next chapter, Chapter 10, verse 4: “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.”  Why then have all of those animal sacrifices?  Why were animals killed by the high priest who then took blood from the sacrifice and put it on the top of the ark of the covenant, the mercy seat?  Why did God set it up this way?

One of the main things God is teaching is that sin is costly.  Sin against a holy God requires a penalty.  And the penalty is death.  When an animal was killed it was a way of teaching that something costly is required for forgiveness, for atonement.  This teaching about the costliness of sin was reinforced every single time an animal’s blood was shed.  Leviticus 17:11 declares, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.’”  The blood symbolized that death has occurred.  The death of the victim, the sacrifice, represents the yielding of life on behalf of others.

What we have been reading in the previous verses is that these animal sacrifices were a temporary means by which sinners were enabled to approach God.  They did not take away sin in any complete sense.  They were temporarily effective in enabling sinners to come to God.  Animal sacrifices could provide only external, ceremonial purity that lasted a short while – until the worshiper sinned again!  For this reason, under the old Covenant sinners could never be sure of God’s absolute forgiveness.  Believes in Old Testament times did not enjoy the fuller appreciation for Christ’s death on the cross that we enjoy today.

The Old Testament animal sacrifices and Levitical offerings were a foreshadowing of a greater, more complete sacrifice to come.  The old Covenant of yesterday anticipated the new Covenant of today.  Belief in Christ’s life and death on our behalf results not in mere external purity, but inward purity, too. 

The value of the animal sacrifices

Was that they pointed up the

Need for a perfect sacrifice.

Given the incomplete and imperfect nature of animals sacrifices and the need for continual animal sacrifices, it is not hard to imagine an Israelite saying to himself, “Wouldn’t it be great to have a perfect sacrifice – like a lamb who takes away the sin of the world?!”  Christ’s blood cleanses us both externally and internally, putting away sin and cleansing our conscience, removing the guilt and condemnation, allowing us to live and worship in freedom!

Verse 15 is the key verse to the entire passage. In fact, I have taken today lesson title from verse 15.  Get verse 15 down and you can pretty well understand the remainder of chapter 9.  Verse 15 declares, “And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.”

This phrase “the promise of the eternal inheritance” suggests all kinds of blessings and reward in heaven.  Interestingly, however, the writer of Hebrews is not concerned to enumerate all the many wonders and joys of heaven in this passage.  What he does, however, is . . .

Describe the greatest and most wondrous aspect

Of the Christian’s promised eternal inheritance,

What he describes in verse 15 as “the redemption

Of the transgressions under the first covenant”

And then again in verse 26 where he talks about

Christ’s “putting away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.”

This suggests that, of all the wonders and joys included in the Christian’s eternal inheritance – all the things we hope to have in heaven like mansions and streets of gold, and banquets and fellowship . . .

None are more wonderful

Nor more valuable than

The joy of knowing that

Our sins and transgressions

Have been “put away.”

 This is our greatest need . . .

Christ’s mediatory work on our behalf,

Christ’s saving work on the cross for

Our sins that we who believe may have eternal life.

Praise God for the Promised Eternal Inheritance!  Let’s look at why it is so valuable and necessary . . .

It Comes Through A Superior Covenant – Verse 15-22.

In verse 15, the writer starts off by saying, “And for this reason …”  This phrase points back to the work of Christ through the new Covenant.  The writer describes Jesus here as “the Mediator of the new covenant.”  He is not a mediator in the modern sense of the word as in heads of state getting together for a summit, someone mediating between the two parties, leading each side to compromise in one way or other to come to an agreement.  God is on one side and man is on the other. 

Man does not dictate the

Terms of the covenant!

And

God does not compromise!

But . . .

In the case of the new Covenant,

God takes up our slack by coming

To us and mediating a new covenant,

Making a way for us to be reconciled to Him!

The writer goes on to say the Covenant comes to us “by means of death,” Christ’s death on the cross “for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant.” 

Jesus’ work on the cross

Applies in two directions

– Both backward and forward –

Those living in our day

Look back to the cross,

And those living in

Old Testament times

looked forward. 

Those who lived before Christ

Needed to be redeemed

From the transgressions

Under the first covenant. 

They needed atonement,

They needed someone to

Pay the cost of their sin

And purchase them back

From what their sins deserved.

Christ’s death on the cross is for believers both looking forward in faith and backward in faith.  But the application of Christ’s redemption is to believers.  You have to believe.   That is why the writer refers to “those who are called” in verse 15.  Do you see that?  “Those who are called” are believers whom God has called to Himself.  Remember that . . .

In our salvation it is God

Who takes the initiative. 

We are spiritually dead and

Need to be made alive. 

God makes the first move,

Coming to us in the

Regenerating power

Of the Holy Spirit,

Calling us to Himself,

Convicting us of our sin,

Awakening faith in us

To believe in Christ. 

Praise God!

In verse 16, the writer illustrates how the new Covenant is like a last will and testament, “For where there is a testament(or, will), there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.  The writer is illustrating how the new Covenant is like our understanding of a last will and testament.  Someone makes out a will.  It says who gets what.  It is authorized legally, but it is not in effect until the one who makes the will dies.  That is the testator.  When the testator dies, the executor of the will reads the will and says, “Okay, here is what the testator says about the inheritance.  Here is who gets what.”

Verse 17 says, “For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives.”  The will is “in force” only “after men are dead …”  That makes sense, doesn’t it?  A person receiving an inheritance does not inherit it until the death of the testator.

Verse 18 states, “Therefore not even the first covenant was dedicated without blood.”  The first covenant is detailed in Exodus 24.  The Mosaic covenant was ratified by the sprinkling of blood.  This is the main point.   We do not want to get lost in the details, but the main point is that the Covenant was ratified with blood.

Verses 19 and 20 declares, “For when Moses had spoken every precept (or, command) to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water, scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people.  Saying, ‘This is the blood of the covenant which God has commanded you.’”  Again the main point was that the covenant was ratified or sanctioned and authorized with blood.

Verses 21 and 22 state, “Then likewise he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry.  And according to the law almost all things are purified (or, cleansed)with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission(or, forgiveness)We noted earlier this statement from Leviticus 17:11, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.’”  The writer is making the point that the first Covenant, the old Covenant, the Covenant of Moses, was ratified or sanctioned with the blood of sacrifice.  Someone had to die. 

The shedding of blood

Points to the death of

The animal and the

Yielding of life on

Behalf of the believer.

And the writer is arguing that just as the old Covenant was not effective without the shedding of blood, so the new Covenant requires the shedding of blood.  Just as a last will and testament requires the death of the testator before it becomes effectual, so the death of Jesus Christ is necessary if anyone is to have any hope of an inheritance.

The inheritance that comes by way of the new Covenant is an eternal inheritance.   Unlike the old Covenant – which was temporary and incomplete – the new Covenant is the bequest of an eternal inheritance, praise God!  

Praise God the Christian’s promised eternal inheritance comes through a superior Covenant!   Secondly, the Christian’s promised eternal inheritance is of such value that . . .

2) It Cost The Sacrifice Of Christ – Verses 23-26.

Verse 23 says, “Therefore it was necessary that the copies of the things in the heavens should be purified (or, cleansed)with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.”  We looked yesterday at pictures of all the things having to do with the earthly tabernacle, all “copies of the things in the heavens.”  The writer is saying that all these copies required purification through blood in order to adequately mirror the blood Christ shed for us on the cross.  The one sacrifice of Christ was so grand and so effectual that it required a whole host of copies from an earthly perspective.

Verse 24 states, “For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies(or, representations) of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.”  The word used for “presence” is literally, “face.”  This is a word that suggests something of communication with the Son of God in the face of God the Father.  Where no earthly priest could go, the Son of God goes – into the very presence of God face-to-face.  The effectiveness of His sacrifice right there before the Father’s face, right there before His eyes, for all eternity!

Verse 25 says, “Not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another.”  Remember the earthly high priest had to offer a sacrifice and take its blood into the earthly holy of holies.  He did this “often” entering repeatedly, “every year,” and he could enter only by himself “with blood of another.”  The writer says, “Not Jesus!”  He does not offer many sacrifices of Himself – which would be odd, wouldn’t it?!

Verse 26 declares, “He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.”  Jesus enters into the holy of holies – not the earthly copy, but the actual holy of holies in heaven – and He enters not with the blood of bulls and goats but with His own blood, offering Himself.  And He remains there right now.  But unlike the earthly high priest who went alone.  Jesus stands in the presence of the Father with those who are united with Him by faith.  

After Jesus said, “It is finished,” the curtain separating the Holy of Holies from the worshipper, tore from top to bottom symbolizing access to God in the heavens, and Jesus went behind the veil, that heavenly veil and appeared in the presence of the Father, His Covenant work now ratified by the Father.  And Jesus stands there in the very presence of God and Hebrews 2:6 says, “Here am I and the children whom God has given Me.”

Remember that the writer’s main reason for writing this letter is to encourage the Hebrew Christians to stick with it.  Don’t go back to the old covenant!  It’s over!  If you’re trying to live according to the old covenant you’re living according to something that was meant to point you to real life in Christ.  Without Christ, you have no life!!

Going back to the old covenant would be like a man trying to have a relationship with a paper picture of his wife instead of with his real, living, breathing wife!  Without Christ, you’ve got nothing—nothing but shadows, copies, and pointers.

Someone says, “Well, that’s all fine and good for people raised in old covenant worship with Hebrew teachings and all that.  I’m not interested in any of that.”  

Fair enough, but do you understand the wider application of this truth?  There is no real life in anything other than Jesus Christ!  Without Christ, you’ve got nothing—whether you were raised in old covenant Judaism, 21st Century paganism, modern secular humanism, or any other “ism,” religion, cult, or philosophy.  In Christ alone our hope is found!

At the right time, now, at the end of the ages.  Like Galatians 4:4, “…in the fullness of time…God sent forth His Son…”

“…He has appeared to put away sin…”  To annul it.  To do away with it forever.  All who believe have their sins annulled, nullified, put away.

Jesus Christ’s perfect sacrifice assures us that all of our sins are forgiven.  All!  We have eternal security in Christ because the eternal Son purchased an eternal redemption.  Our inheritance is secure—eternally—in the eternal Christ.  

The sacrifice of Christ.  The cost of our promised eternal inheritance.  The blood of Christ shed for us.  Full atonement, full “putting away of sin” at the cost of Christ’s sacrificial death. 

This is what inspired the hymn-writer who marveled:

Bearing shame and scoffing rude,

In my place condemned He stood;

Sealed my pardon with His blood.

Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Guilty, vile, and helpless we;

Spotless Lamb of God was He;

“Full atonement!” can it be?

Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Praise God the Christian’s promised eternal inheritance comes through a superior covenant, a covenant made possible by the sacrifice of Christ.  It comes through a superior covenant, it cost the sacrifice of Christ, thirdly:

  1. It Culminates in the Second Coming (27-28)

The last two verses of chapter 9, verses 27 and 28 both look forward beyond our present history, looking forward to the day of man’s reckoning and the day of Christ’s return.  Verse 27: “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment?”

Why does man “die once?”  Why is it appointed?  It goes back to that first sin of our first parents, Adam and Eve.  When Adam sinned, we sinned.  Just as a believer is “in Christ,” so we once were “in Adam.”  We are united in Adam, the head of all humanity.  When he sinned, we sinned with him in and fell with him in that first transgression.  That’s why we die. 

It is appointed for men to die once, and then after this “the judgment,” man’s day of reckoning.  The day of judgment comes sometime after we die.  The writer does not say exactly when.  His point is simply to say that the day will come when we die and stand before God to given an accounting for our lives.  The only way we can hope to stand before God without fear is to be standing in Christ!  Knowing that we have been forgiven of all sin, that it really has been “put away.”

Incidentally here, you will note that this verse obliterates any notion of reincarnation.  We don’t die and come back again to live another life.  It is appointed for men to die once.  The emphasis is on once.  Just as Christ—verse 28—“was offered once,” not repeatedly.  Once.  The Bible does not teach reincarnation.

Nor does the Bible offer any hope of a so-called “second chance” to believe in Christ after death; as though a person could die without Christ, but then after death he or she is given a “second-chance” to believe in Jesus and be saved.  No, the Bible does not teach this.  It is appointed for men to die once, “but after this the judgment.”  Note the sequence: Death, then judgment.

If you don’t know Christ now, trust in Him now.  Believe in Him now.  As the writer of Hebrews says on numerous occasions: “Today if you here His voice, don’t harden your heart.”  Repent!  Turn from your sin and turn to Him.  Believe in Him!

Believe in the One who “was offered to bear the sins of many,” to as many who believe in His name.  He died once.  But He will appear a second time.  He will come again as verse 28 says, “So Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.”

The writer is talking about salvation in the fullest sense, the future tense of salvation.  Remember we can speak of salvation in three tenses: past, present, and future.  Christians can say “I have been saved, I am being saved, and I will be saved.”  I have been saved from sin’s penalty, I am being saved from sin’s power, and I will be saved one day when Christ returns and I enter into the final state of salvation, glorification, I will be saved on that day from sin’s very presence. 

He’s coming again.  He’s coming “to those who eagerly wait for Him.”  What does a person look like who is “eagerly waiting for Him to appear a second time?”  What does that look like?  Do you look like that?  We will see Christ—every one of us.  We will either see Him in joy or we will stand before Him in shame.  Are you ready?

Nearly every time I preach a funeral I’ll say something like this: “You know, one day there will be a service much like this for every one of us.”  That’s essentially what verse 27 is saying.  It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.  Are you ready for that day?

RESPONSE: “Hallelujah, What a Savior!”

“Man of Sorrows!” what a name

For the Son of God, who came

Ruined sinners to reclaim.

Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Bearing shame and scoffing rude,

In my place condemned He stood;

Sealed my pardon with His blood.

Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Guilty, vile, and helpless we;

Spotless Lamb of God was He;

“Full atonement!” can it be?

Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Lifted up was He to die;

“It is finished!” was His cry;

Now in Heav’n exalted high.

Hallelujah! What a Savior!

When He comes, our glorious King,

All His ransomed home to bring,

Then anew His song we’ll sing:

Hallelujah! What a Savior!

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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