Each year the Southern Baptist Convention, of which our church is a member, holds its annual meeting in some major American city. Representatives from SBC churches across the nation come together to hear the latest news and address current issues facing Southern Baptist churches. One of the major activities of these meetings is to draft and vote on formal resolutions which generally express the position of the SBC on certain matters. Typically, the Convention passes around 10 such resolutions each year.
These resolutions are always written in the same format. They begin by stating certain truths, such as Biblical principles or commands, proven research or statistics, and/or other known facts related to the topic at hand. Then, have presented these as a foundation, the resolution concludes with 1 or more statements which express the positions and/or intentions of the Convention on the particular issue being addressed.
During its 2019 meeting this past summer in Birmingham, Alabama, the SBC approved resolutions on several topics including “Sexual Abuse”, “Church Accountability”, “Racism”, “Personal Identity”, and “Abortion”. These and other resolutions from past years can be found online at the Convention’s website. Through these statements, the Southern Baptist Convention expresses its stance on the moral and political issues of our day.
The message this morning is titled “A Better Way”. It is the 20th sermon in our series through the book of Hebrews. The passage we will examine today brings closure to the arguments that have been presented in chapters 7-10. It is written in the form of a resolution, similar to those we’ve discussed above. It encourages believers to do certain things and make certain commitments in response to the undeniable truths of God’s Word.
I. SINCE WE HAVE (v19-21)
The writer begins these verses with the word “Therefore”. He is referring back to the teachings of the previous chapters. He mentions the “blood of Jesus” which was shed on the cross when Christ gave His life as an offering to atone for the sins of mankind. Jesus’ blood is powerful enough to cleanse the conscience by washing away sins and sufficient for covering all sins for all time for all people. Jesus’ sacrificial death made forgiveness for and justification of repentant sinners possible.
Furthermore, because Jesus is a great “priest over the house of God” all Christians now have direct access to God through Him. Redeemed believers may enter into “the holy place” - ie, God’s presence - with confidence because Christ has “inaugurated” this “new and living way”. Jesus approached God on behalf of sinners when they couldn’t do so themselves in order to bring about restoration and reconciliation of the relationship between man and God.
II. LET US DRAW NEAR (v22)
Christians should value and appreciate their access to God. They should take advantage of it by coming to the LORD with every question and burden of life. Because God is holy and perfect, He does not permit the entry of sinful people into His presence. Through Jesus, however, believers have “hearts” that are “sprinkled clean” and “bodies” that are “washed with pure water” so that they might approach God in righteousness. This is a remarkable truth that should never be taken for granted!
Just as presenting oneself before the Lord is important, but so also is the attitude in which it is done. Not only should Christians draw near to God frequently, but they should do so with “a sincere heart” and “in full assurance of faith”. Those who have been redeemed should approach the LORD honestly and forthrightly. They should do so with confidence - not in themselves but in God. He doesn’t begrudge their presence, but rather delights in it!
III. LET US HOLD FAST (v23)
Those who have been born again should stand firm on their convictions and their “confession” of Jesus as the Christ. They should be steadfast “without wavering” because the Lord is “faithful”. Far too many professing Christians have a wishy-washy faith that is weak and anemic. They lack the courage necessary to confront the evils of this world and the resolve to remain faithful to Jesus in every circumstance. They are quick to abandon their beliefs when the going gets tough.
As noted several months ago when this series began, many of these Hebrews Christians were seriously considering forsaking their newfound faith and reverting back to Judaism. Some had already done so because of the increasing persecution against them. This book was written in order to explain the superiority of Jesus over their former religion and traditions while encouraging them to remain faithful and committed to Him.
IV. LET US CONSIDER HOW (v24-25)
The children of God should spur one another “to love and good deeds”. As His family, believers should “encourage” and support each other as they work together in unity to exalt and advance the wonderful name of Jesus. There are many adversarial people and forces in this world that constantly seek to tear Christians down. Thus, it is critical for the Lord’s followers to build each other up and bolster one another’s faith and practice.
Christians must understand the importance of “assembling together” regularly. Such gatherings are the main avenue through which they “stimulate” one another, develop relationships, and grow in the image of the Lord. Sadly, many do not recognize the great value of frequent church attendance and have forsaken this once-treasured exercise. Instead of meeting less, born again believers should be meeting “all the more” as the return of the Lord approaches.
Let’s end today’s message by presenting this passage in the form of an official resolution. As a matter of fact, let’s recite it together as a congregation. May these words express our sincere, heartfelt commitment to God.
SINCE WE HAVE a Savior, Jesus Christ, who offered Himself as the all-sufficient sacrifice for man’s sin, and
SINCE WE HAVE a Great High Priest, Jesus Christ, who reigns supremely over the house of God, then
LET US draw near to the LORD frequently and fervently, not discounting the privileged access we have to Him through Christ, and
LET US hold fast to our convictions and stand firm on our beliefs, not forsaking the One in whom our faith is grounded, and
LET US encourage and support one another, and regularly assemble ourselves together to worship, fellowship, and serve Almighty God.
Jesus has blazed a trail for us. We can walk this path with God in confidence, boldness, and unity. He has made a better way!