The general theme of Chapter 9 is the same as the two preceding chapters – showing that Christ as High Priest is superior to the Jewish high priests. The more focused point here in Chapter 9 is – that the former dispensation was a mere shadow, type or figure, – and that latter dispensation was real and efficacious. Verse 14 “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot (as a perfect sacrifice, without sin) to God, purge your conscience from dead works (works of the unsaved are worthless) to serve the living God (the believer is freed from sin to serve the living God)?” When Christ entered the Most Holy Place, He did so to offer His own blood once and for all time – making future sacrifices unnecessary. This is what Jesus meant by His dying words on the cross: “It is finished.” Only by accepting Jesus’ blood – shed on the cross for the remission of sins – can we stand before God covered in the righteousness of Christ. Verse 15 “And for this cause he (Christ) is the mediator of the new testament (new covenant), that by means of death (by offering Himself as a sacrifice), for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament (to redeem us from personal sins which remain upon us when we lived by the law), they which are called (who believe on Christ) might receive the promise of eternal inheritance (joint-heirs with Christ in heaven).”
We end Chapter 9 with an interesting passage, Verse 27 “And as it is appointed unto men once to do die, but after this the judgment.” I have heard even Christians say, they would consider re-incarnation to be an option after death. Reincarnation is a Hindu belief that teaches the rebirth of a person’s soul into a new body – be it human or animal. That is NOT a biblical teaching. Paul teaches in Verse 27, that we die – only once. And after that- we are judged by God.
Chapter 10:14-17 “For by one offering (sacrifice) he (Christ) hath perfected (He provided a way for believers to be made righteous by and through His shed blood) for ever them that are sanctified (made holy). Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he (Christ) had said before (in the past, as recorded in Jeremiah 31:33-34), This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days (after the Law of Moses), saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.”
Now, from Verse 18 of Chapter 10, to the end of Chapter 12, the writer of Hebrews begins to petition his readers toward unrelenting faith in Christ. The passages are outstanding in their clarity of what it means to be a Christian and that our relationship with Christ is all predicated upon faith in Him alone. Verses 18-22 “Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. Having therefore, brethren, boldness (confidence) to enter into the holiest (Holy of Holies) by the blood of Jesus (because of His Atonement), By a new and living way (Christ), which he hath consecrated (prepared) for us, through the veil (when the temple veil was torn in two), that is to say, his flesh (His sacrifice). And having an high priest over the house (kingdom) of God; Let us draw near (approach God) with a true heart (sincere heart) in full assurance (confidence) of faith, having our hearts sprinkled (cleansed by the blood of Christ) from an evil (guilty) conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water (not water baptism, but the Holy Spirit’s purifying by means of the Word of God).”
The Prophet Ezekiel, tapping into this imagery and into the time when God would change His people from the heart said: Ezekiel 36:25-26 “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you (referring to the Holy Spirit), and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.”
Back to Hebrews 10:23-24 “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith (what we claim to believe) without wavering; (for he (God) is faithful (reliable) that promised (promised salvation)😉 And let us consider one another to provoke (encourage) unto love and to good works:” Good advice for any Christian.
This next chapter in Hebrews contains one of the most important and most beautifully taught sermons about faith anywhere in scripture. Up to this point in our study of Hebrews, the writer has been telling them to “cling to your faith.” And, now Paul goes on to a whole treatise on the topic of faith. 11:1 “Now faith is the substance (the assurance, the confidence) of things hoped for, the evidence (the proof) of things not seen.” True faith is not based on empirical evidence, but on divine assurance. The writer is going to move on into this chapter and give us several illustrations of faith.
We realize that some people in performance-based, works-based religions will try to reach God through works, laws, and ordinances. The Hebrew converts here were among these. But Paul wrote in Galatians 3:11-12 “But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.” Do we realize what this is saying? There is nothing that will justify a man in the sight of God than faith – nothing! No obedience, no ritual, no obedience of holy living, no health codes, no donated money, no temple attendance. We cannot think that we can go before God and offer up anything other than our faith in His Son that will justify us before Him. Nothing! The justified shall live by faith alone. Contextually, the writer of Hebrews goes to great lengths to show that there is power in faith to not only justify us before God – but to keep us from straying from the faith.
Every single example the writer is going to give us in Chapter 11 pays homage to those who had come before and trusted in the things – or the promises – of God. It pleases God when we can see the relation of faith and action. We know that actions can be taken faithlessly. And God can readily see that. It’s called religion or man-pleasing. But when faith is the motivation behind action – we not only please God – we are justified in His eyes. All we need to do is look at Cain and Abel to see that action can come – but faith was absent from one and present with the other. Hebrews 11:3 “Through faith we understand that the worlds (the physical universe) were framed (created) by the word of God (God’s divine utterance – not through priesthood power), so that things which are seen (God’s creations) were not made of things which do appear (were not created by powers which are visible to man).” Verse 6 gives us the reason why faith is essential to salvation, “But without faith it is impossible to please him (to become acceptable to God): for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Do we diligently seek Him? Are you a truth seeker?
This is where the writer of Hebrews has brought us – to the lives of others who have chosen to walk by faith – and their trials of faith. He begins at the creation and in Verses 4-40, Paul gives examples of Old Testament saints living by faith. Adam and Eve were not mentioned because they HAD walked with God. Their children were the first to exercise faith in the unseen God. Hebrews Chapter 11 has been referred to as the “Hall of Fame of Faith.” Some of the characters cited are obvious choices to mention. While it might surprise us to see the names of others. We won’t read or discuss the reasons Paul talks about these individuals – I’ll leave that to you to take the time – but I will list their names here: Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sara, Joseph, Moses, the harlot Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthae, David, and Samuel. I’ll bet there are some of you who would at least receive an honorable mention by the way you have demonstrated your faith in God. The Old Testament was used as model for the New Covenant Saints – as evidenced by the writer of Hebrews and his appealing to these Old Testament examples.
After saying all of that about faith – now, the writer brings us to Chapter 12:1-2 “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed (surrounded) about with so great a cloud (multitude) of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight (anything which would hold us back like the burden of the law), and the sin (of unbelief) which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race (the Christian life) that is set before us. Looking unto Jesus the author (originator) and finisher (perfecter) of our faith; who for the joy (of persevering and accomplishing the Father’s will) that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame (allowing Himself to be hung like a common criminal), and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God (a position of honor).” There at the right hand of God, empowered with all things – Jesus and Jesus alone – mediates between us and Holy God, that consuming fire of light and love.
We now come to a passage the LDS like to use – to support the idea that we are all spirit children of our Father in Heaven. Hebrews 12:9 “Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh (our mortal fathers) which corrected (disciplined) us, and we gave them reverence (respect): shall we not much rather (shouldn’t we even more) be in subjection unto (in obedience to) the Father of spirits, and live?” God is the father of spirits ONLY in the sense that He is the Creator of each human spirit during the physical conception and development of the human body in the womb. Unlike Jesus who, because He is The Word of God – pre-existed prior to the creation of HIS human body – all other spirits have their origin in the womb. Our pre-existence, as pictured in the man Adam, was only in the form of a lump of clay before God breathed His life into us – creating a spirit within us. It says in Zechariah 12:1 “Thus says the Lord, who stretches out the heavens, lays the foundation of the earth, and FORMS THE SPIRIT OF MAN WITHIN HIM.” The spirit was not formed before-hand. This forming of the spirit within man and woman takes place at conception. We are the result of God’s creation – not procreation. It should be noted that this passage DOES NOT say that God is the Father of “OUR” spirits, which may be significant given that the same verse refers to the fathers of “our” flesh. Verse 9 says, He is “the Father OF spirits” not the Father of OUR spirits. In a similar way, God is referred as the Father in other ways: In James 1:17 as “Father of lights,” in 2 Corinthians 1:3 as the “Father of mercies,” and in Ephesians 1:17 as the “Father of glory.” Jesus even told the Pharisees in John 8:44 “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lust of your father ye will do.” So, we need to make certain we are interpreting scripture in light of scripture and in the proper context.
I’ll wrap up our study of Hebrews by emphasizing that there is nothing from the Old Testament that can presently benefit us – that in its purity, the Old Covenant God made with Israel served a beautiful purpose. But once Jesus Christ came – our final and perfect High Priest – all rites, and rituals, and ordinances were nailed to His cross (see Colossians 2:14). God has now written His laws upon our minds and hearts. And we, as His children – born again believers – have been set free to live our lives by and through the Holy Spirit.
And, this concludes our study of Hebrews. Don’t forget we are on YouTube, iTunes podcast, Spotify podcast, and check out our website at Talking to Mormons.com.
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Until next time, God Bless!