Hebrews 10 is another chapter people use to deny the doctrine of Eternal Security (OSAS). Are they right, or have they misinterpreted the writer’s intentions? We take an in depth look and see what it really says.
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Okay then, in this session we’re going to take Hebrews 10. Hebrews 10 is one of those chapters that people who try and deny the doctrine of eternal security like to point to as evidence that you can lose your salvation.
As we’ll see when we go through here, that requires you take part of the chapter out of context in order to make that position. In fact, it requires that you lift a couple of verses directly out of the passage and take them all alone, all by themselves.
Because a lot of people don’t study the Bible very much, this kind of, what I’ll call sloppy scholarship, passes. Because, you hear somebody who has some authority, you hear him say something, and because we don’t have the background to understand that what he’s saying isn’t really what the Scripture meant to say, we take the other person’s word for it.
That’s a violation, by the way, of Acts 17:11 where Paul told all of us to receive the Word with readiness of heart, but to search the Scriptures to see whether those things be true. And see, this is where we fall down; we don’t do our homework, we don’t look at the Scripture for ourselves. We depend on somebody else to tell us what it means. And, by the way, this includes me. I don’t want you to depend on me, either. I want you to do what Paul told us to do in Acts 17 and that is to receive the Word, but then search the Scriptures to see if those things be true.
Because, this is the important thing; this is something that literally, your life depends upon.
And so, as we get into this passage, I want to remind you of a couple of things that we have, I think, learned by now in our studies together, and the first thing is, the Bible is the Word of God. That’s a simple sentence but other people don’t always see it that way.
Some people think the Bible contains the Word of God. And by implication, that means it also contains other things—and so, parts of the Bible are the Word of God therefore and parts of the Bible are not. Some people think there’s more spirituality in the New Testament than there is in the Old. Some people think that the Bible was written for another time, and when we’re reading it, we are reading about a time that is past; it applied to people back then but not necessarily to us.
You’ll hear this said in many quarters in the Church today that the Bible needs to be reinterpreted to be more consistent with the times in which we live. And so, that means the Bible is not a timeless document but it’s one that has to be reinterpreted all the time in order to keep up with us, let’s say, because it was written in the first century; that was twenty centuries ago and therefore it’s kind of out of date for us to be thinking of some of those things in the way that they are actually written. And so, we need to have somebody reinterpret that for us to bring us up to date, in other words, so that we can understand what it really means.
The simple fact of the matter is, in this study we subscribe to the idea that the Bible is the Word of God. It is not just partly His and partly somebody else’s. It doesn’t contain it—it is it. And it’s timeless.
The Word of God is timeless because God Himself is timeless. He doesn’t say things that go out of date. There’s no expiration date on the Ten Commandments for example, and so they’re still in effect today. They didn’t expire without anybody looking. And the rest of the Bible is the same way. There is no expiration date on these things that the Bible says.
Also, we believe that the Bible is inspired. In other words, these forty or so writers who wrote the Bible, they were getting messages from the Holy Spirit as they were writing. He was sort of guiding and directing them in their writing, telling them what to write.
And because that is the case, because the Bible is the inspired Word of God, here’s the main point: it can’t contradict itself. God doesn’t say one thing over here and something else over there. He doesn’t give you part of the story in one area and then you have to go searching for detail to find the rest of the story somewhere else. When He says something, He means that, and He means it as He says it.
And so, you don’t find contradictions in the Bible. You don’t find contradictions between Peter and Paul and John and the other guys, they didn’t all put just their own thoughts and ideas into this. They put the ideas of the Holy Spirit. They were commissioned by Him and they wrote the words that God told them to write. And therefore, it’s all consistent.
Now, here’s what that means to us: if we find an area that looks like it’s inconsistent, we have to understand that that’s not God’s problem. It’s our problem, okay? If we find a passage that we think contradicts another passage, it doesn’t mean that God contradicted Himself, it means that we have not understood the passage correctly. Because a correct understanding of every passage will make it compatible with every other passage.
And so, we don’t have to figure out. We don’t have to read one thing and then say, “Oh but that’s more fully understood over here and it changes the meaning of what was said over there.” No, it doesn’t happen that way.
And so, the Bible is the Word of God. These writers wrote through His inspiration; they wrote His words; they wrote what He wanted them to say and the message is consistent. If we find a verse that seems to contradict or modify God’s promise that we’re saved unconditionally, it means that we’ve misunderstood that verse. It doesn’t mean that God changed His mind about it, or clarified it, or explained it in greater detail. It means that we have misunderstood, period.
Otherwise, His Word can’t be trusted, and we’d have to go through every single promise that He made and look for other areas where He might have changed, or modified, or even contradicted that promise. Do you understand? Somebody said there are seven thousand promises in the Bible. We’d have to go through every one of those seven thousand and read the whole Bible in the context of that promise to see if it was ever withdrawn, expired, contradicted, or rendered null and void by something else.
Now, where would that leave us? That would leave us hopelessly confused. And who, by the way, is the author of confusion? It’s not God! And so, if we’re confused about a passage, we know that that confusion hasn’t come from God. It has come from somewhere else, and it is our job to figure it out. He’s put everything here; we have to look at it from the context of what He is trying to tell us in an overall view, and how does this particular passage support that overall view.
That’s the kind of stuff we’re going to get into tonight. And so, we’d better get started because even though we’re only going to do one chapter here, we have some time constraints that we’ll have to be aware of and watch for.
I want to get the whole thing in tonight, so we’ll go pretty fast. As usual we’ll hold the questions until the end, and you can jot them down if you need to and we will take them at the end of the session.
So, for that let’s go into Hebrews 10:1:
The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves.
Now, you remember this passage, this sentence, was written in 35 A.D. What, about two, three years after the cross. And so, when this writer says, “the good things that are coming” you understand, nobody knew much about the Church, yet. Nobody.
You know, Paul hadn’t come along yet, and he didn’t start writing for twenty years. And so, everything was all brand new now, and there wasn’t anything really settled in the minds of men. God knew what was going to happen but there wasn’t anything really settled in the minds of men.
And so, he says:
The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves.
For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship.
Now, in my Bible, I underlined the phrase, “make perfect.” That word perfect is going to be a very important word for us tonight. It’s going to come up several times, and it’s going to come up in places that you might not have seen it. And so, that’s going to be a very important word for us.
First of all, because that is the goal of our relationship with God, correct? That is the goal. We need to be made perfect, otherwise we can’t dwell in the presence of God. And so, it starts all the way back with—we’ll go back and look at this now so I don’t have to cover it later.
It starts all the way back in Matthew 5 in the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus is saying all these things that we should do and shouldn’t do. It’s a fascinating sermon because right near the beginning He tells them that unless their righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the Pharisees, they will certainly not enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Unless their righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the Pharisees, they will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
Now you understand, these were Jewish people in Israel and their belief at the time was that they were made righteous through the Law. And of all the people who demonstrated almost—not almost, an obsessive concern with keeping the Law—the Pharisees were at the top of the list. We read some things about them in the Gospels that aren’t very complimentary to them. But one thing we know, and that is, they kept the Law from the biggest to the smallest detail. They devoted their lives to keeping the Law; they were professional Law keepers. People would go around saying, “I try to be the best I can, but I know I’ll never be as good as one of them.” That was the attitude toward the Pharisees.
The problem was, of course, that they were keeping the Law in order to earn their own righteousness. That was the flaw in their system, wasn’t it? And so, Jesus is saying to the people, “You can’t earn any righteousness by keeping the Law. In fact, even these professionals fall short and they’re your best example. And yet, they fall short. Because, unless your righteousness exceeds theirs, you’ll never get into the Kingdom.”
Now, what’s He saying about the Pharisees at that point? They are never going to get into the Kingdom, okay? Not by keeping the Law, anyway.
Okay, so that’s how what’s called His Sermon on the Mount started. And then He went through proofs of these. He says, for example, you’ve heard you shouldn’t murder anybody. And He says, “Okay. So, you think if you don’t murder anybody, you’re keeping the Law, right?” He says, “I’ll tell you this: if you are ever angry—a little bit angry—with somebody you have broken the Law.” Little bit angry.
He says, “You’ve heard it say you shouldn’t commit adultery. And so, you go around, and you don’t commit adultery and you think you’re keeping the Law.” He says, “I’ll tell you what: if you even ever look at someone with lust in your heart—you’ve broken the commandment.” And it got worse from there. [laughs]
They thought divorce was not a sin; as long as they went through the proper procedures, they thought divorce was not a sin. He said, “No, no, that’s not right. Divorce is a sin.” Now, He didn’t say, by the way, that it’s an unforgivable sin like we believe it is today. He didn’t say that, but He said it is a sin.
This whole thing about divorce in the Gospel of Matthew is Jesus talking to the Jews who believed it was not a sin. They believed that if they went through the proper procedure they could divorce, they could end the marriage, and there would be no consequences and that was the end of it, and they had no more responsibility and they were still righteous before God. And He said, “No. It doesn’t work that way. It’s a sin like any other sin, and you have to treat it like a sin.”
Okay, so then He goes through all of this stuff and then He comes down to verse 48. So, what is the conclusion of this talk on righteousness? He says, “You want to be righteous? You want to do the right thing? You want to be able to get into the Kingdom? Here’s the way you do it.”
Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
That’s the key; that’s what’s going to open the gate for you. Be perfect. And now He’s defined being perfect as never breaking a commandment—never even thinking about it. Never even having the thought. Then you can start to talk about perfection. Never angry with anybody, ever. Never saying anything unkind about anybody, ever. Never look at another person with any form of lust in your heart, ever. Never once, ever. And this is what being perfect means. And He ended that part of His talk about being perfect.
And then He goes on to say, “If you’re going to give to the needy, keep it secret.” And all this stuff—don’t let anybody know what you’re doing. He wants us to be almost obsessive about keeping all these things quiet, because He says, “As soon as they’ve found out on Earth that you’ve done this, you’ve got all the credit you’re ever going to get for it.”
And here were the Pharisees; some of them were wealthy, and then when they came into the temple to give their tithes, they brought people with them with trumpets and they had a fanfare and the trumpets would blow and everybody, of course would stop and look and then they’d drop their big heavy purse into the treasury and it would go “boom!” when it hit the bottom and everybody would applaud and they’d smile.
And He said, “No. Don’t do that. Don’t even let one hand know what the other hand’s doing. Keep it secret. Be obsessive about keeping it secret. Because what you do in secret on Earth will be openly acknowledged by your Father in Heaven.”
Okay, so this goes on and on. We don’t need to get into the Sermon on the Mount because you get the idea. He’s saying, then that the objective here for entry into the Kingdom is achieving perfection.
In Hebrews 1:1 it says:
sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship.
So already we know we’ve got a flawed system here. We talked about this before; we got the blood of sacrifices which is not sufficient. It’s insufficient blood. It’s presented by a priest who is a sinner, in a tabernacle that’s a copy. So, you’ve got three problems with the whole system, right? The blood’s not sufficient, the priest is a sinner, and the sanctuary is a copy.
So, He said, “What we need is perfect blood, presented by a high priest who is not a sinner in the real sanctuary in Heaven.” Of course, that’s what we have. We went through these last couple of chapters. That’s what we have.
In verse 2 it says if this imperfect blood could have taken care of their sins, if it could, would they not have stopped being offered? Because the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins.
So, He said, “If the sacrificial system could work (I mean, we’ve been doing this for two thousand years, He could have said) we’ve been doing this for two thousand years; if it could have worked it would have worked by now, wouldn’t it?”
I mean, after all that long period of time with all those animals? How many animals do you think they sacrificed over two thousand years? If it could have worked, by now it would have worked, and we wouldn’t have to do it anymore.
But, He said, “No.”
But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins. It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said:
“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but a body you prepared for me;
with burnt offerings and sin offerings
you were not pleased.
Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—
I have come to do your will, my God.’”
Now, this is a quote from Psalm 40:6-8 and it speaks of the Messiah. And so, here’s Jesus saying that God didn’t really desire these sacrifices; that wasn’t something He really wanted, and He wasn’t pleased with them. They weren’t the solution to the problem.
Let’s listen to what the writer to Hebrews says in verse 8:
First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them”—though they were offered in accordance with the law. Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.”
And here’s what the writer says about those two verses. He said:
He sets aside the first to establish the second.
He set aside the sacrifices and offerings to establish the fact that He was coming to do God’s will.
I want you to know that that word, will, is a fascinating word. This is one of those places where we all ought to have a Concordance here, and we all ought to be looking up the Greek because you shouldn’t take my word for this. This is too important. So, when you get home you look it up.
When you go into Psalm 40:6-8—and this is a pretty good quote there, even though it appears in the Greek—when you read in the Hebrew the word for will, it is ratzon and it means to do a voluntary favor.
So, when Jesus came to do God’s will, He was doing a voluntary favor. In other words, He didn’t have to do it. Now, who was He doing the favor for? You’re both right! He was doing it at God’s behest, but He was doing it for us. We’re the beneficiaries of it, right? So, He was doing a voluntary favor for us. He didn’t have to do this, you understand. He was not required to do this; He did this voluntarily.
Now there’s one more thing that you’ll notice when you go into the Concordance and you look up the word ratzon. You’ll find it comes from a root word; it’s a derivative of a root word which means to pay a debt. Isn’t that a fascinating thing? The word will—the little four letter word, actually means a voluntary favor to satisfy a debt. Now it’s clear who He’s doing the favor for, isn’t it? And so, when He came to do God’s will, He was doing it voluntarily for the purpose of satisfying our debt.
Okay, now we know what our debt was. Our debt is sin. And it’s that debt that makes us imperfect, right? The sin in us is what makes us imperfect. (Remember I said the word “perfect” would be very important.) So, He’s doing this, He’s paying this debt which has made us imperfect. So, hold that thought for a minute.
First, I want to show you what God’s will is. What was God’s will here? He says, “I have come to do your will.” What was God’s will? What is God’s will? It’s in John 6:37, so if you want to know what God’s will is, you’ll know it. You’ll have this tonight and you’ll always know from now on what God’s will is. People walk around saying, “What’s God’s will? What’s God’s will?”
Well, we’re going to find out. We’re going to start in John 6:37.
John 6:37 says:
All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.
Okay so, here’s what he’s going to say:
And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day.
Now, in case you didn’t understand that, God’s will, in verse 40 says:
For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”
That’s God’s will: everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life. So, if you want eternal life what do you have to do? Believe in Jesus. You have to look to Him and believe in Him.
What that means is, you have to entrust your destiny with Him. You have to rest, as we’ve said before, in what He has done. Because, what we have to do is we have to look to Him and believe in Him. So, we look to Him as the one who did the favor and we believe that what He did was sufficient to pay the debt. Does that make it clear?
Okay. So let’s hold that now and let’s keep on going back into Hebrews.
First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them”—though they were offered in accordance with the law.
You might be saying, “Well if it didn’t do any good, then why did God require it?”
In the Old Covenant, the offering of sacrifices did two things: it set aside the penalty for sin—set it aside temporarily until the Messiah could come and pay the debt because their blood was not sufficient; His was. And so, until He came to pay the debt, sacrificing the innocent animals set the sin aside. It didn’t absolve them of the sin, and it didn’t take them away. It set them aside.
And the second part of the thing was, on the condition that they understood that it symbolized the coming Messiah. Because if they provided the offering but didn’t have the right attitude as they were doing it, it didn’t do them any good.
Sometimes we don’t understand that. The offerings were evidence of their faith in the coming Redeemer. It was evidence in their faith. If they were just going through the motions and just going by the letter of the Law – “You did this, you’ve got to present that.” “Okay, I did this, I’ll present that,” and that’s all there was to it—it didn’t do them any good. They had to do this in faith. I’ll prove this to you. Look at Isaiah 66, last chapter of Isaiah.
I’ll tell you what, let’s get a more complete answer. Let’s keep going to your left to Isaiah 29, and then we’ll go to 66 after that.
Isaiah 29:13. The Lord is saying, 750 years before the cross, the Lord has Isaiah speaking:
The Lord says:
“These people come near to me with their mouth
and honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
Their worship of me
is based on merely human rules they have been taught.
What was God having Isaiah say about the religion at that time? It was meaningless. “They honor me with their lips, they come near to me with their mouth, but their hearts are far from me.” That was saying, they were going through the motions; it’s form without substance; it’s external but there’s nothing internal. Isaiah 29:13.
Okay, then we’ll go to Isaiah 66, we’ll start at verse 1. We’re going down through the third verse here.
This is what the Lord says:
“Heaven is my throne,
and the earth is my footstool.
Where is the house you will build for me?
Where will my resting place be?
Has not my hand made all these things,
and so they came into being?”
declares the Lord.
“These are the ones I look on with favor:
those who are humble and contrite in spirit,
and who tremble at my word.
Now look at verse 3:
But whoever sacrifices a bull
is like one who kills a person,
and whoever offers a lamb
is like one who breaks a dog’s neck;
whoever makes a grain offering
is like one who presents pig’s blood,
Whoa! That started the Maccabean revolt, sacrificing a pig on the altar!
And then God says, “You don’t have the right attitude. This is bad.”
and whoever burns memorial incense
is like one who worships an idol.
They have chosen their own ways,
and they delight in their abominations;
so I also will choose harsh treatment for them
and will bring on them what they dread.
For when I called, no one answered,
when I spoke, no one listened.
They did evil in my sight
and chose what displeases me.”
He’s talking about their religious system, okay? Because it had come to be form without substance; there was nothing in the heart.
Now, we can all look around us on Sunday morning and see people just like that today, can’t we? They’re there, but they might as well not be; it’s not doing them any good. Certainly not doing God any good. But we don’t need to get into that tonight, do we?
So, verse 9. Hebrews 10:9:
Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. And by that will, we have been made holy
That’s how we’re made holy. We’ve been made holy by Jesus becoming a Man and performing a voluntary favor to satisfy a debt, okay? That’s what he means by that. That made us holy.
through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
And we talked about this last time what that means, once for all. One sacrifice for all of our sins; one sacrifice for all time.
Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God,
The work was done. He sat down—the first priest ever to do so. He sat down. There were no chairs in the temple, no place to sit. And this one sat down at the right hand of majesty, by the way, in Heaven.
and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool.
In other words, the work is all done now. He’s just waiting for everything to catch up.
Now look at verse 14:
For by one sacrifice he has made
There’s that word:
How long? Forever.
And how many sacrifices? By one sacrifice He has made perfect forever. “Has made”—that’s a past perfect tense, right? It’s in the past and it’s done.
he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.
This concept basically is, He has justified those who are being sanctified. See, it’s the sanctification process that takes place in our life, right? As we more and more follow the leading of the Holy Spirit and yielding our lives to Jesus, we become sanctified. That’s where our sanctification comes from. It’s a process.
But our salvation was an event. It’s His sacrifice. That was the event that did it. And by that one sacrifice He has made us perfect forever. Even while we’re still being made holy. We won’t become fully sanctified, we won’t become fully holy, if you will, until we’re perfected because our sin nature prevents it. But He’s already made us perfect forever and that’s the way God has chosen to see us.
And so, in Matthew 5:38 we heard that the way to enter the Kingdom is to become perfect like He is perfect, like our Father in Heaven is perfect, right?
And here in Hebrews 10 we learn that the way we became perfect is by His one sacrifice. He made us perfect—not by us becoming perfect through the performance of external rituals and ceremonies, but by being made perfect through faith.
You see the difference? And what a difference it is!
Now I’ve got to tell you one other little secret here. This one will knock you over.
Look at back in John—did I tell you to stay there? Doesn’t matter because we’re going to be in John 19 now. 1 John—no, John the Gospel, I’m sorry. John the Gospel 19. John the Gospel 19:30.
Okay, verse 30, the Death of Jesus.
When he had received the drink,
He had asked for vinegar because He was thirsty.
When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
That’s the death of the body, the physical death of Jesus.
What we’re going to look at is that word, it is finished. And this is another place where I wish we had a Concordance, because the word it is finished was a legal term in His time that meant when you owed somebody some money and you paid your debt, they wrote across it, ‘Paid In Full’ and gave you a receipt so you could prove you paid it. The word they actually wrote there was tetelestai which is what the word here is that says, it is finished.
So first you know, when He said “It is finished.” John chose to translate it that way. It can also mean paid in full. It means the debt was paid; paid in full.
But guess what? It comes from this root word teleioo which means perfect. And so, the word “Paid in full” is a variable—it’s a variation—of the word for “perfect.” In other words, you’ve perfected (in legal terms) you’ve perfected the debt; you’ve paid it off and got a receipt and now it’s perfected. It’s done.
And so, when He said, “It is finished.” He was issuing a legal pronouncement that your debt was paid in full, but He was also saying, “you’ve been made perfect.”
And that’s how the writer to the Hebrews could say by one sacrifice, He made perfect forever—I can almost see Him there saying something like this: “Remember I said, ‘be perfect even as your Father in Heaven is perfect’? Okay. Now I’ve made you perfect.”
Verse 15 now. Hebrews 10:15:
The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says:
“This is the covenant I will make with them
after that time, says the Lord.
I will put my laws in their hearts,
and I will write them on their minds.”
This is a quote from Jeremiah 31:33.
Then he adds:
“Their sins and lawless acts
I will remember no more.”
And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary.
In other words, once your sins have been forgiven, there’s nothing left to do. They’re forgiven. It’s over. It’s done. You’re perfect.
By this one act then, He took all the sins of your life, He paid the penalty for them, He gave you a receipt that said, “Paid In Full” and then it also says you are now perfect. Nothing left to do. It’s done.
Now, you’re still being sanctified, right? You’re still being made holy. But that’s not the way God sees it. He has chosen, because of this, to see it as if it is already finished. Already happened.
When God looks at you, He doesn’t see the sin in you; He sees the perfect in you. He’s chosen to do that because He can see the end from the beginning. He knows how you’re going to turn out that way and so, that’s the way He looks at you; as if it had already happened.
That’s why Paul could say in 2 Corinthians 5:17:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
Past perfect—it’s already done. Completed. Because He’s choosing to see you (once you believe) He’s choosing to see you as if all these things were accomplished and you’re now perfect.
And this is why Paul could say in Romans 7:15, “When I sin, it’s not me that’s doing it. It’s the sin nature that dwells in me.”
And God is able to distinguish from me (the perfect one) and the sin nature that’s only a temporary part that’s going to be taken away soon.
He’s able to distinguish between the two and therefore, He doesn’t see me as being the sinner. He sees the old sin nature that’s still hanging around as being the sinner. It’s almost like we’re two different entities and He only chooses to look at the perfect part.
Now I know this is kind of hard to understand but that’s the way He looks at us. That’s what has happened because of our faith in the cross. Now, he’s going to go on with this—you don’t have to take my word for it.
Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body,
Here he identifies Jesus as playing another part in this Yom Kippur ceremony.
Remember we said He’s the sacrifice, He’s the peace offering, He’s the scape goat, He’s the perfect blood; He’s also the High Priest that takes it and sprinkles it on the Holy of Holies. He’s also the curtain which He has opened up now so He can walk through and any of us can walk through now, as well.
and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.
What is the water in which we are washed? We’re washed in the blood, but also, we’re washed in water. Does anybody know what the water is? Look at Ephesians 5:25.
Ephesians 5:25 will tell you what the water is—it’s the Word, that’s right. Washed in the water of the Word, right?
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.
We’re washed in the water of the Word. In other words, these promises are what make us clean. It’s our faith in what this Word tells us that makes us clean, you understand that? We’re washed in the blood of Christ, yes. But we’re made without blemish, without spot or wrinkle, by our immersion in the Word. That’s why it is so important, doing things like this is so important to us.
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Now those, I think, were written straight to us. “Let’s not give up meeting together,” that’s like meetings like this because we give strength to each other. When we study here, and we study God’s Word together our minds are connected in ways that they are never connected otherwise. And the Spirit works through each one of us in this way and we gain understanding. It’s much better than sitting at home by yourself reading the Bible even, right? Because we can gain the benefit of the groups’ reaction as well as having our own.
All right. Now, the next two verses are the problems. Let’s read them and then we’ll stop and cut that part out of the Bible. [laughing] No, we won’t do that—we’ll look and see what it really says, is what we’ll do.
If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.
Now, you see how if you just read those two verses all by themselves how scared you’d be? I mean, these are scary, scary verses. And if you didn’t have the context of the—first of all, the rest of this book, and secondly, the rest of the New Testament, you’d really start to wonder, what in the world is going on here? And so, let’s stop and think—what is going on here?
Here’s a book being written to the earliest Christians who are being tempted and pressured and influenced by the hour almost, to go back to the old way, to go back into the old system. And this writer has devoted this whole book to telling them that that’s not going to work anymore.
You see, he said that the Law was only a shadow of the good things that were coming. But once they’ve come—when you have the real thing you don’t want the shadow anymore. And, he says, the shadow isn’t going to do you any good. In fact, the shadow is going to do you harm now.
And here again, we’ve talked about the fact that this whole lifestyle, this whole culture is being talked about here. It’s not just an hour on Sunday morning for these people. This was their life; they were immersed in this culture of the Law. It governed all their lives, every bit. Every activity of their day was governed by the Law. And now he’s saying that keeping the Law in the face of their knowledge that the fulfilment of the Law has come, is sin.
He’s not talking, see, about the general nature of sin—he’s equating their desire to yield to the pressure and go back into the Law as going into sin. Because, once the fulfilment of the Law came the shadow, or the model, of the Law was no longer meaningful, was no longer relevant, was no longer good.
Now, he’s going to make that point for himself in a couple of verses, but first of all, I want us to go back and make sure we’re on solid ground here when we talk about this business of eternal security. Because, this would seem on the face to deny it. So, we want to go back and review these passages and we want to see if it is really true.
We want to do this for two reasons. One, because this verse is confusing so we want some really clear verses. So that’s one reason.
The second is that we know the Bible can’t contradict itself. So we want to make sure that the Bible says something different than what people are attributing to this verse. We want to make sure the Bible doesn’t somewhere say the same thing this verse is saying.
And so, I’m going to give you—not all of them by any means, because we don’t have time, but I’ll give you a few of the clearest; I’ll give you a few of the clearest verses that will help us see that eternal security is a valid doctrine of the Bible.
Then I’m going to bring you to some that we’ve already seen in this book. So that, not only if this writer is saying that salvation can be lost—not only would he have to be contradicting what other writers have said in other books, he would had to be contradicting what he himself has said in this book. And so, we’ll use those two tests.
First, is it legitimate for him to contradict what we believe other verses have said; and second, wouldn’t he be contradicting himself in doing so? So, let’s look and see.
I have a short list here of about twenty [laughs] but we’re only going to look at a few. I’m just going to pick out the few that are very clear in the doctrine of eternal security. Okay, I’m just going to look up those few that are very clear in the doctrine of eternal security.
Now, I’ve already read you one of them and that’s in John 6:39 and 40:
And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”
So, the idea is belief—that’s the condition for salvation, and that He will lose none of those who believe. Okay. Now does that say that once we believe we are safe? Well, assuming that we don’t stop believing, right?
So now we’ve got to make sure that we can’t stop believing. Because it’s easy to accept the idea that as long as we believe, we are saved. Because the Bible says that all over the place, right? As long as we believe we’re saved.
Can we stop believing?
Let’s find out. We’ll just concentrate on those verses that would help us understand whether or not we can stop believing. Okay, let’s go to Ephesians 1, let’s do that one first. I’m just going to take a couple—just long enough to have you cry uncle. Ephesians 1. And in Ephesians 1—we went through this one last time so we can go through it pretty quickly today. In verse 13 it says:
And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.
So, this verse says that you believed—or, let me put it this way: it says, when you heard the Gospel and believed it you were included in Christ. So, at that moment, when you heard the Gospel and believed it you were included in Christ. And at that time, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit. In other words, at the time of your belief, when you believed it, you were marked with the Holy Spirit, who is a seal, as a deposit who guarantees our inheritance.
Okay, now we’ve talked before the fact that the word deposit is a legal term again. Paul is using a legal term. We would call it today a security deposit. It’s a down payment, if you will, that obligates the purchaser to follow through.
If you’ve ever bought a house, you’ve made an earnest money deposit, right? In fact, the literal word here is an earnest. So if you’ve ever bought a house, you’ve put down an earnest money deposit and the realtor has warned you at that time that this is a legally binding document you are signing, this earnest money agreement, and it obligates you to follow through on the purchase and you could be in big trouble if you don’t. You could lose your deposit and lots of bad things could happen. And so, the realtor warns you when you are signing the earnest money agreement that this is a legally binding agreement; you are required now to follow through on this.
And so, what God did was, when you heard the Gospel and believed it, He placed the Seal, the Holy Spirit, within you as an earnest money deposit which guarantees that He will follow through and give you the promises that are due to you—your inheritance in eternity.
All right, so there’s one.
So now He’s sealed the Holy Spirit within you and now He has guaranteed that you are going to inherit all of His promises. All right; that’s one.
But it goes a little farther than that if you look at 2 Corinthians 1. You’ll see that He did even more than that. 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 is a very similar passage; it contains some of the same wording, but it adds to it in a way that makes it more certain.
2 Corinthians 1:21 says:
Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ.
So, who has accepted responsibility now for you? God has. You’re not the one who makes you stand firm, right? Good thing, isn’t it? It’s God who makes you stand firm, and here’s how He did that:
He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us,
If you were out west, you’d call this branding. We’ve been branded; He put His brand on you. This documents, this demonstrates, that He now owns you.
and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
So, not only did He put His Spirit in you as a guarantee, He took responsibility for you and He accepted ownership for you, and He put His seal on you.
Are you feeling more secure now? Yeah! Sounds like a done deal, doesn’t it? All right. Let’s see what effect that has. We’ll just look at a couple more here.
Romans 8:38. Paul says:
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
What is it that can separate you from Jesus now? Nothing. An angel can’t, a demon can’t. The present can’t, nor can the future—in other words, nothing you do in the future can do this either.
Nor can any power—which includes you, right? I mean, it doesn’t say, no power except you yourself. It says, no power at all. So, I want you to understand that.
Now let’s look at one more. John 10. And understand, that there are others in here. We’ve gone through them before but we’re just taking a few because we want to reaffirm that this writer can’t be saying what he appears to some to be saying.
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.
Now, read that carefully. Does it say, no one but you? The point I’m trying to make is, you can’t walk away from this.
This was a gift; the faith to receive it was a gift. God put His own Seal on you to confirm it and He put His Spirit in you as a deposit to guarantee it. I think He went as far as any reasonable man could go to do this.
But He went farther. Jesus is saying, “No one can snatch them out of My hand.” Then in verse 29 He says:
My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.
Talk about being in good hands! I think that’s a good example.
Now, in all these passages there are no exceptions; there are no conditions. There’s nothing in here that says, “If you mess up, we are going to take the Holy Spirit back, the deal’s off and you are out.”
There is no verse in the Bible that says that. If you think there is, where’s the problem? Is it with you, or is it with the verse? It’s with us. It’s with our understanding. If we read a verse and think that our salvation can be revoked or handed back or cancelled—then the problem is not with the verse, the problem is with our understanding of the verse.
So, let’s try to see what this Hebrews 10:26 is really saying.
And while you’re turning back to that, I told you that I’d give you some indications that the writer himself would have to be contradicting himself in order to believe that. One that we can look at is Hebrews 7:17. Hebrews 7:17-19 I think it is—I wrote it down wrong. I should have said Hebrews 7:25:
Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.
Remember when we went through this? The problem with the old priesthood is the priest died. And then they had to get a new one.
But our Priest never dies. He can always intercede for us—forever. So, we never have to worry about that. And therefore, He is a permanent priest (not a temporary one) and He is able to save completely. The Greek word there is “to the uttermost.” He is able to save those to the uttermost who come to God. Okay, so there’s that.
And this we talked about the fact that this word “permanent” means it’s unchangeable and non-transferable. Remember saying those words? It’s unchangeable and it’s non-transferable. There is nothing that can change this, which is what has been said earlier in this—”nobody can take them out of My hands.” Nothing can happen now, we know, to change this.
Okay, I’m looking for 9:12.
Hebrews 9:12 says:
He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered
Talking about the Holy Place.
he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption.
Eternal, how long does that last? He obtained eternal redemption for us.
So now he would have to be contradicting himself to say that if we keep on sinning, we can lose it all. It is not the intent of the passage. It’s not the intent of the New Testament, and it’s not the intent of the writer himself in previous testimony that he has given us. He can’t contradict himself.
So, what does this mean? Well, there are two schools of thought here in what this means.
One of these schools is that if we deliberately keep on sinning, we will lose the ability to believe we’re still saved. That we’ll start feeling bad, remorseful, about what we’re doing. And we’ll start feeling so bad that we will no longer be able to believe. And that is partly right.
Let’s read (verses) 26 and 27 again:
If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.
That’s what my version of the Bible says. The King James is more confusing but unfortunately, it’s also more accurate. In order to make it more understandable they’ve made it worse here in the NIV. So, we’ll try to straighten that out.
We’ve already talked about the fact he’s equating sin with the going back into the old system. And in the old system, how did you deal with your sin? You offered a sacrifice. You went to the priest and you told him you’d sinned, and you brought a lamb and they took the lamb up on the altar and they slaughtered it and they burned it. And that was how you dealt with your sin. Now, that didn’t absolve you of the sin. It just set it aside.
And so, when he says, “if we deliberately keep on sinning” he’s not talking about the behavior itself, but the remedy that we’re applying for the behavior. And so, when he says, “if we deliberately keep on sinning” what he’s saying is, “if we adhere to the old system and keep on dealing with our sins the way we used to, it’s going to be a problem.”
Because, you see, nowhere does anyone in the Bible say that a believer will stop sinning. It doesn’t say that anywhere. We’re admonished not to sin; we’re told we shouldn’t sin; we’re told it is an embarrassment to God when we do sin; we’re told that it grieves the Holy Spirit when we sin. We’re told all these things about the fact that, out of gratitude for what we’ve been given we shouldn’t do this, but then we’re also told that we can’t stop. And so, in fact, Paul in Romans 7 said the harder he tries the worse it got.
And then 1 John came along and said, “Okay. Here is the remedy for sin: confess. Because if you confess, He is faithful to forgive and will purify you from all your unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9. That’s the remedy.
What used to be the remedy was the sacrifice of a lamb; now, it’s confession.
Now, why is that? Because the Old Testament was always based on external activity, wasn’t it? Always based on doing something. But the New Testament is based on faith. Nobody confesses unless they believe they’ll be forgiven, right? And so, it’s an act of faith to confess.
And that’s what we’re called to do, live by faith. So, when we confess, we’re expressing our faith that we’ll be forgiven.
It’s also promised to us in 1 John 1:9 that if we’re just willing to confess, He is faithful and just to forgive, and will purify us from all our unrighteousness. In other words, that brings us back to being perfect again. The confession restores us. And that’s the only thing that can.
And so, this writer, when he says “if we deliberately keep on sinning” he’s not talking about the sins we commit because nobody can stop that. He is talking about applying the wrong remedy for the sins. And there’s no sacrifice for sin anymore. There’s nothing left. You can’t do anything in the way of a sacrifice to get rid of your sin. You can only confess by faith and be forgiven.
And so, verse 27 says:
but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire
Now, that’s what the NIV says. The phrase “fearful expectation” is pretty close. In the original King James, I think it says, “the looking for” or something like that. What it means is, it’s the same as an expectation. Because you didn’t apply the remedy, because you didn’t confess your sins as you go, you build up this guilt in your mind, you see. And you start to believe that no one who behaves the way you do could be saved.
Now, who helps you with this belief?
The devil. He’s right there with you all the way, isn’t he? Pushing. “Yeah, that’s right. You’re exactly right there. Who on Earth would want to save somebody like you?”
And because we are guilty in the first place, we buy into that and we let the devil convince us that all we’re worth is to be burned in the fire. And so, we develop—or we don’t, but the people who go through life without confessing their sins and they build up this guilt over a lifetime and—friends, I can’t tell you how many emails I get on this subject. Especially from older people who have lived an entire life and never were taught that they were supposed to confess their sins and they’ve built up this guilt.
There’s no place for it to go, you see. They can’t do anything with it. When you confess, it alleviates, it gets rid of the guilt. But when they don’t confess, there’s nothing they can do with the guilt. It just keeps building up. And the devil starts working on them and he starts twisting things and corrupting their minds even further until they come to the conclusion that nobody who behaves the way they do can possibly be saved.
And so, they develop an expectation—what’s called here, a fearful expectation. It doesn’t mean that that’s what they’re destined for; it means that’s what they’re expecting to get. You see the difference?
Okay. So that one was pretty close but this “raging fire” is off so far. The King James, I think, says a “fiery indignation.” Is that what it says? Fiery indignation. Okay. So, do you know what an indignation is? An indignation is a thought; it’s an emotion, a feeling. It’s literally defined as the excitement of your mind.
Have you ever heard the phrase, the person has zeal without knowledge? What that means is they have this great belief, but they don’t have anything to support it. You know the word “zeal” in Greek and “indignation” are the same word? The same thing is true here. They have a belief that they are destined for the fire but there’s nothing to support it. You understand? It’s only a belief in their mind fostered by this guilt that’s been building up all the time.
What he’s saying is here, if you don’t apply the right remedy for your sins, they will just build up over your life and you’ll develop this fearful expectation that you’re a sinner beyond hope and you’ll have this fiery indignation, this belief without knowledge, that you can’t possibly be saved. And you’ll start believing that you’re not.
And then that gets compounded every time you hear somebody speaking on Hebrews 10:26, or Hebrews 6:4 and 5, or all these other passages they point to about “if you sin, there’s no hope for you any more so you’d better never ever sin.”
I tell you, folks, the ones who are preaching that—they are sinners. And they’re going out there sinning, too.
And so, what the verse, I believe, means—and this is why we had to go back and look at those clear verses, because this is pretty confusing. You have to do some real digging.
I’ll confess to you, the first time I read this verse, it scared the you-know-what out of me because, I said, “Gee whiz, how could that possibly be saying that in the Bible?” And yet, there it was.
It wasn’t until I got into the word studies and went into the Concordance and looked at the original language. First thing I saw was that the NIV was wrong and its interpretation of this. Then I looked at the King James and then I looked up the Greek words behind the King James, and I got out my Strong’s Concordance and I looked up what those words mean.
And I find out that it was a fear of these things rather than a certainty of them. And it was the fear of these things that he said would be the punishment. He said that you’ll live in fear for your salvation.
Now, is that what the Bible says we’re supposed to do? No.
It says we’re supposed to be able to be certain of it. It’s called our blessed hope, isn’t it? It’s not called our fiery indignation—but that’s what it turns into, you see. Because somebody lets the guilt from the sin pile up, and pile up, and pile up, until they can’t see over the top of it anymore and Satan comes in there and says, “Look at you. Who on Earth—or anywhere else—would ever save anything like you?”
And this is exactly what people write to me. “How can I possibly be saved after what I have done?”
And so, that is what this passage means. Now let’s read on here a little bit:
Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think someone
Underline this word:
deserves to be punished
It doesn’t say “will be” does it? It says deserves to be punished.
who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?
And so he’s saying, “If you don’t accept the remedy for your sin that God has provided, and you want to go back into the old system and start sacrificing animals again, this is worse. You’re making things worse for you. You can’t lose your salvation, but you certainly deserve it and you’ll feel like you deserve it because you’ll have trampled the Son of God underfoot.”
What he means by that is that you will have relegated His sacrifice to that of barnyard animals. And of having no more value to you than the sacrifice of a barnyard animal. In other words, you will have treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified you and you will have insulted the Spirit of grace.
For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
Now these are verses he is using from out of the Old Testament that show how fearful we can be when we don’t believe we have any standing with God. And we read these passages and it says, in the first place, are believers going to be judged in the sense of having to be accountable for their sins and determining whether they’re going to be saved or not?
No. That’s not going to happen, is it? But we’ll start thinking it is. We will start thinking it’s that way.
Is the Lord going to pay us back for all we’ve done? No. Because He already exacted the penalty from His Son. The Son paid for all we’ve done. And so, we’re innocent.
And so, these passages then, these two verses, cannot be about our salvation. If they were, they would contradict the rest of the Bible and they would also contradict what the writer himself has written previously.
They are about the guilt that wells up in us when we refuse to admit that we’re sinners and get on our knees before God and confess. Eventually, that is all going to catch up with us and we’re going to live in constant fear—after it’s too late by the way. It’ll be too late for us. We’ll be old and crotchety, sitting in a wheelchair somewhere and we’ll be consumed with the fear that God is going to reject us. And it will be too late for us to go out and make it right—we think.
Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.
He’s talking about their treasure in Heaven. So now he’s saying:
So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.
You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For,
“In just a little while,
he who is coming will come
and will not delay.”
“But my righteous one will live by faith.
And I take no pleasure
in the one who shrinks back.”
Listen to this now, again:
But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.
So, he’s ending the chapter here with this reminder to them. He said, “You have stood strong in your faith. You have been humiliated in public because of your faith. You’ve stood beside others who have been persecuted for their faith. You’ve held hands with them and given them strength. You could do it then; you can do it now. Live by faith. The promises that the Bible has offered you are true. The ones who have performed those promises cannot lie. Don’t succumb again to the thought that you have to make things right. Things have already been made right. You just have to have faith. You have to stand on your faith.”
You understand that? Okay.
That’s the end of the chapter. We’ll have a closing prayer and then I’ll take some questions.