Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Hebrews 10:19-31

Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23


10:19 Therefore, my friends, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, 20by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain (that is, through his flesh), 21and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. 24And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, 25not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

26For if we willfully persist in sin after having received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27but a fearful prospect of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.28Anyone who has violated the law of Moses dies without mercy "on the testimony of two or three witnesses." 29How much worse punishment do you think will be deserved by those who have spurned the Son of God, profaned the blood of the covenant by which they were sanctified, and outraged the Spirit of grace? 30For we know the one who said, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay." And again, "The Lord will judge his people." 31It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.


Hebrews promises new vitality for the church; the writer challenges us to refocus our attention and energy. We're asked to take our eyes off the "Bs": buildings, budgets, and bodies; instead, we are called to train them on Christ. It's not about programs, committees, and budgets; it's not about more, bigger, and better.


The Random House Webster's Dictionary defines privilege as "the principle of enjoying special rights or immunities," later adding, "under certain conditions." It makes sense to prove we are worthy to enjoy the privileges. Through Christ's sacrifice, however, Christians are entitled to privileges we do not deserve. We don't have to earn them, and in fact we cannot earn them. There's a big difference between what the world expects of us and what Christ offers to us.

The writer of Hebrews helps us see the promise of new life by telling us about the "benefits package" that comes with following Christ. The benefits package is comprised of privileges that are given to us because Christ is our savior. What are those privileges?

First, we get direct, unlimited access to God. Prior to Christ, only the high priests would have gone into the Most Holy Place, and even they were only permitted to do that once a year, during the Feast of Atonement Because of Christ's sacrifice, we stand face to face with God confidently—that is to say, without worry about how we will be received.

Second, we are made clean before God. While the priests and people might have been ritually clean according to the laws, performing those acts did not rid them of their sin. In Christ, "our hearts [are] sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies [are] washed with pure water" (v. 22). Only Christ's sacrifice could do that.

The third benefit is that we are people of hope, allowing us to look trustingly to a future that is in God's hands. These words are not "idle tales." The writer assures us that "he who has promised is faithful" (v. 23).


Though we don't earn the benefits of salvation, we are expected to respond to them appropriately. The writer of Hebrews does not hesitate to point out that we are called to do certain things in response to what Christ has already done for us. The writer presents an "If this, then that" argument, balancing Christ's sacrifice with the call to live a holy life.

For the writer of Hebrews, three things contribute to holy living—three things that are flagged with the words "Let us":

Let us draw near to God. The writer of Hebrews reminds us that we have a duty to worship God together—it's our job, our vocation. "Do not neglect to worship together as some are in the habit of doing," says the writer of Hebrews. Corporate worship is as important as private devotion.

When we gather, each of us brings something that adds to the faith of our fellow worshipers.

Let us hold fast to the hope we profess. The writer challenges us to hold onto hope even when the very foundations of our lives are shaking. We need to believe we're secure. Instead of looking to our faith, we often seek security in wise financial planning, in education, or in leaders. However, the writer of Hebrews says that by having faith in Christ, we are secure. Stocks fall, culture shifts, but Christ remains.

Let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds. Provoke is a strong word—with all the connotations of a frustrated mother who all but growls, "Stop provoking your brother!" Yet, we're told to provoke one another toward the faith-filled life. We're told to lovingly "meddle" in other people's affairs to encourage them to do good things. The writer's exhortation calls us to urge people to faithfulness with encouragement. It may be easier to laugh at or belittle someone than it is to offer encouragement. However, as Christians imitating Christ's sacrifice, we're called to build up the community.

Throughout Hebrews, the writer has worked to make sure we understand that Christ made a once-and-for-all sacrifice on our behalf. Consequently, we are not being asked to offer sacrifices. We are being challenged to do the very thing that is asked at baptisms: to turn away from sin and turn toward Christ. Our security comes from the belief that when we turn toward Christ, it is not a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.


How can you help encourage other Christians to live in loving and faithful ways? In what specific ways has another person encouraged you?

When you worship, are you conscious of entering into God's presence? How do you feel about worship's being described as your vocation or your calling?

What benefits do you receive from your community of believers? What gifts do you bring to them?


Holy God, by your sacrifice we are made one with you and made clean to stand before you. Help us persevere in the faith. Help us live in faithful response to your gracious acts. Teach us to be mindful of the cost of our salvation, never regarding it lightly and always living in gratitude. Amen.


Compiled from The Present Word and Congregational Ministries Publishing is not liable for for the content of this Bible Study and Blog.

From The Present Word © 2012 Congregational Ministries Publishing. Used by permission.

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