Judgment and Communion

Text: Hebrews 9:11-28

Main Point: We need to talk about and prepare for judgment.

When I planned out this series, preaching through a simple gospel outline, I was not prepared for how wonderfully sweet this passage would be in connection with the Lord’s Supper. In my pea-brain, I planned to preach Hebrews 9:27 and go on. That’s what we do. We faithfully preach and believe the Word of God.

But then I began studying this passage and working through the broader context of chapter 9. It was there, studying Hebrews 9 in order to preach verse 27, that I saw how perfectly suited this passage is for the Lord’s Supper. So, I’m going to preach verse 27 for evangelism then I’m going to preach verses 11-28 for communion. This is so good. Let’s take our one verse, verse 27, and start there.

Read Hebrews 9:27

I. Hebrews 9:27 and evangelism

Verse 27 is the background accompaniment to the stunning song that is chapter 9. So, the way a coach will stop the play in order to focus in on one important supporting element, we need to stop the play of chapter 9 and focus on verse 27.

  • When sharing the gospel, talk about creation, sin, and judgment

We start our gospel outline with creation from Revelation 4:11, “Worthy are you our Lord and God to receive glory and honor and power for you created all things and by your will they existed and were created.” It is a fact that God is worthy of worship even before the Trinity does anything. However, the emphasis here in Revelation 4:11 is on the worship due to the Father, Son, and Spirit precisely because of their fantastic work of creation. God created light and darkness, land and water, earth and heaven, bird and fish, angels and humans. God created to show and tell his glory and wisdom and power and love. Creation is an invitation to join in the joy of God as we live, work, do family, create cities, form governments, and relate to one another. God is worthy of worship because of creation.

But, go to your favorite source of news and what will you find? Do you find individuals, families, cities, nations, and governments joyfully looking after the good of others and joyfully worshipping God? No, we can’t go 5 seconds without neglecting, abusing, taking advantage of, blaming or killing one another. Why has God’s good creation gone so terribly wrong?

Romans 3:10-11, say it with me, “There is none righteous, no not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside.”

The problems in me, in you, and in us are caused by each of us turning away from God and his ways in order to do life our own way. We would rather have a tiny taste of pleasure in the dark, on our own terms, instead of delighting in unending pleasures in the light of God’s presence, on his terms. Fundamentally, the problem is we want to do our own thing and show God the door. The way we do work, sexuality, finances, and community tells God we don’t want you here.

Now, what is God going to do about this rebellion? Will God wink at your sin? Is God a spineless grandfather shuffling around desperately wanting us to behave, but in the end powerless to do anything about our problems?

Listen to Hebrews 9:27, “It is appointed for man to die once, and after that face judgment.”

YODO- you only die once. God has set up creation to work this way. There are no second chances. There is no reincarnation. You live once, you die once, and then you face judgment. You face judgment and then you die forever in hell or you live eternally on the New Earth. YOLO is a lie. You will live forever. YODO is the truth. You only die once and then face judgment.

Are you ready for death and judgment? Are you ready to stand before God and give an account of every careless word, every opportunity to serve the poor or visit those in prison? (See Matthew 25).

Think about judgment like property rights. You have the right to do what you wish with your property. It is your property and if someone uses or abuses or steals or vandalizes your property, then there are consequences. The lawbreaker will be judged.

God is the creator and owner of all things. God is the creator and owner of all of you. If you use or abuse or steal or vandalize what belongs to God, then there will be consequences. God, the owner of all things, has appointed a day of judgment. That day is rapidly approaching.

Creation, Sin, Judgment, and Jesus. Next week, Lord willing, we will tackle the cross from 1 Peter 3:18. Today, by God’s good providence, we will worship our way through Hebrews 9 on our way to the Lord’s table.

II. Hebrews 9:11-28 and communion

Hebrews 9 is an explanation of the glory, power, and preeminence of the New Covenant over the Old Covenant. The Lord’s Supper is the memorial meal celebrating the inauguration of the New Covenant. The Lord’s Supper reminds us of the benefits given to us in Christ and Hebrews 9 explains those benefits.

  • The new covenant is about good things

Read verse 11, we are immediately confronted with a question. Are they good things that have come or are they good things to come? There is solid manuscript evidence backing both readings. What is the difference? Jesus is the High Priest of good things to come is a reference to Jesus’ return and the experience of the fullness of the promises of God. This fullness hasn’t happened yet, so it is good things to come. Now, Jesus is the High Priest of good things that have come is a reference to Jesus’ work and the present experience of the blessings of being in the new covenant people of God. We have received a taste of the good things and we are eagerly waiting for the feast. Jesus has established good things for us and when he returns we will enjoy the fullness of God’s good things. I think both are good options and that’s why they are both there in the manuscripts. Let’s talk about the good things we already enjoy and some that are still to come.

  • Eternal redemption

Verse 12 holds out the good thing of eternal redemption. Jesus didn’t go into the earthly tabernacle made of animal skins by human hands and set up in the middle east. Jesus went into the heavenly tabernacle, the very presence of God the Father. Look at verse 12, “he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.”

Redemption is slave language; Jesus came to liberate us from slavery. But slavery to what? We are released from slavery to the law of sacrifices. We do not have to continually sacrifice animals in order to gain ceremonial purity. None of you brought a goat with you today because 2,000 years ago the perfect sacrifice was made that makes you clean. Jesus secured an eternal redemption.

We are released from slavery to the law of sacrifices and we are released from slavery to sin. You don’t have to keep thinking the things you think, doing the things you do, or fearing the things you fear. Because Jesus has secured an eternal redemption there is eternal freedom.

Eternal redemption is eternal freedom to live as God originally created us to live. We taste today what we will enjoy for eternity. We are freed by the sacrifice of Christ to honor God in all of life and go through all of life with thankfulness. We have been redeemed from the darkness. And this redemption cannot be lost; ours is an eternal redemption. We can stare down sin and temptation because Christ is for us and Christ has set us free. We can say no to the slavery of immorality and impurity. We can deal with the junk in our pasts and the junk in our minds. By his own blood, Christ has secured for us an eternal redemption.

As you hold the bread and cup, remember the eternality of your redemption. You are secure, firmly held by God. If you fear the future, remind yourself of Christ’s eternal redemption, Jesus isn’t going anywhere.

The second good thing secured for us is a pure conscience.

  • A pure conscience

The blood of bulls and goats could never go far enough. Now, the blood of bulls and goats could go far. Verse 13 tells us those sacrifices worked for the purification of the flesh. Those sacrifices worked to make the worshipper clean on the outside. Look with me at verses 13 and 14: “For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.”

Skip over to Hebrews 10:1&2, “For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshippers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins?”

The old testament believer would watch the animal die, see the blood, smell the fire, and wonder, “is it enough?” Maybe he would lay in bed at night and think about his mistakes and realize that animal can make me clean and acceptable on the outside, but it has no power to deal with the guilt in my mind.

The good thing that has come is the freedom of a clear conscience. Jesus came to purify your conscience. It is normal to look back at the things we have done and want to make it right. It’s normal to say, “I will make it up to you.” It is impossible to make it right or make it up, but it is normal to try. Humans have been trying to cover their sins since the beginning.

I want to introduce a better way of thinking about your past. I want you to lay in bed at night and think about your sin and Christ. Instead of asking, “have I done enough to make it right?” I want you to preach the gospel to your guilt, “The Son of God has done enough to make it right.” Jesus has gone into the presence of God with his own blood and secured an eternal redemption. There is nothing you can do to top that. Preach the gospel to your guilty conscience. God wants to give you the freedom of a purified conscience; a conscience once dirty and stained but now made clean because of Christ’s atoning death and victorious resurrection.

When you hold that cup and bread remind yourself of who Jesus is and what he has done. The Son of God has done enough to make it right. The Son of God has died in your place for your sin in order to secure for you a clear conscience. God bring the day when there longer is any consciousness of sins. We can taste it today because of Christ and we will enjoy it forever because of Christ.

We have eternal redemption, purified consciences, and the ability to serve the living God.

  • Serve the living God

Look with me at the end of Hebrews 9:14, “how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.”

Jesus didn’t come simply to make your feel better about yourself. Jesus came so that you will get in the game. Jesus didn’t purify you to keep you on the bench.

Let’s talk about spiritual warfare for a moment. Satan and the demons know Jesus came to purify our consciences from dead works to serve the living God. Jesus came to set us free from the sins we have committed, and Jesus came to set us free from the empty ways of doing life. Listen, there is a direct connection between a purified conscience and living for God. Do you know there is a direct connection between experiencing the forgiveness of Christ and actively serving God? Satan and his demons understand this connection. So, what do they do? They distract or demean the work of Christ. The demons want you to think that Jesus is not enough. The demons want you to think what you did is so awful you can’t be forgiven. In this place of doubt and discouragement you will not boldly move forward doing God’s will. Satan wants to keep you trapped in your feeling of guilt.

In addition to distract and demean, spiritual warfare involves reminding us of our sin. Satan and the demons know if they can keep you thinking about your sin they will keep you feeling guilty. If you start thinking about your eternal redemption, better sacrifice, and a purified conscience you’ll get in the game loving and serving others. Satan’s goal is to keep you feeling guilty so you won’t feel like serving the living God. We don’t have to get tangled up in new sin in order to be ineffective for the kingdom. All Satan has to do is keep us dwelling on old sins long forgiven.

When you eat the bread and drink the cup of the new covenant remember Christ who died and rose again so that you can experience the freedom of a clear conscience. Christ died and rose again to give you a fresh start. Do you need a fresh start? You can have it today because of Jesus’ righteous life, atoning death, and victorious resurrection.

We have an eternal redemption, pure consciences, we get to serve the living God, and Jesus has put away our sin.

  • Christ is for us

Read Hebrews 9:24-26

Verse 24 tells us that Jesus entered into the presence of God on our behalf. But Jesus did not go in repeatedly. Jesus did not go into the earthly tabernacle repeatedly with the blood of bulls and goats. Jesus went into the presence of God once for all with his own blood, he went in according to his own death and sacrifice. Jesus went to God for us. He went for our redemption and restoration and purification. We have salvation in him! Verse 26 tells us Jesus appeared at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. Christ died for you. Christ is in heaven for you. Christ is for you. Because of Jesus, God has removed your sin as far away from you as the east is far away from the west. Why are you guilty? Why are you sidelined? Why are you holding back?

Let’s remember and celebrate all that Christ has done for us.

III. The Lord’s Supper is the new covenant meal

As we celebrate, think about Jesus. Think of the Son of God offering himself according to the eternal Spirit for your eternal redemption. Think of the removal of all your sin because of Christ’s death and resurrection. Ask God for a pure conscience. Appeal to God for a clear conscience through the resurrection of Jesus from the grave. Think about the freedom Christ has given you to serve the living God. Hold the cup and bread and ask God what he wants you to do? Ask God to show you how he wants you to serve him. Think about your future. You have an eternal inheritance and Jesus is returning soon to give you the full experience of the good things to come. Your sins have been put away by the sacrifice of Christ. With Christ, you have power for today and a glorious future. Remember and celebrate.

One of the symbols of the new covenant is the Lord’s Supper. God’s new covenant people keep celebrating the Lord’s Supper. Around this table we remember what Christ has done and we proclaim his death until he comes. We are around this table because we are eagerly waiting the return of our King.

The other symbol of the new covenant is baptism. Baptism in water marks the beginning of the Christian life. Baptism in water marks one’s entrance into the new covenant community. So, if you are trusting in Christ crucified and raised for the forgiveness of sins, come and celebrate. The simple test is if you have been baptized.

Perfect people are not invited. Sinners are not invited. Sinners who are repenting and believing are invited.

 

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