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Author:Rev. Ted Gray
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Congregation:First United Reformed Church
 Oak Lawn, Illinois
Title:When Christ Came into the World
Text:Hebrews 10:1-18 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:The Incarnation

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Tell Me the Story of Jesus
Thy Love to Me, O Christ  
With Grateful Heart My Thanks I Bring
To God Be the Glory     

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Ted Gray, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

When Christ Came into the World”
Hebrews 10:1-18
This passage of Scripture is one of my favorite Christmas passages. It is a favorite because it takes away all the sentimental man-made conceptions of Christmas and gives us an account of Christmas from the words of Jesus. The setting for this passage is clearly put in verse 5, “Therefore,” – or in the ESV – “Consequently, – when Christ came into the world, he said: ‘Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me…’”
The “therefore” or “consequently” which begins the introduction of what Christ said when he came into the world, points us back to the Old Testament law given to Moses. It points us back to the old covenant with its ceremonial laws. When the chapter begins by saying, “The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming – not the realities themselves” it is speaking about the ceremonial law. It is speaking about all those rituals, sacrifices, feasts and ceremonies that the Old Testament priests had to perform and preside over.
Verse 3 tells us of purpose for the sacrifices: “But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins.” The ceremonial law of the Old Testament reminded the people of their sin. As it brought the reality of their sin before them, it also taught the importance of being cleansed from sin.  
Although the ceremonial law was effective in teaching that people are sinners in need of cleansing, the ceremonial law was unable – totally helpless – to cleanse anyone. In the last part of verse 1 (and into verse 2) we read, “For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. If it could, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins.”
It should have been painfully obvious to the people of the Old Testament era that all the various sacrifices that were offered – whether on the annual Day of Atonement or offered in other ceremonies – could never cleanse anyone from sin. They were, as verse 1 puts it, “the shadow of the good things that are coming – not the realities themselves.”
And that brings us back to verse 5. It brings us back to the words of Christ when he came into this world, born in human flesh.  Psalm 40:6-8 is quoted as applying, not just to David, but to the Lord Jesus Christ. It is Christ who, when he came into the world, 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, O God.’”
In that quotation, we see that Christ came into the world knowing a body was prepared for him. It was essential that Christ took on human flesh with a body like ours. It was essential, not only so that he would have a body to be pierced and crucified to shed his blood to save us from our sins, but also the eternal Christ took on human flesh to take our identity.
Since man sinned, a man must pay the debt of sin. But no man could ever pay that debt. Only God could and did. He did so by sending his Son, one with the Father and the Holy Spirit, true eternal God, yet born in human flesh to perfectly represent us. As Hebrews 2:14-17 point out, “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. …For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.”
“I Have Come to Do Your Will, O God”
As the eternal Christ, the second person of the Trinity, came into the world with a human body of flesh and blood, conceived by the Holy Spirit in the virgin Mary, he did so in order to do his Father’s will. Not only do we read that in verse 7, but also in verse 9. The statement of this passage – that Christ came to do his Father's will – is no surprise to those who are familiar with the gospel accounts. The writers of the four Gospels frequently describe how Jesus came to do his Father's will.
The Father's will was not something new in the first century. Rather the will of his Father was written in the scroll, in the words of verse 7, meaning that the Father's will was revealed already by the writers of the Old Testament scrolls. The will of the Father was clearly revealed by writers like Isaiah, who in Isaiah 53:10, writes, ...It was the Lord's will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.”
In Isaiah's prophecy the will of the Father for the Son was already graphically portrayed. Verse 5 and 6 of Isaiah 53: “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
Someone who doesn't understand the consequences of sin, considers the Father cruel to have as his will the suffering – the crucifixion – of his only begotten Son. There are many skeptics and unbelievers who say, “I could never believe in such a cruel God. What type of God would determine – would will – that his son, whom he supposedly loves so much, would be ridiculed, mocked, beaten, and crucified on a cross?”
In reality, it is only a God of immeasurable love, grace, and mercy who would do such a thing. And the Son, Jesus Christ, willingly went to the cross. In fact, in Hebrews 12:2 we are told that “for the joy set before him (he) endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
The Father willingly gave of his Son, the Son willingly and lovingly gave of himself, and the Holy Spirit joyfully lives in the hearts and lives of those who have saving faith in the eternal Christ. The eternal Christ came into this world with a truly human body in order to sacrifice himself to propitiate – to cover – the sins of all who believe in him.
This passage goes on to teach that there are great blessings to those who have saving faith in Christ Jesus. The first great blessing is there in verse 10: “And by that will, we have been made holy – ESV ‘sanctified’ – through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”
We might expect that it would say that we have been justified through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And indeed we are. We are justified by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Our justification is a legal declaration by God himself as judge, that the penalty for our sin has been paid in full by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
But the author of Hebrews points out that in Christ we are also sanctified. Our sanctification is also declared complete, even though it is not perfect in this life. Why is that? It is because the sacrifice of Christ was so complete that it guarantees not only our justification, but also our sanctification.
As the Apostle Paul assured the Philippians, we can be “confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6). Not only are we justified through faith in Christ, but our sanctification – even though it is an ongoing work and incomplete in this life – is yet guaranteed by the finished work of Jesus Christ.
The Law Written in Our Hearts
Central to our sanctification – to our holiness – is that we seek to serve the Lord as his law is in our hearts. Verse 15 and 16 point us back to Jeremiah's statements on the new covenant, which the author of Hebrews also brought before us in chapter 8:8-12. Both passages describe how in the new covenant the Lord writes his law on the hearts of his people. The law is no longer two tablets of stone; now it is written with conviction in our hearts by the Holy Spirit’s indwelling presence and power.
It is a great blessing that the law of our God is written on our heart in such a way that when the first inkling of temptation arises, the Holy Spirit pricks our conscience. We are reminded of the law of God, not just as an external group of commandments to be obeyed, but as a very blessed road map showing us the right way to live in the maze and confusion of this life.
You don't need to look very far in our community, in our nation and in our world, and perhaps closer to home, even in some of our extended families, to see the misery and sorrow that has come into individual lives because people did not live according to God's law. Indeed, each one of us knows of that misery and sorrow because each one of us has broken God's law more times than we could ever count.
And yet by God's sanctifying grace, the Holy Spirit has written the law on our heart. By doing so he enables us to walk according to God's word, although we do so imperfectly. And he keeps us from many other sorrows in this life, for sin always brings sorrow. And for those who do not repent, innumerable and unending sorrows await them in the life to come.
A third great blessing for those who have saving faith in Jesus Christ, is that we have assurance that our sins are forgiven and remembered for judgment no more. Verse 17: “Then he adds: ‘Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.’”
When the Lord promises to remember our sins and lawless acts no more it is a promise that encompasses every aspect of forgiveness. B.F. Westcott, in his Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews gave these three consequences of sin. He wrote: “(Sin produces) debt which requires forgiveness, bondage which requires redemption, alienation which requires reconciliation.”
Sin puts us into debt, a debt so great that none of us can pay it. The only way for it to be paid is through the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. As such, the debt of our sin requires the forgiveness that only God can give.
A second aspect of sin is that it puts us into a bondage which requires redemption. The cords of sin wrap tightly around everyone who is bound by it. Perhaps you have noticed that in south Florida there is understandable concern about the invasion of non-native giant constrictor snakes. The boa constrictor wraps itself around its prey and squeezes it to death.
That is exactly what sin does. When sin is not repented of and when it is not covered by the precious blood of Jesus through saving faith in him, it will squeeze a person to death – not just physical death but eternal death which is separation from the love of God in the reality of hell.
All of us were in that bondage to sin and to Satan. And Satan is the serpent who makes even the twenty foot long, two-hundred-pound boa constrictor puny by comparison. But Christ, by his sacrifice, has redeemed us from that bondage. Just as God redeemed Israel from their bondage in Egypt so long ago, all those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ with saving faith are redeemed from their bondage to sin and Satan.
A third characteristic of our sin is that it causes alienation which requires reconciliation. As soon as Adam and Eve sinned, they were alienated from God. They tried to hide from the very One who had placed them in Paradise, the One who blessed their wedding, the One who had given them every blessing imaginable in the Garden of Eden.
Although they were alienated, God gave them the promise of reconciliation. They were promised that the seed of the woman would crush the head of the serpent. And at the cross of Calvary that is exactly what happened. Satan was crushed. And all who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ with saving faith are reconciled to God the Father.
The author of Hebrews presented that reconciliation beautifully. In Hebrews 6 he described how the veil in the Temple was torn in two from the top to the bottom when Christ breathed his last breath. The torn curtain assures all who have true saving faith in Christ alone that the doorway into the Most Holy Place of heaven is open. He wrote, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf…” (Hebrews 6:19, 20a) 
You see, when God promises to forgive our sin, he promises to forgive every characteristic of it: the debt of sin, the bondage of sin, and the alienation which it brings. No wonder Micah would exclaim in Micah 7:18-19:
        Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity
                and passing over transgression
                for the remnant of his inheritance?
        He does not retain his anger forever,
                because he delights in steadfast love.
        He will again have compassion on us;
                he will tread our iniquities underfoot.
        You will cast all our sins
                into the depths of the sea.  (Micah 7:18-19 ESV)
The Finished Work of Christ
How else can we apply this beautiful account of what Christ said when he came into the world to redeem us from our sin? Another application is this: We who believe in Jesus Christ have full assurance of salvation, for his work is truly finished.
In verse 11 and 12 we see a number of contrasts between the Old Testament high priests and the Lord Jesus Christ as our great high priest. Those contrasts clearly teach that the work of redemption is finished. Nothing can thwart Christ's redeeming work. Nothing can derail your salvation or mine if by God's grace we truly have saving faith in his Son.
Verse 11 describes how day after day the Old Testament priests would stand to perform their duties. By contrast, verse 12 describes how after the ascension of Jesus into heaven, Christ sat down at the right hand of his Father.
The portrayal of Jesus sitting at the right hand of his Father symbolically shows us that his work of redemption is finished. We read about many furnishings in the Old Testament tabernacle: the ark of the covenant, the lampstand, the basin for cleansing and the other furnishings. But we do not read about a chair for the Old Testament high priest.
There was no place for him to sit because his work was never done. He always had to offer another sacrifice. The Day of Atonement would come each year reminding the high priest, and the people, of their sin. And each year as the high priest went through his routine of sprinkling the blood of the sacrifice, he was reminded of the futility of that sacrifice to take away sin. Verse 11 describes how “he offers again and again the same sacrifices which can never take away sins.”
But by contrast, Jesus offered himself once for all as the only sacrifice that can bring forgiveness. And then he showed the completeness of that sacrifice by sitting at the right hand of the Father. Verse 12, “But when this priest – Christ – had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.”
By that action, Christ shows that the debt of sin, the bondage of sin, and the alienation which it brings have all been remedied. The debt has been paid! The bonds of sin have been severed! The alienation has been breached; our reconciliation is complete!
And it all goes back to the “therefore,” (the “consequently” ESV) in verse 5. Because the Old Testament sacrifices could not bring redemption, Christ came into the world. The Scripture declares, “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, O God.’” -  Hebrews 10:5-7
No wonder the familiar hymn exclaims:
To God be the glory, great things He has done; 
So loved He the world that He gave us His Son,
Who yielded His life an atonement for sin,
And opened the life gate that we may go in. (To God Be the Glory; Francis J. Crosby, 1875)
He has indeed opened that life gate by his birth, life, death and resurrection. Is that knowledge a reality in your heart and in mine? By God’s sovereign grace and Holy Spirit’s power, have you entered through the gate – the doorway – through saving faith in Christ alone? If so, may you and I truly live to the praise of him who has redeemed us from our sin! Amen.
sermon outline:
              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, O God.’” -  Hebrews 10:5-7
                                                      “When Christ Came into the World”
                                                                         Hebrews 10:1-18
I. This passage teaches:
      1) The Old Testament ceremonial law revealed sin and the need for cleansing, but it could not provide cleansing
      2) Christ came into the world knowing a body was prepared for Him (5) so that He could do His Father’s will (7, 9),
           which included offering Himself as the only acceptable sacrifice (Isaiah 53:5,6,10) 
II. Those who have saving faith in Christ alone:
       1) Are declared holy through faith in Him and His sacrifice (10, 14)
       2) Seek to serve the Lord, as His law is in their hearts (15, 16)
       3) Have assurance that their sins are forgiven, remembered no more (17)
III. Application: We who believe in Jesus Christ have full assurance of salvation, for His work is truly finished (11-14, 18;
      John 19:30)


* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Ted Gray, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2016, Rev. Ted Gray

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