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Author:Rev. Ted Gray
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Congregation:First United Reformed Church
 Oak Lawn, Illinois
 www.oaklawnurc.org/
 
Title:Our Inheritance in the New Covenant
Text:Hebrews 9:11-28 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:God's Amazing Grace
 
Preached:2016
Added:2022-12-27
Updated:2022-12-27
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Alleluia! Sing to Jesus!

Jesus! Thy Blood and Righteousness

Zion Founded on the Mountains

I Will Sing of My Redeemer         

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


05/08/2016
“Our Inheritance in the New Covenant”
Hebrews 9:11-28
 
Simon Kistemaker, in his commentary on the letter to the Hebrews, begins his treatment of this section of chapter 9 with these words. He writes, “Weaving his artistic verbal cloth, the author of Hebrews is ready to bring in the concepts of a mediator and covenant.”
 
“Weaving artistic verbal cloth” is an interesting way to describe the lofty character of this letter as a whole, as well as the passage which is before us. Throughout the letter as a whole, we have read about the superiority of Jesus Christ in every regard. He is superior to the angels, superior to Moses, superior to all the Old Testament high priests, and the covenant of which he is a mediator is superior to the old covenant, which was administrated by the signs and types described in the Old Testament. Those signs and types pointed to, and foreshadowed, the work of Christ.
 
We read about that again in the first part of this chapter. We saw the superiority of Christ, and the covenant of which he is the mediator, as we read of the contrast between the Most Holy Place in the tabernacle and the Most Holy Place of heaven where Christ Jesus has ascended.
 
And now in verse 15, the author of Hebrews weaves together a picture of the blessings that we have in the new covenant of which Christ is the mediator. Verse 15 states: “For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance – now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.” 
 
The first truth that he speaks about, as he describes Christ as the mediator of a new covenant, is that Christ died to put into effect our inheritance. He uses an interesting Greek word (diathēkē) which is translated most often in Hebrews as “covenant” but is also translated as “will”, such as the directives of a deceased person for those who remain. Verses 16 to 18 explain: “In the case of a will, it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it, because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living. This is why even the first covenant was not put into effect without blood.” 
 
Most of us have a will and if we don't, it is something that we, as good stewards, should have. We often hear about people who are unhappy with what is left to them in the will of a deceased person. Sometimes they go to court to contest the contents of the will. But there will be no disappointments for those who are in God's will. And that will has been put into effect by the death and subsequent resurrection of Jesus Christ.
 
One reason there will be no disappointment is that our “inheritance can never perish, spoil, or fade away” in the words of 1 Peter 1:4. Our eternal inheritance is guaranteed. Peter notes that, but so do other writers, including the apostle Paul. In Romans 8 he describes how those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ are adopted into the family of God. He describes how as God's children we can call out to our heavenly Father, “Abba, Father.” And then he makes this remarkable statement in Romans 8:17, “Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”
 
The apostle brings up not only the reality that we are heirs, but he also describes the security of our inheritance. In Ephesians 1:13-14 he describes how the Holy Spirit serves as a deposit guaranteeing what is to come. He writes: “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.”
 
Earthly inheritances are often less than what the heirs expect. As people live longer, the likelihood of running out of money increases. And the cost of medical care or nursing home confinement takes a rapid and high toll on whatever assets the testator of the will has. But that is never the case with our inheritance in heaven. It is granted by the Father, sealed and guaranteed by the Holy Spirit, and Christ acts as both the testator and the executor of the will.
 
The testator is the one who makes the will, and it is only put into effect when that person dies. But at that time there is an executor of the will who must make sure that all the details of the will are properly executed – properly performed and given to the rightful heirs. Christ Jesus does both. It is by his death that our inheritance is secured. He is the testator. And it is by his work as the mediator of the new covenant – as executor of the will, so to speak – that all the blessings of our spiritual inheritance come to us.
 
Heirs of God and Co-heirs with Christ
 
Who are those who are heirs of Christ? Verse 15 points out that it is those who are called. God calls us out of the world to himself. We see that even in the name for the church, which in Greek is the word – “ekklesia” – which means “called out”. 
 
But those whom he calls, he also justifies. We see that in the order of salvation that is described in that familiar eighth chapter of Romans. Romans 8:30 declares, “Those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.”
 
We see all four of those steps in this passage. We are heirs because we are called by God, having been graciously predestined through no merit of our own, to live to the praise of his glorious grace. And then, because we are called, we are justified. We are justified by faith, and our faith centers on Christ alone and his sacrifice for us which involved the shedding of his blood.
 
That is the second truth that we see as we look at Jesus Christ as the mediator of the new covenant. We see that he shed his blood to cover our sins. From verses 19 to 22 the author of Hebrews describes how in the old covenant the shedding of blood was necessary. He describes how Moses, after proclaiming all the commandments to the people, would sprinkle blood on both the scroll of the law and on the people. And verse 22 explains why: “In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.”
      
Verses 25 and 26 explain how Christ did not need to repeatedly offer himself as a sacrifice, the way the Old Testament high priest had to repeatedly offer sacrifices. Instead, having shed his blood at Calvary, Christ has, in the words of verse 26 “appeared once for all at the end of the ages” – meaning the Old Testament ages leading to the fullness of time when Jesus was born – “to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.”
 
The Holy Spirit is teaching us the same truth that Jesus taught his disciples when he had the Last Supper with them. You recall that after the supper he took the cup and gave it to his disciples saying, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. (Matthew 26:28)
 
Who are the many? It is those who have been predestined, those who are called, called with the effectual – efficacious – call of the Holy Spirit's regenerating power. And all those who are called are justified. If you truly believe in the Lord Jesus Christ this evening for salvation it is because God called you from all eternity to be his own. And at a point in time you responded, by his grace and Holy Spirit's work, to that call. As Romans 8:30 says, “And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.”
 
And we see that here in this passage. The recipients of the will are those who are predestined, and then at a point in their lives, they are called with the effectual call of the Holy Spirit. They are forgiven and justified by the shed blood of Jesus Christ, and then “those he justified, he also glorified.” We see the glorification of God's people through the act of Christ entering heaven on our behalf.  By his perfect life, sacrificial death, glorious resurrection, and ascension into heaven he has paved the way into the glory of God’s presence for all who have saving faith in him alone.
 
Purified for Heaven
 
Also, did you notice the remarkable statement in verse 23? The preceding verses describe how the old covenant was sealed into effect with the sprinkling of blood. This was done first by Moses and later it was performed by the high priests. Sacrificial blood was sprinkled “both in the tabernacle and everything used in its ceremonies” (v. 21). And then verse 23 declares: “It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.”
 
That verse is open to different interpretations. Some see that verse as teaching that by his shed blood, Jesus purified the Most Holy Place of heaven just as the Old Testament high priest would purify the tabernacle and the Most Holy Place within it.  
 
The basis for that view comes from the recognition that Satan once had his presence in heaven. Before the fall he was one of the highest of all angels. And even after the fall, and before the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Satan was able to enter into heaven and present himself before God as he did when he brought his accusations against Job.
 
Likewise, Ephesians 6:12 tells how there are “powers of wickedness in heavenly places” and Revelation 12 describes war in heaven. John writes: “Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the Dragon. And the Dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world – he was thrown down to Earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.”
 
When did this war in heaven take place? That also is open to various interpretations, but those who hold this view often point to Luke 10. The Lord had sent out 72 disciples, giving them power to heal the sick and to do many miracles in his name. They returned joyfully to the Lord after accomplishing their mission. And he said to themin Luke 10:18, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” 
 
However, as interesting as that view may seem, a more likely view is that since God dwells in light unapproachable as 1 Timothy 6:16 declares, and his eyes are too pure to look on evil as Habakkuk 1:13 and other verses state, that Hebrews 9:23 refers to us being purified by Christ for heaven. As such, it is a reference to the cleansing of God’s people. The birth, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus into heaven is so powerful that it cleanses us so that we are purified for heaven. Your sins and mine, heinous, abominable, and filled with evil, are completely purified by the shed blood of Christ. Our purification is so total that not even the faintest taint of your sin or mine will corrupt the purity of heaven. 
 
Christ’s Intercession on Our Behalf
 
A third point the author of Hebrews makes as he “weaves his artistic verbal cloth” is that we see that Christ entered heaven on our behalf. Verse 24 declares: “For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence.”
 
It is worth noting that the Greek word translated “presence” – that Christ has entered heaven itself now to appear for us in God’s presence – is the word for “face.” It is telling us that Christ is face-to-face with the Father as he intercedes on our behalf. He is face-to-face with God the Father as he points to his once for all sacrifice where he shed his blood to cover our sins. He is face-to-face with God the Father as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are in complete agreement on the implementation and execution of the details of the will of which we are heirs.
 
The author of Hebrews, inspired by the Holy Spirit, gives us a beautiful picture of how God, having predestined us, called us; of how having called us, he justified us; and having justified us he will glorify us. And that is the essence of the God's covenant with us. As we have seen before, it is new in its administration, but the covenant spans all of history and is encompassed in God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis 17:7, “I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you.” 
 
All who have saving faith in Christ are Abraham’s true descendants. Galatians 3:6, 7: “Consider Abraham: ‘He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.’ Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham.” And all who are spiritual descendants of Abraham, through saving faith in Christ, will see the promise of the covenant fulfilled as described in Revelation 21:3, 4: “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’”
 
An Appointment That Will Be Kept
 
The importance of having Christ Jesus as the mediator of the new covenant is brought home forcefully in verse 27, which reminds us that all humanity “is appointed to die once, and after that to face the judgment.”
 
The appointment with death is an appointment that none of us can escape unless the Lord Jesus returns while we are still living here on earth. Otherwise, the day will come when your heart stops beating, as will mine. Our body will no longer live but our soul will go to its eternal destiny, either heaven or hell. After that, the final day of judgment will be a reality for every person who has ever lived. As Thomas Watson put it: “We are more sure to arise out of our graves than out of our beds.”
 
But that day of judgment holds no fear for those who are waiting on the Lord, looking forward to seeing him face-to-face. Just as verse 27 brings up the certain reality of death and the judgment to come, verse 28 brings up the reality of salvation for those who have been predestined, called, justified, and will be glorified – co-heirs with Christ and heirs of heaven. Verse 28: “...Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.”
____
 
As we close this evening, the obvious question for each one of us is“Are you, and am I, waiting upon Jesus, looking to him with saving faith, rejoicing to know that he is the mediator of the new covenant? Does your life and mine reflect true gratitude for being included – through no merit of our own – in God’s will? Is there deep appreciation in your heart and mine that Jesus is both the testator and the executor of the will that gives us an inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade – kept in heaven for us? (1 Pet. 1:4)
 
May that be the case for you and for me, this day and always! Amen.
 
 
Sermon Outline:
 
 
For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance – now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.     
                                                                                    Hebrews 9:15
 
"Our Inheritance in the New Covenant"
Hebrews 9:11-28
 
I. As mediator of the new covenant (15) Jesus,
    1) Died to put into effect our inheritance (15-18)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
     2) Shed His blood to cover our sins (19-22, 25-26; Matthew 26:28)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
     3) Entered heaven on our behalf (23-24)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
II. Application: Every individual will face the judgment (27), but there will be no condemnation 
     for those “who are waiting for him” with saving faith (28; Romans 8:1)
 
 
 
 

 




* 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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