Sermon: An Infinitely Better Death (Hebrews 9:15-28)

An Infinitely Better Death

Hebrews 9:15-28 (ESV)

Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.  [16] For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established.  [17] For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive.  [18] Therefore not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood.  [19] For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people,  [20] saying, “This is the blood of the covenant that God commanded for you.”  [21] And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship.  [22] Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.

[23] Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.  [24] For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.  [25] Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own,  [26] for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.  [27] And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,  [28] so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

Introduction

Many people ask the question…Why did Christ have to die?  That’s an extremely good question.  It’s a question with multiple answers on various levels.  It’s a question that really bears the gospel.

Christ had to die to make payment for our sin…

John 3:16 (ESV)

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

For this verse to take place required God to make a way for our sin guilt to be taken care of.  God could not grant to us eternal life as long as our sin debt was left unpaid.

The Apostle Paul tells us that God sent Jesus to be that payment for the sin of His people.

Romans 3:21-26 (ESV)

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— [22] the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction:  [23] for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,  [24] and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,  [25] whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.  [26] It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

Christ had to die to make payment for our sin debt.  God’s wrath was poured out on Jesus instead of us.  All the wrath that God had for the sin of His people was poured out on Jesus.  Because of the death of Christ, God has no more wrath left for the church. Because of Jesus’ death, God can be favorable toward us.  His death was infinitely better than any other sacrifice ever made.

So, we’ve seen that Christ died to make payment for sin.

Do you think Christ’s death was enough to make payment for all your sin past, present, and future?

If Christ would have only paid our sin debt for us we would still not be suited for heaven.  More had to be done.  Simply taking our sins away would not make us righteous.

Here’s another Kool-Aid illustration.  Let’s say we want grape Kool-Aid.  Grape Kool-Aid is good.  Grape Kool-Aid is righteousness.  However, what we have is cherry Kool-Aid.  In order to turn sinful cherry KA into righteous grape KA we first have to take out all the cherry flavoring.  We pour the KA through various filters to take out all the sinful cherry flavoring.  When we’re done, we still don’t have grape KA, what we have is water.  Something now has to be added…grape flavoring.  Now we have grape KA.

If all that took place through the death of Christ was a taking away of our sin and a payment made to God we would be morally neutral.  We still would be unfit for heaven.

God has to add something.  He adds the perfect righteousness of Christ.

Philip. 3:4-9 (ESV)

though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more:  [5] circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee;  [6] as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness, under the law blameless.  [7] But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.  [8] Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ  [9] and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—

The second reason Christ had to die was so that God’s people could have Jesus’ perfect law-keeping credited to us.  Now, God sees everyone who places their trust in Christ’s work as guilt free and righteous.

Do you think Christ’s righteousness is sufficient for you to be accepted by God?

The third reason Christ had to die is found in our text this morning.

1. Christ, the Mediator to the Called (Hebrews 9:15)

Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.

The New Covenant was prophesied in…

Jeremiah 31:31-34 (ESV)

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah,  [32] not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord.  [33] But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.  [34] And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

Remember, the reason God ever made any covenant with sinful mankind was that He would be glorified as God.  We would have a God and He would have a people.  In order for this to happen we needed a Mediator.  We cannot gain access to God through other religions, good works, or by birthright.  The only way a sinful human can gain access to God is through Jesus Christ, because He is the only Mediator.

We failed to keep the old covenant, the covenant of works.  We failed to keep God’s law perfectly.  Jesus comes along and keeps the old covenant for us.  He is the only hope we have to gain God’s favor.

Jesus is the great covenant keeper.  He kept the old covenant for us and He kept it for all those in the past.  Moses was not saved because of all the animal sacrifices.  He was saved because the blood of Jesus is so potent that it took away the sin of all His people past present and future.  The animal sacrifices only covered sin because they pointed to the death of Jesus.  Take Jesus out of the equation and they would have been meaningless.

In order for the New Covenant to begin, a death had to occur.

2. Why Did Christ Have to Die? (Hebrews 9:16-18)

[16] For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established.  [17] For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive.  [18] Therefore not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood.

The same Greek word translated as covenant can also be translated as testament.  The difference is the context.  Here, the translators were very thorough and did a great job because the writer had in mind a testament.  At this point we should be thinking in terms of the last will and testament.

When someone has a will drawn up (by the way, you should have a will) they are specifically and legally showing who gets the inheritance.  Your children and your church should get your inheritance not the government.  However, as long as you’re alive the will doesn’t come into effect.  It only has power when testator dies.

Even the first will and testament, the old covenant, had to have a death in order for an inheritance to be received.

Moses was the mediator of the old covenant.  He died before the Hebrews could journey into their inheritance which was the Promised Land.  Moses died because of his sin.  A new Mediator has now died, bringing in the power of the New Covenant.  Christ had to die because only his death would cause the new covenant to take effect.

3. The Power of Christ’s Death (Hebrews 9:19-22)

A. Old Covenant Blood

[19] For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people,  [20] saying, “This is the blood of the covenant that God commanded for you.”  [21] And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship.  [22] Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.

The writer is establishing a comparison.  He shows the rituals that took place in the tabernacle and how the animal sacrificial blood was used to cleanse.  He then makes a concluding statement to this section by declaring that even in the Old Covenant system blood was a cleansing agent.  [22] Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.

The animal blood was able to purify the articles of the tabernacle through ritual practices but it could never purify the sinner.

Our text from last week explains this point…

Hebrews 9:14 (ESV)

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.

Do you see the difference between rituals and purified conscience?  Rituals cannot do it, only the blood of Christ our only Mediator can cleanse people and purify people and bring them from dead ritual religion to serving the living God with a purified heart and conscience.  Jesus will write His law on our minds and on our hearts in the New Covenant.

B. New Covenant Blood (Hebrews 9:24-28)

[24] For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.  [25] Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own,  [26] for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.  [27] And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,  [28] so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

The Old Testament priest appeared daily and repeated his sacrifice over and over again.  Jesus appeared once on earth and lived a perfect life and died the perfect death once for all His people.  In order for this one-time sacrifice to reach back and reach forward, Christ had to appear not in the earthly tabernacle but in the heavenly one.

–         into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.

Jesus’ great priestly work includes priestly intersession for His people in the very presence of God Himself.

–         he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.

His one-time sacrifice for His people put all our sin away.  He gave of Himself in the ultimate way to pay for the sin of His people and to begin the New Covenant.

–         [28] so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

Jesus will appear one more time.  This time His coming will not have a thing to do with our sin but will be for the purpose of completing our salvation.

Because of the death of Jesus everything we have of eternal value as believers is in heaven.  Our sanctuary is in heaven, our heavenly Father is in heaven, our Savior is in heaven, our citizenship is in heaven, and our treasures should be in heaven.  But here we are, waiting on earth.  Everything we own that really matters is in heaven.

Sometimes this earth can be a hard place to live.  Everything on earth is fading and temporary.  The things that happen to us happen because of this sinful world.  Health may fail, finances may fail, trust in people may fail.  Everything here may fail but everything there is eternal.

Everything is not settled on this earth.  We live in a constant mode of fear and unknown.  We cannot say what will happen next.  However, as believers, we can be confident that because of Christ’s death, everything is settled in heaven.  Because of Christ’s death, His last will and testament has taken effect.  Our inheritance is waiting for us.  What great promises we have concerning our inheritance.

Ephes. 1:11-14 (ESV)

In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,  [12] so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.  [13] 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,  [14] who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

Since we have an eternal inheritance how should we live.  How should this truth affect us?  We have the Holy Spirit which is the proof of our inheritance.  Our inheritance is in heaven but because of Christ’s great love He has given us a pledge of our inheritance.  The Holy Spirit is given to cause us to think and walk in eternity.

1 Peter 1:3-9 (ESV)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,  [4] to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,  [5] who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.  [6] In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, as was necessary, you have been grieved by various trials,  [7] so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.  [8] Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory,  [9] obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Regardless what happens on planet earth.  No matter what crazy events may transpire unsettle us, things in heaven are eternally settled and fixed.

As Christians to bring the maximum amount of Glory to God, live in your eternal fixed position as an heir with Christ.  When bad things happen here, remember eternity is there.  Praise the Lord for His wonderful completed work on the cross.  He paid our sin debt, He gave us His righteousness, and He set in motion the New Covenant.

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