Thursday, November 06, 2014

The Perfect Offering

Here's the lesson I had for Sunday's class ...

Sunday we continued our study of Hebrews and the truth that it is only through Jesus' perfect sacrifice that we are made right with God.

First Thoughts

What motivates you to give to a specific group or cause?

Sunday we had our Harvest Offering, a time we give above our normal tithe to First Baptist to help the church make up for any shortfalls in the budget and pay off the building debt. It's a worthy cause, for sure.

This is also the season of giving. Besides trick-or-treaters coming to your door, what are some of the types of giving people have asked you to participate in over the past few weeks? You might get asked by charitable organizations, college alumni funds, civic groups, etc.

How about this - Do some people give with the hope that it will somehow purchase approval or tip the scale their way in God’s eyes? If you thought that giving would somehow earn you a better life after death, would you give more and more often?

Understand the Context

*** Review: Hebrews in context:

--- Jesus is our eternal High Priest who is at the right hand of God to make intercession for believers.
--- Jesus is our once-and-for-all atoning sacrifice.
--- Jesus established the new covenant between God and His people through His life, death and resurrection.

*** Last week we talked about how we need to change our hearts. Jesus offered a new covenant based on relationship, not rules.

This week we are looking at Hebrews 9:11-15 as we explore the flaws in thinking that anything we offer can pay for sins.

CHRIST’S ENTRY (HEB. 9:11-12)

11 But the Messiah has appeared, high priest of the good things that have come. In the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands (that is, not of this creation), 12 He entered the most holy place once for all, not by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.

*** In the Old Testament believers atoned for their sins by using animal sacrifices. The first-century hearers of the Book of Hebrews would have understood that a blood sacrifice was required to enter a covenant with God. This understanding went as far back as Genesis 15 and God’s covenant with Abraham.

--- The reality is that the Old Testament priesthood pointed to Christ, and the Old Testament sacrifices foreshadowed Jesus’ saving blood that He shed for sinners.

*** What is flawed about trying to offer up something as a payment for sins?

*** Reflecting on what Jesus did through His crucifixion and resurrection, the writer reminded Christians of the good things that had come their way because of Him.

--- This is NOT an endorsement of the so-called prosperity gospel! It does not mean that if you have just 24 percent more faith you'll get a house that is 24 percent larger, or that God is happy because we're happy, as the Osteens like to say.

--- But let's talk about the good things that have indeed come. How has knowing Christ changed your life? Your work? Family? Your words? Your choices?

--- Jesus changed not just us, but all of history by fulfilling the prophecies, living a perfect life, dying on the cross and raised to life.

--- Philippians 2:5-11

5 Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus, 6 who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage. 7 Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men. And when He had come as a man in His external form, 8 He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death-even to death on a cross. 9 For this reason God highly exalted Him and gave Him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow- of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth- 11 and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

--- The world and the old covenant cannot return to a time before Christ. Sacrificing goats and and calves won't remove your sin. Only God's grace and your belief in Jesus' sacrifice can redeem us.

CHRIST’S SUPERIOR SACRIFICE (HEB. 9:13-14)

13 For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a young cow, sprinkling those who are defiled, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, 14 how much more will the blood of the Messiah, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works to serve the living God?

*** The perfect sacrifice.

--- We have a lot of respect for those who sacrifice their freedoms and sometimes even their lives. The public bickering over benefits for police and firefighters in Memphis is because of the balance we have of figuring out a budget that still respects those who protect and serve.

It's not just public servants who sacrifice. During World War II everyone on the U.S. supported the war through sacrifice, a range of volunteer efforts, plus rationing and price controls. Millions of students, retirees, housewives, and unemployed moved into the active labor force. Hours worked increased as leisure activities declined sharply. Most families were allocated only 3 gallons of gasoline a week. Production of most durable goods, like cars, new housing, vacuum cleaners, and kitchen appliances, was banned until the war ended. Meat and clothing were tightly rationed. Americans bought war bonds to fund the effort.

--- We are captivated by stories involving sacrifice. It captures the essence of what we are capable of doing under extreme circumstances.

By using those examples we can share with non-believers how Jesus is the only perfect sacrifice, and He did it for all of us. Dying on the cross for us he made a personal relationship with God possible for us.

--- In verses 13 and 14 we see that while animal sacrifices were good enough to cover sins externally in the old covenant, Jesus cleanses our hearts internally.

*** What are some things that people have done in efforts to make themselves right before God? (More works? Be nicer? Make deals with God?) Why are such efforts futile?

CHRIST’S MEDIATION (HEB. 9:15)

15 Therefore, He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called might receive the promise of the eternal inheritance, because a death has taken place for redemption from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.

*** This is our memory verse of the week! Let it serve as a reminder of all Jesus has and is doing on your behalf.

--- Jesus is a Mediator who willingly died to bring about an agreement between God and man. To mediate something means to bring it about, to put something into effect. In this case we’re talking about getting into a right relationship with God.

*** What is the value of Christ being our Mediator? Does it impact your understanding of Christ?

TAKE-AWAY POINTS

*** In sports perfection is measured by statistics.

--- Peyton Manning set the NFL record for touchdown passes. But he has also thrown over 220 interceptions.
--- Michael Jordan is remembered for making countless shots to win games. He also missed the game-winning shot 26 times.
--- A Hall of Fame baseball player could have 3,000 hits. But if they are .300 hitters that means they get out 7 out of 10 times.

What rituals or practices do you think a quarterback like Peyton Manning goes through in preparation for a football game? Reviewing films, rigid workout routine, proper rest, and so forth.

Are these rituals or practices important? Why or why not?

Consider these questions:

--- What rituals do you depend on in your spiritual life?

--- How does knowing Christ has paid for our sins take the pressure off spiritually?

--- What prevents you from fully trusting in the sacrificial atonement of Jesus Christ?

*** Hebrews 9:11-15 will confirm for us that the Messiah, Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, surpasses all through His atoning sacrifice. He is perfect — and only He can claim that.

When we confess our sins and trust in the perfect offering of Jesus through the cross, we receive forgiveness and grace.

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