Take Me To Church

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Hebrews 10.24-25

Some may say, well, I go gather with Christians for breakfast once a month, or, I go to a home-group. Is that what we are talking about?

“The words, not neglecting to meet together, presumably refer to worship meetings…the Greek word suggests some official assembly.” (Guthrie)

We are talking, then, of the formal, organised, gathering and assembling of the church.

So, a home growth group is good, but not church, and not what we are talking about. It’s a supplement to your diet, not your diet.

Watching sermons from your favourite preacher on YouTube, is good, if they are biblically sound, but it’s not church. 

Reading devotionals is good, listening to podcasts is goo, but it is not church. 

None of those things are going to give you a hug when you are sad. 

None of those things are going to help you with your day-to-day life when you need practical help. 

None of those things are going to drive to your house when they hear you are having a tough time or have hurt yourself.

None of those things will rearrange their schedules or drop everything to do something for you.

None of those things I’m going to call you up and offer you a word of encouragement spontaneously because the Holy Spirit prompting them to do so.

Church does.

Church is a special thing, church is a unique thing, church is a holy and sacred thing that we must not neglect to be part of. 

We should want to be at everything with everyone all the time.

Practically, you will never be with everyone and at everything all the time…but is that your intention when you have a choice?

Given a choice, do you choose church, the living body of Christ?

Why do I need to go to church?

To fill our hearts with full assurance of faith.

To strengthen our hands to hold fast our confession.

To consider, to think deeply, how to stir one another up to love and good works.

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N.T. Wright wrote that every Christian who comes through the door in the place of worship is a real encouragement to everyone else who is there. 

And for that reason we need to have the attitude of ‘take me to church’.

Hebrews 10.1-18 – Never, Never, Forever

Forgiveness costs somebody something, somebody absorbs the offence to offer forgiveness.

Jesus’ sacrifice was God’s final answer to the universal problem of human sin, and is the only way to be forever forgiven. He absorbed the offence for you.

The New Covenant that Jesus died to initiate has to do with an inner transformation. God changes the heart of man, and writes His law into our hearts. This is a deeper remedy than the blood of bulls and goats, this cleanses our conscience, this is a new birth of a new creation, this is real and true and lasting forgiveness.

Jesus offers you complete forgiveness,

you are forever forgiven. 

The forgiveness is so complete that God says He will never call to mind our sin, and when God says something, it happens.

I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.

Hebrews 10.17

For us, we’ve go to do with sin exactly what God has done: forget about it.

We need to recognise it, admit we have sinned, realise it, realise that alone we can never cancel out that record, repent of it, turn away from it, and receive it, accept the forgiveness on offer. Acknowledge it, as God did in sending Christ, but have it dealt with and leave it unthought of.

Sin removes us from God and His presence,

forgiveness rejoins us. 

God sees you as positionally perfect, nothing to add to make you good enough in His eyes, He looks at you and sees the righteousness of Christ, God looks at us and He sees forgiven sinners, He sees you as perfect because there is nothing left to add in terms of forgiveness and reconciliation. 

So, where do we stand? We stand forgiven in His eyes with a repentant faith in Jesus.

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This devotional was part of a message given at Saar Fellowship, hear it in full at saarfellowship.com

Hebrews 9.11-28 – A Greater Blood, Death, and Sacrifice

11 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) 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. 13 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, 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.

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.[h] 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.

To the original readers/hearers this passage would have meant that 

  • The blood of Jesus is far greater than anything you have been offering before.
  • The blood of Jesus can cleanse you on the deepest level.
  • The blood of Jesus offers true and eternal redemption.
  • The blood of Jesus offers provision and protection for your life. 
  • The blood of Jesus is enough. 

Once, for all.

What did the blood of Jesus do for me, now, today?

It secured you an eternal redemption, an eternal relationship with God, an eternal life, an eternal forgiveness of sins.

We say ‘it’s in the blood’ but why? How?

It is His provision, His protection, His blood that covers your sin. 

Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin (Leviticus 17.11), and His is perfect, sinless, spotless, and supreme. His provision is eternal and heavenly, His protection is against sin past, present, and future. 

Jesus gave a greater sacrifice, died a greater death, and shed His greater blood for you to have eternal redemption. 

What do we do with this then?

Understand why the blood of Jesus is greater.

Live as if Jesus shed His blood for you. 

Live as those bought for a price, the price of greater blood, a greater death, and a greater sacrifice.

Live as those who are eagerly waiting for Him.


This devotional was taken from a message given at Saar Fellowship, more can be found here!


https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/saar-fellowship-podcast/id1461704931

http://www.saarfellowship.com

Hebrews 9.1-10 – Permanence

What are we to do about the transience, the change, the uncertainties of life?

These are things we all experience, aren’t they. We are all looking for some permanence, something to build our lives on, something that allows us to find what we are seeking.

We are all looking for permanence in our relation to God, is this permanence really possible?

Daniel Webster offered excellent advice as to where we find this, saying, 

If we work on marble it will perish. 

If we work on brass, time will erase it. 

If we rear temples, they will crumble to dust. 

But if we work on men’s immortal minds, if we give them high principles, with just fear of God and love of their fellow-men, we engrave on those tablets something which time cannot erase, and which will brighten and brighten to all eternity.

God actually wants permanent, lasting, ongoing fellowship and relationship with you, not repeated and temporary atonement through sacrifice and vicarious representation.

Because He is greater than temporary sacrifices, temporary places of worship, temporary access to God, Jesus brings permanence to all people.

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Now even the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly place of holiness. For a tent was prepared, the first section, in which were the lampstand and the table and the bread of the Presence. It is called the Holy Place. Behind the second curtain was a second section called the Most Holy Place, having the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron’s staff that budded, and the tablets of the covenant. Above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail.

These preparations having thus been made, the priests go regularly into the first section, performing their ritual duties, but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the unintentional sins of the people. By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the holy places is not yet opened as long as the first section is still standing (which is symbolic for the present age). According to this arrangement, gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper, 10 but deal only with food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until the time of reformation.

Hebrews 9.1-10

What does this mean for our lives now?

All the Christian things we do; go to church, read the Bible, serving, giving, praying, gathering, loving, it all connects us with God.

The parable of the old ways of doing things pointed to a time when we can do it like this (vv.8-10), where we can be we, the church, where we can do all of this stuff as regular, normal people because of what Jesus did for us.

Through faith in Him and His finished work on the cross and having Him as our great High Priest, we can enjoy permanent fellowship and relationship with God. 

Permanence in our relation to God is available, and it is available through Jesus. 

 

Hebrews 1.1-2 – Many Into One

The letter to the Hebrews is a great part of the Bible. It almost typifies the whole thing; it’s a book about how much greater than everything else Jesus is. We have been preaching through it verse by verse for a while at Saar Fellowship, and we’ll resume this study in a couple of weeks. If you want to refresh yourself before we do, you can do so here. The letter begins like this,

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.

Hebrews 1.1-2

The anonymous writer begins by referencing his shared Jewish past with his audience by saying long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets. As we have been working through the Minor Prophets over the summer, we have said that each and every one of them points to Jesus, as does all of Scripture (John 5.39-40). So God spoke to the previous generations referenced here by the prophets, who all pointed to the coming of Jesus. 

Now, says the writer to the Hebrews, He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed the heir of all things, through whom also He created the world.


 

The whole counsel of God’s Word anticipates Jesus, previews Jesus, prepares us for Jesus, reveals Jesus, details Jesus, reviews Jesus, and promises that He will come again.

For us, today, now, just think – how does this change me? How does this affect my day? How does the fact that the entire Divine narrative points to One person impact me? 

God’s message is now so concentrated, the smoke has lifted and we see clearer than ever that Jesus is the way, Jesus is the truth, and Jesus is the life, and that without Him, we will never be in right relationship with God the Father (John 14.6).

In visual form, it looks like this,

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many into one.

This One person wants to have a personal relationship with you. This person died a substitutionary death for you so that, if you believe in Him, your sins won’t be held against you. As the message of the Prophets went from many into One, so did the consequences of our sin; many consequences into One person. 

Now we know this to be true, the choice is ours – what will we do?