Week Commencing Sunday 22nd November

Week Commencing Sunday 22nd November 2020.

Call to worship

…since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to feel sympathy for our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:14-16)

This morning we continue to look at the blessings of the New Covenant compared to the Old from the book of Hebrews.

But before we appreciate what these blessings mean for us, we must worship the One who has made them possible. Our Lord Jesus Christ. He is our great high priest. He is the one ‘who ever lives and pleads for me.’  

Let’s sing the words of the well-known hymn ‘Before the throne of God above.’

 

Hymn

 

1 Before the throne of God above,
I have a strong and perfect plea,
a great high priest whose name is Love,
who ever lives and pleads for me.
My name is graven on his hands,
my name is written on his heart.
I know that while in heaven he stands,
no tongue can bid me thence depart, 
no tongue can bid me thence depart.

2 When Satan tempts me to despair
and tells me of the guilt within,
upward I look and see him there,
who made an end to all my sin.
Because the sinless Saviour died,
my sinful soul is counted free;
for God, the just, is satisfied
to look on him and pardon me,
to look on him and pardon me.

3 Behold him there, the risen Lamb,
my perfect, spotless righteousness,
the great unchangeable I AM,
the King of glory and of grace!
One with himself I cannot die.
My soul is purchased by his blood!
My life is hid with Christ on high,
with Christ, my Saviour and my God,
with Christ, my Saviour and my God

 

 

 

Prayer

Father God what a privilege it is that we can come freely into your presence this morning- all because the Son of God- Jesus Christ -is our great High Priest. Through the cross the sinless Saviour died so our sinful souls are counted free. Now we are justified in your presence, for although you are holy and just, you are satisfied to look upon Christ and pardon us. Thank you Lord Jesus you are indeed the risen lamb- our perfect spotless righteousness.

Thank you Father it is with that knowledge we can approach your throne of grace this morning with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Praise you Lord. Amen.

 

Reading Hebrews 9:11-15

911 But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that are now already here,[a] he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands, that is to say, is not a part of this creation. 12 He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. 13 The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. 14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death so that we may serve the living God! 15 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 9:11-15).

The high priests in the Old Testament made meticulous sacrifices. The blood of goats and bulls were sprinkled on the people to ‘cleanse’ the people. This was an outer cleansing.

Hebrews 9 further describes how Moses sprinkled blood on the tabernacle and everything used in the ceremonies. Hebrews 9:22 states ‘in fact the law required that nearly everything be cleansed with blood.’

But the New Testament recognises Christ is a superior high priest.

The Old Testament sacrifices were a shadow of the reality to come. They prefigured Christ’s offering of himself: his own life and blood given in sacrifice for us. This sacrifice cleanses our consciences which is an inner cleansing.

Hebrews 9 describes how the Old Testament high priest entered once a year into the inner room of the temple- the holy of holies- but ‘never without blood.’ (9:7). But Christ entered the most holy place- heaven- by his own blood.

When Christ died for us on the cross, the temple curtain was torn in two (Matthew 27:51).This symbolises how all who have faith in Christ now enter into God’s very presence, accepted as sons and daughters (2 Corinthians 6:18). He has opened up for us a new and living way.

We are going to listen to a song written and sung by Michael Card that reflects these key truths from Hebrews 9, ‘A New and Living Way’

Song. ‘A New and Living Way’

 

Year after year there the priest would stand
An offering of blood held out in in his hand
Before the curtain there he would stand in fright
It hung there to hold in the holy ~ to keep in the light

(Chorus). A new and living way
Through the curtain that was torn
The climax of the cross
The moment our hope was born
By a new and living way

And when time was full another Priest came to save
He would offer forgiveness for He was the Offering He gave
From the sacrifice ~ from that dark disgrace
Came the power to make anywhere a Most holy place

Chorus

By a new and living way
With confidence we come

So let us come now with confidence
With sprinkled hearts ~ with reverence
And hold unswervingly to that Hope
As we look and see that day approach

Chorus (x2)

 

By a New and Living Way
A New and Living Way
A New and Living Way

 

 

Michael Card

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pukBzgHDWTM

  •  

Prayers

  1. Prayer of confession:

Father God, I feel guilty and unclean. It seems as if my constant wrongdoings have made me ashamed to speak to you. I am truly sorry for my sins. Please forgive me, accept me as your child, and renew me, even though I don’t deserve it. Thank you for Jesus’ blood, which makes me clean. I ask you to forgive me for his sake. Amen (The Lion Prayer Collection)

  1. Prayer in the storms of life:

Lord in the storms of life, bid us come to you, that we, who are aware of our weakness, may be strong; through the power of Christ our Lord.

When we are in danger of being overwhelmed, increase our faith. When troubles beset us, let us hear you say, ‘Take heart, it is I: do not be afraid.’ Give to your church a new vision of yourself and of your saving power. Go with us as we go out to proclaim your love. We pray for areas where the church is struggling or being overwhelmed, for all evangelists and pastors overworked or in danger. We pray for all who reach out in faith towards you.

Show us your mercy, O Lord,

And grant us your salvation

We pray for areas of the world where there have been floods or other natural disasters. We pray about Covid 19, this pestilence sweeping the world. We thank you for answered prayers; that there are vaccines now being developed, but help us to learn the lesson of true priorities: of you and your kingdom and so lay aside rebellion and idolatry. You make us aware of eternal realities in times of testing and so bring us to our senses. (Compare Luke 13: 4, 5; 1 Peter 1:3-7. See also Update 4/10/20).

Show us your mercy, O Lord,

And grant us your salvation

We give thanks for all who have supported us in times of trouble or distress. We pray for friends who are in need at this time. We pray that we will not be a burden to any, but a strength. We remember all who are finding caring for their home overwhelming.

Show us your mercy, O Lord,

And grant us your salvation

We pray for all who are down, the fearful, the weary, the despairing. We pray for all who are unable to help themselves. We remember all who give us a helping hand. We pray for carers, home helps, social workers. We remember those who are suffering in their care of another.

Show us your mercy, O Lord,

And grant us your salvation

We give thanks for those who are beyond the storms of life and have come to the haven of rest. Thank you Father for the promise of eternal life through your Son Jesus Christ for all who believe. Though our faith is weak, we reach out to you, for you are almighty.

Show us your mercy, O Lord,

And grant us your salvation. Amen                       (From ‘Clouds and Glory.’ David Adam)

  1. Prayer for the work of Sussex Gospel Partnership (Week of Prayer 22nd-28th Nov.):

Sovereign Lord, we praise you for the gospel and for the encouragement of partnership in the gospel.  Thank you for the SGP, the Sussex Gospel Partnership, and we pray that it will help us to partner together effectively for the advance of the gospel in our region.  We pray by your power you will bring to fruition the SGP’s vision of a growing gospel church in every Sussex Community. We pray for the continued growth of the Partnership and for churches and church leaders to be strengthened and built up through the ministry of the SGP.  Help us in maintaining effective gospel partnership though this time of the pandemic. Amen. https://sussexgospelpartnership.org.uk/

 

Reading. Hebrews 8:8-13

 But God found fault with the people and said:

“The days are coming, declares the Lord,
    when I will make a new covenant
with the people of Israel
    and with the people of Judah.
It will not be like the covenant
    I made with their ancestors
when I took them by the hand
    to lead them out of Egypt,
because they did not remain faithful to my covenant,
    and I turned away from them,
declares the Lord.
10 This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel
    after that time, declares the Lord.
I will put my laws in their minds
    and write them on their hearts.
I will be their God,
    and they will be my people.
11 No longer will they teach their neighbour,
    or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’
because they will all know me,
    from the least of them to the greatest.
12 For I will forgive their wickedness
    and will remember their sins no more.” a

13 By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.  (a Jeremiah 31:31-34).

 

Sermon. ‘From Shadows to Substance.’ Part 2

We saw last week that Hebrews 8, verses 8-13 home in on the New Covenant. This is the substance, while the Old Covenant was the shadow. We began to investigate the blessings of the New Covenant last Sunday by looking in depth at the twin blessings of inward change and intimacy with God (10).

Today we look at two more blessings of the New Covenant described in our passage from Hebrews 8, namely that all can know the blessings of the New Covenant and the New Covenant provides complete forgiveness from sins. So let’s begin with the first of these blessings:

All can know the blessings of the New Covenant. “They will all know me from the least of them to the greatest” (11)

Since all believers have access to God through Jesus’ sacrifice, then we are all priests “But you are a chosen people, a holy royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God” 1 Peter 2:9). We are that royal priesthood. Under the Old Covenant the people were reliant on human mediators; priests chosen from the tribe of Levi. But for us believers there is no need for any human mediator. Jesus is the one mediator (1 Timothy 2:5).

We are all priests. Every believer has access to God through prayer and reading the Bible. In that sense we can understand Jeremiah’s words: “No longer will a man teach his neighbour, or a man his brother saying “know the Lord”, because they will all know me” However, the New Testament recognises certain offices within the church such as pastors and teachers. There is still a need for these. But under the New Covenant every believer knows God.

The priesthood of all believers is an important principle within the Baptist understanding of church life. Now it is true leaders are appointed and are expected to lead, and appointed elders/teachers within the church cannot teach one thing and then be expected to practise something contrary- particularly on conscience/ethical issues. But it’s the church meeting where authority ultimately rests since all believers have access to Christ and can together seek his will. That is not the same as a democracy where all seek their own preference, rather, as this statement has it “the church meeting is the occasion when as individuals and as a community, we submit ourselves to the guidance of the Holy Spirit and stand under the judgements of God that we may know what is the mind of Christ”

And since all members are priests, then all members can minister according to the gifts the Lord has given. We see this in Paul’s teaching on the body of Christ. The picture is of team ministry, consisting of a variety of ministries which in turn are used to prepare God’s people for works of service. (Ephesians .4:11, 12).

All can be used. God is generous and creative. There should be variety of personality and gifting at work in the life of his church, and the encouraging of all to be involved. No one is insignificant. You have a part to play

And when each member does their part we not only accomplish more together, but we do it with less stress and difficulty all around:

Have you ever wondered why geese fly in a V formation? Scientists put their computers and flight simulators to work and discovered the answer- flocks of geese form this pattern because it’s the easiest way to fly. The formation acts aerodynamically like a single wing; that is, wind drag is distributed equally across all the birds. This in turn reduces drag on each individual bird. Twenty five geese flying together in a V can travel seventy percent farther than one goose flying alone.

Because the lead goose actually situates itself slightly behind the perfect point position of the V, the geese that follow relieve some of the wind drag. It does not have to work harder than the others.

The benefit of the air flow pattern in the V- because it acts as a single wing- goes both ways. While the lead birds pull along those that are behind, the followers’ flight sends relief back up to the front. You have a part to play.

All can know the blessings of the New Covenant

Secondly, the New Covenant provides complete forgiveness from sins: “I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more” (12)

This is the great fundamental promise underlying the New Covenant. The people of the Old Covenant had forgiveness of sins. But they experienced an incomplete and temporary forgiveness. They had to keep making sacrifices for sin. None of the old sacrifices provided everlasting pardon. But under the new covenant Christ’s sacrifice really does provide that: Why?

Well, Christ’s sacrifice truly atones for sin- these previous sacrifices carried out by the priests, could not atone for sins- they were shadows pointing to the reality that would take place through Christ’s sacrifice. But Christ is both the high priest and the perfect offering, He dies in our place. He turns aside God’s wrath that should be directed against us for our sins. His shed blood cleanses our consciences. His sacrifice truly atones for sins. 

Since His sacrifice truly atones for our sins, there is no longer a requirement for any further sacrifices to be made. Only his one sacrifice is required. “Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people” (9:28). The forgiveness given under the New Covenant is permanent not temporary.

Perhaps you have remembered some dreadful thing you have said or done. Others have not forgiven you. Perhaps you struggle to forgive yourself. You may have asked God to forgive you many times and you feel he never has. But I want to reassure you, under the terms of this New Covenant promise, the first time you asked him to forgive you – he did so. He forgave it and no longer remembers it. No forgiven sin can ever be brought against you again. He says to you “I will remember your sins no more”

And that pardon is eternal, because Jesus himself is a high priest forever. As high priest he did not enter a man-made tabernacle but heaven itself (9:24). The man- made tabernacle was just a shadow, but heaven, where Christ reigns, is the substance. From there He continues to apply the benefit of his saving work to men and women. His death and resurrection have opened up the way for us to have direct access to God now, but it also has opened up the way for our being received into heaven too when we die.

Christ’s one sacrifice brings us eternal redemption.

Love

Love bade me welcome: yet my soul drew back,

Guiltie of dust and sinne

But quick-ey’d Love, observing me grow slack

From my entrance in,

Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning,

If I lack’d any thing.

 

A guest, I answer’d,

Worthy to be here: Love said, You shall be he.

I the unkinde, ungratefull? Ah my deare,

I cannot look on thee.

Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,

Who made the eyes but I?

 

Truth Lord, but I have marr’d them: let my shame

Go where it doth deserve.

And know you not, sayes Love, who bore the blame?

My deare, then I will serve,

You must sit down, says Love, and taste my meat:

So I did sit and eat.                                                                                    (George Herbert, 1593-1633)

 

Prayer

Thank you Lord for your promises:

 “I will put their laws in their minds and write them on their hearts”

“I will be their God, and they will be my people”

“They will all know me”

“I will remember their sins no more.”

Thank you the Old Testament priesthood and sacrifices are obsolete now you our great high priest has come and brought us eternal salvation.

Thank you the Old Covenant is the shadow, the New Covenant is the substance.

 

Hymn

 

Loved before the dawn of time,
Chosen by my Maker,
Hidden in my Saviour,
I am His and He is mine,
Cherished for eternity.

When I’m stained with guilt and sin,
He is there to lift me,
Heal me and forgive me;
Gives me strength to stand again,
Stronger than I was before.

So with every breath that I am given
I will sing salvation’s song;
And I’ll join the chorus of creation
Giving praise to Christ alone.

All the claims of Satan’s curse
Lifted through His offering,
Satisfied through suffering;
All the blessings He deserves
Poured on my unworthy soul.

Singing glory, honour, wisdom, power
To the Lamb upon the throne;
Hallelujah, I will lift Him high.
Hallelujah I will sing

Stars will fade and mountains fall;
Christ will shine forever,
Love’s unfading splendour.
Earth and heaven will bow in awe,
Joining in salvation’s song.

 

Stuart Townend & Andrew Small

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WWehzQbQ6IA

 

Blessing.

May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us. Amen.

David Barnes (18/11/20)