Classic Christianity – Christmas P1 (12-23-19)
As this time of year approaches, many people will hear about Jesus. They may hear about his virgin birth, as told in the gospel of Luke, about Mary and a virgin birth. Many will hear about the Jesus of history, about a man who died, was buried and even rose again, but have not really thought about what all that means or accomplished for you. You may know about Jesus, but do you know Him?
So let us get a bigger picture of who this Jesus is. The book of Hebrews provides a panorama view of what Jesus came to accomplish on our behalf. We get a big picture of the entire history of God working with man, starting in the Old Testament, and even the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. See, Jesus is God in the flesh, and He is the solution to the problem every man born faces, sin and death. God sent Jesus into the world to solve this problem.
The writer of Hebrews shows the history of mankind’s struggle in all this, as observed in the Old Covenant with the Jews, and then you see the significance of this ushering of a New Covenant God made with man. This New Covenant God made with man replaced the Old Covenant God made with the Jewish people. This New Covenant is for all men, Jew and Gentile, and to all who accept this gift of God’s mercy and grace, there is new life, the power to participate in the divine nature God has given.
God gave the law to the Jewish people so that their sins may be temporarily covered until the time of Christ, and also so they do not destroy themselves in their sinful state. God used the law to prepare men’s hearts to see their condition, that they cannot keep the demands of the law so they may seek a Savior. The law was never designed to give men life. It was designed as a mirror so man can see their state of hopelessness and need of the life of Christ and come to him in complete trust. Prior to the cross, people put their trust in a coming Messiah. After the cross, people put their faith in Christ through the work Jesus completed. Salvation is by faith, from first to last.
Man was born dead through the sin of one man Adam, where death came to all men, because all sinned. So God sent Jesus to be born into this world to become sin for us. Jesus, who is the Son of God, indwelt with the Spirit of God, and is God, came to become a living sacrifice. He is the only one who has a life to lay down. His blood was of such value that when Jesus shed his blood, it took away all the sins of the world. Unlike under an Old Covenant system, where the sacrifice of bulls and goats could only cover sins, the blood of Jesus took away the sins of the entire world from the eyes of God.
This life that mankind needs is the Spirit of God that left Adam because of sin. That same Spirit also left Jesus, not because of any sin of his, for he had none. But he took upon the sins of the entire world for us, and therefore God was satisfied with the just punishment of death required of sin. The wages of sin is death. The sentence was guilty. Death was required for sin. We were declared guilty but Jesus paid it all.
Now that the consequence of sin, which is death, is taken away, forgiven, God can now offer eternal life. Jesus came to die in order to be raised again from the dead, so that the life that raised him from the dead could raise you and me from the dead. So salvation is not getting sins forgiven, for that was already done at the cross, and that while we were yet sinners. Death provided forgiveness and that only by the shedding of the blood of Jesus, a living sacrifice. Life is needed to give life. Salvation is the receiving of new life, and the resurrected life of Jesus is the only life available to mankind. That is why you read that Jesus did not come to condemn, because mankind was condemned already. Rather, Jesus came to give life to mankind that was lost in sin and death.
So the only sin that keeps someone from God is the sin of the rejection of the Son of God. That sin is refusing to accept what Jesus already provided for you, failing to recognize your condition of death, and, even if you did, refusing to come to Jesus to receive his resurrected life, the Spirit of the living God to come to live inside you. When you understand what the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus accomplished for you, and by believing in that work of Christ alone for you, receiving by faith, you are born again, and God places the Holy Spirit in you, and you become a part of the body of Christ. This is eternal life, to know God and His Son, Jesus Christ.
Only with the Spirit of God living in you, which occurs when you are born again, a new spiritual birth, can you function as God intended. The power of Christ in you is your life. You cannot fulfill the law in the energy of the flesh. You will always fall short just like a high jumper who always has one more bar to jump over, and the bar keeps being raised. That is what a Jew experienced under Old Covenant law. Love is the fulfillment of the law, and that is what Jesus, and only he could do, for you, and he obeyed perfectly by love, for God is love, without sinning once. Since His love is poured into your heart, the moment you are born again, you can allow His love to be produced in you and through you. You live by faith in the Son of God who loved you and gave himself for you.
Let us pick up in the 15th verse of chapter 9. But before we do, let us review some things in the book of Hebrews. I do not believe that there is a book in the bible that is any more important than the book of Hebrews. I, quite frankly, think that is why, in many instances, it is very seldom taught, because many times it is very seldom understood. Apart from getting a glimpse into the book of Hebrews, we do not know the depth of what Jesus came to accomplish on our behalf. Until we understand Hebrews, we do not understand the entire history of God working with man and then seeing the significance of finally coming to this earth to finally usher in a new covenant, a covenant of grace. The entire old testament, including the four gospels, was replaced, as we will read in the scriptures in chapter 8, with a New Covenant that God says He will make between God and man.
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 neighbor,
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.”
In this New Covenant with man, God says He will put His laws, the laws of Jesus, in your heart. These are the laws He will put in our hearts who believe.
34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[Deuteronomy 6:5] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[Leviticus 19:18] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Those are the laws that He will put in your hearts. Those are the laws Jesus said are the fulfillment of all of the prophets and all of the scriptures. The fulfillment of the entire Old Testament was fulfilled in love. Where that sacrifice has taken place, there is no more sacrifice for sin. That is all part of the New Covenant: “I will forgive their sins.” and “I will remember them no more.”
13 By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.
That is exactly what we have to get into our minds, if we are ever going to walk in the newness of life. That the old has to age and disappear in regard to the application of how do you live your Christian life. There is nothing in the Old Testament that is there for us to live. We cannot live it. If we could have lived by the demands of the Old Testament, then Jesus came and died for nothing.
21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”
If righteousness could have been obtained by the law, then Jesus would have been foolish to come to this world. If we could live in the energy of our own flesh, then, according to God, he was foolish to come.
The focal point of God’s total plan of salvation did not end at the resurrection. It ended on the day of Pentecost. It ended fifty days later when the Holy Spirit of God Jesus promised came. Feast of Weeks or Shavuot in New Testament is called Pentecost, coming 50 days after Passover or Unleavened Bread.
7 But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.
Jesus said it is good he is going away. For when he does, he promised to send the Holy Spirit to live in you. He said, “ Then you are going to be my people. You are going to be my body here on this earth.” The ultimate conclusion of the entire plan of salvation by God was at Pentecost, the day when Jesus came to invade our lives, to restore in us what we had lost in Adam, that being the Spirit of God living in us.
1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
Restoring life to man. That is the whole object of salvation, to restore life to man. That is what birth is, life. That is what Christ came to do, to give us new life. He came to give us new birth in Christ Jesus. That is nothing we can get down here. There is nothing man has to do with salvation. Either accept his offer or reject his offer. Man cannot add one iota to salvation. It was given for us and to us in order to live his life through us. But we have nothing to do with it but to accept it or reject it. So this new agreement between God and man was given to us. It was given to us out of his mercy and grace and love. Why? We had no chance at all of accomplishing this in the energy of our own flesh.
Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.
We talked about the fact how evident that was with the apostles. These are men who walked with Jesus, who talked with Jesus, who were with Jesus continually for three years. They saw his baptism. What was the purpose of his baptism? To show that he was Messiah to Israel. That is what John the Baptist said.
31 31 I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”
32 Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33 And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”[f]
He came to identify himself to Israel. The apostles were there. They were there with his death, burial and resurrection. They saw everything he did. They heard everything he said, yet were absolutely paralyzed until the day of Pentecost. These apostles until the day of Pentecost, and even after the death, burial and resurrection, were in hiding, trembling and fearful of what would happen to them. These same men who were living in hiding for fifty days.
19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”
On the day of Pentecost, when indwelt for the first time in all of history with the Spirit of God permanently to come live in us, then they went out and boldly proclaimed to the very people who killed Jesus.
22 “Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. 23 This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 24 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.
You people killed the Son of God. Where did that boldness come from? The Spirit of God living in you. Suddenly they were whole again. Just like a light bulb turning to function without electricity. Suddenly it can shine. Why? It is plugged into electricity. A car without gas can function again. Why? It now has gas in it. So it now can function. Man can now function as God intended man to function? Why? He is indwelt by God just as God designed man to be, to be indwelt by the living Christ.
The day of Pentecost is probably the most exciting day in the history of all Christendom. It was the beginning of the church. It was the beginning of man personally being indwelt by God permanently. That word permanently needs to be amplified. It was the first time God came to permanently to live in man including Jesus.
What happned to Jesus at the cross?
2 Corinthians 5:21
21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
He who knew no sin became sin. Was Jesus born with the the Spirit of God living in him? Absolutely. That is who he was.
34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.”
3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.
What happened at the cross when he who knew no sin became sin? The Spirit of God departed from him. Why? Because of our sin. What was the promise? When that happened, I am going to come back and raise you from the dead. That Spirit that raised him from the dead went to the Father and on the day of Pentecost entered man for the first time to give us permanent salvation, not temporary.
It is not salvation where the Spirit only lives in you today, but because of sin, leaves you tomorrow. The only thing that can cause the Spirit to depart from you and me is sin. The reason that is an impossibility is because of the cross, where he took away the sins of the world, and took away the cause of death.
1 John 2:2 (KJV)
2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!
The reason you and I know where we are going when we die is because I know whom I am while I am alive. We are forgiven people. All the world has been forgiven. There was only one sin accountable to man, according to Jesus, who we say we believe in.
John 16:9 (TLB)
9 The world’s sin is unbelief in me.
The sins of the world have all been placed on Jesus. That means Hitler’s. That means Mussolini’s. That means all these nut-cases running around in the world today. It also means you and me. The sins of the world have been taken away from the eyes of God never to see them again. There is only one sin attributable to man, the rejection of the Son who came to do that. It was only because of the quality of the blood of Christ, the Son of God, God Himself coming to this world that his life and blood was of such value that it was able to take away the sins of the world eternally from the eyes of God. Is that good news?
1 Peter 1:18-20
18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 20 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.
With this New Covenant that went into effect, it was finalized on the day of Pentecost, and that was the day when the body of Christ was formed. The body of Christ 2000 years ago, if you were to look for it, you would have to go back to Israel and look for Jesus of Nazareth. There you would have found the body of Christ. But he said this body is going away and it is for your I am good going way for when I do, I am going to send the Spirit in you and you are going to be my body. The day of Pentecost was the day the body of Christ was transferred from singular form, of Jesus of Nazareth, to people all over the world at the same time. Why we can do greater works than he is not in quality but in quantity because we are all over the place and he was at one place at one time.
12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
1 Corinthians 12:27
27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
So you are the body of Christ. That was something brand new. That was something that had never been before. The people could become the literal body of the Son of God here on this earth. All of this took place as a result of his New Covenant all in plan of God, the plan of God as to how he was going to bring salvation to us lost creatures.
I think one reason we become so complacent in the Christian life is we forget how lost we were and lost we are apart from Him. We come up with this nonsense, basically of saying “I am a good person”. Hopefully, you do not say it. Hopefully, you do not believe it.
17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
18 “Why do you call me good?”Jesus answered. “No one is good – except God alone.”
10 As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one”
It is like saying, “I just went out and killed a few people but basically I am a good person.” You hear it all the time. Basically you are not a good person. Why do bad things happen to good people? Because there are not any good people. If we were good we would not need Jesus. So we have to understand our hopeless condition apart from Christ.
All throughout the Old Testament was a history of man trying desperately to live a life pleasing to God in the energy of his own flesh. That is what the Old Testament is. That is what the four gospels are. When did the New Covenant go into effect? On the day that Jesus died.
16 In the case of a will, it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it, 17 because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living. 18 This is why even the first covenant was not put into effect without blood.
What are the gospels about? His life. When did the New Covenant start? At the birth of Christ or the death of Christ? At the death of Christ. So all through the Old Testament, and even the gospels, men are trying to live the Christian life in the energy of the flesh and falling flat on their face just like they did before Jesus ever came. God is saying, “You cannot do it before I came and you cannot do it when I came. You can only do it when the Spirit of God comes to live in you. Then and then alone will you have the power to carry out my life in this world.”
2 Peter 1:4
4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
Now just being indwelt by the Spirit of God is not going to do it. The Son of God is there now so you and I have the privilege in participating in that divine nature that lives in us. But I also have the ability to participate in my flesh. I am indwelt by life. I have life. But I live as if I didn’t. You have people who try to live a life they do not have. Then you have people who have a life they do not live. So you can have this life that you do not live and do not know it.
Or, you have come to Christ for his forgiveness only and have never been born again of the Spirit. You never came to him for life. You just came to him for forgiveness. That is not salvation. That is like people who come along with baptism. It takes away your sins. So, your sins are taken away. That is not salvation. Why are you camping on that for? You are not saved by the death of Christ. You are saved by the life of Christ.
10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son [that is when you are lost], how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!
That is why Paul said without the resurrection we are to be pitied of all men and are still dead in our sins.
1 Corinthians 15:13-19
13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.
Why? Resurrection is supposed to give life to the dead. Forgiveness does not give life. Forgiveness gives forgiveness. Life gives life. Many times people have been conned to come forward to get your sins forgiven and go back to the pew as dead as when you came to the altar. That is why they are called pews. Dead people sitting in them. Why? They were not told what life is.
They had been given a false gospel of coming to Jesus to get your sins forgiven. That is not salvation. You come to Jesus to get Jesus. You come unto him. “Come unto me not come unto my forgiveness. You come unto me.” The bible says that in Him you have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace
So where was forgiveness provided then received? In Him. In His resurrected life. Quite frankly, that is why so many people on the face of this earth are saying “I am saved”, but living with doubts all your life, but do not want to think about it. You have all these doubts because somebody told him when he comes forward to get sins forgiven they are saved. You have no more power then than the apostles had before the day of Pentecost. Sincere. Honest. But they had no power to live a life that they did not have.
So this day, his New Covenant is a phenomenal plan of God that he put into effect, so that we could be plugged into God eternally and to live the life that he called us to live. So by calling this New Covenant new he has made the first one obsolete and what is obsolete is aging and will soon disappear.
What does that man in regards to the Old Covenant do? What does it say about it? What is in the Old Testament? The law. Is the law all thrown away in the Old Testament or is it just the first five books of the Old Testament? The first five books of the Old Testament just explain the law you were to live by all the way up to Malachi. They were still moaning and groaning in Malachi. He gave us all those books. All those books, which is a life of man desperately trying to live in the energy of his flesh and falling flat on his face, and in the midst of it, God is showing us His faithfulness.
His plan was “I am going to give you plenty of time to prove to yourself you cannot do it. You cannot do it. One of these days you are going to be prepared and having long enough experience that you cannot do it and I am going to come and show you who did, and that is Jesus.”
15 For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant,
You have the Old Covenant. You have your Old Testament. You have your old will. All of those are interchangeable. A covenant is a will. A testament is a will. If you have a will and a testament, that is your will. You have prepared it now while you were alive, but when will it go into effect? When you died and not a day sooner. Same thing with Jesus. That was the Old Testament and it went away. The new one replaced it on the day of his death. Why? Because everything he needed to do had been accomplished for you and me. He took away our sins. He was raised from the dead. “In fifty days, I will give you life. When I give you life, it is all done. It is over. You have everything you need now for life and godliness.”
2 Peter 1:3
3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.
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.
16 In the case of a will, it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it,
17 because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living.
We all know that, don’t we, in regard to our will?
18 This is why even the first covenant was not put into effect without blood.
In other words, without a forfeiture of life. The only difference was, it was not our life, but a life of an animal. But an animal sacrifice cannot handle it. The forfeiture of an animal on our behalf could cover sins, but a forfeiture of an animal on our behalf could never take away sins from the eyes of God. It took a living sacrifice for that and a living sacrifice was none of us. It had to be Him.
19 When Moses had proclaimed every command of the law to all the people, he took the blood of calves, together with water, scarlet wool and branches of hyssop, and sprinkled the scroll and all the people. 20 He said, “This is the blood of the covenant, which God has commanded you to keep.”
Uh, oh. This is the covenant I commanded you to keep. Where did the problem develop? Right there. This is the covenant I commanded you to keep. What did the mind find out about that? He cannot keep it. Do you think it shocked God? No. Paul said this.
11 For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death. 12 So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good.
13 Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! Nevertheless, in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it used what is good to bring about my death, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.
There is nothing wrong with the law. It is holy and good. But when it flows through me, what does it do? It kills me. It is nothing wrong. It is holy and good. But I cannot keep it. I am trying like crazy but I cannot keep it. What happens to people like that when you keep raising the bar? You get over this bar. What do you do? You raise it. You keep raising the bar. You get up to this point, you raise it. With me it is only a curb. When I was younger, maybe higher. But now I am older, it is just a curb. That is about as good as I can do so do not raise it any higher than a curb for me. But the point is you keep raising the bar. What happens when you get to the point you cannot get over it? You get frustrated. Why? Someone keeps saying, “Get over it. You ought to be able to get over it. You ought to be able to do that. Your faith is not big enough. Get some bigger faith and and you can jump higher.” So what happens to people? They bug out. I cannot do it. God has commanded me to do it. He wants me to do it but I can’t do it. So I am out of here. “Audios, God. If I ever see you, I will see you in heaven but I will take care of the earth. I will do it my way, just like Frank Sinatra, because I cannot do it Your way.” It is not even necessarily I do not want to do it my way but I cannot do it yours so the only one I have left is me. So I will just do it my way.
So that is what we have in the world today. So we have people doing it their way and falling flat on their face. At least it is better than facing the condemnation of God saying you cannot do it. That is what people are rebelling against. People are not rebelling against Jesus. They do not know Jesus exists. If they do, they do not know who Jesus is. How can you rebel against someone who loves you to death. So you are not really rebelling against Jesus. You are rebelling against religion. You are rebelling against a religion, a religion that says I demand you keep it and you cannot do it so I give up. I told many people, “You are a good rebel”. They came in and say “I hate religion”. “I do too. You are a good rebel.”
You ought to be rebelling against religion. You have good company. You have Jesus, the apostles and all the early Christians, rebelling against religion. Jesus did not come to give us religion. He came to give us life. You do not live by principles. You do not live by law. You do not live by promises. You live by a life, and it is not yours, it is his.
20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
It is no longer you. It is Him. So he says here is the covenant which God has commanded you to keep.
21 In the same way, he sprinkled with the blood both the tabernacle and everything used in its ceremonies. 22 In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.
There is no forgiveness without the shedding of blood. None. How many of you believe that? How many of you do not? How many do believe that? Without the shedding of blood, how much forgiveness is there? None.
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