Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 3 * PART 2 * BOOK 52
The Believer’s Sacrifice – Part 2
Hebrews 12:18 – 13:25
Many have written and said you feel like you are sitting there on the back row of our class, and that’s just exactly the way we want you to feel, that it’s a learning experience and we trust you’ll do as everybody does here. They have their own notes and Bibles and we just trust that we can show what the Scriptures say. It doesn’t matter what Les Feldick thinks or what anybody else thinks, it’s what does the Word of God say.
As this class begins, we’re in Hebrews chapter 12, and let’s pick right up where we left off in our last program. We were in the middle of verse 23, and reading the whole verse, remember, we pointed out that there were seven things that pertained to the physical and the visible aspect of Mt. Sinai. And the flip-side was these seven that are associated with our spiritual relationship and position in the heavenlies. And so we came through verse 22 where we have come to the city of the living God, “the heavenly Jerusalem,” not the earthly one, and “to an innumerable company of angels” which is part of the heavenly abode:
“To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven,…” Which of course in Paul’s language is a reference to those of us in the Body of Christ.
“… which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all,…” Now we covered that at the close of the program – how that every believer will come before the Bema Seat to be judged for reward.
“…and to the spirits of just men made perfect.” I couldn’t just pass that part up. We have to stop for this. Who are the spirits of just men made perfect? Well, let’s go back to Romans chapter 3 so that we pick up the scriptural account of what Paul is talking about. I always like to drop down to verse 23 where we have, what shall I say, the culmination of everything that has been building in the first three chapters here in Romans – and that is the conclusion that mankind are sinners, with none excepted – Jew or Gentile, rich or poor, good or bad; it doesn’t make any difference.
“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” But it doesn’t stop there. You move right into the next verse and here we have that glorious hope of salvation that is extended to every human being, none excepted – and that is that we are justified by His grace.
“Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:” Being justified by His grace, His unmerited favor! God didn’t have to do this, but He did. And so now we are justified freely by His grace through the redemption, or the process of paying our sin debt, that is in Christ Jesus. Now verse 25.
“Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, (that shed, atoning blood of the cross) to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;” And verse 26 is the verse I wanted to come to for “of just men made perfect” back in Hebrews. How? Paul says, at this time, that the righteousness of Christ, and because He, as the righteous One, has finished the work of redemption – He died the death that every sinner should have died.
“To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” It’s something that anybody can do. There are no strings attached. That’s what makes it so simple. That God, the Righteous One, Who paid the price of redemption for every human being, finished the work of the cross that He, in turn, might be the One to justify anyone who believes in that finished work. It’s that simple. And oh, my goodness, as I have used the illustration over and over since we’ve come past Hebrews chapter 1, that twice in all of Biblical history, starting back in Genesis, God did something so perfect, so immaculately perfect, there wasn’t anything He could do but sit down to show that it was finished. The first one was creation and He looked at creation and everything was so perfect, there wasn’t anything He could correct.
In fact, I used this analogy in one of my classes the other night. I said, “How many of you have built a new home and, after you’ve moved in, you have to call your contractor back to correct mistakes?” I had one guy really nodding his head. Well, he wasn’t the guy who had the new home – he was the contractor! He knew only too well what it was to go back and correct little errors that they had made. A cupboard door didn’t fit or something like that. But God didn’t have to do that. It was perfect and He sat down. The second time was, as Hebrews places it then, that when He had purged us from our sin, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty. And again, why? Because the work of salvation, the work of the cross was so perfect there wasn’t anything He could do; it was all done.
And then I used this analogy. How would you like to have a little two-year-old come along, after you had a brass lamp perfectly polished, and smear it up? Well, that’s what man has done with God’s perfect plan of salvation. They have smeared it all up with their additions of “do this” and “do that.”
How it must break the heart of God when He has made it so available that no matter who it is, no matter how vile they are, or how steeped in a false cult they may be – the moment they believe in that finished work, God justifies them! He declares them just. He declares them righteous. Oh, that’s beyond human comprehension and I don’t expect people to understand it, just believe it; God will take care of the rest. Just believe it. So now, if you’ll come back with me to Hebrews, maybe that verse will just jump off the page at you the next time you see it.
“…and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,” He’s the “Judge of all and the spirits of just men,” or righteous men. That’s what the word “just” here means. “Of righteous men made perfect.” That is in God’s eyes. Not in the eyes of men, but in God’s eyes, the righteous Judge. Now let’s move into verse 24, and that also would be numbers 6 and 7 of these seven items that are in the area of the spiritual, now, instead of the physical. Verse 24:
“And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, …” There’s the 6th item. It’s in the realm of the spiritual. It’s not a physical mountain like Sinai. It’s not thunder and lightening and voices like they heard. But these are things that we take by faith. So the fact that He is the mediator of this new arrangement, this new covenant as He uses the word right here. The New Testament is the word that we’re accustomed to hearing.
“And to Jesus the mediator …” Well, we’ve used it before so let’s use it again. Come back with me to I Timothy, chapter 2, because I prefer to let the Scripture do the talking. I think I’ll just start with verse 1 so we pick up the flow – and of course this is Paul admonishing his son in the faith, Timothy. And so he says:
I Timothy 2:1-2a
“I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2. For kings,…” That’s why I’m always stressing in my classes in Oklahoma, you pray for that president every day. You pray for him. The Scripture instructs us to.
I Timothy 2:2-5a
“For kings, and for all that are in authority; (and the end result is for our own pursuit of happiness, as our Constitution puts it) that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. 3. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; 4. Who will have all men to be saved, ( God’s not willing that any should perish) and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.. 5. For there is one God,…” One! Not several! Don’t you believe this old hogwash that you can pick and choose and take your own way. There is only one. Someone said to me one time up in Minnesota that he appreciated my teaching an exclusive gospel. At first I didn’t know what he meant, but I do now. And when I say exclusive, I mean there is no other. The Scripture is full of it – “There is no other name given under heaven among men whereby we must be saved.” Paul says in I Corinthians, “Lord I have laid the foundation. There is no other foundation, but Christ Jesus.” Here it is again.
I Timothy 2:5
“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;” Now remember, as we’ve come through Hebrews, Paul has been stressing the position of God the Son. The Son, but He was man, He was human, He walked, He talked, He ate; but He never stopped being God. And as such then, He can be the mediator between men and the invisible God. Alright, so read it again, verse 5: “There is one God, one mediator between that one God and man, and it’s the man Christ Jesus.” Which of course, comes back to the fact that as a member of the Trinity, God the Son is just as much God as God the Father; and in their Triune headship, they are one. But nevertheless, Jesus the Christ is the Mediator between man and God. Alright, back to Hebrews chapter 12, then, and so this is one other part of the seven attributes there in the spiritual realm:
“And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling,…” That we already saw referenced in Romans chapter 3, that it was that blood that was the price of redemption that had to be paid for the satisfaction of our sin debt.
“…that speaketh better things than that of Abel.” The blood of Christ is far better than that animal sacrificial blood of Abel. Now I hope you haven’t been misled in Sunday school or anywhere else – that the comparison here is between the blood of Christ and the blood of Abel, who was murdered. That’s not what it’s teaching. That has nothing to do with it whatsoever. What we’re saying is that the blood of Christ was so far better than the animal blood that, of course, was used by Abel? It had to be. Animal blood was the requirement in the Old Testament economy. Now remember, just back up a page or two and we’ll see how God was satisfied with that animal sacrifice offered by Abel, and that’s in Hebrews chapter 11 and verse 4:
“By faith (because this is what God instructed and that’s what Abel did) Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain,…” Now we are not going to take time to go back to Genesis, but why was Abel’s more excellent than Cain’s? Abel brought the firstling of his flock, which implies (it doesn’t say it was a lamb, but it implies) that it was a lamb. Maybe a goat, but I prefer to think it was a lamb. Whereas you see, Cain brought of that which grew out of the ground, a bloodless offering, and God rejected it. Alright, now, so the comparison is, here the blood of Christ is so far above the animal blood of the sacrifice that Abel offered, because of what God has now done. Let’s look at it and we’ll move on.
“And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.” The blood that He shed, was from the perfect Lamb of God. And it was far better than the blood sacrifice that Abel offered. Now let’s go on to verse 25. Now, this is a warning, and remember who He’s talking to. These verses are written first and foremost to Jews who were having a hard time breaking away from Judaism. He’s not talking so much to us Gentiles, as I said at the beginning of the study of Hebrews. This is primarily to Jews who were fighting the battle of making the break from legalism and Judaism and the Temple worship. Remember, the Temple is still going, and they had to step out of all that into this glorious Age of Grace. That’s the whole purpose of the Book of Hebrews. But, as we’ve seen now in the last two years, there is so much for us to learn. My, I’ve learned, I hope you have. I’ve learned as I’ve prepared these lessons out of the Book of Hebrews, even though it is not directly written to me, it’s written to Jews. Yet, oh, how we learn.
Well, you see we studied the Old Testament on the same basis. The Old Testament isn’t written to us. When the Old Testament speaks of sacrifices and offerings and so forth, we don’t do that. But we certainly learn from it. And that’s the purpose. Well, the same way in the Four Gospels. Our Gospel of Grace isn’t found in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – you can’t find it. Does that mean we throw it away? No! My goodness, we can learn so much of Christ’s compassion, of His power, and of His miracle working. But that’s not the plan of salvation. It’s just simply things for our learning, that prepare us, then, for this apostle of Grace who brings out then, this glorious Gospel of Grace in I Corinthians 15:1-4, and Romans 10:9-10 and many other places in his writings. So now then, verse 25. The warning is to these Jews, to these Jews who were having a hard time making the break.
“See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn from him that speaketh from heaven:” Now the casual reader will just gloss right over that, not having the foggiest notion of what he was talking about. But what’s he saying? You know that when God was dealing with Israel in the Old Testament economy, and Israel would just simply spurn God; and they would go on their own way and go into idolatry, what did God do? God judged them!When they went into the depths of idolatry, He sent old Nebuchadnezzar from the east and Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the Temple – and the city and the nation was uprooted and taken captive all the way out to Babylon for 70 years. Why? Because His wrath fell upon a disobedient people. And over and over God would do that throughout Israel’s history. And He was speaking with them while they were, you might say, His objects of affection and everything, on earth. But now we’re under a far greater responsibility – now read on: “if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn from him that speaketh from heaven:”
Now you’ve got to look at the big picture again. While God was dealing with Israel in the Old Testament, there were a lot of things that they didn’t have going for them that we do. For example, they didn’t have the indwelling Holy Spirit. They didn’t have that benefit. All they had was that table of Law set in stone and all it could do was condemn them. And then they had the sacrificial system, which wasn’t always that easy to keep. But nevertheless, they didn’t have a lot of the advantages that we have today, and yet God held them responsible. God punished them when they turned in unbelief. Alright so now the comparison is, if God would punish Israel back in those days when they didn’t have all this going for them, how much more will His wrath fall on these who reject Him as He speaks from heaven.
Now when we say He speaks from heaven, let’s come all the way back so we get the big picture. You can’t just pick and choose, you have to look at the whole scenario. Back in Acts chapter 1, He has just finished His 40 days after the resurrection. He’s been with the Eleven and now they’re on the Mount of Olives and He was about to ascend back to glory. The Father is now beckoning Him to come and sit at His right hand. So, look what it says: Verse 9.
“And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; (we’re speaking of Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified, resurrected Christ) and a cloud received him out of their sight. 10. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven (now have you got the picture? He is leaving earth and He is going up to heaven) as he went up, behold, two men(angels) stood by them in white apparel; 11. Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven,…”That’s what I wanted you to see. So where is He? He’s in heaven! And so from this point on whenever He speaks, He speaks from heaven! That’s obvious isn’t it? Alright, now then, the Apostle Paul is constantly letting us know that that’s where he got his marching orders; from the Christ in heaven. Let me stop while you’re still in Acts, let’s jump over to chapter 22 and this is just an example of how Christ spoke to him from heaven. Acts 22 verse 17.
“And it came to pass, that, when I was come again to Jerusalem, even while I prayed in the temple, I was in a trance; 18. And saw him (Jesus the Christ, in heaven) saying unto me, Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem: for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me,” Now just jump across the page to chapter 23, verse 11. And Paul is under all the pressure now from these hateful fellow Jews.
“And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.” Where is he speaking from? From heaven! Alright now you come all the way up and stop with me at Galatians chapter 1 and again, he’s rehearsing his experience on the road to Damascus and he’s letting us know that everything that he’s writing now in the Pauline epistles comes from the ascended Lord Who is in heaven. Galatians 1 starting at verse 11, and all I want you to see is that Hebrews says how that so much more responsibility is upon us in this Age of Grace because He’s speaking from heaven (but through the Apostle Paul).
“But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. 12. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, (by men, but how did he get it?)but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.” From where? From heaven! So everything now comes back quickly to Hebrews as we close out this half hour. Hebrews 12 again, verse 25:
“…For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven:”