Posts Tagged ‘Holy of Holies’


Those who draw near to God will know His holinessWe must re-visit the incident with Nahab and Abihu. We still have much to learn about the Blood of Christ and presumptive worship of God.

Lev. 10:3 Moses then said to Aaron, ‘The *LORD spoke about this. He said, “I will show myself to be holy among those people who come near to me. Everybody will see that honour comes to me.” ’ But Aaron was silent. v4 Moses ordered Mishael and Elzaphan to come. They were the sons of Aaron’s uncle Uzziel. (Moses) said to them, ‘Come (here). Carry your cousins’ (bodies) outside the camp. (Take them) away from the front of the *meeting tent.’ v5 So they came and carried them away outside the camp. This is what Moses had ordered them to do. (Nadab and Abihu) were still wearing their (priests’) clothes. v6 Then Moses said (this) to Aaron and to his (other two) sons, Eleazar and Ithamar. ‘Do not make your hair untidy and do not tear your clothes. (If you do,) you will die. Then (the *LORD) will be angry with all (the *Israelites). But your relatives (and) all the *Israelites may *mourn because of the fire that the *LORD sent. v7 Do not leave the entrance of the *meeting tent, or you will die. (This is) because of the *LORD’s *oil that *anointed you. It is still on you.’ So they did what Moses said.

Nadab and Abihu were the oldest of Aaron’s four sons. Their names are in 1 Chronicles 6:3. A censer was a flat pan that carried fire. What they did was not legal. It was wrong, for several possible reasons.

  • They should have put fire into the censers from the altar, Leviticus 16:12. But perhaps they did not take their fire from the altar.
  • Perhaps they tried to enter the most holy place. Only the chief priest could do this. He could only do it once a year on the Day of *Atonement, Leviticus chapter 16.
  • Perhaps they decided to do this in order to oppose Moses and Aaron. Perhaps Nadab and Abihu thought that they themselves should be the chief priests.
  • Perhaps Nadab and Abihu had drunk too much wine. So the LORD gave Aaron another rule in verse 9.

Priest ministers in the TabernacleWe can perhaps understand better the reasons for their deaths because some other people died in a similar manner (Numbers chapter 16). Those people decided, on purpose, to oppose the LORD (Numbers 16:11). Moses warned them severely about their actions. But they still decided to approach the meeting tent, with fire in their censers that God would not accept. Fire came from the LORD and it killed 250 men (Numbers 16:35). In both instances the Holiness of God consumed people who thought they had a right to draw near to God the way they presumed. They were putting themselves before God.

God has a Design for Man. That design dictates how we worship, how we relate to others, how we live. When we presume we can do whatever we want, we oppose the holiness of God. God said that all those that come near Him will know His holiness. To know His holiness is to be aware of our sinfulness. To approach Him without reverence is to presume upon His acceptance. I believe there is too much presumption in our worship of God today. You hear evidence of that presumptive “God Loves Me no matter what” philosophy in Christian music, movies and sermons. Tha Marican God is a Blessing God no matter what. The Lesson of Hebrews is that there is still a specific way we must approach God, and if we learn that, we will enjoy His presence and His power, and our faith will grow, and His works in and through us will grow.

Questions answered by Hebrews 10I am hopeful that at the conclusion of Hebrews 10 we will be ready for Hebrews 11. Hebrews 10 will allow us to answer questions such as these:

  • „Is God more tolerant of sin today?
  • How can we presume that such a Holy One would favor us with His presence & blessing?
  • How can we have confidence and boldness before such a Holy One?
  • Is there a precise way that we must follow to honor such a Holy One and not incur His wrath because of our sinfulness?
  • What happens when we deliberately disregard the holiness of Jesus Christ?

The Major Point of Hebrews 10

Hebrews 10_1 The Law contained shadowsFor since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices which are continually offered year after year, make perfect those who draw near. Hebrews 10:1

Review of Hebrews 8 & 9

1. Christ is our Heavenly Minister (Heb 8:2)

  • Christ is our MinisterHe is the one who ministered to the Holy Righteous demands of Jehovah God.
  • Through His sacrificial death, He allowed the Mercy of God to come to man from His Holiness and Glory.
  • He sits in the dwelling place of the Majesty and ministers to all those who answer the call and draw near to God.
(A.) Christ is Uniquely Qualified to Minister to both God and Man (Heb 8:6)

Our Problem is our Conscience

    1. The Eternal Value of the Covenant secured by His Blood
    2. The Better Promises which are the Foundation of this Covenant.
    3. The Promise of changed hearts and minds
    4. The Promise of eternal presence of the Holy Spirit
    5. How can we approach the Holines of God
    6. How can we be sure our works are pleasing to Him
    7. How can we be forgiven for not doing enough?
    8. How can I have God’s blessing even when I keep sinning?
    9. Purifies our concience
    10. Cleanses us from sins of omission and commision
    11. Allows us to serve the Living God with Living Works
    12. Christ is our Mediator (Heb 9:15)
(B.) Only Christ Ministers to our Great Need (Heb 9:9)
(C.)  Christ’s Ministry is Through the Power of His Blood (Heb 9:14)

Christ is our Mediator

2. The Blood empowers Christ to be our Mediator

(A). Who is He a Mediator to?
    • Mediator to those who answer the call
(B). What Does our Mediator Offer?
    • His mediation allows the called to receive the promises (eternal inheritance)
(C). What makes His Mediation so Powerful?
    • His mediation is based upon the power of His death to redeem us from the transgressions which separate us from Holy God.
    • He mediates from the very presence of God on our behalf.

Hebrews 10 is about Pumping up or shrinking backHebrews 10 explains the impact of our Minister and our Mediator upon our lives. If you accept His ministry and mediation, you will never shrink back, you will always be going forward to Him and in Him!

All because of the Value you place on the Blood of Jesus, you are either drawing closer or shrinking back.
The Law was but a shadow of good to come. (10:1)
  • Never perfect those who draw near.(10:1)
  • Never clear conscience of sin.(9:9)
  • Never produced Living Works.(9:14)
The Law reminded you of your sin. (10:3)
  • Sin focus rather than freedom focus
Christ came to do the Will of His Father (10:7)
  • No pleasure in sacrifices and offerings (10:5,6)
  • They had no provision for mercy justice and righteousness (Jer 9:24)
  • Had no way to deal with the power of the sin of the flesh (10:4)

How Did Christ Open the Father’s Will to us?

Christ came to do the Will of GodJesus offered His body once and for all, opening the Will (Presence) of the Father to us (10:10)

“I will not speak much more with you, for the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in Me; John 14:30

  • God was totally satisfied with His Son
  • He has sanctified us (have been-it is our permanent state) (10:10)

What is the Father’s Will?

  • That we be justified, righteous, sanctified and COMPLETE in Jesus Christ!
  • having translated us from a state of unholy alienation into a state of consecration to God, having “no more conscience of sin” [1]

We are Now Perfected in Christ

God's Will is that We enjoy His PresenceWe are now perfect and forgivenHis sanctification has perfected us for all time and is based upon our sanctification accomplished by His once for all sacrifice. (10:14)
  • The word “perfected” is the translation of teleioo which means “to bring to a state of completion.”[2]
  • Them that are sanctified—Τους ἁγιαζομενους· Them that have received the sprinkling of the blood of this offering. These, therefore, receiving redemption through that blood, have no need of any other offering; as this was a complete atonement, purification, and title to eternal glory[3].

The What (Way)

The What of Hebrews 10This sanctification allows the covenant of God’s law being written on our hearts and minds (10:16)
God will remember our sins and deeds no more (10:17)

The So What (Truth)

This Sanctification Gives us Confidence to enter the Holy Places by the Blood!(10:19)

Liberty, full access to the entrance of the holy place[4]

  • A New and LIVING Way (10:20a)
  • Through His broken Flesh (veil) (10:20b)
The So What of Hebrews 10Keep Confident!
  • Confidence in our priest (10:21)
  • Confidence in our clean heart (10:22)
  • Confidence in a clean conscience (10:22)
  • Confidence in clean flesh (10:22)
  • Confidence resulting in f.a. faith (10:22)

The Now What of Hebrews 10The Now What (Life)

HOLD FAST the CONFESSION of YOUR HOPE for He is FAITHFUL! (10:23)
LOOK for ways to Stir one another Up! (10:24)
  • Love and good works
  • Meet together
  • Encourage one another
  • Look for the DAY!

Be Careful…Just Because the Veil is Torn…

Just becasue the Veil is torn-never presumeYou must never, never presume that you are free to worship God any way you chose. Just because the veil was torn you may believe you have free access to God, that He is at your beck and call, at your disposal for whatever need you may have. There is only one reason that the veil was torn…God was satisfied with the blood sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ! We must always approach God in the one whose blood tore the veil!

Understand the Altar…We Must Never Presume…

 The Cross of Christ rose from the ashes of the Brazen Altar of Sacrifice. Habakkuk says that

The Cross is based upon the brazen altar

“his brightness was as the light; he had horns coming out of his hand…Habakkuk 3:4 The reference of the horns in his hand is a prophetic reference to the Cross. The four points of the Cross correspond to the four horns of the altar. In his hands refers to the scars that he bears from the crucifixion. We must always approach God through the horns of the altar,  for they are in the hands of His Son!

 

 

 

 


[1] Robert Jamieson, A.R. Fausset, David Brown, A Commentary: Critical, Experimental, and Practical on the Old and New Testaments, (Toledo, OH: Jerome B. Names & Co., 1884), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “HEBREWS”.

[2] Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies – Volume 2: Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1973), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 176.

[3] Adam Clarke, A Commentary and Critical Notes, (New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, 1826), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “Hebrews 10″.

[4] Adam Clarke, A Commentary and Critical Notes, (New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, 1826), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “Hebrews 10″.

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nadab and abihuFor us to gain insight into the power of the blood of Christ, we must first grasp what happened the first time the Priests presumed they could worship God as they wanted. Examine what Moses said in response to God’s reaction to the worship of Nadab and Abihu, who were dressed in their priestly garb, and acting as priests of Jehovah:

Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu each took his own firepan, put fire in it, placed incense on it, and presented unauthorized fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them ⌊to do⌋. Then fire came from the LORD and burned them to death before the LORD. So Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the LORD meant when He said: I will show My holiness to those who are near Me, and I will reveal My glory before all the people.” But Aaron remained silent. Leviticus 10:1-3

Anyone who approaches (worships) God will know the holiness of God. We can never approach God as if He is common or accepting of sin or the flesh. He will always show His holiness to sinful man. And as He reveals His holiness, all will see His glory!

Aaron in the Holy of HoliesAfter this, Aaron is given by Moses exact instructions for observing the Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement). Do you think Aaron was careful to do exactly as God said? Leviticus 16 details what the High Priest was to do to allow God’s glory to be revealed to sinful man. That glory could only be revealed after man’s sin was dealt with, for all who draw near to God will know His holiness, and His holiness demands that our sin be dealt with!

Notice in verse 16, “…and because of their transgressions in all their sins.” Then in verse 22, “And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities…” and in verse 21, “…and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel….” He will make atonement for all their transgressions, all their iniquities, all their sins! This was the best that the Law had to offer until Christ should come[1].

On the Day of Atonement, the Blood was sprinkled not only on the Mercy Seat, but throughout the Tent of Holiness. It was sprinkled in the courtyard, upon the altar. When it was sprinkled on the Mercy Seat, who was observing.

darkness covered the crucifixionWhen Jesus shed His blood on the cross, many were watching, but at about noon, something happened that continued for three hours. What was it? (Mt 27:45)

  • The world was covered by darkness from noon to three.
  • Why did God do this? I’ve heard multiple preachers say it was because God could not look upon His son as He became sin. Yest Scriptures says otherwise.

“For the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, And He ponders all his paths.” Prov. 5:21

“The eyes of the Lord are in every place, Keeping watch on the evil and the good.” Prov. 15:3

“For My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from My face, nor is their iniquity hidden from My eyes.” Jer. 16:17

“And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” Heb. 4:13

So, the question we must answer – What was Jesus doing in the darkness, obscured from man but seen by His Father, and does it relate to the offering of the High Priest in the darkness of the Holy of Holies?
value the blood of JesusThe darkness surrounding Christ as He bled out upon the Cross was to reinforce the truth of the importance of the blood sacrifice-it was first and foremost for the eyes of God!
You may think it was for man’s sin, and you would be partially correct. But the truth is that the blood was for God. God’s holiness demanded cleansing and purification. And darkness fell upon the earth as Christ offered His Holy blood for His Father. Christ’s offering on the Cross was for His Father, so that His righteousness and holiness could be satisfied! God found eternal satisfaction in the offering of His Son!

Do you Value the Blood of Christ the same way?

  • What is the difference between the Priests sacrifice and Christ sacrifice? (Christ offered with the strength of an indestructible life)
  • What is the difference between dead works and living or eternal works? (Living works are done through the one who has Life-Jesus Christ)

REVIEW-Our key passages which are the foundation of understanding the value of the Blood of Christ

  • Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister in the holy places, in the true tent that the Lord set up, not man. Hebrews 8:1-2
  • But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. Hebrews 8:6
  • Now even the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly place of holiness. Hebrews 9:1
  • (which is symbolic for the present age). According to this arrangement, gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper, but deal only with food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until the time of reformation. Hebrews 9:9-10
  • 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, 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. Hebrews 9:13-14

Jesus Christ is the Mediator

  • Therefore, he is the mediator of a new covenant

And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. Hebrews 9:15

MInistry to the Majesty1.  Is Jesus Christ Your Mediator?

  • For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; 1 Timothy 2:5
  • But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. Hebrews 8:6

The word mediator is from mesites, which in turn comes from mesos which means middle, the midst. Thus a mediator is one who intervenes between two, either to make or restore peace and friendship, to form a compact, or ratify a covenant[2].

Can you name an example of an Old Testament mediator?

so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance,

  • For the Benefit of the Called
  • To Deliver the Promised Eternal Inheritance

since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant. Hebrews 9:15

  • Death that redeems
  • Voids the penalty of the first covenant
    • The first covenant promised blessing or cursing
    • Blessing was based upon obedience
    • It set people up to fail, Romans 3 being the conclusion – all have sinned
priestly_blessing_pix_2Our mediator guarantees our blessing
Our mediator guarantees our presence before the majesty
Our Mediator allows us to live in the LIGHT!

Are you living in the Light? Are you Living in the Presence of the Majesty? If not, then you are not allowing Christ to be your mediator! You are not valuing  His blood the same way God does.He can only be your mediator if you give Him your Heart and Life! For where He mediates, there is the Presence of the Majesty of God!

Questions for Discussion
  1. Why does this mediator guarantee the presence of God?
  2. Why does Jesus guarantee our blessing?
  3. What light does this shed on your efforts for blessing?
  4. What can you do to warrant God’s blessing?
  5. What brings Life and Blessing to your dead works? (refer back to vs 13, 14)
  6. What requirement must you and I meet to enjoy this guaranteed blessing?

He is our Mediator ONLY when we answer His Call! (Hebrews 9:15)

2. Is Your Name in His Will?

new-covenant-written-in-blood1A New York writer, wanting to will his body to science, selected Harvard as the recipient – because…I quote…“my parents wanted me to go there & this is the only way I could get in!”

A wealthy French Industrialist(capitaine Furrer) being disturbed by the impatience & greed of his heirs adopted a blood-sucking leech & bequeathed his fortune to it!

For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive. Hebrews 9:16-17

Are you named in His will?

Have you heard of a Holographic Will (from law.com a dictionary of terms) – a will entirely handwritten, dated and signed by the testator (the person making the will), but not signed by required witnesses. Under those conditions it is valid in about half the states despite the lack of witnesses. A letter which has all the elements of a will can be a holographic will, as can a will scratched in the dust of an automobile hood of a person dying while lost in the desert.[3]

Here Jesus writes a holographic will for us, not in the dust, but with his own blood! It is recognized as legally binding in the greatest court of all time-Heaven!

Jesus writes in bold crimson letters across our lives…Forgiven!

last will and testamentWhat Must be involved for a Will to Be Empowered?

  • There is only one way for a will to be in effect-the one who made the will must die.

There is only one way for you to know the power of this will…you must die to your own will. Do you want to be named in this will, this will that promises you the blessing of God for all eternity? Then die to your will at the Cross, grab hold of the feet of our crucified Savior, and let His blood be sprinkled upon you.

This Will is in effect now…the testator has died…You can live in His will even today! Even better, His will can become your will! You can work to leave this will with others…

3. Are you Living in the Power of His Blood?

Therefore not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood. 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, saying, “This is the blood of the covenant that God commanded for you.” And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship. power of Jesus BloodIndeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. Hebrews 9:18-22

“ALMOST”

The apostle says almost, because a very poor person could bring an offering of flour instead of an animal. (Lev 5:11-13 But if he be not able to bring two turtle-doves, or two young pigeons, then he that sinned shall bring for his offering the tenth part of an ephah of fine flour for a sin offering; he shall put no oil upon it, neither shall he put [any] frankincense thereon: for it [is] a sin offering. 12 Then shall he bring it to the priest, and the priest shall take his handful of it, [even] a memorial thereof, and burn [it] on the altar, according to the offerings made by fire unto the LORD: it [is] a sin offering.

Inanimate objects: because in some cases certain vessels were purified by water, some by fire, Numbers 31:23, and some with the ashes of the red heifer, Numbers 19:2-10, but it was always understood that every thing was at first consecrated by the blood of the victim.

Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. Hebrews 9:22

(Exodus 24:6-8 KJV) And Moses took half of the blood, and put it in basins; and half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar. {7} And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the LORD hath said will we do, and be obedient. {8} And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which the LORD hath made with you concerning all these words.

priest covered in blood Kent Hughes maintains that, “During the thousand plus years of the Old Covenant, there were more than a million animal sacrifices. So considering that each bull spilled a gallon or two of blood and each goat a quart, the Old Covenant truly rested on a sea of blood.” During the Passover, a trough was constructed from the Temple down the Kidron Valley for the disposal of blood – a sacrificial plumbing system.”(5)

4. Do you know the Full Power of His Blood?

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. 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. Hebrews 9:23-24

A.   God required His Blood in Heaven

“The earthly tabernacle, as God’s dwelling, might have been supposed to be hallowed by His presence and to need no cleansing, but being also His meeting-place with men it required to be cleansed. And so our heavenly relations with God, and all wherewith we seek to approach Him, need cleansing. In themselves things heavenly need no cleansing, but as entered upon by sinful men they need it. Our eternal relations with God require purification[6].

B.   His Blood only need be applied once.

Minister_of_true_tabernacleNor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, 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. Hebrews 9:25-26

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 1 John 1:7-8

No need to be washed in the blood. We need to say thank you for the blood, for the power of the blood will continue as we walk with the light giver!

5. Are You Aware of How Late it is?

A.   The Power of the Blood is Your Only Hope

hebrews-9-27-appointed to die and face judgment“it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” Hebrews 9:27

(1)  Men/women/children need to be reminded of their appointment with God…their date with Eternity!

    • Put it on your calendar…IT IS ON GOD’S!

(2) “He is the Great Divider, & He does not divide men horizontally (high-class, middle class, low-class) – but vertically, to the right & to the left.”(7)

And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, 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. Hebrews 9:27-28

B.   Is Your Life Focused on Jesus Christ? 
    • A Past appearing for our Salvation

(26b) “He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.”

    • A Present appearing for our Sanctification

(24b) “now to appear in the presence of God for us”

    • A Future appearing for our Glorification

(28b) “To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.”

6. Are you Still Defeated by Your Sins?

You will be if you do not learn to value the Blood of Christ the same way that God does. Your conscience will continue to nag at you, and you continue to drown out its voice through your default escapes-alcohol, drugs, pleasure, music or what ever you do.

So, how do we value the Blood the same way that God does?

The Gospel is the Way Truth and Life(1) What? (WAY) What about this passage has drawn us into the mercy and love of God?

  • My worse sins are forgiven through the blood sacrifice of Jesus
  • My best sins are forgiven through the blood sacrifice of Jesus
  • I am in the presence of the Majesty through the ministry of Jesus made possible by His blood sacrifice.
  • I do not have to focus on my sins. I do not have to let my conscience drag me down
  • Do not focus on your sin, Focus on His Blood and His coming for you!
  • I don’t have to do works for the sake of doing works. Dead works are produced by people still focusing on their sins. Their conscience is clouded, evil or seared.
  • I can do Living Works by living in the power of the Blood. They are living in the Minister, enjoying the Mediator and eagerly waiting for Him.
  • To build the Word into my life, I must die to my will, and submit my will to my minister, and enjoy living works held by Him!

(2) SO WHAT? (TRUTH)How is this to build this Word into my life?

Learn to apply the Blood of Christ to those sins that haunt you, those regrets that eat at your soul. Daily thank God for the Blood of His Son, and profess your faith in the value of His sacrifice. Imagine God looking upon your life as though He was looking upon HIs Son as He bled out upon the Cross, and know that He values you as much as He values Jesus. Confess your feelings to Him, but assure Him , Father, not my will, but thy will be done! Thank you for the blood of Christ that makes me white as wool before your eyes! I place my sins and my regrets and my failings under that blood, and know that because you value His Holy blood, because you are satisfied with His blood, you see me in Him, forgiven and pure, righteous and justified. I lay everything at the Cross and confess my need for Christ to be my Life!

High Priest sprinkled blood upon mercy seatYou must daily value the Blood of Christ as much as God values it! Learn to see the power of His blood over your sins and failings. Focus on Him and His provisions for you! Change that ‘stinkin-thinkin’ that causes you to focus too much upon your sins and failings. They are continually forgiven, and you are continually cleansed, so live like it and walk in the Light!

(3) NOW WHAT? (LIFE) How does this empower me to live righteously this week?

1)  Take your pulse. Are you alive or are you dead?

2)  Look above you. Is your name written on the Will?

3)  Look behind you. Do you see your dead self lying on the ground?

4)  Look at your clothes. Is there any blood sprinkled on them?

5)  Look at your hand. Is it being held by your heavenly minister?

6)  Look in front of you. Can you see the Majesty?

7)  Look all around you. Is there anything that you hold more dear than the coming of your Savior? Get rid of it and eagerly look for Him!

8)  Focus on His coming and get excited!

9)  Commit your life to living works!

The Power of the Brazen Altar

The fire of the brazen altarWalking into the Tabernacle, you immediately see the Brazen Altar. You smell the flesh, the blood. You are reminded of death and the awfulness of sin. We must all begin there. We must realize God’s Holiness and hatred of sin. Sin is awful, a blight upon our soul and conscience. But we must not dwell there. The Cross of Christ rose from the ashes of the Brazen Altar. It must daily touch our lives, but we must go on, for we belong in the Holy of Holies. We belong in the presence of the Holy One! That is where our High Priest is. That is where He ministers and mediates. If we dwell at the altar of sin, we will never know the beauty of the majesty.

Just as the fire of the Brazen Altar was used to light the candles and burn the incense, we must take that fire with us, and go into the Majesty. The fire of the Holy Spirit burns only when we have first laid at the Cross. We are to be “living sacrifices,” with the fire of the Holy Spirit burning within our souls, drawing us into the Light of the Majesty!

You will not see the Holiness of the Majesty unless you first go to the Cross. This is God’s way. The Cross is Glory to Him. If you approach Him any other way, He will reveal His Glory, but only as you learn His Holiness the hard way. You will learn that the flesh must be burnt away if you are to know God. It is so much better to learn the proper way to approach the Holiness of God, rather than learn the hard way, because you acted presumptuously.

Go to the Cross, be washed in the Blood. But take the fire from the altar and light the candlestick, light the fire of the incense, but go into the majesty and take your ministers hand. Focus on Him, walk with Him, and you will be continually cleansed through the power of the Blood! 


[1] J. Vernon McGee, Thru The Bible with J. Vernon McGee, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1983), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “Chapter 16″.

[2] Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies – Volume 1: Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1973), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 106.

[3] Law.com; Holographic will definition.

[4] Adam Clarke, A Commentary and Critical Notes, (New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, 1826), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “Hebrews 9″.

[5] R. Kent Hughes. Hebrews: An Anchor For the Soul. Vol 1 (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 1993) pp. 233-234

[6] “Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies – Volume 2: Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1973), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 167.

[7] Vance Havner; Day by Day Oct.6th.

[8] Vance Havner; Day by Day Oct.26th.



Hebrews-this-is-the-main-point
What is the Main Point of Hebrews? Hebrews 8 is the pivotal chapter in this “Better Book.”

Now the main point of what is being said is this: We have this kind of high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a minister …Hebrews 8:1-2a

    • We have (this kind)
    • of High Priest
      • Right hand (Place of honor)
      • Throne
      • Majesty
      • Heaven
    • a Minister (vs 2)Main Point of Hebrews 8

The important thing for us to take away this morning, is not that we have a high priest, not that the High Priest is Jesus, not that He is indestructible, not that He is even beside the Majesty in heaven. The important thing we must see is that He is THIS KIND OF HIGH PRIEST – a MINISTER!

How you see Jesus Christ will determine your success as a disciple, as a Christian and as a Kingdom subject. If we can view Him as He is for us, then we will see that He places us (in all our humanity) in the very presence of the Majesty!

The Minister of the Sanctuary

holy tabernacleHebrews 8:2 describes Jesus as the “minister of the sanctuary” It further describes this Sanctuary as the “True Tabernacle”

Minister (liturgy) = Service to God and to Man

We Need to grip into our hearts “What is that Service?” and fully see “What is His Ministry?”

Sanctuary = True Tabernacle

  • Sanctuary is “hagion” meaning “holy place”.
  • It could refer to the Holy of Holies, but in this context, it has a bigger place in view-because we see the throne of the “Majesty of the heavens”

Holy Place = True Dwelling of God

  • Jesus is the minister of the true dwelling
  • His ministry involves providing for the majesty
  • His ministry involves providing for man

Minister_of_true_tabernacleJesus Christ is the Minister at the very Center of God’s Creation.

  • „ He alone provides what God’s Holiness required.
  • „ He alone provides what man requires.

„ He alone increases the “Majesty of the Heavens” by bringing increase to man.

Jesus is at the throne of the Majesty, serving as a minister to God and to Man. As a minister, He is providing something that is life changing. His ministry magnifies the Majesty by providing for you and me. If the Holy Spirit brings this truth into your heart, it will literally stop it in awe. This goes far beyond what we normally see.

  • Do not get caught up in the shadow.
  • Do not limit your faith to the physical.
  • Do not fall in love with the building,
  • You will miss the Majesty!

Verse 9: For they did not continue in my covenant, and so I showed no concern for them, declares the Lord. (KJV –regarded them not).

They were given a covenant, a means of living with the Majesty and Power of God, yet they chose not to continue in it. So God showed no concern for them.

The important thing we need to take away is what Jesus is doing as MINISTER and how understanding that will change the way you live your life! Chapter 8 has an impact that will change the way you view Christianity.

This morning, the Holy Spirit wants to show you something that will bring vitality and power to your life, as well as open your eyes to the Majesty, and will reveal to your heart how you can always know He regards your life with concern!

But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. Hebrews 8:6

More excellent: to be superior, better[1] (Heb. 1:4; 8:6).

What was the result of the ministry of the earthly High Priests?

Purpose of Minister (1)God could put His Name on the people and Bless them…

The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them, The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. “So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them.” Numbers 6:22-27

Result: They shall put my name upon them and the people would be BLESSED!

  • The Old Covenant administered by the Priests resulted in what?-God’s Blessing!
What was the problem with this?
  • You could lose God’s Blessing
  • God’s blessing was conditioned upon your obedience.
  • God’s concern and care was conditioned upon my continuing to be in right standing with the Priests.
  • People started elevating the Priests and the Place of Worship
How do we know this?
  • More concerned about where to worship rather than who (this was what the woman at the well brought up to Jesus)
  • More concerned about beauty of building than the beauty of the one you worship (The Pharisees screamed blasphemy when Jesus said he would build the temple again after three days. They thought He was referring to their beautiful Temple)
  • Allow the Priest to do whatever he wants, even if it corrupted the worship (This is mentioned in Malachi)

What did the Old Law and High Priest fail to provide the People?

Christ ministers a New HeartA New Heart

For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. Hebrews 8:10-11

Two Betters – the Basis of his “more excellent” Ministry.

A. Better Covenant

Window to the MajestyBasis of better Covenant – blood of God’s Son, sinless sacrifice, God Himself was torn asunder.

Read Genesis 15 - With Abraham, God guaranteed His Word with His Strength and His Promise, that He would be torn asunder just like the animal sacrifice if He failed to perform. Jesus proved His power by allowing Himself to be torn asunder to satisfy the Holy demands of His Father, therefore proving to us there was nothing left to be done. The promise would stand for all eternity, for Jesus had already been torn asunder.

  • The basis of a Covenant is the ability to deliver! Christ’s Covenant is not subject to ‘Act of Terrorism’ or ‘Act of Nature’ clauses.

B. Better Promises

Basis of a promise-strength, ability, what that promise cost, trust in the ability to deliver!

1.    Is your Faith in Christ resting in His Better Promises?

    • The Promise of the Holy Spirit

And look, I am sending you what My Father promised. As for you, stay in the city until you are empowered from on high.” Luke 24:49

    • Promised in the Old Testament

until the Spirit from heaven is poured out on us. Then the desert will become an orchard, and the orchard will seem like a forest. Then justice will inhabit the wilderness, and righteousness will dwell in the orchard. The result of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quiet confidence forever. Isaiah 32:15-17

    • The Holy Spirit will teach you all things

But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit—the Father will send Him in My name—will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you. John 14:26

    • He is our Seal

When you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed in Him, you were also sealed with the promised Holy Spirit. Ephesians 1:13

2.  Are You In Constant Connection with our Minister?

He is constantly calling and encouraging, but you must see Him by faith! You must answer His call by faith! Do not make excuses, for you have a NEW HEART! If you fail to respond to His calling, then perhaps you do not, and your Christian Life is fake, devoid of His ministry!

The Result – HIS SURPASSING MINISTRY!

The True Meaning of His Better Ministry

MInistry to the Majesty1.    Provision for Us

  • They will “Know me in themselves

And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.

2.    Provision for God

God’s Holiness was never compromised as He showed sinful men mercy and forgiveness, for the Better Ministry of Jesus Christ meant that the righteous demands of His holiness could be met and satisfied, thus allowing His Glory to be maintained even in mercy!

For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.” Hebrews 8:11-12

So What Does His Surpassing Ministry Mean for You?

As long as you abide in Christ, you are in the Presence of God even NOW! If you turn to yourself and rely on you flesh for righteousness, you are settling for your own glory, and missing out on the majesty! This is why we must apply the truth and message of Hebrews 8 to our lives, so that we may continue to abide in the power of the Blood!

1. The What

of Hebrews 8 is that we now have a Minister, a very powerful minister who has the power and ability to bring us into the presence of the Majesty through His better covenant and promises. (This is the Way of Jesus)

2. The So What

that will bring backbone to our Christian walk in the form of the Truth is that we are in the very Presence Of The Majesty in Jesus Christ! This is truth that defies our rational thought, our sighted walk. This is truth that only Faith can visualize and touch! (This is the Truth of Jesus that sets us Free)

  • Through Christ and His ministry to us,  God can shower us with care and concern, even when we sin!

3. The  Now What

We now live with a clear vision of the Ministry of Jesus Christ, that He brings us into the presence of the Majesty even when we fail, even when we are diseased, even when we are down and distressed. The Majesty is where we live and breathe! In Jesus Christ! This is the Life of Jesus-that we have His Life regardless of our circumstances!

What do we count on when we are in the presence of the Majesty?

  • Know that in His presence, He regards you and He is concerned for you. He cares for you! Just as He cares for His Son!
How do you actuate the Promise of the Holy Spirit in your life?

Be Diligent to experience Him no matter the Circumstance!

  • Know Me in the majesty
  • Know me in the tragedy
  • Know me in the mediocrity
  • Know me in your family

We must keep the windows of our Heavenly Minister clean, so that we may always see that we are living in the presence of the Majesty! We must focus on the Better Promises rather than the world, and we must focus on His body and blood as our righteousness!

Do not let this be the epithet of your Christian Life:

HE DID NOT CONTINUE IN MY COVENANT, AND I DID NOT CARE FOR HIM, SAYS THE LORD. Hebrews 8:9

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[1] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “diaphoros”.


I had a call this week from the daughter of a couple that lives near our church. Many of you would recognize her parents name. Seems her parents have been living together the last 20 years or so and never got married. Now they are thinking about making it legal and are looking into having a quaint church wedding. She said that because I was the priest they would want me to do the wedding. I corrected her of course, but I said that as Pastor I take marriage very seriously.

For Your Information I have four prerequisites that must be met before I will bless the marriage of a man and woman.

  1. The couple must believe that marriage is a Covenant Vow before God
  2. They must not be living together
  3. They must go through premarital counseling before I agree to marry them.
  4. They must have the blessings of both sets of parents.

We see the church out of focusSome of you are thinking, Brother Jim, that seems pretty harsh. After all, they have been living together and need to make it official. Plus they are our neighbors, and this is a chance to reach out to them. I understand your thoughts, but consider this: Do we ever have an excuse to take God for granted? NO! God is Holy, He is Righteous. He has standards and He reigns in Heaven whether we acknowledge Him or not. One day everyone will have an appointment with the God who created them and will answer for why they took Him for granted. If we can’t ever take God for granted, then we can’t take Jesus for granted. And if we can’t take Jesus for granted, we can’t take His wife for granted. And the church is His wife. Now when it comes to the church, the bride of Christ, we see a Universal application, but we also see a local application.

I believe Pleasant Prairie Baptist can be a great church. I believe we are sitting in a mission field. And we need to start taking our church more seriously. We can not take it for granted, just as we wouldn’t dare think of taking God for granted. I believe the community around Pleasant Prairie takes us for granted. They see us as a qaint little country church instead of seeing us as the powerful Bride of Jesus Christ. I think that is because we have failed to be a church, we have failed to be a bride, we have taken the Word of God for granted.There seems to be a couple problems in America:

  • We are extremely self-loving.
  • We dishonor the Word of God.

Because we love ourselves we tend to do what we want when we want it. Because we dishonor God’s Word, we dishonor God, we dishonor the church, we dishonor preachers, we dishonor pastors. When you dishonor God’s Word, you start to dishonor everything about God and what God says is important. We dishonor marriage, we dishonor the family, we dishonor our relationships with each other.

So for the next two weeks I want us to see from God’s Word Why Pleasant Prairie Baptist Church was put here on the corner of 215th & Y, and then I want to see from God’s Word what we should be doing so that we do not take God’s Word for granted. To do so we need to answer 2 Questions:

  • What Makes a Church?
  • What is Membership All About?

First, let’s look at Black’s Law Dictionary and see what our Courts say a church is.

A body or community of Christians, united under one form of government by the profession of one faith, and the observance of the same rituals and ceremonies. Black’s Law Dictionary 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th eds.

jesus keys to peterLet’s see how this meshes with how Jesus Views His Church:

  • He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, THOU ART THE CHRIST, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, THAT THOU ART PETER Petros (stone), and upon this rock petra (Christ is the great foundation, the “chief corner-stone,”—Vincent’s) I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Matthew 16:15-19

1. Jesus says the church is something He is Building.

  • Jesus is the Architect, the owner, the developer, the reason there is a church.

2. Jesus says His church has Great Power.

  • Stronger than Hell, Able to Bring Heaven down to Earth

3. Jesus says His Church is built upon Stones that all Declare the same Message.

  • Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. The Church is all about Jesus and His Living in us, empowering us to reach out to those who are without Jesus.

1. The Church is a Living Building of “Called out Ones”

Jesus says “I will build my church”

  • Church Universal
  • Church Local

Church made of Living StonesChrist appears here, not as the foundation, but as the architect: “On this rock will I build.” The church is a collection of pieces of living rocks that when combined by the power of God are impenetrable. Peter was the first, just as Abraham was the first.

A. Jesus Selects Living Materials:

  • John 15:19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
  • John 17:16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
  • What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 1 Corinthians 6:19

church is an altarB. Jesus Transforms “called out believers” into “LIVING STONES”

  • To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious. Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 2:4-5
  • And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 2 Corinthians 6:16

The church is to be like the altar of stones upon which the Jews sacrificed to Holy God.

  • Exodus 20:24 An altar of earth thou shalt make unto me, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt offerings, and thy peace offerings, thy sheep, and thine oxen: in all places where I record my name I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee.

C. Jesus Uses Special Stones to Build the Church

  • And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: Ephesians 4:11-1

2. The Church is the Power of Christ to an Enslaved World

We have the AUTHORITY & POWER of our King.

  • King Jesus Will ReignMatthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
  • Ephesians 1:22-23 And hath put all [things] under his feet, and gave him [to be] the head over all [things] to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.
  • 1 Corinthians 12:25 That there should be no schism in the body; but [that] the members should have the same care one for another.

We follow an unseen King, and obey His commands. That obedience keeps us in His Kingdom and not in the devil’s. As long as we obey our King, we have our King’s Authority in this world.

reconciliationWe are ON MISSION to be Ambassadors to the World

Since Jesus is reigning in an undisclosed location, and since He is still seeking more living stones to keep building His church, He needs you and me to be Ambassadors to this enslaved world.

  • Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 jesus pierced cross

We are always on mission. This world is always watching the King’s people. We are to go into all this world and hold up the Good News of Jesus Christ. But we are not to merely say it, we are to show it!

3. The Church consists of Believers in a Covenant Relation with Jesus Christ.

  • We Have a Responsibility to Each Other because We are in Christ.

We are not a collection of lonely islands. No we are a collection of stones that are made into a huge rocky peak, by the power of God through our Belief and Confession of this Blood Covenant.

  • From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. Ephesians 4:16

I can’t see it, I can’t even feel it sometimes, but there is a bond that is stronger than anything else I’ve ever faced. That bond is my marriage with my wife. That bond may be just a piece of paper filed in the Jackson County Courthouse. But it is a bond designed by God to be so tough, that if you ever break it, it will mess your life up and leave scars that only Jesus can heal.

God_cuts_covenant-abrahamWhen you come to Jesus because His Holy Spirit has convicted you of your sin, and has spoken into the wee small crevices of your heart, a bond was forged between you and God. God says that bond will never be broken because He places the seal of His Holy Spirit within your life. You may not feel it, you may not sense it, but GOD LIVES IN YOU! And if you turn away from God, you neglect His word, it will mess you up! If it doesn’t mess you up to ignore Jesus Christ and neglect Him, there never was that bond.

It’s like marriage, you know it when you neglect it and turn away from it.

Now because of this Bond we have with God through Jesus Christ, we have a responsibility to love and pray and support others who have entered into this relationship with Jesus. The easiest way to take care of one another is through a local Bible Believing, Bible Preaching Church. The local church is built by Jesus on the Power of our Communion with Him through our Covenant Confession with Him.communion-WITH-JESUS-HANDS

I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say. The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread. 1 Corinthians 10:15-17

My wife and I have experienced the Power of our Covenant Relationship in Joining in the care of our Children and now our grandchildren. We have begun our own body of Tompkins, and I pray that we will all be built upon Jesus Christ.

For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. 1 Corinthians 12:12-26

  • We Have a Responsibility to Build Strong Marriages and Families because they Reflect the Power of Christ to the World.

The Church is the Bride of Christ:

Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband. Ephesians 5:21-33

The Church (those written in the Book of Life) is the Bride of Christ

bride christ marriageAnd there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife. And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal; And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof. And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal. And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel. And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass. And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald; The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass. And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it. And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life. Revelation 21:9-27

We See that as far as God and His Plans are concerned, the Church is central, it is key.

So Why is it important to Join a Church? When we are born again we become members of the church universal, we are baptized into one Body. Why do we need to join a Local Church?

How Important is Church Membership?

The leadership of Pleasant Prairie Baptist Church considers membership to be important from a polity and relational perspective.

  • Polity: only members are allowed to have a say in the direction of our church by voicing their concerns and by voting.
  • Relational: Membership enjoins us to certain responsibilities and obligations as detailed in our church covennt.

We believe church membership is very important for our Spiritual Well-Being, as the following illustrates:

Five Proofs of the Mandate for Membership in a Local Church

Each of these proofs reveal that lack of membership would minimize or deny our spiritual growth in Christ.

1) The Metaphor of the Body

Church membership is implied in the metaphor of the body in 1 Corinthians 12:12-31. The original meaning of the word ‘member’ is member of a body, like hand and foot and eye and ear. That’s the imagery behind the word ‘member’ in the text. Verse 12: “Just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.”

So the question this imagery raises for the local church that Paul is describing in 1 Corinthians 12 is: Who intends to be treated as a hand or foot or eye or ear of this body? There is a unity and organic relationship implied in the imagery of the body. There is something unnatural about a Christian attaching himself to a body of believers and not being a member of the body.

2) Christians Required to Submit to Their Leaders

Church membership is implied in the biblical requirement of Christians to be submitted to a group of church leaders, elders, or pastors. The point here is that without membership, who is it that the New Testament is referring to who must submit to a specific group of leaders? Some kind of expressed willingness or covenant or agreement or commitment (that is, membership) has to precede a person’s submission to a group of leaders.

Consider the way the New Testament talks about the relationship of the church to her leaders.

  • Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. (Hebrews 13:17)
  • We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13)
  • Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. (1 Timothy 5:17)

How is this leadership and this submission going to work if there is no membership defining who has made the commitment to be led and who has been chosen as leaders? If we downplay the importance of membership, it is difficult to see how we could take these commands to submit and to lead seriously and practically.

3) Shepherds Required to Care for Their Flock

shepherds care for the flockChurch membership is implied in the way the New Testament requires elders to care for the flock in their charge. Of course elders can extend their love to anyone and everyone, and should, within the limits of their ability. But the question is whether the Bible tells elders that they are to have a special responsibility and care for a certain group—a group of members. Consider Acts 20:28 where Paul tells the elders how to care for their flock.

Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. Acts 20:8

This verse does not say elders cannot visit unbelievers or those who are not yet members. But it does make clear that their first responsibility is to a particular flock. How are they to know who their flock is? Who are we as elders and pastors responsible for? For whom will we give an account to God?

The way Peter speaks to the elders in 1 Peter 5 is even more clear on this point. Verses 2-3: “Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.”

“Those in your charge” (your portion, your lot) implies that the elders knew whom they were responsible for. This is just another way of talking about membership. If a person does not want to be held accountable by a group of church leaders or be the special focus of the care of a group of church leaders, they will resist the idea of membership. And they will resist God’s appointed way for them to live and be sustained in their faith.

4) The Church Is to Discipline Its Members

Church membership is implied by the way the church is supposed to discipline its members. Consider the implication of Matthew 18:15-17 where “the church” (ekklesia) appears to be the final court of appeal in matters of church authority as it relates to membership.

If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

If there is no church membership, how can you define the group that will take up this sensitive and weighty matter of exhorting the unrepentant person and finally rendering a judgment about his standing in the community? It’s hard to believe that just anyone who showed up claiming to be a Christian could be a part of that gathering. Surely, “the church” must be a definable group to handle such a weighty matter. You know who you mean when you “take it to the church.”

5) Excommunication Exists

Church membership is implied by the simple fact that excommunication even exists. Paul implies this in 1 Corinthians 5:12-13 where he deals with the necessity of putting someone out of the church. He says, “What have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. ‘Purge the evil person from among you.’”

There are two implications here: One is that there is an “in the church” group and an “outside the church” group. Being in the church is definable. The other implication is that a person can be removed from being “in the church.” Such a formal removal would not be possible if there were no such thing as a clear membership—who is an accountable part of this body, and who is not?

Expectation for All Believers

So for these five reasons and more we believe that membership is a New Testament expectation for all believers. Each of us should be a member of a local body of believers.

  • We should take responsibility to discipline those of the body who do not repent from public sin that brings reproach on the name of Christ.

  • We should declare ourselves part of the body so that if we are wayward, we ourselves would be liable to such exclusion.

  • We should take our position under the leadership and authority of our church leaders.

  • And we should find our place in the organic whole as a body part—a member—of a local body of Christ.

That is God’s plan for us and for Pleasant Prairie Baptist Church. That is what we mean by membership. All of those aspects of membership are rooted in the truth that the local church is an expression of the universal church. Part of what it means to belong to the body of Christ is to belong to a local body.

A Blood-Bought Gift of God’s Grace

Church bought through the crucifixionThe New Testament tells of no Christians who are not accountable members of local churches in the sense that we have just seen. “Lone-Ranger Christians” are a contradiction because becoming a Christian means being united to Christ, and union with Christ expresses itself in union with a local body of believers. It seems to us that in the New Testament, to be excluded from the local church was to be excluded from Christ. This is why the issue of membership is so important.

Are you an accountable member of a local church? Not just: Is your name somewhere? But, are you committed to discipline and being disciplined according to biblical standards? Have you publicly declared your willingness to be shepherded and to be led by the leaders of a local church? Do you see yourself and your gifts as part of an organic ministering body? Do you show by your firm attachment to Christ’s body that you are attached to Christ?

Church membership is a blood-bought gift of God’s grace. More than most of us realize, it is a life-sustaining, faith-strengthening, joy-preserving means of God’s mercy to us. We urge you not to deprive yourself of this blessing.

Jim and Clare TompkinsWhen I was about seven years old, my mom went away for a while. I did not know what was going on, but I found out later that there was problems between my mom and dad. Dad was a traveling salesman, gone 4 and 5 days a week, and Mom was raising three rambunctious boys. I think something serious happened, because Mom went away to Texas to live in a Psychiatric Hospital. She had a nervous breakdown. She went through electro-shock therapy. I had to go live with a strange family for a while because my Dad still travelled. My Mom and Dad almost didn’t make it. Somehow, Mom came back home and started dragging us to the Prairie Baptist Church down the street. She started making friendships with good caring friends. A couple men started visiting my dad. Glenn and Merl faithfully called on my dad, and didn’t judge him when he smoked and drank in front of them. They just kept inviting him to church. Finally he went, and went and went. Something different was going on in my family. Mom and Dad weren’t fighting like before. Before I knew it, Mom and Dad joined the church. Dad started taking a leadership role. He was different! It was that church and Jesus Christ that made a difference in our family, and the same has continued to make a difference in my family and now my kid’s families.


The church is Vital and Powerful and is used by Jesus Christ to transform sinners into the children of God!