Jesus Is All We Need!!
Did you ever stop to think that members of the early Christian church never read the New Testament?
And that also included the disciples.
There is good reason for that they didn't have it.
Their Bible was the Old Testament.
When Jesus sat down with His leadership team following His resurrection to teach them
what the Scriptures actually said about Him.
He taught them from the Old Testament.
When Jesus was on the road to Emmaus, He listened to two of His disciples talking of the tragedy
of the recent happenings.
He replied to them by assuring them that these events were not tragedies.
Rather, they had been foretold in Scripture.
And Jesus "beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things
concerning Himself in all the Scripture." (Luke 24:27)
Later, when the two disciples had rejoined the others in Jerusalem, Jesus appeared to the eleven,
and gave them an all-night Bible study during which time, He talked them from all three major divisions
of the Old Testament Scriptures:"
The Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms
Jesus took their Bible, the Hebrew Old Testament, and "
opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.." (Luke 24:45)
He gave the Old Testament back to them as a new book with new meaning.
At long last, they were able to grasp the significance of everything which had happen to Jesus,
and to see how it all fit into God's great plan of the ages as it had been foretold in the very Scriptures
which they always had with them.
It is important to keep all this in mind when you study the book of Hebrews lest you miss the importance
of the Old Testament references which appear in Chapter 9.
A tent in the wilderness and the rituals performed there may seem pretty dry stuff until you recall data
regarding them was included in those Scriptures of which Jesus said, "It is these that bear witness of Me."
So these antiquities suddenly excite our interest.
For they have something to do with Jesus.
From the scene and substance of the ministry of Christ in Chapter 8, the writer of Hebrews moves on
to deal with the sacrificial nature and sufficiency of the ministry of Christ.
Then he draws this conclusion: Jesus is all you need He is the indispensable person.
Try to imagine the quandary of these Hebrew Christians.
The Temple had been laid out by God.
The Old Testament law had been written by God.
The sacrifices had been prescribed by God.
Were they to turn their backs on the only God-given religion on earth, and surrender themselves
totally and completely to One whom their leaders called an imposter?
By throwing their traditions overboard, weren't they now giving up more than they gained?
If those ceremonial cleansing and ritual sacrifices had value in the past, didn't they still have merit?
And, if they stopped doing all these wonderful things, how were they to handle the problem
of a nagging conscience plagued with guilt over good deeds left undone?
They found themselves between a rock and a hard place.
Some of them solved the problem by what some might call the old-time approach.
And that was -- what was good enough for Pappy is good enough for me.
Goaded by sub-Christian guilt over supposed sins of omission the good deeds of ritual cleansing
and sacrifice left undone these pledging followers of Jesus shifted into a high gear program
of religious activity designed to make certain that they please God, and that they were acceptable to Him.
We may smile at how naive they were, but is this any perceptible difference in motivation between
their ritual washing, dietary precautions and what have you, and the equally misguided contemporary
Christians continual round of ceaseless activity to help gain a sense of acceptance before God?
None at all!
Christ plus anything equals heresy!
Though we have a lot of learning and growing to do after air salvation experience, nothing can add to
what Jesus has done as a means of salvation.
Jesus plus anything just isn't possible.
Yet, many saved, sinners today fall for the same old con job.
Perhaps, you have also.
We blow it with God in some area of our life.
A short time later, Satan, who usually camps on the shoulder of most of us Christians, whispers in our ears,
"You are not worthy of all that God has done for you.
At least, not now.
After what you have just done or left undone.
In fact, if you just face the truth about yourself, you will admit that you are not acceptable to God at all.
So, you had better get busy and do something to square accounts with God, otherwise, you will never be sure
that God approves of you."
If we buy the Devils false deal, we will set out on a feverish campaign designed to improve our situation.
We will try to rack up Brownie points with God.
We will try to strengthen our standing in His sight.
For a while, we may perform like Super Saint himself.
But in the process, we will wear ourselves to a frazzle, going to meetings; serving on committees;
even teaching Bible study hoping thereby to win the affection, the approval, and the acceptance of God.
We may be doing the right things, but we will be doing them for the wrong reason.
As a result, we will end up frustrated, joyless, and uncertain.
As one lady said to her pastor, "I don't know what's wrong with me.
I do all that I can serve the Lord, and I still feel guilty.
Then I feel guilty about feeling guilty."
It is discouraging to see all this laudable effort dismissed as "dead works."
It is disconcerting to learn that such effort, as a means of earning another spiritual merit badge,
just doesn't register with God.
God is simply not impressed by our feverish effort.
Let us think about the futility of activity.
What's the answer?
A secularized Christianity takes the "We are number two" approach.
That is believe in Jesus, and try harder.
That sounds deceptively pious, but it is dangerously pagan.
If we listen to what the writer of Hebrews says, we will quickly recognize the utter futility of activity
when it comes to getting or staying in touch with God.
The author of Hebrews remembers the awe-inspiring beauty of the tabernacle, and seems to say,
"If this earthly place and form of worship were so beautiful and moving then what must the true sanctuary
and just think how great and wonderful worship in heaven will be like.
The author of Hebrew sees the Old Testament layout as ritual and symbolic.
He sees it as a beautiful object lesson of the better way that Jesus had introduced.
Because, for all their splendor, the Old Testament provisions had no power in themselves.
They could not remove sin.
They could not cleanse the conscience.
They could not instigate full and free fellowship between God and man.
The insufficiency of the old system was evident.
The daily stream of priests going in and out of the main part of the tabernacle tending the lamp,
renewing the incense and, every seven days, changing the bread were dramatic proof that,
despite the richness of this ritual, the daily and annual ministrations did little good.
They only affected in the outer man.
They were "regulations for the body." (9:10)
They could not perfect the conscience. (9:9)
They could not touch the inner man.
The old system was bankrupt.
And, the moment Jesus died, the entire Old Testament religious system ceased to have
any meaning to men or standing with God.
At long last, the real thing had come.
The Old Testament sacrificial system had served its purpose.
So, God abolished the first in order to establish the second.
As long as those first century Hebrew Christians remembered, believed, and lived by that,
they were free.
They were able to handle the problem of recurring sin in a creative way.
They called it by its rightful name sin!
They confessed it to God.
They were forgiven.
They got back on the track of letting Jesus live His life through them.
But when, as sinner-saints, they began to question their acceptability to God.
When they begin to believe various forms of religious activity could add something
to what Jesus had done for them on the cross; or, believing there was real value in mere ritual
and realizing they were not fulfilling that ritual, were goaded by and nagging conscience
into an endless routine of dead works and missed the joy of the Lord.
They fail prey to the acme of futility pointless, ceaseless, religious activity, all of which was powerless
to affect their relationship to God.
What was true of them is true of you and me.
Our relationship to God does not depend on what we do for God, but what God in Christ has done for us.
God doesn't love you one bit more because you wear ourselves out in serving Him.
God loves us because God is love.
We do not make ourselves any more acceptable to Him because we commit ourselves
to some high-powered program of Bible study, witnessing, or social action.
We are acceptable to God because God sees us through Christ.
Christ is perfect.
Therefore we are perfect from God's perspective.
We are acceptable to Him, and He approves of us because when He looks at us, and all He sees is Jesus.
The key word is "all."
He doesn't see your sin He sees Jesus.
He doesn't see your frantic antics to make yourself more lovable and acceptable He sees Jesus.
That's all that God sees, but that is enough.
Ephesians 2:8,9 says, "For by grace [God's Riches At Christ's Expense] you have been saved through faith
[plus nothing]; and that not of yourselves [not your own doing], it is the gift of God; not as a result of works,
that no one should boast."
Once you get this truth, you will be free!
You will realize the utter futility of ceaseless activity aimed, even subconsciously, at improving
your relationship to God.
Let us look at the adequacy of reality.
In contrast to the futiliy of activity as a means of salvation, the writer of Hebrews focuses our attention
on the adequacy of reality.
Follow me as I read from Hebrews 9:11-14:
"But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater
and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation;
and not through the blood of goats and calves but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all,
having obtained eternal redemption.
"For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled,
sanctified for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ,
who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience
from dead works to serve the living God?"
When the author of Hebrews refers to Christ as "a high priest of the good things to come" (9:11),
he introduces us to the adequacy of reality.
(Some ancient manuscript read, "that have come.")
This is not something which will happen to us someday in the sweet by-and-by.
Jesus is what's happening now!
His ministry on our behalf is related to the everyday needs of now.
He is the "high priest of the good things to [that have] come."
Among these contemporary "good things" is the knowledge that
"the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin." (1 John 1:7b)
The real futility of pointless religious activity is that it cannot solve our problem.
It cannot touch the inner man.
It can only give us a kind of surface glaze which may dazzle others as they see us rushing
through our days, but which leaves us empty.
God wants to work and dwell in us at the deepest level.
In that "Holy of Holies" which is our own spirit.
Our body is symbolized by the outer court.
Our soul is symbolized by the holy place.
Our spirit is symbolized by the Holy of Holies.
It is there, and only there that we can really communed with God.
Jesus said, "God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." (John 5:24)
When you became a Christian, your spirit is quickened.
The Holy Spirit of God occupies your "Holy of Holies."
You are made alive.
That's what Jesus meant when He said, "I came that they might have life." (John 10:10b)
All this is accomplished through the blood of Jesus Christ.
There is nothing we can add to what God has done to make it more complete.
Remember the heavily Father does not accept you because you wear yourself to a frazzle
in futile religious activity.
He accepts you because you are in Christ.
When you grasp that wonderful fact, your service for Him will no longer be a duty.
It will be pure delight!
It is a way of saying, "Thank you, Jesus; thank you, thank you, Jesus!"
And forgiveness will not be something you struggle to earn as a saved sinner.
Instead, it will be a blessing you joyfully receive having been bought by the blood of the Lamb of God
which takes away the sin of the world. (John 1:29)
A good illustration of this is of a man named Joe.
Joe Blinco, a gentle giant now gone to be with God, was often heard to say,
"A thousand times I have failed Christ.
A thousand times I have forfeited my right to heaven.
A thousand times I have marred the image of God in me.
But 10,000 times 10,000, Christ has been ready, willing and able to forgive me and cleanse me.
Point me in the right direction again, dear God, and use me."
That is grace!
The unmerited, undeserved, unearned goodness of God made possible through the blood of Jesus Christ
that is grace.
Joe Blinco didn't focus on his failure, but he focused upon God's success.
That is something that every saved sinner must learn to do.
We must always remind ourselves what Jesus has done,
and what had to be done, Jesus did.
Now because He lives to make intercession for us and because Jesus is what's happening
He is doing and will continue to do what needs to be done in, to and through us.
Sermon adapted from several sources by Dr. Harold L. White