God’s Big Promises – 1. You Are Forgiven God’s Answer to the Problem of Guilt
Hebrews 10: 10, 11
The Bible is a big book filled with promises. In times like these, we need the promises of God. We need hope that goes beyond the newest article about “flattening the curve” or the latest pronouncement from some politician. More than ever, we need to hear from heaven. We know the Bible is filled with promises, but how many are there? Someone concluded that there are 7487 promises from God to man in the Bible. That means 1 in every 4 verses is a promise from God. But why study the promises? That’s not a hard question to answer. They give us faith to believe in the darkness and strength in the moment of temptation. If we know God’s promises, we find guidance to take the next step and we gain strength to keep going when we feel like giving up.
Perhaps you remember the words of this gospel song: Standing on the promises that cannot fail, When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail, By the living Word of God I shall prevail, Standing on the promises of God.
May the Lord make those words come true for us. This series is called Big Promises: “God Says You Are, You Have, You Can, You Will.” We start with a message about God’s answer to the problem of guilt. It is based on the words of Hebrews 10: 11, 12. Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; Again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.
What is the main point of this passage? In the OT, the priest stood because his job was never done. But Jesus sat down at the right hand of God because his work was finished.
The priest stands. Jesus sits. That’s the whole message in 5 words. Or we can make it even simpler: Unfinished. Finished.
3 words summarize the religion of the OT: Blood – Death - Sacrifice There was no end to the killing, no end to the bloodshed, no end to the death. During the 1500 years from the time of Moses to the time of Christ, hundreds of thousands of lambs, goats and bulls were offered on the altar to make atonement for the sins of the people. That’s what the writer means when he says “day after day” and “again and again” the same sacrifices were offered.
Exodus and Leviticus describe the architecture of the ancient tabernacle. Moses writes at great length concerning the brazen altar, the table for the showbread, the candlesticks, the veil and the furniture inside the Holy of Holies. But you never read about a chair because there were no chairs in the tabernacle. When the priests were standing before God to minister, they could never sit down. Why? Because they never finished the work of making sacrifices and offerings before God.
On one side stand the priests doing the will of God day after day, week after week and year after year—killing animals for God. Their hands are stained with blood. The same thing every day, all the time. When one of them dies, another man steps up to continue the offerings and sacrifices. Always standing, never sitting down. On the other side stands one man. His name is Jesus Christ. Jesus did what they could never do. He sat down because his work was finished. One man paid for sins forever. He finished the work when he died on the cross, and then he sat down at the right hand of God. We all understand this picture, don’t we? It’s a wonderful thing to come home at the end of the day, tired from your work, and glad that it is over. You sit down because you finished what you set out to do.
Jesus sat down at God’s right hand in heaven because the work was done. When he cried out, “It is finished,” he didn’t mean, “It’s almost finished” or “I’m 90% done with the work of salvation.” He wasn’t saying, “I’ve done my part, so now you can do your part.” No, finished means finished. Christ paid in full in the price of our salvation. That’s why he sat down.
3 Eternal Truths
3 eternal truths that explain God’s answer to the problem of guilt.
1. Jesus Christ has done in His death what the Old Testament priests could never do.
The priests were good men who did God’s will. But Jesus Christ has done what they could never do. Sometimes we say practice makes perfect. That’s true in sports, and it’s true in playing the piano. Most things in life get better when we repeat them. But practice does not make perfect when it comes to the forgiveness of sins. You’ll never get your sins forgiven by doing something over and over and over again—like coming to church, saying a prayer, or keeping the 10 Commandments. When it comes to forgiveness, practice does not make perfect.
2. Nothing can be added to the work of Christ because it is final and complete.
That’s what Jesus meant when he said, “It is finished!” The word means, “Paid in full.” Nothing we can do could ever add to the value of Christ’s death. We struggle with this concept because it forces us to admit things: We can’t do anything to save ourselves. Jesus has done it all.
Only undeserving people go to heaven, which goes against everything we believe. No one can “earn” their way to heaven. We’re all sinners, whether we like to admit it or not. The Bible says, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Do you want to go to heaven? Here are 5 words that will take you there: “Only Jesus and Jesus Only.”
3. Because His work is finished, our salvation is certain.
This is the necessary conclusion from our text. The priests stood because their work was never finished, and they offered the same sacrifices over and over because sin was never removed. But Jesus, having offered himself as the sacrifice for sin forever, sat down in heaven because his work was done.
When Micah drew near the end of his little book, he exclaimed, “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives transgression?” Micah 7: 18. Where else will we find a God like this? He delights to show mercy to sinners like you and me. He loves to forgive sin. He longs for sinners to come to him. He sends his Son to die on the cross and then says to the whole world, “Anyone who wishes may take the gift of salvation.” People ask me, “Pastor, do you believe in free grace?” What other kind is there? If it’s not free, it’s not grace. Because Jesus paid it all, we can say to anyone, anywhere, at any time, “Come to Jesus, and your sins will be forgiven, and your guilt will be gone.”
Every other religion is based on works. You go to heaven because of what you do: Give money. Go to church or to the synagogue or the mosque. Light a candle. Pray all night. Keep the feast days. Keep the 10 Commandments. Follow the Golden Rule. Try harder. Do your best. Live a good life. Let me ask you a personal question. Are you satisfied with what Jesus did for you on the cross?
God is satisfied with what Jesus did. Jesus himself said, “It is finished.” The price has been paid in full. What do you say? Is Jesus enough to take you to heaven, or do you think you’ve got to add to what he did? Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe; Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow. Aren’t you glad Jesus paid it all? We’re going to heaven because we have a sit-down salvation, bought and paid for by the Son of God. That’s God’s answer to the problem of guilt.
Prayer - Father, when we ran from you, you ran after us. Our sin could not defeat your love for us. While we were your enemies, you sent Jesus to die for us. Thank you for providing a sit-down salvation. All glory to you, our Saviour and our Lord. Amen.