W. T. P. Wolston.
Extracted from "From the Far Country to the Father's House"
- "Grace and Truth" Gospel Series.
Publisher: Morrish. CBA8836.
"Then said he, Lo, I come TO DO THY WILL, O God . . . . BY THE WHICH WILL WE ARE SANCTIFIED, (2) THROUGH THE OFFERING OF THE BODY OF JESUS CHRIST once for all. And every priest stands daily ministering, and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; but this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins, forever sat down on the right hand of God. . . . FOR BY ONE OFFERING HE HATH PERFECTED FOR EVER them that are sanctified, (3) WHEREOF THE HOLY GHOST ALSO IS A WITNESS TO US. . . . Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now, where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he has consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh. . . (1) LET US DRAW NEAR With a true heart, in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. (2) LET US HOLD FAST the profession of our hope without wavering (for he is faithful that promised); and (3) LET US CONSIDER ONE ANOTHER to provoke to love and to good works; not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another; and so much the more as ye see the day approaching." — Heb. 10:9-25.
There are three points in this Scripture which stand out prominently, and they are replete with blessing for the sinner, because flowing from what God in Himself is. God is here seen as wanting something. He had a will, a wish. There was something He desired. Man has rebelled, against God, but God, spite of this, wants to have us near Himself.
This is the grand truth taught in Luke 14. The supper was spread, and God announced the desire of His heart. "A certain man made a great supper, and bade many." The guests were slow to heed the invitation given them, so the Master told His servants to compel them to come in, that His house might be filled. How wonderful! God wants the sinner to be near Him. Who does He want? You! a poor sinner! Yes; He wants you, but you cannot be near Him in your sins. Then how can you be there? This is, the wonderful truth which the Gospel brings out, that the blood of Christ, His Son, can cleanse you from all sin. Thus, and thus only, can you get rid of your sins.
Sin, if not blotted out by the blood of Jesus, must sweep every one to hell, the moral man and the immoral, the old and the young, the. rich and the poor, every one whose iniquities are still upon him. Nothing but the blood of Jesus can save anyone from being lost for ever in the lake of fire. Sin consigns the unbelieving possessor thereof to everlasting judgment, and blood - the blood of Jesus — lifts the feeblest believer therein to everlasting glory.
But answer me this question, Are you in your sins, or where are they? You may have the best character in the world, and the devil will help you to make it better even than it is, for he takes a great interest in "the self-improvement society." This is a very old institution, founded in the garden of Eden, its first members having manufactured "aprons of fig leaves" in hope of remedying their state. It helps you to give up this bad habit and that wicked way, and all its members are devil — deluded into the idea that "dead works" are of some avail, and that by behaving better for the future the evil deeds of the past will somehow be erased. How this is to be effected the founder of this almost without exception universally patronized society is careful not to explain. "He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it" (John 8:44). Yes, "the devil that deceived them" (Rev. 20:10) was the originator of this soul-destroying agency.
Is it not strange that man should heed the suggestions of "a deceiver," "a liar," and "a murderer?" But, alas! so it is; and never stopping to inquire, how future amendment is to cancel past guilt in the sight of a God of infinite holiness, souls in crowds join the society, and — unless getting their eyes opened by grace to see that such a course is a huge Satanic delusion, a monstrous spiritual lie, a diabolical bubble, which they are only blowing to ensure their everlasting damnation — pass on, fascinated by dreams of self-improvement, till, hurled by death into eternity, they find that "improvement" is not Christ, and that the pit of hell is a terrible reality.
My friend, if you are not under the shelter of the blood of Christ you are lost, and, improve as you will, you are only after all an improved sinner. You are still in your sins. "But," says some one, "how can you prove I am lost?" Hebrews 10 shows me. The work of the Lord Jesus there spoken of proves this, and the Gospel tells me, "The Son of Man came to save that which was lost" (Matt. 18:11). When did the shepherd in Luke 15 go after the sheep? Surely it was when the sheep was lost. Why did the woman carefully sweep the house? Because the bit of silver was lost. Ah! if you have not yet got the great fact that you are lost home to your conscience, I would not give much for your chance of salvation. It was the son which was lost that the father kissed and clothed; and it was to reach lost ones, to bridge the chasm that lay between the holy God and guilty sinners, that Christ said, "Lo, I come to do thy will, O God!"
Do not imagine God views your sins and your guilty state by nature as lightly as you do. He says you are lost, and if He meet you as you are He must judge you for your sins. Righteousness keeps God apart from the sinner. This is why in the Old Testament we read blood was sprinkled on the mercy-seat. God's claims had to be met. Thus only could God permit the sinner to come near to Him. The will of God was to have the sinner near Himself. Christ did the work by which alone it could be so. He made atonement, and the throne of God was propitiated. Sin had to be swept away from before God. Jesus only could do that. He was the willing servant for that great work. "Lo, I come to do Thy will!" is the Son of God volunteering Himself for this wondrous service.
And what do we further read was the blessed result of Christ's work? "By the which will we are sanctified, through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ." Now we see what it is which separates the sinner to God. It is the work of Christ, that work which removed the great mountain of sin that intervened between the holy God and guilty man. This truth is beautifully set forth, in type, in God dealings with the children of Israel. Exodus 12 tells of the blood of the slain lamb sprinkled on the lintel and two sideposts of the door in the houses of the Israelites. That signified they were sheltered from the wrath of God. He was kept out, as a judge. Exodus 13 declares all are the Lord's because of the blood which had been shed; so now we see every believer is separated to God by the work of Christ on the cross. In Exodus 14 we find Israel protected and "saved" by God — Jehovah, in the pillar of cloud and fire, placing Himself between Israel and the hosts of Pharaoh. And in Exodus 15 we see the Israelites thoroughly happy with God as they sang their song of triumph on resurrection ground. That is the gospel of the Old Testament, and of the New likewise. Sheltered from God, separated to God, saved by God, and happy with God.
Who, then, I ask, was it who wanted to have me? God! And who could bring me to God? His Son, and that only by death, His own death on the cross. What comfort for the anxious soul! God seeks to have you near Himself. His will is coupled up with your blessing. Do you think Satan wants to have you? Pharaoh sought to overtake the escaped Israelites, but how did he succeed? To reach them he must march against the bucklers of the Almighty. God was on the behalf of His people, and what happened to Pharaoh? Israel looked back from the sunny banks of resurrection, and saw Pharaoh and his hosts sunk in the waters of the Red Sea.
Well might Israel sing, "The Lord is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation" (Ex. 15:2). Great was their joy, and most blessed their song of praise; but it was not an endless song. Their confidence in God failed, and their song of triumph was succeeded by the murmurs of the wilderness. But what is said of the joy of the Father's house, that portion into which by grace we have been brought? Does the joy of that sphere ever fail? What does Luke 15:25 say? "And they began to be merry." There is no word of that song coming to an end. It is an endless song. Hebrews 10 shows why our song will be an endless one. It is because of the work of Christ. That work gives me title now to stand before God in righteousness, and it will be theme for endless song hereafter.
In Israel's day, when the High Priest went into the holy place, he could not sit down. There was no seat there for the priest to rest on. Why was this? Because his work was never done. He was "offering oftentimes the same sacrifices which can never take away sins." The work which gives liberty in the presence of God was not then an accomplished fact. Now that work is done, and we have an High Priest seated, who ever abides within the veil. The blessed God-man, the Lord Jesus Christ, the one whom God sent to deliver man right out of Satan's power, is our great High Priest. He is seated on the very throne of God, because He has finished the work God gave Him to do. Before He died He, cried, "It is finished," and here we read, "This man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins, for ever sat down on the right hand of God."
Sinner, you will see the One who did that perfect work! "Every eye shall see Him." How will you meet Him? Will it be to be banished from His presence? It must be so if you do not now know Him, and come to be blessed by Him. If you now believe in Him and His perfect finished work, it will be all blessing — blessing now, and everlasting blessing when you see Him.
But does some one ask, "How do you know His work was perfect?" Hebrews 10 tells me so. The Holy Ghost is the witness to the perfection of the work of Christ on the cross. What is His witness? Read verses 14, 15, and 17. "By one offering he has perfected forever them that are sanctified, whereof the Holy Ghost is a witness to us . . . and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more." People try to get a witness in themselves. They seek some feeling on which to rest for happiness, but this they cannot have.
Suppose you had a legacy left to you, and you received a letter from a lawyer telling you so, would you put this question to yourself, "Do I feel this fortune has been left to me?" Ah no, you would never think of your feelings, but simply believe the letter the lawyer sent to you, and rejoice over the money which you believed was now yours. Thus is the witness of man valued, but how differently is the testimony of God treated. And the word of God cannot fail: His word is true.
The Holy Ghost witnessed the return to heaven of the great Finisher of Redemption before He came to give His testimony. For ten days He saw the Lord Jesus at the right hand of God, and then came to earth to announce the glad tidings, that where there is simple trust in Christ and His work, sins and iniquities should no more be remembered by God. What a sacrifice, when such is the work it has accomplished. We would speak with reverence, but, so great is the value of the blood of Christ, that the very memory of God has been affected by it. He will remember no more the sins of the one who believes in the preciousness of the blood of Christ. That blood has blotted out from the memory of God the sins of everyone who believes; but if that blood be despised, what is said of the memory of the lost one in hell?
Ah! memory will have a great place in the regions of the damned. Its powers will deepen the misery of the lost. Read what is written of that scene in Luke 16:23: "In hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torments. And he cried, Send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted and thou art tormented."
You may be a good-for-nothing sinner, but if you believe the word of God as to the value of the work of Christ, the witness of the Holy Ghost to you is, "Your sins and iniquities will I remember no more." God has seen the blood, and when the sinner trusts in the work of Christ, the Holy Ghost is a witness to him that God remembers his sins no more.
We see, therefore, that we have in Heb. 10 these three great facts. (1) The will of God, which shows the Father's heart. He wished the salvation of the sinner, that he might take him as His child. (2) The work of the Son of God. That work secures the salvation which the heart of God desired for the sinner. This salvation is for everyone who will hear and obey the word of God; but we have also (3) the witness of the Spirit of God, which gives the assurance of salvation to the one who believes. The Holy Ghost witnesses to the sinner who has believed in the Lord Jesus Christ that his sins are for ever blotted out. What more does any one want? Only a heart to praise this triune God, who wills, works, and witnesses the present and eternal salvation of the feeblest believer in Jesus.
These three great, blessed, divine facts are the basis of the three beautiful effects which the Apostle now seeks to draw forth by the thrice repeated exhortation, "Let us." And he says, (1) "Let us draw near, with a true heart, in full assurance of faith." You must not doubt the Father's heart, nor the Son's work, nor the Spirit's witness. And what is a true heart? A heart that knows and believes it is in itself utterly untrue and not to be trusted. In Luke 8:15 we read of the "honest and good heart" — that is, one which believes what God says of the heart of man, that it is "deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked" (Jer. 17:9). it comes to God not seeking to screen itself. With such a heart, then, we must draw near to God, fully trusting God's revelation of Himself, and "having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience," which is the blessed effect in my soul of the knowledge of the work of Christ for me. The value of the sacrifice of Christ I have bowed to.
Then the Apostle goes on to say, "Our bodies washed with pure water." What is that? An allusion to what we get in Lev. 8:6, the washing of the priests at their consecration.
And now what are the consecrated ones told by the Apostle to do? (2) "Let us hold fast the profession of our hope without wavering." How unlike this is to many a Christian now-a-days. I see souls who have what I call a "hook-and-eye" sort of faith. They are sure of their salvation today, and all at sea about it tomorrow. Surely this is the work of Satan in the soul. He accuses the brethren before God, and he fills the soul with doubts; but tell me what room there is for any one to doubt who believes in the ransom God has given for the sinner? God is the justifier of the one who believes. Satin cannot touch the blood of Christ, and in that blood the sinner who believes has been washed. The blood cleanses from all sin, and its efficacy is everlasting. Who can accuse you when God justifies you?
"But will not Christ condemn me?" asks the doubting one. How could that be when it was Christ who died for you? May your hearts lay hold of the wondrous security of the one who trusts God's word. "Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering."
And what else are the consecrated ones exhorted to? (3) "Let us consider one another, to provoke to love and to good works." This is very important. You may be able to see very little of Christ in me, but you are told to provoke me to increased devotedness. How can you do this? You must lavish your love on me. How would you cure a pump if it were dry? By pouring into it a few buckets of water, and soon the sparkling water will flow forth in refreshing and continuous streams. Now this is how you are to deal with the sleepy, half-dead brother or sister. Let such an one see in you that which you long to find in him, and thus by your love you will provoke him to renewed energy in the Divine way.
Then how needful the next exhortation. "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another: and so much the more as ye see the day approaching." Let us seize every opportunity of being together as God's people; then will there be occasion for this holy provocation. If you like best to be by yourself, I can only say it is a very poor thing, and a bad sign of your own condition. It is the sheep that is sick that straggles away from the flock. Let us keep together and care for one another. Let us answer to that for which God has created us in Christ Jesus: namely, love and "good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them" (Eph. 2:10). Let our energies, beloved fellow-believers, be all controlled by the blessed Spirit of God, so that we may be to the praise of Him who loved us and gave Himself for us.
W. T. P. W.