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Sermon Message

 

"The Privilege of Drawing Near"

Hebrews 10:19-25
Theme: This passage encourages all who trust in Christ to take up the great privilege of drawing near to "the Holiest" for fellowship with God.

(Delivered Sunday, April 10, 2005 at Bethany Bible Church. All Scripture quotes, unless otherwise indicated, are from the New King James Version.)

This morning, we will be celebrating a baptism. We will get to witness together the public profession of someone's faith in Jesus Christ, and to rejoice in God's gift of eternal life to them. That's always an important occasion.

And so, I'd like to invite you to turn an appropriate passage of scripture. It's very appropriate, because it speaks of the great privilege that belongs to those who have placed their faith in the cross of Jesus Christ. For all of us poor sinners who have trusted Him, it is our immeasurable privilege to draw near to God - and to enter, as it were, into the very "Holy of holies" - for full fellowship with Him. And that great "privilege" is what this morning's passage is all about.

* * * * * * * * * *

Before I read it to you, I need to tell you what I had originally planned to title my sermon. (I guess that, if I tell you what I was GOING to title it, it's almost as good as if I HAD given it that title . . . without actually having done so!) I was originally going to title it, "HOW DARE WE . . .?!!" I liked that title. It has 'shock value'! But I chose not to give my sermon that title, because I was afraid it was a bit 'over the top'. But if I HAD given it that title, it really wouldn't have been all that inappropriate.

You see; this passage answers an important question: "How can sinners like us dare to approach a holy God for fellowship? God is holy; but we are sinners. What an act of 'boldness' it would be for us to approach such a holy God!! How dare we . . .?!!" Well, this passage tells us just how it can be that sinners like you and me could dare approach such a holy God. We can only dare to approach the throne of God because it is now our privilege in Christ to do so. And the wonderful invitation of this passage, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, is that we take up that privilege to the fullest degree.

Since this passage is meant to convey a word of encouragement to us, I thought a better - that is, a more encouraging - title would be: "THE PRIVILEGE OF DRAWING NEAR." (Maybe when we're through this morning, you'll find you liked the other title better. If so - and you'd like to change it - please be my guest. I rarely give you this many options to choose from; but this is a special occasion!)

Well; enough about the title already - whatever it is! Before we run out of time this morning, let's look at the passage. It's found in Hebrews 10:19-25; and it says,

Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, 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. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching (Heb. 10:19-25).

* * * * * * * * * *

This passage requires more than just a little background explanation! Do you notice how it begins with the word "Therefore . . ."? It's because the author of this letter is making an appeal in this passage that's based on all that he has already stressed in all the book of Hebrews, leading up to this point.

He was writing his letter to encourage a group of Jewish believers. They had come to believe on Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah, and had placed their faith in Him as God's promised sacrifice for sins. And in placing their faith in Him, they were to see Him as having fully satisfied all the ceremonial laws and rituals and sacrifices that - as Jewish people - had been commanded to them in the Law of Moses. As the apostle Paul had written elsewhere, they no longer needed to conform themselves to those things - "in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ" (Col. 2:16-17).

Now think of what it was that was being told to them! For all their lives, these Jewish people had oriented their lives around a "Judaistic" approach to God. They had been taught that the God of Israel, the one true God, is an immeasurably holy God. He is a God who cannot tolerate sin in His holy presence; and who must place the sentence of death upon anyone who sins before His all-seeing gaze. And so, they were instructed in the Law given to Moses that they may only approach Him through the blood of a sacrifice. Death was required because of their sins; and so, a substitute must die in their place before they could dare to draw near to God.

They were taught that God, in great mercy, had established a way by which a sinner may approach Him; and that was through a priesthood that served in God's earthly temple by providing sacrifices for the atonement of sin. But no one from among the families of Israel could approach God in His tabernacle personally. They could only do so through the mediating ministry of a priest; and only as that priest would offer sacrifices on their behalf before God.

And even the way for the priests to approach God was restricted - since they too were sinners. The tabernacle of the Old Testament was constructed with an outer court, into which no one but the priests may enter. A sinner may bring his or her offering to the door of the court and slay it there; but it was the priest who would then bring the offering into the court to offer it on the altar.

And then, there was a sectioned-off place within the court - a place called "the sanctuary". It contained the lampstand that was constantly kept burning, the altar of incense, the table, and - on the table - the showbread that was placed before God every week. And within this "sanctuary" was yet another sectioned-off area. This place was called "the Holiest of all". It was the most sacred place in all the tabernacle; because it contained the ark of the covenant. In fact, it was really the most sacred place on earth; because it was the one spot on the earth in which God's presence was identified to His people. Only the high priest was allowed to enter into the Holiest; and that only once a year - to offer the blood of a sacrifice on the Day of Atonement.

This "Holiest of all" - the place in which God's holy presence on earth was marked off - was separated from all of sinful humanity by a large curtain, or a "veil". This "veil" was a vivid illustration of the fact that access was denied to sinners - except through the blood of a sacrifice and by the hand of a priest.

Now all along, all of this was intended to be a picture of the sacrifice that Christ would make for us; and it was intended to ultimately point them to Him - long before He came (Heb. 9:8-10). But it also communicated a picture of just how unapproachable God is in His holiness! Who could be so bold as to step into His presence? How dare they?!

* * * * * * * * * *

There's a story in the Old Testament of one of the kings of Judah who dared to draw near to God in the temple when he should not have. His name was Uzziah; and he was a king that became overcome with pride.

One day, this king transgressed against God's law, entered into the temple where only the priests were permitted to enter - and even into the very sanctuary. and presumed to offer incense before the veil of the Holy place. This was an act of great sin! How dare he! Some of the priests valiantly tried to stop him. They boldly confronted him and said, "Your majesty! Get out of the sanctuary, for you have sinned by stepping into a place you don't belong! You shall have no honor from the LORD if you do this! It's not for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the LORD, but only for the priests who have been consecrated to do so!" But this only made King Uzziah angry and more bold; and he dared to lift up the censer incense before God in spite of their warnings.

And we're told that while he stood in the sanctuary and before the altar of incense, and while he still had the censer of incense in his hand, and while he was expressing his anger at the priests, leprosy suddenly began to break out on his forehead! The priests saw it; and they hauled him bodily out of the sanctuary as quickly as they could. It was clear that the Lord had struck him for having dared to draw near to the Holy place in such a presumptuous way; and the Bible tells us "King Uzziah was a leper until the day of his death. He dwelt in an isolated house, because he was a leper; for he was cut off from the house of the LORD" (2 Chron. 26:21). It was an act of mercy from God that the king didn't die on the spot! Others in Bible history HAVE died for such boldness before God!

What an unspeakably holy God our God is! How dare sinners like us approach Him in the Holy place in any way except through the blood of a sacrifice offered by the high priest! How we should tremble to do so! And yet, think about it! That's what the writer of Hebrews was saying that these Jewish believers could now do - through faith in Jesus Christ. Many of them struggled with the idea that they may now truly approach God and enter into such intimate fellowship with Him. Some of them were being persecuted by their fellow Jews for their faith in Jesus as the Messiah; and some were even thinking of giving up, and returning to their Judaistic traditions.

And that's why the writer of Hebrews wrote this letter. He wanted to encourage his Jewish brothers and sisters not to abandon their faith in Christ. The whole letter is meant to demonstrate that Jesus Christ has truly fulfilled all the requirements of the Law - including all the requirements about the blood sacrifices that were to be offered by the priests. It's all fulfilled in Christ. He spends the whole letter arguing that Jesus is now our High Priest who has made offering for us and who is our Advocate before God; and that He Himself is even the very sacrifice itself that atones fully for our sins and makes us acceptable before this very holy God.

And it all comes together, in a very practical appeal, in our passage this morning: "Therefore, brethren . . ." He's writing to those who have placed their trust in Jesus; and he now brings together all that he has said about Jesus to encourage them that they are welcomed and invited "draw near" to God by faith in Him - even into the very Holy place!

* * * * * * * * * *

This is an important word to hear on the morning in which we celebrate a baptism. We're celebrating the fact that someone has placed their trust in Christ. And this morning, I would like for this passage to be my word of exhortation to our candidate for baptism. But I hope that everyone here will listen in. It's my hope that all of us who have trusted Jesus as their Savior will be encouraged to take up the wonderful invitation in this morning's passage. I hope that each of us will embrace the great privilege of drawing near to God through Christ.

Now; look a little closer at the words of this morning's passage. The first thing I'd like point out from it is . . .

1. THE BASIS OF OUR PRIVILEGE (vv. 19-21).

I believe that it can be summed up in the word "having". The argument of the writer of Hebrews is based on the conviction of what we already have in Christ - some things that are already our possession right now because of our relationship to Him. And "having" these things is the basis of our privilege of "drawing near" to God.

The writer begins by saying that we have a proper cause for boldness to enter the Holiest place. Now think of that! Uzziah was bold, but he didn't have a proper cause before God for that boldness. But we do! The writer says, "Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh . . . (vv. 19-20).

There are several very important things for us to notice in these verses. They give us good reason for boldness! First, we're told that it's "by the blood of Jesus" that we may approach the Holy place so boldly. No one was ever permitted to enter into the Holy place except by the blood of a sacrifice. And that blood has been offered already for us in the Person of Jesus Christ.

Do you notice that, in giving us this invitation, God didn't set the requirement of blood aside? No one should ever think for a moment that God has simply 'changed His mind' about all those required sacrifices. All those sacrifices for our sins are as necessary now as they have ever been! But the good news is that they have all now been fully offered for us - once and for all - in the Person of Jesus Christ. The writer of Hebrews says that, "without the shedding of blood there is no remission" - that is, "forgiveness" (9:22). But he also said,

But Christ came as a High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption (9:11-12).

We also see that by Jesus shedding His blood for us, He has initiated a new and living "way" into the Holy place. It's called "new" (or "recent") because it is no longer in the "old" way that restricted us - that is, through the ceremonial laws and rituals performed by a human priest in the temple. It was no longer in that old way that required a sacrifice to be slain. (In fact, the word that the writer uses originally meant "recently slain".) That old way was imperfect; because it was only meant to be temporary. And what's more, it could never really take away our sins. But now, Jesus has "consecrated" or "instituted" a "new" way. And it's not only called a "new" way, but also a "living" way; because it is no longer the way of "death" upon "death" through endless sacrifices, but through a "living" Savior. And because it fully take away sin, it results in our eternal life!

And we also see that we have this boldness by the fact that Jesus initiated it for us "through the veil, that is, His flesh". Here, we see that the "veil" of the Old Testament temple was meant to be a picture of something much greater than anyone expected. It was a picture of the body of Jesus Himself. He was our atoning Sacrifice; and so long as He lived, our sins were not atoned for; and the veil - so to speak - remained to bar the way to God. But when He gave His life on the cross, and allowed His "flesh" to be broken for us, He made a new way that takes us right through the veil and into the Holy place!

This was quite literally so, by the way. Do you remember what the Bible tells us happened when Jesus died on the cross? We're told that He cried out with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. And the moment that happened, ". . . Behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from the top to the bottom" (Matthew 27:51). It wasn't simply torn part of the way; but "from the top to the bottom". If you didn't know the significance of the tearing of that veil before, hopefully you do now! In it, God the Father was giving us a picture of something very important. He was letting us know that, now that His Son has died in our place, His holy demands are fully satisfied and the "veil" has been removed. Now, because of the death of Jesus, we sinners have full and free access to enter into the Holy place and have fellowship with God the Father.

Tearing the veil in two was God's vivid way of placing the welcome matt out before us! It was God's open invitation to now draw near!

* * * * * * * * * *

This was brought about for us by the blood of Jesus. But as great a thing as that is, it alone does not give us sufficient reason to boldly march into the Holy place. The sacrifices of the Old Testament have been satisfied through the blood of Christ; but those Old Testament sacrifices, to be accepted, also had to be offered by a priest.

And it's then we're told of something else we "have". The writer of Hebrews goes on to say, ". . . and having a High Priests over the house of God" (v. 21). Our Savior was not only the sacrifice for our sins, but He is also the priest who offered the sacrifice for us in a way that was satisfactory to His Father.

And what's more, He carries on an ongoing ministry of serving as the Mediator between God and those of us God has called to salvation. Jesus Himself maintains our free access to the Father for us! Elsewhere, the writer of Hebrews introduces Jesus to us as our "High Priest", and writes,

For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctities for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of eternal life (Hebrews 9:13-16).

This is a truth about our Savior that I love very much. We cannot approach a holy God in any way other than imperfectly. We sin every day; and even in our best efforts to worship God in holiness, we still taint it all with sin. And yet, we have a great Advocate with the Father - Jesus our High Priest. Whenever we stumble and fall, our High Priest points to His own blood as our atonement, and pleads that blood on our behalf! He Himself forever ensures that we may freely approach His Father's throne. As Paul has put it, "Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us" (Rom. 8:43).

So then; we have not only the blood of Jesus as the full atonement of our sins, but also the very same Jesus who offered His blood to forever live and intercede for us as our High Priest! No wonder the veil is now removed! No wonder we may have "boldness" in entering into the very Holy place!

* * * * * * * * * *

Now to our dear sister who is being baptized; let me just say that that's what you are declaring today to have placed your hope in! And it's on the basis of that declaration that I have good news for you: you have boldness to enter into the very Holy of holies as if you belonged there - because you truly do! You may freely approach God as your Father and talk to Him about anything; and know that, in Christ, He loves you and accepts you and warmly welcomes you into His holy fellowship.

That's not only true for; but it's also true for all of us who place our trust in Him. I believe that's why the writer of Hebrews makes a point of saying "Therefore, brothers . . ."

Now that's the basis of the privilege we have in Christ. This leads us, next, to consider . . .

2. THE PRIVILEGE THAT IS OURS (v. 22).

And in a word, it is that we may now "draw near". We no longer need to shrink back because of our sin. Leaving our sin behind, we are free to now enter boldly into the Holy place by the blood of Jesus.

Apart from God's grace toward us, we would not be able to draw near at all. Even when the people of Israel were gathered around the mountain, when God first gave His Law through Moses, they were allowed to congregate before Him; but they were not allowed to draw near to Him. God told Moses, "You shall set bounds for the people all around, saying, 'Take heed to yourselves that you do not go up to the mountain or touch its base. Whoever touches the mountain shall surely be put to death. Not a hand shall touch him, but he shall surely be stoned or shot with an arrow; whether man or beast, he shall not live'" (Ex. 19:12-13). This was because God is a holy God who cannot tolerate sin in His midst. It was even a great act of His grace that He would appear on the mountain at all! But they were to keep their distance; and not draw near. He warned that, if they were to break through to come up to Him, He would break out against them (19:24).

And they had an even greater sense of His unapproachable holiness after He spoke the Law to them. They witnessed the thunderings, the lightning flashes, the terrible sound of the trumpet blast, and the sight of the mountain shaking and smoking because of the presence of God! And the Bible tells us that they "trembled and stood afar off" (20:18). They even told Moses, "You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die" (v. 19). Moses was permitted to draw near the thick darkness where God was; but the people stood afar off in unspeakable terror! And who could blame them? They had a very realistic view of God! As the writer of Hebrews tells us, "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (Heb. 10:31)! We're told that even Moses said, "I am exceedingly afraid and trembling" (12:21).

But now, in Christ, this same majestically holy God - this even dreadfully holy God - invites us to draw near. And we do so; not as fearful creatures trembling before a dreadful God, but as dear children welcomed and loved by a heavenly Father!

* * * * * * * * * *

So then, look at how the writer of Hebrews sets this invitation before us. He says, "Let us draw near with a true heart"; that is, with a heart that is "unfeigned". We have no need to hide anything from God any longer, because we know that He loves us and welcomes us in Christ.

One of the things that God greatly values from us as His children is a heart that's real before Him. You know how it is with someone you love, don't you? You want them to be 'real' with you. And as His children, God feels the same toward us. But here's the problem: Even as His children, our hearts are still tainted with sin! We think things before Him that we shouldn't think. He have motives before Him that we shouldn't have. There is still so much sin in us! How could we dare draw near before such a holy God and allow all that really goes on in our hearts to be paraded before Him? We certainly wouldn't dare! - unless an atonement for that sin had already been made. And praise God that it already has! He has already promised that, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). We may now draw near with a "true" - that is, "real" - heart before Him.

We may also draw near "in full assurance of faith". That means, we may draw near with full confidence and conviction that we are 100% acceptable in the sight of God on the basis of Jesus' sacrifice for us. Romans 8:1-4 spells this out for us very clearly:

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteousness requirements of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit (Rom. 8:1-4).

And finally, we can draw near, "having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water". You might have thought, at first glance, that this is talking about baptism. But really, its a picture drawn from the Old Testament; and is meant convey to us that we are fully consecrated before God and sanctified unto His use.

In the Old Testament, all things consecrated unto God in the tabernacle were sprinkled with blood. The writer of Hebrews tells us that, according to the command of God, Moses "sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry. And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood . . ." (9:20-21). And yet, here, we're told that "our hearts" have been "sprinkled from an evil conscience". We have been consecrated and cleansed on the inside!

We've also been "washed". In the Old Testament, the consecration of the priests also involved the washing of their whole bodies. We're told that, at the time of their consecration, "Moses brought Aaron and his sons and washed them with water" before he put the priestly garments on them (Lev. 8:6). And now, we're told that we are also consecrated before God in this way; in that "our bodies" have been "washed with pure water". We have been consecrated and cleansed both on the inside and the outside!

Before we leave this subject of "washing", I must share something with you. The word that the writer of Hebrews uses the word that means "a whole bath" (lou§). There's another word that means simply "the washing of one's hands or feet" - but not the whole body (nipt§). Jesus used both of these words when He approached Peter to wash His feet. Peter drew back; but Jesus told Him, "If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me" (John 13:8). And in saying this, He used the word that simply means just a partial washing. When he heard that, Peter responded by saying, "Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head." But Jesus said to him, "He who is bathed [and here, our Lord uses the word for a whole-body bath; and uses a form of it that indicates that it had already been done], needs only to wash his feet [here using the word for just a partial washing], but is completely clean . . ." And then He says, ". . . And you are clean . . ." (v. 10).

Dear brothers and sisters; that's our condition in Christ! We have been completely washed - cleansed with the full washing of consecration unto God. It's true that, as we go along in life through a sinful world, we get our feet dirty again; but it's not necessary for us to have that whole "full-body" wash! We just need to have our feet hosed-off now and then!

When the writer of Hebrews speaks of our having been sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water, he uses a form of the verb that means a past completed act. It is already done!

* * * * * * * * * *

Now again, to our dear sister this morning; look back at all that! Do you see how completely you may draw near to God in Christ? You may draw near to Him as one who can have an absolutely sincere and 'real' heart before Him - opening up all to Him, and hiding nothing from Him. He already knows you thoroughly; and loves you completely. You may also draw near to Him with the full assurance of faith; knowing that He is completely satisfied with the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for you, and that you stand 100% acceptable in His sight in Christ! And you can draw near to Him as someone who has been consecrated unto Him fully - having already been sprinkled from an evil conscience, and already washed with pure water! Your baptism this morning is simply a symbol commemorating what has already been done for you in Christ!

What a privilege you have of drawing near to God! What a privilege it is that all of us, who have likewise trusted Christ, enjoy with you!

* * * * * * * * * *

That leads us with a final word of encouragement; and that is . . .

3. THE TAKING-UP OF OUR PRIVILEGE (vv. 22-25).

There are three things I'd like to share with you in closing; and each of them are summed up in the phrase, "Let us . . ." These are all put in the form of an appeal; and I would like to make them an appeal to our dear sister this morning - but also to all of us together. These are the things that you must do to fully take up this great privilege of drawing near that God has placed before you.

The first should be obvious: "Let us draw near . . ." (v. 22). But we need to hear it anyway. Every provision that is necessary for you to draw near to God has already been made. There is no limit to how close you may draw to Him; because, through Christ, He has removed every possible barrier. That means that you may now draw as close to God as you dare to be! In fact, at this moment you ARE as close to God as you CHOOSE to be! And yet we continually need to be urged; "Draw near!"

I would urge you, dear sister - and I would urge all of us at the same time who have also trusted Christ - to let nothing hinder you in drawing closer to God every day. God has made a promise in James 4:8; "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you." He loves you and wants to enter into deep fellowship with Him. So take up this privilege fully: Draw near!

* * * * * * * * * *

A second appeal that I would like to present to you is in verse 23: "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering . . ." This is an appeal to you to hang on tight to the truths of the faith. The writer of these words literally says, "Let us hold down in full possession the confession of the hope". He calls it "the" hope, because it's based on the promises of God that are contained for us in the scriptures.

I appeal to you, dear sister: Learn these promises! Read your Bible every day in the power of the Holy Spirit. Become a good student of the word. Hold on to these things; and do so without wavering, because many people will try to persuade you from them. You can confidently do so; because, as the writer says, "He who promises is faithful." He always keeps every promise He ever makes. You can trust in Him to keep His word. 'Holding fast the confession of our hope' is something that you need to do in order to draw near to God.

* * * * * * * * * *

And as a third appeal, I would like to present to you the last two verses: "And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works . . ." You have been made a part of the body of Christ. You need the other members of the body, and they need you. Keep your obligation to your brothers and sisters always in mind. Learn to use your spiritual gifts, and minister them faithfully to the building up of the body of Christ. Stir up love and good deeds among your brothers and sisters; and let them stir up love and good deeds in you.

God has made you in such a way that it is impossible for you to draw as near to Him as He wants you to draw - unless you are with your brothers and sisters in Christ! The devil will seek to keep you from your church family, in order to weaken you and draw you into sin. DON'T LET THIS HAPPEN! Look at what the writer says in verse 25; ". . . Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some . . ." Now that you have placed your faith in Christ and are beginning to draw near to God, you'll begin to feel all kinds of pressures that would pull you away from involvement with your church family. You'll begin to get busy, and feel like you don't have time for church. You have a strained relationship with someone in church, and you'll be tempted to not go just so you can avoid them. You'll not like something that the preacher says (hey; it can happen!), and you'll feel too offended to go to church. You may - although I hope this never happens - begin to allow something in your life that doesn't belong there; and you'll feel inclined not to go to church instead of taking care of that area of your life. Dear sister; RESIST THESE TEMPTATIONS!

Let me pass on to you a commitment that I have personally made. I have made the promise to GodSo I say this to you, dear sister, and I say it to all: Do not forsake the assembling of ourselves together! It's by keeping together that we are better able to draw near to God.

* * * * * * * * * *

So then; maybe both of my suggested sermon titles are good after all. "HOW DARE WE . . .?" How dare sinners like us draw near to the Holy of holies and enter into fellowship with God? Only by Christ; because it is only in Christ that we can enjoy "THE PRIVILEGE OF DRAWING NEAR."

By God's grace, may we each fully take up this great privilege in Christ today!

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