Is It Christ or Judgment?

Is It Christ or Judgment?

Is It Christ or Judgment? is a sermon teaching us that it is our choice to either die and pay for our sin or accept the fact that payment was made for us by Jesus Christ.

Key verses:
Hebrews 10:1-39

To begin with, we will look at the last two verses of Hebrews chapter ten and then we will go back and read the rest of the verses.

Hebrews 10:38: “Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.”

Hebrews 10:39: “But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.”

The Idea of Justice

I want to talk to you this morning about justice. What is justice? How do we have justice? What is the source and how do you determine what justice is? How do we know any of this? Is there any way to know?

Some say they know what justice is, but have you ever had to define it? Our title this morning is “Is It Christ or Judgment?” What does that have to do with justice? Everything. It has everything to do with justice. We will show you that as we go along. But I want you to keep in your mind the idea of justice. For example, is God right to judge sinners? Or is Christ the only way to be forgiven? I want to talk about this and other questions.

Before we get back into Hebrews chapter ten, I want to ask you some questions. These are thought questions, I am not asking anybody to answer out loud and I am not asking anybody to raise your hand or nod in agreement or shake your head in disagreement, just think about these questions. They are questions for you to consider and answer for yourselves. I am going to say this to you because everyone’s answer may not be the same, and that would not be abnormal if everybody did not have the same answer. So, let me just ask you a few things.

Do you believe that some things are right, and some things are wrong? And that is to say if right and wrong even exist. Is there such a thing as right and wrong?

If you believe that right and wrong exist, then who or what determines right and wrong? That is to say, who gets to say so? Or how do we know what is right and what is wrong?

By Who’s Authority?

If you do not believe that right and wrong exist, then how do we have any rights at all as individuals? In our nation’s Constitution we have the first ten amendments which are the Bill of Rights, and the founders first wrote the Constitution and then the states would not pass it, they would not ratify it. They said that it did not say enough about individual rights. They went back and wrote those ten amendments we call the Bill of Rights and said these are rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

If you believe the Bill of Rights is right, then who made these things, right? And who gave these rights to the people? The obvious answer would be the U.S. Congress and by extension, the U.S. Constitution. But who gave the U.S. Congress the right to say what was right and wrong? Were they simply written out, are these the opinions of their authors, or is there a bigger basis for rights? Is there a bigger basis for what is right and what is wrong, what is fair and what is not?

So, again, who has the authority to say what is right and what is wrong? Is it common sense, that is to say, does mankind instinctively know what is right and wrong? There are some who would say right and wrong are instinctive and we call that conscience. But let me ask you this, do all people follow instinctively what is right? Or do some people instinctively do what is wrong? How do you tell if it is right or wrong for that individual?

By the way, all these questions have answers. Am I going somewhere with this? Yes. Is right and wrong determined by the end results of our actions? In other words, is it right as long as it turns out well? Or is it wrong only if it does not turn out well? How do we know if the end result of our actions and choices is right and wrong? Is it what produces good for the largest number of people? Well, that may sound good. We will do what is good for the largest number of people and that is what is right. Well, if that is true, then it cannot produce good for all people. What about the rest of the people? Or do we determine what is right by what harms the fewest number of people? If that is true, we must allow harm to come to some people.

Is right or wrong determined by rules? I had a friend years ago, a good friend, a great guy in a lot of ways, and very talented. But he hated to lose at anything. If you were playing a game with him and he was losing, he would change the rules so that he would win. A lot of people live that way, don’t they? They just like to live that way. They want to change the rules. But if rules determine what is right and wrong, who gets to set the rules? Is it the government? Not all governments have the same rules, we have illustrated that here before. And the rules of some governments are 180 degrees opposite to the rules of other governments. So how, again, do we know what is right and wrong?

Fairness for All?

Is it determined by fairness? Fairness would treat all people equally. Well, that sounds good. Do we not believe that all men are created equal? I believe that. I imagine you do as well. Let me share with you an illustration that was shared with me by my sixth-grade teacher, Mr. Hodges. He gave us this illustration as sixth-graders one day and said, “I have great news for everybody in the class. From now on, we are going to change our grading system and we are going to change it so it is equal for everybody. From now on when you turn in your homework, you turn in a paper, or you take a test, whatever grade you would have gotten, whether you got an ‘A’ or whether you have gotten an ‘F,’ everybody in the class is going to get a ‘C’ and that makes you all equal.”

As you can imagine, some of us thought that was great. I do not have to work hard, I am going to get a “C.” But others who were “A” students, by the way, I was not in that group. But those who were “A” students did not like that very much. Mr. Hodges asked what was wrong with that, it was fair for everybody, everybody gets the same grade. It works for some people, but it does not work for everybody. So, is that really fair? It sounds good on the surface, but it really is not fair.

It would seem we, and I use “we” in the collective sense, understand that somebody might say, “What do you mean ‘we’? I do not think the same way you do, ‘we’ maybe you but it is no me and you.” People may feel that way, and they have a right to. But I think most of us might say there are such things as right and wrong. Right and wrong do exist. And if we accept the idea that right and wrong do exist, then we are back to the question, who or what has the authority to say what is right and what is wrong. And that brings us back to the question of origin.

The Creator’s Law

If, as some say, you and I and everything else, on this planet, in this world are just one giant cosmic accident, if that is true, then once again we are left with the question of whether anything can be right or wrong if everything is an accident. It is kind of hard to say what is right and wrong, isn’t it?

But, if I was to assert, we are not all accidents, we are here by plan and purpose and if that is true, then that leads us to a Creator. You may be thinking if I am saying we have a Creator, and that Creator has the authority to tell us what is right and wrong. Yes, that is exactly what I am saying. If we have a Creator and our Creator designed us, made, and created everything around us, then that Creator would have a right to set forth what is right and what is wrong, and what is true and what is false.

It is because He is the Creator that He has the authority to tell us what is right and what is wrong. So, all of that is to bring you back to Hebrews chapter ten and read the first three verses, and then comment a little bit on that.

Hebrews 10:1: “For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.”

Hebrews 10:2: “For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins.”

Hebrews 10:3: “But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year.”

What he is telling us is this: God gave a law, and the law was given to tell us, given us a standard, of what is right and what is wrong. It also told us there is a penalty for doing wrong or transgressing or disobeying the Creator’s law and that is called sin.

The English definition of sin is this: Transgression of divine law or an act of evil or wickedness. But the Bible was originally written in Hebrew and Greek languages, and the Hebrew word translated as sin means literally to go the wrong way; stop, you are going the wrong way. Have you ever started to get on the interstate and get on a ramp and there is a sign that says “Stop wrong way.”? Well, you had better stop and turn around because you really are going the wrong way, you are going to have serious problems very quickly. But that is what the Hebrew word for sin means, you are going the wrong way.

The Greek word translated as sin has a slightly different meaning, but I think the two of them fit together very well. It means to miss the target or not to live up to the standard. What is the standard? The standard is the standard set by God. The standard is the law that God gave us.

Atone for Transgressions

So, the law teaches us that when we sin or disobey the law of God, we are going the wrong way, we have missed the standard, we have come short of it, and sacrifices must be made to atone for sin. What does atonement mean? The word “atonement” means a covering.

You remember the story of Adam and Eve when they were in the garden and they sinned, and God put them out of the garden. The first thing they did when they realized they had sinned and God was coming, they made themselves aprons, it says, out of leaves. Why did they do that? What else are they going to make them out of? What do I mean? We’ve made them out of animal skins. No animal at that point had ever died. They did not know how to kill an animal; it had never been done.

But then you read after they have been put out of the garden that God made coats of skins to cover them. If God made those coats of skins, could God have just created those coats of skins? Yes, He could have, but the implication is that He did not do it that way, that He killed animals to make coats of skins. Why? So that they could understand the wages of sin is death.

Not long after that, you read about the first two boys, Cain and Abel. This is not in the Bible, but I going to give you an extrabiblical story and I am just telling you because I like it. Is it a true story? Probably not. But the story goes like this. One day, Cain and Abel were being very, very annoying, their behavior just was not right, Adam got angry with them, and Adam came to them and just really chewed them out and yelled at them and scolded them, and then he turned around and walked away. Cain looked at Abel and said, “You would think dad was never a kid.” Some of you understand that.

What happened with Cain and Abel? They brought sacrifices to God. Cain is a farmer, and by the way, farming is the world’s oldest profession. You’ve heard somebody say…, but no, farming is the world’s oldest profession, no doubt about it. Thank God for farmers. I have not seen it in a long time, but you would see a bumper sticker around here that said, “If you complain about the farmer, don’t talk with your mouth full.” Makes good sense, doesn’t it? Cain was a farmer, so he brings the fruit of his labors, things that he has grown, things that he has produced.

But Abel comes with a blood sacrifice of a lamb. God accepted Abel’s sacrifice and did not accept Cain’s sacrifice. Cain got angry and committed the first murder, killed his own brother. If Cain was not right with God before that, and he was not, he certainly was not when he killed his brother. The law teaches us to bring offerings or sacrifices to atone for or cover our sins. But covering or atoning does not mean erasing the sin. It does not make it go away; it just covers it. It is better but it is not complete.

What we are told in those first three verses in Hebrews chapter ten is, it had to be done repeatedly. There were some sacrifices that were made daily, some were made weekly, and monthly. But the Day of Atonement was yearly and that is what it means to be done year by year.

The point that he is making here is, if those animal sacrifices took away sin, why would the people have to come back year after year and make another sacrifice? If those sacrifices were not just atonement or covering, and if they really took away sins, then once you did it, that should be the end of it. Done deal. But look at verse four, we get the answer to that question:

Hebrews 10:4: “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.”

That is why it is only an atonement. Killing an animal is a sacrifice. Bulls and goats were valuable animals. You may not want to kill any animal. Fine. But bulls and goats were valuable animals.

I trust you are with me on this. Some people would not be and if you are not, OK, we can talk about it later. I personally think there is a big difference between killing a bull or a goat and squashing a roach. I just do. Some people do not see it that way. Some say killing one thing is the same as killing another. I disagree. But the fact of the matter is in this case the blood of bulls and goats was an atonement but did not take away sin because it could not take away sin.

One for All

Verse five begins with “Wherefore” because of all the things he said in verses one to four:

Hebrews 10:5: “Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me:”

The verse says, “when he cometh into the world.” Who came into the world? Jesus came into the world. “Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me:” – now think about that for a moment. Prior to that night in Bethlehem, Jesus did not have a body. What do I mean He did not have a body?

John 4:24: “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”

Who said that? Jesus did. Now, here is the situation. He took on a body, he took on human form so that He could do something He could not do otherwise so that He could die. You see, God as the Spirit, cannot die, but human bodies can. He took on human form, a human body so that He could experience death as the ultimate sacrifice for all people for all time. Where did I get that? I read the rest of the chapter.

Hebrews 10:6: “In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure.”

Hebrews 10:7: “Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God.”

Hebrews 10:8: “Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law;”

What he is teaching us is this. Jesus Christ came into this world to offer himself a once and for all sacrifice. Not like the yearly sacrifice on the Day of Atonement, but a one-time sacrifice to pay for all sin, all time — past, present, and future, for all people.

Hebrews 10:9: “Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.”

Hebrews 10:10: “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”

Notice those last three words, “once for all.” That is it. Once for all. This one-time sacrifice is sufficient for all sins for all people for all time. Does that mean everybody is going to Heaven? No, it does not. Why? Because God still gives us a choice in the matter. All human beings have always had a choice in the matter – whether to believe or not to believe, whether to go God’s way or their own way.

Cain and Abel is a great illustration of that. Abel decided to go God’s way and Cain thinks his way is better. And that is pretty much the way the human race is divided. You are going to go God’s way or say no, your way is better. Verses eleven to fourteen explain further that one offering is made perfect forever.

Hebrews 10:11: “And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins:”

A priest by definition is someone who goes to God on your behalf. They go to God for you, that is what a priest is. I am not a priest in that sense. Why am I standing here? Because I am a minister and the word “minister” means servant, and I am a pastor and “pastor” means shepherd, but I am not a priest.

One day I was in a store and a man asked me if I was a priest. I stopped for a moment and thought if I say to him “no,” he will say I call myself pastor, and if I say to him “yes,” — because we all have the priesthood of the believer, but what does that mean? It means you can go to God on your own behalf. You do not have to come to me to get to God, you can go directly to God, it tells us that before this chapter is over. But I just thought if I say “yes,” he would have the wrong idea and if I say “no,” he would still have the wrong idea. I stood there thinking. He shouted asking if that was a hard question to answer and I said, “Well, yes, kind of.”

Hebrews 10:11: “And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins:”

Notice what it says in the verse, “the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins:” They atone for sin, they cover sin, but they never take away sin.

Hebrews 10:12: “But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;”

Verse twelve signifies that His work is finished.

Hebrews 10:13: “From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool.”

Hebrews 10:14: “For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.”

The word “sanctified,” means cleansed and set apart for God’s service. That is what sanctified is. So, by one sacrifice, He perfected forever those people who are sanctified. How are you sanctified? We say it as being saved.

Hebrews 10:15: “Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before,”

Hebrews 10:16: “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them;”

Hebrews 10:17: “And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.”

Hebrews 10:18: “Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.”

It is Finished

That means you do not need to make any more offerings, that means you cannot make any more offerings. The one offering, made one time was the only offering that could be made, it is the one offering for sins, and everyone who put their trust in Him has their sins forgiven, has a home in Heaven, and is indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God. They have a home in Heaven, eternal life, and they will reign and live with Him forever. That is the gift of salvation.

I am working kind of quickly through this chapter because I want to take us back to those two last verses where we started. Verses nineteen through twenty teach us that as we have been forgiven and sanctified, we have direct access to the throne of God. That is what I was talking about earlier on the priesthood of the believer.

“Oh, I wish I could have access to God, I need Pastor McClure.” No, you do not. I would be happy to pray with you. I pray with folks all the time. It is kind of, “Where two or more are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst.” You understand that right? But you do not have to get to me to pray. You pray anytime, anywhere you need to, or you want to because the door is open.

When was that door open? Do you remember the story of how Jesus was crucified on the cross? Do you remember when He died many things happened? But one of those was in the temple. The veil that separated the holy place from the Holy of Holies. The holy place was that part of the temple where only the priests could go into. The Holy of Holies was that part of the temple that only the high priest could enter into, not whenever he wanted to, but only on the Day of Atonement with the blood of the sacrificed lamb. Nobody else could go in there.

Often, I explain this to children. There was never a time when the high priest woke up in the morning and looked at his wife and said that he had not been in the Holy of Holies for three or four months and think he should go in and check it out. Never happened. He could only go in there, enter into that, on the Day of Atonement with the blood of the sacrificed lamb.

But when Jesus died on the cross, when He said, “It is finished.” The veil that separated the Holy of Holies from the holy place and the rest of the temple, typically, from all humanity, ripped from top to bottom showing that the access to God is open and you may come to the Lord directly yourself.

With all that in mind, let’s look at verses nineteen to twenty-three:

Hebrews 10:19: “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,”

The high priest had to enter with the blood of the lamb.

Hebrews 10:20: “By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;”

Hebrews 10:21: “And having an high priest over the house of God;”

Hebrews 10:22: “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.”

Hebrews 10:23: “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)”

You are the child of God and you can enter into His presence.

Once Saved, Forever Saved

Verses twenty-four and twenty-five tell us other things about the children of God. Watch it carefully:

Hebrews 10:24: “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:”

Hebrews 10:25: “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.”

What day? The day of the Lord’s return. As we become children of God, we are the assembly, or a company called out of the world unto God, and he is calling us unto himself, and eventually, He is going to call us home.

But in the meantime, we are to be treating each other well, we are to be encouraging one another, we are to be strengthening each other. We are to be gathering together for corporate worship and worship God and we are to be gathering together to help each other as one body of Christ. I encourage you to read through the book of Ephesians and pay attention to the two words “the body.” That will teach you what the church is and what it is all about. That is what the book of Ephesians is written for.

So, we become the children of God, and as such, we are a family, and we are the family of God to be the family of God in Heaven.

Hebrews 10:26: “For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,”

Now, a lot of people read that verse and say, “Boy, that’s it. Once I have been saved, once I have trusted Christ my Savior, and I choose to sin again, that’s it, I’ll lose my salvation, it is gone and can never be saved again.” A lot of people read it that way but that is not what it is saying. Here is what it is saying, “For if we sin willfully” – you have been saved, you decide to do something wrong, you know it is wrong, you know it is against God’s will, and you know it is a violation against God’s Word. You are just going to do it anyway. Why? Because you want to, that is willful.

Hebrews 10:26: “For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,”

What does that mean? There is not another sacrifice to make. You do not come back and say, “Well Lord, I accepted your sacrifice, but I have sinned, so I have to have another one.” Nope, no more sacrifices. The sacrifice was made, one for all. When we are forgiven, there is no more sacrifice for sin. Once you are saved, you are saved forever.

Rejecting God

Hebrews 10:27: “But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.”

What is that saying? Looking ahead, there is coming a day of judgment and God’s fiery indignation shall devour the adversaries. Whose adversaries? God’s adversaries. “Oh shucks, I thought He was going to burn up all the people I do not like.” Well, maybe, but not necessarily. “What do you mean maybe but not necessarily?” He is not going to burn up the saved people, that is what I mean. “And do you think there are people who are saved who do not like other people who are saved?” I guarantee it. It is not supposed to be that way. It should not be that way but too often it is. Let me illustrate:

Hebrews 10:28: “He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:”

What does that mean? You are accused of violating the law, two or three witnesses said yes, they saw you do this, and that was it. No mercy for you, you were tried and convicted.

Hebrews 10:29: “Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden underfoot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?”

Can you imagine that? Somebody who knows the gospel, somebody who knows God loves them. Somebody who knows that Jesus sacrificed Himself on the cross to pay for their sin so that they can be forgiven, not just atoned for but forgiven, and they could have the gift of eternal life, and they say, “No, I do not want it.” And they trample underfoot the blood of Christ.

This is decades ago, and I heard people swear in all kinds of ways and I do not know if you have noticed this, but it has become permissible in our society. It is not permissible to preach the Gospel in many places these days or even to pray in the name of Jesus, but if you were using Jesus’ name as a swear word, that is fine. No problem.

But I heard a woman, I guess she was exasperated, I do not know the circumstances, but I remember what shocked me, and what shocked me was what she said. Something happened and the use of profanity, I had never heard anybody use this, that is why it stayed with me, she said, “Christ’s blood.” I thought, “Wow, that is your profanity?” Is that trampling underfoot the blood of Christ? I would think it is. But most people do not do it quite that obviously. Most people simply say, “It is not for me.” That is exactly why Jesus said:

John 3:18: “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

Hebrews 10:30: “For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.”

Now, that is something for you to know. God takes care of vengeance and friends, you and I do not have to. Have you ever had someone do something wrong to you and you just want to get them back? That is vengeance, that is revenge. God says, “Vengeance is mine sayeth the Lord.” It has not been the easiest lesson of my life, but I have learned to let God get the revenge. I do not have to. I do not need to. Let God get the revenge. First of all, it is His right, not mine. Secondly, He would do a better job of it than I will.

“Yeah, but what if this person has wronged me and they are just a dirty, filthy, hose-nose, trip-lipped, football-headed monkey.” That is about as mean as I get. “And they ought to pay for what they did and then God forgives them.” Yup, that is God’s grace. Do you know what that is? That is between Him and that person. I do not get to make the judgment call. “Well, what do you do if somebody does you wrong and gets saved?” I will tell you what to do. Praise God, that is what you do. Because that person who was saved was just like you who He saved.

God as Judge

Then we come to the next verse. Our Creator who gave us the law to teach us right and wrong, our Creator who has paid for our sins, our Creator has the right to judge us and require payment for our sins. Now either we are going to accept the fact that He has already paid for it, or we are going to trample underfoot the blood of Christ and we are going to pay the penalty ourselves. Here is what he says about that:

Hebrews 10:31: “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

You know Jesus said to the people one day:

Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

I tell you who you should fear, fear Him who can destroy both body and soul, and hell. A lot of people read that and think that it is the devil. It is not talking about the devil, folks. It is talking about God. Did you know the devil does not send you to Hell? He may persuade you to go there but he does not send you there. Why? He is not the judge. He is at best in a legal analogy, the prosecuting attorney, but he is not the judge.

Isaiah said it best, it is too high a title, but for the sake of this illustration, let’s stay there. But the judge is God himself. God is merciful, loving, and forgiving and He has paid for our sins and is ready and willing to forgive you, and all He asks you to do is trust Him. And He says He will do it. If you look at Him and shake your fist in His face and say, “Not me. I am going my way. You do not get to tell me what to do.” Then “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

I was not there, and I do not know all that happened, but I have read and heard about a man, you heard about this man too. He grew up and went to study in the ministry. To be honest with you, the particular group that he was a member of, I do not think required a person to be born again to be in the ministry. That may sound strange to some of you.

“Are you telling me, preacher, there are ministers, priests, and pastors that are not born again?” Yes, that is exactly what I am telling you. I do not think this group required a man to be born again to study in the ministry.

So, he studied in the ministry for a while, but he gave that up and went in a different direction and got into the political realm. He became quite famous, and he became the leader of something of an empire. But I read when he came to the end of his life, when he was ill and lying on his deathbed, he had at that point rejected God altogether. At one point studying in the ministry but he rejected God altogether. I do not mean he was saved, and he lost his salvation, I am telling you he was never saved. He had rejected God altogether and he taught others to reject God.

He persecuted those who did believe in God. But I am told that on his deathbed, his last act on earth was that he sat up in bed, looked up and shook his fist, laid back down, and died. He stepped out into eternity. Who was that? Joseph Stalin.

I am telling you that story because that is what some people do, how some people treat God. And God has given them the way. God has given them the truth and will give them the life if they but trust Him and they say, “No, not me. You do not get me.”

It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God,” who demands justice. So, justice demands the wages of sin which is death. Either I am going to die and pay for my sin or I have got to accept the fact that payment was made for me. Some may say that it is not that simple. Oh, but it is that simple.

Following Jesus

Hebrews 10:32: “But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions;”

He says to think back to when you saw the light, you were illuminated.

Hebrews 10:33: “Partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used.”

What does that mean? What he is saying is, this is the book of Hebrews, it is written to the Hebrew people. It is talking about Hebrew people who put their faith in Christ, trust in their Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. He says to them to remember when they became illuminated, when they came to see the light, when they placed their faith and trust in the Messiah, when they were born again, when they were saved, people gave them a hard time. People gave them a hard time partly because they had professed to follow Jesus and partly because they joined others who said the same thing. They were identified with that group. And whether they had personally offended anybody or not, you were part of that group and they persecuted you. That was happening in the days of the New Testament.

I wish I could stand here and tell you that it all ended in the early 300s, and no persecution of Christians has happened since then. I wish I could tell you that, but I cannot because it has never ended. We, in this country, are so blessed. We have been for over 245 years now; we have lived here in freedom of worship. Yes, we have people talk badly about us and we have people who limit our rights, and we have people giving us a hard time. But I am telling you what we endure is nothing like what folks endure in other places. Nothing. And we ought to thank God for it.

I stood before a governmental agency, many men and women stood in front of me, and I testified to them and the leaders of this agency. I am purposely not telling you the name of this agency. But the leader of this agency knew who I was and said to me that I petitioned for certain things, and he said, “You got what wanted you should be happy.” I said, “I am sir, I am very happy. But I want to tell you something, I came back to tell you this. Some friends and I recently returned from the country of Japan (and this was true twenty years ago and I hope it is still true, I do not know if it is or not). And in Japan, the people there (and this was true twenty years ago) have more religious freedom than we do here in the United States. And I came to thank you for letting us keep some of ours.”

That changed the atmosphere in the room. Why? Because we ought to be thankful for that freedom which we have. Is it everything we want? It is not everything we want. But it is so much better than what so many other people have. We ought to be thankful. When we sing, “Praise God from whom all blessings flow,” that ought to be one of the things on the list.

In verses thirty-four to thirty-six, the writer of this epistle had been persecuted and the people of God took care of this writer of this epistle, and he thanks them. Take a look at it:

Hebrews 10:34: “For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance.”

Hebrews 10:35: “Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward.”

Hebrews 10:36: “For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.”

What he is saying is that they took care of this persecuted preacher and God is going to take care of you. “Thank you for taking care of me.”

Hebrews 10:37: “For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.”

What is he saying? He is saying the Lord is coming. And when He comes, the timing will be right. You remember the story of the birth of Jesus? Paul wrote this:

Galatians 4:4: “But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,”

Do you know what he is saying? When God’s timing was right. Do you ever wonder why Jesus came at that particular point of history? Why did He not come long before that, why did he come now? Do you want Him to come now so you can see Him? You may. The point that Paul is making there in Galatians is this, God came when He said the time was right; when the fullness of the time had come. And folks, He is going to come again when the time is right.

It’s Your Decision

Hebrews 10:38: “Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.”

“The just shall live by faith.” – that is not the only time you find that phrase in your Bible. That phrase changed the European continent years ago. It ought to change the European continent today. I ought to change the North American continent today. “The just shall live by faith.” What does that mean? It means you have eternal life because you put your faith in God. But it says, “the just.” Who are the just? Those who have been justified. Justified means you have come into line with God’s law. You did not do that, you put your faith in the one who did that for you, and He made you justified.

I heard a preacher say this decades ago, but I like it and I am going to say it again. He said to be justified is to be considered, “Just as if I never sinned.” And that is exactly what it is.

Hebrews 10:38: “Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.”

Again, he is not talking about losing your salvation, he is talking about if you turn back. You say, “No, I do not want it.” Do you understand that God loves you? “Yes.” Do you understand that He paid for your sins on the cross? “Yes.” Do you understand that He will forgive you? “Yes.” Do you want to trust Him as Savior? “No.” I have heard people say this.

I was in a service years ago, I was not preaching, I was in the congregation as you are today. The preacher gave a powerful message, and he gave the Gospel so clearly that anyone could understand. I was sitting next to a man named Jim and I knew he was not a believer; he was not a Christian.

And I said Jim, do you understand what the preacher said tonight? The invitation was being given. He said he understood. I asked him if I could show him more about it in the Bible and he said go ahead. So, I took him into the scriptures, and I showed him the Gospel and how we have all sinned and come short of the glory of God and I showed him how the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life. I showed him how Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures. I showed him that he that believeth on him hath everlasting life.

I said to Jim, “Do you want to trust Jesus as your Savior right now?” And he said, “No.” I was shocked. I said, “Jim, did you understand what the preacher said tonight?” He said, “Yes, I got it.” I asked, “Do you understand what I just showed you in the Bible?” He said, “Yes, I get it.” I said, “you do not want to be saved?” He said, “No.”

Again, I was astounded. I said, “Jim, why not?” I never forgot his answer, it is a sad answer but an honest one. He said, “I do not want to give up my sin.” Whatever that sin was that he did not want to give up, to him, was worth saying no to God, say no to Jesus, say no to being forgiven, say no to eternal life, say no to all of it. That is what it is talking about here in verse thirty-eight.

Hebrews 10:38: “Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.”

Hebrews 10:39: “But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.”

“Perdition” means judgment. Do you believe that there is a Creator God who made everybody and everything and has given us a written law and says, “Obey my law.”? This is to tell you what is right and wrong. This is the standard that you measure right and wrong by. And He shows you how you have not been able to keep that standard.

But He says it is OK, “I will pay that price for you. I will make you in line with my law. I will forgive your transgression, I will forgive you going the wrong way, I will forgive you coming short of it all. I will grant you eternal life.” And then that person says, “I get it, but I do not want it. I am going my way; I do not need you.” Do you think that God is doing justice to judge that person? I cannot see it another way.

So, we must come to him to be justified. We must come to Him and not draw back. We must not be among them that do not come back. And we need to trust with all our heart and that is all He is asking us to do. There are those who chose to go to perdition.

Christ or Judgment?

I will close with this. Dr. Monroe Parker, one of the four greatest preachers I ever heard, stood in this pulpit a number of times. One time he stood here and talked about roadblocks on the way to Hell. He said that God had set up many roadblocks on the way to Hell to keep people from going there, but some people climb over those roadblocks and go on anyway.

He said God set up the roadblock of godly testimony and godly family members who tell and know what it is like to live for the Lord, and they climb over that roadblock and go on. He said God set up the roadblock of the church and many people climb over that and go on. He said God set up the roadblock of the Bible, God’s Word, and climb over that and go on their way to Hell. And then he said, last of all, God set up the roadblock of the cross and many people climb right over it and they themselves go to Hell, not because God made them go, but because they chose to go.

John 3:18: “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

There are those who choose to go to perdition, they choose to go to eternal judgment, they choose to be lost and separated from God forever. Those souls who believe shall be saved. “Well, I do not think it is right for God to send anybody to Hell.” God made Hell for the devil and his angels. “How do you get that?” Jesus says so. But those who go there, choose to go there. Dr. Parker said that they were intruders there, it was not meant for them, but they made their decision.

Our Creator and our God is a righteous judge. He is merciful, He is loving, and He is forgiving. And He will forgive all who come to Him by faith. He did not ask you for ritual, He is asking for faith. He is not asking for money; He is asking for faith. He is not asking for sacrifice if you read this chapter, He has already made the sacrifice. He is asking for faith, “and the just shall live by faith.”

So, my friend, the choice is yours and yours alone. Jesus Christ is waiting and willing to be our Savior. He is waiting and willing to forgive us our sin. He is waiting and willing to take us home. But every person has that choice to make. Will it be Christ or will it be judgment?


Watch the prerecorded live version of the entire service and sermon, Is It Christ or Judgment?, on Facebook.

Is It Christ or Judgment? — Related Sermons

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Dr. Michael L. McClure, our lead pastor, is known for his in-depth knowledge and effective teaching style of biblical truths applicable to every day living.

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