Worship, In Light of What Jesus Has Done

Altar

A sermon idea based on Hebrews 12:18-29.

Hebrews 12:18-29 NRSV

[18] You have not come to something that can be touched, a blazing fire, and darkness, and gloom, and a tempest, [19] and the sound of a trumpet, and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that not another word be spoken to them. [20] (For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even an animal touches the mountain, it shall be stoned to death.” [21] Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.”) [22] But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, [23] and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, [24] and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

[25] See that you do not refuse the one who is speaking; for if they did not escape when they refused the one who warned them on earth, how much less will we escape if we reject the one who warns from heaven! [26] At that time his voice shook the earth; but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heaven.” [27] This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of what is shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain. [28] Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us give thanks, by which we offer to God an acceptable worship with reverence and awe; [29] for indeed our God is a consuming fire.

Angle

The relevant topic I would be addressing, based on this text…

Our worship of God is a response to the goodness of God, revealed in Christ and his sacrificial act of love.

Anchor

Information about the text that matters to the message…

Therefore… that’s the first word of the last two verses of this passage. So for everything in verses 18 through 27, we need to know what kind of story the author of Hebrews is telling. I see that story broken down as these major truths:

1. We Have NOT Come to an Untouchable God.

In the long history of man, there has always been a sense of curiosity about God, and the first known civilizations pursued the possibility of a god who wasn’t personal. This primitive God was angry, disconnected, and self-centered. Even the Israelites, who recorded their reactions to God in the Hebrew Bible, struggled between a God who is personal and a god who is far off and removed from the struggles of humanity.

The writer of the letter to the Hebrews is, of course, post-cross. The author knows all about the sacrificial death of Jesus and what it means for the eternal renewal of all things. But the writer’s topic, worship, focuses on the contrast between the way primitive people worshipped God and the way people can worship him in light of the finished work of Christ.

And, if you can see it, the writer may potentially be describing worship in three time periods of human history.

  • In the past, we worshipped God out of fear.
  • In the present, we worship the God who has sacrificed himself for our sins.
  • In the future, we will gather before an unshakable kingdom.

2. You Have Come to the God Who Loves You.

You have come to the eternal community of redeemed people that God is building. You’ve come into the heavenly realm, the spiritual world to which our eyes were enlightened by faith. You have come to Jesus, the Mediator. You have come to the blood of the one who gave his life in a way never seen before.

If the writer of Hebrews is giving us a vision of how our worship might look in this present age, what we see is worship as a response to the God made known by the revelation, teachings, and sacrificial death of Jesus.

But then the writer connects us to something timeless and unchanging – that regardless of what age in which we might be engaging in worship, we are worshiping the immutable God who is always a consuming fire, ridding the earth of injustice and evil and leaving behind that which is pure.

Application

The big call-to-action in the message…

In light of what you now know about God, as revealed through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, how can you respond today with a proper sense of awe and reverence?

 


About the Cover Art: Photo via Jean Vivin via Unsplash.

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