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Most of the articles on these WebPages have been written by godly men with a central belief in the Lord Jesus Christ. However as with most of us, they may have different beliefs concerning some particular doctrines. These articles have been made available for the purpose of “gleaning the good” where good can be found. I do not necessarily endorse all that is written by others, anymore than I expect others to endorse all that I write.

   Morning Thoughts by Elder Philip Conley

Hebrews 9:26, "For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself."

This morning, many times the question comes up, "What do you do, and why do you do it?" Most often, this question gets asked about the order and practice of our worship service. To the casual observer, a cappella singing is unusually strange, and the simple practices seem uneventful. In today's world of bombarding entertainment, we see whole generations and cultures of people that need the stimulation like a drug for their brain. Therefore, such simple practices and strict order do not make much sense at all. Yet, the question about why we do something a certain way is a valid one. The answer, "I don't know" or "I'll have to ask my pastor" are not valid responses. Since we should be acquainted with what has gone before (Romans 15:4) and what we have today (II Timothy 3:16-17), not knowing why we do something shows poor exercise of sense and motivation. There are "customs" that we have that may be particular to a local body or geographic area -
I believe the singing is a little different in different corners of this country that I have traveled in among our people - but the general pattern of what we do and believe remains constant. So it should be.

Sometimes in the midst of the question of why we do what we do, we get asked, "Why don't you do..." Many times, these "why don't" questions involve doing what was done in the Old Testament. The question becomes, "Why don't we have blood sacrifices, priests, tabernacles, alters, etc like they did?" Again, a valid question that deserves a valid response, and I believe is found in the verse above. Paul has been labouring to build a structure to the Hebrew brethren of superiority in Christ to what the Old Testament entailed. He will climax this thought in the next chapter (Hebrews 10:14) by showing Christ's complete superiority in His sacrifice, offered at the hand of a superior Priest, on a superior Alter, for a superior purpose. All the old covenant could do was make a remembrance of sins every year. It could not make the comers perfect. (Hebrews 10:1-3) They had to be offered all the time. Yet, Paul, in our verse, shows that Christ did not have to offer all the time, nor yet did He have to be offered from the foundation of the world. While the Son of God's offering is complete for the continuum of all of His people, it was not to be a continual offering. It was made, accepted, sealed, and completed.

But, let us examine a phrase in our verse that hits upon our thought today "once in the end of the world." This little phrase shows that while Christ's sacrifice did indeed serve a primary purpose in putting away the sins of His people (Matthew 1:21), it also served a secondary purpose of dividing a dispensation of time. When that offering was made, it was the end of a world. Every time the word "world" is used in Scripture, it does not always mean the same thing. Sometimes it has reference to the natural creation (Hebrews 11:3), wicked men (John 17:9), God's elect family (John 3:16), or an age of time (our verse). The Greek word for world here is "aion," which literally means period of time, age, or perpetuity of time. When Christ's offering was made, that was the end of an age. Some things happened before that time (that were perfectly acceptable) that would never be done again (in an acceptable way).

Since this marks a division of time, we today are not bound and governed by some of the same things as in previous days. This does not mean that God's law has changed, been broken, or altered. Rather, it means that some of the portions of His law have been fulfilled and completed (no need to do them again). (Matthew 5:17-18) Since Christ has finished different things, it would be an affront to God to continue doing them. Offering a blood sacrifice, when His perfect offering has been made, is an affront to His Son's work. (Galatians 2:21) Seeking another man to be our priest is an affront to our High Priest that is forever set at the right hand of the majesty for us. (Hebrews 8:1) But, some things in God's law are not an affront to continue doing.

Christ's walk showed us (by word and deed) what is still pleasing in God's sight that we keep. The early days of the apostles and church in the book of Acts further record these things. God's moral law has not altered in the slightest. He is still just as displeased with murder, adultery, false witness, covetousness, idolatry, and all the other things recorded in Galatians 5 as He has ever been. Those things should be avoided, while exercising love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, and all the other fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) is still just as pleasing to Him as it has ever been. Yet, consider how different our age is now.

Paul declares that this side of Christ's offering is a different world, as that world ended. We now have the glorious liberty of serving Him in light of what He has done not under the burden and shadow of what is coming. Before that world ended, there were daily sacrifices, washings, ordinances, etc that must be kept. God's people, as represented by the Jewish nation, had the struggle daily to keep it up. We have daily struggles, but our walk is much less encumbered than theirs was. We do not have physical washings, journeys, feasts, etc. that are charted out in detail. Rather, we have principles to follow that allow liberty in their execution. When considering, "Let all things be done decently and in order." (I Corinthians 14:40), there is much liberty within that concept. As long as the hearers are singing and making melody in their heart to the Lord, we have been decent and orderly in our singing. If our praying is done without ceasing in accordance with the examples of prayer and their guidelines in Scripture, we have been decent and orderly in our praying. If our preaching is done after study, meditation, and prayer for direction following the leadership of the Spirit with the word as our source material, we have been decent and orderly in our preaching.

Their service required that things be "just so." We get accused by other orders of having such a mindset, but the Old Testament Jews in that world really did have a "just so" service. The guidelines were specific on how things should be done. Today, we have many different styles of singing, many different types of prayers, and certainly a wide variety of preachers, with their assorted gifts and deliveries. Yet, all of these items are not required to be identical if they meet decent and orderly specifications in keeping with the Scriptures. What an age of liberty we have in God's house that that world did not.

Where does the liberty come from? Liberty comes in the knowing of what has been done for our soul. God Himself came and put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. God did prepare Himself an offering (Genesis 22:8), and the understanding of that blessed truth that has already come to pass grants liberty in service that they did not have in the old world. Consider also that the old world required that a man live like a Jew (even if he was not one) to experience the blessings. Strict diet and lifestyle were to be maintained. Gentiles in that age were regenerated from among every nation just as in this age, but to enjoy the benefits of knowing anything about their God, they had to live in keeping with the oracles of God - which they did not have. (Romans 3:1) We today have the liberty of the oracles of God being among many people with an easy yoke of service and light burden to carry. (Matthew 11:28-30)

That age was a glorious age. (II Corinthians 3:11) However, how much more glorious is this age with its liberty and enlightened, broader service. Let us not use this liberty as a cloke of bondage. How easy was it for rulers in that age to make the burden even more grievous! (Matthew 23) How easy is it for people today to make the liberty a bondage! As our Lord was about give up the ghost on the cross, He exclaimed, "It is finished." (John 19:30) This signifying, we understand that our sins and iniquities have been finished, paid for, and pardoned by the blood of the Lamb. Also, we understand that something else transpired to show something else that is finished as well. The veil of the temple rent in twain from the top to the bottom. (Matthew 27:51) No one, save the high priest, was allowed to see beyond that veil, and he only once a year. Now, we can observe beyond that veil, for He has finished the work in righteousness. That veil is gone with the glorious liberty of being able to observe, by faith, our holiest of holies in the Person of our Lord and Master.

Paul goes on in Hebrews 10:19-22 to describe this in further detail ascribing the liberty we have today in bold tones. We can approach unto God by this new and living way. Why? He has consecrated it through another veil: His flesh. We cannot understand much about God as men, for He is a Spirit. (John 4:24) How far can we go or how long can we talk about a Spirit? My conversation will be quite short, how about yours? However, talking about God manifest - though veiled - in flesh, while a great mystery, is something we can talk about and understand something about. We can approach by this way, for we are talking to the GodMan. He can lay His hand upon God and us, for He is both. We have the liberty of understanding that a glorified man - while also God - is seated at the right hand of God the Father. Oh glorious world (age) that we are in. What liberty to be had! While the liberty we have from sin is ours forever, let us never be negligent to engage in this liberty of understanding, ever seeking to perceive hungry and thirsty souls to tell them, "Come and see."

In Hope,

Bro Philip