Sunday of Last Judgment

November 7, 2021

Hebrews 9:24-28

Our God Remembers Our Sin No More!

 

For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence.  Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own.  Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world.  But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.  Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.  (NIV1984)

 

 

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

 

While I was preparing our sermon for today, I came across an illustration that I would like to share with you.  I’m pretty sure it is apocryphal, but I think it applies quite well.  It goes like this:  A young woman went to her pastor and told him that she had had a vision of Jesus.  Her pastor was a tad-bit skeptical, so he suggested that the next time she had a vision she should ask Jesus what sin the pastor struggled with when he was young.  She agreed.  A few weeks later she went back to her pastor to let him know that she did indeed have another vision.  He asked her if she had followed his suggestion.  She said, “Yes.”  What did He say?” the pastor asked— somewhat hesitantly.  “Jesus said,” then the young woman paused for a second, “Jesus said, ‘I don’t remember!’”

 

Wouldn’t you love to have a God like that, my friends!  Wouldn’t you love to have a God who doesn’t even remember your sins!  You do!  As a Christian you worship the God who declares in His holy Word, “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more” (Isaiah 43:25).

 

Today as you and I gather together to celebrate the Sunday of Last Judgment our goal is to rejoice in the truth that we can and we do eagerly look forward to the Last Judgment— because we worship the God who “remembers (our) sins no more”!  To help us rejoice in this truth let’s use these words to study our text under the theme:  Our God Remembers Our Sins No More!  There are two questions we need to address this morning.  First, let’s see how this text addresses the question, “How can this be?”  Then let’s see how this text addresses the question, “What does this mean?”

 

How can it be possible that the God who knows all things is able to say to you and to me, “I remember your sins no more”?  The answer to that question is found in the opening portion of our text, “For Christ did not enter a manmade sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence.  Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own.  Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world.  But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.”

 

Once again, we need to remember that the letter to the Hebrews was written to Jewish Christians who were being pressured to renounce their faith in Jesus, to set their Christianity down along the side of the road, turn around and go back to following Judaism.  This not only meant going back to following the rules and regulations of the Law of Moses, but it also meant going back to following the worship life of the Temple of the Lord.

 

I’m not sure that we can grasp the pivotal role that the Temple of the Lord played in the hearts and the lives and the faith of God’s Old Testament people.  Three times a year all the men of Israel were required to make a pilgrimage to the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem.  (See Exodus 23:14ff)  The Temple of the Lord is where God’s people brought their offerings to their God.  The Temple of the Lord is where the priests offered up sacrifices and prayers to the God of heaven on behalf of God’s people.  And, on Yom Kippur, the Great Day of Atonement, the High Priest would enter into the Most Holy Place in the Temple of the Lord and sprinkle blood on the Mercy Seat to atone for the sins that God’s people committed against Him.  Year after year, century after century God’s people made their pilgrimages to the Temple, countless innocent animals were sacrifice, and the High Priest would enter into the Most Holy Place over and over again “with blood that is not his own.”  All of this was central to the history, to the identity and to the faith of God’s Chosen People!

 

Were these Jewish Christians willing to walk away from that rich comforting heritage?  Were these Jewish Christians willing to take the focus of their hearts, the focus of their lives and the focus of their faith off of the Temple of the Lord and put their focus on— a cross?  (Pointing to the cross)  The writer to the Hebrews answers that question with a resounding, Yes!  Why?  Because the cross on Calvary’s hill is where Jesus, the Great High Priest, fulfilled the words, “He appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.”  The phrase “to do away with sin” very literally means, “for the nullification of sin,” or “for the removal of sin.”

 

Since our sin has been “done away with,” since our sin has been “nullified,” since our sin has been “removed” it’s easy for us to understand that when Jesus victoriously “entered heaven itself…to appear for us in God’s presence,” God the Father in His infinite grace, mercy and wisdom says, “I, even I, am he who blots out (their) transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers (their) sins no more.”  Only the cross on Calvary’s hill enables us to hear those glorious words and instantly know the answer to the question, “How can that be?”

 

What about the question, “What does this mean?”  Our text gives us two answers to that question.  The first answer to that question applies to the here-and-now.  What does it mean for your day-to-day life that your God remembers your sins no more?  The “once for all” sacrifice that your Great High Priest made for your sins on the cross of Calvary’s hill (Pointing to the cross) gives you every right to say to Satan, “Get behind me!  You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of hell!”  No matter how many times Satan may have pierced you with one of his “flaming arrows” (Ephesians 6:16), you have the confidence of knowing that your Brother Jesus has victoriously “entered heaven itself” to “appear for you in God’s presence” and say, “Father, that sin has already been “done away with” by My sacrifice.”  The Father will then reply, “What sin?”

 

The ”once for all” sacrifice that your Great High Priest made for your sins on the cross of Calvary’s hill (Pointing to the cross) gives you every right to turn a deaf ear to your conscience, to turn a deaf ear to anyone who tries to shame you because of something you have said or done.  No matter how true it might be, you have the confidence of knowing that your Brother Jesus has victoriously “entered heaven itself” to “appear for you in God’s presence” and say, “Father, that sin has already been “nullified” by My sacrifice.”  Again, the Father will say, “What sin?”

 

Does the fact that Jesus’ “once for all” sacrifice on the cross has completely “removed” all of your sins mean that you can go out and sin however you want and as often as you want?  Of course not!  That is not how someone whom Jesus loves this much (Pointing to the cross) shows their love and their thankfulness to Jesus.  (See Romans 6:1-4)

 

The second answer to the question, “What does this mean?” ties in more directly with the fact that today is the Sunday of Last Judgment.  Look at the closing two verses of our text.  The writer to the Hebrews says, “Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.”

 

These verses look at the Last Judgment from two different perspectives.  The first perspective is very personal, “Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.”  The instant a person dies, their soul is summoned before the judgment throne of God where they will find out where they will spend eternity— either with Jesus in the glory and perfection of heaven or with Satan in the eternal fires of hell.  Since this is the central focus of next week’s sermon text, we’re not going to go into any depth right now.  Suffice it to say that as the dearly beloved adopted children of the heavenly Father, when you are summoned to stand before the judgment throne of God you have nothing to fear!  Why?  Because the cross assures you that your God does not remember your sins!

 

The second perspective is found in the words, “He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.”  These words transport us to Judgment Day when Jesus will return to this earth in all of His power, majesty and glory as the Judge of the living and the dead.  If we are still alive when that day arrives, we will have nothing to fear!  We will instantly recognize what is happening.  We will instantly rejoice in knowing that our Savior, our Jesus, is “bringing salvation to those who are waiting for him”!

 

Now as I said, we are going to talk about this in more detail next week, but I do want to remind you of how important your personal relationship with Jesus is now — before your day of Last Judgment arrives.  The only way for us to have the confidence of knowing that the Almighty Creator of heaven and earth will say concerning us, “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more,” is to cling for dear life to our Great High Priest and trust in the “once for all” sacrifice He made for us on the cross.  Clinging to anyone else and trusting in anything else will only prove to be disastrous— eternally disastrous!

 

The story is told about a person who went to their pastor and told him that they had had a vision of Jesus.  Their pastor was a tad-bit skeptical so he suggested that the next time they had a vision they should ask Jesus what sin their pastor struggled with when he was young.  A few weeks later they went back to their pastor to let him know that they did indeed have another vision.  The pastor asked them if they had followed his suggestion and the person said, “Yes.”  When the pastor asked, “What did Jesus say?” the person responded, “Jesus said, ‘I don’t remember!’”  While the story may be apocryphal don’t forget how well it applies to you and to me and to all those who trust in Jesus.  We have nothing to fear when the day of Last Judgment arrives.  Why?  Because the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross guarantees to us that our God remembers our sins no more!

 

To God be the glory!

 

Amen