The Mediator of the New Covenant
January 10th, 1960 @ 7:30 PM
THE MEDIATOR OF THE NEW TESTAMENT
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1-10-60 7:30 p.m.
Would you turn to the Book of Hebrews, chapter 10? We are going to read the concluding and final consummation of the great argument of this epistle. The tenth chapter of the Book of Hebrews, the first sixteen verses, the first eighteen verses. This concludes the tremendous argument of the letter. Hebrews 10:1-18, “For the law having a shadow of good things to come,” now you read! You are like little children—now stand up, now sit down, now open your mouth, now eat—you read, loud! Every time it says in the Bible, “Give attention to reading,” that means public reading; they never had any Bibles when this Bible was written, that was a precious manuscript prized by a synagogue here or a rabbinical school there, or in later days, chained to the pulpit of a church. The reading that is commanded in the Bible is a public reading of the Word of God. And of course, since the printing press, we are able to read it for ourselves at home. But in the Book, this commandment to give attention to reading, and, “Blessed are they that read, and that hear the words of this prophecy,” all of that was the public reading of the Word of God in the congregation of the righteous [Revelation 1:3]. That is why we do it. Now you read. I heard you this morning; first time I have heard you really read in a long time. I want to hear you tonight; make those chandeliers just swing from side to side as you read the Word. The first eighteen verses of the tenth chapter of Hebrews:
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.
For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshipers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins.
But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year.
For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins.
Wherefore when He cometh into the world, He saith, Sacrifice and offering Thou wouldest not, but a body hast Thou prepared Me:
In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin Thou hast had no pleasure.
Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of Me) to do Thy will, O God.
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;
Then said He, Lo, I come to do Thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that He may establish the second.
By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins:
But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;
From henceforth expecting till His enemies be made His footstool.
For by one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.
Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that He had said before,
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:
And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.
Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.
And that concludes the great argument of the epistle. Beginning at the next verse we have the great appeal [Hebrews 10:19]. And next Sunday night I’m going to preach on The Great Appeal. Next Sunday morning, I’m going to preach on the conclusion of this ninth chapter, “Unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation” [Hebrews 9:28]. At the 10:50 hour next Sunday morning, I shall preach on The Second Coming of our Lord. Then next Sunday evening, upon The Great Appeal. Then through the eleventh chapter, which is the cloud of witnesses, and so to the end of the book. The sermon tonight is entitled The Mediator of the New Testament, of the New Covenant. And the sermon is somewhat of a summary of the great argument of this epistle to the Hebrews. And the heart of that argument, the root, is this text, Hebrews 9:15, “For this cause,” all of the things that he has said before, “For this cause He is the Mediator of the new covenant.”
We have a new relationship with God, a new approach to God; there is a new worship, and a new service; there’s a new sanctuary, there’s a new order of devotion. There is a new relationship between a man and God; and that new covenant is found in Jesus Christ. The old dispensation is passed away. The laws and rituals and ceremonies, the outward tabernacle, the earthly sanctuary, are all passed away. In Christ we have a new and a living approach to the living God. And the argument of this epistle has moved constantly toward this great and final consummation that we have read tonight, and concerning which your pastor now speaks.
In the first chapter of the Book of Hebrews, the author has spoken of the dignity and the majesty of the Son of God, and the exaltation of human nature that has come through His incarnation. Then he speaks of the glorious worth of our Savior who is far above angels. Then in the third chapter, he speaks of our Lord who is far above Moses. Then in the fourth and the fifth chapters, he speaks of our Lord who in His priesthood is far above that of the Aaronic institution, the priesthood of the Levitical sacrifices and of the tabernacle. And he reaches out, in all of these arguments, toward that great affirmation that our Lord is the Mediator of a new covenant, a new relationship between a man and God [Hebrews 9:15, 12:24].
It is an identical thing as happened in the days of the Reformation, when men began to turn from the rites, and the rituals, and the ceremonies, and the authority of the prelate at Rome, and saw in the Scriptures themselves the spiritual approach to God. But even back there in the days of the Reformation, there were those who found it impossible to turn aside from the liturgies and the decrees and the ceremonies of the Roman church. They could not walk by faith. They felt that they needed an external sanctuary and visible supports for their worship and their devotion.
That same battle goes on in the hearts of people today. I had walk down that aisle and to take my hand a devout Catholic woman; and when she came, she took out of her purse a beautiful, beautiful rosary, the beads by which they pray. So many “Hail Marys,” so many “Our Fathers which art in heaven”; and to go through those beads is to gain merit against the day of the judgment of God. She came down that aisle, she gave me her hand; I baptized her into the fellowship of this church. But in the long days of her spiritual supports in outward sacrifices, and in the helps and additions, things that are not spiritual at all, things that are carnal and appeal to the flesh, beautiful icons, beautiful idols, before which they bow down and worship—“Ah, but,” you say, “they don’t worship idols; they worship what the idol stands for.” What do you think the pagan Greek worshiped? These men who were brilliant above any other race of men who ever lived, these men who wrote literature beyond any literature the world has ever read, these men who wrote songs and poetry, who made statues and sculptured pieces, who made architectural buildings and temples beyond what any race has ever done in the history of the world, what do you think they worshiped? Do you think they bowed down and said, “This idol is a god.”? Why, certainly not. They bowed down and worshiped at the shrine of the idol that represented the god. The gods lived on Olympus, or the god Neptune lived in the depths of the sea, and this was an image of the god, this was a likeness of the god. Yet when the Greek bowed down and worshiped, we said, “He is an idolater.” Why? Because he bows before the likeness of his god. It is no different today than it was then: the commandment is, “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, any likeness of God in heaven or in earth or in earth’s beneath” [Exodus 20:4-6]. And when you bow down and worship before an image, you are an idolater! I don’t care whether you call the image Neptune, or Venus, or Aphrodite, or Adonis, or St. Joseph, or St. Mary: it is an idol worship, and God has commanded against it!
In the days of the youth of our people, in the days of the childhood of our people, God taught His people by picture, and by symbol; never by image and by idol. By picture and by symbol, because we were unlettered, we were untaught; we did not know the language of heaven. And language itself is nothing but a symbol of a spiritual reality. Every word you use stands for something. And God in order to teach us the great spiritual facts of heaven, and the imagery of glory, God had to teach us a language by which we could understand the great spiritual truths of God. So the Lord in the tabernacle, and in the altar, and in the sacrifice, and in the consecration of the high priesthood, God taught His people a nomenclature, a vocabulary, a language that we might come to understand the things that God thinks, what God is like, the great facts of heaven. Then, at the end of that period of diagrams and symbols and types and childhood teachings, the great reality for which those symbols and types stood for, in the fullness of time, when we had learned the language, the great thing toward which they pointed was given to men. And in the coming of that final Savior and Mediator, all the old symbols and types passed away [Romans 7:4, 6]. No more earthly sanctuary; it’s as fine a place to worship God in your kitchen as in this church. It’s as good a place to kneel down and pray to God in your bedroom, as in the greatest cathedral or temple erected in the name of Jesus. We are now boldly to come to the throne of grace [Hebrews 4:16], free, without lent, and without hindrance: for under the new covenant, under the new testament, the new relationship, the new promise, the new way, the living way, all men are priests! [Revelation 1:6]. Every man can come to God for himself and can speak to God in the blood and mercy and grace of Jesus, face to face, for himself [Hebrews 4:16].
So the great argument moves; all of these things have passed away, and in the changing of the priesthood, the old Aaronic priesthood [Hebrews 7:12], now the new priesthood under the order of Melchizidek [Hebrews 5:10], under the new priesthood we have new approach, a new ritual, a new rite, a new worship of God [Hebrews 7:18-28]. Then in the eighth chapter, he speaks of this great prophecy of Jeremiah, that God would one day make a new covenant and a new relationship [Hebrews 8:1-13]. Then the ninth and the tenth chapters bring that final argument and that final consummation [Hebrews 9:1-10:39].
Now may I summarize his final argument? In the ninth chapter, he begins enumerating those types and shadows whereby God taught His people the language of heaven [Hebrews 9:1-5]. Then he turns to the great Day of Atonement, which symbolized in one great sacrifice the whole Levitical system [Hebrews 9:6-10]. As the vast sun disc is reflected in a dew drop, so in the Day of Atonement, the whole facts of the nature of God is presented. There is revealed on Mount Sinai the wrath of God against moral transgression and sin and iniquity, as it is revealed nowhere else in the history of mankind [Romans 3:20, 7:7-9]. But is there not also revealed a God of mercy and forgiveness? There is. For, for the first time in the Levitical sacrificial system, you will find a sin offering [Leviticus 4:1-5:18, 6:24-30]. And on that day, the children of Israel were to afflict their souls, and it was to be a statute forever [Leviticus 16:31]. Every other feast, every other great religious activity of the Jews was a happy thing, and a beautiful thing; even the Sabbath days were days of rest and not melancholy. Like Purim, the deliverance of the Jews from the awful, awful commandment of the king [Esther 9:28-32]. Every day, every feast was to be a glorious, happy day in the life of the people of God, except one day, and that was the Day of Atonement [Leviticus 16:1-34; Numbers 29:7-11]. And on that day God’s people were to afflict their souls, and to confess their sins, and a sin offering was slain, and its blood poured out and spilled on the sanctuary and on the mercy seat that the people might have in the blood a remission for transgressions [Leviticus 16:30].
Then the author says, “But it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats could ever wash away sins” [Hebrews 10:4]. In these sacrifices there is a remembrance made of sins every year [Hebrews 10:3]. It had to be repeated because it was inefficacious, and ineffective. “For it is not possible,” he says, “that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins” [Hebrews 10:4]. Then the author comes to the great climactic and affirmation of the argument in the book, and that is that in the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, we have a purged conscience, the stain washed out of our souls; we have forgiveness of sins, and we now rise from dead works to serve the living God [Hebrews 9:14]. What the author refers to here is that in the sacrifice of Christ, “Lo, I come, a body hast Thou prepared for Me—to do Thy will, O God” [Hebrews 10:5, 7], in the sacrifice of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself to God [Hebrews 9:14], in the sacrifice of Christ we have the great divine act of the atonement for our sins [1 John 2:2]. What Christ did was the great elective choice and purpose of God [Ephesians 3:10-12].
When our Lord was incarnate [John 1:14; Philippians 2:7], even in His shame and in His suffering [Hebrews 12:2; 1 Peter 2:21], He was still the everlasting Son [Matthew 3:17, 17:5]. And when they nailed Him to the tree [1 Peter 2:24], He was still the Lord of glory [1 Corinthians 2:8]. And when He suffered and died [1 Peter 3:18], He still was the eternal Prince of heaven [Revelation 5:12-13]. It was by the eternal Spirit, it was by the elective purpose and choice of God that the Savior was nailed to the cross. And in that cross we have forgiveness of sins, the redemption of our souls, according to the riches, the plentitude of His grace [Ephesians 1:7]. However sin may have mounted and mounted and mountains of the sins of humanity, however sin may have overflowed and abounded, the love and grace of God in Christ Jesus did much more abound and overflow [Romans 5:20]! As ocean-like as the sins of humanity is, it is nothing like the plentitude of the eternal mercy and grace and ableness of God in Christ Jesus our Lord [Romans 5:20], who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself unto God, that we might be raised from dead works to serve the living God [Hebrews 9:14].
Then he says two things here in conclusion. He says, “For this cause He is the Mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, we might claim the eternal inheritance [Hebrews 9:15]. For,” he says, “where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth” [Hebrews 9:16-17]. What the author is saying to those Jewish people is this: you are ashamed of the death of Christ; it is a disgrace to the church, and you hide your face in grief and in suffering at the mere mention of the cross of Jesus. “No,” says this author, “no, no!” He says the glory of the church is in the death of Christ, and that the foundation and fundamental and heart and core of the Christian inheritance lies in the bequest to us, which bequest was made regnant and valid when Jesus died! [Hebrews 9:16]. Instead of being ashamed of the death of Christ, instead of looking upon it as a disgrace, we ought rather, he says, to look upon it as the means by which we gain the inheritance of eternal life from God [Hebrews 9:15]. For without the death of the testator, there is no power or validity in a will [Hebrews 9:16-17]. But when God willed for us to be saved, that will was authenticated by and validated by the blood of the Son of God. He is the Mediator of a new testament [Hebrews 9:15]; in His death that covenant is sealed forever.
And our inheritance is a gift [Ephesians 1:11, 1 Peter 1:4]. I don’t win it by obedience, by being good, or a thousand other penances; but I receive it as a gift from God as you would receive a bequest in a will. As long as the testator liveth, the will is of no validity. But when the testator dies, the will is forever sealed [Hebrews 9:16-18]. So it is in the death of Christ: in God’s eternal purpose and will we have the inheritance as a gift from God in the death of our Lord.
Then he makes one final avowal: “When Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he sprinkled the blood, he sprinkled the blood upon the people, upon the book; and he sprinkled the blood upon the tabernacle and the vessels of the sanctuary” [Hebrews 9:19-21]. What he’s saying is that what the blood was, before God in the old covenant, so the blood of Jesus is to the new covenant and to the New Testament. And he means by that this: that when Israel was gathered together, and the mighty and righteous God came down upon Mount Sinai, and it thundered, and it lightninged, and the mount trembled with fire and fury, and the people withdrew far off [Exodus 20:18], and said to Moses, “You speak to God; but let not God speak to us, lest we die” [Exodus 20:19]; the awful righteousness, and majesty, and holiness, and judgment of God against sin, our sins, is like the flashing of a two-edged sword, cutting asunder heart, soul, and body [Hebrews 4:12]. And in those days, God said to Moses, “Moses, build an altar at the foot of the mount, make it of earth, make it plain [Exodus 24:4]. And on that altar bring a sacrifice; pour out the blood, and sprinkle the blood on the people, and on the Book, on the Book”—this Book—“sprinkle the blood on the people, and on the Book; and when the tabernacle is erected, sprinkle the blood on the tabernacle, and on all the vessels of the sanctuary” [from Exodus 24:6-8]. And as the people stood there before the holy and righteous God, they stood under the blood; all had been sprinkled with the blood. And when they worshiped, sinful as they were, in the sanctuary of God, they approached God under the blood. “When I see the blood, I will pass over you” [Exodus 12:13]. And the people were to understand that they had a new order, and a new service, and a new approach to God: under the blood. For He says, “All things are purged with blood; and without the shedding of blood there is no remission” [Hebrews 9:22].
Then he applies it: “It is necessary that these things be done because they are patterns of things in heaven: but the heavenly things are sanctified with better and more holy realities” [Hebrews 9:23]. And they and the blood of this new covenant is not the blood of bulls and of goats, but the blood of the new covenant is the blood of the Son of God Himself, sprinkled upon the people, sprinkled upon the Book [Hebrews 9:19]. And in heaven the blood of Christ has been poured out as an offering, that our sins, and all of the writings against us, every dark page in your life, every sentence of iniquity and transgression, all of it under the blood [Hebrews 9:12]. “And when I see the blood, I will pass over you” [Exodus 12:13]. “For Jesus’ sake, forgive you [Ephesians 4:32]; for My Son’s sake, love you and receive you” [Ephesians 1:6]. Stand in the presence of God judicially justified [Romans 4:25], without spot, without blemish [Ephesians 5:27]; not that I am perfect, but that in the love and forgiveness of Jesus, God receives me as one without sin, without stain, without spot, and without blemish [Colossians 2:10].
And this sacrifice, he concludes, needs never to be repeated. When we’re saved, when we’re washed, it’s forever and forever and forever. “He that is washed,” said Jesus, to Peter, “he that is washed needeth not save but to wash his feet” [John 13:10]. Never need to be saved again; our Lord needs never to die again [Hebrews 9:12]. But when we’re washed, when we’re saved, just that in the pilgrimage of this life our feet get dirty. Living in a world of sin and living in a body of iniquity, our feet get dirty; and it is only needful that we wash our feet, that we come to Jesus at the close of each day, and say, “Lord, this day, this day forgive Thy servant of the weakness of the walk of this day”; needeth not to be washed, to be saved again, but just that his feet be cleansed, that we be forgiven the sins of our daily pilgrimage. What an incomparable message the author of the Hebrews witnesses to the little church of Jewish converts in Jerusalem—an open door, an open way, one great and final sacrifice, and our Savior in glory who is able and mighty to keep those for whom He has died, for whom He has spilled out His life on the cross [John 10:28]. And to those that wait for Him, to those that look for Him, shall He come the second time, no relation then to sin, no longer the blood of the covenant, no longer the Lord’s Supper, no longer baptism, no longer confession, no longer the trials of this weary pilgrimage, no longer the weakness of the flesh, no longer the stumbling and the hesitation of the heart and the spirit. Then when He comes, apart from sin [Hebrews 9:28], no sobs and no tears, no death and no crying, no pain and no separation; when He comes the second time, apart from sin, it will be unto the glorious consummation of the salvation of the people of God [Hebrews 9:28]. “Wherefore,” he says, then he enters into his great exhortation, the great appeal, “wherefore, my brethren, let us draw near unto God” [Hebrews 10:22].
And that’s the appeal tonight: “Wherefore, my brethren, let us draw near unto God” [Hebrews 10:22]. In this new and living way which He has opened to us through the veil, that is, His flesh [Hebrews 10:19-20]; in the cross, in the dying, in the tearing apart of the body of the Son of God, we have an entrance, through the veil [Matthew 27:50-51], into the glorious sanctuary of the heaven of heavens, “Wherefore my brethren, draw nigh, draw nigh” [Hebrews 10:22; James 4:8]. Somebody here tonight, for the first time in his life to give his heart in faith and in trust to Jesus, would you come? [Ephesians 2:8]. Somebody here tonight, a family, to put his life in the fellowship of the church, would you come? In this balcony round, on this lower floor, as God shall say the word and make the appeal, would you come?
There’s the mother of a boy here tonight for whom I have especially prayed. Dear mother, would you come? The little boy knelt down by my side and prayed for you, that tonight you’d come. And he said, “Pastor, I’ll be standing by the side of my mother in that appeal; and I will ask her to come.” Mother, tonight, would you come?
As the Spirit of Jesus will say the word, will lead the way, will open the door, will you come? Will you come? “I’ll make it now; I’ll make it tonight. On the first note of this first stanza, here I am.” Into the aisle and down here to the front, “Preacher, I give you my hand; I give my heart to God.” As the Lord shall lead, would you make it now? While we stand and while we sing.
THE MEDIATOR OF THE NEW COVENANT
Dr. W. A. Criswell
A. Christ is the mediator of a new covenant (Hebrews 9:15)
1. System of Moses with rites, rituals, are all passed away
2. Argument of the epistle has moved toward this consummation
a. A like thing happened in the Reformation
b. Same battle goes on in hearts of people today
B. God used picture and symbol – not image and idol – to teach us the language of heaven(Exodus 20:4-5)II. Summary of his final argument
A. The Day of Atonement(Hebrews 9:7, Leviticus 16)
1. Every other feast day was happy day, except this one(Esther 9:20-32)
2. God’s people were to afflict their souls, confess their sins
B. In these sacrifices there is a remembrance made of sins every year
1. Had to be repeated because it was ineffective (Hebrews 10:3-4)
C. Climactic affirmation – in the blood of Christ we have forgiveness of sins(Hebrews 9:14, 10:5-7)
1. However sin may have abounded, grace of God did much more(Romans 5:20)
D. God willed for us to be saved; that will authenticated and validated by the blood of the Son of God(Hebrews 9:16-17)
1. Our inheritance is a gift
E. What the blood was before God in the old covenant, so the blood of Jesus is to the new covenant(Hebrews 9:19)
1. In the day of Moses, the people approached God under the blood (Exodus 12:13, 20:19, 24, 24:4, 6-8, Hebrews 9:19-22)
2. Patterns of things in heaven (Hebrews 9:23)
F. This sacrifice need never be repeated (John 13:10)
G. An open door for us(Hebrews 10:22)