A New and Living Way
Preached At Galeed Chapel, Brighton, on Lord's day Evening November 25th, 1923
by J. K. POPHAM
This most blessed chapter sets forth the insufficiency of the ceremonial law, that all the offerings which were continually repeated were not sufficient to take away sin. Says the Apostle: "If they could have taken away all sin, would they not have ceased to be offered?" In the event of these sacrifices which were continually brought and offered to God removing sin, their repetition would not be necessary, for sin being removed requires no further sacrifice. And this sets out in all the beauteous light and glory and blessedness of it, the one offering by Jesus Christ of Himself when He once in the end of the world appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And this whenever opened, revealed, and applied to a sinner's heart gives ground for hope, puts a plea into the mouth of faith, and brings a sinner so blessed to resolve that if he shall perish he will perish seeking mercy in mercy's way.
We have also the blessed incarnation of Christ set out in this chapter because Christ said: "A body hast Thou prepared Me. Sacrifice and offering for sin Thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein, which are offered by the law. Then said He, Lo, I come, in the volume of the book it is written of Me, I delight to do Thy will, O God." (Heb. 10:5-9) And this is that body that is prepared for the eternal Son of God to take into union with Himself.
My dear friends, if we are under the teaching of the Spirit the incarnation of Christ will from time to time be to us the blessed revelation of God's love and attract us to the throne of His heavenly grace. We are poor sinners, there is no offering possible to us for sin, no sacrifice possible to us to take away our sin. Then said Christ, "Lo I come. The remedy is in Me. I have love, I have power, I have ability. The remedy is in Me. I come to do Thy will, O God." And we know from Christ's own testimony in the Gospel according to John, what that will was which He came to do and which He delighted to do: "I have power to lay down My life, I have power to lay it down and I have power to take it up again; this commandment have I received of My Father." (John 10:17,18) O what a Christ we have! I wish I could love Him and adore Him all my days. I wish you could. I wish we knew Him better and could cleave closer to Him and follow more earnestly after Him, for there is none like Him. All the fragrance of the Rose of Sharon is in Him; all the goodness of God to be manifested and enjoyed in this world is to come from Him; all the peace that a sinner is ever to feel in his conscience with God is in Christ; all the victories over sin he is to have in and through and by Jesus Christ. O that we could love Him and praise Him!
This will be manifested in the incarnation of Christ, and the death of Christ according to that will, sanctifies all the people of God: "By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." (Heb. 10:10) It were well for us if we were enabled to make a gospel distinction I say a gospel distinction, not a presumptuous one, not a hard one, but a gospel distinction between the one only sufficient sanctification of the whole church by the coming and dying of Jesus Christ, and the occasional sensations of sanctification which we sometimes feel. I believe you will follow me as you read the Scriptures and see that the death of the Lord Jesus did once and for ever effect the entire and everlasting removal from the church of her sins. That is the sanctification in this word: "By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." No debt remains to be paid, no guilt remains to be atoned, no pollution remains to be washed away, when we have respect to the efficacious death of the Lord Jesus; and that is the ground and grand reason of the blessed word of Jesus Christ to the dying thief: "This day shall thou be with Me in paradise." No prolonged work of grace was necessary, no renewed experience of sanctification interrupted by painful feelings of pollution; but the one offering made by Jesus Christ once for all removed from the dying thief and from every elected thief and murderer and every unclean person once for all the sanctification is there. It is in God's sight. O may I direct your minds to this, it is in God's sight! Not in ours often, at least not always. It is in God's sight always, no interruption of that sanctification; no losing sight of that sanctification by God and no looking on the election of grace as redeemed as having sin on them. Cheer up, O sinner, troubled often by sin, polluted often by your own thoughts, weeping often because your experience is of distance from God by reason of uncleanness! The Lord give grace to each one to follow that Scripture: "Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ." (Rom. 6:11)
Then the priesthood of Christ is brought before us: "Every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices which can never take away sin." (Heb. 10:11) With this before you, can you wonder that you yourself have to sing: "Not the labour of my hands can fulfil Thy law's demands; could my tears for ever flow, could my zeal no respite know, all for sin could not atone?" No, you won't wonder at that experience as you realize the utter impossibility of anything that can be offered to God by the sinner of his own to please, that is to satisfy Him. But says the Spirit by Paul, "But this Man," this great Man, this glorious Man Jesus Christ, this Rose of Sharon, this blessed One whose name is as ointment poured forth; this Man, sufficient for it, willing to do it and doing it; "this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever sat down on the right hand of God;" and there is nothing more to do but to expect till His enemies be made His footstool. "For by one offering He that perfected for ever them that are sanctified." (Heb. 10:14) And in the light of this we may understand a little of that word "beggarly elements," rudiments, nothing better, nothing better can all things be that are brought to God that belong to the creature; nothing better, beggarly elements, rudiments. The Lord open the riches of His grace in this. "The gospel, I love it; 'tis perfectly free."
Nor is this always to be kept secret. It is not only knowable but it is to be known. "Whereof," that is all this great and wonderful offering of Jesus Christ," whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us;" a witness to a sinner. What condescending love of the Lord Jesus is this, to send His good Spirit to a sinner's heart to bear witness in that heart of the sufficiency of the death of the Lord Jesus Christ! The unction that comes to a sinner comes from the Holy One. "Ye have an unction from the Holy One and ye know all things." (1 John 2:20) The Spirit is shed by Christ; the Spirit is sent by Christ; the Spirit works in the name of Christ and glorifies Christ and opens the riches of His grace, the sufficiency of His righteousness, the efficacy of His blood, and makes known the worth of His Person. If our eyes were more opened to see them we should see glories inconceivable to our natural minds, glories in the work of Christ. But it is as Paul says to the Corinthians: "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him; but," says he, "The Spirit reveals them." (1 Cor. 2:9,10) He opens them, He sets them before a sinner, He demonstrates them in His own light and life and power, so that there are moments, happy moments when a child of God can say:
He knows he has not followed cunningly devised fables, and in those moments he knows he has not been deceived by the devil, nor by his own heart; he has the witness in himself. "He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself." (1 John 5:10) He says, "I never saw it like this before, I never felt it so before;" and every fresh manifestation brings him to say: "This is what I saw, but I see it more clearly and I see more in it."
"For after that the Holy Ghost had said, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days saith the Lord, I will put My laws in their hearts, and in their minds will I write them, and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more." Here we have in the sinner what has been before God always. Here the efficacy of the atonement which removed all sin from the church in the sight of God and in the sight of the law; and now that blessed truth is brought down from heaven into a sinner's heart. "The laws" are the gospel laws love, mercy, forgiveness, justification, sanctification. All these are by a law, the law of love, and there are so many laws in the conscience. "I will put them into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them, and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more." Now I believe, when this is opened by the Spirit to any sinner it sets his soul longing for this particular personal good. "O," he says, "I want it for myself!" He sees that it is a thing that is promised, promised in the covenant; it is a truth that is to be known; it is an experience that is to be had and enjoyed; and so then he cries to God that it may become his own. I believe you will follow me in this. It is not something that is to remain in heaven never uttered on earth. It is not something to be hid in God never to come from Him, but it is that which, being in Him, He will communicate to sinners. The Lord give us panting souls after Himself. "So where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin."
Then comes the text, and it may be that what I have said may help us to understand a little of the meaning and the force and the blessedness of the text; "Having therefore, brethren, boldness or liberty to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus." Beloved friends, our sins shut us out from God. We have no entrance, no means of entering, no right of entrance, no liberty to enter, no knowledge of how to enter, and only sin belongs to us. You feel it, some of you. I feel it, I live to feel it more and more; nothing but sin belongs to me. How then can I pray? Ought I to pray? Says a legal heart, "No." Ought I to hope? "No," says the law, "there is no ground for hope there." Then the blessed Spirit brings the gospel and says, "There is a new way." The way of daily obedience was quite enough and very suitable to an obedient person, but the moment disobedience came, and sin like a great flood of pollution came over the being of man, then that way was closed, and the closing of that way is taught us by the expulsion from Eden of Adam and Eve and the keeping of that gate by a flaming sword turning every way. O if there is a poor sinner here who says in his own heart, "That is what I believe respecting myself, there is no way for me" and if you look to Lost Eden you are right, if you look to the broken law you are right; if you look to your works you are right, there is no way God turn your eyes another way, and turn my eyes that way continually, to Jesus and His blood.
Liberty! Who can give me liberty to go into God's presence? Nobody but God Himself. He has done it; done it to you, you may say, one and another of you; done it to you, done it in your own experience. So that it is not now with you always, "I may not go;" but rather it is, "I have liberty to go and also I have heart to go," which is very wonderful. "Boldness." The blood of Jesus is the ground of that boldness; the sense of that blood is the sweet reason of that boldness being felt it your conscience, and thus you may go. What, a sinner? Yes, because sin is put away by the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus. I would like to keep that before you, that the reason a sinner may go into the Holiest of all is that the Lord Jesus Christ put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself; and that may meet the legal workings of some of us. It says, the reason you go is not because you can shed a tear over a hard heart; it is not because you are sorry that you are a sinner; it is not because you are poor and wish your poverty might be removed from your soul; that is not the reason. The reason before God is the atonement, the atonement; that will be the only reason to the very end of the chapter with us. All troubles and griefs and sorrows and afflictions and perplexities and necessities which press us, these we may take to the Lord on the ground, the only ground of the dear Redeemer's precious blood freely shed for us. "Come then, repenting sinner, come." Come, not for your repentance, come not with your repentance as a penny, but come repenting, come hard, come boldly with all that is against you, all that is in you contrary to God; come with all. It is a beautiful word Hart has:
But when we come into the holiest, what do we come to? We come into the very presence of God; into the very presence of God whose name and whose holiness and whose terrors have made some of us afraid. We come to Him, and what do we find in Him? We find life in Him. Yes He as life, His own blessed life He has to give to His poor people who feel very dead in themselves. They come into the light of life, that light which lighteth every man that comes into the church of the living God, the light of life; "I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." (John 8:12)
And here, dear friends, I would like to say this, and it is a wonderful thing to know it here a sinner feels and sees what God is. O I am glad there is knowledge given to poor sinners of what God is! It is a great thing to know what God is. I have known a little of Him for many years, and every time it pleases the Spirit to bring a sinner into the holiest of all, that sinner is favoured to see and feel somewhat of the greatness and the character and the beauty and the blessedness and the glory of God. And likewise His suitableness to a sinner. Does He not suit you? O how suitable He is to me! The suitableness of God manifested in the flesh to a sinner.
And here he finds mercy, for the presence of God in the holiest of all was on the mercy seat. "O Thou that dwellest between the cherubim's, shine forth" in the character of mercy! Mercy, why, that is what we need. But what mercy? The mercy of justification, the mercy of an atonement perfect, the mercy of the blood that removed sins for ever, the mercy of a good God reconciling a wicked sinner to Himself, the mercy of God embracing a wretch, the mercy of God holding out the golden sceptre whereby a sinner may approach unto Him and find no wrath and no death, but life. This is what every sinner needs, and what the people of God find when they are led into the holiest of all by the blood of Jesus. You see, this blood is always kept before us in the Scriptures, and I verily believe it may be said it will always be kept before every child of God in his humble approaches to the Lord God in the holiest of all. "Having boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus."
This tells us this, it tells me this that I am to make a plea and that plea is not to be my poverty though I am poor; it is not to be what I feel sometimes of hope and life as a reason for my coming; it tells me that my plea is this the blood of Jesus Christ, nothing else. A poor creature, deformed and defiled by his sin and guilt, has this one plea which is sufficient; it is sufficient. Why, dear friends, if it is sufficient for God, surely it is sufficient for the creature. O what delight the Father had in the death of His Son! "I do always those things that please Him." (John 8:29) And this was the thing of all the things that pleased God: "Therefore doth My Father love Me because I lay down My life." And I say if that death was sufficient to please the Father, it will be sufficient to please a sinner, to satisfy his soul. O what a great thing it is to have something to plead, something to mention, something to lay before God, a plea that God Himself will not turn away from! No. Now here the Lord's word comes true; "The Son of Man came not to be ministered unto but to minister." (Matt. 20:28) He ministers to sinners. He visits them and He ministers to them. He opens His treasures of grace and mercy. He opens to them the things which they need and which His Spirit teaches them to ask for; He ministers to them; He ministered in things pertaining to God when He was here and when He was on the cross, and He ministers these things to us still. Ah, it is a great thing for Christ's precious blood to be set before faith effectually, so that we can say: "This is our plea, this is our ground, our reason for going, our hope of acceptance." This is how, and only how, a sinner may look on God.
"Boldness." It does not seem right, does it, to you sometimes even to think of going boldly to God? But the Spirit says: "Come boldly to the throne of grace, come boldly to where God is, where He holds His court, where He shows His nature, where He discovers His kindness, where He lets out His love. Come boldly." And to remove their shyness the dear compassionate Lord Jesus says: "Come unto Me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Again by the Psalmist He says, "Open thy mouth wide and I will fill it;" and again by the Psalmist He says: "Call upon Me in the say of trouble, I will deliver thee and thou shalt glorify Me." By Jeremiah He says the same: "Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not." (Jer. 33:3) Resigned to give." And He brings them into that place, so to speak, where these blessings are, and He opens them to the eye of faith sometimes; He brings them where these blessings are stored up in the Lord Jesus. In Him the Father's good pleasure dwells, and of His fullness have all we received and grace for grace. A full Christ and full Saviour, a full Justifier, a full righteousness, a full fountain and full mercy and full wisdom and full love all, all in this holiest of all. You won't go without the Lord Jesus. Wherever you go and whenever you go into God's presence He is there, and you love to see Him; I love to see Him when I am enabled to. He is there standing before God pleading, interceding, saying, "I will that these before Thee on their bended knees shall come to where I am and see My glory." He is there, dear friends, O the gospel never leaves Him anywhere! What a wonder that there is such a Person as our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in the holiest of all! Elihu said to Job: "Behold, I am according to thy wish in God's stead: Behold, my terror shall not make thee afraid, neither shall my hand be heavy upon thee." (Job 33:6,7) He was the daysman whom Job had desired, and now we have a Daysman. My brethren, this is Jesus Christ.
what He did when He shed His blood.
"Having brethren boldness to enter into the holiest." God's presence is the holiest. His righteous character and His glory. "By a new and living way." This is the gospel way. This is the highway that is spoken of by Isaiah, "And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein. No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there:" (Isa. 35:8,9) This is the new way. This is the new way that the God of all grace discovered to Adam in Eden before He cast him out: "The Seed of the woman." This is the new way. Blessed be God for this way! It is no other than the Person and the work of Christ. This He tells us Himself: "I am the way," the only way, the way of holiness, the way of reconciliation, the way of justification, the way of peace, the way of goodness, the way of God's discovery of Himself; the way of His taking a sinner to His bosom; the way whereby Emmanuel kisses a sinner and allows a sinner to embrace and hold Him fast.
This is the way, a new way. Not new in the counsel of peace in eternity, but new in respect of revelation; for it could not have been discovered while the old way was open. But when that way was closed, closed by man's own hand and closed by the justice of God; closed by man's sin, closed by divine holiness in the law; then came forth by revelation this new way, new in revelation. O but what a way! A broad way for faith, a narrow way to nature, a strait gate to the old man, plenty of room in it for faith. "I will strengthen them in the Lord, and they shall walk up and down in My name, saith the Lord." Poor sinner, there is a sweeter welcome awaiting you than you can imagine wherever you by faith come this way. You won't get reviled, you won't get turned away, but sooner or later you will have a smile that will create heaven in your heart; that will remove every fear, jealousy, and suspicion and bring you to say, "The Lord is good;" to say, "He is a good God to me."
It is a way that God approves; "Which He hath consecrated for us through the veil, that is to say His flesh." This sets before us the death of Christ. This shows us the crucifixion and the broken body of the Lord Jesus: "This is My body which is broken for you," "Consecrated for us" when we go rightly. When we go properly by faith to the lord we go empty-handed. When our great High Priest went before His Father to offer Himself, He went with His hands full, full of incense of His own merit. Consecrated? Yes, blessed consecration this, when the infinitely sweet incense of the dear Saviour's death ascended to God, and He smelled a savour of rest! How could God be other than infinitely please with sinners who come to Him by this new and living way? "Living" to express the sweet sense of access and acceptance and reconciliation that at times the Lord's people feel. "Access." Is there anything sweeter to a troubled heart than to get near God with his trouble? Is there anything better for a poor distracted sinner than to get where God rests? With He Himself, so we may also rest. This is the new and living way. A living God is in it, a living sinner is in it, a living faith is in it, living desires are in it, living prayers are in it, and a sweet living answer will come into the soul sooner or later. A living way; not a way of dead forms and ceremonies. No, not a way that you would open for yourself by dead works; but a living Christ, with love and mercy and righteousness and pardon and holiness all, all waiting for a sinner, and the sinner led to go to God for all.
"Which He hath consecrated for us," setting Himself apart for their sakes: "I sanctify Myself that they also might be sanctified" and so Christ the Consecrator of the way, the consecration in the way, and the sinner who is sanctified or consecrated, are on the same ground here. Is it not wonderful for faith, when he can lay hold of it, to perceive this, that the Lord Jesus makes His people as holy as He Himself is; that their Saviour makes them as acceptable to His Father as He Himself is acceptable to His Father? Hence the word that He sent to His disciples: "but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God." (John 20:17) No such relationship as this in the old way. But O in this new way, blessed be God, He looks on His children as His children long before they can look on Him as their Father! But they do sometimes look on Him as their Father by the witness of the Holy Ghost. "Ascend to My Father and therefore your Father." My Father and you being in Me, your Father. This is by a new and living way. It is a new life, a life not known in Eden by Adam unfallen, known by him later when God taught him. A new righteousness; not one wrought by the sinner but given to him by imputation. A new purity, not wrought by the sinner taking much soap and fuller's soap and nitre, but given to him by a holy Saviour. O this, this puts out all nature's claims and destroys all nature's goodness in the sight of God, and brings a sinner black and needy and naked and undone to receive what Christ has to give to him. "A new and living way."
And then too let me say here it is a way of inter-communication, a way in which God deals with His children, in which they deal with Him. And I do say this, that every child of God sooner or later knows what it is to deal with God. The influence of the Spirit on his heart, the light and leading of the Spirit of his faith, will bring him into the presence of God, into the holiest of all; and there a good, merciful, condescending God is seen and the sinner deals with Him. He deals with Him about his salvation; he deals with Him about his way through this world. He is in a wilderness and the path is not clear; sometimes no path at all, nor has God made one out to him. He just leads him in and out as He will, and then the sinner deals with Him about it. He has his family case and he can deal with God about that, his business case and he can deal with God about that, the case of his health and all the cases that come to him he is led to deal with God about them. I am not speaking a strange language to all of you, am I? I know I am not. I know what it is for myself to deal with God, and you know what it is to deal with Him; you who are led by the Spirit. And O is it not wonderful that things painful in themselves and bitter to us, pressing necessities of different kinds, these we can speak to God about, deal with Him about, ask Him to guide us and to supply us and to work in us and to work for us just as it pleases Him, that at last we may be with Him! A living way, a living God let me repeat it and a living soul, a living church; these come together. O happy, happy people who have this in their experience!
"And having a High Priest over the house of God." With all the confidence you may feel in your soul that God is yours, you will still need a Priest. You will still need His offering; you will still need the sacrifice of Christ; you will still need that He should be an Intercessor; for "He is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them." And what a wonder it is when faith is enabled to make use of Him, to lay hold of His strength! The strength of the Priest is the sacrifice which He had to offer and He did offer. May I say it it you again? The strength of the Priest is the sacrifice which He had to offer and did offer, and that will be strength to a sinner; that will be strength to his prayers and strength to his hope and strength to his love and strength to his submission and strength to his wrestlings so that he obtains answers to prayer. No other strength will do. We have a strong High Priest. We have a great High Priest. Great in His Person and great in His work; great in His office, great in His intercession. And this will carry us right through. I say, it will carry us right through all troubles, all difficulties, all temptations, and the inbred law of sin. These make the way difficult to us; these make travelling slow to us; these make the end uncertain to us sometimes. But they make no difference to Him who says, "Come unto Me." Here is a new and living way into the holiest. "Come unto Me all ye that labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest."
Now I must leave off. May the Holy Spirit teach us this great doctrine and open to us this wonderful way to the living God. Amen.