************ Sermon on Hebrews 9:27-28 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on July 31, 2016
"When Jesus Comes Again"
I want you to think of Hebrews as a commentary on the middle section of the Apostle's Creed -- you know, the part about Christ. If so, the line of the Creed it especially focuses on is the one where Jesus is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty. Hebrews acknowledges Christmas, Good Friday, and Easter but only because they pave the way for what happened on Ascension Day. From the perspective of Hebrews, Ascension Day is the highpoint of Who Jesus is and what Jesus does.
To get its point across, Hebrews keeps directing us to the OT: its sanctuary, its covenant, its ceremonies, its people. All of these, as we will see again today, are but a shadow and copy of what is in heaven.
Today, Hebrews tells us that the ascended Jesus will someday appear to fulfill our salvation. He will consummate our salvation. He will complete our salvation. We have so much already:
-We've been born again, given a change of heart, brought from death to life.
-The power of sin has been broken.
-We have again become children of God and are in intimacy with Him.
-We are part of the body of Christ.
-We've been forgiven and cleansed.
-We've been given the Spirit with its gifts and its fruit.
You know what this all is? It is God's down-payment to us. It is God's promise of more and better things to come.
I want to tell you, I need to tell you, salvation in its fullest and richest sense is not yet here until Christ appears a second time. I say this because of all the foolish and ridiculous talk I hear about heaven and the believing dead. Supposedly they are on the perfect golf course playing the best golf of their life or at the best fishing hole or celebrating their first Christmas in heaven. Supposedly they can look down on us from the perfection of heaven. Really? How? With what? How can you play golf, for instance, if you don't have a body with arms and legs? How can you fish if you are nothing but a soul? How can you look down on us when you don't have eyes? Heaven is awesome and great. I'm not denying that. But there is more, way more, to come from Him Who was born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, arose from the dead, and ascended into heaven where He is seated at the right hand of the Majesty.
After this lengthy introduction we turn to our text. You need to realize our text is a comparison. Look at the word "just" that begins verse 27. Then look at the word "so" that begins verse 28. "Just ... So ..." The comparison begins with man and moves to the Lord Jesus Christ.
I Man's Death and Judgment
A "Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment ..." (Heb 9:27). This short sentence contains three points.
First, man dies once. In mind is every single person, every single human. This even includes Christ. Don't forget, He is like us His brothers in every way so He, too, dies once (cf Heb 2:17). As verse 28 puts it, "so Christ was sacrificed once ..." He died once. Man dies once.
As you probably realize, there are some exceptions to this rule. For instance, there are a number of people who were raised from the dead and ended up dying twice:
-the son of the widow of Zarephath who was raised by Elijah
-the son of the Shunammite who was raised by Elisha
-a dead man whose body came back to life when it was thrown on top of the bones of Elisha
-Lazarus who was raised by Jesus
-the widow of Nain's son who was raised by Jesus
-the daughter of Jairus who was raised by Jesus
-those who were raised at the moment the temple curtain was torn in two when Jesus gave up His spirit
-Peter raised a person from the dead; so did Paul
Everyone of these people ended up dying twice.
And then there are those believers who are living when Jesus returns. They don't die at all.
Exceptions aside, the common human experience is that every person dies. Once! We must all die.
(Job 30:23) I know you will bring me down to death, to the place appointed for all the living.
(Ps 103:15-16) As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; (16) the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.
Do you know what an actuary does? An actuary advises life insurance companies on life and death. To me, this job sounds like an easy no-brainer. Every person is gonna die. No exceptions. This is the world's most consistent and ultimate statistic: every person who has ever lived has also died.
Do you realize death has always been held before mankind -- even in the Garden of Eden? Remember what God said about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil: "when you eat of it you will surely die" (Gen 2:17). Remember what God said to Adam after the fall:
(Gen 3:19) by the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.
Death has always been held before mankind because death is the result of sin. The Apostle Paul tell us the wages of sin is death. So every funeral, every casket, every burial, every cremation is a reminder of the huge price of sin. Every funeral, every casket, every burial, every cremation is a reminder that we are part of the fallen human race.
B "Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment" (Heb 9:27). The second point made by verse 27 is that judgment follows death. Think about this. There are those who say death is the end. After that there is nothing, nada, we cease to exist, we cease to be. But Hebrews informs us and reminds us that death is not the end of our human existence because it is followed by judgment. Eastern religions, Hollywood stars, and New Agers tell us that when we die we are given another chance at life as we are reincarnated a second time or a third time or even a fourth time. But Hebrews reminds us that what follows death is not reincarnation but judgment.
Judgment follows death. This point is made not just by Hebrews but by all the Bible:
(Eccl 12:14) For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.This is the teaching of God's Word. "Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment" (Heb 9:27).
(Rev 20:11-15) Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. (12) And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. (13) The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. (14) Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. (15) If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
C Notice, death and judgment are joined together by the word "destined." This is the third point made by verse 27. We are destined for death and judgment. This means this is what is in store for us, this is what is reserved for us, this is what has been held back for us. Death and judgment.
Dear friends, man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment. Don't live like this is not the case. Don't pretend this won't happen to you. This is the inescapable destiny of every person here. This is the inescapable destiny of every person who has ever lived. Realize that some day you will die and be judged. Realize that this life in this body and on this earth will not continue forever. The inescapable destiny of every person is to die once and then face the judgment of Jesus Christ. You cannot escape this.
"Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment" (Heb 9:27). How do you face this? With fear? With joy? If you know Jesus is your Savior from sin, you can face this with joy. But if you don't believe in Jesus, if your name is not found written in the book of life, you will be thrown into the lake of fire.
II Christ's Appearance and Salvation
A Remember, our text is a comparison. It compares man to Jesus. The first part of the comparison is found in verse 27: "Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment." The second part of the comparison is found in verse 28:
(Heb 9:28) 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.
What exactly is the comparison? In the same way as there is a connection between man's death and man's judgment, so there is a connection between the second appearance of Jesus and salvation. In the same way as death and judgment cannot be separated, so the second coming of Jesus and salvation cannot be separated. In the same way as death and judgment is inevitable, so the second coming of Jesus and the salvation of His own is inevitable. That's the comparison.
B Again, we see three points. First, we are told about the manner of the second coming. Hebrews uses the word "appear." This word emphasizes the physical and visible. This word emphasizes that it can be seen by the eye. The same Greek word is used numerous times throughout the New Testament for different facets of Jesus' ministry: His miracles, the transfiguration, the piercing, the cross, the resurrection. All of these were physical and visible to the eye. So Paul can say,
(1 Tim 3:16) Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great: He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.All of this visible. All of this seen by the eye.
John's first letter puts great emphasis on the physical, visible appearance of Jesus:
(1 Jn 1:1-3) That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched--this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. (2) The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. (3) We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.
The second coming of Jesus will be exactly the same way as His first coming: physical, visible, seen with the eye.
(Rev 1:7) Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen.Every eye will see Him. His return will not be hidden. It will not be secret. It will be visible.
C Second, we are told the purpose of His coming. The purpose is expressed negatively and it is expressed positively. Negatively: "not to bear sin." That already happened. That happened once. That happened once for all at His first coming when He was lifted on to the cross, raised from the grave, and ascended into heaven. Positively: "to bring salvation." That is, to bring salvation full and free. Yes, we are already saved, but we still experience the lingering effects of sin. Yes, we already experience intimacy with God, but many times sin intrudes on the relationship. Yes, we already serve God, but our present efforts are but a feeble beginning. When Jesus appears a second time, sin will be gone. When Jesus appears a second time, ours will be unbroken intimacy with God. When Jesus appears a second time, our service of God will be total -- with all our heart and soul and mind and strength. Revelation describes the fullness of salvation this way:
(Rev 21:3-5) And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. (4) He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." (5) He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!"
D Third, we are told those for whom Jesus will appear with salvation: "those who are waiting for him."
The second appearance of Jesus is not to the benefit of all. It is only for the benefit of "those who are waiting for him." What about unbelievers? When we look ahead, Hebrews 10 states what they can expect:
(Heb 10:27) but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.
(Heb 10:31) It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
The gift of salvation is NOT given to everyone. NOT everyone will be saved. It is given to those who long for His appearing. It is given to those who say and pray with John, "Amen. Come, Lord Jesus" (Rev 22:20). It is given to those who say and pray with Paul, "Maranatha!" "Come, O Lord!" (1 Cor 16:22).
If you are one of these people, one of these people waiting for the second coming of the Lord, praying for the second coming of the Lord, watching for the second coming of the Lord, working for the second coming of the Lord, then He is coming for you.
Jesus appeared in a body and was sacrificed once to take away the sins of the people. Someday Jesus will appear a second time to bring salvation. I want to end by emphasizing Jesus is the real deal while what was done by the high priests of Israel was but a shadow and a copy.
Remember what happened on the Day of Atonement? The high priest of Israel appeared before the people and offered a sacrifice for their sins. Then he appeared for them in the presence of God in the Holy of Holies. The people waited as he did this. They waited restlessly. They knew if the high priest did anything wrong, he would die. When the high priest reappeared in their presence there was relief and joy because this meant God accepted the sacrifice made on their behalf.
In this light, look at Jesus and how He follows the sequence of the Day of Atonement. According to verse 26 He appeared to do away with sin by the sacrifice of Himself. According to verse 24, He appeared for us in God's presence. Verse 28 tells us someday He will come out of the Holy of Holies and again appear in our sight. Telling us something. Confirming something. That God has accepted His sacrifice for our sins. Telling us that Jesus is the fulfilment of what happened on the Day of Atonement. He is the real deal while what happened in the tabernacle was but a shadow and copy.
Someday, dear friends, you will die and face judgment. Someday, dear friends, Jesus will reappear and bring salvation. At that time, is He coming as your Savior or He is coming as your Judge?
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
Back to Index of Sermons Page