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Our goal in this life, and our goal as a congregation, ought to be three-fold—we should want to get the gospel straight, we should want to get the church right, and we should want to get the world restored. Let’s walk through it in that order.
“But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel. See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven: Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:22-29).
Summary of the Text
As believers, we have not come to an earthly mountain, but rather to a heavenly one (v. 22). We have not only come to God, but also to all the saints, to all our fellow believers (v. 23). We have come to Jesus, and to the blood of sprinkling (v. 24). This is blood that speaks from Heaven, and we must not turn a deaf ear (v. 25). The voice we must not refuse is a voice that shakes Heaven, as well as earth (v. 26). God shakes everything down in order that the permanent things may remain (v. 27). This kingdom that we are receiving is one of those permanent things, and this is why our worship of God must be reverent and true (v. 28), for God is a consuming fire (v. 29).
Gospel: Blood That Speaks
The gospel, the good news, is objective and outside us. Our response to the gospel (repenting, believing, etc.) is not the gospel. It is the response to the gospel. The gospel was true and established before anyone here was born. The gospel is this message—Jesus Christ suffered, bled and died on the cross for the sins of His people. He was buried in the tomb, and on the third day He rose again from the dead. He ascended into Heaven, where He is seated in power and glory. From that high place, He intercedes with the Father for you. Jesus prays for you, and He pleads His case with the blood that speaks. That is gospel.
The gospel has two sides. The first is the person of Jesus, who He was. The second is the work of Jesus, what He did. He is the incarnate Deity, the second Person of the Trinity, one who became a man for our sake. He was fully God, and fully man, and He then went to the cross to die, be buried, and to rise. This is the gospel, this is the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Church: With Reverence and Fear
This gospel message is proclaimed in various ways. It is proclaimed (obviously) when an evangelist goes out and preaches this message to those who have not heard it, or who have not yet accepted it. He preaches it, and this is one of the central ways this message is declared. But there are others—and worshiping communities is another central one. We practice weekly communion in our worship, and what does the apostle say? He says that every time we eat the bread and drink the cup, we proclaim the Lord’s death. We do this until He comes again.
Now there is a point that must be emphasized particularly in our day. In our text it says that we must serve God (worship, latreuo) with reverence and godly fear. God teaches us what our demeanor in our church worship services must be like. It must not be breezy, casual, informal, or begun with an introit on the kazoo. That’s not a call to worship the Ancient of Days.
World: That Cannot be Moved
Human history is the result of God’s great process of shaking both Heaven and earth. He shakes us down in order to test and prove us. He wants the world to stand—He wants the kingdom He is giving us to remain. But the way He does this is by removing all the dross through fire (our God is a consuming fire, is He not?) and by establishing the silver He purifies so that it might remain.
The world is a great construction site, and there are scraps all over, and scaffolding that will be hauled away. At the center of it is a great city, a great kingdom. That kingdom is not synonymous with the world now, but at the end of the process the two will be synonyms. The kingdom will be the world, and the world will be the kingdom.
Do not lament for that which perishes. Nothing that God wants to have remain will ever falter. Nothing that God wants to have removed will be found worthy at the last. God’s methods of world transformation are not . . . tender. But they are good.
And so here is our conclusion. Hear the gospel, believe it, eat it, drink it, and proclaim it. Jesus is crucified and risen. Having received this gospel by faith, worship the God of Heaven in terms of it. Worship Him with reverence and godly fear. Worship Him as the Almighty Maker of Heaven and earth, and not as your skybuddy. And last, do this with the understanding that true gospel worship is a cosmos shaker, a battering ram, an earth-mover.