We were so pleased to welcome Rev. Dennis Ashley back this morning for our worship service. For those of you who don't know, our church has been without a permanent pastor for over a year. Because of the goodness of God, however, we have been led during that time by our very competent interim pastor, Rev. Racquel Singleton. Of course, pastors need time off too, and Rev. Ashley was gracious to fill in for her this morning.
One great thing about having a guest preacher is that you get to hear from a different point of view. The sermon this morning was based on one of Rev. Ashley's favorite books: "The Three Musketeers." If you have ever read the book or seen the movies based off of it, you will remember the rallying call: "All for one, and one for all!" Well, this morning we learned that this motto works for us as Christians, as well.
Rev. Ashley started with the second half of the motto: "One for all." The scripture was taken from Hebrews 10:5-14, with special emphasis on verse 10: "And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." Hallelujah! Do you understand what an amazing thing this is? The old sacrificial system required a separate sacrifice for every sin! A lamb or a bull or a goat or a bird would have to pay with its life every time a human being sinned. Can you imagine? It seems barbaric, just to think about it. All of the blood and the death. And it gets even worse. Verse 11 goes on to say: "Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins." All those animals were sacrificed, and the sins remained!
Let that sink in a minute. All of those animals. All off that blood. No relief from sin.
There was a better way. Jesus sacrificed himself once, for all sins. One sacrifice for all. And did you notice? Verse 10 says that through Jesus' sacrifice, we have been made holy! The Blue Letter Bible defines holiness as being separate from sin. And there is one way to be holy: through Jesus Christ. In Acts 4:12, Peter testified that "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” What all of those years of animal sacrifices failed to do, Jesus did in one day, for all time, and for all people. He is the one High Priest forever for all those who come to God through him:
Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. For the law appoints as high priests men in all their weakness; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.
So where does this leave us, the "all"? The other part of the motto is "All for one." Rev. Ashley gave us four possible applications:
1. Jesus gave His all for each one of us.
2. I am one person and I want to give my all for Jesus, who is one Lord.
3. We all give our one allegiance to the Lord Jesus Christ.
4. We are all one for the sake of Christ.
This last idea was on Jesus' heart as he prayed for his disciples before he was crucified. John 17:20-23 reads: “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me." Jesus prayed that all would be one. That His people would be united with one purpose: to reveal the truth to the world. Notice that he was not just praying for his few disciples, but also for those who would believe through their message. That is you and me! Jesus looked down through the ages and saw you and me worshiping him this day. He saw the world united by those who believed the message that he brought from his father.
Jesus didn't come to save some. He came to save all. And he didn't ask for division, but for unity among his disciples. I think that we Christians need to take a hard look at ourselves. Are we united in revealing God's truth? Are we all giving our one allegiance to Jesus? Are we giving our all to Jesus, our one Lord and savior? Jesus did his part. He gave his all for us: One for All. Now, we need to join together in the second part: All for One.