The writer to the Hebrews is wrapping up his treatise on the superiority of Christ. He is penning his last words to those who are struggling to fully know the freedom they have in Christ, being told by those still in bondage that to follow Messiah means following the ceremonial law. That their salvation must be tied to their merit . . . that they need to double down on following the old ordinances in the old way . . . somehow without the old results. And so, as he closes his letter, he warns them again about being led away by fanciful speculations of men as to how the old and the new must be married together. And he says it comes down to the meat you eat.
Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them. We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat.
(Hebrews 13:9-10 ESV)
The meat available from the sacrifices offered on the altar by those who “serve the tent” was a continual reminder that more sacrifice was necessary. Same old meat, served up in the same old way because they had offer the same old sacrifices for their same old sin. While the blood offered in the tent could provide for interim atonement, it couldn’t release from the bondage of sin. And so, when it came right down to it, the food of the OT sacrifice really didn’t benefit those devoted to it.
But we have a better altar under the new covenant. We have a place where an atoning sacrifice was offered once for all for sin. A place where those who have confessed Christ as Savior and Lord have the right to eat. And what’s being served up on that altar? Gospel meat . . . Grace!
Far from the grace of the good news being only for the saving of souls it is to be feasted upon for the strengthening of hearts. While we needed grace to be brought from darkness to light . . . from being far way to drawing near . . . from being enemies to being counted as children, we also need to feed on this gospel meat on a daily basis in order to live as people of light . . . and boldly approach the throne of grace, despite our latest failure . . . and walk as befits sons and daughters of a holy God.
Having begun our Christian lives by tasting the food of the Spirit, do we now think we are going to rely on the sustenance of our best efforts to grow in our calling? I’m thinkin’ not.
Instead, grace, gospel meat, is what’s needed for our hearts to be established (NKJV) . . . what’s needed for our Christian lives to be the abundant life Christ promised (John 10:10). Feasting daily on the altar of the finished work of the cross . . . our daily nourishment built on a main course of gospel meat . . . the abundant, always sufficient grace of God being our life-sustaining food.
Anybody up for seconds?