Let’s read Hebrews 10:1-7, “For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, ‘Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. Then I said, “Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.”’”
Here it mentions “the spirits of the righteous made perfect.” We should be clear about who these people are.
Hebrews 10:1 begins with, “For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities…” The true form of reality can only be found in what’s above. The city in heaven is a real city. The holy of holies in the temple on earth resembles New Jerusalem in heaven. The length, width, and height are the same. Just as the Holy of Holies shone with God’s light, the whole of New Jerusalem is filled with God’s presence and His light. So, we can see that what’s on earth is merely a shadow reflecting the reality of heaven.
Those in the Old Testament time who drew near had not yet been made perfect. They could not be made perfect by the same sacrifices that were offered year after year. Otherwise, they would not have to keep offering sacrifices. Indeed, they continued to offer sacrifices all the way to the time when the Lord came. But those who believed in Him were made perfect forever.
Hebrews 10:7 begins with “Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will…’” We can see God’s will from many prophecies in the Bible, including Isaiah 53; and His will definitely includes the cross.
The people in the Old Testament had not yet been made perfect. Otherwise, they would not have had to keep offering sacrifices.
Hebrews 10:11 reads, “And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.” So, at the time, they went before God by relying on the Lord who would come to the world and die for them.
Hebrews 9:15 says, “Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant… since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.”
The Lord died on the cross to redeem not only our sins but also the sins of those who believed in Him before He came to the world. For these Old Testament era believers, they basically enjoyed salvation before the Lord had accomplished it. It’s like how you can use a credit card to obtain things before you’ve paid for them. Eventually though, the Lord came to die for us. That’s how the people of the Old Testament were forgiven.
Hebrews 10:12-14 read, “But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.”
Priests had to remain standing while they served. But the Lord could sit down because He has solved the problem of sins once and for all! Earlier, we talked about how offering sacrifices could not make perfect those who drew near. But here, this passage says we have been perfected for all time. He offered one sacrifice for sins for all time. By that one offering for sins, He has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. The problem of sins has been completely resolved once for all.
Hebrews 11:39-40 talk about the people of faith in the Old Testament. This passage says, “And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.” While we have been perfected for all time, those in the Old Testament had not been made perfect.
What does Hebrews 12 say about what’s in heaven? Hebrews 12:23 reads, “…to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect…” Here, it mentions “made perfect.” That’s the same phrase mentioned in Hebrews 10:1: “make perfect those who draw near,” Hebrews 10:14: “perfected for all time,” and Hebrews 11:40: “should not be made perfect.” They all talk about being made perfect.
It’s very simple. These Old Testament people did not have to go to hell because their sins had been forgiven. They went to Hades. The Lord had not yet come during that time, so these people enjoyed His salvation similar to how one uses a credit card – You can get something now and pay for it later. Sin had not yet been forgiven. But later on, the Lord’s death on the cross redeemed them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.
It is different for us. The Lord already died for us and we have accepted Him as our Saviour. At the moment we believed in the Lord, we were made perfect for all time. We were cleansed of all our sins.
So, all the passages that mention “being made perfect” are about the same matter. Let’s talk about the spirits of the righteous made perfect, which are now in heaven. These are the people who were once not perfected, but now have been made perfect. But that’s not all! Try to think about it. If they remained in Hades, wouldn’t that be bad? Now that these people are in heaven, aren’t they happier and their spirits more uplifted? Moreover, the Lord is in heaven with them. If they continued to stay in Hades, if the Lord did not take them to heaven, they would not be able to be face to face with the Lord, even though they would still have the Lord’s presence. When the Lord ascended to heaven, they were also taken up. Isn’t this perfect, compared to the past when they were still in Hades? Moreover, previously, their sins were only dealt with in a “pay by credit card” way. These people are “the spirits of the righteous made perfect.” We’ve already been perfected, so we will not need to be perfected a second time. The Lord died for us and has already perfected us for all time. We do not need to wait for the future. The Lord has already taken away our sins. Right now, we just need to enjoy this salvation with faith.
The Bible does not clearly mention whether the Lord took them up with Him when He ascended to heaven, but you cannot think of a more suitable or reasonable time for Him to have done so. Right now, the saints are already in heaven. In Hades, there are only sinners waiting for the judgement at the Great White Throne. At that time, they will be resurrected with a debased body. Hell will be their eternal ending.
As for us, we will be with Christ immediately the moment we die. Where is Christ? He’s in new Jerusalem. We have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, where some of the firstborn have already arrived. The mediator of the new covenant is also there. He’s there preparing a place for us. Once it’s ready, He will come take us. The city already exists. What the Lord is preparing now may be something personal for each of us. He will come back to the earth and take us. I believe we’re in the last stages before he comes back. Those who want to apply for “citizenship” in heaven should do so quickly in order to become a citizen.
It’s so precious that we have already been enrolled in heaven, having our names written down as the assembly of the firstborn. This assembly is also known as the church, or gathering of the firstborn. The names of the firstborn have already been written in the book of life of the Lamb. The Lord has already gone through the impossible for us. Not only did He forgive us, He also caused us to be most deeply united with Him. He’s the one who took the initiative to accomplish His love dream, what He desires the most. No one dared to reach out to Him, but He humbled Himself and came to us. In this love, He doesn’t feel he’s degrading Himself. He is the Lamb, the gazelle. He desires the most for us to be with Him. While we are on earth, we are not yet face to face with Him, but He still desires the most to be with us.
The Book of Hebrews mentions the words “draw near to God” again and again. We have “come to” Mount Zion and we “draw near” to God. The words “come to” and “draw near” are the same phrase in the original text. Brothers and sisters, the final destination of our glorious upward journey is heaven. One day, we will be there, uniting with the Lord, Abba, the Holy Spirit, and all brothers and sisters. This is God’s home sweet home, our warmest eternal home. God Himself is the resting place of our spirits. Knowing Him is of surpassing worth in this life and forevermore. That’s also what Paul says. The Lord wants us to truly live out a life close to Him, draw near to Him, experience Him, and be heart to heart with Him. Right now, we are awake, but as soon as we fall “asleep”, we will be with Him. He’s waiting for His love desire to come true, which is written in John 17:24: “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am.” The last chapter of the Bible says three times, “I am coming quickly” (Revelation 22:7,12,20).
I hope you see that even though you are not in heaven yet, the Lord desires you to live with Him day and night. He wants your heart to be set on things above and that you mind the things above. The One you love the most is in heaven. He’s also the most deeply united with you. He lives in your heart to become your glorious hope. He’s living, and He’s our bright living reality. He truly lives in your hearts. He truly lives with you. We are really full of hope, overflowing with hope! It’s more than just not being afraid of death. Paul desired to be with Christ, because it’s far better. I hope that you see the beauty of our heavenly home. It’s indeed very beautiful. In heaven, a most beautiful heart exists that loves you the most and loves you eternally!