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Persevering Through Practice Ė Part 1
Developing a Practical Faith (5/24/05)

NEW LIFE CHURCH
Pastor Marlin Harris

 

We will not do a verse by verse study.  It would literally take us to the rest of the year but we are going to do a theme by theme study and seek to pull out of this book everything that we believe the Holy Spirit wants us to learn from it.  It is one of the richest books in the NT.  It is rich in information necessary to build our faith, information necessary to build our faith. 

We are going to be talking tonight trying to introduce the book to you so we are speaking from the perspective of trying to introduce to you a book that you may not know a whole lot about.  So much of what we say may be elementary or fundamental and there may be certain segments that I believe are really going to grab you no matter where you are in your progression in bible study.

We have entitled this series of studies through the Book of Hebrews ďBuilding a Faith that Will Last Until the End, Building a Faith that Will Last Until the EndĒ -- that is what the entire book is all about.  It is information, it is teaching, it is exhortations and instructions that we need to build our faith, but not the kind of faith thatís fleeting for the moment or the kind of faith that you have one day and you lose the next, and then you pick it up again the next day, but the kind of faith that will last.

We have subtitled this series of teachings on the Book of Hebrews ďPersevering Through PressureĒ, Persevering Through PressureĒ, because thatís basically the theme of the book outside of the superiority of Jesus Christ.  It speaks from a practical perspective and from an applicable perspective to us.  It deals specifically with what we need to know and what we need to do in order to persevere even through the pressures that we face, the trails we face, the tribulations we face throughout our lives.  

This book was written to a group of Jews who very well may have been exiled Christians who were running or on the run, refugees on the outskirts of Jerusalem and these Hebrews, these Christian Jews, some of them were in different stages and places in their faith but they were being faced with persecution, they were being faced with death because of their new found confession of Jesus Christ the Savior.  They were under tyranny by the Roman Empire.  Itís been debated in terms of when the book was actually written.  Some have dated the book after AD 70, and AD 70 is a turning point in Jewish history anciently, in ancient Jewish history it is a turning point because in AD 70, 70 years after the birth of Christ, the Roman Emperor Titus came with his armies from Rome and marched through Jerusalem and completely annihilated the city, completely burned it to the ground.  The spiritual artifacts especially the temple was absolutely desecrated and absolutely annihilated.  It did not stand. 

Jesus prophesied about this coming destruction of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple when he said pointing to the temple that the day will come when not one stone will be left upon another.  You remember the words of Christ when he spoke those words, do you remember that, when he said ďNot one stone left upon anotherĒ, a prophecy about the coming destruction that Titus brought and when he came he came with an enormous sense of fury and wrath, politically motivated onslaught on a defenseless people, a defenseless city, a defenseless people.  He came and burned everything that was Jerusalem to the ground.[1]  A turning point in Jewish history.  As a matter of fact the Jews did not have stake nor claim to their homeland for the next nearly over 1900 years.  No more stake or claim to their homeland until 1948 when they became a Jewish state again.  So itís an amazing cataclysmic destruction of Jerusalem and all things sacred.

You need to understand this in the context of the book.  Some scholars say it was written after that and if it was written after this destruction you can clearly see how this was playing in the minds of these Jews.  Here you have these Jews who are holding onto their Jewish roots and for a Jew everything about his history has to do with his religion.  Everything about his history has to do with his religion.  We see a whole lot of that today in the middle-eastern conflict.  If you noticed that all of the conflict in the Middle East is about religion.  Their politics is about religion.  Their heritage is about religion.  Their education is about religion.  Their ethics is about religion.  Their social ethics, society, is about religion.  Everything over there is about religion.  It would be very nice if everything over here was about religion, but everything over here is about money. And we are the nation that has the truth, and they are the nation that is struggling to find it.  But everything over there is about religion, and the Jews had that same mentality.  They do not know what it means to be Jewish outside of what it means to be in the Judaistic religion or to be in Judaism, they donít know what that means.

Itís almost as if we were to say Ė for those of us who are African American or any other race that you have, you donítí know anything about your raceís heritage or your raceís history outside of the religion that defines your race, thatís how significant it was.  We talked about Mother Africa a whole lot, but Mother Africa has a whole lot to do with land and culture, land and culture, so when we think of our roots as African Americans, we think culturally.  When a Jew thinks of his roots he doesnít think culturally, he thinks religiously.  There is no separation.  So when Titus comes and destroys and annihilates the symbol and the city which represents Jewish religion, what he did was he robbed the individual Jew, not only of his city, his home, his homeland, but he robbed the Jew of his religious heritage which by definition would be his very identity, his very identity Ė are you getting what Iím saying?

So this book coming to these Jews who were refugees and exiles living outside of Jerusalem, having just seen the devastation of everything that they have come to know to be who they are, who their parents are, who their grandís greats, greats, greats are, this is the history of their nation totally floored Ė now these Jews prior to this obviously prior to this, and shortly after the ascension of Christ, they had someone come to them and share the message of Jesus Christ.  Many have believed it was definitely not Paul because that wasnít Paulís audience.  Paulís audience was a Gentile audience, not a Jewish audience.  It may have been Peter or James or one of the other apostles, or one of the other Disciples of Christ who comes and shares the message of Jesus Christ to these Hebrews and they accept the message Ė and we will find out a little bit later that some accepted it totally and some accepted it partially.

But they accept the message and they are being weaned from their religious activity but not being weaned from their religious identity, from their heritage but their religious activity they are being weaned from that because much of Judaism is only a shadow, itís just a shadow of what Christ came to demonstrate.  Right, so Judaism is the shadow and Christianity is the real thing, the substance.  So they were being weaned from the shadow over to the substance but very delicately because remember these people see their heritage and history in Judaism.  While being weaned from this delicately, Titus comes and destroys the whole city.  So right in the midst of getting ready to latch onto Jesus Christ, wholly and completely, devastation happens in the city where many of them out of compassion and out of love for their heritage, cling on to Judaism even though they had been told and informed, and many of them convinced of the truth of Jesus Christ.

So the writer of Hebrews writes a letter shortly after this, maybe 5, 10 or 15 years after this, but he writes this letter to these refugees, to these Hebrews who are scattered abroad, so several different copies have to be made and sent to many different areas and provinces so these Hebrews can be exhorted, encouraged, reminded, stay true to Christ, stay true to Christ.  Donít allow your passion for your history to cause you to forget about the reality of your faith, your faith, and the reality of your faith.  Heís trying to get them to build strong faith thatís going to endure and last, even through the midst of this pressurizing time.

When many of them were going back to Judaism the writer says ďWhy would you go back to something thatís not as good as what you have now.  What you have now is so much better than what you had thenĒ.  I mean he goes through a litany, and we are going to go through that, but he goes through a litany of whatís better about Christianity, as opposed to Judaism, whatís better about Christ than about the Jewish laws, rituals, rites and sacrifices and the tabernacle and the temple and all the elements of the tabernacle Ė he goes through how much better Christ is, how much better Christ is. 

Heís not saying that that stuff isnít valid or real because if he said that he would lose them.  What he is saying is donít weep too hard for what Titus destroyed because you have something better, and he culminates this thing around about Chapter 11 in the hallmark of faith Ė everybody know about that Ė the chapter of faith right.  In this chapter of the heroes of faith guess what he pulls out.  He pulls out the death and the destruction, he pulls out the pain and agony and the anguish and the trials and temptations that their forefathers had gone through, much like what they were going through after seeing Titus destroy the city.  He says ďHey this isnít the first time this has happenedĒ.  He says ďOur forefathers have gone through this for years and the reason why they were able to survive all that happened to them is because they were looking for a better cityĒ.  HE says ďThe beautiful thing is you found what they have been looking for Ė donít go back.  Donít go backĒ.  That is the book of Hebrews.  Donít go back, donít go back. 

So letís get into this very quickly.  Come to Hebrews 1.  I know you guys are wondering who wrote the Book of Hebrews and we donítí know who wrote the Book of Hebrews.  It has been conjectured around about 400 AD that Paul wrote the Book of Hebrews because of the parallelismsí in Hebrews doctrinally to much of Paulís other letters, that there are parallels in the doctrine so since Paulís letters and this book seem to have parallel doctrines in them, they just ascribe it to Paul but there are certain things about the book that couldnít be written by Paul, that other scholars say that he couldnít have written Ė for one the language in Hebrews is written on the highest order of classical Greek, so throughout this series obviously we are going to use a good bit of Greek because you really canít understand much of it in English because the writer wrote it in such classical Greek. 

Well Paul wasnít a classical Greek writer, nothing else he wrote was in classical Greek.  Everything that he wrote was in common Greek.  This is written in classical Greek so he would have to really come up another notch in his writing style.  Itís almost like when you read a novel, most novels are written on a fourth and fifth grade reading level Ė everybody knows that right.  Most novels are written on a fourth or fifth grade reading level.  The newspaper, the AJC, they are written on 9th grade reading levels so a person with a 9th grade education could be able to read and understand the newspaper pretty proficiently but whenever you get into the classical literature, when you get into literature of different periods and seasons throughout English and Britain and all the rest, classical literature is written on college level writing skills and writing styles.  So a person who is in 9th grade would have a difficult time understanding classical literature, not like he would have understanding a good novel.  Thatís writing styles. 

Hebrews is written on one of those high level writing styles, whereas Paul normally wrote on a common level writing style in the Greek language so many say he couldíve wrote it because of that.  Another reason why many said that Paul couldíve have written this particular book is because of the way the arguments are presented.  Paul presents his arguments in his epistles from a pastoral perspective.  When you read Paulís letters, you can almost hear and feel the passion of his heart coming through on the pages.  You can see the tears of Paul in many of the letters he is writing.  Often he is very open with his emotions while he is writing these letters.  He goes into these parenthesis where he puts a two chapter parenthesis, all about how he feels about a subject, how he feels about the people he is writing to.  HE always signs his letters in the beginning with some greeting of affection and ends it at the end with some salutation of affection because Paul is a pastor so heís writing as a pastor.

The fellow who wrote this book is not a pastor because his arguments are not pastoral at all, they are philosophical.  I mean whenever you read this, this is a well-stated argument for the purpose of proving to a Jew that Christ is better than Judaism.  And there is no emotion in it whatsoever.  A few passages here and there are trickled with emotion but it is basically written for argument purpose, for argument sake.  So we find difficulty in understanding certain passages in the Book of Hebrews.  One in particular is the Hebrews 6 (you donít want to go there, we will get to it later on) but in Chapter 6 it almost sounds like the writer is saying if you leave Christ you have lost your salvation, you ainít saved, you are going to hell and there is no chance for you ever to get saved again because if you read chapter 6 from a passionate, emotional perspective you are going to close the book, get on your knees and say ďGod am I going to heavenĒ but if you read chapter 6 from a philosophical perspective you will ask questions about why he said what he said, who was he writing to when he wrote that, and what was the condition of the people in which he was writing and what was the purpose of his argument and we will get to that when we get to that particular area.

So itís been stated that several different people wrote the book, Barnabas, Apollos, some said Priscilla and Aquila wrote it, or Silas . . . one of our Christian forefathers, whose name is Origen, said ďGod only knows who wrote the book of Hebrews and the truth is God only knows who wrote the Book of Hebrews, but whoever wrote this book, wrote this book from the perspective of trying to persuade people who were tempted to backslide into a system of religious practices, he wrote this book to convince this book not to do it. 

Before we get into chapter 1 I want to give you a story that kind of brought home to me what this book really means.  I was speaking with a man who was well in his 50ís I suspect, probably a little older than that but Iím going to say 50ís.  He wasnít in his early 50ís, had to be in his later 50ís and he was mourning the death of his father and he was crying, I mean he was crying profusely over the death of his father.  And as I sat there I began to realize there is something a little bit different about this manís cry than a normal cry for the death of his father.  So we began to talk and this is what he said ďMy father was the closest thing that I had to GodĒ.  He said ďMy father was the closest thing that I had to God and now heís goneĒ.  What he saw was his father being his priest to God.  His father was the only link the man had to God and when his father died, the only link the man had to God had now died.  The vehicle through which the man received spiritual expression was dead. 

Now what he needed for me to do was not to console him in the loss of his father.  I did that because that was appropriate at the moment but I wouldíve done him a disservice if I consoled him over the loss of his father without giving him another hope.  See what he had lost was his hope in God because his hope in God was based in a person.  Are you getting what Iím saying?  So my job was to transition him to a new hope and if I can get his hope from his father over to Jesus, here he would see that he didnít lose anything, he didnít lose a link to God at all.  As a matter of fact he never had a link to God through his father because there is only one way to God and that is through Jesus Christ.  Are you kind of getting what Iím saying? 

The moment that I realized that is the moment that it hit me like a ton of bricks, thatís what the book is about.  Itís about trying to get people who are trusting anything, anything to get them in a right relationship with God, to stop trusting that.  Number 1, anything you trust to try and get you into a right relationship with God other than Jesus, stop trusting that because nothing you trust to get you right with God other than Jesus will ever be successful.  The only thing that is successful in bringing us to God is Jesus Christ so many people are relying on tradition, the biggest one is tradition, the biggest one is religion, tradition, religious tradition Ė many people are depending on their traditional religious experience to bring them to God.

So what happens is that they feel the only way that I can connect with God is if I am at church, in the church I grew up in, or in the denomination I grew up in, doing the things we always did in our denomination, though we never knew why we did them, but thatís how we connected with God.  So Iíve got to have all of the rites and the rituals in my traditional experience intact so I can hear from God.  Many people cannot hear from God unless they hear from God through the morays and through the eyes of their traditional experience. 

So you take a Baptist born, Baptist bred, Baptist fed and Baptist dead, you take a Baptist person out of a Baptist experience and tell him hear from God and he crumbles because he doesnít know God outside of baptistness.  Or you take a Methodist person and you take them out of that Methodist experience and tell them to hear from God and they crumble because they donít know God outside of that Methodist experience.  Or you take a person who found Christ in college and they had an experience with God in college and they had their buddies and friends who discipled them and evangelized them into the faith in college and when they graduate, guess what, their faith plummets because they did not find Christ, they found a college experience that pointed them toward God.  Are you hearing what Iím saying?

Just today, I was talking to a brother just today and we were dealing and talking about, he has a girlfriend and his girlfriend is a strong Christian, strong believer and I just wanted to find out so bad where his girlfriend was so I could talk to her.  After I tell you what I talked to him about you will want to know why, youíll find out why.  So he said he had a girlfriend and she was just a strong believer, strong Christian and loved God and he said ďShe is telling me that she wants me to become more spiritualĒ.  And I said ďWell I understand thatĒ and she is saying we are going to slow up the relationship until I do it, and so he said ďYou are a pastor, whereís your church.  I want to do it somewhereĒ.  And I looked at him and I go ďWhatĒ?  So I say my church is located at such and such . . . wait a minute, this guy is getting ready to have a spiritual experience that is based in the context of a girlfriend relationship which means if the relationship ever goes south, so goes his spiritual experience.  Or if the girlfriend ever becomes a wife, he no longer has a need for the spiritual experience.  This brother is tempted to make a confession for the wrong reason, thereby he makes a confession that is not genuine and if it is not genuine, he will hold on intellectually to what he knows is true but he wonít give his heart to what he knows is true, thereby when this brother backslides how great will that backslide be.  It may even be impossible to renew him again unto repentance.  Are you hearing what Iím saying? 

So I said ďMan donít do this for herĒ.  He said ďI know I need to do it for myselfĒ.  Donít do it for yourself, do it for Jesusí sake.  Do it because somebody died for you and gave their life for you.  So I started ministering to him, witnessing to him, and he stopped me and he said ďYeah, yeah, I pray all the time. Iíve been baptized, Iíve been baptized beforeĒ.  Do you see how he doesnít know the Savior, he just knows the religious context in which he met God.  The most dangerous thing that can happen to any person whose trying to know God is religion.  It is the most dangerous.  I didnítí say it was evil, and ugly and bad, I didnít say that but I said ďitís dangerousĒ because religion can take your focus off of a relationship.  And whenever you try to push a person toward a relationship with Jesus what do they do in their resistance to go into that relationship.  They fall back on their religion and they figure leave me alone, Iím right with God, donít you see Iím religious.  And thatís what the Hebrews were doing. 

So the writer begins first of all by trying to state to them how much better Christ is than the things they learned in their religion.  So he begins, no introduction of who he is, no compassion, no to the saints spread abroad, grace and peace be multiplied unto you, he says

Hebrews 1

God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,

Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;

Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high:

Now what he just did is he turned the emphasis from the prophets of old, thatís what it says in verse 1, ďunto our fathers by the prophetsĒ, and he turns the focus and the emphasis from the prophets over to the son.  Look at the comparison and contrast that he makes in the first three verses.  Iíll give you a couple things on one side of the pendulum swing.  Here is the religious side.  First of all you have the prophets, and the prophets are speaking for God but they are having partial revelation of Godís word.  Look at what it says. 

Not all the time but in sundry times, and not in one way but in many different ways.  Not throughout all time, but in the past time.  You see how partial that is.  He says the prophet spoke for God but they didnít speak for God in totality, they spoke for God in various times which means the prophet wasnít always inspired.  There were times when a prophet said something and it was God inspiring him and it was the Word of God being spoken through the prophet.  There were other times when the prophet said things and it wasnít inspired, God wasnít talking through him and you could not weigh which was which.  Then the prophet would speak in many different ways.  I mean David sang it, David wrote it in poetry, Moses wrote it as history, Samuel wrote it through Chronicles, I mean they spoke in many different ways.  The Judges didnít write it at all, they killed you.  They spoke in many different ways.  So you donít know, you could not predict how God was going to talk.  You didnít know if it was going to be a cloud this time or a fire that time, or the earth was going to open up the next time or if you were going to catch a vision or have a dream or see a handwriting on the wall.  You had no idea how God was going to talk.  This was a good word but it was given to us through non-credible means.  We could trust it only but so much because we could not test it on any particular standard.  Are you hearing what Iím saying?

As a matter of fact some prophets were even tempted to curse Israel for money.  Remember Balaam, and if he had done it they probably wouldíve believed him.  Another prophet God told him to go and do a certain thing and come right back and talk to nobody, come straight back.  He went, he did it and on his way back he met another prophet.  And the other prophet said, what did God tell you to do?  Well God told me to say this and I said it and to go straight back, donít talk to nobody, Iím not supposed to be talking to you.  He says well God told me to tell you to come over to my house, letís sit down and have a meal, sit down and chit chat awhile, barbeque, eat some ribs.  He said ďGod told you thatĒ?  Yeah God told me that, so the other prophet went with the other prophet, they went to the manís house, sat down, ate some ribs, and then God spoke to the man for real.  And the prophet who called him aside told the one who was originally given the word to go straight there and straight back, he said ďOops, God just spoke to me again and told me to tell you that He is going to kill you because you didnít do what He told you to do the first time.  You really wasnít supposed to be talking to me.  Sorry.  So the man leaves his house, he leaves the barbeque, and he gets out in his car and here comes a lion and eats him up.  Thatís true you all.  You looking at me like that is a cleverly Ė he made that up; thatís real good.  Thatís the Bible, thatís very true. 

So there was no way to test if this thing was coming from God or not.  Thatís why Iím real skeptical about the way folks say they are hearing from God today.  It ainít nothing but religious tradition, thatís all it is.  I mean they are hearing from God through all kinds of crazy foolishness.  One church was saying that God was speaking through gold dust falling through the sky.  Another church said God was speaking through Ė I mean just crazy different things, everybody has God saying something different.  There is one fellow on TV now, I mean he gets on TV and he goes into this trance and he starts speaking in tongues and going into this trance and telling you to run to your phone and give him some money because God just told him Ė you canít trust it.  Thatís why Peter said ďHey thatís the best that could happen back then because there was no standard, Christ hadnít come.  Peter said but we have a more sure word of prophecy now because we have a standard.  You measure everything that you hear the prophets say, you measure it by the rule of the word of God and Jesus said ďLo I come in the volume of the book, the whole thing is written about me.  Are you hearing what Iím saying? 

And so the first parallel here is that you have the prophets on this side that were speaking and they spoke in partial terms.  Then it says that these prophets who spoke in these partial terms they spoke unto the fathers, do you see that?  Itís the Greek word for patriarch.  The Greek word for the one who is the patriarch in the family which means that everybody couldnít hear the word, only certain ones could receive what the prophets were saying.  The fathers, the chief priests, the elders, those who were in charge, the same idea was passed along through scribes and Phariseeism.  The common people couldnít know God, only scribes and Pharisees could know God. 

The same idea seeped into the Christian faith.  Constantine made Christianity a form of religion of Rome in 300 or so AD and from that religion came the Universal Church or the Catholic Church, and the Catholic Church needed a papacy or a hierarchy between clergy and laity which God says ďI hateĒ, thatís the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, ďI hate thatĒ God said in the Book of Revelations but I guess they didnít read Revelations; they had their own way of interpreting it, and then the priests and the fathers and the Catholic Pope and the rest said ďWe are the only ones God speaks toĒ, the same thing that was said in the old times, same thing, so much so that you could not talk to God on your own.  You needed a priest to talk to God and in Catholicism you need rosary beads or some saint of old or Mary to talk to God.  Do you see the issue here?  What it did was it robbed from the people the closeness of Christ, it took the closeness of the word from them and made the word distant to them.  And they were fine with that, they loved it.  I mean thatís one less thing I have to worry about.  If I canít hear from God then I donít have to do anything He says, and what happens in the modern church today many people donít believe God can talk to me.  ďWho me, God would speak to me.  No God speaks to the bishop, God speaks to pastor, God speaks to Rev. Harris, not meĒ.  And so here comes Rev. Harris, he stands up and he says ďYouíve got to do this, this and thisĒ and guess what you all do, you run and go do it.  Not you all, Iím just playing.  Because we donít want to hear from the son himself.  We want to hear from the prophets because if we hear from the son thatís too much like a personal relationship.  We would be much more satisfied if the prophets could tell us what the son said and we just trust the prophets.  And if one of the prophets ever fall, our faith follows just as my friend today and his girlfriend.

So hereís the other side of the pendulum swing.  He says ďIn these last days he has spoken unto us, not the fathers, but God has spoken unto us not by his prophets but by His son.  He says and by the way the son is so much better than the prophets because he has been appointed the heir of all things.  That means everything that exists today Jesus Christ is the owner of it.  There is no institution that Jesus does not own.  There is no entity that Jesus does not own.  There is no establishment that Jesus does not own.  He owns the corporate world, he owns the private sector, he owns the political world, and he owns the governmental structure.  Everything he owns.  He sets up a king and he takes down another.  He owns the cattle and the thousand hills.  Every resource possible he owns.  So if you are going to take anybodyís word for it take the fellow who owns it all. 

He says and by the way, it wasnít just that he speaks to us by his son, but He also made him the owner of all things and whom also he made the worlds.  He says here that he made the worlds, the universe, the ages.  We understand world in time and space, from a time space continuum, so our idea of world is the time that we experience, human time and the space we experience, he says this is not just one time and space, this is many times and spaces.  So folks say ďIs there life on any other planetĒ.  Well I donít know but if it is he owns that too.  Are there aliens?  I have no idea but if there is he owns that too.  And heís been owning it because he made it and he made it through all time and all space.  Do you see the awesomeness of this man who now is doing the talking?

Who being the brightness of His glory.  The word brightness is the word of the rays that come from a light, the rays coming from a light.  Everybody try your best to look at one of these lights here behind me, just donít look too hard, just kind of look at it; itís hard to see the light isnít it because the light is not whatís bothering you, itís the rays coming from the light thatís bothering you.  If we turn the rays off, the fixture ceases to be light.  You canít separate light from its rays.  The brightness of Godís glory, God is God, His glory are His rays.  He said ďJesus is the rays that comes from the brightness of God.  Jesus is the brightness of the Father.  If you take away Jesus you take away the glory of the Father. 

Now Heís telling this to people who know that the Bible says God said I will share My glory with nobody.  So in order for Christ to be the glory of the Father, He doesnít share in that glory, he is that glory, which makes Christ and God the same.  As if you couldnít get it from the first picture, he says ďAnd he is the express imageĒ Ė write in your notes or in your margin the exact representation.  He is the express image of His Ė this is the word, youíve got to write it down Ė person.  Person means nature.  Okay, how many of you guys have children?  Dad, father, raise your hand.  If you have a son raise your hand.  We would say that son is the spitting image of you, spitting image, you look just like him, but thatís in the physical appearance.  He is not the spitting image of your person, heís the spitting image of your faÁade, your body, your physical features, your physique.  He said this isnít about how God looks, this is about who God is.  He said the very nature of God is identical to who Christ is.  So whenever you hear God is love, the love that God is thatís Jesus.  When you hear God is gracious, the grace that God is thatís Jesus.  When you hear God is full of mercy, the mercy that God is full of, thatís Jesus.  Hold your place there and come back to John real quick. 

John 1:16-20

16 And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.  [Speaking of Christ]

17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

18 No man hath seen God at any time, [Nobody has seen God at any time] the only begotten Son [thatís Jesus], which is in the bosom of the Father, [look at this word] he hath declared him.

The word for ďdeclaredĒ is the Greek word ďExegeoĒ.  Exegeo is where we get our word ĎexegesisĒ.  Exegesis is what we do to a text to pull out of the text exactly whatís in the text.  Itís how we pull out of the text what is in the text.  He said ďthat the son, the only begotten son, has exegeo God.  The son is the exegesis of the Father.  The son is how we pull out of the Father exactly whatís in Him.  If you want to know whatís in the Father the son pulls Him out.  Thatís why whenever Phillip said

John 14:9

Philip saith unto him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us.

Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father?

Are you hearing what Iím saying to you?  Heís trying to tell these people donít go back to religion.  Donít go back to some religious experience because religion is the pseudo thing, itís the pseudo substance.  He says Iíve got the real thing here. 

Come back to Hebrews 1.  Who being the brightness of His glory, the express image of His person and upholding all things by the word of His power Ė Iím trying to move on but each phrase is jumping out at me saying ďPlease say something about meĒ.  Now the word of His power is the exact same thing he is trying to contrast with the prophetís word.  He says the prophetís word was different in different times, it was untrusted, you didnít know how it was going to come, you didnít know when it was going to come, he says ďBut Godís word is so consistent and so faithful that Heís upholding everything you see by His word.  Heís holding everything up by His word. 

Now the interesting thing here is that I thought that the word, for word, in the Greek was the word logos here, but itís not the word logos here.  The word here is the word ďRhemaĒ.  Logos is the perceived thought, thatís logos, it is the thinking of the word.  Rhema is when the word that has been thought actually gets spoken and put into action.  Rhema is whenever I am thinking it and what the Bible says is ďGod ainít got to say it, thinking it is enough.  But donít let Him say it because if He says it it has to come to pass.  When it said rhema here, here is what it means.  Itís not the thought that holds up the world, it is the word spoken that holds up the world.  Well the word that has been spoken has already been spoken.  There is no new revelation, there is no revelation yet to come because if there was a revelation still yet to come, that means something ainít being held up.  It is finished, this is a done deal, on the 7th day God rested so everything God intended to say to hold up the world for all ages, throughout all times, He has already said it.  Isnít that something?  So while we are sitting here worrying about bills and burdens and trouble and trials and crisis and unexpected circumstances and we are wondering God ďWhat is going to happen, can you bring me out of that Ė here is what He is saying, ďThe rhema has already been spoken and the fact that God spoke it back in Genesis is upholding all that takes place in the universe.  There is nothing happening in this universe that God hadnít already spoken a word to hold it up.  This means the order of the progression of all of life exists because God has already spoken His word. 

So Jesus says when you pray I want you to pray this.

Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.  Donít pray for some new word, some new revelation, some new thing Ė uh uh- pray that what He already said He makes good on.  Are you hearing what Iím saying? 

when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high:

Being made so much better than the angels,

Okay, now weíve got one aspect here and that is in religion heís made better than the prophets.  Here in verse #4 he is made better than the angels.

as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.

For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?

And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.

Stop there.  He is telling these Hebrews, he is saying ďHey donít go back to Judaism because the prophets of Judaism are unreliable, they are not as good as the son.  Donít go back to Judaism because the angels through which became the ministration of Judaism is unreliable, itís not as good as the son.  Angels represent spiritual beings, right.  People who want to sense God through spiritual beings but donít really want to have a relationship with Jesus, folks who want to have some contact with the heavenlies but not the God of the heavenlies.  So what they do is they dibble and dabble in angelic order and they call it your deeper self, your better self, meditation, they call it getting in touch with your spiritual you, your spiritual side Ė all that kind of stuff Ė not Jesus.  And the only way you can have a relationship with God is through Jesus.  He says the spiritual world is nowhere near in comparison to Christ.  Look at what he says here, go back, go back.

Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.

It says he has obtained a more excellent name than they have.  The name of Christ represents the person of Christ.  He says whoever an angel is cannot be for you who Jesus is.  An angel cannot do what Jesus can do.  I was listening to this one minister Ė and Iím not trying to dog out any particular minister, but I am dogging out particular teachings Ė there is a teaching that says you can command your angel, you can tell your angel what to do, you can speak and your angel is going to respond to you Ė NO, sirree bob, your angel cannot be anything to you.  Nothing.  Your angel can only do what God bids him to do, only what God Ė he only has one master and that is God.  He cannot be your Jireh, your Nisee, your Shama, your Shaloam, your __________, your sitkenu, he canít be that Ė only Jehovah can be that.  And whenever you rely on an angel to bring deliverance, or power, or victory or salvation or anything, you remove Christ from His job and you put an angel in Christís job.  Are you hearing what Iím saying? 

Donít ever refer to God anymore, no more will you ever say ďThe man upstairsĒ, no more.  You know why?  Because thereís a whole lot of people upstairs.  Heís got a host of angels.  You need to be specific.  You need to be detailed as to which man you are talking about upstairs so that you will not apply reverence and worship that only God deserves to an angel.  It bothers me whenever Ė I mean God will do something significant and they will say ďSomebody up there likes meĒ Ė Iím like there ainít but one somebody up there who likes you and thatís God.  God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit Ė three in one Ė Heís the only one who likes you.  No angel likes you up there.  Angels love Him, not you.  Are you understanding what Iím saying?

So he says why would you put your trust in angels. 

To which of the angels has he ever said

For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? [Not one] 

I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?  [Not one]

Which of the angels did he ever say this to?

And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.

He told the angels to worship the one He brought.  Not the Christ in glory; they were already worshipping him.  He told the angels worship the Christ also that comes on the earth.  Worship the baby who is wrapped in swaddling clothes.  Now the scripture here is very clear that man, humans, are made a little lower than the angels, only in terms of the order of beings.  Christ became a man which means he wouldíve been made a little lower than the angels, right.  But God said ďDonít get this confused angels, heís only made a little lower in the flesh but he is still God in the flesh.  You worship him while he is on the earth so much so that an angelic host got together, came down and told the shepherds ďGlory to God in the highestĒ.  Are you hearing what Iím saying to you?  And if the angels are commanded to worship him, even in his incarnate state, how much more should we?  Never rely on anything to bring you Godís presence, His power, His answer, His victory, His deliverance, other than God.  And the only way you get to know God is through the son Jesus.  Are you hearing me?

Flip over if you would to chapter 3.  And it says he isnít just better than the prophets in chapter 1, he isnít just better than the angels in verses 4, 5 & 6, but he is also better than Moses.  Now we are talking about a serious fellow here when you talk about Moses.  Iíll read it first.

Hebrews 3

Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus;  [Not Moses, Christ Jesus]

Who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house.  [Moses was faithful too Ė Jesus was faithful, Moses was faithful]

For this man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house.

For every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God.

And Moses verily was faithful in all his house, [but Moses was faithful] as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after;

But Christ [was not faithful as a servant, he was faithful] as a son [He wasnít in somebody elseís house, he was in his own house] over his own house; [now I know you are wondering whose the house, donít you] whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.

Hereís what he is saying.  There are two houses here, there are two houses here.  There is a house that the church of Israel, the old Israel church, the nation of Israel coming out of Egypt through the Red Sea, in the land of the wilderness, in the land of promise Ė thatís the old house.  He said Moses served in that house but Moses was in the house as a servant of God.  He didnít own the house.  He could only do what God gave him power and authority to do because he didnít own the house.  He was a slave to those in the house but there is another house, a second house, the second house if not the old nation of Israel, the second house is the new nation of the church.  We are the body of Christ, we are the saved ones, we are the ones who have professed Christ as our savior and bought by his blood.  Since his blood bought us that means he owns the house.  So Moses did what Moses did as a slave, Jesus does what Jesus does as the owner.  Moses could not die for the people of Israel because he himself is a slave.  Jesus could die for his house because he himself is the owner.  Why would you want to leave the house that is under the protection of the owner, to go back to a house that is just controlled by a slave?  This is a word about backsliding.  There are two houses.  The first house is the house of sin and Satan.  The other house is the house of the body of Christ, why would you want to leave this house whose owner protects you and go to the other house who owner destroys you.  Do you see how he is logically moving through the arguments to say to us, don't go back, donít go back.  Is anybody catching this? 

Flip over to chapter 4 please.

Heís not just better than the prophets, heís not just better than the angels, heís not just better than Moses Ė I didnít even tell you why Moses is so significant Ė Iíll tell you next week I guess Ė heís not just better than Moses, but heís also offering a better deal.  Look at verse 1. 

Hebrews 4

Let us therefore fear [be careful, be afraid, be cautious, take heart, take heed], lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.

For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them [you see that us and them Ė old and new]: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.

For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.

For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works.  [Thatís a heavy statement.  We ainít talking about me and you resting from our works, we are talking about God.  What we do and what He does is two different jobs.]

And in this place again, [he says ďIf, If, If] If they shall enter into my rest.

Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief:

Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, [You canít just get into this rest, you just canít wait forever] Today, after so long a time; as it is said, Today if ye will hear his voice, [please donít] harden not your hearts.

For if Jesus had given them rest [and that Jesus is Joshua, look in your margins], then would he not afterward have spoken of another day.

Here is what he is saying.  He says there are two groups of people and thereís two types of rest.  The first group of people are those who heard about the Messiah, the gospel but would not believe it and would not receive it.  They were looking for Joshua to give them rest.  The second group of people are those who heard the same message but rather than looking to Joshua they were looking to Christ.  He says the rest that Christ offers is a total rest.  The rest of the old covenant is a rest that is incomplete because if it were enough rest for you, then you wouldnít have to look for another rest.  What is this whole rest thing?  Glad you asked. 

Rest has to do with my ceasing from the labor of my life.  I am no longer trying to live my life so that I can be pleasing, so God can be pleased with me.  I am not living my life to make it to heaven, living my life to get to know God, he says I am resting in the fact that God has already given me all the salvation I can ever get.  He has opened the door so I can come walking in anytime I want.  There is nothing else that needs to be done to make God satisfied with me because grace has already been given; all Iíve gotta do now is say ďYes to the rest or no to the restĒ, thatís it.  Here is what he is teaching.

Why would you knowing the open door that God has given you through Jesus Christ, knowing the rest that He has given you through Christ, why would you choose to go back to this old system of working to please God, working to make Him happy, working to make Him accept you, and working to make Him receive you, and working to get some of His grace Ė why would you go back to that, when all  youíve got to do is walk in the door that has already been opened for you. 

Now I know what you are saying ďNobody would do that, I donít thinkĒ.  No they do it all the time.  There are people who are saved and they still try to go back to that working and no rest.  Thatís why they fall into sin.  Sin is nothing more but evidence of our failure to work our way into heaven.  Whenever you are sanctified you rest in His grace and His grace produces a love within you that pulls you toward God by love.  Whenever you have a mentality that Iíve gotta do, Iíve gotta do, Iíve gotta do, you will always fail.  You become conscious of sin and thatís how you get a stronghold.  People who are in legalistic forms of life where they are just legalistic in their life, I guarantee you theyíve got sin issues deep in their heart. 

I remember when I used to go to a church, I used to go to this church often in my hometown as a little kid.  You couldnít go to the movies, you couldnít do nothing.  Women couldnít wear lipstick, couldnít wear no makeup, you had to put a [hat] on your head every time you went to church.  I mean you could not do anything.  So I thought these folks were holy boy, these are some holy people.  Man those people were doing everything.  They were doing EVERYTHING.  You know why they were sinning so much, because they were lifting up the law, lifting up the law, lifting up the law.  Paul said that when the law came sin revived and I died.  The moment you tell somebody donít touch that fruit, the first thing they want to do is touch the fruit.  But tell them touch this fruit, think this way, follow this lead, and when they touch the Tree of Life they go to live in life.  Sin comes whenever legalism is raised.  The writer here is saying why would you go back to something that reminds you of how sinful you are and something that reminds you of how much youíve gotta work and leave something that tells you that you are already delivered and already set free. 

Jesus is so much better than the old legalistic law.  He is so much better than the angels.  He is so much better than Moses, and He is so much better than the prophets.  Heís the best thing going today Ė DONíT GO BACK.  Give Him praise, give Him glory.  Hallelujah. 

[1] Matthew 24:2

And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.

 

[2] 2198. zao dzah'-o a primary verb; to live (literally or figuratively):--life(-time), (a-)live(-ly), quick.

 



 


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