Hebrews; The 5th Gospel

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

The book of Hebrews should definitely be included with the other four gospels. It is a continuation of the Life of Jesus. It gets us up to date on what Jesus is currently doing. Jesus did not just ride off in the sunset after the resurrection. He is actively changing lives, healing and forgiving just like when He walked the earth. So I like to call the book of Hebrews the fifth gospel, right after Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

Hebrews was written for two reasons.

  1. To turn people’s attention to Jesus’ ministry in the heavenly sanctuary. This book, written just 4 or 5 years before the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, was meant to turn the heads of people away from the earthly sanctuary. Even today people in Israel weep for the old sanctuary to be rebuilt. Instead they should be looking at Jesus and where He is today. They should put their hope in Jesus and not a man made temple. Just as the book of Hebrews directed people to put their hope in contemplating Jesus instead of a temple that was soon to collapse, so today Hebrews encourages us to put our hope in Jesus instead of a social security system that is about to collapse or a stock market that may soon crumble and fall.
  2. To encourage people’s faith that Jesus is the Messiah and will return. The new Christian believers were expecting Jesus to return right away, and many, especially in the face of persecution were losing faith when He did not come back right away. Hebrews 1 points out that Jesus was God. Hebrews 2 points out that this God did indeed become a man just like us. In Hebrews 3 and on, it points us to what Jesus is currently doing as our High Priest before He returns.

 

Here is a brief summary:

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;  Hebrews 1:1-2

This same Jesus who came to earth and died, is also God. He made the worlds! Many were beginning to doubt if He was the Messiah since He did not come right back. Shall we look for another? No. Jesus was God.

Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For verily he took not on [him the nature of] angels; but he took on [him] the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto [his] brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things [pertaining] to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.  Hebrews 2:14-18

This same Jesus who is God also became a man just like us.

Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus;  Hebrews 3:1

Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast [our] profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as [we are, yet] without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.  Hebrews 4:14-16

Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. Hebrews 7:25

This [is] the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.  Hebrews 10:16-17

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset [us], and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of [our] faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.  Hebrews 12:1-4

This same God who became a man is now our High Priest. Did you notice in Hebrews 7:25 that not only does He live as our intercessor, but it is the reason why He lives. We are the reason He came to earth. We are the reason He died and we are the reason He rose again. He is obsessed with us! He loves us! His whole universe revolves around us. Does your universe revolve around Him?

And Moses verily [was] faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after; But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.  Hebrews 3:5-6

For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end. Hebrews 3:14

Let us hold fast the profession of [our] faith without wavering; (for he [is] faithful that promised;)And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some [is]; but exhorting [one another]: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins. Hebrews 10:23-26

Time and time again Hebrews encourages us to hold fast our profession and confidence, that Jesus is the Messiah and will return. Hebrews 10:26 is not telling us there is no forgiveness if we willfully make a mistake. Hebrews is talking about the sin of unbelief. That is what the whole book is about, affirming our belief, profession and confidence that Jesus is the Messiah and will return. The point being made is that if after all the evidence we have that Jesus is the Messiah, if we choose not to believe, there will not be another Messiah come who will make a sacrifice for sin. Jesus is that Messiah. He died for us. He is interceding for us now and will return. Don’t lose hope! Don’t lose confidence! Don’t lose your profession! Encourage each other more and more that Jesus is our savior as the day approaches when He will return!

So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation. Hebrews 9:28

Redemption in Romans, Lesson 5

I am writing today from the Beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Wednesday’s section of this week’s SS lesson asks the question,“The principle that man can save himself by his own works lay at the foundation of every heathen religion. . . . Wherever it is held, men have no barrier against sin.”—Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, pp. 35, 36. What does this mean? Why does the idea that we can save ourselves through our works leave us so open to sin?”  I believe that question is answered well in Patriarchs and Prophets, page 717 concerning David’s sin and repentance. 

” The Bible has little to say in praise of men. Little space is given to recounting the virtues of even the best men who have ever lived. This silence is not without purpose; it is not without a lesson. All the good qualities that men possess are the gift of God; their good deeds are performed by the grace of God through Christ. Since they owe all to God the glory of whatever they are or do belongs to Him alone; they are but instruments in His hands. More than this–as all the lessons of Bible history teach–it is a perilous thing to praise or exalt men; for if one comes to lose sight of his entire dependence on God, and to trust to his own strength, he is sure to fall. Man is contending with foes who are stronger than he. “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against wicked spirits in high places.” Ephesians 6:12, margin. It is impossible for us in our own strength to maintain the conflict; and whatever diverts the mind from God, whatever leads to self-exaltation or to self-dependence, is surely preparing the way for our overthrow. The tenor of the Bible is to inculcate distrust of human power and to encourage trust in divine power. 

     It was the spirit of self-confidence and self-exaltation that prepared the way for David’s fall. Flattery and the subtle allurements of power and luxury were not without effect upon him. Intercourse with surrounding nations also exerted an influence for evil. According to the customs prevailing among Eastern rulers, crimes not to be tolerated in subjects were uncondemned in the king; the monarch was not under obligation to exercise the same self-restraint as the subject. All this tended to lessen David’s sense of the exceeding sinfulness of sin. And instead of relying in humility upon the power of Jehovah, he began to trust to his own wisdom and might. As soon as Satan can separate the soul from God, the only Source of strength, he will seek to arouse the unholy desires of man’s carnal nature. The work of the enemy is not abrupt; it is not, at the outset, sudden and startling; it is a secret undermining of the strongholds of principle. It begins in apparently small things–the neglect to be true to God and to rely upon Him wholly, the disposition to follow the customs and practices of the world.”

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You may find more studies and devotionals at In Light Of The Cross.