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Posted by on in Devotionals
  • Christ is able to save forever – a great promise.

There is two sides of this coin I want to look at: -
1)    The idea that we are saved forever, because Christ continually intercedes on our behalf means that there is something eternal that we must be being saved from.  We ofcourse know in part that this is our continual obedience to our sinful nature, while we are in the process of continual sanctification.  Remember no one is sinless except Jesus

For we have as high priest, not one who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tested in all respects like ourselves, but without sin

Hebrews 4:15

And also in part that we need saving from God.  The reason for this is that the consequence of sin is death, and the Father says Vengeance is mine.  This is not to say that the image we have of God is a Hateful being whom we are to fear like we might fear a drunk father who beats and abuses his children, but rather he is a just and Holy Father, who by his very nature is unable to look upon sin and therefore sinners lest we be consumed by his glory.  Remember the priests of the Hebrew Scriptures would tie rope around their ankle when they entered the holy of holies, in case they were killed by Gods presence, and so the body could be pulled out.  It is important to keep in mind while reading through the book of Hebrews that the baby Jesus, the great high priest, the salvation plan, the end game, was all conceived and brought to bear by God the Father, and not Jesus,  Jesus was the faithful son who stood up and accepted the challenge, firstly when he left heaven and entered our world, and again in the garden as he earnestly prayed to his Father “not my will but yours”.

2)    Since the ever living Christ intercedes for believers we can have great confidence that we will never perish, and in fact can know that all things in our lives will work together for good (Rom 8:28) for God the Father will always answer the prayers of his Son.

  • He always lives to make intercession for us

Taking this thought further, we expand on the idea that our salvation rests on a single moment in time when we performed some act, or made some decision or commitment way back when and now we are saved.  Nor does it mean that our salvation rests on the past work of Christ.   While Jesus was on the cross he said “It is finished” a statement of truth that the old covenant had passed and the new covenant built on His sacrifice and the outpouring of his blood had come.  But that was not the end of the story in our relationship with Jesus as our saviour, where we are being co-opted into the kingdom as co-heirs of the Fathers grace, nor the end of the story for our relationship with the Father. We are in a process of continual sanctification, because of the work of Christ on the Cross which is now worked out in heaven by his continual prayers of intercession for those who believe in His name

34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us

Romans 8:34 (ESV)

And

2 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.

1 John 2:1 (ESV)

Which leads me onto the 3rd and final main point at stake here: -

  • This eternal intercession and eternal salvation are for those who draw near to God through Christ.

Hebrews is continually reminding us that our salvation is both assured by the work of Christ, but also an on-going relationship between us and Jesus, and Jesus and the Father, and should we neglect our relationship with Jesus our great High priest who intercedes to the Father on our behalf, we do so at our own peril.
We have had this idea perpetuated over and over again throughout the book of Hebrews

2:1 Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.
3:6 But Christ is faithful over God's house as a son. And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.
3:12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.
3:14 For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.
4:11 Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so (I)that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.
4:14 Since then we have (Q)a great high priest (R)who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, (S)let us hold fast our confession.
5:9 And (R)being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, 10 being designated by God a high priest (S)after the order of Melchizedek.
6:11 And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance (U)of hope until the end.

And now we have this here is verse 27 of Chapter 7

He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through him.

Hebrews7:27

It is this continual relationship of us drawing near to the Father as we have our sins forgiven through Christ’s sacrifice AND his continual interceding on our behalf.

John piper illustrates this with the way it looked when our High Priest was on the earth.

In Luke 22:31-32 Jesus says to Peter: "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers." So already Jesus was interceding for his own when he was on the earth. And what he was praying was for our faith—that our faith not fail. (See his high priestly prayer in John 17:11,15, etc.)
One of the beauties of what Jesus prays for on our behalf can be found in at the end of this book, Hebrews 13:20 -21
20 Now may the God of peace ewho brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, 21 equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

John Piper DesiringGod.org

What a beautiful benediction to end on.   After all the warnings of falling away, after all the pleading to strive for solid food and not milk, after all the scary apocalyptic ideas of the judgement of the Father.. Here we end on Jesus praying for us that the Father would equip us with all that we will need to do his will, that we might become pleasing in his sight, not by what we have done, but because of what Jesus did when he bore our sins on the Cross, and now stands between us and the Father that the Righteous, Just and Holy God sees not our disobedience, but rather looks upon the faithfulness and perfectness of His Son and our brother Jesus Christ to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

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Posted by on in Devotionals

1Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

Hebrews 1:1-4

You know I was reading about David Cameron’s speech the other day about Christianity and the UK.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2075205/Speak-Christianity-Cameron-tells-Archbishop-PM-calls-Church-defend-values-moral-code-Bible.html#axzz2Km1gr3dU


It’s interesting that Christians have been praying for this for years and when it finally happens. Some of those Christians  still complain about it.   A couple of thoughts  on this are that 1) It took courage to speak about this, especially when being in a coalition government, and when there is so much apathy and disdain towards Christianity, not from other faiths but from the ever increasing onslaught of the humanist society.  The 2nd thing I applaud him for was his honesty.  He was not trying to make himself out to be the believer he isn’t nor was he trying to turn his religion political, he simply said there was much to learn from what Christianity has given us in this country especially is the last 100 years.   What I also noted was that number 10 were “concerned about the speech prior to it being given” which means this is not some spin doctor spouting rhetoric to appease and silence disgruntled Christians, but was actually a heartfelt belief… 

So I said I wanted to start working through Hebrews while I’m up here, and so being Christmas I felt these first 4 verses captured the enormity of what happened in Christ birth beautifully.. 

Let’s take a look at what’s being described here.
Long ago, that’s a good place to start… This is where I dazzle you with my acute knowledge of Greek and inform you that the two words for “Long ago”, contrasted with “these last days” are two very similar words.  Polymeros, and polytropos contrast the many times and many ways in which God spoke to us first through the prophets, and now through his Son Jesus Christ.   Ofcourse really I just looked at the study notes in my bible but no one needs to know that ;) !!

What is significant here in relation to Christmas in these first two verses is that the writer refers to the many ways God revealed himself in the past, and then in these last days signifying that this child, this baby, the Christ is the final revelation of Gods glory, His master plan.  The cannon of scripture is complete, no further revelation is needed. 
Of course one of the biggest tragedies of Christmas for me was also highlighted by David Camerons speech and the to be expected tidal wave of comments that followed it. 
Can anyone guess what that might be?

For many people who are not committed believers, but have some inclination towards church, whether that be spiritual or habitual, Christmas is perhaps the one time of year where they will go to church, and see glimpses of the Christmas story on TV, or if you’re very lucky, on the odd Christmas card, and for all that exposure year after year, Jesus never makes it out of the manger. 
For ever doomed to be the innocent, sweet, mild, tearless baby we drolly sing about year after year in our carols.  But to us Jesus is so much more, and Christmas represents so much more.

“his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.”

Hebrews 1:2-3

Jesus the heir of ALL things, through whom the world was created.   I love this next bit…  The Radiance of the glory to God.   Now contrast that with

2For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.

Isaiah 53:2

The unattractiveness of his outward appearance is far outweighed by the brilliance of Gods glory, the radiance that oozes out of his very being.  Does that not excite you?
For me that’s a source of great encouragement.  For us as sinners, (which let’s face it, is pretty unattractive for those of us to whom the truth has been revealed)_ redeemed by the sacrifice of Christ, that we might shine like stars, reflecting, not our own glory, or superficiality but instead reflecting the nature of and brilliance of Christ’s glory in whom and through whom we are a new creation. 

I love this, in the ESV, he is the EXACT imprint, or in the Greek (Charakter) which by definition means:

1.    the instrument used for engraving or carving
2.    the mark stamped upon that instrument or wrought out on it
       a.    a mark or figure burned in (Lev. 13:
3.    or stamped on, an impression
       a.    the exact expression (the image) of any person or thing, marked likeness, precise reproduction in every respect, i.e facsimile
       of His, that is Gods nature or the Greek (hypostasis) meaning

1.    a setting or placing under
       a.    thing put under, substructure, foundation
2.    that which has foundation, is firm
       a.    that which has actual existence
              1.    a substance, real being
       b.    the substantial quality, nature, of a person or thing
       c.    the steadfastness of mind, firmness, courage, resolution confidence, firm trust, assurance


Who upholds the universe by the word of his power.   After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

Jesus Christ, Born of God, and who is fully God, who chose to give up his place in heaven, a place higher than the angels, that he might also become like us, lower than angels (at least until his return), that we might know that power, that radiance that set sinners free, raised people from the dead, let the blind see, the deaf hear, the lame walk and saw the sick healed.

I close as I opened; the biggest tragedy of Christmas is that Christ never grows up in the eyes of those that only see him once a year.  It may be Christmas but Easter is coming.  The baby Jesus is far more than a nice story, a sweet Children’s nativity.  The baby Jesus is the beginning of events that turned this world on its head.   And maybe this Christmas we can take people on a bigger Journey than they bargained for when they set out to hear a cute story about 3 shepherds, a bunch of wise men, a couple and their baby.

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Hebrews 6:
6 Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And this we will do if God permits. 4 For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. 7 For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. 8 But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned.

Now the book of Hebrews has been and continues to be a challenging walk of engaging with uncomfortable questions, and down right deadly outcomes.  The challenge has been made harder as each of these chapters have been split up across quite a number of months.  Hopefully though as we continue forward the message received and communicated will have remained consistent.
One of the biggest questions thrown into the lime light by this book has to be one of the most controversial of them all.. 

Identified and encapsulated by verse 4-6:
For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance

The question being then, can someone lose their salvation?
Now I do believe I have covered this once or twice in the preceding chapters, but this morning I wanted to throw the question out to you.
Is it possible to loose your salvation?
And if not what do these verses mean?
Perhaps if you turn into groups of 3 or 4 and discuss it between yourselves for 5 mins.
…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
My firm belief continues to be that once you are saved, once you have entered into the everlasting covenant with Christ then that is a bond that can never be broken.  If this were not true then when in Hebrews 10:14 it says
By one offering He has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified
[present tense, ongoing action].
This verse would have no meaning.  When Christ took our sin, our suffering, our rejection, our pain to the cross he did it once for all time, past, present AND future.  On the cross Jesus said
“It is finished”   If those who have been won by Christ and have become redeemed by the blood of His sacrifice could lose our salvation then we make Christ out to be a liar, otherwise he would have said “It is almost finished” or “it is finished for now”…
So then if we who have become in Hebrews 3:14 - We have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end --   Remember that, IF we have become partakers we WILL hold firm to the END…  If we the partakers in Christ cannot lose our salvation then this verse must be talking about some other kind of people, people like us, people amongst us, people that maybe even do the things that we who are in Christ and enabled by the Holy Spirit do…
Verses 7-8
For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. 8 But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned.
So the picture is not of a field that had life and vegetation and then lost it. The picture is of two different kinds of fields—one is fruitful and blessed; the other is barren and cursed. I think the point is: if we have sat in church with the light and the Spirit and the word and the work of God coming to us and blessing us and even shaping us in some degree, but then turn our back on it, we are like a field without vegetation and will come into judgment. The rain we have drunk (light, Spirit, word, powers) produced no life in the field.
This is a picture we see in the Gospels too
Matthew 3:12
His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”
Matthew 25:31
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left.
Remember in this verse those he calls goats call him Lord, so they know who he is, they are you might say enlightened people.  They recognise him, yet failed to follow him.
And of course Matthew 13 the parable of the sower.



All of these passages speak of people who hear the truth, some of whom show some resemblance of a believer 
Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, 6 but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away.
Remember the seven sons
13 Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” 14 Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. 15 But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?”
And lets return to this Chapter Hebrews 6
For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come,
This people have shared in the divine powers of the age to come, perhaps manifested gifts of healing, preaching, and prophesy…
We know this is possible because in Matthew 24:24 it says
For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.
Two prominent people who come to mind, one of late being the Olympian Jonathan Edwards, featured heavily in Spring Harvest,  said of his faith.
In an interview in The Times in June 2007, Edwards said:
If there is no God, does that mean that life has no purpose? Does it mean that personal existence ends at death? They are thoughts that do my head in. One thing that I can say, however, is that even if I am unable to discover some fundamental purpose to life, this will not give me a reason to return to Christianity. Just because something is unpalatable does not mean that it is not true.
Furthermore, in the interview with The Times he also stated "When you think about it rationally, it does seem incredibly improbable that there is a God." In the same interview he also said "I feel internally happier than at any time of my life."[
And probably more notably
Charles Templeton who worked and preached alongside Billy Graham for years renounced his faith and wrote the book “farewell to God”…
Both of these men gave the appearance of being saved and having fruitful lives, yet they withered and died. 
Now is it possible that these two men could ever be restored to God?
Simply in human terms no, of course not God is the only one who can transform our hearts, but it is true that God could restore himself to them.  But Salvation is not the unconditional love we so glibly throw around.  Of course salvation is conditional, the condition being that we repent of our sin and turn from darkness.  Those who hear the truth and return to darkness Choose Sin over Christ, they choose the very darkness that nailed Christ to the cross; they stand in the crown and joyfully shout CRUCIFY HIM!!!   And that is a scary, earth shattering place to be…  The issue it seems for these men is like the issue of Esau.  Hebrews 12
[Let] there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal. 17 For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears.
Will genuine repentance be rejected by God? Don't make the mistake of thinking that Esau genuinely repented and was rejected by God. God does not reject genuine repentance. The text says plainly that he found no place for repentance. In other words, he couldn't repent. He was so hardened that he cried out for things to go better in his life, but inside he would not submit to God's terms. He was, as verse 16 says, "immoral and godless."
Hebrews 3:8 do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness,
Hebrews 3:15 As it is said,
“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”
John Piper says of this passage: -
“This is an illustration of what the writer has in mind in Hebrews 6:6 when he says it is impossible to renew this person again to repentance. This is the terrifying prospect behind all the warnings of this book not to drift but to take heed and consider Jesus and to exhort each other every day and to fear unbelief and carelessness. Why? Is anything really at stake?
The prospect exists that you and I who believe we are chosen and called and justified might slide into a slow process of indifference and hardening and eventually fall away and reject Christ and put him to an open shame. We may actually come to a point where there is no return, because we have been forsaken utterly by God. That's what the word "impossible" means in verse 6. and Oh, how it should put you on an urgent pursuit of mercy this morning”
As I close let me say this.  If you are here and of the mind that you are at all concerned that you may have done something so awful that you could not reconcile yourself to god and be forgiven by him, then I would suggest that you have indeed not done such a thing.  So instead follow your heart, seek righteousness and Justice, and continue in your pursuit of the one who first called you to himself with endurance, persevering until the end, where we see the King of Glory face to face, and you hear those words, “welcome home good and faithful servant…”

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While thinking through this I was being tugged left and right as to where this should be pitched.
Hebrews is such a rich book that it would take years to extrapolate if attention and detail were taken with every major theme and word used throughout the book.  Hebrews does however have a reoccurring theme, over and over, warning us against apostasy, and warning against departing from the truth.  Of all the passages within Hebrews though, 14-16 is probably the most quoted: -

Since we have a great high priest, Jesus, the Son of God, who has passed through the heavens [or: gone into heaven], let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 4:14-16

While listening to John Piper as I often do, he used the theme thanksgiving in suffering, and began with a warning against viewing God in a way that I have heard before when talking to particularly vocal atheists.
That if we need Jesus to be a high priest or a “Go Between” as john piper puts it, then what kind of God do we serve and believe in. 
I have a memory of being about 14 years old.  Me, my two brothers, my brother-in-law and one of my cousins were all in a room playing grand prix on the computer.   All of a sudden and for no apparent reason (I can tell you this because you all know him and he is forgiven) Paul unleashed a violent burst.  He just grabbed me, and was punching the living daylights out of me.  Phil, Jim my brother in law, and Robert my cousin were there pulling him off me. 

To this day I have no idea what caused him to do that, but back then I had a real hatred for the person he was.

This to me this describes how some people see God, as if he is some angry, vengeful father waiting to unleash his wrath and fury upon us, the weak and helpless child, and Jesus is the Son who rescues us from the furious father, by standing between us and pulling him away from us.
It got me wondering, Where could this view of God come from?
I thought about preaching Hell fire and brimstone… Repent or burn in hell…
There are certainly those who major on the burn in hell message with little genuine concern for the hearer of those words, and the troubles in their life.
Then I thought of the rainbow brigade.   I’m OK, you’re OK, Gods OK – God loves you and Jesus is your buddy…
Yep there are also those who major on the love, and fail to mention the God of justice.

But is this really where this thinking comes from? 
Or is it rather that both sides of those arguments are correct when viewed together and it is rather what they don’t say that is the issue more so than what they do say?
I’m a sinner, you’re a sinner….  IF we fail to point out or recognise the error in the human precondition that is sin, then what purpose is there for a God of Wrath and justice, like wise if I’m OK, and You’re OK, what need is there for God to be OK?  If nobody is wrong, and there is no hell, then why do we need to feel compelled to worship a God who loves us?
It is when we look at the full context, one that we are all familiar with yet strangely one that a lot of people have difficulty communicating to others,  the context that says that we were created in the image and likeness of God, but we rebelled, we hardened our hearts to the father.   Out of loving concern the Father sent his Son Jesus to earth to walk with us, to teach us how we should live our lives, but most importantly to show us that our rebellion against the father is an act of sinful treason punishable by death, but for those who repent and except Jesus’ sacrifice we find refuge from the just punishment that was not made as a path for us, but rather a path we willfully choose when we reject God.
When we favour one side of God, one attribute of God, over another, to the expense and detriment of another, we are left with a God who is either weak, entirely incapable of controlling his own anger because we are worthless, vile scum.  Or we are left with a God who is timid and impotent, unable to effect any meaningful change in a person’s life, because we’re not really bad people, all we need is love right???

That’s not my King, that’s not the Jesus I know, and it’s certainly not the God I serve.  That is also not the God of the bible, nor is it the Jesus we see pictured here in Hebrews.
The complexity and beauty of God, and our relationship with him, lies in the wondrous contradiction of Faith.
Yes we are worthless, sinful people with no goodness in us because of our sinful nature and pride.  But we are also fearfully and wonderfully made in the likeness of Christ.
Yes God is a God of Righteousness and Justice, but he is also a God of grace, love and mercy.
Yes we are rebellious in our sinful nature, but we are united through Christ’s nature.
Yes we deserve hell, and yes God created that place for Satan and those who follow him, but we are set free, redeemed and forgiven through the sacrifice already paid for when Jesus died on the cross.

In our weakness, we gain strength because we have a God who not only looks down on us from heaven, but put himself in our shoes, walking the path we tread, being tempted in every way, yet he remained sinless, so that he can sympathise with our pain and struggles, yet through his purity can speak to a righteous God of Justice on our behalf, who loves his Son, and so through his grace in adopting us as co-heirs with Jesus, loves us equally also.
That’s the Jesus I serve, that’s the God I love!
I have been quite down, and somewhat depressed of late, lacking motivation and lacking the genuine concern for people I once had,  But reading this, writing this, thinking through this, gives me strength.  The Thought of Jesus not as my buddy, one of the lads, my drinking partner, or co-pilot, but rather of Jesus the Great high priest, the one friend I can rely on, look up to, aspire to be like, count on in any situation, the dependable, thoughtful, concerned, caring, gentle, Jesus who leans on speaks the truth, rather than leans on the bar and randomly blurts out… I love you man, I really really love you, to any passing stranger.
My Jesus, My king is more powerful than any adversary, wiser than and critic, stronger than any leader, more eloquent and soothing than any counselor, smarter than any teacher, bigger than any problem, and more attractive in his nature than any earthly desire of mine…

So my question to myself is why is Jesus not the first person I call on when I’m in need?
Why is he not the first ICE in my phone book?
Is he in yours?

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Last time we heard how Jesus was greater than Moses, greater than us, greater than the church, which makes him the master and Lord over the church, and we his servants.  Today we continue to the second part of Hebrews 3: We have come to share in Christ, or we are the house of Christ IF.....

Starting from Verse 7: -

7 Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says,

“Today, if you hear his voice,
8 do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,
    on the day of testing in the wilderness,
9 where your fathers put me to the test
    and saw my works for forty years.
10 Therefore I was provoked with that generation,
and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart;
    they have not known my ways.’
11  As I swore in my wrath,
    ‘They shall not enter my rest.’”

12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. 15 As it is said,

“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”

16 For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses? 17 And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? 19 So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.

In verse 6 which is where we ended last, time the writer of Hebrews states
6 but Christ is faithful over God's house as a son. And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.

Do you see that?  Do you see that IF?  There's a condition.  The writer states that we ARE his house,  (that is present tense) IF indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope (that is present and future evidence of our confession of faith).

Let me put it another way, If I went around saying pronouncing things like (aye aye Calm down, calm down like aye) and that was the way I normally speak, then that is evidence that I am probably
a Scouser.  If I do not talk that way normally, then going around speaking that way does NOT make me a Scouser.  It is not a action that makes me something, but rather is evidence of something I already am.

So we ARE his house, that is us as Christians who profess Jesus as Lord, we live in that NOW,
IF and it’s a big IF, it’s in bold type and underlined on my page, IF we hold fast our assurance our hope to the end.  It’s the holding on to the hope part that is evidence of what we already have become when me take Jesus as our saviour.

This IF is judged to be so important, so serious, that it is repeated again with a slight twist in verse 14: For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end

We have come to share, or we have become partakers in Christ, IF indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.

Again the IF suggests the latter is not what makes the former happen, but is the evidence of what already is. 

I accepted Christ, you will hopefully see evidence of that in my life, and because that is a true confession, a true undeniable experience, with a genuine outworking of the Holy Spirit, then that evidence should and will continue to grow throughout my life.  I will not drift aimlessly, remember chapter 2 Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. But instead I will pursue righteousness and Justice, I will pursue Christ, I will run the race marked out for me, and I will surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses complete that race.

Saturday when I was thinking through the implications of this it hit home while I was with my family.  We were all baptised, we all went to church, we have all sung the songs and prayed the prayers, but not all of us are not actively engaging (on the surface) with our faith.

I do not know where they are, I see little evidence in some of them that they walk a path of salvation, yet I do see that they speak of Jesus as Lord, and instruct their children that Jesus is Lord also.

So I am presented with three scenarios: -
1)    They are in a state of quiet understated faith, a well that is untapped waiting to flow out under the right encouragement.
2)    They have set adrift, lost their way in the storm and need a rescue boat to point them back in the right direction.
3)    OR the commitment they professed was not a genuine commitment.

Its fully clear to me that if you are a partaker in Christ now, it would not be possible to later not be a partaker in Christ, The writer has already stated twice, that if we are truly in Christ Jesus, then we will as evidence see that confidence through to the end, we will walk a path that leads us to Jesus and to be more like him.  So it's clear to me that one who has attained salvation cannot loose salvation later. However if we have attained salvation then we shall see evidence of that worked out through our lives. 

I realise I'm repeating the same point over and over, but it’s crucial that we understand this IF.

I cannot see into the hearts and minds of the members of my family, only God can do that, so I do not know which of those 3 is applicable to them right now, but you know when we are talking about life and death, and to be clear, this is a kingdom issue, so we ARE talking about life and death, heaven and hell, then I need to do all I can to either see that Well spring up, or that boat that drifting set back on course, or that true moment of salvation realised.

If we for a moment are receiving prayer, leading a church, preaching theology, singing worship songs, responding to an alter call, working for a Christian charity, do any of those things make me a Christian?  In fact are they even evidence that I AM a Christian?  Just because we do or say the right things either as an emotional response, a physical response, or an intellectual response for a season, that does not mean that we have entered into a covenant with the one true God.  It does not make us part of His house. 

It’s no good walking through God's house, out into the garden, setting up a Wendy house, and then slapping a sign on it saying God's house because we want to play at being daddy.

No we need to be in the Real house learning to become like daddy, like our brothers and sisters, like Jesus.  That is the evidence of saving grace, when we strive every day to be less like ourselves and more like the one who called us.

For the Israelites, leaving Egypt was not enough to bring salvation to them, they made the move, they started out with God, but a week, a month, a year, 10 years, 40 years later, some trials and tests came along and they were tempted a season of no water in the wilderness. Weariness with manna, and subtly a growing craving for the fleeting pleasures of Egypt, as Numbers 11:5–6 says, "We remember the fish which we used to eat free in Egypt, the cucumbers and the melons and the leeks and the onions and the garlic, but now our appetite is gone. There is nothing at all to look at except this manna."

The truth is just like the Israelites how many people who profess to be Christians start out, with what My sins can be forgiven? Hmm sure why not what have I to lose?  But later the trials and temptations come, and the motivation that leads us forward to walk upright and righteous dwindles.

How many people have started out that way but the evidence of that walk, evidence of that commitment, evidence of that saving grace is nowhere to be seen.

Friends that is a terrifying place in which to be.

The issue in this text is one of the hearts. It is a matter of believing or trusting or hoping in God. Look at verse 10: "Therefore I was angry with this generation, and said, 'They always go astray in their heart.'" Why didn't the people get to enter the Promised Land? You could say, they sinned and they rebelled and they murmured. Yes. But look at how this writer ends the chapter. Verse 19: "And so we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief." Persistent sin in the face of God's mercy is a sign of unbelief.

Let us not take the once saved always saved attitude lightly, while it is true, if we see people around us who are not seemingly displaying the evidence of a life being lived in Christ, then prayerfully engage with them, encourage them if they need a push start, rebuke and correct them in love  and genuine concern if they are faltering and drifting from the truth they know, or lead them into the loving, saving merciful arms of Christ if the truth for them has never really been realised into saving faith.


Everything in chapter 3 (and I would argue that everything in this book) is written to encourage and empower you to be earnest and vigilant and focused in the fight to maintain strong assurance in Christ. Let me show you this so that you get a feel for how important this is to the writer to the Hebrews. Over and over again the writer urges us to persevere in our hope and not to throw away our confidence, because this is the living evidence that we truly have become partakers of Christ. For example:

•    Hebrews 2:1 - For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.
•    Hebrews 3:6 - We are his house, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end.
•    Hebrews 3:14 - For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end . . .
•    Hebrews 6:11-12 - And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end, that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
•    Hebrews 10:23 - Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful . . .
•    Hebrews 10:35 - Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.
•    Hebrews 12:1 - Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.

Friends, Let us run the race marked out for us, but in our running, let us not forget those who are struggling with fitness, and let us not presume that just because they are wearing the right clothing for the race, or say the right words or make the right motions that they have ever really entered the race as a competitor. 

When we are dealing with the issue of Heaven or hell, surely it’s better for us to presume no salvation and risk getting a punch in the face because we got it wrong, than risk someone slipping through the net because they looked the part, but their life had no substance?

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Hebrews 3:1-6
Consider Jesus –  Jesus greater than Moses

So far in chapter one we have Jesus being superior to the angels, Jesus made and sustains the world (1:1–2, 10), But the angels are “ministering spirits” (v14), serving those who are to inherit Salvation, that is Christian believers.

In chapter 2 Jesus takes on human flesh and fulfils the hope of Psalm 8 for all his people (2:7–8): "You [O God] have made him for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor, and have appointed him over the works of your hands; you have put all things in subjection under his feet."

We are also warned against drifting away, standing still and becoming complacent.

Now in Chapter 3, no surprise but its all about????
Jesus......

It's all about Jesus... 

Therefore (that is in light of Christ’s priest hood end of chapter 2), holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling (that being those of us who profess faith in Christ), consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession.

Consider Jesus...
If I were to ask you to consider Jesus, what might it be that you would consider about him?

You know there is so much in this book that in a lifetime you could never consider everything there is to consider about Jesus, and then you would be promoted to glory, and you would then continue in eternity considering the vastness and wonderfulness of Jesus, and still not cover it all.

Last chapter, don't drift away from your heavenly calling, there is a great high priest speaking on your behalf.  This chapter consider Jesus, all the days of your life and beyond, consider him, that you focus will remain, the wonder will never cease, the life changing experiences will roll one after another, so that you will not drift away, meandering down the lazy river of life and away from his eternal rest.

Why should we be so concerned about thinking and meditating on Jesus?
Verse 2 continues -
who was faithful to him who appointed him (that being God the Father), just as Moses also was faithful in all God's house. (also found in Numbers 12:7 -  Not so with my servant Moses. He is faithful in all my house.)

Moses fulfilled his appointed role in faithfully following God's redemptive plan in the exodus, and in recording law.  Still today he receives significant respect, Jesus however,
verse 3 continues - has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses.

Okay another question, What does the word glory mean?  We sing it all the time in church, and with the Olympics coming up we should be no stranger to the term, so what does it mean?

I was curious as to what a dictionary might say, and was quite astounded by the simplicity, and yet the apparent significance of what yourdictionary.com had to say.

This is their definition.
Glory is great praise and recognition won by doing something important

AND and the praise offered to God.

1.An example of glory is when you save a child's life and are suddenly famous and praised by all.
2.An example of glory is what the saints and angels enjoy in heaven.
3.An example of glory is when you restore on old, falling down mansion and put it back to the magnificent state it was in, restoring its former glory.

It's that last one that really struck me as quite a profound statement in the context of Hebrews 3 which I will come back to at the end, But first I can just picture a scene with all the disciples sitting round a table eating food and drinking wine, and playing Patriarch Top Trumps (a patriarch being a human father or founder of our faith, commonly noted as being for example Abraham, Isaac & Jacob)

Peter firmly grasping his card  the Abraham Card, as he was the first father,
John jumping in with the Moses Card, because he couldn't possibly let Peter just be right, after all he was the disciple whom Jesus loved and Moses parted the Red Sea and spoke face to face with God, and Thomas slipping in with the Jacob Card because Jacob was a dreamer who escaped death, and became a ruler of even his own brothers.

All the time I can see Jesus set slightly aback from the table reclining softly, smoking his pipe and stroking his beard  (Not that neither Jesus nor I smoked, nor condone the abuse of ones body by inhaling toxic and addictive poisons found in the substance know as tobacco) rather bemused by the discussion in front of him. (Somewhat like Gandalf the grey might in LOTR)

Suddenly they stop short of a food fight, turn to Jesus and say “so Jesus tell us, which one of us is right? Who do you think is the greatest, Abraham? Moses?”

With a slight roll of the eyes and a puff of the pipe Jesus gently exclaims,  “well, I created the earth, I created Abraham, Jacob & Moses.  I also created all of you, and all you see before you, so I suppose that would make me the greatest”

Silence, you could hear a pin drop......  They were playing Patriarch Top Trumps, but they were missing the super card, the single trump card that trumps all other cards... Jesus

Continuing in verses 3-4

For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses—as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honour than the house itself. 4 (For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.)

Lets take for example the Sistine chapel, The world famous painting “The creation of Adam” - looking up at that ceiling, its magnificent, the detail and skill is just breath taking, its a work of beauty, that is matched only by the skill and accomplishment of its creator, the world renowned Michelangelo.

Anyone can take some paint and a brush and make some pretty patterns, including an elephant it would seem, but a master piece, that takes skill, dedication, perseverance, and attention to the smallest of detail.  Yes we admire the painting, but we remember and celebrate the artist who created it.

So it is with the house that Jesus built, namely his church, those that proclaim faith in his birth, death AND resurrection, boldly attesting to him through whom creation was brought into being.  Moses was faithful as a servant,  But Jesus who also came to serve, but who is ultimately both the Son of God, and God himself.  The Rock upon whom His church was built.

I mentioned earlier on the how struck I was by the definition of Glory, let me go back to example 3

“An example of glory is when you restore on old, falling down mansion and put it back to the magnificent state it was in, restoring its former glory.”

Jesus created the world and his church, who disobeyed and became sinful, and broken.  He then re-entered the world as the servant king, to give his life on the cross that he might restore His church and reconcile us back to the Father through his resurrection.


He is the alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.

On him hangs all your hope of heaven. If you have any confidence this morning that your sins are forgiven and that you will persevere in faith and attain your heavenly calling, this confidence depends on Jesus. The greater and more glorious he is, the greater our hope and confidence.
If you lack in that confidence, if you are swayed left and right, worrying about your relationship with the Father, then I implore you... Consider Jesus, Consider the works of his hands, consider the sacrifice of his blood, and consider the life changing event of His resurrection and ascension, securing hope and a renewing of our minds through the redeeming power of His Holy Spirit working in us and through us.

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Hebrews 2 begins with our first instruction following on from Hebrews one which highlights the importance and significance of Jesus, and that is to Listen to him.

For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. 2 For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense, 3 how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, 4 God also bearing witness with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.

The Prophets of the Hebrew Scriptures, or the old testament had the word of God given to them through the angels, but in Hebrews chapter one we are told in no uncertain terms that Jesus of far superior to the angels, and therefore the words he has spoken, and recorded in the gospels, are also superior to the revelations that came before.  That of course does not diminish the importance of the Hebrew scriptures but instead highlights our need to pay closer attention to the words, life and actions of Christ, that we might not drift away from it, or indeed him.

John piper gives a great image of this: -

Consider this word "drifting." It means float by. It's what a piece of bark or a leaf or a dead fish does in the river—it floats by the boat that is being rowed up stream. It takes no life and no motion to float by. One need only do nothing, and you will float by.

John Piper www.desiringgod.org

It kind of reminded me of being in the “lazy river at a water park” you just move into the flow of water, lift up your feet and the current takes you on your journey.  The problem is this is not the river of eternal life, as depicted through Jesus that leads us to salvation and eternity with him, it is instead the river that is OUR life which which flows away from Jesus, and leads us to death and destruction.  To float, or to drift in this river is a dangerous place for a Christian.

Again John piper gives a wonderful image of what it is to be a Christian in this river that is life taken from Hebrews Chapter 10:19-23, The image is that through the sacrifice of Jesus, we have an anchor in heaven, and anchor in the temple (Jesus' flesh being the curtain) and it is hooked around the mercy seat, that is the full assurance of our faith through Christ Jesus bringing atonement for our sins, and he is pulling us in when we keep our eyes fixed on him, and Jesus is also our captain in the boat steering our course as we navigate upstream, keeping us from troubled waters.

But you see the problem is for some of us, and I count myself in that number, for some of us There is no urgency. No vigilance. No focused listening or considering or fixing the eyes on Jesus. And the result has not been a standing still, but a drifting away.
You see I always had this idea or picture that God was always moving, and if we did not keep our eyes on him, if I did not keep in step with him, then he would move further and further out of sight until eventually he was gone completely and I would be left standing still.

But now, now I see that that was in error.  God is not the one who is moving, God is the same yesterday, today and forever, he is always present, he is always gracious, he is always reaching out, but instead it was I who was moving, drifting and sometimes drowning in the flow of my life, a life I had given to him, yet my arms had grown weary from rowing against the current, my eyes had become distracted by others people and other places or experiences I came across while drifting down the river.  I had performed and mutiny and over thrown the captain of the boat and set sail on my own path that leads to destruction.
In verse 14 of chapter 2 it goes on to say - Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil

Death is a terrifying notion for those who believe, death is the reality of an eternity that will either be fulfilled in heaven or hell.  Hell is a terrifying reality that many people face, yet for those who do not believe, death is sad but certainly not terrifying.  If death was terrifying to non believers then the song “I'm on the highway to hell” or “I did it my way” would not be two of the most popular songs chosen for funerals.   

Satan’s power is not absolute, but is under Gods control who ultimately has power over life and death, but let us not forget that Satan was a “murderer from the beginning” as found in John 8:44, and he does have the power to harm people as described in Mark 5:2-5 and Luke 13:16, his main weapon, or his weapon of choice from is armory is Sin, that is OUR sin, he has already been sentenced for his sin, but now he relishes in drawing on our sin, and blinding us to the dangers that lurk down stream as we aimlessly meander towards the waterfall of destruction where bodies lay dashed and strewn on the murderous rocks below.

This is important though.  It is too easy to say Satan is tempting me, or causing me to stumble and fall, but guess what, no-one was every sentenced to hell for being oppressed or even possessed by demons, in fact Jesus came and healed the sick and demon possessed.  No we are sentenced to hell for our own sin and wickedness, when we fail to take hold of the sacrifice made by the one who came and was tempted in EVERY way yet remained without sin, that we might have a high priest who sympathizes with our weakness and is able to help those who are tempted.

So in closing.  There is no place in the life of a Christian to stand still, because when we stand still we become complacent, and when we become complacent we stop rowing and turn our eyes away from Jesus and onto other things that distract us.  And when we are distracted, we are no longer standing still but instead are set a drift, floating idly down the river away from the salvation brought to us by Christ Jesus the great high priest, but more terrifyingly and more disturbingly we become complicit in the murderous and treacherous dealings of the great deceiver as we fail to point those we meet in that river away from the folly and pending doom that awaits them, instead opting to join them in their rebellion against a great, and mighty, loving and merciful, powerful and righteous good and just God who stands on the water, anchor in hand, waiting to resume his captaincy of the boat.

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It is somewhat alien to me as a Christian in the 21st Century to identify with the reasoning found here in Hebrews chapters 8-9.  The writer goes to great length to show their knowledge and understanding of Jewish custom and the workings of the old covenant to which the readers who were most probably Jewish Christians would be accustomed to performing.

The writer of Hebrews contrasts the old covenant that was imperfect as it could not achieve salvation, and was a process that needed to be repeated time after time, and the new covenant found in Christ who is perfect, does bring us salvation through his sacrifice which was a onetime event that had eternal consequences for those who were and are faithful.

 

Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.

Hebrews 9:23-26 ESV

Here in Hebrews 8 & 9 we have a picture of the what tabernacle Tent probably looked like, it must have been a glorious sight to behold.. The Wooden beams overlaid with gold.  As you walk in you see the golden lamp stand and the table for bread.   You have the overpowering smell of incense from the bronze altar that stood in front of the curtain that separated the outer court and the holy of holies.  Then on the other side of the curtain you know there is the Ark of the Covenant, the fearful, mysterious and glorious ark untouched by human hands for fear of death.  Then you have the two cherubim on top, wings stretched out over the mercy seat, and heads bowed in reverence and awe.

It’s hard to imagine what it must have been like to be there and see all that, and imagine when the presence of God filled the tent, so much so that the people could not even enter…

If that was just a shadow of the new covenant and the holy of holies not built by human hands, but built by God himself, Imagine what it will be like to stand in the presence of all the angels, and the cloud of witnesses that have gone before us, to see God face to face, to see, touch and breathe his very presence, and to see Christ who made the one true blood sacrifice required to atone for our sins, interceding on our behalf, at the mercy seat of heaven.  Well done good and faithful servant, welcome home….

It fills me with goose bumps to imagine what it will be like when that day comes…

How does it make you feel?  It blows my mind…    

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