A Commentary on Hebrews

A Commentary on Hebrews
(by Pastor Mark Siena)

Some Preliminary Thoughts…

(1)  Who wrote Hebrews?

Chapter 1 doesn’t begin like a letter written by Paul.  Every other one of his letters (‘epistles’) begin with the word ‘Paul’.  The writing ‘style’ of Chapter 1 also doesn’t necessarily sound like a letter written by Paul.  But by the end of the letter, Chapter 13, it sounds like Paul.

A lot of people think that Paul wrote this letter – and I do too.  (The people that put together the Old King James thought so – they entitled it ‘The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews’.)  Someday in heaven Jesus will tell us for certain; then we’ll all be on the same page.

(2)  Why would the author not put his name in this letter?

(Look at the other New Testament epistles – usually they did.)  It could be because the letter was so difficult or ‘controversial’ for many Jews to receive.  It was basically asking them to move beyond the Old Covenant temple and priesthood, and step fully into the New Covenant.  A lot of what the Jews had grown up with, a lot of what was ‘normal’ for them, was changing.  Plus, Jews that had accepted Christ as Messiah were being persecuted by fellow Jews that were not believers.  So, it was a hard time for Jewish believers.  Compromise was a (temporarily) easy way to avoid arguments and persecution.  Maybe if Paul (or whoever) had put his name in front, many Jews would have immediately tuned out.  So by not ‘pushing’ an author, it may have made the letter more salient to be received with an open mind.

(3)  When was the letter written?

Probably in the middle to late 60’s AD.  It had to be before 70 AD, because that’s when Rome came in and destroyed the temple and priesthood.  This letter speaks about these things as ongoing – so they couldn’t have yet been destroyed.

The Jews couldn’t have fully known what awaited them.  Many were clinging to their old traditions – because that’s what they knew.  The problem was that those traditions were going to violently end in just a few years.  Then, if their faith was in tradition – the temple or priesthood – it would be shattered.  But if their faith was in Almighty God and His Son, Messiah Jesus, and led by the Holy Spirit, they would make it through one of the toughest times in their history.

Where is America today on God’s time line?  Do we face a similar future here, where our ‘reality’ will soon be much different than what we have become accustomed to?

Hebrews 12:26-28  “…‘Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.’  Now this, ‘Yet once more,’ indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain.  Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.”

It may turn out that part of the reason for this course is to prepare us all to stand firm and point people to Jesus when the ‘shaking’ occurs.

We have the advantage of not being ‘mentally stuck’ in the Old Testament like many of the Jews of 67 AD were.  But, we all have biases in one way or another.  If we’re not clinging totally to Jesus, then we’re also clinging to something else.  And nothing else can ultimately save us except for Jesus.

May He continue to refine us, and break through any ‘biases’ that we cling to which are costing us a better understanding and closer walk with Him.

 

Chapter One

1   “…in various times and in various ways…”

There is an awesome godly diversity within the unified Body of Christ (church).  God has gifted each person in special ways in order to bring Him glory.  He can give us a common goal so that we are unified, while using different strengths in different members to bring His goal to pass.  We are all different – but has a plan of success for each life.  If we seek and obey Him, we’ll find it.

Psalm 37:4  “Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.”
Matthew 10:39  “He who finds His life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.”

When we’re watching a good movie, or involved in a fun game or sporting event, we sometimes lose all track of time because we are so consumed with the moment.  Jesus wants us to be the same with Him, so that we ‘lose ourselves’ in the love and joy that He brings.

Psalm 139:13-16
Ephesians 2:10
1 Corinthians 12:4-26

 
2   “worlds” – or ‘ages, aeons’

God is so amazing, and there is actually so little we know about Him.  That makes sense, because if we fully understood God intellectually, then we would essentially be equal to Him, and He’d no longer be God.  So, we must walk by faith, in the assurance of His Words which He has made clear to us.  He has given us enough in order to trust and follow Him.

Proverbs 22:20-21  “Have I not written to you excellent things of counsel and knowledge, that I may make you know the certainty of the words of truth, that you may answer words of truth to those who send to you?”

Proverbs 3:5-6  “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”

Psalm 103:13-14  “As a father pities [has compassion for] his children, so the LORD pities those who fear [reverence] Him.  For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.”

We don’t know how many ‘worlds’ there are in the universe, or even how big the universe is.  The best we can measure today is about 13 billion light years out.  As our technology gets better, we’ll see farther.  But we can’t see the end of the universe.  That makes for a pretty big, awesome Creator, “Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, measured heaven with a span…” (Isaiah 40:12).

Is there life on other planets?  The Bible doesn’t say one way or the other, so I wouldn’t take a strong position on it.  For things that aren’t clearly stated in the Bible, it’s OK to have our personal theories, but we shouldn’t cling to those theories as if they are fact.  If we do that, we’ll be like the Hebrews in 67 AD clinging to their temple and priesthood, when in about 3 years they were going to be destroyed by Rome.

If the word “worlds” refers to ‘ages’, it would mean different time periods or ‘dispensations’ of God’s plan for our planet.  That’s a whole other study; but here are some of the significant age or time periods we see in the Bible…

Past

(1)  The very beginning / creation in Genesis 1.

(2)  Adam and Eve’s time in Eden.

(3)  Adam’s sin, after which he was driven out of Eden.

(4)  The ‘pre-flood’ environment, with apparently no rain, but a ‘mist’ rising up from the earth to provide water.

(5)  Noah’s flood; followed by a covenant where God promised to never again flood the entire earth.

(6)  Abraham’s Covenant, where God promised His offspring (Israel) land and blessings on this earth; and those of like faith (both Jew and Gentile) eventual eternity in heaven.  (Romans 4:16)

(7)  The Old Testament Covenant given to Moses.

 
Current

(8)  The New Testament Covenant, sealed by Jesus’ blood on the cross and His resurrection.  This is the ‘age of grace’ or ‘age of the church’ that we now live in.

 
Future

(9)  The great attack of Russia, Iran, and others recorded in Ezekiel 38 & 39, where God miraculously saves Israel.  (The fact that Israel has a land to be attacked is another huge miracle, based on the fact that they maintained their national identity without a land from the time Rome scattered them until 1948.  All other peoples without a homeland – the Hittites, Amorites, Philistines, etc. – have disappeared into the sea of humanity.  Only Israel maintained their national identity for all of those centuries.)

(10)  The ‘Rapture’ of the church.

(11)  The rise of the Anti-Christ / 7 year Tribulation.

(12)  The Battle of Armageddon, when Christ returns physically to earth to defeat Satan and all of the armies of the world who oppose Him.

(13)  The 1,000 peace / Millennial Time, where Jesus will rule physically on this earth from Jerusalem.  At that time all of the promises made to Abraham pertaining to the power of Israel as they are led by God will be fulfilled.

(14)  One final rebellion, resulting in a world-wide battle, after which Satan and his followers will be cast into the eternal lake of fire; but the saved will enter into eternity (the New Heavens and New Earth) to dwell forever with God.  “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”  1 John 3:2

 

3   Jesus is the “…express image…” of God the Father.

The Greek word (Strong’s #5481) is ‘charakter’, where we get our word ‘character’.  The Blue Letter Bible defines it as:

“a mark or figure burned in (Lev. 13:28) or stamped on, an impression”;

“the exact expression (the image) of any person or thing, marked likeness, precise reproduction in every respect, i.e. facsimile”.

https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G5481&t=NKJV

Colossians 1:15, 2:9
John 10:30, 14:8-9

 

4   Jesus is “…better than the angels…”

The Jehovah Witnesses believe that Jesus is Michael the Archangel.

Anything that removes Jesus from His rightful title of Almighty God, a member of the Holy Trinity, is degrading to Him.  He’s not just an angel, or a just a prophet – He is Almighty God.

 

5   “begotten” can be a difficult word, because it can mean ‘to father a child’ physically.  For example, Matthew 1:2-3 reads “Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot Judah and his brothers.  Judah begot Perez and Zerah by Tamar; Perez begot Hezron…”.  The physical genealogy keeps going on for 16 verses.

The Bible clearly says that Jesus was never created – He has always existed.  He is the Creator, part of the Trinity.

John 1:1-3  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.”

Genesis 1:1  “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…and the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.”

Colossians 1:16  “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers.  All things were created through Him and for Him.”

Jesus is clearly God.  He was present with the Trinity at the creation in the very beginning verses of Genesis.  All things were made through Him.  The Jehovah’s Witnesses ‘Bible’ (The ‘New World Translation’) cheats here.  They have changed the words to fit their doctrine, which says that Jesus is a created being, lower than Jehovah God…

“John 1:1  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the word was a god.”

https://www.jw.org/en/publications/bible/nwt/books/john/1/

“Colossians 1:16  …by means of him all other things were created in the heavens and on the earth, the things visible and the things invisible…All other things have been created through him and for him.”

https://www.jw.org/en/publications/bible/nwt/books/colossians/1/

So, they say that Jesus is ‘a god’, not ‘The God’.  And that He was created, since He didn’t create all things, but all other things.  All other things were created by Him after He was created by Jehovah.  These beliefs lessen and degrade Who Jesus really is.

Satan has always wanted to pull Jesus down.  In Isaiah 14:14-15 he said “…I will exalt my throne above the stars of God…I will be like the Most High.”  But God answered him in verse 16, “Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the Pit.”

Paul used Acts 13:33 to explain “begotten” as it applies to Jesus.  “God…raised up Jesus.  As it is also written in the second Psalm: ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You.”   So, Psalm 2:7 uses the word ‘begotten’ to speak of Jesus’ resurrection.  In Colossians 1:18 he called Jesus “…the firstborn from the dead”, as did John in Revelation 1:5.  So, “begotten” here means ‘risen from the dead’, which Jesus did after His crucifixion.  We also will rise someday, leaving our present earthly body in order to spend eternity with Jesus.

 

6   “firstborn” – As we just mentioned above, Jesus is the ‘firstborn from the dead’, or the first to rise after His earthly body physically died.  One can kill the body, but no one can kill the spirit that God has placed inside of the body.  The body was made to just be temporary, and will someday disintegrate back into the earth; but the spirit was made to live eternally.

 

7-12   Interestingly, God the Father calls the Jesus (God the Son) “O God” in verse 8, and “LORD” (which is the word used for Jehovah God, the self-existing One) in verse 10; in verse 9 He calls Himself Jesus’ God (“God, Your God”).  So, He’s placing Himself under Jesus in verses 8 and 10, and above Jesus is verse 9.  I think it’s a glimpse into the Trinity (‘One God, Three Persons’), that humans just don’t have the ability to understand fully.  If it was a human being talking, he would have multiple personalities.  But it’s Almighty God of the Trinity talking within Himself to another Member of the Trinity.

 

13-14   Verse 14 would be good to consider when talking about ‘guardian angels’.  Angels are another amazing part of God’s creation that are somewhat explained throughout Scripture.  To me it’s another partial mystery; but the good news is that God has sent angels to minister (serve) His children.  I think someday in heaven we’ll fully understand what the angels did to help and protect us here on earth, so that we could complete our earthly mission.

 

Chapter Two

1-2   “…the Word spoken through angels…”

Hebrews 1:1 said that God spoke to men through the prophets.  Here it says that He also spoke through angels.  “…the law…was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator.”  Galatians 3:19

 

3   “how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation…”

In Pastor Chuck Smith’s ‘The Word for Today’ Bible, he comments on this verse:

“…You are only fooling yourself if you think you can escape the judgement of God – if you think you can hide from God.  The only way of escape from coming judgment is to accept the forgiveness that has been provided by Jesus Christ, on the basis of His death on the cross for you.  Jesus told us that He is the only way (John 14:6).  To try to find another path is foolish.  Either your sins will be judged on the cross, if you accept His sacrifice for you, or you will be personally judged for them for all eternity.  There is no escape.”

The Word for Today Bible, copyright 2005 by Chuck Smith, page 1612

You understand this, but there are many who do not.  God has chosen you and me to go out into the world and proclaim this truth.  There is nothing more important than this truth.

 

4   God has used many signs and wonders to prove that His Word is true.  We need to be careful though of believing just because of signs and wonders, because the Bible says that someday the Anti-Christ will have those too.

2 Thessalonians 2:9-10
Deuteronomy 13:1-5

Romans 10:17  “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”

Pastor Chuck Smith used to say that if faith was just about miracles, then the Israelites that crossed through the Red Sea would have been the champions of faith.  But we know that they weren’t, and that their lack of faith actually caused them to wander in circles in the desert for 40 years instead of entering the Promised Land.

As you walk by faith and fulfill God’s calling on your life, there will be plenty of miracles.  Some you will see with your eyes; I think there will be a lot more that you don’t see until God explains everything to us in heaven.

Actually I remember Pastor Tony Falcione saying a long time ago, ‘if you do a Bible study and even one person comes you should be surprised.  And you should be faithful to teach that one person.’  Miracles aren’t always ‘Hollywood’ style.  A lot of miracles are based on sweat and hard work, resulting in fruit that we can’t fully see or appreciate at the time.  However, there will be a lot of pleasant surprises in heaven.  We’re responsible to be faithful and obedient to God; He’s responsible for the results.

John 15:5,8
Matthew 25:31-40

 

5   The Bible alludes to great spiritual battles going on among the angels; but God is the deciding Force.  His will shall ultimately prevail; His people shall ultimately be victorious.  Ephesians 6:11-13

 

6-8   The writer uses a lot of Old Testament Scriptures to back the Words he is writing.  It’s good to remember that God’s entire Word is truth.  The New Testament does not render the Old Testament to be value-less.  God does not change, so His actions and laws recorded in the Old Testament give us insight into His character.  What was human sin in 1500 BC is still sin today.  Reading the Old Testament gives us a lot of insight into how God thinks, His character, and Who He is.  The New Testament is the culmination / fulfillment of the Old Testament.  It was given to point us to the foot of the cross.

James 2:10  “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.”

Galatians 3:19,24  “What purpose then does the law serve?…the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.”

I believe that prophecy still exists today.  But every word spoken must be compared against the entire Bible.  Every word taught must be compared against the entire Bible.  God repeats His major truths over and over again throughout the entire Bible.  He is never going to contradict anything He said in Genesis through Revelation, because “…it is impossible for God to lie…” (Hebrews 6:18).

There’s no such thing as a ‘new truth’.  It might be new to us, but it’s not new to God.

Ecclesiastes 1:9-10  “That which has been is what will be, that which is done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.  Is there anything of which it may be said, ‘See, this is new’?  It has already been in ancient times before us.”

“…You have put all things in subjection under his feet.”

More interesting stuff.  This is quoting Psalm 8:6.  Is it ‘his’ (i.e., man, Genesis 1:26-28); or ‘His’ (i.e., God, 1 Corinthians 15:24-28); or both?

You will never be bored studying the Bible.  And as we teach others, it is good for us to remember to ‘major in the majors and minor in the minors’.  When we’re in heaven under Pastor Jesus, then He’ll tell us exactly what everything means.

 

9   “But we see Jesus…”  That the important thing.  Knowing Him comes first; our theology comes second.  The more we know Him, the more ‘sound’ our theology will become.

 

10   Jesus was made “…perfect through sufferings”.  He’s always been perfect; but in a sense the fact that He put on a man’s body and suffered the way humans do on earth really made Him a ‘perfect’ Savior for us.  It’s not like we’re trying to connect with some huge, nebulous, distant, un-relatable God.  Rather, it’s God humbling Himself, putting on a man’s body, and coming to earth to walk as we walk, becoming in a sense one of us.  So, nobody can ever claim that God doesn’t’ understand the human condition.  He’s a ‘perfect’ Savior for us to relate to and come to.

Some Scriptures that show Jesus’ ‘humanity’ when He walked on the earth:

Matthew 4:1; 8:24; 13:54-57; 21:18
Mark 3:21,31-32; 13:32
Luke 4:16-30
John 4:6; 11:35; 12:27

The word ‘Perfect’ can also mean ‘complete’.  By ultimately going to the cross to suffer and die for our sins, Jesus’ work for sinners was completed.  “…He said, ‘It is finished!’  And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.”  John 19:30

 

11-13   Jesus calls us ‘brethren’, which is another miracle.  John 15:13-16

 

14-16   We all fear at times, but we really shouldn’t.  Jesus has ‘destroyed’ the devil, and ‘released’ us.  “…you are complete in Him…” (Colossians 2:10)

 

17-18   ‘Propitiation’ – The Old King James uses the word ‘reconciliation’.  This particular Greek word (Strongs # 2433) is used only twice in the entire Bible.  In Luke 18:13 it is translated ‘be merciful’.  Luke 18:9-14

 

Chapter Three

1   “…Apostle…”

Jesus is called an ‘Apostle’ here, for I believe the only time in Scripture.  This word is defined in the Blue Letter Bible to mean ‘a delegate, messenger, one who is sent forth with orders’.

One of the friendly ‘debates’ among Christians is whether or not there are any modern day ‘apostles’; and beyond that, whether the gifts of the Holy Spirit are still for today.  Calvary Chapel stands very firmly in the belief that the gifts of the Spirit are for today.  I pray that we will all grow to know our spiritual gifts and exercise them mightily.

While one can debate about the existence of modern-day ‘apostles’, I do believe that we are all called to be ‘delegates, messengers, those who are sent’.

Matthew 28:18-20

“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’  Amen.”

Jesus was also called ‘High Priest’, which the writer will develop more fully in the Chapters to come.

 

2   I like the fact that the New King James states that Moses being faithful in “…all His [God’s] house” rather than ‘all his [Moses’] house’.  As servants of God, we are building His house, not our own.

Having the privilege to serve God is the greatest blessing that this world can know; but we need to be careful, because many have been removed from their positions by God for twisting the blessing into serving themselves.  The ‘biggest loser’ in that category is Satan himself, who fell from worship leader and guardian cherub to the greatest enemy of God and mankind (Isaiah 14 & Ezekiel 28).  Another example is Saul, whom God established to be the first king of Israel; but he came to the place where he “…set up a monument for himself…” (1 Samuel 15:12)  Absalom, David’s son, did the same thing (2 Samuel 18:18).  So did an important steward named “Shebna” recorded by Isaiah.

Isaiah 22:15-19

Pride will result in a fall.  On the other hand, God established David’s house forever.  “Also the LORD tells you that He will make you a house.”

(2 Samuel 7:11)

Proverbs 15:33, 18:12

“…before honor is humility.”

 

3-4   Jesus is the Creator Who built all things; He is God.

 

5-6   Moses was a servant in God’s house; Jesus is the Son of God.

 

We become ‘sons of God’ when we are born again (Galatians 3:26); but there is only One Son of God.  The great thing about being sons (and daughters) of God is that we will ultimately receive the inheritance of eternal life that He offers.  In Bible times the stewards didn’t get the inheritance – they were entrusted to raise and instruct the children (future heirs) properly, so that someday they would receive the inheritance from their fathers.

“…if we hold fast…firm to the end.”

Here’s another topic of friendly ‘debate’ among Christians.  Can one lose their salvation?
Ephesians 1:13-14

“In Him you also trusted, after you heard the Word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in Whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, Who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.”

The main reason I don’t believe that we can lose our salvation is because we are sealed by the Holy Spirit, not ourselves.  If we were sealed by ourselves, then I think we’d all lose our salvation, because we’re all fallible sinners.  But the infallible Holy Spirit is the guarantor of our salvation, not us.

Paul wrote that we “…have no confidence in the flesh” (Philippians 3:3).  He also called himself ‘chief of all sinners’ (1 Timothy 1:15).  The Apostle John at about age 90 wrote: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us…If we say we that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His Word is not in us.”  1 John 1:8,10)

Henry Ironside’s commentary on Philippians 3:3 states:  “The flesh of the believer is no more to be trusted than the flesh of the vilest sinner…The fleshly nature is never improved, and the new nature received in new birth does not require improvement…It is as we walk in the Spirit that we are delivered from the desires of the flesh.  But even after years of godly living, the flesh itself is not one whit better than it was at the very beginning of our Christian life.  Therefore, we dare not trust it, knowing that, however blessed the work of God is in our souls, ‘in our flesh dwells no good thing’.”

Ironside, H.A., Notes on Philippians.  New Jersey: Loizeaux Brothers, 1947, 1975, page 74

 

7-11   The writer quotes Psalm 95:7-11.  Unfortunately, the Israelis leaving Egypt didn’t trust God enough to move forward into the ‘Promised Land’; so they remained in their own ‘la la’ land for the remainder of their lives.

May God help us to not be paralyzed by fear.  If we’re going to walk by faith, I’m not sure how we will not face times of fear.  If everything God asked us to do was so easy, how could we be walking in faith?  I think not letting our fear stop us is the greatest walk of faith one can attain.

God “…knows our frame, He remembers we are dust.”  (Psalm 103)  He will honor even our baby steps of faith if they are sincere and honest.

Mark 9:14-29

 

12-13   Be an encourager.  The saints get beat up by Satan a lot – we don’t need to beat each other up.  Somebody said ‘The Christians are the only army that shoot their own wounded.’  May that never describe us.

May we love one another enough to be honest, so if we see a brother or sister becoming “…hardened through the deceitfulness of sin” we reach out to them in love in order to help.

 

14-19   Always remember that God can do anything (Luke 1:37).  If we’re going to be afraid, we should be afraid of letting our human fears stop us from accomplishing what Jesus wants us to accomplish.

Mark 6:1-6,53-56

 

Chapter Four
1   “…let us fear…”  Usually I would expect the Bible to say, ‘let us NOT fear’.  But we are to be afraid of not entering into ‘God’s rest’.

Following God to places well beyond our natural abilities, despite our fear, is at least the beginning stage of ‘entering His rest’.  Having such total trust that we follow Him anywhere with no trepidation whatsoever is the goal.  Unfortunately, I haven’t arrived there yet.  But, second best is to follow Him, even when we are afraid.  If we are called to serious ministry, we will need to do that at times.

Not letting fear stop us is very important, especially in ministry.  You already know this – if we’re serving God with just our natural, physical abilities – then we’re not relying on His Spirit; and thus we really can’t be serving with anywhere near the effectiveness that would result with His Spirit leading.

The people being referred to here were the Israelites who refused to cross the Jordan River and enter into God’s rest, because of their fear of the ‘giants’ that dwelt in Canaan.  If they had moved ahead despite their fear, God would have blessed their obedience and brought them victory; and not been angry with them for forty years (Hebrews 3:17).  They could have accomplished something meaningful with their lives, instead of wandering in aimless circles, waiting for death.

Deuteronomy 20:1  “When [not if] you go out to battle against your enemies, and see horses and chariots and people more numerous than you, do not be afraid of them; for the LORD you God is with you, Who brought you up from the land of Egypt.”

Romans 8:28  “And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

 

2   “But be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”  James 1:22

 

The world doesn’t need more ‘intellectual geniuses’ to explain why we shouldn’t’ believe the Bible and obey God.  The world needs more people with simple, child-like faith that are willing to believe God, and take Him at His Word.

Luke 10:17-21

 

3   Revelation 13:8  “…the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”

Ephesians 2:10  “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

By disobeying God the Israelites just hurt themselves.  They could have played key roles in one of the most important times in Israel’s history.  Instead, I guess they settled on playing ‘tiddlywinks’ in the desert for 40 years and criticizing Moses.

If we determine to obey God, and do it, then I think we will understand the big picture in heaven someday; how God guided our steps and worked through us to accomplish goals which He had formulated long ago.  We’ll rejoice in that for eternity.  We’ll probably wonder why we allowed fear to have such a presence when we had faithful Jesus in our heart.

 

4-8   Joshua, Caleb, and the Israelis that did cross the Jordan eventually experienced ‘rest’; but it was not the eternal rest of heaven.  They still had plenty of trials, tribulations, and battles awaiting them on the other side of the Jordan.

Someday in heaven, “…God will wipe away every tear…there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying.  There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”  Revelation 21:4

 

9-10   I’m busier now than I’ve ever been for Jesus, and that is a blessing.  I think the older you get, the more you realize how little time left you have on planet earth to make a difference for Christ.  So, I’m ‘working’ harder than ever before, but it’s really not work.  I’m kind of ‘resting’ as I work for Him.

When God set all the planets spinning, all the weather patterns churning, and all the animals and men breathing, maybe He sat back on the seventh day and relaxed and said something like ‘it is good – very good!’  (Genesis 1:31)  Sometimes in ministry we can kind of do the same thing – just kind of sit back, see what God has set into motion through the consistent obedience of His saints, and say ‘Wow – this is good, very good!’  Watching God build a church can be like that.

It’s important for us to be consistent and steadfast in our service to God.  Nobody’s perfect, but if we give God our best, we’ll get His best.  Just stick with it, and you will see more and more fruit over time, as God sets things into place.

 

11   An interesting use of words…
OKJ: “Let us labour therefore to enter that rest…”

Other Bible versions…

NLT: “…do our best…”

NIV: “…make every effort…”

ESV: “…strive…”

NASB & NKJ: “…be diligent…”

‘Laboring’ or ‘striving’ to enter into rest sounds like an ‘oxymoron’.  But there is joy in being used fully, almost to the point of exhaustion, for the glory of God.  If one loves their work, then it really becomes their hobby; and there’s nothing they’d rather be doing than immersing themselves fully, with total energy, in that endeavor.

If we’re able to totally give ourselves over to God, and are being totally led by His Spirit, then we have in fact ‘ceased from our works’.  We’re no longer doing our work, but His work.

John 3:30  “He must increase; but I must decrease.”

 

12-13   There is nothing more powerful in all of creation than God’s Word.  When we are healthy, He is using His Word to dissect us in love, challenge us, and mold us more and more into the image of His Son Jesus.

When we’re not healthy, we have a lot of excuses.  Unfortunately, they only end up hurting us and others.

Isaiah 55:8-11

I believe it would be accurate to describe the Calvary Chapel vision of ministry as “simply teaching the Word of God simply.”  I don’t know of anything we can do better for others than to teach them God’s Word.  Incorporating God’s Word will create in them fundamental changes which will blossom into good fruit in a million different ways.

What good does it do to offer people solutions which might make their temporary existence on earth a little better, but result in eternal damnation of their souls?  “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?  (Mark 8:36)

 

14   Here’s the third time in this letter that Jesus is referred to as ‘High Priest’ (2:17, 3:1).  Jesus’ New Covenant was the fulfillment of the Old One; and His priesthood was perfect, much greater than the earthly one still operating in Herod’s temple at this time.

 

15   It’s amazing that our infinite, pure, sinless God can relate to us finite, impure, sinful beings.  We’re probably so used to this concept that we just take it for granted.  Jesus experienced all the human temptations that we do on this fallen planet, but He never fell into sin.  So, He is very compassionate and understanding towards our struggles.

 

16   Again, for us to be able to approach God any time we please is something we take for granted.  In Old Testament times, only the High Priest could approach God behind the veil of the Holy of Holies, only once each year.  When Jesus died on the cross, God the Father tore the veil leading to the Holy of Holies, from top to bottom.  From that point on, ALL who loved Jesus could enter into close fellowship with Him; not just the High Priest once a year.

Matthew 27:50-51  “And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.  Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom…”

 

Chapter Five

1-4   The High Priest should have been chosen by God, to serve as long as he lived.  Unfortunately, by the time this letter was written, the High Priesthood had become a political position.  After Caiaphas was removed by Rome in 36 AD, there were 15 different high priests (actually 16 – one guy held the position two different times) over the next 34 years, until the temple was destroyed in 70 AD.

There is nothing uglier in all the universe than when the church / ministry becomes a façade.  I believe that’s why Jesus had such hard words for the Pharisees.

It’s good for us to desire to serve God.  “This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work.”  (1 Timothy 3:1)  But it’s so ugly when someone decides to use God in order to serve himself.

I was recently blessed at our church in Buffalo – we have two volunteers that want to clean the bathrooms.

How can we find God’s calling for our ministry?  I think that as you live passionately for God, you’ll figure it out, because He’ll show you over time.  Psalm 37:3-11 may offer some helpful insights…

v3        Live consistently for God; ‘abide’ in Him (John 15:4-8).

v4        As we ‘delight’ in Jesus by abiding in Him with sincerity and joy, He will place the desires into our heart that He wants to fulfill in our life.  And then, over time He will bring those desires to pass.

v5        God will bring our desires to pass.  We’ll need to work hard; but it won’t be ‘striving’ – it’ll be a labor of love, for Jesus’ sake.

v6-7    “Rest…wait patiently…”  God’s timing will be perfect.  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”  Proverbs 3:5-6

v8        Don’t become frustrated or worried.

v9-11   Be patient and “meek”.  Meekness is God’s power in us, under the self-control of the Holy Spirit.

 

5   We’ve already discussed ‘begotten’ and this quotation of Psalm 2:7 back in Chapter one.  Paul used Acts 13:33 to explain “begotten” as it applies to Jesus.  “God…raised up Jesus.  As it is also written in the second Psalm: ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You.”   So, Psalm 2:7 uses the word ‘begotten’ to speak of Jesus’ resurrection.  In Colossians 1:18 he called Jesus “…the firstborn from the dead”, as did John in Revelation 1:5.  So, “begotten” here means ‘risen from the dead’, which Jesus did after His crucifixion.  We also will rise someday, leaving our present earthly body in order to spend eternity with Jesus.

 

6   This quote from Psalm 110 brings up an unexpected character – Melchizedek.  He is mentioned just 11 times in the entire Bible – 9 times in Hebrews, and twice in the Old Testament.  We’ll discuss him (or Him) very fully in Chapter 7.  But it’s very interesting, and very vital, that Jesus would be a priest according to the order of Melchizedek, because the Bible said that the priests had to come from the tribe of Levi.  Jesus came from the tribe of Judah.  So, having Jesus assume the priesthood would have been going against Scripture, unless there had been an earlier example of a godly priest, serving before the ‘Mosaic Law’ was established.  And this is exactly what Melchizedek was.

The Bible doesn’t change.  “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”  (Hebrews 13:8)  Jesus said to the Father, “…Your Word is truth…” (John 17:17)  The New Covenant is the culmination of the Old; it doesn’t render it false or useless.  Actually, I think one of the greatest things that Pastor Chuck Smith’s ministry did for our time (and in my life) was to teach us to read through the entire Bible, verse by verse.  I don’t believe one can truly understand the New Testament without understanding the Old Testament.  Even though we’re no longer under the Old Testament law, we can still learn a lot about God’s character by knowing what He declared to be right and wrong under the Old Covenant.  God wouldn’t call something sin in the Old Testament that suddenly became OK in the New Testament.

Satan, and soon the Anti-Christ, want people to believe that the Bible does change.  The Old Covenant, and the New One for that matter, are too old-fashioned and restrictive for modern times.  A loving God would never impose such restrictions on people today.  He would never send anybody to an eternal hell.

God has given his people a simple message to bring the dark world – that Jesus is the Truth; His Word is unchanging; and His Love is the truest and best love.  If we can show the world that Jesus’ love totally blows away the ‘love of Hollywood’ – I think many souls will come to Him.  I don’t believe there’s ever been a time in history or culture where the people didn’t, deep inside, desire true love.  I don’t think any people ever desired hypocrisy.  The problem is that because we love sin, we’re willing to fool ourselves and settle for less than God’s best.  But sooner or later, these decisions come back to destroy us and others.  Satan, who masquerades as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14) has lied, and convinced many to follow his lies.

 

7-8   “…He learned obedience…”  If Jesus is God, and God already knows everything, how can Jesus learn anything?

Perhaps one description of ‘learning’ would be ‘to experience something different and new for the first time’.  When Almighty God put on a man’s body, came to earth, and went through all of the physical, mental, and emotional suffering that mankind faces; that was ‘new’.  I’m sure that Jesus didn’t ‘learn’ anything mentally by that experience because He is infinite; but the experience itself was something that had never been done before.  God had never before put on a man’s body and lived on earth for 33 years in the way that Jesus did.  God had never allowed men to beat Him and mock Him and put Him on a cross like a common criminal before.  So, Jesus submitted and brought honor to the Father in ‘new’ ways that had never occurred before.  Almighty God experienced physical pain in a ‘new way’ on the cross, for example.

I can still remember my first (and one of my few) homeruns when I played organized baseball as a kid.  I lined the pitch over second base, and it just kept rolling and rolling.  (The center fielder was probably eating a Popsicle out there.)  I circled the bases and crossed home plate.  I already knew intellectually what a home run was before I swung the bat, but that was the first time I experienced one in that way.

 

9   He was “…perfected…”.  If Jesus is God, and God is already perfect, then how can Jesus be ‘perfected’?

The word for ‘perfected’ can also be used for ‘completed’.  When Christ died on the cross, that part of His mission on earth was ‘completed’ in a sense.  “So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, ‘It is finished!’  And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.”  (John 19:30)

By completing His mission, Jesus became the ‘perfect’ High Priest for all of mankind, in that His death and resurrection opened the doors of heaven to ALL who would believe in Him.  Jesus is a perfect Savior.  Mankind can never claim that God doesn’t love or understand us – He suffered in all ways that humans do; and He loved us so much that He died for us.  He truly became the ‘perfect’ Savior for mankind.

“…eternal salvation…”  Since salvation is eternal, I’m glad I’ll never have to worry about losing it here on earth, or someday getting booted out of Heaven.

 

10-14   Ouch Paul – help us all to desire to keep learning and growing daily.  Help us to desire ‘the meat’ of God’s Word.

 

Chapter Six

1   “…let us go on to perfection…” – or, maturity.

Actually, I wish the author would have gone into detail about some of the topics he ‘glosses over’ here, because there are many differences among good churches pertaining to some of them.

 

2   “…the doctrine [teaching] of baptisms…”

There are two baptisms.  One is a public display of our commitment to Christ after we become born again, and the Holy Spirit enters us to dwell in us.  The other is the baptism of the Holy Spirit, when He comes upon us to empower us to live for and serve Christ.

John the Baptist said: “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He Who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry.  He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”  Matthew 3:11

(1)  Our public commitment – In New Testament times, Gentiles converting to the Jewish faith were baptized publically, being immersed in water.  John the Baptist baptized many disciples in the Jordan River; and against his objections even baptized his Savior, Jesus, at His command.  The early church baptized new believers.  The word ‘baptize’ means to ‘immerse’, which is why a lot of churches like to do baptisms in a tub, pool, or lake.  Jesus’ earthly baptism occurred in Matthew 3; His public ministry began immediately after in Matthew 4.  I think all Christians should follow Jesus’ example and be baptized, especially those who are in ministry.  It seems that Jesus set that example for us to do so

The early church never baptized infants.  This practice is not seen until about the 3rd century.

Eerdman’s Handbook to the History of Christianity, copyright 1977 by Lion Publishing, page 10

The unfortunate thing about baptizing infants is that they (obviously) have no say in the ceremony.  They obviously are unable to make a decision and commitment to live for Christ until they reach an age of mental maturity.  So, if the ‘ceremony’ leads someone to falsely believe that they’re saved, it’s very unfortunate.

The Calvary Chapels that I know do infant ‘dedication’ prayers, based on the example of Hannah’s dedication of her son Samuel to the Lord in 1 Samuel 1:24 – 2:10.  When we dedicate a child, we ask Jesus to have His hand upon him or her and to help that child to grow up to love and serve Him.  We state that the parents are committed to raising their child in the faith.  We stress the immense importance of godly parental guidance.  As a church family we want to stand with the parents and help them accomplish their task.

A good example of what baptism means is found in Romans 6:1-14.

 

(2)  The baptism of the Holy Spirit…

Scripture makes it clear that this is different baptism.  On the day that Jesus rose, He met with the frightened Apostles that same evening.

John 20:22  “And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.”

I believe the apostles were saved at this point under the New Covenant.  John 14:15-17 shows that when we are saved, the Holy Spirit takes up residence and dwells inside of us.

40 days later, just before ascending into heaven, Jesus gave the apostles a parting message.

Acts 1:8  “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Obviously, Jesus was speaking of a different event that what the apostles had already experienced.  In their first experience, they received the Holy Spirit – He came into them.  The second promise was that He would come upon them.

10 days later, this occurred when the apostles and the church received the baptism of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost.

Acts 2:3-4  “Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”

After this instance, the Bible records Peter (and others) ‘being filled with the Holy Spirit’ again in Acts 4:8 & 31.  Thus, it seems that while the indwelling of the Holy Spirit upon salvation is a one-time event, the baptism of the Holy Spirit occurs over and over again, as He chooses, in order to empower His saints to serve in ways far beyond their own natural abilities.  In a sense He comes upon us, He fills us to overflowing, and He flows out of us.

The gifts of the Holy Spirit are specified in…

1 Corinthians 12:8-10, Romans 12:4-8, and Ephesians 4:11

We all have at least one major gift.  We should ask the Holy Spirit to empower us daily, and to show us what our major spiritual gifts are, so we can use them for His glory.

Luke 11:13  “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”

Although the miracles we see in the Book of Acts can in many ways seem foreign to today’s world, I believe that the Holy Spirit still wants to work in miraculous ways through His saints and church.  I think that the Lord still does work miraculously today, and wants to do even more, but perhaps many, including myself, may tend to limit Him because of our busy, distracted way of life.  We’ve got so many different recipes and human resources that I fear that we (I) don’t trust God enough, and are not willing to listen and wait on Him the way that He wants us to.  It’s unfortunately easier to take matters into our own hands and follow some recipe than it is to wait on the moving of the Holy Spirit.

A.W.Tozer had some tough words about this…

“It is possible to run a church and all of its activity without the Holy Spirit.  You can organize it, get a board together, call a pastor, form a choir, launch a Sunday school and a ladies’ aid society.  You get it all organized – and the organization part is not bad.  I’m for it.  But I’m warning about getting organized, getting a pastor and turning the crank – some people think that’s all there is to it, you know.  The Holy Spirit can be absent and the pastor goes on turning the crank, and nobody finds it out for years and years.”

Tozer on Christian Leadership, copyright 2001 by Lion Publishing, Feb 6 entry

The miracles we read about in the Book of Acts came about by the power of the Holy Spirit through a bunch of people who believed Him; not a bunch of marketing / theologian type guys who learned how to turn a crank.  If you look at the last Verse in the Book of Acts, I would say that it really doesn’t have a definite ending.  I believe that’s because we are still living the Book of Acts; and that this will continue until the Lord’s return.

When you leave this Bible school, you’ll be writing new ‘chapters’.  The world needs to see disciples filled with the power of the Holy Spirit; not theological geniuses explaining why the gifts aren’t for today.

“…laying on of hands…”  We do that publically when we ordain pastors, elders, and deacons.  We want the flock to know who God has raised up to serve and lead them.

“…resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgement”

Until the rapture, we who believe will someday close our eyes here on earth, open them up, and see Jesus.  We’ll be with Him forever in heaven.  2 Corinthians 5:8  We won’t be judged for our sins – they’re forgiven by Jesus.  But we will be judged for our works, and that will somehow play into our eternal service to Jesus.  1 Corinthians 3:11-15, Luke 19:12-27

If Satan can’t steal our souls from heaven, he at least wants to make us useless down here by tempting us to live for this earth rather than eternity.  When we get to Hebrews 11 we’ll see the ‘Hall of Faith’, which includes a lot of people who lived for eternity.

The unsaved will not be judged until Revelation 20:11-15.  They sadly will be cast into the eternal lake of fire.  I don’t like it, but the Bible is clear on that.  It should ‘light a fire’ under us to shine Jesus’ Light before all men, pray fervently, and ask God to save the unsaved souls.

 

3   “…if God permits”  Our next breath actually is not guaranteed – it’s all up to God.  James 4:13-17

 

4-6   Here’s a huge theological question – can Christians lose their salvation?  I believe the answer is no.

em>John 14:15-17  “If you love Me, keep My commandments.  And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever – the Spirit of truth, Whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.”

1 Corinthians 6:19  “…your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit Who is in you, Whom you have from God…”

Ephesians 1:13-14 says: “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the Word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in Whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, Who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.”

The Holy Spirit dwells inside of believers, and He seals them.  He’s the guarantee of our heavenly inheritance.  If I was sealed by myself, or by another human, I’d be worried.  But since the Holy Spirit is the guarantee of my inheritance and not me, I’m not worried about losing my salvation.  If it was up to me, I would be worried; but it’s not up to me, it’s up to Him.

It is possible for one to be in a crowd of believers and experience some enlightenment, and to taste and partake somewhat of the Holy Spirit, without doing so in a saving way.  For example, back in the early days of Calvary Chapel, I’m sure there were thousands of people who were moved by Bible messages, baptized in the Pacific Ocean, and for a time witnessed that great movement of God, without actually going all the way and truly giving their hearts to Jesus.  For them it was a short-lived passing ‘fad’, rather than a life-changing milestone.

1 John 2:19  “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for it they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.”

John 6 shows this.  After Jesus fed 5,000, they declared Him to be “…the Prophet who is to come into the world” (v 14), and wanted to make Him king.  But the next day when He wouldn’t give them more free food, they turned on Him.  They had partaken in a miracle the day before; and had literally tasted it; but they were not truly saved.  They wanted to use Jesus for their personal gain – but they didn’t want to submit to His Lordship.

True Christianity means I worship the true Jesus; not a made-up façade.

John 6:12-15, 24-71

Another ‘theological debate’ is based on what does it mean to ‘eat Jesus’ body and drink His blood’?  We will discuss this more in Hebrews 9 and 10, where the writer declares repeatedly that Jesus died only once (not over and over again in daily sacrifices).  But for now, John 6:57 is key:  “…he who feeds on Me will live because of Me.”

Feeding is a lot different than tasting.  Some will ‘feed’ on Christ and ‘abide’ in Him and for Him; others will ‘taste’ Him and pretty much live for themselves.  I believe the latter are the ones that fall away as described in Hebrews 6.

If you can’t run away from Jesus, even though you sometimes want to…

(1)  You should be very thankful that He won’t let you go.

(2)  You’re kind of like Peter.  “…Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the Words of eternal life.  Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  John 6:68-69

(3)  I believe you’re truly saved.  The Holy Spirit is hanging on to you.

Jeremiah 1:4-10; 15:10,15-18; 20:7-18

 

7-8   One can listen to God’s Word all day.  But if there’s no fruit in the life, it’s a real danger signal.  Matthew 7:21-23

 

9-10   God sees our work for Him; He’s pleased, and He rewards it.

 

11-12   ‘Keep on keeping on’ until the end.

 

13-15   God is tremendously gracious.  Abraham was faithful, but as all humans he had his moments.  God promised him a son, but Abraham produced Ishmael first (Genesis 16:1-4).

 

16-17   ‘immutability’ – unchanging

‘counsel’ – plan / purpose
‘oath’ – promise / pledge

 

18-20   “…two immutable things…”  His counsel and His oath.

“So God has given both His promise and His oath.  These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie.  Therefore, we who have fled to Him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us.  Hebrews 6:18, New Living Translation

“…it is impossible for God to lie…”  To the extent that we believe that will dictate how far we go in ministry.  May God give us the faith to believe His Word fully.  When we get to Chapter 11 we’ll see that “…faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

 

Chapter Seven
1-3   Jesus is the High Priest “…according to the order of Melchizedek.”  (Hebrews 6:20).

Besides being mentioned 9 times in Hebrews, Melchizedek appears only 2 other places in the Bible.

In Genesis 14:18-20, it seems like Abram and Melchizedek shared Communion together, somewhere around 1900 BC.

In Psalm 110, written around 1000 BC, David linked the coming Messiah with Melchizedek.

(1)  Since Jesus was not a Levite, it was vitally important for His priesthood to have a Scriptural basis.  The Old Testament was very clear that the priests must come from the tribe of Levi.  If Jesus could just ignore the writings of Moses, He really wouldn’t be “…the same, yesterday, today, and forever.”  (Hebrews 13:8)  Plus, today’s so-called ‘progressive Christians’ (who unfortunately aren’t really Christians at all), who pick and choose which Bible Scriptures to believe and which not to believe would be justified: ‘Just because God called stuff sin in Moses’ day doesn’t mean that it’s still sin today – things are different now – the Bible is a ‘guide’, not the absolute truth.’

Melchizedek was a priest in 1900 BC.  Moses’s law was written in 1500BC.  So, before the law, there was a non-Levite priest; the forerunner to the eventual Messiah Jesus, Who would carry that same type of priesthood.

(2)  Was Melchizedek actually an Old Testament appearance of Jesus?  We’ll have to ask that question to Pastor Jesus up in heaven some day; but I think the answer is yes.

John 8:56-59

“‘Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.’  Then the Jews said to Him, ‘You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?’  Jesus said to then, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, ‘I AM.’  Then they took up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.”

I think Jesus (in the form of Melchizedek) and Abraham celebrated Communion 1930 years before the cross.  Jesus will tell us for sure some day.

When Jesus called Himself ‘I AM’, He was using one of God’s most holy Names.  (Exodus 3:1-2,13-14)  We understand that Jesus IS God, and that His Name is ‘I AM’.  But non-Christians obviously do not understand that.
Christian author C.S. Lewis wrote: “‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God.’  That is the one thing we must not say.  A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher.  He would either be a lunatic – on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell.  You must make your choice.  Either this man was, and is, the Son of God; or else a madman or something worse.  You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon, or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God.  But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher.  He has not left that open to us.  He did not intend to.”

Eerdman’s Handbook to the History of Christianity, copyright 1977 by Lion Publishing, page 606; quoting a book by C.S. Lewis entitled ‘Mere Christianity’

Jesus / ‘I AM’ passages found in the New Testament…

John 4:26; 6:35; 8:12; 10:7&9; 11:25; 13:19; 14:6,10&28; 15:1&5; 18:4-8

Matthew 28:20

Mark 14:62

Luke 22:27

Revelation 1:8,11,17&18; 2:23; 3:11; 16:15; 21:6; 22:7,12-13,16&20

A lot of Melchizedek’s descriptions in Hebrews sound like descriptions of Jesus.

 

4-10   In a sense Levi, although unborn at that time, tithed to Melchizedek through Abraham his progenitor.  Since Levi ‘tithed’ to Melchizedek, it showed that Melchizedek’s priesthood was greater.

 

11   We’re very fortunate that we are under grace and not the law.
Galatians 3:11  “But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for ‘the just shall live by faith.’”

James 2:10  “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.”

Galatians 3:19  “What purpose then does the law serve?…”

Galatians 3:24  “Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.”

We have figured out (by God’s grace and mercy) that we need to be saved by receiving His sacrifice on the cross – we can never be good enough to earn our way into heaven.  We need to take that simple message to the world for the rest of our lives.

If the Old Covenant sacrifices were good enough, then Jesus wouldn’t have had to go to the cross.

 

12   For believers, the requirements of the law are no more.  For unbelievers, they will be judged on their failures to live up to God’s heart and character as described in His Law.  As we have said many times now, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”  (Hebrews 13:8)  What was displeasing to God in 4000BC is still displeasing to Him today, because He hasn’t changed

The ‘priesthood is changed’.  Under the New Covenant…

(1)  Jesus is the High Priest “…according to the order of Melchizedek.”

(2)  God’s people are ‘priests’.  1 Peter 2:9-10, Revelation 1:6, 5:9-10

 

13-19   “…the law made nothing perfect…” – it just pointed out flaws.  That’s why Jesus sends out disciples instead of ‘Pharisees’.

I heard Greg Laurie tell a story about a jumping contest between two guys.  The old guy (not me) jumped about 18 inches; the young guy (Stephen Curry) jumped 7 feet.  The young guy felt really good about himself, until the referee clarified the rules:  ‘In order to win the contest, you must jump over the moon”.  Since the moon is about 240,000 miles away, both jumpers failed miserably.  When the unsaved appear before God someday, they’re not going to be compared with other fallible people that they were contemporaries with – they’re going to be compared with the perfection of God.  It’s not going to matter that they were able to jump higher than some other sinner.  The only way to ‘jump high enough’ to make it into heaven is to accept God the Son’s blood sacrifice in our place.  He is the only Door into heaven.

Matthew 23:25-28

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence.  Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.  Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.  Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”1 Corinthians 15:9  “For I am the least of the apostles…”

Ephesians 3:8  “To me, who am less than the least of all the saints…”

1 Timothy 1:15  “…Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.”

The more Paul grew, the more he realized how weak and sinful he really was.  I think the more we become like Jesus, the more we realize how far short we fall.  But we’re moving forward, and that’s the main thing.

The law doesn’t make anyone perfect.  It just shows us how imperfect we are, and thus how much we need to cling to Jesus.

 

20-21   As in verse 17, the writer quotes Scripture.  That will be one of the most vital things in all of our ministries – to stay balanced in the entire Word of God – to ‘simply teach the entire Word of God simply’.

 

23-24   All of the earthly priests eventually died – and it was a good thing that they did.  Otherwise there’d certainly be a lot more ‘denominations’.  It’s a good thing for humans to be ‘interchangeable’ as they represent the unchanging God to the people.  Our calling in ministry is not to develop a bunch of ‘Chuck Smith-ians’, but a bunch of ‘Christ-ians’.

 

25   Romans 8:34 also says that Jesus is interceding for us constantly before the Father.  The Holy Spirit is also doing this (Romans 8:27)

Angels are also ministering to us (Hebrews 1:14).  Thank you Jesus!

 

26   “…separate from sinners…” – Jesus walked among us, but never partook in sin.

I remember a Chuck Smith teaching where he was saying that the pastors had to ‘get out of their ivory towers and go minister among the people’.  We need to be ‘real people’, ‘real’ in people’s lives; but we have to be different as well.  We are called to ‘walk in the Spirit’ in the midst of a world that ‘walks in the flesh’.

Jesus has become “…higher than the heavens” – He’s at the right hand of the Father.

 

27-28   We need to take a constant shower in the Water of the Holy Spirit to stay clean; but Jesus is already totally clean.  He has always been morally perfect; in about 32 AD He became “perfected forever” in the sense that His mission to the cross to save souls was fully accomplished / completed.

 

 

Chapter Eight

 

1   “Now this is the main point…”  Once again the writer emphasizes that Jesus is the High Priest – not a difficult concept for Christian gentiles living almost 2,000 years after this letter was written; but a big deal for new Jewish Christians living when the temple and old priesthood still existed.

 

Sometimes we need to hear the same message over and over and over before it sinks in.  ‘Simply teaching the Word of God simply’ is great, because by going through everything from Genesis to Revelation, the main Biblical themes are repeated over and over as they appear throughout the Bible over and over.  Because it’s God’s Word, empowered by His Spirit, everybody listening will get something out of it – from the ‘most seasoned’ Christian to the newest one.

 

The writer also reminds us that Jesus is in heaven at the right hand of the Father.  Romans 8:34 says He’s interceding for us; and Romans 8:27 says the Holy Spirit is doing the same.  The very number of hairs on our head are all numbered; He knows what we need before we ask.

Matthew 6:7-8; 10:29-31

 

2   Moses’ sanctuary and tabernacle, and Solomon’s temple, were both ‘types’ which pointed to heavenly realities.  When Moses received the directions from God to build the tabernacle, he followed the instructions perfectly.  He didn’t try to add to them or take away from them.  He didn’t try to improve them with men’s wisdom – he just obeyed.  He couldn’t have understood the full implications of why God went into such minute detail, except that what was being built on earth represented heavenly things – “…the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man.”

 

We often don’t understand why God wants us to do certain things in certain ways, but we just know that He knows what’s best.  His way is always best.

 

For Moses’ tabernacle…

 

God raised up the necessary ‘talent’ to get the job done.

Exodus 31:1-6, 36:1-2

 

God raised up the necessary support from the people.

Exodus 36:3-7

 

At the end, everything was done in exactly the way that the LORD commanded Moses to do it.

Exodus 39:1,5,7,21,26,29,31-32,42-43; 40:16,19,21,23,25,27,29,32,33

 

That’s successful ministry – doing everything the way God says, and then seeing His mighty hand at work in the midst of the ‘project’.  When it’s completed, we can say with joy – ‘thank You Lord for letting me be a part of what You did.’

 

We’re also not supposed to add or subtract from God’s Word…

Exodus 34:1

Deuteronomy 4:2, 12:32

Proverbs 30:6

Ecclesiastes 3:14

Galatians 1:8-9

Revelation 22:18-19

 

Here’s a layout of the Tabernacle…

 

Some of the heavenly ‘implications’ or ‘types’ represented by the things within the Tabernacle…

 

The Golden Candlestick

(1)  Christ – “…I am the Light of the world…” (John 8:12)

(2)  The Saints – We are ‘light’ (Matthew 5:14-16)

(3)  The Church (Revelation 1:20)

 

The Table of ‘Shewbread’

(1)  Christ – “…I am the Bread of life…” (John 6:35)

(2)  God’s commitment to the 12 tribes of Israel (there were 12 loaves).  In the New Jerusalem there will be 12 gates, one named for each tribe (Revelation 21:12)

(3)  Perhaps it also had something to do with the 12 apostles.  In the New Jerusalem there will be 12 foundations, each with an apostle’s name on it. (Revelation 21:14)

 

The Altar of Incense

(1)  The prayers of the saints (Revelation 8:3-4)

(2)  Perhaps something to do with the need for men to be cleansed before approaching Almighty God / the spread of the Church through such ‘cleansed’ men as they go forth with God’s Word to reach the lost.

(Isaiah 6:1-8, Matthew 28:18-20)

 

The Veil

(1)  Christ’s physical body / His death on the cross which allowed men to approach God. (Hebrews 10:20; Matthew 27:50-51)

 

The Ark of the Covenant

(1)  God’s presence (even though He is in fact everywhere).  Here Moses spoke with God face to face (Exodus 33:8-11).

 

3   Jesus offered His body on the cross as the sacrifice for our sins.  In God the Father’s wisdom, there was no other option.

Matthew 26: 37-44, 56

 

4-5   Moses couldn’t have had a perfect understanding of every meaning behind every instruction for the tabernacle – but it didn’t matter.  It had to be done God’s way, because the tabernacle was a “…copy and shadow of the heavenly things…”.  So once again, we need to say that we just need to obey what God says – we don’t need to fully understand it.

 

If God just called us to tiny insignificant things, then maybe we would be able to fully grasp everything.  But God has called us to great and profound things, things that will change lives eternally; so we can’t possibly understand everything fully.

 

There are eternal rewards in heaven tied to our obedience to Jesus here on earth.  (Luke 19:16-19; Revelation 22:3-5)  I think there are consequences that we can’t even dream of.

 

We just don’t want to be like King Saul – who started well but finished horribly.  1 Samuel 15:17-23

 

6   The definition of a ‘mediator’ – “1. To help opposing sides in a dispute come to an agreement.  2. To bring about…a settlement…”

Webster’s New Basic Dictionary, copyright 2007, 20005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Co.

 

Romans 5:1,6-8  “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.  For scarcely for a righteous man will one die…But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

 

7-10   The writer quotes Jeremiah 31:31-34, written around 600BC.  Jeremiah looked ahead prophetically to the New Covenant.  God always had a plan of salvation which would culminate with the sacrifice and resurrection of His Son Jesus.

 

Then, in 32 AD, at the Last Supper, Jesus “…took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you.  For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”  Matthew 26:27-28

 

Gentile Christians have to be careful about ‘claiming’ promises made to Israel.  But the New Covenant promises are for ALL who receive Christ.

 

Hebrews 8:8  “…I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah

 

Galatians 3:28-29  “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

 

Acts 10:45  “And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also.”

 

11-12   This sounds the time of the Messianic Kingdom, when Christ will physically reign and rule on earth for a thousand years.

Zechariah 12:10-13:6

 

13   “Obsolete” does not necessarily mean ‘useless’ or ‘false’.  It just means that what was once widely used and prominent is now replaced by something better.  (Kind of like cell phones vs. the old ‘land line’ ones.)  The New Covenant is far superior to the Old One, because Jesus is now fully revealed, and His path for our salvation clearly understood.  The door is wide open, and He is calling ALL to come in.

 

 

Chapter Nine

 

1-5   A ‘picture’ of the Tabernacle was included in the notes for Chapter 8 above.

 

The ‘golden’ censer’ contained coals from the altar of incense.  When the high priest entered the ‘Holy of Holies’ behind the veil once per year on the ‘Day of Atonement’, he took the golden censer in with him, and laid it by the Ark of the Covenant.  Leviticus 16:12-13

 

Inside the Ark of the Covenant were…

(1)  Some Manna, which reminded the people of God’s faithfulness to feed them in the desert for 40 years.

(2)  Aaron’s rod that budded, showing that he was not ‘self-appointed’, but in fact chosen by God to be high priest.  Again, the fact that Jesus is now ‘High Priest’ through Melchizedek rather than Aaron’s lineage was key for Jewish Christians to understand, because in just a few short years Herod’s Temple and their former religious system would be abolished by Rome.  If their faith was in the ‘system’ rather than Jesus, it would be damaged beyond repair.

(3)  The Tablets of the Covenant – the 10 Commandments which God had given to Moses; pointing to the eternity and importance of God’s Holy Word.

 

“…the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat”

 

John 20:11-12  “But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb.  And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.”

 

The images of two cherubim draped over the mercy seat sounds like a picture of the two angels in the tomb sitting on the slab which Jesus’ human body had been laid on before He resurrected.

 

6-7   The High Priest could only go behind the veil once a year, and “…not without blood…”, because he was no less a sinner than the people he served.  The fact that we can now “…come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16) is indeed miraculous.  Once again we are reminded how much greater the New Covenant is than the Old One.

 

“…sins committed in ignorance”.  It’s kind of interesting that the people were guilty for even the unknown sins that they committed.  It just re-emphasizes once again that we had better get saved through Jesus, because NOBODY is getting into heaven any other way.

 

Leviticus 5:17

“If a person sins, and commits any of these things which are forbidden to be done by the commandments of the LORD, though he does not know it, yet he is guilty and shall bear his iniquity.”

 

8   In Moses’ time, the full revelation of Jesus’ death was not made known.  Under Moses’ law, the people were to ‘keep out’ of the Holy of Holies because of their sin; under the New Covenant people are to ‘come in’ because they are cleansed by the blood of Jesus.

 

9-11   Jesus came to earth; He was God in a man’s ‘tabernacle’ or tent.

 

12   Jesus’ sacrifice was perfect.  After the cross, the continuous offering of bloody animal sacrifices was no longer necessary.

 

Jesus sacrificed Himself so souls would be saved.  Now, we’re supposed to sacrifice ourselves for that same reason, and out of reverence for God.

 

Romans 12:1-2  “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

 

“…with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all…”

 

“Once for all” is a very important concept.  We are going to see this phrase repeated in verses 26&28 and 10:10&12

 

This is why, with all due respect, the Catholic method of continual sacrifices does not line up with Scripture, and why their belief that the elements of Communion become Christ’s actual body and blood is incorrect.  This belief essentially puts Christ back on the cross over and over again continually; but in Hebrews it is very clear that His sacrifice on the cross was once and forever.  His body was broken and blood spilled once and forever.

 

That’s part of the reason that we contrasted Hebrews 6:4-6 with John 6:53-57 previously…

 

Hebrews 6:4-6  “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good Word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew the again to repentance…”

 

John 6:57  “…he who feeds on Me will live because of Me.”

 

‘Feeding’ on Jesus is a way of saying that one is truly saved, vs. one who occasionally ‘tastes’ of Him.  One can ‘taste’ a bit of food occasionally and starve to death; but someone who continuously consumes healthy food will live.  Likewise, one can ‘taste’ of Jesus and not be saved; but one who ‘feeds on Him’ / abides in Him / lives for Him IS saved.

 

But another implication of this passage is that Catholics would use some of the verses in John 6 as a reason to believe that the Communion elements actually become Christ’s body and blood.  But this is contrary to the concept of going to the cross once for all

 

In the Old Testament, the first time the people wanted water, Moses was told to “…strike the rock…” (Exodus 17:1-6)

 

In Numbers 20:1-12, the people again complained, and this time God told Moses to “…Speak to the rock…”  But instead he “…struck the rock twice…”

 

Exodus 17:6  “Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock in Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink…”

 

Numbers 20:8  “Take the rod; you and your brother Aaron gather the congregation together.  Speak to the rock before their eyes, and it will yield its water…”

 

Numbers 20:11-12  “Then Moses lifted his hand and struck the rock twice…Then the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, ‘Because you did not believe Me, to hallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.”

 

Because Moses struck the rock a second time, he was not allowed to enter into the Promised Land.  That has always seemed a very severe punishment to me.  I think it has to do with a picture of the ‘Rock’ being Christ; and the Father’s insistence that His Son be struck ‘only once’ by His crucifixion, as we read about in Hebrews.  Christ died once and only once for our sins.  He is not to be continually offered (“struck”) – He died (was struck) once and rose once to put away our sins forever.

 

Thus, I believe that ‘striking Jesus continually’ through continual sacrifice (even though I’m sure it’s not intended or understood by many) is a very serious matter.

 

13-14   “…Christ…Spirit…God…” – the Trinity.

 

15-17   When a person writes a last will or ‘testament’ to leave their earthly possessions for their family, it comes into effect after he/she passes away.

 

18   The first Covenant always looked forward to Christ’s death.  The blood of the animals always pointed to “…the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”  1 Peter 1:19

 

That’s why it was always important for the Old Testament believers to sacrifice to God the ‘first fruits’ from their fields and the best from their flocks.  To bring garbage to God was a slap to the face of His coming Son, Who would give only His very best for mankind.  Malachi 1:6-14

 

For New Testament saints to not give God our very best is I believe an even greater sin, since we now understand all that Jesus did for us.

 

19-22   The way Creator God established things, sin is so ugly, serious, and horrible that the only way for forgiveness (“remission”) is by the “shedding of blood”.

 

23   Once again we are reminded that the Tabernacle and priestly services were “…copies…” of things in the heavens.  That’s why we have to do things God’s way.  Humans cannot improve God’s ways – we can only defile them.

 

24-26   Jesus sacrificed Himself on the cross once.

 

27-28   Jesus will appear a second time…

(1)  To rapture the Church in the air.

(2)  Then, after the reign of the Anti-Christ, as a Mighty Warrior to plant His feet on earth to bring justice.

 

Interestingly, in the Old Testament…

Joseph was rejected by his brothers the first time and sold by them to Egypt; but accepted by them the second time.  (Acts 7:13)

 

Moses was rejected by his brothers the first time, and fled to the land of Midian for 40 years; when God called him back to lead the people out of Egypt they accepted and followed him.  (Acts 7:35)

 

When Jesus comes to earth the second time, He will be accepted.

 

 

Chapter Ten

 

1-7   In verses 5-7 the writer quotes Psalm 40:6-8, which in 1000 BC spoke of the coming Messiah Jesus.

 

The Greek ‘Septuagint’ Text is quoted, which says in verse 5: “…a body hast thou prepared me…”

 

The Hebrew ‘Masoretic’ Old Testament passage (which our English Bibles are based on) reads:  “…My ears You have opened…”

 

Often, if you go back to the Old Testament passages quoted in the New Testament, you find that they don’t quite read the same.  In those cases the Septuagint is the text being used (as it commonly was in the New Testament days).  The Septuagint was a Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, written somewhere around 250 BC.  At that time, Greek was the common world language; and Aramaic (rather than pure Hebrew) had become the language of the Jews.  So the translation from Hebrew to Greek made sense.

 

It’s interesting to note that neither Jesus, nor any of the other New Testament writers, differentiated between the two texts; calling one superior to the other.

 

This is another good reason for us to read through the entire Bible over and over again, and to base our theology on the entire content of Scripture rather than just one verse.  Like a good Father, God repeats His major themes over and over again.  There are no important doctrines that hinge on just one verse in the Bible.

 

In verse 7, it says “…In the volume of the book it is written of Me – to do your will, O God.’”  It doesn’t say: ‘in only one passage it is written…’

 

When Jesus first appeared to His apostles after His resurrection, He said: “…‘These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses, and the Prophets, and the Psalms concerning Me.’”  Luke 24:44

 

If, God forbid, we ever need to go to prison or even face death for our faith, we will do so because of our rock-solid faith in the Jesus of the entire Bible.  But if we are filled with doubts produced by mixed up theology, we will run away.

 

“…Sacrifice and offering You did not desire…”  1 Samuel 15 records the sad account of King Saul learning this the hard way, when he began to selectively obey God rather than fully obey Him.  Pride began to creep in

(1 Sam 15:12,17).  Because his heart was not right, God took away his position as king (1 Sam 15:22-23).

 

We really need to be careful, because a lot of people start well, but over time just fall into ‘playing the game’.  Jesus really nailed the Pharisees for their hypocrisy in Matthew 23.  The problem with those type of leaders is that they produce disciples just like themselves.  In Luke 11:53 Jesus said: “Woe to you Pharisees!  For you love the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces.”  The word He used for love was ‘agapao’ – unconditional love.  They ‘agape-ed’ being noticed and respected by others, and the prominent position which that attention created.  But they didn’t ‘agape’ Jesus enough to fall at His feet and worship Him.

 

When we are humble, we are like Jesus (Philippians 2:3-11).  But when we are prideful, we are like Satan (Isaiah 14:12-15).

 

8-14   Jesus sacrificing Himself for our sins ‘once and for all’ is repeated in Hebrews 9:12,26,28; 10:10&12.   It’s one of the most important points of this entire letter.  The rituals of the priests were over – it was now all about having a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.

 

15-17   The author repeats a portion of Jeremiah 31:31-34 again (as in Hebrews 8:8-12), which foretold of the New Covenant around 600 BC.

 

“…Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”

 

2 Corinthians 5:9-11

“Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him.  For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.  Knowing therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences.”

 

The word for ‘terror’ is Strong’s Greek word #5401 – ‘phobos’ – where we get our English word ‘phobia’.

 

Christians will not appear before the judgement seat to determine whether or not we get into heaven – Jesus’ blood guarantees that.  But we will appear before the judgment seat to have our work on earth reviewed, and hopefully rewarded by God.  Everything we do for Him will last eternally; everything else will be burned away.

 

1 Corinthians 3:11-15

“For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.  Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is.  If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward.  If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”

 

This will be a pretty serious meeting with our Lord, and every disciple should take it seriously, because there will be eternal consequences.

 

Luke 19:16-19

“Then came the first, saying, ‘Master, your mina has earned ten minas.’  And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant, because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities.’  And the second came, saying, ‘Master, your mina has earned five minas.’  Likewise he said to him, ‘You also be over five cities.’”

 

I’m sure that in our glorified bodies we won’t be jealous of one another – but I’d like to receive authority over as many cities as Jesus wants to give me.  I don’t want to throw it all away like King Saul did.

 

Psalm 103:11-14

“For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear [reverence] Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed out transgressions from us.  As a father pities [has compassion] on his children, so the LORD pities those who fear Him.  For he knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.”

 

East and West never touch (although North and South do); so our sins will be totally removed.  The day we leave this planet and see Jesus, our sins will not be an issue concerning our salvation.  But, our passion and works for Jesus will be remembered forever.

 

18   When our sins are gone, there’s no reason to continue to make offerings for them.  Our job here on earth is to move forward in serving Jesus; not remain fixated on our sinful failures.

 

19-20   “…the veil, that is, His flesh…”  In Moses’ tabernacle, the veil separating the Holy of Holies from the rest of the tabernacle represented Jesus.  Before He came to earth, only the high priest could pass through the veil once a year.  But when He was crucified, the veil was torn, like His body on the cross.  Now, anybody receiving Jesus as Lord and Savior could enter into the Holy of Holies, the presence of God.

 

21-25   Verses 24 and 25 say we should be getting together more as the Day of the Lord’s return approaches, not less.

 

There’s something unhealthy about Christians who separate themselves from church; who see no need for it.  Many of these people have a lot of ‘head knowledge’; but to disobey God’s clear command shows that something isn’t right.

 

Maybe part of the problem is a misunderstanding of why we gather.  According to this passage, it’s to:

(1)  Consider one another (not necessarily self).

(2)  Stir up Agape Love.

(3)  Stir up Good Works.

(4)  Exhort (encourage, strengthen, admonish) each other.

“As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.”  (Proverbs 27:17)

 

Church is not supposed to be a giant entertainment center.  It’s not supposed to be like shopping for the latest and greatest new store – it’s about commitment; family; serving Jesus together with greater effectiveness than we can apart.  There is something powerful about a group of people gathering under Jesus to honor and worship and serve Him; and to love, serve, and bless one another, and the world.

 

In New Testament times, there weren’t a million churches in each community.  There weren’t that many choices – so the people had to learn how to forgive each other and get along.  So much spiritual growth occurs when we are forced to do that.  Today it’s just too easy to run away.

 

26-27   For those who reject Jesus there is unfortunately no other hope.

 

28-29   Hearing the pure truth about Jesus brings one to a decision point.  Each person must decide whether they love (‘agape’) Him more, or their sin more.  (John 3:19-21)  It’s very serious – and understandable why many prophets who made that message clear were eventually martyred.  One door to heaven through Jesus alone (John 14:6) is very offensive to those who will not bow down to Him.

 

30   Jesus came to earth the first time as a gentle rabbi; He will return the second time as a Mighty Warrior.  (Psalm 2)

 

31   Many have misunderstood the meaning of grace.  Grace is Jesus being beaten, bloodied, and crucified so we can receive something we don’t deserve – eternity with Him.

 

Grace is not ‘self’ on the throne, doing what ‘self’ wants, living for ‘self’.  Jesus is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29).

 

32-34   Apparently there was a severe cost for their faith.  Acts 8:1-4 speaks of such a time.  Also, the author was ‘in chains’ (imprisoned).  The people’s goods had been plundered.  Although I don’t wish for this, a time of persecution in America would probably be a good thing for the purity of Jesus’ church.  It would force us all to make real choices, based on our faith.  People that are playing would get out in order to save their skins; and people that are serious might lose theirs.

 

How much of a disciple am I?

 

35-38   Habakkuk 2:3-4 is quoted by the author: “…the just shall live by faith…”  Paul wrote: “…we walk by faith, not by sight.”  (2 Corinthians 5:7)

 

See Habakkuk 1:1-6; 2:1-4; 3:17-19

 

39   There is a belief “…to the saving of the soul”.  And there is a belief that does not save, as recorded in James 2:19“…Even the demons believe – and tremble.”

 

 

 

 

Chapter Eleven

 

1   “…the evidence of things not seen.”  By this definition, faith wouldn’t stand up in today’s Courts of Law.  Hard evidence is required.  Even the Old Testament required two or three witnesses.  (Deuteronomy 19:15)

 

I believe that we can have faith in ‘the evidence of things not seen’ as we look ahead, because of ‘the evidence of things we have seen’ when we look backwards.  In other words, God is faithful; He has a track record; so when we look back to what He has done in the past, we can be confident about what He will do in the future.

 

That’s why…

 

(1)  It’s important to walk in faith; because then when the next challenge comes we’ll have real life experiences about God’s faithfulness in our own life to fall back on.  If we run away every time we’re challenged, then we’ll pre-empt God from working miracles in our life; and we’ll have no personal experiences of God’s faithfulness to fall back on.

 

(2)  It’s important to know the God of the Bible.  When we understand His character, and understand that He does not change, then we can walk in confidence because of Who He is.

 

According to the Blue Letter Bible, here are God’s Names found in the Old Testament.  His Names describe some of His attributes…

 

https://www.blueletterbible.org/study/misc/name_god.cfm

 

2-3  “By faith…”   This phrase occurs 15 times in this chapter.

 

Everything we do in life is either ‘by faith’ in God, or ‘by faith’ in something other than God.  When we face a challenge, and we choose to react with the world’s ways over God ways, it’s because we have more faith in the world than in God.  Thank God that He is very gracious – I believe that He blesses and works with the hearts of those that want to grow in Him.  Even the greatest people of faith had failures at times, because they were human.  But what defined their character was not a lifestyle of continual fear and failure; but one that ultimately elevated faith in God above all else.  The difficult victories they experienced occurred because they wouldn’t let their fears stop them; and then God brought tangible results in those situations that made their faith stronger.

 

“…the worlds were framed by the Word of God…”  I’ve never had a problem with the fact that God created the worlds [or ages] by speaking them into existence.  The ‘building blocks’ for creation had to come from somewhere – an infinite, awesome Creator God makes perfect sense.  I’ve never understood atheists (who insist there is no God) – that is so illogical.  David said in Psalms 14:1 and 53:1 “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God…’”

 

Paul wrote in Romans 1:20 “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse”.  How anyone can look up at the stars at night and not believe in a logical, powerful Creator only shows the unfortunate deception that men are willing to accept in order to justify sin.

 

Genesis 1:1 says “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”   I heard Pastor Chuck Smith say in one of his teachings: ‘if you can believe that, what’s impossible to believe?’

 

4  Abel’s offering to God was better than Cain’s.  Genesis 4:1-5

 

There’s not enough information in Genesis to be dogmatic about why God respected Abel’s offering but not Cain’s.  But perhaps the fact that Abel brought the firstborn of his flock had something to do with it.  Later, under the Old Testament, the firstborn of the flock would be sacrificed to God.  The shedding of blood from the sacrifice of that animal would point ahead to Christ’s eventual sacrifice of Himself on the cross.  So maybe Abel’s offering reflected a true relationship with God.

 

Cain brought from “the fruit of the ground” – but the ground was cursed (Genesis 3:17).  Maybe this was evidence of a lack of fellowship with God.

 

Luke 21:1-4  “And He [Jesus] looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites.  So He said, ‘Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had.’”

 

Jesus values the heart behind the gift more than the gift itself.  He owns “…the cattle on a thousand hills” (Psalm 50:10); so he doesn’t need our gifts.  But when they’re given with a pure heart He cherishes them.

 

5  Enoch was ‘raptured’ by God – just as the church on this earth will  someday be taken away.  Genesis 5:21-24; 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18

 

6  “…diligently…” – not occasionally, half-heartedly, when it’s convenient.

 

7  “…Noah…warned of things not yet seen…”  Noah built a 450 foot long, 75 foot wide, 3 deck / 45 foot high boat in a time when it may never have rained before (Genesis 2:5-6; 6:15-16).  Plus, the door of the boat may not even have closed from the inside (Genesis 7:16).  No doubt the men of that era had a great time mocking this ‘fool’.  But the important thing was that by faith Noah obeyed God.  Genesis 6:22; 7:5

 

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”  Jim Elliot

http://www2.wheaton.edu/bgc/archives/faq/20.htm

 

8  Genesis 12:4 says that Abram was 75 years old when he stepped out in faith, moving to a new land.  Although he lived to be 175, that’s still a pretty mature age to make such a big change.  A lot of people tend to take fewer ‘risks’ as they get older.  May we never reach an age where we’re not willing to step out in faith for God.

 

“…not knowing where he was going.”  I think the only One who truly knows where any of us are going each day is God Himself.  God doesn’t usually lay out a clearly documented 5 year plan for us.  He leads us day by day.  I think it’s good ‘stewardship’ to have a plan; but our plan should always be contingent on what God brings into our path.

 

James 4:13-15  “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit’; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow.  For what is your life?  It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.  Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.’”

 

Plans are good – but we need to make sure we’re flexible enough to change them based on what God brings into our lives moment by moment.

 

Matthew 7:24-25  “Therefore whoever hears these saying of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.”

 

If we are doing the right things every day, and our life is built on Jesus our Rock, then we’ll be in good shape to handle whatever God desires to set in our path.

 

9-10  I like the fact that Abraham’s heart was in heaven, and not on earth.  He was OK with tents; he didn’t need condos.

 

11  Hebrews summarizes the ‘heroes of faith’ through a ‘lens of grace’.  It emphasizes their faith, and overlooks their flaws.

 

Really, both Abraham and Sarah had their moments of doubt…

 

In Genesis 16:1-4, when Abram was 85, at the prompting of his wife he had a child through Hagar their Egyptian maidservant, who was named ‘Ishmael’.  The results of that birth affect Israel and the entire world to this day.

 

In Genesis 17:17-19 when Abraham was close to 100 (v1) and Sarah was 90, he laughed at God’s promise of Isaac, and asked Him to fulfill His promise through Ishmael.

 

In Genesis 18:9-15 Sarah also laughed in disbelief when she heard the Lord’s promise of Isaac.

 

But happily, in Genesis 21:1-3, the child of promise Isaac was born.

 

12  Abraham is the father of the Jews, and he is also the spiritual father of every Christian.  Romans 4:16-18

 

Abraham was not perfect, but to be honest I’d like to be ½ the man of faith that he was.  (I’d settle for even 1/10.)

 

13-16  The greatest people of faith were “strangers and pilgrims” on this earth.  They were in the world but not of the world.  Their hearts were in heaven; they were just passing through this world.

 

“…And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return…”   ‘Backsliding’ is the easiest thing in the world to do.

 

Luke 4:5-8  “Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.  And the devil said to Him, ‘All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish.  Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours.’  And Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Get behind Me, Satan!  For it is written ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.’”

 

Matthew 13:22  “Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the Word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the Word, and he becomes unfruitful.”

 

17-19  Abraham was tested.  Every child of God has to be tested, because that’s the only way our faith and character can truly grow.  Our intellect can grow by reading about others experiences; but our hearts need to grow through our own personal experiences.  That’s when things get real.  Most people don’t like tests, but they’re necessary, because otherwise our head knowledge doesn’t make it into our hearts.

 

It had to be so confusing for Abraham when God told him to sacrifice his son Isaac.  God had told him that this was the child of promise.  But he concluded “…that God was able to raise him up even from the dead…”   He didn’t know it, but that was a picture of what God the Father would someday to do to God the Son in order to bring redemption to the world.

 

Abraham “…offered up his only begotten son.

 

John 3:16  “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

 

Abraham received his son “…in a figurative sense”.  The Greek word for ‘figurative’ is translated ‘parable’ 46 out of the 50 times it appears in the Bible.  In a sense, Abraham’s obedience became a picture or parable of God the Father’s sacrificing of God the Son.  Abraham couldn’t understand the full implications of that; but he simply obeyed God.

 

That’s why it’s so important for us to simply obey God, and to simply teach His Word.  Anything we add or subtract from it may be ruining a deeper message that God wants to present through us.

 

(A good rule of thumb: More Jesus, less psychology; more Jesus, less business models.)

 

We’re also supposed to live our lives as ‘parables’ before the unbelieving world.  A lot of people who don’t crack open Bibles or attend church services are forming opinions about Who Jesus is as they watch our lives.  Hopefully we are inspiring them to receive Jesus, read the Bible, and attend church.

 

In Genesis 15:6 Abraham was declared righteous for simply believing what God told him.  We are saved by faith in God, through grace and not by works.

 

In James 2:14-24, Genesis 21 is linked to Genesis 15:6.  The fact that Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son in Genesis 21 proved that his faith in Genesis 15:6 was the real deal.  His works proved his faith.

 

Ephesians 2:8-10  “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

 

In this passage, grace and works are linked side by side.  Those who say they love Jesus, but exhibit no practical evidence of that in their lives, should really take a step back and pray about the authenticity of their faith.

 

I think the wisest thing to do is to live in the middle of God’s will, loving and serving Him, looking ahead to eternity with Him.  Then the works will just flow from our heart.  The most foolish thing is to try to live in some gray area on the edge of grace that’s not quite sin.  When a person doing that meets God someday, they may make it into heaven by the skin of their teeth (1 Corinthians 3:15).  But the problem is, what if they were wrong in their ‘theological assessment’?  What if they were really just inside the ‘sin line’ instead of just inside the ‘grace line’?  Then Jesus will say to them on that day: ‘I never knew you – you were just playing a game – your life proved what was in your heart’.  That would be tragic.  Matthew 7:21-27

 

20-22  Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph all had some God-given wisdom about what lay ahead in God’s plan of redemption.  Joseph didn’t want to be left in Egypt when the Israelis would depart centuries later; and Moses remembered to take his bones across the Red Sea.  Joshua remembered to take his bones into the Promised Land, where he was buried.

 

23-27  Moses was another hero who was not willing to sell out God’s plan in order to secure worldly success.  Being raised as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, he could have lived as an affluent, favored Egyptian, off the sweat and slave labor of his brother Israelis.  But he couldn’t live that way.

 

28  In Exodus 12, Moses led the people to have their first Passover.  There were implications of the coming Messiah, although Moses could not have fully understood them.

 

Exodus 12:5  “Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year…”  The people had to sacrifice good, healthy animals; someday Jesus would be sacrificed as the ‘pure, spotless Lamb’.  (1 Peter 1:19)

 

Exodus 12:7  “And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses…”  The lintels extended beyond the doorposts; so the blood was essentially in the sign of a cross.  When the LORD came that night to strike all of the firstborn males, He passed over every home that had blood on the door, but the Egyptians homes, without blood, were all struck (Exodus 12:13,29).  So, those ‘under the blood’ overcame judgement and received life, just as Jesus’ shed blood on the cross overcomes our sins and brings us eternal life.

 

29-30  Miracles occurred.  Almighty God can do anything He desires to do.

 

31  God took a despised prostitute who had come to faith, and changed her life.  He gave her a good husband; together they had Boaz, who became David’s great-grandfather.  God wrote her into the genealogy of the Messiah.  (Matthew 1:1,5-6)

 

32  As before, no human failures are mentioned.  (No Delilahs; no Bathshebas.)  God’s grace covers our failures.

 

33-35  Verse 35 is one of the most abrupt transitions in the Bible.  In a sense it almost seems like the people of faith are going from invincible, comic book superheroes to poor weaklings set for the slaughter.  But the heroes of the Bible had different callings from God.  We’d all like to be the comic book superheroes rather than the martyrs.  But it’s up to God.

 

36-38  God bless these latter, suffering heroes, and those like them.  They have undoubtedly vastly outnumbered the former ones throughout history.

 

39-40  They didn’t yet receive the promise, “…that they should not be made perfect  [or complete] apart from us.”   Jesus still had to die and rise for the sins of Old Testament heroes in 32 AD, just as He did for ours.

 

 

Chapter Twelve

 

1   “…we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses…”  Does this include our loved ones who have entered heaven ahead of us?  I don’t know.

 

But I think this includes the angelic realm.  It seems that the angels watch mankind very closely, and in fact are learning much about God’s unfolding plan of redemption by watching us.

 

1 Corinthians 4:9  “For I think that God has displayed us, the apostles, last, as men condemned to death; for we have been made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men.”

 

Ephesians 3:8-10  “…I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God Who created all things through Jesus Christ; to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places

 

1 Peter 1:12  “To them [the Old Testament prophets] it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven – things which angels desire to look into.”

 

“…let us run with endurance the race …set before us”.  God is the One who should set the race path before us; not ourselves, and not others.  May God give us the clarity to hear His voice for us.

 

We are running a long distance race.  A lot of people run hard for a short time; but we are called to run the entire distance that God has ordained for us.  Philippians 3:8-16 

 

2   “…Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…”  The New Living Translation reads: “…Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith…”

 

Because mankind is so sinful, no one could ever get saved unless God initiated things by drawing us to Himself.  (“There is none righteous, no, not one…There is none who seeks after God.”  Romans 3:10-11)

 

I like the idea of Jesus as ‘author’.  Ephesians 2:10 says that we are “…His workmanship…”  Out of that Greek word comes our English word ‘poem’.

 

I also like the idea of Jesus being our “finisher” / ‘perfecter’.  We need to keep walking with Him, yielding to Him as a little obedient child would, trusting Him to get us through to the end.

 

Matthew 18:1-4  “At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, ‘Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’  Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.  Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

 

If we don’t walk in childlike humility, we are risking taking our self out of the perfect calling that God has for us.  We don’t want to pull out of the long distance race prematurely.

 

“…Who for the joy set before Him endured the cross…”   Jesus looked ahead to the incredible blessings and fruit that His sufferings would produce.  If we are shortsighted, focusing too much on this earth, we will soon become tired and discouraged.  Instead, we must be like Jesus, and have our ‘joy’ tied to eternal things rather than the physical comforts and rewards of this earth.

 

Isaiah 53:10-11  “Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief.  When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand.  He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied…”

 

Isaiah prophesied that Jesus would be satisfied with the results of His suffering, despite the cost.  Revelation 13:8 says that Jesus is “…the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”  1 John 3:16 says “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us.  And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”

 

It’s easy to know the Scriptures – but it’s hard to live them.

 

True heroes of faith give of themselves for the sake of Jesus and others.  Pretenders are really giving of themselves for the sake of themselves.

 

3-4   Most people in our western culture cannot say that they have “resisted to bloodshed” because of their faith.  We Americans are very fortunate physically; but maybe not so spiritually; because I think the lack of persecution develops spiritual weakness.  I don’t wish for persecution; but there is no doubt that if it was to occur, the true church would grow, although the inflated numbers reported in surveys would diminish drastically.  Under intense persecution there would be absolutely no reason for people to follow Jesus, other than for Jesus Himself.

 

Jesus “…endured…hostility from sinners against Himself…”  That wasn’t fair, especially for pure, sinless Jesus to undergo.  Christian leaders must sometimes allow themselves to be wronged if fighting back would cause damage to their flock.  It’s not about what’s best for the leader, but really, what’s best for the flock.

 

5-6   The New Living Translation reads: “For the Lord disciplines those He loves, and He punishes each one he accepts as His child.”

 

Proverbs 3:11-12  “My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, nor detest His correction; for whom the LORD loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights.”

 

Proverbs 13:24  “He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly.”

 

There is a proper discipline that each child needs to receive from a loving father in order to mature properly.  God our Father is the Best Father; He disciplines us all in order to make us the best we can be in Him.  “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”  Romans 8:28

 

7   “…what son is there whom a father does not chasten?”  Unfortunately, in our culture today 43% of the children grow up in a ‘home’ without a committed father.  So there are a lot of children not receiving godly discipline.  It’s another destructive tool that Satan has implanted into our culture which will eventually lead to its demise.

 

43% of US children live without their father [US Department of Census].

Stats

 

Most children [in the United Kingdom] will be born out of wedlock by 2016.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/10172627/Most-children-will-be-born-out-of-wedlock-by-2016.html

 

We should weep for our culture.  And then we should present the Gospel, with that grieving heart, in love, to the unsaved.  Jesus is our only hope.

 

8   If you’re being chastened by God, rejoice.  If not, be careful.

 

Luke 4:5-6  “Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.  And the devil said to Him, ‘All this authority I will give You and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish.  Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours.’  And Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Get behind Me, Satan!  For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.’”

 

Except where God chooses to stop him, Satan has been allowed the power to reward sin on this planet.  Someday his power will be ended; but for now God allows it for His greater purposes, within the context of Romans 8:28.

 

9-10   God chastens us for our profit, that we may become holy.

 

11   Godly chastening results in righteousness.  From the Blue Letter Bible, the meaning for righteousness includes: “integrity, virtue, purity of life, rightness, correctness of thinking, feeling, and acting.”

https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G1343&t=KJV

 

12-14   “Pursue peace with all people…”

 

The fact that we’re told to ‘pursue’ implies that it will not be easy; that it will take dedicated effort.

 

Romans 12:18  “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.”

James 1:20  “…the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”

 

“Pursue…holiness, without which no one will see the Lord”.  The implications of this verse seem very severe.  I don’t fully understand it – but it’s obvious that God wants us to pursue holiness, and to be holy people.

 

Grace does not make it OK for me to walk in un-holiness, especially if I am to serve God as a leader.

 

15   Bitter people become Pharisees.  If we’re able to accept joyfully what God has planned for us, regardless of everything and everyone else surrounding us, we’ll never become bitter.

 

Daniel 3:17-18  “…our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king.  But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.”

 

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego found true peace in their greatest hour of testing.  Whether they lived or died was OK with them, because they knew that God would deliver them one way or the other.  “…Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.”  Hebrews 11:16

 

16   ‘Grace’ certainly does not permit bitterness, fornication, or profanity (godlessness) to take root in our lives.

 

‘Profane’ / godless Esau “…sold his birthright” for one lousy bowl of stew.  Genesis 25:34 says that he “…despised his birthright”.  The birthright of that culture was given to the oldest son.  It meant that he would have the privilege of receiving a ‘double portion’ from his father’s inheritance (Deuteronomy 21:17); and take the leadership role in the family after his father’s death.  Esau foolishly gave that up for nothing.

 

The Bible often refers to the ‘God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob’.  The sad thing is, it could have been ‘Abraham, Isaac, and Esau’.  When we sell out for the world, we have no clue as to the eternal losses we incur.

 

17   Esau could not reclaim what he had given away – it was lost forever.

 

It seems that Esau reached a point where his heart became so hard that he was unable to truly repent.

 

1 Timothy 4:1-2  “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron”

 

Again, I don’t fully understand the full implications of this verse.  But it’s just simple common sense that God wants us to live for Him.  When we put Him first, everything else falls into place.  Why mess around by adopting a lifestyle that doesn’t place God first on the throne of our lives?  It makes a lot more sense just to fall at His feet, worship, and live for Him.

 

Esau “…wanted to inherit the blessing”.  I think the problem was that he wanted the blessing, but not the ‘Blesser’.  For us, the true blessing is God, the ‘Blesser’.

 

Some people don’t want Jesus.  They just want the nice things that come from Him – good marriage, inner peace, sufficient finances.  That’s why a lot of people prefer motivational speakers to Jesus.

 

18-20   This passage refers to the account of Exodus 19 and 20, when Moses ascended Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments from God.  The mountain was terrifying – it was covered completely in smoke.  It quaked; there was the sound of a loud trumpet.  It was so terrifying that the people shrank back in fear, and told Moses: “You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.’” (Exodus 20:18-19)

 

21   The people were understandably afraid.  But according to this verse, so was Moses.  He too was “…exceedingly afraid and trembling.”  The great thing though is that that Moses didn’t let his fear stop him from drawing closer to God, and obeying Him.

 

Our dark world is afraid to get too close to God, because they really don’t want to know the full truth about Him.  They don’t want the True Light to dispel their familiar, comfortable darkness.  They think they’re safer in the darkness, because that is how they see most of the rest of the world living around them.  But we are called to be like Moses – to get close to God, and then to tell others about Him and point them to Him.

 

We must never let our fear stop us from doing that.

 

22-24   The readers of this letter (including us) had come into the fullness of Christ and eternity with Him, through the New Covenant of His shed blood.  Ephesians 2:6 says that God “…raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus”.  Our standing is ‘past tense’, even though for us right now in our concept of reality, the fulfillment of the promise is still future.  The bottom line is that eternity with Christ is a sure promise for the children of God.

 

25-27   “…the removal of those things that are being shaken…that the things which cannot be shaken may remain”  These words scare me a bit; but it is necessary for God to allow shaking in all of our lives, so we can be tested, and come to a place of true honesty before Him.

 

Our faith is not a mere intellectual exercise.  We are not $100,000 per year university professors who teach facts to others.  Our lives need to be a true representation of the words that we teach.

 

All of the creation that we see and know through our natural senses will someday be replaced by “…a new heaven and a new earth…”  Revelation 21:1

 

2 Peter 3:9-13

 

28-29   As we are shaken, we will discover whether or not God is our consuming fire – our deepest passion, our truest reason for living.  And God will use what we learn about ourselves to continue to refine us, since “…He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”  Philippians 1:6

 

He truly is the ‘Author and Finisher’ of our faith.

 

“…let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.”  This sounds intense.  May God give us a fuller understanding of His grace, so that we can serve Him with the reverence and godly fear that He deserves.

 

 

Chapter Thirteen

 

1   “…brotherly love…”  #5360 ‘philadelphia’ – love of brothers and sisters

https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G5360&t=KJV

 

2   According to this verse, there must be angels who appear as humans among us.  Hebrews 1:14 says “Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?”  I think in heaven we’ll learn a lot more about how God used angels to minister to us.

 

3   Mathew 25:33-40  “…Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world…I was in prison and you came to Me…as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’”

 

Despite our ‘Facebook / Selfie’ world, we don’t need to record everything we do for God.  It’s better to let Him keep the records.  Just live sincerely for Jesus, and someday in heaven there will be a lot of people coming up and thanking you for ministering to them in ways you had long since forgotten about.

 

4   May God help us to love each other as brothers and sisters, but to have a special intimacy with our spouse as ordained by God for only him or her.  May He help us to differentiate between His Love and the flawed version trumpeted by most of Hollywood.

 

Ephesians 5:25  “Husbands, love [#25 – ‘agapao’, unconditionally love] your wives just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her”

 

1 John 3:16  “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us.  And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”

 

Jesus loves us so much that He gave His life for us.

 

Satan ‘loves’ himself so much that he’s willing to steal the lives of others.  It doesn’t matter who or what gets destroyed in his attempt to accomplish his goals.

 

5   We need to be careful of the list in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 which Paul says describe those who will not inherit the kingdom of God, because covetousness is in that list.  Covetousness is probably America’s greatest national sin.  May God help us to be wise ‘stewards’ of the finances He gives us; may we never fall more in love with material things than Jesus.

 

“…I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  God will always be faithful to us, because faithfulness is one of His strongest characteristics.  You can see it over and over again throughout the Bible.

 

6   A good indicator of how much I will be used by God on this planet will depend on the answer to this question: ‘Who do I fear more; God or man?’

 

Proverbs 29:25  “The fear of man brings a snare; but whoever trust in the LORD shall be safe.”

 

7   Honor the ‘Pastor Chuck Smiths’ and other leaders in your life.

 

8   “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”  No unsaved person wants to believe this.  Sadly, many ‘churches’, ‘pastors’, and ‘Christians’ don’t believe this.  But the true church always will, because Jesus and His Word cannot lie.  Jesus and His Word transcend all of the times and cultures of eternity.  Jesus and His Word are the foundations of true Christianity forever.

 

Build your house on the Rock of Jesus, and in the end you will stand.  Matthew 7:24-25

 

Don’t play games with God, and let His Light become darkness.

Exodus 14:19-20; Romans 1:18-32

 

Always represent Jesus properly.  The world does not to be confused by our conduct – it needs to be led to Christ through it.  Matthew 5:13

 

Proverbs 11:30  “…he who wins souls is wise.”

 

Daniel 12:3  “Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever.”

 

9   Know and understand the entire Word of God.  Speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) and be led by the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:18).  Don’t forsake the gathering of the saints (Hebrews 10:24-25).  Be able to receive from godly people (Proverbs 24:6).

 

Don’t live in what you wish was, but in what truly is.  In other words, live in reality.  Stay practical.  Be flexible while building on the Rock of Jesus Christ.  Be flexible with your ideas, but not His.

 

When you’re teaching others, avoid the urge to ‘add too much of you’.  Primarily emphasize God’s Word first, and everything else will follow.

 

Inductive Bible study:

(1)  Observe the text (what, when, why, where, who).

(2)  Interpret the text (based on the culture of the time; using the wisdom of the entire Bible in context to amplify the main points).

(3)  Apply the text (how do I apply the truths to my everyday life?).

 

Don’t get so ‘smart’ that you become stupid.

 

10   We have a holy calling.  We have been called by God to worship Him and serve the people from an altar of grace, made available to us by Jesus.

 

God will establish the ministry He has called us to.  Always work hard, remembering that we cannot and should not try to force God’s hand.  He has already ordained our ministry – we must abide in Him, and He will establish and protect us so we can accomplish His will.  John 15:1-8; 14:12

 

11-12   Jesus, the pure spotless Lamb, was crucified outside of the city gates of Jerusalem on Calvary, for our sins.

 

Leviticus 16:27  “The bull for the sin offering and the goat for the sin offering, whose blood was brought in to make atonement in the Holy Place, shall be carried outside the camp.  And they shall burn in the fire their skins, their flesh, and their offal.”

 

On the Day of Atonement described in Leviticus 16, the High Priest would take one bull and two young goats.  The bull and one of the goats would be sacrificed for a sin offering, and their blood sprinkled on the Mercy Seat inside the Holy of Holies.  Then the High Priest would lay his hands on the second goat and confess the sins of the people, symbolically placing all of their sins upon the goat.  The goat was then led out and released into the wild.  Finally, the carcasses of the sacrificed bull and first goat were carried outside the camp to be burned.

 

Jesus was sacrificed for our sins like the first goat on the cross of crucifixion; and He bore our sins like the second one, taking them away forever when He rose from the dead.

 

13   Jesus was despised and rejected by men.  But He is our King, Lord, and Savior.  Therefore, “…let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach.”

 

Association with Christ will probably not win us a lot of popularity contests.  But it will bring us into a loving family – His church.  And He will transform our hearts, teaching us to love others, even those who do not return it back to us.

 

Matthew 7:13-14  “Enter by the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.  Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

 

Matthew 5:44  “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.”

 

I’ll be working on some things (like Matthew 5:44) until the day I go to be with Jesus.

 

14   This earth is not our home.

 

15   From a prison cell, Paul wrote “Rejoice in the Lord always.  Again I will say, rejoice!”  (Philippians 4:4)

 

From the top of the world, with all of the money, power, and lust that it had to offer, Solomon wrote: “Therefore I hated life, because the work that was done under the sun was distressing to me, for all is vanity and grasping for the wind.”  (Ecclesiastes 2:17)

 

Our home is not on this planet, ‘under the sun’; it’s in heaven way beyond the sun.

 

16   The more outwardly focused, loving, and generous we are, the more pleased God will be, and the more joy we’ll have.

 

If we make the mistake of focusing too much on this planet ‘under the sun’ and all of its evils, we will become among the most miserable of all people.

 

Living in misery is not an effective way to win souls for Christ; living in joy is.

 

17   Be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

 

18   Make prayer a high and consistent priority.  Remember that your leaders are still human.  The more effectively God uses a leader, the bigger threat he or she becomes to the kingdom of darkness; and the more Satan steps up his attacks against them.  When Satan can get a visible leader to fall, much damage is done, especially to the innocent.

 

19   Apparently the writer was imprisoned when he wrote Hebrews.  (A hint that Paul wrote this letter?)

 

20-21   May God mature us all.

 

22   May we receive all of the truths contained in the Book of Hebrews, and repeat them often to many others.

 

23   Timothy apparently had been imprisoned and released.  (Another hint that Paul wrote this?)

 

24-25   May we fully understand grace.  Grace is not the license to sin; it’s the freedom not to sin.  The more we understand the solemnity and importance of eternity, the more we’ll love others, and not want to stumble them through confusing behaviors.

We’re called to be leaders; Salt and Light.  Not question marks.

May God bless you!!
Pastor Mark Siena

Categories Information | Tags: | Posted on April 20, 2016

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Service Times & Directions

: Weekend Services :

Sunday Morning: 10:00 am
Sunday Evening: 6:30 pm

: Weekday Service :

Wednesday Evening: 7:00 pm
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- Prayer Meeting

Monday Evening: 7:00 pm

- Youth Group

Wednesday Evening: 7:00 pm Friday Nights (bi-monthly)

- Men's Group

Saturday Morning: 8:00 - 10:00 am

- Ladies Bible Study

Saturday Morning: 10:30 - Noon
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- Prayer and Worship Night

First Friday of each Month: 6:30 pm
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2090 Bowen Road
Elma, NY 14059
(716) 684-9065

Calvary Chapel Niagara Frontier