Hebrews 7

If we are to be real, I broke God’s law…so did you.  So what right do we have to say we are not going to talk to a particular person or group of people about God and the offer of savlation through His Son?

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Hebrews 7

Good morning everyone.  Today, as we continue on the study through Hebrews, we will be hitting on and an extremely important question, “Why?”  Why was it necessary for Christ to come?  The short, and I pray obvious to all, answer is that man is corruptible.  We can hear from God, but let’s be real here folks, even the most willing-to-do-good politician can be led astray by power.  That’s what happened to the priesthood, which came from the tribe of Levi.  They had become so enamored with power, they had corrupted the intent of the law to suit their own purpose.  But I am getting ahead of things here.  Before we really begin our examination of why Christ’s coming was necessary, we have to go back to the Old Testament and the father of faith Abraham and a person he met in his life time, Melchizedek.

Genesis 14:18-20

18 Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. 19 And he blessed him and said: “Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; 20And blessed be God Most High,
Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.”  And he gave him a tithe of all.
Now, except for the book of Hebrews, Psalm 110:4 and here in Genesis, there is no other mention of Melchizedek anywhere in Scripture.  However, this much should be made clear.  According to scholars, Melchizedek was not a Jew.  He was from a foreign land, but, as it says here, Melchizedek and Abraham both worshipped God.
In today’s reading, it says Christ is a High Priest according to the order of Melchizedek.  Interesting, Christ is a High Priest not just for Israel, but to other nations as well.  And this leads us into the why was it necessary for Christ to come.  The Levitical priesthood, by the time Christ came on the scene, had become corrupted by power.  They administered the law to the point of excluding other people who attempted to get forgiveness of their sins unless they converted to Judaism.  But the corruption went deeper than that.  It was to the point where when it came time to make offerings, they had their own sheep to offer which they would offer at bargain rates…you know, because the sheep you were bringing as an offering had a tooth that was slightly out of place.  Yes, it was so bad the High Priests would look for the slightest blemish in order to reject your offering to line their pockets.
Were they all like this, in all likelihood, the answer to that question is no.  However, with this corrupted system, it was necessary for Christ to come for two reasons.  First reason and most important, is He became the unblemished offering to God for our sins.  This abolished the corrupted sacrificial system.  There was no longer a need to bring livestock before God because Jesus already did the work, once and for all.  The second is now salvation and forgiveness of sins became available to all, as it was always meant to be.
The example of Melchizedek, however briefly mentioned, shows even from the time of the Old Testament salvation was intended for everyone.  While Israel was supposed to be the example to the world, the world was already hearing about God.  Were there other nations who worshipped other gods?  Yes.  However, salvation, redemption and forgiveness of sins was not exclusively meant for the Israelites.  If the Old Testament example is not enough, then let’s look at the encounter between Philip and the Ethiopian from the book of Acts.
And please note when you read this, baptism is not necessary for salvation.  Faith and belief in Christ and what He did for us is what is necessary.
So, let’s tie this altogether in a nice and neat little bow, shall we?  Christ came for the salvation of all.  There is no exclusivity in whom we should speak to about Jesus.  Don’t let your heart be corrupted with a human notion of who and who should not hear about the Lord, His offer of salvation and who deserves it.  If we are to be real, I broke God’s law…so did you.  So what right do we have to say we are not going to talk to a particular person or group of people about God and the offer of savlation through His Son?  Simple answer, we don’t.

Hebrews 6

Ask yourself, why did I accept Christ?  Was it because I wanted to avoid hell or because I want to serve Him?   Did I really believe in Him or was I giving God lip service?

Hebrews 6

I want to start today’s entry with a public service announcement.  It is being co-authored by one of my cats, Lucky, who generally studies the Word with me in the morning…meaning that he sits in my lap and sleeps until his brother Rocky comes to get him to play.

Today’s entry is going to look at two important concepts: God’s infallibility and legitimate acceptance of salvation.  This second part will be harder to for some to accept as it will make them question their own heart, so we will deal with the infallibility of God first.

For some unbelievers who are comfortable in their current lives and situations, looking at Scripture and studying it, they go in with seeking ways to disprove it or look for inconsistencies.  They already have a preconceived notion in their heads and are simply looking for Scriptural evidence to support their own arguments and create suppositions of God’s character in their own mind to bolster their opinions.

A discussion I had with a non-believer once discussed the concept of polygamy, yes that’s a two dollar college word there, in the Bible.  The person was an agnostic and felt God was blessing those in the Bible who committed this act.  My argument was, nowhere in Scripture does it say God was okay with this.  God didn’t stop the choices of those men who committed it, including the two great kings David and Solomon, respectively.  He allowed it to happen because He knew men are fallible and make…well, stupid decisions.  This is not a dig to women, but when I was married, it was hard enough to be a husband with one wife.  I cannot possibly fathom the 700 plus Solomon had.  Regardless of the quip, it’s very simple.  Just because God allows it in your life, does not mean He condones it or wants you to do it.  However, He did promise Abraham He would make a great nation out of him.  And as verses 17-18 in today’s reading state, God cannot lie.  So He honored His word…oh wait, did I forget to mention how David and Solomon had to deal with the consequences of having been polygamous?  I did…well you may want to read about that.

Now, let’s examine the harder part, legitimate acceptance of salvation.  My big brother once told me that some people hear the message of getting to heaven by accepting Jesus as their Savior, have been so conditioned into fear of hell and burning forever, the accept Christ as fire insurance.  Then they go about their merry way, living their lives as if they’d never heard the message.  No change in behavior, no change in their lifestyle.  I would argue that these folks talked the talk, but refused to walk the walk.

Now remember, God sees your heart and He knows what’s really going on in you and with you.

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 them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.

Alright, let’s be clear here.  We cannot lose our salvation.  Once we legitimately have it, we’ve got it.  If we have truly accepted Christ as our Savior, He’s our Savior.  Do we screw up on occasion and fall away from Him, yes.  Does He sit there waiting for us patiently to come back?  A wholehearted and emphatic, YES.  There is no doubt in my mind the Lord has been waiting for any believer who falls away to come back and rededicate their lives to Him.  And then we come to the flip side of the coin…those who gave lip service to God.

In Matthew and Paul’s Letter to the Romans, two very simple illustrations of what I’m talking writing about are presented.  First those who give lip service to God and then think doing things in their own strength is the demonstration of how much they believe.  The second has to do with what God sees when He looks at those accepting the sacrifice of His Son.

Matthew 7:21-23

21“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

So here is the part where you examine yourself.  Are you doing things in your own strength and what you think you should be doing for God?  Or are you letting Him direct your path and what you do?  I can tell you there are times when I have gotten the message wrong from Him and just gotten all messed up.  It was only when I was alone and really focusing that I got my head back in the game.  Now, here is the next part of the equation…where God sees your heart and what’s really there, which has a direct bearing on the previous verses.

Romans 10

When you read this chapter from the book of Romans, examine yourself with an objective eye.  Ask yourself, why did I accept Christ?  Was it because I wanted to avoid hell or because I want to serve Him?   Did I really believe in Him or was I giving God lip service?  You may not like what you see, but there is an opportunity to change the reflection in the mirror, and that’s by truly dropping to your knees and accepting Christ and then living for Him by letting Him lead and guide you in all things.  When He’s in your heart, you will never get steered wrong.

Hebrews 5

Stagnation and lack of cultivation spoils milk and is the ultimate garden killer.  It’s the same within the life of the believer.

Hebrews 5

So thus far we have examined two concepts as we have traveled through Hebrews, with the first being the basics of what is needed for salvation, the second being the difference between the believer and unbeliever.  And now we move towards the believer and growth in Christ.

Let’s picture the church as a garden with Jesus as the gardener.  Jesus uses a similar illustration when He calls Himself the vine with us being the fruit.

John 15:1-8

1“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
5“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.
See as we we grow in Christ, we need to mature and grow.  That’s the concept of bearing fruit.  In the concluding paragraph of today’s reading the author looks at this concept from the perspective of those who are still immature in Christ.  Using the illustration of food vs. milk, the author compares who are still new in Christ to those who have walked for longer and have now graduated to solid food.
So how do we bring this altogether…by examining ourselves.  I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, I don’t know everything.  But I do know what Scripture says and I do my best, through prayer and the strength Christ provides me to apply those concepts.  In addition, when people ask me about my faith…I tell them the unfiltered, unadulterated truth.  I also tell them their sins are their own to talk to God about and I am no one to judge.  If they want prayer, I’ll pray with them.  If they want to know how to reach for Christ’s Hand to get into the boat, well by all means, I’ll do that with them too.
But I will admit, I have failed in certain areas.  I have had two friends over the years whom I have led to Christ…problem is that I made no follow-up with them.  They seem to be doing alright, as I have kept in touch with them, but without someone else to mentor them, which I couldn’t do, they have not really had the chance to mature.
So here is the deal, you want to show maturity as a Christian, look at the fruit you are producing.  And don’t look at it as whom you’ve led to Christ.  Look at it from are people seeing something different about you in your workplace and your general environment.  Do they see you finding joy in all things as Paul spoke about in his Prison Letter to the Philippian church.  Invite your friends or neighbors, who may not be believers or who may be, but have been misled or not had it really explained.  Get involved in a Bible study where you can mature and grow.
Stagnation and lack of cultivation spoils milk and is the ultimate garden killer.  It’s the same within the life of the believer.

Hebrews 4

Brothers and sisters, there is a difference between believers and non-believers.  That difference is the ability to rest in the Lord and for those who believe, we are already there.

Hebrews 4

Today’s study examines the primary difference between the believer and the non-believer.  It’s important to look at this difference because of some of the false teachings that say we have to keep working for our salvation.  There are teachings that say we have to add more to what Jesus has done and that is just plain wrong brothers and sisters.

What’s the difference between the believer and the non-believer?  Very simply, it’s the ability to enter the Lord’s rest.  You see in Genesis, after He made the world and everything in it and said it was good, God rested.  But then mankind sinned against God, was exiled from the Garden of Eden and we are told in Genesis:

Genesis 3:17 – 19

17 Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’:
“Cursed is the ground for your sake;
In toil you shall eat of it
All the days of your life.
18 Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you,
And you shall eat the herb of the field.
19 In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread
Till you return to the ground,
For out of it you were taken;
For dust you are,
And to dust you shall return.”
Now, let’s not misread this.  God is not saying the fall of man out of paradise was Eve’s fault.  What He is saying, however, is that a man needs to have his own mind and make sure he is heeding God first above all others.  God gave Adam specific instructions of what he could and couldn’t eat, but Adam listened to Eve despite what God said.  This caused Adam and Eve to be cast out of the Garden.  Why is this important?  Well because when you sin, you may think, “Well this is only effecting me.”  However, if there are people you care for, your sin will have an effect on them as well.
So here we are, cast out of paradise, the place where, even though he was told to work in it, Adam always managed to find rest because he had fellowship with God.  If we look further down the road of history, we come to the Israelites who had been wandering around the desert for 40 years.  But wait, I skipped the part where the reason they wandered was because when He told them to go and conquer the Promised Land and they didn’t believe Him.  You can read about this in Numbers 14.  When the Lord makes a promise of rest, you can be assured, it’s gonna happen.  But when you are disobedient as a non-believer, you won’t even get that opportunity.
So now we come to the difference between the believer and the non-believer.  As today’s reading demonstrates, when we accepted Christ, we already accepted that rest.  Yes, He is working on us to make us better people.  Yes, we still fail every single day in some form or another.  But we have rest in Him.  We don’t have to work our way into heaven anymore because He has already done the work for us.  He went to the cross for us.  Good deal right, we get eternal life and He gets…us.
Non-believers, I’d like to think, for the most part are good intentioned people.  But I have that perspective because of working to look at things through the eyes of grace.  And when I see good intentioned people who I know have not accepted Christ’s offer of salvation, it breaks my heart.  I watch them, day after day, stress about things that are of this world and not focusing on Christ and what He wants them to do.  So when they ask me why I can always be so relaxed about things, I let them know.  Then it’s up to them what they want to do with the knowledge.
Brothers and sisters, there is a difference between believers and non-believers.  That difference is the ability to rest in the Lord and for those who believe, we are already there.

Hebrews 3

Try doing something for someone you don’t like, trust or you know is just a bad seed.  It’s a little bit harder.  But see through Christ, we are destined for great things.  He offered us salvation from our sins, the greatest gift of all. 

Today’s reading out of Chapter 3 of Hebrews brings up an interesting, and often forgotten, point.  Jesus is greater than what came before Him, so what He offers is greater than what we had before.

Follow me if you would.  Starting in the first verse, the author of Hebrews speaks about Moses.  Moses who was considered faithful and led God’s people out of Egypt.  The author speaks of Moses as “servant, for a testimony of things which would be spoken afterward.”  But see, Moses sinned.  He was disobedient to God in a single instance of anger and frustration.  And that is a problem that many non-believers don’t seem to understand.

Most non-believers don’t seem to get that you break one commandment, if you are disobedient to God just once, you break the law.  Ergo, you are sentencing yourself.  But, let’s be real here, we have all broken one commandment or another at some time or another.  Yes, that goes for you too believer.  You are nothing but a dirty, rotten, no-good sinner just like unbelievers are.  So what’s the difference between an unbeliever and a believer?  Real simple answer.  Faith in Christ having taken your punishment upon Himself.

See, Moses was human.  Yes, he was designated by God to do really great and awesome things, but he was still an ordinary guy, subject to the same issues, problems and frustrations that we are.  Jesus was the only begotten Son of God.  Yes, he was human and, again subject to the same things Moses was, but the difference is, He did not sin.  Jesus never yielded to His human tendency to be disobedient, because He was greater than that.

Now, this is not to promote an elitist mentality, because first and foremost, Jesus was a Servant.

John 13:2-14

And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, )rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. Then He came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him, “Lord, are You washing my feet?”
Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.” Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet!”
Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.”
Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!”
10 Jesus said to him, “He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.” 11 For He knew who would betray Him; therefore He said, “You are not all clean.” 12 So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. 14 I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.
So let’s have a quick anthropology lesson, the servant in a household of Biblical Israel who had to wash the feet of guests who came in from the road was the lowliest servant in the household and it was the most undesirable job to have.
So now we look at Jesus.  The Apostle, our High Priest and the One who died to take away our sins.  And here He was washing the feet of His disciples.  All of His disciples, even the one who betrayed Him.  That is a sign of true greatness and obedience.  Doing something for someone you know is going to harm you.
You see it’s easy to serve those we like.  “Hey, we like you, so we are going to help you out.”  Try doing something for someone you don’t like, trust or you know is just a bad seed.  It’s a little bit harder.  But see through Christ, we are destined for great things.  He offered us salvation from our sins, the greatest gift of all.  So now we need to move beyond and past the ordinary, which is all we were capable of before, and move on to the greater things He has for us now.

Hebrews 2

Fleshly death is gonna be easy, but spiritual death is eternal.  You just don’t come back from that.

So the last time I discussed how faith in Jesus was the only thing necessary for salvation.  Now I’d like to give insight into salvation itself.  Now, as I have stated in the past, these are all my own personal insights, feel free to disagree with me.  I am okay with that.

There are people who feel once they are saved, that’s the end of it.  They don’t have to do anything more after that.  And in one respect, they don’t.  You can’t keep your salvation by working to keep it.  It was completed when Jesus died on the Cross for us.  However, there is another aspect to salvation and that’s walking it out.

See once you are saved, you start to see certain things as they truly are and from God’s perspective, not your own.  People have a tendency to rationalize what they are doing in order to keep going in the same behavior they have always gone.  God doesn’t want this.  He wants you to see and understand that the old way of doing things isn’t the right way of doing things, no matter how often that “worked for you.”  He wants you to step away from that old life and walk the new life He has planned, and has always had planned, for you.

From Paul’s letter to the Ephesian Church

Chapter 4:20-22

20 But you have not so learned Christ, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.

And from one of Paul’s letters to the Corinthian Church

1 Corinthians 5:16-19

16 Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

For those who have not given their hearts to the Lord, I get it.  This is going to be gibberish to them.  But for us who have, we need to remember and keep in mind, Jesus was made like us.  He knows us and understands what we go through.  So many times I have heard brothers and sisters in Christ say, “Well God doesn’t get the fact that I have to do this this way.”  I would argue that way of thinking is wrong, but just rationalization for committing old behaviors.

Follow me if you would and look at Hebrews Chapter 2.  See we, humans, are lower than angels.  Yes folks, God loves us, but where strength, ability, speed, mental acumen are concerned, we are lower than they are.  Now, in Hebrews we see this, Jesus was made lower than the angels, in other words like us.  He chose to suffer the same temptations, human emotional states, be subject to illness and most importantly of all, death.  And He did all this to reconcile us to God, so that we don’t have to suffer eternal death.  Fleshly death is gonna be easy, but spiritual death is eternal.  You just don’t come back from that.

So, if you’ve given your life to the Lord, don’t go back to your old ways and doing the old crap and garbage Jesus has pulled you away from.  He’s cleaning you up, making you a better human being than the one you were before.  I tell people all the time, there is only one person I am trying to be better than…the person I was yesterday.  But see, here is the flip side to the coin…I can only do that with Jesus walking by my side.

Hebrews 1

We do not need to pray to angels or saints to reach God.  God’s Hand is already reaching out to us and He is the only One we need to pray to.

Faith in Christ is the very foundation of who we are as believers.  Faith that He has things well in hand and knows exactly what He is doing as He works in our lives.  But there are sects of believers who will question why they can’t pray to other saints or make requests of angelic beings.  Well the answer to that is simple enough…they aren’t the only begotten Son of God.

See brothers and sisters, in the Old Testament, God revealed Himself through various intermediaries an example of which were the prophets.  I say an example because one time, God used a donkey.  Read the story of Balaam in the Old Testament to see what I am talking about.  Regardless, after Christ came, God revealed Himself through His Son.  The intermediaries became obsolete and ceased to be necessary because now the division between us and God is gone and we can speak to Him directly because of Jesus.

Secondly, God made “the worlds” as the author of Hebrews puts it through Jesus.  Logic dictates since God made the worlds, which includes the heavenly realm, then He created all the beings in it.  Therefore, contrary to some beliefs, Jesus cannot be an angel or an angelic being as verses 3-4 so clearly state:

Hebrews 1:3-4

who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.

Third, God expressed His own perfection through His Son, who was perfect and sinless, as it refers to in verse 3 above and therefore was able to be the perfect sacrifice for our sins, abolishing the sacrificial system and making it so that all who believed could be given salvation.  Further evidence of God revealing Himself through His Son is found in the Gospel of John.

John 14:8-11

Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.”
Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. 11 Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.
But here is the kicker on this one folks, God loved us so much that no matter how many bad things or screw ups we’ve made in the past or how many are coming, and He does know them, He sacrificed His only begotten Son for us and Jesus obediently went to the cross, regardless of what it cost Him.
Finally, and the real point of today’s entry, a created being cannot worship its equal.  Think of it in military ranks.  A private is not going to worship another private nor a general another general.  Angels are created beings, as discussed earlier and one angel is not going to worship another angel.  Jesus is God Himself revealed.  He is sitting at the right hand of the Father, angels are not.  Angels have specific duties such as serving believers, protecting the helpless, proclaiming God’s messages and executing His judgment.
So what does this all mean?  As a foundational part of being a believer, we must keep at the forefront of our minds that Christ, and no other created being, is the intercessor and intermediary for us with the Father.  We do not need to pray to angels or saints to reach God.  God’s Hand is already reaching out to us and He is the only One we need to pray to.