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    • July 6, 2016 5:19 PM EDT
    • THE BOOK OF HEBREWS
       
      HEBREWS 1
       
      OPENS WITH A SUPERIOR SAVIOR
       
      The structure of Hebrews is a different from other New Testament books; it begins like an essay, continues as a sermon and ends like a letter.
       
      Obviously, the writer was trying to reach Jewish Christians; but it is also written to a Greek frame of mind with its analysis of Jesus as the ultimate reality. That approach to the nature of Jesus spoke to the thinking found in Greek philosophy.
       
      The earliest statement on the authorship of Hebrews comes from Clement of Alexandria, who said that Paul wrote it in Hebrew and Luke translated into Greek (Eusebius, History 6.14.2).
       
      Who wrote Hebrews? The human author is unknown, but the inspiration of the Holy Spirit is evident.
       
      When was Hebrews written? Probably somewhere around 67 to 69 A.D.
       
      The reference to Timothy (Hebrews 13:23) places it fairly early.
       
      The present lack of physical persecution (Hebrews 12:4) puts it fairly early.
       
      The lack of any reference to the destruction of the temple probably puts it before 70 A.D., when Jerusalem and the second temple were destroyed. Since the writer to the Hebrews is so concerned with the passing of the Old Covenant, it seems unlikely that he would have ignored the destruction of the temple if it had happened BEFORE he wrote.
       
      Hebrews is a book deeply rooted in the Old Testament.
       
      Hebrews has 29 quotations and 53 allusions to the Old Testament, for a total of 82 references. Significantly, Hebrews does not refer even once to the books of the Apocrypha.
       
      Hebrews is basically a book that exhorts discouraged Christians to continue on strong with Jesus in light of the complete superiority of who He is and what He has done for us.
       
      Verses 1-2a tells us Jesus brings a revelation superior to that of the prophets of old.
       
      "God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son,"
       
      God...This is how the book begins. There is NO attempt to prove God's existence; it is simply a self-evident given. Hebrews begins with an idea basic to the Bible: God exists, and He speaks to man.
       
      Who at various times and in different ways spoke...
      The revelation given through the prophets was brought in various ways - sometimes through parables, historical narrative, prophetic confrontation, dramatic presentation, psalms, proverbs, and the like.
       
      The idea is that the prophets spoke to the fathers in various ways; not that God spoke to the prophets in various ways (though that is true also).
       
      God spoke to Moses by a burning bush (Exodus 2), to Elijah by a still, small voice (1 Kings 19), to Isaiah by a heavenly vision (Isaiah 6), to Hosea by his family crisis (Hosea 1:2) and to Amos by a basket of fruit (Amos 8:1).
       
      God spoke in a spectrum in the Old Testament; Jesus is a prism that which collects all those bands of light and focuses them into one pure beam.
       
      These last days refers to the age of Messiah. It may be a long period, but it is the LAST period.
       
      Spoken to us by His Son: It is NOT so much that Jesus brought a message from the Father; He IS a message from the Father.
       
      The revelation from Jesus Himself was unique, because not only was it purely God's message (as was the case with every other inspired writer) but it was also God's personality through which the message came.
       
      The Son does not speak in Hebrews; the Father speaks concerning the Son. The book of Hebrews is the Father telling us what the Son is all about.
       
      Verses 2b-3 tells us A SEVENFOLD description of the glorious Son.
       
      "Whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,"
       
      1. He is heir of all things - befitting His status as firstborn over all creation confirmed in Colossians 1:15.
       
      2. He made the worlds (the very ages).
       
      3. He is the brightness of His (the Father's) glory. Brightness is apaugasma, which "denotes the radiance shining forth from the source of light"; Philo also used the term of the Logos.
       
      Jesus is the "beam" of God's glory; we have never seen the sun, only the rays of its light as they come to us. Even so, we have never seen the Father, but we have seen Him through the "rays" of the Son.
       
      4. He is the express image of His person: The idea is of an exact likeness as made by a stamp.
       
      5. He is the One upholding all things by the word of His power, but upholding is better thought of as "maintaining." The word does not have the idea of passively holding something up (like the mythical Atlas held the earth), but of actively sustaining.
       
      In His earthly ministry, Jesus constantly demonstrated the power of His word. He could heal, forgive, cast out demons, calm nature's fury all at the expression of ONE word.
       
      6. He Himself purged our sins:
      Here, the important idea of an external purification for sins is introduced. This is far apart from the idea that we can purify ourselves (as the Pharisees thought).
       
      7. He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high: His position alone is enough to set Him above all angels. Jesus Christ now SITS at the right hand, because Jesus COMPLETED His work. It is finished.
       
      Verse 4 tells us Therefore, Jesus is so much better than the angels.
       
      "Having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they."
       
      Having become so much better than the angels...
       
      In what sense did Jesus become better than the angels? Isn't He eternally better than the angels?
       
      Jesus certainly is eternally better than the angels. But He became better in the sense that He was made perfect (complete as our redeemer) through sufferings (Hebrews 2:10) - something NO angel has ever done.
       
      A more excellent name than they...
       
      Jesus' superior status is demonstrated by a superior name (which is NOT merely a title, but a description of nature and character).
       
      The rest of Hebrews 1 will prove from the Scriptures that Jesus is better than the angels, but why is it important to understand that Jesus is better?
       
      1. Because we often best understand things when they are set in contrast to other things.
       
      2. Because the Old Covenant came by the hands of angels to Moses, but a better covenant came by a better being, Jesus. It might have been easy for first century Jews to dismiss the gospel thinking it came at the hands of mere men - the apostles. But here we see the Divine (superior to angelic) coming of the gospel.
       
      3. Because there was a dangerous tendency to worship angels developing in the early Church, told to us in Colossians 2:18, Galatians 1:8, and Hebrews shows that Jesus is HIGH above ANY angel. AND THAT DANGEROUS TENDENCY IS FAR WORSE TODAY.
       
      WE HAVE FALSE DOCTRINES AND FALSE TEACHINGS AND FALSE TEACHERS WHO FALSELY PROCLAIM AND SAY..YOU COMMAND THE ANGELS. SUMMON YOUR ANGELS. TELL YOUR ANGELS TO GO GET YOUR MONEY, YOUR HEALING, YOUR BLESSING, YOUR NEW JOB, YOUR NEW HOUSE, YOUR SPOUSE.
       
      4. Because there was the heretical idea that Jesus Himself was an angel, a concept which degrades His glory and majesty.
       
      5. Because understanding how Jesus is better than the angels helps us to understand how He is better than any of the "competitors" to Him in our lives.
       
      In this sense, the purpose of Hebrews is like the purpose of the Transfiguration. REMEMBER MARK 9:7, "This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!"
       
      AND THE BIBLE PROVES Jesus is superior to the angels.
       
      Verse 5 tells us Jesus is superior to the angels because He is the Son of God, as shown in Psalm 2:7 and 2 Samuel 7:14.
       
      "For to which of the angels did He ever say: "You are My Son, Today I have begotten You"? And again: "I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to Me a Son"?"
       
      The more excellent name of Hebrews 1:4 is the name Son; though the angels may collectively be called "sons of God" (Job 1:6), but NO angel is EVER given that title individually.
       
      Today I have begotten You...
       
      Begotten speaks of the equality of substance and essential nature between the Father and Son; it means that the Father and the Son share the same being.
       
      We must avoid the tendency to promote Jesus' deity at the expense of His humanity.
       
      The incarnation means that He is FULLY God and FULLY man; no single book stresses both themes more than the book of Hebrews.
       
      Verses 6-7 tells us Jesus is superior to the angels because angels worship and serve Jesus, who is their God, as shown in Deuteronomy 32:43 (in the Septuagint and the Dead Sea Scrolls) and Psalm 104:4.
       
      "But when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says: "Let all the angels of God worship Him." And of the angels He says: "Who makes His angels spirits and His ministers a flame of fire."
       
      FIRSTBORN was as much a concept as it was a designation for the one born first; since the firstborn son was "first in line" and received the position of favor and honor, the title "firstborn" could be given to indicate that someone was of the HIGHEST position and honor.
       
      DID YOU KNOW...Many of those NOT born first in the Bible are given the title "firstborn." David is an example of this (Psalm 89:27) and so is Ephraim (Jeremiah 31:9).
       
      Rabbis used firstborn as specifically a Messianic title. One ancient Rabbi wrote, "God said, As I made Jacob a first-born (Exodus 4:22), so also will I make king Messiah a first-born (Psalm 89:28)."
       
      Let all the angels of God worship Him...
       
      Jesus is superior because He is the object of angelic worship, NOT an angelic worshipper. They worship Him; He does NOT worship among them.
       
      AND WE KNOW...Revelation 5 gives a glimpse of the angelic worship of Jesus.
       
      Furthermore, Jesus is Lord of the angels....
      They are HIS angels and HIS ministers. The angels belong to Jesus, and He is NOT among them.
       
      Verses 8-12 tells us Jesus is superior to the angels because the Father Himself calls Him (and not any angel) God and Lord (Yahweh), as shown in Psalm 45:6-7 and 102:25-27 from the Septuagint.
       
      "But to the Son He says: "Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your Kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You With the oil of gladness more than Your companions." And: "You, LORD, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You remain; And they will all grow old like a garment; like a cloak You will fold them up, and they will be changed. But You are the same, and Your years will not fail."
       
      Your throne, O God...
       
      The mere address is enough; the Father calls the Son God.
       
      Some argue that there are many beings called "gods" in the Bible, like Satan (2 Corinthians 4:4), and earthly judges (Psalm 82:1 and 6). So they say, "So what if Jesus is called a 'god'?"
       
      But these others are SUPPOSED gods, PRETENDERS to their throne. If Jesus is not the true God, He is a false god, like Satan and the wicked judges of Psalm 82.
       
      But Jesus is the True and Living God, called so here by God the Father; and also by John in John 1:1, by Thomas in John 20:28, and by Paul in Titus 2:13 and 3:4.
       
      Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You...
      This passage shows striking interaction between the Persons of the Trinity. God, Your God speaks of the Father, and His position of authority over the Second Person of the Trinity; You speaks of the Son; anointed has in mind the ministry and presence of the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Trinity.
       
      The Son is not only called God, but Lord (Yahweh) as well (Hebrews 1:10), and the Son is described with attributes that God alone has.
       
      Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity, is the Creator (You, LORD, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth).
       
      Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity is self-existent (They will perish, but You will remain).
       
      Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity is sovereign (Like a cloak You will fold them up, and they will be changed).
       
      Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity is immutable, unchanging (You are the same), and eternal (Your years will not fail).
       
      Verses 13-14 tells us Jesus is superior to the angels because He has sat down, having completed His work, while the angels work on continually, as shown in Psalm 110:1.
       
      "But to which of the angels has He ever said: "Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool"? Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?"
       
      Sit at My right hand...
      Anyone who sits in the divine presence shows that they have the perfect right to be there; there are NO SEATS for the angels around the throne of God, because they are constantly busy praising God and serving Him.
       
      But to which of the angels has He ever said: "Sit at My right hand." In the same way, the angels do NOT "relax" before God. They "stand" before the Father, but the Son sits down - because He is NOT a subject, He is the Sovereign.
       
      DID YOU KNOW THAT THE HIGH PRIEST WAS NEVER ALLOWED TO SIT DOWN WITHIN THE HOLY OF HOLIES IN THE OLD TESTAMENT? HE STOOD IN THE HOLY OF HOLIES AND DID WHAT GOD COMMANDED OF THE HIGH PRIEST AND THEN HE LEFT. HE DID NOT SIT DOWN.
       
      WHY?
       
      BECAUSE THE HIGH PRIEST JOB WAS NEVER COMPLETE AND FINISHED, BUT A CONSTANT ONGOING DUTY. OFFER SACRIFICES DAILY. PRAY FOR FORGIVENESS OF SIN OF THE NATION, THE TOWN, THE FAMILY, AND THE INDIVIDUAL.
       
      BUT, JESUS CHRIST AS OUR SAVIOR, AS OUR HIGH PRIEST IS NOW SEATED, AT THE RIGHT HAND OF THE FATHER...BECAUSE HIS WORK IS COMPLETED.
       
      The angels ARE ministering spirits, NOT governing spirits; service, NOT dominion is their calling.
       
      Angels, in that respect, are like a toy that won't quit; they have to keep working, while the Son can take a posture of rest, because He is the Son & HE COMPLETED HIS WORK.
       
      Jesus is also called a servant and a minister, but this is part of His voluntary humiliation, NOT his essential nature-as is the case with the angels.
       
      ALMIGHTY GOD WANTS US TO KNOW THAT JESUS CHRIST IS HIM IN HUMAN FORM. THAT JESUS CHRIST IS NOT AN ANGEL, THAT HE IS THE LEADER OF THE ANGELS. JESUS CHRIST MINISTERED, SERVED, WAS HUMBLE, AND WALKED AMONG MANKIND SO THEY COULD TOUCH HIM AND SEE HIM AND KNOW HIM...BUT JESUS CHRIST IS LORD...JESUS CHRIST SITS AT MY RIGHT HAND...BECAUSE HE WORK IS COMPLETED...PERFECTLY...THERE IS NOTHING ELSE TO BE DONE...
       
      JESUS CHRIST DID IT ALL!

    • July 6, 2016 5:18 PM EDT
    • HEBREWS 2
       
      OPENS WITH JESUS, OUR ELDER BROTHER
       
      Therefore...Because of the SUPERIORITY of Jesus to the angels, we MUST give heed to Jesus.
       
      Verse 1 tells us the lesson of Hebrews 1 is applied: listen and do NOT drift away.
       
      "Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away."
       
      WE ALREADY KNOW FROM PREVIOUS STUDIES that the use of THEREFORE in Hebrews is instructive; it makes us pay attention to a point of application after the writer has developed a principle. The Scriptural fact of Jesus' superiority over the angels has life-changing application - and now we must consider the application.
       
      What we MUST DO is give more earnest heed to the words of Jesus. It's easy to think this exhortation to give the more earnest heed is directed to unbelievers; but it is something "MATURE" Christians must be challenged with also. We can become desensitized to the glory of Jesus' message, thinking we know it all.
       
      AND TO GIVE THE MORE EARNEST HEED has NOT only the idea of HEARING carefully, but ALSO IN DOING what we have heard - and we must give the more earnest heed.
       
      WHY?
       
      GOD ANSWERS QUICKLY....If we do NOT give the more earnest heed, we WILL drift away. Drifting is something that happens quite automatically when we are NOT anchored to anything solid; if we are NOT "anchored" in the superiority of Jesus, we WILL drift with the currents of the world, the flesh, and the devil.
       
      AND THIS ALSO TELLS US QUITE CLEARLY...we do NOT have to do anything to simply drift away; most Christian regress comes from a slow drifting, NOT from a sudden 180 DEGREE departure.
       
      A GREAT ANALOGY is told of an ungodly farmer who died, and they discovered in his will that he had left his farm to the Devil. In the court, they did NOT quite know what to do with it-how do you give a farm to the Devil? Finally, the judge WISELY decided: "The best way to carry out the wishes of the deceased is to allow the farm to grow weeds, the soil to erode, and the house and barn to rot. In our opinion, the best way to leave something to the Devil is to do nothing."
       
      We can leave our lives to the Devil the same way- doing nothing, drifting with whatever currents will drive us instead of STANDING on what Jesus tells us, Jesus promises us, and what Jesus warns us against and what to beware of.
       
      Verses 2-4 tells us the lesson emphasized: how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?
       
      "For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?"
       
      The word spoken through angels is a way of describing the Mosaic Law, which was received … by the direction of angels confirmed to us in Acts 7:53. The idea is that the law was "delivered" to Moses by the hand of THE ANGEL OF THE LORD.
       
      The concept that angels HAND DELIVERED THE TABLETS OF THE LAW is found in Deuteronomy 33:2, Acts 7:53, Galatians 3:19.
       
      The Mosaic Law WAS steadfast and strict (every transgression and disobedience received a just reward). It demanded to be taken seriously. Mankind wanted to know WHAT WAS GOD'S IDEA OF A PERFECT SINLESS MAN...how man could live, be seen and counted perfect and righteous before GOD THE ULTIMATE JUDGE AND CREATOR. GOD GAVE MOSES THE TEN COMMANDMENTS...JUST 10...AND ONLY JESUS FULFILLED THEM PERFECTLY.
       
      How shall we escape?
       
      If we MUST take the word which came by angels seriously, how much more seriously must we take the word which came by the Son of God - who has been proven to be greater than the angels?
       
      JESUS CHRIST IS...A GREATER word, brought by a GREATER Person, having GREATER promises, will bring a GREATER condemnation if JESUS CHRIST is neglected.
       
      Therefore, we must not neglect so great a salvation. The word NEGLECT is "amelesantes", which is used in Matthew 22:5 (they made light of it) of those who disregarded the invitation to the marriage supper. It means to have the opportunity, but to ignore or disregard it or reject it.
       
      This is a word from ALMIGHTY GOD to believers, NOT to the unsaved.
       
      WHY?
      The danger described is NOT REJECTING salvation (though the principle certainly applies), but NEGLECTING salvation.
       
      Remember that Hebrews was written NOT primarily as an evangelistic tract, but as an ENCOURAGEMENT AND A WARNING to discouraged Christians, those who neglected an abiding walk with Jesus.
       
      Spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, God also bearing witness BOTH with signs and wonders: This word was spoken by Jesus, then confirmed by eyewitnesses (those who heard Him). Then it was confirmed with signs, wonders, miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit given by God.
       
      In saying and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, the writer confirms he is NOT a "first generation" Christian. He has heard the message second-hand through the apostles and eye-witnesses of Jesus' ministry.
       
      Hebrews 2:3 is one reason many believe Paul did not write Hebrews. In other passages, Paul seems to put himself on an equal level with the apostles and other eyewitnesses of Jesus (1 Corinthians 9:1; 15:3-11).
       
      God The Father DOES confirm His word with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit -but doing it all according to His own will.
       
      Jesus said miraculous signs would follow those who believe (Mark 16:17); if there is no element of the miraculous, one may question whether there is true belief in Jesus or if the word of God is truly being preached. After all, is the preacher giving anything for God to confirm?
       
      IN THIS DAY AND TIME, WHAT IS MORE MIRACULOUS THAN A TRULY EVIL PERSON, OR A CRIMINAL MONSTER, OR SOMEONE NOT RAISED IN A CHRISTIAN HOME, WITHOUT THE BENEFIT OF HEARING THE BIBLE WHO COMES TO THE SAVING, REDEEMING KNOWLEDGE OF OUR JESUS CHRIST? WHAT IS MORE MIRACULOUS THAN THE HOLY SPIRIT LIVING WITHIN US?
       
      On the other hand, contrary to what many religiosities teach, preach and proclaim that if we are REALLY SAVED, we then SUMMON THE HOLY SPIRIT, COMMAND THE HOLY SPIRIT, AND COMMAND THE ANGELS OF GOD...when the Bible clearly tells us that the Holy Spirit brings such miracles and gifts according to HIS WILL. Miracles can NOT be "worked up" and hyped; much damage has been done by those who do NOT think enough miracles are happening, and want to "prime the pump" through the enthusiasm of the flesh.
       
      AND THE MOMENT THEY DO SO, JESUS CHRIST, HIS WORD, AND THE HOLY SPIRIT ARE REMOVED FROM IT AND IT BECOMES GRANDSTANDING...ICONIC...SELF ELEVATION...AND HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH OUR JESUS.
       
      It is hard to say which is worse - the denial of miracles and the gifts of the Holy Spirit, or the fleshly counterfeit of them. But the devil does NOT care which side of the boat he throws you over, just as long as you get soaking wet!
       
      Verses 5-8 tells us we KNOW Jesus is human, because God has put the world in subjection to man, not angels (evidence: Psalm 8:4-6).
       
      "For He has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels. But one testified in a certain place, saying: "What is man that You are mindful of him, or the son of man that You take care of him? You have made him a little lower than the angels; You have crowned him with glory and honor, and set him over the works of Your hands. You have put all things in subjection under his feet." For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him."
       
      You have made him a little lower than the angels...
      In chapter one, the writer to the Hebrews demonstrated the deity of Jesus and His superiority over ALL angels brilliantly from the Scriptures. Now he will demonstrate the humanity of Jesus from the Scriptures, and apply the implications of Jesus' humanity.
       
      It is Scripturally wrong to think of Jesus as merely God or merely man. It is wrong to think of Him as 50% God, 50% man (or any other percentage split). It is wrong to think of Him as "man on the outside" and "God on the inside." The Bible teaches Jesus is FULLY God and FULLY man, that a human nature was added to His divine nature, and BOTH natures existed in one Person, Jesus Christ.
       
      AND DID YOU KNOW...Significantly, the FIRST false teaching about Jesus arising in the church was NOT that He was NOT God, but that He was NOT really human and He only seemed to be human. The heresy was called Docetism, coming from the Greek word to seem, and was taught by Cerinthus, who opposed the apostle John in the city of Ephesus, and whose teaching is probably the focus of 1 John 4:2 and 5:6.
       
      He has not put the world to come … in subjection to angels...
       
      God NEVER gave angels the kind of dominion man originally had over the earth told to us in Genesis 1:26-30; angels do NOT have dominion over this world, or the world to come.
       
      What is man...
       
      The quotation from Psalm 8:4-6 shows BOTH the smallness of man in relation to the God of creation, and the dominion that God has given man, even though he is a little lower than the angels.
       
      He left nothing that is not put under him...
       
      God has put ALL things (not some things) under subjection to human beings.
       
      So, how can Jesus rule and reign over the world to come if He is not human? Then God's promise to put the world under subjection to man would be untrue.
       
      Verses 8b-9 tells us A problem and its solution.
       
      "But now we do not yet see all things put under him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone."
       
      But now we do not yet see all things put under him...
      How can we say that all things are subject to man? It seems to be an unfulfilled promise.
       
      But we see Jesus...
       
      The promise is fulfilled in Jesus, who is Lord over all, and through whom man can regain the dominion originally intended for Adam, confirmed to us in Revelation 1:6, 5:10; Matthew 25:21.
       
      How many things we do NOT understand are put into proper focus if we will only see Jesus! The answers to life's most perplexing questions are not questions of "Why?" though we often torture ourselves asking "Why?" The greatest answer is a Who - Jesus Christ!
       
      This promise of dominion could only be fulfilled through the humility (a little lower than the angels) and suffering (the suffering of death) of Jesus, who defeated the evil Adam had introduced into the world - which was death told to us in Romans 5:12.
       
      God gave man dominion over the earth, but man forfeited his power (not his right or authority) to take that dominion through sin, and the principle of death took away the power to rule. But Jesus came, and through His humility and suffering, defeated the power of death, and makes possible the fulfillment of God's promise that humans will have dominion over the earth - fulfilled both through Jesus' own dominion, and the rule of believers with Him, confirmed to us in Revelation 20:4.
       
      Verses 10-13 tells us we know Jesus is human, because He calls is brethren.
       
      "For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying: "I will declare Your name to My brethren; In the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You." And again: "I will put My trust in Him." And again: "Here am I and the children whom God has given Me."
       
      Not only was it necessary - it was fitting for the sovereign God - for whom are all things and by whom are all things to be made perfect through sufferings in the task of bringing many sons to glory.
       
      WE KNOW CONCEIVABLY, God could have engineered a way to save us that did not require the suffering of the Son of God; but it was fitting for Jesus to save us at the cost of His own agony.
       
      This is the ultimate illustration of the fact that REAL love, REAL giving, involves sacrifice. As David said, nor will I offer … offerings to the LORD my God which costs me nothing told to us in 2 Samuel 24:24. God's love for us had to show itself in sacrifice, and what could God sacrifice unless He added humanity to His deity and suffered on our behalf?
       
      Jesus was made perfect through sufferings. It is NOT that there was anything LACKING in His Deity, but only in His experience: how does God in heaven know suffering by experience?
       
      The point is that it was fitting for the Father to do this, in the sense that it pleased the LORD to bruise Him told to us in Isaiah 53:10 for the sake of bringing many sons to glory.
       
      Therefore, we are sanctified by One who has been sanctified. We are all of the same human family, so Jesus is not ashamed to call them (that is, us) brethren. He could not be our brother unless He was also human like us.
       
      HOW PRICELESS...Jesus is NOT ashamed to call us brethren. But are we ashamed to openly say that we belong to Jesus? Who should be more embarrassed?
       
      The writer cites three evidences to the fact that Jesus the Messiah calls His people His brethren from the Old Testament: Psalm 22:22, Isaiah 8:17 and 18.
       
      In each one of these examples, we see Messiah willing to associate Himself with His brethren, whether it be in a congregation of worship, a community of trust in the Father, or declaring a common family association.
       
      Verses 14-16 tells us what Jesus did as our Brother.
       
      "Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham."
       
      He Himself likewise shared in the same...
       
      WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
       
      For Jesus to truly fulfill the role of "Elder Brother" for the family of the redeemed, He HAD to take on flesh and blood. He HAD to enter into the prison to free the captives.
       
      Through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil...
       
      Some WRONGLY take this as meaning that Jesus destroyed Satan's "right" to rule over man, which was presumably given to him in the garden of Eden through Adam's rebellion. The idea is that Jesus took away Satan's "right" to rule by allowing Satan to "unlawfully" take Jesus' life on the cross, and Satan's "unlawful" action against Jesus forfeited his right to rule over man. In this thinking, the end result is that the devil has no right over those who come to God through Jesus' work on the cross.
       
      BUT WE KNOW...Since death only has dominion over those who are born sinners or who have sinned confirmed in Romans 5:12, Satan had no "right" to take the life of Jesus, who had never sinned nor was born a sinner- and the devil then committed an "unlawful" murder, according to his nature told to us in John 8:44. Jesus ALLOWED the devil to bruise His heel so that He could bruise his head told to us in Genesis 3:15.
       
      THE PROBLEM with this approach is that we know the devil did NOT take Jesus' life; He laid it down of His own accord, and NO ONE took it from Him, confirmed to us in John 10:17-18.
       
      However, one might say the devil is guilty of "attempted unlawful murder" over someone he had no rights over, because there was no stain of sin on Jesus. Satan certainly wanted to murder Jesus, and tried to, and is guilty of that.
       
      Release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage...
      The fear of death rules as a tyrant over humanity. Some try to make peace with death by calling it their friend. But Christians have NO fear of death (though perhaps a fear of dying), not because death is their friend, but because it is a defeated enemy who now serves God's purpose in the believer's life.
       
      He does give aid to the seed of Abraham...
       
      The Father's work in Jesus was NOT primarily for the sake of angels (though it is for the angels in a secondary sense according to Ephesians 3:10), it is for the people of faith (the seed of Abraham).
       
      Seed of Abraham here is used in the sense of those who are Abraham's children inwardly, not ethnically confirmed to us in Romans 2:28-29, Galatians 3:7.
       
      Verses 17-18 tells us Therefore: Jesus is our faithful High Priest.
       
      "Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted."
       
      Made like His brethren...
      If Jesus were not like us, He could not be our High Priest, representing us before the Father and making atonement (propitiation) for our sins.
       
      NEITHER the Deity nor the Humanity of Jesus are negotiable. If we diminish EITHER and He is unable to save us.
       
      That He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest...
       
      The High Priest wore a breastplate that had stones, engraved with the names of the tribes of Israel, on both his chest and his shoulders. The High Priest would therefore be in constant sympathy with the people of God, carrying them on his heart and in his work (on the shoulders).
       
      Jesus did not wear the High Priest's breastplate; but the wound in His chest and the cross on His shoulders are even more eloquent testimony to His heart for us and work on our behalf - to make propitiation for the sins of the people.
       
      Because Jesus added humanity to His deity, and has experienced human suffering, Jesus is able to aid those who are being tempted, and when we are suffering. He really does know what you are going through!
       
      HOW?
       
      JESUS was mocked, sneered at, and rejected by his own half-siblings.
      JESUS was not honored in his own neighborhood, synagagoue.
      JESUS was betrayed by many, especially Judas & Peter.
      JESUS was rejected by the very people He touched, fed, healed, loved, and taught.
      JESUS was abandoned by all of His disciples, but for Little John.
       
      It is astonishing: there is a God in Heaven who by experience knows what I am going through, and can aid me, not just feel bad for me!
       
      JESUS UNDERSTANDS....JESUS KNOWS...JESUS IS READY WILLING AND ABLE TO HELP...JESUS GAVE HIS LIFE TO SPARE AND TO SAVE AND REDEEM MANKIND. ALL WE NEED TO DO IS TURN TO HIM, CALL UPON HIM.

       

    • July 6, 2016 5:16 PM EDT
    • HEBREWS 3
       
      OPENS WITH JESUS CHRIST SUPERIOR TO MOSES
       
      Verse 1 tells us to CONSIDER JESUS.
       
      "Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling,"
       
      "Therefore: who we are in light of the previous paragraphs."
       
       
      Therefore...We have been left with the picture of Jesus, our heavenly High Priest. Since this is true, it teaches something about who we are. Understanding who we are in light of who Jesus is and what He has done is essential for a healthy Christian life. It keeps us from the depths of discouragement the Hebrew Christians faced.
       
      We are holy brethren...
       
      Because our heavenly, holy High Priest is not ashamed to call them brethren. (Hebrews 2:11) It should bless and encourage us that Jesus calls us His holy brethren.
       
      We are partakers of the heavenly calling...
       
      Because Jesus is committed to bringing MANY sons to glory (Hebrews 2:10), we are partners in His heavenly calling. This should bless and encourage us to press on, even through difficult times and trials.
       
      Verse 1b tells us Therefore: what we are to do in light of the previous paragraphs.
       
      "Consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus,"
       
      Consider the Apostle...
       
      We do NOT often apply this word to Jesus, but He IS our Apostle. The Greek word for "apostle" really means something like AMBASSADOR. In this sense, Jesus is the Father's ultimate ambassador (Hebrews 1:1-2). God had to send a message of love so important, He sent it through Christ Jesus.
       
      The message is plain: consider this.
       
      CONSIDER that God loves you so much He sent the ultimate Messenger, Christ Jesus. Consider also how important it is for you to pay attention to God's ultimate Apostle, Christ Jesus.
       
      God also chose His original, authoritative "ambassadors" for the church; these are what we think of as the original twelve apostles. God still chooses ambassadors in a less authoritative sense, and there is a sense in which we, all those who love Jesus Christ and call Jesus Christ Lord, Savior, Master, & Friend are ALL ambassadors for God.
       
      Consider the … High Priest...
       
      Jesus is the One who supremely represents us before the Father, and who represents the Father to us. God cares for us so much that He put the ultimate mediator, the ultimate High Priest, between Himself and sinful man.
       
      The message is plain: consider this. Consider that God loves you this much, and that if such a great High Priest has been given to us, we must honor and submit to this High Priest, who is Christ Jesus.
       
      Consider the Jesus as the Apostle and High Priest of our confession...
       
      Jesus IS the ambassador and the mediator of our confession. Christianity IS a confession made with both the mouth (Matthew 10:32, Romans 10:9) and with the life.
       
      Verse 2 tells us to CONSIDER Jesus as faithful in His duties before the Father, even as Moses was a faithful servant of God.
       
      "Who was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was faithful in all His house."
       
      Who was faithful...
       
      When we consider THE PAST faithfulness of Jesus, it makes us understand that JESUS WILL continue to be faithful. And as He was faithful to God the Father (Him who appointed Him), so He will be faithful to us. This should bless and encourage us!
       
      As Moses also was faithful in all His house...
       
      Moses showed an amazing faithfulness in his ministry; but Jesus showed a PERFECT faithfulness- surpassing even that of Moses!
       
      Verse 3a Jesus SUPERIOR TO MOSES and has received MORE glory than Moses did.
       
      "For this One has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses,"
       
      Moses...
      Moses received much glory from God.
      HOW AND WHERE?
      1. This is seen in his shining face after spending time with God (Exodus 34:29-35).
      2. In Moses justification before Miriam and Aaron (Numbers 12:6-8).
      3. And before the sons of Korah (Numbers 16).
       
      For this One has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses did...
       
      But Jesus received far more glory from the Father.
       
      HOW AND WHEN?
       
      1. At Jesus' baptism (Matthew 3:16-17).
      2. At Jesus' transfiguration (Mark 9:7).
      3. At Jesus' resurrection (Acts 2:26-27 and Acts 2:31-33).
       
       
      Verses 3b-6 tells us WHYdid Jesus receive more glory than Moses? Because Moses was a servant in God's house, but Jesus is both the builder of the house and a Son in it.
       
      "Inasmuch as He who built the house has more honor than the house. For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God. And Moses indeed was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which would be spoken afterward, but Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end."
       
      Inasmuch as He who built the house has more honor than the house...
       
      WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
       
      Moses was a member of the household of God, but Jesus is the creator of that house, worthy of greater glory.
       
      AND THE REASON THE WRITER OF HEBREWS MAKES THIS DIFFERENCE BETWEEN JESUS AND MOSES?
       
      The ancient Rabbis considered Moses to be the greatest man ever, greater than the angels, then and now.
       
      The writer to the Hebrews does nothing to criticize Moses; he only looks to properly exalt Jesus as FAR GREATER, FAR SUPERIOR, AND PERFECT IN ALL THINGS...THEY SHOULD ACCEPT AND LOOK TO JESUS FOR THEIR SALVATION AND NOT MOSES.
       
      Moses indeed was faithful in all His house as a servant … but Christ as a Son over His own house...
       
      Moses WAS a faithful servant, but he was NEVER called a Son in the way Jesus is.
       
      Whose house we are if we hold fast...
       
      We ARE a part of Jesus' household if we hold fast. The writer to the Hebrews is encouraging those who felt like turning back, helping them to hold fast by explaining the benefits of hanging in there.
       
      TRUE commitment to Jesus is demonstrated over the LONG term, not just in an INITIAL burst.
       
      WE REMEMBER PHILIPPIANS 1:6, "We trust that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ."
       
      Whose house we are...
       
      REMEMBER 1 Peter 2:4-5 says we are being built up a spiritual house. God has a work to build through His people, even as one might build a house.
       
      Verses 7-11 tells us a quotation from Psalm 95:7-11 and its relevance.
       
      "Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: "Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, in the day of trial in the wilderness, where your fathers tested Me, tried Me, and saw My works forty years. Therefore I was angry with that generation, and said, 'They always go astray in their heart, and they have not known My ways.' So I swore in My wrath, 'They shall not enter My rest.'"
       
      Do not harden your hearts...
      If those who followed Moses were responsible to surrender, trust and persevere in following God's leader, how much MORE are we responsible to do the same with a greater leader, Jesus?
       
      As in the rebellion, in the day of trial...
       
      WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
       
      The day of trial refers first to the trial at Meribah (Numbers 20:1-13). But more generally, it speaks of Israel's refusal to trust and enter the Promised Land during the Exodus (Numbers 13:30-14:10). God did NOT accept their unbelief and condemned that generation of unbelief to die in the wilderness (Numbers 14:22-23; 28-32).
       
      And saw My works forty years...
       
      Because of their unbelief, the people of Israel faced judgment which culminated after FORTY YEARS.
       
      DID YOU KNOW...This warning in Hebrews was written about FORTY YEARS after the Jews' initial rejection of Jesus. God's wrath was quickly coming upon the Jews who rejected Jesus, and would culminate with the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.
       
      Therefore I was angry with that generation...
      God's anger was kindled against that generation on account of their UNBELIEF. They refused to trust God for the great things He had promised, and were unwilling to persist in trust.
       
      THIS HELPS US UNDERSTAND THE GLORY, MIRACLES, AND GREAT THINGS GOD DID FOR ISRAEL. THEY SAW 10 PLAGUES. THEY SAW THE RED SEA PARTED. THEY SAW A PROTECTIVE HUGE COOL CLOUD THAT PROTECTED THEM BY DAY AND A HUGE PILLAR OF FIRE THAT PROTECTED THEM BY NIGHT. THEY HEARD GOD SPEAK FROM THE MOUNTAIN. THEY SAW SO MANY AMAZING WONDERS FROM ALMIGHTY GOD...YET EVEN AS THEY MARVELLED AT THE TIME OF EACH, THEY FORGOT THEM SOON ENOUGH, AND SUCH POWER, GLORY, MIGHT, GRACE, MERCY, AND PROTECTION DID NOT KEEP THE ISRAELITES HUMBLE, GRATEFUL, AND TRUSTING AND BELIEVING IN THE GOD OF MOSES.
       
      AND THE SAME WAS TRUST DURING JESUS MINISTRY ON THIS EARTH...EVEN THE DISCIPLES, BUT FOR HIS MOTHER MARY, AND LITTLE JOHN NEVER DOUBTED WHO JESUS WAS...ALWAYS BELIEVED WHO JESUS WAS...EVEN THE REST OF THE DISCIPLES AND THE 150 CLOSE FOLLOWERS OF JESUS ABANDONED HIM WHEN HE WAS ARRESTED. ALL OTHERS REMAINED SILENT OR REJECTED AND DENIED HIM DURING HIS TRIAL. AS WELL ALL THOSE JESUS HAD TOUCHED, FED, HEALED, TAUGHT, LOVED, AND HAD COMPASSION FOR...DESERTED JESUS AND NEVER REALLY BELIEVED HE WAS IN FACT, ALMIGHTY GOD IN THE FLESH, UNTIL AFTER HIS RESURRECTION...AND STILL EVEN THEN, MANY DID NOT BELIEVE JESUS WAS THEIR MESSIAH.
       
      SO ALMIGHTY GOD KNOWS, JESUS KNOWS, AND THE HOLY SPIRIT FACES AND WE SHOULD REMEMBER, PEOPLE WHO SAY, I WILL BELIEVE ((IF))...ARE USING THAT TO ALLOW THEM TO STAY IN UNBELIEF...EVEN AS THEIR SENSES AND THEIR HEARTS ALL HAVE TESTIMONY OF CREATOR GOD.
       
      Verses 12-15 tells us BEWARE!!!! Do NOT be like the generation that PERISHED in the wilderness!
       
      "Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called "Today," lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, while it is said: "Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion."
       
      Lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief...
       
      This is STRONG language, but we often underestimate the terrible nature of our unbelief. Refusing to believe God is such a SERIOUS sin because it shows an EVIL heart and a departing from the living God.
       
      NEWELL says it well, "Unbelief is NOT inability to understand, but UNWILLINGNESS to trust … it is the will, not the intelligence, that is involved."
       
      AND WE KNOW...One can truly believe God, yet be occasionally troubled by doubts. There is a doubt that wants God's promises but is weak in faith at the moment. Unbelief is NOT weakness of faith; it sets itself in opposition to faith.
       
      SPURGEON says it well, "The great sin of not believing in the Lord Jesus Christ is often spoken of very lightly and in a very trifling spirit, as though it were scarcely any sin at all; yet, according to my text, and, indeed, according to the whole tenor of the Scriptures, unbelief is the giving of God the lie, and what can be worse?"
       
      SPURGEON continues, "Hearken, O unbeliever, you have said, 'I cannot believe,' but it would be more honest if you had said, 'I will not believe.' The mischief lies there. Your unbelief is your fault, not your misfortune. It is a disease, but it is also a crime: it is a terrible source of misery to you, but it is justly so, for it is an atrocious offense against the God of truth."
       
      Exhort one another daily...
       
      If we will strengthen our faith and avoid the ruin of unbelief, we MUST be around other Christians who WILL exhort - that is, "seriously encourage" us.
       
      SO THIS SCRIPTURE ASKS US, WHO LOVE JESUS CHRIST AND HIS WORD...
       
      How seriously do we take our responsibility to exhort one another daily, and to be exhorted? We judge and criticize rather well, but how well do we really exhort?
       
      If you are out of fellowship altogether, how can you exhort or be exhorted? What will keep you from becoming hardened through the deceitfulness of sin?
       
      AND TODAY, this emphasis flies in the face of our society's thinking. A survey found that more than 78% of the general public and 70% of churchgoing people believe "you can be a good Christian without Christian fellowship.
       
      The deceitfulness of sin...
       
      The sin of unbelief has its roots in deceit; and unbelief hardens us (lest any of you be hardened). Unbelief and sin is deceitful because when we are unbelieving towards God, we do NOT stop believing - we simply start believing in a deception.
       
      DID YOU KNOW 58% OF PEOPLE TODAY BELIEVE ALL RELIGIONS AND ALL THEIR DIVERSE "HOLY BOOKS" ALL SPEAK TO THE SAME GOD? THAT ALL PATHS LEAD TO THE GOD OF THE BIBLE?
       
      YOU CAN NOT GET MUCH MORE DECEIVED THAN THAT...
       
      For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end...
       
      If we have really become partakers of Christ, if we have REALLY heard His voice, we will hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end. Paul communicated the same idea in Philippians 1:6.
       
      But it is NOT enough to leave the matter with a fatalistic "if you are really saved, you will endure." We have to realize that God uses these WARNINGS AND APPEALS to our will as His appointed means to build endurance in us. There is no fatalism here!
       
      Do not harden your hearts...
       
      We often say our hearts have been hardened by others or by circumstances. But the fact is that we CHOOSE TO HARDEN our own hearts in response to what may be done to us.
       
      Verses 16-19 tells us It is NOT enough to make a good beginning.
       
      "For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses? Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness? And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief."
       
      For who, having heard, rebelled?
       
      As a nation, Israel made a GOOD beginning. After all, it took a lot of faith to cross the Red Sea! Yet ALL of that FIRST generation perished in the wilderness, except for the TWO men of faith - Joshua and Caleb.
       
      They would not enter His rest...
       
      11 times in Hebrews chapters 3 and 4, Hebrews speaks of ENTERING REST. That rest will be deeply detailed in the next chapter. But here, the key to entering rest is revealed: BELIEF.
       
      So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief...
       
      One might be tempted to think the key to entering rest is obedience, especially from Hebrews 3:18: to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? But the disobedience mentioned in Hebrews 3:18 is an outgrowth of the unbelief mentioned in Hebrews 3:19.
       
      The unbelief came first, then the obedience.
       
      In a New Testament context, our belief centers on the superiority of Jesus Christ, the truth of who He is (fully God and fully man) and His atoning work for us as a faithful High Priest (as in Hebrews 2:17).
       
      When we trust in these things, making them the "food" of our souls, we enter into God's rest.
       
      Israel's great failure was to persevere in faith. After crossing much of the wilderness trusting in God, and after seeing so many reasons to trust in Him, they end up falling short- because they did not persevere in faith in God and His promise.
       
      AND WE REMEMBER...Jesus reminded us in the parable of the soils with the seeds cast on stony ground and among thorns: it is NOT enough to make a good beginning, real belief PERSEVERES to the end. If we have made a good start, praise God; but how we finish is even more important than how we start.
       
      Will the passing years wean us away from an on-fire, trusting relationship with the Lord? Or will they only serve to increase our life of trust and reliance on Jesus?
       
      JESUS WANTS, EXPECTS, AND EXHORTS US TO CONTINUE IN HIM. TO TRUST HIM, TO BELIEVE HIS PROMISES, AND TO ENDURE IN HIM...
       
      TO NOT TRUST THIS WORLD, GOVERNMENT, JOBS, PEOPLE, FAMILY, FRIENDS...BUT TO TRUST JESUS CHRIST AND EXHORT HIS WORD, PERSEVERE IN OUR FAITH, TRUST, AND BELIEF IN OUR JESUS CHRIST COME WHAT MAY...TO PERSEVERE...TO THE VERY END...

    • July 6, 2016 5:14 PM EDT
    • HEBREWS 4
       
      OPENS WITH HOW TO ENTER INTO GOD'S REST
       
      JOHN MACARTHUR says it well of this chapter, "Hebrews 4 continues the warning to INFORMED but UNRESPONSIVE Jews that began in Hebrews 3:7. These Jews not only KNEW the basic truths of the gospel but had even RENOUNCED Judaism. Still they did NOT trust COMPLETELY in Christ Jesus. The warning, of course, also APPLIES to anyone who is hesitating in commiting themselves FULLY to Jesus Christ, and can be summarize, 'Do NOT harden your hearts like Israel did in the wilderness.' The Israelites HAD left Egypt, but they often longed to go back to it. They REFUSED to trust The Lord completely, and, oppressive and disappointing as it was, the OLD LIFE still had a HOLD AND an APPEAL. They HALTED at the crucial point of decision. Consequently, they were NOT allowed to enter The Promised Land and into God's rest. So it is with MANY who ARE drawn to Christ Jesus. Unbelief FORFEITS rest---that is the writer of Hebrews thought."
       
      DID YOU KNOW THE English "rest" and the Greek word "katapausis" that it translates here, have similar meanings. REST is the basic idea that is ceasing from work or from any kind of action. You stop doing what you are doing. Action, labor, and exertion is over. Applied to GOD'S REST, it means no more self-effort as far as salvation in Jesus is concerned. It means the end of TRYING to please God by our own FEEBLE, FLESHLY works. GOD'S PERFECT REST is a rest in FREE GRACE.
       
      REST ALSO MEANS freedom from whatever worries or disturbs you. Some people can NOT rest mentally and emotionally because they are so EASILY ANNOYED. EVERY little nuisance upsets them and they ALWAYS feel hassled.
       
      REST does NOT MEAN freedom from ALL nuisances and hassles, but REST DOES mean freedom from being so easily annoyed by them. REST means to be inwardly QUIET, COMPOSED, AND PEACEFUL.
      To enter God's rest, means to be at peace with God, to possess the perfect peace HE gives us. It means to be FREE of guilt, and even unnessesary feelings of guilt. It means freedom from worry about sin, because our sin is forgiven. God's rest is the END OF LEGALISTIC WORKS AND the experience of PEACE in the TOTAL forgiveness of God.
       
      GOD'S REST means to be settled, fixed, secure. There is no more shifting about in frustration from one thing to another, no more running in circles. In GOD's REST we are FOREVER established in CHRIST.
       
      WE ARE FREED from running from philosophy to philosophy, from religion to religion, from life-style to life-style. We are FREED from being tossed about by every new doctrinal wind, every idea or fad, that blows our way. IN CHRIST, we ARE ESTABLISHED, ROOTED, GROUNDED, UNMOVEABLE. THIS IS THE CHRISTIAN'S REST!
       
      REST involves remaining confident, keeping trust. IN OTHER WORDS, to rest in something or someone means to maintain our confidence in it or him. To ENTER GOD'S REST, therefore means to enjoy the PERFECT, UNSHAKEABLE, confidence of salvation in our Lord Jesus. We have NO more reason to fear. We have absolute trust in God's power, love, and care.
       
      REST ALSO INVOLVES...LEANING ON GOD. For the rest of our lives on this earth and for all eternity we CAN lean on God. We can be SURE God will NEVER fail to support us."
       
      Verses 1-2 tells us the warning is repeated: DO NOT miss God's rest.
       
      "Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it."
       
      THEREFORE...The idea is carried on without pause from Hebrews 3: UNBELIEF kept the generation that escaped Egypt from entering Canaan. The promise remains of entering His rest, and we can enter into that rest BY FAITH. Unbelief will make us FALL SHORT of the rest God has for us.
       
      For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them...
       
      We have heard the promise of God's rest, just like the children of Israel did. They heard the word, but it did NOT profit them, because they did NOT receive it with faith.
       
      They HEARD the promise. They had the opportunity to RECEIVE the promise. But they had to actually enter BY FAITH.
       
      Verses 3-9 tells us PROOF that a "rest" remains for the people of God, beyond it's original fulfillment under Joshua.
       
      "For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said: "So I swore in My wrath, 'They shall not enter My rest,'" although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: "And God rested on the seventh day from all His works"; and again in this place: "They shall not enter My rest." Since therefore it remains that some must enter it, and those to whom it was first preached did not enter because of disobedience, again He designates a certain day, saying in David, "Today," after such a long time, as it has been said: "Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts." For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day. There remains therefore a rest for the people of God."
       
      So swore in My wrath...This quote from Psalm 95:11 demonstrates that God has a rest available to us. This rest is after the pattern of God's own rest on the seventh day from all His works, as described in the quote from Genesis 2:2.
       
      Therefore it remains that some must enter it...
      God did NOT create this place of rest in vain. If Israel (those to whom it was FIRST preached) did NOT enter because of disobedience, then someone else WILL enter into that rest.
       
      Today, if you will hear His voice...
       
      The appeal in Psalm 95:7-8 proves that there is a rest that remains for God's people to enter, beyond the fulfillment under Joshua. If Joshua had completely fulfilled the promise of rest, God's appeal through David, saying "Today" would make no sense.
       
      There remains therefore a rest for the people of God...
       
      All this together proves the point that there is a rest for the people of God, be they Jew or Gentile. This is a rest that is spiritual, yet patterned after the rest provided through Joshua.
       
      Verse10 tells us What this rest is: a CESSATION from works.
       
      "For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His."
       
      Entering this rest means no longer needing to work. The idea is NOT that there is no longer any place for doing good works. The idea is that there is no longer any place for works as a basis for our own righteousness BEFORE GOD. TOO MANY RELIGIOSITIES THEN AND NOW, FALSELY TEACH THAT YOU MUST DAY IN AND DAY OUT...EARN YOUR WAY TO HEAVEN. JESUS BEGAN THE SALVATION WORK, BUT THE CHURCH AND RELIGIOUS LEADERS MUST COMPLETE IT. THAT ALSO WRONGLY TEACHES THAT SALVATION LIVES OR DIES OR IS LOST BY OUR WORKS AND NOT THE COMPLETE WORK OF JESUS CHRIST ON THE CROSS.
       
      Ceased from his works as God did from His...
      This cessation from works as a basis for righteousness fulfills our "Sabbath rest." God rested from His works on the original Sabbath of Genesis 2:2 because the work WAS FINISHED. We cease from self-justifying works because the work is finished by Jesus on the cross.
       
      Verse 11 tells us Application of the invitation to enter God's rest through faith.
       
      "Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience."
       
      Let us therefore...
      HERE IT IS AGAIN...This phrase, or this idea, appears repeatedly in Hebrews. A doctrinal truth is presented - in this case, the truth of a remaining rest available by faith - then the truth is applied.
       
      Be diligent to enter that rest...
       
      The rest is there, but God does NOT force it upon us. We must enter that rest FREELY & WILLINGLY. Clearly, the rest is entered by faith; but it takes diligent faith. This shows us that faith is NOT passive; it takes diligence to trust in, rely on, and cling to Jesus and His work for us.
       
      Lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience...
      If we are not diligent to enter that rest, the result can be a disaster. We may fall according to the same example of disobedience. We may fall, even as the children of Israel did in the wilderness.
       
      Verses 12-13 tells us Found out by God's Word.
       
      "For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account."
       
      For the word of God...
      God's Word has diagnosed our illness with a surgeon's precision. It has seen our hearts, and discerned that we are too ready to follow in the failure of the children of Israel, to GIVE UP belief.
       
      When the word of God exposes our weakness and unbelief like this, it demonstrates the inherent power, sharpness, and accuracy of the word of God. It bears constant reminding that as we submit ourselves to the word of God, we do it for far, far more than intellectual knowledge of the learning of facts. We do it for the ministry of the Word, because God meets us in His Word, and the Holy Spirit works powerfully through the word of God. We should consider just what the Word of God says it will do in our lives...
       
      GOD'S WORD...
       
      1. God's word brings TRUE health, fruitfulness, prosperity and success to the things we do. (Psalm 1:3)
       
      2. The word of God has HEALING power; it has the power to deliver us from oppression. (Psalm 107:20, Matthew 8:8, Matthew 8:16)
       
      3. God's word is CLEANSING - if we take heed according to God's word, our way will be cleansed. (Psalm 119:9, John 15:3, Ephesians 5:26)
       
      4. The word of God, HIDDEN in our hearts, keeps us from sin. (Psalm 119:11)
       
      5. God's word is our COUNSELOR; as we delight in God's word, it becomes a rich source of counsel and guidance for us. (Psalm 119:24)
       
      6. God's word is a source of STRENGTH. (Psalm 119:28)
       
      7. God's word imparts LIFE to us. It is a continual source of life for us. (Psalm 119:93, Matthew 4:4)
       
      8. God's word is a source of illumination and GUIDANCE to us. When God's word comes in, so does light; it makes the simple wise and understanding. (Psalm 119:105, Psalm 119:130)
       
      9. God's word gives PEACE to those who love it; they are secure, standing in a safe place. (Psalm 119:165)
       
      10. When the word of God is heard and understood, it bears FRUIT. (Matthew 13:23)
       
      11. The word of God has inherent POWER and authority against demonic powers. (Luke 4:36)
       
      12. Jesus Himself - His eternal person - is described as the Word. When we are into the Word of God, we are INTO Jesus. (John 1:1)
       
      13. Hearing God's Word is essential to ETERNAL LIFE- you cannot pass from death into life unless you have heard the Word of God. (John 5:24, James 1:21, 1 Peter 1:23)
       
      14. Abiding - living in - God's Word is evidence of true DISCIPLESHIP. (John 8:31)
       
      15. God's Word is the means to SANCTIFICATION. (John 17:17)
       
      16. God can do dramatic works with the Holy Spirit as His Word is being PREACHED. (Acts 10:44)
       
      17. Hearing God's Word builds FAITH in us. (Romans 10:17)
       
      18. Holding fast to the Word of God can give us present ASSURANCE of salvation. (1 Corinthians 15:2)
       
      19. The faithful handling of the Word of God gives the ministers of the Word a CLEAR CONSCIENCE- they know that they have done all they can before God. (2 Corinthians 4:2, Philippians 2:16)
       
      20. The Word of God is our SWORD of the Spirit - it is our equipment for spiritual battle, especially in the idea of an offensive weapon. (Ephesians 6:17)
       
      21. The Word of God comes with the POWER of the Holy Spirit - with "much assurance" - and critical aspect of the ministry of the Word. (1 Thessalonians 1:5)
       
      22. The Word of God works effectively in those who believe. (1 Thessalonians 2:13)
       
      23. The word of God sanctifies the very food we eat! (1 Timothy 4:5)
       
      24. The word of God is not dead; it is living and active and sharper than any two edged sword. The word of God can probe us like a surgeon's expert scalpel, cutting away what needs to be cut and keeping what needs to be kept. (Hebrews 4:12)
       
      25. The word of God is our SOURCE of growth. (1 Peter 2:2, 1 Corinthians 2:1-5)
       
      Is living and powerful...
      No wonder the writer to the Hebrews can say this. The Bible is NOT a collection of musty stories and myths. It has an inherent life and power. The preacher does NOT make the Bible "come alive." The Bible IS alive, and gives life to the preacher and anyone else who will really receive it.
       
      Powerful (translated active in the KJV) reminds us that something might be alive, YET dormant. But God's Word is BOTH living and powerful, in the sense of being active.
       
      Sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow...
      God's Word can hit us with surprising precision, and the Holy Spirit empowers the ministry of the Word to do deep work in our hearts.
       
      Often people wonder how a preacher's message can be so relevant to their life. They sometimes honestly wonder if the preacher does NOT know some "inside information" about their life. But it is NOT necessarily the preacher at all. It is the sharpness of the Word of God, delivering the message in just the right place THROUGH THE HOLY SPIRIT CONVICTION.
       
      Even to the division of soul and spirit...
       
      SOME HAVE ASKED, Is there a deliberate and significant difference between soul and spirit here?
       
      ABSOLUTELY, there is some distinction between soul and spirit. "The New Testament use of pneuma for the human spirit focuses on the spiritual aspect of man, i.e. his life in relation to God, whereas psyche refers to man's life irrespective of his spiritual experience, i.e. his life in relation to himself, his emotions and thought. There is a strong antithesis between the two in the theology of Paul.
       
      But the stress of this passage is NOT to spell out a theology of the difference between soul and spirit. "Attempts to explain [these terms] on any psychological basis are futile. The form of expression is poetical, and signifies that the word penetrates to the inmost recesses of our spiritual being as a sword cuts through the joints and marrow of the body.
       
      However, it is important to understand what the Bible means when it speaks of and makes a distinction with soul and spirit.
      The Bible tells us that people have an "inner" and an "outer" nature (Genesis 2:7, 2 Corinthians 4:16).
      The inner man is described by both the terms spirit (Acts 7:59, Matthew 26:41, John 4:23-24) and soul (1 Peter 2:11, Hebrews 6:19, Hebrews 10:39).
      These two terms are often used synonymously, but NOT always.
      We can say that THE SOUL seems to focus more on individuality and life (often being defined as the mind, the will, and the emotions).
       
      Whereas, THE SPIRIT seems to focus more on supernatural power and life in an individual.
       
      That there is some distinction between the spirit and the soul is made obvious by passages like 1 Thessalonians 5:23 and Hebrews 4:12. The fact that the terms are sometimes used interchangeable is shown by passages like Job 7:11 and Isaiah 26:9.
       
      Because the soul and spirit both have reference to the "INNER MAN," they are easily confused. Often an experience which only "blesses" the soul is supposed to be something which builds up the spirit. There is nothing wrong with "soulish" excitement and blessing, but there is nothing in it that builds us up spiritually.
       
      That is why many Christians go from one exciting experience to another but never really grow spiritually - the ministry they receive is "soulish." or what they call "spiritualism".
       
      This is why the Word of God is so powerful and precise; it can pierce even to the division of soul and spirit, which is NOT easy to do.
       
      THE OUTER MAN is described by the terms FLESH (Colossians 2:5, Matthew 26:41, Galatians 5:16-17) and BODY (Romans 6:6, Romans 8:13, 1 Corinthians 6:13 and 6:19-20).
      The terms flesh and body also seem to include aspects of our person such as the SENSES AND HABITS. When we allow our flesh to direct our thoughts and actions, it ends in spiritual ruin. God wants us to be directed not by the spirit, not by the flesh, or even the soul.
       
      All things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account...
       
      WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
       
      There is NO ONE hidden before God. He sees our hearts and knows how to touch them, and we must give account for how we respond to His touch.
       
      Naked reminds us of the way God saw through Adam's feeble hiding. God sees through our hiding the same way.
       
      OPEN is the ancient Greek word "trachelizo", used only here in the New Testament. It was used of wrestlers who had a hold that involved gripping the neck and was such a powerful hold that it brought victory. So the term can mean "to prostrate" or "to overthrow;" but many scholars do adopt the simply meaning of "open."
       
      Remember the context. The writer to the Hebrews trusts that he has pierced the hearts of his audience, who were contemplating "giving up" on Jesus. In this passage, he has made it plain that they can NOT give up on Jesus and can NOT keep it "hidden" from God. The word of God has discovered and exposed their condition.
       
      Verse 14 tells us Seeing Jesus, our great High Priest.
       
      "Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession."
       
      Seeing then that we have a great High Priest...
       
      The idea that Jesus is our High Priest has been mentioned before (Hebrews 2:17 and Hebrews 3:1). But now the writer to the Hebrews will develop the idea more extensively.
       
      Seeing then...
       
      The writer to the Hebrews wants to call attention to the specific, unique character of Jesus as our High Priest.
      NO OTHER High Priest was called GREAT.
      NO OTHER High Priest … PASSED through the heavens.
      NO OTHER High Priest is the SON OF GOD.
       
      Let us hold fast our confession...
       
      KNOWING that we have a High Priest, and know how unique and glorious He is, is wonderful. It is even greater to know that He has passed through the heavens, that He has ascended into heaven, and now ministers there on our behalf is even greater. Both of these things should ENCOURAGE us to hold fast our confession.
       
      Verse 15 tells us Our High Priest CAN sympathize with us.
       
      "For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin."
       
      We do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize...
      Though His deity has been documented (Hebrews 1:4-14).
      His compassionate humanity has also been demonstrated (Hebrews 2:5-18).
      It means that there is a Jesus, God the Son, enthroned in heaven, our High Priest, can sympathize with our weaknesses.
       
      DID YOU KNOW...To the Greeks, the primary attribute of God was "apatheia", the essential inability to feel ANYTHING at all. Jesus is NOT like that. He knows, He feels what we go through. The ancient Greek word for sympathize literally means "to suffer along with."
       
      What makes the difference is that Jesus ADDED humanity to His deity, and came and lived among us as a man. When you have been there, it makes all the difference. We might hear of some tragedy at a high school, and feel a measure of sorrow. But it is nothing like the pain we would feel if it were the high school we attended.
       
      But was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin: Jesus KNOWS what it is like to be tempted and to battle against sin, though He was NEVER stained by sin.
       
      MORRIS says it well, "Jesus sinlessness was, at least in part, an earned sinlessness as he gained victory after victory in the constant battle with temptation that life in this world entails."
       
      Sometimes we WRONGLY think that because Jesus is God, He could NEVER know temptation the way we do.
      In part, this is true...
       
      Jesus FACED temptation much more severely than we ever have or ever will.
      The Sinless One knows temptation in a way we do NOT, because only the one who never gives into temptation knows the full strength of temptation.
      It is true that Jesus NEVER faced temptation in an INNER sense the way we do, because there was NEVER a sinful nature pulling Him to sin from the inside.
      But He KNEW the strength and fury of external temptation in a way, and to a degree, that we can NEVER know. He knows what we go through; He has faced FAR WORSE FOR US.
       
      Verse 16 tells us An INVITATION: come to the throne of grace.
       
      "Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need."
       
      Let us therefore come BOLDLY...
      Because we have a High Priest who is both omnipotent and compassionate, we CAN come boldly to His throne.
      Discouraging us from this access is a central strategy of Satan.
      The devil sometimes wants us to consider Jesus as unapproachable- perhaps FALSELY AND TWISTEDLY encouraging us to come by Mary or the saints instead of Jesus.
      Sometimes the devil wants us to think of Jesus as being powerless to help, not as one who sits on a throne in heaven.
       
      The throne of grace...
       
      The throne of God IS a throne of grace. When we come, we may obtain mercy (this is NOT getting what we deserve) and find grace (this is getting what we DO NOT deserve) in our time of need.
       
      Rabbis taught that God had two thrones, one of mercy, and one of judgment. They said this because they knew that God was both merciful and just, but how could these two attributes of God be reconciled? But here, in light of the finished work of Jesus, we see mercy and judgment reconciled into ONE THRONE of grace.
       
      Remember that grace does NOT ignore God's justice; it operates in fulfillment of God's justice, in light of the cross.
       
      Find grace to help in time of need...
       
      Thankfully, God PROVIDES help in our time of need. No request is too small.
       
      REMEMBER PHILIPPIANS 4:6, "He wants us to be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer … let your requests be made known to God."
       
      JOHN MACARTHUR says it well, "By Christ's willingly sacrifice of Himself, God's throne of judgment is turned into a throne of grace for those who trust in Him. As the Jewish high priests once a year for centuries had sprinkled blood on the mercy seat for the peoples' sins, Jesus shed His blood ONCE AND FOR ALL TIME for the sins of everyone who believes in Him. That is His PERFECT provision. What a precious High Priest we have. He sympathizes and He saves. What more could He do?"

    • July 6, 2016 5:12 PM EDT
    • HEBREWS 5
       
      OPENS WITH JESUS, OUR COMPASSIONATE HIGH PRIEST FOREVER
       
      Verses 1-4 tells us Principles of priesthood UNDER the Law of Moses.
       
      "For every high priest taken from among men is appointed for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins. He can have compassion on those who are ignorant and going astray, since he himself is also subject to weakness. Because of this he is required as for the people, so also for himself, to offer sacrifices for sins. And no man takes this honor to himself, but he who is called by God, just as Aaron was."
       
      God ALONE ESTABLISHED both the priesthood and the office of high priest in the days of Moses, as described in Exodus 28:1 and following. The writer to the Hebrews neatly summarizes the work of the high priest, in saying that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins. The primary job of the high priest was the officiate, either directly or indirectly through lower-ranking priests, sacrifices unto the Lord.
       
      The phrase gifts and sacrifices for sins reminds us that NOT every sacrifice was a blood atonement for sins. Many of the ritual sacrifices were intended to be simple gifts to God, expressing thanks and desiring fellowship.
       
      He can have compassion...
      Ideally, the high priest was more than a "butcher" offering sacrifice. He also had compassion on those who are ignorant and going astray, and ministered the atoning sacrifices with a loving heart for the people. In this ideal, the high priest has this compassion because he understands that he himself is also subject to weakness.
       
      God made specific commands to help INSURE the high priest would minister with compassion. In the breastplate of the high priest were set twelve stones engraved with the names of the tribes of Israel, and on the shoulder straps were stones engraved with the names of the tribes. In this, the people of Israel were always on the heart and on the shoulders of the high priest (Exodus 28:4-30).
       
      Because of this he is required as for the people, so also for himself, to offer sacrifices for sins...
       
      God also made SPECIFIC commands to help insure the high priest would minister with awareness that he was also subject to weakness. On the Day of Atonement, the high priest had to sacrifice for himself FIRST, to remind himself and the nation that he had sin to atone for, just like the rest of the people of Israel (Leviticus 16:1-6).
       
      And no man takes this honor to himself, but he who is called by God, just as Aaron was...
      Of course, the High Priest was taken from the community of God's people; but was NOT chosen by God's people, but appointed by God for His people. But it was important to state that NO MAN takes this honor to himself. The office of high priest was nothing to aspire to or campaign for. It was GIVEN by right of birth, it was CHOSEN by God. It was an honor NO MAN could take to himself.
       
      The TRUE priesthood, and the TRUE high priest, came from a specific line of descent. EVERY priest came from Jacob, Abraham's grandson, whose name was changed to Israel. EVERY priest came from Levi, one of Israel's thirteen sons. God set the tribe of Levi APART as a tribe committed to His service and as representatives of the whole nation (Exodus 13:2; Numbers 3:40-41). Gershon, Kohath and Merari were Levi's three sons; each of these family lines had their own duties. The family of Gershon had care of the tabernacle's screen (veil), fence, and curtains (Numbers 3:25-26). The family of Kohath will this family had care of the tabernacle's furnishings, such as the lampstand, altar of incense, and the ark of the covenant (Numbers 3:31-32). The family of Merari had care of the boards and pillars of the tabernacle and the fence (Numbers 3:36-37). These families were not properly priests, though they were Levites. The priesthood itself came through Aaron, the brother of Moses, of the family of Kohath. Aaron's family and their descendants made up the priests and the high priest, those able to serve in the tabernacle itself and to offer sacrifice to God. The high priest was generally the eldest son of Aaron, except if they disqualified themselves like Nadab and Abihu (Leviticus 10:1-3) or according to the regulations of Leviticus 21. In this sense, the priesthood was NOT popularly elected, but CHOSEN by God, NOT appointed by man.
       
      There are some DREADFUL instances where men PRESUMED to act as priests who were NOT priests, such as Korah (Numbers 16), Saul (1 Samuel 13) and Uzziah (2 Chronicles 26:16).
       
      We can also NOT take the honor of being our OWN priest. It is great arrogance to think we can approach God on our own, without a priest; but it is great superstition and UNBIBLICAL AND FALSE TEACHING to think we need any other priest other than Jesus Christ Himself. God has provided a mediator, a priest, and we must avail ourselves of the priest God has provided...AND THAT IS JESUS CHRIST ALONE.
       
      Verses 5-6 tells us Jesus IS qualified to be our High Priest.
       
      "So also Christ did not glorify Himself to become High Priest, but it was He who said to Him: "You are My Son, today I have begotten You." As He also says in another place: "You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek";
       
      Christ did NOT glorify Himself to become High Priest: Jesus did NOT make Himself High Priest. Instead, just as much as Jesus was DECLARED to be the Son (Psalm 2:7), He was also DECLARED to be a priest forever (in Psalm 110:4).
       
      It was easy to see WHY the priesthood of Jesus would be difficult for early Jewish Christians to grasp.
      1. Jesus was NOT from the lineage of Aaron.
      2. Jesus claimed nor practiced NO special ministry in the temple.
      3. Jesus CONFRONTED the religious structure instead of joining it.
      4. In Jesus' day, the priesthood also became a corrupt institution. The custom had become High Priest in those days through intrigue and politicking among the corrupt priesthood.
       
      A priest forever is an important contrast. Jesus' priesthood (like Melchizedek's) is UNENDING, but no High Priest descended from Aaron EVER had a forever priesthood.
       
      Today I have begotten You refers to Jesus' resurrection from the dead. At that time He fully assumed His role as our great High Priest, having been perfected (Hebrews 5:9).
       
      Jesus' resurrection demonstrated that He was NOT a priest like Aaron, who had to atone for his own sin first. The resurrection vindicated Jesus as the Father's Holy One (Acts 2:2, 2:27), who bore the wrath sinners deserve, without becoming a sinner Himself.
       
      Hebrews 7 will more fully develop the theme of Jesus as a High Priest according to the order of Melchizedek.
       
      Verses 7-11a tells us the compassion of Jesus, our High Priest.
       
      "Who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him, called by God as High Priest "according to the order of Melchizedek," of whom we have much to say,"
       
      When He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears: The agony of Jesus in the Garden of Gesthemane (Matthew 26:36-39, Luke 22:44) proves He KNOWS what it is like to struggle with the difficulty of obedience, yet Jesus obeyed PERFECTLY.
       
      This answers the question, "How can this glorious, enthroned Jesus know what I am going through down here?" He knows; obedience did NOT always come easy for Jesus.
       
      DID YOU KNOW...The word for supplications is "hiketeria". This ancient Greek word essentially means "an olive branch wrapped in wool," because that is was someone in Greek culture would hold and wave to express their desperate prayer and desire. Significantly, this supplication of Jesus took place in a garden of olives - and he supplied the "wool," being the Lamb of God!
       
      And was heard because of His godly fear...
      If Jesus asked that the cup be taken away from Him (Luke 22:42), and the cup was not taken away, how can it be said that He was heard? Because His prayer was NOT to escape His Father's will, but to ACCEPT it - and that prayer was definitely heard.
       
      He learned obedience by the things which He suffered...
       
      How could Jesus (who never stopped being God) learn anything? Then again, how does God, enthroned in heaven experience obedience, except by casting off the glory of the throne and humbling Himself as Jesus did?
       
      Jesus did NOT pass from disobedience to obedience. He learned obedience by actually obeying. Jesus did NOT learn how to obey; He learned what is INVOLVED in obedience.
       
      THEN AND NOW, THERE ARE THOSE PRIESTS, PREACHERS, AND TEACHERS, AND THOSE SELF-PROCLAIMED PROPHETS, PROPHETESSES, MEN AND WOMAN OF GOD, WHO FALSELY AND ARROGANTLY AND IGNORANTLY TEACH AND SAY, "JESUS WAS NOT BORN BEING AND KNOWING THAT HE WAS FULLY GOD AND FULLY MAN. THEY SAY JESUS DID NOT KNOW THE WORD, GOD'S LAWS, OR THE BIBLE, BUT HAD TO SIT UNDER RABBIS AND SCHOOLS TO BE TAUGHT THE WORD OF GOD. THAT JESUS DID NOT KNOW WHO HE REALLY WAS, WHAT HIS PURPOSE WAS, UNTIL AFTER JOHN THE BAPTIST BAPTIZED HIM IN THE RIVER JORDAN AND ALMIGHTY GOD AND THE HOLY SPIRIT APPEARED AND FILLED HIM WITH KNOWLEDGE, WISDOM, AND DISCERNMENT.
       
      THE BOOK OF HEBREWS TAKES THE TIME, ONE BY ONE, TO BRING THE TRUTH, AND CALL OUT THE LIES, DECEPTIONS, AND DOCTRINES OF DEMONS BEING SPOKEN, TAUGHT, AND BELIEVED BY THOSE THEN AND NOW WHO ARE ULTIMATELY RECEIVING THEIR WORDS, TEACHINGS AND WISDOM NOT FROM ALMIGHTY GOD, NOT FROM THE HOLY SPIRIT, MUCH LESS JESUS CHRIST HIMSELF...BUT ULTIMATELY HEARING FROM THE SPIRIT OF SATAN, THE WHISPERS OF DEMONS, WHO ARE ALWAYS READY AND WILLING TO LIE, DECEIVE, AND APPEAR AND SOUND LIKE ANGELS OF LIGHT, WHEN THEY ARE NOTHING MORE THAN DOCTRINES OF DEMONS AND THE KINGDOM OF DARKNESS AND HELL ITSELF.
       
      Jesus learned obedience by things which He suffered...
       
      Suffering was used to teach and show Jesus personally what we face and deal with. If suffering was fit to teach the Son of God, we must never despise it as a tool of instruction in our lives.
       
      Some say that we might learn through suffering; but such lessons are only God's SECOND best. God really intends for us just to learn by His Word, and it is NEVER His real plan for us to learn through trials and suffering. But was Jesus ever in the Father's second best?
       
      The Bible NEVER teaches that strong faith will keep a Christian from all suffering.
      1. Christians are appointed to affliction (1 Thessalonians 3:3).
      2. It is through many tribulations we enter the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22).
      3. Christians current suffering is the prelude to glorification (Romans 8:17).
       
      Having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation: Jesus' experience of suffering makes Him PERFECTLY suited to be the author (the source, the cause) of our salvation.
       
      Some do NOT want Jesus to be the author of their salvation.
       
      MANY FALSE RELIGIONS AND FALSE PRIESTS AND PREACHERS AND TEACHERS OF THESE MAN-CREATED RELIGIOSITIES PROCLAIM THEY WRITE AND PREFER to write their own book of salvation.
      MANY FALSELY PREACH AND TEACH AND PROCLAIM THEY AND THEIR MAN-CREATED RELIGIOSITIES MUST COMPLETE THE WORK OF SALVATION. THAT THEIR FLOCK MUST CONSTANTLY PAY, MUST CONSTANTLY EARN AND LOSE THEIR SALVATION. THAT JESUS DID NOT COMPLETE THE WORK OF SALVATION. THAT THEY NOT JESUS ARE THE WAY TO ALMIGHTY GOD. THAT THERE ARE MANY PATHS, MANY RELIGIONS, AND MANY WAYS TO GOD. THE BIBLE TELLS US THEY ARE ALL SPEAKING DOCTRINES OF DEMONS. THEY ARE ALL INNOCENTLY DECEIVED AND/OR WILLINGLY DECEIVING THEMSELVES AND THOSE IN THEIR FLOCK.
       
      HEBREWS ONCE AGAIN TELLS US THE TRUTH. God DOES NOT HEAR THEM. GOD WILL NOT ACCEPT THEIR LIES, THEIR POMP, CIRCUMSTANCE, THEIR RITES AND RITUALS. GOD WILL NOT READ THEIR WORD OR THEIR TEACHINGS. Only Jesus can author ALL OF MANKIND'S eternal salvation. THE ONLY WAY TO GOD THE FATHER IS THROUGH HIS SON JESUS CHRIST.
       
      NOTICE that this salvation THROUGH JESUS CHRIST is extended to all BY ALMIGHTY GOD who obey Him. In this sense, all who obey Him is used synonymously for believing on Him - which simply assumes that believers will obey!
       
      Called by God as High Priest "according to the order of Melchizedek": The emphasis is repeated. Jesus IS a High Priest, who was called by God (not personal ambition), according to the order of Melchizedek. The much to say comes in Hebrews 7.
      Verse 11b tells us Their dullness of hearing is exposed.
       
      "And hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing."
       
      Since you have become dull of hearing...
      This explains WHY the writer does NOT go into the topic of Melchizedek right away. He wants to address some critical BASICS before going on to more intricate topics, but their spiritual condition makes it hard to explain.
       
      He fears the discussion of Aaron and Melchizedek and Jesus will sound TOO academic and theoretical to his readers. At the same time, he recognizes this says more about his dull hearers than the message.
       
      AND WE KNOW...Being dull of hearing is NOT a problem with the EARS, but a problem with THE HEART- you just are NOT really interested in what God has to say to you. Not wanting to hear the Word of God points to a genuine spiritual problem!
       
      CHOOSING TO BE DEAF AND DUMB AND BLIND.
       
      These Christians who felt like giving up with Jesus were also dull of hearing. The dullness usually comes first, then the desire to give up. Watch out when the Word of God starts seeming dull to you! KNOW THAT YOU ARE BEING WHISPERED TO, AND WHOM IS DOING THE WHISPERING, WHEN YOU FIND YOURSELF SAYING...THE BIBLE IS BORING. THE BIBLE IS ANTIQUATED. THE BIBLE IS CONFUSING. THE BIBLE DOES NOT SPEAK TO MODERN MANKIND. WE NEED A NEW BIBLE...NEW REVELATIONS...NEW RELEVANT PROPHECIES...YOU ARE ((NOT)) HEARING FROM THE LORD AT ALL, AND YOU ((ARE)) LISTENING TO SATAN AND THE WORLD.
       
      They have BECOME dull of hearing. Become is an important word. It indicates that they did NOT start out that dull of hearing, but became that way.
       
      Verse 12a tells us their failure to mature is exposed.
       
      "For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God;"
       
      By this time...
      According to the time they had been followers of Jesus, they should have been much MORE mature than they were.
       
      You OUGHT to be teachers...
      It was NOT that these were unique people who would hold a unique role of teaching. Instead, they ought to be teachers in the sense that all Christians should be teachers.
       
      MEANING..THE MORE WE READ AND STUDY THE BIBLE AND PRAY AS YOU READ AND STUDY...THE MORE YOU SHOULD NOT BE ABLE TO ONLY TALK IT, BUT YOUR LIFE SHOULD SHOW THAT YOU ARE STRIVING TO WALK IT OUT MORE AND MORE EVERY DAY.
       
      There is an important sense in which EVERY Christian, and to be clear, EVERY CHRISTIAN REFERS ONLY TO THOSE WHO HAVE HIT THEIR KNEES, REPENTED THEIR UNBELIEF AND SINS, AND HAVE INVITED JESUS CHRIST AND JESUS CHRIST ALONE INTO THEIR HEART AND LIFE TO BE THEIR LORD, SAVIOR, MASTER, AND FRIEND AND THEN PROCLAIM THEY HAVE CHOSEN JESUS CHRIST AND ARE NOT ASHAMED TO CALL JESUS CHRIST THEIR SAVIOR.
       
      THOSE THEN, SHOULD BE EVER STUDYING THE BIBLE, AND PRAYING AND SEEKING JESUS CHRIST FACE. THEY MUST BE COME TO BE A teacher, because we can all help disciple others. We really only GROW IN JESUS, STRIVE TO BECOME MORE LIKE JESUS AND LESS LIKE THE WORLD, and can effectively TEACH IT OR SHARE IT with someone else. Teaching is the final step of learning.
       
      You need someone to teach you again the FIRST principles of the oracles of God...
       
      ORACLES OF GOD...MEANS THAT JESUS CHRIST IS THE REVELATION AND THE TOTAL FULFILMENT OF THE MYSTERIES OF GOD. JESUS CHRIST IS THE TRUE ORACLE OF GOD, WHICH MEANS GOD'S TRUTH, ANSWERS, AND REVELATIONS ARE IN JESUS CHRIST AND HIS WORD.
       
      SOME WRONGLY AND ARROGANTLY POINT TO PART OF THIS VERSE AND PROCLAIM THAT NEW TESTAMENT CHRISTIANS WILL HAVE NEW ORACLES, NEW REVELATIONS, NEW PROPHECIES, NEW WISDOMS, NEW TEACHINGS FROM GOD. THAT IS A LIE. THOSE WHO SAY THIS, TEACH THIS, PROCLAIM THIS ARE NOT READING, STUDYING, MUCH LESS DO NOT KNOW THE WORD OF GOD AND WHO JESUS CHRIST IS.
       
      This is NOT to their credit. It is NOT that the first principles are "beneath" the mature Christian. Rather, the sense is that one should be able to teach one's self, and remind one's self of these FIRST principles of the oracles of God.
       
      Verses 12b-14 tells us a contrast between milk and solid food.
       
      "And you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil."
       
      And you have come to need milk...
       
      MILK corresponds to the FIRST principles of Hebrews 6:12. Solid food is the "meatier" material such as understanding the connection between Jesus and Melchizedek. It is NOT that milk is bad; but these Christians should have added solid food to their diet. Peter reminds us all as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby (1 Peter 2:2).
       
      In the original language, the sense of for he is a babe is for he has become a babe. There is nothing more delightful than a true babe in Jesus. But there is nothing more irritating and depressing than someone who should be mature but who has become a babe again instead!
       
      Have you become a babe?
      Perhaps your Christian life is unstable.
      Babies are handed from one person to another; babes are tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine (Ephesians 4:14-16).
       
      Have you become a babe?
      Perhaps you are divisive in your Christian life.
      Babies each have their own crib that they stick to; babes have their particular denomination or church that they think of as "my church."
       
      Have you become a babe?
      Perhaps you are star-struck by Christian celebrities of one kind or another.
      Babies are focused on one particular person (mommy); babes glory in men (I am of Paul, I am of Apollos).
       
      Have you become a babe?
      Perhaps you are spiritually asleep.
      Babies need a lot of sleep; babes spend much time spiritually asleep.
       
      Have you become a babe?
      Perhaps you are fussy and cranky with others.
      Babies can be cranky; babes will fuss over any little thing.
       
      Babies open their mouths and drink or eat whatever is fed them. If you are a Christian, you should be READING and STUDYING AND PRAYING OVER THE BIBLE EVERY DAY. IF YOU ARE A MEMBER OF A CHURCH, AND YOU ARE SITTING IN THE PEWS OR AT REVIVALS OR SPEAKING CONVENTIONS AND YOU ARE HEARING FALSE GOSPELS, FALSE TEACHINGS OF THE PROSPERITY GOSPEL, THE FALSE SUPER-CHRISTIAN IDEOLOGIES, THE NAME IT AND CLAIM IT FALSE GOSPELS, IF YOUR PASTOR IS PREACHING AND PROCLAIMING...WE ARE ALL GOD'S CHILDREN. IF YOU ARE A CHRISTIAN YOU SHOULD BE HAVING HEAVEN ON EARTH, YOUR BEST LIFE NOW, YOU SHOULD BE HEALTHY, WEALTHY, WISE, AND LOVED BY ALL...YOU HAVE THE POWER TO GET WEALTH, YOU HAVE THE POWER TO HEAL, YOU HAVE THE POWER TO SUMMON THE HOLY SPIRIT, CALL DOWN HOLY FIRE, SUMMON AND CONTROL THE GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, SLAY IN THE SPIRIT, SUMMON AND COMMAND YOUR OWN PERSONAL ANGELS, IF YOU ARE NOT HEALTHY, WEALTHY, WISE AND BELOVED BY ALL YOU ARE NOT A CHRISTIAN. IF THEY ARE TEACHING THE TERRORISTS, GAYS, ABORTIONISTS, CHILD ABUSERS, MARRIAGE DESTROYERS, SUBJECTIVE MORALITY IS APPROVED AND LIKED BY GOD, AND YOU WILL ALL GO TO HEAVEN ON YOUR OWN MERITS AND YOUR OWN GOOD WORKS....YOU ARE A BABE SWALLOWING THE LIES OF SATAN, THE WORLD, AND BEING DECEIVED...BECAUSE THAT IS NOT WHAT THE BIBLE TEACHES.
       
      THE BIBLE TEACHES THAT JESUS CHRIST ALONE SAVES.
      THE HOLY SPIRIT ALONE GIVES THE GIFTS AS HE WILLS IT, NO ONE CAN TEACH THEM OR SUMMON THEM.
      GOD CREATED ALL MANKIND, BUT NOT ALL MANKIND ARE CHILDREN OF GOD, ONLY THOSE WHO HAVE REPENTED, NOW KNOW, LOVE, FOLLOW, AND CLAIM JESUS CHRIST AS THE ONLY WAY, THE ONLY TRUTH, AND THE ONLY LIFE AND SALVATION PATH TO ALMIGHTY GOD ARE NOW CALLED CHILDREN OF GOD.
       
      BABES DO NOT KNOW OR SEEK OR STUDY THE BIBLE AND THE WORD AND TEACHINGS AND PROMISES OF JESUS CHRIST...THEY OPEN THEIR MOUTHS AND ACCEPT WHATEVER IS SAID TO THEM.
       
      Is unskilled in the word of righteousness...
       
      Those who have become babes reveal themselves because they are unskilled in the word of righteousness. We do NOT expect brand NEW Christians to be skilled in the word of righteousness, but those who have been Christians for a time should be.
       
      Who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil...
      Our senses are exercised (trained by practice and habit) to discern both good and evil (doctrinally, NOT morally). How are our senses exercised? Plainly, by reason of use. When we decide to use discernment given us in The Bible, we mature.
       
      These Christians demonstrated immaturity by both their LACK of discernment between good and evil and in their contemplation of giving up with Jesus. The mature Christian is marked by their discernment and by their unshakable commitment to Jesus Christ alone, not the world, not religions, not man at all.
       
      The ability to discern is a critical measure of spiritual maturity. Babies will put anything in their mouths! Babes are weak in discernment, and will accept any kind of spiritualism, new age false doctrines, any kind of food as long as they like it and it does not teach them, but tickles their ears and makes them feel good about themselves.
       
      Have their senses exercised...
       
      It can be said that all five human senses have their spiritual counterparts.
       
      WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
       
      1. We SHOULD have a spiritual sense of taste..
      "If indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious" (1 Peter 2:3).
      "Taste and see that the LORD is good!" (Psalm 34:8)
       
      2. We SHOULD have a spiritual sense of hearing...
      1. "Hear and your soul shall live." (Isaiah 55:3).
      2. "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." (Revelation 2:7).
       
      3. We SHOULD have a spiritual sense of sight...
      1. Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law (Psalm 119:18).
      2. The eyes of your understanding (heart) being enlightened (Ephesians 1:18).
       
      4. We SHOULD have a spiritual sense of smell...
      1. "He shall be of quick scent in the fear of the LORD." (Isaiah 11:3).
      2. "I am full, having received from … you, a sweet-smelling aroma." (Philippians 4:18).
       
      5. We SHOULD have a spiritual sense of touch or feeling...
      1. "Because your heart was tender, and you humbled yourself before the LORD (2 Kings 22:19).
      2. "The hardening of their heart; who being past feeling, have given themselves over to licentiousness." (Ephesians 4:18-19).
       
      THEN AND NOW, WE AS CHRISTIANS, BABIES OR MATURE, SHOULD ALWAYS CHECK OUT WHAT WE HEAR OR READ OR ARE BEING TAUGHT. THE BIBLE AND THE HOLY SPIRIT CAN NOT TESTIFY AGAINST EACH OTHER. THEY WILL MIRROR EACH OTHER PERFECTLY.
       
      SO WE ARE COMMANDED NOT TO BLINDLY ACCEPT ANYTHING YOU HEAR OR READ OR TAUGHT, BUT BE WISE, USE DISCERNMENT, AND SEEK OUT CONFIRMATION FROM THE BIBLE ABOUT WHAT JESUS TEACHES AND DIRECTS AND PROMISES, AS WELL WHAT HE WARNS US AGAINST.

    • July 6, 2016 5:08 PM EDT
    • HEBREWS 6
       
      OPENS WITH...A WARNING TO DISCOURAGED BELIEVERS
       
      Verse 1 tells us Going beyond the basics.
       
      "Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection,"
       
      THEREFORE...The writer has just rebuked his readers for their spiritual immaturity; but he knows that nothing is gained by treating them as immature. So he moves on to other ideas.
       
      Elementary principles...
       
      This has the idea of "rudiments" or "ABCs." They are basic building blocks that are necessary, but must be built upon - otherwise you just have a foundation and NO structure.
       
      Perfection...
       
      This is the ancient Greek word "teleiotes", which is much better understood as "maturity."
       
      The writer to the Hebrews is NOT trying to tell us that we can reach perfection on THIS SIDE of eternity, as so many take PIECEMEAL OF THIS SCRIPTURE AND POINT TO IT AND PROCLAIM WE CAN LIVE IN SINLESS PERFECTION IN THIS LIFE.
       
      The writer wants us to know, PERFECTION can not be reached on this side of eternity, but we can and should reach a place of maturity in Jesus. So the call is plain: let us go on to perfection.
       
      Verses 1-2 tells us some of the "basics" to GO BEYOND.
       
      "Not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment."
       
      YOU NOTICE...These "basics" are given in three pairs:
      1. Repentance and faith go together.
      2. Baptisms and laying on of hands go together.
      3. Resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment go together.
       
      Not laying again the foundation...
       
      Many people WRONGLY AND FALSELY regard this as a Biblical list of important "foundations" for the Christian life. Bible study series have been taught developing each one of these topics, out of the thought that this is GOOD LIST of basic doctrines.
       
      BUT WE WHO HAVE STUDIED THE BIBLE, know this is NOT the writer's point here at all.
      To understand this list, you must ask a basic questions FIRST:
      1. What is distinctively Christian about this list?
      2. Where is the specific mention of Jesus or salvation by grace alone?
      3. Can you believe or practice these things and not be a follower of Jesus Christ, believing Him to be the Messiah?
       
      DID YOU KNOW..Not even baptisms, as it is used in this passage, is necessarily Christian.
       
      The specific ancient Greek word translated baptisms is not the word regularly used in the New Testament to describe Christian baptism.
       
      It is the word used on two other specific occasions (Hebrews 9:10 and Mark 7:4) to refer to Jewish ceremonial washings.
       
      The New English Bible translation reflects this, translating doctrine of baptisms correctly in this scripture as "instruction about cleansing rites."
       
      In this case, the elementary principles to move beyond are all items in the "common ground" between Christianity and Judaism.
       
      WHY?
       
      This was a "safe" common ground these Jewish Christians retreated to.
       
      WHY?
       
      Because Christianity did grow out of Judaism, it was a more subtle temptation for a Jewish Christian to slip back into Judaism than it was for a formerly pagan Christian to go back to his pagan ways.
       
      Of course, these Jewish Christians did NOT want to abandon RELIGION AND ITS RITES AND RITUALS, but they did want to make it LESS distinctively Christian.
       
      Therefore, they went back to this "common ground".
       
      WHY?
      FIRST TO AVOID persecution.
      Living in this comfortable common ground, you would NOT stick out so much. A Jew and a Christian together could say, "Let's repent, let's have faith, let's perform ceremonial washings," and so forth. But this was a subtle DENIAL of Jesus.
       
      MANY "SUPPOSED RELIGIOUS AND RELIGIOSITIES, THEN AND NOW DO THE SAME, AND STILL TRY TO CALL THEMSELVES CHRISTIANS...BUT WHAT THEY ARE DOING, SAYING, PREACHING, TEACHING AND FOLLOWING IS IN THE EYES OF ALMIGHTY GOD A SUBTLE DENIAL OF JESUS AND ALL THAT HE IS AND HAS DONE.
       
      This is entirely characteristic of those who feel discouraged, and wish to give up. There is always the temptation to BE RELIGIOUS, but not so "fanatical and focused on" Jesus Christ himself. ALMIGHTY GOD WILL NOT ACCEPT FENCE RIDERS...YOU EITHER LOVE HIS SON, ACKNOWLEDGE, TRUST AND BELIEVE IN HIS PRECIOUS SON JESUS CHRIST AND JESUS CHRIST ALONE..AND STAND AND PROCLAIM HIM LORD OF YOUR LIFE..OR YOU ARE DENYING HIM.
       
      Verse 3 tells us a statement of hope and dependence on God.
       
      "And this we will do if God permits."
       
      If God permits...
       
      This should NOT be taken as implying that God may NOT want them to go on to maturity, past those basics common to Christianity and Judaism, as some WRONGLY teach. We have Gentiles joining Judaism synagogues and Jews joining Gentile churches because they are TAUGHT or THINK THEY WILL BE SEEN MORE HOLY AND SAVED AND PLEASING TO GOD WHEN THEY DO. THEY ARE FALSE TEACHERS...IT IS NOT ABOUT JEW OR GENTILE AT ALL. IT IS NOT ABOUT SYNAGOGUES OR CHURCHES AT ALL. IT WAS, IS AND EVER SHALL ONLY BE ALL ABOUT JESUS CHRIST AND HIS WORD.
       
      THERE IS AN ANALOGY THAT SAYS, "MOVING TO A GARAGE DOES NOT MAKE YOU A CAR...NEITHER DOES A BUILDING MAKE YOU JESUS FAMILY."
       
      Instead, what is meant here, is this, IF God permits expresses the believers' complete DEPENDENCE on God. If we do press on to maturity, we realize that it only happens at God's pleasure.
       
      THE SERIOUS DANGER OF FALLING AWAY.
       
      1. We must first be concerned with understanding what the text says (exposition), before we are concerned with fitting what it says into a system of theology.
       
      2. Systems of theology are important, because the Bible does not contradict itself; but the way to right systems begins with a right understanding of the text, not one that bends the text to fit into a system.
       
      SPURGEON says it well, "We come to this passage ourselves with the intention to read it with the simplicity of a child, and whatever we find therein to state it; and if it may not seem to agree with something we have hitherto held, we are prepared to cast away every doctrine of our own, rather than one passage of Scripture."
       
      THEN AND NOW, TOO MANY RELIGIONS AND RELIGIOSITIES HAVE TAKEN GOD'S HOLY WORD GIVEN US, AND TWIST IT, RE-CREATE IT, CHANGE IT AND ALTER IT TO SAY WHAT OUR MAN-CREATED RELIGIOSITIES DOCTRINES PREFER AND CLAIM AS THE TRUE AND DIVINE.
       
      WHEN WHAT THEY ARE IS CREATING, TEACHING AND SPREADING FALSE DOCTRINES, FALSE GOSPELS, WHICH ARE DOCTRINES OF DEMONS...NOT DOCTRINES OF ALMIGHTY GOD.
       
      AND WE NEED TO ALWAYS REMEMER...
       
      Satan knows Scripture, and this passage has rightly been called "one of the Devil's favorite passages" for its ability to be taken out of context and said to eternally condemn the struggling believer. Many have felt like giving up after hearing Satan "preach a sermon" on this text!
       
      Verses 4-6 tells us the impossibility of repentance for those who have fallen away after receiving blessing from God.
       
      "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."
       
      For it is IMPOSSIBLE...
       
      The word impossible is put in a position of emphasis. The writer to the Hebrews is not saying it is just difficult, but truly without possibility.
       
      Note the other uses of IMPOSSIBLE in Hebrews.
       
      HEBREWS 6:18, "It is impossible for God to lie."
      HEBREWS 10:4, "It is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats can take away sin."
      HEBERWS 11:6, "Without faith it is impossible to please God."
       
      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...
       
      Their experience is impressive. The big debate is whether this is the experience of salvation, or the experience of something short of salvation.
       
      1. ENLIGHTENED:
      This ancient Greek word has the same meaning as the English word. These people have experienced the light of God shining upon them.
       
      2. TASTED:
      This word speaks of a full, real experience (as in how Jesus tasted death in Hebrews 2:9). The heavenly gift is probably salvation (Romans 6:23 and Ephesians 2:8).
       
      3. PARTAKERS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT is an unique term, having to do with receiving the Holy Spirit and having fellowship with the Holy Spirit.
       
      4. TASTED THE GOOD WORD OF GOD:
      Means they have experienced the goodness of God's word, and have seen its work in their lives.
       
      5. THE POWERS OF THE AGE TO COME:
      Is a way to describe God's supernatural power. The ones written of here have indeed tasted of these powers.
       
      One of the most heated debates over any New Testament passage is focused on this text.
       
      FOR THOSE OF US WHO KNOW AND LOVE JESUS CHRIST...The two questions are simple:
       
      1. Are these people who have had these impressive spiritual experiences in fact Christians?
       
      2. Are they God's elect, chosen before the foundation of the world?
       
      REMEMBER ALWAYS WHAT THE BIBLE SHOWS US AND TELLS US:
       
      1. One can have GREAT spiritual experiences and still NOT be saved, told to us in Matthew 7:21-23.
       
      2. One can even do MANY RELIGIOUS things and still NOT be saved.
      The perfect example of this are the Pharisees.
      1. They evangelized told to us in Matthew 23:15.
      2. They prayed impressively told to us in Matthew 23:14.
      3. They made religious commitments told to us in Matthew 23:16.
      4. They tithed rigorously told to us in Matthew 23:23.
      5. They honored religious traditions told to us in Matthew 23:29-31.
      6. They fasted told to us in Luke 18:12.
       
      Yet, from a HUMAN perspective, who would call anyone who seemed to have the credentials mentioned in Hebrews 6:4-5 a non-Christian? We might make that person an elder!
       
      From all HUMAN observation, we must say these are Christians spoken of in Hebrews 6:4-5.
       
      AND REMEMBER, It is possible to display SOME fruit or spiritual growth, then to die spiritually, showing that the "soil of the heart" was NEVER right, told to us in Mark 4:16-19.
       
      So are they Christians?
      From a human worldly perspective we would say they are.
       
      Yet, from God's perspective, it is IMPOSSIBLE to say on this side of eternity.
       
      For it is impossible … if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance...
       
      PEOPLE SAY...If these people are Christians or not, once they have come to this place, it is impossible for them to repent.
       
      PEOPLE SAY...If these are just Christians who "lost their salvation," the terrible fact is that they can never regain it.
       
      DID YOU KNOW...This passage was used by some in the early church (like Montanists and Novatianists) to say that there was NO possibility of restoration if one sinned significantly after their baptism.
       
      Others have explained it by saying that this is all merely a hypothetical warning, in light of Hebrews 6:9. So, they say, no one can really lose their salvation. But what good is it to warn someone against something that CAN NOT happen?
       
      Still others think that this penalty deals only with reward, NOT with salvation itself. They stress the idea that repentance is called impossible, not salvation.
       
      This difficult passage is best understood in the context of Hebrews 6:1-2.
       
      BUT THIS IS WHY IT IS SO IMPORTANT TO READ ALL OF THE CHAPTER...AND NOT JUST A PIECE OF A SCRIPTURE FOUND IN BIBLE.
      WHY?
      BECAUSE WE UNDERSTAND the writer to the Hebrews means that if they DO retreat back to Judaism, all the religious "repentance" in the world will do them NO good.
       
      Their forsaking of Jesus is tantamount to crucifying Him all over again, especially if they were to express their repentance in traditional Jewish forms: especially animal sacrifice, which denies the total work of Jesus for them on the cross.
       
      If they fall away...
       
      Remember there is a GREAT difference between falling and falling away.
       
      WHY?
      Falling away is NOT just falling into some sin, it is actually DEPARTING from Jesus Himself.
       
      PROVERBS 24:16 says, "For a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again, but the wicked shall fall by calamity."
       
      THINK OF FALLING AND FALLING AWAY, as the difference is between Peter and Judas. Peter fell, but Judas fell away. If you depart from Jesus, there is NO hope!
       
      The message to these Christians who felt like giving up was clear...
       
      If you do NOT continue on with Jesus, do NOT suppose you will find salvation by just going on with the old basics that are common to Judaism; if you are NOT saved in Jesus, you are NOT saved at all!
       
      If one falls like this, does it mean they can't repent? That God prohibits their repentance?
       
      REMEMBER...
       
      FIRST...that repentance itself is a gift from God; no one genuinely repents without God's enabling.
      SECOND, if one does repent, that in itself is evidence that they have NOT truly fallen away.
       
      The idea is not that "if you fall away, you can not come back to Jesus ever," but that "if you turn your back on Jesus, do not expect to find salvation anywhere else, especially in the foundations of Judaism apart from the fullness of Jesus."
       
      MEYER says it well, "This passage has nothing to do with those who fear lest it condemns them. The presence of that anxiety, like the cry which betrayed the real mother in the days of Solomon, establishes beyond a doubt that you are not one that has fallen away beyond the possibility of renewal to repentance."
       
      Verses 7-8 tells us an illustration of the SERIOUS consequences of falling away.
       
      "For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God; but if it bears thorns and briars, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned."
       
      For the earth which drinks in the rain … and bears herbs useful … receives blessing from God...
       
      WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
       
      When the earth receives rain (A GIFT AND PROVISION FROM GOD), and then bears useful plants, it then fulfills its purpose and justifies the blessing of rain sent upon it.
      The writer to the Hebrews applies the SAME point: "You have been blessed. But where's the fruit?"
       
      God is looking for what grows in us AFTER He blesses us, especially what grows in terms of maturity.
       
      But if it bears thorns and briars, it is rejected...
       
      WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
       
      If ground that is blessed by rain refuses to bear fruit, then who can blame the farmer for burning it?
       
      The picture presented reminds us that growth and bearing fruit is important to keep from falling away.
      "Count it all joy." James 1:2
       
      "When we really bear fruit, we abide in Jesus and in no danger of falling away". John 15:5
       
      IN OTHER WORDS...Do NOT be discouraged!
       
      Verse 9 tells us The writer admits he is being a little more harsh than he needs to be.
       
      "But, beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation, though we speak in this manner."
       
      We are confident of better things concerning you...
      Though he spoke so severely, the writer to the Hebrews is confident that they really will continue on in Jesus, that their PERSEVERENCE is one of the things that accompany salvation.
       
      Though we speak in this manner...
      However, it would be wrong to take Hebrews 6:9 to mean the warnings in the previous verses were NOT serious, or warned of impossible things.
       
      If anything, verse nine is a verse of encouragement; these Christians are in danger of falling away not so much out of a calculated rebellion, as because of a depressing discouragement. They need to be warned, but they also need to be encouraged!
       
      Verses 10-12 tells us Do not be discouraged into giving up on Jesus! God has not forgotten about you!
       
      "For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister. And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises."
       
      God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love...
      When we are discouraged, we often think God has forgotten all we have done for Him and His people. But God would cease to be God (He would be unjust) if He forgot such things. God sees and remembers.
       
      How many lose sight of the fact that God sees their service?
       
      How many serve for the applause and attention of man, and are discouraged because it does not come?
       
      We desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end...
       
      Keep up your good work; press on with that hope until the end; imitate those who inherit (not earn) God's promises.
       
      When we are discouraged as the Hebrew Christians were discouraged we can easily become sluggish. The writer to Hebrews encourages us like a coach, pressing us to press on. Keep going! Keep moving!
       
      But imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises...
      Imitate those who found the key to gaining God's promises - faith and patience, as demonstrated by Abraham.
       
      But, praise God, Abraham did NOT have a perfect faith or a perfect patience! If Abraham had some of our weaknesses, then we can have some of his faith and patience.
       
      Do not become sluggish...
      Do NOT let discouragement make you sluggish. It's that sluggish attitude that really makes us feel like giving up.
      First we lose the desire to press on then we lose the desire to go on.
       
      You really do NOT have to give into discouragement. David encouraged himself in the Lord his God (1 Samuel 30:6). So can you! Encourage yourself in the Lord!
       
      Verses 13-18 tells us DO NOT be discouraged: God's promises are reliable.
       
      "For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying, "Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you." And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. For men indeed swear by the greater, and an oath for confirmation is for them an end of all dispute. Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us."
       
      After he had patiently endured...
      During this time of patient endurance, many Christians get attacked. They wonder if they too will obtain the promise.
       
      They often wonder "Will God really come through?"
       
      After he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise:
       
      God came through for Abraham, even sealing His promise with an oath. In fact, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself. This oath showed that God's promises (like His character) are unchanging.
       
      That by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation...
       
      REMEMBER THE TWO IMMUTABLE (UNCHANGING) things are God's promise and His oath. It is impossible for God to lie in either of these two things.
       
      We might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us...
       
      DO NOT be discouraged!
      God has a refuge of hope ready for you. We can think of this refuge of hope are like the cities of refuge commanded by the Law of Moses, as described in Numbers 35.
       
      BOTH Jesus and the cities of refuge are within EASY REACH of the needy person; they were of no use unless someone could get to the place of refuge.
       
      BOTH Jesus and the cities of refuge are open TO ALL, not just the Israelite; no one needs to fear that they would be turned away from their place of refuge in their time of need.
       
      BOTH Jesus and the cities of refuge became a place where the one in need WOULD LIVE; you did NOT come to a city of refuge in time of need just to look around.
       
      BOTH Jesus and the cities of refuge are the ONLY alternative for the one in need; without this specific protection, they will be destroyed.
       
      BOTH Jesus and the cities of refuge provide protection only within their boundaries; to go outside meant death.
       
      With both Jesus and the cities of refuge, full freedom comes with the death of the High Priest.
       
      However, there is a crucial distinction between Jesus and the cities of refuge.
      The cities of refuge ONLY helped the innocent; the guilty can come to Jesus and find refuge.
       
      Verses 19-20 DO NOT be discouraged! Jesus WILL lead us into God's glory.
       
      "This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek."
       
      This hope we have as an anchor...
      The anchor was a common figure for hope in the ancient world. Here it especially reminds us that we are anchored to something firm, but unseen (which enters the Presence behind the veil).
       
      You do NOT need an anchor for calm seas. The rougher the weather, the more important your anchor!
       
      But the anchor analogy does NOT apply perfectly. We are anchored upward in heaven, not down in the ground; and we are anchored to move on, not to stand still!
       
      Which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us...
       
      This hope will see us into the very presence of God. Hope is the opposite of the discouragement these Jewish Christians have been battling against.
       
      The forerunner … even Jesus...
       
      We are assured of this access into the presence of God because Jesus has entered as a forerunner. The Levitical high priest did NOT enter the veil as a forerunner, only as a representative. But Jesus has entered into the Father's intimate presence so that His people can follow Him there.
       
      DID YOU KNOW...A forerunner (the ancient Greek word "prodromos" was a reconnaissance man in the military. A forerunner goes forward, knowing that others are going to follow!
       
      Behind the veil … having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek...
       
      The temple analogy (behind the veil) reminds the writer to the Hebrews that he was speaking of Jesus as our High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

       

    • July 6, 2016 5:05 PM EDT
    • HEBREWS 7
       
      OPENS WITH A BETTER PRIESTHOOD, A BETTER HIGH PRIEST
       
      The writer to the Hebrews will explain a theme that he has introduced way back in Hebrews 2:17: Jesus as our High Priest.
       
      THE HEBREW WRITER had begun to discuss the issue in Hebrews 5:10, but had to spend some time warning these discouraged Christians about the danger of not continuing and progressing in their Christian life.
       
      These Jewish Christians would be very interested in Jesus as their High Priest, but would have a significant intellectual objection to the idea.
       
      WHY?
       
      This is because Jesus did NOT come from the priestly tribe (the tribe of Levi) or the priestly family (the family of Aaron).
       
      The writer to the Hebrews wants to remove these intellectual problems the Jewish Christians had with the gospel.
       
      These intellectual hang-ups were keeping them from continuing on to maturity in Jesus.
       
      In the same way, too many Christians are hung up on INTELLECTUAL things that could be resolved so they could move on with Jesus.
       
      WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
       
      If a Christian is hung up on issues like creation and evolution, the validity of miracles, or other such things, they should TRUST GOD'S WORD AND HIS TRUTHS, REGARDLESS IF THEY UNDERSTAND ALL THINGS.
       
      THINK ABOUT IT LIKE THIS, IN GENESIS 2:7, OUR TRIUNE GOD TELLS US, "And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul."
       
      HAD ALMIGHTY GOD SAID, AND THE LORD FORMED MAN FROM DNA, MANKIND WOULD HAVE HAD NO IDEA WHAT GOD WAS TALKING ABOUT. AND IT WOULD TAKE MANKIND ALMOST 7000 YEARS TO BEGIN TO SCRATCH THE SURFACE OF WHAT THE ATOM WAS, AND WHAT DNA WAS AND HOW SUPREMELY UNIQUE IT IS TO EACH AND EVERY LIVING THING.
       
      THOUGH WE, WHO LOVE JESUS AND STUDY HIS INERRANT WORD MAY NOT, ON THIS SIDE OF ETERNITY UNDERSTAND ALL THE HOWS, WHYS, AND WHENS OF GOD'S TRUTHS AND REVELATIONS WE CAN TRUST THEM. THE LORD KEPT IT SIMPLE FOR OUR SAKE, NOT HIS OWN. GOD WANTS US TO UNDERSTAND HIM, SO HE KEPT THINGS SIMPLE.
       
      This chapter is also important because it shows us how we should think of the Old Testament institutions of the priesthood and the Law.
       
      Melchizedek and his relation to the Aaronic priesthood.
       
      Verses 1-3 reminds us of what we know of Melchizedek from Genesis 14:18-20.
       
      "For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all, first being translated "king of righteousness," and then also king of Salem, meaning "king of peace," without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, remains a priest continually."
       
      Who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings...
       
      After Abraham defeated the confederation of kings who took his nephew Lot captive, he met with a mysterious priest named Melchizedek, who was also king over the city of Salem.
       
      DID YOU KNOW, SALEM is an ancient name for the city of Jerusalem.
       
      History shows the danger of combining religious and civic authority. Therefore God forbade the kings of Israel to be priests and the priests to be kings. Melchizedek, who was king of Salem and priest of the Most High God is an UNIQUE exception. AND WE KNOW UNIQUE MEANS ONE OF A KIND, AMEN.
       
      Priest of the Most High God...
      Melchizedek was NOT merely a worshipper of the true God. He HAD the honored title priest of the Most High God. The greatness of God magnifies the greatness of Melchizedek's priesthood.
       
      And blessed him...
       
      Melchizedek blessed Abraham, and Abraham gave Melchizedek a tithe, which is a tenth part of all. In this case, all refers either to all the spoils of battle, or all of Abraham's possessions in total.
       
      First being translated "king of righteousness," and then also king of Salem, meaning "king of peace,": The name Melchizedek means "king of righteousness," and he was also king of peace (because the name Salem means "peace").
       
      The order is subtle, but important.
      WHY?
      1. Melchizedek in his very name is called "king of righteousness".
      2. Then he is called "king of peace".
       
      As ALWAYS, righteousness comes before peace. Righteousness is the ONLY true path to peace. People look for that peace in escape, in evasion, or in compromise; but they will ONLY find it in righteousness.
       
      Without father, without mother...
       
      There is nothing said about the genealogy of Melchizedek in the Genesis 14 passage or anywhere else. As far as the Biblical record is concerned, he has no father or mother, no beginning of days nor end of life.
       
      Though virtually all the commentators disagree with each other on this point, some think that without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God means that Melchizedek was a heavenly being, if not a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus Himself.
       
      Made like the Son of God...
       
      Melchizedek was made like the Son of God. It really is NOT that Jesus has Melchizedek's kind of priesthood. Instead, Melchizedek HAS Jesus' kind of priesthood.
       
      Made like in Hebrews 7:3 is "aphomoiomenos", a Greek word used NO WHERE else in the New Testament. "It is a suggestive word, used in the active of 'a facsimile copy or model' and in the passive of 'being made similar to.'"
       
      Remains a priest continually...
       
      This refers to the continuation of the priesthood of Melchizedek, as evidence that Melchizedek was actually Jesus appearing in the Old Testament. Jesus' priesthood DOES remain to this day, and into eternity.
       
      Verses 4-10 tells us Melchizedek is GREATER than Abraham because Abraham paid tithes TO Melchizedek, and because Melchizedek blessed Abraham.
       
      "Now consider how great this man was, to whom even the patriarch Abraham gave a tenth of the spoils. And indeed those who are of the sons of Levi, who receive the priesthood, have a commandment to receive tithes from the people according to the law, that is, from their brethren, though they have come from the loins of Abraham; but he whose genealogy is not derived from them received tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. Now beyond all contradiction the lesser is blessed by the better. Here mortal men receive tithes, but there he receives them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives. Even Levi, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, so to speak, for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him."
       
      Abraham gave a tenth of the spoils … the sons of Levi … have a commandment to receive tithes from the people according to the law...
       
      WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
       
      The priesthood of Levi received tithes from Israel as a commandment. Abraham voluntarily gave tithes to Melchizedek. This makes Abraham's giving to Melchizedek greater than Israel payment of tithes to the priesthood instituted by Moses.
       
      Even Levi, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, so to speak, for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him...
       
      WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
       
      Because the whole tribe of Levi was GENETICALLY in the loins of Abraham when he did this, we see the Levitical priesthood paying tithes to the priesthood of Melchizedek. This shows Melchizedek is in a position of authority over Abraham AND his descendant Levi.
       
      As well, the lesser is blessed by the greater. Therefore Melchizedek showed he was greater than Abraham when he blessed Abraham. On his part, Abraham accepted that Melchizedek was greater when he received the blessing.
       
      CLARKE says it well, "The blessing here spoken of … is not the simple wishing of good to others, which may be done by inferiors to superiors; but it is the action of a person authorized to declare God's intention to bestow good things on another."
       
      Verse 11 tells us the Levitical priesthood NEVER made anything perfect.
       
      "Therefore, if perfection were through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need was there that another priest should rise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be called according to the order of Aaron?"
       
      If perfection were through the Levitical priesthood...
       
      Why would God even make a different order of priesthood (displayed by Melchizedek) if the Levitical priesthood were entirely sufficient? If perfection COULD come through the Levitical priesthood, what need was there for another priesthood?
       
      WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
       
      The simple fact that God describes a priest … according to the order of Melchizedek shows there is something lacking in the priesthood according to the order of Aaron.
       
      Under it the people received the law...
       
      The Levitical priesthood is the priesthood associated with the Law of Moses.
       
      The priesthood of Melchizedek is associated with Abraham, NOT with Moses.
       
      Verse 12 tells us the changing priesthood and the change of the place of Moses' Law.
       
      "For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change of the law."
       
      Of necessity...
       
      The priesthood of Aaron was connected to the Law of Moses. So if the priesthood is changed, we should anticipate some change of the Law's status or place.
       
      Verses 13-14 tells us Jesus could NOT be a priest according to the Mosaic Law; He is from the WRONG tribe.
       
      "For He of whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no man has officiated at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord arose from Judah, of which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood."
       
      Another tribe, from which NO man has officiated at the altar...
       
      WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
       
      Under the Law of Moses, God strictly commanded that ONLY those from the family of Aaron COULD serve at the altar in sacrifice.
       
      He of whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe...
       
      Jesus is obviously NOT from the family of Aaron or even the tribe of Levi.
       
      The tribe of Judah (the tribe of Jesus' lineage) had NOTHING to do with Aaron's priesthood, the priesthood associated with the Law of Moses.
       
      Therefore according to the priesthood of Aaron and the Law of Moses, Jesus could never be a priest. If He is our High Priest, it must be under ANOTHER, A NEW principle.
       
      Verses 15-17 tells us God's declaration that the Messiah belongs to another order of priesthood in Psalm 110:4.
       
      "And it is yet far more evident if, in the likeness of Melchizedek, there arises another priest who has come, not according to the law of a fleshly commandment, but according to the power of an endless life. For He testifies: "You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek."
       
      Not according to the law of a fleshly commandment...
       
      Jesus' priesthood is NOT based upon law or heredity (a fleshly commandment), but upon the power of God's endless life.
       
      You are a priest forever...
       
      This could be said of the Messiah, who was a priest according to the order of Melchizedek. It could NEVER be said of a priest according to the order of Aaron, NONE of whom had the power of an endless life and each of whom served a limited term as priests - limited to their own life-span.
       
      REMEMBER Matthew 27:1 says: "When morning came, all the chief priests and elders of the people plotted against Jesus to put Him to death. Among those who conspired to put Jesus to death, there were priests of the order of Aaron.
       
      But Jesus by the power of an ENDLESS life, Jesus showed that His priesthood WAS superior, when He triumphed over death!
       
      Verses 18-19 tells us WHY the law (the former commandment) is ANNULLED as a means of establishing our relationship and access to God.
       
      "For on the one hand there is an annulling of the former commandment because of its weakness and unprofitableness, for the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God."
       
      In its weakness and unprofitableness, the law made nothing perfect, for while the law sets God's perfect standard, it gives no one the power to keep that standard.
       
      NEWELL says it well, "Let all legalists mark this: The Law made nothing perfect. Let the Seventh Day Adventists mark: The Law made nothing perfect. Let all those who dream of the Law as a rule of life remember: The Law made nothing perfect."
       
      The law made nothing perfect...
       
      Therefore, the law is valuable as it SHOWS US God's perfect standard, but it was not ultimately intended to be the basis of a man's walk with God. This is because the law is weak and unprofitable when it comes to saving my soul or giving me power over sin.
       
      The law DOES PROVIDE expert diagnosis of our sin problem, which is absolutely essential. But the law does NOT provide the cure to our sin problem. ONLY Jesus can save us from our sin problem.
       
      On the other hand...
       
      Since now, in Jesus, we have a BETTER hope, through which we draw near to God, we are wrong to go back to building our Christian walk on the law. Therefore the law is "annulled" in the sense that it NO longer is the dominating principle of our life.
       
      The Greek word translated disannuling [annulling], "athetesis", is the same as appears in Hebrews 9:26 for the putting away of sin 'by the sacrifice of Himself.' The disappearance of the Law is as absolute, therefore, as the putting away of sin!
       
      1. The law does NOT give you a better hope.
       
      2. The law does NOT draw you near to God the way God's grace given in Jesus does.
      3. Yet MANY Christians live a LEGAL relationship with God, instead of a GRACE relationship with Him!
       
      The writer comes to the SAME conclusion about the law as Paul did in Galatians 3:19-25, but he gets there in a totally different way. In Galatians, Paul shows the law as being a tutor that brings us to Jesus. In Hebrews, the law is associated with a priesthood which has been made obsolete by a superior priesthood.
       
      MEYER says it well, "Cease to think of cleansing, and consider the Cleanser; forbear to speculate on deliverance, and deal with the Deliverer."
       
      But we have a BETTER hope, and draw near to God through a BETTER priesthood and High Priest. Our hope is in Jesus Christ, NOT in the Law of Moses!
       
      AND THINK ABOUT THIS...
       
      This should temper our excitement about the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem. The small cadre of dedicated Jews absolutely committed to rebuilding the temple DO have an exciting place in God's prophetic plan. BUT anyone who restores the Aaronic priesthood and resumes Levitical sacrifice REFUSES to recognize the superior priesthood and ultimate sacrifice of Jesus.
       
      Verses 20-21 tells us Jesus was made High Priest by the direct oath of God.
       
      "And inasmuch as He was not made priest without an oath (for they have become priests without an oath, but He with an oath by Him who said to Him: "The LORD has sworn and will not relent, 'You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek'"),"
       
      They have become priests WITHOUT an oath...
       
      WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
       
      The high priest of the order of Aaron was appointed BY heredity, NOT by personal character. Not so with Jesus and the priestly order of Melchizedek! God even sealed His choice by an oath.
       
      Verse 22 tells us Jesus: our GUARANTEE of a better covenant.
       
      "By so much more Jesus has become a surety of a better covenant."
       
      Jesus has become a surety...
       
      Surety (the ancient Greek word "egguos", describes someone who GIVES security. It is a person who would cosign a loan to guarantee payment, or someone who puts up bail for a prisoner. Jesus Himself is the ONLY GUARANTEED of a better covenant.
       
      A better covenant...
       
      The Old Covenant had a mediator (Moses), but NO ONE to guarantee the people's side of the covenant; so they continually failed under it. They had to constantly sacrifice, constantly shed blood of animals to COVER their sins...NOT ERASE THEM.
       
      But the New Covenant - a better covenant - has a cosigner on our behalf! Therefore, the New Covenant depends on what Jesus HAS done, NOT on what we have done.
       
      JESUS IS OUR SURETY, WE ARE NOT.
       
      Covenant...
       
      DID YOU KNOW...
       
      The word used for covenant (the ancient Greek word "diatheke") is not the usual term for "covenant" ("syntheke").
       
      The literal meaning of diatheke is closer to the idea of a "testament" in the sense of a "last will and testament."
       
      Perhaps the writer is trying to stress that while a covenant might be thought of as an agreement that two equal parties arrive at, a testament is dictated by the testator.
       
      The "agreement" under which we meet with God through Jesus is NOT something we have negotiated with Him. He has dictated the terms to us, and we will ACCEPT OR REJECT the terms.
       
      By so much more...
       
      This much more -the overwhelming superiority of Jesus Christ - PROVES He is worthy and able to be our guarantee, our cosigner of a BETTER covenant.
       
      Verses 23-25 tells us An UNCHANGING priesthood means a LASTING salvation.
       
      "Also there were many priests, because they were prevented by death from continuing. But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them."
       
      Also there were many priests...
       
      The priesthood under the Law of Moses CONSTANTLY CHANGED, and so could be better or worse through the years. But He … has an unchangeable priesthood. Jesus will NEVER die, and has a permanent priesthood.
       
      SIMPLY PUT...We do NOT need to worry about a "bad priest" replacing our Jesus!
       
      Continues FOREVER...
       
      This has the idea of "remaining as a servant." Jesus continues forever, and He continues as a servant, even after He ascended into heaven.
       
      He is also able to save to the UTTERMOST...
       
      The unchanging nature of Jesus' priesthood means that the salvation He gives is also unchanging, permanent, and secure.
       
      Many translations of The Bible have changed this to read, Jesus is able to save FROM the uttermost.
       
      But it really says Jesus is able to SAVE TO the uttermost.
      Because He is our High Priest forever, He can save forever.
       
      INTERESTINGLY ENOUGH...The evangelist Billy Sunday had a great sermon, where he talked about how God saved him "from the gutter-most," because he was a gutter-drunk when God saved him. A great line, but NOT true to what the Bible says - we are saved not FROM, but TO the uttermost!
       
      MORRIS says it well, "The verb 'to save' is used absolutely, which means that Christ will save in the most comprehensive sense; he saves from all that humanity needs saving from."
       
      Those who come to God through Him...
       
      This tells us who Jesus is able to save. It means those who abide in the Son and have fellowship with the Father.
       
      SOME ASK...
      Once saved always saved?
      Can a Christian lose his salvation?
      Abide in Jesus and Jesus and His word and you NEVER need to worry about it.
       
      He ever lives to make intercession for them...
       
      Certainly, this strengthens us - the knowledge that Jesus is ALWAYS praying FOR us, and that He ever lives to pray for us! How this would have encouraged these Jewish Christians who felt like giving up on the Christian life!
       
      REMEMBER TOO...Romans 8:33-34 reflects how important Paul thought the intercessory work of Jesus was on our behalf. There, he pictures Jesus defending us against EVERY charge or condemnation through His intercession for us.
       
      NEWELL reminds us, "Our blessed Lord is interceding for us, but He is in no sense appeasing God. All that God's holy Being and righteous government could demand was once for all, completely and forever, satisfied by Jesus Christ at the Cross."
       
      Jesus' intercession on our behalf is NOT a matter of placating an ANGRY Father who wants to destroy us.
       
      Jesus' intercession is NOT a matter of continually chanting prayers on behalf of His people. It means He continually REPRESENTS us before the Father, so that we can draw near through Him, and that JESUS DEFENDS us against Satanic accusation and attack.
       
      Luke 22:31-32 gives an example of Jesus' intercession for His people: "Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren."
       
      Jesus ALWAYS prays to strengthen us in trial and attack, and against Satan's accusations.
       
      Verses 26-28 tells us Jesus is BETTER qualified to be a High Priest than ANY AND ALL priests from the order of the Law of Moses.
       
      "For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people's, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. For the law appoints as high priests men who have weakness, but the word of the oath, which came after the law, appoints the Son who has been perfected forever."
       
      For such a High Priest was fitting for us...
       
      The priests under the Law of Moses did NOT have the personal character of the Son of God.
      Jesus is holy, harmless (without guile or deception), undefiled, separate from sinners (in the sense of sharing in their sin). Jesus is far superior in His personal character than ANY earthly priest.
       
      Has become higher than the heavens...
       
      WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
       
      The PERFECT CHARACTER of Jesus is proven by TWO facts.
       
      FIRST, by His exaltation in heaven.
       
      SECOND, by the fact that He did NOT need to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins - which the other priests needed to do DAILY FIRST!
       
      For the law appoints as high priests men who have weaknesses...
       
      Under the Law of Moses, the priests were ALWAYS men with WEAKNESSES AND SINS.
       
      But Jesus who is PERFECT forever. Because Jesus Christ is a perfect High Priest, He was able to offer up Himself as a perfect sacrifice for our sin. Jesus is perfectly qualified to be our perfect High Priest - perfected forever!

    • July 6, 2016 5:03 PM EDT
    • HEBREWS 8
       
      OPENS WITH A NEW AND BETTER COVENANT
       
      Verses 1-2 give us a summary of points previously made regarding Jesus as our High Priest.
       
      "Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man."
       
      This is the MAIN POINT of the things we are saying...
      We have a High Priest - Jesus Christ - who ministers for us from a position of ALL authority in heaven (seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty).
       
      Who is seated at the right hand of the throne...
       
      Additionally, Jesus is SEATED in heaven, in contrast to the continual service of the priesthood under the Law of Moses WHICH FORBADE THEM TO EVER SIT AND BECAUSE REPENTANCE, ATONING, AND SACRIFICE WERE A DAILY THING...THEY COULD NOT SIT DOWN...THE PRIESTS OF THE LAWS OF MOSES NEVER PERFECTLY COMPLETED THEIR WORK.
       
      AND WE KNOW...The tabernacle and the temple of the Old Covenant had beautiful furnishings, but NO place for the priests to sit down, because their work was never finished. The work of Jesus is finished -He is seated in heaven!
       
      Jesus serves in the TRUE tabernacle which the Lord erected, the original made by God, of which the earthly tabernacle was a copy, made by man told to us in Exodus 25:8-9.
       
      Some have supposed the TRUE tabernacle to be the Church, or Jesus' earthly body. But it is best to understand it as the heavenly reality as Almighty God proclaims and that the earthly tabernacle only imitated/copied it.
       
      Verse 3 tells us Jesus' priesthood HAD a sacrifice - and a BETTER sacrifice.
       
      "For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices. Therefore it is necessary that this One also have something to offer."
       
      Every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices...
      Sacrifice for sin is ESSENTIAL to the concept of priesthood. Jesus, representing a SUPERIOR priesthood, offered a superior sacrifice. He laid down His own life to atone for sin ONCE and then it was PERFECTLY SATISFIED AND FINISHED.
       
      It is necessary that this One also have something to offer: Though Jesus NEVER offered a sacrifice according to the Law of Moses, He offered a better sacrifice instead - HIMSELF.
       
      Verses 4-5 tells us Jesus' priesthood HAD a temple - and a BETTER temple.
       
      "For if He were on earth, He would not be a priest, since there are priests who offer the gifts according to the law; who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, "See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain."
       
      If He were on earth, He would not be a priest...
       
      Jesus is NOT qualified to serve in the inferior earthly priesthood. There are priests - plenty of them - who were qualified to serve in the priesthood according to the Law of Moses.
       
      Who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things...
       
      There were PLENTY of priests who could serve in the copy and shadow on earth. But Jesus is the ONLY ONE qualified to serve in the superior heavenly priesthood. The earthly service, though it was glorious in the eyes of man, was really only a copy and shadow of the superior heavenly service.
       
      Copy and shadow of the heavenly things...
       
      Exodus 25:40 makes it clear that what was built on the earth (Moses' tabernacle) was made according to a pattern which existed in heaven - the pattern which was shown to you [Moses] on the mountain. Therefore, there is a heavenly temple that served as a pattern for the earthly tabernacle and temple. Jesus' ministry as our High Priest takes place in this heavenly temple, NOT in the copy and shadow.
       
      DID YOU KNOW...First century Jews took tremendous pride in the temple, and for good reason: it was a spectacular architectural achievement. However glorious the Jerusalem temple was, it was of man (and mostly built by a corrupt, ungodly man, Herod the Great), and it was NOTHING compared to the glory of the heavenly temple that Jesus served in.
       
      Verse 6 tells us The result: Jesus PRESIDES over a superior priesthood, with a BETTER covenant, and BETTER promises.
       
      "But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises."
       
      Jesus has obtained a more excellent ministry...
       
      NO earthly priest could take away sin the way Jesus did, so Jesus' ministry is far BETTER than the ministry of the priesthood under the Law of Moses. UNDER THE LAW OF MOSES...PRIESTS DUTIES COULD ONLY COVER THE SIN, JESUS CHRIST COULD ERASE ALL SIN.
       
      Mediator of a better covenant...
       
      Jesus has mediated for us a better covenant, a covenant of grace, not works, which is guaranteed for us by a cosigner (Hebrews 7:22).
       
      It is a covenant marked by BELIEVING AND RECEIVING instead of by EARNING AND DESERVING.
       
      Which was established on better promises...
       
      Jesus has for us BETTER promises.
       
      1. Promises to see us through the most desperate and dark times.
      2. Promises that become alive to us through the Spirit of God.
      3. Promises of blessing and undeserved favor instead of promises of cursing.
       
      Jesus is our Mediator for this greater covenant. Mediator is the ancient Greek word "mesites", which means "one who stands in the middle between two people and brings them together.
       
      Moses was the mediator of the Old Covenant, because he "brought the two parties together."
       
      Jesus is the Mediator of the New Covenant, a better covenant, bringing us to God the Father.
       
      HERE IS AN OVERVIEW of covenants through God's redemptive history.
       
      1. There is an eternal covenant between the members of the Godhead that made possible the salvation of man (Hebrews 13:20).
       
      2. God's redemptive plan was continued through the covenant He made with Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3).
       
      3. The Mosaic covenant was another step in God's redemptive plan (Exodus 24:3-8).
       
      4. The Davidic covenant was yet another step in God's redemptive plan (2 Samuel 7:1-16).
       
      5. But the redemptive plan of God was fulfilled in the New Covenant (Luke 22:14-20).
       
      THE NEW COVENANT IS FAR SUPERIOR TO THE OLD COVENANT.
       
      Verse 7 tells us the mere fact that God mentions ANOTHER covenant is proves that there is something LACKING in the Old Covenant.
       
      "For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second."
       
      AND BOY DO WE KNOW...It IS in the nature of man to come up with things that are "NEW" but not needed.
       
      God is NOT like that.
      If the first covenant had been faultless, there would have been NO need for a second covenant.
       
      If God established a New Covenant, it means that there is something lacking in the Old Covenant.
       
      Verses 8-12 tells us The New Covenant as it is presented in the Old Testament (quoting from Jeremiah 31:31-34).
       
      "Because finding fault with them, He says: "Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah; not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the LORD. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more."
       
      Finding fault...
       
      In this passage from Jeremiah 31, God shows that there must have been something lacking in the Old Covenant - because a New Covenant is promised. In the days of Jeremiah, that New Covenant was still in the future, because he says "Behold the days are coming."
       
      In its context, Jeremiah's prophecy probably comes from the days of Josiah's renewal of the covenant after finding the law (2 Kings 23:3).
       
      This renewal was good, but it was NOT enough, because Jeremiah looks forward to a NEW covenant.
       
      I will make...
       
      The Lord makes it plain that this covenant originates with God, NOT with man.
       
      At Sinai, under the Old Covenant, the words were IF YOU (Exodus 19:5), but in the New Covenant, the words are I WILL.
       
      A new covenant...
       
      This covenant is TRULY NEW, not merely "new and improved" in the way things are marketed to us today.
       
      Today, products are said to be "new and improved" when there is NO substantial difference in the product. But when God says "NEW," He means NEW, NEVER BEFORE SEEN.
       
      There are two Greek words that can describe the concept of "new."
       
      NEOS describes newness as regards to TIME. Something can be a copy of something else, but if it recently made, it can be called neos.
       
      KAINOS the ancient Greek word ( used here) describes something that is not only new in reference to TIME, but is truly new in its QUALITY. It simply is NOT a new reproduction of something old.
       
      With the house of Israel and the house of Judah...
       
      The New Covenant definitely BEGAN with Israel, but did NOT END with Israel (Matthew 15:24 and Acts 1:8).
       
      Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers...
       
      This covenant is NOT like the covenant God made with their fathers. Again, this emphasizes that there is something substantially DIFFERENT about the New Covenant.
       
      Because they did not continue in My covenant...
       
      The weakness of the Old Covenant was NOT in the Covenant itself. It was in the weakness and inability of MAN. The reason the Old Covenant did NOT "work" was because they did NOT continue in My covenant.
       
      I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts...
       
      The New Covenant features transformation from WITHIN, NOT regulation through external law.
       
      I will be their God, and they shall be My people...
       
      The New Covenant also features a greater intimacy with God than what was available under the Old Covenant.
       
      Their sins and lawless deeds I will remember no more...
       
      The New Covenant offers a true, COMPLETE cleansing from sin, different and better than the mere "covering over" of sin in the Old Covenant.
       
      Verse 13 tells us the significance of a New Covenant.
       
      "In that He says, "A new covenant," He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away."
       
      He has made the first obsolete...
       
      Now that the New Covenant has been inaugurated, the Old Covenant is thereby obsolete.
       
      What is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away...
       
      The message to these discouraged Jewish Christians, who thought of going back to a more Jewish faith, is clear. They simply can NOT go back to an inferior covenant, which is ready to completely vanish away.
       
      The system of sacrifice under the Law of Moses soon DID vanish away with the coming destruction of the Temple and the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD. The Jewish Blood sacrifice system has NOT BEEN reinstituted since.
       
      HERE ARE THE Differences Between the New Covenant and the Old Covenant
       
      1. They were instituted at different times.
       
      The Old Covenant around 1446 B.C., the New Covenant around 33 A.D.
       
      2. They were instituted at different places.
      The Old Covenant at Mount Sinai, the New Covenant at Mount Zion.
       
      3. They were spoken in different ways.
      The Old Covenant was thundered with fear and dread at Mount Sinai (Exodus 19:17-24).
      Jesus Christ, God the Son, declared the New Covenant with love and grace.
       
      4. They are different in their mediators.
      Moses mediated the Old Covenant.
      Jesus is the mediator of the New Covenant.
       
      They are different in their subject matter.
      The Old Covenant demanded a covenant of works.
      The New Covenant fulfills the covenant of works through the completed work of Jesus.
       
      They are different in how they were dedicated.
      The Old Covenant was dedicated with the blood of animals sprinkled on the people (Exodus 24:5-8).
      The New Covenant was dedicated with Jesus' blood spiritually applied to His people.
       
      7. They are different in their priests.
      The Old Covenant is represented by the priesthood of the Law of Moses and high priests descended from Aaron.
      The New Covenant has a priesthood of all believers and a High Priest according to the order of Melchizedek.
       
      8. They are different in their sacrifices.
      The Old Covenant demanded endless repetition of imperfect sacrifices.
      The New Covenant provides a once and for all, perfect sacrifice of the Son of God Himself.
       
      9. They are different in how and where they were written.
       
      The Old Covenant was written by God on tablets of stone.
      The New Covenant is written by God on the hearts of His people.
       
      10. They are different in their goals.
      The goal of the Old Covenant was to discover sin, to condemn it, and to set a "fence" around it.
      The goal of the New Covenant is to declare the love, grace, and mercy of God, and to give repentance, remission of sin, and eternal life.
       
      11. They are different in their practical effect on living.
      The Old Covenant ends in bondage (through no fault of its own).
      The New Covenant provides true liberty.
       
      12. They are different in their giving of the Holy Spirit.
      Under the Old Covenant, God did grant the Holy Spirit to come and cover some, The Holy Spirit came and went, as it did with King Saul and others.
       
      Under the New Covenant, The Holy Spirit enters, fills, remains, seals, and teaches in a FAR greater extent and is GIVEN to the believer in Jesus Christ, His Son, under the New Covenant.
       
      13. They are different in their idea of the Kingdom of God.
       
      Under the Old Covenant, it is mainly seen as the supreme rule of Israel over the nations.
      Under the New Covenant, it is both a present spiritual reality and a coming literal fact.
       
      14. They are different in their substance.
      The Old Covenant has vivid shadows.
      The New Covenant has the reality.
       
      15. They are different in the extent of their administration.
      The Old Covenant was confined to the descendants of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob according to the flesh.
       
      The New Covenant is extended to all nations and races under heaven.
       
      16. They are different in what they actually accomplish.
       
      The Old Covenant made nothing perfect.
      The New Covenant can and will bring in the perfection of God's people.
       
      17. They are different in their duration.
      The Old Covenant was designed to be removed.
      The New Covenant was designed to last forever.

    • July 6, 2016 5:00 PM EDT
    • HEBREWS 9
       
      OPENS WITH THE OLD COVENANT AND THE NEW COVENANT COMPARED
       
      Verses 1-5 tells us The Old Covenant's features described. The Tabernacle and its furnishings.
       
      "Then indeed, even the first covenant had ordinances of divine service and the earthly sanctuary. For a tabernacle was prepared: the first part, in which was the lampstand, the table, and the showbread, which is called the sanctuary; and behind the second veil, the part of the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of All, which had the golden censer and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which were the golden pot that had the manna, Aaron's rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant; and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail."
       
      The EARTHLY sanctuary...
      The tabernacle ordained by the Old Covenant was planned by God, but planned for an EARTHLY service.
       
      For a tabernacle was prepared...
       
      The tabernacle was a tent 45 feet long, 15 feet wide, and 15 feet high, divided into two rooms. The larger room (the first part) was a 15 foot by 30 foot "holy place." Behind the second veil was the smaller room was a 15 foot by 15 foot, called the Holiest of All.
       
      The lampstand with a middle stem and six branches stood in the first part and was of an unspecified size, made of pure gold; it provided the ONLY light for the tabernacle in Exodus 25:31-40.
       
      The table sat in the first part and was made of acacia wood covered with gold, 3 feet long, 1½ feet wide, and 2 feet 3 inches high. It held twelve loaves of showbread, each representing God's FELLOWSHIP with the twelve tribes of Israel in Exodus 25:23-30.
       
      The SANCTUARY refers to the FIRST part, known as the "holy place." A veil (a thick curtain) separated the first part from the Holiest of All, also known as the "holy of holies" told to us in Exodus 26:31-33.
       
      The GOLDEN ALTAR OF INCENSE was made of acacia wood covered with gold, 1½ feet square, and 3 feet high. It stood at the veil before the "holy of holies," and was used to burn incense told to us in Exodus 30:1-8.
       
      The ARK OF THE COVENANT stood INSIDE the Holiest of All, and was a chest made of acacia wood covered with gold, 3¾ feet long, 2¼ feet wide, and 2¼ feet high, with rings for polls along it's side by which it would be carried confirmed to us in Exodus 25:10-22.
       
      INSIDE THE ARK was:
      1. The GOLDEN POT that had the MANNA, in Exodus 16:33.
      2. Aaron's ROD that budded, in Numbers 17:6-11.
       
      3. The TABLETS of the covenant, in Exodus 25:16.
       
      WHY THOSE THREE THINGS?
       
      1. The MANNA REMINDED Israel of God's provision and their ungratefulness.
       
      2. AARON'S ROD REMINDED Israel of their rebellion against God's authority.
       
      3. The TABLETS OF THE COVENANT REMINDED Israel of their failure to keep the Ten Commandments and rest of the law.
       
      THE MERCY SEAT was the ornate "lid" for the ark of the covenant, made with the designs of cherubim upon it; the blood of sacrifice was sprinkled upon it for the forgiveness of Israel's sin on the Day of Atonement in Exodus 25:17-22.
       
      As God looked down into the ark, He saw the symbols of Israel's sin, rebellion and failure. But when the blood of sacrifice was applied to the mercy seat, His sight of the sin of Israel was COVERED by the blood of sacrifice.
       
      Verses 6-7 tells us Priestly service in the tabernacle under the Old Covenant.
       
      "Now when these things had been thus prepared, the priests always went into the first part of the tabernacle, performing the services. But into the second part the high priest went alone once a year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the people's sins committed in ignorance;"
       
      The priests always went into the FIRST PART of the tabernacle, performing the services: The priests, as appointed, went DAILY into the "holy place" to perform priestly functions such as tending the lampstand and replacing the showbread.
       
      But into the SECOND PART the high priest went ALONE once a year: The "holy of holies" was entered only once a year by the high priest alone, on the Day of Atonement.
       
      The high priest went alone once a year, not without blood: His entrance into the second part was NOT for fellowship, but ONLY for atonement, first for his own sin, then for the sins of his people.
       
      Access into the Holiest of All was thus severely restricted, and even when someone could enter, it was NOT for real fellowship with God.
       
      The ancient Jewish Rabbis wrote of how the high priest would not prolong his prayer in the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement, because it might make the people think he had been killed. When he came out, he threw a party for all his friends, because he had emerged safely from the presence of God.
       
      The people's sins committed in ignorance...
      Sins of ignorance were the specific aim of the Day of Atonement. It was assumed that KNOWN sin would be taken care of through the regular sin offerings and the daily sacrifices.
       
      In this respect, Jesus' work is far greater than the work done on the Day of Atonement. Jesus' work on the cross is sufficient to atone for BOTH the sins we do in ignorance and sins that we know.
       
      Verses 8-10 tells us The Holy Spirit gives understanding regarding the priestly service under the Old Covenant.
       
      "The Holy Spirit indicating this, that the way into the Holiest of All was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was still standing. It was symbolic for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience; concerned only with foods and drinks, various washings, and fleshly ordinances imposed until the time of reformation."
       
      The way into the Holiest of All was NOT YET made manifest while the FIRST tabernacle was still standing...
       
      The old had to pass away BEFORE God's new way could be revealed.
       
      It was symbolic for the present time...
       
      Symbolic is the ancient Greek word "parabole". The tabernacle itself and all that the Old Covenant represented were suggestive of deeper truths, parables of the New Covenant.
       
      Cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience...
      The priestly service performed now (current at the writer's time) does NOT make even the priests offering those sacrifices perfect and clean in regard to the conscience.
       
      If the cleansing is incomplete for the priest, how much more for the person the priest worked on behalf of!
       
      Fleshly ordinances imposed until the time of reformation...
      The weakness of the priestly service under the Old Covenant was its inability to address the need for INNER transformation in man; therefore it was only imposed until the time of reformation.
       
      Verse 11 tells us the features and the SUPERIOR sanctuary of the New Covenant.
       
      "But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation."
       
      The greater and more perfect tabernacle NOT made with hands...
       
      Jesus, as our High Priest, ministers in a superior sanctuary - the very throne room of God, a place greater than ANYTHING human hands could make.
       
      Verses 12-15 tells us the SUPERIOR SACRIFICE of the New Covenant.
       
      "Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance."
       
      The blood of goats and calves was sufficient for a TEMPORARY covering of sin; but only a PERFECT sacrifice could obtain eternal redemption.
       
      Jesus' sacrifice was superior.
      WHY?
      1. Jesus was perfect.
      2. Jesus offered it voluntary.
      3. Jesus was rational.
      4, His sacrifice was motivated by love.
       
      For if the blood of bulls and goats … sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ...
       
      If these IMPERFECT sacrifices were received as sufficient by Israel, how much more should they regard the ultimate sufficiency of the perfect sacrifice?
       
      The ashes of a heifer refer to the remains of a burnt offering that was preserved, and sprinkled in the laver of washing to provide water suitable for ceremonial cleansing in Numbers 19:1-10.
       
      This was a shadow, fulfilled and done away with when Jesus offered a perfect cleansing; there is NO VALUE to God nor above Jesus Christ in "holy water", "holy mass", nor "holy sacraments used by the Roman Catholic Church.
       
      Just as there is NO VALUE to God in Islamics "holy prayers", "holy prayer rugs", and "holy pilgrimages" to Mecca.
       
      Just as there is NO VALUE to God in Buddhism's "holy" transcendental meditations, "holy incenses offered". "holy gong, or "holy" spiritualisms.
       
      SADLY JEWS has rejected Jesus, but are constantly in a search for a "red heifer" that can be sacrificed, and its ashes used as part or a restoration of priestly functions for a rebuilt temple in Jerusalem.
       
      How much more shall the blood of Christ … cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
       
      The sacrifice of Jesus is sufficient to even restore our damaged conscience.
       
      Our conscience is a wonderful tool from God. But it is NOT perfect.
       
      WHY?
      1. Our conscience can be seared confirmed in 1 Timothy 4:2.
      2. Our conscience can be defiled in Titus 1:15.
      3. Our conscience can be evil in Hebrews 10:22.
       
      Cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God...
       
      WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
       
      Dead works probably has the thought of sin in general, in the sense of "works that bring death." But it must also speak to the vain continuation of Old Covenant sacrifice, which is certainly a dead work - and the very type of thing these discouraged Jewish Christians were tempted to go back to.
       
      GOING BACK TO THE LAW...TO THE OLD COVENANT...TO WORKS BASED SALVATION IS A BLASPHEMY TO GOD....BECAUSE IT IS A REJECTION OF HIS SON JESUS CHRIST AND WHAT HE DID FOR WICKED, LOST, MANKIND.
       
      He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death...
       
      Jesus' work as a Mediator is fundamentally accomplished at His death. His heavenly work of mediation looks back to that perfect sacrifice.
       
      For the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant...
       
      Jesus' payment on the cross ACCOMPLISHED redemption for those UNDER the first covenant.
      Every sacrifice for sin made IN FAITH under the Mosaic command was an IOU cashed in at the cross.
       
      Verses 16-22 tells us The NECESSITY of Jesus' death.
       
      "For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives. Therefore not even the first covenant was dedicated without blood. For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water, scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, "This is the blood of the covenant which God has commanded you." Then likewise he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry. And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission."
       
      For a testament is in force after men are dead...
       
      WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
       
      A testament (in the sense of a "last will and testament") only takes effect when the person making the testament dies. Therefore Jesus had to die for the testament - the covenant - to take effect.
       
      Remember that the word that has been used for covenant is actually the word testament. The idea is essentially the same as a covenant, except that it is dictated by ONE PARTY, not negotiated upon by two parties.
       
      Therefore not even the first covenant was dedicated without blood...
       
      Clearly, death was necessary to the Old Covenant.
       
      Virtually every part of the sacrificial system under the Law of Moses was touched by blood in some way or another.
       
      An important principle is stated...
       
      Without shedding of blood there is no remission [of sin].
       
      SADLY Modern people and modern man-created religiosities THINK that sin is remitted (forgiven) by:
      1. Time=God forgets.
      2. Our good works=man earned salvation.
      3. Our decent lives=living moral lives.
      4. By simply death=all people go to heaven.
       
      But there is NO forgiveness without the shedding of blood, and there is NO perfect forgiveness without a perfect sacrifice.
       
      The Islamists believe and teach the MORE infidel blood shed, the more beheadings, the more tortures, the more murders they accomplish...the GREATER their eternal rewards from Allah.
       
      Other man created religiosities believe the MORE YOU GIVE TO THEM, THE MORE YOU PAY FOR FORGIVENESS PRAYERS, THE MORE YOUR BABBLING REPETITIVE PRAYERS are repeated each day, the more sacraments you participate in, the more your genuflections over idols made with human hands...the GREATER their eternal reward and the LESS time spent in their man-created purgatory before ascending to Heaven.
       
      Verses 23-28 tells us the PERFECT sanctuary receives a PERFECT sacrifice.
       
      "Therefore it was necessary that the copies of the things in the heavens should be purified with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another; He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation."
       
      It was necessary that the copies of the things in the heavens should be purified with these...
       
      It was acceptable for the copies of the things in the heavens in the earthly sanctuary to be "purified" with imperfect sacrifices.
      But the heavenly things themselves could ONLY be purified with a perfect offering.
       
      For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands … but into heaven itself...
       
      Jesus' sacrifice was made on earth, but it is the basis for His continuing work as our mediator and High Priest in heaven.
       
      The writer to the Hebrews proclaims it: now to appear in the presence of God for us. It's not hard to believe that Jesus does appear in the presence of God. But to believe that He appears there for us is glorious!
       
      Not that He should offer Himself often...
       
      Jesus' ministry for us continues in heaven, but NOT in the sense of continuing to atone for our sin.
      Jesus' ministry continues for us in intercession and defending us AGAINST the accuser of God's people. The accuser of God's people is Satan, that constantly runs to Heaven to accuse those of us, Jew and Gentile alike who love and have chosen Jesus Christ as Savior, told to us in Revelation 12:10.
       
      But Jesus' ministry does NOT continue in the sense that He should offer Himself often. His sacrifice was ONCE FOR ALL, and perfectly satisfied God's holy justice.
       
      This passage and principle is a direct rebuke to the Roman Catholic practice and theology of the mass. In the mass, the Roman Catholic Church desires to REPEATEDLY KILL JESUS OVER AND OVER AGAIN...TO REPEAT - not remember, but repeat - the atoning sacrifice of Jesus innumerable times. This is absolutely indefensible Scripturally, and DENIES the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. Just as those teach that the Holy Spirit must constantly be brought back, must continually be required to re-cover us, re-fill us, or re-restore us!The Scriptures make it plain: not that He should offer Himself often.
       
      He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world...
       
      If the sacrifice of Jesus were NOT perfect, then it would have to be continual and constant - even since the foundation of the world.
      Imperfect sacrifices must be REPEATD continually but a perfect sacrifice can be made ONCE FOR ALL time, and genuinely put away sin (not just cover sin, as with sacrifice under the Old Covenant). The message is clear: He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.
       
      This principle of sacrifice explains WHY the suffering of hell MUST be eternal for those who REJECT the atoning work of Jesus. They are in hell to pay the penalty of their sin, but as imperfect beings they are unable to make a perfect payment. If the payment is not perfect, then it has to be continual and constant -indeed, for all eternity. A soul could be released from hell the moment its debt of sin was completely paid - which is another way of saying never.
       
      AND THE BIBLE TELLS US THOSE WHO DIE IN REJECTION OF JESUS CHRIST AND HIS GIFT OF GRACE, MERCY, AND SALVATION...AND ENTER THE WAITING PRISON OF HELL...DO NOT SIT AND HUMBLY AND QUIETLY CONTEMPLATE THEIR FAILINGS AND SINS IN HIS LIFE, PAY A PENANCE, PAY FOR THEIR SINS FOR A TIME, THEY DO NOT GET ANOTHER REBIRTH AND GO BACK TO THE WORLD IN THE FORM OF ANOTHER PERSON, A BUTTERFLY...AS BUDDHISTS, HINDUS AND OTHER FALSE RELIGIOSITIES TEACH AND PROCLAIM.
       
      THE REALITY AND PURE TRUTH OF JESUS CHRIST, HIS WORD, HIS WARNINGS, AND HIS PROMISES IN THE BIBLE THAT THEY HEARD AND REJECTED IN THEIR EARTHLY LIVES...IS DEVESTATING.
       
      THE GNASHING AND GRINDING OF TEETH IS BECAUSE THEY CURSE THEIR FALSE MAN-CREATED RELIGIONS LIES...AND WRONGLY THEY CURSE ALMIGHTY GOD AND JESUS CHRIST MORE...THEIR SIN DEBT, IS CONSTANT...THEY CONTINUALLY CURSE, BLASPHEME JESUS IN HELL, SO THEY NEVER PAY THEIR SIN DEBT...
       
      THE WAITING PRISON OF HELL...IS NOT A QUIET MONK'S CELL OF CONTEMPLATION, SCOURAGING, YOGA AND MEDITATION, AND REPENTANCE...THE WAITING PRISON OF HELL IS RULED BY SATAN AND HIS DEMONS AND THEY TORTURE AND HOWL WITH GLEE AND REMIND ALL OF HELL'S PRISONERS THAT JESUS DID NOT PUT THEM THERE....THEY CHOSE IT. AND THEY ARE TORTURED PHYSICALLY, EMOTIONALLY, AND MENTALLY WITHOUT CEASING FOR BELIEVING THEIR LIES AND REJECTING JESUS CHRIST WHOM THEY CURSE AS WELL.
       
      And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many...
       
      Just as certainly as we die once and then face judgment, so Jesus only had to die once (not repeatedly, not continually) to bear our sins.
       
      The writer of Hebrews simply brings up the obvious point, it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment. Just as that is obvious, so it is plain that Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. For the writer to the Hebrews, the truth that it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment is an indisputable principle.
       
      And though it was not really the point of the writer to the Hebrews to discuss reincarnation, he certainly and completely denies it here. We do not die and live and die and live and some number of lives down the road face an eternal reckoning. This life is it, and then we face judgment. This means that there are NO SECOND chances beyond the grave. Now is the time to choose for Jesus Christ, because when we die, it is simply after this the judgment.
       
      It is important to note that the principle of it is appointed for men to die once is not an absolute principle.
       
      There are some UNIQUE, remarkable exceptions.
      1. Enoch (Genesis 5:24) never died once.
      2. Elijah (2 Kings 2:11) never died once.
       
      Several people in the Bible WERE RAISED from the dead (1 Kings 17:22, 2 Kings 13:20-21, Matthew 9:25, John 11:43-44, Acts 20:9-11), and therefore died TWICE.
      Those taken in the rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:17) will NEVER die once.
      Yet these remarkable, UNIQUE exceptions do NOT deny the principle of it is appointed for men to die once; they are exceptions that PROVE the rule.
       
      He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation...
      The focus of Jesus' FIRST COMING was to deal with the sin problem through His atoning sacrifice.
       
      But now, having dealt with the sin problem perfectly, He comes AGAIN apart from sin - for the salvation (in the sense of rescue=the rapture of His people when Jesus appears in the clouds to gather us to him, before The Great Tribulation and then Jesus 2nd Coming, when Jesus comes back with The Church, and His Warrior Angels and Jesus steps down onto earth on Mount Zion to save the Remant from Satan and the AntiChrist.
       
      To those who eagerly wait for Him...
       
      It is assumed that ALL believers, meaning those who have repented of their sins, called upon Jesus name, invited Jesus into their hearts and lives and openly and publicly proclaim Jesus Christ alone to be their Lord, Savior, Master, and Friend eagerly wait for Him.
       
      It is a sad case that this assumption does NOT always play out as true! There are too many who call themselves saved by Jesus but FEAR and DO NOT want nor look for His return.

    • July 6, 2016 4:58 PM EDT
    • HEBREWS 10
       
      OPENS WITH HOLDING FAST WITH A PERFECT SACRIFICE...THE ONCE FOR ALL SACRIFICE OF JESUS.
       
      Verses 1-4 tells us Sacrifice under the Old Covenant could NOT truly take away sin.
       
      "For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins."
       
      Having a shadow of the good things to come...
       
      WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
       
      The idea that the Old Covenant (the law) is a mere shadow of the substance that is the New Covenant is also communicated in Colossians 2:17 and Hebrews 8:5.
       
      Shadow means that the law communicated the OUTLINE and the figure of the fulfillment in Jesus, but was NOT the very image of the things.
       
      Shadow is NOT a bad thing. Sometimes a shadow can tell you a lot. But the shadow is NOT the substance. The Old Covenant and its law were NOT themselves bad or evil, they are only INCOMPLETE AND INSUFFICIENT to bring total cleansing from sin, and to save. The shadow … can NEVER … make those who approach perfect.
       
      Would they not have ceased to be offered?
       
      The writer to the Hebrews repeats a familiar argument: the repetition of sacrifice shows its INHERENT weakness. If animal sacrifice had "fixed" the sin problem, then they could have ceased to be offered.
       
      For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins EVERY year...
       
      Every repeated sacrifice was a reminder of sins. It brought the consciousness of sins to the people again and again. But the work of Jesus on the cross TAKES AWAY sin!
       
      For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins...
       
      Animal sacrifice under the Old Covenant could cover sin.
       
      The Hebrew word for atonement is "kophar", which literally means "to cover." But animal sacrifice could NEVER take away sins. Only Jesus, the Perfect Sacrifice of the New Covenant, takes sins away.
       
      Verses 5-10 tells us a PROPHETIC foundation for Jesus' PERFECT sacrifice under the New Covenant.
       
      "Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: "Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You have prepared for Me. In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure. Then I said, 'Behold, I have come; in the volume of the book it is written of Me; to do Your will, O God.'" Previously saying, "Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings, and offerings for sin You did not desire, nor had pleasure in them" (which are offered according to the law), then He said, "Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God." He takes away the first that He may establish the second. By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all."
       
      He said: This quotation is taken from the Septuagint version of Psalm 40:6-8 (the Septuagint is the Greek translation of the Old Testament that was the most commonly used Bible in the first century). It shows that prophetically Jesus declared the insufficient character of Old Covenant sacrifice and declared His willingness to offer a perfect sacrifice under the New Covenant.
       
      Sacrifice and offering You did not desire...
       
      More animal sacrifices, made under the law, would NOT please God.
       
      But a body You have prepared for Me...
       
      Instead, what pleased God could only come through Jesus, the incarnate Son of God.
       
      REMEMBER LUKE 22:39-44, which says, "Behold, I have come … to do Your will, O God: Jesus' submission to God's the Father's will had its ultimate fulfillment in His obedience to the cross. This desire to do God's will was shown in the Garden of Gethsemane.
       
      Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God...
       
      The sacrifice of Jesus was determined BEFORE the foundation of the world confirmed to us in 1 Peter 1:20; Revelation 13:8.
       
      But it was still an act of His will to submit to the cross at the appointed time and by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ.
       
      Our sanctification - our being set apart to God - is founded on the will of Jesus, NOT our own will. It is founded on the offering of Jesus, NOT on our own offering or sacrifices for God.
       
      Once for all...
       
      ONCE FOR ALL...These are the IMPORTANT words of this passage, and the writer to the Hebrews repeats the theme over and over again: once for all.
       
      ONCE FOR ALL...JUDAISM.
      ONCE FOR ALL...ISLAMISTS.
      ONCE FOR ALL...MUSLIMS.
      ONCE FOR ALL...ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH.
      ONCE FOR ALL...BUDDHISTS.
      ONCE FOR ALL...SCIENTOLOGISTS.
      ONCE FOR ALL...MORMONS.
      ONCE FOR ALL...BAPTISTS, METHODISTS, LUTHERANS.
      ONCE FOR ALL...LDS.
      ONCE FOR ALL...JEHOVAH WITNESS.
      ONCE FOR ALL...SATANISTS.
      ONCE FOR ALL..PAGAN EARTH WORSHIPPERS.
      ONCE FOR ALL...ATHEISTS...AGNOSTICS.
       
      THERE IS NO HEAVEN, THERE IS NO SALVATION, THERE IS NO HOPE...THERE IS NO WAY....THERE IS WORKS....THERE IS NO OTHER PATH...THERE ARE NO OTHER GODS. THERE ARE NO OTHER IDOL WORSHIPPERS...THERE IS NOT ONE HOPE IN THIS LIFE AND THE ONE TO COME...APART FROM JESUS CHRIST AND JESUS CHRIST AND HIS WORD ALONE.
       
      Verses 11-18 tells us The FINISHED work of Jesus Christ.
       
      "And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; for after He had said before, "This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them," then He adds, "Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more." Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin."
       
      EVERY priest stands ministering daily...
       
      The priests had to stand continually in their work. Their work continued daily and sacrifices had to be repeatedly offered. The priests could never sit down!
       
      But Jesus sat down at the right hand of God, having finished His work of sacrificing for sin.
       
      The seated posture of Jesus is important.
       
      WHY?
       
      It shows that His work is FINISHED. He does NOT need to stand ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices as priests under the Old Covenant had to. Jesus still ministers in heaven - He has a ministry of intercession for His people. But that ministry flows from His COMPLETED work, so He can adopt a posture of rest - He sat down at the right hand of God.
       
      He has perfected FOREVER those who are being sanctified...
       
      This makes it plain that the work of Jesus is effective ONLY for those who are being sanctified. The work of Jesus is capable of saving EVERY human being, but it is ONLY effective in saving those who are being sanctified (set apart to God).
       
      The Holy Spirit also witnesses to us … says the LORD...
       
      In this passage, the writer to the Hebrews clearly identifies the Holy Spirit is equated as the LORD, Yahweh of the Old Testament. When the Holy Spirit speaks, the LORD speaks.
       
      This is THE covenant...
       
      In the passage quoted from Jeremiah, the writer to the Hebrews makes note of the promises of the NEW covenant, instituted by the Messiah, Jesus Christ alone.
       
      I will make with them after those days...
      The new covenant is NEW. It comes AFTER those days.
       
      I will put My laws into their hearts...
      The new covenant has to do with an INNER transformation. God changes the heart of man, and writes His law into their hearts.
       
      Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember NO more...
       
      The NEW covenant offers COMPLETE forgiveness. The forgiveness is so complete that God can say that does NOT even remember our sins in light of the NEW covenant in and through and by His precious New Covenant, Jesus Christ!
       
      The Christian MUST endeavor to do with their sin exactly what God has done: FORGET about it. As well, this reminds us that the believer is in NO WAY way on probation. Before God, his past sin has NO bearing on God's present dealing.
       
      Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin...
      Where sins are really forgiven and forgotten (remission of these), there NO longer must be an offering for sin.
       
      EVERY RELIGION...EVERY RELIGIOSITY THAT PROCLAIMS JESUS CHRIST, PROCLAIMS THEY ARE CHRISTIANS, BUT STILL DEMANDS PENANCE, CONFESSION, INTERCESSION BY A PRIEST, IMAM, THE POPE, BUDDHA, DALI LAMA, ELDERS, PASTORS, PAYMENT FOR PRAYERS, WORKS EARNED FORGIVENESS, RITUALS AND RULES, AND FEASTS AND CEREMONIES ON A CONTINUED AND DAILY ARE CONSIDERED BLASPHEMIES TO ALMIGHTY GOD AND A REJECTION OF JESUS CHRIST HIS SON WHO PAID IT ALL.
       
      Verses 19-22 tells us KNOWING Jesus has opened the way, let us draw near to God.
       
      "Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water."
       
      Having boldness...
       
      Access has been given to us for a bold approach to God. The point is simple: we must take advantage of this access, and take it with boldness. On the Day of Atonement, the high priest entered the holiest place of all with fear and trembling, but we can enter the Holiest with boldness.
       
      We can have boldness because we enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus. If we entered as the Old Testament high priest did, with the blood of animals, we would NOT have boldness. But with the blood of Jesus providing a new and living way which He consecrated with us, we really can come into the presence of God with boldness.
       
      Through the veil...
       
      The veil separated the Holiest from the holy place. To enter into the Holiest, you had to pass through the veil. But this veil separating man from God's intimate presence is forever opened wide, being torn into two from top to bottom, confirmed in Matthew 27:51.
       
      That is, His flesh...
       
      The writer to the Hebrews makes an analogy between the veil that stood between God and man and the body of Jesus. Jesus' body was "torn," and so was the veil, each indicating that now, we can come to God boldly.
       
      Having a High Priest over the house of God...
       
      We have a PERFECT ETERNAL High Priest who presides over the heavenly courts to make certain the believer has total access.
       
      Let us draw near...
       
      With the perfect cleansing available to us, cleansing both the inner man (hearts sprinkled) and the outer man (bodies washed) we can draw near to God in a way never available to someone under the Old Covenant. The work of Jesus makes us able to draw near in a full assurance of faith.
       
      So, several issues have been settled.
       
      1. The problem of access to God has been settled.
       
      2. The problem of a perfect High Priest has been settled.
       
      3. The problem of moral and spiritual pollution has been settled.
       
      So now, let us draw near!
       
      The encouragement to draw near would NOT be given unless it was NECESSARY.
      These discouraged Christians had a problem in drawing near. This was their real problem: they lost their intimate relationship with Jesus, and nothing else is going right.
       
      They may have thought that they had many, many problems - persecution, difficult relationships, hard times with culture or economy. But the REAL problem was their relationship with God was NOT on track. They did NOT draw near to God on the basis of what Jesus had done.
       
      THIS REMINDS US...
       
      Are you in a tough time?
      Many people have gone through WORSE times and have had a better attitude, and more joy, than you do now. What is the difference? They knew how to draw NEAR!
       
      Just as importantly, they are REMINDED that they will NEVER regain that intimacy coming through the institutions of the Old Covenant.
       
      IN THE EYES OF ALMIGHTY GOD...THE OLD COVENANT IS GONE...FADED...PASSED AWAY.
       
      YOU WANT TO DRAW NEAR TO GOD, JESUS CHRIST IS THE ONLY WAY TO DO SO.
       
      Verse 23 tells us Let us hold FAST to the truth.
       
      "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful."
       
      Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering...
       
      Discouragement made them WAVER from the truth. A renewed confidence in the greatness of Jesus and in the New Covenant will make them STAND STRONG in the faith.
       
      For He who promised is faithful...
       
      The reason we can stand strong is because JESUS who promised is faithful. It is far better to trust in JESUS faithfulness instead of ours!
       
      Verses 24-25 tells us let us PURSUE the community of God's people.
       
      "And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching."
       
      Let us consider one another...
       
      Discouragement has made them AVOID community of believers in Jesus Christ at the very time they needed it MOST. Jesus meets us in one another to stir up love and good works.
       
      Forsaking the assembling of ourselves together...
       
      Forsaking fellowship is a sure way to give place to discouragement. This discouragement festers where God's people are NOT exhorting one another.
       
      Many people go to church if they feel they "need it" at the time. But our motivation for fellowship must be to OBEY God and to GIVE to others. We can go to church looking to encourage someone who needs to hang in there against a tide of discouragement.
       
      So much the more as you see the Day approaching...
       
      As the Day of Jesus' return draws nearer, we should be MORE committed to the fellowship of God's people, the assembling of ourselves together.
       
      Verses 26-31 tells us a WARNING in the danger of a WILLFUL rejection of Jesus' perfect sacrifice for us.
       
      "For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. Anyone who has rejected Moses' law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord. And again, "The LORD will judge His people." It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."
       
      For if we sin willfully...
       
      To sin willfully is defined in Hebrews 10:29. It speaks of someone who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace. It is a knowing, deliberate rejection of Jesus' great work for us on the cross AND PREFERRING YOUR MAN CREATED RELIGIOSITY WITH ALL ITS RULES, RITUALS, FEASTS, SACRIFICES INSTEAD.
       
      Sin willfully...
       
      In a sense, every sin is a "willful sin." But here, the writer to the Hebrews speaks of something much MORE SEVERE and relevant to these discouraged Jewish Christians who contemplated a retreat from a distinctive Christianity and a return to Judaism with its sacrificial system.
       
      This is turning your back on Jesus.
       
      There no longer remains a sacrifice for sins...
       
      If Jesus' sacrifice for sin is rejected, there remains no other sacrifice that can cleanse.
       
      How much worse punishment...
       
      If someone does reject Jesus' sacrifice, fearful judgment is certain, even more certain than it was under the Old Covenant.
       
      THIS IS A PASSAGE ALL RELIGIOSITIES SHOULD READ, CONSIDER, AND UNDERSTAND. THE WORLD MAY APPLAUD A MAN, A RELIGIOSITY, AN ALTERNATIVE TO JESUS CHRIST AND HIS WORD.
       
      THE WORLD AND YOUR FADIC RELIGIOSITY MAY CALL YOU HOLY, SAVED, A WONDERFUL CHRISTIAN...BUT YOU ARE NOT ANY OF THESE THINGS.
       
      When we sin willfully by rejecting Jesus' work on the cross as sufficient, we have:
       
      1. Trampled the Son of God underfoot: We have disgraced Him by rejecting His greatest work. We devalue Him by devaluing what He did.
       
      2. Counted the blood of the covenant … a common thing: We have considered that Jesus' blood was of no greater importance than the countless animals that had been sacrificed under the Old Covenant.
       
      3. Insulted the Spirit of grace: We offend the Holy Spirit, whose purpose it is to present Jesus and His work to us (John 16:8-15) when we reject Jesus and His finished work on our behalf. When we reject God's free gift of grace and seek to be justified by law.
       
      It is a FEARFUL thing to fall into the hands of the living God: It is fearful indeed to one-day face the God you have rejected and offended so greatly!
       
      Verses 32-34 tells us Take heart in your discouragement, and remember how you have stood for God in tough times before.
       
      "But recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings: partly while you were made a spectacle both by reproaches and tribulations, and partly while you became companions of those who were so treated; for you had compassion on me in my chains, and joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods, knowing that you have a better and an enduring possession for yourselves in heaven."
       
      But recall the former days...
       
      These Christians had suffered for Jesus, being rejected from their Jewish community, and perhaps being counted as dead. This came after they trusted in Jesus (after you were illuminated).
       
      The persecution came in many different ways, but it was a great struggle with sufferings.
       
      1. They were made a spectacle both by reproaches and tribulations.
      2. They were companions of those who were so treated- including the writer to the Hebrews himself (you had compassion on me in chains).
      3. They also had faced economic persecution (the plundering of your goods).
       
      But the point is that they had faced these things, and had endured them. They could take a look at their past endurance, and be encouraged to keep standing strong in the future.
       
      Knowing that you have a better and an enduring possession for yourselves in heaven...
       
      They made it through the time of persecution by keeping a heavenly perspective. The writer to the Hebrews' point is clear: you can make it through this present time of discouragement as well.
       
      Verses 35-39 tells us Draw on your past experience to gain strength to endure for the future.
       
      "Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: "For yet a little while, and He who is coming will come and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith; but if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him." But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul."
       
      Therefore do NOT cast away your confidence...
       
      These discouraged Christians were in danger of casting away their confidence in Jesus, and relapsing into an Old Covenant relationship with God.
       
      You have need of endurance...
       
      They, and we, have need of endurance to receive the promise of God after we have done the will of God. The toughest and most discouraging trials are when we are called to obey God's will when the fulfillment of His promise seems so far away. This is why we need endurance. Faithfulness during the time when the promise seems unfulfilled is the measure of your obedience and spiritual maturity.
       
      REMEMBER JAMES 1:2-4, This endurance is built through trials, the testing of our faith.
       
      Now the just shall live by faith...
       
      We need to follow in the footsteps of the just who will live by faith, and endure to see the promise fulfilled.
       
      Every word in Habakkuk 2:4 is important, and the Lord quotes it THREE times in the New Testament just to bring out the fullness of the meaning!
       
      In Romans 1:17, when Paul quotes this same passage from Habakkuk 2:4, the emphasis is on faith: "The just shall live by faith."
       
      In Galatians 3:11, when Paul quotes this passage from Habakkuk 2:4, the emphasis is on just: "The just shall live by faith."
       
      Here in Hebrews 10:38, when the writer to the Hebrews quotes this same passage from Habakkuk 2:4, the emphasis is on live: "The just shall live by faith."
       
      But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul...
       
      This is a confident conclusion. We will be those who endure on and gain the promise of God. We will not draw back into old traditions or into an Old Covenant relationship with God - or any other replacement for Jesus!

    • July 6, 2016 4:56 PM EDT
    • HEBREWS 11
       
      OPENS WITH EXAMPLES OF FAITH TO HELP THE DISCOURAGED
       
      Verse 1 gives us a definition of faith.
       
      "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."
       
      Now faith is the substance...
       
      Just as our physical eyesight is the sense that gives us evidence of the material world, faith is the "sense" that gives us evidence of the invisible, spiritual world.
       
      Faith has its reasons. We are NOT talking about a "blind leap" of faith. But the reasons can NOT be measured in a laboratory, they have to be understood spiritually.
       
      Of things hoped for … of things not seen...
       
      If you have the substance before you, if you can see it, what use is there for faith? Faith is needed for what we can NOT see and can NOT touch.
       
      Faith does NOT contradict reason, though it may go beyond reason. I may objectively prove the Bible is the most unique book ever published, and has impacted society more than any other book. But only faith can prove that the Bible is the Word of God. Therefore, this is a belief beyond reason, but not in contradiction to reason.
       
      Faith is the substance … the evidence...
       
      Faith is NOT a bare belief or intellectual understanding. It is a willingness to trust in, to rely on, and to cling to.
       
      Verse 2 tells us Faith enabled people in the past to overcome.
       
      "For by it the elders obtained a good testimony."
       
      For by it the elders...
       
      The great examples of godliness all had different circumstances and personalities, but they all had ONE thing in common - faith.
       
      Obtained a good testimony...
       
      These Jewish Christians had been discouraged, and were thinking of giving up on Jesus and a distinctive Christianity.
       
      They NEEDED a good testimony, and so they needed these examples of faith to break them out of discouragement.
       
      Verse 3 tells us Faith gives UNDERSTANDING to the invisible world.
       
      "By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible."
       
      By faith we understand that the worlds were framed BY the word...
       
      How were the worlds … framed by the word of God?
       
      Genesis 1:3 tells us...It happened when God simply commanded "Let there be light".
       
      Psalms 33:6 & 9 explains: "By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth … For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast."
       
      By faith we understand...
       
      We did NOT see this act of creation; we only KNOW of it by faith.
      We also know this by reason, because we know the world was created, and created by an intelligent Designer.
      Again, this is faith going beyond, but NOT in contradiction to reason.
       
      Even in times when it seems when God expects a faith that contradicts reason, closer examination reveals He does not.
       
      For example, it might seem contrary to reason for God to expect Abraham to believe that Sarah's dead womb could bring forth a child. But it is not unreasonable to believe that the God who created life and the womb could do this, and would do it according to His promise.
       
      By faith we understand...
       
      This text does NOT say that God created the world with faith. Since God sees and knows all things, "faith" in a human sense is superfluous to Him. If faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen, what does God not see? What possibly could a sovereign Being "hope" for?
       
      So that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible...
       
      Most scientists at the time Hebrews was written WRONGLY believed the universe was created out of existing matter, NOT out of nothing, and NOT out of things which are visible. But the Bible corrects this misunderstanding.
       
      Faith at the beginning of man's history.
       
      Verse 4 tells us ABEL'S faith.
       
      "By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks."
       
      By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice...
       
      The difference between the sacrifice of Cain and the sacrifice of Abel (Genesis 4:3-5) was NOT because one was animal, the other was vegetable. The difference was that Abel's sacrifice was made BY FAITH.
       
      God testifying of his gifts...
       
      How did God testify of Abel's gifts?
       
      The Bible tells us God showed His pleasure with Abel's sacrifice by consuming it with fire from heaven, as happened at the dedication of tabernacle (Leviticus 9:24), the temple (2 Chronicles 7:1) and upon offerings made by David (1 Chronicles 21:26) and Elijah (1 Kings 18:38).
       
      Through it he being dead still speaks...
       
      Right off with his example of Abel, the writer reminds us that faith is NOT necessarily rewarded on earth. But God Himself testifies to the righteousness of the faithful. Abel's blood still speaks to us, reminding us of the PRICELESS VALUE of eternity!
       
      Verses 5-6 tells us of ENOCH'S faith.
       
      "By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, "and was not found, because God had taken him"; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him."
       
      By faith Enoch...
       
      Enoch is one of the mystery men of the Old Testament being mentioned only in Genesis 5:21-24 as the man who walked with God and he was not, for God took him.
       
      Many Jewish and Christian traditions make Enoch the recipient of some spectacular and esoteric revelations. Jude recognizes him as a prophet (Jude 14-15). But the value of other prophecies attributed to him is uncertain at the very best.
       
      By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death...
       
      The writer to the Hebrews assumes that only a man of faith could enjoy close communion with God. Obviously, anyone who had this kind of fellowship with God must have pleased God, and in pleasing God, Enoch fulfilled the purpose for which man was created told to us in Revelation 4:11.
       
      But without faith it is impossible to please Him...
       
      This is the basic faith required of ANY who will seek God. One must believe that He is, and one must believe He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. We must believe that God is there, and that He will reveal Himself to the seeking heart.
       
      The writer to the Hebrews does NOT say that it is difficult to please God without faith. He says that it is IMPOSSIBLE.
       
      NEWELL says, "These two elements seem most simple, but, alas, how many professing Christians act as if God were not living; and how many others, though seeking after Him, are not expecting from Him as Rewarder!"
       
      Verse 7 tells us of NOAH'S faith.
       
      "By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith."
       
      Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen...
       
      Noah was warned of something that had never happened before. His faith was shown in not merely agreeing that the flood would come, but in doing what God told him to do regarding the flood - he was moved with godly fear.
       
      Prepared an ark...
       
      Real faith will always DO something. The book of James repeats this theme over and over again.
       
      He condemned the world...
       
      We should NOT think that Noah was a man who preached sermons of condemnation to the world. Instead, the mere conduct of the godly, without any preaching at all, can feel like condemnation to the world.
       
      Verse 8 tells us ABRAHAM'S obedience by faith.
       
      "By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going."
       
      By faith, Abraham obeyed...
       
      Abraham did step out in faith, going to a new place God had promised him; but his faith was less than perfect. This is seen by comparing Genesis 12:1-5 with Acts 7:2-4, where it is evident that Abraham first went half way to the place God called him to go, and only eventually obeyed completely. Yet now, thousands of years later, God does NOT "remember" the delayed obedience, ONLY the faith.
       
      Verses 9-10 tells us Abraham's sojourning life of faith.
       
      "By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God."
       
      By faith, he dwelt in the land of promise...
       
      Abraham lived as a "sojourner" in the land God had promised, never owning any of it except the plots that he and Sarah were buried on. Dwelt is the ancient Greek word paroikos, describing a "resident alien" - one who lives somewhere, but does NOT have permanent status there.
       
      A resident alien or a sojourner is evident. The way they talk, the way they dress, their mannerisms, their entertainment, their citizenship, and their friends, ALL speak of their native home. If someone is the same in all these areas as the "natives," they are NO longer sojourners - they are permanent residents. Christians should NOT get "green cards" for planet earth!
       
      Dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob...
       
      Because they had NO permanent home, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob lived in tents instead of houses. They looked forward to a BETTER city - the city which has foundations, who builder and maker is God.
       
      Verses 11-12 tells us SARAH'S faith and its results.
       
      "By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitude; innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore."
       
      By faith Sarah...
       
      Sarah's faith was NOT perfect. She first laughed in unbelief (Genesis 18:9-15) and then she learned to laugh in faith (Genesis 21:6).
       
      Because she judged Him faithful who had promised...
       
      Faith boils down to judging that God is faithful to and able to keep His promises. It was this faith that enabled Sarah to receive strength to conceive seed. God gave the strength, but Sarah had to RECEIVE it by faith.
       
      Were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitude...
       
      Because of the faith of Sarah and Abraham, thousands - millions -of descendants were born. Their faith had an impact on more lives than they ever dreamed of.
       
      Verses 13-16 tells us what the faith of Abraham and Sarah TEACHES us.
       
      "These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them."
       
      These all died in faith, not having received the promises...
       
      The promise of the Messiah was made to Abraham and Sarah, and they BELIEVED the promise. Yet they died having never received it, only seeing it in faith.
       
      They saw the promises afar off, willing to look at and consider the promise of God, even though it seemed so far away.
       
      They were assured of them...
       
      They carefully considered the promise, and assured themselves that the promise had to be valid because it was God making the promise.
       
      They embraced them...
       
      They took the promise and embrace it in faith. How many times in a day do you think Abraham and Sarah thought of the son God promised had them? Many, many times - they embraced the promise.
       
      They confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims...
       
      Abraham and Sarah ALWAYS took the promise with the understanding that this world was NOT their home; that God had a better and more enduring home for them in heaven.
       
      If these examples of faith endured through difficulty and discouragement without having received the promises, how much more should we who HAVE received those promises?
       
      They seek a homeland … they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country.
       
      Walking in faith is EASIER when we remember that this world is NOT our home. It is easier when we remember that on this side of eternity, NOT everything is settled and every wrong is NOT righted. That is why they seek a homeland and a better … heavenly country.
       
      Faith is very difficult when we live as "practical atheists."
       
      WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?
       
      This describes someone who may have a theoretical belief in God, but the belief does NOT matter in what they do from day to day. When we remember there is a spiritual reality - a heavenly home that is our real home - faith is much easier.
       
      SADLY....TODAY....The great theme of our time is NATURALISM, the belief that only what can be found and measured in nature is "real."
       
      Scientists and educators who believe in naturalism may be content to let us believe in God, just as long as we agree that God is a fairy tale - someone not real.
       
      But when we believe in the reality of God and of heaven and of His word, it is completely unacceptable to those who live by naturalism.
       
      H.L. Mencken said faith is the "Illogical belief in the occurrence of the impossible." This would only be true if there is NO God, or if He does NOT matter.
       
      Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God...
       
      But for those COURAGEOUS enough to BELIEVE in God, and to believe in Him as REAL, and heaven and eternal life as REAL, God is NOT ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.
       
      We may speak of the fact that we can NOT be ashamed of God.
       
      Verses 17-19 tells us Abraham's faith was great enough to know God was able to raise the dead, and that God was able to keep His promises no matter what.
       
      "By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, "In Isaac your seed shall be called," concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense."
       
      By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac...
       
      The verb tense for offered up indicates that as far as Abraham was concerned, the sacrifice was complete. In his will and in his purpose, he really did sacrifice his son.
       
      Offered up his only begotten son...
       
      Though Abraham had another son (Ishmael, the son of his fleshly attempt to fulfill God's promise with Hagar), God did NOT recognize the other son (Genesis 22:1-14) - so Isaac could be called his only begotten son.
       
      Accounting that God was able...
       
      Accounting means in the ancient Greek just what it sounds like in English. It is a term from arithmetic expressing "a decisive and carefully reasoned act." This means that Abraham calculated God's promise worthy of confidence.
       
      From the dead, from which he also received him...
       
      As far as Abraham was concerned, Isaac was as good as dead, and it was from the dead that he received him back, in a manner that prefigured the resurrection of Jesus.
       
      When Abraham was confronted with a promise and a command from God which seemed to contradict each other, he did what we all should do...
       
      He obeyed the command and let God take care of the promise - which God was more than able to do!
       
      Verse 20 tells us ISAAC'S faith.
       
      "By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come."
       
      By faith Isaac blessed Jacob...
       
      Isaac was really in the flesh, not in faith, when he first intended to bless Jacob and Esau. He wanted to bless Esau with the birthright for carnal reasons (he liked him as a more "manly" man, and he liked the wild game he brought home), instead of blessing Jacob, whom GOD HAD CHOSEN.
       
      Yet Isaac came to the place of faith when he discovered that he had actually blessed Jacob instead of Esau, Genesis 27:33 says Isaac trembled exceedingly.
       
      When Isaac trembled exceedingly, what was he troubled about?
       
      He was troubled because he KNEW that he had tried to box God in, to defeat God's plan, and that God had beaten him.
       
      He realized that he would ALWAYS be defeated when he tried to resist God's will, even when he did NOT like it. And he came to learn that despite his arrogance against God's will, God's will was glorious.
       
      So, where is the faith in Isaac's blessing?
       
      After Isaac's attempt to thwart the will of God had been destroyed, when he said of Jacob, and indeed he shall be blessed (Genesis 27:33).
       
      He knew that God had defeated his puny attempt to box God in, and he responded in the faith that says, "O.K. God, You win. Let Jacob be blessed with the birthright, and let Esau be blessed after him in his own way."
       
      Verse 21 tells us JACOB'S faith.
       
      "By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff."
       
      By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph: Jacob led a pretty carnal life. Yet, his faith could also look beyond death- and he blessed each of his sons.
       
      Verse 22 tells us JOSEPH'S faith.
       
      "By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel, and gave instructions concerning his bones."
       
      By faith Joseph...
       
      Joseph made mention of the departure of the children of Israel in Genesis 50:24, when he said: "God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land to the land of which He swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob." He knew God's promise was true!
       
      Gave instructions concerning his bones...
       
      When Joseph died, he was NEVER buried. His coffin laid above ground for the 400 or so years until it was taken back to Canaan. It was a silent witness all those years that Israel was going back to the Promised Land, just as God had said.
       
      All during that time, when a child of Israel saw Joseph's coffin and asked what it was there for, and why it was not buried, they could be answered, "Because the great man Joseph did not want to be buried in Egypt, but in the Promised Land God will one day lead us to."
       
      Verse 23 tells us he faith of MOSES' PARENTS.
       
      "By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king's command."
       
      By faith Moses … was hidden three months by his parents...
       
      Moses' parents showed faith when they perceived that he was specially favored by God, they took measures of faith to save his life despite danger.
       
      Verses 24-26 tells us The faith of MOSES in Pharaoh's court.
       
      "By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward."
       
      Refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter...
       
      Moses showed faith when he let God chart his destiny instead of letting Pharaoh do it.
       
      Choosing rather to suffer affliction...
       
      This choice HAD consequences. Moses KNEW that to go God's way meant to suffer affliction rather than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin. Sin does have its pleasures; but Moses properly saw them as passing, even if they should last our entire earthly lives!
       
      The reproach of Christ...
       
      Moses probably did NOT know it, at the time but the persecution he suffered for his choice of servanthood to God and His people put him in the company of Jesus - who suffered to set men free.
       
      Verse 27 tells us The faith of Moses when he left Egypt.
       
      "By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible."
       
      By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king...
       
      Moses' natural eyes could see the danger from Pharaoh, and understood the danger in remaining anywhere near Egypt. Yet his eye of faith could see Him who is invisible, and he understood that God was a GREATER fact in his situation than an angry Pharaoh was.
       
      Verse 28 tells us Moses showed faith when he led Israel in the Passover, in obedience to God's command.
       
      "By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, lest he who destroyed the firstborn should touch them."
       
      By faith he kept the Passover...
       
      It took faith to believe that the blood of a lamb on the door post would save a household from the terror of the angel of death. But Moses had that faith, and led the nation in observance of the Passover.
       
      Verse 29 tells us The faith of the NATION OF ISRAEL when crossing the Red Sea.
       
      "By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land, whereas the Egyptians, attempting to do so, were drowned."
       
      By faith they passed through the Red Sea...
       
      The difference between the Israelites crossing the Red Sea and the Egyptians who followed them was NOT courage, but FAITH.
       
      The Egyptians had as much (or more) courage than the Israelites, but NOT the same faith- and they each had different fates. The Israelites passed through, and the Egyptians were drowned.
       
      Verse 30 tells us The faith of the nation of Israel when circling around Jericho as God had commanded.
       
      "By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days."
       
      By faith the walls of Jericho fell down...
       
      At Jericho, the people of Israel had a daring faith. There was no turning back, having already crossed the river Jordan at flood stage, which cut off any line of retreat.
       
      At Jericho, the people of Israel had an obedient faith. They did NOT really understand what God was doing, yet they OBEYED none the less.
       
      After they were encircled for seven days...
       
      At Jericho, the people of Israel had a PATIENT faith. The walls did not fall down for the first six days, yet they kept marching as God commanded.
       
      At Jericho, the people of Israel had an anticipating faith. They KNEW God would act on the seventh day when they shouted.
       
      Verse 31 tells us the faith of RAHAB.
       
      "By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace."
       
      By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish...
       
      Rahab (Joshua 2) might seem an unusual example of faith, but her trust in God and willingness to identify with His people, no matter what the cost, is worthy of praise.
       
      When she had received the spies with peace...
       
      When the Hebrew spies came to Rahab, she declared He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath (Joshua 2:11). This was proof of her faith. It was NOT strong faith, it was NOT perfect faith, but her faith was commendable nonetheless.
       
      Verse 32 tells us OTHER HEROES of faith.
       
      "And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets:"
       
      GIDEON was a man who boldly destroyed idols, and was mightily used of God to defeat a much larger army of Midianites (Judges 6-7). Yet he was also a man who doubted God's word to him at first, and repeatedly asked for confirmation.
       
      BARAK led the people of Israel in a dramatic victory over the Canaanites (Judges 4). Yet he hesitated and went forward only when Deborah encouraged him.
       
      SAMSON was used mightily of the Lord to defeat the Philistines. Yet he NEVER lived up to his potential, and had a tragic ending to his life after being enticed by Delilah (Judges 13-16).
       
      JEPHTHAH was used of God to defeat the Ammonites. Yet Jephthah made a foolish vow and stubbornly kept it (Judges 11).
       
      DAVID was a remarkable man of faith. Yet he also failed with Bathsheba and with his own children.
       
      Each one of these were MEN OF FAITH, yet had notable areas of failure in their life. Still, Hebrews 11 commends their faith, and lists them in the "Hall of Faith." This shows that WEAK FAITH is better than unbelief, and you do NOT have to be perfect to make it into God's "Hall of Faith."
       
      Verses 33-35a tells us By faith, some were victorious over circumstances.
       
      "Who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again."
       
      Some of those who subdued kingdoms...
       
      David, Joshua, King Asa, Jehoshaphat, King Hezekiah, King Josiah.
       
      Some of those who WORKED righteousness: Elijah, Elisha, and all the prophets of God, and King Josiah also.
       
      Some of those who OBTAINED promises: Caleb, Gideon, Barak.
       
      Some of those who STOPPED the mouths of lions: Daniel, David, and Benaiah (one of David's mighty men).
       
      Some of those who QUENCHED the violence of fire: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
       
      Some of those who ESCAPED the edge of the sword...
       
      David escaped both the swords of Goliath and Saul, Moses escaped the sword of Pharaoh, and Elijah escaped the sword of Jezebel.
       
      Some of those who OUT OF WEAKNESS were made strong: Sarah, Gideon, Abraham, Esther, and King Hezekiah.
       
      Some of those who became VALIANT in battle: David, King Asa, and Jehoshaphat.
       
      Some of those women who received their dead raised to life again: The widow of Zarepheth, and the Shunamite.
       
      Verses 35b-38 tells us By faith, some were victorious under their circumstances.
       
      "And others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented; of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth."
       
      Tortured in the ancient Greek language has the idea "to beat with a stick or a baton."
       
      A BETTER resurrection:
       
      As Jesus said in John 5:29, there is a resurrection unto life, and a resurrection unto condemnation. These worthies received the better resurrection.
       
      Trial of mockings:
       
      Isaac endured the cruel mocking of Ishmael, and Samson was mocked at the feast of the Philistines.
       
      Chains and imprisonments:
       
      Joseph was cast into prison for his faith, and the evil King Ahab imprisoned the prophet Micaiah.
       
      They were stoned:
       
      Zechariah was stoned to death between the altar and the temple, and Naboth was stoned to death by Jezebel's henchmen.
       
      Sawn in two:
       
      According to reliable tradition, Isaiah was sawn in two and killed.
       
      Were tempted:
       
      How does being tempted compare with these other persecutions? Some have thought the text was corrupted here, and the writer to the Hebrews originally wrote "branded" or "burnt alive" or "mutilated" or "strangled." But for those who have known the pains of temptation, it is not unreasonable to think that the writer to the Hebrews regards overcoming temptation as a true triumph of faith.
       
      Were slain with the sword...
       
      Such as the eighty-five priests murdered by Doeg, or the prophets murdered in Elijah's day.
       
      Wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins...
       
      Such as Elijah, who wore this kind humble clothing and did not mind the humility or the discomfort.
       
      Of whom the world was not worthy...
       
      The world is NOT necessarily friendly to people of faith, and the world is NOT necessarily worthy of them either!
       
      In dens and caves of the earth...
       
      David, Elijah, and prophets under the leadership of Obadiah were all forced to flee and hide in caves.
       
      Verses 39-40 tells us Conclusion: We have even MORE reasons for faith, MORE reasons to hold on to faith, than these heroes of the faith did.
       
      "And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us."
       
      Even though they obtained a good testimony through faith, they never saw the promise in the same way that we do on this side of the cross. They did not receive the promise, the testimony of the completed work of the Messiah on their behalf.
       
      God having provided something better for us:
       
      We have been provided something better (seeing and enjoying the completed work of Jesus on our behalf) have much more reason to hold on to faith, and to not let discouragement and tough times defeat us.
       
      They should not be made perfect apart from us...
       
      The idea of perfect is "complete." They could not be made complete until the work of Jesus; they looked forward to Jesus and His work, we look at it from behind - and enjoy the fruits of His work!

       

    • July 6, 2016 4:51 PM EDT
    • HEBREWS 12
       
      REASONS TO ENDURE DISCOURAGING TIMES
       
      Look unto Jesus.
       
      Verse 1 tells us the application of the demonstrations of enduring faith in Hebrews 11.
       
      "Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,"
       
      Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses...
       
      The author envisions these previous champions of faith as spectators from the heavens, cheering us on as we endeavor to overcome present discouragement as in an athletic competition.
       
      The idea of the heroes of faith in the past being spectators as we live lives of faith has made some think that in heaven, people can and do observe what goes on earth. This SINGLE passage may suggest this, but it is inconclusive to prove this.
       
      Others consider that these witnesses are NOT witnessing us as we conduct our daily lives. Instead, they are witnesses to us of faith and endurance.
       
      Lay aside every weight, and the sin...
       
      Sin can hold us back. But there are also things that may not be sin (every weight) but are merely hindrances that can keep us from running effectively the race God has for us.
       
      Our choices are NOT always between right and wrong, but between something that may hinder us and something else that may not. Is there a weight in your life you must lay aside?
       
      So easily ensnares us...
       
      Easily ensnares translates a difficult ancient Greek word "euperistaton", which can be translated four ways: "easily avoided," "admired," "ensnaring," or "dangerous."
       
      1. Some sins can be easily avoided, but are not.
      2. Some sins are admired, yet must be laid aside.
      3. Some sins are ensnaring and thus especially harmful.
      4. And some sins are more dangerous than others are. Let us lay them all aside!
       
      If such ensnaring sins were really ALWAYS the work of demonic possession or demonic influence in the Christian, would NOT this not be an ideal place for the Holy Spirit to address this?
       
      Yet we are NEVER given reason to blame our sin on demons; the appeal is simply for us to, in the power of the Holy Spirit, lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us.
       
      Let us run with endurance...
       
      What is needed is endurance, to finish what we have begun in Jesus Christ - a race that is set before us.
       
      God has set before you a race. You must run it; and it will involve effort and commitment. Just being passive NEVER runs a race. God wants us to run the race, and finish it right!
       
      In Acts 20:24, Paul pictures himself as a runner who had a race to finish, and nothing would keep Paul from finishing the race with joy. In that passage, Paul speaks of my race- he had his race to run, we have our own - but God calls us to finish it WITH JOY, and that only happens with ENDURANCE.
       
      Race is the ancient Greek word "agona", a word used for conflict or struggle of many kinds, and a favorite word of Paul (Philippians 1:30, Colossians 2:1, 1 Thessalonians 2:2, 1 Timothy 6:12, 2 Timothy 4:7).
       
      BARCLAY defines it well, "Endurance is needed to run that race. Endurance translates the ancient Greek word hupomone, "which does not mean the patience which sits down and accepts things but the patience which masters them … It is a determination, unhurrying and yet undelaying, which goes steadily on and refuses to be deflected."
       
      Verse 2 tells us The ULTIMATE example: Jesus Christ.
       
      "Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."
       
      Looking unto Jesus...
       
      We can only run the race as we look to Jesus, and have our eyes locked on to Him. He is our focus, our inspiration, and our example.
       
      In the ancient Greek, looking unto Jesus uses a verb that implies a definite looking away from other things and a present looking unto Jesus.
       
      We must guard against seeing Jesus as ONLY an example; He was and is so much more. But He also remains the ULTIMATE & PERFECT example of Christian endurance.
       
      The author and finisher of our faith...
       
      Jesus is NOT only the author of our faith.
      Jesus IS the finisher of it also.
       
      The idea of He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6) is comforting indeed to these discouraged Christians.
       
      Who for the joy that was set before Him...
       
      Jesus did not regard the cross itself as a joy. But He could look past the horror of the cross to enjoy the joy beyond it. The same mentality will enable these Jewish Christians (and we ourselves) to endure.
       
      Despising the shame...
       
      One of the MOST prominent elements of the torture of the cross was its EXTREME SHAME. Jesus did not welcome this shame - He despised it! - yet He endured through the shame.
       
      This is a stumbling block to many; they will do just about anything for Jesus EXCEPT endure shame or embarrassment.
       
      Spurgeon spoke boldly to Christians who could not bear the shame that comes from the world for following Jesus: "Yet you are a coward. Yes, put it down in English: you are a coward. If anybody called you so you would turn red in the face; and perhaps you are not a coward in reference to any other subject. What a shameful thing it is that while you are bold about everything else you are cowardly about Jesus Christ. Brave for the world and cowardly towards Christ!"
       
      And has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God...
       
      This speaks of Jesus' glorification. The same promise of being glorified after our shame (though in a different sense) is true for the Christian.
       
      Verses 3-4 reminds us CONSIDER Jesus.
       
      "For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin."
       
      You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin...
       
      These Jewish Christians were so discouraged because they were starting to experience significant social and economic persecution (though not yet to the shedding of blood).
       
      But they should consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, and be encouraged, not discouraged, knowing that they are following in the footsteps of Jesus.
       
      As Paul wrote, in ROMANS 8:17, "If indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together."
       
      Lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls...
       
      Knowing that Jesus does NOT ask more of us than what He has Himself experienced, and that He knows exactly what we are going through keeps us from becoming weary and discouraged in your souls.
       
      Why God allows difficult times: the chastening of God.
       
      Hebrews 12:5-11 deals with the question "why does God allow such difficult times as we are going through." This is a question commonly asked in seasons of discouragement.
       
      We must admit that God DOES allow every thing that happens; so He must at least passively approve of it, because He certainly has the power to stop bad things that happen.
       
      Of course, God can NEVER be the author of evil. But He does allow others to choose evil, and He can use the evil choice another makes to work out His ultimately good purpose, even if only to demonstrate His justice and righteousness in contrast to evil.
       
      The discussion of chastening that follows should NOT be regarded as the ONLY reason God allows difficult times, but it IS an important one. For example, we know that God allows difficult times so that we can, at a later time, comfort someone else with the same comfort God shows towards us in our crisis (2 Corinthians 1:3-7).
       
      Verses 5-6 tells us REMEMBER the exhortation regarding the discipline of the Lord.
       
      "And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: "My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the LORD loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives."
       
      You have forgotten...
       
      One great reason for the discouragement among these Jewish Christians was because they saw NO REASON WHY God would allow difficult times to arise. But they have forgotten principles regarding the chastening of the Lord.
       
      How much of the difficulty in our Christian life can be traced back to those three words: YOU HAVE FORGOTTEN!
       
      Perhaps it is some principle we remember in our MINDS, but we have forgotten it with our HEARTS - and we must remember it again!
       
      Which speaks to you as sons...
       
      The quotation from Proverbs 3:11-12 reminds us that God's chastening should NEVER be taken as a sign of His REJECTION. It is rather a sign of His treating us as HIS CHILDREN.
       
      Today, when so many "supposed" teachers and preachers of Jesus word, tell members if you are sick...God is punishing you. If you are suffering in your marriage...God is punishing you. If you are not wealthy...God is punishing you. If you are under attack...God is punishing you...or far far worse, they falsely tell members...God has rejected you. You are not really saved.
       
      Only the most proud Christian would claim they are NEVER in need of correction from God. No one is above this kind of training.
       
      God's chastening can come in many forms; and what may be God's chastening to endure in the life of one believer may be a Satanic attack to resist in the life of another.
       
      This is why James recommends a prayer for wisdom in the context of enduring trials (James 1:2-5). We need to know how to react differently when God does different things.
       
      Verses 7-8 tells us Chastening A SIGN of sonship.
       
      "If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons."
       
      God deals with you as sons...
       
      Many people claim an inability to relate to God as a loving Father, because they have never known a loving human father in their own experience. Yet, even these can still receive the love of God the Father.
       
      We have not all known by experience what a model father is, but we do all know by intuition what a good father is. God is that perfect Father, and He has given us that intuition.
       
      God deals with you as sons...
       
      God's correction is NEVER to punish us, NEVER to make us pay for our sins. That was done once and for all at the cross by Jesus Christ. His correction is motivated only by His love, NOT by His justice; He chastens us WITHOUT anger.
       
      If you are without chastening … you are illegitimate and not sons...
       
      WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
       
      Those who fancy themselves "beyond" God's chastening mark themselves as illegitimate children of God.
       
      God demonstrates His wrath when He ignores our sin, allowing it to pass without correction. His inactivity is NEVER due to ignorance or a lack of initiative, as may be the case with a human father.
       
      Verses 9-10 tells us God's chastening is superior to that of human fathers.
       
      "Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness."
       
      We paid them respect...
       
      We should be even more submissive and respectful to our Heavenly Father's correction than to an earthly Father's correction.
       
      Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of Spirits and live? Therefore, we must NEVER despise God for His chastening, though it is unpleasant. When we RESENT it, we consider ourselves virtual EQUALS with God, instead of His children.
       
      It is humiliating and bitter to be chastened by an equal, but not by one who is legitimately our superior. Resentment at chastening shows how we see God and how we see ourselves.
       
      But He for OUR profit...
       
      Human fathers, even with the best of intention, can only chasten imperfectly, because they lack perfect knowledge. The all-knowing God can chasten us perfectly, with better and more lasting results than even the best earthly father.
       
      Verse 11 tells us Look to the RESULT of chastening more than the PROCESS of chastening.
       
      "Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it."
       
      Afterward it YIELDS the peaceable fruit of righteousness...
       
      Our author is NOT trying to deny the unpleasant nature of a "heavenly spanking" (no chastening seems to be joyful for the present). But he does want us to look beyond the process to the result.
       
      The peaceable fruit of righteousness...
       
      Is this fruit evident in your life? The reason why many live a "one-crisis-after-another" life is because they are either blind to God's chastening, or are resisting it. They have NOT been trained by it, and so the peaceable fruit of righteousness is not evident.
       
      They never experience the peaceable fruit of righteousness because they have never been trained by God's chastening.
       
      Trained in the ancient Greek language is a word from the world of athletics; as an athlete is trained by some agony, so are we - as God's "spiritual athletes."
       
      God has a purpose for training you. Think of David after being attacked by a lion while just he was just a boy tending the sheep. "Why did God allow such a terrible think to happen to me?" He might of thought. "I barely escaped!" But if only David could see ahead, he would see God had a giant named Goliath he was destined to face, and the battle with the lion prepared him ahead of time. God ALWAYS has a purpose. We CAN trust Him.
       
      Verses 12-13 tells us GET strong.
       
      "Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed."
       
      Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down...
       
      Almost like a coach or a military officer, the author tells the "troops" to get with it. He has given exhaustive reasons to be strong in the Lord and put off discouragement, so now is the time to do it.
       
      The pictures here (strengthened hands and knees, "straight-ahead" feet) speak of readiness to work and move for the Lord. This readiness is first to go when one surrenders to discouragement.
       
      Verses 14-17 tells us GET right.
       
      "Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears."
       
      Get right with both men (pursue peace with all men) and with God (and holiness). Discouragement makes us sloppy and unconcerned with our personal relationships.
       
      Regarding holiness, we are told without which no one will see the Lord. A lack of holiness is a CRITICAL obstacle to a close relationship with God.
       
      Lest anyone fall short of the grace of God...
       
      We must get right with God's grace. So look diligently to keep both yourself and others from a return to legalism in either outward form or inward attitude that falls short of God's grace, lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble.
       
      Many are corrupted because of BITTERNESS towards someone they feel has wronged them, and they hold on to the bitterness with amazing stubbornness! What they must do is remember the grace of God extended to them, and start extending that grace towards others - loving the undeserving.
       
      A legalistic attitude will ALWAYS produce a bitterness that defiles many; its emphasis on what we should do for God before what He has done for us in Jesus puts us (and those around us) in a terrible performance trap.
       
      Lest there be any fornicator or profane person...
       
      Get right with your moral conduct; remember that there are blessings reserved only for the pure in heart: they shall see God (Matthew 5:8).
       
      Like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright: Many Christians today sell a birthright of intimacy with God as cheaply as Esau sold his birthright (Genesis 25:29-34 and 27:30-40).
       
      Though he sought it diligently with tears...
       
      Esau's birthright was NOT restored simply because he wished it back. It could NEVER be regained because he DESPISED it.
       
       
      Verses 18-24 tells us GET bold.
       
      "For you have not come to the mountain that may be touched and that burned with fire, and to blackness and darkness and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words, so that those who heard it begged that the word should not be spoken to them anymore. (For they could not endure what was commanded: "And if so much as a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned or shot with an arrow." And so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, "I am exceedingly afraid and trembling.") But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel."
       
      For you have not come to the mountain that may be touched and that burned with fire...
       
      Exodus 19:10-25 explains what it was like when Israel came to Mount Sinai. The mountain was fenced off; there was no trespassing, on pain of death. They were commanded to wash their clothes and abstain from sexual relations. There was thunder, lightning and a thick cloud. There was the sound of a trumpet, calling forth the nation to meet with God. There was more smoke, like a furnace, and earthquakes; then the trumpet sounded long - until Moses spoke, and God Himself answered. God spoke to Israel from Sinai, but warned them in every way possible to stay away.
       
      So that those who heard it begged that the word should not be spoken to them anymore...
       
      The reaction of Israel was understandable: they were terrified (Exodus 20:18-21). They wanted the experience to stop, not to continue.
       
      Did this fear work in promoting holiness among the people of Israel?
       
      Did it change the heart of Israel?
       
      NO...40 days later, they worshipped a gold calf, saying it was the god that brought them out of Egypt!
       
      But we are in a different place.
      For you have not come to the mountain.
       
      Our relationship with God is NOT modeled after Israel's experience on Mount Sinai.
       
      We come to God's other mountain: Zion, the name of the hill upon which Jerusalem sits.
       
      Contrasts between Mount Sinai and Mount Zion.
       
      1. Mount Sinai was marked by fear and terror. Mount Zion is a place of love and forgiveness.
       
      2. Mount Sinai is in the desert. Mount Zion is the city of the Living God.
       
      3. Mount Sinai spoke of earthly things. Mount Zion speaks of heavenly things.
       
      4. At Mount Sinai, only Moses was allowed to draw near to God. At Mount Zion, an innumerable company, a general assembly is invited to draw near.
       
      5. Mount Sinai was characterized by guilty men in fear. Mount Zion features just men made perfect.
       
      6. At Mount Sinai, Moses was the mediator. At Mount Zion, Jesus is the mediator.
       
      7. Mount Sinai brings an Old Covenant, which was ratified by the blood of animals. Mount Zion brings a New Covenant, which is ratified by the blood of God's precious Son.
       
      8. Mount Sinai was all about exclusion, keeping people away from the mountain. Mount Zion is all about invitation for whosoever will come...come.
       
      9. Mount Sinai is all about Law. Mount Zion is all about grace.
       
      But you have come to Mount Zion...
       
      The lesson is plain.
       
      We should NOT come to Mount Zion as if we were coming to Mount Sinai. So put away your hesitation and get bold in coming to God!
       
      Of course, the idea of the superiority of the New Covenant is also repeated. How could these Jewish Christians even consider going back and preferring the religion of Mount Sinai over the relationship of Mount Zion?
       
      The blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel...
       
      The blood of Abel does not mean the blood he shed in his martyrdom. Rather, it was the blood of the sacrifice he made - the first recorded sacrifice from man to God in the Bible. The blood of Jesus speaks better things than the blood of animal sacrifice, the blood of Abel.
       
      Verses 25-29 tells us to WATCH OUT.
       
      "See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, "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. For our God is a consuming fire."
       
      See that you do NOT refuse Him who speaks...
       
      If we refuse to get strong, get right, and get bold, we should not remain ignorant of the consequences.
       
      They did NOT escape...
       
      There were consequences for rebelling at Mount Sinai. How much more should there be consequences for resisting God's greater work at Zion?
       
      Whose voice then shook the earth … Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven … things which cannot be shaken...
       
      God is shaking the present order, and these beleaguered Jewish Christians felt it. But the things of God and the people of God will remain.
       
      Since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace...
       
      The kingdom itself will never be shaken. So it behooves us to seize God's unmerited approval in Jesus, helping us to serve God acceptably.
       
      Many wrongly argue that "too much" grace gives license and breeds disrespect towards God. Actually, grace gives us reverence and godly fear. Perhaps those who think grace gives them license to sin aren't walking in grace at all!
       
      Our God is a consuming fire...
       
      Since God is in fact a consuming fire, we do best to come to Him on His terms. These are the terms of unmerited approval in Jesus. He will consume all that is outside of that sphere.

    • July 6, 2016 4:47 PM EDT
    • HEBREWS 13
       
      OPENS WITH LIVING A POSITIVE CHRISTIAN LIFE
       
      Verses 1-3 tells us EXPRESS brotherly love.
       
      "Let brotherly love continue. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels. Remember the prisoners as if chained with them; those who are mistreated; since you yourselves are in the body also."
       
      Let brotherly love continue...
       
      DID YOU KNOW...The writer to the Hebrews uses the ancient Greek word "philadelphia" here. He assumes that there is brotherly love among Christians. He simply asks that it would continue among them.
       
      In the ancient Greek language the New Testament was written in, there were FOUR words at hand that we might translate LOVE.
       
      1. EROS was one word for love. It described, as we might guess from the word itself, erotic love. It refers to sexual love.
       
      2. STORGE was a second word for love. It refers to family love, the kind of love there is between a parent and child, or between family members in general.
       
      3. AGAPE is another word for love. It is the MOST powerful word for love in the New Testament, and is often used to describe God's love towards us. It is a love that loves WITHOUT changing. It is a self-giving love that gives WITHOUT demanding or expecting re-payment. It is love so great that it can be given to the unlovable or unappealing. It is love that loves even when it is rejected. Agape love gives and loves because it wants to; it does not demand or expect repayment from the love given - it gives because it loves, it does not love in order to receive. Agape love is NOT about feelings, it is about DECISIONS...CHOOSING TO WILLINGLY LOVE REGARDLESS.
       
      But the word for love used in Hebrews 13:1 is:
       
      4. PHILADELPHIA, coming from the root philia. This ancient Greek word speaks of a brotherly friendship and affection. It is the love of deep friendship and partnership. There should always be plenty of this kind of love among Christians, and it should CONTINUE.
       
      Do NOT forget to entertain strangers:
       
      Hospitality is an important virtue, and often it is commanded of Christians and leaders (Romans 12:10-13; 1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:7-8; 1 Peter 4:9).
       
      In the ancient world, "motels," where they did exist, were notorious for immorality. It was important for traveling Christians to find OPEN homes from other Christians. This was simply a practical way to let brotherly love continue.
       
      Because of the FREE offer of hospitality, Christians had to watch out for people just masquerading as Christians so they could leech off the generosity of God's people. As time went on, Christian leaders taught their people how to RECOGNIZE these kind of deceivers.
       
      Strangers...
       
      The point is that we do this for other Christians who are strangers to us. If you invite your best friends over for lunch, that is wonderful - but it does NOT fulfill this command. A wonderful way to fulfill this command is to meet and befriend strangers at church, and to entertain them with hospitality.
       
      The ancient Greek word for hospitality (used in passages like Romans 12:13) is literally translated, "love for strangers." Brotherly love means love for all our brothers and sisters in Jesus, NOT just those who are currently our friends.
       
      For by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels:
       
      WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
       
      When we are hospitable to others, we really welcome Jesus (Matthew 25:35), and perhaps angels. Abraham (Genesis 18:1-22) and Lot (Genesis 19:1-3) are examples of those who UNWITTINGLY entertained angels.
       
      Remember the prisoners as if chained with them:
       
      PRISONERS here probably has FIRST reference to those imprisoned for the sake of the Gospel. But it can also be extended to all that are in prison. This is just another way to let brotherly love continue.
       
      Verse 4 tells us HONOR marital love.
       
      "Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge."
       
      The bed undefiled...
       
      WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
       
      The Bible strictly condemns sex outside of the marriage commitment (fornicators and adulterers God will judge). But the Bible celebrates sexual love within the commitment of marriage, as in The Song of Solomon.
       
      BRUCE clarifies it well, "Fornication and adultery are not synonymous in the New Testament: adultery implies unfaithfulness by either party to the marriage vow, while the word translated "fornication" covers a wide range of sexual irregularities, such as pre-marital, extra-marital, wife-swapping, group sex, homosexual, lesbian, bi-sexual, pedofilics, beastiality sex."
       
      Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled:
       
      Perhaps through a past of sexual sin, many people have a difficult time really believing that the marriage bed is undefiled. Guilt and sexual hang-ups are appropriate to extra-marital sex, but not in marital sex. But this is where the guilt and sexual hang-ups often exist, and where they most frequently cause trouble.
       
      The enemy of our souls wants to do everything he can to encourage sex outside of the marriage bed, and he wants to do everything he can to discourage sex inside the marriage bed. We need to recognize this strategy and not give it a foothold among us.
       
      Though God allows real freedom in the variety of sexual expression in marriage, all must be done with a concern for the other's needs and in love (1 Corinthians 7:2-5 and Ephesians 5:21-33).
       
      Verses 5-6 tells us Learn contentment over covetousness.
       
      "Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." So we may boldly say: "The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?"
       
      Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content:
       
      Covetousness is the OPPOSITE of contentment. Often covetousness and greed are excused or even admired in today's culture, and are wrongly and simply called "ambition."
       
      Paul had the right idea in Philippians 4:11-13, which says, "Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
       
      Contentment has much MORE to do with what you are on the INSIDE rather than what you have.
       
      Someone asked millionaire Bernard Baruch, "How much money does it take for a rich man to be satisfied?" Baruch answered, "Just a million more than he has."
       
      CONTENTMENT IN THE EYES OF THE WORLD IS NEVER SATISFIED.
       
      So we may boldly say: "The LORD is my helper."
       
      REAL CONTENTMENT comes only when we trust in God to MEET our needs and TO BE our security. It is amazing that we are often more likely to put security and find contentment in SELF AND WORLDLY things far less reliable and secure than THE LORD JESUS Himself!
       
      Verse 7 tells us FOLLOW your leaders.
       
      "Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct."
       
      Remember those who rule over you:
       
      We are told to recognize and follow GODLY leadership in the body of Christ, leadership that is shown to be legitimate by faithfulness to the word of God and by godly conduct.
       
      REMEMBER Paul advised Timothy along the same lines, in 1 TIMOTHY 4:16, which says, "Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you."
       
      Such leaders should be recognized (remember those) and followed. Just as much as a church needs godly leaders, it also needs godly followers.
       
      Verse 8 tells us the ENDURING principle: Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
       
      "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever."
       
      Jesus Christ is the same:
       
      The unchanging nature (which theologians call immutability) of Jesus Christ could be inferred from His deity, even if it were not explicitly stated. God does NOT change over the ages, so neither does Jesus, who is God.
       
      His unchanging nature provides a measure for all Christian conduct, particularly in the word and in worship. We should NOT expect something completely "new" as if it were from a "new Jesus." The nature of Jesus as it is revealed in the Bible is the SAME NATURE of Jesus that should be seen in the church today.
       
      Verses 9-14 tells us following the REJECTED Jesus.
       
      "Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines. For it is good that the heart be established by grace, not with foods which have not profited those who have been occupied with them. We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat. For the bodies of those animals, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned outside the camp. Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come."
       
      Do NOT be carried about with various and strange doctrines: There has never been a shortage of various and strange doctrines in the church. The ones specifically in mind here seem to deal with a return to Mosaic ceremonies and laws that were fulfilled in Jesus. But it is true of churches and religiosities today that CHOOSE NEW WAYS, NEW COMMANDS, NEW RITUALS, FEASTS, LAWS created by men and NOT BY JESUS.
       
      WHAT ARE TODAY'S VARIOUS FALSE DOCTRINES and LIES OF SATAN AND MAN:
       
      1. There are MANY PATHS to God and Heaven.
      2. Salvation is earn based.
      3. Salvation is won and lost daily.
      4. ALL people are children of God.
      5. ALL people go to Heaven.
      6. ALL Jews are saved.
      7. There is no Hell and Lake of Fire.
      8. All people are reincarnated until they get it right.
      9. Jesus Christ did not complete the work on the cross.
      10. Jesus Christ was a nice gentle teacher and prophet, but NOT the Only begotten Son of Almighty God.
      11. ALMIGHTY GOD has many names. ALLAH, BUDDHA, etc. are ALL NAMES of the SAME GOD.
      12. IF you are truly saved, you will be healthy, wealthy, and wise.
      13. If you are saved you BECOME equal to God and Jesus Christ.
      14. If you are saved you are SINLESS and all things ARE acceptable for you.
      15. If you are saved you COMMAND/SUMMON/EXHIBIT THE GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT as you will them.
       
      16. If you belong to a church of any religiosity you are saved.
       
      17. If you keep Hebrews rituals, feast days, and laws of Judaism you are saved.
       
      18. If you are born into a Christian family you are instantly saved.
       
      19. Baptism at birth or at any time in your life saves you.
       
      20. If you believe in Almighty God but not Jesus Christ you are still saved.
       
      21. If you believe in the Old Testament but reject the New Testament or the reverse you are saved.
       
      22. If you are truly saved you will lead a blessed, happy, care-free, trial free, hurt free, rejection free, tribulation free life.
       
      For it is good that the heart be established by grace:
       
      Our hearts will only be established by grace. We are established by an understanding and appropriation of God's UNDESERVED AND UNMERITED approval of us, and not by an assumed approval gained through keeping a list of rules (not with foods which have not profited those who have been occupied with them).
       
      We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat:
       
      WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
       
      These Jewish Christians had probably been branded as illegitimate by other Jews because they did not continue the Levitical system. But the writer to the Hebrews insists that we have an altar, and it is an altar that those who insist on clinging to the Levitical system have NO right to.
       
      WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
       
      Essentially, our altar is the cross - the centerpiece of the Christian gospel and understanding (1 Corinthians 1:18-24; 2:1-5).
       
      Jesus … suffered outside the gate. Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach:
       
      If our Savior was rejected and His sacrifice (performed at the cross, our altar) was branded illegitimate, what better do we expect? Identifying with Jesus often means bearing His reproach, the very thing many are quite UNWILLING to do.
       
      AND THIS IS ONE OF THE FAILINGS IN THE CHURCH THEN AND NOW...WE DO NOT TELL, TEACH, AND PREPARE BABY CHRISTIANS FOR REJECTION. THEY ARE SO FILLED WITH LOVE, WONDER, THANKFULNESS, AND A CLEANSED HEART AND LIFE...THEY WANT EVERYONE TO COME TO KNOW JESUS...AND SO THEY STEP OUT BOLDLY IN THEIR NEW WALK WITH JESUS AND ARE TOTALLY UNPREPARED TO BE LAUGHED AT, REJECTED, ABANDONED, PERSECUTED, JAILED, BEATEN, AND OSTRACIZED BY FRIENDS, FAMILY, CO-WORKERS, THEIR TOWN, THEIR COUNTRY, AND LOST PEOPLE IN GENERAL.
       
      Outside the camp:
       
      WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
       
      The camp referred to is institutional Judaism, which had rejected Jesus and Christianity. Though these Christians from Jewish backgrounds had been raised to consider everything outside the camp as unclean and evil, they must follow Jesus there.
       
      For here we have NO continuing city, but we seek the one to come:
       
      The difficult job of bearing His reproach is easier when we remember that the city or society we are cast out of is ONLY temporary. We seek, and belong to, the permanent city yet to come. We who love Jesus Christ and call Him Lord, Savior, Master, and friend belong to Jesus Christ and Heaven...not this lost, destructive, devolving world.
       
      Verses 15-16 tells us Our sacrifice.
       
      "Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased."
       
      Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God:
       
      Because we DO have an altar (the cross) and we DO have a High Priest (Jesus), we should ALWAYS offer sacrifices. But they are NOT the bloody sacrifices of the old covenant, but the sacrifice of praise, the fruit of our lips.
       
      The writer to the Hebrews spells out several essentials for proper praise.
       
      1. Praise that pleases God is offered by Him, that is, by Jesus Christ, on the ground of His righteousness and pleasing God.
       
      2. Praise that pleases God is offered continually, so that we are always praising Him regardless our present circumstances.
       
      3. Praise that pleases God is a sacrifice of praise, in that it may be costly or inconvenient.
       
      4. Praise that pleases God is the fruit of our lips, more than just thoughts directed towards God. It is spoken out unto the Lord, either is prose or in song. We can and should thank Jesus during the storm, the trials, the hurts, the sorrows, as well the victories, blessings, and favors from Him too.
       
      But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased:
       
      Praise is NOT the only sacrifice that pleases God. We also perform sacrifice that pleases God when we DO good and share. Praise and worship are important, but the Christian's obligation do NOT end there.
       
      Verse 17 tells us FOLLOW your leaders.
       
      "Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you."
       
      Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive:
       
      We are to be submissive to the leaders God has given us (assuming they have the character mentioned in Hebrews 13:7). We are simply told to obey those who rule over us. When speaking on the authority of God's Word, leaders do have a right to tell us how to live and walk after God.
       
      Sadly, many have taken the idea of submission to leaders in the church much too far; the "Shepherding Movement" was a clear example of this kind of abuse (which many seem to welcome, wanting someone else to be responsible for their lives). A teacher should teach us to submit to Jesus Christ, NOT to himself.
       
      As those who must give account:
       
      Why should we obey and submit to our leaders?
       
      Because God has put them in a place of responsibility and accountability over us. Of course, this does not relieve individual responsibility, but it puts an additional accountability and responsibility to leaders.
       
      Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you:
       
      Cooperative conduct is not only a joy to leaders, but it is profitable for the whole body. It is for our own sake that we should obey and submit to God-appointed leaders.
       
      Verses 18-19 tells us A request for prayer.
       
      "Pray for us; for we are confident that we have a good conscience, in all things desiring to live honorably. But I especially urge you to do this, that I may be restored to you the sooner."
       
      Pray for us:
       
      The writer to the Hebrews considered it IMPORTANT that others pray for him. We ALL need and should welcome the prayers of others.
       
      DID YOU KNOW?
       
      In the grammar of the ancient Greek language, "PRAY" is in the present imperative verb tense. It looks for continuous activity and implies that they had already been praying for him.
       
      That I may be restored to you the sooner:
       
      There were obstacles preventing the writer from being reunited with his readers. He knew that prayer COULD remove those obstacles.
       
      I especially urge you to do this:
       
      As far as the writer to the Hebrews is concerned, their prayers will determine if and when he is reunited with them. This shows how SERIOUSLY he regarded their prayers for him.
       
      Verses 20-21 tells us A BLESSING is pronounced.
       
      "Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen."
       
      This is a blessing in the style of the priestly blessing of Numbers 6:22-27, which says, "The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace."
       
      In this blessing, God is FIRST recognized in His attributes: peace, power (brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead), loving care (that great Shepherd), and ever giving love (the blood of the everlasting covenant).
       
      The idea of the EVERLASTING COVENANT has been taken to express the covenant that existed BEFORE the foundation of the world between the Persons of the Godhead, working together for the salvation of man. Other passages which may speak to this everlasting covenant are Revelation 13:8, Ephesians 1:4, and 2 Timothy 1:9.
       
      Some, however, simply take the everlasting covenant as another name for the New Covenant.
       
      Then, the desire for blessing is expressed:
       
      Complete in EVERY good work, God's working in you, and all through Jesus Christ.
       
      Verses 22-25 tells us the CONCLUSION to the letter to the Hebrews.
       
      "And I appeal to you, brethren, bear with the word of exhortation, for I have written to you in few words. Know that our brother Timothy has been set free, with whom I shall see you if he comes shortly. Greet all those who rule over you, and all the saints. Those from Italy greet you. Grace be with you all. Amen."
       
      Bear with the word of exhortation, for I have written to you in few words:
       
      The writer to the Hebrews REMINDS US of his purpose. His desire was to write a word of EXHORTATION, that would ENCOURAGE discouraged Christians, both then and now.
       
      REMEMBER...In Acts 13:15, the phrase word of exhortation is used to refer to a sermon. Perhaps the writer to the Hebrews means in Hebrews 13:22 that he has given his readers a written sermon.
       
      Know that our brother Timothy has been set free, with whom I shall see you if he comes shortly:
       
      These final words give us a few tantalizing hints of the writer's identity. But these words only tells us that the writer knew Timothy, and that he planned to visit his readers soon. It also tells us that his readers were based in Italy (Those from Italy greet you), probably in the city of Rome.
       
      Grace be with you all:
       
      This is a fitting end for a book that documents the passing of the Old Covenant and the institution of the New Covenant. Grace be with you all indeed, under what God has given through the superior Savior, Jesus Christ! Amen!

    • July 6, 2016 4:45 AM EDT
    • JAMES 1:
       
      OPENS WITH LIVING FAITH IN TRIALS AND TEMPTATIONS
       
      Verse 1 tells us a Greetings from James.
       
      "James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad: Greetings."
       
      James...
       
      There are several men named James mentioned in the New Testament, but reliable tradition assigns this book to the one called James the Just - the half-brother of Jesus (Matthew 13:155), and brother of Jude (Jude 1), who led the church in Jerusalem (Acts 15:13).
       
      An early history of the church says that James was such a man of prayer that his knees had large, thick calluses, making them look like the knees of a camel. It also says that James was martyred in Jerusalem by being pushed from a high point of the temple. Yet the fall did not kill him and on the ground he was beaten to death as he prayed for his attackers.
       
      A bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ...
       
      Knowing that this James was the half-brother of Jesus makes his self-introduction all the more significant. He does not proclaim himself "the brother of Jesus", but only a bondservant, of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus was not only James' brother; more importantly, Jesus was his Lord.
       
      Bondservant is an important word. It translates the ancient Greek word doulos...which literally means willing, devoted, faithful slave.
       
       
      Lord is an important word. It translates the ancient Greek word "kurios". It means that James considered Jesus God. "Hellenistic Jews used Kurios as a name for God; the non-use of the article gains in significance when it is remembered that o Kurios, 'Dominus,' was a title given to the early Roman Emperors in order to express their deity." (Oesterley in Expositor's)
       
      To the twelve tribes...
       
      What James means by the reference to the twelve tribes is difficult to understand. Is James writing a letter just to Christians from a Jewish background, or to all Christians? Certainly, this letter applies to all Christians. Probably, James wrote his letter before Gentiles were brought into the church, or before Gentile Christians emerged in any significant number.
       
      The twelve tribes is a Jewish figure of speech that sometimes referred to the Jewish people as a whole (Matthew 19:28; Acts 26:7).
       
      Which are scattered abroad...
       
      At this time, the Jewish people were scattered all over the world. There were Christian communities among almost every Jewish community throughout the world. Regarding the extent of the dispersion.
       
      Since this was written for the body of Christians as it existed at that time, this is a letter for us today.
       
      WHY?
       
      In many ways, we listen to the book of James because it echoes the teaching of Jesus. There are at least FIFTEEN allusions to the Sermon on the Mount in James. A man who knew the teaching of Jesus and took it seriously wrote this letter.
       
      Verses 2-4 tells us Patient endurance in trials.
       
      "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing."
       
      Count it all joy when you fall into various trials...
       
      James regards trials as inevitable. He says WHEN, not IF you fall into various trials. At the same time, trials are occasions for joy, not discouraged resignation. We can count it all joy in the midst of trials, because they are used to produce patience.
       
      Patience is the ancient Greek word "hupomone". This word does NOT describe a passive waiting, but an ACTIVE endurance. It is NOT so much the quality that helps you sit quietly in the doctor's waiting room as it is the quality that helps you finish a marathon.
       
      Knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience...
       
      Faith is TESTED through trials, NOT produced by trials. Trials REVEAL what faith we DO have, not because God doesn't know how much faith we have, but to make our faith evident to OURSELVES and TO THOSE around us.
       
      If trials do NOT produce faith, what does?
       
      Romans 10:17 tells us, "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."
       
      Faith is built in us as we HEAR, STUDY, UNDERSTAND and TRUST in God's word.
       
      Produces patience...
       
      Trials don't produce faith, but when trials are received with faith, it produces patience. But patience is NOT inevitably produced in times of trial. If difficulties are received in unbelief and grumbling, trials can produce bitterness and discouragement. This is why James exhorts us to COUNT IT ALL JOY. Counting it all joy is faith's response to a time of trial.
       
      But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing...
       
      The work of patient endurance comes SLOWLY, and must be allowed to have FULL bloom. Patient endurance is a mark of the person who is perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
       
      Verses 5-8 tells us HOW TO RECEIVE the wisdom you need from God.
       
      "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways."
       
      If any of you lacks wisdom...
       
      Trials are a necessary season to seek wisdom from God. We often didn't know we needed wisdom until our trial. Once in a time of trial, we need to know if a particular trial is something God wants us to eliminate by faith or persevere in by faith. This requires wisdom.
       
      In trials, we NEED HIS wisdom a lot more than we need knowledge. Knowledge is raw information, but wisdom knows how to use it. Someone has said that knowledge is the ability to take things apart, but wisdom is the ability to put things together.
       
      Let him ask of God...
       
      To receive wisdom, we simply ASK of God - who gives wisdom generously (liberally), and without despising our request (without reproach).
       
      When we want wisdom, the place to BEGIN is in the Bible. The place to END is in the Bible. True wisdom will always be consistent with God's word.
       
      But let him ask in faith...
       
      Our request for wisdom must be made like any other request - in faith, without doubting God's ability or desire to give us His wisdom.
       
      This shows the kind of heart we need in seeking God's wisdom from the Scriptures: a heart that believes God's word, and believes it speaks to us today.
       
      With NO doubting … let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord...
       
      The one who DOUBTS AND LACKS FAITH SHOULD NOT EXPECT TO RECEIVE ANYTHING FROM THE LORD. This lack of faith and trust in God also shows that we have NO foundation, being UNSTABLE in all our ways.
       
      A double-minded man, unstable in all his ways...
       
      To ask God, but to ask Him in a doubting way, shows that we are double-minded. If we had no faith, we would never ask at all. If we had no unbelief, we would have no doubting. To be in the MIDDLE GROUND between faith and unbelief is to be double-minded.
       
      The man who came to Jesus and said Lord, I believe; help my unbelief (Mark 9:24) was not double-minded. He WANTED to believe, and declared his belief. His faith was weak, but it wasn't tinged with a double-minded doubt.
       
      Verses 9-11 tells us Encouragement for those AFFECTED by trials.
       
      "Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation, but the rich in his humiliation, because as a flower of the field he will pass away. For no sooner has the sun risen with a burning heat than it withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beautiful appearance perishes. So the rich man also will fade away in his pursuits."
       
      Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation...
       
      As much as it is appropriate for the lowly to rejoice when they are lifted up by God, so it is appropriate (but far more difficult) for the high (the rich) to rejoice when they are brought to humiliation by trials.
       
      Because as a flower of the field he will pass away...
       
      Trials serve to remind the rich and the high that though they are comfortable in this life, it is still only THIS LIFE, which fades as the grass grows brown and the flowers fade away.
       
      In the land of Israel, there are a variety of beautiful flowers that spring to life when the rains come, but they last for only a short time before withering away. On the scale of eternity, this is how quickly the rich man also will fade away in his pursuits.
       
      The riches of this world will CERTAINLY fade away - but James says that the rich man also will fade away. If we put our life and our identity into things that fade away, we will fade away also. How much better to put our life and our identity into things that will never fade! If a man is only rich in this world, when he dies, he leaves his riches. But if a man is rich before God, when he dies he goes to his riches!
       
      Verse 12 tells us A blessing for those who ENDURE temptation.
       
      "Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him."
       
      Blessed is the man...
       
      This sounds like one of Jesus' Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). In those great statements of blessing, Jesus wasn't finished telling us how we can be blessed. Here, we learn we can be blessed as we endure temptation.
       
      Who endures temptation...
       
      Temptation is ONE of the various trials (James 1:2) we face. As we persevere through temptation, we are approved, and will be rewarded as the work of God in us is evident through our resistance of temptation.
       
      The crown of life which the Lord has promised reminds us that it really is worth it to endure under the temptations we face. Our steadfastness will be rewarded as we demonstrate our love for Jesus (to those who love Him) by resisting temptation.
       
      Verses 13-16 tells us HOW temptation comes.
       
      "Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren."
       
      Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God"...
       
      Temptation does NOT come from God. Though He allows it, He Himself does not entice us to evil, though God may test our faith without a solicitation to evil (nor does He Himself tempt anyone).
       
      James knew that most people have an evil tendency to blame God when they find themselves in trials. But by His very nature, God is UNABLE to either be tempted (in the sense we are tempted, as James will explain), nor can He Himself tempt anyone.
       
      We should remember that the pagan gods of ancient times were well acquainted with evil, and sinned often themselves. But the true God, the God of the Bible CANNOT be tempted by evil.
       
      Each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed...
       
      God doesn't tempt us. Instead, temptation comes when we are drawn away by our own fleshly desires and enticed - with the world and the devil providing the enticement.
       
      Satan certainly tempts us.
       
      But the only reason temptation has a hook in us is because of our own fallen nature, which corrupts our God-given desires. We often give Satan too much credit for his tempting powers, and fail to recognize that we are drawn away by our own desires.
       
      Some who like to emphasize the sovereignty of God say that God is responsible for ALL THINGS.
       
      But God is NEVER the one responsible for man's sin and damnation. God is never the one responsible for the sin or damnation of any man.
       
      When desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin...
       
      Springing forth from corrupt desire is sin. Springing forth from sin is death. This progression to death is an inevitable result that Satan always tries to hide from us, but we should never be deceived about.
       
      Satan's great strategy in temptation is to convince us that the pursuit of our corrupt desires will somehow produce life and goodness for us. If we remembered that Satan only comes to steal, and to kill, and to destroy (John 10:10), then we would resist the deceptions of temptation more easily.
       
      Verses 17-18 tells us God's GOODNESS stands in contrast to the temptations we face.
       
      "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures."
       
      Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above...
       
      From our own fallen natures and from those who would entice us, we expect no true goodness. But every good and every perfect gift comes from God the Father in heaven.
       
      Of course, the ultimate goodness of ANY gift must be measured on an eternal scale. Something that may seem to be only good (such as winning a lottery) may in fact be turned to our destruction.
       
      With whom there is no variation or shadow of turning...
       
      God's goodness is CONSTANT.
       
      There is no variation with Him. Instead of shadows, God is the Father of lights. In the ancient Greek grammar, James actually wrote "the Father of the lights." The specific lights are the celestial bodies that light up the sky, both day and night. The sun, moon, and stars never "turn off," even when we can't see them. Even so, there is never a shadow with God.
       
      This means that God NEVER changes.
       
      Among modern theologians, there are some that are taken with something called process theology, which says that God is "maturing" and "growing" and "in process" Himself. But the Bible says that there is no variation or shadow of turning with God.
       
      Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures...
       
      We can see God's goodness in our salvation, as He initiated our salvation of His own will, and brought us forth to spiritual life by His word of truth, that we might be to His glory as firstfruits of His harvest.
       
      Verses 19-20 tells us Standing FIRM against unrighteous anger.
       
      "So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God."
       
      Slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God...
       
      In light of the nature of temptation and the goodness of God, we must take special care to be slow to wrath, because our wrath does not accomplish the righteousness of God. Our wrath almost always simply defends our own agenda.
       
      Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath...
       
      We can learn to be slow to wrath by first learning to be swift to hear and slow to speak. So much of our anger and wrath comes from being self-centered not others-centered. Swift to hear is a way to be others-centered. Slow to speak is a way to be others-centered.
       
      Verse 21 tells us Standing firm against the lusts of the flesh.
       
      "Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls."
       
      Filthiness and overflow of wickedness probably has in mind an impure manner of living. In light of the nature of temptation and the goodness of God, we are to lay aside all impurity, putting them far from us.
       
      Receive with meekness the implanted word: In contrast to an impure manner of living, we should receive (doing it with meekness, a teachable heart) the implanted word of God. This word is able to save us, both in our current situation and eternally. The purity of God's word will preserve us in an impure age.
       
      Verses 22-25 tells us HOW TO RECEIVE the word of God.
       
      "But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does."
       
      But be doers of the word, and not hearers only...
       
      We must receive God's word as doers, not merely hearers. To take comfort in the fact you have heard God's word when you haven't done it is to deceive yourself.
       
      In the ancient world, it was common for people to hear a teacher. But if you followed the teacher and tried to live what he said, you were called a disciple of that teacher. Jesus is looking for disciples - doers, not just hearers.
       
      Jesus used this same point to conclude His great Sermon on the Mount. He said that the one who heard the word without doing it was like a man who built his house on the sand, but the one who heard God's word and did it was like a man whose house was built on a rock and could withstand the inevitable storms of life and eternity. (Matthew 7:24-27)
       
      He is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was...
       
      The one who only hears God's word, without doing it, has the same sense and stability as a man who looks into a mirror and immediately forgets what he saw. The information he received did not do any good in his life.
       
      Observing his natural face...
       
      The ancient Greek word translated observing has the idea of a careful scrutiny. By application, James is referring to people give a careful scrutiny of God's word; they may be regarded as real Bible experts. But it still doesn't result in doing.
       
      A healthy person looks in the mirror to do something, not just to admire the image. Even so, a healthy Christian looks into God's word to do something about it, not just to store up facts that he will not use.
       
      But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it … this one will be blessed in what he does...
       
      But if we study the word of God intently, and do it (continue in it), then we will be blessed.
       
      He who looks into the perfect law of liberty...
       
      In the ancient Greek language, the word for looks into speaks of a penetrating examination, so that a person will even bend over to get a better look. Though James stresses doing, he does not neglect studying God's word either. We should look into God's word.
       
      The perfect law of liberty...
       
      This is a wonderful way to describe the word of God. In the New Covenant, God reveals to us a law, but it is a law of liberty, written on our transformed hearts by the Spirit of God.
       
      Verses 26-27 tells us Examples of what it means to be A DOER of the word of God.
       
      "If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one's religion is useless. Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world."
       
      If anyone among you thinks he is religious...
       
      Real religion is NOT shown by hearing the word, but by DOING it. One way to do God's word is to bridle the tongue.
       
      Thinks he is religious...
       
      DID YOU KNOW, In the ancient Greek language, religious is a word that is never used in a positive sense in the New Testament. James uses it here of someone who is religious, but NOT REALLY right with God, and it is evident because he does NOT bridle his tongue.
       
      This one's religion is useless...
       
      Your walk with God is useless if it does not translate into the way you live and the way you treat others. Many are deceived in their own heart regarding the reality of their walk with God.
       
      To visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world...
       
      A real walk with God shows itself in simple, practical ways. It helps the needy, and keeps itself unstained by the world's corruption.
       
      Pure and undefiled religion before God...
       
      There is a great deal of pure and undefiled religion in the sight of man that is NOT pure and undefiled religion before God.
       
      Unspotted from the world...
       
      From the book of Genesis, Lot is an example of a man who was spotted by the world. He started living towards Sodom, disregarding the spiritual climate of the area because of the prosperity of the area. Eventually he moved to the wicked city and became a part of the city's leadership. The end result was that Lot lost everything - and was saved as by the skin of his teeth.

    • July 6, 2016 4:43 AM EDT
    • JAMES 2
       
      OPENS WITH...A LIVING FAITH IN THE LIFE OF THE BODY OF CHRIST JESUS
       
      Verse 1 tells us The principle established.
       
      "My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality."
       
      The glorious faith we have, the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, should never be associated with partiality (discrimination). The Lord of glory Himself shows no partiality (Deuteronomy 10:17, Acts 10:34), so neither should those who put their trust in Him.
       
      We do well to remember that James wrote to a very "PARTIAL" age, filled with prejudice and hatred based on class, ethnicity, nationality, and religious background. In the ancient world people were routinely and permanently categorized because they were Jew or Gentile, slave or free, rich or poor, Greek or barbarian, or whatever.
       
      A significant aspect of the work of Jesus was to break down these walls that divided humanity, and to bring forth one new race of mankind in Him (Ephesians 2:14-15).
       
      The unity and openness of the early church was an astonishment to the ancient world. But this unity didn't come automatically. As this command from James shows, the apostles had to teach the early church to never hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ … with partiality.
       
      Verses 2-4 tells us An example of the kind of partiality that has NO PLACE among Christians.
       
      "For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, "You sit here in a good place," and say to the poor man, "You stand there," or, "Sit here at my footstool," have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?"
       
      If there should come into your assembly...
       
      In the ancient Greek, the word assembly is literally synagogue, the name of the meeting place for Jews. The fact that James calls a Christian meeting place a synagogue shows that he wrote before Gentiles were widely received into the church. At the time James wrote, most all Christians came from a Jewish heritage. This is the only place in the New Testament where an assembly of Christians is clearly called a synagogue.
       
      A man with gold rings...
       
      This showed the man was rich. "In Roman society the wealthy wore rings on their left hand in great profusion. A sign of wealth, rings were worn with great ostentation. There were even shops in Rome where rings could be rented for special occasions.
       
      Have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? To favor the rich man over the poor man in the way James describes shows a deep carnality among Christians.
       
      It shows that we care more for the outward appearance than we do upon the heart. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7). God looks at the heart, and so should we.
       
      It shows that we misunderstand who is important and blessed in the sight of God. When we assume that the rich man is more important to God, or more blessed by God, we put too much value in material riches.
       
      It shows a selfish streak in us. Usually we favor the rich man over the poor man because we believe we can get more from the rich man. He can do favors for us that the poor man can't.
       
      Verses 5-7 tells us Man's partiality RARELY agrees with God's heart.
       
      "Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts? Do they not blaspheme that noble name by which you are called?"
       
      Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom...
       
      Though it is easy for man to be partial to the rich, God isn't partial to them. In fact, since riches are an obstacle to the kingdom of God (Matthew 19:24), there is a sense in which the poor of this world are specially blessed by God.
       
      They ARE CHOSEN… to be rich in faith because the poor of this world simply have more opportunities to trust God. Therefore they may be far more rich in faith than the rich man.
       
      They ARE CHOSEN… heirs of the kingdom, because Jesus said that being rich made it harder to enter into the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 19:24).
       
      Has not God chosen...
       
      In the sense that the poor more readily respond to God in faith, having fewer obstacles to the kingdom, we can see how God has chosen the poor.
       
      When we choose people by what we can see on the surface, we miss the mind of God. Remember that Judas appeared to be much better leadership material than Peter.
       
      Of course, God has not only chosen the poor. But we may say that He has chosen the poor first, in the sense Paul speaks of in 1 Corinthians 1:26: For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. Calvin also writes regarding God's choice of the poor: "Not indeed alone, but he wished to begin with them, that he might beat down the pride of the rich."
       
      Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts?
       
      James reminds his readers that the rich often sin against them, often because the love of money is the root of kinds of evil (1 Timothy 6:10). For this reason alone, the rich are not worthy of the partiality often shown to them.
       
      Verses 8-9 tells us Partiality is CONDEMNED by the Scriptures.
       
      "If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," you do well; but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors."
       
      If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture...
       
      James anticipates that some of his readers might defend their partiality to the rich as simply loving him as their neighbor in obedience to the law.
       
      If you show partiality, you commit sin...
       
      The problem isn't that you are nice to the rich. The problem is that you show PARTIALITY to the rich, and are NOT NICE to the poor man! So you can't excuse your partiality by saying, "I'm just fulfilling the command to love my neighbor as myself."
       
      The royal law...
       
      Our God is a great King, and His law is a ROYAL LAW. Our King Jesus put special emphasis on this command (Matthew 22:36-40) from the Old Testament (Leviticus 19:18). James is reminding us that the poor man is JUST AS MUCH our neighbor as the rich man is.
       
      Verses 10-13 tells us The serious matter of obeying all of God's commands.
       
      "For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. For He who said, "Do not commit adultery," also said, "Do not murder." Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment."
       
      Whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all...
       
      James here guards us against a SELECTIVE OBEDIENCE, the sort that will pick and choose which commands of God should be obeyed and which could be safely disregarded.
       
      We can't say, "I like God's command against murder, so I'll keep that one. But I don't like His command against adultery, so I will disregard it." God cares about the WHOLE law.
       
      The whole law must be kept if one will be justified by the law.
       
      So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty...
       
      We are UNDER the law of liberty. It has liberty, yet it is still a law that must be obeyed and that we will be judged by at the judgment seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10).
       
      For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy...
       
      As those who will be judged by the law of liberty, we should always show mercy to others by refraining from partiality. The mercy we show will be extended to us again on the day of judgment, and that mercy triumphs over judgment.
       
      James is relating another principle of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount...
       
      For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. (Matthew 7:2)
       
      Verse 14 tells us The principle established: true faith will be accompanied by action.
       
      "What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?"
       
      Someone says he has faith but does not have works...
       
      James thinks it impossible that someone can genuinely have saving faith with no works. But someone CAN SAY he has faith, but FAIL TO SHOW forth good works. So, the question is valid: can that kind of faith save him?
       
      James wrote to Christians from a Jewish background who discovered the glory of salvation by faith. They knew the exhilaration of freedom from works-righteousness. But they then went to the other extreme of thinking that works didn't matter at all.
       
      James does NOT contradict Paul, who insisted that we are saved not of works (Ephesians 2:9). James merely clarifies for us the kind of faith that saves. We are saved by grace through faith, not by works; but saving faith will have works that accompany it. As the saying goes: faith alone saves, but the faith that saves is not alone - it has good works with it.
       
      Paul also understood the necessity of works in proving the character of our faith.
       
      Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:10 says, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them."
       
      Paul also wrote in Titus 3:8, "This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works."
       
      Verses 15-17 tells us An example of DEAD FAITH.
       
      "If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, "Depart in peace, be warmed and filled," but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead."
       
      If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food...
       
      To fail in the most simple good work towards a brother or sister in need demonstrates that one does not have a living faith, and we can only be saved by a living faith in Jesus.
       
      Be warmed and filled...
       
      To say this means you know that the person in front of you needs clothing and food. You know their need well, but offer nothing to help them except a few religious words.
       
      What does it profit?
       
      REAL FAITH AND THE WORKS that accompany it, are not made up of only "spiritual" things, but also of a concern for the most basic needs - such as the need for comfort, covering, and food. When needs arise, we should sometimes pray less, and simply do more to help the person in need. We can sometimes pray as a substitute for action.
       
      Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead...
       
      This is THE FIRST TIME James speaks of a DEAD FAITH.
       
      Faith alone in Jesus Christ saves us, but it must be a living faith. We can tell if faith is alive by seeing if it is accompanied by works, and if it does not have works, it is dead.
       
      A living faith is simply real faith. If we really believe something, we will follow through and act upon it. If we really put our trust and faith on Jesus, we will care for the naked and destitute as He told us to.
       
      Verses 18-19 tells us A living faith CANNOT be separated from works.
       
      "But someone will say, "You have faith, and I have works." Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe; and tremble!"
       
      You have faith, and I have works...
       
      Some might TRY TO SAY that some have the "gift" of works and others have the "gift" of faith. "It's fine for you to have your gift of works and that you care for the needy. But that isn't my gift." But James will have none of this kind of thinking. Real faith will be demonstrated by works.
       
      Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works...
       
      The appeal of James is clear and logical. We can't "see" someone's faith, but we can see their works. You can't see faith without works, but you can demonstrate the reality of faith by works.
       
      You believe that there is ONE GOD. You do well. Even the demons believe; and tremble!
       
      The FALLACY OF FAITH WITHOUT WORKS IS THIS.....It is demonstrated by the demons, who have a "dead" faith in God. The demons believe in the sense that they acknowledge that God exists. But this "faith" does nothing for the demons, because it isn't real faith, proved by the fact that it doesn't have works with it.
       
      Verses 20-24 tells us Abraham as an example of LIVING faith.
       
      "But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." And he was called the friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only."
       
      Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Abraham was justified by faith long before he offered Isaac (Genesis 15:6). But his obedience in offering Isaac demonstrated that he REALLY DID trust God.
       
      Faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect...
       
      Faith and works cooperated perfectly together in Abraham. If he never had believed God, he could have never done the good work of obedience when asked to offer Isaac. As well, his faith was shown to be true - was completed, was made perfect - by his obedient works.
       
      You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only...
       
      The faith only that will not justify a man is a faith that is without works, a dead faith. But true faith, living faith, shown to be true by good works, will alone justify.
       
      Works MUST accompany a genuine faith, because genuine faith is always connected with regeneration - being born again, becoming a new creation in Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17).
       
      If there is NO evidence of a NEW life, there was NO genuine, saving faith.
       
      Charles Spurgeon says it well, "The grace that does not change my life will not save my soul."
       
      Verses 25-26 tells us Rahab as an example of living faith.
       
      "Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also."
       
      Was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works...
       
      Rahab DEMONSTRATED her trust in the God of Israel by hiding the spies and seeking salvation from their God (Joshua 2:8-13). Her faith was shown to BE LIVING FAITH because it did something. Her belief in the God of Israel would not have saved her if she had not done something with that faith.
       
      Significantly, James uses two examples of a living faith:
       
      Abraham (the father of the Jews)
       
      Rahab (a Gentile).
       
      James perhaps is subtly rebuking the partiality that may have developed on the part of Jewish Christians against the Gentile believers starting to come into the church.
       
      The lesson from Abraham is clear...IF we believe in God, we will do what He tells us to do.
       
      The lesson from Rahab is also clear...IF we believe in God, we will help His people, EVEN at our own expense.
       
      For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also...
       
      As much as you can have a body with no life (a corpse), so you can have a faith with no life - and faith without works is a dead faith, unable to save.
       
      "Therefore, if no deeds are forthcoming, it is proof that the professed faith is dead. Notice that James does NOT deny that it is faith.
       
      He simply indicates that it is NOT THE RIGHT KIND OF FAITH.
       
      It is not living faith, nor can it save ANYONE.
       
      ONLY JESUS CHRIST CAN AND WILL SAVE.

    • July 6, 2016 4:42 AM EDT
    • JAMES 3
       
      OPENS WITH....TAMING THE WILD TONGUE IS A DEMONSTRATION OF LIVING FAITH
       
       
      Verses 1-2 tells us Opening observations: the GREATER accountability of teachers and the difficulty of not stumbling.
       
      "My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body."
       
      Let NOT MANY of you become teachers...
       
      James has a sober admonition for those who would become teachers in the church. They must take the responsibility seriously, because their accountability is greater, and they shall receive a STRICTER judgment.
       
      It is easy to take the position of teacher lightly in the church, without considering its cost in terms of accountability.
       
      REMEMBER IN LUKE 12:48, Jesus warned "To whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much have been committed, of him they will ask the more."
       
      For we ALL STUMBLE in many things...
       
      The greater accountability of teachers is especially sobering in light of our common weaknesses. After all, we all stumble in many things. The ancient Greek word translated stumble does not imply a fatal fall, but something that trips us up and hinders our progress with the Lord.
       
      We all stumble...
       
      YOU NOTICE JAMES INCLUDED HIMSELF...among those who stumble. But he does NOT excuse his or our stumbling. We know that we all stumble, but we should all press on to a better walk with the Lord, marked by LESS stumbling.
       
      If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man...
       
      By this, James provides a measure of spiritual maturity for teachers and for all Christians. To not stumble in word shows true spiritual maturity. This is especially relevant to teachers, who have so much more opportunity to sin WITH THEIR TONGUE.
       
      Verses 3-6 tells us THE POWER of the tongue.
       
      "Indeed, we put bits in horses' mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell."
       
      We put bits in horses' mouths that they may obey us...
       
      A strong horse can be controlled by a small bit in its mouth.
      A large ship can be turned by a small rudder.
      Even so, if we have control over our tongue, it is an indication that we have control over our self. Whoever can control the tongue can bridle the whole body (James 3:2).
       
      The bit and the rudder ARE SMALL, but extremely important.
       
      WHY?
       
      If they are not controlled, the entire horse is out of control, and the entire ship is out of control. Something as small as the tongue can have tremendous power, for either good or evil.
       
      You don't solve the problem of an unruly horse by keeping it in the barn, or the problem of a hard-to-steer ship by keeping it tied to the dock.
       
      WHAT THIS MEANS AND REMINDS AND TEACHES...In the same way, even a vow of silence is NOT the ultimate answer for the misuse of our tongue, as some misguided religiosities teach and follow.
       
      See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity...
       
      The fire of the tongue has been used to burn many. Children are told sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me. But that child's rhyme isn't really true. The bitter pain of a word spoken against us can hurt us for a lifetime, long after a broken bone has healed, AMEN!?
       
      What others say to us and what we say to others can last a long time, for good or for evil. The casual sarcastic or critical remark can inflict a lasting injury on another person. The well-timed encouragement or compliment can inspire someone for the rest of their life.
       
      Proverbs speaks of the person who doesn't consider the destructive power of his words. Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death, is the man who deceives his neighbor, and says, "I was only joking!" told to us in Proverbs 26:18-19.
       
      "In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise. The tongue of the righteous is choice silver; the heart of the wicked is worth little. The lips of the righteous feed many, but fools die for lack of wisdom", confirmed to us in Proverbs 10:19-21.
       
      "Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad", in Proverbs 12:25.
       
      "Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones", in Proverbs 16:24.
       
      "Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit", in Proverbs 18:21.
       
      Verses 7-8 tells us The difficulty of TAMING the tongue.
       
      "For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison."
       
      Every kind of beast and bird … has been tamed by mankind...
       
      A wild animal can be more easily tamed than the tongue. In fact, James tells us that no man can tame the tongue.
       
      The human spirit has incredible capacity for sacrifice and self-control. Sometimes we hear a desperate survival story of someone who cuts off their own leg to get free from a tree that has fallen on them, then they drive to a hospital for medical treatment. Yet that same man can't tame the tongue perfectly.
       
      No man can tame the tongue...
       
      Yet it can be brought under the power and the control of the Holy Spirit. We might say that only God Himself is mightier than the human tongue!
       
      It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison...
       
      The untamable tongue is even more dangerous when we consider the deadly poison it can deliver.
       
      A woman once came to JOHN WESLEY and said she knew what her talent was, and she said. "I think my talent from God is to speak my mind." Wesley replied, "I don't think God would mind if you buried that talent."
       
      Speaking forth everything that comes to mind is unwise, poisonous speech.
       
      Verses 9-12 tells us The contradictory character of the tongue.
       
      "With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh."
       
      With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men...
       
      The tongue can be used for the highest calling (to bless our God) and it can be used for the lowest evil (to curse men). But in those who are born again, it shouldn't be said that out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing.
       
      These things ought not to be so...
       
      Our speech should be consistently glorifying to God. We shouldn't use one vocabulary or one tone of speaking at church, and a different one at home or on the job. Like a spring of water, our mouths shouldn't send forth fresh … and bitter from the same opening.
       
      Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh...
       
      James points to the ultimate impossibility of such a contradiction. If bad fruit and bitter water continue to come forth, it means that there is no contradiction. The tree is bad and the spring is bad.
       
      AND WE REMEMBER THAT Jesus taught in Matthew 12:34-37 that a man's words are a reliable revelation of his inner character. What we say can indicate what we are.
       
       
      Verse 13 tells us Wisdom shows us HOW TO DO good works
       
      "Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom."
       
      Who is wise … Let him show by good conduct...
       
      Wisdom is NOT mere head knowledge. Real wisdom and understanding will show in our lives, by our good conduct.
       
      His works are done in the meekness of wisdom...
       
      True wisdom is also evident by its meek manner. Those who do their good works in a way designed to bring attention to themselves show they lack true wisdom.
       
      Verses 14-16 tells us The character of EARTHLY wisdom.
       
      "But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there."
       
      Bitter envy and self-seeking...
       
      These are the opposite of the meekness of wisdom mentioned in James 3:13.
       
      Do not boast and lie against the truth...
       
      Anyone who shows bitter envy and self-seeking should not deceive anyone - especially themselves - about how "wise" they are. They show a wisdom that is earthly, sensual, and demonic. Their "wisdom" is more characteristic of the world, the flesh, and the devil than of God.
       
      The fruit of this "wisdom" is plain...
       
      Confusion and every evil thing. The wisdom of the world, the flesh, and the devil may be able to accomplish things, but always with the ultimate fruit of confusion and every evil thing.
       
      Verses 17-18 tells us The character of HEAVENLY wisdom.
       
      "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace."
       
      But the wisdom that is from above...
       
      God's wisdom also has fruit. James here is defining exactly what he meant by the meekness of wisdom in James 3:13.
       
      First pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy...
       
      The character of this wisdom is wonderful. It is full of love and a giving heart, consistent with the holiness of God.
       
      Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace...
       
      This fruit is like a seed that will bear fruit as it is sown by those who make peace.

    • July 6, 2016 4:36 AM EDT
    • JUDE -

       
      JUDE PART #1 OPENS WITH....
       
      PREPARE TO CONTEND FOR THE FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST IN THE LAST DAYS.

      THE BOOK OF JUDE IS ONLY 1 CHAPTER, WITH 25 VERSES, BUT IT IS SO MEATY, AND DETAILED, THAT IN ORDER TO STUDY IT & UNDERSTAND IT PROPERLY AND FULLY, IT WILL TAKE THREE STUDIES TO COMPLETE.

      THE BOOK OF JUDE ALSO GIVES US UNIQUE DETAILS ABOUT BIBLICAL HISTORY, AS WELL THE LAST DAYS, THAT THE HOLY SPIRIT TOLD HIM & SHOWED HIM THAT WE DO NOT WANT TO MISS NOT ONE GOLD NUGGET FOUND HERE.

      The danger that prompted Jude to write this letter.

      Verse 1 tells us WHO IS the author and WHO ARE his TARGET readers.

      “Jude, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, To those who are called, sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ:”

      Jude: The name is literally “Judas.” But to avoid connection with Judas Iscariot, the infamous man who betrayed Jesus, most English translators have used the name “Jude.”

      There are SIX people named “Judas” mentioned in the New Testament, but the best evidence identifies this as the one mentioned in Matthew 13:55 and Mark 6:3: Jude, the half-brother of Jesus.

      Jude, like the other half-brothers of Jesus (including James), didn’t believe in Jesus as the Messiah until AFTER the resurrection of Jesus.

      John 7:5 says of Jesus family, “For neither did his brethren believe in him.”

      YOU NOTICE JUDE CALLS HIMSELF...
       
      A bondservant of Jesus Christ: even though Jude was a blood relative of Jesus, but he considered himself ONLY as a bondservant of Jesus Christ.

      The fact that he wanted himself to be known this way instead of introducing himself as “Jude, the half-brother of Jesus” tells us something of the NEW MAN IN CHRIST & THE HUMILITY of Jude and the relative unimportance of being connected to Jesus by blood & human relationships.

      JUDE LEARNED AND AGREED WITH AND NOW UNDERSTOOD WHAT JESUS MEANT WHEN HE spoke of this relative unimportance in passage such as Mark 3:31-35 and Luke 11:27-28.

      MARK 3:31-35 confirms this, “There came then his brethren and his mother, and, standing without, sent unto him, calling him. And the multitude sat about him, and they said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren without seek for thee. And he answered them, saying, Who is my mother, or my brethren? And he looked round about on them which sat about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.”

      LUKE 11:27-28 confirms this, “And it came to pass, as he spake these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed [is] the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked. But he said, Yea rather, blessed [are] they that hear the word of God, and keep it.”


      DO NOT MISUNDERSTAND HERE…
       
      THERE IS WITHOUT A SHADOW OF DOUBT THAT Jude NOW BELATEDLY VALUED the fact that Jesus WAS his half-brother and that he grew up in the same household as Jesus. But even MORE valuable to him was his ETERNAL RELATIONSHIP with Jesus. To Jude, the blood of the cross that saved him was more important than the family blood in his veins that related him to Jesus.

      Jude could say with Paul, “Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer.” (2 Corinthians 5:16)

      And brother of James…James was an important leader of the church in Jerusalem and the author of the New Testament letter that bears his name. Both James and Jude WERE half-brothers of Jesus.

      To those who are called…Jude wrote THIS LETTER TO Christians. This is NOT an evangelistic tract and it deals with things that believers NEED to hear, but often don’t want to.

      TO MAKE SURE THERE WAS NO MISTAKE IN WHOM JUDE WAS SPEAKING TO…Jude identified his readers as Christians in THREE specific ways:

      1. They WERE/ARE called…A person is a Christian because God has called them. The important thing is to ANSWER the call when it comes, just as we answer the telephone when it is ringing.

      2. They WERE/ARE sanctified by God the Father. This means that they were set apart - set apart from the world and set apart unto God.

      3. They WERE/ARE preserved in Jesus. Jesus Christ is our guardian and our protector and our salvation.


      Verse 2 tells us Jude gives a warm and typical greeting.

      “Mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.”

      Mercy, peace, and love…This is NOT the same greeting as found in most of Paul’s letters (which usually begin with some variation of “Grace and peace unto you”). Yet it is substantially the same.

      Be multiplied to you…In the mind and heart of Jude, it wasn’t enough to have mercy, peace, and love added to the life of the Christian. He looked for MULTIPLICATION instead of simple ADDITION.


      Verse 3 tells us the call to DEFEND the faith.

      “Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.”

      Jude’s initial desire was to write about our COMMON salvation. But something happened - Jude found it necessary to write a different letter. We might say that this was the letter that didn’t want to be written.

      WHAT DO I MEAN BY THAT?

      The letter of Jude is essentially a sermon OF WARNING…OF FOREWARNED IS FOREARMED, AMEN!

      In it, Jude preached against the DANGEROUS practices and doctrines that put the gospel of Jesus Christ IN PERIL. These WERE/ARE serious issues and Jude dealt with them seriously.

      We should be THANKFUL that Jude was SENSITIVE to the Holy Spirit here. What might have only been a letter from a Christian leader to a particular church instead became a precious instrument inspired by the Holy Spirit and valuable as a warning TO/FOR CHRISTIANS in these LAST DAYS.

      Concerning our common salvation…Our salvation IS NOT common in the sense that it is CHEAP or that EVERYONE AND ANYONE ALREADY HAS IT.

      It is common in the sense that we ARE SAVED IN COMMON, in community. IN OTHER WORDS, WE WHO ARE SAVED BY/THROUGH JESUS CHRIST & HIM ALONE.

      WHAT DOES JUDE MEAN BY THIS?

      HE IS REMINDING CHRISTIANS THAT GOD DOES NOT have one way for the rich and another way for the poor, or one way for the good and another way for the bad.

      We ALL come to God the same way. If it isn’t a common salvation, it isn’t God’s salvation - GOD’S SALVATION FOR US ALL IS ONLY THROUGH HIS SON JESUS CHRIST…and ANYTHING LESS IS NOT salvation at all.

      PEOPLE CAN KNOW, TRUST, BELIEVE IN, AND ACCEPT ALMIGHTY GOD, BUT IF THEY REJECT HIS SON JESUS CHRIST, THEY ARE NOT SAVED.

      CHURCH MEMBERSHIP DOES NOT SAVE YOU…You can join a church, synagogue, temple, mosque, ashram, a monastery, a coven, be faithful to it all your life AND SPEND ETERNITY IN THE LAKE OF FIRE. JESUS CHRIST IS THE ONLY WAY!

      YOU CAN BE BAPTIZED AT BIRTH, BROUGHT INTO OR BUY INTO ANY RELIGIOUS GROUP BY PROXY FROM YOUR FAMILY BELIEF TENETS WHATEVER THEY ARE, YOU CAN BE CONVERTED INTO AN OCEAN OF POMP AND CIRCUMSTANCE RELIGIOSITIES THAT FLOOD THE WORLD and STILL SPEND ETERNITY IN THE LAKE OF FIRE.

      BECAUSE JESUS CHRIST AND BELIEF, TRUST, REPENTANCE & ACCEPTANCE OF HIM INTO YOUR HEART, WHICH IS THE ONE & ONLY TRUE FAITH IS IN JESUS CHRIST ALONE.


      YOU WANT TO SPEND ETERNITY IN HEAVEN…COME TO JESUS.

      YOU WANT TO GET TO ALMIGHTY GOD…COME TO JESUS.

      YOU WANT TO REPENT, BE FORGIVEN BY ALMIGHTY GOD, CALL ON JESUS CHRIST ALONE.

      IN OTHER WORDS, BAPTISM DOES NOT SAVE ANYONE.
       
      A CHURCH MEMBERSHIP DOES NOT SAVE ANYONE.
       
      COMMUNION DOES NOT SAVE ANYONE,
       
      FEAST DAYS DOES NOT SAVE ANYONE.

      JUDE IS REMINDING CHRISTIANS, JESUS CHRIST SAYS EACH PERSON MUST PERSONALLY ONE ON ONE CHOOSE HIM. THERE IS NO SALVATION BY PROXY NOR PROXIMITY AS MANY FALSE TEACHERS AND FALSE RELIGIONS TEACH.

      WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?

      THERE ARE THOSE WHO TEACH AND BELIEVE TO BE A JEW, MEANS AUTOMATIC SALVATION AND AN ETERNITY IN HEAVEN…THAT IS A LIE FROM SATAN AND THE WORLD.

      THERE ARE THOSE WHO SAY I AM A BAPTIST, METHODIST, LUTHERAN, PENTECOSTAL, CATHOLIC, MUSLIM, LATTER DAY SAINTS, AND I READ THEIR BIBLE, PRAY, BELIEVE IN GOD…
       
      SO I AM SAVED. THAT IS A LIE FROM SATAN HIMSELF.

      THERE ARE THOSE WHO SAY, I AM A GOOD PERSON, I HAVE LIVED A GOOD MORAL LIFE….I AM GOING TO HEAVEN. THAT IS A LIE FROM SATAN.

      YOU CAN SAY AN OCEAN OF PRAYERS FOR THE DEAD, PAY WHATEVER THE COST FOR SALVATION LITURGY. PRAY TO MARY, THE MOTHER OF JESUS, OR HIS DISCIPLES, OR TO GOD’S ANGELS, OR PRAY TO ANYONE IN HEAVEN FOR INTERCESSION, SALVATION, AND ACCEPTANCE INTO HEAVEN….THAT IS A LIE FROM SATAN & THOSE WHO OBEY HIM.

      YOU CAN HAVE (ALL) THE ABOVE, BE ALL THE ABOVE, AND YOU WILL SPEND ETERNITY IN THE LAKE OF FIRE…
       
      WHY?
       
      BECAUSE THE (ONLY) WAY OF SALVATION, AN ETERNITY IN HEAVEN WITH GOD IS THROUGH A ONE ON ONE PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS CHRIST ALONE.

      JESUS CHRIST IS THE ONLY ONE ACCEPTABLE TO ALMIGHTY GOD WHO CAN SAVE & REDEEM ANYONE.

      YOU SAY YOU BELIEVE IN GOD, BUT NOT IN JESUS CHRIST, GOD WILL SAVE YOU. THAT IS A LIE FROM SATAN.

      YOU CAN SAY, I DO NOT BELIEVE IN HELL, HEAVEN, OR ALMIGHTY GOD. WHEN I DIE I RETURN TO DUST…END OF STORY…THERE IS NO ETERNITY…CONGRATULATIONS, YOU HAVE FALLEN FOR THE LIES OF SATAN.

      An individual Christian may not know it, understand it all, or benefit by it all, but to be a Christian is to be a part of community, to be a part of JESUS CHRIST FAMILY.

      To be a Christian means you STAND shoulder to shoulder with millions of Christians who HAVE gone before YOU AND I.

      IN THE EYES OF ALMIGHTY GOD, NONE NOT ONE IS A CHRISTIAN, UNLESS THEY HAVE CALLED UPON THE NAME OF HIS SON JESUS CHRIST AND ASKED JESUS CHRIST TO SAVE THEM. HAVE ASKED JESUS CHRIST TO FORGIVE THEM, & TO COME INTO THEIR HEARTS/LIVES TO BE THEIR LORD AND SAVIOR…

      ANYTHING LESS…ANYTHING LESS THAN THAT, IN THE EYES OF ALMIGHTY GOD IS REJECTION OF HIM AND OF HIS SON JESUS CHRIST!

      ANYTHING LESS…AND OUR SELF-CHOSEN FUTURE & ETERNAL DESTINY IS THE LAKE OF FIRE FOR ETERNITY.

      We STAND with strong Christians and weak Christians; brave Christians and cowardly Christians; old Christians and young Christians. We are part of an invisible, MIGHTY ARMY that spans back through the generations.

      Exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith…This was the GREAT NEED that Jude interrupted his intended letter to address.

      The ancient Greek word translated “contend” comes from the athletic world – from the wrestling mat. It is a strengthened form of the word meaning “to agonize.” Therefore “contend” speaks of hard and diligent work.

      The verb translated contend earnestly is in the present infinitive, showing that the Christian struggle is continuous.

      We contend earnestly for THE FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST because it is PRICELESS. If you walk into an art gallery and there are NO guards or NO sort of security system, you must draw one conclusion: there is NOTHING very valuable in that art gallery, AMEN?

      Valuables ARE protected; worthless things are NOT.

      Exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith…If we emphasize the word you, we see that this was something that Jude wanted each individual Christian to do. There are many ways that every Christian can contend earnestly for the faith.

      HOW DO WE CONTEND?

      We contend for the faith in a POSITIVE sense when we give an unflinching witness, distribute tracts, make possible the training of faithful ambassadors for Jesus, or when we strengthen the hands of faithful pastors who honor the Word of God in their pulpits.

      We CONTEND FOR THE FAITH in a POSITIVE SENSE when we SHINE AND SHOW JESUS by the way we behave, live, reach out, and respond to the lost world. These are a few among many ways that we can contend earnestly for the faith in a positive sense.

      HOW?

      THE CHRISTIAN VERSUS THE LOST WORLD:

      CHRISTIANS PRAY FOR THEIR ENEMIES…THE LOST WORLD/FALSE RELIGIOSITIES SEEKS TO DESTROY THEIR ENEMIES.

      CHRISTIANS STRIVE TO RETURN GOOD FOR EVIL.
      THE LOST WORLD RETURNS EVIL FOR EVIL & EVIL FOR GOOD.

      CHRISTIANS STRIVE TO FORGIVE THEIR ENEMIES.
      THE LOST WORLD PUNISHES THEIR ENEMIES.

      CHRISTIANS SHARE WHAT WE HAVE WITH THOSE IN NEED.
      THE LOST WORLD HOARDS WHAT THEY HAVE.

      CHRISTIANS DO NOT KILL/DESTROY THOSE WHO REJECT THEM.
      THE LOST WORLD DOES BOTH.

      CHRISTIANS BELIEVE THE HOLY BIBLE & PUT THEIR FAITH AND TRUST AND LIVES IN JESUS CHRIST HANDS ALONE.

      THE LOST WORLD BELIEVES IN SELF & TRUSTS IN MANMADE THINGS AND MAN-MADE FALSE IDOLS AND FALSE RELIGIOSITY.

      We contend for the faith in a practical sense when we live uncompromising Christian lives and GIVE ALL CREDIT to the LORD JESUS CHRIST who NOT ONLY SAVED US…BUT DAY BY DAY CHANGES us, PROTECTS US, HEALS US, BLESSES US, PROVIDES FOR US, & LEADS US.

      Obviously, faithful missionaries and evangelists contend earnestly for the faith. But so does the Sunday School teacher, the parent, the grandparent or home group leaders who ARE faithful to THE HOLY BIBLE. People like this contend for the faith just as much as a front-line missionary does, and each one of us should contend for the gospel wherever JESUS CHRIST puts us.

      IN OTHER WORDS…SHINE AND SHOW JESUS WHERE YOU ARE.
      EVERYTHING, GREAT AND SMALL THAT YOU DO FOR JESUS IS PRECIOUS AND PRICELESS.

      Contend earnestly for the faith once for all delivered to the saints: Here, Jude tells us what we are contending for. There is a lot of earnest contention in the world but usually not for the RIGHT things. The faith IN JESUS CHRIST & HIS HOLY BIBLE once for all delivered to the saints=Christians is something worth contending for.

      “THE FAITH” DOES NOT mean OUR OWN PERSONAL BELIEFS.
       
      IT DOES NOT MEAN “THE FAITH” IN A MAN-MADE RELIGION, AN ORGANIZATION, EARTH RELIGIONS, PAGANISM, OR THE ICONIC SPIRITUALITY AND ONENESS WITH ALL THINGS.
       
      ALL OF THAT IS SATAN INSPIRED, MAN CREATED, & MAN ORDAINED….NOT FROM JESUS CHRIST, NOT FROM ALMIGHTY GOD AND HIS HOLY BIBLE.
       
      IT MEANS the essential truths of the gospel that ALL TRUE JESUS CHRIST LOVING AND BELIEVING Christians HOLD IN COMMON.

      IN OTHER WORDS, THE HOLY BIBLE SAYS IT, I BELIEVE ALL OF THE HOLY BIBLE AND THAT SETTLES IT FOR ME.

      “THE FAITH” JUDE IS REFERRING TO IS USED in this sense repeatedly in the New Testament (Acts 6:7; 13:8; 14:22; 16:5; 24:24; Romans 1:5; 16:26; Colossians 2:7, and 1 Timothy 1:2 are just some of the examples)
       
      We must contend earnestly for the truth. “The faith is the body of truth that very early in the church’s history took on a definite form (Acts 2:42; Romans 6:17; Galatians 1:23).”

      AS MY GRANDMOTHER ONCE TOLD ME…WHAT IS HISTORY. IT IS HIS STORY…IT IS ALMIGHTY GOD’S STORY. IT IS JESUS CHRIST STORY…AMEN?

      ONCE means that THE FAITH was delivered ONE time, and doesn’t need to be delivered again. Of course, we distribute this truth again and again. But it was DELIVERED by God to the world through the apostles and prophets once (Ephesians 2:2). God may speak today, but never in the authoritative way that He spoke through the first apostles and prophets as recorded in the New Testament.

      ERDMAN says it best…“There is no other gospel, there will be none. Its content will be more fully understood, its implications will be developed, its predictions will be fulfilled; but it will never be supplemented or succeeded or supplanted.”

      FOR ALL…MEANS WHOSOEVER WILL COME.
      FOR ALL…MEANS THIS FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST is for everybody.

      We DO NOT, IN THE EYES OF ALMIGHTY GOD NOR JESUS CHRIST, have the option to simply MAKE UP OUR OWN FAITH and still be true to God.

      THE BIBLE IS THE INERRANT (THAT MEANS TRUE, PRECISE, ACCURATE) WORD OF THE TRIUNE GOD TO MANKIND.

      BUT TODAY, FAITH FOR ALL, IS NOT POPULAR, IT IS NOT POPULAR to really believe in the faith once for all delivered to the saints.

      THERE ARE THOSE THAT SAY, MANKIND HAS EVOLVED, WE ARE SMARTER, WISER, MORE EDUCATED, MORE SOCIALLY, POLITICALLY, MEDICALLY, AND TECHNOLOGICALLY ADVANCED THAN THOSE ANCIENT PEOPLE THAT LIVED 1000S OF YEARS AGO.

      THEY SAY...THE BIBLE & ITS TEACHINGS ARE PASSE, ANTIQUATED, WORTHLESS…WE HAVE TO UPDATE, REVISE, RECREATE, MAKE NEW, COOLER, HIPPER, MORE NOW RELATED THE WORD…ALL THAT ANCIENT “STUFF” DOES NOT APPLY TO OUR ELITE, ICONIC, WORLD.

      THERE ARE 23 RE-CREATIONS AND REVISIONS OF THE HOLY BIBLE RIGHT NOW…
       
      AND SATAN COULD NOT BE HAPPIER…
       
      TAKE GOD AND JESUS CHRIST OUT OF IT, AND REPLACE IT WITH ENLIGHTENED, MENTAL-ELITISTS EXPOUNDED MODERN LANGUAGE.

      THE MODERN BIBLES BEING CRANKED OUT, I HAVE READ THROUGH SEVERAL AND A SIDE BY SIDE COMPARATIVE TO THE KJV HOLY BIBLE IS MIND-BLOWING.
       
      I CAN PICK A VERSE THAT I KNOW BY HEART, AND READ IT IN THESE NEW VERSIONS AND CAN NOT HEAR OR SEE OR FEEL ANYTHING. AND WHEN I HEAR THESE NEW TRANSLATIONS READ…I HAVE NO CLUE WHERE THE TEXT IS COMING FROM…THAT IS BEYOND WATERED DOWN…THAT IS A WASTE OF TREES.

      THERE ARE THOSE WHO SAY SURE I BELIEVE IN GOD.

      I MEAN I BELIEVE IN A GOD…SOMEWHERE OUT THERE…
       
      BUT JESUS CHRIST IF HE REALLY LIVED AT ALL, WAS JUST A KIND NICE MAN…MAYBE A KIND TEACHER AT BEST. I DO NOT BELIEVE THAT JESUS CHRIST IS THE ONLY BEGOTTEN SON OF GOD. I BELIEVE THE OLD TESTAMENT, BUT NOT THE NEW TESTAMENT…OR I BELIEVE IN THE NEW TESTAMENT AND NOT THE OLD. OR I BELIEVE IN PARTS OF THE BIBLE, BUT NOT ALL OF IT.

      JUDE IS SAYING WHAT ALL OTHERS HAVE SAID SINCE GENESIS…ALMIGHTY GOD, JESUS CHRIST, AND THE HOLY SPIRIT HAVE ALWAYS BEEN. THEY DO NOT CHANGE. THEY DO NOT LIE. AND THEIR WORDS TO US ARE JUST AS RELEVANT TODAY AS THEY WERE IN THE GARDEN OF EDEN.

      YOU EITHER BELIEVE ALL OR YOU MUST REJECT IT ALL.
      THERE IS NOOOOOO MIDDLE GROUND WITH THE TRIUNE GOD.

      WE MAY NOT UNDERSTAND IT ALL…I MEAN THINK ABOUT IT, GOD SAID HE CREATED MAN FROM DUST…WHEN HE COULD HAVE SAID I CREATED ALL LIVING THINGS OUT OF DNA…RIGHT?
       
      AND IT HAS ONLYYYYY TAKEN MANKIND 7000 YEARS TO BEGAN TO SCRATCH THE SURFACE OF WHAT DNA IS….WHAT AN ATOM IS…SO OUR UNDERSTANDING ALL THINGS IS IMPOSSIBLE. WE WILL ONLY UNDERSTAND ALL THINGS ONCE WE ENTER HEAVEN.

      AS WELL, MANY PEOPLE THEN AND NOW, want to believe in the faith they make up as they go along and decide is right for them.

      More people believe in “the faith that is in my heart” than the faith once for all delivered to the saints IN THE HOLY BIBLE.

      WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?

      ROBERT BELLAH GIVES A GREAT VISUAL EXAMPLE. HE wrote about an interview with a young woman named Sheila, whom they described as representing many American’s experience and views on religion. Speaking about her own faith and how it operated in her life, she said: “I believe in God. I’m not a religious fanatic. I can’t remember the last time I went to church. My faith has carried me a long way. It is ‘Sheilaism.’ Just my own little voice.”

      SADLY, WE CAN SAY AND KNOW THAT this highly individualistic faith is the most popular religion in the world, but the idea that we can or should put together our own faith is WRONG.

      THAT IS JUST ANOTHER DECEPTION AND LIE OF SATAN AND THE LOST WORLD.

      Christianity is based on ONE FAITH, which was once for all delivered to the saints FROM ALMIGHTY GOD BY JESUS CHRIST HIMSELF IN HIS MINISTRY AND ON THE CROSS AT CALVARY.

      BASICALLY, YOU EITHER BELIEVE AND FOLLOW ALL OF THE HOLY BIBLE, OR YOU CAN NOT BELIEVE IN ANY OF IT. ALMIGHTY GOD AND JESUS CHRIST WILL ACCEPT NOTHING LESS.

      ANYTHING ELSE THAN BELIEVING AND TRUSTING IN ALL OF THE HOLY BIBLE, EVEN THOUGH WE DO NOT AND CAN NOT UNDERSTAND IT ALL…WE ARE NOT SMART ENOUGH…
       
      BUT TAKING APART THE BIBLE AND BELIEVING SOME OF IT, REJECTING OTHER PARTS OF IT…IS BASICALLY CALLING ALMIGHTY GOD AND JESUS CHRIST A LIAR.

      ALMIGHTY GOD DOES NOT LIE OR CHANGE.

      AND NEITHER DOES JESUS CHRIST.

      NOR DOES THE HOLY SPIRIT, AMEN?


      Verse 4 TELLS US AND WARNS US WE WILL AND NEED TO contend for the faith because there are DANGEROUS MEN AMONG CHRISTIANS.

      “For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.”


      Certain men have crept in unnoticed…In part, this is what makes them SO DANGEROUS – they are unnoticed.
       
      No one noticed that they were dangerous.
       
      They didn’t wear a “Danger: False Teacher” name tag OR “DANGER: DECEIVER OF THE BRETHREN”.
       
      These certain men probably claimed to be more Biblical than anybody else was.

      Crept in means, “To slip in secretly as if by a side door.”

      CHARLES SPURGEON says it best…“Satan knows right well that one devil in the church can do far more than a thousand devils outside her bounds.”


      Who long ago were MARKED OUT for this condemnation…
       
      These certain men/women have a destiny - the destiny of EVERY false teacher and leader.
       
      They ARE MARKED and destined for this condemnation, and it is enough to say that they are ungodly men.
       
      They are ungodly simply in the sense that they are not like God and no matter the outward appearances, they disregard God, The Holy Bible, and Jesus Christ.

      AND HERE IS THE WARNING AND A REMINDER…
       
      They were UNNOTICED by men, but NOT UNNOTICED by God.

      The Lord is not wringing His hands in heaven, worrying about those who deceive others through their teaching and through their lifestyles.
       
      They may be HIDDEN to some believers but as far as God is concerned, their condemnation WAS/IS MARKED OUT long ago.
       
      Their judgment IS assured.

      The truth WILL win out; our responsibility AS JESUS LOVING, BIBLE BELIEVING CHRISTIANS is to be on the side with the truth.

      Who turn the grace of our God into lewdness…
       
      These certain men HAD/HAVE received SOMETHING OF THE GRACE OF GOD, ….BUT WHEN THEY RECEIVED IT, THEY STEP BY STEP, DAY BY DAY, TURNED IT TO COVER AND AS AN EXCUSE for their lewdness.

      WHAT DOES JUDE MEAN HERE BY THE WORD LEWDNESS?

      The idea behind the ancient word lewdness is sin that is practiced WITHOUT shame, WITHOUT any sense of conscience or WITHOUT decency.

      Usually LEWDNESS is used in the sense of sensual sins, such as sexual immorality. But it can ALSO BE USED in the sense of brazen anti-biblical teaching, when the truth is denied and PERSONAL OPINION, NEW AGE IDEAS AND MAN-MADE DOGMA…what ALMIGHTY GOD AND JESUS CHRIST CALL PURE LIES are taught AS GODLY TRUTH without shame.

      FOR US TODAY…it can be the JESUS HAWKERS…SEND US 25 DOLLARS AND WE WILL SEND YOU ANOINTED OIL, A BLESSED, MIRACLE-FILLED PRAYER CLOTH, A NECKLACE, A STATUE, A GONG, INCENSE…THAT ONCE YOU TOUCH IT, CHANT OUR PRAYERS, BURN INCENSE, STRIKE A GONG, YOU ARE HEALED, WEALTHY, WISE, PROTECTED, SEE VISIONS…

      SEND ME A MESSENGER OF GOD, A PROPHET OF GOD, 25 DOLLARS AND I WILL SEE YOUR SINS FORGIVEN…STRIKE THE GONG, WAVE INCENSE, GRAB BEADS, BOW FIVE TIMES TO THE EAST…

      OR I AM ANOINTED OF GOD, REGISTER NOW FOR MY HOLY GHOST CLASSES/REVELATIONS ON PROPHECY, SPEAKING IN TONGUES, DISCERNMENT, WISDOM, LAYING HANDS…AND I WILL TEACH YOU HOW TO DO ALL THE ABOVE.

      ALL THE ABOVE ARE LIES STRAIGHT FROM THE PIT OF HELL AND SATAN’S DECEIVING LIES….
       
      ALL ANYONE NEEDS IS JESUS CHRIST AND HIS WORD….TO ACCOMPLISH WHAT WE ARE CALLED TO DO.

      JUDE IS TELLING ALL THE ABOVE…
       
      YOU HAVE BEEN MARKED BY THE GOD WHO SEES…
       
      ENJOY YOUR WEALTH, FAME, ACCLAIM, AND ICONIC FANS…
       
      I AM NOT DECEIVED AND YOU WILL BE CONDEMNED FOR MISLEADING THE LOST AWAY FROM ME.

      Jude HAD BOTH IDEAS in mind here, because as the rest of the letter will develop, these certain men had BOTH moral problems and doctrinal problems.

      These words of Jude show that there IS A DANGER in preaching grace. There are some who may take the truth of God’s grace and turn the grace of our God through JESUS CHRIST into lewdness. But this doesn’t mean there is anything wrong or dangerous about the message of God’s grace. It simply shows how corrupt the human heart is.

      WHAT DOES JUDE MEAN BY THIS?

      THOSE THAT SAY…SINCE YOU HAVE BEEN SAVED BY JESUS CHRIST GRACE…YOU CAN NOW GO BACK INTO THE WORLD AND LIVE AS YOU PLEASE…YOU NOW HAVE “FIRE” INSURANCE.

      YOU CAN GO BACK TO CHEATING ON YOUR SPOUSE, ABUSING YOUR FAMILY, STEALING, HOARDING, GET BACK INTO THE WORLD AND LIVE AS YOU PLEASE. CONTINUE TO SLEEP AROUND WITH WHOMEVER MALE OR FEMALE, CONTINUE IN THE HOMOSEXUAL LIFESTYLE…YOU HAVE JESUS’ GRACE COVERING YOU, CONTINUE WATCHING PORN, CONTINUE USING JESUS NAME AS AN EXCLAMATION, IF NOT A CURSE USING GOD‘S NAME…NO WORRIES…YOU ARE SAVED BY JESUS GRACE.

      AND AS FAR AS JUDE IS CONCERNED…WHAT THEY ARE REALLY DOING IS….

      Who deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ: These certain men deny the Lord Jesus Christ. They do this by refusing to recognize who Jesus said He was, and therefore they also deny who God the Father is also.

      We are not told specifically how these men deny the only Lord God.
       
      Whether it is WEARING THE JESUS PINS IN PUBLIC, BUT THEIR HEARTS STILL BELONG TO SATAN AND THE WORLD.
       
      It may be that they denied Him with their ungodly living or it may be that they denied Him with their heretical man-created doctrines openly or in their heart of hearts. Probably both were true.

      THE NEWS IS FLOODED DAILY WITH PRIESTS SEXUALLY MOLESTING YOUNG BOYS, STEALING FROM PEOPLE, PREACHERS GETTING CAUGHT IN ADULTEROUS AFFAIRS, CONNING PEOPLE…ALL WHILE THEY PROCLAIM THEY ARE CALLED BY GOD. THE LAKE OF FIRE HAS A SPECIAL PLACE FOR THESE MEN AND WOMEN WHO PROFIT FROM PROSTITUTING OUR JESUS & HIS WORD FOR THEIR OWN FAME, ACCLAIM, WEALTH, AND ICONIC STATUS.

    • July 6, 2016 4:34 AM EDT
    • JUDE 1: PART 2….

      BEGINS WITH VERSE 5

      Verse 5 tells us THREE EXAMPLES THAT SHOW THE CERTAINTY OF GOD’S JUDGMENT AGAINST THESE CERTAIN MEN/WOMEN, WITH THE EXAMPLES OF THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL.

      “But I want to remind you, though you once knew this, that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.”

      But I want to REMIND YOU, though you once knew this: Jude knew he wasn’t telling them anything new. They were already taught this example, but they needed to hear it again and to apply it to their PRESENT situation.

      IN OTHER WORDS, GOD SAYS, I CHOSE THE ISRAELITES. THEY ARE MY CHOSEN PEOPLE. BUT DO NOT THINK THAT AS MY WIFE, THE JEWISH PEOPLE’S BEHAVIOR AND REJECTION AND DISOBEDIENCE WENT UNCHECKED. IF I PUNISH MY WIFE, I WILL PUNISH MY SON’S BRIDE AS WELL.
      JUST AS JESUS TOLD THE SADDUCCES AND THE PHARISEES…JUST BECAUSE YOU ARE JEWS, MY FATHER‘S CHOSEN PEOPLE, DOES NOT MEAN THAT YOU AUTOMATICALLY GO TO HEAVEN REGARDLESS YOUR CHOICES, REGARDLESS THAT YOU REJECT ME. THERE WILL BE JEWS CONDEMNED TO THE LAKE OF FIRE, JUST AS THEIR WILL BE GENTILES THERE.

      Ideally, every Christian would read these allusions to the Old Testament and say, “Yes Jude, I know exactly what you are talking about.” If we DON’T KNOW what Jude wrote about, it shows we NEED TO DEEPEN our understanding of the Bible.

      The Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt…Jude IS REMINDING US OF WHAT HAPPENED IN in Numbers 14.

      God delivered the people of Israel out of slavery in Egypt. They went out of Egypt and without unintended delays came to a place called Kadesh Barnea, on the threshold of the Promised Land. But at Kadesh Barnea, the people REFUSED to trust God and go into the Promised Land of Canaan.

      SO WHAT HAPPENED BECAUSE THEY REFUSED TO TRUST AND OBEY GOD?

      ALMOST NONE OF THE ADULT GENERATION who left Egypt entered into the Promised Land.

      Think of what God did FOR the people of Israel in this situation, and then how they responded to Him.

      THEY SAW GOD SEND PLAGUES ONLY UPON THE EGYPTIANS.
      THEY SAW GOD FREE THEM FROM 400 YEARS OF SLAVERY.
      THEY SAW GOD PART THE RED SEA.
      THEY SAW THE COOL CLOUD BY DAY.
      THEY SAW THE PILLAR OF FIRE BY NIGHT.
      THEY HEARD THE VERY VOICE OF GOD AT MOUNT SINAI. They received His daily care and provision of manna, water, quail in the wilderness.
      Yet EVEN AFTER ALL THAT…they still lapsed into unbelief, and NEVER entered into the place of blessing and rest God had for them.

      Afterward destroyed those who did not believe…AND EVEN WORSE…Those who doubted and rejected God at Kadesh Barnea paid a BIGGER PRICE than just not entering the Promised Land. They also received the JUDGMENT OF GOD.

      Psalm 95:10-11 describes how the Lord reacted to them: “For forty years I was grieved with that generation, and said, ‘It is a people who go astray in their hearts, and they do not know My ways. “So I swore in My wrath, they shall not enter My rest”.

      The WARNING through Jude is clear. The people of Israel started out from Egypt well enough. They had many blessings from God along the way. But they did NOT ENDURE to the end, because they DID NOT BELIEVE God’s promise of power and protection.

      This example gives TWO IMPORTANT REMINDERS.

      FIRST, it assures us that the certain men/women causing trouble WILL certainly be judged, even though they may have started out well in their walk with God. Jude says, “The certain men might have started out well. But so did the children of Israel, and God afterward destroyed those who did not believe.”

      SECOND, it warns us that we also must FOLLOW & TRUST in Jesus to the end, and NEVER BE AMONG those who did not believe.

      WHAT IS JUDE TELLING US?
      The final test of our Christianity is ENDURANCE…ABIDING IN JESUS…COME WHAT MAY. BECAUSE SOME START THE RACE but never finish it.

      THERE IS A NEW CHRISTIAN SONG OUT BY BUILDING 429, WE WON’T BE SHAKEN…THE LYRICS SPEAK PERFECTLY TO WHAT JUDE IS SAYING HERE…

      This world has nothing for me,
      This life is not my own,
      I know you go before me and I am not alone
      This mountain rises higher, The way seems so unclear, but I know that you go with me, So I will never fear
      I will trust in You
      What ever will come our way, Through Fire or Pouring Rain, we won't be shaken,
      What ever tomorrow brings, together we'll rise and see,
      That we won't be shaken, No we won't be shaken
      You know my every longing
      you've heard my every prayer
      you've held me in my weakness
      'Cos you were always there
      So I'll stand in full surrender
      It's your way and not my own
      My mind is set on nothing less
      But you and you alone
      I will not be moved
      What ever will come our way,
      Through Fire or Pouring Rain,
      We won't be shaken, no we won't be shaken

      We will trust in you, we will not be moved
      We will trust in you and we won't be shaken
      What ever will come our way, Through Fire or Pouring Rain, no we won't be shaken, no we won't be shaken.
      What ever tomorrow brings, together we'll rise and see, That we won't be shaken
      No We won't be shaken

      JUDE COULD HAVE WRITTEN THIS SONG FOR US!


      Verse 6 gives us the EXAMPLE OF THE ANGELS who sinned.

      “And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day;”

      Jude’s letter is famous for bringing up obscure and/or controversial points, and this is one of them. Jude speaks of the angels who sinned, who are EVEN NOW IMPRISONED IN CHAINS IN DARKNESS and awaiting a future day of judgment.

      THE HOLY BIBLE ONLY GIVES US TWO PLACES where it speaks of angels sinning.

      FIRST, there was the original rebellion of some angels against God in Isaiah 14:12-14, Revelation 12:4.

      SECOND, there was the sin of the sons of God described in Genesis 6:1-2.

      I have given a complete Holy Bible study on both, so I will not revisit it today. Suffice it to say, this unnatural sexual union between the fallen angels & daughters of man…(BETWEEN DEMON ANGELS & HUMAN WOMEN) was so HEINOUS AND DEMONIC AND DANGEROUS TO THE CONTINUANCE OF MANKIND…that it prompted an incredibly drastic judgment of God - a global flood, wiping out all of mankind except for eight people.

      And those FALLEN ANGELS OF SATAN ARE EVEN NOW reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day. THIS ALSO CONFIRMS THAT FALLEN ANGELS HAD AND ALWAYS HAVE HAD ((LIMITS)) SET UPON THEM BY ALMIGHTY GOD…

      AND IT IS ALSO A REMINDER, If angels WITH SUPERNATURAL POWERS/STRENGTH cannot break the chains sin brought upon them, we are foolish to think that humans can break them. We CAN NOT SET OURSELVES FREE from these chains, but we can only be set free BY JESUS CHRIST, AMEN?

      This reminds us that these angels who sinned with an unnatural sexual union are NO LONGER active. With His radical judgment back in the days of Noah, God PUT AN END to this kind of unnatural sexual union. AND WE WHO HAVE STUDIED THESE SCRIPTURES, ARE TOLD AND KNOW, THAT THIS WAS ANOTHER PLOT AND PLAN OF SATAN…TO SO COMPLETELY POLLUTE THE BLOODLINE OF ALL MANKIND WITH DEMONIC BLOOD….IN ORDER TO PREVENT THE MESSIAH FROM COMING.

      THIS ALSO TELLS US AND SHOWS US THAT EVEN SATAN HIMSELF AND HIS DEMONS FEAR THE WRATH OF ALMIGHTY GOD.

      This example gives two lessons.
      FIRST IT ASSURES US that the certain men CAUSING TROUBLE WILL BE judged, no matter what their spiritual status had been & as well ALL THEIR SELF-SERVING “HOLY, HOLINESS, PROPHET, PROPHETESS, EVANGELIST…PREACHER…REVEREND).

      AND REMEMBER TOO….that at ONE TIME these angels HAD BEFORE THEIR FALL…ENJOYED AND STOOD IN the immediate, glorious presence of God - and now they are in everlasting chains. If God judged the angels who sinned, He will judge these certain men.

      SECOND IT WARNS US that we also must continue walking with Jesus. If the past spiritual experience of these angels didn’t guarantee their future spiritual state, then neither does ours. We must keep walking and be on guard.

      Verse 7 REMINDS US OF THE example of Sodom and Gomorrah.

      “As Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.”

      These two cities (and the cities around them) also stand as examples of God’s judgment. Their sin - which was most conspicuously homosexuality, but included other sins as well - brought forth God’s judgment.

      Sodom and Gomorrah were blessed, privileged places. They were situated in a blessed area: it was well watered everywhere . . . like the garden of the Lord in Genesis 13:10.

      Jude refers to the account in Genesis 19, where the homosexual conduct of the men of Sodom is described.

      Ezekiel 16:49 tells us of other sins of Sodom…“Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.” Sexual depravity was not their only sin, but it was certainly among their sins, and Jude makes this plain.

      You don’t have fullness of food, and abundance of idleness if you don’t have material blessings. But despite their great blessing from God and material prosperity, they sinned and were judged. Because EGO, ARROGANCE, THE FLESH TOLD THEM THAT THEY, NOT ALMIGHTY GOD WERE RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL THEY HAD.

      AND HERE JUDE TELLS US SOMETHING ELSE…Suffering the vengeance of eternal fire means Sodom and Gomorrah were not ONLY destroyed with fire from heaven, BUT THAT WAS JUST THE BEGINNING OF THEIR judgment by fire. Far worse than what happened in Genesis 19, they suffered the vengeance of ETERNAL FIRE…NOT ONE PERSON FROM SODOM AND GOMORRAH AND ITS SURROUNDING AREAS WILL BE IN HEAVEN…THEY ALL SIT IN THE WAITING PRISON OF HELL FOR THE GREAT WHITE THRONE JUDGMENT.

      This example gives TWO MORE LESSONS…

      FIRST….it assures us that the certain men causing trouble will be judged, no matter how much they had been blessed in the past. Just as Sodom and Gomorrah were once wonderfully blessed but eventually suffered the vengeance of eternal fire, so will it be with these certain men.

      SECOND…it warns us that we also must continue walking with Jesus. If the blessings of the past didn’t guarantee their future spiritual state, then neither does ours. ONE ON ONE RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS IS A DAILY WALK…NOT A WHEN WE ENCOUNTER TRIALS, TROUBLES, NEEDS, WANTS OR ONE DAY A WEEK OR JUST DURING CHRISTIAN HOLIDAYS…IT IS AND MUST BE A DAY TO DAY WALK, AMEN?

      Verse 8 tells us MORE SINS & THE CHARACTER OF THESE DANGEROUS CERTAIN MEN.

      “Likewise also these dreamers defile the flesh, reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries.”

      Likewise also…Jude connected the certain men with the people of Sodom and Gomorrah in their sensuality (defile the flesh) and in their rejection of God’s authority (reject authority).

      When Jude pointed out that these certain men reject authority, it meant that THEY WANTED TO BE IN AUTHORITY…THEY ELEVATE THEMSELVES ON EQUAL GROUND WITH ALMIGHTY GOD, THEY BELIEVE, TEACH, AND SAY THAT THEY ARE GOD ON EARTH, HIS PERSONAL MESSENGERS, AND DISMISSED THE AUTHORITY OF ALMIGHTY GOD AND THOSE GOD SENT AND PUT IN AUTHORITY.

      SOCIAL AND POLITICAL CORRECTNESS, THEN AND NOW, IN OUR CULTURE…ENCOURAGES THE SODOM AND GOMORRAH MIND SET.

      WHAT DO I MEAN BY THIS?

      Today, our culture encourages us to reject authority and to recognize I,I,I,I,….ME, ME, ME,…as the ONLY real authority in our lives.

      CHRISTIANS CAN DO THIS with the Bible, by choosing to only believe certain passages AND DISMISSING OR REJECTING THE REST.

      CHRISTIANS CAN DO THIS with our beliefs, by choosing at the “salad bar” of religion. Or we can do it with our lifestyle, by making OUR OWN RULES and not recognizing the proper authorities God has established, DELIVERED, AND FULFILLED IN HIS SON JESUS CHRIST.

      JUDGES 21:25...TELLS US THAT THE “MY OWN RULES & MEISTIC MIND SET IS NOTHING NEW….“In the darkest days of Israel, society was characterized by a term: every man did what was right in his own eyes.”

      Today, this is the pattern of all the world and especially Western civilization.

      These dreamers…Jude REMINDS US THAT THEN AND NOW the certain men were out of touch with reality & CLAIMED TO HAVE PROPHETIC DREAMS/VISIONS/VISITATIONS/WORKING MIRACLES which were nothing more than SELF DECEPTION INTENDED TO ELEVATE THEIR OWN IMPORTANCE BEFORE MEN AT BEST…AND DECEPTIONS OF SATAN AND HIS DEMONS AT WORST.

      Speak evil of dignitaries…Probably these dignitaries were the apostles or other leaders in the church. Their rejection of authority was connected with their speaking evil of dignitaries.

      VERSES 9 GIVES US A POWERFUL EXAMPLE TO CONSIDER AND FOLLOW. Michael the archangel as an example of someone who would not speak evil of dignitaries.

      “Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him (SATAN HIMSELF) a reviling accusation, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”

      Michael the archangel . . . the devil: Jude mentioned two kinds of angelic beings. Michael is among the angelic beings faithful to God, who are the servants of God and man. The devil is among the angelic beings rebelling against God, who are the enemies of man.

      THE BIBLE TELLS US THERE ARE INVISIBLE, angelic beings all around us. There are THE MINISTERING SPIRITS sent by God to assist us, and THE DEMONIC SPIRITS SENT & WHO want to defeat us.

      The devil can’t unsave a saved person; but through his deceptions he can corrupt and defile a Christian who is supposed to walk in purity and freedom. To the devil, CHRISTIANS WHO LOVE JESUS CHRIST, are time bombs, ready to wreck his work – bombs that he would like to defuse and make ineffective.

      Many people today, even THOSE RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS AND CULTS don’t believe the devil exists, but the Bible says he does. Or, if they believe he exists, they think of him in funny images created in the Middle Ages.

      Back then, miracle plays were a chief form of ENTERTAINMENT. They were sort of a pageant where religious stories were acted out on stage.

      DID YOU KNOW….The audience learned to look for ONE character that was always dressed in red, wore horns on his head, and had a tail dangling behind him. His shoes looked like cloven hoofs, and he had a pitchfork in his hand. The audience was amused by this silly characterization of Satan, and got the idea that he was sort of a comical character AND HARMLESS. The devil doesn’t mind being thought of this way. HE WANTS MANKIND TO DISMISS HIM OR TO THINK HIM HARMLESS…AND THEREFORE APPROACHABLE…WHEN THE BIBLE TELLS US TO FLEE FROM ALL EVIL.

      Michael the archangel: This angelic being is mentioned by name in four passages of the Bible: Daniel 10, Daniel 12, Revelation 12 and here in Jude. Every time Michael appears, it is in the context of battle or readiness to fight. He is an archangel, which simply means a “leading angel.”

      AND UNDERSTAND THIS….SATAN AND THE WORLD STRIVE TO PUT JESUS AND SATAN AS OPPOSITES ON THE SAME LEVEL…SAME RANK.

      BUT THAT IS A LIE. THAT IS THE IGNORANCE OF LOST MANKIND AND ARROGANCE OF SATAN HIMSELF.

      If the devil has an opposite, it certainly isn’t JESUS CHRIST.
      It is Michael the archangel – another high ranking angelic being.

      When he disputed about the body of Moses: This is another obscure reference by Jude. The last we read about the body of Moses is in Deuteronomy 34:5-6:.. “So Moses, the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord. And He buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, opposite Beth Peor; but no one knows the grave to this day.”

      JUDE DOES NOT TELL US WHERE OR FROM WHOM HE received his information about this dispute, BUT KNOWING OUR JESUS CHRIST, JUDE WAS GIVEN A UNIQUE REVELATION DURING THE WRITING OF THIS LETTER.

      AND WE LEARN SOMETHING ELSE….MEN DID NOT BURY MOSES….ALMIGHTY GOD DID HIMSELF!

      THE BIBLE DOES NOT TELL US WHY THERE WAS A DISPUTE ABOUT MOSES BODY, BUT HAVING READ THE OLD AND NEW TESTAMENT…IT IS MOST PROBABLY ANOTHER ATTEMPT OF SATAN TO STOP AND DERAIL THE PLANS OF ALMIGHTY GOD.

      WHY?

      BECAUSE THE BIBLE TELLS US IN MATTHEW 17:1-3, THAT MOSES APPEARED IN BODILY FORM, LONG AFTER HIS DEATH, at the Transfiguration with Elijah (whose body was caught up to heaven in 2 Kings 2). Perhaps also Moses and Elijah are the TWO WITNESSES of Revelation 11, and God needed Moses’ body for that future plan.

      But for Jude, the MAIN POINT IS NOT WHY MICHAEL was disputed, but ON HOW MICHAEL DISPUTED SATAN.

      “The Lord rebuke you!” The manner of Michael’s fight is a model for OUR spiritual warfare. First, we see that Michael was in a battle. Second, we see that he battled with the Lord’s authority.

      NOT HIS OWN….ONLY USING JESUS CHRIST AUTHORITY.

      THIS ALSO ANSWERS AN OLD DEBATE…AND PROVES THAT Michael is NOT Jesus, as some heretical groups have thought. Jesus rebuked the devil in HIS OWN AUTHORITY, but Michael did not.

      The point of contrast is that Michael could not reject the devil’s accusation on his own authority.

      AND NEITHER CAN WE…WE SEE EXORCISTS & DEMON HUNTERS SEEKING TO DESTROY AND CAST OUT DEMONS IN THEIR OWN AUTHORITY AND POWER…I have seen documentaries where THESE SELF-SERVING EGOCENTRICS…EXORCISTS SAY….“I REBUKE YOU, I COMPEL YOU TO LEAVE!” For hours on end. THAT SHOULD TELL US, AND SHOW US, THAT they have NO PART OF JESUS CHRIST IN THEIR TRUE HEART OF HEARTS!”

      ALSO WE SEE…Michael dared not bring against him a reviling accusation. Michael did not mock or accuse the devil. God hasn’t called us to judge the devil, to condemn the devil, to mock him or accuse him, but to battle against him ALWAYS USING AND IN THE POWER AND AUTHORITY OF JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD, AMEN!

    • July 6, 2016 4:31 AM EDT
    • JUDE: PART 3.…

      BEGINS AT VERSE 10.…

      Verse 10 gives us MORE OF THE BAD CHARACTER OF CERTAIN MEN..

      “But these speak evil of whatever they do not know; and whatever they know naturally, like brute beasts, in these things they corrupt themselves.”

      In contrast to Michael, who would not even speak evil of the devil, these certain men spoke evil, especially when they rejected authority and spoke against dignitaries.

      The certain men DID NOT EVEN KNOW the things or the people they spoke evil about. Their evil speech was made worse by their ignorance. THIS REMINDS US OF THE BLACKNESS AND DANGER OF EGO…SELF…ME…I…WHEN WE BEGIN TO REPLACE JESUS CHRIST SAYS…IT IS WRITTEN….THE BIBLE TELLS US….WITH I SAY….I BELIEVE…I TEACH…I KNOW…we are in SERIOUS SPIRITUAL TROUBLE.

      Since they also spoke against dignitaries and rejected authority, these certain men did not know about true spiritual leadership and authority - so they found it easy to speak evil against it.

      Whatever they know naturally, like brute beasts, in these things they corrupt themselves…JUDE IS TELLING US THAT THESE MEN PRETEND TO BE GODLY, SPIRITUAL, HEAVEN INSPIRED… but their only REAL knowledge was really natural. Even what they knew naturally, they still used to corrupt themselves with an unspiritual mind. THEY WILLINGLY AND READILY DECEIVED THEMSELVES FIRST…THEN IT IS EASY TO DECEIVE OTHERS.

      Brute beasts can be smart or clever in an instinctive way, but they obviously do not have spiritual knowledge. It was the same way with these certain men.

      Three BIBLICAL examples of THESE certain men.

      Verse 11 tells us FIRST the certain men have gone in the way of Cain.

      “Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain,”

      The way of Cain: Cain’s story is found in Genesis 4. Each of the sons of Adam and Eve brought an offering to the Lord. Cain (being a farmer) brought an offering from his harvest. Abel (being a shepherd) brought an offering from his flocks. God accepted Abel’s offering, but He rejected Cain’s sacrifice.

      Many people WRONGLY ASSUME AND TEACH that because Abel brought a BLOOD sacrifice and Cain brought a GRAIN sacrifice, that the difference between the two offerings was sacrificial blood. But the real difference was between FAITH AND UNBELIEF.

      Hebrews 11:4 makes this plain…“By FAITH Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks.”

      Cain’s sacrifice was probably more pleasing to the senses than the carcass of a dead lamb, but Cain‘s sacrifice was offered without faith, it was DUTY & RITUAL…NOT LOVE, FAITH, AND TRUST…THE GOD WHO SEES read CAIN’S HEART…NOT HIS GIFTS…and therefore it was unacceptable to God.

      THIS REMINDS US WE CAN GIVE to God whatever you have or whatever you are, but you must offer it in faith, love, & with a willing joyous heart…NOT OUT OF RITUALISTIC DUTY.

      The way of Cain: Genesis 4:5 says that after God rejected his sacrifice, Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. He became angry because he knew he was rejected by God. In a fit of anger Cain murdered Abel, and then he lied about it to God.

      1 John 3:12 tells us that Cain murdered his brother because Abel’s works were righteous (by faith), while Cain’s own were wicked. Cain’s lack was not in works, but in faith.

      Jude says that Cain typifies a way that the certain men follow in. It is the way of unbelief and empty religion, of pomp, circumstance, ritual…but without a faith filled heart and the “my gift is BIGGER AND BETTER than your gift”….leads ONLY to jealousy, persecution of the truly godly, and eventually to murderous anger.

      2 Timothy 3:5 confirms this…“There is no greater curse on the earth than empty, vain religion; those who have a form of godliness but denying its power.” No wonder Paul added, and from such people turn away!

      Many Christians are afraid of secular humanism or atheism or the world, but JUDE IS TELLING US that DEAD RELIGION is far more dangerous, and sends more people to hell than anything else. These certain men were in the way of Cain, the way of dead religion.

      Verse 11b tells us these certain men are in the error of Balaam.

      “Have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit,”

      WHAT DOES JUDE MEAN BY THE ERROR OF BALAAM?

      Balaam’s story is in Numbers 22 to 25 and 31. During the time of the Exodus, Israel advanced to the land of Moab, after defeating the Amorites. When the Israelites came near, King Balak of Moab sought the help of a Hebrew prophet named Balaam.

      Numbers 22:12 tells us in short…The first delegation from King Balak arrived and God told Balaam to have nothing to do with them. God’s initial words to Balaam were, “You shall not go with them; you shall not curse the people, for they are blessed”.

      BUT…After the first visit another, more PRESTIGIOUS delegation came with GREATER riches. Balaam wanted to go with them and God allowed him to go. Balaam LUSTED AFTER THE RICHES & PRESTIGE OFFERED TO HIM OVER GOD…and God gave him over to his own sin.
      God warned Balaam to turn back when he was on the way to see Balak. Yet his heart was set on the rich reward King Balak promised and he continued on. Balaam even ignored a talking donkey, sent to warn him to turn back.

      Balaam knew that he has done wrong. In Numbers 22:34, he said to God “I have sinned . . . Now therefore, if it displeases You, I will turn back.” EMPTY WORDS…BECAUSE BALAAM DID NOTTTT TURN back. He continued on, refusing to see that when God says no, we must take it as a no. Instead, God gave Balaam what his sinful heart desired.

      After meeting with King Balak of Moab, Balaam prophesied over Israel four times. But as he spoke forth God’s word, he did not curse Israel – HE COULD NOT…INSTEAD he blessed them each time. When he was unsuccessful in cursing Israel, Balaam advised Balak on how to bring Israel under a curse. Instead of trying to have a prophet curse them, he should lead them into fornication and idolatry and then God would curse a disobedient Israel.

      Balak did just that, sending his young women into the camp of Israel to lead Israel into sexual immorality and idolatry. Because of their sin, God did curse Israel - He brought a plague of judgment upon Israel that killed 24,000. Therefore Balaam was guilty of the greatest of sins: deliberately leading others into sin. Worse yet, he did it for money.

      Greedily in the error of Balaam for profit…The greedy error of Balaam was that he was WILLING TO COMPROMISE EVERYTHING FOR MONEY, ICONIC FAME, & SOCIAL AND POLITICAL CLOUT. The certain men Jude warned about HAD/HAVE the same heart.

      Many Christians would never deny Jesus under persecution, but might deny Him if offered a large sum of money. There is not a single sin that corrupt man will not commit for the sake of money. Covetousness is such a dangerous sin that it killed Jesus - 30 pieces of silver helped put Jesus on the cross.

      Have run greedily is a strong picture of excessive indulgence. But Paul also uses the same term for the extravagant way God loves us: the love of God has been poured out in our hearts in Romans 5:5.

      Verse 11c tells us of the THIRD KIND OF SIGNS OF A DANGEROUS CERTAIN MEN…in the rebellion of Korah.

      “And perished in the rebellion of Korah.”

      WHO IS KORAH?

      Korah’s story is found in Numbers 16. He was a prominent man in Israel, and one day came to Moses, saying, “You take too much upon yourself, for all the congregation is holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them. Why then do you exalt yourself about the congregation of the Lord?”

      Korah and his followers RESENTED THE AUTHORITY & LEADERSHIP FAVOR God GAVE Moses.

      When Korah said this, Moses fell on his face, knowing God’s judgment would soon come. Moses then proposed a test: each group took censers (for burning incense) and came before the Lord. The Lord Himself would choose which man He wanted to represent Him: Moses or Korah.

      SO WHAT HAPPENED?

      When they, KORAH AND HIS 24,OOO FOLLOWERS and MOSES came before God, the Lord told Moses to step away.

      WHY?

      The INSTANT MOSES STEPPED BACK AND AWAY FROM KORAH AND HIS 24, OOO FOLLOWERS, the ground opened up and swallowed Korah and his followers. AND WORSE, BEFORE THE EYES OF ALL THOSE WATCHING THIS, THEN FIRE came down from heaven and burned up all of his supporters. They all perished.

      Korah was a Levite, but not of the priestly family of Aaron. As a Levite, he had had his own God-appointed sphere of ministry, yet he was NOT CONTENT with WHAT GOD HAS GIVEN HIM…He wanted the ministry AND the authority of Moses TOO.

      THIS TEACHES US ALL…we should work hard to fulfill everything God has called us to be. At the same time, we should NEVER try to be what God has NOT called us to be.

      This was also a rejection of God’s appointed leaders, especially God’s appointed Mediator. When the certain men rejected authority and spoke evil against dignitaries, they walked in the rebellion of Korah.

      These THREE MEN came from VERY DIFFERENT BACKGROUNDS…Cain was a farmer, Balaam was a prophet, and Korah was a leader in Israel. THIS SHOWS US AND TELLS US THAT APOSTASY IS AN EQUAL-OPPORTUNITY DESTROYER. IT IS NO RESPECTER OF PERSONS. AND THAT Apostasy is never confined to one group of people.

      JUDE IS TELLING US TO BEWARE…there ARE apostates in the pulpit, in the palace, and in the poorhouse.


      What the future holds for these certain men.

      Verses 12-13 gives us a VIVID description of the depravity of these certain men.

      “These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves. They are clouds without water, carried about by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots; raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.”

      Spots in your love feasts…WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?

      The early Christians often met for a common meal, something like a potluck dinner. They called these meals love feats, or “Agape Feasts.” When these CERTAIN MEN came, they were serving ONLY themselves. They ate greedily at the love feasts while others went hungry.

      At the Agape Feast, everybody brought what they could - some a little, some a lot; but they ALL SHARED IT together. For some slaves who were Christians it might have been the ONLY DECENT MEAL they regularly ate. The GREED, GUTTONY, AND SELFISHNESS of these certain men spoiled the fellowship.

      1 Corinthians 11:17-34 describes a similar problem in the Corinthian church, which PAUL SPEAKS TO SAYS…

      Sadly, the Corinthian Christians were ALSO acting selfishly at their common meals. EACH one takes his own supper ahead of the others, and one is hungry and another is drunk. Their selfish conduct at the common meal was DISGRACING their observance of the Lord’s Supper.
      In the modern church, the Lord’s Supper is commonly celebrated in an atmosphere of dignity. But the Corinthian Christians were coming from a culture where the pagans would commonly have wild, riotous banquets given in honor of a pagan god. This is how it might not seem so strange to the Corinthian Christians to even get drunk and a church common meal.

      Why would some be hungry at the church common meals?

      Because among the Corinthian Christians, some were more wealthy than others, and the poorer ones were being neglected (Or do you . . . shame those who have nothing?).

      In that day, at common meals, it was expected that the “upper class” would receive better and more food than the “lower class.” This cultural custom was being carried over into the church, and the Christians weren’t really sharing with one another. At the agape feast, the rich brought more food and the poor brought less food; but in Corinth they were not sharing the food fairly.

      Ancient culture, much more than modern American culture, was extremely CLASS CONSCIOUS. It was respect of these class divisions which so grieved Paul.

      Paul’s message is both strong and plain. “If you want to eat or drink selfishly, do it at home!” Paul makes it clear: I do not praise you is repeated THREE TIMES in this brief section. PAUL WAS NOT happy with the Corinthian Christians at this point!


      SO….JUDE IS TELLING US THAT IT ALWAYS RUINS FELLOWSHIP WHEN WE COME TO CHURCH WITH A SELFISH…“I BETTER BE BLESSED BY TAKING THE TIME TO COME HERE TODAY….NO ONE BETTER BE IN MY SEAT, THIS SERMON BETTER SPEAK TO ME…INSTEAD OF WHO AND HOW CAN I BE A BLESSING TO OTHERS HERE TODAY.

      JUDE IS SAYING…MANY who would never eat selfishly at a church meal still come to church concerned with serving only themselves.

      Serving only themselves: Literally in the ancient Greek this is “shepherding themselves”. In other words, EGO AND ARROGANCE MADE THEM SHEPHERDS BUT ONLY INTERESTED IN SHEPHERDING THEMSELVES.

      “Clouds without water, carried by the winds…”

      WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?

      THINK ABOUT IT…Clouds without water are good for nothing. They bring no life-giving rain and they only block out the sun. They exist just for themselves. The certain men were like these clouds…EMPTY CLOUDS – good for nothing, carried by the winds, floating on the breeze from one fad to another.

      “Late autumn trees without fruit…”

      WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?

      THINK ABOUT IT…By late autumn, trees SHOULD HAVE fruit. But these certain men DID NOT BEAR FRUIT even when they should. They were like trees that ONLY TAKE INSTEAD OF GIVE.

      “Raging waves of the sea…”

      WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?

      For modern man, the sea is often a thing of POWER, WONDER, AND BEAUTY. But to ancient man, especially in Biblical cultures, the sea was an UNMANAGEABLE TERROR & DEMONIC.

      Isaiah 57:20 expresses this idea: “But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt.”

      These certain men were/are BUSY & ACTIVE like the raging waves of the sea, but all it brought was foaming up their own shame.

      Busyness is no mark of correctness. The fruit of these men was like the foam or scum at the seashore. Jude has in mind the ugly shoreline after a storm has washed up all sorts of driftwood, seaweed, dead sea creatures, scum from the ocean floor, and debris.

      “Wandering stars…”

      WHAT DOES JUDE MEAN?

      WANDERING STARS ARE LIKE COMETS…streaking through the sky, these certain men did/do astonish the world FOR A TIME, and then VANISH INTO THE DARKNESS. An unpredictable star was NO GOOD for guidance and navigation. Even so these deceivers were/are USELESS AND UNTRUSTWORTHY.

      “Blackness of darkness forever…”

      NOT HARD TO FIGURE THIS OUT…RIGHT?

      THIS DESCRIBES THEIR DESTINY…THEIR ETERNAL DESTINY… Unless they repent, change their ways, they WILL end up in hell, & from there…THE LAKE OF FIRE - and be there FOREVER.
      JUDE IS RECONFIRMING THAT THE PUNISHMENT OF THE WAITING PRISON OF HELL BEFORE SENTENCING TO THE LAKE OF FIRE IS FOREVERRRRRRRRRR, because mere man is paying for his own sins, offering an imperfect sacrifice which must be repeated over and over again for eternity. A perfect man can offer a single sacrifice; but an imperfect man must continually offer a sacrifice.

      WHAT JUDE IS SAYING IS OUR obligations to God are INFINITE and can therefore ONLY BE SATISFIED in Jesus, an infinite person. WE CAN NEVER EARN HEAVEN…WE CAN NOT LIVE PURE ENOUGH, GIVE ENOUGH, BE MORAL AND UPRIGHT ENOUGH IN AND OF OURSELVES. WE NEED INFINITE PERFECTION. WE NEEDDDDDDD JESUS, AMEN?


      Verses 14-15 tells us the CERTAINTY of judgment upon these certain men.

      “Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”

      Now Enoch: Here Jude quoted from Enoch, who is described in Genesis 5 and mentioned in Hebrews 11. The ancient book of Enoch was NOT received as ALMIGHTY GOD ORDAINED Scripture, but PARTS OF IT was highly respected among both the Jews and early Christians.

      Jude did NOT quote from Enoch to tell us anything NEW, but to give a vivid description of what the Bible already teaches. The Apostle Paul also quoted non-Biblical sources on at least three different occasions (Acts 17:28, 1 Corinthians 15:33 and Titus 1:12). This WAS NOT to proclaim a new truth, but TO SUPPORT an already established Biblical principle from secular history/man.

      AND MAKE NO MISTAKE…Jude’s quoting of the book of Enoch doesn’t mean that the whole book of Enoch is GOD inspired Scripture - ONLY the portion Jude quotes. In the same way, when Paul quoted a pagan poet, he didn’t mean that the entire work of the poet was inspired by God. ONLY THOSE THINGS WHICH YEA AND AMEN THE HOLY BIBLE.

      To convict all who are ungodly: In this quotation from the book of Enoch Jude emphasized the words ALL and UNGODLY. God is coming to judge all of the ungodly.

      To execute judgment on all: Many people take the judgment of God lightly. But the most important question in the world is “Will God judge me? Am I accountable to Him?” If we are truly accountable to God, then those who REJECT JESUS CHRIST, REFUSE TO SHINE AND SHOW OUR JESUS…better prepare to face that judgment.

      Think of someone arrested for a crime, with a date to appear in court - but made absolutely no preparation for their appearance before the judge. That person would be a fool. We shouldn’t be so foolish, and instead take advantage of our court-appointed advocate – Jesus Christ (1 John 2:1).

      Verses 16-18 tells us THE METHODS of the certain men.

      “These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage. But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts.”

      GRUMBLERS AND COMPLAINERS . . . they mouth great swelling words, flattering people: Jude noticed that their methods ALL revolved around WORDS. On top of their questionable lives, they were/are essentially a people of deception, departing from the foundation of Jesus Christ, and the apostles and prophets.

      These are grumblers, complainers…These people were complainers. It has rightly been observed that whenever a man gets out of touch with God he is likely to begin complaining about something.

      FLATTERING PEOPLE…These certain men knew how to use smooth, flattering words to get an advantage over other people. They would say anything - good or bad - to get an advantage.

      “But you, beloved, remember…”
      JUDE REMINDS JESUS BELOVEDS…WE ARE TO BE DIFFERENT. We are to remember what Jesus and the apostles said, which were spoken by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. The word of God IS ALWAYS THE ANSWER to dangers in or out of the church.

      The apostles WARNED US AS WELL….that just these things would happen; and even more so as the day approaches.

      2 Timothy 4:3-4 SAYS…“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.”

      There would be MOCKERS IN THE LAST TIME… Perhaps Jude had in mind those who mock the idea of Jesus’ return. Or he may mean the kind of men who mock those who don’t go along the same path of destruction they travel on.

      MOCKERS . . . who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts: Those who live according to their own ungodly lusts love to mock those who WANT AND STRIVE to please JESUS CHRIST. Jude wants Christians to EXPECT this kind of mocking, so they won’t be HURT OR SURPRISED by it.

    • July 6, 2016 4:29 AM EDT
    • JUDE--PART 4

      BEGINS AT VERSE 19



      Verse 19 tells us The spiritual status of these certain men.

      “These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit.”

      Essentially, these men were NOT spiritual; they were carnal and insensitive to the Holy Spirit.

      Sensual in this context has nothing to do with sexual attractiveness. It describes the person who lives only by and for what they can get through their physical senses, and they live this way selfishly. Their motto is, “If it feels good, do it” or, “How can it be wrong if it feels so right?” “What I say or do in THE PRIVACY OF my own house is my business, not GOD’S, CHURCH, NOR MANS! ”

      Who CAUSE DIVISIONS: These certain men had an instinct to separate themselves and make divisions. “The word, found only once in the Bible, denotes those superior people who keep themselves to themselves - Christian Pharisees.”

      NOT having THE SPIRIT: This same description could be written over many churches, or church projects, or evangelism campaigns, or home groups, or even individual Christian lives. The church and the world truly need genuinely spiritual men and women today.

      What to do about the danger of the certain men.

      Significantly, Jude does NOT tell us to attack the certain men who ARE A DANGER to the church. Instead, he tells us to FOCUS on OUR WALK WITH JESUS, help others affected by the certain men, and to focus on JESUS. We simply are to pay the certain men no attention, except for what is necessary for our warning. God will take care of them.

      A REALISTIC EXAMPLE FOR US IS THIS…

      When people, who SAY THEY ARE CHRISTIAN STATE:

      WE ARE ALL GOD’S CHILDREN. THAT IS NOT TRUE!

      THE BIBLE TELLS US THAT ALL MANKIND IS CREATED IN HIS IMAGE…BUT ONLY THOSE WHO LOVE JESUS CHRIST AND CALL HIM LORD AND SAVIOR…BECOME CO-HEIRS WITH CHRIST AND THEN BECOME GOD’S CHILDREN.

      OR THEY SAY…I AM A SPIRITUALIST, I BELIEVE IN GOD & ALL PATHS LEAD TO GOD. JESUS CHRIST REFUTES THIS WHEN HE SAYS…I AM THE WAY, THE TRUTH, AND THE LIFE, NO MAN COMES TO THE FATHER EXCEPT THROUGH ME.

      DO NOT ATTACK THEM…USE THE BIBLE AND ITS PROMISES & TEACHINGS TO COUNTER WHAT IS SAID.

      IT YOU ARE REALLY A CHRISTIAN, REALLY SAVED, REALLY BAPTIZED…YOU WILL INSTANTLY BEGIN TO SPEAK IN TONGUES AND PROPHECY…THAT IS NOT TRUE!

      1 CORINTHIANS 12:11 SAYS… “But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally AS HE WILL.” WE DO NOT PICK AND CHOOSE, WE DO NOT INSTANTLY MANIFEST ANY OF THE GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT UNTIL HE DEEMS WE NEED IT… THE HOLY SPIRIT DECIDES…NOT MAN.

      Verses 20-21 tells us to take a look inward.

      “But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.”

      Keep yourselves IN THE LOVE of God…

      Romans 5:6 TELLS US…We know that God loves even the ungodly. Therefore Jude doesn’t mean, “Live in such a way to make yourself lovable to God.” Instead, to keep yourselves in the love of God means to keep yourself in harmony with God’s ever-present love.

      But we should understand what it means when the Bible says that GOD LOVES THE UNGODLY.

      The significance of the idea that God loves us all has been twisted considerably.

      THINK ABOUT the sinner who defends his sinful practice by saying “God loves me just the way I am.” His implication is that “God loves me; I must be pretty good.” Actually, the fact that God loves him is a reflection on God’s goodness, not his own goodness. The perspective isn’t, “I’m so great that even God loves me,” but “God is so great that He loves even me.”

      EVERY DAY, IN SMALL AND LARGE WAYS, WE SEE THE SUBTLE TWISTING AND PERVERTING OF GOD’S WORD BY SATAN AND BY MANKIND WHO LISTENS TO HIM.

      God’s love extends everywhere, and nothing can separate us from it. But we can deny ourselves the benefits of God’s love. People who don’t keep themselves in the love of God end up living as if they are on the dark side of the moon. The sun is always out there, always shining, but they are never in a position to receive its light or warmth.

      An example of this is the Prodigal Son of Luke 15, who was always loved by the father, but for a time he did not benefit from it.

      Building yourselves up on your most holy faith: This is one way that we can keep ourselves in the love of God. It means to keep growing spiritually, and to keep building up. Jude tells us, “build yourselves up on your most holy faith.” This means that WE are responsible for OUR OWN spiritual growth. It means that we cannot wait for spiritual growth to just happen, a bolt from Heaven to instantly change us or expect others to make us grow.

      WE MUST SEEK JESUS….STUDY HIS WORD TO COME TO HAVE A DEEPER AND CLOSER RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS.

      THINK ABOUT IT…WHEN WE LOVE SOMEONE…WE GET CLOSE…WE STAY IN TOUCH…WE WANT TO UNDERSTAND THEM…WE WANT TO KNOW THEM ON A DEEP PERSONAL LEVEL, RIGHT?

      JESUS CHRIST WANTS THE SAME. HE KNOWS FOR US TO REMAIN STAY, STRONG, AND ENCOURAGED AND HOPEFUL…WE NEEEEEEEED TO PRAY, TALK TO JESUS, AND STUDY…NOT JUST READ IT….BUT MEDITATE ON HIS WORD…TO STRENGTHEN US AND FOR US TO HAVE A BETTER KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING OF JUST WHO OUR JESUS CHRIST REALLLLLLLLLY IS, AMEN?

      Jude has shown us the frailty of men and how deceivers even infiltrated the church. If you ENTRUST your spiritual growth to A PERSON, A RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATION, A FAD, A TREND, AN ICONIC IDEOLOGY, TO ANYTHING OR ANYONE BUT THROUGH STUDY OF JESUS WORD, SEEKING HIM OUT, PRAYING ALL THINGS UP INTO JESUS HANDS, it will not only hurt your spiritual growth, but it may also lead you astray.

      Others CAN AND MAY help provide an environment conducive for spiritual growth. But NO ONE can make another person grow in their relationship with the Lord.

      I HAVE COUNSELED INDIVIDUALS AND FAMILIES, WHO ARE BROKEN, AND HAVE HAD CHILDREN SAY IN GROUP COUNSELING…MY PARENTS NEVER KNEW ME. I NEVER KNEW I MATTERED…I NEVER KNEW I WAS LOVED. AND THE AGGRIEVED PARENTS COME BACK WITH OF COURSE WE KNOW YOU. OF COURSE YOU MATTERED. OF COURSE WE LOVE YOU. AND I ASK THE PARENTS…HOW DID YOU SHOW THEM? DID YOU TELL THEM YOU LOVE THEM? DO YOU KNOW THEIR FRIENDS? THEIR TEACHERS? WHAT THEIR FAVORITE SUBJECT IS? WHAT ACTIVITIES THEY LIKE? AND SADLY, MORE TIMES THAN NOT, THE PARENTS CAN NOT ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS. AND THEY COME BACK WITH I FED THEM, I CLOTHED THEM, I CAME HOME EACH DAY. I PROVIDED A ROOF OVER THEIR HEADS…I DID NOT SAY THE WORDS…BUT THEY SHOULD HAVE KNOWN IT.

      JUDE TELLS US WE AS CHRISTIANS AND ESPECIALLY AS CHRISTIAN PARENTS MUST TELL OUR CHILDREN ABOUT JESUS, WHO HE IS, WHAT HE HAS DONE FOR US… JESUS AND HIS WORD NEED TO BE A VISIBLE, TANGIBLE PART OF OUR DAILY LIVES…AMEN?

      On your most holy faith…The most holy faith is the same as the faith once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3). Jude wasn’t talking about growing in the most holy faith (though that is a valid idea). Jude is talking about growing on your MOST HOLY FAITH, IS NOT A RELIGION NOR A RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATION, OUR MOST HOLY FAITH SHOULD BE IN AND THROUGH JESUS CHRIST AND HIS WORD. We grow on the foundation of the truth FOUND IN THE HOLY BIBLE.

      Praying in the Holy Spirit: This is another way to keep ourselves in the love of God. The battle against wrong living and wrong teaching is a spiritual battle, requiring prayer in the Holy Spirit, THAT MEANS TIME FOR PRIVATE PERSONAL ONE ON ONE PRAYER TIME WITH JESUS, JESUS THE GOD who SEES AND KNOWS what we can not….the BATTLE ON THE SUPERNATURAL PLANE.

      AND WHEN WE GET ALONE, PRAY ONE ON ONE WITH JESUS, ALL OF OUR PRAYERS AND CONVERSATIONS WITH JESUS ARE SHIELDED FROM SATAN AND HIS DEMONS…THEY ARE NOTTTTTTT ALLOWED TO EAVESDROP.

      Many of our prayers are directed by our own needs, by our own intellects, or by our own wishes and desires. But there is a higher level of prayer: Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us. (Romans 8:26)

      The Holy Spirit EVEN INTERCEDES FOR US IN PRAYER…JUST AS JESUS INTERCEDES FOR US WITH ALMIGHTY GOD AND PRAYS FOR US ALWAYS.

      Looking for the mercy of Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life…This is a third way that we can keep ourselves in the love of God. As we keep the blessed hope of Jesus’ soon return alive in our hearts, this effectively keeps us in the love of God, and helps us to not give away our faith.

      Verses 22-23 tell us to take a LOOK OUTWARD, to those around you.

      “And on some have compassion, making a distinction; but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.”

      On some HAVE compassion: Jude begins here to tell us what we must do with those who have been influenced by these certain men. We need to make a distinction, based on where they are coming from. Certainly, on some have compassion.

      Using wisdom we approach different people in different manners. By being sensitive to the Holy Spirit, we CAN KNOW when we should comfort, and when we should rebuke. Christians should not abandon a friend flirting with false teaching. They should help him through it in love & prayer & GIVING THEM JESUS WORD, JESUS HOLY BIBLE TRUTH, INSTEAD OF SOME MAN-CREATED, TWISTED, REVISED RELIGIOUS TEACHING, OR WORLDLY PSYCHO-BABBLE TREND OF THE MOMENT…GIVE THEM JESUS…SHOW THEM JESUS.

      This means No matter how bad a person is, or how misleading and terrible their doctrine, we are NOT allowed to HATE them - or to be unconcerned for their salvation….pray our enemies UP!

      Others save with fear: This second group must be confronted more strongly - but in fear, not in a sanctimonious superiority. You may need to pull them out of the fire, but never do it in pride.

      This outward look is important. It demonstrates that we are not only concerned for our own spiritual welfare. It proves that we genuinely care about OTHER Christians who are edging towards significant error. GIVE THEM JESUS!

      Verses 24-25 tells us to take a look UPWARD to the God of all glory

      “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling,
      And to present you faultless
      Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,
      To God our Savior,
      Who alone is wise,
      Be glory and majesty,
      Dominion and power,
      Both now and forever.
      Amen.”

      NOW TO HIM…Jude closes the letter with a famous doxology (a brief declaration of praise to God). Jude’s doxology reminds us of God’s care and of our destiny.

      Who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present faultless: Jude’s message of warning and doom might have depressed and discouraged his readers. Perhaps they thought that with so much false teaching and immorality around, very few Christians would ever reach heaven. Here he reminds them that the answer lies only in the power of God THROUGH HIS PRECIOUS SON JESUS CHRIST. He is able to keep you, and you aren’t able to keep yourself.
      FOR EXAMPLE, JUST AS in mountain climbing, the beginning hiker attaches himself to the expert so that if he loses his footing he won’t stumble and fall to his death. In the same manner, if we keep connected with JESUS CHRIST, we cannot fall. He keeps us safe.

      SO WHAT DOES JUDE TELL US….TEACH US….?

      By comparing passages of Scripture, we also find out who is really responsible for our safe keeping. Jude began the letter by addressing those who are preserved in Jesus (Jude 1:1).

      Then he exhorted Christians to avoid dangerous men and to keep themselves in the love of God (Jude 1:21)

      Here at the end he concluded with the recognition that it is ultimately God who keeps us from stumbling and falling. Paul put the same idea in Philippians 2:12-13: “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”

      Keeping us spiritually safe is God’s work. But you can always tell the people He is working in, because they are working also. JESUS DOES NOT call us to simply let the Christian life happen to us and He doesn’t command us to save ourselves. He calls us to a PARTNERSHIP with Him.

      Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy: As God is faithful, we won’t have to slink shamefacedly into the presence of God. We can be presented before Him with exceeding joy.

      Who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever: This all reminds us of God’s wisdom, glory, and power. Jude isn’t trying to say that we can or should give these things to God. When we acknowledge and declare the truth about God, it glorifies Him. We aren’t giving God more majesty or power than He had before; we are just recognizing and declaring it.

      Both now and forever: This could also be translated “unto all the ages.” This is “as complete a statement of eternity as can be made in human language. Our victory, our triumph in God, is forever.

      JUDE REMINDS US THAT THERE IS SERIOUS DECEPTION in the world and often among those who call THEMSELVES/THEIR RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATION, THE ONE TRUTH FAITH, THE ONE TRUE PATH, AND STILL CALL THEMSELVES “Christians“.

      There ARE enemies of the gospel who have infiltrated the church. Yet despite the greatness of the threat, God is greater still.
      He wins, and if we will only stay with Him, we are guaranteed victory also.

      Jude is a book full of warning, but it closes with supreme confidence in God. Dangerous times should make us trust, PRESS IN, CLING, AND FOLLOW OUR MIGHTY JESUS CHRIST.

      THESE ARE THE LAST DAYS FOR CHRISTIANS (THE CHURCH/THE BRIDE OF JESUS CHRIST)....JUDE WANTS US TO STAY CLOSE TO JESUS....TO DEPEND ON HIM....TRUST HIM....COME WHAT MAY.

      AND FOR THE LOST...THE MESSAGE REMAINS THE SAME...CALL UPON THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST NOW...WHILE YOU MAY...

      BE BLESSED AND STAY BLESSED IN OUR AMAZING JESUS CHRIST!