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Hebrews by Robert Dean
Series:Hebrews (2005)
Duration:1 hr 0 mins 2 secs

Hebrews Lesson 70  November 30, 2006

 

NKJ Hebrews 4:12 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.

Before we get started in our study of Hebrews, I want to start reading some things to you from the newsletters that come out from Voice of the Martyrs. I think this is great because it gives us a little exposure to what other Christians are going through and how the gospel is making an impact in some tough areas around the world. The excerpt that I want to read this evening is contained in a book that they have published containing various testimonies from the underground Iranian Church. All we see in the news is what goes on with Ahmadinejab and their various threats against Israel and against the West. It doesn't look like too many good things are going on over there. But, there is a tremendous underground movement going on in Iran where hundreds if not thousands of college age young people are turning to Christianity and coming to faith in the gospel. It is extremely difficult because of the religious persecution and oppression that exists in any Islamic society. So this excerpt begins with a quote from one of the young men involved in giving out the gospel.

 

I was kicked out from another place, but many had found the Lord. Then authorities wanted to isolate me even more and sent me to another town 100 miles away. They made me drive way out of town for 4 years to an isolated clinic because I refused to grow a beard or wear clothing like theirs and be an informer. About 300 people came to my clinic (This is apparently from a doctor) each month even in the desert area. Every day I drove about 100 miles back and forth. I had to get up at 6 in the morning, drive outside the city, and across the desert to get there on time. The authorities thought they were punishing me, but Jesus used me to reach new people.

Then there is a note that this man was arrested and taken to police headquarters and there he was interrogated. He says in his testimony…

In this two-story building there is a basement where all of the torture is going on. Upstairs is where they do the interrogations. Even with a blindfold I knew they were taking me all the way down. We walked to a room which I saw later had only one door, no windows, no light. They said, "Sit down." Then a man with a light behind me pulled off the blindfold. They shined a bright light in my eye so I wouldn't see who was interrogating me. The man behind the light said, "Tell us the truth. We will help you out. What are you doing? Tell us and we will help you not to be on the bad list. We see some suspicious people come and go to your office and ask for you specifically. There are also some Afghani and some Armenian people. Tell us what is going on." I got a little angry with them. I said, "Whoever comes to me it is because I am a doctor. They need help." Later on the police released him.

He goes on to say…

We must move the clinic every two to three years. We have moved six times so far. This is the 7th place we have moved to in 13 years. Yet, this is not important. We don't want any home here because we know where our home is. We are always ready to go to our main home with Jesus. I am not afraid of death because I know where I am going. John 3:16 tells our family when you believe and seek Jesus you have abundant life, you have everlasting life. Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life."

 

So that is one of many testimonies of Christians who are actively involved in handing out Bibles, passing out tracts and giving the gospel to people in an Islamic society. We need to constantly be in prayer, not just for missionaries that are in Iran or Jordan. There is the Jordan Theological Seminary. The president is a man that I went through seminary with. There are other works and teams of missionaries going into Islamic countries all over the world. Their lives are in danger every single day. So we should just generally be in prayer for them. 

 

Let's go to our study this evening in Hebrews. We are in Hebrew 6:9. Before we start off in Hebrews 6:9, it is necessary I think to go back and do some review and reorient our thinking so we know how we got to where we are. We are just about in the middle of the book now, but we need to go back and see what has gone on already. I want to start off by reading this next couple of verses to you so we understand where we are headed. When we go back and do this review it is pointed to a particular direction. We have to understand how we got from 1:1 to these particular verses.  So, let's just look at 9 and 10.  The writer then says…

 

NKJ Hebrews 6:9 But, beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation, though we speak in this manner.

 

Remember he just gave them this dire warning that because they had become dull of hearing they can be in danger of regressing to point for all practical purposes it is just about impossible to recover spiritually. But then he shows the hope. That is the point of this next section. No matter how bad it gets, no matter what you have done, no matter how spiritually regressive you have been, no matter how carnal you have been, there is always hope in the grace of God. God's grace always provides the solution.

 

NKJ Hebrews 6:10 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.

 

There are a couple of things that we need to point out here to just keep in the front of your mind as we go through our review. That is this statement that God won't forget your work and labor of love. As grace-oriented believers you understand the gospel of grace that is based on the work of Christ and not on the basis of our works. Too often grace-oriented believers have a problem when it comes to passages like this and they start talking about works. So we have to understand the doctrine of work in the Scripture. Now most of you are aware of what this signifies because we have gone through this several times as we have gone through our study on Sunday mornings in those 7 letters to the 7 churches in Revelation. Each time those evaluation reports begin they begin with the statement from Jesus that "I know you work". So work isn't a bad word. It is not like Maynard G. Krebs (if you remember Dobie Gillis). 

 

"Works!" 

 

It is not automatically something terrible. 

 

So let's go back to Hebrews 1:1 and take a run through the first six chapters to end up where we are now in 6:9. Remember the theme of Hebrews is to challenge Christians who are on the verge of chucking it. They are on the verge of just stopping and reverting back to Judaism. These are believers who have come out of a Jewish background. They were probably priests who functioned in the service in the temple. They are on the verge going back into Judaism. The theme of the writer is to challenge these Christians to remain faithful in these last days.  That challenge is just as valid for gentiles at any time, not to give up, not to just reach a state of satisfaction in the Christian life, but to continue to hold fast and press forward to spiritual maturity. So Hebrews is a challenge to remain faithful and steadfast in our spiritual growth today in light of future service in the Millennial Kingdom. That is what it is oriented toward – the future. You have to remember that the decisions we make today determine who we are not only today but they will also determine our role and our responsibility in the Millennial Kingdom and in heaven. 

 

As we go through this book I pointed out in the introduction that I believe that Hebrews really isn't an epistle. It is often referred to as an epistle and almost every Bible you have got refers to the epistle. If you have a Scofield Reference Bible or some versions of King James it might even say the Epistle of Paul to the Hebrews even though the text doesn't identify the author. So we have to be careful. But it isn't an epistle because it doesn't fit the standard format of an epistle. There is no salutation to the Hebrews -grace and peace to you. There are not closing remarks at the end. There are a number of other things that you normally have associated with a letter that aren't here. It probably is a written out sermon much like the transcript that we published from the message on Crisis in Pastoral Leadership. This was a sermon that was taken and then transcribed, written out and sent as a letter. I believe the epistle by James is the same kind of thing. There are elements in here because of its organization that fit more of a verbal instruction pattern than a written tool. That has to do with its structure. 

 

There are five basic points that are made in the outline of the book.  We studied the first three. 

 

The first section; Hebrews 1:1:2:4

 

The first section goes from 1:1 to 2:4. Actually 1:1-4 is an opening prelude where the basic theme or foundation for the doctrinal message, the teaching (the exposition) is laid out and is grounded in the ultimate revelation and completed revelation of God in Jesus Christ. So we have this opening prelude and then there is a doctrinal exposition or didactic explanation (that is a teaching). It is an instruction to the church related to various passages of Scripture. Of course as we saw from 1:5-14 there are several Old Testament passages that are cited and woven together by the writer of Hebrews to make his point. So it begins with the doctrinal exposition, the didactic section. Then it is followed by an exhortation and warning. That is what we have as we go through each of these sections. So just to review the outline, we go through the first section.

 

The second section; Hebrews 2:5-4:13

 

Then the second section picks up a couple of main ideas from the first section, develops that out in the doctrinal exposition form 2:5-3:6. And then beginning in 3:7 we have our practical exhortation. An exhortation is an application and a challenge mixed together. It is taking the teaching that we just had and driving it home in terms of a practical application. So if you want to understand how the first century apostles understood application, this is a good place to go. You read through this section in 3:7 to 4:13, most Christians today would probably have a problem with this as application because you have to know too much Old Testament to understand it. They want to have something that is easy to take home and chew on. 

 

The third section - Hebrews 4:14-6:20

 

The third section (the one we are in) is from 4:14 to 6:20.  But 4:14-5:11 is a fairly brief section that is interrupted because the writer says that the readers aren't hearing what he is saying about the high priesthood of Melchizedek. 

 

"You are too dull of hearing."

 

He starts to blast them for their spiritual regression. He gives them this dire warning in verse 4-8, but then he comes back and in a very encouraging grace-oriented manner he says, "We are convinced of better things for you. Don't give up.  We are confident that there are better things for you."

 

So, section three is composed of that doctrinal or didactic exposition from 4:15-5:10. Then from 5:11 on we have our practical exhortation or warning. So that is the structure that we have gone through. 

 

Let's hit some of the high points that we have studied. In those first 4 verses there is an emphasis on the completion, the culmination of God's revelatory process in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. The writer begins by saying…

 

NKJ Hebrews 1:1 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets,

 

NKJ Hebrews 1:2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;

 

This is a finished work.  It is a completed action. I want you to pay attention to this terminology that we have. 

 

Again and again and again as we go through Hebrews you ought to underline every time you have verbiage related to God speaking or God saying or God calling.  There is this constant theme of God speaking that implies and demands our obedient response.  You see this thread that runs all the way through the book of Hebrews.  So there is this culmination – everything in history has led to the revelation of God in the Lord Jesus Christ. 

 

As Paul said in Galatians 4:4…

 

NKJ Galatians 4:4 But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law,

 

He had to wait for the right time in human history.  He had to prepare the nations and He had to prepare Israel for this revelation of His Son.  He couldn't just do it.  Jesus could not have come in Adam's generation or in Abraham's generation or in Moses' generation or in Daniel's generation.  The time wasn't right.  It had to wait for the right time. 

 

In this revelation we learned several things about the Lord Jesus Christ. We learned that He is the heir of all things. This is a key concept in the whole book of Hebrews - inheritance. Jesus Christ is the heir of all things and we become joint-heirs with Him. The emphasis secondly is on the Son as the creator of the world. Then in verse 3 the writer goes on to describe the Son as the exact duplicate of the Father in essence and in power. So the Son is not just the Son in terms of humanity; He is the Son in terms of deity and is completely equal to the Father in His essence. 

 

Further he goes on to emphasize that it is the Son who has entered into history. He is the one who paid the penalty for our sins as a man.  So the hypostatic union lies behind the explanation of verses 1-4. The Son is man – perfect man and is true humanity. He enters history, pays the penalty for sin and then because of His victory over death in the resurrection He is promoted to and He is brought to and ascends to heaven where He sits at the right hand of God the Father on the Father's throne as we have seen in our study of Revelation 3:21. In His humanity He is elevated over the angels so that now there is a human being sitting at the command post of the universe. A human being has been elevated over the angels. It is the Second Adam, the Lord Jesus Christ who is in that position and we will join Him – that is the exciting thing – we will join Him as joint heirs in that inheritance that culminates in His kingdom. 

 

We went through the whole study on the ascension and session of the Lord Jesus Christ and how that doesn't come to completion until He returns at the Second Coming.  Daniel 7 says that the Son of Man comes to the earth to establish His kingdom. That is when the inheritance is realized.  These 4 verses provide a brief but jam-packed and brilliant explanation of the Son in terms of His past accomplishments. But what is involved here is that in these past accomplishments are set in the context of His future destiny as an heir. That sets the foundation for the rest of the book. Then from verse 5 through 14 the writer connects the superiority of the Son and His accomplishments with His destiny to rule the planet as the Davidic son.  He cites all the various psalms and interconnects this with the realization and the fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant. Now Jesus Christ came. Gabriel announced His coming and announced to Mary that He was going to come and rule on the throne of His father David. So His birth is announced in terms of reigning as the Davidic heir.  He came to offer the kingdom. John the Baptist said to repent for the kingdom of heaven was at hand. Jesus announced to repent for the kingdom of heaven was at hand. The disciples were all sent out to Israel, not to Gentiles, to announce to repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.  The Jews rejected it and rejected Him as the king. They crucified Him so the kingdom is postponed. It wasn't partially inaugurated. That is what a lot of people say today – that we are in some form of the kingdom. There are a lot of problems with that. We are not in any form of the kingdom. We are in the Church Age. 

 

So in verse 5-14 there is this emphasis. The writer builds line upon line. He takes each of these Old Testament passage and he weaves them together to bring our attention upon this future kingdom that is characterized by an eternal throne and a scepter of righteousness in that particular kingdom. All of that leads us to the conclusion that the angels who are now over us will in the future be under us.  So part of their responsibility today is that these angels minister to those who will inherit salvation.  That is in the last verse of the first chapter. 

 

NKJ Hebrews 1:14 Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?

 

It is not saying for those who were saved (past tense); but for those who will inherit salvation.  It is a future oriented concept.  That is realizing the fullness of our inheritance when salvation is completed - phase 1, phase 2, and phase 3 when we are absent from the body face to face with the Lord. The Lord comes in His kingdom. That is when we inherit salvation. So it is a future oriented concept. That leads to the first warning. 

 

Salvation is not what we got when we trusted Christ as Savior. Salvation is what we are headed toward in the realization of this whole process as it comes to its culmination at the Judgment Seat of Christ and our return with Jesus Christ to rule and reign on the earth. That is Hebrews 2:3

 

NKJ Hebrews 2:3 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,

 

 

That is escape judgment.  See the Jews neglected what they had in the desert.  That is the backdrop for that.  They neglected what they had.  So they were judged.  If that happened to them, what more will happen to us if we neglect all that we have in relationship to our destiny.  The warning is that we need to focus on our spiritual life living each day in light of eternity.

 

Then we come into the second section. In the second section there is a doctrinal exposition. The doctrinal exposition is from 2:5 down to 3:6. In that instructional or pedagogical section as he is teaching them on the basis of these Old Testament ideas he starts to unpack even more this whole idea of Jesus being elevated over the angels. That is the point he establishes in that first section – Jesus is superior to the angels at the ascension. He is elevated over the angels and the angels now serve us who are going to be heirs of this future salvation. Now let's unpack that concept and see where that leads us. 

 

So he starts off in verse 5.

 

NKJ Hebrews 2:5 For He has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels.

 

In other words the future age, the Millennial Age, isn't in subjection to angels; it is in subjection to the bride of Christ. It is in subjection to us. So that is what he begins to develop. So he emphasizes the point that man was made lower than the angels because his future destiny is to be elevated over the angels. We are in a training ground right now unlike anything the angles went through. 

 

Second, he points out that Jesus Christ as true humanity has been elevated above the angels. He is our pioneer and He sets the course so that now we realize that a human being is over the angels and at the command post of the universe.  That is in verse 9. 

 

NKJ Hebrews 2:9 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.

 

Then in verse 10-13 he points out that in His humanity (not as God in His deity not using is omniscience, omnipotence and omnipresence and not utilizing all of His powers) He is qualified to go on the basis of humility of obedience and His spiritual growth (that takes Him through maturity and adversity testing) to go to the cross. So Jesus Christ qualifies in His humanity by using the same tools, the same doctrines, the same Holy Spirit that you and I use. 

 

Now don't take me wrong here. In a theoretical sense it is possible for us once you are saved with the Holy Spirit to be sinless. None of us are ever going to do that. No one is going to do that. I am not teaching sinless perfection. Don't take me wrong. I am just saying that theoretically that's possible. If you were to start walking by the Spirit from the instant you were saved until you died, you would never sin.  You still have the sin nature even though the power is broken. It is still there and we are all going to sin. We are never going to be sinless and no one is ever going to reach perfection. The pattern was set by Jesus in His humanity to show that it's there. You can do it. The Holy Spirit is powerful enough to do it. The Word of God is true enough for you to do it.  The problem is your own volition. You are just not going to do it. But grace always provides the solution. When you fail you have got I John 1:9 and forgiveness so that we can continue to press on to maturity. He points out that Jesus is the pioneer of our spiritual life. He is the archegos. He is the one who is the pathfinder who sets the course for us. We follow in His example. 

 

He concludes that since Christ had victory over sin and over death, He is promoted to the position of High Priest. That is what all of this is going from. The first section laid the groundwork that Jesus is superior to the angels. He is promoted over the angels. Why did He get promoted over the angels? Because in His humanity He went through all of this adversity testing and in true humility never yielding to arrogance, never sinning He qualifies to go to the cross and because (as it is going to be pointed out in the application section) He is tested in every point as we are yet without sin He is now a High Priest who can commiserate with our weaknesses. That is where all of that is headed. So because He goes through the whole process of testing just as we do, He is qualified for that promotion to be the High Priest. So he moves from superiority over the angels to His being testing in His humanity to qualifying Him to be the High Priest. Guess what is going to be developed in the next section – His High priesthood. See how logically this flows. 

 

He will then start to show why the high priesthood of Christ is so important.  First you have to understand that it is not an Aaronic high priesthood, it is a Melchizedekean high priesthood. 

 

"But you are to spiritually dull to listen!" 

 

So then he goes through his diversion in the warning passage of Hebrews 6. At the end of that in Hebrews 6:13 then he begins to come back again to the point he was trying to make about the high priesthood of Christ and its Melchizedekean background. That is what gets developed in Hebrews 6, 7, and 8.  That sort of gives you an idea of where he is going. It is always helpful to have an idea of where you are going so you understand how you are getting there. 

 

So back to the exhortation and warning in 3:7-4:13. That section you remember focuses on the importance of understanding our future rest in the Millennial Kingdom. That is analogous to the rest the Jews were to experience once they entered into the Promised Land. So the illustrations in the warning section from 3:7 down through 4:10 all focus on that failure of the Exodus generation to enter the rest because they didn't mix the promises of God with faith.  So because of their failure to pursue spiritual growth they failed to realize their inheritance. They jeopardized their inheritance. They didn't enter into the land.  The only two that entered into the land and realized their inheritance were Caleb and Joshua because they trusted God.  But that whole generation including Aaron and Moses all failed to trust God at some point or another and so they lost their inheritance in the land. They never were allowed to enter into the land. 

 

We look at that section and three times we have a quotation from Psalm 95:7. In verse 7 it reads…

 

NKJ Hebrews 3:7 Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: "Today, if you will hear His voice,

 

NKJ Hebrews 3:8 Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, In the day of trial in the wilderness,

 

Then it is quoted again in verse 15. 

 

NKJ Hebrews 3:15 while it is said: "Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion."

 

Then again in 4:7… 

 

NKJ Hebrews 4:7 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."

 

What is he trying to say? Don't harden your hearts. Don't be foolish and stubborn spiritually like that Exodus generation was. You can do the same thing today that they did. 

 

You can reach a spiritual plateau and say, "I am happy and satisfied."

 

The next thing you know you are sliding back into spiritual regression and divine discipline and jeopardizing your inheritance again – not your salvation because you can never lose that. That is the heart of this warning in this particular section. 

 

So what the writer is saying there is that just as the entry into the Promised Land for the Jews to the Exodus generation would have been to realize their ownership and inheritance in the blessing of the land that flowed with milk and honey. They lost that because of spiritual hardness of heart and because of spiritual failure. That is the analogy. That is the point of rest that he is talking about. You and I have a future rest. That is where he concludes when he says in 4:8…

 

NKJ Hebrews 4:8 For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day.

 

You see there is another rest beyond the rest in the kingdom. That is the challenge. So he concludes with this challenge.

 

NKJ Hebrews 4:9 There remains therefore a rest for the people of God.

 

NKJ Hebrews 4:11 Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.

 

They weren't diligent. But we need to be diligent that we enter that rest lest anyone fall. How do we do this? It is on the basis of the Word of God. 

 

NKJ Hebrews 4:12 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.

 

 So the key idea in that section is to hear what? Hear His voice. It takes us right back to Hebrews 1. 

 

NKJ Hebrews 1:1 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets,

 

NKJ Hebrews 1:2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;

 

He has spoken today. Are you going to listen? 

 

If you will hear His voice – that is the fullness of the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ – don't harden your hearts as they did in the rebellion. 

 

So the final exhortation is to enter the rest. 

 

We say, "How do we do that?"

 

It is on the basis of the Word of God. It is on the basis of the sufficient Word of God. That is all you need. If you were taken today and dropped down into some back water jungle, primitive island in the South Pacific and all you had was your Bible; then that is all you would ever need to face any problem, any difficulty that you would ever face. That is it. That is what we mean by the sufficiency of Scripture. You don't need to have counseling textbooks by Freud or any other counselor to figure out personal relationship problems. You don't have to learn how to live the purpose driven life. You don't have to have any of these other things. All you need is the Word of God. That is sufficient. You have the Word of God and the Spirit of God. We don't need anything else in terms of our spiritual life.

 

So where does he go from here?  Section 3

 

Starting in verse 14 he gives a doctrinal explanation where he takes the concept of a high priest and he starts to unpack that idea. We have a High Priest and He is our high priest because He is just like us. He is a true human being. He is not like us because He never had a sin nature, but He is like us in terms of our humanity. He went through all the same tests that we go through. That is how he begins the next section. 

 

NKJ Hebrews 4:14 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.

 

He picks up that idea from the first chapter. He has gone through the heavens. He is elevated over the angels. He is promoted over the angels. We have this High Priest who has ascended above the angels and therefore let us hold fast our confession.  In other words - let us hold onto our doctrine. Don't give it up.  Doctrine is important. That's what confession describes. Why?

 

NKJ Hebrews 4:15 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 have a High Priest who understands what we have gone through so we can't really blow a lot of smoke at Him. We can't rationalize, justify. 

 

He says, "Been there. Done that, but I got the T-shirt. You are not going to get it. You keep blowing it."

 

So we have a High Priest who can sympathize. He understands what we are going through. What then is the exhortation? 

 

NKJ Hebrews 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

 

It is dependence upon God to go through those tough times.

 

Hold your place right here and I want to go forward a couple of chapters to chapter 10. 

 

In chapter 10 (that is skipping ahead into the fourth section of the book) I want you to see how these ideas get picked up and woven into future exposition.  We get into the exhortation section in the fourth section and here is what we read.

 

NKJ Hebrews 10:19 Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, 

 

It is the same idea, but he has added something. In chapter 4 he is talking about the high priesthood of Christ. Then he is going to develop that high priesthood aspect and tie it. What can we expect? What is he going to tie it to?  he concept of the blood of Jesus. What is he going to tie it to? He is going to tie it to the sacrificial death of Christ on the cross.  A priest performs sacrifice and offerings. That is exactly what we see when we get into chapter 5. What does a priest do? Just the general principle of priesthood in 5:1 that a priest is appointed by God to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. So we are going to see these threads are going to be picked up. So by the time we get to that fourth exhortation

 

NKJ Hebrews 10:19 Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus,

 

NKJ Hebrews 10:20 by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh,

 

NKJ Hebrews 10:21 and having a High Priest over the house of God,

So he is going to come into this and explain for us why all of this is important. 

 

Then he says…

 

NKJ Hebrews 10:22 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.

 

NKJ Hebrews 10:23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.

 

NKJ Hebrews 10:24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works,

 

You see how all of this connects. He is building a case one element at a time. He is not like Paul. He isn't just giving us 3 or 4 verses that are loaded with all of this intricate theology. He is taking it and building it one layer at a time – line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little there a little. He is giving us that whole methodology. 

 

In chapter 5 after laying out the principle that we have a high priest who takes us before the throne of grace in prayer because we have a High Priest who can sympathize with our weaknesses in the first four verses in chapter 5 all he does is lay out the general principle of priesthood. A priest serves God and offers gifts and sacrifices to God.

 

  1. We have a High Priest who has passed through the heavens, therefore HOLD FAST. Don't waiver in your devotion to doctrine. There are all kinds of pressures out there to convince you that somehow you can make life work and handle the problems and the vicissitudes of life by just caving in and doing it like everybody else does. The warning is that don't do that. There is too much at stake. Hold fast. We have a high priest who has gone through everything that you have gone through and He gives you access to the throne of God. 
  2. General principle on priests emphasizes that priests are called by God. It is a function of humility. It is not a self appointed task. They are called by God to serve or to minister to others. When we started off tonight, I said to pay attention to the vocabulary in 6:9 and 6:10. Our work and labor and that you have ministered to the saints. That is the whole element of Christian service. Christian service is not just working at the church and teaching Sunday school. There is a lot more to it than the superficial way it is usually handled. It is any way in which we are serving the Lord in relation to our spiritual gifts as a result of our growth to spiritual maturity.  That is what Christian service is.  It can involve a whole host of different manifestations.  But that is part of priesthood.  So a priest is called by God to serve others and offer gifts and sacrifices to God.  That is laid out in those 4 verses.  Then it is applied to Christ.  He didn't glorify Himself.  He didn't step into the position to glorify Himself.  He did it because He was called by God.
  3. In the same way Christ was called by God to serve as a priest but not on the pattern of the Jewish Aaronic priesthood but on the pattern of the Melchizedekean royal priesthood. There is a distinction there. He is a royal high priest on the order of Melchizedek. There is a quote from Psalm 2:7 and Psalm 110:4. The quote from Psalm 2:7 emphasizes the royalty and reigning aspect. Psalm 110:4 emphasizes the Melchizedekean priesthood. Having understood that Jesus is in this Melchizedekean priesthood we understand that He qualifies in terms of His obedience. You connect that over to the kenosis passage in Philippians 2:5-8 that Jesus humbled himself by being obedient and going to the cross. We have the same idea expressed in Hebrews 5:8.

NKJ Hebrews 5:8 though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.

That emphasizes His position as the Son of God, as deity. Yet as a human He learned obedience by the things that He suffered. He had to go through that process of learning humility and learning authority orientation. If Jesus had to go through that, don't you think that we have to go through that? He is already sinless and He still has to learn obedience to the things that He suffered. We go through the same process and we have got the additional problem of being fallen creatures. So 5:8 is a key verse. The result is given in verse 9. 

 

NKJ Hebrews 5:9 And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him,

 

How was He matured? By going through the tests and suffering.

 

NKJ Hebrews 5:10 called by God as High Priest "according to the order of Melchizedek,"

 

That's where the writer of Hebrews breaks off at the end of verse 10. He then turns around and says, "But you can't listen to this."

 

There are some doctrines you can't listen to.  People come in here.  I am sure that this happens.  I hear about it every now and then.

 

Someone says, "I sat there and I didn't get a word that was going on." 

 

They are hip deep in carnality and they can't process even baby food anymore much less anything that gets into any details in the Scripture.  I can understand that because if you have gone to any number of so-called Bible teachers or congregations in this city or watched TV and that is all you have ever heard; then when you have somebody come along and actually teach the Bible, it's going to blow you away because you have never heard anything like that before. 

 

So the writer of Hebrews says, "You can't hear it. I have a lot to say. It is hard to explain because you have become dull of hearing."

 

So then there is the exhortation beginning in verse 11. The exhortation continues to the end of 6:20.  Up to this point the warnings and exhortations have been together. But here they are going to be separate. You have an exhortation or challenge. In the midst of it is the dire warning of the impossibility of repentance in chapter 6:4-8. The exhortation can be summarized. 

 

1.  Don't ever be satisfied with where you are spiritually, press forward. Press on. Hold fast. Keep going. Don't become a complacent satisfied Christian thinking that you have learned enough. There is always more to learn. If you get that way you will be surprised when you end up in your resurrection body and discover that you are going to have an eternity of learning. We are never going to be omniscient; even in our resurrection bodies we are never going to be omniscient. But God is omniscient. So He has an infinite amount of stuff to teach us that He can't teach us now.  But when we get to heaven we have school for infinity. I know that really depresses some of you right away. 

2.  There is a dire warning here that you can regresses at any moment. You can become complacent  - slip on that spiritual banana peel and fall right on your keaster and you will have a tough time recovering if you don't recover right away, if you stay there. You can regress. You can lose ground.

3.  It is possible to regress to the point of no return, from which you will most likely not recover. That is tough point for a lot of people. I am not saying it is an absolute point-of- no-return. I am not saying that you can reach a point that nothing will happen. It is a practical point. It is that you can reach a point in spiritual regression where apart from the intervention of God you are not going to recover.  See with God all things are possible, but with us they are not. The context that we have to understand here is that within the context of Hebrews, we are to be encouraging one another.  Pay attention to two verses – Hebrews 3:13. 

 

NKJ Hebrews 3:13 but exhort one another daily, while it is called "Today," lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

 

What happens when you get hardened by the deceitfulness of sin? Then it is going to be impossible for anyone else to help. You see when you look at that verse; we get down into the 5 participles in the warning section. The key to it is understanding that infinitive. There is no subject of the infinitive. There is no grammatical subject to the infinitive.  In other words it doesn't say it is impossible for God to renew them to repentance. It doesn't say it is impossible for Jesus to renew them. There is no stated subject. So it is impossible for whom to renew them?  Well, who is supposed to do the encouraging in the book of Hebrews? It is one another. It is part of the body of Christ, the friends that you have, other believers, family members who encourage you. It is not some stranger. You always have some people that get in arrogance. They see somebody across the church and they see somebody say something or do something and they have no context of relationship. 

 

They are as foolish as they can be and they say, "I want to encourage you to stop doing that."

 

"Get out of my face it is none of your business."

 

But there is context of relationship. We have family. We have friends and we see the impact of spiritual regression in their lives. Because we are in the context of a relationship with them, we are already a trusted individual who can then come alongside and encourage them not to fall apart spiritually. But then we always run into the ones who give us that look and we know they are not going to listen anymore.  That is where the warning comes in.  It is impossible for us to renew them to repentance. Hebrews 10 brings back this theme again in a well known passage.

 

NKJ Hebrews 10:24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works,

 

Again and again we have this thing of love and good works coming up. So we have to make sure that we understand what that is talking about. 

 

NKJ Hebrews 10:25 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.

 

There are always people - you know them. You have got them in your family. You have seen them in church. You know that they have tubed it spiritually, but they have put up a wall and you can't do anything spiritually anymore.  It is in the hands of God and we have to believe God that the Holy Spirit somehow will take out that spiritual 2x4 and slap them up the side of the head.  When I say it is a point-of-no-return, it is a point-of-no-return from our perspective. It is a point-of-no-return in the sense that unless God intervenes there is not going to be return. That is what the writer says right here in the context. 

 

NKJ Hebrews 6:3 And this we will do if God permits.

 

But you see sometimes God says, "You are carnal. You have gone through this negative volition thing long enough. I am going to leave you in your misery as an object lesson and an opportunity to test all of the believers around you."

 

  1. It is impossible to renew some to repentance. That is change. You see change doesn't come before you confess your sin. It comes after you confess your sin.  We need to think in terms of repentance as not just change of mind, but it is change of mind that results in a change of action. It is change.  That is why when you get into some of the passages in Revelation 2 and 3 and they are all commanded to repent, it is not that you go out and make a one shot decision not to do that anymore. We have all done that if we are honest with each other. "I know I shouldn't do this in my life. I have got to quit eating chocolate. It is making me fat. I can't eat sugar." We make that one shot decision and the next day we are eating sugar again because we are addicted to it.  It is the same thing with sin. We are addicted to it. So it takes time and growth for that to sink in and become a part of life.  Every time we fail we use I John 1:9 and confess our sins. It is not a license to sin. It is the basis for recovery. It is grace. Only when we confess our sin, we are back in fellowship and have access to the sanctifying ministry of the Holy Spirit can we repent as divine good where the Holy Spirit is using it to produce growth. It is not this concept that you need to repent first. If you are repenting before you are confessing, it is coming out of your sin nature. It is just human good. Human good is never going to produce divine good. 
  2. It is a question of spiritual progress or failure, the choice is yours. The emphasis is volition. That is what is emphasized in these 5 participles in 6:4 through 6:8. They all describe the same group of people. They are believers. They have once been enlightened – meaning regenerated.  They have tasted. The word taste means to fully experience.  Just as Jesus tasted death for us – He didn't just get a little morsel there. No, it means to fully experience death or something. Here it is tasted the heavenly gift. They are saved. They have been made partakers or partners with the Holy Spirit.  Fallen away means that they have regressed spiritually. The New King James translates it "if they fall away." In other words, all of these things and fall away it is impossible to renew them again to repentance.
  3. The goal of the spiritual life is to generate spiritual fruit. That it the thrust of that illustration that we studied in verses 7 and 8. 

 

NKJ Hebrews 6:7 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;

 

That is you are like the earth. You take in all of the grace of God that He provides in terms of the Spirit of God and the Word of God. If you drink it in, what is the result? It bears fruit useful for those by whom it is cultivated. 

 

NKJ Hebrews 6:8 but if it bears thorns and briars, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned.

 

"Bears thorns and briars" is the regressive carnal believer. 

 

That is the burning of lost rewards. It is non-fruitful, non-productive. So we see here that the goal of the spiritual life is to be productive, to be fruitful. 

 

We did a lengthy study. We tied passages together - John 15 with the vine - abiding in Christ. Abiding Christ is the only way to produce fruit in John 15.  Then we connected that to Galatians 5: 16 f. When you are doing that you produce the fruit of the Spirit. So the only necessary condition to produce fruit in Galatians 5 is to walk in the Spirit. Well if in John 15 the only condition for producing fruit is to abide in Christ and in Galatians 5 the sole condition for producing fruit is to walk by the Spirit, then walking by the Spirit and abiding in Christ must be tantamount to the same thing. They are two sides of the same coin. 

 

That is related to the filling of the Spirit because the Spirit fills us with His Word.  We connected Ephesians 5:18 with Colossians 3:16.  The Spirit is the one who fills us with His Word.  We connect Galatians 5:18 with Colossians 3:16.  The Spirit is the one who fills us with His Word.  When we are out of fellowship, that sanctifying ministry is grieved, quenched, and shut down.  The Spirit is doing a lot of other things in your life.  He is not producing growth in your life, not forward momentum.  That can only happen when you get back in fellowship and start walking in the light as He is in the light as John says in I John 1. 

 

The end result of all this is to produce fruit.  But it is not because I am going out there and pulling myself up by my spiritual bootstraps to produce fruit.  That can't happen.  Paul tried that in Romans 7. But in Romans 7 he says some interesting things about fruit that are important to pay attention to. 

 

NKJ Romans 7:4 Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another -- to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God.

 

That "joining to Him who is raised from the dead" is what happened at the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  When we trust Christ as savior we are identified with Him in His death, burial and resurrection and we are united together with Christ.  Why?  What is the purpose clause here?  That we should bear fruit to God. You weren't saved so that you could just spend eternity in heaven and relax. You were saved for a purpose – to bear fruit, but not out of the flesh.  That was the problem that Paul way trying to deal with in Romans 7 - to do it in the flesh. 

 

NKJ Romans 7:5 For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death.

 

You see you can bear the wrong kind of fruit. That is what happens when you are not walking by the Spirit. 

 

In verse 6 Paul goes on to say…

 

NKJ Romans 7:6 But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.

 

Serve is the same concept we are running into in Hebrews 6:10 that we should be involved in ministry and serving in the newness of the Spirit, and not the oldness of the letter. That is what energizes Christian service – however it manifests itself in your particular life and in your particular experience. 

 

Ephesians 5:9 says...

 

NKJ Ephesians 5:9 (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth)

 

We are not talking about evangelism. You will go to all kinds of places saying, "You need to have fruit, go out and witness." 

 

Fruit is character. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness against which there is no law. It is character. It is the character of Christ. You see we were saved for this purpose. 

 

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

 

There is a purpose to salvation. Once you are saved in the family, God has got a job for us. It is to grow to spiritual maturity. The Holy Spirit produces fruit so that we can love one another in the body of Christ. We are to walk in those good works.

 

NKJ Colossians 1:10 that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;

 

There again we see fruit and work linked together. We are reminded in Romans 7:5 that there is also the wrong kind of fruit. 

 

NKJ Romans 7:5 For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death.

 

Now just to show that work and fruit aren't bad words, I Corinthians 3:13 says that at the Judgment Seat of Christ each man's work will become evident. 

 

NKJ 1 Corinthians 3:13 each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is.

 

Someone will say, "That is just bad ones."

 

No, look at verse 14

 

NKJ 1 Corinthians 3:14 If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward.

 

You see, work is not a bad word. Fruit is not a bad word. This doesn't involve works by the law – works trying to impress God by what we do or by how we say it or do it. It is the work of the Holy Spirit in us. That is the contrast – between the work and the fruit that is self-generated in the power of the flesh and that which is produced by the Spirit of God in conjunction with the Word of God and that is the only thing that has eternal value. But to get there we have to grow to spiritual maturity. It is the by-product of spiritual maturity not the way to get spiritual maturity. So that is where the writer of Hebrews goes because after blasting them he says…

 

NKJ Hebrews 6:9 But, beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation, though we speak in this manner.

 

 It is very positive here. We will get to that and start dealing with this doctrine of works and labor of love which is introduced in this next verse next time. 

 

Illustrations