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Hebrews 12:25-13:5 by Robert Dean
Series:Hebrews (2005)
Duration:1 hr 1 mins 17 secs

Hebrews Lesson 213
September 30, 2010

NKJ Psalm 119:11 Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You!

Before we get started we need to recognize that there are a couple things significant going on in the Jewish community right now; and that is because the holiday season in September really isn't over. We had Rabbi Haas, of course, come in and talk to us about Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur; but those were just the first part of the holy days. Following Yom Kippur (5 days after Yom Kippur) began Sukkot, which is the Feast of Tabernacles. Sometimes it's also referred to as the Feast of Ingathering. 

The Feast of Tabernacles is described in Leviticus 23:33-43. It was the third of the 3 major feast days on the ritual calendar of Israel that required all adult males to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and to observe it at the Temple. It was a time that was a reflection on the way God protected the Israelites during the 40 years in the wilderness. This was done by building a sukkah. A sukkah was a temporary shelter. We would call it a lean-to, something of that nature that was a reminder of living in temporary shelters during the time in the wilderness and how God had provided for them. It came at the end of the fall harvest so it is time to celebrate God's provision for the Israelites and His provision of food for them. So it's a time of celebration and a time of rejoicing. It was to begin on the 15th day of the 7th month. Yom Kipper was on the 10th day, and Sukkot lasted for 7 days. The 8th day began at sundown last night. That is known as Shemini AtzeretShemini Atzeret is a time to observe the 8th day (the last day) of the Sukkot. So it's a time treated like a Shabbat, treated like a Sabbath so there's no work done on that particular day. 

Then that day is followed by what began at sundown tonight, goes to sundown tomorrow night which is a celebration referred to in Judaism as Simmkat Torah which has to do with the joy of the Torah, the giving of the Law. Now this is not a biblical; neither Shemini Atzeret nor Simmkat Torah are biblically based holidays. They came into Judaism in over time. Simmkat Torah came in around the ninth or tenth century as a time to celebrate the giving of the Law. In Judaism they focus on the reading of the Torah. Many times they don't read the rest of the Hebrew Scriptures or are not as familiar with them because the Torah is divided into 54 sections. Each week they read one of those sections so they're quite large. At the end of the year they'll read the last couple of chapters in Deuteronomy and then the first couple of Genesis. This is a public reading the Scripture. 

Of course that was practiced in both the Old Testament period and in the New Testament times. It's referred to in several passages in the book of Acts. But as it is presently observed that is just a celebration (holiday) that comes in rather late in history. As you can see if you are an observant Jew during the month of September you pretty much have a lot of holidays; and you don't go to work very much. So it's a little difficult to get any business done you might say. 

Our study tonight is in Hebrews 12, which I'm calling the preparation for the Bema. That's the focal point in the last section of Hebrews 12:25-28. This is really the warning section. There is an exhortation or a challenge in 12:1-24. This ends with a short four-verse warning to those to whom the writer is speaking. He's challenging them once again with the dangers that come if you fall into what we would call carnality. You fall into a lengthy period of disobedience and rebellion against God if you just give up your Christianity and decide to live according to some other religious system or if in their case decide to go back to Judaism yielding to the pressure, the adversity, the opposition that they encountered in some cases persecution that they encountered or if you just decided to say, "Well the heck with it. I'm just going to live for myself and give up following Scripture," there are consequences. There is a spiritual danger that we are warned about because not only will that possibly entail divine discipline and punishment during this life but it also will lead to the loss of rewards at the Judgment Seat of Christ. 

The Judgment Seat of Christ is described in 1 Corinthians 3. In 1 Corinthians 3 there's a description of all of our works, good and bad. That is divine good versus human good all piled up as if it were going to be burned. The burning is indicative of purification. This begins in 1 Corinthians 3 beginning in verse 10. Paul uses the analogy of being a builder. The foundation is Christ and our lives are made of the many different decisions and many different activities. As it were we are constructing something on the foundation of Jesus Christ. 

Some of the materials that we use are the products of our flesh or sin nature and they have no value. It can be good or not. The issue here isn't judgment of sin.  The issue here is that there are things that we build with that are not the product of the Holy Spirit. They are defined as wood, hay and straw. Other building elements are defined as gold, silver and precious stones or are described as gold, silver and precious stones. That reflects the fruit of the Spirit, the work of the Spirit in our life and the production of the Spirit that produces something of enduring value – gold, silver and precious stones. 

So the Judgment Seat of Christ there is this picture of the burning up of all of the building materials so that that which has no enduring value is destroyed.  The focal point is not on exposing what is bad but exposing what's left, which is the gold, silver, and the precious stones. A lot of people get all worried about that, but the word that is used here in verse 13 that the fire will test each man's work is a Greek word that indicates evaluation for the purpose of showing what is good, not evaluation for the purpose of showing what is bad. 

So the fire as it were burns up that which has no eternal value and then rewards are based on what survives, on what endures. That which endures is that which is produced by God the Holy Spirit in our life. So the warning comes here in verse 25, as the writer says:

NKJ Hebrews 12:25 See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. …

That takes us back to the illustration he just used of the two mountains. The mountain of Sinai where God appeared to the nation Israel spoke to them from the mountain so they can hear it. Their response was fear and trembling. Their desire was that, "Lord, we don't want to listen you, the voice scares us. Send Moses up on the mountain and explain. Give the Law to him."

In Exodus this was depicted as not a bad thing. In fact God said that it was a good thing. But what the writer of Hebrews is focusing on when he paints it as a negative thing is the consequence. The consequence was in that rebellious generation of the exodus generation even though they've heard the voice of God, even though they had seen all of the miracles leading up to the exodus, even though they saw and witnessed God deliver them again and again from enemies during the 40 years in the wilderness, even though they saw God provide manna for them every day. Their shoes didn't wear out. Their clothes didn't wear out. God protected and preserved them for those 40 years. Nevertheless they were disobedience and rebellious again and again and again. 

This is the same type of point that the writer of Hebrews made back in Hebrew 3 when he warned the readers again not to be like that exodus generation who because of disobedience and because they did not believe God failed to enter into the rest, the rest being entering into the Promised Land and God's provision. So God had to discipline them, and they never saw their reward of entering into the Promised Land.

Here he warns them again.

NKJ Hebrews 12:25 See that,

"See to it." He uses the Greek imperative (the present active imperative) which indicates continuous action in a person's life; that it's not just a one time decision but that we are to continuously be on guard that we not slip into extended carnality.

you do not refuse Him who speaks.

God not only spoke at Sinai, but He speaks again from the heavenly Zion in terms of the New Covenant and what is provided for us in Jesus Christ. We are not to refuse Him who speaks. That is, to the revelation of the New Covenant, revelation that is within the New Testament scriptures. Then he explains it to drive the point home. He says, "See to it that you do not refuse Him." That means to say no or to reject what God says. 

For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke

The verb there for escape is simply the aorist form of ekpheugo meaning literally to escape, to escape judgment or escape the consequences of their action.  It's a first class condition. The "if" should be understood as "if and this is true." They did not escape. There were consequences—consequences in time and consequences in eternity. 

on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven

 That is from Mount Sinai. Here uses what's called an a fortiori argument which is an argument from the weaker to the stronger. He says if the Israelites at Sinai didn't escape the consequences of disobeying God who spoke from Mount Sinai, how much more will we not escape consequences when we are refusing to listen to the God who is speaking from the heavenly Mountain Zion and speaking to us through the New Testament?

Once again this is building the results of the fact that we are in a superior relationship to God based on the sacrifice of Christ. Therefore more is expected of us and the consequences are even more certain. 

So he draws this contrast. 

on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven

Going on he says, describing the One who speaks from heaven: 

NKJ Hebrews 12:26 whose voice then shook the earth;

That is, at Sinai shook the earth.

but now He has promised, saying,

He goes back in this contrast from Sinai and shaking the earth (physical manifestation) to the present situation. 

"Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven."

This is speaking of judgment that will come. This is what comes eventually, and it is just a broad term for judgment. There's judgment evaluation at the Bema Seat, at the Judgment Seat of Christ, which occurs for the believer immediately after the rapture. 

We know from our study of Revelation 4 and 5 that this occurs before the Tribulation begins. The Lamb goes to receive the scroll which He opens which begins the Tribulation from a heavenly perspective, but before that happens the saints have already (the 24 elders there) before the throne and there's a lengthy analysis of that in the Revelation series that the 24 elders represent the resurrected, raptured and rewarded Church Age believers. They have stephanos crowns on their heads, which are reward crowns as opposed to diadema crowns, which are crowns of royalty. So the fact that they're wearing these stephanos crowns, these aren't angels. Angels don't receive rewards like that. There are various other reasons within the text including to hymn that they sing saying that they have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. Well, angels aren't redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. So the 24 elders represent redeemed mankind. That can only be the church. So there's the Bema Seat that takes place at that point. Then there's a judgment that occurs after the tribulation, the judgment upon the surviving Jews, the surviving Gentiles. Then of course we have the Great White Throne Judgment that occurs at the end of the Millennial Kingdom. 

This is just a broad general statement that judgment is coming. It's not being specific to any one judgment. As we will see it's applied specifically here to warn Church Age believers. 

"Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven."

NKJ Hebrews 12:27 Now this,

Present tense

"Yet once more,"

This phrase "yet once more" indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken.

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.

There are things that won't remain; and things that will remain. That is the same thing that we see depicted in 1 Corinthians 3. There is gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay and straw. The wood, hay and straw won't survive the Judgment Seat of Christ. The gold, silver, and precious stones are works that are done when we walk in the Spirit when we are abiding in Christ, when we are in fellowship. The Holy Spirit produces those works. That survives on into eternity. So the things that are being shaken (the things that are made that won't remain) are the wood, hay and straw. The things that will remain are the gold, silver, and precious stones.

Now we see this same reference to the earthquake and the shaking of the earth at Sinai described in Psalm 67:7-8. The psalms are rich with detail about what happened at Sinai, details that aren't included in the description in the Exodus 19 and 20. It's not there. God didn't feel like it was necessary, didn't believe it was necessary to reveal everything at that point so we can find different references (different descriptions) in the psalms that are fill in the gaps.

For example when I pointed out when we read through Exodus 19 that God descended in a dark cloud and there was thundering and there was lightening. It didn't mention rain, did it? But we have rain mentioned here in Psalm 67:7-8.

NKJ Psalm 68:7 O God, when You went out before Your people, When You marched through the wilderness, Selah

NKJ Psalm 68:8 The earth shook; The heavens also dropped rain at the presence of God; Sinai itself was moved at the presence of God, the God of Israel.

So there were the dark clouds of thunder, the lightning. There was also rain. The heavens poured down rain.

Now the application to us comes in verse 28 which says:

NKJ Hebrews 12:28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken,

Remember part of what endures is that which can't be shaken. 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.

This is the conclusion he draws having gone through everything in chapter 12 and the application and warning.

NKJ Hebrews 12:28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace,

This is the Messianic Kingdom. This is the Millennial Kingdom, the kingdom that will come when Jesus returns at the end of the Tribulation period. This is a heavenly kingdom in the gospels that's referred to as the Kingdom of God as well as the Kingdom of Heaven. The terms Kingdom of God and Kingdom of Heaven are not talking about two different kingdoms. The Kingdom of Heaven is a term I believe that is unique to Matthew. All the uses of that are found within Matthew's Gospel. The other Gospel writers use the other term, the Kingdom of God. 

Therefore we are receiving the kingdom as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ when we are raptured and rewarded. Part of our reward is that we are going to serve God and serve the Lord Jesus Christ in the administration of the Millennial Kingdom. We are going to have different positions of responsibility; and we are being trained today to have the capacity to serve in those positions when the kingdom is established. The writer here is reminding them of what their future destiny is. What our future destiny is as believers is that because one day in the future we're going to have the opportunity to serve in the administration of the kingdom on earth. We have to live today in light of that reality. We have to be prepared. We recognize we are being prepared today.  The more we learn to walk by means of the Spirit to serve God we build in our souls the capacity to serve God, to glorify Him and to understand how to live in the midst of opposition. This prepares our character and it prepares our maturity so that we can then serve Him in the Millennial Kingdom. 

by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.

"by which" – that is, by grace. It refers to grace orientation, learning to live and walk by means of grace. That takes us back remember to the warning that came in relationship to being weak in a race. The imagery that undergirds all of chapter 12 is the image of a race. We're to run with endurance the race to set before us by keeping our focus by looking into Jesus' the author and completer of our faith.

NKJ Hebrews 12:2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith,

Now some who run the race grow weary. They're tired. Their legs give out; their muscles give out. 

So the challenge that's given to us in verse 12 was: 

NKJ Hebrews 12:12 Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees,

Don't give up. Don't fade out of the race before you hit the finish line. Keep running. So you need to strengthen the hands that hang down and the feeble knees.

NKJ Hebrews 12:13 and make straight paths for your feet…

That's a reference to sound doctrine.

And we are to pursue peace with all people. We studied that in terms of having peaceful relationships as a mandate for all those in our periphery.

NKJ Hebrews 12:14 Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord:

That's a special reward for maturing believers in the Millennial Kingdom. 

NKJ Hebrews 12:15 looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God…

I pointed out what that meant was that instead of dealing with people in grace and forgiveness and pursuing peace there are some who just are going to hold a grudge, be involved in vengeance and a desire for some kind of retribution in a wrong way motivated by selfishness instead of being motivated by a desire to see righteousness done. Sometimes that should be our motivation.

Now when we're looking at this verse we're told, "Let us have grace." This is the same grace he's talking about. We are to have grace dominate all of the aspects of our relationships, forgiving one another as God for Christ's sake has forgiven us, pursuing peace with all men. That is to characterize us. So grace orientation undergirds everything in the spiritual life. It is on the basis of grace that we serve God acceptably. 

NKJ Hebrews 12:28 …let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear

Then we have two interesting words are not common today, reverence and godly fear. They are words that usually reverberate with all of the heavy trappings of years of religion and piety in Christianity and their meaning gets lost. It's like words like holiness. They are words that are used so much that we lose or miss their significance. 

The first word translates the Greek word eulabeia, which refers fear or awe or piety. It's used four times in the New Testament. It means someone who's devout. That means someone who is consistent in their pursuit of spiritual growth and someone who's God fearing, somebody who recognizes the fear of the Lord. In Proverbs the fear of the Lord is not just respect for God; but it's a certain sense of fear of retribution. 

Most of you probably love your father very much. But there were times when you did wrong and there was a certain fear of retribution or punishment that would come in a correct way from your father. That's the idea here. We love and respected God, but we know there are consequences to wrong decisions.  So we serve God with reverence and with godly fear.

Now that's a funny way to translate it but it's a somewhat difficult word. It's only used one time in the New Testament and that is the word deos, which means an emotion of profound respect or reverence for deity. There's an overlap between these two words. Together they respect a deep profound respect for God, recognition that we live in the midst of the angelic conflict and that in the decisions we make and the actions that we take, in the thoughts that we have, everything is related to our spiritual destiny; and all related to our future role as those who will reign in the body of Christ with the Lord Jesus Christ during the Millennial Kingdom and then on into eternity. 

Because we are receiving this kingdom, because we're thinking in terms of our future destiny which can't be shaken (that won't disappear), we are to live on the basis of a grace mentality, which means we deal with people not in terms of the nasty scum bags that they actually are (the fools, the idiots or whatever that cross our paths) but in the same way God deals with us as obnoxious individuals who've been disobedient to God. He deals with us in grace and in kindness. We are to let that govern everything in our lives. We should be known as a kind and gracious people. We are to serve God with this attitude of reverence and godly fear or this reverence and respect. 

Then that is explained. 

NKJ Hebrews 12:29 For our God is a consuming fire.

That is a very good translation. It refers to for example – Deuteronomy 4:24 is a good reference in the Old Testament. But this indicates that God is a judge, and there is an evaluation coming. So often we emphasize the grace of God in terms of our salvation—that it's not based on works, that sin is all paid for at to cross, that sin is not an issue—but for the rest of our lives after we are saved sin is an issue only that for all the times that we're sinning we're not producing in terms of walking by the Spirit and we're not growing and maturing. It's just wasted time, wasted energy and wasted opportunity. If our life is dedicated to wasted opportunity and we're serving ourselves or we're serving our sin nature rather than serving the Lord then that adds up to nothing. So the focal point is that we are to be serving the Lord and growing and maturing in Him because there is an evaluation coming at the Judgment Seat of Christ, otherwise known as the Bema. 

Now at this point the writer is going to shift gears into giving some specific direction. There is a series of commandments that are given between verse 1 and verse 17 in the coming chapter that are going to focus us specific areas of application. Now what is interesting is that we haven't had the writer of the Hebrews get this specific in terms of the application for 12 chapters. When we come to the end he is going to get down to specific application. There's an interesting application to his structure here that is important for us to understand. We live in a world today where we want immediate gratification. People want to go to church and they don't want to get all confused or have to think about theology and doctrine. They just want to go listen to a sermon where basic questions are going to be asked.

I remember taking a class on church growth when I was in seminary.  

One of the things that the speaker (the professor) said was, "You ought to have sermon series and sermon titles that answer questions. People are coming.   They want to know how to have a happy marriage, how to be successful in life. They want to know how to avoid depression and destruction and how to raise godly kids and all these questions. So try to structure your sermons in terms of answering those kinds of questions."

Well, that just leads to and promotes the ongoing superficial approach to the Christian life. It actually promotes a self-righteous approach to the Christian life because when you remove the doctrinal foundation…  Sometimes I've thought about doing something like this and going through all of the epistles in the New Testament and categorizing each chapter as to whether it was a doctrinal or teaching chapter explaining how we are to think from the chapters that deal with application. We would probably be surprised to discover that our New Testament would shrink by about two-thirds because about two-thirds of the New Testament, I think, has to do with understanding what God has done for us at the cross and the implications of that for our day-to-day life. But it is understanding justification. 

Look at Romans for just a second, which we will start at some time in the future when I finish up Hebrews. We're going to jump into Romans. When we get into Romans we'll discover the first 11 chapters all deal with what people today would call heavy theology. Then it's only the last four chapters or five chapters that focus on application. But even the application section deals with a lot of what people today would call doctrine. 

The way I use doctrine is to include both because doctrine teaches you not only what we might call the theoretical or thoughtful undergirding of what we do, but also what we do. When we cut that down and you take away all those doctrinal sections all you're left with is nothing more than another ethical list of do's and don'ts. The Christian life is not based on ethics, it is based on walking by the Spirit. Now it has ethics. It has do's and don'ts, but the do's and don'ts are not the focal point. The focal point is understanding who we are in Jesus Christ, what Jesus Christ has provided for us, and how we walk by the Spirit because we can't do the do's and don'ts if we're not walking by the Spirit. The Christian life is not a pull-yourself-up-by-your-own-boot-straps religious life. It is not the life based on morality, it is a life based on a spiritual relationship with God the Holy Spirit who produces in us this changed mentality and changed life style. 

It's not legalism. Legalism is just trying to do it by means of the flesh. That was the whole problem with the Galatian believers. The Judiazers had come in behind Paul and Barnabas and were saying if you really want to experience the spiritual life you have to obey the law. There was no discussion about the role of God the Holy Spirit at all. So once again it just reduces the Christian life to just morality. 

That is what passes in most churches and most denominations as the spiritual life. You just go out there and quit doing this and start doing that and you'll be spiritual. That is not what the Bible says. Anybody can morally reform their life. But to do it in the power of God the Holy Spirit takes a relationship with the Spirit that is based on all of these doctrinal sections within the Word of God understanding what Christ did for us on the cross, understanding who we are in Christ in terms of baptism of the Holy Spirit and our identification with Him and what that means in terms of being free from the power of the sin nature and the role of God the Holy Spirit and understanding all of that. 

That is what Paul does in the first 8 chapters of Romans is to make sure you understand it. He does that in the first 3 chapters of Galatians. He does it in the first 3 chapters of Ephesians. He does it in the first 5 chapters in Galatians. He does it in the first couple of chapters in Colossians. The writer of Hebrews does it for 12 chapters before he gets down to those nice, easy bullet principles: do this, don't do that that we find coming up in the chapter. So you can't understand the insignificance and the role of the prohibitions and mandates in chapter 13 if you don't lock it down in terms of the framework of grace and understanding the training apparatus of the spiritual life for our future destiny in the Millennial Kingdom that's described in these first 12 chapters.

When we start getting into chapter 13, we see that the first commandment that is reiterated here is the command to let brotherly love continue. It is a mandate that is given. Even though it is addressed in the singular it applies to every believer. It is given in the singular because it is applied to each individual.

The word for brother of brotherly love is the compound word philadelphia from the noun philos meaning love and adelphos meaning brother. Combined together it means brotherly love. Normally when we think about this the Greek word for love that comes to mind is agape or the verb agapao. That is the verb as we'll see that Jesus used in John 13:34-35 when He said:

NKJ John 13:34 "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

So Jesus used agapao there, that we are to love in the agape sense, which is more of a mental attitude love than philos. Philos is a more intimate love. It's not that they're opposites or they overlap. It's that philos is a subset of agape love. Agape love can cover so a wide spectrum of love and philos love is a more intimate love, more of a friendship related to it. So it's a subset of agape love, not one or the other. It's that philos love is included within agape love, but there is more to agape love. 

Let's just see how these words are used, and you might be surprised at a couple things we discover in the New Testament. One other thing I want to point out here is a verb continue. The word continue translates the verb meno. Meno is the word that gets used in John 15, that we are to abide in Christ. Just as the branch abides in the vine, so we are to abide in Christ. It's a term that is used many times in 1 John as well that is akin to fellowship. It's not always used that way but it's primarily used that way in John 15 and in number later passages in John as well as in 1 John. So whenever I see that word the first thing comes to my mind is this talking about fellowship. It's not talking about getting saved. It is a fellowship issue here that love is to characterize our ongoing relationship with Christ. So brotherly love is to continue.

Let's look at some of the other places in the New Testament where we have this word philadelphia used and see how it relates to the spiritual life. 

In Romans 12:10, the first chapter in Romans that starts dealing with application Paul says:

NKJ Romans 12:10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love,

Now that is the New King James translation. I would switch it around because the first word is philadelphia. I would say that it should be translated:

                             Have brotherly love toward one another with kind affection. 

That is philastorge. It's the only time this word is used in the New Testament. Storge had to do with the kind of love of a stork. 

I just thought about this now. I remember when we first went to Greece and you're driving down the highways in Greece and you see these huge stork nests on top of the telephone poles and up in the trees. As the mother stork took care of her babies that was a certain kind of love emphasizing affection and care. So storge was one word that was used to describe one kind of love. 

In the Greek you had eros describing the sexual lust. You had agape. You had philos. You had storge and I think there were a couple of other minor words that were also useful for love. This is the only time you have a form of storge used in the New Testament. 

So brotherly love should be philadelphia and this kind affection should be how philastorge is translated. 

So we're to show brotherly love towards one another with kind affection. This is then described in a little more concrete sense.

in honor giving preference to one another;

It's not me first. We're not self-absorbed. It is always trying to help the other person, putting the other person first. 

In 1 Thessalonians 4:9 we read (Paul says this just before that well known rapture section):

NKJ 1 Thessalonians 4:9 But concerning brotherly love

There's philadelphia again.

you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God

To what?

to love one another;

Notice he uses philadelphia first then he describes it with agapao so that these are seen as overlapping and synonymous and not different kinds of love so that within the body of Christ there is an emphasis on this familial type of love that goes beyond something of just a mental attitude love that is devoid of mental attitude sins. The love we're to have for one another there is a positive initiating involvement with other people not just avoiding the negatives. It also involves the positives. 

The classic example is from the Gospels with the Samaritan who comes along and he's seen the Jewish traveler has been beaten up and robbed. The Samaritan who is certainly no friend of the Jews because they have such a prejudice toward them picks him up, takes him home, takes care of him, gives him new clothes, nurses him back to health, gives him food, gives him money and helps him on his way so that this illustrates the kind of love we should have. It's not just a love that avoids negative sins but a love that reaches out and that initiates and that is positive. 

So when we go back to that new commandment that Jesus gave in John 13:34-35 that:

NKJ John 13:34 "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

NKJ John 13:35 "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."

We see that in these passages specifically the 1 Thess 4:9 passage, there's a connection between agapao love and philadelphia love.  

Then just to connect all the dots for you, in John 13 here is at the end of the Upper Room discourse as they're getting ready to leave to go Gethsemane in John 15 where we have the discourse on abiding in Him, He then ties them together using both the word love (agape) as well as emphasizing obedience in the Word. It says:

NKJ John 15:10 "If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love.

There's that word meno.

If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love

How do you stay in fellowship? By being obedient. If you're disobedient, you're out of fellowship. You have to confess your sins and you're back in fellowship.

If you keep My commandments, you will abide

You'll stay in fellowship. That's what he's saying. You'll stay in fellowship.

you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love.

NKJ John 15:11 "These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you,

When you're out of fellowship you lose that joy. 

and that your joy may be full.

NKJ John 15:12 "This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you

Here we have love related to staying in fellowship to abiding in Christ. 

One other passage to go to on this is in 1 Peter 1:22 and 2 Peter 1:7.  In 1 Peter 1:22 Peter says:

NKJ 1 Peter 1:22 Since you have purified

He uses a perfect participle here, which indicates completed action.

your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit

This, because it is completed action, probably alludes to being set apart to God in Christ at the moment of salvation. 

in sincere love of the brethren,

Then he commands:

love one another fervently

The word translated fervently is the Greek word ektenos, which indicates constantly or continuously.

with a pure heart,

Katharos, a cleansed heart.

NKJ 1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to

To what?

cleanse us.

Katharizo, the verb form.

from all unrighteousness

So this loving one another constantly only occurs when we're in fellowship, when we are cleansed from sin. 

Then we have another use of it in 2 Peter 1:7.

NKJ 2 Peter 1:7 to godliness brotherly kindness,

That's philadelphia again.

and to brotherly kindness love.

There is a progression there starting about verse 5 of 2 Peter 1:5 going through various virtues and disciplines in the spiritual life, and the final one is His love (agape). So brotherly kindness (adelphia) is a part of the growth of the believer leading to love in terms of love for one another the sign of being a believer.

The first commandment there is that we are to let brotherly love continue or to abide in brotherly love.

In verse 2 we get our first example of this.

NKJ Hebrews 13:2 Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.

Now he's talking about hospitality to strangers, to people we don't know. Here we see an illusion back to an incident in the Old Testament in Genesis 18 when Abraham is near the Oaks of Mamre down near Hebron. He looks and sees three travelers approaching his tent. He goes out and meets them. He invites them to come in and stay at his house. They stay. He provides food and water for them so that they can rest. He goes out and kills a calf and butchers it and prepares a meal. It's not like running down to HEB or running down to Whole Foods and picking up a prepared meal coming home and taking care of your guests. It takes awhile to kill the calf and to skin it and to butcher it and to build a fire and to cook it. So this is a long day affair. But this is the idea here of hospitality.

NKJ Hebrews 13:2 Do not forget to entertain strangers,

Or, to be hospitable toward strangers

for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.

This is one of those verses people take out of context and say, "Well, somebody knocked on my door and I ought to invite them in (a homeless person who is going to commit some kind of violent crime against me) to my house because they might be an angel."

You only interpret it that way if you're ignorant of the Bible. This is a historical reference to the fact that when Abraham invited these three men in, one is the pre-incarnate Lord Jesus Christ and the other two were angels that get sent on at the end of the chapter to bring judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah, and to rescue Lot and attempt to rescue his wife from Sodom. 

NKJ Hebrews 13:2 Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.

That happened in the Old Testament in Genesis 18. So the first example of brotherly love is to be hospitable. 

This is also required of pastors. In 1 Timothy 3:2, in Titus 1:8; Christian leaders are commanded to be hospitable to others.

In verse 3 we have our second specific example of love for one another.

NKJ Hebrews 13:3 Remember the prisoners as if chained with them -- those who are mistreated -- since you yourselves are in the body also.

In terms of the immediate context, it's not talking about a prison ministry up at the prison up at Huntsville or some other prison. That can be an application. This is talking about believers who have been put in prison for their faith. That's the immediate context. Remember they're undergoing persecution from various Jewish and Roman authorities in Judea because of their Christianity. So they're to remember them as if that was them in there. How would you like to be treated if you were in prison? This is just a manifestation of the golden rule.

I don't know if you caught this on the news. You all need to be really observant in the news these days because our beloved President had one of his backyard town meetings this last week in Albuquerque. Somebody who was primed asked this question in the audience, said, "Well Mr. President, why did you become a Christian?" He did specifically state that he believed that Jesus died and paid for his sins. He specifically said that. But he also said that the reason he became a Christian even though he didn't grow up in a church going home was because he believed in the precepts of Jesus - number one that we are to be our brother's keeper, and number two the golden rule.

Well, for the biblically illiterate that sounds so religious and so nice. Let's just address the first one being your brother's keeper. Nowhere are we commanded to be our brother's keeper. That is a favorite verse from those who have a socialist view of Christianity, e.g. that we are supposed to give everything away to help the poor. And if we don't do it then get the government to make us do it. That is just garbage. It has nothing to do with Christianity.  The only place that phrase is used in the Bible is in Genesis 4 when Cain killed Abel and God comes to Cain and says, "I can't find our brother. Where is he?" 

"Who am I?  My brother's keeper?"

It is a sarcastic retort to God to avoid answering the question. It is not a mandate by Jesus. It's in Genesis 4, the fourth chapter the Bible. Jesus doesn't come around for 4,000 years. It's not unique to Christianity. I don't know one person who had two brain cells they connected to each other that became a Christian based on that verse. It just doesn't happen.

Second thing is the golden rule. There are various proverbial statements in anything from the Code of Hammurabi, which actually was written prior to the Mosaic Law, to Confucius to Buddhism to Shintoism; various forms of the statement that people should put themselves in the place of other people and treat people as they want to be treated. 

This I think has its origin in revelation from God and it works its way out through the history of other religions as they sort of water things down, change things and distort things. But it's not something that is unique to Christianity. That's my point. I mean Jesus refers to it in Luke 10 in one form, but that's really a comment on Leviticus 18:16 to love your neighbor as yourself. So neither of these little things that our President mentioned as being precepts of Jesus are really precepts of Jesus. What it does is it just shows his absolute abysmal ignorance of Christianity and the Bible – kind of like when his Vice President was asked what his favorite book in the New Testament was and he said it was Job. 

You know, politicians just need to keep their mouths shut. I mean I don't care if they're pagan. I don't care if they don't know anything about the Bible. But don't insult the intelligence of the Christians in the country by misquoting, misrepresenting the Bible and just show that you're stupid and ignorant about Christianity and religion. Or, maybe it's just their speechwriters. I don't know. 

But anyway the point here is to put yourself in the place of these prisoners. How would you want them treated? They're not given good food in a Roman prison or Jewish prison. They would take food to them. In some cases the leaders in local churches would be able to bribe the guards to spend the night with their church members who were in prison. They could take food to them and they could help them and minister to their needs and bring some unleavened bread and wine so they could have the Lord's Table and teach them and encourage them up from the Word. The second thing we're to do is to remember the prisoners as if chained with them. 

The third thing has to do with marriage, going back to the second divine institution that of all the places that you're going to apply the principle to love one another as the Lord loved you it ought to be in your marriage. It ought to have to do, especially husbands are commanded to love your wives, but wives also do love their husbands. Marriage is honorable, and the marriage bed should not be defiled. There should not be sex outside of marriage either with a same sex partner or other sex partner. Sex should not be up conducted outside of marriage and it should be restricted to marriage, which is between a man and woman biblically, not between Adam and Steve or Eve and Susan. It is between a man and woman and that any kind of sexual activity outside of marriage comes under the classification of either fornication where there's no marriage involved in either party or adultery which is where one or both of the parties are married.

God will judge. This is seen in a number of passages in the New Testament scriptures. For example, in 1 Corinthians 6:9 and Galatians 5:19-21, where those who continue in carnality will not enter (meaning they will not inherit) the kingdom of God. It does not mean that they lose salvation but that there are consequences to such behavior – refusing to listen to God as seen back in verse 25 and 26 in the previous chapter. So the summary is then given in verses 5 and 6.

NKJ Hebrews 13:5 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."

This involves a marriage. This involves in your life and ignoring the needs of those who are imprisoned. This involves not being covetous. This involves hospitality and taking care of strangers. All of that would just be pure covetous or selfishness which is the opposite of love. 

NKJ Hebrews 13:5 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."

This is a summary of quotes from the Old Testament. Genesis 28:15 where God promised Jacob:

NKJ Genesis 28:15 "Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you."

This is a promise to Jacob as he is leaving to go north.

God said, "I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you."

Again Moses reiterates this principle in Deuteronomy 31:6-8 that God would be with them and He would not leave or forsake them. 

NKJ Deuteronomy 31:8 "And the LORD, He is the one who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed."

Again it's reiterated to Joshua in Joshua 1:5.

So we have the conclusion to this opening section in verse 6.

NKJ Hebrews 13:6 So we may boldly say: "The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?"

This is the same word that's used in Hebrew in the original the same word that's used of a wife. A wife is to be an ezer. This is not a subordinate position because the only other person in all of the scriptures who is defined as an ezer or helper is God. 

So if you say, "Oh, this is so demeaning to women that they are to be an assistant to men," what you have said is for God to assist us is a demeaning position. You have just committed blasphemy. 

NKJ Hebrews 13:6 So we may boldly say: "The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?"

This comes from a couple passages in the Psalms.

NKJ Psalm 27:1 A Psalm of David. The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?

NKJ Psalm 118:6 The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?

Alright, this takes us up to verse 7 and we will continue next time with the remainder of these applications, exhortations that the writer of Hebrews gives between verse 7 and 17. 

Let's close in prayer.