Sunday, October 28, 2018

Christ Through the Bible- Hebrews

Hebrews 1:1-3 - God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by [his] Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of [his] glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;
Hebrews 8:6 - But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.
Hebrews 11:1-3 - Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good report. Through faith, we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.
 The Book of Hebrews was written to those who understood the Old Testament but were confused about how it related to the New Covenant.  The Jews who had accepted Jesus as the Messiah had become outcasts, lost property and suffered persecution by those who rejected Jesus. Then there were those who were having second thoughts about following Jesus after weighing the costs.  Some were trying to compromise to appease the Jewish authorities, and others did not understand Jesus as applied to the Law of Moses.
The author of Hebrew answers the questions the Jewish believers struggled with during the first century of the new church.  The author shows how Jesus was superior to Moses.  Hebrews show how the death of Jesus eliminated the need for the Levitical system.
Where the First Century Christians struggled with the New Covenant today’s Christians struggled with the Old Covenant.
The book of Hebrews is the bridge that connects the Old Testament and the New. These covenants are entirely different and yet many Christians approach God based on Old Testament Law instead of New Testament faith. The entire book is about Jesus and how He is the guarantee of a new and better covenant.
Christ's sacrifice for our sins was perfect and complete. All the laws, rituals and animal sacrifices of the Old Testament pointed toward Jesus. When we accept him as Savior, our sins are forgiven.
The Old Testament was understood as the means of salvation by the Jews.  The had their high priest, temple, holy place, holy of holies, and sacrifices, these things they understood.  It was part of their religious life.  What they did not realize was how Jesus fit into all the rituals and worship.
The writer of Hebrews is trying to explain to them that Christ has already come to be the high priest. He is the high priest of the good things we now have. But Christ does not serve in a place like a tent or a temple that those other priests served in. He serves in a better place. Unlike the Tabernacle of the Old Testament, this one is perfect. It was not made by anyone here on earth. It does not belong to this world.  As the High Priest Christ entered the Most Holy Place only one time—enough for all time. He entered the Most Holy Place by using his own blood, not the blood of goats or young bulls. He entered there and made us free from sin forever.
The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a cow were sprinkled on those who were no longer pure enough to enter the place of worship. The blood and ashes made them pure again—but only their bodies.  The blood sacrifice of Christ can do much more. Christ offered himself through the eternal Spirit as a perfect sacrifice to God. His blood will make us completely clean from the evil we have done. It will give us clear consciences so that we can worship the living God. Not by our own efforts can we find salvation, only through Jesus Christ can we be saved.
The whole point of the Christian faith is that we could never earn our salvation no matter how hard we worked, or how great a sacrifice we could make. Even if we gave our bodies to be burned for the love of Christ, it would not make us one bit worthier. If we could crawl to Jerusalem on broken glass, it would not make us one bit more deserving of heaven. There is only one way that our sins can be taken away — only one sacrifice that is enough to atone for our sins. It is the perfect sacrifice of Christ, and this sacrifice makes all other sacrifices unnecessary.
Jesus’ sacrifice was the perfect sacrifice, first, because: He was one of us. In Old Testament times God told the people to sacrifice animals as a temporary covering for their sins. It was an interim plan for the perfect sacrifice that was coming. As they confessed their sins and laid their hands on the head of the animal which was to be sacrificed, they understood that something was dying in their place. They deserved to die, but God was providing a substitute. This sacrificial lamb was to be a picture of the perfect Lamb of God who would come. After the lamb was sacrificed on the altar, the person who offered the lamb would take it home, and the whole family would eat the lamb in a sacrificial feast. The sacrifice would become a part of them. The sins of the people in Old Testament times were covered as they looked forward to the perfect sacrifice that was coming. Our sins are taken away as we look backward to the perfect sacrifice of Christ.
Once we start this journey with Christ, you will find that it is not an easy one. We will know the temptation. By depending on Jesus for help, however, we can grow stronger and bring glory to God with our life.
The example of this journey is found in the life of Abraham.  Abraham stepping out in faith to leave the land of his ancestors and go to a place chosen by God was a journey of faith. He did not know where he was going, but he knew who he would be traveling with – and that was good enough for him.
 The New Testament relates how the earliest term used to refer to Christians was ‘those who belong to the Way’ (Acts 9:2). They were travelers on their way to the New Jerusalem.
Thinking of the Christian life as a journey through the world offers a way of visualizing the life of faith. It reminds us that we are going somewhere. We are on our way to the New Jerusalem. It encourages us to think ahead and look forward with anticipation to the joy of arrival. One day we shall finally be with God and see our Lord face to face!
Yet traveling does more than lead us to our goal. The journey is itself a process, which enables us to grow and develop as we press on to our goal. To travel is indeed about finally achieving journey’s end, with all the joy and delight that this will bring - but it is also about experiencing and encouraging personal and spiritual growth within us as we travel. Journeying is a process which helps our development as people and as believers.
We start this journey by faith, and we complete this journey by faith.  Faith is pleasing to God. We express our faith through obedience to God. God's greatest promise to us is salvation, and that promise was fulfilled through the sacrifice of his Son, Jesus Christ.
Faith is what makes real the things we hope for. It is proof of what we cannot see.
Faith leads us to a holy life.  Holiness is an electrifying and dividing word in Christian circles. The reason is simple. God has implanted a passion for holiness deep in every born-again heart.
“Wherefore, come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:17-18)
Although holiness has a certain intangible quality, Scripture presents holiness in a clear, concise manner. Holiness, as witnessed in the verses above, is twofold. It requires a separation from whatever is contrary to the mind of God; and separation or dedication unto God Himself. “…Come out from among them and be ye separate…” involves the primary separation from the word. “…And I will receive you…” involves the secondary separation or acceptance unto and by God.
The New Testament uses two words for holiness: hagiasmos, (hag-ee-ahs-mos) translated as sanctification; and hosiotes,( hos-ee-ot-ace) translated as holiness. The words are synonymous and are used interchangeably. Both imply a consecration for service on the human side and an acceptance for use on the Divine side.
Holiness can also be understood by noticing its antonyms in the New Testament. Paul contrasted holiness with immorality and impurity (1 Thessalonians 4:3-7). Peter contrasted holiness with the lusts of the former life (1 Peter 1:13-16). John contrasted the person who is holy to those who are evil and vile (Revelation 22:11).
Concerning God, holiness means absolute purity and moral perfection. For a man, holiness means conformity to God’s character, thinking as He thinks, loving what He loves, hating what He hates, and acting as Christ would act.
So, holiness is a distinctive quality of living that identifies a person to be a Christian or Christ-like. It is walking in the Spirit, such that the fruit of the Spirit is evident (Galatians 5:16-25) and the desires of the flesh are not being gratified (Romans 8:13).
Paul, in Romans 6, explains that through salvation, we become new creatures. We are crucified with Christ, thus, ending a life dominated by sin. We are then raised to walk in newness of life which was wrought through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Dethroned of sin, we are given a deep, sustaining desire to know God, to please God, and to draw near unto God. This is the new birth. This is the starting point for holiness.
To a spiritually risen man, holiness is a natural way of life, just as sin is natural to a spiritually dead man. As we pursue holiness through obedience to God, we are following the most profound urge of our own renewed being. We could rightfully call the pursuit of holiness the “Christ instinct:” (Romans 6:10,11).
In summary, holiness is God-taught, Spirit-wrought Christlikeness. In both sum and substance, it is seen as committed discipleship, consecration, and the responsive outflow of a grateful born-again heart.
We are called to persevere. Despite temptations, trials, discipline, and backsliding, we can endure. God is faithful and has prepared a heavenly home for us.
Christians are called to persevere in the faith.

 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear the fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me, John 15:4. Believers are called to abide in Christ; to walk in Him Col 2:6, as followers of Jesus we turn from our sinful ways and follow Jesus; this takes perseverance, endurance, and discipline as the word or God and the Holy Spirit lead us in holiness.
We are to persevere in our prayers 
1 Thess 5:17 tells us to pray without ceasing, Luke gives us two parable examples for persevering in our prayers, the widow in Luke 18:1-8 and the neighbor in Luke 11:5-13.
We are told to persevere in our suffering which brings about endurance.
Perseverance builds character and hope Rom 5:4 The apostle Paul encourages Christians “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.
Biblical change requires the putting off sinful behavior (habits) and putting on righteous behavior (habits), this is at the heart of the Christians walk with Christ (Eph 4:22-24). We are saved from sin so that we may turn from our sin and serve our Lord in righteousness. It is the process of sanctification as we grow to be more like Jesus.
Scripture anticipates change; we change as the word of God, and the Holy Spirit transform our thinking, and therefore a change in our behavior is the result. This process, however, takes effort on the believer to be in the word, reading, studying and meditating on its truths. This takes discipline and perseverance on the believer’s part.  God disciplines in love to correct, to purify, to train, and to structure his children’s lives according to His wishes.
Perseverance, endurance in the faith and disciplining ourselves for Godliness is what every believer is called to do--die to self and live for Jesus. We are called to put off the old self, put on the new self and renew our minds with the truth of God (Eph 4:22-24). True Christians do persevere overall. True Christians will put their trust and hope in Jesus and persevere in their trials, they will trust and obey Jesus as Lord of their lives and fix their hope on Jesus and lay aside every encumbrance and sin that entangles them so they can run the race which takes endurance and perseverance that is set before them (Heb 12:1-3).
If you have not accepted the transforming power of salvation through Jesus Christ, I encourage you to seek and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior.

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