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Through the Bible with Les Feldick, Book 46
Lesson One • Part I
Why Hebrews Was Written
Today we’re going to start in the Book of Hebrews. It was 6 years ago that we started teaching Paul’s letters? We’ve been totally in Paul’s epistles now for a long time, and in the last lesson we finished up with Timothy and Titus. Now I think Hebrews also is an epistle of Paul, although it is not directed to the Gentiles or the Church, but rather it’s directed to Jewish believers. There has always been a lot of controversy over this letter as to its authorship, and as to its time of writing and so forth. And again I’m not a theologian, so I don’t have to get hung up on any of these big heavyweight arguments. I just tell you what I think it is, and I believe the Apostle Paul is definitely the author of the Book of Hebrews, and I’ll show you in a few moments why I’m quite adamant about that.
Secondly, I’ve always felt that it was one of his earlier letters, if not the earliest. I read something this past week confirming that, and that is in some of the earliest or ancient manuscripts of our New Testament, the Book of Hebrews followed I and II Thessalonians. Now everyone is pretty much agreed that the Thessalonian letters were the first of Paul’s writings, and so if Hebrews in the ancient manuscripts followed Thessalonians, then that falls right in line with what I’ve always thought, that it is one of his earliest letters.
Another thing I think we have to realize now as we get into Hebrews, is that there is absolutely nothing of Church language. In other words, you won’t find a Roman road to Salvation in Hebrews. There is not a Hebrews road to Salvation, so, "What’s the theme of the Book?" The theme of the Book of Hebrews is two fold.
1. We’re showing a constant comparison of how this economy now under Grace is so much better than anything that went before. And we’ll be looking for that over and over throughout this Book. We’ll see this is better! Yes, the law was good, but this is so much better.
2. More preeminent in importance is that Hebrews is going to point out Who Jesus Christ really is. He is God the Son, and we’ll emphasize that as well as we go through this letter.
So those are some of the things that we want to use as an introduction to this tremendous letter to the Hebrews, that it is not a book of Church doctrine, as you won’t find a single word in here about Salvation based on Christ’s death, burial and resurrection, or any reference to the Body of Christ, or any reference to faith + nothing as we see so often in Romans. Nor is it a Book of corrections and admonitions like the Book of Galatians is. So it’s just totally different. In fact, I’m going to compare this letter to the Hebrews with the Old Testament, and that’s the way I’m going to treat it.
Remember when I taught about the tabernacle, I pointed out that everything back there in Exodus that described the tabernacle - the gold, the silver, the brass, the wood, the linen, the purples, the red, and white, every jot and tittle of the tabernacle - was a picture of one way or other of Jesus Christ. Well the Book of Hebrews is going to do the same thing. It’s going to just show us what a tremendous important personage Jesus Christ really is. Remember over the years, I’ve referred to a gentlemen who came up to my ranch house one day, and asked the question, "Who in the world is Jesus Christ?" Well Hebrews is going to point it out very clearly.
Now I said in the beginning of my remarks that I was quite confident that the Apostle Paul wrote this letter to the Hebrews, and I use a comment from II Peter chapter 3 to prove that. We have to do everything as much according to the Book as we possibly can. I told someone on the phone the other day that had a question about something, that you have to remember, the Bible doesn’t tell us everything we’d like to know. "But the Bible does tell us everything that we need to know." So there are areas where we just simply have to say, "Well the Bible doesn’t tell us," and let it go at that.
But here in II Peter I think we have ample proof from the pen of the Apostle Peter writing to the Jewish community just shortly before he is martyred. Remember they’re both martyred close to the same time. I use these verses so often to emphasize Paul’s apostleship, but now I’m going to use them to emphasize Paul’s authorship of the letter of Hebrews.
II Peter 3:15
"And account (or understand) that the long suffering of our Lord is salvation, even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;" Let’s qualify who are the "you" that Peter is addressing. Well come back to I Peter chapter 1, and there we see very plainly that Peter is writing to Jews, not Gentiles, not even a mixture of each. He is writing to Jews of the dispersion.
I Peter 1:1
"Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia."
So who is he addressing? Jews of the dispersion who had already been scattered away from their home area of Jerusalem and Judea. So now coming back to II Peter chapter 3, let’s finish our thought. Peter is letting them know that these people to whom he is writing had received a letter from the Apostle Paul. I read an article again the other day that all the Church fathers never were aware of any other letter that Peter could have been alluding to. This is the only one. I think it just makes all the proof in the world. Verse 15 again.
II Peter 3:15
"And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;" (Jews) Then you go into the next verse, and if anyone is tempted to feel that Paul’s writings do not belong in our Bible, then here is proof by the writing of the Apostle Peter, inspired by the Holy Spirit, like any other writer of Scripture, that Paul’s letters are all Scripture.
II Peter 3:16
"As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; (these things which pertain to Salvation up there in verse 15) in which are some things hard to be understood, (even Peter at his late date had a very hard time comprehending these doctrines of Grace that had come from the Apostle Paul’s pen, but nevertheless, he is still agreeing, that) which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction."
Now when you say the other Scriptures, after talking about Paul, what does it make them all? Scripture! So Paul’s letters, even by the inspiration of Peter’s pen, are still all Scripture. So if anyone ever tells you, "Well I don’t think much of Paul’s writing," then you just take them right to these verses. This is as plain as it can get that Paul was just as much a writer of the Word of God as Moses, Isaiah, or John, Peter or anyone else.
Now back to Hebrews chapter 1, and we find then that this letter was definitely written by the Apostle Paul, probably early on in his ministry, and the reason I say early on- let’s go to Romans 1:16, and that will confirm why I feel that this Hebrew letter had to be written before many of his other epistles.
"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it (the Gospel) is the power (remember this word power, because we’ll be referring to it as we teach. For this Gospel) of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; (now what is the process?) to the Jew first, and also to the Greek."
Now wouldn’t it also make sense then, that it would be the same order in his epistles? He’s going to write an epistle to the Jews first, then epistles to the Gentiles. So now when you come back to Hebrews chapter 1, we probably won’t get further than the first word in this lesson. And what is the first word?
"God,…" G-O-D, just exactly like the way Genesis begins. Well let’s go back to Genesis and compare Scripture with Scripture. We’re just going to take our time as we teach Hebrews, and it may take us as long as it did some of the other epistles of Paul. But here in Genesis chapter 1 we have the same terminology.
"In the beginning God…"
Do you see that? Now back in Hebrews, written in Hebrew, this term God is Elohim, and Elohim in the Hebrew was a plural word. Elohim when used with a small "e" it was translated gods, with a reference to the pagan gods, and it was a plural term. So elohim is not singular, but rather plural. So it gives rise of course to what we call a Triune God. Now I’m not going to use the word Trinity, because the first thing people call and complain about is, "Well the word Trinity isn’t in the Bible." Well I know that, because it’s a coined term, and one that everyone understands, so I won’t use it to satisfy those folks. But Elohim is a plural term for the Triune Godhead. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. All three are co-equal, in that term Elohim, that Triune Godhead!
Now this Godhead was all involved in creation, but when we get to the New Testament we find that the second Person of this Triune Godhead, "God the Son" steps outs and becomes then the Creator! We looked at those Scriptures when we taught from Genesis, and I guess we’d better do it even when I teach from Hebrews. So here in Genesis 1:1, the Triune God is reckoned as the Creator, but now jump up to John’s gospel chapter 1, to see that God the Son was the One Who did the creating. So this Triune God designated the work of creation to the Communicator, and we see that here in John chapter 1.
"In the beginning was the Word, (and what do you do with words? You communicate! That’s the whole idea, that in the beginning there was a Person in the Godhead that would communicate. He would express thought, and things that happen) and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." So the Communicator, the Son, was no less than the Father, no more than the Spirit, because the Three were co-equal in the Godhead. So the Word was God! Now verse 3.
"All things were made by him; (now I’m a stickler for grammar, and I’m always showing what modifies what? Well it says all things were made by him is referring to the Word up in verse 1) and without him was not any thing made that was made." Now to confirm that this is speaking of the Word, or Christ, or Jesus the Son, as we knew Him in the four gospel accounts, just drop down to verse 14.
"And the Word (this Communicator) was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,)…" Now later on this afternoon we’re going to look at this phrase "the only begotten." But for now let’s just let it sit for the time being.
"…full of grace and truth." Now that’s the Word! If you’ll come on over into Paul’s writings over in Ephesians chapter 3, and we can drop right down to verse 9, and we’ll see Paul also tells us the Son was the Creator. Remember the Scriptures all fit.
"And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, (the Triune God, but the same God) who created all things by Jesus Christ:"
Do you see how plain that is? Sure the Godhead was involved, all Three of them. The Elohim of Genesis 1:1. But the Son steps out and speaks the Word and communicates to the nothing that was there, and out came creation of the universe. Now let’s come over to Colossians chapter 1, where Paul makes it even so much plainer. And let’s just drop in at verse 12, so we’re sure who we’re talking about. And Paul writes:
"Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet (or prepared us) to partakers of the inheritance (we’ll be looking at that word also in Hebrews) of the saints in light: 13. Who (speaking of God the Father) hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath (already) translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: (we’ll also chase that word down from Genesis through Scripture, the word Son after a while) 14. In whom (that is in the Son) we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: (now here comes the part about creation) 15. Who (speaking of the Son) is the image of the invisible God,"
Now what does that mean? This Triune Godhead of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit was never visible. The Godhead was an invisible Spirit, and it operated in the invisible. But when the time came it was God the Son Who stepped out and became then the visible manifestation of all three. That’s why in John 14, when Philip said, "Show us the Father and it suffice us." What did Jesus say to Philip? "If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father!" Why? Because Jesus was the manifestation of the invisible Godhead. Now read on in verse 15.
"Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: (He was before anything was ever created. He comes from eternity past) 16. For by him (God the Son) were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:" Everything was created by and for Him. Now verse 17. He is still the controlling power, even after His work of the cross, and having been risen from the dead. He is the all powerful God.
"And he is before all things, and by him all things consist."
And consist means, "held together." My, the world today knows nothing of this. For the average citizen of this world, Jesus Christ is just a cuss word. He’s just somebody to blaspheme, He’s someone to ridicule, but oh, one day, the world is going to stand before Him and they’re going drop to their immortal knees, and they’re going to recognize that He was indeed the Creator of everything - never lose sight of that!
But even Revelation says, "Jesus Christ was the Creator of everything." I can never emphasize that enough because so few people realize it. My, I’ve had people write and tell me, that they had been in church all their lives - many who had been Sunday school teachers for over 20 years - and they never knew that these verses were in their Bible. But here they are just as plain as day. Listen, this is what makes our Gospel of Salvation head and shoulders above any religion in the whole wide world. There is not a religion on this planet that has the Creator God as their Saviour as we have. That’s why we can express this with so much confidence. We’re not putting our faith in some dead God, or some idol. We’re not putting our faith in some far flung philosophy, but rather we’re putting our faith in the visible manifestation of the invisible God. And one day we’re going to see Him face to face, and we’re going to be with Him the Scriptures say, for all eternity.
I’ve made reference to this before; it’s amazing how the world will just gather by the millions to get just a glimpse of some famous world personality, whether he be a politician, religious leader, or athlete or whatever, and will just about do anything to get just a little glimpse, and then they use this Person, our Lord and Saviour, as an object of ridicule. They use the Creator of everything as a cuss word, and it is so disheartening, for those of us who believe. And we can see from the Word of God that God the Son stepped out of the invisible Godhead because then the Communicator to whatever it took to bring all the things of the universe into being. So reading all of verse 1 in Hebrews chapter 1.
"God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets."
So in our next lesson, we’re going to take a look at why Paul admonishes us to study the Old Testament. It’s just like the Book of Hebrews, there’s not a Roman Road to Salvation in the Old Testament. There’s not a plan of Salvation for us in the Old Testament, there’s nothing of the Gospel of Grace in the Old Testament - but we study it, and we rest on it because it’s the building block that God has laid down just like a secular education. My, I’ve used this example many times; how far would a young person get if all of a sudden without any previous education in grade school or high school, you plunk him down in a calculus class at the university? How long would he last? Not more than 5 minutes. Why? He has not had the building blocks of education.
Lesson One • Part II
Why Hebrews Was Written
We started the last program in the Book of Hebrews, and I’m going to keep repeating some of these introductory remarks. So remember that Hebrews was written to Jewish people. Hopefully, most of them were believers, but also a lot of them were still on the fence; they just couldn’t turn their back on Judaism, and the Law. They were also probably having some problems understanding Who Jesus of Nazareth really was, and so this Book is written primarily to lift Who the Son really was and is in the overall working of God.
Also, remember, it’s not a Book necessarily for Church doctrine, nor a Book where you will find the Gospel of Salvation. There are not admonitions to straighten up and come out of Law and legalism like you have for example in the Book of Galatians. There are not other stipulations for corrections in the Christian experience like you have in the Books of Corinthians. But rather this letter was uniquely written to these Jewish people who were having problems turning their backs on their past.
So now I think we’re ready to go on into verse 2. In the last program we showed how that God, the Triune God, was the One Who was instrumental in everything that was created. But we also showed from the various Scriptures it was always God the Son Who was given credit for the actual calling forth of everything that was created. Now before we go into verse 2, let’s go ahead and finish verse 1. We read it at the end of the last program, but I didn’t make any comment.
"God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets."
Now what’s he referring to? The Old Testament! And before we go back for a moment to the Old Testament I want you to stop in Romans chapter 15, where I’m going to use a verse for the basis of teaching the Old Testament. Because like I’ve already said with regard to Hebrews, there’s no plan of Salvation as such in the Old Testament. There’s also no Church doctrine found in the Old Testament. It was a secret that God had not yet revealed. But that doesn’t mean we throw the Old Testament away or ignore it. No, we study it and rest on it for this reason.
"For whatsoever things were written aforetime (back in the Old Testament) were written for our learning,…"
Remember in our last program, I said, "How in the world could you take a kid that had never had grade school arithmetic, nor high school math, and then all of a sudden have him attend a university level calculus class? Why he’d be lost immediately." Well it’s not that much different with the Word of God. If you haven’t got an understanding of how all of this came about, it’s pretty hard to just step in and say, "Yeah, I can believe that." But I don’t think God expects that, so we use the Old Testament over and over as a background for our New Testament teachings. Now we’re going to look at how the prophets spoke of these things.
So I’m going to take you all the way back to Genesis chapter 3, and we’re just going to take a run up through the Old Testament as to how many times even the Old Testament writers made a reference to the Son. A lot of people think He’s just a New Testament invention. No, No, No, God the Son was already evident throughout the Old Testament. This passage we’re going to look at here in Genesis is right after Adam and Eve had partaken of the forbidden fruit, and they are now a fallen race. But God comes right back immediately with a promise of a redeemer. That of course is going to be in the Person of the Son. We always call this the beginning of that line of the Redeemer that will culminate with the coming of Jesus of Nazareth in Bethlehem.
"And I will put enmity between thee (Satan) and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; (which is a reference to Christ when you go to Galatians) it (the Seed of the woman) shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel."
Which of course was a reference to God the Son at the crucifixion and resurrection - in particular defeated all the power of Satan. Now I’m going to bring you all the way up to Psalms chapter 2. Now this was written by David about 1000 B.C. And here I’m just going to use verse 7, because I just want to show how the Son has been constantly referred to all through our Bible. This is not just a New Testament thing, but rather it’s all of Scripture.
"I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee."
Like I said in the last lesson we’re going to look at that begotten part at a little later time this afternoon. So from Psalms chapter 2, I think we can go all the way up to Isaiah chapter 9, and we’ll jump in at verse 6. Now remember this is a Bible study and we’re not trying to lecture through these things, but rather we’re just comparing Scripture with Scripture to see how God spoke of the Son even in the prophets.
"For unto us (Israel) a child is born, unto us (Israel) a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, (see how plain all of this is? The prophets are speaking of the Son in this way) The everlasting Father,…"
Remember I said in the last lesson, "What did Philip ask in John 14? ‘Show us the Father and it suffices us.’" And what was Jesus answer? "Philip, have you been so long time with me, and yet hast thou not known, if you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father." Well here it’s laid out in the Old Testament, that God the Son would be called The Mighty God, The everlasting Father,
"… The Prince of Peace."
Well now let’s just go on up to the Book of Daniel chapter 7. Now of course we’re looking at an end-time scenario, but nevertheless, it’s still in the prophets, and it’s still Old Testament.
"I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. 14. And there was given him (the Son) dominion and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed."
Now then, let’s just come on up into Matthew chapter 1. And as you know, I look at the Four Gospels of course as an extension of the Old Testament. Because it’s still all Jewish, it’s still under the Law, and we’re going to show the same thing, even in the Four Gospels.
"Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us." Now let’s see how Luke chapter 1, treats it. Oh, my goodness, I don’t even know where to come in. I guess we’ll start with verse 30.
"And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. 31. And behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus." Now come on down to the last part of verse 35.
"The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God."
So you see this is all part and parcel of the theme of Scripture introducing us to the Son. Now in fulfillment of what we just read in Genesis 3:15, let’s go to Paul’s Book of Galatians chapter 4, and look at verse 4. Now I hope this isn’t just an exercise in futility, I hope you’re seeing how the theme all the way from Genesis has been introducing us to this Person of the Godhead that is called the Son.
"But when the fullness of the time was come, God (the Triune God) sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law."
What did He send forth? His Son, and He was made under the Law of Moses. Well I guess we could even look at some other verses, even in Paul’s writings, but this is how the Old Testament and the Four Gospel accounts, as well as Paul’s letters, are referring to this Person of the Godhead then, that we have to lift up as the Son. The Son is unique in that role of the Godhead. Now I’m going to take you on into verse 2 of Hebrews chapter 1. The same God, the same Triune Father, Son, and Spirit that spoke to the fathers concerning the Son:
"Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son,…"
Now I’m going to throw a curve at you. The first time I read that verse sometime ago, I couldn’t quite fathom it. And it will take a long time to really have an impact on you. But in that verse 2, the word "his" has been added by the translators, have you noticed that? I never did for years and years. That word "his" is not in the original, and neither is there an article in the Greek, so the Greek reads like this.
"Hath in these last days spoken unto us by Son,..."
You’ll probably say, "Now that doesn’t sound right." Well it does after you really start thinking about it. Because you see, Son by itself can be a title. How many fathers haven’t you heard instead of calling their son by his first name, what do they call him? "Come on son, let’s do this or that." Son becomes his title, and that’s the way I’m beginning to look at this.
"Hath in these last days spoken unto us by Son,…"
The title! And the emphasis has to be just the way I’m putting it. Now let’s go back and see if we can pick up a little bit by that. So come all the way back to the Book of Acts, when Christ was dealing with the Apostle Paul. I think a good place would be Acts chapter 22.
And while you’re looking that up I’m going to put something on the board about another phrase in that verse, concerning "the last days." This usually shakes up people also. When the Scripture speaks of the last days, we’re speaking of His first advent. The three years of His earthly ministry, His crucifixion, His burial, His resurrection, and His ascension back to glory, as you see in Psalm 110:1. So all of that which took place in that first advent is considered in Scripture as "the last days."
Now I know that sounds confusing at first, but you see this is the only thing that the Old Testament looked forward to, that, after His ascension, then would come the 7 years of Tribulation, and then He would return and set up His Kingdom. So, this first advent then according to the Old Testament accounts, was the last days. Also remember that Paul is in this last days period of time. It was just a matter of years from the crucifixion until he begins his ministry. So Paul, too, is considered part of the last days, because they had no idea that there would be 1900 + years of the Church Age. That was completely unknown to the Old Testament writers. So they just spoke of it over and over as the "last days."
Now here’s where I think we can jump in now and see various ways that the Son spoke now in these last days. Paul has now been out among the Gentile world, establishing his little congregations of Gentile believers, and has come back to Jerusalem, and he’s always having a heavy heart for his kinsmen according to the flesh, the Jewish people. Here again Paul goes before this great multitude of Jews to try to convince them that he wasn’t just a renegade, he wasn’t an imposter to the truth, he wasn’t a heretic, but rather he was proclaiming everything that the Old Testament had prophesied, and that Christ had fulfilled. So he comes back to Jerusalem, and he’s in the Temple. Now verse 17.
"And it came to pass, that, when I was come again to Jerusalem, even while I prayed in the temple, I was in a trance; 18. And saw him (the Son, the ascended Lord) saying unto me, Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem; for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me. 19. And I said, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee: 20. And when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him. 21. And he said unto me, Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles."
Now this was unheard of! A lot of people just can’t get that through their heads, and I know they can’t. They can’t believe that Jesus never had a ministry to the Gentiles. Someone was just sharing with me that in their Sunday school material last week, there was something about Jesus going to Gentiles. No He didn’t go to Gentiles, and He was careful that He never did, except in those 2 exceptions, because this mission was left to the Apostle Paul to take care of. So from the words of the Son, what did He say?
"…Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles."
That was totally unheard of, that was a whole new beginning. Now let’s come on over to the Book of Galatians chapter 1, and let’s just jump in at verse 11.
"But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. 12. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, (by man) but by the revelation of Jesus Christ."
What does that mean? The Son spoke to the Apostle Paul. The Son was not speaking through the prophets, but rather through this apostle. And it is the Son Who is now speaking. Now come on over to the Book of Colossians chapter 2, and to pick up the flow, let’s pick up at verse 8. Now remember as Peter admonished us, that the Apostle Paul’s writing is Scripture, it’s the Word of God. And you can just sink your teeth into it and rest on it. So Paul writes:
"Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. 9. For in him (in Christ, in the Son) dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily."
Isn’t that amazing? And oh, that’s hard for people to see. How can it be? Because He was manifested in the flesh as God, and He went to the cross as God. How many people realize that the hill on which He was crucified was of His creation? How many people realize that the wood of the cross on which He was nailed, He created that tree. How about the Romans that drove the spikes, He created them. He’s the Creator of everything, and oh it’s so hard for people to see this, and yet He has spoken from that ascended place in glory now through this apostle, who is lifting Him up in the Book of Hebrews now as "Son."
Now coming back to Hebrews chapter 1 for just a little bit. So this same God that spoke in the Old Testament, this same God is now speaking through "Son," His title. And we have to understand Who He is. He’s not just the carpenter’s son, He’s not just Someone Who was martyred, He’s not Someone Who simply wasted His life and was crucified, but rather He was the Eternal Creator, Son! And in another lesson we’re going to see how that when He was raised from the dead, He just literally exploded with power, the likes of which the universe has never seen. Even the power of creation does not compare with the power of His resurrection. And oh, let’s never lose sight of that. Now let’s just finish the program in verse 2. So this same God Who spoke through the Old Testament prophets:
"Hath in these last days…"
With Christ’s first advent, His suffering, His death, His burial, His resurrection, and His ascension is the One Who is speaking to us today!
Lesson One • Part III
Why Hebrews Was Written
Now as most of you know we’re just hopefully a teaching ministry. It’s amazing how simple the Word of God really is. It’s not all that difficult, if you just simply follow the Scripture as it unfolds, and don’t let tradition sway you. Now we’re going to begin again in Hebrews chapter 1, and we’re still in verse 2.
"Hath in these last days (that is the period of Christ’s first advent. Those were the last days according to all the Old Testament prophecies) spoken unto us by his Son, (remember there is no "his" in the original as we spoke of in the previous lesson. So it should read, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by) Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things,…"
Now just stop for a moment. I think we’re all guilty of just reading so fast, that we don’t read. What does it mean to be appointed heir? Well, they get everything. You know we like to read of the heir of some wealthy corporation, or the Vanderbilt family, or the Rockefeller’s and we’ll read of their great wealth, and it always says, "They’re the heir of so and so fortune." So we’re well acquainted to what it is to be an heir, but you see the Triune God again, the Father, Son, and the Spirit, have in unison made the Son the Heir of everything. Now let’s go back to the Book of Philippians chapter 2, and this again says it all in a different light than even Hebrews.
I’m going to keep stressing that Hebrews is written with the idea of showing the Jewish people that Jesus of Nazareth was not just a martyr. He was not just a prophet, but rather He was God the Son! He was the Creator of everything. So here in Philippians chapter 2, Paul, I think covers the whole realm of Christ’s coming and what He accomplished. Verse 5:
"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6. Who, being in the form of God,…" Remember what the Scripture says in John 1:1?
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." So this same Jesus, the Word in John 1:2, the Christ:
"Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery (or it wasn’t anything that He was doing that wasn’t appropriate) to be equal with God: 7. But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, (or a bond slave is a better term) and was made in the likeness of men:" He was made in the likeness of men as he was born of the virgin Mary, but always remember He was still God. We’re going to be showing that as we go further in Hebrews. He never stopped for a moment being part of that Godhead. Now verse 8:
"And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, (Rome didn’t humble Him, the Jewish leaders didn’t humble Him, but rather He humbled Himself,) and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."
Now, we all have our pet ideas of how we can picture some of these things, but the one that is freshest on my mind, is when they were in the Garden of Gethsemane, and when Peter finally saw what they were trying to do to his Lord, what does Peter do? Well he draws his sword that he was carrying, and cuts off the ear of the servant of the high priest who name was Malchus. Well was that in agreement in the mind of Christ? No the Lord wasn’t fighting to protect Himself, and to show Peter how completely wrong he was, the Lord put Malchus’ ear back on miraculously. And it was only to show Peter, "Listen, we’re not fighting against this with weapons. I’m not trying to avoid the cross." So He became obedient, and as He said Himself He could have called down 12 legions of angels, and they would have come to His rescue, but He chose not to.
"…and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. (but don’t stop there.) 9. Wherefore (because of His total obedience to the plan of the Triune God,) God also hath highly exalted him,…" Now I’ll let you enlarge on the word exalt. What does it mean? I mean it’s to give Him all the praise that is His due. God Himself has exalted Him.
"…and given him a name which is above every name:" There’s not a name that has ever been on the planet that came even close to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Now verse 10, and this is going to be the final fruition of everything.
"That at the name of Jesus every knee…" The Hitlers, the Mussolini’s, the Stalin’s, the Napoleon’s, you name it, every one of them is going to stand before Him, fall on their knees, and recognize Who He is.
"That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth. 11. And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
Now where it comes to heir-ship we can’t leave out our own role. We as believers are also called heirs, and we’ll find that in Romans chapter 8. My, this should be enough to inflate everyone of us to where it’s almost hard for us to stay earth bound, because this is our prospect. This is what’s coming! This is why Paul says, "suffering is nothing compared to the glory that will be revealed to us."
"The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: (you don’t have to wonder if you are one of God’s children if you have believed Paul’s Gospel in your heart for Salvation) 17. And if children, then heirs; (just like in an earthly family. The child is the heir of all of the father’s wealth. So we’re) heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ;…"
Now I know that’s unbelievable, but that’s the prospect. Christ is the heir of everything that’s ever been created or ever will be, and we in turn are joint-heirs with Him. My, isn’t that enough to just shun the things of this world for a little while? And the world thinks we’re missing it. Well, I’ve got news for them, we’re not missing anything, but rather they are. They’re missing everything, because the world is nothing but a pigpen by comparison to the glory that will be revealed to us.
"…if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. 18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us."
Now let’s come back to Hebrews again to chapter 1. I was just talking with someone the other day that said the Bible doesn’t tell us a lot of information on our eternal state. We really don’t know how we’re going to function or what we’re going to be doing. Oh, we can speculate, but we just really don’t know; but what do we know? It is going to be so fabulous that language could never express it. It is going to be so glorious, and so pleasurable and it will be for all eternity. Not just for 70 or 80 years, but for eternity. So God:
"Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, (we covered the last part of the verse in our first program) whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;" Our Lord Jesus Christ created everything! Now let’s move on into verse 3. And what a loaded verse:
"Who (speaking of Son) being the brightness of his glory,…"
Whose glory? The Godhead. The whole Triune God! Now we got just a little glimpse of that back in Matthew chapter 17 so let’s look at it. This is just a little window that God gives us from time to time. But this little glimpse should be enough to make our hearts leap, because we’re going to be partakers of this in the full one day. And we think we’re getting close to that day. My lands when I read and when I hear what’s going on today, it just can’t be much longer. The technology that is exploding so far even as the military is concerned. Why it would be enough to make the masses panic I would think, if they knew what our military already has. Not just on wishful thinking, but what they already have.
Then I was reading an article yesterday about the gross, vulgar, immorality among our 12 and 14 year-old school kids. It just scares you to your socks what’s coming - but on the other hand it encourages us that, as believers, one day soon we will get a full view of this glory. Not just a glimpse of it, but rather we’ve going to be in it. Here is just that little window in Matthew chapter 17.
"And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up unto an high mountain apart, (from all the rest of the activity. Even from the other nine) 2. And (Jesus) was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light."
Now look, we can’t look on the sun without being blinded. And I imagine that somehow or other the three were protected from it, or they too would have been blinded as Saul of Tarsus was on the road to Damascus. But here He was transfigured before, and suddenly that lowly Jesus of Nazareth Who had been walking those dusty roads of the Nation of Israel is transfigured. And He does shine like the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.
Now again, we can’t comprehend the brightness of that kind of light. Now you all know of the experience of Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus. I think it was that same light that just literally blinded him, and scarred his eyes when he was confronted with that light from the Person of the Son. Now coming back to Hebrews chapter 1. So the Son, the One Who had walked the earth, had humbled Himself to be crucified and slain, and as He said on the cross, "It is finished!" And nothing else can be added to it. Nobody can put their fingers to the work that Christ accomplished, because it’s all done.
"Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person,…" Now I think sometimes people get the wrong idea from Genesis where it says, "God created man in His image." Now you want to remember at the time of the creation, God had never appeared in human form so far as we know from Scripture. But rather He was Spirit! So He didn’t create Adam in likeness of a physical body that the Godhead had, because they didn’t have one, as they were Spirit. So when it says, "Adam was created in God’s image," it merely meant "in the person of the personality. In His mind, will, and emotion." That’s where Adam was in God’s image.
And as I pointed out when I taught back in Genesis, how many of those three entities can anyone of us see? None of them! Nobody can take a mind and lay it on an examining table, and look at it. It can’t be done, because it’s invisible. Nobody can take your will and examine it, as it’s impossible. Why? It’s invisible. Nobody can take the seat of our emotion and lay it out to be examined, because it, too, is invisible. And yet those are the three things that God is made up of, as well as His created beings.
Again when we taught back in Genesis I mentioned more than once, go through the Scriptures and you’ll find that God the Father has mind, will and emotions. God the Spirit also has mind, will and emotions. And we know God the Son has mind, will, and emotions. And that’s what makes them three distinct Personalities. But you can’t examine anyone of those three. So man was literally created an invisible creation, patterned after the invisible Spirit God. But in order for man to function in creation, we know God put the invisible man into a visible body.
And that had to be, because all of creation in basic science, is again made up of three things. "Matter, time, and space!" Take any one of those away and you don’t have a universe. It’s just plain and simple isn’t it. Matter – a star, a moon, a person. We are matter moving through time, in space, and that’s creation! So God took this invisible part of us and placed it in a body. And the same way with Himself. When He came and He placed that Spirit being, the very mind, will, and emotion of the Son in a body, He became then the visible manifestation of the invisible God. This is why we maintain then that the human being is eternal, whether he is lost or saved, he’s going to live some place for eternity, because God’s eternal, and man was created in God’s image, in sphere of the eternal.
"(The Son) Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power,…"
Now we won’t go back and look up Colossians again, but you remember in the first program when we were in Colossians chapter 1, where it said, "And he is before all things, and by him all things consist." Everything in the universe is held together by the power of the Word of Christ! And if He should ever relinquish that power, the universe would go into fission, and would utterly be burned up, which will probably happen one day, just before we get the new heaven and new earth. But nevertheless, everything is held in control by the Word of Christ’s power. Now reading on in verse 3. And when was that power exercised?
"…when he had by himself purged our sins,…" And where did He purge our sins? On the cross, and in resurrection power. See, we can’t just stop at the cross, like so many do. But the cross by itself did not finish the work of redemption. Now that paid the sin debt, of course it did, but the power of it all was never released until He arose from the dead, three days and three nights later. Now I guess I could tie this in together if I went ahead and skipped over to verse 5 here in Hebrews, so let’s look at it. I wasn’t planning on doing it this way, but with this word ‘power’ I think it’s appropriate.
"For unto which of the angels said he (God) at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee?" That’s never been spoken to anybody but the Son. Now, come back to Psalm chapter 2, and I think I made reference to this in the first program. We have to realize and understand that all the power of the Godhead was released when God raised Christ from the dead. And let’s just begin at verse 7.
"I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee." Let’s go to Acts, chapter 13, and that’s where we have to let Scripture speak. Here Paul is speaking there in Antioch, and he’s in the synagogue, and he is preaching to a synagogue full of Jews, so he’s going to use a lot of the Old Testament.
"And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the father, (through the prophets) 33. God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee." Now here is where we get the Scriptural definition of the only begotten Son of God.
"And as concerning that (begotten in verse 33) he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David." Now go to Romans chapter 1 for more follow up. And this is all with regard to the term "The only begotten Son of God." It wasn’t when He was born in Bethlehem. Listen, that was not the result of a sire having a reproduction. The only begotten Son was when He was raised from the dead.
"Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; (here it comes in verse 4). And declared to be the Son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness, (and how was that power executed?) by the resurrection from the dead:"
Always remember when Paul speaks of the power of God unto Salvation, what is he referring to? The power of His resurrection! At that time, Christ overcame all the forces of Satan, and He became the epitome of the Creator God, and it was that power that lifted us out of our deadness, and out of our sins, and that’s why we have to use His resurrection as part and parcel of our Gospel!
"That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
Lesson One • Part IV
Why Hebrews Was Written
Now as we begin this study, we’re going to finish verse 3 before we go on, and we were in the very last part of the verse when we had to stop in the last lesson. But let’s read the complete verse.
"Who (speaking of the Son in verse 2) being the brightness of his glory, (something that is beyond our understanding.) and the express image of his person, (and as we saw in the Book of Colossians, He is the visible manifestation of the invisible God) and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, (had finished the work of the cross, His death, His shed blood, His burial, and His resurrection. and when He had finished the work of the cross, He) sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;"
Now I’m always reminding people not to carry your imagination too far. Don’t just picture Jesus Christ as sitting there on a little chair, and God the Father up here on a big fancy throne, because that’s not exactly what we’re supposed to realize. Remember, as the priest of Israel, back in the Old Testament economy, they never sat down. There were no chairs in the Tabernacle or the Temple. Their work went continually without ever sitting down, because it was an endless job to be constantly interceding for the sins of Israel. It was simply unending! But you see, when Christ finished the work of the cross, it meant that His priesthood had also ended, and so He could sit down, and that’s what you have to understand. It’s a symbolic thing more than anything else that His work of redemption and work of intercession was now finished.
That’s why I’m almost screaming that Salvation is by faith, and faith alone in that finished work of the cross. Listen, you can’t add to it, and you can’t take away from it. See that’s why Paul puts such an anathema on those who would adulterate the Gospel of Salvation, by adding something that we might consider harmless in some of the deeds of the Law. But Paul says, "If you’re going adulterate my Gospel, then you’re under the anathema of God." And why not, because He had finished it completely. He suffered, He died, He shed His blood, and He arose from the dead. So how in the world can men dare to add to that for Salvation? So here’s the whole idea that He had finished it, He now presented Himself in heaven as our High Priest, and He could sit down, and He never again had to do the work of a priest. Now let’s see what Paul says about it back in Ephesians chapter 1, and verse 20. And again, I’m going to come up to verse 19 because of that word "power." Every time you see that word "power," you just stop and read it slowly and digest it.
"And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power."
The only criteria for Salvation under Paul’s Gospel is to believe it with all our hearts. That power is released when we believe. And it’s according to the working of his mighty power, as we showed in the last program and that power was exercised at His resurrection.
"Which (that is the mighty power) he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, (remember my closing remarks of Romans 1:4? What is it but that it was the power of God when he raised Christ from the dead? Here it is again.) and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places."
It was finished! No more priestly work needs to be done. It’s all finished. And we are part and parcel of that power. Now his position at the Father’s right hand is exemplified in verse 21.
"Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, (and again I’ll go back to the power above) and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:"
And not only in this world, but even in all eternity to come. There will never be a name that will match the name of Christ, God’s Son. Now let’s come back to Hebrews once again. And so after finishing the work of redemption to which no man dare add a thing, he could sit down and proclaim that everything was done that needed to be done to bring about man’s Salvation. Now let’s go down to verse 4 and you remember when I introduced Hebrews I made the statement that throughout the book of Hebrews we’re going to be running into a constant comparison of that which was good, but now we’ve got something far better. And here we have the first instance. God the Son having the finished the work of redemption, having set down at the Father’s right hand:
"Being made so much better (underline that word "better" every time we come across it, and I think there will be 11 or 12 of them in the book of Hebrews.) than the angels, as he hath by inheritance (we covered that in the last program) obtained a more excellent name than they." Even the two crowning angels of Michael and Gabriel can’t come close to the power and majesty of the Son, Jesus the Christ. Now verse 5 and here is the argument.
"For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee?…."
We covered that in the last program, that the only begotten Son of God is a reference to His resurrection. Never to Bethlehem, because He was not a begotten, he was simply brought about by an act of God. It was not a procreation between a man and a woman, and God Himself overshadowed Mary and it was not an act of procreation. So that is not what begotten is talking about. The only begotten Son of God is His resurrection. Now verse 5.
"….And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son."
Now again, that does not imply that God the Father was here first and then came God the Son and then the Spirit. No way!! They have been equal in all eternity passed. They are equal in everything, even today. And everything that was accomplished by Christ on the cross was also attributable to the glory of the Father. Now verse 6.
"And again, when he bringeth in the first begotten into the world (the Son) he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him."
Now remember those verses in Philippians we looked at in our last program, when Christ left glory, was born of the virgin and became the Jesus of Nazareth in His earthly ministry, He never gave up His deity. Now He laid aside His glory, but He never stopped being God. And there is no room for argument. And so even though He did lower Himself below the angels in order to take on human flesh, yet in His power and in His majesty, He never stopped being God. Now that is the reason for His miracles. Why in the world when the Sea of Galilee was raging and billowing and the little ship was about to sink, and the disciples were all shook up and fearing for their lives, they went below and told the Lord, and what did He do? He merely stepped out and spoke and said, "Peace be still." And just that quick everything was quiet. And what did the disciples say? "What manner of man is this that even the wind and waves obey his voice?" Well, they had a hard time, too, recognizing Who He really was.
And so this is what we have to be constantly reminded of, that as He proved through His miracle working powers in His earthly ministry, He showed that He never stopped being God. And even though the angels were powerful and they had glory, yet it was nothing compared to His. Now verse 7 and this might answer some questions concerning us today.
"And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire."
The question comes periodically, do we believe in angels? Well, of course I believe in angels because the Bible teaches them. Now, we do not have their manifestation in miraculous ways as we did in the past. They don’t appear to us. In fact, I tell everybody when they talk about some of these things, what would we do today if you’re driving home on a dark night and all of a sudden there would be 8 or 10 angels standing on the road? Have you ever thought about that? How would you handle it? I think it would drive most of us almost to the loony bin, wouldn’t it? We’re not ready for something like that. Angels haven’t appeared in that form since almost the apostolic days and we’re not supposed to be looking for angels. But, that doesn’t mean we don’t believe that they are real.
I personally think that we probably have a guardian angel. I like to think that every one of us does. I can’t prove it from Scripture. This is probably as close as you can get that angels are God’s ministers of fire. And they watch over the believer. But that’s as far as I can go with it. Paul teaches nothing concerning angels except that we’re not to enter into it as a form of false worship. That’s back in Colossians. We might as well go back and look at it so you’ll know what I’m talking about. Come back with me to Colossians chapter 2 and verse 18. And this is about as close as Paul ever gets to teaching concerning angels. So we dare not go beyond what the Scriptures permits us to go.
We can certainly realize that they’re God’s ministers, they’re spirit beings, and we like to think that they watch over us, especially the ones who believe. But on the other hand we have to be careful that we don’t step into territory where we don’t belong. Now let’s look at Colossians chapter 2:18. Where Paul writes:
"Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels,…"
See there’s the warning! Don’t get enraptured with angels. Now the last few Christmases I think we have almost been deluged in our department stores with angels. Every place you look is angels, but I can’t agree with that, because we’re not to have that much doing with angels. So looking at that Scripture again:
"Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,"
It’s a warning, so that’s as far as I go concerning angels. Now the truth of them in the Old Testament economy, of course there were many instances. My, angels are part and parcel of the Old Testament. We know Jacob certainly saw the angels. We know the three angels came to Abraham’s tent. We know the shepherds at the birth of Christ saw many angels. Peter had an angel release him from prison, and those are valid accounts, but when we get to the Church Age, Paul never teaches us anything concerning the activity of angels or demons.
Do you realize that the Apostle Paul gives us absolutely no room, or instructions for casting out demons. I mean not a word! When I get a question concerning demons, I always tell people, "Well lead that person to Christ, and that will take care of his demon problem!" And folks that’s as far as we can go, because we have no permission or commandment in this Age of Grace to practice exorcism. But we can bring that person to a knowledge of Salvation, and as the Holy Spirit comes into the life of that person at Salvation, the demonic things, if they’re there, will leave.
Now back to Hebrews chapter 1, and verse 8. Remember angels haven’t obtained to this level, as great as they are, and as numerous as they are, and as powerful as they are, yet they never come close to the power of the Son!
"But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O (what’s the next word?) God, is for ever and ever:…"
I’ll never understand how people can reject Christ the Son as God. Especially when they can look at verses like this and say, "That isn’t what it means," or "I don’t believe that." Well I have a hard time contemplating that. But to the Son, God Himself says: "
"Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy kingdom."
And a scepter of course denoted kingship, or royalty. A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy kingdom, and He will be King over all. You know the verse in Revelation, so let’s go back and look at it. Oh, the day is coming when this will take place. But also keep in mind that I’m always stressing that we in the Church Age do not address Him as our King. Christ is the Head of the Body of which we as believers are joint heirs with Him. Now that doesn’t take away this which is in Revelation chapter 19 and verse 16. This is still future, and absolutely I believe it, but that doesn’t mean He’s the King over the Church tonight. But rather He’s the Head of the Body which we are a direct inheritance of. We’re joint-heirs with Christ, but look what Revelation says when He finally returns at His second coming.
"And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS."
Now that’s the epitome of His title, and He’s going to exercise that power over His Kingdom! And that’s what the Psalmist is saying back here in Hebrews 1:8.
"But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy kingdom."
This 1000 year Kingdom that Christ will one day establish on the earth, where Israel will be the crowning Nation of the nations. Now verse 9. This is all to elevate our understanding of the Son.
"Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity;…" Now listen that’s the mind of God, even for us under Grace. Don’t ever think for a minute that God winks at iniquity, because God hates it! God hated it in the Old Testament economy. He hated it during His earthly ministry, but in Grace He is so willing to forgive, but that doesn’t mean that He doesn’t hate sin.
"Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God (again the Triune God) even thy God, (in which the Son is a part) hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows." Here again He has been exulted. And as God the Son, every knee will one day bow before Him. Now verse 10.
"And thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands:"
When I read verses like this, I can’t help it, but I always have to run back to Job 38 and I just get such a thrill out of those two chapters because I hope I’m not doing Job an injustice, but I have to think that Job was full of pride. I mean, he was a good man, God had blessed him, he had wisdom, but I think he was proud, and I think this is why God was dealing with him. The reason I’ve come to this conclusion is the statements in Job 38. Now if I’m wrong I may someday have to admit to Job himself, but we know that Job had to be dealt with for some reason or other. Once he realized that he was nothing in God’s eyes then God could restore him seven fold. But I think you’ll see what I’m talking about here in Job 38. And let’s start with verse 1.
"Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, (now remember when we have the word "LORD" speaking in the Old Testament, it’s God the Son, but in His Old Testament role, as He spoke to the prophets. But here He’s speaking to Job.) and said, 2. Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?"
Now some would say, "Well, He’s referring to Job’s friends." Well I don’t think so. I think He’s referring to Job, because he’s proud and he thought he knew a lot. But you see, God is sort of putting Job in his place. So God says:
"Gird up now thy loins like a man; (in other words, let’s see Job if you can take it, because I’m going to show you how much wisdom you don’t have) for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me." See, God’s not talking to Job’s friends, but rather He’s talking to Job. Now read on.
"Where was thou when I laid the foundations of the earth?…"
Isn’t that something? Could Job answer? He didn’t know the first thing about it did he? He didn’t know where the world came from and how it was hung in space.
"…declare if thou hast understanding." Do you see where I’m getting the idea that the Lord is just pointing out Job’s pride, that he had nothing to be proud of?
"Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest?…"
Maybe most people don’t read that like I do, but I read that like, "Alright Job if you’re so smart, tell me these things I’m asking" And we know Job couldn’t! And today God could do the same thing with the most brilliant scientists. God could confront them with things that even though we have such tremendous technology, God could put them on the spot and just make them sweat like a butcher, couldn’t He?" They wouldn’t know the first thing He was talking about, so that’s what He’s doing here with Job. Now verse 7
"When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? (I can hear the Lord say, ‘Where were you Job? Can you explain it?) 8. Or who shut up the sea with doors, when it brake forth, as if it had issued out of the womb?" Then come all the way over to verse 22.
"Hast thou entered into the treasures (or the secrets) of the snow?…"
What do you suppose God was talking about? That no two snow flakes are alike. "Did you know that Job?" So when you read about creation just go back and read Job chapters 38 and 39 and you’ll get a pretty good inkling of the amount of knowledge that most people do not have concerning the miracle and power of creation. Now coming back to Hebrews in our closing seconds we realize that God the Son was the One who had all this knowledge that Job knew nothing of. Now let’s read 10 again.
"And Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands; 11. They shall perish; but thou remainest;…" That’s the Creator, that’s the God whom we worship and serve!
Lesson Two • Part I
The Son’s Glorious Creation
Hebrews 1:11 – 2:3
It might be a little bit rainy outside today, but you could never tell it in here. I mean, you all look like the very blossom of springtime, and we just thank you for putting forth the effort to be a part of this program. We always try to just teach the Word as we feel the Lord has opened it to us. Also, we feel that the Lord has put His stamp of approval on this ministry, by the countless numbers of letters and phone calls, and I guess the ones that thrill us the most are the ones that have found Salvation, and have come out of a life of darkness. And almost as exciting are the believers who, for the first time in their life, have dusted off that old Bible, and are studying it.
Now let’s go right back to where we left off in the last program, which was in Hebrews chapter 1, and we were down to verse 10. But I’m going to be periodically reminding our audience for the sake of those who may be just coming in, that the book of Hebrews, I feel is much more than a letter, but it was no doubt written by the Apostle Paul. He leaves his name off of it, and that’s understandable because the Jews of his day just detested him, because they thought he had become a renegade to their race and religion, so I’m sure that’s the reason he left his name off it. But I think the evidence is interior, as well as exterior that the Apostle Paul is the author of this book of Hebrews.
And as usual we always like to remind our class and our audience that you always want to first and foremost "determine to whom a portion of Scripture is addressed in its original setting." Now that does not mean that if it isn’t addressed to us that we ignore it. I’m always coming back to the portion of Scripture that says, "All Scripture is inspired of God." That means every word from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21 is inspired by the Holy Spirit. It’s all the Word of God, and Paul says, "It’s profitable for reproof, and instruction in righteousness." But on the other hand we have to realize that some of the Scripture is not directed to us Gentiles, as such it was directed primarily to the Nation of Israel, so we always have to take those things into consideration.
For example when you start reading back there in the Old Testament some of the things pertaining to the sacrifices, and what those people had to do, well that doesn’t apply to us directly. We merely read those things as Paul says in Romans chapter 15, for our learning. In fact let’s look at that portion of Scripture. I think any time we study Old Testament and even the Four Gospels, and other portions of Scripture that were not written by the Apostle Paul, it’s for our learning and not our doctrine. And so this is appropriate even for this book of Hebrews, because it, like the Old Testament, was addressed to the Hebrew people, and not specifically the Body of Christ. But it’s still profitable, because it’s the Word of God, and because it’s the Word of God, there’s lots of good things in it for our learning. So, I always like to use this verse to get the Apostle Paul’s admonition for us to study the parts of Scripture that he didn’t write. And look what he says:
"For whatsoever things were written aforetime (before he came along) were written for our learning,…"
Notice it says for learning not our doctrine! Like I said when we introduced Hebrews in our last taping, you won’t find a Roman road to Salvation in the book of Hebrews, and you won’t find a lot of the instructions for the Gentile Body of Christ in Hebrews, but it’s loaded with things that enhance our learning. So now finishing this verse.
"For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we (as Grace Age believers, we as predominately a Gentile called-out people), through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope."
Now, when I read this verse, the first Old Testament personality that comes to my mind is Joseph. That young man was hated by his brethren, sold into slavery, taken into a foreign country, and sold again as a slave, and even though he had come out pretty good (working for his Egyptian master), and you know the account of how his masters wife turned on Joseph, and accused him falsely, consequently, Joseph ends up in the dungeon. As near as I can figure it out he was down in that dungeon for 8 or 10 years. Now a lot of people would have given up hope, and would have said, "Well, God has forgotten all about me," but Joseph didn’t do that.
And all of a sudden Joseph comes out of that dungeon and becomes the second man in Egypt, and why? Because, as he told his brethren when they finally came together in Egypt, "You didn’t do it, but rather God did." So that’s where we can take comfort from the Scripture, that even when bad things happen, we know that God is in control. And sooner or later we’re going to be able to look back on those bad things and see that God was in it as His purposes were being fulfilled. And I think that’s exactly what this verse means. We go back to the Old Testament writers, and we can pick up all of these things that were written, not for our doctrine, as you won’t find the plan of Salvation per se, but oh, we can see how God works in the lives of His people. So always keep that in mind even as we study this book of Hebrews. The whole book of Hebrews is written primarily to Jewish people, to prove to them that this Jesus of Nazareth, whom most of them rejected in unbelief saying, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" And yet this book of Hebrews is proving that Christ, the Son of God, was better than anything that had come before. And as I’ve told you before, always look for that word "better" throughout the Book.
We saw that word "better" as we started in our study of Hebrews last week in verse 4, and we might look at that again. This is speaking of the One who purged our sins, and sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high:
"Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they."
So we’ll be looking for that word as we teach the book of Hebrews, how that the apostle is proving to these Jews, Who Jesus is. Even today we hear it constantly, when people have been ingrained in a cult, and you know the cults have a way of just simply brain washing people. And here people have been in a cult for maybe 40, 50, 60, or even 70 years, and then the Lord begins to show them the truth of this beautiful Gospel of Grace, and they begin to grasp it, but yet there is that constant nagging, that pull, with the thought, "What if I was right and this is wrong?" So most have that constant pull to go back into that which they had drummed into them for a lifetime.
Well you see these people to whom Paul was writing were in that same set of circumstances. They’ve been steeped in Judaism since way back in the days of Moses. They’ve been in Judaism and Law-keeping as a nation of people throughout their whole lifetime, and now, to suddenly have this brought before them; that they were to turn their back on all that, because they’re no longer under the Law, but that God the Son had now finished the work of redemption, and faith alone is all that’s needed. So you can see where a change to that would be tough. Just watch for that flavor throughout the book of Hebrews. These Jews are trying to be pulled back into that, which up front, they can see is now behind them.
So the whole purpose of this first chapter is to show the glory and majesty, and the Godheadship of this Jesus of Nazareth Who we now call the Son. I think, as I pointed out in our last taping, in the first two verses of this chapter that we have to make people realize that Christ is not the Son of God by virtue of God siring Him, and bringing about His birth at Bethlehem. See, that’s not what the term means at all, because the term is a place of preeminence. Father and Son and Holy Spirit are co-equal. So we’ll be emphasizing that the Son is preeminent. He is God, and has been from eternity past, and will be into all eternity future. So today let’s just pick up in verse 10 of Hebrews chapter 1 for just a little bit.
"And, Thou, Lord, (speaking to the Son) in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands:"
Now those of you who were with us in our last taping, will remember that in my closing few minutes of the program, I took you back to Job chapter 38, and we rehearsed how that God put Job on the spot, and said, "Job where were you, when I laid the foundations of the world? Where were you when I confined the waters of the seas," and time ran out and we had to close. But now I’m going to carry you a little further into the Old Testament account in Psalms chapter 104, and I find it amazing how many times the writer of Hebrews uses the Psalms to back up what he’s saying. Here we have another record of creation from David the Psalmist. Oh listen, I think every Christian ought to read this once a week and just be reminded of how great our God, our Christ, our Saviour, the Head of the Body, really is because He’s the One that did it. We’ll just look at a few of them, we won’t take it verse by verse. So let’s just start with verse 1. I mean this is just good reading.
I got a kick out of a letter we received some time ago, where they wrote, "We certainly enjoy your television program of Bible reading." Well that didn’t bother me a bit, because I do spend most of the time reading. But also as we read we realize that people are seeing things that they never saw before, so I make no apology for that.
"Bless the LORD, O my soul, O LORD my God, thou art very great: thou art clothed with honour and majesty. 2. Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain: 3. Who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters: who maketh the clouds his chariot: who walketh upon the wings of the wind: 4. Who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire:" And we’ll be looking at that more a little later. Now speaking of the Creator God, the Son:
"Who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever. 6. Thou coveredst it with the deep as with a garment: the waters stood above the mountains." And of course we go back to Genesis 1:2 for that:
"…And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters." Now back to Psalms 104, and drop down to verse 7.
"At thy rebuke they fled; at the voice of thy thunder they hasted away. 8. They go up by the mountains; they go down by the valleys unto the place which thou hast founded for them."
You know what I always like to tell people about the country? We’re so blasé about a lot of things, for example when you drive through the countryside, and you come to these mountains and rivers, do you ever just stop and think, "Now imagine, God created the surface of the planet in such a way that all the water finds its way sooner or later back to the sea, with rare exceptions. The exceptions would be probably, the Great Salt Lakes, and the Dead Sea, but for the most part the whole planet as the rain and snow falls, sooner or later it’s going to find its way back to the sea. Well, was that an accident that happens? Heavens no! That’s the way the Creator planned, and that’s what the Psalmist is saying in verse 8.
"They (the waters) go up by the mountains; they go down by the valleys unto the place which thou hast founded for them." (back to the ocean). That’s just plain ole geography. Now let’s drop on down to verse 10.
"He sendeth the springs into the valleys, which run among the hills. 11. They give drink to every beast of the field:…"
Do you see how God provided for everything? Just think about it as you drive wherever you go, just stop and think, "The Creator planned it all for mankind’s good." We’re not going to have time to look at it here, but the book of Isaiah says, "The world was created to be inhabited." Well by whom? By all His created beings, not just men, but for all the animals, fish, birds and reptiles as well, at His command. Now let’s read on in verse 12.
"By them shall the fowls of the heaven have their habitation, which sing among the branches. 13. He watereth the hills from his chambers: the earth is satisfied with the fruit of thy works. 14. He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth;"
Is that mundane? Yeah, but Who was behind it all? The Creator, The Son! So every time you drive by a pasture of cattle just think, "The grass they’re eating, the Creator planned it that way." Now verse 15.
"And wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man’s heart. 16. The trees of the LORD are full of sap; the cedars of Lebanon, which he hath planted; 17. Where birds make their nest: as for the stork, the fir trees are her house." And on and on you can read about the Son’s creation. Let’s look at a few more here in Psalms chapter 4. These are just too good.
"Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created:…"
Now what does that tell you? I’ve been stressing now for the past several programs, that God the Son was the Creator. He’s the One that spoke and things began to happen, but this verse tells us that it was the Spirit that carried it out. So yes, God the Father was in agreement with it, God the Son spoke it, and God the Spirit sent it forth. Now verse 31.
"The glory of the LORD shall endure for ever: the LORD shall rejoice in his works. 32. He looketh on the earth and it trembleth: he toucheth the hills, and they smoke."
So everything is under His control. Now let’s go all the way up to the New Testament and see how the Apostle Paul addresses the intellectual snobs in Athens. And that’s what they were. My, they thought they were so smart. They thought that old Paul was just a babbler. So turn to Acts chapter 17, where he addresses these Athenian intellectual philosophers. And let’s just drop in at verse 22. I want you to remember now what we just read back in the Psalms, and what God said to Job. All of this fits together.
"Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. 23. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, (their worship of their pagan gods and goddesses) I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, (Just in case there’s one they didn’t know about) him declare I unto you." Now here it comes in verse 24. This is Paul’s agreement with Psalms chapter 104.
"God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; 25. Neither is worshipped with men’s hands as though he needed any thing seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;"
What does that mean? Just exactly what it says. The food you eat even here in 2001 AD, Who provided it? The Creator! All the things you enjoy, and the clothes on our back, who provided it? The Creator! The roof over your head, who provided it? The Creator! See, this is what God wants us to understand, that He is the provider of everything, and not just to the believing world, but the whole world. And Paul is even telling these pagan Athenians that God had provided everything they needed, and they didn’t know. Well I guess that’s far enough in the book of Acts, so coming back now to the book of Hebrews.
So everything that has been made, everything up in the heavens and on the earth are the works of His hands. We don’t have much time left in this lesson, and I doubt I’ll be able to finish my next thought, but we’re going drop down into verse 11, and take just the first three words. That’s the way I like to study Scripture.
"They shall perish;…"
Everything that God has created, everything that God has made for man’s use and privileges and for his comfort, one day it’s all going to disappear! "They shall perish;..." Now in the moment or two we have left, I want to take you back in your mind, especially those of you who studied with me years ago back in the book of Genesis, about the creation. Remember I went back and correlated the Biblical account of creation with the first two laws of science, do you remember what they were? They’re called the two laws of thermodynamics. The laws of heat and energy. Well the first law of thermodynamics says in plain English: "There is now nothing else being created." Now that’s your first law of heat and energy. And that’s the law that functioned while Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden. There were no deaths and everything was set for all eternity. They could have lived there forever if they had not sinned.
You know I just wrote someone the other day, that when God placed Adam and Eve in the Garden, that they could have lived there forever. There was no stipulation. But of course what Adam and Eve didn’t know, and God did, was that Adam would sin and end that glorious habitation in the Garden of Eden. But until Adam sinned the first law of thermodynamics was in full control. Everything that was needed to carry everything on and its purposes was completed, and nothing more was needed and it could go forever.
We’ll have to pick this thought up in the next program. But as soon as Adam sinned, what came in? Death! And now when you have death in the picture, the second law of thermodynamics kicks in, and that laws says, "That even though nothing more is being created, yet everything that has been created is constantly going into a less useable state." And science calls that entropy. What does that mean? Everything is in the process of dying. You and I are in that process - at the moment we’re born, we start dying. And that applies to everything on the planet. The moment they’re born, the seeds of death are already working, and that’s not only for the animal world, but also for the non-animal world. In other words, just as soon as a tree falls in the forest, it begins to rot; it just simply goes back to the dust it came from. So just be thinking about that until we get to the next lesson.
Lesson Two • Part II
The Son’s Glorious Creation
Hebrews 1:11 – 2:3
Now as we continue our study in the book of Hebrews, you’ll remember I’ve been stressing that Hebrews is written by the Apostle Paul, but he didn’t put his name to it because he knew the Jews had a bad taste in their mouth with what he had done with their religious system. He had turned his back on their system and was now contrary to what they thought of in the keeping of the Law.
But we feel that he is the writer, and the evidence is quite insurmountable that he is the writer. And he’s addressing this Book to Jewish people who are having a hard time overcoming the pull of Judaism, and were having a hard time stepping out of the Law and the ramifications of it, and simply trusting that Jesus of Nazareth was indeed the King of glory, and to believe that He’s the Son, and the One Who satisfied all the demands of a Holy God by simply putting their trust in Him.
So, in this first chapter of Hebrews we’re seeing Christ elevated to a place high above the angels. He’s the Creator of everything and the sustainer, even as Paul writes in the book of Colossians. Now we’ve been seeing in the last couple of verses how indeed He was the One Who created everything and then in the last part of the last program we saw that all of this glorious creation is hearing the death knell. His glorious creation is all going to pass off the scene and be replaced by a new heaven and a new earth.
Remember at the close of the last lesson, we left off with scientific laws of thermodynamics. And we saw that the second law of thermodynamics kicked in the moment that Adam sinned, because with sin came death. So the whole creation is under the death knell. Everything is moving closer and closer to oblivion. Now the average individual on the planet probably never thinks about that. But everything on the planet is going into a less useable state. Even our fossil fuels, as they pump those billions and billions of barrels of oil out of the Middle East, it’s not being replaced, it’s not a replaceable energy source, but rather it’s going to one day run out.
And it’s the same way with everything in creation, as it is constantly moving into a less useable state. And even we in this body of flesh, as I said in the last program, from the day we’re born, death begins. It doesn’t matter whether we live to be 10 or 70 or 100, that’s beside the point; death is our final end, short of the Rapture of the Church. So the whole creation is under that same set of circumstances. It is moving closer and closer to the time when it will finally be exchanged for something totally new. Now let’s back that up with some Scripture.
"They shall perish; (all the things God has created) but thou (the Creator) remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment;" My, what a beautiful illustration. Now a garment doesn’t wear out overnight. That’s something that is accomplished over a process of time, and so is creation. As the eons of time are going by, everything is in entropy, it’s all going into a less useable state, until finally God will undo the whole thing. Now verse 12, and using that same word: garment, or a vesture or piece of clothing:
"And as a vesture shalt thou (the Creator) fold them up, and they shall be changed: (I think a clearer word there would be exchanged. The heaven and earth are not going to be changed from this to that, but they’re going to be totally destroyed, and we’re going to have everything new.) but thou (Creator) art the same, and thy years shall not fail." Now let’s go back once again to the Old Testament to Isaiah chapter 51, then we’re going to look at Psalms again.
"Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth beneath: for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, (same language) and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner: but my salvation shall be for ever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished."
Now let’s come back to Psalms 102 for a moment, because I know a lot of times we read these Psalms and yet we don’t read them, and here’s another few verses that I would say most people, if they’ve read it, have missed one of the major points.
"To declare the name of the LORD in Zion, and his praise in Jerusalem: 22. When the people are gathered together and the kingdoms, to serve the LORD. 23. He weakened my strength in the way; he shortened my days"
What do you think He’s talking about? How old was Christ when His life was ended? 33 years old, and right in the prime of life as we normally think, so that’s the reference here. Now He cries out to the Father:
"…I said, O my God, (see that’s why Christ in the flesh and refers to the Father as His God. It’s just from that position where He is, as the Man-God) take me not away in the midst of my days: thy years are throughout all generations." In verse 25, God the Son is still addressing the Father from His position on earth and says:
"Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands." And now here in verse 26 we come back to the same language that we’ve been seeing in the book of Hebrews and the Psalms, and various other portions of Scripture. Remember the Psalmist is speaking of the work of creation and says:
"They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: ye, all of them wax old like a garment; (isn’t it amazing how the Scripture just repeats itself? And you know what I’ve always said, what’s the purpose of repetition? Emphasis! God wants us to understand that this old world isn’t going to last forever. But you see most people today think there’s no end to it, and it will just keep going and going and going. But there’s a day coming when God’s going to wrap it up, like an old worn out garment) as a vesture shalt thou change them, (or exchange them) and they shall be changed: (but God never changes, God the Son never changes,) 27. But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end."
Well that’s the Psalmists way of putting it. Now let’s come back and look at some of the New Testament analogies in II Peter to see when this old planet is going to meet its end. Here we have this little epistle of II Peter with this same thought, that there’s coming a day, for not just the earth, but I feel the whole universe will be totally done away with, because everything has to be made new. Now why? Because there isn’t a corner of this universe that hasn’t been defiled by that old devil, Satan. He’s defiled it all, he’s been in the presence of God in heaven, you know that. He’s been, I think, to the ends of the universe, and it’s all defiled, so consequently, it all has to be destroyed. Now verse 10.
II Peter 3:10
"But the day of the Lord (which goes right on past the Tribulation, and through the 1000 year Kingdom until we come into eternity. And remember 1000 years with God is just a day, so don’t think in terms as we look at it, but rather in God’s thinking. In His thinking it’s all in one successive time. So the day of the Lord) will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up." Everything is suddenly going to return to the nothingness from which it came. Verse 11.
II Peter 3:11a
"Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved,…"
Now you know what dissolved things look like. I mean the heat just melts it down, and if you keep the heat on it long enough, it’s going to be nothing. Now reading on. It’s going to be dissolved, so consequently:
II Peter 3:11b-12
"…what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation (or manner of lifestyle) and godliness. 12. Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, (when eternity will be ushered in) wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, (see there’s twice we’ve had the word dissolved in two verses.) and the elements (that make up matter) shall melt with fervent heat?" Now verse 13, and see it’s not a hopeless case.
II Peter 3:13
"Nevertheless we, (as believers) according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness."
Now to complete this thought, let’s go all the way up to Revelation, and this just puts the capstone on it, and it’s almost the same identical language. Let’s go to chapter 20 first of all, and drop in at verse 11. Keep in mind this whole concept that everything in the universe was created by a loving and merciful God to provide everything that was needed by all life forms, whether it’s human, animal, birds, or whatever. He provided for all of us. Now verse 11, as we’re ready to usher in eternity:
"And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, (which of course will be the Son) from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them."
They’re gone! They’ve disappeared. No hope? Yeah there’s hope, now look at Revelation 21, and verse 1. It’s almost the same identical language with what Peter said, but now John is writing.
"And I saw a new heaven and a new earth:…" This new heaven and new earth, I think will be undefiled and perfect. Oh, I think it’s going to be beyond human comprehension.
"…for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away;…"
And with it went all the defilement, all the residue of the wickedness of all the ages, completely gone, and with this new heaven and earth, there is nothing but purity, beauty, righteousness. God’s holiness is evident everywhere.
"…and there was no more sea. (and then on this new planet, John saw) 2. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband."
Now that verse doesn’t call the new Jerusalem the bride, but as a bride. I had someone call me the other day and wanted to know if the new Jerusalem was the Bride of Christ. It doesn’t say that. It merely says that this new city is going to come down with all the beauty of a bride. I’ve made this statement before, Iris and I have been to our share of weddings, and you know we have never seen an ugly bride. Am I right? They’re always beautiful, and that’s why the Scripture uses that analogy. So this city is going to come down with the beauty and majesty and purity of that little bride dressed in white. That’s why we’ve got to be careful with language so we don’t jump to the conclusion that the new Jerusalem is the Bride of Christ, because it doesn’t say that.
And when you go on further into this chapter, this new city four square is going to be, if we can understand Scripture dimensions, 1500 miles long, 1500 miles wide, and 1500 miles high. You and I can’t imagine the square footage in something like that. Now that’s a city that would reach, on this present day planet, from New York City to Denver, and from Denver, to Mexico City, and from Mexico City out into South Atlantic, and then back to New York, and then it would be just as high.
Well I read the other day, and this is mind boggling, that if you gave every individual 3 square feet, you could put all the population of our United States of America, which at this time is about 275 million in the city limits of Jacksonville Florida. Now that will throw you a curve won’t it? Now that just goes to show you how many people can be put into that kind of area. And then take a city that is 1500 miles cubed? So if you think heaven is going to be crowded, you can forget that. Just forget that. And that’s just the city, that doesn’t take in the rest of the universe, that I think we’ll have access to. Oh listen, eternity is something to get excited about.
I think people get the idea that we’ll just float around and strum a harp when we get to heaven. But that’s not what it’s going to be at all. Heaven is going to be a place of intense activity. We’ll also have music that will just blow us away. We’ll have joy and happiness like you and I can’t comprehend.
As Iris and I travel, we have to wonder, especially as we travel in big cities with 6 or 7 lanes of traffic bumper to bumper, and people hurrying to and fro, just how many of them ever think about eternity? And I think the answer is "very few." They never stop to think of this eternity that’s waiting for us who believe. So it’s sad that here our Creator God is in such control of everything, and He’s setting everything up for glory, and the vast majority of mankind could care less. They’ll live their 70 years or so years on this old planet, and try to live it up the best they can, and then that’s it. Is it any wonder we feel sorry for them, and I do feel sorry for them, because they just don’t know what they’re missing now, and what they’ll miss for all eternity. Now let’s come back to Hebrews again, to chapter 1 and verse 12.
"And as a vesture (His creation) shall fold them up, and they shall be changed:…" (or exchanged for new heavens and a new earth)
I think I used this illustration years ago on one of the programs. I had read an article in a scientific journal. It was written by a multi-degreed physicist and he was writing an article on the origin of the universe (which scientists are all hung up on). And his final statement in the article was so shocking, that I just had to read it to my little wife. Do you know what he said? He said, "I have come to the conclusion that all of the universe came from one single source of light." Well so far so good, but it was his next statement that just blew me away. And so he said, "I can foresee the day when this whole universe will come right back into that original source of light." And isn’t that just exactly what the Scriptures teach?
God created it all out of nothing, and He’s going to bring it all back from whence it came and recreate it again. And I doubt the gentlemen had any idea how close to the truth that he really came. Even though God has let the universe run, for however long it’s been here, whether it’s billions or thousands, that’s irrelevant, but the day is coming, when it’s all going to disappear - but God remains. God is still going to be in control of everything. In fact, let’s take a look at the last chapter of Hebrews for a moment, and I’d like to start with verse 5, but the verse I really want is verse 8.
"Let your conversation (or your manner of living) be without covetousness;…"
Now do you remember what Paul said about covetousness? Well back there in Romans chapter 7, it basically says, "covetousness is what triggers all other sins." Now you think about that for a week or two. So that being the case, here’s the admonition.
"Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, (Here’s the promise) I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. 6. So that we may boldly say, (God the Son) The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me. 7. Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation. 8. Jesus Christ (the Creator, the One Who is higher than the angels, the One Who will one day destroy everything, yes, Jesus Christ is) the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever."
He’ll never change! Do you see why our faith is on bedrock? He will never, ever change. Now for the short time we have left, let’s come on back to Hebrews chapter 1. Oh my goodness, I don’t know why I always end up with a subject that’s going to take an hour, and I only have three minutes left. But I’m not going to fudge, and try to fill the three minutes with empty words, so we’ll just go on into the next verse. Remember when I try to plan for four programs, I find it is utterly impossible for me to know where I’m going to end a particular half hour lesson. I’ve tried over the years, and it’s just impossible. So all we can do is just take it as the Spirit leads and if we don’t finish it this half hour then we’ll complete it in the next. So let’s go on into verse 13.
Now remember we’re showing throughout all these verses how that God the Son is above the angelic host. His power is more than the concentration of the millions upon millions of angels, He is far above them.
"But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool?"
Now I’m going to give you some homework. You just take a good concordance and see how many times the Holy Spirit prompts the writers of Scripture to go back to this verse and you will be amazed. I think probably this verse is quoted more often throughout the Bible as a whole than any other Scripture. I know I was just amazed as I was preparing for this, how many writers refer to this verse. Now I want you to contemplate as we get ready for the next half hour, what is the picture of the world being His footstool? Well, have you ever heard the expression, "He’s got His foot on their neck?" Think about it.
Lesson Two • Part III
The Son’s Glorious Creation
Hebrews 1:11 – 2:3
Now as we teach, hopefully we can just teach the Word to win the lost, and also to edify and build up believers, and all of this is to bring the glory to our Lord. Again I’ve been asked if we give permission for people to use our material. Absolutely! You don’t have to call and ask us that, just as long as it’s not used for profit.
Now let’s go back into Hebrews where we left off in the last lesson, where in the closing moments I made reference to this Psalms 110:1 that is quoted so often by various authors of Scripture, so it must bear some tremendous importance. And hopefully during this lesson, we’re going to dig out at least part of that. So let’s come in at Hebrews chapter 1, and verse 13 again.
"But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until (now that’s the key word) I make thine enemies thy footstool?"
Now let’s go back and chase that verse down, and it begins of course with David writing it in Psalms 110:1. This is a verse that I wish everyone would commit to memory if you haven’t before, and know where it is.
"The LORD said unto my Lord, (now I think that in just about every translation that the first LORD mention here is all capitols. The second is merely the L is capitalized, and the o-r-d is in the small case. So what you really have here is God the Father, says to God the Son) Sit thou at my right hand, (He’s not going there for all eternity, but rather just for a period of time) until I make thine enemies thy footstool."
I think the enemies here include all the satanic host, as well as all of Christ’s rejecting humanity - they are going to be finally under His foot. He’s going to have complete domination. Now let’s move from here up to Matthew chapter 22, and drop down to verse 44. This is Christ in His earthly ministry, He uses this verse in Psalms Himself. But to pick up the flow of these verses let’s begin at verse 41.
"While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, 42. Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The Son of David. 43. He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit (that is by inspiration of the Holy Spirit) call him Lord, saying, 44. The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? 45. If David then call him Lord, how is he his son?" (now look at the next verse) 46. And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions."
They were absolutely stumped! Well what should they have known? That He was the Son of God. But by virtue of the promises made to David that He would come through the lineage of David, yes, the Scripture does speak of Him as the Son of David. But you see, that’s not what Psalms 110:1 was speaking of. That Psalms was speaking of the very Godhead, and David had nothing to do with bringing that about except through the flesh. Now let’s look at the next one which is in Mark chapter 12 and verse 35 to again to pick up the flow.
"And Jesus answered and said, while he taught in the temple,…"
I know I shake people up, and I don’t do it purposely, but you see everybody is so locked into tradition. All they can think of is what they’ve heard over the years and generations and what they’ve been taught and had passed down to them. Then this simple layman comes along, and says, "Now wait a moment, everything that Jesus said, He said to the Jews under the Law." That’s when people get all shook up. They will say, "Well He went to the Gentiles." No He didn’t, as there is not any record except for two individuals, the Canaanite woman, and the Roman centurion. Other than that there is nothing in our New Testament where Jesus ever dealt with Gentiles. He couldn’t because of His covenants. The covenants were made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And as those covenants were to come to the full, then yes, He would become the object of faith to the whole world, but not until. So here again, where is Jesus dealing with these Pharisees? In the Temple. How much access did the Gentiles have to the Temple? Almost none. Now reading the verse again.
"And Jesus answered and said, while he taught in the temple, How say the scribes that Christ is the Son of David? 36. For David himself said by the Holy Ghost…."
Do you see how plain all of this fits together? When Paul writes back there in Timothy I think it is, "that all Scriptures is inspired of God, and is profitable." Well that word ‘inspired’ is probably better translated, "God breathed." What person of the Godhead breathed the Scripture? The Holy Spirit, and then the Lord Himself gives credit, that even David wrote as the Holy Spirit prompted him to write. So all of these things must be taken into consideration. Now reading on.
"For David himself said by the Holy Ghost, The LORD said to my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool. 37. David therefore himself calleth him Lord; and whence is he then his son? And the common people heard him gladly."
But who had trouble with these sayings? The Pharisees. My, they couldn’t swallow any of this, but the common people not in authority just soaked it up. Then in verse 38, Jesus just sort of puts the frosting on the cake doesn’t He?
"And he said unto them in his doctrine, Beware of the scribes, (in other words the intellectual elite, the Pharisees and Sadducees) which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces. 39. And the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts:"
But the point was made, "Who was the Lord that was invited to sit at the LORD’s right hand?" The Son! Now remember the vast majority of Israel could never accept the fact that anything good came out of Nazareth. Remember that was their saying. "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" And you remember that was the whole thrust of Matthew chapter 16, when Jesus confronted the Twelve just shortly before the crucifixion, "Whom do men say that I am?" These men had three years to witness His ministry, to witness His sinlessness. To witness His miracles and power over even the raging Sea of Galilee when He stood, and said, "Peace be still!" And what did the disciples say? What manner of man is this that even the winds obey His voice."
Well you see this is the whole concept even in this little situation that they were to understand Who Jesus really was. He wasn’t just the carpenter’s son, but rather He was the Creator! He was the One Who that one day would satisfy all the demands of a Holy and Righteous God by taking upon Himself the sins of the whole world. He was the One Who would be raised from the dead in power and glory, and then ascend to the Father right hand, but would not sit there forever, but only, "until." Now the next Scripture we’ll look at will be in Luke chapter 20, and let’s just drop in at verse 39.
"Then certain of the scribes answering said, Master, thou hast well said. 40. And after that they durst not ask him any question at all. 41. And he said unto them. How say they that Christ is David’s son? 42. And David himself saith in the book of Psalms, the LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, 43. Till I make thine enemies thy footstool. 44. David therefore calleth him Lord, how is he then his son? 45. Then in the audience of all the people (of Israel) he said unto his disciples, 46. Beware of the scribes,…" (and religious leaders)
Now let’s go on over to one more, and that would be the day of Pentecost, and Peter is preaching to the Nation of Israel in Acts chapter 2. Let’s pick this up in verse 25. Because here again you see, Peter is trying to convince this great Jewish crowd gathered for the feast of Pentecost, that the One they crucified was the Christ. He was the Creator of everything. Now verse 25.
"For David speaketh concerning him, (Christ from the Old Testament Psalms) I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: 26. Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: (now that’s what David said. Now in verse 27, David is making a direct reference to Christ’s burial and resurrection) 27. Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. 28. Thou hast made known to me the ways of life: thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance. (Now Peter comes back and says) Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day."
Now those of you who have been with us when we go to Jerusalem, one of the places we stop at is David’s tomb. And indeed so far as we know that tomb is still there on Mount Zion. And so Peter is using that as an example, that David is dead and he hasn’t been resurrected yet. Now verse 30.
"Therefore being a prophet,…"
Most people don’t think of David and the Psalms being prophecy. Oh, it’s full of prophecy. My, Psalms chapter 22 is a graphic description of the crucifixion, and we’ve already seen Psalms chapter 2 in days gone by as being an outline of the whole Old Testament program. Now verse 30 again.
"Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, (yes, Jesus of Nazareth came through the linage of David) according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne;"
Now wait a minute. In those three years of Christ’s earthly ministry, did Jesus ever sit on David’s throne? Why of course not. So what’s the prophecy? He will one day! The day is coming and that’s the "until" of His sitting at the Father’s right hand. Now let’s move on into verse 31.
He (David) seeing this before (through the eyes of prophecy) spake of the resurrection of Christ that his (Christ’s) soul was not left in hell, (that’s the English word that speaks of the place of the departed) neither his flesh did see corruption. 32. This Jesus…"
Now remember the setting? This is the feast of Pentecost, and Jews are in Jerusalem from all over the Roman Empire. The crucifixion has only been 50 days back and every Jew is probably talking about that last Passover and what had taken place. And here Peter is trying to convince them that this Jesus, the One that they crucified, was the Christ.
"This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. 33. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. (in other words the coming of the Holy Spirit) 34. For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand. 35. Until I make thy foes thy footstool."
Now let’s just stop and analyze this as you head on back to Hebrews, chapter 1. What is all of this emphasizing? Well, first and foremost, it emphases the fact that Christ has finished the work of redemption in that everything that needs to be done to purchase man’s Salvation was finished. And as our High Priest, His priestly work accomplished, as I pointed out in a past lesson, there were no places to sit in the tabernacle or the Temple. The priest came in day after day, and they never sat down, their work was endless. And their work carried on until the day they died, and another priest would come in and take his place. It was an endless, priestly work, but this man, when He finished the work of redemption and presented everything to the Father in heaven, now He could sit down, because it was done.
Now that’s the whole picture, but He’s not going to stay seated there at the Father’s right hand, because there’s still another segment of all the prophetic program left, and that is the 1000 year Kingdom Age. And oh, when you speak of the Kingdom Age, that also riles people up. They just can’t accept the fact that there is an earthly kingdom out there in the future. You see the liberals and moderates idea is the only kingdom is already in us. It’s just an invisible kingdom and all that nonsense, and it bugs me to hear people speak of that glorious kingdom that’s coming in that light. But listen, there is a literal kingdom coming on the scene over which this Christ, this Son, is going to rule and reign from David’s throne in Jerusalem.
So we have to understand that the Son is at the Father’s right hand, having finished the work of redemption, but only for a period of time will He sit there. Now it’s already been 1900 + years, so we think we’re getting close to when He will be ready to arise from that seated position and return and invade human history once again. But when He returns and enters into human history, He’s going to have all of His enemies subjected, as I said in the last program, with His feet on their neck. So all of his enemies are going to find themselves suddenly not in a place of blessing, but rather in a place of eternal doom.
Now let’s be careful. Who are His enemies? Well, it’s easiest enough for us to say guys like Hitler, and all of the very bad rulers in history, oh, we can readily recognize them as the enemies of Christ, but you see the enemies that we sometimes forget are those unsaved church members. We’re talking about good people, dressed in their finery, and even the attitude of so many church people.
I remember I had been invited to teach in a large church many years ago in their training hour before evening services, and we had a lot of our own class people that were members of that church so they asked us to come and attend the Sunday morning service as well. So Iris and I got to the service and found a place to sit down, and we barely noticed it (but other people told us about what had happened), but this nicely dressed couple came in saw that we were sitting in their pew and instead of just courteously asking us to move, they just in a huff turned around and went out and went home. Now what does that tell you? Were they there to worship? Were they there to praise the Lord? Were they there as a testimony? No, they were just there to fill the pew. Now like I said, I’m not judging their hearts, so don’t get me wrong, but this is too often the case.
Too many times people go to church because it’s expected of them. They go because after all, at 11:00 a.m. Sunday morning that’s where Christians belong. There’s no love for the Lord, there’s no love for this Book, and the reason?, "They’re Lost!" I guess one of the other television preachers, Dr. Stanley, follows me in one of the television areas that we’re on, and it was funny that I had made mention of this subject in my program, and he followed me right up and said almost the same thing, "That our churches are full of unsaved church members." Well, if they’re unsaved church members, what are they? They’re are enemies of our Lord. So get it straight, lost people are the enemies of God whether they realize it or not. I’ve got one verse that I can use to Scripturally back that up. I can’t just say it from my own opinion, but come back with me for a moment to Romans chapter 8.
It’s awfully easy for us to see the rank, wicked people as the enemies of God, as we’re experiencing it even in our American politics - those that detest our Christian principles. So there’s doubt that they’re enemies of God, but we so often forget that the rank and file unbeliever is also. And they’re all going to be in that group that will end up under His feet. And then He will be able to restore the righteousness, the planet will come back as the Garden of Eden, and He will rule and reign. So let’s read from Romans 6, and drop in at verse 5.
"For they that are after the flesh (lost people who may be as good as gold, but they’re lost) do mind the things of the flesh; (they have no hunger for Spiritual things) but they that are after the Spirit (they mind) the things of the Spirit. (now here it comes) 6. For to be carnally (fleshly) minded (the lost person) is death; (spiritual death) but to be spiritually minded is life and peace, 7. Because the carnal mind (the unsaved person) is enmity against God;…"
So they’re the enemies of God. Oh, they may not be active enemies, they may instead be passive, but the Scripture still puts them in that category as enemies of God. So they’re the ones that are going to end up under His feet like a footstool. So that lost person:
"…is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." (Why?)
Well, just like we were in the cold war, were we Americans subjected to the Russian government? Why heavens no. Why? Because at that time they were our declared enemies, they have no control over us, and so it is with God.
Lesson Two • Part IV
The Son’s Glorious Creation
Hebrews 1:11 – 2:3
Let’s just pick up where we left off in the last lesson, and that would be in Hebrews chapter 2 and verse 1. I think we’ll just go straight through the first 4 verses, because they’re all tied together, then we’ll come back and pick these verses apart.
"Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. 2. For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; 3. How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; 4. God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will."
Now all of those verses are tied around that one concept, "How dare we neglect so great a Salvation." Now let’s go up to verse 1 and begin. And look at the very first word, "Therefore." Remember when we taught Romans several years ago whenever we came to a "Therefore, what would I tell you? What’s it there for! Well, because of what went before. Here, he’s referring to what we just covered in chapter 1, and some of that was:
"If the Son is higher than the angels, if the Son was the Creator of everything, if the Son finished the work of redemption, and purchased man’s sins, and was now qualified to sit down at the right hand of the Father on high, but not forever, there would come a day when He would arise and return, and set up His Kingdom here on the earth. But before He would set up the Kingdom, He would destroy His enemies."
Now the study we had in II Thessalonians should still be fresh on your mind. How that the day of the Lord is coming, and the wrath and vexation that is going to be poured out on Christ-rejecting mankind, and that’s all the same concept of what Psalm 110:1 spoke of as having His enemies under His feet. Now with all that as a backdrop, that God the Son, the Creator, the Redeemer, the Intercessor, sitting at the Father’s right hand on our behalf:
Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip."
Now I think most of you have heard me long enough to know, that I believe that once a person is genuinely saved (and has been placed into the Body of Christ, and God has declared us justified from all things, He has redeemed us, He has paid the purchased price, He has forgiven us), that person can never be lost!
But you want to remember that we’re dealing in Hebrews with Jewish people who were still on the fence. They’re looking in at this whole concept that Paul is presenting concerning Christ, but on the other hand they still have that pull back to the Old Testament economy, which was still looking forward to a Messiah. And for them to believe that the Messiah had come and died and been raised from the dead, that was a bitter pill for them to swallow. Even our Jewish friends today, see this as their big hang up, and I say this kindly, because I know we have a lot of Jewish listeners, but they still can’t recognize that the One Who was crucified, was that promised Messiah, the Creator of everything. And you know in the Jewish mind, "Jesus of Nazareth, the Creator? You’ve got to be crazy." And I can understand their response. But you see the whole purpose of the Book of Hebrews is to bring these Jewish people to a full understanding of Who Jesus of Nazareth really was.
He was the Christ, He was God, He was the Creator, He is even now at the Father’s right hand, and one day He’s coming again, and He is yet going to sit on David’s throne. He is yet going to fulfill all the Old Testament promises, as it’s still future, but oh, we feel we’re getting so close. My, when you look at what’s going on in the world, with regard to technology, the moral breakdown, the corruption in politics, and everything else, then it just screams at the human race that the end is near.
So this is what this Book is trying to establish, first and foremost with the Jewish people, but I’m going to just say, this is only for the Jew. You and I have been learning for the last eight lessons in Hebrews, there’s so much in here that is appropriate for us, but the main thrust of the book is to convince Jewish listeners who are on the fence, to come on in, and latch onto, and believe it! So this is why the language of Hebrews will make it sound that it’s possible to be saved and then lost, and this is what has raised so many questions. And it’s the same way here. It’s not someone who has been saved, and into the Body, and he’s let it slip and lost it, but rather, these are people on the fence, and they’ve tasted, they’ve been convicted by the Spirit, but they just can’t latch on to it. Verse 1 again.
"Therefore (because of what we’ve just proven in this first chapter, of Who Christ really is, The Son, The Creator of everything, the sustainer of everything, Righteous, Holy, higher than the angelic host, Therefore) we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we have let them slip. (in other words, lose interest and go back into the previous life,) 2. For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast,…"
Now years ago I read that verse, and it threw a curve at me, and I imagine that it does lots of people. When did the angels have a part in dispensing the Word of God? Well it’s hard to nail that down, but come back with me to the Book of Galatians chapter 3, because this isn’t the only place that we have this. This of course is Paul’s letter to the Gentile churches with regard to their being pressured to go back under the Law of Moses. So this little letter of Galatians is written to prove that we in this Age of Grace are not under Law, but rather we’re under Grace, a whole new economy.
"Wherefore then serveth the law? (how did it come about, what was it’s background?) It was added because of transgressions,..."
Now you want to remember that the Law didn’t come on to the human experience until about 2500 years after Adam was created. So the Law was added because of transgressions. Now stop and think a moment. What happened to the human race from Adam to the flood, when they had no Mosaic Law? Oh, it became the pits! Violence filled the earth, and murder was everywhere. People were very wicked, they had no concept of God anymore. I always tell people, if you don’t think God has to be satisfied with a small percentage for a remnant, just stop and think, there were probably 4 or 5 billion on the earth at the time of flood, but how many were believers? EIGHT! Well, why so small a number? There was no Law, there was no formal system of worship, because it was all dependent on the head of the house passing it on to his sons, and so they immediately lost it. So by the time we get to the flood, only eight souls were saved. This is why Paul says "the Law was added," because it didn’t work without some system of Law. Now reading on:
"Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions (mankind’s sins) till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator."
Now I don’t understand that, and I don’t claim to, because I think our basic understanding of the giving of the Law was, "Moses was up there on Mount Sinai, and God wrote the Law with His finger on the tables of stone, and Moses brought it down the mountain." But you see in these two Scripture references - and I think there’s even another one - somehow or other, angels were involved in that giving of the Law to Moses, and Moses, of course, brings the Law down the mountain. I’m not going to take it any further than that, but the Scripture does say, "it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator." Now let’s come back to Hebrews then.
"Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have hard, lest at any time we should let them slip. 2. For if the word (the Law) spoken by angels was stedfast, (in other words the Law was perfect,) and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward;"
Now do you know what that means? The Law was so explicit, and so severe. There was no getting a good attorney and somehow buying your way out when you broke God’s Law, you paid the consequences. Now I think there’s a lot of misunderstanding, when the Lord Jesus said, "an eye for and eye, and a tooth for a tooth." Well, was He actually promoting the fact that if you committed a particular crime, that you should have your eye plucked out? No. But rather it was a comparative term, that the crime was to receive the punishment equal to the crime. If someone had done something worthy to have his eye taken out, then his punishment should be accordingly, not by taking out his eye, or cutting off his hand, or anything like that. Remember the Law was strict, and there was no bending the rules. Now verse 3. Remember we’re in a whole better program than what the Law was, and this is the argument that Paul is presenting.
"How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation;…"
Now remember, how great is this Salvation that you and I have today. It’s beyond human understanding, because it’s free for nothing. See, under the Law you paid every time you broke it, one way or another. See, under this Age of Grace, you don’t have to gather a lot of money for Salvation. And as I’ve said before, you don’t have to cross the ocean or climb a sheer cliff to get to Salvation, but rather it’s right in front of every human being! In John’s gospel chapter 10, we find the door to the sheep fold is right at ground level. And where is it with a lost person? Right in front of him, and all he has to do is walk into it by faith. And so great a Salvation, you don’t have to work, work, work!
I gave this illustration once before, several years ago. A lady from Tennessee had sent us some buttons, and we took them on a tour to Israel with us. And it just so happened that we had the same amount of buttons as we did people on that tour and so we all wore them everyday. It just so happened that as we were coming out of Jordan into Israel, and we had gotten into one of the several passport lines, when I noticed this middle easterner was trying read what these buttons said. He was a young man probably in his 30s, and finally he broke out of his line and came over to me, and turned the button up to where he could read it, and said, "FAITH + NOTHING = SALVATION?" I said, "That’s right," and he was just stupefied. He said, "You mean, that I don’t have to work, and work and work to get to heaven?" I said, "No you don’t, you just simply believe the Gospel, and that will do it." He just shook his head, and went back into his line.
But isn’t that the attitude of most of the people of the world? Oh, we’ve got to work, work, work, and somehow satisfy the demands of a Holy God, but listen, the only way we can satisfy God is by taking it by faith in Paul’s Gospel of I Corinthians 15:1-4.
So this is what Paul is referring to here. How dare we neglect so great a Salvation! Now I think it’s all going to be based on this whole idea of responsibility, the judgment for rewards. The Bema Seat is going to be based upon our faithfulness with what we have, and what we have done with our responsibility. The lost will be judged on how much responsibility did they have, just how much knowledge did they have. Now for a lot of lost people out there in areas of the world where we think they’ve never heard the Gospel, then naturally they’re not going to suffer as severe a doom as an American who hears the Gospel day in and day out and rejects it.
We’ve got the greatest thing that has ever been offered to the human race. A Salvation without works, by faith, and faith alone in what Christ has already done for us - it’s finished. It’s a finished transaction, so the question again is:
"How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first (going all the way back to Christ’s earthly ministry. This is all building up to our Gospel of Grace) began to be spoken by the Lord," (in His earthly ministry)
Now remember that I make it so plain, that the Lord could not teach our Grace Gospel, which is that "Christ died, was buried, and rose from the dead." That hadn’t happened yet. The Twelve disciples didn’t understand any of that either. In fact, let’s just take time and look at what the Scriptures say about that. I know people think that I’m coming out of the woodwork most of the time when I make a statement like that. So rather than just relying on tradition as a lot of people do, I have to back everything up with Scripture. You see they couldn’t be preaching our Grace Gospel of the death, burial, and resurrection for Salvation for the whole human race, because:
- Christ was dealing with His covenant people, Israel. And the whole basis of Salvation was still under the Law of Moses, but now it was an added responsibility to repent, and follow it with water baptism, but the crux of the whole thing was, they had to believe Who Jesus was. They had to believe that He was the Christ, their Messiah.
- Then after Salvation goes to the Gentile world through the Apostle Paul, then yes, it becomes the Gospel of Grace, based on His death, burial, and resurrection.
So let’s look at it in Luke chapter 18, and let’s drop in at verse 31. My, these are interesting verses and should settle the argument when people try to tell me that Jesus and the Twelve preached the Gospel that we believe (that Christ was going to die, and that He was going to be buried, and He was going to be resurrected). See, that’s probably their argument. "Well, no it hadn’t happened, but they knew it was going to happen." No they didn’t know, and these verses make it so plain. This took place toward the end of His ministry. They’re up there in Caesarea Philippi, and they’re going on up to Jerusalem for the crucifixion.
"Then he took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished. (that is concerning Jesus of Nazareth) 32. For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, (to the Romans) and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated. and spitted on: 33. And they shall scourge him, and put him to death, and the third day he shall rise again."
Is that plain? Well, you can’t make it any plainer. Why weren’t the disciples sitting outside the tomb, which no doubt was in the sidewall of a limestone cliff, waiting for the great event that resurrection morning? Well, they didn’t know that He was going to be raised from the dead. But remember Jesus had just told them that, but they didn’t know. And it isn’t until you get to John chapter 20, when Peter and John run into the tomb, and see the evidence of resurrection that the Scriptures says, "and they believed. For as yet then knew not the Scripture that He must rise from the dead." How could they not know when Jesus told them? Well the answer is in the next verse.
"And they (the Twelve) understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken." Well Who hid it from them? God did.
"The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those thing which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever,…"
Well, all that says is: that God in His Sovereignty can keep things secret so far as men are concerned until He is ready for them to understand. So it was not time for these men to know that He was going to be put to death, and they were not to know that He was to be raised from the dead, although prophecy was full of it. But these men couldn’t put all that together, and so when all this took place (you know the events around His crucifixion), Peter vowed up and down with curse words and swearing that he never knew our Lord. The others evidently scattered like quail. They had no idea that He was going to be raised from the dead, and when Mary Magdalene went to the tomb in John chapter 20, what did she go for? Well, to anoint the corpse, because she had no idea that He was going to be resurrected from the dead.
And yet He had spoken it three times throughout His earthly ministry, but God did not open their understanding. So Mary Magdalene goes to the tomb with the idea of anointing Jesus’ body, as was the custom, and low and behold the tomb is empty. And on top of that, she still doesn’t think He’s raised from the dead, but rather somebody must have robbed His tomb. So she runs back and finds Peter and John and says, "They have taken away the Lord out of sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him." By now Peter and John are all shook up, so what do they do? They run to the sepulchre, and when they get there they go in and see the evidence, the linen clothes lying there as if the body came right out of it. The head napkin folded up, so they had the evidence. And then that’s where I previously quoted the verse, "For as yet they knew not the Scriptures that He must rise again from the dead."
Now here’s the reason. Even though Jesus explicitly told them what was going to happen, they understood none of these things as we saw in verse 34. But you see they weren’t supposed to because God kept that from them. Now the reason I always point this out so graphically over and over, is because when Paul comes along and claims that all of his revelations had been kept secret, we can understand then why all of Paul’s revelations were hidden from the Twelve disciples, and everyone before them. They had been kept secret in the mind of God until He was ready to reveal them to this man, the Apostle to the Gentiles in this Age of Grace.
Lesson Three • Part I
How Shall We Escape
Now as we open the Scriptures, we trust that the Holy Spirit will speak to hearts, and it seems to be working. My, our mail is just so rewarding, that over and over for the first time in their lives, they’re enjoying their Bible. So we just trust that you’ll continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord.
Now getting back to our Bible study of comparing Scripture with Scripture. At the present we’re still in the Book of Hebrews, and periodically I like to come back as we teach this book and make some of the introductory remarks again. Because this is a book that I think is totally misunderstood, because people do not understand that the Book of Hebrews was first and foremost directed to Hebrews. Some were believers, but it was written primarily for those of the Hebrews that were on the fence.
Anyone who had been steeped in a religion or a cult for a lifetime can get a good understanding of where these Jewish people were. They were being pulled into this whole new concept of Paul’s revelation of the grace of God, but on the other hand they were being pulled back into Judaism. Remember it’s not easy to let go of something that you’ve had a whole lifetime of being steeped in.
So this is the whole thrust of the Book of Hebrews, to show, yes, where they had been was good, the Law was good - I mean after all it had carried Israel for 1500 years. But now, this tremendous grace is so much better. So this is what we’re going to be showing throughout the Book of Hebrews. For example the angels were great, but Christ is greater. The Aaronic priesthood was good, but the priesthood after the order of Melchisedec is better.
So, all the way through this book, Hebrews is going to be directed to those kinds of Jews who are primarily not able to make up their minds to make the break from Judaism. But as we study all the rest of Scripture, it is also for our learning as Gentile believers. In fact, before we even look at Hebrews come back for a moment to the Book of Romans chapter 15 and verse 4. This is a verse I use so often when we teach the Old Testament or even the Four Gospels, this is a verse that Paul writes so distinctly. And as we study the book of Hebrews keep this verse uppermost in your thinking. Even though it’s written to Jews, there is so much that’s in the book of Hebrews for our learning. Always remember, too, that once we get into Paul’s doctrine of grace, there is now no difference between Jew and Gentile. So even though it’s directed to the Jew, it is also directed to us.
"For whatsoever things were written aforetime (now that primarily goes for the Old Testament, but I think it also applies to the Four Gospels, as I think they were written before Paul’s letters, so I think we’re safe to also include the Four Gospels here) were written for our learning, that we (as believers in this Age of Grace) through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope."
And you remember I’ve been using, over the last several months, those two verses in Peter’s epistles, where Peter admonished his readers, which were also primarily Jews, that they were to go to the epistles of Paul if they really wanted to find the plan of Salvation. And in that next verse, he says, "As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; (of Salvation) hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest,…" So he makes it so plain that even Paul’s letters are included in that word ‘Scriptures.’
Now I think we can come back to Hebrews with that as an introduction that we’re going to study the Book of Hebrews, realizing that it was written first and foremost to Hebrews who were having a hard time making that break, away from Judaism and into this tremendous Gospel of Grace, but it is also a Book that is for our learning. Now in the last lesson, we spent a little time in Hebrews chapter 2:3, but after Jerry sent me the transcript of that last lesson, I thought there was still so much that I didn’t even scratch the surface of. So I’m going to look at verse 3 again this afternoon, and we’ll dig out a little more than we did before. So let’s just begin with verse 1 so we can pick up the flow, because in chapter 1 we pointed out that Jesus of Nazareth was the Son. And it was in the Son that God completed the plan of redemption, and through the Son that our sins were purged, and then He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, never again to be humiliated with the death of the cross, as that had already now been accomplished. And the first word, "Therefore" is referring back to chapter 1.
"Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip."
In other words we have to be sure that we hang onto these things that God has revealed to us, and that we have appropriated them by faith.
"For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast,…"
Which was a reference to the Ten Commandments, and we made the point in the last lesson that there are, I think, two places in Scripture where the angels are included in that giving of the Law. Now, normally we don’t think of that. We think of the Law as having been written by the finger of God on the tables of stone, but two different places it says it was given by the work of the angels. So this is what Paul is referring to here.
"For if the word (Law) spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward;"
Now I’ve got to stop there and remind you, and I made the point when were teaching it, that the Law was severe! The Law was severe and there was no circumventing it, there was no compromising it. The Law said if you were caught picking up sticks on the Sabbath, what was the punishment? Death! So there was no twisting or compromising it, so this is what Paul is reminding us here. That even the Law that was given by the angels up there on Mount Sinai, it received a just recompence of reward. In other words, God is always true to His own Word. Now verse 3, and this is where we’re going to spend at least a program and maybe even two or more on these next three parts of verse 3.
"How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation;.."
Now I’m going to divide them into three parts. "How shall we escape," is part one. "if we neglect" That’s part two. "so great salvation;" is part three.
Now if I was the kind that set up a point sermon, that would be it. A good three-point sermon, "How shall we escape, if we neglect so great Salvation." So I think if nothing else this afternoon, if you can remember these three aspects of this verse, we will have accomplished something. So now let’s look at the first part.
"How shall we escape,…"
Well escape what? Come back with me now to Malachi chapter 1. That’s the last Book in the Old Testament so that’s real easy to find. And this is the question that we’re going to answer, "How shall we escape?" Now of course the "we" is speaking of the whole human race in general. Yes, it’s written to Jews who could not make up their mind to come on in, but it’s also written to unbelieving Gentiles, which of course we were. See, we can never take ourselves out of the picture. Now as believers we’ve already escaped it, haven’t we? We don’t have to worry about the indication or the wrath of God, because all of that’s been laid on Christ for all of us who have believed. But we’re still part and parcel of the human race who in one way or another were faced with this something to escape from. Remember this is the Old Testament, and we’re still dealing here with the tribes that surrounded Israel, and in this case it’s Edom, the offspring of Esau.
"Whereas Edom saith, We are impoverished, but we will return and build the desolate places; thus saith the LORD of hosts, They shall build, but I will throw down; and they shall call them, the border of wickedness, and, the people against whom the LORD hath indignation (for how long?) forever."
Now that’s a blanket statement, not just for the Edomites, but for all those who have rejected God’s offer of Salvation. Now I’m going to take you into Matthew chapter 25, and this is just two of the many instances when Jesus spoke of the doom of the lost. I think you’ve all heard at one time or another, maybe even from your own pulpit, that Jesus spoke far more of the eternal destiny of the lost, than He did of heaven. He spoke a lot more, and I’m just going to give you two of them that are real easy to find. And this is Jesus speaking here in this passage, so if you have a red letter edition, then it will be in red, and He is speaking during His earthly ministry.
"For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. 30. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Now that includes the lost of all the ages. Now you can come up to verse 41 of the same chapter.
"Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:"
Plain English? It can’t get any plainer than that. That is the future for the lost of the ages. Now come up to Romans if you will, chapter 2, and verse 3. Now here in Romans, this is from the pen of the Apostle Paul. I’ll wait until you find it, because I want people to see it with their own eyes. Don’t go by what I say, but rather by what the Book says.
"And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, (a Pharisee type individual) and doest the same, that thou shall escape the judgment of God?"
And of course the answer is obvious, "They will not escape!" Now I Thessalonians chapter 5 is the next one. I’m going to start at verse 1, but verse 3 is where we will find the word "escape."
I Thessalonians 5:1-3
"But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. 2. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. 3. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; (what does that sound like? Well that sounds like the politicians right now today. Oh, they’re always trying to bring in world peace, and when they say peace and safety) then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child and they shall not escape."
They’re lost, do you see that? Now let’s go on into Hebrews chapter 10, and we’ll use verse 30 and 31. And remember the whole theme of these verses is, "The lost will never escape if they leave this life never having cashed in on God’s offer of Salvation - they are doomed!" And this is the reason.
"For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me,…"
Now we’ve got to stop and ask ourselves, "How can God say that? How can God say some of these things we’ve been looking at?"
"Well you see the reason is, when He finished the plan of Salvation, when Christ suffered at the hands of those Roman soldiers, and even as He went down the road to Golgotha, and they laid the heavy cross upon Him, and He fell under the weight of it, suffering every step of the way. And that was only the very tip of the iceberg compared to when they nailed Him to the cross, lifted it up, and then the epitome of it all, was not just the physical suffering, but God laid on Him the punishment and the wrath of God, that would take away the sin, of not just the small percentage of believers, but rather for the whole world! The whole world was laid on Him, that was the suffering that He accomplished on the world’s behalf. And then God turned right around and through the power of His resurrection and the power of new life, offered it freely to the whole world. I mean FREE, and that’s Grace."
Now after God has done all that, and then lays it out to be had free (for nothing), and men walk it under foot, do you really think he’s being unfair then by coming back with the vengeance, and the wrath that is promised? Of course not - be reasonable. He’s already paid the sin debt, it’s all done, but mortal man will not give in. So consequently, verse 30:
"For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord, And again, The Lord shall judge his people."
Now first and foremost we’re talking about the Nation of Israel, but we’re also talking about the whole human race, in fact, come back to Romans chapter 3 for a moment. As you know, I hit these verses as they come to mind. Here in Romans chapter 3, maybe this will help us understand what I’m talking about in Hebrews all the time. Yes, Hebrews was written primarily to the Jew, because that’s what it says, "To the Hebrews." But listen we can’t just say, "Oh well that’s not for me, that’s for the Jew." No, we’re all in the same boat now, because God has reached out beyond the Nation of Israel, and the whole world is now part and parcel of all this.
"Now we know that what things soever the law saith, (the Mosaic system) it saith to them who are under the law:…"
Now I think everyone of you in this room know, who was under the Law? Israel. The rest of the world didn’t come under the Mosaic Law. God didn’t expect the Babylonians, Egyptians, and Greeks, to come to Temple worship. That was only for the Nation of Israel. Now read on.
"…it saith to them who are under the law that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God."
Do you see how plain that is? Yes the Law was given to Israel, and Israel was expected to abide by it, not the rest of the world. But the condemnation of the Law went to every human being, and not just Israel. Do you see how it reaches? Yes, for those under Law it was a system, it was worship, it was modus operandi, but the condemnation of the Law went to the whole world, not just Israel. Now with that as a backdrop, come back to Hebrews chapter 10 again. So, it’s the whole world, not just Israel who are under the anathema and the wrath and the vengeance of a Holy God, because He made Salvation possible not just for Israel, but the whole human race. Now verse 31. Consequently:
"It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."
Do you know why? Because He can do what He says He will do. He is all powerful, He’s Sovereign, and He will keep His Word, and when He says that the lost are going to suffer indignation forever, then you’d better bet your last dollar that it’s going to happen, because He Sovereign, He’s the One Who has spoken it. So all of these references are merely to show us that yes, God is a God of grace. God is not willing that any should perish, but when they reject his offer, then He has every right in His Sovereignty and in His Holiness, to bring about their doom and judgment. Now let’s go a little bit further, in the few moments we have left, to the Book of Revelation, chapter 20.
I’ll never forget, I was supposed to be teaching for an hour one Sunday morning in a Church in a state a long way from Oklahoma, and it was one of those times, I got up to teach, and I just didn’t know where to start. I was just sort of standing there dumfounded, and in order to get a trigger to what I should be bringing, a gentlemen in the back of the room, said, "Well Les, you’re always talking about we’re under grace, faith + nothing, without works - then how do you explain the word ‘works’ in Revelation chapter 20?" Well I was just dumfounded, and I said, "Do you realize what you’re opening?" Well I didn’t give him time to answer me, and told the audience, "Let’s turn to Revelation 20." Well that’s the Great White Throne judgment for the lost!
After the lesson was over one of the gentlemen came up and said, "Les, we haven’t heard hell-fire in this church for 50 years." I said, "Well, he opened it, I didn’t." But here it is, and it’s true. Hardly anybody touches this anymore, because they don’t want to hear it, because it’s a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. This is when all of this judgment will come to a head. This is when all the lost of all the ages from Cain on up to the last lost human being that comes off the earth will be meeting at the Great White Throne Judgment for their punishment. So let’s start at verse 11.
"And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away: and there was found no place for them. (that is the earth and universe) 12. And I saw the dead, (the lost. There will be no believers at the Great White Throne) small and great, stand before God; (So they’ve been resurrected, and will be standing before Him bodily, not with a body fit for bliss in glory, but rather with a body that’s fit for their doom, the lake of fire) and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works."
Which is a record of their deeds during their life on earth. Now verse 13.
"And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; (in other words nobody is going to miss this that is lost. Every lost person from the very beginning of the human experience until the end is going to be brought up before this Great White Throne. My, what a horrible place that’s going to be, and Christ will sit as the Judge, not as the Saviour that He is for you and I as believers. Because He has been pleading with mankind throughout their whole lifetime, but now they are judged:) every man according to their works."
Now verse 15, and what a horrible statement, and that’s why most people try to avoid it, but it’s in your Bible, and what does it say?
"And whosever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire."
Lesson Three • Part II
How Shall We Escape
Now you can be turning with me to Hebrews chapter 2, and we’re going to pick right up again with verse 3. I don’t know how much longer we’ll be in it, but we’ll pick as much out of this verse as we can, because that’s what makes Bible study interesting. Now I don’t know how many of you know about the operation of the Jewish Rabbi’s and the ones who study Scriptures. But all the way up through their history they would sit and maybe spend days, and maybe even weeks, on one verse. Maybe they’ve got all the commentaries of all the other Rabbis and know what everyone else has said, but they’ll look at that verse, and study it to see what other meaning they can pull out of it.
Well, I’m not going to go to that extreme, but I do love to just see how much you can pull out of a particular statement in Scripture, by comparing it with other Scriptures. That’s the name of the game you know, building Scripture on Scripture. So we’ll be staying here in Hebrews 2:3 for at least this lesson, and maybe the next one also.
We also want to thank you for all your letters, but most of all for your prayers. My how we love your letters when you tell us that you’re praying for us every day. Some of you say, you pray for us two or three times a day. Well that’s what we need, because we know that the Devil is quite the adversary, he’s powerful, and yet we do feel that the prayers of the saints are more powerful. Now that’s all we need for opening comment, so let’s get into the Book and once again look at verse 3. In the last half hour we looked at the first 3 or 4 words, "How shall we escape." Now we’ll move on.
"How shall we escape, (that is the wrath, and doom, and eternal lostness) if we neglect so great salvation;…"
Now that word neglect, I think we all experience it. I know I try to tell my sons in our ranching business, you know you can’t get careless, you can’t cut corners and say, "Oh well, we’ll do it tomorrow or next week," because just as sure as do, it’s going to hit you in the pocket book. So, neglect, you see is a word that catches us almost everyday of our lives regardless of what our lifestyle is. Neglect leads to carelessness and it means the same thing here.
In fact as I was mulling over these things last night, and I haven’t even had time to share it with Iris. Quite a few years ago, I think back in the early 1980’s we were driving across New Mexico, and I’m sure some of you have been on that same state highway; it’s not an interstate. Anyway you’re driving along on a flat table top plateau, and all of a sudden you come to the Rio Grande River which is just a gorge, and way, way down is that little Rio Grande River, and of course the bridge goes right on over it. So you come down a very gentle incline and cross the bridge.
Well, they had a walkway on the bridge, and we got to the other side, and I thought, boy this is unique, so we stopped and parked to walk back on the walkway. There were a couple of other couples who had also stopped and were out on the walkway, and they were looking way down at the bottom, where there was a beautiful motor home that was smashed up and ruined. They were all discussing it, so I asked what in the world had happened? Well the couple who owned the motor home, had pulled off the shoulder on the east side of the bridge, got out, came down on the bridge where we were, and they neglected to set the brake or put it in gear. And while they were on the bridge, that motor home started rolling, and just almost as if somebody steered it, just before it got to bridge, which had no guard rails, over it went, down into the bottom of that gorge, totally destroying it.
Well what prompted that accident? Neglect! Just a moment of neglect, and isn’t that exactly what people are doing with their eternal doom? They’re neglecting the most important thing in life, and that is to accept God’s offer of Salvation, and escape that eternal doom. Now with that as a backdrop,
"How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation;…"
It isn’t that Salvation isn’t there. I mentioned it so often in John chapter 10, the chapter on the good shepherd - where is the door of the sheepfold? Right at ground level. Not up on some high cliff or across some raging river, but rather it’s right at ground level, and in front of every lost person throughout their life. All they have to do is step in by faith, but they neglect to do that. Alright, let’s just use a couple of Scripture verses to point that out.
"How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation;…"
Alright we’ll stop right there and come back to Matthew chapter 22, where the same Greek word, in a little bit different form, nevertheless it’s the same Greek root word here in this chapter, and let’s look at verses 1-5. But in order to get the real meaning of the verse, I guess we should go to the beginning of the parable, because this is the Lord Jesus speaking during His earthly ministry, and remember these parables again were directed primarily to the Jewish people, and the Pharisees in particular. In fact while you’re in this chapter just go back a chapter to 21:45, because I always like to use this verse to explain to people what I mean when I say, that everything Jesus said, was said to Jews under the Law. So let’s look at that passage first.
"And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them."
Do you see how plain that is? They understood that all His parables were directed to them, because they were the ones that were so guilty. Now you come into chapter 22, He gives another parable.
"And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, (So who do you think He’s directing it to? Well the chief priest and the Pharisees) 2. The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, 3. And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. 4. Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. 5. But they made light of it, (they neglected it, they didn’t pay any attention. They neglected their invitation to the wedding feast. So in their neglecting it, what was their response?) and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise;"
But instead of responding to the invitation they neglected paying any attention to that invitation to the marriage feast. Now I think I’ve got another one in chapter 23, at least I hope that’s the one I want. Here the Lord Jesus, and you’ve all seen pictures of it on somebody’s wall, where He’s looking out over Jerusalem. And it is a thought provoking picture, no doubt about it. But this is what He’s saying:
"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!"
Why not? They neglected. They didn’t pay any mind. He’s making reference of course to the whole Old Testament economy when the prophets were constantly warning Israel of their chastisement, how that other nations would over run them, and then, he says: "You would not." So consequently because of their neglect He says:
"Behold, your house is left unto you desolate."
Oh, what awful condemnation, but that wasn’t God’s fault. God pleaded with them, and pleaded with them, and pleaded with them. "But they would not!" Now let’s turn to the Book of Acts, chapter 2 for a little bit and pick up this same thought. This is on the Pentecostal sermon that Peter is preaching. This vast crowd of Jews has gathered for the Feast of Pentecost. Remember this is just 50 days after the crucifixion, and here’s the same response, total neglect.
"Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: 23. Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:"
Why would they do this? They neglected to understand that He was the promised Messiah. He proved it for 3 years, but they spurned Him, and neglected even as those who were invited to the wedding feast we read about a few moment ago. Now let’s go over a little further, still in the Book of Acts. So come on over to chapter 24, when Paul has now come on the scene, and let’s drop in at verse 24. Here Paul is being accused, and supposedly being brought to trial.
"And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ. (now you all know this, I know you do. But I want to give you another thought on it.) 25. And as he reasoned (Felix, this governor or whatever his title may have been, but as he reasoned) of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered. Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee. 26. He hoped also that money should have been given him of Paul, that he might loose him:…"
What’s Felix doing? Neglecting Salvation. He’s putting it off to his own doom. Oh, the constant reminder in Scripture is, "Don’t put it off" because the Scripture says, "Now is the day of Salvation." Not tomorrow or next year, but now. Now let’s come back to Hebrews chapter 2, and we’ll go on a little further in the verse.
"How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation;…"
How are we going to miss the doom of the lost, if we neglect or spurn or postpone so great a Salvation. Now listen, I’m afraid the average well-intentioned church member doesn’t realize what a great Salvation has been offered to the human race. It’s the inhuman understanding. It’s just totally beyond us. Alright now I’m going to bring you back again to Romans and this time chapter 1. This is a verse that most of you probably know from memory. Let’s drop down to verse 16. And remember, "How can we escape, and how can the human race escape if they neglect, or treat lightly so great a Salvation.
"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it (the Gospel) is the power of God unto salvation to every one that (repents and is baptized? No! Your Bible doesn’t say that and neither does mine, or anything else you can put in there. This great Salvation has now become accessible to everyone that) believeth; (It’s faith, it’s trusting this Gospel. So it’s to everyone that believeth,) to the Jew first, and also to the Greek."
Alright, so great a Salvation. Now let’s go look at Philippians chapter 2. I’m going to wear your Bibles out today, and I thought of that even as I was preparing last night, that we’re going to do a lot of page turning today. And the whole idea that we want to keep in our minds for at least this program and maybe on into the next one is, "this great Salvation." These are verses we use periodically.
"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus; 6. Who, (God the Son as we saw in Hebrews 1. Who) being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: (He was God. He was the Creator of everything) 7. But (even though He was the Creator God, He) made himself (He was forced into it) of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, (bond slave, the lowest level in the human economy) and was made in the likeness of men: 8. And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."
Now again our human intellect cannot comprehend all of this. It’s just beyond us. We cannot put together and get a full understanding of all that was in the mind of God when He preprogrammed that horrible death of crucifixion. You see, when you go back into the time of Moses, when the serpents were running rampant through Israel, what did Moses put up in the midst of the camp. Well the brazen serpent. And the whole idea was that if the people would look up at that brazen serpent, then they would be healed of their snakebites. Then you come along to John’s Gospel, and what does he say? "The Son of man had to be lifted up." He had to be lifted up in order to fulfill the type of the brazen serpent.
So it had to be the death by crucifixion, because no other death would have lifted him up. He had to be the cursed One, because again you go back into the Old Testament economy, when there was a no good son, and nobody could do anything with him, what had to happen? Well they had to put him to death, but after they had stoned him, what did they do with his body? Hung it on a pole. And again what was the whole picture? Cursed is everyone that hangs on a tree. So those were all prototypes of what Christ would fulfill in that horrible death by crucifixion. But you see in God’s Sovereign way of thinking, it had to be, as nothing else would have worked. But you see we can’t comprehend that, at least I can’t, and I don’t think anybody can.
And it’s the same way with the soul that sins. In fact come back with me to the Book of Genesis chapter 2, because we’ve got to see this with our own eyes once in a while, because it makes a better impact, I think. Let’s drop down to verse 17, and this is right at the beginning of the human experience. Yes, even before Eve is even on the scene. Adam had to teach this little piece of knowledge to his wife Eve at some later point, because Adam is alone when this happens. So here the Lord is instructing Adam of his habitation in the Garden of Eden.
"But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die."
Why? Because the day he would eat, he would be a disobedient person, and disobedience is sin, and sin and death go together. So the whole purpose then of Christ having to die, is to overcome the death that was precipitated by sin. Now when you start putting all that together, it’s mind boggling. Is it any wonder, then, that the Bible calls it, "so great a Salvation?" It is so great that we can never fathom it. And that’s why the Lord has been gracious, and let’s us take it only by faith. There’s no way we can finally pass the exam, and say, "Well Lord I’m ready, so test me, because I’ve got all the answers." No, we’d never get there. We would always fail it, so He’s made it real simple. We just come into Salvation by faith, by believing as much as we can understand, and then as a believer we begin to comprehend a little more all the time. But listen, this is such a great Salvation that no one can understand the total ramification of it.
Now let’s go to I Corinthians chapter 1 and look at a few more verses. You also want to remember that Paul’s letters are directed to you and I as recipients of God’s Grace, the Church Age. All the rest of Scripture, as we saw in the last program, is written for our learning, but these of Paul are written to us. Not just for us, but rather to us. So in this passage, my, we can just sink our teeth into it, and say, "this is God speaking to me," even though it’s through the apostle’s pen, it’s still God speaking to you and I. Here, I always like to start with verse 17. I know this throws a curve at a lot of people, but it’s what the Book says, it’s not what Les Feldick says, but rather what the Book says.
I Corinthians 1:17
"For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, (in other words, not with some fast talking, whatever. You know, even Apollos was a great orator, but it took a couple of little Jewish lay people to teach him the truth. So he doesn’t come with wisdom of words) lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect."
Listen, at the heart of everything is that work of the cross. Now verse 18, and remember what I’m still harping on, "How great a Salvation." And for the most part mankind is neglecting it, and because they’re neglecting it, they’re never going to escape their doom. So don’t lose sight of that.
I Corinthians 1:18
"For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; (how true. The average person here in the Bible belt does not feel it’s the cross that makes the difference) but unto us which are saved it (the preaching of the cross) is the power of God."
Now you’ve heard me say it on this program over and over, "it took more power to save this sinner, and you as a sinner, than it did to create the universe." Now you may think that’s a play on words, but listen, who held us chained to our lost estate? Satan did. Satan held every one of us, but Who alone could break that chain? The work of the cross! Well, we’ve only got a minute left so let’s continue on right here in I Corinthians chapter 1. Let’s begin at verse 22, and remember this whole idea is, "this great Salvation," based upon this preaching of the cross.
I Corinthians 1:22
"For the Jews require a sign, (and we’ll be looking at that in a further program in Hebrews chapter 2. Oh, they were always saying, "show us a sign." And Christ did with wonders and miracles, but the Greeks on the other hand didn’t care about signs, and miracles, all they wanted was what?)and the Greeks seek after wisdom:"
But for us God satisfies both sides of the coin, as He gives us the power of God, and the wisdom!
Lesson Three • Part III
How Shall We Escape
Now we always like to make it plain that we’re not associated with anybody, we don’t try to destroy or attack anyone, nor lift any one group up over another. I’m just a layman, a cattle rancher, that the Lord has seen fit to use me, from a lay person’s point of view, to just simply teach the Scriptures and help people. As our letters say over and over, "for the very first time in our life, we’re reading our Bible and understanding what we read." Well that’s all we’re trying to do.
Now we’re in the Book of Hebrews and we’ve been stressing ever since we started this study in Hebrews that it is addressed primarily to Jewish people who were having a hard time making the break from Judaism and the Law, and to step into this tremendous Salvation of the Grace of God. Now I can sympathize with people who have that problem. I know I have a lady who used to be in our class and was in a cult, or at least I would call it that, and oh, she wrestled with it for years. But finally one day with a broad smile on her face she said, "Well Les, I’ve finally whipped it and can finally let go, because this was drummed into me since I was 3 years old." So it’s not easy to turn your back on something that has been hammered into us for years and years.
But this Book of Hebrews is just going to trumpet Who Jesus of Nazareth really was. Now you want to remember that during Christ’s earthly ministry, that the purpose of all His signs and wonders and miracles was to prove to the Jewish people of His day that He was the promised Messiah, and we’ll probably be touching on that sometime in the next few programs. But nevertheless, remember that the purpose of the Book of Hebrews is to prove to these Jewish people Who He really was, and Who He is, and that He is the supreme God of the universe. He’s not just another person below the Father, because He and the Father and the Spirit are ONE!
So as we saw in our last lesson, He brought about this great Salvation, and not just for Israel, but rather for the whole human race. Now let’s come right back, and we’re still in verse 3, hopefully we’ll finish verse 3 in this half hour, and maybe go into the next verse in our last program this afternoon.
"How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, (that is by the Son, the One we’re emphasizing here in these first two chapters) and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him:"
Now I guess the best place to start is, "What do we mean by this Salvation which was first spoken by the Lord Himself?" So turn back to Matthew, and we’ll go into His earthy ministry again, because I think if anything else I’ve stressed in my years of teaching, and I think most of you and our listening audience out in television land are beginning to understand, is that the Bible is a progressive revelation. They didn’t have everything back there in Genesis, and the prophets still didn’t know it all. The Twelve didn’t get a grasp of it all, because it was a progressive thing.
So as we progress on up through human history, and we come up through the Scriptures, then we finally come to this place where the Apostle Paul becomes the number one player on the stage, and he reveals how that all of these things were coming to the place where Salvation could now go to the whole human race. Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but by faith in what Christ accomplished in His death, burial, and resurrection. Alright, but we’re not there yet in Christ’s earthly ministry, He’s still in the Kingdom economy, so come back to Matthew chapter 4, and let’s just drop in at verse 17. We’re not going to stay here very long, we’re going to shoot right back to Genesis in a minute, but this is a good jumping off place from what he meant in Hebrews, that this great Salvation which at the beginning was spoken by the Lord Himself.
"From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
Well, what was He talking about? He had come to them to present Himself to Israel as their Messiah, their Redeemer, and their King. Now where do we get all that. Well let’s go all the way back to Genesis, even though I’m sure Paul is making the original reference to the Lord’s earthly ministry there in Hebrews 2:3, but yet I think we can take the opportunity to go all the way back to when it all began in Genesis chapter 3, where we have the first prophetic utterance concerning the coming of a Redeemer and Saviour for the whole human race.
Genesis 3:15, a verse that most of you know forward and backwards, and this is just after the fall of mankind. Adam and Eve have just eaten of the tree, prompted, of course, by the adversary, the old tempter, the Devil himself. So God is dealing with Satan, and He’s making him a promise. A promise that He fulfilled when He finished the work of the cross. So God says:
"And I will put enmity between thee (Satan) and the woman, and between thy seed (the forces of Satan, and his whole demonic system of power. It would be an enmity between that) and her seed; (or the Seed of the woman, and we know from Galatians chapter 3, that the Seed of the woman was Christ. And He came through the woman, she was the vehicle) it (the Seed of the woman, Christ) shall bruise thy head, (that’s where you defeat a snake, you kill it at it’s head. So that’s where we struck Satan his death blow at the cross, but Satan got in his lick by making Christ suffer) and thou shall bruise his heel."
Now then the next great event in human history that leads to the coming of our great Salvation is the Abrahamic Covenant in Genesis chapter 12. It’s been a long time since we’ve covered that on the program, and so we’re going to hit it again. You know I’m always apologizing for repeating, and even though people write constantly and say, "keep repeating" I always feel that once I’ve said something, that should settle it.
I read a book again the other night, and I won’t give you the title or contents, because it was a book that was in total opposition to everything that I teach, so it took something to stay with it, but the author proved something to me. He uses one verse of Scripture throughout that whole book, and on some pages he used it four times, now that’s repetition. Over and over he’s coming from only that one verse of Scripture - I mean riding it like a hobby horse. Well I have to look at my own teaching and compared to that, I don’t repeat much at all. But some of these important things we do repeat and here’s one of them, the Abrahamic Covenant. I’ve taught it and taught and taught it, because it is so fundamental to this great Salvation. Now verse 1 of Genesis chapter 12, and remember this is half way between Adam and Christ’s first advent:
"Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: (which of course will be the land of Canaan.) 2. And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: 3. And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curseth thee: (now here comes the promise on which your Salvation and mine rests) and in thee (Abraham) shall all families of the earth be blessed."
Now I maintain that Abraham had no idea what God had in mind. Abraham had a to wait a long time before he even got his first son, and how can you get a nation until you have a son? But from that one son, Isaac, there came another generation with one son, Jacob, then finally Jacob has the twelve sons, and the twelve sons and their families end up down in Egypt. Then, after the hundreds of years in Egypt, God raises up the next great character in Scripture, in Moses the deliverer. And Moses leads the Nation of Israel out of bondage. And to that Nation of Israel, He now gives the Law. The Mosaic Law was a whole idea of preparing that nation of people for the coming of a Redeemer. But according to the Abrahamic Covenant it was to be more than just a Redeemer, He was also to be a Messiah and a King over an earthly Kingdom.
And all of these things begin to snowball as you come up through human history, leading up to the day when Christ makes that initial appearance to the Nation of Israel. Now come back again to Matthew chapter 4, and we see He started His ministry crying:
"…Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
Now come on over to chapter 9, and remember the basis for me doing this. "How shall we escape if we neglect so great a Salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord." Do you see where I’m coming from? Alright then, how did the Lord come? By virtue of the promises made to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and the prophets - and now here He is, and makes His appearance. Now let’s begin with verse 35, and this is the beginning of His earthly ministry, as we call it.
"And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues,…"
How many times have you heard me say it, and I’ll keeping saying it as long as the Lord gives me breath, "When Jesus made His appearance to the Nation of Israel, everything He said and taught was directed to the Nation of Israel and He was under the Law." And all I ask people to do is just stop and think, did He ever one time tell the disciples or his followers to quit Temple worship. No, never! Did He ever tell them it was no longer necessary to bring sacrifices? Never! And every thing that He taught is in accordance with the Law. Let me give you an example over in chapter 19. Sometimes I start heading for a Scripture, and then I’m not sure I’m going to the right place, but this one I hit right. And this Scripture just confirms what I just told you about Jesus teaching according to the Law. Everything He said, was directed to the Jewish people under the Law, and oh, that’s hard for people to understand. This is a whole different economy than where we are today. We’re not under Law, we’re under Grace, but Jesus ministered under the Law of Moses.
"And behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?" Is that a good question to the One Who gives eternal life? Absolutely! But look at Jesus’ answer.
"And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, (that is eternal life) keep the commandments."
Now a lot of people are trying to get to heaven by using that today. I know they are, because I had a lady call once from out on the East coast one Monday morning. And she said, "Les I’m confused, because yesterday morning my preacher preached a sermon from Matthew 19, when the young man came and wanted to know what he must do to receive eternal life, and Jesus said, keep the commandments. Then this morning you said, we’re not under Law, but rather under Grace. So I’m confused."
I said give me five minutes, and maybe we can straighten out your thinking. So I did what I’ve done in the past few moments, I started with Abraham and just on our phone conversation, brought her all the way up through, and how that we went beyond the cross, and that when Christ was crucified then the Law was crucified with Him, and He arose in resurrection power, and then He revealed to this last apostle, the Apostle Paul, all of these Grace Age revelations, and through that work of the cross the Law has been satisfied and all the sins of the world were laid on Christ, and now we just take it by faith + nothing; it’s all done. Do you know what that dear lady’s answer to all that was? She said, "It’s all so logical isn’t it?"
Yes, it is, if you’ll just see the whole picture. But you see, too many people aren’t seeing the whole picture, they can only see Christ’s earthly ministry. I had a pastor from somewhere down South called just this morning, seeing all this for the first time. He said. "I’ve preached the Four Gospels all my life, but you’ve shown me that’s not where it’s at, it’s in Paul." I said, "Praise the Lord!" Well I hope we can make the point. Now back to Matthew chapter 9. So Jesus in verse 35:
"And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, (according to the Law) and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, (which had been promised all the way since Genesis chapter 12. That through the Abrahamic Covenant would come this Kingdom promised to the Nation of Israel. So He was preaching the good news of the Kingdom) and healing every sickness and every disease among the people." Now to show how it was confined to the Nation of Israel, just come across the page to Matthew chapter 10.
"And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples,…" Then it names them. You know them, and I don’t have to read them, but then come down to verse 5:
"These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them,…"
Now when I read this verse to my classes, I always stop to make the point, He doesn’t suggest and say, "Well, maybe you’ll have a little better result if you do this." No He commanded them, and He’s the Lord of glory, He’s the Creator, He’s the God of this universe, and He had every right in the world to command them, and look what He tells them.
"…and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: 6. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." Do you see how plain that is? He commanded them not to have any thing to do with anybody but Jews. And then verse 7.
"And as ye go, preach, (the same thing He’d been preaching) saying The kingdom of heaven is at hand."
And along with that they were to have the power of healing and miracles and signs and wonders. Now verse 8.
"Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give. 9. Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses."
My what a different scenario than what we’re in today, but that was the Gospel that Jesus was proclaiming to the Nation of Israel. Alright, the other one I like to use with regard to that same Gospel of the Kingdom is in Matthew chapter 16. This is all that Paul is referring to, how that at the beginning the Gospel as we understand it, even in our Gospel of Grace, began back here, but it’s a progressive thing. It began with the promises made to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the prophets. It began even further when Jesus appeared to the Nation of Israel, and we’re going to see in a little bit how it goes on into Peter’s preaching in the Book of Acts. Then it’s going to lead to the appearance of that last apostle, the Apostle Paul.
But here in Christ’s earthly ministry, here is what Israel was to have believed under the Law, without giving up anything of the Mosaic system. This was an added requirement of faith. This is toward the end of His earthly ministry, they’re up there in northern Israel, and they’ll be making their way down to Jerusalem for the crucifixion. But look what happens.
"When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? 14. And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. 15. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? 16. And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, (the Messiah) the Son of the living God."
Now listen that’s all they were to believe. That under the Mosaic Law, keeping the commandments, they were to now simply believe this Jesus of Nazareth was the Son of God. And that requirement runs all the way through the Four Gospels. Let me take you on to another one over in John’s gospel, chapter 11, and let’s come down to verse 23.
"Jesus saith unto her, (Martha) Thy brother shall rise again. 24. Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. 25. Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: 26. And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? (now look at her answer. It’s almost identical with Peter’s answer) 27. She saith unto him, Yea Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world."
Now isn’t that obvious? This is all the Gospel now that began with the coming of Christ to the Nation of Israel in fulfillment of all those Old Testament prophecies, but now this was their Gospel, and that’s what they had to believe. That He was the Christ, but under the Law. Nobody said anything about no longer keeping the Law. Now let’s go to the Book of Acts, and now look at how Peter approaches it in chapter 3. And how this Gospel just keeps moving on through the earthly ministry, past the death, burial, and resurrection, and now we’re into Peter’s preaching still to the Nation of Israel. Here they’ve just healed the lame man, and Peter comes on down and reminds them again that they denied the Holy One in verse 14.
"But ye denied the Holy One…"
In verse 15 you desired the murderer:
"And killed the Prince of life,…"
But now look at verse 16. Here is the continuation of that Gospel of the Kingdom that Jesus began.
"And his name though faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of your all."
How did that man receive healing, as well no doubt Salvation? By believing that the One Who had been crucified, had risen from the dead, and now it was through faith in that name, that he could receive healing as well as his Salvation.
Lesson Three • Part IV
How Shall We Escape
Now as we begin this our fourth lesson for the afternoon, we’re still in verse 3, but hopefully we’ll finish this verse in this half hour. Remember in our last program we were speaking of this great plan of Salvation:
"…which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, (Himself) and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him:"
Remember in the last lesson I took you all the way back to when God confronted Satan or Lucifer, and how that He then turned to the Abrahamic Covenant and brought everything up through the Nation of Israel to bring about the coming of the Messiah and Redeemer. Then, through Israel’s unbelief and rejection, Christ was crucified. Then we moved on up to the Apostle Paul. But now I want to take you back to Acts chapter 7 where Stephen, who was now in consort with Peter and the other eleven there at Jerusalem, approaches the religious leaders of Israel, and the whole idea is the same as what Peter has been trying to do, and that is to convince the Nation of Israel that the One they crucified was the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God. And that, through faith in Him, they could still have Him as their King, and He would bring in the Kingdom. So now in verse 1 we can get the idea where this is being preached or taught.
"Then said the high priest, Are these things so? (in other words what Stephen had been saying up in chapter 6) 2. And he said, Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham,…" Now that doesn’t include a Gentile. Stephen is speaking to the whole nation, but in particular to the religious leaders. So he says:
"And he said, Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham,…"
And Stephen brings them all the way up through Israel’s history, how that Joseph was not recognized the first time when his brethren went down for grain. But when they went the second time then they understood who Joseph was. He was their redeemer of physical things, as they needed grain. Then the next one was Moses. Moses, too, appeared to the Nation of Israel as their deliverer, but they rejected him the first time. Then he had to come back 40 years later, and then Stephen makes the point that the second time he came to them, they recognized that Moses was indeed the God-sent deliverer, and he led them out of bondage.
Then Stephen takes the story of Israel on up, and he tries to culminate his sermon with the fact that this One they crucified was the Christ. Now verse 57, and Stephen is coming to the end of this whole dissertation.
"Then they (these Jewish leaders in particular, and the Nation of Israel in general) cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord. 58. And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul."
Here we have now a high point in Israel’s rejection of everything pertaining to Jesus of Nazareth, and we’re introduced to the next major player on the stage of God dealing with mankind and that was Saul of Tarsus. Now verse 59.
"And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. 60. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep. (died)
Alright that was Israel’s final act of rejection concerning Jesus of Nazareth. Now like I said, we were introduced to the next player on the stage and that’s the Apostle Paul - and we knew him first as Saul of Tarsus. Now I’m not going to rehearse his conversion on the road to Damascus, as most of you are well acquainted with that, but I want you to come down to see how definitively the Scripture points out that here is this fork in the road. Up until now it’s been all God dealing with His covenant people Israel. We know Peter appeals to Israel, and Stephen appeals to them, but now after they’ve rejected them, God does something totally different. So let’s begin with verse 10 of Acts chapter 9. Here Saul is being dealt with just outside the city gate, and the Lord has appeared to him. But now the Lord appears to this Jew who was one of the leaders of the synagogue in Damascus:
"And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; (now you always have to remember that the word ‘disciple’ does not always mean one of the Twelve. A disciple was a follower, and so we know Ananias was certainly not one of the Twelve, but simply a believer that Jesus was the Messiah) and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. (He gets his attention) And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord. 11. And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth. 12. And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight. 13. Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem:" He’s persecuting them. Putting them in prison, putting them to death if possible. Now verse 15, and what’s the first word?
"But…" It’s the flip side, as God’s got another side of the coin.
"But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he (Saul of Tarsus) is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles,…"
Now I’m not going to take time to do it, because I did it a few programs back, but do you remember when Paul had now been out among the Gentiles, and had a lot of converts, and had started little congregations of believers, but he had always had that heart for the Jew. So, he went back and appealed to that great Jewish audience there in Jerusalem. Remember they listened to him until he said one word, and what was that word in Acts 22:22? Gentile! When he said Gentile, they just erupted into a mob. They threw dust into the air, and said, "Away with such a fellow from the earth: for it is not fit that he should live."
Well, you see Saul of Tarsus' mentality was the same. They could see nothing good in those pagan Gentiles, but now the Lord says to him, "I’m going to send you far hence to those Gentiles." Well, can you imagine how that struck into the heart of that good Pharisee Jew, Saul of Tarsus? But this is what the Lord had commanded, and after that experience he had on the road to Damascus, Saul had no argument with that command. But here in Acts chapter 9, this is what I wanted you to see, that for the first time in the Scriptures, here in the New Testament we’ve got God showing openly that He’s going to now turn to the Gentiles, and remember that was unheard of. My, the Jew had no concept of going to the Gentile world.
For example, turn with me to chapter 8 and I’ll show you what I mean. Many people can’t believe this. They think Jesus ministered to Gentiles, but no He did not! The Scriptures only record that He did that twice. And the Twelve didn’t have a ministry to the Gentiles either. You remember the verse we read in Matthew chapter 10 in the last program, when the Lord commanded them, "Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans, enter ye not:" So the Twelve disciples also had nothing to do with Gentiles.
But you see mankind today seems to think that just as soon as you get into the New Testament, God is dealing with Jew and Gentile, and nothing could be farther from the truth. God’s been dealing with only the Nation of Israel, based on those Old Testament covenants, with those two exceptions, and if you think the Twelve disciples ran out preaching the Gospel to the whole world, then I’m afraid you don’t know your Bible. The Twelve stuck in Jerusalem, and here’s the proof of it in Acts chapter 8 and verse 1. This is probably 7 or 8 years after Pentecost. I don’t claim that I’m right, but that’s when I think the setting for these verses is.
"And Saul was consenting unto his (Stephen’s) death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church (assembly) which was at Jerusalem: (under the persecution of Saul) and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles."
See, the apostles don’t flee. Now their life is in danger, but they’re not about to leave Jerusalem. Why? Because Israel is at the hub of the matter, Israel has to be converted, and they’re not about to go out into the Gentile world. Now let me give you another one to prove my point, so turn to Acts chapter 11 verse 19. Years and years ago this is the verse that opened my eyes and made me begin studying. And this just says it in plain English, and there’s no way of twisting it or lifting it out of context, as it says what it means and it means what it says.
"Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen traveled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word (now you’ve got to stop for a moment. How much Word was in print at that time? Just the Old Testament. So they went everywhere preaching the Old Testament) to none but unto the Jews only."
Now just look at that. Underline it, highlight it. They went everywhere in that then-known vicinity on the eastern end of the Mediterranean, North Africa, and up into what is now Turkey, and they were definitely preaching the Old Testament, the record of how that Christ had come, and that He had been crucified, but they preached to none but Jews. Isn’t that funny that people can’t see that? They weren’t about to go to Gentiles, but always remember, a Sovereign God is still in control. So you get down into the very following verses, and my goodness, now what happens? Gentiles are getting interested in Salvation, by God’s Sovereign Grace of course. But when the news got back to Jerusalem that Gentiles were getting involved, what do you think the Jerusalem leadership thought? Uh Oh! There’s something wrong here!
I always like to use the analogy here of something I read several years ago about one of our major denominations who was headquartered here in the Midwest, heard of gross heresies being taught in one of their churches down in one of the southern states. Well, what do you suppose the hierarchy up here in the Midwest did? They sent people down there pronto to check it out. Are those people really teaching that kind of heresy in one our churches? Well now that’s just natural to do that, and that’s exactly what the Jerusalem leadership did. Gentiles getting interested? Hey, there’s something wrong with that. We’re not supposed to be going to Gentiles, and so look what happens in verse 22.
"Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church (assembly) which was in Jerusalem: (over which Peter and the eleven were in charge) and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch."
Well, for what purpose? To check this rumor out, that these Gentiles were getting interested in the things of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and that’s basically what the Scriptures are saying here. Now read on in verse 23, but before we do, isn’t it amazing how God always gets the right man, at the right place, at the right time? I maintain, had any of that Jerusalem leadership except Barnabas gone up to Antioch, they would have squashed it right then and there. But you see Barnabas was the right man, in fact he was the perfect right man for that particular time, and verse 23 says it all.
"Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, (how that God in His goodness was reaching down to these pagans.) was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord. 24. For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord. (they’re being saved, Gentiles as well as a sprinkling of Jews. And as soon as Barnabas sees what’s going on, again, Sovereignly, by God’s direct leadership, what does Barnabas do?) 25. Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul:"
Isn’t that amazing? Now if you think I’m stretching the point, come back over into chapter 11 verse 1. And this portion of Scriptures follows Peter going up to the house of Cornelius in chapter 10. And remember Peter wasn’t too hot on that idea either, but the Lord forced him to do it. But when Peter saw the evidence of these Gentiles at Cornelius’ house being saved, my, Peter was awestruck. He and the men that were with him were astonished, because they had never seen anything like this before. But now come down to chapter 11 and verse 1 and see what happened when they got back to Jerusalem and shared this with the believers.
"And the apostles, and brethren that were in Judaea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God. 2. And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision (the Jerusalem believing assembly) contended with him,"
Hey they didn’t slap him on the back and say, "Hey Peter, great Job. My isn’t it great how God is using us Jews to go to the Gentiles." NO! But quite the opposite, they contended with him.
"Saying, Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and (horrors of horrors, what did they do?) didst eat with them."
The Jerusalem leadership just was baffled. "Peter, you of all people, how could you do that?" Well, then Peter had to rehearse how God had worked both ends to the middle, worked with Cornelius, and worked with him, and brought the two together so that Peter could proclaim Salvation to that Gentile house. Now all this to show then, that when Saul of Tarsus was commissioned in chapter 9 to go to the Gentile world - that, hey, this had never been known before. This is something totally, totally different.
Now, as a result of him being commissioned by the words and deeds of Ananias, let’s look at Paul’s own words and own account of it in the Book of Galatians chapter 1. Now remember, I’m just trying to reconstruct this great Salvation that began with the Lord Himself. It began way back when the Lord made the promised Seed of the woman back in Genesis 3:15. Then gave the promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, that through the Nation of Israel would come a Redeemer. But Israel rejected all of that, and God then turns to the Gentiles through this man, and now he gives the account of it here in Galatians.
"But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. 12. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but (where did Paul get this Gospel that saves us today? We know he didn’t get it from the Twelve, or any of the Old Testament writings, but rather) by the revelation of Jesus Christ."
Now when you read Scripture you’ve got to keep everything in perspective. Where is Christ at this time of the revelation? Well, He’s in glory! And so from that ascended position in glory He reveals to this apostle these revelations. Now, maybe at some point in time Paul had a face-to-face confrontation. I’m not saying that he did or didn’t, but he had the revelation from the ascended Lord. Now verse 13, Paul writes:
"For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, (he was a Pharisee of the Pharisees remember) how that beyond measure I persecuted the church (or that assembly) of God, and wasted it: 14. And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers. 15. But when it pleased God,…" Do you see what that says? God is Sovereign! God is in control of every minute detail, and at the exact right time. Not only was Christ born of a woman, as we see in chapter 4 of Galatians.
"But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman,…" But Paul says the same thing was part and parcel of his birth at just the right time, he was born into that Jewish family in Tarsus so that he was ready to be the apostle of the Gentiles at the exact right moment in human history. But you know what? You are the same way. You were born according to God’s Sovereign timetable. You’re not an accident. Every one of us is in that intrinsic working of a Sovereign God. Now come on down to verse 16. Why did He commission this man, this good Jew?
"To reveal his Son (the One we’ve been emphasizing in Hebrews) in me (and for what purpose?) that I might preach him among the heathen; and immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: 17. Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; (Paul went in the opposite direction) but I went into Arabia,…"
He probably went to Mount Sinai, and then after the 3 years of revelation of these things of the Gospel of the Grace of God, then this apostle is ready to go to the pagan Gentile world. Now in the couple of minutes we have left, let’s go back to Hebrews. We’ve got to keep checking with home base.
"How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us (Paul is including himself) by them that heard him:" Now let’s come back to I Corinthians chapter 15, and I think these verses just tie it all together, and we’ll start at verse 1.
I Corinthians 15:1-8
"Moreover brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2. By which also ye are saved, (saved and Salvation are synonymous) if ye keep in memory, what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. 3. For I delivered unto you first of all (they had never heard this Gospel before) that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4. And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures; (now resurrection was a tough item for a lot of people to believe, so here comes the proof of the resurrection) 5. And that he was seen of Cephas, (Peter) then of the Twelve: 6. After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep, (died) 7. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. 8. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time." (or one born before his time)
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