Full Assurance of Hope

Hebrews Chapter Six

Hebrews 6_19

Chapter six picks up where chapter five leaves off about elementary vs. mature doctrines.  As we talked about yesterday, the doctrine of Christ is supposed to be an elementary doctrine to go along with repentance, faith, washings, laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.  Some of these the Church of God is better trained than others.  However, the author of Hebrews viewed these all as elementary.  I am going to assume that most of you who are disciplined enough to do devotions every day are ready to go on to the more mature doctrines.

Speaking of more mature doctrines and teachings, verses four through six are quite interesting.  It states that “it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them to repentance.”  What this seems to be saying is that it is impossible to be saved, then fall away, and then be saved again.  I’m not sure exactly what I think about this, and I won’t pretend to have all the answers.  However, it is interesting nonetheless and could be looked at by all.

On Sunday when we introduced the book of Hebrews, I mentioned that one of the main purposes of Hebrews was to encourage the Jewish Christians.  These Jewish Christians were going through some tough times, and they presumably doubted their faith at times.  The rest of chapter six serves as encouragement for them and to reassure them.  Verse eleven encourages them “to have the full assurance of hope until the end.”  We aren’t to be pretty sure of what is to come in the age to come, but we are to have a FULL assurance of hope.  We are to be confident in the faith that we have.  It’s through this bold and confident faith that we can be imitators of those who inherit the promise of the Kingdom.  We can be sure of the promises set before us because “it is impossible for God to lie,” (Heb 6:18).  We can be encouraged by this.  God has promised us the Kingdom, and he is a promise keeper.  We just have to accept the free gift.

There has been a lot of content in the first six chapters of Hebrews. The author of Hebrews has provided a lot of reason for the Jewish Christians to be encouraged.  They, along with us, can be sure of the hope that we have.  God has promised us many great things, and he is a faithful God.  We have been granted a free gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  There has been a lot of talk on Jesus in the first six chapters.  We have seen Jesus being glorified repeatedly in the first six chapters.  He is our high priest.  Many times Church of God people can fail to give Jesus the credit that he deserves because they are too worried with trying to distinguish him from God.  Jesus is deserving of glory, and when he is glorified, God is glorified in him.  With that said though, many people in the Christian world give Jesus too much glory by making him equal with God.  Although Hebrews does a great job of giving Jesus the credit he is due, the author also does a great job distinguishing between God and Jesus.  There is a happy balance between giving Jesus glory and distinguishing him from God.  Overall I hope you have thoroughly enjoyed reading through the first six chapters of Hebrews.  It doesn’t slow down at all in the last half of the book.  I strongly encourage you to continue along with the reading of the devotions, as Sarah Blanchard will do a wonderful job dissecting the second half of the book.  I hope you all had a great week!

In Christian love,

Kyle McClain

 

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At the Majesty’s Right Hand

Hebrews 1 3

Hebrews Chapter One

Hello all! Today we will be covering the first chapter of Hebrews.  For those of you who suffer from short-term memory loss or haven’t read the post yesterday, one of the main purposes of Hebrews was to reassure the Jewish Christians that Jesus is necessary.  We see this purpose played out in chapter one, as the author describes the importance and glory of Jesus in chapter one.

To start off the book and chapter, the author compares Jesus to the prophets of the Old Testament.  The Jews loved and adored the prophets of the Old Testament, and they viewed their words very sacredly.  Therefore, it makes total sense that the author would begin by comparing Jesus to the same prophets that the Jews love.  Not only does he compare Jesus to the prophets, but he raises Jesus above the prophets by saying he was “appointed the heir of all things.”  The prophets are crucial to both us and the Jews, but Jesus is even more important.  Jesus is described as being the “radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature.”  That’s some pretty high praise.  This should begin to reassure the Jewish Christians of the importance and necessity of Jesus Christ.

The author doesn’t only compare and raise Jesus above the prophets, but he does it to the angels as well.  In verse 5, the author rhetorically asks “For to which of the angels did God ever say, ‘You are my Son, today I have begotten you’?”  The answer to that question is none of them.  No angel is God’s son.  This verse is detrimental to the Jehovah’s Witnesses because they hold the belief that Jesus is the archangel Michael.  We know though that Jesus is the Son of God.  Therefore, sorry Jehovah’s Witnesses, but no angel, including the archangel Michael, is God’s son.

We continue along in the chapter, and verse eight reads, “But of the Son he says, ‘Your throne, O God, is forever and ever.”  Hold up.  Wait a minute.  Put a little SAY WHAT?!  The Church of God is so strong on the doctrine that God is one, and Jesus is the Son of God, not God the Son.  Do we have it wrong though?  Upon first look, it appears Jesus is God.  Let’s take a deeper look at this then.

First off first, this is quoted from Psalm 45.  Psalm 45 is about a king, not God.  This isn’t trying to dictate any sign of deity, rather a sign of authority.  For surely the Psalm writer of Psalm 45 wasn’t trying to give the king any form of deity.  Furthermore, verse nine states, “therefore God, your God, has anointed you.”  First, God doesn’t need anointed.  If Jesus were God, then he wouldn’t need to be anointed.  Second, the king in Psalm 45 that has the word “God” ascribed to him has a God.  God can’t have a God.  There is no higher being than God.  Jesus can’t be God and have a God.  Therefore, we can read verses eight and nine, as attributing authority to Jesus, not Jesus actually being God.

Another tidbit to point out, the ESV uses the phrase, “But of the Son he says,” in verse eight.  However, a more accurate interpretation of the Greek reads, “with respect to the Son.”  This is important in verses 10-12, as those verses aren’t talking about Jesus.  It is in respect to the Son, Jesus.  Verses 10-12 talk about the magnificence of YHWH.  The author of Hebrews does this because in verse thirteen, he quotes Psalm 110:1 (the most quoted Old Testament scripture in the New Testament).  By glorifying God in verses 10-12, the author is also glorifying Jesus because Jesus has the sole privilege of sitting at God’s right hand.  Jesus is sitting at the right hand of the Creator of the heavens and the earth!  That’s a huge privilege to have, and that privilege is held by Jesus and Jesus alone.

The final verse of Hebrews chapter one is quite possibly my favorite.  It reads, “Are they (the angels) not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?”  The angels are sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation.  Uh, hello!  That’s us!  We are the ones who are to inherit salvation.  The angels are sent out to minister to you!  Isn’t that awesome?!

The author of Hebrews reassured the Jewish Christians of the importance of Jesus.  The author also encouraged them by stating the angels are sent to minister to them!  Again, I hope this passage can impact you in the same manner that it would have for the Jewish Christians, “for the word of God is living and active,” (Just a teaser for Thursday’s reading).

I hope you all had a grand Sunday and have a great Monday!

In Christian love,

Kyle McClain

Fun fact of the day: the first four verses of Hebrews is one long sentence in Greek.  Wow!

 

To Encourage Your Faith

Introduction to Hebrews

Hebrews 1 5b

This next week I, Kyle McClain, will be accompanying  you in reading the first six chapters of Hebrews, and the beloved Sarah Blanchard will close out the book of Hebrews the following week.  I am currently attending the Atlanta Bible College, and I will be graduating with my bachelor’s degree in pastoral ministry this semester.  I hope you enjoy this week’s study of Hebrews, and I hope it positively impacts your life.

The book of Hebrews is found in the non-Pauline epistles section (Hebrews-Jude).  Many consider the book of Hebrews to be an epistle/letter.  However, it lacks all the normal marks of a New Testament letter.  If you look at the other letters/epistles from the New Testament, they identify the author and recipients, contain a formal greeting, and offer a prayer or thanksgiving.  However, Hebrews does not include any of these.  It could better be termed as an exhortation or sermon than a letter.  You can perceive Hebrews as one big sermon series; the chapters all flow together as one.  It is a stream of consciousness; it’s one flowing word of encouragement.

There are many discussions and debates as to who the author of Hebrews is.  There’s a plethora of different theories of who it could be: Paul, Apollos, Priscilla, a random follower of Paul, etc., and there’s a reason for that.  It’s because there is no clear indication in the book or church history as to who the author of Hebrews is.  It is ok not to know who wrote the book of Hebrews.  What’s important is that whatever was written was inspired by YHWH.  With that said, we do know that the author was Jewish, very well schooled in the Old Testament and Jewish philosophy, and knew Timothy.  There also seems to be a specific audience that the author wrote this for.  The audience is a group of wavering Jewish Christians.  These Jewish Christians were not confident in their faith and at times doubted the need for Christ.

Now let’s take a minute and step in the shoes of these Jewish Christians.  Ever since the time of Abraham, the Jews were looking forward for their Messiah.  For 2,000 years many came and professed to be the Messiah, but they all died and their followers soon died thereafter.  Then after 2,000 years of waiting another man by the name of “Jesus” claims to be the Messiah.  His story was different, as we all know, from the other false messiahs.  Hindsight, it is very clear to us that Jesus is the Messiah.  However, it was a very hotly debated topic back then as to if Jesus was the true Messiah.  It was not a popular belief among the Jewish population to believe Jesus was the true Messiah.  However, those Jews who did were scrutinized from their Jewish families, friends, and community.  All the people that these Jewish Christians knew, loved, and cared for despised and judged them.  Their lives were turned upside down.

It’s easy to point our fingers at these Jewish Christians and discredit them for their lack of faith in Jesus at times, but they were truly going through a lot.  The writer of Hebrews had a select group of Jewish Christians in mind who were wavering, and the author wrote Hebrews to encourage them and reassure them of the need for Jesus.  I hope that as we go along through the book of Hebrews that you too may be encouraged and reassured of the need for Jesus.

In Christian Love,

Kyle McClain