Saturday, 27 March 2010

The book of Hebrews, on the church and the kingdom of God

March 26, 2010

I tend to think that the book of Hebrews is a pretty tough one to understand, compared to some of the other epistles; at least, I do find I have to read it slowly and carefully. But it certainly is clear about what the church, the new covenant, the kingdom of heaven is about. Some highlights, for example:

- God speaks to us – those of the new covenant – in His Son. Jesus represents our Father and is, in fact, the exact representation of Father’s nature (1:1-3)
- Jesus calls those who are sanctified (made holy) by His blood, “brethren” – we are family (2:11)
- Jesus is our faithful high priest – the only one we need (2:17)
- We are to encourage each other daily (3:13)
- The word of God – Jesus! – is living, active, able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart (4:12) (I was always taught that this verse refers to the Scriptures: but the context is about Jesus Himself!)
- Because Jesus has been tempted like us (but without sin), we can confidently draw near to the throne to receive grace and find mercy (4:16) (We don’t need go-betweens…) (Jesus Himself intercedes for us 7:25) (s/a 10:19-22)
- We are to grow and mature, not just sit around and learn the basics over and over again (5:14, 6:1)
- We show love to God’s name by our works, by ministering to the saints (6:10) (not just by our words)
- Jesus life is indestructible (7:16) (and so, therefore, is the life He gives us)
- The Law was set aside as weak and useless, and a better hope brought in – Jesus – through which we draw near to God (7:18) (The old system was only a copy and shadow of the new covenant which we are under 8:4-5)
- Jesus’ sacrifice was once for all (7:27)
- The true sanctuary and tabernacle is that which the Lord pitched – not buildings built by men (8:2)
- In the new covenant: God’s law is put in our minds by Him and is written by Him on our hearts; He is our God and we are His people; we all know Him (personally) from the least to the greatest; God, in His mercy, will remember our sins no more! (8:10-12) (s/a 10:16-17)
- Jesus’ blood is able to cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God! (9:11) (There is clearly a difference between works of the Law and the good works, service, ministry we do as members of Christ’s body) (s/a 10:23)
- Jesus will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin (isn’t that amazing?) to those who eagerly await Him (9:27-28)
- We are called to strive against sin (12:4, s/a 10:29), to accept God’s discipline which trains us and results in righteousness in us, to respect and be subject to our Father, to pursue peace and holiness, to avoid bitterness (12:4-17)
- We are part of God’s kingdom, the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God (12:22), and thereby are “the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven” (12:23)
- Show gratitude to God with reverence and awe – our acceptable service (12:28)
- As members of God’s kingdom, we are called to: love the brethren continuously; show hospitality to strangers; remember those who are persecuted; hold marriage in honor and undefilement; keep free from the love of money and be content with what we have; don’t fear man; imitate the faith of those who led you to Jesus; don’t be carried away by strange teachings; share Jesus’ suffering and reproach; continually offer a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving; do good and share; obey your leaders, submit to them, pray for them (13:1-18)
- Remember: Jesus is the risen great Shepherd of the sheep (13:20)
- God equips you in every good thing to do His will (13:20)

Isn’t that awesome? Does it sound like “church” and “the kingdom of God” as you have known it? Why not go right now and read the whole book? And then ask God’s Spirit to help you to truly be a member of the church of Jesus, of His body, His kingdom!

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