The Church of Christ is Holy – Part 2

The Church of Christ is Holy – Part 2


– All right, here we are. Hebrews: The Glorious Jesus. This is lesson number 14,
the last one in the series. Title of this particular lesson: The Glory of the Church of Christ and The Church of Christ is Holy Part Two. And we’ll be covering chapter number 13 in the book of Hebrews. So let’s do one final review, shall we? After showing how Jesus
glorifies His church through His life and death
and resurrection and ascension to the right hand of God, the author goes on to
encourage his readers on how the church of the
glorious Jesus glorifies Him. So Jesus glorifies His
church with His life, death, resurrection, His ministry. The church glorifies Jesus,
he says, in the following way. They glorify Jesus by remaining faithful despite the many trials that
they face as Christians, and also by living holy
lives in this world. Now this holy lifestyle is
what we talked about last. This holy lifestyle, the
author began to describe in more practical terms
in chapter number 12. And this holy lifestyle,
according to the author, required the church to do the following. First of all, encourage those among them who were weak, weak in
faith, weak in spirit for one reason or another. This holy lifestyle also
required them to avoid conflict and immorality and a bad example that would lead to the loss of faith, especially for another person. And then this holy lifestyle would also see them become grateful
for the secure position that they had as Christians, especially Christians who will survive the destruction of the
world that will occur when Jesus returns. The author said in our last lesson that when Jesus returns, He’s
going to shake the world in a sense that nothing that He has not established will survive. Well, the thing that He’s
established, of course, is the church. So the author ends his
last chapter by reminding his readers that God has always punished those who disobeyed Him, and so they, even though
they are in Christ, should be careful to heed his warning, meaning heed the writer
of this epistle’s warning. So in the last chapter
now that we enter into chapter 13, this last
chapter the author continues to list the things that
witness a holy church, to the previous exhortation,
to encourage others, to avoid conflict and
immoralities and bad examples, and also to be grateful, he adds the following exhortations. So a holy church he
says loves the brethren. Loves the brethren. So let’s read chapter
13, verses one to three. He says, let love of
the brethren continue. Do not neglect to show
hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained
angels without knowing it. Remember the prisoners, as
though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated,
since you yourselves also are in the body. So not that it should
begin, but that this love of the brethren, he
says it should continue to be a common feature of their lifestyle. Hospitality is one way to show
this love of the brethren, from the Greek word xenosphilious, meaning the love of strangers, the love of other
Christians even though they may be strangers to you. In the first century, you know, many, many Christians traveled. The idea of a located preacher, you know, a preacher
stayed just with one church was not yet developed at that time, so you had traveling Bible
teachers, traveling preachers. And hosting them in your
home was an important part not only of hospitality,
but also an important part of evangelism and teaching of the church. Some people could host these teachers while they did their work in the church. And he talks about the many
benefits from hospitality. Mentions Abraham
entertaining angels unawares. Hospitality, not just having
somebody in your house, not just that limited idea of hospitality, but hospitality is kindness to others that you’re not necessarily familiar with, people who are not known to you. For example, those who suffer. An individual will do
something, do something wrong, make a mistake, make a poor choice, give in to temptation, and
they are caught for their crime and they go to jail. Well, you know what? They’re still human beings. They’re still individuals
who have families and feelings and hopes and dreams and so on and so forth. And now their life has
been kind of redirected, if you wish, and they’re sitting in jail for six months, two years, whatever it is, as they say pay their debt to society. Hospitality doesn’t
necessarily mean having them in your home, but
certainly reaching out to them. That’s what prison ministry is all about, loving those that we do not know, especially those who are
in difficult situation, because they’re suffering
just like human beings suffer, because they are human beings. So this is within Christian context, how we should treat
others within the church. He goes on to say a holy lifestyle also includes sexual purity, verse four. He says marriage is to be
held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and
adulterers God will judge. So here we have a kind
of a general exhortation to marital fidelity and sexual purity for those who are, see
themselves as single, who find themselves as single people. Author’s saying that
God honors the intimacy enjoyed within marriage. We should honor, you know, marriage is to be honored among all. There was a movement at that time seeking to establish the idea that perhaps if you didn’t marry, you were better, holier than others. But the author’s saying marriage, marriage is a holy thing and it should be honored by everyone. It shouldn’t be disparaged. It’s not a second choice type thing. It’s a godly thing. God designed that for men
and we should honor it. And of course there’s the warning. Yes, as much as we are allowed freedom in our intimacy and our sexual
intimacy within marriage to the degree that we are free to express that within our marriage, we are limited if we’re not married. We need to practice sexual purity. And the author is saying here
holiness among Christians requires that everyone honor marriage, especially those who are within marriage. And those who are not married, they know how to control themselves, because God will punish sexual impurity. Holiness, he continues, also is seen and practiced in contentment. Contentment of character. This is a holy thing. We read in verse five. He says make sure that
your character is free from the love of money, being
content with what you have; for He Himself has said,
“I will never desert you, “nor will I forsake you,” so that we confidently say, “the Lord is my helper,
I will not be afraid. “What will man do to me?” Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the
result of their conduct, imitate their faith. And so he establishes
the goal and attitude for a Christian in relationship to wealth. We should be free from the love of money, not free from wealth. Free from the inordinate love and desire for wealth or money. Love of money causes a person to function always in relationship
to the acquiring of money or to the acquiring of things. Anything that comes up in life for someone who loves money always
has the calculation, how much will this cost me and do I want to spend that? People like this are always afraid that they won’t have enough, that if they don’t acquire money, they’ll be destitute. It’s often said people who
grew up very, very poor, they have this attitude about money. Money becomes very important to them and they use this as an excuse for their mistake in attitude about money. The way to correct this, of course, is through faith. And so the author encourages them to seek to be content or satisfied. Word means to be filled up. To be unafraid. He says don’t be afraid. Learn to be content. Learn to be satisfied with what you have. It doesn’t mean you can’t
change what you have, but while you have it, you need to learn to be
content with what you have. The author encourages
them to seek to be content or satisfied, filled up, unafraid with what they presently have. Satisfaction, you know, it’s not based on the amount of what we have, but rather on the assurance
that God gives to His people. And what is that assurance? Well, that He will never abandon His own, and that He will always be there to help and defend His people. He’ll provide for them. He is, as Brother Dayton says, He is sufficient for all matters and all situations. And so satisfaction, you know, again not based on what you have, but based on what God has promised us. That’s how we find
contentment and satisfaction. So their confidence that they will have all that they need should be based on God’s promise to care for them and not on their ability to acquire money. Again, the ability to acquire and make and multiply money, that’s
a gift, that’s a skill. The writer is saying
don’t depend on that skill to cultivate the virtue of contentment in your heart. Contentment in your heart, satisfaction in your heart, God does this for you
based on the promises that He’s made and the
strength of your faith in those promises. Then he switches gears, beginning in verse seven to 16, and he does a warning, he makes a warning
against strange doctrines. So a holy church will keep faithfully the teachings of Christ. Holy church will love the brethren and so on and so forth. Hospitality, love, not too
much of the love of money, and a holy church will
also keep faithfully the teachings of Christ. So this passage that
we’re going to read now is like a sandwich. The top layer exhorts
the people in the church to heed past teachers. The middle layer refers to the various doctrinal issues that they
face at the present time. And then the bottom layer
exhorts them to heed their present teachers. So like a sandwich. Pay attention to the past teachers, focus on what you need to be focusing on and all the teachings
that you’re receiving at the moment, and then pay attention to your current teachers. So let’s kind of break that down. So he says remember those
who taught you in the past, who taught you the faith. In verse seven he says
remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the
result of their conduct, imitate their faith. So first layer, teachers
who used to teach them. They need to remember
their original teachers and the teachings that
brought them to Christ in the first place. These people were obviously gone now, but these brethren are
encouraged to imitate the faithful lifestyle,
their faithful lifestyle, in order to gain their similar end which was finishing life as a faithful disciple of Christ. Their former teachers, they were faithful. They lived holy lives, right? They taught them what
they needed to do and say and think and learn. And so the author is saying consider these teachers and imitate them. And if you imitate them, you’re
going to end up like them. And how did they end up? Well, they finished their
lives as faithful Christians, and that’s what we’re trying to do. That’s what he was encouraging them to do. Okay, so then he says, okay
now, we’re going to look at the middle layer. Consider their teaching, he says, versus the false doctrine
which is swirling around you at the moment. So verse eight. He says Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. So he establishes that the
first thing they were taught, the glory and the supremacy of Christ, this first thing that they were taught is as true now as it was then and will always be true, that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. That was true when we taught
you long ago, he says. It’s true now and it’ll
be true in the future. Circumstances change. Doctrines, different
doctrines come and go, but Jesus, he says, always remains. So the author has reviewed how Jesus and His ministry was
superior to every concept and every aspect, if you
wish, of the Jewish religion. That’s what this whole epistle is about. Now he makes one final
argument showing how Christian worship of God, offered by disciples of Jesus, is superior to that offered by the people still trying to worship
God through Judaism. So he kind of reaches
back to what he’s been doing in the past, showing how Jesus is
superior to the angels, to Moses, to the sacrificial system, to the priest, to the, you know, Jesus is superior to all these things. He’s been demonstrating
that for 12 chapters. And he takes one more shot at it. One more time he’s going
to get across this idea, the superiority, the glory of Jesus. And this time he says that Jesus is greater than the worship, if you wish. Worship of Jesus is
greater that the worship that was being offered in the temple. Now one accusation against
the Christian religion at the time, and their worship, was that there was no sacrifice. There was no way for the
individual to participate in the offering of
something tangible to God, because in the Old Testament system there were animals, there was flour, and there was oil, and
there were offerings of thousands of animals. That offering and the
worshiper came and because of the priest, the
intermediation of the priest, that person was part of that sacrifice, they were doing something. And so the accusation is well, you people, you sit
around and pray and sing, but you don’t have that
central thing in your worship. So the author is going
to argue that Christians do have a sacrifice and
they do have a worship very much acceptable to God. So now we can read verse 9a. He says do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings. So he begins with a
general warning not to be swept away by false teaching, and he refers to the many false teachings that centered on food at that time. Some doctrines restricted certain foods and other doctrines held up consumption as some kind of worship. The idea was that all
doctrines concerning food proposed the notion
that the abstinence from or the indulging in food in some way made you more or less
acceptable and pleasing to God. If you ate this type
of food you were not as acceptable to God as if
you restricted yourself from eating that food. But on the other hand, these other foods, if you ate those foods,
well, oh yeah, there, you were pleasing to God. So food was an important
element, if you wish, in the Jewish religion
and certainly in some of the other religions that
existed at the time. So the idea was that all
doctrines concerning food proposed the notion
that the abstinence from or the indulging in food in some way, as I said, made you more
or less acceptable to God. So the author reminds
them that food’s purpose is to strengthen the
body, not to strengthen the heart or the soul of man. To strengthen the soul, one
needed the grace of God, not food laws. And Paul talks about that in Romans 14:17, 1 Corinthians 8:8. We’re not going to go
there ’cause I want us to stay focused on this passage here. So let’s read the next verse. So do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings; for it is good for the heart
to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, through which
those who were so occupied were not benefited. So there’s a bridge here
to his main thought. There were many, he says,
who were overly concerned about food issues, and
it didn’t benefit them. Now he’s going to mention
specific ones to whom food was very important, and that was of course
the Jews at that time. The specific food he targets is the meat of the sacrifice offered by
and eaten by the priests. The very temple of the
sacrifice that Christians were accused of not having, and thus pursuing a
worship that had no real, no real substance. And so the author is answering a rhetorical question. Some people might say or
some people are saying, well, your worship is not
really a legitimate worship because there’s no sacrifice, which was the central element
of the Jewish worship. And the author is saying, no, no, no. Christian worship is
superior to Jewish worship because we have a sacrifice, and he goes on to explain
the type of sacrifice being offered in Christian worship. So let’s read verse 10. He says we have an altar
from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat. So the author here claims that Christians, they have an altar or a sacrifice. He uses the word altar as a representative for the entire process of
the sacrificial offering that the Jews were active in at the time. A substitute word, we
do that too in English. We use the word business, for example, for all that goes on in the selling and the repairing of televisions. So we’ll say to the guy,
well, how’s business? Right? And what do we mean by business? Well, we mean everything that’s going on. The repair work, the
selling, the delivery, the store, the profit, the
customers, all that stuff. We’re saying how’s business? It’s a device we use. It’s called metonymy, where we use one word to replace another or one word to represent
a group of things. And so the author is
saying we have an altar. That altar there is
representing everything that the Jews do in
their sacrificial system. And he’s saying, well, we
have a sacrificial system, we have an altar as well. Interesting, he also
claims that Christians share a sacrifice that the priests have no right even to share. At least in the Jewish sacrifice, the people could share in it. He’s saying, you know what? In the Christian sacrifice, even the priests in the Jewish religion, they have no right to share in it. And it’s interesting
to note that he refers to them, the priests, as the servants of the tent, the tent or the tabernacle, the service of the tabernacle, and not the servants of God. Since God is no longer
in the earthly temple, they now only serve the
building and not God. Yes, there was a time when God said my presence is there. That’s how you know I’m among you. But God is no longer there. The curtain is torn in two. People can go in. God is in Heaven. Jesus has gone to Heaven to make the sacrifice in order
to atone for our sins. And so he’s saying, you people, yeah, you have a system of offering and you’re serving the temple, but that’s all you’re serving. You’re just going through
the motions in the temple, but God isn’t there. God is in Heaven. And we serve the altar of
the God who is in Heaven. So let’s go to verse 11. He says for the bodies of
those animals whose blood is brought into the holy
place by the high priest as an offering for sin, are
burned outside the camp. So here he refers to the
practice of the high priests on the day of atonement who
would for only this time, they would not eat any
part of the sacrifice. The law said that they had to, they had to eat part of
the sacrifice, right? But this time, the day of atonement, they didn’t eat any part of the sacrifice, but rather they would
take the entire sacrifice outside the camp and
totally destroy it by fire. It was to be wholly
offered to God in this way. And then the ashes from that
would be mixed with water and would be used in purification rights with the people when they became unclean, ceremoniously unclean
for a variety of reasons. So these animals were sacrificed, and by totally removing
them from the camp, the significance was that
the sins which they bore were also removed from the camp. So that’s the idea that he’s beginning to allude to in verse 11. So stay with me here, verse 12. He says therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the
people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate. So he makes a parallel
with Jesus’ sacrifice, saying that this practice
in the Old Testament, a whole sacrifice burned outside the camp, transferring the sins and taking them outside
the camp onto the animal, he says this thing here is typified, is the type for Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice. He suffered and He died outside the camp, outside the city, since Calvary was outside the city of Jerusalem. And His blood and His sacrifice purified the people from sin. Verse 13 and 14. So, he says, summarizing, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the
city which is to come. So just as the people went to the priests to be purified by the ashes
of the sacrifice of atonement, he says, let us Christians, let us go to Jesus for our purification. He is our sacrifice. He is our altar. And… because of their disbelief, the priests had no right to share in this. That’s the point he’s making. We have an altar, we have a sacrifice, Jesus, our sacrifice. But we have access to that
sacrifice through faith. Remember, this whole
passage here is about, this whole book is about
remaining faithful. So he’s saying if you’re
remaining faithful, you have access to the true sacrifice. And he says the priests,
they don’t believe. So they may be offering
sacrifice in a building that is devoid of the
presence of the Lord, but they don’t have access to this. They may have access to that sacrifice, but they don’t have
access to this sacrifice. He is our sacrifice, our altar. And the others have no
right to share in it. But going out to Jesus meant two things. One, you needed to go outside of the camp, and the symbolism here for
those he was writing to is you need to go outside of the camp. What’s the camp? Well, the Jews, they’re the camp. The Jewish religion, that’s the camp. You need to go outside the camp now if you’re looking for purification. And secondly, you need to be ready to bear the reproach for being counted with Jesus. Remember, he’s writing to them because they’re suffering, right? Obstacles, they’re suffering persecution, because of their faith. So he keeps bringing those ideas back and saying, well, you know, you want to go back to Judaism. Don’t do that. You need to go outside the camp to find purification. And you need to be ready to suffer the obstacles and the trials of being faithful to Jesus. So going to Jesus outside the camp may bring a reproach, but the camp or the city or the sacrifice that the Jews were clinging to, it wasn’t going to last anyways. Leaving the camp or city was the only way to find the true camp, the eternal city of God. And we know from history, right? This is written several
years before 70 AD, but we know in 70 AD
the Romans come along, they destroy the city. There is no more temple, no more altar, no more priest, no more sacrifice. And so God knows this is coming, and through this writer He’s telling them, you know, don’t go back to that. That’s not going to last anyways. Verse 15 and 16. Through Him then, let
us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that
give thanks to His name. And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. So he finishes here by encouraging them to continue to worship
God with the worship that is indeed valid. Not the empty ritual of Judaism, but the very real exercise
of Christian worship. Praise to God with gratitude, doing of good works, sharing and encouraging
others to be faithful. And all of this done
in the name of Christ, all of this was true worship and superior to the worship that the Jews were
involved in at that time. He continues with his exhortations. He says you need to love the brethren, practice sexual purity, learn to be content with
what you have today, maintain sound doctrine, Jesus the Son of God, go outside the camp, and you need to obey your leaders. Verse 17. Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch
over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with
joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable to you. And so he’s encouraged them
to remember former teachers, warn them and expose the fallacy of some of the false doctrines that they face, and now he charges them
to obey present teachers and present leaders. Remember the sandwich I said? Former teachers, some
of the unsound doctrine they’re having to deal with now, present teachers. So now he’s talking to them
about their present teachers. The leaders that they had obviously had the same attitude and teachings that their original leaders had. They were faithful men, and so he exhorts the church to obey them, follow their instructions
and submit to them, acknowledge their leadership. In another class I said
submission is not slavery. Submission is something
you offer willingly, right? Why? Because of your faith in God, because of your desire to obey the Lord in this matter. He tells them why this
should be their attitude. First of all, because a leader’s job is to watch over souls,
not to be the boss. The shepherds are there
to watch over souls. They’re responsible for that. We need to cooperate. And then he says this
task should not be made more difficult than it already is by disobedient and rebellious members. Disobedient to the word, rebellious to the leadership. Don’t make it difficult on them. They have a hard job, he says. You need to cooperate with them. This type of response
would not profit them. There would be no growth and the Lord would punish them if they were not in submission, in obedience to the present leaders that they have. And so he finishes in the last verses with some closing remarks. Letters in the Greek period of that time followed a kind of a set pattern at the beginning and at the end. The final words of an author follow this style of writing. There’s a prayer and then final remarks followed by greetings from the author at the very end. So let’s look at how he ends up. He begins with the
prayer in verse 18 to 21. Prays for himself and offers a prayer for his readers. And so in verse 18 and 19 he says pray for us, for we are sure
that we have a good conscience, desiring to conduct ourselves
honorably in all things. And I urge you all the more to do this, so that I may be restored
to you the sooner. 18 and 19 verses read. So he makes a prayer
request at the beginning. He asks that they pray that
he be restored to them soon. His conscience is clear and he’s sure that what he has written is right. All he wants now is to be
with them again in person, perhaps to share these things personally, perhaps to answer their questions like a good teacher. He continues in verse 20 and 21. He says now the God of peace,
who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip
you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight,
through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen. And so here he prays on their behalf. He starts with, okay, here’s
what you can pray for me, and now here’s him praying for them. He prays that God will equip
them not with everything, but with everything
necessary to do His will. And they will know what God’s will is in that it ultimately glorifies Christ. If what you’re doing honors Christ, you’re doing the right thing. And he prays that God will give them what they need to glorify
Christ in their lives. You don’t need money to do that. You don’t need strength, you don’t need, what you need to glorify Christ is faith and knowledge and courage. And then he makes some final remarks, verses 22 and three. He says but I urge you, brethren, bear with this word of exhortation, for I have written to you briefly. Take notice that our brother
Timothy has been released, with whom, if he comes
soon, I will see you. So he makes two personal remarks here, the only personal remarks he makes. One, he refers to his
letter as an exhortation, and he hopes that they’ll
receive it kindly, even though there are some
pointed references in it. And there are, right? And then secondly he mentions
Timothy the evangelist with the hope of being
reunited with him, and soon. And he also mentions
Timothy’s imprisonment here, which is the only reference to that in the New Testament. And then of course the
greeting at the very end, 24 and 25. He says greet all of your
leaders and all the saints. Those from Italy greet you. Grace be with you all. And so he greets two separate groups. The leaders, the elders and the teachers, and the saints, the others in the church. And he mentions other brothers in Italy. Typical Christian ending, conferring a request of divine blessing on the readers. So the last section that we cover here, the last couple of chapters, the writer answers the question what does a faithful and holy church do to glorify its Lord? The beginning of the epistle tells us this is what a glorious Lord does to honor and glorify His church. This is who the glorious Jesus is and His glory gives glory to the church. And then he finishes up with, and this is what the church that belongs to Christ, this is how they glorify Christ. So a faithful and holy church glorifies its Lord how? Well, first it encourages
the weak brethren to carry on and not to fall back. A glorious church honors
Christ by avoiding conflict and immorality and bad example. A glorious church demonstrates love among the brethren, especially through the
action of hospitality. A glorious church honors its Lord by practicing sexual purity. A glorious church honors its Lord by relying on God and not
on money for security. A glorious church honors its Lord by not following strange
teachings and teachers, but rather submitting to its leaders who themselves submit
to Christ and His word. And a glorious church honors its Lord by continually honoring God and offering to God acceptable worship through prayers of
thanksgiving and good works in Jesus’ name. And so after such a
long and complex study, what can I say to you? I mean, what can I say as a final word of exhortation which you, the ones who
have followed this lesson, this series here in our auditorium, those who may have watched this online or perhaps later on on a recorded device, online on our website,
your DVDs or whatever, what can I say to you as
we finish this epistle? Well, I believe the Holy
Spirit says it best. Right in the last chapter
he says in verse eight, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. And so it was the Lord that saved them and the Lord that saved us, all of us. It was the Lord that held
them up through their trials and to whom they looked
for eternal salvation. And it is the Lord that we
look to for help in our trials. And it is the same Lord that we look to for our eternal salvation. And it was the same
Lord that you confessed and into whom you were baptized at the beginning of your Christian walk. The same one that you pray to now and to whom you will cry out for mercy when you lay on your deathbed. The relationship with God is the same back then as it is today. Technology and everything,
yes, has changed, but that one-on-one relationship with God, it’s still based on the same things, the same values. Faith and hope and holy living, and loving relationships. The very, very same thing. And so it was the Lord to whom the author encouraged them to be faithful, and in the same way through the teaching of this epistle, through modern technology
where we can do it online to all kinds of people, it is the glorious Jesus that I also want you to remain faithful to. And I want you to do that because He was faithful to you yesterday, He is faithful to you today, and He will be faithful
to you forever and ever into the future. And so I commend your spirits and I commend your souls to His love and His
faith and His promises. So thank you very much for your attention for this entire series, and I pray that God blesses you as you think about it and as
you share it with other people.

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