Let Brotherly Love Continue

Hebrews 13 speaks with specificity regarding moral conduct. Here are some key points:

* Let brotherly love continue, v1
* Do not forget to entertain strangers (by doing so, some have entertained angels), v2
* Remember those who have been mistreated, v3
* Marriage and the bed undefiled are honorable among all, v4
* Be content with what you have, v5
* Do not be carried about by various strange doctrines (let the heart be established in grace), v9
* Let us continually praise and thank God, v15
* Do not forget to do good and to share, v16

Let brotherly love continue. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing  some have unwittingly entertained angels. Remember the prisoners as if chained with them—those who are mistreated—since you yourselves are in the body also. Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge. Let  your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we may boldly say: “The Lord  is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct. Jesus Christ is  the same yesterday, today, and forever. Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines. For it  is good that the heart be established by grace, not with foods which have not profited those who have been occupied with them. We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat. For the bodies of those animals, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned outside the camp. Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come. Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you. Pray for us; for we are confident that we have a good conscience, in all things desiring to live honorably. But I especially urge you to do this, that I may be restored to you the sooner. Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
Hebrews 13:1-21 NKJV

Chastening of the Lord

The following passage refers to the joy (not happiness) that Jesus knew He would have once He endured the cross. He had a promise that He could look forward to receiving that helped Him endure the race of faith.

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us,and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:1-2

The following goes on to explain one of the best teachings I have ever heard on discipline from a father.

 If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paidthem respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed. Hebrews 12:3-12

Desire a Heavenly Country

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible. Hebrews 11 1-3 NKJV

It takes faith and humility to understand that we are the creation. The Creator spoke, and it was by His words (the unseen) that the worlds were made. That is difficult to comprehend when we build things from materials that are seen.

I believe that faith is believing and trusting in the word of God. We simply take Him at His words. What He says is truth – He does not lie. In order to do that, God must speak to us. He has given us the written word and He also speaks to us in His own way (visions, spoken word, by our senses, etc.).

Hebrews goes on to tell us the accounts in which others heard from God and acted in faith (or belief) in what God said.  Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, etc. There is an important verse burried within.

But without faith it  is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Hebrews 11 6 NKJV

Two things stood out to me. The first is that we must believe God lives. So, faith is required to please Him. The second is that it was not just belief in Him, it is also a belief that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. God is good and it is a blessing to diligently seek Him. I ask myself why then is it so hard to diligently pursue Him when it should be my joy. This is a great part of Hebrews to keep me anchored day-to-day.

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them. Hebrews 11 13-16 NKJV

I have often heard Christian material that we are aliens or strangers to this world. But, this verse puts it beautifully: we desire a better/heavenly country. God has a beautiful country awaiting, which is why we should look forward to being with Him in eternity.

Exhort One Another

I believe one of the primary reasons believers should get together is to exhort one another. Basically, we need accountability. The Holy Spirit testifies to us who God is. When believers are around each other, they can encourage each other, admonish one another, remind one another and advise one another.

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one  another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:23-25 NKJV

Once for All

Previously saying, “Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings, and offerings for sin You did not desire, nor had pleasure in  them ” (which are offered according to the law), then He said, “Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God.” He takes away the first that He may establish the second. By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for  all. Hebrews 10:8-10 NKJV

“Once for all.” I like the sound of that.  The offering of animals is no longer needed where there has been forgiveness of sins. The offering was a reminder to us of our sins. Although I am glad we no longer need to sacrifice animals, it is a greater responsibility to have accepted the Lord’s offering and Spirit.

Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the  testimony  of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. And again, “The Lord will judge His people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Hebrews 10:28-31 NKJV

We have a responsibility to honor what He has done and who He is.  The Holy Spirit continually testifies to us who the Lord is. Christ has blotted out our sin so that we may enter the Holiest. This is our continual sanctification.

But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; for after He had said before, “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord : I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,” then  He  adds,  “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” Now where there is remission of these, there  is no longer an offering for sin. Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Hebrews 10:15-22 NKJV

Amen.

The Testament and the Death of the Testator

Our lives are our own. They are like our property. God has given us life, our thoughts, our emotions, etc. We choose how to live each and every day. At the end of our life, we leave some kind of legacy. The decisions we made have been committed or dedicated. To whom? Certainly to the people around us – family, friends, etc. They are impacted by our choices made during life. However, our Creator is the ultimate being that our actions are committed to and judged by. Our lives are an offering before Him.

In Hebrews 9, we see words such as testament and testator. When we leave this life behind, we have the opportunity to express how we would like our earthly possessions dispersed in a will, or a testament. The testator is the person who owns the will and must die in order for the will to be carried out.

That is our earthly possessions. What about our choices made during life? Our sins, or transgressions against God’s divine laws, are recorded. Our life, our legacy, is offered up before the Lord. I have sinned and will sin again, most likely in ignorance, but it is still sin. How can I live with a clean conscience knowing that?

Hebrews 9 also says the following:

And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission. Hebrews 9:22 NKJV

For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water, scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people… Hebrews 9:19 NKJV

Under the first covenant, dedication was made with blood. “Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission.” Christ, the eternal being, cleansed us with His perfect blood. It is by His death that we can receive eternal inheritance upon our death. This is the new covenant. We can serve God with a clean conscience by accepting His covering and cleansing blood.

It was God’s will that we receive eternal inheritance. His will was set forth legally by the death of His son. I hope to live a life honorable to God with a conscience cleansed by His purifying blood.

And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives. Hebrews 9:15-17 NKJV

 

 

The Eternal Inheritance – A Better Covenant

The Lord found fault with the first covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. They did not continue His covenant and the Lord “disregarded them.” However, the Lord established a new covenant – a better covenant.  This new agreement offers an eternal inheritance.

A high priest was appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices to the Lord. The tabernacle was prepared with a sanctuary and the Holy of Holies. These things were to be a reflection, a pattern, of the things in heaven.  The Lord had established laws, or divine ordinances, that needed to be kept. The first covenant required the blood of goats and calves to sanctify the flesh. It was symbolic, a reflection, of what was to come. Food, drink, washings and fleshly ordinances were imposed to remind mankind of cleanliness in the presence of the Lord.

Now, we have a High Priest. Christ was an offering, not with the blood of goats and calves, but with the eternal blood of the Son of God. The new tabernacle is not built with hands of the earthly creation. I love Hebrews 9 13-14:

For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? Hebrews 9:13-14 NKJV

Jesus entered the Holy of Holies once for all – an eternal redemption. The new covenant is not written in stone on this Earth. The Lord said, ” I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people… For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”

What a beautiful covenant and an even more amazing God! Praise Him for putting away sin with His own heavenly blood.

Now when these things had been thus prepared, the priests always went into the first part of the tabernacle, performing the services. But into the second part the high priest went alone once a year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the people’s sins committed in ignorance; the Holy Spirit indicating this, that the way into the Holiest of All was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was still standing. It was symbolic for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience— concerned only with foods and drinks, various washings, and fleshly ordinances imposed until the time of reformation. Hebrews 9:6-10 NKJV

But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. Hebrews 9:11-12 NKJV