Hebrews 2:10-18 The Pioneer of Our Salvation

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We are different in so many ways—different stories, different backgrounds, different opinions, different experiences.  But there is a way in which we are all the same.  There’s also a sobering reality that every person in your life that you dearly love will, one day, die.  It doesn’t really matter if you’re rich or poor, black or white, male or female, doesn’t matter if you spend every day in the gym and eat everything healthy possible. Everybody will die.  That’s what makes our text so very important.  If you have a Bible, turn with us toHebrews, Chapter 2.  We’re continuing our study in the book of Hebrews.  It’s a very complex text, like many in Hebrews.  We’ll just take a little bit at a time.  The last part of Verse 9 stated: 
 
…that by the grace of God He (Jesus) might taste death for everyone. (*NASB, Hebrews 2:9) 
 
The first century Jew was not expecting that from their Messiah.  Even though the Old Testament prophecies were clear, it’s not what they expected.  They did not expect a Messiah that would die.  They certainly did not expect a Messiah that would die a horrific death on the cross.  So you can only imagine someone responding by saying, “Why would God do that?”  If this was God in the flesh, why would He do that?  Let’s pick it up, then, in Verse 10: 
 
For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, 
 
The answer:  It is fitting.  The Greek there is it is appropriate; it is consistent with the nature of God.  Why would God do that?  Because that’s who God is.  He’s a gracious, merciful, forgiving God.  It’s His nature.  It’s consistent with who God is.  What verse 10 says is the God who created the universe, the God who is at the center of the universe—that’s who He is.  One of the reasons we struggle is because we have a tendency to make it all about ourselves, and so we kind of wrestle with, “Why would God do that?”  We make it all about ourselves.  But when we begin to realize it isn’t all about me—never has been—it’s about God and it’s about God’s glory and it’s about God’s desire to put His grace on display for His glory.  It’s the very essence and nature of God.  When I can get away from the fact it’s not about me, I’m merely the recipient of God being God and putting His grace on display. 
 
…in bringing many sons to glory, 
 
Sons here, we could say sons and daughters.  It’s talking about all of us that are believers but it’s important to remember in the first century culture, only a son was a full heir to the family fortune.  That’s why, often, the reference is to sons.  It’s not really a reference to our gender; it’s a reference to the reality that we’ve become a legal heir to the family fortune.  So if we say His children, sons and daughters, we just can’t forget that piece.  That’s what Christ has done—has made us His children, and what the text says:  in order to bring us to glory.  In other words, in order to make us absolutely glorious.  How did he do that? 
 
…to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings. 
 
So the word perfect is actually a word that means to complete. It’s the idea of completion.  He accomplished; He completed the mission.  How did He do that?  By being the author.  Now this is a very interesting Greek word.  It could be translated champion.  It could be translated trailblazer.  Most scholars seem to favor the term pioneer.  That’s basically the idea.  He blazed a trail; He was a pioneer to bring forth salvation, and it would require suffering. 
 
So, Verse 10 is pretty complex, but what it basically says is the God of the universe, because of who He is, determined to make His children absolutely glorious.  To do that He had to complete the assignment and blaze a trail as a pioneer to offer salvation—and that would require suffering.  
 
Verse 11: 
 
For both He who sanctifies (that’s Jesus) and those who are (being) sanctified (that’s us as believers, His children) are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying, 
 
“I WILL PROCLAIM YOUR NAME TO MY BRETHREN, 
IN THE MIDST OF THE CONGREGATION I WILL SING YOUR PRAISE.” 
And again, “I WILL PUT MY TRUST IN HIM.” 
And again, “BEHOLD, I AND THE CHILDREN WHOM GOD HAS GIVEN ME.” (Vs. 11-13) 
 
So Verse 11: He who sanctifies—Jesus—and those who are sanctified—His children—are all from one.  Now I use the New American Standard and it says Father, but you’ll notice Father is in italics, which tells you that’s not actually in the Greek text.  Whatever word is in your translation, it should be in italics because the Greek literally says all from one.  And then there’s lots of discussion as to what that’s a reference to—one Father?  One God?  One humanity?  What is the reference?  I think what makes the most sense because of the context of the conversation—the context of the conversation is why Jesus, why the Son of God had to become a man and suffer—so the idea is that both He who sanctifies—Jesus—and those who are sanctified were all from one, meaning one humanity—that we’re all flowing from Adam.  It’s just a reference that the one who sanctified us had to become human to do that because we’re human; therefore we’re all from one. 
 
Verse 12 is a quote from Psalm 22, which everyone agrees is a Messianic psalm.  In essence Jesus is the one talking, saying that He will stand among His children—that’s the congregation—and lead us in worship as the pioneer.  He became one of us to blaze a trail and, as one of us, He will stand in our midst and He will lead us—the congregation—in worship.  Verse 13 is from Isaiah chapter 8, and basically the context of that is Isaiah was fearful that an invasion was coming, and all they could do was trust God.  The writer pulls that quote out, and in essence is saying, “As the pioneer, as one who became human, Jesus pioneered—He led the way to show us how to trust God.”  He trusted God and He showed His children how to do it.  That’s the basic idea of verses 12 and 13. 
 
But I want to go back to a statement that I think is just astonishing, and that’s at the end of verse 11:   
 
…for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, in other words His children.  So the mission was to make His children absolutely glorious, in order that, when He stands with His children as one of them—human in every way—He will stand and say, “I am not ashamed to call these people My children.”  Now this has meaning to us, but it’s helpful to get the background to better understand.
 
Those in the West are considered to be a guilt/innocence culture.  That’s just what defines the western World which I reside in.  A lot of our theology uses this terminology but the majority cultures of the world today are what are called shame/honor cultures.  Going back to the first century, the Bible was written in the context of a shame/honor culture.  One of the significant differences is a guilt/innocence culture is very individualized.  It’s about me.  It’s about me and my relationship with God, and a lot of our theology is, honestly, probably too much that way. But in a shame/honor culture, it’s all about the community and it’s all about, “As I stand before the community, am I shamed or am I honored?”   
 
So now stop and think about what the text just said.  In essence what it’s saying is, “As a result of the trailblazer who has trailblazed, He has pioneered the way of salvation through suffering. He has become one of us and, at the end of the story, He will stand with us as His children and He will say to the world, ‘I just want you to know I count it an honor to call these people My children.’”  In the first century culture it was the sinners—the tax collectors, the prostitutes, the outcasts, the lepers, the untouchables that were so attracted to Jesus.  In twenty-first century, it’s the disenfranchised; it’s the used; it’s the abused, the forgotten, the rejected; it’s the hurting, the struggling, the betrayed.  It’s those who look in the mirror and think, “I’ll never measure up.”  It’s those who have always wanted to belong but they’ve felt like they’ve never belonged, those who always wanted to fit in but they think they’ll never fit in, and those who have never measured up.  It’s those people—sinners, misfits, and losers—who have been set apart and made right by the power of Jesus who one day—at the end of the story—there will only be one opinion that matters.  
 
And as one of us, He will stand in our midst and He will say to the world, “I just want you to know that whatever you thought of these people, I consider it a great honor to call them My children.”  It is an absolutely magnificent statement! Verse 14: 
 
Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, (that’s us, we’re human) He Himself likewise also partook of the same, 
 
To do this, the eternal God had to become human flesh and blood, and it’s good to remind ourselves this morning we’re not talking about temporarily.  We’re not talking about the fact that He became human for thirty-three years.  From the moment the Son took on human flesh, He would be the God-Man in every way, for the rest of eternity.  It’s astonishing!  
  
He…partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. (Vs. 14-15) 
 
Why did He do that?  In order that He might conquer sin and death once and for all!  To do that, He Himself had to become human.  This goes all the way back to Genesis chapter 3, verse 15.  Adam, because of his sin, plunged the human race into sin, and we feel the effects of that in our world today.  But before you can even turn the page of the Bible, God makes a promise that one day, through the seed of a woman—that means a human—He would bring forth one who would crush the head of the serpent—the devil—and He would ultimately win.  This is now saying Jesus is the fulfillment of that promise.  To accomplish the mission, the eternal God of the universe had to become human, take on human flesh—fully human in every way—in order to be the pioneer, in order to be the trailblazer to conquer sin and death once and for all, to crush the head of the devil and to set us free from this fear of death that keeps us enslaved! 
 
Jesus has conquered sin and death!  But to do that, He Himself had to become human and blaze the trail.Verse 16: 
 
For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham. 
 
Jesus did not do this for the angels.  He did not become an angel; He did not provide salvation for the angels.  He did this for people made in His image—the descendants of Abraham—meaning all of us who believe and become part of the promise to Abraham. Verse 17: 
 
Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 
 
In order to do this He had to become human in every way—that’s what he just said—in order to be the high priest, to make propitiation for sin.  Now that isn’t terribly meaningful to us, but it would have been very meaningful to the first century readers.  They would have clearly understood the imagery.  For hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of years the priests would have daily functioned in the temple.  The high priest was the boss priest, and it was the responsibility of the high priest— once a year and once a year only—to enter behind the veil into the Holy of Holies—the place that housed the very presence of God—to offer the sacrifice for sin—that the sins of the people might be paid for, might be atoned for one more year.  The word propitiation is also sometimes translated mercy seat.  It means a lid.  It’s a reference to the lid of the Ark of the Covenant that sat in the Holy of Holies.  The idea was this is the place where the presence of a holy God would meet sinful men and women because, somehow, their sin was covered.  But there was a reminder this had to be done year after year after year because it was merely a foreshadowing—it was a picture of the fulfillment of the promise God made all the way back in Genesis 3:15.  Jesus, then, is identified as the fulfillment of the promise.  He came to earth, and became a man.  He became the high priest who would offer the ultimate sacrifice, and the sacrifice was Himself, and the mercy seat was the cross.  Jesus, because he was fully man but had no sin, did not have to pay for His own sin, so He could pay for the sins of the world.  The first Adam plunged the human race into sin.  The second Adam— the final Adam—set them free by dying on behalf of the world, which He told us in Verse 9. 
 
The idea of a propitiation is the paying of a debt; literally it is the satisfying of God’s wrath or God’s judgment.  Some people say the appeasing of God’s wrath, but that’s not quite correct.  It’s not just appeasing; it’s satisfying.  So the idea was that because Jesus was fully human, He could die on our behalf. Because He was sinless—had no sin of His own to atone for—He could die for the sins of the world.  He would blaze a trail to salvation.  The evidence that God found the sacrifice satisfactory is that three days later He rose from the dead, having conquered sin and death! He blazed the trail to eternity, returning to the Father, now seated at the right hand, indicating mission accomplished once and for all! 
 
The whole idea of propitiation is the reminder again that somebody had to pay the debt. Sometimes people will say, “Why couldn’t God just forgive?  Why was that necessary?” Well, there are a couple things to think about.  One is: when Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane, agonizing about what was to come, He actually asked that question.  “Is there any other way?”  And the fact that He went to the cross is the answer:  There is no other way.  He had to become human and pay the debt for salvation to be offered.  But it’s also helpful to realize this idea of why couldn’t God just forgive has no basis in reality.  What do we mean by that?   
 
Let’s imagine, after the service I’m backing out to go home and I back into your car and I put a big dent in it.  Now we have a problem.  There are two options on the table.  One, I can pay to have your car repaired. That’s justice; that would be right.  The second option would be you can say, “Don’t worry about it; I’ll take care of it.”  That would be grace and mercy.  But the fact is that means you’re going to pay for it.  Either you pay for it by losing the value of your vehicle or you pay to have it fixed, but then you’re paying for it.  The one option that’s not on the table is we can’t pretend it didn’t happen.  It did happen, so somebody must pay.   
 
We crashed into the holiness of God, and there is a massive debt to be paid.  So, what are the options on the table?  You can pay your own debt; that’s justice, and you’ll pay for that forever, or you can accept that God, because He’s gracious and merciful, took on human flesh and He Himself died to make payment for the debt in order to satisfy God’s wrath, His judgment, so that God could be just and still turn around and offer salvation freely as a gift, because somebody paid the debt on your behalf.  But, in order for that to happen, He had to become human; He had to suffer; He had to die.  He rose from the dead and returned to the Father, seated at the right hand of the Father—mission accomplished! Verse 18: 
 
For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted. 
 
That word translated tempted is a Greek word that, throughout the New Testament is translated tempted, tested, or tried.  It’s the same word; it just depends on the context.  So in this case, it’s probably all of that—because Jesus became human, because He suffered, because He was abused, He was rejected, He was beaten, He was brokenhearted.  Because He experienced the real stuff of life, He was tempted; He was tried; He was tested. Therefore, when we cry out, we’re not crying out to some abstract God that feels nothing.  We are crying out to one who has taken on human flesh and He has walked on this earth.  He knows pain; He knows suffering; He knows heartache; He knows loneliness.  He identifies with the pain and the struggle; He has lived it Himself . Therefore, it is a God who can identify with our struggle. 
 
So here’s the question:  If this is true, that the God of the universe who created everything, who is at the center of everything, actually took on human flesh, why would He do that?  Because that is who He is; that’s His essence, His nature! He did that in order to make payment for sin, in order to conquer sin and death as the trailblazer—once and for all—that we might follow that path and experience His salvation, He did that in order to make His children glorious; He did it so that one day He can stand with His children and say to the world, “I just want you to know, I am just so honored to call these people My children.” But until that day, He’s one who can identify with our struggle. He’s felt the pain; He’s lived the struggle!  If all of that is true, remind me, what is it you’re going through today that’s just, somehow, too much for this God?  If not Jesus, where are you going to turn?  Who are you going to turn to?  If this is true, can’t we collectively say in our hearts, “In our most difficult moments of life, no matter how hard it is, we do believe Christ is enough!”
 
Our Father, we sometimes just struggle to comprehend the wonder of what we have just learned.  Lord, give us the faith to believe that is just who You are—to make your children glorious, to the praise of Your glory!  But, Lord, it cost! It cost a great price to conquer sin and death once and for all so that we can live in hope.  God, give us the faith and courage to believe in our most difficult moments in life, Christ is enough!  Lord, in Jesus’ name, Amen. 
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Christ is Enough – Hebrews 1:1-14

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One of the things we are reminded daily is there is a lot of pain and heartache and suffering in the world. Maybe it’s a disease that just won’t go away. Maybe it’s a broken relationship. Maybe it’s a financial crisis. I don’t know what it is for you…but you know…you know what it is. So here’s my question. “Do you believe, no matter what it is you’re going through, that Christ is enough?”  Now, we all know what the right answer is. That’s not what I’m asking. In your heart of hearts, “Do you really believe Jesus is enough for whatever it is you’re going through?” 

Well that’s the question we’re going to wrestle with in the study of the entire book of Hebrews: “Is Christ enough?” So if you have a Bible, turn with us to the book of Hebrews. 

The book of Hebrews is unique in the sense that it’s the only New Testament book where we do not know who the author is. I’m sure the first readers knew; it wasn’t anonymous to them but we, today, don’t know. Some people think Paul, although that’s less and less convincing today.

Scholars are pretty confident this was written at the latter part of the 60’s so this would have been under the persecution of Nero. The persecution at this point is getting pretty intense. In AD70, the fall of Jerusalem, everything comes crashing down; things are really getting intense and moving to really an all-out slaughter. It appears that those that were believers, many of them were considering maybe going back to their old ways.  As the persecution got more and more intense, they’re thinking about turning back out of their fear, perhaps out of their uncertainty, and maybe there were those that never really turned to Christianity from Judaismthat were seeking to convince others to join them.  And so the heartbeat of the book of Hebrews is in the midst of the trials and the persecution, asking, “Where are you going to turn?” “Who are you going to turn to?” “What are you going to turn back to?” Moses? Angels? The First Covenant? In the most difficult moments of life, why would you do that?” “Why would you not trust that Christ is enough?” That’s kind of the heartbeat of the book of Hebrews.

So, chapter 1, verse 1: (Verses 1 through 4 are one long run-on sentence in Greek, so clearly meant to be taken in kind of one breath, one running opening.) The subject is God. What has God done? Verse 1:

God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, (*NASB, Hebrews 1:1)

The subject is God. What do we know about God? We know that God is a God who speaks. He is not a God who has remained silent. In the Old Testament, in the old covenant God spoke through the prophets. Prophets here are not limited to major and minor prophets in the Old Testament but prophets meaning the main characters of the Old Testament. So God spoke through the main players. He spoke through the Old Testament Scriptures. Many portions means many ages over a considerable amount of time; many ways—through the Scriptures, through dreams, through visions, through a number of different ways God communicated in the old covenant. Verse 2:

…in these last days has spoken to us in His Son… 

So, last days is a reference to Old Testament prophecies that then defines the time from the time of Christ until the return of Christ. So sometimes I hear people today say, “I think we might be living in the last days,” to which I always reply, “I know we are. It started with Christ and it will go until the return of Christ.” Biblically speaking, that defines the period known as the last days. And last days did not begin after 1914, 1798 or 1844 as SDA’s & JW’s teach. 

Now part of that was carrying the idea that in the old covenant God was communicating, making promises of a Messiah, of a Savior that would come. So everything in the old covenant—the Old Testament—is looking forward to the fulfillment of that promise. It’s one ongoing story. Jesus is the fulfillment of those promises.Jesus isn’t just one more communication in the line of prophets. Jesus isn’t one more word from God; He is the final word from God. So the idea is all throughout the old covenant they were looking forward. But now the promise has been fulfilled; the Savior has come, so we stand in the finished work, the completion of what Jesus has done on the cross. So Jesus ushered in this New Covenant and the only thing that remains is the return of Christ. So these are the last days, living in the fulfillment of the promise and the responsibility of the Church is to accomplish her mission-spread the gospel of His finished work. So ….in these last days God has spoken to us in His Son—the final word! 

Now the writer goes through a series of affirmations related to who Jesus is. All of it has to do with this idea that Jesus is superior to everyone else (prophets) and everything else (revelation). It all comes back to this idea of: where else would you turn, for every direction you turn is going to be inferior to the exalted Christ. So, again, frame this discussion around whatever it is you’re going through, whatever it is you’re facing, wrestling with the question, “Is this Jesus enough to get you through whatever it is?” verse 2:

…in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, 

Now the language in these verses can get a little confusing. Appointed or you see in verse 4He has become much better, so it almost sounds like Jesus wasn’t before and now has somehow risen, like he wasn’t God but now is fully God, and that would be a complete misunderstanding of the text. Think of it this way: Jesus is the eternal God—fully God from all eternity—Father, Son, Holy Spirit. That’s not in question but there was a moment in time where the eternal God of the universe—God the Son—did actually take on human flesh and become the God-man in order to fulfill the promise to be the Savior of the world. He completed the mission and returned to the Father in an exalted position not as just God, but this new God-man, because He had completed the assignment. So the focus of the writer of Hebrews is not on the nature or person of the Son but rather as the God-man—the mission, what we call the work of Christ. We refer tothe person and work of Christ, that the eternal God did become flesh, did do the work, accomplished the work, and there is an exalted reward because the work is completed. So that’s what these terms are referring to.

The idea of being an heir—talked about in Ephesians chapter one in glorious terms—simply means that He both has authority over and possesses all things—all things—all people, all powers in the universe! He has authority and power over everything. He was: 

…appointed heir of all things through whom also He made the world,

…identifying Jesus, the one God,who became flesh, is the creator of the universe. So when you read Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning God,” Elohim, that is what we refer to as the pre-incarnate Christ—that is Jesus before He became the God-man. God the Son is the creator of the universe. The idea that something came from nothing is foolishness and there are more and more scientists, secular and Christian alike, who are getting on board with this idea that there is no way something came from nothing. There had to be a beginning point, which means there had to be some sort of a cause. As Christians, we just go back to the first verse of the Bible—“God…In the beginning God,” but specifically the Son was the creator of the universe. This is affirmed in the Gospel of John, chapter one. This is affirmed in Colossians, chapter one. Verse 3:

And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature,

Now that’s a little bit more difficult to explain but basically the radiance of the full glory of God emanates out of Jesus. He wasn’t lesser God; He’s the full radiance of God. Think of it this way: In the Old Testament Moses said to God, “I want to see Your glory.” God said to Moses, “Moses, if you saw My glory, it would kill you. So here’s what we’re going to do. We are going to put you in the cleft of the rock.” God said, “I’m going to put My hand over the cleft and I’m going to go past, and right at the end I’m going to give you a glimpse, literally of my hindquarters. and that’s all you can take and survive,” and Moses glowed for days!

So the radiance of God that Moses just got a glimpse of is the radiance of Christ—fully God— radiant in every way, the exact representation! Colossians says that Jesus is the visible manifestation of the invisible God. The word representation is a Greek word that meant like a stamp or a dye. It would have been very familiar to them, for example of a dye that stamped out coins—one after another—that perfectly replicated the image on the dye. Jesus is the perfect representation, the visible manifestation of the invisible God,

 …and upholds all things by the word of His power.  

Colossians 1 would say not only the creator of the universe but the sustainer of the universe—not just holding it up, but actively sustaining the universe. Scientists today can identify things in our universe that are true—things that they even go so far as to say are laws but what they often can’t explain is: “Why is that true?” “We discover this is true; we just can’t explain why it’s true.” We would say it’s because Jesus not only is the creator but he is the sustainer. He holds it all together. 

When he had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, (Vs. 3b) 

This same Son, who is the creator, who is the sustainer, who is the full radiance of God, is the One who took on human flesh in order to make purification for sin, to fulfill the promise of a Messiah —in order that we might know forgiveness of sin. So it raises this question: Is there connectivity to all of this?  Who has authority to forgive sin? Who has authority to say you are purified from your sins? No church, no priest, no pastor, no denomination, no religion. I can’t go out tomorrow and say, “I’m going to die for the sins of the world,” because I myself am a sinner; I can’t even cover my own sins; I have no power and authority to declare that somehow my death has purified the sins of the world. What would have to be true to have the authority to purify sin? Seems to me you’d have to have the authority, power, possession, and ownership over everything. You’d have to be the creator. You’d have to be the sustainer. You’d have to be the full radiance of God. Only God has the authority to say that covered the sins of the world!  It’s true; it is mysterious and sometimes confusing to figure out how exactly that death two thousand years ago covers my sin. I understand that. But who’s in charge? The One who created, the One who possesses, the One who sustains, the One who is fully God in every way. Only God could offer that because of who He is as God. 

The idea of sitting down at the right hand of God is very significant. In the old covenant, the priests daily had responsibilities in the tabernacle and the temple to offer sacrifice and do their required work, but the priests were not allowed to ever sit down on the job. The reason for that is it carried the message that the work is never completed and so they always had to remain standing, always at work, because the work was never done. Hebrews will talk a fair amount about that but all of that was foreshadowing a promise that one day the Messiah would come and He would make sacrifice for sin once and for all.  

When John the Baptist identified Jesus he said, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” So when Jesus purified for sin through His death on the cross, He Himself said it while He hung on the cross, “Tetelestai;” it is finished meaning paid in full. The result of that is He sat down at the right hand of the Father, communicating the work is finished once for all— completed!  Now He sits. This is a very powerful statement—that Jesus has accomplished the mission, and completed the atonement! By the way, the Adventist Jesus is depicted as standing in the heavenly sanctuary since His ascension, however the Biblical Jesus is presented as having sat down, having completed the atonement. Verse 4:

…having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they.

Now I’ll talk about verse four in just a minute but I want us to go back and process a little bit of what we just heard. So God has spoken the final message, the final word in His Son. Who is this Jesus? He is the owner, possessor, and has authority over everything.  He is the creator of the universe. He spoke the universe into place. He is the sustainer of the universe. He radiates with the full glory of God and He was the One who made payment for sin, to offer salvation to those who by faith receive it. If all of that is true, help me understand, “What is it you’re going through today that is too big for this Jesus?” Every other direction you turn, everything else you turn to will be inferior, will be less than. Why is this Christ not enough? Why is it that we can’t trust Him in the most difficult moments of life? 

Starting in verse four he kind of turns this conversation to Jesus being superior to the angels. That seems like kind of an odd conversation to us. But angels will appear again chapter 2 and thereafter. So what is behind that? Basically from this point to the end of the chapter, he’s going to make his point—his case from the Old Testament—that that’s clearly the case. 

If you think about Hebrews and its emphasis on the Old Testament and the old covenant and Jesus being superior, and the first covenant is obsolete which will come later, you think about how this book just opened up, and why this was inspired to be written. What was happening is there were those Judaizers that were seeking to lure these believers back to Judaism, back to the old covenant, back to their old ways. There may have been some of them that were just thinking about returning to their old practices on their own because of the persecution, and it was safe or maybe even reasoning that if God was in this, this wouldn’t be happening.  So maybe we are off track; maybe we need to go back to the old way, the old covenant law, law of Moses, to old covenant practices, Sabbaths, dietary laws, circumcision etc. There seems to be a lot in Hebrews that indicates that’s a big concern. 

We know that when Moses received the commandments (ten commandments included) on Mount Sinai—essentially the old covenant—that the angels were there. 

He said, “The LORD came from Sinai, And dawned on them from Seir; He shone forth from Mount Paran, And He came from the midst of ten thousand holy angels; At His right hand there was flashing lightning for them (Deut. 33:2)

“Wherefore then serves the Law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by ANGELS in the hand of a mediator” (Gal 3:19)

They were messengers or help mediate that message to Moses. So imagine that you are a Judaizer and you are trying to convince these believers to go back to the old covenant. Part of the argument was that Jesus was just a man. He was just another one of God’s prophets but He certainly doesn’t have the authority to overthrow the message of the angels given by Moses. He certainly doesn’t have the authority to usher in a new covenant as if somehow He’s taking over. He’s certainly not higher than the angels. You can imagine that line of thinking as a justification for holding on to the old covenant, Moses’ law. 

So now think about what the writer is saying about who Jesus is—that Jesus wasn’t just another prophet. He wasn’t just another word from God. He is the final word, and then the list of things we just talked about. The last part of the chapter goes back to a number of Old Testament passages to make his case—that Jesus is superior to the angels or their message. It’s almost as if he’s saying, “If you’re going to talk about the Old Testament, let’s talk about the Old Testament because it’s pretty clear that the Son is over the angels.” And we’ll see more of this. So verse 5:

For to which of the angels did He ever say,

“YOU ARE MY SON, TODAY I HAVE BEGOTTEN YOU”?

That’s from Psalm 2 and of course the obvious answer is, “Never!” God identified Jesus as His Son, not the angels. This verse is quoted at Jesus’ baptism. It’s quoted at Jesus’ transfiguration. Paul quotes it in a sermon in the book of Acts. So it’s a much quoted verse when God the Father identified Jesus as His Son.

And again,

“I WILL BE A FATHER TO HIM AND HE SHALL BE A SON TO ME”?

This is taken from 2 Samuel, chapter 7, verse 14. This is David talking about Solomon as the future King of Israel but it is a foreshadowing of God the Father identifying one in David’s line, His Son, who will be the ultimate king, the fulfillment of the prophecy, and obviously he’s never said that of the angels. Verse 6: 

And when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says,

“AND LET ALL THE ANGELS OF GOD WORSHIP HIM.”

So there’s nowhere that the Son is to worship the angels but the Old Testament clearly says the angels should gather and worship the Son. Verse 7:

 

And of the angels He says,

“WHO MAKES HIS ANGELS WINDS, AND HIS MINISTERS A FLAME OF FIRE.”

This is a quote from Psalm 104. There are a couple of different ways this verse is interpreted. I think best understood the psalmist is saying and the writer of Hebrews is now affirming that God uses the wind and the lightning as messengers. So the angels are messengers of God like the wind and the lightning. Angels are magnificent beings. They are created by God. They are powerful beings. They have a significant role in God’s economy. So the writer is saying angels are utterly magnificent but they’re just messengers whom God uses to accomplish His mission. Verses 8 and 9:

But of the Son He says,

“YOUR THRONE, O GOD, IS FOREVER AND EVER,

AND THE RIGHTEOUS SCEPTER IS THE SCEPTER OF HIS KINGDOM.

“YOU HAVE LOVED RIGHTEOUSNESS AND HATED LAWLESSNESS;

THEREFORE GOD, YOUR GOD, HAS ANOINTED YOU WITH THE OIL OF GLADNESS ABOVE YOUR COMPANIONS.”

Jesus, the eternal Son of God, is not just another messenger, he’s not just another prophet. He is God and the Old Testament clearly identifies Him as such and finally verses 10-12:

 And, “YOU, LORD, IN THE BEGINNING LAID THE FOUNDATION OF THE EARTH,

AND THE HEAVENS ARE THE WORKS OF YOUR HANDS;

 THEY WILL PERISH, BUT YOU REMAIN;

AND THEY ALL WILL BECOME OLD LIKE A GARMENT,

AND LIKE A MANTLE YOU WILL ROLL THEM UP;

LIKE A GARMENT THEY WILL ALSO BE CHANGED.

BUT YOU ARE THE SAME,

AND YOUR YEARS WILL NOT COME TO AN END.”

Again just affirming that Jesus as the creator, one day heaven and earth will pass away; He’ll roll it up like a garment and discard it and usher in the new heaven and the new earth. Angels don’t do that; God does that! Finally verse 13:

But to which of the angels has He ever said,

“SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND, UNTIL I MAKE YOUR ENEMIES A FOOTSTOOL FOR YOUR FEET”?

Verse 14:

Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?

So again there is this affirmation: angels are magnificent beings! They are created by God. They are extremely powerful but they are messengers, servants of God that are sent out by God in order to minister to the saints. They are not over the eternal uncreated, self existing Son of God.

So who is this Jesus that has ushered in the new covenant? For these first century believers He is the owner, possessor and authority over everything. He is the creator of the universe, the Genesis 1:1 God.  He is the sustainer of the universe. He is the eminence of God, radiates the fullness of the glory of God, is the exact representation of God. He is the one authorized to become the purifier of sinners, that we might experience God’s salvation, sitting majestically over the angels as the eternal God.  

So now we’re back to our question today. If that’s true, you remind me, what is the problem you’re facing this day that is just too big for this Jesus? Where are you going to turn? Wherever you turn, it’s going to be inferior! Who are you going to turn to? Whoever you turn to is going to be inferior! Why would we not believe in the worst moments of life, no matter what, this Jesus is going to be enough?

Our Father we just pray that You would open up our hearts and our minds to come to believe with all of our hearts, not just with our heads, but with our hearts that no matter what it is we’re facing in this life, Jesus is enough and we can trust Him.  Lord, may that be so! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Adapted: https://www.lincolnberean.org/sermon/christ-is-enough-hebrews/the-final-word

The History of First Day in Christianity

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1. The Importance of the First Day Starts in Scripture.

Scripture reports that the New Testament church gathered to break bread, meet, worship, give offerings on Sunday (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2; Rev. 1:10). But Scripture doesn’t use the word Sunday ever. Instead, the early church spoke of Sunday as the first day of the week, or the first day from the Sabbath.

 

2. The Early History of Worship.

We do well to learn what the early church actually practiced. In the earliest days, Jewish Christians continued to observe Sabbath (and other laws of Moses) and Gentile Christians met on the first day. Some kept the Sabbath and celebrated the first day in view of the resurrection of Jesus. In time, the former (Jewish Christianity) decreased and the latter (Gentile Christianity) persisted, and the notion that Sunday has taken the place of the Sabbath is notably absent from early Christian literature.

 

3. Sunday Had Typological Significance.

If Sunday didn’t replace the Sabbath, what did the earliest Christians think about the day? Based on early Christian literature, there were three theological factors for worship on Sunday. First, it was the day Christ rose from the grave. This is what makes Sunday the Lord’s Day and why the New Testament church gathered on this day. Second, it was the first day of a new creation. As 2 Corinthians 5:17 identified believers as new creations in Christ, so the first day after the Sabbath would, according to Genesis, have been a day of (new) creation. Third, Sunday was also the eighth day, a day that both related to circumcision and also “the final day of eternal rest and joy”. Altogether, the early church saw Sunday as a day full of symbolism. Physical rest akin to the Mosaic law, however, was not part of that symbolism. Instead, resurrection and new creation provided the typological substance.

 

4. Sunday Became a Day of Rest under Constantine.

For the first three centuries of the church, there was no expectation that on the Lord’s Day one is to rest from one’s labors. Roman slaves had to work on that day. Not until Christendom shaped commerce did Sunday become a day of rest. Here’s the pagan edict that started to change Sunday into a Sabbath that would have ramifications later in Christianity when puritans would take this application further. The first mention of Sunday rest was issued by Constantine. In 321 AD “On the venerable day of the Sun let the magistrates and people residing in cities rest, and let all the workshops be closed”. Christendom initiated by Constantine led to the practice of Sabbath-keeping on Sunday contrary to early christian practice. Then beginning in the Middle Ages and culminating with Puritanism (movement that came after the reformation), Christians came to think of and strictly observe Sunday as the Sabbath. Thus, Christian (Sunday) Sabbath keeping gained prominence. 

 

5. The Mood and Practices of Sunday Changed over Time.

In the early church (first three centuries after Christ), the Lord’s Day, which is the first day, celebrated Christ’s resurrection and the dawn of a new creation; but in the Middle Ages, it became more like a funeral. Sunday worship lost its joyful tenor and was driven by fear of excommunication. In this same era, legislation commending cessation from work continued. When reform came to the church, great strides were taken to change practices of worship, including the calendar. However, the reformers did little to recover the Sunday practices of the early church. 

 

6. Since then, the History of Sunday Has Been Shaped by Sabbatarianism.

In Puritan England, the idea of the Mosaic Sabbath was applied to Sunday. In that period, the entire nation slowed down on Sunday, and these theological reasons arose to support this practice. There was agreement under the new covenant it was not the day of the week that mattered so much as the practice of rest. And proper rest required detailed and exacting legislation.

In both the confessions of the church, such as the Westminster Confession and also the national laws of England, there was a strict adherence to practicing rest on Sunday. Naturally this practice led to all manner of debate, but in English Christendom, Sabbatarianism won out, and “blue laws” became the norm in England. Then, because of England’s influence on the founding of America, those same practices appeared in New England, which in turn has shaped American Christianity.

 

7. Although mainline Puritanism was Sunday Sabbatarian, it is no accident that seventh-day Sabbatarian movements have developed on Puritan soil. Seventh-day Sabbatarians (such as the Seventh day Adventists) see themselves as carrying the theological premises of Puritanism to their logical end. If the Sabbath of the Decalogue must be applied with exactness and rigor as the rule of life for Christians, why not keep the Sabbath on the seventh day which Jesus, and the primitive Jerusalem church also kept? Orthodox Puritans (Sunday Sabbatarians) and their descendants have tried to argue that Jesus or the apostles changed the day of worship and commanded the church to observe a new day. But they are without biblical support and consequently fall into the hands of their more consistent seventh-day Sabbatarian opponents such as the SDA’s. 

 

8. The belief that the Sabbath was transferred to Sunday is an old error (puritans promoted this Sunday Sabbath error, and some protestants still do, and they even confessed about it, but they kept on resting on Sunday as they saw that the gospel gave them the freedom to choose the day). Here’s such confession:

 “There was and is a command to keep holy the Sabbath day: but the Sabbath day was not Sunday. It will be said, however, and with some show of triumph, that the Sabbath was transferred from the seventh to the first day of the week, with all its duties, privileges and sanctions. Earnestly desiring information on this subject, which I have studied for many years, I ask: Where can the record of such a transaction be found? Not in the New Testament, absolutely not. There is no Scriptural evidence of the change of the Sabbath institution from the seventh to the first day of the week.” (Dr Edward T Hiscox, author of the Baptist Manual).

 

Absolutely, there is no evidence that it was transferred to Sunday. However, what the New Testament teaches is that the Sabbath was part of the first covenant that is now obsolete (Hebrews 8 & 9), and no one should hold or judge anyone over a Sabbath day (Col 2:16,17), and it is in vain to observe days once you come to the knowledge of the gospel (Gal 4:10,11). Observing days (Saturday or Sunday or Wednesday) is a matter of personal conviction under the new covenant.

 

Now SDA’s misuse the above quotes from puritans and protestant authors like Edward Hiscox, and try to promote their agenda of Sabbath keeping. However, none of those quotes have a bearing on the Sabbath, as the practice of gathering on Sunday started soon after Jesus’ resurrection,  and continued with the apostles, and in the gentile churches not in just one location but throughout Asia, Africa, Europe etc in the first few centuries way before Constantine or Popes.

Justin Martyr, an early christian apologist, who was born 70 years after Christ wrote: “Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly … Jesus Christ on the same day rose from the dead” (Apology, I.67). 
Bardesanes, Edessa (AD 180 – from Asia): “On first day of the week, we assemble ourselves together.” (Book of the Laws of Countries).
Clement of Alexandria (AD 194 from Egypt) wrote: “He does the commandment according to the Gospel and keeps the Lord’s day, whenever he puts away an evil mind . . . glorifying the Lord’s resurrection in himself. (Vii.xii.76.4)

So how can Constantine or Pope, change the day of worship in the 4th century, when Jesus, apostles, and the early church already started to meet on the first day way before them?  

In fact, this is exactly what some of these protestants that SDA’s fondly quote were also saying, ‘Sunday is not another Sabbath nor a day of rest nor a holy day”! Absolutely! And neither were these protestants promoting that the Jewish seventh day Sabbath should be observed and yet Adventists misquote these statements.

Take for example the quote SDA’s quote by the following protestant:
Alexander Campbell, The Christian Baptist, Feb. 2, 1824,vol. 1. no. 7, p. 164. “‘But,’ say some, ‘it was changed from the seventh to the first day.’ Where? when? and by whom? No man can tell”
Absolutely true! The Sabbath was abolished, not changed to Sunday! Campbell taught that the Sabbath was abolished like most other protestant writers! He is asking those misguided sunday Sabbath keepers, where is that change recorded, and the answer is there is no change!
“Under the new constitution all disciples live if they knew it; and if you go back to Moses for a Sabbath, you may go back to him for a new moon, a holy day or what you please. And indeed we are, and must be confessed to be, either under the old constitution or the new. We cannot be under bothWe cannot live under the English and American constitution at the same time. If I were to go to Moses for a “Seventh Day Sabbath,” I should not blush to take from him an eighth day circumcision or an annual passover. The Christian Baptist, Vol. 3 No. 1, August 1, 1825, pp. 177-178
Campbell wrote:
He that keeps the Sabbath of the Jews is a debtor, to do the whole law (torah). The Sabbath could not be changed from the seventh day to the first day, for the reasons given for its observance; nor can the first day of the week be changed into a Jewish or Patriarchal Sabbathfor the reasons which consecrated it to the Lord. (Millennial Harbinger of 1837, p. 279)
So, most of the protestant quotes that SDA’s quote means something different, but naive Sabbatarians read those quotes and think that those protestants were promoting seventh-day Sabbath observance or at least admitting that it should be observed. While some of the protestants were misguided about the Law, most of these protestants understood that the Bible teaches that Sabbath is a ritual law fulfilled at the cross, no more binding, and Sunday is not the Sabbath day, and it should not be treated as a Mosaic Sabbath, instead Sunday is a day for Christian common assembly in view of the resurrection, which is allowed,  commanded, practiced, and not prohibited or condemned by the New Covenant. See: Why the First Day?

 

Adventists and Sabbatarians also quote certain recent century Catholic Confessions as proof that the Catholic Church changed it centuries later Christ. But in this Adventist ignore, fail to state, another claim which all these same Catholic authorities always make just as strongly, namely, that their Holy Catholic Church extends back to, and began with, the apostles, who started this practice of meeting on Sunday.

 

The very highest authority, in the Catholic Church – the Council of Trent contains the creed of the Church.  Every member has to swear to this creed when he joins the Church, hence it is authoritative.  It devotes eight pages to the Sabbath question.  It says:
“The Sabbath was kept holy from the time of the liberation of the people of Israel from the bondage of Pharaohthe obligation was to cease with the abrogation of the Jewish worship, of which it formed a part; and it therefore was no longer obligatory after the death of Christ. “The apostles therefore resolved to consecrate the first day of the week to the divine worship, and called it ‘the Lord’s Day’; St.  John, in the Apocalypse, makes mention of ‘the Lord’s Day’; and the apostle commands collection to be made ‘on the first day of the week,’ that is, according to the interpretation of St.  Chrysostom, on the Lord’s Day;” (pages 264, 265).
With regard to Catholic Church reaching back to apostolic days, Advent Review and Herald, October 23, 1913, says:
“As we read this, we should not forget that we are reading the deliberate declaration of the highest official in America of that Church which claims to reach back to Apostolic days.”

 

So, when Catholics talk about Sabbath being changed to Sunday, they are talking about a practice that started from the apostles in the first century, who they claim are the founders of their Church. Hence, Adventists are naive to claim that a change happened many centuries later.

When all evidence fail them, Adventists have also tried to promote the idea that Sunday practice started with paganism, however, Adventist scholars have refuted this non-sense as well. C. Mervyn Maxwell, Ph.D., professor of church history at Andrews University Theological Seminary, Berrien Springs, Michigan writes:
“Another group of scholars has suggested that the second- and third-century Christians adopted Sunday in preference to the seventh-day Sabbath as a result of the influence of pagan sun worship. Without question, the sun was worshiped by people who lived in the Roman Empire during the centuries under discussion here and sun worship did play a vital role in the early fourth century when the Sunday rest was decreed by Constantine (A.D. 321), but there is little evidence that the sun occupied the unique position attributed to it by some modern authors. When the Emperor Caracalla tried to impose sun worship in the early years of the third century, the Romans laughed at him. Although sun worship has always played a role in pagan religions, it wasn’t until the end of that century (3rd century) that the sun enjoyed real prominence among the Roman gods—and by that time many Christians, at least, had been observing Sunday for 150 years. In his Apology addressed to the Roman Government, the great Christian writer Tertullian specifically refuted the charge that Christians worshiped on Sunday in honor of the sun” (Source: Ministry Magazine, 1977).

That’s a gem of a statement to come from the mouth of an Adventist scholar, “Many Christians, at least, had been observing Sunday for 150 years”, in contradiction to Ellen White, the inspired prophet of SDA’s.

Samuel Bachiochi, the SDA scholar also wrote: “I differ from Ellen White, for example, on the origin of Sunday. She teaches that in the first centuries all Christians observed the Sabbath and it was largely through the efforts of Constantine that Sunday keeping was adopted by many Christians in the fourth century. My research shows otherwise”

It is unfortunate that Adventism has made Sabbath, an obsolete ritual law, and a law that they do not properly observe, a salvational issue for the end times, and has gone great lengths to bring false hoods and fear into the hearts of people who worship not just on Sunday, but also their own members who worship on Saturday.

Adapted and referenced:

https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/reviews/a-brief-history-of-sunday/