Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Hebrews: Christ Above All A Better Life 13:1-17

Hebrews: Christ Above All

A Better Life

Text: Hebrews 13:1-17

Paul talks about living the Christian life, the best life that can be lived while on this earth.
In this final chapter Paul moves from the doctrines and truth of Jesus Christ and the Gospel to the actions that should flow from that truth. He moves from the life that is in Christ to the life that should show Christ. In this final chapter, he exhorts them in several areas of life all of which still have direct application to our Christian duties today. His exhortations to them in the past are the Lord’s expectation of us today.

Review of Hebrews

In chapters 1-2 A Better Revelation
4 A Better Rest
5 A Better High Priest
6 On To Perfection
7 A Better Priesthood
9 A Better Sacrifice
11 A Better Faith
12 A Better Prize and Plan

Now in Chapter 13 we come to “A Better Life”

Exhortation to Christian Love Hebrews 13:1-6

Let brotherly love continue. Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body. Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge. Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.

 Paul’s First Exhortation is To Live In Christian Love

In these verses, he points out five kinds of love, four positive loves and one negative. The five loves are brotherly love, love for strangers, love for those in prison, love in marriage and love for money.
In verse 1 he says, Let brotherly love continue.

This is compound Greek word philedelphia, brotherly love, phileo-love and delphi - brother
He exhorts them to keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters in Christ, as family.
He then exhorts further by adding also love for strangers in vs. 2

The word here that is translated entertain strangers is the word, philonexia (fil-on-ex-ee'-ah) Literally loving strangers. Just as he used the word philedelphia, loving brothers in vs. 1 here he use philonexia, loving strangers.

In this exhortation, he has two things in mind. Primarily he is talking about those who are traveling Christians. During a time when there were few inns it was paramount that you take in those who were traveling. Especially was this true when the strangers were “missionaries” like Paul and Timothy.
But the idea here is more than just hospitality to Christian brothers but also means showing love to those who are lost. These are strangers not only to us but also to the love of God and they need to see the love of God in Christians if they are ever going know it themselves.

Paul tells the Hebrews to remember those in bonds, the Hebrew Christians who have been arrested and in prison as well as those being persecuted for their faith. He qualifies this by saying as though you were with them in prison and suffering as they are. Love them because you will need that love when you are suffering.

The next love Paul talks about is love in marriage in vs. 4 “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled.”

Marriage is to be held and viewed with the highest esteem and honor by the Christians. The pagan societies of Paul’s day treated marriage in much the same way we do in our society today. Marriage had no honor, it had no lasting value in their culture. Wives were for having children and heirs but prostitution was accepted and even encouraged in pagan temples. This is why Paul says marriage should be honored in all. He means in all things both in public and in private in the living room and in the bedroom. He then makes his point clear to those who would dishonor marriage, “whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.”

His next exhortation deals with money. In vs. 5 “Let you conversation (lifestyle) be without covetousness and be content with such things as ye have.”
Literally, the Greek reads, “Let your manner of life be without love of money.” –RWP
Live your life free of the overriding desire for money, riches or wealth. “Be content with the things you have now.” In doing this the Hebrews would be able to say, “The Lord is my helper and I will fear not what man shall do unto me.”

Application to us today.

The overriding and primary exhortation to us today from this chapter is exactly the same as it was to the Hebrews of Paul’s day. Live a life that shows God’s love always. Love missionaries. Love the right things in the right way.

Love your brothers and sister in Christ, love your church family. Love those who are lost. Love and honor your spouse. Love what God has given you, don’t love money for the sake of money or what you think money can do for you.

For us, the better life of a child of God begins, continues and finishes with Love. First God’s love for us and then our love for others. Paul in Hebrews is simply echoing what Christ said in Matthew
Illustration: The Lawyer who tested Christ

Matthew 22:36-40 Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.  This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
Paul now moves from love to Duty in vss. 7-9

Exhortation to Christian Duty Hebrews 13:7-9

Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.  Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein.

Paul exhorts the believers in their duty to others

in vs. 7 “Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God.
Remember them means to be mindful of them, think of them. These he says have the rule over you and have spoken, the world of God. This is why you are to remember them, “whose faith follow.”
This is what to think about “the end of their manner of life.”

Paul is talking about all the leaders they had had from Paul, Apollos, Timothy but also James and Stephan and all those he had mention in chapter 11 the “Faith Hall of Fame” chapter.
These he says you need to keep in mind, you need to keep at the forefront of your thoughts, following their faith, a faith that often ended with their death.

These lead a life of faith and concluded that life with a martyr’s death proving their steadfastness.
Then he points them to the ultimate example of steadfastness. Jesus Christ.

Vs. 8 “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today and for ever.”
You need to understand what this means it’s not like the little three year old girl  who while coloring a picture of Jesus in her Bible coloring book one day, said, "Daddy, did you know Jesus never changes?" Her dad was amazed--and delighted--that my little girl understood that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  "You're right, Amy," I replied. "Jesus never changes."  To which she added, intent on her artwork, "Yeah, he always wears long sleeves." - Gary Turner, Mulino, Oregon.  Christian Reader, "Kids of the Kingdom."

As these leaders, preacher, pastors and OT saints followed Jesus Christ and like him were steadfast, therefore you also should follow them as they follow the Lord.
In vs. 9 he gives the conclusion to their following faithful men. “Be not carried away with divers and strange doctrines.”

He gives an example then, “It is a good thing that the heart be established with grace not with meats.”
 He is giving a foundational premise to understanding out what is good and what is just a new and unprofitable teaching, a fad.  It all comes down to “grace.” The grace which saved us is also the grace that establishes our heart and anything else not grace but “meat.”
 “Meat” is the rule and regulation which the Judaizes tried to turn the Hebrews back to. Instead of grace they were trying to build on rules and regulations.

Scripture: Colossians 2:20-22 Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?

Application to us today.

Paul tells us today, “The better life begin in love but is seen in duty.”
Yesterday’s heroes of the faith should inspire us in our duty today.  And even today’s heroes of the faith should inspire you. Our heroes should be the men and women of God who have faithfully served Him with their lives. Remember them, honor them, be inspired by them.

Especially remember Jesus Christ the same, yesterday, today and forever, who inspires all heroes of the faith. What a verse of stability, a verse of surety, a verse of unwavering strength.  As all the world changes around me like winds in a storm yet there is a place of unchanging steadfastness in Jesus Christ. When you understand that then you model your life after Him and those who have followed him. This is your duty and in that duty you will find that same steadfastness in your life.
You will not be tossed to and fro as Paul says in Ephesians 4:14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;

That is not our lot because we have built our life on the example of Christ, the inspiration of the heroes of faith and established our hearts on God’s unchanging grace not rules and regulations of men that change with time and whim.

Illustration: Set your affections

Abraham Lincoln once told of a farmer trying to teach his son how to plow a straight furrow. In the time-honored tradition, he told the boy to keep his eyes on some object at the other end of the field and plow straight for it. The boy started plowing and the farmer went about his chores. When he returned after several hours to check on the boy's progress, he was shocked to find instead of straight rows something that looked like a question mark. The boy had obeyed his father's instructions. He had fixed his eyes on something at the other side of the field -- a cow. Unfortunately, the cow had moved!

God’s word tells us in Colossians 3:1-2 “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.”

When my eyes are set on Christ and those whose lifetime of service prove they were following him then I will be steadfast in my duty
Transition: Paul now moves from Love and Duty to Sacrifice

Exhortation to Christian Sacrifice Hebrews 13:10-15

We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle. For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp. Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come. By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.

Paul Exhorts to Look To The altar of Christ not the Altar of the Tabernacle

The Hebrew Christians had an altar and it was not the altar of the Tabernacle where the sacrifice of the animals on Yom Kippur took place. Where their blood was taken within the sanctuary, behind the veil. While the bodies of the animals were taken outside the sancturary and burned.

But Jesus was offered and suffered God’s wrath outside the camp, away from the temple and outside the approval of the Jewish religion of the day. There on Mt Calvary on a Roman cross His blood was offered before the presence of God.

The Hebrew’s altar now is Jesus and only they need to go to Him not just outside of the tabernacle sanctuary, nor even outside the tabernacle court but completely outside the camp, outside of the legalism and working for salvation of their religion.

Vs. 10 he says “We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle.”
They have no right because they do not know Christ and only those who do know Him as Lord and savior can come to the altar of Christ and worship Him.

Paul then exhorts the Hebrews to “go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.”

The Hebrews are urged to go to Christ no matter what the cost in shame and humiliation, bear his reproach as He bore theirs on Calvary.

Vs. 14 The reason he tells them they should go forth is because they don’t have a “continuing city” a permanent place to dwell on this earth but like Abraham of old “we seek one to come”
Until then they should “offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.”

The altar of Christ for us.

The exhortation is the same for us as it was for the Hebrews, “Go forth therefore unto him without the camp.” We are to seek to worship Christ at an altar that the organized religions of this world have no right to worship at. We came not to this altar because of any religion, including Baptist, but we came because Christ bore our reproach outside the camp. Real worship of Jesus Christ is not due to our being Baptist but is due to our coming to Jesus day after day to worship Him.

If our worship is encompassed solely in the confines of any denomination than we have not gone outside the camp but have confined our experience of Jesus to the restrictions of a denomination and a denomination can’t worship God. Only those who have experienced salvation can truly worship at that altar.

And just as the Hebrews of Paul’s time we must remember that we do not have a permanent dwelling place here on this earth. We should remember that we are still Hebrews, in that sense, wanderers in this world looking for that city whose builder and founder is God.

And as we travel through this world we must “offer the sacrifice of praise continually to God” wherever we go following Him.  We look for that city because of the one who loved us and saved us dwells there. We long for heaven not because it is our destination but because being with Him is our destiny.

Illustration: Pilgrim Enters Heaven

Now I saw in my dream, that these two men went in at the gate; and lo, as they entered, they were transfigured; and they had raiment put on that shone like gold. There were also those that met them with harps and crowns, and gave them to them; the harps to praise withal, and the crowns in token of honour.  Then I heard in my dream, that all the bells in the City rang again for joy; and that it was said unto them, "Enter ye into the joy of your Lord." I also heard the men themselves, that they sang with a loud voice, saying, "Blessing, honour, glory, and power, be to him that sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb for ever and ever"

Now, just as the gates were opened to let in the men, I looked in after them: and behold, the City shone like the sun: the streets also were paved with gold; and in them walked many men, with crowns on their heads, palms in their hands, and golden harps to sing praises withal. There were also of them that had wings; and they answered one another without intermission, saying, "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord!" And after that they shut up the gates, which when I had seen, I wished myself among them.
Exhortations To Christian Service Hebrews 13:16-17

But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.  Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.
Sacrifice by Serving and Submitting

He says, “don’t forget to do good and to share, for God is pleased with such sacrifices. Obey those who rule over you and submit yourselves to them for they watch for your souls. They must give account and by your obedience and submission they can do this with joy and not with grief for that grief is not good for you.

Going outside the camp, going to Christ means sacrificing and sharing.
First Paul says, as he winds up the letter, do good. That’s it just simply do good. The, secondly communicate that word means to share and finally obey your pastors. In this context it means to heed them as them point out the commands of God from His word.
Christian Service is not complicated

Yet, we often seem to have problems with such simple plain truths.
Why should it be hard for us to do good, to help others, to show kindness, to not hurt or offend?
How difficult is it for us to share that which God has given us?
Whether a person is lost or saved we should be able to give some of the things we have to those who don’t have anything or have a need at this time.

Perhaps the most difficult of all is obey.
Paul spells it out. “Obey them who rule over you for they watch for your souls.”
How many churches would have been blessed if God’s people had just listened to Paul and to those that God has given to warn, teach and lead us?

Paul says they give account to God and if there is no obedience and no submission from those they lead then their service is with grief and not with joy.

Conclusion Paul’s Goodbye Hebrews 13:18-25

Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly. But I beseech you the rather to do this, that I may be restored to you the sooner. Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. And I beseech you, brethren, suffer the word of exhortation: for I have written a letter unto you in few words  Know ye that our brother Timothy is set at liberty; with whom, if he come shortly, I will see you.  Salute all them that have the rule over you, and all the saints. They of Italy salute you. Grace be with you all. Amen. Written to the Hebrews from Italy, by Timothy.

Paul finishes his letter to the Hebrews

Paul asks for the prays of the Hebrews on his behalf.
Being persuaded that he has a good conscience in all things willing to live honestly.
But even more so pray for me that I may be restored to you sooner. Paul desired that they pray for him to see them again.

Then Paul prays for the Hebrews.
Vs. 20 Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

He begins his prayer in praise and he ends it in praise and in between he prays for God’s blessing though Jesus Christ for them.

Finally, he entreats them to accept the exhortation he has written to them it was only a small portion of what could have been written. He hopes to travel with Timothy to come and see them. He give greetings to their pastors and all the saints and send greetings from the Italians who are with him. Then he closes with a blessing. Grace be with you all. Amen.

Our Conclusion

As we leave this service and the book of Hebrews this morning can we reach out and spiritually grab hold of what the Holy Spirit through Paul is telling us?
Can we live our best live as a Child of God? Can we live in the love of God in all things? Can we show the best life in our Christian duty? Can we use our best life in sacrifice? And can we give service to those God has place in our lives to make them the best.

Do you really want the best live that can possibly be lived this side of glory? Then here are the elements and they can only be in your life through that wonderful grace of God that Paul returned again and again to in the book of Hebrews. “Let us have grace”
I pray you have that grace this morning.

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