Sunday, November 10, 2013

Hebrews 1: 1-4

HEBREWS 1: 1-4
HEB.1: God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high:
Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.

These verses speak with unmistakable clarity about the nature and glory of the Son of God. The use of the word “Son” sometimes gives us the mistaken impression that Jesus was subordinate in essence or that He was a created being coming from God the Father. That is a very great error which flies in the face of the overwhelming revelation contained in the New Testament and it smacks of Mormon theology. Jesus is eternal from time passed and into time future. The fairy tale heresy put forward by Mormon teaching is that Jesus was a product of a sexual relationship between the Father and some angel is not only preposterous, it denies the deity of Christ and places him as some lower case god.

Again, that is blasphemy. These verses refute anything resembling that kind of falsehood. Jesus Himself openly said that “ before Abraham I AM” which not only suggests He existed way before Abraham which would be way before Bethlehem, but the use of the Tetragrammaton “I AM” is a bold declaration of His eternal deity. HERE is an additional post which may help bring out that which is altogether necessary and indisputable for sound doctrine. It is most difficult to explain what we call the Trinity. It is such a mystery that the New Testament gives us only glimpses. But God reveals Himself in three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They are coequal and coexisting and coeternal and yet they are one. Here is where words dry up and wither. No one can really explain such a thing, but we do know that Jesus was God in the flesh and that the Spirit desires to have Him known as the Son of God.

But look at verse one. God has always spoken to mankind in many different ways. He spoke to Adam probably audibly. He spoke to Moses from within a burning bush. He spoke to Balaam through a donkey. And He spoke most often through His prophets. But the Spirit makes it clear that in these last days He speaks through His Son the Lord Jesus Christ. But how does He speak? Let us be careful here.

God speaks through His Son by speaking through and in conjunction with the written Word of God.  In these days where men are idolized it has become more and more popular for people to suggest that God spoke to them in ways that are uncommon to the rest of us. It is a subtle attempt to elevate one’s relationship with God and have others stand in awe of you intimacy with God. And often these personal communiqués go against the teachings of Scripture. It is very dangerous and often leads to grievous error. God’s written Word must always be the foundation and the conduit for hearing God’s voice. And when I say “hearing” I do not mean His audible voice but I mean the inward voice or witness of the Spirit.

But here again is where we must be careful. There are many charismatic leaning people who have learned to attribute a divine voice to almost anything they may feel or think. This is another dangerous ecclesiastical anomaly. It is another way to elevate one’s spiritual status and make people feel that you and God have an intimacy that is foreign to the rest of us. It is never of the Spirit when we attempt to make ourselves appear spiritual.

But having laid that foundation let me say that God can and does speak to our spirits. When we are filled with His Spirit and His Word we get nudges, inclinations, impressions, and sometimes direct communications that cannot really be explained. But that kind of communication is never so you can order someone else around or direct their ways. We can adequately give good and Biblical advise without that kind of inward communication. But the overwhelming majority of the time when the Spirit stirs within us in a way that can be described as speaking it is for our correction, our edification, and our spiritual benefit.

Verse two also reminds us the Jesus is the Creator as well. If we can speak in human terms, Jesus own everything. That is what is meant by the heir of all things. But when we read verse four we see a very great mystery. The verbiage is quite startling. It claims that Jesus is the “express image of his person”. What person? The Father God. And of course that echoes Jesus’ own words when he said, “If you have seen me you have seen the Father”. That mystery is commonly called the incarnation which means that God Himself came in the likeness of human flesh. Unpacking that mystery in bite sized morsels which can be consumed by the human intellect is impossible.

But the incarnation is a foundational truth of the faith. No true expression of the Christian faith denies the complete deity of Jesus Christ. If some offshoot or denomination states that Jesus became a god or that God was so pleased with Jesus the man that He elevated him to a god-like status that is not Christian. In fact no true expression of the faith even questions the eternal deity of Jesus Christ. And that is why cults like Mormonism or the Jehovah’s Witnesses are so dangerous. They still used the name of Jesus and of Christ, but they have altered the way the Bible teaches concerning His deity. In short they deny that Jesus was the eternal God just as was the Father and the Spirit.

Now the implications of tampering with the deity of Christ are profound and the most serious of all. Almost all cults mangle and manipulate this doctrine in order to fit into their overall falsehood. If Jesus was not fully God as was the Father then that constricts the redemption of the cross. It also implies that we could ourselves live a sinless life just as He did. It makes redemption an act of God because He was impressed that a man would be so selfless and it ignores the essence of the divine blood that was shed upon the cross. And in many cases those who deny His deity also make the resurrection some kind of metaphor that suggests we all can have a new beginning or some other false nonsense.

But verses three and four reveal an arresting vision of Christ and His never ending majesty. So often we believe that God spoke the worlds into existence and then stretched out and watched as the universe moved and interacted and even existed now on its own. I would have had no problem with that scenario. But that is not what the Scriptures teach. Jesus is actively involved with everything that continues to happen even as it pertains to the material and non-organic universe. He not only created it but He has always sustained it “by the word of his power”.

And that phrase is very interesting. It brings into sharp focus the Word of God. There are other portions of Hebrews that deal with this subject but let us look here first. What is a “word”? Is it not a representation of something? In our human parlance it is a sound or sometimes a hand gesture which indicates a person, place, or thing or some kind of action. So when we say “tree” our minds think of that kind of tangible thing. The word is a sound specific representation of what we have seen and what we know is a tree. So that word is a communication device.

But what does the word “stop” mean? We all have heard our parents say “Stop!” to us and usually we have stopped whatever we were doing at that time. Why? Because their word had power over us. It just didn’t represent a cessation of some action, but it also contained a level of power. It had authority and just by saying that word without any physical force upon us we would stop. You see, that is power. When the president sings a bill which contains words it also contains power. All of us are bound to obey what the legislation states. When the general shouts “Go!” to his troops they all rush forward against the enemy. His word had power. Yes, it represented the action of attacking but without any power who would respond?

So God uses the term “word” in order for us to understand on our level His power. But remove it from the chains of the human experience and let us allow our understanding to rise much further. You see, God’s Word not only has power, but in reality it IS power. So God’s power is His Word and His Word is power. Yes, we can still say it has power and that would be true, but in all honesty His Word and His power are one. And that Word, that power is infinite in scope and in time and in measure. That is why when the Scriptures tell us that God spoke the world into existence we sometimes get this picture of God’s mouth saying something and there it was. And on our level that image is not wrong.

But there is still a great mystery of what we would call the mechanics of God speaking, but our Father has even provided His Word in written form for our benefit and instruction. God has spoken through this written Word and God continues to speak through this written Word. It is alive and it breathes and it is life. These ink and paper words called the Bible are also spirit. That is another wonderful mystery. Again the mechanics and inner workings of some of these things are quite beyond us, however once you have been the recipient of such workings you cannot deny that God’s Word has worked and continues to work in and through you. There is power in those written words which are not only an important and exclusive communication, but which are powerful in and of themselves. And one day every person ever born will be judged by those same words.

But one last point which we will deal with more extensively in future chapters. God’s Word is Jesus and Jesus is the Word. Yes, another great mystery but one which has innumerable implications and consequences. As you read the Scriptures some things begin to stick out at you. There are a voluminous number of gracious and comforting words that call us to redemption. The New Testament itself is overwhelmingly filled with words of redemption, grace, mercy, and love. And that describes Jesus as well because they are not only His words but they are Him. But then you read some startling and disquieting words that outline judgment and impending eternal doom. There is violence and death in those words. And yes, they also describe Jesus as well. And we must be aware that for now Jesus calls everyone to repent and believe. And like His earthly life He is gentle and redemptive and His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

But one day those other unpleasant words will rise to the surface and the Lord Jesus who is the embodiment of all of God’s Words, pleasant and seemingly unpleasant, will come as the Judge of all mankind. And then grace will be overshadowed by truth. And by that truth the world itself will fall under His judicial wrath. Yes, it will be a consuming fire. We will dig much deeper in a later lesson but for now let us lift high the Name and the Person of the Lord Jesus, praising Him for Who He is and what He has done, and spreading His gospel message throughout the world!


Anonymous said...

Great teaching, and of the 2008 post of "The Eternal Scandalon"


Cherie c. said...

In awe of the Lord and His Greatness. Having nothing else to say means I have learned something, but I cannot promise I won't have questions later on.

I am so grateful I can understand. How thinking about this brings overwhelming blessing. When one takes the time to read the Word, ponder it and have the Holy Spirit reveal its truth to you, it is a very humbling experience. I pray all can partake to the Word and the blessing that comes from hearing and seeing it.

You can't explain how you can understand it, you just know, that you know, that you know.

Praise God and all the Glory to Him!

your sister in Christ Jesus,
Cherie c.