Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Hebrews Chapter 9: We are not our own

Hebrews 9:1-3  Then indeed, even the first covenant had ordinances of divine service and the earthly sanctuary.  (2)  For a tabernacle was prepared: the first part, in which was the lampstand, the table, and the showbread, which is called the sanctuary;  (3)  and behind the second veil, the part of the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of All,

Hello, everyone.  I think we are going to spend a little time in Hebrews 9.  Today, we are just going to take the first few verses and we will go from there.  Above, we see the first little bit of the description of the floor plan of the earthly tabernacle.  Services were held in the first part of the tabernacle and once a year only the priest went behind the veil into the Holiest of All and made sacrifices for himself and the people for sins that were committed out of ignorance (verse 6-7).  The full description of the temple that is referenced here can be found in Exodus 26:31-35.  

Let's talk about the veil in the temple for a moment.  

Matthew 27:50-51  And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.  (51)  Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split,

With Jesus death, the temple was destroyed, and the veil that separated the Holiest of All (or the Holy of Holies), was torn from top to bottom, rendering it useless a barrier to the rest of the temple.  With the shedding of the blood of the Final Lamb of Sacrifice, there is no longer separation from the dwelling place of the Presence and Spirit of the Lord.  We have access to both without the barrier in place....because we are that place.   

1 Corinthians 6:19-20  Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?  (20)  For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's.

Now, we are the temple, our bodies are the place the Holy Spirit now dwells. As a result of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we no belong to ourselves, we belong to Him.  Our bodies belong to Him.  Verse 20 in 1 Corinthians 6 above says it clearly, we were bought at a price.  We were ransomed out of the darkness through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who is truly our Savior.  And because He ransomed us, bought us back, we are to glorify God in our body, and in our Spirit, both of which are God's.

Romans 14:7-8  For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself.  (8)  For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord's.

How are we to conduct ourselves as temples of the Holy Spirit?  We have access to the Holiest of All, with no separation or barrier, but what does that mean for us?  

Romans 12:1  I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

How do we present ourselves as a living sacrifice, the temple of the living God? 

1 Peter 1:13-19  Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;  (14)  as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance;  (15)  but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct,  (16)  because it is written, "BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY."  (17)  And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear;  (18)  knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers,  (19)  but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.

1 Corinthians 6:17-18  But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.  (18)  Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.

There is more at stake with our sin and sexual immorality than the weight the world, and many Christians, place on it.  We are the temples of God.  His Spirit now dwells within us without barrier to the holiest place.  Notice above what I have highlighted, bolded, and underlined in blue above.  We are joined to the Lord and are one spirit with Him.  He is holy, and by dwelling within us has called us holy as well.  Our conduct should be reflecting a certain level of reverence for a God who sacrificed His Son for us so He could live within us and be One with us. Are you thankful for the blood Jesus shed that tore the barrier to the presence of God for us? It is precious and valuable, and shed from One who knew no sin, but hanging on the tree became the curse for us.  Now that we are redeemed and children of the Most High God, we are to leave former behaviors behind, including the lusts of our former selves...which are dead now that we are New Creations in Him, right?

Except, instead of saying new creations, Peter said, do not conform to your former lusts as in your ignorance.  We were ignorant of these things prior to the revelation of Jesus Christ in our lives.  Now, we have been given the Holy Spirit, which

John 16:13  However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.

If the Holy Spirit will guide us into all truth and He dwells within us, then we are responsible for those truths that are revealed to us.  We are no longer our own, but belong to Christ.  We are to live as though we do.  We are to speak as though we do.  We are to honor, glorify and magnify God as though we do.  We are to leave our ignorance behind, and follow the paths of truth that we are being led through.  

Tomorrow, we will pick up with the rest of Chapter 9, God willing.  In the meantime, Join our discussion on Facebook.  Have a wonderful day. 

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Hebrews 8:13: The Old Passed Away

Hebrews 8:13  In that He says, "A NEW COVENANT," He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.

The above verse has been a source of controversy among some theologians and many Christians that I know.  It is funny how something so small, yet so significant, can cause many heated debates.  This morning, I want to look at the above verse from the standpoint of scripture.  We looked yesterday and saw that again the writer of Hebrews said the Law given to Moses was ineffectual for redemption of sins and that Jesus was the final sacrifice as He was called the Lamb of God, for every person.  The writer in Hebrews says the first covenant was made obsolete with the establishment of the New Covenant.  The word obsolete in the original Greek means: to make worn out, declare obsolete, decay, make old.  I believe that pretty well established that the Law was old and of no use anymore with the coming of the New Covenant.  

The controversy comes in because of Matthew 5:17 and 18.

Matthew 5:17-18  "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.  (18)  For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.

Jesus Himself said He did not come to this Earth to destroy the law that was given to Moses, or the words of the Prophets, which were from God.  He came to fulfill what the Law was intended to do for the people.  Fulfill in the original Greek here means:  to satisfy, to finish, to complete, to perfect.  And perhaps my favorite definition of the word: to level up. 

I have two gamer sons.  They love their video games.  My husband and I have an online game we will like to play with people all over the world.  In game speak, when a character in the game is "leveled up" the character is stronger, has better benefits than the level before, if it is a fighting game, then it has access to better, stronger, more powerful weapons, and the character does not go back to the level prior or a weaker state.  

So, in considering Jesus' fulfillment of the law, He completed the requirements of the old covenant as the final sacrifice for all of us.  He satisfied the requirement for punishment of sins (the wages of sin is death...Romans 6:23).  There is no more need for sacrifice for sins because He was the final Lamb of sacrifice.  Now, under the New Covenant, we are to be living sacrifices to Him (Romans 12:1). 

Before Jesus breathed His final breath, He said this:

John 19:30  So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, "It is finished!" And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.

Jesus was declaring that He had completed the requirement of the Old Covenant, and He gave up His spirit.  Finished in the original Greek means:  to complete, conclude, discharge a debt, finish, pay and make an end.  He finished the requirements of the Law.  With the completion of the Old Covenant, there is a New Covenant, just as God promised earlier in the chapter.  He is our God and we are His people.  He will write His law on our hearts. 

 Revelation 21:5  Then He who sat on the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new." And He said to me, "Write, for these words are true and faithful."

He makes all things new.  Why not establish a new covenant with His people?  New here means "new in freshness."  

Isaiah 43:19  Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness And rivers in the desert.

Don't stay bound up in the Old Covenant, thereby making Jesus' sacrifice for you ineffectual.  Look to the New thing God is doing in you and with you.  Do you recognize it?

2 Corinthians 5:17  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

In 2 Corinthians 5:17 above, "new" means "fresh and new" just as it does in Revelation 21:5.  We are new creations when we accept Him.  The old is gone.  To use my gaming analogy, isn't it better to be "leveled up" in Christ with access to all He has and all He is than to stay bound in sin and under the law?  In Him, we have access to new and better weapons to fight our enemies than we had in our sinful nature.  In fact, our weapons are Mighty in God to the pulling down of strongholds (2 Corinthians 10:4).  Beyond that, with His death, He disarmed the principalities and powers (Colossians 2:15). 

If Jesus completed the law, then something new had to start...because the old was finished and there was nothing else to do with it, right?  One of the reasons we are baptized in water is so that we have an outward expression of what has happened to us spiritually.  Our Old Man has died, and we are raised out of the water a New Man, just as Jesus has done with us and made us New Creations!  As a new creation, He also removed our heart of stone and gave us a heart of flesh.  

Ezekiel 36:26-27  I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.  (27)  I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.

Can we have a better promise under the New Covenant established by a Merficul Father through the sacrifice of His Only Son than to be made new with a new heart, new spirit?  The completion of the Old Covenant brings forward the opportunity for a personal relationship with our God the people did not have under the Old Covenant.  NO more does the priest have to go in the presence of the Lord on our behalf.  We can enter His presence! We have the same Spirit that raised Jesus Christ from the dead living within us...and all that He has He will give to us.  Those are just a few of the benefits of a New Covenant. 

So, today, give thanks to the Lord for He is good and His mercies endure forever!  

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Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Hebrews Chapter 8: A New Covenant Established

So, Hebrews Chapter 8 begins this way:

Hebrews 8:1-2  Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens,  (2)  a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man.

I have emphasized in bold and italics what caught my attention.  It sounds a lot like a summary, right? The writer could have easily said, "In conclusion..."  So, in previous chapters we have had a review of why Jesus' sacrifice was the better way for salvation and redemption of sins.  Now, in Chapter 8, the writer is saying "everything else was just a copy, or shadow, of the original, who is Jesus Christ. We see in verse 1 that Jesus is exalted as He takes His place at the right hand of the throne of God. Verse 2 talks about the service He performs as a High Priest.  Remember, the priests were descended from the tribe of Levi with the responsibility to perform sacrifices in the tabernacle for the people and their sins.  So, just as the Levitical priests had sacrifices to make, Jesus as The High Priest also had a sacrifice He had to make.  He gave His life as the final sacrifice for all.  

Hebrews 8:4-6  For if He were on earth, He would not be a priest, since there are priests who offer the gifts according to the law;  (5)  who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, "SEE THAT YOU MAKE ALL THINGS ACCORDING TO THE PATTERN SHOWN YOU ON THE MOUNTAIN."  (6)  But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.

The Levitical priests offered sacrifices according to the law, which the writer says was a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. But through Jesus Perfect and Final Sacrifice of His life for ours, He has "obtained a mroe excellent ministry."  He is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established (built upon) better promises.  What better promises could we have through the ministry of Jesus Christ than these:
  • A friend who sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24)
  • An ever present help in time of need (Psalm 46:1)
  • An endless Provider (1 Timothy 6:17)
  • A strong tower (Proverbs 18:10)
  • Mighty Warrior (Isaiah 9:6)
  • Wonderful Counselor (Isaiah 9:6)
  • Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6)
  • Merciful God (Micah 7:19)
And He is so much more...

We have seen several times so far in Hebrews a recurring theme:  The Law given to Moses was only a foreshadowing of the covenant that was to be established by Christ through His death and resurrection.  The Law was imperfect and its priests could not offer lasting remediation for sin.  The people had to continually offer sacrifices for their sins. Under the new covenant, our High Priest, Jesus Christ,provided the final sacrifice once...and for all of us.  

Look at verses 7 thru 12.  The first covenant, the Law given to Moses, had some fault because if not, there would have been no reason for Jesus to be born, live, minister to the people, be beaten and crucified, die, rise again, and ascend to the right hand of the Father.  None of that would have been necessary if the law had been able to provide the salvation forevermore and unto eternal life that Jesus provides for us.  

In verses 8-12, the writer quotes Jeremiah 31:31-34.  God said that He would establish a new covenant with Israel not like the one they did not keep, but a new and different covenant:  He said He would put His laws in their minds and write them on their hearts.  He would be their God and they would be His people.  Everyone would have the opportunity to know Him.  He would be merciful to our unrighteousness and would not remember our sins and lawlessness anymore.  

Isn't it wonderful we have the opportunity to know our God personally?  We can go directly to Him and kneel at His feet with nothing between Him and us?  Not only do we go to directly to Him, but when Jesus ascended into Heaven, He sent us a Helper.  

John 16:7-14  Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.  (8)  And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:  (9)  of sin, because they do not believe in Me;  (10)  of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more;  (11)  of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.  (12)  "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.  (13)  However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.  (14)  He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.

What a great fulfillment of promise!  God said He would make a new covenant with the people, and He did through the sacrifice of His Son.  He also fulfilled the promise that said He would put His laws into the hearts and minds of the people.  Look at the verses in John 16.  The Helper, the Holy Spirit, comes to convict the world of sin and righteouness and judgment and of sin.  Jesus also said,

Matthew 5:27-28  "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY.'  (28)  But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Jesus even said the law now was based in the heart, instead of the tablets of the commandments.  Not only is the physical act of adultery a sin, but just looking upon a woman (or man) with lust as though we wish to complete the physical act, is a sin and is considered the same as though we have committed the act itself.  The Holy Spirit is with us to help provide that compass of right and wrong, sin and righteousness, and reveal all the things of Jesus to us.  The Holy Spirit is a Helper that will help us to keep our eyes forward and on Jesus.  

Psalms 105:4-6  Seek the LORD and His strength; Seek His face evermore!  (5)  Remember His marvelous works which He has done, His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth,  (6)  O seed of Abraham His servant, You children of Jacob, His chosen ones!

Don't you love the Psalms?  I do.  This Psalm speaks to exactly what we have been talking about the last couple of months, doesn't it?  Seek the Lord, His strength and remember what He has done!  So, have you written in our journal the things the Lord has done for you under this new and better covenant?  

Tomorrow, we will cover the last verse of chapter 8.  There is much infomation packed into just that one verse.  

Have a wonderful day, today my friends, and join our discussion on Facebook.