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Themes in Hebrews – Lesson 6

01/04/2012

Themes in Hebrews
Lesson 6

Faith’s Definition
Text: Hebrews 11:1-3, 13
This is the roll-call of the great heroes of faith in the OT. Now all of these men and women had something in common. They were all STRANGERS & PILGRIMS in the world. The Hebrew writer states: These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. Hebrews 11:13. You see, they had staked their claim in heaven, that’s where their treasure was laid up, and that is where their citizenship is held.

But there is another and more obvious link connecting them all. That is the fact that each of them was characterised by their great faith. Now there we must be careful, that we do not gaze on these great OT heroes with wonder and admiration, and in a measure of theoretical detachment. Faith is not something that is confined to just these great, well-known heroes. This passage is written to inspire us! Let’s just get this ‘great faith’ issue into perspective. Jesus said, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain. Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Matthew 17:20 And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamore tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you. Luke 17:6.

So, when we speak of these men and women of great faith, remember that it was not ‘their faith’ that achieved great things; rather it was the great God in whom they had this faith! Naturally, the writer begins the chapter with a definition of faith, and I believe that this may well be the only actual ‘definition’ of faith in the whole of the Bible!

1 The WORDS of Faith.
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Now, we need first of all to note the words that Hebrews uses to help us to understand the nature of faith. There are two defining terms used, SUBSTANCE AND EVIDENCE:-

* Faith is SUBSTANCE. Faith is the substance of things hoped for. The word substance is the Greek hypostasis and it is only used 5 times in NT. Once translated as ‘person’ 3 times as ‘confidence.’ In 2 Tim 3:16 it translates as ‘for reproof. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 2 Tim. 3:16. Scripture is FOR ‘CONVICTION’ for teaching people what is true and showing them that it IS true. It can be translated as ‘assurance’ or ‘confirmation’ or ‘title-deed.’ A ‘substance’ is something YOU HAVE – a possession. Let’s just reason this out, and clarify the Biblical teaching on what the Bible says about the faith that we HAVE, and how we obtain it:

Faith is something that we do not possess ourselves. We can’t work it up, or search for it or find it within ourselves, or manufacture itself. Now, turn in your Bible to Ephesians 2:8 Faith is the gift of God! Paul notes this is Ephesians. He argues that as sinners, we are dead in Christ, and we cannot bring ourselves to life. And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Ephes. 2:1 We can do nothing about our lostness, for we are walking in the ways of this world and we are under its sway! Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Ephes. 2:2. We are in terrible danger of God’s wrath! Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others Ephes. 2:3. But in order to be saved, to have Christ dwell within us, we need to have faith! What can we do! We need faith to believe, and we don’t have any natural resource of faith on which to draw!
The situation seems hopeless, but God steps in! Listen again to Paul, But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) Ephes 2:4-5 Now Paul explains that the very faith we need, to believe in Christ, to accept God’s grace, to know His Son as Redeemer and to have our sins forgiven, is actually imparted to us by God himself!! Faith is GOD’S GIFT TO HIS PEOPLE! For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God’ Not of works, lest any man should boast Ephes. 2:8-9.

Now, get this fact established in your mind right at the very start. Faith is not human ability, or human works or human will or human decision. Faith is GOD’S GIFT, given to His people! Now, when we have this God-given faith, it is a guarantee, a down-payment of heaven! It is the substance of things hoped for! Knowing that God has given us this faith in him, will assure us that he will complete the work he has begun, and bring us home to him. Amp. NOW FAITH is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality Christ dwells in the soul by faith, and the soul is filled with the fullness of God.

* Faith is EVIDENCE, the evidence of things not seen.
Matthew Henry; Faith demonstrates to the eye of the mind the reality of those things that cannot be discerned by the eye of the body. Faith is the firm assent of the soul to the divine revelation and every part of it, and sets to its seal that God is true. It is a full approbation of all that God has revealed as holy, just, and good; it helps the soul to make application of all to itself with suitable affections and endeavours; and so it is designed to serve the believer instead of sight, and to be to the soul all that the senses are to the body. That faith is but opinion or fancy which does not realize invisible things to the soul, and excite the soul to act agreeably to the nature and importance of them, Amp: faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses.

So, faith is both an act and a possession of the thing believed in. It is believing and trusting in what actually exists, and which we can possess. We may not be able to see it, but we can actually possess the very substance of it by believing. Biblical faith is the knowledge, experience and possession of things hoped for! Something we have, something we know.

2. The WITNESS of Faith.
For by it the elders obtained a good report. Elders here are the ancient believers, who lived in the first ages of the world. This faith, that has always been the possession of true believers in every age, will be a testimony to others, and will be reported and observed, both now and in eternity.

3. The WORLD and Faith.
Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, Now, here the apostle introduces a practical application of what he has been teaching us about faith.

By Faith we UNDERSTAND CREATION! It is through faith that we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God. It is one of the things that we have not seen, but which faith will help us to understand. Now look at this word UNDERSTAND. It is voso, and it means to perceive with the mind, to understand, to know a true fact! We did not witness creation. But we have this faith, this internal witness to God and His Word and His Plan, so we know that God did it!
The Word also declares, “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God”.

By Faith we UNDERSTAND CREATION’S ORIGIN! There is another great aspect to this doctrine of Creation. Not only did God create the world, but HE CREATED IT OUT OF NOTHING! Creation Ex Nihilo! so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. We have here one of the first acts and articles of faith, which has a great influence on all the rest, and which is common to all believers in every age and part of the world, namely, the creation of the worlds by the word of God, not out of pre-existent matter, but out of nothing, One commentator points out the importance of this doctrine for the days in which the letter was written. Hebs. was aiming a blow at the popular philosophies and beliefs of his day. It was the current belief that matter was flawed, and that therefore from the beginning this is a flawed world because it is made from flawed material. The Hebrew author refutes this. This world was not made out of existing, evil matter, it was made by God, and it was made out of nothing! This is God’s world, and God is responsible for it, and everything in it belongs to him. And even we it doesn’t look like it, God is in control of this world. “When we accept that this is God’s World there comes a new sense of responsibility for us, and a new acceptance of the unexplainable things that happen in it, for it belongs to god and it is all in His hands”.

By Faith we LOOK BACK as well as FORWARD! We always seem to think of faith as being something that is present, for we exercise it right now, as we believe in God and trust in Him, or is future, in that we have faith in God for the future, but faith has a retrospective aspect! True faith looks not only forward to the end of the world, but back to the beginning of the world. By faith we understand much more of the formation of the world than ever could be understood by scientist who relies only by what he considers logical explanation Matthew Henry said, ‘Faith is not a force upon the understanding, but a friend and a help to it.’ Now what does faith help us to understand concerning the worlds.

That these worlds were not eternal, nor did they produce themselves, but they were made by another.
That the maker of the worlds is god; he is the maker of all things; and whoever is so must be God.
That he made the world with great exactness; it was a framed work, in every thing duly adapted and disposed to answer its end, and to express the perfections of the Creator,
That God made the world by his word, that is, by his essential wisdom and eternal Son, and by his active will, saying, Let it be done, and it was done, For he spake, and it -was done; he commanded, and it stood fast Psalm 33:9
That the world was thus framed out of nothing, out of no pre-existent matter, contrary to the received saying, that “out of nothing – nothing can be made,” which can have no place with God, who can call things that are not as if they were, and command them into being.

These things we understand by faith. The Bible gives us the truest and most exact account of the origin of all things, and we are to believe it, and not to run down the scripture account of the creation, because it does not go well with some improbable assumption of our own, such assumptions which have led learned men into rejecting God and the Gospel, and has been the first step to atheism.

So, this is an illustration of what faith is. I know that God created the world out of nothing, but how do I know, when I did not see it. God has told me so, in a well accredited revelation which I believe, and by believing His Word, or by faith, I understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God!

Abraham – An Example of Faith
Text: Hebrews 11:8-10
Abraham’s faith was tested at least twelve specific times. Some of them were not what we might call big tests, but together they establish a picture of Abraham as a person whose faith was genuine.

Genesis 12:1-7 Abraham left Ur for an unknown destination at God’s direction. Application: Do I trust God with my future? Is his will part of my decision making?
Genesis 13:8-13 Abraham directed a peaceful separation from Lot and settled at the oaks of Mamre. Application: Do I trust God with my interests even when I seem to be receiving an unfair settlement?
Genesis 14:13-18: Abraham rescued Lot from the five kings. Application: Does my faithfulness to others bear witness to my trust in God’s faithfulness?
Genesis 14:17-24: Abraham gave a tithe of loot to the godly king of Salem, Melchizedek, and refused the gift of the king of Sodom. Application: Am I watchful in my dealings with people that I give proper honour to God and refuse to receive honour that belongs to him?
Genesis 15:1-6 Abraham trusted God’s promise that he would have a son. Application: How often do I consciously reaffirm my trust in God’s promises?
Genesis 15:7-11 Abraham received the promised land by faith, though the fulfilment would not come for many generations. Application: How have I demonstrated my continued trust in God during those times when I have been required to wait?
Genesis 17:9-27 At God’s command, Abraham circumcised every male in his family. Application: In what occasions in my life have I acted simply in obedience to God, and not because I understood the significance of what I was doing?
Genesis 18:1-8 Abraham welcomed strangers, who turned out to be angels. Application: When was the last time I practiced hospitality?
Genesis 18:22-33 Abraham prayed for Sodom. Application: Am I eager to see people punished, or do I care for people in spite of their sinfulness?
Genesis 20:1-17 Abraham admitted to wrongdoing and took the actions needed to set things right. Application: When I sin, is my tendency to cover up, or confess? Do I practice the truth that an apology must sometimes be accompanied by restitution?
Genesis 21:22-34 Abraham negotiated a treaty with Abimelech concerning a well. Application: Can people depend on my
words and promises?
Genesis 22:1-12 Abraham prepared to sacrifice his son Isaac. Application: In what ways has my life demonstrated that I will not allow anything to come before God?

After the last of these, God said, “Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son” (Genesis 22:12). Now, we must look at what Hebrews has to say about the first of these great tests of faith, Abraham’s journey of faith. Abraham believed God, and he forsook everything for God and he went where God directed; he considered himself a stranger and he looked for a more permanent, more fixed more abiding habitation! Consider:-

Abraham’s Beholding of Heaven!
For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God Hebrews 11:8-10 Now, what do we learn from this land to which Abraham was travelling?

Heaven is a city! The description given of heaven: it is a city, a regular society, well established, well defended, and well supplied: it is a city that has foundations. A lasting city, compared with the cities of this world. It is built on the promises of an everlasting covenant, its own purity, and the perfection of its inhabitants: and it is a city whose builder and maker is God. He invented the model; he made it, and he has provided the way into it, and he has prepared it for his people; he puts them into possession of it.

Heaven is a city to be sought after! Do you see the diligence of Abraham here? He looked for this heavenly city! He believed there was such a place and he waited for it, and in the mean time he claimed his right to it by faith; he had exalted and rejoicing hopes, that in God’s time and way he should be brought safely to it.

Heaven influenced his earthly life! Throughout all the trials of his journey, Abraham had the comfort and support of the knowledge that he would one day be in heaven! That knowledge helped him patiently to bear all the inconveniences of the way, and to faithfully carry out all his duties to his God!

Abraham looked for heaven! What are we looking for? Jesus said, But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Matthew 6:33

Faith Worked Out!
Text: Hebrews 11:11-22

1. Faith Receives Promises from God!
This is our first lesson, that faith is based on God’s promises to us, and is a gift from God. Hebrews 11:11-12
2. Faith Offers Our Most Treasured Possessions to God! Lesson 2 – When God Gives us Faith, we will respond by laying down our all for him! Hebrews 11:17-19. Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from whence also he received him in a figure. The trial followed the fulfilment of the promise! he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, It’s almost as if he was being asked to cancel the promises of God, to prevent the coming of Christ, to destroy the whole world, to sacrifice his own soul and his hopes of salvation, and to cut off the chinch of God at one blow, for that’s what would have happened had Isaac died that day! What a severe trial!
3. Faith in God is a Blessing to Others! Lesson 3 – When we have God’s gift of faith, and have fully surrendered our lives to the Lord, we will be a blessing to others! Hebrews 11:20-22
Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau

Joseph blessed the Children of Israel!

Moses Makes a Choice!
Text: Hebrews 11:24-26.
Now, let me make one thing clear. In the light of the clear Biblical teaching on the doctrine of salvation, Moses chose Christ, because Christ has already chosen him! Listen very carefully to the words of Christ in John 15:16, Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.

He was speaking to his disciples! Now this is not just semantics on my part. This is important. We do decide for Christ, but it is not our decision for Christ that saves us, nor any other thing that WE do. What saves us is what Christ did for us on the cross, the effects of which are imputed to us through the work of the Holy Spirit, who calls us, convicts us, converts us, sanctifies us, adopts us. Salvation from beginning to end is God’s work, not ours!

1. The Choice Moses Made

– To identify with people whom society rejected! Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God
– To identify with Christ! Esteeming the reproach of Christ We will be vilified when we tell people that we are saved by his grace. We will be called bigots, and we will be compared with fundamentalist Islam, we will be misquoted and deliberately misunderstood. And we will expect nothing better! Our dear Saviour told us that this would happen, over and over again! Matthew 5:11, Blessed (happy, to be envied, and spiritually prosperous-with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favour and salvation, regardless of your outward conditions) are you when people revile you and persecute you and say all kinds of evil things against you falsely on My account (Amp.) Despite all of this, and fully aware of the consequences, Moses chose to follow the Messiah!

2. The Calculation that Moses Made. He considered the contempt and abuse and shame (borne for) the Christ (the Messiah Who was to come) to be greater wealth than all the treasures of Egypt, for he looked forward and away to the reward (recompense).

I need you to see in this text that when Moses realised that God had drawn him to His church, revealed Christ to Him and caused him to respond by taking the Cross upon himself and following, It was not just some flight of fancy, or the product of some idealistic enthusiasm. There are two very important motivating factors in what Moses did that day… It was based upon SAVING FAITH! By faith Moses. It’s important to remember what we learned about faith. Saving faith is God’s gift, not something we work up in ourselves, for as sinners we are dead in our sins and totally unable to save ourselves! For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God’ Not of works, lest any man should God had imparted faith to Moses… and Moses could do nothing other than to respond! It was a perfectly RATIONAL thing to do. for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward Moses knew of the prophesies and promises connected with the faith and service of the Lord God. He weighed up the options. On the one hand were the glories and grandeurs and riches and enjoyments of Egypt that would last till the day he died, and then would perish away and he would be lost forever. On the other hand were the trials and toils and cross-bearing of the believer, with the prospect of heaven for all of eternity. Which would he choose? Is there any real choice?

Why Did They Do It?
Text: Hebrews 11:30-40
Now, what is Hebrews about? It is a plea, made to Jewish Christians, to encourage them to remain fast in their faith, and not to go back to their old religion, not to go back to the legalism and the ritual, outward worship, and the dead works that accompany it. To encourage them to take that very important and difficult stand, against all the pressure that was being applied to them, Hebrews makes the basic point that Jesus is far better than anything that ever when before. He sets it out like this:

Christians have a more superior PERSON! He is better than the OT prophets, better than the angels, better than Moses (the hero of the OT – the chief prophet of the old Covenant), better than Aaron. Hebrews makes all of these comparisons in chapters 1-6, and concludes that there is no-one in the Jewish faith who can match the matchless Christ!

Christians have a superior PRIESTHOOD! Hebrews compares the OT priesthood with the Great High priesthood of Christ. He concludes that the priesthood of Christ is far superior! Hebrews 10:11-14 And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified So Jesus has a superior order, a superior covenant, a superior sanctuary, and he made a superior sacrifice!

Christians have a superior PRINCIPLE! The principle of faith. In Chapter 11, Hebrews has given us some great examples of faith. The writer has been very careful to show that the faith of the OT saints is faith that looks forward to Christ! Without Jesus, the faith of the OT saints would have been totally in vain. Did you notice something interesting about the stories of Moses that we have been looking at over the last few weeks? Hebrews reminds us of the great events of Moses’ life. His birth, and his amazing preservation, his great decision to align himself with God’s people, despite the terrible cost, his controversy with Pharaoh and his keeping of the Passover, his victory at the red Sea! It’s a great account of a real hero – it’s the stuff of adventure books! But what’s missing? Surely one of the greatest events of Moses’ life – His receipt of the Law at Mt. Sinai! Now Hebrews does mention this, For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the Hood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people, Hebrews 9:19, but its NOT mentioned in chapter 11!

Why not? Steve Motyer, commenting here says, “Hebrews wants to make Moses an example of New Covenant faith, the kind of faith he wants his readers to have – not faith in the law, but faith in Christ!” So Christians have a superior principle of religion, salvation is by FAITH IN CHRIST, not by slavish attempted adherence to a law which they cannot keep.

So, that is what Hebrews is all about? It’s summed up in the warning of 10:38-39 Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul Hebrews 10:38-39. At the end of his section on Moses, Hebrews gives us an astonishing list of the miracles and divine interventions and blessings which the OT saints experienced, and the trials, hardships and martyrdoms that the OT saints endured, all for the sake of faith, which in their day was not yet fully understood and without the church the body of Christ could not, in their day, be fully appropriated. Let’s look at this passage:-

1 The Valiant Deeds of Faith!
There is not enough time for the author to describe the faith of others in detail, people such as: Judges like Gideon, Barak, Samson, and Jephthah, a king like David, a prophet like Samuel, and the rest of the prophets! Look briefly at verses 32-35:- Through faith, people such as these…
“Subdued kingdoms” (Joshua in conquered Palestine, David, in conquering neighbouring nations)
“Worked righteousness” (administered justice – Samuel, as judge, David, as king, Solomon, as king) They
“Obtained promises” (The nation of Israel, receiving the promised land)
“Stopped the mouths of lions” (Samson – David, protecting sheep – Daniel, in the lions’ den) They
“Quenched the violence of fire” (Shadrach, Meshach, Abed-nego, in the fiery furnace) They
“Escaped the edge of the sword” (David, fleeing King Saul – Elijah, fleeing Jezebel – Elisha, whom the King of Israel wanted
murdered)
“Out of weakness were made strong” (Samson, after his hair was cut – Hezekiah, who was given fifteen years of life)
“Became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of aliens” (David, in defeating Goliath – Jehoshaphat, in defeating Edom – Hezekiah, whose faith led to the slaughter of 185,000 Assyrian soldiers – 2 Kin 19:1-36). Also through faith…
“Women received their dead raised to life again.” (The widow of Zarephath, via Elijah – The Shunamite woman, via Elisha) Now over against that, Hebrews reminds us of:-

2. The Vigorous Determination of Faith!
Look at verse 35-38 to see what these people who took a stand for faith had to endure…
“Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, to obtain a better resurrection” Now here Hebrews is speaking about the period in between the two testaments… (Eleazar, in the Maccabean period between the Testaments) Also, seven brothers and their mother tortured by Antiochus Epiphanes) These events would have been well known by the Hebrew readers. Others had:-
Trials of mockings. Scourgings, chains and imprisonment” (Micaiah, the prophet – Jeremiah, the prophet) – Some were “Stoned” – (Zechariah, son of Jehoida the priest) – “Sawn in two” – (the prophet Isaiah, according to Tradition) “Tempted” -(Daniel, as a youth -)
Slain with the sword” – (Uriah the prophet -)

Some wandered about: “In sheepskins and goatskins” – (Elijah) “Being destitute, afflicted, tormented” – Elijah. They certainly did not obtain the praise of the world! Many had to wander in deserts and mountains, live in dens and caves (Elijah). But in truth, the world is not worthy of them!
So, it wasn’t just Moses who chose to suffer affliction with the people of God rather than enjoy the pleasures of the kingdoms of this world for a little season. God’s faithful people have always been persecuted, falsely accused, always been oppressed by this world when they stood up for Christ and the gospel. Jesus said it would happen and it does.
Matthew 5:11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake
Luke 21:12 But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name’s sake.
John 15:20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.
Now, what is the meaning of all this?

3. The Vindication & Development of Faith!
And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect Hebrews 11:39-40

* Their faith was vindicated! Not just in human records, but before God Almighty, their names were known and recorded. They obtained a good report! They obtained a good report (v. 39) of all good men, and of the truth itself, and have the honour to be enrolled in this sacred calendar of the Old-Testament worthies, who were God’s witnesses.
Matthew Henry states that “They even had a witness for them in the consciences of their enemies, who, while they thus abused them, were condemned by their own consciences, as persecuting those who were more righteous than themselves.”

There are two excellent examples of this vindication in the early verses of the chapter, Hebrews 11:2, For by it the elders obtained a good report Hebrews 11:5, By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God

Yet despite the fact that they were vindicated, they did not obtain “the promise” during their lifetime. They did receive some of the promises, such as the promised land – cf. He 11:33. But they did not receive “the” promise. They did not live to see the coming of the promised Deliverer (Christ) and nor did they experience the “perfection” which Christ now offers to us!

* Their faith was validated! The Law could not make them “perfect” – He 9:9-10; Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.
But Christ can! – cf. He 9:11-14; But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? Hebrews 9:9-14 What they did not receive during their lifetime, they did with the coming of Christ, for Christ died to redeem them as well as us! – He 9:15 And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance Hebrews 9:15. They are now made “perfect” just as we are – He 11:40; cf. 10:14; 12:22-24. Note the phrase “the spirits of just men made perfect” To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, Hebrew’s 12:23 Those who in the past “should not be made perfect apart from us” are in Christ “made perfect”!

So, Hebrews makes his point once again. There is no point in Jewish Christians going back to their Judaism. Christianity is far better than anything that went before, indeed better than anything else in the world! Despite all the heroic deeds of the OT heroes, despite all their victories and all their trials, despite the range of God’s promises that they inherited, without Jesus they are incomplete and their faith is imperfect! To quote Hebrews again, God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect Without the church, the body of Christ, the OT men and women would not have been perfected, for perfection is only found in Christ, and heaven is only obtained in Christ. This is why it is ever so important to see that God only ever had one people, his elect, his Israel, his chosen ones, and ALL OF THEM are in heaven because of Jesus!

What about us, living today. Is there any practical application for us here too? Well, in this passage we see that through faith, they truly overcame the world…

Sometimes their victory was miraculous; often it was not their ultimate victory was that they “died in faith” – He 11:13-16 ~ And now, they enjoy the fruit of faith: heaven in the presence of the Lamb! – cf. Re 7:9-17. Through faith, we can also overcome the world… Faith in Jesus as the Son of God will give us the victory! – 1 Jn 5:4-5. Victory over the world’s temptations. Victory over the world’s persecutions. The victories we win may not be as impressive as those listed in this chapter, but when we are “faithful until death”, the reward will be the same! – cf. Re 2:10. Fear none of those things which thou shall suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life Rev. 2:10
May this great chapter with its heroes of faith, serve to motivate us to grow in the faith which…
* Pleases God! * Embraces The Promises! * Overcomes The World! We may not win the praise of the world, but we will receive the praise of God, and we will meet together in heaven with all of God’s people of every age!

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