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Message #8 from "NT70 - 70 Days through the New Testament" by Pastor Jeff MacLurg; Our Savior's Baptist Church, Federal Way, Wash. (www.oursaviorsbaptist.org); notes are mine from the 10:45 am service on Sunday, Aug. 28, 2011 - I pray they will be useful to you.
--- Hebrews is About ---
The BRILLIANCE of the Son. (Hebrews 1:1-3)
Running WELL toward the SON JESUS (Hebrews 12:1-3)
--- Who is this Son, Jesus? ---
God's tried all these different ways to get our attention - prophets, miracles, revelations - all leading up to God's final word. Even if you've never read the Old Testament, if you've never studied the Bible, when you come to know Jesus, you're coming to understand the final piece of God's plan.
* He is the FINAL STAGE in redemption's history (1:1-3)
* He is the God who became LIKE US in order to die for us (2:9-18).
So, he has all the same needs, desires, temptations, thresholds for pain, etc. He understands what it is like to be led toward sin, he suffered as he was drawn towards sin, but he resisted. So he's been there. And now he can help us when we are tempted, he can help us to resist because he is a model for us. (We can never completely live up to it, but it's still worth aspiring, seeking to live like Jesus did.)
* He was FAITHFUL to God even when SUFFERING (3:6)
Jesus suffered but he endured, he persevered, he kept his eyes on God.
So, don't let hard times make you hard.
* He is the greatest HIGH PRIEST ever (4:14-8:13)
This isn't a concept we're too well familiar with. To us, this term makes us think of cults or secret church societies. But in the Hebrew time, these were the leaders of the other priests, they offered the sacrifices and were very well-placed and revered and honored. They were held to a very high standard.
So, Jesus will be there for you in your time of need. Whatever it is, reach out Jesus in prayer and he will be there.
* His blood cleanses even our deepest CONSCIENCE (9:9-14, 7:22, 7:25)
Better covenant??!? Moses only saved in part, Jesus saved in whole. All those Hebrew sacrifices were limited in what they could do. The sacrifices could cover over your sin, but they could not forgive your sins. The people were still very well of their sins. This was an outward cleaning, but Jesus' sacrifice cleans our insides as well. Our conscience is cleaned because the guilt is gone.
Two single men who share an apartment - and the apartment looks like two single men live there. And then two girls they met the day before call and say they're coming over and bringing pizza and a movie in 15 minutes. So a whirlwind ensues - dirty dishes thrown under the sink, pizza boxes dirty clothes pushed into a closet. Hey, look, carpet. They start to flip over the cushions to hide stains from spills, but nope, they did that last time. So, they cover the couch with a sheet. And for the next two hours, they have a nice time, hoping no one looks under the sink or in the closet. (They know it's only somewhat cleaned.)
But what if these two women say "Take off for a day... Uh... Make it three. We're going to clean this place." That's what Jesus does, he comes in and cleans house. Our relationship with Jesus makes us want to keep our house clean, with the knowledge that we can ask him for help when we make a mess. Satan will remind us of the mess-that-was and try to make us feel guilty about it all over again, but there's no point in it. Jesus says to forget it. He has.
* He is RETURNING to finish his promise of salvation (9:28)
* He is our ACCESS to God himself (10:19-25)
There is no priest to go to, no candles to be lit, no chants to utter, no rituals to undertake - we need but simply go to him.
So, confidently draw near to God and his people rather than drifting away.
--- What does running well look like? ---
At this point, Hebrews shifts to concrete examples of how to live that out with the confidence of a relationship with Jesus. And they continue in their life with Jesus. They don't drift, they don't shrink back, they don't wonder, they aren't hesitating - they confidently run.
* A life focused on Jesus (12:1-3)
* Gaining strength by learning through hard times (12:4-13)
* Living in peace with people rather than envy (12:4-7)
* Worshiping God in awe and thanksgiving. (12:28-29)
* Showing love through hospitality (13:1-3)
* Maintaining sexual purity (13:4)
* Contentment rather than loving money (13:5)
* Lifetime learning from spiritual leaders (13:7)
* Sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving and sharing (13:15-16)
* Following your church leaders (13:17)
...and much, much more.