Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A Considerate Sequel to Hebrews, Part 5

Hebrews 10:32-35

[32] But recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings:
[33] partly while you were made a spectacle both by reproaches and tribulations, and partly while you became a companion of those who were so treated;
[34] for you had compassion on me in my chains, and joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods, knowing that you have a better and an enduring possession for yourselves in heaven.
[35] Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward.

The Hebrew Christians were faltering. They needed to be reminded of the efficacy, the purity, majesty and perfection of Jesus Christ. The entire epistle of Hebrews glows with the grandeur of Christ's superiority to angels, Moses, the law, the priesthood, and animal sacrifice. They would be departing from the truth and returning to a shadow of what had already appeared. The cross of Christ was a great burden, and still is for many today; which is largely the reason for so much compromise within the professing church as liberals and universalists try to reconcile the doctrines of the faith with outside influences. The antidote, the writer is stating, is a clear and powerful picture of Jesus Christ as our Mediator, High Priest and Apostle.

Christ the God-man at the right hand of the majesty in Heaven. God in the flesh, having sacrificed Himself on our account, now risen and glorified, and always intervening for His saints, sharing the glory with us that is rightfully and eternally His. It is to the clearest picture of the triumphant Christ who is the sum and consummation of the Old Testament that the writer appeals; He is the confidence we have. Holding fast the faith garners reward, and salvation is a gift, not a reward, Romans 6:23.

The trials of the saints are a mark of a true conversion, a living faith which breeds confidence in our confession. Paul told the Galatians, “From now on let no one trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus,” Galatians 6:17. He was not referring to “stigmata” as Roman Catholics may assert; he was reminding the Galatians, who were impressed with Judaism’s legalism, that his scarred and beaten body was mute testimony that he preached the cross of Christ daily in the might with which the Holy Spirit gave him. He preached Christ crucified: the wisdom and power of God, due to Jesus’ self-sacrifice in humility, and ascension in glory. He alone possessed authority and ability to cleanse and redeem, which the law utterly lacked. Later he writes, “All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution,” 2nd Timothy 3:12. Sanctification, he is warning Timothy in this letter, comes through trial as God refines us through the “furnace of affliction,” Isaiah 48:10. Like our Savior was perfected in His humanity obediently performing God’s will, so it is God’s pleasure to have us, His saints, follow the Leader of our salvation into spiritual maturity.

Rewards will be given at the judgment seat, 2nd Corinthians 5:10; Revelation 22:12. The perseverance here described is the vital outflow of a believer abiding in Christ and bearing fruit. They are maturing, joyful, sober and patient saints; they are a clear evidence of the saving and perfecting grace of God's Holy Spirit at work within. When we surrender ourselves to Him, He can work marvels and transform us, giving us the mind of Christ. Yet carnal saints will not benefit from this; unless we are agreed to walk with God as He commands He will not walk with us in fellowship, Amos 3:3; Leviticus 26; John 15:14.
To be Continued.

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