Friday, August 2, 2013

Hebrews Chapter Two Part 1

2:1 Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.

The NKJV renders the latter portion of this verse “lest we drift away.” The Bible seems to teach that one is either advancing in their spiritual walk or regressing; there is no standing fast and holding ground. I am either walking with the Lord, and strengthening my feeble limbs (Hebrews 12:12-13) or I am walking away from God, which compels our Lord to walk contrary to us, Amos 3:3; Leviticus 26:23-24. The whole idea of our life on this earth is one of pilgrimage, Hebrews 11:13-14. This world and what it represents is no longer our home; we have been transferred from Satan’s kingdom to Christ’s via the new birth and the power of the Holy Spirit, Colossians 1:13.

In the Law God commanded the Jews to meditate day and night on His precepts and to teach them to their children, Deuteronomy 6:6-9. Why? Due to our slowness to understand and quickness to forget. The Jews had this problem, for which God berated them, Isaiah 28:13. The first century Christians also suffered this spiritual ailment, Hebrews 5:11-12. We are warned as Christians that we ought to take heed if we think we stand, lest we fall, 1st Corinthians 10:12. Complacency kills and it withers our faith. This early warning given by the writer foreshadows the very error into which these Hebrew Christians had fallen. They had apparently been converts of some years, and though they possessed understanding it was not mingling with faith and it produced sterility in them. Their hearts began to drift back to Judaism, which the writer spends considerable time expounding upon, showing to them the inferiority of the Temple and the Law compared to the Son, through whom we have not only temporal blessing, but eternal life; something neither the Temple nor the Law could ever provide.

2:2-4 For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?

The writer likens the Old Testament Law with the message of the gospel which the Hebrew Christians had gladly received at the first. The Law, given to Israel as a covenant between them and God, was exacting. Infractions of the Law brought immediate and permanent recompense. If this teaches us anything, it should impress upon us that God does not take His world lightly; nor should we. He doesn’t trifle with obedience, holiness and separation from what offends Him. Nor should we. If we partake, as we all sometimes do, consequences will come, Galatians 6:7-8.

The punishment of the Law, however, was not the determiner of whether someone was saved; it was merely the inevitable consequence of having broken the Law and receiving what one’s deeds have purchased. Likewise, I think, in this passage. If God’s Law was sacred so that infractions met with such a swift and final judgment, how then can saints treat the Son of God and His gospel with such contempt and think that all is well between us and the Lord?

The writer here gives us minor insight into who he is, or moreover who he is not. He proclaims that the gospel which the Jewish Christians received had first been preached by the Lord Jesus, then by His apostles and disciples who heard Him. Afterward, it was handed down to others, the writer of Hebrews being one of those. This passage appears to dispel the notion that this letter could possibly be Paul’s, since the apostle claimed to have received his gospel not from men but directly from Jesus Christ, Galatians 1:11-12.

The writer states that God bore these initial disciples witness by the performance of miraculous feats at their hands as He worked through them, confirming the message preached by the power displayed, and the manner in which such power was used. This is also a sort of tongue-in-cheek confirmation of the end of Mark’s Gospel, which many Bibles state is not legitimate. But the very final verse of Mark agrees with the testimony given here when we read: “And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen,” Mark 16:20. While this doesn’t outright prove Mark’s historicity for verses 9-20, there is no disagreement between Mark’s abridged testimony of Jesus’ resurrection and ascension as opposed to the other gospels and epistles. Consequently, fragments of Mark’s gospel dating mid-later first century AD have recently been discovered, providing enlightening proof that Mark’s writing was intact within a few scant decades of Jesus’ life and death.

These gifts, signs and wonders followed the apostles and were clearly demonstrated a number of times throughout the book of Acts, which spans about 30 years of church history, Acts 2:4; 3:7; 9:34, 40; 13:11, etc. yet Paul himself wrote that the time for these gifts following the disciples as a witness to God’s gospel would terminate; there would be a definite cessation in this activity because there would no longer be the need for it. Listing three such gifts—prophecy, tongues and knowledge—he wrote that they would fail, cease, and vanish away. They were “in part” and used to validate the words of the disciples until that which is perfect (complete) had arrived, 1st Corinthians 13:8-10. When the inspired writers finished penning the Bible the entire witness of God was laid bare to mankind, and through His established word the Holy Spirit would draw and convict men of their sin and need of a Savior. The apostle John emphasized a belief based on the message and reception of the gospel, 1st John 5:10-11. Paul wrote much the same, Romans 10:17. It was the foolishness of the message that really showcased God’s saving power and grace; not the signs and wonders that followed the initial disciples, 1st Corinthians 1:18.

2 comments:

  1. Amen,Ian.

    Unfortunately too many are not satisfied with what God has given so they spend their efforts trying to negate what God has told us.

    ReplyDelete
  2. It's a terrible truth that we live in a country of professing Christians that eagerly accept what God has condemned and condemn what God has approved. Examples: homosexuality is welcome in many churches today and lauded as a lifestyle choice; not a sin. There are homosexual pastors. Example two: the gospel is not looked well on due to its limiting, narrow minded exclusivity. While some Christians may believe the gospel saves, they also leave the door open for various religions to likewise save. This is all a far cry from the potent, world-changing anthem of the first century church that turned the world upside down and cost the first generations of Christians their lives in bloody martyrdom. The church has capitulated to the world, and so the epistle to the Hebrews is more needed than ever to shed light on this gross error and expose it for what it is: damnable heresy.

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