Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Hebrews Chapter Three part 2

3:5-6 And Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after; But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.

Again we are reminded of Moses’ fidelity toward God. He performed his duties as a servant, for the sake of giving testimony about things to come. Moses did indeed receive glory from God. We can recall that when Moses descended the mountain in God’s presence that his face shone with God’s glory, and Moses was a well polished mirror that could, in his humility and servitude, reflect that glory in such a way that it actually frightened people. His exposure to God on the mountain, the closeness of God’s presence, had given Moses a radiance of beauty that was not his own. Apparently this radiance was so unearthly that none of Israel would approach him unless he hid his face from them, Exodus 34:29-35.

Once more the two (Jesus and Moses) are contrasted one against the other. Jesus is a Son over His own house, whose house we are. Moses was an earthly vessel created by God for God’s will and pleasure. Christ was not a servant (as Moses was referred to) but a Son, the natural inheritor of all the Father’s glory and kingdom. He was not created, but through the miracle of the incarnation He was begotten.

Here we find a supposed allusion to the erroneous doctrine of “falling away.” Verse 6 states that we are Christ’s house (Christ as God is our Maker) IF we hold fast both our confidence and joy until the end. A stipulation then arises according to teachers of falling away; that salvation is contingent on our holding fast both confidence and joy until the end. Immediately I note a logical error in rendering this passage as such. No saint on earth who ever lived, lives or shall live, holds confidence and joy 24/7 all the days of their life. That would be inhuman. Our sinful tendency to seek selfish gain or pleasure, to wallow in pity, to leap into the pond of discouragement happens; sometimes with alarming frequency. On this note alone no person on earth would “hold fast.” We would all be lost.

Perhaps this verse simply means that Christ dwells in us “by faith” (Ephesians 3:17) and when we walk in faith and thus by the Spirit we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us, Romans 8:5-6; Philippians 4:13. We are told in Revelation that those who keep Christ’s works until the end (same language) will reign with Christ over the nations during the thousand years, Revelation 2:26-27. It is a clear teaching from Scripture that the Christian must be in a clean spiritual state before the Lord before Jesus will work through that person to accomplish His will. Until that time He is working ON that individual, to humble that fleshly, sinful heart that refuses to submit. But if we permit that diligent “holding fast” is necessary to retain life then the gospel is a lie. Either faith in the gospel’s message and the Savior it describes saves us, or it gives us an opportunity to save ourselves. It cannot be both ways, and the Bible is clear that God is the only Savior; either He saves us and we are saved (past tense) or salvation is the reward of our hard labor and is something we cannot hope to enjoy now, because there is always the fear that it slips away. If it does so, it was never yours to begin with, and you were never saved; if you were saved then the question of your eternal destiny had already been settled by One greater in power and ability than you or I.

The epistle of the Hebrews is all about fellowship; both with one another as fellow saints and fellowship with our Savior God, Jesus Christ. The whole of these opening chapters is orchestrated in such a way to elicit the desire for faltering saints to draw near to the source of their power and find refreshment. I know that even as I write this I find refreshment; I was tired and feeling carnal, but was compelled to write and immerse myself in my God’s word. It really is the difference between light and dark, drawing close to my Jesus and permitting Him to have fellowship with us.  Paul writes in Corinthians that the evangelists sent out were fellow laborers with Christ, and those who received their word were the building; very similar language to what we are reading now, 1st Corinthians 3:9-10.

This was the thrust of Hebrews: the writer wants us to be partakers of Christ in that same sense; fellow laborers building Christ’s church by preaching the gospel to the lost and discipling them. We read: “For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold fast the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end,” Hebrews 3:14. In both Hebrews 3:1 and 3:14 the Greek word for “partakers” is “metochos.” It is derived from “metecho” which means “to share or participate, by implication, belong to.” Our word translates “participant, sharer or associate.” This sounds something like a business partnership, which it is since we are ambassadors for Christ, pleading with a lost world, 2nd Corinthians 5:20. So in fact, these words have nothing to do with salvation’s retention or loss thereof; it has everything to do with being a partaker of Christ by working with Him and allowing Him to work through us to save the lost.

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