BSF Acts: Week 11, Day 2: Hebrews 4:14–16

 

Hebrews 4:14–16.

Summary:

The previous verses emphasize how the word of God is alive and active and sharper than a double edge sword.  It convicts us of our sin, cutting down to the bone of our being.  But the good news is in these verses.  Not only do we have (like family, like a husband and wife) a high priest in heaven, but we have one who understands and sympathizes.  So much so, that when we show up at the alter empty handed he already provided the sacrifice necessary to cleanse us of our sin.

Questions:

3. a. a great high priest

b. joined together with – According to Strong’s: those joined to any one by the bonds of natural blood or marriage or friendship or duty or law etc, of attendance or companionship

4. a. The temptation to not stay fully man.  Jesus was fully man and fully God.  At any point he could have pulled out his God card, but he didn’t – he suffered as a man

b. (Personal) Chocolate – OK, it ranks up there, but probably not my biggest temptation.  As I think about it, mine is the opposite of Jesus.  Jesus was tempted to rely on his divine nature, I am tempted to rely on my human nature and pride.  All too often I act like a bossy child and fight God saying “me do it”, rather than thanking Him for His love and what He gives me.  I think of my possessions as mine, my knowledge and wits as mine and my time as mine – when really it is all God’s to begin with.

c. It helps in 2 ways: (1) the one making atonement on my behalf understands and sympathizes – he isn’t ever going to give up on me (2) yet, while totally a man and not relying on his divinity, Jesus resisted all temptation – there is hope to do better, it is not an impossible struggle

5. a. The sacrificial offering for forgiveness of sin was made in the courtyard of the tabernacle, the dwelling place of God while with the Israelites. The grace is that we approach this need for washing away of our sins empty handed, yet, our high priest provides himself as the perfect offering

b. I think it is very important for each of us, every day, to recognize that we are in need of forgiveness and yet we have absolutely nothing to offer to earn that need.  It is only by grace that we are saved through faith.

Conclusion:

I love the way the author of Hebrews is so clearly answering the questions that the early Jewish converts must have had.  How does Jesus fit in with God and angels and man?  What was He doing on earth?  Why did he need to be here?  What about the law and Moses?  And in today’s lesson, what about the high priest and sacrifices?  While it answered their questions it give assurance and comfort to us.  We are not cut by the word of God so that we may feel pain and bleed, but so that we recognize the grace with which the Son of God took on all the pain and bleeding ever required to atone for our sins.

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BSF Acts: Week 11, Day 1

The Notes:

What is the greatest sin?  What is the chief sin someone can commit? Not that sin is ever “great”, but if we were to think about sin on a scale, like we do breaking human law, we think of some as misdemeanors and some as felonies.  Like the difference between saying a curse word in anger or murdering someone. 

So it opened my eyes in the notes when it said, “refusal to believe God is the chief sin.”  At first I thought, really?  Doubting the bible compared to abusing a child – no comparison, right?  But then I realized the second only happens after the first.  God is evident in all of creation.  At least where we live there is no one who has not had some exposure to God.  Granted, it may have been a very inaccurate representation by someone who may have been CINO (Christian in name only).  But, even then, I doubt there is anyone who thinks the bible condones any of the horrific crimes that are committed.  So, to commit any other crime, frankly any other sin, is to first refuse to believe God.

God’s word is alive, it is active.  When you read the scriptures and God’s absolute intolerance for disobedience and sin, it cuts, sharply, to the bone.  When you understand that there is absolutely nothing hidden from God, no action, to intention, no thought – the only way you fall into sin is to not believe God. 

Maybe He wasn’t really serious about that stuff?  Maybe He doesn’t care if I sin a little – everybody does, right?  Maybe He won’t notice.  Maybe He expects me to faultier.  What a bunch of _____.  (It probably wouldn’t be good in this rant to fill in that word, eh?)

This was a difficult couple of chapters for me.  But, I so appreciate the message that flows throughout these challenging verses.  God’ promise of rest.  God’s welcoming invitation to fellowship with Him.  God’s gift to come down, suffer, to die.  What am I, just a man.  What is a man? And here is where it gets interesting.  By becoming a brother to Jesus through His grace of coming down to be lower than the angels with us, we become part of His family and, as such, holy. 

What better day is there than today to stop disbelieving and start being holy?  (struggling with that last line?  I understand, but I don’t see any other way to read Hebrews 2:11)

Bible Lesson 11: Hebrews 2:5-4:13 Lecture

Hebrews 2:5-4:13

Aim: Jesus became man to rescue mankind

Introduction: Picture a family run campground, run by a Father and Son team.  Now the son, who helped build the campground would have every right to sit in His office and send out memos to the counselors and campers.  But He knows that to really train the counselors, it would be best if He didn’t just tell them, but showed them.  Jesus did exactly that, and so much more.  Last week we learned about how Jesus was above all, higher than the angels, King, creator, sustainer of all things, an exact representation of God.  And this week we learn how He became fully man, not only to teach us – but to save us.

Division 1: Hebrews 2:5-18: Jesus became lower than angels to sit down as king

Principle a: Jesus suffered death to give us life

Illustration: Several years ago I went camping with my son and we slept in the old canvas army tents.  Besides the fact that they smelled bad and had spiders, it rained that first night.   Now, I know you aren’t supposed to touch a canvas tent in the rain, but, it was just too tempting.  Sometimes it was just accidental, brushing against it trying to get out of the way of the times before when I touched it to see what would happen, but soon we had water pouring in.

While we may live in a stinky old tent that we got from our parents who got it from their parents (i.e., our sinful bodies), Jesus offers us a gift of a brand new tent to live with Him.

Application: what are you doing that you know you shouldn’t?  Are you holding onto your stinky old ways or do you accept the gift?  Are the rains falling in your life now (if not, they will) – what shape is your tent in?

Principle b: God didn’t lower the bar, Jesus lifted us up on His shoulders

Illustration: I’m not perfect.  No one is perfect.  Have you ever said that?  I have.  But it is wrong – Jesus was perfect while fully a man.  The only way to stand in the presence of God is to be completely without sin – otherwise you would be undone by the conviction of your sin.  We don’t get into God’s presence by being better than others, we get there by being perfect – God didn’t lower that requirement – he didn’t lower the bar – but he did raise the floor by allowing us to stand on the one who was without sin and step over the bar without any work of our own.

Application: Are you trying to be good to be better than others or to obey God?  What are you trying to earn that has been given as a gift?  Do you recognize the perfect son of man?

Division 2: Hebrews 3:1 – 4:11 Jesus/Moses – faithful servants, but Jesus is supreme

Principle: Faith and obedience have always been the requirements to enjoy God’s promised rest

Illustration: One of the things to watch for when camping is where you pitch your tent.  It is tempting to pitch it down next to a river.  Water and food are handy, its comfortable, sure there are the mosquitoes and bugs, but such is life, right?.  But when rains come it is important to be on higher ground.  God brought his people out  of the slavery of Egypt, but they refused to move their tents – they fought him, they ignored him, they disobeyed.  His desire for them was that they would heed his warning , they were creating their own storm of disobedience and they were not safe – but they refused.  As a result, they died, drowning forever in their own stubbornness.  We are warned to listen and not be deceived by sin, to put our obedience in God and do not follow the example the Jews did with Moses.

Application: The storms of life and temptation are coming – are you listening to the warnings or fighting them?  Do you learn from the stories in the bible or relive them?  What part of your life do you need to submit to obedience to God?

Division 3: Hebrews: 4:12-13 The word of God is alive and active, cutting, judging and saving

(These 2 verses are the memory verses for the kids this week and one we would all be wise to commit to memory!)

The word of God is alive (not history, not dead, not just words – it has life)

The word of God is active – not passive, not waiting, not absent – active

The word of God cuts ( I sure felt this one throughout this week’s study – meditating on the living word, encouraging others every day, honoring the sabbath day of rest, living like someone given new life, obeying)

He is the judge – there will be an account taken for the time I am given on this earth

There is nothing hidden, period.  If that doesn’t strike fear into you, then you are truly in denial – imagine every action, thought, glance, deception, lie you every made, exposed for all to see.

And, most amazing of all – through all of those facts – Jesus became like me to die for me to pay the price to save me from the very judgment that I deserve.  When you think about it, it makes no logical sense – why would the creator of everything, knowing everything do this for me?  There are only two things to say:

1. John 3:16 answers that question in one of the only places in the bible that it gives us a “why” in regard to God’s behavior – “for God so loved the world” – it was love

2. The only thing that could possibly make less logical sense than what God did would be to reject the gift that He has provided – to reject His love rather than sharing it back to Him and to others.

Luke 8:18 says “Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has will be taken from him.” When we think about our response to God’s love we can see how this becomes not only understandable, but the only thing fair and true.  Fill your hearts with God’s love and share it, protect it, cherish it, encourage others, grow in closeness with Him and He will pour out more and more love to you.  But if you take the love of God only for your own gain, complaining, disobeying, continuing to sin, trying to use God and His church only to better your own life, then that life that you think you have will not last – nothing is hidden, not even our hearts.

Conclusion:

I find it interesting that the Apostle Paul was a tent maker.

The storms are coming – how about a new tent?  If anyone’s in Christ, he is a new creation.  While you are at it, why don’t you just go ahead and pitch your tent right inside God’s house?

Division 1: Hebrews 2: 10-18: Jesus became man to raise us up to be his brothers

BSF Acts: Week 10, Day 5: Hebrews 4:1–13

Hebrews 4:1–13

Summary:

A clarification on rest.  If rest had meant simply the rest that the Isrealites had received when they finally entered the promised land with Joshua, then God would not have spoken about it after then as something to come.  But He did and the rest that He spoke of is much grander than just rest from being weary, it is a promise of spending the rest of eternity in love with Him.

Questions:

14. To spend the Rest of eternity in Heaven with God, also Resting in the assurance of being in Christ’s family

15. a. 4:2 Hear the message combine it with faith. 4: 11, remain obedient

b. (Personal) Yes, I have accepted Jesus as my personal savior so I have begun my eternal life with Him, however, I lose opportunities for rest in this world through my disobedience.

Conclusion:

One of the men in our circle made a comment about the Sabbath rest that hit home to me.  His comment was how he suffers when he decides that He knows better than God and decides to work on Sunday.  The perspective was that since God is in control if He didn’t enable something to be completed up through Saturday night, then how arrogant and disobedient it is to decide that he must know better than God and work on it on Sunday.  Maybe it isn’t supposed to be done until Monday.  Maybe God has other plans.  But through disobedience and a lack of trust we put ourselves above the the sovereign.

The word is alive and active and I have definitely felt the cut of the sword this week cutting into the areas that need to be pruned from my life.

BSF Acts: Week 10, Day 3,

Hebrews 3:1–6

Summary:

Focus on our high priest in heaven.  Jesus and Moses were both faithful to God, but Jesus, as the Son of God, is greater than Moses.

Questions:

9. a. Pray, remember our sins and repent of them, seek forgiveness and restitution for wrongs, accept the gift of grace
b. When we are tempted.  We can turn to many different things when we face temptation, but only one has the ability to help us: Jesus.

10. Transcendental meditation (which has its roots in the Hindu religion) and other common forms of meditation that some use for stress relief have a focus on becoming empty.  Someone would focus on a mantra (normally a nonsensical word) and empty themselves of thought.  Christian meditation is a focus on becoming filled.  We meditate to be filled with the Spirit or to be filled with the Word or to be filled with God’s grace and forgiveness.  Here are a few examples:

Jos 1:8 Do not let the book of the law depart from your lips, meditate on it day and night

Psalm 48:9 Meditate on your unfailing love

Psalm 77:12 meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds

Psal 119:15 meditate on your precepts and consider your ways

Psalm 119:27 meditate on your wonders

11. Differences: Jesus is God (the Son of God), Moses wasn’t; Jesus built the house, Moses was in the house.  Similarities: Both men, both faithful to God.

Conclusion:

The high priest was charged with making the atoning sacrifice for the children of God.  Jesus not only took on that task once and for all, but he, himself, also became that sacrifice.  He gave himself freely as an offering of love for His father and for His fallen brothers who were enslaved by sin.

All men are born with a God sized hole in them.  We all feel longing, incompleteness, emptiness, a void from time to time.  While emptying your mind of thoughts may provide a temporary relief from stress, much like some attempt to find through the numbing effects of drugs or alcohol.  But becoming more empty is never going to be the long term answer to a feeling of emptiness and longing.  The only solution is to be filled: filled with the Holy Spirit, filled with the love of our creator, filled with the word of the Lord.  Now that is something to meditate on!

BSF Acts: Week 10, Day 2, Hebrews 2:5–18

Hebrews 2:5–18.

Summary:

The author of Hebrews again picks up the discussion of Jesus and the angels.  Jesus became man, lower than the angels, perfected by suffering to call those he saves brothers.

Questions

4. a. I think “the world to come” refers to a world totally under salvation totally subjecting itself to Christ.  For the elect I think it starts on the day we accept Christ as our savior, but I think it is complete when all do, when Christ comes again and every knee shall bow and every tongue confess.
b. In Genesis 1 God subjected the earth to man’s dominion.  The fallen earth continues in that covenant.  In these verses the writer confirms that the saved world also falls under that gift from God.

5. While fully man, Jesus took on the sins of the world and suffered death, becoming the author of salvation and rising to glory in heaven

6.Death (or fear of death), the devil, Sin, Temptation

7. (Challenge) The world is comprised of believers and non-believers.  Jesus defeated death for all, but it is not forced on all, it is a gift free given that can be received or rejected.  In Mark 16:16 the gospel says “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned”.  Satan is still in this world because free-will to sin is still in the world.  As long as sin remains, Satan remains.  But Satan is still defeated because he no longer holds power over the believers (Eph 2:1-9) who are no longer dead to transgression but alive in salvation.  At a time to come, all will know that Christ is Lord and every knee shall bow (Rom 14:11)

8. Hebrews 2:17, Jesus made like man in every way.  This is in perspective of Hebrews 1:3 stating that Jesus is the exact reflection of God.

Conclusion:

Was Jesus part man and part God?  God inside and man outside?  1/2 man 1/2 God?  Hebrews clears this up.  While we may have difficulty understanding it: Jesus was, at the same time, fully man and fully God.  It clears up that as fully man Jesus suffered when he was tempted, but as fully God he was able to remain completely without sin.

I have heard it said that Jesus could not sin because He was God.  However, if you are not able to sin then what would be the sting of temptation?  From these passages we see the amazing sacrifice that he made, to become lower than the angels and put himself in a position of suffering the same temptations and trials that we as men face, but in his divine nature He did something no other man has been able to: resist always and stay focused only on the will of God the Father.

Hebrews is a book of encouragement.  We see in chapter one the place and power of Jesus relative to men and angels and in this chapter we begin seeing the sacrifice that He made to be able to call us brother in every way.

BSF Acts, Week 10, Day 1

2. I thought the notes did a good job of explaining why our study is taking this detour in the middle of Acts to jump to the Letter to the Hebrews (besides the fact that it is strategically placed in between the chapter when Paul fights against requiring circumcision and the next chapter when he circumcises Timothy.)  On the first page it raises the question: if someone claims to be a Christian, are they?  If not necessarily, then what decides.  Hebrews explains that this isn’t a buffet line where you pick some things but leave others about faith in Christ.  You don’t rely totally on Him for your salvation but also try to do it on your own, just in case.  Jesus died, the work is done.  You are either inside the house or outside.  There is no screened in deck.  You get to choose: in or out.  I choose in!

p.s.: hold onto page 3, Homiletcs division are provided through then end of December in the table.