Friday, October 12, 2012

Duties Of Christian Faith. Heb 13:1-25

In the final chapter of Hebrews,  the author gives a series of exhortations for christian living.  The readers were exhorted to continue in their brotherly. In the past  they have demonstrated such love one to another (6:10). This love should not be limited to only brethren. They must demonstrate this love to strangers by showing hospitality. Since Christians were traveling to escape persecution and for ministry, it was a needed grace at that time. The author refers to Old Testament incidents to show that this would bring unexpected blessing from God(Gen 18,19). They were also encouraged to remember those who are in prison  for their faith. Their needs must not be forgotten. They were also urged  take their  marriage seriously and remain faithful to one another. The author  expresses God's approval of marriage and His blessing upon it (Gen 2:18-25). They were reminded of the price one has to pay for adultery and immorality. It will bring shame, disgrace and distrust upon family as well as to the cause of Christ. The author warns that God will judge them. They were also admonished against greediness. They are to be content with what they have. The basis of contentment is found in the promise of God. "I will never fail you,nor forsake you"(Deut 31:6,8; Josh 1:5). When we have such assurance of care, we can confidently say "God is my helper and I will not be afraid"(Psalm 118:6).These instructions are equally important and applicable in our lives.

The readers are exhorted to remember and follow those who taught them the Word of God(13:7). They probably had died but remember the outcome of their lives  and follow their example. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. So be loyal to Him and to the  new covenant. Do not be attracted to the ceremonial rules about food or traditions. They are useless. But your spiritual strength comes from God's grace. We have an alter. This is a reference to the sacrifice Christ offered on the cross. The sacrifice of the day of atonement was a type of Christ' death on the cross.  On the day of atonement, the bodies of animals were burned outside the camp.  Priest were not allowed to eat  of the sacrifice offered on the day of atonement. So also Jesus suffered and died outside the city gate. Under the new covenant believers are privileged to partake of the blessings of Christ perfect sacrifice. The writer encourages his readers to go out side the gate bearing the reproach Christ bore(13:13). Christians must be prepared to suffer shame and separation for Christ.

The author introduces a new concept of sacrifices and call upon the readers to offer the  sacrifice of praise to God continually(13:15,16). Also they were encouraged to do good and share what they have with those in need. In such sacrifices, God is well pleased. They are to obey their spiritual leaders. Such obedience make it possible for them to fulfill their responsibilities with joy. They are accountable to God. The author requests prayer for himself and others who are with him. He is confident that their prayer will hasten his return. Then added the benediction which is addressed to the God of peace.This peace is the result of new covenant which Christ has established once for all. He is our great shepherd who is able to keep us safe and produce in us that which is pleasing in His sight through the new covenant. This prayer ends with ascribing glory and praise to Jesus Christ(13:21).

The writer ends this epistle with an appeal.  He wants his readers to listen willingly his word of exhortation  about Christ who is the complete and final revelation of God. He wants his readers to know that Timothy has been set free from prison. Many scholars hold the view that, the mention of Timothy here suggests, perhaps Apostle Paul wrote the epistle of Hebrews. The author expresses the desire that he and Timothy may together visit the readers to whom this letter was addressed. The readers are asked to greet their church leaders and to all fellow believers there. The phrase "Christians from Italy" may suggests that  this letter was written to or from there. The author closes this letter by wishing God's grace upon all the readers of this epistle. May God bless you all. Amen

Monday, October 8, 2012

Fix Your Eyes Upon Jesus. Heb 12:1-29

After explaining examples of the heroes of faith, the author exhorts the readers to fix their eyes upon Jesus the supreme example of faith. Christian life is a race and it must be run with patience looking unto Jesus. Heroes of faith testify us of the power of faith and we must follow their example. Christ is the beginning and the end of Christian life. He is the pioneer and the perfecter of our faith.  Consider the example of Christ  who willingly endured the cross despising the shame of death because of the joy of becoming the redeemer of the world. Christ's example would motivate us to lay aside every form of sin  that hinders our spiritual progress. Consider, how much greater was Christ's suffering than ours and the eternal blessings of it. The writer reminds the readers that though they suffered scorn and opposition, they have not suffered death. So let us run the race set before us by looking to Jesus who is seated at the right of God in heaven.

From verses 5 to 13, the writer encourages the readers to regard their suffering as fatherly discipline of God.
Here the author quotes proverbs 3:11-12. This suffering is actually a growth process in their spiritual life. Suffering  is not always the proof of sin.Though Christ was sinless,He learned obedience through suffering and became the author of eternal life(5:8,9). The discipline of these readers are compared with the suffering of Christ. God's children receive His chastening. Believers who sin and never be chastened are not actually saved. God disciplines us so that we might share in His holiness. In fact chastening is a training process to get in shape spiritually. Chastening gives assurance of God's love towards us. No disciple is joyous for a while but afterward it will yield peaceable fruit of righteousness(12:11).

So readers are encouraged to stand firm on their shaky legs so that they may not become spiritually disable. Pursue straight path, so that you may not be dislocated and get worse. When few slip away from faith, it is easier for many to fall. So encourage each other and live in harmony. Christians must try to live in peace with everyone. Also they should live a consecrated  or holy life. Without holiness no one will see God. Practical sanctification is essential for growing into the likeness of Christ(1 Thess 5:23). The writer warns the danger of
apostasy. Apostates would not receive the blessings of the grace of God. Apostates are the defectors from the truth though they profess to be Christians. They are like poisonous root that corrupt many by their doubts and denials. It can lead to immorality and godlessness(2 Peter 2:10).  Esau  is an example. He traded his birthright for a single meal. Afterward when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected. It was too late for Isaac to change his mind or reverse the blessing. Those who willingly renounce Christ for worldly gains or pleasure, can not be renewed to repentance. Such is the solemn warning against apostates.

In verses 18 to 29 , a comparison is drawn between old covenant and new covenant. Here the writer warns the danger of obeying the old covenant and rejecting the new covenant which Christ established.  The old covenant was inaccessible and intimidating. Like rest of the warning, the purpose of this warning is to prevent the readers from turning way from Christ and His blessing.  The scene of Mount Sinai was one of blackness of darkness and fearful.. Men and animals  faced death even by touching where God stood( Ex 19:12,13). Moses said about this place that "I am terrified and trembling"(12:21). But Under the new covenant,  we come to a figurative mount Zion, which is the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. Those who believe in Christ have access to this place under the new covenant. They will enjoy it's fullest blessing when Lord returns.

Angels minister there. This is the place of  the general assembly and where the church of the firstborn are assembled. There we see God, the judge of all people. Here believers are made perfect by Jesus the mediator of the new covenant. His sprinkled blood speaks of cleansing and pardon, unlike the blood of Abel which cry out for vengeance. Those who disobeyed God under the old covenant have perished. Then, how much more the punishment of those who reject Christ? Now God speaks  from heaven through Christ. When God spoke, it shook the earth and heaven(Ex 19:18). God will shake the earth and heaven again (Haggai 2:6). Probably this is going to happen at the return of Christ. All things are temporal and will be destroyed. Only the spiritual and heavenly  things will remain. Believers will inherit a kingdom that cannot be destroyed . So let us be thankful and please God  by worshiping Him with reverence. The writer closes the chapter with a warning."Our God is a consuming fire"(Deut 4:24). Now God is speaking through Christ. Do we hear His voice and obey Him? May God help us.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Faith of Abraham and the Patriarchs. Heb 11:8-40.

Faith is the response to the promises of God. Among the heroes of faith, Abraham has a prominent place. He is known as the "Father of the faithful".Abraham's faith had three stages. First His faith was awakened by God. Secondly Abraham's faith was disciplined.  Thirdly his faith was perfected. Abraham's faith was also associated with those of Sarah, Isaac,Jacob and Joseph. Abraham was an idol worshiper before God appeared to him(Joshua 24:2). By faith Abraham obeyed when God called him(11:8).  He went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he lived in the promised land as a foreigner(11:9). He looked for the city which has the foundation whose builder and maker is God. He hoped for God's kingdom. God's kingdom is
"God's people, living in God's place, under God's rule, enjoying God's blessings". He lived in tents with Isaac and Jacob as a stranger and pilgrim. Abraham's heart was set upon the heavenly city, the  new Jerusalem. Christ said Abraham rejoiced to see My day(John 8:56). So God was not ashamed to be called the God of Abraham(Ex 3:6).

When Abraham and Sarah were united in faith, they receive the promised son Isaac.  How Abraham's faith was tested is explained in chapter 22. God promised Abraham that all  nations will be blessed through his son Isaac. Later God asked Abraham to offer Isaac as a burnt offering. Abraham believed that God is faithful to raise Isaac from the dead. Figuratively, Abraham did receive back his son from the dead(11:19). Abraham loved God more than his son Isaac(Gen 22:12,16-18). His faith was made complete by his obedience(James 2:22). Abraham learned that God loves those who trust Him and  that He is  a God of providence(Gen 22:14). He recognized, God as the righteous judge of all earth(Gen 18:25). Abraham is called the prophet and the friend of God(Gen 20:7;Is 41:8; James 2:23). Without faith, it is impossible to please God. Salvation is by faith, but faith finds it's channel of expression through works. Some one said "Faith alone will save but the faith that saves will not be alone". Abraham's experience teaches that trials are there to prove the reality of our faith in God.

The writer associates the faith of Isaac, Jacob and Joseph with the faith of Abraham. All these faithful men died without receiving what God had promised them. but saw it afar off. Isaac, old and blind , saw the future of  his children. It was by faith that he blessed his two sons, Jacob and Esau. By faith Jacob blessed the two sons of Joseph, believing that God would fulfill His promise to them.  He worshiped God for His faithfulness,
leaning on his staff. By faith Joseph spoke about Israels departure from Egypt and commanded them to carry his bones with them,when they depart. So faith looks from a distance and rejoices in the future blessings.

Moses' faith is mentioned  with the faith of his parents. Great heroes of faith usually come from godly home.
By faith Moses' parents hid the child believing that God's promise would be fulfilled through him (Genesis 15:13,14). By faith Moses rejected the Egyptian way of life and refused to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season. By faith Moses saw that the riches of Christ is far grater than the riches of Egypt. By faith he forsook Egypt. By faith Moses kept the Passover, in obedience to the command of God and Israel was delivered from Egyptian captivity.  By faith Israel went right through the red sea to safety.By Faith the wall of Jericho fell. By faith Rahab the harlot was saved from destruction.

Now the writer summarizes the faith of many who deserve recognition. By faith Daniel stopped the mouth of the lion and his three friends were delivered from from the flaming fire. David escaped the javelin of Soul and Elijah was delivered from Jezebel. By faith, women received their dead  by resurrection(1 King 17:17-24;
2 King 4:32-37).Many of them were treated as though, they don't deserve to live in this world. Some were slain with the sword(Jer 26:23). Many were tempted to forsake their faith in God. They preferred to die than to become apostates. Isaiah was sawed in half. Zechariah was stoned(2 Chron 24:20,21).They were  all examples of faith. Though they received not  the promises, they have received God's approval(11:39). For God had planned something better for us so that only together with us, would be made perfect. It does not mean that their blessing is dependent upon our blessing.  It simply means that without us,  the heroes of the Old Testament could not enter into the blessing of the new covenant which Christ has fulfilled. The writer encourages the readers to endure the trials and remain faithful to Christ. May God help us to follow the example of the heroes of Faith!!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Faith Is The Superior Principle of Life, Heb 11:1-7

The writer of Hebrews has concluded chapter that, faith is the dynamic by which the just shall live( Heb: 10:38).Faith is the assurance that what God has promised, He will fulfill. Also faith is the assurance upon which all christian hopes are based. Faith is not a leap into unknown or a crutch for the weakling but the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the conviction of things not seen(11:1). The writer explains what faith does than what it is. This confidence and conviction are based on the divine revelation. True faith is produced by God. It is taking God at His word. The old testament fathers received God's approval because of their faith.

By faith we understand that the worlds have been framed by the word of God. This visible world points to an invisible Creator.There are many views about creation account. Material science cannot explain the origin of the world. The theory of evolution has no satisfactory answer for the origin. The conclusions of all these theories are not final and in a state of flux. All these theories of origins have never been proved and still remain as only theories. But the Bible starts with the statement that "In the beginning God created the heavens and earth". No one witnessed the act of creation, yet by faith we know that the worlds were framed by the word of God.

Now the writer illustrates lives of the Old Testament leader to show, what faith does and how it enabled them to have a right relationship to God. Abel, Enoch and Noah were heroes of faith lived before  the days of Abraham. Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain. Abel is the picture of true worship.God revealed to Abel that there is a right  and there is a wrong way to approach God.He offered  his sacrifice by faith and it was more acceptable than Cain offered. H received  from God the testimony that he was righteous. Christ is the  new and living way to approach God. He is the lamb that was slained. We cannot devise our own way to worship God. We are exhorted to offer the sacrifices of praise to God continually through Jesus Christ(13:15).

By faith Enoch was taken up to heaven without dying.He walked with God in a time of wickedness. At the age of 65 Enoch started walking with God along with his family (Gen 5:21-24).  Walking implies, Faith and fellowship with God. Before he was translated at the age 365, Enoch had received the testimony that he pleased God. It is impossible to please God without faith. He that comes to God must believe in the existence of  sovereign God and live accordingly. God is the rewarder of those who seek Him sincerely. They will finally enter His presence either by the way of death or by rapture.When Christ returns, those who are in Christ will be caught up in the clouds to meet Him in the air and they will be with the Lord for ever
(1 Thess 4:16,17).Do you have that blessed hope?

Verse 7 shows the faith of Noah. By faith he built an ark to save his family from the flood. With no sign of a flood or knowledge of it, Noah built the ark, taking God at His word. It shows his conviction of things not seen. Faith enabled Noah to become a witness for God. He was a preacher of righteousness. By his act of faith he condemned the unbelieving world. Through faith Noah became heir of the righteousness. Faith is our response to God's revelation. Without faith it is impossible to please God. May God help us to follow the example of Abel, Enoch and Noah.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Warning Against Willful Sin. He 10:26- 39.

In this passage the writer indicates the warning against willful sin. These are the people those who received the knowledge of truth. Knowledge the truth never saves but faith in Christ They identify with the local church but are not born again(1 John 2:19).They disregard the new covenant and the gathering of the believers, and denies Christ as Savior. (10:29). Peter speaks of false prophets and apostates who have knowledge, but not saved(2 Peter 2:20,21).Willful sin is more than yielding to some temptations but a deliberate and presumptuous sin of rejecting Christ. For them, there remains no more sacrifice for sins but to fall into God's hand for fearful judgment(10:31). The author quotes Deuteronomy 32:35-36  to show that willful sin will be judged. The writer argues that, the punishment for despising the grace and mercy of loving God revealed in Christ Jesus will be how sever! The blood of Christ is the instrument by which we are made to share the blessings of the new covenant. Those who regard this "blood" as common, in fact insult the Spirit of grace  and will be judged.This passage does not teach that believers can loose their salvation. Those who teach that believers can loose salvation,  in fact question God's faithfulness and His grace. This passage was intended as a warning to those who made only an outward commitment to the new covenant.

The writer began the practical exhortation in chapter 10:19 to 25. Then we see a solemn warning in verses 26 to 31. Now the warning gives way to encouragement in verses 32-39.They were warned against the danger of apostasy.Now they are told that such will not be their case. He recalls their previous experiences. They faithfully endured great suffering and were exposed to public ridicule. They were beaten and suffered along with those who were in the prison for their faith.When all they owned were taken away from them, they accepted it with joy.They endured all this with a strong and unwavering faith in the eternal inheritance.

The readers are encouraged not to through away their confidence that had sustained them in their trials but patiently endure to the end to receive the promise. The author here quotes Habakkuk 2:4 to reassure to readers of the return of Christ.The life that pleases God is the life of faith. The just shall live by faith.Those who draws back and become apostates, will perish in their sin of not trusting in Christ. The writer
is convinced that the readers have faith that assures their salvation(10:39). Do you have that assurance?

The Superiority of Christ's Sacrifice. Heb 10:1-25

Here the writer shows the contrast between the Levitical priesthood and the priesthood of Christ. Tabernacle was an earthly sanctuary but Christ ministers in a heavenly sanctuary.He ministers under the new covenant of grace rather than one of works. The sacrifice of the day of atonement could not provide fellowship with God. For it was impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins or cleanse the conscience of the worshiper(10:2-4). The old covenant sacrifices were repeated and reminded people of their sins year after year (10:11). They could not take away their sins but only cover until Christ by His own sacrifice made us holy.The author quotes Psalm 40:6-7 here  to show the inadequacy of the old covenant sacrifices  Christ came to do the will of the Father.He came to fulfill the divine will of the Father and take away the first that He may establish the second.  Thus God made us holy by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ once for all(10:10). The finality of Christ's sacrifice is evident from the fact that He no longer stands and ministering but is now seated  at the right hand of God. He is our royal high priest. Here the author quotes Jeremiah 31:33-34, to show that the sacrifice of Christ has fulfilled  the promise of the new covenant. So in the sacrifice of Christ we find forgiveness for sin and there is no need for additional offering(10:18).This is the assurance of our faith.

In light of the finished work of atonement by Christ and His high priestly ministry, the author exhorts believers to draw confidently into the presence of God. Only the high priest could enter there under the old covenant. This privilege now belongs to every believer. By His death and resurrection Christ has opened a new and living way for us. When Christ died the veil that separated us was rent from top to bottom (Mark 15:38).He is our living way and the great high priest to the mercy seat, the throne of grace, and to the loving God. Our confidence does rest in Christ who is our mediator before God. In view of such privileges, the writer encourages his readers to draw near to God, with true hearts fully trusting Him. Christ has cleansed our hearts and conscience by His blood(1 Pet 1:2). Our bodies being washed with pure water.This is done by the transforming power of the Word, which the  Holy Spirit applies in us.

The author encourages the readers to hold fast to their faith without wavering in the face of discouragements, doubts,and even unbelief. Because God is faithful in His promises. Also they were  exhorted to show their love towards fellow believers by encouraging one another to abound in good works.They were not to forsake the assembling of believers. They were encouraged to be faithful in the attendance of these meetings for their own good and in light of our Lord's return drawing near(10:25).Fellowship provides encouragement in faith. It gives us a sense of belonging and acceptance that we don't receive from the world. Fellowship allows us to learn from matured believers and gain spiritual wisdom. Also fellowship  helps to discern false teachings.  Young believers are susceptible to false teaching. Healthy teaching is necessary to discern truth from error. Fellowship prepare us to face Christ confidently at His return(1 John 2:28).It encourages us to live an holy life and serve Christ Faithfully. May God help us to appreciate all that He has done for us.Amen.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Superior Priesthood of Christ.Heb 9:1-28

In Hebrews chapter 9, the author shows the superiority of the new covenant over the old covenant. The old covenant under the law of Moses was only a shadow of good things to come.  The author gives a detailed account of the Tabernacle and it's ordinances  to show their inefficiency to cleanse the conscience of the worshiper.Tabernacle was the earthly sanctuary erected in the wilderness where God's presence was visible.
It had two rooms. The outer room was called Holy place and the inner room,  the Holy of Holies. They were separated by a veil.In the Holy place were the golden candlestick, the table of show bread and the alter of incense. Inside the Holy of Holies were the ark of the covenant with it mercy seat  and the cherubim of glory where God's presence was manifested. The Ark contained the table of the covenant, golden pot of manna and the Aaron's budded rod.The author mentions the placing of the golden alter within the Holy of Holies because of it"s close association with the ritual(Lev16). The alter of incense was a type of Christ and His intercessory ministry.

Only the high priest could enter the Holy of Holies once a year with the blood of atonement offered for his sins and for the sins of the people(Lev 16).The sin mentioned  here is the unintentional sin(Num 15:27,28). There was no sacrifice for intentional sins(Num 15:30,31; Heb 10:26). The Holy of Holies  was inaccessible to people except the high priest. Therefore fellowship with God was not possible until the death of Christ and the veil was rent from top to bottom. Thus the sacrifices offered under old covenant could not cleanse the conscience of the worshiper.They were temporary ordinances of flesh and not spirit.  Only through Christ we can have perfect fellowship with God.

From verses 11 to 22, the author shows the contrast between the atonement of the law and the atonement of Christ.Christ serves in a greater and perfect tabernacle. The earthly tabernacle was symbolic and temporary. He did not offer the blood of goats and calves but His own life.  Thus He obtained eternal redemption for us.The blood  of bulls and of goats and the ashes of heifer could only cleanse the flesh and not the conscience (Num 19). But the blood of Christ is able to cleanse our conscience from dead works to serve the living God(9:13,14). Christ is the mediator of the new covenant and guarantees a  perfect salvation. A covenant is sealed  and made effective by death. So Christ's death was necessary to make the new covenant effective. Under the old covenant the earthly things were cleansed with blood(Ex 24:8). Without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin. The author concludes that the heavenly things are to be cleansed by a better sacrifice. Christ instituted the Lord"s Supper by saying"this is My blood of the new covenant which is shed for many for the forgiveness of their sins"(Matt 26:28). Let us observe it with reverence.

From verses 23 to 28, we read about three appearances  of Christ. First He came to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. His incarnation was to suffer and die for our sin. Then He entered into heaven itself to appear now before God as our mediator and intercessor. He is able to help us in times of need to enjoy fellowship with God and serve Him(4:16).Unlike the Old covenant, Christ does not have to appear again and again because He put away sin by one sacrifice. Then again he shall appear a second time in power and glory to culminate the salvation for all those who eagerly waiting for Him.  Christ came once  to bear our sin and die for us. Now is the accepted time, behold, now is the day of salvation(2 Cor 6:2). It is appointed for all men to die once. After that there is no opportunity for salvation, only the judgment.  Do you know Jesus Christ as your savior?May God help you..

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Christ Offers a Superior Covenant. Heb 8:1-13.

In Hebrews chapter one to seven the author was explaining the person and the qualifications of Jesus Christ, our great high priest. He is superior to prophets and the angels(Chapter 1). He is our great mediator(2:17). Christ is Superior to Moses and Joshua (Chapter. 3  and 4).  He is the divinely appointed and qualified high priest to show sympathy(5:1-10). Christ's priesthood is superior to Aaron because it is in the order of Melchizedek(Chapter. 7).In fact Hebrews Chapter eight marks a new division  in the epistle. Chapter eight starts with the statement that the old covenant was good but the new covenant Christ established is better. Because He is the great high priest for ever, He sat down on the right hand of the throne of God and His ministers in the true sanctuary of heaven. Earthly Tabernacle was only a type and shadow of the heavenly sanctuary. It was made in the pattern shown to Moses  by God and temporary. But Christ  ministers in the true heavenly sanctuary and His priesthood is eternal. Also He ministers under the new covenant of grace.The main function of the priest was to offer gifts and sacrifices to God for the people. Christ's death on the cross was the ultimate sacrifice. Levitical sacrifices and tabernacle were the shadows of heavenly things to come(8:5).So Christ is the mediator of better covenant with better promises(8:6).

From verses 7 to 13 , the author shows the superiority of the new covenant Jesus Christ established through His blood. He argues that if the first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no need for a second covenant(7:7). The author quotes Jeremiah 31:31-34 in the next five verses here. A covenant is an agreement between two parties.God in his grace made agreement which man receives. The covenants are the expressions of divine will designed to bring fellowship between God and men.  Old covenant was mediated by Moses between God and Israel. It was perfect, holy, righteous and good. It became faulty because of the failure Israel to obey.So it became invalid. The Lord sent His prophets again and again to renew His covenant with Israel. But they mocked them and despised their words until the wrath of the Lord was aroused against His people, and there was no remedy(2 Chro 36:15,16).Thus the first covenant failed to
accomplish it's purpose because of the weakness man.Prophet Jeremiah foretold about  a new and perfect covenant(31:31-34).

In due time Christ shed His blood to become the guarantee of a better covenant (7:22,Matt 26:27,28). This new covenant is not temporary and provisional, but eternal and effective to forgive our sins and bring fellowship with God. The new covenant mediated by Christ is central to Christian faith. What are the advantages of the new covenant over old covenant?
1.  It was made between God and His Son for the remission of our sins(Luke 22:20.
2.  It was sealed with the blood of Christ rather than the blood of animals(1Cor 11:25).
3.  Christ shed His blood for the forgiveness of sin of the world rather than Israel(John 1:29).
4.  It gives us the privilege to call God as our father(Rom 8:15).
5. Old covenant was written on stones, but new covenant is written in our heart through the ministry of the  Holy Spirit who indwells  in us(8:10; Ezk36:26,27).The ministry of the Holy Spirit is to glorify Christ in us by giving us the knowledge of God and guiding us in all truth((John 16:13-15;1Cor 2:10).
6. New covenant guarantees that God is merciful and  and remember our sins no more(8:12).
    It is not a licence to continue in sin. Our lives should not be characterized  by sin but righteousness,
    Everyone who is truly born of God lives righteously

God is always merciful(Ex 34:6,7). God promised that He will forgive our sins(Is 43:25;Ps 103:12). But it was not possible for the blood of animals to take away sins(Heb 10:4). Christ died to take away of the whole world (John 1:29;Heb 10:14). The new covenant is given not only for the Jews but to all who come to God by the person of Christ. Since Christ established the new covenant. the old covenant is obsolete and ready to be put aside(7:13). Do you enjoy the blessings of the new covenant?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Christ Is The Superior High Priest. Heb 7:1-28

In this chapter the author shows that the priesthood of Christ is superior to the levitical priesthood because it is after the order of Melchizedek. He points out that Melchizedek is an Old Testament type of Christ. Only twice Melchizedek is mentioned in the Old Testament(Gen 14:18-20; Psalm 110:4). In chapter 7:1-3, we see the historical account of Melchizedek.  His name means king of righteousness. He was the king of Jerusalem. So he was a king of righteousness and peace. He was also the priest of the most high God(Gen 14:18).He was without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days , nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God(7:3). There is not any  record of his birth or death in the Scripture to show that he is a type of Christ.

The author establishes the superiority of Melchizedek over the levitical priesthood by the fact that Abraham, the ancestor of Levi paid tithe to him and was blessed by Melchizedek. When Abraham paid tithe to Melchizedek, Levi was in turn offering tithe to Melchizedek.  Levi was the descended from Abraham.  Levitical priests were temporary and mortal.  Melchizedek was immortal.  Without any dispute the less is blessed of the better(7: 7,8). Law could not give people complete removal of sin and reconciliation to God. Law and the levitical priesthood are closely connected.  So it became necessary to give way to another priesthood after the order of Melchizedek to forgive sins and bring reconciliation to God.(Heb 7:11,12).

Christ is superior to Aaron because His priesthood is after the order of Melchizedek. Aaron was from the tribe of Levi but Christ came from Judah. Aaron's priesthood was by lineage and not confirmed by oath. It was changeable because of death. So Christ became  High Priest, not by meeting the requirements of law but by the power of life that cannot be destroyed.(7:16). His priesthood is eternal because Christ lives for ever. The Mosaic law was temporary and made nothing perfect, including the levitical priesthood. Whereas Christ lives for ever to make intercession for us. He  gives better hope.

Christ has become the surety of a better covenant. This new covenant is eternal and provides forgiveness of sin to all those who come to God through Christ (7:20-22).  There were many high priests under the old covenant. But Christ stands alone and His priesthood  will never end. Therefore His is able to save completely everyone who comes to God through Him(7:25). Also Christ is our perfect sacrifice and  ideal High priest.  Being perfect, He did not need to offer daily sacrifice for His sins(Lev 4:2,3). But Christ offered Himself  for our sins once on the cross. For He is holy, blameless,  undefiled, separate from sinners and made higher than heavens. He is both our perfect sacrifice and our great High Priest.  Those who trust Christ  are complete in Him(Col 2:10). Do you know Him?

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Danger Of Apostasy & The Assurance Of Hope

Hebrews 6:4-8 is a warning passage.  Here the author warns the danger of apostasy. This warning is to be taken in context with other similar warnings of this epistle. This is an epistle of exhortation to those who are in danger of neglecting the great salvation in Christ Jesus. Some think it is a hypothetical case. Others see this passage refers to believers. It is impossible for a true believer to fall from salvation. Salvation is of the Lord and it is an eternal gift. True  believers are not in danger of losing their salvation.Some think the author is addressing the apostates here. Apostates  are the professing Christians. They show every sign of being a Christians but never experienced the life transforming work of Christ.  Like the seeds fell by the way side, upon the stony places and among thorns, they never received Christ as their Lord and Savior(Matt 13:4-7). They were close to salvation but fall short of salvation because of unbelief. They may associate with true believers but they are not real believers(1 John 2:19). There is not such thing as one being saved, then become unsaved, and then saved again.

In Hebrews 6:4-5, five things are mentioned about these apostates. They were once enlightened, tasted the heavenly gift, partakers of the Holy Spirit,tasted the good word of God and tasted the powers of the world to come. If they fall away, they can't be renewed again repentance. Because they are nailing the Son of God to the cross again by rejecting Him and holding  Him unto public shame. Christ died once for our sins and it is not to be repeated(9:28).This passage is widely debated among believers. Here we see three important words representing different group of people.WE, in verses 3 and 9. They refer to the author and the Hebrew Christians. YOU, in verse 9, which refers to believers. THOSE  and THEY in verse 4 and 6 which refer to some one other than the first two groups.

They were enlightened people. They had the knowledge of truth concerning Jesus Christ, who is the light of the world. Many people saw His light but chose to live in darkness(John 3:19; 2:23-25). They tasted the heavenly gift namely Jesus Christ(John 3:16).Children of Israel tasted the heavenly gift manna in the wilderness but God was not pleased with them because of their unbelief( 1Cor 10:2-5).Jesus fed 5000 in the wilderness but many of them did not follow Him(John6:66). They were the partakers of Holy Spirit. Jesus taught and did miracles in the power of the Holy Spirit. People were healed and convicted of their sins but did not believed in Him. They sinned against the Holy Spirit(John 12:37). They tasted the good word of God. They heard the word of God but did not benefit them because of their unbelief(Heb 4:2; John 8:48,59). They tasted the powers of the world to come. Jesus taught about heaven, the coming kingdom and the doom of Satan. But Many of them did not believe. They are like ground  that receives rain but bring forth weeds and thorns.What a tragedy to reject untold blessings by living a halfhearted life of unbelief.  Here the author is pointing out apostates, the professing Christians. It is impossible to renew them again to repentance because Christ can't be crucified again and again. But those who believe in Christ their salvation becomes effective for rest of life.

In  verses 9-20 the author is hoping better things of  true believers. They are the beloved ones and persuaded better things of them." God will not forget your labor of love for others".They ministered to the needs of others which is a mark of their love for God(1John 4:20,21). Be diligent and follow the example of those who received the promises through faith and patience. Here author uses Abraham as an example. Abraham waited many years in faith to receive the promise. In his seed all families will be blessed and  is fulfilled in Christ(Gal 3:16). God confirmed His promise with two immutable things. They are the assurance of His promise and His oath(6:17). Our hope of salvation is in Christ and He is the anchor of our soul that reaches heaven. Christ has entered within the veil and He is our High Priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek. As our forerunner He has entered  heaven and we shall follow Him someday.  Do you have this assurance?. May God help us!!.