Friday, June 27, 2008

Hebrews Chapter 12

Hebrews Chapter 12
(1) “WHEREFORE SEEING WE ALSO ARE COMPASSED ABOUT WITH SO GREAT A CLOUD OF WITNESSES, LET US LAY ASIDE EVERY WEIGHT, AND THE SIN WHICH DOTH SO EASILY BESET US, AND LET US RUN WITH PATIENCE THE RACE THAT IS SET BEFORE US,”The composite is:1. The “cloud of witnesses” here mentioned,refers to all the Old Testament Saints.2. The “witnesses” does not refer here to the Saints looking down on Earth and observing the present situation, but rather that their faith was a witness or example to us who are presently running this race.3. The Christian runner must rid himself even of innocent things which might retard him, and most certainly of sins which greatly hinder.4. So long as he stands still, he does notfeel these “weights” and “sins” as being burdensome and hampering; however, once he begins to run, these encumbrances are instantly felt. To be sure, the Christian is “running this Christian race.”A CLOUD OF WITNESSES The phrase, “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses,” refers as stated to all the Old Testament Saints who looked forward to the coming Promise, Who is the Lord Jesus Christ,but who did not see the bringing about of that event in their lifetimes, but yet died in Faith believing that He would ultimately come. The word “witnesses” here doesn’t carry the idea of the Saints who are now in Heaven, watching and observing us as we run this race, as some teach. HEBREWS 12:1 JIMMY SWAGGART BIBLE COMMENTARY “Witnesses” as here used in the Greek is“martus,” which means “one who testifies,or can testify, to what he has seen or heard or knows by any other means.” It is used in a legal way in the sense of witnesses to a contractor legal document. In an ethical sense it was used in the early Church to designate those who have proved the strength and genuineness of their Faith in the Lord Jesus by undergoing a violent death. The worddoes not include in its meaning, the idea of aperson looking at something. Peter uses itof himself (I Pet. 5:1) as a witness of the sufferingsof Christ, that is, one who has beenretained and commissioned to testify to thesufferings of Christ which he has seen.The heroes of faith of the previous Chapterare the cloud of witnesses, testifying to theefficacy of the Faith way of salvation and victory.Paul calls them, so to speak, to the witnessstand to bear testimony to what they haveseen and heard and felt as to what Faith couldand did do for them, so that the Jews of hisday, and all other people for that matter,might become convinced that the Salvationwhich Christ wrought out on the Cross, mustbe appropriated by faith, not works (Wuest).The whole idea of Paul’s statement, consequently,is not that of these witnesses asspectators looking at this early scene fromHeaven, but rather, that their testimoniesserve as examples urging us on to Faith inChrist as our Great High Priest.THE VERACITY OF THE CROSSIn this entire scenario, we see somethingof utmost importance, which undergirds everythingthat Paul says in the entirety of thisEpistle to the Hebrews.The nation of Israel, as is obvious, andbecause they have rejected Christ and evencrucified Him, were continuing on in theirTemple worship. But worse than that, manyif not most Christian Jews were continuingto do the same thing. They were attemptingto meld the Law with Christ, with in fact,the Church in Jerusalem leading the way. Infact, I think one could say without fear ofexaggeration, that this of which I have justsaid was an abomination in the Eyes of God.For the Jews who had confessed the Nameof the Lord, the Holy Spirit through thisEpistle is calling them to flee the camp ofJudaism, with which they have been identifiedall too long after acknowledging theMessiahship and Saviorhood of the Lord Jesus.Judgment was soon to fall upon Jerusalem andthose who were linked with the temple service.The time had come to separate completelyfrom a system which God no longerrecognized because His Own Son had beenrejected and crucified. All of these things,and we continue to speak of temple worship,were now but empty forms which once hadbeen divinely appointed to typify the Personand Work of Christ. To attempt to reformthat system or to restore it to a place in theDivine favor was vain. The only path for thosewho would be faithful to God was that of separationfrom it all, but separation to the rejectedOne.As is known, the Lord used Titus the Romangeneral as His instrument, to destroyevery vestige of that old way. As stated it hadonce been right, actually called into being byGod; however, in its entirety it was meant toportray the Coming Redeemer Who with theOffering of Himself, would redeem humanity,which the blood of these bulls and goatsin their sacrifices could never do. But yet,they perfectly typified Him Who was to come.Now that He had come, and had paid theprice on Calvary’s Cross, to attempt to carryon this old way, which Christ had now fulfilled,was a mockery to God. It in effect stated,and loudly so, that what Jesus did at the Crosswas of no consequence.PAULIn fact, this was Paul’s greatest problemin the Early Church. Christian Jews camefrom the Church in Jerusalem (Gal. 2:11-15),attempting to infiltrate the Churches establishedby Paul, and thereby to insert theirgospel of legalism. In fact, much of the writingin Paul’s fourteen Epistles deals with thisissue. And if the Truth be known, had it notbeen for Paul, it is doubtful that the EarlyChurch could have weathered that storm.While there is every evidence that the originalTwelve (Matthias taking the place of Judas),stood with Paul; still, there is no recordthat they lifted their weight as they should inorder to oppose this scourge. In other words,at least as it regards this issue, it seems theylittle opposed the wrong direction of legalism,while at the same time accepting Paul’sMessage of Grace. Every record is, when putto the test, they came through with flyingcolors (Acts 15:7-12), and I continue to speakof the Twelve, but as it regards raising astrong voice against the continued practiceof the Law by many Christian Jews, it seemsthey were somewhat silent. However, concerningthis issue, I do not want to read moreinto the Text than should be read, but this Ido know:I think the Scriptures bear out in starkreality that which I have stated concerningthis issue, and above all, we know how muchthat God disdained the continued practice ofthe Law, by what He did to Jerusalem andthe Temple in A.D. 70, making it literallyimpossible to continue this type of worship.THE PRESENT APPLICATIONOF THE CROSSIf there was ever a glaring lesson portrayed,it is portrayed here. The entirety ofthe Epistle to the Hebrews could not be moreexplicit. As stated, it should be a stern warningto the Church.If the Lord detested in those days, theChurch, at least the Jewish section, attemptingto downplay the Cross, is He no less angeredpresently? In fact, it can be no otherway. Peter said:“But there were false prophets also amongthe people (in Old Testament times), evenas there shall be false teachers among you,who privily shall bring in damnable heresies,even denying the Lord that bought them, andbring upon themselves swift destruction.”He then said, “And many shall followtheir pernicious ways, by reason of whomthe way of truth shall be evil spoken of” (IIPet. 2:1-2).When the Apostle spoke of the Lord “buyingus” he of course, was speaking of whatJesus did at the Cross. The “heresies” hereof which he speaks, pertain totally and completelyto any so-called gospel which is outsideof the Cross, or makes less of the Crossthan it should.These false teachers of Paul’s day, did notdeny the Cross, they merely ignored it ashaving no bearing on one’s relationship withChrist, rather projecting Law, etc. It is thesame presently. For instance:Most of the modern Church, and I speakof those who claim to be fundamental in belief,opt for humanistic psychology as the answerto man’s problems. Most of thesePreachers, and they number in the tens ofthousands, do not deny the Cross of Christ,they merely ignore it. In other words, whilethey do not disavow the Cross as the answerfor the human condition, at the same time,they do not hold it up as the answer, ratherpromoting, as stated, humanistic psychology.However, any way it is approached, such actionis a vote of no confidence, as it regardsthe great Sacrifice of Christ, irrespective asto the claims of these religious leaders, etc.Although I’m not sure about the year (Ithink it was 1997), someone sent me a copyof the Pentecostal Evangel, which is theweekly voice of the Assemblies of God, thelargest Pentecostal Denomination in theworld. In that particular issue, as it regardsindividuals with problems, whatever thoseproblems might be, the editor was advocatingthe psychological 12-step programs, statingthat if the Church being attended did nothave such a program, they were to searchout one which did.In fact, the overseer of the Church of Godof Cleveland, Tennessee, the second largestPentecostal Denomination in the world, is apracticing Psychologist (the year 2000).There is no way these two systems of humanisticpsychology and the Sacrifice of Christcan be joined together. They are total opposites,which means that whichever one is accepted,the other must be blatantly rejected.I want to go on record loud and clear, assaying, that such a position is rank heresy,exactly as Peter stated! Now I think you understandwhy they detest this Evangelist.I can say no less as it regards the modern“faith movement.” Pure and simple, it is heresy.And please understand, these things, plusmuch and many we have not named, are heresysimply because of their denial of the Cross,whether by word or action. It is the sameidentical thing as the Christian Jews of Paul’sday were doing, which was ultimately answeredby the Wrath of God.Let the Reader understand, that all Believerswho sit under such ministries, i.e., “suchspiritual leadership,” will be greatly hinderedin their walk with God, and as some of theChristian Jews of Paul’s day, could even losetheir souls. We’re speaking here of the issuesof life and death, actually, the single mostimportant thing in the world. As someonehas well said, “We do what we do because webelieve what we believe.” So my point is this:It is absolutely impossible, for any Believerto sit under false teaching, and not come awayunaffected. The “leaven” will always affectits work, and if not ultimately rooted out,will ultimately corrupt the whole (Gal. 5:9).CORRECT DOCTRINEUnless one properly understands the Crossof Christ, which of course refers to His greatSacrifice, which is really the story of the Bible,one cannot properly understand the Word.It’s just that simple! To the degree one understandsthe Cross, accordingly one understandsthe Word.That’s the reason that Paul said, “But wepreach Christ Crucified” (I Cor. 1:23).That’s the reason he also said, “For I determinednot to know anything among you, saveJesus Christ and Him Crucified” (I Cor. 2:2).He also said, “But God forbid that I shouldglory, save in the Cross of our Lord JesusChrist, by Whom the world is crucified untome, and I unto the world” (Gal. 6:14).And then in Romans Chapter 6, whichsomeone has rightly labeled “the mechanicsof the Spirit,” the Apostle showed us exactlywhat the Cross means to us, not only in ourinitial Salvation experience, but as well, inour ongoing living for God. And then whenthe Cross is properly understood, even as RomansChapter 6 teaches, then the Apostleshows us in Romans Chapter 8, which hasbeen called “the dynamics of the Holy Spirit,”as to what the Spirit of God will do withinour hearts and lives, when we properly understandthe Cross, and put our Faith therein.As well, in Romans Chapter 7, the Apostleshows us the fruitless life of the Believer whoattempts to live this Christian experience byhis own strength and efforts, which meanshe is attempting to do so without the help ofthe Holy Spirit. In fact, this was the personalHEBREWS 12:1 JIMMY SWAGGART BIBLE COMMENTARYexperience of Paul after he was saved and NOTESbaptized with the Holy Spirit. He did not atthat time understand the Cross and what itall meant; therefore, he tried to live this lifeby the means of the flesh, which refers toour own efforts other and apart from theHoly Spirit. Of course, such a direction isimpossible!The Apostle concluded that terrible scenarioby saying, “O wretched man that I am!Who shall deliver me from the body of thisdeath?” (Rom. 7:24). Regrettably, the SeventhChapter of Romans is where most modernChristians find themselves. They do notknow the way of the Cross as outlined inRomans 6; therefore, they do not have thehelp of the Holy Spirit, at least as they shouldhave, as given to us in Romans Chapter 8.I’m trying to say, if the Preacher is notpreaching the Cross, he is not preaching theGospel. Consequently, those who sit undersuch ministries are going to be deeply affected,but all in the wrong way. Regrettably, that isthe state of most of the modern Church.THE WORKS OF THE FLESHThe phrase, “Let us lay aside every weight,and the sin which doth so easily beset us,”says several things to us:First of all, there are millions of Christianswho are attempting to obey this Verse,as it regards the “laying aside” of particularweights and sins in our hearts and lives; however,they are simply unable to do so. Why?If one properly understands the Cross,which refers to what Jesus there did for him,and puts his faith totally in that, which guaranteesthe help of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:2),then he will be free to “lay aside” these particularthings. Otherwise, it will be impossible!Within one’s own strength and ability, it isimpossible to obey this which the Holy Spirittells us through Paul that we must do. MostChristians who are struggling with somethingof this nature, do not think of themselvesas attempting to lay aside these weightsand sins by their own efforts and ability, butrather think they are attempting to do so bythe power of the Holy Spirit. They think becausethey are engaging themselves in spiritualthings, such as speaking in tongues,memorizing Scriptures and quoting them,having hands laid on them, praying and fasting,etc., that such is the Biblical way.While all of these things named, and manysuch like not named, are definitely Scriptural,and definitely right in their own way andplace, that’s not the answer to victory. Andthat comes as a shock to most Christians.Even though these things mentioned arespiritual things, in the manner in which theyare carried out in the hearts and lives of mostChristians, God looks at them as “works” orelse “walking after the flesh” (Rom. 8:1).Our problem is, we’ve turned these perfectlyScriptural disciplines into “works.”The secret to all Christian victory is simpleFaith in the Cross of Christ, which refers towhat He there did on our behalf. When youas a Believer make the Cross of Christ theobject of your Faith, and you continue to doso all the days of your life (Rom. 6:3-5, 11,14), then the Holy Spirit will begin to workwith you, doing within you and for you, thatwhich only He can do. I’m trying to say, thatyou cannot lay aside these weights and sinswithout the power of the Holy Spirit. Andconsidering that He works exclusively withinthe parameters of the great Sacrifice ofChrist, you must ever place your Faith in thatFinished Work. When you do this, and continueto do this, then it’s very easy to lay asidethese things mentioned. Otherwise, you willfight and struggle, and the harder you fightand struggle, the worse these problems becomein your heart and life (Rom. 8:1-2, 11).WORKS OF THE FLESH IN THE HEARTSAND LIVES OF CHRISTIANSIf the Believer doesn’t understand theCross, the works of the flesh will definitelyshow themselves in the heart and life of thatBeliever. I realize that’s a strong statement,but it happens to be true. And it doesn’t reallymatter who the Christian is, if the Crossis not properly understood, which refers toour dependence totally and completely on thegreat Sacrifice of Christ, without exception,works of the flesh are going to begin to showthemselves in one’s life. It is inevitable!That’s a chilling thought, but it happensto be true. Paul said:“Now the works of the flesh are manifest,which are these; adultery, fornication,JIMMY SWAGGART BIBLE COMMENTARY HEBREWS 12:1
uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft,hatred, variance, emulations, wrath,strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders,drunkenness, revellings, and such like” (Gal.5:19-21). What was happening was this:Paul had established the Galatian Churches.Of course, they had been established on theright foundation, which means that theGalatians had the proper teaching. They hadbeen saved by trusting in the shed Blood ofChrist, and they were kept by continuing faithin the Cross.However, false teachers came in fromJerusalem, attempting to add Law to Grace,which of course, is impossible. That’s thereason that Paul wrote this Epistle to theGalatians, and the reason he was so harsh inmany of his statements.What was being taught these Galatians bythese false teachers was heresy. And Paulknew that if they accepted this false teaching,it would fall out to great spiritual harmon their part, and possibly even the loss oftheir souls. He plainly tells them here, thatattempting to travel a course of any directionother than the Cross is going to lead toworks of the flesh being manifested.Now many Christians may look at this list,beginning with “adultery, fornication, uncleanness,and lasciviousness,” and automaticallythink, “I’m not guilty of these,” etc.However, the truth is, that these terrible vicesbegin in the heart, before they’re carried outin the act. My statement is this:It is impossible for any Christian to notharbor the thoughts of these terrible sins inhis heart, unless his faith and trust are completelyin the great Sacrifice of Christ, whichthen gives him the help of the Holy Spirit.Not performing the act is not enough. Theremust not even be any desire within our hearts.In fact, these first four sins mentioned in Verse19, are far more widespread in Christendomthan one would think.For instance, most Christians would noteven remotely think of themselves as committingthe sin of “idolatry”; however, if we’relooking to anything else for life and victoryoutside of the Cross of Christ, we have madean idol of that thing, and most of the time, itcenters up in “self.” In other words, we’re tryingto live this life by our own machinations,whether we understand it or not, and we havemade an idol out of “self.” And yet, manyChristians make idols out of their religiousDenominations, their particular Church, oreven particular Preachers. In other words,their trust is in those things and those people,whomever they might be, instead of the Sacrificeof Christ.At this very moment, millions of Christiansthink that by belonging to a certainDenomination, that such insures Salvationor at least some type of spiritual superiority.Pure and simple they have made an idol outof that Denomination or Church.And then look at “heresy.” Any belief systemother than the Cross of Christ is heresy.That’s a strong statement, but it is true!Because of its seriousness, let me say itagain:If you as a Believer do not properly understandthe Cross of Christ, and thereby makethat the object of your Faith, which guaranteesthe help of the Holy Spirit, the “worksof the flesh” are going to manifest themselvesin your life. And unless they’re rooted out,you could lose your soul (Gal. 5:21). Theidea is we must go God’s Way. Any otherway leads to death. The Holy Spirit throughSolomon plainly said, “There is a way whichseemeth right unto a man, but the endthereof are the ways of death” (Prov. 14:12).FALSE DIRECTIONThere are some Christians who think theyunderstand the Cross and Grace, but in fact,understand it erroneously, thereby turningthe liberty of grace into license. In otherwords, inasmuch as the Grace of God is greaterthan all sin, in which it definitely is, then, sothey think, sin is not so very serious. The ideais, sin doesn’t matter so much, they say, becauseGrace abounds (Rom. 5:20).Nothing could be farther from the Truth!Paul’s answer to that was, “What shall we saythen? Shall we continue in sin, that gracemay abound?”He then said, “God forbid. How shall we,that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?”(Rom. 6:1-2).The Lord doesn’t save us in sin, but ratherfrom sin. And once we’re saved, the HolySpirit comes within our hearts and lives, andHEBREWS 12:1 JIMMY SWAGGART BIBLE COMMENTARYit is His business to rid us of all sin. Now NOTESplease understand that statement, becauseit’s very, very important.The Holy Spirit works tirelessly, to helpus “lay aside every weight and sin which dothso easily beset us.” Sin is a terrible affront toGod. It is the cause of all the sorrow, heartacheand problems in the world today, and infact ever has been. The Cross of Christ is God’sanswer to sin. In fact, that should tell us exactlyhow awful that sin is. To address thisproblem, God had to become man, and hadto go to the Cross in order that the terribleguilt and power of sin might be broken. So,as a Christian, sin is abhorrent to us, even asit must be abhorrent to us.THE LAW OF THE SPIRIT OFLIFE IN CHRIST JESUSIn fact, this problem is so horrible thatthe Lord referred to it as the “law of sin anddeath” (Rom. 8:2). This means, as shouldbe understood, that sin will bring death andwill bring it in every capacity. There is onlyone power that can overcome that particularlaw, and that is another Law. It is called,“the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus”(Rom. 8:2). This Law and this Law alone, canovercome the law of sin and death. But howdoes it do this?In fact, most Christians don’t have theslightest idea as to how the “Law of the Spiritof Life in Christ Jesus,” performs this task.If most think about it at all, they just sort ofthink it’s automatic, or something whichjust happens.Others think because they speak with othertongues occasionally, that this is the answer.While tongues definitely are Scriptural andreal, and are definitely a blessing to any Saintof God, that’s not what this Passage is speakingabout.First, and as we’ve already explained in thisVolume, this of which we speak is a “Law,”which means, that it was devised by God, andto be sure, it is going to be kept. And when Isay “kept,” I’m meaning that the Holy Spiritis going to keep this Law, and of that one canbe sure.It is called “The Law of the Spirit of Life,”because it generates life in the heart and life ofthe Believer. Where does this life come from?The total phrase is, “The Law of the Spiritof Life in Christ Jesus,” which means, that thisLife comes exclusively from Christ.To be sure, Christ has always had Life. Heis God, so Life flows from Him; however, ittook the Cross for that Life to be impartedunto us.That’s what Jesus was talking about whenHe said, “If any man thirsts, let him comeunto Me, and drink. He that believeth on Me,as the Scripture hath said, out of his innermostbeing shall flow rivers of living water”(Jn. 7:37-38).And then John said, “But this spake He ofthe Spirit, which they that believe on Himshould receive: for the Holy Spirit was notyet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified”(Jn. 7:39).Thank the Lord, Jesus has now been glorified,which means, that He died on the Crosson our behalf, was raised from the dead, withHis Sacrifice being accepted by God. He wasglorified the moment He was raised from thedead, which means that His appearance onour behalf in the Presence of God is guaranteed(Heb. 9:24).All of this “Life” comes from Christ, butmore particularly, is made possible by whatHe did at the Cross. As we’ve already stated,Christ is God, and as such, has always hadlife. The problem was He could not impartthis life to Believers, except through the Personof the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spiritcould not carry out this work, until Christhad affected His great Sacrifice at the Cross.At the Cross, Christ removed the sin debt ofman, by atoning for all sin, past, present, andfuture, at least for those who will believe (Jn.3:16). When this was done, the Holy Spiritcould then impart the Life of Christ to seekingsouls. That alone gives victory over thelaw of sin and death.FAITHTo have this great impartation of lifewhich Paul speaks about in Romans 8:2, onesimply has to exhibit Faith in the FinishedWork of Christ. Perhaps I can say it betterin this manner:One does not have to worry about the HolySpirit doing His Office work within our heartsand lives, which is to rid us of all sin, andJIMMY SWAGGART BIBLE COMMENTARY HEBREWS 12:1
Thank the Lord, Jesus has now been glorified, which means, that He died on the Cross on our behalf, was raised from the dead, with His Sacrifice being accepted by God. He was glorified the moment He was raised from the dead, which means that His appearance on our behalf in the Presence of God is guaranteed (Heb. 9:24).
All of this “Life” comes from Christ, but more particularly, is made possible by what He did at the Cross. As we’ve already stated, Christ is God, and as such, has always had life. The problem was He could not impart this life to Believers, except through the Person of the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit could not carry out this work, until Christ had affected His great Sacrifice at the Cross. At the Cross, Christ removed the sin debt of man, by atoning for all sin, past, present, and future, at least for those who will believe (Jn. 3:16). When this was done, the Holy Spirit could then impart the Life of Christ to seeking souls. That alone gives victory over the law of sin and death.
To have this great impartation of life which Paul speaks about in Romans 8:2, one simply has to exhibit Faith in the Finished Work of Christ. Perhaps I can say it better in this manner:
One does not have to worry about the Holy Spirit doing His Office work within our hearts and lives, which is to rid us of all sin, and
thereby to perfect the Fruit of the Spirit within our lives, providing our Faith is in the Cross of Christ. That’s what Paul was speaking about incessantly in Romans 4, where he spoke of the Faith of Abraham, when he said,
“Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for Righteousness” (Rom. 4:3).
To sum it all up, Abraham was believing in what God was going to do as it regarded sending a Redeemer into this world. That’s why Jesus addressed Himself to this by saying to the Jews, “Your Father Abraham rejoiced to see My day: and he saw it, and was glad” (Jn. 8:56).
Faith exclusively is the ingredient by which God works. And by that statement, it is always meant “Faith in the great Sacrifice of Christ.” As I’ve said over and over again, if we think of Jesus outside of the Cross, we are not properly understanding Him. That’s why Paul said, “Jesus Christ and Him Crucified” (I Cor. 2:2).
When we place our Faith in what Christ did for us at the Cross, this shows that we understand that we could not do this thing ourselves, and that He had to do it for us, which He did. This denotes humility along with Faith and Trust in Christ, and Christ exclusively. Then we won’t try to live this life by our own strength and ability, but will do so by Faith in Christ, which always refers to Faith in what He did at the Cross. This gives the Holy Spirit the latitude which He must have, in order to perform His work within our hearts and lives.
Many Christians are fond of referring to themselves as “Resurrection Saints,” etc. Most of the time, those who say this, are belittling the Cross.
Of course, the Resurrection as should be overly obvious, is of extreme importance; however, let the Reader understand, that the Resurrection was a foregone conclusion once Jesus died. The fact that He atoned for all sin, which opened up the way to God for all men, at least all who will believe, guaranteed His Resurrection.
The wages of sin is death, and there being no sin in Christ, and due to the fact that He had atoned for all sin, Satan could not keep
Him in the death world. To be sure, the Evil One could definitely keep every other person who had ever lived in that death world, even the great Patriarchs and Prophets of the Old Testament, and because, the sin debt still hung over their heads. So he had a right to make them his captives, which he did, even though he could only go so far with that captivity (Eph. 4:8-10).
But Jesus had no sin. The Scripture says of Him, “For such an High Priest became us, Who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens” (Heb. 7:26). Therefore, death could not hold Him.
Furthermore, Paul also said, “For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His Resurrection” (Rom. 6:5).
This means, that we definitely cannot enjoy the fruits of His Resurrection, unless we properly understand the “likeness of His death,” which means that we were actually “planted into His death” (Rom. 6:3).
As important as the Resurrection was and is, it was not the Resurrection which affected your Salvation, but rather the Cross. That’s why Paul said, “I will glory in the Cross” (Gal. 6:14). He didn’t say, “I will glory in the Resurrection,” etc.
In fact, the moment that Jesus died on the Cross, the Scripture says, “when He had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the Ghost.” It then said:
“And, behold, the Veil of the Temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom” (Mat. 27:50-51).
This signified that the way to God, even into His very Presence of the Holy of Holies, was now open, and open to all, who would avail themselves of what Christ did at the Cross on their behalf. This didn’t await the Resurrection, and for all the obvious reasons.
That way was opened at the Cross, and with it then opened, the Resurrection of Christ was a foregone conclusion.
Therefore, while it is definitely true that we are “Resurrection people” we are that only because of what Jesus did at the Cross on our behalf. In fact, in spirit, we are actually seated at this very moment with Christ in Heavenly Places (Eph. 2:6); however, we are there solely
and completely because of the Cross, and nothing else we might quickly add!
The phrase, “And let us run with patience the race that is set before us,” refers to the fact, that we don’t run too very well, if we are encumbered by “weights” which greatly slow us down, and “sin” which can get us off the track completely. Let’s say it again:
“Weights” drastically slow us down, while “sin” can “easily beset us,” which refers to getting us off the track completely.
The specific word for a race (dromos) is not used here, the general term for an athletic contest (agon) being chosen instead. This gives the idea of a certain type of race which is placed before the Christian. It is like a road that stretches out before one’s gaze (Wuest).
The idea of this “race” is finishing the course. It is not the idea of all running, and only the one who crosses the finish line first is the winner. The idea is, that the Believer not quit this race, not stop running, but run completely until the finish line is crossed. It doesn’t really matter how many times the person falls down on this particular course, just as long as he gets up and keeps running. Of course, any distraction is a severe hindrance as would be obvious. So we’re not taking lightly any distractions along the way; however, the emphasis is on finishing the course, hence Paul saying of himself, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course” (II Tim. 4:7).
“Patience” in the Greek is “hupomone,” and “includes both passive endurance and active persistence.” It implies that there will be hindrances along the way, all placed there by Satan, with the intention of causing the Believer to quit running altogether, or else to run in a wrong direction. Both, as would be obvious, are extremely destructive.
We not only have to run this race, but we have to run it in the right direction, and it is sin, which can get us off course. And what is that sin?
Whatever it might be, whatever course it takes, whatever direction is takes, it can be
traced back to “unbelief.” And what do we mean by that?
If it is to be noticed, Paul used the definite article when he said, “the sin.” He is actually referring to trusting in something else other than the Cross. That is “the sin!”
The words “easily beset” are the translation of the Greek “euperistatos,” meaning “readily, deftly, cleverly.” It also means, “to place itself around.” It speaks of the sin that readily and easily encircles the Christian runner, like a long, loose robe clinging to his limbs, which will have a tendency to throw him off course. In fact, because of unbelief in the Cross of Christ, whether through ignorance or otherwise, millions of Christians are running a race, but it’s in the wrong direction. Consequently, it will not come out to a correct conclusion, but rather to the loss of their souls. That’s how critical this thing actually is.
In simple terms, “patience” refers to the following:
These things I’m teaching you are not learned easily. It may seem simple enough to put our Faith in the Cross of Christ and to leave it there; however, Satan fights this more than he fights anything else. And to be sure, he fights it moreso from inside the Church than from anywhere else.
The idea is, this “Cross Life,” this “Law of the Spirit of Life which is in Christ Jesus,” is not an uneventful course. It is somewhat like running a gauntlet. There are enemies on either side of the course who are attempting to drag us down, and doing so by any means at their disposal. The only way we can win, which means to run straight and true, is to keep our eyes on Christ Who in fact, has run this race before us, and has already won the victory on our behalf. If we trust in what He has done for us, which again refers to the Cross, we are guaranteed to cross the finish line. But only if we keep our eyes on Him!
We must never forget, that our Faith is never quite as strong as we think it is. That’s the reason we have to “grow in grace and the knowledge of the Lord.” That’s the reason it’s referred to as the “Fruit of the Spirit,” which refers to the fact, that fruit has to be cultivated and has to grow. In other words, none of this comes easily or quickly.
Unfortunately, in the last several decades, we have been taught that all we have to do is to confess the right thing, and it instantly comes to us. None of that is Scripturally correct. While a right confession is definitely important, it is only the confession that one has in the Cross of Christ which stands the test. That’s the confession we must have. In fact, that’s why Paul said:
“Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 6:11).
The word “reckon” refers to a conclusion or bottom line. The idea is, I will confess what Jesus has done for me at the Cross, and thereby reckon myself to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ my Lord.
Paul also said, “For we through the Spirit wait for the Hope of Righteousness by Faith” (Gal. 5:5).
The word “wait” here refers to patience, and could be translated “wait patiently.”
Wait patiently for what?
We want Righteousness totally and completely to be affected within our hearts and lives. Only the Spirit of God can do this. When we look at ourselves, too often we see failure instead of victory. That’s why it’s referred to as “the hope of Righteousness.”
In Christ I have a position of Righteousness, which refers to imputed Righteousness, which refers to Righteousness that was given to me without merit or price, upon my Faith in Christ when I was saved. However, the development of Righteousness in my heart and life is a Work of the Spirit, which requires time and patience. In other words, the Holy Spirit is busy bringing my “condition of Righteousness,” up to my “position of Righteousness.” As stated, this is not done easily or quickly.
But we are to continue to have Faith that the Spirit is going to work this out within our hearts and lives, which He definitely will, if we will maintain our Faith in what Christ did for us at the Cross.
As I’ve stated elsewhere in this Volume, the Lord can deal with failures. In fact, there has never been a Believer who hasn’t failed at one time or the other, and in fact, many times. And when I speak of “failure,” I’m speaking
actually of being overcome by sin, and thereby sinning in some way. But God can deal with failures, and in fact, He has already done so at the Cross. But God cannot deal with quitters.
That’s what Satan wants you to do — quit. He wants you to get discouraged and stop. He wants you to say, “I’ve tried the Cross and it doesn’t work for me,” or words to that effect. But I have good news for you.
The very next Verse in this Twelfth Chapter of Hebrews, tells us what we are to do:
1. It is to Jesus we must look. 2. It is Him and what He did for us at the Cross, in which our Faith must be placed. 3. The Cross must ever be the object of our Faith, which is the price that He paid. 4. By the mere fact of Christ being presently seated at the right hand of the Throne of God, refers to the fact, that what He did for us at the Cross will see us through, if we maintain our Faith in His Finished Work. LOOKING UNTO JESUS
The short phrase, “Looking unto Jesus,” means we are to run this race “with no eyes for anyone or anything except Jesus.” It is He toward Whom we run. There must be no divided attention.
“Looking” in the Greek is “apharao,” and means “to turn the eyes away from other things and fix them on something.” The word also means, “to turn one’s mind to a certain thing.” Both meanings are applicable here, the spiritual vision turned away from all else and together with the mind, concentrated on Jesus.
Paul is continuing to speak of the “race.” The minute the Greek runner in the stadium takes his attention away from the race course and the goal to which he is speeding, and turns it upon the onlooking crowds, his speed is slackened. It is so with the Christian. The minute he takes his eyes off of the Lord Jesus,
and turns them upon others, his pace in the Christian life is slackened, and his onward progress in grace hindered (Wuest).
However, the word “looking,” as stated, also carries the idea of not only fixing our gaze on something, in this case Christ, but as well, to turn our mind to a certain thing. What is that certain thing?
Most of the Christian world looks at Jesus in all the wrong ways. In fact, it is so wrong most of the time, that Paul referred to the situation as “another Jesus” (II Cor. 11:4).
We must not only fix our yes on Him as a Person, but we must turn our mind to a certain thing as it regards Him, and that refers to the price that He paid, which Paul will refer to in this Verse. In other words, when we look at Christ, we are to look at Him as the crucified Lord, Who has been raised from the dead, and is now seated with God in Heavenly Places (Eph. 2:6), and as well, has been highly exalted, and given a name which is above every name (Phil. 2:9).
But all of this is because of what He did at the Cross.
So, we must always look to Him as the Sacrifice, which paid the terrible debt of my sin, thereby making it possible for me to be justified by Faith, and thereby for the Holy Spirit to come in and abide (Gal. 3:13-14).
Many Christians are looking exclusively to a healing Jesus. To be sure, He definitely is the Healer, but if we attempt to understand that apart from the Cross, then we are not properly looking at Him. The same can be said for the miracle Jesus, the Church Jesus, the Blessing Jesus, etc. To be sure, Jesus is everything to us, however, He is everything to us strictly on the merit of what He did for us at the Cross.
God has always had an abundance of Grace. In fact, I think one could say without any fear of contradiction, that God is Grace. So, the fact of Grace has never been the question. The great question was, as to how this Grace could be imparted to sinful man.
The Cross of Christ was and is the answer to that. Through the Cross as a medium, or an instrument if you please, God was able to impart Grace to undeserving sinners.
How did the Cross make all of this possible?
It made it possible, because there Jesus dealt with the sin question, by atoning for all sin. He did so by His Death. Man’s simple faith in this great Finished Work of Christ, then makes it possible for God to pour Grace upon the undeserving individual.
In fact, it is not possible to deserve Grace. The very moment we think we do, that’s when we nullify Grace. That’s why Paul said, “I do not frustrate the Grace of God: for if Righteousness come by the Law, then Christ is dead in vain” (Gal. 2:21).
Christians frustrate the Grace of God, which spells total defeat for that particular Christian, by trying to live the Christian life, without the help of the Spirit. That is done by us trying to do the work ourselves, which means we’re not looking to the Cross of Christ. Looking to the Cross, allows the Spirit to work, which then gives us an uninterrupted flow of the Grace of God.
So, the Reader must ask himself as to what type of Jesus to whom he is looking? There is nothing more important!
The phrase, “The Author and Finisher of our Faith,” proclaims Who He is, and What He did! Actually the Text in the Greek reads:
“The Author and Finisher of the Faith.”
“Author” in the Greek is “archegos.” Here it means not so much that Christ perfected Faith, but rather that He as our leader, Who by His death has opened up a new way — a way that has bridged the gap between Earth and Heaven itself. Jesus is the pioneer Who has created the path that we now follow by Faith into the very Presence of God. He did this by and through the Cross.
“Finisher” in the Greek is “teleioo,” and means “to carry through completely, to finish, to make perfect or complete.” While the idea definitely directs itself to the development of our Faith, it moreso directs itself to the manner in which this is done. Once again it is the Cross.
That’s the reason we keep saying that one’s Faith must ever be anchored in the Cross of Christ. The Cross must ever be the object of
our Faith. This is the manner in which we begin Faith, the manner in which we develop Faith, and the manner in which we finish our Faith, i.e., “bring it out to full development.” This is all done by what He did at the Cross on our behalf.
So, the only way we can rightly run this race that is set before us, is by looking unto Jesus, understanding that it is Faith in what He did at the Cross, which will guarantee us the finishing of this course.
This is the reason that I keep saying that Faith placed in anything else, is in reality no Faith at all. In fact, the Church has had more teaching on Faith in the last half of the 20th Century, than possibly all the other centuries put together; however, for the most part, it has been Faith in something else other than the Cross. Consequently, it is Faith that God will not recognize, which the Holy Spirit cannot bless, and which will fall out to no good for the Believer.
As Paul referred to “another Jesus,” and “another spirit,” and “another gospel,” we might as well refer to “another faith.” In essence, this is what Paul did say when he made the statement:
“I marvel that ye (the Galatians) are so soon removed from Him that called you into the Grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another” (Gal. 1:6-7).
He could just as easily have said there “another faith,” because that’s what the word “gospel,” actually means.
As Hebrews 12:2 so graphically illustrates, it is only Faith in the Cross of Christ which God will recognize as true Faith. Jesus is the Author and Finisher only of “the Faith,” which refers to His great Sacrificial, Atoning Work.
The phrase, “Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the Cross, despising the shame,” refers to what He was before the Incarnation, and that He gave it all up in order to redeem humanity, even though it would have to be done through and by the horrible agony and shame of the Cross. It carries the same connotation as, “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made Himself of no reputation,
and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.”
Paul then said, “And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross” (Phil. 2:6-8).
If mankind was to have a way to God, which would be through Faith and Faith alone, it could only be brought about by Christ going to the Cross, despite the fact of its awful, ignominious shame. What He gave up on our behalf, cannot be comprehended by mere mortals. We can only go so far into that unknown, and then we have to withdraw. Being mere creatures, we cannot comprehend the Creator becoming a creature, which in fact, He had to do, in order to redeem mankind.
God couldn’t die; therefore, inasmuch as the price of death was demanded, God would have to become man, in order for this terrible thing to be carried out. The terrible fact of sin had to be addressed, and it would have to be addressed full throttle so to speak!
To be sure, even as the phrase “endured the Cross” proclaims, this particular death was an awful thing. It was so awful in fact, that it beggars description.
It was not so much Him dying, but rather what He had to do in His dying. He would have to bear the sin guilt of the entirety of mankind and for all time. The penalty of every single sin, and no matter how vile it may have been or might be, must be laid upon Him. Actually, this is what the great Prophet Isaiah said:
“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isa. 53:6).
Oh how I sense the Presence of God even as I dictate these words. The idea is that the iniquities of men fell all at once upon Him and He bore them away. Jehovah caused the sins of the whole world to meet upon Him. He suffered the judgment for them all, which judgment was death.
“Shame” in the Greek is “aischune,” and means “disgrace, disfigurement.” The idea is, that He despised the shame attendant upon a death by crucifixion, namely, the fact that this kind of a death was meted out upon malefactors.
No citizen of the Roman Empire was crucified, no matter his or her crime. Crucifixion was only for slaves, and even the worst criminals among slaves, etc.
Actually, this is the reason that the religious leaders of Israel demanded His crucifixion. Execution according to Jewish Law was by stoning, but they wanted Him crucified.
They were well acquainted with Deuteronomy 21:22-23, which stated, “And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be to be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree: His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God;) that thy land be not defiled, which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.”
In the evil minds of these religious leaders, if they could persuade Pilate to crucify Him, their thinking was that His claims regarding Messiahship would be blasted. The people would think that if He was really the Messiah, God surely wouldn’t allow Him to be crucified, which meant that He was cursed of God.
What they didn’t understand was, this was the very purpose and reason for His coming. The Cross was ever His destination, even having been predicted through Moses by the “serpent on the pole,” which was a graphic object lesson, and to which Jesus referred in His conversation with Nicodemus (Num. 21:9; Jn. 3:14).
Nevertheless, the shame and disgrace were awful. Beside the ignominious horror of being crucified, He hung on the Cross, literally stripped of all clothing. The artists in attempting to portray this scene, picture Him with a loincloth over His privates; however, He was not afforded even that on this horrible day. He died in shame and disgrace, in fact, all that evil men could heap upon Him.
As well, it must be remembered that it was not so much the world which did this, even though Rome definitely was a complicitor, but rather the Church of that day. It was the religious leaders of Israel who perpetrated this foul, dastardly, hideous scheme. They murdered their own Messiah.
The tragedy is, that Satan always works more grandly inside the Church than he does otherwise. The irony is, they crucified the Lord in the Name of the Lord! Hence Jesus crying on the Cross, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Lk. 23:34).
Whenever any part of the modern Church opposes the Cross, holds up another means as a proposed way of Salvation, and more specifically opposes the Messenger of the Cross, they are in effect, “trodding underfoot the Son of God, and counting the Blood of the Covenant . . . an unholy thing.” They are “doing despite unto the Spirit of Grace” (Heb. 10:29). In other words, they are of the same crowd that crucified Christ some 2,000 years ago, and because they are of the same spirit.
The tragic thing about this is, this crowd as then, is in the far, far greater majority. As there were few who stood up for Christ on that dark day of so long ago, there are few who truly stand up for Him at present.
Oh to be sure, they claim to stand up for Him, but the Truth is, the Jesus they promote, is not the Crucified One, but rather “another Jesus, which is another gospel, all promoted by another spirit” (II Cor. 11:4).
So the Reader must ask himself the question, as it regards the Church where he attends, and the Preacher to whom he follows, is Christ being preached, the Christ of the Cross, even as Paul outlines in 12:2, or is it another Christ?
The ethical gospel is primarily the gospel presently being preached in most of the modern Church world. And what do we mean by that?
This gospel touts the “golden rule,” proclaims the necessity of “doing good,” and “not doing bad things,” etc. It all sounds good to the carnal ear; regrettably, it is believed by most.
The Lord Jesus Christ is held up as a good man, even as an example, but if inspected closely, He is only window dressing for this ethical gospel.
None of that will save anyone, will deliver anyone, will set any captive free, and in fact, will address the sin question at all. Pure and simple, it is a gospel of “works.”
In the first place, man is incapable within himself of “doing good.” While he may keep some part of the so-called golden rule some of the time, the truth is, he woefully falls down regarding that which God demands, which is a spotless, pure Righteousness.
Man’s problem is sin, and that means that man’s condition is terminal. As well, sin is so awful, so vile, so destructive, so powerful, and has such a force to its application, that it takes more than mere rules to address the horror of this situation. In fact, even as we are now studying, it took the Cross.
The only answer for a hurting, dying, Hell-bound world, is Jesus Christ and Him Crucified. There is no other answer! Jesus as the “good man,” or even as the “miracle worker,” will not suffice. It is only what He did at the Cross which addresses this horrible problem and sets the captive free.
And to accept Him, one must do much more than portray a vapid, mental acceptance of the Cross. Jesus addressed this very succinctly when He said, “Verily, verily I say unto you, except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His Blood, you have no life in you” (Jn. 6:53).
What did He mean by that?
First of all, He wasn’t speaking of literally eating His flesh and drinking His Blood, because He then said, “It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (Jn. 6:63).
He was speaking of the death that He would die on the Cross, which of course, would necessitate the shedding of His Precious Blood, which would atone for all sin.
And for one to reap the benefits of what He there did, one must place such Faith in that Finished Work, that the Holy Spirit through Paul would explain it by saying that we are literally “baptized into His death” (Rom. 6:3).
This definitely means to accept Christ, but more than all, it means accepting what He did at the Cross on our behalf, understanding that this was the only way that man could be saved, and that we must believe in His death totally and completely as the only solution that answers this terrible need.
If we treat the Cross lightly, we are not eating His flesh and drinking His Blood. If
we ignore the Cross, certainly we should understand that we aren’t eating His flesh and drinking His Blood. If we suggest something in addition to the Cross, that means we aren’t properly eating His flesh or drinking His Blood.
We must understand, that our Salvation, our Victory, our eternal life, our relationship with the Lord, literally everything we have, and ever hope to have, are all found in the Cross of Christ, and exclusively the Cross.
The ancient, Jewish Passover, is an excellent case in point. They literally “ate the Passover,” which refers to the lamb that was roasted, etc.
The eating of this little animal, and by all means eating it all, refers to the entire family, which they were commanded to do (Ex. 12:10). All of this typified Christ, and more particularly, the Sacrifice that He would make of Himself on the Cross.
Unless you as a Believer fully understand that every single thing you have from God comes exclusively through the Cross of Christ and in no other way, which means that your Church, or certain Preachers, or your good works, will never suffice — until you come to that place and position, you aren’t actually “eating His flesh, and drinking His Blood.” Once again, it is the matter of the correct object of your Faith. It must be the Cross and the Cross exclusively.
Now if you read these words, and have doubts about what I’m saying, then your Faith is not exclusively in the Cross, but is divided, or is totally in something else. That means that you either aren’t saved, or else you are fastly going in a wrong direction, which will only lead to spiritual destruction somewhere down the road. There is no alternative to this thing, it is the Cross or it is nothing!
In fact, that shouldn’t be hard to understand. The entirety of the Old Testament points to the Cross of Christ, as it regards all the prophecies, and as it regards the Law of Moses. Of all the hundreds of millions of Sacrifices offered over the some 1,600 years of Mosaic Law, every single one of those Sacrifices pointed to the Cross, and did so in such a graphic manner that the object lesson is
unmistakable. And now that the Cross is a fact, the entirety of the Message of the Apostle Paul, who in fact was given the meaning of the New Covenant, points directly and squarely to the Cross. In fact, the meaning of the New Covenant is actually the meaning of the Cross (Rom. 6:3-14). But yet, Satan fights the Cross as he fights nothing else, and for all the obvious reasons!
As I’ve already said several times in this Volume, the Church has already entered into the last great apostasy. And by that I speak of the events which are soon to come upon this world, the rise of the Antichrist, the coming great Tribulation, the Second Coming, all which will be preceded by the Rapture of the Church.
One writer said some time ago, and he was completely correct, that while much of the Church is claiming that conditions are getting better and better, the Bible teaches the very opposite. The reason the Church thinks this, is because they’re not looking at the situation spiritually, but rather carnally.
The apostasy of which the Word of God describes (I Tim. 4:1-2; II Tim. 3:1-7), is as should be obvious, a spiritual apostasy, which refers to a departure from Truth.
The modern Church has never been richer and has never been bigger. But it’s like a 500 pound man: while he may be big, he is certainly not healthy.
At this particular time, the majority of the modern Church can be labeled as “having itching ears.” Consequently, they are heaping to themselves teachers who will cater to “their own lusts,” and because they “will not endure sound doctrine” (II Tim. 4:3-4). Consequently, they have “turned away their ears from the Truth, and are turned unto fables.” That is the condition of the modern Church presently, more so, I think, than it’s been in the entirety of its history.
The Church has departed from the Cross, which means they have departed from the Truth, which means they are seeking “fables.” So, the Bible teaches this:
The spiritual situation must deteriorate before the Rapture of the Church can take place, instead of otherwise. I realize that’s
not commonly taught, and in fact, is taught almost not at all. But it just happens to be the truth (II Tim. 3:1-7).
This will serve to separate the true from the false. And the dividing line will be, and in fact is, the Cross of Christ. In fact, it has always been the Cross, but it’s going to be the Cross presently more than ever!
Paul said that Jesus had to “endure the Cross.” Why did He have to do that?
As we’ve already stated, the Cross was the most shameful death that could be devised by evil men. Jesus had to go to the Cross, even though this was the most shameful spectacle, and in fact, because it was the most shameful spectacle.
Even though He wasn’t cursed by God, and because He had never done anything to warrant such a curse; still, He had to be made a curse for us, which means that He took the curse which we should have taken (Gal. 3:13-14).
And the curse which He took, had to include every sin that had ever been committed, and would ever be committed, even the vilest. That curse was death, but it was death in the most shameful, ignominious, horrifying, humiliating way. In other words, Jesus literally died as a spectacle of shame. He died between two thieves, and was mocked by the religious leaders of Israel while He was dying (Lk. 23:35-36).
The Cross was necessary, and in all of its ignoble horror, simply because the sin of man was so bad. That’s the problem with mankind, and more specifically, that’s the problem with the Church.
It doesn’t want to admit how bad the situation is, thinking it can be addressed by their own pitiful efforts.
It is understandable that the unredeemed would think such things, but not so understandable at all as it regards the Church. For any Preacher or any Christian for that matter, to demean the Cross in any way, to belittle the Cross in any way, to place it in a subservient position, and God forbid, to deny the Cross, is at the same time saying, “I can save myself.” Coming from Christians, and I might say Christians so called, can be concluded as none other than “blasphemy!”
The horror of the Cross was absolutely necessary because man’s condition was so absolutely bad. As stated, it was terminal, meaning there was no way he could save himself.
The Reader must never forget that sin is more than a mere abstraction. It is more than a slight maladjustment. It is rather a total pollution. Isaiah described it when he said:
“The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment” (Isa. 1:5-6).
As is obvious, the Prophet was using physical descriptions to describe spiritual conditions.
This is what makes the drivel of humanistic psychology so absolutely preposterous. And even more than that, that Preachers could hold up this facade as an answer to the ills of man, is beyond belief. And then to go even farther, for Preachers who claim to be Spirit-filled, to tout this nonsense, is as stated, outright blasphemy! In fact, I think I can say without fear of scriptural exaggeration, that the acceptance by the modern Church of humanistic psychology, is the greatest sign of all of departure from Truth. To accept that drivel, is to reject the Cross, and to reject the Cross, is to reject Salvation.
The phrase, “And is set down at the right hand of the Throne of God,” refers to the fact, that His work of providing Salvation is finished. He is sat down, and remains seated. He need never arise and repeat His work on the Cross for sinners. It is a Finished Work. He is not only seated, but He occupies the position of preeminence, at the Right Hand of God.
How so much I sense His Presence! How so much this great Truth drives home to my heart! How so much is this a Finished Work! How so much is this the Grace of God! How so much did Jesus open up the way, and as the song says, “The way to Heaven’s Gate.” If the Cross was awful, and it definitely was, then the Victory is wonderful. So, we can say, that the victory is just as wonderful as the Cross was awful.
The idea of all of this is, that His Victory is ours as we recognize our union with Him. He did it all for us, which means He did none of this for Himself. He then is to be the Object before the souls of His people.
Because of Him, I am free! Because of Him and more particularly, and more specifically, what He did at the Cross, I am forever free. And as well, my freedom is complete. It’s not a partial freedom, but a total freedom.
This means that I’m free from the guilt and the power of sin. Because of what Jesus did at the Cross and my Faith in that Finished Work, the God of all the ages, has declared me as “not guilty.” And due to my continued Faith in that eternal Sacrifice, the power of sin is broken within my life. No wonder Peter said:
“Whom having not seen, we love; in Whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory” (I Pet. 1:8).
In all of this, when we are commanded to “look unto Jesus,” it refers to looking at Him in two capacities — that of the Cross, concerning the great price He paid for us, and as well, looking at Him now “at the right hand of the Throne of God.” The idea is, that our attention is to be directed unto the Prince and Perfecter of Faith — not of “our faith” — that would be a poor thing — but of Faith itself.
The Elders witnessed to Faith in one or other of its activities, but Jesus ran the entire course of Faith from the beginning to the end and furnished a perfect testimony. The Elders, as exampled in Chapter 11, had traveled a part of the path and triumphed over some difficulties, but He had been subjected to every trial. He was sheltered from none.
The Elders trusted in God and were delivered; He was a worm and no man, and was forsaken. But as Prince and Perfecter of Faith, He won the victory by submission, and we speak of submission to the Cross, and is now sat down in a glory magnified in proportion to the depth of His abasement and obedience. Reward is never the motive of faith, but ever its encouragement (Williams).
When looking at Him, nothing is easier than to lay aside a weight; when not looking at Him, nothing is harder.
He has Himself reached the goal, and His Presence marks the point at which the race will close.
It is Jesus Who begins and brings to perfection our faith, and this means, that we must run the race with our eye ever fixed upon Him; in Him is the beginning, in Him the completion of the Promises (II Cor. 1:20); and in the steady and trustful dependence upon Him, and what He did at the Cross, consists our faith.
1. Christ is ever the example, and in fact, the only example. 2. Christ suffered terrible opposition from the human race, and especially the religious leaders of Israel, and so will we, that is if we properly follow Him. 3. We must not faint and collapse on this journey, and will not do so, if we ever “consider Him.” CONSIDER HIM
The phrase, “For consider Him,” means to consider by way of comparison. Jesus had to endure far more than we will ever be called upon to endure; consequently, our difficulties and even sufferings, whatever they might be, are but insignificant by comparison to His.
All that He endured, was that the way might be opened to God for all men, at least those who will believe. That which we endure, is that we might arrive at this place He has opened for us, and at great price we might add, which is the very throne of God. That is the ultimate goal!
We are to “look to Him” in order to run the race and finish the race. We are to “consider Him,” as it regards the difficulties along the way. Whatever the difficulties were, they didn’t stop Him, and if we always “look to Him,” and “consider Him,” they will not stop us as well.
The things which hinder us are “weights” and “besetting sins.” As one great Preacher said:
“If we think of besetting sin as a savage beast, and the man of faith running his
appointed race with this beast ever following hard after him, we can see at once the striking picture presented here. We who would out-run sin must not be loaded down with needless weights. It is when these things are cast aside that we are able to leave the fierce pursuer behind.
“But we must have an Object before us as well, in order to keep up our courage unto the end; and so we are bidden to look steadfastly upon Jesus, Who Himself is the Leader and Completer of faith. His was the life of faith in all its perfection. He then is to be the Object before the souls of His people.
“In the hour of discouragement when one feels inclined to cry with Jacob, ‘All these things are against me,’ lift up your eyes, tempted one, and look upon Him Who knew such grief as you shall never know, and yet Who sits as Victor now in highest glory. Let Him be your heart’s Object. Let Him be your soul’s delight and lifted above the cares and griefs of the present moment, you will be enabled to run unweariedly and without fainting, your appointed race” (Ironside).
The phrase, “That endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself,” refers to opposition. However, when the Holy Spirit through Paul uses the word “sinners,” He is of course speaking of all who do not know God, but more specifically, of the religious leaders of Israel. The way of these religious leaders was a contradiction against Himself. In other words, they contradicted His way of Faith, by proposing another way. As well, this “contradiction” did not stop with mere verbal opposition, but went to the extent of murder, even as the next Verse proclaims.
John said of Him, “He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not.”
He then said, and which was the most stinging of all, “He came unto His Own, and His Own received Him not” (Jn. 1:10-11).
As should be obvious, by Paul here using the word “sinners,” any direction that is proposed as it regards Salvation, other than Christ and Him Crucified is a “sin!” Those who do such are lost and are thereby, labeled as “sinners!”
The sin here referred to is not so much acts of sin, but rather the sin of “unbelief,” as it regards Christ and His Sacrifice.
He said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me” (Jn. 14:6).
The Jews disavowed His claims, rather proposing another way, a way of their own devising.
Presently, many in the modern Church mouth these same words that Jesus uttered, but then subtly, and sometimes not so subtly, propose another way. They cry “Savior” and at the same time point to “self.” They talk about “Faith” but then propose “fables.” They talk about “Christ” but recommend “psychological counseling.” Need I say more!
Anything that proposes any other way except Christ and Him Crucified, is “against Christ!” One cannot have it two ways: it is either one or the other.
Even though the following is said with sadness, still it must be said.
Most of the Churches are against Christ! Of course, they do not claim to be and would strongly disavow that they are; however, if the Message is other than the Cross, then pure and simple, it is “against Christ.”
I realize that the Reader may think that I press the point too much. But when we consider that we’re speaking here of the issues of life and death, in fact, the very weight of one’s Salvation, then all of this takes on a significance of outsized proportions. In other words, there is absolutely nothing more important than this of which I speak.
As someone has well said, “There is nothing worse than a false way of Salvation.” How true that is.
So, if I err, I would rather err on the side of preaching “Christ and Him Crucified,” in other words, preaching it too much, than not enough. The truth is, it’s impossible to err in proclaiming this truth too much, this veritable way of Salvation, this only way of Salvation. Our problem is, we don’t preach it enough.
The phrase, “Lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds,” present the fact that there
definitely is opposition to the Child of God in his efforts to live for God, and to carry out the work that the Lord has called one to do.
In the last several decades, the Church has been greatly influenced by that which I refer to as the “faith message.” Actually, despite all the talk about faith, there is really no faith at all, and because this particular type of faith has as its object other than the Finished Work of Christ. At any rate, in this teaching, which as stated has greatly influenced the Church, and to its detriment I might quickly add, the Church has been taught that if one has the right confession, that one will never have difficulties and problems, etc. Consequently, these particular false teachers, would conclude Paul’s statement about being “wearied” and “fainting in one’s mind,” as to be a “bad confession”; however, if whatever is being taught doesn’t match up perfectly with the Word of God, then something is wrong with what is being taught.
While every Christian should always have a good confession, and while we always must dwell on the positive irrespective that the negative is present, a proper confession never denies reality and neither does it lie. Confessing that you don’t have a headache, when obviously you do, is not faith but rather fabrication.
If one is to notice, Paul spoke here of the attack by Satan being in the “minds” of Christians. What did he mean by that?
In fact, it is always the mind which constitutes the thought processes of the Believer, which Satan attacks first. He attempts to place doubts in our minds, causing us to go into unbelief, which first of all robs us of our peace. He mostly does this by directing our attention to circumstances. He wants to get our thinking out of the region of “faith” into the region of “sight.” If he can do this, get you to looking at circumstances and situations, instead of looking to the Lord, he will drive you into a “laboring and heavy laden” posture (Mat. 11:28-30). In this posture, we become “weary” with the struggle, and we “faint in our minds,” which means that we “give up.”
In such a scenario, which incidentally affects all Believers, the following should be noted:
1. As stated, no Believer is immune from these attacks. The Evil One strikes the strongest Christians as well as he does the weakest, all in this fashion (I Pet. 4:12). 2. There is nothing we can do to stop the attacks; however, there is definitely something we can do that will lessen their frequency. The more that we give in to such a situation, the more that Satan pushes in this direction. This should be obvious! (I Pet. 5:7). 3. In such a scenario, it is not the quantity of faith that is deficient, but rather the quality. Unfortunately, in the past several decades, most all the teaching has centered up on increasing one’s faith. That is not your need. Your need and my need, is the correct Object of Faith which must always be the Cross of Christ (Gal. 6:14). 4. When our Faith is properly placed in the Finished Work of Christ, and it remains in that Finished Work, the Holy Spirit can then help us. And to be sure, the help of the Spirit, is what we must have. Satan holds no fear of us, at least fear of our own immediate strength; however, he wants no part of the Holy Spirit! (Rom. 8:11). 5. When the Holy Spirit begins to work, the first thing He will do, is to redirect your faith toward the Cross. The idea is this: If Jesus paid such a price for you at the Cross, which He definitely did, then to be sure, He is definitely going to protect His investment, so to speak. In other words, He’s not going to let you go down (Heb. 13:5).
6. We must always remember, that every attack leveled at us by Satan, while it definitely is of Satan, is allowed by the Lord. And we must always remember, that Satan can only press so hard as the Lord allows. In other words, it’s the Lord who sets the parameters and not Satan (Job, Chpts. 1-2). 7. The Lord allows Satan certain latitude, in order to strengthen our Faith. It is all a “test.” Of course, with Satan it is temptation, but with the Lord it is a test. Satan means to steal, kill, and destroy, while the Lord allows this in order for us to be strengthened. To be sure, the Lord doesn’t allow the “test” in order that He might know our situation. He already knows that. He allows it, that we might know and see. And the idea is, our Faith is never quite as strong as we think 749
it is, in which the test always brings out (Heb. 11:17).
8. If the Believer will look at these situations as the Believer should, which means that we understand that it is a test, and which is allowed by the Lord in order to strengthen our Faith, and that if we will believe Him, He definitely is going to see us through, the situation will then take on a positive aspect. Our problem is, in the middle of all of these situations, the oppression at times tendered by the Evil One becomes so severe, that it’s hard for us to see the true picture (II Cor. 12:7).
9. As a Believer, you must always remember, that always and without exception, you can steer your thought processes (our minds) toward Christ and what He has done for us at the Cross. When we dwell on that, understanding that He there defeated every power of darkness, then Faith will begin to build within our hearts, and the Evil One will be dispelled. The entire effort by Satan is to try to get us to become so discouraged that we will simply quit. Unfortunately, he has succeeded with some (Rom. 12:1-2). WHAT JESUS DID AT THE CROSS
As I’ve stated in previous Commentary, the Christian must understand that the way of the Cross is a way of life. In other words, this is not just a particular doctrine, but actually the foundation of all Doctrine.
The Believer must ever understand, that what Jesus did at the Cross, while definitely making a way for us to be saved, also addressed every other single problem that besets the human race. Now please read those words carefully. In other words, His Work being a Finished Work, left out nothing. Whatever we can think of, and whatever it is we cannot think of, all and without exception were included in the Atonement. But most Christians don’t realize this. They’ve never gone that far in their thinking. Regarding the Cross, if they think of it much at all, they think of it only in the sense of the initial Salvation experience (Rom. 6:3-5, 11, 14).
We must come away from such thinking, understanding that the Cross was far more than that. In fact, the Cross and the Cross alone, made it possible for the Holy Spirit to
come into the hearts and lives of Believers and to abide permanently (Jn. 14:16-17). That within itself opens up possibilities beyond comprehension.
However, before I address that, please allow me to state the following:
Most Christians never think of the Cross as the answer to our dilemma, as it regards discouragement, confusion, disillusionment, stress, oppression, or disturbances of any kind. But to be sure, and as stated, what Jesus there did, addresses everything, which means that He left nothing unaddressed. The idea is this:
Everything that man lost in the Fall, Jesus addressed in the Atonement. While it is true that we do not yet have all of these things for which He paid such a price, and in fact will not have all of them until the coming Resurrection; still, what we do have, is enough to walk in victory, and I mean total victory, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. No, I’m not teaching that if we have our Faith properly placed, that Satan will stop all attacks. As I’ve already stated, Satan is going to continue to try to hinder us in every possible way that he can, until the day we die, or else the Trump sounds. That’s a foregone conclusion; however, and as well which we’ve already stated, the Lord is the One Who actually allows all of this, but always for our good.
Our thinking should not be, “This is going to destroy me,” but rather, “This is going to make me stronger!” Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
This great Work of Christ is not compartmentalized. In other words, He doesn’t have one type of faith for one type of problem, and another type of faith for another type of problem. The Cross answers it all, and our Faith in the Cross guarantees all that the Cross affords.
I suppose that most Christian Bookstores are filled with books on how to overcome certain weaknesses within our hearts and lives. “How to Have a Better Marriage!” “How to Better Oneself!” “How to Overcome Your Fears!” In fact, the list is endless.
For the most part, and I think I can say without fear of contradiction, virtually all the time, these books are worthless. In fact, they are worse than worthless, because they not only do not help, they lead one away from the true help afforded by Christ.
The Cross answers it all! If you as a Believer will understand that every single need that you have, every single question that you have, every single weakness that you have, were all answered at the Cross, you will be well on your way to total victory.
Understanding that, you must put your Faith exclusively in this which Jesus did, understanding, that He did it all on your behalf. He didn’t do it for Himself, but rather for us. And to be sure, He paid a terrible price; consequently, it stands to reason, if someone has paid a staggering price for something, and did it all for us, it stands to reason that He definitely wants us to take advantage of that which He has done. It must grieve greatly the Heart of God to see Christians staggering and stumbling, trying to find solutions in a thousand different ways, and all those ways wrong, while the Cross is available to each and all!
Ever since I’ve been a child, I have realized the value of the Holy Spirit. Actually, I was baptized with the Spirit when I was 8 years old. Consequently, I have made every effort to be led by the Spirit, to be guided by the Spirit, and to be empowered by the Spirit. However, when the Lord began to give me the Revelation of the Cross, at the same time, He began to show me the manner and way in which the Spirit works within our hearts and lives.
To be sure, the Holy Spirit, Who resides in the heart and life of every Believer, will always do all that He can on our behalf. That’s why He’s there. But our problem is, we do not know, or one might say, “properly know,” the manner and way in which He works. When the Lord showed me this, it completely revolutionized my life, my thinking, my Ministry, and in fact, everything.
He took me to Romans 8:2, “For the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.”
Once I understood this particular Passage of Scripture, then everything else about the Holy Spirit began to fall into place. I began to see how that He works, when He works, and the method by which He works.
By the use of the word “Law,” which we’ve already addressed in previous Commentary
in this Volume, the Lord let me know that this was more than just a supposition. In other words, the way and manner in which the Spirit works, is according to a Law, which has been devised by the Godhead; consequently, the Holy Spirit most definitely will not break this Law.
He then showed me that it’s all “in Christ Jesus,” which refers to what Christ did at the Cross. In other words, this “Law” states, that the Holy Spirit works entirely within the parameters of the Finished Work of Christ. Now do you the Reader understand what that means?
It means that every single thing that the Spirit does for us and with us, that He does according to the legal work carried out by Christ at Calvary. And yes, what Jesus did at the Cross is definitely a legal work, even as Romans 8:2 proclaims.
As I’ve already said, probably some 50 times in this Volume, with the Believer understanding that everything he has from the Lord comes exclusively through the Cross of Christ, and by no other means or ways, then he must place his Faith in that which Christ has done. This is the “Law!” And of course, I would certainly hope that the Believer would understand, that we are not speaking here of the Law of the Moses, but rather the “Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus.”
Once you learn this Law, and to be sure, it’s not hard at all to understand and to learn, then you have learned the secret to all victory in Christ. And as stated, that refers to victory in any and every capacity.
Please notice the following:
1. Proper Faith in the Cross of Christ, means that sin will not have dominion over me (Rom. 6:14). 2. Proper Faith in the Cross of Christ, which means I am “walking after the Spirit,” will stop all condemnation in my life (Rom. 8:1). 3. Proper Faith in the Cross of Christ, guarantees me victory over every demon power of darkness (Col. 2:14-15). 4. Proper Faith in the Cross of Christ, gives me “rest” from all self effort in trying to attain victory by my own machinations. Jesus has already done it all for me (Mat. 11:28-30). 751
5. Proper Faith in the Cross of Christ, guarantees me “more abundant life” (Jn. 10:10). 6. Proper Faith in the Cross of Christ, assures healing for me in every capacity (I Pet. 2:24). 7. Proper Faith in the Cross of Christ, guarantees my financial prosperity (Phil. 4:18-19). 8. Proper Faith in the Cross of Christ, guarantees that I am complete in Him (Col. 2:10). 9. Proper Faith in the Cross of Christ, takes away all fear (II Tim. 1:7). 10. Proper Faith in the Cross of Christ, guarantees me victory in all things (I Jn. 5:4). 11. Proper Faith in the Cross of Christ, guarantees me the help of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:11). (4) “YE HAVE NOT YET RESISTED UNTO BLOOD, STRIVING AGAINST SIN.” The diagram is:
1. Paul is here pointing to the fact that Jesus resisted to the extent, that He shed His Blood on the Cross, all on our behalf. 2. As should be obvious, the Lord doesn’t require us to do that, especially considering that it’s already been done, and will never need to be repeated. 3. “Striving against sin” and thereby, bringing about the victory, is never brought about by physical means, but always through our Faith in what Jesus did for us at the Cross. RESISTING
The phrase, “Ye have not yet resisted unto blood,” contains a twofold meaning:
1. Paul was addressing himself to Christian Jews, instructing them to resist the sin of unbelief. They were being tempted to go back into Judaism, which would have spelled their spiritual ruin. He reminds them, that whatever temptations they are facing pushing toward that erroneous course, had not yet required the “shedding of blood,” i.e., “the giving up of their lives”; however, by the use of the word “yet” he is telling them that it might actually come to that. In fact, in a very short period of time, it definitely did. Untold thousands had to give up their lives for the Cause of Christ. When Rome was gutted by fire, Nero attempted to place the blame on the Christians, simply because he was being accused of starting the inferno which took many lives. At
that time the persecutions began, quickly spreading across the Roman Empire, which saw many Christians killed and slaughtered in every conceivable way possible.
2. True victory over sin can never be achieved by any efforts of the flesh, which refers to any and all things we might do outside of the help of the Holy Spirit. Victory over sin can only be attained, by the Believer understanding that he is “dead indeed unto sin,” which means that he actually died with Christ in His Crucifixion, which is all done by faith on our part, “but at the same time, alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 6:11). In other words, Christ dealt with sin and all its ramifications at the Cross; consequently, it’s our Faith in that Finished Work, which guarantees us victory. Understanding that, the Holy Spirit through Paul then said, “For sin shall not have dominion over you” (Rom. 6:14).
If we attempt to address sin in any other way than through Faith in the Cross of Christ, which guarantees the help of the Holy Spirit, we are doomed to failure. Regrettably, most Christians not knowing or understanding the Truth of the Cross, are dominated by sin, i.e., “works of the flesh,” and which will not improve, no matter how hard they try otherwise. Until they understand the Cross, and what Jesus there did for them, there will be no victory over sin, as there can be no victory over sin. The Cross is not one of several ways, but in fact, the only way. Now we should begin to understand the tragic state of the modern Church, and because it has almost no knowledge of the Cross as it regards these things of which I speak.
The truth is, millions of Christians are striving against sin, but in the wrong way, which guarantees their defeat, and not only guarantees defeat, but also guarantees that the situation will steadily get worse.
The phrase, “Striving against sin,” presents that which we should carefully note.
First of all, was Paul speaking about a particular sin as it regards these Christian Jews? Yes, he was!
It was the sin of unbelief, which in fact, is the foundation sin of all sin. In other words,
in some way, all sin springs from unbelief. And what do we mean by unbelief?
Some of these Christian Jews, which necessitated the writing of this Epistle to the Hebrews, were registering unbelief in Christ and the Cross, thereby tempted to go back into Judaism, which in fact, it seems that some of them had already done.
Now the modern Christian may look at that statement and automatically come to the conclusion that it has no effect on him personally. But yet it does!
While the modern Christian is certainly not tempted to go into Judaism, that was not the real problem anyway, only the result of the problem. The real problem was a lack of Faith in Christ and His vicarious Offering of Himself on the Cross. And that problem is the problem, and in fact, has always been the problem.
Do you as a Believer look to the Cross exclusively, or do you look to other things? (Gal. 6:14).
The problem with some Christians is an outright denial of the Cross. I speak of many in the Charismatic community, and more specifically, of those who consider themselves to be “faith people,” etc. They are outright denying the Cross, claiming that it was the greatest defeat in human history, etc.
At least, this shows a total lack of knowledge of the Word of God, and at worst, it is rank blasphemy.
But most Christians don’t fall into that category. It is not so much that they reject the Cross, as it is that they simply do not know and understand anything about the Cross. But there’s another problem with that:
Most Christians think they do understand everything about the Cross. As a typical illustration, we received an e-mail (or maybe it was a letter) a short time ago, with the individual exclaiming, “Why are you talking so much about the Cross? I’m a Christian, so I understand everything about the Cross,” or words to that effect.
The truth is, that particular individual, whomever he may have been, didn’t understand anything about the Cross. And how do I know that?
I know that simply because had he truly known about the Cross, he would not have made such a ridiculous statement. Notice the following:
Paul said, “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him”
(Col. 2:6). The Apostle is here saying two things:
1. We received Christ (were saved) by trusting in Him and what He did at the Cross on our behalf. 2. The words “so walk ye in Him,” refer to the fact, that we are to “live” for the Lord, in the same manner in which we were saved by the Lord, which refers to Faith in the Cross of Christ. In other words, the same faith we exhibited for Salvation is to continue to be exhibited for our ongoing “walk.” Most Christians don’t know that. Most Believers part with the Cross at their initial Salvation experience. They come into the Church, and hearing almost nothing about the Cross from behind most pulpits, they set out to live this Christian life, by various different ways and means — all of them wrong!
This confuses them, and if they go to their Pastor, more than likely, he will tell them that they need to “try harder,” or “be more faithful,” or “be sure that they get all sin out of their lives,” etc.
If it is to be noticed, all of this advice, plus much we haven’t named, centers up on “self” instead of Christ. In other words, the Believer is told that he must “do something.” In fact, such sounds good to most ears, simply because there is something in us which tends to think that we can get this job done ourselves. To be sure, the problem doesn’t leave just because we become a Christian. Christian pride is just as devilish as sinner pride; however, it’s very difficult for us to think of it in those terms. Let’s say it in another way:
God had given the covenant of circumcision to Abraham (Gen. 17:10-14). All who followed Abraham were to keep this Covenant. But the Scripture says that Moses had failed to circumcise his little boy. The Scripture further says, “that the Lord met him, and sought to kill him” (Ex. 4:24-26).
Why Moses did this, we aren’t told; however, the situation was serious enough, that
Moses found himself in deep trouble with the Lord, even at the beginning of the carrying out of the great Call upon his life.
In a short time, Moses would be commanded to announce to Pharaoh that Jehovah, the God of Israel, was about to slay his (Pharaoh’s) son. But Moses had to learn that disobedience regarding rebellion in him was just as hateful as in Pharaoh; and that God, because of His nature, must judge with death a sin wherever found.
Therefore, on approaching Egypt this Holy God sought to judge this little boy, Eliezer, because of Moses’ disobedience in not having had him circumcised, as God had commanded. The Passage throws a great light upon the inner life of Moses.
It may be assumed, from what is related, that he yielded to the wishes of his wife in this matter, meaning that she did not want to circumcise the child, though he knew he was disobeying God. The particulars are not fully given because the Holy Spirit did not think this necessary, but evidently, in order to save the child’s life, and urged to it by Moses, she circumcised him herself, and then with anger and passion declared that her husband’s religion was a religion of blood, i.e., of bloodstained rites.
Thus, Moses had to learn that God would judge him before He judged Pharaoh, and that rebellion in the one was the same as rebellion in the other; and this lesson must have enabled Moses to proclaim this dreadful truth with the force of a personal experience.
This is a moral principle which Romans Chapter 6 and Colossians Chapter 2, and many other Passages, teach. Christians, under the New Covenant, are circumcised, spiritually speaking, in the Death of Jesus Christ; that is, we “die” as to our old nature. We then go forth with a message of death and of life; but we must have a personal experience of the bitterness, to the natural will, of that spiritual circumcision. We must consent to “die,” if we would be effective messengers of the Cross. And how do we do that?
Death to sin can only come about by complete trust in what Christ did at the Cross. At Salvation we died with Him, and as well,
we were raised with Him in “newness of life” (Rom. 6:3-5).
Now the Reader may wonder as to what all of this has to do with one living a victorious, Christian life? The answer is simple:
God hated disobedience in Moses, just as much as He hated it in Pharaoh. Circumcision, and I continue to speak of that ancient rite given by God to Abraham, was a symbol of the Cross of Christ, and our involvement in that great Work. The cutting of the skin on the male member, was a sign of separation from the world unto God, and that separation brought about by what Christ did at the Cross, which symbol was the shedding of blood. Of course, and as would be obvious, blood was shed whenever the circumcision process was engaged.
The whole point of this is, that God would not tolerate Moses ignoring the Cross, of which Circumcision was a symbol, any more than He will tolerate modern Christians ignoring the Cross. If after we come to Christ, we attempt to live this life by means other than total trust in what Christ did on our behalf, such a direction angers God, to say the least. In fact, as Moses was about to suffer a physical death, the Believer will suffer a spiritual death. The analogy is the same!
Perhaps I have used a rather laborious illustration to explain my point, but I did so, because I want the Believer to understand how serious all of this is. “Striving against sin,” can only come out to a successful conclusion, if it is done God’s Way, which is the Way of the Cross. Nothing else will work.
“Striving” in the Greek is “antagonizomia,” which means “to fight agonizingly against.” It speaks of a terrific fight. And as repeatedly stated, it’s a fight we cannot win unless we “fight the good fight of faith,” which means to constantly place our Faith in what Christ has already done for us, i.e., “the Cross.”
1. The exhortation here is derived from Proverbs 3:11. 754
2. As we are supposed to correct our children, the Lord also corrects us, and because we are His children. It is called “chastening.” 3. “Chastening” does not have in it the idea of punishment, but of corrective measures that will eliminate evil in the life and encourage that which is Righteous. THE EXHORTATION
The phrase, “And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children,” refers, as stated, to Proverbs 3:11
12. The object of the Apostle in introducing this here, is to show that afflictions are designed, on the part of God, to produce positive effects in the lives of His people, and that we ought, therefore, to bear them patiently. In the previous Verses, he directs us to the example of the Savior. In this Verse and the following, for the same object, he directs our attention to the design of trials, showing that they are necessary to our welfare, and that they are in fact, proof of the paternal care of God. In fact, this Verse might be rendered as a question, “And have you forgotten?” etc.
When he used the term, “which speaketh unto you,” he is meaning, that this applies to all, with no exceptions.
By the phrase, “As unto children,” he is using language such as a father uses.
As well, we should understand from this as used by Paul, that every single Passage in the Word of God, no matter how obscure they may seem to be, is in fact, valid and applicable. Everything in the Bible from Genesis 1:1 through Revelation 22:21 is the Word of God. If it is general instruction, it applies to all, and for all time, unless it is dispensational. In other words, there were many instructions given concerning the Law of Moses and such like, which are no longer applicable, and because Jesus has fulfilled all of those particular Statutes and Commandments, etc. But otherwise, and as here given from Proverbs, let not the Reader think that it doesn’t apply. It does!
That’s why Jesus said to Satan, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the Mouth of God” (Mat. 4:4).
The phrase, “My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord,” speaks of correcting mistakes and curbing the passions. It speaks also of instruction which aims at the increase of virtue. However, and as stated, the word “chastening” does not have in it the idea of punishment, but of corrective measures which will eliminate evil in the life and encourage that which is good.
Some may argue that “punishment” and “correction” are the same, and if we say otherwise, it is merely a play on words; however, that is not correct.
If an individual breaks the laws of the land and is confined to prison, that is punishment. The State means to punish the individual, and this is the method by which it is done. No correction is involved, only punishment.
With the Lord, and as it concerns His children, He does not punish, but rather corrects. In other words, by whatever it is that He allows to happen, it is meant for our instruction, our reproof, and as stated, our correction. He designs the entire situation, whatever the situation might be, and we are meant to learn from the experience. If we think of it as punishment, then we’re judging God wrongly, and will fail to learn what He is attempting to teach us. That’s why the Holy Spirit through Paul told us to not “despise the chastening of the Lord.” We are to understand that it is for a reason, and is meant for our good. In fact, God never does anything with us or for us, but that it is meant for our good.
Every sorrow the child of God is permitted to endure is designed by God for blessing. It is instruction by discipline. It is the Divine method used for our education.
As well, we should remember, when God speaks of discipline and rebuke, it is “sons” whom He addresses. It s interesting that this warning is called “that word of encouragement,” because that’s what the word “exhortation” means. The certainty of the situation encourages the Believer rather than dismays him because he knows that it is God’s discipline for him.
The phrase, “Nor faint when thou art rebuked of Him,” proclaims the second of two
negative responses the Believer can have toward this. They are:
1. First of all, as the previous phrase says, we can despise the chastening of the Lord. He who does so but hardens himself against God and thereby, refuses to learn the lessons which the chastening is designed to teach him. Who has hardened himself against God and prospered? Unfortunately, many Christians have grown perturbed or even angry with God as it regards their particular situation. They feel they don’t deserve what is happening, or else the Lord is not moving fast enough they think, to alleviate the situation.
Such an attitude only tends to question God, which is the road to disaster. As a Believer, we must understand that God knows best about all things. Consequently, we should seek to learn what He is attempting to teach us. And we must never forget, that if we do harden ourselves against God, we only lengthen the process longer than God originally intended; therefore, we have only ourselves to blame. There is no profit in that course.
2. On the other hand, one may faint under the chastening. There are some souls who lose all courage when trouble comes. Like “Little-Faith” in “Pilgrim’s Progress,” they are constantly cast down by the trials of the way. This too is to miss the Blessing. Such individuals succumb to a position of “whining,” which God must deplore!
For instance, how many of you like to be around a whining kid? But that’s what the fainting soul actually does! So what am I saying?
I’m saying that we should hold our head high, square our shoulders, put a smile on our face, and believe God for two things:
First of all, that we may quickly learn the lesson which He is teaching us; and second, that we may allow this thing, whatever it might be, to draw us ever closer to the Lord. That is the intention of the Divine Spirit, and it should be our intention as well.
1. Chastening from the Lord is one of the greatest signs that He loves us, and loves us dearly. HEBREWS 12:7 756 JIMMY SWAGGART BIBLE COMMENTARY
2. Every Christian needs chastening. None are excluded! 3. If one claims to be a Christian, and there is never any chastening, the Truth is, they actually aren’t a Christian. THE LOVE OF GOD
The phrase, “For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth,” proclaims, as should be obvious, a tremendous truth.
“Those He loves” comes first in the Greek, which gives it a certain emphasis. God disciplines people He loves, not those to whom He is indifferent. It is the “son” who is corrected and “every son” at that. It does not, of course, mean that He sends chastisement which is not deserved; or that He sends it for the mere purpose of inflicting pain, etc. That cannot be. But it means that, by His chastisements, He shows that He has a paternal care for us. He does not treat us with neglect and unconcern. The very fact that He corrects us shows that He has towards us a father’s feelings, and exercises toward us a paternal care. If He did not, He would let us go on without any attention, in which we would pursue a course of sin that would involve us in ruin. To restrain and govern a child, to correct him when he errs, shows that there is a paternal solicitude for him, and that he is not an outcast. And to be sure, one must ever understand, that there is in the life of every Child of God “something” that deserves correction, and because the Lord loves us, He will definitely correct us.
The phrase, “And scourgeth every son whom He receiveth,” refers to all who truly belong to Him.
In the ancient world it was universally accepted that the bringing up of sons involved disciplining them. Therefore, we should not read back modern permissive attitudes into our understanding of this Passage.
“Scourgeth” in the Greek is “mastigoo,” and means “to whip, flog, beat.” As should be obvious, some of the training can be described as none other than strong. And as we’ve already stated, irrespective as to whom the Christian might be, and irrespective as to how holy he might think he is, there is
always something in us, which needs correcting, and sometimes severely so!
The idea of all of this is, that many of these Christian Jews, if not all of them, were undergoing persecution from fellow Jews who did not believe in Christ. At times the persecution was very severe. The Apostle is here telling them that in effect, God was allowing the persecution, and doing it for their good. Consequently, instead of chaffing under the rod of correction, they were to accept it as from the Lord, understanding that He was doing or allowing such, because of His great love for them.
Evidently, they were voicing objections to their treatment, claiming that if Christianity was what it ought to be, why were they undergoing such opposition and persecution? The Apostle tells them that all of this is a part of the training process.
All of us would like to think, that we have it all together. In other words, we are so mature in the Word, so advanced in the Lord, in fact so close to God, that while others may need correction, such wouldn’t apply to us.
The truth is, there is a good chance that those who think such thoughts, are actually in need of correction more than anyone else. The first step toward learning the lesson, is to realize our need for the lesson, whatever it might be.
And once again we emphasize, the Holy Spirit through Paul said, “Every son,” which means that none are excluded.
1. We are to endure the chastening with aplomb and dignity, seeking to learn the lesson which desires to be taught. 2. The reason that God deals with us in this fashion, is because we definitely are Believers, i.e., “His Children.” 3. If we are truly Believers, which means we are a “son,” without question, we will experience chastisement. THE ENDURING OF CHASTENING
The phrase, “If ye endure chastening,” refers to three things:
1. The word “endure” means that the chastening will not go on forever. JIMMY SWAGGART BIBLE COMMENTARY
2. During the chastening, we are to learn the lesson which the Holy Spirit desires that we learn. 3. The implication is, that if we properly endure the chastening, which means to do so without complaint or fault finding, even as the Tenth Verse says, it will turn out to our “profit.” GOD DEALS WITH US
The phrase, “God dealeth with you as with sons,” refers as well, to several things:
1. God deals only with those who belong to Him, at least in this fashion. 2. Due to the fact that He has paid such a price for us, He has the right to correct us. 3. Whatever part that Satan plays in all of this, we are to understand, that it is God Who is dealing with us. While He may use Satan, and many other things or people for that matter, He is the One Who draws the parameters. ALL TRUE CHILDREN OF GOD SUFFER CHASTISEMENT
The conclusion of the question, “For what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?”, has reference here to an earthly father. The idea is, if a father truly cares for his son, he will use whatever measures necessary, to whip the boy into shape. If an earthly father will do this, how much more will our Heavenly Father do the same?
We were not saved merely in order to miss Hell. The Lord has much more in store for us, than merely a different location in eternity, as important as that might be.
The moment we come to Christ, the Holy Spirit Who has superintended everything as it regards our conversion, now comes into the heart and life of the Believer to abide, and to abide permanently. To be sure, He is there for a particular purpose, and that is to carry out the Will of God in our hearts and lives (Rom. 8:27).
That means that He isn’t there to do our will, but rather God’s Will. And to be sure, this is where the rub comes in. The biggest problem the Holy Spirit has with us, is the problem of “self-will.” That’s the reason that Jesus said, “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself (deny his self-will), and take up his Cross daily, and follow Me.
“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it (insist upon self-will): but whosoever will
lose his life for My sake (turn one’s life totally over to Christ), the same shall save it” (Lk. 9:23-24).
The idea is, that our “wills” become the same as the “Will of God.” Regrettably, that’s easier said than done. The Holy Spirit has to perform major surgery on some of us, spiritually speaking, in order for this to be brought about.
Unfortunately, most of the modern Church has no delight at all in these particular Passages. We want nothing but blessings; however, let us address that for just a moment:
First of all, God is definitely a Blesser. He blesses grandly and gloriously His Children, and does so continuously. However, we must understand this:
While we learn much about God from blessings, how good He is, how beneficent He is, the Truth is, however, we don’t learn anything about ourselves. We can only learn about ourselves through afflictions.
Anyone can rejoice in the midst of Blessings; however, it’s not so easy to rejoice in the midst of afflictions.
Afflictions tell us what we are, whether we like it or not. And that’s the reason they are so necessary. If we had our way, we would opt for nothing but Blessings; however, God is not Santa Claus. He is our Parent, and as such, He is going to conduct Himself toward us accordingly.
There have probably been 100,000 books printed in the last few decades on how to skip “boot camp.” But if we truly belong to the Lord, such to be sure, is not to be.
1. Every true Believer is a partaker of chastisement. 2. Freedom from discipline is not evidence of a privileged position. Rather the reverse is true. Such individuals are bastards — “not sons.”
3. Sadly, the far greater majority of professed Christendom falls into this latter category. HEBREWS 12:9 758 JIMMY SWAGGART BIBLE COMMENTARY
The phrase, “But if ye be without chastisement,” presents a fearsome prospect.
Some may ask the question as to how we are to recognize chastisement, which is always from the Lord, from normal negative consequences which sooner or later come to all unbelievers?
First of all, if the person is truly a Christian, to be sure, they will truly know. As a Believer, we have a relationship with our Heavenly Father. And to be sure, that relationship is strong. It is so strong in fact, that the Holy Spirit will constantly warn us as it regards wrong direction or improper conduct. And when the correction comes, as sooner or later it will with all, it will be very recognizable by the Saint of God. In fact, it will be just as recognizable as it was when we were children and were corrected by our earthly fathers, even as the next Verse proclaims.
The phrase, “Whereof all are partakers,” pertains to all who are Believers.
Some have asked the question if sickness is a part of chastisement?
Not necessarily so, but it definitely can be. The human body ages and ultimately wears out, that is if the Lord allows us to live that long. That’s not chastisement, as should be obvious. And as well, there are millions of Christians who suffer some type of physical disability, and it’s not chastisement, but then again, sickness can definitely fall into the category of chastisement. If such be the case, I definitely think that the Believer would understand the origin.
The Church has been so messed up in the last few decades from the “faith teaching,” which in reality is no faith at all, that any more, it hardly knows where it’s been, where it is, or where it’s going. And as with all false doctrine, the situation if not corrected, will only get worse (Gal. 5:9). And how can it be corrected?
The Church must come back to the Cross. This is its true foundation, and as such, if the foundation isn’t right, nothing else is right.
The phrase, “Then are ye bastards, and not sons,” proclaims a very strong statement, as should be obvious.
“Bastards” in the Greek are “nothos,” and refers to “one born of a slave or a concubine, or of the illegitimate in general.” The point is they are not heirs, not members of the family. For them the father feels no responsibility. As we’ve already stated, their freedom from discipline, and I speak of professing Christians, is not evidence of a privileged position, but rather the very opposite.
Some time back, particular individuals were mentioned to me who were living in obvious sin, but yet seemed to suffer no ill effect, despite the fact that such had been going for many years.
Of course, I’m not the judge; however, I answered the Brother in this vein: “Despite their profession of Christianity, quite possibly they’re not actually sons, but bastards!” The reason they suffer no chastisement despite their lifestyles, is simply because they don’t belong to the Lord. To be sure, if they belonged to Him, even as this Text plainly says, they would be partakers of chastisement in some form.
It is said that approximately 100 million people in the United States profess Christianity. The true number of those who are actually saved, is far, far less. While God Alone knows that number, the lack of fruit in most lives gives a pretty good indication of what they really are, despite their claims.
1. Earthly parents are used here as an example. 2. If we understood we were to be subject to our earthly parents, surely we understand that we should be subject to our Heavenly Father. 3. The implication is, if we aren’t subject to Him, we could lose our souls. EARTHLY PARENTS
The phrase, “Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence,” refers as stated, to earthly parents; however, there is something here which should be addressed:
Paul is only using this as an example. In no way does this give credence to the idea that it’s proper for one Christian to chastise another Christian. All chastisement is carried out by God. James addressed this by saying:
“There is one Lawgiver, Who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?” (James 4:12).
In essence, James is saying, “Who do you think you are, thinking you are qualified, to punish a fellow Christian?”
It is only self-righteousness which would think that it could do such a thing. Let me give you an example:
Frances was mentioning to me the other day about listening to a particular Christian singer over Television, and how beautiful and how well that he sang. She was commenting on his voice, and as well, the excellent spirit that he seemed to have.
She went on to say how that he made mention of the fact that he had a problem a short time back. In fact, even though I do not know the man personally, I am acquainted with the type of problem he had.
Now of course, the only answer for that particular problem, or any problem of sin for that matter, is to take it to the Lord, which I’m assuming that he did.
Now what good would it have done, for some foolish Preachers in some particular Denomination to have told him that because of his problem, he couldn’t sing any more for two years, or some such period of time? Thank the Lord that he wasn’t a member of such a Denomination.
God gave the man the talent to sing, and despite the problem he had, he was using it for God’s Glory. Who am I, or any other man for that matter, to tell him that he cannot use this talent that God has given him?
Individuals who do such, are attempting to play God, and I might quickly add, they’re doing it very poorly.
Chastisement must be left solely in the domain of the Lord, and must never be thought to be the prerogative of any human being. While it is certainly true that we are subject to our earthly parents when we are children, even as this Text brings out, and as Christians we are also subject to the laws of the land, however, that’s where the subjection
ends. The only thing that I owe any other Christian, and that goes for all Preachers as well, is “love” (Rom. 13:8). While as a Christian I owe obedience to civil authorities, that is if they do not require something that defiles my conscience, I do not owe such obedience to any other Christian, simply because they are a Christian, or even some type of supposed leader. That’s the case if we desire to be Biblical; however, if we desire to make up our own rules as we go along, which much of the Church regrettably does, then that’s another matter altogether.
The conclusion of the question, “Shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?”, refers to our Heavenly Father. The phrase, “Father of spirits” is contrasted to “fathers of the flesh,” which concern our earthly parents. Their relation to us is limited, His is universal. They are related to us on the fleshly side: He is the Creator of our essential life. Our relation to Him is on the side of our eternal being.
The words “and live” while including the future life, are not limited to that sphere, but also refer to this present existence. The idea is, “have true life” (Wuest). The idea is, when Believers subject themselves to God, accepting life’s sufferings as discipline from His Fatherly hand, we enter the life that is alone worthy of the name.
An earthly father chastens his son as seems fit to his imperfect judgment; but the Heavenly Father disciplines with infallible judgment and perfect love.
God chastens us because we are His children, and because He loves us supremely. The fruitful branch is purged that it may bring forth more fruit; the self-willed child is chastened in order to the production of the peaceable fruit of righteousness. Love chastens, but not without a motive; and so we must not be discouraged.
1. The chastening of our earthly parents may or may not have been for our good. 2. All chastening of the Lord, and because His knowledge is perfect, is “for our profit.” 3. The object of His chastening, is to rid us of anything and everything that would hinder our Christlikeness. THEIR OWN PLEASURE
The phrase, “For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure,” presents by the use of the word “pleasure,” that the chastening may or may not have been proper.
“Pleasure” in the Greek is “dokeo,” and means “to be of opinion, to think, suppose.” Thus, the word indicates that the judgment of the parents on matters of discipline is based on opinion at best, conjecture, and supposition. It is, therefore, not infallible as should be obvious, as is the case of the judgment of our Heavenly Father.
All of this points to the difference in the quality of the discipline which we receive from our earthly fathers and that which we receive from God. They disciplined us “for a little while,” which refers to the brief days of childhood, and they did it according to the best of their knowledge. They did their best, and of course, we’re speaking here of earthly parents trying to do the right thing, but the phrase seems to imply that earthly parents often make mistakes. God makes no mistakes!
The phrase, “But He for our profit,” presents the difference between human liability to mistake and the perfect knowledge of our Heavenly Father, Who seeks our profit, and cannot err in the means which He employs.
If we properly understand this, then whatever is happening to us at the moment, which we know has been designed by the Lord, and designed for our good, makes the situation more tolerable. The main thing that all Believers should understand is this:
1. We must understand that everything from the Lord comes to us through the Sacrifice of Christ; consequently, our Faith must ever be in that Finished Work. 2. We must be consecrated totally and completely to the end that the Holy Spirit NOTES
will work successfully within our lives, which He always will, if our Faith is properly placed in the Cross of Christ.
3. We must always realize that every single thing that happens to us as Believers, is allowed or designed by the Holy Spirit. He Who notes the sparrow’s fall, and numbers the very hairs of our heads, presents Himself as being totally occupied in every facet of our lives. We must understand this. While chastening is needed by every Believer, even if our Faith and Consecration are exactly as they ought to be, to be sure, chastening can be lessened by us conducting ourselves as we should. As would be obvious, some need more correction than others. HOLINESS
The phrase, “That we might be partakers of His Holiness,” proclaims a work of the Holy Spirit.
The only way that an individual can be Holy before God, and we speak of the Holiness alone which God will recognize, is for the Holy Spirit to carry out this work in one’s heart and life. It is impossible for any human being to make himself holy, irrespective as to what he might do.
Holiness is attained by the Believer evidencing Faith exclusively in Christ and the Cross, which then gives the Holy Spirit latitude to work in our lives.
“Holiness” in the Greek is “hagiotes,” and means “sacred, pure, blameless, sanctity.” It points to God’s holy character. The aim of God’s chastisement of His people is to produce in us a character like His Own.
However, let us emphasize again, that this is not a contrived holiness which is perpetrated by many Churches, but rather the Holiness of God. It refers to an absence of all sin, spiritual pollution, and spiritual failure of any nature. There is only one way this can be obtained in the Believer’s life, and that way comes in two parts:
1. The Believer must ever look to the Cross of Christ, understanding that it was there that Christ met every need. Our Faith in that Finished Work, brings about the help of the Holy Spirit, Who Alone can perfect holiness within our hearts and lives. 2. Even with us properly doing this of JIMMY SWAGGART BIBLE COMMENTARY
which I have spoken, chastening is still needed. In fact, this tells us how bad the problems of “self” and “sin” actually are.
Pride presents itself as a terrible factor in the life of all Christians. Only the “Cross” and “chastening” can eliminate this scourge. There must be total dependence on Christ, and chastening is needed in order to bring this about.
It is ironical, many in the modern Charismatic community, and I speak of Preachers, are attempting to make men rich, at least that’s what they claim, while the Holy Spirit is trying to make us holy. The terrible Truth is, that those who follow such teaching, will gain neither — earthly riches or Heavenly Holiness.
1. Even though chastening is “profitable,” it is not enjoyable, as should be obvious. 2. If it is properly entertained, it will without fail, yield the “peaceable Fruit of Righteousness,” which is the intention of the Spirit. 3. This is not a matter of accepting a minor chastisement or two with good grace; it is the habit of life that is meant. GRIEVOUS
The phrase, “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous,” presents the fact that the trials to which we are exposed at times, do not for the moment give joy, but are often hard indeed to bear. This tells us that some chastening can be very severe indeed!
I think the Holy Spirit is as well, speaking here of the degree of chastening. The degree that one has to undergo, not only pertains to the development of Holiness without our lives, but also I think, pertains to the work which God has for us to do. For instance, one might say, and I think be correct, that Moses endured chastening for some 40 years, as it regards his stay at the back side of the desert. God was preparing Moses for a formidable task, as would be obvious. This task required every vestige of Egypt to be erased from the heart and life of the great Lawgiver. It didn’t take
long to get Moses out of Egypt, but it took a long time to get Egypt out of Moses.
This tells us, that while chastening may definitely be employed by the Lord because of sin within our lives, it can also be employed as it regards preparation. And that preparation can be “grievous.”
As well, all of this tells us that chastening is not meant to impart pleasure, nor is this its design. All chastisement is intended to produce pain in some way, and the Christian is as sensitive to pain as others. In fact, our Faith in Christ does not blunt our sensibilities, or make us a stoic. If anything, it increases our susceptibility to suffering. In other words, we feel it even more keenly.
I think one can say, and without fear of contradiction, that our Lord Jesus probably felt pain, reproach, and contempt more keenly than any other human being ever did. While our experience with Christ does not render us insensible to suffering, etc., it does bring about two things within our hearts and lives:
1. It enables us to bear the difficulty without murmuring and complaining, or at least it should! 2. It turns the affliction into a blessing on the soul, which leads to Righteousness. To be Christlike no price is too high to pay! To be Christlike, no path should be avoided that will bring about this result.
While as Christians we certainly do not seek chastisement, and in fact, do not desire it at all. But at the same time, we do know that chastisement is unavoidable, and it always is for our good.
The phrase, “Nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of Righteousness,” proclaims what chastening is all about.
“Yieldeth” in the Greek is “apodidomi,” and means “to give back.” In other words, all of this is carried out by the Holy Spirit for a specific purpose. That purpose is to bring forth the “peaceable Fruit of Righteousness,” i.e., “Holiness.” We go back again to John Chapter 15:
Jesus said, “Every branch in Me that beareth not fruit He taketh away (that which chastisement does): and every branch that
beareth fruit, He purgeth it (the process of chastisement), that it may bring forth more fruit” (Jn. 15:2).
The “peaceable” fruit stands in contrast with the unrest and trouble which have preceded during the time of “chastening.” But there is more than rest after conflict, for the object of the conflict is attained; the Fruit consists in Righteousness (Prov. 11:30; Isa. 32:17; Phil. 1:11; James 3:17).
The phrase, “Unto them which are exercised thereby,” refers to those who have been trained by chastisement. As we have stated, it is not a matter of accepting a minor chastisement or two with good grace; it is the habit of life that is meant. When that is present, the “peaceable fruit” follows.
In all of this, Paul might be throwing out a hint to his readers, that suffering at times, was apt to render people irritable, even impatient with one another’s faults. The latter record even of the martyrs, for example, shows that the very prospect of death did not always prevent Christians from quarreling in prison. This all tells us, that chastisement must be accepted in the right spirit; otherwise it does not produce the right result.
Our earthly fathers chastened us as it seems fit to their imperfect judgment; but the Heavenly Father disciplines with infallible judgment and perfect love.
Most all of the chastisement, even as we’ve already stated, centers up on the “will,” i.e., “self-will.” Whatever direction it may take, this is generally where the Holy Spirit is working. And until the will is won, there is warfare, but when won there is peace; and the fruit of that peace is upright conduct. But this only results for them who are exercised by the chastisement.
1. In view of the fact that chastisement is from the Lord, and understanding this, we are to do certain things. 2. The “hands hanging down” stipulate discouragement and defeatism. The Holy Spirit through the Apostle is telling us that 762
during the times of chastisement, we should lift our hands and praise the Lord, and as well, go to work for Him.
3. “Feeble knees” speak of wrong direction, and the idea is, “get out of that slough of despondency, and get moving for the Lord.” HANDS WHICH HANG DOWN
The phrase, “Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down,” refers to discouragement that can come about, and in fact does come about in the hearts and lives of many Christians who are enduring chastisement. The Holy Spirit has given extremely valuable teaching here through Paul. He has told us that all of this is profitable for us, and is going to produce a Work of Righteousness within our lives; consequently, in view of that, and I speak of that which is coming, which refers to great blessings, we should not be discouraged.
Even though the metaphor of the hands hanging down covers a wide territory, for a moment I’ll just look at one of its many sides.
Knowing that this speaks of discouragement, and knowing how hard it is to praise the Lord during such times, the admonition is, “Praise the Lord anyhow!” Praising the Lord is some way generally includes the raising of the hands.
As well, it speaks of surrender to God, which in effect says, “I may not know exactly why You are doing this, but I know it is for my profit, and I’m going to praise the Lord in view of that.” In fact, surrendering to the Lord is a great part of the Christian experience. We may think it’s simple, and almost all Christians may claim they have surrendered to the Lord. But the truth is, despite what most think, most haven’t!
The phrase, “And the feeble knees,” refers to one who is totally discouraged, and in fact, has become immobile, or else going in the wrong direction.
More than likely, the entire Twelfth Verse is derived from Isaiah 35:3. It says: “Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees.”
However, even though the Holy Spirit through Paul didn’t bring it out here, except maybe in a very limited way in the next Verse,
I do not think it would be improper to include the balance of this which was given to Isaiah. The Prophet said:
“Say to them that are of a fearful heart, be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; He will come and save you.
“Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.
“Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert” (Isa. 35:4-6).
Of course this is speaking of the coming Millennium, when Christ will set up His eternal Kingdom; however, if the Holy Spirit saw fit through Paul to use a part of this statement, which He definitely did, then I do not think we do violence to Scripture to be able to tell anyone and everyone undergoing chastisement, that victory is on the way. Great and wonderful things are about to happen. So we can “lift up our hands which hang down,” and to be sure, our “feeble knees” will then be strengthened.
1. The chastisement is intended to make the paths straight, which refers to our daily walk before God. 2. Healing is intended, and healing will definitely come. 3. All of this has to do with the Cross, which we will address momentarily. STRAIGHT PATHS FOR YOUR FEET
The phrase, “And make straight paths for your feet,” concerns itself with out “walk” before the Lord. In fact, Paul uses the word “walk” quite a few times as it regards our Christian experience (Rom. 4:12; 6:4; 8:1, 4; 13:13; I Cor. 3:3; 7:17; II Cor. 5:7; 6:16; 10:3; Gal. 5:16, 25; 6:16; Eph. 2:10; 4:1, 17; 5:2, 8, 15; Phil. 3:16-18; Col. 1:10; 2:6; 4:5; I Thess. 2:12; 4:1, 12; II Thess. 3:11).
“Straight paths” in the Greek doesn’t necessarily refer to paths which have been crooked, but more generally in the sense of it being the “right path.” The idea is, that
chastisement is tendered by the Lord, to bring us to the “straight paths,” or “right paths,” of the Cross. Any other path is wrong, out of the way, and will result in terrible, spiritual lameness, which we will address directly.
Understanding the Gospel as it was given to Paul, which in essence was and is, “Jesus Christ and Him Crucified,” and understanding how strongly he preached the Cross, I do not think we are doing violence to Scripture to conclude his statements in this manner.
The idea is, any path other than the Cross, is a wrong path, and will always, and without exception, lead to dire circumstances. Chastisement is meant to pull us to this right path, and I think one can say without fear of exaggeration, that this is the reason for most, if not all, chastisement.
The phrase, “Lest that which is lame be turned out of the way,” refers to the condition of most Christians, spiritually speaking. Most are spiritually lame, which means they don’t walk right, simply because they are on the wrong path. Spiritual lameness results from trying to live this life by our own efforts and ability, which means we’re doing so without the help of the Holy Spirit. Most Christians are confused by that statement, and because most have been taught wrong.
Most Christians either believe that the work of the Holy Spirit is all automatic, or else they believe that by them doing spiritual things, that this constitutes “walking after the Spirit” (Rom. 8:1). Both directions are wrong, i.e., “wrong paths.”
As stated, the way of the Cross constitutes the only “straight paths” there actually are. The manner in which we find these paths and walk on them, is not by activity, but rather by understanding our position in Christ. If the Reader can bear our repetitiveness, we will say it again.
The following constitutes “straight paths”:
1. Everything the Believer receives from the Lord comes exclusively through the Finished Work of Christ, i.e., “the Cross” (Rom. 6:3-5, 11, 14). 2. Our Faith is to ever be in that Finished Work. This is the critical part of our living for God. The object of our faith is the single HEBREWS 12:14
most important thing there is. The problem with most of Christianity is that the object of its faith is something else other than the Cross. And to be sure, it doesn’t really matter what it is, or how good it might be in its own right, if it’s not Faith in the great Sacrifice of Christ, then it’s not Faith which the Holy Spirit will honor (Rom. Chpt. 4).
3. Once our faith is properly placed, and our faith remains in that proper place, the Holy Spirit will then function greatly on our behalf (Rom. 8:1-2, 11). This is what constitutes “walking after the Spirit” (Rom. 8:2). The Spirit will only walk on “straight paths,” i.e., “right paths,” and one might even say, this is the “Law,” as derived from Romans 8:2. HEALED
The phrase, “But let it rather be healed,” refers to what the chastisement is intended to bring forth, which can only be done, by the Believer being brought to the Cross, and understanding this, the great Sacrifice of Christ, as being the answer, and in fact, the only answer to all things. When this path, the path of the Cross is followed, only then can the lame feet be healed.
As should be obvious, this speaks of our daily walk before God, which means that now we are “walking” as we should.
“Healed” in the Greek is “iaomai,” and means “to make whole.” And as well, it speaks of being made “whole” in every way, spiritually, financially, physically, mentally, domestically, etc.
A few hours ago (Sept. 19, 2000) we were taping Television programs for “A Study in the Word.”
I asked the question on the Telecast, “Is it possible for a Believer to be brought to an understanding of the Cross of Christ, without somehow a crisis being affected in his life?”
If “chastisement” can be construed as a “crisis,” and which I definitely think it can, then I think the Scripture is all too clear, that such has to be before the Believer can begin to think right, and believe right. And of course, by this statement I am speaking of the Believer coming to the place to where he surrenders himself totally to Christ, which translates into complete Faith in the Cross of
Christ, which then gives the Holy Spirit the latitude to work within our hearts and lives.
It would seem that all of this should be very simple and easy, would it not? However, that is not the case. Most Christians do not like to admit that they are wrong about something, and Preachers most of all do not like to admit they are wrong about something. But as I’ve said repeatedly, there’s been so little teaching on the Cross in the last several decades, that the modern Church is all but Cross illiterate. Consequently, most Christians are living less than victorious lives, actually with works of the flesh being manifested in their daily experiences. This is a terrible situation to be in, but yet, to solve the problem, most of the time we just simply try to increase what we’re already doing, which makes a bad matter worse. In other words, what we’re doing now to live this Christian life is mostly wrong, and then when we add to that, we only exacerbate the situation.
To bring the Christian out of that situation, most of the time, if not all the time, chastisement is required. In fact, I think these Passages as given by Paul do proclaim the fact, that such cannot be done without chastisement. That’s the reason that it is plainly stated, “For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth” (Heb. 12:6).
Almost the entirety of the modern Church needs “healing,” and that healing can only come about by the Church going back to the Cross. If it takes chastisement to bring the Church to this particular place, then chastisement will be a cheap price to pay.
1. Every Christian should eagerly seek peace with all men, but not at the expense of compromising the Gospel. 2. A holiness that is continuously more perfected should ever be the goal of the Believer. This speaks of Christlikeness! 3. Our holiness is obtained by faith and trust in Christ and what He did at the Cross. Without such Faith, there is no holiness, and there is no Salvation. JIMMY SWAGGART BIBLE COMMENTARY
The phrase, “Follow peace with all men,” must be the continuous effort of every true Christian.
“Follow” in the Greek is “dioko,” and means “to run swiftly in order to catch some person or thing, to run after, to press on.” It is used of one who in a race runs swiftly to reach the goal (Phil. 3:12). The word is seen, therefore, to have a sense of urgency about it, of intensity of purpose.
Every effort must be made to live peacefully with all men, but not at the expense of Holiness, i.e., “the compromising of the Word of God.”
We as Believers are to ever make war with sin, but not with men. People are often selfish and abrasive, but this is not the way Christians should be. For us, peace is imperative, and we must “make every effort” to attain it.
However, after every effort is made, there are some people with whom one simply cannot live at peace. After having done our best in this respect, then the Words of Christ must apply. He said:
“Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he will hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.
“But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
“And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the Church: but if he neglect to hear the Church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican” (Mat. 18:15-17).
The short phrase, “And Holiness,” refers to being set apart unto God. Such must be characteristic of the Believer. Although the Believer lives in the world, we must always in one sense be different from the world and separate from the world. Our standards are not the world’s standards. Holiness and Sanctification are actually the same thing.
The phrase, “Without which no man shall see the Lord,” is extremely important, and must be correctly understood.
This statement has been often quoted,
“without Holiness no man shall see the Lord,”
but which is a misquote.
Most of the time such thinking proceeds from the idea that a certain set of rules made up by men, must be obeyed, with such obedience construed as holiness, and disobedience construed as a lack of holiness, with the person then condemned.
Much of this teaching has been based upon the idea that holiness is an experience called by some the “second blessing,” or the “second work of grace,” and that those who do not obtain this experience, although regenerate, will eventually lose their souls and will never see the Lord. But this is incorrect, and finds no countenance whatever in the Text itself, or anywhere else in the Bible. In fact, the very opposite is true.
We are exhorted in this Text to follow two things, one manward and the other Godward. First, we are to follow peace with all men. That is, we are to make that our object in our dealings with our fellow men.
Manifestly we shall never attain to this in the full sense. Even our Blessed Lord Himself, though He came preaching Peace, did not find all men ready to be at peace with Him. And the Believer, however earnestly he pursues the ideal, even as we’ve already stated, will still find men who refuse to live peaceably.
Godward, we are to follow Holiness. This is to be the trend of our lives. We are ever to seek to become more and more like Him, the Holy One. Apart from this, no man, whatever his profession, shall see the Lord.
The moment we see the words “Holy,” or “Holiness,” or “Sanctification” in the Bible, most of the time our thoughts go in wrong directions.
First of all, there is no way that any human being, even the Godliest of Believers, can effect these great Works of Grace within our lives. All of this is a Work of the Spirit. He Alone can make us what we ought to be, and without Him we cannot be what we ought to be (Rom. 8:1-2, 11).
First of all we must understand, that every single Believer has a position of Holiness before the Lord, and was granted this at the moment of Salvation (I Cor. 6:11). This automatically comes with imputed Righteousness. In other words, the moment that the believing sinner expresses and evidences Faith in Christ and what He did at the Cross, at that moment a perfect Holiness is ascribed to that individual. It is not earned, and in fact it cannot be earned. It comes simply by Faith.
As stated, that is the Believer’s position, which in fact, never changes; however, the actual condition does change constantly, and is what Paul is here discussing.
It is the business of the Holy Spirit to bring the “condition of holiness” so to speak, of the Believer up to the “position of holiness.” It is the business as well of the Believer to yield and consecrate to the Spirit in order that this be done. And how is that done?
It is done by the Believer constantly evidencing Faith in the Cross of Christ, in other words, ever making the Cross the object of one’s Faith. When this is done, the Holy Spirit can perfect the condition of Holiness in one’s life.
The major problem, however, is man-devised holiness, and which has always been the problem. Of course, such constitutes holiness which God will not accept, and which only succeeds in breeding self-righteousness. But regrettably, that’ where most Christians actually are, that is if they think of holiness at all. Such succeeds only in gendering strife, wrath, discord, and as stated, self-righteousness. In fact, it is the bane of the Church!
To be sure, those who follow that type of holiness, will not “see the Lord.” It’s only those who follow God’s prescribed order, which is the Cross of Christ, which gives the Holy Spirit the latitude in which to work, who “shall see the Lord.”
1. It is only by the Grace of God that Holiness can be perfected in our lives. NOTES
2. “Roots of bitterness” spring up in hearts and lives when Believers seek to attain to Holiness other than by the Grace of God. 3. “Defilement” refers to “works of the flesh,” which will definitely come about, if our course is anything but God’s prescribed order, which is the Cross. THE GRACE OF GOD
The phrase, “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the Grace of God,” presents several great truths:
1. We are to be diligent in our pursuing the Grace of God. 2. It is only by “the Grace of God” in which Holiness, or any other Blessing from the Lord, can be attained. 3. It is quite possible to “fail of the Grace of God,” which refers to stopping the flow (Gal. 2:21). The Grace of God simply refers to the goodness of God that is extended to undeserving Believers. It is intended to come in an uninterrupted flow, and definitely will do so, upon the proper provision of Faith. The Grace of God comes to all individuals strictly by and through the great Sacrifice of Christ. God has always had Grace, but until the Cross, it could not be extended quite so readily. Since the Cross, which makes the application of Grace possible, Grace is extended to the Believer like a Niagara so to speak.
In view of the fact that it is the Cross of Christ which makes Grace possible (Rom. 3:24; 4:16; 5:2, 20; 6:14; Gal. 6:14; Eph. 2:89), then we should know how important the Cross actually is.
We know from this Passage, as well as Galatians 2:20-21, and others similar, that the Grace of God can be frustrated and even stopped. Of course, such a thing is tantamount to total defeat, but which regrettably characterizes the lives of many if not most Believers, I think.
First of all, and as should by now be obvious, the Grace of God is not an automatic thing. Were that so, then it wouldn’t be possible to fail of the Grace of God or to frustrate the Grace of God. So, what is it that
frustrates the Grace of God and what is it that keeps the Grace of God coming to the Believer in an uninterrupted flow?
I suppose if most Christians had to answer that question, they would go back to the word “Holiness,” surmising in their minds that Grace is stopped if we aren’t holy enough! Whatever it is they would think, most would probably conclude in their minds that our “works,” have something to do with this, etc. None of that is correct.
First let’s see why Grace is stopped or at least hindered.
Whenever the Believer attempts to live this Christian life by faith in his spiritual activity, such as faithful Church attendance, the paying of our tithes, daily Bible study, witnessing to souls on a regular basis, etc., all things incidentally which are very, very good; still, because these things are good, they deceive us. Let me explain it this way:
It’s certainly not the doing of these things which are wrong. In fact, these are things that every Christian surely will do, and because they are a part and parcel of the Christian experience, and will definitely bring blessings to the Believer. The problem is the object of our Faith. It’s the thinking that these things merit us something with God, or provide some type of Holiness or Righteousness which steers us wrong. And yet that’s where most of Christendom is.
Most Christians would vehemently deny that the object of their Faith is their works, but that’s exactly where it is with most, irrespective as to what they say or think. And how do I know that?
If the Believer doesn’t understand the Message of the Cross, and regrettably, most don’t, the only other place for the object of our Faith is our works.
When we say things of this nature, many Christians claim that we’re demeaning prayer, or faithfulness to Church, or witnessing to souls, etc. To be frank, that’s ridiculous! I suppose at least one of the reasons that some Christians grow somewhat testy when we broach this subject, is because we’ve hit a nerve. There is something about the “doing of religion,” that makes us feel holy, etc. And when someone takes those props away, we get a little angry. Nevertheless, that’s where
most Christians presently are. And the hurtful thing about all of this is, instead of these things bringing about the intended result, they bring about the very opposite. Our situation doesn’t get better but worse; the sin which doth so easily beset us is not eradicated, but gets worse; and we’re left somewhat confused!
The truth is, by depending on these things which I have mentioned and many I haven’t mentioned, which means to make them the object of our Faith, all we succeed in doing, is to stop the Grace of God. Holiness, Righteousness, purity, victory, etc., are never provided by anything that we can do in the realm of works, irrespective as to how good and noble those works might be. All of these things, and without exception, are provided by the Holy Spirit, and He does so on one basis, and that is on the basis of the great Sacrifice of Christ.
In other words, you as a Believer must put your Faith in the Cross of Christ and do so exclusively, if you want the Grace of God to come to you, and to come to you in an uninterrupted flow. You must understand that it is the Cross that makes Grace possible; it is the Cross where Jesus paid the price; it is the Cross that defeated every power of darkness.
We have a tendency to judge Christians by their works. Now don’t misunderstand, works definitely are very important, and the truth is, every good Christian will definitely have good works. In other words, proper faith will always produce proper works; however, proper works will never produce proper Faith. You must ever remember that. But that’s what most of the modern Church is attempting to do.
They are attempting to produce faith by works, and to use a pun, it simply won’t work.
Strong Christians, at least in the eyes of God, are those who totally and completely look to the Finished Work of Christ. In other words, the Cross is ever the object of their Faith. They understand that this is where all Blessings are derived; they understand that the Cross is the means by which the Grace of God, i.e., “the goodness of God,” can keep
coming to the Saint of God. Their faith is not in themselves, not in their religious Denomination, not in their particular Church, not in Preachers per se, but in Jesus Christ exclusively, and more particularly, what Christ did at the Cross.
A weak Christian is judged by God, as one who has his faith in his works, and irrespective as to how many works there might be. As one I think can surely see, this is the very opposite of the thinking of most of the modern Church.
Once again, please allow me to emphasize, that we’re not demeaning works. Instead of less works we should have more. In other words, Christians should definitely do more for the Lord, certainly not less! The idea is, and that which I’m trying to get you to see, is that these things do not constitute strength with God, do not earn us anything from God, and do not really perfect any Righteousness or Holiness within our hearts and lives. And if a Christian is engaged in such, and that’s where their Faith is, they are looked at by the Lord as a “weak Christian,” and for all the Biblical reasons.
Some years ago, in reading after an English Preacher, who has long since gone on to be with the Lord, he made a statement which at first shocked me, but yet I knew it was true.
He said, “The Church must repent not only of its bad, but as well of its good!” At that moment I knew what he said was right, but at that particular time I didn’t really understand why it was right. Only when the Lord began to open up to me the Cross did I understand what he was saying.
We can all understand repenting of the bad things we do, but repenting of the good? What the man meant was this:
He wasn’t meaning that we should cease and desist as it regards good works. He was meaning that our Faith must never be in these things, but always in Christ and Him Crucified. And by the way, he was right when he said we ought to repent before the Lord of depending upon those things.
The heading we’ve just given, is that which almost every single Christian will say. But despite saying it all the time, most Christians
really don’t know what they are saying. They think they do, but most actually don’t! No, what I’m saying is not a mere play on words, but rather the very core of the problem.
While it is definitely correct that all true Christians definitely do have their faith in Christ; still, not really knowing what that actually means, I’m afraid that most Christians instead, are more trusting in their own religious works than anything else. I’m not questioning their love for Christ or their devotion to Christ. And to be sure, every single true Christian knows that Jesus died for them; however, that’s about the extent that they know as it regards the Cross. That’s where their faith starts and stops.
To properly understand the statement, we must properly understand the word “faith.” To make it very simple, the word just simply means “to believe.” However, it carries far more than a mere mental assent, or an acknowledgement of the truthfulness of something.
As the word is used in the Bible, Faith refers to a total and complete giving of oneself to Christ, and in every capacity — to be sure, to a far greater capacity than most realize.
And how do we do that?
We do that simply by evidencing Faith in the Finished Work of Christ. That’s what Faith in Christ actually means. That’s the reason I keep saying, that when we speak of Christ, when we think of Christ, it must always be in connection with the Cross, for that’s where the price was paid. So, when one speaks of having Faith in Christ, one should at the same time understand that it actually refers to what He did for us as it regards His giving of Himself on the Cross of Calvary. That is proper faith, which means it’s that to which the Holy Spirit will always respond favorably (Rom. 6:3-5, 11, 14; 8:1-2, 11; Gal. 6:14).
The phrase, “Lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you,” presents that which bears bitter fruit. The metaphor is taken from the growth of plants. Such growth is slow, but what is in the plant will surely come out in time.
What I’m going to say is I think, very, very important. And if the Holy Spirit helps you
to understand this of which we say, and I know He will, if you will look to Him for His leading, these truths could be a lifesaver to you.
“Roots of bitterness” spring up in the hearts of Believers, and we are speaking here of Believer, whenever they “fail of the Grace of God.” The reason is this:
When Believers attempt to live this life for Christ by the means of the “flesh,” which we are condemned to do if we do not understand the Message of the Cross, as we’ve already stated, this stops the flow of Grace, with the situation then becoming intolerable. This is what causes “burnout,” emotional problems, stress, etc. and it’s because we’re trying to do this thing in our own strength, which in fact, only the Holy Spirit can do.
In all of this, it’s so easy to become bitter, which is exactly what millions have done. At this stage, many quit trying to live for God, and if they don’t quit, their lives are totally unproductive as far as the Cause of Christ is concerned.
It’s somewhat like going back to the “burning bush” in the desert, as it regarded Moses, but which was not consumed (Ex. 3:1-5).
If we are looking to the Finished Work of Christ, which then gives us the help of the Holy Spirit, the bush can burn forever and not be consumed; however, if we’re trying to do this thing, as stated, “in the flesh,” which refers to our own strength and efforts, which means we’re not looking to the Cross, to be sure, the bush will be consumed, which translates into the fact, that we will be consumed.
As I dictate these notes, on September 21, 2000, I have been preaching the Gospel not much short of 50 years.
In the early years of my Ministry, preaching Revivals and Campmeetings all over the nation, I would often hear of particular Preachers suffering what was referred to as “burnout.” As well, I heard Preachers talk constantly about all Preachers needing some type of “hobby,” which was supposed to address this problem, etc.
I don’t mean to be cold or calloused; however, “burnout” is a result of the flesh, while “hobbies” are an effort of the flesh. I’m not denying the fact of “burnout,” but I am denying that such is the result of overwork, etc.
Burnout is always caused by trying to do the Work of God by our own strength and efforts, i.e., “by the efforts of the flesh,” i.e., “efforts which are totally of man and not of the Spirit.” And to be sure, no “hobby” is going to address that problem.
If the Spirit of God is doing the work within us, there will be no problem with burnout, or emotional disturbance or stress, etc. Listen to what Paul said:
“For if you live after the flesh, you shall die (be destroyed spiritually, mentally, and emotionally): but if you through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, you shall live” (Rom. 8:13). So the great question is asked, as to how that one succeeds in functioning according to the Holy Spirit? We are here plainly told, that all of this must be done, and in fact can only be done, “through the Spirit.”
We know that every single Believer in the world, and I speak of those who truly are Believers, have the Holy Spirit.
We also know, that the Holy Spirit is God, and as such, He can do anything.
We also know that something is wrong, when so many Christians are experiencing all types of problems. This means, that the Holy Spirit is not doing all that He can do. To be sure, if He is functioning properly within our hearts and lives, we will have victory on every front and in every situation. This doesn’t mean an absence of problems, but it does mean victory in the spiritual sense, which to be sure, will flow over into every other aspect of our life and living.
To have this brought about, which guarantees the greatest life and living that one could ever experience, there are only two things which must be done. They are:
1. Even as we’ve said over and over again in this very Volume, the Believer must understand that every single thing we need from the Lord in order to live this life and be what we ought to be, comes exclusively through the Finished Work of Christ. Jesus addressed HEBREWS 12:15
every single problem in the Atonement. Nothing was excluded, and everything was included. So, whatever it is that’s troubling you, to be sure it was addressed at the Cross. That means the Cross is your answer!
2. Understanding that, you must place your faith unequivocally in the Finished Work of Christ. You must understand that this is the Source of your help, and place your Faith accordingly. This means, that you full well understand that what is required of you, you literally cannot do. In fact, there’s not a single human being in the world who can do what the Lord requires of us, not even the strongest Christian in the world. But at the same time, you must realize that Christ has already done everything for you, and did it at a fearful price. Of course, we’re speaking of what He did at the Cross.
Actually, when your Faith is placed in the great Sacrifice of Christ, this is what constitutes “walking after the Spirit” (Rom. 8:1). The Holy Spirit will always lead the Believer to the Cross (Jn. 16:14). He always glorifies Christ, and what Christ has done in order to liberate fallen humanity. And when you put your Faith in the Sacrifice of Christ, which incidentally, the Holy Spirit demands, you then have His full help. And as we’ve already stated, there is nothing He cannot do.
Jesus said:
“The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (Jn. 10:10). The “more abundant life” of which He here spoke, concerns the “Spiritual Life” produced by the Spirit, which is derived from Christ and what He did at the Cross (Rom. 8:2). This pertains to victorious, Christian living, which is the greatest life that one could ever have. As stated, it is furnished solely by the Spirit, and on the basis of the Finished Work of Christ.
However, many in the modern Church have turned this around, to where it pertains only to “things.” I speak of money, and the things that money can buy. Consequently, these so-called Christians are not looking to the Cross, but rather to foolish Preachers who can tell them how to get rich, etc. This
is rank heresy, and the Holy Spirit through Paul said, “They which do such things shall not inherit the Kingdom of God” (Gal. 5:21).
To be frank, these particular Preachers, and they number into the multitudes, are preaching and teaching “another Jesus, by another spirit, which is another gospel” (II Cor. 11:4).
Such a gospel will not change anyone’s life, will not bring about any type of spiritual victory, and will not throw aside the forces of darkness. In other words, individuals who follow such teaching, thinking they’re going to get money or whatever, are instead going to be destroyed. All of this is “of the flesh,” and the Scripture plainly says in respect to this, “For if you live after the flesh, you shall die” (Rom. 8:13).
The Cross of Christ is the only answer for hurting humanity, and in fact, for humanity in general, and not some fake pot of gold at the end of some fake rainbow.
The phrase, “And thereby many be defiled,” speaks of “works of the flesh” which most certainly will attach themselves to those plagued by a “root of bitterness.”
The Christian should understand, that he has only two ways to go. He can go the way of the “Cross,” or he can go the way of “self.” The Cross has only one way, while self has untold numbers of ways.
The reason that Paul gave so much teaching on the problem of “self,” i.e., “the flesh,” is simply because there is already a propensity in the heart of all Believers to go in that direction. So it’s a road that’s not only well trod, but easily trod; however, it leads to nothing but sorrow, heartache, pain, and disappointment. And in fact, it can lead to the loss of one’s soul.
The problem with self is, that it’s always very religious. It’s also very subtle and very deceitful. We invoke the Name of Jesus, and quote a few Scriptures, and think we are “walking after the Spirit.” We aren’t! And then we wonder why the defilement, i.e., “failure”?
Satan never fights self, but rather aids and abets efforts in this direction. But to be sure, he relentlessly fights the Cross of Christ, and for all the obvious reasons!
1. It is only through the Cross that victory over the flesh can be obtained. 2. Esau, although of the family of God, did not know God, and because he rejected God’s way which is Christ and the Cross. 3. He sold his birthright, which pertained to the Blessing of Abraham, because he had no concern or regard for spiritual things. ESAU
The phrase, “Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau,” proclaims to us several things:
1. The Holy Spirit here says with terrible severity that Esau was a “profane person.” 2. He was “profane” because he rejected God’s Way, which is the Cross, and which results are inevitable. Being “profane” was not the cause, but rather the result. 3. The Holy Spirit through Paul is here saying, that any Believer, exactly as Esau of old, who rejects God’s Way of the Cross, will conclude exactly as Esau. Such is a chilling prospect! But such is true. HIS BIRTHRIGHT
The phrase, “Who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright,” pertains to spiritual things.
The birthright implied the first place or rank in the family; the privilege of offering sacrifice and conducting worship in the absence or death of the father; a double share of the inheritance; and in this instance the honor of being in the line of the Patriarchs, and the transmitting of the Promises made to Abraham and Isaac. What Esau parted with we can easily understand, by reflecting on the honors which have clustered around the name of Jacob, i.e., “the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”
Most read this Passage and conclude that Esau did this, rejected his birthright, because he was a fornicator and profane person; however, the idea lends toward the following:
The entirety of the subject of Hebrews is Faith in Christ and what He did for humanity
HEBREWS 12:16-17
at the Cross. This great Promise of a coming Redeemer was given to the Patriarchs, even as Paul has addressed repeatedly in the Eleventh Chapter. Esau rejected this Promise. In other words, he had no regard or concern for that of which we speak. He wanted his own way, and in a sense his own religion, with the result being that he became a fornicator and profane person.
In essence, Esau did the same identical thing as Cain, and untold billions of others ever since. He was in the Family of God, but he was not of the Family of God, exactly as the majority in the modern Church presently.
The birthright of this man was, “the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Esau.” But he didn’t want that, and because it meant placing his faith and trust in One Who was to come, Who would redeem fallen humanity. In essence, Esau was saying that he didn’t need a Savior, exactly as so many who follow in his train.
Most miss the intent of this Passage as given by Paul, automatically dismissing it as a man who chose the gratification of fleshly desires. However, as stated, that is not the idea of the Text. Fleshly gratification and immorality of many and varied stripes, always follow the rejection of the Cross, for that’s what all of his comes down to. We must remember that we are speaking here of Believers, or at least those who claim to be Believers. As stated, Esau was in the family but not of the family. There is a vast difference in being “in the Family of God” than being “of the Family of God.” Every single Christian is in the world, but we are definitely not supposed to be of the world.
1. Esau wanted the Blessing, but he didn’t want the Christ of the Blessing, one might say. 2. He was rejected by the Holy Spirit, even as all are rejected who reject “Christ and Him Crucified.” HEBREWS 12:17
3. He did not seek repentance with tears, but rather the Blessing. In other words, he would not repent of his erroneous direction. THE BLESSING
The phrase, “For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the Blessing,” proclaims Esau, as millions, desiring the Blessing without the Blesser. Everyone wants the Blessing, whatever that might be, but let it ever be known, that the only way that the Blessing can be received, is by Faith in the Redeemer and what He did at the Cross on our behalf. There is Salvation or Blessing in no other (Acts 4:12).
Of Esau God says, “As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated” (Mal. 1:1-3; Rom. 9:13).
The Psalmist said, “Through Thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way” (Ps. 119:104).
Esau was projecting a “false way,” which means that he placed no faith or confidence in the coming Redeemer, which means that he really did not look at himself as needing a Redeemer, which is the condition of most of the world.
The phrase, “He was rejected,” proclaims the fact that even though it was Isaac who tendered the rejection, it was actually God Who rejected him. God will reject a person only on one condition, and that condition is that they do not believe in Christ and Him Crucified as the answer to fallen humanity. The Scripture says of God, “Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, they do always err in their heart; and they have not known My ways.
“So I sware in My wrath, they shall not enter into My rest.”
Paul then said, “Take heed, Brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the Living God” (Heb. 3:10-12).
God can only accept the Sacrifice of Christ; consequently, He can accept only those who put their faith and trust in that Sacrifice.
This was the Faith of the Patriarchs. They were men who made mistakes, and at times, took wrong directions, but not as it regards
their ultimate Faith in the Coming Redeemer. They believed what God said about this coming great Sacrifice, even though their understanding at the time was only partial. It has not changed from then until now.
The whole of the Plan of God is the salvation of the human race. That was and is done solely and completely by the Sacrifice of Christ. That’s what the Bible is all about, in fact, that is the story of the Bible.
The addendum to that is, that fallen man must express Faith in that Sacrifice, whether they lived before Christ or after Christ (Eph. 2:8-9). Without question, God must reject any faith that is in anything else other than the Sacrifice of Christ. Esau, pure and simple, did not have that Faith, did not want that Faith, and would not accept that Faith, but yet he wanted the Blessing. Such is not to be!
The phrase, “For he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears,” proclaims the end result of such a direction. The pronoun “it” doesn’t refer to the repentance, but rather to the Blessing. He wanted the Blessing, as is obvious, but he did not want to repent of his foul ways of faith in things other than Christ. Primarily, it was faith in himself, as it generally always is with most.
Some have tried to claim from these two Verses, that God will not forgive “fornicators” or those who are “profane.” Were that the case, there wouldn’t be many people saved. No, and as stated, Esau more and more became these things after his rejection of the “Blessing.” This is not to insinuate that the seed was not already in his heart, for it definitely was.
God will forgive of any sin except blaspheming the Holy Spirit, which does not enter into this situation, and the sin of unbelief. As it regards the sin of unbelief, there is no ground on which God can bring about forgiveness, simply because the ground of forgiveness, which is the Sacrifice of Christ, has been rejected. That — unbelief — was the problem with Esau, and it is the problem with the majority of the world. In fact, it’s even the problem with the majority of the Church.
1. Paul is referring here to Mt. Sinai. 2. He is more specifically mentioning the Law. 3. The Law was given with great overtones of judgment, symbolized by the “fire, blackness, darkness, and tempest.” MT. SINAI
The phrase, “For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched,” is in effect saying to these Christian Jews, “you had better carefully consider the Law with which you are proposing to once again embrace.”
The Apostle gave the warning as it concerned Esau, because what some of them were proposing, was exactly what Esau had done. He wanted them to see the road they were proposing to travel.
Esau wanted the Blessing, but he denied that which gave the Blessing, which was Christ. These Christian Jews were contemplating doing the very same thing. They must know, that if they did this thing, as God rejected Esau, He would also reject them. To reject Christ and His Cross, is to be rejected by God.
The phrase, “And that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest,” refers to the august Power of God represented by these symbols. All of this took place when the Law was given on Mt. Sinai (Ex. 19:16-20).
The idea is, we can face God respecting His Law according to the symbols here given, or we can face Him through the Blood of His Son and our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul is trying to convey to these Christian Jews, at least to those who were contemplating going back to the Law, exactly what they were facing. What is being said is according to the following:
Man must answer to God. Whether he denies the existence of God, or whether he claims some fabricated deity as God; still, he
HEBREWS 12:18-19
will answer to his Creator at the Judgment. If he attempts to answer in any way except through the Sacrifice of Christ, he is going to face “the fire, the blackness, the darkness, and the tempest.” The latter is a chilling prospect. But this is what the Holy Spirit is saying through the Apostle.
1. The Trumpet announced God and His Holiness. 2. The Trumpet was following by the “voice of words,” which was so powerful, that the people could not stand the sound. 3. They begged that it would stop! THE TRUMPET AND THE VOICE
The phrase, “And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words,” presents that as stated, which accompanied the giving of the Law.
Some may look at the giving of the Law as exampled here and recorded in Exodus Chapter 20, and the advent of Grace one might say, as given on the Day of Pentecost, and wonder as to why the great difference? As it regards Grace, while the advent of the Holy Spirit was accompanied by the sound of a “rushing mighty wind” (Acts 2:2), still, there was no comparison between the two. In fact, the record will show that some 3,000 men died at the time the Law was given as a result of judgment because of sin (Ex. 32:2528), whereas 3,000 men were saved on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:41).
The difference in these two days or times lies within the difference of Law and Grace. That’s the reason that no one, at least if they’re in their right mind spiritually speaking, would want to try to function spiritually according to Law. A thrice-Holy God can accept nothing less than perfection, which man is incapable of rendering. Man’s only hope is Grace, but yet, it seems that many Christians insist upon trying to live by “Law.” While it’s not the Law of Moses of which we speak, but rather law which they have fabricated themselves or else by someone else, it is still law,
HEBREWS 12:20-21
which God cannot bless. When we take this route, we “fail of the Grace of God,” exactly as Paul mentioned in Verse 15. The conclusion to that is always defilement.
The phrase, “Which voice they that heard intreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more,” relates the Voice of God as being of such power, that it could not be stood by the people (Ex. 20:19; Deut. 5:2227). So terrible was His Voice to them, so awful the penalties which fenced round their approach to Him, that they shrank back from hearing His Words.
1. The people could not stand the Holiness of God. 2. God coming this close, meant that death was very close, and because of the sinfulness of the people. 3. Once again we state the fact, that if any person attempts to please God through the keeping of Law, he must render a perfect obedience, and he must understand, that not one single soul, except Christ, has ever succeeded in doing such. THE COMMANDS
The phrase, “For they could not endure that which was commanded,” presents the fearfulness of the giving of the Law on Mt. Sinai, and one of the commands laid on the people, namely, that neither man nor beast should even touch the mountain under penalty of death. Paul uses the phrase, “which was commanded,” which makes it all terrifyingly present. The command that nothing touch it indicates the Holiness and separateness of the mountain, and because God had now come down on this particular place. The quotation is from Exodus 19:13.
The meaning is not that the commands themselves were intolerable, but that the “manner” in which they were communicated inspired a terror which they could not
bear. In other words, they feared that they would die.
The phrase, “And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart,” proclaims the absolute poignancy of the moment.
“Touch” in the Greek here is “thiggano,” and means “to touch, handle.” It implies a touching or a grasping which affects the object. In classical Greek it is often used of touching or handling some sacred object which may be desecrated by the one who lays hands on it. Here, to touch the mountain, was to profane it. The reason, as stated, pertains to the absolute Holiness of God, which is beyond the comprehension of mere mortals.
During all of this time, the only way that man could approach God was by means of the Sacrifices. We have the first record of such in Genesis 4, and which continued up unto the time of Moses. During the giving of the Law, the very heart of the Levitical system was the sacrificial order, which pertained to five separate Sacrifices (Lev. Chpts. 1-5). Of course, the Sacrifices from the very beginning all and without exception, represented Christ and the price that He would pay in order to redeem lost humanity. The Law never did present a way to reach God, and simply because man was incapable of fulfilling its demands. But Christ did meet all of its demands, and as well, suffered its penalty on the Cross, which atoned for all sin, and made it possible for man to come directly to God, but in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
1. If this sight was terrible to Moses, and it definitely was, who in fact was one of the godliest men who ever lived, then how more terrible it must have appeared unto the people. 2. The word “fear” is intensified as to its meaning by the prefixed preposition which literally says, “I am frightened out or away.” 3. Men constantly blaspheme God, never once realizing His awesome power, which in fact, is so awesome as to defy all human comprehension. JIMMY SWAGGART BIBLE COMMENTARY
The phrase, “And so terrible was the sight,” proclaims in the strongest language possible, that no lasting blessing can come to fallen man through the Law. The very circumstances under which that fiery Law was given should have impressed upon him his utter inability to meet its requirements, and thus have led him to cast himself upon the matchless Grace of God, which alone can undertake for a sinner whose fallen nature is in opposition to the Divine Will. But Israel, even though they shrank in terror from the manifestations of Divine Power, self-confidently declared, “All that the Lord hath spoken will we do, and be obedient,” thus making themselves responsible to keep every Commandment in order to enter into Blessing (Ex. 19:8). They should have asked for Mercy and Grace realizing their total inadequacy. But there seems to be something in man, even we modern Christians, which makes us think that we can in fact meet the requirements of the Law. The idea is this:
If even the lower creation, made subject to vanity because of man’s sin, would not be permitted to so much as touch the Mount, and if Moses who might be considered the very best in all Israel, trembled at the thought of drawing nigh to God under such circumstances, what possible hope could there be of any ordinary man standing before Jehovah on the ground of legal righteousness?
Oh Reader can you not see the absolute need for the glorious Grace of God? Can you not see the hopelessness of legal righteousness?
The phrase, “That Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake,” is not found in the Sinai narrative, but did occur at the time of the golden calf (Deut. 9:19). Quite possibly the Jewish Targums records these words of Moses, which were not included in the Holy Scripture. No doubt, there was much that happened at that memorable time which is not recorded here.
At any rate, Paul is picturing an awe-inspiring occasion, one that affected all the people and terrified even Moses, the man of God.
Once more the two Covenants are contrasted (vss. 18-29); and for the fourth time (vs. 25) a warning of mingled goodness and sternness is addressed to the readers of the Epistle.
The seven outward and visible signs of the Old Covenant (vss. 18-19) are contrasted with the seven inward and spiritual realities of the New (vss. 22-24). The first are: the mountain, the fire, the blackness, the darkness, the tempest, the sound of the trumpet, and “the words,” i.e., the Ten Commandments — the Law. It doomed to death.
The second are: the City, the Angels, the Firstborn, the Judge, the Righteous, the Mediator, and the Blood that speaks peace and life, all which we will momentarily address.
1. Instead of returning to Mt. Sinai and the Law, the Readers are urged to continue their approach to Mt. Sion, the spiritual mountain and city where God dwells and reigns. 2. The Angels are introduced here because they are the usual accompaniment of God’s Glory and ministers of His Will. 3. The previous Passages have portrayed Law, while these Passages portray Grace. There is quite a difference! THE HEAVENLY JERUSALEM
The phrase, “But ye are come unto Mount Sion, and unto the city of the Living God, the Heavenly Jerusalem,” refers to the eternal abode of the Saints of God, with its description given in Revelation, Chapters 21 and 22. No one has ever reached this City by Law, but only by Grace. In fact, all the Old Testament Saints who now grace this “Heavenly Jerusalem,” were taken there only after Jesus died on the Cross. Before then, they went down into the heart of the Earth, referred to as “Paradise,” or “Abraham’s bosom” (Lk. 16:22).
This was the case because the blood of bulls and goats could not take away sin; therefore, the sin debt remained, which means that Satan still had a claim on those Righteous Saints
(Eph. 4:8). Now due to the Cross, whenever a Christian dies, they instantly go to the
“Heavenly Jerusalem.”
Paul’s mention of “the Living God” emphasizes the thought that this City is no static affair; it is the city of a vital, dynamic, Living Being, One Who is doing things. This is where God dwells and reigns.
Paul also in Galatians 4:19-31 contrasts the Old Testament with the New Testament by speaking of Sinai and the Jerusalem which is above. The idea is, that the Law could not get anyone to that Heavenly Jerusalem; that could only be done by what Christ did at the Cross.
The Apostle is here showing the excellent advantages which Believers have under the New Covenant vs. the Old Covenant. The very words “ye are come,” proclaim the fact that due to the Grace of God, they were already citizens of the Heavenly Jerusalem, and were entitled to its privileges (Phil. 3:20).
The name of this city recurs again and again in both the Old Testament and the New Testament.
In the time of David, the city of Jerusalem was occupied by the Canaanites. It lay secure on mountainous heights in a wedge of land between the southern and northern sections of the land then occupied by the Twelve Tribes of Israel. David took the city by force. His action was politically motivated as well as spiritual: there was historic jealousy between the two sections of Israel. By establishing his Capital in the captured city of Jerusalem, David was able to avoid the jealousy that might have occurred if he had chosen a site in either the north or the south.
It was during the reign of David and Solomon that this city was developed not only as the Capital of a united Israel but also as its center of worship. Throughout subsequent sacred history, Jerusalem was viewed as the place where God has established His Name, and succeeding Temples were always built on the original site.
Most of the events of Bible history have their focus in Jerusalem, which became the central location that represents for all time Israel’s occupation of the Promised Land.
Jerusalem became the political and spiritual center of the life of Israel. Israel’s kings ruled here, and it was here that the Temple, which symbolized the unity of the people and its faith, was constructed. Most of the events of Old Testament history after the monarchy was established, focus on Jerusalem, and it is in part from these events that Jerusalem derives her theological significance.
Historic revivals were initiated in Jerusalem by Godly kings, and here too apostasy was spread by evil rulers. In a real sense, the spiritual condition of Jerusalem at any time in history was a barometer of the spiritual condition of the nation. The Ministry of the great Old Testament Prophets, such as Isaiah and Jeremiah, took place in Jerusalem — as did the murder of so many of the messengers God sent to warn His people.
Some of Jesus’ Ministry took place in Jerusalem. It was the home of the leaders who so fiercely resented Him and who plotted to achieve His execution. It was outside the walls of the Holy City that Jesus died, was buried, and rose again. And it was in Jerusalem that the Gospel was first preached and the first Church formed.
Both the magnificent and the dreadful events of sacred history combine to give Jerusalem a unique place in Scripture, and they gave it its distinctive theological associations. Paul saw the historic Jerusalem and the Jerusalem of his day in a sense, as representative of slavery, even as we are here addressing. Again and again the freeing Power of God was rejected by Israel, and her experience demonstrates the destructive power of Law when Law is confused with Faith as a way of Salvation (Gal. 4:21-31).
The Old Testament portrays a distinctive future for God’s people. The Children of Israel will be restored to nationhood, to be exalted over the other nations of the world. Jerusalem will then be the center of worship of the world when the promised time of renewal comes. The Messiah will take His waiting Throne, and that Messiah will be the Lord
Jesus Christ, and the nation will then be finally secure. This future is affirmed by most of the Prophets (Zech., Chpts. 12-14).
The New Testament introduces the concept of a Heavenly Jerusalem, to which we have briefly alluded. All that Jerusalem has been in sacred history as a political and spiritual center has foreshadowed what God intends to do on Earth. That perfect future world center of political and religious life is spoken of as the new or Heavenly Jerusalem (Heb. 12:22; Rev. 3:12; 21:2, 10).
All of this is the main reason for the present tension over Jerusalem between the Palestinians and the Israelis. In fact, this tension will only increase until the advent of the Antichrist, whose appearance is shortly to come to pass. There is much more behind all of this than a mere political problem, or a demand for land. The contention goes back all the way to the time of David, and will find its climax in the Second Coming, which will be the greatest event in human history (Rev. Chpt. 19).
The phrase, “And to an innumerable company of Angels,” represents untold thousands. In fact, in the vision of John the Beloved of the New Jerusalem, he said, “And I heard the voice of many Angels round about the Throne . . . and the number of them was 10,000 times 10,000, and thousands of thousands” (Rev. 5:11).
The word in the Greek is “myriads of myriads” and in the Hebrew is “chiliads of chiliads.”
It refers to “countless numbers,” and if taken literally, the number is 100 trillion.
When Paul used the term, “Ye are come unto Mt. Sion,” he was speaking of God’s free electing Grace. We read in Psalms 78:68, “He chose Mt. Zion which He loved.” When there had been a complete breakdown under the former order, God exalted David, the man after His Own heart, to the position of King in Israel, and confirmed the Promises to him and to his seed after him, and established his throne upon Mt. Zion, which cannot be removed forever (Ps. 125:1). “Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined.”
From that sacred Mount blessing goes forth to mankind, and eventually in the day of Jehovah’s power, “the Lord shall roar out of Zion,” “the Law shall go forth from Mt. Zion,” when “the Deliverer shall come to Zion” and all God’s glorious Promises be fulfilled, when “the Lord shall reign in Mt. Zion.”
It will be the center of New Covenant Blessing in that wondrous day, and of course, we’re speaking of the coming Kingdom Age. And for us at the present time, it speaks of pure grace superceding the legal Covenant. It is not to Mt. Sinai then, the Mount of Law, but to Sion, the Mount of Grace, we have come.
This of course, which we have addressed, is the Jerusalem that shall be in the coming Kingdom Age, with Jesus Christ reigning as its King and President. Israel, as stated, will once again be the leading nation in the world, that which God originally intended, but which they tried to obtain in all the wrong ways. Now it will come to pass, but only after they have accepted Christ not only as their Messiah, but as well, as their Savior. In other words, Israel must come to the Cross. That’s what the Prophet Zechariah was addressing when he said, “In that day (the Second Coming) there shall be a fountain opened to the House of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness” (Zech. 13:1).
That “fountain” is the Cross where the Precious Blood of our glorious Savior was shed for lost humanity.
“There is a fountain filled with blood, “Drawn from Immanuel’s veins, “And sinners plunged beneath that flood, “Lose all their guilty stain.”
Even though Paul couples the two together, “Mt. Sion” and “the Heavenly Jerusalem,” the latter is not to be confounded with the earthly city of the great King, which will yet be the joy of the whole Earth. Our portion, and I speak of the Church, and in fact, all who will be in the First Resurrection, is not to be in this world even when Christ Himself reigns, but we are to reign with Him from the Heavenly Jerusalem above. This of course, is the New Jerusalem, the Bride, the
Lamb’s wife of Revelation Chapters 19 and
21. It embraces all the Heavenly Saints, that is, all those who have died in faith throughout the centuries, all who in every dispensation believed God, and that of course includes all the Old Testament Saints as well, all who were quickened by His Spirit. The Heavenly Jerusalem is preeminently the Home of the Church and, therefore, is designated as the bridal city; but Saints, as stated, of all other dispensations who have passed through death and entered into Resurrection Life will, as one has expressed it, be upon its “Heavenly Roll.” This Heavenly Jerusalem will be the Throne Seat of the entire universe of God, and actually will be transferred from Heaven to Earth (Rev. Chpt. 21).
1. Those who are Born-Again will occupy the Heavenly Jerusalem. 2. God is the Judge as to who will occupy this City. 3. “The spirits of just men made perfect,” can only come about, and in fact has come about, by Faith in Christ and what He did at the Cross on our behalf. CHURCH OF THE FIRSTBORN ONES
The phrase, “To the General Assembly and Church of the firstborn, which are written in Heaven,” pertains to every Born-Again Believer from the time of Abel up to the Second Coming.
“Firstborn” here is in the plural in the original. The reference is not to Christ personally, but the entire Church, both those on Earth and in Heaven. The statement literally is, “Church of the firstborn ones, whose names are written in Heaven.”
The title “Church of the Firstborn” emphasizes the dignity of the Church. By using this title, the Holy Spirit points out not only the priority of the Church, but also its honored position. We who believe the Gospel are exalted to be Children of God; we are made “heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:17).
This unique position pertains only to the members of Christ’s Church rather than to Angels, and is granted to those alone who believe because of our union with Jesus Christ.
Someone asked me the question once, “Are we saved because of Who He is or What He did?”
While it must quickly be said that He, and of course we refer to the Lord Jesus Christ, is the only One Who could have paid the price for man’s Redemption; still, it is What He did which brought us our Redemption, which refers to the Cross.
Jesus Christ is God, and in fact, has always been God. As God He had no beginning, is uncreated, unformed, and unmade and has always been. Of course, it’s impossible for mere mortals to comprehend such terminology; however, God the Creator, and Jesus is God, cannot be described in mere human terms; my point is this:
Man is not saved just because Jesus is God. As stated, He has always been God, but that didn’t save anyone. The problem is this:
While God in his omnipotence could have regenerated fallen man without going to the Cross, and simply because He has the power to do that; nevertheless, regeneration without the sin question being addressed would not have really solved the problem. God’s nature demanded and rightly so, that the terrible crime of sin be addressed and paid in full. There was no way that man could do this and at the same time be salvaged. While all of mankind going to eternal Hell, and burning there forever and forever, would have satisfied that sin debt, such a payment would have destroyed the entirety of the human race. So if man was to be salvaged, God would have to pay the terrible price Himself, which He did by becoming Man and going to the Cross. So it was What He did, which ransomed the souls of men, and saved them from eternal doom. And to be sure, it was a price of such unparalleled proportions, that it literally defies all description.
To comprehend the horror of the Cross, man simply cannot do. And when I speak of
“horror” I do not speak of the physical pain, but of the spiritual suffering instead.
Isaiah Chapter 53 proclaims the terrible, spiritual agony of the Cross, as nothing else in the Word of God. It was on the Cross that Christ bore the sin penalty of the world. That penalty was death, but a death of unimagined proportions. God would literally smite His Only Begotten Son with judgment, judgment incidentally, which should have come upon us (Isa. 53:4).
Some claim that He was cursed by God, but that’s not correct. The Holy Spirit through Paul said that Christ was “made a curse for us,” and that is different than being cursed (Gal. 3:13).
The reason He had to be “made a curse,” is because He had no sin.
“Curse” in the Greek is “ginomai,” and means “to become, come into being, partake.” Consequently, having no sin, the only way He could be made a curse, was to be made to suffer the penalty of sin which was death, which He did! And let it be quickly said, that while on the Cross, as some claim, He definitely did not take upon Himself the nature of Satan and thereby die a lost sinner, and be Born-Again in Hell as they continue to claim. Such teaching is blasphemous!
First of all, Christ had to be a Perfect Sacrifice, which He was, which means there was no sin about Him of any capacity, whether personal or contrived. He was made to be a curse, which meant that He took the penalty that all of us should have taken; however, there was a great difference in Him taking the penalty and us, and that difference is this:
Had we taken the penalty, which would have been eternal death, there would have been no reprieve, and because in fact, we were sinners. But due to the fact that He had no sin, and that His Death atoned for all sin, past, present, and future, then death could not hold Him. The wages of sin is death, and if there had been one sin in Christ, or one sin unatoned, Jesus could not have been raised from the dead. Legally, He would have had to have remained in the death world; however, due to the fact of Him being absolutely sinless, and that His Death atoned for all sin, for all time, and for all human beings, at least for all who would believe, the wages had been
paid, and Satan had no legal right to hold Him in death.
That’s why the Veil in the Temple was rent from the top to the bottom at His Death. His Death opened up the way, which meant that the Resurrection was a foregone conclusion (Mat. 27:51).
Due to this great, Finished Work, the moment that a sinner says “Yes,” to Christ, he is instantly placed “in Christ,” which means that he is now “a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (II Cor. 5:17). At that moment, he becomes a member of the “Church of the Firstborn,” and his name is “written in Heaven.”
The phrase, “And to God the Judge of all,” refers to the fact that God has judged all who are in the “Church of the Firstborn,” as perfectly justified in His sight.
There is now no separating Veil, that having been taken away by the Cross of Christ, no cloud of darkness hiding His Face; but in the blessed consciousness of justification from all things, we stand unabashed in His Holy Presence, knowing that for us the sin question has been forever settled, and His Perfect Love has cast out all fear.
Israel saw God as remote. When they came to Sinai they found a Righteous God Who was both a Lawgiver and a Judge. Before His Law and Judgment they stood sinful and guilty; they dared not touch the mountain made holy by His Presence. The same Law which bound them to God in a Holy Covenant, also forbad them complete access into His Presence. But under the New Covenant, a Covenant incidentally ratified in the Blood of Jesus, the Believer is given perfect access into God’s Presence.
In Christ, we are brought near to God. We find a God Who is not cold or passive, but Who is kind and gracious. God, our Judge, Who incidentally, and as stated, has judged us as justified, is a God of love and longsuffering; He invites us to share our innermost feelings with Him. In confidence and assurance we lay our lives before Him, and we also have a personal relationship with Him as the Judge of all men. But again I state, we aren’t fearful of Him as Judge, because He has already
judged our sins in Jesus Christ, and they will never again be brought up before us. We are justified!
When Jesus died on the Cross, the guilt of sin was taken away, which means that the guilty verdict in Heaven was changed to “not guilty!” And as well, the power of sin was broken, which in effect, amounts to a “double cure.”
Oh dear Reader, can you now sense His Presence, even as you read these words. The price He paid for us was not only sufficient, but will ever be sufficient, and there will never be anyone in time or eternity, who will ever dare claim that it’s not sufficient. Paul said:
“But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the Blood of Christ” (Eph. 2:13).
The phrase, “And to the spirits of just men made perfect,” tells us several things:
1. All of the purification processes of the Law of Moses, could only address themselves to the outward. But the Blood of Jesus cleanses not only the outward, but even the spirits of men. At the Fall in the Garden of Eden, the spirit of man was cut off from God. But through Christ, the spirit of man has been reunited with the Spirit of God, and because it has been perfectly cleansed. 2. The words “just men” refer to “Justification by Faith.” This is what God promised Abraham would happen (Gen. 15:6), and it’s exactly what did happen, when Jesus died on the Cross. Simple Faith in Him, cleanses from all sin. 3. The word “perfect” adequately describes “Justification by Faith.” A Perfect God can only accept a perfect Salvation, which means that He can only accept a perfect Justification. That’s exactly what Christ afforded by His Death at the Cross, and that’s exactly what we presently have, a perfect Justification. In the true sense of the word, it is not possible for “Justification” to be anything but perfect. Anything less, automatically destroys the meaning of the act. Justification is a legal work, which means that God has legally declared man “not guilty,” based upon a legal faith, which is placed in a legal work, and thereby guarantees a legal Righteousness, the “imputed Righteousness of Christ.”
However, let it be known, that this is the only type of “legal Righteousness,” that God will accept. While the Law definitely had a legal righteousness, for it to be legally obtained, it had to be perfectly kept, which was impossible for man to do. So, anyone who tries to obtain a legal righteousness through the Law, is automatically condemned, for that’s all the Law can do. But when one accepts Christ, one is given the Righteousness of Christ, which He affords us as the “Second Man” (I Cor. 15:47).
1. It is Jesus Christ to Whom we must look. 2. He Alone is the Mediator (the go-between) between God and man. 3. By His Death on the Cross, He has established a “New Covenant.” 4. His shed Blood is the basis of this New Covenant, which paid the terrible sin debt. 5. His Blood speaks to all men, and for all time of the veracity of this New Covenant. 6. The New Covenant, established on His shed Blood, is much better than that of the animal sacrifices of Abel, and all others of the Old Testament. JESUS
The phrase, “And to Jesus,” proclaims the Son of God as the center point, the foundation, the establishment, one might say, of the entirety of the Word of God. And more particular, everything, even as here, always centers up on what He did at the Cross in order for man to be saved. No fallible man this Christ such as Moses himself was, who because of his failure was debarred from entering the Land of Promise! Christ Jesus the Eternal Son of God, Who became Man in order to take upon Himself our sin and blame, has met every claim of that violated Law and now mediates the New Covenant of free Grace, into the Blessing of which we have been brought.
Never must this be minimized in the heart and thinking of the Believer! Never must we make less of Who Christ is, and more particularly, What He did, and as an aside, it is
impossible to make more of this than we should. The crowning sin of the Church is, in not preaching as the foundation Gospel of all that we preach, “Jesus Christ and Him Crucified” (I Cor. 2:2). This must ever be the center of our thinking, the power of our preaching, the thrust of our argument, the very sinew and muscle of our Gospel. It is Jesus and Jesus Alone Who has redeemed us.
Preacher, preach Jesus, and when we say such a thing, we’re always saying, and without exception, preach Jesus and Him Crucified. Saint of God, worship Jesus, and in your worship of Him, always understand that you are worshiping Him not only because He is God, which He definitely is, but above all, because of the great Price that He has paid for our Redemption. Dear Saint, feel free, and even come boldly into the very Presence of God, the very Holy of Holies, but always remember, that you have this privilege, because of the great Price that He has paid.
The short phrase, “The Mediator,” presents the crowning excellence of the New Dispensation, in contradistinction from the Old.
The function of a Mediator is to intervene between two parties in order to promote relations between them which the parties themselves are not able to effect. The situation requiring the offices of a Mediator is often one of estrangement and alienation, and the Mediator effects reconciliation.
In the Old Testament, the Prophet and the Priest fulfilled most characteristically the office of Mediator in the institution which God established in terms of Covenant relations with His people. The Prophet was God’s spokesman; he acted for God in the presence of men (Deut. 18:18-22). The Priest acted on behalf of men in the Presence of God (Ex. 28:1; Lev. 9:7; 16:6; Num. 16:40; II Chron. 26:18; Heb. 5:1-4).
In the Old Testament, however, Moses, of all human instruments, was the Mediator par excellence (Ex. 32:30-32; Num. 12:6-8; Gal. 3:19; Heb. 3:2-5). He was the Mediator of the Old Covenant, because it was through his instrumentality that the Covenant at Sinai was dispensed and ratified (Ex. 19:3-8; 24:38; Acts 7:37-39). It is with Moses that Jesus
as Mediator of the New Covenant is compared and contrasted.
However, whatever might be said of the Prophets and Priests, or even Moses of the Old Testament, the designation “Mediator” belongs preeminently to Christ, and even those men who executed mediatory offices in the Old Testament institution were thus appointed only because the institution in which they performed these functions was the shadow of the archetypical realities fulfilled in Christ (Jn. 1:17; Heb. 7:27-28; 9:2324; 10:1). Jesus, even as we are here studying, is the Mediator of the New Covenant (Heb. 9:15; 12:24). And it is a Better Covenant (Heb. 8:6) because it brings to consummate fruition the Grace which Covenant administration actually embodies. Christ is the “One Mediator between God and men” (I Tim. 2:5). To invest any other with this prerogative is to assail the unique honor that belongs to Him, as well as to deny the express assertion of the Text.
Though the title “Mediator” is not often used, the Scripture abounds in references to the Mediatory Work of Christ.
As the eternal and pre-existent Son, He was Mediator in the creation of the Heavens and the Earth (Jn. 1:3, 10; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:2). This activity in the economy of creation is correlative with His Mediatorship in the economy of Redemption. The omnipotence evidenced in the former and the prerogatives that belong to Him as Creator are indispensable to the execution of Redemption. It is in Redemption, however, that the extensiveness of His mediation appears. All along the line of the redemptive process, from its inception to the consummation, His mediacy enters.
Election as one might say, which refers to the fact that God elected that humanity would be saved by the Sacrifice of Christ, is the ultimate fount of Salvation, and of course, could not take place apart from Christ. All were chosen in Him before the foundation of the world, which means, that the great plan of Salvation was formulated in the Mind of God, before man was ever created (Eph. 1:4; I Pet.
1:18-20). As well, all who will receive Him, are predestinated to be conformed to His Image (Rom. 8:29).
However, it must be ever understood, that Predestination is never centered up on the individual per se, but rather as to how one is saved, and then what is to happen to that person after they are saved. It is always the “Plan” which is predestinated, and not actually the person. The person, whether in Salvation or in Sanctification, must cooperate with the “Plan,” or else what is predestined cannot be brought to pass.
It is particularly in the once-for-all accomplishment of Salvation and Redemption however, that the mediation of Christ comes to the fore (Jn. 3:17; Acts 15:11; 20:28; Rom. 3:24-25; 5:10-11; 7:4; II Cor. 5:18; Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:20; I Jn. 4:9).
The accent falls upon the Death, Blood, and Cross of Christ as the action through which Redemption has been wrought. In the Scriptures the Death of Christ is always conceived of as an event in which Jesus is intensely active in obedience to the Father’s Commandment and in fulfillment of His Commission (Jn. 10:17-18; Phil. 2:8).
It is Jesus’ activity as Mediator in the shedding of His Blood that accords to His Death its saving efficacy (effectiveness). When Salvation wrought is viewed as Reconciliation and Propitiation, it is here that the mediatory function is most clearly illustrated. Reconciliation presupposes alienation between God and men and consists in the removal of that alienation. The result is Peace with God (Rom. 5:1; Eph. 2:12-17).
Propitiation is directed to the wrath of God, and Jesus, as the Propitiation, makes God propitious or rather reconciled to us (I Jn. 2:2).
Christ’s Mediation is not confined to His Finished Work of Redemption. His Mediatory activity is never suspended. In our participation of the fruits of Redemption, we are dependent upon His continued intervention as Mediator.
Our access to God and our introduction into the Grace of God are through Him; He conveys us into the Father’s Presence (Jn. 14:6; Rom. 5:2; Eph. 2:18). It is through him that Grace reigns through Righteousness to eternal life, and Grace and Peace are multiplied to the enjoyment of the fullness of Christ (Rom. 1:5; 5:21; II Cor. 1:5; Phil. 1:11).
The most characteristic exercises of devotion on the part of the Believer are offered through Christ. Thanksgiving and prayer are not only exercised in the Grace which Christ imparts, but also presented to God through Christ, which is a part of His Mediatorial Work (Jn. 14:14; Rom. 1:8; 7:25; Col. 3:17; Heb. 13:15).
The acceptableness of the Believer’s worship and service springs from the virtue and efficacy of Christ’s Mediation, and nothing is a spiritual sacrifice except as rendered through Him (I Pet. 2:5).
Even the pleas presented to others for the discharge of their obligations derive their most solemn sanction from the fact that they are urged through Christ and in His Name (Rom. 12:1;15:30; II Cor. 10:1).
The continued Mediation of Christ is specially exemplified in His Heavenly Ministry at the right hand of God. This Ministry concerns particularly His Priestly and Kingly offices. He is a Priest forever (Heb. 7:21, 24).
An important aspect of this Priestly Ministry in the Heavens is intercession directed to the Father and drawing within its scope every need of the people of God. Jesus is exalted in His human nature, and it is out of the reservoir of fellow feeling forged in the trials and temptations of His humiliation (Heb. 2:17-18; 4:15) that He meets every need of the Believer’s warfare. Every Grace bestowed flows through the channel of Christ’s intercession on our behalf (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25; I Jn. 2:1) until the Salvation which He has secured will reach its fruition in conformity to His Image.
The Priestly Ministry of Christ, however, must not be restricted to intercession. He is High Priest over the House of God (Heb. 3:16), and this administration involves many other functions as well. In His Kingly office
He is exalted above all principality and power (Eph. 1:20-23), and He will reign to the end of bringing all enemies into subjection (I Cor. 15:25). This is Christ’s Mediatorial dominion, and it embraces all authority in Heaven and in Earth (Mat. 28:18; Jn. 3:35; 5:26-27; Acts 2:36; Phil. 2:9-11).
It is Endtime events that will finally manifest and vindicate Christ’s Mediatorship; the Resurrection and Judgment will be wrought by Him. All the dead, just and unjust, will be raised by His summons (Jn. 5:28-29). It is in Him that the just will be raised to immortality and incorruption (I Cor. 15:22, 5254; I Thess. 4:16), and with Him we will be glorified (Jn. 11:25; Rom. 8:17; 14:9).
The final Judgment referred to as “The Great White Throne Judgment” will be executed by Him as well (Mat. 25:31-46; Jn. 5:27; Acts 17:31; Rev. 20:11-15).
Christ’s Mediatorship is thus exercised in all the phases of Redemption, from the election of the Plan in God’s eternal counsel to the consummation of the Plan as it regards Salvation. He is Mediator in humiliation and as well in exaltation. There is, therefore, multiformity attaching to His Mediatorial activity, and it cannot be defined in terms of one idea or function.
His Mediatorship has as many facets as His Person, Office, and Work. And as there is diversity in the Offices and tasks discharged and in the relations He sustains to men as Mediator, so there is also diversity in the relations He sustains to the Father and the Holy Spirit in the economy of Redemption.
The faith and worship of Him require that we recognize this diversity. And the unique glory that is His as Mediator demands that we accord to no other even the semblance of that prerogative that belongs to Him Alone as the One Mediator between God and man.
That’s the reason that to place something ahead of the Cross of Christ or to add something to the Cross of Christ, which impugns the Mediatorship of Christ, is at least one of the most awful sins that can be committed. In fact, this is one of Satan’s greatest efforts in the field of deception.
The Catholic Church is a great case in point, but by no means, the only one. This spirit pervades all of man’s proposed relationship with God.
As the Catholic Church makes Mary or even the Church itself the Mediator along with Christ, many Protestants do the same thing as it regards their own particular Churches or Denominations. The moment that anyone thinks that belonging to a particular Church or Denomination, affords one some type of spirituality, one has just sinned against the Mediatorship of Christ.
When one adds anything to the Blood of Christ, or to be more particular, Faith in that Shed Blood, as necessary in order for restoration and forgiveness to be enjoined, one has grossly sinned.
The Blood of Jesus Christ is the only answer for sin, and when penance is added to that Finished Work, we sin against the Mediatorship of Christ, and I would hope that the Reader can understand how gross such a sin actually is!
The phrase, “Of the New Covenant,” presents the first time the word “New” is applied to the Covenant in this fashion. In all other places in which we read of the New Covenant (Lk. 22:20; I Cor. 11:25; II Cor. 3:6; Heb. 8:8, 13; 9:15) a word is used which implies newness of kind and quality; here it is a Covenant which is newly made — literally “young,” having all the freshness of youth in comparison with that which long since was waxing old.
The next phrase presents that on which this Covenant, this “New Covenant” is based.
The phrase, “And to the Blood of sprinkling,” presents Christ as the Mediator of a New Covenant through the shedding of His Blood. This is “blood of sprinkling,” blood which cleanseth the conscience from dead works to serve a Living God. It was typified by the blood of the Covenant with which Moses sprinkled all the people (Ex. 24:4-8; Heb. 9:19).
“Sprinkling” in the Greek is “rhantismos,” and means “aspersion,” which refers to the act of scattering. The idea is this:
When the believing sinner accepts Christ, which means to accept what He did at the Cross on our behalf, this refers to the Sacrifice of Himself in the shedding of His Blood. The giving of His spotless, pure, unpolluted, perfect Blood, which contains and is the life of the human being, sufficed in the eyes of God as payment for all sin. The life of Christ was poured out in the shedding of His Blood, a sacrifice to God, which paid the total debt of mankind which was owed by man to God, and Faith in that by man, absolves him of all indebtedness. In other words, God declares the person at that moment and thereafter as “not guilty.” That’s the actual meaning of “Justification by Faith.”
Let us emphasize again, that all of this is done by Faith on the part of the individual, which means that the person believes in Christ and what He did at the Cross. That being done, all sin is cleansed, which in effect, says that the Blood has been sprinkled over and within the entirety of the individual, leaving nothing untouched (I Jn. 1:7). One might say that the Blood is scattered over the entirety of man’s being, thoroughly and completely cleansing him from all sin.
This and this alone, the shed Blood of Christ, and one’s Faith in that shed Blood is the only payment for sin that God will accept. Let the Reader survey those words very carefully, for they are extremely important.
To which we have already alluded, the great sin of the Church, is attempting to add something to that payment. In fact, this is the problem which attaches itself to all Christians. And what do we mean by that?
It is not only the Cross which brings about our Salvation, but as well, it is the Cross alone which brings about our Sanctification.
That’s the reason that we keep saying that the Believer should ever have the Cross of Christ as the object of his faith. There is nothing more important than this! And if the Reader doesn’t realize the seriousness of this statement, then the Reader doesn’t really understand what is being said.
The only way the Believer can walk free from sin, in other words, with sin not having
dominion over him in some way, which refers to the “works of the flesh,” is for the Believer to exhibit constant Faith in what Christ did at the Cross, which then insures the help of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:1-2, 11). However, it is so very easy for the Believer to inadvertently fall into the syndrome of “works.” We do it, not even really realizing that it is “works.” Perhaps it would be better said in the following manner:
It is impossible for the Believer not to fall into “works,” if the Believer doesn’t fully understand these things of which we say concerning a perpetual Faith in the Cross of Christ, which means that the Cross is the answer and solution for all problems. The Believer must know and understand as to how the Holy Spirit works within our lives, which is graphically portrayed to us in Romans Chapter 8. As someone has well said, Romans, Chapter 6 portrays to us the “mechanics of the Spirit,” which portrays “how” He works, as Romans, Chapter 8 portrays the “dynamics of the Spirit,” which portrays “what” He actually does within our hearts and lives. The tragedy is, most Christians know next to nothing about these things of which we have just stated; therefore, there is no place else to go but “works,” which guarantee spiritual defeat (Eph. 2:8-9).
I do not think I’m exaggerating when I say that the modern Church exhibits less Faith in the Cross of Christ than possibly at any time since the Reformation. And I say that with a broken heart, knowing the terrible results that always accrue from such direction.
When I began in the Ministry in the 1950’s, the blight of the Church in those days was “modernism.” This was the new theology, which pretty well denied about everything about the Word of God. To be sure, that problem still prevails in the Church, but has been surpassed of late by a bigger and more horrendous problem.
The Church World which makes up the part which doesn’t believe in the Baptism with the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking with other tongues, having rejected this light, there is very little left but an empty shell.
Regarding the other half of the Church World which proposes to believe in the Baptism with the Holy Spirit, regrettably, such belief is little more than in name only. Almost the entirety of the Church World, and we speak of both sides which we have just addressed, have for all practical purposes, adopted humanistic psychology as the answer to the ills and aberrations of man. This is a vote of “no confidence” as it regards the Cross of Christ, which the Bible claims as the only answer for this dilemma.
And then there are parts of the Charismatic Church World, mostly in the “Word of Faith” camp, which are openly repudiating the Cross, referring to it as “past miseries,” and “the greatest defeat in human history.” The greater tragedy is, millions of people who claim to be Spirit-filled are following this erroneous direction, which is little short of blasphemy, if not actually being blasphemy! As Paul said to the Church at Corinth concerning false teachers, “Ye suffer fools gladly” (II Cor. 11:19).
In that camp, faith is held up as the answer to man’s dilemma; however, the faith of which they speak, is not Faith in the great, Finished Work of Christ, but rather faith in other things. Actually in “self.” While it’s claimed to be “faith in the Word,” it is rather faith in a perverted Word. In other words, any faith which is claimed, and claimed to be in the Word of God, must be understood as being in the Cross of Christ, or else one is not properly interpreting the Word (Jn. 1:1, 14, 29).
The Message of the Cross is the only Message which God will recognize. God give us Preachers who will proclaim this Message and Christians who will believe this Message.
The phrase, “That speaketh better things than that of Abel,” refers to Abel’s animal sacrifice as recorded in Genesis Chapter 4.
In the original there is no reference to the blood of Abel shed by Cain, as some have supposed; but the allusion is to the Faith of Abel, or to the testimony which he bore to the great and vital truth of what his animal sacrifice represented, namely Christ. As should be obvious, the Shed Blood of Christ speaks much better things than the blood of the
animal sacrifice offered by Abel. One might say it this way: The Blood of Jesus is the “reality” of which the offering of Abel was only a “type.”
Abel proclaimed by the sacrifice which he offered, the great truth, that Salvation could be only by a bloody offering — but he did this only in a typical and obscure manner; Jesus proclaimed it in a more distinct and better manner by the reality.
The object here is to compare the Redeemer with Abel, not in the sense that the blood shed in either case calls for vengeance, but that Salvation by blood is more clearly revealed in the Christian Plan than in the ancient history; and hence illustrating, in accordance with the design of this Epistle, the superior excellency of that of Christ over all which has preceded it.
In fact, there were other points of resemblance between Abel and the Redeemer, but on them the Apostle does not insist. For instance, Abel was a martyr, and so was Christ; Abel was cruelly murdered, and so was Christ; there was aggravated guilt by the murder of Abel by his brother; and so there was in that of Jesus by His brethren — His Own countrymen; the blood of Abel called for vengeance, and was followed by a fearful penalty on Cain, and so was the death of the Redeemer on His murderers — for they said, “His Blood be on us and on our children,” and they are yet suffering under the fearful malediction then invoked; but the point of contrast here is, that the Blood of Jesus makes a more full, distinct, and clear proclamation of the Truth, that Salvation is by Blood, and more particularly, the Blood of Christ, than the offering made by Abel ever did.
Such is the contrast between the former and the latter Dispensation; and such the motives to perseverance presented by both.
In the former, and we refer to the Law, all was imperfect and alarming. In the latter, and we refer to Grace as made possible by the Cross, all is alluring and animating, with Heaven opened to the eye of faith.
Having stated and urged this argument, the Apostle, in the remainder of the Chapter, warns those whom he addresses in a most solemn manner against a renunciation of their Faith in Christ.
1. Beware that you refuse not Christ Who speaks from Heaven. 2. If the Jews of old did not escape who refused the Law, how can one now escape who refuses the One to Whom the Law pointed, namely Christ? 3. If a Believer ceases to believe in Christ, he then becomes an unbeliever, and will be eternally lost, that is, if remaining in that condition. IT IS CHRIST WHO SPEAKS
The phrase, “See that ye refuse not Him that speaketh,” refers implicitly to Christ.
The glory, the wonders, and the splendor of the Heaven from whence Christ speaks, add to the majesty of His Voice and makes certain the doom of all who turn away from it. To refuse Moses who spake on Earth was to perish; how much surer, therefore, the judgment of those who refuse Christ Who speaks from Heaven (Williams).
The idea is, do not turn away from Him Who has addressed you in the New Dispensation, and called you to obey and serve Him. The meaning is, that God had addressed them in the Gospel as really as He had done the Hebrews on Mt. Sinai, and that there was as much to be dreaded in disregarding His Voice now as there was then.
He does not now speak, indeed, amidst lightnings, and thunders, and clouds, so to speak, but He speaks by every message of Mercy; by every invitation; by every tender appeal. He speaks by His Son (Heb. 1:2); He speaks by the Holy Spirit, and by all His calls and warnings in the Gospel.
In a sense, Paul once again goes back to his words in Hebrews 3:7-8, where he said, “Wherefore, as the Holy Spirit saith, ‘today if you will hear His Voice, harden not your hearts. . .’.”
Several times in this Epistle Judaism and Christianity have been contrasted, and here
the contrast concerns the way God speaks. Some feel there is a contrast between Moses and Christ. This may be so, but the basic contrast is between the way God spoke of old and the way He now speaks. The idea is this:
Some Christian Jews may have even had the thought then, as even some Christians have presently, that inasmuch as this is the day of Grace, the Mercy of God will graciously cover whatever it is they might do. In other words, if they go back into Judaism, trusting in the old Levitical way, instead of the Way of the Cross, that the Mercy and Grace of God would make allowances; however, nothing could be further from the truth. Over and over again in this Epistle, the Apostle warns against such thinking, if in fact, such thinking existed.
There are millions presently who think the same thing. Inasmuch as Grace abounds to a much greater degree than sin, they, therefore, take sin lightly (Rom. 5:20).
Paul’s answer to that is cryptic and to the point:
“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
“God forbid. How shall we, who are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” (Rom. 6:1-2).
“See” in the Greek is “blepo,” and means “see to it.” It speaks of a continuous action. The idea is “ever keep a watchful eye open,” thus, “ever be seeing to it that you refuse not Him that speaketh.”
“Refuse” in the Greek is “paraiteomai,” and means “to deprecate, to prevent the consequences of an act by protesting against and disavowing it, to decline, refuse, avoid.”
“Him that speaketh” refers back to Jesus, the Mediator of the New Testament Whose Blood speaks of better things than the sacrificial blood which Abel shed regarding the sacrifice of his animal offering.
The Apostle is addressing himself here to the very heart of the Gospel, which speaks of the great Sacrifice of Christ, and the absolute necessity of Faith in that Sacrifice. We must not miss his point, or more particularly, the point of the Holy Spirit.
The phrase, “For if they escaped not who refused Him that spake on Earth,” refers to
God giving the Law on Mt. Sinai. The actual reading of the Text is:
“For if they escaped not when they refused on Earth Him Who warned.”
The terrors which accompanied the giving of the Law were designed to impress all hearts with the fearful peril of disobedience. In shrinking from the Voice of Him that warned them on that memorable day, the Hebrews were made to know that they could not escape the declaration of the Law or the terrible penalties which awaited all transgressors.
In fact, Israel of old “refused Him,” which means that in their manner of life they rejected what God said and failed to live up to what He commanded (Deut. 5:29), which brought about their destruction in the wilderness. It seems they forgot the terrible warning of Mt. Sinai, even as millions of Christians are forgetting the constant warnings given by the Holy Spirit presently!
The phrase, “Much more shall we not escape, if we turn away from Him that speaketh from Heaven,” speaks to both Believers and unbelievers.
The argument is similar to that of Hebrews 2:2-3, where the same word “escape” is found. He from Whom they turned aside on Earth is He Who now speaks to us; but then His Voice was heard amidst earthly terrors, now His Revelation comes through His Son Who is exalted in Heaven.
If we do not hearken to the word of life and promise that is ever coming to us from God through His Son, and more particularly, through the great Sacrifice of Himself, it will be because we deliberately “turn away,” for the excuse of the panic-stricken Israelites on that day at Sinai, cannot be ours.
The Voice that spoke that day on Earth fell on the outward ear, but He Who speaks from Heaven makes His Voice heard in the inner conscience; the first Voice may well claim not to be understood; however, the Voice which now speaks, will definitely find us out, and is neglected only through stubbornness or will. Much less, then, shall we escape if we turn away from Him Who presently warns from Heaven.
As we have previously stated, under the Old Covenant God spoke through Moses;
under the New Covenant, God speaks through His Son, which pertains to the Sacrificial Offering of Himself on the Cross, all on our behalf. In other words, the Holy Spirit speaks to us, by constantly pointing us to the Cross.
1. When God spoke at Sinai, the mountain literally shook. 2. What God now says through His Son, is of far greater import than the old Law. It shakes both Heaven and Earth. 3. What Christ did at the Cross and in His Resurrection, shook both Heaven and Earth. THE SHAKING OF THE EARTH
The phrase, “Whose Voice then shook the Earth,” as stated, refers to the Voice of God which spoke the Law on Sinai. His Voice then was of such magnitude, such power and authority, that the mountain literally trembled when He spoke. It was meant to impress upon Israel the solemnity of the moment, which it most definitely did.
The phrase, “But now He hath promised,” refers to what Paul will say as it regards the prophecy of Haggai, but as well, the entirety of the Promise from the very beginning, as it regards the Lord Jesus Christ. This Promise had the beginning of its fulfillment at the First Advent of Christ, and will have its total fulfillment at the Second Advent. But irrespective as to how it is approached, it is all in Christ, for He and exclusively, is the “Promise.”
And to take it a step farther, it is what He did, which refers to the Cross, which literally shook both Heaven and Earth. We must never allow our attention to be drawn away from the Sacrifice of Christ, which has made all things possible, and which fulfills all things.
The phrase, “Saying, yet once more I shake not the Earth only, but also Heaven,” is taken from Haggai 2:6. As stated, it refers to the First Advent of Christ, Whose Death
on the Cross, shook both Heaven and Earth. His Death, and because it atoned for all sin, broke the legal claim of Satan on humanity; therefore, every principality and power in the spirit world of evil, were totally and completely defeated. The Scripture says concerning these things, “He made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it” (Col. 2:14-15).
Consequently, the Voice which now speaks, of course retains its same power as it did on Mt. Sinai, but because of the Cross, now speaks Grace, which brings Salvation, Healing, Reconciliation, Eternal Life, prosperity, and Blessing of every description. In a sense, the “Voice” is the same; however, due to what Christ did in His Sacrificial Offering of Himself, all the righteous demands of the Law given that day at Sinai have now been satisfied. “The handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, have been taken out of the way, and nailed to His Cross” (Col. 2:14). One can only shout “Hallelujah!”
As well, that which Jesus did at the Cross, will ultimately bring forth “new Heavens and a new Earth, wherein dwelleth Righteousness” (II Pet. 3:13).
One can say, and without fear of contradiction I think, that it is the Cross which shook both Heaven and Earth, and in such a way, that the entirety of the world of evil has been totally and completely defeated, which will ultimately see the prevailing of total Righteousness. The deed has been done, and the work is even now being completed.
1. This “Word,” is the Word of the Cross. 2. That which Jesus did at Calvary will ultimately remove all things of the curse and those that are man made which need to be taken away. 3. Only that which is of God, and completely of God, will remain. THIS WORD
The phrase, “And this Word,” refers to the “Word of the Cross,” where Jesus atoned for
all sin, and opened up the way for believing man, to the very Throne of God.
I Corinthians 1:18 says, “For the preaching of the Cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the Power of God.”
The word “preaching” as here used by Paul, in the Greek is “logos”; consequently, it should not have been translated “preaching,” but rather, “Word” or “Message.” It would then read, “For the Word of the Cross. . . .”
The Cross is the dividing line, the intersection, the foundation, of all that God has done through Jesus Christ to redeem lost humanity. In fact, the Cross is the story of the Bible. It is the foundation of the Faith. From this foundation all doctrine must spring, or else it’s not correct Biblical Doctrine. This is “the Word” (Jn. 1:1, 14, 29).
The phrase, “Yet once more,” refers to what is going to be done with the Heavens and the Earth, all made possible by the Cross.
Paul said, “That in the dispensation of the fullness of times (that which is yet to come) He might gather together in one all things in Christ (made possible by what Christ did at the Cross), both which are in Heaven, and which are on Earth, even in Him” (Eph. 1:10).
This Passage tells us, that the Cross is of far great magnitude than most could ever begin to think. It addressed not only the terrible problem which faces man, the problem of sin, but it also addressed itself to the revolution of Satan against God, which took place long before man was ever created (Isa. 14; Ezek. Chpt. 28).
Whenever Paul uses the phrase “in Christ,” or one of its derivatives such as “in Him,” etc., without exception, he’s always speaking of what Christ did at the Cross. So, what Jesus there did, answered the entire problem of sin and rebellion, going all the way to its root, which is Satan himself, and his rebellion against God, which started the entirety of the process of evil to begin with.
All that Jesus did at the Cross, has not yet been brought to fruition; however, but to be sure, everything for which He there paid, and He paid it all, will be realized. That realization is portrayed in Revelation, Chapters 21 and 22.
The phrase, “Signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made,” refers to the act of God transferring to a new basis, this present universe which is under the curse of Adam’s sin, that new basis being a new and perfect universe.
This universe has been soiled by man’s sin and Satan’s rebellion against God. Every mark of that sin, which has brought about the curse, must be removed and in totality.
John speaks of this in the words “I saw a new Heaven and a new Earth: for the first Heaven and the first Earth were passed away” (Rev. 21:1). The universe was created by God, but it will be made to pass away, and to be substituted by a new universe which will exist forever. Thus, transitory, perishable things must pass away, in order that the eternal things may appear in their abiding value.
To be sure, this shaking has already begun, and actually began when Jesus was crucified. It will continue until all that man has gloried in will be broken to pieces, and he shall learn as Nebuchadnezzar of old that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men.
The phrase, “That those things which cannot be shaken may remain,” refers to all for which Jesus paid at the Cross. Even as the next Verse says, “It is a kingdom which cannot be moved.” Consequently, this phrase tells us the following:
It is only Faith in the Cross of Christ which will not be moved, because it cannot be moved. It is that “which cannot be shaken,” and in fact, the only thing that “will remain.” What Jesus did at the Cross is eternal; consequently, it is only the faith evidenced in the Cross which is also eternal.
1. Due to what Jesus did at the Cross, our Faith in that Finished Work, has placed us into the Kingdom of God. 2. It is a Kingdom which cannot be moved. 789
3. We receive admittance into this Kingdom by the Grace of God, which was made possible at the Cross. 4. Understanding what God has done to save us, which again refers to the Cross, we should serve Him with reverence and Godly fear. A KINGDOM
The phrase, “Wherefore we receiving a Kingdom,” refers to our entrance into this Kingdom, which was done by the Born-Again experience, and all made possible by the Cross of Christ.
The “Kingdom” is not a frequent subject in this Epistle (the word occurs in a quotation in Heb. 1:8 and in the plural in Heb. 11:33). This is in contrast to the synoptic Gospels, where the “Kingdom” is the most frequent subject in the teaching of Christ. However, the “Kingdom” which we presently have, is only in the spiritual sense. That which He refers to in these Verses pertain not only to that sense, but also to the material sense which is yet to come.
The phrase, “Which cannot be moved,” is in contrast to the earthly kingdoms created by man, which can be shaken and in due course will be shaken. Not so God’s Kingdom! Paul does not simply say that it will not be shaken, but that it cannot be shaken. It has a quality found in nothing earthly. This “kingdom” is founded on the “Everlasting Covenant,” which of course refers to what Christ did at the Cross (Heb. 13:20).
I have repeatedly stated in this Volume, that the Cross of Christ which has always been the dividing line between the True Church and the Apostate Church (Gen. Chpt. 4), is now going to be made such by the Holy Spirit in an unmistakable fashion. In other words, the Cross of Christ and its great Message, is going to be so prominently proclaimed, that one will have to either accept it or reject it. According to that statement, it should be obvious as to what remains is the True Church or the Apostate Church. Faith in what Jesus did at the Cross on our behalf, will alone provide a foundation “which cannot be moved.” Everything else will be shaken and thereby moved.
The phrase, “Let us have grace,” refers to the product of the Cross.
It should be noticed, that Kingdom is something we “receive.” It is not earned or created by Believers; it is God’s gift.
Grace is simply the goodness of God extended to undeserving Believers. It is made possible, as stated, by the Cross of Christ, and man’s Faith in that Finished Work.
The idea of this phrase as Paul uses it, is that these Christian Jews must not go back to the Levitical offerings of “works,” but rather must trust in the Grace of God.
The phrase, “Whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and Godly fear,” in essence, exhorts all to appropriate the enabling Grace of God (Heb. 4:16; 12:15) so that they may serve God so as to be well-pleasing (acceptable) in His sight (Wuest).
“Reverence” in the Greek is “eulabeia,” which means “caution, circumspection, discretion.”
“Godly fear” is from the Greek “deos,” which means “the apprehension of danger.” It is not the word “phobos” normally used for fear, which speaks of the terror which seizes one when danger appears. Consequently, “deos” speaks, not of a slavish, cringing apprehension, but of a wholesome regard for a Holy God and His standards and requirements, which if a person violates, he must suffer the consequences.
Let not the Reader think, that just because we live in the day of Grace, that God has suspended all judgment. In fact, the very opposite is true:
The Grace of God makes the Lord much more available to all of humanity; therefore, He requires much more of humanity. The Scripture plainly says, “And the times of this ignorance (Old Testament Times) God winked at (due to the fact that there was little knowledge of God); but now (this Day of Grace) commandeth all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30). The idea is, “for unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required” (Lk. 12:48).
This Passage is not merely, as people often say, that God out of Christ is a consuming fire, or that He is a consuming fire to the unsaved alone, but it is His very nature that is here in view.
Consuming fire is holiness manifested in Judgment, and God, Who is Light and Love, must consume everything that is contrary to His Holy Will. For the Believer, of course, this will mean eventually absolute conformity to Christ, when the last vestige of the flesh has been destroyed. This is the work of the Spirit, and is meant to be taking place constantly in the heart and life of each Believer. Consequently, we are to walk in Grace, seeking to serve in newness of spirit (by the Power of the Holy Spirit) and not in the oldness of the letter (Law and works).
This is an expression apparently taken from Deuteronomy 4:24. To put it bluntly, Paul emphasizes that God is not to be trifled with. It is easy to be so taken up with the love and compassion of God that we overlook His implacable opposition to all evil.
Admittedly, the Wrath of God is not a popular subject today, but it looms large in Biblical teaching. Paul is stressing the fact that his Readers overlook this wrath at their peril.
The idea is, God has gone to extraordinary lengths to save lost humanity, which refers to the Cross of Christ. If we ignore that terrible price paid, a price incidentally paid by God, and paid not with such corruptible things as silver and gold, but by the Precious Blood of Jesus (I Pet. 1:18-20), the judgment will be commiserate with the quality of the price that was paid. This must not be forgotten!
In fact, Jesus plainly said that the “Holy Spirit will reprove (convict) the world of sin, and of Righteousness, and of judgment:
“Of sin, because they believe not on Me;
“Of Righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more;
“Of Judgment, because the prince of this world is judged” (Jn. 16:8-11).
The word “judgment” as it is here used by Christ, plainly tells us that Satan has already been judged, and all who follow him will be judged likewise. That judgment will be on the basis of men “not believing in Christ,” which means that they did not believe Him as it regards Who He was and is, and What
He did as it regards the Salvation of lost humanity by going to the Cross. The Cross rejected, is judgment deserved!
“If you from sin are longing to be free, look to the Lamb of God; “He, to redeem you, died on Calvary, look to the Lamb of God.”
“When Satan tempts, and doubts and fears assail, look to the Lamb of God; “You in His strength shall over all prevail, look to the Lamb of God.”
“Are you weary, does the way seem long? Look to the Lamb of God; “His love will cheer and fill your heart with song, look to the Lamb of God.”
“Fear not when shadows on your pathway fall, look to the Lamb of God; “In joy or sorrow Christ is all in all, look to the Lamb of God.”

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