Consider Jesus

Thursday, November 06, 2014, 12:58 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song, “As the Deer.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Hebrews 3 (ESV).

Christ is Faithful

Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, who was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in all God's house. For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses—as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself. (For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.) Now Moses was faithful in all God's house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, but Christ is faithful over God's house as a son. And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.

We learn in the first two chapters of Hebrews that Jesus Christ is God, and is called God by God the Father. God the Father created the universe through his Son Jesus Christ, so Jesus is our creator. He was with God in the beginning (See: John 1). Jesus Christ is completely sovereign over all things, and he sustains all things by his powerful word. Everything is subject to him.

The heavens and the earth which God/Jesus created will one day be folded up like a garment, not to be used any more as they had been. They will perish, but God/Jesus will always remain. They will one day change, but God/Jesus will always remain the same. One day God will make Jesus’ enemies (the enemies of the cross of Christ) a footstool at his feet. His enemies are truly all who reject him as Savior and Lord. They are liars, deceivers, adulterers, gossips, murderers, thieves, slanderers, and idolaters and the like. They are all those who never truly trusted in Christ to save them from their sins.

In the past God spoke to us through the prophets, but he now speaks to us through his Son. When we humble ourselves before God in repentance and faith, and we die with Christ to our old lives of sin so that we can live and walk with him in his righteousness and holiness, he indwells us with his Holy Spirit who then teaches us all things. We then, as followers of Christ, become his body and his representatives, so he also speaks through us, his servants.

Because Jesus Christ died on the cross so that we could be set free from slavery to sin, and because he shared in our humanity so that he could become our faithful and merciful high priest, and because he suffered and was tempted as we are, and thus is able to help us when we are weak and when we are tempted, we should fix (secure, position, fasten) our thoughts on him, i.e. we should consider him in our thoughts carefully, closely, decisively and attentively. We do this by taking him and his word seriously, by daily listening to his voice speaking his words to our hearts, by obeying what he teaches us, and by following him wherever he leads us.

Jesus Christ is the head of the church, his body, God’s house. We are his house IF we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast. True faith is continuous. Shallow faith, because it never took root, gives up and deserts when things get tough, and they will. God’s grace teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, godly and upright lives. True faith dies with Christ to our old lives of living for sin and self, and is resurrected to new life in Christ to be lived in his righteousness and holiness.

Do Not Harden

Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says,

“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,
on the day of testing in the wilderness,
where your fathers put me to the test
and saw my works for forty years.
Therefore I was provoked with that generation,
and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart;
they have not known my ways.’
As I swore in my wrath,
‘They shall not enter my rest.’”

Many church leaders today are teaching a shallow faith as true faith, and they ignore all the scriptures which teach to the contrary. Yet, so many scriptures define genuine faith as continuous, enduring, firm, steadfast, persevering and that which remains in us to the end (See: John 8:31-32; Romans 11:17-24; I Co 15:2; Col 1:21-23; II Tim 2:10-13; Hebrews 3:6, 14-15; 2 Pet. 1:5-11; I John 2:24-25; and Rev. 2-3).

So many are teaching a watered-down gospel which teaches people to pray a prayer to receive Christ, and then promises them they are saved and that they are going to heaven and that nothing can ever take that away from them. The danger in this is that we don’t know if those people truly believed or not, so we can’t guarantee heaven for them. Also, the guarantee of heaven is made on the belief that the individuals prayed a prayer to receive Christ, but the full gospel message was never given, and thus they did not know that faith in Christ means death to our old lives of sin and it means now walking in Christ’s righteousness and holiness in the power of the Spirit living within us. So many people, thus, are counting on heaven based upon a prayer they prayed, but their lives were never really Holy Spirit transformed. They were given a false hope, and they are still lost for eternity.

Take Care

Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. As it is said,

“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”

For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses? And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.

This first sentence here sounds like an oxymoron, i.e. an expression with contradictory words. First he calls them brothers, indicating he recognizes them as true followers of the faith. Yet, he then warns them to take care lest in any of them is an evil, unbelieving heart, which leads them to fall away from the living God. Evidently there were false brothers (and sisters) among them, and there were those whose faith was shallow and never took root, so their hearts never changed, and thus they were still unbelievers. So, he warns them as a whole to take care, and to examine their hearts to make sure they are truly in the faith.

Then, he urges them to encourage one another daily so that none of them might be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. I can’t help but think here of Jesus’ parable of the sower. The seed was sown on four types of soil (heart response). The second one immediately received the word with joy, but his or her faith was shallow and never took root, so when persecution arose, he or she deserted, never to return.

Many people today think they are saved because of some decision they made one day at an altar, and maybe initially they received the message of the gospel with joy, but the “faith” did not last, and they went back to living just like they did before they made a profession of Christ. It says here, though, that we have come to share in Christ IF we hold firmly to the end the confidence in Christ we had at first.

Again we are warned to not harden our hearts, and we are reminded of those who heard and rebelled during the time of Moses. Who were they? They were the chosen of God. They were those he led out of slavery, and who were on their way to the promised land.

We, who have been given the gospel, and for whom Christ died on the cross for our sins, and who have truly believed, have also been set free from slavery to sin, and we are on our way to heaven - our promised land. Yet, there are those among us whose commitments to Christ are surface only, and profession only, but their faith is shallow faith and still they have unbelieving hearts. They may go through the motions, but they don’t really know Christ. So, today we are being encouraged here, I believe, to examine our hearts to see if we are truly in the faith. Are we relying upon some decision we made a long time ago, but we know we never truly died with Christ to our old lives of sin and so we also know we are not walking in his holiness and purity? If so, we need to make sure today that we have truly died with Christ to our sin and that we are walking in faith by the Spirit and in Christ’s righteousness and holiness. Time is running out. Make sure your faith is genuine today!

As the Deer / Martin J. Nystrom
Based off Psalm 42:1

As the deer panteth for the water
So my soul longeth after You
You alone are my heart's desire
And I long to worship You

You alone are my strength, my shield
To You alone may my spirit yield
You alone are my heart's desire
And I long to worship You…