Hebrews: Fate or Freedom? John Oakes, June, 2008
Outline: • Overview of Hebrews • The history and the doctrine of predestination. • Hebrews and the preservation of the saints • IV. How to stay faithful and to grow in Christ to • the very end.
Introduction • Audience: Christians in general, but especially those who are of Jewish descent • Second generation disciples who are tempted to lose heart in light of coming persecutions. • Remember those earlier days… Hebrews 10:32 • Date of writing: AD 60-70, probably closer to AD 70.
Roman Emperor Nero AD 54-68 Christian Persecutions AD 64 Roman Emperor Titus AD 79-81 Destroyed Jerusalem AD 70
By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear. Hebrews 8:13
Purpose: To give heart to Christians who have endured but are being tempted to waver in their faith. • Warnings against “falling away.” • Theme: The preeminence of Jesus Christ!!! • His deity • The greatness of his ministry • The greatness of his sacrifice • The greatness of his covenant
The Greatness of Jesus I Jesus is greater than all the prophets Heb 1:1-3 II Jesus is greater than the angels Heb 1:4-14 III Jesus is greater than Moses Heb 3:1-6 IV Jesus the great High Priest Heb 4:14-5:10 V The Priesthood of Melchizedek is superior to the Priesthood of Aaron Heb 7:1-3, 7:11-28 VI Jesus is greater than Abraham Heb 7:4-10 VII The New Covenant (in and through Jesus) is superior to the Old Covenant (through Moses) Heb 8:1-13 VIII The heavenly Tabernacle is greater than the earthly Tabernacle. Heb 9:1-10 IX The sacrifice of Jesus is of far greater worth than the OT sacrifices Heb 9:11-10:18
Exhortations in Hebrews • Exhortation #1 Pay attention Heb 2:1-18 • Exhortation #2 Do not turn back. Persevere Heb 3:6-4:13 • Exhortation #3 Grow up. Become mature Heb 5:11-6:20 • Exhortation #4 Summary exhortation. Living by faith. Not making this world our home. Hebrews 10:19-12:29
Question: Do you believe in Predestination?
History of the Doctrine of Predestination • Augustine of Hippo AD 354-430 “The City of God” • Martin Luther (1483-1546): an Augustinian monk. • Ulrich Zwingli (1484-1531) Reformed Churches. • John Calvin (1509-1564) “Institutes of the Christian Religion” • A profound belief in the sovereignty of God • Double Predestination and TULIP
TULIP • Total depravity • Unconditional election • Limited atonement • Irresistable grace • Perseverence of the saint (once saved, always saved)
Q: Scriptures which appear to support the doctrine of predestination? • Is a believer in this false doctrine lost? • Q: Scriptures which prove free will and refute predestination?
Hebrews and Falling Away • They shall never enter my rest 3:11, 4:5 • We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly to the end the confidence we had at first. 3:14 • They were not able to enter because of their unbelief 3:19 • Be careful not to be found to have fallen short of it. 4:1 • Some… did not go in because of their obedience 4:6 • Let us make every effort to enter that rest so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience 4:11 • Do you get the point?
OLD TESTAMENT TYPE NEW TESTAMENT ANTITYPE SLAVERY IN EGYPT LOST, SLAVE TO SIN WANDERING IN THE WILDERNESS SAVED, BUT LIVING THE LIFE OF A DISCIPLE ENTERING THE PROMISED LAND ENTERING HEAVEN Historical type/antitype in the Exodus
Hebrews 6:4-6 Who is he talking to? • a. been enlightened (NT church “enlightened” = baptized) • b. tasted the heavenly gift (salvation?) • c. shared in the Holy Spirit • d. tasted the goodness of the word • e. tasted the coming age (saved) • Yes, you can fall away! Conclusion: You had better move on toward maturity in Christ.
Hebrews 6:4-8 • It is impossible… if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance. • They are crucifying the Son of God all over again. • Land that produces thorns… will be burned.
Falling Away Hebrews 10:26-31 • Crucifying the Son of God all over again. • Subjecting Jesus to public disgrace • Trampling the Son of God under foot. (Heb 10:29) • Insulted the Holy Spirit (Heb 10:29) • Blasphemed (spoken against) the Holy Spirit (Matt 12:32) • Committed the unforgivable sin (1 John 5:16 ) • What is the “unforgivable sin?” To willfully, deliberately continue in sin. (Hebrews 10:26) • Also; Hebrews 12:14-17, 12:25 you will not escape… if you turn away…
God’s Assurance: Hebrews 6:9-20 Two unchangeable things: God’s Word God’s Oath (Genesis 22:16-18) Jesus, your anchor, is behind the veil with the Father
God’s Assurance: Hebrews 10:19-23 We have confidenceto enter the Most Holy Place Let us draw near to God… in full assurance of faith. For he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:35-36 Do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded…. You will receive what he has promised.
Practicals: How can we be assured of making it into that Sabbath rest with God?
2:1-18 Exhortation #1 Pay careful attention! • “pay attention” = prosechein = to fix, moor a ship. • “drift away” = pararrein = to slip away, as with the tides, by careless inattention. • violation = parabasis = outright rebellion • disobedience = parakoe = careless hearing or unwillingness to hear • LISTEN UP!!!
Exhortation #2 • Do not harden your hearts. (Hebrews 3:8) • Do not turn away. (Hebrews 3:12) • Do not let your bodies fall in the desert. (Hebrews 3:17) • Do not fall short. (Hebrews 4:1) • Make every effort to enter (do not rest). (Hebrews 4:11) • Don’t fall asleep at the switch. It takes work and attention.
Exhortation #3 • Grow up! • Move on to maturity. • Mature in life and docrine (1 Timothy 4:16) • Do not be nothros (slow-moving in mind, torpid, witlessly forgetful, dull of hearing) • Are you on a diet of milk? • Read a book of theology, Read a commentary, Take a class • Let your Bible study time and your life with God be an adventure…. Part of a never ending story.
Exhortation #4: Salad time! • 10:22 Let us draw near [to God] • 10:23 Let us hold to our confession of hope without wavering • 10:24 Let us be concerned about one another and encourage one another toward love and good deeds • 10:25 Let us not stop meeting together. • 10:25 Let us encourage one another.
Hebrews 11 Heroes of the FaithThe key to perseverence is faith • Hebrews 11:1, 11:6 Definition of faith • Heb 11:1 Faith is being certain of what we do not see. It requires that we deny our senses.
Why were these men and women commended by God? • They refused what the world calls greatness and staked everything on God. • They chose what is unseen rather than what is seen. Lesson: In many ways, our worst enemy is success and prosperity. What the world seeks is what will destroy everything that is important. Example: Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego Daniel chapter 3
Those of whom the world was not worthy • Hebrews 11:13 Still living by faith (not by sight) when they died. • xenoi foriegners, aliens, strangers, refugees in this world. • parepidemos sojourners, temporary residents, green card holders, people who do not put down roots. • Lived by faith despite never seeing the promise fulfilled. • Therefore, God is not ashamed to call them his.
Hebrews Ch. 12 If They Can DoIt, So Can We • Throw off whatever hinders you in the race. • What are you unwilling to throw off? • Keep your eyes on the goal: in heaven with Jesus. • Look at Jesus (and the cloud of faithful witnesses in ch. 11) • The pioneer, trail blazer, archegos. • The perfector, completer, race-finisher, teleios. • Accept hardship as discipline from a loving father/God.
Attitudes Toward Discipline are Important • Accept it with resignation. • Accept it and get it over with as soon as possible. • Accept it with a “woe is me” attitude. • Accept it but think of it as punishment. • Accept it as it is; discipline given reluctantly by a loving Father who cares about you.
Summary • Predestination, understood correctly, is biblical, but so is free will. • One thing for sure: Hebrews warns against “falling away.” The purpose of the book is to prevent this happening! • In order to prove faithful to the end and to make it to heaven two things are required: • Know and understand how unimaginable fantastic Jesus is. • Mature in your faith, with the emphasis being on your faith. • Listen to God! • Grow up! • Believe in things unseen