The Third in a Series of Sermons on the Book of Hebrews
Although we do not know which church received the letter we now know as the Epistle to the Hebrews, we do know that a number of people in that church had renounced their profession of faith in Jesus Christ and returned to Judaism (the religion in which they had been raised). Apostasy among professing Christians was a real issue facing this church, and the subject raises a number of important questions which the author of Hebrews must address. Can a Christian lose their salvation? What is the status of those who make a profession of faith, are baptized, but then fall away? Having established in the opening chapter that Jesus Christ is the creator and sustainer of all things, the author now exhorts his readers to consider the greatness of that salvation which Jesus has earned for us through his death and resurrection, before Jesus ascended on high, and took his place at God’s right hand. It is a serious thing to neglect so great a salvation!
As we continue our series on the Book of Hebrews, so far we have discussed the problems surrounding the authorship, destination, and date of the writing of this epistle, and we have covered the author’s principle argument in opening chapter for the superiority of Jesus Christ to Moses, to Israel’s priesthood, and to the angels. Since it is likely that most of the members of the church receiving this letter were Hellenistic Jews (Greek in culture, Hebrew in theology) who had recently become Christians, as such, they fully accepted the LXX as the word of God. So, in order to respond to the questions raised by those who had made professions of faith in Jesus Christ and were baptized, but then renounced both, the author cites seven passages from the Old Testament (predominantly from the Psalms) which prove that Jesus is the son of God, and possesses a glory equal to that of the Father.
An undue interest in angels (and even the worship of angels) was a problem in Hellenistic Judaism, and there are hints throughout the New Testament that this was an issue in some of the first Christian churches (Galatians 1, Hebrews 13, Colossians 2). While acknowledging that angels are God’s messengers, and that they have played a significant role in redemptive history, the author of Hebrews turns to the Old Testament to prove that angels are Christ’s servants, and therefore inferior to the eternal Son of God. From the pages of the Old Testament, the author demonstrates that Jesus is the creator of all things. And having created all things, Jesus holds them together, directing them to fulfill their appointed ends. Jesus is worshiped by the angels, Jesus gives these invisible creatures orders and directives, and Jesus alone sits as God’s right hand. The author has already made a very impressive case for the deity of Jesus Christ.
As we move into Hebrews chapter two, the author issues his first admonition to this congregation in verses 1-4. Although angels played a role in Old Testament revelation, given the superiority of Jesus Christ, it is vital that Christians not neglect due consideration of all that Jesus has done for them to save them from the guilt and power of sin. Then, in verses 5-9, the author reminds believers of Jesus’ humiliation and exaltation, and how both were necessary for Jesus to secure our salvation.
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