Sermons by Dr. Gregory C. Magruder

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RADIATE JESUS: Once for All

Gregory C. Magruder  Parkview Baptist Church, Gainesville, FL 06/12/16
 
Once for All
Hebrews 10:1-18
 
INTRODUCTION: Something better is coming. In fact, it has already begun through the finished work of Jesus Christ. “The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves,” Hebrews 10:1 tells us. The endless repetition of animal sacrifices “can never…make perfect those who draw near to worship” (10:1). Animal sacrifices cannot ease a guilty conscience. They only remind a person of his or her sins (10:2-3). “It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (10:4). The old system was inadequate, external, temporal, repetitive, and ineffective. It only pointed to a new and better way. Jesus Christ became the perfect offering for our sins. We are saved once for all through the Triune God’s plan of salvation. We have a new covenant with God through the shed blood of Jesus Christ.
 
THE FATHER CONCEIVED THE PLAN OF SALVATION.
 
*God’s will was that he would send his Son into the world to become the sacrifice for sin. Animal sacrifices anticipated what God would do for us. God became a human being like us and took our sins upon himself so that we could be truly free from guilt and sin. “Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—I have come to do your will, my God’”(10:5-7).
 
*God provided a way to establish an eternal relationship with him. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
 
THE SON COMPLETED THE PLAN OF SALVATION.
 
*Obedience is the cure for sin. God doesn’t want outward sacrifices only obedient hearts. Jesus perfectly kept the law and obeyed God.
He willingly went to the Cross as our substitute. He took the
punishment for our sins and made us holy in the presence of God. First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them”—though they were offered in accordance with the law. Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all (10:8-10).
 
*There is no more need for sacrifice. Jesus our High Priest has satisfied all of God’s demands. His work is finished. He now represents us at the right hand of God. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool (10:12-13).
 
*We are made perfect in the sight of God by the sacrifice of Christ. We have been saved, we are being saved, and we will be saved forever through the completed work of Christ. For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy (10:14).
 
THE SPIRIT CONTINUES THE PLAN OF SALVATION.
 
*We are not alone in the process of sanctification (being made holy). The Holy Spirit lives inside all who place their faith and trust in Jesus. Jesus sent us the Holy Spirit as the “one called alongside to help” (John 14:16-17). The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says: “This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds” (10:15-16).
 
*The Holy Spirit reminds us that we are completely forgiven and gives us the power to obey God’s commands freely and willingly. Then he adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary (10:17-18).
 
The Father, Son and Holy Spirit provide all that is needed to be made right with God. Have you accepted the free gift of salvation?

RADIATE JESUS: Why Blood?

Gregory C. Magruder  Parkview Baptist Church, Gainesville, FL 06/05/16
 
Why Blood?
Hebrews 9
 
INTRODUCTION: The gift of blood is the gift of life. There is no substitute for human blood. It is estimated 4.8 million Americans would die each year without life saving blood transfusions. Blood has always been associated with life. Ancient peoples from many cultures sacrificed animals and even humans as an offering to appease their gods. Where did this tradition come from? The Bible tells us that after Adam and Eve sinned God killed an innocent animal and shed its blood so the couple could have clothes to cover their nakedness (Gen. 3). Later God accepted the offering of a slain firstborn lamb from Abel’s flocks (Gen. 4). From these small beginnings a whole system of sacrifice developed to make peace with God and find forgiveness for sin. God said: “For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life” (Leviticus 17:11). Now the blood of Jesus Christ covers our sins and makes us right with God.
 
THE OLD SYSTEM OF CEREMONY WAS LIMITED AND INEFFECTIVE IN DEALING WITH SIN.
 
*The tabernacle represented God’s presence (1-5). The articles were symbols of God’s interaction with his people. The veil separated sinful people from a Holy God. The tabernacle was temporary and earthly.
 
*Sin separates from God. Sin must be punished and covered. “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). The sacrifice of one living creature for another provides redemption and forgiveness (9:7). One life is given for another so the other can go free. The blood of animals was only temporary however and could not “clear the conscience of the worshiper” (Hebrews 9:6-10).
 
*The blood of animals only outwardly sanctified the unclean (9:13). A will only takes effect when someone has died. Likewise, the first covenant with God took effect when Moses killed calves and sprinkled the blood on the scroll, the people, and the tabernacle and its utensils (9:18-22). “In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (9:22).
 
*The Old Covenant had an earthly tabernacle, sinful priests, outward ceremonies, the blood of animals, and temporary effectiveness. External regulations cannot provide internal transformation.
 
THE NEW ORDER IN CHRIST IS ETERNAL AND EFFECTIVE IN DEALING WITH SIN.
 
*Jesus entered Heaven’s perfect eternal tabernacle. We have a better sanctuary (9:11).
 
*Jesus offered himself as the perfect sacrifice for sins. We have a better sin offering. Jesus “entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption” (9:12)
 
*Jesus’ blood covers our sins and gives us a clear conscience so we can serve the living God. Jesus provides an effective inner and spiritual transformation.  “How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!” (9:14).
 
*The New Covenant is ratified by Jesus’ death so we are free from sin and gain the eternal inheritance (9:15-17). “For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance” (9:15).
 
*Jesus is our High Priest in Heaven and represents us before God. He once for all shed his blood so that we can have forgiveness of sins and eternal life. We have freedom from judgment and hope for the future (9:23-28). “But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many” (9:26-28).
 
*The perfect sacrifice and ministry of Jesus transforms us inwardly and spiritually forever. Now the blood of Jesus Christ covers our sins and makes us right with God.

RADIATE JESUS: A New Deal

Gregory C. Magruder  Parkview Baptist Church, Gainesville, FL 05/29/16
 
A New Deal
Hebrews 8
 
INTRODUCTION: Jesus provides a better way to God. In fact the word “better” occurs more times in the Book of Hebrews than in any other New Testament book. The author has shown that Christianity is a better way in legacy, priesthood and High Priest. God has made a new deal with humanity through his Son Jesus Christ.
 
JESUS CHRIST REIGNS AS KING AND PRIEST.
 
*Jesus has a heavenly kingdom and a heavenly priesthood. “Now the main point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by a mere human being” (8:1-2).
 
*Therefore, Jesus has a superior ministry and negotiates a superior contract with God. “But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises” (8:6).
 
JESUS CHRIST GIVES US A NEW COVENANT WITH GOD.
 
*Israel failed to keep the old covenant. God required a new covenant as promised in Jeremiah 31:31-34. “For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. But God found fault with the people and said: ‘The days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah’” (8:7-8).
 
*God gives four promises to us in the New Covenant:
 
  • The Law of God will be internal and spiritual. “This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts” (8:10).
 
  • God will have a new personal and effective relationship with his people. “I will be their God, and they will be my people” (8:10).
  • All God’s people will become priests. “No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they
       will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest” (8:11).
 
  • God will give complete pardon and forgiveness for sins. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more” (8:12).
 
*Israel failed to complete her mission and God turned her task over to a new people, followers of Jesus. The Covenant mission we have is the same mission God gave to Israel. By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear (8:13).
 
 * We must not fail to fulfill our legacy. “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” (1 Peter 2:9-10).
 
*What is our mission? Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20).
 
 

RADIATE JESUS: Mystery Man

Mystery Man
Hebrews 7
 
INTRODUCTION: Christians claimed that the old system of laws and sacrifices did not provide complete access to God or full forgiveness. The question arose as to why Christians had a better way if they did not follow the Mosaic law and ceremony. Hebrews points to a mysterious man in the Old Testament as the basis of a better way for Christians. The mystery man Melchizedek was the archetype of our High Priest Jesus. Jesus provides a better way to God. In fact the word “better” occurs more times in the Book of Hebrews than in any other New Testament book. Christianity is a better way in legacy, priesthood and High Priest.
 
WE HAVE A BETTER LEGACY (7:1-10).
 
*God’s original priesthood came through Melchizedek. According to Psalm 110:1-4, the Messiah would be a King and a Priest in the line of Melchizedek not the line of Aaron. The Lord says to my lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”…The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”
 
*The history is based on the story in Genesis 14: This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him, and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything (1-2).
 
*Who was this mystery man? First, the name Melchizedek means “king of righteousness”; then also, “king of Salem” means “king of peace.” Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, resembling the Son of God, he remains a priest forever (2-3).
 
*Jesus carries on the heritage of Melchizedek’s priesthood. Melchizedek has a better legacy than the line of Levi. Therefore Jesus has a better priesthood.
  • Melchizedek was a king of righteousness and peace like Jesus is.
  • Melchizedek has a permanent priesthood that lasts forever like Jesus.
  • Melchizedek is greater than Abraham because Abraham and Levi gave Melchizedek tithes (4-10).
  • Melchizedek even blessed Abraham. [He] collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. And without doubt the lesser is blessed by the greater (6-7).
 
WE HAVE A BETTER PRIESTHOOD (7:11-19).
 
*The old priesthood and the Law of Moses did not achieve God’s purposes. A new order needed to come on the scene that provided a complete relationship with God. If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood—and indeed the law given to the people established that priesthood—why was there still need for another priest to come, one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron? For when the priesthood is changed, the law must be changed also (11-12).
 
*God established a new order that is better than the old Levitical order:
  • God created the new order from the tribe of Judah not Levi. He of whom these things are said belonged to a different tribe, and no one from that tribe has ever served at the altar. For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests (13-14).
  • We have a heavenly priesthood that lasts forever not an earthly priesthood that is limited. And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears, one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life. For it is declared: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek” (15-17).
  • The new priesthood enables us to draw near to God with confidence.
The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God (18-19).
 
WE HAVE A BETTER HIGH PRIEST (7:18-28).
 
*Jesus was sworn in as priest by an oath and other priests were not. Therefore, Jesus guarantees a better covenant than the old covenant. And it was not without an oath! Others became priests without any oath, but he became a priest with an oath when God said to him: “The Lord has sworn    and will not change his mind: ‘You are a priest forever’” Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantor of a better covenant (20-22).
 
*Jesus lives forever, saves us and intercedes for us constantly before God. [But] because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them (24-25).
 
*Jesus is sinless and eternal and sacrificed his life for us once for all. Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens...He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself (26-27).

RADIATE JESUS: A Hope and a Promise

Gregory C. Magruder  Parkview Baptist Church, Gainesville, FL 05/15/16
 
A Hope and a Promise
Hebrews 6:13-20
 
INTRODUCTION: God expects us to mature in our spiritual walk. He does not leave us alone in that process. He gives us his presence, his power and his promise. We can have hope because he has given us his word that he will keep us secure and moving forward through every trial. Abraham is our example of God’s faithfulness and Jesus is our anchor in God’s presence. Therefore, we can stand on God’s promises and have hope for the future. We can fulfill God’s mission of redemption.
 
WE HAVE A PROMISE THAT DOES NOT LIE.
 
*God gives promises based on his own character and divinity. “When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, saying, “I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.” And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised” (6:13-15).
 
*God confirms the promise with an oath. “People swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath” (6:16-17).
 
*God always keeps his promises. He cannot lie and is unchangeable and that gives us confidence. “God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged” (6:18).
 
*A promise requires patience. Abraham waited 25 years for the promise of a son to be fulfilled. He looked forward to the day when all nations would be blessed through him. “And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised” (6:15).
 
We can always trust God to keep his promises and fulfill his purposes.
 
WE HAVE A HOPE THAT SECURES LIKE AN ANCHOR.
 
*Hope encourages patience. We have a future hope and a present anchor in Jesus. “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure” (6:19).
*Jesus is our forerunner. He has paved the way for us to enter into God’s presence through his death and resurrection. He became the sacrifice that took away our sins and gave us access to God. “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf” (6:19-20).
 
*Jesus is our anchor. Jesus is our High Priest that continually ministers in God’s presence for us. We are tethered to him and in direct relationship with the Father through him. We have security and hope in Jesus.
“He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek” (6:20).
 
We can face life’s storms because Jesus is an anchor that is firm.
 
We have hope because God has given us his word that he will keep us secure and moving forward through every trial.

RADIATE JESUS: Parenting Skills

Gregory C. Magruder  Parkview Baptist Church, Gainesville, FL 05/08/16
 
Parenting Skills
Hebrews 5:11 – 6:12
 
INTRODUCTION: I saw a sign this week that is appropriate for Mother’s Day. The sign said that the Egyptian Pharaoh King Tut was raised by a mummy. Mothers have a unique and significant role in the development of children. Parents are given the task of helping their children grow toward maturity and independence. Parents expect their children to grow spiritually, emotionally, physically and intellectually. God does too. God expects us to mature in our spiritual walk. Our passage today speaks about parenting skills. It uses child development as an example of how we are to develop and mature in our Christian life.
 
PARENTS NOURISH THEIR CHILDREN.
 
*Parents feed and care for their children so they can grow strong and healthy physically.  “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52).
 
*Growing children move from baby food to more nourishing solid food. The writer of Hebrews says that his readers were spiritually immature and infants in matters of faith. “We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness” (Hebrews 5:11-13).
 
*All Christians must move on with God in order to mature in their faith and fulfill their destiny. “But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil” (Hebrews 5:14).
 
PARENTS NURTURE THEIR CHILDREN.
 
*Parents also have the task of helping their children develop emotionally, socially, and intellectually. Nurture helps the child develop into the unique person God made him or her to be.  “Parents, do not treat your children in such a way as to make them angry. Instead, raise them with Christian discipline and instruction” (Ephesians 6:4 GNT).  The King James Version says “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”
 
*Christians need to move on from the ABCs of the faith and become skilled in the deeper matters of the faith. “Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about cleansing rites, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do so” (Hebrews 6:1-3).
 
*What are the basics or foundations of the faith we need to build upon?
  • SalvationRepentance and Faith in God
  • Baptism and the Infilling of Holy Spirit - Laying on of hands
  • Second Coming – Resurrection and Eternal judgment
 
*The Christian faith requires perseverance and a desire to understand and complete God’s mission. “We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. In fact…by this time you ought to be teachers…” (Heb. 5:11-12). Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity…” (Heb. 6:1).
 
PARENTS NUDGE THEIR CHILDREN.
 
*The goal of parenting is to raise children to become independent adults.
Christian parents aim to lead their children to Christ so they can experience a life of blessing and well-being. Paul wrote to Timothy: I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also (2 Timothy 1:5).
 
Children who are nourished and trained grow into responsible adults. Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise—“so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth” (Ephesians 6:1-3).
 
*Sometimes parents have to warn and prod their children into action so they will lead productive lives. The writer warns Christians that have become complacent in their Christian life that they are tarnishing the name of Jesus and disrupting his redemptive mission. They are in danger of falling short of their call, their mission and their destiny (Hebrews 6:4-8).
 
*But there is hope for us if we will repent and respond to God’s call to move on with him to complete our mission. “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him…We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised” (Heb. 6:10-12).

RADIATE JESUS: Fast Pass

Gregory C. Magruder  Parkview Baptist Church, Gainesville, FL 05/01/16
 
Fast Pass
Hebrews 4:14-5:10
 
INTRODUCTION: The lines are long at Disneyworld. A Fast Pass allows you to skip the long line and have direct access into the event. No waiting. No standing. Just move to the front of the line, show your Fast Pass, and walk right in. Jesus is our Fast Pass to the Father. Jesus provides the way and the means for direct access to God.  Hebrews 1-4 shows that Jesus is greater than the prophets, the angels, Adam, and Moses. The author now shows that Jesus is a better High Priest than Aaron or the other High Priests. Why was this important? Because the High Priest represents the people and offers sacrifice for sin before God. We have hope and confidence before God because Jesus is our High Priest.
 
WHAT ARE THE QUALIFICATIONS OF A HIGH PRIEST?
 
*The Jewish people were required to come before God three times a year to offer sacrifices (Deut. 16:16). The High Priest represented the people before God and offered sacrifices for them. Every high priest is selected from among the people and is appointed to represent the people in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness. This is why he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins, as well as for the sins of the people. (5:1-3).
 
*The High Priest had to be chosen from among the people and he had to be appointed by God. And no one takes this honor on himself, but he receives it when called by God, just as Aaron was (5:4)
 
JESUS IS A BETTER HIGH PRIEST THAN OTHER HIGH PRIESTS.
 
*Jesus is fully human, tested, sympathetic and yet without sin. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin (4:15).
 
*Jesus has an on-going heavenly priesthood instead of a limited earthly priesthood. Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess (4:14).
 
*Jesus, the divine Son of God, was appointed by God to be king and priest. Jesus’ kingdom and priesthood last forever.
In the same way, Christ did not take on himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father.” And he says in another place, “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek” (5:5-6).
 
*Jesus understands our weakness and suffering and continually intercedes in prayer for us before God. During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission (5:7).
 
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF JESUS AS OUR HIGH PRIEST?
 
*Jesus identifies with and knows our needs and weaknesses (Empathy Factor). For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin (4:15).
 
*Jesus gave his life for our sins and salvation (Eternity Factor). Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek (5:8-9).
 
*Jesus provides us with direct access to God (Confidence Factor). Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need (4:16).
 
Jesus provides the way and the means for direct access to God.
 
Have you entered into God’s presence through Jesus or are you still waiting in line?

RADIATE JESUS! Rest

Gregory C. Magruder  Parkview Baptist Church, Gainesville, FL 04/24/16
 
Rest
Hebrews 4:1-13
 
INTRODUCTION: In Hebrews 3, the author implores us to move on with God and fulfill our destiny in Christ. There is a very real danger that we can drift away from God’s call and stray from his mission. We must make the commitment to move on with God. The writer says, “Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it” (Hebrews 4:1). The Israelites failed to enter God’s rest. We need to press on and enter God’s rest. So what is this rest? What is the writer talking about? What kind of rest should we pursue? The writer defines God’s rest and gives us the way to enter it in Hebrews 4:1-13.
 
GOD’S REST EXISTS (1-9).
 
*We are called to fulfill God’s destiny for our lives. This destiny is described as God’s rest (4:1; 3:11). Continuing the theme of Psalm 95, the author uses the word rest (katapousis) which means “to give rest.”  “Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it” (Hebrews 4:1).
 
*Three illustrations of rest in the Bible are used to provide the meaning of the word:
  • The rest of God after his work of creation. “For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: “On the seventh day God rested from all his works” (4:4)
  • The rest promised to the people of Israel when they entered the Promised Land (Canaan). “And again in the passage above he says, ‘They shall never enter my rest’” (4:5).
  • The rest promised by David (Psalm 95) of a future rest for God’s people under the leadership of Jesus. “For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God (4:8-9).
 
*The people of God need to enter into a day of rest, the Sabbath rest.
 
GOD’S DAY MOTIVATES (3-11).
 
*God’s day describes when God rested from his creative work and made the seventh day holy. This day was called the Sabbath. “For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: “On the seventh day God rested from all his works” (4:4)
*God’s Sabbath day did not mean God ceased from activity. He changed his type of work. He moved from creation to redemption (Gen. 3:15).  Jesus knew this and healed on the Sabbath. “So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him. In his defense Jesus said to them, ‘My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working’” (John 5:16-17).
 
*In verse 9, the author coins a new word for “rest” (sabbatismos from the verb “to keep the Sabbath”). God’s people are to enter that rest Today. They are to fulfill their destiny by joining God in his work of salvation. “Therefore since it still remains for some to enter that rest, and since those who formerly had the good news proclaimed to them did not go in because of their disobedience,  God again set a certain day, calling it “Today”… There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God” (4:6-9).
 
*The Christian’s spiritual mission is to fulfill God’s destiny for us and God’s work of redemption for the world. We will rest from our own work and self interests and become partners with God in his work. “[For] anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience” (4:10-11).
 
*The author uses the allegorical method to define the Christian mission as rest. There have been several attempts to explain what rest and the journey of the people of God means in the Book of Hebrews. Notice the comparisons and contrasts of the journey:
  • Chaos à Creation à Rest (original meaning in Genesis)
  • Egypt à  Wilderness à Promised Land (Old Testament type)
  • Salvation à Life’s Struggles à Heaven (traditional meaning)
  • Call à Obedience/Disobedience à Destiny (Hebrew 3-4 view)
  • Salvation à Carnal Living à Spirit-filled Life (1 Cor. 2-3 view)
  • Grace à Works/Self-Dependence à Faith (Hebrews 3-4  view)
 
*The people of God are to move from disobedience to obedience to fulfill God’s plan of redemption for the world.
 
GOD’S WORD ENABLES (11-13).
 
*God’s Word reveals our secret sins and empowers us to do God’s will. “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit… it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare...” (Hebrews 4:12-13).

RADIATE JESUS! Warnings

Gregory C. Magruder  Parkview Baptist Church, Gainesville, FL 04/17/16
 
Warnings
Hebrews 3:7-19
 
INTRODUCTION: DC Talk asks the question, “What if I stumble? What if I fall? What if I lose my step and I make fools of us all?” This is what writer Brennan Manning means when he says, “The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips then walk out the door and deny him by their lifestyle.” The writer of Hebrews warns us that we can drift away from our commitment and can miss God’s call for our lives. He has argued that Jesus is greater than the prophets, greater than the angels, and greater than Moses. (Heb. 1-3). He tells us to fix our thoughts on Jesus since we share his calling (Heb. 3:1). We need to move on with God’s mission and fulfill our destiny. Christ was faithful to his call. Moses was faithful to his call. We need to be faithful to our call. But there is a very real danger that we can drift away from God’s call and stray from his mission. Hebrews 3:7-19 shows that we need to be alert and stay on mission.
 
WE HAVE THE CHALLENGE TO MOVE ON (3:1-12).
 
*The writer quotes Psalm 95 to urge us to get right with God and to warn us of going astray like the people of Israel did in the wilderness (3:7-11).
 
*The people failed to move on with God. Unbelief deceives us and turns us away from God.   “See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God” (3:12).
 
*God gives us a new opportunity and a fresh start today. “So, as the Holy Spirit says:’Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts’”(3:7-8).
 
WE NEED THE COURAGE TO MOVE ON ((3:13).
 
*Encouragement is an antidote to unbelief. We need a daily dose. We need to support one another on the journey. “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness” (3:13).
 
*Fellowship keeps the soil of our soul soft and useful in God’s work. We need to till the soil so it won’t become hardened. Encouragement keeps us from drifting or falling into sin and error.  Small groups and the church family can keep us on track and help us discern sin’s traps.

WE MUST MAKE THE COMMITMENT TO MOVE ON ((3:14-19).
 
*Obedience does not happen by accident. We must choose to move on with God. We must choose to be faithful to the end. “We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end. As has just been said: ‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion’” (3:14-15).
 
*The writer contrasts confidence with unbelief and faithfulness with unfaithfulness. The people of Israel did not lose their salvation. They lost their mission (3:16-18).
 
*He warns that we can lose our testimony and our usefulness in God’s plan if we are not faithful to God’s call and our destiny. “So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief” (3:19).
 
*We need to commit today to move on with God and complete our destiny in Christ. “Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest” (Hebrews 3:1).
 
Are you still on mission with Christ? Or are you drifting away?
 
Are you encouraging others in their walk with the Lord? Or are you pulling back from fellowship with other believers?
 
“The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips then walk out the door and deny him by their lifestyle”  Brennan Manning
 
Does your walk match your talk?

RADIATE JESUS! My Leader

Gregory C. Magruder  Parkview Baptist Church, Gainesville, FL 04/10/16
 
Jesus: My Leader
Hebrews 3:1-6
 
INTRODUCTION: Jesus radiates and represents God (Heb. 1:1-4). But Jesus also represents me. Jesus is my brother, my savior, and my High Priest (2:1-18). But someone may respond, “You say Jesus radiates God and represents humanity. How can you be certain that someone else or some other religion doesn’t represent God and humanity better?”  Maybe someone else excels over the angels too. Say, for instance, Judaism. Why don’t Moses and the Law supersede Jesus and the angels?  Good questions. People today still ask those questions. How can we be certain that Christianity is the right way and Islam or Hinduism is not? What makes Jesus superior to Krishna or Buddha or Mohammed? The writer of Hebrews would respond that Christianity is true because of who Jesus is and what he has done.
 
WHAT THREE TESTS SHOW THAT A CLAIM IS TRUE OR NOT?
 
* Is it logical? This is the test of coherence and consistency. Does this belief make sense and hold together? For example, if Barak Obama is President then Michelle Obama is the First Lady. Barak Obama is President; therefore Michelle Obama is the First Lady. However, if Hillary Clinton is President then Bill Clinton is the First Man. Hillary Clinton is President. Bill Clinton is the First Man. The argument is logical but it is not true. Hillary is not President. That is why we need another test to see if a claim is true.
 
*Is it factual? This is the test of correspondence. This test asks if a belief fits the facts of reality and human experience.   Does it correspond to the real world?  The worldview that matches the greatest number of facts with the least amount of difficulties has the highest likelihood of being a worldview which is true. For instance, the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster fails this test because there is no observable match to the real world.
 
*Is it livable? This is the test of pragmatism or functional adequacy. This test asks if the belief works in real life on the street. Can this belief be practiced and lived on a daily basis? For instance, I met a Christian Science practitioner who told me that illness and disease are an illusion that can be overcome by mind over matter. I asked her if her broken foot and the crutches she had to get around on were an illusion. She said yes. Her belief was sincere but it was not livable.
 
How do Moses and Jesus measure up to the three tests for truth?

CLAIM: JESUS IS GREATER THAN MOSES.
 
*Logical Consistency: Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest. He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house (Hebrews 3:1-2).
 
  • Jesus completed his calling. Moses and Jesus both were called by God. Jesus fulfilled his calling completely as Apostle and High Priest. Moses needed the aid of Aaron and Joshua.
  •  Jesus had a greater calling. Both Moses and Jesus were faithful to their callings. Jesus represents God and humanity and unites the family of God. Moses worked as a member within the family of God. 

*Fits the facts of reality and human experience: Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything.”Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house,” bearing witness to what would be spoken by God in the future. But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house (Hebrews 3:3-6).
 
  • Jesus is the builder of the house and therefore greater than the house and those within it. God is the Creator of everything but Jesus acts as the agent of his Creation and founder of his family (Heb. 1:2).
  • Jesus is the Son over God’s house while Moses was a servant within God’s house.  Jesus has greater honor and authority than Moses.
  • Moses prophesied about Jesus and Jesus fulfilled the prophecy in exact detail. The facts testify that Jesus is greater than Moses.
 
*Are the claims of Jesus livable and able to be practiced? Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus… And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory (Hebrews 3:1, 6).
 
  • Jesus made us part of his family and invites us to join in his mission.
  • I am forgiven, I have a restored relationship with God, and I have the power to overcome temptation all because of Jesus (Hebrews 2:17-18). Therefore, I can live with confidence and hope.
 
Christianity is true because of who Jesus is and what he has done.
 
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