JESUS, THE BRIGHTNESS OF GOD'S GLORY
"God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high; having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they"(Hebrews 1:1-4, NASB).
INTRODUCTION Here is a book that is the center of much controversy. It should not surprise us that this is the case. Any writing that exalts the Lord Jesus Christ is bound to be the focus of attack from the evil one. He will attempt to neutralize the power of the message by diverting our attention to inconsequential matters.
Authorship There is, by no means, unanimity on the authorship of this book. Scholars are divided because God has not revealed it. Some are adamant in their opposition to Paul being its author, while others are equally insistent that he is. The following page contains a brief overview of the opinions of men on this subject. I share it with you to confirm that wise men differ where God has not spoken.
We must make it our business not to become distracted over the person used by God to write the book. I am of the opinion that the thoughts did belong to Paul. Who actually penned the book is of almost no consequence. For that matter, it is really of no consequence who among men was responsible for setting down the tenants of this book. God the Father purpose and revealed the book through the Holy Spirit, and gave it to us by the Lord Jesus, through Whom He has spoken in these last days. Little value will be gleaned from the book until we perceive and embrace this. It is a principle in Scripture that the Word is always to be associated with God, its ultimate Author; the Son, Who is the embodiment and personification of Scripture; and the Holy Spirit, through Whom it was given.
The book calls upon us to hear Who is speaking from heaven--not who is writing upon the earth. Hear the solemn declarations of this volume. "In these last days has spoken to us in His Son" (1:2, NASB). "As the Holy Spirit says . . . " (3:7). "The Holy Spirit is signifying . . . " (9:8). "And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us . . . " (10:15). "See to it that you do not refuse Him who is . . . much less shall we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven" (12:25).
This book is a message from God, by Jesus, and through the Spirit. It is written to professed believers to jar them from the evil propensity to Law. With great power it affirms the superiority and adequacy of the Son of God, as well as His indispensability in the totality of salvation. It pulls us away from trust in self, routine, or position, warning us of our continued dependency upon the appointed Deliverer.
We will find a strong appeal to believers to maintain faith and confidence. They are warned to avoid a purely sacramental, or ritualistic, form of religion, placing the emphasis upon faith. You will not find a syllable in this book that coincides with the contemporary emphasis of the professed church. Nothing will be found here that promotes institutionalism. There is no emphasis upon recruitment (called "evangelism" and "missions" by the moderns). Domestic issues or political strategies are not the focus of the revelation of God. When it comes to institutionalism, the book of Hebrews soundly condemns it! It belonged to the First Covenant, and was replaced by the personal knowledge of God in the New Covenant.
I realize the book of Hebrews is not the whole Bible. However, it is close to the heart of it! We are here provided with an overview of our salvation that is remarkably detailed. The current ministry of Christ, with the need for and effectiveness of it, is developed at length. You will be hard pressed to find such detail anywhere else in Scripture. What is more, the beauty of this volume has refreshment for the Spirit that is scarcely equaled.
In this book, we will come to grips with our need for Christ. We will also see the Father's need for Him. The effects of Jesus' death will be expounded, together with His present administration of the effects of that vicarious death. The reason for the incarnation is expounded, as well as the logic behind His intercession. The absolute superiority of Christ Jesus in every circumstance, and from every vantage point can be perceived with joy. The danger of falling away is sounded, together with the keeping power of faith. We will see the relationship of faith to spiritual growth, and will behold the effectiveness of faith in those that have gone before us.
Time spent in this book is time well spent! We will find spiritual keys here that are indispensable to the comprehension of our great salvation. Let us approach this volume in great expectation of good things! Intend to behold and consider the greatness of Jesus and the glory of the New Covenant. This represents an emphasis that is relatively unknown in the "church world." However, it is requisite to the experience and understanding of your salvation. GOD SPOKE LONG AGO
It Is God That Has Spoken It is imperative that this truth be seen! When it comes to heavenly messages, the Source must be traced back to God! He is the One that has spoken to humanity, whether in the past or in the present. It is His will that is being made known, His purpose, His objective! Care must be taken not to be sidetracked by an earthly view of authorship. When an awareness of Divine authorship fades into the background, the Word ceases to have eternal relevance.
The book of Genesis alone contains the words "GOD SAID" 28 times (1:3,6,9,11,14,20,24,26,28,29; 2:18; 3:1,13,14,22; 4:25; 6:13; 9:12,17; 17:9,15,19; 20:6; 21:12; 35:1,10,11; 41:51). The words "THE LORD SAID" are found in Genesis alone 18 times; 213 times from Genesis through Malachi! You cannot read Scripture discerningly without confronting a speaking God! The book of Hebrews assumes an awareness that God has communicated with humanity. That cognition must be dominate in our thinking if we are to obtain a blessing from this book.
The Bible is a literary work, but not primarily so! It is basically a word from God Himself, and must be so viewed. Whatever your perception of the writers of Scripture, you must not miss the fact that it is God that has spoken!
"At Sundry Times" The aggressiveness of the Divine initiative is seen in the diversity of the communication. He spoke "at sundry times," or "many portions" (NASB). The NIV translates it "many times," while the NKJV uses "various times." This expression points to the diversity of the utterances more than to their number. He did not speak one time, but many times. He was divulging His Mind, His Purpose, His will! His intention was not merely to set forth a code of human conduct, but to reveal what had been determined on the trestle boards of eternity!
He spoke in Eden, revealing His intent for mankind to administrate the works of His hands (Gen 1:28). He spoke to Satan, making known a plan formed before the foundation of the world (Gen 3:15). He made known to wicked Cain that He recognized the doing of good (Gen 4:7). He revealed His intolerance for sin to Noah, and saved him and his house because of their faith (Gen 6-7). God spoke at sundry times!
To Abraham He unfolded His purpose to bless the world through a man (Gen 12:1-3). The Lord spoke to Israel through Moses, revealing the only acceptable morality (Ex 20). He spoke through Judges, Priests, and Kings, making known His will. The Prophets were used to communicate the reactions, purpose, and heart of Jehovah God. He spoke at sundry times! These "sundry times" spanned over 1,000 years, and involved at least twenty-seven different writers.
Worldly religions do not have such a god! Their "writings" are voluminous in words, but not developed over long periods of time. They are not consistent as are the Scriptures. It was God that spoke at sundry times. For that reason, there is perfect consistency in all that He said.
These times were not planned by men. God did not speak until He wanted to do so. Men may have desired a word from God, but that required more than human desire. The analysis of wise men could not produce a word from God then, and it cannot today. Whatever the time of the message, it is God that has spoken it. Whether it is in Eden, on the verge of the flood, or at the foot of the tower of Babel--it is God that has spoken. The times were not all the same, but the words were all from the same God.
"In Divers Manners" Every word from God was not the same, although it projected the same purpose. God did not merely repeat the same message at different times, nor did He speak in the same way. He spoke in "various ways" (RSV), or "many portions" (NASB).
How marvelous and abundant are the "manners." He spoke in promises, curses, and commitments. There were audible words, dreams, visions, and writings. He spoke through holy men as they articulated their deep yearnings and aspirations. There were specific prophecies, or distinct predictions. Adam and Eve heard words of promise. Noah received advance word the world would never again be cursed with a flood. Abraham heard about blessing, and saw a night vision. Jacob and Joseph received dreams, in which Divine purpose was made known. God spoke through angels at Sinai, and even through Balaam's burro. God's words were in "many portions."
A cursory recollection of some of the "manners" through which God spoke is arresting. Dreams (Gen 10:3; 37:5; Num 12:6), visions (Gen 15:1; Ezek 11:24; Dan 8:1), voices (Ex 19:19; 1 Kgs 19:13; Job 4:16), and angels (Gen 31:11; Num 22:35; 1 Kgs 13:18) are included. There were similitudes (Num 12:8; Dan 10:16), sacrifices (Heb 5:1; 8:3; 9:9), and even the Urim, carried by the High Priest (Ex 28:30; Num 27:21; 1 Sam 28:6). Think how often He put a burning word in the heart and mouth of His prophets, which they could not ignore--a "burden of the Lord" (Jer 23:33-38; Isa 13:1; 15:1; Nah 1:1; Zech 9:1; 12:1; Mal 1:1). Think of the variety of writing included in this speaking. There was history (ex., Genesis through Deuteronomy), biographies ( ex., Nehemiah, Job, and Ruth), legislation (ex., Exodus, Deuteronomy), true philosophy (ex., Proverbs), and even poetry (ex., Psalms). Where can such diversity be found but in God's Word?
But all of these were fragmentary. They were only "portions," and not the whole. As for Divine intent, they were only introductory, although the seed of Omnipotence was in them. They were not enough--they were only "a portion." It is not that they did not contain enough information the purpose was there, but could not be discerned with the finite mind. Someone had to come and open the Scriptures, showing what was hidden beneath the written surface.
These "portions" revealed not only a speaking God, but One with purpose and power. If men gave heed to them, they sensed their greatness. The "holy prophets" were not content merely to pass them along to men. They wanted to see into them. Peter says, "As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful search and inquiry, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow" (1 Pet 1:10-11, NASB).
A Divinely originated catalyst was required to produce spiritual insight, or understanding. The unregenerate condition of humanity has rendered man incapable of putting the "portions" together in a profitable manner. Those out of fellowship with God do nor have such abilities.
"The Fathers" Our text is yet more focused! These words were addressed "to the fathers by the prophets" by "holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (2 Pet 1:21, NKJV). The words were not simply thrown out into the air, or placed in public libraries, to be found only by prodigious thinkers. These were words to be spread to all the world!
God spoke "to the fathers." The contemporary church does not make much of "the fathers" i.e., the fathers of the faith. These were epitomized in Abraham., Isaac, and Jacob (Ex 3:15,16; 4:5; Deut 1:8; 6:10; 9:5; Luke 1:55; Acts 3:13). Stephen, quoting from Moses, reminded his critics of God's words. "I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob" (Acts 7:32). The emphasis of the contemporary church has turned the consideration of men away from "the fathers" to other things. To some, "fathers" means church fathers. To others, it means the fathers of our country. Such views are unbecoming for the sons and daughters of the Most High God!
In a foundational sense, "the fathers" refers to the progenitors of the Jewish nation, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. In the immediate context, it refers to the chosen people themselves. Often the term is used in this sense. "For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you" (Acts 3:22). "And we preach to you the good news of the promise made to the fathers, that God has fulfilled this promise to our children in that He raised up Jesus" (Acts 13:32,33b). "I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated under Gamaliel, strictly according to the law of our fathers . . . " (Acts 22:3). Similar references may be found in John 6:31, Acts 7:11-19,38,39,44,45, Acts 28:17, and 1 Corinthians 10:1. It is essential that God's people speak in words that the Holy Spirit employs!We must not allow ourselves to forget, "salvation is of the Jews" (John 4:22). The Spirit states the case with undeniable strength in Romans 9:4-5. " . . . Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises, whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen" (NASB). God did not speak to the Gentiles about a coming Messiah, but to "the fathers"--the Jews! After all of the concocted theories about the contemporary status of the Jews, it is still true: "But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you" (Rom 11:17-18, NASB). Have a wholesome regard for "the fathers!" It is because of them that you are blessed, and the "root" of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob still supports you!
Although the world had produced many supposedly great philosophers and thinkers, God did not speak through them! There have been renown historians, poets, and thinkers--but God spoke "to the fathers by the prophets," not by the worldly-wise! The next paragraph lists the names of individuals that are considered great by this world. While they were responsible for some remarkable accomplishments, God did not speak to the fathers by them! They were not unique by heaven's standards. Whatever we may think of the "great men" of the world, a higher priority must be placed on the holy prophets. They were spokesmen for God! We must not allow ourselves to forget, "salvation is of the Jews" (John 4:22). The Spirit states the case with undeniable strength in Romans 9:4-5. " . . . Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises, whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen" (NASB). God did not speak to the Gentiles about a coming Messiah, but to "the fathers"--the Jews! After all of the concocted theories about the contemporary status of the Jews, it is still true: "But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you" (Rom 11:17-18, NASB). Have a wholesome regard for "the fathers!" It is because of them that you are blessed, and the "root" of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob still supports you!
THE WORLD'S GREAT MEN, AND GOD'S GREATER MEN ENOCH (3052-3187 B.C.) 3500 B.C.Menes unites kingdoms of Egypt, introduces irrigation. NOAH (3118-2168 B.C.) 2780 B.C. Imhotep designs first step pyramid at Saqqara, Egypt. 2700 B.C. Cheops builds Great Pyramid at Giza. 2697 B.C. Huang-ti becomes legendary "Yellow Emperor" of China. 2640 B.C. Si Ling-chi introduces silk production in China. THE FLOOD (2518 B.C.) THE TOWER OF BABEL (2403 B.C.) 2340 B.C. Sargon establishes Semitic and Sumerian civilizations. ABRAHAM (2166-1991) JOSEPH IN EGYPT (14898-1805 B.C.) 1750 B.C. Hammurabi, Babylonian king, issues code of laws. MOSES (1526-1407 B.C.) PERIOD OF THE JUDGES (1367-1015 B.C.) 1270 B.C. Abulfaraj, Syrian historian, compiles first encyclopedia. 1100 B.C. Pa-out-She, Chinese scholar, compiles first dictionary. DAVID ANOINTED KING (1025 B.C.) KING SOLOMON (968 B.C.) ELIJAH (868 B.C.) ELISHA (852 B.C.) OBADIAH AND JOEL (850 B.C.) AMOS AND JONAH (760 B.C.) 760 B.C. Homer, poet, writes Iliad and Odyssey. HOSEA/MICAH/ISAIAH (740 B.C.) 730 B.C. Ahaz, prince of Judah, invents sundial. 700 B.C. Sennacherib, Syrian king, builds first aqueduct. 673 B.C. Terpander, Greek musician, develops stringed instruments. NAHUM/ZEPHENIAH/JEREMIAH/HABAUKKUK (636 B.C.) DANIEL AND EZEKIEL (605 B.C.) 600 B.C. Lao-tze develops philosophy of Taoism. 563 B.C. Siddhartha Gautama develops Buddhist philosophy. 559 B.C. Cyrus establishes Persian Empire. 551 B.C. K'ung Fu-tzu develops philosophy of Confucianism. 550 B.C. Confucius 550 B.C. Anaximander invents star charts and model of spherical Earth. 540 B.C. Pythagoras, mathematician, studies musical harmonics. HAGGAI AND ZECHARIAH (516 B.C.) 508 B.C. Cleisthenes introduces democratic government inAthens. 485 B.C. Aeschylus writes first early Greek tragedies. 480 B.C. Sophocles writes early Greek tragic poems. 460 B.C. Pericles establishes democracy in Athens. EZRA/NEHEMIAH/MALACHI (450 B.C.) 450 B.C. Euripides writes Greek tragedies; Herodotus becomes known as father of history. 440 B.C. Democritus introduces concept of atomic structure of matter; Hippocrates becomes known as father of medicine; Socrates teaches that virtue and knowledge are identical. 400 B.C. Aristophanes introduces political satire in Greek comedies; Plato writes dialogues that help shape Western thought. PERIOD OF DIVINE SILENCE UNTIL JOHN THE BAPTIST 340 B.C. Aristotle contributes to development of logical thought. 334 B.C. Alexander the Great begins conquest of known world. 321 B.C. Chandragupta forms first great empire in India. 300 B.C. Euclid develops deductive system of mathematics; Meng-tse spreads philosophy of Confucius in Orient. 250 B.C. Aristrarchus develops modern concept of universe. 236 B.C. Asoka, emperor of India, becomes Buddhist missionary. 221 B.C. Shih Hwang-ti, first emperor of China, begins Great Wall. 220 B.C. Archimedes, Mathematician, develops physics and mechanics. 218 B.C. Hannibal leads army from Spain over Alps to Italy. 160 B.C. Hipparchus develops trigonometry. 78 B.C. Julius Caesar begins his climb as ruler of Roman Empire. 63 B.C. Cicero, orator, compiles record of Roman life. 38 B.C. Horace, Roman poet, classic satires. 30 B.C. Virgil, Roman poet, writes Aeneid. 27 B.C. Caesar Augustus becomes first Roman emperor.
We must not allow ourselves to become enamored by the world's wise men. Their wisdom, however astute, has neither moral nor spiritual power. It cannot adequately address the matter of sin, nor can it justify us before God. The Lord has not spoken to us through them, but through the Son! Let us bow before Him, and Him alone! Let God's people develop an unquenchable appetite for the word of Christ! Let them see the Scriptures as His message. Let them behold Jesus as their Theme, their focus, their message! If we do not relate Jesus Christ to Scripture, we only have a lifeless book of law--one that cannot confer the life we so sorely require. The Bible reflects Christ's Person!
IN THESE LAST DAYS History--particularly Divine history--is interesting. However, it is nothing to compare with "these last days." The message of God has been clarified in these times! The vista of revelation has been extended! As time has progressed, the message of God has been marked by greater clarity. All of this has occurred because God "is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (2 Pet 3:9). You are living in the most advantageous times in the history of the world. This is not because of the events that are taking place in our day. It is not because of technological advances, or the sudden explosion of worldly wisdom. Those enamored of spiritual trends may even suppose the expectation of a possible awakening makes it the greatest of all times. But this is not the case. This is time in which Jesus is speaking!
The Holy Spirit proclaims the advantage to be the source of Divine communication. God has reserved His best and most thorough Spokesman for "the last days." If one cannot read the signs of the times, then the consideration of the One through Whom God is speaking will identify the times for us. These are "the last days."
Micah spoke of "the last days" as a time of increased spiritual appetite and knowledge--a time when people would be taught by God in a glorious way. "And it will come about in the last days that the mountain of the house of the LORD will be established as the chief of the mountains . . . the peoples will stream to it. And many nations will come and say, Come and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD and to the house of the God of Jacob, That He may teach . . ." (Micah 4:1-2). The prophet was speaking of the time when the work of God would reach its apex. It would be "last" in respect to the Lord's work in the world in its temporal state.
From another viewpoint--one particularly relevant to this book--the "last days" were the conclusion of the dispensation of Law. The Revised Version translates the verse, "at the end of these days." With the advent of Christ, the age of first covenant was "becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear" (Heb 8:13b, NASB). As glorious as the message of Moses and the Prophets was, it paled in the bright light of God's last Messenger!
"These last days" are the last of the supremacy of Moses! The Prophets are now secondary! The Law has lost its original glory! The ancient people are no longer the center of Divine attention. The First Covenant has been replaced with one of greater glory! This is "the day of salvation" (2 Cor 6:2). What is more, the marvelous period in which we live will conclude with the consummation of all things. It will usher in the fulfillment of all that was spoken by the holy Prophets. It will conclude with the passing of the heavens and the earth, and the unveiling of the new heavens and the new earth, wherein dwells righteousness. The devil and his angels will be cast into the lake of fire, together with all that have rejected the Lord and His Christ. As for the saints, the greatness of God's kingdom will be given to them, and they shall reign with Jesus (Dan 7:18,22,27).
This is the era called "these last days." God has a special Spokesman for these days--a superior Spokesman. He has no peers, and will judge the world by the very words He has spoken (John 12:47-48). How fitting that we consider this Representative and Who it is that speaks through Him! His message will transcend all others in both content and effects.
HE HAS SPOKEN THROUGH HIS SON We dare not approach this declaration in a mere academic manner. Here is something faith must grasp. Properly seen, this truth will compel us to adjust our priorities. The focus of our lives will change. Here is a message that goes deeper than intellect can reach. It is more profound that worldly wisdom can grasp.
Note with care what God has said. He has spoken to us during this closing era of time "through His Son." Prior to Jesus, God did not speak to the world through the wisest and most astute of their number! He spoke only through prophets, often obscure and crude. If God did not speak through worldly spokesman before Jesus, you can be sure He does not do so in "these last days."
Those with a penchant for the worldly-wise do well to give heed to the word of the Lord! Our churches have been inundated with a flood of worldly counsel. It covers everything from physical disorders to church growth. There are people that wear the name of Jesus that have more respect for etymology, philosophy, and rules of logic than they do for the words of Jesus. Some have taken upon themselves to even tamper with the words of Jesus--all in the name of purported scholarship. They cause people to question the words of the Son, and to feel comfortable with contradicting His teaching.
Because "every knee" will bow to the Son, and "every tongue" confess that He is Lord (Rom 14:11), we do well to hear Him. God said from heaven, "Hear ye Him!" (Matt 17:5). This is the Father's Spokesman, the exclusive Means through which He speaks to us. We do well to make much of "the Son." Contemporary views of Jesus Christ are shallow, unbecoming, and often grossly distorted. Well meaning students of religion (I speak charitably) speak of Christ's "Divinity," but rarely of His Sonship. They do not know that His Godhood is wrapped up in the term "the Son of God." The prevailing issue that faces men is whether or not Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Those that believe this overcome the world (1 John 5:4-5). Whoever confesses this dwells in God, and God in him (1 John 4:15). The person believing this "has the witness in himself" (1 John 5:10).
The book of Hebrews is said to have been written about 62 A.D. It goes without saying that our text, therefore, is not referring to Christ's earthly ministry. This is a spiritual ministry, discernible only by faith. It includes the words Jesus spoke while among us. Jesus has not ceased to speak. He is now "speaking from heaven"(Heb 12:25). He still teaches those that come to Him (Matt 11:28-29). When you submit yourself to the Word of God, you are not alone. Christ teaches you! He is the Spokesman from heaven. He is the exclusive Expositor of God (Matt 11:27). If the Ephesians "heard Him" and were "taught by Him" after He returned to heaven (Eph 4:21), why should it be thought strange that the same thing occurs today? The Spirit speaks expressly on this subject, and we do well to give heed to His words. "But Christ is faithful as a son over God's house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast. So, as the Holy Spirit says: Today, if you hear his voice . . . " (Heb 3:6-7, NIV).
The Son of God uses means--primarily Scripture--but He is the real teacher. His name is still "Wonderful Counselor" (Isa 9:6-7). If you have an ear to hear, you will still hear Him speaking to the churches, counseling them, and tutoring those that come to Him. His perspective is the ONLY perspective! His emphasis is the ONLY emphasis! His objective is the ONLY objective! When you read His words in the Gospels, you are being introduced to the One through Whom God is speaking NOW. Listen to Him!
AND WHAT OF THE SON? Because this is intended to be an overview, we will not only introduce these remarkable aspects of the Lord Jesus. Candidly, this is exceedingly difficult for me. I have confidence that you will pursue the implications of these things on your own, thereby deriving the meat of the text. When it comes to the consideration of the Lord Jesus Christ, we stand in the Holy of Holies. There is no more lofty consideration than this! We will find the Father has placed everything in the hands of the Son, then given Him to us as Head of all things! This is intended to build your confidence, and encourage you to run an effective race, fight a good fight, and finish the course that has been set before you by Omnipotence.
Appointed Heir of All Things Elsewhere it is written, "For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-- all things have been created by Him and for Him" (Col 1:16). Jesus is the reason for the world, and for humanity. Things that can be seen, and things that cannot be seen were made for Him. All forms of power are His; He is the reason for their existence, and they will all be brought under Him. "The kingdoms of this world" themselves will yet "become the kingdoms of our Lord and His Christ" (Rev 11:15). Everything is going to be gathered into one in Christ! That is the Divine appointment. The history of the world is nothing less than the outworking of this eternal purpose. As it is written, "He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fulness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things upon the earth" (Eph 1:9-10, NASB).
Who is a more suitable Spokesman? He speaks with this appointment in mind. His words will prepare us to participate with Him in this glorious heirship. Remember, "He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son" (Rev 21:7, NKJV). Such are "joint heirs with Christ" (Rom 8:17)--a staggering consideration! Jesus is speaking to bring men into the ultimate inheritance with Himself! His design is not simply to tell us what to do, but to orient us to reign with Him (2 Tim 2:12).
Through Whom God Made the Worlds Creation is larger than it appears! Our world is the focus of redemption, but it is not all that was created by and for Christ Jesus. Through the Son, God made "the worlds" (touj aiwnaj). Different translations use the word "universe" (NIV) and "the world" (NASB, RSV). Darby and the ASV also use "worlds," while Young's Literal Translation uses "the ages."
The phrase "the worlds" (touj aiwnaj) is used 32 times in the New Testament Scriptures. It is used in a variety of ways. It is translated "forever" (Matt 6:13; Lk 1:33; Rom 1:25; 9:5; 11:36; 16:27; 2 Cor 11:31; Heb 13:8; Jude 25 ) "forevermore" (Gal 1:5; Rev 1:18), and "forever and ever" (Phil 4:20; 1 Tim 1:17; 2 Tim 4:18; Heb 13:21; 1 Pet 4:11; 5:11; Rev 1:6; 4:9,10; 5:13; 7:12; 10:6; 11:15; 14:11; 15:7; 19:3; 20:10; 22:5).
This text, however, appears to use the word in a unique way. Later, in the eleventh chapter, the Spirit uses this word in regard to creation. "By faith we understand that the worlds (tou.j aivw/naj) were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible" (NASB). Doubtless, this refers to the expression in our text, "through Whom also He made the worlds." Elsewhere in Scripture, the extent of creation is also mentioned. The book of Colossians contains an expression almost identical to the one we are considering. "And He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-- all things have been created by Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together" (Col 1:15-17, NASB). Herein is a most wonderful declaration!
Our minds are to be stretched in our consideration of the Son! When it comes to Jesus, let men abandon restrictive views, and stunted ideas. The heavens and the earth are involved in the creation. It is probable this is larger than what men call "the universe." Everything in our universe consists of things that "can be seen."
Invisible Things There are also things that cannot be seen; i.e., do not accommodate themselves to human vision. This is not referring to things that can be seen with the naked eye, but require a microscope, or some other mechanism, to enlarge them for our vision! Invisible things cannot be seen with any earthly assistance. They are not things that merely need to be made larger. They belong to another dimension. Think of angels, spirits, cherubim, seraphim, the devil, demons, etc. These are some things that are "invisible"--all made by and for Jesus. The only exception is God Himself, Who also is "invisible" (Col 1:15; Heb 11:27).
Thrones and Dominions There are "thrones . . . dominions . . . rulers . . . authorities." On the lower side of this hierarchy are earthly kings and potentates, but they are nothing to be compared with spiritual authorities. Daniel was told of powerful spiritual powers. Two were mentioned in particular: "the prince of Persia," and "the prince of Grecia" (Dan 10:13,20). John the Revelator wrote of angels that had "power over fire" (Rev 14:18), and "the angel of the waters"(Rev 16:4-5). These, together with every other form of authority, were made "by Him and for Him." For that reason, no personality or influence from the seen or unseen realm can separate us "from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom 8:35-39).
The Brightness of God's Glory This thought has challenged the greatest minds of our race--as well as that of angels. Jesus is "radiance of God's glory" (NIV), or "the brightness of His glory" (NRSV). Darby's translation, and the ASV, says it this way; "effulgence of his glory."
The Spirit is not referring to a physical impression of God, like Israel experienced at Sinai (Ex 24:10). God's Person is comprehended by a perception of His purpose, His work, His glorious objectives. Looking into the face of Jesus is not an activity of the flesh, like those that beheld Him before His death and resurrection. As it is written, "Therefore from now on we recognize no man according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer" (2 Cor 5:16, NASB).
God the Father is seen most clearly in the Lord Jesus Christ. As it is written, "For God, who said, "Light shall shine out of darkness," is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ" (2 Cor 4:6). Only in Christ is an accurate perception of God found! Study cannot appropriate such knowledge, the analysis of nature, or a finely-spun Scriptural hermeneutic. Men search in vain to comprehend God apart from Christ Jesus. As it is written, ". . . so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Col 2:2-3, NIV).
When we behold the significance of Jesus--His Person and accomplishments--we are seeing the glory of God! We obtain insight into the "love of God" (1 John 3:16). His desire to transform and receive men is seen in Jesus. When you are confronted with the Son of God in the Gospels, you are beholding God! The responses of the Savior to the infirm, children, religious bigots, earnest seekers, and those that are contrite reveal the heart of God! Jesus is the brightness of God's glory! You could not see this glory in Moses--even when his face shone as the noonday sun! You could not see it in Elijah, even when he was translated into heaven! Nor, indeed, could this glory be seen in the Law of Moses!
God the Father is most clearly seen in Jesus! He is not perceived with such clarity anywhere else! The church, even though it is raised and sanctified, does not project such glory. It is not the "effulgence" of the glory of God! If men are ever to become acquainted with God, they must become acquainted with Christ Jesus! They must learn the significance of His words and works. They must be captured by the glory of His Person. If the church is going to do the work of God, it must major on Christ Jesus. It will not do to become occupied with what it conceives to be the work of God if Jesus is neglected! To the extent Jesus is obscured, God is veiled, and His work cannot be discerned!
God's Express Image Our text does not stop here. It continues to emphasize the indispensability of Jesus to the work of God! In His humbled state--that of the Man--Jesus is still "the express Image of God." The NRSV translates this, "the exact imprint of God's very being," while the NIV reads, "the exact representation of His being."
Paul refers to Jesus being "in the form of God" (Phil 2:6), and John calls Him "the Word" which was "in the beginning," was "with God," and "was God" (John 1:1). However, both texts refer to Jesus in the pre-incarnate state. Our text calls Him a glorified Man! Prior to His incarnation, the Word could not be studied by men. He was beyond their reach, outside of the sphere of human experience. In substance, there was no difference between the Word and God; they had the same "form," or spiritual constitution. Both were "spirit," and, consequently, beyond the realm of human analysis.
Prior to Jesus, men could only study the RESULT of God's work. They could, for example, behold His thumb print in creation. Something of "His eternal power and divine nature" could be seen in what He had created (Rom 1:20, NRSV). The representation, however was fragmentary, crude, and nothing to be compared with the fulness of the glory of God! Nevertheless, this is not the case with Jesus. He is not a partial revelation of God, or an introduction to Him with Whom we have to do! He is "the very image of his substance" (ASV), exact in every detail. In creation, the limitation was in the revelation itself. In the Law, the same limitation existed. In Christ, however, the limitation is in our vision, not in the revelation!
It is staggering to consider that the "fulness of God" could dwell corporately in "the Man Christ Jesus." Yet, this is the revealed truth. Hear the proclamation, and stand in wonder. "For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him" (Col 1:19, NIV). "For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form" (Col 2:9, NIV).
This Divine arrangement makes it possible for us to receive of this "fulness"--for the Divine nature to dwell within us! "And of His fulness have all we received, and grace for grace" (John 1:16). The point of the "fulness" of God dwelling in Christ is not the mere increase of information about God--although that certainly takes place. The conferment of the Divine Nature upon redeemed humanity is the point! Now men can "participate in the Divine Nature" (2 Pet 1:4). This simply could not take place before. Men cannot be brought into fellowship with God through partial means! The Law, not being "the fulness of God," could not bring men into vital union with God. Holy men like Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Job, Moses, Samuel, and Elijah could not make men holy. They did not have the capacity to confer the Divine Nature upon men, because they did not possess the fulness of God.
Nevertheless, that is not the case with Jesus! Because He is the "express Image of God," we can be conformed to His image (Rom 8:29). He can pour Himself into His people without affecting His own nature. This is why the church is called, "the fullness of him who fills everything in every way" (Eph 1:23, NIV). It is why every believer can himself can attain "to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ" (Eph 4:13, NIV).
The Holy Spirit is not giving us a philosophical view of Jesus. He is showing the relevancy of Christ to the salvation of God! Men may imagine themselves capable of measuring up the Divine expectations through human effort alone. That is only a vain imagination, to be cast down with our spiritual weaponry (2 Cor 10:3-5). As indispensable as the Scriptures are, they are empty and powerless without Jesus Christ! They are not the "express image of God"--Jesus is! The "fulness of God" does not dwell bodily in them--it does in Jesus! The "brightness of the glory of God" is not contained in Scripture, but in Jesus!
Let no one suppose for one moment that this is speaking derogatorily of Scripture. We will not allow such a foolish thought to dominate our thinking! Because the "fulness of God" is found in Jesus--because the "brightness of the glory of God" is in Him--because He, and He alone, is the "express Image of God," it is written: "You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about Me, yet you refuse to come to Me to have life" (John 5:39-40, NIV). We are never justified in falling into Bibliolatry, or the worship of the Bible. It is the appointed means through which the Savior works--but the Savior is the real point! I fear many with whom I have walked have, like the studious Jews of old, actually allowed their approach to the Bible obscure the "brightness of the glory of God."
The Glorified Sustainer How marvelous are the attributes of Jesus! He made everything in every dimension, and it was all made for Him! Still, it does not end there! He sustains it all! He is presently "sustaining all things by his powerful word" (NIV). Elsewhere the Spirit testifies of Jesus, "He Himself is before all things, and in Him all things hold together" (Col 1:17, NRSV). The word "hold together," or "consist" (sune,sthken) is an interesting one. It means to "put together, or cohere; to stand together, or have existence; i.e., to continue." Men speak of the law of gravity, centrifugal and centripetal force, and other "natural laws." They speak as though the universe was held together by laws that have been set in motion. Their analysis of things may appear to justify their conclusion, but it is still wrong. The exalted Christ keeps the universe from disintegration. The orderliness and precision of the creation are owing to its Creator, not laws or principles.
Technically speaking, there is no happenstance in what men call "nature." These forces are all marshaled and controlled by the Son of God! He can "call for" a "judgment by fire," which dries up the great deep and devours the land (Amos 7:4, NIV). By His word He can call for an increase of grain (Ezek 36:29), or for a famine in the land (Psa 105:16). Even in a "whirlwind and the storm," He has His way (Nah 1:3). He can cause rain to come or cease to come (Deut 11,14). He can extend a day, causing the sun to shine in its brightness beyond its appointed time (Josh 10:12-13). If He commands ravenous birds to bring food to His prophet, they will do so (1 Kgs 17:4). In Him is the word fulfilled; "When the earth totters, with all its inhabitants, it is I who keep its pillars steady. Selah" (Psa 75:3, NRSV). It is no wonder that the twenty-four elders before the Throne speak thus of Him. "You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being" (Rev 4:11, NIV).
Yet it is not nature alone that is held together by the "word of His power!" The whole redemptive economy is in Christ's hand! If we marvel at creation, we will marvel more at the "great salvation" over which He presides. Why is it that "all things work together for good to them that love God, who are called according to His purpose" (Rom 8:28). It is not because things have been locked into a specific direction and appointed end! It is "the Word of His power" that brings things together for our ultimate good! This is why "no man" is able to remove the believer from the grasp of Deity (John 10:27-29). It is why Paul, under great duress, could say, " . . . I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance" (Phil 1:19, NIV).
Our salvation, down to the most meticulous detail, is supervised and held together by the Lord Jesus Christ. He mediates the covenant in which we find ourselves (Heb 9:15; 12:24). He intercedes before the Father on the behalf of those that have received the atonement (Heb 7:25). He monitors our temptations, not allowing them to exceed our ability, and seeing to it they come with an escape route (1 Cor 10:13). Our Lord dispatches angelic hosts to protect and minister to us (Heb 1:13-14). Even the Holy Spirit functions under Him for the good of God's people! Our complete confidence in Him is fully justified from every conceivable view.
He Purged Our Sins The closer we are to the Lord, the more we will make of the removing of our sins. In a sense, this work was introductory, but we must not allow that consideration to diminish the magnitude of this accomplishment! God could proceed no further with His purpose for humanity until sin had been dealt with, and that decisively! The thrice holy God could not overlook sin, or simply pass it by. As it is written, "The LORD . . . by no means clearing the guilty" (Ex 34:7, NRSV). Nahum said of God, "the LORD will by no means clear the guilty" (1:3). His nature will not allow Him to look past guilt. It must be removed, and that in a righteous way; i.e., a manner that does not comprise the integrity of God, or coerce mankind, made in the image of God. This, by no means, is a small or inconsequential task! 1,500 years of sacrifices under the Law did not remove so much as a single sin. No guilty conscience was purged, and no individual regenerated under that ancient system--even though it was God-ordained!With the entrance of Jesus into the world, hope sprang forth like a beautiful flower. A resolution to the sin problem loomed on the horizon of time. John the Baptist saw it and cried, "Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29). Everything that was created was "made by Him!" It was all made "for Him." It is all sustained "by Him." Yet, He is the one that dealt with the wretched condition of humanity. God Himself "laid on Him the iniquity of us all" (Isa 53:6).
Mark it well, Jesus did not "purge" our sins by a Divine fiat! He created "the worlds" with His Word, and "upholds all things" by His Word--but it is not so with the purging of our sins! He could summon a universe into existence by His word, but He could not speak our sins away! That would require a sacrifice--the ultimate sacrifice! He must be "made to be sin for us" (2 Cor 5:21), bearing "our sins in His body on the tree" (1 Pet 2:24). This would involve being "made a curse for us" (Gal 3:10-13), and being forsaken by God (Matt 27:46). For our sins to be "removed," the Son must, for a season, be removed from God! God would raise Him, but not until He had "delivered Him up for us all" (Rom 4:35; 8:32). The Father would not allow His soul to remain in hades, but it must go there (Acts 2:27). Jesus, by Himself, was made to "taste death for every man" (Heb 2:9).
He "by Himself" purged our sins. It was a solitary work, performed by a solitary person. The KJV carries the sense of this text--"by Himself." Other versions lighten the sense of the text by saying, "When he had made purification for sins" (NRSV), and "After he had provided purification for sins" (NIV). The expression translated "by Himself" (diV eautou/, Scriveners Greek NT; auvtou/, UBS Greek New Testament) is "an intensive pronoun to emphasize identity, setting the individual person or thing apart from others . . . " The point is not only that He accomplished, but that He did it alone! The purging of our sins was not a joint work! Jesus did it "by Himself." He accomplished this like David accomplished the defeat of Goliath, or Samson the overthrow of the Philistines.
This is elsewhere emphasized in Scripture. The prophets foretold the accomplishment. "I have trodden the winepress alone; from the nations no one was with . . . the year of my redemption has come. I looked, but there was no one to help . . . so my own arm worked salvation for me, and my own wrath sustained me" (Isa 63:3-5). The "day of vengeance" (Isa 63:4) may be interpreted to be the final public judgment of God's enemies. However, we do well not to confine it to that event. The Gospel of Christ, or the announcement of the purging of sin, is also the announcement of the revelation of the "wrath of God . . . against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of man" (Rom 1:16-18). There, in the Son, God judged the sins of the world. He poured out His indignation upon the Son. His holy, righteous character came into sharp conflict with the transgressions of humanity. It was then that the "chastisement of our peace" was tasted by Jesus (Isa 53:5). When Jesus was sin incarnate, He became the curse of God personified (Gal 3:10-13). It was God Himself that "did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all" (Rom 8:32, NIV). He was ravaged by the devil, principalities and powers, and the peoples of the world. Like a Lamb, He was led to a "slaughter," the likes of which no mortal is capable of conceiving (Isa 53:7).
Jesus "purged our sins" by removing them from the face of God--from Divine consideration. He fulfilled the type introduced in the pair of goats employed to deal with sin under the Old Covenant. "And he shall take of the congregation of the children of Israel two kids of the goats for a sin offering . . . then shall he kill the goat of the sin offering, that is for the people, and bring his blood within the veil . . . and sprinkle it upon the mercy seat, and before the mercy seat: and he shall make an atonement for the holy place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions in all their sins . . . And there shall be no man in the tabernacle of the congregation when he goeth in to make an atonement in the holy place, until he come out, and have made an atonement for himself, and for his household, and for all the congregation of Israel . . . And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness: And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited: and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness" (Lev 16:5-22).
How marvelous the shadow! How much more extraordinary the reality! "Two kids of the goats" were used to portray coming redemption. One would be used to appeal to Divine mercy; one to take the offence away from view. The appeal to Divine mercy would be made with "no man" in the tabernacle of the congregation! Until full atonement had been made, none could go into the presence of the Lord. Nevertheless, more is involved than this. The sin itself must be removed. It is not enough to make an appeal to Divine mercy if the sin, in fact, remains. Aaron, the High Priest, was to confess the sins of the people while laying "both his hands upon the head of the live goat." In one vicarious act, he transferred the sins of the people, "putting them upon the head of the goat." Now, the sins will be removed to a place uninhabitable--where no man could dwell. It would take a "fit man" to accomplish the task. Once the man arrived in the desolate land, he would "let go the goat in the wilderness." Never again would that goat be seen! He was left where mortal could not dwell.
How suitable the figure. The Lord Jesus is at once both goats, the High Priest, the mercy seat, and the "fit man." He took the responsibility for our sins, then, by bearing them "in His body on the tree" (1 Pet 2:24), removed them to a place where they can never be seen again. They have been removed from those in Christ, and can never be united with them again. "As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us" (Psa 103:12).
Who is not willing to spend and be spent for such a Savior as this? What Law is there as compelling as the Lord Jesus Christ? If God has placed everything in His hands, what timorous soul would fail to place their small challenges in that Almighty hand?
He Is Seated At God's Right Hand The purging of our sins did not complete the work of Jesus--it only finished the earthly phase of it. Upon the basis of His vicarious, or substitutionary, atonement, Jesus now sits on the Father's right hand. He is administrating the covenant, interceding for the saints, and bringing them to glory. He is bringing them through fire and water, trial and tribulation, valleys and mountains! He is subduing their enemies, dispatching angelic forces to aid them, and filling with joy and peace in believing. This is all work to be accomplished from the right hand of thee Father.
Mark ends His Gospel with the inclusion of these words. "After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God" (Mark 16:19). On the day of Pentecost, Peter credited the mighty displayal of the Holy Spirit to the working of Jesus at the right hand of God. "Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured out this that you both see and hear" (Acts 2:33, NRSV). Later, the Apostle associated the giving of repentance and the remission of sin to the Savior at God's right hand. "God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior that he might give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins" (Acts 5:31, NRSV). In his violent death, Stephen was afforded the privilege of seeing Jesus "standing at the right hand of God," as though to receive the first to shed his blood because of the Gospel (Acts 7:56). In one grand expression of praise, Paul shows the extent of Christ's redemptive work. "Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died--more than that, who was raised to life--is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us" (Rom 8:34, NIV). The Colossians were reminded that here--where Jesus is--is the only appropriate place for our affection. "Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God" (Col 3:1).
Here, at the Father's right hand, is the place of authority, favor, and effective guidance! It is the Father's "right hand" that is "full of righteousness" (Psa 48:10)--and it becomes accessible to us through Christ! Mortals are upheld by this right hand (Isa 41:10), made adequate to the challenges of the faith-life. The Psalmist spoke of "the saving strength of His right hand" (Psa 20:6)--and that is where the Lord is! His presence there guarantees the salvation everyone that abides in Christ!
It is a "holy" right hand, and a victorious one, that is the present residence of our Savior (Psa 98:1). When the Father exerted His mighty power in the resurrection of Christ, "He raised him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places" (Eph 1:20). There, He is transcendent to and ruling over "all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come" (v 21). The purpose for this exaltation is that He might finalize your salvation, bringing you all the way to glory. His presence there means your faith is not vain, your labors are not vain, and your hope is solid and secure.
He Has Inherited A More Excellent Name Jesus is superior to all angels; both individual and collective. Take that vast and "innumerable company of angels," and stand them next to Jesus. They are inferior in every way to Him. His Person is transcendent to theirs. Even in a low and humbled state, when He entered as a Babe into the world, the cry reverberated throughout all of heaven, "Let all the angels of God worship Him!" (1:6). Here is the declaration. It is grand conclusion to our introduction to Jesus. "So He became as much superior to the angels as the name He has inherited is superior to theirs" (Heb 1:4).
Our text does not say the Son is superior to the angels BECAUSE He has inherited a name superior to theirs. This is an affirmation of comparison. His name is as superior to them as His name is to theirs! We only know of the names of two angels, and both of them are favored and mighty: Michael and Gabriel. But what are their names to compare with that of Jesus? They are "servants," and "ministers," He is the King of glory! They do the Lord's bidding; He determines the bidding! They stand around the throne, He sits in the throne! He is eternal, they are created.
At the name of Jesus, every knee will eventually bow. Every tongue will eventually confess that Jesus is Lord of all! There is no possibility that this will not occur! God has made the appointment, and none can make it null or void. If, in this world, we choose to bow the knee to Jesus and confess that He is the Son of God, our participation in the day of universal confession will be joyous. To behold Jesus as He is NOW--in this world--and to embrace Him by faith, is salvation!
No angel has ever, or ever will, be afforded such honor. But this is not an honor given to Him out of grace or mercy. It is one He deserves. His Person is greater! He has a name that has been "inherited." It is the reward for His grand and glorious work of redemption.
Because this subject will be developed at length in the next lesson, I will go no further with it here. We have reached a grand conclusion to a glorious introduction. We have been exposed to the Lord Jesus in a few short words that challenge the mind, grip and heart, and dominate our affection. A grander Savior we could never have. We have the best in Jesus, in Whom is no deficiency at all!
CONCLUSION Who can doubt the majesty of the Lord Jesus? He is worthy of our adoration, commitment, and fervent worship. Herein is the secret to spiritual productivity--beholding the glory of Jesus Christ. Let those that speak to the people of God make much of their Savior. This book was written, you must remember, to believers; to people that "have once been enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come" (Heb 6:4-5). It is unfortunate that the gales of legalism have drawn many a frail vessel into tempestuous waters. While sailing in such troubled realms, faith grows weak, confidence takes flight like a wounded dove, and this world appears to be the primary one. These things are delusions, created by the mists of law-keeping.
While those in Christ are not "without law" (1 Cor 9:21), they cannot rely upon the Law for justification. When life is lived in dependence upon Law for Divine acceptance, a sound mind is not possible. Everything becomes distorted to such individuals. Hope is no longer vibrant and dominating. "Full assurance" (Col 2:2; Heb 6:11; 10:22) is not possible because of a defiled conscience. Salvation in Christ Jesus will not allow "confidence in the flesh" (Phil 3:3). The reason for this situation is straightforward. Law-keeping requires concentration on yourself. In such a case, the Lord Jesus no longer fills the vision.
Settle it in your mind to concentrate on Jesus. It is He, and He alone, Who has taken away your sins. He alone has at last satisfied a thrice-holy God. It is Jesus that created everything, and for Whom it has been created. It has not been made for you, but you will obtain it all if you remain in Him! His domain is infinitely larger than your small world. See to it that you do not live within the confines of personal experience, and that your vision extends beyond your own difficulties. The empire of Jesus included things seen and unseen. He is over dominions and powers, that take orders from Him and report to Him. He will rebuke the devourer for your sake, and summon heavenly hosts to aid you! When the storms of life rage against you, He will rebuke them. When you are faced with great floods, He will enable you to pass through them! When the fire looks as though it will ravish you, He will not allow it to kindle upon you, and you will not be burned. H e is the "Breaker of Israel" that goes before you, clearing your path to glory.
God has invested everything in the Son--everything! He had the responsibility of removing the defiling transgression. He alone could overthrow the "accuser of the brethren" (Rev 12:10), and plunder spiritual rulers that controlled entire segments of the world (Col 2:15). Only Jesus could fully satisfy the Father. Only the Son could enter into death and, through the power of the Spirit, triumph over death and the grave. Who else could be seated at the right hand of the Father, making effective intercession for us, and administering a "better covenant with better promises" (Heb 8:6)? He alone effectively expounds the Father and His purpose to the believer.
Those that are intent upon gaining approval because of their obedience, must do more than keep what they conceive to be the essential commandments. They must remove their own sin, destroy the devil, and thoroughly satisfy the Father. It is incumbent that they defeat death and the grave, ascend up into heaven, and occupy the throne of God. If this cannot be done, they require a Savior. Thank God that is precisely what we have! Furthermore, it is the Savior that speaks to us. He does so in a manner conducive to salvation. If you will give heed to Him, making Him your focus, you will obtain His "great salvation."
Trust in this Savior, pilgrim! Make Him the center of your thoughts, and the goal of your faith. He has promised never to leave you or forsake you! Considering Jesus will bring the blessing. Who is able to calculate the glorious benefit of that!