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Jesus: The More Excellent One #1

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green
The Truth Network Radio
December 16, 2022 7:00 am

Jesus: The More Excellent One #1

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green

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December 16, 2022 7:00 am

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When you see the superior excellence of Jesus Christ, you're not tempted to leave Him behind. When you see the superior excellence of Jesus Christ, it girds you and you know that your faith is not in vain. But we need to make these things very, very clear.

Fill in the blank. Jesus is greater than what or whom? Well, the book of Hebrews gets quite specific about that, as we'll see here today on The Truth Pulpit.

Hi, I'm Bill Wright. As Don Green continues teaching God's people God's word, he's taking us through a series called The Wonder of Jesus. Today, he begins a message titled Jesus, The More Excellent One. You're no doubt familiar with the Levitical animal sacrifices, whose purpose was to substitute for human sin and was a prerequisite for entering into the presence of the Holy God. As evidenced by the need to repeat these sacrifices continually, the problem was the temporary nature of the offering. A more excellent permanent solution was needed, and God provided it through his own spotless lamb, Jesus Christ.

And he is more excellent in other ways as well. To learn more about those, let's join Pastor Don Green now in The Truth Pulpit. I invite you to turn to Hebrews chapter 10. And you might title this message, if you're taking notes, you might title this message, Jesus, The More Excellent One.

Jesus, The More Excellent One. Now you know from reading the Bible, from reading the book of Acts, reading the accounts of the martyrdom of Stephen and the difficulties that the early church faced at the hand of the Jews, you understand that there was persecution associated with the early believers, that there was opposition that met them, that met the Apostle Paul as he went and proclaimed Christ and how the Jews would work up riotous responses in order to disrupt the preaching of the gospel. Well, put yourself in the sandals, as it were, of an early Jew in the early church, and there's all of this conflict coming into your life and around you simply for the sake of the name of Christ, and the system from which you came from that you grew up with is now attacking you for your early naming of the name of Christ. Well, you know, in the early days of that, there you are in your Jewish sandals having somehow named the name of Christ, and you see all of this conflict and its human nature that when conflict comes, you want to get out of it, and you look for the easy way out. Side note here, let me tell you that that is a very bad way to approach spiritual life, and that is no way for a Christian to live whatsoever.

To think that the immediate thing that God would have for you when conflict or difficulty comes into your life, that the first goal of God in that is for you to get out and live in ease. Why would we ever think such things, beloved? Why would we think that that was the path to following Christ?

Why would anything like that ever cross our minds? Did an obedience to God lead Christ into conflict in his earthly life as the Pharisees and the Sadducees and everyone opposed him? Why would we think that ease was the path of the Christian life when Christ purchased us in the path that led him to Gethsemane when he cried out, oh my God, if possible let this cup pass from me?

And he wept and he sweat drops of blood because of the intensity of the spiritual conflict that was at stake. And then he goes to the cross and he suffers for us. How could it be that we would think that our salvation which was purchased at the price of blood on the cross was designed to give us a life of ease without conflict in the way that we live? You see, that's not biblical thinking, that's just simply selfishness. And we need to think a whole world differently about those things. Well, the early Jews needed help thinking that way as well, and I have you in Hebrews 10, which is good, because that's where I want to go now.

We're still in introduction here. In Hebrews 10, verse 32, the writer of Hebrews is writing to Jews and recognizing the conflict that they feel in the midst of their suffering. And they're at a crossroads in their mind. They're saying, do we proceed and follow Christ despite all of this conflict?

Or we could go back to Judaism and all of this conflict would go away. The writer of Hebrews is writing to call them, to warn them, to help them, to strengthen them. And he says in verse 32, remember the former days when, after being enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings, partly by being made a public spectacle through reproaches and tribulations, and partly by becoming sharers with those who were so treated.

He says, remember your past. There was conflict in the past as you had been enlightened by the teaching about Christ, and there was conflict and suffering that went along. Some of you just experienced it personally. Some of you had those that were close to you that went through it, and you shared in their suffering. Verse 34, he says, for you showed sympathy to the prisoners and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and a lasting one. But now it's come back.

Now apparently it's even more severe, and now they're really facing the cost. Will we go forward with Christ, or will we turn back and, as it were, press the button that releases the pressure valve on this? And all of it can go away, and we can be restored to external peace.

And they're weighing, they're battling, what are they going to do with this? And the writer of Hebrews, 10 chapters in, almost to the end of chapter 10, says in verse 35, therefore, do not throw away your confidence which has a great reward, for you have need of endurance so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised. He says, you had this prior confidence in Christ that now has been shaken.

He says, don't throw it away. The answer isn't to abandon Christ. The answer isn't to go back to the old ways of Judaism. The answer is to go forward with Christ, to go forward, and if it brings you suffering, to accept that suffering for his name's sake. The writer of Hebrews says this after nearly ten full chapters of showing to them the preeminent excellence of Christ. This call to be faithful to Christ is premised on the argument that he had made in the prior nine chapters, and that's what we want to see. We want to see, in the most general and sweeping of ways, what the writer of Hebrews has said that would justify his claim and his call upon their lives to persevere through suffering rather than abandoning Christ in order to avoid it. When you see the superior excellence of Jesus Christ, you're not tempted to leave him behind. When you see the superior excellence of Jesus Christ, it girds you, and you know that your faith is not in vain.

But we need to make these things very, very clear. What the book of Hebrews does is this, keeping in mind and now tying together what I said about the books of Moses, what the book of Hebrews does is this. It makes a cumulative argument.

In other words, piece by piece by piece, and joins different strands of argument together to make one great overarching claim. And based on that overarching claim of the superiority of Christ, calls its readers to continue in faith in Christ and to persevere despite the hardship that that might bring. It teaches the superiority of Christ to everything about the Old Testament system so that we would understand that our faith in Christ is not in vain. And so, systematically, section by section, it teaches the superiority of Christ to angels, the superiority of Christ to Moses, to Old Testament priests, to animal sacrifices, and systematically goes through and shows how surpassingly great Christ is over all of those things, going to this point that given how great Christ is, you honor him by putting your faith and your trust in him and persevering in whatever that brings to you. What will strengthen your Christian life?

What will give you the courage to stand out, to accept isolation and rejection from those closest to you, to accept hardship, to accept loss of material things for his sake, is to see the greatness of who he is. And that's what we want to see as we're going to walk far too quickly through the book of Hebrews. So let's go back to the start of Hebrews now, Hebrews chapter 1. We are going to see that Jesus is the more excellent one. And in a very systematic way that greatly appeals to a logical mind, you find the writer of Hebrews showing the excellence of Christ far above and infinitely over anything else that had come before him.

And so it starts with this. This is our first point. We first of all, we said that Jesus is the more excellent one, and we can say this. Number one, he is more excellent than the prophets. He is more excellent than the Old Testament prophets. Now let me warn you, or not warn you, I guess you could take it as a warning, but just advise you that we're going to go through these things all too quickly.

I hope that in the future God will allow us to go verse by verse through Hebrews, but that's down the road. Today we want to see the major points of it. And you can understand from different places that you've been the value of a broad grandeur view. Isn't it true that when you go to the mountains, you like to get up to a point? Those of you that have been to mountains, you get up to a point and you see the panorama. You see the panorama of mountains extending for miles before, and the collective grandeur of that has a unique beauty all its own. There is a view and a vision of breadth and depth that transcends what happens if you're climbing the rocks when your face is just inches from the face of the mountain. You have a whole different perspective. Well, what we're trying to do here with this very brief series is to give you the broad panorama that you would embrace the panorama of the overall message of Hebrews, and we'll consider it in detail hopefully, Lord willing, at some time in the future.

So we're going to go rather quickly here. First of all, what about the superior excellence of Jesus? You can say definitively that Jesus is more excellent than the prophets that went before him. Look at the first three verses of Hebrews chapter 1, where the writer says, God, after he spoke long ago to the fathers and the prophets in many portions and in many ways, a brief overview look back at Old Testament revelation. He says in verse 2, 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. Now, he opens up by making a passing general reference to the Old Testament prophets and what great men they were. You read about Isaiah and Jeremiah and Ezekiel, you read about Daniel, you read about Hosea, Joel and Amos and all of the other minor prophets, you read what they wrote and you are impressed by the ability and the integrity and the faithfulness of these men. Great men of God. But you put them next to our Lord Jesus Christ and you realize that there is no comparison to be made. Hebrews is a study of contrasts and it contrasts Christ with anything that might be offered against him or in addition to him alongside of him, better stated, anything that might be offered alongside of him, it puts them side by side and says make the comparison and come to your conclusion. These prophets were mouthpieces of God.

That's awesome. You know what? Jesus Christ is God.

There's no comparison. Look at what he says in verse 2. He's spoken the prophets in the past, now he has spoken in his Son and who is the Son?

He's the heir of all things. He's the one through whom God made the world. No prophet was remotely like that.

Verse 3, Christ is the radiance of the glory of God and perfectly represents his nature. No prophet was like that. Prophets were sinful men of human flesh just like you and me.

And Christ upholds all things in the universe by the word of his power. No prophet does that. No prophet ever did, no prophet ever could.

Christ made purification of sins at the cross. No prophet ever did that. Christ has sat down at the right hand of the majesty on high in the throne room of heaven. No prophet ever did that. Christ is superior, more excellent than all of the prophets. And so he opens with this great salvo that helps us see that as much as we might appreciate the ministry of the prophets, that the fulfillment of everything that they spoke of is found in Christ and he surpasses the prophets in every conceivable way. Let me state it this way, for those Jews that would reject Christ as the Messiah, they have made their own prophets absolutely meaningless. If the prophets pointed to Christ, the culmination, Jesus said in Luke 24, that everything that was written about the Scriptures was pointing to me.

Well, if you take Christ out of it, everything crumbles to nothingness. And so Christ, by virtue of being incarnate deity, is far greater than the prophets, therefore we heed him. Not that his ministry was in contrast to the prophets or contradicted it, but it was the fulfillment of it. You follow, watch this, the prophets were pointing with their fingers ahead. And when you follow the finger, you follow the line of direction and say, oh, there is Christ in all of his glory. And the prophet then withdraws his hand, as it were, and says, that's the whole point.

You see the culmination and the fulfillment of that of which I spoke. Think about the transfiguration in the Gospels. Peter said, Lord, let's build a temple for you and the other two, for Moses and Elijah. God covers him up with a cloud, says, this is my beloved son, listen to him. And the clouds withdrawn and they see Christ alone. And so the point of the prophets was to point to Christ. And as we see Christ, we realize his greater excellence in that way. Now, as you move on in the argument of Hebrews, the writer makes the point that Christ is more excellent than angels. That's point number two if you're following along, Christ is more excellent than angels.

Look at verse four with me. What are angels? They're created spiritual beings.

Mighty, magnificent, supra-mundane powers. So great that even in the New Testament, the Apostle John was tempted to fall down in worship. So great was the angel in front of him. What the angel said was, don't do that, worship Christ alone. Well, the book of Hebrews makes this point and shows how Christ is more excellent than angels.

Look at verse four. As it goes, having become, speaking about Christ, Christ has become as much better than the angels as he has inherited a more excellent name than they. There were strains of Jewish thought that were preoccupied with angels and how great angels were. And whenever you hear anybody talking that way, especially in charismatic circles today, and they want to magnify angels and, oh, I saw an angel, you can understand and know for certain that they are missing the point completely. Why would you focus on an angel when Christ is here? This is the argument of the writer of Hebrews, and he goes on to say, he goes on and he proves his point by quoting from the Old Testament. And in verse five he says, for, in order to support my statement that Christ is more excellent than angels, he says, to which of the angels did he ever say, you are my son, today I have begotten you. And again, I will be a father to him and he shall be a son to me. God the Father looks at Christ and says, this is my beloved son. He never said that to an angel. He never would.

Why? Because angels are of an infinitely lower order than the son is. And he proves the point further in verse six. He says, and when he again brings the firstborn into the world, he says, let all the angels of God worship him. You can see the superiority of Christ to angels because God tells the angels to worship his son.

He is superior to them. And that's why they are commanded to worship the more excellent one, Jesus. And therefore, the point of this is, is that you should not be drawn to a preoccupation with angels or those spiritual beings in a spiritual realm. As fascinating as fiction books might make them seem to be, they were never intended to be the preoccupation and the object of faith of the people of God.

It was always about Christ, Christ and him alone. And that's why even the angels are called upon to worship the son. And in the greatness of the son, you leave in your mind the preoccupation with angels behind. This all being drawn to make the point that Jesus is the more excellent one than anyone else could ever or possibly be. So, beloved, you have in Christ one who is above the prophets.

You have in Christ one who is above the angels. Now look at verse 13. He makes this point in comparison with the angels in a negative way. He says, to which of the angels has he ever said, sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet. He said that to Christ.

He said that to his son. He never said that to an angel. And therefore, isn't it obvious, isn't it obvious that the object of our faith should be the Lord Jesus Christ, not a lesser being? Verse 14, he says, are they not all ministering spirits, speaking of angels, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation? He tells us in passing what angels are and what they do, but it's in the context of the great superiority of Christ to them. And so we look past angels.

We don't preoccupy ourselves with angels because something infinitely greater, of much greater value than them, is present before our mind, and that greater one is the most lovely and the most excellent and the high and glorious one, the Lord Jesus Christ. Now, having made that point, he applies the significance of it to his readers and applies it in a way that each and every one of you in this room needs to pay close attention to as he does. You have before you in Scripture, you have presented to you the highest one, the firstborn of the universe, meaning he has the highest rank of them all. What do you do with that?

You should be asking yourself, what do I do with that? Well, the writer of Hebrews applied it to his readers and said this, chapter 2, verse 1, for this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard so that we do not drift away from it. Here's his argument, here's his point, here's the flow of his thought. He says, this excellent Christ is better than prophets and he's better than angels, and this is the one that has been proclaimed to you. Therefore, you should pay attention to Christ! And he supports that point in verse 2. He says, for if the words spoken through angels proved unalterable, his point being, you can see this in Acts 7 and in Galatians 3, that somehow the angels were involved in the giving of the law through Moses.

And he says in verse 2, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty. Watch this. Stay with me here. This is also very, very important.

Or we wouldn't be talking about it. His point and his argument is this. Christ is greater than angels, but the angels were involved somehow in the giving of the law of Moses. And in that law, delivered by angels, every act of disobedience, every sin, every transgression, was subject to severe punishment from God. This is the law given by angels.

And there were penalties attached for disobedience to the law given and delivered by angels. We'll have to pause there for today, but Pastor Don Green will have part 2 of his message, Jesus, the More Excellent One, next time on The Truth Pulpit. And we hope you'll join us then.

Right now, though, Don's back in studio with a special resource offer. Well, my friend, I am committed to the dynamic of verbal preaching. I love to preach and speak. I think there's a dynamic when a preacher opens the Word of God to hearers that the audio component of that is a means that God uses greatly in the lives of those who hear.

But I also understand that sometimes you want to go back and study what was said more closely. We have transcripts of all of my full-length sermons available on our website. And I would encourage you to go there to find them and to be able to study the messages more closely through the written Word, as you've also enjoyed it through the spoken Word. Thanks, Don. And friend, to find those and all our resources, just visit thetruthpulpit.com. Again, that's thetruthpulpit.com. I'm Bill Wright, inviting you back next time as Don Green continues to teach God's people God's Word in The Truth Pulpit.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-18 00:57:34 / 2022-12-18 01:06:42 / 9

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