Today on Summit Life with Jiddy Greer. The subject of faith dominates this book. Faith is not something you always feel in the present moment. Faith is acting in a way now that you know one day you're going to be glad you did.
Faith is acting in a way right now that you're going to know one day you are glad that you did. Welcome back to Summit Life with pastor, author, and theologian, Jiddy Greer. As always, I'm your host Molly Bitovitch, and you picked a great day to join us. We're starting a new teaching series in the book of Hebrews called Christ is Better. This is a complex and complicated book, but it's overflowing with rich and vibrant truth that'll change your life and it'll help you draw closer to Jesus Christ. And today we're also offering a new resource to go along with our teaching.
So stick around for more information about a valuable study coming your way. So let's get started on this journey through Hebrews with a message pastor Jiddy titled God's Final Word. So if you have your Bible, I would invite you to take it out and to open it to the book of Hebrews.
Hebrews is about two-thirds of the way through the New Testament. I will use this opportunity of us beginning a new series to invite you, if you don't already do this, to begin what Christians call a quiet time with God, which for the record is one of the dumbest names that Christians have ever come up with. Quiet time, it sounds like you're in trouble, like you're sitting there and God's getting to yell at you or something, but quiet time just means a daily time that you set aside to spend with God, talking to him, hearing from him, reading his word. I would encourage you to, in fact, hear me out on this one, I would encourage you to set aside 45 minutes a day at some point during the day that you could do this. Now, what I'm about to say next, I actually am a little torn about saying, but I'm going to go ahead and say it anyway. If you're like, I just can't do 45 minutes. See, part of me wants to berate you and ask you what in the world you think is so important that you can't spend 45 minutes with God. That's part of me. But then another part of me is going to tell you, that's fine, just do 20 minutes, right?
Then start with 20 minutes, start somewhere, and just let it grow out from there. 10 minutes in the Bible, 10 minutes in prayer. Why not use this series as a catalyst to begin what will become the most important spiritual discipline that you've ever engaged in, okay?
All right? All right, so book of Hebrews, here we go. The theme of the book of Hebrews is that Christ is better.
Christ is better. The letter to the Hebrews, and that's what it is, a letter to a group of churches, is birthed and a concern. The writer of Hebrews wants to urge these people that he's writing to to go all the way with Jesus. You see, these people had had this initial conversion experience, but then things got tough. Some of them, if you read the book, you'll see they're facing some pretty severe persecution.
Their loved ones are suffering. They had friends who were departing the faith. And of course, you know, there's just the normal temptations that they went through, and then they discovered this whole set of things that were really difficult to believe, and they were like, wait a minute, you know, I mean, you know, we're okay with the Jesus loves you and wants to take you to heaven, but, you know, now, I mean, you're talking about, nobody believes these kind of things that you're talking about. That's difficult, and I'm having a hard time with that. And so they were like, you know, wait a minute. This was supposed to be a lot easier than this. This was supposed to be a lot easier.
It wasn't supposed to be this hard, and they're starting to lag behind. Now, some of you know exactly what that's like, don't you? Don't you? If you're honest, some of you, many of you in here are struggling with faith. You know, you thought you would accept Jesus, and then everything would just become peace and love and groovy vibes, right? If you're a single girl, then Mr. Wright would just, you know, come swooping in, riding on his white horse, the perfect blend of toughness and tenderness, kind of like an ultimate fighting Jesus or something like that.
You know, and he would just sweep you away, and you guys would, you know, go to bed every night after he strums, you know, Chris Tomlin tunes on the harp he keeps beside his bed, and you would wake up with visions of rapture now bursting on your side, and you'd be always filled with the Spirit and overflowing with joy. But that's not happening, is it, for some of you? I mean, for some of you, your marriage partner doesn't seem to be getting any better. You thought you were going to win them over, and they were going to, you know, it was all going to start being okay, but now, if anything, they seem dead set against frustrating you spiritually. And temptations for you are getting more tempting, not less tempting. You're like, you're all about, you know, temptations, like, lose their power, turn your eyes on Jesus, you know, the things of earth will grow strangely. They're not getting dimmer to me. They're getting more appealing for some of you. And you're like, you know, it's harder to walk with God, or you're lonely.
How about that one? You're lonely. You're like, I'm still, I thought I was supposed to find this community, and it's just hard to feel close to God when you're lonely. It really is. It's hard to feel close to God when you're lonely or you're in pain.
And I don't care what anybody says, it is hard to feel spiritual when you are in pain. And you start lagging behind, right? And that's what this book is about. It has one basic message. The writer is saying to these people, don't give up because Christ is better.
Go all the way with him. The subject of faith dominates this book. Faith is not something you always feel in the present moment. Faith is acting in a way now that you know one day you're going to be glad you did. Faith is acting in a way right now that you're going to know one day you are glad that you did, and that's what this book is all about.
Now, one word of warning before we dive in. This is a very difficult book. William Barclay, a scholar I refer to a lot, calls this book the most difficult book in the entire New Testament.
William Lane, another scholar I consult a lot, agrees. He says, but if you will press into this book, it will become one of the most rewarding books in the whole Bible, and I very much agree with that. You know, honestly, we're not even sure who wrote this. People are like, oh, it's Barnabas.
You know, other people are like, what's Apollos? Because he was eloquent, the Bible says, and this book is pretty eloquent. Other people are like, no, no, no, it's got to be Paul because it's got Pauline theology all over it. Some people are like, no, it's not Paul. It's got to be Luke. It's got to be Timothy.
Honestly, we don't know. Origen, the church father in the third century said, we have not the foggiest idea who wrote this book, and if he didn't know in the third century, I don't think I'm going to figure it out in the 21st century. What we do know is that this book came out of the apostolic community and that it was regarded as authoritative from the very beginning in the church.
All right, so with that as an introduction, Hebrews chapter 1 verse 1, let's look at how the writer introduces the whole book. Long ago, long ago he says that many times and in many ways God spoke to our fathers by the prophets. Think about all the ways that God spoke in the Old Testament. God revealed himself through visions and dreams. He delivered messages through angels. He spoke in audible voices or he whispered out of whirlwinds. He wrote on walls.
He appeared in burning bushes. He inspired worship songs and pippy one-liners, the book of Proverbs. He put messages in the mouths of donkeys.
He even inspired a book of erotic poetry, the Song of Solomon. All these ways that God spoke, various ways and times past, verse 2, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his son in Greek. For those of you that have your Greek New Testament out there, that whole group of you that have it open, all right, you will notice it says literally in son. He got it spoken to us in son.
That's not a great English translation, but that is exactly what he is saying. The previous prophets had given the Word of God, you see. Jesus was the Word of God. He didn't just speak by his son. He spoke in his son. Jesus was himself the Word of God. He was the imperfect embodiment of the message of the Father.
Notice that little phrase, in these last days. This is the last revelatory act. You see, you would kind of think of God's revelation coming in three major acts.
First one, you've got creation. God creates the world, gives instructions, right, and then you've got the second act, which would be Israel, where God reveals himself through Abraham and his descendants and through all these prophets. Then you've got a third act, which he's talking about here, which is where the son himself reveals God. That's the final act.
That's going to be really helpful. That little phrase when you're talking to, say, a Mormon or a Muslim who wants to tell you that there's been another act that came later where some other prophet came along and kind of gave the real message of God. They're like, yeah, yeah, yeah, Jesus was great, but the real one was Muhammad in the seventh century. Or the real one was Joseph Smith when he showed up and the angel Moroni gave him some glasses and gold plates and cleared everything up.
The writer of Hebrews would say, absolutely not. In these last days, he's spoken to us by his son. That was the last revelation God gave to us. Now, some of you, you know, are like, wait a minute, what about the apostles? They were after Jesus. Yeah, but the apostles were not called prophets. They were called witnesses.
And that's very important. Because prophets are telling you something new, witnesses are simply telling you what has already been said. And so the witnesses to Jesus, the apostles, are merely clarifying and reporting what Jesus had revealed. In these last days, God spoke by his son. Verse 2 again, whom he appointed the heir of all things, the heir of all things. Now the writer starts to show you how Jesus is superior to the prophets. The first thing he says is Jesus is the heir.
Heir, of course, means the one that it's all coming to. The writer says, gee, all the prophets, they were just servants. All the angels were servants. But Jesus was the one it was all prepared for.
Everything that God created, everything God did on earth, all of it was for Jesus. You see, the prophets were pointing to something, Jesus was the one they were pointing to. He was the point. He's always been the point.
Through whom? Also, he created the world and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. Now think about that as a distinction between the prophets.
Which of the other prophets would you ever say that about right there? I mean, he created everything you see. Your body, the universe. I mean, sometimes I get overwhelmed, right? I think you've probably experienced this too. You get overwhelmed just thinking about the size of the universe. You ever catch yourself outside on like a clear, starry night and you look up and you just have one of those feelings where like, you know, it's just so big and you start to feel so small and there's something incredible about that feeling.
I mean, some of you are proud that you constructed your own back deck on the back of your house or you built your own company, you know, you manage your own portfolio or you wrote a book. Big whooping hairy deal, right? I mean, he created the universe and he holds it all together by the word of his power. His creation is on a slightly different plane than any of yours. Our God is so big.
Remember that song as a kid? A truth to cling to as you go about your day today. We'll get right back to today's teaching with Pastor JD in just a moment. But first, let me tell you about a daily email devotional that's available to our Summit Life family. I know we all get spammed with lots of stuff that we simply don't care about, but this is one that you'll not only come to appreciate, but actually experience growth from as a result. The devotionals even follow along with our current teaching here on the program so you can stay plugged into these messages regardless of your schedule.
To sign up for this free resource, visit us at jdgrier.com slash resources. You can also learn more about our brand new monthly resource available starting today when you visit. Thanks for being with us. Now let's get back to the final moments of today's message. Here's Pastor JD.
Verse three. He is the radiance of the glory of God. When you think about when you look at the sun, you see this radiance that's so bright that it hurts your eyes.
Last Sunday after I went home from church, I started to watch one of the many nerd channels that I frequent, and there was a special on the sun. And the sun is this high density, high pressure ball of energy where these atoms fuse together and they emit this radiance of heat and light. And so 93 million miles away, it can still burn our skin.
Or if we got closer, it would just torch the whole planet. That's the word that he chooses for Jesus. Looking at Jesus was like looking at the radiance of God's glory.
It makes you ask a question as you're reading through this. How did Jesus not kill us all when he was here? I mean, every time in the Old Testament somebody saw God, they died. Standing in the presence of God with sin is like a tissue paper touching the surface of the sun.
That's not gonna go well. But here Jesus is, he shows up, but he doesn't kill everybody. He heals people. He is the radiance of God's glory.
I'll come back to that. He is the exact imprint of his nature. Everything that God was, Jesus was.
Everything. So when you see Jesus, you see God. He's giving you incredible insight into the Trinity, by the way.
Yeah, I told you a few weeks ago, the best analogy for the Trinity that I've ever heard is the word analogy, which John the Apostle uses, and which is really what the writer of Hebrews is drawing on here. You know, the word, you know, I told you just like this. When I'm up here talking to you, I'm having thoughts in my mind, and then I am putting them into words in English, and then my vocal cords are vibrating the air and carrying those words to your ears. So in one sense, you got three separate things. You got thoughts, you got words, and you got vibrations. But you would never separate those because they're all one and the same.
They're all the process of you hearing me. Jesus was the word of the Father. He was the perfect expression of the Father so that in hearing him, you hear God, and you would never separate those. The other two analogies he draws on here are saying exactly the same thing. He is radiance. He is the exact imprint of God's nature.
You see, the whole point that he's making is this. Jesus is God, and to hear Jesus is to hear God, which means that when you hear somebody say, I'm into God but not into Jesus, what are you talking about? I mean, you can't separate the Son from its radiance. You can't separate my thoughts from my words.
I love to hear J.D. talk. I just don't like his words. What?
It doesn't make any sense. Jesus was the word of God. The point that he's making here is essentially this. Jesus was of a fundamentally different nature than any other prophet in that he didn't just give the word of God, he was the word of God. Verse 4. I know I skipped a verse.
I'm coming back. Verse 4. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs. For to which of the angels did God ever say, you're my son, and today I have begotten you?
Or again, I will be to him a father, and he will be to me a son. Now, you notice quotes around those phrases, right? Because they're quotes from the Old Testament. In this case, the first one is from Psalm 2. The second one is from 2 Samuel 7. That is the first two of 69 different quotes in the book of Hebrews to the Old Testament.
Now, here's the thing. Sometimes people read this quote, and they go back to the place where it was quoted in the Old Testament, and they read that section, follow me, and they say, now, wait a minute. Obviously, the writer in 2 Samuel 7 was not talking about Jesus.
He was talking about somebody else. That's what you find in 2 Samuel 7. Clearly, the writer there is talking about David's son, Solomon. Let me teach you something about how the New Testament writers understood the Old Testament. Luke chapter 24, Jesus had been raised from the dead, and he takes a couple of his disciples and walks down the road with them, and he explains to them how every story, every verse, every proverb, everything in the Old Testament was ultimately about him.
Now, that happened in two major ways. The first way is what we call direct prophecy, where the writer is speaking specifically of the Messiah and gives a prophecy that is only about him. There, I'm thinking of like Micah 5, 2, where it says the Messiah will be born in Bethlehem. I'm thinking of Genesis 48, where it says he'll come out of the tribe of Judah, Isaiah 53, that he'll be crucified, and have his hands and his feet pierced, Psalm 22. Those are direct prophecies. But then there's a whole other set of prophecies in the Old Testament that are shadows and stories that Jesus would ultimately fulfill. You see, these things in the Old Testament, all these stories are like shadows that point you to Jesus.
They would give you a partial picture. Jesus would give you the full one. Solomon was like that. David's son Solomon was a man of world-renowned wisdom who would build a beautiful temple where the glory of God would dwell. But Solomon would also be foolish, marry 700 women, his temple would end up being robbed, plundered, and torn down. God's ultimate son, however, Jesus, would be the real temple of God where God would dwell among us permanently. And even when he was torn down, he raised from the dead so that God could dwell with us forever. Solomon gave you a dim picture of the Son of God who built a temple. Jesus was the fulfillment of that picture because he was the Son in the temple himself. So, see, the author sees in that story and every Old Testament story sketches and pictures and shadows that Jesus would one day embody in fullness. So he says, Jesus is superior to all prophets and all angels because while they were only messengers, he was the message. They gave the Word of God, he was the Word of God. They were the servants, he was the heir. They told us what the creator wanted, he was the creator himself.
All right? There's more. Go back to verse three. Verse three, after making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the majesty on high.
Now comes the really amazing thing. Not only was Jesus of a fundamentally different nature than the other prophets, the kind of ministry he had was of a fundamentally different kind. You see, other prophets gave instructions about what we must do to be reconciled to God. Jesus, on the other hand, did a work on our behalf. He did for us what we could not do for ourselves, namely, made purification for sins, and then it says he sat down.
You sit down when there's nothing left to do. The Jewish people had a sacrifice system to cover over their sins. It was a great picture of what Jesus would do, but it was never complete. Sacrifices were offered daily.
Each family had to participate at least yearly. The priest was always standing by the altar. Imagine what that altar looked like after hundreds of thousands of animals' blood had been spilled on it over 100 years.
There's hundreds of years. Jesus offered himself one time for all as the perfect sacrifice for sins, and then he sat down, which no priest was ever allowed to do around the altar. He sat down. Why?
Because there's nothing left to do. He had made purifications for sins forever, and it was done. So this first chapter basically has one point. Christ is superior to all prophets, all angels, and any other spiritual authority, and in case you kind of miss it, let me just give you the two reasons, because I know some of you type A people are like, just give me what to write down, all right?
Here's what you should write down. Number one, prophets and angels gave the Word of God. Jesus was the Word of God. That to which the prophets pointed faultily, Jesus embodied perfectly. It's always, church, it's always, all the stories, it's always been about him. Tim Keller says it this way.
Look at this. Jesus is the truer and better Adam, who passed the test in the garden and whose obedience is now imputed to us. Jesus was the truer and better Isaac, who was not just offered up by his father on the mount, he was actually sacrificed for us. Jesus is the truer and better Moses, who stands in the gap between the people and the Lord, and who mediates a new and better covenant. Jesus is the truer and better Job, the truly innocent sufferer who intercedes for his stupid friends. Jesus is the truer and better David, whose victory over the giant of death became ours, even though we never lifted a stone to help him. Jesus is the truer and better Samson, crushed under the weight of the wicked world to conquer our enemies and to save us. He is the truer and better Jonah, who is cast out into the storm so that we could be brought in. He's the real Passover lamb, innocent, perfect, helpless, slain so that the angel of death could pass over us.
He's the true temple, he's the true temple, the true prophet, the true priest, the true king, the true sacrifice, the true lamb, the true light, the true bread. In the end, the Bible's really not all about you, it's about him. It's always been about him, and that affects how you read the Bible. I told you before that we read a lot of the Bible, especially the Old Testament, incorrectly. We read these stories of the Bible as if they're a collection of hero tales that give us people that we should try to emulate.
Remember maybe your Sunday school days? Oh, you should follow God like Abraham. Abraham left everything and went out to follow God, you should do that. Or defeat your giants like David did.
How many sermons I heard like that one? Oh yeah, you got all the giants in your life, well look what David did, you can conquer your giants that way. Or how about you should lead like Nehemiah, lead like Nehemiah. Nehemiah was a great leader, that's what God gave us so we could all learn from him. Dare to be a Daniel, dare to be a Daniel. You pray on your lunch break like Daniel did and see if you get thrown in the lion's den, that's right, you dare to be a Daniel.
And that's all well and good to an extent, but there are a lot of things about these guys, these men and women that you don't want to emulate, right? Moses had a pretty ferocious temper. Abraham had a habit of lying in tough situations about his wife. At least twice in Abraham's life somebody says, hey, I'd like to marry her. And Abraham was scared because the guy was really powerful, he's like, I don't know, I think she's my sister.
Yeah, she's my sister, you can have her. I mean that's not the kind of thing I would commend to you men. David committed adultery, then he lied about it and murdered somebody to cover it up. At the end of his life, Nehemiah lost control and went Jack Bauer on everybody. Says he got so mad that he took the leaders of Israel and ripped out their beards and pulled their clothes off.
That's not the kind of thing I want you to emulate in the workplace. So yeah, there are a lot about these guys that you might want to emulate, but there's a lot of things you don't want to emulate and that's because the prophets are not given to you primarily as examples to emulate, they're given to you to point you to a savior, to hope you to hope in and adore. You've picked a great day to join us here on Summit Life with J.D.
Greer. This is the first message in a teaching series on the book of Hebrews called Christ is Better. Join us each day at this time, and if you miss any of Pastor J.D. 's teaching, you can download the audio files and even find the transcripts free of charge at jdgreer.com. Pastor J.D., I know we're getting started in this study, but it already seems to me like one of the main points we'll learn from the book of Hebrews is don't give up.
Yeah, Molly, that is exactly right. And by the way, I've heard some recordings of some things that you've been teaching here in our women's ministry, and I think we need to get you in this podcast soon. But it is true, as we walk through the book of Hebrews, we see that this is a book of the Bible that is written to people whose faith in Jesus was lagging. Some of that was the difficulty of their surroundings, wondering why God wasn't delivering them more quickly or just walking through pain or sometimes just through a time when it seems like God almost feels absent.
I'd say that many of us today struggle with some of those same feelings, and we find it harder and harder to maintain this robust faith in God that He is active, that He's working, and that His goodness is just flowing into our lives. So to help us as we daily seek to walk with God, we've got a Bible study to drive home that Jesus and Jesus alone is worthy of our trust and our devotion. We want every chapter of the book of Hebrews to challenge and to encourage you.
And so this study is designed to take you deeper into the chapter so that you're hearing the Bible taught, but then you're also being able to examine it for yourself and let the Holy Spirit give you additional insight and help apply the concepts that you're learning to your life so that your life changes. When you give, we'll send you our brand new Bible study that follows right along with this teaching series. It comes with our thanks when you donate to support this ministry. The suggested giving level is $35 or more. And remember, every penny you donate is used to advance the gospel through this ministry. Give today and ask for your copy of Christ is Better when you call us at 866-335-5220. It's even easier to give on our website. Just go to jdgrier.com.
I'm Molly Benovitch. Have a great weekend of worship and be sure to join us again next week as we continue our new teaching series right here on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
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