Today on Summit Life with J.D.
Greer. Deeply embedded in the Hebrew memory was their experience as nomads when they wandered for years in the wilderness after they left Egypt. They left Egypt in search of a promised land, where they could settle, where they could raise their children in peace and prosperity. Well, in a sense, the writer says, we're all searching for a city like that, aren't we? For a place of permanence, peace, prosperity, fulfillment. Welcome back to another week of Christ-centered, biblically-based, practical teaching here on Summit Life with pastor, author, and theologian, J.D. Greer.
As always, I'm your host, Molly Vidovitch. One thing I've learned is that people want security, but the truth is we're usually looking for it in all the wrong places. Today, pastor J.D. Greer describes the only true source for peace of mind, and it's not found in burglar alarms or home insurance.
These things are good, but they won't last. Eternal security is only found in one place and Hebrews calls it a kingdom that cannot be shaken. That's where pastor J.D.
got the title for today's message, Finding the Unshakeable City. Let's get started. Here's pastor J.D. If you've got your Bible today, I want you to take it and open it to Hebrews chapter 12. There has been one driving theme throughout the book of Hebrews, and that is that you find an anchor for your faith. It's like I've explained to you each week, the people that the writer is addressing are in a storm of doubt, and they are struggling because faith for them is difficult. Persecution that they're encountering is severe. Temptations are acute. They've got unanswered prayers.
They've got unanswered questions. And what he starts to do is tie up all these things that he has brought out in the book of Hebrews. In the text that was read earlier, you heard the image of searching for a city, searching for a kingdom.
That's the image that the writer has used throughout Hebrews, especially in these final chapters. It's a metaphor that he is using for what we are all doing with our lives, searching for a city. You see, a city to these people represented a place of safety, a place of permanence, and a place of prosperity.
Deeply embedded in the Hebrew memory was their experience as nomads when they wandered for years in the wilderness after they left Egypt. They left Egypt in search of a promised land, a promised land with a city that would belong to them, where they could settle, where they could raise their children in peace and prosperity, a city where they could dwell forever. Well, in a sense, the writer says, we're all searching for a city like that, aren't we? Well, aren't we searching for a place of permanence, peace, prosperity, fulfillment? So this idea of searching for a city is something he uses for all of us because that's really what we all are doing.
We're searching for that. So what he does is he does three things with that in the last chapter, three things with that image. The first thing he does is he asks you to consider what your city is and whether or not it is shakable. Then he shows you, secondly, the results of Jesus being your city. And then thirdly, he warns you about some small things that can totally destroy your city.
So that's how we're going to proceed this morning. You're going to ask, what is your city and is it shakable? Number two, what happens when Jesus is your city? And then lastly, the things that can destroy your city.
So here we go. Number one, what is your city and is it shakable? What is your primary source, in other words, of permanence, security, and peace? What are the things you most look to to provide you with permanence, security, fulfillment, and peace? Your answers to this question is what drives you.
What is your city? The invitation of Hebrews is to make God your primary source of these things. That he would be your primary security. That he would become your identity, your fulfillment. That he be the foundation of your city so that in him you have the peace and permanence and fulfillment that you crave whether or not you have those secondary things like the job and the bank account and the marriage and the children. So to that end, he gives you two warnings. The first one is in verse 26.
Look at this. Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens. I will shake not only the earth, I'm going to shake the heavens. There are two ways that you can shake something and have two different meanings, right? One thing is you can shake it up like you make it exciting like a party or a Mountain Dew bottle or something like that. The other way that you shake is when you remove like an earthquake where everything that's not tied into the foundation gets removed. The way you would shake out a blanket, you know, to get rid of the debris and stuff on it.
That's the kind of shaking he's talking about, that latter kind. And that is happening all around us, is it not? When the stock market crashed in 2008, there were these, this string of suicides among Wall Street executives, people who'd made more money in a year than most of us would ever make in a lifetime. The acting chief financial officer of Freddie Mac hanged himself in his basement.
A senior executive with the HSBC bank hanged himself in the wardrobe of his $750 a night suite in Knightsbridge, London. Many of you have gone through maybe, you know, not something that involved $1.4 billion, but you've lost your job. Your marriage is starting to fall apart. You lost your retirement. Something happened and you got shaken. Sometimes it happens through disease. Some of you know how the entire outlook of your life suddenly changes in a matter of seconds when a doctor walks into an office and tells you that your wife has breast cancer.
The ultimate shaking, of course, is death. Luke chapter 12, Jesus told a story about a man who truly had nothing to worry about, at least by our estimation. His business was going so well that the only problem he had was the barns he had to keep all of his treasures in were too small.
So he had to tear down his barns and build bigger barns. It's kind of like the bank calling you up and being like, hey, we are out of room for your money. We got to have a bigger bank.
That would be a nice change to get a call from a bank like that, would it not? As opposed to, you, sir, you are over drawn. You'd be like, we are out of room for your money. That was this guy's only problem.
His family all lived around him and, you know, they all loved him and he had everything he'd ever hoped for and he's got the retirement, he's got the kids, he's got everything. Jesus said, God looks at him at night and says, you fool. You fool because tonight you're going to die and not a thing that you have surrounded yourself with is going to accompany you.
Your soul and where it stands with me is the only thing that matters and you are not prepared for that and you are entering into eternity stripped bare of everything. Then he leads you to a second thing, verse 29, a second warning. You see where he says our God is a consuming fire? That's a common image for God throughout the Bible and the Bible uses that image to give us a picture of God burning away everything that is impure or unclean, consuming it. You know, that is a sobering reality for me because that means that everything that I have accomplished, the things that people look and say, wow, you have done this or that, the question becomes with God is what was the motive for doing that?
Was that done for the honor and glory of God or was it done for the honor and glory of JD? Because you might be impressed with something that God knows that it wasn't about thy kingdom come, it was about my kingdom come. On that day, every single action we have done, every motive we have had is tested before the all-consuming eye of God and it's like my father used to tell me, a phrase that I remember from childhood, only one life to live will soon be passed, only what's done for Christ will last. That day, if this is true, that day is the most important one in your entire eternity. Everything is shaken, everything. Everything goes through the fire.
Are you ready for that day? God is shaking and will shake the earth and he is a purifying fire. He's shaking some of you right now and I know that some of you may not understand exactly why he is doing it but I'm telling you, it is mercy in your life because he's trying to wake you up. You see, if your life is built on a faulty foundation, then it is God's kindness to show you that before it is too late. For some of you, God is shaking you now.
Your marriage has fallen apart, your bank account just got rocked. Your health is deteriorating and that is mercy to you. It's mercy because you have falsely trusted in these things and God is shaking them. He is arousing you out of slumber to show you that the only foundation that will survive that final shaking and the consuming fire is the foundation of Jesus Christ. And if you use this chapter of difficulty, if you use this chapter of difficulty in your life to re-establish your trust in him, then the darkest chapter of your life could become the turning point of your eternity and the greatest moments you ever had on earth.
That is how God takes tragedy and turns it into triumph because he uses tragedy sometimes to wake you up, to show you that everything that you build your life on apart from him ultimately falls apart. Here's the second thing. When Jesus is your city, right?
So who is your city? And then secondly, when Jesus is your city. In the middle of this passage, the writer goes off on what almost seems like a tangent. He starts talking about Moses and a smoking mountain and you're like, what? There's a purpose that he says those things and that is a very key thing that he puts out there because what he's trying to show you is he's trying to show you why Jesus is the only real lasting city.
Follow this. They've left Egypt in search of a city, a city that God will give them. Here they come to the promised land and here is the presence of God and the dilemma is how do we find the permanence and joy and fulfillment that only comes from knowing God and living in his land if we're too sinful to even be in his presence?
So they lived in a state of fear. What if we haven't been good enough? You're listening to Summit Life with Pastor J.D.
Greer and we'll return to our teaching in just a moment. As we walk through Hebrews together each day, we're noticing that it's a book of the Bible written to people whose faith in Jesus was lagging. Many of us still struggle with the same problems they did as we find it harder and harder to walk with God consistently each day. To help grow our faith and follow him more deeply, we're offering a 10-part Bible study this month meant to drive home the fact that Jesus is worthy of our trust and devotion. We want each chapter of the book of Hebrews to challenge and encourage you. Receive this study guide as our thanks for your gift to the ministry right now.
So give us a call at 866-335-5220 or check it out at jdgreer.com. Now let's get back to today's teaching. Here's Pastor J.D.
Even for those of you who aren't particularly religious, this is deep so hang with me, all right? Ultimately what you are most searching for in all of your pursuits of life, what you're searching for is a kind of divinity. You want ultimate satisfaction.
You want a security that can't be taken away. You're looking for a pleasure that fully satisfies. Well as you approach whatever mountain or whatever city represents your ultimate satisfaction, be that family, be that job, be that retirement, whatever. Whenever you approach that you encounter the same dilemma. What if you're not good enough to obtain what you need? What if you fail? What if something takes it away? What if you don't make the grade? What if you lose the sale? What if your body gets sick? What if your retirements tank? What if your family members start making bad decisions that you can't control?
What if your husband gets seduced by some sleazy girl at work and you can't do anything about it and your marriage falls apart through no fault of your own? And what happens is your life begins to be dominated by fear, worry. You worry all the time about about what's going to happen. Jealousy begins to to be a major part of of your life. You're looking at people who have what you want and you think you deserve. Bitterness. When you don't get what you think you deserve or what you've always wanted and you feel like you're powerless to get it.
Self-doubt. The same emotions they felt there as they approach that mountain or what you feel. Jesus, the writer says, is the better city because he's the only sure city. Look at this, verse 22, that you have come to Mount Zion to the city of the living God, to the heavenly Jerusalem, to Jesus, verse 24. You see, Jesus' crucifixion bore an eerie similarity. An eerie similarity to Mount Sinai.
Jesus' crucifixion occurred on top of a small mountain. There was darkness all around just like there was on that mountain that he's referring to. The rocks split. There was an earthquake. There was lightning and thunder. Lightning flashed and thunder rolled. He was absorbing. Jesus was absorbing the judgment of the sinful people in the presence of a holy God.
We had crossed the perimeter. We had violated God's holiness. But instead of us being struck dead for it, Jesus was struck dead for it. So that now when we approach God, we do so without fear because anything that I could ever make God reject me was put upon Jesus and he was rejected for me. He took my sin and I was given his righteousness. He was shaken for me.
So that now my foundation is absolutely secure. It is unshakable because my foundation is his righteousness. Verse 24, to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
Oh, what a great phrase. You remember the story of Cain and Abel in the Bible? So Cain kills his brother, Abel. And God says, Cain, where's your brother? Cain's like, I don't know.
And God says, what do you mean you don't know? Cain, his blood cries out to me from the ground for vengeance. Your murdered brother's blood is crying out to me from the ground saying you have sinned and I must avenge it. We murdered Jesus. But his blood cries out from the ground not for our vengeance.
His blood cries out for our forgiveness. The Gospel gives you God and all of his blessings and all of his promises as a gift. Not because you deserve them but because Christ has purchased them for you. Because Christ was shaken for you. Because Christ took the vengeance for you. They're not given to you according to your merits but they're given to you as a gift of grace which is so counter intuitive for us that that's why many of you have never understood the Gospel.
In most of life you get what you deserve but not this one. Because we could never deserve the acceptance of God. We could never deserve the city of God.
So God gives it to us as a gift purchased by Christ not as a reward for what we have earned. See the ways that you have tried to attain divinity, the ways that you have tried to secure a city of permanence and fulfillment and peace have left you insecure and unstable and fearful. But when Jesus is your city, when Jesus and his gift righteousness are your city, the writer of Hebrews says, it gives you the opposite of all those things. Instead of instability it gives you A, security. See verse 28, a city that cannot be shaken.
Your city is stable because the foundations of that city are the gift righteousness of Christ and the unchangeable promises of God. Instead of worry it gives you B, unbounded joy. Unbounded joy. See verse 22 where it says innumerable angels and festal gathering. Some of you are like I don't know what that means. Scholars say you could really read that angels and party clothes.
Seriously. You come into the company a bunch of angels and party clothes. The foundation of that party is the foundation of that joy is the perfect love of God in Christ. It is a joy without fear. It is a joy without pain. It is a joy without worry because Christ has given us full acceptance through his blood. He has given us absolute security in his promises and he has given us full and final healing in his resurrection. So there is no reason in the presence of God to not have anything but overwhelming joy because all that you've ever hoped, all that you've ever dreamed, all that you were created for has been given to you in a way that can never be taken away. Instead of worry you have unbounded joy. Instead of the fear of terror you have the fear of worship.
See that's also verse 28. Worship and reverence in all. Some of your translations say fear. Worship and reverence in fear. This kind of fear is not the kind of fear that the Israelites felt before the mountain.
There's a contrast being set up. They were shaking because they were terrified. But remember in Christ we can't be shaken so he's not talking about a fear where you shake.
You shake in fear. This is a fear more like what a child fears or how a child feels about a good father. Kids have this thing where they think their daddy is the strongest person in the world.
My kids every once in a while make a statement to that effect. Ali, my seven-year-old the other day was like, daddy was Samson as strong as you? And I'm probably not, you know, but he was close. He was close.
By the way, I figured out when my nine-year-old, the honeymoon stage of fathering is totally over, my nine-year-old, we were watching the Olympics and there was some, you know, a male gymnast doing something. I was like, hey, you think I could do that? She was like, not a chance, dad. Not a chance. There ain't no way.
So we're out of that. But when kids are young, a child has a fear of their parent. But it's not a fear of terror. It's awe, yes, but it's combined with an incredible intimacy. That yes, they might think that I'm the strongest man in the world and they might be in awe of that, but it's combined with an intimacy that makes them run into my presence. Do you feel that way about God? Do you feel like he is so massively awesome, but you could run to him and call him daddy, that he feels your pain, that he cares about you? See, you were created for that kind of worship. You were created for awe mixed with intimacy. That's what you loved in your daddy if you had a good one and that's what you longed for in your daddy if you had a bad one.
But see, your earthly daddy was just a shadow, an echo of your heavenly daddy. So he shows you that these things that you most crave, security, stability, permanence, joy, awe, and intimacy, these things are only found in the city that is Jesus. He is the only God we're serving.
I love how Tim Keller says it. Jesus is the only God whom when you find him will satisfy you and when you fail him will forgive you. He's the only God that when you find him will satisfy you. All other gods, small g, when you actually find them, you end up finding they're not what you thought they would be and they're not nearly as stable as you thought they were so that money does not provide the enjoyment that you thought it would.
It doesn't provide the security you hoped it would. Your family, as awesome as they are, it just doesn't provide that permanence and fulfillment that sustains your soul. Jesus is the only God that when you find him will fulfill you and when you fail him, you see any other god, small g, that you serve when you fail it, it curses you.
Right? I mean, it says if you don't make the grade, you don't get the job, you don't get the bank account, then you're cursed, you're going to be poor, you're going to be miserable. Jesus is the only God that when you fail him, he took the curse for you so that acceptance is given not based on how well you did or how well you accomplished, it's given to you because he purchased it for you.
He's the only God that when you find him will satisfy you and when you fail him will forgive you. That's what happens when Jesus is your city. Here's the third thing. Here's what can destroy your city. Here's what can destroy your city. You see, in these verses, he warns you against several things that can erode your faith.
Now, here's the thing. Listen, they seem like pretty mundane things which I think is really significant because for most of you, listen, for most of you, the danger to your faith is not some big cataclysmic event, the danger is the slow gradual dulling of your heart toward God. You slowly lose your capacity for faith. Think of it like termites in your house. You know, you go for years and you're just not even thinking about it. You don't hear anything, you don't sense anything, then somebody comes to your house, does an inspection, and hands you a bill for $15,000 because all that time there was this thing that was just being eroded and there was irreparable damage being done to your house and you had no idea. What happens, the writer says, for most of you is not this major event, it's just the slow eroding of your capacity to see and perceive God. Here they are.
I think there are five total. Division, that's verse 14. Seek peace with all men. You see, division and strife have a way of making you forget all about Christ as your city because when you go through division, your pride gets riled up and you forget it's about Jesus, you think something is about you. A case in point right here, you know, I will leave this place, I will be full of the Spirit, I'll be totally in love with Jesus, somebody does the wrong thing to me out there in that road and it's not about Jesus anymore, it's all about me.
It just has a way of totally distracting you off of that city onto your own. To seek peace means that you are the first one to offer forgiveness even when you're the one that were wronged because it's not about avenging yourself, it's about glorifying Jesus. It means taking the towel like Christ did and you wash the feet of those in conflict with you. You want to renew your faith? You want to find out what it's really about for you?
Take the people that have offended you and that have bothered you and you go to them and you metaphorically wash their feet. You serve your enemies, you seek their blessing and that renews your commitment to Christ's city and takes the focus off of your own. A great example of someone whose treasure is set on the unshakeable city.
You're listening to Summit Life with J.D. Greer and a message from the book of Hebrews. So J.D., like you've said in your messages, we are prone to drift and when that happens we can lose sight of God's greater plan and purpose for our lives and that's one of the subjects of our resource this month. Yeah, you know the book of Hebrews doesn't promise us that everything's just going to go perfect in our lives.
It doesn't even promise us that we're going to live perfectly. In fact, it assumes that we're going to have lives that are filled with stumbling and mistakes and what it shows us is that Christ is better, that Christ is the hope that we have in the midst of difficulty. It shows us that that throughout the entire Old Testament the point was not the sacrifices and the laws and the heroes of the faith. The point was learning to hope and trust in Jesus.
You may look at some of these Old Testament heroes and think, I could never be like them, but what the book of Hebrews shows you is that the point is not to emulate their example, it's to hope in their Savior and that's something you can do. I think you'll find there's so much more in the book of Hebrews than you can even pick up just listening to me teach it. So as you listen I want to encourage you to go to jdgreer.com and get this Bible study we've called Christ is Better that'll help take you deeper into the message of Hebrews. Studying the Bible and driving it deep into your heart changes you and this resource will help you get the gospel, get the message of Hebrews deeper inside.
So go to jdgreer.com right now and reserve your copy today. We'll be glad to send you this brand new study to express our gratitude for your financial support. When you give a gift to Summit Life, you make it possible for us to deliver this daily Bible teaching to your radio station along with many other free resources on our website. We're adding more radio stations all the time and every new station means more people can hear this program, but every new station also means new expenses.
Unlike traditional radio, we don't make money from advertisements. We rely solely on God's people to help fund this mission. Donate by calling 866-335-5220. That's 866-335-5220.
And remember to ask for the Christ is Better study guide or you can always request it when you give online at jdgreer.com. If you'd rather mail your donation, our address is jdgreerministries p.o. box 122 93 Durham, North Carolina, 27709. I'm Molly Bidevich reminding you to join us again tomorrow as we continue exploring this unshakable city. We'll see you again Tuesday for Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
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