If you would turn in your Bibles please to the book of Hebrews chapter 1.
We are going to be looking at the first four verses in the book of Hebrews. Hear God's word for us tonight. Long ago, at many times, and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets. But in these last days He has spoke to us by His Son, whom He appointed the heir of all things, through whom also He created the world.
He is the radiance of the glory of God in the exact imprint of His nature, and He upholds the universe by the word of His power. After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name He has inherited is more excellent than theirs. Please be seated. Let's pray. Heavenly Father, as we come tonight to read Your Word, Your Word revealed. Lord God, we pray that the Holy Spirit teaches it. We pray that You declare Your Word through this pulpit, that You may be glorified, that Christ may be honored, and Lord, that we may be built up. And we give glory to You through Your Son by the strength of the Holy Spirit, and it's in Christ's name we pray.
Amen. You know, as we started to worship this evening, and we sang the first hymn, and then the second, and then heard the Scripture reading, and then the last hymn to prepare us for the Word, it's quite amazing the gravity that the text of Scripture has, isn't it? When we sing the psalm, and we sing these words, You on my unborn self did gaze, while in Your book were set my days, days all inscribed and formed as done, although as yet there was not one. And then we move down and sing, but I know whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day. And then asking the Holy Spirit to prepare us to receive this Word as we read it tonight. And the goal of the text tonight, as I put it together, Eugene had no idea when he gave the invitation to the table this morning to talk about assurance and our confidence, and where does that come from, and how easily do we lose or ebb and flow as Christians walking through this life, and that is why I picked Hebrews chapter 1 verses 1 through 4. You know, our texts tonight are the opening four verses of what some call a sermon, others call a letter. It can be read as a letter, but it's sermonic in the way it comes across. But it is a sermon or letter that is written to a group of Hebrew Christians that most believe were part of the dispersion out of Palestine.
Most people believe that they were in Rome or possibly Spain. And we don't even know who the author of the book of Hebrews is, but we do know why he wrote the book, because it's pretty self-evident. If you have your Bibles open, I don't know if you have the captions above, but the first four verses set the stage for the whole book of Hebrews, and it's entitled in the ESV Study Bible, The Supremacy of God's Son. When the writer to the Christian group that was either in Rome or Spain or wherever, the Jewish believers, and, you know, I read several commentaries this week. John MacArthur urged anyone who studies Hebrews to always keep in mind the makeup of the congregation receiving the sermon or the letter.
He said, because there's many issues that can arise in Hebrews if we don't keep this thought. And what I read, as I read MacArthur, I realized it reflects most of the churches today. MacArthur said this, the congregation was comprised of Hebrew Christians, believers. It was comprised of Hebrew non-Christians who were intellectually convinced about Jesus, but had not moved to receiving him as Lord.
And then there were Hebrew non-Christians who were not convinced. And if you think about it in our churches every Sunday, there are going to be believers, those the Holy Spirit has moved upon, that has regenerated their heart, that are here to worship God for what he has done through Christ Jesus. There are those who are here that hear the persuasive language of the Scripture, can intellectually ascend, but will not give themselves. The Holy Spirit has not allowed them to take the lordship of Jesus Christ.
And there will also be present those who have no desire at all, that have no belief in what is being spoken. So as we look at our first four verses today, we don't run into a conflict, because what we have in the first four verses of Hebrews is a grounding to that group in who Christ is. In my study Bible, it says this, I've got to find my spot here real quick because I have to read this. In its introduction, it says that this congregation being subject to suffering and shame for their confession of Jesus, stripped of their familiar invisible institution of the organized Jewish religion, and confused by the hidden character of Jesus's glory, which was veiled in his suffering when he was on the earth, and now hidden in heaven as he is up away from them, the original readers were tempted to turn away, to fall into unbelief, and thus give up their pilgrimage. We see here that this congregation was struggling with the very thing that Eugene addressed at our Lord's table this morning, how we struggle with our assurance that Christ is all we need. We need our assurance that we can rest in God alone and what he has done. So this letter to this group of Hebrew Christians that are in a dispersion is very pertinent to us in what it is teaching.
We need the same exhortation that the writer to the Hebrews gave to them. We are at a time and place in our history where many false narratives are constantly put before us. We are told that man is a pretty good being, that he just needs some help and direction to let that goodness come out. We are told that man is able to overcome obstacles that are put before him.
We are told that sin isn't sin, it's just a mental misunderstanding or a misdeed, and it doesn't have very dire consequence to it. We are told in our media that politics can correct our problems. We are told that culture can correct our problems. And we are told even at times coming from churches that in order for us to be right, it is based upon us being able to muster enough faith in all circumstances so that we can be right in the faith that we possess. These constant things bombard and hit us, and what we can find is that these false doctrines that attack can weigh on us. And unfortunately, in my case, and why I picked this text, is that old sin nature that clings.
There are some true chords struck to that rebellious nature about me wanting to be something, about me wanting to find something right. So tonight I would like us to focus on three truths that I see from these first four verses, and it should show us where our confidence and our assurance should rest. Point one, our confidence rests in the supreme revelation. We will move to point two, then our confidence rests in the supremacy of the Godhead. And then our final point will touch on our confidence rests in God's supreme work, not ours.
As we look at this scripture passage tonight, that gravity weighs heavy as we see the writer set forth the awesome supremacy of Jesus Christ, of God the Father, and the work that he accomplishes on our behalf. Looking at verses one through two way, the writer says this, long ago and at many times, in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his son. The very first thing that the writer to this church in Rome or wherever to this Hebrew church and to us is telling us that God has not hidden himself from his people or from the world for that matter. God has declared himself, and we read through scripture, he has done it in two separate distinct ways. First of all, he's declared himself in nature that all man stand without excuse because we can see in nature itself that God is.
But we have a more specific revelation that we are given. We are given the text of scripture, and when we sit and realize that there are many people that try to walk their way around if God is clear and evident, scripture does not give that leeway. What we see the writer address is that long ago at many times and in many ways, and I don't know, I grew up in a church that used the King James Version a lot, and this verse was always confusing to me because I didn't know what sundry times was or divers manners. So I'm thankful the ESV makes it clear that in many times and in many ways God spoke. We see that throughout the whole Old Testament, don't we? Moses in his recounting of the garden or of creation and his interaction with Adam is individual communication.
He speaks directly to. We move through the other patriarchs, and there is a speaking to, there are visions, there are dreams, there are the prophets who receive God's word in several different ways, but then declare it to the people. So we see that God throughout the Old Testament did not hide from declaring his word, but what we also see in the Old Testament is what? We see a progressive revelation of that word, and that carries on throughout the New Testament. So when God reveals in Genesis 3 15, what we call that early gospel call that I will put enmity between your seed and her seed, you shall bruise his hill, but he shall crush your head.
We see that fulfilled then in john 11 25 26, but there are pieces added in covenant structure by God throughout the whole Old Testament, how Israel is to know what this gospel is the who that seed is going to be and what he is going to do to the point in john 11 25 and 26. Jesus said this. Jesus said to her I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.
Do you believe this. When we read in this text in Hebrews, it says that God spoke many times and in many ways, and it was a progression. But in these last days he has spoken to us by his son. And in that moment in time when Jesus entered, and he came into our time and space. He brought the full revelation of God to man.
We are not left with any question. We are not left with any doubt that God is a God who saves sinners, and the way he does it is through Jesus Christ and his work. And it reveals in Jesus Christ, all that we need to know.
We see the same thing. Exodus 20 is the law given with covenant blessings and curses, and then Matthew 517 Jesus says this Do not think that I've come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. In the teaching in the Sermon on the Mount, you have been hurt you have been told that it says this but I tell you this. Jesus is that fulfillment of revealed word to man. Everything that you and I need, and it is not exhaustive in a sense that how did you or what is this or, but everything that we need to be in right relationship with God, Jesus Christ fully brought as he came in incarnate form onto this earth. This is the fullness of God's word the final progression and john sums it up best in john one.
And we're going to read one and 214 and 18, excuse me. In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God. He was in the beginning with God. Verse 14, and the word became flesh and wild among us, and we have seen his glory glory is the only son from the father, full of grace and truth. And then verse 18. No one has ever seen God the only God who is the Father's side.
He has made him known. And we see that Jesus being that final progression is the one that makes the Father fully known to the world to man. There is only Jesus, who is able to give this full revelation john writes the purpose of this word. Later in his gospel in chapter 20. He writes this starting at verse 30. Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which were not written but these are written, so that you may believe that what Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. Jesus, the father to this congregation of Hebrew Christians, comes to them with their worries about what the world holds before them in their shame and possible persecution that may be upcoming, and he does not tell them that they need to go out and do what they need to see. He stands up and says, Listen, as you're worried as you don't have confidence or assurance, let me hear these words. But in these last days he has spoken to us by the one you believe in by his son.
And that will lead us then to our next point. And that point is our confidence rests in the supremacy of the Godhead verses two and three but in these last days he has spoken to us by his son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God, and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.
After making purification for sins he sat down at the hand, sat down at the right hand of the majesty on high. We see in verse two that Jesus is, as the Nicene Creed states, true God of true God. He is not merely a man who came to give godly teaching he is not merely a man who lived in history and time, who set an example for us to follow. But this writer this sermon declares who Jesus Christ is. And that is that he is truly God. Yes, he is a man and that is going to be of importance as we walk through this, but he is not just man. He is God.
And as I walk through this and listen to Doug this morning. It is amazing when you read he is the radiance of the glory of God, and you sit and realize what Doug shared about his transfiguration this morning. It wasn't a bright light that beamed down upon Jesus Christ and made him glow outwardly. It was an emanation of light from within the deity that he possessed that emanated to make him bleach white, whiter than any white scene. That is the light that Jesus brings into the world. Going back to john chapter one it says that he is the light and that light is life. The writer to the Hebrews saying, as you're worried as your confidence withers or fade, understand who it is you believe in. I know who I have believe it.
Who is it? It is the second person of the Godhead. It is fully God he is fully God, and we need to rest in that. It goes on from there not just to say that he is the radiance of the glory, but he is the exact imprint of his nature. When we sit and talk and you could take these four verses and probably compile a sermon that would last four to five hours discussing the theological statements that are made here, but that exact imprint of his nature is saying that he is the very essence of God himself. The Greek word here used is that of a seal being placed in the wax, and when it's perfectly placed and lifted, it shows exactly the same as what the seal itself says.
It is of the same. It is the nature that is shared by God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. What's amazing then is he goes on to make the statement to them that and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. You know, as we struggle with our assurance, as we struggle with our confidence in our faith, many times I think we look at God as being a little G God instead of the big G God. We talk about, especially in reformed circles, the sovereignty of God and what sovereignty means, and R.C.
Sproul summed it up the best, and I love to beat a dead horse, but I'll say it every time. He said there is not one maverick molecule in the universe at this moment that God is not controlling. Do we truly understand, do we truly accept and believe the one that the writer is pointing out to those who are struggling with confidence in how they will face what is to come? He alone upholds the universe. Paul, when he's teaching the Colossians, he says it this way, Colossians chapter 1 verses 15 through 17. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation, for by him all things were created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominion or rulers or authorities, all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. When we stand and say we have Jesus Christ and he lives in us, we are stating that God himself resides, that God has control, that it is God alone that I rest in. Not a man, not an idea, not a theology, but the very God of the universe who is holding it in place at this moment.
You know, we sit and we get very vain as men, don't we, men and women. We believe that we can cause something that God cannot control. We can do something either to the creation as we hear in climate change or to our own lives where we can make our lifespan longer. And scripture tells us, when Noah came off the ark, what did God promise him? As long as I keep the earth, there will be what?
Winter, spring, summer and falls, harvest. Jesus said, which of you by worrying can add one hour to your life? You and I cannot even cause our heart to beat.
Do you know that? I cannot physically make my heart beat. If you took me into an emergency room right now and my heart rate was down in the 30s, I could not will myself to move that heart rate up. I can give myself drugs, I can put in an electric device that may move it up, but me in and of myself, I can't make myself breathe.
It works automatically. It's kind of a neat thing. We think we have some control because right now, if I wanted to take a deep breath, I can take one and let it out. But I've worked with people as they pass away. They enter a period called agonal breathing, which means it's a breathing that's just enough to keep life, but not anymore.
And I could encourage in their ear for them to try to take deeper and deeper breaths and they cannot do it. Jesus makes it very clear. God makes it very clear.
I am the one that is in control. The scripture tells us, Paul, to the Corinthians in those words, and he is before all things and in him all things hold together. He is the second person of the Godhead. That is where the Hebrews, where we are told to rest in that supremacy of the Godhead.
Finally, out of this text this evening, I want us to look at that the confidence that we have should rest in God's supreme work, not ours. Verse three and four says this. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the majesty on high, having become as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is much more excellent than theirs. Scripture reveals that this God-man is the one who has made purification for sin to appease the wrath of God the Father, to make right, to propitiate, to turn away wrath. He did what was required in order to make us right. This purification is accepted by God the Father. At the end of the verse, it declares that he sat down at the right hand of majesty on high. Not only did Jesus do the work, but God the Father himself looked upon that work and said yes and amen. It is right.
It is enough. The Father has accepted the atoning work of the Son, and the Father honors the Son in this work. How does he honor him? He gives him a name that is more excellent, more supreme, better than anything that Doug even stated in his sermon today, that at the name of Jesus, what?
Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that name. Again, Paul puts it like this when he's teaching the Colossians in that same first chapter, 18 through 22. And he is the head of the body of the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent, for in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. The writer to Hebrews, Paul to the Colossians, are making the point that it is Jesus who reconciles. It is Jesus who makes peace for us with God by the blood of his cross. And it is Jesus who presents us holy and blameless and above reproach through him. I know whom I believe it, and I am persuaded that he is able.
Because it is him, it is not me. Peter explains in Acts 2, 22 through 23 that though it was lawless men who killed Jesus, that it was by the Father's definite plan and foreknowledge that it occurred. It is the working of the Father that our salvation is wrought and brought to us. Acts 2, 36, then Peter goes on to explain that the Father, because of this work that Christ has accomplished, has made him both Lord and Christ, the inherited name which is much more superior than all other names, even than angels. Notice in all these scripture texts, we are not mentioned.
You notice that? It is Jesus and his work. It is the Father and his plan. As we look at salvation, it is the Holy Spirit and his work. Our hope and confidence come only from this completed work of Jesus, accepted by the Father, and given power to affect us through the Holy Spirit. The writer to the Hebrew grounds his original audience, and hopefully us tonight, in the fact that it is our confidence can only come from Jesus and his supremacy. So how do we apply this?
How do we take action? Well, first of all, just as all parts leading up had a gravity and a weight, this has a gravity and a weight. This is of vital importance for us, not just to hear, but to believe, to cling to. We naturally want to see ourselves as important and able to be good enough to do something, to earn a little bit of God's mercy and grace. Jesus addresses this in the story of the rich young ruler when the young man asked, what is it that I can do to inherit eternal life? And Jesus takes him through it and he walks away sadly. And the disciples looked at Jesus and what was the question they asked? Who then can be saved? And what did Jesus Christ say? What is impossible for man is possible for God. If tonight you are here and you believe, it is not because anything in and of yourself, it is because the Holy Spirit has ripped your heart, opened your eyes and your ears to his word, and he's made you understand that Jesus is the Christ.
When Peter cried out, where else can we go? You have the words of eternal life. That is what believing is. There is nothing in me.
There is nothing I can rest on. As I sit and I look and I find myself struggling with assurance and confidence, which I do, if I am honest with myself, why does that occur? Why does this confidence wane?
The facts become pretty clear as I look at it. It is when I focus on me and what I have to offer, and I want that to be of some value. You know, even at times as God grows us in sanctification, a pride can swell up in us and we think to ourselves, look how much better we are when all it is is look how much deeper we are in Christ and praise his holy name for what he is.
The final thing that I normally see when my confidence wanes is there is a trial lurking in front of me and I really don't want to even think to walk through it. And what's amazing is Jesus Christ has told us that no matter what you go through, I will walk through it with you and give you the strength as you need. Psalm 23, the Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want. Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.
Why? For he is with me. He will comfort me.
His rod and staff, they comfort me. We are not on our own. If we know whom we believe, and we are persuaded that he is able, being the God man, to take us all the way. Our assurance doesn't rest in my understanding, in my goodness, in my growth in the spiritual way of life. My confidence and assurance rest in Jesus Christ alone. Brothers and sisters, if there is any encouragement tonight, if there is any application, let it be that we see that it is all of Christ and none of us.
Let's pray. Heavenly Father, we praise your name tonight. We praise you because not only did you form a plan to save us, but Lord, you actually worked that plan out in our time and our space. Father, Jesus told us that the Holy Spirit would come and he would convict, convince and bring us to you.
And he does that. And we give you glory and honor for that. Lord, we are completely dependent upon you. Yes, as we move through the text, we will see that in your loving grace, you give us an ability to respond, to have responsibility. But Lord, that is acts of worship walking through this life, trusting in Christ. Let us never lose that first understanding, the understanding that we need to anchor ourselves in, and that it is all of you through Christ by the Holy Spirit. Father, we praise you and we thank you in Christ's name. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-02 08:06:38 / 2023-03-02 08:17:34 / 11