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Sermon February 17, 2019

Princeton Presbyterian Church (EPC) Sermon # 1385

February 17, 2019 Hebrews 3.1-19

Rev. Dr. Ed Pettus

(This is an extended outline, not a verbatim transcript.)

 

Encouraged in Christ”

 

  • Therefore...Consider Jesus

 

Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, 2 who was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in all God's house. 3 For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses

 

We have begun to see the pattern of building point to point from the author of Hebrews. Jesus is superior to the angels, therefore we must pay close attention to the gospel. Jesus tasted death for us, therefore He is now our high priest. Chapter 3 begins with a connecting therefore, connecting this continuing revelation of Jesus’ superiority, first over the angels and now, in this chapter, over Moses. In this first verse I want us to consider two words, consider Jesus. All who share in the calling of Jesus Christ, that is, all who are in Christ must consider Jesus, who was faithful to God the Father, who is our priest, who has more glory than Moses.

Consider Jesus. One way this has been interpreted is to consider Jesus as our priest, as the faithful One, as greater than Moses. That’s fine, I suppose, but as I read this beginning of Hebrews 3, it looks to me that we are to consider Jesus because He is priest, faithful, and superior to Moses. It is not just a way we understand Jesus, not just a way to conceptualize Jesus, but the very reasons we consider Jesus. These are the reasons we love Jesus, believe in Him, trust Him, place our lives in Him. It is a small variation of reading, but a huge difference to our life.

In this context it means to fix our minds upon Jesus because of who He is. We consider Jesus in the sense of Psalm 16.8, I have set the Lord always before me. Or we consider in the way the Psalmist loves the Word of God, Psalm 1.3, on his law he meditates day and night, Proverbs 3.5, Trust in the Lord with all your heart. These are the ways we consider Jesus. Keep Jesus in our hearts and minds. Keep Jesus in our thoughts and conversations and in decisions and hopes and dreams. Consider Jesus with all that we are. We do this because of who Jesus is, high priest, apostle (meaning the One sent), the faithful One, and the One counted worthy of more glory than even Moses whom the Jews held in such high esteem.

What a great pair of words to keep in our minds when we are going about our days. Consider Jesus. Consider Jesus when we go to the store. Consider Jesus when we talk with our spouse. Consider Jesus when we watch the news. Consider Jesus when we rise and when we end the day. Consider Jesus. Maybe this should have been the end of my sermon today! Consider Jesus. (Well, it’s not!)

 

 

  • The House of God

     

as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself. 4 (For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.) 5 Now Moses was faithful in all God's house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, 6 but Christ is faithful over God's house as a son. And we are his house, if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.

 

 

Moses was the faithful servant of God to lead God’s people. Moses is still, rightly so, a huge figure in the Judeo-Christian tradition. But Christ is even more than Moses. Moses prefigures the Christ, that is, he gave us a foreshadowing of One greater to come after Moses. Like Jesus, Moses served God as one who saved God’s people and freed them from bondage. Moses was faithful like Jesus. But Moses only had a portion of God’s people. Jesus has us all. We are God’s house! We are God’s house over which Jesus died for, lives for, and will return for.

We are God’s people, His house. He is building His house. He is making us into a holy people. You know Psalm 127.1,

Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.

 

The Lord is the One who builds. We can certainly assist by doing the things that are commanded us throughout Scripture and even the things that follow in this passage: to hold fast to our confidence and hope, to take care to follow Jesus, and to encourage one another. But we also know that the Lord has given the Spirit and gifts of the Spirit that we might partake in building the body of Christ, the Church.

11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love (Eph 4.11-16).

 

Verse 12 speaks of building up the body, building up the house, building up God’s people. There are those who want to tear us down. From time to time there are even some within the Church seeking to tear it down. But Hebrews and many other parts of God’s Word encourage us to hold fast and take care lest we fall to that kind of threat.

 

 

  • Hold Fast

6 but Christ is faithful over God's house as a son. And we are his house, if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.

 

Hebrews 3 ends with three imperatives. The first is to hold fast to our confidence and our boasting in our hope. To hold fast is to grasp with all our strength, to hang in there despite all reasons to let go. To hold fast is a common exhortation in the Bible. Let me shoot a few verses at you about holding fast.

 

Proverbs 4.4 “Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments, and live.”

 

Hosea 12.6 “So you, by the help of your God, return, hold fast to love and justice, and wait continually for your God.”

 

Romans 12.9 “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.”

Philippians 2.14-16 “Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life.”

 

Hold fast to the word, to love and justice, hold fast to what is good. All of these verses, and there are many more, speak to the encouraging word we can offer one another. Hold fast to faith. Hold fast to our confession. Hold fast to the Word. There are many threats outside these walls, but we must hold fast.

 

 

  • Take Care

12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.

 

The next exhortation is to take care lest there be in any of us an evil. In one sense this is something we are continuing to work on for all our life, to stay away from any evil and to keep evil out of our lives. This thought is part of our prayer each Sunday, “Lord, deliver us from evil.” It is a major point of many of Paul’s letters as he encourages the church to put off the old nature and put on Christ. We are told to put on the full armor of God. We are told to recognize that our battle is spiritual rather than physical. It is why we are told to confess our sins. We take care to avoid all evil within and without.

Hebrews encourages this by reminding us of the rebellion of Israel in the wilderness. Don’t be like those people who turned on Moses and turned on God grumbling and complaining and sinning against God. We learn from those who have gone before us. Later in Hebrews we will be encouraged to learn from those who lived by faith. Here we are encouraged to learn from those who did not.

 

 

  • Exhort/Encourage

13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.

 

The reader of Hebrews is to take all the encouragement of this book and then, in turn, encourage others. This is a great need in the church in our time as well. With all that is going on in the world, in our nation, in our state, and community, in our lives, we need ongoing encouragement and we need to encourage one another. How do we encourage? Well, it seems to me that the best encouragement is the Word itself. Consider Jesus. You are part of the house of God. Hold fast to faith. Take care lest you hold on to evil. Be encouraged in these things. The Lord is building you up as a holy faithful disciple. The Lord is building us up as a community of fellowship and worship and love. We are to encourage one another with these things. We are His house. We have a high priest. We must consider Jesus. Encourage one another with these things.

The gospels are here for our encouragement. Paul wrote letters to encourage the church. All of the Bible is an encouragement to us in all kinds of situation for life. In the end, all our encouragement is in Jesus Christ. Everything that the scripture reveals about what Christ has done, who Christ is, and who we are in Christ is what brings encouragement to our lives. Paul writes in Phil. 2.1-2, So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.

 

When we says, “if there is any encouragement in Christ” he is really saying since there is encouragement in Christ. It’s a rhetorical statement. All our encouragement is in Christ. Consider Jesus. Encourage one another with that consideration. We are God’s house. Be encouraged. Hold fast and take care. In this we can and will be encouraged to face our time and our days ahead.