"THE EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS"
Stability In Our Service To God (13:7-17) INTRODUCTION 1. Throughout his epistle, the author has exhorted his readers to "steadfastness"... a. With a warning not to drift away - He 2:1 b. With a promise of becoming partakers of Christ - He 3:14 c. With exhortations to be diligent - He 4:11; 6:11-12 d. With a reminder of God's faithfulness - He 10:23 e. With a promise of great reward - He 10:35-36 2. As the epistle nears its end, we find some final exhortations that appear to encourage such steadfastness... a. They are sprinkled throughout He 13:7-17 b. They are given in view of the danger of "various and strange doctrines" - He 13:9 3. The need for such exhortations is no less today as it was then... a. There are many various and strange doctrines today b. It is easy for us to forget the simplicity that is in Christ [If we are not to be carried about with various and strange doctrines, then "Stability In Our Service To God" is what we need. What can we glean from our text that will aid us in our steadfastness? First, there are...] I. THINGS TO REMEMBER (7-14) A. THOSE WHO FAITH IS WORTHY OF EMULATION (7) 1. In the original context of the epistle... a. The author here may have in reference those leaders who originally spoke the word of God to them b. That may have included the apostles themselves - cf. He 2:3 c. "...considering the outcome of their conduct" may imply that they were dead, and that their faith served them well 2. But it would also be appropriate to remember the faithfulness of our "leaders" today a. Those elders who have spoken God's word to us b. Those elders whose faith enabled them to magnify Christ in both life and death 3. Not only remember them, but "whose faith follow" a. We should seek to emulate all those whose faith have set a good example - Php 3:17 b. Especially those whose faith sustained them to the end! B. "JESUS CHRIST, THE SAME YESTERDAY, TODAY, AND FOREVER" (8) 1. In what way is "Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever"? a. Certainly not in every respect, for He was once "in the flesh", but not today b. The context must determine, and the context pertains to: 1) The word of God which has been spoken - v.7 2) Various and strange doctrines - v.9 c. It is therefore the doctrine of Jesus, which is unchangeable 2. One may therefore rightly ask whenever they hear of some strange or new doctrine: "Did Jesus or His apostles teach this?" - cf. Ga 1:8-9 C. WHAT WE HAVE IN CHRIST (9-14) 1. It is apparent the author has in mind the temptation to return to the Law a. To the dietary restrictions found in the Law b. To the altar and tabernacle of the Old Covenant 2. But what we have in Christ include: a. Hearts that are strengthened by grace, not food - He 13:9 1) An allusion to the dietary restrictions of Judaism 2) While they served their purpose, they did not provide what one really needs - cf. Col 3:20-23 b. An altar from which those who serve in the physical tabernacle have no right to eat - He 13:10-13 1) The "altar" is likely a metonymy for the sacrifice offered on it 2) If so, then our "altar" is the sacrifice of Christ, which is of no benefit to those who hold to the Old Law - cf. Ga 5:4 3) As our sacrifice (Christ), had to suffer "outside the gate" to provide our sanctification, so we should be willing to serve Him "outside the camp" (i.e., outside the physical religious community of Israel) c. A "city" which is yet to come - He 13:14 1) Like our father Abraham, we wait for the city "whose builder and maker is God" - He 11:9-10 2) We are but strangers and pilgrims on the earth, desiring that city which God has prepared - He 11:13-16 3) Therefore, it is not physical Jerusalem we long for, but "the holy city, New Jerusalem" - cf. He 12:22; Re 3:12; 21:1-2,10-11 [Dare we jeopardize these wonderful blessings in Christ? Then remember the word and faith of those who are worthy of emulation, and that the doctrine of Jesus Christ will not change! As we seek "Stability In Our Service To God", there are also...] II. THINGS TO DO (15-17) A. OFFER TRUE SPIRITUAL SACRIFICES TO GOD (15-16) 1. We may not "serve the tabernacle" of the Old Covenant (v.10), but we do have "sacrifices" to offer - cf. 1Pe 2:5 2. One is the sacrifice of praise - He 13:15 a. That includes singing and prayer, which are the fruit of our lips b. In which we praise God as we give thanks to His name -- This we are to do "continually" (i.e., with stability in our service to God) 2. Another is the sacrifice of doing good and sharing - He 13:16 a. With such sacrifices God is pleased b. They are like the "sweet-smelling aroma" of incense - Php 4:18 B. OBEY THOSE WHO RULE OVER US (17) 1. Earlier he wrote of their previous leadership (v.7); now he writes of their present leadership 2. These are most likely their "elders" (also known as "bishops","pastors") a. They were given the oversight of the local congregation - Ac 20:17,28; 1Pe 5:1-2 b. The souls of the congregation were "entrusted" to them - 1Pe 5:3 3. They watch over us, as those who must one day give an account - He 13:17 4. Therefore we should "obey" and "submit" a. That their work will be one of joy, not grief b. If we grieve them in their work, it will not be profitable for us! -- Of course, this assumes they are leading the flock in the right direction (some elders do not, and may need rebuke - cf. Ac 20:28-30; 1Ti 5:19-20) CONCLUSION 1. Do you wish to remain steadfast in your faith, with stability in your service to God? 2. Then remember such things as: a. Those worthy of emulation, and consider the outcome of their conduct b. Jesus Christ, whose doctrine is the same yesterday, today, and forever c. The blessings we have in Christ: 1) Hearts established by grace 2) An altar (the sacrifice of Jesus) to which some have no right 3) A heavenly city whose builder and maker is God 3. And be careful to do such things as: a. Offer the spiritual sacrifices of praise and doing good to others b. Obey those who have been entrusted to watch for our souls With such "Stability In Our Service To God", then by God's grace we too will be "the same yesterday, today, and forever"!