GREATER PRIVILEGE (THE GOSPEL VERSUS THE LAW) CALLs FOR GREATER RESPONSIBILITY
The Lord warned His people to fear Him and keep His commandments with an awesome display of His power at Mt. Sinai when all the people of Israel heard His voice audibly. "So it came about on the third day, when it was morning, that there were thunder and lightning flashes and a thick cloud upon the mountain and a very loud trumpet sound, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled." (Ex. 19:16) "When the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and God answered him with thunder. (Exodus 19:19) "Then the LORD spoke to you from the midst of the fire; you heard the sound of words, but you saw no form–only a voice." (Deuteronomy 4:12) Yet the people did not walk in the fear of the Lord and worshiped and served other gods and the Lord gave them over to captivity to their enemies and then scattered them all over the world.
"See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. (See Heb. 1:1-2) For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven." This is the fifth warning for these Jewish believers to not go back to the Law because Jesus is the Mediator of a new and better covenant (v. 24). ["Those who reject His voice as it now speaks from heaven in the gospel are more responsible than those who broke the law. Escape is impossible. At Sinai God's voice caused an earthquake. But when He speaks in the future His voice will also produce a "heavenquake." This was, in substance, predicted by the prophet Haggai (2:6): "Once more (it is a little while) I will shake heaven and earth, the sea and dry land." This shaking will take place during the period from the Rapture to the end of Christ's kingdom. Prior to Christ's coming to reign there will be violent convulsions of nature both on earth and in the heavens. Planets will be moved out of orbit causing raging tides and roaring seas. Then at the close of Christ's Millennial Reign, the earth, the stellar heavens, and the atmospheric heavens will be destroyed by fervent heat (2 Pet. 3:10-12). KJV Bible Commentary. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1997, c1994, S. 2574]
The Lord speaks to us through His Word, His people, His creation, circumstances, and we are to "see to it that we do not refuse Him", meaning we obey Him, His Word. "For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account." (Heb. 4:12-13)
The author of Hebrews gives this warning after he reminded these Jewish believers of their great privilege in the gospel. They/we have nearness to God (versus distance from God in the OT); they/we have a better place to call home (heaven, not just Canaan on earth); "you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, (Gr. meaning a festive celebration of the angels); to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven (church-age saints who share in Jesus' inheritance; Rom. 8:17); and to God, the Judge of all,(Who has declared us not guilty, but righteous) and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect" (OT saints) – (see Rev. 21-22); they/we have a better Person than Moses, Joshua or Aaron, they/we have Jesus with a better message; "and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel." The blood of Abel cried out for justice against the sinner (Cain) but on the cross the blood of Jesus cried out for mercy on sinners "Father forgive them" as he took God's wrath in our place.
["That those things which cannot be shaken may remain."- Hebrews 12:27 We have many things in our possession at the present moment which can be shaken, and it ill becomes a Christian man to set much store by them, for there is nothing stable beneath these rolling skies; change is written upon all things. Yet, we have certain "things which cannot be shaken," and I invite you this evening to think of them, that if the things which can be shaken should all be taken away, you may derive real comfort from the things that cannot be shaken, which will remain. Whatever your losses have been, or may be, you enjoy present salvation. You are standing at the foot of his cross, trusting alone in the merit of Jesus' precious blood, and no rise or fall of the markets can interfere with your salvation in him; no breaking of banks, no failures and bankruptcies can touch that. Then you are a child of God this evening. God is your Father. No change of circumstances can ever rob you of that. Although by losses brought to poverty, and stripped bare, you can say, "He is my Father still. In my Father's house are many mansions; therefore will I not be troubled." You have another permanent blessing, namely, the love of Jesus Christ. He who is God and Man loves you with all the strength of his affectionate nature-nothing can affect that. The fig tree may not blossom, and the flocks may cease from the field, it matters not to the man who can sing, "My Beloved is mine, and I am his." Our best portion and richest heritage we cannot lose. Whatever troubles come, let us play the man; let us show that we are not such little children as to be cast down by what may happen in this poor fleeting state of time. Our country is Immanuel's land, our hope is above the sky, and therefore, calm as the summer's ocean; we will see the wreck of everything earthborn, and yet rejoice in the God of our salvation. Spurgeon – Morning and Evening June 22 Evening]
"Let us show gratitude" – ["The certainty of the ultimate triumph of Christianity in the revelation of the Lord from heaven to usher in and establish His Kingdom is an unshakable reality. Amid all earth's upheavals this "blessed hope" (Titus 2:13) is one of the strongest pledges of complete victory." Hebrews – A Devotional Commentary by W.H. Griffth Thomas.]
The gospel tells us that we are receivers not achievers so our blessings are not our due but are pure gift. All the blessings of salvation and eternal life with God in the bliss of heaven are a gift that calls for a response of gratitude and awe. "Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe." Yet both gratitude and the proper fear of the Lord are greatly absent in the lives of many of us. Gratitude has been replaced with entitlement (esp. the prosperity gospel) and awe and reverence of the God of fire who shakes the world has been replaced with a tame God who wants to make sure we are happy.
"For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God." (Deut. 4:24) So God has to shake out of us and burn out of us those things in our lives that we desire more than Him because He is rightly jealous for our pure single-minded love and devotion. "I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ." (2 Cor. 11:2-4) "You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us?" (James 4:4-5) He knows our "lesser lovers" will never satisfy us. May it be said about us as it was said about our Lord Jesus: "Zeal for your house will consume Me." (John 2:17; Psalm 69:9)
JOSHUA'S LAST SERMON
Jehovah Kanna will never let you go
His jealousy gripping you from head to toe
Once in His hands, you may no others know
He alone will be your Lover.
Your troth of faith is permanent
The marriage contract cannot be rent
You shall not wander from His tent
Tis death to seek another.
His name is written on your brow
In ink of blood the indelible vow
Seals you as His for eternity now-
Irrevocably affirmed by your own voice.
Witnesses include the listening rock
Bound to your God in holy wedlock
Between you, He will countenance no block
He seriously solemnizes your free choice.
Kristen Sykes, December 8, 2008
Yet we can resist His refining fire in this life but then have to suffer loss at the judgment seat of Christ when His purging fire comes and it's too late to change. A wise prayer and attitude is, judge me now Lord on this side of heaven. "By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person's work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved-even though only as one escaping through the flames." (1 Cor. 3:10-15)
1. What is your main take away from the message and table discussion and how can you apply it to your life?
2. Why is it important to know we are receivers and not achievers as it relates to the passage above?
3. Share about a time in your life when God's fiery love consumed you and burned out some sinful dross in your life?
4. "See to it that we do not refuse Him" – How can we resist God's refining fire and shakings as He works to break us of our pride and independence from Him? Read Heb. 4:12-13
5. "A wise prayer and attitude is, judge me now Lord on this side of heaven." Do you think this is a wise prayer and one you might pray? Why or why not?