Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Three tools for Success (Hebrews 4:11 - 16)

Hebrews 4:11 – 16
Three tools for Success

Verse 11 starts with a warning… “Let us strive… so
that no one may fall…” Israel did not enter the rest
because of disobedience (“unbelief”).
In this chapter we have seen a promise coupled
with a warning. Whether we like it or not, God’s
promises are conditional. God takes the initiative
but expects us to respond. God gives grace but we
must react in faith. God does the heavy lifting but
we are expected to invest ourselves in obedience.
Why the warning? Because of the very real
possibility of failure… but we are given three very
powerful tools to achieve our goal.


I. Tool #1: We are given the Word of God.

A. What is the “Word of God?”

1. The Bible

“But he answered, It is written, Man shall not live by
bread alone, but by every word that comes from the
mouth of God.” [Matthew 4:4]

2. Jesus Christ

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was
with God, and the Word was God.” [John 1:1]

B. What makes the “Word of God” special?

1. It is “living.” [v 12]

a. It is not a “dead language.” (It is
not unchanging.)

b. Jesus came to give us “abundant
life.”

“The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill,
and to destroy: I am come that they might have life,
and that they might have it more abundantly.”
[John 10:10]

1.) Jesus as the “Word of God”
reveals God the Father, His
expressions, thoughts, and
passions.

2.) In the Bible we hear, find, and
receive Jesus.

2. It is active. (It is the word we get
“energy” from) [v 12]

a. This power is not necessarily what
we think or want it to be!

b. 1 Kings 19:9 – 13

C. How does the “Word of God” work?

1. In the “Word of God” we find identity,
power, and purpose.

a. It exposes us for who we really
are… (“discerns” is the image of the
head pulled back to expose the
neck.)

1.) Thoughts (MIND)

2.) Intentions (HEART)

b. It has the healing power of the
surgeon’s scalpel.

1.) The word “sharper” conveys
the image of one clean cut (as
opposed to “hacking.” It was
the advantage Roman soldiers
had over their opponents…
steel that remained sharp.)

2.) It is the power of the spoken
word that the word that
created and chaos is turned to
cosmos at the cross.

“By faith we understand that the universe was
created by the word of God, so that what is seen
was not made out of things that are visible.
[Hebrews 11:3]

2. In the “Word of God” we are
confronted with a choice: live or death.

a. The image of the sword either kills
are guards…

b. It is the image of sacrifice… we will
see this again in Hebrews.

c. Which side of the sword do you
want to be on?

II. Tool #2: A sympathetic High Priest

A. Jesus has gone before us… What?

1. Explain the “day of atonement.” (The
one time of the year anyone, and only
the High Priest, could enter the “holy of
holies” behind the veil.)

“Then he shall kill the goat of the sin offering that is
for the people and bring its blood inside the veil and
do with its blood as he did with the blood of the bull,
sprinkling it over the mercy seat and in front of the
mercy seat.” [Leviticus 16:15]

2. God eliminated that wall of separation
between Him and us when Jesus died.

“And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and
yielded up his spirit. [51] And behold, the curtain of
the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.
And the earth shook, and the rocks were split.”
[Matthew 27:50 – 51]

B. That is what we call a “game changer.”

1. Because of Jesus, everything changes…

a. God sympathizes with our
weaknesses.

b. While Jesus is God in every way, He
was also human in every way… His
humanity AND sinlessness adds up
to the perfect sacrifice AND perfect
representative.

2. God has become not only our judge but
also our advocate.

a. Even though Jesus was not a sinner,
God treated Him like one.

b. Jesus took our place, took our
whipping, took our death sentence,
took our damnation to hell… THAT
IS LOVE (and believe it or not it
offends people).

“My little children, I am writing these things to you
so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we
have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the
righteous.” [1 John 2:1]

a. Once we were against God… now
God shown Himself to be for us.

b. Once we were separated by a veil
that represented our uncleanness…
now God has exchanged Jesus
righteousness for our uncleanness.

“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no
sin, so that in him we might become the
righteousness of God.” [2 Corinthians 5:21]

C. What difference does this make?

1. We have our identity in Jesus.

a. He is our King.

b. We are co-heirs with Jesus.

"So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son,
then an heir through God.” [Galatians 4:7]

[Roman law of adoption: A person was privately
adopted… eventually there was a public ceremony
before the civil authorities. It was not uncommon
to have many years in between the private and the
public ceremony. It was not legal until the public
ceremony.]

“For the creation waits with eager longing for the
revealing of the sons of God.” [Romans 8:19]

Here is the “already but not yet” principle we see
throughout Scripture.

2. We have power through the shed blood
of Jesus.

a. One way to understand this is what
Jesus gave us:

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has
come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in
Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the
end of the earth.” [Acts 1:8]

b. Another way to understand this:

“And they have conquered him by the blood of the
Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they
loved not their lives even unto death.” [Revelation
12:11]

III. Tool #3: Our confession [v 14] and confidence
[v 16]

A. What confession?

“Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus
is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised
him from the dead, you will be saved. [10] For with
the heart one believes and is justified, and with the
mouth one confesses and is saved.” [Romans 10:9 –
10]

1. “Confess” means to tell others… (new
fangled word “witness.”)

2. Faith is expressed by the content of our
words.

B. What confidence:

1. If we need mercy, what do we do?
[RUN]

“The man answered, I was naked, and when I heard
you walking through the garden, I was frightened
and hid!” [Genesis 3:10 CEV]

“People who do evil hate the light and won't come
to the light, because it clearly shows what they have
done.” [John 3:20 CEV]

a. Think about it: when do you need
mercy and grace?

b. When you have sinned…

2. Repentance depends on God’s loving-
kindness.

a. Do you really think that God does
NOT want anyone to perish?

“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some
count slowness, but is patient toward you, not
wishing that any should perish, but that all should
reach repentance.” [2 Peter 3:9]

b. If God really does not want anyone
to perish (go to hell) then why do
we act like God is the mean bully?

3. Mercy is for the past, grace is for the
now, hope rules tomorrow.

a. This is all give WHEN it is needed.
(“in our time of need.”)

b. Without doubt or fear, you can
approach God in repentance.

C. What does this mean?

1. We have free access to God…

2. We have right relationship with God…

3. We have the responsibility to “strive”
(with all diligence and effort).

4. We are not working FOR our salvation…
we are acting like we are saved.

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