A Body Prepared

The week before Thanksgiving we paused our study of Hebrews, just in time to turn and focus on the season of Advent. Our lesson covered 9:15–10:18, pausing at just the right place, for the author of Hebrews pivots at this point from teaching, to focus on application beginning in 10:19. It’s also a perfect spot for us to pause, because in our lesson we discussed the importance of Christ’s incarnation. For in the middle of our passage, the author of Hebrews writes:

“. . . when Christ came into the world, he said,

‘Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
but a body have you prepared for me;
in burnt offerings and sin offerings
you have taken no pleasure.
Then I said, “Behold, I have come to do your will, O God,
as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.”’” — Hebrews 10:5–7 Continue reading “A Body Prepared”

Christmas Decorating Instead of Classes!

Come one, come all!

As previously announced, our Bible study classes are taking a pause during the holidays and will resume in January.

However, this Wednesday, December 1, before the routine falls away, we will be returning to church to decorate for Christmas! There being no Christmas Elves available to beautify our sanctuary, we hope you will join us from 10 am – 12 pm to trim the trees and deck the halls.

There will be nursery available for those of you with littles. Please sign up here so they are prepared to care for your precious children.

Lunch is not provided, but if you’d like to bring a sack lunch you are most welcome.

Contact Kerri Pinault, Beth Riggs, or Stefanie Bennett for more information.

 

Such a High Priest

I was away last week, and our study was led by Jana, who very faithfully and capably put in the work to walk us through this portion of the book of Hebrews, 8:1–9:14. I say “walk,” but getting to this chapter has taken a climb. Together with the author of Hebrews we have scaled the heights of Christ’s superiority over angels, Moses, and Aaron. We’ve seen the superiority of Christ’s revelation of the Father, of his great salvation, of the rest he offers, of his priesthood and intercession, and of the hope he offers as the sure and steadfast anchor of our souls. After the steep vertical climb learning about the superiority of his priesthood after the order of Melchizedek over the Aaronic priesthood we are now standing on the heights, taking in the majesty of Jesus our perfect high priest and all that means for us in the work he accomplished for his people once for all in securing our eternal redemption. Continue reading “Such a High Priest”

After the Order of Melchizedek

As I age, I’m finding that even with the progressive lenses in my spectacles, I often need a magnifying glass to read fine print. (Why does the important information on medication bottles need to be so small anyway?) Pulling out the curved lens of a magnifying glass enlarges and brings clarity to that which was otherwise too difficult to read without help. In Hebrews chapter seven, the author pulls out a magnifying glass in order to bring clarity to an obscure figure from the book of Genesis, and as he does, the magnificence of our Savior is enlarged before our eyes. The obscure figure is Melchizedek, and the magnifying glass is Psalm 110, verse four. Continue reading “After the Order of Melchizedek”

Hebrews Lesson 5, part 2

In my previous post, we considered the personal rebuke and sober warning found in Hebrews 5:11–6:8, and the questions raised concerning assurance of salvation. As we learned, that passage does not teach that a genuine believer in Jesus Christ can lose her salvation. But this was only half of our lesson. The passages that follow anchor our understanding of assurance and perseverance firmly in our Lord Jesus Christ and the promises of God.

First, the writer of Hebrews assures his readers that he is certain they are saved because of the fruit of love and mutual care they have shown one another, and he desires that they will each “show the same earnestness to have the full assurance until the end” (Heb. 6:9–11). This reminds us of the truth that bearing the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22) is a sure sign of salvation, even in infant believers. He then calls them to imitate “those who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (6:12), namely, Abraham, whose example he now sets before them. Continue reading “Hebrews Lesson 5, part 2”

Hebrews Lesson 5, part 1

The book of Hebrews, as it unfolds week by week in our bible study, is revealing the pastoral love and concern of the writer’s heart for his people. They are already experiencing some degree of persecution, which will only be getting worse. The author of this sermon letter knows that if his people are not firmly anchored in their faith and in the knowledge of Christ, the persecutions to come may at least cause undue spiritual distress and at worst drive them from their faith altogether. And so by turns he warns and encourages his readers (and us) to avoid the perils of shallow faith by growing in the grace and wisdom of the knowledge of the Lord.

Up until the end of chapter five, the warnings have been general in nature, but when we reach 5:11 we find a rebuke not only stern, but also personal.

“. . . you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” —Hebrews 5:11–14 Continue reading “Hebrews Lesson 5, part 1”

Reminder

We won’t have class, morning or evening, this week (the 27th) due to the Reformation Festival.

Blog post coming soon. The arrival of our newest grandson has delayed my writing. (Not that I mind so much 😉 )

God’s Life-Giving Word

In the first four chapters of the book of Hebrews the author has been exhorting his readers to persevere in the faith of the gospel, gathering his encouragements in the form of arguments for: the supremacy of Christ as the final and best revelation of God, Christ in his humanity being perfectly suited to be our Savior, and Christ as the Son and builder of God’s house being greater than Moses the faithful servant in the house. Based on the superiority of the salvation offered by Christ he has exhorted his readers not to harden their hearts, but to strive to enter God’s rest, hammering home the point by repeatedly quoting the Scriptures of the Old Testament, especially Psalm 95, emphasizing that we must hear God’s voice “Today” in order to enter that rest. And then, in the flow of his argument he brings forth this staggering description of God’s word in Scripture:

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. —Hebrews 4:12–13 Continue reading “God’s Life-Giving Word”

The Deceitfulness of Sin; the Faithfulness of our Savior

Sin whispers, “Is God really good?” Sin suggests, “You can do better than God’s way.” Sin befriends, “God doesn’t have your best interest at heart; I do.” Sin cajoles, “Just this once.” Sin promises, “You’re in control. You’ve got this. Nobody needs to know. You can stop at any time.”

Sin deceives.

In the Garden, our first parents believed sin’s lies that God was holding out on them, that he wasn’t really good. They were given paradise, but believed the lie that God might not be good, that there was a better way to true fulfillment. They had the privilege of walking with God in the cool of the day, but believed the lie that God hadn’t disclosed everything they truly needed. By believing and acting on the lie they learned the truth of the goodness they forfeited, the paradise they lost, and the friendship with God they’d severed. And their children have been enslaved to the deceitfulness of sin ever since.

In the wilderness, the Israelites believed sin’s lies and grumbled and complained until their hearts were hardened to the point of rebellion, provoking the God who’d rescued them from bondage to “swear in [his] wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest’” (Ps. 95:11; Heb. 3:11). The vast majority of the people who witnessed God’s mighty acts in the Egyptian plagues, who benefited from the release from slavery, who walked through the Red Sea on dry ground, and who watched the waters of that sea consume the Egyptian army not only complained against the Lord and Moses, but they accused God of rescuing them only to kill them in the promised land (Num. 14:3). “And the Lord said to Moses, ‘How long will this people despise me? And how long will they not believe in me, in spite of all the signs that I have done among them?’”  (Num. 14:11). In believing and acting on sin’s lies, they displayed their unbelief which resulted in hardened hearts that despised the Lord. Continue reading “The Deceitfulness of Sin; the Faithfulness of our Savior”

Hold Fast to Jesus

My husband Jim and I went kayaking last month on Lake Superior with a group led by our daughter Erin. (Not every post will begin with a story from that vacation, I promise) Being a good guide, she gave us a safety briefing before we began. Part of her briefing included the need to stay together. The first morning we went out there was an unusually heavy fog, which posed a higher risk of getting lost or running into danger if we didn’t pay attention and keep close to one another. Erin carries a whistle, and she explained that if we heard one toot it meant “Hey, I’m trying to get your attention, and you’re probably too far away,” two toots meant “Hold your position,” and 3 toots meant “Danger—there’s an emergency—paddle hard and get back together as quickly as possible.”

Chapter two of Hebrews begins with a safety briefing for our souls. This is the first of several warnings against apostasy in the book of Hebrews. The author is blowing his whistle to get our attention, warning us of a very real danger to which we are all liable: drifting away from the gospel truth of our great salvation by either lack of attention or neglect. He underscores his warning by harking back to the superiority of Christ which he so carefully set before us in the first chapter (that’s what the therefore is there for). For the superiority of our Lord Jesus Christ means that the salvation he accomplished at the cross and freely offers as a gift of grace is far greater than the salvation offered through the Law of Moses (the message declared by angels, Deut. 33:2; Acts 7:53). If this salvation is so much greater than the other, in which every transgression was justly punished, then the consequences of neglecting it are correspondingly higher. Continue reading “Hold Fast to Jesus”