Wednesday, March 31, 2010

rich foundation

Before leaving chapter 1 in the epistle to the Hebrews, I want to pause for a moment to consider the rich Christological foundation that the author has developed thus far. Though much more can be said of the Person and work of Jesus (indeed, even the apostle John writes that if all the things concerning Jesus "were written in detail...even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written" [John 21:25]), we have learned of Christ in Hebrews 1 that He:

1) is the final and authoritative person through whom God speaks (v2)
2) is appointed by God heir of all things (v2)
3) is the One through whom God made the world/ages (v2)
4) is the radiance of God's glory (v3)
5) is the exact representation of God's nature (v3)
6) is the One who upholds all things by the word of His power (v3)
7) is the One who made purification for the sins of humankind (v3)
8) is seated at the right hand of the Majesty on high (v3)
9) has become better better than the angels (v4):
a. as the only begotten Son (v5)
b. as being worthy of worship (v6)
c. as the righteous King (v8)
d. as Creator of the earth and the heavens (v10)
10) has inherited a name better than that of the angels (v4)
11) reigns forever (v8)
12) is omnipotent (vv. 3, 10, 12)
13) abides forever and is eternal (v12)
14) is immutable (v12)

Truly, as Paul writes to the Ephesians, these things are:

[I]n accordance with the working of the strength of [God's] might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but the one to come. And He put all things under His feet and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. (Ephesians 1:19-23)

In light of these things, how can we not respond in worship and adoration? How can we not, both out of pure volition and holy desire, offer our lives to Him who bought us with His very blood? I encourage you to read this first chapter of Hebrews again and again, and to let God write its meaning on your heart.
Perhaps too often it is easy to misconceive theology as too abstract or even irrelevant. Or, we wrongly consider doctrines of God (including Christ) to be dry and lifeless principles suitable for memorization but discarded from everyday thought and action. For this reason, I would like to end the commentary on chapter one with an exhortation from the great Dutch Reformed Pastor from South Africa, Andrew Murray. Here I quote him at length:

"And now let me once again urge my reader to mark well the lesson this chapter is teaching us and the object it has in view. Let no one think, as I myself long thought, that, because we firmly believe in the divinity of our Saviour, this chapter, with its proof-texts, has no special message for our spiritual life, and that we may therefore hasten on to what the Epistle has to teach farther on. No, let us remember that this is the foundation chapter. The divinity of Christ is the rock on which we rest. It is in virtue of His divinity that He effected a real cleansing and putting away of sin, that He can actually comunicate and maintain the divine life in us, that He can enter into our innermost being, and dwell there. If we open our hearts and give them time to receive the full impression of the truth, we shall see that all we are to learn of the person and work of Christ has its value and its power from this - that He is God." (Murray 61-62, emphasis added)

Murray, A. (n.d.). The Holiest of All. Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell.

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