The Practical Consequences of His Superiority
I. Introduction - three major themes in the lesson today.
A. The Worship of the New Covenant (10:19-25)
B. Discussion on Sin and Judgement (10:26-39)
C. Faith (11:1-40)
D. Keep in mind overriding message of entire book of Hebrews - stay the course; do not fall away.
II. The Worship of the New Covenant
A. Having spent 3 1/2 chapters hearing the why new covenant with Jesus as High Priest is better than the old covenant, congregants logically want to know, what do we do in response.
B. "the Preacher's" answer is WORSHIP!
C. Preacher turns from theology to practical exhortation
D. How do we get ready for authentic worship?
1. Go to worship as a community. Travel to place of true worship together as brothers and sisters in Christ
2. Come to worship baptized and forgiven. Because "Our bodies washed with pure water", means we come fully assured of God's acceptance, "with a true heart in full assurance of faith".
3. Come hoping and holding onto the promises of God
4. Come not only to pray and sing, but also praising God with deeds of compassion and mercy. That is prodding others along on the right path.
5. Come, gathering with other Christians, in ordinary sanctuaries. "Whenever Christians cluster together for worship we walk through the doorway of an ordinary building, an 'earthly tent', and find ourselves in the company of heaven singing praises with the heavenly hosts." (Long, p. 107)
E. Sin and Judgement. Beginning in v.26 "the Preacher" changes course once again and begins preaching on result of sin. Difficult passage, several factors must be considered to fully understand.
1. Speaks very harshly. Must be made clear. "the Preacher" isn't talking about everyday sin. Rather, he is speaking specifically about apostacy. Re-read v26,27 - "if we willfully persist in sin after having received the knowledge of the truth..."
2. "the Preacher" is addressing very practical and urgent pastoral problem. Members of his congregation are disheartened, want to give up, go back to old life.
3. "the Preacher's" real goal isn't to generate fear but to offer encouragement. This will be become more apparent in next section when he talks about faith.
III. The Great Cloud of Witnesses
A. Faith (11:1-3)
1. Begins by defining faith, "the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen"
2. Probably most famous line of scripture in book of Hebrews
3. Not the full, complete definition of faith. Rather, "the Preacher" uses this abbreviated version to make his point.
a. "But faith as 'the assurance of things hoped for' is not just inward confidence, it is also an outward actuality." (Long, p. 113)
b. "What the naked eye can see, of course, is a world of suffering and setback, violence and hardship. Given the harsh realities of the world, faith is the ability to see with the inner eye, to see what can not be seen with the natural eye." (Long, p. 114)
B. Faith's Hall of Heroes
1. Not random, chronological listing of OT believers who had faith in God
2. List contains 4 separate groups of believers. First 3 exhibit one of 3 virtues which define faith. Fourth is a listing of people and events exhibiting a mixture of those 3 virtues.
3. Three Virtues
b. Step Out in Faith
c. Tested by Suffering
4. Righteous (Abel, Enoch, Noah)
a. people who obeyed and thus pleased God
5. Step Out in Faith - i.e., journeyed obediently in faith (Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob)
a. some of whom did not received God's earthly promise before receiving his heavenly promise
6. Tested by Suffering (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses)
a. "To be sure, some forms of human suffering seem, even to the eyes of faith, to be random, chaotic, and meaningless. But faith sometimes has a different view, seeing suffering as a fire that forges steel or as a tilling of hard ground into the soil of compassion." (Long, p. 119)
Barclay, William. The New Daily Study Bible – The Letter to the Hebrews. London: Westminster John Knox Press, 2002
Harrison, Everett F. Interpretation Bible Studies. Louisville: John Knox Press, 2008
Long, Thomas G. Hebrews, Interpretation – A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching. Louisville: John Knox Press, 1997