Synopsis and Homework Week 16

“I know you can do this!” Hearing words like these can make a profound impact in your life. They are words that express confidence and give hope. When a father or mother or mentor blesses a child or student with these words, it almost always guarantees success. These words instill the drive and endurance that are necessary to achieve a goal. These words cause a person to graduate even if it takes four hard years of study. These words cause a person to bring a company from bankruptcy to solvency with energy to spare for years of successful operation. These words can even cause a person to step out into thin air.

It is God’s desire that His children, “heirs of the promise”, receive strong words of encouragement that create the type of hope that endures to the very end. In the latter example, one cannot be confidant absolutely because burden of success still rests on them. They know there are gaps in knowledge, strength, and understanding.

However, in this weeks text, Hebrews 6:13-18, God promises with an oath, “I will do this!”  God has no weakness and lacks nothing. God cannot lie. He swears with an unbreakable oath. Therefore our confidence in God is absolute. He will do what He promises. By the Blood of Jesus Christ, through the Power of the Holy Spirit, God will see to it that all who “take refuge” in Him, be birthed out of this broken world and live with Him in Glory for eternity!

A means by which He accomplishes this is HOPE!

HOMEWORK:

Read Romans 4:13-25 (This is another account of Abraham’s faith)

Verse 13 declares that Abraham, and everyone else that has the faith of Abraham (vs 16),  is heir of something. What is it?

 

 

Verse 17 states two things (or workings) of God that would give us cause to place confidence in His promise to us. What are they?

 

 

Abraham is not weakened in faith as he considered how old he and his wife Sarah were. Why is this? (verse 21)

 

 

Is this account of Abraham’s faith told only for the sake of Abraham? (verses 22-24)

 

 

The following is a definition of hope; circle all the important words and discuss them.

An expectation or belief in the fulfillment of something desired. [1]


[1] Walter A. Elwell and Barry J. Beitzel, Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), 996.

Synopsis and Homework Week 15

God reads the heart. Outward actions and expressions can fool the average observer, but God knows the underlying motivation for everything you do. This week the author of Hebrews encourages the reader, picturing a bright future, even though the reader has just been told they are not were they should be in the knowledge of God. Even though our author admonishes for drifting and being dull of hearing, the heart is still producing outward evidence of a born again life of sanctification.

Even though we don’t feel we desire the things of God, which includes His Word, Prayer, Worship, and community with the Body of Christ, the new heart that God placed in us when we placed our faith in Christ alone by His Grace is still beating strong. You feel dry as toast, but the heart in your chest is dripping with anticipation of a closer walk with Jesus.

This heart, a Grace Gift of God, is the key to our standing before Him. Though unseen, it is branded with the fingerprints of the Creator. It longs for God. It longs for righteousness. Even though it must battle daily our sin nature, our corrupt understanding, our lack of knowledge, and our bent forward selfishness, in the end our heart, autographed by God and sealed by the Spirit, WILL have its way.

The Apostle Paul describes a heart like this as “In Christ”.  In Christ you are a new creation and a child of God. (2 Corinthians 5:17, Galatians 3:26) In Christ we become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21) We can rejoice because our God knows who we are even when we doubt.

In Christ Alone Our Hope is Found…hey, someone should write a song…

HOMEWORK:

Read Matthew 25:31-46

 

How does the description of Jesus match that of chapter one of Hebrews? (Verse 31)

 

 

The final judgment takes place in verses 32 to 46. Jesus, the Great Shepherd, separates the “sheep’ (the children of God) and the “goats” (the children of wrath).

 

How did Jesus say he knew that the sheep where really the children of God?  (Verses 35-36)

 

 

Did the children of God (the sheep) totally understand the type of life they lived? (Verses 37-39)

 

 

What were the ‘eyes of the heart’ of the sheep able to see that the heart of the goats couldn’t? (Verse 44)

 

 

In this account of the final judgment, did Jesus judge according to a single moment in time or over the entire lifetime of the sheep and goats?

Synopsis and Homework Week 14

Being “thin-skinned” can be lethal. Our culture doesn’t take kindly to criticism in many cases. Sometimes even healthy criticism is labeled hate speech. To have your boss criticize your work and automatically assume “my boss hates me” can result in leaving a position for which you are well suited and severing a valuable relationship. Your boss recognized your value when hiring you and simply wants to see you get it right and be successful. Everyone who has our best interest in mind will always be found in the painful process of correcting our faults.

Thus far in our study of Hebrews, the author has warned us that we are “drifters”, “dull of hearing”, and “in danger of being burned up like a field of thorns and thistles”. The author either hates us or like a loving father gives us what we need to be successful. I suggest the latter. As we continue our study next week, we pick up with chapter 6 verse 9 and the knowledge that we are “beloved”. It becomes obvious that he does not believe that we will fall away and be lost. He is hopeful. He believes that we will hear the warnings and instead of filing a “hate speech” lawsuit, we will respond by saying thank you for keeping us alert to how fragile we can be in this culture of self-pity and self-indulgence.

We can say thank you to a loving author who reminds us to fight the fight of faith. We say thank you to one who reminds us to reject the promises of sin and hold fast to the promises of Christ.

HOMEWORK:

Read 2 Peter 1:3-15

 

How does Peter describe the Christian life of fighting for faith in verses 3 through 7?

 

 

 

What is the result in your life if the fruit of faithfulness in present and increasing?

(verse 8-10)

 

 

 

How sure is Peter that you will not fall away? (verse 11)

 

 

 

What does Peter see as a duty as he teaches and lives with fellow believers? (verses 12-15)

Synopsis and Homework Week 13

Like Solomon, your prayer life should include requests for wisdom. Life is filled with decisions. It seems as if we journey on life’s roadway from one crossroad to the next. In our text this week, (Hebrews 5:11-14) a serious problem is adjusted to clear focus. Although many people seem to “hang out” with God they don’t have even a basic understanding of who he is. In short, this text paints the image of a people who don’t recognize Jesus even after bumping into him and stepping on his foot. They dress themselves in “I Love Jesus” t-shirts but wouldn’t know him if he walked up and shook their hand.

I can purchase a birthday present for my wife with a high degree of confidence that she’ll enjoy my gift. I have never known her to return an article of clothing that I bought because it wasn’t her taste. Only on rare occasion does she exchange my gift for a different size. It’s not because I’m a genius. It’s because I’ve lived with her for over 30 years. I know from daily, detailed experience her taste in clothing. I know her size. I know how she likes clothes to fill and fit. When standing at the crossroads of gift purchases I get it right almost every time. I love her. She’s very important to me. I want to please her.

That’s really what it means to “drink the pure spiritual milk” of the Word of God and mature into a person that makes decisions with the mind of Christ. Our spiritual senses have been trained over time. Time spent in the Word. Crossroads aren’t bewildering when you have the mind of Christ. Crystal Balls and Tarot Cards are for the ignorant.

HOMEWORK:

Read Numbers 14:20-38

The author of Hebrews draws many examples from the record of Israel in the wilderness from the book of Numbers. Answer the following questions:

The people heard the spy’s bad report after scouting out the Promise Land. They stood at a crossroads; go forward into the Promise Land or turn back. What did God say about these people that should enable them to make the right decision? (verse 22)

 

How did God describe the people of Israel? (verse 23b)

 

How did God describe Caleb? (verse 24)

 

Why do you think Joshua and Caleb had such a different view of God and His promises from the rest of the people?

 

What is Hebrews 5:14 requesting you do?

Synopsis and Homework Week 12

In the days of Jesus’ life on earth he knew his purpose. He knew the need for a prefect once-for-all sacrifice to become the source of eternal salvation to everyone who placed their faith in the Perfect One alone. He knew he was that sacrifice. He knew exactly what John the Baptist was declaring when he pointed to Jesus and cried, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”

The author of Hebrews pulls back the curtain on Jesus’ earthly life and we see our worthy Savior walking daily, even minute by minute, with his Father in prayer. The weight of creation itself rested firmly on Jesus’ shoulders in this time of testing. One sin in his 33 years would send the entire salvation plan to the fiery abyss. One sin would end for all time the hope of eternity. The times of Jesus’ testing made famous in the Gospels, in the wilderness and in the garden with Satan, sometimes so overshadows his day to day life that many Christians fail to marvel at the love of our Savior to endure to the end for our sake. O how he loves us!

HOMEWORK:

The label “Christian” means to be like Christ. Many scratch their heads when thinking about his sinless life; most of the time it’s because we think of a Christ-like life as a list of do’s and don’ts. The author of Hebrews paints a much different picture. We see Jesus, with prayers and supplications, crying out to the Father for help. We see Jesus knowing without doubt that God is his only hope. We see Jesus living out his life loving righteousness and hating sin.

Read Romans 7:7 through 8:1

How did knowing the Law affect Paul? (see verses 7-11)

 

What happens to you when you try to live according to a list of do’s and don’ts?

 

Did Paul expect to live a perfect life? (see verses 15-20)

 

What did Paul love and what did Paul hate?

 

Where did Paul place his hope? (see verse 24)

Synopsis and Homework Week 11

A mentor taught me that prayer is a “wartime walkie-talkie”, not a bell to ring for the butler. I’m not calling to have my pillow fluffed, I’m asking my Leader, my General, my King instructions for battle. We have already drawn the battle lines in previous chapters. Our battle is against unbelief. We fight to trust. We meditate and pay much closer attention to the Word to believe what it says; to trust in the promises.

The greater our trust, the greater our confidence. The greater our confidence, the more we find ourselves before the Throne of Grace. The more we find ourselves before the Throne of Grace, the more help we receive to fight the battle. The pattern is clear. We don’t strive to do, we strive to believe. The doing comes from resting in the promises.

My help comes from a sympathetic High Priest. I am understood. My leader has been tested in every way that I am tested. I fail often, He never fails. Yet He has pity on me. I don’t arrive to find a mostly annoyed perfectionist when in need of help. I always find the perfect source of help. So, I come with confidence.

HOMEWORK:

Read Matthew 4:1-11

Jesus earthly ministry began with testing. It is the plan from the beginning. Being fully human (and also fully divine) there must be proof that Jesus is the sinless once for all sacrifice for the sin of the world. Notice that the first thing Jesus did, before the accuser was engaged, was fasted and prayed for forty days.

 

The detail of Jesus’ prayer and fasting is not stated in Scripture. However, based on what we have been encouraged to do by the author of Hebrews, what do you think the focus of Jesus’ prayer was to the Father in those forty days?

 

What did Jesus use to do battle with his accuser?

 

 

Synopsis and Homework Week 10

It is a comforting thought that medical technology will advance to the point one day of simply allowing your body to be scanned by an “all seeing” MRI type device. The device will look into the deepest recesses to assess our overall health. Knowing that not even the smallest cancer cell can escape its penetrating gaze, we joy in the long and healthy life anticipated with its aid.

Upon detecting the unwanted, our miracle device constructs a series of “nanobot” doctors who enter the body through the smallest drop of liquid in the eye. No invasive surgery, no long recovery periods, only busy little robots working silently inside your body. These tiny doctors locate, subdue, and destroy disease like the perfect instruments they are.

Instinctively, the body knows it’s been healed. The morning walk to the office is with light energetic steps. You feel like singing…and you do! You frequently visit the device for continuing medical and health assessment. It becomes part of daily life.

Hebrews chapter four verses twelve and thirteen paints a strikingly similar image of daily life in the Word of God for the believer.  The Word of God, like a sharp penetrating gaze, looks deep into the soul and spirit. Its job is to assess the heart. Like cancer, unbelief can take your life. The Scriptures destroy unbelief and rest the heart firmly on the promises of God.

Instinctively, the heart knows it’s healed. The morning walk to the office is with light energetic steps. You feel like singing…and you do! You frequently visit the Word for continuing spiritual health assessment. It becomes part of daily life.

HOMEWORK:

Read John 8:39-47 (Jesus and the Pharisees argue over who belongs to God and truth)

Sometimes one can see the power of the Word of God in a believer’s life by looking at a negative example. The Pharisees would not hear the Words of Jesus. They didn’t believe. Jesus goes on to explain that they didn’t hear His Words because they couldn’t bear the sound of them. Jesus correctly assessed that they didn’t belong to God. Their father was the devil. Their father is the father of lies.

In verse 42 what does Jesus say about a true child of God in relation to Himself?

In verse 47 what does Jesus say will happen when the Word of God is spoken to a child of God?

Synopsis and Homework Week 9

I grew up and lived the majority of my adult life in the cold war era. We had an enemy. The enemy was well defined. Its name was communism. I feared communism. I would strive to live a life free of communism. The thought of including anything in my life that reflected communism was repugnant.

I don’t say this to start a debate about democracy verses communism. That’s not the point. Please don’t go down a political trail. Just understand, in my culture, in my upbringing, and in my heart communism was feared…deeply.

I say this to introduce you to how I see the author of Hebrews introducing the idea that we as Christians have one thing to fear…unbelief. Unbelief is the root cause of everyone who falls away from God. Unbelief is the root cause of everyone who fails to enter God’s rest. It should be feared. (Hebrews 4:1)

Therefore, in this paradox we call the Christian life, we live without fear in this world by fearing unbelief. We rest in God by striving to live in God’s design for the Christian. (Hebrews 4:11) We fight to win a race we know we can’t lose.

There is only one way to live a fearless life resting in God and that is striving to destroy unbelief.  To strive means to devote serious effort or energy. The reason we devote serious effort toward destroying unbelief is clear. Whoever fails to strive, as did OT Israel, will fall on the way, fail to enter God’s rest, and be yet another example of disobedience.

HOMEWORK:

Read Philippians 2:12-18

Paul is instructing the church in Philippi to work out their salvation with fear and trembling. (Verse 12) How does this idea of Paul’s line up with the idea of striving to enter God’s rest? (Hebrews 4:11)

Paul presents an example of working out your salvation as (verse 16) holding fast to the Word of life. How does this idea of Paul’s line up with the idea of exhort one another as long as it is called today? (Hebrews 3:13)

Paul urged the Philippians to stand true, to have the mind of Christ, and to work out their salvation in obedience. Above all, they were called to be like Christ. And in verse 17 and 18 what was the end result of this striving? Hint: Rejoicing!…Joy in Responsibility!

Synopsis and Homework Week 8

One doesn’t hear the word exhort much any more. Simply put, when the Bible requires us to “exhort one another” we are to talk to each other. (Hebrews 3:13)  Not just trivial conversation, but life changing, life molding, conversation. Such conversation can only happen when we exhort one another with the Word of God.

Patriarch Project places a heavy emphasis on mentoring through Bible study. When the author of Hebrews tells us to exhort one another every day the picture that it paints is Christians hungry for the truth gathering often with mentors and peers growing in Christ.

The result is living a life of solid Christ-like decisions and holding firm our hope to the very end. God has a design for living out the Christian life. Part of that design is life together, in the Word, growing and holding fast.

Homework:

King Solomon was wiser and more impactful in the world in which he reigned than any other king in history. Most of us are familiar with the account of God asking Solomon what he desired. Solomon responded that he desired to lead the nation with wisdom. God gave him wisdom unparalleled by any before or since. Wisdom enabled his life to overflow with accomplishments. God was so pleased with Solomon’s response that He gave Solomon much more. (Read 2 Chronicles 1:7-13)

Now, how did Solomon come to ask so wisely for wisdom? Did he just happen to ask God for the right thing at the right time? The answer is clear: Solomon had a father, King David, who years before spent time with his son in exhortation. That’s right, Solomon had a mentor. It was his father who told him what to seek. It was his father who passed on the wisdom of the Word of God to his son. If King David had not prepared the way for his son, Solomon would not have known what to ask for and how to build all those wonderful projects. (Read 1 Chronicles 22:11-16)

List all the ways Solomon stood on the shoulders of his father…

Synopsis and Homework Week 7

The author of the book of Hebrews attests to the Scriptures being the very Word of God when chapter 3 verse 7 opens our study with the words… “Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says”. The proceeding verses are a direct quote from Psalm 95. By implication then, God wrote the Psalms (and the rest of Scripture).  Don’t overlook this amazing truth.

The Bible, though penned by human hands, is not man’s words about God. It is God’s word about Himself. To open the Bible and read is to step into the presence of God.  That is why Romans 10:17 says;

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

Psalm 95 and 96 were utilized as a call to worship in the days of the Temple in Jerusalem. Both paint glorious pictures of our God and both make very serious warnings about those with hearts that fall away from God’s Glory.

The author of Hebrews has our best interest at heart with the very serious warnings that we encountered in chapter 2 verse 1 and now in chapter 3 verses 7 through 19.  The book of Hebrews paints a majestic picture of Jesus and announces stern warnings to all who do not treasure Him.

So, Hebrews is teaching us that true faith, saving faith, is enduring faith. So far we have seen that God uses (but not limited too) two “means” by which our faith WILL endure to the end. The first being a heavenly host of angels as life long helpers (chapter 1 verse 14). The second is His Word (the Bible) as stated in chapter 2 verse 1 and chapter 3 verses 7-8, 15 as warnings.

It is clear the author of Hebrews does not think a born again believer can lose their salvation. In fact, verse 6b and verse 14 teach just the opposite. However, they both teach eternal security not by looking to the past, but look to the future as proof one is truly part of the house of God.

This is the way all believers must live! In community, in the Word, growing in faith each day. This life is a war. The enemy, the devil, would have us drift blissfully into hell. Instead, we swim with all our might upstream, fighting against the schemes and darkness of this world. The reason we fight to persevere is not because we may be lost, but to prove we are not.

HOMEWORK:

Read Hebrews 3:7-19 again. Now focus on verse 12 and answer the following question:

Is verse 12 a “throw away” verse for the Christian? If not, why not?