Monday, May 1, 2017

Apostasy - continued

One problem of early church = Apostasy
Definition = to abandon, denounce or turn away from one's faith.

Hence the Book of Hebrews - the whole book deals with the tendency of the early believers to fall away.

The author begins by noting the Superiority of Christ - Heb. 1:1-3 - Christ is God in the flesh come to earth.

He follows saying:
I)  The message delivered by Christ is far superior to the message delivered by the angels - Heb. 2:2-4.  The Jews believed that angels were instrumental in bringing previous messages, ie. the Mosaic Law.  However, the author in no way belittles the Law.

II)  The instructions and promises of Christ are far superior to those of Moses.  Heb. 3:5-6 - Moses talked face to face with God and was a faithful servant.  However, Christ Jesus was the Son!

III)  The rest offered to the followers of Christ is far superior to the rest offered by Moses.  Heb. 4:8-11

IV)  The priestly intercession of Christ is far superior to the intercession of the Mosaic priesthood. - Heb. 7:23-26

V)  The sacrifice of Christ is far, far superior to the ritual sacrifices of the Law.  Heb. 9:13-14

SO - therefore - Heb. 2:1 = paraphrase:  what Christ offers is far superior to what you had before ... therefore don't be so foolish as to give up/turn back!!  - As awesome as the previous was, how much more awesome is this in Christ!

This above is a likely outline because:
#1. If Jewish Christians were to turn back - what would they likely turn back to?

However, #2 if the book were written to Gentile Christians, what would they likely turn back to?

Suppose #3 the book was written to 21st. century American Christians, what would they likely turn back to?

They would turn back to:
(1)  Nominal Christianity - ie:  a profession of the faith with out the practice.  Verbal affirmation without visible application

(2)  A secular lifestyle - which doesn't deny God's existence, but denies His concern, involvement - not atheistic

(3)  A philosophy of self-fulfillment which says "God wants me to be happy".  Therefore, I live my life the way that makes me happy, and then God will be happy with me because I am happy, etc.

Important point when reading Hebrews:
On one hand, the illustrations would change according to the times, culture, audience
However, the admonitions that accompany the illustrations would NOT CHANGE!!   Therefore they are easily applicable!!!   fit any time, any culture, any where.  There are 40+ clear directions in the Book of Hebrews.

Ever-Applicable Admonitions:

#1.  Fix your thoughts on Jesus - focus on, watch. Heb. 3:1, 12:2-3  - "don't be distracted" - One value of Sunday Worship = refocus your gaze!  It's so easy to get caught up in all the other nonsense!

#2.  Approach the throne, ie:  go there - Heb. 4:16, 10:22   He died to clear the way.  (this is NOT after all else has failed!!!)

#3.  Encourage one another - we're better together.   Heb. 3:13, 10:24-25
Obviously, we are to help one another along - but it is also true - those who assist are less likely to fall!!
(need a blessing? - Go help someone who needs a blessing!)  No better way to find one.

#4.  Endure hardship - Heb. 12:7, 10-12
Discipline can be punishment - painful, but the point of it is correction and training - so endure it.  man-up, Christian-up!

#5.  Go on to maturity - Heb. 6:1, 5:11-14
Point being = if you don't want to slip back, keep moving forward!   Can't just stand in one spot.

Closing:  2 Cor. 13:5   "......test yourselves"
Question is Not "are you affiliated with the faith?" but is "are you active in the faith?"

Closing Scripture:  2 Thess. 2:13-17

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