Tuesday, December 1, 2015

P2 Bullet-proofing your Christian faith - Book of Hebrews

Hebrews 2:1-4 "For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. 2 For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, 3 how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, 4 God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will."

The writer of Hebrews is writing out under Divine inspiration what appears to have been a sermon or series of messages to Jewish Christian converts who were tempted to leave Jesus and go back to Judaism. The key theme to the book of Hebrews is showing to us the superiority of Jesus Christ. 

Today's post picks up where we left off yesterday. We wanted to know how a Christian can bullet-proof their faith. Thus far we have considered two points from consideration of the Book of Hebrews:

1. Center your focus on the greatness of Jesus Christ

2. Cling to the greatness of Jesus Christ (by heeding the warnings)

Today we continue and conclude this short two-part study by noting the third way one can bullet-proof their Christian faith....

3. Consider how much greater Jesus is than the temptation
If the first thought has to do with centering on the greatness of Jesus in-and-of-itself and the second has to do with clinging to such greatness, then this last point serves to reinforce the first two by revealing why Jesus is greater than the temptation. Hebrews 2:3 poses the question: "how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?" For Jews reading this letter, Jesus would have to be shown greater than every standard of greatness that they knew. Even the greatness of key Biblical figures - wonderful as they are - can become idols if used to substitute for Jesus. Hence, in Hebrews 1 we find Jesus is greater than the angels. In Hebrews 3 we find Jesus is greater than Moses. On and on the writer goes, parading one great Jewish illuminary after another. In Hebrews 7 we find Jesus is greater than Abraham, followed up by Him being greater than the entire Old Testament sacrificial system that looked forward to Him in Hebrews 8-10. 

Now of course most readers of his post have not derived from a Jewish background. However, the principle of considering Jesus greater than our temptation applies readily to us today. 
Even good things like success, money, family, ministry-life, exercise, sports, food and leisure can quickly become idols if we place them is that spot that is reserved for Jesus, and Jesus alone. Certainly the pull of the old-life before conversion issues its siren calls to our flesh. I won't take time to rehearse the numerous scriptures that show the reader the inadequacy and hell-bound trajectory that had been the pre-conversion life (an example: Ephesians 2:1-4,12). 

So often the writers of scripture will put before the reader the incomparable greatness of God in fending off temptation. 1 Corinthians 10:13 is a prime example - "No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it." I'm reminded of a warning Solomon issues to his son in Proverbs 3:19-22 "The Lord by wisdom founded the earth,By understanding He established the heavens. 20 By His knowledge the deeps were broken up
And the skies drip with dew. 21 My son, let them not vanish from your sight;
Keep sound wisdom and discretion,
22 So they will be life to your soul
And adornment to your neck." 

In as much our hearts are needed in passionately following after Jesus - we musn't forget the mind. If anything, whatever the mind deems to be the highest good will result in the heart following (see Matthew 6:24-33). Considering Jesus as greater than our temptation entails engagement of the mind and heart. Sadly, Christians today do not fill their minds with the great truths of the Word of God. Whenever you read the Book of Hebrews, notice how many scriptures the writer quotes and how much sound doctrine he uses in urging his readers to focus on the greatness of Christ. 

Certainly a Christian faith that is all head and no heart is dry; but a Christian faith that is all heart and no head stands the greatest chance of near-death. Remember: the heart is the seat of your emotional and living personality. The hearts needs a leader. If we are not regularly filling our minds with scripture - what greatest good is there to occupy our thoughts?

If we are going to bullet-proof our faith, we need to consider the greatness of jesus Christ greater than our temptation, as well as center on His greatness and thus cling to it. 

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