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Nov 2 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

November 1, 2020


Intro: I lost a few years of my life in conferences, seminars, and, forums

What I took away from each one was–a notebook
– and those notebooks mostly sat on shelves collecting dust
• after taking in all the information in first twelve chapters of Hebrews,
◦ we need clarity on how to turn these ideas into actions
• in chapter 13 the writer revisits themes in his book,
◦ and supplying simple instructions for incorporating them into our lives
Luke T. Johnson, “Virtually everything said here echoes earlier passages in which the author praises what his hearers are doing or exhorts them to do. Indeed, the several references to memory in this section suggest that the hearers are already well aware of their obligations.”

From verse 18-25 in chapter 12, the writer addressed the readers as “you”
– then, abruptly in verse 25 he shifts to “we”
• both of these second-person pronouns imply a collective group
◦ a community, and communities are built on relationships between people
• the friendships I made at the conferences I attended
◦ were more important to me than content I took home
– the theme of chapter 13 is our relationships with others
• here we learn practical responsibilities that hold a community together
Craig Koester, “By calling for compassion, hospitality, faithfulness, and generosity, the author of Hebrews emphasizes community-building values that listeners would find hard to reject.”

Relating to others in community – our nearest and dearest
Let brotherly love continue. Hebrews 13:1

In No Longer Strangers, Bruce Larson explores “relational theology”
Larson, “I do not believe that the preaching of doctrine, no matter how sound or how stimulating intellectually, does much in itself to enable relationships. . . . It merely describes life without enabling life.” “Very simply . . . God became flesh in the Incarnation and lived among us in Jesus Christ and died and was raised from the dead . . . . Jesus Christ came to enable relationships that bring people closer to one another and closer to God.”
– “brotherly love” translates the Greek word philadelphia
• this compound word literally means love for a brother or sister
– in scripture, love is more a matter of doing more than feeling
• sometimes a writer will add the feeling part, as Paul did here:
Love one another with brotherly affection (Ro. 12:10)
◦ but in love, doing and feeling cannot be separated
◦ they complete one movement of cause and effect
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son (Jn. 3:16)
• the writer stresses the “doing” half here – this would include:
listening – how we get to know each other as a “person”
giving – whatever we have; time, food, wisdom, and so on
Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace (1 Pe. 4:8-11)
forgiving – because every relationship cycles through ruptures and repair

There are people, who because of their “disordered thinking,”
– work against Christian unity and love
William Barclay talks about the “danger of heresy-hunting” and says that the “very desire to preserve the faith clean and pure tends to make men eager to track down and to eliminate the heretic and the man whose faith has gone astray. . . . It is a great thing to keep the faith clean; but when the desire to do so makes us censorious, critical, fault-finding, condemning, harsh and unsympathetic, brotherly love is destroyed, and we are left with a situation which is worse than the situation which we tried to avoid.”
• how do we deal with this? A first line of defense would be Paul’s advice
I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ (Ro. 16:17-18)

Relating to others outside our community
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Hebrews 13:2

This instruction is given to us in its negative form, Do not neglect
– if philadelphia is love for a brother, philoxenia (“hospitality”) is love for the stranger
• the writer assumes that we show hospitality to each other
• strangers always appear “strange,” because the are “different” from us
◦ they look different, act different, speak a different language
◦ hospitality is a first step in making new friends
– we never find Jesus eating alone, but every time, with others
• and each meal was an opportunity to teach and reveal insights
• most often, he was the guest
◦ and he would eat with anyone who invited him
◦ a wedding reception, homes of Pharisees, homes of tax collectors
◦ even after his resurrection he broke bread with two disciples at Emmaus and ate a fish in the upper room with the other disciples
• more than once Jesus hosted a meal
◦ feeding the multitudes, the last supper, a breakfast in Galilee
◦ and in the kingdom of God he will host the marriage supper of the Lamb
Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them (Lk. 12:37)

I’ve always found the part about angels enchanting
– the possibility of hosting an angel in disguise
• a different way to think about foreigners than our usual perspective
• we underestimate the relational power of a smile
◦ you can cheer someone up, make them feel special, welcome
◦ you can even communicate comfort and support with a gentle smile
– it seems to me that Christians who know their home is a gift of God,
• tend to be more open in sharing it
• Christians who know the emotional lift of good food,
◦ enjoy preparing meals and treats for others

Relating to those who are in trouble
Remember those who are in prison, as thought in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. Hebrews 13:3

If we’re not to neglect strangers, we must be proactive with prisoners
– these Christians had experienced mistreatment and imprisonment (10:32-34)
• Jesus gives a longer list of people to care for
I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me (Mt. 25:35-36)
– the writer makes a strong argument for empathy
regarding prisoners: as though in prison with them
regarding mistreated: you also are in the body
• identify with them, imagine yourself in their situation
◦ this is the attitude of the person who prays a prayer of intercession
• sharing a “body” connection with others is powerful,
◦ because it is the way Jesus learned to have empathy with us
Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things (Heb. 2:14)
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses (Heb. 4:15)
◦ Paul’s last sentences in his letter to Colossians
I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you (Col. 4:18)

Relating to spouses (our own and those of others)
Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. Hebrews 13:4

This also has to do with our being in the body; our physical selves
– Paul’s lessons on marriage also have to do with body (1 Cor. chs. 6-7)
• we are to have a high view of marriage
Luke Johnson, “In Israel marriage was a natural symbol for covenantal loyalty between God and humans, quite literally as well, since obedience to the commandment not to serve other gods and not to commit adultery are both fundamental expressions of the covenant . . . .”
• this is the one place where sex is holy–the marriage bed
sexually immoral translates the Greek word pornos
◦ in the New Testament, it generally refers to sex outside of marriage

Relating to God
Keep your life free from the love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say,
“The Lord is my helper
I will not fear;
what can man do to me?”

Again the Greek word, philia, love
– this time it is used in regard to money
• love of money is a major competitor to devotion to God (Mt. 6:24)
excess is implied, and for the believer excluded, in respect to both sex and money
◦ a proper use without misuse is the guideline
– our Christian source of contentment is not detachment from the world
• but having God, who is our helper, provider, and constant source of joy
You make known to me that path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore (Psa. 16:11)
What God says: I will never leave you or forsake you
What we say in response: The Lord is my helper; I will not fear . . . .

Relating to our former spiritual leaders
Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.

The people who helped form our faith never lose their importance to us
– even if they have passed from this life
• their lessons and example still inspire faith and devotion
• so we are to:
Remember them
Consider the outcome of their lives
Imitate their faith
– these are people who spoke to [us] the word of God
• we are blessed to have had leaders like this
• eventually the true Christian leader disappears
◦ like a good referee or umpire, who is forgotten after the game
◦ referees can spoil a game by drawing too much attention to themselves
• spiritual leaders do not create a dependency on themselves
◦ the prepare the community to follow Jesus after their departure
I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me (2 Pe. 1:13-14)

Relating to Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8

The community’s ultimate leader, is Jesus Christ
– and he remains forever (7:23-24)
• earlier in Hebrews we learned the Scriptures said of Jesus,
You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning,
and the heavens are the work of your hands;
they will perish, but you remain;
they will all wear out like a garment,
like a robe you will roll them up,
like a garment they will be changed.
But you are the same
[the Greek word used here in Heb. 13:8],
and your years will have no end (Heb. 1:10-12)
Richard Baukham, “He remains himself eternally and can therefore be trusted in the present and the future just as he was in the past.”
• God says, “I am” and explains to us what that means in our timeframe
I am the Alpha and Omega . . . who is and who was and who is to come (Rev. 1:8)
yesterday and today and forever
– the writer refers to the Lord as Jesus Christ
• his name and a title — the human person and his divine mission
• we could spend the entire day exploring these two words

Conclusion: Suppose these verses were a check-list

Which boxes would I need to mark?
– where do I need the most improvement?
• it would be an easy task for me; I would check them all

So that we won’t have to memorize these verses or all the commandments,
there is a short version: LOVE
We can love others in the ways we need to be loved
We can love God by trusting him and being content with having him
We can love Jesus by staying close to him

We can
It is doable,
because God’s love
has been poured into our hearts
through the Holy Spirit
who has been given to us
Romans 5:5

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