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3. Authentic Christianity involves Redemption. Hebrews 13:20c reads, “. . . that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant. . .” Dr. Albert Barnes comments, “That great shepherd of the sheep. John 10:1, 14. The idea here is, that it is through the tender care of that great Shepherd that true happiness is bestowed on the people of God. Through the blood of the everlasting covenant. The blood shed to ratify the everlasting covenant that God makes with his people. Hebrews 9:14, Hebrews 9:15-23. This phrase, in the original, is not connected, as it is in our translation, with his being raised from the dead; nor should it be so rendered, for what can be the sense of ‘raising Christ from the dead by the blood of the covenant?’ In the Greek it is, ‘The God of peace, who brought again from the dead the shepherd of the sheep, great by the blood of the everlasting covenant, our Lord Jesus,’ etc. The meaning is, that he was made or constituted the great Shepherd of the sheep-the great Lord and Ruler of his people, by that blood. That which makes him so eminently distinguished; that by which he was made superior to all others who ever ruled over the people of God, was the fact that he offered the blood by which the eternal covenant was ratified. It is called everlasting or eternal, because it was formed in the councils of eternity, or has been an eternal plan in the Divine Mind; and because it is to continue for ever. Through such a covenant God can bestow permanent and solid ‘peace’ on his people, for it lays the foundation of the assurance of eternal happiness.”[i]
Dr. Clarence Macartney shares, “The scholarly and cultivated son of a Chinese Christian pastor recently wrote an article under the heading, ‘I Am A Pagan.’ He declared that he has renounced Christianity, and as a proof of that renunciation, he says that he has abandoned the idea of redemption. This Chinese man was sensible enough and frank enough to confess that when you have abandoned the idea of redemption, you have abandoned Christianity.”[ii]
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 reads, “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” 1 Corinthians 7:23a reads, “You were bought at a price. . .” Romans 3:24-25 reads, “being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed.” Hebrews 2:17 reads, “Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.” 1 John 4:10 reads, “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” Jesus is the propitiation or the atoning sacrifice.
Rev. Charles H. Spurgeon writes, “What He did was for us. He is the great Shepherd of the sheep, and therefore what He did was for the sheep.”[iii] Dr. Adolph Saphir (1831-1891) writes, “From all eternity God purposed in Himself the counsel of peace; and when by reason of sin, discord and misery came into the world, the Lord always comforted His people by the promise of redemption.”[iv]
4. Authentic Christianity involves Regeneration. Hebrews 13:21a reads, “make you complete. . .” Dr. J. Vernon McGee (1904-1988) comments, “. . . this has been the purpose of the Epistle to the Hebrews. We have been told, ‘Let us go on to perfection.’ He means for us to go on to maturation, to being full-grown children of God. It is marvelous to admire a little baby lying in the crib, but if you come back in twenty years and he is still lying there, saying, ‘Da-da-da,’ something is radically wrong. There are a lot of such saints who need to come to maturation, to grow up, and the Epistle to the Hebrews will help them to do that.”[v]
When a machine is broken it is out of order and it must be repaired to work properly, everyone has irreparable damage from a human standpoint due to sin. Only God can fix the problem of sin in our life. We must be regenerated to be made complete and totally functional.
Dr. Albert Barnes comments, “Make you perfect. The apostle here does not affirm that they were then perfect, or that they would be in this life. The word here used [translated perfect] means, to make fully ready, to put in full order; to make complete. The meaning here is, that Paul prayed that God would fully endow them with whatever grace was necessary to do his will and to keep his commandments. . . . It is an appropriate prayer to be offered at all times, and by all who love the church, that God would make all his people perfectly qualified to do all his will.”[vi]
Rev. Charles H. Spurgeon writes, “The passage would be better rendered, ‘make you fit in every good work to do His will,’ and the original Greek word properly means to reset a bone that is dislocated. The meaning of the text is this: by the fall all our bones are out of joint for the doing of the Lord’s will, and the desire of the apostle is that the Lord will set the bones in their places, and thus make us able with every faculty and in every good work to do His will. The first part of the prayer, then, is for fitness for holiness.”[vii] Rev. Spurgeon writes, “Every generation needs regeneration.”[viii]
Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) writes, “To expect Christian conduct from a person who is not born again is rank heresy.”[ix]
5. Authentic Christianity involves Realization. Hebrews 13:21b reads, “. . . in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” Dr. Thomas D. Lea comments, “The supreme desire of the prayer was that God would provide the readers with everything good for doing his will and to produce in their lives only what is pleasing to him. The work of God is necessary to make man’s work a reality. If God produces in us what is pleasing to him, we will be supremely equipped to do his will.”[x]
Dr. F. B. Meyer (1847-1929) writes, “THE BURDEN OF THE PRAYER is that these Hebrew Christians may be made perfect to do God’s will. There is no higher aim in life than to do the will of God. It was the supreme object for which our Saviour lived. This brought Him from heaven. This determined His every action. And human lives climb up from the lowlands to the upland heights just in proportion as they do the will of God on earth as it is done in heaven. God is love; to do His will is to scatter love in handfuls of blessing on a weary world. God is light; to do His will is to tread a path that shines more and more to the perfect day. God is life; to do His will is to eat of the Tree of Life, and live for ever, and to drink deep draughts of the more abundant life, which Jesus gives. God is the God of hope; to do His will is to be full of all joy and peace, and to abound in hope.”[xi]
Dr. Albert Barnes comments, “Working in you. Doing. The idea here is, that the only hope that they would do the will of God was, that he would, by his own agency, cause them to do what was well-pleasing in his sight: Comp. Philippians 2:12. It is not from any expectation that man would do it himself. Through Jesus Christ. The idea is, that God does not directly and by his own immediate agency convert and sanctify the heart, but it is through the gospel of Christ, and all good influences on the soul must be expected through the Saviour.”[xii]
Dr. John Alison (1835-1902) writes, “The soul into which privilege is over running without any outflow of service will become a stagnant and acrid Dead Sea in which no spiritual thing lives.”[xiii]
Dr. Thomas D. Lea explains, “Authentic Christianity produces people who live well. The devoted follower of Christ demonstrates love for the Lord, unselfishness, concern for others, stamina in trial, and hope for the future. Quite a superior product! Christianity is best known by the devoted people it produces.”[xiv] Dr. Vance Havner (1901-1986) laments, “Today great churches have been filled with a host of members without a personal experience of Christ and others who may be believers but know next to nothing about the Holy Spirit. These people can be aroused into religious activity in the flesh . . . the biggest evangelistic field is the average Sunday morning congregation . . . Such a Sunday morning approach does not meet with the favor of some ministers because it would be a bombshell to call some of our ‘best’ members to repentance. True revival begins within the church calling Christians to a new life in the Spirit, but it also means converting thousands of present members for the first time to a new birth by the Spirit. That is a stupendous task considering the way things are today and involves far more than popular meetings, happy singing, and canvassing new ‘prospects.’”[xv]
Don’t settle for anything less than authentic Christianity.
[i]Barnes, Notes, 332.
[ii]Lamb, Bodey , 118-119.
[iii]Spurgeon, Metropolitan, 452.
[iv]Adolph Saphir, Lectures on Hebrews, Vol. 2, Chapters 8-13 (London: John F. Shaw and Co. 1874), 442.
[v]J. Vernon McGee, Thru The Bible Commentary Series: The Epistles: Hebrews 8-13 (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1991), 151.
[vi]Barnes, Notes, 332-333.
[vii]Spurgeon, Metropolitan, 454.
[viii]John Blanchard, The Complete Gathered Gold: A treasury of quotations for Christians , (Evangelical Press 2006), 520, Database © 2007 WORDsearch Corp.
[ix]Simon J. Kistemaker, New Testament Commentary: Hebrews (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 1984), 429. Database © 2008 WORDsearch Corp.
[x]Holman New Testament Commentary, ed. Max Anders, Hebrews & James, Thomas D. Lea (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999), Database © 2005 WORDsearch Corp.
[xi]F. B. Meyer, The Way Into the Holiest: Expositions of the Epistle to the Hebrews (New York, NY: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1893), 270-271.[xii]Barnes, Notes, 333.
[xiii]The Biblical Illustrator, ed. Joseph S. Exell, “Importance of Service” John Alison (Hebrews 13:20-21) Accessed: 03/30/15 http://biblehub.com/commentaries/illustrator/hebrews/13.htm .
[xiv]Holman, Lea, Hebrews 10, Introduction.
[xv]Vance Havner, Don’t Miss Your Miracle (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1985), 62.