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Hebrews: All About Faith

Hebrews is one of the three New Testament commentaries on a single Old Testament verse:The just shall live by his faith. (Hab 2:4b KJV)This is the verse that struck a fire in the heart of Martin Luther, and began the Protestant Reformation 450 years ago. This verse opened the eyes of Augustine, and helped him to become a mighty man of faith, and it is still striking fire in many hearts today. It is expanded and amplified in Romans, Ephesians, and Hebrews Each of these Epistles emphasizes a different aspect of that statement.The book of Romans talks about the just -- the justified -- those who have been accepted as righteous in Jesus Christ. The just shall live by faith. The book of Ephesians emphasized the words "shall live," and it tells us about life as a justified person -- the walk in the Spirit, the life in Jesus, the life of Christ in us -- the just shall live by faith. And finally, the book of Hebrews takes up the last two words, "by faith," and it shows us how to lay hold of the life by which we are justified.

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What Faith Is (Hebrews 11:1-7)

The eleventh chapter of Hebrews is one of the best known of the great chapters of the Bible. It has been called the Westminster Abbey of Scripture because the heroes of faith are enshrined here. Perhaps that is a misnomer, for I have been in Westminster Abbey and it gave me the sense of being in a tomb. There are a lot of dead people there, but there are no dead people in this chapter. These are all living saints, triumphant men and women who have lived life and gone on into a new relationship. I prefer, then, to call this The Parade of the Heroes of Faith.

20 Sep 2018

Rank #1

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Dealing with Doubt (Hebrews 6:13 - 7:26)

Our last study in Hebrews 6 revealed a very sobering possibility. We may look back upon a conversion experience accompanied by joy, release, and forgiveness -- it may have been twenty or thirty years ago. But the opening verses of Chapter 6 make very clear that, if there is no permanent change in our life today as a result of that conversion experience, then we have only been kidding ourselves: We are not Christians. Despite the religious activities we may have faithfully performed in the intervening years, if we are still the same persons in our dispositions and attitudes, our reactions to other people, then we are not Christians. We are still without life -- dead!

25 Sep 2018

Rank #2

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The Unfolding Pattern (Hebrews 9:24 - 10:18)

Hebrews is the book that distinguishes clearly between the shell of Christianity and the real meat of it. It helps us to see the difference between shadow and substance, the picture and reality. A man would be a fool who would prefer reading a cookbook to eating a good meal when he is hungry -- not that there is anything wrong with reading a cookbook, it can be very enlightening, but it is not very nourishing. Yet many a Christian concerns himself with the externals of Christian faith and misses completely the dynamic, radical, revolutionary concepts of it. Jesus did not say, "You shall know the rules and be bound by them." What he said was, "You shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free," (John 8:32 RSV).

22 Sep 2018

Rank #3

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Triumph or Tragedy (Hebrews 10:19-39)

Most of the arguments that are launched against the Christian faith today are based on a caricature, a distorted view of Christianity. When the world once sees the real thing, it has little to say in opposition. It is this true faith which the book of Hebrews so masterfully sets forth before us. It reveals clearly the difference between the false and the true. The false way of living as a Christian is to believe and try harder. That is the Avis Car Rental motto, "We Try Harder," and it appears in the common attitude, "I'll do my best, and God will do the rest." That sounds deceptively pious, even sanctimonious and very Christian, but it is utterly false! As we have been seeing in Hebrews the true way is to believe and fully trust, for God is in you both to will and to work his good pleasure. Your willing is therefore his willing, unless he shows you differently; your working is his working, unless he shows you otherwise.

21 Sep 2018

Rank #4

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How Faith Works (Hebrews 11:8 - 12:2)

This past week I attended two graduation exercises for local schools. At each, able young orators with admirable self-assurance told us what was wrong with the world and what improvements we can expect when their generation takes control. Behind all the truly fine words there was evident one philosophy. It was that the human mind, educated to a high degree, was, in its collective manifestation, a completely adequate instrument with which to solve human problems. Now, the writer of Hebrewschallenges that philosophy head-on. He says that man's reason, operating alone, invariably misinterprets the evidence, and that it was never intended so to operate; that reason is a beautiful instrument designed of God and excellently suited for the realm in which it was intended to operate, but that man's reason, as it exists now, is deprived of an essential dimension of life. That missing dimension is an absolutely necessary ingredient if we ever expect to solve our problems.

19 Sep 2018

Rank #5