In light of Christ’s sacrifice and His unchanging nature, we are to hold fast to the gospel truth as revealed in Scripture. Diverse teachings that deviate from grace need to be challenged and rejected. Moreover, we are called to identify with Christ in a hostile and critical world system that promotes relativism vs absolute truth. Through the cross/blood we are considered holy “in Christ” even becoming a holy priesthood according to Peter.
“you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” 1 Peter 2:5.
May we be encouraged today through study of God’s living Word as we endure for “…the city that is to come.” Indeed, may we find out what pleases our God, even beyond doing good and sharing with others to the glory of God!
v. 9 Are we so familiar with the gospel truth as revealed through Scripture that we know when strange (foreign to the gospel) teachings are presented?
We as genuine and maturing disciples of Christ are called to be so familiar with and “contend for the faith once and for all entrusted…” Jude 3. Our familiarity with the gospel and the power of God allows us to discern strange and varied teachings.
“All kinds” = many colored….
It is good for our hearts (our whole inner life) to be strengthened by grace, hence by God.
What is biblical grace? The following quotes reflect the dynamic nature of grace:
“We have to be on our guard against the supposition that grace is an abstract quality; it is an active personal principle, showing itself in our dealings with those by whom we are surrounded. … In the great proportion of passages in which the word grace is found in the New Testament, it signifies the unmerited operation of God in the heart of man, effected through the agency of the Holy Spirit. We have gradually come to speak of grace as an inherent quality in man, just as we talk of gifts; whereas it is in reality the communication of Divine goodness by the inworking of the Spirit, and through the medium of Him who is ‘full of grace and truth.’” — Robert Girdlestone, Synonyms of the Old Testament (London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1871), p. 179.
“Against a still common view it must be stated that in Paul χαρις does not mean primarily a divine attribute (Wobbe, Charis-Gedanke, 32). It does not mean, in good Greek fashion, God’s graciousness, nor concretely his free love (Taylor). It almost always means the power of salvation which finds expression in specific gifts, acts, and spheres and which is even individualized in the charismata.” —Ernst Käsemann, Commentary on Romans, trans. G. Bromiley (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1980), p. 14.
“In Paul … χαρις is never merely an attitude or disposition of God (God’s character as gracious); consistently it denotes something much more dynamic—the wholly generous act of God. Like ‘Spirit,’ with which it overlaps in meaning (cf., e.g., [Rom] 6:14 and Gal 5:18), it denotes effective divine power in the experience of men.” —James D.G. Dunn, Romans 1-8 (Dallas: Word Books, 1988), p. 17.
We do not rely on anything for forgiveness and salvation, but the grace of God experienced through the Lord Jesus’ shed blood/death and resurrection. Because of “grace” we as genuine Christians are empowered to persevere in obedience by faith. However, the readers of the day were being tempted to revert backwards to Judaism. “In Christ” we refuse to partake in any ritual, ceremony, etc., that is concerned with food, dietary laws, or anything that displaces grace. They are of no value.
Does ritual and ceremony have a place in Christian tradition? Do we engage in ritual or ceremony as followers of Christ?
It is critical that we understand the role of ritual and ceremony, especially as we rest “in Christ.” For those engaging in ritual or ceremony with the belief that their behavior “works” will make them holy and pleasing to God got it backwards.
In Christ we walk in obedience through the power of God the Holy Spirit. We persevere as transformed, hence born again, born from above, renewed, changed people of God. Holiness is pursued with a disposition of humility. And, “by faith in Christ” God is pleased.
I’d say ritual and ceremonial behavior varies among genuine believers. Some set a quiet time everyday to pursue God through reading Scripture and prayer. Some Christian traditions engage in ceremony as part of their worship (e.g., the Lord’s supper). However, the key is understanding that ritual and ceremony do not do anything to make us right, holy, or necessarily pleasing to God. God is pleased and holiness obtained only “in Christ” and ritual and ceremony follow as the Holy Spirit directs.
In Christ, God the Holy Spirit is our never ending source of strength, especially as we live out this dynamic “in Christ” life.
v. 10 The author is highlighting our privileged position “in Christ.” We have a heavenly alter accessed at the cross. However, for those who rely on the “old system” at the tabernacle, they have no right to eat because the cross is excluded. Those trying to please God under the ritual and ceremonial system or any act of “works” got it backwards.
If one insists on anything but the sacrificial death of Christ, hence unbelief = death. A refusal to come to Christ as Savior for any reason equals “no right to eat” and live.
Whereas, “in Christ” we have eaten the bread of life! We accept the once for all sacrifice and now enjoy a better, superior spiritual food and drink living water.
Are you hungry today? Do we continuously feed on the bread of life? (Jn 6:35, 48-58, 63) Do we thirst and crave to drink living water? How is your nourishment in Christ this week? How do we feed and drink of Christ? By faith: coming and believing/trusting. In supernatural power, “in Christ” we choose to yield to the Holy Spirit and walk the walk and talk the talk obediently.
In Christ, yielding to God, the Holy Spirit we exercise faith: a constant trust and response day by day, moment by moment, we continually look to Jesus!
v. 11 On the day of atonement blood was brought to the most holy place (Lev 16) but the bodies of animals were burned completely outside of the camp. Why? Pett stated,
Burning outside the camp was the regular way of dealing with anything that had been ‘devoted’ to God, or that belonged wholly to God, or that was so excessively holy that man could have no part in it, and religiously Jerusalem was seen as the equivalent of the camp, and Jesus as being offered outside the camp.
So we may conclude that the camp was modestly holy, the precincts of the tabernacle were truly holy, and outside the camp was divided into clean places for what was excessively holy, and other places which could swallow up what was unclean. And it was there that the One Who was excessively holy was met with.
v. 12 “And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate…” Why? To sanctify, hence set us apart to be holy through His blood. Moreover, the once for all sacrifice was not in any way tied to religious Jerusalem (Law or ceremony), but Jesus, our Great High Priest offered Himself on the spiritual/heavenly alter as he was crucified to atone for the sins of the world.
v. 13 “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us-for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree’….” Gal 3:13.
Jesus’ suffering outside the city gate symbolized not only the curse He bore as our sin-bearer, but also His rejection by the Jewish religious establishment and its leaders. The readers are now summoned to accept with courage their own expulsion from Jewish institutions, and perhaps family as well. (ESV study Bible notes).
How much are we willing to face rejection for the sake of Christ today?
v. 14 Our power comes from God, who motivates us as we understand that our hope is in “looking for the city that is to come.”
v. 15 “Through Jesus…” is how we offer to God acceptable sacrifice. We offer spiritual sacrifices… “a sacrifice of praise.” (cf. Rom 12:1) (1 Thes 5:18)
How often are we to offer this sacrifice? We are called to be living sacrifices continuously and in all circumstances give thanks.
v. 16 We are called to sacrifice in word and in deed. And, as we take that “extra step” or help someone in need, share our resources, and demonstrate God’s love in us, even when its uncomfortable, or disrupts our daily routine, with this type of daily self sacrifice, God is pleased.
Persevere in Christ!
Expositor’s Bible Commentary (1981). Frank E. Gaebelein (ed.)
Pett, Peter. http://www.angelfire.com/planet/lifetruth/hebrews3.html
The Reformation Study Bible. ESV R.C. Sproul (ed).