The Founder of Salvation & The Suffering of Jesus

Hebrews 2:5–18

Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture. From memory, determine the central points.

  1. Though we do not know who the author of Hebrews is, we do know he or she is Jewish, a second generation Christian, writing at a time when the Church is no longer experiencing the great outpouring of the Holy Spirit as did the first generation, that of the Apostles.
  2. There were no written “Gospels” as yet, except for maybe Mark, and for decades more, most of the Gospel telling was oral in nature.
  3. Plus, no creed had been developed, and there were no schools or seminaries. No church buildings had been built, the believers were meeting outdoors and away from the general population.
  4. The persecution under Nero would be in recent memory. Paul and the other apostles were dead as well, with the exception of John, who was in exile by Roman authority.
  5. Satan, and his demons, oft disguised as angels (see 2 Corinthians 11:14), had infiltrated the believer’s gatherings and where busy spreading lies as to the core of the Gospel message.
  6. At center the misrepresentations had to do with who Jesus is. The lie is that Jesus is merely an angel, thus not the incarnate God, thus His death on the cross is not the atoning sacrifice for sin. Again, we see the devil aims squarely at the central reason for the incarnation, that of the Word, the Son of God, becoming flesh and dwelling among us.
  7. Because Jesus is indeed both as we are, fully human, and not as we are, fully God as well, He was tempted as we are, and this is illustrated in the passage in Matthew 4. A sinful Jesus could not atone for our sin, and so Satan would pretend to give up all to see Jesus stumble and fall.
  8. But no, He did not, and He lives and reigns for us who are tempted.

The Lawless one

The Man of Lawlessness

2 Thessalonians 2:1–12

Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture. From memory, determine the central points.

  1. The man of lawlessness or the lawless one is the antichrist spoken of in 1 John 2, which has been with us from the beginning but will make a dramatic re-appearance just prior to the Second Coming of Jesus.
  2. In Revelation 13 we read of a beast and a second beast, one of which is the antichrist and the other, the second beast, is the antichrist’s representative.  And, yes, this is variously interpreted.
  3. In 2 Thessalonians chapter 2 we find a rebellion takes place that has the power of being able to deceive even Christians. And this just prior to the Second Coming, and Paul warns that this return of Jesus has not yet occurred. Before that day, the man of lawlessness, the son of destruction, shows up and succeeds is such a way that it is widely worshipped. This creature proclaims itself to even be God and is accepted by many.
  4. This lawless one is already present and active, Paul says, as we also see in 1 John 2, but is restrained in some manner and many commentators believe by the working of the Holy Spirit through the living, worshipping Body of Christ.
  5. A most curious statement is, “Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way.” (Note the words in bold, my emphasis. I have no explanation for this.)
  6. The upshot, that the lawless one will be revealed, and at this point is the return of Jesus who “will kill” and make it nothing.
  7. The lawless one is equipped by Satan with “power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception.”
  8. Many, maybe even most, will be attracted to the antichrist. These are not born-again Christians but are those “who are perishing.” And the word “perishing” does not mean their existence comes to an end.
  9. Amazingly, God sends to these perishing ones a strong delusion, which serves to make them believe that which is false.
  10. These perishing ones are those who “had pleasure in unrighteousness.” Are we living in these days? Yes and no is my answer, but we are not yet at the grand finale.

Warning Against Neglecting Salvation

Hebrews 2:1–4

Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture. From memory, determine the central points.

  1. Hebrews is written to a group of Jewish Christians, likely in Rome, somewhere between 80 and 95 CE, and written by an unnamed second-generation Jewish Christian.
  2. The writer previously, chapter one, corrected a theological error to the effect that Jesus is an angel and nothing more. Such error would not be unusual in that day, and such error is common among many Christian cults and contemporary occultism groups today.
  3. There is indeed the possibility that some might “drift away.” This does not mean a loss of salvation, for it is true that “once saved always saved,” but we Christians can be troubled, abused, disregarded, and more, which may easily result in drifting away, even if just for a time.
  4. The falling away may have been that some, living in that debauched era, would miss their old sins, and return to the “world.” And in a pastoral kind of way, the writer of Hebrews wants to reach out to these.
  5. The born again true believer in Jesus will suffer the consequences, the natural not specific, consequences, of such rebellion and ignorance. Our Bible author hopes to prevent this.
  6. Though this second generation Christian experience was not as full of “signs and wonders and various miracles” as the first generation, that of the Apostles, and Paul, and more, still they are called to be faithful people in the midst of a corrupt world.
  7. This complex Hebrews yet speaks to us today as we are living in what are called “normal times” and not revival times with it’s out powering’s of the Holy Spirit. This calls for even more faith and faithfulness.

The Supremacy of Christ, part 2

Hebrews 1:5–14

Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture. From memory, determine the central points.

  1. In this passage are 7 quotes from the Hebrew Bible. The author of Hebrews likely would have memorized all of these as few had access to the written Scripture.
  2. The subject of these verses has to do with the contrast between angels and human beings, especially in regard to Jesus. Angels are created beings, while the Son is not.
  3. Spiritual groups both then and now, make an angel out of Jesus, and one well know Christian cult makes Him out to be Michael the archangel.
  4. In language we are not accustomed to, the author of Hebrews makes it plain, and poetically, that the Son is uncreated, that His throne is forever.
  5. To say of the Son, “sit at my right hand” means that this Son is of the same nature as the Father.
  6. Angels are “ministering spirits” sent out into the world to serve those who “are to inherit salvation.”
  7. We must focus on the word “inherit.” Here we see the Gospel of grace as the original intent of God. No one earns an inheritance; this is only given out and received.
  8. The point of our passage is the supremacy of Christ over the angels. From early on, angels have been worshipped instead of the Creator God. This continues to this day. We read of this reality in 2 Corinthians 11:14–15: “even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness.”


The Supremacy of God’s Son

Hebrews 1:1–4

The Prologue

Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself. Slowly and carefully read the passages of Scripture. Reread them. From memory, determine the central points.

1.         As to the author, the date written, and to whom “Hebrews” is addressed—all questions are yet debated today. My guess is that the author is Barnabas, written between 55 and 65 CE, and to a Jewish-Christian population in Palestine, Rome, Alexandria, or Ephesus. Clement of Rome commented on it in 95CE in his letter to the Corinthian church. A clue as to the date is that the Fall of Jerusalem in 70CE is not mentioned.

2.         The reason for this sermon (it is more pulpit oratory than prose composition), which is the best Greek in the New Testament, is that some within the group written to were who were either “Christianized” thus not truly converted, or some who were disappointed that the “kingdom” had not fully come and were “tottering” due to persecution.

3.         Verses 1 to 4 consists of one long sentence. The revelation the Writer speaks of is not of two parts but one, and begins with the earliest biblical revelations in the Hebrew Bible, the Old Testament, and most concretely with “our fathers by the prophets.” This may refer to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses and Aaron, and then the great later prophets, Elijah, Isaiah, and so forth.

4.         Now the last prophet has come, the Son, who inherits all things, even through whom the universe has been created. The Son, in the economy of the Trinity, is not creator, the Father is creator, but the Son is present.

5.         The Son is of the “exact imprint of his nature.” (see John 1:1–3, 14:8–11; Galatians 4:1–7, and Colossians 1:15–20) The Son “upholds” the universe by the word of his power — a phrase that is too very grand we may never fully comprehend it.

6.         The whole of this is that the Son makes purification for sins, a very Jewish statement, and means that the Son as a sacrifice atones for sin.

7.         After having finished His work, he “sat down,” meaning having completed this greatest of all work, at the right hand of the Majesty on high, a means of declaring the deity of the Son.

8.         No angel could perform this work, only God, the Messiah, could, and did.

What Happened Following Jesus’ Birth

Luke 2:22-35

Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself. Slowly and carefully read the passages of Scripture.

1.        Mary and Joseph presented Jesus at the Temple

according to the Law of Moses. (See Ex. 13:2 & Lev. 12:8). They offered 2 pigeons indicating that the family was poor.

2.        The obedience of Mary and Joseph indicates also that they were observant Jews as Jesus would be as He grew up.

3.        Here now the Holy Family meet Simeon, a Holy Spirit inspired prophet, who is awaiting the arrival of the Messiah.

4.        The remarkable statement about Jesus being the cause of the “fall and rising of many,” is a preparation for Mary about what was to become of her baby. The Child would be loved and hated, both at once, and so He has remained to this day, a sign that is opposed.

5.        Simeon goes even further: “And a sword will pierce through your own soul also.” Indeed, she would be present as her Son is crucified. The words may well have been meant to be comforting to Mary, by taking away any surprise or false expectation.

7.        Then Anna, another witness to Mary and Joseph, two witnesses then along with Simeon, thus meeting the Biblical requirement of Deuteronomy 17:6. Mary and Joseph would be comforted by this.

8.        Some 30 years before the cross, God brings three “old” people to the temple to announce the great event that was to come.

The Christmas Story

Genesis 3:14–16; Psalm 22:14–18; Isaiah 7:14; 9:6–7; Gal. 4:1-6

Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself. Slowly and carefully read the passages of Scripture.

God addressing the Serpent, who had deceived Adam and Eve, states, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head and you shall bruise his heal.”

  1. The woman’s offspring, as the historic drama in Scripture makes plain is Mary’s son Jesus, who defeats the serpent while the serpent is only able to do minor or temporary damage.
  2. In Psalm 22 then is a portrayal of the damage the serpent does, all under the authority of the Creator. The Psalmist, David depicts a man dying on a cross hundreds of years before the invention of this horrible instrument of execution is invented.
  3. Isaiah the prophet speaks of a virgin giving birth to “Immanuel” which means “God with us.” Then this virgin born son is “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (If you look carefully you will see the Trinity.)
  4. Further along in Isaiah we find this Immanuel as the suffering servant of Israel. The prophet speaks of a person despised and rejected, but who is “wounded for our iniquities” and upon whom is laid all of our sin.
  5. Isaiah goes on to say that this despised one’s dying is an “offering for sin” yet his days will be prolonged, even that “the will of the LORD prosper in his hand.” This is clearly about Jesus’ resurrection. (see Isaiah 53)

In the first century CE a former Jewish Rabbi, the Apostle Paul, in writing to a Gentile audience, sums up the ultimate intention of God in this manner: When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were born under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.

Galatians 4:4-5

Mary

Mark 3:31–35; Luke 1:26–55; John 2:1–11; 19:16b-27;

Acts 1:12—14

Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace. Recite the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself. Slowly and carefully read the passages of Scripture. Memorize the memory verse.

  1. Her name appears 51 times in the New Testament. It is thought the name means “bitterness” or “sorrow,” and indeed she had much sorrow as well as joy. “Dolores” a name often associated with Mary means “sorrow” in Latin.
  2. Why was Mary chosen to give birth to the Messiah? She was of no account, was poor, and lived in a small village with no reputation. Indeed, Nathaniel asked, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46)
  3. What a wonderful mother she was. Besides giving birth to Jesus she gave birth to four boys, two of which became authors of New Testament books, James and Jude. And she bore at least two girls as well, maybe more, and who are unnamed in Scripture.
  4. At one point her family questioned Jesus’ activities, thought He might be mad, yet she supported her son despite the opposition He faced. She was present at the crucifixion, and at one-point Jesus her son, while dying commended her to the care of Apostle John, the only disciple present at the cross. Legend has he cared for her until her death. At some point, they lived in Ephesus.
  5. Mary became a widow as Joseph disappears fairly early on in the life of Jesus. Mary then raised a rather large family and with good result.
  6. It is probable that you have at least one family member in your remembrance who has the name Mary or a derivative thereof.
  7. She will always be honored as the woman who gave birth to our Lord Jesus Christ.

Joseph

Matthew 1:18–25; 2:13–23, and Mark 6:1–6.

Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace. Recite the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself. Slowly and carefully read the passages of Scripture. Memorize the memory verse.

  1. Joseph, of the line of David, as is Mary, a carpenter by trade and a thoughtful and respectful man, meets young Mary while on a contract deal in Nazareth of Galilee. They become legally betrothed to be married.
  2. Joseph discovers that his wife to be is pregnant, so likely at least 5 months along. He is badly shaken and decides to divorce her quietly, thus protecting both Mary and himself.
  3. God intervenes and fills Joseph in as to the actual events, which focus on the fact that the son to be born to Mary is the One who will bring salvation to “his” people.
  4. After the birth of Jesus, Joseph is warned to take Mary and the child and flee to Egypt because Herod is seeking to destroy the child, having been alerted by the three “Wise Men.” Egypt is 90 miles or more to the south of Bethlehem, where the family remained until Herod’s death, which was in 4 BCE. Yes, Jesus was likely born in 6 BCE not 0 CE.
  5. Herod, fearful that a powerful rival is in his domain, has children 2 years old and younger killed in the Bethlehem area. Estimates are that perhaps as many as 50 children were murdered on Herod’s orders.
  6. Joseph and family return to Israel, but upon arrival find that Herod’s ruthless son Archelaus is ruling Judea. Once again Joseph is warned in a dream of this danger, and flees north to Galilee, to a no-account city called Nazareth.
  7. Jesus will later be known as a “Nazarene”, which was a derogatory title. Note: John the Baptist took a “Nazarite” vow, meaning a person who lived an austere and spiritual lifestyle, which is different from being a “Nazarene.”

The Birth of Jesus Foretold

Luke 1:26–38

Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace. Recite the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture. Memorize the memory verse.

  1. Six months before the announcement to Mary that she would have a child, an angel of God named Gabriel revealed to Elizabeth, a relative of Mary, that she would have a child. This child would be named John (later added the title “the Baptist”) who would prepare people for what would be revealed.
  2. Sixth months later the angel Gabriel was sent to the virgin, Mary, already engaged to be married to Joseph, who then proceeded to tell Mary who this child is and would be.
  3. How it is that Mary was “favored” above all women to bear the Messiah, the Christ, of whose kingdom would never end, is not revealed.
  4. Mary protests, and this word may not be the best word to be used, but she asks, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”
  5. Now the angel responds with an explanation that is far beyond our ability to grasp, except that it is the result of something miraculous. The miracle is a son who is “holy” and only God is holy so this one will be the “son of God.”
  6. Briefly the angel says that the “Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you” in an attempt to explain to Mary the unexplainable.
  7. Then the angel says her relative Elizabeth has already conceived a son, this six months earlier, someone Mary knew was too old to be able to give birth.
  8. Mary makes an incredible statement of faith and commits to what the angel has announced to her.