mp3 audio: 2013-07-07 Hebrews 1:1 – Hight
“God has spoken”
Turn in your bible’s to the book of Hebrews, chapter 1.
And related to the message of today’s sermon, I want to encourage you to bring your bible to church and look up the verses we cover.
I could give you a bunch of reasons why, but then that would become the sermon!
I’ll just mention that you should be weighing up everything that the preacher says, not just automatically believing – and having your bible with you helps with that
Anyway, on with the real sermon!
Hebrews 1:1-4 NIV
1 In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. 3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. 4 So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.
What do you think you would do, if God came down and spoke to you, in person, with all of his power and majesty? And when he spoke, he gave you a message of such great importance that it changed the course of your life forever. A message so important that you may even be required to suffer or to die to make sure it was faithfully delivered? A message which could cause your own family to throw you out in the street and disown you completely?
What do you think you would do? How do you think you would feel?
What if I told you that God has spoken to you in this way, and in a more powerful and complete way than when he spoke to any of the Old Testament prophets!
Do you know that, through the Bible, God has spoken to you in a way that would have been the envy of Moses, Isaiah, Daniel, or any of the prophets?
We’re going to take a look at three things today:
FIRST – That God has spoken, and we’ll consider how, why, and to whom he has spoken
SECOND – what the response has been to him speaking, and
THIRD – what our response should be today
…and through this I hope to convince you that God has spoken powerfully to you. And that your life should be different as a result.
FIRST SECTION – How, why, and to whom has God spoken?
Before starting – it’s important to reflect on the fact that God has spoken
God, has spoken – isn’t that extraordinary! Do you think about that at all?
When I hear this I think of a king or other monarch and the power they have when they speak, but God is so much more than an earthly King!
God first spoke to create the world, so when he speaks there is power!
How amazing it is – the God who created and who sustains the universe has spoken!
How has God spoken?
from the text, in the past before Jesus, through prophets in various ways
angels to prophets
visions to prophets
dreams to people and then interpreted by prophets
spoke directly to Moses out of the burning bush
from the text, now most recently through Jesus, in his life example and in his teaching, with miracles and signs to make people sit up and listen
and this teaching was carried on by the apostles and the early church
These interactions and messages between God and man were recorded in the bible and we now have the Holy Spirit, given on the day of Pentecost, to light up the truth to us as we read
Now, that might seem a bit boring to us. These amazing things seem superior to what we have today, 2000 years later. But remember what I said earlier? Moses and the others would envy us!
Why? If you consider Isaiah and Daniel, who had great and wonderful visions, but they only had an incomplete revelation. They didn’t even have Jesus. Though if you consider the apostles, they had Jesus himself, but even they still didn’t understand the plain truth until the Holy Spirit came and gave them understanding at Pentecost.
And from that time, we have the full picture of salvation!
No mystery, just the plain and powerful truth
That’s why what we have now is better, and the envy of the OT prophets
And that’s partly why we should be carefuly of desiring miraculous ways of hearing from God, like searching for a voice in your head or the air – Satan can do that as well as God – and we need the bible to guide us as a check, so why not start at the bible in the first place?
Not only that, but most who are after an audible word from Godare actually failing to value the plain truth we already have! Don’t let that be you. And don’t be afraid that you’ll miss what God might be going to speak to you. If he’s going to speak in a miraculous way to you I can guarantee that he will make you hear too!
Anyway, if you’re still not convinced that it’s better to have a word from Jesus, we’re going to look little later at a whole bunch of reasons why we should value his message above an outwardly miraculous experience.
To whom has God actually spoken?
This one is easy. He’s spoken to everyone!
But not everyone believes it, so a more important question is “Who hears the message, who hears God speak and acts on what is said? Who is paying attention!?
Let’s make the question of whom God has spoken to a little more personal… God has spoken to you!
That’s why you should keep your bible close, like I said before we started, because God has spoken and you shouldn’t ignore what he has said to you.
Do you ever wonder why they make such nice, expensive bibles? Covered in the best calfskin leather and printed on the most beautiful acid-free, clean, ivory pages? It’s because the bible is special, and deserves special care. Of course you have to balance that with ensuring the most people possible get access to the bible, so don’t think a $5 paperback is any less valuable!
It’s worth making a mention here of the difference between “the bible” and “the word of God”. Some of you will understand “the bible” to be the actual book, and “the word of God” as the actual message – the important bit.
It’s a very fine distinction, and one that can come from a valid concern about too much “religion” and not enough genuine faith. But be careful here, because many people don’t have that distinction in their minds. When I use these two terms I mean the same thing
So try to respond positively when I use both terms, because the genuine faith way is what I mean when I’m talking about “the bible”.
So why did God speak? What was the message? SALVATION! Here’s an important point to consider:
God didn’t have to speak… to anyone in the OT, the NT, or to us today, and that has some very scary implications…
This might seem a difficult idea, but God could have just left us in our sin, with hell as our destination
He didn’t have to send Jesus to “make purification for sins”. He didn’t have to send someone to preach the gospel to you.
He could just leave us alone and then punish us in hell for eternity for our sin, instead of Jesus taking the punishment for us.
and through it all he would be just.
It would be right for him to do this because we only deserve hell – pain and suffering for eternity… That’s all we deserve.
And that’s the whole point of mercy and grace
mercy is not getting the hell we deserve
grace is getting the redemption and the heaven that we don’t deserve
It is so true, that we really have to understand just how bad our sin is, and how stuffed we should be, before we can really appreciate how good the good news of Jesus is.
The severity of hell shouldn’t ever tell us that God is harsh in punishing sin. God is not a bully. The severity of hell should tell us that our crimes against a holy God are really really bad, if they deserve such everlasting punishment.
Think about that the next time you are tempted, and are weighing up whether it is worth it. Sin is really that terrible! Don’t do it! Don’t give in to the temptation for a moment when you know that that moment is worth an eternity…
So why then, if our sin is so bad, would God want to save us?
Yes, it is because he loves us, but why does he love us?
He loves humanity in a general way, as all are made in his image, and he loves himself so he must love those who bear his image.
He loves his people in a different and special way though, and this is why he saves us
We really don’t know why he chooses to love us, but we do know that he gets glory when he causes us to be born again.
We have to be careful that we don’t think it is because we are smarter than those who don’t believe – that we are somehow better, because we can see and they can’t
This leads only to pride and self-glory, not God-glory
God is the one who has opened our eyes so he gets all the glory
Yet we still don’t know why he opened our eyes and not others, and that is going to remain an unsolved mystery for us for now.
I pray constantly that he would open the eyes of my mother and father and brothers, to see his glory and be saved!
They have the message but put it on the bookshelf and enjoy the look of the leather binding without valuing the word
But I thank God daily that he has saved me, and many others out of nowhere!
So ultimately we don’t know why he saves some and not others – it’s unsatisfying and may even seem unfair, but ultimately God can do what he wants with what he made.
Summing up this first section: God has spoken to you, primarily and with maximum authority, through the bible, and for the main reason of communicating his glory and salvation to the world.
SECOND SECTION – The Common Response
The response to what God has said is basically to reject the message and the messenger
This is the response of those who are not saved, who do not have the Spirit of God in them, and in whom God is not working to save.
If you’ve spoken with people to try to share the gospel, you know what I’m talking about
the typical response is to avoid the truth and to make our own way to heaven (to work our way there by being “good” people).
But you can’t really be good enough to deserve heaven.
The OT Prophets had a bad time of it:
they were shunned
they were persecuted
they were ridiculed
they were hated for their words of truth
And then came Jesus, the final and fullest form of the Word of God
and what happened to him?
he was killed by those he came to save
Lets have a quick look at a parable Jesus taught which sums up the response to God speaking
The Parable of the Tenants
33 “Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and moved to another place. 34 When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit.
35 “The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. 36 Then he sent other servants to them, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them the same way. 37 Last of all, he sent his son to them. ‘They will respect my son,’ he said.
38 “But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and take his inheritance.’ 39 So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.
40 “Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?”
41 “He will bring those wretches to a wretched end,” they replied, “and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time.”
42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:
“ ‘The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
the Lord has done this,
and it is marvelous in our eyes’?
43 “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.
Primarily about Jews rejecting Jesus and Jesus then taking salvation to the Gentiles
Also shows clearly the awful response of the people to the prophets of God, and the Son of God, and the eternal fate of missing out on the Kingdom of God.
It’s a little like students I teach at school. Tell them exactly what’s in the test and mostly they don’t even listen.
It’s incredible really. And then they say “you didn’t teach us this”
I can’t help but think of those who will say the same thing to God on Judgement Day
“You never warned us or spoke to us of these things”
But He did
Even though he didn’t have to
And they didn’t listen
It seems pretty clear that our response shouldn’t be to ignore or reject the message
SECTION THREE – So what exactly should our response be?
Our response should be to praise God for giving us the message rather than leaving us in our sin.
Our response should be to value the bible, the word of God, beyond everything else in our lives.
Our response should be a willingness to give our lives to get hold of it if need be, rather than letting it go dusty or unused.
How often do you read the bible?
And when you do read it, is it quality reading and thinking, or do you just flick through quickly to read your daily verse or chapter?
Do you memorise scripture?
The glory of Jesus should inspire these things, rather than us doing them as boring and mechanical, ritual things to do, so I want to take a quick look (in these verses in Hebrews) at how glorious Jesus is. Let these 7 quick points sink in and move in your heart:
he is the heir of all things, which means he owns you
he created the universe and the universe is big – really big – this means Jesus was there at the start too – he is immortal and eternal
he is the exact representation of God – he is God
he sustains everything so that it continues to run
he made purification for sins and nobody else could do that
he is seated on the throne in heaven – a very important seat
he is superior to angels
This is the Lord we serve! Isn’t he amazing!
I would love to dwell at great length on each of these points, but time does not permit
If I can be so cheeky as to suggest that you think about these for homework (I am a teacher after all). Just open up Hebrews chapter one and spend some time thinking about these points and how amazing Jesus is, and if the opportunity presents itself, talk with someone else about how amazing Jesus is. This is pretty much our entire purpose in life: To praise God for his glorious nature and to share that glory with others.
Overall, our response to Jesus and his message of salvation should be that we feel a stronger drawing of ourselves towards the Bible, the words of Jesus, the words of God.
————IF PRESSED FOR TIME, SKIP THIS SMALL BIT————
We should desire to know more of what He teaches us, and we should look to the Bible more and more, for answers to the tough and tricky questions which we encounter in life.
Where does the world get it’s answers to life’s tricky questions?
I’m talking about the really big questions in life. What is the meaning of life? Do we have free will? Is there a God? How does pain and suffering fit in with a God who is loving? Should I get married? How do I tell right from wrong? Or more specific: What do I do when my boyfriend hits me? Is it okay to have sex with lots of different people? How do I deal with parents splitting up?
All these questions and so many more are asked every day. You might be asking them, or someone you know. I’ll tell you, most people don’t have any clue where to start with this sort of stuff. And when they do look for answers, it comes from TV shows, from teachers at school, from peers, or from the Internet, but very rarely do they look to God for answers.
Christians should be able to show the way with their lives, having answers and being able to share them with those who are hurting and in need. And to do this we must build our lives on the Word of God. Whatever we build our lives on will become obvious when people examine us closely to see what is different – to see how we cope so well when we’re hurting so much.
It is one of the greatest pleasures, to be able to show God’s glory in this way, and it is this life-long commitment to showing his glory in our lives which is the only response we can really have that is right.
And I can tell you, and others can tell you, that it is such a joy to get to know God better and better through his words to us. It’s hard, no doubt about it, but the rewards are eternal.
————END OF SMALL BIT————
Let’s finish up with this:
Some of you might be thinking to yourselves, “I don’t think I’ve ever responded properly to Jesus. I don’t think I’ve ever asked him to save me and to guide my life.”
If that’s you, I want to tell you: Now is the hour of your salvation. Turn from the things that you know are wrong and take up the truth of Jesus for yourself. Don’t delay, don’t ever delay in responding to such an important message, the most important message, of the most important messenger.
And if you feel that your response to God has faded, that the message has become common and boring to you, or that TV and other distractions seem more interesting to you than the bible, I want to encourage you to deal with it right away. Take a moment as we sing to consider just how amazing God is and how he didn’t have to bring the gift of salvation to you, but he did. Remember the gift and the proper response when you turn on the TV, when you sit down at the computer, or when you tell others you just don’t have time to read it.
I can’t see into your heart, but if you are anything like me, you know you could do better. Strive to do better.
We can all do with more regular consideration of the things that God has done in our lives, so that we hold tighter to him, so that we don’t let his word get far from us.
Pray with me now
Now take whatever you are feeling, whether it is joy at what God has done for you or sadness at what you have failed to do, and bring those feelings before him as we sing again. God knows you, he loves you, and he can deliver you, lift you up, and give you life.
24 To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—25 to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen. (Jude verse 24-25)
Grace be with you all. (Hebrews 13:25)
Please Join us for tea and coffee.
mp3 audio: 2013-07-07 Hebrews 1:1 – Hight