A Systematic Expository Study on the book of Hebrews
STUDY 43: RESPONDING TO THE GOSPEL OF GRACE
Hebrews 12: 18 - 29
The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews here continues his exhortation and encouragement to holiness and stedfastness through proper response to the gospel of Godís grace. Beginning the section with the word ďForĒ, that is because, he gives reasons why we must follow peace and holiness, manifest the fruit of belonging to God, demonstrate appreciation for the sacrifice of Christ and the provision of grace, stand firm against temptations to backsliding and apostacy.
The Apostle then warns of the danger of refusing Him that speaketh from heaven. He shows us clearly that Godís wrath and judgement against sin and unbelief did not end with the Old Testament. Even in this day of grace, we are not to treat Godís Word lightly. He pleads with partakers of the New Covenant that we are to serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear; for our God is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12: 28, 29).
For those who believe, who live in peace with all men and live pure and holy lives through Godís grace, we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved (Hebrews 12: 28).
Already we have:
A love that cannot be fathomed, A life that cannot die.
A righteousness that cannot be tarnished, A peace that cannot be understood,
A rest that cannot be disturbed, A joy that cannot be diminished,
A hope that cannot be disappointed, A light that cannot be interrupted,
A strength that cannot be enfeebled, A purity that cannot be defiled,
A beauty that cannot be marred, A wisdom that cannot be baffled.
Resources that cannot be exhausted (J. A. B.).
What an encouragement for each believer to hold on to the Lord until we inherit the kingdom which cannot be moved!
THE CONTRAST BETWEEN THE TWO COVENANTS
Hebrews 12: 18-24; Exodus 19: 16-21; 20: 18-20; Deuteronomy 4: 9-12; Psalm 48: 1-3; Ephesians 2: 18-22; Luke 10: 20; Hebrews 10: 19-25.
This section is obviously a contrast between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant, between Law and Grace, between Judaism and Christianity.
ďFor ye are not come unto... but ye are come untoĒ... (verse 18, 22). It is a call to put Sinai and the Old Covenant behind us and to hold Zion and the New Covenant before us. Some details of what happened at Sinai during the time of giving the law, establishing the Old Covenant are given in verses 18 to 21. Fire, blackness, darkness, tempest, sound of a trumpet. So terrible was the sight (verse 21).
In contrast to all that, ďye are come unto Mount ZionĒ, (1) unto the city of the Living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and (2) to an innumerable company of angels, (3) To the general assembly and the Church of the First-born, which are written in heaven, and (4) to God the Judge of all, and (5) To the spirits of just men made perfect, and (6) to Jesus the Mediator of the New covenant, , and (7) To the Blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel (Hebrews 12: 22-24).
The whole passage reminds us that the New Covenant is better than the Old Covenant. Grace is better than the Law, our redemption is better, Christís sacrifice is better, our inheritance is better than anything offered under the Old Covenant.
THE CONSEQUENCE OF REFUSING CHRISTíS CALL
Hebrews 12: 25-27; Proverbs 8: 35, 36; Hebrews 2: 1-3; Deuteronomy 30: 17, 18; Haggai 2: 6, 7, 22; 2 Peter 3: 10-14; Proverbs 1: 24-33.
Greater love, greater grace, better conditions and privileges demand greater responsibility. So, see that ye refuse not Him that speaketh (Hebrews 12: 25). Some Christians and even preachers have an erroneous view of Godís grace and the New Covenant. They think that living in the dispensation of grace means that disobedience will not be punished by God. They assume that Godís standard of holiness is lower today than that of the Old Covenant period. Unbelief, disobedience and rebellion are still terrible sins in Godís sight today. He still punishes sin today even in this period of the dispensation of grace. For if they escaped not who refused Him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from Him that speaketh from heaven (Hebrews 12: 25). Christ speaks to us from heaven today, through His Word and by His Spirit. Rejecting His call to salvation will bring us eternal damnation.
Refusing His Voice that calls us to holiness and discipleship will earn us His rebuke and Godís punishment. Accepting His Word and will, living in obedience to the Heavenly Voice brings spiritual blessings and eternal rewards.
THE CALL TO ACCEPTABLE SERVICE IN THE KINGDOM
Hebrews 12: 28, 29; Daniel 7: 14, 27; 1 Peter 1: 3-5; Romans 12: 1-3; Hebrews 10: 22, 23; 1 Peter 1: 17, 18; Philippians 2: 12-16;
Deuteronomy 4: 23, 24; 9: 3; Hebrews 10: 31; 2 Thessalonians 1: 8.
The shaking of the earth on the final day will be more terrifying than any localised shaking of the past. The earth will be terribly shaken and all those things that are shaken will be removed. The earth and its wealth or riches are not stable. Only spiritual things, received by faith through Christ, cannot be shaken and they will remain (Hebrews 12: 27). Christ and our inheritance in Him, holiness and heavenly inheritance are things that are unshakable. They will remain eternally and he who has received them by grace, holding on to them till the end, will remain and eternally abide with Christ.
We need Godís grace that we may be able to serve God acceptably - with reverence and godly fear (Hebrews 12: 28). The God of the new Testament is not a God that excuses sin - He is a holy God, not an indulgent Father. For our God is (not just was) a consuming fire (Hebrews 12: 29). He will either consume sin in us or He will consume us in our sin.
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