Expositional commentary on Scripture using an inductive exegetical methodology intent upon confronting the lives of Christians with the dogmatic Truths of God's inspired Words opposing Calvinism and Arminianism, Biblical commentary, doctrine of grace enablement, understanding holiness and wisdom and selfishness, in-depth Bible studies, adult Bible Study books and Sunday School materials Dr. Lance T. Ketchum Line Upon Line: Professional Christians Profess Christ

Monday, July 9, 2007

Professional Christians Profess Christ

“1 Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; 2 Who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house. 3 For this man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house. 4 For every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God. 5 And Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after; 6 But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end” (Hebrews 3:1-6).

The Christianity of the 21st Century has become an amalgamation of convoluted philosophical distortions emaciated by denominational theological quirks. Seldom do we find local churches that teach a truly Biblical Christianity. Even less seldom do we find a local church that actually seeks to practice a truly Biblical Christianity. When a local church seeks to return to Biblical Christianity, its teachings seems so abstract to what is commonly accepted and promoted that the true Biblical Christianity it presents as normal appears to be bizarre. By a simple comparison to the early Christianity defined in the New Testament gospels and epistles, it is comparatively bizarre. The question before us is, even though a truly Biblical Christianity may appear to be bizarre, what does true Biblical Christianity look like and what are the practical truths that define it? We find a number of those practical truths in Hebrews 3:1-6.

The “wherefore” of Hebrews 3:1 draws together all the truths that have been presented in the first two chapters of the epistle to the Hebrews. Now, in chapter 3, God draws our attention to the exalted position that the believer possesses as sons of God because of faith in the Person of Jesus Christ. God refers to all New Covenant believers as “holy brethren.” The word “holy” is from the Greek word hagios (hag'-ee-os). It refers to a person who has been separate from worldliness and carnality and who now lives a life of purity before God.

Separation from worldliness and carnality, as well as purity of living, are never issues divorced from their divine purpose. These things are always related to the believer’s preparation for his vocational responsibilities that accompany salvation in doing the “work of the ministry.”

“Holy brethren” refers to the common position of the Believer/Priest. The position of the Believer/Priest is distinguished from all other people by the relationship believers have to Jesus Christ as their Lord and High Priest in the heavenlies. The Believer/Priest presently, daily and, continually ministers on earth, but before God in the actual (not typical) heavenly Holy of Holies. Holy living signifies the foundational requirement of the Believer/Priest’s ministry before God.

Believers are not “holy” in or of themselves. Holiness is only available to us through the outworking of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Holiness can never be achieved through human efforts. Holiness is an attribute of God. Holiness means to be perfectly separate from sin and perfectly separated unto “good works.” Those good works can only be achieved “in the Spirit.” Therefore, the believer is divinely enabled to those “good works” only because he is presently part of the New Creation in Jesus Christ.

“8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8-10).

In the context of Hebrews 3:1-6, “holy” signifies a people who “by grace through faith” have been separated from sin positionally “in Christ” and have been separated unto God. This refers to the believer’s positional sanctification. This positional sanctification is what the believer has “in Christ” through the baptism of the Holy Spirit into the New Creation. No one can have access to the Father except in Jesus Christ, but in Jesus Christ we have total and complete accessibility to the Father. However, if positional sanctification is real (genuine), it will also manifest itself through practical and progressive sanctification.

“18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. 20 At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. 21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. 22 Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? 23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him” (John 14:18-20).

The second position of all believers “in Christ” that is detailed in Hebrews 3:1 regarding what defines true Biblical Christianity is that of “the heavenly calling.” “Calling” refers to a position in itself. “Heavenly” refers to what the believer should be preoccupied with due to that position and “calling.” “Calling” refers to a profession or work.” The believer does not choose this “calling.” God chooses the believer for this “calling.” “Calling” is from the Greek word klesis (klay'-sis), which is translated “vocation” in Ephesians 4:1. That “vocation” or “calling” for all believers is the Believer/Priesthood and the “work of the ministry.”

“1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, 2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; 3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-3).

“Heavenly” is the company we work for. The word “heavenly” is from the Greek word epouranios (ep-oo-ran'-ee-os). It refers to the things that take place in heaven. Again, the context refers to the Priesthood of the Believer in his relationship to our “High Priest” Jesus Christ. He is ministering in the heavenly Holy of Holies in the presence of God. He represents the believer before God. All that Jesus is to His Father, the believer is to God in Him.

Although the Believer/Priest ministers on earth, his ministry is about representing Jesus to the world. The believer is to be Christ like in everything he does. That is the definition of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. That is the definition of what it means to be a Christian. The word “disciple” is translated from the Greek word mathetes (math-ay-tes'), which means to be a pupil, student or learner. A disciple is a believer who is preoccupied with learning to live like and be like Jesus. A disciple is not just a learner. Believer/Priest are to model Christ.

“13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. 16 Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing. 17 Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. 18 (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19 Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)” (Philippians 3:13-19).

That is what “partaker” means in Hebrews 3:1. It is from the Greek word metochos (met'-okh-os) and refers to a partner in a work or position. True, Biblical Christianity is a vocation. The word “partaker” draws each believer into a company of believers united with a common goal and purpose to advance the cause of Christ and to promote His Kingdom. “Partaker” means a partner with Christ in the work of the ministry and with all other believers. Whatever the Believer/Priest does on earth in the Name of Christ as enabled by the Holy Spirit is equal to doing that same thing for Christ.

“34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: 36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. 37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? 38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? 39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? 40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matthew 25:34-40).

Unlike Moses, who had a earthy and temporal calling to serve God, the believer’s calling today is “heavenly” and eternal. Because of this exalted position, the believer is admonished to “consider” Christ Jesus “the Apostle and High priest of our profession (lit. “confession”).

In Hebrews 3:1, the word “consider” means to focus our lives upon becoming like Jesus. It means to concentrate on Who and what He is and keep doing so until the great spiritual significance of it all finally sinks in. Why this great emphasis? Because some of these Jewish believers were abandoning the reality of the New Covenant in Jesus for the Old Covenant of Moses involving themselves in the “dead works” of religious rituals. So, they are called to a concentrated effort to continue giving full attention to Jesus and their confession of Him as the Lord of their lives (Romans 10:9-10).

The word “profession” in Hebrews 3:1 is from the Greek word homologia (hom-ol-og-ee'-ah), which is essentially the same word translated “confess” in Romans 10:9. This “confession” embodies the whole of the Christian faith as taught by Jesus in the Gospels and by the Apostles in the epistles. It refers to all the teachings of Jesus that all believers accept when they confess Jesus to be LORD.

The reason all Christians need complete concentration (“consider”) is because some of them do not fully grasp the real blessing of their position in the New Covenant. Christ has to remind them that their calling is “heavenly” not earthly. Christ, in the joint offices of “Apostle and High Priest” has made all believers His Ambassadors of the New Covenant. In the sense that Jesus died “in our stead” - in our place, therefore our heavenly calling is to steadfastly become His Ambassador of the New Covenant “in His stead.”

“14 For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: 15 And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again” (II Corinthians 5:14 -15).

“18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. 20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God” (II Corinthians 5:18-20).

In Hebrews 3:2, the central characteristic of an Ambassador is discussed. Look at Hebrews 3:2. The central characteristic of an Ambassador is faithfulness. According to Hebrews 3:5, Moses was a “faithful servant” holding a high position in the household of God. The very nature of Moses’ position showed it to be transitory in nature. It was a “testimony” of the things to come.” In other words, it pointed beyond itself to the future revelation of Christ and a higher level of Ambassadorship in all believers.

Christ’s superiority is emphasized in Hebrews 3:6 as “son over His own house.” Christ is a title, not a name. Christ is not Jesus’ last Name. We as believers are the “house” that Jesus is Son over, or the LORD over. “If we hold fast the confidence” (Hebrews 3:6). The word “confidence” is from the Greek word parrhesia (par-rhay-see'-ah), which means to speak openly and frankly without concealing anything or misrepresenting the truth.

It should be the goal of every believer to make his life and words an accurate reflection and representation of Jesus Christ. That is what defines Biblical Christianity. Our lives should never misrepresent Who or What Jesus Christ is. Unless we live holy lives, we will never accurately represent Who and What Jesus Christ is. Unless we live holy lives, we will always be a distortion and an aberration of what it means to be a Christian.

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