Lesson 32: "Now the God of Peace. . .Make You Perfect" (Hebrews 13:20-21)
Hebrews 13:1-17 continued + v.18-25
The Book of Hebrews. Welcome to lesson #32...this is the last lesson in the HEBREWS series. It is my hope you found strength and an uplifting boost in this series, and that you have a greater appreciation for this book. Lord willing, I hope to start work on another series, the GENERAL EPISTLES in the near future. That series shall include James, 1st & 2nd Peter,1st 2nd 3rdJohn and Jude, a total of seven books. Upon completing that series we will have covered everything in the N.T. with the exception of REVELATION. I can see light at the end of the tunnel. Please pray for this effort, that I may have the time, health and resources to complete the entire N.T. series in good style and make it available to ANYONE who will use this means to study the Bible. You have a part in this great work. We are depending upon you. It is primarily through those of you taking these courses that it is passed on to your friends and neighbors and from community to community. Thus, I plead with you to use every opportunity to pass it on in your community. When you share your tapes with others, it's a great-financial boost to this program. Not only does it save the cost of new tapes, it saves the cost of postage, packaging materials, labels and it saves us the labor involved in preparing and mailing new materials. This N.T. study will involve over 100 tapes. That's no small item. However, we'll be happy to provide tapes and materials to all who will avail themselves of this means of study, i.e. to the extent of our ability to do so. But, you can see, I trust, we need your help. Please help us! Please pass it on! Hand out enrollment cards where you worship. Include them in your correspondence as you write to others. Strategically locate a few enrollment cards in your doctor's office, at the hospital, or at the laundromat. Most supermarkets have a community bulletin board. Thumbtack a card or two there every time you go. With your hairdresser and her clients is an excellent place to leave a card or two every time you visit. Cultivate and encourage those who enroll to study and share and pass it on. Who knows how much Bible study you might instigate? You'll probably surprise yourself. Let us know, if you need more enrollment cards or if we can help. Keep us posted!
Have you got your eyes on the text? At the end of our last lesson, you were assigned to list and outline ten items (we found these items in Heb. ch. 13), i.e. items of exhortation. These items come from the lettuce patch. But, please do not think of these items as optional. These are not just tips on running a race, these are commands. Christians must do this. Please do not think of these items as ten new commandments... they are not new. These items are by no means the extent of Christian responsibility. But, I would suspect, they were the ten items most neglected by Christians in and around Jerusalem in the AD 60's. AND, if we bring it down home, I would suspect these items of admonition are still among the top ten neglected with us. Back in Heb. 4:14, our writer gave us THIS (from the lettuce patch): "let us hold fast our profession." Christianity is our profession, it is our vocation (Eph. 4:1). You cannot be a Christian without being moral, without being concerned about others and without good works. These things were said to those who believe in, i.e. have faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God. It was/is said to those who have been baptized into Christ, i.e. those who have the answer... the answer of a good conscience toward God (I Pet. 3:21, Heb. 10:22). I'm talking about Christians, baptized believers, those who are running that Christian race... looking unto Jesus (12:2).
If you'll get that list in your hand, let's go over it, item by item. Don't send this list to me... I simply want you to use it as a work sheet to help you retain these things. (#1) "Let brotherly love continue." The phrase "brotherly love" here comes from the Greek word "phila-delphia." The last part, "delphia," literally means brother...i.e. a sibling or member of your family. The "phila" part means love... or what we might call buddy-buddy love. It's interesting that the word here is not the Greek "agape" that Jesus used back in John 13:34 in giving that new commandment. Agape means to seek the highest interest of another... doesn't matter what their attitude is toward you... you seek their highest interest. Our writer DID USE the "agape" form back in 10:24, where he said "let us consider one another to provoke unto LOVE and good works." The word here in Heb. 13:1, carries with it the idea of a working relationship. The "agape" idea, it seems to me is assumed (here) as siblings would work together for their own good and their own harmonious welfare... i.e. in a buddy-buddy way. In this case, brothers and sisters in Christ, of course. A spiritual brother, regardless of race, economic standing, education, health, etc. "Let brotherly love continue." Now, the continued idea, to me, means that our writer is reminding those Jerusalem brethren that this element had existed (in that church, that camp of the saints in Jerusalem) in the past... that church established on the day of pentecost and had existed for about thirty-some years (depending upon the date the book of HEBREWS was written, of course). This, more or less implies also, that some deviation had taken place more recently. We of course are not given any of the details (here); but obviously (taking the whole book into consideration), it had to do with the Judeastic influence we have discussed before... We need a high priest over us!... Forsaking the assembling of our selves together, as the manner of some is... "When for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles" (Heb. 5:12). Are you getting the picture? "Let brotherly love continue!" Things haven't changed much today... have they? It's still happening, and you can't control that beyond taking care of you... yourself and your house. But, there's where YOU come into the picture... you can do that much. That's the purpose of this book. If you will do that much and influence a few others to do that much and they influence a few more to do that... pass it on... right away the world around us will improve... taxes will go down... it will be a safer place to live... and that's just the tip of the iceberg. Think how many souls will be saved eternally! It's the only practical thing to do, it's the Bible way. I don't care how many resist it, the Bible has the answer. You can accept it or you can reject it; but, the answer is there.
(#2...v.2) Let us "be not forgetful to entertain strangers..." i.e, let us be a hospitable people. Perhaps our writer's example of some entertaining angels unawares is a reference back to Abraham (in Gen. ch. 18-19) and possibly other O.T. occasions. Christians are a hospitable people. Paul told the Galatian brethren, "bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ" (Gal. 6:2). A little further down the page (v. 10), Paul said: "let us do good unto all men..." So, this is not limited just to Christians. In Paul's list on how to be a living sacrifice (Rom. ch.12:13), Paul said: "distributing to the necessity of saints, given to hospitality." It's one of the requirements $.for elders, if you remember (I-Tim. 3:2). You see, it's simply the Christian way of doing thing. If they need food and we can feed them, let's feed them. If they need a place to stay, let's lodge them. If they need first aid, let's do it like the good Samaritan. But, while I'm here, that does not mean we encourage people to be bums. Paul told the Thessalonians, "this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat." In no way does this imply that we encourage a vagrant-vagabond-hobo society. To the Galatians, Paul said: "every man shall bear his own burden." Everyone is responsible for themselves; but, cooperation and benevolence is encouraged commanded.
(#3...v.3) Let us "remember them that are in bonds," i.e. those in prison. First of all let me say, all people in prisons are not criminals. You can be a very normal person, get out of the bed on a very normal day, run over somebody with an automobile having absolutely no intention of doing that. You can be in jail when nightfall comes. Number two, you can be charged with offenses you did not commit. It's a frightening thought. But, it's true. In the third place, many who have done criminal acts and were/are justifiably put in prison are now sorry they committed that act. They would do anything possible to* correct their deed. However, it's now beyond their control. You can't bring the dead back! You cannot undo a criminal act. Does that mean they don't have a soul? Absolutely not! You know they do! So what should we do? Our writer said: "remember them" (v.3). That's the Christian way. That means pray for them. That means assist them in whatever way you can. Empathize with them. Treat them as you would have them treat you (i.e. the golden rule). Even criminals that show no remorse sometimes repent when you teach them and when they understand their proper relationship to God. So, let's not give up on even them. Let's do what we can to save their soul as long as there is time and opportunity.
(#4...v.4) Let us honor marriage. "Marriage is honorable in all." Now, he did not say marriage is honorable in the elite, honorable in Christians only, honorable in first marriages only, honorable in certain ethnic groups, honorable in 'these or honorable in those. He said "marriage is honorable in all." I think we have a problem here when 30% or 50% or 80% of those little innocent babies born in our country are born out of wedlock. Somebody does not honor marriage. As a Christian, you must honor marriage. We could write a book here.
Now, may I back up just a moment? Let's get our perspective! In the second generation of that Jerusalem church and with those Hebrew speaking Christians in and around Jerusalem in the AD 60's, our writer was warning about these things: let brotherly love continue, be hospitable, remember those in bonds, honor marriage and on down the list we go. Why was this writer giving this warning? Well, I don't know all the details... but, there were problems! Problems just like we have. It involved pain, disease, economics, passions, boredom, discontentment, law enforcement, etc. Even Christians were playing politics and saying: we need a high priest over us. Little did those people realize that a decade later, there would be no city, no temple, no community known as Jerusalem. Little did the population of that city realize that ten years down the road many of them would be displaced persons in slave camps scattered over the Roman empire. They had very little appreciation for the blessings they enjoyed. Even their conversations were covetous (I conclude this from v.5). They were not content with such things as they had. It was give me! give me! The government owes me a living. I'm not getting my share! Slave driving economics! They were forsaking the assembly of the saints (10:25). They did not remember the former days (10:32). They had need of patience (10:36). They were hindered in their Christian race by carrying around a big weight, known as a lack of faith (12:1). They were not looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of their faith (12:2). They were not resisting sin (12:4). They were not seeking "peace with all men" (12:14). Must I go on? Why are we studying this book? Why was this writer warning these early Christians? How does it apply to us? How important is Christianity... real Christianity... how important is it today? I challenge you to give this some thought. I challenge you to lay aside every weight, practice simple N.T. Christianity, get prepared for eternity. Do what you can before it is eternally too late. Today is the day of salvation. "To day if ye will hear his voice..." (3:7). The emphasis is upon DOING. Our writer says, "I beseech you the rather to do this..." DO THIS! (That's down in v.19). Have you done it? Are you doing it? Let's read v.18 and v.19...please read with me: (our writer says): "Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all thing willing to live honestly. But I beseech you the rather TO DO THIS, that I may be restored to you the sooner." These words and the verses that follow for some reason make me think of the apostle Paul as the probable writer of this book..., but, I won't force my point. This writer was humble enough to seek the prayers of his brothers and sisters in Christ in and around Jerusalem...those very people he was warning: "I beseech you...do this."
In v.20-21, our writer expresses a prayer for them and ends that prayer with "Amen." He prayed: "Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen." He prayed that the God of peace would make them perfect. How? ...in every good work. In what? "to do his will" (v.21). He told them what to do... He exhorted them to do it... He begged them to do it... He prayed that they would... He is practicing the very things he was preaching, and exhorting and warning them to do in this chapter.
Then in v.22 he begs them to do it. The word "beseech" is an old English word meaning to solicit and plead. "And I beseech you, brethren, suffer the word of exhortation: for I have written a letter unto you in few words." Much more needed to be said. That writer had much more on his heart. In a course such as this, much more could have been said... yea, much more needs to be said. You need to say it, where you are, to them around you. You need to pray and practice it as this writer did. V.23 is the closest thing to a P.S. (post script) you will probably find in any N.T. book. Personal: information... "Know ye that our brother Timothy is set at liberty; with whom, if he come shortly, I will see you." Remember them in bonds (v.3, up the page). Who would like to visit Jerusalem again in the company of Timothy? If you can figure that out, you have the writer of this book. Then the final salutation: "Salute all them that have the rule over you, and all the saints. [Read again: Acts 21:18] They of Italy salute you. Grace be with you all. Amen."
This tape has about one minute left. May I say, thanks for corning! Thanks for hanging in until the end. I have learned a lot in this study. I hope you can say the same. "God who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son..." Jesus the Christ. Our writer closed with the wish he could visit his brethren. May I close with the wish that you will come and visit us. If I can help you in any way, please let me know. Until we meet again, either here, or there, or until another tape brings us together in another study, this is saying: have a good day.