THE INTENDED LIFE
The Closing words of Hebrews are at the end of our passage today. Let’s look at verses 22-25…final thoughts…
22 I urge you, dear brothers and sisters, to pay attention to what I have written in this brief exhortation. 23 I want you to know that our brother Timothy has been released from jail. If he comes here soon, I will bring him with me to see you.
24 Greet all your leaders and all the believers there. The believers from Italy send you their greetings. 25 May God’s grace be with you all.
Okay so that’s the end of today’s passage…Ultimately it is saying “Pay Attention.” The Apostle Paul and Apollos have tried to squeeze in every bit they can in the way of practical application. So let’s pay attention.
The authors are finalizing this letter to the Hebrews is highly practical, crowded with many helpful things that will help us live The Intended Life that God calls us to. The 3 Sections of this Passage
2. Life in the Church
3. Life on the Inside
I. LIFE IN THE WORLD
13:1 Keep on loving each other as brothers and sisters.
A. Christians are to have an Open House to Strangers
13:1 Keep on loving each other as brothers and sisters. 2 Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!
This is something the world knows little of. The worldly person is content only to entertain his friends, perhaps a very limited circle. Christians are to entertain other Christians, but do not stop at this. “Do not neglect hospitality to strangers.” A Christian home is to be a center of hospitality to which strangers and worldly are to have access.
Obviously this calls for initiative on the part of Christians. Strangers do not come around knocking at your door asking for an invitation to a meal. We must assume the initiative.
And this type of ministry has a special beneficiary effect upon the host as well, for the writer reminds us that “some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!.” Which I think it really cool!
B. Christians are to have Open Hearts to the Oppressed
3 Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies.
1. Remember and help those who are in prison and ill-treated.
2. Personalize their struggles, as if they were yours.
C. Christians are to have Open Eyes to the Dangers of Life
4 Give honor to marriage, and remain faithful to one another in marriage. God will surely judge people who are immoral (or sexually Immoral…which is the word porniea in the original language) and those who commit adultery.
5 Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said,“I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” (Deut 31:6, 8)
1. The Danger of Conformity to the World
a. Sacredness of Marriage
4 Give honor to marriage, and remain faithful to one another in marriage. God will surely judge people who are immoral and those who commit adultery.
i. Christians are to Honor, and be Faithful in, Marriage
ii. God judges the immoral and adulterous
iii. Our World has redefined Sexual Standards, Christians
need to live by Biblical Standards.
b. The Danger of Materialism
5a Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have.
i. A weakness in the Church is the failure of Christians to be
content with what God gives them.
ii. Nothing wrong with Wealth, we just need to be Content
This does not mean that all Christians should take a vow of poverty. There is nothing like that in the New Testament, for it is evident that God allows certain standards of living, certain levels of prosperity differing one from another. The point the writer makes is not that there is anything wrong in riches, but that we must learn to be content with what God has given. Contentment is not having what you want; it is wanting only what you have.
D. God will Help Us
5b For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.”
6 So we can say with confidence,“The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?”
1. In this Intended Life God promises to Never Fail Us or Abandon
Us and He will always be our Helper.
That is the promise of God. He is our great and unending resource and will never fail us. Here is the strongest negative in the New Testament. The original carries the thought, “I will never, never, under any circumstances, ever leave you or forsake you.” It is a mighty declaration and on the basis of it the writer says we should declare, “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid (of loss or poverty or anything else). What can man do to me?” If I have God, what can man do to me? The point is that we must be content to take only what God gives us.
For the World… Open House. Open Hearts. Open Eyes
II. Let us now look at life in the Body.
Here is life as a Christian must live it out in terms of his relationship to the body of Christ, the Church. Every Christian soon discovers that he is part of a new community — the community of the redeemed. Whenever you meet one, you discover you share a relationship with Jesus that is often closer than flesh and blood.
A. Life in the Church Involves Modeling your Leaders
1. Think of the Good that Came from their Lives
7a Remember your leaders who taught you the word of God. Think of all the good that has come from their lives,
2. Imitate their Example of Faith
7b and follow the example of their faith.
3. Follow the Changeless Christ as they Did
8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
It is this changeless Christ which is the great refuge of the Christian in a changing world. Therefore as we look back to the men and women of the past, the Luthers, the Wesleys, the Moodys, or perhaps some godly Sunday school teacher or parent who has led us to Christ and established us in Christ, we are to imitate their faith which was fixed upon a changeless Christ.
4. Obey their Spiritual Leadership
17a Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God.
5. Live in a Way that Brings them Joy
17b Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit
B. Life in the body of Christ involves a Simplicity of Belief.
9 So do not be attracted by strange, new ideas. Your strength comes from God’s grace, not from rules about food, which don’t help those who follow them.
10 We have an altar from which the priests in the Tabernacle have no right to eat. 11 Under the old system, the high priest brought the blood of animals into the Holy Place as a sacrifice for sin, and the bodies of the animals were burned outside the camp. 12 So also Jesus suffered and died outside the city gates to make his people holy by means of his own blood.
1. Stay in the Word and Away from False Teaching
2. Don’t allow the Things of this World to Keep you from Christ
C. Life in the Church is a Sacrifice of Service
13 So let us go out to him, outside the camp, and bear the disgrace he bore. 14 For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.
15 Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name. 16 And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.
18 Pray for us, for our conscience is clear and we want to live honorably in everything we do. 19 And especially pray that I will be able to come back to you soon.
1. Sacrifice of Service involves Meekness & Praise
1. There is the practical side to this sacrifice of service which involves meekness. Let us go outside the camp, like Christ, and, like him, put up with misunderstanding and abuse and persecution from those who cannot see what we see in him. Then there is a sacrifice of praise, “a continual sacrifice of praise to God.” As Paul says to the Thessalonians, “In everything give thanks,” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
2. Sacrifice of Service involves Sharing & Prayer “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have.” The word is communicate, or “to hold all things in common.” That is not Communism. Communism says, “What’s yours is mine.” But Christianity says, “What’s mine is God’s; therefore it’s yours.” There is the difference — a readiness to hold all things in common for the Lord’s sake. Finally, there is a note on prayer. “Pray for us,” (v. 18) the apostle can say, “pray for us.” Life is too big for us to handle alone, too complicated, too highly structured. T
18 Pray for us, , the writer says…for our conscience is clear and we want to live honorably in everything we do.
So in the church… Modeling your Leaders, Simplicity of Belief, Sacrifice of Service
III. The final section is on life lived at the center:
20 Now may the God of peace—who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, and ratified an eternal covenant with his blood—21 may he equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to him. All glory to him forever and ever! Amen.
A. Allow the God of Peace
God who intends life to be lived on a peaceful level. With him is linked the Lord Jesus, the Great Shepherd of the sheep. I like that phrase, 20b …the Great Shepherd of the sheep.” We have to allow God through the power of our Great Shepherd Jesus
1. To Equip you for Doing His Will
2. To Produce in you Every Good Thing
We talk about the conquest of outer space but the greatest conquest ever made was when the Lord Jesus conquered inner space by moving into the heart of people, to plant within us the greatest power by which life can be lived — a power that heals and makes whole. He Equips us to do His Will and he Produces every good thing in our lives.
This we have to allow. Most have Christ living in us, will you allow Him to take over? Let’s allow the God of Peace to do what He wants in us!
This will create for us the Intended life that God expects from His followers. I life lived well in the World, in the Church and on the Inside.
God intended it for you, that you might live in your present circumstances, wherever you are.
Let us join together in prayer.
Our dear Father, thank you for this mighty letter coming to us across twenty centuries of time, reflecting the great truths that are still available, still demonstrable in our very midst. Help us to grasp and understand these, but more than that, give us the courage to step out upon them, to live life on this basis, that we might enter into the glorious liberty of the children of God, for we pray in your name, Amen.