Friday, February 10, 2017

HEBREWS 2:18-3:1

"For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered,
He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.
Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling,
consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession..."

It gets a little over-lappy here 'cause I can't let go of the last verse in the last chapter before going on to the third chapter which begins with "Therefore."  Like Reuben Welch would say, "We have to know what the "therefore," is there for. 

"For since He Himself was tempted
in that which He has suffered,
He is able to come to the aid
of those who are tempted."

We know the story of the beginning of Jesus' ministry when He went to the wilderness and Satan tempted Him.  He rebuked him with Scripture.  But even to the end, when Jesus sweat great drops of blood praying in the Garden that "may this cup pass from me," in the crux of time, He submitted to the will of the Father to suffer for us.  It is noteworthy that after the wilderness experience  Luke 4:13 says, "When the devil had finished every temptation, he left Him until an opportune time.  You better believe he was there in the Garden of Gethsemane which he would have seen as a most opportune time to overthrow the plan of salvation.  That's what it means that He was tempted in that which He suffered.

But Jesus taught us to pray, "Lead me not into temptation."  However, if we find ourselves in the battle, facing temptation, here's how it works...

"No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man;
and God is faithful who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able,
but with the temptation will provide a way of escape also,
so that you will be able to endure it."
(I Corinthians 10:13)

There's always a way of escape.

That's what therefore was there for.  So we can, as "holy brethren," "partakers of the heavenly calling," consider Jesus.  Whoa there Nelly!  "Holy Brethren?" Stop right there.  There is a theological lie (Antinomianism) that a majority of Christians have bought into which forefathers of the faith (Calvin and Luther) wrongly interpreted from Scripture.  That theology says that we are unholy brethren, dirty rags, that we are only holy because of the lens Jesus looks at us through, His blood.  This emasculates our holy calling.  

God gave the Holy Spirit beginning at Pentecost to empower His children to become holy. "He that sanctifieth, maketh holy, and they who are sanctified, made holy...this will give us courage to enter into the Holiness of Holinesses, to have God's holiness take complete possession, and fill our whole being...'The heavenly calling'  the kingdom of heaven came to this earth in power, through the descent of the Holy Spirit.  Christians, at Pentecost, were people who by the new birth entered into the heavenly kingdom or state of life.  And the kingdom entered into them.  And they were partakers of a heavenly calling, because the spirit and the life and the power of heaven was within them." (Andrew Murray)  Remember, the Holy Spirit was sent to believers, not unbelievers, in the Upper Room.  It was a second work of grace.

While in college, I took almost all of my electives in the Religion Department.  Perhaps this was a strange combo as an Art Major.  But as I took the Holiness Class from Albert Lown, a godly elderly preacher from England, I remember struggling with this concept, that the Scriptures spoke of a second work of grace as I tried to fit it into my Christian experience.  Unlike many who went before me, I did not have an emotional experience but a set-it-down-in-concrete experience, an "I know that I know" kind of thing.  Wesley called it "strangely warmed" at the reading of Scripture.  It boiled down to complete surrender.  That lead to the question, where's the power?  It came as letting go of man-fear, trying to please man, instead only to living and speaking as pleasing to God through His Holy Spirit.  No fear.  Boldness.  Yes, I know you might think me a little too bold at times which might come across as abrasive, but I try to walk in obedience regardless of what others may think sticking close to my guns, the Holy Scriptures.

Here's what Adam Clarke has to say about "Holy brethren"...

"Persons consecrated to God, as the word literally implies, and called, in consequence, to be holy in heart, holy in life, and useful in the world...Antinomian imputation of Christ's righteousness to unholy believers, whose hearts were abominable before God, and whose lives were a scandal to the Gospel. Let, therefore, a due distinction be made between persons by their profession holy, i.e. consecrated to God; and persons who are faithful to that profession, and are both inwardly and outwardly holy." 

"They are not all Israel who are of Israel: a man, by a literal circumcision, may be a Jew outwardly; but the circumcision of the heart by the Spirit makes a man a Jew inwardly...those who pretend that, although they are unholy in themselves, they are reputed holy in Christ, because His righteousness is imputed to them, most awfully deceive their own souls...Let none deceive themselves; sanctification is a qualification indispensably necessary to them who will be under the conduct of the Lord Christ unto salvation; He leads none to heaven, but whom He sanctifies on earth.  The holy God will not receive unholy persons.  The living head will not admit of dead members..."

"Heavenly calling"  The Israelites had an earthly calling; they were called out of Egypt to go into the promised land: Christians have a heavenly calling; they are invited to leave the bondage of sin, and go to the kingdom of God.  These were made partakers of this calling."

Just a little note concerning misunderstanding:  to be holy, perfect in heart, does not  translate to always being perfect in our humanness.  We are still in these vessels of clay which tend to have cracks.  What we are is perfect, holy in our earnestness to please only Him as we walk in the light. 

One pastor illustrated it like this: he was weeding in his garden when his little boy wanted to help.  So he allowed it.   After a while, looking back, he found that his little one had not only pulled the weeds, but the baby plants which had been growing.  His child earnestly wanted to please his daddy though he did not know what he was doing.  ("Father forgive them for they know not what they are doing.")

Sometimes people of holiness do make mistakes, and hopefully we do epitomize humility and apologize when wrong. But it doesn't change the fact that God is pleased with our willingness to follow Him and His example wholeheartedly with a heart filled with His Spirit, even if we tug on the wrong thing once in awhile.  Holiness people should be open to correction by His word, always growing. 

I will pause right here and next time pick up with "Consider Jesus..."where I will be a little over-lappy again.

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