The Book of Hebrews #75 chapter 13:17-21 pt. 2
The Book of Hebrews
Christian Ethics, Part 8:
Submission and Supplication
Hebrews 13:17-21
Over the last several weeks we’ve been looking at Christian Ethics as given in the 13th chapter of Hebrews.  They divide into three categories:  our relationship to others, ourselves and to God.
In regard to others, we are to have sustained love and sympathy.  In regard to ourselves, we are to have sexual purity, satisfaction (contentment) and steadfastness and in regard to God, separation, sacrifice, submission and supplication.
Those are the ethics and while not exhaustive, it is a very comprehensive list.  There are two other things remaining I want to point out to you.  It's one thing to have a list of requirements, but how do we pull it off?  To answer that, the author, first of all gives an example and then tells his hearers how to be energized to pull it off.
First of all, notice
1.  The Example
I think it important to know that God doesn't just expect you to take the book and learn how to do it. He wants to show you somebody else who did it after whom you can pattern your life.
Verse 7
Here’s what he is saying:  Remember all those folks who first came to you and shared the gospel with you?  Remember them and follow their faith. Pattern your life after their lives. Look at the results. Consider how their life ended, and you pattern your life the same way. They are your example.
So who is he talking about?  He is referring, primarily, to their leaders and elders, their teaching pastors and evangelists and prophets. I know we covered it a long time ago and you probably don’t remember, but turn back to chapter 2, verses 3 and 4.
They came and declared the truth unto them and were accompanied by signs and wonders and gifts of the Holy Spirit. He says remember.  The word, “remember”, indicates that he's talking about their past leaders as opposed to the present ones. Look at those that God has set over you, and look how they live, and what the results of it are. Consider the outcome of how they lived.
Look at the lives of those who lived before, think about what they did and how they lived and died, and consider the results of the kind of life they lived. See their faith and follow it.
Now there is one primary characteristic of these they are to follow that is critical and that is “they have spoken the Word of God to you”.  That is forever and always the obligation of the ministry.  I don’t have to be your friend.  You don’t have to like my company.  We don’t have to run around together and be buddies, but the imperative is following the word of God that is spoken.
The Greek word follow carries the idea of being a mimic.  The instruction is to be mimics or impersonators of the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists and teachers that God places over you.
I hear people saying all the time we are not to follow me.  We are to follow God, but that is not a Scriptural teaching.  Kept in its proper context and setting, we are instructed to follow men.  Paul specifically said to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ.”
There are several men that I have known personally and followed the ministry of that I can safely say I’ve tried to imitate and mimic in the ministry because I have so much respect for them and their walk with the Lord.  And the truth is, you are a product of following some human patterns as well.
In 2 Thessalonians 3:7, Paul said, "For you yourselves know how you ought to follow us." You hear that? Paul says you know you ought to be following us, watch, "for we were not disorderly among you." He says, we lived right among you and you ought to follow our patterns.
Even in Hebrews 6:12, right in the book we're studying, that same truth is brought out. "Don't be slothful," he says, "but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises." The Bible repeats that you ought to follow other men, who are your examples in faith.
In First Timothy chapter 4, verse 12, Paul said to Timothy, "Let no man despise thy youth, but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity."
You be a pattern that others can trace their life on. In Titus, he says the same thing. Titus 2:7 he says, you young men, in all things showing yourself a pattern of good works. You're to be a pattern. Again tracing other people's lives against you. The apostle Paul repeatedly said, be followers of me. But the key was this, he said, "Be followers of me," what? "even as I am of Christ."
And that takes us to verse 8.
Here we find the ultimate pattern for the Christian to follow. "Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever."
You can model your life after men, and that's good, but it's not best because men will fail and change and disappoint. But Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. Men come and go, Jesus abides.
So the first group of examples is men. But the supreme example is Jesus Christ who never varies, who never changes. And notice he uses His earthly name of Jesus and His earthly title of Christ because he's presenting an earthly pattern. He says to them, “Follow the men who were your leaders, but if you really want a pattern for your life then pattern it after the greatest human Who ever lived and that is Jesus Christ.
Think about how that’s true.  Do you want to see and example of sustained love? Then Who better to see it in that Jesus Christ?   John 13 says, "Jesus having loved them," loved them unto the end." Sustained love.
You want to see sympathy? Who are you going to see it in the best?  Travel with Jesus in John 12 to the tomb of Lazarus and find Him weeping there over His friend and his family.
You want to see sexual purity? You'll see it in Jesus like you'll never see it anywhere else as He denounces the vile sin of sexual immorality in John 8, and then cleanses the immoral woman.
You want to see satisfaction, contentment? You'll hear it, when Jesus says, "My meat is to do the will of Him that sent me." You'll hear it when He says, "The foxes have holes, birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head." That's satisfaction.
You want to hear steadfastness? Listen to Him in Matthew 4, as Satan confronts Him three times, and three times He says no. I'll trust God's Word, I reject yours. Steadfast.
You want to see separation from the world? Listen to His prayer in John 17:16, He said, "Father, they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world."
You want to see sacrifice? Listen to the apostle Paul in Ephesians 5:2 when he says, "And walk in love as Christ also loved us, (listen) and hath given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God as a sweet smelling savor." Never a greater sacrifice than His.
You want to see submission? Listen to Jesus in the garden as He prays, "Not my will," what? "Thine be done."
You want to see supplication? Watch Him in the garden as He prays for Himself, for His disciples, and for all the Christians who would ever be born, in the world.
The perfect example, the unchanging yesterday, today and forever, example is Jesus Christ.
So we’ve seen the ethic and the example of the ethic, but there’s something else we need.  If all you had is the ethics and the example, you might run out there and grunt and groan in your flesh and try to produce all this stuff, and you would ultimately fail live as God requires.
What we need to pull it off is
2.  Energy
verse 20
He gives you the ethics, He gives you the example and then He gives you the energy. So what is the energy? It's the power of God. Look what it says, "Now the God of peace." Now jump to verse 21, "Make you perfect, working in you, that which is well pleasing in His sight."
You want to know something? Your Christian growth has nothing to do with your own power. It's God working in you.  It’s one thing to have all your little rules and you can say I'm going to do them. I'm going to love, and I'm going to be sympathetic, and I'm going right down the line.  But in the flesh, you will have an absolute wipe out! You'll never do it!
And to make matters worse, there is Jesus in absolute perfection as our example and we know we never measure up.  We must look to God to provide the power we need to make it a reality in our daily lives.
And the good news is He’s got all we need!  Verse 20 just explodes with the power of God: "The God of peace that raised again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant."
He’s talking about the greatest display of divine power in the history of the universe.  What God accomplished in the death and resurrection of Christ stand unrivaled in history as the greatest demonstration of power the world has ever witnessed.
And he's simply saying, you can't function on your own energy. You can't just whip out your flesh and decide that you're goin' to be spiritual. It doesn't work like that. Only the Power of God can make it happen in your life.
And notice God not only can do it, He wants to do it.
Verse 20 sys He wants us to be complete.  He likes for His children to reach maturity, lacking nothing, in every good work.  It’s total. God doesn't do half jobs. He wants to make you totally mature, perfect. It says He wants you even to do His will, in everything.  That’s why He’s working in you that which is well pleasing in His sight.
I’m glad to know God not only gives the marching orders, but He provides the energy so I can complete the task.  The New Covenant's a wonderful thing, but it's not just free grace and do what you want.  There's some ethics. Beyond the ethics there's a living, vital example and beyond the example there's energy, and it's the power of God in your life.
Then he closes with personal notes.
Verse 22
Did he really say, “few words”? Does he know how long we've been in this? It took us 75 sessions at 30 minutes apiece.  That means I’ve given you 37 and a half hours of instruction from the book of Hebrews.
You want to hear something startling? You can read the whole book in less than an hour.
But notice he says, “bear with it”.  It’s a powerful, heavy book that was to be read over and over again.
Then after a few brief comments regarding Timothy and general closing statements, he brings the letter to a close.  And we will also.
"Grace with you all. Amen."
Let’s pray.


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