Advent – II

Psalm 85:4-7

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

An advent can mean, “a coming or arrival”, especially as it relates to Christ’s first and second coming. The revival of the early 1950’s in the Outer Hebrides islands was the arrival Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit! One of the Scriptures of that revival was Psalm 85:4 through 7:

     Restore us, O God of our salvation, and cause Your anger  
     toward us to cease. Will You be angry with us forever? 
     Will You prolong Your anger to all generations? Will You 
     not revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You?  
     Show us Your mercy, Lord, and grant us Your salvation. 

The foundation of the Outer Hebrides revival was laid in prayer. In the late 1940’s a few Christians were concerned enough to pray – really pray – for God to send His spiritual awakening to dead churches on the Island of Lewis off the coast of Scotland. Two sisters, Peggy and Christine Smith, both in their 80’s labored long hours in prayer. Seven young men met three nights a week in a barn – all beseeching God to send revival to the island churches!

Reverend Duncan Campbell was called to preach for ten days. But it wasn’t until the fifth night of services in the Barvas church that all heaven broke loose! After dismissing the congregation at a service where no indication of revival was manifested, Mr. Campbell found six to seven hundred people outside the church doors, all seeking relief from their hell-bound sins – at 11 o’clock at night! We pick up the story from there, in Duncan Campbell’s words…

There was a dance in progress that night in the parish, and while this young man [the deacon in the Shader church] was praying in the aisle; the power of God moved into that dance, and the young people, over a hundred of them, fled from the dance, as though fleeing from a plague, and they made for the church. They hadn’t been thinking of God or eternity….They were there to have a good time, when suddenly the power of God fell upon the dance. The music ceased, and in a matter of minutes, the hall was empty. They stood outside, saw the lights in the church, knew that it was a house of God, so they went over to it.

Other people who had gone to bed, got up, got dressed, and made for the church. There had been no publicity, except an announcement from the pulpit on the Sabbath…a certain man was going to be conducting a series of meetings in the parish for ten days. But God…became His own publicity agent! A hunger and a thirst gripped the people. At least six hundred of them were now at the church standing outside.

…I could hear the cry of the penitent, I could hear men crying to God for mercy, and I turned to the elder and said, ‘I think we had better open the doors again and let them in.’ Within a matter of minutes, the church was crowded, even though it was now a quarter to midnight. A church to seat over eight hundred was now packed to capacity. I manag-ed to make my way through the crowd along the aisle toward the pulpit. There I found a young woman, a teacher in the grammar school, lying prostrate on the floor of the pulpit praying, ‘Oh, God, is there mercy for me? Oh, God, is there mercy for me?’ She was one of those at the dance. But she was now lying on the floor of the pulpit crying to God for mercy. God was at work, and Peggy Smith’s vision of a church crowded with young people, as well as old, had now become a reality.

That meeting continued until four o’clock in the morning. I couldn’t tell you how many were saved that night, but of this I am sure, that at least five young men who were saved that night are ministers today in the Church of Scotland.

At four o’clock we decided to make for the manse…asking those who wanted to get right with God to come to a further meeting, where we would quote Scripture, but basically we just left men and women to make their way to God themselves. When God takes a situation in hand, I tell you, He does a better work than we could ever do!

…just as I was leaving the church, a young man came to me and said, ‘Mr. Campbell, I would like you to go to the police station, for there must be at least four hundred people gathered around there just now.’ A crowd of men and women, from a neighboring vil-lage, five or six miles away, had been so convicted by God, that they found them-selves moving to the police station, because the constable there was a God-fearing man, a well-saved man, and next to the police station was the cottage where the two Smith sisters lived. People knew that this was a home that feared God. I believe that had something to do with the magnet, the power that drew men….

I went…to the police station. As I was walking along the country road…about a mile, I heard…by the roadside…a man crying to God for mercy. I went over, and there were four young men on their knees….they had been to the dance, but now they were here, crying to God for mercy. One of them…a young man of about 20, was drunk….But that night God saved him, and today he is a parish minister and a man of God. He was converted in the revival with eleven other men who were to serve in his presbytery, a wonderful congregation.

When I got to the police station, I saw something that will live with me as long as I live. I didn’t preach….We didn’t even sing. The people were in great spiritual distress. Under the…bright moon…were men and women on the road, others by the side of a cottage, and some behind a peat stack, all crying to God for mercy. Oh, the confessions that were made! There was one old man crying out, ‘Oh, God, hell is too good for me, hell is too good for me!’ That is Holy Ghost conviction! …from the group of young men who sought the Lord that night; there are nine in the ministry today.

We knew that God had taken the field, the forces of darkness had been driven back, and men and women were going to be delivered.

…that was not the beginning of revival; revival began in a prayer meeting. Revival began in an awareness of God. Revival began when the Holy Ghost was poured out through the consecration of two groups of people – [the Smith sisters and the seven young men who met in the barn]But the awakening had now begun!

This was but the first night of the Outer Hebrides revival! The following events of this great and holy work of God will continue to be recounted in the next Gem.

Advent – I

Isaiah 64:1-9 (New International Version)

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

Advent, generally meaning the four Sundays leading up to Christmas, is still more than a month away! But the word advent’ also means, according to Webster’s New World Dictionary, a coming or arrival”, especially as it relates to Christ’s first and second coming.

I preached a sermon on this aspect of ‘advent’ several years ago. It is the record of a revival that took place in the Outer Hebrides Islands, off the coast of Scotland. It began on the Island of Saint Lewis starting in 1949, and lasting for about four years. The story of this modern day revival is amazing, and somewhat typical of all true revivals through the ages!

In the last Gem, based on II Chronicles 7:12 through 15, we learned that the answer to our current problems in this country and around the world, aggravated by the Coronaviruse pandemic, is for Christians to turn to the Lord, heart, soul, strength, and mind, pleading with Him to forgive our personal sins and the sins of our nation!

Although it is a long Scripture, I have here reproduced Isaiah 64:1 through 9 (New International Version):

     Oh, that You would rend the heavens and come down, that 
     the mountains would tremble before You! As when fire 
     sets twigs ablaze and causes water to boil, come down 
     to make Your name known to your enemies and cause the 
     nations to quake before You! For when You did awesome 
     things that we did not expect, You came down, and the 
     mountains trembled before You. Since ancient times no 
     one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen 
     any God besides You, who acts on behalf of those who 
     wait for Him. You come to the help of those who gladly 
     do right, who remember Your ways. But when we continued 
     to sin against them, You were angry. How then can we be 
     saved? All of us have become like one who is unclean, 
     and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all 
     shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep 
     us away. No one calls on Your name or strives to lay 
     hold of You; for you have hidden Your face from us and 
     have given us over to our sins. Yet You, LORD, are our 
     Father. We are the clay, You are the potter; we are all 
     the work of Your hand. Do not be angry beyond measure, 
     LORD; do not remember our sins forever. Oh, look on us, 
     we pray, for we are all Your people.

____________________________________________________________________________

The account of the Outer Hebrides Revival

The heart of the Christian message, of salvation in Jesus Christ alone, through faith alone, by God’s grace alone, is too often smothered by religious routines and forms. Within a generation, zealous Christian saints can be replaced by traditional church-going sinners. This was the situation on the Isle of Lewis in the late 1940’s. There were no conversions, the island youth were rebellious, and lost in sinful pastimes. They likened ‘becoming a Christian’ to ‘catching the plague!’ So the church leaders, led by the Reverend James Murray McKay, decided to do something about it. They issued a proclamation calling on the island’s Christian community to examine their spiritual state, and petition God to send repentance before it was too late.

Behind the scenes labored two elderly sisters: Peggy Smith, who was 84 years old and blind; and her sister, Christine Smith, 82 years old and almost doubled over with arthritis. They were unable to attend regular church services, but for months they prayed in their home for God to send revival to their little town of Barvas. These two relentless intercessors prayed by name for the people in each cottage along their village streets.

They reminded God of his word in Isaiah 44:3: “I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground.” They cried this prophetic promise to the Lord day and night. Across the village, independent of the Smith sisters, seven young men met three nights a week in a barn to pray for revival. They made a covenant with God and one another, according to Isaiah 62:6-7, that they would give him no rest until he sent revival their way. Month after month they prevailed in prayer.

Yet despite their prayers and efforts, especially to interest the Barvas youth in spiritual things, not a single young person attended church services.

One night in particular (November, 1949), as these dedicated seven prayed in the barn with intensity, a young deacon rose to his feet and read Psalm 24:3-5: “Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who shall stand in his holy place? He that has clean hands, and a pure heart… He shall receive the blessing…from the God of his salvation.” He closed his Bible, looked down at the group of kneeling men, and said, “Brethren, it seems to me just so much humbug to be waiting and praying as we are, if we ourselves are not rightly related to God.” And then he lifted his two hands and prayed, “God, are my hands clean? Is my heart pure?

But he got no further! That young man fell to his knees, and then into a trance and lay on the floor of the barn. At that moment the other six intercessors were gripped by a conviction that a God-sent revival must ever be related to holiness and Godliness!Are my hands clean? Is my heart pure?” Instantly, it seemed, the barn was filled with the glory of God and the young praying men fell prostrate on the floor, and began to confess their own needs. An awesome awareness of God overcame them and they were drenched with supernatural power they had never known before. And the Lord gave His assurance that He would certainly visit the Island of Lewis with revival!

At that very time, the Lord gave one of the Smith sisters a vision, Peggy Smith saw the churches crowded with people, young and old, and a minister, a stranger, standing in the pulpit. She saw hundreds being swept into the kingdom of God. They sent word to their pastor that they had broken throughand that heaven was about to descend on earth! And so it did!

Reverend McKay was their minister in Barvas. He came to the Smith sisters’ cottage and Peggy Smith said to him, “I think you ought to invite someone to the parish. I cannot give you a name, but God must have someone specific in His mind, for I saw a strange man in the pulpit, and that man must be somewhere.

Reverend Mckay went to a convention in Scotland, and was directed to write a letter to ask Reverend Duncan Campbell (preacher and evangelist) to come to Barvas to preach for ten days. Campbell was that “strange man” whom Peggy Smith had seen in her vision. Campbell relates in his book, The Lewis Awakening 1949 – 1953:

I was at that time in the midst of a very gracious movement on the island of Skype….I received this invitation to go to Lewis for ten days, and I wrote back to say that it wasn’t possible for me to do that, because I was involved in a holiday convention on the Island of Skype….the speakers and accommoda-tion[s]…were arranged…for people who were coming from all over Britain. Rev. McKay received the letter, went to Peggy Smith, and read the letter to her….she said, ‘Mr McKay…he will be here within a fortnight.’

That convention had to be cancelled, largely because the tourist board took…over…the hotels for a special Skype week that they were going to have. So I had to cancel everything. I was on the Island of Lewis within ten days, to spend ten days among the people, (as I thought).

Duncan Campbell was there for three years!

He arrived in Barvas on December 7th, 1949. He writes,

“I was met at the pier by the minister and two of his office bearers. Just as I stepped off the boat, an old elder came over to me, and faced me. ‘Mr. Campbell, can I ask you this question? Are you walking with God?’ I was glad to be able to say, ‘Well I can say this, that I fear God.’ The dear man looked at me and said, ‘Well, if you fear God, that will do.’

“I went to the church, and preached to a congregation of about three hundred, and I would say it was a good meeting…but nothing really happened.

It was the same for the next three nights. Then on Sunday, December 11th, at the church in Shader, a few miles north of Barvas, Reverend Campbell preached at another service. But still no breakthrough had been made. “I pronounced the benediction,” said Campbell…

…and I was walking down the aisle, when a young man, a deacon from the church…came to me, and said, ‘Don’t be discouraged. God is hovering over us, and He’ll break through any moment….’ He lifted his two hands, and started to pray, ‘God You made a promise to pour water on the thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground, and You’re not doing it!’ He prayed until he fell onto the floor in a trance. He lay there with me standing beside him for about five minutes. The congregation had left the church, but then the doors of the church opened, and John, the local blacksmith, came back in…and said, ‘Mr. Campbell, something wonderful has happened! We were praying that God would pour water on the thirsty and floods upon the dry ground, and listen, He’s done it! He’s done it! Will you come to the door, and see the crowd that’s here?’

I went to the door, and even though it was eleven o’clock at night, there must have been a crowd of between six and seven hundred people gathered around the church ….they were moved by a power that they could not explain, and the power was such as to make them realize that they were hell-deserving sinners! Of course the only place they could think of, where they might find help, was the church building. So there they were, between six and seven hundred of them!

This was the start of God’s mighty outpouring of the Outer Hebrides revival!

…to be continued in the next Gem.

What God Says Matters!

II Chronicles 7:12-15

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

II Chronicles 7:14 has been a much quoted Scripture concerning righting the wrongs of our society. But I think it is especially relevant today in light of the Coronavirus pandemic now increasingly spreading in the United States as well as around the world!

But we take the Lord’s promise in verse 14 sometimes too generally. It is time to take it more specifically in light of the ongoing pandemic!

King Solomon had just completed seven years of building the temple at Jerusalem where God was to be worshiped (see I Kings 6:38). In II Chronicles 6:14 through 42 there is recorded a lengthy dedicatory prayer the king prayed before the gathered Israelites. In that prayer Solomon put forth seven possible scenarios when God interceding in human affairs will be sorely needed:

  • II Chronicles 6:22, 23 – “If anyone sins against his neighbor, and is forced to take an oath…before You…then hear from heaven, and act, and judge your servants….
  • II Chronicles 6:24, 25 – “…if Your people are defeated before an enemy because they have sinned against You, and return…and pray…then…forgive…[their] sin…and bring them back to the land….
  • II Chronicles 6:26, 27 – “When…there is no rain because they have sinned…when they pray…and turn from their sin…then hear in heaven, and forgive the sin of…Your people…and send rain….
  • II Chronicles 6:28-30 – “When there is famine…pestilence…blight…mildew, locusts or grasshoppers…[or] their enemies besiege them…whatever plague of sickness there is; whatever prayer…is made by…Your people…then hear from heaven…and forgive….
  • II Chronicles 6:32, 33 – “…concerning a foreigner…who comes…and…they pray…then hear from heaven…and do…all which the foreigner calls to You, that all people…may know…and fear You….
  • II Chronicles 6:34, 35 – “When Your people go…against their enemies…and they pray to You…then hear from heaven…and maintain their cause.
  • II Chronicles 6:36-39 – “When they sin against You…and You…deliver to the enemy, and they take them captive to a land far or near, yet when they…repent…saying, ‘We…have sinned…and have acted wickedly”…then hear from heaven…and forgive Your people who have sinned against You….

Let’s focus on the fourth scenario, and specifically on God’s answer in II Chronicles 7:12 through 15:

     Then the LORD...said...“I have heard your prayer...I 
     have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacri-
     fice.  When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or 
     command the locusts to devour the land, or send pesti-
     lence among My people, if My people who are called by 
     My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My 
     face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will 
     hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal 
     their land.  Now My eyes will be open and My ears a
     tentive to prayer made in this place.”

Notice that the LORD specifically said, “When I…send pestilence among My people….We are in the midst of a world-wide pestilence! What must we, God’s people – made Christians through faith in Jesus Christ – do in the face of this pestilence?

  • First, we must realize what and who we are! In verse 12 of our featured Scripture, God said, “I have…chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice.
     ✡   In Solomon’s day it was the temple built in Jerusalem.  
         There are a number of animal sacrifices spelled out in 
         Leviticus, the first seven chapters. And they were all 
         to be presented at the one bronze altar that stood in 
         the courtyard before the temple – nowhere else was any 
         sacrifice to be offered! (See Deuteronomy 12:13, 14).  

     But in this Church Age (since Pentecost – see Acts 2), 
         as Paul wrote in I Corinthians 6:19:

             ...do you not know that your body is the temple 
             of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have 
             from God, and you are not your own?  For you 
             were bought with a price; therefore glorify God 
             in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. 
         Peter adds this in I Peter 2:5, “...you also, as living 
         stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy 
         priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable 
         to God through Jesus Christ.

God has chosen us as Christians to be His temple, and our lives to be the altar on which we offer up spiritual sacrifices pleasing to Him!

  • Second, when hard times hit, such as this Covid 19 pandemic, we must personally and collectively turn to Him! And it does not matter where we physically are!
     We can be gathered together at church or in a home 
         in collective prayer. 

     Or we can be kneeling beside our beds pouring our 
         hearts out to God.
             ...if My people who are called by My name will 
             humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, 
             and turn from their wicked ways, then I will 
             hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin 
             and heal their land. 
  • Third, Let us not forget what the LORD says in verse 15 of our featured Scripture: “Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place.
     This place is us!

     ✞   The time is now!

Let us beseech God to heal our land!

Build To The Very Edge!

I Corinthians 3:9-11

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

I am intrigued by what Saint Paul wrote in I Corinthians 3:9 through 11:

     For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, 
     you are God's building. According to the grace of God 
     which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have 
     laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let 
     each one take heed how he builds on it.  For no other 
     foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, 
     which is Jesus Christ.

Paul worked in Corinth for 18 months (see Acts 18:1-11). Apollos, a Jewish believer (see Acts 18:24), came to Corinth after Paul had left, and “…he greatly helped those who had believed through grace….” (Acts 18:27). Paul calls Apollos and himself, “…fellow workers…” in verse 9. The problem that the apostle was addressing was that immature Corinthian believers were dividing themselves into cliques described in verses 3 and 4 (Good News Bible):

     When there is jealousy among you and you quarrel with 
     one another, doesn't this prove that you belong to this 
     world, living by its standards?  When one of you says, 
     “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos” — 
     aren't you acting like worldly people?

So Paul uses two metaphors to correct such unchristian thinking:

  • Agriculture in verses 6 through 8 (summarized in verses 6 and 9 ) – “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase….you are God’s field….
  • Building a structure, verses 9 through 11 – our featured Scripture (summarized in verse 9) – “…you are God’s building.

The focus of this Gem is…you are God’s building…!

  • In verse 10 Paul says, “…as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation….” And in the next verse he identifies that foundation: “For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.All of our Christian life is built on the foundation of Jesus Christ!
  • Our job (with His guidance and power) is to build on that foundation!

The next four verses, 12 through 15 of chapter 3, give a fuller picture of the building process:

     Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, sil-
     ver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one's work 
     will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because 
     it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each
     one's work, of what sort it is.  If anyone's work which 
     he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward.  
     If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he 
     himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. 

We can chose what materials to use in the structure we are building on this foundation!

  • Building with gold, silver, and precious stones is what is done for the glory of God! It is when we say to the Lord with conviction, whatever we are facing in thought, word, or deed, “…not my will, but Yours, be done…” (Luke 22:42), and then we follow what we know to be His leading, His will!
  • Building with wood, hay and straw is the opposite! It is living for self, our own will and way. It is in effect, saying, “Not Your will, but mine be done!

Whatever we choose as building material, it “…will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is.” What fire, what kind of fire, is referred to here? It is the fire of Jesus evaluating the lives of Christians at what is referred to as the Bema Seat Judgment! It is not the Great White Throne Judgment described in Revelation 20:11 through 15. At the Bema Seat judgment all those being judged will enter heaven! (See verses 14 and 15 above).

But what kind of fire is it? In Revelation 1:12 through 16, the Apostle John, exiled to the island of Patmos, experienced a vision of the glorified Christ! In verse 14, he describes two details of how Jesus appeared to him: “His head and His hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire. When the Lord reviews our Christian lives, all He has to do is gaze upon our works! Those eyes like a flame of fire will reveal the strength and durability of gold, silver, and precious stones; or will reduce to ashes the selfish works of wood, hay and straw!

We still haven’t covered what is implied by this Gem’s title, Build To The Very Edge!

  • How large, how expansive, how big and strong and stable is the foundation of Jesus Christ?
     A Bible study I taught one time met in the basement 
         family room of a friend’s home.  The room was large 
         enough to accommodate the dozen or so regular atten-
         ders.  On the floor was a comfortable nine by twelve 
         rug.  I used that rug as an illustration of Build To 
         The Very Edge!

     If this rug represents the foundation of Jesus 
         Christ,” I said, “what kind of structure could it 
         support?  How big, how heavy, how substantial?”  

         “You could build anything!” someone said.

         “Could you use gold, silver, and diamonds?  They 
         are very heavy for their volume, you know,” I re-
         minded them.

         They were in agreement, “Of course you could!”

         “If you built a huge castle, a cathedral, a sky 
         scraper, would the foundation hold it,” I asked?

         “Yes!” was the answer.

         “Could you build right to the very edge of the 
         foundation,” I asked them, “and would it hold?”

         Again, several answered, “Yes!Why, then,” I posed, “do so many build with wood, 
         hay, and straw?  And then when they finish with 
         construction, all they have is a ten-by-ten tumble-
         down hut in the middle of this vast and strong 
         foundation?  

         And what will happen to that hut, that life invest-
         ed for self?”

         They knew the answer, “It will be burned up!
  • With your life build the biggest structure you can!

…the Foundation will hold!

Build with materials that will last forever!

…the Foundation will hold!

Build to the very edge!

…the Foundation will hold!

Build for the glory of God!

Serving Up Hebrew ‘Let Us’ – VIII Hebrews 13:15

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

The last serving of HebrewLet Us’ is found in Hebrews 13:15: “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.” I have been told as a basic tenet of Bible study that whenever you come across the word therefore, you ask, What is that therefore there for?This particular therefore is there for a very good reason! Consider the thirteen servings of HebrewLet Us’ we have already explored:

  • Two servings of ‘Let Us’ in Hebrews 4:1, 2, and 11 – Jesus has provided a rest for us, both in this life and forever in heaven! Let us…be diligent to enter that rest…” And “…let us fear… that we won’t make it!
  • Two servings of ‘Let Us’ in Hebrews 4:14 through 16 – “…let us hold fast our confession [of faith in Him]….Let us come boldly to [Him for all our needs]….
  • One serving of ‘Let Us’ in Hebrews 6:1 through 3 – “… let us go on to… be more and more like Him, knowing the basics of our faith, and growing up in Him!
  • Three servings of ‘Let Us’ in Hebrews 10:21 through 25 – Being forgiven and clean by Jesus’ sacrifice, …let us draw near…to God,…let us hold fast…to Him,And let us consider one another to stir up love and good works….
  • Two servings of ‘Let Us’ in Hebrews 12:1 and 2 – We are in a life-long race of living out our Christainity!…let us lay aside every weight and…sin…and let us run…!
  • One serving of ‘Let Us’ in Hebrews 12:26 through 29 – There is coming from God a terrible shaking of heaven and earth! …let us…hang on and serve our Lord!
  • One serving of ‘Let Us’ in Hebrews 13:10 through 14 – “…let us…carry our cross and follow Jesus out to be crucified, so we can then live for Him! Our true and eternal citizenship is in Heaven, not on the earth!

Therefore, in light of all this, “… let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.

  • Praise is telling God how good, wonderful, holy, powerful, loving, just, He is…and so much more! He is worthy of our praise, for there is no One else like Him – never was, never will be! Here are just a few Biblical examples about which we can praise Him:
     Exodus 15:2 – “The LORD is my strength and my song, 
         and He has become my salvation; He is my God, and I 
         will praise Him, my father's God, and I will exalt 
         Him.Psalm 29:2 – “Give unto the LORD the glory due to 
         His name....Psalm 100:4, 5 – “Enter into His gates with thanks-
         giving, and into His courts with praise.  For the 
         LORD is good; and His mercy is everlasting, and His 
         truth endures to all generations.Psalm 139:14 – “I will praise You, for I am fearful-
         ly and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, 
         and that my soul knows very well.Jeremiah 14:14 – “Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be 
         healed; same me, and I shall be saved, for You are 
         my praise.Ephesians 1:3 – “Blessed be the God and Father of 
         our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with ev-
         ery spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in 
         Christ....
  • Giving thanks to God is often associated with praising Him. But Joe Putnam describes a difference between them in holdingtotruth.com /2015/04/19/thanking-and-praising-god/
         To thank the Lord is to thank Him for the things 
         that He’s done for us and provided for us....When 
         we praise the Lord, we praise Him for who He is 
         and what He’s done apart from what He’s done for 
         us. 

     Psalm 97:12 – “Rejoice in the LORD, you righteous, 
         and give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name.Psalm 119:62 – “At midnight I will rise to give 
         thanks to You, because of Your righteous judgments.I Corinthians 15:57 – “...thanks be to God, who 
         gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.II Corinthians 9:15 – “Thanks be to God for His 
         indescribable gift...[of our salvation through 
         Jesus Christ]!Philippians 4:6 – “Be anxious for nothing, but in 
         everything by prayer and supplication, with thanks-
         giving [even before you receive answers to your 
         prayers], let your requests be made known to God.Colossians 1:12-14 – “...giving thanks to the Father 
         who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheri-
         tance of the saints in the light.  He has delivered 
         us from the power of darkness and translated us into 
         the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have 
         redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.

Above are Biblical examples, six each of praise and thanksgiving! Pages could be filled with many more! But have you ever thought of praise and thanksgiving as a regular sacrifice we can offer to God?

The Old Testament Jewish law is filled with commandments to bring sacrifices to God. There are five main types of grain and animal sacrifices listed in the first seven chapters of the book of Leviticus: burnt offering; grain offering; fellowship offering; sin offering; and guilt offering. But Paul tells us we are no longer under the Old Testament law (see Galatians 3:23-26). Yet so much in the law is a picture (a shadow prophesy) of how we are to live out our Christian life!

And so, we are to offer sacrifices – not grain and animal sacrifices, for God has provided the one needed ultimate sacrifice in the death and resurrection of His Son! Here are some Scriptures from the New Testament that tell us of the sacrifices we, as Christians, are to offer:

  • The Jewish scribe spoke the truth in Mark 12:32 and 33:
         ...there is one God, and there is no other but He.  
         And to love Him with all the heart, with all the 
         understanding, with all the soul, and with all the 
         strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, 
         is more than all the whole burnt offerings and 
         sacrifices.
  • Romans 12:1 – “I beseech you therefore…by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
  • The Philippian Christians more than once sent Paul financial and material gifts as he ministered in Greece. In Philippians 4:18 he said this about their latest gift (and we can apply it to our giving):
         Indeed I have all and abound, I am full, having 
         received from Epaphroditus the things which were 
         sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma an accept-
         able sacrifice, well pleasing to God.
  • Hebrews 13:16 – “But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.
  • I Peter 2:5 – “…you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
  • And, of course, there is our featured Scripture of Hebrews 13:15: “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.

So get to it, Christians…continually!

Serving Up Hebrew ‘Let Us’ – VII Hebrews 13:10-14

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

There are two more servings of HebrewLet Us’ in Hebrews 13, and we will treat them separately. The first is in verse 13. But to better understand the meaning, the following passage runs from verse 10 through verse 14:

     We have an altar from which those who serve the taber-
     nacle have no right to eat.  For the bodies of those 
     beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by 
     the high priest for sin, are burned outside the camp.  
     Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the peo-
     ple with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. 
     Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, 
     bearing His reproach.  For here we have no continuing 
     city, but we seek the one to come.

First, we need to understand what the writer of Hebrews is saying in verses 10 and 11.

  • Hebrews 13:10 – “We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat.
     According to the Old Testament law, the priests 
         were given the right to eat part of certain of-
         ferings the Israelites brought to be offered on 
         the brazen altar (see Leviticus 6:14-18; 7:1-6; 
         10:12-15; Numbers 18:10, 11).

     ✞   Our altar is the cross, upon which the ultimate 
         sacrifice of Jesus Christ was offered for our 
         sins!  

In John 6:54 Jesus boldly stated, “Whoever 
              eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eter-
              nal life, and I will raise him up at the 
              last day.”  This is Christ’s metaphor con-
              cerning receiving Him totally into one’s 
              life.  

         ★   No one has a right to ‘eat’ of the Lord Jesus 
              except those whose heart is wide open to Him, 
              accepting Him as their Savior from sin and  
              following Him as Lord over their life!
  • Hebrews 13:11 – “For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned outside the camp.
     ✡   Once a year, on the Day of Atonement, the high 
         priest would enter the Holy of Holies with the 
         blood of a bull first, then of a goat, and he 
         would sprinkle the blood on the mercy seat, the 
         lid of the Ark of the Covenant representing God’s 
         throne (see Leviticus 16:11-19).  This would sym-
         bolically cover the sins of the people.

     Leviticus 16:27 – “The bull...and the goat for 
         the sin offering...shall be carried outside the 
         camp.  And they shall burn...their skins, their 
         flesh, and their offal.

Hebrews 12:12 tells us that the Lord fulfilled the Old Testament prophesy types of the Day of Atonement:Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate [of Jerusalem].

  • We are told in John 19:
     verse 17 – “...He bearing His cross went out 
         to a place...where they crucified Him....Out means ‘outside of the city walls’.

     verse 20 – “...the place where Jesus was cru-
         cified was near [not in] the city....
  • Jesus surely suffered and died!
     ✞   He suffered the horrible pain of crucifixion – 
         both physically (see Psalm 22), psychologically 
         (see Mark 14:34; Luke 12:50), and spiritually 
         (see Matthew 27:46; II Corinthians 5:21).

     ✞   He also experienced great suffering leading up 
         to the crucifixion! 

The constant opposition from Jewish leaders 
              (see Mark 3:6; Luke 6:7).

     The rough handling after Jesus’ arrest (see 
              Matthew 27:2; Luke 23:7, 11).

He suffered abuse at the hands of temple 
              personnel and Romans soldiers (see Isaiah 
              50:6; Matthew 27:27-31).

The scourging ordered by Pontius Pilate and 
              carried out by Roman soldiers (see Matthew 
              27:26; Luke 23:16, 22) had killed men. Jesus 
              barely survived!

     Further mocking by the Roman soldiers fol-
              lowed, including the crown of thorns being 
              forced down upon His head! (see Mark 15:16
              -20).

     ✞   And Jesus did it all for us, that we might have our 
         sins forgiven and become children of the Father!

I realize there are a lot of Scripture passages mentioned in the above section that you could look up. I add those (see …) references concerning Hebrews 12:10 through 12 so you can know from where I glean my Biblical information.

But there is one more verse in our featured Scripture! And it is a very important verse because it tells us what we must do in response to Christ’s sacrifice!

Hebrews 12:13 – “Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach.

  • What was the reproach Jesus bore?
     ✞   He offered Himself as Israel’s Savior and King, as 
         the prophesy of Zechariah 9:9 tells us:

             Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, 
             O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King 
             is coming to you; He is just and having sal-
             vation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, 
             the foal of a donkey. 

     But the Jews rejected Him! We will not have this man 
     to reign over us....We have no king but Caesar.” (Luke 
     19:14; John 19:15).

     ✞   He was condemned to be crucified as an egregious 
         criminal of the lowest status!  Crucifixion, at 
         the time of Jesus, was a Roman method of execu-
         tion, reserved for slaves, disgraced soldiers, 
         foreigners, rarely for Roman citizens.

     God Almighty, God incarnate, allowed Himself to be so 
     mistreated, so violated, and brutally murdered!  What 
     sore reproach He bore for us! 
  • We are told, “…let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach.We are to follow our Lord…
     ...outside the camp.  We might just as well say, 
         “...outside the world!” (See James 4:4; I John 
         2:15-17).  For Jesus said in His High Priestly 
         prayer of John 17, “They are not of the world, 
         just as I am not of the world....You have given 
         Me [these people] out of the world.” (John 17:
         16, 6).

     ...bearing His reproach.  There are two ideas of 
         reproach here:

         ★   The world will reject us!  Jesus said in 
              John 15:18 and 19: 

                 If the world hates you,you know that 
                 it hated Me before it hated you.  If 
                 you were of the world, the world would 
                 love its own.  Yet because you are not 
                 of the world, but I chose you out of 
                 the world, therefore the world hates 
                 you.

              Why?For the wisdom of this world is foolish-
              ness with God....since...the world through wis-
              dom did not know God, it pleased God through the 
              foolishness...of the cross...to save those who 
              believe.” (I Corinthians 3:19; 1:18, 21).

         ★   We are going out to be crucified!  For if we are 
             to go forth to Him, it must be under this condi-
             tion:...whosoever desires to come after Me, 
             let him deny himself, and take up his cross and 
             follow Me.” (Mark 8:34).

         The purpose of the cross is for the one bearing it 
         to be crucified!  That is the only way we can die 
         to self so we can live for God! (See Romans 6:1-14). 
         Jesus showed us how this dying to self is to be ac-
         complished; for in the garden He prayed, “Father, 
         if it is Your will, remove this cup from Me; never-
         theless not My will, but Yours be done.If we dare 
         to pray this prayer in everything,...not my will, 
         but Yours be done...,we will consistently die to 
         self and live for God!

Hebrews 12:13 – “For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come.” We are to be like Abraham in Hebrews 11:10: “…he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.Our true home is in heaven with the Lord! As we are told in Hebrews 12:1 and 2 (the featured Scripture for Serving Up HebrewLet Us– V), “…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith….

  • Keep focused on Him!
  • …let us go forth to Him…,even though it means carrying our own crucifying cross!
  • As Paul wrote in Romans 8:18, “For I consider the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

It is all worth it! Follow Him!

Serving Up Hebrew ‘Let Us’ – VI Hebrews 12:26-29

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

There is one more serving of HebrewLet Us’ in Hebrews 12. It is in verse 28, but I have included the context of verses 26 through 29 to better understand what is being said:

     ...but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I 
     shake not only the earth, but also heaven.” Now this, 
     “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of those things 
     that are being shaken, as of things that are made, 
     that the things which cannot be shaken may remain.  
     Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which 
     cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may 
     serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.  
     For our God is a consuming fire.

What is this shaking all about? The writer of Hebrews is referring to an Old Testament prophesy in Isaiah 34:2 through 4

     For the indignation of the Lord is against all na-
     tions, and His fury against all their armies; He has 
     utterly destroyed them....And the mountains shall be 
     melted with their blood.  All the host of heaven 
     shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled 
     up like a scroll....

Revelation 6:12 through 17 sets the time when this will happen:

     I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, 
     there was a great earthquake; and the sun became 
     black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like 
     blood.  And the stars of heaven fell to the earth.
     ...Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is roll-
     ed up, and every mountain and island was moved out 
     of its place.  And [all people]...hid themselves in 
     the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and 
     said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and 
     hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne 
     and from the wrath of the Lamb!  For the great day 
     of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”    

The sixth seal is one of the 21 judgments poured out upon the earth during the Tribulation period, the last 7 years of earth’s history before Jesus Christ returns in glory asKING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS!” (Revelation 19:16). Just when, during those seven years, this particular seal judgment occurs has been much debated. But this is definitely part of the shaking of both heaven and earth about which the Lord warns us in Hebrews 12! Let’s look more closely at verse 27 of our featured Scripture:

  • How severe is this shaking of heaven and earth? So severe that it indicates …the removal of those things that are being shaken….
  • Just what are the objects of this shaking?…the things that are made….” This refers not to what God has made, but what sinful man has made! For instance in…
     ...Revelation 18 there is the prophetic record of 
         the future destruction of Babylon, the economic, 
         social, and political structure of society!  It 
         all collapses into a useless pile of rubble!

     ...Genesis 11 is another example of sinful human-
         ity’s attempt at building a great work apart from 
         God. The tower of Babel was man’s attempt to reach 
         the level of God!  In the end, the result was an-
         other useless pile of rubble, as well as the con-
         fusion of language leading to the dispersion of 
         mankind across the globe!
  • What is the purpose of this shaking?…that the things which cannot be shaken may remain.If…those things that are being shaken…” are what sinful man has made, then “…those things that…cannot be shaken…are what God has made – His kingdom, His Son, His redeemed people – if they are firmly grounded on Jesus!

Hebrews 12:28 – “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.” If the shaking is not directed at us, why do we need to have grace to serve God acceptably? Why? We will also experience the shaking!

  • The Tribulation is also referred to as Daniel’s seventieth week. It comes from a controversial passage, Daniel 9:24 through 27. The controversy is on the interpretation of verse 27 especially. Premillenial Dispensationalists (of which I am one) believe that Seventy weeks (verse 24) refer to seventy times seven years, or 490 total years (taking into consideration the 360 day lunar year of the Jewish calendar). It is far too complicated of a subject to completely lay out here. Maybe we could in a few future Gems – perhaps a hundred or so!
     Much of this interpretation involves the last seven 
         year period (the seventieth week).  Premillenial 
         Dispensationalists believe it refers to the final 
         seven year period before Christ returns in glory!  
         And most of the book of Revelation covers this per-
         iod, called the Tribulation!

     ✞   The Rapture is referred to in I Thessalonians 4:14 
         through 17 and Revelation 4:1 and 2 (see also II 
         Thessalonians 2:3-8).  This is when the Church 
         (mostly Gentile believers from Pentecost to the 
         Rapture) is taken out of the world, and God again 
         focuses on His covenant Jewish people!

     ✞   This seventieth week of tribulation is a horrendous 
         time of persecution for God’s people!  It is to this 
         time Jesus refers when He said in Matthew 24:21 and 
         22:

             For then there will be great tribulation, 
             such as has not been since the beginning 
             of the world until this time, no, nor ever 
             shall be.  And unless those days were short-
             ened, no flesh would be saved; but for the 
             elect’s sake those days will be shortened.  

So, during the Tribulation, Jewish believers, and those…of all nations, tribes, peoples and tongues…a great multitude…” (Revelation 7:9), won to Christ by Jewish evangelism (see Revelation 7:4-8), will experience great tribulation!

  • That means those of us of the Church Age escape persecution, right? Why, then, do we need grace to serve God acceptably during the shaking if we won’t be here when all is shaken?
     ✞   Because there is preliminary shaking!  Jesus told 
         us in Matthew 24:6 through 8:

              And you will hear of wars and rumors of 
              wars. See that you are not troubled; for 
              all these things must come to pass, but 
              the end is not yet.  For nation will rise 
              against nation, and kingdom against king-
              dom. And there will be famines, pestilen-
              ces, and earthquakes in various places.  
              All these are the beginning of sorrows.
  • It is not like trouble occurs from zero to 90, all at once! There is usually a build up. And we are in that build up!
     Many Christians, like myself, live in the relative 
         peace, safety, and prosperity of the United States 
         of America.  But that does not mean we do not exper-
         ience shaking!  The novel Coronavirus has shaken us! 
         And that on top of many experiencing other crises, 
         sometimes that which intensely shakes us!

     ✞   What about persecution in other countries?  There 
         are places in this old world were people wonder if 
         they are not already in the midst of the Tribulation 
         because their troubles and persecution is so severe!  

             ...according to...The Center for the Study 
             of Global Christianity...a Christian think-
             tank..., 900,000 Christians have been 'mar-
             tyred' in the last decade, equating to 
             90,000 a year and one every six minutes. 
             (Independent, UK publication, article by 
             Peter Walker, January 13, 2017).

So we all need God’s grace! No wonder this HebrewLet Us is directed to us all!

     Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot 
     be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God 
     acceptably with reverence and godly fear.  For our God 
     is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:28, 29).

And that last phrase of verse 29, “For our God is a consuming fire…,” what does that mean? The Lord is nothing to be trifled with! All that He has prophesied will come to pass! So,…let us have grace…!

Serving Up Hebrew ‘Let Us’ – V Hebrews 12:1-2

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

Here, in the first two verses of Hebrews chapter 12, are two more servings of HebrewLet Us:

     Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so 
     great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every 
     weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, 
     and let us run with endurance the race that is set 
     before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and fin-
     isher of our faith, who for the joy that was set 
     before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, 
     and has sat down at the right hand of the throne 
     of God.

These two servings are predicated by what has been written before, especially in chapter 11, commonly known as “the Hall of Faith! The author of Hebrews…

  • …first describes what faith is in verse 1 – “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.Faith makes real what cannot be apprehended by our five physical senses!
  • …then, in verse 6, tells us what faith in action must begin to look like! – “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Starting in verse 4 and 5 and continuing in verse 7 through the end of the chapter are the brief records of Old Testament heros who lived by faith! Nineteen individuals are either named or implied, and in verses 32 through 40, many more unnamed saints are alluded to!

These are the “…great cloud of witnesses…we are surrounded by…! Not that they are sitting in heaven on the edge of clouds, watching our every move. They are not – and that is comforting to me, especially when I mess up! I don’t want my mother watching me when I blow it, and sin against God and/or man! But they are “…a great cloud of witnesses…” in that they have gone on before, and have shown us examples of how children of the Father should be living!

In light of this:

  • …let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily en-snares us….” And, wow! the things of this world can sure weigh us down as we try to live out the Christian life.
     I was called to give morning devotions to the students 
         in a small Christian school.  I told them two students 
         would have a short race (about 25 feet, since it was 
         indoors).  I chose a tall athletic-looking eighth grad-
         er as one contestant.  The other was a fifth grader, 
         much shorter and quite un-athletic. I then asked the 
         other students whom they thought would win.  “The big 
         guy!was the consensus!  So I began the “Ready, Set, 
         Go” only to stop at “Set.”  Then I went to an outside 
         door, opened it, and brought in a full-size cement 
         block!  After handing it to the eighth grader, I asked 
         again whom the other students thought would now win. 
         The consensus sure did change...as did the outcome of 
         the race!  The fifth grader handily won! 

         Of course the point was that which is pointed out in 
         Hebrews 12:1, “...let us lay aside every weight, and 
         the sin which so easily ensnares us....Then...let 
         us run...!

✞   What is the best way to...lay aside every weight, and the 
    sin which so easily ensnares us...?  We often can’t (or in 
    refusing to, won’t) see sin in our lives!  So, turning to 
    Psalm 139:23 and 24, pray these verses sincerely to God:

         Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and 
         know my anxious thoughts; and see if there is any 
         wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlast-
         ing.

    As it says in Proverbs 28:13, “He who covers his sins shall 
    not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will 
    have mercy.

Then you are ready to run the Christian race!

  • …and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us….This is important, because it is not a hundred meter dash. It is more like a marathon, which is 26.2 miles. You have to pace yourself! And what is the best way to pace yourself? I vote for Isaiah 40:28 through 31:
         Have you not known? Have you not heard? The ever-
         lasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of 
         the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His under-  
         standing is unsearchable. He gives power to the 
         weak, and to those who have no might He increases 
         strength.  Even the youths shall faint and be weary, 
         and the young men shall utterly fall,  But those 
         who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; 
         They shall mount up with wings like eagles, they 
         shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and 
         not faint.

Let the Lord God set the pace for your Christian life!

  • There is a thirdLet Ushere in verse 2, but it is implied: “…let us…[be] looking unto Jesus….
     ✞   He is…the author and finisher of our faith….” Or, 
         as He said of Himself in Revelation 1:17, “I am the 
         First and the Last…of everything, including our 
         faith!
     As Jesus said in John 15:5, “...for without 
              Me you can do nothing...of importance to 
              God! 

But the flip side is what Paul wrote in Phi-
              lippians 4:13:  “I can do all things through 
              Christ who strengthens me.✞   Keep your eyes on Him throughout the race!

One more thing to think about from Hebrews 12:2: Jesus…endured the cross, despising the shame…[because of] the joy that was set before Him….” What was that joy that was set before Him? It was you and me, reconciled to God by His sacrifice, and successfully running the race (living out) the Christian life before us!

So in Him, focus, run, and win!

Serving Up Hebrew ‘Let Us’ – IV Hebrews 10:21-25

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

In Hebrews 10:21 through 25, there are three more helpings being served up of HebrewLet Us!

     ...having a High Priest over the house of God, let 
     us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of 
     faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil con-
     science and our bodies washed with pure water.  Let 
     us hold fast the confession of our hope without wa-
     vering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us 
     consider one another in order to stir up love and 
     good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves 
     together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one 
     another, and so much the more as you see the Day ap-   
     proaching.

The first two servings of ‘Let Us’ in verses 22 and 23 are pretty much a reiteration of what we studied in Serving Up HebrewLet Us– II from Hebrews 4:14 through 16:

  • Verse 14 – “…let us hold fast our confession.” And we discussed just what confession we were to hold fast.
  • Verse 16 – “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace…because Jesus has made the way for us!

Now, in chapter 10, there is an expansion of the first Let Us, and a reminder in the second!

  • Hebrews 10:21, 22 – “…having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
     ✞   Yes, we have a High Priest over the house of God!  
         Jesus Christ has gone into the Holy of Holies, not 
         the earthly model, but the original made by God 
         Himself in heaven! (See Hebrews 8:1-5). 

     ✞   Jesus tore...the veil, that is, His flesh...” 
         (Hebrews 10:20), making the way for us to “...
         come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may 
         obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of 
         need.” (Hebrews 4:16 – see Serving Up Hebrew Let Us– II). 

     As the high priest of the Old Testament had to 
         be cleansed by sacrifice before he could enter 
         the Holy of holies on the Day of Atonement (see 
         Leviticus 16:11-14), so are we now cleansed even 
         more thoroughly by the blood of the Lord shed 
         for us!  As it says in our featured Scripture:

Hebrews 10:22 – “...having our hearts sprin-
              kled from an evil conscience and our bodies 
              washed with pure water.We are so clean 
              by the blood of Jesus, the Lamb of God that 
              the Father sees us as if we have no sin at 
              all! (See Isaiah 1:18; Ephesians 5:25-27; 
              Hebrews 10:17).

Hebrews 10:21 – In Christ, we can then enter 
              into God’s presence ...with a true heart in 
              full assurance of faith....

So, …let us draw near…!

  • Hebrews 10:23 – The secondLet Usis as reminder of what has already been said in Hebrews 4:14! (See above). Here is verse 23: “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” Notice, two more things are here added to the statement of Hebrews 4:14 concerning holding …fast our confession…:
     Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without 
         wavering.......the confession of our hope....”  Paul says 
              in I Timothy 1:1, “...the Lord Jesus Christ, 
              our hope....What is hope?  It is much akin 
              to faith!  But faith adds to hope!  For it says 
              in Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the substance 
              of things hoped for, the evidence of things 
              not seen.Hope can be kind of vague.  Faith 
              in what you hope for makes it real and solid!

              For instance, our view of heaven from our per-
              spective upon this earth can be rather hazy.  
              But faith in what the Word of God says about 
              it makes it very real!  I can hope I go to 
              heaven someday, but by faith in the promises 
              of God, I know I will be there!  For,...ab-
              sent from the body [is] to be present with 
              the Lord.” (II Corinthians 5:8).

     ...without wavering....”  How can we be with-
              out wavering in the confession of our hope?  
              By building up our faith!  And how do we do 
              that?  The answer is in Romans 10:17:  “So 
              then faith comes...by the word of God.Get 
              in your Bible – often, regularly, and intense-
              ly!  Your faith will be built up, and you will 
              not be wavering in your confession of hope!
  • Hebrews 10:24, 25 – The thirdLet Us’ of chapter 10 adds a horizontal dimension to our Christian walk!
         And let us consider one another in order to stir up 
         love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of 
         ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but 
         exhorting one another, and so much the more as you 
         see the Day approaching.

    There are a number of Scriptures that remind us that 
         we are not in this Christian life by ourselves! Here 
         are four:

         Romans 12:4, 5 – “...as we have many members 
              in one body...so we, being many, are one body 
              in Christ, and individually members of one 
              another....I Corinthians 10:17 – “...we, being many, are
              ...one body....I Corinthians 12:12 – “...as the body is one 
              and has many members, but all the members of 
              that one body, being many are one body, so 
              also is Christ.Ephesians 4:25 – “...for we are members of one 
              another.According to Ephesians 4:15, we, together, are to ...grow up in all things unto Him who is the head 
         — Christ....”  So...

     ...let us consider one another....”  We are 
              not to pry unnecessarily into another Chris-
              tian’s affairs, but we are to keep an eye on 
              one another concerning the living out of our 
              profession of faith!

     I have missed you in church for the last 
                  two weeks.  Is everything ok?How is your Bible reading coming along?Is there anything I can pray about with 
                  you?

You get the idea!

...let us...stir up love and good works....That can be quite a testimony in this sin dark-
              ened world! (See John 34, 35).  And that’s the 
              goal of keeping a helpful eye on one another!

     ...let us...not [be] forsaking the assembling 
              of ourselves together....Gathering together 
              for worship, instruction, fellowship, mission, 
              etc. is important!  That’s the purpose of the 
              Church, and it cost the Lord His life’s blood 
              to build the Church!

     ...let us...[be] exhorting one another....” 
              “C’mon!  Let’s go!  Let’s do it together!” 
              (See Paul’s example of exhor-tation in Colos-
              sians 1:10).

     Finally, in light of the Lord Jesus’ return, which is
         approaching nearer and nearer with each passing day, 
         we are to continue to do these four things (stared ★ 
         above) “...and so much the more as you see the Day 
         approaching.

Blessed is that servant whom his Master will find so doing when He comes.” (Luke 12:43).

Serving Up Hebrew ‘Let Us’ – III Hebrews 6:1-3

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

The next serving of HebrewLet us’ is found in Hebrews 6. Here are the first three verses:

     Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary 
     principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not 
     laying again the foundation of repentance from dead 
     works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of 
     baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of 
     the dead, and of eternal judgment.  And this we will 
     do if God permits.

…let us go on to perfection….Does this sound like we can reach sinless perfection this side of heaven, as some churches teach? No! For we are told in I John 1:8 (written to believers), “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” However, when we become a Christian we receive a new nature (see II Corinthians 5:17), “…born…of God…born again…” (John 1:12, 13; 3:3). And this new nature cannot sin! (See I John 3:9; 5:18). But, until we get to heaven, we still have our old sinful nature, and that nature can do nothing but sin, nothing but be in rebellion to God! The idea is to learn to let the new godly nature domin-ate, which can be quite a battle! Paul tells us in Galatians 5:17 (Easy-to-Read Version):

     The sinful self wants what is against the Spirit, and 
     the Spirit wants what is against the sinful self. They 
     are always fighting against each other, so that you 
     don't do what you really want to do.  

Paul describes his own battle of the two natures in Romans 7:7 through 25. But as the apostle found through much struggle, he shouts out in I Corinthians 15:57, But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

This is what the writer of Hebrews means when he writes, “…let us go on to perfection….” The Greek word is τελειότης (pronounced tel-i-ot’-ace) and meaning, “…(the state) [of] completeness (mentally or morally).” Strong’s Greek Dictionary. So, we are to go on to how God wants us to be – complete in Christ! When do we arrive in such total completeness? I John 3:2 has the answer:

     Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet 
     been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He 
     [Jesus] is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall 
     see Him as He is. 

When will He be revealed? When He comes again!

  • Acts 1:10, 11 – When Jesus had ascended into heaven, two angels appeared and told the disciples:
         Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into 
         heaven?  This same Jesus, who was taken up from 
         you into heaven, will so come in like manner as 
         you have seen Him go into heaven.
  • Zechariah 14:4 – “And in that day His feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives…,the very place from which He ascended into heaven!
  • Revelation 1:7 – “Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him….” (See Revelation 19:11-16 for a description of His glorious coming).

What will Jesus be like when He returns to earth? We don’t know exactly, because it is as it says in I John 3:2 above, “…it has not yet been revealed what we shall be….” But some things we do know:

  • In His resurrection body, Jesus was perfect, no longer subject to…
     ✞   ...the horrible beatings He took!

We are told in Isaiah 52:14 (Easy-to-Read Version),
              “It is true that many were shocked when they saw 
              him. He was beaten so badly that he no longer 
              looked like a man.But when He appeared to His disciples in the upper 
              room after His resurrection, He looked whole and 
              completely well – so much so they thought Him to 
              be a ghost! (See Luke 24:37).  However, He still 
              carried the scars of the crucifixion nails and 
              spearing (see John 20:27).

     ✞   ...death!Knowing that Christ, having been raised from
         the dead, dies no more.  Death no longer has dominion 
         over Him.” (Romans 6:9).

     ✞   ...the limitations of earthly physical life!

         ★   Jesus could appear (see Luke 24:36; John 20:19) 
              and disappear (see Luke 24:31) at will!

         ★   Gravity seems to have lost its hold on Him! (See 
              Luke 24:51; Acts 1:9).
  • In His glorified body, Jesus’ appearance was almost beyond description! (See Revelation 1:12-16).
  • He was sinless in His earthly human life (see I Peter 2:22), and certainly He will remain sinless in His eternal state!

And…we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” (I John 3:2).

In the meantime, God intends for us to grow more and more to be like Jesus Christ!

  • Matthew 10:25 – “It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master.
  • Romans 8:29 – “Whom He [God the Father] foreknew, He also predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son….
  • II Corinthians 3:18 – “But we all…beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into that same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
  • Ephesians 4:14, 15 – “…that we….speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the Head — Christ….

This is the perfection, the completeness toward which we are to move! But, like the believers to whom the letter of Hebrews was written, too many of today’s Christians remain babes in Christ, still having to be bottle fed (see Hebrews 5:11-14), and not desiring to grow up into Him!

Now I will draw attention to something that has always baffled and bothered me. And it is mentioned in our featured Scripture of Hebrews 6:1 through 3. There are basic doctrines which we are supposed to have mastered early on in our Christian experience:

     ...let us...not lay...again the foundation of repentance 
     from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine 
     of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of 
     the dead, and of eternal judgment. 

There are six foundational doctrines mentioned:

  • …repentance from dead works….” Ephesians 2:8 through 10:
     For by grace you have been saved through faith, and 
     that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not 
     of works, lest anyone should boast.  For we are His 
     workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, 
     which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in 
     them. (see also II Timothy 1:9; Titus 3:5).
  • …faith toward God….” John 6:29: “Jesus answered and said to them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.” (see also Acts 16:30, 31; Romans 4:5; Galatians 2:16; Hebrews 11:1, 6;).

It is the next two which baffle and bother me!

  • …the doctrine of baptisms….” I know Jesus told His followers in Matthew 28:19 to “Go…and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit….But in Hebrews 6:2 it says we should have mastered…the doctrine of baptisms…,PLURAL!! How many baptisms are there? There is water baptism, the baptism of fire, the baptism of the Holy Spirit…. Are there more? Christians have been arguing about this basicdoctrine for centuries! I am still trying to fully discern this elementary principle…of Christ!
  • ….laying on of hands….” – I understand that the laying on of hands was practiced in Bible times for…
     ...ordination into an office of service (see Numbers 
         8:9-11; Deuteronomy 34:9; Acts 13:3; I Timothy 4:14).

     ...imparting Spiritual gifts (see I Timothy 4:14; 
         II Timothy 1:6).

     ...blessing (see Matthew 19:13-15).

     ...healing (see Mark 5:23; 6:5; 16:18; Luke 13:13; 
         Acts 9:17; 28:8; James 5:14).

     ...impartation of the Holy Spirit (see Acts 8:17; 
         9:17; 19:6).

While some churches and denominations practice laying on of hands for various occasions such as ordination, why isn’t it more widely practiced today for other reasons? For instance, many mainline churches do not practice anointing with oil for healing, as we are instructed to do in James 5:14 through 16.

  • …resurrection of the dead….How many resurrections are there? From my perspective (pre-tribulation rapture, pre-millennial return of Christ), I count four major resurrections:
     ✞   The resurrection of Jesus Christ – the basis for 
         all other resurrections! (See I Corinthians 15:20).

     ✞   The resurrection of believers at the Rapture! (See 
         I Thessalonians 4:14-17).

     ✞   The resurrection of unbelievers to face judgment at 
         the Great White Throne! (See Revelation 20:10-15).

     There seems to be a fourth resurrection at the end 
         of the Tribulation of those who died for their faith 
         during that terrible time of the antichrist’s perse-
         cution (see Revelation 6:9-11).  It may be that Old 
         Testament saints are raised from the dead at this 
         time.

There are also what could be called ‘minor resurrections’ where Elijah, Elisha, Jesus, Peter, and Paul raised individuals from the dead. There is also the puzzling Scripture of Matthew 27:52 and 53 when at the death of the Lord on the cross, “…and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints…were raised; and coming out of the graves after the resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.

  • …eternal judgment….” (See Mark 9:43-48; Luke 13:28; Revelation 14:9-11; 20:10-15).

I believe all of us need to not only…go on to perfection…,but we must also work on mastering the basics! So, Let Us…!