ďThe Christmas Cure, part 2Ē†††††††††† †††††††††††††††††††††††††††December 9, 2012

Hebrews 1:4-14

 

Over the four Sundays of Advent we are looking at Hebrews, chaps 1 and 2.

†† This is one of the great incarnation statements in the New Testament.

Perfect for Christmas because it presents us with Jesus Christ in all his gloryó

†† and compels us to look at him and worship him.

Before we read this, letís pray again that the Holy Spirit will open our hearts

†† to Son of God as he is presented to us in these Scriptures.

 

INTRO:A few years ago I read an article about the French view of infidelity

†† in marriage.Iím sure it by no means represented the views of all Frenchmen.

But it did claim to represent a way that a many French couples approach

†† marriage.Affairs are to be expected.Shouldnít negatively affect the marriage.

There was a quote from a prominent French psychologistóa woman.

†† ďFrench men donít have mistresses because they no longer love their wivesóon the contrary,

†† they simply need breathing room.For such men, who are in fact profoundly monogamous,

†† infidelity is almost unavoidable . . . it is essential to the psychic functioning of certain men

†† who are still very much in love, (and) it can be very liberating for women.Ē

 

I love you.I need you.Iím committed to you.

†† Being married to you is a good thing. I donít want to live without you.

†† But I need to supplement you with other lovers for my psychic functioning.

Thatís not just wrong and stupid, it shows a fundamental misunderstanding of

†† the heart of marriageómarriage is a relationship of exclusive, jealous affection.

†† Love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave.Song 8:6

 

Itís easy to demolish this amoral view of marriage.

But as Christians, we often treat our faith in Christ the very same way.

We often supplement Jesus with other saviors.

†† Imagine it wonít negatively affect our Christian walk.But Hebrews says it will.

 

Hebrews was written for a congregation of Jewish followers of Jesus Christ.

†† We donít know much about them, but we do gather from details

†† that these believers had once stood at the height of Christian maturity.

They endured persecution and loss.They gladly suffered and supported each other.

†† But over time, they began to develop a dangerous spiritual condition.

†† Described in various waysódrifting, dulling, hardening.

In chapter 10 itís described as throwing away their confidence in Christ.

Danger of falling from heights of confidence and joy faith once gave you.

The way the writer of Hebrews tries to rescue them from this dangerous spiritual

†† condition and the erosion of their faith is by showing them Jesus Christ.

He says it over and over.Look at Jesus in all his glory.Heís great.

Heís wonderful.Heís all you need.Gaze on him.Bask in his warmth.

And here in the passage weíve read, 1:4-14, he compares and contrasts

†† Jesus with the angels.He presents Scripture after Scripture, verse after verse

†† from the Old Testament to prove that Jesus is better than the angels.

 

Why angels?What do angels have to do with anything?

In the first century, there were some Jews who were very interested in angels.

†† More than interested in them, they put their hope in angels.

†† As they focused on angels, it gave them a sense of peace, security, acceptance.

I wonít go into the historical and religious reasons for this trust in angels

†† among some first-century Jews.Hereís what you need to know.

 

These Jewish believers, in their spiritual slump, were supplementing their faith

†† in Jesus with faith in angels.Their confidence in Christ was slipping,

†† and they were filling in the gap in their faith with the contemplation of angels.

So the writer of Hebrews says:Donít do it.

Donít demote Jesus by supplementing him with someone or something elseó

†† no matter how great that other thing or person might be.

Donít throw away your confidence in Christ and place that confidence in angels.

†† Because Jesus Christ is greater than the angels in every way.

†† And youíre going to miss out on the blessings of an exclusive trust in him.

 

Trusting angels isnít our temptation.We choose other created things.

†† And we put our hopes and our confidence in those created things

†† and then we trust them to give us what Jesus alone can give.

We still say we love Jesus and are trusting him for salvationó

†† but we rely on these other thing to get us through the rough spots of life.

 

You still believe, you still know you need Jesus for the big thingsó

†† but these other things are your angels, your supplemental lovers.

The fact is that your faith is being harmed.

†† Your marriage covenant with Christ is suffering.

And these other things cannot deliver the help they promise for the long-term.

†† You will suffer break-down, the wheels will come off at some point.

 

But in these verses, the writer of Hebrews doesnít focus on the negative.

Itís all positive.He says.Christians, look at Jesus again.

†† See how much greater and better he is than the angels.Thatís the cure.

Look at the person and work of Christ and the tremendous blessings

†† that come through him alone.Itís only by gazing on him, that your

†† unhealthy, destructive attachments to the idols of this world are loosened.

And ultimately, through Christ, these things will serve you rather than enslave you.

 

Letís look at this passage under two points.

 

1.Christ is superior to the angels, they exist to serve him.

2.If you are trusting Christ alone, the angels will serve you too.


 

MP#1Christ is superior to the angels, they exist to serve him.

Iím going to cram almost the whole passage unto this first point, vs. 4-13.

†† And then, Iím going to devote the second point of sermon to last verse, 14

 

But, before we hit verses 4-13, let me remind that Hebrews is a sermon.

†† Itís a written sermon.Perhaps a transcribed sermon.

†† Itís not a letter.Itís completely different form than the epistles, like Romans.

And as a preacher myself, itís fascinating to look, not just at the message,

†† but at the way this preacher organized the sermon itself.His sermonic devices.

How he said what he had to say to maximize the impact.

 

So let me tell you his preacher trick in these verses.

†† He is going to overwhelm you with evidence.

†† He presents five points to prove that Christ is superior to angels.

There is no logical progression in these five points.

†† He presents one, before you can think through it completely, hits with another.

†† And the growing weight of each point to builds and builds until the superiority

†† of Jesus Christ is evident.

Weíre going to cover all five, but Iím going to spend more time on first, skim rest.

 

1.Jesus is the Son of God.Verse 4-5

So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.For to which of the angels did God ever say, ďYou are my Son; today I have become your FatherĒ? Or again, ďI will be his Father, and he will be my SonĒ?

 

What does it mean that Christ has inherited the name Son?

Hasnít he always been the Son of God?

†† Yes, the Second Person of the Trinity is the Son of God from all eternity.

†† There is not time he was not the Son.

But there was also a time in history when he became the Son and inherited

†† the name Son.That was when he took on human nature to carry out Godís

†† salvation plan.This is a statement about Christmas, about the incarnation.

 

And even more to the point, told three times in the New Testament that Christ is

†† declared to be the Son of God and begotten of God in his Resurrection.

The Resurrection marks the completion of the work the Father sent him to do.

†† Christ became the Son in accomplishing our salvation.

†† The angels didnít accomplish Godís salvation plan.

†† They were present at Christís birth, in his life, helped him.Not called sons.

Whatís the application to your life?.

Donít you want, more than anything, the blessing and smile of heavenly Father?

†† In the hard times of life, and in times of desperation, you cry out to God in prayer

†† and you hope that he looks on you has his child and gives you good things.

That connection to God as your Father only comes through the Son Jesus.

†† You receive the blessings of sonship through faith in Christ alone.

So why do you try to get blessings from created things that God alone can give?

†† Why do you trust money and possessions for security or sense of worth?

Jesus is better.He has a superior name.Heís the Son of God.

 

When I was a freshman in college I went to Pennsylvania with a friend of mine

†† for fall break.His father was a Penn State grad and we drove to State College.

It was a football Saturday and youíll never guess the visiting teamóAlabama.

†† I really wanted to go to the game, but I didnít think it was possible.

†† But this is what happened.My friend told his dad I wanted to go.

His dad said to me:I really want to hang out in my fraternity house and watch

†† the game with my old college buddies.Please take my ticket and enjoy yourself.

†† I had a great seat in the Penn State alumni section.

If I had tried to buy that ticket from him, he wouldnít have sold it to me.

†† The father treated like a son because I knew and loved his son.

 

Listen to these beautiful words from a commentary on Hebrews:

ďAll sonship before God is concentrated in the Person of Christ, and Christian believers are

†† designated sons only by virtue of the fact that they are incorporated into Christ and made one

†† with Him; that is, the Son is uniquely related to the Heavenly Father.So if we want to

†† participate in the blessings of Sonship, we must be related to the Son by faith.

Why waste your spiritual energy looking for blessings in anything besides Jesus?

 

This is what you have to do with this chapter.Take these statements about the

†† greatness of Christ, think about them.Work out in life so trust him more.

†† Use them to crush your idols so that you see worthless.

 

Unfortunately, can barely skim the last four.

2.Jesus is Godís firstborn.vs. 6

†† And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says,

ďLet all God's angels worship him.Ē

The term ďfirstbornĒ does not always mean born first.

†† It is frequently used in Scripture as a way of describing someone who occupies

†† the rank and privilege of the firstborn.The firstborn is the chosen one.

The nation of Israel is called Godís firstborn son even though Israel is not

†† the first nation or the oldest nation.But it is the nation chosen for by God.

David is called Godís firstborn, even though he was the youngest of eight.

†† He was chosen as Israelís king and given honor of founding kingly line of Christ.

And Christ is called Godís firstborn.

 

Reference to bringing him into the world is Christmas and incarnation again.

At his birth, at his coming into the world to carry out salvation planó

†† God called all his angels to worship him.This is my firstborn.Chosen one.

†† One who will inherit the kingdom and authority.

The angels sang:Glory to God in the highest.

 

This is not new information, you know the Christmas story.

But writer of Hebrews is trying to get you to look at it in a fresh way.

†† If God the Father thinks this highly of Christ, his firstborn.

†† Worthy of the worship of angels, isnít it foolish to value your idols more?

†† What are you thinking when you trust and worship created things?

Jesus is better.Even the angels worship him.

 

3.Jesus is God himself.vs. 7-9

†† In speaking of the angels he says, ďHe makes his angels winds, his servants flames of fire.Ē

†† But about the Son he says, ďYour throne, O God, will last for ever and ever, and righteousness

†† will be the scepter of your kingdom . . .Ē

This is a profoundly clear statement of the deity of Christ.

†† Heís God.He has a throne.He reigns forever.He loves righteousness.

And what are angels?They are his servants.

†† He makes them like winds and flames of fire to do his bidding.

†† Itís unthinkable to try to put anything else on the throne of your life.

 

4.Jesus is the eternal creator.

†† He also says, ďIn the beginning, O Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens

†† are the work of your hands.They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a

†† garment.You will roll them up like a robe; like a garment they will be changed. But you

†† remain the same, and your years will never end.Ē

Most striking thing here is the contrast between the Creator and created things.

†† The Creator is eternal.He remains the same.His year never end.

†† Created things are temporal, the perish, they wear out, they are changed.

Think of clothing have in closet or drawers that you never wear.

Probably not so much that have worn out, lost their appeal, style, donít fit.

†† What a perfect illustration of the things that we turn to instead of Christ.

The emptiness of those things and experiences that we thought couldnít live

†† without.The disappointment and spiritual and emotional exhaustion of sin.

†† Here is Christ.Unchanging, same yesterday, today, forever.

 

5.Jesus is the sovereign king.vs. 13

To which of the angels did God ever say, ďSit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet?Ē

This is from Psalm 110, the most quoted Psalm in the New Testament.

†† It refers to the reign of Christ after he sat down at Godís right hand.

Powerful reminder that Christ is ruling over all things for the good of people.

†† He protects me so well that not a hair can fall from my head apart from

†† the will of my father in heaven.

Why trust anything else?Even the angels, great as they are canít compare

 

And if you do regard Jesus in this way.

See him as better than everything else, there is a wonderful result.

†† Brings to second point.

 


 

MP#2If you are trusting Christ alone, the angels will serve you too.

vs. 14Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?

 

Hereís the point, if you trust created things, if you put your hopes in them

†† to give you the blessings that God alone can give, they will disappoint you

†† and enslave you.

Created things arenít intended to bear the weight of your hope and trust.

†† Even angels canít deliver those things for you.One of greatest created things.

 

But if you trust Christ, then created things will serve you.

†† Your psychic function wonít depend on them.

You wonít be overjoyed when you have them or over sorrowful if you donít.

And you will be able to use and enjoy them rightly.

 

Let me tell you a story that Iíve told before, but itís a good illustration

†† of this, and then letís think about it more deeply and apply to ourselves.

Iíve told you many times about the man in my first church named Al Rodenhouse.

†† Al was a retiree from Michigan.Fascinating man.He was a millionaire with an

†† 8th grade education.Everything he touched turned to gold.

†† He was also one of the most Christ-centered people Iíve ever known.

 

Once we were talking and the topic turned to cars and he began to tell me how

†† much he loved Model A Fords.They were a great interest of his.

Then began to tell about the Model A Ford collection he once had.

†† All of these flawlessly restored automobiles that he had owned.

As only a collector can do, he began to describe design changes this and that year,

†† and the value and desirability of each.1930, year added the flux converter.

 

Asked him what happened to his collection.Why he no longer had it.

†† He said that he was approached by some people who wanted to start a Christian

†† radio ministry of some kind.Needed start-up money.

So he gave them his collection.Told to sell to start ministry.

†† He said, I still love Model A Fords, but the Lord needed my collection.

 

Consider for a moment the powerful grip material possessions, particularly

†† collections can have on a personís soul.

Tim Keller says in his book Counterfeit Gods that there are four deep motivational

†† drives of the human heart: Control, Comfort, Power, and Approval

You look for created things to fulfill your particular motivational drive.

If your primary drive is control then what you want above anything else in life is

†† certainty, security, standards, and order.Thatís your key to happiness.

Worry is the problem emotion for people who worship control.

†† Worry that things arenít right, worry that things are out of order,

†† that bad things are going to happen.

And for some people, a collection provides a way to get control.

†† The rest of my life might be a wreck, but here in my collection I can

†† arrange and admire in its perfection.

 

If your primary drive is comfort then you are looking for ease and pleasure.

†† A life free of stress.For some people that means privacy, freedom.

The person who worships comfort wants to avoid stress and demands at all cost.

†† Boredom and discontent are often problem emotions.

A collection of things can be a source of comfort.Relief from boredom.

†† If valuable, a sense of security that always have value.

 

If your primary drive is power, then you want success, winning, moving up ladder,

†† being top dog.The greatest fear for a person who worships power is failure and

†† humiliation and anger is often their problem emotion.

Can easily see how for some people, collection fulfills this need for power,

†† for winning.Look what I got.I beat out all the other collectors.

Itís not about enjoying the objects in collection themselves, itís about winning.

 

If your primary drive is approval, then you are looking for affirmation, praise,

†† a sense of worth.Approval worshippers dread rejection.

Once again, looking at this particular example.

†† Easy to see how a collection would be a way to gain the approval of a certain

†† group of people.You are admired by the Model A Ford crowd.

 

These things that we look for to give us control, comfort, power and approval

†† are not necessarily bad things in themselves.

Sometimes they are.

†† You might turn to destructive, shameful things to help you cope with life.

Drug and alcohol abuse, pornography, sexual immorality, compulsive spending,

†† overeating, brawling, fits of rage.

 

But more often, these things we worship are respectable and even good.

Work, business, money, possessions, education, reputation, success, good kids,

†† exercise, physical health and beauty.

Nothing wrong with any of those things.Nothing wrong with angels.

But when you trust them to give you the things that you should be trusting God for,

†† your faith is undermined.When you look to them for the confidence, security,

†† comfort, and acceptancethat you need to cope with life, they take Christís place.

These very respectable things become your angels, your supplemental lovers.

†† And eventually they enslave you.

 

Listen to Tim Keller:

†† ďPhysical beauty is a pleasant thing, but if you make it the most important thing in a personís life or a cultureís life, then you have Aphrodite, the beauty idol.And you have people, and an entire culture, constantly agonizing over appearance, spending inordinate amounts of time and money on it, and foolishly evaluating character on the basis of it.We may not physically kneel before the statue of Aphrodite, but many young women today are driven into depression and eating disorders by an obsessive concern over their body image.If anything becomes more fundamental than God to your happiness, meaning in life, and identity, then it is an idol.Ē

 

But hereís my point with the Al storyóIím sure you see it already.

Because he trusted Christ alone, because Jesus Christ was glorious to him,

†† better to him than the most perfect, desirable Model A Ford,

†† he was not enslaved by his collection, instead, it served him.

And when the time came, he said to it, Go.Serve my Lord Jesus,

†† advance his kingdom.And it was a beautiful thing.

 

Wouldnít you like that for yourself?

For every created thing to serve you.

†† To have the incredible freedom to use and enjoy things rightlyó

†† but then to give them up, give them away, even lose them and not fall to pieces.

Well you can.You get there by gazing on Jesus Christ until you see that he

†† is better than everything else.

 

St. Augustine:

He values not Christ at all who does not value Christ above all.

†† How true that is.

Christ deserves nothing less from you than your exclusive trust and affection.

†† And how foolish you are to turn to anything besides him for help in life.

 

May this Christmas season be one for all of us in which Jesus Christ

†† shines as the best and only hope of our lives.