Union Life in the Epistle to the Hebrews (Hebrews Part II)

The dynamic, “vital” aspect of salvation (in contrast to the legal, objective – justification) is admittedly the more neglected, ignored part of our “so great salvation” (2:3), namely SANCTIFICATION.  And Paul states plainly that Christ (and Christ alone) is our sanctification, “holiness”, “redemption”.  (I Cor 1:30)  “Work out your salvation….for it is God who is at work within you, both to will and to do.”  The dominant theme of Hebrews is “more, better, let us go on”  to that higher understanding.

The “new covenant” to which Hebrews refers repeatedly, is more than just the full-fill-ment of the Old, a reality of which the Old was a picture.  The New is to the Old as a butterfly is to a caterpillar.  In the Old there was no admittance to the heart of the tabernacle/temple, the ark of the covenant, the Mercy Seat, the “throne” of God.  But at Christ’s death (which initiated the New and the Old was “finished”) the door, the heavy curtain closing the entrance to the Most Holy Place, was shredded.  Therefore, says Hebrews, “let us approach the throne of grace boldly.”  This is the climax, the acme of God’s creation desire for man, namely, intimate fellowship, to an “in” degree, rather than “with” or “upon”, as in isolated instances in the Old Testament, where God came upon certain individuals or places in “spirit”.  “Christ went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle”, not to come back out again, a la the Old Testament high priest, than whom (again) Christ was far better, unique.  Note as well that in Hebs 9:3 the golden altar of incense (at which “ordinary” Zachariah officiated) is said to be inside the Holy of Holies, while in the Old Testament it is specifically outside, in front of that forbidding curtain.  Reflect what this means as to the efficacy of New Testament prayers (as described in Jesus’ farewell discourse, “in Him”, a phrase repeated seven times) versus those of even the most devout in the Old.  Rms 8:26 – “WE (in ourselves) do not know what/how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit (of Christ) himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.”

Hebrews is the only Bible book, besides I Thes 5:23, with a proof text for trichotomy (see 4:12), a doctrine (that human beings consist of body, soul – psych – , and spirit) which is basic to Union Life.  “He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit.”

What we customarily regard as the “fundamentals” of the faith – repentance, faith, instruction for baptism, resurrection, eternal judgment, the “word of God”, the Holy Spirit – are regarded in Hebs 5:11-6:6 as “elementary”, not to be repeated, but to be built upon. (6:4-6)

Christ’s inseparable identification with us – see 2:10-18 – has the practical application that as Christ fulfilled the glorious words of Psalm 8, so has that promise been fulfilled by him for us.  Ephesians makes it more specific by saying we now reign with him. Paul says when Christ rose, we rose, etc.

Hebrews 3 is not content to say that Christ is greater than Moses, but that God is the builder of his house, Christ is the builder’s son.  Moses was a servant in the house, and WE are the house itself.  This picture is repeated in I Peter and Revelation where Christ is called the corner-stone, and we the lively stones (in a class with “precious” ones) built upon him.

The idea of God’s “rest” being a here-and-now attainability (not held in escrow until the hereafter) is made crystal clear in Hebrews (see I Cor 10 as well) in which it is said that God was not pleased with the Israelites “spinning their wheels” in the desert sand for  40 years, though that static condition is often regarded as a parable of our “normal” life upon earth.  The Red Sea experience of death to the “old” life had to be repeated in the Jordan River by the new generation, thereby enabling them to enter the Promised Land (which had foes enough, but guaranteed victory, security, prosperity, possession.)

Hebrews 12:10 says that “we may share in God’s holiness” – not that of angels, or Paradise “earned”.  See also I John and his equating of Christ’s righteousness with that of ours. God’s very “will” – what gives him personality identity, power, “good pleasure”, choice – is engraved into our very hearts, as Old Testament prophet Jeremiah predicted of the “New Covenant”.  (8:10; 9:16)  We become possessors of Christ’s “mind”.  (Cf. I Cor 1:30, 2:16, 3:23)


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