Hebrews 13: Theology Leading to Love

On Sunday, Dan Doriani will finish his sermons on Hebrews with love.  In its final chapter, the soaring theology of the book of Hebrews descends to the daily realities of demonstrating the love of Christ to leaders and other brothers and sisters in the church, to husbands and wives, to strangers, and to those mistreated and in prison (Heb 13:1-7).  Hebrews has given us a breath-taking view of the supremacy and beauty of Jesus Christ as the divine Son who is the fullness of God’s glory, our great high priest and atoning sacrifice, our prophet and teacher, our song leader and intercessor, and our champion reigning victoriously over the enemies of sin, death, and Satan.  The final chapter of Hebrews shows us that the reason that God painted this exalted portrait of the Lord Jesus for us is to lead us to love.  In Hebrews, the ultimate purpose of knowing theology about Jesus is loving Jesus and his people.  Indeed, showing Christ-like love in our relationships is a supremely important test of the reality of our faith because there is a direct connection between our belief and our behavior.  If we truly trust that Jesus is the divine Son who became man to identify with us and serve our need, then we will naturally learn to identify with and serve others who are in need.  If we truly trust that we have forgiveness of our sins in Christ because he is our merciful high priest and sacrifice, then we will be able to extend forgiveness to others who sin against us.  If we truly trust that Jesus is a mighty champion, we will find courage and strength in him to persevere in love when relationships are very difficult.

Advertisements

Sermon reflection: How do we know if God is disciplining us? (Hebrews 12:5-13)

On January 13, the sermon by Dan Doriani in the morning services at Central Presbyterian Church focused on Hebrews 12:5-13, which addresses the Lord’s loving discipline of his children.  A major lesson from that biblical text and sermon is that God allows some hardship in our lives in order to refine us and strengthen us, just as a good physical trainer and a good parent challenge us to help us grow and mature.

However, as Dan said, not all suffering and hardship are expressions of the Lord’s discipline to correct and challenge some weakness or sin in us.  The whole book of Job and Jesus’ encounter with the man born blind in John 9 are only two of many examples of suffering in the Bible that have no direct connection to anything done by the individuals who suffered.  Some hardship is inflicted upon us by the weakness and sin of others for reasons that may be completely unknown and unknowable by us.

These observations, of course, raise an obvious and most practical and existentially pressing question: How do I know if some specific hardship is the Lord’s discipline for my own weakness or sin?  Biblical scholar Donald Carson has a wise set of reflections on this issue in the following article on The Gospel Coalition blog:  How Do We Know if God Is Disciplining Us?

The Lord’s Day/Sunday as Sabbath (Part 5): Sabbath and Mercy

This is a series of blog posts by pastor Andrew Vander Maas from Crossroads Presbyterian Fellowship in St. Louis.  These posts were first written a few years ago on a blog that no longer exists, and we are resurrecting them at Worship Is Central.

To see the whole series, click on the Lord’s Day category link on the sidebar on this page, which is found here.  For more resources on the Lord’s Day (Sunday), see the Lord’s Day page at Worship Is Central.

Isaiah 58:6 “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?  Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?  Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, …

Continue reading

The Lord’s Day/Sunday as Sabbath (Part 4): Sabbath and Community

This is a series of blog posts by pastor Andrew Vander Maas from Crossroads Presbyterian Fellowship in St. Louis.  These posts were first written a few years ago on a blog that no longer exists, and we are resurrecting them at Worship Is Central.

To see the whole series, click on the Lord’s Day category link on the sidebar on this page, which is found here.  For more resources on the Lord’s Day (Sunday), see the Lord’s Day page at Worship Is Central.

Acts 2:42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.  43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common.  45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.  46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Continue reading

The Lord’s Day/Sunday as Sabbath (Part 3): A Day of Rest

This is a series of blog posts by pastor Andrew Vander Maas from Crossroads Presbyterian Fellowship in St. Louis.  These posts were first written a few years ago on a blog that no longer exists, and we are resurrecting them at Worship Is Central.

To see the whole series, click on the Lord’s Day category link on the sidebar on this page, which is found here.  For more resources on the Lord’s Day (Sunday), see the Lord’s Day page at Worship Is Central.

Genesis 2:1  Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.  2 And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.  3 So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.

Continue reading

The Lord’s Day/Sunday as Sabbath (Part 2): Sabbath as Rhythm

This is a series of blog posts by pastor Andrew Vander Maas from Crossroads Presbyterian Fellowship in St. Louis.  These posts were first written a few years ago on a blog that no longer exists, and we are resurrecting them at Worship Is Central.

To see the whole series, click on the Lord’s Day category link on the sidebar on this page, which is found here.  For more resources on the Lord’s Day (Sunday), see the Lord’s Day page at Worship Is Central.

“Come on and get a rhythm  …” sings Johnny Cash.  In many ways rhythm is one of the first things that we are to notice about the Sabbath and the way that it operates in our lives … it provides structure to our week, our months, our years.  In the opening salvo’s of Genesis we see the idea of rhythm emerging rather clearly.  God worked six days and he rested one day – a rhythm established.   There was morning and evening, a day, another Rhythm.  And on it goes (night/day, lunar cycles, seasons, etc…)

Continue reading

The Lord’s Day/Sunday as Sabbath (Part 1)

This is a series of blog posts by pastor Andrew Vander Maas from Crossroads Presbyterian Fellowship in St. Louis.  These posts were first written a few years ago on a blog that no longer exists, and we are resurrecting them at Worship Is Central.

To see the whole series, click on the Lord’s Day category link on the sidebar on this page, which is found here.  For more resources on the Lord’s Day (Sunday), see the Lord’s Day page at Worship Is Central.

I have been thinking a lot lately about The Sabbath, the idea of sabbath, limits, rest, etc.  I feel like I am beginning to piece some things together for my own life (though I still have a ways to go), and I am realizing that I/we have to do some work piecing things together for the church as a whole.  So I offer these reflections as a means of conversation, or at the very least a precursor to conversation.

Continue reading