Friday, June 11, 2021

The Christian Atheist - Session 2 - When You Believe In God But Don't Really Know Him_CC




The Christ Church Wednesday Bible Study Group is going through the book The Christian Atheist by Craig Groeschel.  A Christian Atheist is someone who believes in God but lives as if He doesn't exist.  If you are courageous enough to admit that sometimes you act like a Christian Atheist along with us we can shed some of our hypocrisy and live a life that truly brings glory to Christ.  


A Christian Atheist might sound like someone who’s got a faith problem or perhaps at least a spiritual confusion issue. But the core problem for the Christian Atheist Isn't belief; it’s intimacy. The Christian Atheist doesn’t really know God very well.


These are the notes to Session 2.


To hear the audio of the study group session, click on the YouTube Thumbnail 


To get your copy of the book click this LINK or the image of the book at the end of my notes for the study.

  

We ended last week by saying knowing God requires that we obey His commandments.  


  • Level 1: I believe in God, but I don’t know him

  • Level 2: I believe in God, but I don’t know him well.

  • Level 3: I believe in God, know him intimately, and serve him wholeheartedly.


Obedience Unlocks God’s Power

By Rick Warren


“Let the Spirit change your way of thinking.” Ephesians 4:23 (CEV)


Over and over again, the Bible illustrates this important truth: The Holy Spirit releases his power the moment you take a step of faith.


When Joshua faced a seemingly impassible barrier, the floodwaters of the Jordan River receded—but only after the leaders stepped into the rushing current in obedience and faith. Obedience unlocks God’s power.


In these situations, God’s power follows your action. But you don’t have to wait until you feel powerful or confident. Just move ahead in your weakness; do the right thing, despite your fears and feelings. This is how you cooperate with the Holy Spirit; it’s how your character develops and how you grow spiritually.


The Bible compares spiritual growth to a seed, a building, and a child growing up. Each metaphor requires active participation: Seeds must be planted and cultivated, buildings must be built—they don’t just appear—and children must eat and exercise to grow.


Effort has nothing to do with your salvation—but effort is essential to your spiritual growth. At least seven times the New Testament tells you to “make every effort” in your growth toward becoming like Jesus.  I want to look at four.


Luke 13:24‭-‬25 NIV “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’ “But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’


Romans 14:19‭-‬21 NIV Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.


Ephesians 4:3‭-‬6 NIV Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.


2 Peter 3:14 NIV So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.


You can’t just sit around and wait for it to happen. You need to act.


Paul explains in Ephesians 4 your three responsibilities in becoming like Christ.


First, choose to let go of old ways of acting.


Ephesians 4:22 NIV You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;


Your new life is based on God’s truth and living according to his Word. That means there may be some behaviors you need to change in your life.


Second, change the way you think.


Ephesians 4:23 NIV to be made new in the attitude of your minds;


The Bible says at


Romans 12:2 NIV Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.


The Greek word for “transformed” is metamorphosis. It’s used today to describe the amazing change a caterpillar goes through in becoming a butterfly. It is a beautiful picture of what happens spiritually when you allow God to direct your thoughts. You’re changed from the inside out. You become more beautiful, and you’re set free to soar to new heights.


Third, put on the character of Christ by developing new, godly habits. Your character is essentially the sum of your habits; it’s how you habitually act. The Bible says,


Ephesians 4:24 NIV and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

 

Don’t just sit around and wait for spiritual growth to happen—it never will on its own. Instead, be obedient so that you can unlock God’s power in your life!



When You Believe In God But Don't Really Know Him


I hope that you have at least read the Introduction and chapter one. “When You  Believe In God  But Don't Really Know Him”


Let’s first go back and look at some terms:


THEISM belief in the existence of God


ATHEISM disbelief in the existence of God


PRACTICAL ATHEISM acting with apathy, disregard, or lack of interest toward belief in God 


CHRISTIAN  one who professes belief in the teachings of Christ 


CHRISTIAN ATHEISM  believing in Christ but living as if he doesn’t exist


Three levels of knowing God         


A Christian Atheist might sound like someone who’s got a faith problem or perhaps at least a spiritual confusion issue. But the core problem for the Christian Atheist Isn't belief; it’s intimacy. The Christian Atheist doesn’t really know God very well.


One of the things that I said last week is what you call a person says a lot about how much you know a person.  


Psalms 9:10 NKJV And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; For You, Lord , have not forsaken those who seek You.

What do you call God? The Big Guy in the Sky? The Man Upstairs? Dear eight-pound, six-ounce Baby Jesus? Then you don’t know him. Those titles may be clever or funny,  but they certainly aren’t intimate.


What are some of the things or names we call God?


  • Father

  • Savior

  • Lord

  • Provider

  • Shepherd


Knowing God can lead to a positive lifestyle, but the reverse isn’t true. Our outward actions alone don’t prove that we enjoy an inward relationship with God. Just because we do good doesn’t mean we know the One who is good. 


Knowing God requires more of us than simply believing God exists 


James 2:19 ERV You believe there is one God. That’s good, but even the demons believe that! And they shake with fear.

And it requires more of us than dutiful adherence to Christian rules


Galatians 4:6‭-‬11 NIV Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “ Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.  Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces ? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.

Knowing God requires loving obedience, an obedience that comes from the heart.


1 John 2:3‭-‬6 NIV We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.


Briefly review the following list of statements and place a checkmark next to those you feel are true for you.


  • I believe God loves everyone, but I sometimes struggle to believe that God loves me.

  • I often feel disconnected from God.

  • I pray when I need help, but I don’t routinely spend time with God.

  •  I feel trapped in a cycle of shame about my past.

  •  I don’t feel much need or desire to read the Bible.

  •  I sincerely believe in God, but I can’t say I prioritize my life around him.

  •  I don’t feel the same devotion to God as I did when I first became a Christian.

  •  There are some things about me that I know aren’t what they should be, but I don't

             know if I can ever really change.

  •  My belief in God doesn’t seem to keep me from worrying a lot.

  •  My lifestyle, actions, and decisions don’t always line up with what I say I believe about God.

  • I don’t talk about my faith with people who don’t believe in God.

  • I don’t experience worship or express praise to God in my daily life.

  • I find it difficult to forgive people who have hurt me.

  • My sense of security is impacted more by how I am doing financially than by how I am doing spiritually.

  • I believe in God, but I’m not so big on the church.

  • I’m not sure my heart breaks for the things that break the heart of God.

  • I tend to diminish or overlook my sins and failures rather than grieving them.

  • I don’t often experience a passionate desire to please God.

  • It feels like a long time since I’ve heard God’s voice or experienced God’s leading in my life.

  • I sometimes feel God is not fair.

  • It’s rare for me to feel completely surrendered to God. 

  • Sometimes I’m not even sure I want to be.
             

What two or three statements on the checklist best describe where you're at spiritually right now. Or maybe there is something that is not here.        
       
Based on your responses from the checklist which level are you at now.


  • Level 1: I believe in God, but I don’t know him

  • Level 2: I believe in God, but I don’t know him well.

  • Level 3: I believe in God, know him intimately, and serve him wholeheartedly.


Here’s what some theologians have said about showing love through obedience 


If we are to be new people in Christ, then we must show our newness to the world.  If we are to follow Christ, it must be in the way we spend each day.  WILLIAM LAWA


 Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life - Fine feelings, new insights, greater interest in “religion” mean nothing unless they make our actual behavior better; just as in an illness “feeling better” is not much good if the thermometer shows that your temperature is still going up. C. S. LEWIS Mere Christianity


The word obedient comes from the Latin word audire, which means “listening” … Jesus’ life was a life of obedience …. Jesus was “all ear.” HENRI J. M. NOUWEN Making All Things New



How about you?
       
If we affirm that failures to obey God are sin, the next challenge is how to overcome those failures in our lives. 


In Surrender to Love, author David Benner describes the role of God’s love in helping us move from disobedience to obedience:  


My attachment to sinful ways of being is much too strong to ever be undone by mere willpower…. Genuine transformation requires vulnerability. It is not the fact of being loved

unconditionally that is life-changing. It is the risky experience of allowing myself to be loved unconditionally.
           
If genuine transformation requires vulnerability, do you think disobedience could be described as a refusal to be vulnerable with God? Why or why not?


There is only one way to love God: to take not a single step without him, and to follow with a brave heart wherever he leads. FRANÇOIS FÉNELON Christian Perfection


What [God] desires is reverential intimacy. He wants us close enough to him that we know his heart—close enough to hear his heartbeat. He wants to look into our eyes, and he wants us to look into his.  DAVID G. BENNER Surrender to Love


As you get to know him better, you will change. - The Christian Atheist, page 43


God is in the transformation business. The more we get to know him, the more his love changes us. He brings healing and wholeness that enables us to rest in his love and to follow him wholeheartedly. Here is how the prophet Ezekiel described God’s heart-changing promise:


Ezekiel 11:19‭-‬20 NIV I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God.


Getting to know God isn’t difficult, and it isn’t about a bunch of rules. Yes, God Wants your obedience, but he wants your heart even more. He loves you so much. Surrender Yourself to that love, and it will be a certain death for Christian Atheism — a death that will lead to a whole new life of knowing God.


Read 3, 4,,5, and 6 and what we are going to talk about is Believing in God but Don’t Think He Loves You.


Something from chapter 3 to whet your appetite page 65.


A friend of mine listed all the categories of people God loves, beginning with the letter A.


God loves artists, astronauts, and aerospace engineers. He loves accordion players, ankle biters, animal rights activists, airplane pilots. He also loves athletes, acrobats, and accountants—even during tax season. God loves people from Alabama,  Alaska, Africa, and Albania. God loves absent-minded people; awkward people; assertive, authoritarian people; antisocial people; and aggravating people.         

         

How about the B’s? God loves babies, babes, boys, bankers, and band leaders. He loves ballerinas, Bible readers, biology teachers, bird watchers, bus drivers—including the bad ones. God loves bookworms, bachelors, botanists, bowlers, baby boomers, and boomerang throwers. He loves beekeepers, BBC watchers, blondes, brunettes, and even people with blue hair.      

         

God also loves bores, the beat up, and the burned out. God loves bosses, braggarts,  bag ladies, bartenders, brats, people with braces, Bushmen, and Baptists.

         

 In short, there’s nothing we can do to earn God’s love. We are already and always loved simply because God made us and he loves each and every one of his creations. There’s nothing we can do to get God to love us more, and there’s nothing we can do to cause God to love us less.


Bible Study Audio




Thursday, May 27, 2021

Hebrews Session 18- - Your Faith Is Showing Cont'd




The Christ Church Wednesday Bible Study Group is doing a study through the New Testament book of Hebrews. The word better is used thirteen times in the book of Hebrews as the writer shows the superiority of Christ and His salvation over the Hebrew system of religion.  Jesus Christ and the Christian life He gives us are better because His blessings are eternal and they give us perfect standing before God.  This study is not a diet for “spiritual babes” who want to be spoon-fed and coddled. In this letter you will find “strong meat” that demands some chewing and enjoying.

The writer presented great examples of faith in Hebrews 11, and the encouragements to faith in Hebrews 12. In Hebrews 13, he presents the evidence of faith that should appear in our lives if we are really walking by faith and not by sight. 

These are the notes to Session 18


The writer presented great examples of faith in Hebrews 11, and the encouragement to faith in Hebrews 12. In Hebrews 13, he presents the evidence of faith that should appear in our lives if we are really walking by faith and not by sight. The emphasis in this last section of the book is on living by faith. There are four such pieces of evidence.


  1.  Enjoying Spiritual Fellowship

  2. Submitting to Spiritual Leadership

  3. Sharing in Spiritual Worship


Enjoying Spiritual Fellowship


Hebrews 13:1‭-‬6 NIV Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.  Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”  So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”


The basis for this fellowship is brotherly love. As Christians, these Hebrew people no doubt had been rejected by their friends and families. But the deepest kind of fellowship is not based on race or family relationship; it is based on the spiritual life we have in Christ. A church fellowship based on anything other than love for Christ and for one another simply will not last.  We can be content because 


Hebrews 13:6 NIV So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”


Submitting to Spiritual Leadership


Remember them


Hebrews 13:7‭-‬9 NIV Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.  Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by eating ceremonial foods, which is of no benefit to those who do so.


Remember how they followed Christ and imitate their faith because  Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.


We are going to jump down to verse 17 because it tells us that we are to submit to the authority of our spiritual leaders, in other words obey them, and we are talking about submitting to spiritual leadership.  We’ll come back to verse 10 and sharing in spiritual worship.  .  


So remember spiritual leadership then obey them 


Hebrews 13:17 NIV Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.


When a leader is in the will of God, teaching the Word of God, the people of God should submit and obey. This does not mean that pastors should be dictators, and scripture make that very clear.


1 Peter 5:1‭-‬4 NIV To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not Lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.

 

One day every pastor will have to give an account of his ministry to the Lord, and he wants to be able to do it with joy.


Quite frankly, it is much easier to win souls than it is to “watch for souls”.


Ezekiel 3:16‭-‬21 NIV At the end of seven days the word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. When I say to a wicked person, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn them or speak out to dissuade them from their evil ways in order to save their life, that wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. But if you do warn the wicked person and they do not turn from their wickedness or from their evil ways, they will die for their sin; but you will have saved yourself.  “Again, when a righteous person turns from their righteousness and does evil, and I put a stumbling block before them, they will die. Since you did not warn them, they will die for their sin. The righteous things that person did will not be remembered, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. But if you do warn the righteous person not to sin and they do not sin, they will surely live because they took warning, and you will have saved yourself.”


It is not easy to care for the sheep.  So when a shepherd is faithful to watch for souls, it is important that the sheep work with and not hamper him or her.   




Sharing in Spiritual Worship


Hebrews 13:10‭-‬16‭, ‬18‭-‬19 NIV We have an altar from which those who minister at the tabernacle have no right to eat.  The high priest carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Place as a sin offering, but the bodies are burned outside the camp. And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood. Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore. For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.  Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.  Pray for us. We are sure that we have a clear conscience and desire to live honorably in every way. I particularly urge you to pray so that I may be restored to you soon.


While it is true that a new covenant Christian is not involved in the ceremonies and furnishings of an earthly tabernacle or temple, it is not true that he is deprived of the blessings that they typify. A Jew under the old covenant could point to the temple, but a Christian has a heavenly sanctuary that can never be destroyed. The Jews were proud of the city of Jerusalem, but a Christian has an eternal city, the New Jerusalem. For each of an Old Testament believer’s temporary earthly items, a new covenant believer has a heavenly and eternal counterpart.


Hebrews 13:10 NIV We have an altar from which those who minister at the tabernacle have no right to eat.


In the Old Testament sanctuary, the brazen altar was the place for offering blood sacrifices, and the golden altar before the veil was the place for burning incense, a picture of prayer ascending to God.


A new covenant Christian’s altar is Jesus Christ, for it is through Him that we offer our “spiritual sacrifices” to God.


1 Peter 2:4‭-‬5 NIV As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.


Earlier passages noted that the physical components of the temple were really meant to symbolize the work of Jesus Christ. His suffering, on our behalf, was presented as a superior sacrifice


Hebrews 9:12 NIV He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption.


given in a superior place


Hebrews 9:24 NIV For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence.


with superior results


Hebrews 9:25‭-‬26 NIV Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.


The writer also pointed out, extensively, Old Testament Scriptures predicting God's intent to provide this new covenant, rather than to rely on a system of animal sacrifice


Hebrews 8:6‭-‬8 NIV But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises. For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. But God found fault with the people and said: “The days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah.






This verse reflects some of that earlier imagery. Those who insist on pursuing salvation through the old covenant "have no right" to the benefits of the "altar" of the new covenant. This parallels a point made by Paul in the book of Galatians, where he points out that those who attempt to be saved through their works are "fallen away from grace"


Galatians 5:4 NIV You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.


The two approaches—faith in Christ versus earning salvation by works—are not compatible


Romans 11:6 NIV And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.


No matter how sincere they may be, those who put their trust in rituals, sacraments, or adherence to a moral code—those who "serve the tent"—are not justified before God.


Hebrews 13:11‭-‬13 NIV The high priest carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Place as a sin offering, but the bodies are burned outside the camp. And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood. Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore.


The emphasis in this section is on separation from dead religion and identification with the Lord Jesus Christ in His reproach and rejection. The image comes from the Day of Atonement. The sin offering was taken outside the camp and burned completely.


Leviticus 16:27 NIV The bull and the goat for the sin offerings, whose blood was brought into the Most Holy Place to make atonement, must be taken outside the camp; their hides, flesh and intestines are to be burned up.


We’ve talked about the Day of Atonement before to review what happens read Leviticus 16.


Leviticus 16:6‭-‬10 NIV “Aaron is to offer the bull for his own sin offering to make atonement for himself and his household. Then he is to take the two goats and present them before the Lord at the entrance to the tent of meeting. He is to cast lots for the two goats—one lot for the Lord and the other for the scapegoat.  Aaron shall bring the goat whose lot falls to the Lord and sacrifice it for a sin offering. But the goat chosen by lot as the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the Lord to be used for making atonement by sending it into the wilderness as a scapegoat.


Jesus Christ, our perfect sin offering, suffered and died “outside the gate” of Jerusalem. 


John 19:17‭-‬18 NIV Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). There they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle.


All true Christians must go out to Him, spiritually speaking, to the place of reproach and rejection.


The readers of this epistle were looking for a way to continue as Christians while escaping the persecution that would come from unbelieving Jews. “It cannot be done,” the writer states in so many words. “Jerusalem is doomed. Get out of the Jewish religious system and identify with the Savior who died for you.” There can be no room for compromise.


The writer names two of the “spiritual sacrifices” that we offer as Christians.


Hebrews 13:15‭-‬16 NIV Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.


The first spiritual sacrifice is continual praise to God. The words of praise from our lips, coming from our hearts, are like sacrifices laid on the altar. How easy it is to complain in suffering but it more important to give thanks to God.

The second spiritual sacrifice is good works of sharing. This would certainly include the hospitality mentioned in Hebrews 13:2, as well as the ministry to prisoners in Hebrews 13:3. “Doing good can cover a multitude of ministries: sharing food with the needy; transporting people to and from church or other places; sharing money; perhaps just being a helpful neighbor. 



Next the writer emphasizes the importance of prayer.


Hebrews 13:18‭-‬19 NIV Pray for us. We are sure that we have a clear conscience and desire to live honorably in every way. I particularly urge you to pray so that I may be restored to you soon.


He was unable to visit the readers personally, but he did want their help in prayer.


Benediction


Hebrews 13:20‭-‬21 NIV Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.


This benediction seems to gather together the major themes of Hebrews: peace, the resurrected Christ, the blood, the covenant, spiritual perfection (maturity), God’s work in the believer.


As the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ died for the sheep.


John 10:11 NIV  “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.


As the Great Shepherd, He lives for the sheep in heaven today, working on their behalf. 


Hebrews 7:23‭-‬25 NIV Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.


As the Chief Shepherd, He will come for the sheep at His return.


1 Peter 5:4 NIV And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.


Our Shepherd cares for His own in the past, present, and future. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever!


The phrase “make you perfect” (Heb. 13:21) is the translation of one Greek word, katartidzo. The doctors knew it because it meant “to set a broken bone.” To fishermen it meant “to mend a broken net” (see Matt. 4:21). To sailors it meant “to outfit a ship for a voyage.” To soldiers it meant “to equip an army for battle.”


Our Savior in heaven wants to equip us for life on earth.  He wants to mature us so that He can work in us and through us.  By tracing this word katartidzo in the New Testament, we can discover the tools that God uses to mature and equip His children. He uses His Word;


2 Timothy 3:16‭-‬17 NIV All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.


He uses prayer


1 Thessalonians 3:10 NIV Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith.


He uses fellowship of the local church


Ephesians 4:11‭-‬13 NIV So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.


He also uses individual believers to equip us and mend us


Galatians 6:1‭-‬3 NIV Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves.


 Finally, He uses suffering to perfect His children.


1 Peter 5:10‭-‬11 NIV And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.


This relates to what we learned from Hebrews 12 about chastening.


What a difference it would make in our lives if we would turn Hebrews 13:20–21 into a personal prayer each day.  "Equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him".


The basis for this marvelous work is “the blood of the everlasting covenant” (Heb. 13:20). This is the new covenant that was discussed in Hebrews 8, a covenant based on the sacrifice discussed in Hebrews 10. Because this new covenant was a part of God’s eternal plan of salvation, and because it guarantees everlasting life, it is called “the everlasting covenant.” But apart from the death of Jesus Christ, we can share in none of the blessings named in this profound benediction.

The “Amen” at the end of the benediction closed the body of the epistle. All that remained was for the writer to add a few words of greeting and personal information.


Hebrews 13:22‭-‬25 NIV Brothers and sisters, I urge you to bear with my word of exhortation, for in fact I have written to you quite briefly.  I want you to know that our brother Timothy has been released. If he arrives soon, I will come with him to see you.  Greet all your leaders and all the Lord’s people. Those from Italy send you their greetings.  Grace be with you all.


He had written a long letter, and in it he had dealt with some profound and difficult doctrines; so he encouraged his readers.  What Timothy’s relationship to the group was, we do not know. He was a prominent minister in that day, and most of the Christians would either know him or know about him. These personal touches remind us that God is interested in individuals and not just in groups of people.

“They of Italy salute you” (Heb. 13:24) could mean that the writer was in Italy at the time, or that saints from Italy were with him and wanted to send their greetings.  But the total impact of Hebrews answers the important question, “How can I stand firm in a world that is shaking all around me?” The answer: know the superior person, Jesus Christ; trust His superior priesthood; and live by the superior principle of faith. Build your life on the things of heaven that will never shake.


Be confident! Jesus Christ saves to the uttermost!


Hebrews is packed with theology and some difficult-to-understand concepts. As you reflect on these words, ask God to reveal to you those truths that you most need to hear. Revisit the book often and seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance to gain a better understanding of what it means to be confident in God.


Hebrews focuses primarily on the subject of the new covenant and Jesus’ superior sacrifice. These themes were of particular importance to the intended audience for the letter, but they also have huge significance for believers today. Another big theme in Hebrews is that of faith. Spend time praying for each of these topics.