Hebrews I : I states that in time past God spoke to the Jewish patriarchs by the prophets. In the next verse we learn that in the end of these days God has spoken by His Son, or literally "en huio" (in Son). In a moment we will comment on this, but first note the words "God ... hath ... spoken." This is a most sublime and satisfying statement. We have not been left in ignorance and uninformed, for God has spoken. "Hear, 0 heavens, and give ear, 0 earth; for the Lord hath spoken" (Isaiah I :2). It is tragic that while heaven hears and hearkens, the earth turns a deaf ear to the Word of God. People eagerly tune in the scientist, economist, or politician to get some word of hope or assurance, but seldom tune in to the voice of God spoken in His Word by His Son. In ancient times God spoke to man "by the prophets" who were simply the instruments He used. Now He has spoken "in (His) Son." The Son is the Word of God. The prophets prefaced their message with "Thus saith the Lord" while the Son could declare "I say unto you." William R. Newell has written: "Astonishing it was, indeed, even in that' old time,' that the infinite, eternal, glorious God should speak unto dust and ashes such as man is! But this wondrous fact of God having spoken in past days is to prepare us for a more stupendous statement: God did at the end of these days speak unto us in (the person of His) Son .... Nor is it to have the Son Himself here speak to us, God speaks; and lo, the Son is there! 'This is my Beloved Son! ' God does not in Hebrews say, 'Hear Him.' Nay: the Son does not speak to us in Hebrews, but God speaks concerning Him."
In light of the above it can be said that when the Son was here in the midst of the Hebrew nation the words He spoke were not His own, but the words of God the Father. Deuteronomy 18: 18-19 is the great prophecy of Messiah, the prophet who would be raised up like unto Moses, but far greater than Moses. It reads: "I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in His mouth; and He shall speak unto them all that I shall command Him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which He shall speak in my name, I will require it of him." This is none other than the Son of God and when raised up in Israel He came speaking the words which the Lord God had put in His mouth for that people. An apostle is one sent from the face of another and who comes bearing the words of the one who sent him. The Lord Jesus is likened to such in Hebrews 3: 1, "Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus." The Lord Jesus was the Apostle, the One sent of the Father and bearing the Father's message. Many times in the Gospel of John the Lord is referred to as being sent of the Father. He said, "For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of Him that sent me" (John 6:38). He also stated that the words He spoke were not His own but the Father's who sent Him. "Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but His that sent me" (7: 16). "For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent Me, He gave Me a commandment, what I should say, and what 1 should speak" (12:49). "He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings; and the word which ye hear is not Mine, but the Father's which sent Me" (14:24). It thus appears that the words spoken by Jesus when here among men, in some Bibles shown in red letters, were not really His own words but the words of the Father who sent Him. If we want the words of the Lord Jesus, the resurrected and ascended Christ at God's right hand as Head of the Church, they are to be found in the thirteen letters that came from the Holy Spirit inspired pen of Christ's apostle, the Apostle Paul, who could say, "If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord" (I Corinthians 14:37).
The precursor of Christ was John the Baptist. His ministry was one of preparation. The word "prepare" denotes a leveling and straightening of the road as when an Oriental monarch comes on his journey. John preached "the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins" (Mark 1:4). He went before, calling men to repentance and making ready a people prepared for the Lord. The Lord began His public ministry immediately after His baptism and the temptation in the wilderness and we read: "From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matthew 4: 17). This was the message also preached by His forerunner (3:1-2) and by His apostles (10:7). The kingdom proclaimed as being at hand was the kingdom promised to David and predicted by all the prophets, when David's throne would again be occupied, when the law would go forth from Zion and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. Some years ago along the highways in Pennsylvania there were a number of billboards with this same text, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." While one might admire the zeal of those who placed these signs it would have been much better to have used a text relevant to the divine program in effect today and which would have contained God's way of salvation for the sinner. The kingdom was at hand back yonder because the King Himself was at hand, for there can be no kingdom without a king. The Lord Jesus Christ was then present as Israel's King, and if He had been recognized and owned as King, that prophesied and long-awaited kingdom would have been ushered in. Instead, the leaders of the nation said, "We have no king but Caesar" and "we will not have this man to reign over us." Because of their unbelief the kingdom program has been suspended for a season and one would be out of the will of God if preaching the gospel of the kingdom today.
In the Scriptures we are told that the Jews require a sign and when Christ was here among them they were given plenty of signs to render them without excuse. In his Pentecostal message Peter said, "Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by Him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know" (Acts 2:22). These miracles, wonders, and signs performed by the Lord Jesus gave abundant witness as to His Person. He said, "The works which the Father hath given Me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of Me, that the Father hath sent Me" (John 5:36). Also, "Believe Me that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me; or else believe Me for the very works' sake" (14:11). His works should have proven to them that He was all He claimed to be, the Messiah and the Son of God. He had power over disease, demons, and even death. Many did believe on Him because of His works. We read, "And many of the people believed on him, and said, When Christ cometh, will He do more miracles than these which this man hath done?" (John 7:31). There is another verse, John 2:23, which reads, "Many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which He did. " The next verse, though, reads, "But Jesus did not commit himself unto them." A faith that rests simply upon signs and wonders does not bring salvation to anyone; only a personal faith and trust in the Saviour will do that. These people seemed only concerned with the startling and spectacular, and belief that is based upon such as this is always shallow and evanescent. Wondrous as were the miracles and signs perfonned by Jesus there were other witnesses to His Person than these. There was the witness of John Baptist, who identified Him as the Lamb of God and the Christ. There was even the witness of the Father in heaven, who on three occasions spoke, saying, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hearye him." There was also the witness of their own Scriptures, for the Lord told them, "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life; and they are they which testify of me." The wonders and signs wrought by the Lord were precisely what Isaiah prophesied the Messiah would accomplish. "Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing" (Isaiah 35:5-6). Those of Jesus' day who did not believe were without excuse, and those of the present day who fail to believe have even less excuse, for they now have the completed Word of God and the testimony of countless Christians down through the centuries.
When reading the Epistle to the Hebrews it is important to recognize that it is written to the Hebrews and not to members of the Body of Christ. This epistle will come into full prominence in the future when God begins to deal again with the Hebrew nation. Hebrews 2:3 reads: "How shall we (Hebrews) escape, if we (Hebrews) neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us (Hebrews) by them that heard Him." The reference here is to a salvation which was first of all offered to the Hebrews by the Lord and then later confirmed unto them by those who had companied with Him and had heard Him, i.e. the Twelve Apostles. As the Lord spoke to the people He was certainly concerned about their individual salvation, but implicit in the good news of the kingdom which He preached was national salvation, when Israel would be saved out of the hand of their enemies and would finally enjoy the exalted status destined for them. National salvation was in the mind of Zacharias when filled with the Holy Spirit he said, "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for He hath visited and redeemed His people, and hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; As He spake by the mouth of His holy prophets, which have been since the world began; that we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us" (Luke 1:68-71) . National salvation was in view when the prophet wrote, "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely; and this is His name whereby He shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS" ( Jeremiah 23:5-6). When the Lord Jesus was here, sent to Israel, this national salvation was offered. They had only to acknowledge Him as their Messiah and Deliverer, but this they would not do. Then through the Spirit-filled apostles the offer was confirmed, authenticated, made anew. Again they not only neglected, but rejected, this so great salvation, and for them there was no escape and it is evident how the nation has suffered as the result.
As stated above the expression in Hebrews 2:3 "by them that heard him" refers to the twelve Jesus had chosen to be apostles. One of the twelve was Judas, who betrayed the Lord, and He must be replaced. Israel had brought about the death of Christ and some might think that then and there God was through with that nation, and that shortly after on the Day of Pentecost a new program was introduced and the Church of this dispensation had its historic beginning. This was not the case. At the cross the nation Israel rejected Christ but He had not yet rejected them. There was to be a renewed offer of the kingdom to the twelve tribes so it was necessary to have twelve apostles to confirm Christ's message to them. Therefore, the first thing after Christ's resurrection and ascension was to choose one to take the place of Judas. Some tell us that God did not recognize the choice of Matthias and so He later chose Paul to take Judas' place. Nothing could be further from the truth. According to Acts 1 :21-22 the one to be chosen must have companied with the Lord throughout His ministry and to have been an eyewitness of His resurrection.
Paul was an eyewitness of His resurrection but most certainly did not accompany the Lord in His earthly ministry. The ministry of the twelve at Pentecost and thereafter was simply a ministry of confirmation, whereas Paul's ministry was a ministry of revelation. To him only was revealed the new truth of the dispensation of the grace of God and the calling out of the Church, the Body of Christ. The twelve confined their ministry to Israel. With the exception of Cornelius and his household there is no record of the twelve preaching to a single Gentile, while on the other hand Paul could boldly state, "For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office" (Romans 11: 13), and again, "That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God" (15:16). Further, it is evident from 1st Corinthians 15: 5-8 that Paul shows himself as separate from the twelve and having no connection with them. It is evident also that God set His seal of approval upon the choice of Matthias, for twelve men stood up on the Day of Pentecost and all twelve were filled With the Holy Spirit, and, just as the mighty works performed by Jesus of Nazareth testified as to His heavenly origin, so Hebrews 2:4 informs us that as the twelve went forth to confirm Christ's message their ministry was accredited of God by signs and wonders. These were the signs of an apostle affirming they were divinely sent. These sign gifts were in evidence as long as God was dealing with Israel as a nation. That time frame ended with the close of the transition period, which coincided with Paul's arrival at Rome and the abrupt ending of the book of Acts.
Peter's message at Pentecost and thereafter was practically the same as that of John the Baptist. Both preached the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. John called on the nation to repent, to turn again to God, because the King and His kingdom were at hand. Peter called on the nation to repent of having rejected and put to death their King. Peter did not preach the gospel of the grace of God to his Jewish audience on the Day of Pentecost. When they cried out "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" he did not tell them we are saved by grace plus no doing on our part. He told them to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins. Newell writes: "After the Jews had crucified their Messiah, God gave the nation another great national offer of salvation. This is the opening story in Acts. Israel was not yet fully rejected. Note, now, that when they say, 'What shall we do?' Peter does not say: 'Believe,' as Paul does to the Gentile jailer in Acts 16, but 'Repent'' Change your mind about Jesus of Nazareth, and confess Him as Messiah in baptism.'" A most prominent word in the preaching of the kingdom gospel was the word "repent." We should not confuse this word with penitence, or sorrow. As Newell indicates above, the word metanoia means to think differently or to have second thoughts, and in this regard it may be said that repentance automatically accompanies faith. The sinner hears the gospel concerning the work of Christ on his behalf, and believing, putting his faith and trust in the Saviour, is saved from all his sin. At the same time, perhaps unconsciously, there has been a change of mind on his part, no longer rejecting but now accepting. Sir Robert Anderson has a good word on this: "Faith and repentance are not separate acts to be successively accomplished by the sinner as a condition of his salvation. But, in different phases of it, they represent the same God ward attitude of soul which the truth of God, believed, produces. Salvation there cannot be without repentance, any more than without faith; but the soundest and fullest gospel preaching need not include any mention of the word. Neither as verb nor noun does it occur in the Epistle to the Romans, God's great doctrinal treatise on redemption and righteousness. And in the Gospel of John, pre-eminently the gospel book of the Bible, it will be searched in vain for a single mention of it. "
Israels Future - John D. LaVier
How God Saves Men
Believing Christ DIED, that’s HISTORY.
Believing Christ DIED for YOU SINS and Rose again that’s SALVATION.
ead Acts 16L31 Romans 1:16, and 1. Corinthians 15:1-4
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