Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Thankfulness and Praise in Hebrews 1:9

“…of the Son He says, ‘…You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness above Your companions’” (Hebrews 1:8,9).

I am thankful for the Son’s passion for absolute truth and its application in judgment and righteousness – and that as a result of this the Father has enthroned His Son with a Spirit-filled gladness.

As the Father continues speaking of His Son in the letter to the Hebrews, the Holy Spirit gives us the words of Psalm 45:7.

While in Hebrews 1:8//Psalm 45:6 the Father calls the Son “God,” in Hebrews 1:9//Psalm 45:7 the Father self-identifies as the God of the Son. Father and Son are both God. They are not two gods, for the Bible is abundantly clear that there is only one God. The Father is not the Son and the Son is not the Father. They are distinct Persons Who are both the one God.

A lot of people, including people who do not believe in Him or the Scripture which bears witness to Him, try to make statements about what Jesus is. They tell us that Jesus only helped people, affirmed people, never issued statements about sin or judgment, and was the very model of tolerance for today’s anything-goes society. However, the Bible – the only source for authoritative truth about Jesus – does not tell us of a Jesus Who looks exactly like the government-enforced tolerance of today. It tells us of a Jesus Who was zealous for the Law of His Father.

In the first sermon we have recorded from Jesus in “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father Who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; [as it says in Psalm 6:8] depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness’” (Matthew 7:21-23). The Son, Who hates lawlessness (Hebrews 1:9), does not have a relationship with the lawless, and will not permit them in His royal presence in “the kingdom of heaven.” They won’t be there if they spurn the Law of God. Those who truly call Jesus “Lord” have a different relationship with the Law of God than the lost world: “…just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification” (Romans 6:19).[1] Further, they have a different relationship with the world of the lawless: “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, ‘“I will dwell in them [Leviticus 26:12] and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate [Isaiah 52:11],” says the Lord. “And do not touch what is unclean; and I will welcome you. And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” says the Lord Almighty’” (2 Corinthians 6:14-18).

A day will come when the King Who hates lawlessness will separate pretenders out of His Kingdom: “The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then [as it says in Daniel 12:3] the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear” (Matthew 13:40-43).

Is this discussion only about Law – are we moving our Christianity into that hated camp of “Legalism” with all this talk of lawlessness and Jesus’ hatred of it? No.

In our congregation, we observe the Lord’s Supper every week. When we hold up the cup together, we hear Jesus’ words with that cup: “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me” (Luke 22:20; 1 Corinthians 11:25). We make a claim to the new covenant (and its promises) at the Table, a claim sealed by the blood of Jesus alone. One of those promises graciously frees us from our lawlessness: “And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us; for after saying [in Jeremiah 31:33], ‘“This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days,” says the Lord: “I will put My laws upon their heart, and on their mind I will write them,”’ He then says [in Jeremiah 31:34], ‘“And their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more”’ (Hebrews 10:15-17).[2] We do not preach legalism as the remedy from lawlessness. We lift up the cup, make a claim to the new covenant by faith, and rejoice in God’s promise to write His Law on our hearts by His Spirit and embrace the forgiveness from lawlessness which is ours by faith in Jesus Christ. Rejoice. “…to the one who does not work [deeds of the Law to earn salvation], but believes in Him Who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness, just as David also speaks [in Psalm 32:1,2] of the blessing on the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: ‘Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven, and whose sins have been covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account’” (Romans 4:5-8). This “blessing” is a covenant blessing. It is ours not because we obey the Law. It is ours because of the saving work of Jesus Christ. The other covenant blessing is that the Law is written on our hearts. Law-keeping is not an obligation that keeps us in covenant – only the Holy Spirit seals us in the covenant which is inaugurated by the blood of Jesus. Law-keeping is not a condition. It is a benefit, a blessing. In this new covenant, our lawlessness is forgotten and the Law is written on our hearts. That which the King hates is removed from those united to the King in a covenant that has all its conditions met by the King Himself. Praise Him with great praise!

This King Who hates lawlessness has, as a result of His faithfulness to the Father’s Law, has been anointed with the Spirit of gladness. This is part of the text from another of Jesus’ early sermons: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed Me to preach the Gospel…” (Luke 4:18//Isaiah 61:1; see also Acts 10:38). This Spirit produces a Gospel-purpose, a Christ-centeredness – and a God-given gladness.

We see this God-given gladness at least twice in the New Testament:
  • “At that very time [the Son] rejoiced greatly in the Holy Spirit, and said, ‘I praise You, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth’” (Luke 10:21).
  • Peter quotes Psalm 16 in Acts 2:25-31. He tells us that David “was a prophet” and was speaking about the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He gives us this testimony of the Son concerning the resurrection: “…my heart was glad and my tongue exulted” (Acts 2:26//Psalm 16:9).

The Son-King’s hatred of lawlessness results in the Father’s eternal giving of His Spirit of gladness to the Son – and through the Son to those united with the Son by faith. With Jesus, let us love God’s Law by the Spirit He has given those who believe in Him. There is gladness here. Praise Him with great praise!
Looking toward Signal Peak from Tadpole Ridge,
Gila National Forest, New Mexico, U.S.A.

[1] “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, Who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds” (Titus 2:11-14).
[2] Notice that the Holy Spirit is speaking (present tense), though the writer of Hebrews is quoting Scripture over six centuries old. The Holy Spirit’s speaking through the text He authored is always now.

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