Sunday, 6th February 6.00 pm Order of Service

WELCOME

HYMN God sent His Son

God sent His son, they called Him Jesus;

He came to love, heal and forgive;

He lived and died to buy my pardon,

An empty grave is there to prove my Saviour lives!

Chorus

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,

Because He lives, all fear is gone;

Because I know He holds the future,

And life is worth the living,

Just because He lives!

How sweet to hold a newborn baby,

And feel the pride and joy he gives;

But greater still the calm assurance:

This child can face uncertain days because He Lives!

Chorus

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,

Because He lives, all fear is gone;

Because I know He holds the future,

And life is worth the living,

Just because He lives!

And then one day, I’ll cross the river,

I’ll fight life’s final war with pain;

And then, as death gives way to victory,

I’ll see the lights of glory and I’ll know He lives!

Chorus

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,

Because He lives, all fear is gone;

Because I know He holds the future,

And life is worth the living,

Just because He lives!

PRAYER

VIDEO INTRODUCTION TO HEBREWS (from the Bible Project)

READING Hebrews 1:1 – 2:4

Gods Final Word: His Son

1 In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. 3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. 4 So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.

The Son Superior to Angels

5 For to which of the angels did God ever say,

“You are my Son;
today I have become your Father”[a]?

Or again,

“I will be his Father,
and he will be my Son”[b]?

6 And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says,

“Let all God’s angels worship him.”[c]

7 In speaking of the angels he says,

“He makes his angels spirits,
and his servants flames of fire.”[d]

8 But about the Son he says,

“Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever;
a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom.

9

You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;
therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions
by anointing you with the oil of joy.”[e]

10 He also says,

“In the beginning, Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth,
and the heavens are the work of your hands.

11

They will perish, but you remain;
they will all wear out like a garment.

12

You will roll them up like a robe;
like a garment they will be changed.
But you remain the same,
and your years will never end.”[f]

13 To which of the angels did God ever say,

“Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies
a footstool for your feet”[g]?

14 Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?

Warning to Pay Attention

2 We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. 2 For since the message spoken through angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, 3 how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. 4 God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.

SERMON God has spoken. Therefore, listen

1:1-4 The Word of God reveals, redeems and gives new life. This is a key theme throughout the letter, as the Word came to the fathers, through the prophets, but finally in His Son. Revelation came progressively until its final fulfilment in Christ. Throughout history, God’s servants have been His spokesmen but now God has opted to choose His own Son to deliver His final revelation to humanity!

The writer of the letter reveals just why the Son is qualified to deliver supreme revelation –

God has appointed Him ‘heir of all things’ (Ps 2:8 and Heb 1:5); through Christ, God created the entire cosmos of space and time (Col 1:16) – Christ was God’s agent in this task; He is the radiance of God’s glory and as such the light of God shines in and through the Christ into human lives and situations; Christ is the image of God’s being and nature, such that seeing Christ is seeing what God the Father is; Christ upholds all things by ‘the word of His power’, thus being the Creator and ongoing sustainer and controller of this vast universe; Christ provided purification for our sins by His work as our great High Priest.

He works globally and personally in a way that no one else in this universe could; Christ then sat down at God’s right hand, showing us how this Christ applied Psalm 110:1 to Himself and indicating the sheer exaltation and supremacy of Christ to His current position as perfect mediator between God and humanity in His role as Prophet, Priest and King.

Christ is thus marked out as superior to the angels, through His exaltation to the highest place and through the title ‘Son’ that He had always possessed. All this was eternally appointed by the Father, for the Person and Work of His own Son. Indeed, the adjective ‘better’ is used 13 times in Hebrews to compare and contrast Christ and His new order with all that went before Him, including the angelic roles of law-giving (2:2f) and the administration of nations (2:5)!

1:5-14 Lest there be any doubt whatsoever that Christ is indeed better than the angels, our writer now amasses a mountain of OT evidence that argues his case! Indeed, five of his selected quotes are from the Psalms, one is from 2 Samuel 7:14/1 Chron. 17:13 and one comes from Deut. 32:43. The writer of Hebrews builds his case text by text, as he further puts the spotlight on Christ’s supremacy over the angels:

2 Ps 2:7 – ‘You are my Son, today I have become your Father’. God never said this to any angel! These words were most fully realised and fulfilled in the Messiah of David’s line whom God would raise up. Christ had always been eternal Son but had entered the full exercise of that office following the suffering and exaltation that actually proved His total obedience to His Father’s Will.

2 Sam 7:14 – ‘I will be His Father and He will be my Son’. The prophet Nathan gives God’s response to David’s wish to build a house for the ark of God, namely that God is not wanting a house of wood but rather to confirm that He will establish the house of David for ever! This greater Son of David was no less than the expected and promised Christ celebrated in Luke 1:32f; 1:68f – the Davidic Messiah Himself.

Deut. 32:43 – ‘Let all Gods angels worship Him’. The focus here in verse 6 is not on the first or second coming of Christ but on the reality of this Christ being worshipped by angels! ‘Firstborn’ – because He exists before creation and He has inherited all creation as His – it belongs to Him. Some say that this refers to the Father’s purpose to commit judgment to the Son, so that all may honour the Son (John 5:23). The timing is most probably at Christ’s exaltation and enthronement as sovereign over the universe.

Ps 104:4 – The angels in verse 7 may be carrying out God’s commands with speed (winds) and strength (fire) but ultimately angels operate in ways that are fading/ephemeral, whereas Christ works eternally and permanently!

Ps 45:6f – Here in verses 8-9 the Psalmist celebrates a royal wedding. This Messiah can be addressed not only as God’s Son but actually as ‘God’, for He is the Davidic Messiah and the radiance of God’s glory. He is perfect justice and righteousness. The ‘companions’ are those who belong to Him for they share in His joy and glory.

Ps 102:25-27 – In vv 10-12, the key point is that even though earth and heaven might pass away, God Himself is eternal and unchanging. The words are applied here by the Psalmist to the Son because it was through the Son’s agency that Creation took place – the angels were there as watching worshippers. Indeed, God here addresses this Creator as ‘Lord’!

Ps 110 – Finally, this reference is to the Son’s enthronement and the promise of victory for Christ over all his enemies! This is the right of the Messianic King and Great High Priest who died, rose and is now exalted!

No angels ever got an invitation to sit before God, let alone at 3 His right hand. Verse 14 confirms that ultimately angels served God and those who would inherit salvation in Him. The nature of this salvation is not explained. What the readers do need to know is the terrible danger that faces anyone who treats this salvation lightly! The readers had embraced the authority of this gospel and this authority was that of Christ. God has no message or mediator higher than Christ’s gospel.

2:1-4 Therefore, all this huge focus on Christ’s superiority to the angels can now be understood. The Law was mediated by angelic intermediaries. God’s final Word is in His Son – the truths and teachings of the gospel are of paramount importance and are a matter of life and death. Believers must not drift away from them, and risk loss of their hope and security! (2:1). Even the Law, mediated by angels (Deut. 33:2; Gal 3:19; Acts 7:53), carried very severe penalties for its infringement (2:2). The great salvation came to this earth by Christ, The Son Of God. This gospel must therefore not be treated lightly!

The writer of Hebrews thus feared that Christian believers risked sinking under pressure to the extent that they would retreat from public profession of gospel and faith. Then the gospel would cease to have any real influence on their lives! Here then is the first of a number of severe warnings from the writer (2:3). The gospel had come with and in Christ (Mark 1:14f; Luke 4:18ff) but the author of Hebrews and the letter’s readers had heard this gospel testimony from reliable witnesses (Luke 1:2). In this respect, the author did not claim special personal revelation of the gospel in the way Paul did. As such, he puts himself on the same level as the readers of his letter!

2:4 stresses, though, that God Himself added abundant evidence of His own supernatural confirmation of this unique gospel. God showed His agreement with the utter superiority of Christ through many signs, wonders, miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit – see Acts 2:2,43; Gal 3:5; 1 Peter 1:12. The distribution of gifts of the Spirit signed and sealed the truth, reality and power of Christ’s gospel!

The writer to the Hebrews would not have mentioned these manifestations had there been any chance that they would have pleaded ignorance of such events. They were well known and widespread and the writer now reminds his readers of their validating power in order to re-kindle their dwindling faith in the sheer majesty of Christ’s Person and Work.

God has spoken – Let us Listen.

Prayer

Hymn. How firm a foundation

VERSE 1
How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word
What more can He say than to you He hath said
To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled

VERSE 2
Fear not, I am with thee; oh be not dismayed
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand

VERSE 3
When through the deep waters I call thee to go
The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress

VERSE 4
When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie
My grace all sufficient shall be thy supply
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine

VERSE 5
The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose
I will not, I will not desert to its foes
That soul, though all hell should endeavour to shake
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake

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