Saturday, August 24, 2013

Do not refuse the one who is speaking

Tomorrow's epistle reading is confrontational. To Christians who argue the ins and outs of predestination, to Christians who believe or are toying with believing that God is a universalist who will save everyone, no matter what, Hebrews 12:18-29 cuts through to the bone (see Hebrews 4:12).

"See that you do not refuse the one who is speaking; for if they did not escape when they refused the one who warned them on earth, how much less will we escape if we reject the one who warns from heaven!" (12:25)

The writer is quite clear. Nothing is predetermined around our individual response to the voice of God. We (good readers of Hebrews) may yet be found to have refused God. Nothing is safe about refusing God: there is no escape for those found to have rejected God, such will be found out. God is a 'consuming fire' (12:29) and we should dread what that consumption will do to us if we reject God.

But we do not need to be afraid. The 'sprinkled blood' of Jesus 'speaks a better word than the blood of Abel' (12:24).

Thanks be to God.

13 comments:

camostar said...

I think it's important to acknowledge tensions in the biblical witness though:

He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart,so that they might not look with their eyes,and understand with their heart and turn—and I would heal them (John 12:40).

Father Ron Smith said...

Peter, I can't help thinking this is precisely the sort of 'hell-fire' ethos that can turn away those who have intellectual doubts about the after-life. I really think people have to be wooed into the Faith - like the Hound of Heaven's wooing - not with fangs but a gentle licking.

I guess this is why so many of the Lawyers rejected Jesus. He was much too easy on sinners.

Why do some people major on the negatives in Scripture; when there is so much to be encouraged by - especially in the attitude of Jesus? Now this is where today's Gospel reading comes in - where Jesus heals on the Sabbath - the day set apart for worship! Here is Jesus actually setting out to do good works - when strictly speaking they are forbidden.

No wonder the Church is losing membership - with little to encourage belief in a loving God!
"God so LOVED the World.....!

Peter Carrell said...

Is Hebrews part of God's truth or not?

Small Farmer in The City said...

Perhaps we'd benefit from asking, "Beyond the mere words, what is Hebrews saying to us and why?"

hogsters said...

Peter, I can't help thinking this is precisely the sort of 'hell-fire' ethos that can turn away those who have intellectual doubts about the after-life. I really think people have to be wooed into the Faith - like the Hound of Heaven's wooing - not with fangs but a gentle licking.

Better get those big scissors out Ron. Maybe another reason thinking people reject the faith is because there are people who claim to believe and yet denny foundational affirmations of scripture.

mike greenslade said...

Kia ora Peter,

It is all very easy for assumptions to be made about what the writer was meaning, and what was being alluded to. Usually, people see it as verification that their version of the Gospel is authenticated. It is an easy trap because it is so attractive.

Is it part of God's truth? Perhaps. Maybe not always. It may depend on who is using it and how.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi camostar, Ron, hogsters, Mike

There are indeed arguments to be had about such a passage and I thank you for bringing differing perspectives to bear on the passage.

Are possible question to pursue is whether there is any substantive difference between the writer of Hebrews in this passage and Jesus himself when he spoke about the imminence of judgement, and fearing the one who can destroy both body and soul?

Steve Finnell said...

TRUTH AND AUTHORITY?

Where should Christians look for God's authoritative truth? Should it be the Bible? Should it be the church of your choice or the church you belong to by chance?

The Bible was completed in 95 A.D. when the apostle John wrote Revelation. Who wrote the Bible? Was it God or was it the church?


John 14:24-26 He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father's who sent me. (THE WORDS JESUS SPOKE WERE FROM GOD THE FATHER) 25 "These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all the I said to you.


The words of Jesus were from God the Father and He said that The Father would send the apostles the Holy Spirit so they could remember all that He said. The words of the apostles were God's word, their words were Scripture, their words were the Bible.


In, John 14:24-26, Jesus was not talking to the Pope, John Calvin, Martin Luther, Billy Graham, Joesph Smith Jr, Mary Baker Eddy, cardinals, bishops, elders, so-called modern day apostles, preachers, pastors, nor any one claiming to speak for God. If the church or theses men as individuals, were speaking for God by new revelation, then, we would have added books to the Bible. There would the books of the Popes, the book of John Calvin, the book of Billy Graham, the books of elders, the books of churches, the book of Joesph Smith Jr. etc.


THE BIBLE IS THE AUTHORITY IN THE CHURCH.
THE CHURCH HAS NOT BEEN GIVEN THE AUTHORITY TO CHANGE OR OVERRULE THE AUTHORITY OF THE BIBLE. THE CHURCH CANNOT ADD TO OR TAKE AWAY FROM SCRIPTURE!

YOU ARE INVITED TO FOLLOW MY CHRISTIAN BLOG. Google search steve finnell a christian view

Father Ron Smith said...

No doubt some will rush to follow steve finnel's blog. I, personally, prefer to trust the evidence of our Lord's living out of the implication of His 'New Commandment', which is simple in the extreme: "Love God first, and then your neighbour as yourself". Jesus did say that this was the essence of the 'Good News'. For those who love God - and neighbour, there is no 'Bad News'.

Father Ron Smith said...

"Are possible question to pursue is whether there is any substantive difference between the writer of Hebrews in this passage and Jesus himself when he spoke about the imminence of judgement, and fearing the one who can destroy both body and soul?" - Dr. Peter Carrell -

Dear Peter; I've been cogitating on your chgallenge in the above, and have come to the conclusion that we need always to address the context. We need to ask, "Who was Jesus addressing"? Was it neophyte believers in Him? Or was it the Keepers of the Law? I suspect it was the latter - thus backing of his warning: "Judge not, that ye be not judged yourselves".

This, too is borne out in Jesus story about the Publican and the Pharisee: Who went away justified?

Anonymous said...

I prayed all nine verses of Psalm 137 Super flumina this morning in the Daily Office and was irked that the last three were optional.

A disturbing ancient poem of displacement...a crushed exile trying hard to channel fury and loss into some kind of prayer.

This commentary on Sunday's majestic epistle is in a similar vein as Stanley Hauerwas's contention that Christians have knocked all the rough edges off the Faith and that as a result God is dying of niceness...but not on ADU!

Stephen.

Chris Spark said...


The point above regards Christians using texts like Hebrews to simply say their own view is right, their own version of the gospel etc - I think the point of the Hebrews text is fairly clear at one level (in context of him using Psalm 15 and expressly referring to the desert-wandering community which Ps 15 reflects on): there is a message of God that is outside of us, an 'objective' Word of God (even if we are always subjectively hearing it), and therefore our call as listeners is to humble ourselves before, and ask 'where can does this impact ME and where do I need to change what I think in light of it'. That is the same whatever your understanding of the gospel is.

But it is unsettling. Then again, so was Jesus, especially to those who didn't want to listen to him (a group which, all too often, includes me - may it do so less and less - and I think a passage like the Hebrews one is part of God's mercy in enabling this 'ess and less' to happen).

Chris Spark said...

(the above idea about watching OUR OWN listening I think fits pretty well with the Pharisee and the Tax Collector too - especially in the context of verse 9 of that passage)