Established in Grace

Hebrews 13:1-16

1 Let brotherly love continue. 2 Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels. 3 Remember the prisoners as if chained with them—those who are mistreated—since you yourselves are in the body also.

4 Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.

5 Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we may boldly say:

“The Lord is my helper;

I will not fear.

What can man do to me?”

7 Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct. 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. 9 Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines. For it is good that the heart be established by grace, not with foods which have not profited those who have been occupied with them.

10 We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat.    11 For the bodies of those animals, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned outside the camp. 12 Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. 13 Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach. 14 For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come. 15 Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. 16 But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.

As this letter to the Hebrew believers begins to wind down, the author closes with some practical reminders about doing life and ministry with holiness in mind.  Verse eight brings clarity to the direction the author is taking.  Consistency counts.

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”  This powerful truth is a great reminder that our God is not all over the map.  If we begin to think otherwise, it is probably that we are being “carried about with various and strange doctrines.”  This is never a good thing.  We’ve learned throughout this journey through Hebrews that Jesus is preeminent.  If any doctrine emerges that reduces Jesus and His finished work in any way, ignore it.  He never changes.

“It is good that the heart be established by grace.”  This simple statement summarizes the purpose of Braving Grace.  Let grace be your foundation.  Determine that no other doctrine will displace grace in your heart.  Notice the interesting reference the author makes to food.  Why is that?

In the Old Covenant the priests ate of the meat from the altar.  Those animal sacrifices speak of works and those who are occupied with them are stuck in that performance-based system of relating to God.  But remember that we’ve learned that the tabernacle built with hands is not where God dwells today.  Hebrews 9:24 says, “For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true . . .”  Christ’s priesthood is not according to the order of Aaron.  Those who are pursuing righteousness through the old system of the tabernacle don’t have the right to eat from the New Covenant altar.  

Just as the Old Covenant sacrifices were burned outside the camp, so also Jesus was sacrificed outside the gate.  Again, we see a perfect representation of Jesus fulfilling the law.  Therefore, we don’t stay inside the tabernacle.  We go outside the camp with Him.  

The sacrifice we offer today is “the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.”  When we lift up praise and thanksgiving, we are honoring Jesus’ sacrifice.  This is not what religion expects.  Religion expects work and striving.  Killing bulls and goats, butchering them and following the strict processes outlined in the law was hard work.  When we praise God, we accomplish so much more than religious laborers who are striving for righteousness.  

Brave grace.  Go to Jesus outside the camp and lift up praise and thanksgiving today.  Like the great cloud of witnesses, we await the city that is to come.  Be established in God’s unmerited favor.  And one last thought.  Expect consistency.  If you struggle with being a consistent person (we all do), be reminded that you are created in the image of the One Who is the same yesterday, today, and forever. 

Day 30 – Forever and Ever. Amen.