The Gospel Observer

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations...teaching them to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19,20).
April 22, 2012


1) "Consider Jesus" (Tom Edwards)
2) News & Notes


"Consider Jesus"
by Tom Edwards

In Hebrews 3:1, the following exhortation is given that is just as important for Christians today as for those whom the Hebrew writer was addressing about 1,945 years ago: "Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession[.]"

Of all people or things to consider, what could be more important and lead to greater benefits than to give thought to who Jesus is, to what He has done, to what He continues to do -- and, in view of that, to hearken to what He requires of us?  For to think on Jesus is to think on God, since Christ is the "exact representation" of God the Father's nature (Heb. 1:3); and in Christ, "all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form" (Col. 2:9).  Therefore, to know Jesus is to know God (Jn. 14:7; Jn. 1:1-3, 14).  In view of this, we should give serious intent toward focusing on Jesus.  For the Greek word for "consider" (katanoeo) not only means to "observe" and "understand," but also "to consider attentively, fix one's eyes or mind upon" (Thayer).  Of course, even the English word primarily means "to think carefully about...contemplate, ponder" (Random House Webster's Electronic Dictionary and Thesaurus).  So it denotes much more than to merely give a cursory glance to.  Rather, we are to look wholeheartedly to the Lord.  And though this is always important, it was especially needful for the Hebrew writer's readership to see of all the greater and better things of the New Covenant that Christ has made possible; and that they would, therefore, also realize the futility and senselessness in going back to the Old Covenant and its "shadows" (which would cause one to be "severed from Christ" and fall from grace, according to Galatians 5:4). 

In considering Jesus as our great "High Priest," we don't think of a lamb that He offered on our behalf; but, instead, His own life, which was necessary toward atoning for sin and enabling Him to be our High Priest in heaven.  Now, because He has accomplished that, we can also do as the Hebrews were instructed: "Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.  For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.  Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need" (Heb. 4:14-16).  

William Barclay points out that "The Latin for a priest is pontifex, which means a Bridge-builder.  The priest built a bridge between man and God."  How true this is of Jesus Christ who has become that metaphorical bridge that can link humanity with Deity; and the only One who can do so, according to 1 Timothy 2:5: "For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus."   Going along with this, Jesus declares, "...'I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me'" (Jn. 14:6).  

The Hebrew writer had also exhorted the brethren to consider Jesus as "the Apostle." Simply put, the term "apostle" means "one sent."  So just as Jesus had selected those twelve (and later a couple more) to send into the world as His apostles, even so, the Father had carried out the same with Jesus, which the Lord has expressed in His prayer in John 17:18: "As Thou didst send Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world."  And not only did the Lord pray specifically for the apostles (vv. 15-19), but, afterwards, for "...those also who believe in Me through their [the apostles'] word" (vv. 20-21).  Being a witness for Jesus Christ, the apostle John also acknowledges, in referring to himself and the other apostles, "We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world" (1 Jn. 4:14).  

In Jewish terminology, "apostle" was used to describe envoys (messengers) of the Sanhedrin.  They were granted the Sanhedrin's authority and were bearers of their commands.  In the Greek world, it can often mean an "ambassador," which is also the term (though from a different Greek word) that is used in referring to the role of the apostles in 2 Corinthians 5:20: "Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God."

The Hebrew writer then continues with setting forth something else to also consider about Jesus: "He was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was in all His house" (Heb. 3:2).  Never was one more faithful than the Lord.  For who among men could also say as Jesus does in John 8:29, "And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him"?  Note the word "always."  The Lord never failed to obey -- and even to the point of intense suffering and death. Consider, for instance, these following passages:

"I gave My back to those who strike Me, And My cheeks to those who pluck out the beard; I did not cover My face from humiliation and spitting" (Isa. 50:6).

Also, Hebrews 12:1-4, where again instruction is given to focus on Jesus: "Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart. You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin[.]"

And Philippians 2:5-11: "Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.  And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.  Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE SHOULD BOW, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

Though likened to Moses, the Lord, of course, was far superior to him -- just as a builder is viewed as being greater than what he builds.  Going back to Hebrews 3, the writer then states: "For He has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, by just so much as the builder of the house has more honor than the house.  For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God" (vv. 3,4).  

Jesus truly is the builder in the sense of being the Creator.  And, therefore, even that which man can make, none of that would be possible had it not been for the Lord: For "All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being" (Jn. 1:3).  

However, not only creation, but what about God's house today?  Jesus has built that, too; and it is the church  (cf. Matt. 16:18).  For example, in explaining one of the reasons for his epistle to Timothy, Paul declares, "but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth" (1 Tim. 3:15).  

Note, too, the connection we now see between this house and Jesus being the great High Priest: "Since therefore, brethren, we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water" (Heb. 10:19-22).  And, of course, in Christ being a High Priest "over the house of God," that is referring to the people of God.  For, according to 1 Peter 2:5, "you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ."  Paul expresses it this way: "So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God's household, having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together is growing into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit" (Eph. 2:19-22).  It is not the apostles and prophets themselves; but, rather, their  message of Jesus that the church is built upon.  For no other foundation could meet God's requirements (1 Cor. 3:11).   

In 1 Corinthians 3:16,17, Paul also speaks of the church as being a "temple."  For he says, "Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are."  The "you" in this passage is in the plural.  So Paul is referring to the church.  Though in 1 Corinthians 6:19, he also speaks of the Christian's body as being a "temple of the Holy Spirit."  I also find it interesting to note that there are two different Greek words that are both translated as "temple" in the New Testament ("hieros" and "naos").  "Hieros" can include the frequented outer courts of the temple (and seen in distinction from "naos"), while "naos" refers to "the most holy place" of the temple, also known as "the holy of holies," which the high priest entered only one day out of the entire year, the Day of Atonement, and where God is said to have dwelt above the mercy seat.  It is this word "naos" that is used to refer to the church and the Christian's body as being a "temple" of God and, therefore, expresses a very intimate relationship that the Lord has with His people.  It is holy and spiritual and needs to be maintained.  Consider, for instance, the warning in Hebrews 12:14,15: "Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:  Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled...."   Though we are in the world, we are not to be given over to the sinful things of the world.  Notice how this is expressed in 2 Corinthians 6:14-18: "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.  Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty."

So rather than being influenced by the world toward evil, let us "consider Jesus" and be motivated to live a life of righteousness and find encouragement through the knowledge of Him to overcome the sinful allurements of this world, the trials that test our faith, and to keep on that narrow path that leads to heaven above.


News & Notes

The Southside church of Christ in Gonzales, Louisiana, will be having a gospel meeting April 27-29 with Chris Reeves as the guest speaker.  The church meets at 405 W. Orice Roth Road.  The Friday and Saturday services will begin at 7 PM; and the Sunday services will start at 9:30 AM, 10:30 AM, and 6 PM.

The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17;  John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).

Park Forest

9923 Sunny Cline Dr., Baton Rouge, LA  70817
Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 6 PM (worship)
Tuesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (225) 667-4520
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/go (Gospel Observer website)
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)