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Paying Attention to Jesus in 2008 (A Sermon Series for the New Year) January 13, 2008

Posted by roberttalley in Hebrews, Jesus, Law, Religion, Sermons.


Hebrews 12:18-29


We begin today a series out of Hebrews on “Paying Attention”. There are a number of things that we should pay attention to that are mentioned in this book but the author of this letter makes it clear throughout the whole that we should first and foremost pay attention to Jesus Christ. He begins the book by writing, “God who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets has in these last days spoken to us by His Son” (Hebrews 1:1-2a). He is proclaiming a new age and that new age is built on Jesus Christ.

There is a problem though. There are some in the church who seem to be drawing back from their faith in Christ. We do not have a lot of details about this although it seems that part of the evidence of this drawing back from Christ is the way that they live. In other words, the practical areas of life can indicate to a certain extent what it is that is truly believe.

This drawing back from faith in Christ is described in a lot of ways. The writer says that there is a danger of drifting away from Christ (Hebrews 2:1), of neglecting salvation (2:3). He warns of the danger of a heart of unbelief. He writes that the solution is very clear. He says, “I want you to look at Jesus (12:2). I want to clarify to you some things about Him that are of extreme importance. You need to pay attention to Jesus because once you know Jesus, you will find that there is nothing more that you need.”


We should pay attention to Jesus because He is superior in every way (12:18-24). For example, the presentation of God in the person of Jesus Christ is superior than that of God on Mount Sinai (verses 18-21; compare with Exodus 19:12-19; 20:18-19; Deuteronomy 9:19 with context). God through Moses had brought Israel out of Egypt. Three months later he brought them in the middle of the desert to a mountain. He said in three days I am going to come down in a dark cloud and I am going to speak to you, Moses, so that they will know that you are the leader I have chosen. Tell Israel to consecrate themselves, to wash their clothes, to get ready. Moses, I want you to set boundaries at the base of the mountain. If anyone crosses that boundary, man or beast, put them to death but don’t touch them. You stone them or shoot them through with arrows. When they hear a long, loud trumpet sound, then the people can come near to the mountain.

On the morning of that third day it began to thunder and lightning and a dark cloud appeared on the mountain and a trumpet sounded so loudly that it caused the people to tremble. Moses said, “Let’s go, God wants to speak with me.” They got to the bottom of the mountain and God said, “Moses, come up here.” Moses got to the top of the mountain and said, “Get back down there and warn the people not to come up on this mountain. After you’ve warned them come back and bring Aaron with you.” God then gave Moses and Aaron the ten commandments. All the while there is thunder and lightning and this dark cloud and the trumpet sound and the people said to Moses, “Look, you speak to God. We’re going to back off from this mountain.”

So Moses went alone into the dark cloud after that to speak to God. He later went for forty days and while He was there speaking to God, the Israelites built for themselves a golden calf because that is what they imagined their God to look like. As result of this disobedience to the second commandment, many were killed. Moses, when He saw God’s anger with Israel trembled in fear before God.

Can you imagine what it must have been like to see the power, the glory, and the wrath of God up close and personal? However, the writer of Hebrews points out that we who know the message of Jesus Christ have come face to face with an revelation of God that is superior in every way.


Mount Zion is superior because it is where God dwells. God spent a little time on Mount Sinai but once His presence left the mountain, it was just another mountain. Through Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Messiah of God, Mount Zion has become the place where God has placed His name. It is the place where the eternal city, the eternal dwelling place of God is. You might ask, is He talking about a literal city or a spiritual city. It is both. The better way to phrase it is an eternal city. Mount Zion and the city built on it is where God dwells and those who have put their faith in Christ, dwell and will dwell there also. You see, when you trust Christ as Savior, you abide in Him. You don’t visit God, check in with Him to make sure that everything is alright between you and Him. You live with Him and He with you.


The assembly is also superior. Now there were thousand of angels at Mount Sinai according to Moses in Deuteronomy. God’s chosen people, Israel, were also there. In Jesus Christ, the company that we keep is superior. The angels like God just visited Sinai but the holy angels are in His presence for all eternity. In addition, the true church is also superior to the chosen people, Israel. According to Hebrews 4, most of the adults present died in unbelief in the desert but those who have trusted Christ are born of God, heirs with Christ. In other words, not only are we going to be in the presence of God, we are joint owners with Christ of all that belongs to the presence of God.


The justice and the righteousness in Jesus Christ are also superior. The judgment executed in the desert was fearful but it was primarily physical. The judgment executed by God through Jesus Christ is eternal and it is complete. In the same way, the righteousness provided through Jesus Christ is complete. Nothing needs to be added when one has trusted Christ as Savior.

Finally, we come to Christ Himself. The Mediator at Sinai was a man, Moses, who trembled when he saw the wrath of God. The covenant that Moses mediated was confirmed by the blood of animals. Christ as Mediator is God Himself. He is not God going through a man rather He is God becoming a man and confirming the covenant, not through animal sacrifices but through the sacrifice of His own blood sprinkled and splattered and shed and poured out in His death on the cross providing eternal salvation for all who will believe in Him.


According to verse 25, the blood of Jesus speaks better things than that of Abel. Now this may seem like a strange statement. How can blood speak. Look back if you would to 11:4, “By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks.” The sacrifice that Abel offered to God simply testified that he was righteous. It did not even make him righteous but rather indicated that He was already righteous. The blood of Jesus Christ, the sacrifice of Jesus Christ is better because it makes men and women and young people who trust in Christ, it makes them righteous.


The consequence of refusing Jesus is worse than death (verses 25-26). Death is a horrible thing. As a punishment it is even more horrible. When we practice capital punishment, we are saying, what this person has done is so grave, it is so serious that we are taking away the right of the guilty person to live.

The writer continues to compare Israel under Moses to us who live after the time of Christ’s death, burial, resurrection, and ascension. When Moses came down from the mountain and saw Israel worshiping the golden calf, he called out, “Who is on the Lord’s side?” (Exodus 32:26). At that time, the tribe of Levi came to Moses’ and he commanded them to take their swords and execute those men who were the leaders and participants in the worship of the golden calf. We don’t know how many Levites there were but it was doubtless several thousand men who went through the camp. Out of the 600,000 men of fighting age in the other tribes, they executed 3,000 men. This was a horrible day. No trial, no opportunity to plead mitigating circumstances. The Scriptures says that they went throughout the camp, looking for and finding those who were worthy of death because they refused to obey the second commandment and in doing that refused God. They did not become atheists nor did they follow other God’s but they refused to submit themselves to God’s way, they thought they knew better how to get close to God and they paid for it with their lives.

The writer of Hebrews says if they did not escape in disobeying the second commandment, how much more will the certainty of punishment be if we refuse Jesus Christ as He revealed Himself to the world, the only Son of God who became man to die for our sins. A couple of chapters earlier (chapter 10), he described it this way:


Heb 10:28 Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.

Heb 10:29 Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?


If you reject Jesus Christ, there is no hope for you. Your punishment will be worse than death, that is perhaps why it is called the second death. An eternal lake of fire where one is punished before God is too horrible of a consequence for us to even come up with an adequate word or phrase to describe it.


The reception of Jesus demands service (verse 28)…because His kingdom is eternal (verse 27) and His judgment is certain (verse 29).

The writer continues to compare the time of Moses with our present time. God shook the earth in those days, verifying that an earthly kingdom alone is easily shaken but that an eternal spiritual kingdom to which we enter when we trust Christ as Savior cannot be shaken. Because His kingdom is eternal and unshakeable, we should be motivated to serve that kingdom, to live for something that will last.

“Our God is a consuming fire.” The author has made this point already, repeatedly. Why does he write it again? He wanted those hearing and reading this letter to examine themselves. Am I truly in the faith? If I am, then I need have no fear but it is absolutely essential to know if I am in truly in Christ. It is absolutely essential that we get the truth about Christ correct because if we get that wrong, we will go to the lake of fire to be punished forever according to the Scriptures.


You need to anchor your being to Jesus Christ. You need to be absolutely convinced that Jesus is the only way to salvation and purpose in this life and in the life to come. If you are not sure, then you come to me. I and others in the congregation will make it a priority to teach you about Jesus Christ. If you are sure, then you need sometime in the next week to tell those with whom you go to school and with whom you work, “I am a Christian! I am a follower of Christ!” They need to hear about Jesus from someone if they do not hear of Him from you, from whom will they hear of Him. You need though to anchor yourself to Jesus Christ and tell those with whom you have daily contact that you are a follower of Christ. Then you need to invite them to youth group or to Sunday morning church. Stand for Jesus. You will get questions. We will help you with those questions. Be convinced in your mind though that there is no one but Jesus Christ worthy of your devotion and follow Him openly and publicly.


If Jesus is better in every way then He requires a response. There are two possibilities mentioned in this passage, “refuse” or “receive“. How will you respond.

One thing about Jesus. You must receive Him to have hope for this life and the life to come. If you refuse Him there is no escape for you. The blood that He offers for you provides a covenant relationship for you with God for all eternity. Only Christ, our Mediator who sacrificed Himself can provide covenant for you. Receive Him today.

How God Reveals Himself in the Old Testament Through Jesus Christ August 12, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Bible, Character, False Teachers, Inspiration, Law, Matthew, Messiah, Promises of God, Prophets, Religion, Righteousness, Sermon on the Mount, Sermons, Special Revelation.


Did Jesus Contradict the Old Testament?

Matthew 5:17-20

Last Sunday I was asked about an apparent contradiction between the Old Testament command to stone false prophets and the command that Jesus gave in John 8:1-11 that those who were without sin should cast the first stone. This is such an important question that Jesus Himself in His most famous sermon, the Sermon on the Mount, addressed this issue of His relationship to the Old Testament.

One of the earliest accusations against Jesus was that He opposed the Law of Moses. Now if this was true then He should have been stoned according to the Law. In fact, in John 10:30-39 when Jesus told them that He was one with the Father, making Himself to be God, they tried to stone Him but Jesus escaped from them.

So today, we are going to see what Jesus has to say in his defense to the accusation that He tried to correct the Old Testament law.


Jesus says, “Listen to me and be convinced” (verse 17). The gospel of Matthew is the only one of the gospels written specifically with Jews in mind. The Jews of that day were divided about the Messiahship of Jesus Christ. Many believed and followed him, many others did not, but there was a number of Jews who wanted to believe but needed more evidence. Just as there are questions of doubt in these days, there were questions of doubt in those days.

Jesus said to the doubters, “Think outside of the box! Do not jump to conclusions based on the normal way of thinking. Listen to me and see if I am telling you the truth. Do not suppose you know the answer. Listen and think!”


We have an excellent example of this in the story of the woman who was to be stoned. John 8:6 says they brought the woman to Him to ask what they should do. Now there were Jewish courts for such a trial but they had decided to see if they could trap Jesus into contradicting Moses. Also, although apparently the woman was guilty, the man with whom she had been caught was not brought before Jesus. These men were obviously not interested in keeping the Law but rather in entrapping Jesus. Jesus could have easily said, “Stone her!” He would have been within His rights. In fact, He did say stone her but He did it in a way that was definitely outside of the box. He said to the men, “He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone.”

These fellows knew each other. They knew what kind of men they were. Suddenly they lost interest in the case. Beginning from the oldest to the youngest they walked away. They had been exposed. After they left, Jesus said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Where are the witnesses against you?” She said, “I have no accusers!” At that, Jesus wiped the dust off His hands and said, “I cannot condemn you unless you have accusers. You may go but do not sin anymore.”

This is a good example of how Jesus thought outside the box and He wants us to do so as we examine Him. He wants us to think, of course, but He does not want us to think the way the world does but with spiritual thinking, thinking which is outside of the box of our humanity.


Jesus then said, “I did not come to take the house of God down.” That is what that word “destroy” means. “I did not come disassemble God’s Word.”

Jesus then said, “I came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets.” I came to move in new furniture. Look at my life, look at my teaching! There is not one thing that I do or teach that takes away from the Law (the first five books of Moses) or the Prophets (which is the rest of the Old Testament). I did come though to add meaning and clarity.


Jesus says, “Listen to the Old Testament and be assured (verses 18). The Old Testament is an established standard by which to measure Jesus.

Almost every Easter and Christmas we hear expressions of doubt about the truth. We have heard about the DaVinci Code, the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Judas, the gravestone which supposedly has Jesus’ name on it. Although we may not appreciate these expressions of doubt, they are crucial. They are “…crucial… because on the surface there seems to be no great difference between Christianity and the religions of the world. They have great leaders… and so do we. They have written Scriptures . . . and so do we. They have miracle stories . . . and so do we. They have high ethical standards . . . and so do we. They have a long and rich history . . . and so do we.

One might ask, ‘How can I know which religion is the right one?’ That’s a fair question. The average person today faces a… supermarket of religions from which to choose. He sees the well-stocked shelves and wonders, ‘Which one should I choose?’ There is only one problem. All the bottles have been poisoned except one. How can he find that one right, pure and safe bottle?” (RAY PRITCHARD)

The Old Testament is our answer. If Jesus can knowingly attempt to fulfill every letter of every page of every book of every section of the Old Testament, then we have a way to judge if He is really who He said He is.

The Old Testament points to the coming of a specific person. That is one of the key messages of the Old Testament. Jesus reveals Himself to be that person. Jesus fulfilled completely the book written about Him, the Old Testament. This book was completed four hundred years before His birth. Others before and after Him claimed to be the fulfillment of the Old Testament but only Jesus has fulfilled the holy book written about him.

No other man can make such a claim.


Mohammed wrote the Koran to correct the Bible not to fulfill it. He claimed inspiration but he could not claim to fulfill the written prophecies of the Old or New Testaments.

Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible but he was not the fulfillment of one word of Holy Scripture.

Buddha wrote many words and like Jesus challenged others to evaluate his words but he never fulfilled the written prophecies of others.

Confucius wrote but like the others could never point to other holy writings and legitimately claim that he fulfilled them.

Jesus Christ said in John 5:39-47, “Search the Scriptures! They speak of me. If you believe Moses, you will believe Me because he wrote of Me. There is no other case in all of history where you can take a book and then take a person hundreds of years in the future and say, “This is about Him,” but in the Old Testament you can.


Jesus says, “Look at the False Teachers and be instructed (verse 19). “Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments…” – Every person is responsible before God because of the truth of the Old Testament. If Jesus had not yet come, or if He had come but God had chosen not to give us the New Testament, we would still be responsible to God based on the Old Testament. It is the inspired Word of God.


Verse 19 – “…and teaches them so…but whoever does and teaches them…” Jesus is saying that you cannot separate doctrine and deed. If in your teaching you cause someone to break “one of the least of these commandments…” you will find yourself on the bottom of the spiritual pecking order, last in the kingdom of God.


Finally, Jesus says, “Look to Yourselves and be warned” (verse 20). The authority for the warning comes from the phrase, “For I say to you…” How did Jesus get this authority? – Look back at verse 17. By fulfilling the Law and the Prophets. From whom did He get this authority? – Look at Matthew 7:21. He got His authority from God. Continually in the Sermon on the Mount He repeats the phrase, “I say unto you…” After awhile one might ask Himself the question, “Who does this Jesus think He is?” In Matthew 7:21 He tells us. He is Lord, and whoever obeys Him is doing the will of the Father.

The Purpose of the Warning (…unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees…) Their lives were to reflect true righteousness which can only be found in following Jesus Christ. He goes on to teach them what to do. There is a huge difference between teaching righteousness and being righteous. Jesus was demanding that they become righteous by following Him, by becoming His disciple. Becoming a disciple speaks of a personal relationship to the teacher. This is what these fellows had. Of course, obedience is the natural result of being a disciple but you still have to learn what obedience means and that was what Jesus was teaching the disciples. First of all, that they might obey and secondly that they might be different from those who only taught righteousness but did not practice it themselves.

When God presents us with truth, He expects us to do something with that truth. Jesus presented in this sermon the truth of His Messiahship. He expected them to live accordingly. He expects the same from you.


He, however, will have nothing to do with you…unless…unless you put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ alone as the Savior of your eternal soul. This message is eternal but useless without trusting Christ as your Savior. Judas heard the same message as the rest of the disciples but he lived for earthly things. Yes, it was a temptation for the other disciples also but Judas was the only one that stepped over that line and said, “I’m driving my stakes down right here. I am living for this world. This kingdom that Jesus keeps promising, never comes. I’m going to get while the getting is good.” That’s why he could so easily betray Jesus.

You have the opportunity to become a disciple. Look at the claims Jesus makes for Himself and decide to follow Him and live or turn and go your own way. Whether you trust Him or not, He holds your future and you can enter His kingdom but you must trust Him and Him alone. He died for you according to the Old Testament Scriptures, He was buried, He rose again according to the Old Testament Scriptures, and He ascended on high to the Father’s throne (according to Psalm 2:7 and Hebrews 1:3-6) but you must turn to Him and to Him alone for salvation.


Believer, are you living for Christ or are you just talking. Do you mouth the right words or do you live as you know Jesus wants you to. You may not know everything you are supposed to do to honor God but are you doing what you do know?

Some of you are struggling with doubts. You wonder if you are saved, if God really loves you, if you are good enough to please God. Are you going to live in the assurance established by the Old Testament Scriptures? They will never pass away. They will be fulfilled. Jesus Christ will do that. If you are in Him, in Jesus Christ, then you are just as assured of heaven as God’s Word is settled for all eternity.

Are you going to live, conscience of Christ’s commands everywhere you go? If you do, are you going to obey those commands. If you look in these chapters you will find the command to love your enemy, to forgive, to have confidence in God, the command to be pure, the command to be honest, the command to pray, the command not to judge, the command not to be proud, the command to live a mature and godly life. Will you live like your king or will you live like Judas for this world?

Links to Sermons on Matthew 5:17-20 August 10, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Bible, Inspiration, Law, Matthew, Promises of God, Prophets, Religion, Righteousness, Sermon on the Mount, Sermons.

Three Sermons from Arthur Pink.  I’m going to try to cover this passage in one 🙂




Not a well-known name but this is an excellent sermon on this text:


And from Ligon Duncan