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"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)

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  • « Reformation Society of Oregon - January 18th Meeting | Main | Just so we are clear... by John Samson »

    The Superiority of the New Covenant Blessings Consists Entirely in the Coming of the Son of God

    In his letter to the Hebrews, the author goes to some lengths to describe the superior position, and the many greater blessings and assurances, that God's people enjoy today, which their fathers did not possess to nearly so great a degree; and everywhere throughout the letter, he makes considerable effort to show how that superior position is founded upon the coming of an eminently superior person, and in consequence of the eminently superior office which he has entered into. In the first four verses of his letter, which in the original comprise a single introductory sentence, he accordingly lays out the basic premise which will take the rest of the letter to unfold, viz., that God has never dealt so well with the saints before the coming of Christ as he has with those who lived afterward; and that the coming of Christ itself is the sole factor by which this latter superiority of blessedness has come about. From these verses, we may derive the two following heads of doctrine:

    1. That the dispensation and gifts of God to mankind are better in this age than in all ages previous, by as much as that which is perfect is better than that which is desultory and incomplete;

    2. That the sole reason for this culminative advance in blessedness is the coming of the eternal Son of God, and his entering into his redemptive office.

    Both of these propositions in turn we will now demonstrate by an examination of the text before us.

    Proposition One: That the dispensation and gifts of God to mankind are better in this age than in all ages previous, by as much as that which is perfect is better than that which is desultory and incomplete.

    In any cursory examination of the histories of Israel, it is a most obvious truth that she was a nation particularly blessed, and set apart from all other nations of the world by virtue of the many privileges and dispensations of grace granted to her. Thus it is said that God had “chosen [her] to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. ” (Deuteronomy 7:6). In consequence of that special selection, he had rebuked kings and nations because of her, and destroyed all who opposed her, leading her out from bondage in Egypt and dispossessing many peoples in order that he might give to her the promised land of Canaan. Moreover, God had condescended to reveal himself to Israel alone, in great and fearful glory upon Mount Sinai; to entrust to her his own words and oracles, through the hand of Moses and the prophets; to place his name upon Jerusalem alone, where in fact he was said to dwell, inhabiting the most holy place of the temple between the cherubim; and to grant a means through which this sinful people might approach him, in the blood sacrifices he had enjoined upon them and the priestly class he had provided to offer them up as a pleasing savor to God. Because of these manifold blessings, it was properly said of her, “Happy are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the LORD, the shield of your help, and the sword of your triumph! Your enemies shall come fawning to you, and you shall tread upon their backs."” (Deuteronomy 33:29); and again, “And who is like your people Israel, the one nation on earth whom God went to redeem to be his people, making himself a name and doing for them great and awesome things by driving out before your people, whom you redeemed for yourself from Egypt, a nation and its gods? ” (2 Samuel 7:23).

    So it is certain that, before the coming of Christ, Israel possessed many blessings by which she was set apart from all the nations, and in a much superior position to that of any other people; but it is no less true that the sum of those distinctive privileges and blessings consisted of God's condescending to speak to her, and thereby to reveal his nature, provide instruction as to what was holy and acceptable to him, and show the way of mercy and pardon for all who would be forgiven and brought again into his favor. This is why the apostle Paul, when speaking of that by which Israel was in a more favorable position than all the Gentiles, puts the matter thus: “What advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision? Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God.” (Romans 3:1-2).

    So then, Israel of old was supremely blessed in relation to all other peoples; and this blessedness consisted primarily in God's speaking to her; but as we look at our text, we must observe that this blessedness, as great as it was, was imperfect and incomplete, and hence inferior to the blessedness now entered into by the people of God in this age. To which end, we will now consider that

    1. The old position of the people of God was inferior to what it might have been.

    We may see, immediately upon reading the first verses of the letter to the Hebrews, that the condition of Israel of old, while very blessed in relation to all other peoples, was not so blessed as to lack room for any greater degree of blessedness. For we observe first of all, that the old order of things, particularly as it involved God's speaking to his people (that in which their blessed state predominantly consisted) was manifestly imperfect with respect to its inherent quality. When we read, “In many parts and in many ways, God who has spoken of old by the prophets, etc.,” that phrase “in many ways,” demonstrates that no one way had been fully and perfectly suitable in and of itself to reveal God's will perfectly. If God had ever expressed himself as completely as he desired in one way alone, he would have had no need to use any other way of speaking, in order further to clarify his message, or to add further information, or else to emphasize one or another specific truth more fully. However, throughout the Old Testament, we see that God never confined himself to one way of speaking, but rather revealed his word through many different means, such as in dreams (e.g. Genesis 41:25-32), in visions (e.g. Ezekiel 1), by an audible voice (e.g. 1 Kings 19:11-13), through angels (e.g. Luke 1:11-20), in his arrangement of historical circumstances (e.g. Genesis 25:22-23), in supernatural manifestations (e.g. Exodus 15:19), in the use of the urim and thummim (e.g. Ezra 2:62-63), in handwriting upon the wall or upon tablets of stone (e.g. Exodus 31:18; Daniel 5:5, 24-28), and by many other different things beside. Each one of these diverse ways worked together to reveal God's will; and hence it necessarily follows that no one of them was perfect and complete in itself.

    Second, the old position of the people of God was inferior in that it was ever incomplete with respect to the things signified and expected. Thus, we see in our text that God had spoken “in many parts,” by which is meant, “at many different times,” and which in itself involves an implicit denial that any final or all-inclusive revelation had come at any one occasion, or else the need for his speaking at another time would have been precluded; and in addition, God's speaking is said to be “by the prophets”. Now then, it is first of all evident through this expression that no one person or means of revelation was ever final, or ever contained the full sum of what God desired to convey to his people, because there was never an end to them, but throughout Israel's history, no sooner had one judge or prophet died, than another sprang up to take his place. Just as the constant offering of sacrifices proved the essential inefficacy of that which was offered (cf. Hebrews 10:1-14), so the constant arising of prophets signified the essential incompleteness of what God was saying through them. There ever wanted a pre-eminent prophet, who should issue God's full and perfect message once and for all, and so put an end to the revelatory ministry of the prophets, or rather swallow it all up in his own perfect declaration. This final and superior prophet was foreshadowed by the ministry of Moses, and indeed predicted by him (see Deuteronomy 18:15-19); but in Israel's history, he had never come. Until he did, Israel's blessed position, with respect to her reception of God's Word, was most evidently incomplete.

    But not only is the incompleteness of the prophetic message signified by the constant addition of new revelations and prophecies; it is, moreover, most apparently demonstrated by the nature of the prophecies themselves, which look always ahead to some more perfect thing, and long for the time when the current state of things should be swallowed up in something better, which God had prepared. So it is said that the former prophecies, which came in many ways and in many parts, God had spoken “of old,” or “formerly”. By using this description, the author makes it clear that the revelations given to Israel were of themselves suitable for a time only, and looked ahead to a new age in which the old would be done away (cf. Hebrews 8:13). Thus Abraham, who wandered as a pilgrim in the land of promise, looked for a better city (Hebrews 11:10); and indeed, all those in Israel who were of faith, “died...not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. ” (Hebrews 11:13). And a little later it is also said that these all “did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.” (Hebrews 11:39-40). So then, the time of the Old Testament saints, as blessed as it was, was yet characterized by an incompleteness, and looked ahead with great longing to an even more blessed day, in which God's will would be made known perfectly, and his promises fulfilled unexceptionally. God had spoken to the fathers at many times, and not once for all; in many ways, and not through one perfect means; of old, and not at the end of the ages; by the prophets, and not by one flawless and infinite Person. And so we see that, as blessed as was the condition of God's people in former times, there was left much room for something better; which leads us to our next point, that

    2. The new condition of the people of God is so superior to what it had been, as not to admit of any possible improvement

    While the old condition of the people of God, and the status of his revelation to them, was imperfect with respect to its inherent quality; yet their new condition, after the coming of Christ, became most evidently perfect, and admits of no improvement: it contains, in fact, so great an expression of the revelation of God, that none more perfect could ever be imagined. We see this largely by way of contrast with what had come formerly: God had spoken to the fathers many times: he spoke to us with but one Word; he spoke to them of old; he has spoken to us in these last days; he spoke to them by many prophets and in many ways; he spoke to us by his Son. Let us consider these points in some more detail.

    First, the new condition of the people of God is utterly perfect, so as to admit of no improvement. When God spoke through the prophets there was always room for more to be spoken, and for a better declaration of his will and his person to come about; and it is manifest that this should be the case, because as God is infinite in his being and wisdom, only an infinite message could fully declare him; and the prophets, although they were inspired by the Holy Spirit, and thus inerrant in all that they wrote and unfailingly wise in discerning the most appropriate and timely messages to convey, were nonetheless human messengers, and so bound by finitude; and likewise they were speaking in human language, which is incapable of exhaustively revealing the fullness of the divine perfections. But when God spoke in these last days, he spoke through a Word which was equally infinite and wise as God, and thus capable of declaring him fully and finally. Although God had revealed himself in limited ways in the past, so that the back parts, as it were, of his glory were seen, in his last great act of self-revelation, he revealed the full radiance of his glory. Thus the Apostle John speaks of the Word who was eternally with God, and who indeed was God. This Word took on flesh and “tabernacled” among us, so that men were able to see the glory of God, whereas before no man, Moses not excepted, had truly seen God in so glorious a fashion. In fact, the contrast is so great, that it is said of this latter Word, in contrast to the words which Moses brought, that he alone revealed grace and truth. In summing up this revelatory ministry of the living Word, John says of him that he has “declared” God (see John 1:1-18). The way in which he has declared him, bringing the fullness of the Godhead, and every various and glorious attribute of the divine, to a visible, bodily form, and displaying all in a perfect life, substitutionary death, and victorious resurrection, is so great a revelation, that it is a truly perfect display of all the infinitely glorious character of God, and hence, unlike the prophetic revelations of old, admits of no improvement.

    The new condition of God's people is likewise perfectly superior, not just in the perfection of the message given to them, but in the perfect nature of the agent of that message, who is the only begotten Son of God, and not just one of a vast assortment of prophets; as our text states, “God...has spoken by his Son”. When any good end or effect requires two or more causes or agents to bring it into being, it stands to reason that neither one of them is so perfect as not to admit of improvement, for if either stood alone, it would not be sufficient for the goal. But Jesus Christ is fully sufficient in himself to declare God to his people, and to assure their eternal blessedness, even as he testifies in the gospel of John, “I have manifested your name to those whom you have given me out of the world” (John 17:6). And so Jesus, the sole agent of God's latter revelation, is perfect and complete in himself, unlike the prophets, none of whom was able to convey God's entire plan or personal perfections alone.

    Second, we see that the new condition of the blessedness of God's people is fully complete, so as to allow for no subsequent revelation that should bring any further blessings. The earlier prophets, as we have seen, not only allowed for the possibility of subsequent revelation, but most firmly demanded it, and were quite certainly incomplete until the promised Son of God should come. They anticipated a great many blessings that they did not have, and hoped for a great deal more light, when they were still in shadows. But God spoke through the Son, not “of old,” but “in these last days,” which indicates that his arrival placed a capstone upon the redemptive eras of God, so that no good thing could ever be added to what had already been accomplished. When God spoke to us by his Son, he spoke into existence every good thing which we could ever imagine, and more yet, so that for all eternity we will be delighted anew with wonders afresh, and never grow weary of what we possess. There is no good thing in all the universe which we have not already been given, for we have been given the Son of God, who is the eternal Word.

    Now, before we move on to our next proposition, we must clear up a difficulty which may arise, involving the ongoing state of pain and travail that we must endure even in these last days, and the need for further teaching, both in the early days after the Son of God had already come, when the apostles penned further inspired and revelatory material, and also today, when the teaching ministry still retains a powerful and necessary place in the Church. The difficulty is this: if the coming of the Son of God brought to us every good thing and a final and perfect revelation of God's person and divine counsel, then why should we still lack good things, for which we must earnestly entreat the Father; and why should the New Testament writings and further teachings have been necessary after his arrival and ministry? The answer is that, although we have been given every good thing in the heavenly places in Christ, and are true and eternal possessors of all things even now, yet we must follow in Christ's example, and labor for a time under deprivation and suffering, before we enter the full enjoyment of those things we already possess. Jesus in his life on earth still possessed all the attributes and prerogatives of his divinity, but he refused to exercise them for his own benefit, as when he would not turn the stones into bread when tempted in the desert; but now, his time of humiliation having ended, he is enjoying in full those privileges which he always possessed. When we walk this same path, suffering joyfully even though our eternal possession decries all suffering and puts an end to any imperfection, then we are able to know Christ in a more intimate and experiential way, just as the apostle cries out in Philippians 3:10-11, “That I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead”. In this way, we grow in the enjoyment of the perfect gift we have already been given; and whereas the Word by whom God has spoken in these last days is full and perfect and admits of no improvement, yet our own understanding of that Word wants instruction to grow up unto perfection, which again is the prayer of the apostle, “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, etc.” (Ephesians 1:17).

    Proposition Two: That the sole reason for this culminative advance in blessedness is the coming of the eternal Son of God, and his entering into his redemptive office.

    The vast superiority in the blessed condition of the saints in this age to that of the fathers, can only be explained by a very drastic and inexhaustible change for the better in the agency of divine revelation. This we have already seen, in that the new Word of God is as much better than the prophecies of old as the very Son of God is better than the shadowy glimpses upon which the Old Testament believers were sustained. As we continue to examine the introduction to the letter to the Hebrews, we will begin to see wherein this vast superiority consists, and just how thoroughly God's final revelation by his Son is fitted to the end which we have been examining. Let us note: the Son of God is perfectly suited to bring about the perfect and complete state of blessedness which we have been examining, by virtue of his infinite, eternal glory, and his acquired, eminent status. He is uniquely fitted to reveal God to man both because of his divine and infinite essence, and because of his perfect mediatorial and redemptive office. We will observe first that

    1. Jesus is the almighty God from eternity, but became the Redeemer of men in time.

    Immediately after asserting that God has spoken to us in these last days by a Son, the author goes on to describe this Son in some detail, so that we might know in fuller measure by just how great a degree this last revelation exceeded all which came before. The first description we have of him is that God made him “the heir of all things, through whom also he made the universe (or the ages)”. In this description we see, first of all, that the Son was the eternal Creator, the One through whom the universe came into being; and furthermore, as we might gather from that expression “the ages,” the One through whom God's entire design for all of history from beginning to end actually comes about. This designation at once exalts him high above any position as merely the first and greatest of God's creatures, for he himself is the one through whom all things were created. Just as the apostle Paul elsewhere asserts, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:15-17). As the almighty Creator, and hence the eternal God, Jesus, the Son of God, must therefore have all the divine rights and privileges which naturally adhere to the Godhead, including the rightful possession of all things.

    But if the Son already possessed all things by his own inherent rights as God, then in what sense could it have been said that God made him the heir of all things? He must have become an heir of something which he did not have before God spoke to us by him, even though prior to that time he already enjoyed all the authority of the eternal Godhead. What could that acquired possession have been?

    The answer must be, that he acquired the new office of Redeemer, Mediator, and Savior of God's people, and he came into the possession of a people of his favor, who had formerly been his enemies and children of wrath. This is the heart of the unique and satisfying glory of Christ: he is God, and possesses all the glorious and terrible attributes of God; but he is also man, and possesses all the meek and lowly attributes of a perfect and unspotted man. Because of this, he alone is fitted to be the sole Mediator between God and men, and he has managed to do what by all accounts should have been impossible to do: he has managed to acquire a new glory and a new possession which had never before belonged properly to the Godhead. This is precisely what the apostle Paul explains to us, that although Jesus already existed in the form of God, yet by humbling himself, he won an added glory which he did not have before, and was given a new name to be joined to his eternal name, the Lord Yahweh: which is the comfortable name Jesus, the Savior, before whom every knee shall one day bow (see Philippians 2:5-11). Then again, Jesus through his redemptive work has also more perfectly won the right to judge all those who reject his final self-sacrifice, and so he is called the man by whom God will one day judge the world, and said to be the Lord of the living and the dead (see Acts 17:31; Romans 14:9). This is why it is said of him that he is the One in whom all things are summed up, that is, all the fullness of the Godhead, and all the divine purposes and plans for redemption, and all the rewards which that redemption won, namely glory and dominion over a redeemed people, and the right to judge the wicked, etc. (see Ephesians 1:10).

    Now, consider how perfectly these joint characteristics of the Son of God are fitted for our full and final state of blessedness: if he were not fully God, he could not perfectly reveal God to us, the knowledge of whom is our eternal life and joy (see John 17:3); neither could he have been strong enough to bring us back to God, nor great enough to satisfy us for all eternity, nor infinite enough to propitiate God's endless wrath against our sins. But if he had not taken upon himself the new and comfortable glory of his perfect mediatorial offices, he could never have reconciled us to God, who were by nature his enemies, nor revealed God's nature to us in a form that we could understand, as weak and lowly as are our human sensibilities. But for now, we must move on to our next point.

    2. Jesus' eternal divinity and acquired mediatorial office work for the perfect blessedness of his people by fully revealing God to them.

    The next description we see of the Son in our text is this: “who, being the radiance of his glory, and the exact representation of his essence...”. In this expression, we see just how it is possible that the Son by whom God has finally spoken, should be a Word infinitely suited to reveal God in all his perfections to his people. For first of all, he is the radiance of the glory of God. Now this signifies that, everything which God is, Christ shows forth most excellently in his own person. Just as the sunlight is the radiation coming forth from the sun, and both possesses and gloriously sheds abroad all which the sun truly is, so Christ possesses in himself every various attribute of deity, and radiates it abroad. Thus the apostle John says, “In him was life, and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4). Now, some have said that this term “radiance” more properly signifies reflection, as if Christ's human nature reflected the light of deity which shone forth from the Father; but it is rather more likely that the matter stands as explained above, that the Son himself is the source of the divine glory which his advent has revealed to mankind, inasmuch as he is in himself very God, and radiates that which properly belongs to himself. However, we will not deny that the idea is true, that Christ in his human nature reflected the image of the Godhead, for that is essentially the meaning of our next phrase.

    Second, Jesus' perfectly reveals God to his people, by taking the very essence of divinity, and stamping it upon a human nature, which is a medium most perfectly adapted to be understood by men. This is what it means that the Son was “the exact representation of his essence”; for that term “exact representation” signifies the character brought about by the impress of a stamp upon a soft medium such as wax or clay, so that the image left in the clay corresponds precisely to the stamp which impressed it. So Jesus was in possession of all the essential attributes of divinity, and when he took on human flesh, he stamped upon it, through his perfect life and ministry, all of those godly attributes in their precise nature. Thus the apostle says of him that, “in him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9). Now consider how perfectly fitted this makes the Son to reveal God to his people: for he is an inexhaustible and unerring source of every divine perfection; and he has brought this inexhaustible knowledge down to a medium which weak and lowly men are able to perceive, and which is most natural to them. So the eternal, divine nature of the Son works together with his taking on human flesh in time, and entering into his redemptive office, in order to reveal God most perfectly to his people, and thus assure their eternal blessedness.

    3. Jesus' eternal divinity and acquired mediatorial office work for the perfect blessedness of his people by fitting them to come to God.

    It would have been no source of eternal joy for the Son merely to have revealed God to sinful men, and then left them in their natural condition. To do so would have been to terrify and overwhelm them, and not at all to work for their greater and perfect blessedness. Therefore, our next phrases add a most necessary and felicitous element to what we have already been examining: “...and holding up all things by the word of his power, having made a purification for sins...”. Again, we see in these two phrases the diverse glory of this man Jesus, who, in his activity as the divine, eternal Son continually upholds all things by his word, and in his activity in his acquired office of redeemer makes purification for sins.

    First, we see that the Son not only exists from all eternity as God, but he ever exercises his authority in those things which pertain to his divine dignity. We have already seen that, as God, Jesus is the Creator: but more than that, in the activity which continually proceeds forth from his divinity, he sustains all the universe by the word of his power. Now, this tells us that there is indeed an economy or work which flows naturally from the essential nature of the Godhead: because God is, God does; and what he does is always congruent with what he is. Now, because Jesus, with regard to his eternal, divine nature, is the Creator, he is constantly engaged in that activity which pertains to his essential nature as Creator, and upholds all things; which is also what we read elsewhere, that “in him, all things have their subsistence” (Colossians 1:17).

    Now, just as there is an activity which pertains to Jesus' divine eternal nature, which he is unceasingly engaged in, so there is an activity which pertains to his acquired mediatorial office, and this also he has perfectly accomplished. In this matter, as well, we are in a much better condition than the saints of old; for they were constantly engaged in the work of the levitical priesthood, and ceaselessly offering up blood sacrifices which could never make their consciences clean; but in these last days, Jesus has made a full and perfect offering for sins (see Hebrews 10:1-14). So it is that, even though God's people of old could not see the fullness of his glory, yet when they got a glimpse, they were terrified; even as Isaiah cried out when he saw the lord of Hosts, “Woe is me! for I am undone: because I am a man of unclean lips, etc.” (Isaiah 6:5). But now we, although we have seen God more perfectly than Isaiah, are encouraged to come boldly before the throne of grace, because Jesus has entered into his mediatorial office, and is constantly engaged in an effective intercession for us, which is founded upon the once-for-all purification that he has made for sins in the sacrifice of himself (see Hebrews 4:14-16).

    4. Jesus' eternal divinity and acquired mediatorial office work for the perfect blessedness of his people by bringing his ministry to final completion.

    We have already noted the incompleteness which inhered in the state of God's people of old; but because of the coming of the Son of God, the state of his saints today is perfectly blessed, and will admit no future addition of any good thing. This is because Jesus has brought his redemptive work to completion, and now is fully enjoying both the privileges which pertain to his eternal, divine nature, and the rewards which he won in time by entering into his redemptive office. So we read in our final phrases, that “he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become by so much better than the angels, as he has inherited a more excellent name than they.”

    We see first, that Christ has entered back into the glory which he had before the world began, and has thus sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. Now this is the place from which he had first come to earth, and this glory is a glory that was always his, but was veiled for a time. So he prays in the Gospel of John, “And now glorify me, Father, with your own glory which I had with you before the world existed” (John 17:5). Now, the Son's full enjoyment of this sort of divine glory is a necessary thing for our own perfect blessedness, for without it, the full knowledge of God would be veiled to us. When Jesus first came, he had no form, nor comeliness; and when we saw him, there was no beauty in him that we should desire him (Isaiah 53:3); and thus it was that, as he walked upon this earth, he was rejected and misunderstood by all; for he had not yet suffused his human nature with the full expression of his divine glory. This he did as a foretaste upon the mount of transfiguration, but only fully after his resurrection, when his body was changed to a glorious body, so that his own beloved disciple, John, when he saw him again on the isle of Patmos, fell down at his feet as if dead (Revelation 1:17). Let us note: now that the Son has sat down again at the right hand of the Most High, we may see in him all the manifold and inexhaustible glory of the Godhead, for he has both expressed in perfect measure his condescending love, grace, pity, etc., and now as well his terrible majesty and lion-like glory.

    Second, Jesus has also brought the glory of his acquired mediatorial office to a perfect completion, and thus has become better than the angels, by so much as the name he has inherited is better than theirs. Now this means, first of all, that he became for a time lower than the angels, in order to enter into his redemptive office; which was indeed predicted by the psalmist and repeated again by the author of this letter (see Hebrews 2:6-9). Of all God's creatures, there is none more glorious than his elect angels, who even surpass man in dignity and power. However, it was God's original design to subject all things under man's feet, which is an expression that does not except angels. This he did when he sent his Son to become a man, and occupy for a time a position lowlier in dignity than his angels; but when he had completed the task to perfection, he ascended so high above them, that he excelled them by as much as the glorious name Yahweh excels the name of his mere messengers; and likewise by as much as the name of the man Christ Jesus excels the name of the angels who were to be brought under his feet, and commanded to worship him, as we read again in verse six.

    Applications:

    Now that we have reflected at some length upon the perfect blessedness which the coming of the Son of God has brought to his people, we must make a fitting use of it in our own hearts. Some appropriate uses are as follows:

    1. There is no hope of blessedness outside the Son.

    We have certainly demonstrated that the Son of God has provided by his eternal divinity and acquired redemptive office every conceivable joy and goodness. This means that there is no good thing left to be had apart from him. Now consider how hopeless men are, when they search for lasting joy and happiness in anything but the Son of God! When they have forsaken the Fountain of living waters, all that remains to them are broken cisterns which can hold no water (see Jeremiah 2:12-13), and their eternal deprivation of any good thing is a certain thing. Oh how foolish it is to search for meaning in professional success or temporal earthly pleasures, which will soon fade away, and leave all those who delighted in them craving but a drop of water from the little finger of one of God's saints, but unable to receive it (see Luke 16:24)!

    2. There is no greater condemnation than that which comes from rejecting the Son.

    We have seen how glorious the Son of God is, who has always possessed all the eternal attributes of the Godhead, and has now added to them the uniquely glorious characteristics of the one Redeemer and Mediator between God and men. Now consider how fearful a thing it is to despise and reject so glorious a One! So the author of this letter concludes his description of the person and work of this Son of God with a fearful and terrible warning: “Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, "Vengeance is mine; I will repay." And again, "The Lord will judge his people." It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebrews 10:28-31).

    3. There is cause for inexhaustible confidence in coming to the Son of God.

    We have seen in this Son of God all the glorious and powerful attributes of the eternal Godhead, and may assure ourselves that he is strong to do what he has promised to do, and cleanse us from our sins, reveal God to us, bring us back to him, etc. We have also seen the unique and acquired glory of his mediatorial office, which is perfectly suited for our need, in that it provides both the sacrifice that we need, which Christ became as the spotless Lamb of God who takes away sin; and the intercession we need, which Christ has undertaken as our Great High Priest. Furthermore, we have seen his lowliness and meekness in discharging the ministry of his redemptive office, and have no reason to be terrified of coming to him, weak and sinful as we may be. For what cause might we ever persuade ourselves not to come to him? He possesses in himself every good reason to come, and there is nothing in his infinite person which should at all hinder or dissuade our coming.

    4. There is inexhaustible joy to be had in coming to the Son of God.

    Just as we have every reason to be confident in coming to the Son of God, so we have every reason to expect blessedness when we do come. We have examined how much better the state of God's people is in these last days than it was in the days of the patriarchs. All this vast and eternal blessedness is ours forevermore, if we but come to him. If Abraham was blessed to be called the friend of God, how much more blessed are we to be called his sons and daughters, and the brothers and sisters of Jesus? If Moses was privileged to glimpse the back side of God's glory, how much greater is our privilege, who have seen his glory in all its fullness in the face of Jesus Christ?

    Posted by Nathan on January 8, 2008 11:28 AM

    Comments

    A very excellent study!

    However it seemed to me that an opportunity herein was lost to speak of the physical return of our Lord and King to earth to rule and reign. Of course the blessedness of His first advent is joy unspeakable, but oh His second advent!

    This glorious event, His Second Coming, will truly be the culmination of perfection for all those who have believed and been redeemed by grace through faith in Him alone!

    Even so, come Lord Jesus!

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