Category Archives: Hebrews

“All the treasures of celestial wisdom” by John Calvin

“The only way by which we can persevere in the right faith is to hold to the foundation, and not in the smallest degree to depart from it. For he who holds not to Christ knows nothing but mere vanity, though he may comprehend heaven and earth. For in Christ are included all the treasures of celestial wisdom. There is no other way of being truly wise than by fixing all our thoughts on Christ alone.”

–John Calvin, Commentaries on the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews, trans. John Owen (Edinburgh: Calvin Translation Society, 1853), 74-76. Calvin is commenting on Hebrews 13:8.

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“You have come to Mount Zion” by John Bunyan

“The pilgrims spoke about the glory of the place with the Shining Ones, who replied that the beauty and glory of it was inexpressible. Then they said it was ‘Mount Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem, the innumerable company of angels, and the spirits of just men made perfect.’

‘You are going now,’ they said, ‘to the Paradise of God, wherein you shall see the tree of life and eat of its never-fading fruits. When you come there, you shall have white robes given to you, and you shall walk and talk every day with the King, even all the days of eternity.

There you shall not see again such things as you saw when you were in the lower region upon the earth. You shall not see sorrow, sickness, affliction, and death, ‘for the former things are passed away.’

You are now going to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and to the prophets, men whom God has taken away from the evil to come and who are now resting upon their beds, each one walking in his righteousness.’

Christian and Hopeful asked, ‘What must we do in the holy place?’

The Shining Ones answered, ‘You must receive the comforts of all your toil and have joy for all your sorrow; you must reap what you have sown, even the fruit of all your prayers, tears, and sufferings in your journey for the King.

In that place you must wear crowns of gold and enjoy the perpetual sight and vision of the Holy One, for ‘there you shall see Him as He is.’

There also you shall serve Him continually with praise, shouting, and thanksgiving, Him whom you desired to serve in the world, though with much difficulty, because of the infirmity of your flesh.

There your eyes shall  be delighted with seeing, and your ears with hearing the pleasant voice of the Mighty One. There you shall enjoy your friends again, those who have gone before you, and there you shall with joy receive all those who follow you to this holy place.'”

–John Bunyan, The Pilgrim’s Progress: From This World to That Which is to Come, Ed. C.J. Lovik (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1678/2009), 217-218.

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“A merciful and faithful High Priest” by John Calvin

“In Christ’s human nature there are two things to be considered, the real flesh and the affections or feelings. The Apostle then teaches us, that He had not only put on the real flesh of man, but also all those feelings which belong to man, and he also shows the benefit that from hence proceeds.

And it is the true teaching of faith when we in our case find the reason why the Son of God undertook our infirmities. For all knowledge without feeling the need of this benefit is cold and lifeless. But he teaches us that Christ was made subject to human affections, that He might be a merciful and faithful high priest…

For in a priest, whose office it is to appease God’s wrath, to help the miserable, to raise up the fallen, to relieve the oppressed, mercy is especially required, and it is what experience produces in us. For it is a rare thing for those who are always happy to sympathize with the sorrows of others…

The Son of God had no need of experience that He might know the emotions of mercy. But we could not be persuaded that He is merciful and ready to help us had He not become acquainted by experience with our miseries. But this, as other things, has been as a favor given to us.

Therefore whenever any evils pass over us, let it ever occur to us, that nothing happens to us but what the Son of God has Himself experienced in order that He might sympathize with us; nor let us doubt but that He is at present with us as though He suffered with us…

An acquaintance with our sorrows and miseries so inclines Christ to compassion, that He is constant in imploring God’s aid for us. What besides? Having purposed to make atonement for sins, He put on our nature that we might have in our own flesh the price of our redemption.

In a word, that by the right of a common nature He might introduce us, together with Himself, into the sanctuary of God.”

–John Calvin, Commentaries on the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews, trans. John Owen (Edinburgh: Calvin Translation Society, 1853), 74-76. Calvin is commenting on Hebrews 2:17.

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“When Satan is tempting, Christ is praying!” by Thomas Watson

“When a Christian is weak and can hardly pray for himself, Jesus Christ is praying for him… What a comfort is this: when Satan is tempting, Christ is praying!”

–Thomas Watson, All Things For Good, or A Divine Cordial (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1663/2001), 23.

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“We sing with Him as a singing Savior” by Michael Glodo

“We sing to the God-man Jesus as our sufficient Savior. We sing about his redeeming work as our servant Savior. But Hebrews 2 doesn’t stop there. It also tells us with whom we sing in worship. Hebrews 2:12 tells us that Jesus is singing in the midst of the assembly, the gathered people of God. Imagine what this means. Do you ever wish your worship in general and your singing in particular could be more heart-felt or sound better so that God would take more delight in it? This verse tells us that, when God hears our singing, He hears the voice of His son mingled with ours.

I’ve spent a good bit of time in small churches, including the one in which I grew up in rural Southern Illinois. It seems like every small church choir, by the grace of God, has one good singer to hold them together. Usually it’s a robust soprano voice. But the real anchoring voice of the choir is Jesus’ voice. The beauty of our worship, just as our righteousness before God, is not found in ourselves but in Jesus. The voice of Jesus singing with us perfects our worship as it reaches the throne of God. While Christ’s righteousness is the answer to our doubt about God accepting us, Christ’s worship is the answer to our doubt about God being pleased with our worship. In this we see that our life with God is by grace from beginning to end.

We sing to Him as our sufficient Savior. We sing for His salvation as our servant Savior. And we sing with Him as a singing Savior. Because Jesus joins our worship as our victorious brother, we must join with him as our singing savior.

These truths alone give us grateful hearts to sing whole-heartedly to God in worship. But taken together they can produce an overwhelming passion for God. You see, verse 12 quotes from the Old Testament. Often, when a New Testament passage quotes the Old Testament, the broader context of the Old Testament passage is being invoked. In this case, the quote is from Psalm 22:22. This is the psalmist’s victory chant celebrating God’s deliverance.

But up until that point, Psalm 22 is a litany of desperate cries to God. It contains numerous images which the New Testament writers associated explicitly with the crucifixion of Jesus: The jeering of the witnesses (v. 7); the taunt for Him to appeal to God (v. 8); Jesus’ searing thirst (v. 15); the piercing of His hands and feet (v. 16) and the dividing of Jesus’ garments (v. 18, cf. Matt. 27:35). Most significantly, Psalm 22 begins with the cry of dereliction, ‘My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?’ (Matt. 27:46). This was the cry of Jesus from the cross as He felt the hot anger of the Father against Himself, God waging war against our sin in His Son.

The victory song that Jesus sings among us when we worship began with the anguish of abandonment culminating in His being ‘under the power of death for a time’ (Westminster Shorter Catechism 27). It wasn’t just Jesus’ death that gives us the new song to sing with Him, but His standing in our place to receive the judgment of God against our sin. ‘He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him’ (2 Cor. 5:21)…

The most profound lesson Hebrews 2 teaches us about worship is that, because Jesus sang the first verses of Psalm 22, we don’t have to sing them. Instead, we sing the verses of praise with Him. Because he cried out ‘Abandoned!’ we can sing out ‘Found!’ Under the weight of our sin He declared Himself ‘a worm and not a man’ (Ps. 22:6) so that each of us is ‘no longer a slave but a son’ (Gal. 4:7). The frown of God was upon His beloved Son so that divine justice satisfied smiles at us.

In worship we sing with our Savior because He first sang for us.”

–Michael Glodo, “Singing with the Savior.” RTS Reformed Journal 17, no. 1 (1998). Available at www.rts.edu/quarterly/spring98/glodo.html.

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“Christ’s blood creates a deeper lineage than our genes” by Sinclair Ferguson

“What are our privileges? They are truly amazing. ‘For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest… But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering.’

In the days of promises and shadows, believers came to an assembly convened at a mountain engulfed with a sense of awful judgment. By contrast, in the full blaze of light that has appeared in Christ, we have come to the abiding city of God, angels in festal gathering, the assembly of Christ, and the spirits of departed believers. Indeed, we have come to God Himself, not with Moses, but to Jesus.

We have received the new covenant in His shed blood.This is the assembly in which we gather for worship to hear the voice of Christ in His Word, to lift our voices under His choral direction in praise, to share His trust in His Father, and to gather around Him as His brothers and sisters. Consequently, this is also our family—composed of the redeemed from among all mankind and the elect among the angelic host.

This is the kingdom in which our names are enrolled as citizens. It is a kingdom, unlike all the kingdoms and empires of this world, that cannot be shaken. What riches are ours in these three dimensions of the life of grace! An assembly, a family, a kingdom! And they are already ours in Christ! Here and now our lives are punctuated by special visiting rights to heaven’s glory as we assemble with our fellow believers.

We are brothers and sisters together—for Christ’s blood creates a deeper lineage than our genes. Thus, we have the full rights of family members and citizens in the city of God.”

–Sinclair Ferguson, In Christ Alone: Living the Gospel Centered Life (Orlando: Reformation Trust, 2007), 156-57.

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