Hebrews 13:7-25 -- Jesus Is Better #22 -- Jesus Is Worth Following

1. Do Not Be Led Away By Diverse And Strange Teachings (7-10)

7 Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. 9 Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them. 10 We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat.

  • There is a constant temptation to embrace new and exciting doctrines. But Hebrews exhorts us to be sure we are not led away by diverse and strange teachings.

    • This is a typical New Testament warning:

      • 2 Peter 2:1-3a (ESV) — 1 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. 2 And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. 3 And in their greed they will exploit you with false words.

      • 2 Peter 2:17-22 (ESV) -- 17 These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved. 18 For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. 19 They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. 20 For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 21 For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. 22 What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.”

  • How can we refuse to be led away by diverse and strange teachings?

A. Remember Your Leaders.

7 Remember your leaders,^ those who spoke to you the word of God.^ Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.^

  • 7 Remember your leaders: perhaps they were already dead, which is why they needed to be remembered.
  • 7 Those who spoke to you the word of God: They were definitely spiritual leaders, because they had taught people the word of God (not their own opinions).
  • 7 Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith: See where they doctrine led them. Though never perfect or to be idolized, they aren't only to have good teaching, but a good life.
    • Good teaching is easy to take for granted, because the fruit is often slow.

B. Remember Jesus Does Not Change.

8 Jesus Christ is the same^ yesterday and today and forever.

  • 8 The same:
    • Know Jesus Christ's nature does not change.
      • He is, was, and always will be.
    • How does this help us combat diverse and strange teachings?
      • He did not operate or teach one way 2K years ago, only to morph with our modern times, bending to our culture. Jesus does not allow for fluidity of truth, shifting from age to age and culture to culture.
        • The things people want Jesus to have said regarding judgement, gender, sexuality, or exclusivity are amazing to me.
        • Jesus is not a shapeshifter.
    • Though each generation looks for new ways to understand and apply the old truth, we are not looking for new truth.
      • In this sense, the old adage works: if it's new it's not true, and if it's true it's not new.

C. Be Strengthened By Grace.

9 Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace,^ not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them. 10 We have an altar^ from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat.

  • 9 It is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods:
    • An unknown argument regarding food dominated the original readers.
      • Typical of Judaizers.
      • Typical of people -- argue about the trivial, when God is trying to change the heart.
        • For this argument, he told them they had an altar already (the cross).
        • He held out the opposite of religious performance: grace.
    • Grace is what strengthens the inner person.
      • Like food for the body, grace is needed for the inner person.
      • The core of the Christian life isn't what we do for God, but what he does for us.

2. Go To Jesus Outside The Camp And Bear The Reproach He Endured (11-14)

11 For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy places by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp.^ 12 So Jesus also suffered outside^ the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. 13 Therefore let us go to him outside the camp^ and bear the reproach he endured.^ 14 For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.^

  • 11-13 Outside the camp / Suffered outside / Let us go to him outside / bear the reproach:
    • It is popular to say religion is emotional immaturity.
      • Because children need to be told life's meaning and soothed with stories of eternity, but adults face life as it is.
      • But Christianity invites us to suffering and pain, sacrifice and paying a price, a life where bravery and an adult-like focus on others is certainly required.
    • You are called outside the camp (all the way to a city that is to come).
      • Original readers: Judaism.
        • Example: Moses' tent of meeting (Exodus 33:7).

3. Continually Offer Up A Sacrifice Of Praise To God (15-16)

15 Through him^ then let us continually offer up a sacrifice^ of praise^ to God, that is, the fruit of lips^ that acknowledge his name. 16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have,^ for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

  • 15 Continually off up a sacrifice: We can give God...

    • 1 -- 15 Praise / Lips:

      • Psalm 69:30 (ESV) — 30 I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving.

      • Valuable for us:

        • How can we turn our knowledge about God into knowledge of God? The rule for doing this is simple but demanding. It is that we turn each truth that we learn about God into matter for meditation before God, leading to prayer and praise to God. -- J. I. Packer, Knowing God, pg. 22, loc. 224. Kindle Edition

      • Always a way to praise God:

        • "I thank Thee first because I was never robbed before; second, because although they took my purse they did not take my life; third, because although they took my all, it was not much; and fourth because it was I who was robbed and not I who robbed.” -- Matthew Henry's (1662-1714) example after getting robbed.

    • 2 -- 16 Do good and to share what you have:

      • This is the right order (praise first, then deeds).

        • "Elder brothers may do good to others, but not out of delight in the deeds themselves or for the love of people or the pleasure of God. They are not really feeding the hungry and clothing the poor, they are feeding and clothing themselves." -- Timothy Keller, The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith, loc. 640. Kindle Edition

      • Simple, but often forgotten, expression of our faith.

        • Buy someone lunch, support a missionary, open your home, buy groceries for a single mom, give an extra tip to a waiter, give yourself to foster care...
  • 15 Through him: We do all this by the power of Jesus!

4. Obey Your Leaders And Submit To Them (17-19)

17 Obey your leaders and submit to them,^ for they are keeping watch over your souls,^ as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning,^ for that would be of no advantage to you. 18 Pray for us,^ for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things.^ 19 I urge you the more earnestly to do this in order that I may be restored to you the sooner.

  • 17 Obey your leaders and submit to them: Now we have living spiritual leaders.

    • Antiauthoritarian age.

      • Some worldviews perpetually look for systems of power to topple.
    • 3 Assumptions:

      • 1 -- They are faithful gospel representatives.

        • They desire to act honorably in all things.
      • 2 -- You have decided to have them as your leaders.

      • 3 -- Their authority is grounded in the Word.

        • Good leaders want submission to God, not themselves.

        • “When a servant of God is in the will of God, teaching the Word of God, the people of God should submit and obey.” -- Warren Wiersbe

5. Ingredients Which Aid The Church (20-25)

  • Closing benediction.
  • Let's get down the river.

20 Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep,^ by the blood of the eternal covenant, 21 equip you with everything good that you may do his will,^ working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

  • 1 -- Knowledge regarding the Chief Shepherd.
    • He is the great shepherd of the sheep.
    • He can equip us with everything good that we might do his will.

22 I appeal to you, brothers, bear with my word of exhortation,^ for I have written to you briefly.

  • 2 -- Accept exhortations.
    • 2 Bear with my word of exhortation

23 You should know that our brother Timothy has been released,^ with whom I shall see you if he comes soon.

  • 3 -- Care.
    • 23 Know that our brother Timothy has been released.

24 Greet^ all your leaders and all the saints. Those who come from Italy send you greetings. 25 Grace^ be with all of you.

  • 4 -- Love.
    • 24-25 Greet / Grace: