Insights into Hebrews: Part 1

By Lloyd Ellefson

Hearing is very important in our everyday life. Those who have hearing problems can certainly attest to that. But there is a big difference between hearing naturally and hearing spiritually. Some people don't hear a spiritual message because their ears are only tuned in to the natural. In order to understand the book of Hebrews we have to be able to hear spiritually! Jesus constantly emphasized the importance of hearing spiritually! He said, "Take care what you listen to. By your standard of measure it shall be measured to you; and more shall be given you besides." (Mark 4:24). Something in a person determines how he hears. The degree to which we hear spiritually will determine the measure we will receive. The natural mind cannot receive spiritual words, so it is unable to obey Christ's words. It functions in choice instead of in obedience! Choice comes from the forbidden tree; the knowledge of the good and the evil of that tree were both forbidden! In order to function in obedience we have to learn to hear spiritually. According to how we hear, it will be measured back to us.

Let's look at the situation Jesus was in. He had come to His people - to people who were called the chosen people of God. This included the priests, Pharisees, Sadducees, and scribes who were especially knowledgeable in the law. They thought they knew who they were, what they were doing and what pleased God. It was to them that Jesus said, "For whoever has, to him shall more be given..." (v.25) What did some have that others lacked? I believe some had heard the law, while others had not. There is a difference between knowing the law and hearing the law. "For if you believed Moses" (the law), "you would believe Me...But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?...If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone rises from the dead." (Jn. 5:46-47; Lk. 16:31) Only those who understood the law could hear His words. According to the degree to which they had listened, they would receive from the Lord. So it is very important that we hear with an obedient heart!

"...My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me. If any man is willing to do His will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it is of God, or whether I speak from Myself." (John 7:16-17) Teaching is the equivalent of doctrine in this context. In order to hear we must first be willing to obey God; otherwise we won't hear correctly. Unless we are truly willing to do the will of God, we will not know whether our interpretation of God's message is true!

This does away with the idea that we can make an independent decision as to whether or not the speaker is of God, and is speaking truth. Independent decisions are not accepted in the kingdom of God. Only a will, submitted to the will of God, is acceptable to God. We must first will to do the will of God! The natural mind is full of deception, for it cannot understand God. That is why it is so important to be submitted to the will of God! This submission forms the foundation for our growth in the things of God and goes beyond the letter of the law. The ability to hear spiritually determines our rate of growth! "If any man wills...he will know." This is what Jesus said to the Jews, and it is just as true and important today!

I have found this to be very true in my own life. The Bible says we shall know those who labor among us. "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me...And a stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him..." (John 10:27,5) The true sheep will not follow a false shepherd. God has a way of eliminating false shepherds by means of the sheep. The reason many false shepherds have large followings is because their followers do not know the voice of the true shepherd!

"But we speak God's wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom, which God predestined before the ages to our glory." (1 Cor. 2:7) Paul spoke the wisdom which was before the foundation of the world - before man received the thinking and nature of the serpent. We should also be speaking that wisdom! Speaking of mysteries, we know there is a mystery of godliness and a mystery of lawlessness, darkness, or iniquity. (1 Tim. 3:16; 2 Thess. 2:7) Paul said that none of the rulers understood the mystery; if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. (v.8) They lacked true understanding, and this resulted in the crucifixion of our Lord. Mysteries have to be revealed by someone who knows the answer - and only the Lord knows the answer! Light reveals the things hidden by darkness; it causes us to see and understand. It reveals the darkness that is in us; it shows us that the Adamic man is the man of sin, that lawlessness is disobedience to God, and that everything that is not of God is in the realm of darkness!

The only way we can recognize the false is by knowing the true. If we only have lies, we think our lies are truth, and we have no way of determining that they are lies. A true dollar bill will identify a counterfeit - it reveals the counterfeit! A true standard of measure reveals a false one. Only revelation knowledge of Jesus Christ can open our eyes to darkness, satan, deceit, etc. Knowledge of truth will reveal the lies - everything that is false. Studying the false (satan, demons, darkness, sin and evil) in order to know the truth, only gets us into trouble; it does not give us truth. Many people do not know that, so they are busy studying the false.

"But just as it is written, `Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him'." (1 Cor. 2:9) Since these things are not in our heart, and we can't see nor hear them, there must be some other faculty through which we can get to know them. There must be something which will cause us to hear what our ears can't hear, and to see what our eyes can't seeand our. This other faculty is the Holy Spirit.

"For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God." (v.10) The Spirit within us brings us into a new realm! When we are in unity with the Spirit, we are no longer limited to earthly things! Having our intellect satisfied is not enough, for it is often satisfied with lies. Our natural minds pick up wrong ideas. Unless we are led by the Spirit, we will not hear at the level God wants us to hear.

The mind set against the Spirit, crucifies Christ, for it is not hearing correctly. "For those who are according to the flesh set their mind on the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit." (Rom. 8:5) We need to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches! We often wonder why those who are in Christ are experiencing so many problems and so little peace!

The answer is in v.6, "For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace." This is a present possession. Our old nature is carnally- minded, and this is death. The wrong use of our mind causes death; the problem is that the natural mind is unable to receive spiritual truth. When Jesus was put on the cross He put to death the man of sin, for this man entertained the thoughts produced by his own mind. When our mind is governed by our feelings, we cannot see God, so we cannot hear Him. Only thinking according to our old nature is a misuse of our mind. We have been given the mind of Christ, and it operates beyond our feelings. It is a mind that is beyond our mind!

The word must always have two witnesses. The first witness is in the natural realm; it comes when the scriptures are read. The second is the spiritual witness. This principle is evident throughout the scriptures. Even Jesus said that if He alone bore witness of Himself, His witness would not would not be admissible as legal evidence. (John 5:31) According to the law, having only one witness is equal to no witness. The natural witness is not enough; it has to be discarded before the spiritual witness can be received. This is typified by Moses breaking the first set of commandments when he came down the mountain. He was so angry when he saw the children of Israel in their idolatry, that he threw down the tablets and shattered them. That is typical of the first word or law of God in the natural man. It has to be cast to the earth and be broken. After this, Moses got a second set, and that was put unbroken into the ark of the covenant in the holy place. This shows that the words of God are first accepted in the carnal mind! But as long as they remain in the carnal mind they are in the death realm. When they are received spiritually (in the mind of Christ that has been given us) they bring life!

Jesus Christ is the Word. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. When the Word was crucified, His flesh was broken or rent. This was typified by the tearing of the curtain in the temple. The risen Word has been disrobed of its flesh! It released Jesus Christ to come to us so that we could be joined to Him spiritually! It is the carnal mind that is at enmity with God, "...for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God." (Rom. 8:7-8) Most of Christianity does not understand that. Unless the Spirit gives life to the Word, it remains in death. The religious systems are in death and function in the death realm. The church will have to learn that we no longer know Christ according to the flesh. (2 Cor. 5:16)

Do you know that Jesus Christ can still be crucified today? If we don't allow His life to permeate our mind and body, we are putting Him to death, keeping Him in prison and depriving Him of food and drink! (See Matt. 25:34-46) Jesus is giving us a spiritual lesson here. He said that He was hungry, and some gave Him something to eat; He was thirsty and some gave Him water; He was a stranger and some invited Him in; He was naked and some clothed Him; He was sick and some visited Him; He was in prison and some came to Him. How did they do that? They found Christ in the people they met. They sought people out and brought life to them in the area of their need! This is what we are to do also!

We need to know Jesus Christ! He is the truth - so NOTHING else can be the truth. He is not a system of laws, works, or doctrines. He alone is the truth! As we bring truth to people, we are bringing them life! We need to know where Christ is in the lives of people so that we can help them come into life. If we don't allow Christ to rule our thoughts and minds, we are not allowing Him to give life to His word. This is the same as putting Him to death, or keeping Him in prison, or keeping Him hungry and thirsty. Some have put Him to death - He has no life in them. They may speak words that sound good, but their words are empty of life. Some have Jesus in the prison of their minds, their thoughts, their doctrines. They are holding on to their false ideas and won't allow truth to free them! That is how religious systems crucify Jesus Christ.

Eating together establishes a certain rapport and relationship. Business people make use of this principle for doing more business. Food is necessary for the sustenance of life. In Revelation 3:20 it says, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with Me." Just imagine, Christ seeks us out! He makes the first move! He wants to dine with us and give us the same food He eats! The food He gives us is explained in John 6:57, "...I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also shall live because of Me." Eating of Christ means we are embracing truth. Truth is our life! Truth is eternal! It cannot be corrupted or polluted! Everything that is built on the foundation of truth will remain! So in order to grow and mature in Christ, we need to grow in truth. If we just hear the letter, we will not hear the Spirit. We must be in a relationship with the Lord so we can hear what He is saying!

Hebrews is a tremendously interesting book! As we study it, we want to hear what the Spirit is saying! Though the writer of Hebrews is unknown, it is thought to be Paul. It is written in excellent Greek. It is not really important for us to know who wrote it, but it is really important to hear what the Spirit is saying!

Some of the subjects that will be discussed are: 1) The importance of the wonderful union with Jesus when He took on flesh! 2) The meaning of entering God's rest and becoming true Sabbath-keepers. 3) The symbolism of the wilderness wanderings and the crossing of the Jordan. 4) The superiority of the Melchizedek priesthood over the Aaronic priesthood. 5) The superiority of the new covenant. 6) The meaning of the blood of the Covenant. 7) The tabernacle and its meaning. 8) Two mountains and two Jerusalems.

In the past God spoke to the prophets, and they relayed the message to the hierarchy of that day. In these last days God has spoken to us in His Son! "God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world (ages)." (1:1-2) Does He speak to us in King James English? No, He speaks to us through His Spirit and we have to meditate on His words in our heart - even as Mary did. His words have to come from the Son, whether they come through the scriptures, prophecy, or revelation! The Son has been given the responsibility of bringing a revelation of God to us!

In Matthew 11:27 Jesus explained how we can get to know the Father: "...and no one knows the Son, except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father, except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him." Then in John 14:6 He said, "No one comes to the Father, but through Me." We may wonder which comes first - the Father's revelation of the Son or the Son's revelation of the Father. John 6:45 gives the answer - "Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me." The people who had heard and learned from the Father were the ones who could come to Jesus.

It is only through Christ that we can get to know who God is; and learning to know who Christ is, must come from the Father. The Father sends us the Spirit, and the Spirit brings us Christ! Nothing else will! We are to hear with our heart! So if we understand something with the mind, it does not necessarily mean that we have it. On the other hand, if we do not understand something, it does not necessarily mean that we don't have it.

Learning to know Christ is a growth experience. In Mark 4:28 it mentions that there is first the leaf or blade on the stalk, then the head, then the mature grain in the head. The grain is covered by chaff until it is harvested. After it has been harvested, all the chaff is burned together with the old leaves and stalk. What do the stalk, blade and chaff represent? They represent all the things which were necessary in our lives for our growth into maturity! At one time the chaff was needed, for without it there could be no kernel or fruit. So we need all the forms of truth, and the joys and trials of life for our spiritual development!

Since the seed that is planted is Christ, what do you think the seed that is harvested will be like? That which is harvested is just like the grain which was planted! We have been predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ! All those things which got us out of the darkness of the earth and brought life to us and caused growth, are later stripped away and burned! The chaff represents all the forms of truth that helped us grow up into Jesus Christ! All the communions and baptisms are only forms of truth. They helped us come into the realization of who Christ is. Later they are put into the fire - and fire is always judgment. Truth replaces the forms of truth!

Jesus was appointed heir of all things! Jesus Christ inherits everything, and we are co-heirs with Him in all He is and has. Christ is the anointing, and we share in His anointing! This joins us to Christ and makes us sharers of His inheritance! Our anointing in the Holy Spirit is not ours independently of Christ. Since Christ is the anointed One, we know that He is always enough for us. We don't need anything else! Let us not get trapped into thinking that Christ is not enough, and that a greater anointing has to come. Nothing needs to be added to Him nor substituted for Him! Let's not substitute heaven for Jesus.

In Psalm 133 we read, "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, coming down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard, coming down upon the edge of his robe." Aaron, the first high priest, was a type of Jesus Christ. His anointing came upon his head first. This was a type of the anointing Christ received from God at the Jordan River. The Spirit came down on the head first of all, and He is the head of the body of Christ! Adam, the head of the Adamic race, was expelled from the garden. He, the head of the Adamic race went out first, and the rest of us (his body) followed. Jesus Christ went into Paradise first, and His body follows Him. The only way we can get back in, is by being joined to Him!

After Adam was expelled, cherubim guarded the entrance. In order to get back in, he would have to get past the cherubim. They represent forms of truth through which we have to pass in order to get back into reality. As long as we live in the forms, we haven't got the real thing. So we have to pass through the forms of truth before we can receive truth. The veil in the temple represented forms of truth; it had cherubim skilfully woven into the veil. When the veil (our fleshly thinking) is rent or torn, we break through the forms and find the real cherubim. That is exactly where Christ is taking us. He is taking us through all kinds of forms of truth into Himself - the truth. We do not have any other intermediaries or mediators - we have only one Mediator, and that is Christ!

We may wonder how Christ mediates. He mediates by coming to us in the Holy Spirit. Then we cry "Abba! Father!" (Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:6) We do this because the Spirit of the Son has joined Himself to us and has become our Mediator. When we are joined to the Lord, we are one spirit with Him; and in that oneness of spirit with Christ we cry "Father" to God. He does not mediate from a throne in the sky; He is not calling up to God as though it were a long distance relationship. His mediation brings us into a Father-son relationship! He is in our hearts and that is where He mediates.

Christ's anointing is enough for us! When Aaron was anointed, the oil ran down from his head upon His beard, then down to the skirts of His garment. In other words, the whole body was anointed. This is symbolic of Christ's anointing. His anointing covers His body, the ecclesia. We have become partakers of the anointing, and we never have to worry that His anointing will be insufficient. The anointing we have received will teach us all things. (1 John 2:27) What more can we desire? This anointing enables us to learn! Jesus Christ is the great anointing! Everything He has is sufficient for everything we need!

In John 16:8 we read that when the Spirit or Comforter comes, He will convict the world of sin. God uses the Holy Spirit, given to the church, to convict the world of sin! If we are looking for someone else to do this work, or another means of getting it accomplished, we will be disappointed. Do we think that He is not enough? Let us believe that the Holy Spirit is sufficient for this work! He will do even more - He is also going to convict the world of righteousness and of judgment. God has given us this sufficiency; therefore we always have enough!

"Whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the ages." (The KJV reads WORLD, but the word is AEON, meaning AGES) People often talk about the "kingdom age" and the "church age". These are not ages. The church is the body of Christ, so it is not an age; since the kingdom is everlasting, it is not an age either. God made the ages through Jesus Christ. He produces the ages; the ages do not produce anything. It is His life, working in the world that produces seasons, days, time, years and ages.

Christ came from eternity and He has been in the world since the foundation of the world. Jesus came as man to bring us into a new realm. Not all Christians are living in the same age, because some are still living under the law, and Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes! Since Christ is the end of that law, that law ends when we are in Christ. That brings us into another age. Although many still operate in the law principle in the performance of their religious activities, it does not change the fact that Christ is the end of the law to all who believe! It is important to remember that God's ways are not man's ways. Spiritual things will always have a life-giving effect in whatever stage of development we are.

"And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power." Jesus is the effulgence or the expression of the glory of God. God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself. Everything Jesus did was initiated by the Father, and came to pass because the Father was working through Him. Therefore their treatment of Jesus was an indication of how they were treating the Father. So when those godless people were crucifying Jesus, they were actually trampling on God; they were spitting on God, putting the crown of thorns on God and crucifying Him!

The Jews prided themselves on being God's chosen people, being circumcised, and having the law of Moses. Their religious leaders consisted of priests, scribes, Pharisees and Sadducees. The Pharisees were the watchdogs. The priests were trying to make everything right in Israel. These religious leaders were always opposing Jesus. Jesus was in the midst of His chosen people as the express image of God. Yet the Jews did not recognize this, proving that they did not know God. Everyone had the wrong idea of God! Had they had the right idea of God, they would not have treated Jesus, the true image of God, the way they did. He was the unadulterated, pure and perfect expression of God, for He did nothing on His own initiative. However, the Jews did not see God in Him. They saw Beelzebub, and they wanted to crucify and kill Him because He was doing away with their god. It is the same today. Jesus Christ is being rejected just as much today as He was in that day, because people don't recognize that He has come in the Holy Spirit.

He "upholds all things by the word of His power." Jesus declared that "all authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth". Since Jesus Christ loves us, we know that everything is working for us, for we are in Him. Often it is difficult for us to be convinced of God's love for us because we think it is impossible for an Almighty and All-knowing God to love someone like ourselves. We have to believe what God says.

Let's take a closer look at what it means to be in Christ. The scriptures mention two corporate men - the natural man and the spiritual man. The spiritual man is introduced in Genesis 1 when God said, "Let us make man in our own image...male and female He created them." This man was created! The natural man, in chapter 2, was not created. In Gen. 2:4 it says, "These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created." These are the genealogical annals, the way they were generated out of that which had been created. "Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." (v.7) This man was formed out of the existing creation, out of the ground, and became a living soul; he was not a quickening or life-giving spirit. These two men are the ones we are dealing with, and they are entirely different!

There are only two corporate men in history, and we are either in one or the other. We are born into the earthy man, Adam, and born into the new spiritual or heavenly man, the Son of Man, by our new birth. This consists of being raised out of the death realm of Adam (the ignorance and delusion that resides in him) and into the life of Jesus Christ (the light and truth that He is). He came down from heaven as the Son of Man! But Adam did not come down from heaven; He was formed of dust. The Son of Man was crucified and gave His life for the sins of the world. This is not true of Adam; he brought sin into the world. He only ruled in the soul. So we see there is a great difference between the two.

We may wonder why God planted the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the midst of the garden, why He put Adam to sleep and divided him, and why He let the serpent in. According to our figuring, He would not have had to do that! However, He did all these things! All this was planned. Nothing catches God by surprise! The devil did not come in and upset everything. If he could do that at that time, then he could do it today too! If the devil had the power to upset God's plans, how could God ever triumph over him? If the devil had so much power, how could we ever live a victorious Christian life? He would then have more power in us than God has, and we would have to help God against satan! This thinking would result in a constant battle raging within us.

Satan is NOT GREATER THAN GOD! Satan did not bring death to man. Death came through one man's disobedience; consequently all of Adam's descendants are born in death. All of humanity died! People do not get bad - they are born that way! The Adamic man cannot become spiritual; he is dead in his trespasses and sin! He did not just fall - he died! In order to receive life, he has to be born again! He has to be resurrected into a new man! The life-giving Holy Spirit has to bring us out of that old man.

This message is for Christians. You need to know the truth about who you are in Christ! He Himself has purged us from our sins. Christ is not dealing with sin today! When He appears, He appears without reference to sin. (Heb. 9:28) He came to deal with sin, and He has accomplished His purpose - He has dealt with sin! He has made a sacrifice that takes care of all sin for all time!

Our unbelief causes us to constantly think about sin and sins, so that we cannot keep our eyes on Jesus, and see the great salvation that He has procured for us. This causes us to be enmeshed in the law and in condemnation! It is time we believe what Christ has done! His one offering has taken care of sin for all time! There is no need for Him to come back to do it again! If there were, His sacrifice would not be greater than the animal sacrifices which had to be performed over and over again. God declares that Jesus Christ has made one sacrifice for sin for everyone for all time! Nothing more has to be done. We have been raised from the dead, from the Adamic earthy man, and we have been raised up with Jesus Christ into a new man! He has taken care of sin! We have to realize what God has done, and who we are in Christ. This is how we get rid of our sin-consciousness!

It is hard for us to recognize the degree of our helplessness. We were dead in our trespasses and sins! Just how much can a dead man do to save himself? Absolutely nothing! In all honesty, we have to say that we need help; we need to be raised out of our deadness into life by the life-giving Spirit of Jesus Christ! This is what it means to pass from death to life! The man of sin is the Adamic man, the man of death who was crucified with Christ. This was necessary that the body of sin might be destroyed. The body of sin does not refer to our physical body. It refers to all sin, as, for example, we speak of a body of water, etc. Now that the body of sin is destroyed, we are raised together with Him. In our new birth, we have been raised out of our deadness into the life of Jesus Christ - into a new man! Having been raised up with Christ, we now seek those things which are above!

Jesus said, "I am the resurrection." He did not say that He will be the resurrection in the resurrection that will take place in the last days. Nor did He say that the resurrection is for our body. He said, "I am the resurrection." Where is Christ? If He is in you, the resurrection is in you! You are being raised from man ONE to man TWO. The second man, the Son of Man, gets us into sonship, the real child of God!

God has given us every spiritual blessing in heavenly places in Christ Jesus! We are to set our affections and our minds on the things that are above. Spiritual blessings are greater than natural blessings. The misconceptions of the natural mind have caused many wrong things to happen to the church and to Christ. In Christ we are raised up above the natural, so that we can now see the wonderful things that God has accomplished in Jesus Christ. Our hearts need to be open to the teaching of the Holy Spirit! Then we will realize the greatness of our calling in Christ. We need to get rid of our doubts and traditions, and encourage one another to be real believers! God bless you!

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