Insights into Hebrews: Part 3

By Lloyd Ellefson

Hebrews chapters 1 and 2 deal with a comparative study in which the angels are shown to be lower than the Son. Angels can be either spiritual or human messengers; they are ministering spirits as they provide help and protection, and bring encouraging messages. Most people think of angels in a carnal way - as strong men with beautiful wings. However, this is not the case. In the scriptures, cherubim are mentioned as having wings, but nowhere does it say that angels have wings. They are messengers, and their messages have to be judged. "Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, matters of this life?" (1 Cor. 6:3) Their messages have to be judged as being either false or true. This judgment needs to take place whenever a message is received; it does not only apply to the future. When angels minister God's love and protection to us, we immediately know their message is true. Angels who did not remain true to their calling have been bound, for they did not speak the truth.

Angels are not the sons, and do not sit at God's right hand. (Heb. 1:13) Nor did He "subject to angels the world to come". (Heb. 2:5) Angels will not be put in charge of the inhabited earth that is to come. Psalm 8:4 reads, "What is man, that Thou dost take thought of him? And the son of man, that Thou dost care for him?" God takes thought of man; He is mindful of him. The first reference to man in that verse refers to the man who was formed of the dust of the earth - the earthy man. The next reference is to the son of man; this is the one He cares for and respects. Time and again Jesus called Himself the SON OF MAN. He said that the Son of Man was coming again. (Matt. 24) It is important to know that, so we will recognize Him whenever He comes - otherwise we will be like the Jewish nation which did not recognize Him when He came, and is still looking for His first coming.

Angels are messengers, and the message is more important than the messenger! Angels proclaimed the message that the Savior was born! Jesus is the message or the Word! For a little while the Son of Man was made lower than the angels. (Heb. 2:7) Here we notice that the Word (Jesus) was temporarily put below the messenger, even though He had a place above the angels. He was really higher because God has put everything under His feet. "But now we do not yet see all things subjected to Him." (v.8) Since God has put everything under His feet, we are going to see it some day!

In Rom. 5:14 we read that "death reigned from Adam to Moses," and in Philippians 2:7-8, that Jesus took the form of a servant and "humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross." His obedience to God was so complete that He actually submitted Himself to the reign of death in order to overcome it! This could not be accomplished by dying, but by going THROUGH death. In doing this He liberated you and me, for we can now be put into Him! We do not escape death, but we experience death and go through death. Being crucified with Christ means we were on the cross with Him; we were not sitting at the foot of the cross and escaping death. We are put into Christ, and He has taken us through death. This is manifested in us whenever we do not submit to the desires of the flesh. What a tremendous truth!

"But we do see Him who has been made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death..." (v.9) In Isaiah 53:9 it prophesies about the death of Jesus; in the original, DEATH is in the plural, namely His DEATHS. Rom. 6:5 says, "For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection." Jesus Christ did not only die physically, but He also died to sin! (v.10) So if we have been united with Him in the likeness of His death, then sin no longer has mastery over us! Being put into death is the forerunner of resurrection. A seed is planted in order that life can come out of that death. We have been planted (united) in the likeness of His death! We have been planted in a death realm with Him who has the power to take us through death and bring us into life!

Unless we understand that we have died with Christ, we will try to inflict DEATH TO SELF upon ourselves. What do we expect to gain by killing ourselves? As a matter of fact, the scriptures say, "Thou shalt not kill". So we don't try to commit suicide; we just identify with Jesus Christ! We accept the fact that when He died, we died. That which is dead is buried. If we do not believe the old man is dead, we will keep on trying to put him to death, instead of burying him. Are we guilty of that? Are we trying to put the old man to death together with all his deeds - like trying not to get angry, not to have evil thoughts, etc.? Trying harder will not make us successful. We have to give up trying, and accept what Jesus Christ has done! The victory is in Jesus Christ! When we fall back into wrong attitudes, we realize that we have not been walking in that victory; instead, we have been trying in our own strength.

Paul discussed this matter in Rom. 7:14-25. He said that nothing good dwells in our flesh. Although we wish to do good, we do evil instead. This is because sin dwells in our flesh. It is only in Christ that we are made free from the law of sin and death. So we have to live in the conscious knowledge that we have died to the old man through death with Christ, and that we have been raised up with Him. If we do not do this, we will constantly condemn ourselves; we will continue doing things we don't want to do, and then blame ourselves for doing them. We will try to clean up our act in order to make ourselves acceptable to God. That is Old Testament law!

We are to know "that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin." (Rom. 6:6-7) Sin no longer has dominion over him! In Romans 6:3 & 10 we receive an amazing revelation! "Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?...For the death that He died, He died to sin, once for all..." He died to sin! This is the death He died! He experienced a different death from ours, for He didn't die because of sin. We die BECAUSE of sin, but Christ died TO sin. The death in Him was a death to sin, because sin could not get hold of Him! When we are put into Christ, we are planted together with Him in the likeness of His death, and His death to sin is now working in us! Jesus took on the sin of humanity, so let us believe that and go on from there. Since we die because of sin, and Jesus died to sin, then in Christ we have been moved to His side - and the view is different from His perspective!

Now we can see why the new ministry of the priesthood differs from the Old Testament ministry. No longer can we minister to the old flesh man! That man is a very "trying" man - he is always trying to be good, trying to die, trying to be happy, trying to do better, and trying to do all the things he is unable to do. Jesus Christ has already dealt with the old man and put him to death! Christianity is more than a veneration of the Lord Jesus Christ. He took us out of death and brought us into His presence and into communion with God! We must believe this and know the reality of who we are in Him! He has made us a new creation - and a new creation has no past!

Paul did not preach about Christ - he preached Christ! Christ is a quickening or life-giving Spirit. Only after we get away from self-endeavor, from trying to put ourselves to death, etc., can we begin to minister to the new creation man. Today the Lord is ministering to the new creation man - to His own body. It is important that our physical body is cared for and kept healthy; how much more important that Christ's body is well cared for! God is not trying to get Adam to be a good guy. He put him to death! Jesus Christ is the last Adam; therefore the first Adam ends in Christ. Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega - He is the beginning and the end of everything. Christ ends Adam by beginning a new man. The new man is the Alpha and the Omega; He is the beginning of the new and the end of the old! If we are still trying to make Christians out of the old Adamic man with his earthy nature, and trying to raise him up and make him a moral person, we are under the same moral law that the Jews were under. It is time for us to see that in Christ, God has put away the endeavor of the flesh, and taken us into the Spirit. He has made us new creatures in Christ Jesus! We now have different food and different fellowship. We do not have fellowship with darkness, but we dwell in the light!

Hebrews 2:10 says, "For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings." All things are for Him and through Him. We give glory to God in all things. We no longer do anything from selfish motives. Jesus was led by the Spirit in all things; He only did what the Father told Him to do! So we too are to be led by the Spirit and to lay down our life in the same way He did! Jesus did not come to glorify Himself. He said, "How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another, and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God?" (Jn. 5:44) Do you think Christ's attitude will change, and that He will receive glory from man some day? Do you think He will come back in human form to receive glory from mankind that is not submitted to the Father? The only glory He receives is from the Father! We honor and glorify Christ by worshiping in the Spirit, giving thanks, and submitting ourselves to His Lordship: this brings honor to the Father.

Many think of Christ as being very weak. Some even think that they will have the authority to crown Christ Lord of all. They say God only acts in response to our prayers, so God's hands are tied if we do not do our part. In other words, that He cannot act if we do not pray. What a false idea of both God and of themselves! They think that God and the devil are having a big battle, and they are not sure who will win, because after God created all things, the devil came along and upset everything. They think that God is now trying to get a few people into heaven so they won't go to hell. That is NOT what the scriptures teach! God wants everyone to be saved, and He is able to accomplish His desire! He works all things according to the counsel of His will! Do you know that Jesus is the Lamb slain from the foundation (disruption) of the world? Before God made the world, He had already planned everything - even before Adam and the devil came on the scene. God planned man's redemption before the fall of man!

It says that He is "bringing many sons to glory." It doesn't say MEN. Just imagine, SONSHIP is for us! We do not doubt that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. The Holy Spirit brings us the things that are Christ's. Jesus said, "He shall glorify Me; for He shall take of Mine, and shall disclose it to you." The Holy Spirit did not come to testify of Himself, "but whatever He hears, He will speak". So the Holy Spirit brings us the nature of Jesus Christ. (Read John 16 carefully.)

The Holy Spirit within us causes us to cry, "Abba! Father!" to God together with Him. (Romans 8 and Galatians 4) This is because we are sons, and God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts! He has touched us; He has caused us to come into unity with Him! Therefore, in unity with Christ we cry FATHER. He does not cause us to cry JESUS, for "in that day you will ask Me no question...if you ask the Father for anything, He will give it to you". It is very important that we don't think of Jesus as being up there somewhere; we know that He is in us! Our spirit has been united with His Spirit, so that we can cry FATHER together. Isn't it marvellous that we have the same Father Jesus has! Humanity is full of sin-consciousness, so by its own endeavor it can never attain this union and relationship.

"But to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation." (1 Peter 4:13) Just as Jesus, the author of our salvation was perfected through sufferings, so we too need to share the sufferings of Christ! This is foreign to our desires; we don't like sufferings! But in order to be glorified with Him, we need to suffer together with Him!

What did the sufferings of Christ consist of? Were His sufferings due to sickness, accidents and/or sin problems? No, these are sufferings that are common to man! These are not the sufferings of Christ. His sufferings of rejection were not caused by His works, but by His testimony that God was His Father. Likewise, doing miracles will not be the cause of our sufferings - people may even look up to us. But as soon as we start testifying that God is our Father, accusations will surely follow. We will be accused of being proud and of thinking too highly of ourselves. The truth of the matter is, that it is pride that keeps us from confessing who we are in Christ!

Our testimony should not glorify ourselves, but Christ! This occurs when we relate what He has done and what He has said. Otherwise we will be testifying of our own works - and that is pride or self-exaltation. If we really humble ourselves before God, we will say the same things God says. Since God has said that we are sons, I must not say that I am a sinner! I am in trouble with God if I disagree with Him. However if I say, "I am a son of God," I have trouble with man. Do you want to be in trouble with God or with man?

"For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren." (Heb. 2:11) Jesus is the One who sanctifies because He is the Head, and we are those who are being sanctified! Notice that the Head (Jesus) and we, who are being sanctified, have the same Father. Isn't that something?! At present we are shedding our graveclothes - the earthly things that belong to the death realm. So let's get them off, put on the robe of righteousness and live in life!

We need to encourage one another in this. We need to be encouraged, and to hear what God has revealed to others. It helps and blesses us when others share their understanding of the scriptures with us. Christ's body is His fullness; He is not full without us. He is not fulfilled until the body manifests His nature!

"For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified." (Heb. 10:14) How wonderful to know that we have already been sanctified by His offering! Therefore it is not necessary, nor is it possible, to sanctify ourselves. We are born into the family of God; we are not adopted as orphans or sinners; nor are we adopted as Adam's sinner sons into God's family. We are not adopted as Gentiles into the Jewish nation or dispensations of God; we are legitimate children! We have the nature of Jesus Christ! His greatest delight was to be in fellowship with the Father and to do everything the Father said! If the Father would have told Him not to do any miracles, He would not have done any. This obedience to the Father is having the mind of Christ! We get carnal ideas about being like the man Jesus. The things Jesus did were signs, weren't they? The purpose of signs is to help us get to our destination. Signs always point to something. The signs Jesus did pointed to the Father and revealed the nature of the Father. Some people are very enthralled with the signs, but they never get to see the Father! Let's keep our eyes on Christ and not be side-tracked or distracted by the things of this world!

"I will proclaim Thy name to My brethren, in the midst of the congregation I will sing Thy praise." (v.12) This is a quotation from Psalm 22:22, written by King David. The Spirit of God inspired David and the other writers of the Psalms to write these things about 1000 years before they came to pass. Verse 13 continues, "And again, `I will put My trust in Him'. And again, `Behold, I and the children whom God has given Me'." In the typology of Israel, the elder brother always got a double portion of the father's goods. If one of his brothers got into trouble and/or lost some of his inheritance, the elder brother would be able to help him out. He was to be like a father to the younger siblings. The elder brother typifies Christ here.

"Since then the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil." (v.14) The devil obtained the power of death through deception, and he can only exercise that power through deception. Truth (Jesus Christ) takes out of deception and death. Jesus took on our humanity; He is the way, the truth, and the life. Mankind was off the way (Christ), and so was lost. To get man back on the way, Jesus took humanity through death when He died. When we die to the elemental things of this world, we can be alive to the things that are in Him.

If we look back, we see that we were lost, for we were in error and death instead of in truth and life. We were all living in the carnal mind which entertained error - the mind which crucified the living spiritual Word. The carnal mind is without life and therefore in death. While we were living in this death, Jesus Christ came in, took us out of error and brought us into truth; He took us out of death and brought us into life; He took us out of our lost condition and put us on the right way! This is how the power of death is destroyed through Christ's death to sin!

The devil has power only in the realm of error, darkness and confusion. When Jesus Christ comes with light, life and liberty, He destroys the power of death by His truth. The truth makes us free - free from the error that caused us to die. God put Adam in the garden of Eden, and He also put the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in there. According to our reasonings, He would not have had to do that - but He did! He divided Adam, put him to sleep, and let the serpent (devil) in. This was all in His plan, and His plan is still working!

"For assuredly, He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the seed of Abraham." (v.16) The promise is to only one seed. This seed was in Eve; it was also in Abraham. And Christ is that seed! A seed has the tree in it; Christ is the seed, and He becomes the tree of the whole new creation. When people are in Christ, they are in various stages of what Christ is.

"Therefore He had to be made like His brethren in all things..." (v.17a) He was made like His brethren in ALL THINGS - nothing is excepted. When Jesus was in the garden, He prayed, "Not My will but Thine be done." The will that needed to be subjected to God, was the will of humanity (the will that Christ had taken on), not the will of the Son of God.

In Phil. 2:7 it says that Jesus "emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men..." He actually put aside all the things that He could have been in Himself. Then He took on the form of a servant, the nature of man in his humanity, and became subject to the reign of death - just like we are. Jesus did not walk with the resident power of God in His pocket (so to speak), taking it out when needed. He emptied Himself; He was made in the likeness of man! He is bringing those who have the Spirit into the same relationship with the Father that He had in the Spirit! Jesus did not do a single miracle in His own ability, for He said He did nothing of Himself. He did it by faith in God! That is identification! He had to come into all that we are, that we might come into all that He is! He lived as we live, worked as we work, in order to bring us into what He is!

"To whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." (Col. 1:27) The Apostolic Church preached the hope that Christ in you is the HOPE OF GLORY; it did not preach the hope of heaven. There is only one hope of our calling, and that one hope is Christ in us. Many will have to trade off their heaven for Christ. That is a good trade! Read also Eph. 2:6;4:4.

"...that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people." (Heb. 2:17b) Jesus has been offered once for the sins of everyone for all time! As the Son of Man, He is coming again to those who love His appearing. He is not coming as the Son of God, nor is He coming to deal with sin.

Since we do not understand God's ways, we often feel as though He has more time than we do. We are to wait upon the Lord. "God leads man to destruction (contrition) and then calls him back." (Ps. 90:3 KJV) Our trust in our human nature has to be destroyed before we receive God's life! Everything within us - the body, the mind, the flesh, and the world - everything that testifies against God has to be destroyed. Only then can we receive His life, and trust His love! When we trust His love we can also trust His timing. Therefore we can wait upon the Lord, and let Him win our battles for us! Waiting upon the Lord brings glory to God! We are an impatient people and find it hard to wait for God's timing. Our humanity thinks our situation might get beyond His ability to help; He might not be able to solve the problem. Let's learn to wait upon the Lord!

"For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted." (v.18) What a tremendous assurance! Jesus was tempted far beyond any of our temptations! He never doubted the Father! He always believed that His Father's way with Him was the best way. He always believed that His Father loved Him, and only wanted the best for Him! Beyond His pain and hurt, He saw a loving, trustworthy Father; therefore He believed Him!

God has a plan, and God's plan includes suffering - not to our hurt, but to our gain! There is no temptation so great that Christ's power is not great enough to overcome it! This is God's promise to us! When we are tempted, let's wait for God to act - not doubting His power, His goodness and love for us! Let's encourage one another to believe what God has said about Himself and about us; He will bring it to pass! Amen.

Return to "Insights into Hebrews" by Lloyd Ellefson

Archived Writings by Lloyd Ellefson