Insights into Hebrews: Part 6

By Lloyd Ellefson

Since God's ways are not our ways, we find it difficult to understand His ways. We cling tenaciously to our natural understanding of God and to our ways! By thinking of God in human terms, we keep Him imprisoned in our minds. We box God into a form of human conception, lowering Him from the true essence of His being, thus creating our own image of Him. Our thoughts embalm Him in a human image. "...you thought I was just like you..." (Ps. 50:21) By thinking He is like us, we make a graven image of Him, a mental image of what we suppose He is like; this reduces Him to a human being, possessing only human attitudes and ability. In contrast, we magnify the devil to the extent that he appears to be bigger than, or at least equal to God. This is not the mentality God wants us to have. We want to break through these barriers to see who God really is!

God wants us to understand that His love surpasses knowledge! This is necessary in order to be filled up to all the fulness of God! (Eph. 3:19) What a fulness God has in store for us! He fills us with His love - with the same self-sacrificing, life-giving love He has! Not only His kind of love, but the same fulness! This love cannot be understood by comparing and analyzing the Greek words which describe His love, for they cannot communicate His love to us; they only give us knowledge, but not relationship. We have to be shaken loose from our idea that God's love is only a greater measure of human love. It isn't that at all! Human love is self-centered and dependent on how we are treated by others. God's love is entirely different and completely NEW to us! His love does not depend upon our reciprocation of that love. His love does not spring from a need to have it nurtured. God IS love! It flows out of Him because He is love! Only in Christ can we get to know the love of God! Therefore it could not be known before Christ came. The love of God brings us a new concept of the love He has poured into our hearts!

Jesus came to save lives - not to destroy them! He loved even when He was hated! Jesus demonstrated this at a time when He was heading for Jerusalem, and had sent messengers ahead to make arrangements for their stay in a village in Samaria. But when the Samaritans found out Jesus was going to Jerusalem, they would not receive Him. So the disciples got angry at them and said to Jesus, "Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them as Elijah did?" Jesus answered, "You do not know what kind of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them." (Luke 9:54-56) His purpose for coming has not changed; He still comes to save men's souls!

He did not come to condemn and to destroy! He came to bring reconciliation! In Col. 1:16-20 it says, "For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities - all things have been created by Him and for Him...He is the beginning, the First-born from the dead; so that He Himself might come to have first place in everything...and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven." Does this include death and hell? What would happen if they were reconciled to Jesus Christ? There is no condemnation in Jesus Christ because He did not come to condemn, but to reconcile all things to Himself! That which is reconciled loses its condemnation!

In the Old Testament everything was based on man's reasoning and his ability to comprehend cardinal commandments, cardinal ordinances, and an earthly sanctuary. Israel was a natural nation with a natural priesthood. The things that happened, happened in the natural. In contrast, everything in the New Testament is based on revelation. We have been raised up into the heavenlies and now have a new view - a spiritual one! Here everything becomes new - we have a new tabernacle, a new law and a new priesthood! Everything has been raised from the natural to the spiritual! This can only come about in and through Jesus Christ.

In Matt. 11:25 Jesus said, "I praise Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that Thou didst hide these things from the wise and intelligent and didst reveal them to babes." God has a purpose in hiding them from the wise and the proud. We have to become like little children to be the heirs of the kingdom. "Yes, Father, for thus it was well-pleasing in Thy sight. All things have been handed over to Me by My 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." (vv.26-7) Nobody knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. Jesus Christ is the revelation of God! No one knows the Father - only the Son! Jesus is the only One who has the true and complete revelation of who God is. There isn't any other! Christ has to reveal God to us before we can know Him and understand Him! This is an important principle in the scriptures and it is completely reliable.

The natural man does not understand spiritual principles. This was frequently illustrated in Christ's discussions with the people. For example, when He talked about the leaven of the Pharisees, the disciples said, "It is because we took no bread." (Matt. 16:5-12) We may smile at this question because we know He was not talking about bread. He was referring to the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees, but they did not know that until it was explained to them.

When Jesus and the disciples came to the coast of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" (v.13) They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; some, Elijah; and others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets." Their ideas differed; everyone had his own idea of who Jesus was. They all thought they knew, but all were wrong. Isn't it the same way today? People think they know who the Son of Man is, but they don't. Jesus was talking about the inner man or the spiritual man who can receive messages from God. But we cannot hear God unless we have the Holy Spirit. The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him. (1 Cor. 2:14) We cannot know Jesus unless He is revealed to us, for no one knows Jesus except the Father. Therefore no one knows who Jesus is unless the Father reveals this to him.

In answer to Christ's question, Peter replied, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." So we see that the Son of Man is the Christ, the Son of the living God! He cannot be divided! Since CHRIST means ANOINTING, the Son of Man is the Anointing, and also the Son of God! The natural mind cannot understand this!

"And Jesus answered and said to him, `Blessed are you Simon Barjona because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven'." (Matt. 16:17) The revelation of who the Son of Man is, does not come by flesh and blood, but by the Father who is in heaven! That is the only way we can know Christ, who is the image of God. Jesus went on to say to Peter, "You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church." (v.18) This rock does not refer to Peter, but to the revelation given to Peter of who Jesus Christ is. The rock upon which the church stands is the revelation of who Jesus Christ is!

Jesus said, "...on this rock will I be building My ecclesia; and the gates of the unseen shall not be prevailing against it." (Concordant Literal) The gates of Hades cannot overpower the church - the church is overpowering the gates of the unseen and entering them. It means we can enter Hades and overpower the its rulers and forces (gates) that are holding people in there. The church has the keys to death and Hades; it has the keys to open the gates. We have to receive the revelation of Jesus Christ before we can overcome those principalities and powers.

Jesus told a parable about two men - one was foolish and one was wise. The foolish man built his house upon sand, and the wise man built his house upon rock. (Matt. 7:24-27) The foolish man represents the old Adamic man, and the wise man represents the second man - the Son of Man, Jesus Christ. Many of the statements Jesus and Paul made, refer to the corporate man rather than to an individual. Although we belong to the corporate man, we learn individually. In this parable the houses are not compared; there does not seem to be any difference between them. We can speak about Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit, the apostles, heaven and hell, etc., from a natural perspective (which seems authentic to us), but it is not revelation knowledge. Our mentality is either governed by our own ideas or based on revelation knowledge.

The wise man built his house on the rock - the revelation knowledge of who Jesus Christ is! Sand represents the many ideas of man. Rains cause the sand to wash away, the foundation to erode, and the house to fall. Our house consists of our consciousness of who God is. If our consciousness of God is based on the true revelation of Jesus Christ, it will remain unharmed regardless of the storms! The spiritual rock that followed the Israelites in the wilderness was Christ. He is the authority of God. This authority now comes out of the throne of God which is within us.

An understanding of the scriptures can only├┐come by the Spirit. God spoke to the fathers and the prophets through His Spirit, and the Spirit speaks words that have spiritual meaning. In order to grasp what the scriptures are saying, we have to wait on the Lord to give us the correct interpretation. Many only want their natural mind satisfied, but there is a dimension beyond our natural mind that has to be made alive by the Spirit. We should always wait expectantly until the Spirit gives us this dimension of understanding, as the early churches did. The rock is the understanding and revelation that proves itself to be true, even when subjected to the severest tests!

Our Christian life should be uniform, consistent and unfluctuating in the very core of our being. Then there will be no suppression of some misdemeanor, and our confession or testimony can bear investigation. If people try to find fault, they can only default us on not keeping their traditions. This is what happened when people tried to find fault with Daniel, and later to Jesus. Just as we cannot make ourselves grow physically, we cannot make ourselves grow spiritually!

Let's look at Heb. 5:10-12. "Being designated by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek. Concerning him we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food." Hunger prompts us to eat. Although we may not understand all the natural digestive processes, and are not conscious of them, the food still benefits us. We grow because we eat and exercise. We do this naturally, without any formula, special schooling, and striving.

That is also the way it is spiritually. If we have a good appetite we will eat freely of the bread of life; if we exercise by obeying God's directives, we will grow spiritually. We cannot grow by our own efforts. Jesus said that it is impossible for a man to add a cubit (about 18 inches) to his stature. No amount of trying will do it. This is true in the spiritual realm as well. However, those who are on milk are dependent on the breast. They cannot feed themselves because they are dependent on someone else. There is an immaturity, an inability to digest regular food when being fed on the breast. Those who are spiritually immature will depend upon the law to guide them in their do's and don'ts; they are not led by the Holy Spirit.

In verse 14 it says, "But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil." The mentality of many Christians is often only concerned with discerning evil things - like finding demons, reasons for sickness, etc. How about discerning spiritual strengths and needs? For example, discerning where someone is in Christ, and in which areas he needs to be built up? Let's not dwell on the evil; the devil's food is flesh! It's important to be able to discern the good and evil which is contained in the fruit of the tree of knowledge. Only in disobedience could they eat of that tree. This good and evil is religiosity; we are not to be preoccupied with this. Let's partake of the tree of life, and walk in the newness of this life!

When Jesus sent out His twelve disciples and the seventy, He instructed them to shake the dust off their feet whenever their ministry was rejected. Paul and Barnabas also practiced that. Why were they to do that? I believe it was to show that they were not partakers in the devil's work. They were disengaging themselves from anything that would not receive the message of Jesus Christ. So often the devil is built up and magnified among Christians until he becomes a lion to them - and people are afraid of lions! If our mentality is focused on every bad and evil thing, we become devil-conscious, sickness-conscious, and sin-conscious.

In order to build up the church, we need to discern the Christ, the nature of the new man in us, and in others! I believe that is the foremost purpose of the church. If the new man is built up, the evil will be dissipated automatically. The things of the devil will be done away with in that way.

"Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of instruction about washings, and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment." (Heb. 6:1-2)

There is very little preaching today that does not contain this foundational teaching of repentance, baptism, laying on of hands and eternal judgment! What would we preach if we left out these foundational things? However, once the foundation has been laid, does it have to be laid again and again? That would disrupt the foundation which has already been laid, wouldn't it? If the foundation of repentance has been laid, why do we have to preach repentance over and over again? Is it because the foundation is not right? A wrong foundation causes us to feel pretty shaky about confessing the things the Lord wants us to confess. If we are full of sin-consciousness, we cannot confess what Christ says we are. Instead, we will continually be dealing with the old man, thinking he has not repented enough. We won't be able to confess that we are a new creation.

We can build on the right foundation! If we build on the correct understanding of who Christ is, we have the right foundation. It will be a solid, sure foundation! A true foundation brings us a new realization. It brings us an understanding of our oneness with Christ - "which is Christ in you, the hope of glory"! (Col. 1:27) Christ is our righteousness, sanctification and wisdom! He is our life and there is no condemnation in Him! We will see that everything is in Christ!

Confessing who we are in Christ often brings accusations. Remarks like, "Who does he think he is?...Isn't he proud?" are common. Are we new creatures in Christ Jesus, or are we not? We have to believe that we are what God says we are, and build on that! We can struggle with specific sins, yet never improve; we cannot build up the old man into a new one! It is the Holy Spirit who brings us the things of Christ; God is not asking Adam to do one single thing, for he cannot receive spiritual things. The Lord did not promise Adam and Eve anything; He gave the promise to the seed! Everything was promised to the seed of the woman! Adam was not expected to do anything to fulfill the promise. When Jesus came, He became the last Adam, and that was the end of the old Adam. Jesus became the new man with the promise, because He is the Seed with the promise! So the entire fulfillment of the promise rests on the Seed - and not on Adam!

Even as God does not expect anything of Adam, neither should we! We can't expect him to quit sinning. All his religiosity - like going to church, paying his tithe and reading the Bible - does not change him! He was crucified and buried with Jesus Christ. If we have not buried the Adamic man, we will give him a pat on the back and tell him to get with it. So often we talk of Adam's fall, but actually he did not fall. He died! God told him that the day he sinned, he would die. Adam's death passed on to all men, and those who are not born again are dead in their trespasses and sins. That Adamic man is dead in his sin; he can never rise up and do anything for God! The old earthy man only listens to the law and death, so if we listen to him, we will live in frustration and death. He needs to be buried! It is of vital importance to see that Christ no longer deals with the old man!

Out of that death to the carnal reasoning of the old earthy man, Jesus raises up a new man! He does not revitalize the old man. We were raised together with Christ! So something real has happened to us in Christ! Now it is up to us to believe it, and begin to live in it! This new man has a desire to obey Christ. The challenge Christianity faces today is in its identification; WE ARE TO IDENTIFY WITH WHO WE ARE IN CHRIST! We have been born again, raised up from among the dead, and are now seated in the heavens! This is living!

Christ is concerned with the new man! For years people have been struggling to make something out of an Adam who is dead in his sins. It is impossible to raise him up again; patting him on the back and telling him to turn from his sin is useless, because he has died. He has to be resurrected into life - not to the righteousness of self, religiosity, and legalism.

John the Baptist preached repentance. When the law is harvested, repentance is reaped. In repentance there is a change of direction. Once we have turned, we don't need to turn again, for then we would be going in the original direction. Once our foundational understanding has been corrected, we don't have to lay the foundation all over again. Once we have received truth, it is always with us and a part of us. Just as in mathematics, once we have learned that 1+1=2, we can apply this knowledge to elementary mathematics as well as to higher mathematics. Once the elementary facts are established, they are still relevant and functional in the more sophisticated math; the foundation does not have to be laid again. The elementary facts are always with us. In the same way, repentance is working in us all the time, but if we don't know this, we will spend our time repenting again and again, instead of growing in life. We are to know that our sins have been forgiven and that we are new creatures in Christ Jesus! This forms the basis for growth!

"For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw (stubble), each man's work will become evident; for the day will show it, because it is to be revealed with fire; and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work." (1 Cor. 3:11-13) Just as we can build on a faulty foundation in the natural, we can build on a false foundation spiritually. Many things are built on a carnal foundation. But any foundation other than Jesus Christ is not a true foundation. We can build with wood, hay and stubble on the foundation of Jesus Christ. Fire will burn away all that can be burned. Only that which is of Christ's nature can survive the fire. So fire is a means of judgment, purification and revelation!

"For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame." (Heb. 6:4-6)

This is often referred to as the unforgivable sin, but it isn't talking about that at all. Look at what it says! It says that if they fall away it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify TO THEMSELVES the Son of God. They are not actually crucifying Jesus Christ, but they are crucifying Him to themselves - they are putting to death the Christ that is in them through their unbelief and reliance upon self! A dead Christ cannot help us; we need a risen Christ! It is possible to depart from the wisdom of Christ, into our own wisdom or mentality at any stage of our spiritual growth and understanding. If we crucify Him afresh or crucify Him to ourselves, we cannot come back to repentance until we quit that. As long as we put to death the Christ that is in us, we cannot repent of our wrongdoing, because He is the only power that will cause us to repent, or give us the ability to come back into repentance. When we stop putting to death the Christ in us, we can be renewed to repentance!

Let me explain it in another way. In Matt. 25 Jesus illustrates what happens after people have received Christ. Some of them have given Him a drink of water when He was thirsty, something to eat when He was hungry, some clothes to wear when He was naked, and visited Him when He was sick and/or in prison. When did they do this to Him? And He said, "...to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me." How can Christ in us be thirsty, naked and imprisoned? How can we not love as God loves when the love of God has been poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit? When we barricade the door of our hearts with the law, we find it impossible to love our enemies! So when we feed on self and its desires instead of on Christ, He becomes hungry for our love. So in a sense, Christ is bound in certain people; He is not fed; He is thirsty, hungry, naked and imprisoned. In this way Christ is kept from flowing out through us!

"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...As the living Father has sent Me, and I live BECAUSE OF THE FATHER, so he who eats Me, he also shall live BECAUSE OF ME." (Rev. 3:20;Jn. 6:57) When Jesus celebrated the Passover with the disciples just before He was crucified, He said, "...I shall never again eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God." (Luke 22:16)

Eating together is a form of communion. Jesus Christ was in constant communion with the Father, for He lived by every word that comes out of the mouth of God. He also desires the communion that comes through eating together with us! Christ is the bread of life that came down from heaven! When we get beyond the forms of the cup and the bread, we see that Jesus Christ is the truth! When we receive truth, we receive Christ - we eat of Him. Truth does away with carnal thinking and brings us into unity with God!

It also brings us into unity with one another. Christ is in you and me, and when we share our experiences in Him, we share the bread of heaven and we share each other. This is true fellowship, this is true communion, this is eating of the Christ in one another. If His life is flowing in us in the Spirit, and we share His life among us, we are communicating and participating in the blood and the bread which is Jesus Christ. True communion goes beyond the forms and symbols of truth, because it participates in Christ's life. This feeds the Christ within us.

Paul said, "...I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you." (Gal. 4:19) Christ is birthed in us from the Seed of the Word. That is how He comes to us. Growth takes place from the time a seed is planted until it is formed again in the new plant. The life in the old seed brings forth the new plant! Without this union, this continuation of life, there can be no fruit. Our spiritual union with the Father produces growth in us, causing Christ to be formed in us!

"For ground that drinks the rain which often falls upon it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God; but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned." (Heb. 6:7-8)

The same ground that receives rain can bring forth either good herbs or worthless thistles! When the ground is cultivated and receives the rain it becomes a blessing. Rain refers to the Holy Spirit. When the Spirit of God comes, the nature that is in the seed begins to be revealed. God sends His rain on the just and on the unjust! However, the unjust continue to manifest unjustness - the fruit of unrighteousness, while the just continue to manifest justness! As we grow in truth, we grow up and mature in the Lord! Truth enables us to discern what is false and what is life-giving. Discernment is very important - it comes from knowing Christ. Once we know the truth, we can discern the false. The counterfeit can be recognized by a study of the original, but the truth will not be revealed by a study of the counterfeit. So what value is there in studying demons, darkness, evil and all that?

"But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation, though we are speaking in this way. For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints." (Heb. 6:9-10) To comprehend the love of God we need to be strengthened in the inner man so that Christ dwells in our hearts through faith, and be rooted and grounded in His love. Then we will "be able to comprehend with all the saints" the greatness of the love of God! (Eph. 3:18) All the saints will comprehend.

At this present time we see history repeating itself. The book of Hebrews was addressed to the Jews who were still in the law of the old covenant; they did not receive revelation knowledge, so they did not have the understanding that Jesus and Paul had. The same difference is evident today, for many Christians don't understand revelation knowledge; they say it goes over their head. Revelation knowledge is not head knowledge. God does not go from head to head - He goes from heart to heart, from Spirit to spirit. A renewal takes place in the spirit. The result of a believing heart is righteousness, and the result of a confessing mouth is salvation. (Rom. 10:10)

The mind is the censoring agent of the information it receives in the natural realm. This can also happen in the spiritual realm. Our problem is, that after we have become believers, we want to continue functioning in our carnal mind. When a word, a scripture portion, or a testimony, is received in the carnal mind, death is inflicted on it. That is where Jesus is crucified. He is the living Word, but the carnal mind puts it to death. If the Jews would have had the Spirit, they would have received Jesus; but they didn't have the Spirit, so they were limited by, and subject to, their carnal mind. After our mind is renewed by the Spirit we see according to the Spirit. If we receive a word correctly in our heart, our mind is renewed according to what has happened in our spiritual nature; we can then listen with a renewed mind. Our heart will then prompt us to act according to what we have heard.

Our talk about Christian things is often a mixture of the human and the spiritual. We think that an inspiring message is meant to give us a shot in the arm to increase our zealousness in self-effort. We do not realize that we need a new heart that can love people with God's love. This love cannot be achieved with all the zealousness we can muster in our self-effort. There is nothing in that old heart that will love God. Nothing at all! We need a new heart!

In the new covenant the Lord says He will give us a new heart! Every Christian has a new heart. Isn't that wonderful?! Do you think this new heart has the same tendency to sin as the old sinful heart? Does it need constant cleaning and straightening out? If this would be the case, there would be no difference between the two hearts. God gave us a new heart which is created in righteousness! So we don't have to try to make the old heart good! Let's just receive the new heart by faith and begin to grow!

Jesus delighted to do the Father's will, so He did not need the law! He did not walk around muttering to Himself, "Thou shalt, Thou shalt not." Christians do not need the law because "Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes". The Mosaic law kept telling us "to do" and "not to do", but we continued to do what we did not want to do. The law was right there to bring us condemnation. When we come to the end of the law, we come to Christ! In Christ it is entirely different! God wants people who are motivated by His desires! He wants us to see His heart of love! When we comprehend His love for us and for all creation, we receive a desire to do God's will. In Him the desire of the heart is to please God. We are no longer struggling against a nature that is against God, because we have received a new nature! As this new nature is released, it will become evident that we are Christians.

Trying to make the old nature good has brought us into confusion. This confusion is augmented and amplified by all the preaching that is aimed at the old man. We must believe that Jesus took that old man to the cross and crucified him. The Holy Spirit in us is not feeding the old man. Why should He? If He crucified and buried him, why should He still feed him? He is dealing with the new man! There are only two corporate men - Adam and Christ. We are in either one or the other. When we become believers we are no longer in the first Adam. We have been taken out of Adam and have been put into Christ. We have been gathered into Christ and are the firstfruits. God will bless you as you live in the new man! Amen.

Return to "Insights into Hebrews" by Lloyd Ellefson

Archived Writings by Lloyd Ellefson