Insights into Hebrews: Part 9

By Lloyd Ellefson

"For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ." (2 Cor. 10:3-5) The weapons of our warfare are so mighty through God that every stronghold against God can be destroyed. Our traditions and imaginations are very great "strongholds" against the working of God in our lives! Speculations are the product of our imagination and they form the basis of our ideas about God as well as the foundation for our deeds. We are casting down those imaginations which keep us from receiving revelation knowledge of God.

No man knows the Father, except the Son, Jesus Christ, so He is the only ONE who knows God! That is why every thought is to be brought captive to the obedience of Christ. Since Christ is the revelation of the Father, He will give us the right understanding of God. Therefore, the principle of the warfare under discussion, is the destruction of the fortresses that are built by our own speculations of who God is and which prevent us from knowing God. We need to come into the knowledge of God that is in Christ! When we bring every thought captive to Christ, who is the understanding and the revelation of the Father, we are really doing good warfare. All our thoughts, ideas, traditions and images of God have to be brought into captivity to Christ! He is the Revelator who will give us the right understanding of God!

The knowledge of God is the greatest deliverance factor in Christianity. Casting out demons, obeying the law, getting into the Spirit, or speaking in tongues are all given us by the Spirit to bring us into an understanding of who God is. Our walk is to be in Christ; in the true understanding of who He is, we have victory and peace!

"For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; nor was it that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the holy place year by year with blood not his own." (Heb. 9:24-25) This is taking place in the Spirit within us and around us - not somewhere in the heavens.

"Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once, at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself." (v.26) Jesus should not be offered over and over again - as in the Mass - for then He would be suffering more than once! At the end of the ages Jesus put away sin by sacrificing Himself. That means there is no more offering for sin! There is never going to be another sacrifice; He has done everything that is needed to deal with sin. When Jesus was on the cross He said, "It is finished". He is God's complete provision for us and He has done all that was needed to accomplish the offering for sin by coming once at the consummation of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself! So why are many still concerned with the sin question? Do they think the sacrifice Jesus made of Himself is not enough? Is that why they say, "Wait until He comes back and you are going to get it." The scriptures tell us there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ!

"And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment..." (9:27) There are different ways of interpreting "It is appointed for men to die once". I understand this to mean that everybody died in Adam. And that was an appointment; there is no doubt about that! It was not by reason of man, but by reason of the One who subjected him to this. (Rom. 8:19-25)

"...and after this comes judgment." How are we going to judge people after they are dead? When the law came it revealed that all were already dead in their trespasses and sins. So the law was a ministry of judgment and condemnation, for it brought judgment on us. It revealed to man that his own righteousness could not meet God's standard; it produced death to all of our own righteousness. This is the glory of the law! If we accept the judgment of the law, we declare with God, that we are totally unrighteous, unworthy, unfaithful and unable to do anything good. Therefore we are willing to be buried in baptism so we can arise in newness of life!

"So Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, shall appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him." (v.28) Jesus is not coming again to deal with sin. The word WITHOUT has the meaning of being without, or outside the house. He is appearing again WITHOUT reference to the sin question of salvation. If we look at things in the natural realm it seems as though He has not accomplished anything yet. If we look at all the sins people are committing, we have a problem in accepting what this verse tells us. That is why we have to discard thoughts which disagree with what God says. The only way to receive deliverance is by agreeing with God, and BELIEVING He has done what He said He has done! The Spirit has to bring us into truth!

We need to walk in Christ. Walking indicates movement. If we were not moving, we would not need direction. We do not need to be led by the Spirit if we are standing still. How can we be led if we are standing still and refusing to move? That would be senseless. If we are being led by the Spirit we are moving and walking in Christ. "As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him." (Col. 2:6) We must walk according to the understanding of truth and revelation knowledge of God that we have received in every stage of our growth. As we walk in what we know there will not be any compromise or backtracking. God does not take us backwards. When He took the children of Israel out of Egypt, He never took them one step backward. Because of all their unbelief, obstinacy, rebellion and problems, they wandered in the desert, died in the desert, but God never took them back to Egypt. Those who did not believe God died in the desert. God took a new generation into the promised land! If you are moving, you had better walk with Him, and you won't die in the desert!

"Now faith is the assurance (substance) of things hoped for, the conviction (evidence) of things not seen." (Heb. 11:1) Faith is not illusory and without meaning, nor is it transitory like the wind which comes and goes. It is not produced by the mind nor by positive thinking. Faith is the substance of the very thing that is promised and hoped for. We already have this, for faith has substance to it!

How do we get faith? "Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ." (Rom. 10:17) "If any man has ears to hear, let him hear... 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 4:23-24) According to how we hear, we will receive. If we have a heart that really wants to hear, we will receive. Faith has substance, and it gives us the assurance of things not seen. As Christians, we live by faith and walk by faith. Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ, and He is the One who also brought us His faith. Therefore His faith is the true faith! He is the Alpha and Omega, the author and the finisher of our faith. The faith which came by Jesus Christ is the assurance of things we do not see.

There are things which we see and things which we do not see. I used to wonder what happened to the body of Jesus after He had appeared to people and then suddenly disappeared. I used to think He was sitting bodily up in heaven, and if I could just get close enough, I would see Him. However, when we discover that the Spirit of Christ is in us, that the Father came with Him, and that He is the Spirit, then we have a real problem with His body. It remains a problem until we see that the things which are seen are made out of those things which are not seen! Jesus was the Word made flesh. We cannot see the Word of God. We can see the Bible, but it is not the Word of God - it is the scriptures. The real Word of God (Jesus Christ) is spiritual and cannot be seen.

The Word was made flesh. "... so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible..." (Heb. 11:3) The Word was unseen but flesh is in the seen realm. He was the invisible Word, so it was the unseen that was made flesh. When Jesus went away, the order was reversed. Going back to where He was with the Father meant going back to being unseen. He went back to the Father, back to the unseen realm of being spirit - that spiritual unseen Word that produced the flesh!

The same thing is going to happen to us. It has to, because we are in Christ; we are the body of Christ. As believers, we will be consummated into what God has for us. We will be in the unseen realm because we are truly spiritual! We have been born of the Spirit and we are the children of God! God is spirit, and He is in the unseen realm.

Enoch did not go through death, for he was taken up (translated) so that he should not see death. He was not found; God took him up because he was pleasing to Him. Elijah disappeared as he went up in the fiery chariot, but appeared again on the Mount of Transfiguration with Jesus. He was not soul sleeping. Moses died physically and Elijah did not die physically, yet both were there with Jesus. I believe they are alive. Jesus said that God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. The fathers had already died a natural death long before God said to Moses, "I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob." Abraham is alive, Isaac is alive, Jacob is alive! So are Elijah and Moses, together with many others!

Jesus said, I AM THE RESURRECTION. He is alive! Resurrection is not a SEEN thing. It is Jesus Christ! It is not an external happening, because Christ IS the resurrection, and He is within us. Do not look for resurrection to come to you externally, for resurrection comes to you internally!

Faith is an end in itself for it has to function in love. We would like to be people of real faith, do many miracles and be admired by many. God's idea is different. "And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing." (1 Cor. 13:2) All these wonderful, miraculous happenings which we consider the best of all attainments, are nothing without love! Without love we don't have anything! The faith which is rooted in Christ has a firm foundation; the love of God has been poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit; by faith we believe that we have the love of God, and by faith we function in that love. The love of God causes us to lay ourselves on the altar of sacrifice and let our life be poured out for others. How different from human love which always seeks its own advantage!

In Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; the only thing that counts is faith which works through love. (Gal 5:6) We are clanging symbols without this kind of faith. Many clanging symbols are desiring Cadillacs, houses, finances and security. Jesus said, "Seek first the kingdom of God, and these things will be added to you." That means the kingdom of God is available to us - otherwise He would not have said that. It is available BEFORE we obtain all the other things. That means it is available to us NOW! If God rules us perfectly, we won't have any more problems. We then have peace and everything we need.

"By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going." (Heb. 11:8) The Bible teaches us that the gospel was preached to Abraham. When God called Abraham, He said, "Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father's house, to the land which I will show you." That is what the gospel requires. Leave your country, your home, drop all your relationships with your family and relatives, and get out. That means we have to let go of all our natural worldly desires and break every tie with them! Then God will show you what He wants you to do! This has to be received by faith - that is how the gospel was preached to Abraham. The only thing of consequence Abraham did in all his wanderings and in his entire life, was to bring forth Isaac. That was God's primary concern. He was to bring forth the son of promise!

That is also our calling! We are to get out of all other relationships so that the Son can be formed and born in us. The only way Christ comes to us is as the seed which is in the Word. He is formed by the Spirit and born in us. That is a principle. When God breathes on man by His Spirit, it produces a Son. When God breathed on Mary by the Spirit, it produced a Son. When God breathes on you by the Spirit, the Son will be produced. There is only one Son and we are in Him. Everything that happens to us that is of God, is the Son. In a sense, it is always the Christ who is born in us. Every time the Spirit produces something in us, it is always a manifestation of Christ's life! We do not produce anything; it is God producing Christ in us; it is a manifestation of His Son.

"By faith he (Abraham) lived as an alien in the land of promise." (11:9) Abraham really was not concerned about the land of Israel. Stephen said that Abraham never received a foot of it. (Acts 7:5) He did not really get what God had promised, for he died without receiving the promise. (Heb. 11:13) These natural happenings were pictures of spiritual realities. In the natural, Abraham did receive a son, but he was only symbolic of the Christ through whom all the nations of the world would be blessed. Therefore the promise Abraham received was basically in the spiritual realm.

Today the Holy Spirit is bringing us into the fulfillment of God's promise to Abraham. Various aspects of this are pictured by the Israelites crossing the Jordan river to possess the promised land, and all the male children who had been born in the wilderness had to be circumcised. Then the day after they celebrated the Passover, the manna (the bread given them in the wilderness) ceased. They could now eat the produce of the land. Then Joshua was met by the captain of the hosts of the Lord. All these natural happenings are pictures of the spiritual realm. It is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham, and are blessed by Abraham, the believer. (Gal. 3) They too have to receive the promises by faith. They did not receive an earthly land in this world, for they confesed that they were exiles and strangers on this earth and they were looking for a land of their own - a heavenly one.

"Therefore, also, there was born of one man, and him as good as dead at that, as many descendants as the stars of heaven in number, and innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore." (11:12) We have all heard about Abraham - too old to become a father - and the miracle God performed when Isaac was born. God really restored him, for after Sarah died (about 37 years later), he remarried and had six more sons. However, God's concern was with Isaac, the son of promise! We, like Isaac, are also the children of promise. (Gal. 4:28) Ishmael was the son of the slave-woman and Abraham - the father who has faith. His children multiplied much faster than Isaac's. Paul said, "...for more are the children of the desolate than of the one who has a husband." (4:27) There are far more Ishmaels today (that which is produced by self-effort), than Isaacs (that which is produced by the Spirit). It is in the area of self-effort that we have all our problems. It is much faster and easier to produce something through our own efforts than it is to wait for God to produce His image in us! We, like Abraham, have to wait for God to do His work in us and through us. He that is born according to the flesh, persecutes him who is born according to the Spirit. It is the same today!

"All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth." (Heb. 9:13) Has it ever occurred to you that you are a pilgrim and a stranger on this earth? Peter says that we are aliens, foreigners. We speak another language. Earthly-minded people cannot understand us when we speak about these spiritual things. We are from another country. Our inheritance is not in the earth. We are not to be entangled with earthly things. Our part is to usher in the kingdom of God, and to bear testimony of what God is doing. Although Christianity would like to implement moralism and goodness through the legal system, this is impossible. Christ is the end of the law to those who believe. Why should a Christian want to implement a righteousness that can never come by the law? Or, for that matter, any morality which consists of good and evil? In Genesis 3 we see that the knowledge of good and evil comes from the same tree. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil was one tree - both good and evil coming out of disobedience.

Several references in the New Testament state that Jesus Christ is the judge of the quick (that which is alive) and the dead. Your actions will reveal whether you are alive in Christ or dead in Adam, and you will be judged accordingly. "...and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds." (Rev. 20:12b) It is interesting to note that God is not going to judge good and evil. All those who did not believe the truth (unbelievers), but took pleasure in wickedness will be judged. (2 Thess. 2:12)

In summing up Hebrews 11, we see that those who lived and died in faith have a better resurrection. These are believers! They are the ones who can hear the voice of the Son of God; they will be raised without condemnation. In the other resurrection are the people who die in their sins. They will be raised in condemnation, and will have to go through the same process of God's dealings with them as when they were in the flesh, because they retained their sin.

In Hebrews 12 we see that Jesus is the author and the finisher of our faith. Since He is the author, it means that He began the faith in us to come to Christ. It did not originate in us! Strange as this may seem, it agrees with Romans 3 where it says that nobody, not even one, seeks after God, and every man has gone after his own way. Paul took this teaching from Psalm 14:1-3. There is no desire nor ability in natural man to seek after God! When God calls man, the persuasion to come is in the call. This can be compared to a mother calling to her child. The persuasion to come is in the call.

A heart of obedience will receive the call of God and answer it. It will follow Christ and receive more from God. It is important to know that we are chosen by God! Our true desire is to follow Him! Christ is the author of our faith, so the confidence to respond to that word comes from the Christ within us. He is the Word of God; He is the spiritual truth that gives us the confidence to subject ourselves to God in all things. This is how we grow up into Christ the Head.

In verses 16-17 the writer speaks of Esau who sold his birthright, then cried when he lost his inheritance. Notice that there is a difference between a birthright and an inheritance. The inheritance is what the father gives to the one who has the birthright. If we do not consider our birthright important, we are disregarding our inheritance and forfeiting it, because it goes to the one who has the birthright. This is what Esau did. The birthright was not important to him, so he sold it and lost the inheritance. Consequently it was given to Jacob!

When the Holy Spirit within us cries, "Abba! Father!" we know that we are God's sons! We have received a birthright from God! We understand that God has spoken to us! How important is this to us? To consider our birthright important we must really desire to be spiritual persons and be willing to live in this world as aliens. We are people who do not love the world nor the things in this world. Our desire is to love the Father and to show forth or demonstrate the nature of the Father. He has said that we are joint heirs with Christ of the spiritual realities of God! This of course does not refer to natural things; Jesus did not even have a place to lay His head while He was on earth. He said, "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head." When the Spirit speaks to us, we realize that God has given us a birthright, and this entitles us to an inheritance as co-heirs with Christ! How foolish it would be to disregard our birthright by becoming involved in the things of this world and thus dissipating our inheritance! Our birthright is very important!

In Hebrews 12:18 the writer refers to two mountains, "For you have not come to a mountain that may be touched and to a blazing fire, and to darkness and gloom and whirlwind..." We have not come to the mountain which has tempests, darkness and fire - where even a beast had to be stoned if it touched the mountain! Even Moses feared and trembled when the earth shook (he had his own little earthquake), and fire (judgment of God) came down on Mount Sinai! A mountain depicts an authority or a kingdom, and Moses represented the authority of the law. The law is the ministration of death; its purpose is to judge the natural man. Coming in contact with this mountain which has the authority of the law, produces death in us.

When the glory of Jehovah came down upon the mountain, it brought judgment and fear. Many want to address God as JEHOVAH or YAHWEH - a name so holy that they did not dare pronounce it, so they said YAHWEH. They prefer a relationship of law and mystical affiliation with the name JEHOVAH, instead of a FATHER-son relationship. By doing this, they miss out on the very thing Christ came to establish. God does not want a relationship which consists of law, gods, or behavior patterns; He came to establish a relationship with God in which we are one with the Father and Son!

"You have come to Mount Zion and into the city of the living God." (Heb. 12:22) The mountain (authority or kingdom) that we as Christians or believers have come to, is Mount Zion; it is one that cannot be touched, for it is spiritual! It does not have tempests, darkness, fire and shaking - which even caused Moses to tremble. We have come to a different mountain! Notice, it says, "you HAVE come"! It does not say "you shall come". This has already happened! It is not a future event. In Revelation 21 and Gal. 4 we see that this mountain or city is our mother - and it is from above! We have actually come to see that our mother is the new Jerusalem, the city that is above; she is the mother of us all. We also see that she is a covenant. We are born out of the Word of God! When the oath and the promise come together, they produce the Son in us.

Jesus said, "For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother." It is interesting to notice what Paul says in Gal. 4. Allegorically speaking, Hagar and Sarah are covenants. (v.24) We are born of the free woman, Sarah. "But the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother." (v.16) Jesus was also born of this covenant, not the covenant of the Mosaic law, but of the covenant of the Spirit of life that is in Christ Jesus.

"But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly new Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of righteous men made perfect." (Heb. 12:22-23) The heavenly New Jerusalem is our mother, the myriads of angels are all the spiritual messengers of God who bring us to the church of the first-born. They do not cause the quaking of the earth, the tempest, the fire, the blackness and darkness. There is no judgment now; we are now in a relationship of fellowship!

We have come "to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel." (v.24) The blood of Christ has come to take away our consciousness of law, condemnation, death, darkness and lack of understanding of God. The natural mind believes that our life consists of earthy things because we came out of the earth, and receive our sustenance from the earth. We now have the mind of Christ Jesus - this is the work of the blood. It brings us into the awareness that our mind has been cleansed from its earthiness. It also brings us into the knowledge that there is only one life, and that is the life in God. Since He is the One who gave us life, it naturally follows that He is our Father. He has nourished us through the covenant He has given us. This has all been made possible through Jesus Christ. Our union with God is in an entirely new dimension! We are involved in a better resurrection, that is, a better quickening of life and a better understanding of who we are.

At one time God's voice shook the earth, but now His voice is going to come forth with the authority, not only to shake the earth, but also the heavens! Spiritually speaking, the voice of Mt. Zion shakes the heavens. In Luke 10:18 Jesus said, "I was watching satan fall from heaven like lightning." Lightning accompanies the presence of the Son of Man. This activity in the heavens results in the casting down of satan. (Rev. 12:9) Satan being cast out of heaven is typical of lightning; when the light comes to pierce the darkness, the dark clouds bring rain on the earth!

Jesus came to baptize us with the Spirit and with fire; and this fire eradicates, cleanses or purifies. This takes place in the inward man; the outward acts flow out of the inward man, so they will be taken care of when the old inward man has been cast off. Our wrong ideas need to be done away with - our ideas of satan, and the things that cause us to do wrong things. This is what God is doing today through the Spirit. Jesus is not addressing the works of satan, but the root or the throne of satan - the place where he works and operates in man. His work of deception takes place in the mind of man!

Those who are not in the Spirit, are not involved in this. They still work at cleansing the outward man, trying to make themselves right before God, trying to be moral and trying to choose the good. This is an impossibility! This can never be attained by the natural man! If he does not give up trying, he becomes antichrist. The moralism and truth of a righteous person has to come from within, from the Spirit. It can only be accomplished by Christ working in us! He is the deliverer, the redeemer who comes out of Zion, to bring the people of God back to their home in the Father's house.

In Hebrews 13:10 it says, "We have an altar, from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat." Those who still serve the outer building do not understand the offering of sacrifices that goes on in our spirit. "For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy place by the high priest as an offering for sin, are burned outside the camp. Therefore, Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the camp." (vv. 11-12)

"Hence, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come." (vv.13-14) Therefore, the call for a Christian is, "Go with Christ outside the camp, outside of the law, outside the carnal priesthood, outside the natural mind (our natural conception of God). Go with Christ, be willing to suffer with Him, to be ridiculed, to be consumed, to be put away, to be offered up, to be crucified in order to become a pleasing sacrifice to God! You cannot suffer with Christ IN the camp. When you join the organizations and doctrines of men who are putting Christ in traditions and behavior patterns - the things they have learned in the seminaries - you will not be persecuted. You will only be persecuted if you identify with something that is OUTSIDE the camp. You cannot suffer with Christ without identifying with Him!

The sufferings in this life, like accidents, broken bones, diseases, and economic failures, are not sufferings with Jesus. Although these things may not be our fault, they are not sufferings with Christ, because Christ never suffered from these things. We cannot suffer with Him in things He never suffered! Christ's rejection and sufferings came from His testimony that God was His Father, and from His distinct idea of God. Israel and mankind opposed the Spirit which Christ had. We can only fill up the sufferings of Christ by suffering together with Him! The only possible way to do this is to bear testimony of what the Spirit has whispered to our spirit when He called us the sons of God. Then we will also be glorified with Him. As we truly believe that, we will begin to live in the context of spiritual realities, such as being heirs with Christ in spiritual things - and they are in the unseen realm. We are aliens and foreigners passing through this earthly realm. Therefore we do not fix our hope on an earthly inheritance. Our hearts and minds are set on things above - ABOVE not necessarily meaning geographically upwards. It can mean ABOVE the realm of earthiness - in the realm of the Spirit. We have a high calling in Christ!

In the parable of the sower and the seeds (Matt. 13), the seeds fell in various places. Some seeds were picked up by birds, some sprouted and began to grow only to be choked out by weeds. But only the seed that landed on good soil bore fruit. In this parable, GROUND does not refer to the natural soil, sand and rocks - it symbolizes the human heart. Only ground that is prepared is good ground! This is the person who is prepared by God through the law; his hard, thorny and stony ground is broken up. It is conducive to receiving the seed, and is brought into maturity and fruitfulness.

Fruit is the only thing that counts with God. It is not enough to have the stalk and leaves, to wave it in the wind, and make a lot of show and noise. We want fruit! If there is no fruit coming out of our life, there is no reproduction of the seed that was planted! Becoming like Christ means that we confidently confess the things that God says, namely, that God is our Father and we are His sons. We agree with Christ that we have no place on earth to lay our head, that we do not receive honor from men, and that our hope is not in the here and now. As it was then, so it is now, and will always be that way. It is an unchangeable principle - a fact. If we become Christlike, we will be persecuted by those who are born of the flesh.

We have enjoyed these Hebrew studies with you, and we trust that they will find good ground to bear the kind of fruit that counts with God!ΓΏ God bless you! Amen.

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