Jesus is Better

Posted: April 14, 2016 in Hebrews, Route 66, Uncategorized

Route 66: Hebrews, “Jesus is Better”

Some things are just inherently better than others.  We like to use the phrase “all things being equal,” but that’s not really the case most of the time.  You can look at a burger from McDonald’s and a steak from Dakota’s side by side and know that not all things are equal!  One is simply superior.  It’s a better cut of meat – it’s a better method of cooking – it’s a better way of seasoning – it’s a better presentation…there’s simply no comparison.  If someone had the ability, why would they ever choose a McDonald’s burger over the superior cut of beef?  Yet some people would.  Some people might say, “I’ve eaten McDonald’s all my life, and that’s just what I want,” all the while knowing what other choice was being offered to them.  They’d turn away from the steak and choose the cheap burger. 

It’s one thing when it comes to supper; it’s another when it comes to salvation.  It’s bad enough that people make poor choices about temporary things, but it’s far worse when it comes to matters of eternity.  And yet people do just that.  Presented with the choice between grace and legalism, they choose the law.  They want rituals to make them feel as if they’ve earned their salvation, even though they cannot earn it at all.  They could have freedom in Christ Jesus, but they choose bondage under law.  Even when Jesus’ free gift is clearly seen, they choose the other.

Sadly, that’s not a theoretical situation.  It happens every day when people leave the freedom of the simple gospel to put themselves under ritualistic legalism, be it in evangelicalism, Catholicism, or even Judaism, as those who proclaim Jesus Christ as their Lord willingly put themselves under the yoke of the law of Moses.  That practice was commonly encountered by the apostle Paul during his missionary journeys (as he routinely battled the Judaizers), and it still happens today.  This very thing is the subject of the book of Hebrews, and it is just as relevant today as it was when it was first written.

BACKGROUND:
In regards to its actual writing, the most puzzling and debated question is this: who wrote it?  The honest answer is simple, if not very satisfying: no one knows.  The book (or letter, although the form of epistle is somewhat debated) was included early on with other writings of Paul, and many church fathers thought Paul to be the author, and that tradition has carried on through the centuries.  Some editions of the KJV specifically label Paul as the author, but that is an assumption based upon tradition alone.  At first glance, Paul would seem to be a likely candidate.  After all, he was a Pharisee who greatly desired to take the gospel to the Jews.  He encountered the Judaizers on a regular basis, and was well-versed in disputing them.  However, Paul wasn’t the only one who did so.  Anyone who engaged in 1st century missionary work encountered Judaizers, and people other than Paul were educated in arguing the truth of the gospel.

There are many arguments against Paul as the author of Hebrews.  (1) He was the apostle to the Gentiles; not the Jews.  He certainly desired to preach to the Jews in Jerusalem & actually received the opportunity.  Yet that was the very event that caused his arrest & sent him on his eventual trip to Rome.  (2) It doesn’t read like Paul in the slightest.  There’s no greeting from him, very little of his typical themes, and the written Greek is far better than any of the Pauline letters preserved for us.  (3) Although the author of Hebrews knew Timothy (13:23), it actually argues against Pauline authorship as Timothy apparently had recently been set free from prison.  From Paul’s other writings, there’s no indication that Timothy was ever jailed during Paul’s lifetime.

If it wasn’t Paul, who was it?  Suggestions abound!  Some things can be known about the author.  First of all, it was a HE; not a SHE.  Contrary to the suggestion of Priscilla, the author uses a masculine pronoun for the 1st person singular (11:32).  Secondly, we can assume the author had some sort of apostolic authority, in that it was typically required for a document to be received by the early church.  That leaves out Clement (an early father), and perhaps even Luke (who wouldn’t have been acting as a historian in this book, but a theologian).  That leaves Barnabas and Apollos as possible suggestions.  Each of them knew Timothy, both were well-educated, and both of them were viewed with some form of apostolic authority (Acts 14:14, 1 Cor 3-4).  In the end, no one knows & all guesses are simply that: guesses.

What we do know is that the book was received relatively early by the church and it circulated quickly.  It is found in a very important papyrus (P46) dating to 200AD, and was quoted by Clement of Rome around 95AD.  It seems to have been written prior to 70AD & the destruction of Jerusalem.  Although the temple is never directly named (the author consistently refers to the tabernacle), the priestly services are consistently described as taking place in the present tense.  These were things happening at the time, and thus causing distracting temptations for Christians in the then-present age.

It was that priestly service which was the reason for the book in the first place.  Some Jewish Christians were tempted to go back to Judaism, looking to the Mosaic law & Aaronic priesthood to somehow complete/perfect their faith.  The author of Hebrews wrote to remind them that in Christ, their faith IS complete.  Jesus is the supreme revelation of God – the Son of God – the teacher sent by God – the true Sabbath rest of God – the supreme High Priest of God – and the ultimate sacrifice that satisfies the wrath of God.  Jesus is better than everything that came before Him – He is superior over it all.  Thus our faith is to be in Him & stay in Him.

GENERAL OUTLINE
Although there’s no question that the author of Hebrews went to great lengths to organize his thoughts in the book, there’s very little agreement as to how the author organized them.  Nearly every teacher outlines the book differently, at least in the details.  Broadly speaking, there are some general sections that are quite clear – it’s the fine-tuning that varies.  Overall, there are two parts to the book.  First, there is the teaching of all the many ways Jesus is superior to the things of the old covenant, with warnings not to fall away from Him scattered through each area.  Secondly, there is a section of exhortations and/or application of all of the previous teaching.  If Jesus is indeed superior, then that puts a renewed emphasis on holding fast in faith & how we live as believers.

Part 1: Teaching (What?)

  • Jesus is better than angels (1-2).  Both as the eternal revelation of God & incarnate Son of God.
  • Jesus is better than prophets (3-4).  Prophets = Moses & Joshua.  Jesus is better than the prophetic chieftains that came before.
  • Jesus is better than priests (4-10).  His priesthood is compared with that of Aaron, showing that it is better in regards to priority, power, and practice.

Part 2: Exhortation (Now what?)

  • Importance of faith (11).  What does true faith look like?  Not legalism; it looks like people following the Lord with their whole hearts.  Seen throughout Jewish history.
  • Importance of action (12-13).  It isn’t all intellectual.  Faith-filled followers of Jesus are called to action; just not to legalism.

PART 1: TEACHING (WHAT?)
Jesus is better than angels
Introduction/Thesis (1:1-4)
The letter to the Hebrews begins with what is likely one of the best, most doctrinally rich introductions in all the New Testament.  In it, the entire theme of the book is set forth, showing Jesus as the glorious Son of God, superior to anything else in history or future.  He is the heir – the creator – glorious – the image of God – the sustainer of the universe – the propitiation for sin – the victor over the enemy – and the king of kings.  This is our Jesus.  Has God spoken through other men in the past, revealing Himself through prophets?  Yes – but to receive the revelation of the Incarnate God Himself is far better.  Whatever it was we may have held to before, be sure now to hold to Jesus!

Jesus vs. angels (1:5-14)
The first comparison is against the angels, which is a logical place to begin.  After all, angels are special heavenly beings.  They are an order created higher than humans, although humans were alone created in the image of God.  Yet these angels are nothing in comparison with Christ.  It was only to Jesus that God proclaimed Him to be Son (1:5).  All these glorious angelic beings were actually commanded to worship the Son, and serve Him as His own ministers (1:6).  They give deference to Him, because He is God.  The angels do not rule, yet the Son does (1:8).  The Son was anointed by God (1:9), and shows Himself to be the Creator God (1:10).  None of the angels were promised eternal victory, but the Son is (1:13). 

The point?  Jesus is superior to the angels!  People might imagine angels to be worthy of worship because they are so glorious. (Even the apostle John got confused from time to time.)  But Jesus is better.  They are not to be worshipped because they are not God.  Only God is worthy of worship, and Jesus IS God.

  • People sometimes put a lot of stock into supposed angelic revelation, but we need to be careful on this point.  If an angel does not directly point someone back to the Lord Jesus, or give glory to the One True God as revealed in Christ and the pages of Scripture, then that angel is not to be trusted.  Angels are supposed to be servants of God, but there are some who try to usurp God (i.e. the devil).  We’re not supposed to seek angels anyway; we’re supposed to seek Christ.

Warning against falling away (2:1-4)
Already the warning is given against the tendency to “drift away” (2:1).  If people were punished for disobeying messages of God conveyed to them by angels, how much more deserving of punishment are we for disobeying the gospel conveyed to us by Christ?  To leave the gospel for legalism (or whatever) is not to add to our salvation; it is to neglect it.

Incarnate Son lower than angels, still better (2:5-9)
Jesus is compared to the angels in one other way, which might seem to be contradictory at first.  In His incarnation, the Son of God became the perfect Man.  Yet man is lower than the angels (2:7,9).  Angels were created first, and were given greater power as they are always in the presence of God.  Is Jesus still greater than the angels in His incarnation?  Yes!  It is as the perfect Man that God granted Jesus authority over all things.  “All things in subjection under His feet” (2:8)…  All the universe bows its knee to the will of Jesus.  To be sure, creation is still fallen today & this promise is not totally fulfilled (2:8), but there is no doubt that it will be.  The only reason Jesus was temporarily made lower than the angels is so that He could accomplish the work given Him by to do in regards to His death and resurrection (2:9).  That work is described further in vs. 10…

The victory of Jesus (2:10-18)
Jesus was totally victorious in His work.  Sinful men can now experience a perfected salvation (2:10), as we have been set apart/sanctified/made holy by Jesus alone (2:11).  We have been made His brothers, for which even Jesus gives praise to God the Father (2:12).  What happened is that Jesus destroyed the power of death and the devil, and He did it for humans.  This was not given to angels (2:16), but for people – particularly for those of the seed of Abraham.

It’s at this point the author of Hebrews introduces the idea of Jesus being our ultimate High Priest.  His death upon the cross was not simply any death (like any of ours might be) – His death had a purpose.  It was sacrificial – it was the work of a priest.  It’s this idea of priesthood that needs to be explained, and because the priesthood began in the law of Moses, that’s where the author starts.

Jesus is better than prophets
Jesus vs. Moses (3:1-6)
Although we might normally think of men like Elijah, Isaiah, and Jeremiah as prophets, the first great prophets of the nation of Israel were also its rulers & judges.  Moses, being the prototype of them all.  And yes, Jesus is better than Moses.  Moses was faithful to the things given him by God (3:2), but Jesus is better simply because of His identity.  Moses was a servant; Jesus is a Son (3:5-6).  Moses is part of the house of God, whereas Jesus is the builder of the house (3:3-4).  Thus we don’t look to Moses for salvation, we look to Jesus.  The Hebrews had a history of failure here, which brings up the next warning…

Warning against unbelief (3:7-19)
The Hebrew nation was on the very cusp of entering the Promised Land when they rebelled against God in their unbelief.  As a result, God sent them on a 40-year death march through the wilderness, waiting for the rebellious generation to die off, and a new generation to take their place.  That previous generation failed to enter the “rest” of God (3:11).  The Author warned his readers not to make the same mistake.  They could find themselves with an “evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God” (3:12), and their own hearts could be hardened.  It was the unbelief of the Hebrews that prevented them from knowing God’s saving rest, and the same thing could happen to the readers of this letter.

  • The same thing can happen to us!  To hear and understand the good news of salvation in Christ, and yet to turn away is to rebel against God & fail to enter His rest.  God offers true rest.  We cannot work to prove ourselves good to God, and God does not expect us to do so.  He Himself made it possible for us to become good, all by the gift of His grace.  Rest in it!  Believe what Jesus offers you, and enter the rest of God.
  • Have you hardened your heart?  Perhaps you need to ask God to break it for you.  Beware that you do not come to the edge of the eternal promised land and turn away!

Jesus vs. Joshua (4:1-13)
The Author goes on to write of the promise of entering the true rest (the true Sabbath) of God.  Even to that day, the promise remained.  The people of Moses’ day did not experience it because they did not have faith.  Not even the people of Joshua’s day experienced the true Sabbath rest of God because God’s offer to enter remained valid after Joshua and the people entered the land (4:8).  The land was only a preview of the rest of God; it wasn’t the true rest.  The true rest offered by God is the Sabbath rest that God Himself exampled on the 7th day of creation (4:10).

The question then becomes: how do we enter that rest?  We are to be diligent to enter it (4:11), and the word of God convicts us that the teaching regarding God’s rest is true (4:12).  Answer: we enter God’s rest through faith.  That’s the whole point of Chapter 4.  Jesus is greater than Joshua because Jesus is greater than the promised land seen by Joshua.  Jesus IS the promised Sabbath rest of God!  We enter the Sabbath rest of God when we enter into salvation through faith in Christ.

  • This is where Sabbatarians and other legalists so sadly miss the point of the 4th Commandment.  When God says “Remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy,” (Exo 20:8), it wasn’t to give Israel a specific way of earning their salvation.  They couldn’t keep this portion of the law any better than any other part of it.  It certainly was to give them a sign of their covenant with God, but it was also to point to a promise of true rest.  Someone doesn’t “rest” by working as hard as they can not to work.  They rest by resting.  Jesus DID the work.  He declared from the cross “It is finished!”  There is nothing left to do – Jesus did it all.  Now we keep the Sabbath when we believe upon the Lord of the Sabbath, when we rest in Christ.

Jesus is better than priests
Jesus qualified to be High Priest (4:14-5:14)
In the final comparison, Jesus’ priesthood will be compared to that of Aaron/Levi.  This is where the people saw the ritual and legalism most often, so this is where the Author spends a lot of his time.  The first thing he needs to establish is Jesus’ qualifications to be High Priest.  He certainly is compassionate towards us, like any good priest ought to be, but that is not enough to qualify someone for the priesthood.  According to the Mosaic law, the priests came from the tribe of Levi & the lineage of Aaron.  Jesus did not, as He was of the tribe of Judah, so this sets up a potential conflict.  Yet God had an eternal plan to deal with that.

Jesus did not appoint Himself High Priest; this was given Him by God the Father (5:5), and the Father set it up to be done according to the “order of Melchizedek” – something which will be explained in further details later on.  Yet in this priestly order, Jesus served perfectly.  Again, He is compassionate (4:15), yet He is also sinless (4:15).  He interceded through prayers (5:7), and was truly obedient (5:8).  All of this was done according to the order of Melchizedek, something the Author felt obligated to explain to his readers.  Ideally, his readers would have been familiar with all of this already, but they remained spiritually immature, which is why the Author needed to explain it step by step.

  • As an aside, be proactive in your spiritual growth.  It’s one thing to be spoon-fed as a baby; it’s another thing to be spoon-fed as an adult.  It’s not that our need for food ever changes, but we ought to be able to grow in the kind of food we eat & how we eat it.  By all means, come to church to corporately worship & hear the word of God – but that can’t be the only time you hear it.  We need to learn to read it & understand it for ourselves.  How else will we be able to test what we hear to know whether or not it’s true, if we don’t know how to read the Bible for ourselves?

Warning against falling away (6:1-12)
This is the third warning the Author gives to his readers, imploring them not to fall away from true faith in Christ.  Those who truly abandon the faith don’t come back, as their hearts are far too hardened.  They cannot be renewed to repentance (6:6).  The issue raised here isn’t so much of whether or not it’s possible to lose our salvation; it’s an exhortation and warning not to even toy with it.  The original readers of this book openly played with the idea of going back to Judaism, and that thought was devastating.  The Author had better hopes and confidence for his readers than that.  They had shown the fruit of the love of God in their lives (6:10), and the Author’s hope was that it would always remain, and that they would stop playing with fire.

Priesthood of Melchizedek vs. Levi (6:13-7:28)
In regards to the priesthood, the first order of business was to understand that God doesn’t lie (6:18).  What God swears, God keeps.  When God makes a promise, He sees that it is fulfilled.  God made a promise to Abraham (6:13), and there can be no doubt that God kept it.  The idea of God’s promises is essential to this different priestly order, because God swore this promise to the One who would inherit it (7:21) – it was something from which He would not relent.

Before the Author explains that, he first gives the backstory to this man known as Melchizedek (literally, “King of Righteousness”).  His story is told in Genesis 14, as it speaks of a man encountered by Abraham who is both king of the city of Salem (“peace”) and priest of the Most High God.  Abraham had just experienced a massive military victory, and desired to give thanks to God, so he did so by offering a tithe of all the spoils to God through Melchizedek.  Genesis tells us nothing of the background of Melchizedek (his family, genealogy, age, etc), and thus according to the genealogies of the Bible, he is beyond them.  Historically speaking, it’s rather difficult to tell who this man was that Abraham encountered.  It’s possible Melchizedek was just a normal king, who happened to worship the same God Abraham worshipped, but that would have been a truly unusual situation.  Some believe that Melchizedek was actually a manifestation of the pre-incarnate Jesus Himself, and Abraham paid tithes to Jesus when he was worshipping God.  Whether he was or wasn’t, we can’t say – at the very least, Melchizedek is a type/picture of Jesus that is truly fulfilled in Christ.

The tithes paid by Abraham become pretty important in that it demonstrated Abraham’s submission & subservience to Melchizedek.  If Abraham submitted to Melchizedek, so did Levi & Aaron, in that they were in “the loins” of Abraham.  IOW, all of Abraham’s descendants paid homage to Melchizedek when Abraham did so as their forefather.  Thus the priesthood of Melchizedek was always greater than that of Aaron.  It preceded that of Aaron by 400+ years, and tithes were paid one to the other.

And that’s why Jesus of the tribe of Judah could be High Priest.  He, like Melchizedek, is both King AND Priest.  He is King, being the Son of David.  He is Priest, being sworn by God the Father as being of the order of Melchizedek.  And because of that particular order, it is an everlasting priesthood – it never ends.  As the Author writes, Jesus “has an unchangeable priesthood” (7:24).  His work is perfect & lasts forever…something that is explained in the next section.

Better covenants and service (8:1-9:15)
If Jesus is High Priest, where does He serve?  The Aaronic priests had the earthly tabernacle, set up according to the Mosaic covenant.  Jesus has something better.  He has the heavenly tabernacle & the new covenant, prophesied by Jeremiah & instituted through Jesus’ shed blood on the cross.  Aaron served God according to the illustration we have on earth; Jesus serves God in the reality in heaven.

  • When people go back to Jewish ritualism, what is it that they’re doing?  They’re going back to the pictures.  We have Jesus who accomplished the reality – what more could we ask for?

Better sacrifice (9:16-10:18)
It isn’t just the priestly service that Jesus perfected, it’s the sacrifice as well.  Aaron & others had bulls & goats to slaughter, and it was animal blood that they took into the tabernacle in the picture of atonement.  Jesus offered something far better: His own blood.  Jesus personally died, providing both the necessary blood of the covenant for us, and the sacrifice we needed for our sins to be forgiven.  Jesus did it all, and all it took was one time.  How can we know that Jesus is better than other priests & other sacrifices?  Those things need to be offered day by day; Jesus only needed to be offered once.

  • The cross happened but one time, and that one time is enough for us all!  When we celebrate communion, we do not believe that Jesus is spiritually sacrificed again & again.  No, we “remember,” because His work was finished in the past.  If Jesus needs to be repeatedly sacrificed, then He cannot be Savior, and we are all hopelessly lost.

Warning to hold fast (10:19-39)
Technically, this is both an exhortation and a warning.  The exhortation is to enter the true Holy of Holies by faith in Christ, drawing near to God by holding fast to Jesus.  The warning is not to leave that place.  Vs. 26 is again a warning against apostasy, leaving the sufficiency of Jesus to go seek forgiveness for our sins through other methods.  To jump back and forth from Christianity to Judaism (or whatever kind of ritualistic legalism you choose) is to trample the Son of God underfoot (10:29) – it’s to despise the grace that we have been given.

Again, the Author had confidence in his reader that this wouldn’t describe them.  They would come to their senses & not draw back to perdition (10:39), but continue to believe in Jesus.

  • Once you believe in Christ, keep believing!  Don’t give up – don’t turn aside.  It’s not about the possibility of losing our salvation.  That’s not the issue.  It’s not a matter of seeing how close we can get to the edge of a cliff before we fall off to our death; it’s a matter of staying as far away from the edge as possible!  If we’re going towards Jesus, it doesn’t matter where the edge is!

PART 2: EXHORTATION (NOW WHAT?)
Importance of faith
The need for faith (11:1-3)
How do we hold fast to Jesus?  By faith.  What is faith?  It’s famously described here as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  IOW, it’s real.  Faith isn’t made-up imagination; it’s solid, assured, trustworthy fact.  You might not see it, but it’s still true.  We cannot see Jesus today, but we know that we will.  This was a good point for these readers to keep in mind, considering they could see Jewish priests currently offering sacrifices, but they couldn’t see Jesus and His ultimate priestly work in heaven.  It’s a good point for us, too, in that all we have is faith.  But that faith isn’t fluffy; it’s real.

What does it look like?  Just take a quick rundown of Hebrew history & the famed “Hall of Faith.”

Faith of antediluvians (11:4-7)
Abel showed his faith through his better sacrifice, and even Cain knew the difference when he killed his brother.  Enoch’s faith was demonstrated in that as he walked with God, God took him & he never experienced death.  Noah’s faith is plainly demonstrated through the ark, which took years to build & he did so based solely upon God’s promise.

Faith of Abraham and Sarah (11:8-16)
Abraham believed God & went to a place he’d never seen, all the while looking forward to the promises given him by God.  Sarah believed God for a son, although she was past the age of childbearing.  They saw what they had, but believed God for better…only because God said that better was coming.  God’s word was enough.

Faith of patriarchs (11:17-22)
Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph are all listed as men of faith – again, believing the spoken promises of God.  They had reason not to believe, but they believed anyway & were blessed.

Faith of Moses (11:23-29)
Moses’ background is given, and even some details that were known through Hebrew tradition, but not through the Bible.  Moses denied his adopted family of Pharaoh & chose to suffer with his brothers, looking forward in faith to the sufferings of Christ.  What Moses did, he did in faith, not fearing the most powerful king on earth at the time, but trusted God to provide through the plagues, the Passover, and the Red Sea.

Other examples (11:30-40)
The Author runs the gamut here, including both those we might expect & those we might not.  Men like “Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah” (11:32) are actually questionable in their actions, but they were indeed men of faith.  God saw their hearts, and saw their trust in Him. (Which ought to give us a lot of hope for us!)  Other men and women suffered tremendously for their faith in God, but they stood firm.  What does faith in God look like?  It looks like believing & acting upon God’s promises, no matter what.

Importance of action
Endurance exampled (12:1-4)
It wasn’t just the earlier prophets that suffered & who required endurance, it was Jesus Himself.  He is our ultimate example, and it is to Him that we look.  It is to Him that we run!  He endured the cross for us, so we endure our hardships for Him.

Discipline expected (12:5-11)
One reason endurance is necessary is because of discipline.  Normally when we think of hardships we think of attacks from the enemy or temptations from the world.  Here, we’re reminded that sometimes it is the hand of God’s loving discipline.  God wants us to mature & walk as His sons, so He treats us as His sons and daughters.  And that means that from time to time we get disciplined. (12:6-7)  Don’t hide from it – accept it, endure it, and carry on.  There is fruit at the end of discipline, and it only helps us be better sons & daughters of God.

Serve God in humility (12:12-29)
The Author reminds his readers of where it is we have been brought by Christ.  We have reason to keep on keeping on, being strengthened & pursing peace: we have been brought to Mount Zion & the city of the living God! (12:22)  Jesus has called us, Jesus has saved us, Jesus has given us the promise of that same heavenly city to which Abraham looked.  So have faith!  Don’t turn away, but keep walking with Jesus.  Hebrews 12:28, "Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear."

Concluding exhortations (13:1-19)
The Author runs through a quick set of instructions – not necessarily in any order, but just as a reminder of what a Christian walk with Jesus looks like.  This isn’t ritualistic legalism; it’s simple holiness.  Love others – be hospitable – remember those in prison for their faith – maintain marital purity, etc.  Trust God & walk with Him.  We are not to expect any honor from the world in doing so, but Jesus was not honored by the world either.  We go to Him, bearing His reproach (13:13), giving Him the praise of our lips as a true sacrifice, while also giving the sacrifice of our good deeds (13:15-16).

Benediction & farewell (13:20-25)
The Author’s prayer for his readers is that they would be made complete in Christ alone, empowered by Him to do the will of God.

Conclusion:
Whatever it is the world offers, Jesus is better.  Whatever it is that religion offers, Jesus is better.  Jesus is better than superstitions, Jesus is better than legalism, Jesus is better…period.

You might not be tempted to replace Jesus with Judaism, but there might be other areas in your life where you’ve replaced Him with legalism.  Evangelicals can engage in ritualism just as much as any Jew or Catholic.  We find our assurances in our tithes, or our bumper stickers, or our t-shirts, or our catchphrases, etc.  If it looks “Christian” enough, it’s more assurance that we’re truly “spiritual” Christians.  If I speak in tongues more than someone else, it’s assurance.  If I can quote more Puritan authors than someone else, it’s assurance.  Wrong…it’s false.  None of those things are inherently bad, just like the Mosaic law is not inherently bad.  What’s wrong is leaving Jesus to go back to those things.  It’s like leaving a 5-star steak to go back to a cheap hamburger.  Be careful & beware.  Look to Christ & stay in Him.

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