Posted by: phillipmway | June 30, 2013

Something Better

Sermon Transcript: Jesus and Our Ancestors (Part 10) – Hebrews 11:39-40

I. A Good Testimony – vs. 39a

And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us. – Hebrews 11:39-40

As we have worked our way through Hebrews 11 and studied all these men and women, some named, some not, we have seen this common thread. All these by faith obtained a good testimony through faith. All of them. Every one of them mentioned here and hundreds and thousands of others. Hebrews 12 begins by telling us:

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses…

And these are those witnesses. It is a great cloud, an innumerable congregation, those who have believed in Jesus Christ. Do we read the Old Testament with a view toward the fact that many that we read about are object lessons for us of faith?

Think about it. As we read through the Old Testament these familiar stories and accounts of heroism, faithfulness, courage, and even of weakness, sin, and failure – they all teach us about faith. The Old Testament is so applicable to us today not just as we discuss the law, but as we search the Scriptures to know and love Jesus more and more.

These passages and all these faithful show us how to stand firm in our faith in the midst of great joy and triumph and in the midst of great pain and sorrow. They show us people who had incredible longings fulfilled by God and others who depended upon Him for their very food and water, oil and flour, for their very lives.

We see how to stand up under temptation, how to handle grief and loss, how to work through impossible circumstances and how to see God’s hand in every dark providence. All these show us how, by faith.

Now, some will tell us that these faithful show up how important it is for us to know and love and trust Jesus. They say loving Jesus is what it is all about. No need for doctrine. Doctrine divides. Doctrine leads to dogmatism ad fanaticism – maybe even dogmaticism!

But we affirm that doctrine is important, but at the same time we have a plague in some churches today in that we emphasize knowing doctrine but have little accountability to do what we hear. We agree that the Word of God is “profitable for doctrine” but we forget about the fact that the Scriptures are also good and profitable for “reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness.” There is more to studying the Bible than doctrine, and an overemphasis on knowledge only puffs us up in our pride. By faith we can remain humble and use that doctrine to impact the way we and our families live.

All these testify, they witness to us about the strength of faith and the power of God to both give and sustain that faith, even in the most difficult of times. Faith. Taking God at His Word. Believing Jesus Christ. All these tell us that it is worth it. All these also remind us that we are never alone. Never. All these say, “Have faith in God.”

All these, we are told, obtained a good testimony through faith. Their trust in Christ worked its way out in the way that they lived. This is expressed by some as orthopraxy. While orthodoxy refers to the quality of the doctrine to which we hold (being orthodox means we are believing sound doctrine), orthopraxy refers to the way we live what we believe. As we have discussed several times, what we believe works its way out in how we live. So if we really and truly are trusting Christ and holding to sound doctrine then we will live accordingly.

What is a good testimony? It is the living of sound doctrine. For when we are obedient to Christ, even while the world hates us for it, they will give testimony themselves of how we live. Too many “Christians’ today are Christian in name only and do not live any differently at all than the world.

We are told not to love the world or the things in the world. We are told not to be conformed to the world. We are to avoid worldly “wisdom,” worldly doctrine, and worldly cares. We are told throughout the Scripture that we are not of this world. And yet so many in the church look, sound, and act just like the world. Why is that?

To boil this all down and make it as simple as possible we have to understand a plain truth. If we claim something with our mouths – even if we are fully convinced of it in our own minds – and then we live in a manner contrary to that “profession,” then we are hypocrites. The Bible is clear here, all these obtained a good testimony by faith. We cannot gain a good testimony without a living and active faith.

Can people fool and deceive us? For a while, yes. But ultimately Jesus tells us that we will know them by their fruit. Bad trees cannot bear good fruit. It may seem good but it is counterfeit.

So can Christians sin and fail and fall? Surely. Until we are glorified we are living in a war zone. The battle between our spirit and our fallen flesh is a battle to the death. But the test is found in seeing how we respond to sin. Do we harbor it, hide it, and make a habit of it, or do we loath it, hate it, repent of it, and detest it? What is our attitude toward sin?

To obtain a good testimony is as simple as having our lives and mouths work together – speaking and living what we believe. These that we have studied lived their faith, even to the death. Their faith made a difference in who they were and how they were perceived.

If we do not look, talk, and act differently than the world then something is wrong. A good testimony involves the way we talk, the way we play, the way we pray, the way we interact with the Bible and other believers, and it affects how we make decisions and what stands we take and what battle we are willing to fight.

Too often the sad truth is that the church looks, sounds, and acts just like the world. If that is true, then the church is not really the church! It is a false gospel and dangerous doctrine that allows us to look like what we should be exposing as error. We are light, the world darkness. We are salt, the world dead and tasteless. We are full of living water, the world is dying of thirst. We are different than the world. So let’s act like it.

What is a good testimony? It is being like Jesus. It is being holy. It is counting the cost. It is faithful obedience to the Scripture. It is humility. It is the denial of self while we love God with all we are and our neighbor as ourselves. The church must be holy, for her Savior is holy. Are you holy?

II. The Promise – vs. 39b

And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us. – Hebrews 11:39-40

All these in the Old Testament who are mentioned in the Hall of Faith for their trust in God are commended for their faith and the works that their faith led them to accomplish. Above all they pleased God (Hebrews 11:6) and obtained a good testimony both with God and with men. However, the next phrase is quite clear. For all their faith, hope, expectation, and steadfast resolve to take God at His Word, they did not receive the promise.

They lived in the Promise Land, saw God’s miraculous deliverance, accomplished many amazing tasks, but they did not receive the promise. To be sure, they did receive many promises. In fact, Hebrews 11:33 tell us that through faith these “obtained promises” but here just a few verses down the page we read that they did not receive the promise. What is the difference between the promises and the promise?

The promises, plural, were the things that God gave as part of His promises for inhabiting the land, driving our enemies, etc. These were temporary, earthly things that God gave them and did in response to their faith. But the promise, singular, was not fulfilled in the Old Testament. What is this promise then? As the Reformation Study Bible notes tell us:

Though the Old Testament believers lived by faith, they were not privileged to witness on earth the fulfillment of the great promise of God.

That promise of course then is the incarnation. It is the coming of Christ. It is His birth, life, death, and resurrection. They trusted God and hoped in God to save them but they did not see the Savior come.

Can you imagine? These faithful did not have the whole Bible, nor did they see the object of their faith revealed during their lifetime. They lived and died believing God would save them through the coming Messiah. They took God at His Word and this chapter of Scripture shows us all that they were able to do as a result of their faith. Without seeing Him, without hearing of His birth, without the testimony of the Apostles in the New Testament, without ever witnessing God with Us in person – without all of this, they still believed God!

The Promise Prophesied

John the Baptist’s father, Zacharias, upon learning of the birth of his son, the one who would declare the coming of the Messiah, wrote this prophecy we read in Luke 1:67-79:

67 Now his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying: 68 “Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, For He has visited and redeemed His people, 69 And has raised up a horn of salvation for us In the house of His servant David, 70 As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets, Who have been since the world began, 71 That we should be saved from our enemies And from the hand of all who hate us, 72 To perform the mercy promised to our fathers And to remember His holy covenant, 73 The oath which He swore to our father Abraham: 74 To grant us that we, Being delivered from the hand of our enemies, Might serve Him without fear, 75 In holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life. 76 “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Highest; For you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways, 77 To give knowledge of salvation to His people By the remission of their sins, 78 Through the tender mercy of our God, With which the Dayspring from on high has visited us; 79 To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, To guide our feet into the way of peace.”

The Promise Preached

Paul preaching at Antioch references this same promise in Acts 13:

13 Now when Paul and his party set sail from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia; and John, departing from them, returned to Jerusalem. 14 But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day and sat down. 15 And after the reading of the Law and the Prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent to them, saying, “Men and brethren, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, say on.”16 Then Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand said, “Men of Israel, and you who fear God, listen: 17 The God of this people Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with an uplifted arm He brought them out of it. 18 Now for a time of about forty years He put up with their ways in the wilderness. 19 And when He had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, He distributed their land to them by allotment.20 “After that He gave them judges for about four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet. 21 And afterward they asked for a king; so God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years. 22 And when He had removed him, He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.’ 23 From this man’s seed, according to the promise, God raised up for Israel a Savior—Jesus— 24 after John had first preached, before His coming, the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. 25 And as John was finishing his course, he said, ‘Who do you think I am? I am not He. But behold, there comes One after me, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to loose.’26 “Men and brethren, sons of the family of Abraham, and those among you who fear God, to you the word of this salvation has been sent. 27 For those who dwell in Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they did not know Him, nor even the voices of the Prophets which are read every Sabbath, have fulfilled them in condemning Him. 28 And though they found no cause for death in Him, they asked Pilate that He should be put to death. 29 Now when they had fulfilled all that was written concerning Him, they took Him down from the tree and laid Him in a tomb. 30 But God raised Him from the dead. 31 He was seen for many days by those who came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are His witnesses to the people. 32 And we declare to you glad tidings—that promise which was made to the fathers. 33 God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He has raised up Jesus. As it is also written in the second Psalm: ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.’ 34 And that He raised Him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, He has spoken thus: ‘I will give you the sure mercies of David.’ 35 Therefore He also says in another Psalm: ‘You will not allow Your Holy One to see corruption.’ 36 “For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell asleep, was buried with his fathers, and saw corruption; 37 but He whom God raised up saw no corruption. 38 Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; 39 and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses. 40 Beware therefore, lest what has been spoken in the prophets come upon you: 41 ‘Behold, you despisers, Marvel and perish! For I work a work in your days, A work which you will by no means believe, Though one were to declare it to you.’”

The Promise Proclaimed

As Paul was tried by Agrippa, in Acts 26 we read that he said in his defense:

5 They knew me from the first, if they were willing to testify, that according to the strictest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee. 6 And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers. 7 To this promise our twelve tribes, earnestly serving God night and day, hope to attain. For this hope’s sake, King Agrippa, I am accused by the Jews.

To whom is this promise made? In Acts 2 we read:

38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”

The Promise Performed

And how was this promise fulfilled? Romans 4 reminds us:

13 For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. 14 For if those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise made of no effect, 15 because the law brings about wrath; for where there is no law there is no transgression. 16 Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all 17 (as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed—God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did; 18 who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, “So shall your descendants be.” 19 And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. 20 He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. 22 And therefore “it was accounted to him for righteousness.”

And these we have been studying all believed having never seen the promise fulfilled. How easy we have it. We have the Old and New Testament. We have evidence that Jesus came, was born, lived, died, and was raised from the dead. We look back on the day history changed forever, the coming of Christ. And while we too have never seen Him, we know He has come as our faith gives substance to our conviction, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).

These faithful are our examples. They teach us how to walk by faith. Jesus told the disciples that they were blessed for believing in Him having seen Him. He said those who believed without seeing were even more blessed (John 20:29). It is significant that they believed and did not see the promise fulfilled. That did not negate their faith. We are told this to see that their faith was validated, for what they believed eventually did come to pass.

Think about this then today – in the midst of trials and struggles do we have faith that will endure even if we do not see the promise? Even if we do not see deliverance? Even if we die? Do we have the kind of faith that does not blink at threats and glories in the prospects of one day seeing Jesus face to face no matter what we must endure here and now waiting for that day?

We too have promises given that may or may not be fulfilled in this life. But what we have for sure is the promise – Jesus has come! Do we trust Him with our life? With our family? With our all? Trust Him. He is the Promise, ever faithful, never failing, and always interceding for us before the Throne of Grace.

III. Something Better – vs. 40a

And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us. – Hebrews 11:39-40

The Old Covenant

We have studied and seen how God has used these ordinary people to do great things because they had faith. We have seen the works that their faith produced, and we have seen that they had a good testimony. We talked about the fact that they died without receiving the promise. They did not see Jesus come. It was still far in the future, but they did live by faith in the promise.

Now we see that the next phrase tells us that we, presently, have something better than the Old Testament saints. What is it that we have that is better? Obviously they were saved just as we are, by grace through faith in Christ. Obviously they had blessings and provisions from God as He is their Savior. So what do we have that is better?

It is the New Covenant ratified by the blood of Christ shed for the sins of His people. The book of Hebrews throughout is a study of how Christ is better than angels, OT saints, priests, etc., and He has come to bring to pass a better covenant with better promises for His people. Let us briefly compare the Old and New Covenants.

The Faults

For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. – Hebrews 8:7

For all that the Old Covenant teaches us about God and His loving plan of redemption; it was a covenant that had faults. The faults were not with the conditions of the covenant. The faults were the people who entered into the covenant with God. What were their faults? They could not and would not keep the covenant.

Over and over in the Old Testament we read about the children of Israel breaking their covenant with God. They would repent and renew the covenant, but just as soon as they did it seems that they were running off after another sin or another idol. The fault with the Old Covenant is found in the simple fact that the people who were members of that covenant could not keep its terms.

The New Covenant has no such faults because Christ has kept its terms on our behalf. He has imputed to us His righteousness so that we meet God’s just standard of holiness. He did what we could not do. He met the requirements required of us. In that He kept the Law of God perfectly and gave to us His “rightness” with God, there is no fault, there is no breaking or renewal of the New Covenant. He has sacrificed Himself for His people once for all.

The Finish

In that He says, “A new covenant, ” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away. – Hebrews 8:13

The Old Covenant, with its faults, eventually came to an end. It served God’s purposes and just as He planned, it reached an end. We are no longer under the Old system of rituals or sacrifices. The term used here is that the Old Covenant is now obsolete.

The Judiazers tried to burden the church with Old Covenant standards and rituals, but Paul refuted them soundly in his epistles, most notably Galatians. There he defines our uses of the Law now and shows how we have a New Covenant that is never obsolete and will never pass away.

The Facade

Then indeed, even the first covenant had ordinances of divine service and the earthly sanctuary. For a tabernacle was prepared: the first part, in which was the lampstand, the table, and the showbread, which is called the sanctuary; and behind the second veil, the part of the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of All, which had the golden censer and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which were the golden pot that had the manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant; and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail. Now when these things had been thus prepared, the priests always went into the first part of the tabernacle, performing the services. But into the second part the high priest went alone once a year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the people’s sins committed in ignorance; the Holy Spirit indicating this, that the way into the Holiest of All was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was still standing. It was symbolic for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience—concerned only with foods and drinks, various washings, and fleshly ordinances imposed until the time of reformation. – Hebrews 9:1-10

A read of Hebrews 9 and 2 Corinthians 3 shows us that there was a veil between the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle and later in the Temple. This veil protected the priests and the people from the glorious presence of God who in His holiness cannot be looked upon by mortal man.

Once a year the High Priest would go through that veil to sprinkle the blood on the Mercy Seat on the Ark of the Covenant. This was the Day of Atonement for the sins of Israel. If he had not been cleansed properly or had sinned in the presence of God he may have been killed in the presence of God. God’s holiness is serious business.

However, when Christ died, ratifying the New Covenant in His shed blood, remember what happened to the veil? It was torn in two from the top to the bottom. God had come down to man and now Jesus was our High Priest giving us access to the Father without the veil!

Found Wanting

But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. – Hebrews 9:11-15

When we compare the sacrifices of the Old Testament to the sacrifice of Christ we see without any doubt that those sacrifices were lesser. They served to point the way to Christ, showing us that there was a cost for sin. When Jesus became the sacrifice Himself, those animal sacrifices surely were seen for what they were, inadequate for the forgiveness of sins. To truly wipe sin away, Jesus had to die. His sacrifice is greater and better, it is final, never to be repeated. It is sufficient.

The New Covenant

We will look at the New Covenant in more detail next, and in this brief examination we see that indeed the New Covenant is better. We should all thank God today that by His grace we are a part of this New and Better Covenant.

The Substance

Here is the full description of the promised New Covenant, taken from Hebrews 8 as it quotes Jeremiah 31. Let us see what these verses say about the New Covenant:

For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. Because finding fault with them, He says: “Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the LORD. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” In that He says, “A new covenant, ” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.

The Subjects

God promised in the Book of Jeremiah that He would make a New Covenant with Israel. The Old Covenant had faults, in that the people could not keep their end of the covenant requirements. So the Old Covenant has been done away with. It is obsolete and has passed away and has been replaced by the New Covenant in the shed blood of Christ. He keeps the covenant requirements for us.

We notice first of all that this is a New Covenant. It is not like the Old Covenant. It is not like the Mosaic Covenant. It is new. There are better promises and a better sacrifice in this New Covenant.

It is also new in that in the New Testament we have a distinct definition given to explain who this covenant is made with. You see, the Old Covenant was made with physical Israel – all the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who formed the nation of Israel. However, in this New Covenant, the parameters for defining God’s people are specific. Galatians 3 tells us that the promises of this New Covenant have been made with the Seed, not seeds (plural), but the Seed (singular) of Abraham.

15 Brethren, I speak in the manner of men: Though it is only a man’s covenant, yet if it is confirmed, no one annuls or adds to it. 16 Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ. 17 And this I say, that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ, that it should make the promise of no effect. 18 For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no longer of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise.

So this is not the physical lineage, but speaks about Christ. He is the Seed. So those who are in Christ by faith are part of the Seed – the true descendants of Abraham.

Who is the Seed of Abraham? He is also the Seed of woman! Genesis 3 tells us:

14 So the Lord God said to the serpent: “Because you have done this, You are cursed more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you shall go, And you shall eat dust All the days of your life. 15 And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.”

Our lineage is not physical, but spiritual. Not by flesh, but by spirit. In this New Covenant we do not have a heritage that is passed from father to son by birthright. No, now we have a spiritual inheritance by faith as we partake of all that belongs to Christ.

The Substitute

In this New Covenant God will put His Law in the covenant members minds and write it on their hearts. He will instruct us. As a new creation in Christ we will be aware of right and wrong by the convicting power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. He will make sure that we grow in grace and in understanding His Word.

Further, we will be His people and He will be our God. This is a personal relationship. We are His and He is ours. We belong to each other. We submit humbly to His authority and He protects and provides for us. In this New Covenant, we have His Law written in our hearts and minds and we are His.

Also in this New Covenant, those who are members of this covenant – those who are the true Israel, the true people of God and who have His law written in their minds and on their hearts – know God. From the least to the greatest, to be in this covenant is to know God.

This of course speaks of salvation. We are His people, walking by faith, knowing God. We trust Him because we know Him. Therefore, there cannot be anyone in this New Covenant who does not know God. In fact, when some at the judgment claim to be His children, Jesus declares to them, “Depart from Me, I never knew you.” He did not know them and they did not really know Him. They were not in the New Covenant.

As we have learned, God knows those who trust Him, and those who go out from us and forsake their faith prove that they were never of us in the first place. We do not have to be taught to trust Him once we are His, because to be His is to trust Him and know Him.

The Solution for Sin

Another distinct quality of the New Covenant is that everyone in this Covenant has had their sins forgiven. There are no inadequate sacrifices or unpaid sin debts. Jesus has paid it all for us. He bore the penalty for our sin on the cross. That is why we are shown in the Lord’s Supper that “this cup is the new covenant in My blood which is shed for you.” This is so amazing it takes a while to grasp. To be in the New Covenant is to have all of your sins atoned for. It is to be forgiven! God forgets our sin. It is covered by the blood of Christ.

So we see that while the Old Covenant provided a shadow and type of the New and pointed to the Way to Christ, it is the New Covenant that was ratified by the life and death and resurrection of Christ. To be in Him is to have our sins forgiven. Then we can truly understand Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.” No condemnation. No penalty. No guilt. Our sins have been paid for, in full. Jesus cried from the cross, “It is finished.” Our debt was paid and dismissed.

IV. All Together Now – vs. 40b

And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us. – Hebrews 11:39-40

These verses at the end of Hebrews 11 tell us that the Old Testament saints “did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.” While we do have it better in the sense of knowing that the promise has been fulfilled and Christ has come, we also have this in common with all of these Old Testament saints – we will not be made perfect apart from each other. In other words, we are in this all together now.

All together now we will see the final fulfillment and completion of our salvation. All together now we will experience glorification. When Christ returns all of those who have died will be raised and then we all will be changed together as our bodies are finally and completely saved. You see, God’s plan to seek and save that which was lost will end with us all together being finally redeemed.

It is often so easy to think of the Body of Christ in individual terms. We know that the body is made up of many members, but we are prone to think about the part we play, the member that we are, instead of having a view toward the whole of the body. Many members make up one body and so we are all members of each other. Instead of focusing on the individual members we need to see the whole body, with Christ as the head.

The Church, the bride of Christ, the body of Christ, all of these denote the adopted family of God, those who will have a share in Christ’s inheritance as they are in Him and He in them. We do not need to have a mindset that dwells upon only individual members of the body, nor should we be consumed with thoughts and concerns only for our local congregation. We should have a view toward the whole body of Christ, here and in heaven – all of us together waiting for the completion of our salvation!

As we looked at the persecuted church, are we truly aware of the plight, the victory, the strength, and the needs of the body of Christ around the world? I have had discussions with believers in England, Singapore, and Malaysia and other parts of the world and it is amazing to me how the struggles are the same, the obstacles identical, and the needs so similar for the body of Christ around the globe. Yet we have this truth in common, we are members of the same body, we worship the same God, and we have been purchased with the same blood. We also wait for the same blessing that even the OT saints wait with us for – the completion of our salvation on that Day of the Lord when the trumpet sounds and Christ returns.

We will one day be all together now – every single member of the human race that God has saved will one day stand together and be glorified. While many have been saved, and are being saved, and will be saved, on that Day we will all finally be like Jesus. It will happen not one by one or church by church. It will happen all together now, as every single member of the Body of Christ is finally and forever transformed into His image – glorified – the end of our salvation and the beginning of our everlasting life, forever spent in His presence without the propensity or nature for sin.

Ephesians 4 reminds us:

4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

One day the church will be unified. One day all sins and schisms will be wiped away. One day we will be perfect as He is perfect. One day, we will be all together now. Do you believe this?


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