We are exhorted in Proverbs 3:5 to "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not to thy own understanding." Though we know this is true and right, we consistently neglect eternal Bible truths, and we enter into being occupied with self instead of being occupied with Christ's finished work. The great ambition of the Christian is to have our positional truth become our experiential reality. Experiential victory for the Christian begins with a specific knowledge of what grace has accomplished. In this brief writing on distinct themes in the book of Hebrews, we will examine some of these great eternal truths that Christ's finished work has secured on our behalf by his grace.
The great objective of this epistle is, as William Newell states, "to set before these believers' eyes Christ, the Son of God; the Son of Man; the Great High Priest in heaven; and to cause them constantly to occupy their thoughts and worship with God, into whose presence Christ by His blood has brought them: without the camp, within the veil."
This epistle to the Hebrews is the criteria for the believer to, "...come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." Hebrews 4:16 Coleridge said that Romans revealed the necessity of the Christian faith, but that Hebrews revealed the superiority of the Christian faith.
In this article, we will explore some timeless foundational truths found in the Hebrew epistle. It is in these foundational truths that are expressed so eloquently in this potent epistle that the believer learns how to live in and secure for his life, GRACE VICTORIES.
THE SITTING SAVIOR
Hebrews 1:2,3 says, "God, Who at sundry times and in diverse manners spoke in times past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, whom He hath appointed heir of all things by whom also He made the worlds; Who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high..."
This is one of four verses in Hebrews that shows our Savior sitting down on the right hand of God. In view are four different emphases of Christ's finished work. "Sat down" is kathizo, and in all four verses it is an aorist active, meaning He sat down at a point in the past and is still there! The word implies a cessation of labor. The throne on the right hand of God shows Christ as co-equal with the Father, this was a dynamic statement to the Jewish mind.
In this first usage of this phrase, we see Christ's person in view. The book of Hebrews is a book of comparisons - comparing Christ and the angels, Christ and Moses, Christ and the Old Covenant, the New Covenant and so on. Here they are bringing out the eternal essence of Christ, revealing He was the only perfect sacrifice that could "purge" katharismos (to purify) our sins. It first says He was "appointed heir of all things." Next it reveals that "He made the worlds." In verse three "brightness" is apaugasma and points to Christ's shekinah glory in the heavenlies. The writer goes on to say Christ is the "express image" character -- the representation of God; the Logos is in view here. Then all things are upholding phero - sustained, by His inherent power. This is a classic passage on the magnificence and deity of Christ. After all this, proving Christ's divinity, He is also the only One that could purge our sins. "Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world." John 1:29 The Lamb had to be spotless, without blemish. The author is showing that there was a perfect sacrifice, by the perfect One -- Jesus Christ. Since this sacrifice was deity in the flesh, nothing can be added to it, ultimately leaving the Christian in a completed finished work.
The next occurrence of this phrase is found in Hebrews 8:12, where it reads, "For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more." What is in view here is Christ's finished work ministry. We will cover His priesthood in a later chapter. In this passage, however, we see that due to the reality that Christ is sitting down, He can now "...ever liveth to make intercession for them..." Hebrews 7:25 Our High Priest is now interceding on behalf of His children in the presence of the Father. Once again a statement that would grab the attention of the Jewish reader who was used to the high priest making intercession once a year on the day of atonement.
The trail of our "Sitting Savior" now takes us to chapter 10 of Hebrews, verses 10-14, which reads, "By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till His enemies be made His footstool. For by one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified."
Here we find foundational finished work truth - there was one sacrifice for all! This again is a challenging statement to the Jewish mentality as the priests would offer sacrifices daily and repetitively. We find in these verses that by this one sacrifice we are sanctified, hagios - set apart. Verse 10, our sins, past, present and future are paid for, our sin nature is paid for (verses 11, 12) and Satan is once and for all defeated (verse 13)! Verse 14 teaches us that we are 'perfected'. This word is teleioo - to complete or finish. The believer is a complete work by this one offering. The problem with many Christians today is that they don't realize that the work is done, and positionally speaking, God is done with them! The one sacrifice has been made; however, the vast majority of believers are still trying to sacrifice something in order to please God. The work is finished; we all have open access to this new throne of grace, "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." All striving can stop, comparative and relative righteousness can stop, and we are free to enjoy our relationship with God without our religious practices. The greatest victory of grace is when the believer starts believing the work is truly finished.
The final occurrence of this phase is found in Chapter 12:1-3, "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin that doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us. Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds."
So far we have seen Christ in His Person, His Ministry, His Finished Work, and now we can take a look at the inspiration of our Sitting Savior. This Hebrew church was undergoing tremendous persecution and trials. His exhortation to the church is to endure these trials as Christ "endured the cross" verse 2, and the 'contradiction' antilogia - opposition of sinners, verse 3. The writer of the epistle shows that Jesus Christ had joy, despite the shame and anguish of the cross, and the rejection by the very ones He came to save. The Greek brings out in this verse that this joy was pre-existent. It was the joy Christ had prior to his incarnation; Heavenly Joy. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16. It was a Christ that "so loved" us that caused Him to leave His preeminence and become flesh (John 1:14), to be a perfect sacrifice (John 1:3; 10:12) and "purge us from our sins." He returned to His throne on the right hand of God and sat down. Why? The work is finished! Jesus Christ did not moan and complain on His way to the cross - it was a joy to Him as He knew it would restore the intimacy He enjoyed with man in the garden. The believer, because of the perfect sacrifice, can now enjoy this same intimacy and daily enhance their relationship with God; all made possible by the fact He's sitting down, and never has to or will get up again.