In this episode we ask the question: How do we steward our salvation? What does faithful and consistent obedience look like and how do we motivate ourselves to do it? Exploring Chapter Three of The Book of Hebrews, we notice that humans tend to substitute something difficult for something easier. Our desire for quick resolution sometimes short-circuits the truth. We need to learn to slow down and actually address the problem at hand.
We’re in the book of Hebrews. We’ve seen that we’ve got a letter here—I claim it’s from Paul. It’s certainly from someone in that circle to some very good friends who’ve gotten a little hard of hearing. And what Paul’s doing is setting up for these very Jewish friends, and he’s going to give a very Jewish letter here. He calls it at the end a “brief word of exhortation.” And what he sets up is this amazing scenario, this amazing picture of Jesus as the Son.
And we talked about how this phrase, the Son, is really an ancient sort of prescription of a great king adopting, not in a familial sense, but in a realm sense, adopting another important person into his realm to help him reign.
There’s this phrase, “Today I have begotten you, I shall be to you a father, you shall be to me a son,” that these ancient potentates used for someone that they wanted to honor as a faithful servant in their realm that’s going to help them reign.
And he sets up Jesus as having won that title because of faithfulness and obedience from the heavenly father. The Son.
He contrasts the Son to the angels. He says, “To which of the angels has he ever said, ‘You’re my son, today I have begotten you?’”
We talked about, of course, that Jesus was never begotten in a birth sense. He is from everlasting. He’s the creator. He’s the first and the last.
But he was begotten in this honor sense. And how did he get that honor? He obeyed his father.
This is who has talked to us in this most recent time period, Paul says. You got the Old Testament through the angels. And everything that happened in the Old Testament happened just like God says it was going to.
If God gave you a consequence for behavior, it happened. He said if you leave the land, you won’t be blessed. They left the land; they weren’t blessed. It happened just like he said.
How much more if we hear things through the Son is it going to happen just like God said?
So, don’t be hard of hearing. Give heed to the things you’ve learned lest you drift away, because there’s this great salvation you can neglect.
A more enduring possession
What is the great salvation?
Well, these are already believers. We’ve seen that these believers are not only just nominal believers. They lost their possessions and were glad. They lost their possessions and were thankful. Why? Because they know they have a more enduring possession in Heaven. These are not nominal believers.
But there’s a salvation that they’re about to neglect. It’s not salvation from Hell. It’s salvation from futility. And what futility is it? It’s the futility of the Fall.
Obedience unto Death
We’re supposed to be the reigners over creation. We’re supposed to have perfect harmony with animals. We’re supposed to have perfect harmony with birds and fish, and with one another. And it’s not happening right now.
We went through Psalm 8, and we showed how Paul takes Psalm 8 to lay out this scenario that’s supposed to be. And then he says, “But we do not now see things like this.”
But what do we see? We see Jesus, crowned with glory and honor.
See, we’re supposed to have glory and honor, just by virtue of our position. Psalm 8 says, “Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth.” You’ve made these low creatures, and you’ve crowned them with glory and honor by letting them reign over the universe. But now we do not see that. But we see Jesus crowned with glory and honor. He has been placed in this position as son. Who for the suffering of death was crowned with glory and honor.
It’s this obedience to the suffering of death that has given Jesus a name above every name. And his goal is to bring many sons to the same glory. And this is a salvation that can be neglected because this is a reward for faithful obedience. And a reward for faithful obedience is only given to people who are faithfully obedient.
So now the question is: How do we do that? I get it. The Son was faithful. I get it. Jesus wants to give us that same honor to follow his path. How do I do that? What does that look like?
So we come to chapter 3, and he says in chapter 3, “Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession.”
And what the punch line of today is going to be is that this confession, which is the Greek word homologia. It just means to agree with something, to be in unity with something.
I looked in the LXX, which is the Greek translation of the Old Testament, looking for this word, and I found a place where it was used to describe the Israelites who had come to confess the Queen of Heaven, which was a pagan deity.
So we’ve got this confession, this agreement. Now who are we going to agree with, the world or Jesus?
But he’s our high priest. And the bottom line of today is this is how we get there. This is what it looks like.
What we tend to do as humans is something that psychologists call substitution, and I could go into great depth about this. I’m just going to mention it. If you want to know all about it, read this book called Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. It’s a very fascinating book about how we as humans behave mentally.
And one of the things we do, this substitution, is if we have a difficult problem, instead of trying to grapple with and solve the difficult problem, we substitute an easy problem.
Marketers understand this, and they get us to take a difficult problem, like “I’m depressed,” or “I feel like a failure,” and we substitute something easy for it: “Buy my product.” Just a few dollars and it all goes away.
That’s what these Hebrews are doing. They’re substituting something easy for something difficult.
But the answer is not to substitute. The answer is to actually solve the problem.
We see Jesus who for the suffering of death has been crowned with glory and honor. Follow that.
But we see Jesus crowned for glory and honor, crowned with suffering and death, that’s a very difficult thing to do. How in the world are we going to do that?
We’re going to do it just one way. There’s really only one way to make this work: and that is to rely on the High Priest. That’s the punch line for today.
Let’s look at 4 if-statements in chapter 3 briefly. And these if-statements really set up the whole scenario for us of what our basic proposition is.
Hebrews 3:7. “Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, “Today if you will hear his voice—” OK so what’s the point there? If you will hear his voice. What’s the question? Are you going to hear his voice? And there are two options. What are they? Yes and no. You can hear his voice, you can not hear his voice.
“—if you hear his voice do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” You can harden your hearts as in the rebellion. And if we do, we’ll get the consequences of that.
3:15. “While it is said, ‘Today if you will hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.’” He’s repeating the same thing over again. It’s a big point.
When is the day to not harden your heart and listen? Today. That’s the day that you can actually act. Today.
Verse 6, “But Christ as a Son the ruler over his own house, whose house we are if—”
This house word. In this case, perhaps it means realm. We’re part of Jesus’s realm, this reigning realm even now, by faith. If we hold fast the confidence. And we can receive this reward of being crowned with the glory and honor, the same thing that Jesus got for being faithful. If we hold fast to the end.
And then again in verse 14. “For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of the confidence steadfast to the end.”
Now I want to look at this word partakers a bit.
Because of our evangelical upbringing, Billy Graham Crusades, emphasis on coming to salvation initially, the new birth, and the constant focus on the new birth. The question of “Have you been born again?” being the preeminent question, we tend to take verses like this and focus in on them as “Are you born again?”
And this word partaker here is really not talking about that. You obviously have to born before you can be someone’s companion, but you can be born and not be someone’s companion.
And this word here is the word metochos. I just want to look at this word for a minute because it’s important for us to understand the conditional nature and what it is we can choose to or not to be.
Metochos. Well, let’s look at Ecclesiastes 4:9-10. I’m going to again appeal to the LXX, so I’m looking for an Old Testament use of a New Testament Greek word. And we’re going to see this word Metochos in Ecclesiastes 4:9 in LXX. “Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up.”
Metochos. Which word to do you think is Metochos? Companion. So, is companion based on going to Heaven or not? What’s companionship here based on? Fellowship. Whether you’re actually doing life together with this person. Whether you’re joined as a partner in enterprise together.
Let’s look at Hosea 4:17. “Ephraim is joined to idols. Let him alone.”
Metochos there is joined. Companioned with. Partnered with.
Ephraim is a chosen tribe. You can read Revelation, and you can see there’s going to be an Ephraim tribe in the New Earth. But in this experiential choice that Ephraim had made, he had become a companion with idols. See, we can become partnered with almost anything.
Also in the LXX we see when they translate David and Jonathan, and Jonathan is having the interaction with Saul where Saul gets mad at him and throws the spear, Saul says, “You son of a—” What’s he call him, a wayward woman or something like that? We would have a different phrase for it in our terminology. But he said, “You’ve chosen David as your companion instead of your own kingdom! You’re partnering with David instead of your own kingdom. Instead of me!” It’s a companionship, partnership, who you keep company with.
You know, the word company is two Latin words. Pan means bread. When you go to Panera Bread Company, pan is bread, and com is together. To eat bread together. That’s the idea. It’s fellowship.
And that’s this word metochos. It’s people that are doing life together, having company together, a partnership, a law firm, doctors that are working together in practice. That’s the idea here. Metochos.
There’s five uses of this in the New Testament I’ve found. One is in Luke 5:7. “So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled the boats so they began to sink.” OK, so that’s even a translation they use: partners.
There’s a fishing company. They’ve got this fishing business together. And if you’re in a fishing business together, what do you do? Fish together by doing what? What’s the key thing you do together if you fish together? You have to all get in the same boat. This is Metochos. Are you in the same boat seeking a common objective together?
So now let’s go to Hebrews because Metochos shows up five times in Hebrews. It’s a very important term. We’re going to see this term again when we get to chapter 6. One of the passages that tends to stump people, and it’s going to be a very important word there as well.
It shows up in Hebrews 1:8. “But to the Son he says, ‘Your throne, O God, is forever and ever.” This is perhaps the only place in the New Testament that calls Jesus God directly. “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever. A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness. Therefore God—” Jesus “—your God—” the Father “—has anointed you with the oil of gladness more than your companions.” Metochos. The guys in the boat with you.
There is this need to restore creation back to what God intended it to be. The whole creation is groaning for it. We’re part of that, what it’s groaning for. For us to take the spot that we’re supposed to take. But when that happens, there’s going to be One that’s going to be above all the others, the Captain of our salvation. That’s Jesus. Metochos. Companions.
The next time it comes up is in Hebrews 3:1, where we started today. “Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling—” companions of the heavenly calling, companions as in in company, partners of the heavenly calling. Are you in the same boat with Jesus to pursue this Heavenly calling? To restore? Is that where you are?
3:14. The passage that we were looking at a little earlier. We are partakers of Christ if, we are companions of Christ if—We’re part of his company. We’re part of his fishing team if we continue to the end.
If you’re out fishing with your friends and you have this big catch, and you’re hauling it in; and one of the guys says, “Oh, it’s 5:00!” And he jumps in the water and swims to the beach. What do you think of that guy? He’s a jerk. He left before the job was done, right?
Well, we’re partners in this calling, this kingdom calling, this kingdom building company, this kingdom building partnership. We’re partners with Jesus in that, if we finish. That’s the point.