The Best Thing I Know
Hebrews 1:1-3; 5:11-6:3
Last week we talked about growing in our personal relationship with God. This week we look at growing in our efforts to glorify Christ.
Dr. Howard Lowry once said that when one speaks on a significant occasion he should say the best thing that he knows. That is why I would speak to you of Jesus. This is exactly what the author of Hebrews was doing all through his epistle.
I. The early church needed to be reminded of its best thing.
The Hebrew Christians, after years of unrelenting persecution, were beginning to focus on some of the church’s good things at the expense of its best thing.
A. Some were wanting to follow angels. Angels do God’s bidding, deliver His messages and watch over His children. Angels are good things, admits the author, but they are not the best thing. Follow Jesus.
B. Some were wanting to cling to their religious heritage and focus on the founders of their faith—Moses, Joshua and Aaron. But, as the author reminds them, the word of Christ is greater than any law of Moses, His promised land is greater than the one to which Joshua led Israel, and His priesthood is superior to Aaron’s. These are good men, but they are not the best man. Follow Jesus.
C. Some were looking to religious institutions—the temple and its rituals. But, as the author reminds them, the earthly temple is but a shadow of a greater one in heaven, and its sacrifices are just an illustration of and preparation for the far greater sacrifice of Jesus Christ. These are good things, but they are not the best thing. Follow Jesus.
D. Some were turning to theology, focusing on the fundamentals of the faith. They sought to define themselves, identify themselves with what the author calls the “elemental truths” of the faith (6:1-2). But the writer suggests that, as good as this list is, they need to be going on to other things. This list is a good thing, but it is not the best thing. Follow Jesus.
II. The modern church still needs to be reminded of its best thing.
A. The church today still has a desire for focusing on its good things at the expense of its best thing.
1. We focus more on the preacher than the Living Word, the sacraments more than the Saviour, the process of worship more than the Person who is to be worshipped.
2. Loyalty that belongs to Christ is pledged instead to his ministers. Trust that should be placed in Christ is instead placed in theological systems which seek to define Him.
B. Perhaps it is time we took all of the good things of Christianity and laid them, humbly and submissively, at the feet of the best thing.
III. Jesus is still the church’s best thing.
A. History validates the greatness of Jesus. True greatness belongs to Him; not to the weak pretenders we make our idols.
1. Sports legends, entertainers, politicians, popular religionists—none of them can compare with Jesus. He alone is without peer.
2. But Jesus is more than the greatest man. He is the very Son of God. He is in every way the incomparable Christ.
B. Only Jesus can save us.
1. Mere mortals cannot save us, no matter how powerful, influential, noble or kind. Churches cannot save us, no matter how correct their doctrine or fervent their zeal.
2. Even the cross alone cannot save us, no matter how brutal and unjust the act wrought upon it or how undeserving the victim.
3. The cross saves because of who was on it—“God was reconciling the world unto Himself.”
The church today seems to live in a Spiritual Never-Never Land.
Peter Pan is J. M Barrie’s classic tale of a boy who refuses to become a man. In similar fashion some Christians refuse to grow up in Christ. According to our text spiritual maturation requires a progression:
I. From Learning to Living
You are slow to learn … being still an infant … not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness (Hebrews 5:11, 13).
A. Some Christians suffer from a learning disability. This was the case for the Hebrew Christians.
1. The problem was not an intellectual one; it was spiritual.
2. Their ignorance was willful, evidencing itself in a conscious refusal to learn.
3. This resulted in an arrested spiritual development. They were still in grade school when, by now, they “ought to be teachers.”
B. Spiritual ignorance, willful or otherwise, is always treated as a serious problem in Scripture.
1. The prophet Hosea warns that “a people without understanding will come to ruin” (Hosea 4:14).
2. On numerous occasions Paul prefaced his teachings to the churches by declaring that he did not want them to be ignorant (Romans 1:13; 1 Corinthians 10:1).
C. True spirituality is a “subject” which cannot be learned in a classroom.
1. It must be learned experientially by living in right relationship with God.
2. Using the model of an athlete who systematically trains to compete, he suggests that righteousness is acquired through regular practice (5:14).
II. We Need To Move From Lingering to Leaving
Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity (Hebrews 6:1).
A. Some Christians prefer the security of perpetual preparation for service to the challenges of actually living for Christ in a sometimes hostile world.
1. Instead of building upon the foundations of their faith, they continue to lay those foundation again and again.
2. Instead of seeking new experiences in Christian living, they are content to repeat the old ones.
B. A religion is a good place to hide from God.
1. Affirming doctrine is much easier than living in devotion.
2. Performing liturgy is much easier than practicing piety.
C. There is no “status quo” in righteousness.
1. To stand still is to begin to slip backwards.
2. As the author goes on to warn (6:4-12) arrested spiritual development may ultimately lead to apostasy.
There are many good things about the church. But if you are looking for the greatest thing, the most glorious thing, the best thing, that I would point you to is Jesus. Jesus is the best thing I know.
Peter Pan is a charming plot for a play, but it is a crippling plot for a life. Those who follow this path never reach their spiritual potential. The gospel calls us to grow in Christ continually.