Sunday, February 17, 2013

Jude - Be On Guard!

Jude - Be On Guard!
By Pastor Lee Hemen
February 17, 2013 AM

What motivates you in life? When I was in a JNROTC program, we were stationed for several weeks at Quadra, a Canadian military base. We had to learn basic commands in French because of the cadets that were from Quebec that were there training with us. All I remember is “stand easy” was “repos,” “dismissed” was “écartée!” and “attention” was “garde à vous!” We were motivated to be alert because if we did not follow the commands quickly enough, we were punished for our lack of knowledge. Our drill instructors did not care that some of us did not know French. We had to learn them correctly and quickly. We were highly motivated.

For the Christian, our motivation needs to be Jesus Christ. When Jude wrote his letter there were those who had begun to get discouraged because they thought Jesus was going to return any day. The signs were all there but He still hadn’t come back. Then, in the midst of mounting persecution, there were those who began to teach other doctrines concerning Christ than those taught by the apostles. They claimed they were “secret” teachings that only the truly spiritual could understand. Jude had to put a stop to such nonsense even if it wasn’t popular to do so. Just like today, believers then needed to be on guard against false teachers and their ungodly teachings. Let’s discover how…

READ: Jude

I remember the first time I stood watch aboard the destroyer I was stationed on during the summer. I was a skinny 18-year-old with a 45-caliber pistol strapped to my hip! I was supposed to challenge anyone trying to come aboard not authorized or who could not be recognized as part of the ship’s crew. I could barely squeak out a good “Halt, who goes there?” Yet, there I was standing guard. For me it was an awesome responsibility. That is, until I had to do it several more times in the wee hours of the morning. Then, it became boring, hard, and a burden. The same can be true for those who do not recognize the importance of their Christian doctrine. They can spiritually let down their guard. This is why Jude wrote that believers were to be on guard by…

I. Maintaining their faith! (Vv. 3-4)

  1. Jude begins in earnest by telling his readers, “Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.” He wanted to “urge” them about what they shared in common; instead, he had to warn them about the struggle they were headed for. Jude relates there were ungodly people trying to slip into the church’s fellowship. There were these certain individuals who were not content to trust the truth of the gospel and instead had to make up their own doctrines concerning Christ. Something had to be done. Jude was telling them to “contend” or struggle “for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.” In other words, they may have to do battle for it if they had to! For Jude it meant both a physical and spiritual battle! Notice that their faith was threatened by “certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago.” Folks had joined, slipped in unnoticed like camouflaged snakes into the assembly of believers, pretending to belong with them when actually they were enemies of the gospel. Jude was being like a guard on duty, challenging the church about these false teachers. He gives three areas of concern: They were 1) “godless men,” 2) who changed “the grace of our God into a license for immorality,” and 3) they denied “Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.” Sound familiar, it should. We know that anything-worthwhile needs constant maintenance, including our faith and sometimes it is a struggle. Jude wanted the early church to be on guard by maintaining their faith!

  EXAMPLE: Our little brown dog used to try and sneak into the kitchen to pilfer the cat’s food. She would wait to see if anyone was watching her and then slyly sneak into the kitchen as if she was going there to get a drink. I would wait until she bent over to nibble the cat’s food, then I’d holler, “Hey! What do you think you are doing?” She would jump at least a foot and slink back to her rug. Isn’t it amazing how people will try the same trick, thinking no one is watching them? Not necessarily pilfering cat food, but stealing other things. This can also occur spiritually within a church as well. People sneak in trying to appear spiritual and godly, when all the while they have ulterior motives. Jude called them “blemishes… clouds without rain… autumn trees without fruit… uprooted and twice dead.” Believers have to be on guard and wrestle and contend against such ungodly people.

A few years ago, a fossil was found that was supposed to be a missing link between humans and apes. The front page of Time magazine read, “How Apes Became Human.” A few fragmentary bones were found in Ethiopia by a graduate student named Yohannes Haile-Selassie. A photo of one small bone was captioned, “THIS TOE BONE PROVES THE CREATURE WALKED ON TWO LEGS.” There was just one problem, they did not tell you until the very end of the article. The toe bone was actually found some ten miles from the other small bone fragments! The whole premise was made from shoddy science! Christians can do the same thing when we adhere to the latest spiritual fad without finding out if it is valid. Jude faced the same problem and tells his readers to be on guard by…

II. Recognizing false teachers for what they are! (Vv. 8, 10-13, 16-19)

  1. False teachers are like Sodom and Gomorrah (v. 8). Jude wrote, “These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit (v. 19).” They were natural men loving the things of the world more than they loved God. So much so, that they had begun to be perverted in their thinking and actions! They were “grumblers and faultfinders; they follow[ed] their own evil desires; they boast[ed] about themselves and flatter[ed] others for their own advantage (v. 16).” And, “like unreasoning animals,” they spoke “abusively against whatever they [did] not understand; and what things they [did] understand [they did them] by instinct!” This is a picture of people who are more in step with their own selfish selves, feelings, and desires than with their Creator! It is the same raw animal instincts people follow today! Jude is telling us that false teachers have understanding that is debased and ungodly! Notice the three areas Jude condemns them for: 1) “They have taken the way of Cain.” This could mean they disobediently devised their own ways of worship, were envious of others, or hated others with a murderous spirit! 2) “They have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error.” Peter declared, “They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Beor, who loved the wages of wickedness!” (2 Peter 2:15 NIV) These false leaders were greedy for money and led others into sin without fear, and, 3) they were “destroyed in Korah’s rebellion.” Korah led a revolt against Moses and Aaron (Num. 16). Their rebellion was actually against God Himself! Cain jealously murdered his brother, Balaam was only out for himself, and Korah spread the lie that they could worship God anyway they desired! Likewise, these false teachers had rebelled against God’s authority; and as a result would be destroyed suddenly. Their destruction was so certain Jude stated it in the past tense, “they have been destroyed.” Their fate was sealed by their actions! Believers are to be on guard by recognizing false teachers for what they are!

  EXAMPLE: I used to spend hours and hours pestering red anthills around our house. I would watch the ants carrying bits and pieces of insects, wood, twigs, and seeds they had found. When I asked my father why they did what they did, he said, “It’s their natural instinct.” I used to track deer, raccoons, and beaver. I would watch them from a distance to see what they ate, how they acted, and where they slept. When I asked my father why they did what they did, he replied, “It’s their animal instinct.” Today, when people do all kinds of ungodly things to satisfy themselves I often wonder why they do what they do. The false teachers of the world would have you believe we do these things because it is our natural animal instinct, but Jude reminds us that we are not animals! We are created in the image of God and are to be His children! Paul would say, “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14 NIV) Believers are to be on guard by recognizing false teachers for what they are!

Have you ever been so overwhelmed by life’s circumstances that you have forgotten just how much God loves you? When we do, we can often turn to other things. Some people use drugs, alcohol, money, or relationships to hide the hurt or pain they suffer. Yet even during those times in life, when we think all is lost and are in utter despair, there is the wonderful light of God’s love. Jeremiah even in his greatest lament said, “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23 NIV) Jude faced a similar problem and reminds his readers to be on guard by…

III. Keeping oneself in God’s love! (Vv. 17-25)

  1. Christians keep themselves in God’s love by remembering, “What the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold.” Paul warned about “savage wolves” that would try to come in to destroy the flock of Christ (Acts 20:29-30). Peter warned, “There were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord.” (2 Peter 2:1 NIV) Jesus warned, “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them.” (Matthew 7:15-16 NIV) Christians keep themselves in God’s love by building up their “most holy faith”! Literally, Jude meant that we are to work at it or to build upon what we have already learned! Not through works of faith, but rather working at being the holy people God desires us to be! Personal edification (“build yourselves up”) comes from progressing in the knowledge of “your most holy faith.” Notice Jude states that Christians keep themselves in God’s love through “prayer”. Prayer is the personal spiritual mortar that builds your relationship with God and keeps it close at hand. We “pray in the Holy Spirit” as we walk with Jesus! And, Christians keep themselves in God’s love as they expectantly “wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life!” Jesus can come back at anytime. This is no End Times scenario. This is why Jude writes, “Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.” Rather when things get mundane or tough in our spiritual walk, the believer is to remember that Christ will return and we are to be ready! Jesus warned, “Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come!” (Mark 13:33 NIV) He said we “must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him!” (Matthew 24:44 NIV) Being on guard is a matter of keeping oneself in God’s love!

  EXAMPLE: Have you ever gotten an unforeseen phone call late at night? Have you ever received news that someone you just spoke to the other day, had died? Why do these things bother us so much? Because, as we go through our mundane life when something like this happens, it is totally unexpected. We do not expect those who claim spirituality to be liars or to have ulterior motives, we do not expect the unexpected. We do not often think about the coming of the Lord either. We often live under the false impression that things will keep on as they always have. This simply is not true. While we cannot be prepared for every life contingency, we should be on guard for the coming of the Lord. This is why Paul wrote Jesus’ coming would occur “in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye.” (1 Corinthians 15:52 NIV) Jesus reminded His followers, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come.” (Mark 13:32-33 NIV) Being on guard is a matter of keeping oneself in God’s love!

Jude wanted the church to be prepared for spiritual attacks from outside of the church as well as inside of the church. He warned them to be on guard and to be prepared for when Jesus does return. I do not know if the story is true or not, but it is said that the Great Wall of China, built to keep out the Mongol hoards, was breached when one guard was bribed. What area is breached in your Christian walk, in your church, in your nation or world? Jude would say, “Be on guard! Contend for the faith, watch out for false teachers, and keep yourself in God’s love.”
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Pastor Lee Hemen has been the outspoken pastor of the same church for 27 years in Vancouver, WA. He writes regularly on spirituality and conservative causes and maintains several web blogs. This article is copyrighted © 2012 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Hebrews 13:18-25 – Vaya con dios! Pray!

Hebrews 13:18-25 – Vaya con dios! Pray!
By Pastor Lee Hemen
February 10, 2013 AM

Saying “good-bye” is always tough with those you love and care about in life. Roger Ebert, the film critic, who has had multiple surgeries for cancer and was once declared dead agrees. He wrote in an e-mail interview that death scenes in movies put unrealistic pressure on the rest of us to be profound. “After all,” he wrote, “those scenes are well-written, directed, and performed by professionals.” Last words have an almost mystical significance in both Eastern and Western cultures, in part because they hold out the possibility of revealing a deep insight or lifting a veil on the meaning of life. Japanese poets wrote haiku at the moment of their death; Jesus related his forgiveness for those who murdered Him. What would you say if you knew the words you uttered could be the last thing the folks you are saying “good-bye” to were your last.

We know the Bible tells us that, “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16 NIV) And we are told repeatedly to pray for one another. But what if you could only pray for one thing, what would you pray? Now bear in mind this is not a wish, like the wishes from a magic lamp. This is conversing with God and having Him answer your prayer. I am so glad that we can pray anytime and anywhere. In fact, we should “not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present (our) requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6 NIV) The author of Hebrews understood this as well. Let’s discover what he asks for in prayer and the prayer he asks for!

READ: Hebrews 13:18-25

In these last few verses, we read some very heartfelt concerns by the author of Hebrews. In saying his final good-bye, the author of Hebrews gets very personal. We discover…

I. He asks for prayer! (v. 18)

  1. It is interesting to note that many of the writers of the New Testament asked for prayer for themselves. Paul would request, “Brothers, pray for us.” (1 Thessalonians 5:25 NIV) In fact, Paul would get very specific in what he wanted his brothers and sisters in the Lord to pray for him about, he would tell them to, “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.” (Colossians 4:2-4 NIV) Requesting prayer from others was a part of Jesus’ life as well. Not only did His disciples ask Him to teach them how to pray (Luke 11:1), but later they were asked by Jesus to pray that they would not fall into temptation (Matthew 26:41; Mark 14:38; and Luke 22:46)! Jesus taught them, “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth; they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.” (Matthew 6:5-7 NIV) So, we know prayer is not aimless babbling or begging. We also know Jesus, “often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” (Luke 5:16 NIV) and He related, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” (John 5:19 NIV) Prayer is conversing with God. The author of Hebrews knew, from Jesus’ own example and from those who had walked with Him that prayer was to be an intrinsic part of the believer’s life. He asks, “Pray for us.” Notice what he remarks, “We are sure that we have a clear conscience.” I believe he is tacitly asking them to examine him and yet to pray that he would indeed have pure motives and a “desire to live honorably.” For him as a pastor, providing the word of truth, without any regard to how people viewed him was extremely important! He desired to be a good steward of the mysteries of God “in every way!” What a wonderful prayer to ask for. In his final remarks, he asks for prayer!

  EXAMPLE: I have discovered that a lot of Christians have a distorted view of what prayer truly is meant to be. While I am always humbled when folks ask me to pray for them, sometimes I get the feeling it is because they think my prayers will be heard when theirs have not been! This is a faulty notion, God always hears the prayers of His people and He always acts on them. What we may forget is that the example that Jesus gave of the persistent widow (Luke 18:1-8) was not that we should “beg” or plead with God until He relents, but rather God is not like the earthly judge who needs to be bugged. Instead, God “will see that they get justice, and quickly!” (Luke 18:8) Nor do certain Christian individuals have God’s ear more than any other believer does. Instead, it is “The prayer of a righteous man” that is both “powerful and effective.” (James 5:16 NIV) We often forget we are to pray within the will of God, plus, we forget God answers prayers in several ways: Yes, no, wait, or not at all. Not at all, because we already know the answer and possibly hope that by our praying we might change God’s mind. However, we are to ask for prayer and this is exactly what the author of Hebrews does.

Prayer is to be our continual life’s conversation with the Living Lord, not some mantra or method whereby we gain God’s ear. It is our personal time with our God. Continuing in his theme of prayer, we discover that the author of Hebrews not only asks for prayer, we also find out about…

II. The prayer he asks for! (Vv. 19-21)

  1. The author of Hebrews continues by asking his listeners to pray specifically for him as well. He states that, “I particularly urge you to pray so that I may be restored to you soon.” He was doing the ministry God had called him to and was absent from them. He desired again to be a part of their lives and he is worried for them. He therefore cannot end his letter before he restates just who they are to depend on whether he is there or not and so he asks for “the God of peace” to assist them. Jesus brings us peace, not as the world gives so it is not a peaceful kind of thing but rather peace between God and us. Paul would write that it is “Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.” (1 Thessalonians 1:10 NIV) As Paul would again state, “Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him!” (Romans 5:9 NIV)  This is God’s “eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep!”  Hebrews tells them that he prays to our Lord Jesus to “equip” them “with everything good for doing his will.” The wording means to “make you perfect” or to literally, “put you completely in joint.” He did not want their lives to be disjointed with what God desired, which is holiness. Paul would tell those he wrote, “…our prayer is for your perfection.” (2 Corinthians 13:9 NIV) He wanted them to be fit or to readjust their dislocated limb to its proper place! The author’s meaning was perhaps they were dislocated and out of joint as church members, and they should be joined together in Christ. He wanted to be restored to them and he wanted them to be restored to one another as well! He also humbly prays, “…may he work in us what is pleasing to Him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” He knew that without Christ, they could do nothing, but through Him giving them strength, they could do all things! Lest we forget, man cannot do any good work well by himself, unless he already has the good work of grace fashioned in him first! Grace is an internal work of God not an eternal good deed of man! He continues by telling them, “Brothers, I urge you to bear with my word of exhortation, for I have written you only a short letter.” Perhaps we discover his sense of humor in this ending, or he really thought it was a short letter! Whatever the reason, his earnest desire was that his words were meant as encouragement to them to live godly lives in an ungodly world. This, then, is the prayer he asks for, “Grace be with you all!” He desires the grace of God through Jesus be evident in their lives, in all that they did. This is the prayer he asks for!

  EXAMPLE: It is a unifying and beautiful thing for a church to pray for one another. The first thing we learn about the early church is the fact that, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” (Acts 2:42 NIV) and that we are to be “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” (Romans 12:12 NIV) Paul also later states, “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” (Colossians 4:2 NIV) and Peter would remind us, “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” (1 Peter 3:12 NIV) In fact, the wonderful truth is that “if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from Him anything we ask, because we obey His commands and do what pleases Him.” (1 John 3:21-22 NIV) The author of Hebrews knew if he asked for prayer from his fellow believers, he would be strengthened and encouraged. He wanted them to be joined together in the cause of Christ and so he ends his sermon by praying for them, “Grace be with you all!” This was his “good-bye,” his final Vaya con dios! This is the prayer he asks for!


In his final remarks, the author of Hebrews asks for prayer and ends with the prayer he asks for!
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Pastor Lee Hemen has been the outspoken pastor of the same church for 27 years in Vancouver, WA. He writes regularly on spirituality and conservative causes and maintains several web blogs. This article is copyrighted © 2012 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Hebrews 13:7-17 – We’re following the Leader!

Hebrews 13:7-17 – We’re following the Leader!
By Pastor Lee Hemen
February 3, 2013 AM

In the Walt Disney cartoon “Peter Pan”, the Lost Boys sing a song entitled “Following the Leader.” The lyrics are “Following the leader, the leader, the leader; we’re following the leader wherever he may go! Tee dum, tee dee, A teedle ee do tee day. Tee dum, tee dee; It's part of the game we play! Tee dum, tee dee, The words are easy to say. Just a teedle ee dum a teedle ee do tee day!” It continues by relating, “We're one for all and all of us out for fun! We march in line and follow the other one! With a teedle ee do a teedle ee di tee dum!” And sadly, this can be the mantra of far too many in our day and age as they blindly follow politicians, the media, and superstars. We want to be very careful when we blindly follow earthly leaders.

Hebrews is ending his sermon and desires to leave his listeners with some advice they won’t soon forget. With all the voices trying to gain their attention concerning their spirituality, he did not want them to be lead astray. Cultic teachings were also creeping into Christianity. Mysticism, Gnosticism, and even some Hinduism was beginning to make their inroads into vying for precedence. Just like today, folks back then wrongly thought that any spirituality was just as valid as the next. This simply is a bogus notion. Our song of life should be, “We’re following the Leader!” Let’s discover why…

READ: Hebrews 13:7-17

Far too often, folks treat their churches and its leadership like an umpire in a baseball game, when a call does not go the way they want, they cry, “Throw the Bum out!” or they find a new team to cheer on. Hebrews reminds us that…

I. We are to remember the example of godly leadership! (Vv. 7, 17)

  1. Imitation is not necessarily a bad thing if the person who you are imitating is a godly individual. Here the pastor writes, “Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you.” He did not mean just any leader, but those who had spoken the word of God. Evidently, they were neglecting those who diligently taught them the word of truth. In our day and age, whereby we think there are no absolutes, it is kind of archaic for us to hear this kind of command. Clarke writes that the wording is literally, “Remember your guides, who have spoken unto you the doctrine of God.” This then becomes more significant. This notion will become even more evident as we move further into what Hebrews is teaching. There has been a heresy that teaching doctrine is divisive and thereby destructive to the fellowship of the church of God. This in of itself is heresy. What you believe and why is extremely important because there are absolutes. This is why we are to “Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.” Nothing speaks louder than words than one’s own consistent life in the Lord. We forget that there is sacredness in following those who are called of God. When we place ourselves under their tutelage, we become responsible for what we have learned. This is why he writes, “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority.” We, as sinful folk, have a problem with obedience. We may say we “follow Jesus” but we often do not. And, if we follow Jesus then we will obey those He has called. The reason for the writer was obvious, “They keep watch over you as men who must give an account.” Paul wrote that all believers “will give an account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12), and that we “must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine.” (Titus 2:1 NIV) Therefore, “Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.” Far too often we either wrongly idolize our godly leaders or we disdain them when we do not like what they are trying to teach us. When we do, we forget we’re following the Leader and we are to remember the example of godly leadership!

  EXAMPLE: Examine the words of Psalm 86, and you will discover that you are reading the reflections of a godly leader. King David prayed, “Hear, O LORD, and answer me, for I am poor and needy.” (v.1). Then the king of Israel prays, “Guard my life, for I am devoted to you. You are my God; save your servant who trusts in you.” Here was the man God had chosen to lead His people, pleading for God’s help! As we consider the role of leaders, it’s crucial that we understand what godly leadership means. Max De Pree, businessman and author, whose leadership moved his company into the Fortune 500, relates, “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between the two, the leader must become a servant and a debtor. That sums up the progress of an artful leader.” “Servant and debtor” describe David’s view of himself as he asked God for help during his time of leadership. The “poor and needy” servant-leader who trusts God is the one who, in the end, can say as David did, “for you, O LORD, have helped me and comforted me” (v.17). We are to remember the example of godly leadership!

Faith is not about us feeling good about ourselves; it is about what we place our trust in for eternity. We cannot keep one foot in the grave dirt of the world and expect to live holy lives fit for heaven. Hebrews teaches us that…

II. We are to follow godly leaders outside of what the world teaches! (Vv. 9-14)

  1. We are not to allow ourselves as believers to be “carried away by all kinds of strange teachings.” Sadly, there are those who when they read the latest fad of faith, begin to immediately adhere to it. The idea here in Hebrews is to not be whirled away or blown off course by the latest spiritual teaching. He reminds us, “It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by ceremonial foods, which are of no value to those who eat them.” Evidently, there were those who adhered to some “strange teachings” concerning ceremonial foods. They were worthless. There are always those who espouse, “Getting in touch with ones’ self,” yet we are reminded, “We have an altar from which those who minister at the tabernacle have no right to eat.” Odd individuals with strange ideas concerning our faith in Christ have no right to eat at the same heavenly table as we do. The Christian altar is the Christian sacrifice, which is Christ Jesus, with all the benefits of his death and resurrection. Hebrews reminds his listeners, “The high priest carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Place as a sin offering, but the bodies are burned outside the camp.” When the blood was sprinkled before the holy place to make atonement for sin, the skins, flesh, entrails, and everything else was carried outside the camp, and there entirely consumed by fire. It was considered unclean. However, “Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood.” He made that which was unclean, clean by His ultimate sacrifice! We are to leave ungodly teaching behind us immediately and adhere to what we learned from godly mentors. “Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore.” This, therefore, is the journey we must take and this is the decision we must make. “For here,” in this world, in this life, and in this existence, “we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come!” We are to follow godly leaders outside of what the world teaches!

  EXAMPLE: Follow me!” That was the invitation given by Marshall Applewhite, self-appointed leader of the Heaven’s Gate cult. He promised to those who would become his disciples that he would teach them how they could move on to a higher level of life in a new world. Sincere but gullible men and women left families, friends, homes, and jobs to live and work together and to obey their leader’s teachings. In fact, 38 disciples followed him even when he told them to commit suicide. He said they would be liberated from terrestrial bondage and enter into an exalted state of being. Many in our world ask us to “Follow me!” Whether it is cult leaders like Applewhite, educators, friends, or others who ask us to blithely follow them, we need to be aware of where they will ultimately lead us. The apostle John wrote, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world--the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does--comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.” (1 John 2:15-17 NIV) We are to follow godly leaders outside of what the world teaches!

Humans, like blue jays, crows, and camp robbers, can be attracted to shiny objects. Why is that? Perhaps it is because we equate shininess with purity or cleanliness. Maybe this is why we are so eager to follow someone new, who has a shiny new idea. Hebrews reminds us that…

III. The Ultimate Leader we follow is Jesus Christ! (Vv. 8, 15-16)

  1. When we begin to have our ears tickled by the latest fad of faith, we forget the fact that there is no other way to the holiest of holies than through the blood of Christ. We live in such a day and age when we look for the easy answer. Paul would warn, “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4 NIV) Our “myths” are the latest booklet on how to. We must never forget that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever!” While we may try to change Him or His teaching, He remains the same. “To the conclusion of time, He will be the way, the truth, and the life, none coming to the Father but through Him; and throughout eternity!” – Clarke. The author of Hebrews relates, “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name.” Jesus is the ultimate leader we owe our allegiance! For the Jew, the fruit of the lips was to be transferred to the actions of the person! If one praised God with their mouths, they would honor God with their lives. It is the same idea Paul conveyed when he wrote, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship.” (Romans 12:1 NIV) This is also why when Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment in the Law was, He replied, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matthew 22:37-39 NIV) We “continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise” when we do “not forget to do good” and when we “share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” Micah told us, “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8 NIV) The Ultimate Leader we follow is Jesus Christ!

  EXAMPLE: David McCasland writes, “While visiting the campus of Purdue University on a frigid winter day, I came upon two young men chipping away thick ice on the sidewalk next to a fraternity house. Thinking they must be underclassmen who had been assigned the tough job by older fraternity brothers, I said, ‘They didn’t tell you about this when you joined, did they?’ One looked up with a smile and said, ‘Well, we’re both upperclassmen. I’m the fraternity vice-president and my friend here is the president.’ I thanked them for their hard work and went on my way having been reminded that serving others is the mark of a true leader. When two of Jesus’ disciples asked Him for positions of honor in His coming kingdom, the Lord gathered His twelve closest followers and told them, ‘Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all’ (Mark 10:43-44 NIV). If there was any doubt about what Jesus meant, He reminded them that He had not come to be served but to serve others and to give His life to ransom them from the power of sin (v.45). The mark of true, godly leadership is not power and privilege, but humble service.” The Ultimate Leader we follow is Jesus Christ!

We are to remember the example of godly leadership! We are to follow godly leaders outside of what the world teaches! The Ultimate Leader we follow is Jesus Christ!
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Pastor Lee Hemen has been the outspoken pastor of the same church for 27 years in Vancouver, WA. He writes regularly on spirituality and conservative causes and maintains several web blogs. This article is copyrighted © 2012 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.