Saturday, October 8, 2016

Planning the Work and Working the Plan

Scriptural Reading: Hebrews 3:1-6; Matthew 7:24-29
Devotional Reading: Hebrews 10:19-25

One of my best Sunday school teachers was Deacon James Penney. One of the things he always said was “God plans His work and He works His plan.” I wondered for a long time exactly what Deacon Penny was talking about. Slowly as I study I see that God has planned from eternity past to eternity future for our reconciliation back to Him after the introduction of sin by Adam into His world. After leaving the drawing board to plan His work, God puts on His contractor’s hat and picks up His engineering equipment to work His Plan of Salvation. He brings His Son Jesus into the world as the Son of a virgin to offer Salvation through His Resurrection to all who believes on His Son. Believers see Jesus as a model in order to dedicate their lives of service to the will of God. The author of Hebrews at chapter 10 verses 21and 22 explained to the new believers, “having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” (NKJV) The Jews knew of Aaron, the priest and brother of Moses, but now they had a High Priest over the entire House of God. They were invited to draw near to Jesus with true sincerity, with complete confidence, knowing they have clean consciences, and that they have been cleansed by the Holy Spirit.

We are in Unit II – “The Sovereignty of Jesus” of the three units of the quarter. This is the second lesson of a five-lesson study. In the lesson today we shall focus on Jesus as carrying out the divine intentions of God.

The writer of Hebrews at ch 3 verses 1-3 discusses the level or degree of faithfulness of both Christ and Moses. Moses was one of Israel’s greatest national heroes. Therefore the strategy was to demonstrate Christ’s infinite superiority in faithfulness. Said verses read, “Therefore, Holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus, who was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was faithful in all His house. For this One has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as He who built the house has more honor than the house.” (NKJV) All the people of God are brethren and all true believers are holy. The first verse is addressed to the holy brethren as partakers of the heavenly calling. Old Testament Saints were given the material blessings in the land of promise. New Testament Saints were given spiritual blessings of grace through Jesus Christ. They were brought out of darkness and placed into the marvelous light. That calling of Christ which brings down heaven into the souls of men, raises them up to a heavenly conversation, and prepares them to live forever with the Almighty God in heaven as their inheritance. The brethren were not to consider the faithfulness of their national hero, Moses. They were to look to Jesus Christ who was Superior in that He was worthy of two titles. He was an Apostle, meaning one who is sent, and principal messenger representing God to the Jews. He was the great revealer of the faith. He was also a High Priest where He represented the Jews to God. Not only was He the Chief Officer in the Old Testament, He was the Chief Officer in the New Testament and Head of the Church. Just as Moses was faithful to His appointment under the Old Testament, Christ was faithful to His appointment under the New Testament. However there is superior honor and glory to be given to Christ over Moses. While Moses is a servant in the household of God, children of Israel, and served faithfully, he did not ultimately build the house and will never inherit it. Jesus is our Saviour and Healer who told Nicodemus that “No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” (John 3:13-17 NKJV) Christ gave His life and built the household of God as part of God’s blueprint in the plan.

Jesus also has a greater ministry than Moses because He is God. In verses 4-6 we see, “For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God. And Moses indeed was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which would be spoken afterward, but Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end.” (NKJV) Every house must have a builder. God built all things and Jesus was active in the Creation. (John 1:3; Col 1:16, and Heb 1:2, 10) Not only is Jesus Christ God, but He is the Son of God Almighty. Christ was the Master of the House as well as the Maker. Moses was only a faithful servant in the house. He pointed men forward to the coming Messiah because he had a relationship with God to be able to speak to Him clearly (Num 12:7, 8). On the road to Emmaus, Jesus began at Moses and all the prophets in His discourse to the disciples and “expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” (Luke 24:27 NKJV) And Christ was faithful over God’s house as a Son, not as a servant. In this case Sonship means equality with God. God’s house is His own house. We are of His house as we are temples of the Holy Spirit. We must not waver and lose confidence in Christ. But we must maintain our faith and steadfast hope that we shall be victorious in the Salvation given to us freely. It is His promise and not to be taken lightly unto the end.

Our lesson today now changes from the book of Hebrews to the book of Matthew. However, God’s Plan of Salvation is the same. What are we doing to work our Plan? Jesus is teaching the “Sermon On the Mount” to a great multitude on a high mountain when He presents the parable of the wise and foolish builders in Matthew 7:24-29.

This parable is the conclusion of the long and excellent “Sermon On the Mount” which starts at Matthew 5:1. The parable is designed to show the absolute necessity for obedience to His commands. In verses 21-23 He speaks to those persons who believe they are going to heaven, but He will advise them otherwise due to their sins. He told them, “…I never knew you; depart from me…” (Matthew 23b NKJV) It is necessary to our happiness to do the will of Christ which is indeed the will of the Father. And when we are working our Plan, are we wise or foolish? The Apostle Matthew penned Jesus at ch 7:24-25 stating, “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.” (NKJV) Each of us who is a wise builder has a rock. He is our foundation. The song says “He’s my Rock! My Shield!” Matthew records Jesus asking His disciples who men reported Him to be. Some believed Him to be John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, or one of the Baptist. But when Jesus pushed them further Peter answered,”You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Blessed are you…for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:16b-18 NKJV) As long as we build our lives according to the Word of God, we shall be within the will of Christ and the Father. Not only have we heard the Word but we have acted on the Word.

What about those who hear the Word of God and do not act on the Word? Jesus states at Matthew 7:24-25 “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.” (NKJV) There are those who profess that they have a hope to go to heaven and have heard the Word, but they despise the Rock. They do not have an intimate relationship with the Rock. They may even call themselves Christians, attend Church, pray to God, and do nobody any harm. However, if they refuse to repent of their wicked ways and believe their ways are not seen by the Rock, they are foolish because their house is not built on the sure foundation. The Rock is the Chief Cornerstone (Isa 28:16) of Whom they do not believe. Their house shall surely fall as it is built on the sand and will not withstand the storms because the Chief Cornerstone is not in the house. Everything besides Christ is sand.

Jesus later told a parable of a sower. When He explained its meaning to His disciples it could well fit into the same categories as the wise and foolish planners. (See Matthew 13:18-23)

Jesus’ teaching the “Sermon On the Mount” was awe-inspiring. Remember it was an excellent Sermon and probably more was stated than was recorded. The Apostle Matthew concludes by explaining the effect of His teaching at Matthew 7:28-29, “And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.” (NKJV) Jesus did not teach as the scribes. The people recognized the difference in His teaching and theirs. Jesus taught like a Judge where they taught from memorization of the Mosaic Law. Jesus’ teaching was a revolutionary doctrine full of grace and mercy. He did not teach from tradition nor did He teach as if He had gone to school. He taught with authority because He was God and He wanted them to obey His commandments. Jesus taught them how to live in God’s Plan toward Salvation.

Written by Deborah C. Davis

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