SERMON PLAN WORKSHEET
Date: October 5th, 1997 Word Count: 1993
Sermon Title: Speaking to us by His Son
Text: Hebrews 1:1-4, 2:5-12,
In God's Cosmic Drama,/ The Universe is the stage,/ Renewal and Reconciliation is the central theme,/ The prophets are his special messengers,/ Christ plays the lead role,/ The Cross is the decisive scene/ You and I are the recipients of His grace.
Name my feelings and congregation's feelings about our past actions.
Do you ask yourself sometimes how we hear God speaking to us today. How do we perceive the voice of God? And with so many voices around us, how do we know that it is God’s voice that we hear?
Tell a personal story and shift the focus back to the congregation.
Sometimes we perceive a very strong message about a certain action that we should take, and there is absolutely no question in our minds that it is God’s Spirit speaking to us. Other times the message comes in the still small voice of our conscience, nudging us to a deeper trust in God’s providence and guidance. And frequently, we perceive God’s invitation to examine our lives in the light of the cross and in the light of Christ’s command to follow Him in life. Indeed, we do perceive the voice of God in nature. We perceive it in community with our brothers and sisters. We perceive God’s message to us in the study of scripture and in prayer.
Introduce major concern of text or major concern of sermon.
However it is that we hear the voice of God, we must be careful that we pay adequate attention to God’s central method of communication, and that we fully understand the meaning of His message through His Son Jesus Christ.
Issue for today.
This is an important realization, when we observe what different faith traditions, and even different individuals within the same faith tradition, emphasize as “the most important thing about the Christian faith.”
Entry of the biblical text.
Let us turn our text, which was read earlier, to see what the Bible tells us about God’s agenda when He reveals Himself to us.
The Letter to the Hebrews rises unchallenged as the best New Testament commentary on the Old Testament, and the relationship of the Old Testament to Jesus Christ. This Letter makes clear that the sacrifices and other priestly activities were pointing forward to Christ, the once-for-all sacrifice for sin, the true Priest, the one mediator between God and mankind. Indeed, Hebrews may be considered a grand portrait of Christ with the Old Testament as its background.
The basic idea of this letter is that Jesus Christ alone brings us the full revelation of God, and that Christ alone enables us to enter into the very presence of God. So the writer begins by contrasting Jesus with the prophets who had gone before.
Heb.1:1 says, In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways. The Prophets were believed to have had access to the secret counsels of God. Amos 3:7 states that, Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets. The Prophets were the interpreters of God’s will and voice to the people. They presented the timeless Truth of God’s Judgment and Grace. And they did so many times and in various ways. The revelation of the prophets was never out of date and irrelevant and incomprehensible. They spoke in a language that was understood by their contemporaries.
And yet, their message was adapted to the need of every age - the need for repentance and reconciliation with God.
But at the same time, God’s revelations through the prophets were fragmentary, and to some extent specific to the individual prophets and their social context. For example, the message of Amos was a cry for social justice. Isaiah had grasped the holiness of God. Hosea, because of the bitter home experience, had realized the miracle of the forgiving love of God to unfaithful Israel.
Out of their own life experiences each prophet had discovered a fraction of God’s revelation for mankind - a piece of the Truth of God’s intervention in human lives. No individual prophet had a revelation of the whole Truth. But with Jesus Christ that was different. He incarnated the whole revelation of God.
The prophets had used their power of persuasion through speech and sometimes drastic actions. The prophets had had to use all their creativity to speak the Word of God to the people. Again and again they use profound images of the presence and salvation of God. Isaiah talks about the Sign of Immanuel (God with us). To us a child a is born. He follows the tradition of the everlasting Davidic Covenant when he speaks of the Root of Jesse. And he speaks of the suffering servant, who carried the sins of the world, and many more images that grip us at the core of our faith.
The revelation of the prophets was great in many ways, but it nevertheless remained fragmentary and only a partial revelation. But the revelation of God in Jesus was complete.
In pointing out this contrast between the work of the prophets and the work of Christ the writer of Hebrews seeks to highlight the supremacy of Christ. The prophets were friends of God - Jesus, the Son of God. He points out that there is a continuity of thought and revelation in the Old Testament that comes to completion in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Christ event is what all of Scripture points to. He is the ultimate and fullest revelation of who God is.
The writer to the Hebrews is so impressed with this thought that he lists a whole lot of significant characteristics of the exalted Christ to reinforce his message. 2 in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. 3 The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. 4 So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.
Let’s take that in slow motion:
· As the victor over death and sin Jesus is appointed heir of all things. The day is coming when every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord of the Universe. By His work of salvation, the final triumph between the forces of good and evil belongs to the Son of God. The New Testament writers never doubted this truth. Let’s think about that. They were thinking of a Galilaean carpenter who was crucified as a criminal on a cross. They faced persecution and even death for their convictions. And yet, they never doubted Christ’s ultimate triumph.
· Next: The Universe was created in Him and through Him. The early Church held that Christ was God’s agent and instrument in creation. They were filled with the thought that the one who had created the world would also be the One who would re-create it - make it new and whole again. The One who created the world is also the One who offers redemption to the world.
· Further, Jesus is the radiance of God’s glory. Jesus is the exact image and perfect expression of God. By keeping our eyes on Jesus we see exactly what God is like. In his life and ministry Jesus presented us with the image of a God who is infinitely interested and involved in our human existence. The glory of God is not revealed through crushing power that oppresses and hurts, but rather through walking the humble path of suffering servanthood and love. The glory of God is reflected in what He is willing to give for our salvation - His own life.
· The Key point that that sets Christ apart from the prophets is that the work of redemption and forgiveness from sin belongs to Jesus Christ. He made purification for the sins of mankind when He was led as a lamb to the slaughter to shed His blood for us. He paid the price for our transgressions once and for all. And He also continues to liberate us from the grasp of sin and temptation.
· Christ is the rightful Mediator who carries us in prayer to the throne of God. He has taken His place on the right hand of God’s glory. The overwhelming insight for the writer to the Hebrews is that Jesus is there, not as our judge to punish our shortcomings, but as the one who makes intercession for us. That is how on the day of Judgment, having placed our faith in the saving grace of Christ, we will be welcomed with open arms by our loving God. (But let us make no mistake about: this truth and assurance of salvation can be owned only by the person who has heard Christ’s invitation to faithful discipleship and who has accepted the central message of salvation through Christ - which results in a transformed life).
These expressions of Christ’s work for us entitles Him to a place that is far superior to that of any other being - including the angels. The willingness of the Son of God to submit Himself to the lowest level of disgrace - to humble Himself and to load the sins of the world on His shoulders, to suffer and die on a cross like a criminal, although He was without sin - entitles Him to a place of Glory and Honor far above that of the heavenly hosts.
God has spoken to us through His Son, as He also spoke to our forefathers through the prophets. And He continues to speak to us today. The message was and is and forever will be the same, namely that God is with us, and that God desires a full and everlasting covenant of love and obedience with us.
Invite and encourage the congregation to further action.
God has spoken us in many ways to invite us into fellowship with Him. As a congregation we have heard His voice and responded to it in various ways. Sometimes in true humility, gratitude and obedience. Sometimes reluctantly like a stubborn child. And sometimes we have literally shut out the voice of God from our lives.
But, His offer for reconciliation and new life through His Son still stands today. If you have not yet accepted His invitation, listen to God’s gentle voice inviting you to respond to His gift of grace and forgiveness. If you have responded to His voice before, but your covenant with God has grown dull over time, God’s Spirit is calling you back to consider your first love and remember from where you have fallen, and to repent and come back into fellowship with Christ your Savior.
Return to the opening remarks.
The Cross of Christ is the decisive event in History. It is the moment of Truth that brings us face to face with our Creator. And it is the one thing that we cannot afford to be indifferent about.
Focus on their lives.
Each one of us has to make a choice whether we want to hear God’s voice “spoken to us by His Son” or not. This is the deciding factor. And our decision has implications for eternity. May we be encouraged to listen intently as God continues to speak to us by His Son. And may we be challenged to respond in faith and become instruments that God can use to make His voice heard in unreceptive or unreached places.
Let us give Glory to the Son of God!