Hebrews 1:1-4 forms a single, complex sentence, built around the main clause, “but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son” (1:2a). Hebrews wastes no time stating the subject of its message. Without any greetings or preliminary remarks, the superior greatness of Jesus Christ is immediately expressed. This opening sentence has two sub points. First, Jesus Christ is the apex of God’s revelatory work (1:1-2a). All of God’s previous revelation to humanity was preparation for what was to be culminated in Christ. Second, Jesus Christ is superior to anything else in every way imaginable (1:2b-4). The nature, work, and status of Jesus are summarized. The themes, which are introduced in this opening sentence, will be revisited and expanded throughout Hebrews.
But the matters date, destination, and human authorship are not central to the book’s importance to Christianity. In spite of what is unknown, Hebrews, like no other book of Scripture, is one of the richest portrayals of the salvation that the Lord Jesus Christ provides. The warnings to not “neglect such a great salvation” (2:3) are linked throughout the book’s continual exposition of Christ’s superiority. The carefully constructed interchange between exposition and exhortation serves to be a crucial manual on persevering in the Christian faith. The absolute supremacy of Christ must be understood and enjoyed, for such truths are crucial means and motivations to press on.
A positive example of spiritual maturity is love. Allowing one’s self to be pushed and pulled by false teaching indicates present immaturity and leaves little prospects for anything other than continued immaturity. However, faithfully representing the truth of the Gospel reveals a present level of maturity and is the avenue for further maturity: “Rather, speaking the truth in love we are to grow up…” (15a). Speaking is a partial, but incomplete description. Literally, the passage says, “truthing in love.” Truthing certainly involves speaking, but it involves much more than mere words. Truthing includes living a way of life that reflects the truth. Disciples are to represent the truth in words and actions: “Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching” (1 Timothy 4:16). While the Scripture elsewhere stresses the need for honesty in communication (Exodus 20:16, Ephesians 4:25), the task of “speaking the truth” in this context is not mere honestly, but more along the lines of speaking and living out the truth about who Christ is, what He has done and the life implications that flow from Him.
The immediate purpose for assigning people Word-centered tasks, is that they be deployed to prepare the rest of the body with what they need from the Word. The idea behind equipping is one of both mending what may need repair but also that of outfitting someone with what they need for their task. As disciples undergo the preparation process, the intermediate purpose is for each saint (just another way of saying all disciples) to personally engage in ministry. So that all disciples are properly readied as they serve others, equipping from the Word must occur. While each disciple may have a differing assignment of service, every disciple has an assignment to serve. So, each and every disciple is to be adequately equipped so that they can fruitfully serve others.
Ephesians 4:7-16, which begins with “But grace was given to each one of us” (v. 7) and ends with “when each part is working properly” (v. 16), is subdivided into two units. Verses 4:7-10 states that a diverse range of ministry functions is graciously given to the members of the body. Each member receives a gift, but each member’s gift differs from that which is given to other members. Verses 4:11-16 explains how the operation of the diverse range of ministry functions, is to operate for the promotion of unity and maturity.
Verses 1-3 state not only the command: “maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace,” but also the manner in which it is carried out: “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love.” Verses 4-6 establish the basis that is in place regarding the command for maintaining unity that the Spirit has created in Christ.
The basis for maintaining unity is explained by a series of seven affirmations. These seven affirmations—labeled with the term “one” to link them to the idea of unity—are stated to sustain disciples in their role in the work of unity. The affirmations are arranged around the Persons of the Godhead: “one Spirit,” “one Lord,” and “one God and Father of all.” All disciples share the same Father, the same Lord, and the same Spirit.
Taking a closer look at verses 1-3, disciples are called to live in a way that reflects their new privileged calling by being, “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” While disciples have received their calling by grace and not human merit, the command is to live in a way that corresponds with their calling. God has prepared His children for good works, “that we should walk in them” (2:10). Disciples have been given new life and placed in a new family. So, disciples are to evidence their new life by living in unity within their new family. Disciples do not make themselves worthy of redemption; however, they are called to live in a way that shows a fitness in how they live out their redemption. While disciples do not earn their redemption, they are to give evidence of it.
Jesus prayed in John 17:17, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” The Word of God is vital to our sanctification or growth in Godliness. Therefore, we are considering ways to practice the Spiritual Discipline of Bible intake. Having given in our last post some of the advantages of memorizing Scripture, I now wish to turn to the practical consideration of how we can more effectively memorize Scripture. Remember, Scripture memory, for most of us, is not first and foremost about the sharpness of our memory-that is, our ability. It is about motivation-that is, how badly we want to memorize Scripture.
So, with the context for the second half of the book in mind, Ephesians 4:1-16 is a call to walk in unity. God’s will is for His followers to be: “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Being eager means making it a top priority, sparing no effort. But the appeal in 4:1-16 is not just to pursue unity, but also maturity. While the initial call is for unity, there is a direct linkage between unity and maturity: “until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (v. 13). Christian maturity and unity are inseparable: maturity is tied to unity while unity is tethered to maturity. True maturity occurs as believers strive together toward unity.
We are considering ways to practice the Spiritual Discipline of Bible intake. Having looked at the practices of hearing the Word as well as reading the Word, we will now consider the practice of memorizing the Word. Bible memorization is a wonderful tool, not only in our own hands for our own use, but even more importantly, in the hands of the Holy Spirit for His use in our lives. However, even though we might remember that the Spirit of God takes the Word of God and changes us in a likeness to the Son of God, many of us still flinch at the practice of Scripture memory.
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