"Let brotherly love continue. Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body. Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge. Let your conversation [conduct, lifestyle] be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me. Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation [lifestyle]. Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein. We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle. For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp. Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come. By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you. Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly. But I beseech you the rather do this, that I may be restored to you the sooner. Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. And I beseech you, brethren, suffer the word of exhortation: for I have written a letter unto you in few words. Know ye that our brother Timothy is set at liberty; with whom, if he come shortly, I will see you. Salute all them that have the rule over you, and all the saints. They of Italy salute you. Grace be with you all. Amen."
"Chapter 12 ended "Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: for our God is a consuming fire." (verses 28-29)
'Let Brotherly Love Continue'
The Kingdome is coming, extended to us through grace, let's make the purpose of our lives to serve God in an acceptable way. People serve all kinds of things. Knowing that there's a Kingdom coming let's serve God with a right attitude, acceptably, he says "for our God is a consuming fire." (verse 29) So certainly, we desire to see him, when we see him face to face as Saviour and not as Judge. Ah, there will be those who refused, who wanted nothing to do with Christ, who heard the Good News and rejected, who turned away, 'I'll give him a piece of my mind when I see him,' and all that kind of stuff. Ah, what a wonderful thing to see him and hear him say 'Well done, thou good and faithful servant, son, daughter.' Vastly different than encountering him one day as Judge. And then there's that warning here. He talks now about love, what we should allow, what should be happening. He's giving remember, an exhortation, certainly to every age, but to these Jewish believers that had particular struggles in these days. "Let brotherly love continue." (verse 1) in fact the word there [for "brotherly love"] is Philadelphia, probably if you look in the Greek it just says philadelphia, 'Let philadelphia continue, let philadelphia continue, brotherly love, fondness.' Agape', certainly, something that's supposed to be an expression of our lives, God's divine love [and agape's a sacrificial love]. But certainly if divine love is there, fondness should be there, brotherly love. You're sitting next to brothers and sisters, this is the Body of Christ, it's the family of God, and you're going to spend eternity with everybody around you, so, let fondness, brotherly love continue. Great exhortation, look, and remember too, Jesus said 'In the last days,' in Matthew chapter 24, 'that because inquity would abound, the love of many would grow cold,' and it's the only time agape is used in the noun form in the whole Gospel of Matthew. 'Because iniquity shall abound in the last days, the agape' of many would grow cold.' And it's a warning, he's not talking about unbelievers, he has to be talking about believers. You know John says that there will be those who will be lost because they love darkness more than light, talking about unbelievers, and that word is also agape, they're devoted to darkness more than they are to light. But when it comes in the form of a warning, 'that because inquity shall abound the love of many shall grow cold,' it's directed to believers. It's not warning unbelievers, it's warning us about the love that we're to have that's proper, that's provided by God's Holy Spirit and God's grace, and it's saying that because the last days will become so iniquitous, so twisted, that we can easily get that attitude. You know, Lot's righteous soul was vexed when he looked at what was happening in Sodom and Gomorrah. And there's good reason for us to look around in our culture and our world and just to be vexed, you almost get an attitude 'Lord, just let the whole world go to hell, blow the Trumpet and get us out of here! We're tired of it, we! and I understand some of that. And we want to be filled with anticipation because he's coming for us. But there's supposed to be something else cooking too, and part of that is divine love. This world with all of its problems, it says "God so loved this world that he gave his only begotten Son," we also are to have a divine burden for our friends and our culture and for the people that are lost. God loves the prostitute on the street, he loves the gang-banger, he loves the hoodlum, he loves the people at the rave concerts and the rage concerts, and all of the different kind of concerts, all the different tribes that are out there. You know, he has a broken heart for all of those people. And if we are characterized by his divine love for this lost world, one part of that is certainly in regards to one another, 'let philadelphia, let brotherly love continue, let it be something that continues on.'
We're To Show Christian Hospitality
"Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares." (verse 2) What's it's talking about, 'Do I know you? No,' dat, dat, dat, daaa.' It's not what it's talking about. "Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares." Unaware, ah, look strangers are a little more strange these days than they were in those days. OK? Entertain means "to show hospitality to, to extend yourself to." And it doesn't mean you see a guy out there with pistola's and knives, just entertain him. In the day when this epistle was written there were no Motel-6's or Holiday Inns, and those who traveled that were believers would often have a letter of recommendation from the Ephesian church or the Colossian church, and they would have to come to the home of another believer. They would have to come and profess their faith and ask for hospitality. Even in that part of the world today hospitality is still a major cultural mandate. 'Don't, it's stop being forgetful about being hospitable to other believers, even those you don't know.' [see http://www.unityinchrist.com/wwcofg/The%20Sabbath%20and%20Hospitality.htm for how this can be applied (written obviously for Sabbath-keepers, but the principles hold true for all believers).] You know that, you've run across somebody, you get a strange feeling about them, you notice they're not using any bad language, and you find out they're in trouble, you start talking to them, their car's broken down, and you find out they're born-again, 'OK Lord, this is a set-up,' and then you want to be hospitable, you give them a ride where they need to go, you help them with this or that. Just don't let that stop either. Because it says 'because some have actually entertained angels unawares.' Look at Abraham when the angels came and sat with him in the Plains of Memre, and talked to him about Sodom and Gomorrah, and Lot then had angels come to his home. Those are safe strangers, by the way, to have over. Ah, angels, I wonder if we're going to get to heaven and say 'Wait a minute, I recognize you,' 'Yup, that was me, I was there.' Ah, hospitality, brotherly love.
Remember Those That Are In Bonds, Incarcerated, Those That Are Suffering
Look, "Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being ourselves also in the body." (verse 3) In the author's day there were believers that were in prison for their faith, so certainly we're not to forget them. There are those in other countries that are in prison because of their faith, we've prayed for some of them. We're not to forget them. And also there are believers in prison, we have, Frank has a tremendous ministry, and Obadiah and some of the guys here to the prisons, and have not forgotten those who are saved and unsaved that are incarcerated, that we have opportunity to get to and share the love of Christ. And again, "Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being ourselves also in the body." i.e. remember that you're in the same space-suit they're in, you're in the same condition they are, in this physical frame. Remember people that are in adversity and suffering, because it comes to us all. Remember them, it's part of love, brotherly love, strangers, those in prison, those suffering. Now marriage.
Sex Is Something God Invented
Mawidge, every time I look at that today that's in my mind [chuckles]. "Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge." This word in 1st Peter 1, verse 7, verse 19, 2nd Peter chapter 1, verse 1 is translated "precious." "Marriage is precious in all," Now it was a strange culture [back when this was written], it was a culture where on one side of marriage you had those that were monastic, esthetic in their lifestyle, who said 'marriage is carnal, and you need to be set aside and live in a monastery or somewhere to properly serve God.' And then there were those who had no regard for it at all, much like the media and the culture that we live in. Rome said a free Roman man should have a wife to bear his legitimate children, a concubine for pleasure, and a mistress for adventure, every free Roman man. When Jesus talked to the Pharisees about divorce and about adultery, he said, 'except for the cause of fornication,' sex outside of marriage, which takes in all forms of sexual activity, he didn't just say adultery, he said all forms of fornication. Some say 'awh, that means you can only be divorced while you're engaged.' No the problem was a Jewish man in Jesus' day did not consider it adultery to sleep with a harlot, he didn't consider it adultery to sleep with a Gentile. It was only adultery for some of them to sleep with another free Jewish married woman. That would have been considered adultery. Jesus says, 'No, any sexual activity outside of marriage,' and particularly in the Roman culture and so forth. So you had the abuses on both sides. You had those who were saying that it's carnal, don't have anything to do with it. You had those who said it's carnal, so you can indulge in it as much as you want, and still be spiritual. You had those who knew it was sin [sex outside of marriage], and were involved in it. This is what the Scripture says, and it's important for us to take note, because verse 8 says, 'Jesus Christ is the same today and forever.' He says 'Marriage is precious, it's honourable in all, in everything,' "and the bed undefiled:" 'free from contamination' he uses the word, it means "sexual intimacy in marriage is free from contamination, that there's nothing defiling about it," that it's something that honors the Lord. "but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge." King James says that's pornos, where we get the word pornography, it should be translated "fornicators and adulterers God will judge." Marriage is honourable in all, God made Adam, put him in the Garden, said 'it's not good for a man to be alone, I will make a helper that is suitable for him,' from man's side, whatever that is, he took Eve, formed her, brought her to the man. 'For this reason shall a man leave his mother and father and cleave to his wife, they shall be one flesh,' honourable, before the fall, God's design. And in marriage that oneness becomes a reality again, the man and the woman are joined together, they're joined together physically, they're joined together spiritually, there is a completeness again. [Comment: If you examine what the apostle Paul has to say about the "spirit in man" and everything to do with marriage and even sex outside of marriage, you will discover that he shows the "spirit in man" in a man and the "spirit in man" in a woman, the human spirit in both of them, when they sleep together, the two spirits intertwine, become joined. Some actually call this the condition of "one flesh" because it is brought about through the sexual relationship of the couple. There is more to marriage and having sex with a woman than meets the eye, quite literally, since the "spirit in man," the human spirit that grants us intellect and human intelligence is invisible. God designed it this way, a special connection between a man and the special one he loves, which should be his wife (cf. 1st Corinthians 2:9-13; 6:15-19)] There is the coming back of as it were Eve in every woman to Adam, and every man to his side again. So marriage, hasn't marriage taken a beating these days? I don't know about you guys. You know, I watch TV, and I see the advertisements for some of the new shows that are coming on, about adventurous housewives or something, they're all out cheating on their husbands, and the reality show, swapping wives, you know, it's just all of this stuff. And then the bachelor thing, it's a meat-market. Every girl wants to give herself to this guy because he's a millionaire. Hey, would you give yourself to a guy for $5? 'Oh heavens no!' well you're a prostitute, what's the difference? Whether it's a million dollars or five dollars you're just a pricey prostitute. Just think of the atmosphere we create. "Marriage is honourable in all," I'm so thankful that I have that, my kids, my home, that God's been gracious to sustain us. And look, any of you who've been through a divorce, I understand the pain and the difficulty of that. But our author is saying to us "marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled,' 'coatai' where we get coatis, 'marriage is honourable in all, and the coatis is undefiled' literally. There's nothing unclean about it in the sight of God, it's to be enjoyed by a husband and a wife. It's wrong for a wife to hold it [sex] over a husband's head or use it for manipulation or vice versa. [The balance is to never withhold sex one from the other, or force it one on the other when the other is not in the mood, there is to be a gentle balance here, as brought out by the apostle Paul in his other epistles.] It's to be entered into, 'to avoid sexual sin, let every man have his own wife and every woman have her own husband.' Paul would say in 1st Corinthians 7. So, marriage, the bed, nothing unclean about it, nothing to be ashamed about. Some of us bring strange ideas into marriage, and it takes awhile for us to know what the Scripture says. [See http://www.unityinchrist.com/corinthians/cor7.htm and http://www.unityinchrist.com/1stPeter/1stPeter3-1-6.htm and http://www.unityinchrist.com/1stPeter/1stPeter3-7.htm and last, but not least, http://www.HOWMARRIAGEWORKS.com for a Biblically balanced picture of how marriage is supposed to work. You do the things described in those articles and your marriage will glow and radiate, the way God designed it to.] But more importantly, take note of this, it says 'fornicators and whoremongers will come under the judgment of Almighty God.' Those who practice sex outside of marriage, homosexuality, bestiality, you know. Too many kids say now 'Oh, we're just having oral sex, not doing the real thing,' now what is that, that fake thing? What do you mean, you're not doing the real thing? Do it out in the open where everybody can see it, why not, if it's not the real thing. [gotta love Joe Focht] Fornication destroys marriage before it takes place, adultery destroys marriage after it takes place. How wonderful for anybody who can go into a marriage never having been sexually active, having no point of comparison, who can always look at their partner and say 'This is the best experience I've ever had!' Because that's where God says it's undefiled and it's to be enjoyed. We're in a culture that tells us something completely different. Maybe you're a new-believer, and this is new to you and you haven't heard this. Sex is something God invented. And he invented it to be inside of marriage, because inside of marriage it's good medicine, it glues a husband and a wife together. When I get two young people sitting in my office, and they're fighting with each other, and I'm thinking 'Hey, there's plenty of girls in the church, break up with her! There's plenty of guys, get rid of him!' And I listen to them, and after awhile I think, 'You know, they sound like a husband and wife,' and I say "You guys are in sexual sin, aren't you." "How do you know?" "Because you sound like you need a divorce," you are in a bondage that is a blessing in marriage, because it binds, and it's a curse outside of marriage. You've given yourself to one another to the point, where you don't know how now to go in your own directions. And it isn't to be taken lightly. Paul said this in Corinthians, 'Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the Kingdom of God, do not be deceived, neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor male prostitutes, nor homosexual offenders will inherit the Kingdom of God.' In Ephesians he said, 'For of this you can be sure, no immoral, impure or greedy person, such a man as an idolater has any inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those that are disobedient.' Again he says in Thessalonians, 'It is God's will that you should be holy, that you should avoid sexual immorality, the Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.' In Revelation John says this, or Christ says it through John, 'But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters, and all liars will take their place in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur for ever and ever, this is the second death.' The Bible is abundantly clear about sexuality. What a blessing it is, why God designed it, the how it's to be entered into, where it's considered impure. But our culture is at war with that. The decision you have to make is, where does that leave you in the process? 'Well if I don't give it to him he's going to find somebody else.' Let me tell you something, if you give it to him he's going to find somebody else. If that's what it takes to keep him, he's going to find somebody else. 'Well it's just a piece of paper,' well if it's just a piece of paper before you get married, it's just a piece of paper after you get married. And we're seeing a whole culture get drug into it. 'You like this guy?' [he pants like an excited dog] 'oh yea,' [pants like an excited dog], 'sex' you know, 'this is the purpose of man, this is man and woman realizing their full potential.' What a shame. Jesus is coming. Now look, here's the good news, if you've been immoral, you go to Christ and he forgives. Paul wants to present the Corinthian church as a chaste virgin to Christ on that day. You could have been a prostitute, you could have been in pornography, you come to Jesus and ask forgiveness, as far as he's concerned, all things are passed away, and all things become new, and you're a new creation in Christ. If you've fallen as a Christian, you can go to him and ask forgiveness and if it's genuine, he will cleanse you and put you back up on your feet and let you start fresh, new, if you're genuine. The thing is, don't play games, don't think 'this is fine, I can live however I want and go to church,' hey, you're not fooling anybody. 'Oh, you know what, I'm just going to sow my wild oats, and I'm going to repent before the Lord comes.' How are you going to time that!? I was just with a good friend on the West Coast last week, has been with the Red Cross for fifteen years, and he just got back from training in Kansas for several weeks with all different chemical and biological outfits, he said, because they're expecting a major biological attack sometime between now and the inauguration of the next President in January, in a major city. 'Oh yea, my girlfriend and I are sleeping together,' you may die in bed with your girlfriend. That's the world we live in. Another friend telling me there were three attempts on Los Angelos in the last year since last September, he said all three were intercepted [backtracking, this sermon was given somewhere around 2002]. Any one of them would have brought Los Angelos to its knees. That's the world that we live in. Hey, love one another, brotherly love, that's great, let's do that. Don't forget to entertain, you know, other believers, be hospitable, to open your home. Remember those that are in prison, remember those that are suffering. Marriage, let it be something that you honour, let it be honourable in the church. It may not be honourable in the world, but let's have it be something that's honoured here. What a wonderful thing, I love to see a couple come up and say 'We're celebrating our 60th Anniversary.' They should get a salute from everybody. In fact, everybody whose been married here for over 50 years would you stand up please. [very loud applause, from the sound of it, this place is packed with thousands of people.] 50 years, you know I heard Wilt Chamberlain say before he died, not right before he died, but I heard him say that he realized that he would rather have sex with the same woman a thousand times, than sex with a thousand women one time, how that whole world had burned him out and destroyed him. And I hope he believed before he went. You know, I love Magic Johnson, and I make a big deal about him being HIV positive, I hope the other side, you know, he's been healthy and that's a blessing, and I hope he knows the Lord, I don't know. I hope those movie stars and sports figures that are infected with those, with HIV, I hope they show them falling apart too, instead of just being a super-star and everything's ok. I hope we see the suffering end of it that comes as a warning to other people. We have people at church, had sex one time, ended up HIV positive, two of them that I can think of. 6,000 teenagers a day in America infected with sexually transmitted diseases, 6,000 a day. And some estimates are way higher than that. The Scripture says 'Marriage is precious, it's honourable,' to have one person you can hang onto, trust in, be vulnerable to, be intimate with, a great thing, nothing unclean about that, God says. 'But fornicators, adulterers, God will judge.'
'Let Your Lifestyle Be Without Covetousness, Be Content With What You Have'
"Let your conversation [lifestyle, conduct] be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." (verse 5) "Covetousness" it's a particular word that means "money-love", in fact it means "love of silver." But it's the word, then, that was associated with "love of money." 'Let your manner of living, conversation, your lifestyle be without covetousness, being driven by money all the time,' "and be content with such things as ye have", now that's not always easy, is it? "Be content with such things as you have." I'll tell you, it's real easy when you're real sick, isn't it? I don't know about you, I've been somewhere, you know, at different times, so sick that I thought 'If I had a million bucks right now, I would give it just to be home in my bed, not even to be better, just to be home in my own bed, if I could just be this miserable at home.' Don't let the love of money, again, money is a great servant but it is an atrocious master. It's a great servant, cruel master. Let your manner of living be without money-love. The love of money is the root of all evil, not the money itself. Money's a great tool. But the love of it, what drives you? 'Let your lifestyle be without covetousness, be content with such things as you have,' "for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." Now here is the point that he's trying to make, 'Man, I'm miserable, if I could have one of these I'd be happy, if I could have one of those, I don't want a lot, but if I could just have one of those,' wait a minute, don't you have a Saviour? 'Yea,' 'You have Jesus?' "Yea,' 'You have the Creator and Lord of the universe?' 'Yea,' 'But you're not happy because you don't have a skate-board?' 'No,' He's saying, 'Where's our testimony? Be content with such things as you have, don't let the love of money drive you, don't let covetousness drive you, because he said to us,' "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee" we have everything if we have him. David said, "The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want," 'I shall lack no good thing.' It's much better to have the Lord as your shepherd than to have 20 billion dollars in the bank, because that can burn and disappear, and he's not ever going anywhere. His economic system is way better. "for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me." (verses 5b-6) Now again, a quote from Psalm 118, but these Hebrew Christians, because they accepted Christ, many were driven from their homes, driven from their business, under persecution, and he's saying 'Don't let that destroy your relationship with the Lord, because he promised he would never leave you nor forsake you, and you don't have to fear what man will do unto you.' It had a particular application [back then]. It doesn't say there's anything wrong with having a home, having an automobile, working hard. Paul tells the Thessalonians that if they didn't work, they shouldn't eat. They were expecting Christ to come, they were standing around looking up at the sky, quit their jobs. Paul said, 'No, that's ungodly too, anybody who doesn't provide for their own household is worse than an infidel,' we're supposed to eek a living out of this world, we're supposed to work, and as far as I'm concerned, whatever we do, we want to be the best at it, for the sake of Christ, and flourish. But don't let it be the thing that drives you, he says. 'Because we have the Lord, we can boldly say 'the Lord is my helper. I'm not going to fear what man does to me.'
'Remember The Leaders That Have Gone Before Us, The Apostles
"Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation [lifestyle, conduct]." (verse 7) 'Which are your guides' is the idea here. 'considering the end of the manner of their life.' So, maybe here looking at those who had passed on in the Church, you know, all of the apostles except John would ultimately succumb to martyrdom. Ah, Peter living down in the Mamertine dungeon for nine months, leading 41 guards to the Lord, taken out and crucified upside down. Paul the apostle, beheaded, you go through the list of them. If you want to read through some of that, Dr. McBirnie has a paperback called "In Search of the Twelve Apostles", and it will take you through Church tradition, Biblical history that we have, other traditions, and it traces all of their lives to their martyrdoms. It's a very interesting work, he's a Ph.D., it's called "In Search of the Twelve Apostles." So, 'Remember those who have been your guides, have the rule over you' literally, 'as they've been a guide to you, they've spoke to you the Word of God, whose faith imitate, considering the issue of their manner of life,' possibly talking about those who've passed on.
'Jesus Christ, The Same Yesterday, Today, And Forever'
"Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever." (verse 8) The servant may pass on, but Jesus Christ never does, he's the same yesterday, today, and forever. Now I appreciate that, because we sure want to complicate Jesus Christ these days. He's the same yesterday, today, and forever. If he could turn the world upside down with a bunch of fishermen 2,000 years ago, he can do it today, too. 'I try to tell my wife that's why I love fishing all day on the weekend, just want to be ready, anytime,' You know, I'm just talking about common everyday folk, he's not looking for people that are qualified, he's looking for people that are available, and God is the same. I'm glad he never changes, because he said that he's coming, and he himself is going to descend with a shout, the voice of the archangel, trumpet of God, that never changes. That's still in place. I'm glad that he says my sins, my iniquities he'll remember no more, and that he doesn't change. Because I remember them, sometimes, for both of us. But he never changes, very important. When there's a storm in our life, he can rebuke the wind and the sea. The most immoral of people, we talked about that, the woman taken in adultery, 'Lord,' she said to him, he said, 'Go and sin no more,' he can still forgive, he can still heal. And most of all he still saves, set's people free and gives them new life, a future and a hope. "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever."
'Don't Be Carried About With Divers And Strange Doctrines'
"Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein." (verse 9) "With divers and strange doctrines" we have some of those around today, don't we. It's a strange verse. OK? Ah, 'Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever, that never changes. Remember those that have been a guide to you spiritually, that have spoken to you the Word of God, remember that Jesus Christ never changes,' 'And don't be carried about with divers and strange doctrines.' All kinds of stuff blows through the Church, you know this whole holy laughter thing that came in. I knew some years ago, some of the guys that broke off from Calvary that ended up in, you know, with the Kansas City Prophecy, and ended up in Toronto [the Toronto Blessing heresy thing that got going], and they were crazy then. And they were going from one strange thing to another then. Ah, you read the 'The Latent Power of the Soul' by Watchman Nee, written in 1925 in China, and he said "The holy laugh is spreading across China." and he said "Some of the people in the Church are saying if you don't have the holy laugh, you don't have the movement of the Spirit," he said, "I went and I observed it, and it was the flesh," he said "It was not the Holy Spirit," it isn't anything new, it's nothing new. And you know what, of course, what happens is holy laughter comes into a church, they embrace that stuff, and how long can you laugh? 'What do we do now, we've been laughing since 2001, three years?' Well then there's barking, and so you add a little spice. There was roaring, holy rolling, there was this [smiling like a Cheshire cat] they call it "joy unspeakable", no noise. And the great thing is, I started teaching, for me and many of us, started this Bible study in 1981, teaching the Bible, and I haven't done anything different since [and the Lord has drawn about 30,000 people to himself through Calvary Chapel Philly, pastured by Joe Focht and his associate pastors. They must be broken up into a bunch of satellite congregations by now, for ease of administration]. Because it's [the Word of God] always new, it's always alive, and Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever, and his Word abides forever, and heaven and earth will pass away. And to me, God's Word still talks to me, and it is still alive, and it's still new, and still fresh every week, and we don't have to be carried off into this other stuff. And there's all kinds of addendums added to Jesus, you know, 'Jesus and this, Jesus and that, Jesus and this, Jesus is one of the ascended Masters, Jesus is one of this.' No, no, no, no, there are those that God used to lay the foundation of the Church. And the Jesus Christ they preached is the Chief Cornerstone, and he's the same yesterday, today and forever. And we don't need to be trapped off into all kinds of strange stuff. Now it's even stranger today, some of the music, it's antichrist today, some of it dark, some of it's strange. In the time when I believe Paul, or whoever wrote this, there were different cults that came and mingled in the Church where you had to eat certain things, certain foods, offered to idols, to be truly spiritual. It's in our context of Hebrews here, but it says 'those who have occupied themselves with meats and have not profited by them.' That can be used in context if guess of the Levitical dietary law. [Comment: I think Pastor Joe is way off on this one. Most modern medical research, especially of late, show those laws were health laws, pork is laced with fat. Dr. Paul Dudley White, Eisenhower's heart doctor was always quoting Leviticus and saying "don't eat the fat", his benign way of saying 'don't eat pork' because pork is laced with fat, internally, inside all the muscle fibers. Shellfish recently were found to be high in levels of a neurotoxin that is very bad for the kidneys. There's been cancer in my family twice, and the physicians gave those two members of my family a "do not eat list" which looked like it was taken right out of Leviticus 11. So you'd better revise your opinions on that one Pastor Joe. Leviticus and Numbers have scooped medical science by 4,000 years, proving the Word of God is sound, from one end to the other. Now I will say you can get all legalistic about these laws, as some Sabbath-keeping Churches of God have done in the past, been there, done that. But the fact remains, these are medical laws for one's health. See, http://www.foxnews.com/health/2014/02/07/safe-levels-neurotoxin-found-in-seafood-may-cause-kidney-damage/ . Now I don't know about you, but at 68, I don't want to encourage kidney failure, I got enough health problems at this end of life.] But they were benefited, they thought, by what they didn't eat, not by what they did eat, this seems to be more in a heretical or cultic sense [he means, not in the Levitical sense], and I think that then points to another issue. Back in chapter 5 Paul says 'by now you should be teachers, you've heard the Word of God, but you guys need to go back and have milk instead of strong meat, because you haven't embraced the basic things of Christ.' So there's another sense where meats represent, certainly there's the physical thing here, but it's where they represent, you know, 'We can go way out on a limb, and argue all kinds of theological things.' And I think you should have your own systematic theology and know why you believe what you believe. And there are different positions in the Church [doctrinally, theologically speaking, one of the biggest differences being the great divide between the Sabbath-keeping Churches of God, and the Sunday observing side of the Church, even though the Sabbath-keepers in number are far smaller as a size group.] You can be a cessationists, not believing the gifts of the Spirit are for today, I believe the gifts are for today. Does that make you a heretic? No, that's not an aberrant position, that's a well-established position in the Church, we can still evangelize this lost world together. You may believe in the five points of Calvinism, Calvin said the most a man can get right is 80 percent, so I don't know if that's tough on a five-point system, but pick four anyway, ah, that's 20 percent you can't count on. Or you may be an Armeniest, you may be into covenant theology, you may be a dispensationalist. Those are well established things, we can still work together, love one another, communicate Christ to this world together. Those are not aberrant or heretical, they're different positions. And then again, probably Augustine said it the best when he said, "On the major issues unity, on the lesser issues, diversity, in all things charity [agape']." But certainly there are those things that creep into the Church that all of us, whatever our position is, can look at, and we see that they deny the basic tenants of the faith, and we can say 'This is out to lunch, this is no good.' And some people can get so occupied with stuff. You know, the heart, it says here, needs to be established with grace. Because it says (Jeremiah 17:9) the heart is desperately wicked, we wrestle things there. I think I need every day to remember God's grace and God's love, and you know, John, 90 years old says 'If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us,' 90-year-old apostle still had that inward struggle. 'It's good for the heart to be established with grace, not with meats or those who have occupied themselves and not profited there.'
'Let Us Go Forth Therefore Unto Him Without The Camp, Bearing His Reproach'
"We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle. For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp." (verses 10-11) Now it seems to indicate this is before 70AD, because it sounds like it's still taking place. Now those bodies were not eaten, they were completely burned, the sin and burnt offering animals were completely destroyed. 'So, we have an altar, whereof they, those that are outside of Christ, have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle.' "For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp. Wherefore Jesus also," in a type of that, "that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate." (verses 11-12) Golgotha, Calgary outside the gates of Jerusalem, outside the city. And taking that, he gives this exhortation to these Hebrew Christians, "Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach." (verse 13) ah, certainly true in Judaism, it is true in formalism and religiosity today. How many of us have religious relatives, not believers, not in the light, they don't know the truth, but they're actually mad at you because you're excited about Jesus? 'You don't come anymore, what happened to 'beef and beer night'? Why don't you come to the church, you'll love it. Get drunk, beef and bear, it's wonderful, we're selling a raffle for a basket of cheer, and you come back to our church and learn to gamble and drink, it'll be great for you. You're out there carrying on, talking about Jesus, reading your Bible! Look, stepping outside the major systems may be for us bearing some reproach. [Comment: The major religious systems he's talking about had their origins with the proto-Catholic church. To see how that all began, see, http://www.unityinchrist.com/history2/earlychurch3.htm. Many daughter churches sprang off that one, and most of what the Messianic Jews call Gentile Christianity has absorbed many false doctrines from that big church system, even though they are legitimate churches filled with Holy Spirit indwelt believers.] Christ did the same thing, he stepped outside formal orthodox Judaism, died outside the gate, "Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach." (verse 13) 'Moses,' it tells us in chapter 11, 'rather than enjoying the pleasures of sin for a season, chose rather to suffer reproach with God's people, having a respect for the ultimate reward that would come in Christ,' knowing that what our spiritual life is all about is eternity. What our spiritual life is about, it's wonderful here, I enjoy it, I enjoy my family, I enjoy the people I get to serve with, and I enjoy you guys, I love coming here, but in the final analysis, what it's all about is some day we're going to stand on the other side, no tears, no sorrow, no cancer, no death, no hatred, no darkness, no deception, we're going to stand there, when this corruption puts on incorruption and this mortal puts on immortality, that's what it's all about. That's what it's all about.
'Here We Have No Continuing City, But We Seek One To Come'
"Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. For here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come." (verses 13-14) Here we're pilgrims, we're sojourners, "we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come." Here, we are not part of this system, we're pilgrims, sojourners, we're passing through, we're not settlers, we're pilgrims, passing through. And because God loves us and we're his children, he won't let us be content with the things of this world. You try to do that, you're in a frustrating business. If I only had one of these I'd be happy. Then what happens, you get one, and you're not happy. Maybe I need two of these, I need a blue one and a red one [making someone else happy makes you happy, living sacrificially for someone else, whether it be a wife, your children, people in church, being a serving light to the lost world, that is happiness]. Maybe I need one down on the shore and one up in the mountains, maybe I need three of these, maybe I need two of those. We have no continuing city here, the deepest longing of our being is for spiritual reality. He says let's go forward to Christ, he bore that reproach, Moses chose to bear that reproach instead of enjoying the pleasures of sin for a season, we need to remember that here we have no continuing city. Again, talking to these Hebrew Christians who were driven from their homes, being persecuted, these things had to be very real to them. It's an interesting thing, ah, when my dad went home to be with the Lord in July, you know I was there with him when he took his last breath. And that's a very troubling thing to watch. And many of you, and I appreciate it, gave my wife and I and our kids so many Scriptures. I knew them all, but I appreciated it. I've taught all. But they needed to be deeper. I had to rediscover them on my knees, I had to say to the Lord, 'Lord, you need to ignite these now in a way that they have never burned in my heart before.' These Hebrew Christians, because of the suffering and difficulty they were going through, these things were very real to them. Here we have no continuing city, for someone whose running around, goofing in sin, doing some of the things we're exhorted not to do, sometimes this doesn't weigh very much. That's a shame, because it's the Word of God, and the Lord is willing to make it very real to us. And how many times do we see someone have to be broken all the way down before they turn back and say 'Lord, your Word is so real to me now, it's so sweet to me now. It means more than that stuff does and the pleasure does now.' "here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come" that's coming.
'What Sacrifices Can We Offer To The Lord?
"By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name." (verse 15) Ok, we can offer some sacrifices, it's interesting here. Not animals, not to make atonement for sin, but offering of ourselves, "let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually," you know the song service, to me the song service is so important, because it prepares our hearts to hear the Word. I love to come, I love to sing, I love our worship leaders, I like it to be simple, I like it to be genuine. You know, I don't want it to be a Las Vegas show-band where everybody sits there and they don't sing because they're grooving, they're watching. I don't want it to be entertainment. We talk about that, we pray about that, we want it to be an environment where you can sing and lift your heart to the Lord, and to worship. Because it says here that's a sacrifice of praise, it's acceptable to him. 'Take my life and let it be,' do we really mean that as we sing it? If we sing to him and tell him 'Lord, I'm setting all of my heart on you, Lord, giving everything that I am to you,' and the same time you're looking around, scoping somebody out, looking for girls in the congregation. Look at Ananias and Sapphira, they dropped dead for insincerity. Somebody says, 'Why don't we see the miracles we saw in the Book of Acts, why don't we have the power that the Church had in the Book of Acts?' Only take one week for that, huh? I might stand up here and say 'I've given all of my heart to Jesus,' and go boom! [dead] And you might say, 'I'm not like him, I've given all my heart to Jesus,' and you'd go boom! right where you are. Let us offer the sacrifice of praise, I think it's so important when we gather, we lift our voices in the song service. It's a sacrifice, it says here. Now let's do that continually, "that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name." We should have a thankful heart when we do that. Follow this, "But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased." (verse 16) It doesn't seem like you should have to tell a Christian that. 'Let's see, should I do good, or should I do bad? I'm so confused, I'm so confused, I don't know what the Lord wants.' Really? He's given you a thousands of pages of print, it shouldn't be hard to figure out. 'I'm gonna put out a fleece,' you don't have to put out a fleece, he doesn't want you living in sexual sin, ok, if it rains on a fleece and the ground stays dry, people always want to do that. Our problem most of the time isn't that we don't know, it's that we do know, and we don't like what we do know, so we try to find a loop-hole. "Do good," and "communicate" is fellowship, it's our word koinonia. Offer a sacrifice of praise, do good to one another, that word there is speaking of mercy, it's talking about having mercy on one another, particularly of those who have need. Fellowship, koinonia, don't forget to do that, here it is again, "for with such sacrifices God is well pleased." A sacrifice of praise, a sacrifice of having mercy on people that are less fortunate, that need encouragement, that need somebody to share the love of Christ with them, and not just say 'be warmed and filled,' but actually bring a meal to the house and do something good. 'To fellowship, to come, to fellowship, be part of one another, it says these kinds of sacrifices, with them God is well pleased.'
'Be Yielded To Those Who Lead You (But Avoid The Type Of Ministries That Are Overly Authoritative)
"Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you." (verse 17) 'Be persuaded by them that have the rule over you,' "Submit" there is "yield," it is the only time it's used in the New Testament, it's "be yielded to", you're supposed to have the right attitude towards the spiritual leadership in the church. "for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account," that's not a comfortable idea, you know. Let me tell you, there's a tremendous group of men and women that work here, and we may have a spirit of lunacy in the camp once in a while, but we don't have the typical church politics, back-stabbing, you know, vying for position, ah, all the guys working with me are not waiting for me to die so they can have the pulpit, you know, or think about poisoning my soup so they can have the pulpit. But there it's a great group, and we genuinely pray, genuinely talk about the problems, we genuinely have pastoral heartache when we hear of a family where pornography has destroyed it, or there's divorce, or hear of a teenager, and we hear, just God is gracious to bring those things to us, hearing of someone sexually active or using drugs, it's heartache, because we know the truth, and we know what God has for his people and how he desires to bless. It's an exhortation. 'Be persuaded by those who have the rule over you, yield yourselves, have the right attitude, for they watch for your souls as those that must give an account,' "that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you." King James says "not with grief" it's not with groaning, for that's not profitable to you. You know, somebody says your name to the pastor, 'Hey, do you know so and so,' and he says, 'Ohhhh, do I know them [groan],' that's not good for you, something's out of kilter there. He should be saying, 'Oh yea, they're great, I love them, we have a great time,' instead of 'ohhhh, where's my pepsid,' and you know something's wrong. Look, it doesn't say this, Kathy and I came out of a ministry that was very strong on authority and submission in shepherding years ago, and it's very painful, and it's not Biblical. [Comment: Pastor Joe is so right here. You drive cattle with a bull whip, you lead sheep to higher pasture (very symbolic of our journey to higher pasture) by the shepherd gently picking up a young lamb of one of the lead sheep, and starting to walk toward higher pasture. The little lamb cries out 'baaah, baaah' to it's mother, the mother follows, and the other sheep follow her. That is how a shepherd leads his flock to higher pasture. To read an excellent book about the comparisons between physical shepherding of sheep and the spiritual counterpart, order and read Phillip Keller's book "A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23", and see http://www.unityinchrist.com/pom/AShepherdLooks.htm] Jesus said in Mark 10 'that you know how the Gentiles rule over one another, it shall not be so among you, the greatest among you shall be servant of all.' At the end of 1st Corinthians chapter 16 Paul says, 'I asked Apollos to come, but he was minded to do something else.' Paul didn't say, 'Apollos, his name is going to be mud-ollos by the time I get done with him, who does he think he is, I'm an apostle, he's just Apollos, I'm an apostle.' 2nd Corinthians chapter 1, 'We don't have dominion over you, but we are helpers of your joy.' Paul in Philemon says, 'though I could command you, but for love's sake I beseech you, an aged one like myself.' Peter, remembering these things in 1st Peter chapter 5 says, he writes to his fellow-elders, and he says 'that we should feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight, not by constraint, but willingly, not for filthy lucre, but of a willing mind, not being lords over God's heritage,' he says. 'And knowing when the great shepherd appears, you'll be rewarded.' Jesus, the only time in the Bible that it says he hates is in Revelation chapter 2, the church of Ephesus, the church of Pergamos, he says, 'I hate the doctrine of the Nicolaitans,' if you have Nike sneakers, that's nikao, it means to conquer, Laitan is the laity. Some try to make up this ridiculous story about a bishop and a cult, he's non-existent, it's nonsense. [Comment: real bishops started out in Rome with this overly authoritative form of Nicolaitan rulership, and became what is known as the Roman Catholic Church. See, http://www.unityinchrist.com/history2/earlychurch3.htm to see how this got started. So there is some truth to these bishops and a cult.] Jesus says 'I hate the domineering of the laity, the domineering of the priesthood over the laity.' I don't have any right to come and tell you can't get a Whirlpool, that you have to get a Frigidaire, 'I had a dream last night. Ah, no, you can't move to this town,' we don't have that kind of authority. If you come and say 'Hey, this is going on in my life, what does the Scripture say?' and the pastors here can pray about that and give you an honest answer and say 'This is where your boundaries are, this is what God has to say,' it says, then your attitude should be yielded. If we say to you, 'Don't believe me, be Bereans,' what it says is you should have a yielded attitude to that. But we don't have dominion over your lives. So what this writer's asking God's people is 'take note of those who have served well, spoken the Word of God to you, and have a yielded attitude.' I'll tell you something, the church is not perfect, this one ain't perfect. If you find a perfect one, don't go there, because when you go, it won't be anymore. [laughter] The Church is beautiful by the completed work of Christ, she's going to be spotless on the day of redemption, by the completed work of Christ, not by performance. We are the best dysfunctional family going, right here, right here. And we make mistakes, and we can say 'forgive me.' If you stay here you'll get to exercise not just love, joy, peace, but longsuffering, meekness, temperance, all the fruits, if you stay here you can exercise all the fruits of the Spirit, it'll be wonderful. But, you know, it's sad for me to see one of our pastors go, 'Ohhhh, I know that person,' with a groan, 'Ohhhh,' you know. I have my own horse sound, I go [makes a horse sound, almost sounds like giving the raspberry] if somebody asks me, doesn't say you have to do that here, so I have my own sound. [laughter]
Paul's Closing Doxology
Look, "Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly." (verse 18) And I'll say that to you guys, you know, but I always ask everybody, "Pray for us." "But I beseech you the rather to do this, that I may be restored to you the sooner." (verse 19) he's asking for prayer, as he moves down, he wants to see them. "Now the God of peace" isn't it remarkable to have doxology, "Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen." (verses 20-21) this is a run-on sentence, notice that. "Now the God of peace" I'm glad he's that, aren't you? "that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus," it's talking about God the Father, that he raised Jesus from the dead. Isn't it interesting? Jesus in John chapter 10 says, 'I lay down my life, and I take it up again, nobody takes it from me, I lay it down, and I take it up.' He says that he raised himself from the dead. It tells us in Romans chapter 8, 'If the same Spirit dwells in you that raised Christ from the dead, then he'll also quicken your mortal bodies by that Spirit which he raised Christ from the dead,' so we're told in the New Testament that the Holy Spirit raised Christ from the dead, that God the Father raised Christ from the dead, and that Jesus raised himself from the dead. Who raised him from the dead? He did, of course. [he laughs] He's the Holy Spirit, he's the Father, and he's the Son, he did [as the Jews say, "God is one God" theology]. "Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep," and I like to think of him like that, "through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will," Now, interesting, "make you perfect" that's "equip you" is the idea. It's a word, if you study that word "perfect" there, the middle of the Greek word, it has the word "to be an artist", but it means "to perform something." It was used of those smelting metals, it was used of a doctor setting a bone, it was used of an artist completing a work of art. 'This God of peace, the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, may he set, mend your broken bones, work in your life what no other artist of any kind could ever work into your life, may he equip you in every good work, to do his will,' "working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen." If you're yielded, he does it, he'll work it, he'll work through you, he'll provide everything for the calling he has on your life. 'God's calling is God's enabling,' he's saying. "And I beseech you, brethren, suffer the word of exhortation: for I have written a letter unto you in few words." (verse 22) Now it was a tough word of exhortation to some of these Hebrew Christians. That's one of the reasons I think Paul did, only Paul could write 13 chapters and say it was a few words. "I have written a letter unto you in a few words. Know ye that our brother Timothy is set at liberty; with whom, if he come shortly, I will see you." (verses 22b-23) So this author has a good relationship with Timothy [Paul, of course]. "Salute" or greet, "all them that have the rule over you, and all the saints. They of Italy salute you. Grace be with you all. Amen." (verses 24-25) 'all of them that have the rule over you, the spiritual leadership in the church, greet them.' Please do that for us. We'll have bad self-esteem if you don't. We love it when somebody says 'Hi Pastor Frank, hey Pastor Jer, hey Pastor Ron, hey Pastor Joe,' just greet those, greet us. People come, sometimes they'll come up and I'll say "How long you been coming?" "Ten years." "Really!? Hello, what's your name?" And the reason they're meeting me is because they finally brought their grandmother whose a Baptist, and she said 'I'm going up there the first week, you don't know your own pastor, let me take you up there,' and she comes up and talks to me and says, 'Here's my niece, has been here for ten years,' it's so funny. Ah, love to know you all. We'll never remember all your names, pretty good with faces, so if you come up to me and say 'We met three years ago, remember my name?' 'Brother.' [loud laughter] But in heaven [the kingdom of heaven, wherever that ends up being, cf. Revelation 21:1-23]. 'So greet those, great idea, spiritual leadership, those that have the rule over you, and all the saints, one another, everybody.' "They of Italy salute you." (verse 24b) Manga, you know, feel free if you're making Scampi, just those of Italy should get into this, just love that stuff, feel free, all of us on staff, we love Italian food, so. "They of Italy salute you. Grace be with you all. Amen." (verses 24b-25) AmenÉ[transcript of a connective expository sermon on Hebrews 13:1-25, given by Pastor Joe Focht, Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia, 13500 Philmont Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19116]
We're to show Christian hospitality. For some ideas, see,
For good Biblical teachings on marriage, see,
What is proper shepherding of God's flock? see,
http://www.unityinchrist.com/pom/AShepherdLooks.htm and also be sure to order Phillip Keller's book "A Shepherd Looks At Psalm 23" on http://www.amazon.com
For some heretical teachings John and Paul dealt with, which are alive and well in the 21st century, see,