Jack Graham - Above All
Turn to Hebrews chapter 1. This is the second message in our series GOING THE DISTANCE-Developing a Muscular Faith. Here's what the Scripture says:
"After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. For to which of His angels did God ever say, 'You are my Son, today I have begotten you?' Or again, 'I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to Me a Son.' And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, 'Let all God's angels worship Him.' Of the angels He says, 'He makes His angels winds, and His ministers a flame of fire.' But of the Son He says, 'Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness beyond Your companions. You, Lord (talking about Jesus), laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of Your hands; they will perish, but You remain; they will all wear out like a garment, like a robe You will roll them up, like a garment they will be changed. But You are the same, and Your years will have no end.' And to which of the angels has he ever said, 'Sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet?' Are they not all (that is, angels) ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation"?
That's chapter 1 of Hebrews, and what a chapter it is. I can't imagine one or two paragraphs containing more truth, more great theology, Christology, than this passage of scripture. And there's more to come in the book of Hebrews. We're told as we learned the last time that Jesus is the heir of all things. That means the world was created for Him and by Him. That's verse two. The world has been mediated through God's Son, how great He is! He is the Creator of the universe. Jesus is the one who created the universe. That's verse two, the world and the foundations of the earth framed by Him; in Colossians 1:16, "For by Him all things were created in heaven and earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities (and that would include the holy angels) All things were created through Him and for Him".
We learned that He (Jesus) is the radiance of God's glory. That's verse 3. What a beautiful description of who Jesus is, "the Light of the world", "the radiance of the glory of God". What a beautiful testimony. Christ shining forth like the sun. Psalm 84:11, "The Lord God is a sun and a shield: He gives grace and glory: and no good thing will He withhold from them who walk uprightly". That's Psalm 84:11. He is the radiance of God's glory! Majestic and beautiful and supreme and superior! He is also, we learn, the exact representation of the being of God. Verse 3, He is the visible expression of who God is and all that God is! When you see Jesus, you see God the Father. He said in John 14:9. "Have I been with you so long and you still do not know Me, Philip? Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father?'"
When you look at Jesus, you're looking at God. We also learned that He is the one who upholds the universe, verse 3, He holds everything together. He controls it. Colossians 1:17: "And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together". Remember this from last week? He is the Creator and the sustainer. Otherwise it would be chaos in the universe, in the world. You talk about gravity. God is the gravity! Jesus is the Lord of the heavens and the earth. And everything is held together by Him! And if you're life is falling apart, put your life in the hands of Jesus. Let Him hold you; let Him put your life back together again. He has provided purification and forgiveness for our sins. Verse 3. Again, I'm just reviewing here to get started all the things that we're learning about Jesus. He sat down, it's past tense. He has provided purification for our sins.
So many live in the shame of their sin. Shame is a huge problem for people, even Christians, today. But, past tense, all sins: past, present and future, all your sin He has forgiven at the cross when you come to Him! His work is finished. Tetelestai, it is done. He is also seated in the place of authority and power, verse 3 once again. "Seated at the right hand of God". The right hand is the place of authority and power. He is sitting on this throne, as I mentioned, because His work is done. No longer need for a priest to do the work or a mediator because there is one Mediator between God and man, Jesus Christ. And He has provided this eternal security and salvation. We also discovered as we read even a moment ago that He's the King of His kingdom in verse 8. He presides and resides upon an eternal throne. He is the altogether Sinless One, according to verse 9. And we're told in the Scripture that He is the Designer of the universe, the eternal Creator, verse 10, verse 11. He is the unchanging One, verse 12.
Hebrews 13, verse 8: "Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever". He is the unchanging One. The world changes but Jesus never changes! He is the final Conqueror. He will overcome His enemies, according to verse 13. He will make His enemies their footstool. When you look at all of the hell that is being unleashed upon the earth, the hatred, the demonic powers that are flowing, every enemy will be defeated. They will come under the authority and the dominion of Jesus Christ. And here's the message today, He is the Lord of angels. He is the King of angels. He is the One and the only One who is above all powers, and that includes the holy angels.
"The same yesterday, today and forever", meaning that He is immortal, immutable and unchanging. And in these opening paragraphs we discover how we can go the distance in life, how we can persevere, and how we can go on, and get up and keep going, even when we want to quit and give up, because we are looking to a Savior, we are looking to the One who is above all things, and that includes you, your problems, your situation, anything going on in your life. The worship of Jesus Christ is the heart, the whole of the Christian faith. He is everything! He is the One and the only One who has a better plan, a better way for your life.
Just yesterday I was sitting at breakfast and I overheard the conversation of two men, one that I knew, one that I did not know. This gentleman, they were talking about serving the church here at Prestonwood. And one of the men works in our special needs ministry and, the man that I did not know. And he also is getting ready to work in our pregnancy center ministry, shadowing and going to help the men and the young men that are in these crisis situations. And so I was hearing them talk, so I went over and introduced myself, and said, "You know, I know who you are. I've heard your name, but I want to meet you". And he said, he didn't recognize me, I had a ball cap on and I didn't look like this yesterday morning.
And he said, "Oh, Pastor Graham"! He said, "You know, a number of years ago I was an addict. I was an alcoholic. And I went to AA: Alcoholics Anonymous. And let me say that AA has helped many people, and those kinds of organizations", but he said, "You know, at AA, and they helped me a lot, helped me to get over alcohol and modify that behavior". But he said, "I learned at AA in the first step about a higher power. You confess in that first step in a higher power, and that helped me". But he said, "It was only when I came to Prestonwood some years later and I heard you preach and you told me about Jesus, that I realized the higher power is Jesus". Jesus is the higher power. And there's no one higher than Jesus! He is above all! King of kings and Lord of lords! So the mission and ministry of our church, whatever we do, it's not about a higher power, it's not about modifying our behavior or changing ourselves or, self-help. But it is the power of the One and the only One who is above all, to sit upon the throne of our hearts and change us from the inside out.
That's what we're talking about. Jesus is someone more, He is more than someone to be admired, to be appreciated, to be applauded. He is the One and only One who is to be adored and worshiped as God! He is the One who is to be believed and followed! He is not someone to be emulated as an example, as in an heroic martyr. But He is the Creator, the Sustainer, and yes, the Redeemer of the heavens and the earth, and all who call upon His name. All God has to say, He has spoken to us in His Son. All God has to say is wrapped up in one word: J-E-S-U-S. And if I had only four words, if I could say four words, stand on the highest building, the tallest mountain on earth, if I had just four words, I'm preaching right now to people in many countries watching online. If I just had four words to say to the world and to say to you, here they are: Jesus Christ is Lord! Jesus Christ is Lord! And He, therefore, is above all! That's the title of this message.
Let me give you some ideas, some angelology, if you will, as to who the angels are. One, the angels are immortal in the sense they never die. God created the angels somewhere in eternity past. We know the angels were present in creation before the world's were made according to Job 38:7 "The morning stars sang together when creation was formed and all the sons of God (sons of God, not Son of God, but the sons of God) shouted for joy". So the angels were present at creation. And they sang together. This is one of the ways in which we know angels do sing. They celebrated creation with shouts of joy and songs of praise. These angels are, yes, indeed, immortal. They are also innumerable. The angels are innumerable. We don't know how many angels exist. They're like the stars, they are innumerable. Powerful myriads and myriads, tens of thousands.
Imagine untold millions of angels singing praise to our God who sits upon the throne and who is our God? Jesus our Lord! The praise never stops. The angels are also inspirational. They are designed to worship God. The focus is on Jesus. Angels are not about themselves. They're, as Billy Graham called them, God's secret agents. They work behind the scenes, on commission, on commandment by God. They don't do their own thing. They're not out here looking for something to do. But angels are assigned by God specific tasks in heaven and in earth, and yes, they do intersect and intervene in our lives. Angels unaware. Later in the book of Hebrews the writer would speak about "entertaining angels unaware".
Angels are designed, they are ministers of flame of fire, which means they are powerful beings; they are not only immortal and innumerable and inspiriting, but they are invisible, these angels. Don't think of an angel as a cuddly little naked baby, a cupid. An angel is a mighty and powerful warrior. We've talked about this in the past. If you saw an angel, if an angel, and angels are spirit beings so they don't have a body. They can manifest themselves in human form, and we see that in the Scripture. But for the most part that's very rare. Angels do their work behind the scenes and are engaged in our lives that we will not perhaps know until we get to heaven. You'll meet an angel who said, "I took care of you. I had your back the whole time". They are our defenders and protectors.
Again, on assignment by God. And most of us can look back on our lives and we can see circumstances, situation in our lives where it was that almost accident, there was that near brush with death. There was that situation and you look back and say, "How did that happen"? Angels engaged, involved in your life, protecting you, providing for you, taking care of you. Yes! We're told in that last verse of chapter 1 that angels minister to those who inherit salvation. Now there's been quite a bit of interest over the last few years in angels. And I often think that, and here's how this applies to our text. Many people think, "You know, God is out there; God is so powerful; Jesus is Jesus, but, you know, angels, I can understand angels. They're quieter; they're tender; they're sweet; they're kind; they're cuddly".
And many people want to substitute angels for God! "Oh, I got my angel. My angel's on my shoulder". None of that! If you saw an angel, if you saw an angel manifest himself, you would be tempted to bow down on your face and worship that angel! You say, "No, I wouldn't". Yes, you would! John the apostle of love captured a vision of heaven, it's called The Revelation. In it he saw many, many angels. And when he met an angel for the first time in this magnificent vision of heaven, when he saw the angel, he fell down, according to his own testimony, to worship the angel. And the angel said, "Don't do that! You're going to get us both in trouble here! Get up"! And then the angel said, "Worship God".
One of the great scenes in the Bible around the throne, Revelation... By the way, you would expect when demon activity increases in the world, and wouldn't you agree, demonic activity has been unleashed in our world in our times? And when you see demonic activity in the world, increased demonic activity, you can expect increased angelic activity. So I believe that this warfare is ramping up, this heavenly warfare with these great warriors.
There was a man by the name of Elisha, a great prophet; he had a servant and they came against the Syrian army and the Syrians wanted to destroy Israel and Israel's prophet Elisha, not Elijah, Elisha, the successor to Elijah. And Elisha said to his servant, the servant said, "Look at these! So many against us. What are we going to do"? He thought "We're dead men, walking. The Syrian army is in our face! How can we survive"? And the great prophet looked at him and said, "There are more with us than against us"! And he bowed his head and he prayed, "Help him, Lord. Open his eyes so that he can see". And when that servant opened his eyes, he saw surrounding them a mighty army of angels with drawn swords, ready to defend the prophet and his team.
So I'm saying to you, the angels are mighty and powerful and glorious and majestic! They are immortal, they are invisible, they are influential, they're engaged in our lives! They are influencing things around us for our behalf! Remember, to those who have inherited salvation. Look at that last verse in the chapter again, "To those who have inherited salvation," if you are not saved, if you have not received eternal salvation, don't expect the help angels. Angels are commanded by God to help the saints, those who have inherited salvation. I'm glad they're on our team! Aren't you? But with all that said, the angels cannot compare to Jesus, because He has a greater name than any of the angels. He has a more powerful presence and a more elevated position than all of the angels, and all of the angels combined. The angels worship Jesus. Though the angels have power over nature, Jesus controls nature. And on and on we can go. A more excellent name!
You know, angels are often mentioned surrounding the life of Jesus. An angel, Gabriel, announced His name. We were told He has a more excellent name. What a beautiful name it is! What a glorious name it is! Matthew 1:21, "You shall call His name Jesus," said the angel, "for He will save His people from their sins". The angels were present at His birth, of course.
You know the Christmas story, no doubt, when the heaven's exploded with the glory of God, and the angels announced the coming of the King, the coming of the Baby. And think about this, even though Jesus was a Baby Boy, what did He weigh? We don't know, seven pounds, eight pounds, nine pounds? A tiny baby, and the angels in heaven were resplendent with the glory of God! They were shouting, they were singing, they were praising, they were worshiping, they were magnificent! Those shepherds were shaking in their sandals at the sight of these angels. But still greater was that little Baby, that little helpless Child, even in His humanity, His incarnation than the glorious angels because He has a greater name. He also has a better and greater nature.
There's an excellent name; He has an eternal nature. I don't have much more time to talk about that, but He is the very nature of God. Angels are the sons of God in the sense that God created them, but Jesus is the Son of God. That's why you read there in the Scripture, "Of whom has He said, 'You are My Son, I have begotten You.'" That's Jesus and only Jesus! Jesus is the Son of God, the only begotten of the Father, the firstborn of the dead. He shines more brightly and more brilliantly than the angels because of the nature, the radiance of God that is within Him. But God sent His Son, when the world was damaged and destroyed and darkened by sin. There's so much darkness around us. We live in a dark world, spiritual darkness, moral darkness, the darkness of injustice, hate, sin, death, hell, it's all around. But Jesus has come as the Light of the world.
Don't just celebrate this at Christmas, celebrate it every day of your life as a believer and follower of Jesus. Because He has an essential nature. You know what that means? He has the essential nature of God. Though the Son of God, He is the Son of God and God the Son. One and the same. That is cardinal, central core truth. You cannot have Christianity without Christ! You can have a form of Buddhism without Buddha, you can have Islam really without Mohammed, but you can't have Christianity without Jesus. Christianity is not a code, it's not a cause, it's not a creed, it's not a church! It's Christ and Christ alone! Without Jesus there's nothing! He is above all and all that there is! And therefore we celebrate Him, because He has a more excellent name and He has an eternal nature. It's co-eternal and He has also an elevated nobility in that He is on the throne of God. He sits in God's chair. He is forever King! That'd be a good place for an AMEN!
Come on, church! He is forever King! He is King of kings and Lord of lords! Look to Jesus, lean into Jesus, run to Jesus, keep your focus on Jesus. That's what we're saying. If we look up, if we look within to ourselves, we're setting ourselves up for failure, stumbling and falling. If you look at your problems, you're going to live miserably. If you try to find solutions inside yourself, even psychology, and there are principles in psychology that we need to know, but if you look to psychology or philosophy or science, or any other mechanism, that's an epic failure. Our life recovery is found in Christ, and Christ alone! A Christian is victorious who looks away from self and shame and sin and keeps eyes focused on Jesus.
Simon Peter decided one day when he saw Jesus walking on the water, "I'm going to walk on the water with Him". He asked Jesus for permission. He got out of the boat and started walking on the water. And then what happened? The wind, the waves, were taking him down. He became frightened. He looked at the waves, he felt the winds, he took his eyes off Jesus and he began to sink. Jesus caught him. And when they got back to the shore...
Did you ever wonder how they got back to the shore? Did they walk together? Did they swim together? Did they get back in the boat? I don't know. But Jesus saved him from slipping and failing and falling. Even when he took his eyes off Him. But here's the point, with the winds and the waves howling around you, with the storms of life, the struggles are against you, keep your eyes on Jesus. Get your eyes off yourself and put your eyes on the One and the only One who is above all! He is above all angels, He is above all kings, He is above all power! So worship Him, trust Him, believe Him, and follow Him. And when I read these verses that Jesus is greater than the angels and He is above all, I think of that great hymn of yesteryear when it speaks of the name of Jesus: "All hail the power of Jesus' name. Let angels prostrate fall. Bring forth the royal diadem and crown Him Lord of all".