Robert Jeffress - God's Last Word
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. Do you ever wish you could sit down for a one-on-one conversation with God, ask him questions about your life like why things happened or what he wants you to do next? Well, that's not typically how God chooses to work, but that doesn't mean God is silent. Today we're going to look at the way God speaks. My message is titled: God's Last Word on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.
Today, there is a remarkable and measurable increase in interest in the person of Jesus Christ. In fact, one scholar at the university of Chicago notes that more has been written about Jesus Christ in the last 20 years than all of the previous 20 centuries. Now you see it all the time in secular publications stories on searching for the real Jesus, but is that searching leading people to the right conclusion about Jesus? I was reading a letter to the editor in one of those secular publications after such an article and this reader wrote if Jesus was not the Son of God, then Jesus was certainly the greatest social reformer ever to walk the earth. His message of love, compassion, and equality in the sight of God will forever comfort and challenge mankind. In the end it really doesn't matter what happened after Jesus died, it is enough to know that his life, not his death altered the course of history.
Is that true? Was Jesus just a great social reformer, a moral example? No, the writer of Hebrews tells us Jesus was more, much more than that and in the opening chapter of Hebrews chapter one we discover that Jesus Christ was superior to any prophet, moral reformer, or teacher that ever lived. Jesus is God's complete and perfect revelation, Jesus is God's final word in human history and that's the theme of the passage we're going to look at today. If you have your Bibles turn to Hebrews chapter one as we talk about God's final word in human history. Question number one, has God spoken? Question number two, if God has spoken what has he said? I don't want to allow that question just to slip past you, I want you to think about what the first two verses of Hebrews one say, God has spoken the writer says and then he said, God has spoken a second time. Don't let that slip past you. Think about this, God has spoken.
Well, what is it that he is saying to us and how has he spoken to us? Notice beginning in verse one the writer talks about God's past communication, how he has spoken in the past. Look at verse one with me would you? "God, after he spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways," I want you to notice three things about God's past communication. First of all, his medium was the prophets. That word prophet comes from the two words, pros which means in front of and fornaio which means to speak. These are men who spoke in front of or on behalf of God. The prophets of the Old Testament weren't crystal ball gazers, they didn't stare into the skies and try to formulate their own message. Amos 3:7 says, "Surely the Lord God does nothing unless he reveals his secret counsel to his servants the prophets".
The prophets were God's spokesman. They were there to reveal not their message, but his message. No prophet ever said, I feel, or I think or I conjecture. Every prophet who spoke said, "Thus sayeth the Lord". The prophet spoke on behalf of God, but as powerful as the prophet's message was, secondly God's message was fragmentary. It was fragmentary. And notice it says that the prophet spoke in many portions. Did you know there were 44 writers in the Old Testament in those 39 books, 44 different writers who wrote over a period of 1500 years and everything every prophet said was true, but it wasn't complete. Every prophet had a little piece of the puzzle, but no prophet had the whole piece or the whole puzzle. Isaiah wrote about the holiness of God, Amos talked about the justice of God, Hosea talked about the redemption, the forgiveness of God, but nobody saw the whole picture.
You know, Martin Luther the great reformer used this illustration to show how the prophet's understanding was fragmentary. Remember the story in numbers chapter 13 when God told the spies to go into the Promised Land before they tried to conquer it, to come back and bring a report about what was awaiting them in the land? Numbers 13 says now "When they came to the valley of Eschol and from there they cut down a branch with a single cluster of grapes and they carried it on a pole between two men with some of the palm granites and the figs". They were going to bring back to the people an example of what was in the Promised Land and it was a cluster of grapes so large that took two men to carry it. And I've given you a little illustration to show you what it probably looked like.
Here you had the first man that had the pole on his shoulder, he couldn't see what he was carrying, but he knew it must have been something very important. And then you had the treasure itself, the grapes and then you had the second man behind the grapes, he cannot only see the treasure, he can smell the aroma of it. Now, in a way that's what we're seeing here in Hebrews chapter one. The prophets were like that first man carrying the pole. The prophets knew they were talking about something important, but they didn't have a full picture of who Jesus was. Jesus Christ is the treasure himself and the church that is you and I we have the benefit of being behind Christ and seeing what the prophets were carrying, we see the fullness of the treasure of Christ.
Notice here, the medium of God's past communication was the prophets, the message was fragmentary. And thirdly, God's methods were varied. God used a variety of ways to communicate. I think one version says in many portions, and in many ways I think the old King James says, and in diverse manners, all he's saying is sometimes God spoke through a spoken word. Sometimes he spoke through visions, other times through dreams, other times through that handwriting on the wall in the book of Daniel, he spoke in many ways. Now contrast God's past communication through the prophets that was fragmentary and in many ways and methods to God's final communication. God's final communication put out to the side of that Jesus. Jesus represents God's final and complete revelation to us. Look at verse two, "In these last days, he has spoken to us in his son".
Now remember the theme of Hebrews, Jesus is superior to every part of Judaism starting with the prophets. Jesus revelation is superior to the revelation that the prophets received. And notice what he says here, I have to make a mention of this. He says, in these last days God has spoken to his son. The writer of Hebrews believed we were in the last days, he wrote that 2000 years ago. 2000 years ago, the prophet said we're in the last day. Did you know we are living truly in the last days today? We are living in the last days. Have you ever looked at a mountain range from a distance and you've noticed perhaps two peaks of mountains that seem so close together, and yet as you got closer and closer to that mountain range you realized there was a great distance between the first peak and the second peak. The two peaks were separated by a valley, it's the same way with Jesus.
Thousands of years ago, the prophets saw all of these events as happening close to one another. Only as they got closer and we looked from the other perspective did we see that there's a great distance, a gap between the first and the second coming of Christ, but we are still living in the final days. He could come back at any moment, at any moment we could be raptured to meet the Lord in the air. In these last days, God has spoken to us in his son and God's revelation he gave to his son is far superior to the revelation to the prophets. Now, let me give you an illustration that will help you understand that we've been in some heavy theology, let me give you a little illustration of that.
In my first church I served in as pastor whenever we had a major decision that needed to be decided, like who has the authority to repaint the bathroom? I mean, we we'd grappled with those deep problems in my first church, there'd be an argument about, well who gets to say, do the deacons, does the pastor? Who gets to decide who paints the bathroom, and what color the bathroom is going to be painted? So somebody says, oh, I remember 30 years ago in a business meeting we talked about who has bathroom authority. And so would go through and search through the minutes, years of business meeting records, trying to say, okay what did we say about that? And then another question would come up, what would we do about such and such? And well, the deacon said 20 years ago so we go back and search through all those minutes.
I got so sick and tired of that, I said, this is ridiculous. I'm going to appoint a committee, and we're going to put together a church operating manual and in this manual, you committee you work on it and you can take anything from the past you want to and put in that manual you can discard anything from the past if you want to. If you want to come up with new regulations, put them there, but we're going to go to one source from this point on to find out how we're to operate as a church. Well, that's a great illustration of the difference between the prophets and Jesus, the prophets they had all kind of things they were saying. They came in fragments, but Jesus Christ is God's final revelation. Everything you need to know about God is found in Jesus Christ. And by the way, everything you need to know about what Jesus wants for you is found in the New Testament.
Just as Jesus is the living Word of God, the New Testament is God's living word and written word to us that tells us what we're to do. The New Testament is God's final and complete revelation to us just as Jesus is the complete and final revelation of everything we need to know about God. Jesus is superior in his revelation to us. Let me just mention three ways that Christ's revelation was superior to that of the prophets. First of all, the prophets were many, but Christ is one. The prophets were many, but Christ is one. Secondly, the prophets did not fully understand their message, but Christ is the source of his message.
And number three, the prophets were not indwelt by the Holy Spirit, but Christ is one with the spirit. Now Jesus is superior to the prophets, not only in the revelation that he received, but Jesus' superior in the uniqueness of his own person. Jesus himself, the person of Jesus is superior to that of the prophets. Let me quickly mention seven ways that the person of Christ is superior to the prophets. I want you to write these down and follow me. First of all, Jesus is the heir of all things. Look at verse two, "He has spoken through his son whom he appointed the heir of all things". No prophet was ever called an heir of God, or a child of God, they were servants of God, but Jesus is the heir. You say, well, that's real nice for Jesus, but what does that mean to me? Here's the good part, Romans 8:17 Paul says, if we are children of God, if we come into his family through Christ, we are "Heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him".
God's wealth is unlimited. There is no limit and that means everything that God has intended for his son he is giving to you as well as a joint heir in Christ. No prophet was ever called a joint heir. Secondly, Jesus is the agent of creation. He's the agent in creation. Look at verse two, "He appointed him as the heir of all things through whom also he made the world". God made the world through Jesus. Jesus didn't appear on the scene at Bethlehem, that wasn't his first time to appear in the universe, he existed as a co-equal with God the Father and it is not God the Father, it is Jesus the son who created the world and everything that's in it. Colossians 1:16 says, "For by him," Jesus "All things were created both in heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions, or rulers or authorities, all things were created by Jesus and they were created for Jesus".
That's what makes Jesus superior than any of the Old Testament prophets. As somebody pointed out Moses, he could only write about the creation. Abraham, he could only gaze at the stars. David, he could only exalt about creation, oh Lord, oh Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth, but Jesus is the agent of the creation. He is the one who flung this universe into existence by his single word. No prophet could ever say that. Thirdly, Jesus is the radiance of God's glory. Look at verse three, "He is the radiance of his glory".
Think about a lamp, for example, with a bulb in it that's putting out a lot of light. What happens if you put a lamp shade on that lamp? It certainly diminishes what you're able to see, but does it change the output of the bulb? Not at all. The bulb continues to put out the same brightness, even though it's somewhat diminished in our eyes. When Jesus came in human flesh it was like God put a lampshade on Jesus. His glory was somewhat diminished in our eyes in human flesh, but there was a point that God took the lampshade off. Remember, on the Mount of Transfiguration, the lampshade came off and his inner circle saw Jesus just as he was, but even though we could not see the fullness of his glory when he came the first time, make no mistake about it, he is the radiance of the full glory of God. God poured of his glory into the person of Jesus Christ.
Fourth, Jesus unlike the prophets is the exact representation of God's nature. That's the phrase he uses in verse three, he is the exact representation of God's nature. That phrase, exact representation comes from a word that means an imprint, an impression. Think about a stamp and you dip it in ink, and you make an impression on a piece of paper. Or think about a a Roman ring that was used to make an impression on a piece of wax to make that impression that denoted the Roman seal. Jesus is the impression of God himself, he is that Mark that is left by the stamp. He is the perfect representation of God himself because he is God himself. That's why Jesus unlike the prophets is exactly the same as God. Jesus claimed to be God. He is the exact representation of God because he is God.
Number five, Jesus is superior to the prophets because he is the sustainer of the universe. Look again at verse three, "And he upholds all things by the word of his power". And by the way the same God who is upholding the physical world by the power of his word is the same guy who is upholding your world. Every detail of your life is being upheld by the power of Jesus Christ. He is the sustainer of the universe.
Number six, Jesus Christ is superior to the prophets because he is the source of spiritual cleansing. Look at verse three again, "And when Jesus had made purification of our sins," you know the prophets they could only announce God's judgment because of sin, but only Jesus could do something about our sin. He made that one time sacrifice for our sins that provides us with eternal life. He purifies you, he cleanses you, he washes all the junk away and makes you a brand new person. That's what Isaiah the prophet longed for. He couldn't do it himself, but he longed for it.
Remember when he said, "Come, let us reason together. Says the Lord of host. Though your sins be as scarlet, I will make them as white as snow". No prophet could ever do that, Jesus did that. He is the source of spiritual cleansing, and finally, he is the completer of redemption. Verse three, "And when he had made the purification of sins he sat down at the right hand of the majesty on high". We'll look in days ahead of what that means to sit on the right hand. It was the place of authority, but I want us to concentrate for a moment on that phrase, he sat down. When Jesus has offered that superior sacrifice, he sat down.
What's the significance of that? Listen to me, there were no seats in the tabernacle, there were no seats in the temple for a priest to sit down upon, that was by God's design. The reason there were no seats in the temple is the priest work was never finished. He had to stand and continually day after day, month after month, year after year make a sacrifice for the sins of the people. But when Jesus finished his work on the cross, he sat down at the right hand of God the Father because it was finished. There was no other sacrifice to be offered, he is God's complete and perfect sacrifice for our sins. You know, one of the most interesting references to the life of Jesus that comes from outside of the Bible, actually was written in 112 ad.
By the way have you ever heard people say, oh there's no reference to Jesus in secular literature, it's only in the Bible and it's a myth. Anybody who says that's too ignorant to be talking. The fact is there are plenty of references to Christ. One of the most interesting I think you're going to find was written in ad 112. There was a Roman governor of Bithynia named Pliny the younger, and he was writing a letter to the Roman emperor, Trajan explaining why it is all the temples, the pagan temples in Bithynia were empty. No one was any longer worshiping the Roman Gods, or the Greek Gods like Jupiter and mercury.
Why were the temples in Bithynia empty? Well, in this letter that we have a copy of today I want you to listen to what Pliny wrote. He said to the emperor, "The Christians have swept the province of Bithynia. They gather on the first day of the week to sing hymns to Jesus as God". They gather together to sing hymns to Jesus as God. To those first century Christians, that belief that Jesus is God was not some cold theological dogma to just give mental ascent to, the truth that Jesus is God was the foundation of their lives. It was a truth that they were willing to sacrifice everything for including their very lives. And today that truth that Jesus Christ is God is the foundation of our lives and it should motivate us to worship him as well.