Friday, October 07, 2016
The Vision (10.7.16): Suffer the Word of Exhortation
Note: Last Sunday morning we completed our series through Hebrews. You can listen to the 46 sermons in the series here. The devotion is taken from the last Sunday’s sermon on Hebrews 13:22-25.
And I beseech you, brethren, suffer the word of exhortation: for I have written a letter unto you in few words (Hebrews 13:22).
Hebrews ends with an exhortation to “suffer [anechomai: to sustain, bear, endure] the word [logos] of exhortation [paraklesis].”
What is the “word of exhortation”? It is the entire book of Hebrews. I noted at the very beginning of this series the question of the genre of Hebrews. Is it a sermon or a letter? In v. 22 we have evidence it is both. It is a sermon, a word of exhortation (v. 22a). It is also a letter: “for I have written a letter (epistello: the root of “epistle”) unto you in a few words” (v. 22b).
Though the inspired author is speaking here of the book of Hebrews, in particular, he is also speaking of the entirety of the Scripture. The whole Bible, the whole counsel of God, is to us a word of exhortation. Sometimes it is a word of admonishment. And sometimes it is a word of comfort. Compare:
Romans 15: 4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort [paraklesis] of the scriptures might have hope.
Sometimes we think people don’t read the Bible or like to hear it preached and taught because it is too difficult for them to understand. It only needs translation into our modern idiom. The poet T. S. Eliot in a review of the New English Bible observed that the writings of Paul are indeed hard to understand. He added that there can be no easy translation of the concepts in Paul anymore than there can be an easy translation of the philosopher Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, a notoriously difficult to understand work of philosophy. Perhaps we don’t like the intake of the word because we don’t like being offended by what it has to say, by the changes that it demands and expects, or by the challenges it poses.
But the inspired author of Hebrews says, “suffer the word of exhortation.” This is a key to the Christian life. When one becomes a Christian he must become not only a believer in Jesus but also, correspondingly, a believer in the Scriptures. To trust Christ is to trust his Word.
Compare chapter 14 in the Second London Baptist Confession “Of Saving Faith” and paragraph 2:
By this faith a Christian believes to be true whatsoever is revealed in the Word for the authority of God himself, and also apprehends an excellency therein above all other writings and all things in the world, as it bears forth the glory of God in his attributes, the excellency of Christ in his nature and offices, and the power and fullness of the Holy Spirit in his workings and operations: and so is enabled to cast his soul upon the truth consequently believed; and also acts differently upon that which each particular passage thereof contains; yielding obedience to the commands, trembling at the threatenings, and embracing the promises of God for this life and that which is to come; but the principle acts of saving faith have immediate relation to Christ, accepting, receiving, and resting upon him alone for justification, sanctification, and eternal life, by virtue of the covenant of grace.
Indeed, to be a believer is to suffer (receive with reverence and submission) his revealed truth in Hebrews and in the rest of Scripture also.
Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle