Let me start out by asking an obvious question: What does Jesus Christ being the beginning and the end have to do with the IFs of Hebrews? You see, I’m sure there will be more than one listener wondering how I am going to twist this verse out of context by adding another universally accepted truth to the mix. If that’s you, I want you to know that I appreciate your suspicion or doubt. And I mean that sincerely. Now, I’m glad some of you have come to trust that I’m going to tie everything to Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I know that it’s this consistency that causes some of you to give me the benefit of the doubt as you listen with the hearing of the spirit of Christ, the spirit that is in you. And that is all I expect or desire as you listen to what both Adam and I are going to say. Even if you don’t immediately — or even ever — agree with some or all of the connections you’re going to hear in any of our audio messages, we want you to know that our hearts’ desire is for you to see Christ in all things. Adam, would you like to say a few words about this?
In the beginning:
Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God
1 John 1:1 What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we beheld and our hands handled, concerning the Word of Life
Beginning and end, first and last:
Isaiah 41:4 “Who has performed and accomplished it, Calling forth the generations from the beginning? ‘I, the LORD, am the first, and with the last. I am He.’”
Revelation 21:6 And He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.
Revelation 22:13 “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”
Paul’s testimony of Christ as the beginning:
Colossians 1:15-19 And He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things have been created by Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the first-born from the dead; so that He Himself might come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fulness to dwell in Him,
Jesus Christ is known by millions as the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I’ve heard these verses quoted with such fervency, and I’ve seen T-shirts and banners boldly proclaiming this truth. I remember using these Biblical statements and phrases as if they had been inserted merely to establish Jesus’ identity.
Jim, what do you mean by “merely”
Yeah, I realize by using the word merely that I will cause a lot of suspicion as to what I really believe, but I’ll gladly take the criticism and/or skepticism in order to shake the systematic mentality by which we have learned to isolate truth into convenient categories. You see, when I preached my messages about the identity of Jesus and pulled out the specific verses that would support my claim, I had to mostly ignore the surrounding context. I’m not suggesting that the truth of a simple statement can’t stand on its own, rather I am saying that our habits of surgically removing the parts that support our arguments will also cause us to miss some living connections made by those who wrote the letters.
In the case of the Hebrews letter, I believe most have become distracted by systematic thinking so that some obvious connections are totally missed. What I’m saying is that there is a simple premise established at the very beginning of this letter that must not lose its focus at any given point.
You see, it’s more than just acknowledging that Jesus’ identity gives his words and his finished work their authority, it has to do with all the connections in between. Why? Because the founding premise of Jesus as the son of God, the one in whom God has spoken in the last days, the one who also made the world, the one who is the heir of all things, the one who is the radiance of God’s glory, the one who is the exact representation of God’s nature, the one who upholds all things by the word of God’s power, the one who made purification of sins, the one who after having accomplished that purification sat down at God’s right hand — HE, including everything about him, is the primary focus of everything written thereafter. That means that our confidence and our assurance hangs upon HIM.
How else do we continually let our focus shift between Christ and ourselves throughout this letter. How do we do this same thing with the following:
In Hebrews 1 and Hebrews 2, we veer off into discussions and questions about angels because we don’t recognize that the whole argument begins and ends in Christ. Hebrews 1:3 He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on High. What is the beginning of our salvation? Is it not his sacrifice on the cross where he made purification of sins? As to the ending of our salvation, it can be seen in his sitting down at the right hand of God. That means that he finished the will of God and then rested from his work.
In Hebrews 2, we get side-tracked by the “how will we escape” so that we totally miss the argument being established between the word spoken through angels and the word spoken through Christ. How? Because we began examining ourselves rather than the word brought by Jesus Christ. The real issue here is a challenge as to whether Christ is both the beginning and the end of our salvation. Remember how in Philippians 1:6, Paul asserted For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
In Hebrews 3, we totally lose focus because we still don’t recognize that the IF depends on Christ having been counted worthy of more glory than Moses. The real question was this: Did Christ fulfill the will of God so as to be counted worthy of the confidence and hope professed in his name? In other words, if it started in Christ, does it also end in Christ … or do we have to return to the Law to complete what Christ didn’t? I know, the wording of the letter can throw us off, but it’s only because the religious mind has crept back in so that we read the documents of freedom in Christ in view of its legalism. Look, it’s not difficult to determine if you’re reading the Bible according to the lie of the deceiver, for if the bottom line of your interpretation leaves your salvation dependent upon the works of the Law (or any equivalent thereof) that’s the same thing as saying that Christ began it but cannot or does not finish it. Consider the beginning and ending as played out in Hebrews 3:6 our confidence firm until the end and in Hebrews 3:14 the beginning of our assurance firm until the end. Our confidence, the beginning of our assurance — this speaks of the reality itself; while the firm until the end speaks of the reality of its finality in Christ. Their original confession, that is, the one that came about when they were first moved by the Spirit of God testified to a salvation that was fully complete in Christ — it began and ended in HIM. Along the way, a proposition began to be put forth in the form of a renewal of the Law’s sacrifices. That lie basically demanded that while Christ began their salvation, it must be continued through the Law. Can you see how this totally contradicts the truth that Christ is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end?
In Hebrews 4, we get distracted by the sense of a supposed deeper spirituality found in the concept of entering God’s rest, and in so doing, we totally miss the truth that in Christ we have already entered that rest through faith. Oh yeah, instead of seeing Christ as the one who makes or breaks this reality of entering God’s rest, we’re so stinking focused upon ourselves that we’ve created categories by which to view Christians in terms of those who have versus those who don’t. Heck, many believers don’t even regard Christ as having begun this work, let alone finish it.
Also in Hebrews 4, the only way one can hold the fallacy that the Bible is the active and living word of God (Hebrews 4:12) hangs on the same lack of recognition that Christ is the only viable option. In view of the main proposition put forth by the letter, it might shock us to realize which part of the Hebrews argument this fallacy actually represents. You see, between the former word spoken through angels and the word spoken in the last days through Christ, the claim that the written word of God is the active and living word of God is the exact same thing believed by the Hebrews who had chosen the Law over Christ. Consider the question put to the Hebrews: If the living word of God (Christ) is superior to the word that came through mediators (that which came through angels, given to the fathers) then why are you falling back upon the written word as if it is the final authority, rather than to Christ? And let me tell you that you’d better believe that the religious mind has turned the apostles into mediators of the same kind as those who wrote the Old Testament.
In Hebrews 5, we get ourselves caught up with insecurity and self-righteousness because we lose focus and examine ourselves for the intensity of our obedience, as well as the degree to which we imagine ourselves as having obtained between infancy and maturity. We’re also intrigued by the mysterious character Melchizedek and enter into debates regarding him. If we would only hold to the basic premise that the whole thing is all about Christ as beginning and end, it falls into place. This chapter continues the comparison between the Law and Christ by showing how much superior the priesthood of Christ is to that which was of the Law. Those who obey Christ are those who hear him (which is the basic meaning of the word), and this ties in exactly with the whole letter as it appeals to those who have heard his voice and have followed him. Realize that the argument of Hebrews was not meant to convince those who clung to the Law for their righteousness, but instead was a call to those who had heard and believed.
Hebrews 6:19 This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, The beginning: sure; The end: steadfast
Hebrews 6:20 …where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek. The beginning: a forerunner; The end: having become a high priest forever
Hebrews 12:2 Christ is the author and perfecter of faith. If nothing else speaks of Jesus Christ as the beginning and the end, this should snap our eyes open to it’s reality.
Hebrews 12:2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Christ is the author and perfecter of faith — Christ is the beginning and end of faith.
He is the author. Also translated, source, pioneer, originator, The beginning of this faith is also seen in his work of enduring the cross and despising the shame,
He is also the perfecter. Also translated finisher and completer. The end of faith is seen, once again, when he sat down at God’s right hand.