Agonizomai: Heb 3:5-6 Christ - Faithful as Heir of the Church

Monday, November 16, 2009

Heb 3:5-6 Christ - Faithful as Heir of the Church

Heb 3:5-6 Christ - Faithful as Heir of the Church

Heb 3:5-6 Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, 6 but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope. {Some manuscripts insert firm to the end}

Again, here there is a contrast drawn between the creaturely service of Moses and the sovereign grace of Christ’s ministry - with the objective of encouraging the weakening Jewish believers to remember the difference between the shadow and its anti-type. Moses was indeed the great and noble and obedient and faithful leader of Israel in the past, but he was a mere fallen and flawed man, just as much in need of a Savior as anyone else. But Christ was the final fulfillment of all the prophets and prophesies, including those of Moses. Moses was the forerunner of the reality which came once for all in Christ. Moses was a man, but Christ was both son of man and eternal Son of God.

This was the reality to which the writer was urging the Hebrews, and of which he was reminding them. They had grasped and professed these truths when they first believed. Now they had to hold fast to them in order to make their calling and election sure. They had to boast only in the finished work of Christ and to keep themselves forever cut off from the self-justification that attempted law-keeping exposed. Christ was the fulfillment of the law for all who believed - but the proof of their having been truly regenerated was to be found in their perseverance to the end. They would be preserved through their perseverance. And to this end, the writer exhorts them here to be so found.

Now, a person who is wavering can only come to perseverance through faith in what Christ has already done. That is God’s design. Faith itself is not what saves a person - but the object of that faith. And the object of the faith of all Christians is Christ, and His death and His completed, glorified life, which alone make us acceptable to the Father. More than this, it is through believing in the sufficiency of Christ that we apprehend the breadth and depth, and the height of God’s love for us and in which we rest through all tribulations and temptations.

So it is important to get things in the right order because this sort of sentiment is often to be found in the New Testament, but is frequently misunderstood. We do not persevere in order to ensure our salvation. But rather, through looking to Christ we find/maintain confidence that God has, in fact, saved us - and we receive assurance to persevere to the end, believing that He will preserve us, as God always promised to do for His elect children.

Only God’s true children see this distinction and rest solely in Christ for their deliverance. To the others the distinction is not even there because they are still abiding in the idea that salvation and/or sanctification relies, to whatever degree, on some “little something” that they themselves must contribute. But, as Luther pointed out to Erasmus, "A little something is not nothing."

Note then, that we are the house and Christ is the builder. The house does not - nor can it - build itself. The distinction is that Christ is God, the originator, the author, the creator, the builder, the power, the planner, the architect - and we are the clay that He molds according to His will and purposes. He is the Savior and we are the saved. He is the doer and we are the do-ees. He is the giver and we are the recipients. He is God and we are the work of His hands. Our hope is to be entirely in Him and not the least bit in ourselves, our wills, our faith or our perseverance.

The hope we boast in encompasses our own utter impotency and our total reliance upon God’s elective and sustaining grace - and it boasts in the fact that the awareness and ability to boast in even these things is itself the gift of God to us, who were once alienated, sinners, inveterate enemies and utterly opposed to Him Who saves us. He changed us - we did not and could not change ourselves by any thought, word, deed or inclination of the will that found its root in what we were. Luther had something to say touching the concept of God’s complete aseity in loving His people, as follows:

"The love of god does not seek that which it desires (or is pleased with) but creates it." Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation - Thesis 28


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, this is such good new, a hope that is real, because it doesn't come from us. For so many years, I had it all backwards, and whenever I now read it in the correct order, it brings tears of gratitude and joy to my eyes. That God is keeping my perseverance lifts a heavy weight off my shoulders and my soul frolics in green pastures. Thank you for stating this so clearly.

11:07 am  
Blogger agonizomai said...


It is amazing when the penny drops and all the wrong-headed notions we had about this are finally dissolved.

I'm not sure whether it is due to the residual flesh in us, or to wrong teaching in some churches we have attended, or both - that we have such difficulty shaking the last dregs of works justification from ourselves. I only know that the good news is so counter intuitive to our fallen natures that only God could make us see the final truth - that it is all of Him.



12:06 pm  
Blogger Derek Ashton said...



The Reformation is alive and well! The Scriptures are true, and we can (indeed, must - and indeed, WILL) persevere in faith through God's own wondrous working in us! Only God could come up with such a scheme, and only He can work it out, just as only He can open eyes and hearts to this truth.

Thank God for Luther, and thank God for Hayling, too.


9:10 am  
Blogger agonizomai said...


I'm glad you were blessed in this and would only add - thank God for God, Who has done all things well!



12:40 pm  

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