If you have your Bibles, we’d like to ask you to turn to Hebrews, chapter 1, and we’re going to continue our look at the first three verses of this tremendous epistle. We began last Sunday with an introduction to the book of Hebrews, and laid some groundwork. We began with these first three verses, to see that the writer of Hebrews introduces the person of Jesus Christ. And in this particular epistle, his real theme for the whole epistle is the person of Christ, in His superiority and His preeminence; that there is none other like Him, that everything and everybody else comes under Him.
And so, when we come to Hebrews, we come to the preeminence of Christ; and especially when we come to Hebrews 1:1-3, do we come to the preeminence of Christ. Someone has said He came from the bosom of the Father to the bosom of a woman. He put on humanity that we might put on divinity. He became Son of Man that we might become sons of God. He was born contrary to the laws of nature, lived in poverty, was reared in obscurity, and only once crossed the boundary of the land in which He was born, and that in His childhood. He had no wealth or influence, and had neither training nor education in the world schools.
His relatives were inconspicuous and uninfluential. In infancy, He startled a king. In boyhood, He puzzled the learned doctors. In manhood, He ruled the course of nature. He walked upon the billows, and hushed the seas asleep. He healed the multitudes without medicine, and made no charge for His services. He never wrote a book, yet all the libraries of the country could not hold all of the books about Him. He never wrote a song, yet He has furnished the theme for more songs than all songwriters together. He never founded a college, yet all the schools together cannot boast of as many students as He has.
He never practiced medicine, and yet He healed more broken hearts than the doctors have healed broken bodies. This Jesus Christ is the star of astronomy, the rock of geology, the lion and the lamb of zoology, the harmonizer of all discords, and the healer of all diseases. And throughout history great men have come and gone, yet He lives on. Herod could not kill Him. Satan could not seduce Him. Death could not destroy Him, and the grave could not hold Him. This is our Christ, the preeminent one, and He is the theme of the epistle to the Hebrews. He dominates the book, from one end to the other.
Now, Hebrews is a marvelous letter from an unknown writer, an unknown Christian, to a congregation of Jewish believers existing somewhere outside the land of Israel, who were won to Christ by apostolic missionaries. The emphasis of the epistle is to Christians, though throughout the epistle there are at least five parenthetical warnings to unbelievers, either those who know the truth and reject it, or those who haven’t yet understood the truth. And whether he’s talking to an unbeliever who needs to receive Christ or a believer who already has, he is constantly announcing the superiority of Christ.
As I told you last week, even the Jewish Christians were in danger of staying tangled up with the old covenant, and he wanted them to understand that they didn’t need it anymore; that Christ was all in all sufficient. And so, the book of Hebrews, then, to the Jewish Christian, is a reminder of the glories of his Savior, and is an encouragement that the new covenant is indeed better than the old covenant, and that he does not have to hold onto the old covenant, but can let go of it, and grow to maturity in Christ in the new covenant.
And then, as I said, scattered throughout, in at least five parenthetical warnings to the Jewish non-Christian, are the consequences, the damning consequences, of rejecting the preeminence of Christ and the new covenant. And fitting the theme of exalting Jesus Christ to the believer and the unbeliever, the opening verses are high and lofty in their exaltation of Christ; and they establish at the very beginning of the epistle His absolute and total preeminence. Jesus Christ, superior to everything and everyone in existence.
Now, we began to study this last week, and we saw, first of all, the preparation for Christ in verse 1. Notice it. “God, who at sundry times and in diverse manners, spoke in time past unto the fathers by the prophets.” Now, if man is going to know anything about God, God has to do the speaking. If there is a God, the only way we will ever know that He is, and who He is, and what He wants, is if He speaks. And so God spoke, and the speaking of God is what we call the Old Testament. And He spoke in many ways, in many forms, and many patterns, at many different times, but it was always God speaking.
Whether through the prophet or the priest, whether through the learned man or the unlearned man, whether through vision, parable, direct from heaven, or indirectly through the mind of man, it was always God speaking, so that the Old Testament is the voice of God in fact. Now, the Old Testament was God’s message to men, announcing the coming of His Son. So really, the whole Old Testament is preparation for Christ, and thus we say verse 1 is the preparation for Christ, and we went into that in detail last week.
Then secondly, we begin to see the presentation of Christ in verse 2, just the beginning. “Hath in these last days” - that is, God hath – “spoken unto us by His Son.” The preparation of Christ was the Old Testament. The presentation of Christ was the New Testament. In the Old Testament, God spoke in many ways, in many forms, through many different individuals. In the New Testament, God speaks through His Son, and all of the writers of the New Testament are commentators on, or historians on, His Son, for Jesus Christ becomes the theme of the New Testament.
And either the man is writing, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the history of the life of Christ, or he is recording for us principals laid down by the person of Jesus Christ, so that the New Testament is, in fact, the revelation of Christ, or the presentation of Christ. The Old Testament, as we saw last week, was fragmentary, and no one prophet had the whole truth. But when Jesus came, He was truth incarnate. He was not a fragmentary revelation, He was God fully revealed, fully made manifest. So then, there are two stages of divine revelation outlined for us in those opening statements, the Old Testament and the New Testament.
Now, watch this one. Divine revelation, then, going from the Old Testament to the New Testament, is progressive revelation. Now, I used that term last week, but I want to define it a little further. Progressive revelation was from promise to fulfillment. The Old Testament is promise; the New Testament is fulfillment. Jesus Christ came, and in fact said, “I am not come to destroy the law” - that is the Old Testament - “but to do” – what? - “to fulfill it.” And so, the revelation progresses from the promise to the fulfillment.
In fact, the Old Testament clearly indicates that men of faith who were writing the Old Testament were trusting in a promise that they hadn’t yet understood. They were trusting in a promise that was yet to come for everything. Let me give you a couple of illustrations. In the 11th chapter of Hebrews, for example, verse 39 - and here it’s speaking about all these heroes of faith in the 11th chapter, all the great saints of the Old Testament.
And it says in verse 39, great as they were, “And these all, having received witness through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.” In other words, they never saw the fulfillment of the promise; they received it not. They merely laid down what was going to happen without seeing it fully realized. For example, again, in 1 Peter 1:10, Peter says, the Old Testament prophets looked at what they wrote and didn’t even understand it.
Beginning in verse 10 of 1 Peter 1: “Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: Searching what” - person should be fitted in there - “or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ who was in them did signify, when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel.”
In the Old Testament, they were writing it down in the terms of promise unfulfilled, and then they were reading what they wrote to try to figure out what it meant. Now, that’s the essence of divine inspiration; they didn’t even understand the fulfillment of what they wrote. So, the Old Testament progressive revelation begins in promise, and the New Testament ends in fulfillment, as God speaks in His Son. And if you want to hear what God has to say, my friend, you listen to Jesus Christ, and nobody else. There are no other religions that give to us the word of God.
“There is no salvation in any other than Jesus Christ,” said Peter. “God hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son.” Now, that is to say that God has spoken finally and exclusively in Jesus Christ. You say, “What about the people who are all kinds of religions?” If they do not hear what God says in the person of Jesus Christ, then they do not hear God at all. Now, the Old Testament tells us at least two places - Jeremiah 23:18 and 22, and then in Amos 3:7 - that the prophets were let in on the secrets of God, and they wrote these secrets down without understanding them.
But in Jesus Christ they are all understood. He is the fulfillment. He is God’s final word. In 2 Corinthians 1:20, it says this: “For all the promises of God in Him are yes, and in Him, Amen” - let it be – “unto the glory of God by us.” In other words, every promise resolves itself in Christ. All the promises become yes, yea, stamped, and in Him, they are all fulfilled. And so, Jesus Christ, then, is the final revelation. Now, notice what it says in Hebrews 1; it says, “Hath in these last days” – what last days? In the last days of promise, in the days of fulfillment.
The day of the fulfillment of all promises is the last days. In the Old Testament, the Jew always saw the last days as the time when all the promises were fulfilled. They saw the last days as the time when Messiah came, the kingdom came, salvation came, Israel was not under bondage any more. The last days was the time when the promises stopped and the fulfillments began. And in fact, that’s exactly what Jesus came to do. He came to fulfill the promises. And even though the promise of the kingdom is yet postponed, the age of fulfillment began when Jesus arrived.
And it won’t finally be completed until we enter into the eternal heavens, will it? But the Old Testament age of promise ended when Jesus arrived. And so, we see that Jesus Christ is no mere man. He is the revelation of God ended, climaxed. God fully expressed Himself in Christ, in total truth. Now, that makes Christ something very special. That makes Christ something more than just a human, however glorified people would like to make of Him. That makes Christ something infinitely superior to any other created being. For He is God manifest in the flesh, the final and last revelation of God, in whom all God’s promises are fulfilled.
And that introduces us to the middle of verse 2, to the theme: the preeminence of Christ. We saw the preparation for Christ, the presentation of Christ, and here, the preeminence of Christ, the end of verse 2 and verse 3. Now, in this brief but potent section, the Holy Spirit exalts Christ as the full and final revealed expression of God; more exalted, more excellent, and superior to anyone or anything. And in these verses, He tells us that Christ is the end of all things, that He is the beginning of all things, and that He is the middle of all things.
Now, the question is always brought up about who Jesus Christ is, and some people will say He’s a good teacher, and other people will say He’s a religious fanatic, and somebody else would say He’s a fake, and somebody would say He’s a criminal, and somebody would say He was a phantom. Somebody else would say He was a political revolutionary. Others might say that He was the highest form of human life, that He had the spark of divinity and He fanned it, and all of us have it, be we don’t fan it, and He just fanned it and got a little higher than we.
You got a lot of explanations about who Jesus is, but I want you to hear what God says about who He is. And here God gives His answer, in a seven-fold presentation of Christ. In just half of verse 2 and verse 3, you will meet the seven excellencies of Jesus Christ; the seven excellencies of the person of Christ. And they are fantastic, and this sets Him above and beyond anyone else. First of all, His heirship - and I don’t mean by that a blimp. I mean, H - just thought of that - I mean, H-E-I-R-ship, as a son or an heir; His heirship, verse 2.
“Hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son” - now He begins the seven excellencies - “whom He hath appointed heir of all things” – stop there. The first thing we learn about Jesus Christ is that He is the heir of all things. Colossians 1:16 says, “All things were made by Him, and” – what? – “for Him.” If Jesus is the Son of God, then He is the heir of all that God possesses, and everything that is finds its final meaning when it comes into the control of Jesus Christ. Way back in the Psalms, the fact that Jesus Christ would be the heir to all that God possesses is indicated.
Psalm 2:6, God speaking: “Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.” That is Christ. “I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, ‘Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten Thee.’” And that’s a reference to His resurrection. “‘Ask of me, and I shall give Thee the nations for Thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; Thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.’”
The Psalmist, way back in the Old Testament, then, indicates that God would have a Son who would become the heir of all that God possesses, and that Son is Jesus Christ. In Psalm 89:27, it says, “Also I will make Him my firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth.” And by firstborn, He does not mean that Jesus Christ once upon a time didn’t exist. The firstborn is the right to the inheritance. It’s not necessarily a chronological term at all; it’s a term of legal right. And so, He is saying, “Christ will be my heir.” God’s destined kingdom, then, will belong to Jesus Christ.
Everything that ever was made was made by Christ, and for Him. Another verse comes to my mind, Romans 11:36. “For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things: to Whom be glory for ever. Amen.” So, everything that exists, exists for Jesus Christ, to become His. He is the heir of all things, and to be lifted to that kind of plane speaks of His equality with God. To imagine that a Galilean carpenter - crucified naked and bleeding like a common criminal on a cross outside the city of Jerusalem - to imagine that that same individual is the King of kings and Lord of lords is beyond the natural understanding.
Turn in your Bible for a minute to Revelation, chapter 5, and let me prove it to you. To even fathom that a human being such as Jesus could be the heir of all that there is, and King of kings and Lord of lords for eternity, just doesn’t fit into the human brain apart from divine revelation. Now, in – and I’ve got to give you a little bit of background here. In Revelation, chapter 5, God is sitting on a throne, and in His hand He has a scroll, and that scroll is the title deed to the earth, and all that is in it. And that scroll, or that title deed, is for the heir, the One who has the right to take the earth.
And with that in mind, we look at verse 1. “And I saw in the right hand of Him that sat on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals.” It was a law that when you wrote a will in Roman times, you had to seal it seven times. As you rolled it up, you sealed it, and then you rolled it and sealed again, rolled it and sealed again, you kept on doing that, so nobody could break it open and tamper with it. And so, the seal is there. This is a will. This is the inheritance.
And John says, in verse 2, “I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, ‘Who is worthy to open the scroll, and to loose its seals?’” In other words, who is the rightful heir to the earth? Who has the right to move in and possess the earth? Verse 3. “And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the scroll, neither to look on it.” And John says, in verse 4, “And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and read the book, neither to look on it.
“And one of the elders saith unto me, ‘Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the scroll, and to loose its seven seals.’” Who is that? That’s Christ. “And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures” – those are angels – “in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God” - or the seven-fold manifestation of the Spirit – “sent forth unto all the earth. And He came and took the scroll out of the right hand of Him that sat on the throne.”
Why? Because He had a right to take it; He is the heir to the earth. And so, in Revelation, chapter 5, we see by prophecy, in the vision of John, that Jesus Christ will someday come, take the scroll out of the Father’s hand, and inherit the earth. Then in chapter 6 begins the tribulation, which is the record of Christ taking back the earth which is rightfully His, and one by one, He unrolls the seals, and you have the seven seals of Revelation being opened up. And in each of the seven, Christ is possessing and controlling His inheritance.
And finally, in Revelation, chapter 11, verse 15, we read this: “And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying” – this is the seventh seal is opened – “‘The kingdom of this world is become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever.’” The climax, when He unrolls that seventh, and the seven trumpets blow, the earth is His. Now, Jesus Christ, then, is the rightful heir to all that God has. You say, “How rich is Jesus?” He’s the heir of everything. Look at verse 2 again: “Hath appointed heir of all things.”
You can’t minimize that. The Bible says that when He came to earth, He became poor for our sakes, that we, through His poverty, might be made rich. But when He came to earth, He was poor; He had nothing for himself. He had not where to lay His head. Even His clothes were taken from Him. He was buried in a grave that didn’t belong to Him. On earth, He was poor for our sakes. But He is some day to inherit all things, and according to Philippians, chapter 2, all of those existing in the universe, whatever they be, when asked, “Who is King?” will say, “It is Jesus, Son of God, Son of Mary.”
And so, the Holy Spirit says to the Hebrews, “This Jesus - this Jesus is the heir of all things,” establishing His first glorious preeminence. In Acts 2:36, Peter said much the same thing, when he said to the Jews, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, Whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.” It’s the same Jesus. This carpenter from Galilee who died nailed to a cross is, in fact, the King of kings and Lord of lords. He will rule the world.
Even Satan knew that, because when he tempted Him in the devastation, or the wilderness, he tempted Him to take the world the wrong way, by bowing down to Satan. And so, Jesus is the heir of His inheritance, secured by God’s promise. And it’s a kind of fantastic thing to realize that you and I, according to Romans 8:16 and 17, shall be joint heirs with Christ. That when we enter into His eternal kingdom, we will jointly possess all that He possesses. Now, it never says we’ll be joint Christs, or joint Lords, but we will be joint heirs. It’ll be ours as well.
And amazing as it seems, even though this Jesus Christ is the heir of all that God possesses, some still refuse Him. Some still reject Him. Some rejected the Old Testament. Some still reject the Old Testament. God speaks in the New Testament in his Son, and they continue to reject. In Matthew 21:33, the tragic parable reads like this. “Jesus said, ‘Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, who planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and dug a wine press in it, and built a tower, and leased it to a tenant farmer, and went into a far country.
“‘And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the farmers, that they might receive the fruits of it. And the farmers took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did the same unto them. But last of all, he sent unto them his son, saying, ‘They will reverence my son.’ But when the farmers saw the son, they said among themselves, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance.’ And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him.
“‘When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will He do unto those farmers?” Now, I don’t even need to explain that parable. “They say unto Him, ‘He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will lease his vineyard unto other farmers, who shall render him the fruits in their seasons.’” That’s the answer of the people listening. “Jesus saith unto them” – listen to this shot – “‘Did you never read in the Scriptures, “The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes?”
“‘Therefore say I unto you, the kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits of it. And whosoever shall fall on this stone” – that is, Christ – “shall be broken, but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.”’” To willfully reject Jesus Christ, as the world did; to crucify Christ; to kill the Son; brings on the utter damnation and destruction of a vengeful God.
And to Israel, that parable says, since what you had done was so blatant, not only killing all the prophets, but killing the Son, the promise was taken from them and it was given to a new nation, the church, the Gentiles, and they were set aside until the time of their restoration. How tragic it is that even though Jesus Christ is clearly the final revelation of God, and the ultimate King of kings, and Lord of lords, and heir of everything, men constantly reject Him, crucify Him afresh, and put Him to an open shame.
The second excellency of Christ that we see here is His creatorship; His creatorship, also at the end of verse 2. “By whom also He made the worlds.” That is, Christ is the agent through which God created the world; by – dia – means through. The agency through which God created is Christ. John 1:3 says, “All things were made by Him; without Him was not anything made that was made.” Jesus Christ is the agent of creation. Now, my friends, I’ve said this many times, and to me, it’s a great single proof of who Jesus was. Jesus had the ability to create, and that set Him apart from man.
If anyone can create, that’s God; it has to be. You can’t create. As I’ve said before, if you could create, you’d be married to a different woman - a little bit different. Not a lot, just a little different. If you could create, you’d live in a different house, drive a different car, and probably have a different job, if you had any job at all; just sit in your back yard and make money. It’s a good thing God didn’t give depraved men the right to create, isn’t it? To be able to create belongs to God and God alone, and the fact that Jesus creates indicates that He is God.
That establishes His absolute superiority over everything. He created everything material. He created everything spiritual. And man has stained His creation with sin, but Christ made it good originally, and even the creation, according to Romans 8, groans to be restored to what it knew in the beginning. Now, I want you to catch a little thought here, that’s kind of hidden if you don’t understand the Greek. At the end of verse 2, it says, “By whom also He made the worlds.” The common Greek word for world is kosmos, but that is not the word that is here. The word that is here is aiōnas.
It does not mean the material world, it means the ages; it means the ages. And he is not saying that Jesus Christ is only responsible for the physical earth. He is saying that Christ is responsible for creating the very concepts of time, space, force, action, and matter. Christ is responsible for creating the whole universe of time and space; that’s what he’s saying. He does not use the word kosmos, restricting it to this earth, but He makes Christ the creator of the universe, of the ages, of all concepts, and bounds of existence. Christ made it all, every bit of it, without effort.
Sir John Eccles, Nobel laureate in neurophysiology, said - in Chicago, in January 1968, he said that the odds were against the right combination of circumstances occurring to evolve intelligent life on earth. That’s a very bright statement; the odds are against evolution bringing us what we’ve got. He said the odds are about four hundred thousand trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion to one. And that’s probably not half-right. He said it was fantastically improbable. Then he indicated that he believed that such did occur, but it could never occur again, on any planet, or in any other solar system.
Now, you see, that’s the dilemma of science. You see, if you don’t have God making it, then you’ve got real problems. Now, we think we’ve figured it all out; that man sort of slid out of some primeval slime one day, and nobody knows where the slime came from. It just was there. And the wondrous creature of man just evolved – that wondrous creature whose heart beats 800 million times in a normal lifetime, and pumps enough blood to fill a string of tank cars on a railroad track from Boston to New York.
That same man whose tiny cubic half-inch of brain cells contains all the memories of a lifetime. Whose little ear transfers airwaves immediately into fluid, without ever losing any sound - just slid out of some prime evil slime. It was some kind of a cosmic accident. Well, a man may play the fool, and he may be able to live with that kind of idiocy if he never looks beyond his nose. But if that isn’t enough, let him just look up once in a while, and try to determine whether or not the heavens was a cosmic accident.
A. K. Morrison, the brilliant scientist, tells us that conditions for life in the planet earth and the universe demand so many billions of minute involved circumstances, that must appear absolutely simultaneously in the same infinitesimal moment, for any kind of life to appear, that it becomes beyond belief, and beyond possibility. For example, consider the vastness of this universe that just zapped one day from nothing. You could bore a hole in the sun – it’d take a big drill to do it – but you could bore a hole in the sun, and you could pour in 1,200,000 earths, and still have room for 4,300,000 moons, just to lie around the edge.
The diameter of the sun is 385,000 miles, and it’s 93 million miles away, but our nearest star, Alpha Centauri, is five times larger than our sun. Now, the moon is only 211,463 miles away, and you could walk to it, in 27 years. A ray of light travels at 186,000 miles per second, so a beam of light would reach the moon in 1-1/2 seconds. Now, if we could go to that speed, let’s say we’re going to move now through space at the speed of light, 186,000 miles a second – we’re moving. We would reach Mercury in 4-1/2 minutes, because it’s only 50 million miles away.
In 2 minutes, 18 seconds, we’d pass Venus, 26 million miles away. In 4 minutes, 21 seconds, Mars would fly by, because it’s only 34 million miles away. Next, we’d arrive at Jupiter, 367 million miles away. And numbers start to mean nothing at this point. The giant planet with its four moons and two big belts of shiny vapor, and it would take us 35 minutes at the speed of light. Then Saturn is twice as far; that’s 790 million miles, and it would take one hour and 11 seconds. Then Uranus is 1 billion, 608 million miles away, and then Neptune, that little planet on the outside, 3 billion, and then Pluto – I don’t know how to add this figure together.
I think it’s 2 billion, 668 million miles away. And we’ve gotten that far away, we have just made the first step off the front porch, because we haven’t even gotten out of our tiny little infinitesimal solar system, which moves in a multi-million-mile orbit through endless space. And the nearest star is ten times further than the boundaries of our solar system, 20 billion miles away. The north star is 400 billion, but that isn’t very far. Star called Betelgeuse is 800 – that’s right, only it’s not spelled like you think – it’s 880 quadrillion miles, and has a diameter of 200 million miles.
And the diameter of that star is greater than the earth’s orbit. Now, you say, “Where did it come from?” Well, it just poofed. Who conceived of it? Who made this? It can’t be an accident; that ranks as one of the most inept, stupid conclusions ever to come from the lips of anybody. Somebody made it, and my Bible tells me it was Jesus Christ who made it. He can create a marvel of marvels even beyond that. He can move into your life in a creative act. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “If any man be in Christ, he is a” – what? – “new creation.” And so we see his creation, his creatorship.
Thirdly, His brightness, in verse 3. “Who” – again referring to Christ – “being the brightness of His glory” – the brightness of the glory of God. Now, brightness – apaugasma, which is, means to send forth light – refers to Jesus as the manifestation of God. He expresses God to us. He is the brightness of God’s glory. No one can really see God at any time. None of us ever will. The only radiance that reaches us from God is mediated to us through Jesus Christ.
Just as the rays of the sun reach the earth, and light the earth, and warm the earth, and give life and growth to the earth, so Jesus Christ is the glorious light of God, shining into the hearts of men. And just to carry it in a theological context, as you well know, the brightness of the sun is the same nature as the sun. It is as old as the sun. Never was the sun without its brightness, and the brightness cannot be separated from the sun; and so it is with Christ. Christ is of the same nature as God. He is as old as God, and that is endlessly old.
Never was God without Him, or He without God, and never, or in any way, can He be separated from God. And yet, the brightness of the sun is not the sun, and neither is Jesus, God, in that sense. In one sense He is; in another sense, He’s a distinct person. So, Jesus Christ, then, is the brightness of God’s essence manifested to man. We would never know what God was like if we didn’t have Jesus to look at. In John, chapter 8, verse 12, Jesus arrived at the temple at the crucial time, and stood up and said, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”
Jesus Christ is the brightness of God’s glory, and He can transmit that light into your life, and my life, so that we literally radiate the glory of God. It’s a dark world we live in. There’s the darkness of injustice; the darkness of failure, of privation; the darkness of separation, disease, and death. And there’s a darkness that is a moral darkness, as men are blinded by their appetites, and their godless passions. It’s into this dark world that God sent His beams, like the sun sends its rays, and the beams of God are Jesus Christ. Listen to it in Malachi 4:2.
Malachi said, “The Sun of righteousness shall arise with healing in His beams.” God, who is that Sun of righteousness, sent to us the beams; the beams are Jesus Christ. Without the Son of God, Jesus Christ, the light is out in a man’s heart. If you do not know Jesus Christ in a personal way, it is darkness in your life. In 2 Corinthians, chapter 4, the apostle Paul tells us, in verse 6, the problem of man. “For God, Who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shone in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
Now, that’s what happens when God comes into your life: He lightens you up, and you understand God’s glory; you see it, and you behold it. The problem is in verse 4. Those that are lost, “in whom the god of this age hath blinded the minds of them who believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” God sent His rays in the person of Jesus Christ, beaming them down to man’s world, that man might behold His light and His glory, and that man might know that light and literally radiate that light as well.
But Satan has moved through this world to blind the minds of men, to prevent the light of the glorious gospel shining on them. I say to you tonight what the songwriter said: “Come to the light, ’tis shining for thee/Sweetly the light has dawned upon me.” What a tremendous thing it is to realize that Jesus Christ, who is the full expression of God in human history, can come into my life and give me light in the darkness of this world. Light to know God, to understand God, to know life, to know purpose, to know meaning, to know happiness, peace, joy, fellowship, everything - and for all eternity.
Then His next excellent glory - and we hurry - number four, His being, in verse 3. “Who being the brightness of His glory, and” - here’s His being, or His nature, if you will - “the express image of His person.” Whose person? God’s person. Jesus Christ is the express image of God’s person. Now, the former glory was the sun’s rays. This is the sun itself. Christ was not only God manifest, He was God in substance. Now, we’re getting into theology here. Jesus Christ was not only God manifest, and distinctly a person on His own, He was also God in substance. He was of the same substance as God, and I’ll show you what I mean.
The term express image really is a Greek word character, and it has to do - it’s a word that is used in classical Greek to indicate a dye or a stamp, or the mark made by a seal; an engraving, for example. And what it means here is that Jesus Christ is the exact reproduction of God. When the dye goes down, you have an exact imprint. Jesus Christ is substantially God, reproduced. Now, notice that it says in verse 3 “the express image of His person,” and the word person means substance or essence. Christ is the perfect essence of God. He is the personal imprint of God in time and space.
In Colossians 1:15, to give you a comparative on it, it says Christ is “the image of the invisible God,” and the word image there is eikōn, from which we get icons, which are names of idols. Eikōn means a precise copy, a reproduction or an exact image. So then - or a portrait, even. To call Christ the eikōnion of God means He is the exact reproduction of God. And for example, in Colossians 1:19, it tells us that in Christ, really, all of God is visible because it says in verse 19, “For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell.” And in 2:9, it says “For in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.”
So, Christ was not only God manifest, He was God in essence. And I realize that’s difficult to understand; I don’t understand it, I just tell you what it says. I just know He was God, and yet He was distinct in His own person, as God manifest. And a shocking thing it is to realize that even though God manifest Himself in Jesus Christ, that Christ was the substance of God, He was in fact God, and He had claimed, in fact, to be God, men continue to refuse Him. They continue to reject Him, to remain blind, never knowing God, being separated from God and all that is good and gracious, forever. And so, Jesus Christ not only is the glory of God revealed, He is God in essence and nature.
Now, you’ll notice, also in verse 3, the fifth of His excellent glories, His administration: “upholding all things by the word of His power.” Now, this duty of Jesus Christ is very, very fascinating. He not only made things, He not only will someday inherit all things, but He holds them all together in the meantime. The world upholding means supporting, maintaining, and it’s in a present tense, continuous action. Everything in the universe, my friends, is sustained, right now, by Jesus Christ.
And you know, it’s interesting, because we base our entire life upon the continuance or the constancy of laws, don’t we? When something comes along like an earthquake, and just shifts things a little bit, that’s a panicky situation. Can you imagine what would happen if Jesus Christ relinquished His sustaining power to the laws of the earth and the universe, and everything lost its orbit, and everything became violated? We would go out of existence. If He just stopped holding the law of gravity where it was, we’d have problems.
Things don’t happen in our universe by accident. They didn’t happen that way to begin with, they aren’t going to happen that way to end with, and they’re not happening that way in the middle. Jesus Christ is sustaining the universe. He is the principle of cohesion. He’s not like the deists said. He’s not a watchmaker who makes the watch, sells it, and never sees it again. The reason the universe is a kosmos instead of a chaos, the reason it’s an ordered and reliable unit, instead of an erratic and unpredictable muddle, is because Jesus Christ upholds it.
And scientists who think they’re discovering great and fantastic truths are doing nothing but discovering the sustaining laws that Jesus Christ uses to control the world, whenever they discover scientific principle. No scientist or mathematician, no astronomer or nuclear physicist, could do anything without the upholding power of Jesus Christ. If the laws of science varied, we would have a mess unbelievable. We couldn’t exist. That which you eat could turn to poison. You couldn’t stay on the earth; we’d fall off periodically. We’d get drowned by the ocean periodically.
Tremendous things would happen. The whole universe hangs on the arm of Jesus. His unsearchable wisdom and boundless power are manifested in governing the universe, and He does it by the word of His power, without effort. The key to the creation in Genesis, two words: “God said.” All the way through Genesis, God said, and it did, and it happened. Consider, for example, if the earth’s rotation slowed down just a little bit; we would alternately freeze and burn. The sun has a surface temperature of 12,000 degrees Fahrenheit. If it were any closer or further, we would ultimately freeze or burn.
Our globe is tilted at an exact angle of 23 degrees, which enables us to have four seasons. If it weren’t tilted like that, vapors from the ocean would move north and south, and pile up monstrous continents of ice. If the moon did not remain its exact distance from the earth, the ocean tide would inundate the land completely, twice a day - and after the first one, we wouldn’t care about the second. If the ocean floor was merely slipping to a few feet deeper than it is, carbon dioxide and the oxygen in the earth’s atmosphere would be completely absorbed, and no vegetable life could exist on earth.
If the atmosphere did not remain constant, but thinned out, and did not remain its same constancy, many of the meteors which now are harmlessly burned up when they hit our atmosphere would constantly bombard us, and we’d all have to live underground. Now, who holds everything in this kind of a fantastic, delicate balance? I’ll tell you who: Jesus Christ, who monitors and sustains the movements and the developments of the universe. Christ, the preeminent power, sustains it all.
I’ll tell you something, when I think about His power to uphold, that transmits itself right to my life, because I read in Philippians 1:6 the tremendous promise “that He which hath begun a good work in you shall perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” When Christ begins a work in your heart, He doesn’t just begin it and ends it, He hangs onto it all the way through the middle. That’s why Jude got so excited, indoubtedly, when He read - when He said this – listen: “Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy” - who is it? - To the only wise God our Savior.”
Jesus Christ can take your life when you give it to Him, and He can take you at the end of your life and be sure that you’re in God’s presence, because all the way along He sustains your life in Christ. He upholds you. And a life not sustained by Christ is chaos. The sixth excellent glory: His sacrifice. Verse 3 - I love this - “when He had by Himself purged our sins” - what a tremendous statement that is. All alone, by Himself, He purged our sins. Now, the Bible says, “The wages of sin is” – what? - “death.”
Jesus Christ, then, went to the cross, died our death, and consequently took care of the penalty, which frees us. If we’ll accept his death and believe that He died for us, it frees us from the penalty of sin. And He did it by Himself. And my friends, it was a wondrous work when He created the world. It’s a wondrous work when He sustains the world. But a greater work than making the world and upholding the world is the work of purging the sins of men. In Hebrews 7, verse 27, it says this: “Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for His own sins, and then for the people’s; for this He did once, when He offered up Himself.”
Remember, I told you that in the Old Testament, the priests had to make sacrifice, after sacrifice, after sacrifice, after sacrifice? Jesus made one, did it one time. He was not only the priest, He was also the sacrifice, and in that, He purified our sins. Something that all the Old Testament sacrifices could not do. Hebrews 9, verse 12 - I love this - “Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood He enter in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.
“For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” Verse 26, “but now once in the end of the ages hath He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.” Jesus Christ dealt with the sin problem. It had to be done. God couldn’t communicate with us. We couldn’t enter into fellowship with God unless sin was dealt with.
And so, Christ went to the cross, bore the penalty of sin; for all who accept His sacrifice, believe in Him, and receive Him, sin is purged, wiped out. It’s a tremendous thing that He says here. Because, you see, He’s writing to Jewish people, to whom the cross was a stumbling block. And He doesn’t apologize for the cross, He makes it one of the seven excellent glories of Christ. With Jesus Christ’s blood, He bought us. In 1 Peter 1:18 it says, “Forasmuch as you know that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver and gold, from your vain manner of life received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a Lamb without blemish and without spot.”
A man whose sins are forgiven has them forgiven because of Jesus Christ. John - 1 John 1:7, John said, “We have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from” - what? - “all sin.” Jesus came as the perfect sacrifice. You’re a sinner, so am I; and either we pay for our own sin, or we allow Jesus Christ to pay for it. And God said, “I’m going to send my Son to die and to cleanse sin.” If your desire in your heart is to receive Jesus Christ as Savior, to believe, and to accept His sacrifice, your sins are washed away at that point.
The Bible says, “Without the shedding of blood there is no remission for sins.” And the blood of Jesus Christ will never be applied to you unless you, by faith, receive Christ into your life. So, the basis of salvation is the shed blood of Christ, which purges sin. But you know, there are people who reject Him, and I read you a warning, Hebrews 10:26. “For if we sin willfully” - that is, by rejecting Christ - “after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins.” If you reject Jesus Christ, there is nothing in the universe that can take away your sin.
And you will die in your sin, said Jesus, “and where I go, you can never come.” And so, we see the preeminent Christ: His heirship, His creatorship, His brightness, His being, His administration, and His sacrifice. Lastly, His exaltation - this is tremendous. It says, “when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” - and the Majesty on high is God, and the right hand is the power side. Jesus took His place at the right hand of God. Now, the marvelous part about this statement is that He sat down, because that’s a contradiction of everything the priesthood stood for in the Old Testament.
There were no seats in the sanctuary. The priest’s work was never finished, so he never sat down. He never had any place to sit, because God knew there wouldn’t ever be any time to sit. Sacrifice, sacrifice, sacrifice, sacrifice, over and over and over again. His work was never done. Daily, day in, day out, the priest continually offered sacrifices; never sat down. But Jesus went in, offered one sacrifice, got all done, said “It is finished,” went to the Father, and sat down. It was done. And what accomplished - what couldn’t be accomplished in all the Old Testament sacrifices was accomplished once by Jesus Christ for all time.
You say, “Well, what does it mean that He went up and sat down?” It means He was exalted. There are at least four things - I’ll just present them to you; I’m not going to take the time to go into detail. He sat down, number one, as a sign of honor. To be seated at the right hand of the Father is honor indeed, isn’t it? He sat down, secondly, as a sign of rule. 1 Peter 3 - well, honor would be Philippians 2:11. Rule would be 1 Peter 3:22. “Who has gone into heaven, is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto Him.” That’s rule; He sat down as a ruler.
Thirdly, He sat down to rest; Hebrews 10:12-13, he sat down to rest. His work was done. Hebrews 10:12: “But this man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God.” Fourthly, He sat down to intercede for us. Romans 8:34, He is seated at the right hand of the Father, making intercession for us. Now, there you have God’s portrait of Jesus Christ. You’ve seen the preeminent Christ in all His offices. You’ve seen Him as prophet, the final spokesman for God. You’ve seen Him as priest, atoning and interceding.
You’ve seen Him as King, controlling, sustaining, and seated on the throne. This is our Lord, Jesus Christ. And the man who comes along and says that Jesus Christ is anything less than this is a fool, for God says that He is preeminent in all things. You say, “Now, what does this mean to me?” It means everything to you, for to receive Jesus Christ is to enter into all that He is and has, and to reject Him is to be shut out from His presence into an eternal Hell, and there are no other choices. Our Father, we thank You again tonight for the clarity of the word of God on this subject.
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