Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Word of Exhortation

And I appeal to you, brethren, bear with the word of exhortation, for I have written to you in few words. Know that our brother Timothy has been set free, with whom I shall see you if he comes shortly. Greet all those who rule over you, and all the saints. Those from Italy greet you. Grace be with you all. Amen. (Hebrews 13:22-25, NKJV).

In Greek, the word here translated exhortation (paraklesis), is the same root word used to refer to the Holy Spirit as Helper in John 14. It's meaning encompasses supplication, entreaty, admonition, encouragement, consolation, and that which affords comfort or refreshment.

This is the essential nature of the entire Word of God.

It is the one source of all those things provided by the Holy Spirit Himself as He inspired holy men of God to record His thoughts, intents, and instructions for all posterity. It is that which shall never pass away. It is that which shall outlast the current material Universe. It is that which saves and transforms and makes alive.

And it is ours for the taking.

What a gift!

Thus it is fitting, as we near the end of this series of devotions on the marvelous Book of Hebrews, to include a brief examination of one of the most tangible gifts from God to men: His Word.

It is His Word that caused Existence to come into being. He spoke and all that ever was or will be leapt into time and space and the spiritual realm.

He spoke and His Word brought forth light and darkness, the heavens and the earth, animals and mankind.

His Word bespoke the curse upon sin and the Promise of redemption.

And it is His Word to which we look for joy beyond measure for in it we find eternal life (John 5).

Yet, sadly, even Christians often neglect the edification and nourishment that comes from feasting on this gift of wisdom and truth. We set aside divine revelation for earthly philosophy and so-called science. We look to human experts rather than to seek first the Kingdom of God in His Word.

It is not that Bible-believing disciples of Christ eschew human wisdom, it is that we measure all such information against the source of wisdom itself. When there is a conflict we align ourselves unapologetically with God's Word.

Otherwise (and this is vitally important), we find ourselves adrift in the turbulent sea of worldly opinion, and the shifting, treacherous sands of fallible and fallen human priorities.

Thus, for example, we spiral downward from the lofty position of the inviolable sanctity of human life, to the evil and barbarous profanity of institutionalized and legalized abortion on demand.

We move from the foundational family of husband and wife to the various and inevitably chaotic alternatives of virtually anything else.

This is not surprising. In fact, this end times apostasy is foretold throughout God's Word, but it is nonetheless tragic. Among other things, it places the gossamer and fragile “wisdom” of man above the revealed will of the Eternal Creator, Himself.

The unmitigated hubris evident in these “modern” trends is astonishing, but it is most decidedly not new.

The long war against God has been ongoing since the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden, and is destined to continue until the return of the King, our Lord Christ.

Such statements as these are ridiculed and marginalized by the intellectual and cultural elites in this life. These are viewed as throwbacks to a more “primitive” age, but such arrogant dismissal is merely symptomatic of the long war itself, and should in no way undermine the believer's faith in God's Word and goodness.

On the contrary, this fulfillment of prophecy - this superior and vindictive attitude toward the things and purposes of God - is incontrovertible proof that His Word is true.

What then are we who base our lives and eternal destiny on the Bible to do?

The answer is in the focus verses above: we are to bear with the word of exhortation.

This means to submit to it by the renewing of the spirit of our minds by the washing of the water of the Word.

We are to esteem it more than our necessary food.

And most importantly, we are to live by it as the truth is in Jesus.

The requirements of a godly life are not complicated, but it does entail the one ingredient that makes all else possible: faith.

And we know that faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.