How to Grow in Christ from Hebrews

Summary: The writer of Hebrews gives us great examples of how to live for Jesus as His disciples today. What points he made stick out to disciples of Jesus?


In my last post, I finished teaching on the takeaways of Paul’s letters for growing in Christ as His disciple from the letters to Timothy and Titus. In this post, we move on to the General Epistles beginning with Hebrews.

People pay attention to the person who speaks the loudest or has the most controversial things to say. Crowdsourcing truth about God and our growth in Christ is not the best approach. Sometimes the loudest and most controversial people distract us from growth in Jesus. Other times, people who contribute much to our understanding of Christian character development offer only one facet of the discipline.

Paul wrote most of the New Testament letters and many times we look to him and his counsel. But eight authors wrote the New Testament, and we need to look to the General Epistles for more encouragement to grow in Christ from their perspectives. Today, we focus on the writer of Hebrews and what he can add to our discussion about Christian character development as we are being spiritually formed by the Holy Spirit to be more like Jesus.

Hebrews is the only New Testament letter that does not present the author at the beginning. We don’t know who he was, but we will learn much about Christian character development from him. The writer of Hebrews writes to either Jewish Christians new to the faith or those Jews interested in Christianity. He talks about the “better” everything that Jesus brings to the table. Jesus is better than everything these Jews knew and practiced in Judaism. The writer writes to tell them of the greater and better benefits of Christ over the Jewish religion.

Jesus Is Greater

One theme that runs through the book is the fact that Jesus is greater than everything else available to us. We must realize and live the truth of Christ’s supremacy over all creation. The writer of Hebrews starts with Jesus’s supremacy over the angels (Hebrews 1:1-14). If people select worship angels, they settle for lesser beings. We worship Jesus because He is above all creation.

He also describes how Jesus is greater than Moses (Hebrews 3:1-6). Moses was a venerated leader of the Israelites. But he is under Christ. He is the better high priest (Hebrews 4:15-5:10). We confess to Christ because He understands the suffering we have been through (Hebrews 4:16). Jesus’s priesthood is greater than Melchizedek’s. He does not offer sacrifices for Himself, but is the Mediator between us and God. We have so many reasons to worship Him alone.

The writer focuses in on the order and ministry of the Melchizedek, priest of Salem and how Jesus is a greater priest than him. Melchizedek is a curious priest Scripture touches on but doesn’t give much detail to us. He devotes Hebrews 7 to discussing Melchizedek and how Jesus is a greater priest (Hebrews 7:1-28). Jesus is a greater priest than Melchizedek.

Next, the writer enumerates the reasons Jesus is a greater high priest because He offers a greater sacrifice than the animal sacrifices of the old covenant (Hebrews 9:11-28). Jesus’s blood is purer than the blood of animals. His once-four-all sacrifice yields a greater power to save those who trust in Him. He further says Jesus is the Mediator of the greater new covenant. The writer of Hebrews further unpacks Christ’s greater sacrifice (Hebrews 10:1-18). Jesus did for us what we cannot do for ourselves. He died a perfect death once for all for sins. We have Jesus to thank for our entrance into God’s family and the inheritance He has laid up for us.

With vivid imagery, the writer of Hebrews describes vividly an unshakable kingdom Jesus makes available to us (Hebrews 12:18-29). Indeed, we as His disciples are part of that kingdom already. It is a kingdom that cannot be shaken like the earth and the rest of creation. Finally, he once again points to Jesus suffering outside the city as a sacrifice for us (Hebrews 13:11-15). We must be full of gratitude for His sacrifice, so much so that we willingly suffer for Him today.

What does all this mean for the disciple of Jesus? Why is Christ’s supremacy in all these areas so important? When we realize all that Jesus has done for us and all that He is, everything that is under His feet, we should respond in worship. More than that, understanding we are disciples of Jesus, who is greater than anything in all creation, gives us more reason to trust Him and to follow His lead. Nothing can get in His way, and nothing can stand against Him. As Paul said, “If God is for us, who can be against us” (Romans 8:31)?

Warnings against Drifting Away

The writer a couple times throughout the book warns his readers of the possibility of falling away from Christ. We must be aware of this as His disciples. Some teach you cannot follow away from your salvation and leave Christ. But that is not what the writer suggests in Hebrews. Take stock of your walk with Christ regularly so you do not fall prey to apostasy.

He first warns us against drifting away from Christ in Hebrews 2:1-5. We have the privilege of so great a salvation, and if we neglect it, we could fall away from Christ. Falling away is not an immediate decision we make. It happens gradually, like wood drifting in water. Soon, we don’t realize how far away from Christ we have drifted.

He first warns that continuing to be an infant in Christ and not growing in faith is part of falling away (Hebrews 5:11-14). If we are stagnant, we are not advancing. Many Christians do not grow in their faith quickly (Hebrews 6:1-3). We must grow strong and advanced to deeper teaching in God’s Word and applying it to our lives.

Many contest another familiar place he writes about falling away from Christ (Hebrews 6:4-12). Many scholars interpret this passage differently from one another. The writer makes a case for falling away from Jesus (Hebrews 6:4-12). Some suggest the writer makes a hypothetical statement, but the language does not make it seem that way.

We must realize how easy it is to drift away from Christ in small increments. The writer suggests here that we can get to a point where we reject Christ. He gives know-how for someone who gets in this situation. It is a choice we would make to fall away from Christ. With extreme language, he tells us it’s impossible to return to Jesus after we have betrayed and disgraced Him. These harsh words give us a warning to stay close to Jesus and not get close to sin.

God’s Better Promise and Covenant

The writer of Hebrews tells us God’s promise is certain (Hebrews 6:13-20). We don’t need to look for another promise. God gave the promise, and He cannot lie. Not only this, but there’s no one greater than God to promise. The covenant He made through Jesus is a perfect covenant. It is the last covenant He made, and He need not make any more (Hebrews 8:1-13). Since God cannot die, the promise and covenant He gives us are sure and certain. We can completely trust His promises and covenant.

A Greater Temple

Along with God’s better promise and covenant is the new covenant, Hebrews 9:1-10 shows us that Jesus as our great High Priest ministers from a greater Temple in the heavenly realms. The tabernacle and temple God introduced to the Israelites is just a shadow of the beautiful and powerful temple in heaven. All these examples of Jesus as supreme, God’s better promise and covenant, and a greater temple tell us we can be certain about Jesus. We don’t need to consider the possibility of falling away from Him. We must remain faithful to Jesus.

Enter into God’s Rest

In one section of the book, the writer describes how God offered His rest to the Israelites in the wilderness, and they failed to enter (Hebrews 3:7-4:13). There’s not enough space in this blog post to fully explain this incredible offer Jesus gives us today. This will be one topic in my book on God’s presence. It’s a promise that we can stop striving in our abilities and simply trust in Jesus.

More than that, to enter God’s rest is to completely enjoy His presence. We don’t realize what all this entails. We wouldn’t have to worry about anything. We could rely on Jesus for everything. God gave the Israelites Sabbaths every week, but inside our faith they didn’t realize when He provided manna that they didn’t need to take more than they needed for the day. Even whenever a Sabbath came and God provided enough for two days, they still could not understand.

God also gave them the year of Jubilee where He would bless the land and people so they did not need to work for a year. To my knowledge, the Israelites never tried it. Can you imagine God providing all your needs for a full year? He wants you to rest in His presence and let Him take care of your needs so you can focus on Him. How big is your faith?

Full Assurance of Faith

The certainty the writer has already explained to us in Jesus, His promises and covenant, and all the other things he has shown us about the certainty of God point us now toward the end of the book to faith. He describes the full assurance of faith we should have in Jesus because of these things (Hebrews 10:19-30).

But this is just an introduction to faith. In Hebrews 11, the Hall of Faith, he describes faith with a definition and that it is required to please God (Hebrews 11:1, 6). Then he expounds his point about faith by telling the stories of people in the Old Testament who have shown their faith through their walk with God (Hebrews 11:1-40). He challenges us to live by faith as heroes of faith have done. When we live by faith, this world is not our inheritance. We live in search of a greater place with God forever.

Run Your Race

After all these encouragements and warnings, the writer tells us to run our race. He gives the image of a runner in the Olympic Games. The runner plays aside anything that hinders him from running. We must conquer sin and realize the great cloud of witnesses around us (Hebrews 12:1-2).

He keeps encouraging us to not grow weary (Hebrews 12:3-17). No one enjoys discipline. But when we remain disciplined, we see the fruits of that discipline and continue to grow in Jesus. He calls us to lift our heads and strengthen our knees. We need to be peaceful and not allow bitterness to rise in us.

Live out Christian Principles

The writer finishes with rapid fire commands for us to live every day. Keep having brotherly love for other Christians, show hospitality to strangers, minister to people in prison, keep your marriage pure, and avoid the love of money. We must live content in our lives.

God has promised He will never leave us. Because God is always with us, we don’t have to fear anything. We don’t have to yearn for anything and lack contentment. This world can’t give us anything that compares to Jesus and His promises and inheritance for us.

Remember Your Leaders

Twice at the end of the book, the writer tells us about leaders (Hebrews 13:7-9, 17). To remember our leaders is to listen to them, and to obey biblical teaching and practice that they have taught us. They teach us by example. When we look at their life, we know how to live for Jesus in our context.

Jesus is our greatest Example and Leader. He does not change. When we listen to our leaders, we avoid the deceptions by false teachers and people who teach bad theology. Again, the writer tells us to obey our leaders. When we are disobedient to our leaders, we make their job to care for our souls much harder. How do you want your pastor, church leaders, and elders to respond to you? When you come barreling towards them, do they look like they want to be busy or talking to someone else? We should make their work light and joyful.

Growth Challenge

As with Paul’s letters, did the writer of Hebrews minister to, challenge you, or encourage you in your own walk with Christ? Whatever sticks out to you should be a matter of prayer with the Holy Spirit.

Up Next

Now that we have talked about Hebrews and action steps for growing in Christ as His disciples, we moved next to the General Epistles of James and 1 Peter.

Image by J Garget from Pixabay

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