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Hebrews 13:20-25- The Final Words Of The Book Of Hebrews

Last week we considered Hebrews 13:20-21, “Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Here the author of Hebrews is giving a benediction and he encourages us that the Father will equip us and He will enable us to be and to do all that is pleasing to Him. This is such a fitting benediction for a couple of reasons.

First, this is a fitting benediction because when we consider the immediate context of Hebrews 13 the author of Hebrews has been teaching us that there are particular ways that we are to offer to the LORD ‘acceptable worship’. (12:28) This has been happening since Hebrews 12:28-29, where we read, “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.

After saying these things the author of Hebrews spends the rest of this letter giving us one exhortation after another. We discussed these different exhortations over the last several months so it may be easy for us to forget what it would have been like for the original audience to hear these things and then respond to them. I know that for me, I often found myself convicted about the exhortations that are given. I also often found myself a bit condemned while I wondered how I was to do these things.

Let’s consider again very briefly some of the exhortations that we have seen in Hebrews 13.

  • We are to let brotherly love continue through our hospitality to strangers as we remember those believers who found themselves in prison due to their faith (1-3).

  • We learned that we are to honor marriage and keep the marriage bed from being defiled (4).

  • We are not to be covetous and remain free from the love of money as we learn to be content with what we have while trusting that the LORD is our helper in all things (4-6).

  • Furthermore, we learned that we are to worship the LORD by remembering our leaders, those who spoke to us the Word of God, and we are to imitate their faith. We are to offer acceptable worship as we obey church leadership, submit to them, and pray for them even as they are to pray for us (7, 17).

  • We have also seen that we are not to be carried away by strange doctrines, but we are to gather with God’s people outside the gate and bear the reproach of Christ for here we have no lasting city (9-14).

  • As we pray we are to examine ourselves to see if we desire to live honorably and obey God in all things (18-19).

The second reason that we should find great encouragement in the words of this benediction is seen when we consider the entire message of this letter which has been one long ‘extended exhortation’. The author of Hebrews says, “I appeal to you, brothers, bear with my word of exhortation…”.

These believers are to bear up under the teaching of scripture and they are not to resist the scriptures when they push against us, reprove us, challenge us, rebuke us, and train us. On the contrary, we are to crave the Word of God (1 Peter 2:2) like pure spiritual milk or like water in a dry and weary land (Psalm 63).

Again, we have spent a long time going slowly through this letter so by way of reminder let’s consider a few of the exhortations that the author of Hebrews has given.

  • Hebrews 2:1-4- We must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from will we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?

  • Hebrews 4:1- While the promise of entering His rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it.

  • Hebrews 3:1- Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus…  

  • Hebrews 3:12- Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

  • Hebrews 4:16- Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

  • Hebrews 4:1- While the promise of entering His rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it.

  • Hebrews 6:1- Let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity…

  • Hebrews 6:12- Do not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

  • Hebrews 10:22 -...let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith...not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

  • Hebrews 10:32- Recall the former days...for you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.

  • Hebrews 12:1-2- ...let us lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us...

  • Hebrews 12:7- It is for discipline that you have to endure.

  • Hebrews 12:12-16- Lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet...See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God...

  • Hebrews 12:25- See that you do not refuse him who is speaking.

In light of all of these exhortations we can appreciate the words found in Hebrews 13:21, “(May God)...Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (KJV)

What does it mean that God can make us perfect?

We know one thing for sure, no one has the ability to ‘make themselves perfect’. This was one of the falsehoods that this congregation was beginning to believe (Hebrews 8-10). Throughout history many people have made wild and fanciful claims about how they can achieve perfection through their philosophies, programs, and the practices that they prescribe. Do not be fooled, only the LORD can make you and I perfect through our union with Jesus Christ, ““(May God)...Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen."

The verb for ‘make perfect’ is in the aorist tense which means that this is a continuing work by God in the life of a believer. We are immediately justified when we repent of our sins and believe upon Christ. However, our sanctification is progressively worked out in faith as we follow Christ’s example in places like Hebrews 5:7, “In the days of His flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to Him who was able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverence.

We need to continually be watchful and prayerful because of what Jesus says in Matthew 26:41, “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” We are to always look to the LORD and depend upon Him for the grace that we need to help us in our weaknesses. This work of God in us is an ongoing work, a tireless work, a faithful work, a persistent work.

Consider how patient the LORD is with us in this work. In 1 Thessalonians 5:14 we read these words, “And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak…” Paul does not stop with those words. No, he continues by saying, “ patient with them all.” If Paul commands us to be patient with other disciples who are idle, fainthearted, or weak, then imagine how patient God is with all of us. The LORD is patiently, persistently, and diligently working in us those things which please Him and bring Him glory.

Let’s look at a few verses that will help you and I understand what this word ‘perfect’ means. First, let’s consider Matthew 4:21 which says, “And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them.

Which word in that verse do you think is the same word that is used in Hebrews 13:21? It is the word

mending’. Therefore, one sense of this word is that God is at work in you and I to mend us so that we are able to do His will. The LORD take something that is broken, worn out, and damaged and He makes it whole, sound and usable by repairing and restoring it. The LORD removes our defects and makes things right.

Next, consider Galatians 6:1 which says, “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.

Which word in this verse do you think is the same word that is in Hebrews 13:21? It is the word ‘restore’. The LORD will restore us by His grace into the person He has created us to be. The LORD is able to restore us so that we can do what He has called us to do.

Notice that in Galatians 6:1 the one who is caught in any transgression is to be restored in a spirit of gentleness. Doesn’t this also convey to us how the LORD restores us, mends us, perfects us? The LORD is patient and He is gentle!

The LORD desires to be gentle among those who need restoration. Interestingly, in Hebrews 13:22 the two words that are used when the author of Hebrews makes his ‘appeal’ and when he gives this ‘exhortation’ carry with it the meaning of comfort, encouragement and consoling. Therefore, even when God exhorts us, which we may think has a bad connotation, is actually a comforting message, a word of encouragement, and a word of consolation.

Next, consider Hebrews 10:5 which says, “Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me.

Which word in this verse do you think is the same word that is in our text? It is the word ‘prepared’. God ‘prepares us’ and gives us the inclination and the willingness to do His will. God not only mends us and restores us, but He also prepares us with everything we will need.

Finally, consider Hebrews 11:3 which says, “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” In this verse it is the word ‘framed’ which also shows up in Hebrews 13:21. God builds, constructs and frames us so that we can do His will. The LORD does this in every area of our life: body, soul, mind and spirit.

As the author of Hebrews comes to the end of this letter he encourages us that God mends us, He restores us, He prepares us, and He frames us, and perfects us so that we are able to do every good work to do His will. He makes us fit, sound, and complete as we ought to be as He does this work in us. And through this work God is pleased and it brings Him glory.

The author of Hebrews says in Hebrews 13:22, “I appeal to you, brothers, bear with my word of exhortation, for I have written to you briefly.

As mentioned earlier, here the author of Hebrews makes an appeal for us to ‘bear’ with this exhortation. The word ‘bear’ means that we are to abide, to continue, to remain, to suffer under the Word of the LORD. When the scriptures push, poke and prod you and I we are to not resist them. When the Word of God confronts us concerning our unbelief, warns us about our faithlessness, reproves us for our sin, or when they make us uncomfortable by examining our hearts and minds we are to bear up under it. We must be willing to ‘suffer under’ these things if we are to be healed, made whole, prepared, and mended.

As we have studied the Book of Hebrews we may have been tempted to say, “This is what I learned…”. However, the author of Hebrews confesses in our text that this letter was written to exhort us to respond to to apply these truths in every area of our lives.

On Wednesday mornings some of us have been learning about Martin Luther. In these lectures Dr. Trueman spoke of Luther’s view of the bible and he said something that made me think of Hebrews 13:22. He said, “The bible either sets people free if they grasp it by faith or it binds them if they meet it with unbelief.” I hope that as we have studied this letter we have been set free as we have responded in faith to this message of exhortation.

Dr. Trueman continues,Hearing the Word of God is an active practice. Often we think of the congregation sitting in the pews and passively listening while the person in the front preaches. However, listening is an active practice done by the congregation because listening is to be by faith. So when the Word is proclaimed the congregation has to actively receive the Word.

Let me give you an illustration of this from Scripture. In Acts 13:15 we find the only other text in Scripture where the phrase ‘word of exhortation’ is seen in scripture. In that passage it is a reference to the preaching of the Word of God to the people.

In this passage we find that ‘After the reading of the Law and the Prophets’ Paul is asked by the leaders of the synagogue if he had a ‘word of exhortation’, or a ‘word of encouragement’, to share (15). Paul, who is ready in season and out of season is prepared to speak to them about how the Old Testament promises have all been fulfilled in Christ Jesus.

We are told that Paul, ‘stood up and motioned with his hand’ and he began to speak to all who were gathered there (16). For the next twenty-five verses Paul preaches a sermon about how there is forgiveness of sins and freedom from all that the Law of Moses cannot free us from only through Jesus Christ.

At one point in this sermon Paul says, “Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by Him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses. Beware, therefore, lest what is said in the Prophets should come about, ‘Look you scoffers, be astounded and perish; for I am doing a work in your days, a work that you will not believe, even if one tells it to you.’

After this sermon, this word of exhortation and encouragement, the people begged Paul that these things would be spoken to them again on the next Sabbath. They wanted to hear again from Him about how all of the Old Testament promises have been fulfilled in Christ Jesus. They were heeding the exhortation and the warning that Paul had given.

Isn’t this a good picture of the response that the author of Hebrews was wanting from this congregation at the end of this letter. He wants them to desire this message so strongly and so passionately that their hearts would be begging that this message would be preached to them again and again.

In Acts 14:43 Paul speaks to all of those who followed him after that sermon and says to them, ‘continue in the grace of God’. (13:43) He tells them to follow the faith of Moses, the prophets, the godly kings of Judah, and any other person who looked to the Law and saw Christ.

Similarly, the author of Hebrews will end this letter with these simple words in Hebrews 13:25, “Grace be with all of you.” Continue to look to Christ. Continue to cling to the Good News. Continue to believe the Gospel. Continue in the grace of God.

Those who heard Paul speak that day and followed him out would need to continue in the grace of God because when Paul returned again to speak to them the following week the Jews became jealous and began to ‘contradict what was spoken by Paul, reviling him.’ (13:45) Even in the face of such opposition Paul and Barnabas spoke boldly the Word of God boldly (46).

Acts 14:45, therefore, gives us a good picture of what it looks like to be someone who will not bear with the message of Christ Jesus that is given. They will disbelieve, be jealous for the things of this world, and take the Word of God thrust it aside (46). In Acts 13:48-52 we see that they not only throw aside the Word of God but they will try to expel the preacher. Paul shook the dust off of his feet and moved on but the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit (51-52).

The author of Hebrews has called this letter an ‘exhortation’ and this particular word that the author of Hebrews uses here comes from the word ‘paraklete’. This word refers to a word that is given to help, to comfort, to encourage.

Think about how we use our words in particular ways to help those around us who are in many difficult circumstances.

  • What words would we use to comfort someone who is mourning and grieving?

  • What words would we use to encourage the fainthearted and weary?

  • What words would we use to admonish the idle?

  • What words would we use to encourage the fainthearted?

  • What words would we use to help the weak?

  • What words would you use to reprove, rebuke, and correct a brother or sister who is in sin?

As we think back upon this letter and all of the various things that have been said in it but every promise, warning and command has been given for our comfort, aid, help, and encouragement. Because of this we will return to this letter often and we will bear with its message. We will hear its words with faith so that we can receive grace to be equipped and enabled to do the LORD’s will for His pleasure and glory. Amen


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