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Author:Rev. Pete Van't Hoff
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Congregation:Bethel United Reformed Church
 Brockville, Ontario
Title:Introducing Jesus Christ
Text:Hebrews 1:1-3 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:God The Son

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Bible Translation: NKJV
Songs: Trinity Psalter Hymnal
Silent Prayer (Respond w/? 134:2 “Come, Bless the LORD with One Accord”)
Call to Worship
Confession of Dependence & God's Greeting
? Hymn 555 "Another Year Is Dawning!"
Reading of God’s Law
? Psalm 119-T "See My Distress and Save Me"
Congregational Prayer
? Psalm 110-B "The LORD Has Spoken to My Lord"
Scripture: Hebrews 1:1-3
Text: Hebrews 1:1-3
Sermon: "Introducing Jesus Christ"
To know my salvation is to know my Saviour, Jesus Christ.
1) The Voice of Creation
2) The Upholder of Creation
3) The Fulfillment of Creation
Prayer of Thanksgiving
? Hymn 280 "Wondrous King, All-Glorious"
? Doxology: Hymn 365 "Thine Be the Glory"
* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Pete Van't Hoff, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ,

On the first day of this week, on the first day of this New Year, 2023, I declare to you, that I don’t know what’s going to happen. There are, of course, some absolutes we can count on. And we shall come to those soon enough, but for the future coming seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks and years, I am unable, for the most part, to tell you what’s coming. This world that we live in is full of unknowns.

There have been many things that have happened to you and me that we just don’t have the answers for. There will be many things coming, that will happen to you and me, that we just cannot resolve. We will strive to control our surroundings, and by the grace of God, some of that will be maintained well. And then the uncontrollable will occur and we will simply be called to react. In this last year, there has been life and there has been death. There has been success and there has been failure. There has been great joy and there has been great sadness. Exhaustion had set in. And good rest has occurred. Somethings have been resolved and other things yet need to come to their proper conclusion.

Day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute even, we have strived and struggled, rejoiced and lamented. On this, our Lord’s Day, and on this first day of the year, I thought it fitting to begin a new book for our morning worship service series preaching because it introduces to us, because it reintroduces to us, because it reminds us of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Dear Brothers and Sisters, no matter what has happened, no matter what yet shall come, the one constant you have in this life, even more than the traditional death and taxes, is your Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

With the book of Hebrews, it is hard to know who wrote it and to whom it had originally been written. It is hard to pinpoint when it was written too. Many have thought on these things and all have concluded with, “well, it could have been…” or “it could have been written in…” or “it could have been written to…”but that’s where it has to stop. The Holy Spirit inspired someone to write this to fellow believers, whose names we don’t know, after Jesus Christ ascended, during those early first years of the Christian Church. And yet, amidst all these unknowns, Jesus Christ and His pre-eminence stand out. The unknowns make this message timeless for us and so, on this first Lord’s Day of the Year, 2023, let us be re-introduced to our Salvation.

To know my salvation is to know my Saviour, Jesus Christ.

1) The Voice of Creation

2) The Upholder of Creation

3) The Fulfillment of Creation

Firstly, Jesus is, the Voice of Creation. The Book of Hebrews opens up to us, with how God speaks to us. Right at Verse 1, the entire Old Testament is summarized. (1) “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets.” We are leaving the Book of Genesis once more, as I endeavor to look into Hebrews with you, these coming Sundays, but in Genesis, we know how the book begins (“In the beginning God…), and with God, it takes little time for Him to begin speaking, to His image bearers in love and in relationship with them.

With Adam, responsibilities are given and consequences of life and death are pronounced. The conversation begun in the Garden of Eden concludes with discipline and pain, dealt out to the man and to the woman but not before the promise of the Seed, who will bruise the serpent’s head (Gen. 3:15). From there, forward, since a fallen humanity no longer may stand before our holy God, He speaks “at various times” (be reminded of the incomplete and ongoing nature of this mode of communication) and “in various ways” (be reminded of God’s speaking to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and others without faith even, in dreams and visions and with dark sayings (Numb. 12:8)).

To some, God speaks directly and then, as Israel becomes a nation, beginning with Moses we see a slow transition and a particular defining of the offices of prophet, priest and king. We see, we have seen aspects of these offices, since Moses and through the judges, even leading through Samuel, to Saul and then David, who as we shall better see this afternoon, through Nathan the prophet, God’s words being spoken, as while yet, the office of priest in Tabernacle-type-worship remains and continues.

It is through these Old Testament types that God speaks, but we have just celebrated the conception and birth of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Through these simple means, the Son of God entered the human race to be for it, the salvation it so dearly needs. The author of Hebrews declares, after summarizing the entire Old Testament in one verse, its fulfillment at Verse 2.

1 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son.

And we could survey the New Testament for the Christ’s conception and birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension. This is why the New Testament opens with the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. What follows are the many writings of the Apostle Paul and of Saint Peter, the nameless author of Hebrews, and John, who concludes the Bible with none other than the Revelation of Jesus Christ.

Note these final sayings, beloved. Everything in the New Testament fulfills the forward pointing hope prophesied of in the Old Testament and is centred fully upon the eternal Son of God, incarnated by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin to live and to die for the sins of His people, that they may live on in eternity, with their Lord, Prophet, Priest and King, Jesus Christ. Verse 2 continues, “whom He [that is God] has appointed heir of all things.”

All hope present in Scripture from Genesis 1:1 to the Revelation of Jesus Christ 22:21 is to reveal God’s Son to us. What a thought, given the amount of, what we have called, Redemptive History, that is covered in God’s word. From Creation forward, to the prophesies that look forward to the Consummation of All Things, I declare to you, as does the author of Hebrews, at Verse 2, that God appointed Jesus Christ, His Son, the Heir of all things.

Finally, for this point, as Consummation is fulfilled in Jesus Christ, note that all things began with Him as well. This is where Verse 2 ends. “[T]hrough whom also He [that is, God] made the worlds.” Is it hard to see Jesus in the Old Testament? Here we confess that when God spoke, let there be light, Jesus was speaking. The beginning of the Gospel of John agrees.

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

15 John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.’ ”

16 And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.

He is this Voice of Creation, that redeems you from your sin with the sent, creative and recreative power of the Holy Spirit, as per His Father’s will.

Being the Voice of Creation, then secondly, Jesus is, the Upholder of Creation as well. From a purely human perspective, it is one thing to create. It is completely something else to maintain. There are many people out there who are exceptionally good at starting something. There are many others out there who are exceptionally good at taking what’s been started and bringing it to its completion. It is a rarity to find both skillsets in the same person. On a personal and experiential note, having floated around different engineering consulting firms and construction businesses, from sales departments to engineering floors, from the designs of consulting firms to actual construction sites, at best, there is always “playful” banter back and forth, in regards to the usefulness of these different areas of expertise, compared to the tasks at hand. Simply put, up-front sales and back-end engineering never got along.

There are no such difficulties in the Trinity. Now when I think of creation being upheld, I think of God’s providence and then, being confessional, I am drawn to Lord’s Day 10 of the Heidelberg Catechism where we ask, “What do you understand by the providence of God?” I find the answer somewhat poetic.

Providence is the almighty and ever present power of God by which God upholds, as with his hand, heaven and earth and all creatures, and so rules them that leaf and blade, rain and drought, fruitful and lean years, food and drink, health and sickness, prosperity and poverty — all things, in fact, come to us not by chance but by his fatherly hand.

Now, this Question and Answer follow Lord’s Day 9 which introduces to us, “God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.” The Apostles’ Creed calls the Father the Creator and providential Sustainer of all of creation and our Heidelberg breaks down the statements of the creed this way.

There is no conflict here, however. The Father did not create and the Son did not re-create and the Holy Spirit did not fill in the gaps along the way. There is not present, in the Trinity, a pantheon of gods at odds with one another, fixing each other’s mistakes. It is heresy to even suggest such things.

In the Trinity, there is perfect union and communion. One God, three Persons. The Father wills. The Son fulfills. The Holy Spirit instills. Be helped in our understanding of this fully-impossible-to-understand-concept by asking a little, three-letter, single-word question: “How?” How did the Father create heaven and earth? And therefore, how are all such things providentially upheld?

We have already called the Christ, the Voice of Creation. We have called Him the Heir of all things. We have declared His presence, even at Creation, speaking all of creation into existence. How does the Father create and sustain? Through the word of His Son.

Verse 3 of our passage gives us three attributes of God: His glory, His person and His power. Let us consider, God’s glory firstly. I take you to Exodus 33, where Moses, who was granted profound privilege before God. No one since Adam, had been brought so close to God’s presence and yet even Moses needed to be protected from it.

18 And he [that is, Moses] said, “Please, show me Your glory.”

19 Then He [that is, God] said, “I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” 20 But He said, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.” 21 And the Lord said, “Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock. 22 So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. 23 Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen.”

And then, of His person, I take you to John 14, where Philip requests the Christ to reveal the Father. Hear Jesus’ response. (John 14:9) ‘Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?”’

And finally by the word of His power, I take you to Colossians 1:15-18 where Paul proclaims the preeminence of the Christ who drew him from his fallen state as well.

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. 18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.

In this we understand that to know the glory, Person and power of God, is to understand and worship the Son of God, Jesus Christ, the Upholder of Creation.

Thirdly, for Jesus is, the Fulfillment of Creation. We have spoken about how the Christ is central to all of creation. We have thought on His presence and His voice present at creation and his power providentially over creation. His greatness to us is too fantastic to fully understand and yet, these are the thoughts we are left with to consider from the opening of the book of Hebrews. For we, finite creatures that we are, the author of the Hebrews, in the last half of Verse 3 allows us to ask “When?”.

Thus far it has been declared to us that God speaks to His people and that in the fullness of time He speaks to us through His Son. His Son is the appointed Heir of all things. An heir, as much as the world and humanity understands, has not yet received the inheritance. Once the inheritance is received, he is no longer the heir, but the master. So, when did the Father’s Heir receive the inheritance.

It is clear from our passage that the Christ was present at Creation but also lives eternally with the Father. How we creatures, who are tethered to time, can fathom timeless eternity, shall be left to the mysteries of God. But it has been the good will of the Father for such an inheritance to be received from actions taken in this Redemptive History.

Verse 3 continues, and dare I say, simply put, and yet there is nothing simple about it, “when He had by Himself purged our sins.” Before we come to the second half of this phrase, we must slow down and think on this. You and I cannot go one year, one month, one day, one hour, one minute without finding ourselves guilty before our holy God. Original sin given to us by our first parents has taken care of that and we only add to that account by our sinning. Even the most pious amongst us suffer from the disease. And here, we read, that He, “by Himself purged our sins.”

It took His life and His death to do so. This last Lord’s Day, we considered part of His young life. In His conception, the Holy Spirit was present and remained with Him throughout His life. In His circumcision and in Joseph and Mary presenting Him at the temple, all the aspects of the law concerning Him were met. At the age of 12, they found Him being about His Father’s business (Luke 2:49). Luke follows this with the fact that “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men,” so much so, that at His baptism, the voice of His Father is heard as the Holy Spirit descends upon Him as a dove and we hear His voice, “You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased” (Luke 3:22).

No sooner in Luke’s gospel, then after Jesus’ baptism, is He spirited into the wilderness where the devil tempts Him with more that you or I could ever handle, and He is triumphant, and the devil leaves for a more opportune time (Luke 4:13). And then His ministry amongst us begins. He calls disciples, simple men, like you and me to His side. For three years, they walk with Him and talk with Him. Unbelief wages a lost war of debate against Him. Many miracles are delivered by Him and witnessed by many. His disciples are taught what it means to live for their Lord. And then He goes on to teach what it means to die for His people. His arrest is unjust. His trial, a mockery, His chastisements, brutal and His death, cursed, for everyone who hangs on a tree is cursed (Deut. 21:23; Gal. 3:13).

And then, having suffered at the feeble hands of fallen humanity, for three dark hours He faces God’s wrath against the sins of the world. Yes, His death was more than sufficient for the sins of the world but effective only towards His people. In His final words and in His final cries, He releases His Spirit, to go and be with the repent thief’s spirit, which is with His Father. It was at that moment, Beloved, in the words, “it is finished!” (John 19:30), that the Christ, the ordained heir of God the Father, became your King.

In the last statement of Verse 3, we capture what follows after your King dies. Three days later, the tomb is found empty. Women are told. Disciples don’t believe. Jesus appears to many. Thomas puts his finger in the hole of His hands and in the cut on His side. And then your King ascends to sit (3) “down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” And our Apostles’ creed declares that “from there He shall come to judge the living and the dead.”

[Point to the world around you] All of this Beloved, all of creation, is not about you, it is about Him. But the joy of the gospel message, as we proclaim it, is that your salvation is founded, fought for and fulfilled in Him.

Of all the mysteries of the universe, and in all that we cannot know for this New Year coming, I would simply have you know your Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. God speaks to us through Him. He is the Heir of all things and the Voice of Creation. All things are upheld, through His word. He has purged your sins and has sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. To know my salvation is to know my Saviour, Jesus Christ. Hear the very last words that Jesus told John to write down and then to close His revelation to us. (Rev. 22:21) “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.”

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Pete Van't Hoff, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
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(c) Copyright 2021, Rev. Pete Van't Hoff

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