The Ongoing Gifts of Salvation

  • Text: Hebrews 2:10-13
  • Series: Christ in the New Covenant, Pt. 5
  • Date: Sunday, May 27, 2018 – AM
  • Venue: Trinity Baptist Church – Seminole, Oklahoma
  • Speaker: Jared Byrns
  • Audio: mp3

One Christmas, my mother-in-law put a little jar of pickles in my stocking. Before you think she’s crazy, I have to tell you that that’s actually a perfect gift for me. A few months later, she asked Charla how I had liked the pickles, and she was a little bit hurt to find out that I hadn’t opened them yet. Charla told her, ‘You don’t understand my husband.’ If I receive an edible gift like that that I’m really excited about, I don’t just open it willy-nilly and dive in. I save it for just the right time and savor it because it was a one-time gift. I may never get anything else, so I have to make it count, or at least that’s how my brain works.

The book of Hebrews tells us about salvation, which is the gift of God. But unlike the pickles, bison jerky, or Cow Tails in my stocking last Christmas, salvation is not just a gift we receive and use one time and then there’s nothing else. Of course, there is one moment when we first receive the gift of salvation. At that moment when we repent, trust Christ, and ask God’s forgiveness, He gives us the gift of salvation right there. Our sins are forgiven, and we receive eternal life—right there. But, as incredible as that is—and I never want to minimize the importance of that moment of conversion—there’s so much more to salvation beyond that one moment. Because of salvation, there are blessings that we receive every day of our walk with Jesus Christ, and we can never run out of them.

Turn with me to Hebrews chapter 2, this morning. We’re going to look at verses 10-13 at a few of the inexhaustible gifts that we receive in salvation.

For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee. And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me.

We need to start with verse 10, where we finished last week because it sets the table for the next few verses. It says, “For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” Now, this is, first of all, a reminder to us that we were created by God and for His glory. And one of the things that glorifies Him is this transformation that He works in us.

This work of “bringing many sons unto glory,” as it says in verse 10, is something that only God could do, because we’re not the sons of God by default. We’re like the prodigal son that Jesus talked about in Luke 15:11-24—humanity has rejected the Father, and we have squandered His gifts on every sort of wickedness imaginable. We’ve treated the Father with utter contempt. Instead of sons, we’ve acted like rebels and outlaws, and like the prodigal son, we’re not even worthy of being servants in the Father’s house.

But do you know what He does? Our Heavenly Father acts just like the father in the story of the prodigal son. When we come to Him, repentant, realizing that we are entirely wrong in our rebellion and seeking forgiveness, He welcomes us as His children.

Remember, you and I don’t even deserve to be His servants, but He says, ‘Come be my children instead!’ And then, again like the prodigal son, He cleans us up from the pig pen of sin where we’ve been living, puts a robe on our backs, shoes on our feet, and rings on our hands, and welcomes us to His family with a celebration—because those who were dead He has now made alive.

God brings “many sons unto glory.” He takes underserving sinners, calls us His children, and welcomes us into the glorious light of salvation. When He transforms you by His grace into a son or daughter of God, you can’t help but give Him glory.

This is probably a good point to mention the gender references in the text. English defaults to masculine pronouns when it’s not talking about someone in particular. That’s what’s happening here. So, when this text talks about human beings as sons and brothers, it doesn’t exclude women from the blessings of salvation. These are general statements, and there are daughters and sisters in the family of God. God created men and women to be different—in fact, He created each individual to be different—but, praise God, there’s level ground at the foot of the cross.

Throughout this message, we’re going to see the ongoing gifts of God in salvation under the new covenant, but verse 10 is concerned with how salvation came to be offered. One thing I’ve failed to mention over the last couple of weeks as I’ve covered verse 10 is what this verse would have meant to the original audience of Hebrews. We need to tie this verse into the whole discussion of the new covenant.

Verse 10 says that the way the Father was able to bring all these sons to glory was “to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” The writer of Hebrews was telling his readers again that Jesus is the Father’s plan for redemption. It had nothing to do with how religious they were or how well they followed the Law. Jesus completed the work of their salvation by dying for their sins on the cross. These people who were flirting with the idea of going back to the old covenant needed a reality check that they could not be saved apart from Jesus.

If you look at the Gospels, you’ll see two religious figures who were brought up repeatedly by the Jews: Abraham and Moses. All through John chapter 8, Jesus tried to get the Pharisees to understand that their sin had separated them from God. This was inconceivable to them because they believed they were going to make it into Heaven on Abraham’s coattails. After all, they were his descendants so they would inherit the promises that God had made to him. Also, Jesus had numerous discussions with the Jews about the Law of Moses. They believed—especially the Pharisees—that they were totally righteous and justified before God as long as they outwardly obeyed the Law that Moses had delivered to them.

This is the mindset that the original readers of Hebrews were trapped in. Under the old covenant, people misunderstood the role of both Abraham and Moses. Abraham’s life demonstrated that we are justified by our faith, not our connections. Genesis 15:6 says, Abraham “believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.”

The Law that Moses presented to Israel demonstrated that we are all sinners. Romans 3:20 says, “By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight.” And Galatians 3:24 says the Law was merely a “schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ.”

All of this points to our need for Jesus Christ, but people thought they could be saved because of they were descendants of Abraham and followers of Moses. So the writer of Hebrews metaphorically grabbed them by the collar, pulled them in closer, and begged them to understand: Abraham wasn’t the perfect captain of your salvation, and neither was Moses. Jesus completed the work of salvation.

In a world where so many people think they can find their own path to God, we need to understand the same truth. Jesus completed the work of salvation by dying on the cross to pay for your sins in full. You can’t earn salvation. You can’t pay for it. You can’t deserve it. You can’t work for it. You just have to receive it by faith from Jesus Christ.

But salvation isn’t just about a future in Heaven—although that’s incredible enough. The gifts of God in salvation are something we can experience every day of our lives.

Look at verse 11. It says, “For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren.” Salvation involves sanctification. Not in Heaven, not someday—today! Sanctification is one of those church words that make us sound like we’re speaking a different language, so I want to make sure to define it. It merely means to make something holy. If you look at this word in Greek, there’s the word for holy, ἅγιος, which describes something. Sanctify takes that same Greek word, ἅγιος, and turns it into a verb, ἁγιάζω. It turns the description into an action.

We turn descriptions into actions all the time in English. For example, if you want your cows to be fat, you fatten them. If you want your hair to be short, you shorten it: description becomes action. God wants us to be holy, so He holy-izes us—except in English the word is ‘sanctifies.’ But that’s the kind of relationship those words have in Greek; God is taking a description and making it happen. So, when you see the word sanctification, it just means that God is making us holy.

This verse says that God makes us holy. It’s a good thing that He does because we’re supposed to be holy, but it’s way beyond our human abilities. I Peter 1:16 says, “Be ye holy; for I am holy.” In other words, be holy like God is. That’s a tall order! You can’t do it. The good news is that, if you’re a believer, God is at work making you holy. At the moment you trusted Jesus as your Savior, God declared you holy—in a legal sense; because of what Jesus did, your sins are forgiven, and you are declared not guilty in the court of God’s justice. And from that moment on, through the rest of your life, the Holy Spirit of God will be shaping and molding you to act like it. You can’t change yourself, but He can transform you and make you holy.

That’s what this verse is talking about with sanctification. When it says “they who are sanctified,” it means us. We are the ones being made holy. Today, if you have trusted in Jesus Christ alone for your salvation, the power of God is at work in your life with the intent of making you holy. And who is doing the sanctifying? In this verse, it refers to Jesus Christ.

Now, He sent the Holy Spirit to live within us and carry out the work of making us holy, but it’s because Jesus completed the work of salvation that we are declared holy in the first place. The work of sanctification is by the Holy Spirit, but it’s because of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the sanctifier talked about in verse 11, and we are the ones being sanctified. So, look at this: it says, “For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one.”

It says here that Jesus and those who believe on Him are “all of one.” There has been a lot of speculation over what that phrase might mean—we’re all of one what? But as I look at the next few verses, it’s pretty clear to me that it’s talking about a family. We’re all of one family: the family of God.

We’re not in the family of God because we deserve to be; yet we’re not treated as second-class members of His family either. Romans chapter 8 echoes this in verses 16-17, calling us not only the children of God but also the joint-heirs of Jesus. It says, “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” Even though He’s begotten and we’re adopted, because Jesus made our way into the family of God and purchased our inheritance, the Father looks at us as His children, across the board.

Verse 11 teaches that we’re all of one family—the family of God. Read what it says next: “for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren.” Jesus calls us His brothers. Now, we can easily miss the significance of that, if we’re not careful. We have a tradition of calling every man in church ‘brother,’ whether or not we really know him or have a close relationship. But calling someone a brother in the New Testament is much more than just a form of address. It’s more than a title. This is claiming someone as actual family.

When you start to decipher the word, you realize that the Bible is describing a very close relationship. The Greek word for brother is ἀδελφός. In verses 11 and 12, Jesus calls us his ἀδελφός. But this word breaks down even further. It comes from a combination of the connective word ἀ and the word δελφύς, which means the womb. When I realized that the Greek word for brother indicated a shared womb—because it literally means from the womb—I immediately thought of the bond between twins.

I recently discovered that Amazon Prime has the original series of Unsolved Mysteries, which I loved watching with my parents as a kid. I really only have time now to watch it late at night—which is precisely the wrong time to watch Unsolved Mysteries, if you’re easily creeped out like I am. But not too long ago, they did an episode on the connection between twins, especially identical twins, and how they’re mysteriously connected. Some of them can feel the pain experienced by the other. Some of them know when the other twin is in trouble. One girl claims she knew her sister had been in a car wreck and was able to lead their father to the scene of the crash. There’s an incredible connection that science doesn’t understand. After sharing a womb, many of them now share an incredibly close bond, even when they’re separated by hundreds of miles.

Now, I’m not suggesting that this passage teaches that we’ve become Jesus’ identical twins. What I am saying is that the word brother does indicate a closer bond than what we may imagine. Jesus is not just giving us a title; He’s indicating an intimate, familial relationship.

Speaking of this relationship, verse 11 says, “For which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren.” In one of my previous churches, I found out only after a couple of years that two of the members were related. When I said to one that I didn’t know they were cousins, I was told, “Well, I try to keep it quiet.” Jesus doesn’t feel that way about you. He isn’t ashamed to claim you as His brother.

Let’s move on to verse 12. It says, “I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.” This is a direct quote from Psalm 22:22, which pointed to Jesus. He did declare the Father’s name, which means to make Him known, among His disciples. And in Matthew 26:30, Jesus sang a hymn to the Father at the conclusion of their Passover feast. By referring to this Psalm, the writer of Hebrews was reinforcing the idea of believers being Jesus’ adopted brothers in the family of God.

Let’s move quickly to verse 13. It starts off by saying, “And again, I will put my trust in him.” This is a reference to Psalm 18:2, which says, “The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust.” During Jesus’ earthly ministry, He trusted every day in His Father. Through His example, we too learn to put our trust in the Father. We learn to rely on Him to provide for us, care for us, and defend us, as any father should.

The latter part of verse 13 then says, “And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me.” This is a quote from Isaiah 8:18, and again, it simply illustrates our status as the children of God. Once Jesus reconciles us to the Father, we are secure in the care of Jesus Christ, who said in John 10:28-29, “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.”

After making the role of Jesus in salvation clear earlier in chapter 2, this passage illustrates some of the ongoing gifts that accompany His salvation.

There’s the adoption that features so prominently in this passage. Verse 10 tells us that believers are the sons and daughters of the Father whom He brings to glory. Verses 11 and 12 tell us that Jesus Christ counts us as brothers. Verse 13 tells us again that we’re the children of God, and that we’re committed to the perpetual care of Jesus Christ. When you trust Christ as your Savior, you are adopted into the family of God. You become His. I love the way Romans chapter 8 says it, in verses 15-17. It says, “But ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.”

The Holy Spirit lives in us and bears witness continually of the truth that we have been adopted. God the Father calls us His children. Jesus Christ calls us His brothers. We get to call God ‘Abba,’ meaning Daddy—an intimate term. We’re not mistreated stepchildren in this deal. We are joint-heirs with Jesus, with a full share of the inheritance of the Father’s spiritual blessings. The Father and Son love us, and they claim us. Adoption into the family of God is a gift that we could’ve never deserved. But it is a life-changing reality when you realize that you are now a son or daughter of God. And we cannot help but see the incredible love and compassion of a God Who will take His enemies and make us not merely servants but His children. As a believer, if you have days where you can’t think of something to praise God for—start there. 

There’s another gift that accompanies salvation. Verse 11 reminds us that salvation involves sanctification—where God makes us holy. Through this process, God makes us more and more like Jesus Christ. Again, I like how Romans chapter 8 says it. Romans 8:29 teaches that God’s predestined plan throughout all eternity was to make believers to be more like Jesus. It says, “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.”

You know, we tell each of our children to do their best, because the younger ones coming up behind them will probably follow whatever example they set. That’s natural, so you always hope they set a good example. We, as the brothers of our Lord, have a perfect example to follow. He’s a hard example to follow, but God transforms us and enables us to follow Jesus’ example.

The end result is that the adopted children of God should grow to be more like His only begotten Son. The Bible does not conceive of us being saved by Jesus Christ only to remain unchanged. God loves us just as we are, but loves us too much to leave us that way. At times the progress may be slow, and the work will never be completely finished on this side of eternity, but if you’re a believer, God is working to change you, to sanctify you, and to make you more like Jesus. Your job as a believer is to do your best to follow Jesus’ example. Study your Bible to see what He said and did, and seek to be like Him every day. You’ll have plenty of times where you fail, but let sanctification do its work. Instead of giving up, pray for God to work on those areas where you fail, and you just keep trying to follow Jesus in His power.

But some of you have never trusted Christ as your Savior. If you haven’t, you need to know that Jesus Christ has made these gifts available to you today. That’s not a sales pitch; it’s just what the Bible teaches. You can be adopted into God’s family, and you can have God transform you into everything He wants you to be. But before you receive the gifts of adoption and sanctification, you need the gift of forgiveness.

If you trust Jesus Christ as the Savior Who died in your place, your slate will be wiped clean before God. Imagine you’ve committed a string of crimes that have earned you the death penalty. There’s no appeal left, and the sentence is coming any day. Now imagine the King’s son volunteers to suffer the death penalty for you. He goes to the prison, and he’s executed for your crimes. Once the sentence has been carried out, the King signs a full pardon for you because of what his son did, and you walk out of prison totally free. That’s how God’s forgiveness works. His Son died for your sins, so you get a full pardon you didn’t earn and start life anew with a clean slate you didn’t deserve. Because we are forgiven, and God chooses to remember our sins no more, we are assured of eternal life in Heaven with Him.

Today, acknowledge that you’ve sinned against God, believe that Jesus died to pay for your sins in full and rose again, and ask God to forgive you. In His Word, He promises He will. As we stand to sing a hymn, you’ll have the opportunity to respond to what you’ve just heard. If you have questions and need to talk to someone about them, you’re welcome to come forward—or you can grab someone nearby, if that’s more comfortable. Any number of people in this room would love to help you understand what Jesus did for you. But right where you are, you can pray, put your trust in Jesus alone as your Savior, ask God’s forgiveness, and be saved.

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The above text is a rush transcript of the message and may contain errors.

© 2018, Jared Byrns. All rights reserved.