So far we have been mainly negative in our
approach to the "Letter to the Hebrews," albeit
seriously so, and we shall find it necessary as we go on
to constantly strike the note of what God's mind
concerning His people is not.
In commissioning His servant Jeremiah the
Lord said that his ministry would be twice as much
corrective and destructive as it would be constructive
(Jer. 1:10). This indicated how much there was to be got
out of the way before God's end could be reached. It was
like Nehemiah's "much rubbish" in the way of
the constructive work later on. But the best way to the
corrective is always the positive, that is, presenting
the purpose of God as fully as possible.
So, then, that which governs everything
here in this letter, as everywhere else in the New
Testament, is the believer's attainment unto
The Fullness Of Christ
and the strongest warnings - with terrible
examples - are given as to failure in this matter. The
fatal weakness of so very much of the Church's work, both
in its evangelism and in inside activity, is its failure
to realize that God has never been satisfied with just
having converts or adherents, but has considered it so
important to bring such to spiritual full growth as to
make the abiding monument of Divine Revelation - the New
Testament - ninety-nine percent a volume for Christians
as to their spiritual life after conversion; this, first
and foremost, is God's way of saying two things.
Firstly, that the end, apart from the
attaining of which His eternal counsels would have broken
down, is Christ in fullness, not in aspects alone.
Secondly, that only a Church which has a large measure of
Christ can adequately and effectively fulfil the purpose
of the evangel. There is far more of spiritual force to
be overcome in and around this world than can be met by
the novitiate Church or Christian. Only Christ in
fullness can do this, and the measure of effectiveness
will ever be according to the measure of Christ. That the
"Letter to the Hebrews" has so fully to do with
this matter is to be seen from the fact that - in
principles - it embraces and comprehends the whole New
Testament revelation and meaning, doctrinal and
practical. Sit down with it and see if you cannot find in
it the essence of "Romans,"
"Colossians" and "Peter". And does it
not set the basis for the interrogation of the churches
in the "Revelation"?
But to come more immediately to the
inclusive object, just take the thought of fullness and
read the letter through with this as your guide. When you
have done so, and have recognized that it is this which
governs all, then start again with this second thought;
in what way is Christ revealed here as fullness for our
apprehending and attainment? A third question will
eventually arise; what adjustments are necessary if that
attainment is to be realized? We will seek to answer
these questions in order.
Fullness - The Governing Object
God does not believe in either emptiness
or partial occupation. This is clearly shown throughout
the entire Scriptures. If at any given time He speaks in
a particular way, on a particular line, and with a
particular emphasis, it is only by way of building up to
a whole and bringing all to completeness. This is the
point in the first statement in this letter. God has in
times past spoken in portions and ways, but all the
portions and manners pointed to the whole, and eventually
that whole is found to be Christ - His Son. He is not
merely another way or form of speech, He is the sum and
consummation of all. He has been implicit in all parts,
but never complete in any one. All the parts were - in
principle - aspects or features of Him. But fullness is
not just the combination and coordination of the parts as
types and figures, manners of speech. Rather is it the
Divine meaning of all that has gone before. The
fullness is spiritual, heavenly, eternal, not temporal,
earthly and passing. This is a point which must make us
pause and think again. Fullness will be found in the
essential nature of God's thoughts, not in their symbolic
representation. Thus sonship, when understood, is the
greatest revelation ever given by God to man, and the
greatest of all Divine thoughts for man. So chapters one
and two sum up all in sonship.
First there is the presentation of the
He has been made heir of all
He was the instrument in the making of the ages.
He is the fullness of the revelation of God.
He sustains all things in cohesiveness and being.
He accomplished purification of sins.
He sits at the right hand of God.
He is superior to the angelic orders.
He has inherited an ineffable name.
It is a presentation of Christ on two
sides of His being, sonship in two connections - Son of
God and Son of Man. Only in Paul's letter to the
Colossians (chapter 1) and John's Gospel (chapter 1) is
there anything to compare with this as a presentation of
the fullness and transcendence of Christ.
The point which we must now make sure of
grasping is that, while fullness has ever been God's
thought and intention for His creation, there has been no
possibility of real spiritual fullness since the
fall of man until Christ, the Son, was seated at God's
right hand after His circuit of humiliation, suffering,
death and resurrection. God begins from fullness
He does not work towards it. Only in experience does
fullness progress, but it is really, in God's mind,
working back to the initially fixed realization in
Christ. When the Son - the Divine standard of fullness -
has been set before us, then sonship in relation to Him
(not in Deity but as Son of Man, chapter 2) is brought
out as to the believing family. All family titles are
used: "children," "brethren,"
"sons," and "God's House."
This not being a detailed exposition of
the letter, very much must be left without comment,
although it is so valuable. We are governed by one
When the Son and the sons have been
presented, and with them God's thought and intention of
fullness as governing the creative work, especially in
relation to "man" and "the Son of
Man" (2:6), then the great and significant phrase is
used "Partners in a heavenly calling". By this
phrase we are precipitated into the whole object of this
letter, its subject matter, and the crisis which it
1. 'The heavenly calling." What is
The dominion over "the inhabited earth to come,
(whereof we are speaking)" (2:5).
a. Man, in the first place was intended for this, but he
missed it or forfeited it.
b. Israel was a type of an elect people with this as
their destiny. They forfeited it (see chapter 3,
c. The dominion has been fully secured in "the
Son of Man," Who is Son of God - "Thy throne, 0
God" (1:8) - and Who is now "crowned with glory
and honour". And this "inheritance" is for
2. But there are two factors of major
a. This "heavenly calling" is essentially
heavenly and spiritual. It has no connection with this
present earth excepting as to spiritual testimony.
b. Its full realization and fulfilment is "to
come," it is future, after this age.
Let us look at these two things more
closely. What is the aspect of this letter? It is
entirely upward! See the heavenly references.
"Heavenly calling," (3:1);
"heavenly gift," (6:4); "heavenly
country," (11:16); "heavenly Jerusalem,"
(12:22); "heavenly things," (8:5,9:23);
"passed through the heavens," (4:14);
"higher than the heavens," "High
Priest," (7:26); "throne of the Majesty in the
heavens," (8:1); "entered into heaven
itself," (9:24); "in heaven a better..."
(10:34); "enrolled in heaven," (12:23);
"Him That speaketh from heaven," (12:25);
"make to tremble the heaven..." (12:26).
So, the Lord and everything of Him is
looked at as from below. The counterpart of the whole Old
Testament system is seen to be in heaven, and it was only
a temporal representation of the heavenly and spiritual
reality. Christ is in heaven, and all of our religious
bonds with God are through Christ as there. Every bond
with the earth is broken, even while we are walking on
the earth. Christ in heaven takes the place of all
earthly figures and representations in ritual. It is
important to recognize that this letter was addressed -
in the first place - to a people who for centuries had
held the position of a people whom God had taken out of
the world unto Himself, explaining their own nature and
history in the light of Christianity, showing that even
such a people may make their separation earthly and
earthbound. Everything here and now is essentially
spirit, but it is shown that there can be a false
spirituality, a pseudo-spirituality. It was thought by
the Jews, as it is thought by multitudes of well-meaning
Christians, that the performing of certain rites, the
preserving of certain forms, the following of a certain
ritual, the wearing of certain garments, the employment
of certain instruments, language, tones: and, indeed, the
recognition of a set of more or less sentient
accompaniments: if bathed in an atmosphere of reverence
and solemnity, is spirituality. This letter in which we
are meditating most definitely cuts clean in between soul
(of which the above is the expression) and spirit (4:12).
In effect its corrective is that when you have true
spirituality you need none of the above; and, indeed,
this is the age in which that has all given place to what
is purely and solely spiritual. But you can have all
that, and not be really spiritual people. The more truly
spiritual you are the less you will be impressed by, or
taken up with, these things. They will be to you like so
much child's play. This can be proved by the fact that in
the realms where ritual is the greatest the gap between
personal knowledge of the Lord and ritual is also the
greatest. Whereas a deep rich life in God is usually
found where there is little or nothing of outward forms
in the sense of a system of religion.
Let it be noted, as we close this chapter,
that it is in this very realm and connection that the
appeal, the warnings, the exhortations, and the argument
of this letter lie. Not concerning Corinthian sensuality
or worldliness or divisions; not the sins of Christians;
but the immaturity, childhood (chapter 5:12 to chapter
6:12) of those who, although "once
enlightened," were in danger of having their
spiritual life limited and frustrated by becoming
conformed to a traditional and fixed earthly religious
system which, although instituted by God at one time to
serve in the lower classes of the school of the ages,
has, with this age, been left behind, and all who
are of this dispensation begin their spiritual life and
education at an entirely different level, and with an
entirely superior equipment.
This equipment is twofold, making for such
transcendent possibilities and responsibilities; Christ
in full revelation; not in types and symbols, but in
living reality; actually Himself the Priest, the
Sacrifice, the Altar, the Mercy Seat, the Tabernacle, the
Holy of Holies, etc., etc.; and then the Holy Spirit
given to make Christ, in all that He is, a living inward
reality, so that we live in the good of all by the
power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. But Christ is
infinitely vaster and fuller than has ever been conceived
by man, and the growing revelation and apprehension of
Him by the energy of the Holy Spirit keeps the believer's
life ever moving forward and growing, so that
Christianity should never be a static system but an
ever-expanding life. Hence the constantly recurring
appeal, "Let us go on," "Let us... let