Christ Is Appointed Heir Of All Things
Hebrews 1:2b, 3
(The following text is taken from a sermon preached by Gil Rugh in 1978.)
These seven facts about the person and work of Christ further demonstrate His superiority to the prophets and all of mankind. We can break these seven points into two categories:
Now, it is important that we understand the distinction between these two categories. If we do not understand then the rest of Hebrews might become very confusing. The first and the last two facts concerning Christ relate to Him being a man, while the middle four facts relate to Christ as Deity.
The first fact we see concerning Christ is '...whom He appointed heir of all things.' Christ is shown to be vastly superior to the prophets because He is the heir to everything. This is a logical condition of the fact that Christ is the 'Son' of God. A son is heir to everything his father owns. Galatians 4:7 says, 'Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.' The illustration is that all believers, because we are sons of God, are also heirs of God. Of course, Jesus Christ is a Son in a very unique way because of His eternal relationship with the Father. But Paul makes it clear in Galatians that all believers are heirs of God as well. Paul writes, 'In order that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons' (Galatians 4:5). The result of the eternal Son of God redeeming depraved sinners, is that we are received in God's presence as His sons as well. What a blessing!
Romans 8: 15-17 addresses this subject as well. Paul says, 'for you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fearing again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, 'Abba Father.' The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him.' Again, our sonship to God depends on only one factor: our relationship with the Son of God.
Being appointed heirs with the Son of God connects with the fact that Christ became a human being. Psalms 2:7-8 is the background for what Paul has said in Hebrews 1:2b. It is relating to Christ's future ministry as the King of Israel. 'I will surely tell of the decree of the Lord; He said to Me,'Thou art My Son, Today I have begotten Thee. Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Thine inheritance, And the very ends of the earth as Thy possession.' The promise in this verse is to the Messiah Himself, God's Son. So, when we read in Hebrews that God has appointed Him as heir, it is in connection with Him becoming a man, and carrying out the Messianic ministry while being King of Israel.
As we have seen, Christ is promised to be 'heir of all things.' However, He has not inherited everything at this present time. He has not yet inherited all nations, and all humanity. This will not be fulfilled until a future date, when Christ sets up His 1000 year earthly kingdom (Revelation 20).
Daniel 7: 13-14 refers to the earthly kingdom as well. Daniel says, 'I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds one like a Son of Man was coming, and He came up to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion, glory and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations, and men of every language might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away; And His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed.' Again, we see that in the future Christ will inherit everything. This is the point of the writer in Hebrews chapter 1. He is demonstrating the superiority of Christ by the fact that He is heir to everything.
Verse 2 continues with the second fact concerning Christ's superiority; '...through whom also He made the world.' The Bible is clear, from Genesis to Revelation, that this world was made by a personal God. Some people today say things like, 'It doesn't matter if God created the world, or if evolution is true. The important thing is that we get along.' Well, the entire Bible reiterates the facts we see in Genesis chapters 1, 2, and 3 concerning creation. If you don't believe in creation, you don't believe the Bible, and if you don't believe the Bible, you are in rebellion to the very God you claim to serve. The Word of God is clear: creation was ordered by the Father, carried out by the Son, and activated by the Holy Spirit. The entire Godhead was involved in the creation process.
The truth that Christ created everything that exists stresses the fact that He is Deity. Only God can create. And as creator, He had to exist before His creation. He existed before the beginning, therefore, He himself had no beginning.
Colossians 1:16-17 stresses Christ's role as creator; 'For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities - all things have been created by Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.' Everything was created by Christ, and not only that, but everything was created for Christ. This is God's perfect plan in action. Christ created the world as Deity, and then came to live in it as a man. He is the God-man, Messiah of Israel, and Savior to all who trust in His person and work.
John 1:1-3 quells the notion of some that Jesus Christ was used by the Father to accomplish His purposes, therefore He is inferior to the Father. John says, 'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.' This statement makes it very clear that Jesus Christ is Deity. Some people (like the Jehovah Witnesses) try to argue that in the Greek, the emphasis is on Christ as a god, rather than GOD. But the truth is, the only way that Christ could be referred to in this context (in the Greek), is as GOD.
Jesus is Deity in His being. The verse can be literally translated, 'In the beginning, the Word already was... .' Jesus Christ already existed because He is God. He has a face to face, or equal relationship with the Father.
John says, '...All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being' (John 13). Everything that has existence came into existence through Jesus Christ. Again, God, the Father, was the source, God, the Son, was the agent through whom it was accomplished, and God, the Holy Spirit, was the one through whom the details were worked out. There is a relationship of equality that exists between the three agents of the Trinity, each carrying out different functions and responsibilities in perfect cohesiveness with one another. Creation is an act of Deity, and the very fact that Christ is the one who created indicates His prior existence and superiority.
This is the point of Hebrews 1:2. It is through Christ that God made the world. This proves that Jesus is superior to the prophets because they never created anything. Therefore, Christ's revelation is also superior to that of the prophets.
The third fact that demonstrates Christ's superiority is illustrated in verse 3. The author says, 'And He is the radiance of His glory... .' Literally, this verse can be translated 'Who being the radiance... ,' denoting the fact that Christ is constantly the 'glory' of God. He radiates (literally effulgent, meaning 'shining forth brilliantly') the glory of God. This idea can be found throughout the Old Testament, and can be defined as the revelation and character of God.
Exodus chapter 24 shows us an example of the 'Shikinah Glory' of God. It was the display of glory of the presence of God. Exodus 24:15 says, 'Then Moses went up to the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. And the glory of the Lord rested on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days; and on the seventh day He called to Moses from the midst of the cloud. And to the eyes of the sons of Israel the appearance of the glory of the Lord was like a consuming fire on the mountain top.' Throughout the Old Testament, this was the way in which God manifested His glory to the nation Israel.
But in the book of Ezekiel, one sees the departure of the glory of God from the nation Israel. It is not until Jesus Christ comes to earth, some 500 years later, that the glory of God is again manifested. Now, however, the glory of God is manifested through the tabernacle of human flesh.
The gospel of John illustrates this truth; 'And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.' This is the meaning of Colossians 2:9 where we are told, 'For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form.' His glory is manifested through human flesh.
Jesus Himself testified to the fact that He shares equally in the glory of God; 'I glorified Thee on the earth, having accomplished the work which Thou hast given Me to do. And now, glorify Thou Me together with Thyself, ' Father, with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was' (John 17:4-5). Again, Jesus shares equally in the glory of God with the rest of the Trinity. However, when He came to earth, that glory was tabernacled within a human body, and veiled to an extent. But when He returned to the Father, He returned to the full display of glory that was His with the Father for all eternity.
We have only had glimpses of the glory of God in Christ in Scripture. One glimpse of this was when Paul was on the road to Damascus, and he was confronted by the resurrected Christ. Paul is blinded by the awesome display of glory. Another important aspect concerning the translation of Hebrews 1:3 is this: we have the first sentence translated, 'And He is the radiance of His glory... .' However, the original translation was 'And He is the radiance of the glory... .' Our translators have taken the word 'the' to mean 'His,' which is a possibility. But the reason it was written as it was is because 'the glory' applies not only to the Father, but to the Son as well.
The next statement in Hebrews 1:3 is closely connected to the first. The author says, '...He is the exact representation of His nature... .' Here we have a very clear statement concerning the Deity of Christ. Anyone who doubts that Jesus Christ is God need only read this verse. First, we are told that Christ is the 'radiance of His glory,' and now we see that He is the 'exact representation' of the character of God. Incidentally, this is the only time in the New Testament that this phrase is used. It means 'the impression made by a dye or seal.' It is an impression, or an exact replica.
The word 'nature' means 'substantial nature, essence, actual being.' Christ is the exact impression of the essence of God. This is a reflection of Deity. Only three persons do this: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Believers reflect and portray the character of God by virtue of the Holy Spirit now residing in us. But we cannot be the exact impression of His essence because we are not Deity.
In 2 Corinthians 4:3, Paul declares, 'And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.' Some people do not see the glory of Christ, even though He is the 'image of God.'
The word 'image' is translated 'icon,' meaning a representation of something. Do you want to see the glory of God? You look at Jesus Christ because He is the image of the Father. Those who don't see His glory are blinded by Satan. There is a veil over their eyes. Only those who are chosen to believe will receive the full revelation of His glory.
John 14:9 addresses this subject about as well as any passage in the New Testament. Philip asks Jesus to show the disciples the Father. How does Jesus respond? He says, '...Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how do you say,' Show us the Father?' ' As believers, we reflect the character of God in our lives, but we cannot stand up and say, 'He who has seen me has seen the Father.' That would be blasphemy. The only person who has ever lived on earth that can truthfully proclaim this statement is Jesus Christ. He is an exact reflection of God's being, God's character, and God's essence.
If one wants to see God the Father, one must look at Jesus Christ. This truth is illustrated again in Colossians 1:15 which says, 'And He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation.' God the Father is invisible. If you or I want to see the Father, the only way it is possible for us to do that is look at Jesus Christ. It is the same ifwe want to see the Spirit. It is Christ who will be a display of God's glory for all eternity. The Father and the Spirit exist in spirit. They will not even be seen in Heaven. But Jesus Christ will be displaying the full glory of God. When we see Him, we will be seeing the Father.
Paul continues in verse 17 of Colossians chapter one; 'And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.' Now, 'first-born', as seen in verse 15, doesn't necessarily mean first-born into existence. This is shown throughout the Old Testament. Isaac, for example, was the firstborn of Abraham in standing, but Ishmael was the first-born in time.
Furthermore,'...in Him all things hold together.' As we have already examined, Christ is the agent through whom creation takes place. Therefore it is only plausible that He is the one that holds everything together.
This is another example of the superiority of Christ. The prophets could reveal what God is because He told them. Christ could reveal what God is because He is God.
How does Christ uphold all things? The author of Hebrews continues in verse 3, saying that Christ '...upholds all things by the Word of His power.' Christ holds everything together by His powerful Word. The emphasis is that Christ is 'carrying it to a point'. He is sustaining our existence, while steadily moving toward the ultimate consummation - the glorification and redemption of the creation that will occur in connection with His Second Coming.
Who is greater, the prophets or Christ? The answer is obvious. The prophets never held the world together. The prophets never held the things together and moved toward an ultimate goal. The prophets never created. The prophets never died for our sins. They were simply instruments within God's plan as He ordained it.
Jesus, however, holds everything together: past, present, and future. Every minute there are billions and billions of atoms and molecules racing around. Everyday there are more and more people on the earth. Everyday there are more people who are dying. But everything that has ever come into being has been created and sustained by Him. If that does not convince you of the Deity of Jesus Christ, you have to ask yourself if you are one whose eyes have been blinded by Satan.
The next fact concerning the superiority of Christ in verse 3 begins, '...He made purification of sins.' There is an important change of tenses concerning this fact. The previous examples, which we examined, were written in the present tense, meaning that it is forever continuing. Now, suddenly, the author switches to the aorist tense, referring to a completed action.
The Roman Catholic Vulgate made a serious translation error concerning this phrase in verse 3. Because Latin did not have a participle that corresponded to the participle we have here, they translated this phrase into the present tense, causing the phrase to mean that Christ is carrying on a present ministry of purification in heaven. This is not how the original translation was written. God says that the purification of sins is a completed action.
When one understands this truth, it is clear that there is nothing we can do, on our own accord, to be purified of our sins. Why? God says that Christ finished that work when He died on the cross. Can you or I be forgiven if we take part in good works? No. Can you or I be forgiven if we are baptized? No. Can you or I be forgiven if we speak in tongues? No. Christ provided purification of sins when He hung on the cross at Calvary, shedding His blood for us.
Once again, Christ is shown as superior. No man who has ever lived will make purification for sin. No animal sacrifice makes purification for sin. No angel makes purification for sin. Only one person, the God-man Jesus Christ has made purification for sin, once and for all conquering the power of sin and death for those who believe.
The last statement in verse 3 continues the truth regarding the finality of Christ's sacrifice. The author states, '...He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.' The term 'sat down' again indicates a finality. In Old Testament times, if one were to go into the tabernacle and observe the priests, one would notice something odd. There were no chairs for the priests to sit on. This portrayed the fact that the work of an Old Testament priest was never done. The offering of sacrifices was an ongoing occurrence.
But Jesus Christ changed that. He made purification of sins once and for all time. What did He do after He ascended to Heaven? He 'sat down,' because His work was finished. This truth points to the fact that there is no need for rituals such as a Catholic Mass. Jesus Christ has been sacrificed once and for all. His work is done.
Where did Christ sit down? He sat at 'the right hand of the Majesty on high, ' referring to God the Father. Again, we see the exaltation that is the result of the finished work of salvation. Philippians 2:8-11 illustrates this truth; 'And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore also God exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.'
The fact that Scripture says Jesus is seated at the right hand of God is picturesque. God doesn't have a right and left hand. He doesn't exist in a physical body. It is similar to saying, 'John is my right hand man.' Does that mean that John is continually attached to my right hand? Of course not, it is only an expression that denotes the place of importance that John has. The same is true for the end of verse 3. The term 'sat down at the right hand' Christ is in the position of highest exaltation. When He voluntarily humbled Himself, by becoming a man, God exalted Him to this position, where He is sovereign over all creation.
These seven facts reinforce the fact that Christ is superior to the prophets. He is superior to any man or angel that has ever existed. He is the greatest revelation that has ever been made, because He is God, who lowered Himself to be a man. There could never be a greater revelation of God than that which has been made in Jesus Christ.
Once we see the superior revelation of Jesus Christ, we can't go back. We can't go back to the old religion, the old church, or the old way of worship. Why? We have come face to face with the greatest revelation God could make. If you don't see that, your eyes are being blinded by Satan. The incredible salvation God offers us is right in front of you. All you have to do is believe that Jesus Christ came to earth and died for your sins, as the Scripture said He would. When He died on the cross, He made purification for sins for anyone who would believe. The moment you believe this truth, the veil will be lifted from your eyes, and the Holy Spirit will take up residence in your life. You will experience first hand the magnificent glory of God that is manifested in His Son, Jesus Christ.
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