The Ongoing Gifts of Salvation

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

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One Christmas, my mother-in-law put a little jar of pickles in my stocking. And before you think she’s just absolutely crazy, I have to tell you, that’s actually a perfect gift for me. And a few months later, she was on the phone and asked Charla how I had liked the pickles. And she was a little bit hurt to find out that I hadn’t even opened them yet. And so Charla told her, “You just don’t understand my husband.” You see, 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. Right? I save it for just the right time. And I savor it because it is a one time gift. I may never get another one, I may never get anything else. And so I have to make it count. Or at least that’s how my brain works. That’s my thought process. And the book of Hebrews tells us about salvation, which is also a gift. It’s a gift of God. But unlike the pickles or the bison jerky, the cow tales that I find in my stocking, salvation is not just a gift that we receive one time and then there’s nothing else. Okay? Of course, there is one moment where we first receive salvation. And at that moment when we repent, when we trust Christ, and we ask God’s forgiveness, he gives us the gift of salvation right there. Our sins are forgiven, 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 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—never run out of those blessings, out of those gifts. 

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

Starting in verse 10, 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. 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” (Hebrews 2:10-13, KJV).

Now 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” (Hebrews 2:10, KJV). And we looked at that quite a bit last week. 

Now, this is, first of all, a reminder to us that we were created by God, and for God, and for His glory. And one of the things that glorify God is the transformation that He works in us. This work of bringing many sons to glory, as it says in verse 10, is something that that only God could do because we are 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’ve squandered His gifts on every imaginable form of wickedness. We’ve treated the father with utter contempt. And instead of sons, we’ve acted like rebels and outlaws. Like the prodigal son, we’re not even worthy of being servants of the Father’s house. And you know what our Heavenly Father does? Our Heavenly Father acts just like the father in the story of the prodigal son. And when we come to Him repentant, when we come to Him realizing that we are entirely wrong in our rebellion, and we seek His forgiveness, He welcomes us as His children. We don’t deserve that. But He welcomes us as His children. 

Remember, you and I don’t even deserve to be His servants. And yet, He says, ‘Come on, and be my children instead.’ And then again, like the prodigal son, He cleans us up from the pigpen of sin where we’ve been living, He puts a robe on our backs, He puts shoes on our feet, rings on our hands, and welcomes us into His family with celebration because those who were dead, He has now made alive. God brings many sons unto glory; He takes undeserving sinners, He calls us His children, and He welcomes us into the glorious light of salvation. And 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 sort of defaults to masculine pronouns when it’s not talking about anyone in particular. That’s what’s happening here. So when this text that we’ve looked at talks about human beings as sons and brothers, it doesn’t exclude women from the blessings of salvation. It’s talking about man in a general sense. These are general statements. And folks, there are daughters, and there are sisters, in the family of God. We need to understand that God created men and women to be different. In fact, He created each individual to be different. That shouldn’t be shocking to us. But, praise God, there is level ground at the foot of the cross. And so this doesn’t exclude women when it says brothers and sons.

Throughout this message, we’re going to see these ongoing gifts of salvation under the New Covenant. But verse 10 is concerned, first of all, with how salvation came to be offered in the first place. One thing that I 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 the book of Hebrews. And 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, or complete, through sufferings. So the writer of Hebrews was telling his readers again, that Jesus is the Father’s plan for redemption. His plan had nothing to do with how religious they were or how well they followed the law. Jesus completed the work of salvation by dying for their sins—and for our sins—on the cross. 

These people who were reading the book of Hebrews, these people were flirting with the idea of going back to the old covenant, and they needed a reality check. They needed to understand that they could not be saved apart from Jesus Christ. And so if you look at the Gospels, you’ll see two religious figures who were brought up repeatedly by the Jews, by the same group, by the same group from Hebrews. These two leaders were Abraham and Moses. All through John chapter 8, Jesus was trying to get the Pharisees to understand that their sin had separated them from God. And this was inconceivable to the Pharisees because they believed that they were going to make it to Heaven on Abraham’s coattails.

After all, they were descendants of Abraham. So they would inherit all the promises that God had made to Abraham. And on top of that, Jesus had numerous discussions with the Jews about the law of Moses. They believed—especially the Pharisees—that they were totally righteous and totally justified before God as long as they outwardly obeyed the law that Moses delivered to them. They thought they were fine with God as long as they did that. This is the mindset of these original readers of the book of Hebrews. It’s the mindset that they 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 faith, not our connections. Genesis 15:6 says, “[Abraham] believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness” (Genesis 15:6, KJV). The lesson that they should have taken from Abraham’s life was not that they could be saved by their connection to Abraham or anybody else; it was that it was faith that justified them before God. And the law that Moses presented to Israel demonstrated that we’re all sinners. I mean, it made it abundantly clear that we’re all sinners.

Romans 3:20 talks about the law and says, “by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight” (Romans 3:20, KJV). Nobody can be justified by the law. And Galatians 3:24 says that the law was merely a “schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ” (Galatians 3:24, KJV). The whole point of the law was to show us we couldn’t keep the law, and that we were sinners. 

All of this points to our need for Jesus Christ. But people thought they could be saved because they were the descendants of Abraham or because they were the followers of Moses. So the writer of Hebrews sort of metaphorically grabs them by the collar and pulls them in close and begs them to understand: Abraham wasn’t the perfect captain of their salvation, and neither was Moses. Jesus completed the work of salvation. 

And in a world where so many people think that they can find their own path to God, we need to understand the same truth today: Jesus completed the work salvation by dying on the cross to pay for your sins and to pay for my 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. 

Salvation isn’t just about a future in Heaven—although that’s incredible enough, and I don’t want to downplay Heaven today. But there’s more. The gifts of God in salvation are something we can experience and should experience every day of our lives as believers. 

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” (Hebrews 2:11, KJV). Salvation involves sanctification: not in Heaven; not someday; today. Sanctification, though, is one of those church words that make us sound like we’re speaking a totally different language. So I want to make sure we define it. It merely means to make something holy. If you look at the word in Greek, there’s the word for holy ἅγιος (hagios), which describes something. And so sanctified takes that same word, ἅγιος, and turns it into a verb, ἁγιάζω (hagiazo). All of this is outlined in your notes. It turns the description into an action. We turn descriptions into actions in English all the time. For example, if you want your cows to be fat, you fatten them, right? With the grain, you send them to get fat. And if you want your hair to be short, you shorten it. Okay? Description becomes action. And God wants us to be holy, so He holy-izes us, in essence. that’s not really a word; that’s why we have sanctification and sanctify in English. That’s the kind of relationship these two words have in Greek: God is taking a description and making it happen. So when you see the word sanctification, just understand that to mean God is making us holy. This verse says that God makes us holy. And it’s a good thing that He does because we’re supposed to be holy, but it’s way beyond our human abilities. I can’t do it. You can’t do it. 

Here’s how holy… I Peter 1:16 says, “Be ye holy; for I am holy” (I Peter 1:16, KJV). In other words, be holy like God is. That’s the standard. We can’t do it. That is a tall order; you cannot do it. The good news, though, is that if you’re a believer, God is at work within you, 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, for the rest of your life, the Holy Spirit will be there, molding and shaping you to act like it. You can’t change yourself, you can’t improve yourself, but He can transform you and make you holy. And that’s what this verse is talking about—sanctification. 

When it says “they who are sanctified” (Hebrews 2:11, KJV), it means us. It means us. We are the ones being made holy. Today, if you’ve trusted in Jesus Christ alone for your salvation, the power of God is at work in your life with the intention of making you holy. and who’s doing the sanctifying in the verse? It refers to Jesus Christ. Now He sent the Holy Spirit to live within us and carry out the actual work of making us holy. But this whole chapter is about Jesus Christ. And it’s only because Jesus completed the work of salvation that we are declared holy in the first place. So the work of sanctification is by the Holy Spirit, but it’s because of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Sanctifier here that it’s talking 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” (Hebrews 2:11, KJV). It says here that Jesus and those who believe on Him are all one. And that raises the question—and there’s been a lot of speculation over what that phrase might mean—we’re all one what? But as I look at the next few verses, it’s pretty clear to me that he’s talking about a family; we’re all of one family, and it’s the family of God. Now, remember, we’re not in the family of God because we deserved it, yet we’re not treated as second class members of His family either. Romans chapter 8, echoes this in verses 16 and 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” (Romans 8:16-17, KJV). And even though Jesus is begotten by the Father, and we were adopted, because Jesus made our way into the family of God, and He purchased our inheritance, the Father looks at us as His children across the board. He sees us as His children, just like He sees Jesus as His child. And verse 11, teaches that we’re all of one family, the family of God. 

Now read what it says next: “for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren” (Hebrews 2:11, KJV). Jesus calls us His brothers. Jesus called you His brother. Now we can easily miss the significance of that if we’re not careful. We have a tradition, and it’s not a bad tradition, but we have a tradition of calling every man in the church brother, whether we know him well or not, whether we have a close relationship or not, we call him brother. Calling someone brother in the New Testament is more than a title. It’s more than a form of address. It’s actually claiming someone as family. And 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 (adelphos) in verses 11 and 12. In those verses, Jesus calls us his ἀδελφός. That’s not the plural, but you get the point. When the word breaks down even further, it comes from a combination of a connecting word ἀ (a) and the word δελφύς (delphus), which means womb. And when I realized that the Greek word for brother indicated a shared womb, because it literally means “from the womb,” I immediately started to think about the bond between twins. Now, I recently discovered that Amazon Prime has the original series of Unsolved Mysteries, which I loved watching with my parents as a kid. And I really only have time now to watch it late at night, which is precisely the wrong time to watch Unsolved Mysteriesif you’re easily creeped out like I am. But I have watched it anyway. And not too long ago—I guess it was a long time ago that they did it. But not too long ago, I watched an episode on the connection between twins, especially between identical twins: how they’re mysteriously connected. And some of them can feel the pain that’s experienced by the other one. Some of them know when the other twin is in trouble. One girl credibly claims that she knew the other had been in a car wreck and was able to lead her father to the scene of the crash. This is crazy stuff. There’s this incredible connection that science doesn’t understand. But after sharing a womb, many of them now share this 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. That’s not what it says at all. What I am saying here is that the word brother does indicate a closer bond than what we might imagine. Jesus is not just giving us a title when He’s talking about coming from the womb; He’s indicating this intimate familial relationship that He has with us. And speaking of this relationship, verse 11 says, “for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren” (Hebrews 2:11, KJV). 

Do any of you have relatives that you’re ashamed to claim? Don’t raise your hands! Some of your relatives are in this room! I’m glad my wife has stepped out because depending on how I acted this morning, she might be raising her hand. A lot of people have relatives they don’t want to claim. In one of my previous churches, I found out after a couple of years, that two of the members were related. And when I said to one of them that I didn’t know they were cousins, she looked at me, this very sweet lady, and said, “Well, I try to keep it quiet.” Folks, Jesus didn’t feel that way about you. Aren’t you glad He isn’t ashamed to claim you as His brother? 

And let’s move on to verse 12. It says, “Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee” (Hebrews 2:12, KJV). Now, 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 the disciples. And in Matthew 26:30, Jesus sang a hymn to the Father at the conclusion of their Passover feast. So by referring to this song, the writer of Hebrews was reinforcing the idea of believers being Jesus’ adopted brothers in the family of God. He said, ‘I will praise You, I’ll sing to you among my brothers.’ 

Let’s move quickly, again to verse 13. It starts off by saying, “And again, I will put my trust in him” (Hebrews 2:13, KJV). And 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” (Psalm 18:2, KJV). During Jesus’ earthly ministry, He trusted His Father every day; everything He went through, He trusted His father. And through His example, we to learn to put our trust in the Father. We learn to rely on Him to provide for us, to care for us, to defend us the way any Father should. And in the latter part of verse 13, it says, “And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me” (Hebrews 2:13, KJV). And 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” (John 10:28-29, KJV). Reconciled to the Father, we’re safe and secure with Jesus. 

And after making the role of Jesus in salvation clear earlier in chapter 2, this passage moves on to illustrate some of the ongoing gifts of God in salvation. As we’ve looked at it, that’s really been the focus. Chapter 2 starts off talking about how Jesus purchased our salvation. And then this passage talks about what exactly He purchased, and what these gifts are. 

First of all, there’s the adoption that features so prominently in the whole passage. Verse 10 tells us that believers are the sons and daughters of the Father, who He brings to glory. Verses 11-12 tell us that Jesus Christ calls us His brothers. Verse 13 tells us again that we’re the children of God and that we are committed to the perpetual care of Jesus Christ. So when you trust Christ as your Savior, you are adopted. You are adopted into the family of God, and you become his brother 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,” and I’ve read part of this already, “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” (Romans 8:15-17, KJV). So the Holy Spirit lives in us and bears witness—continually reminds us—of the truth that we’ve been adopted. God the Father calls us His children. Jesus Christ calls us His brothers, and we get to call God Abba—which is a term that means daddy. It’s an intimate term. And we’re not the mistreated stepchildren in this deal; we are joint-heirs with Jesus. That means we get a full share of the inheritance of the Father’s spiritual blessings. The Father and Son love us, and they claim us. I don’t think I would claim me if I was them, but they claim us. 

And adoption into the family of God is a gift that we could have never deserved. But it’s a life changing reality when you realize that you are now a son or daughter of God. And we can’t help but see the incredible love and compassion of a God who will take His enemies and not just turn them into servants, but His children. As a believer, if you have some of those days where you think, ‘I just don’t know that I have anything to praise God for. I don’t know what to praise God for.’ If you can’t think of something to praise Him for, start there. Start there with the fact that He’s adopted you into His family. 

There’s another gift that accompanies salvation. Verse 11, reminds us that salvation involves sanctification, where God makes us holy. We’ve talked about this already. Through this process, God makes us more and more like Jesus Christ. And again, I like how Romans chapter 8 says this. Romans 8:29 teaches that God’s predestined plan throughout all of eternity was to make believers be more like Jesus Christ. I’ve told you before, I think that predestination refers to the plan of God to make us more like Jesus Christ. 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” (Romans 8:29, KJV). You know, we tell each of our children to do their best, because the younger ones coming up behind them are going to probably follow whatever example they set. Charlie loves his big siblings and wants to do the things that they do. That’s natural. So you always hope that they’re going to set a good example. And we, as the adopted brothers of our Lord, we have a perfect example to follow. He’s a hard example to follow. But God transforms us and enables us to follow Jesus’ example. And the end result is that the adopted children of God should grow to be more like His only begotten Son. The Bible doesn’t conceive of us being saved by Jesus Christ only to remain unchanged. I’ve heard it said many times growing up: God loves you exactly the way you are, but He loves you too much to leave you that way. And sometimes the progress will be slow, and the work is never completely finished on this side of eternity. But if you’re a believer, God is working to change you. He’s working to sanctify you to make you more like Jesus Christ. And your job as a believer is to do your best to follow Jesus’ example. 

For one, study your Bible to see what He said and did, and then seek to do those things. Seek to be like Him every day. And you’re going to have plenty of times where you’ll fail at that task. But let sanctification do its work. Instead of giving up, pray for God to work on those areas where you’re failing, and just keep trying to follow Jesus Christ as He empowers you to do it. 

And that’s if you’re a believer, but some of you have never trusted Christ as your Savior before this morning. And if you haven’t, you need to know that Jesus has made these gifts available to you today. And that’s not a sales pitch to try to get you to make a decision or join the church. It’s just what the Bible teaches. You can be adopted into God’s family, and you can have God transform you into everything that He wants you to be. But before you receive the gifts of adoption and sanctification, you need the gift of forgiveness that He offers to all of us. If you trust Jesus Christ as the Savior who died in your place, your slate is going to 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; they’ve all run out, and the day of the sentence is approaching. And now imagine the king’s son volunteers to suffer the death penalty for you. And he goes to the prison where he’s executed for your crimes. And once the sentence has been carried out, the king signs a full pardon for you because of what the son did. You walk out of prison totally free. That’s how God’s forgiveness works. His Son died for your sins, so you’ll get a full pardon that you didn’t earn. And you start life anew with a clean slate you didn’t deserve because you’re forgiven. And God chooses to remember our sins no more. We are assured of eternal life with him, as well as the other things that I’ve talked about this morning. So today, what you need to do is acknowledge that you’ve sinned against God, and believe that Jesus died to pay for your sins in full and that He rose again, and then ask God to forgive you. In His word, He promises you what He will. And as we stand to sing a hymn in a moment, as our musicians come forward, you’ll have an opportunity to respond to what you just heard. If you have questions, if you need to talk to somebody, you’re more than welcome to come forward. Or you can grab somebody in the pew next to you or around you if that’s more comfortable. Any number of people in this room would love to help you know more about Jesus and help you understand what He did for you. But also you need to know that right where you are, you can pray, you can trust in Jesus alone as your Savior, you can ask God’s forgiveness, and you can be saved.

Sermon audio and text, © 2018, Jared Byrns. All rights reserved.

Unless otherwise indicated, Biblical references are taken from the King James Version, which is in the public domain in the United States.