March 17, 2024 | Jess Rainer

Passage: Hebrews 13:17-25

We began our journey through the book of Hebrews on August 20, 2023.  I told you a few things on that Sunday

  1. I told that one of my favorite meals growing up was cut up hotdogs mixed into mac and cheese
    • That doesn’t really have much to do with today’s sermon, but I just thought I would remind you of that…
  2. I told you that we would be spending 26 weeks in the book of Hebrews
    • The idea of going through this book had been tossed around for awhile
    • One of our elders, Derek, was the catalyst for finally making it happen
    • I told that after the 26 weeks if you were burnt out on Hebrews, then blame Derek
    • I also told you that this would be a rich endeavor and because of that, you can thank Derek.
  3. Finally, on our first Sunday, that Jesus is better.

We set out to spend a half of a year to understand that truth. The writer of Hebrews showed us that Jesus is better than Moses, the angels, Melchizedek, and the old sacrificial system. Jesus is indeed the Great High Priest. My hope and prayer has been that you truly believe that Jesus is better than anything else this world offers you. There won’t be enough fame, power, money, or pleasure that will satisfy you the way that Jesus satisfies you. If Jesus is better than anything else, then what does that mean for our lives? We cling to Him with every bit of strength we can muster up. We don’t let the fleeting truths of this world take us wherever. If we are still young in our faith, we drink the milk. And for some, it was time to move on to the meet. We pursue holiness. We hate our sin. And we put a stake in the ground that says we will keep our church family, our marriages, our families, and our possession in their proper, God-given place which is on the unshakable Jesus. Jesus is better, so your only option is to cling to Him.

So, where do you go from here? Opening Illustration: There is a book that I read to my kids over the years called “We are in a Book!” It was a pig and elephant that realized they were the main characters in a book. And the whole book is trying to get the “reader of the book” to do certain things. But then towards the end of the book, the pig and the elephant realize the book is ending – which means the end of their story. So, in complete desperation, they devise a plan that makes the book end with the question, “Will you read the book again?” And it worked. My kids would ask me to read it again and again.

The end of Hebrews is not the stopping point of your pursuit of God. My hope is the desperation to know God more drives you toward God. Our only option is press deeper into the presence of God. And that’s exactly how we end our time in the book of Hebrews: Push deeper into the presence of God. Let’s open up our Bibles to Hebrews 13. Let’s all read these final verses with expectancy. Read Hebrews 13:17-25. Pray. The writer of Hebrews ends his letter with three things we can do – or really, three things we should never stop doing – in order to pursue God. Do you all remember a few weeks ago when I compared becoming holy like riding a bike uphill? The only way to become more like Jesus is to never stop peddling. Here’s the first way we keep peddling:  Never stop needing each other. 

 1) Never stop needing each other. (vs. 17-19) Now, I get verse 17 seems like an odd way to end this letter. Look at what the verse says: 17 Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit. I get the word “obey” seems like a strong word. For some of you, this may bring some big emotions because you grew up in a church culture that elevated this idea to an unhealthy level. Let me go ahead and get this out of the way: this verse does not in any way give me or an elder complete control over your life.  Illustration: “Do as I say, not as I do”. The way my dad parented changed over time. When I got old enough to inquire about things my dad did, such as speeding while driving, he started to say, “Do as I say, not as I do.” Now, in his defense, it was said with much sarcasm because we both knew he needed to slow down. I’m just glad he would say it in my teenage years, because that phrase is really bad parenting and would have messed me up as a kid. When some of you all read the first part of this verse, that’s the feeling you get though. Let me say two things about this. First, there is no perfect spiritual leader; no perfect pastor. Every pastor will get it wrong and mess up (and ask for forgiveness). That’s why a church family is full of grace. Second, a pastor that loses sight of Jesus will lose sight of the souls around him. That’s why we have multiple elders and pastors so that one of the watchman starts looking in the mirror more than looking around, then the other watchman can call it out. Our pastors at TCSH will love Jesus with all their heart, soul, and mind. 

So, what does it say the work of a spiritual leader is? 17 Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit. The word “watch” that is being used is that of a watchman on the city walls. The watchman on the city walls would not only look to the outside for coming danger, but would look inside for care of the people. The watchman has a vantage point for the benefit of everyone. Illustration: Human Maze with Rachel in Florida. A maze with towers. With friends, so I want to impress Rachel. I would run up to one of the towers, plan out the way to go and take off. But I would never get to where I needed to be. What became the most effective way is that one person stays in the tower to tell the other person where to go – and then switch roles. When there is a person who can look ahead, look outside, and look inside in order to warn and encourage and equip, then everyone benefits. Especially when it’s done with joy.

God calls spiritual leaders to take the “watchman” position and that position is accountable directly to God. That’s why the writer of Hebrews asks for prayers in verses 18 and 19. 18 Pray for us, for our conscience is clear and we want to live honorably in everything we do. 19 And especially pray that I will be able to come back to you soon. A good spiritual leaders should have the humility to know they need God’s help. A spiritual leader guides, counsels, directs, and warns for the benefit of those within the walls – of those within the church family. Don’t miss this: we need each other. People who say they don’t need to be in a church family are missing out on the benefits and graces that God has given to the church. We need to see each other as the body of Christ that is working together to get home. We all sojourners and exiles making our way to where we truly belong. That means we have to stick together. Homesick Christians stick together.

If we are seriously about being a people that will not stop pursuing God, then we have to belong to God’s family and we have thrive in community. We can never stop needing each other. That means we are going to put our personal preferences aside for the sake of the whole body. That means we are going to listen to each other’s godly counsel. I love this quote by Tozer (and those in the men’s group take note…): Quote: “Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow. So one hundred worshippers meeting together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be were they to become “unity” conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship.” ―W. Tozer. We need each other. Never stop needing each other. The writer of Hebrews then moves to this beautiful benediction in verses 20 and 21, in which we see this: Never stop needing Jesus.

2) Never stop needing Jesus. (vs. 20-21) The writer of Hebrews has spent 13 chapters pointing the original readers, pointing us, to Jesus. And so, it’s fitting that in his closing words he does that one more time. In verses 20 and 21, we get this beautiful picture of the Father and the Son. These verses remind us why we must never stop pursuing God. Let’s break these verses down: 20 Now may the God of peace— Our God is the God who has always existed. Everything that exists is because of Him. Out of nothing, God created everything. And everything points back to Him. That is why our faith is the evidence of things unseen. That is why we are to never take God for granted. You need the eternal God.

Well, what did our God do? who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus, This God, our Father, sent His Son to die on the cross in our place. It was our death to die, but Jesus stepped in for us. Jesus had to step in because He was the only that could conquer death and sin. Because of that Jesus is the only way to eternal life. Jesus is the way the truth and the life. If you want to in heaven instead of hell for all eternity, then you need the Savior of the world. 

Jesus is also what? the great Shepherd of the sheep, God intended for us to always be sheep. That’s His plan. We’ll never stop being sheep. Now, for those in Christ, you are more than sheep. You are chosen, you are a royal priesthood, you are a holy nation, you are God’s own possession. But you’ll always be a sheep. Which means you will always need the great Shepherd. 

What did Jesus do? and ratified an eternal covenant with his blood— God will keep His promise. The new covenant that we live in that was brought about by Jesus will always be. There is no need for another covenant. We need our promise-keeping God.

And finally, what is God still doing? 21 may he equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to him. All glory to him forever and ever! Amen. When you begin a personal relationship with God, the Holy Spirit moves in. The Holy Spirit takes a permanent spot in your soul. When that happens, a great work begins to transform you from inside out. The only way we can accomplish God’s will is through the power of the Jesus. God transforms us so that “our doing” and “His doing” become the “same doing.” We need our transforming, equipping, sanctifying, and power-producing God. 

Can I remind you of a truth from verse 21? God’s never done with you. Illustration: Do you know the saddest movie ending in the entire world? The ending of Toy Story 3. Andy had these toys that meant the world to him, but since he was going off to college, he no longer had a use for them. And that moment when Andy is holding Woody for the last time before he gives Woody to Bonnie – it gets you every time. Why? Because it’s a reminder that the usefulness of the world’s things only last for so long. A lot of us feel like Woody and that there comes a point where God doesn’t need us any more. Hear my clearly: If you belong to Him, He’s not done with you. Why? What God is producing in you is for His will, which is pleases Him and brings Him glory. Pastor Alistair Begg said it this way: Quote: “What is his will? That we would be holy… It’s no mystery. It’s not some magic box kept under the tree somewhere that only a few select people can go and find. The will of God is on the surface of the pages of Scripture, and he supplies us with everything good for the doing of his will: to make us holy, not, ultimately, happy. He gives us the resources not as toys to be played with but as tools to be employed, in order that we might become “useful to the Master.” – Alistair Begg. There will never be a point that we are not loved and cared for and useful for God. That’s why we never stop needing Jesus. Our calling is to never stop pursuing God. We are to push deeper into the presence of God. Which brings us to our final reason to keep peddling: Never become satisfied with what you know about God. 

3) Never become satisfied with what you know about God. (vs. 22-25) In verses 23 and 24, the writer of Hebrews gives a few personal updates. Verse 25 is his way of saying “goodbye” 23 I want you to know that our brother Timothy has been released from jail. If he comes here soon, I will bring him with me to see you. 24 Greet all your leaders and all the believers there. The believers from Italy send you their greetings. 25 May God’s grace be with you all. I want us to end with verse 22: 22 I urge you, dear brothers and sisters, to pay attention to what I have written in this brief exhortation. 

If you were to read this letter out loud, it would take you about an hour. I know my sermons have been a little longer in recent months, but I’m nowhere near that long! I love our Kids Ministry volunteers too much to do that! But here, the writer of Hebrews knows he’s only scratched the surface. If you would add up our time in Hebrews on Sunday mornings, it would be a little over 13 hours total. I believe in that in those 13 hours, there’s been a change in our church. We are hungrier than we’ve ever been. In just 13 hours, women have begun to learn how to study God’s Word at a deeper level. In just 13 hours, men have begun to know what it means to pursue God. In just 13 hours, you all have begun to know what it means to thrive in community. In just 13 hours, your voices have been louder than they’ve ever been in worship. What would happen if those 13 hours began to multiply? What would happen if you spent 3 hours a week in pursuit of God? What would happen if you took what you know about God and multiplied it 3-fold? Church Family, we can’t slow down! We can’t become satisfied with where are now. Our God is an inexhaustible God that wants us to pusher deeper into His presence. Your holiness and perseverance demand that you push deeper into the presence of God.

I’ve taught each of my three kids how to ride a bike. Do you know what I told each one of them? “Keep peddling!” Why? Because when they stop peddling, two things happen: They slow down. They put their feet down. When those two things happen, they lose their balance and fall over. We have to keep going and stay hungry for God. Strip off every weight that slows you down. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. Keep going deeper into the presence of God. And watch what happens to your life. Let’s pray.

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Series Information

Sin causes us to experience shame, rejection, and pain.  This series highlights the supremacy and sufficiency of Christ in the Book of Hebrews—offering hope to all of those struggling with self-doubt and seclusion. By exploring the passages that connect Jesus' ministry to the fulfillment of the Law, this guide will help you not only better understand the Old Testament, but also how Jesus completes the story of God’s redemption. This is a great series to remind others of God’s love for them, as well as the sacrifice He made to bring them back to God.

Other sermons in the series

August 20, 2023

He’s Better

Hebrews 1:3-4 [ESV] 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the...

August 27, 2023

Rest Easy

Hebrews 1:10 [ESV] 10 And, "You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth...

September 03, 2023

Too Great to Ignore

Hebrews 2:1 [ESV] 1 Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what...

September 10, 2023

See Jesus

Hebrews 2:17 [ESV] 17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in...

September 17, 2023

Why Moses?

Hebrews 3:6 [ESV] 6 but Christ is faithful over God's house as a son...

September 24, 2023

Faith to the End

Hebrews 3:14 [ESV] 14 For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we...

October 01, 2023

God’s Rest

Hebrews 4:12 [ESV] 12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper...

October 22, 2023

Optional Maturity

Hebrews 5:14 [ESV] 14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who...

October 29, 2023

What’s Holding You

Hebrews 6:19-20 [ESV] 19 We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of...

November 05, 2023

What We Need Forever

Hebrews 7:28 [ESV] 28 For the law appoints men in their weakness as...

November 12, 2023

Personally Relate

Hebrews 8:1 [ESV] 1 Now the point in what we are saying is this: we...

November 19, 2023

Guilt Free

Hebrews 9:14 [ESV] 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who...

November 26, 2023

Christ Our Mediator

Hebrews 9:28 [ESV] 28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the...

January 07, 2024

Toward Holiness

Hebrews 10:14 [ESV] 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for...

January 28, 2024

A Gazing Faith

Hebrews 11:1 [ESV] 1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for...

February 11, 2024

By Faith

Hebrews 11:39-40 [ESV] 39 And all these, though commended through their...

February 18, 2024

Faith’s Destination

Hebrews 12:1-2 [ESV] 1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a...

February 25, 2024

The Unshakeable

Hebrews 12:28-29 [ESV] 28 Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a...

March 10, 2024

Jesus Loves You

Hebrews 13:12 [ESV] 12 So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order...