Worshiping Through Love
Radiant Church’s lead pastor, Keith Welton, delivers a sermon from Hebrews 13:1-6. He tells us of the five sacrifices we can make that are pleasing to God, draw others to him, and help our walk with Christ be fulfilling and fruitful. Below, you can watch our whole service, or listen to the sermon audio, and access the written transcript.
To listen to last week’s message on Hebrews 12:14-29, you can access the audio or video here.
Sunday, January 22, 2023
Let brotherly love continue. 2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. 3 Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. 4 Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. 5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:1-6 ESV)
We are winding down our series in the book of Hebrews. The writer has spent a great deal of time in this book showing that Jesus is the fulfillment of all that was promised in the Old Testament and that believers should not be looking to go backward to the glory days. Something better than Moses and Abraham and David has come. Jesus is better, his covenant is better, and you should not sit back indifferent and apathetic, but you ought to pay attention and strive to honor him and enter into the glory that is to come.
Trusting in Jesus is a massive reorientation of your entire life. Some people view religion as a list of things to do. Religion is a social-cultural system of designated behaviors and practices. Religion can be the observance of practices and behaviors without the heart. What Christianity is about is the engagement of the heart, soul and mind in love and devotion to Jesus. And it shifts the center of everything. Like the Copernican revolution where they realized the sun is the center of the universe, and not the Earth. We make Jesus the center of our world and not ourselves. It means everything revolves around him, and just as the orbit of planets made sense with the sun at the center, so also everything else in life makes sense when Jesus is the center. Hebrews has focused our attention on this. In the last chapter of Hebrews, several remaining issues are addressed. They are concluding exhortations to continue in things that followers of Christ are to continue in. It may not be as big of a topic as dealt with earlier, but they are clearly connected to them. We are going to look at these.
- Love Your Church Family
v1. Let brotherly love continue.
Keep loving Each Other. Jesus said people will know you are my disciples by the love you have for one another. It is the love that is shared among believers. The New Testament exhorts Christians to love one another, serve one another, encourage one another, correct one another.
Brotherly. It is a familial love. Philadelphia. Philos-Adelphia. For men and women. “the love which Christians cherish for each other as `brethren’” The church is not just an institution/corporation. It is like a family and it is to be characterized by love.
Continue. It’s an interesting phrasing here. The subject is brotherly love. The verb is abide, or remain. And the verb is in the imperative. We need to know we are commanded to love. But if you love only because you are commanded you have missed something. It is to be a part of who we are and with us wherever we go. This is what Christians are to do. They are to let brotherly love abide and flourish in their community.
I think one of the big challenges for the church today is to love each other. People are not learning how to love others in school. It’s not on television shows. It’s not the dominant theme of movies. Certainly not a biblical love. You learn to love fully, completely, and truly by following Jesus. And he will put you in hard circumstances
Church is to be known as a community focused on Jesus and their love for others. A love that starts with those in the community. Who in the church knows you love them?
Let’s get into some other ways of life that flow from this familial, brotherly love.
-Bear patiently with deficiencies. Jesus gathered his disciples around him and he taught them. He lived with them, cared for them, endured their dumb remarks, poor decisions, and all their failings. He gently instructed them and helped them take the next step in their walk. Peter would grow strong in his faith and give his life for the gospel, but remember that at one time he abandoned Jesus at the questioning of a young girl and the one who didn’t understand what Jesus came to do, the one who also refused to eat with gentiles because he wanted to impress others of his own race. Jesus loved him and bore patiently with his deficiencies.
This Hebrew church has had disappointments in life. Persecuted, forced to sell property, and doesn’t know how to move forward. Some want to go back to the law and Moses. Probably debate, heated debate, and that is why they need to love one another.
-Be present. Much of success in life is showing up. You don’t quit. You don’t stop. People say that in business all the time. Same thing in loving others. You show up. You are there for each other. It shows love to others when you give up work to be present with them. Certainly true in church. Be there. When you’re a no- show, it limits everything.
-Not easily angered. One thing I think people need to grow in love is “not being easily angered” (1 Cor 13:). People are too easily angered.
People get offended with church. Some who were not greeted the way they hoped, the church failed to do something, the music wasn’t just right. We say all the time we are not a perfect church. People want to be received as being imperfect but don’t want to receive anything less than perfect love from others. If we were perfect you would not have the opportunity to grow in loving others.
Comments from people who are more informed doctrinally, but who are not mature. People who say I want a church that emphasizes this doctrine, and do small groups this way, and the pastors teaches like this, and there is this type of people. Often thought through maturely, but the immaturity is that you want a church you love because it meets all your expectations and desires. Will always be gaps between your hopes and expectations and your experience. Love should cover that. Maturity loves the immature. Churches always have a need for growth.
There is no perfect church. Even if a church aspired to all of these it would not be realized in absolutes. Will you let brotherly love remain and abide? Will you love others when they offend and disappoint? Will you love others when they don’t love you?.
Church will not live up to your expectations. Love should cover over that.
-“He who loves his dream of a community more than the Christian community itself becomes a destroyer of the latter, even though his personal intentions may be ever so honest and earnest and sacrificial.” P27.
-‘It is not simply to be taken for granted that the Christian has the privilege of living among other Christians. Jesus Christ lived in the midst of his enemies. At the end, all his disciples deserted him. On the cross he was utterly alone, surrounded by evildoers and mockers. For this cause he had come to bring peace to the enemies of God. So the Christian, too, belongs not in the seclusion of the cloistered life but in the thick of foes.” p17
Don’t love your idea of church more than your church. Love those around you. Be with them. Get to know them. Bear patiently with shortcomings just as God does with you.
- Entertain Strangers
We are to love the family. We are to love those outside the family.
Love of strangers, do not neglect.
2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
Philoxenia. Philo Xenia. Love Stranger.
Entertain. a) active, of hospitality, receive as a guest, entertain, lodge. They were to do this for strangers. It is a way of love. Open up yourself, your house, your life. It is hard, and it is sacrificial. We live in a time where our homes today are as big as a village in Jesus’s day, but people are unwilling to let anyone in. People live in million dollar homes and they have no one to talk to. Poor stewardship. Don’t necessarily go smaller. Get your money’s worth out of that house. Steward for the kingdom of God.
Entertain others. Let them get to know you and see your wedding picture from decades ago. Show them your hobbies and get to know theirs. Be a blessing. Tell them what God has done in your life.
Yes, use discernment. I know you can’t open your house to just anybody and there are things you need to do. Be wise, but be generous.
Don’t keep at arm’s length. Get to know people in different seasons. Invite that younger couple over. They would love to know someone in the church sees them and cares about them. Invite the older couple over. A wealth of wisdom and love are in this room. Take advantage of it.
Don’t worry that the house isn’t perfect. Best advice we got on entertaining: If you wait for it to be clean you will never have anyone over. With four kids we decided a while back we want the house to be presentable, but it’s not realistic to entertain consistently if our expectations are too great. And we may have let things slide too far at times. There was a time one of the kids was told to bring his laundry down. So he threw it over the stair railing and got a “garment” stuck on the chandelier. It was pretty high up and required a ladder and I couldn’t get to it right away. After a few days, we kind of got used to it. Spontaneously told some friends to come over. And it wasn’t until after they left that we realized his undergarment was still hanging from n t he foyer chandelier. They didn’t say anything, and we didn’t ask. It’s ok. If they never want to talk to us again because of that then we didn’t have a real relationship.
Always more blessed to give than to receive. Some entertained angels. Never know how you might be blessed by others.
- Remember those in Prison
Remember those in prison. Any body come to church thinking about those in prison?.
[Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. (Heb 13:3 NIV)
He just kind of throws this out. It shouldn’t surprise you. Jesus said to do to others as you would have them do to you. And that the greatest of all would be the servant of all. We are to care for those who have no one to look after them. That is what we would want if we were in their shoes.
We should be concerned with justice. We should be concerned that people get a fair hearing, fair trial. Innocent until proven guilty. Even those who are guilty, we should care about.
Now it is very likely some of these have been imprisoned unjustly for their faith.
Might treat people as out of sight and out of mind. Might say, “Well they made bad decisions. They made their bed and get to lay in it.” Well, you have done the same thing, but God has come to you to show you grace.
For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. (Heb 10:34 ESV)
Knowing God’s grace to us should lead us to show that grace to others. To strangers and to those in prison. Either rightly in prison or wrongly. We want to see justice.
Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
- Honor Marriage
Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. (Heb 13:4 ESV)
Honor marriage. Abrupt change.
Marriage is to be considered “valuable, precious, costly, of great worth or value.” Used to describe kings and renowned people. Doesn’t happen much today. People will say other things about marriage, like it. It being a drag and disappointment. Marriage is awesome. It is a gift. It is a responsibility.
Marriage be should be undefiled. The word in Greek is koitus. Marriage bed gets at it but it is clearly talking about sexual relations.
People take this a couple ways. Some would see this being an outdated part of the Bible that is to be discarded. I don’t think that is the right view. I believe God created people to honor him and all things find their purpose in him. Sex is a great gift that is given by God for the purpose of enjoyment and procreation. It is the joining of one man and one woman into a relationship in which they become one. They are connected physically, emotionally, spiritually. Sex is a sacred act. It is to be shared only with the one you are married to. Part of the reason for this is because of the way it binds people so closely.
Keller, Reason for Marriage.
C.S. Lewis “The monstrosity of sexual intercourse outside of marriage is that those who indulge in it are trying to isolate one kind of union, the sexual, from all other kinds of union which were intended to go along with it and make up the total union.”
To have physical union without whole- life union is a lack of integrity. And if you have sex inside a covenant, then the sex becomes a covenant renewal ceremony. It becomes a commitment apparatus. You’re getting married all over again. You’re giving yourself all over again. It’s incredibly deepening and solidifying and nurturing. What you’re saying when you have sex is, “I belong exclusively to you and I’m acting it out.” That’s what sex is. I’m giving you my body as a token for how I’m giving you my life. I’m opening to you physically as a token for how I’ve opened to you in every other way. That’s how it’s supposed to work. And then sex becomes a deepening thing, a nurturing thing. It’s like covenant cement…like covenant glue. It’s a covenant renewal ceremony.
But when you use sex outside of marriage, what are you saying? You’re saying, I love the feeling I get when I’m with you. You’re taking, not giving. You’re receiving and yet holding on to your life. You’re holding on to your independence, so you’re receiving and you’re not giving. It’s a consumer good. And when you use sex like that, you damage its ability to be a commitment apparatus.
for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.
There are consequences to this. Sexual immorality is a significant sin. In doing so you sin against God. You sin against your partner. The only way we can regain purity is through Christ. He can cleanse us, but we have to come to him. Want to love others then treat them with purity.
Keep the marriage bed pure. You say, but I am single. Yes, keep the marriage bed pure and undefiled.
Pornography is a billion dollar industry. Don’t give in to that. There are spiritual effects that it has on you. You are transgressing God’s commands. Wanting gratification without having to care for another person. Feeding your lusts and pride through it. Singles, the best thing you can do to prepare for marriage is to honor marriage now. Honor God now.
Couples honor marriage. Don’t give up on it. Don’t neglect it. Marriage is good. It is hard. God will refine you in ways you could never dream. You never would have thought how difficult it would be. Never thought you would think so differently. Love is powerful. We love and we expect things in return. When those things are not met, it’s amazing how upset you can get at one another. You have to learn to communicate. You have to learn about your spouse. You have to learn about yourself.
I realize many people here have been in less than ideal situations with marriage. I didn’t grow up with this conviction about marriage and didn’t see it in my home. It was foreign, I discovered it in church and it blew me away. If you have been there, let me encourage you, marriage is good and worthy of honor. If you are not in a good place with your marriage, if you are bitter at your spouse, if you had a failed marriage. God has a good purpose in marriage. If you are experiencing or have experienced something other than that, then the fault its not in God’s plan of marriage, but in your experience of marriage. And I point that out so you know you can change. You can experience something good. You are in a room of people in which many people have messed up, but have found grace and hope. We are here trying to encourage one another to find God’s grace and mercy and good purpose in marriage.
- Avoid the Love of Money
[Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, (Heb 13:5 ESV)
Α φιλ άργυρος – love of silver. Money
Keep this from your life.
Content with things present. active: be enough, be sufficient, be adequate with the things being present. Don’t want what you don’t have.
Love of money can run you ragged. You live above your means so you have to work more to get more. Enslaved not by other people but your own appetite. Your wants write checks you can’t cash.
Being content with what you have. Psalm 16:3– the boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places. Surely I have a delightful inheritance.
When you love money, you typically love people less. I thought I loved people and didn’t love money and then I had kids. My shiny new precious things, they ruined. When your toddler throws your laptop across the room, when …
Also, thinking about having people over. Stuff gets dirty and broken. Gets used. Are you thinking about how it is affecting your pocket book now or are you thinking about what you are investing in for the future?. You are going to sacrifice things you love for the things you love most. How are you being generous with your time and money for the sake of God’s kingdom?
[“The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”
one who provides help or assistance – ‘helper, patron (in the sense of one who supports a person or endeavor)
God made Even to be a helper for Adam. A spouse is good, but it is not your ultimate helper. Gen 2:20
Moses said it in Exo 15:2. It wasn’t Aaron, it wasn’t his staff, or sandals or noble birth, or education. It was the Lord. The Lord has provided everything we need.
- What are the five exhortations given in this passage? What do they each mean?
- How does knowing the Lord as your Helper encourage you in all of these areas?
- Which areas do you most want to grow in? What action steps can you take to grow in those areas?
Let brotherly love continue. 2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. 3 Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. 4 Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. 5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.