When we learn to depend on God's work in us, we learn to be perfectly peaceful, calm, undisturbed by circumstances, trusting,
powerful, effective, accomplishing things for Christ's sake. That is rest.
A devotion introduction for December
A group of Christians were gathered in a home discussing the state of affairs of the world. They commented on the fears, the tensions, the sense of futility that prevails in so many circles these days. The question arose:
What can we do about this? As Christians, they knew the answer to the world's problems, but the problem was:
How to make the world believe the answer? Among them was a young Christian who was troubled by the discussion. With a concerned look on his face, he said,
Why doesn't the world believe what we have to say? Then he added,
I think it's because so many Christians don't act like they believe it themselves. Then he asked the logical, but thorny, question:
How can we make Christians believe what they believe?
That is the very theme of the book of Hebrews: How to make Christians believe. This is what the world is waiting to see and what the epistle was written to effect. It is addressed to a group of Jewish Christians who had begun to drift, to lose their faith. They had lost all awareness of the relevancy of their faith to the daily affairs of life. They had begun to drift into outward formal religious performance, and to lose the inner reality. Doubts were creeping into their hearts from some of the humanistic philosophies that abounded in the world of their day, as they abound in the world of our day. Some of them were about to abandon their faith in Christ, not because they were attracted again by Jewish ritual and ceremony, but because of persecution and pressure. They felt it was not worthwhile; they were losing too much, and that it was possible that they had been deceived and the message of Christ was not true after all.
No one knows exactly where these Christians lived. Some feel this letter was written to Hebrew Christians living in the city of Rome. Others believe it was written to believers in Jerusalem. That is my own personal conviction. If anyone wished to influence the world of Jewish Christians, surely that would be the place to start.
No one knows for certain who wrote the letter, either. In the King James version it says,
The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews. It was a favorite jest in seminary to ask,
Who wrote the Epistle of Paul to the Hebrews, no one knows for sure. If you read this letter in English you are almost sure that Paul wrote it, since so many of the thoughts are obviously Pauline. But if you read it in Greek you are equally certain that Paul did not write it, for the language used is different from the other letters of Paul. There have been many guesses throughout the centuries, including Luke, Silas, Peter, Apollos, Barnabas, and even Aquila and Priscilla. Some have felt that Priscilla wrote it; if so, this would be the first letter of the New Testament written by a woman. It is my own conviction that Paul wrote it in Hebrew while he was in prison in those two years in Caesarea after his visit to Jerusalem, and that it was translated by Luke into Greek and this is the copy that has come down to us today.
Whoever the writer was he sees one thing very clearly, that Jesus Christ is the answer to every human need. No book of the New Testament focuses upon Christ like the book of Hebrews. It is the clearest and most systematic presentation of the availability and adequacy of Jesus Christ in the whole of the Bible. It presents Christianity as the perfect and final religion, simply because the incomparable person and work of Jesus Christ permits men free and unrestricted access to God. In every age that is man's desperate need.