Every day we are faced with choices and choosing Jesus is at the top of the list as a Christian. In this sinful broken world will you choose Jesus?
Will You Choose Jesus?
I’ve learned that the greatest usurper to God in my life isn’t the devil, but me
“The older I get the more I realize that perhaps the greatest usurper to God’s authority in my life isn’t the devil but me. And so I want to rule my life on my own directing God to get out of my way. I also seem to not have a problem placing expectations on God and so I want him to show up and I want him to be there for me, just in the right ways as I would need him to, but I take great issue when actually it’s the other way around.”
Topics & Timestamps
00:00 – One life and one soul
03:58 – Nothing is better than Jesus
11:44 – What are you allowing to become better than Jesus?
15:15 – Press through opposition
17:24 – Press through tradition
20:40 – Press through aspiration
23:11 – Are you seizing God’s help?
Top Quotes: Will You Choose Jesus
“We have one life to live and so we need to choose the things that will leave us better off and lead us to a better life.”
“I’ve learned that the greatest usurper to God in my life isn’t the devil, but me.”
“There are various areas in our lives where we have got to press through to experience Jesus in our lives”
Other Content On This Topic
Text: Hebrews 13: 22-25
Date preached: 21 February 2021
Location: Bryanston Bible Church
One Life And One Soul
If there were no obstacles in the way which of these options would you choose? travel around the world versus a cross-country road trip? Access to private versus public health care? Rent or own your dream home? A wedding at the courts versus at the most exotic venue imaginable and then lastly retirement in the inner city versus a beachside retirement? My guess is that whichever option you choose is probably because you would deem that option to be better than the other. The desire for better is such a powerful motivator for our lives it influences a lot of our choices every day. We just know and understand that there are some things that we can choose that will lead to a better life and while others will actually be detrimental to us and so we pick the things that we believe will leave us better off. Because we have one life to live and so it makes sense to choose the things that will lead us to have a better life. But we also have just one soul to care for if it makes sense that we will choose the things that will lead to a better life physically, then how much more than to choose the things that will also lead to better spiritual lives. And so pick the choice or the option that would be better for your soul. That is precisely what the book of Hebrews looks to try to help us with make the better choice for your soul in God
Now most new testament letters begin with a within a greeting in the front end telling us who wrote it to who and why but the book of Hebrews has no such greeting in the front end but only at the back end we found a final greeting. It is those verses at the back end that actually help us help us actually understand how we ought to receive this letter of Hebrews. And so come with me to Hebrews 13: 22-25. The author writes and he says, “I appeal to you brothers and sisters bear with my word of exaltation for I have written to you briefly. You should know that our brother timothy has been released with whom I shall see you if he comes soon. Greet all your leaders and all the saints those who come from Italy send you greetings. Grace be with all of you.” Now the author of Hebrews is unknown to us and it’s not even worth guessing because any evidence we have is just inconclusive but what we can know, the little bit we know about the author is that from chapter two is that he must have been close with the apostolic circle because he claims in chapter two to have received the gospel from the apostles. The audience that he is writing to is likely a predominantly Jewish Christian audience. Why? because throughout the letter the author just assumes that his readers would have would be well versed in the torah that is the old testament and in old covenant customs. Facing persecution and imprisonment for their faith some of them were being tempted to actually abandon their faith all together. And so what we have in the little Hebrews is a word of exaltation encouraging them in their faith and empowering their choices. This word of exaltation is simply this that nothing is better than Jesus. Nothing is better than Jesus therefore persevere by faith whatever may come your way.
Nothing Is Better Than Jesus
Now the author builds this exhortation throughout the whole letter very carefully by following this logic. if humanity is to know and follow after God then God must reveal himself in order to be known and establish his commands in order to be followed. And so by showing how Jesus is a better revelation of God and better than Moses the author actually argues by exhorting his audience to have confidence that nothing is better than Jesus in our pursuits of God. And so Jesus Christ is the better choice for your soul, the better choice for your soul. And so the first point of contact which the book this book letter or Hebrews will look to actually touch our lives is in our seriousness to prioritize Jesus. How serious would we be to prioritize Jesus. And so he will be asking us, “Will you be actually serious in your pursuit of God? And if your answer will be, “Yes.” Then it cannot just be something you’re prepared to claim that you’re serious about but it must be seen by how you serious you prioritize Jesus in everything you are and then everything you go on to do. Now no doubt this uh this statement that nothing is better than Jesus sounds like the right Christian thing to say. But is it really the reality of your walk with God?
Before you answer that just take note of these words in verse 22, “I appeal to you,” the author says “bear with my word of exhortation.” And so if he has to implore his readers to actually bear this word of exaltation that nothing is better than Jesus then it must mean that they must have been tempted to believe otherwise. And so you will be in good company if you’re tempted to believe that they are some other things better than Jesus in your life some other things worth pursuing trusting acting upon then depending on Jesus Christ alone. And so far from being actually condemned by the word of God you’re actually far more understood. Being encouraged being empowered to actually anchor yourself in Jesus Christ alone. And so since the beginning of the church Christians have always needed to be reminded that nothing is better than Jesus in our lives. That, that you have to ask yourself whether that’s the reality of your life shouldn’t actually discourage you but it should give you cause to seize the opportunity to re-anchor yourself in Jesus Christ.
What Are You Allowing To Become Better Than Jesus
Therefore ask yourself what is better than Jesus in my life right now what am I allowing to become better than Jesus in my life right now. For me, two tempting things come to mind. Number one, me. And so the older I get the more I realize that perhaps the greatest usurper to God’s authority in my life isn’t the devil but me. And so I want to rule my life on my own directing God to get out of my way I also see him not seem to not have a problem placing expectations on God and so I want him to show up and I want him to be there for me just in the right ways as I would need him to but I take great issue when actually it’s the other way around. When God starts to place expectations on me on how to live my life a life start to place expectation on the things that I do that’s when I want to rebel against him and even then question whether he has the authority to actually command or direct me to live in a particular way. And so then the truth is that most of the time I tend to believe or take myself to be better than Jesus in my life. And so no God I will tell you what is good or bad for Badi’s life. Now may not necessarily say those words out loud but sure live like it sometimes. does the same apply to you?
The second thing that I’m tempted with in my life is my stuff. By that I don’t just mean the things that I own I mean it broadly to include what I am like and what I like, what I am like what I like. And so I’ve been reflecting upon this recently and seeing in what seems to because quite kind of some trivial things in my life love that what I am actually like and what I like can actually become better than Jesus for me. And so let me give you an example. Late night binge watching of shows. And so I’m a night owl that’s what I’m like and so I can easily get caught into a vortex of watching episode of the episode of shows late at night and then get to bed way later than anyone ever should. And which then means I wake up way too tired to be of good to anybody yet alone God. And so forget pray prioritizing prayer or reading the bible in the morning now I’m just too tired for that stuff because of what I’ve been binging the night before. And also by the way what I like are shows that have got blood and gore, that’s just what I like. And so not binging on The Crown or Bridgeton or any of that kind of nonsense no I need something a bit with a bit more kick than those things and so that’s just what I am like which also doesn’t help. And so I need to stay away from that kind of stuff if I’m to actually pursue Jesus more and actually treat people around me like Jesus would. But I’m finding that what I am like and what I like can really get in the way of that. And yet every time that I choose in the moment to actually give into that stuff, and so stay up way later than I need to ever stay up which means then I wake up way too tired to be actually loving to those around me and so I wake up irritable and I do not want to connect or relate with the key relationships all around me. A petty decision, I know, of just staying up late watching another episode but it then lands up actually placing me in a place where I cannot love those that God has placed around me very well and honour him in the process. Small and a petty decision and yet one that shows in some way that I am allowing my stuff to become better than Jesus in my life.
And so what are you allowing to become better than Jesus in your life right now. Because if nothing is better than Jesus then we’ve got to fight in our faith to heed this word of exaltation from the book of Hebrews. And so wherever you’re watching this I literally want you to pause for a minute or two and ask yourself that question. What am I allowing to become better than Jesus in my life? Do some self interrogation over that question over your life and then bring those things before the Lord and say, “Lord here are all these things that I’m perhaps allowing to take over to replace the centrality of Jesus Christ in my life.” take two minutes to do that.
Back to verse 22, ” I appeal to you brothers and sisters bear with my word of exaltation for I have written to you briefly.” Now this is not a brief letter by any stretch of the imagination with 13 chapters to it and so what the writer is actually indicating by saying that is that actually much more could be said on this matter. That there is so much more to find in the exaltation that nothing is better than Jesus. it was Pete the guy who discipled me in in varsity as a when I was a young Christian who taught me this about the bible, that whenever God commands us to do something he commands because it is likely that we will not do what he’s commanding us to do unless he tells us to do it. And so for every command we found in the bible far from it revealing a God who wants to meddle in our lives and in our affairs no they are actually revealing an inherent area of weakness that we have for which we need God’s help for. And so the writer says, “I appeal to you bear with my word of exaltation.” The key word being bare and so I am begging you do this one thing, he is saying to us. And so this exaltation the exaltation does command to take action is actually revealing an area of weakness in his readers. And so you will be tempted not to press through not to dig deep to find so much more in this exaltation that nothing is better than Jesus and so that’s why you need me to encourage you and exhort you to pray through whatever you must, so that you will find so much more in Jesus Christ. And so what do you need to press through in your life so that you will truly discover the blessedness of Jesus in your life. What can’t you stand to bear as you look to pursue Jesus Christ and keep him at the centre of your life because nothing is better than Jesus.
Press Through Opposition
From what we can piece together from the original audience there are actually three particular areas where we’ve got to press through. We’ve got to press through to experience the blessings of Jesus in our lives. And so number one, opposition. And so as I said earlier some of the original audience were actually facing persecution and opposition for their faith in Jesus which was tempting some of them to actually abandon their faith altogether that is what opposition does and that’s why Christians have always been called to perseverance if they are to remain faithful for Christ in the world. We live in a part of the world, South Africa where opposition to our faith is actually non-violent. And so we don’t always recognize it and then as a result we don’t take the responsibility to press through it seriously. And so listen to me brother sister in Christ whenever you have felt like that being known as a Christian, as one who belongs to Jesus Christ will be a disadvantage to you, that you won’t perhaps be accepted, or hired promoted, befriended, invited, visited, engaged with, and received, and supported or whatever, and you would rather avoid any of those stuff than to stand firm as one who is known as belonging to Jesus Christ, you are under opposition. You are under opposition. therefore the question becomes will you choose to press through to discover the blessedness of Jesus Christ in that opposition you’re facing? that he is indeed the greatest treasure you could ever have.
Press Through Tradition
Second area, tradition. And so throughout the new testament we find Jewish Christians having to wrestle with which aspects of the custom culture and tradition that needed to give way to their newfound faith in Jesus Christ. And then which aspects of that culture and tradition could remain in Christ. Now that struggle is a struggle for every culture every tradition every theological persuasion under the sun. We all have to wrestle with those things. But unfortunately we tend to allow the benefits and the joys of our of our culture of a theological persuasion or of our tradition to start to become the only lens through which we determine Christian fidelity. So we start to allow that to become priority to just shape us in every way but as life would have it time will elapse, context will change and with time and context and with those changes where our lenses will start to become tested, we’ll start to become tested. And when our lenses start to become tested we have to do our very best to remain committed to Jesus Christ and Christ alone through all of that. And so we’re living perhaps in an age where we are seeing more overt and constant changes happening in our world. Now these changes that are happening all around us are advocating at worst that our Christian faith may no longer be relevant to a modern world or at best that it is just one of many opinions on the bookshelf of life if you’re into that kind of stuff. And so we are having to piece together those changes. Now the way forward through that will not be by just clinging on to the things about our theological persuasions or traditions that we have always known, cling on to that very tightly so totally in hopes that we will prevail through the day. No, we’ve got to allow those theological persuasions and tradition to come under review under the authority of Christ by the power of God’s word so that we will remain effective as Christians in a world that is constantly changing. Therefore let’s not be just champions of a particular tradition or theological persuasion just because we have always done it or like it that way no allegiance belongs to Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ alone. And then when we find ourselves we’re not our legions to Christ starts to press. on some of our theological persuasions and traditions we willingly submit them for review under the authority of Christ, with the help of God’s word so that we will remain effective as Christians to reach a dying world with the gospel.
Press Through Aspiration
The third area we see from the original audience is that of aspiration, aspiration. Now one of the reasons why so many of them were being tempted to actually abandon their faith altogether under the persecution they were facing was simply because they had better aspirations for their lives. And so think about it for a moment if your faith was the cause behind the opposition that you are now facing, or all your faith started to make you uncomfortable as they started to infringe on your way or life, wouldn’t you aspire for something better than that? That perhaps it might not be worth it going all in in this Jesus Christ stuff. Let me just be honest with you and tell you that there exist various versions and aspirations in my mind of a radically different life than the one I currently have. versions where I’m not married to the wife that I’m covenanted to. That we don’t have the boys that we are called to bear to parent. That I’m not at our local church serving in the role that I do. That I’m living in a different part of the world where I don’t have to face the challenges of our country. Now why do these versions and aspirations exist? Simply because they feel like they would be better than the life I currently have. But listen to me if nothing is better than Jesus and I am in Jesus and hopefully you are in Jesus as you’re watching this, then we must fight to push through whatever we must so that we would experience the blessedness of Jesus in the life he has given us and not pine after some other kind of life that he hasn’t called us to. That’s what it will look like for us to bear this word of exhortation over our aspirations in life. To fight to experience Christ in today in the here and now and not in tomorrow or whatever will come.
Are You Seizing God’s Help?
God commands so that in seeing our inherent weaknesses we would turn to him for help and he always provides his help. look at verses 23 to the end. “You should know that our brother timothy has been released with whom I shall see you if he comes soon. Greet all your leaders and all the saints. Those who come from Italy send you greetings. Grace be with all of you.” you’ve just got to love the way the way the personal touch with which this letter ends with mention of timothy’s release, the author’s impending visit to them and then also the fondness that must exist between leaders and congregants in a local church. And so to bear this word of the exhortation that nothing is better than Jesus we’ve got to seize God’s help in the following. And so number one, the Christian community that God places all around us. Did you see that in the text? And so you need the author of Hebrews to write to exalt you in in this and timothy will come soon to visit you and encourage you in this. you have your leaders shepherding you in all of this and then all around you are the saints holding you accountable to this. And by the way in case you forget the universal church sends the greeting they are also rooting for you in this exaltation. And so the family of faith is how God helps us to persevere in finding so much more in Jesus Christ, that’s God’s help that he is providing for us.
And so are you seizing his help in the fellowship and community of the believers that God is placing all around you. Are you connecting to a local church? Belonging to the life of a local church so that you will persevere and bear this word of exaltation that nothing is better than Jesus?
The second way God helps us is through the richness of his presence. Grace be with all of you is at the author ends. And so God’s riches and cross-expense is made available to you as you look to bear this word of exaltation that nothing is better than Jesus. And so in a sense God himself shows up to help you in this. And so will you step up and seize God’s help to discover that nothing is better than Jesus as you anchor yourself in Christ in Christ alone? may our journey through this letter of Hebrews cause you lead you to step up.
Let me pray for us. Father thank you for your word and how when we turned to it leads us to discover one and one only thing, that they can never be life apart from anything else or anyone else except for Christ and Christ alone. I pray that Lord that as we would journey through this letter of Hebrews time and time again will you reinforce and sear that to the depths of our soul. Because I know when we talk about nothing is better than Jesus especially for those of us who are in Christ to Jesus we feel like man it’s a message it’s a story it’s a person we have heard of before. And we long to perhaps move from those elementary things we consider, “oh yeah Christ Jesus,” elementary. What more? There is nothing more apart from Christ and Christ alone. Nothing else is better for us. And so Father my prayer for us as we journey through this letter will you affirm that in the hearts and the lives of those who would be watching or those who would be studying of those who will be searching for you through this letter. That you will lead us at a place where we will discover in Christ and Christ alone the fullness of your glory and grace towards us. And upon seizing that we will live lives that are worthy of Christ Jesus. lead us to a place Lord where we could truly say in our hearts and our lives and nothing is better than Jesus. It is in his name that we pray this. Amen