Applying Christ’s Supremacy: Learning From Hebrews

(posted by Jerry Bilkes) article will be in the Puritan Reformed Journal Spring 2010.

Each one of these points has import for Christian preaching. Preaching ought i) to adduce and proclaim God’s truth from Scripture; ii) to focus on Christ and salvation through Him alone;  iii) to drive the message home to the hearers through application; and iv) to communicate the radical call of the gospel with earnestness. We could expand each of these points showing how the epistle to the Hebrews models this for us. In this article, I wish to examine only the third point, namely, how precisely the author of Hebrews applies the supremacy of Christ.  In other words, how does he bring the glory of Christ’ supremacy to bear specifically and concretely upon his hearers in masterful avenues of application?

The doctrine of the supremacy of Christ over all things is the glorious theme of the epistle to the Hebrews.  It is announced in the opening verses (Hebrews 1:1-3), and functions much like a snowcapped mountain peak. No matter what verse of Hebrews you read, whenever you look up – there is this awe-inspiring sight of Christ’s supremacy. Yet, the doctrine of Christ’s supremacy is more than an imposing vista that takes one’s breath away. Through exposition and application, the snowcap feeds countless rivers, waterfalls, and streams that each conduct the glory of Christ to the faith and life of the church. For this reason, the theme of this epistle is more properly:  The Supremacy of Christ Expounded and Applied. It operates as follows: in exposition, doctrine is released from the watershed of truth; in application this same truth travels the rivers and streams, whereby it reaches the remote stretches of land. This whole process lends to the epistle to the Hebrews a great force that ought to model for us how preaching should apply the supremacy of Christ to all the church in all of life.

The author to the Hebrews used three types of speech when applying his doctrines.

  1. Inference:  drawing a logical conclusion (E.g., “Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed,” 2:1;  “Let us therefore fear,” 4:1;  “Let us therefore come boldly,” 4:16)
  2. Interrogation: calling into question or raising the possibility of a certain case (E.g., “if we hold fast,” 3:6;  “if we hold the beginning of our confidence,” 3:14)
  3. Identification:  denoting one or other value judgment as true (E.g., “We are persuaded better things of you,” 6:9;  “ye are dull of hearing,” 5:11)

These are the formal categories.  However, there may be more helpful material categories.  Let us survey a number of these applications to discover their inner mechanics, and see how they model for us how applications should operate in preaching. I believe there are essentially four kinds:

  1. Better Attention
  2. Closer Attachment
  3. Greater Assurance
  4. Further Ambition

 

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