(this transcript has been lightly edited for readability)
Hebrews is one of those very thorough handlings of the gospel in Scripture. I would liken Hebrews to Romans for its thoroughness. Romans has this central contrast between the law and grace, what the law isn’t able to do and what grace does. And Hebrews has a central contrast too; it’s between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant, the inadequacies of the Old Covenant and the fulfillment of the New Covenant in the Lord Jesus Christ.
To go after that, Hebrews essentially is organized by three questions, and these questions don't come in sort of chronological order, but they dot the whole of this book. The first question is, “Why do people need redemption?” The gospel really hinges on that question. If people are okay in and of themselves, then why redemption, why a Savior, why this plan that we have traced through all of these books of the Bible? Well, Hebrews presents people that are unclean, that are prone to wander, that are in bondage of the fear of death of the devil, that are prone to unbelief, that are rebellious.
In fact, if you take that collection of the way that Hebrews talks about people apart from grace, it really is a summary of those three words for sin: transgression, iniquity, and sin. Transgression being rebellion, iniquity being moral uncleanness, and sin pointing to inability. So, it's a very powerful argument that every human being is in need of redemption.
The second question is, “Why then is Jesus the hope of sinners?” And the argument in Hebrews is that Jesus is far superior to the Old Testament priests and institutions because Jesus is both God and man. It was a God-man needed for salvation. And because He is the God-man, He is able to overcome death and the devil, and becomes then for us, a sympathetic and understanding high priest.
I love that Hebrews presents Jesus as God's final word to us. It's like the author of Hebrews was saying. “Okay, it doesn't get any better than this. This is the zenith, this is the high point; this is Jesus, the superior one.”
And then there is a third question that really flows out of the first two. It is, “What are the dangers to those who believe?” Okay, let's say that I recognize my need for redemption; I recognize Jesus is the only Redeemer, what are the dangers? Well, it's a misunderstanding of what faith is. So, Hebrews has a lot to say about the nature of faith. It's a danger of a wandering heart, and so Hebrews has a lot to say about apostasy. And in Hebrews, you have some of the scariest warnings you find in all of Scripture for forsaking God.
There's a third danger; it’s the failure to persevere, to get weary, to get tired. And then finally, there's the danger of misunderstanding God's discipline; that God's discipline of the believer is not condemnation; our condemnation was carried by Jesus, but is correction for the purpose of righteousness. What an amazing piece of writing! It’s just so hard to do justice to Hebrews in such a short period of time.
But those three questions, “Why do people need redemption? Why is Jesus the hope of the sinners? What are the dangers to those who believe?” are three questions that we should go back to again and again and again and instill in our hearts a deep love for the God-man, the fulfillment, the superior one, the sympathetic high priest, Jesus!