The Great Exchange: My Sin for His Righteousness
a collaborative work by Jerry Bridges and Bob Bevington

Chapter 17

Hebrews

 

Christ’s Ministry as High Priest

 

1. Jewish priests typically spent their time serving at the temple in Jerusalem.  Jesus’ earthly ministry, however, was not centered on temple service and yet the writer of Hebrews tells us that Jesus was a high priest.  If you were a first century Jew, how receptive would you be to the description of Jesus as a high priest?  According to the authors, what sets Jesus apart as a high priest?

 

2.  One of the main responsibilities of the high priest was to offer the annual sacrifice on the Day of Atonement.  Christ, depicted as a high priest, offers a singular sacrifice, Himself.  What is the result of Christ’s atonement as to the redeemed, the priesthood and Christ?

 

3.  The author of Hebrews depicts the Old Testament sacrificial system as a shadow of the forthcoming atonement.  Typically, a shadow isn’t what we think of as what we first experience, except, perhaps, when something is approaching us.  May that be why God gave the sacrificial system first as opposed to starting with the crucifixion?  What would it look like if the crucifixion occurred right after the Fall?

 

4.  The shadow of the atonement was sufficient to provide a ceremonial cleansing for Israel and access to God only through the high priest.  How much more of a cleansing did the atonement provide?  What kind of access to God did the atonement provide?

 

5.  Receiving the righteousness of God as part of the great exchange grants a redeemed sinner access to God.  The Old Testament sacrificial system did not accomplish this, nor did it pretend to grant it.  Without the righteousness of God, is it possible for any person to have access to God?  Why/why not?

 

 

Christ: The Great High Priest

 

1.  The authors indicate that there were two priesthoods, the Levitical and the eternal and royal line of Melchizadek.  The Levitical priesthood was ever-present to first century Jews, but how much exposure to a priest of Melchizadek would they have had?  Would they have been looking for a Messiah that was of Melchizadek’s line?  Would they have been looking for a Messiah of David’s line?  Was David a priest? If so, of what priestly line was David?

 

2.  What are the purposes behind each of the priestly lines?  Could Messiah have been only from one of the priestly lines and still have been a perfect sacrifice, able to save to the uttermost?  Why/why not?

 

3.  What is the import of Messiah’s humanity?  What is the import of Messiah’s divinity?

 

4.  Is Messiah only able to have mercy on sinners because he “put on flesh and dwelt among us?”

 

5.  Does Messiah’s humanity aid our understanding of God or does it aid God’s understanding of us?

 

6.  In Genesis 15, Abraham is the recipient of an oath or promise of God.  The writer of Hebrews tells us that a similar oath has made Jesus Christ a High Priest forever.  Abraham believed God’s oath and it was credited to him as righteousness.  If you believe God’s oath about Christ and His work, what is credited to you?

 

7. The Old Testament sacrifices were of sheep and goats.  Christ’s sacrifice of Himself and His blood is perfect.  Does that which is perfect ever produce anything other than or less than perfection?

 

8.  If Christ’s sacrifice and His work are perfect, then how perfectly are you saved, redeemed, rescued and delivered?  How perfectly do you experience the benefits of being so?  If there is a lack of perfection in your experience or Christian life, is it due to the absence of perfection on Christ’s behalf?

 

 

Purified, Sanctified and Made Perfect

 

1. Purity seems like a concept that we should readily understand, and yet, it’s meaning somehow eludes us.  As one living under the curse, purity does not come naturally; rather, it is developed within us supernaturally.  Outside of the curse of sin, does purity have any meaning?  Does it only have meaning when it stands in contrast to something else?

 

2.  The Bible teaches that purity comes through the shedding of blood.  As earlier discussed, the blood of Christ is perfect and perfectly redeems, as well as purifies sinners that place their faith in Christ.  Is it possible to obtain redemption and purification without shedding blood?  If so, what would such a teaching then indicate about the sacrifice and work of Christ? 

 

3.  Again, the meaning of a simple enough word, sanctify, can be rather elusive.  Sanctify means to be “set apart” as something is designated for special service, such as a communion cup versus an ordinary coffee cup.  The challenge arises in that a cup is not animated.  In other words, a cup has no will of its own.  You, however, on account of your will and on account of being in a world under the curse, experience sanctification very differently from a holy object.  For example, God declares the cup holy and it is.  It doesn’t think, “isn’t there a better way to be holy than this,” or “I don’t want to be used for something special, like communion,” or “I’m not so sure that being holy is all it’s cracked up to be.” God, on account of Christ’s sacrifice and life, declares redeemed sinners holy, ones that are “set apart.”  What are the ways or stages that a redeemed sinner becomes sanctified or set apart?  Is it difficult for you to realize your sanctification on a daily basis? What keeps your daily experiences from matching up with God’s declaration?  What are your responsibilities in experiencing sanctification on a daily basis?  What are God’s responsibilities?

 

4.  Again, language is a funny thing.  “To be made perfect” may conjure up thoughts of an opportunity to take a make-up test and to get a perfect score.  In another context, in may connote a perfect sculpture, meal or evening.  In Hebrews, the author emphasizes that “made perfect” concerns completeness as in completing a circle or a how a husband and wife complete each other.  Our union with Christ is being made perfect, just as our sanctification is.  God has designed us to cry out to Him, “you complete me!”  If so, who does the completing?  Does God ever say to us, “you complete Me?”  Examine the different ways the phrase, “you complete me,” can be read or interpreted.   (Apologies to fans or non-fans of the movie, “Jerry Maguire.”)

 

 

Hebrews 2

 

1. Earlier we discussed being “made perfect.”  In Hebrews 2:9-10, the author declares that Christ was made perfect by His suffering.  Does that mean that Christ was less than perfect without suffering?  What is the author of Hebrews teaching us in this passage?

 

2.  The authors indicate that the tiny word, “for,” is representative of the exchange of the sins of the redeemed for the righteousness of Christ.  Examine the Greek words used in passages such as Romans 5:6 and I Peter 3:18.  (www.e-sword.net is a great resource for doing this)  Is the English translation “for” adequate to convey what Paul and Peter are saying in these passages?  How else could you translate these passages?

 

3.  Ironically, the authors proclaim that it is through Christ’s death that redeemed sinners gain victory over death and not by virtue of His resurrection.  If His death accomplished such a great victory, then what did His resurrection accomplish for Him and for you?

 

4.  If God has assigned responsibilities to Satan, then from where does Satan’s power arise or his ability to strike fear in the hearts of men?  What power of Satan does Christ destroy and when does He do so?

 

5. Earlier we discussed how God seeks to be in community with us.  Does Satan seek to be in community with anyone?  Does he care to be with anyone?  If Satan is a ruler or prince, does he long to be with his subjects?  What kind of a ruler do you suppose him to be?

 

6.  The Christian has a unique hope when facing death.  The stories recounted in Foxe’s Book of Martyrs and Hebrews Chapter 11 are stirring.  Several Christian organizations report that more Christians have been martyred in the last 100 years than in the previous 1900.  Consider reading some of the stories of martyrs as a means of encouraging you in your Christian walk.  You might start with www.persecution.com

 

 

Hebrews 5

 

1.  The authors pose a question about how did Christ; although perfect and sinless, learn obedience?  Do you agree with their answer?  If not, then how would you answer this question in light of Christ’s divinity?

2. In Hebrews, Christ is depicted as the captain and author of our faith.  Is there a meaningful distinction between being captain and author?  If so, what are the distinctions?

 

3.  If the saved are only those who obey Christ, then what is secured first, obedience or salvation?  Does Jesus’ teaching that if you love me, you will obey me have any bearing on your answer? (See John 14:15)

 

 

Hebrews 9

 

1.  Christ’s sacrifice of Himself wasn’t at the earthly Holy of Holies, but was in its heavenly precursor.  The earthly sacrifices of goats and calves provided a ceremonial cleansing, but what kind of cleansing did Christ’s blood provide?

 

2.  The authors emphasize the striking parallels between the Old Testament sacrifice on the Day of Atonement and Christ’s death on the cross and His sprinkling of His blood at the heavenly Holy of Holies.  Does is surprise you that what is in Heaven has been so accurately reproduced by man in the Temple?  (See Exodus 25-28)

 

3.  According to the authors, holding an accurate Biblical view is essential to understanding the Atonement, as well as maximizing one’s enjoyment of God.  In your experience, what is your greatest stumbling block to enjoying God?

 

4.  The blood of goats and calves didn’t remove the moral stain of sin, but it did restore Old Testament worshippers ceremonial position before God.  Christ’s blood removes the moral stain of sin and can cleanse a redeemed sinner’s conscience.  Is human blood that much more powerful than that of animals?  What is the difference between Christ’s blood and that of animals?  Is blood the only difference?

 

5.  Besides removing our moral stain, what other benefits does the Atonement provide?

 

6.  Even though forgetting one’s sin is difficult, isn’t not sinning even more so?  In this life, does one ever stop sinning?  If not, then how does a redeemed sinner overcome sin?

 

7.  The authors distill “clear conscience serving” into five steps.  Are any of these steps evident in your life?  If not, what is missing in order for you to incorporate these principles into your daily walk with the LORD?

 

 

Hebrews 10

 

1.  In your opinion, just what is a “clear conscience?”  Is it forgetting sins committed or wrongs done against us?  Does it involve forgetting sins committed and wrongs done against us?  If forgetfulness doesn’t make the grade, then how do we obtain a clear conscience?

 

2.  The writer of Hebrews indicates that the first covenant is abolished by the second.  Does that mean that God was experimenting with the first and thought a “do-over” was necessary?  Just what does it mean that the first covenant (Old Testament laws and sacrificial system) is abolished?

 

3.  Positionally, progressively and finally.  Just what are these adverbs describing?  Why is it important to even make these distinctions?  Isn’t God able to speak a word and make us holy, pure and sanctified?  Why the delay?  What purpose, if any, does it serve?

 

4.  If the original Decalogue was written by the hand of God on stone tablets, why would He need or want to write the law upon hearts of flesh?  That doesn’t sound as permanent as stone.  What is the importance of placing God’s law in man’s heart?

 

5.  Under the Old Covenant sacrificial system was anything put under God’s footstool?  In other words, did the Old Covenant sacrificial system defeat anything?  Why/why not?

 

6. In contrast, what does Christ’s sacrifice defeat?  What is placed under God’s footstool on account of Christ’s sacrifice?

 

7.  How complete is Christ’s victory?  Is His victory evident in your life?  Why/why not?  Is His sacrifice lacking in any way?  In what way is Christ’s victory over sin and death not fully evident?

 

8.  In Hebrews 10:19-20 what is the “confidence” of which the author writes?  What is its basis or foundation?  What indwells or inspires this confidence?  Does this confidence indwell and inspire you?  Why/why not?

 

9.  Is this confidence something that anyone can muster on his own?  In other words, can an ordinary human muster sufficient courage to come before a holy, perfect and just God? (Oh, and if you think that a “loving God” welcomes everyone, then, perhaps, you missed the earlier point about how God’s character traits are fully complementary to each other at all times.)

 

 

Hebrews 13 

 

1.  The Levitical priests had no inheritance in Israel as no land was allotted to them.  It was their duty to serve the LORD.  They were allowed to eat from some of the sacrifices.  Jesus draws a parallel with His sacrifice and the First Century Jews miss His point entirely.  Today, we celebrate communion as a picture of us uniting with Christ and His sacrifice.  If redeemed sinners are a “royal priesthood,” then does the analogy also hold that we, like the Levitical priests, have no inheritance in this world?

 

2.  If your inheritance is not in this world, then how should you view the things of this world?  What do you need to do to avoid the allure of the “lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh and the pride of life?” (See I John 2:16 KJV)

© Copyright 2007, Jerry Bridges and Robert Bevington, All Rights Reserved.

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