When I was still a teenager, I usually attend conferences about gifts and prophecies. I remember there was this conference that invited three foreign prophets who are Saddhu Salvaraj, Vincent Salvakumar and Neville Johnson. Saddhu Salvaraj is the prophet who allegedly predicted the coming of the typhoon Yolanda in 2013. In the that conference, Vincent Salvakumar, while on the stage, saw an angel coming down from heaven carrying a scroll. When he opened the scroll, it showed seven names of cities and a municipality, where the spiritual revival in the Philippines will start. One of the places mentioned in that scroll is the Municipality of Pateros, the place where I live. I was so hyped at that time that I even got a copy of the transcript of the entire conference. I read their prophesies in the transcript several times and I even taught the content of the transcript in the bible studies that I was handling at that time.
Also, during my college years, we go to prophetic worship services where you can expect to get a special revelation. During the worship service, while the music is at the height of its momentum and while emotions are high, the pastor will stand in front of the stage and would give random prophesies to the audience. Sometimes they would point to the person who is the object of the prophesy, but most of the time they just say that it is for someone in side the worship hall. Then after the worship service, we wait in line to talk to the pastors and worship leaders to have them pray for us and may be give us a little bit more of these special revelations.
Looking back at those days, I ask myself why was I looking so much for “a word from God”. At that time, I was already studying the Bible, teaching the Bible in the pulpit and quoting scriptures in my day- to-day conversations with friends. But when I see Christians who seems to have direct access to God and can receive special revelation from Him, I see them as someone who is on a different spiritual level. While feeling this way, I ignore the fact that the complete, sufficient and authoritative word of God is just in my hands.
Behind these longing to receive a special revelation from God is the unconscious belief that the Scripture is insufficient. I said unconscious because I never argued against the sufficiency and completeness of the Scriptures before, but the way I search for new revelations outside Scripture shows that I really don’t believe in this doctrine.
In Hebrews 1:1-4, the author of book tells us that although God spoke to His people through different means and agents in the past, in the last days He has spoken to us through His Son. The Son is the final and supreme agent of revelation in the last days and aside from Him and His complete revelation of God’s plan of redemption, we should no longer be expecting a newer revelation from anyone else. After God has sufficiently revealed to us His complete plan of redemption through His Son, we can reasonably conclude that He will no longer be sending lesser agents of revelations.
In this afternoon’s sermon, we will be discussing two sermon points, 1.) God’s Supreme Son; and 2.) Sufficiency in the Son and in the Scripture. Before we proceed, let’s go to the Lord in prayer.
I. God’s Supreme Son
1Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. – Hebrews 1:1-4
The text we just read is an exordium or an introduction to the whole book of Hebrews. The first four verses of Hebrews show us the main idea of the entire book, that God has spoken through His Son and that the Son is superior to all persons, heavenly beings, rituals, institutions and previous means of revelation and redemption.
The first 2 verses presented us a series of contrast about how God spoke to us then and now. The first one we can see is a contrast in era. Verse 1 mentions long ago, which means the time frame when the revelations in the Old Testament was given by God to His people. Verse 2, on the other hand, mentions in these last days. This does not pertain to the end of the world but to the era which was ushered by the death and resurrection of Christ. The last days is the time between the first and second coming of Christ where we are living in right now.
The second contrast is on the recipients of God’s special revelation. Verse 1 mentions “to our fathers”, pertaining to the patriarchs or the Jewish ancestors. Verse 2, on the other hand, says that in the last days, God speaks to us. Before, God only gives His special revelation to a specific group of people, namely the Jews, but now, God is speaking to all kinds of people from different races and places. In other words, God gives His special revelation now to both Jews and Gentiles.
Third, is the contrast in agents. Previously, God spoke to His people through the prophets and then later on through the prophetic writings. But in the last days, God speaks to us through His Son, Jesus Christ. And lastly, the number of ways by which God speaks to His people. Long ago, God spoke to His people at many times and many ways. God spoke to Israel through dreams and visions, burning bush, pillar or fire, speaking donkey, writings on the wall etc. but now, God speaks only through one means, only through his Son Jesus Christ. All of these four contrasts lead us to one glorious conclusion that will be spelled in the next two verses, the superiority of Christ as the final agent of God’s revelation and redemption.
Now let’s examine Hebrews 1:1-4 according to its structure. The exordium of the book of Hebrews is written in a form of a chiasm or a sandwich. The first layer of the sandwich can be found in verse 1 up to the 1st phrase of verse 2 (upper first layer) and then verse 4 (lower first layer).
The upper first layer of the sandwich reads “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son” while the first lower layer reads “having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs”. The theme that the first layer of the chiasm enunciates is the supreme revelation through the Son. Such is the case because Jesus is superior over the previous agents of revelation namely the prophets in the Old Testament and the angels. Although angels did not write any part of the Scripture, many times in the Bible we can see that God used them as messengers and bearer of the messages of God to men. Aside from the fact that the Son is superior to the prophets and the angels because of His infinite worth and dignity, He also carries a superior message than them. Superior in a way that the message that He brings is clearer and more complete. The vague prophesies, the types and the symbolisms in the Old Testament we were fulfilled in Christ and was revealed through Him with sufficient clarity.
The second layer are the 2nd phrase of verse 2 (second upper layer) and the 2nd sentence of verse 3 (second lower layer). The upper layer reads “whom he appointed the heir of all things” which describes Christ as the royal Son being the heir of all things. This is an allusion to Psalms 2:8 which says “Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.” The lower layer reads “After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high” which describes the Christ as the royal Priest, because He made the necessary sacrifice to purify the sins of His people, an act that only a priest does, and then after that he sat down at the right hand of Majesty signifying His royal status and therefore making Him a royal Priest.
The third layer are the 3rd phrase of verse 2 (3rd upper layer) and the first sentence of verse 3 (3rd lower layer). The upper layer reads “through whom also he created the world”, while the lower layer reads “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.” The 3rd layer, which is also the core of the exordium describes Jesus as the divine Wisdom. Here we can see Jesus as the Wisdom of God in three ways: by being the agent of creation, the sustainer of creation and the radiance of the glory of God.
We can see the reference of the Wisdom of God being the agent of creation in Prov 8:22– 31 which reads:
22 “The LORD possessed me at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of old.
23 Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth.
24 When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were no springs abounding with water.
25 Before the mountains had been shaped, before the hills, I was brought forth,
26 before he had made the earth with its fields, or the first of the dust of the world.
27 When he established the heavens, I was there; when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,
28 when he made firm the skies above, when he established the fountains of the deep,
29 when he assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress his command, when he marked out the foundations of the earth,
30 then I was beside him, like a master workman, and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always,
31 rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the children of man. – Prov 8:22–31
As to the Wisdom of God being the sustainer of the creation, some commentators says that it was derived by the author Hebrews from the book of the Wisdom of Solomon 7:27 which reads “Though Wisdom is and remains only one being, she can do anything and she renews all things.” And also from verse 8:1 which says “Wisdom rules the universe and keeps it in order.”
Some commentators also said that the concept of the Wisdom of God being the radiance of the glory of God was also derived from the Wisdom of Solomon in verse 7:25-26 which reads “Wisdom is the breath of God’s power, the true reflection of the glory of God All-Powerful, and so she cannot be touched by anything impure. Wisdom is like a mirror reflecting the eternal light of God’s deeds and goodness.” Jesus Christ, being the Wisdom of God, provides a perfect and visible expression of the reality of God. The idea of the Son being the Wisdom of God is also mentioned in 1 Corinthians 1:24 “but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”
This idea of the Son being the Wisdom of God can be also seen in John 1 when Christ was called the Word or the Logos. The Logos in the Greek Philosophy is the impersonal universal divine reason which is an eternal and unchanging truth that is responsible for the creation of the universe. This idea was used by the Apostle John, only that, instead of being an impersonal abstract concept, He used the term logos to describe the Second Person of the Trinity. Similar to the book of Hebrews, John 1 described the Divine Reason as the agent of creation “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made” and then we can also see that the Divine Reason is also described as the radiance of the Glory of God and the exact imprint of God in verse 18 “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.”
In summary, Christ is supreme over all because He is superior over previous agents of revelation such as the prophets and angels because He is the royal heir of all things; because he is the royal priest who after making purification for the sins of His people, sat down at the right hand of Majesty on high; and because He is the wisdom of God through whom the universe is created, upheld and sustained and is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature.
And because Christ is supreme and in the last days God has spoken through Him, the inevitable conclusion is that no other greater messenger will come bringing a more important message. Other religions which introduce a new prophet or a new figure, bringing a higher or more complete message than the Bible should not deserve anyone’s attention unless they can prove that their so-called last prophet or messenger from God is greater than the Son. Just like in a concert, all the minor performance of the less popular artists are presented at the beginning of the event until the main performer comes and takes the stage. After the main performer arrives, no other lesser performers will be presented.
II. Sufficiency in the Son and in the Scripture
From what we have discussed in our previous sermon point, we can make the conclusion that Christ is supreme because in Him, we have the fullness and finality of God’s redemption and revelation. In Christ, the concept of redemption and revelation overlaps. The purpose of God’s revelation from long time ago up to the last days is to show to humanity His great plan of redemption. On the other hand, God’s great plan of redemption is accomplished by means of God’s revelation. God revealed His word to His people not only make us smarter, but so that we will be saved and be able to live according to His will. And we will only be saved and be able to live according to God’s will if we have His revealed word.
In Christ is the fullness of redemption and revelation. All of the prophesies, predictions and types in the Old Testament pertaining to God’s plan of saving His people are fulfilled in Christ and revealed in Him. In the same way, God’s plan of redemption had its finality in Christ. Jesus lived on earth and perfectly fulfilled all of God’s law. After that, he went to the cross and paid for the sins of His people. He died, was buried and on the third day, He rose again from the dead. Jesus finished God’s work of redemption and its finality is revealed in Him. We cannot separate the concept of revelation and redemption. Revelation redeems and redemption reveals. Both revelation and redemption are fulfilled and had their finality in Christ.
Since the work of redemption is already completed by Christ and its revelation was completed as well, does this mean that God no longer speak to His people today? Well, the answer is no. Although God is still talking to us today, continuing communication does not mean continuing revelation. God has already spoken through the Son about all the things that we need to know in order to be saved and be able to live according to His will. And yet, God is still speaking to us through what He already said. He continues to speak to us when the Scripture is being read, studied or being preached in the pulpit.
Th Scripture is the written record of what God has revealed, in may times and in many ways, through the prophets and angels in the past. It also contains the record of what God have spoken about through the Son in theses last days. When we talk about God’s revelation through the Son in the last days, we don’t only pertain to the direct words and teachings of Christ. This also includes the record of the
things that Christ has done and the writings of His apostles and disciples which are recollections of the things He taught them and Spirit-wrought explanation of all that He is and all that He has accomplished. John 16:13-15 says “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”
John 16:13-15 does not say that the Holy Spirit will come to guide all believers to the truth by individually giving them special revelation. We must remember that when Jesus said these words, He is talking to His disciples who will later on write or will directly supervise authors who will write the books in the New Testament. What Jesus means here is that the Holy Spirit will come to guide His disciples, who are His representatives, to write and expound about his teachings, about who He is, what He has done and what are the things to come. Therefore, the Scripture is already complete because when God has spoken through the Son in these last days, the message that He spoke was recorded in the books of the New Testament by the disciples of Christ who are guided and inspired by the Spirit of Christ.
The Scripture is enough because the work of Christ is enough. They stand or fall together. The Son’s redemption and the Son’s revelation are both sufficient. There is nothing more to be down and to be known in order for us to be saved and be able to live according to God’s will. As John Frame said, “Scripture is God’s testimony to the redemption that he has accomplished for us. Once that redemption is finished, and the apostolic testimony to it is finished, the Scriptures are complete and we should expect no more additions to them.”
Now that we know that the Scripture is sufficient, what should be our practical application? First, because the Bible is sufficient, we have to keep tradition in its proper place. Tradition has a proper place in our understanding of God’s word. We should learn from the great teachers who have come before us and we should stand fast on the creeds and confessions of the church. What’s important is we know that tradition only aids us to interpret and understand Scripture but it does not have the same authority with latter. Traditions cannot override Scripture because traditions are not inspired by God. Hence, we should not accept doctrinal innovations based on tradition such as papal infallibility, purgatory, the veneration of Mary and other doctrines that cannot be found in the Word of God.
Second, because Scripture is sufficient, we should not act or subtract to the Word of God. When we read the Scripture we should always remember that we are reading a covenantal book. A covenantal book comes with a covenantal inscription curse. We see such curses in Deuteronomy 4:2 and 12:32. We can also see the same kind of curse in Revelation 22:18-19 which says “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.” Even if we do not directly add or subtract to the we are still committing a sin when we consider other books and writings as authoritative as the Scriptures.
Since the Bible is sufficient, we can expect that the word of God is relevant to all of life. Because the Bible is sufficient, it has enough information on how to be saved, on how to be a good parent, or a
spouse, or a minister or an employee. The Bible does not say that it contains exhaustive information about any subject under the sun, but when it speaks about a certain subject, it speaks sufficiently and it says only what is true.
And for those who do not know Christ yet and the salvation that He brings, and even those who already heard of Christ but are not yet sure if they are already saved, I invite you to open the pages of Scripture. The Scripture is sufficient to show you your wretched condition as a sinner and lead you to the grace of God. All the things that you need to know in order to be saved can be sufficiently found in the Bible. You need not look any further. You don’t need to chase a special blessing, a “word from God” or a special revelation in conferences or revival meetings in order for you to be delivered from your sins. God has spoken through His Son and His words are available in your hands. You just have to open your Bible, read it and pray that the Holy Spirit to help you understand what He has revealed to you in the book.
ZCRC Imus, long time ago, in many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers through the angels and prophets, but now in these last days, He has spoken to us through His supreme Son. In Christ is the fulfillment and finality of redemption and revelation, that’s why we can be sure that the written Word of God is sufficient for our salvation and for our practice of our faith. So let us come to the God’s Word with reverence and awe, and let us no longer look anymore for so-called fresh revelations because God’s word is enough.