Life At Its Best - The Focused Life

Bible Book: Hebrews  1
Subject: Focus; Purpose; Reason for Living; Christian Living
Series: Life At Its Best

Today, we’re beginning a series of lessons from the book of Hebrews, and we’re dealing with the theme “Life At Its Best.” This theme is borrowed from the upcoming LifeWay Bible Studies for August 2008. A related outline from LifeWay Christian Resources says…

Don’t most people want a better life – the best life has to offer? But how can we experience this life? God’s Word provides the answer. … This study theme, based on selected passages from the Book of Hebrews, is about choosing God’s best for our lives by focusing on Jesus, being faithful to Him, growing spiritually, worshiping and witnessing with confidence, and being more consistent in our Christian walk.

In 2004, Joel Osteen’s book “Your Best Life Now” debuted at the top of the New York Times Bestsellers list and quickly rose to 1. According to one source, it remained on the New York Times Bestseller list for more than 2 years and has sold more than 4 million copies.

Unfortunately, the pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, TX seemed to emphasize the power of positive thinking more than the power of the living Lord Jesus. Osteen’s focus was misdirected.

The first lesson in this series is entitled “A Focused Life.” If we want to live life at its best, then our focus must involve more than developing a healthy self-image, more than discovering the power of our own thoughts and words while Christ remains in the periphery. Our focus must be on Christ.

Someone said that the most significant question we can ask ourselves is, “What is the most important thing in life?” Some would say that happiness should be the primary focus; others would suggest that health or fame or financial success or family is the most important thing.

John Wayne said that “Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. (It) comes into us at midnight very clean. It’s perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we’ve learned something from yesterday.”

The author of “Tuesdays With Morrie,” Morrie Schwartz said, “The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in.”

What is your focus in life?

One young father shared this story. He said…

“My daughter is going to middle school and I thought I should start talking to her about some serious stuff, such as the meaning of life. Her response was, ‘My meaning of life is to please Mommy’.” So then the young father said, “What about Daddy?” And his daughter responded, “Your meaning of life is to please Mommy, too.”

I suppose it’s like Christian comedian Jeff Allen says, “Happy wife, happy life.”

It has been said that the great purpose of life is to spend it on something that will outlast it. In his book Illustrations Unlimited, James S. Hewett shares the following…

Richard Armstrong and Edward Watkin tell the story of a biologist’s experiment with ‘processional caterpillars.’ On the rim of a clay pot that held a plant, he lined them up so that the leader was head- to-head with the last caterpillar. The tiny creatures circled the rim of the pot for a full week. Not once did any one of them break away to go over to the plant and eat. Eventually, all (the) caterpillars died from exhaustion and starvation. The story of the processional caterpillars is a kind of parable of human behavior. People are reluctant to break away from the rhythmic pattern of daily life. They don’t want to be different. We must break away from the crowd, however, if we are to accept Jesus’ invitation…

Are you following the crowd, or are you following Christ? What is your focus in life? Notice the first word in the Hebrew epistle: “God…” (Hebrews 1:1).

Adam Clarke said…

We can scarcely conceive anything more dignified than the opening of this letter; the sentiments are exceedingly elevated, and the language, harmony itself. The infinite God is at once produced to view, not in any of those attributes which are essential to the divine nature, but in the manifestations of His love to the world, by giving a revelation of His will relative to the salvation of mankind, and thus preparing the way, through a long train of years, for the introduction of that most glorious Being, His own Son.

I. Let’s Focus On The Details Of The Revealed Son

(Hebrews 1:1-6)

A. Notice How His Exceptional Nature Is Revealed
1. He Is The Great Messenger Of God

(Hebrews 1:1-2) God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, {2} Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;

sundry times – Greek 4181. polumeros, pol-oo-mer'-oce; adv. from a comp. of G4183 and G3313; in many portions, i.e. variously as to time and agency (piecemeal):--at sundry times.

divers manners – Greek 4187. polutropos, pol-oot-rop'-oce; adv. from a comp. of G4183 and G5158; in many ways, i.e. variously as to method or form:--in divers manners.

Cf. (Galatians 4:4) But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,

spoken – Greek 2980. laleo, lal-eh'-o; a prol. form of an otherwise obsol. verb; to talk, i.e. utter words:--preach, say, speak (after), talk, tell, utter.

2. He Is The Great Manifestation Of God

(Hebrews 1:3) Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;

Adam Clarke said that “the brightness of his glory” is “the resplendent outbeaming of the essential glory of God.”

express image – Greek 5481. charakter, khar-ak-tare'; from the same as G5482; a graver (the tool or the person), i.e. (by impl.) engraving (["character"], the figure stamped, i.e. an exact copy or [fig.] representation):--express image.

Adam Clarke further said…

The hypostasis (person) of God is that which is essential to him as God; and the character or image is that by which all the likeness of the original becomes manifest, and is a perfect facsimile of the whole. It is a metaphor taken from sealing; the die or seal leaving the full impression of its every part on the wax to which it is applied.

Albert Barnes said…

The phrase “word of his power” is a Hebraism, and means his efficient command. There could not be a more distinct ascription of divinity to the Son of God than this. He upholds or sustains all things – that is, the universe.

The writer of Hebrews tells us that the Son of God made the worlds and He maintains the worlds. He is very God!

B. Notice How His Excellent Name Is Revealed

(Hebrews 1:4) Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.

more excellent – Greek 1313. diaphoros; from G1308 (to differ); varying; also surpassing:--differing, divers.

John MacArthur said…

Did not Christ always have a better name? Why does it say, He has inherited a more excellent name than they? Did He not always have a more excellent name? Yes, but He obtained another one. He was always God, but He became Son. He had not always had the title of Son. That is His incarnation title. Eternally He is God, but only from His incarnation has He been called Son.

1. He Is Called The Son Who Was Resurrected After His Burial

(Hebrews 1:5) For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?

Warren Wiersbe said…

The “more excellent name” that Jesus possesses is “Son.” While the angels collectively may be termed “the sons of God” (Job 1:6), no angel would be given this title individually. It belongs uniquely to our Lord Jesus Christ. The first quotation is from Psalms 2:7: “Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee.” Paul pinpointed the time of this “begetting”: the resurrection of Jesus Christ (Acts 13:33). From eternity, Jesus Christ was God the Son. He humbled Himself and became Man (see Philippians 2:5-6). In His resurrection, however, He glorified that humanity received from the Father and received back the eternal glory He had veiled (John 17:1,5). The Resurrection declares: “Jesus is God’s Son!” (Romans 1:4)

Cf. (Acts 13:33) God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.

2. He Is Called The Son Who Was Recognized After His Birth

(Hebrews 1:6) And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.

Wiersbe said…

When He came into the world, the angels worshiped Him … God commanded them to do so, which proves that Jesus Christ is God; for none of God’s angels would worship a mere creature.

II. Let’s Focus On The Dominion / Duration Of The Revered Sovereign

(Hebrews 1:10-14)

A. Notice His Timeless Existence

In the first couple of chapters of Hebrews, there are several quotations from the Old Testament, and here in Hebrews 1:10-12 we find a quote from Psalm 102, which says…

(Psalms 102:25-27) Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands. {26} They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed: {27} But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end.

1. He Came Before The Foundation Of All Things

(Hebrews 1:10) And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands:

The writer has already told us in verse 2 that God made the worlds by Christ…

(Hebrews 1:2) Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;

And now he elaborates on that event.

laid the foundation – Greek 2311. themelioo, them-el-ee-o'-o; from G2310; to lay a basis for, i.e. (lit.) erect, or (fig.) consolidate:--(lay the) found (-ation), ground, settle.

The Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary explains “the works of thine hands” to mean “the heavens, as a hand-woven curtain spread out (Psalms 104:2).”

(Psalms 104:2) Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain:

2. He Continues Beyond The Finality Of All Things

(Hebrews 1:11-12) They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; {12} And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.

Listen to the words of Isaiah…

(Isaiah 51:6) Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth beneath: for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner: but my salvation shall be for ever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished.

The Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary says that a “vesture” [?peribolaion?] is ‘an enwrapping cloak.’

John saw the old creation coat changed…

(Revelation 21:1) And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.

When the writer says, “thou art the same,” it is as if he is saying, “You are still you.”

fail – Greek 1587. ekleipo, ek-li'-po; from G1537 and G3007; to omit, i.e. (by impl.) cease (die):--fail.

B. Notice His Triumphant Exaltation
1. There Is The Mention Of The Lord’s Total Conquest Over His Adversaries

(Hebrews 1:13) But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool?

This is a quote from Psalm 110:1…

(Psalms 110:1) A Psalm of David. The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.

Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown says, “The image is from conquerors putting the feet on the necks of the conquered.”

(Joshua 10:24) And it came to pass, when they brought out those kings unto Joshua, that Joshua called for all the men of Israel, and said unto the captains of the men of war which went with him, Come near, put your feet upon the necks of these kings. And they came near, and put their feet upon the necks of them.

The old Puritan writer John Owen said, “The work of subduing enemies is a work of power and authority,” and “Power and authority to subdue and conquer all his enemies is given unto the Lord Christ by the Father.”

As Paul said… (Romans 14:11) For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.

2. There Is The Mention Of The Lord’s Total Control Over His Angels

(Hebrews 1:14) Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?

sent – Greek 649. apostello, ap-os-tel'-lo; from G575 and G4724; set apart, i.e. (by impl.) to send out (prop. on a mission) lit. or fig.:--put in, send (away, forth, out), set [at liberty].

Albert Barnes said…

They are employed to render “aid” or “assistance” to others – to wit, to Christians. “Sent forth.” Appointed by God for this. They are “sent;” are under His control; are in a subordinate capacity.

III. Let’s Focus On The Danger Of The Rejected Salvation

(Hebrews 2:1-4)

A. When It Comes To Salvation, There Is A Careless Response
1. Notice The Picture Of Carelessness

(Hebrews 2:1) Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.

John MacArthur said…

A look at some of the Greek words in 2:1 will help in understanding all four of the opening verses. The two key words are prosecho? (“to give attention to” – “give … earnest heed to”) and pararheo? (“to let slip”). With its modifier, prosecho? is translated pay much closer attention to and is emphatic. In other words, on the basis of who Christ is, we must give careful attention to what we have heard about Him. We cannot hear these things and let them just slide through our minds. The word pararheo? translates here as drift away from and can have several meanings. … But both of these words also have nautical connotations. Prosecho? means to moor a ship, to tie it up. Pararheo? can be used of a ship that has been allowed to drift past the harbor because a sailor forgot to attend to the steerage or to properly chart the wind, tides, and current.? With these meanings in mind, the verse could be translated, “Therefore, we must the more eagerly secure our lives to the things which we have been taught, lest the ship of life drift past the harbor of salvation and be lost forever.” The illustration is both graphic and appropriate. Most people do not go headlong and intentionally into hell. They drift into it. … Most people just slowly, almost imperceptibly slip past the harbor of salvation out to eternal destruction.

When I was in first grade, I was waiting on the bus one afternoon after school. Two other boys and I decided that we would walk up to the water fountains a few hundred yards from the bus stop. But while we were up there messing around, the bus came. And as hard as we could run, we could not catch up to the bus. That is the idea that is wrapped up in this thing of “letting them slip.”

2. Notice The Peril Of Carelessness

(Hebrews 2:2-3) For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; {3} How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;

escape – Greek NT:1628. ekpheugo; means “to flee out of a place”; the word is used to refer to the “escape” or “fleeing” of prisoners in Acts 16:27. (From Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words)

Cf. (Acts 16:27) And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled.

neglect – Greek 272. ameleo, am-el-eh'-o; from G1 (as a neg. particle) and G3199 (to be of interest or to concern); to be careless of: --make light of, neglect, be negligent, not regard.

Matthew Henry said…

It is declared to be a neglect of this great salvation; it is a contempt put upon the saving grace of God in Christ, making light of it, not caring for it, not thinking it worth their while to acquaint themselves with it, not regarding either the worth of gospel grace or their own want of it and undone state without        it; not using their endeavours to discern the truth of it, and assent to it, nor to discern the goodness of it, so as to approve of it, or apply it to themselves. In these things they discover a plain neglect of this great salvation. Let us all take heed that we be not found among those wicked wretched sinners who neglect the grace of the gospel.

B. When It Comes To Salvation, There Is A Confirmed Report
1. Notice How The Magnitude Of Salvation Has Been Stated

(Hebrews 2:3) How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;

so great – Greek 5082. telikoutos, tay-lik-oo'-tos; fem. telikaute, tay-lik-ow'-tay; from a comp. of G3588 with G2245 and G3778; such as this, i.e. (in [fig.] magnitude) so vast:--so great, so mighty.

2. Notice How The Message Of Salvation Has Been Shared

(Hebrews 2:3-4) How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; {4} God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?

This message was Commenced by the Lord and Confirmed by the Listeners.

As John MacArthur said, “The gospel was first given by Christ and was then confirmed by the apostles who had heard Him in person. Even more importantly, however, it was confirmed by God Himself bearing witness.”


Neither I nor my wife are very adept when it comes to taking pictures. Both of us have attempted to take photographs only to have the subject be completely missing from the picture. On other occasions, while the subject was in the picture, the image was so out of focus that the person in the picture could not be recognized.

Similarly, many people try to develop a picture of eternal life, but they leave Jesus out of the picture. Others have trusted in Jesus for salvation, but His image in their lives is so out of focus that Christ and His influence cannot be recognized.

Let us be “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). Allow Him to be the object of your focus. And once He is in the picture, make sure that He can be clearly seen. Amen.