Making Space for Forever

Brian Mahon - 12/19/2021


Text: Hebrews 13:1-16


In Christ, we've come, as it were, to Mt. Zion---and yet, we are not yet Home. The author of Hebrews speaks to the Christian life in the in-between. We might call it City-life. He speaks quickly but broadly to specific manifestations of Christian conduct: love, hospitality, compassion, marital-honor, contentment, and considerate discipleship. And as in this world, that may lead to persecution, so that some teach Christ in order to avoid the offense of His cross, the church needs to be rooted in the immutability of Christ's Person and Work. Our teachers, good or poor, will come and go, and things may change all around us, but Christ is ever the same. So we're to avoid teaching that's strange to Scripture, while sticking with the word of His grace. That will strengthen our hearts to remain faithful to Jesus when it is hard to be so---and it will be hard. Christ suffered outside the gate, and so too must we. Solidarity with Him may very well separate us from life in this world. What will hold us fast, if not that we're seeking a lasting City to come? Where we establish permanence will determine our path in this world. As the King increases in us, so too will His forever City and, consequently, we'll find all the stability we need to live on Calvary.

Sermon Outline:

  1. City-life for City-folk, 13:1-7.
  2. City-prep for City-life, 13:8-16.
    • The immutable Christ, 13:8-9.
    • The altar of Christ, 13:10-13.
    • The City of Christ, 13:14.


Discussion Questions:

  1. Read Hebrews 13:1-16. Cross-pollinating texts include Exodus 32-33, Joshua 1:5, Psalm 50, 118, Hosea 14:2.
  2. In 13:1-7, we have what's called paraenesis---a list of urgent instructions for Christian living. What are the instructions listed in these verses? Parse them out, but also consider how they are related. In light of the rest of Hebrews, along with 13:14, consider how these instructions relate to the City of God and what, then, such living will inevitably display in the City of Man.
  3. Read 2 Timothy 3:10-12. Is there a similar trajectory in Hebrews 13:1-13? Why would such living put us on 'the outs' with the world that surrounds us? Why does the writer even seem to say that part of faithful Christianity is a willful acceptance of Christ's reproach? Have we considered that Jesus died to set us apart as living sacrifices, understanding the full import of 'sacrifice'?
  4. What does the author put forward to hold us fast in 13:8? Why is this so important? Why does it follow 13:7? Why does it lead into 13:9 and following? How does this speak to the handling of Christ in our own day?
  5. According to the 'for' in 13:14, there's a relationship between going to the cross and seeking that lasting City. What is it? How does faith in that City drive our living and hold us fast to it when it draws the ire of the world? What is said of this City? To amplify it as we do need, consider other iterations of it in Heb 2:8; 4:11; 6:19; 7:25; 8:11-12; 9:12, 27-28; 10:14; 11:10, 13-16, 26, 35; 12:2, 22-24, 28. Are we living by what will most profit us today or, if at odds, in 10,000,000 years and, then, forevermore? How much and how frequently do we think on this City?

This Advent, consider that as the King increases in us, so too should the force of Forever. Let's make space for the lasting City.

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