Jesus Christ: “The Author and Finisher of Our Faith”
Lesson 37 - Hebrews
Throughout his missionary journeys, Paul sought to convince the members of the Church that they should no longer practice the law of Moses. While the Jewish Christians had been taught that salvation comes through faith in Jesus Christ, many of them still believed that obedience to the law of Moses was essential to their salvation. Paul wrote the epistle to the Hebrews to reemphasize that the law of Moses had been fulfilled in Christ.
Hebrews 1 teaches the following about Jesus Christ:
Paul said that the Son of God, who was “made so much better than the angels” (Heb. 1:4), had also been “made a little lower than the angels” (Heb. 2:9).
Mosiah 13:34-35 Jesus was “made a little lower than the angels” because He came to earth as a mortal and was subject to pain and death.
Heb. 2:9-10, 16-18; Heb. 4:15-16; see also Matt. 23:10-11 The mortal suffering was necessary for the perfecting of Christ, the salvation and exaltation of men, that Christ might be a merciful and faithful high priest for reconciling the sins of the people, that Christ might know temptation (yet without sin) so that he could succor those who are tempted, and provide grace and mercy.
Heb. 3:7-19; Heb. 4:1-11 Paul encouraged the Saints to live righteously so they could enter into God’s rest. He encouraged them not to follow the example of those who Moses led.
D&C 84:23-24; 3 Nephi 27:19 To enter into God’s rest is to obtain the fulness of his glory.
Heb. 3:7-11, 16-19; Heb. 4:1-2 Paul explained why some of the children of Israel in Moses’ time were unable to enter into God’s rest—because they hardened their hearts and were unbelieving.
Heb. 3:13-14; Heb. 4:11; Alma 13:12-13, 16 We can help each other become worthy to enter into God’s rest by encouraging each other to righteous service, laboring to help others, humbling ourselves, and bringing forth fruit meet for repentance.
Heb. 5:1-4 Paul taught that a man must receive and use priesthood authority by being called of God. A priesthood holder be “called of God” rather than “[take] this honour unto himself” because the authority of the priesthood is God’s and he alone has the right to decide who will receive it.
The priesthood authority that accompanied the law of Moses was the Aaronic Priesthood, also called the Levitical, lesser, or preparatory priesthood. (See D&C 84:25-27.)
Heb. 5:5-6; Heb. 6:20 The priesthood authority Jesus Christ holds is the Melchizedek Priesthood. When Jesus came and fulfilled the law of Moses, he also restored the Melchizedek Priesthood.
Heb. 7:11 This priesthood restoration was necessary because the Aaronic Priesthood does not have the authority to perform all the ordinances necessary for salvation.
“Neither the law of Moses nor the priesthood of Aaron which administered it was capable of bringing God’s children unto perfection. The Aaronic Priesthood is a lesser authority, and it administers the preparatory gospel only. The Melchizedek Priesthood, on the other hand, is the higher priesthood, commissioned to minister the gospel ordinances in their fulness and capable of purifying our lives so that we can again enter into the presence of the Lord” (The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles [Church Educational System manual, 1979], 385-86; see also D&C 107:18-20).
D&C 107:2-4 We call the greater priesthood the Melchizedek Priesthood “out of… reverence to the name of the Supreme Being, to avoid the too frequent repetition of his name…”. Members of the Church today are blessed by having the Melchizedek Priesthood as well as the Aaronic Priesthood so that ordinances of both salvation and exaltation can be provided to the children of Heavenly Father.
Paul reminded the members of the Church that worship under the law of Moses had pointed to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Heb. 8:5 According to this scripture, the Lord told Moses to “make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee” while building the tabernacle to be used by the Israelites for worship.
The ceremonies in the tabernacle symbolized “heavenly things,” as outlined below.
Ordinance in the tabernacle:
What it symbolized:
a. The priests offered animals as sacrifices to God (Heb. 10:1-4, 11).
Jesus offered himself as a sacrifice for our sins (Heb. 9:26-28; Heb. 10:4-12).
b. The priests placed blood from the sacrificed animals on the altar to symbolize the cleansing and purification of the people (Heb. 9:6-7, 19-23).
Jesus’ blood, shed during the Atonement, cleanses and purifies us from sin (Heb. 9:11-15).
c. The high priest went through the veil into the Holy of Holies (Heb. 9:1-7).
Jesus, the great high priest, went through the veil into the heaven itself (Heb. 9:24).
Heb, 8:9; see also Gal. 3:24-25 Paul explained that the law of Moses was the old covenant between God and his people.
Heb. 8:6-8, 10-13 The new covenant brought by Jesus Christ is the fulness of the gospel. The old covenant is described in the Old Testament of the Bible, while the new covenant is described in the New Testament.
Heb. 10:1-4 The old covenant was unable to make its participants perfect because the sacrifices were not sufficient to take away sins since they were only shadows of the ultimate sacrifice.
Heb. 10:9-18 The new covenant gives us greater hope for perfection because that covenant is based in the sacrifice of Christ, who has the power to take away sins.
Heb. 10:19-22 After Paul explained the ways in which the fulness of the gospel is a higher, more complete law that replaces the law of Moses, he exhorted the Saints to follow this “new and living way” by putting their faith in Jesus Christ.
Articles of Faith 1:4 The first, or most basic, principle of the gospel is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Heb. 11:1; Alma 32:21; Ether 12:6 These scriptures define faith as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”; “if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true”; and “faith is things which are hoped for and not seen.”
Faith is more than belief because faith is a motivating principle of action that compels you to follow Christ, while belief may be merely an intellectual assent that does not necessarily motivate you. Faith in Jesus Christ is essential to our salvation because it motivates us to do the works of Christ.
Heb. 11:4-12, 17-34 Here, Paul gave many examples of people who accomplished great things through faith in Jesus Christ. He mentioned Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham and Sara, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Rahab, and others—and some of their actions that required faith.
Heb. 11:32-38 Paul also taught that faith can help us during times of adversity or opposition.
Consider how faith has helped you personally deal with adversity.
We are blessed to live in a time when the fulness of the gospel is available. Salvation comes through faith in Jesus Christ and obedience to his commandments. Keep the covenants and commandments of the restored gospel.