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061217   Outside The Camp   Hebrews 13 7 17   Dale Wells
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061217 Outside The Camp Hebrews 13 7 17 Dale Wells


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A sermon on Hebrews 13:7-17 delivered at Palm Desert Church of Christ by Dale Wells on December 17, 2006.

A sermon on Hebrews 13:7-17 delivered at Palm Desert Church of Christ by Dale Wells on December 17, 2006.

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  • 1. Outside the Camp Dale Wells Palm Desert Church of Christ December 10, 2006
  • 2. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was not born into a family of faith
    • But at age 14, he decided to be a preacher
    • His family tried to persuade him that he was making a mistake
    • His older brother said that the church was powerless & irrelevant
    • Dietrich: "If the church is really what you say, then I shall have to reform it."
  • 3. Bonhoeffer devoted himself to theology
    • He enrolled in Tubingen at 17 and finished his doctorate in Berlin at 21.
    • His dissertation exposed his brilliance and he was becoming better known beyond the borders of Germany for his theological papers.
  • 4. In 1930 Bonhoeffer came to the US to lecture at Union Theological Seminary
    • He was dismayed at the Americans’ lax attitudes
    • "At this liberal seminary the students sneer at the fundamentalists in America, when all the while the fundamentalists know far more of the truth and grace, mercy and judgment of God."
  • 5. At heart, Dietrich was a preacher
    • In 1933 he left the university behind and returned to preaching.
    • The struggle for the church in Germany was underway as Hitler wielded increasing influence on all aspects of German culture.
  • 6. Bonhoeffer struggled with the intermingling of Church and State
    • Is the Church committed to the Gospel or can it be so intertwined with State that it is absorbed into the State?
    • Tough questions with Hitler swaying Church leaders
    • Dietrich said the Church must commit to the Gospel and avoid being entangled with State or it ceases to be the Church
  • 7. Other theologians adopted Nazi ideology in order to keep their jobs
    • Two days after Hitler became chancellor in 1933, Bonhoeffer gave a radio address, "Christ is Our Fuhrer." Before he finished, the microphone was turned off.
  • 8. On January 25, 1934 Hitler held a conference of religious leaders
    • He said, "You confine yourself to the church. I will take care of the people."
    • Preachers wore swastikas & walked away from the cross.
    • The men of God silenced the voice of God in Germany.
  • 9. Martin Niemoller joined Bonhoeffer in opposing Hitler during the meeting
    • Niemoller was a WWI U-boat hero.
    • He was, at the time, an anti-Semite.
    • He had been a supporter of Hitler.
    • But all that began to change when he met Bonhoeffer.
  • 10. Niemoller survived the War and lived into the 1980’s, but he never forgot
  • 11. Bonhoeffer wrote, “When Christ calls a person, He bids him to come and die.”
    • Dietrich would not back away from his belief that there could be only one leader for Christians, and it was not Hitler.
    • Church leaders were silent, hoping to preserve unity.
    • Dietrich told them that they needed to be converted themselves.
  • 12. Bonhoeffer became convinced that Hitler would have to be removed
    • He joined with high-ranking military officers who secretly opposed Hitler and who planned to assassinate him.
    • The plot was discovered in April 1943
  • 13. Bonhoeffer would spend two years in prison before he was executed
    • He believed God’s providence places us where we are & that we are to share the Gospel regardless of our situation.
    • For two years he ministered to fellow prisoners awaiting execution.
  • 14. Captain Payne Best, a British survivor of the prison camp, paid tribute to him
    • "Bonhoeffer was different, just quite calm and normal, seemingly perfectly at his ease…His soul really shone in the dark desperation of our prison. He was one of the very few men I have ever met to whom God was real and ever close to him."
  • 15. Bonhoeffer was taken taken to Flossenburg, an extermination camp
    • On Sunday, April 8, 1945, he was taken by guards while preaching.
    • He said, "This is the end, but for me, the beginning of life."
  • 16. As he was stripped naked on April 9, 1945, he knew his earthly life was over
    • Today the tree from which he was hanged bears a plaque with ten words inscribed on it: “Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a witness to Jesus Christ among his brethren.”
  • 17. Dietrich Bonhoeffer is a powerful example of living life “outside the camp”
    • “ When Christ calls a person, He bids him come and die.”
    • Die to the world’s way of living, speaking & thinking.
    • Die to my own passions, pleasures & desires.
    • Christ bids us come and die so that we might fully live in Him alone.
  • 18. Today’s text covers a lot of ground
  • 19. 1. We should imitate the faith of our forefathers
    • Hebrews 13:7 NIV Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.
    • We owe those who taught and mentored us.
    • We repay that debt by teaching others and mentoring them.
  • 20. 2. We must cling to the unchanging Jesus Christ
    • Hebrews 13:8 NIV Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
    • Spiritual leaders have much to offer, but they also have feet of clay.
    • We must keep our eyes on Jesus – the only one who never fails.
    • In a changing world, we can ultimately only trust the changeless Christ.
  • 21. 3. We should focus on the eternal, not the external
    • Hebrews 13:9 NIV Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by ceremonial foods, which are of no value to those who eat them.
    • Some taught that OT rituals were essential for salvation.
    • The Law can influence conduct, but it cannot change the heart.
  • 22. 4. Faith leads to upreach and outreach
    • Hebrews 13:15-16 NIV Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise--the fruit of lips that confess his name. (16) And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.
  • 23. 5. Faith’s response to spiritual leaders
    • Hebrews 13:17 NIV Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.
    • Five Spiritual Leaders
      • John Burton
      • Robert Craven
      • Jim Cross
      • John Rice
      • Gene Sneed
    • Our leaders help us grow.
    • We should cooperate to ease their burden.
  • 24. In the middle of the text is a difficult section
    • Hebrews 13:10-14 NIV We have an altar from which those who minister at the tabernacle have no right to eat. (11) The high priest carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Place as a sin offering, but the bodies are burned outside the camp. (12) And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood. (13) Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore. (14) For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.
  • 25. Remember that this letter was written to Jewish Christians
    • The altar does not refer to the communion table, but to the altar in the Temple.
    • Ordinarily the priests are allowed to eat what remains of the sacrifices.
  • 26. On the Day of Atonement, the priests were not allowed to eat the sin offering
    • Leviticus 16:27 NIV The bull and the goat for the sin offerings, whose blood was brought into the Most Holy Place to make atonement, must be taken outside the camp; their hides, flesh and offal are to be burned up.
  • 27. This is an analogy for Christians
    • Priests could not take part in the people’s sins – so the believer is outside the world’s camp
    • Jesus was crucified outside the walls of the city – so we are to be spiritually outside the walls of sinning people.
    • This call to separate ourselves runs throughout scripture.
  • 28. Hebrews 11:24-27 NIV
    • By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh's daughter. (25) He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. (26) He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. (27) By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king's anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.
  • 29. When Solomon succeeded David the Kingdom was united and strong
    • God appeared to young Solomon and said, “Ask for anything you want and I will give it to you.” Solomon didn’t ask for wealth or fame, but for wisdom – and God granted his wish.
    • Years later Solomon forgot about his dependence upon God and began to do things his way. As a result the Kingdom divided after Solomon’s reign.
  • 30. 1 Kings 11:1-6 NIV
    • King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women … (2) They were from nations about which the LORD had told the Israelites, "You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods." Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love. … (4) As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been. (5) He followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molech the detestable god of the Ammonites. (6) So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the LORD; he did not follow the LORD completely, as David his father had done.
  • 31. In the New Testament this theme of separation is continued
    • 1 John 2:15-17 NIV Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (16) For everything in the world--the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does--comes not from the Father but from the world. (17) The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.
  • 32. 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 NIV
    • Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? (15) What harmony is there between Christ and Belial ? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? (16) What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people." (17) "Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you." (18) "I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty."
  • 33. Separation does not mean that we never interact with unbelievers
    • If so, we could never teach them or be hospitable to them.
    • Nor does it mean we try to escape the world by becoming monastics.
    • As far as separation is concerned, the world is an attitude – an orientation – not a place.
    • Paradoxically, a holier-than-thou attitude is the essence of worldliness, because it is centered in pride.
  • 34. The call to live “outside” …
    • is a call to stand up for the cause of Christ in the neighborhood, in the marketplace, in our public schools, and every other venue.
    • We are called to share the Gospel wherever the Lord leads us and sometimes this call to stand for the Gospel is most difficult in the Church.
    • Like the struggles Dietrich Bonhoeffer faced in Germany, the Church often silences the voice of God by trying to fit in to society, or trying to make itself palatable to society.
  • 35. One who refused to go along with the status quo offered by the Church was Martin Luther
    • Martin Luther joined the Catholic monastery committed to the cause of Christ.
    • During his years of training and study, Martin became disturbed with what he saw were inconsistencies between the teachings of the Church and the teachings of the Bible.
  • 36. In 1517, Luther tried to start an academic debate with his “95 Theses”
    • His propositions challenged the doctrines and practices of the Roman Catholic Church.
    • Two radical ideas:
      • People are saved by faith – not by human effort.
      • Scripture – not the church – is the test of truth.
    • The Pope kicked Luther out of the church and declared him hell-bound.
    • The Holy Roman Emperor ordered Luther to appear before him.
  • 37. Luther appeared before Charles V at Worms, Germany, in April 1521
    • The hall was filled with bishops and princes.
    • A table piled with books was centered in the room.
    • Luther was called to answer two questions:
      • Had he written these books?
      • Would he recant?
  • 38. Luther appeared before Charles V at Worms, Germany, in April 1521
    • Luther was stunned that there would be no debate nor judicial hearing. They had already made their decision.
      • He said quietly: "The books are mine, and I have written more."
      • To the second question, he said, "This touches God and his Word. This affects the salvation of souls. I beg you, give me time."
      • He was given one day.
  • 39. Luther appeared before Charles V at Worms, Germany, in April 1521
    • The next evening, the same questions were put to him:
    • "Will you defend these books altogether, or do you wish to recant some of what you have said?"
    • Luther had spent the night in prayer and he was ready to reply and face whatever consequences the authorities would hurl at him.
  • 40. Luther appeared before Charles V at Worms, Germany, in April 1521
    • Luther answered:
    • Some of his books, even his opponents agreed, contained edifying teaching. He would not retract these.
    • Others attacked "the papacy and papist teaching," yet to retract them would encourage tyranny.
  • 41. Luther appeared before Charles V at Worms, Germany, in April 1521
    • The examiner rebuked Luther:
    • Surely a single individual could not call into doubt the traditions and teachings of the entire Church.
    • Finally, he asked, "You must give a simple, clear, proper answer to the question: Will you recant or not?"
  • 42. Luther appeared before Charles V at Worms, Germany, in April 1521
    • Luther’s reply was short, but it is today etched in history:
    • "Unless I can be instructed with evidence from the Holy Scriptures … I cannot and will not recant. Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me. Amen."
  • 43. Luther is honored as the man who rediscovered grace, faith, and scripture
    • But it took more than faith to make the Reformation.
    • It took the courage of a man willing to go to Jesus outside the camp.
    • You may never be asked to be a Luther or Bonhoeffer, but …
  • 44. Are you willing to go to Jesus – even if it means ridicule, rejection – or death?