Sermons by Marlin Harless


(Text: Hebrews 1:1-4)
By Marlin L. Harless

INTRODUCTION: The above text reads as follows: "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, 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; 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; Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they" (Hebrews 1:1-4).

I. VERSE ONE, THE OLD TESTAMENT REVELATION: THE PATRIARCHAL AND MOSAICAL DISPENSATIONS. In this sublime exordium, which strikes the key note of his doctrinal teaching, the writer takes for granted: 1. The inspiration of the Scriptures, "God hath spoken." How awful this truth, yet how blessed! With what a clear ringing note of certainty the author assumes it, {Rather, the author himself, is the very agency of the inspiration of the Scriptures, emphasis, mine, (MLH)}. 2. The interdependence of the two revelations. It is the same God who has "spoken" in both. The new does not ignore or contradict the old; it rests upon it, develops it, and completes it. The Old Testament, no less than the New, will bear every trial to which it may be subjected by either the lower or the higher criticism!

THE OLD TESTAMENT REVELATION CHARACTERIZED. It is: 1. Ancient. "Of old time unto the fathers." "Since the world began" (Acts 3:21). For nearly four hundred years now God had ceased speaking; it was more than fifteen hundred since the first part of the Old Testament had been written; and it was over four thousand years at the very least since God had begun to speak. 2. Given "by the prophets." A prophet is a forth-speaker---a spokesman---one who speaks for another. The prophetic formula was, "Thus sayeth Jehovah." God's prophets were men; he conveyed his message to his people through human minds and hearts. No prophet wrote as an automaton; his own faculties wrought, and his ink horn with his heart's blood. It is very beautiful to see the prophets rising up, one after another, in these far-past days. Together they form a "goodly fellowship;" each was the noblest spirit of his time.

3. Fragmentary. "By divers portions." God had given the former revelation part by part. He delivered it in connection with temporary dispensations---the Adamic, the Abrahamic, and the Mosaiac. He gave it first by oral communication, and laterally by scripture. The Old Testament grew slowly; it took more than a millennium to complete it, and at least twenty-seven different writers contributed to it. The revelation , though of priceless value, was always fragmentary and imperfect; it was meant to be progressive and preparatory. God gave one truth to one age, and another to a succeeding age. The promises of redemption became the longer the more definite.

4. Multiform. "In divers manners"---in manifold fashion. Now God spoke by dreams, now by visions, now by voices, now by angels, now by similitudes, now by Urim, now by sacrifices, and lustrations, now by putting a burning word into the prophet's soul. How various too is the literature of the Old Testament Scriptures. Now it is historical, now biographical, now legislative, now prophetic, now philosophic, now poetical; as varied as the fresh mind of every contributor, and yet revealing all though the one eternal mind!

II. VERSE TWO, THE NEW TESTAMENT REVELATION CONTRASTED WITH THE OLD. The writer merely suggests this contrast, leaving its details to be wrought out in the meditation of his readers. Unlike the Old, the New Testament revelation is: 1. Recent and final. "In these last days unto us." This refers to the close of the Mosaic economy. Judaism, like the older dispensations which preceded it, had got worn out, and in its turn had passed away; {Rather, Israel broke the covenant between them and Jehovah, Cf. (Jeremiah 31:31-34)}, emphasis, mine, (MLH), but the Christian dispensation is the final one, to be consummated only at the second advent. So, the new economy shall be ever present and always new, because not to be superseded so long as the world lasts. 2. Given "in His Son." What an element of stupendous contrast! The prophets were only God's spokesmen; this is God Himself speaking. The Son is the Logos---the "Word," the manifested God. What a view is presented in the following clauses of His Divine Dignity and His Mediatorial Majesty! This first grand sentence of the epistle reminds us of the scene on the holy mount. It points us away from Moses and Elijah, as did the voice from the excellent glory, saying to our souls, "This is my beloved Son: hear ye Him."

3. Complete and perfect. The New Testament presents the truth, not fragmentarily, as the Old Testament did, but in finished form and in undivided fullness. It was entirely written by eight or nine men belonging to one generation. It contains a richer revelation of more developed truth than that which is found in the Hebrew Scriptures. In the Son of God, speaking to us through His apostles and evangelists, we see revelation full-orbed at last. For nineteen plus centuries now the canon has been complete; and, thus, progress in theology can be made only as the result of better understanding of what God has already given us. The laureate's "Ring in the Christ that is to be," cannot refer with any propriety to any Christ that is unrevealed.

4. Simple and clear. The Old Testament revelation was multi-form a painted window, covered over with many colored and beautiful emblems; that of the New Testament is like a window of pure clear glass through which we gaze upon the unveiled glory of heaven. The water of life trickled through the Old Testament in a variety of tiny streamlets; it runs in the New Testament with the flow of a broad pellucid river. Christ and His apostles use great plainness of speech." The New Testament is much shorter than the Old, but it is more inward, evangelical, and spiritual. It is a better revelation as well as a later one; for it contains the substance rather than the shadows---the heavenly things rather than only their patterns. Preaching is a very simple ordinance. The Old Testament "veil is done away in Christ." In conclusion: 1. Great as were the privileges of the ancient Hebrews (Romans 9:4, 5), how much more are ours (Matthew 13:16, 17). 2. How much heaver, accordingly, are our responsibilities: "See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven" (Hebrews 12:25)! What base ingratitude in any one not to listen to the Son of God, and to refuse to shape his life in accordance with the complete and glorious circle of Christian truth!

III. VERSES TWO---FOUR---THE GLORY OF THE GOD MAN. So soon as the apostle mentions the Son," there spreads out before his mind a vast expanse of the territory of revelation---the loftiest shining table-land of truth which the scriptures open to our gaze. Indeed this sentence supplies a sublime basis for all true Christology! It describes at once the Redeemer's essential glory as the pre-existent One, and His Mediatorial Glory as the Incarnate Messiah.

IV. THE GLORY OF CHRIST IN RELATION TO THE FATHER. The clauses which speak of this to us solemnize us by their mystery, and dazzle us by their splendor. 1. He is the Son of God. (Verse 2.) "Son is not merely an official title; it designates the natural and eternal relation of the Second Person of the Godhead to the First. Christ is God's "only-begotten Son"---His Son in a sense absolutely unique, as implying sameness of essence with the Father. 2. He is the manifestation of God. (Verse 3.) "The effulgence of His glory;"---i.e. Christ is an eternal radiation of splendor from the majesty of the absolute Jehovah. He is "Light of [from] light." The rays which stream from the sun reveal the sun itself; so Christ is the ever-visible radiance of the unapproachable Light. We have to look to Him Who is "the Word" for a display of the attributes and perfections of Deity.

3. He is the counterpart of God. (Verse 3.) "The very image of His substance," i.e. the adequate imprint of His substantial essence. The Shechinah (shekinah) in the tabernacle had not the personal form of God; but the Son bears His real and perfect likeness! Christ has upon Himself the exact impress of Deity. He is the Father's alter-ego---His very image. "In Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily" (Colossians 2:9). So perfectly does the Son bear the impress of God, that He could say, "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father"(John 14:9c)

. V. THE GLORY OF CHRIST IN RELATION TO THE UNIVERSE. What is said on this point proves his Deity, the very same acts and prerogatives being elsewhere ascribed to God. 1. He is its Creator. (Verse 2). The life of the God-Man did not begin only nineteen hundred years ago. He is Himself "the Beginning"---the Alpha---the star that adorns the arch of night. He ordained all periods and dispensations ("ages")---all geological formations, all historical eras, all true economies of religion. 2. He is its Sustainer. (Verse 3). "Whom He hath appointed Heir of all things." It is His fiat that holds the Universe together. "By Him all things consist." (Colossians 1:17b). On His fingers hang the suns and systems of immensity. It is the Lord Jesus Christ Who adjusts and governs all the tremendous forces---physical, intellectual, and spiritual---which operate throughout creation. The pulses of universal life are regulated by the throbbing of His mighty heart. He is the Soul of providence, and the Center of history. {My friends, hear me, are you listening? "He's got the whole world in His hands!" Emphasis, mine, (MLH). 3. He is its Possessor. "Whom He hath appointed Heir of all things" (Hebrews 1:2b). As the Son of God, Christ received this appointment and gift in the past eternity. As the God-Man, His Father has constituted Him by another deed of gift, the Mediatorial Monarch of the universe. The keys of death and Hades hang at His girdle. He is the Lord of angels. He has "authority over all flesh." His own people are His peculiar inheritance---the very jewels if His crown! {"For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him" (Colossians 1:16), emphasis, mine, MLH}.

VI. THE GLORY OF CHRIST IN RELATION TO THE CHURCH. The Lord's Mediatorial Honors have cast a new luster over even His original renown. 1. He is its prophet. (Verse 2). It is as the Teacher of the Church that the writer introduces His name in this magnificent prologue. The eternal "Logos."---The manifestation and counterpart of God---has become "the Light of the world." When on earth He taught His followers by personal instruction; and now that He is in heaven, he enlightens the Church by His Word and by the influence of His Spirit. 2. He is its Priest. (Verse 3.) Jesus is more than a teacher, and His gospel is more than simply a philosophy. Mankind, being sinners, have not liberty of access to God; we need some one to approach God on our behalf. We require a priest, and an altar with a sacrifice on it, in order to the "purification of sins." Now, {Christ is our "High Priest" emphasis, mine, (MLH)}. He made "purification" 2000 years ago by His life in Palestine and His death on Calvary. He accomplished a work of expiation---an objective atonement. And the efficacy of His sacrifice is chiefly due to the infinite dignity of His person as "the effulgence of God's glory, and the very image of His substance!"

3. He is its King. (Verse 3). This royalty is the reward of His work of "purification." Having made "perfect satisfaction for human sin, He ascended on High and sat down upon the throne of His sovereign authority. From the right hand of the Father, as the place of super-eminent dignity and power, He rules His people by the might of His cross. The "Heir of all things" is fully qualified to be the head of the Church, and head over all for the advantage of the Church. The loftiest seraph is immeasurably His inferior. Jesus has been raised as high above Michael and Gabriel as He was eternally above them, and "…as He hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they" (Hebrews 1:4:b). In conclusion, Why does the apostle expatiate thus upon the greatness and glory of the Prophet of the New Testament? Not merely because he delights to do so; but, rather, also, to attract our hearts to the love and worship and service of the Lord Jesus, whose creatures we are, and to whom we belong by the purchase of His 1 {precious blood! Emphasis, mine, (MLH)}.

CONCLUSION: The Nobel Company of White Robed Saints. "And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? And whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, these are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes" (Revelation 7:13-17).

My friends, hear me, are you listening? Notice what these saints did, "…They came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb!" That is what we must do today!! But, how do we contact the Blood of Christ today? By "obeying the gospel of Jesus Christ," and there is absolutely no other way!! Jesus said, "If ye love me, keep my commandments" (John 14:15). Accordingly, then, to become a Christian we "must" do the following: 1. You must hear the unadulterated gospel of Christ, (Romans 10:14); 2. You must believe the unadulterated gospel of Christ, (Romans 10:14); 3. You must repent (turn away from), past sins, (Acts 17:30, 31); 4. You must confess Jesus Christ as the Son of God, (Romans 10:9, 10); 5. You must be immersed or baptized for the remission of sins, (Romans 6:3-6); 6. You must live faithful until death, (Revelation 2:10). Beloved, will you do it, Today! Today! Today?


1. The Pulpit Commentary, Volume # 21, (Hebrews 1:1-4), pages 17-20, Homiletics By C. Jerdan


1. The King James Version of The Bible, The Thompson Chain-Reference Bible, The Fifth Improved Edition

2. The American College Dictionary

3. The American Heritage Dictionary

4. The Expanded Vines, Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, By W. E. Vine

5. Theological Dictionary of The New Testament

6. The Interlinear Greek-English New Testament

7. Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of The New Testament

8. The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology

(E-Mail Address:; Telephone number: (304) 247-6895 Dear reader: in the event you find errors in this sermon, spelling, misquotes, scripture references, etc., please feel free to inform me of same at you earliest convenience! Thank you! (MLH)

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