Last Wednesday, Sept 29, 2022, I had the privilege of speaking in the chapel service in Hughes Auditorium of Asbury University.
The title was “Episode #5: “The End Game” Hebrews 12:1–4. “
“And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus” (Heb 12:1b–2a).
In the words of Kate Wilkinson’s hymn, “May the Mind of Christ My Savior” (an old Asbury favorite): “May I run the race before me, Strong and brave to face the foe, Looking only unto Jesus As I onward go.”
If you take time to work through this reading guide, you will gain a rich, holistic understanding of Hebrews’ theology and you will be able to come back to this volume again and again as a resource for personal growth, teaching, and preaching. . . . The book of Hebrews has been divided into seven weeks of daily readings (forty-nine days), so you will have time for Hebrews to permeated your heart and mind. If you patiently follow this schedule, you will be rewarded with an understanding of Hebrews unavailable to those who want a quick fix.
From the Forward:
“Gareth’s book is a marvelous resource as we listen to the, at times, complex letter of Hebrews. . . .I envision it sitting amongst several commentaries on Hebrews, and being the first port of call when the pastor—or student, seminarian, or scholar—is working away on this marvelous book, full as it is of Jesus.”
—Rev. Dr. Craig G. Bartholomew, director of the Kirby Laing Centre for Public Theology, Cambridge, UK
What Others are Saying:
Gareth Cockerill . . . . brings to fresh life the often-neglected book of Hebrews. Like a seasoned Sherpa, Cockerill guides the reader [on] a magnificent seven-week journey through the glorious heights and peaks of this cherished landscape of biblical revelation . . . . I encourage Christians to engage in this amazing journey and recapture anew the glorious identity of Jesus Christ for all time.
—Timothy C. Tennent, PhD, President and Professor of World Christianity, Asbury Theological Seminary
Gary Cockerill has already written one of the best commentaries on Hebrews, and now he presents the fruit of his work in a book that is accessible to every student of the Bible. . . . What we find here are the reflections of a scholar who has marinated in Hebrews for years. The structure of the letter, the meaning of the text, its theological significance, and the pastoral application are unpacked clearly and profoundly. Pastors, students, and all who want to understand Hebrews will want to read this book.
—Thomas R. Schreiner, James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation and Associate Dean, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
. . . . [Gary Cockerill’s] many years of in-depth study and his eager willingness to be mentored by the “pastor” of Hebrews richly infuses this present volume. There are deep theological insights on every page! Cockerill’s own pastoral heart makes this seven-week study winsome, compelling, and accessible. I highly recommend this book. It opens the door to one of the most powerful, beautiful, and persuasive sermons ever written! Those who enter this door will be richly blessed.
—Dana M. Harris, Professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
“The grandeur and beauty of the book of Hebrews are only matched by its avoidance and near ignorance in the church. . . . This beautiful, timely book is what the church needs!”
—Scot McKnight, Northern Seminary
“A leading Hebrews scholar takes us step by step through the book. Through its pastoral teaching, we can be shaped and formed into adult Christians. Highly recommended!”
—Thomas A. Noble, Nazarene Theological Seminary
Dr. Cockerill’s work here is accessible to a wide range of contexts and audiences. Whether used in personal devotions, textbook for a class, or study in the local church, the Holy Spirit will use this book to form believers into greater likeness to God through our “all sufficient High Priest who ‘remains forever.’”
—Christopher T. Bounds, Indiana Wesleyan University
“Readers will find their knowledge and experience of God in Christ strengthened and deepened.”
—Matt O’Reilly, Wesley Biblical Seminary
“In this reading guide, Cockerill has masterfully and passionately showcased the crown jewels discovered during his lifetime of exploration in the book of Hebrews.. . . .This is a journey not to be missed, and never to be forgotten!”
We often hear people talk about “making the Bible relevant.” It is so easy to begin looking at the passage for Sunday by asking how it applies to the people in my church. What practical application can I make? However, a quick, sometimes superficial, attempt to find the relevance of Scripture often encourages us to import our own ideas into the text and prevents us from listening to what it is actually saying. We do not need to make the Bible relevant—it is relevant—it needs to be heard and understood. We must grasp its consistency, grand story, and the over-all unity of its message (see Christian Faith in the Old Testament http://www.thomasnelson.com/christian-faith-in-the-old-testament.html ). When we have truly comprehended the thrust of Scripture, we will not doubt the importance of its condemnation of sin, offer of redemption, and guidance for life.
There are many facets to the perennial relevance of Scripture. Yes, the Bible addresses the need of the human heart throughout the ages. Yes, the Holy Spirit is continually working through Scripture guiding the people of God. There is, however, one aspect of this continuing relevance that often eludes us. We know that the Bible finds its center in Christ. He fulfills the Old Testament. The New Testament bears witness to Him. We tend, however, to limit this Christ-centeredness to the Christ who lived on earth some two thousand years ago. However, the Christ who took on our humanity, lived an obedient life, offered Himself on the cross, and rose from the dead, is now seated at God’s right hand as our all-sufficient Savior! The Bible is relevant because it finds its fulfillment in and bears witness to an ever-contemporary reality.
This insight came to me through my study of (you guessed it!) the Book of Hebrews. Last September I had the privilege and honor of giving a lecture on this subject at the Henry Center for Theological Understanding, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. If you are interested, I invite you to listen to “‘Do not Refuse the One Who is Speaking’ (Heb 12:25): Hebrews and Contemporary Preaching” at http://henrycenter.tiu.edu/resource/do-not-refuse-the-one-who-is-speaking-heb-1225-hebrews-and-contemporary-preaching/ I cannot adequately express my appreciation to Dr. Tom McCall, Geoffrey Fulkerson, and many others who made my visit to the Henry Center and to TEDS very pleasant.
So much for mangoes, what about Melchizedek. Melchizedek is that guy who appears to Abraham in Genesis 14. In Psalm 110:4 God declares to the Messiah, “You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” The writer of the Book of Hebrews takes up the challenge of explaining who this Melchizedek is. After three years in Africa, Rosa and I moved to Richmond, Virginia, where I did a Th.M. and a Ph.D. in Biblical studies at Union Theological Seminary. I was looking for a thesis topic–or, actually, I was looking for an advisor. I decided that Professor Mathias Rissi would be the best advisor for me. So I asked him to suggest a topic for my Th.M. thesis. He suggested that I compare Melchizedek in Hebrews 7 with 11QMelchizedek, one of the Dead Sea Scrolls. And so was born an interest in Melchizedek and a love for the book of Hebrews that came to fruition in my doctoral dissertation–“The Melchizedek Christology of Hebrews 7:1-25.”