H.D. Brown Lectures
by Tom Kanwischer
On 19th January, 2023, Dr Jamieson gave two insightful, memorable, and Christ exalting lectures on the letter to the Hebrews. The Irish Baptist College and guests were “certainly not short-changed,” in the words of Peter Firth, but provided with a thorough exhibit of Jesus Christ in study of Hebrews. The first of Dr Jamieson’s lectures was on the person and work of Christ; the second was on how Hebrews teaches pastors to tend their flocks. In the former, he argued that this letter intends to answer the question, “Is it worth being a Christian?” Hebrews, he posited, is a thoroughly theological response to an intensely practical situation. The Christian audience of Hebrews, not unlike many in the church of today, experienced weariness and temptation to walk away from Christ amidst ostracism, persecution, and threats of such. To many Jewish Christians under this kind of pressure, a return to the legal system of the Old Covenant, which was not nearly as offensive to the surrounding community, may have seemed appealing. It was in light of this need that the writer was encouraging the Hebrew Christians to persevere. The theology of Hebrews, argues Dr Jamieson, depends on access to God. We were led through various portions of the text to see that the economy of salvation—that is, the outworking of God’s plan of salvation in the world through Jesus—is richly displayed in this epistle. Every seamless aspect of Christ’s work—from His divine nature and incarnation, to His sinless suffering and death, to the resurrection and ascension to heaven, to His enthronement at God’s right hand and ongoing intercession—serves God’s purpose to reconcile His creation to Himself. In so doing, Christ has obtained for Christians direct access to God.
The second of the lectures was filled with practical and helpful encouragement for pastors. Making use of the theology and, particularly, the Christology derived from Hebrews, Dr Jamieson reminded pastors to serve God’s people in light of the great truths of our Lord’s saving mission. The first word of advice, and probably the most useful to me, was in answer to the original question of Hebrews. What makes following Christ worthwhile is who Christ is, what he has done for us, and what he alone can give us. Hebrews reminds discouraged and weary Christians to hold fast to their Christ. Christians who have experienced the opposition of the world and its Prince, and who are tempted to give in and return to our former ways of life, can find comfort and assurance in Christ’s salvation. Our Saviour Himself has gone before us as our forerunner (2:10), pioneer (6:19), and perfecter (12:2). In a host of other exhortations to pastors and those in training, Dr Jamieson encouraged us, when preaching, to paint the full picture of Christ’s saving mission, not leaving out a single benefit thereof. He also reminded us to balance admonition with assurance, and not to truncate warning of judgment and condemnation in our preaching the gospel. Finally, he exhorted us to remind fellow believers that to suffer is not to sin. Christ, who Himself suffered, is almighty, and he is perfectly compassionate to us. He can sympathise with our sufferings and knows our needs; He is able to sustain us in our suffering.
We are grateful to Dr Jamieson for his hard work which helps us to appreciate more fully the message of the letter to the Hebrews. If you are interested in reading more, check out his book: “The Paradox of Sonship: Christology in the Epistle to the Hebrews.”