Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the Word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines. For it is good that the heart be established by grace, not with foods, which have not profited those who have been occupied with them. (Hebrews 13:7–9—NKJV)

We live in a strange day when everyone seems to be willing to take advice as gospel from any source regardless of credentials. People speak authoritatively on subjects far afield from their own qualifications. When someone dares to ask upon what credentials do they base their advice, the questioner is himself subjected to questions. People who are short on experience feel free to expound on their “exhaustive” wisdom gained by “long” observation; religious mouthpieces speak from their sacred desks without Scriptural proof texts; low information types cheerfully regurgitate the latest current societal perversion as if it was normative morality; and educators and politicians revisit recycled programs that have demonstrably failed in the past. I had a pastor who used to say that these “wise counselors” were “like Grape Nuts cereal—neither grapes nor nuts.” They all are neither wise nor counselors.

According to our text, the value of any, and all, counsel that you receive is determined by how it relates to the Lord Jesus Christ. This is written to a generation of the Church that had seen some of their leadership die for the cause of Christ and had been influenced by various winds of doctrinal error that were sounding their siren calls to any who would listen. The very real danger of salvation by grace being replaced by some other form of works-oriented gospel was the reason for the writing of the book of Hebrews, and is worth a revisit today.

As verse 8 ably states, Jesus (Jehovah saves) Christ (the Anointed One) is the unchangeable God. Using words that, to the Jewish ear, can only be ascribed to God Himself, the author declares that Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today, and forever! Psalm 90:1–4 would echo in their hearts, “Jehovah…Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God…for a thousand years in Your sight are like yesterday when it is past, and like a watch in the night.” The conclusion must be that Jesus Christ, Jehovah, is the touchstone of any wisdom to be had on this earth and in the life beyond.

Verse 7 carefully admonishes the Hebrew converts to take note of, and keep on imitating, the faith of their leaders, both present ones and those who have finished their course on earth. What the author is asking them to do is take note of their “rule” over them—the place where preaching and life meet. Leaders in any church have only two biblical drivers behind their authority—how they handle the Word of God and how they serve as living examples of applying biblical truth to their own personal lives?—?in short, by preaching and by example. Verse 7 plainly describes the requirements of their servant leadership. The flock is to honor the spoken word, imitate their faith, and consider attentively their conduct and manner of life. This is what feeds the flock over which God has made them shepherds.

It is at this point that the author of Hebrews interjects the admonition about the indispensability of Jesus Christ. He is indeed the same yesterday, today, and forever. It is as if the author has dropped the anchor of the ship of the church and snagged the anchor firmly on the bedrock of Jesus Christ. For all the well-wishing open-handed advice, and kindly shepherding, if it, in its entirety, is not firmly anchored immoveably in Christ alone, their leadership is merely that of a well-intentioned, worldly-wise individual. There is nothing that, do-or-die, must be imitated and emulated. There is no eternal force behind their words and their example.

Verse 9 amplifies the lesson of the previous two verses. The author warns against the tides of change that will always be with each succeeding generation of believers. And here is his nugget of gold from the mine of God’s wisdom: “For it is good that the heart be established [made firm] by grace!” There is no other food for the soul than the grace of God (Hebrews 2:9, 4:16, 10:29, 12:14–15). All the experiences that produce earth-bound wisdom cannot hold a candle to the wisdom that is from above. Seek out God’s wisdom to feed your soul and measure every bit of advice you receive by it. Trust and obey.