10:26-39

Hebrews 10:26-39

 

(10:26-31)

There is much debate among Bible scholars concerning to whom these words in Hebrews 10:26-31 are addressed.  Are they addressed to Christians who are in danger of turning their backs on God?  Or, are they addressed to people who have been exposed in some way to the gospel but never made a faith commitment to Christ?  Strong arguments can be made for both points of view.  However, whether you view the paragraph as having been written to Christians or non-Christians, in the paragraph are some basic principles about God's judgment which we all need to understand.

God's judgment is a certain reality

1.   There are two extremes of thought concerning the concept of God's judgment...

      --on one hand there are those in the church who simply don't want to hear or think about the judgment of God... they prefer to think of the God of wrath and judgment as being confined to the OT and that the God of the NT is the God of love, compassion, and forgiveness and that judgment is not part of His nature...

      --on the other hand there are those who want to hear nothing but the judgment of God...they think they've not heard a sermon unless the preacher pounds the pulpit and threatens them with a mean, angry God whose primary desire is to do them harm...

2.   As is true in the case of most extremes, both of those views miss the mark...the thrust of the entire Scripture is that God would prefer to relate to us with redemption and grace...it's God's heart desire for us to turn to Him and trust our lives to Him...but if we refused to do that, the inevitable result is that we will stand under God's judgment...

 

1.   This passage makes it clear that God's judgment is a certain reality...v.27 speaks of a "...certain terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries."...and in v.31 is that famous statement that Jonathan Edwards, the colonial American preacher, used to spark one of the great spiritual awakenings on American soil... "It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God."

2.   Point is we must not forget the reality and seriousness of the judgment of God...

 

1.      In reading came statement which is at the same time both challenging and disturbing...written by Foy Valentine about this passage...think it's worth sharing with you... referring to this paragraph Valentine writes:

      "This is strong medicine.  It must be remembered, however, that God is not an indulgent granddaddy and that the gospel of God in Christ is not a soft and shallow thing.  It is a solemn matter which has to do with birth and death, blood and fire, heaven and hell, time and eternity.  Here is a corrective for the bumper sticker piety and T-shirt theology which has beset us in this time of doctrinal flabbiness.  A morally frivolous age, bent on pasting up posters that insist we are all OK and that confound  the faith, confuse the faithful, and comfort the faithless, would do well to hear this prophetic warning, "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (v. 31).  There is in life and in the very nature of reality an element of unremitting judgment.  God's promises of judgment are as certain as his promises of grace, and we had better not forget it." [LBC, p.51]

2.      If we see nothing else in this paragraph, should see the certainty and reality of God's judgment...

 

If we experience God's judgment, it is because we brought it on ourselves

1.   That's the basic thrust of v.26 which says, "For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for our sins."...there are several things about that statement which are particularly significant--

      --the phrase "go one sinning" is not referring to one particular act of sin...it's referring to an attitude which results in continuous, repeated disobedience...this is not the picture of someone who occasionally slips and falls...it's the picture of someone living a life of habitual rebellion against God without regard for the consequences...

      --the word "willfully" which is placed first in the Greek for emphasis, underscores that the lifestyle being described is a deliberate decision of one's will...the person knows he/she is out of God's will, but just doesn't care...

2.   Verse 27 says the certain result of such an attitude is God's judgment and  verses 28&29 contain an illustration of this principle...in OT times anyone who turned his/her back on the law of Moses was subject to death...writer asks in v.29 how can we expect to escape judgment if we disregard the sacrifice God made for us in Christ?...

3.   If we choose to reject Christ or if we choose to rebel against God, the sure result is God's judgment...and when that judgment comes, we bring it on ourselves...

 

1.   That's the principle which permeates this paragraph and it applies both to non-Christians and Christians...

      --in the case of non-Christians, when people fail to respond to God's offer of salvation through Jesus, the result is eternal separation from God in hell...some people have asked, "How can a loving God send someone to hell?"...I think a better question is "How can a just God allow anyone into heaven?"...and the answer to "How can God send anyone to hell?" is that He doesn't!...those who go there choose that for themselves by refusing to accept Christ as their Savior...the Scripture makes it clear that our destiny is either eternal salvation or eternal damnation... which it will be is up to us...and we make that decision in this world...

      --there is also an application of this principle to those who are Christians...far too many Christians have somehow gotten the mistaken notion, "Now that I'm saved and my eternal destiny is secure, doesn't really matter what I do in this world."...if you think that way, better read this paragraph again...when we willfully, habitually, continuously disobey God...chose our way over God's way ...we bring upon ourselves the judgment of God...it's not that God takes our salvation away...if you're a genuine Christian you can't lose that...but you can lose the joy of your salvation...you can lose your intimate fellowship with God ...you can lose your purpose for living, your meaning in life...think reason so many unhappy, unfulfilled Christians in this world is because they are under God's judgment for being disobedient to Him...

                                                        

The OT book of Ecclesiastes ends with a wonderful piece of advice...after exploring a number of different things in an effort to find meaning to life, the preacher of Ecclesiastes reaches this conclusion:

            "The conclusion, when all has been heard is:  fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person.  For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil." [Eccl.12:13-14]

And because the judgment of God is a certain reality and because our actions will determine how we are judged, we should do what the preacher says..."...fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person..."

 

(10:32-39)

 

The key phrase in that paragraph is first part of v.36 which says, "For you have need of endurance..."...the word translated "endurance" means the ability to stand fast, to remain in time of trial...the picture is that of a soldier under enemy fire who doesn't break and run, but stands his ground...and in this paragraph we are told how to develop that quality in our lives...

 

To endure in times of difficulty we must remember God's faithfulness in the past

1.   Verse 32 begins with the phrase "but remember..." need to focus on that for just a moment..."remember" means much more than just to recall...it means to think back carefully, to reconstruct in your mind, to re-live in great detail...what were they to remember?..."the former days"...and the remainder of the sentence tells what happened in that period of time described as "the former days"...

2.   Interesting author instructs them to think back to the time in lives when their persecution most intense...

      --the intensity of the persecution is highlighted by the phrases "great conflict of sufferings" in v.32 and "being made a public spectacle through reproaches and tribulations"  in v.33...those phrases allude to the Roman arenas where Christians were mocked by large crowds as they faced lions or gladiators...

      --v.34 points out those not killed faced "the seizure of your property"...

3    .When  first read vv.32‑34 couldn't help but think, "Why in world want them remember that?  Those were terribly painful memories.  Why not encourage them erase entire episode from minds?"...and reason is because as painful as those times were, they were also the times when God was with them in a special way...

4.   The people who initially read this letter were the ones who made it through the persecutions being described here...they were the survivors...and they could look back on those  times and see God's hand of blessing and protection on them...and remembering God's faithfulness in the past would help them endure in the present...

 

1.   This is a lesson King David learned very well...over and over again in the Psalms see David looking back on the works of God to gain strength for the present and future...for example, says in Psalm 143:5 - "I remember the days of old; I meditate on all Thy doings; I must on the work of Thy hands."

2.   And that's a lesson we all need to learn...don't forget the times in the past, especially the difficult times, when God has been faithful to you...maybe it in the time the shock and grief of losing a loved one...maybe it was in time of financial crisis or personal illness...maybe it was when some special relationship was lost...remembering God's faithfulness in times like that helps us to endure in difficulty today...

 

To endure in times of difficulty we must anticipate God's faithfulness in the future

1.   The main thrust of this paragraph is not backward but forward ...time and again the writer encourages us to look to future with optimism...

--v.34 speaks of "a better possession" awaiting us...

--v.35 mentions our "great reward"...

--v.37 reminds us of the certain return of the Lord...

2.   Point of all that is that Christianity is future oriented...while the Christian event is rooted and grounded in an historical event --the death and resurrection of Jesus-- our focus should not be on the past but on the future...

3.   And because of our confidence in the faithfulness of God in the future, we can live lives of endurance in the world today...  

 

1.   How do you view life?...are you basically optimistic or pessimistic?...some people are always waiting for worst...others always expecting the best...Christians should have optimistic view of the future...

2.   Throughout Scripture, and especially in NT, God's people encouraged view future through optimistic eyes...most decisive event in all history already occurred…was cross/resurrection event...because of the victory  God won for us through cross, we can be sure that despite whatever temporary setbacks we may experience, God will ultimately win victory in our lives as well...

 

1.   Famous sculpture once was asked, "What is your greatest statue?"..immediate reply was, "The next one!"...and so it should be with our lives...as we place lives in hands of God, knowing that God is faithful, we can have assurance that our best experiences still are ahead...

4.   And remembering that can help us endure in times of trials today...Apostle Paul said it so well in Romans 8:18 - "For I am convinced that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us."

 

To endure in times of difficulty we must live in God's faithfulness in the present

1.   Role of faith in living full, complete life given prominent attention in last part of Hebrews 10...are told "the righteous shall live by faith" in v.38 and v.39 tells us that "those who have faith" persevere to the end...then, of course, Hebrews 11, the great faith chapter at which we will look in detail in the weeks ahead, begins by defining faith as "the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen"...

2.   Have heard said many times Christian life is life of faith...but in Christian community wide diversity of opinion about what means live by faith...some people, especially those in the neo‑Pentecostal movement, tend view faith as some sort of mystical power God bestows on Christians...in their thinking, if something bad happens to you or loved ones it's because faith wasn't strong enough..conversely, if something happens it's because your faith was strong...

3.   However, believe more biblical approach is to view faith as a conviction or attitude..to live by faith doesn't mean get whatever will for ourselves...it means live by conviction that everything God has told us is true..."Faith is the assurance (the foundation) of what we hope for (and in Hebrews hope is almost always equated with salvation)"....other words, faith is the stuff upon which our salvation is built...

 

1.   One person expressed it this way: "By faith we hold clear title to the property of salvation.  With faith in our possession, history becomes filled with meaning, life's present puzzle is no longer an insolvable mystery, and the unseen future comes into plain view in clear focus.  Faith is not the gift of seeing something that is not there, but the gift of seeing through all the haze of doubt and the pollution of sin to the distant city of God set on the mountain of eternity.  Faith is not believing in something in spite of the evidence.  It is living life for the Lord God in scorn of all earthly consequences."[Foy Valentine]

2.   And only as we are characterized by that kind of faith are we able to endure in face of difficulty...

                                                        

 

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