Our Walks of Faith

Friday, November 07, 2014, 6:18 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song, “For Our Nation.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Hebrews 4-6 (quoting selected verses in the ESV).

Thoughts and Intentions

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. ~ Heb. 4:12-13​

The Holy Bible is not just a book of history, poems, prophecy, stories, and parables and the like. And, although men wrote it, they didn’t write just their own thoughts. God breathed his words into these men, and they wrote what God wanted them to write. Since the Bible is God-breathed, it is alive, and it still speaks to our hearts. We can learn from history books and from other people’s writings, but only the Word of God has the power to discern our thoughts and intentions, dig deeply into the recesses of our minds and hearts, and convict our hearts of sin. So, I pray as we begin this lesson today, that we would ask the Spirit of God to judge the thoughts and attitudes of our hearts, and to reveal to us where we need to change and be changed by the Spirit of God as we surrender our wills to the will of God.

Another thought here on the fact that the Word of God is living and active is that it has the power to speak God’s words specifically to our individual situations, even though they are not addressed exactly in scripture. We read in 2 Tim. 3:16-17 that “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” What this means is that we can read about the lives of Bible characters, and about how God worked in their lives, and although what we read is not precisely directed at us, we can learn from it, and God can speak to us directly through his word to the situations we are going through today, and he can teach, counsel, correct and train us in righteousness.

Hold Fast

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. ~ Heb. 4:14-16

What does it mean to “hold fast”? It means: “to remain tightly secured; to continue to believe in or adhere to an idea or principle” (Google.com). So, if we are to hold fast our confession of Christ as Savior and Lord of our lives, and to our confession of his salvation of our lives from sin, what should that look like? – especially in light of the following verses where it tells us that we have a sympathetic high priest who is there to show us mercy and to give us his grace to help us in our times of need? I believe it means that we don’t waver in unbelief, and we don’t retreat back into sinful lifestyles when the going gets tough. I believe it also means that we live what we say we believe. If we believe Jesus Christ died to free us from slavery to sin, how then can we live in it any longer? We need to continue to reject sin’s temptations, and we need to walk in Christ’s righteousness and holiness.

Dull of Hearing

About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. ~ Heb. 5:11-14

Yet, many are not holding fast to their confession of faith in Jesus Christ. Maybe with their lips they are, but not by their lifestyles. They have become dull of hearing, because when the living and active word of God pierced through their hearts, and judged their thoughts and intentions, and convicted their hearts of sin, they refused the Spirit’s voice because they wanted to go their own way. So, they shut out the Spirit’s voice, perhaps time and time again, and so now they are dull of hearing because they have quenched the Spirit’s voice speaking within them and thus they are still walking in the flesh.

And yet, these words are not being spoken to those who make no profession of Christ as Savior, though, but to those who confess Christ as Savior and Lord of their lives. These are also not new believers in Christ, either, for he says here that they should have been teachers by now. These words are being addressed to those who have had or who have professed to have had a long-standing relationship with Jesus Christ. They ought to have reached such a level of maturity in Christ by this point that they should be instructing others in how to live godly and holy lives pleasing to God. Instead, they still have to be given the milk of the word, which is for the spiritually immature.

This is a call to move on to maturity, but we will never reach maturity as long as we continue to yield to our flesh and ignore the convicting power of the Spirit in our lives. We can’t hold on to this world and hold on to our confession of faith at the same time. The two don’t mix! We have to come out from under the sinful influences of this world, and we have to be set apart to God and to following him in obedience - to be whoever he wants us to be, and to do whatever he desires for us to do, and to go wherever he requires that we go. We have to resist Satan, flee temptation, and draw near to God. We have to listen to the Spirit’s voice and obey the Word of God. Then, we will be able to discern good from evil.

An Encouraging Word

Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things—things that belong to salvation. For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do. And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. ~ Heb. 6:9-12

As in any congregation of the church, there will be those among us who profess Christ, but who don’t really know him; those who truly are new believers in Christ, and thus are immature in their faith; those who have known Christ or who have professed Christ for many years but are still living fleshly lives, and so have not moved on to maturity; and there will be those who are mature in Christ, who are walking in the Spirit, and who are not making it a practice of their lives to gratify their sinful flesh. So, when the writers of the New Testament wrote to an entire congregation, it is not unreasonable that there would be a mixture of address from confronting those who are dull of hearing to speaking words of encouragement and comfort to those whose walk matches their talk.

So, to those who are listening to God’s voice, and are heeding his Word, and are walking in the Spirit and not in the flesh, we have these words of encouragement. God will not forget our labor of love which we have poured into the lives of other people through our loving obedience to our Lord and to his word. He sees, and he commends, and he appreciates our walks of faith and all the help we have given to others – physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Yet, lest we should allow this to go to our heads, and to allow ourselves to become prideful, we must be reminded that it is only by God’s grace, through faith, and this not of ourselves, that we have such a great salvation and that we are even able to walk in the Spirit and to not yield to the control of the flesh. We can still fall if we lose connection with the Head through apathy, complacency and disobedience. So, this is also an encouragement to remain faithful and to show this same diligence we now have to the end. As well, it is a warning against becoming lazy, and is an exhortation for us to imitate others who have consistent walks of faith in Jesus Christ.

For Our Nation / An Original Work / September 11, 2012

Bombs are bursting. Night is falling.
Jesus Christ is gently calling
You to follow Him in all ways.
Trust Him with your life today.
Make Him your Lord and your Savior.
Turn from your sin. Follow Jesus.
He will forgive you of your sin;
Cleanse your heart, made new within.

Men betraying: Our trust fraying.
On our knees to God we’re praying,
Seeking God to give us answers
That are only found in Him.
God is sovereign over all things.
Nothing from His mind escaping.
He has all things under His command,
And will work all for good.

Jesus Christ is gently calling
You to follow Him in all ways.

Men deceiving: we’re believing
In our Lord, and interceding
For our nation and its people
To obey their God today.
He is our hope for our future.
For our wounds He offers suture.
He is all we need for this life.
Trust Him with your life today.