Things That Belong

Wednesday, July 31, 2013, 7:33 a.m. – the Lord Jesus woke me with the song “Do You Love Me?” playing in my mind. Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Hebrews 3:1-6:20 because it was one continuous subject. I read both in the NIV 1984 and in the ESV.

Take Care

Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. ~ Heb. 3:12 ESV

These thoughts were addressed to the Hebrew holy brothers (and sisters) in Christ who shared in a heavenly calling. The writer was addressing these thoughts to the church, the body of Christ, the fellowship of the believers in Jesus Christ, and to all who confessed the name of Christ as Lord and Savior of their lives. And, these words still speak to our hearts today, for the message does not change with the passing of time.

We are to fix our eyes on Jesus Christ. He is our God, our creator and our Savior. He came to earth, took on human flesh (born as a baby), suffered as we suffer and was tempted in all ways in which we are tempted, yet without sin. He was forsaken, betrayed, denied, rejected, despised, falsely accused of evil, and arrested, although he had done no wrong; and he was given a mock trial, was beaten, spat upon, mocked, and was hung on a cross to die as though he was a common criminal. He did all this for you and for me, so we could be free from eternal damnation, be free of slavery to sin (day-to-day), and be free to walk in the power of God’s Holy Spirit within us in Christ’s righteousness and holiness.

Jesus Christ is faithful over God’s house, his church, and “we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope” (ESV), or “if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast” (NIV 1984) – 3:6. Also, we have come to share in Christ, “if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end” (ESV), or “if we hold firmly to the end the confidence we had at first” (NIV ’84) – 3:14. As well, we should all “show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end,” so that we “may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (ESV) – 6:11-12. Or, “We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure” (NIV ’84) – 6:11.

So, what is this saying? Basically, it is saying that we can’t count on a decision we made at an altar as a child or in our youth or even as an adult to save us. We can’t count on a baptism or church membership or church attendance to save us. We certainly can’t rely on our good works to save us. And, we can’t base our salvation on an emotional decision or intellectual assent to what Christ did for us in dying for our sins, which we may call “belief.” True faith in Jesus Christ, this says, holds fast to our faith in Christ to the very end, i.e. it is enduring faith. And, it is faith in action. It is not sluggish, lazy, casual, occasional, distant, and/or unconcerned faith, but it is diligent, persistent, passionate, consistent, courageous, earnest, and faithful to the end. It is not perfect faith, and it is not without fault or sinless, but it is firm, steadfast, committed, and unwavering to the end. Also, this faith is not fleshly, but is of the Spirit of God, working his will out daily in and through our lives, as we yield control of our lives over to him.

So, today if we hear God’s voice speaking to us, we should not harden our hearts against his voice, we should not be rebellious, and we should not go astray from our pure devotion to our Lord in thought, word or deed. We should take care that we do not allow evil thoughts and behaviors to creep back into our lives, nor we should we listen to Satan’s lies and begin to doubt God and his word, and thus fall away from what we have known to be the truth. Instead, we, as the body of Christ, should exhort one another daily. This means that we all have a responsibility before God and to one another to urge, encourage, insist upon, prod, advise, counsel, implore, appeal to, and ask our brothers and sisters in Christ to follow Christ’s teachings and to obey all of his commands, i.e. to live what they say they believe, but to do so in love and in all humility, being completely aware of our own ability to fall away if we do not remain steadfast and diligent in following our Lord Jesus Christ, and in obeying his word.

Strive & Obey

Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. ~ Heb. 4:11 ESV

And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him. ~ Heb. 5:9 ESV

This fourth chapter of Hebrews speaks of entering into God’s rest. For us, this has to do with our salvation and our hope of eternity with God in heaven. This is not proposing works-based salvation, nonetheless, because that would contradict with the teachings on salvation by God’s grace through faith alone. So, what is this saying then? It is saying, I believe, that there is effort and striving involved in true faith, but not in our human flesh, but in our humility, submission and surrender to God’s will for our lives. As an example, we have Christ Jesus who, although he was God, struggled in his flesh with the thought of all that he would have to go through to go to the cross. So, he asked the Father if it would be possible for him to be spared that cup of suffering, yet he said, “Not my will, but Thy will be done.” Then, it says that he learned obedience, thus, through suffering. Although he was tempted, he did not yield to the temptation, but he remained pure. And, this is the same way in which we are to strive and to make effort, i.e. in our submission to the cross of Christ.

There are two thoughts here in these two verses which are coupled together in one common thought and that is that if we persist in disobedience to Christ and to living for self and sinful pleasure, and we refuse God’s voice speaking to us, we are in danger of falling from the hope we profess, and of not entering into God’s salvation, because we rested our hope in a lie that said obedience to Christ and repentance were not necessary for our salvation. This second verse alone spells it out for us. Jesus Christ became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, not perfectly, and not sinlessly, but who consistently choose to walk in obedience, submitting to the cross and to Christ, and who do not continue in a lifestyle of willful disobedience after they have said they believed (Cf. 1 Jn.; Ro. 6). One day we will all give an account to God for what we did with Jesus Christ and his salvation. Make sure today, while you still have today, that your faith is genuine faith.

Then, the writer of Hebrews addressed those believers among the fellowship who had become dull of hearing. These were not new believers (those who confessed faith in Jesus Christ), but they had been Christians for some amount of time to where, by now they should have reached a certain level of maturity to where they could teach others. Yet, they were still acting as though they were just babes in Christ without knowledge of what God required of them in thought, word or deed. And, they still kept going back to the foundations of what they were taught, as though they still didn’t get it. And, there are many among us today who are right where they were, still grappling to even know and understand what salvation, faith and a walk with Christ is all about, even though they have known Christ or have confessed Christ for many years. And, so they remain stagnant.

The spiritually mature, on the other hand, “have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil” (5:14 ESV). Notice the word “practice.” This means they have put into practice the things they have heard and have learned, instead of them still grappling to even know why they exist and/or to understand what God has for them. It means they are growing in their faith and their walks with the Lord Jesus through obedience, surrender, submission, commitment, and walks of faith which yield to the control of the Holy Spirit of God on a daily basis, not perfectly, and not without any sin, but daily dying to sin and to self and by surrendering their wills to the will of God in heaven.

So, the warning here is that we should get with the program, i.e. we should stop living for sin and self, and we should stop just floating along through life, not knowing where we are going, and just living by our feelings, doing what we want instead of what God wants. We should stop pretending as though we don’t know what God requires when we do. We should cease with looking at ourselves in a mirror and consistently walking away, forgetting what we look like, and claiming we don’t know. We do know! If we have known Christ long enough to be teachers of the word and to be expected by God to be spiritually mature, then we do know, and we should walk in the truth of what we know. At the very least, the danger is that we risk missing out on all the blessings of obedience that Christ has for us, and the effect we could have had for the gospel of Jesus Christ in the lives of others. At the very greatest, we risk hearing “I never knew you,” because we were depending on a lie, and thought we could just get by.

Things that Belong

Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things—things that belong to salvation. ~ Heb. 6:9 ESV

Now the writer switched to speak to those in whom he had confidence that their lives exemplified the kind of faith that accompanies salvation. And, then he gave us some thoughts on what belongs to salvation. I will add to this list from these other chapters, as well. These are the qualities of true and genuine believing faith that results in salvation:

· Labor in the Lord, in his power and strength working within us
· Love shown for his name in serving the saints of God (Christ as our example)
· Earnestness in this work and love to the end
· Swiftly fled sin and rushed to embrace or to take refuge in the hope we have in Christ of freedom from slavery to sin and eternal damnation and freedom to walk in Christ’s righteousness and holiness – we have this hope as a steadfast anchor.
· Hold fast (embrace) our hope to the end in all earnestness, and steadfastness
· Persist, continue and persevere in obedience and faithfulness to Christ
· Learn obedience through suffering
· Become mature and don’t remain stagnant
· Love God with all your heart and love others as yourself

Do You Love Me? / An Original Work / July 24, 2013

Do you love Me now?
Will you seek My face?
I have given you
My love and My grace.
Will you walk with Me
Ev’rywhere I lead?
Will you find in Me
All of what you need?

Won’t you meet with Me
Down upon your knees?
Will you obey Me,
And do what I please?
Will you hear My voice
Speaking now to you?
I am couns’ling you
To abide in truth.

I have died for you;
Taken all your sins –
Crucified with Me,
You have been forgiv’n.
I have set you free
From your slavery,
So that you can now
Live in victory.