Saturday, September 1, 2012

Steadfast Determination

This quarter we shall begin a study of “A Living Faith.” The first unit of the quarter looks at a five-lesson study in “What is Faith?” Each of the five lessons is taken from a section of Hebrews 10-13. Today’s lesson is a description of the perseverance of faith. The printed passage is Heb 10:19-31.

The law was but a shadow of the good things to come. The sacrifices were offered continuously before Jesus Christ willingly gave the ultimate sacrifice of His body. God was pleased with His Son as He was a willing sacrifice to take on the sins of the world. The requirement of the believers is faith in Him and His sacrifice. The other sacrifices were neither willing nor did they have the power to take away sins. Heb 10:1-10 Under the Old Testament, the priests would rotate to offer sacrifices, entering the “holiest of holies”, to God. In comparison, Christ offered one single sacrifice, His life. Now He sits at the right hand of the Father God with His enemies as His footstool and the Holy Spirit as His Witness. Heb 10:11-15 What does this have to do with perseverance of faith? The believers who have been adopted by God and united with Jesus Christ shall persist in their relationship through steadfast determination and faith. Perseverance is the proof or the evidence of salvation.

‘Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,’ Heb 10:19 The writer is speaking to his fellow Jews, encouraging them to embrace the sacrifice of Christ and have confidence to go into God’s presence and abide. “Therefore” refers to the writer’s explanation of why the priesthood of Christ as High Priest is superior to the Old Testament priests. As believers in Jesus we are now priests. ‘But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light;’ 1 Peter 2:9 We have access to God and can go boldly, without fear or hesitation to His throne in the “holiest of holies”. Access was given to us through the blood and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The veil was torn to allow each of us personal access to our Father instead of going to a Mediator to act on our behalf.

‘By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having an high priest over the house of God;’ Heb 10:20-21 By a new and living way, or new method and the living way, which was the Lord’s way, a path which He consecrated for us. He dedicated this path when He gave His life on the cross and the veil in the Temple was torn to grant access to all believers. His body purchased the access to God and He is the High Priest of the Church. Even though we are priests and have access to God, we still need a Priest ourselves.

‘Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.’ Heb 10:22 In order to be steadfast in faith, a believer MUST draw near unto God. Believers can’t seriously consider themselves followers of the faith and not follow close or near unto God and His beloved Son, Jesus. God is not mocked. Gal 6:7 1. When a believer draws near, he must do so in sincerity. God knows our hearts. 2. We also draw near in full assurance and confidence that God will fulfill His promises. Have faith to receive the promises. 3. Having been born again in Christ Jesus and resulting in a new birth through the Holy Spirit, our hearts will be sprinkled with the blood to deliver us from all manners of evil conscience. 4. Our bodies (lives) will be washed with pure water (the Word).

‘Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:’ Heb 10:23-24 At the time of this writing the Christians were under persecution. The writer is encouraging them to hold on to the faith. Be steadfast. Do not turn back to the law. God is faithful to deliver eternal life through Christ Jesus as He promised. Further, we want to excite each other to love and to perform good works.

‘Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.’ Heb 10:25 Because they were experiencing a season of persecution, many people not want to assemble for various reasons: 1. fear of further persecution, 2. lack of interest (no need for fellowship), 3. upset with someone in the church (didn’t want to mingle with certain persons in the church). We must encourage each other during our fellowship. We can’t sit idly by while our fellow believers are in need of the Word, Christian Counseling, food, shelter, financial assistance, etc. We must show them the importance of fellowship. All of this must be done in love until because “the day” is “approaching”. The day could be interpreted as either the pending destruction of Jerusalem or the second coming of Jesus Christ. The writer knew what was meant and the readers knew the exact interpretation. We can only suppose.

‘For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.’ Heb 10:26-27 After we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior, we have knowledge of all truth given to us. Why? ‘Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.’ John 14:6 Now that a person has truth, he have access to God. He can’t willfully, continually sin and think God will not be displeased. That is a deliberate rejection of why Christ went to the cross for his sins. If he is one of those habitual sinners with knowledge of the truth, he is an adversary of the Almighty. God will pronounce judgment.

‘He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?’ Heb 10:28-29 The punishment for sin under the law for violating a small portion of the Mosaic Law was severe. For example, ‘At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death.’ Deut 17:6 Yet the punishment for rejecting Christ is greater. 1. Those who claim to be believers should be more thought worthy than to “trod underfoot the Son of God. After claiming to be a follower of Jesus, never believe it to be acceptable to assert that you want nothing else to do with Him, deny Him as your Savior and positively reject Him as your Lord. This is the ultimate contempt. 2. The person who claims to be a follower of Jesus considers the blood of Jesus a common, unholy thing by which he was sanctified. 3. Said person insulted the Holy Spirit and its grace when convicted of sin.

‘For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.’ Heb 10:30-31 The Lord will judge His people. We all belong to Him. And those who have despised His Son shall be judged. Vengeance in this sense means full justice. God will sit in judgment on all who are guilty of it. Vengeance is His. For example, see Deut 32:35 and Rom 12:18-20. God is always just. His execution is not meant for followers of Christ. If you are a believer who are persevering in faith and steadfast determination, you will not have to worry about this execution. You do need to know so you can teach others, as Jesus commissioned in Matt 28:19-20. It is your duty to convert true and sincere followers to Christ.

Written by Deborah C Davis

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