Sermon: Persevering by Faith (Hebrews 10:26-39)

Persevering by Faith

Hebrews 10:26-39 (ESV)

For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,  [27] but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.  [28] Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses.  [29] How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?  [30] For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.”  [31] It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

[32] But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings,  [33] sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated.  [34] For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one.  [35] Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.  [36] For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.

[37] For, “Yet a little while,  and the coming one will come and will not delay;

[38] but my righteous one shall live by faith,

and if he shrinks back,

my soul has no pleasure in him.”

[39] But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.

What would need to happen for you to renounce Christianity and turn your back on Jesus Christ?  What if our government passed a law that said Christians could not own businesses and you are a Christian business man or woman.  Would you trade in Jesus for your business?  What if they passed a law that said Christians must promise loyalty to the president and worship him?  What if they told you that all you had to do was bow down and worship Obama and you could continue your life as usual.  What if they said you could still worship Jesus but they want you to also worship this political leader or king?

The early Christians suffered at the hands of Jews and Rome.  Many had everything taken from them and many even had their lives taken.  What would you do?

In the first century, there was a price to pay to be a Christian…a little Christ.

Jesus knew this would happen; He knew all that was going to take place.

Luke 21:12 (ESV)

But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake.

The problem in Rome was not Jesus per se.  The problem wasn’t that the Christians worshiped Him.  There were hundreds of other gods worshipped in the city.  The problem was that the Roman government saw the Christians as anti-Roman because the Christians refused to add other gods to their list.  In other words, the fact that they refused to pay homage to the Emperor was seen as being disloyal to Rome.  If they would have added one little bow or one little prayer or burned one little candle in honor of the Emperor all would have been fine and they could have went on with life as usual.

They said no.  The Christians refused to pray and offer incense to Caesar.  They refused to say Caesar is Lord. They refused because Caesar is not Lord.  Only Jesus is Lord.  To renounce their Lord may have won them peace with Rome but it would have also meant they would forfeit their souls.  There are always consequences to our actions.  Sometimes consequences are in the physical world such as losing a job etc.  Sometimes they are in the spiritual world such as losing your soul.

What the writer of Hebrews is encouraging in these 1st Century Christians is perseverance.  We, here today, are beneficiaries of this teaching.

The human need addressed in this text is the need we all have to persevere in the faith, to hold on to the truths of Scripture even in difficult times.  Hold fast to Jesus when everything else is taken must be our battle cry.

Truth Taught- I must hold fast to Christ in the midst of good times and in trials.

The implication of this text is that there are those who have remained a while but are in danger of falling away.  Here, we are given a warning not to ever throw in the towel, not to ever swear allegiance to anything or anyone but Jesus.

Let’s look together at what some of the consequences would be if we were to renounce Christ and turn to something else to worship…

1. Setting Aside Christ (Hebrews 10:26-31)

Those who have no faith

For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,  [27] but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.  [28] Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses.  [29] How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?  [30] For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.”  [31] It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

This is the fourth time in this letter that the writer has warned us of the danger of falling away and its implications…

Not making progress, not drawing near to God, not holding on to our confession, not attending church and stirring up one another.  The reality is that these folks may not just be lazy Christians; they may not be Christians at all.

The Holy Spirit wants us to realize that if we disregard the things of God there are no other options for forgiveness.  To disregard grace is to align oneself with God’s enemies.  God’s enemies will endure judgment, fury, and will be consumed.

If one turns away from the offer of Christ and the gospel there remains no other opportunity to be saved.  Most folks who fall into this category may not initially outright refuse the gospel.  They may even be church goers.  They may be those who at one time showed an interest in the things of the Lord.  They may have even heard and understood the gospel.

To renounce Christ means that one will…

Forfeit Forgiveness

For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,

Align oneself with God’s enemies

[27] but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.

Die without mercy

[28] Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses.

Waste Jesus’ blood

[29] How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified,

Ignore the New Covenant

and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified

Outrage the Holy Spirit

and has outraged the Spirit of grace?

Become fearful of God

[31] It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

The writer warns his people that to go back to their former life in Judaism and to that system would bring with it some extremely serious eternal consequences.  To hear the truth and to experience to some degree the work of God and then to turn away will result in eternal punishment.

Truth Taught- I must hold fast to Christ in the midst of good times and in trials.

What we need to think through is the fact that these who may have turned away, did so because they were never truly converted.  They didn’t renounce Christ and loose their salvation but renounced Christ, showing their true loyalty.  Their god was not the true and living God but one they had hoped would bring them comfort and prosperity.  When the Romans took that away, then the would-be-Christians turned their backs on Christ and went with comfort and wealth.

Matthew 13:20-21 (ESV)

As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy,  [21] yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away.

One can look to be the real thing but when trouble happens those genuinely converted remain and those who are trying Jesus as a means to an end will fall away.  Trouble brings to light the reality of one’s heart.

Other texts to look at…(Galatians 2:4; 2 Corinthians 11:26; 2 Corinthians 11:15; Matthew 7:21ff)

The tension is that those who are genuinely saved still must persevere.  We will experience trouble in this life and we must not fall away.  The Lord will keep His own and at the same time, we must persevere.  God is keeping and we are striving and the end result is salvation.

As believers, we must, by faith, hold fast to Christ all the time.  Our faith will be tried in this world but the trial of faith makes it all the more strong on the other side.

2.  Holding Fast to Christ (Hebrews 10:32-39)

Those who have saving faith

[32] But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings,  [33] sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated.  [34] For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one.  [35] Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.  [36] For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.

[37] For, “Yet a little while,  and the coming one will come and will not delay;

[38] but my righteous one shall live by faith,

and if he shrinks back,

my soul has no pleasure in him.”

[39] But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.

The doctrine being taught here is called the doctrine of Perseverance of the saints.  It’s known also as Once saved always saved and eternal security.  I’d like us to use the term Perseverance of the saints because the other names have added confusion to salvation.

The perseverance of the saints means that all those who are truly born again will be kept by God’s power and will persevere as Christians until the end of their lives, and that only those who persevere until the end have been truly born again.—Wayne Grudem

Only saints (Believers) persevere.  Only God’s children persevere.  There are many today who have made some decision, walked an isle, or prayed a prayer and were told that they were now Christians.  Some may be and some may not be.  The confusion occurs when those who did something are then told that they are now Christians and now have eternal security.  The Bible only teaches that those who remain till the end are the believers that belong to Him.

The key to perseverance is for the believer to exercise God given faith.  James tells us that faith without works is dead.  God keeping His people is His part.  He will keep us.  We don’t keep ourselves.  Our role is to persevere.  God preserves and we persevere.  We fulfill our role in perseverance as we exercise faith.

The Apostle’s Battle Plan in Perseverance

A.  Remember the Past (Hebrews 10:32)

[32] But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings,

Why would the apostle challenge believer to remember?  When we remember former struggles, we remember our hopeless state.  We remember how we felt as if there was no answer possible.  We felt as if it would never leave and we would be trapped forever.  We also remember the details of how God worked and provided just exactly what we needed.

2 Cor. 2:14 (ESV)

But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.

Without trials God could not provide the way.  Without trials He would not be glorified by giving us what we need.  Sometimes He removes the trial from us.  Sometimes He gives us the strength to remain in the trial, and sometimes he removes us from the trial.  In any case He should be praised.

Romans 15:13 (ESV)

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

B.  Care for Others in the Present (Hebrews 10:34)

[34] For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one.

Another key to our perseverance is that while we are in the midst of struggles, we can still care for others.  Some have the attitude that I can’t help someone else because I’m in such turmoil myself.  Once I get this under control then I’ll help them.  I want to challenge you to think biblically.  When we are in a trial if we’re not careful we can become self-focused and self-centered.  Understand that God is working in the trial to cause our faith to be stronger and it takes a trial to do that.  Another way to strengthen your own faith is to be busy strengthening someone else’s.  At the end of the day you can look back and thank the Lord because one trial has potentially strengthened the faith of two Christians.

C.  Anticipate the Future (Hebrews 10:36-37)

[36] For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.

[37] For, “Yet a little while,  and the coming one will come and will not delay;

Perseverance brings about the fulfillment of God’s promises.  As we endure hardships and having a rock solid faith the promises of God are ours for the taking.  I can endure hardship now because I know there is a day coming when everything will be made right and never again will trials and hardships be endured.  Sin will be removed and Satan destroyed and my sinful nature overcome with glorification, all will be made right.  So I can endure trials now knowing that the future is bright and glorious.

2 Cor. 4:17 (ESV)

For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,

Not only do we wait for heaven but we also wait for Christ’s return.  We anticipate His coming.  the coming one will come

All this brings about a strong faith.

[38] but my righteous one shall live by faith,

and if he shrinks back,

my soul has no pleasure in him.”

[39] But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.

How are those who are saved to live?  By faith.  True believers are not those who see the battle ahead and retreat or hesitate.  The battle has been won by the Lord.  We must never shrink back but be moving ahead.  Exercise faith in all areas of life and persevere.  Remain even if everyone else quits.  Run the race of life by faith and receive the prize at the finish line and no matter what else happens in this life hold fast to Christ.

We must hold fast to Christ in the midst of good times and in trials.

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