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Keep Pushing On

Date: May. 14, 2017

Author: Bob Henkins

Hebrews 10:19-39

Key Verse: Hebrews 10:36

“You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.”

Most of you have probably know this, at the end of high school, I didn’t know what I was going to do with my life. I didn’t have any plans after graduation. So, I started taking tests and interviewing for the military. The Marines and the Air Force were interested. After a short time, all I had to do was go down and take the physical, sign the papers and I would be on my way. But then at the last moment I changed my mind and went to Daley Community College. My time there went smooth and before I knew it, I was transferring to IIT.

However, when I entered IIT everything changed. First the tuition went up from $23 per credit hour to $230, ten times more. My parents couldn’t afford that amount, so I moved out and got an apartment with my friend and then IIT gave me financial aid. I also had to work three part-time jobs to support myself. Also, my home atmosphere changed and studying became difficult due to all the parties that were going on. My first semester at IIT I got my first D and it was in my major class. My second semester I got my second D, also in my major class. I was beginning to wonder if electrical engineering was for me. Soon I was dropping classes and piling up student debt. All the while my GPA was in a steady decline. Finally, I was kicked out of school. I wrote a letter and pleaded for them to let me back in. Fortunately for me they did, but I was on academic probation. If I didn’t turn it around, I would be out. However, the pattern continued and before long I was kicked out again. Around that time, I was also fired from two of the three part-time jobs I was working. In addition to those, I was kicked out of the apartment where I was living.

Have you ever wanted to give up on something and just call it quits? I was right there. That is where I was at, at that point of my life. I was ready to say, “That’s it.” However, one other thing had changed in my life as well, during my time at IIT, I began to study the Bible. A small spark had been kindled within me. I was encouraged to try again. It just so happened that a classmate friend of mine, his dad happened to be the dean of my school. So, I went in and begged the dean to let me back in. To make a long story short, God had mercy upon me and moved the deans heart to let me back in. Have you ever been in a similar situation, where you wanted to give up? It’s a tough place to be in. In today’s passage, we will learn of some believers who had been in a similar situation but they didn’t give up. They kept pushing on armed only with their faith in God. Through this passage, we’ll see how God helped them to do it, where his provision provided privileges, and how, if we let it, presumption invites punishment, and finally their fortitude that revealed faith.

Let’s start by taking a look at verses 19-21. “Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, ” From these first three verses, you’ll see that the words “we have” are repeated twice. What this is showing us is what God has provided for us. So, what has he provided for us? God has given us confidence and a great high priest. God has given us confidence to enter the Most Holy Place. This was something the people of Israel had never experienced or even thought that it was possible because entering the Most Holy Place was strictly forbidden except for the high priest and he could only go once a year and follow all the specific rules for entering otherwise he would be killed as soon as he entered. But now, because shed his blood and sacrificed himself for us the way was opened. This way was new to them, never before was this possible. When Jesus died, the curtain was torn from top to bottom forever opening the way for us to come and go essentially into God’s house. We became the children of God, and as children we are free to enter our Father’s house. And since Jesus rose from the dead, he was living and he became our great high priest reigning from heaven who sits at the throne of God working on our behalf as our mediator. And there we have it, our complete provision: God gave us an awakened spirit and a powerful mediator. These are the resources that he gives his children so that they can keep pushing on through life.

So, how are we to use these resources that God has given us? Take a look at verses 22-25. “let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” If you notice in these three verse the words “let us” are repeated three times. These indicate three privileges God’s children are given. We can draw near, hold on, and spur on.  That is: draw near to God, hold on to our hope, and spur one another on.

Let’s take the first one drawing near to God. When the Israelites first met God, it was at Mt Sinai when God introduced himself in fire, smoke, thunder and lightning. It was quite frightening. They couldn’t approach God, because he was Holy. The Israelites couldn’t draw near to God was that they were dirty sinners and God is Holy. Even Moses had to take off his sandals before he approached God because it was holy ground. But now they could not only enter God’s house but they could draw near to him because our bodies have been washed clean with pure water and our hearts are cleansed from a guilty conscience by the sprinkling of Jesus’ blood. One blessing we have when we draw near to God is that our guilty consciences are cleansed. How did you sleep last night? Were you restless, did you toss and turn? Psychologists tell us the human race suffers from a guilty conscience. This is the basic problem of man, but Jesus came to solve that problem. The heart that comes before God on the terms outlined here experiences a complete freedom from the sense of nagging guilt.

However, when we draw near to God, we should come to him with a sincere heart, not fake or business like, but humble and thankful with a full assurance of faith. Think about a full assurance of faith, that means living with a supply that never runs dry. Your dependence is no longer upon your weak abilities or talents, your gifts, your training, your education. Your dependence now is upon the flowing power of the Spirit of the living God who dwells within you, a river of living water, a supply that never runs dry.

The second privilege we see is to hold unswervingly to the hope we professed. Having hope is a privilege because without it we are already defeated. Hope changes everything. Also notice that those who have hope, should talk about it with others, profess it. However, our hope should not waiver. Hope waivers when we lose sight of Jesus or the promise of heaven, when something other than God catches our attention. When we become satisfied with what we have. But we should always remember that God is faithful and will keep his promises. 

The third privilege we see is spurring one another on to love and good deeds. Verse 34 tells us to “consider” how we may spur one another on. This means we should think of ways we can encourage each other. I looked at different Bible translations to see how they interpreted this verse and one said “be creative” and another said, “inventive” or “motivate one another” or to encourage passionately. I asked my daughter what came to mind when she heard these verses and she said “random acts of kindness” and that fits. What are we to spur each other on to: toward love and good deeds. The Ten Commandments can be summed up as loving God and loving one another, this is what we are to spur each other on toward. Good deeds are the practical way of loving someone. Spurring on requires seeing each other face to face, that is why the author urges them to meet together regularly. As we find out from the passage some of them had formed a bad habit of skipping meetings. I understand them, we are so busy and sometimes we may not feel like going out after we’ve worked all day, but still we shouldn’t stop. We shouldn’t let not meeting become a habit, it’s a trap, once you start missing meetings, you begin to miss more and more and then you find you’re not going at all and then it’s hard to start again. Another view of spurring each other on is the less likeable view. What are spurs made of? Pointy pieces of metal and they are used by horse riders to get a horse moving. The rider digs the spurs into the horse’s behind and it momentarily pricks the horse and it lunges forward. Sometimes we need to take this approach with one another, but it should never be done in appropriately out of malice and it should be taken incorrectly but view it as an act of love. Still it can be uncomfortable to do and to receive. Yet sometime we may have to do it and we shouldn’t shy away from doing it. In fact, as the day of Jesus’ returns gets closer, our meeting should become more intense.

This section of the passage really encouraged me as I got a new view of what our meetings are for, meetings are for encouraging one another. We should enjoy meeting together, if we don’t then there is a bad problem, either with our meetings or with us. I pray that all of us may really enjoy our meetings together and I encourage each of you to not only participate, but make suggestions and lead meetings as well.

The next section gives us a warning. Verses 26-28 say, “26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 28 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.” We should not take the blessing we’ve been given for granted, for presumption could invite punishment. If we keep sinning deliberately after we’ve received the knowledge of truth, that is after we’ve accepted Jesus into our hearts there is a problem because there is no sacrifice left for sins. Jesus already died for our sin, death no longer has a hold on him, so he can’t die again. The only thing left a fearful expectation of judgement. Raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. I think it was Voltaire who said on his deathbed, “Even now I can feel the fires of hell licking at my feet.” Even though he didn’t believe in God, he somehow had a sense of hell.

One question I had studying this passage was after we accept Jesus, we don’t stop sinning, so how do you reconcile to stop sinning and being a continuous sinner? The difference is a true believer after they sin, will turn back and seek God while the other will only harden their heart and just try to forget about what they’ve done. But we should think about verse 29 if we are in this category, the verse reads, “29 How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?”

What is deliberate sin? (v28) Those who rejected the law of Moses, which had to be confirmed by 2 or 3 witnesses, died without mercy, those witnesses only saw the outward action, they couldn’t see what was really going on in the person’s heart. Now think about the fact that God knows all the deep down dark secrets of our heart, everything we’ve ever done or thought. Not only does he know what we’ve done, but our motive behind it all. Therefore, those who deliberately trample the Son of God will endure a more severe punishment than those who rejected the law of Moses because they treated Jesus’ blood of the covenant as an unholy object. They treat it like dirt walking all over it. They insult the Holy Spirit and step all over the grace of God.

They may do this and think no one knows, but God knows and sees all. Verses 30-31 say, “30 For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” God is not dumb, or weak, or easily fooled. These verses clearly tell us that in his right time, God will avenge. (Deut 32:35, 1 Ki 2:32) God will repay each person for what they have done for all of us will stand before the judgment seat of God. (2 Cor 5:10) For God is not dead but alive and alert and can’t be mocked. 

In the next section, the author recognizes that the readers had already given proof of true faith. And he wants to encourage them to keep it up. Take a look at verses 32.34. “32 Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering. 33 Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. 34 You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.” In their early Christian years, the readers displayed love, joy and hope, despite hardships and persecution. When they were young believers they received the light of Jesus into their hearts and they were so moved that they were able to endure conflict and suffering. They were publicly insulted and publicly persecuted. And when others were persecuted they didn’t abandon them or run off and hide out of sight doing nothing. No, they supported those who were persecuted and stood side by side with them even when their possessions were confiscated. Why? How could they do it? Because they had faith that they had better possessions kept in heaven for them. Better quality possessions, ones that would last. This reminds me of the treasures we have waiting for us in heaven. (Mt 6) The ones where moth and rust can’t destroy and thieves can’t break in and steal.

I’m not sure what exactly was going on at this point in the readers lives, maybe they were being pressured to stop meeting with the Christian believers by someone. Whatever it was, it’s clear that they were struggling because otherwise why would the author write this letter. He wanted to encourage them. So, there was only one thing left for them to do, what was it? Keep pushing on. That’s it. Just keep doing what they had been doing. Verses 35-37 say, “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. 36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 37 For, “In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.” The author is almost pleading with them “Don’t throw away all that you have been given.” They had done the right thing, now all they had to do was keep doing it. In time, the tough road would end at the dawning of a new day when the living God Jesus returns.

Do you sometimes feel like the life of faith is difficult and maybe you want to take it easy and give it up? Do you ever feel like “why do I have to carry this extra burden compared to others around me?” I’m here to tell you, don’t despair about anything in your life. There is nothing in life that is too difficult that faith in God cannot help us overcome. Saint Paul understood this and he encouraged many people. Paul urged the Corinthian people to make their bodies their slaves so that they could run the race to get a crown that would last forever (1 Cor 9:24-27). He encouraged the Philippians “to forget what was behind and to press on toward the heavenly goal” (Php3:12-14). Paul encouraged the Romans “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom 8:36-39) And that’s exactly what the author here is telling the Hebrews. Persevere in doing the will of God and you will be rewarded when Jesus comes again. 

The first part of verse 38 says that the righteous will live by faith. These great words burned in the heart of Martin Luther and lit the fires of the Reformation so that one man could stand against the corruption within the Roman Catholic Church. It was not by circumstances, or by outward appearances, but by faith in what the Word of God has declared. All we need to do to reach the goal is endure in doing the will of God. The last part of verse 38 says God is not pleased if we shrink back, because that is not acting in faith but the author encourages his readers almost like a modern coach before a big game, “But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.” (v39) Because of Jesus, we have hope in heaven. Any suffering we experience will end and God promises that good will come. This world is pretty good, when God created it he said it was very good, but heaven will be so much better. One day we shall see it and it will be glorious.

Since it is Mother’s Day I thought what if our moms gave up when it got difficult raising us, their children? That would have been a disaster. Sometimes fathers abandon their families but mothers rarely do. Thank God for our mothers who didn’t give up but continued to support us until we could become independent and self-sufficient. I can only thank God for my mother, who bore with me and my weaknesses

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