Sunday, July 11, 2010

A Considerate Sequel to Hebrews, Part 7

This final passage (Hebrews 10:32-39) is an exhortation to endurance. We all have need of it. The Jewish Christians in question needed to be reminded that they should be busy in this life learning the will of God, and that will is revealed in His Son. God has spoken to us in His Son, and this is His final word, Hebrews 1:2. Soon enough the enduring Christian will receive the promise, and that promise is Christ's speedy return, the blessed hope on which every Christian throughout the ages (including the Apostles) worked in light of. They wanted to be found in their Master's will and going about their Master's business when He returned. To this end the Holy Spirit uses Habakkuk 2:3-4 to spur the Hebrews into fervent faith and action; the Lord is quickly returning, and those whose lives are lived by faith will reap rich reward.

The picture painted by the prophet is identical to that found in Revelation 22:12: that of God returning with His reward in hand, to give liberally to those who have run the race. Our lives are to be lived by faith, that is, utter reliance on God’s keeping and sustaining ability, so that our lives are conformed from the inner man out to reflect the growth and maturity that will certainly begin to characterize such a Christian. Those who draw back from the hope of their confidence, their confession, and their Lord are in very real danger of destruction (what the word 'perdition' means); first and foremost of their works at Christ's judgment seat and possibly of their physical lives if willful sin is flagrantly clung to. As verse 30 cautioned, “The Lord will judge His people.” Yet we are His people, and our conduct does not frustrate God's eternal plan of redemption in Christ.

Chapter 10 is a marvel of God's perfect plan of redeeming sinful men through the cross of Jesus Christ; cleansing and saving them wholly and eternally. Loss of salvation is not in view during the course of this chapter. Loss of salvation is not in view anywhere in Scripture, if truth be told. This thinking grossly undervalues the redemption Jesus Christ brings when we receive eternal life. When we receive eternal life we receive Christ Himself, through the Spirit coming to dwell within us, Colossians 3:1-4; John 14:23; 1st Corinthians 6:19-20. This is the only reason that the quality of that life can be coined 'eternal,' because God Himself enters and quickens us to life. We now share an aspect of the quality of God's own life; because Jesus is eternal and the Father has given us Christ we will live forever.

These marvels are (and I pray always remain) astounding truths to me. I formerly carried hypothetical views regarding Hebrews 10:26-31 and believed the writer to be referring to false believers. But the truth is that God is jealous for His name, and we who are His children have the privilege and responsibility of bearing that name. Reliance on Jesus Christ living His life through us in the Holy Spirit is our only hope of bearing fruit and walking worthy of the calling we have been called to. Anyone trying to live godly in his own strength in an effort to commend himself to God or remain in good graces out of fear of falling away fails to apprehend this spiritual truth. I barely have begun to grasp the depths of this truth, but I begin to see the wonderful threads of assurance, completion and comfort that weave together the New Testament message. My mother often says that there is only one message in the Bible for unbelievers: repent and believe the gospel or remain lost. The rest is for us, brethren; even the hard portions that we have difficulty reconciling. God's word is harmonious and never disagrees with itself. Salvation is of the Lord; He is the only one who will receive the glory. May God give us clarity to rightly divide His word. Amen.

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