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7 Sacrifices We Should Make

October 17, 2015

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The Lists of Hebrews
A Study of the book of Hebrews
Lesson 6 Part 2
Lesson Text: Hebrews 13

In Part 1 of this lesson, we established that we need a plan of action to finish the walk of faith like the heroes of Hebrews 11. They accomplished some extraordinary feats of faith because they trusted God.

They were not able to accomplish those things out of some cold, blind, new thing they had come to believe. They got to the point of execution because it was a lifestyle they practiced every day. Faith (and the ability to be obedient) grows with practice.

The Hebrews writer compared the faithful Christian journey to a race, and we took the time to explore what he meant. To be competitive in a race, we have to:

  1. Build up our endurance
  2. Execute on a plan

Since part 1 was all about the need to build up our endurance, we will now take a look at what comes second – executing our plan.

In Hebrews 13, the writer covers a list of duties that do not come naturally to people in general. Endurance will start to come in handy as we carry out the Christian duties listed in our lesson text. We will refer to them as sacrifices, but when we get good at practicing what is on this list, they become a way of life.

Brotherly love. Top of the List

(Hebrews 13:1)

As you go to your next worship service, keep in mind that brotherly love is one of the reasons for going to church. It is a time to strengthen the bonds among those with whom we study and worship.

Those bonds:

  • help us become teachers
  • help us become charitable
  • help us learn from the examples of others
  • help us feel grow to maturity
  • help us practice compassion

John has a very specific warning about our place with God and the love we have for our brother. (1 John 2:9-11) Practicing kindness, making connections and not being a busybody are ways to get into God’s light. Even if we have everything else we need to be in the light, a lack of brotherly love will shade into darkness.

Brotherly love is not only good for us; God requires it!


Hebrews 13:2 makes me think of Genesis 18 and 19, where Abraham and Lot granted hospitality to some strangers that turned out to be angels. Whether or not the Hebrews writer was thinking the same thing, we can draw a critical parallel between the two passages. If we make a habit of being hospitable, we will occasionally entertain someone who is a blessing to be around.

A congregation I used to attend invited Jane McWhorter to speak in a ladies’ day event, and my wife and I hosted her in our home. I promise you I got more out of that experience than all the ladies that attended the actual event. I treasure every conversation and insight I gained from our visit. It certainly helped me to understand what the writer was trying to tell us in Hebrews 13:2

Make it a goal to connect with someone new. The return on this small investment will be immeasurable.


Hebrews 13:3 urges the audience to remember those that were imprisoned or mistreated for their beliefs. I used to think this is not something we have to worry about in our time, but not anymore. Finding news about Christians dying for their faith is easy. It is even easier to find those who are mistreated because of it.

Members of the body of Christ deserve anything we can do for them to help with their situation.


Hebrews 13:4-6 is a reminder to be content. Those who are married are to remain faithful to that commitment. Gaining wealth and possessions should not be our focus.

Trying too hard to improve upon physical pleasures and increase possessions will cause us to lose focus on the race. It becomes one of the encumbrances the writer mentioned.

As Paul said in 1 Timothy 6:6 that godliness with contentment is great gain.


Hebrews 13:7, 17

The role of the church’s leadership is twofold:

  1. They are examples
  2. They have the responsibility for the church body

As stated in verse 7, The church’s elders are teachers and leaders. In Acts 20:26, Paul advised the elders at Ephesus to follow his example and provide the full council of God and to care for the flock. As such, they have dedicated themselves to be an example, and most importantly, being a good student of the word so they can aptly teach it.

Verse 17 says to be obedient to the elders. Following the instructions of the congregation’s leadership is given the weight of an apostolic command in this verse with our soul placed in the balance. Remaining submissive to their scriptural leadership is an excellent way to promote harmony and growth in the church.

Follow the Truth

Hebrews 13:8-14 requires our focus to remain to the word of God. There are hundreds of denominations claiming to be faithful churches, but teach things that are foreign to what the Bible teaches.

This happened because they didn’t protect their faith…

They allowed themselves to drift…

They failed to mature.

Jesus never changes. (Hebrews 13:8) So we can assume if Jesus never changes, but there is change in the church, then it must be the people that did the changing! Remember that the next time someone says the Bible is outdated.

If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
-John 8:31-32

Praise God

God absolutely desires our worship. (Hebrews 13:15)

Praise him in public.

Praise him among friends.

Praise him when things are not so good.

The “fruit of the lips” the writer is talking about here will nourish your faith as your ears hear your own voice praise him.

Final Thoughts

This list of responsibilities helps us shape the character of our lives through dedication to Christ.

The author concludes this epistle with a benediction, maybe one of the best in the Bible:

Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead,
that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,
make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is
well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever.
Amen. – Hebrews 13:20-21

Through this study, we have either discovered or been reminded of the Who, What, When, Where of the Gospel of Christ.

  • Who – Christ is the authorized head of the church/kingdom of God.
  • What – Christ brought with him the perfect sacrifice and salvation
  • When – At the time of his sacrifice he brought us a better covenant
  • Where – Down the path that leads us to “the rest.”

To make it all the way, treat it as a race: do things to increase your endurance and reduce encumbrances so you can finish!

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4 Endurance Building Practices

October 11, 2015

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The Lists of Hebrews
A Study of the book of Hebrews
Lesson 6 Part 1
Lesson Text: Hebrews 12

By now, I hope we have all read and given a thorough study to the “heroes” of Hebrews 11. We could spend weeks examining each one mentioned in detail and then weeks more considering the ones mentioned in passing. (Hebrews 11:32)

But what do we take away from all of that study?

What we see most often among the examples of faith in Hebrews 11 is the delivery of the word from God and the diligent response to obey.

The heroes did not always understand what God meant, or why he gave the commands, or even that the command was sane in human terms. In the face of these concerns, they did everything they could to carry out God’s word.

They took his instructions at face value.

They obeyed.

Since the Hebrews letter is written to the backsliding Christians of the day, his primary goal must have been to strengthen and encourage the fledgling church. They needed to be able to face extreme challenges. They needed to understand why they were fighting.

The writer gave them all the information they needed about Christ…

He also gave them everything they needed to know about what it means to have faith…

He even warned them about the need to protect and grow that faith.

So what would they do we do with all this info? What is the plan of action?

If we take what we can learn from this Hebrew church and apply it to what is happening today, we can develop a solid plan to get to heaven.

First, we need to build up our endurance.

The world then was not much better or worse than it is right now. There were simple non-believers. There was more aggressive opposition in the form of gainsayers. There were even some that set out to do physical harm to the Christians for their beliefs.

Preparation is key, and Hebrews 12 and 13 is all about preparation and practice to build up our faith.

Look up

(Hebrews 12:1-2)

I don’t know if the “cloud of witnesses” is a figurative or actual thing, but we can be confident that their example hangs over us for guidance. Especially Jesus, who cashed it all in for the faith.

If we think of Christian living as a footrace, (Hebrews 12:1) with various stages or work and a goal at the end, we get a sense of what the writer was recommending to us.

Look up to excellent examples, look up to Christ and we’ll get all the insight we need to win the prize.

Avoid Fainting

(Hebrews 12:3-4)

One of the first things new military recruits learn to do is stand. In the beginning, physical conditioning is less about extreme exertion than just mere standing. I still remember how sore I was after one week of boot camp. All we had done was stand in formation – a lot!

We weren’t supposed to lock our knees in an attempt to help us remain standing or else we would black out and fall. Of all the things we did not want to do, falling out of formation was right at the top.

It ruined the visual of a strong unit.

It made you doubt your comrade had your back.

It was weakness.

When a Christian brother falls to sin, it does the same kind of damage. We are responsible for ourselves and each other to make sure this type of thing does not happen.

Being able to stand up to sin is a major ability God expects from us – to the point of bloodshed. Thankfully, it is a rare thing to have to go that far. When we consider Christ as the ultimate example, we see that he was willing to do the same thing that he asks of us – endure to the end.

Do not faint!

Learn from the situations we struggle through

(Hebrews 12:5-11)

Life is tough, and God puts us right out in the middle of it so we can learn to deal with whatever may come to pass. Romans 5:3-5 and James 1:2-4 are two passages that make it clear we are better people as a result of trials and challenges.

If we take the Hebrews writer’s word for it, we are also enduring discipline from the heavenly father. God forgives us of sins when we repent of (turn away from) them. He does not clean up after our mistakes, though. We make choices, and we either cause ourselves or others problems when we carry out those choices.

We grow. We learn to make better choices. We are better able to resist sin. Just like a parent-child relationship, love becomes more abundant as a result.

Encourage each other to avoid sins

(Hebrews 12:12-17)

Encouraging each other was the first line of defense of protecting our beliefs (Hebrews 3:12ff), and here it is given again in the context of endurance building.

The metaphor that began the chapter is a long race where encumbrances will hold us back. Imagine a marathon runner in shoes with a poor fit. How many miles could she run before a slipping heel becomes too much to bear? When will the chaffing become so painful that one more step will make her fall?

One Mile?

Five Miles?

Eighteen miles?

Even if she could run 25 miles in loose shoes, she still would not finish the race.

This is what sin will do to us. It encumbers us and makes us less efficient Christians. How seriously do you take a so-called religious person that has a potty mouth?

Listen to God

(Hebrews 12:18-29)

Listening to God is one of the 7 Warnings to Christians from lesson 4.

We are fortunate to live in the time of the better promise. God handed Moses the old covenant in a fearsome way, so much so that Moses trembled! (Hebrews 12:21) The new covenant is so much more desirable.

We can get a grasp of how much God loves us through the sacrifice of his son. That once and for all blood sacrifice that speaks louder than the blood of able. Why are we so susceptible to ignoring it?

If we agree that the voice of God was fearsome in the time of Moses, how much more fearsome will he be where the blood of his son is concerned?

As the blood of Christ speaks, stop and listen to what God wants from us. That simple exercise will save our soul one day. It will preserve our citizenship in Christ’s kingdom and make us resident of the ultimate rest promised to us.

In part 2, we take a look at the duties of Christian.

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The List of Faith

September 27, 2015

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The Lists of Hebrews
A Study of the book of Hebrews
Lesson 5
Lesson Text: Hebrews 11

Here is an exhaustive listing of the places in the Bible that mention “faith only”: (Or “faith alone” depending on your version)

  1. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. – James 2:24 KJV

Yes that’s it. The complete and unabridged list.

Faith is a Milestone

Those who teach salvation by faith only use Ephesians 2:8-9 as the corner stone for their doctrine. Based on my research, the idea of salvation through faith only was first seriously taught by Martin Luther, who was born in 1483. It is therefore a relatively new idea that was not taught by the early church.

But you see, Luther had a problem with his theory. The problem was the book of James. Luther called James an epistle of straw and tried to cast doubt as to whether it was even a book of the Bible in the preface of the 1533 printing of his New Testament translation.

In order to teach the faith only doctrine, he selected John, Romans, and Ephesians as everything a Christian should know. A serious Christian knows that, like Paul, we are not to shrink from the full counsel of God. (Acts 20:27) Which is another way of saying we should not ignore Scripture that doesn’t agree with what we are teaching.

James 2:24 says that man is not justified by faith alone. Ephesians 2:8-9 says grace is a gift of God and not a result of works. How does one reconcile this apparent contradiction?

Here are some of the basic facts to help us show logically that salvation by faith only is a lie:

  • The context of the Ephesians scripture is about works of the law. He is speaking to the Jews about how they place emphasis on getting everything exactly right and offering no more. Works in that context are certainly dead and offer no value to salvation.
  • The context of the James passage is about performing works of faith. The passage from James 2:14-26 compares and contrasts how worthless faith without works is and how necessary works of faith are.

… Even the demons believe – and shudder! James 2:19b

  • I also point to Paul’s opening of Romans. It says we received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith (Romans 1:5 emphasis mine) Isn’t it convenient how the modern publications of the Bible hide that little bit of text in a section called Greeting? We can see Paul’s idea of faith has a condition that includes a component of obedience. Obedience requires action on our part. Just to make sure he was clear on that, Paul closes Romans by saying the letter was meant to bring about the obedience of faith. (Romans 16:26)

  • John 6:29 describes faith as a work. Jesus is answering a question about doing the work that endures rather than the work that perishes. Believing in God means that we are doing the things he told us to do.

  • Romans 2:6 says the judgment will include an account of our works. Romans 2:6-7 gives us both the good and bad rewards of the kind of works we perform.

  • Hebrews 11 is a list of people that took action based on their faith. Each and every one of them can be used to demonstrate that faith is not merely a frame of mind.

While faith is a very important milestone on the path to salvation, the path doesn’t end there. As I have outlined on my Gospel Plan of Salvation page, faith comes very early on that journey, but at this point, the seeker is only beginning to see the goal in the distance. God has never accepted a person’s faith by merely taking his word for it.

The Heroes of Faith didn’t get away with Faith Only

Everything we have covered to this point of our Hebrews study brings us to this point.

Without faith, it is impossible to please him. Hebrews 11:6a

Without believing in Christ as our ultimate authority…

Without understanding how Christ came with a better promise…

Without heeding the warnings to protect and grow our faith…

…we don’t have a lot of hope.

…for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. Hebrews 11:6b

We need action to collect the promised reward!

Hebrews 11 is often referred to as the Heroes of Faith chapter. I want to review a few of them with you to reinforce the length these people had to go through to get the outcome God promised.

A faithful attitude

Faith led Abel to offer the correct sacrifice. (Hebrews 11:4) All we know from the Genesis 4:1-5 account is that Abel’s offering was what God wanted and Cain’s was not. Sometime prior to this account, God would have told them exactly how to make an offering. We can measure each one’s faith through how how much they actually heard of God’s word:

  • Abel offered what God told him to offer
  • Cain offered only what Cain wanted to offer

This still applies to us right now:

Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God Romans 10:17 KJV

We need the attitude of Abel to do God’s will without apology. We need to have enough faith in God to take the actions he told us to take (Obedience) or risk losing out on his promises.

Did Cain believe and fear God? Did his actions prove it? He obviously thought so. Many people claim they are walking in the faith but are worshiping him in unapproved ways.

How faithful is our attitude if we are willing to risk doing things our way rather than God’s?

A faithful practice

Faith led Enoch to actively please God (Hebrews 11:5) As a result, Enoch avoided death.

We cannot hope to avoid the death of our bodies unless Jesus returns first. (Hebrews 9:27, 1 Thessalonians 4:15ff) By walking like Enoch, we are working to avoid spiritual death. Our walk with God is one that endures for our lifetime and requires daily maintenance. The writer emphasized that through repetition (Genesis 5:22,24)

We discussed in depth the warning of failing to continue on in growth (Hebrews 6:1ff) and this lifestyle of Enoch is an excellent example of just how to make that growth happen.

Would your life make the same testimony that Enoch’s did?

…for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. Hebrews 11:5b

A faithful acknowledgment of God’s power and ability

Faith led Noah to build the ark. (Hebrews 11:7) Noah had to make an incredible choice based on a serious lack of evidence:

  • Noah had never seen rain
  • He had certainly never heard of a flood
  • He had to build a strange vessel like God described to him
  • He was 100 years away from seeing the results

But he was moved by the fear of God. That kind of fear is the healthy kind. It is what we are supposed to have to protect our faith. (Hebrews 4:1)

That fear helped him get it done and took great pains to do it to God’s specification.

Like Noah, we need to honestly acknowledge that God will act exactly as he specified, no matter how long it takes. Those who fail to believe God’s word, or doubt the extremes that it describes do not respect God’s power and capabilities. There are many examples, but consider these:

  • Adam and Eve thought they could hide when they disobeyed God. (Genesis 3:8-11)
  • The Syrians thought Israel could only win from the hills. (1 Kings 20:22-29)
  • Annanias and Saphira tried to lie to God (Acts 5:1-11)

A faithful acceptance of God’s will as the last word

Faith led Abraham (Abram) to pack up and move his family. (Hebrews 11:8-10) God told him to go to the place to be revealed later. (Genesis 12:1-9)

Imagine that you are living a fine life that you suddenly must disrupt, leave behind, and cut all the ties. It must have been hard for Abram’s family. They were acting in response to someone else’s faith. Imagine how strong Abram must have been in his convictions for them to even consider it, much less go through with it.

God’s word should be taken at face value and be considered the final say in any matter. Every time we undercut that in front of others, we diminish our ability to represent God through our example.

A faithful lack of doubt

Abraham and Sarah had innumerable descendants through their faith. (Hebrews 11:11-12) But it didn’t start out that way. She had her doubts that a couple of old folks could bear children. She even tried to help God and got Abraham to go along with it.

Doubt takes many forms but it is those who overcome the doubt who become powerful like Sarah. Worry is a form of doubt that is our biggest enemy. We need to make sure our belief is the kind that takes God at his word.

What God promises, he delivers in his time.

A faithful willingness to sacrifice

Abraham knew that God could raise Isaac after he sacrificed him. (Hebrews 11:17-19) When God told him to take Isaac to the place and build an alter, he got right up. (Genesis 22:5)

God meant for his people to be givers. Yes, he could take care of everyone for us if he wanted to, but he provided for us in a way that allows us to do it. When we learn to be faithful givers, we demonstrate that we trust God to make things right.

He would never ask us to sacrifice more than he provided to us!

Abraham knew Isaac was from God. He knew God could give Isaac back. There was no reason to hesitate.

And he didn’t.

How quick are we to help when we see the need? What does the way we respond say about our faith?

What happens when we take away the action?

If any of the “heroes” had done nothing in response to God’s call, they would have met different fates. There would be no way to describe their faith because there would be nothing to describe.


Faith without works is dead and Hebrews 11 proves it.

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7 Warnings to Christians – Part 2

September 6, 2015


The Lists of Hebrews
A Study of the book of Hebrews
Lesson 4
Lesson Text: Hebrews 5:11 – 6:12
Continued from Part 1

Good Enough Never is

Have you ever wondered why there are so many denominations?

It is true they may have started because someone of influence was able to split off from a church body and teach things slightly different from what his original group teaches.

It is also true there may have been a need to split because the original was getting off-track and they desired correction.

Whatever the case, the key truth is the denominations could not have happened without followers.

And they needed many followers to make it happen.

When we consider two groups teaching two different things, I hope we can agree that at least one of them are wrong. The Bible teaches most things clearly enough that when we read it and study it, we can come to the same conclusion as someone else reading and studying the same passage.

So here is the question again – How can there be so many denominations?

I suggest it happened because the people in the church body got lazy.

Or lethargic

Or simply indifferent.

They allowed themselves to drift. They didn’t protect their beliefs.

They decided things were “good enough”.

Since the Hebrews writer is addressing Christians that are falling away, he eventually had to come to this difficult subject. It is a difficult subject because he had to come out and tell them how slack they were. That is something most folks – then or now – never want to hear.

Hebrews 5:11 says the audience is “dull of hearing.” Every Sunday school teacher, every church leader and every minister should be willing to point this out when they notice the brethren are not getting the basic principles!

Hebrews 5:12-13 teaches us that there are indeed beginner’s principles and advanced principles. The differences are pointed out not because of level of importance, (ALL Biblical principles are important!) but because there are some rudimentary teachings that all Christians should know. Advancing our knowledge through the stages of maturity is how we learn to readily distinguish good and evil. (Hebrews 5:14)

We can observe those around us and see many with an attitude of “good-enough” is enough. Most people quit trying to learn when it gets hard. They tend to follow the crowd and allow themselves to ebb and flow with what is popular.

Those that stay the course and strive to be the best are the ones to move on to maturity. They gain advanced skills.

They have the tools to go the distance!

The Basics of Christianity

Next, the Hebrews writer lists the six items that all Christians need to know. The proof that the world is not well grounded in these principles is in the sheer number of religious denominations out there. These denominations are the opposite of the “one body” that Paul taught us about. (Ephesians 4:4-5)

It is interesting that the writer tells the audience what the basics are, but he does not fill in the detail about them! This is a clear indication that we are “just supposed to know” about these things and be conversational with them. Here they are as listed in Hebrews 6:1-2:

  • Repentance from dead works – Changing our ways from the world is an essential step in salvation (Luke 13:3) Hebrews makes a case that all works are dead unless they are motivated by faith and love of God.
  • Faith toward God – A fundamental. (Hebrews 11:6) In fact it is so fundamental that many quit reading their Bibles when they see faith is a requirement to salvation.
  • Teaching of baptisms – There are around seven contexts of the word baptism discussed in the New Testament, including the one baptism of Ephesians 4:4-5. This is the gateway act of salvation. (Mark 16:16-16, Acts 2:38) It is crucial to understand how this fits into God’s plan.
  • Laying on of hands – Since the printed and leather bound Bible didn’t just fall out of the sky, God had other means to get his word out there. 1 Corinthians 12-14 is a discussion of the spiritual gifts the first century Christians were given to help spread the gospel.
  • Resurrection of the dead – I don’t know that we can ever spend enough time on this. The empty tomb is the foundation of Christianity. Paul spent his entire career on this teaching.
  • The eternal judgment – Sadly, many Christians think they are “ok.” There is a very big surprise waiting for those who haven’t given enough time to the idea that they will be held accountable on judgment day. (Hebrews 9:27)

Not being well grounded in these principles, these Basics of Christianity, is dangerous to our salvation. Without them we cannot go on to deeper understanding.

Without them we will fall short.

Falling Away

Make no mistake about it – Saved Christians can fall away.

The writer mentioned it in context of protecting our beliefs, (Hebrews 3:12) and he mentions it again here in this warning against laziness: (Hebrews 6:4-6)

For it is impossible in the case of those who … (v6) have fallen away to restore them again to repentance …

When a Christian allows himself to fall away, he is holding Christ’s sacrifice up for contempt. In this passage, the writer is calling this an eternal sin. Going as far as telling the reader that it is impossible to make his way back from it.

..but what is this “eternal sin?”

  • Paul told us in 1 Thessalonians 5:19 not to quench the Spirit.
  • In 1 Timothy 5:6 there is the idea of the pleasure lover being dead while she is alive
  • Hebrews 10:26.27 speaks of a willful sin for which there are no more sacrifices
  • We learn of a sin unto death in 1 John 5:16
  • And we find out that there is a condition worse than lost in 2 Peter 2:20-21

A careful contemplation of the above verses and their context reveals that any sin that we love or prefer over fellowship with God is a sin for which there is no forgiveness! How can there be when we block off the road that leads us out of sin with lack of action and the lack of enough knowledge to overcome the blockage?

The writer compares this to a watered and fertile field. (Hebrews 6:7-8) If you have to pay for municipal water, on which are you more willing to use that resource; A lush grassy meadow, or a yard full of brambles and weeds? If we are the yard full of weeds, our outlook is not good at all.

The way to avoid this is to keep trying. (Hebrews 6:9-12) That “earnestness to have the full assurance” (v11) is what it takes. Going out of our way to serve God is the only way to avoid slipping into the lethargic ways the author was warning us against!

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7 Warnings to Christians – Part 1

August 30, 2015

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The Lists of Hebrews
A Study of the book of Hebrews
Lesson 4 Part 1
Lesson Text: Hebrews 2:1-4, Hebrews 3:7 – 4:16


As I have mentioned many times through the course of this lesson, the Christians the Hebrews writer was addressing were backsliding.

Persecutions were discouraging them and the Judaizers were doing their best to pollute the New Covenant with aspects from the old law. Combine those things with basic human weaknesses and they had the perfect conditions for slacking off from their pursuit of the prize.

Do you believe Christians are still slipping away in today’s world?

Is the situation better or worse than it was when the Hebrews letter was written?

Five times in the text of Hebrews, the writer digresses from the main text to give some specific warnings to the Christians he is addressing. There are other warnings in the text where the transition isn’t as abrupt, but they address issues that are just as important as the “traditional” five warnings. In this lesson we will take a look at these warnings.

If we believe Christians are really slipping away…

If we want to prevent ourselves from slipping away…

…it is our duty to fix it!

We skipped over the text related to the warnings in the earlier lessons so we can draw them out all at once. In our discussion, we will see how they applied to the Christians addressed in the letter.

Most importantly we will see how they apply to us. I suggest through this lesson that these warnings are where we should start looking to complete our duty.

Key Warnings For Christians

As much as they are warnings, what follows are the building blocks of faith. Faith is much, much more than an acknowledgment (or a “worldview” as many in society want to say.) We cannot simply ask Christ into our hearts and continue on about our business as if nothing is different.

As we cover each of these items in more detail, consider whether we are testing them in the way we go about our day to day activities. As we will soon find out in the text, God will have a lot to say about how we tested him at the judgment.

  1. Pay closer attention (Hebrews 2:1-4) We should be more diligent in our Bible study. Anything that is neglected becomes old and useless faster than the things we use and protect. Neglect of our Bible study causes us to drift away
  2. Care for your beliefs (Hebrews 3:7-4:7) The lure of innovative worship and doctrine, or refusing to leave something old and familiar when the truth is before us will cause us to fall.
  3. Enter the rest (Hebrews 4:7-13) Following the word of God takes a lot of work and focus. Whether or not we take it on, we will be exposed by it.
  4. Work toward maturity (Hebrews 5:11-6:20) It is just as fatal to our salvation to do nothing as it is to commit outright sins. You see, doing nothing is an active decision and is therefore a sinful act
  5. There are no more sacrifices (Hebrews 10:26-29) The last and greatest sacrifice has been made for us. If we refuse to honor that through obedience, there is nothing more that can be done
  6. Listen to the voice of heaven (Hebrews 12:25-29) God always acted as promised based on the words of his prophets, how much more sure is it that he will act upon the words delivered by his own Son?
  7. Avoid strange doctrine (Hebrews 13:9-15) Any doctrine that does not come from Christ is strange or foreign. It doesn’t matter if we grew up with it or our best friend taught it to us. Stick to the Bible.

These building blocks are required for strong churches, families and individuals. When properly applied, they make the rest of God’s word easy to follow and a joy to be a part of.

Pay Attention

Imagine a sailor pilots his boat neatly and safely along side a pier.

That sailor feels great to be home. He is finally safe from the storms that came over him during his voyage. He certainly feels entitled to relax and rest from the challenges of getting that boat to his destination.

What if our sailor went to bed that night without doing anything else, because he was sure he would be enjoying the comforts of being in port in the morning? Where would he actually find himself when he awakened? Guess what…

Our sailor never tied his boat to the pier!

He allowed his boat to drift back to sea while he slept. Worse, if he got too far out, it could take a long time to find his way back to a point where he could get his bearing.

We are very much like our sailor when it comes to being prone to drift around (Hebrews 2:1-4) When we neglect the very things that give us salvation, we quickly run out of things that can help us.

If we make our way to Christ, but fail to anchor ourselves to him through neglect, we will drift away. Our soul is subject to the tide and currents of life and a strong bond to Christ is required to maintain salvation.

When our great naval vessels are in port and tied to the pier, a primary responsibility of the watchmen is to go check the mooring lines. Typically every four hours!

That is the same kind of diligence that the Hebrews writer warned his readers to have. As we continue to look at the warnings in Hebrews, this will be the common theme.

Be diligent and do not neglect your salvation!

Care For Your Beliefs and Get into Heaven

Do you test God?

If you know he wants you to do something, and you do not do it, You are testing God!

Worse – It is an indication of disbelief!

What jumps out at you as you read these verses?

7 Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says,

“Today, if you hear his voice,
8 do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,
on the day of testing in the wilderness,
9 where your fathers put me to the test
and saw my works for forty years.
10 Therefore I was provoked with that generation,
and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart;
they have not known my ways.’
11 As I swore in my wrath,
‘They shall not enter my rest.'” (Hebrews 3:7-11 ESV)

These verses remind us what happened to the children of Israel:

  1. God spoke to his children
  2. They hardened their hearts and were not moved by God’s demonstrations
  3. God gave them forty years to get right
  4. God felt tested by disobedience and discontentment
  5. God was provoked and gave up on them
  6. They never got to the promised land

The Hebrews writer wanted his audience to know their backsliding was leading them down the same path that Israel took. When we fail to obey God, when we demonstrate unbelief in this way, we are allowing evil to creep into our hearts.

Hebrews 3:12 says the opposite of what too many people teach. Unlike what many claiming to follow Christ try to tell us…

We can fall away!

Read it for yourself:

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

The evil that lurks within disbelief will chip away at our salvation. Just like the children of Israel, our entry into the rest will be blocked if we are provoking God.

So how do we care for our beliefs?

First, we have to get ourselves in the presence of other believers. (Hebrews 3:13-19)

Here are the writer’s exact words:

Do not harden your hearts

What is going to harden your heart – A group of fellow believers or a group of doubters?

What we hear has a powerful influence on us.

  • If we spend a lot of time with negative people, our own words will become negative as we listen to theirs.
  • When we hear ourselves say loving things to our spouses, our marriage bonds become stronger.
  • When we repeat things others say enough times, we tend to start treating those things as fact, even if we never did the research.

Being united with other Christians works just like being in an army. If that army is cohesive and following the same plan, the many individuals become a powerful unit able to accomplish much more than the simple sum of what each one has to offer.

Second, we need to remain fearful. (Hebrews 4:1-5)

Fear is not a bad thing to have!

  • Fear makes sure we look both ways before we cross the street.
  • Fear keeps us from walking too close to the edge
  • Fear causes our senses to remain sharp and on the lookout

A healthy dose of the fear of God will keep us faithful! And the writer wanted his readers to know that kind of fear will get you into heaven. The sharp senses that the fear of God gives us will keep our ears open and cause us to us to take the actions of belief when we hear him speak.

Third, we have to strive to enter heaven (Hebrews 4:6-13)

There is no occasion for coasting on our journey to heaven. Like the children of Israel who fell into the sands of the desert, we will fall away if we quit working for it. The lack of effort and urgency will cause the unbelief to slip in.

Maybe without us even noticing it!

When we stay on top of our beliefs, when we feed them and care for them, we will notice when we are are in danger of provoking God. God’s word is very powerful in this regard. We use Hebrews 4:12-13 so much that it is almost cliche’, but make no mistake – When we study and study and study and become really familiar with it, God’s word will expose our every weakness.

Fixing those weaknesses is the work we are responsible for.

Continue to part 2

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