No One Is Beyond Hope

That was quite a warning in the last post about the perils of facing a just God!  It is now followed in Hebrews 11-13 with a great encouragement that no one is beyond hope.  When someone points out your sins and weakness, learn to balance that with the hope of the gospel and the comfort and strength that comes through grace.

The author of Hebrews was preaching a sermon to those who knew their Old Testament well.  Now they were told that the Old Covenant shrinks in comparison to the New.  In the New Covenant your sins are forgiven and will not be remembered or ever used against you.  God’s laws will be in your heart and mind.  You will want to please God.  They all knew his quote from Jeremiah very well:

‘This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days,’ saith the Lord, ‘I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more’ (Hebrews 10:16-17).

This is so wonderful…forgiveness and a clean slate!  In addition, the author told them that God would work in them what is well-pleasing to Him through Jesus Christ! (Hebrews 12:20-21). Not only would what pleases God be in your mind, but He would actually, through the power of Christ, give you the grace to change and grow.  Why no one is beyond hope!

Once this is understood, the author lays out six ways to live (Hebrews 13). (It has a lot of similarities to “The Simple Life” from I Thessalonians 4.)

  1.  Love others–even strangers, imprisoned, and those with troubles. Share and do good.
  2.  Sex is exclusively between a husband and wife; no other partners before; none during the marriage (13:4).
  3. Be content with your life because God is with you!
  4. Watch how your leaders and teachers live and imitate and honor them, remembering that Christ is the ultimate unchanging example.
  5. Keep believing right doctrine without relying on rituals.
  6. Bear the disgrace of following Christ.
  7. God will work in you what is well-pleasing to Him through Jesus Christ and for His glory.

No one is beyond hope with this kind of forgiveness and help.  We can live simply even during these fast- paced days of constant interruption and visual stimulations via our technology. It is a simple life (not a perfect one!) made possible by His grace and for His glory.

Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. (Hebrews 13:30-21).

 

Warning!

Even though Hebrews is a sermon written to Jewish Christians in the first century, there is much that is relevant and practical for today.  Jesus is far better than any ordinance of Moses because He frees you from being bound by rituals.  Jesus is far better than anything you can give up because His sacrifice of Himself means there is nothing you can do to add to what He accomplished.  “It is done!” is a declaration of freedom from your doing anything to make your salvation more secure or complete! In addition,  “Justification by faith” is more than just a banner of truth; it is a gift of God:

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves;  It is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9 KJV).

Tucked in amongst all of these “far betters,”  the author gave some potent warnings.  They are piercingly relevant in our day of easy believism and much talk about the love of God.

It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:26-31 KJV).

For our God is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29).

For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put Him to an open shame (Hebrews 6:4-6).

Whoa!  These are arresting comments!

The author had given an example of drawing back from God and its awesome consequences in chapter 4. After witnessing the plagues against Egypt and their own deliverance at the Red Sea, the people of Israel drew back in unbelief .  They had certainly tasted the good word of God.

Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness:  When your fathers tempted Me, proved Me, and saw My works forty years.  Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, ‘They do always err in their heart; and they have not known My ways.’ So I said in My wrath, “They shall not enter into My rest.’  Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God (Hebrews 3:8-12 KJV).

Remember what happened to that generation?  They wandered in the desert for forty years.  Only after they had all died did Joshua lead their now grown children into the Promised Land.

THE TAKE AWAY

Don’t let yourself become dull of hearing and seeing  spiritual things. Spiritual matters are like muscles and flexibility: use it or lose it!  Instead, think about those heroes of the faith listed in Hebrews 11 (as well as the ones in Christian history).  They endured troubles and hardship, yet they kept on believing and patiently endured life without wavering or fainting.

 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,…(Hebrews 12:1).

These warnings remind us that our great God is one who keeps His word.  We need to hold on tightly to the truths about Jesus.  If we draw back and say things like, “”That was all fine for other generations, but we know so much more today.  Who knows whether those apostles were really a secret cell whose mission was to overturn the Roman Empire?  All those old moral codes are so out-dated, especially those about marriage between one man and one woman.  That is absurd!”

These Hebrew passages attest that with this kind of unbelief, you aren’t looking at a few years in the desert, but at eternity separated from the Father!

Instead, remember all those who have faithfully believed the Bible and gone on to endure troubles and suffering with grace.  You can too.