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Paying Attention to Christ’s Coming – A Sermon from Hebrews 10 February 3, 2008

Posted by roberttalley in Eschatology, Hebrews, Religion, Sermons.
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PAYING ATTENTION TO OUR CHRIST’S COMING

Hebrews 10:19-39

 

As you can see from this passage, it was not easy to be a Christian in the first century. Persecution was an ever present danger. For that reason, it is sometimes difficult for us to really understand the difficulties that these people were facing. We live in a day when the greatest perceived threats to our well-being are an unprecedented housing market collapse. Although it is possible that persecution is in our future as believers in Christ, it does not appear to be imminent. In the New Testament days, the situation was much different. When we read the book of Hebrews, the book of Revelation, the book of 1 Peter, Paul’s epistles, we can recognize that these people did not have religious freedom as we know it. There was no bill of rights. Many of the freedoms that we value did not exist and yet many of them stood for God during that time period. One of the reasons that the second coming of Christ is mentioned so often in the New Testament hinges on the fact that those people, who were living in a very unstable situation where persecution of some type could break out at a moment’s notice, – those people needed both the warning and the hope that the teaching of the second coming of Christ brings.

TWO ASPECTS OF CHRIST’S COMING 

There are two aspects of Christ’s coming that every person should consider (13:25b-39). Although our circumstances are different, we also need the teaching of the second coming of Christ. There are a number of reasons why we need the second coming of Christ but two are emphasized consistently in the Scriptures.

The first is the expectation of vengeance (13:25b-31). The writer here has a particular group of people in view. He is speaking of those who sin willfully. Not out of ignorance nor because of weakness. Now what is this willful sin? In the context of this chapter and the book of Hebrews, this willful sin is a rejection of Jesus Christ. There are those who are in this congregation who the author is afraid that they are not really saved and that they are in danger of turning their back on the truth. They have heard the gospel. They have heard the truth but they reject Jesus Christ as presented, the Son of God who became man to die for our sins and to ascend to heaven as our eternal guarantee of salvation. They hear all this and for some reason turn away from Jesus Christ.

The language here is very strong. Trampling the blood of Jesus Christ, rejecting the very act by which Jesus showed His great love to mankind and their rejection is compared to a rude act of disrespect and rejection.

It should not be surprising how God reacts. We have a picture of the wrath of God. God hates sin, all sin. However, for those who know the truth of Christ and reject Him, the vengeance of God will be a horrible thing.

I know we live in a day when hell is a joke even to many Christians. I understand that the judgment of God seems to be far off. I understand that this is not a subject we enjoy dwelling on but it is essential that you consider the seriousness of rejecting Christ.

This is why many of the cults reject the doctrine of hell. That doctrine is horrible. Charles Russell, the founder of the Jehovah’s Witnesses began with a rejection of the doctrine of hell. Once he rejected that doctrine, he followed the path on which he had started and eventually rejected Christ as the supreme God, the second person of the Trinity. He heard the truth but he did not remain in the truth and ended up trampling figuratively on the blood of the Son of God. This is what will happen if we do not remain faithful to Christ.

ON THE POSITIVE SIDE… 

The hope of the promise (13:32-37). Verse 34 says that our eternal possessions are far better and enduring than our earthly possessions.

Verse 35 points out that our eternal reward is better than any earthly reward we might receive. In the next chapter (11:24-27) the writer gives us an example of someone who knew this truth. His name is Moses. Moses recognized that the royal family of the greatest kingdom on earth had nothing worthwhile to offer him. Think of all that Moses endured and he endured it because he knew that what God had for him was better.

Verse 36 points out that God’s eternal promises are better than any earthly promises. What does the word have to offer that will last? Nothing. Not houses or lands or bank accounts, not fame nor fortune, neither friends nor family are guaranteed to us for eternity. But are promises are far better. We are heirs and joint heirs with Jesus Christ. We will have fame throughout the universe as God points out that He died so that we might live at the throne of God. We will have family and friends forever in that eternal day. No more guilt. No more shame. No more sin. No more sickness. No more death. No more crying. No more fear. No more of the frustrations with this world that we experience every day. We will be with Christ and like Christ and serving Christ for all eternity.

The difference between the two is remaining in the faith (13:38-39). The writer quotes from Habakkuk. Habakkuk was a man who could not see how that God’s work could possibly result in the promises that God had promised but God said to Habakkuk, “Don’t give up. I’m not finished yet. The best is yet to come. The righteous, the just, will live by faith.”

WHO CAN FALL AWAY? 

Now there is a very important question we need to answer. Were these people who are in danger of falling away true believers? Were they people who believed and then became lost again or were they never believers to begin with? The writer of Hebrews seems to send mixed messages. He refers to them as brethren, yet at other times he warns of an evil heart of unbelief. According to verse 26, these people receive the knowledge of the truth. This is the same word that is used in John 1:12 where it says but as many as received him to them gave he power to become the sons of God. In fact the writer of Hebrews uses this same term to refer to those who are saved.

Heb 9:15 And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive <2983> the promise of the eternal inheritance.

What we have here is a situation similar to what we find in John’s gospel. John speaks of those who believe in Christ as those who have crossed over from death unto life. However, in that same book we find that after Jesus proclaimed Himself the Bread of Life that many of those who believed, followed after him no more.

What we are looking at here is perseverance. The writer of Hebrews explains what is taught elsewhere in the New Testament. If we are really a possessor, then we are going to endure. And if we do not endure, we are just a professor. These people who received the knowledge and perhaps even professed faith as a Christ fall away when difficulties come because they do not really have faith in Christ.

HOW DO WE PAY ATTENTION TO CHRIST’S COMING? 

There are two responses that should intensify in our life as we come closer to the coming of the Lord (13:19-25). The first is confidence in Christ’s sacrifice for our sin (13:19-23). Chapters 7 through 10:18 are the main course of the book of Hebrews. In those chapters, the writer describes how that Jesus is a better high priest than those under the old covenant. Because He is a better high priest, we can have confidence that the sacrifice for our sin is sufficient for all eternity. This confidence is described in two ways.

Draw near with full assurance (13:19-22). It is easy to say, “Well, I am saved forever through Jesus Christ. It does not matter how I live.” That is where we are sadly mistaken. You see salvation is not just an escape from prison with a new set of clothes. It is a release from guilt and a promotion to the highest offices of heaven and we need to live confidently in our faith. That will affect how we pray. I can come before Christ with confidence because I am free from the guilt of my sin.

CONFESSION OF A RIDE ON A ROLLER COASTER 

Hold fast without wavering (13:23). Several years ago our family went to a theme park in Florida. In that park they had several roller coasters. My son was old enough and tall enough to ride them and so I had to go along also. This particular coaster was a double coaster where you had two coasters going simultaneously and they would pass each other in such a way that supposedly it would look like they were about to collide into one another. Now I go on that coaster and rode with Phil on it but I never saw the other coaster. I was preoccupied with other things. I was holding fast without wavering. Now the phrase actually means to hold in possession without giving up it up for one second. One that ride, I decided that those two bars belonged to me and I never for one second even thought about turning loose or even of relaxing my grip on those bars. I was holding fast without wavering. Those bars were mine! That is what faith in Christ is. No matter how rough the ride is, you hold on to Christ. Now I did not do a thing to bring myself in safely off of that ride. Neither did I feel much confidence on that ride. The point here is not that you can save yourself or keep yourself safe. The world is too rough and sin is too alluring and we are too weak and too sinful and too fearful but God gives us those two bars to hold on to. He says, Christ died for you. Hold on without wavering. Never let go of Jesus Christ.

CHRIST’S COMING AND MY FELLOW BELIEVER 

Consideration of each other’s spiritual condition (13:24-25). Compare 10:24-25 with 3:12-15. Again we see the importance of the church in encouraging people to remain in the faith. In what two ways can we do this?

By consistent contact with each other. Now I dwelt on this a lot last week, so I am only going to make a brief comment. Often I have heard people say that it is not the number of times that go to church during the week that prove whether you are spiritual or not. They are absolutely right. What consistent church attendance proves is not directly your spirituality but rather your connection to and with the body of Christ. My church attendance is not about me. In fact, in the context here, the importance of my church attendance and connection with other believers is directly related to reaching those people within the church’s influence with the truth of Christ. If I am involved with my church family, I will have the opportunity through word and deed to keep someone from trampling on the blood of Christ. I may keep someone from receiving the knowledge of Christ and then willfully spurning His sacrifice.

I know that people are so scared of legalism especially in this matter of church attendance. When did it become legalism to love your family and to expect your family to love you. When did it become legalism to care if the people you worship with are going to stay in the faith or not.

IT IS NOT ENOUGH TO ATTEND CHURCH EVERY TIME THE DOORS ARE OPEN. 

By constant exhortation of one another we pay attention to the coming of Christ. You see church attendance without connection with other believers is not enough. The purpose of church attendance, the purpose of prayer groups, the purpose of service within the church, the purpose of worship music, the purpose of youth group, the purpose of Awanas, the purpose of Bible studies, the purpose for our existence is to find ways in which we can encourage one another to remain in the faith.

Why does this matter? The Day is approaching. Jesus Christ is coming. We need to intensify our hold on the faith and the way that we love each other. He could come today. Are you ready?

 

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