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Paying Attention to Ourselves – Last of the Hebrews New Years Series February 10, 2008

Posted by roberttalley in Eternal Security, Hebrews, Religion, Sermons.
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PAYING ATTENTION TO YOURSELVES

Hebrews 4:11-16

The Word of God can be summed up in one person. Jesus Christ, the Word. Jesus is called the Word in several places in the New Testament. Jesus was not sent with a word from God but was sent into the world as the Word of God. It is for this reason that it is absolutely necessary for us to understand that the commands in the book of Hebrews to pay attention to ourselves, to pay attention to our faith, to pay attention to the word of God, etc. are ultimately tied in to the theme of this book, paying attention to Jesus Christ. In other words, to pay attention to myself spiritually means to pay attention to Jesus Christ.

 

THE PROBLEM OF HEBREWS

When we read the book of Hebrews we have a problem. The writer addresses the readers as people who have faith in Christ who are in danger of rejecting Christ.

Buist Fanning puts it this way, “The passages [in Hebrews] seem to say that genuine Christians should persevere in faithfulness but may instead repudiate Christ and so fall into eternal condemnation, but Christ’s work in and for them will absolutely not fail to bring them through to eternal salvation! This synthesis is, of course, less than satisfying, and it is not credible that our author’s theology contradicts itself so blatantly within the same passages addressed to the same situation. Our reading of one or more of the elements obviously needs to be adjusted” (page 205 Four Views on the Warning Passages in Hebrews Herbert W. Bateman IV, editor from his introductory sermon to the book of Hebrews).

There are a number of ways in which to deal with this problem. Some deal with it by claiming that you can lose your salvation. The problem is that this does not only seem to be contradictory within the book of Hebrews but to contradict the rest of the New Testament which teaches that we are saved eternally, sealed unto the day of redemption by the Holy Spirit of God. On the other end of the spectrum, we can assume that the awful punishments that are described in the book of Hebrews are not eternal but rather punishments carried out on Christians either here on earth or at the day of accounting. The punishments seem though to be severe beyond our understanding and are consistent with what we know from the book of Revelation as eternal punishment in the lake of fire.

When you read the book of Hebrews there is something that jumps out at you. It seems that the writer himself is certain that many, perhaps even most of his readers are believers in Christ but he fears for some of them. There were some to which the letter was written that the author was not certain whether they were saved or not.

Now this is not unusual. Sometimes we look at people’s lives and we find it hard to determine if they have trusted Christ. This book was written for such a situation. What we should do with this book is examine our own lives. Yes, we are to look at each other and encourage one another to stay in the faith. That is commanded in this book. First and foremost though, we need to evaluate our own faith.

WAYS TO EVALUATE YOUR FAITH 

There are a number of ways to evaluate our faith. We spoke a couple of weeks ago that the spiritual discipline that Christ brings in our lives is proof of the reality of our faith. It is also implied in several places in Hebrews and clearly taught in a number of other places that our love and commitment to our fellow believers is a clear proof of the reality of our faith. The point of Hebrews though is that the ultimate proof of the reality of our faith is the object of our faith, Jesus Christ.

OUR EVALUATION MUST CORRESPOND TO GOD’S EVALUATION OF WHETHER WE HAVE ENTERED HIS REST OR NOT. 

We find in this passage that rest is certain for the people of faith (compare verse 11 with verse 9). What is this rest? Christ is our rest (compare 4:14 with 3:6, 14). How is it obtained? Christ is obtained by grace through faith (compare verses 11 and 16 with 3:18-4:3).

God’s evaluation of the reality of our faith is certain (4:12-15). Nothing is hidden from Christ (4:12-13).

BECAUSE JESUS IS OUR HIGH PRIEST, WE NEED NOT FEAR GOD’S EVALUATION OF OUR FAITH. 

Nothing is beyond Christ’s sympathy (4:14-15). In these two verses we see Jesus presented as our sympathetic High Priest. Now Jesus was not always a High Priest. He became our High Priest to purge or purify us from our sin (5:1-9). Jesus came and became man but He not only became man but became our High Priest by offering as a sacrifice His life, His body, His blood as “…the new covenant, which was given for the remission of sins.” Christ came not to be an example. That is simply a fringe benefit of His coming as we saw a couple of weeks ago in Hebrews 12:1-3. No, Christ came to solve the sin problem. In solving the sin problem He glorified His Father and as God, was glorified which is the ultimate purpose of God’s plan.

Jesus as God in solving the sin problem is a very black and white thinker. He loves what is good and hates lawlessness. His attitude towards everything and everyone: you, me, our neighbor, everything is wrapped up in His love of righteousness and His hatred of evil. If He had not hated evil, totally and completely, there would be no reason for Him to die. But there He was. He desired to lift up goodness and destroy wickedness.

Jesus as a man hated sin and loved righteousness just as much as He hated sin as God but as a man He understood the weakness of the flesh, he understood what it meant to be tempted. He did not give in to the weakness of His human flesh. He was tempted but He did not sin. He sat where we sit and because of that He was qualified to serve as our High Priest.

THE PROPER RESPONSE 

Let’s be a people of faith (verses 11, 14, 16). To be a person of faith demands diligence (verse 11). The word “diligence” implies exertion and intentionality. In this verse, the response is obedience to Jesus Christ, the Faithful and True Word resulting in the rest that only God can and does provide for men who put their faith in Christ.

One thing about a command. You must respond appropriately. If you neglect the command the command of God to trust Christ, if you are careless about it, as it says in this verse, you will fall. It does not matter how spiritual you appear. It does not matter what spiritual and moral advantages you might have, you will fall and great and destructive will be your fall.

To be a person of faith demands endurance (verse 14). Jesus is the anchor that keeps us from drifting away from God. It is our confession of Him that produces endurance in the faith. People sometimes get disillusioned with the church. They get disillusioned with pastors. They get disillusioned with the people of God. They get disillusioned with the circumstances through which they must live. They get disillusioned with the weakness of their sinful flesh. They get disillusioned with the seeming unfairness of this world. It is when you are disillusioned with others, with yourself, with God, it is in those times that the reality of your faith in Christ, that the reality of your confession of Him is shown to be lasting.

To be a person of faith demands confidence (verse 16). You need to understand that Jesus is God’s Word to you. Tim Keller put it this way, “…the gospel [of Jesus Christ] is not just the ABC[s] of the faith, it is the A to Z.” You need to anchor your being to Jesus Christ. You need to be absolutely convinced that Jesus is the only way to purpose in this life and in the life to come. If you are not sure, then you come to me and I and others in the congregation will make it a priority to teach you about Jesus Christ. Be convinced in your mind though that there is no one but Jesus Christ worthy of your devotion and follow Him openly and publicly.

The cleansing that Christ offers is yours for all eternity. Only Christ, our Great High Priest who sacrificed Himself can provide cleansing. He did this by Himself without any help from man or angel. Anchor your soul in Him.

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