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Faith (1)...Hebrews 11:1

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“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”      Do you remember this camp exercise?   Someone would stand on a high pedestal with their back to a group of people standing in a line.   The person on the pedestal would be asked to fall backwards, trusting the people would catch him.   It was hard to have the faith to fall.      The writer to the Hebrews now begins a lengthy discussion of faith.   Recall the last part of the previous section: “But we are…of those who have faith and preserve their souls.”   Faith is central to enduring and prospering in the Christian life.   The writer knows the strength of the Hebrews’ faith will determine the length of their endurance in a world of sin and suffering.   They must have faith in what God has done through Jesus, what God is doing through Jesus, and what God will do through Jesus.      What is faith?   The writer provides us with the basics.      Faith is assurance.   Faith is not an irrational confid

Confidence...Hebrews 10:32-39

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“Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.”      What is the hardest part of a long-distance running race?   As someone who has run in a couple of half-marathons, I believe the greatest struggle is in the middle portion of the race.   In the beginning, you are fresh and excited.   At the end, you are motivated to cross the finish line.   But in the middle, you have the worst of both worlds.   You are tired, but the end is not in sight.   You must remember how far you have gone, remain faithful to what you are doing, and refocus on the ultimate goal of your effort.      This is similar to the call in this portion of the letter to the Hebrews.   The writer continues to urge these readers to remain faithful to Jesus.   How will this occur?      They will remember.   The writer recites how God has provided for these readers through the “sufferings,” “reproach,” and “affliction” they have faced for following Jesus.   Yet God’s people didn’t just hang on for dear

A Fearful Thing...Hebrews 10:26-31

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“It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”      Have you had this experience?   You are driving, and another driver does something dumb or dangerous.   You honk at them, and they respond by saluting you with their middle finger.   They have not only broken the rules of common sense and community safety, but they defy your challenge to them about what they have done.      Perhaps this is an apt analogy for the issue in these verses.   Let’s consider them by asking and answering a few questions.      Who is sinning here?   This is someone who has “trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the spirit of grace.”   The writer seems to be thinking of a person who has been taught the gospel, has shown evidence of believing and following the gospel, but now rejects the gospel.      What is the nature of their sin?   This person sins “deliberately.”   The Old Testament law has a distinction b

Stir Up...Hebrews 10:24-25

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“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works…”      For a quick breakfast today, I pulled out a vegan version of instant breakfast our daughter had received somewhere and conveniently left in our cupboard.   I poured the powder into the glass, added milk, and stirred.   And stirred.   And stirred.   No matter how much I stirred, a clump of sludge remained at the bottom of the glass.   My vegan instant breakfast was disgusting.      The writer to the Hebrews wants these readers to “hold fast” their confession of faith despite the opposition they face.   They can be confident in their access to God, but they must also take advantage of their opportunities to encourage one another.   They should stir up one another to love and good works .   Some believers are “neglecting to meet together,” but as these believers participate in worship, discipleship, and fellowship with one another, they will be better prepared for “the Day drawing near” — the day of Jesus’ retur

Hold Fast...Hebrews 10:23

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“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering,   for he who promised is faithful.”      Not long ago I had the opportunity to speak to a group of young people.   Instead of speaking, I decided to listen first — to their questions.   Somehow the discussion centered on the theme of doubt.   These young people were wondering whether it was wrong to doubt their faith — and what to do when they did.   They were excellent questions.   How would you respond?      The writer to the Hebrews has just assured these readers of their freedom to draw near to God.   As they do this, they should hold fast the confession of their hope without wavering.   The Greek word translated hold fast gives us the word “catechism.”   You have been taught certain truths, and you have believed them.   Now you must hold tightly to them and not waver.   Why?   Because he who promised is faithful .   You hold fast to your faith in Jesus because you know He holds you close to Him.      Is this the end

Draw Near...Hebrews 10:19-22

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“Therefore…let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith,   with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience   and our bodies washed with pure water.”      A couple is having trouble in their marriage.   The wife is frustrated because her husband isn’t home much.   She may complain, “He works long hours and enjoys his friends and hobbies, but he doesn’t have any time for me.”   If this is true, you might say to the husband, “Do you understand that she married you to be with you?”      Why did God the Father save you through the mercy of the Son and the ministry of the Spirit?   He wants to be with you.   The writer to the Hebrews now begins to discuss specific implications of all the truths we have discovered in the previous sections of the letter.   Because of Jesus, God’s people have confidence to enter “the holy places” of God’s presence.   A “new and living way” has been “opened” through “the curtain” of Jesus’ “flesh,” given for their sins.   Believers in Je

No Offering...Hebrews 10:15-18

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“Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.”      You plan the entire evening.   You pick the menu, decorate the table, and prepare the meal.   All the details like candles are in place.   From beginning to end, you are ready.   Your spouse comes home, sees the plans, and makes a few suggestions.   “Let’s change the menu…add some decorations…do this with the meal…use different candles.”   How would you respond?   You might say, “I have done everything to provide for this meal.   Nothing needs to be added.   You need to simply embrace and enjoy what I have done.”      The writer to the Hebrews culminates this section on Jesus’ sacrifice by repeating the heart of the new covenant, then declares about sins, Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.   The perfect Jesus has offered the perfect sacrifice.   Our sins are forgiven once and for all, for all time.   What could you possibly add to what Jesus has done?   Nothin