Agonizomai: Heb 10: 24-27 - Christ - Grace Not to Be Despised

Monday, March 08, 2010

Heb 10: 24-27 - Christ - Grace Not to Be Despised

Heb 10 - 24-27 - Christ - Grace Not to Be Despised

Heb 10:24-27 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. 26 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.

The point of holding fast in the light of what Christ has done is not so that we may stand pat in our own faith and breathe a sigh of relief that we, at least, have been delivered. We all tend to do this. The Israelites did this, failing for the most part to be a light to the Gentiles and becoming so isolationist as to be anti-evangelical. Read Jonah if you doubt this. Many churches today, and down through the ages since the Reformation, have gradually turned into little islands of comfortable interaction for people who already believe, gradually allowing the concept of personal evangelism to evaporate.

However, the body of believers is a body for the purpose of mutual support and encouragement. Not that we encourage each other (though we do), but that God uses us as a part of his means to preserve the saints and to grow them in grace. Insofar as providence provides to us the opportunity (and for most of us it does) we are not to neglect the help that God provides through other believers, nor to be yielded to him as the instruments of that help. God has designed that those who have should support those who have not, and that those who sorrow should comfort those who weep - and so forth. These are the opportunities for God’s grace to abound through His people.


Our (ultimate) salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. Jesus is coming. Jesus was coming for the 1st century Hebrews in very much the same sense. No man knows the hour, and so all men should live as though the hour is near. Will we be ashamed at his appearance, being found neglectful of our great salvation? Will we receive commendation or rebuke? Will we find ourselves to be apostates, never having known Christ, though we came so close?

We must examine ourselves {2Co 13:5} and honestly inquire as to our motives. We all sin every day. We are sinless until that moment when our eyes open in the morning, and it trends downhill from there. The battle begins with an assault on our faith through our flesh, through the world and the by the devil. So it is not that we still sin, but whether or not we still love our sin that is the indicator of the new life within us. And our hearts are deceitful and desperately wicked - more than able to trick us, when we do not strive to enter in at the narrow gate, to stay in the narrow way and to abide in the True Vine.

The reference to "if we go on sinning deliberately" can be troubling - and so it should be, because all sin is always deliberate. Nobody accidentally sins. There is no innocence, no claim of "I didn’t know" or "the devil made me do it". Every heart is laid bare before Him with whom we have to do, and we know that there is none good but God alone. {Mr 10:18} we are either careless, culpably ignorant or deliberately perverse - but in all cases we are responsible for our sin.

But if we are in Christ Jesus then we abide in the one who paid the penalty for all of our sins, and we have been given a new heart and the Holy Spirit leads us. Therefore we can no longer love sin, as we used to do. We may stumble - even repeatedly in the very same thing - we may struggle for years with a particular evil - but the very fact that we are striving is itself an indicator of the Life of Christ within us. But if we embrace sin, if we love it to the dulling of conscience and the hardening of our hearts, and if we do not look to Christ as the power by which it will be experientially vanquished in us, then were we ever truly His?

Note that the prospect is particularly perilous for those who have been under the gospel. They have heard and seen the truth. They have walked ever so closely to the truth, perhaps feigning to believe it, perhaps fooling themselves into thinking that they do. Their condemnation is terrible indeed because, though all mankind is guilty before God, the greater judgement comes upon those who have greater light and yet still reject it. They recrucify Christ by personalizing their rejection of him in the full light of the facts.

Many people who are now true saints may at one time or another have rejected the claims of Christ - perhaps numerous times. They may have heard the gospel a thousand times and been unfazed. They may have mocked it, rejected it or ignored it. Yet they were still able to be saved. But there is another case - the one who hears the gospel and never sees Christ because the truth is snatched away by the evil one; or there is the person who hears and receives the gospel with joy, but has no root and who withers and dies away; or there is another who accepts the truth and allows the world to choke the word, who never really gave up his love for the world and never really died with Christ. All of these heard the word and many were affected by it. But only the ones who endured to the end proved to be fruitful because they were truly the good soil.

Once more we look at this passage and remember the audience of first order - the 1st century Hebrews at the close of the Apostolic era. Some were tempted through weariness, fear, disillusionment or neglect to return to the "comfort" of their old time religion. But a great contrast has been drawn, centred around the phrase "no more offering (or sacrifice) for sin," as seen in verses 18 and 26-27 {Heb 10:18,26-27}

On the one hand is Jesus, the great high priest who has passed through the heavens, and who is himself not only the ultimate, but ultimately the only sacrifice for sin. In him is free and forever forgiveness. But he must be trusted and believed in the Biblical sense wherein he is received as both Saviour and Lord. This is via the mystery of faith and the cross.

On the other hand there is the prospect of continuing in wilful sin after having been enlightened by the gospel, by which is meant a rejection of the only possible sacrifice that is acceptable to God, and effectual for the removal of guilt and condemnation.

This is to burn one’s bridges. It is to saw off the branch upon which one is sitting. It is to shut the door from the inside against light streaming in from the outside. It is to have beheld transcendent beauty and declared it common. It is, de facto, to have seen Christ and preferred sin - thus recrucifying him. Once this threshold is crossed there is no remedy - no greater sacrifice beyond it. Such a person is indeed an "adversary" of God, as are all who do not believe - including those who have never heard.

Now it is clear that not all apostates are blown away by fire and sulphur raining down from heaven. Many, in fact, live healthy and comfortable lives until the inevitable moment of death. But such a thing is also a form of judgement. To be left alone and kept in a comfortable state of unbelief is a terrible place to be. This is God giving them up to the eternal consequences of their rebellion by removing the tribulations which so often humble us and send us pleading to Him. Blessed indeed are the poor - and the troubled.

But the reference to fire that will consume the adversaries is undoubtedly to the fires of hell where God’s enemies will be consumed eternally by a fire that is not quenched, and a worm that never dies. {Mr 9:43-48} And the reference to the fury of God is utterly congruent with the idea of His wrath. Unenlightened sinners, the lost, the so-called ignorant, the scum of the earth - all have this one thing - the hope that they might find repentance and be reconciled to God in Jesus Christ - the only Name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. If they haven’t this hope in themselves, the church can hope for them, and evangelize them in hope. But the Christ rejecter - the enlightened person who prefers darkness - the one who has tasted and seen and experienced the operations of the Spirit of God and glimpsed the beauties of Christ - such a person has destroyed all hope of ever being truly saved. And he has, to boot, added this to the wrathful condemnation that abides on all fellow unbelievers - that He has spurned the blood of Christ, the only hope of salvation for all men.

This is the dire warning to the Hebrews of this period. It is the means by which the true children will hear and be guided in the Way. And it is the voice of terrifying condemnation to all who will not hear.



2 Comments:

Anonymous Patti said...

Agree-As we look at this Scripture and it's truth, it keeps the true fear of the Lord alive in us, which helps us not to stray. That sentence you included about being kept in unbelief is scary. I realize, though, that God only does that to those who "will not see," or who intentionally turned their eye to what they had once known. I realized God's grace in our lives, of financial ruin for 15 years, even as my husband increased his efforts to work harder, and get himself out of it, but failed. In his utter failure and despair, he surrendered and gave himself to God. Only after that, did God save our children, and began to restore us in all ways. Praise God for His chastening Hand of Grace in our lives!!!!

1:58 pm  
Blogger agonizomai said...

Patti,

I haven't done anything with this blog for few years and am surprised that anybody still reads it.

The last 2 years have been the most wonderful of my life in which God has taken me through 2 different types of cancer, 2 major surgeries and 6 months of intensive chemotherapy.

During this time He has honed and changed me, always present with me and enriching my knowledge of Him in personal ways.

Being made not only to stand, but to grow and flourish through tribulation is the way we know we are children of God, and not illegitimate.

I rejoice with you in all that our God has done and will do in your life.

Blessings,


Tony

3:05 pm  

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