Agonizomai: Heb 10: 32-35 - Christ - Evidenced in True Believers

Friday, March 12, 2010

Heb 10: 32-35 - Christ - Evidenced in True Believers

Heb 10 - 32-35 - Christ - Evidenced in True Believers

Heb 10:32-35 But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, 33 sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. 34 For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. 35 Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.

The writer to the Hebrews, having delivered a stern warning regarding sinful living and apostasy would have the wavering Jewish Christians remember their first love. The way they responded to the gospel in the early days of the church was a very good indicator of their true regeneration. This is encouragement following rebuke. The skilled sermon giver always points to the hopeful news after delivering the curse of the law upon sin.

Their initial blush of humility, love and patience is believed to have been a result of genuine enlightenment. It is believed to be true fruit of the Spirit of God. That is the hope drawn from the evidence. And the Hebrews are reminded of that evidence so that they might be encouraged to believe that God has been at work in them all along. They endured hard struggles not because they themselves were strong, but because the Lord was their strength. They suffered humiliation (without retaliation) because Christ was at work reproducing His Own character in them supernaturally. They showed the good works of compassionate support for those similarly afflicted - because the one in whom Christ is working looks to the welfare of his brothers even when he is himself afflicted.

Notice that they didn’t grit their teeth and resentfully or reluctantly bend under the providence of God, but that they joyfully accepted injustice and persecution for His Names sake. They were blessed and they knew it. Their focus was not on their position or their possessions in this world (they were not North Americans) but upon that heavenly goal of the fullness of the presence of Christ in the fully come kingdom of God. Their minds were set on things above and this application of faith was what enabled them to endure with joy the tribulations of their temporal existence.

I note in passing that "those in prison" were not, this context, the general criminal element that some modern prison ministries serve. There is nothing wrong with evangelizing the lost who are in prison; God bless and increase those so called. But this passage is referring to the brethren in Christ who are imprisoned for their faith. To visit and support such people in the prevailing climate of the time was an act of love and courage that was itself evidence of the love of Christ for His people.

The confidence that they had then was evidence of their salvation. Men didn’t naturally rejoice in the loss of homes and loved ones, or in persecution, imprisonment and peril of death. God was at work - at least that was the indication. The better proof would now be that the first flush of enthusiasm was supported by a longer and deeper sort of endurance - one that set its face like flint, was not disappointed, distracted or dissipated by the realities of a Lord that tarries for His Own good reasons. Life must be lived out to the end. It cannot all be falling in love, but must mature into a quiet, deep abiding, unmoveable trust that learns to be still under His mighty hand.

Our confidence is not in ourselves, for we should and do fail all the day long when we look to ourselves. But our confidence is in the God of the evidence. First, the evidence of His incarnation, death and resurrection - and then in the evidence of His working in us to will and to do of His good pleasure. A place is already prepared for us. Our reward awaits us and it is Christ.


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