Hebrews 10:32-39 – Keep On Keeping On!
By Pastor Lee Hemen
December 2, 2012 AM
Do you remember when you first came to Christ, how you felt, and how others viewed your conversion? Were you excited, were they excited for you, and what about your friends? When I came to faith in Christ, my family was not that thrilled and my friends did not understand. In fact, from both groups I received a certain amount of grief. In fact, my boss bluntly told me that he could not stand Christians and would make my life miserable. How did your salvation change your life and what in your faith makes you want to keep on keeping on in life? These very important questions challenge us to make some thoughtful answers.
The author of Hebrews knew his listeners were confused and wanted the easy way out by going back to what they felt was spiritually comfortable for them. Sin often works that way. Sin usually occurs in our lives not because some dramatically evil thing entices us, but rather because we get lazy or lackadaisical and we feel it is easier for us to sin than not to do so. Spiritual laziness is the root of a lot of sin in our lives. So, then, how do we keep on keeping on in our faith when we have a proclivity to snooze rather than do for our faith? Let’s find out what Hebrews teaches us this morning…
We truly live in an era where everything in our lives must revolve around us. It is all about “me”, so much so that we have regulated our faith into the same myopic gutter. Many have forgotten what salvation truly means and that it spiritually changes a person. Attending Worship is not the same as having a personal relationship with Jesus. When one comes to Christ, they are changed, and the world will no longer like you because of your faith! Hebrews teaches us that we keep on keeping on…
I. By remembering when we first came to Christ! (Vv.32-34)
“Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.” (Hebrews 10:32-34 NIV)
1. We know that the very early church was persecuted (Acts 6:9, 12), not by the Roman Government, but rather by their fellow Jews. In fact, Jews followed Paul and Barnabas around in order to stir up persecution for them. (Acts 13:50) So, the author of Hebrews tells his audience, “Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering.” It is something American believers have little knowledge of or experience with in our day. Yet, it is something we should understand because it could be something we might experience for ourselves in the very near future. Often, the only thing we can hang onto when faced with suffering, is “those earlier days after [we] received the light.” Evidently, the author knew personal stories of those who had faced persecution. He writes about when they “were publicly exposed to insult and persecution” and where “at other times [they] stood side by side with those who were so treated.” Can you imagine being publicly exposed and ridiculed for your faith in Jesus? Those who have come out of other faith practices, who have been told they will be ostracized and there is no hope left for them if they do come to faith in Christ alone, understand. Notice too that these early believers “sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of [their] property.” How miniscule does the misunderstanding or ignorance, most of us face from family and friends compare to this? However, when we are faced with persecution we, like they did, must understand that we have “better and lasting possessions!” We keep on keeping on by remembering when we first came to Christ!
EXAMPLE: What do you do when faced with persecution? When Lewis went on his first mission trip as an adult to Zambia and Kenya, his team visited people suffering with AIDS; many are rejected by their communities because of the stigma associated with the disease. As Lewis talked with the victims, painful memories came flooding back. Troy Lewis was often ridiculed as a young boy for his lack of coordination and constantly being sick. “I knew that look of just being sick and just wishing that you could be like everybody else … it really kind of explained all those years I asked, ‘Why God?’” he said. “… Out of that pain in my life there — it didn’t compare with the pain these people were going through — but it gave me this heart for these people that were rejected, ostracized and sick.” He remembered what he went through and how God loved him. Hebrews says we should keep on keeping on by remembering when we first came to Christ.
In the church today, we discover that carrying on often means to carry on in causing problems. There are those who practice the hit-and-run membership tactic. They hit the doors of a church for a few years, wear out their welcome, and run onto their next congregational victim. But persistence in the Lord is not just showing up on Sundays causing problems. We keep on keeping on…
II. When we persevere for the Lord! (Vv. 35-39)
“So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For in just a very little while, “He who is coming will come and will not delay. But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.” But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.” (Hebrews 10:35-39 NIV)
1. Immediately the author encourages his listeners by telling them, “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.” He is trying to help them to focus on the future and not the sufferings of the here and now. The same is true for us as well. Our reward is not only in knowing where our future is going to be, heaven, but also in knowing we will be rewarded for our perseverance! Hebrews reminds his listeners, “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.” Jesus related a parable whereby faithful servants who invested what was entrusted to them by their master were told, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:23 NIV) Too often, we throw away our confidence in Jesus when we are faced with small trials or tribulations. God has promised us blessings if we remain faithful. The author here is not talking about the danger of losing our salvation if we do not remain faithful, but rather reminding us of what God has already done for us and we do not have to throw his blessing away! He goes onto warn and remind, “For in just a very little while, ‘He who is coming will come and will not delay. But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.’” Interestingly, the author employed Paul’s, who used Habakkuk’s, description of a person who is justified by faith. (Habakkuk 2:4, Romans 1:17) The idea is that God will not find pleasure or delight in the life of one who “shrinks back.” He leaves his audience with this encouragement, “But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed.” When one truly believes, God is never displeased with us and we can never be destroyed because we are “those who believe and are saved.” We keep on keeping on when we persevere for the Lord!
EXAMPLE: Ten years ago, Nigerian Christians could expect a major attack against them about once a year. Then the attacks began to occur monthly. In the past year, attacks have occurred nearly every other week. Today, simply attending church on Sunday puts a believer at risk, and those who actively tell Muslims about Christ are at greater risk. We live in a church era whereby we give away mission trips as vacation prizes. We promote worship attendance as church membership and claiming ten steps to a better life if you know the secret! Is it any wonder then that few folks understand persecution often follows faith? Jesus related, “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.” (John 15:19-20 NIV) Perhaps this is why many do not understand why our trials in life are there to mature us. James wrote, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4 NIV) Maybe this is why so many lack spiritual maturity? We keep on keeping on when we persevere for the Lord!
We keep on keeping on by remembering when we first came to Christ, and when we persevere for the Lord!
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.
Pastor Lee Hemen has been the outspoken pastor of the same church for 27 years in Vancouver, WA. He writes regularly on spirituality and conservative causes and maintains several web blogs. This article is copyrighted © 2012 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.