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Hebrews 10:26-31: A Fearful Expectation

I started blogging my sermon notes with the new year. We were already in chapter 7 of Hebrews by that time. One of these weeks, I’d like to go back to the previous chapters, and capture my notes here on the early chapters of Hebrews. Truly, chapters 7 – 10 have been theologically rich, connecting the dots between the old covenant and the new. Today, join me by digging into Hebrews 10:26 – 31 … the fourth of five warnings in Hebrews.

I imagine you’ve heard the phrase, “once saved, always saved.” Or possibly you’ve studied a bit of John Calvin, and are familiar with the “perseverance of the saints.” Basically, if one has genuine faith, has experienced salvation, then that one will not lose it. If that one falls away, loses faith, then that faith had never truly taken root.

Here are just a few scriptures that support this theology –

  • Philippians 1:6: being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
  • Ephesians 1:13 – 14: When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession –
  • Romans 8:30: And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
  • Romans 8:38 – 39: For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
  • John 5:24: Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.

So when the author of Hebrews writes warnings, it’s important to establish to whom those warnings are written. The author describes true faith as one whose life bears evidence to holding firm in faith. The fact that a Christian remains true is evidence of the salvation already gained.

But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory. … We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end. 

Hebrews 3:6, 14

We know that our salvation is not dependent on our “holding on.” “Sharing in Christ” is the source of our perseverance. It is Christ – He is the one bringing forth in us both the desire and the effort—to do His will! It is Christ who holds us in his hand, no one will snatch them out of His hand!

With this in mind, let’s look at the three previous warnings in Hebrews –

  • Hebrews 2:1-3: We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For since the message spoken through angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation? 
  • Hebrews 3:12-13: See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.
  • Hebrews 6:4 – 6: It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.

It’s important to note here, that a repentant heart is always welcome. God wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. God is patient with us, not wanting anyone to perish, but instead He wants everyone to come to repentance.

So you might wonder how a person could have been enlightened, to have tasted the goodness of God but not be saved? Jesus speaks to this briefly saying that even some of those who prophesied, drove our demons, and performed miracles do not belong to HIM!

  • Matthew 7:21 – 23: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
  • Matthew 13:24 – 30: Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. “The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”

That brings us to the fourth warning. Note the close-up context of the surrounding chapters. The author of Hebrews has been carefully explaining why Jesus is better, why He is the perfect sacrifice, the great high priest, our temple! So in this fourth warning we realize that the issue is that some people must have wanted to leave Jesus, return to Judaism, which the author has clearly described as an empty shell, a shadow.

If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Hebrews 10:26 – 31

Last week, in this same chapter, the author told us three things we need to do – and here he describes three negative responses to God’s grace.

Three positive responsesThree negative responses
Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart Trample the Son of God underfoot
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we professTreat as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them
Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deedsInsult the Spirit of grace
Hebrews 10

I have a friend who walked away from the faith. I’ve read about others “deconstructing” their faith – some returning, some not. I believe this is the modern day version of Hebrews 10:26 – 31. As Ron and I left the service, we once again affirmed our belief but also determined in our heart to lean hard into God. When the desire to give in to those besetting sins is strong – our first action – seek God with all our hearts. When doubt, fear, troubles assail – our first action – seek God with all our hearts!

There is no angst in knowing God. If you are His, you know it! The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. As His children we know His voice. And we are being transformed – our desires, longings, we want to know HIM!

What a glorious truth that He keeps His own!

If you want to go back through the Hebrews series – here are the links …

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