Monday, October 24, 2016

Don’t Let It Slip Away

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple,

Vibrant faith is precious. Time, troubles, trials, and temptations can act as the devil’s acids to eat away at your faith until the passion of vibrant faith is eroded. Before long, passionate faith can become neglected faith and then ignored faith. One day you notice that your faith has slipped away from you. My writer of Hebrews first gently warned his readers about this problem with these words. (The words about faith slipping away are in bold while the words about avoiding this problem are underlined.)

That is why we ought to pay even closer attention to the voice that has been speaking so that we will never drift away from it. For if the words of instruction and inspiration brought by heaven’s messengers were valid, and if we live in a universe where sin and disobedience receive their just rewards, then how will we escape destruction if we ignore this great salvation.

(Hebrews 2:1-3)

Later, this original warning to “pay even closer attention” was followed by a second warning to “pay close attention”:

Brothers and sisters, pay close attention so you won’t develop an evil and unbelieving heart that causes you to abandon the living God. Encourage each other every day — for as long as we can still say “today” — so none of you let the deceitfulness of sin harden your hearts. For we have become partners with the Anointed One — if we can just hold on to our confidence until the end.

(Hebrews 3:12-14)

This second warning is a little stronger. It describes the process of developing “an evil and unbelieving heart that causes you to abandon the living God”. Notice the progression that can lead to total erosion of faith:

  1. The deceitfulness of sin.
  2. Hardening of the heart.
  3. Developing an evil and unbelieving heart.
  4. Abandoning the living God.

Importantly, in the warnings above, the writer of Hebrews reminds you that there are faith agents that can help neutralize the devil’s efforts to erode your faith. The following faith agents are themes that run through the book of Hebrews:

  1. Pay close attention to your faith, the promises of God, the great sacrifice that I made for you, and the great salvation you have received.
  2. Involve yourself in a family of believers where you can encourage each other daily.
  3. Remember that you are partners with Me in the great work of redemption and the coming glory.
  4. Intentionally hold on to your confidence in Me, in your faith in Me, and in the promises you have in Me. Trust in your victory, confidently assured by My victory over sin, death, and hell.

Verses to Live

In the following verses, the author of Hebrews shares more warnings (again emphasized in bold). These strong and shocking warnings come after the warnings discussed above. They talk about what happens when people are not maturing in their faith and their service and actually reach the point when they “abandon the living God”! As harsh as these warnings are, I want you to notice that in these warnings, the writer emphasizes his confidence that the disciples who hear his message will not come to such a bitter and destructive disaster with their faith.

The author gave the warnings to wake up My disciples from their lethargy and told them things to do (highlighted by underlining) to avoid or come out of their lethargy. He was confident that these warnings would work and that My disciples would respond. I am confident that the warnings will have the same effect on you, dear disciple. I do not want Satan’s acids to eat away the vibrancy of your faith. Instead, I want the warnings to stir your heart and call you to trust fully in the power of the Holy Spirit to rekindle the vibrancy and passion of your faith and your promise of “such a great salvation”!

I have a lot more to say about this [blessing of having Jesus as your great High Priest], but it may be hard for you to follow since you’ve become dull in your understanding. By this time, you ought to be teachers yourselves, yet I feel like you want me to reteach you the most basic things that God wants you to know. It’s almost like you’re a baby again, coddled at your mother’s breast, nursing, not ready for solid food. No one who lives on milk alone can know the ins and outs of what it means to be righteous and pursue justice; that’s because he is only a baby. But solid food is for those who have come of age, for those who have learned through practice to distinguish good from evil.

So let’s push on toward a more perfect understanding and move beyond just the basic teachings of the Anointed One. There’s no reason to rehash the fundamentals: repenting from what you loved in your old dead lives, believing in God as our Creator and Redeemer, teaching about baptism, setting aside those called to service through the ritual laying on of hands, the coming resurrection of those who have died, and God’s final judgment of all people for all time. No, we will move on toward perfection, if God wills it.

It is impossible to restore the changed heart of the one who has fallen from faith — who has already been enlightened, has tasted the gift of new life from God, has shared in the power of the Holy Spirit, and has known the goodness of God’s revelation and the powers of the coming age. If such a person falls away, it’s as though that one were crucifying the Son of God all over again and holding Him up to ridicule. You see, God blesses the ground that drinks of the rain and then produces a bountiful crop for those who cultivate it. But land that produces nothing but thorns and brambles? That land is worthless and in danger of being cursed, burned to the bare earth.

But listen, my friends — we don’t mean to discourage you completely with such talk. We are convinced that you are made for better things, the things of salvation, because God is not unjust or unfair. He won’t overlook the work you have done or the love you have carried to each other in His name while doing His work, as you are still doing. We want you all to continue working until the end so that you’ll realize the certainty that comes with hope and not grow lazy. We want you to walk in the footsteps of the faithful who came before you, from whom you can learn to be steadfast in pursuing the promises of God.

(Hebrews 5:11-14; Hebrews 6:1-12)

Now if we willfully persist in sin after receiving such knowledge of the truth, then there is no sacrifice left for those sins — only the fearful prospect of judgment and a fierce fire that will consume God’s adversaries. Remember that those who depart from the law of Moses are put to death without mercy based on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Just think how much more severe the punishment will be for those who have turned their backs on the Son of God, trampled on the blood of the covenant by which He made them holy, and outraged the Spirit of grace with their contempt. For we know the God Who said, “Vengeance belongs to Me — I will repay,” also said, “The Eternal One will judge His people.” It is truly a frightening thing to be on the wrong side of the living God.

Instead, think back to the days after you were first enlightened and understood Who Jesus was: when you endured all sorts of suffering in the name of the Lord, when people held you up for public scorn and ridicule, or when they abused your partners and companions in the faith. Remember how you had compassion for those in prison and how you cheerfully accepted the seizure of your possessions, knowing that you have a far greater and more enduring possession. Remember this, and do not abandon your confidence, which will lead to rich rewards. Simply endure, for when you have done as God requires of you, you will receive the promise.

(Hebrews 10:26-36)

Response in Prayer

Relight the fire of vibrant faith in my heart, O Father! I want to live a passionate life of service for You. I want to live each day in confident trust in my future with You. Rekindle my passion through Your Holy Spirit as I focus my attention on Jesus. I recognize Jesus as the perfecter of my faith and the One in Whom I place my confidence and hope. I ask this in His name, Jesus the Anointed One, my Savior and Lord. Amen.

‘A Year with Jesus’ is written by Phil Ware.

© 1998-2016, Heartlight, Inc. ‘A Year with Jesus‘ is part of the Heartlight Network.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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