Monday, February 18, 2013

5 Warnings/Dangers in Hebrews

1. The Danger of Neglecting One's Salvation
Hebrews 2:1-3: "Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away.  For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?"
2.  The Danger of Hardening One's Heart ~ Hebrews 3:7-4:13
Hebrews 3:12, "Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God."
Hebrews 3:18-19, "And to who did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey?  So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief."
3. The Danger of Not Progressing Spiritually ~ Hebrews 5:12-6:12
Hebrews 6:11-12, "And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises."
4. The Danger of Drawing Back ~ Hebrews 10:19ff
Hebrews 10:22-23, "Let  us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.  Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful." 
Hebrews 10:35, "Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward."
Hebrews 10:38-39, ""Now the just shall live by faith; but if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him."  But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul."
5. The Danger of Refusing to Listen to and Obey God ~ Hebrews 12:18-29, 13:22
Hebrews 12:22a,24-25, "22 But you have come to Mount Zion... 24 to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.  25 See that you do not refuse Him who speaks.  For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven."
Hebrews 13:22, "And I appeal to you, brethren, bear with the word of exhortation, for I have written to you in few words."

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Hebrews 11 is the famous hall-of-faith chapter.  What was the motivation for all these people of faith - Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Rahab, Gideon, Samuel, David - to do these hard things?  "A better resurrection," (v. 35), the heavenly reward they knew they were going to receive. 
Hebrews 11:35b, "Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection."
Hebrews 11:39-40, "And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us." 
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Hebrews 12:1-3, "Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Different Angle on Valentine’s Day

1 John 4:7 "Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God, and [because] everyone who loves has born of God and knows God.  8 He who does not love has not come to know God, because God is love.  9 In this way God’s love is made evident in our midst, in that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world in order that we might live through Him.  10 In this is love, not that we have loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as the propitiation [atoning sacrifice] for our sins.  11 Beloved, if [in fact] God loved us like this, [then] we also are obligated to love one another.  12 No one has ever seen God.  [But] if we love one another, God lives in us and His love has accomplished its goal in us.” (author's translation)

“Love is of God,” (4:7).  With these four short words, the apostle John makes a very powerful and quite provocative statement both about love and about God.

For the countless people who are looking for love in all the wrong places (and in all the wrong forms), John says simply that “love is of God.”  He is its Source.

But then, take note that John also informs us that “God is love,” (4:8).  In other words, whatever He is, it is.  However, so that we do not misunderstand, the point is not that love defines God, but that He defines it.  Simply put, knowing God is the way to know [real, lasting] love because He is love.

Next, the apostle indicates that God’s love (the fact that He loves and, especially the way He loves) is both revelatory and redemptive.  God’s love is revelatory in that, when He loves, He does not merely say it, He shows it.  It is a love that He ‘makes evident’ to the objects of His love (4:9; John 3:14 - 17) in and through the cross – the atoning death of His Son.

But, then, take note that the reason for the revelation of God’s love is redemption.  God’s love is redemptive, in that, when He loves He gives so as to address the huge issue of sin in all of our lives (4:10).  But also, when God loves His love is redemptive, in that, in dealing with our sin (and sins), we are changed and our relationship to Him is changed (we come to be His children – ‘born of Him’ – 4:7).  In loving us redemptively, we are no longer [spiritually] dead, but are given [eternal] life through Jesus Christ (4:9; Ephesians 2:1, 4 - 5).  In loving us redemptively, God makes us His beloved children even though we were formerly His enemies (4:7; Romans 5:6 – 11).

So what?  ‘Well, God, I am really glad you are that way . . . All of that is really great . . . Time to move on to the next thing . . . Right?’

Wrong!  If we claim to be God’s children – loved by God – begotten by His love – able to relate to Him because of that love – then, what?  Then, we are obligated (the idea is that of being ‘indebted’) to love not just Him, but every other child of God.  And, in responding to His love for us in this way, we make Him known.  The Unseen One is made visible through us (4:12).  His love accomplishes the goal He had in mind for it from the very beginning (4:12).  Amazing!