Hebrews 12:3-17

“7It is for discipline that you have to endure.God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?…Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

12Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, 13and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.”

So I’ve been thinking about what it means to be trained by discipline and the statement that “it is for discipline that we have to endure” (v.7). The whole book of Hebrews is about endurance and perseverance, holding fast to our confession that Jesus is Lord. The author is saying we endure so that we can be disciplined. This is proving to be very true in my life. God is calling me to subject myself, to deny myself, to walk through hard things, to face the evil realities of my sin, BUT he is producing in me the peaceful fruit of righteousness that will last until the end. I am getting to share in the holiness of God. My heart is changing. I am hating sin and seeing Jesus as the only object worthy and desired of my affection. This discipline is exposing and strengthening what was once weak “so that what was lame may not be out of joint but rather healed” (v.12). The bones that he has broken are beginning to rejoice. For these things, I am thankful today. God has been really good to me.


Hebrews 10:19-12:2

Everyone needs to listen to this sermon from Apostles Church! Its the second part of JR Vassar’s walk through Hebrews 11 (Part One is great too, by the way) and it has been burning up my cd player these days. I’ve probably listened to it close to 8 times and each time I feel strongly pushed toward Jesus.

The end of Hebrews 10 speaks of the harsh realities of what is to come for those who “shrink back” and do not, by faith, preserve their souls unto Jesus (10:39). God says he literally “takes no pleasure” in these people. As Christians, we are called to analyze our lives! Why? Because we are under the new covenant- we don’t just disregard a law, but when we sin we disregard the living, interceding God whose spirit of grace and sanctifying blood becomes the very thing we are profaning! (10:26-31) The pastor of Hebrews says, we are not these people though! He calls us to look at our fruit and remember our past sufferings that we persevered through…and then he calls us to keep running!

“Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.” (10:35-36)

The pastor says that we endure in faith by practicing the will of God and keeping our eyes on the goal: inheriting the eternal possession.

And then, probably my favorite part of Hebrews thus far, Chapter 11 gives us a list of people who lived with this kind of faith!! They had a firm belief that God’s promises for them would be brought into reality! They were future-oriented people. However, this faith was not just an eager longer, but there is a condition- the condition to faith is that we seek him and seek to align ourselves to his will. Great faith always results in radical obedience.

Abraham, Sarah, Moses, Noah, and the others knew that God had specific things on his heart for them. He had made specific promises and asked them to walk toward him in faith and obedience. God has specific things on his heart for us too. But like the people of old, we just might die and never see those things come into reality.

“And all of these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised since God had promised somethings better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.” (11:39-40)

In my life I have a lot of good, godly desires that I honestly believe God put there. Desires for complete and total healing from things in my past, desires for marriage and children, desires to have reconciliation in all of my relationships, desires to stop struggling with sin…these are good desires! In verse 32-38, the people of old desired to not be sawn in two, barely escaping the mouths of lions, sufferings flogging and imprisonments…but their hope was different from their desires. We are called to expect and ask for great things from God, but at the same time, expect and prepare for painful things in this world. This is why our hope has to be what we are living for.

“Our God is good and he is for us. What we are waiting for makes what what we are going through light and momentary (2 Cor. 4:16-18). What is at the end of the race makes what is in the midst of the race worth it.” -JR Vassar

God asks us to trust him. Maybe he WILL come through is radical provision! He is good and we should expect great things from him working in our lives! Maybe he will heal broken areas of my life NOW. Maybe he will deliver me from the idols I struggle with NOW. But maybe he wont. Maybe I wont get married or be able to have children. Maybe I will always feel hurt by my past. Some, if not all, of the good desires we have as we follow Jesus may not come into reality until we enter into the kingdom…and we are still called to be faithful to him. This is why our HOPE has to be different. Our hope is in the new covenant realities that we will be raised in a resurrection like Jesus and healed and satisfied and freed of idols in his presence. Our hope is Jesus and being betrothed to him and being filled by his glory! Expecting all of this to happen now though, can lead to bitterness. I am coming to believe that sometimes God leaves a thorn in our side to bring us to a place where we rely on God and hope for his eternal promises all the more! And when he does leave that thorn there or leave us unhealed, and when we continue to walk in faith, the power of God will activate unusual provision for perseverance in the suffering.

So, let us consider those who have gone before us who, while they had great faith, suffered and did not receive what he promised until heaven. Their hope was in eternity and they lived lives eagerly throwing off sin. We have a living God and the death of Jesus transferred to us his perfect faith to grab hold of if we want it. Amen!

I plead for myself and for you saints- just want Jesus. Long for Jesus. He really is worthy and the best.

Hebrews 7-10:18!!!

Ok so I’ve been in these four chapters for the past month and I just felt like I was missing the point of what the pastor was writing about. After studying the sacrificial system last summer, I sat at this scripture day after day trying to learn something new. But I think Jesus just wants me to learn that he is the best! He is better than all the things that I seek for my happiness and he is better than my own righteousness. He’s just the best. And I’ve been working through these chapters seeing that he is the end of all things. Nothing but Jesus can bring life and nothing apart from this blood will atone for my sin before God.

Chapter 7 of Hebrews shows how Jesus is the better High Priest than Melchizedek. Even Melchizedek, who was said to be a “king of righteousness and peace; giver of strength and life,” (Hebrews 7:1-3) can not do more than simply correct wrong behavior. Melchizedek dies, Jesus lives forever, effectively praying for me and working for me (Hebrews 7:25). Melchizedek can only offer the law which enslaves, Jesus offers himself which frees the soul (Hebrews 7:18-19).

Chapter 8 shows how Jesus is the better covenant and the better promise (Hebrews 8:6-8). The law was written to show we can’t keep it, but Jesus freely writes the law on our hearts as an impression on us, constantly transforming us (Hebrews 8:10). He allows us to know him simply through his own grace, not through some merit system (Hebrews 8:11). In his new covenant, he is never frustrated with me because of my sin, but merciful and helps me heal and rejoices over me as I change and grow into him. The Law is so enslaving! Jesus brings life!

Chapter 9 shows how Jesus is the new, better way to God! The problem with the tabernacle system was that it focused on the outward man but nothing of the inward nature. In the OT, man would come and confess the outward moral behavior that he failed to keep, but didn’t leave with a changed heart to carry out what was right. The conscience was never eased, and in fact, man would leave feeling more weighty and broken than before (Hebrews 9:9). Jesus is the better temple! He gives us a new heart and a new spirit to carry out good works and he gives us a clean conscience to receive eternal life- all because he appears to God on our behalf (Hebrews 9:13-15).

Hebrews 10 shows that all of this is in chapters 7-9 is true because Jesus was the better and final sacrifice. He does away with the old “bardering-with-God system” and instead puts us into the way he created for us by becoming the last sacrifice to be accepted by God (Hebrews 10:9). God is no longer taking sacrifices! Jesus “sat down…for all time” (Hebrews 10:12). Jesus finished our work of making us right with God! Past, present, future sin: forgiven. Why don’t I understand that? I’m still trying to perform and bring offerings to God to atone for me sin... But Jesus’ perfect blood covers my sin so that I can stand perfect before God (Hebrews 10:14). And until I get this, until I myself “sit down” at the feet of Jesus, I will never understand the fulness of God.

Father, I have nothing to offer you because You are no longer taking sacrifices. You just want me, as I am, holding to my confidence in Jesus. He is my hope. Amen

Hebrews 5:11-6:20

So I’ve been really thankful for this blog. I don’t really think anyone read these post about Hebrews because everyone has their own scripture they are studying and reflecting on, but I feel like for the first time in a long time I’m learning from scripture and not just reading it. I feel like for the first time in a while I am letting the word speak and responding to it in reflection, action, and praise to God. Posting about it allows me to process through everything and holds me accountable to making sense of the scripture. I grew so much in teaching the past year, but now that I’m not in that leadership position where I am leading bible studies or giving campaigners or club talks, I fear those gifts not getting exercised and sharpened. Blogging about what I’m learning in Hebrews has helped me walk through scripture and explain it clearly and with gospel-application, the way I used to do as a leader. Long story short- I don’t care if anyone even reads this, but I have grown so much from it.

I’ve been thinking about three things after meditating on the scripture in Hebrews 5 and 6:

1. Maturity is a steady rhythm of openness and response to God.

In Hebrews 5:11-6:3 the pastor is calling this church to press on to maturity in Christ. They, like me so often, know a lot about God, but don’t do a lot of the word they know. Mature Christians have a longing to know God. Thus, he speaks through his word and we are meant to exhale in trust and repentance. This gives us a growing capacity to discern the word of God and his will for us, and a growing capacity to do it…joyfully (Heb. 5:14). But these Christians, like a lot of Christians today, are standing still in their faith. While they should be so rooted in the Christ, bearing fruit and raising up other believers (Heb. 5:12), instead they are dull and ineffective, not even understanding the basics of faith and repentance, and not pursuing a growing relationship with Jesus. Ray Ortlund Sr. calls these types of Christians “half-hearted Christians”- “they know just enough about God to feel guilty, but not enough to feel happy.” Life is a river and it is naturally moving away from God. So unless we are moving toward him, we will drift away. The author of Hebrews is calling them to keep swimming! toward maturity and an intimate knowing of God! Am I responding to God with a joyful openness to respond to the word and do his will or am I just pressing on to know about God so that I can look well-studied to others?

2. The more enlightenment of Jesus you have and reject the worse off you’ll be.

Hebrews 6:4-8 was really hard to think about. It says.. “4For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. 7 Basically it says the same thing that all of Hebrews has been talking about, but with more severity and reality. Those who were once enlightened- those who heard the gospel and responded or affirmed it, took communion, experienced the holy spirit personally and in community, and sat under the teaching of the Word- and then walk away, will not ever come to saving repentance. Whether they completely renounce Jesus as false, lose trust in God through a crisis or trial in their lives, or just see Christianity as a fad from their youth, the bible says that it is as if these people are siding with the ones who crucified Jesus 2000 years ago. They saw Jesus up close, saw his work and the Holy Spirit moving, and then rejected him, holding him up to shame. 2 Peter 2:20-22 says that it would have been better for them on the day of judgment to have known nothing of the gospel than to have experienced it only to then turn and get tangled once again in the defilement of the world.

My brother Brian- I've always thought this picture was sweet.

This scares me for people like my brother. My brother had an encounter with the holy spirit 2 summers ago. Responded to the gospel, saw his need, read the bible and stood under its teaching, got into a bible study and one-on-one discipleship, but when faced with a life of sin, he chose sin. Now he totally rejects Jesus and his teachings, and sees Christianity as a boring concept. His heart is hardened. I mean, I want to believe that Jesus is powerful enough to even save my brother, but this scripture is so bold, it makes me fear for him the wrath of God and leads my heart to break. Pray for him and my time with him this summer. Jesus speaks the final verdict, just pray that I would be bold and live out a gospel of grace, loving him despite his sin and rebellion.

3. Evidence of God’s work in my life & hope in the finished work of Christ in my place gives me assurance of my salvation.

Jesus is so faithful in my life. There are so many moments where he could have given me over to unfaithfulness and my idols and I would have joyfully gone. My heart is wicked. But my high priest intercedes for me with perfect and powerful prayers that my faith would not falter! Jesus sustains my faith and keeps me, though my heart wanders continuously! Praise be to God! If I persevere in faith with patience, relying on the finished work of Christ (Heb. 6:11-20) and rejoicing in the evidence of God’s work in my life (Hebrews 6:10-11), I can be assured that all of the promises of eternal life are mine! I am a daughter of God! I am thankful for warnings like this passage that prick my heart, wake me up, and remind me of the severity of my choices and sin- being exposed to passages like this is God’s grace in our lives!

Jesus, I feel like you reveal so much through this text, but all I can muster to pray is: thank you for choosing me and showing favor to me and keeping me in your grace. Let me experience rest tonight, wake up seeing your mercies renewed, and live in faith of the gospel that saved and is saving me. Help me to keep running toward you and away from sin. Amen.

Hebrews 4:14-5:10

It took me a long time to start processing this scripture… I think because I view God so often with flippancy, or without reverence. A lot of times I approach God casually. My prayer life lacks. I don’t set apart time in the Word, but fit it in where I see convenient. Even in the midst of a friend speaking truth to me, I am not quick to repent because I do not see the severity or offensiveness of my sin in light of the holiness of God. To be honest the cross doesn’t always blow my mind. On the flip side, there are days when I approach God, or fail to approach him, in fear. I see my sin or I think about the way people view me in my sinful state, and I shutter, unable to come to God or face others due to my shame.

So when I read, Hebrews 4:14-16 I am confronted with my folly and misunderstanding of the Gospel.

14Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

In verse 14 and 16, it says that Jesus has passed through the Heavens and sits on a throne! He is transcendent and completely holy. He is alive now, but also was in existence before anything else was! This should drive out any lack of reverence I have as I approach God. But also, verse 14 says that he is a son and was made like us and suffered like us! Jesus, this transcendent God, also came near, put on flesh, and became an immanent God, acquainted with temptation and ready to provide strength to persevere and forgiveness to those who ask. So How do we root out self-righteousness, pride, apathy, or self-pity? Approach the throne. At the foot of his throne of God we can come in our sin and temptation and find rest, validation, and strength, instead of anxiety, condemnation, or weakness!

The pastor of Hebrews was writing to encourage us to, yet again, persevere toward Jesus! We have the ability to do this because Jesus is our GREAT high priest: he understands our weaknesses (Hebrews 5:2), he made sacrifice for sin (Heb. 5:1-2), he was appointed by God (Heb. 5:4), but he himself was perfect! Jesus was also the forerunner of our faith: completely dependent upon the father through prayer (Heb. 5:7) and being made perfect through suffering (Heb. 5:8)! And THIS is the God that my hope depends on! Not a man like Melchizedek or Abraham, but perfect and “the source of eternal salvation” (Heb. 5:9) And I am called to approach his throne with confidence! Not flippancy or fear, but eager confidence. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it (1 Thes. 5:24).

“Before the throne of God above
I have a strong, a perfect plea:
A great High Priest, whose name is Love,
Who ever lives and pleads for me.

When Satan tempts me to despair,
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look, and see him there
Who made an end of all my sin.

Because a sinless Savior died,
My sinful soul is counted free;
For God, the Just, is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me

Behold him there, the risen Lamb
My perfect, spotless righteousness,
The great unchangeable I am,
The King of glory and of grace!

One in himself, I cannot die
My soul is purchased by his blood
My life is hid with Christ on high,
With Christ, my Savior and my God”

Hebrews 3-4:13

This season has been difficult- I feel like I have been tested and disarmed of any means in which I’ve trusted, and I really am beginning to see that I have no strength but in him. But God has been so faithful, and by his graces have kept me, because to be honest, there have been so many times when I’ve been tempted to stop running and bail out on God. This passage in Hebrews 3 and 4 was such a good warning. Again, the pastor of Hebrews warns in Hebrews 3:6 that “we are his house (his people) IF indeed we HOLD FAST our confidence and our boasting in our hope.” This is another reminder that saving faith is faith that perseveres. We must finish well!

He references the Israelites and their failure to trust God during the 40 years in the wilderness when God said,

“I have pardoned, according to your word. 21But truly, as I live, and as all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD, 22 none of the men who have seen my glory and my signs that I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and yet have put me to the test these ten times and have not obeyed my voice, 23 shall see the land that I swore to give to their fathers. And none of those who despised me shall see it….35 I, the LORD, have spoken. Surely this will I do to all this wicked congregation who are gathered together against me: in this wilderness they shall come to a full end, and there they shall die.” (Numbers 14:20-38)

“Today, if you hear his voice, 8do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,
on the day of testing in the wilderness,
9where your fathers put me to the test
and saw my works for forty years.
10Therefore I was provoked with that generation,and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart;
they have not known my ways.’
11 As I swore in my wrath,
‘They shall not enter my rest.'” (Psalm 95:7-11)

And then warns us, in Hebrews 3:16-19,

“16For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses? 17And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? 18And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? 19So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.”

The pastor is warning us to not follow the pattern of the Israelites! Their exodus from Egypt into the rest of the promised land was a preview of our own exodus from slavery and bondage to sin. Jesus frees us to be sons and daughters of God and the Spirit is walking us through this life into the kingdom. The rest of the promised land was never intended to be ultimate rest. Even the enjoyment of physically taking a Sabbath, or a day off is not what God intended to be final rest. God is bringing us into a future rest in the “world to come” (Heb 2:5) where sin will be destroyed forever and everything will be restored and we will live in the presence of God! This rest is promised for those who put their faith in Jesus and cling to his atoning work on the cross as their right standing before God. And those who persevere in faith, do not only look to the future rest, but hold fast to present rest. As Christians, we can live knowing that we don’t have to work hard to follow a law to be accepted by God- instead, we can go to Jesus and find our identity in Him! He calls us in Matthew 11:28-29 to “put our yoke on him” (the heavy burden of sin and failure to meet the standards of God’s perfect requirements) and to “put his yoke on us” (entrusting our lives to his call and direction and holding fast to his righteousness). We can live in REST knowing that spiritual strivings cease and that God is FOR us (and the Sabbath is a day to remember and meditate on that great truth)!!

But the condition to living in this rest here and in the kingdom, like always, is a faith that continues to cling to Jesus, trust him, and treasure him. Hebrews gives three ways to stay near the rest offered through faith in Jesus:

1. Watch our hearts: 12Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.” We need personal commitment to Jesus in our lives. Is Jesus first? Sin is the fruit of failing to treasure God above anything else.

2. Get in community: 13But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” We need the church and fellowship with other believers to sustain and strengthen our faith and encourage us in the fight against sin.

3. Be immersed in the word: “12For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” The word shows us the greatness and holiness of Jesus and in return we see how we fall short on every level. It exposes our motives and need for a savior.

Jesus I want to live knowing the rest that you offer and I want to know on a deeper level the severity of not staying near it. I know that I was created to live at rest with you, but these days I feel like its so hard to rest- Its hard to not live by performance, its hard to turn from sin, but I am thankful that you want to take my yoke and provide the perseverance to stay near the free grace of the cross. Provide conviction through your word and through community. Give me a heart that does not resist when you make me uncomfortable but rejoices at your goodness and grace toward me to make me more freed from the world! I just want to live and rest in the freedom you intended for your daughter. Help me. Amen.

Hebrews 2:5-18

Today I am thankful as I meditate back on what God has been speaking to me through Hebrews 2:5-18 and JR Vassar’s sermon on it called “Jesus: The Pioneer of Our Salvation.”

This is why I am thankful:

Jesus is the founder of my salvation.

In the beginning, God’s intention for me and the rest of humanity was to have his absolute commendation; for God to approve of us and speak “very good” over us forever. God also intended for us to have dominion and control over the earth, and to rule beside him(Gen. 1:26-31). But instead of commendation, we turned from God and have become enemies; we have fallen from commendation and are now separated from God because of our sin (Gen. 6:5-6). Also, instead of having dominion over the ground, the ground has dominion over us in death (Gen. 3:19). We have failed God’s intention for us.

BUT JESUS, came to fulfill God’s intention for us. The only one commendable took on our sin and became condemned so that we who are condemnable might become his righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21)! He became what He was not (sinful) so that I could become what I was not (truly righteous). But Jesus was not just to be left to be seen in his death and humiliation. Hebrews says that,

“9But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. 10For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. 11For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers.”

Jesus RAISES as king over a world to come (v.5) and calls us brothers and sisters! He does not wish to enter into the glory of the kingdom alone, but brings US to glory and restores us to our intended position as heir and son of God! This becomes our identity if we trust in Jesus, the pioneer and forerunner of this great salvation!

What great truths! Jesus you have brought me from sin and hopelessness, to righteousness and glory! Let this spur me on to holiness and evangelism! I don’t want to trade your glory for envy, sin or lust, and I definitely don’t want to seek glory that comes from man when I see that I have been created for more! And Lord I want to share in your kingdom by bringing people into this great salvation! Who do you want to include in the Kingdom and how can I be used to advance that? You are truly a great God who became like me to empathize with my temptations and strengthen my faith; who turns chaos in my heart and chaos in this world to control and peace. Your blood is the source of my sanctification and my identify as daughter. You are good.

Hebrews 2:1-4

Pay much closer attention.

After studying that encouraging passage in Hebrews 1, I came to a similar call to perseverance in faith in Hebrews 2:1-4, except this time, the pastor uses a warning to motivate the Christians. Again, following along with JR Vassar, I was extremely convicted. Lately I’ve really been feeling the reality that everyday I have the choice to choose sin and give into my idols or persevere unto Jesus, trusting that Jesus and his promises are GREATER than sin and its false guarantees. The pastor of Hebrews lovingly reminded me of the great danger of neglecting Jesus and his Gospel.

Hebrews 2:1-4 says:

1Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. 2For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, 3 how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, 4 while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.

The message that the pastor is warning us to pay more attention to and not neglect is the message of the Gospel. The previous message of the law proved to be reliable because both a refusal to follow it (transgression) or a refusal to pay attention to its calling (disobedience) DOES provide a just penalty- both earthly penalties of disorder and frustration and an eternal penalty of hell. The message of the law DOES lead to salvation, IF anyone could follow it. But we are all diseased with sin and cannot escape continuously falling short; continuously deserving condemnation. JR Vassar said…

“Life is linear. We are moving toward a last day where we will have to give an account to God. And there will be a verdict on our lives from God who made us and have the divine prerogative to evaluate our lives. This verdict will either be a verdict of commendation or condemnation.”

The reason why the pastor urges us to pay more attention to this greater message of the Gospel and not neglect it, is because it leads and ensures sinful people to salvation and God’s commendation- the way the law was never able to do!

“Those who are commended on that great day will not commended because of their purity or performance or morality, but the scriptures teach that we will be commended by our faith. We are declared right before God not on the basis of what we do for God, but on faith in what he did for us through his life, death, and resurrection.” -Vassar

Jesus fulfills and attains the promises of salvation for us! If we put our faith in Christ and believe that he claimed our sin on the cross so that we could claim his righteousness, all of the promises of salvation are ours! This faith is only saving however, if it is a persevering faith that lasts til that last day and is proved to be authentic through action and good works. While listening to the sermon about this passage, Vassar claimed that there are two types of “Christians”:

1.Those who have persevering faith: True believers who respond in faith to greatness and grace of Jesus and then listen to the warnings to stay near to Jesus. They live their lives striving to run to Jesus alone as their salvation and continuously throwing off the false promises of sin.

2. Those who do not have persevering faith: Those who have a casual interest in Jesus, who maybe once showed an outward expression of faith but then later drifted away due the business of life, a painful life event, or just seeing him as irrelevant or silly.

The pastor of Hebrews is saying that Jesus will not be taken lightly. “How will we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?” Christianity and faith in Jesus is all or its nothing and it requires a holistic response to the greatness and grace of Jesus and making him Lord! Vassar says that life is like a fast-moving river and because of our sinful nature, it is flowing away from God. If we are not continuously swimming toward him, we will inevitably drift away. Oh how often to I feel like I’m apathetically standing in the river! Little do I know I am drifting further and further away toward a hardened heart. This is a WAKE UP call! He is warning and reminding us to keep our eyes forward, striving toward Jesus because there is no salvation apart from him.

Questions I’m meditating on: Am I paying attention to what I’ve heard or am I drifting? Do I view the message of the gospel as reliable? Do I see the danger of ignoring it? Do I view the word declared by Jesus as supreme in my life?

Encouragement in the perseverance:

God provides the perseverance he requires. He does not leave us alone to complete our sanctification. Just like God provided the means by which we came to saving faith, he will also provide the means by which we come to completed, lasting faith. Not only does he promise to complete the work he started in us (Phil. 1:6), but he is able to keep us from stumbling in faith (Jude 24-25). In Luke 22:31, Peter failed in obedience and allegiance to Christ, even denying him in a moment of fear. But even though Peter failed, his faith did not. After seeing his sin, he was able to weep, repent, and set his eyes on the cross. How encouraging that when we really and truly encounter Christ, we are kept by God! We will be so changed by the glory and love of Christ that our faith can never be compromised, even in the midst of failure and sin. “Therefore…let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith… Considering him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that we may not grow weary or fainthearted!” (Hebrews 12:2-3)

Hebrews 1

So I’m coming out of a short dry season in the word and I’ve recently been finding a lot of joy in obedience and daily pursuit of the Lord through the book of Hebrews. Praise God for His faithfulness in softening our hearts! I started following along with the JR Vassar sermon series on Hebrews and it has been so good! Since reflecting on what I read helps me process, here is my reflection from Hebrews 1

A Call to Persevere in Faith

So the book is written to encourage Christians to persevere in faith and allegiance to Christ instead of reverting back to Judaism and allegiance to Nero, the Roman emperor at the time.  Nero was persecuting Christians who refused to ascribe to him the greatness they were ascribing to Jesus. The “pastor,” as Vassar call him, is encouraging these Christians by pointing them to the greatness and grace of God.

Firstly, of his greatness, Hebrews 1 says…

Jesus is before all things. V. 2: He created the world!

-Jesus is in the midst of all things. V. 3: He upholds (or carries) everything toward an a glorious end according to his will and wisdom.

-Jesus is at the end/ after all things. V.2: Jesus is the heir of EVERYTHING and one day EVERYTHING will serve his Glory (whether it be glorifying his grace or his justice) and V.4: He has sat down at the right hand of God- a position of privilege and power and King of an eternal Kingdom.

I live hardest and go after most what I ascribe greatness to in my life. But here are a few questions-

1. Do I ascribe greatness to anything or anyone more than I ascribe greatness to Jesus?

2. Do I have a Nero in my life? A voice (thing or person) that orders or has control over the direction of my life? Something other than Jesus, that when it speaks, I respond quickly or out of fear?

IF I see his greatness, then I instantly become aware of my failure to ascribe to him that greatness and I see how I have lived for small and shameful things that make me feel small and shameful – we all carry guilt and shame over our lust, greed, idolatry, selfishness, hate, or bitterness… I give other things or even certain people a place of preeminence in my heart and, out of fear of the loneliness or worthlessness or suffering, I let that thing direct my motives. Even when I enslave myself to performance, the guilt of my sin and guilt is deeper still.

But of his grace…

“He made purification for sin and then sat down…” (V. 3)

Jesus exercises his greatness through weakness- suffering death for me. Jesus doesn’t take his greatness and crush me, but instead he died to purify me before God. I am guilty before God, but Jesus came to bear my guilt, wear my sin and shame and bear its penalty on the cross so I could be free and rid of it. He sat down. Jesus, once for all has dealt with my sin. He doesn’t need to keep making sacrifices for sin and therefore I don’t either. I don’t have to do anything to earn God’s acceptance. Jesus has secured that for all who believe in him. He does not ask me to make up for my sin; he has already dealt with it in full. Through faith in him we can be forgiven, cleansed of all our sin, and shame and guilt. God has spoken (V.1) – my sins can be forgiven in him. That is the voice I want to be listening to! Jesus is the ultimate and last word of God!

Jesus I don’t need more information, I need more enlightenment of who you are! There is no one as Great as you and there is no one who loves me like you do. Jesus bring be into deeper awe of your greatness and intimacy with you in your grace.