Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. (He 3:12-13; NASB)
Chapter 4 begins with the word “therefore,” linking it to chapter 3. Together they present the letter’s second warning. Who is being warned (believers or non-believers) in Hebrews 3:1, 2; 4:2? The warning is against falling short by harboring doubt, which is unbelief. Unbelief leads to a hardening of the heart and ultimately to judgment. What area of God’s word have you doubted lately? Do you doubt God created the heavens and earth? Do you doubt Jesus is the only way to salvation? Do you doubt that salvation comes through faith and faith alone rather than through works? If you have any doubts, approach the Lord the way the man with the ill son did. He said:
“I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mk 9:24; NIV)
For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. (He 4:12-13; NKJV)
Christians should work diligently to be ready to fully possess their inheritance. The way to do that is to use the Word of God to sort out inner most feelings and attitudes, separating those motivated by human desires from those that are God-given. How far have you progressed since you decided to follow Jesus? Do you love to study His Word more, less or the same as last year?
We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! (He 5:11-12; NIV)
“We have much to say about this,” meaning Melchizedek. The author will come back to this topic in chapter 7 but now he pauses to present his third warning (He 5:11-6:20.) Who was being warned (believers or non-believers) in Hebrews 6:4, 5? The writer of Hebrews was concerned that spiritual immaturity and indifference would keep his audience from growing deeper in their understanding of and relationship with God. If you are not moving forward in your faith and your understanding of His Word you are moving backwards. Which direction has your faith been moving lately?
For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (He 12:3; NASB)
Have you lost the joy you once knew? Do you sometimes wonder if salvation is real? Are you discouraged at your progress?
Consider Jesus. Look to the cross and consider the tremendous price He paid for you. Look to heaven and consider that our Savior is sitting at the right hand of God, interceding on your behalf and offering forgiveness for your neglect and failure. Look to the future when the King will be waiting to welcome you and give you your reward.
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. (Jm 1:17; NKJV)
Two Greek words are translated as gift in this verse. The first is dosis which refers to an act of giving. The second is dōrēma which literally means gift. Verse 17 declares that every good act of giving and every perfect gift is from above.
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. (Jm 1:27; ESV)
Outward appearance of godliness is of no consequence. It is one’s service to others and inward condition of the heart that is important – one’s conduct and character. The words of Jesus in Matthew 25:34-46 explain how service to people is equated with service to God. How have you been serving?
Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door. As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. We count those blessed who endured. (Jm 5:7-12; NASB)
We are to approach life with a long-term perspective. We are to be patient and persistent while keeping our eyes on the end of the game when the Lord comes to judge the non-believing world. What has been holding your focus lately?