Developing A Strategy to Persevere (Hebrews10:26-39)
As Christians living in Britain in the beginnings of the 21st century, we are relatively removed from the original recipients of this letter. We know that the original readers were around probably before the fall of Jerusalem in 70AD. That this group of Hebrew Christians, due to the sufferings and persecution they were enduring, were thinking of abandoning their faith in Jesus as Messiah due to the suffering and persecution they were enduring. Many of our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world do suffer for the sake of Gospel and are systematically persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ.
In 21st century Britain, we don't have those kind of physical sufferings and persecutions because of our faith - yet. But as I read history, and read of the persecution of the Church down through the ages, I can see signs of persecution coming even to us in this country. So, just as the writer speaks to this group of Hebrew Christians, so he speaks to you and I. I, of course, don't know your personal circumstances. I don't know where you are at in your Christian life. You may be persevering joyfully or you maybe struggling with some aspect of life and thinking of giving it all up. You may not even call yourself a Christian, as you are at the stage of investigating what all this Jesus talk is all about.
Wherever you are at, whatever stage you are at, there is something in this passage for you. I know that classically these passages are seen as warnings, but I also see them as active encouragements - in this case, to persevere. Persevere by being obedient. Persevere by remembering who you are and what you have done. Persevere by looking forward to being with Jesus Christ permanently and forever.
Part 1 - Just Stop! - Persevere in obedience (v26-31)
26 Dear friends, if we deliberately continue sinning after we have received knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice that will cover these sins. 27 There is only the terrible expectation of God’s judgment and the raging fire that will consume his enemies. 28 For anyone who refused to obey the law of Moses was put to death without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 Just think how much worse the punishment will be for those who have trampled on the Son of God, and have treated the blood of the covenant, which made us holy, as if it were common and unholy, and have insulted and disdained the Holy Spirit who brings God’s mercy to us. 30 For we know the one who said,
“I will take revenge. I will pay them back.”
He also said,
“The Lord will judge his own people.”
31 It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
Part 2 - Do Remember! - Persevere by remembering (v32-34)
32 Think back on those early days when you first learned about Christ.[j] Remember how you remained faithful even though it meant terrible suffering. 33 Sometimes you were exposed to public ridicule and were beaten, and sometimes you helped others who were suffering the same things. 34 You suffered along with those who were thrown into jail, and when all you owned was taken from you, you accepted it with joy. You knew there were better things waiting for you that will last forever.
Part 3 - Hope Confidently - Persevere for reward (v35-39)
35 So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! 36 Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.
37 “For in just a little while, the Coming One will come and not delay.
38 And my righteous ones will live by faith.
But I will take no pleasure in anyone who turns away.”
39 But we are not like those who turn away from God to their own destruction. We are the faithful ones, whose souls will be saved.
Conclusion - Perseverance of the Christian
You are to keep your eyes focused on Jesus Christ, and be willing to obey God. As a Christian, persevere in your relationship with God. Obey Him and follow Him. Ask questions humbly of Him and expect Him to answer, particularly if you don't understand something. Persevere in your prayers, your relationships with God and with other people. God will persevere with you, turning you gradually into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. God will not abandon you, but you are free to abandon Him. If you did abandon Him, He would still continue to call you back to Himself. Jesus Christ is to cover our entire life, permeating and being involved in every aspect.
By doing so, this is showing an acceptance of Him, and not a rejection of Him. For when we sin and disobey in anyway at all, it is some form of rejection of Jesus as Lord of our life. The more you sin, the less sensitive you become to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. So when you realise you have sinned, be quick to humbly ask for forgiveness. So I challenge you with this: if He who was without sin, became sin, for you, then you are to live a life worthy of Him and your status of freedom from sin in Jesus Christ. One day, Jesus is coming again. He will take your face in his hands and in the words of Revelation 21, will wipe the tears from your eyes, embrace you and you will be with Him forever! That's if you would call yourself a Christian.
But if you would not call yourself a Christian here today, there are all sorts of excuses you can make for not accepting Jesus. I hear them all the time. I just need a little bit more evidence. I just need a little bit more of this or a little bit more of that. An example to disprove these kind of excuses is that of Judas Iscariot. He lived with Jesus Christ, ate with Jesus Christ, travelled with Jesus Christ, yet gave it all up for a short-term gain of money. For him, there was never enough evidence, even though he had all those experiences with the earthly Jesus Christ. There is no other way, no other sacrifice you can make, to ensure that you are will be in the presence of Almighty God - except through Jesus Christ's sacrificial death on the cross. He will continue to call you and urge you to accept Him, until one day it will be too late, and your opportunities will have passed.