Hebrews 10:19-39 • May 17, 2023 • w1402
Pastor John Miller continues our survey through the book of Hebrews with a message titled “Don’t Go Back” through Hebrews 10:19-39.
10:19 Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and having a High Priest over the house of God, 22 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. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. 26 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has rejected Moses' law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know Him who said, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord. And again, "The Lord will judge His people." 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. 32 But recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings: 33 partly while you were made a spectacle both by reproaches and tribulations, and partly while you became companions of those who were so treated; 34 for you had compassion on me in my chains, and joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods, knowing that you have a better and an enduring possession for yourselves in heaven. 35 Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: 37 "For yet a little while, And He who is coming will come and will not tarry. 38 Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him." 39 But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.
I’m not really titling my Wednesday night messages, but I did title tonight’s. The title is “Don’t Go Back.” I’m going to cover a lot of subjects, but the overarching theme is don’t go back, go forward—don’t go back to the old, follow in the new covenant. As I said, we begin the new section of the book of Hebrews with Hebrews 10:18, we came to the doctrinal section of the book, that’s why it starts with, “Having therefore,” verse 19, because all that we have in Christ, all that we’ve learned of Christ, is now to be put into practice in our lives.
I want to share a principle before I get into the text, something that is clearly in Scripture, that is, doctrine always comes before duty. Principles always come before practice. We don’t know for sure whether Paul wrote the book of Hebrews, there’s a slight indication tonight that he was the author, he talked about his bonds. If I were to guess, and people ask me, my guess is that Paul the Apostle wrote the book of Hebrews. We know that it was given by inspiration of God, so the Holy Spirit is the real author of the book of Hebrews. In Pauline epistles, Paul’s doctrinal epistles, he always starts with doctrine and then goes to the duty. He always starts with the principles and then the practice.
A lot of preaching today goes straight to the practice, straight to the principles, and they don’t like to do the doctrine. But you can’t live what you don’t know; you can’t be what you don’t know you are. It’s a logical, theological, sequential order—doctrine comes first, then duty. It’s very, very clear in the Pauline epistles, and it should be in our lives. This is one of the reasons why I’ve taken this series on Sunday morning and gone through these “Great Doctrines Of The Bible,” which I feel is so limited. I am not covering them all; I’m not covering them extensively. This Sunday we’re going to be looking at “The Doctrine Of The Church;” the following week we’ll be looking at “The Doctrine Of Last Things,” or end times and how prophecy is going to unfold, but we first go through doctrine and then we have the duty.
We outline this tonight in three sections. The first is in Hebrews 10:19-25, we have exhortations. What we’re going to have is a section first, exhortations, then a warning, and then we’re exhorted to evaluations. I’ll outline it for you. If you’re taking notes, verses 19-25 is an exhortation. At the end of the doctrine he’s exhorting them, which the idea is to encourage or to challenge them. Follow with me beginning at verse 19. It says, “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus. 20 By a new and living way, which hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; 21 And having an high priest over the house of God;”—here’s the beginning of the application—“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. 23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) 24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”
In verses 19-21 of this section, he gives us the basis for his exhortation. There’s a foundational basis for his exhortation. Really, verses 19-21 transitions between the doctrinal section to the exhortation, beginning in verse 22. But the basis of the exhortation, notice, “Having therefore,” takes us back all through the book of Hebrews up to this point because Jesus is better than angels, He’s better than Moses, because He’s better than Aaron because He has a better priesthood, a better covenant, a better sanctuary, better blood. All of the “better, better, better” in Christ, he says, “Having therefore, brethren.” The “better” that we have in Christ is writing to Jews who were Christians, and we’re going to see it real clearly tonight, who are getting discouraged and beginning to turn back to Judaism. They were discouraged because of persecution and opposition. They were being tried and tested, so they were beginning to get fainthearted and discouraged and started to go back to the old covenant, to the law, to Judaism. He’s going to exhort them tonight to go on, to move ahead, and not go back, “Having therefore,” and he’s actually telling us what we all have as believers. Actually, that phrase, “Having therefore,” means we have confidence or continuous possessions—we have them continually, ongoingly.
Then, notice, “…brethren,” in verse 19, at the beginning of the verse. There’s a couple of other points in places that I’ll point out. I believe that he’s writing to believers. He’s not writing to false Christians. He’s not writing to professing Christians. He’s writing to “brethren,” which by the way is the generic term for brothers and sisters (so, gals, don’t feel yourself excluded there, there’s “sistren” as well). He’s talking about the household of God.
He says that we have two things, and if you’re taking notes, we first have boldness and secondly we have Christ as our Priest. Notice the phrase, “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh.” The first thing he wants to remind them that they have is, “…boldness to enter into the holiest,”—the very presence of God. He uses the picture or the image of the old covenant where the priest would go into the holiest place; but now we can go right into the very presence of God who is in heaven, and Christ is our intercessor, our Priest, for us.
The word “boldness” actually means boldness of speech, or the word “confidence” would be a great translation, confidence of speech. Simply stated, what it means is now in Christ, in the new covenant, guess what we can do? We can actually go right into the very presence of God any day, anytime, any moment we want, and with bold confidence we can share our hearts, we can talk to God, we can pour out our complaint before Him, and we can have fellowship with Him. This is something that the Jew did not have under the old covenant. He couldn’t even get close to the holy of holies, and only the high priest could go in once a year, not without first sacrifice for himself and then for the people, and they would have to stay outside and actually hope that the priest wasn’t struck dead in the holy place and drag him out. They would actually have intercession through that priest, but they didn’t have access to God.
You know, there’s a lot of people I don’t have access to, you don’t have access to; but you, as a believer, the humblest believer, have access to the Great God of all the universe. Anytime, day or night, you can come with plainness of speech, openness of speech, or boldness, confidence. Don’t misinterpret this and think that it’s cockiness or haughtiness or that you can order or boss God around. There’s a lot of so-called preachers on the tv that think that they can tell God what to do, that they can order God around. But this is coming with humility realizing God is in heaven, we’re on earth, and that were it not for the merits of Christ, the intercession of Christ, and the grace of God, we couldn’t come before Him. Unlike unto the old covenant, there’s a contrast there, we can come anytime with confidence and plainness of speech and boldness.
This is just kind of generating excitement for them, and it should for us as well. Every Christian has the same access to God. Every one of you can be heard by God equally as anyone else. God is not going to hear anyone more before you, for all as believers, brothers and sisters, have confidence of speech, or boldness of speech, and enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus Christ. Know that humbly we come based on the finished work of the cross, the blood of Jesus Christ. These are blessings we all have.
In verse 20, he describes them. He calls it, “…a new and living way.” That phrase “a new” means newly sacrificed, a fresh sacrifice. It’s not like the old blood of bulls and goats, but it’s newly sacrificed, living, which speaks of His resurrection. In a sense, the new sacrifice is His death on the cross, the “living way,” which is actually His resurrection, ascension, exaltation, and intercession for us in heaven. “…which he hath consecrated for us,” verse 20, and then uses a picture of speech here, “through the veil, that is to say, his flesh.”
The “veil” there is a reference to the veil or the curtain that separated the holy place from the holy of holies. Remember the tabernacle had two compartments. It had the outer compartment known as the holy place where there was the candelabra, the showbread, the censer, and the high priest would come before the veil. Only once a year on the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, the priest would pull aside the veil and go into the holy place. When Jesus died on the cross and cried, “It is finished,” and gave up the ghost, the Bible says the veil of the temple was torn. That thing was six inches thick! It was 60 feet wide, and actually about 6-7 feet high. It was this great big massive curtain, and at the time Christ died, the curtain was actually hanging in the temple that Herod built, refurbishing Solomon’s temple. The temple veil was ripped from top to bottom and signified that the way to God’s presence, the way into the holiest of all, was now made available to us.
The writer of Hebrews likens “his flesh,” which speaks of His physical body, His incarnation, that it was torn and we have access, as verse 21 says, “…an high priest over the house of God.” Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the,”—what?—“way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me,” so the veil was ripped and is symbolic that the way to God had now been made available. It was also symbolic of His flesh of His body ripped on the cross, so He has become, “…an high priest over the house of God,” or household of God, which is the church. The twofold basis is that we have boldness or plainness of speech, we have Christ whose flesh was torn, and we have access to the very presence of God. In John 1:14, it says, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us,” so His flesh, or His body, was torn so we can have access to God.
Here’s the description now, verses 22-25. Verses 19-21 is the basis, boldness of Christ’s priesthood; verses 22-25 we have their description, and there’s three exhortations that we are all familiar with. They are actually imperatives or commands. They’re not suggestions, they are commands. “Let us draw near,” is the first, verse 22; “Let us hold fast,” is the second, verse 23; and the third one is in verse 24, “And let us consider one another.” There are three exhortations. This is the book of Hebrews put into shoe leather: Let us draw near, let us hold fast, and let us consider—three commands.
J. Vernon McGee, bless his heart, what a great man of God, used to say at this point, “You’ve heard of the meat of the Word, this is the “lettuce” of the Word. (It’s supposed to be a joke) “Let us (lettuce) draw near.” I can’t believe you guys didn’t get that. You say, “Well, Pastor John, if you’d learn how to tell a joke, we would get it,” right? This is the “lettuce” of the Word. In reality, Dr. McGee, it is actually the “meat” of the Word.
Let’s look at each one individually. “Let us draw near.” He just said that we have boldness of speech, verse 19, “Having therefore.” The “having,” verse 19, is tied into the “having” at verse 21 and “Let us,” verse 22, “Let us draw near.” This is in the present tense. Let us continually, ongoingly, habitually, draw near to God. We do it in four ways. First of all, “…with a true heart,”—that means we do it in humility and in sincerity with a heart that’s right with God—“…in full assurance of faith,”—we know that God will hear and accept us based on the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross—“having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience,”—and our conscience has been cleansed by being born again and forgiven of our sins. What a marvelous truth that is!
Fourthly, verse 22, “…and our bodies washed with pure water.” It’s kind of a contrast from the priests who go through all the washings and the bathings. We’ve been washed by the water of the Word; we’ve been washed in regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit. All of this is describing what Christ has done for us. We have a sincere heart, we come with, “…full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.” Titus 3:5, “…by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost,” it’s describing the rebirth of the believer, so we ought to draw near. Again, we should be, as Christians, constantly turning to the Lord in prayer, talking to Him throughout the day, drawing near to Him every moment of the day.
The second command, verse 23, “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith,”—which most Greek scholars all agree that the “faith” there is a reference to hope—“without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)”—so we’re drawing near in prayer and we’re holding fast our hope without wavering. That word “wavering” means no leaning. It has the idea of leaning backwards. We’re not leaning back, we’re not going back, but we’re holding fast. We’re not trying to hold onto our salvation. I’ll just tell you right now before I get through the rest of this study, I don’t believe that he’s telling or warning these Christians that they can lose their salvation. He’s warning them that they can come under the chastening and the judgment of the Lord, but it doesn’t say that you’re going to lose your salvation.
He’s warning them that they can lose the abundant life, the joy-filled life, the blessed life, the access to God, the blessings of God, the joy of being a maturing, growing Christian. You know, if you’re a growing, maturing, Christian, if you’re drawing, “…near with a true heart,” and you’re leaning into Christ, seeking Christ, and holding onto that hope, there’s blessings and benefits that come into your life, blessings and benefits that come into your marriage, blessings and benefits that come into your relationships. It’s not just pie in the sky in the sweet bye and bye. There are—right now, right here—blessings and benefits of really being a child of God and walking with the Lord and drawing near, verse 22, and holding fast your profession of faith which you have, of course, it’s in Christ who is the object of our faith. Don’t lean back, lean forward.
At the end of verse 23, “(for he is faithful that promised.)” He tells us to hold on, and here’s the reason why, “…for he is,”—what?—“faithful.” I love the teaching in the Bible of the faithfulness of God. I love it when we sing about the faithfulness of God, when we meditate on the faithfulness of God. We’re holding Him, but in reality—guess what?—He’s holding us. Amen? So, there’s no boasting about our spirituality. I’m being kept by the grace of God, I’m being held by the hand of God. The moment you think that it’s all up to me and that I’ve gotta hold onto God, we’re in big trouble. When I realize He’s faithful, that He has begun a good work in me, He will complete it until the day of Christ, and that’s not just me holding Him, but He’s holding me.
One of the things that thrills my heart, it did as a dad when my kids were very young, was when they held my hand. I loved to feel their hand in mine. Whenever you crossed a busy street, you always made sure that you were holding them, not them holding you, right?, because they could let go and run across and be in danger. Today, I love the fact when my little grandchildren will take ahold of my hand, put their little hand in mine, and hold onto my hand. It’s just such a blessing. I think that God has the same delight—when we reach out to Him, He takes hold of us and He’s carrying us. You might be going through a trial or a difficulty like the Hebrew Christians we’re reading about tonight and maybe getting discouraged and wanting to look back or wanting to go back or wanting to throw in the towel or not pray anymore or seek the Lord anymore, don’t. Press on. Press forward, and know that, “…he is faithful that promised.” Whatever God promises, He will keep.
The third command (and we’ll move a little faster through the rest of this chapter), “Let us consider one another.” “Let us draw near,” “Let us hold fast,” and “Let us consider.” That word “consider” means a serious, thoughtful concern. We should be thinking of others in the church in the body of Christ. This is so important. He talks about our relationship to Christ—He’s holding us as we hold onto Him. But we also have a relationship with one another. We need to be a part of a church which we get connected with other believers, and we think about them, we pray for them, we serve them, and we seek to encourage them. Notice what it says in verse 24, “And let us consider,”—and, as I said, it means that we think down hard, habitually, concerning ourself with one another. This is one of the many great “one anothers” in the Bible. The Bible says, “Love one another,” “Forgive one another,” “Bear one another’s burdens,” “Pray for one another.” All of the “one anothers” have to take place in the community of believers.
Notice what he goes on to say. What are we to consider to do? “…to provoke,”—them, which means to incite or encourage them—“unto love and to good works.” Sometimes we just provoke them. We don’t encourage them to two things, “..love and to good works.” What he says in verse 25, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is,”—evidently, some of them were not going to church—“but exhorting one another,”—again, as we consider one another, we exhort one another—“and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” Verse 24, “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works,” is an imperative. It is a command. He tells them, “You need two things to provoke one another. You need associations and exhortations.” You need to be with one another to exhort one another, and you need to encourage and exhort one another when you’re together.
When the government, so-called, shut down the church during the Covid epidemic, I’ve always felt, and I still feel (and my conviction’s deeper than it ever was before) that shutting down the church and not gathering together as believers was a violation of this verse. This is an actual imperative. It’s a command. I found it interesting, as I researched the verse a little bit more this morning, “…as the manner of some is,” some of them were not going to Christian fellowship anymore. Do you know why? Because they were in danger and they were being persecuted and they were worried about their health being attacked, being robbed, being persecuted, being ostracized, so they didn’t go to church. There are many people who have not come back to church since the Covid lockdowns. There are many people who still have not given themselves to the fellowship of the saints. Now, the reason this is kind of stirring my heart a little bit is because I’m already starting to study for Sunday morning about the church and the importance of the church.
You can be a Christian and not go to church, but you can’t be a good one, you can’t be a growing one, and you can’t be a healthy one. If you’re not going to church because you’re afraid or you’ve just gotten out of the habit or it’s easier to stay home and watch online, you’re violating this command, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” We need to exhort each other and we need to assemble, verse 25, associate with one another. There is no substitute for Christian fellowship, and the church is a divine institution. Not just universal church, but God has ordained local churches, individual fellowships with pastoral leadership, and elders and deacons, and the ministry of the church with Communion to be served, baptisms to take place, evangelism, teaching of the Word, and mutual works of missions and outreach and service. It’s so very important.
In light of this passage, he’s saying to these discouraged, disheartened, fearful, timid Hebrew believers, “Don’t be afraid. Don’t forsake the assembling of yourselves together. Some are doing that, and it’s detrimental to them and to the church.” I believe the church suffers today because we don’t have a biblical view of the church. We have a low view of God, a low view of Scripture, and a low view of the church—kind of, take it or leave it—because in our culture today we’re very individualistic so we don’t have a commitment to the fellowship of the body of believers, and it’s so very important. Find a church that you can be a part of, that you can pray, support, and be serving with, and get connected. Don’t forsake, “…the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”
That “day approaching” is most likely—and I can’t be dogmatic, I’m not sure—a reference to the coming of Christ. Some feel that it could be the destruction of the temple and Judaism in 70 A.D. because the war had probably already broken out between Rome and Israel, and it could be the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem; but, most likely, I would interpret that as the coming of the Lord, “…as ye see the day approaching,” all the more we should be drawing near, holding fast, and considering one another, “…unto love and to good works,” encouraging one another.
Now, verses 26-31, is the fourth warning. We won’t tarry on it, but these verses are the fourth warning. Let’s read it. He says, “For if we sin wilfully,”—or deliberately, he’s going to warn those that would try to go back. Notice in verse 26 he’s given us the reason and then says, “if we,” the author is including himself, he’s writing to the brethren, talking to believers, “For if we sin wilfully,”—it means we sin deliberately, intentionally—“after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins.” That means, if you go back to Judaism, there’s no sacrifice for your sins, especially for intentional, habitual, purposeful sins. “But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. 28 He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: 29 Of how much sorer punishment,”—and this is a long question, he’s going to ask a rhetorical question—“suppose ye, shall he,”—he’s singling out an individual believer that would go back—“be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing,”—a common thing—“and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?”
He’s basically saying, “Do you think that under the Mosaic law if someone willfully, intentionally sinned, and they were judged and they didn’t get away with it, do you think you can willfully, deliberately, under the new covenant turn away from Christ and you’re not going to be chastened or judged by the Lord?” Again, some conclude from this passage that these people are going to be judged and put in hell, but that’s not said in the text. It’s not even applied in the text, and the Bible is clear that you can fall away from Christ as a believer, and you can be in danger being chastened by the Lord for your disobedience. I believe that this is the chastening of the Lord, and it’s for the disobedience, to bring them back so that in the end their souls would be saved even though their bodies might be destroyed.
Basically, he’s just arguing that in the old covenant, verse 28, those, “…that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: 29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under,”—these three things—“trodden under foot the Son of God,”—which means that you have disregarded the death of Jesus Christ—“and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified,”—so they were saved, they were sanctified—“an unholy thing,”—or common thing—“and hath done despite,”—or grieved—“unto the Spirit of grace?” The Bible says, “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” So, you can grieve the Spirit of God, but the Bible doesn’t indicate that you can grieve Him away. It’s so important to note that.
Notice, verses 30-31, the source of the judgment. We have the nature of the judgment, God’s chastening, and now we have the source of the judgment, “For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord.” That’s a quote from Deuteronomy 32:35, and then another quote from Psalm 135:14. It says, “And again, The Lord shall judge his people.” Notice whose people they are, “his people.” These are people who are sanctified. They disregard the death of Christ. They count it as nothing. They don’t think it’s any big deal, it’s just common. They go back to the old covenant. There’s no sacrifice there. They’re disobedient. The challenge is that they will be chastened by the Lord. The Bible is clear that God does chasten those whom He loves, but vengeance will come from the Lord, it belongs to the Lord.
It’s interesting. Under the old covenant, the law of God was used as their civil law, and if someone broke the law and disobeyed, then the religious human leaders would actually execute vengeance on those who broke the law. But under the new covenant, God says, “No, no, no. ‘Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.’” How important that is. It’s so important.
Notice in verses 30-31 he says, “…Vengeance belongeth unto me,” but in verse 31, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” In Philippians 2:12, Paul says that we should, “…work out,”—what?—“your own salvation,”—how?—“with fear and trembling.” That’s what they weren’t doing. They weren’t working out their salvation. They weren’t holding fast. They weren’t persevering. They were going back, and so they would be chastened of the Lord.
Remember Acts 5 when Ananias and Sapphira feigned as though they were giving all their land, and they weren’t giving it all? What did God do? He struck them dead. I don’t want to spend all night on Ananias and Sapphira, but it’s possible that they were taken to heaven after they died. There’s no reason why they couldn’t have gone to heaven, but they were stuck dead in the church for their hypocrisy. Aren’t you glad that God doesn’t deal with us like that today? No one would make it through a church service. We’d be singing, “Take my silver and my gold, not a mite will I withhold.” FWOOOT! Dead. The ushers carry you out. “I surrender all. I surrender all. All to Thee, My blessed Savior, I surrender all.” BOOOM! Slain in the Spirit. They didn’t get up, and the Bible says, “And great fear came upon all the church,”—you betcha it did! Great fear came upon all the church! Can you imagine that? They said, “I ain’t going to that church! People are dying over there. They’re dragging them out during the song service.” This is a warning passage, verses 26-31, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” You don’t want to be chastened by the Lord. If the Lord is trying to get your attention, listen up.
In closing, I know we have a lot ahead of us, but I’m not going to tarry on it. I’m going to move even a little faster. Verses 32-39 is a call for evaluation. First, we had the exhortation and the warning, now he’s calling them to evaluate their past victories—remember their conversion, their courage, their compassion, their conviction. Then he says, “Remember the future.” What you should do is go forth with confidence, patience, faith, and perseverance. I’ll break it down for you as we go.
Verse 32, “But call to remembrance,”—verses 32-34 is remember or evaluate their past victories—“the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions; 33 Partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used.” That’s a description (I’m going to come back to that) of what they were going through as believers now. Remember I said that they were being persecuted and getting discouraged and wanting to go back to Judaism? Here’s the description. Because they had left Judaism and were following Christ, they were being persecuted. Verse 34, “For ye had compassion of me in my bonds,”—which some believe, I think, that’s why Paul possibly wrote the book—“and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance.”
Let me point out the four things that they had in their past that they needed to evaluate and remember. They first had their conversion, verse 32. He says, “But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated,”—that’s a description of they were born again, so remember your conversion. It’s helpful for us to remember when God saved us by His grace. Remember when you were first born again, remember your first love. Secondly, their courage, he says, “…ye endured a great fight of afflictions.” That word “fight” is our English word athlete. It comes from the word agonizo, so they agonized. They were athletes. They were being persecuted. They were afflicted. “…ye were made a gazingstock,”—which means that they mocked them and looked at them as fools—“both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used.” They had courage, they identified with suffering believers. They gladly allowed themselves to accept persecution.
Any time you’re following Christ, you can expect Satan will attack and persecute. Jesus said in John 16:33, “In the world ye shall have tribulation.” I’ve never seen that in a promise box. I’ve never seen that on a Christian t-shirt. “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have,”—what?—“overcome the world.” They also had compassion. They had conversion, they had courage, they faced trials and tribulations and opposition. They had compassion, verse 34, “For ye had compassion of me in my bonds,”—some Greek scholars say that this could be a reference to their own bonds or imprisonment—“and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods,”—they stole their property—“…spoiling of your goods,” and the reason that they could do that is because they had conviction. “…knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance.” I love that.
They were actually going into the homes of these Jewish Christians and taking their property. Do you know this happens today to Christians in some places of the world? Instead of freaking out, they were joyful, so this was supernatural. He’s reminding them of what they had in their walk with the Lord in the past so that they would be encouraged to go and persevere into the future. “Remember when you first got saved? Remember when you were being persecuted for your faith? Remember when they took your goods and robbed your house and polluted your home and you were joyful because you have a home in heaven waiting for you?” They were looking for that which is eternal. That’s a perspective, by the way, that we should all have as believers. Jesus said in Matthew 6, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures,”—where?—“in heaven.” So, they steal from your house? You have treasures in heaven.
Notice, in closing, verses 35-39, their future needs. This is what they needed. They needed four things: confidence, patience, faith, and perseverance. “Cast not away therefore your confidence,”—don’t throw your confidence in Christ away—“which hath great recompense of reward.” This is the point I made earlier—don’t throw away your confidence in Christ because it has blessed benefits, even now in this life. He says, “For ye have need of patience.” In verse 35, they needed to be confident in the Lord that they would receive rewards. Verse 36, they needed to be patient, which is steadfast endurance, “…that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.” That’s the blessed life now and the life which is the future in heaven.
Verse 37, “For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry,” waiting for the Lord to return. Verse 38, “Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.” They have to have confidence, they need patience, and they need faith. This “faith” introduced in verse 38 is what will be picked up in Hebrews 11 when we talk about men and women of faith who experienced the promises and blessings of God and walked in victory. “…the just shall live by faith,” that is a quote from the book of Habakkuk 2:3. Notice its three parts: “…the just shall live by faith.” That verse is quoted three times in the New Testament. It’s interesting. It’s quoted in Romans, which goes with, “…the just,” quoted in Galatians, which goes with, “…shall live,” and now it’s quoted in Hebrews, “…by faith.” “…the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.” They need faith, and we need faith.
Verse 39, “But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.” Verse 39 is an affirmation of the confidence the writer has in his listeners that they’re not going to go back, they’re not going to be judged and chastened by the Lord, but that they will go forward and experience all the blessings of the saving of their soul. True Christians, “…are not of them who draw back unto perdition,”—this is would be ultimate judgment—“but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.” They’re not living with perseverance in order to save their souls, they’re persevering and continuing because they are saved and Christ is faithful and He’s holding onto them.
Hebrews 11 is the next chapter which introduces what it means to live with confidence, patience, faith, and perseverance—those qualities. Which is what we need as believers. If you’re discouraged tonight, don’t go back. Be confident, be patient, have faith and persevere. Amen?
Pastor John Miller continues our survey through the book of Hebrews with a message titled “Don’t Go Back” through Hebrews 10:19-39.