The text for this sermon has some of the most difficult to understand verses in the entire bible.Many of my commentaries skip Hebrews 6:4-12; the lectionary skips the entire chapter altogether. Why? Because these verses are hard to understand, and there is a lot of disagreement on them. Last week, the writer of Hebrews told us that it was time to move from milk to meat; it’s time to move from the elementary understandings of our faith and become mature disciples of Jesus Christ. Since saying that, he has wasted no time in moving to the meat of our faith. In fact, he has done so with exceptional quickness.
Understanding these verses means we must be willing to move from a faith that focuses solely on what Christ did for us and incorporate into our thinking what we do to Christ. That’s a hard transition! But, it is a transition we must make if we are going to begin taking our faith, commitment, and calling as Christians seriously.
If you care to, you can read the study materials for this sermon here. There is a ten question quiz on the text on that page or, if you want to skip the reading, you can go straight to the quiz here.
Where are you on the maturity scale? All Christians know that faith and repentance are the building blocks for becoming the people God calls us to be. We know where we stand with God. We know that God loves us, and we know that our salvation is secure. But, where are we in our progression? Yes, Jesus, love me this I know for the bible tells me so.
However, would smile and sing Jesus Loves Me if the lyrics said Jesus loves the homeless? Would we sing Jesus Loves Me if the lyrics said Jesus loves the gay person? What if the verse was Jesus loves the drug addict or the prostitute? What if it was Jesus loves the person who votes differently from me?
Growing in our faith means we set our self-absorption aside. Becoming disciples requires us to understand it’s not all about “me.”
The writer of Hebrews would argue with Franklin D. Roosevelt declaration that the only thing to fear is fear itself. The main point of our text this week is we must fear faithlessness to God. The Israelites did not trust God’s protection and refused to enter the land God prepared for them. Their lack of trust, their lack of faithfulness, led to God refusing to let them enter.
Some Jewish believers had doubts about whether the life God promised in Christ was available to them. They thought they had been born too late to enter into God’s rest, forgetting that each day of creation had a specific beginning and a specific ending except the seventh day! God’s rest remains open and available (as He told David in Psalm 95) today.
Are you faithful to God? If so, you can rest in the knowledge that you will enter into God’s rest. If you are not, it is not too late. Choose faithfulness to God today.
Are you looking at God through something other than God? The Israelites had a hard time keeping their focus on God because they were looking through Moses. Because they didn’t focus on God, they spent 40 years wandering in the wilderness and only their children and descendants were allowed to go into the promised land.
Hebrews 3:1 states, “fix your thoughts on Jesus.” The word translated as “fix” means much more than just “looking” at Jesus. How many times in a day do we look at a thing and not actually see it? This word means to perceive, to note. Instead of just looking at a thing, it means to put your whole mind toward it, to try to understand it. It is the same word that Jesus uses in Luke 12:24. He wanted us to understand the lesson we can learn from the ravens. We, as believers, have an invitation from God to God. We cannot afford to just glance at the invitation; we must put our whole mind toward it.
What would you do if, because you are a Christian, you got a letter that said, “We know where you are, and we know what you’re doing.” Christians in Afghanistan received a letter like that this week. The Taliban is also going house to house looking for those that they consider enemies. This includes members of the Afghan military, American allies, and, yes, Christians.
You may be wondering how the Taliban knows who professes Christ as Savior. Afghan citizens have a national ID card. These cards often show religious affiliation. Two years ago, members of the Christian church changed their affiliation, so the government had that information, and, now, so does the Taliban.
Christians in Afghanistan are being hunted and killed because of their faith. Even facing torture and beheading, they aren’t turning their backs on Jesus. They remain true to their faith.
In a discussion this week, the general consensus was that we don’t know what we would do if we were faced with the same situation. We can hope that we would profess Christ, but we don’t really know. The more I thought about that consensus, the more I decided that it was wrong.
If we don’t know what we would do, then there is a pretty good chance that we have drifted as warned about in today’s text. If we – personally and collectively – aren’t living, breathing, sharing, and guarding the message of Jesus Christ, we are drifting away from it.
If we are not living the message of Jesus Christ, we will not die for it.