Let us Keep on in the Faith!
Hebrews 10:32-39 (Pastor Heo)
32 Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering. 33 Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. 34 You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.
35 So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. 36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 37 For in just a very little while,
“He who is coming will come and will not delay.
38 But my righteous one will live by faith.
And if he shrinks back,
I will not be pleased with him.” 39 But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.
This is the first of a new year, a new decade. But to start something, means something else must end. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new Creation; the old has gone, the new has come.”
v. 32 “Remember…”
If we remember what we should, and forget what we should forget, we will be blessed. We can do that by the power of the Holy Spirit.
“32 Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering. 33 Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. 34 You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.”
Let us remember what we must remember:
- God is our Creator, our Father, our Savior, King, Lord – remember God
- Remember who Jesus is in us, what he has done for us – what kind of people we should be, what mission he’s given us.
Do you have stress, pressure, sometimes? There are many hard words in this passage: hardships, tribulations, insults, persecution. When we face these, we need to remember the word of God. “Blessed are you when people persecute you… because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven.”
Romans 1:17-18 “If we are children of God, you are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ.” (IF) “If indeed you share sufferings in him, we also share glory. But I consider our present sufferings not to be comparable to the glory that will be revealed.”
Christian life is like a marathon. v. 32 “…in a great contest.” (Greek = athleses = athletics in English). We need strong endurance and patience. Sometimes we have suffering, insults, persecution, stress, pressure, because of our mission.
One example: Person A, Person B – they are different in nationality, language, culture. They both want communication, relationship, fellowship. How? One person must learn the other’s language. If A learns B’s, then A becomes low and humble – the student. B is like a teacher, high and strong.
For me, I went to Tanzania as a missionary. We were different in language and culture. I had to learn their language, culture, history. I should not force them to learn mine. So, I began my life there as a baby. Do you remember you first experience with the ABCs? We are like a baby. I must be low, humble, weak, vulnerable. They are my teacher, I’m the student. I must change myself to become like them. BUT, I had a mission – to change them like ME (a Christian). That was my hidden mission.
We know Jesus came into this world to have communication, fellowship, and friendship with man. He did not force man to learn his language and culture (from heaven), but rather, he became lowly, put on man’s clothes, ate man’s food. That’s why Jesus began life as a baby. He became weak, vulnerable, humble. Many times he was insulted, misunderstood, persecuted, and rejected.
“You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property…”
Like this, Jesus became totally naked, experiencing the confiscation of ALL his property. Can you also live this kind of life in this world? Jesus lived the life we should have lived and died the death we should have died.
1 Peter 2:21 “To this you were called because Jesus suffered for you, leaving an example for you, that you should follow in his steps.”
But we have hope because we have better and lasting possessions.
The book of Hebrews: “The book of Better”
Better Hope, Covenant, Promise, Sacrifice, Resurrection, Word, Country, High Priest, Possessions – better = superior in quality and reality.
Because we have BETTER, we are LONG-term investors. As long as we are LONG-term investors, we can give up EVERYTHING in this world, except God’s promise. Even if we lose EVERYTHING by unfair treatment, we have a better hope. So our lives today must reflect the buoyancy of this promise. “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy, but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven where thieves do not break in a steal and moth and rust do not destroy.”
What do we need?
- Confidence (assurance of salvation)
“35 So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. 36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.”
How can we have confidence? Assurance of salvation? This is based solely on what JESUS has done for us – not based on our feelings, nor what we’ve done for him. If you base your assurance of salvation only on your feelings, in the same day, you can say, “I’m sure I’m saved; I’m sure I’m unsaved…”
If you put your assurance of salvation in his word, you can say, “I’m saved!” even when angry, fighting, etc. Our assurance must be based on THIS promise, and on Jesus’ sacrifice once for all. We need fortitude (perseverance).
I’m a pastor, but let me confess, I need to be patient and persevere. Sometimes I’m also impatient, so we need to persevere. Patience is one of the great, unromantic virtues. Patience is not easy in times of trials, hardships, difficulties.
Most people can start well! Happy New Year’s Resolutions! And in the time of great effort, everyone can mount up on wings of eagles, to run and not be weary. But it’s so hard to keep on and keep on and keep on even during suffering.
We must understand that suffering can build our patience and mature Christian character. Also, in times of great stress, we can find help from God’s people we never expected, and we can feel his presence more clearly. This all helps us grow in faith and deepen our relationship with Christ.
Romans 5 “We rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings.”
The Bible SHOUTS! “I CAN rejoice in my suffering!” because suffering produces perseverance, and patience, and maturity, and character, and HOPE – and this hope does not disappoint us.
James, “Consider it PURE joy my brothers, whenever you endure trials of many kinds because the testing of your faith produces perseverance and mature Christian character… and shown to be genuine faith.”
If you have REAL faith, as long as you stay in this world, your faith will be tested, – and through the testing of our faith, we can receive what God has promised.
Why can we persevere to the end? Do you believe Jesus died for YOU? (Not together as a group, but for “me”, individually). Because he died for ME, and will return for us, we can persevere to the end. Perseverance grows out of our real commitment to Christ.
“37 For in just a very little while,
“He who is coming will come and will not delay.”
Do you believe this? Jesus has come, he is coming, he will come. ALL prophecy in the Bible has been fulfilled except just ONE – his return.
Jesus said DIRECTLY (not through the apostle John), “Behold, I am coming soon and my reward is with me.” (last chapter of Revelation) – this is repeated 3 times. “YES! I am coming soon!” (Maranatha – “Come, Lord, come”)
“The peace of God be with God’s people.” – this is the last word of the Bible.
So, if we believe this prophecy, this word of God, how then should we live in this world?
“38 But my righteous one will live by faith. (from Habakkuk 2:4)
And if he shrinks back,
I will not be pleased with him.””
“My righteous one will live by faith…”
- (Hebrews 10:38),
- Romans 1:17,
- Galatians 3:11
This is the same sentence repeated. Interestingly:
- Romans: emphasizes “the righteous”
- Galatians: “will live”
- Hebrews: “by faith” (chp 11 = “The Faith chapter” – coming soon~~)
“But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.”
Our questions: HOW? WHY?
Many Christians often feel worried, fearful, dismayed when we see what is happening around us in this world. It seems to be going well with bad people in this world around us. “He’s not sick…” But sincere Christians are suffering. WHY? WHY ME? Some Christians complain against God, “why me?! There are many bad people around me! I did my best to serve you! I did my best to serve you!”
This is Habakkuk’s question and ours as well.
God says, “Trust me.”
To trust God fully = to trust God in ALL situations even when we don’t understand WHY such things happened. We must understand that God is directing ALL things toward his final purpose.
The meaning of “the righteous will live by faith” – this is my gift for the new year.
“39 But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.”
Practically, to walk by faith = to walk by God’s word and live for Jesus Christ. Remember, the Christian life is a PARADOX. We must lose our lives for Christ in order to save them.
- Conclusion: We need to keep on, and keep on, and keep on – focused on Christ,
- remembering what Jesus HAS done (past), IS DOING (present), WILL DO (future).
This is our Christian life in this world.