No Turning Back

Hebrews 10:32-39

Last week the warning, this week the encouragement – persevere!! You’ve come too far, you can’t turn back now! Besides, think about it – you seriously think you have options? Who besides Christ is going to do for you what God says you need? That’s what I thought, no serious contenders, none – Jesus IS the BEST! When it comes to Saviors, God only deals with the best, not whoever might be in 2nd place.

So Jesus is the only real option, once we trust in him, rest of life is bed of roses. Didn’t anyone tell you that it is thorn bushes that have roses? The committed Christian who lives out his / her beliefs will assuredly experience thorn bushes… and thank God for the roses. What happens when life gets tough? How do you respond? When you end up on receiving end of major hardship / pain / sorrow / loss? And maybe God doesn’t feel so close anymore, and those you associate with challenge your beliefs?

You are tired, hurting, frustrated, discouraged and lonely, can barely see the goal and wonder if it’s worth the effort – now what? Pack it in? Not talking about denying the faith… to start with; that comes later when Jesus doesn’t seem so relevant any more. Remember what v.31 says: “It is a fearful (terrifying) thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

So you really don’t want that either, what is way forward? Remember your beginning, refuse to quit, reach for the promise.

A. remember the beginning v.32-34

go back to time of your conversion, first beginning to walk with God – could hardly get through portion of Scripture w/o something new and exciting

God’s word was fresh, hearing it taught exhilarating, time with God’s people priceless, wanted absolutely everyone you knew to share your joy and excitement

then some harsh realities – initial rose blooms faded, underlying thorns exposed and started to poke

change was hard (32)

sufferings came from both inside and out: changes that needed to take place because of conversion and ones caused by it

serious lifestyle change can cause pretty intense suffering – dealing with physical cravings, striving to satisfy desires in ways pleasing to God

side note: you know someone trying to overcome cravings, desires, addiction, is ok to get help so long as they don’t trade one dependency for another

Christian should remain dependent on God, utilize other helps when needed while still consciously relying on God

conversion requires some relationships to change – might need new employer, different romantic interests, other “playmates”

you were treated badly (33a)

shoe could have been on other foot: wore cross to work, boss said “you’re fired”; neighbors egged your house on Easter, stole baby Jesus from manger scene on front lawn

unjustly accused of wrongdoing or having wrong motives; letter to editor making insinuations; rumors started in community to damage reputation or worse

spin put on your words or actions – hate speech, intolerant, puritanical, homophobe – to name a few

your friends were treated badly (33b)

new friends, ones you like spending time with so much, Christian buddies – yeah, they were being mistreated, maybe more so than you: Christians longer, better known, etc.

giving public testimony of faith in Christ – you or companions objects of ridicule; home Bible study shut down, fined: “zoning”

you took risks (34a)

instead of shutting down enthusiasm, cranked it up – kept hanging out with Christian friends, went above and beyond, too: “you had compassion on those in prison”

knock, knock, hello Mr. Philippian Jailer; I’m here to see Pastor Paul and Pastor Silas; why? we want to sing hymns together, want to praise Jesus for all good things he’s doing; didn’t matter they might lock door on you, too!

you suffered joyfully (34b)

didn’t grudgingly tolerate / endure loss of earthly possessions – confiscated by authorities, plundered by enemies

accepted loss with joy! didn’t matter whether or not could be replaced; more concerned with investing in heaven than more stuff

if losing some stuff freed you up for more effective gospel work, what’s not to like! even more, rejoice over it!

must have really taken Jesus’ words to heart: Matt. 5:11-12“Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.“Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

you kept the faith (34c)

did not allow hardships of Christian life to take away joy, diminish enthusiasm for Christ / his work, shake confidence of heaven

important note: God gives comparison here between earthly and heavenly possessions – does not say earthly possessions are worthless; does say heavenly possessions are better

means should not despise all God gives us in this life; should see there is more to existence than just this life and its stuff

earthly stuff: good but only temporary; should use it as much as possible to invest in heavenly stuff, not “the good life” here

B. refuse to quit v.35

you had excitement, joy, confidence at the beginning, don’t throw it all away now – what do you think has changed, anyway?

God hasn’t gotten old and feeble; his promises haven’t passed their sell-by date; bad economy hasn’t shrunk size of inheritance in heaven

don’t quit the faith

enduring confidence must have right object – God and his promises

faith has many flavors; if Bible is word of God and true, saving faith found in Bible is only kind that delivers on promises

make sure it is the true faith – kind that brings you through stuff

not the kind that brngs you stuff – Osteen / Copeland / Swaggart / Bakker variety – directly opposes mandate: Matt. 6:19-20“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal;“but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.”

also not kind that shields you from stuff: Campus Crusade version – “Principle 1: God loves you and offers a wonderful plan for your life.”

NT repeatedly promises Christian life will be hard, will have tough circumstances to endure, but God will be faithful

we have a God who is big enough, good enough, wise enough to bring us through circumstances so we grow more like Christ and God gets the glory

don’t quit this life

confident living accomplishes things

already too many of the doomsday types – worry more about making it through the day, maybe through this life, no care for next generation

Christian must live differently – use all resources granted by God to achieve what is good and pleasing to him: manage planet wisely, make things that will last and give good service, pass along godly heritage and legacy to next generation and one after that

should not have a “come on, Rapture, get me outta here” attitude… toward anything

is inconsiderate of all those who still need to hear the Gospel – since Church still on earth, still have work to do to reach lost

if God hasn’t given up on the lost, neither should we; to focus on Rapture ticket makes less diligent toward what God intends us to be doing

is really insulting to God… if we see him primarily as our means of escape; Jesus didn’t try to escape hard times, we shouldn’t either

different story if truly desire Jesus to return and make all things right – deal with evil and injustice, roll back Curse, finish making Bride (the Church) ready for Bridegroom (Jesus)

will also mean we recognize our laziness only delays his coming – he won’t come ’til work is done, we need to get busy

C. reach for the promise v.36-39

four encouragements to persevere, to “press toward the goal for the prize”, to reach for the promise

quitters don’t get the prize (36)

true in human endeavor – one who bails out before finish doesn’t participate in victory, prize, blessing

just as true spiritually – must persevere to the end in order to receive promise; no coincidence Jesus ended letter to each of 7 churches: “To him that overcomes….”

don’t forget: endurance, doing the will of God, persevering not something we can achieve on our own; are absolutely dependent on God to supply all our needs and graciously accept our labors

work like it depends 100% on you; pray and trust God like it depends 100% on him; it’s both

God isn’t killing time (37)

God doesn’t treat time like we do, not enslaved to it like we are; seems God marks time more by events than passage of days

the very next event on God’s timeline – Jesus is coming back; he’s not twiddling thumbs, playing games on his smart phone, distracted, holding off just because he can or to make a point

when everything necessary is completed according to his plan, he will return, not a moment before, not a moment late

God is growing your faith (38)

not the easy life that grows faith, is challenges when we have to trust in God; God puts us in those circumstances on purpose

unlike the lost who walk by sight, saved have ability to live dependent on God – trusting in what God has promised

you aren’t one of them (39)

not own genius but God’s choice – you will persevere if a child of God because God will preserve you, bring you safely home

persevering in faith is evidence that God is working – persevering has outward evidence, in part what chapter 11 is all about

Jeremy… hiked Mt. Washington – 14.3 miles, 29,155 steps; one of his friends, “Go for 30k! You’re almost there!” Have come this many steps toward heaven, don’t quit now. Keep reaching toward the promises, trust God, depend on him fully, he will be faithful.

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