Wednesday, August 25 2021
Contributor: Okwdili Prince-Isaac
INTRODUCTION: At the close of the foregoing chapter the apostle recommended grace of faith and a life of faith as the best preservative against apostasy, and further expounded on the nature and fruits of this excellent grace and the honour it reflects upon all who lived by it and died and suffered extraordinary things by the strength of His grace (v. 1-3). (2Pet:1:4).
A definition or description of the grace of faith is in two parts.
1.It is the substance of things hoped for. Faith and hope go together; and the same things that are the object of our hope are the object of our faith. It is a firm persuasion and expectation that God will perform all that he has promised to us in Christ; and this persuasion is so strong that it gives the soul a kind of possession and present fruition of those things, as well as a foretaste. The result is that believers are filled with joy unspeakable and full of glory (1Pet.1:8). Christ dwells in the soul by faith, and the soul is filled with the fullness of God (Eph.3:17-19).
2.It is the evidence of things not seen. Faith demonstrates to the eye of the mind thereality of those things that cannot be discerned by the eye of the body. Faith is thefirm assent of the soul to the divine revelation and every part of it, and sets to itsseal that God is true (Jn 3:33). It is a full consent of all that God has revealed asholy, just, and good and helps the soul to apply itself fully and suitably. Faith isdesigned to serve the believer instead of sight, and to be to the soul all that thesenses are to the physical body (2Cor.5:7).
FAITH (THE TESTIMONY)
An account of the honour bestowed upon all those who have lived in and exercised faith
By it the elders (ancient believers) obtained a good report: - Firstly, true faith is not a new invention, but rather a grace that has been planted in the soul of man ever since the covenant of grace was published in the world. Secondly, their faith was their honour; it reflected honour upon ancient believers and God has taken care that a record shall be kept and report made of the excellent things accomplished in the strength of this grace. (Mal.3:16-18).
OUR STAND Verses 1-3
In the first three verses, we have one of the first acts and articles of faith, which has a great influence on our entire belief system (i.e. all believers around the word irrespective of era); namely, the creation of the worlds by the word of God,- not out of pre-existent matter, but out of nothing, (v.3). The grace of faith has a retrospect as well as prospect; it looks not only forward to the future/end of the world, but back to the beginning of the world. By faith we gain a much healthier understanding of the world than ever could be understood by the naked eye of carnal reason. We understand that;
1.These worlds were not eternal, nor did they produce themselves, but they weremade by another. (Gen.1:1-2)
2.The maker of the worlds is God; he is the maker of all things.
3.He made the world with great exactness; it was a framed work that expressesthe perfections of the Creator. (Gen.1:1-31)
4.God made the world by His Word, i.e. by his indispensable wisdom and eternal Son, and by his active will, saying, Let it be done, and it was done, (Ps. 33:9).
5.The world was basically framed out of nothing, out of no pre-existent matter(Gen.1:2).
These things we understand by faith. The Bible gives us the truest and most exact account of the origin of all things, and we are to believe it, and not to wrest or run down the scripture-account of the creation, as some learned but conceited people remark in their infidelity.
EXAMPLES: Verses 4 & 5
Two names of illustrious examples of faith in the Old-Testament times are mentioned.
ABEL: Abel is the leading instance and example of faith here recorded, as well as the first martyr; one who lived by faith, and died for it. He was a healthy example for the Hebrews (and Christian audience) to imitate.
What Abel did by faith:
He offered up a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, a more weighty and acceptable sacrifice. Hence, we learn that;
(1.) After the fall, God opened a new way for the children of men to return to him in religious worship, and Abel was instant at seizing the opportunity. (Gen.4:26)
(2.) After the fall, God must be worshipped by sacrifices, in such a manner which carries in it a ‘confession and desertion’ of sin, and a profession of faith in a Redeemer, as a ransom for the souls of men.
(3.) That there has been a remarkable difference between worshippers approaching God. In this case, two brothers who are vastly different in that - Cain was the elder brother, but Abel the preferred. A preference not based on seniority of birth, but grace. Their personalities and works spoke of their faith or lack of it. Abel was an upright person, a righteous man, a true believer; Cain was a formalist, with little regard for grace. It is observable in their principles: Abel acted under the power of faith; Cain only from the power of carnal education, or natural conscience, at best. This was manifest in the difference in their offerings: Abel brought a sacrifice of atonement, acknowledging himself to be a sinner who deserved to die, and only hoping for mercy through the great sacrifice; This gesture takes faith to accomplish. On the other hand, Cain brought only a sacrifice of acknowledgment, a mere thank-offering, the fruit of the ground- no ‘confession’ (and certainly no desertion) of sin, no regard to the ransom; (Gen.4:7, Luke 11:18). Cain's offering was deficient in his self-sufficiency.
What Abel gained by his faith:
The original record is in Gen. 4:4, God had respect to Abel, and to his offering; first to his person as gracious, then to his offering as proceeding from grace, which is an
extension of grace through faith. Verse 4 of Hebrews 11 informs us that Abel obtained some special advantages by his faith; e.g.
(1.) A Witness that he was righteous, a justified, sanctified, and accepted person;
(2.) God gave witness to the righteousness of his person, by testifying his acceptance of Abel’s gifts. When the fire, an emblem of God's justice, consumed the offering, it was a sign that the mercy of God accepted the offerer. (Gen.4:4)
(3.) By it he, being dead, yet speaketh. And this speech testifies that;
(a) Fallen man must approach God in worship, and with hope of acceptance.
(b) If our persons and offerings be accepted, it must be through faith in the Messiah. (Lk 7:6-10)
(c) That acceptance with God is a peculiar and unique favour. (Judges 13:23)
(d)That recipients of this favour from God must expect the envy and malice of the world. (Jn 15:18-21)
(e) That God will not allow damages inflicted on the redeemed to remain unpunished, nor their sufferings unrewarded. (Gen 12:3)
ENOCH: Enoch is the second of those elders that through faith have a good report.
What Enoch did by faith:
What is here reported of him. In this place (and in Gen. 5:22, etc.) we read,
(1.) That he walked with God, that is, that he was really, eminently, actively, progressively, and perseveringly religious in his conformity to God, communion with God, and gratification in God.
What Enoch gained by his faith
(2.) That he was translated, that he should not see death, nor any part of him be found upon earth; for God took him, soul and body, into heaven, as he will do to the saints who shall be found alive at his second coming. (1Jn 2:28) (3.) That before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. He had the evidence of it in his own conscience, and the Spirit of God witnessed with his spirit. Those who by faith walk with God in a sinful world are pleasing to Him, and he will give them marks of his favour, and put honour upon them. (Gal 6:17)
The Christian walk is hard work, and only faith in the eventual fulfilment of God’s promises can keep us going. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Heb.11:1). We need faith that the promises God made are true, however unlikely that might seem in the present circumstances.
Our study gives us the practical examples of Abel and Enoch. Their faith was not wishful thinking. It is taking seriously God’s self-revelation in Scripture, combined with a “repen-tance from dead works”, perseverance in “love and good deeds”, and an ability to see the hand of God at work in the world, despite the evil and brokenness around us. Ultimately, faith is a gift from the Holy Spirit, for we could never hold on to such faith by our own force of will.
Wednesday, August 18 2021
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
Up to this point, from our previous studies, the Apostle has been establishing the superiority of Christ and the New Covenant over the Old Covenant and its priesthood. He posed several strong arguments:
• That Christ is a better High Priest (after the order of Melchizedek) than that of Aaron and the many who made up the Levitical priesthood. (Heb. 7:17)
• That through Christ, there is a better place of worship (in the heavens, at the right hand of the Father) than that which was possible in the tabernacle. (Heb. 10:12)
• That through Christ, we have a better covenant (the New Covenant, inaugurated by Christ’s sacrificial death) with better promises than the Old Covenant. (Heb. 8:6)
• And finally, that through Christ, we have an infinitely better sacrifice, the oncefor- all sacrifice of a man (God-man) who was without sin, rather than the continual offering of animal sacrifices. (Heb. 10:12)
• The result of this superior work of the Messiah is that our sins can be forgiven once for all. As a part of this cleansing from sin, the believer is also granted a cleansed conscience, so that he or she may boldly approach God without fear (the fear of judgment which comes from guilt) or hesitation. (Heb. 9:14)
The warnings in Hebrews Chapter 6 and today’s verses of chapter 10 are for believers and not unbelievers; and can be interpreted as very harsh judgment. That is why the Apostle Paul exhorted us to purposefully draw near, hold fast, and consider how to encourage others in their Christian walk. (Heb. 10:25)
Today’s study is divided into two main parts. The first being sobering words of warning while the second, words of encouragement and exhortation.
I. SOBERING WORDS OF WARNING
Verses 26 and 27
26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.
The warnings in verse 26 are closely related to the exhortations of the verses which precede them. If the work of Christ is full and final, so that “there is no longer any [other] offering for sin” (10:18), then to reject the supreme and ultimate sacrifice of Christ is to leave oneself with no other means of forgiveness.
The Apostle warns of a specific kind of sin, rather than of sin in some more general sense. This specific sin is described for us in verse 26 as that which is conscious, deliberate, and persistent. This sin is committed in spite of the fact that the sinner had received the knowledge of the truth. Not only is this sin wilful, it is also persistent and ongoing; deliberately rejecting Christ. Such a person has become an apostate and not a believer anymore! Such a person does not sin because of ignorance, nor is he or she carried away by momentary temptations he or she is too weak to resist. The wilful sinner sins because of an established way of thinking and acting which he or she has no desire to give up.
Having turned their backs on the truth, and with full knowledge choosing to wilfully and continually sin, the apostate is then beyond salvation because they have rejected the one true sacrifice for sins: the Lord Jesus Christ. If Christ’s sacrifice is rejected, then all hope of salvation is gone. To turn away wilfully from this sacrifice leaves no sacrifice; it leaves only sin, the penalty for which is eternal death.
This passage is not speaking of a believer who falls away, but rather someone who may claim to be a believer, but truly is not. Anyone who apostatizes is proving he never had genuine faith to begin with (1 John 2:19). “They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.”
“Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?”
The violation of the Mosaic law was a desecration, it is a much greater defilement to despise the New Covenant. Both have their respective discipline. The argument of this verse refers to the practice in the Old Testament whereby people were put to death for idolatry and murder. (Numbers 15:27–31)
By analogy, the New Covenant believer who violates the doctrine of the sacrificial death of Christ subjects himself to severe discipline from God. Premature death of the believer may be an option (Acts 5:1–11; 1 Cor. 11:28–31; 1 John 5:16). It could also mean that the believer will lose his rewards in heaven. But for the apostate, he or she is subject to eternal death. This verse provides us three more characteristics of this particular sin also referred to in verse 26:
•It expresses contempt for the Son of God
•It profanes the blood of the covenant, the very blood that sanctified him or her
•It insults the Spirit of grace
“For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
“To fall” into God’s living hands is to come under His absolute authority. David would rather be judged by God than man (2 Sam 24:14). In David’s case, God sent pestilence that caused 70 thousand Israelites to die. Falling into the hands of God here is chastisement, not eternal damnation. This is a warning to believers, not unbelievers. God takes upon Himself the responsibility for dealing with believers who distort doctrine.
II. WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT AND EXHORTATION
In this section the Apostle Paul gives us five points for endurance.
1. Remember Your Past (Verses 32-34a)
32 Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full 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 suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property,
The first point of encouragement is to remember your past. Here, Paul reminds these Christians of all they had endured for the cause of Christ up to this point. They “endured a hard struggle with sufferings.” Sometimes they were exposed to public insults. Some experienced persecution. Some were put in prison and some endured the confiscation of their property. Some of these Christians showed love and courage by standing side by side with those who were treated this way. Why is the writer reminding them of what they went through in the past and how they handled it? The point is that you have endured in the past and you can continue to endure now. You showed love and compassion during those difficult times. They had a joyful response to what they experience. You did not give up when it was hard to be a Christian. You did not quit when the pressure was significant. Not only did you not give up, but you even rose to the challenge in how you handled the trials and how you helped others through the trial. We can endure when we remember how we have endured in the past.
2. You Have Something Better! Hold on and You will be Rewarded! (Verses 34b – 35)
“because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.35 So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.”
The second point of encouragement Paul shares is why they were so successful at that moment of trial they experienced in the past. It was because of the confidence they had; that they possessed something better; a lasting possession in heaven. He now admonishes them not to throw that this confidence away because in the end they will be richly rewarded.
3. You Need To Endure/Persevere (Verse 36)
“You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.
The third point of encouragement is simply a call to endure. Endurance is the call of life. Nothing about walking with God is ever pictured as easy or simplistic; but the
reassurance is that at the end we will receive what God promised us. Suffering is not an excuse for not doing the will of God. We need to endure and continue to do the will of God so that we can receive our great reward.
4.Jesus Is Coming (Verse 37)
“For, “In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.”
The fourth point for endurance is knowing that Jesus is coming and He will not delay. God does not stop evil from ever happening, but He does judge it. The context of this quotation comes from Habakkuk 2. “If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay” (Habakkuk 2:3).
5.The Righteous Live By Faith (Verse 38)
“And, “But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.”
The final point for endurance is to understand that the righteous live by faith. Endurance is persistence in this life of faith despite hardships and persecution. What other way do we show faith? What other way do we show our trust in God except when life is hard, continuing to be faithful in our righteous living to God? When you go through hardships and you remain faithful and continue to show the love of Christ in all you do, God takes pleasure in you. There is not a better thought to encourage our continued endurance.
Apostle Paul concludes his encouragement with verse 39.
“But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.”
The destruction mentioned here is not the eternal destruction of the soul. Although it can refer to either eternal destruction in hell, the meaning in this context is “ruin.” To draw back will ruin the believer who does this in his present life. The believer cannot draw back to eternal ruin. However, the Christian can ruin their testimony of walking by faith and keeping the clarity of their message if they minimize the finished work of Christ. An apostate on the other hand leaves himself/herself no other option than the penalty of eternal death.
Parts of this study was culled from:
https://bible.org/seriespage/24-should-there-be-second-class-saints-hebrews-1026-39 https://westpalmbeachchurchofchrist.com/new-testament/hebrews/hebrews_10_26- 39.html
Wednesday, August 11 2021
Contributor: Ngozi Roberts
Review of last week’s study:
During the last studies, we have established the fact that covenant under Moses was all about the sacrifices made repeatedly for sins. However, with the crucifixion of Jesus introduced the new covenant was only one sacrifice made for all our sins once and for all. With this unique sacrifice abundant mercy has been provided for us all having confirmed the writing of His laws in our hearts so that we walk with him in perfection.
Today’s study captioned “A Call to Persevere in Faith”
19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. NIV
19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, Here the writer is encouraging us to establish our faith.
In Verse 19 he emphasises on how we can come to Him:
• By the blood of Jesus - having been given birth together through the blood we are now brothers and sisters in Gods family and as a result it’s natural that as our Father, God will welcome us to himself. Therefore, we should be bold enough to come to Him in His Holy Sanctuary without hesitation or bashfulness.
• by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body - Here the writer confirms that the way to God is now open. There is no longer the bus stop from one holy place to another and to the holy of holies as it was during the Moses covenant. However, with the crucifixion of Christ we can say that we now have an express way to Him which is a devoted/dedicated life-giving way for us to approach God.
• and since we have a great priest over the house of God- This is because we now have Jesus Christ as a High Priest. Remember, in the earlier verses, we established how in the Moses’ covenant that the priests would offer sacrifices using animals for atonement of sins but in this new covenant our High Priest is Jesus Himself and the writer makes us to know that He is the only High Priest over all of us that can welcome us into the presence of God.
Verses 22 – 23
22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful
• Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart – so we are encouraged to come to him with an open heart, be sure not to let anything keep us far from him. Just like James 4:8 – “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”
• with the full assurance that faith brings – be fully convinced that nothing will keep us at a distance from Him
• having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience – another way would be by having faith and of certain that our hearts have been cleaned by the sprinkled blood of Jesus. This blood removes impurities and helps us to be free from any king of accusing conscience.
• having our bodies washed with pure water - In this unstained state, we can be sure to be presentable to God inside and outside.
• Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess – The writer goes on to encourage us that once we are in this state of purity, we should hold on to it tightly. Just as Joshua say in 23:8 “But cleave unto the LORD your God, as ye have done unto this day.” In other words, we should stay strong and steady. Obediently do everything that is written in God’s word missing no detail. Making sure we do not get mixed up with the ways of the world that are still around.
• for he who promised is faithful. - When we hold on tightly and steadfastly to this hope inside of us, God will surely keep His promises. - Psalm 145:13 says– “The Lord is faithful to ALL His promises and loving toward ALL He has made”
24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
• spur one another on toward love and good deeds - The writer went on to explain further how we can hold on tightly the hope that we confess. One of the ways would be by way of encouraging one another. Motivating one another and helping each other by doing the works of compassion, doing godly works that helps us express the love of God.
• not giving up meeting together - He advised us to avoid pulling away from meeting together as brothers and sisters. We should not form the habit of despising our meeting together. We should desire always to be around other believers as it will encourage us in our walk-in faith. This brings to remembrance the practice of the saints of old in Acts 2:42 which told us “And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”. Also, Colossians 3:16 encouraged us to “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”
• but encouraging one another – So we ought to form the habit of meeting together and be eager to always encourage and urge one another. This was also emphasized in 1 Thessalonians 5:11 which say “Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do “
• and even more as you see the Day approaching - This way we can through our encouragement help each other to anticipate the coming of our Lord and be ready for His coming.
In conclusion, the writer is encouraging us as those who have found confidence, trust, and faith in Jesus Christ to enter His presence freely as we have been purified and washed clean by the blood of Jesus. This is our confidence because God will surely accept us. We as believers have a great and secure hope for the future until we meet Him face to face in glory. But until then we are encouraged to keep on going in the right direction, encouraging one another in love with good deeds. In other words, our lifestyle should be very active and never a dull moment or idle time so that we do not give room to the enemy and as we do so God will continue to help us and strengthen us in Jesus’s name Amen.