Perseverance: Hebrews 10, Part 2

Why do we fall?

Why is it that we fall away when we deliberately continue to sin? Because “no sacrifice for sins is left.” This is obviously the opposite of 10:18, which says that once we’ve been saved, “there is no longer any sacrifice for sin.” You see, Jesus died but once. We enter with him into his death but once — at baptism. We are then resurrected with him — and can no longer re-enter his death.

If we remain true to our faith and our penitence, we never need to find a second forgiveness. We were saved “once for all” and were made “perfect forever.” But if we rebel against Jesus, reject him as Lord, and repudiate the penitence we had at the beginning, we’ve –

* become an enemy of God

* trampled the Son of God under foot,

* treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant

* insulted the Spirit of grace

You see, we can’t accept God’s blessings while refusing to even try to live as God wishes. We can’t enjoy the benefits of Jesus’ sacrifice by entering into his death without also entering into his life.

Further passages

The author follows this passage with a series of parallel exhortations –

(Heb 10:35-36)  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.

(Heb 12:15)  See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.

The second-quoted verse is often overlooked, but it’s a powerful passage. It refers back to his warning –

(Deu 29:18-20)  Make sure there is no man or woman, clan or tribe among you today whose heart turns away from the LORD our God to go and worship the gods of those nations; make sure there is no root among you that produces such bitter poison. 19 When such a person hears the words of this oath, he invokes a blessing on himself and therefore thinks, “I will be safe, even though I persist in going my own way.” This will bring disaster on the watered land as well as the dry. 20 The LORD will never be willing to forgive him; his wrath and zeal will burn against that man. All the curses written in this book will fall upon him, and the LORD will blot out his name from under heaven.

The great danger is in “cheap grace,” that is, allowing grace to become an excuse to sin. You see, that’d be to deliberately keep on sinning. Therefore, if you think, “I will be safe, even though I persist in going my own way,” you fall away.

The teaching of Hebrews on the dangers of falling away are not new. God is gracious and forgives sin — but not for those who refuse to join in the life of Jesus. You can throw away what God has given you.

Repentance

Now, back in 6:4-6 we were told that the danger of falling away is that we become so hardened that we never repent. Here we’re told that the danger is that we can’t again reach Jesus’ sacrifice. And these are surely the same thing seen from different angles.

Therefore, if someone repents, he never fell away. Indeed, if he repents, he certainly has forgiveness, and therefore is not described in Heb 10:26 ff. Now, this tells us that God is far more patient with us than we sometimes imagine. The Parable of the Prodigal Son is one of my examples of God’s love — a love so great that he will put up with some very wicked behavior before finally giving up on us.

And so we have this paradox. It’s both easy and difficult to fall away. It’s easy in that we only need to develop a hard heart. That’s all it takes. It’s not that we committed particularly awful sins. It’s that our heart became rebellious.

But it’s difficult because God has given us his Spirit and each other to help us make it to the end and to call us to repentance when we mess up. It’s difficult because God can be remarkably patient with his beloved children. And it’s difficult because God will never reject someone who comes to him with faith and penitence.

However, the moment we decide that we can take advantage of God’s patience and sin intentionally with impunity is the moment we put ourselves in truly grave danger. And — much worse — when we turn in that direction we begin to silence the Spirit and our conscience. We’ll likely also withdraw from our Christian brothers and sisters. And over time, it’ll become harder and harder to turn back to God.

Eventually, it becomes so hard to turn back that our consciences become seared as with a hot iron. And then we’re irretrievably damned.

Of course, this means that we have an obligation to our brothers and sisters to help them make it and so to turn them from hardheartedness. And we are routinely too slow to begin and too quick to stop. We give up, I believe, long before God does, and we don’t even make the effort to help until they are well on their way to damnation.

The solution is for to expressly given one another permission to meddle — to call us to account, and even to pry a bit. Because we Westerners are proud of our privacy and our right to keep others out of our business. And that’s why far too many fall away and no one else even tries to prevent it.

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11 Responses to Perseverance: Hebrews 10, Part 2

  1. Royce Ogle says:

    Jay, Just to satisfy my curiosity, how do you reconcile the statement in Hebrews 10:14 and the word "forever" there, and it's use in Hebrews 7:28? Why does the 7:14 text mean "perfect forever" (speaking of Jesus's sonship) and the 10:14 does not mean "perfected forever" (speaking of the scope of Christ's work for sinners) even though it clearly says it?

    Our mutual friend Al Maxey uses almost 30 passages of scriptue to refute the Perseverance of the Saints, the "P" in TULIP, the Calvinist doctrines. There are many, many more passages that say the opposite, several being Jesus' own words. So, there is a paradox isn't there?

    Two opposites cannot both be true. What should be true is that those who disagree should do so in a civil, loving, respectful way. If I use some cheap label to cast you in a bad light only because you don't agree with me, I am 100% wrong.

    The tests of brotherhood are do we fit the template of 1 Corinthians 13, the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5, and the love commands in 1 John, even when someone disagrees with us about Bible doctrine.

    I am sorry that name calling, damning, and even calling people Satanists has been done in a public forum and on one of the most important church of Christ sites on earth.

    I plead with all who read this, behave like the person you claim to be, a child of God.

    With respect,
    Royce

  2. Anonymous says:

    I don’t believe everyone professing to be Christians are saved.

    The writer of Hebrews is speaking to Jews who have not all come to genuine faith, not all of them were truly converted. The book of Hebrews is addressing two groups, genuine believers and unbelievers who had knowledge of Christ professing faith not being truly converted.

    The writer of Hebrews continually makes mention of the superiority of Christ and His sufferings. All the pomp and circumstance of religion pales in comparison to the Person and work of Christ Jesus. The writer of Hebrews constantly compares the inadequacies of a sacrificial system to the perfection and completion of Christ’s work. Hebrews gives us a portrait of our Lord Jesus Christ who is our salvation.

    I don’t believe in a salvation by works, I also don’t believe in a salvation that doesn’t produce good works. There is no salvation by works, but there is no salvation that doesn’t evidence itself in good works. Salvation produces holy living. Salvation brings forth the pursuit of holiness.

    The warnings in Hebrews are not to genuine believers, but are warnings to those who claim they are saved, but in reality are not. These passages are tests of genuineness. They are the means to test whether someone is a genuine believer or not. They are used to distinguish between those who are truly saved and those who are not. A person can profess faith, but if there is no obedience to the Word of God, their claim of the faith is empty, they are not saved.

    Hebrews 4:1-2 “Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.”

    True Christianity produces individuals who live for righteousness sake, false Christianity can be tested by the individual who practices a lifestyle of sin.

    1 John 3:7-10 “Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God. In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother.”

    The unsaved participate partaking that which is of Christ all the time. The gospel had been preached to these people, they gained knowledge of Christ, they have been to churches, they have tasted heavenly things, they have seen the gifts and power of the Holy Spirit manifested in their presence. They were to go on to a full genuine acceptance or to fall to a willful conscious enmity against Christ, and the sin of rejecting Him, and putting Him to an open shame. Those who don’t hold firm were never eternally saved. The writer of Hebrews is speaking to the unsaved who have heard the truth, but who have hesitated to embrace Christ.

    As we see the writer of Hebrews also speaks to those who have genuine faith as in verses 6:9-20.

    “But, beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation, though we speak in this manner. For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister. And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying, “Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you.” And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. For men indeed swear by the greater, and an oath for confirmation is for them an end of all dispute. Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”

    The Lord Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one.”(John 10:27-30), Paul gives us assurance saying, “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”(Romans 8:38-39), “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” (Ephesians 1:13-14). We can be confident that God keeps us as He promises to complete what He started in us, “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6).

    John 4:13-14 “Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”

    2 Timothy 1:12 “For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.”

    2 Timothy 4:18 “And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!”

    2 Corinthians 3:4-6 “And we have such trust through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”

    1 Peter 1:23 “having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever.”

    1 John 3:2 “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”

    We should be encouraged by God’s faithfulness to always help us and protect us.

    Psalm 18:1-2 “I will love You, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”

    Psalm 18:28 “For You will light my lamp; The LORD my God will enlighten my darkness.”

    Psalm 32:7 “You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance.”

    Psalm 36:5 “Your mercy, O LORD, is in the heavens; Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.”

    Psalm 37:39-40 “But the salvation of the righteous is from the LORD; He is their strength in the time of trouble. And the LORD shall help them and deliver them; He shall deliver them from the wicked, And save them, Because they trust in Him.”

    Psalm 48:14 “For this is God, Our God forever and ever; He will be our guide even to death.”

    Psalm 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.”

    Psalm 63:7-8 “Because You have been my help, Therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice. My soul follows close behind You; Your right hand upholds me.”

    Psalm 73:26 “My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

    Psalm 91:1-2 “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.”

    Psalm 94:18 “If I say, “My foot slips,” Your mercy, O LORD, will hold me up.”

    Psalm 103:12 “As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.”

    Psalm 121:2 “My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth.”

    Psalm 138:7 “Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch out Your hand Against the wrath of my enemies, And Your right hand will save me.”

    I trust when I put my life in His hands there couldn’t be a more secure place to be. God is my strength, my stronghold, He always revives me, God helps me and holds me up even when I am at my weakest.

    2 Peter 2:9 “Then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment.”

    People need to totally embrace Christ with all of their life, not just part of it. I trust God with all of my life, everything about me is in His hands, my weaknesses, my fears, my doubts. Whatever Satan wants to throw at me, God is with me, He will protect me. I encourage people who are learning to trust God that they can trust Him with all of their life.

    And thank you Royce for your kind words.

  3. Let's also remember, that only God is the judge of salvation.

  4. Larry Short says:

    Congrats Jay, you have invented a new theology!
    " You see, Jesus died but once. We enter with him into his death but once — at baptism. We are then resurrected with him — and can no longer re-enter his death."
    Now we have once failed always failed.

  5. Jay Guin says:

    Royce,

    It's a good question. I think in both cases he means the same thing: "perfect forever" means having no sins charged against you from now until the end of time. When we are baptized, we are in the eyes of God just as "perfect forever" as Jesus. That's his point.

    But passages such as 6:4-6 and 10:26ff (and several others) teach that it's a state that can be thrown away by rebellion.

  6. Jay Guin says:

    Larry,

    That's what Hebrews says, in my view. I'm not the only one who sees things that way, although I'm likely in the minority. Study c. 10 carefully. Compare 10:18 and 10:26. And isn't that what 6:4-6 says? And 12:15. And the Parable of the Sower. And see F. F. Bruce, New International Commentary on Hebrews, p. 124.

    People who commit [deliberate apostasy], he says, cannot be brought back to repentance; by renouncing Christ they put themselves in the position of those who, deliberately refusing His claim to be Son of God, had Him crucified and exposed to public shame.Those who repudiate the salvation procured by Christ will find none anywhere else.

  7. Randall says:

    Bobby Valentine's blog has a new post that deals with Hebrews – especially the passage that have been addressed by Jay. You may read it at: http://stoned-campbelldisciple.blogspot.com/

  8. Randall says:

    In Bobby Valentine's last post I referred to above there is a link to another post he wrote titled: "Cultural Literacy: Improving Our Bible Reading"

    I recommend clicking on the link and reading it as well. I found it rather helpful, and humbling.

    Bobby doesn't post real often, but when he does it is worth the wait.
    Peace,
    Randall

  9. Jay I appreciate your work. Randall thank you for the gracious words.

    Shalom,
    Bobby Valentine

  10. Jay Guin says:

    Randall,

    Thanks for posting the link to Bobby's article. I was planning to post a link myself — and you beat me to it.

    And, yes, I took the Hebrews thing to be a joke. I trust my reference to preachers was seen as a joke, too. (I know some preachers who are pretty touchy about going long on their sermons.) :)

    (See: I'm going to start using more emoticons so my jokes are seen as jokes. Although, to me, it's kind of like laughing at your own jokes.)

  11. Larry Short says:

    Randll is right, read Bobby Valentine's link.
    I went to a public hgh school next door to a synagogue. About 1/4 of the school (of 3,000) was Jewish. One thing they do not tolerate well is a traitor. Josephus was a good apoligist of Judism, but since he gave up on Jewish rebellion, he was hated by Jews.
    Anyway in a book for Hebrew Christians, it would be impossible for a Christian traitor to be accepted again.
    I agree with you Jay that it would be a rare human that would return, but very Godlike to grant mercy.

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