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Hebrews 6:9-20: Hear the Encouragement Print E-mail
Sunday, 13 November 2016

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What you need this morning, perhaps more than anything else, is a right understanding of God. Whatever troubles you brought in the door or whatever ones you might have to face when you leave, what you need is good theology. Your doctrine of God is the most important thing about you. Or as Tozer so famously said it: ďWhat comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.Ē But do we really believe that? Do we approach life theologically? Do we let the truth of God as He has revealed Himself in the Word and ultimately through Jesus Christ serve as the filter through which we see all of life? Is what we believe about God the lense through which we see the world?

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The author of Hebrews encourages us to see our lives in light of God. In our passage this morning he encourages the original readers to focus on the character of God as the reason for the hope that they have in Christ. Again, some of them were being tempted to leave the faith. He wrote to show them that Jesus is better than anything or anyone else. As we noted a couple of weeks ago, he broke from his argument about Jesus being our great high priest to warn the readers against falling away (5:11-6:8). In our passage today he follows that up with a great encouragement for them to hold fast to their faith in Jesus. We see the shift in verse 9. Look at that with me. The author needed to warn them and warn them he did! But he also has reason to be encouraged about them. He has reason to believe that they will not fall away but that they will hold fast to Jesus. What is his basis for such encouragement? It is found in the character of God. The author goes on to note two characteristics of God that encourage us to hold fast to Jesus.

God is not unjust (v. 10-12)

The first theological truth is that God is not unjust, or to say it positively, God is just. Look at verse 10. The justice of God was a great encouragement for the author. These readers had loved the saints faithfully, at least at the beginning of their fellowship. The author looks back on that as evidence that these folks were truly followers of Jesus. And he knows that God will be just toward them.

His hope for them is that the earnestness that they showed in serving the saints before will now be shown in continued pursuit of faith in Jesus. Look at how he states in verses 11-12. Instead of abandoning the faith, the author wants them to be earnest in the faith until they end. His hope is that the God of justice who filled them with love for the saints will continue to fill them so that they will not be sluggish. This is the same term that the author used when he called them sluggish (or dull) of hearing in 5:11. They have grown sluggish and not gone on to maturity, but the author has hope that they will because of his belief in the justice of God. They have shown evidence of divine grace in the past and the author believes that such grace will continue in the future as they earnestly labor for faith in Jesus. Instead of being sluggish, the author wants his readers to be imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. He wants them to have enduring faith like the saints of old, in particular he will cite the example of Abrahamís faith, which leads to the second theological truth.

God Keeps His promises (v. 13-20)

Certain situations and experiences can cause us to doubt the promises of God. We doubt that He is good. We doubt that He loves us. We doubt that He has good plans for our lives. We can even doubt that He is going to save us in the end. Difficult times have a tendency to erode our belief in the goodness and sovereignty of God. So how do we fight against that?

The author of Hebrews encourages us to consider Abraham. Look at verses 13-16. In the passage that we read as our call to worship this morning, God promises to bless and multiply Abraham. Abraham had shown himself willing to sacrifice Isaac at Godís command. But God was only testing Abraham and so He intervened to save Isaac. And when God gave His promise to Abraham He said: ďBy myself I have sworn, declares the LordÖĒ (Genesis 22:16). As the author of Hebrews notes, when people swear by something, they swear by something greater than themselves. They swear by the King or by the Emperor or by God. But there is no one greater than God, so the greatest guarantee that He can make is to swear by Himself, which is what He did in the promise to Abraham. And Abraham waited patiently and obtained Godís promise. In fact, the New Testament writers, following the teaching of Jesus, claim that Abrahamís promise is still being fulfilled. For all of those who turn from their sins and trust in His death for their salvation are brought into Abrahamís family. In this way, Abrahamís family will include every tongue, tribe, and nation and will continue to multiply until Christ returns. God made a promise to Abraham and He is keeping it through our own salvation. The author of Hebrews wants his readers to see this and be encouraged to persevere in their faith. We have a whole history of God keeping His promises to His people. That history should encourage our faith. He has made it plain that He keeps His promises. Such truth should drive our doubt away.

But God did not just make a promise and swear by Himself, He also gave Abraham an oath. Look at verses 16-18. We know that Godís Word is true because He is always true to His Word. He does not lie, indeed He cannot lie, so we know that what He says He will do He will do. There was no reason for Abraham or others to doubt His promise. He swore by Himself to bless and multiply. So why does He give an oath? Why does He give this second assurance? I think He does it because we are so prone to doubt. He does it to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose. Things on earth are always changing. Today we are celebrating 50 years of Trinity Baptist Church. And my how things have changed over the years. Our music is different, our building is different, our Sunday School material is different (even the people who print it changed their name). Our technology is different (I had some fun looking at the old tech we still have in the church). Our budget is different. Even our constitution has changed through the years. But you know what? Our God has not changed. His purposes for this Church have not changed. He remains the same. He is constant. He gave Abraham His Word and His oath, two unchangeable things, so that Abraham would believe His promises.

What results from such truth? Look at verses 18-20. Because God has sworn by Himself and given an oath to fulfill His promises, we have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. Strong encouragement to hold fast! The Lord has not left us alone in the dark. He has not left us to ourselves and our own strength. He has given us strong encouragement to hold fast to His promises. He does this because He knows that our doubt can run so deep. We know that God has made great promises to us. In fact, as we noted, God is fulfilling His promise to Abraham through us even now! He has promised to never leave us or forsake us. He has promised to be with us to the end of this age (Matthew 28:20). He has promised to work all things for our good (Romans 8:28). And He has promised to give us victory over sin and death through faith in Christ (pretty much the whole book of Revelation). Yet, when life gets hard, we can feel overwhelmed by doubt and despair. We can lose sight of these great promises and the great God who made them and give ourselves over to questions and uncertainty. And in those moments it feels like we are being dragged around by every wind and every storm.

But take heart brothers and sisters, the Lord has given us an anchor for our souls. The anchor is not that everything will be easy or that nothing bad will ever happen. The anchor is that God is just and faithful, He always keeps His promises, and that in Jesus we can come into His presence, into the inner place behind the curtain, because our great High Priest has cleared the way. Anchor your souls to the character of God. Anchor them to the glorious truth that He has revealed in His Son. Anchor them to the good news of the gospel, that Jesus has paid for our sins at the cross and given us access to the presence of God forever through repentance and faith in Him. The storms of life will never be able to move that anchor! The winds of change will never be able to erode its strength. Tie yourself to that anchor and let them do their worst.

For people who were being tempted to abandon their faith in Christ because of difficulties that they were facing, the author of Hebrews holds out to them the anchor of Godís character and goodness. He holds that same anchor out for us this morning. Maybe you have trouble believing that God can really forgive your sins or maybe your experiences has convinced you that God is not good at all. I encourage you to reconsider this morning. God has loved you so much that He sent Jesus to pay for your sins at the cross. And I know that He did pay for all your sins because three days later the Father raised Him from the dead. Turn from your sins today. Ask Him to drive out your doubt and give you faith to believe. Perhaps you feel blown about even now by doubt and despair. Maybe your life is not what you thought it would be as a follower of Jesus. Maybe you have even wondered if His promises are true. Be encouraged this morning by the character of our God. He does not change and He does not go back on His promises. Let His character be an anchor for your soul in the days ahead. May we, like Abraham and all the saints who have gone before us, endure patiently as we long for our promised inheritance. Amen.

1 A. W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1961), p. 1.

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Saturday, 26 November 2016 )

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