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The Daily Word of Righteousness
A Warning to the Backslider, #4
That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day. (II Timothy 1:12—NIV)
Having brought to mind the saving power of God, a power that is ready to work on behalf of anyone who keeps plowing ahead with the Lord even though there are significant flaws in the personality, let us consider some of the statements found in the Book of Hebrews. The Book of Hebrews is a warning to the backslider.
First of all, what group was being addressed in the Book of Hebrews? Those being addressed were Jewish Christians. They were experienced believers who now were beginning to grow cold. The long periods of boredom that often occur in the Christian life were having their effect. The excitement was over, and now came the years of patient endurance when nothing exciting was taking place. But it is in such times that the saints are made.
The internal evidence of the epistle suggests they were "saved," as we use the term, and knew the Holy Spirit and also the miracle power that prefigures the coming Kingdom Age.
In addition they had responded joyously and victoriously to severe persecution.
Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. (Hebrews 10:32-34—NIV)
These were not exactly new converts!
The Book of Hebrews is a book of warning to experienced Christians who, after having received Christ as Savior and been filled with the Holy Spirit, were neglecting to press forward vigorously and diligently into the rest of God, that is, into the place where they were dwelling in untroubled rest in the center of God's will.
Evidences of this primary theme appear throughout the epistle. The departure into the discussion concerning the Old Testament sacrifices was for the purpose of showing that the new covenant is superior to the old. It is superior because it includes the power to remove sin rather than just forgive sin, as was true of the blood of bulls and goats. The idea is that there is much more than only forgiveness for us under the new covenant and we are obligated to press into it.
Now let's examine the thesis of the Book of Hebrews, the exhortation to press into the rest of God and the penalty for becoming careless in the things of salvation.
For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, How shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. (Hebrews 2:2,3—NIV)
The idea here is that if every violation and disobedience under the old covenant was punished, we shall not escape if we ignore the provisions of the new covenant.
This passage, particularly verse three, is often preached to the unsaved. It is not addressed to the unsaved. It is addressed to experienced saints who were not pressing forward to the rest of God. The idea is that of ignoring something we already possess.
To be continued.