Hebrews 6B: Hope that does not Disappoint!
In our last lesson, we looked at the two fields- one of which “produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed and receive the blessing of God. But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.” (Hebrews 6; 7, 8) Note: God will never curse His own.
Paul in I Corinthians 3 gives us two pictures of the believer: ‘you are God’s field, you are God’s building.’ Paul then tells us the foundation on which we build is Jesus Christ. Then Paul lists six materials: gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, and straw. Each believer will appear before the Bema to have our works judged. Fire will reveal our motives. Obviously the gold, silver and precious stones will survive and we will be rewarded. Wood, hay and straw will burn up. These last three were done in our own strength, in our own power. Self-sufficiency is characteristic of pride. Paul goes on to say the believer whose works burn up, will nevertheless be saved, but as one who has been singed through fire.
I have heard many say, I will be glad to get into heaven, even if all my works burn up. Yet, Jesus told us to lay up treasure in heaven for ourselves. The ‘Treasure Principle’ tells us where our treasure is, there is your heart also. Jesus is our Wonderful Counselor and in those verses in Matthew 6- He give us this investment advice, the best investment we will every make is in laying up treasures in heaven for those we lay up on earth will not last. From the perspective of a long term investor, Jesus is counseling us to lay up treasures for ourselves in heaven which will last forever and be enjoyed forever in heaven. I do not believe anyone in heaven will live in regret; but I do believe at the bema, we will have a moment when we wished we would have done more for Jesus. You see the Treasure Principle is based on the joy of giving. Jesus said you will receive “a hundred times as much “in heaven. (Matt. 19:29) Just to be clear our treasure in heaven is three fold: Jesus is our ultimate treasure. Heaven is our second treasure. And eternal rewards are our third treasure. You can’t take it with you- but you can send it ahead.
What are the motives which are ‘fire-proof”? They are listed in I Thess. 1: “…. Your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”
In Hebrews 6:9, the author ‘… we are confident of better things in your case- which accompany salvation.’ The writer then commends them for the work and love they have shown God by helping others and continuing to help them. Remember Jesus said – when we showed love to the least of these, we showed love to Him. Jesus said ‘a new commandment I give unto you- to love one another as I have loved you.’ The fruit which pleases God is listed in Galatians 5: 22, 23: But the fruit of the Spirit is love joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Notice the subject is paired with a singular verb. This, (I believe) notes the singular fruit is love of which the others are a byproduct of love. The unmistakable sign of true Christian life is the existence of love that desires to help others. This love seeks to minister to others at cost to self. If this love is present, even to a small degree, it is proof we are truly Christians. Loving results in giving. For God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son.
The writer to the Hebrews then encouraged them to stay diligent to the very end to make your hope sure. He warns against being lazy, but through faith and patience inherit what has been promised. Spiritual laziness is a problem. The writer links faith to patience and tells us through the practice of these two we will inherit what has been promised. Yet many times we give up when we pray and no answer comes. You may be here today and there is something in your life about which you have been praying about for years and it seems as if God is deaf. The struggle is to keep believing when events and life seem not to get better. When answers are delayed, you become discouraged and neglect the Word, because you are not seeing the results your heart desires. The enemy’s number one lie is we can only believe what we see. The enemy wants you to give up. Your old nature is tired of this pursuit. This fatigue, this fainting is when one becomes spiritually lazy; weary in well doing, and then we will ignore the Word of God. Remember the first danger we were warned of: not paying careful attention to the Word of God. It causes drifting, a straying heart. What did God instruct Joshua to do when Joshua took command after Moses’ death? God told Joshua: “Be strong and courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave to you; do not turn to the right or the left that you may be successful wherever you go.” (Joshua 1) Did you see how dejected and depressed the two travelers were on the road to Emmaus? (Luke 24) Then when Jesus opened the Word to them, how their spirits were revived and their hearts burned within them.
When you ignore the Word of God, you will ignore prayer. Prayer and the Word of God are inseparable. Jesus said you will either pray or faint. Jesus started each day with prayer. The next thing which occurs is neglect of fellowship with believers and you will begin to rationalize your sin or sins. You will begin to doubt the promises of God. And when you begin to doubt the promises of God, you cannot enter into His Rest and you are in danger of growing dull of hearing His Word. Imagine praying for years and not getting an answer. This is why faith is linked with patience. We are to pursue holiness. And when we do, the enemy will come and bring doubt as he always does- ‘did God really say?’ The writer to the Hebrews knew what was going on in their lives. It has been 30-35 years since Jesus had ascended to heaven. The temple was still in business, the Romans were still in control, and Jesus had not come back. Their lives had not gotten better, and in fact, for many their lives were worse. They must have wondered as we do- what in the world is going on? And why Lord do we cry out to You and You do not answer? This is why the next passages take us back to Abraham and his journey of faith. His belief in a promise which took 25 years to be answered and seemed as if it would never be as promised is an encouraging story of faith. The writer knew we need to be encouraged. And he knew just the story to take the Hebrews back to, (as well as ourselves) to be encouraged by the life of man named, Abraham.
GOD IS ABLE!
When a witness takes an oath in court, he/she is confronted with the words, “so help me God.” We call on the Greater to witness to the lesser. None is greater than God, so God swore by Himself! The next verses from 13-20 provide us with our basis for Spiritual Security. Let us examine them carefully:
“When God made His promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for Him to swear by, He swore by Himself, saying, “I will surely bless you (Abraham) and give you many descendants.” And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised. Men swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of His purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, He confirmed it with an oath. God did this so, by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we have fled to take hold (refuge) of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” Let us look at the argument the writer is making for the basis of our spiritual security.
The story of Abraham was very familiar to this Hebrew audience and it should be familiar to us believers in the 21st century. Why is this passage so important to not only the Hebrews 2000 years ago but to us believers today? Because we are heirs to the promise. Galatians 3 tells us: “If you belong to Christ, the you are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise.” Let us re-visit the story of Abraham so we may fully understand this matter of God’s oath and faithfulness. Genesis 12 begins the account of Abraham and God. “The Lord had said to Abraham: “Leave your country, leave your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.” God calls us to separation. He calls us on a mission and a journey without a map. He is the way. God then tells Abraham of the blessing: “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you and whoever curses you I will curse; and all the people of the earth will be blessed through you.” Abraham we are told was 75 years old and he and his wife Sarah had no children for she had always been barren.
If you follow the story in Genesis, you will see Abraham arrived in Canaan to a land occupied by the enemy. Soon thereafter, he would experience a famine. Surely Abraham must have wondered and been puzzled as to why things were not going smoother. Sarah must have wondered why did we ever leave home? The pressure of the situation led Abraham to go on an ill-advised trip to Egypt. Just like us, Abraham in his journey of faith, like ours, Abraham often panicked in circumstances and leaned to his own understanding. He would face battles, and years of no heir. Once again we see Abraham try to do what only God can do and create his own answer to his prayers. He takes the handmaiden, Hagar, and creates an heir of his own making. He is like a lot of us, a slow learner. But nevertheless God keeps His Word, even though Abraham at times doubted God could do what God said He was going to do. We have all been there, haven’t we?
But Abraham continued to make progress, through faith and patience. He would take 2 steps forward and 1 step back. Twenty five years of prayer. Twenty five years of ups and downs, wrong turns, and do-it-yourself projects, Abraham persevered. He is a picture of faith and patience. Paul writes in Romans 15: “For whatever things were written before, were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of Scriptures might have hope.” Paul goes on to tell us God is the God of patience and comfort, and the God of all hope. And we all need hope- it is the very oxygen of our souls.
Now a word about hope: “And not only that, but we glory in tribulations, knowing tribulations produce perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God is poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”(Romans 5) Do you understand this? We are told to expect problems. Problems will come into our lives for periods of time from short to long term. However there is no reason to believe God has stopped loving you or you have somehow lost His Grace. In fact, the opposite is true, God has allowed you to suffer so that you will learn to persevere. This is what develops character which gives you hope which does not disappoint.
This is the hope we have and it is based on God’s promise to us. You realize the promises we claim are based on the very character of God and God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Someone’s word is only as good as their character.
If Abraham was a church going man in the 21st century who had experienced all the problems he had experienced, he could come to his pastor and say: ‘I have been praying about a situation, which I believe is God’s will for 25 years. It has not been answered. I have come to the end of my rope. I am running out of time and I have come to believe prayers based on God’s promises don’t work!’ You could understand his frustration, his feeling of defeat and disappointment.
“ Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, the father of us all. As it is written (‘I have made the father of many nations,’) in the presence of Him whom he believed – God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did; who contrary to hope (against all hope), in hope believed, so that he might become the father of many nations according to what was spoken, so shall your descendants be. And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old) and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. He did not waver at the promise of God, through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was able to perform.” (Romans 4)
Did you catch that phrase: who contrary to hope, (against all hope), in hope believed. Paul goes on to explain why this first hope had become contrary to believing. He was hoping for a child to be born to a man who was close to 100 years old whose body was dead as far as the ability to reproduce and added to that was a wife, Sarah, who was 90 years old and had always been barren. Natural circumstances, science, medicine and common sense, conventional wisdom and all rational thinking said this is an impossible, hopeless situation. There were two hopes here: one is based on natural reasoning, science and medicine which said you have a hopeless situation. Your bodies are dead as far as reproducing a child. The other hope was in two unchangeable facts. God had made a promise to Abraham which had not yet come to be. God promised Abraham that he and Sarah would have a child; an heir and his descendants would be as innumerable as the stars of heaven and through the Seed, Jesus Christ, all the nations would be blessed. And the second immutable fact was God confirmed His promise with an oath. Because of these two truths- Abraham’s faith did not waver.
TWO IMMUTABLE- UNCHANGEABLE THINGS
Here are two immutable, unchangeable things or truths we know about God. These two things are based on attributes of God. He does not change. It is impossible for God to lie.
- God has given Abraham and us promises. Remember He does not change. He cannot lie.
- God has given us His oath to confirm His promise. So God cannot lie. He makes a promise then swears an oath to keep that Promise. And since He does not change and cannot lie- these are sure. But we must patiently endure while He works all things together for good.
We really have even more- because we have the Holy Spirit deposited in us as a guarantee and have the Lord Jesus, God’s own Son He gave us who has now gone ahead and is in heaven as our Great High Priest.
Do you realize we are heirs to the promises of Abraham because we belong to Christ? We have even more of God’s promises that did Abraham. Why are we wavering? Why are we not seeing spiritual progress? It is because we do not apply ourselves by faith. The farmer does not reap a harvest by sitting on the porch. God provides the seed, the soil, the needed moisture, sun and weather. But the farmer must till the soil, plant the seed, cultivate and weed. He cannot neglect those activities and expect to reap a harvest. WE must not be weary in well doing, for in due season we will reap the harvest if we do not lose heart. (Galatians 6) And we lose heart, when we lose hope. Hope in anything besides the Lord Jesus and His promises is hope that will sooner or later disappoint. My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus Blood and Righteousness. The believer who neglects the Word of God and obedience to it, who neglects church fellowship, and forgets to pray is not going to reap much of a harvest. And their faith will waver.
God has given us His Oath and His promise and we are heirs to the promise.
The writer tells us we have “fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.” (KJV) We studied about the six cities of refuge God appointed in Joshua 20. Anyone who killed someone accidentally could flee to these cities for refuge from the victim’s family. The elders would investigate the case and determine if this was truly an accident. If it was determined it was an accident, the man was permitted to live there in safety until the death of the high priest at that time.
We have fled to our High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ, who lives forever. No avenger or accuser can touch us.
So these immutable (unchangeable) truths are the anchor for our soul, firm and secure. It is not an anchor dropped in the depths of the ocean to hold in a storm. It is anchored above, in the sanctuary of heaven behind the veil in the Throne Room of heaven. Our anchor is sure and steadfast. It cannot slip
The writer then tells us- Jesus Christ went before us, He is our forerunner (KJV) and has gone ahead. He told us on the night before His crucifixion. I am going to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.” (John 14)
The writer wants us to be greatly encouraged. He wants us each to go on to maturity, and God has made it possible for us to do just that. If we start to drift from the Word of God, then we will start to doubt the Word of God which can wreak havoc on your prayer life. Soon you will get dull toward the Word of God and become lazy believers.
The best way to keep from drifting is to lay hold of the anchor. The anchor holds because it is anchored upward in heaven. It is pulling me heavenward.
Jesus began each day in prayer. If He being perfect, need to start each day in prayer how much more important can it be to our maturing process of our keeping hold of this hope we have in Him.
Is it not amazing to you we do not utilize what we know about the principle of leverage?
What is needed in leverage? You need a fulcrum. You need a lever. You need to push down on the lever having a firm place to stand.
What is our fulcrum- the Word of God, His Promises to us. Standing on His Promises.
What is our lever? Prayer based on the Word of God and His promises.
How do we push down on it? By faith. And remember the other end of the lever is in Heaven where our High Priest intercedes in prayer for us.
Jesus taught us how to pray. “He told us to go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret (unseen) place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” (Matthew 6)
No wonder the enemy wants to keep you from praying. Keep you from the Word, for they go together like the fulcrum and the lever. Archimedes said – give me a lever long enough and a place outside of earth to stand and I can move the world.
We have a place to stand a lever which reaches behind the veil into heaven itself and we have fled there. This is what the first disciples did and by standing on the promises of God where they had a sure and steadfast anchor in heaven – they turned the world upside down. They actually turned the world right-side up. But I fear in the 2000 years since then, it has been turned upside down again.
We are in a battle. Things are no what they seem. We each have a role to play. It is time to get into the Word and on our knees to enter the battle for all of the armor is supplied for that very reason- to pray always!
He is the God of comfort and patience and He is the GOD OF ALL HOPE. If you have Him, you have Hope. HOPE THAT DOES NOT DISAPPOINT.