Hebrews 1-4

Where is Your Faith?

After the disciples received the Holy Spirit and Peter stood up and preached the Good News about Jesus, the One anointed by God to be the Savior of the World and whose death on the cross paid for the sins of the world, 3000 were saved that day. Shortly after, another 2000 were saved. The Church has been growing ever since.

The Good News, or the Gospel, was first preached to the Jews who were gathered at the Temple for the Feast of Pentecost. The first Christians were Jews. The religious rulers began persecuting the new Jewish believers as we read in the first chapters of the book of Acts. Paul was one of the Pharisees who sought out these believers and put them into prison and approved of them being put to death. There was a high price to pay for converting from Judaism to Christianity. In Acts Chapter 9 we read of Paul’s conversion.  As a result he faced persecution and death threats as well. The book of Hebrews is written to the Jews who have become Christians and are faced with great pressure to convert back to Judaism and the temple worship, or face dire consequences.

Jesus faced this as well and warned that so would His followers in Luke 12. I recommend reading Luke 12 and also the context for His teaching found in Luke 11 and 13. What I am saying is that Christians are faced with many pressures today from various fronts. This makes the book of Hebrews applicable to us today.

The reason for the writing of this Book is found in Hebrews 3:12, “Take care, brethren lest there should be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart, in falling away from the living God.” NASB

Salvation is by faith in Jesus as the Christ, the one God anointed to sacrifice His life for the sins of the world. It is only by believing in Jesus and what He did for us, that we might receive eternal life. Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:8&9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of works of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one can boast.” NASB

It is only fitting then, that the subject of Chapters 1&2 is Jesus; who He truly is, and what He did. Hebrews 1:3 is one of my favorite verses. If you want to know the true nature of God we need only to look to Jesus. I have found that those who reject the Old Testament in favor of the New Testament have not read the Old. They are only repeating what someone else has said and use it as an excuse to avoid the book. Jesus took on a human body and became like us, dealing with the same things we deal with, so that we could learn from Him. As God, He did for us what we cannot do for ourselves, which is free us from sin and give us eternal life. The Bible Jesus read was the Old Testament.

With the coming of Jesus there was a transition that was about to take place. It was the transition from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant. When the Old Covenant was given it had to be received by faith. When the people put their faith in the Old Covenant and were convicted by the Law and offered the sacrifices required by the Law,  they were responding by faith. In the New Covenant Jesus is the sacrifice! His sacrifice fulfills the Law. He did not do away with the Law for we still need to know right from wrong and be convicted for our sins. Indeed, the Law is written on our hearts by the Holy Spirit. However, if when we sin, we were to run to the Temple and offer a sacrifice to atone for our sin we would be ignoring what Jesus did on the cross because we believed that the sacrifice we offered would cover our sin. So to continue to do the requirements of the Old Covenant is to reject the New Covenant and to trust in our works to save us.  Doing so shows that faith has been misplaced and misplaced faith has eternal consequences.

Misplaced faith results from a hard unbelieving heart. This brings us to Chapters 3&4 where the writer gives us an example from Israel’s history. Paul writes in Romans 10:17, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” NASB

The Jews who had received Jesus as their Lord and Savior heard the message and were saved. However, they were also “hearing” the threats of the religious rulers who could throw them out of the synagogue which would also affect their relationships and livelihoods. They were using fear to intimidate the people into giving up their faith in Christ and return to the temple worship. Fear and faith seem to be mutually exclusive. Luke 8:22-25

Fear can harden the heart because it is so loud and demands our attention. This tactic is nothing new and Jesus addressed this in Like 12:4. So the whole issue is what do they believe in and where have they put their faith?

The temple will only remain for one generation after Jesus was crucified. After the temple was destroyed in 70 AD by the Romans there has been no place to offer sacrifices. This begs then the question, how does all of this affect us?

Everyone who has heard the message and put their faith in Jesus has come out of what the Bible calls darkness into the Light. Jesus is the Light but men love darkness. Those of us who have come into the Light will face all kinds of things that want to pull us back into the darkness. If we abandon our faith in Jesus and go back to the old life we are facing the same issues and dangers these Jewish believers faced. Pay careful attention to His words in Like 12:5. The warning in Hebrew 2:1-3 applies to us and we need to take it seriously!

I do not believe we can lose our salvation because of sin. Jesus paid for our sin long before we committed our first sin. However, let me give us a more modern translation of Numbers 32:23. Be sure your sins will RAT you out. The only way we can be saved is by faith in the revealed Word of God. Abraham believed what God said and was considered as righteous by God. Those under the Old Covenant did the same. The things they did in response to their faith, showed where they had put their faith. The New Covenant tells us we need to believe in Jesus in order to be saved. To continue doing the things required in the Old Covenant showed that their faith was in the Old Covenant and not in Jesus or the New Covenant. They were working to be saved and there is no rest in work. If we who were delivered out of the ways of the world, that is having once put our trust in the ways of the world, go back to doing the old things trying to secure our future or having our hope, pleasure, and security in the worldly things we do, it indicates we have put our faith back in the world. Jesus made it clear in Matthew 15:1-20, that our actions and words ultimately come from our heart and show our core beliefs.  So the issue becomes where is our faith, really? We may say we believe in Jesus but our actions will shout from the roof tops where our faith is! Luke 12:3

This is what makes the study of this book very important to every believer. If we gloss over this book, because it was written to a different group of people in a different time, we could well gloss over the fact that we are in danger of doing the same things they were doing. We may not have the Temple worship to trip us up but worldly worship is alive and well. Don’t let the longings of the world stumble your walk with the Lord.  Put your faith in Jesus and make Him Lord in your heart.

Do you know where your faith is?

Pastor Dave