Christianity 201

September 28, 2020

A Warning About Wandering

Don’t let your heart be hardened!

Today we’re introducing another new writer to you. Morning Glory Journal is written by Hannah and it’s the opposite of our devotional page here — which posts in the afternoon — as each of her articles’ titles begins with “Morning Pep Talk.” Send her some link love by reading this at her page instead of this one; just click the title which follows.

Morning Pep Talk: Beware

When just starting out in your relationship with Jesus you feel a couple different things: excitement and doubt, maybe fear. Excitement in that your stepping out of the norm in seeking the God of the universe! Doubt and maybe fear in that you still might not be sure if He really can hear you or if He even cares all that much. But then, once you get going in a habit of talking to Him everyday, if you’re like me, you might start a bit of a roller coaster ride going from spiritual highs down to lacking a desire to look for Him. I’ve probably talked about this before but I’m experiencing it once again and I know I shouldn’t and I really don’t want to so I have to do something to combat this feeling.

“Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: ‘Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, in the day of trial in the wilderness, where your fathers tested Me, tried Me, and saw My works forty years. Therefore I was angry with that generation, and said, “They always go astray in their heart, and they have not know My ways.” So I swore in My wrath, “They shall not enter My rest.” ‘ ” Hebrews 3:7-11; NKJV

Reading those verses again, I feel a fear creeping into my chest. Whatever happened to that fear of slipping away from Jesus? That fear of leaving the path He set me on? Somewhere along the way the fear ebbed away and was slowly replaced with a sort of complacency. I was leaving Jesus! I don’t want to harden my heart against God! I don’t want to be one whose heart goes astray! I want to know the ways of God!

“Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called ‘Today,’ lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, while it is said: ‘Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.’ Hebrews 3:12-15; NKJV

Isn’t that something? While it’s today talk to fellow believers, encourage each other, continue to seek out the Lord. Not, “Oh! I was going to do that yesterday!” or, “Oh, I can do that tomorrow.” None of that!

Just now reading the next few verses I have to include them:

“For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses? Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness? And to whom did He swear that would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.” Hebrews 3:16-19; NKJV

Do I need to add my thoughts on this? That’s pretty straightforward! It all boils down to their unbelief! When we stray and lose interest per se, in our God, that’s because we don’t fully believe. Oh God, please! don’t let my foolish heart stray! It’s as the Interpreter in the second part of The Pilgrim’s Progress said, ” ‘Tis easier watching a night or two, than to sit up a whole year together: So ’tis easier for one to begin to profess well, than to hold out as he should to the end.” (p. 251.5)

Yes, it’s easier to leave our God, but we must hold out till the end! Satan wants us complacent, but don’t give in. Beg Jesus for help and He will gladly and readily help you. He helped me this morning so let this serve as proof that He can and will help you too. Just believe!



 

March 30, 2019

Spiritually, Don’t Wander Off

Tomorrow is the last day of year nine here at Christianity 201. Monday begins our tenth year. This is also our ninth time featuring the writing of Ben Nelson at Another Red Letter Day. He’s currently working through the book of Hebrews. This article is part one of two, there’s a link to the second one at the end. Or…simply click the title below to arrive at the site.

Drifters

Hebrews teems with promises and encouragements, wonderful reminders and strong theology. But it also holds a number of stern warnings. With the promises, it delivers consequences that need to be reckoned with. When taken as a whole, the book disrupts any leanings we have toward universalism and even shines the spotlight on eternal security for our scrutiny.

Aside: Don’t hang up on me. I’m not saying I don’t believe in eternal security, but our study will uncover some weakness in our pray-a-prayer-and-forget-it gospel.

Warning #1

For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. Hebrews 2:1

First – notice the “for.” Again, this militates against chapter breaks, since clearly what follows belongs with chapter one.

But what part of chapter one are we “for”-ing back to? …pay attention to what we have heard. What have we heard? Let’s read a couple more verses and see if we get some more clues.

For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.Hebrews 2:2-4

The writer is taking us back to the first four verses of chapter one, in particular, verse two.

in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.Hebrews 1:2

Jesus, who is superior in every way to the angels and prophets spoke to us through His words and His life. He continues to speak to us through the testimony of those who walked with Him. Further, this testimony is confirmed to us by signs, wonders, miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit.

These four verses actually hold two warnings.

1) Don’t drift.

I love that he uses such a visual word, drift. He’s not warning against a turn-and-run rejection of the gospel. He’s not warning about scoffers and skeptics. He’s warning about the kind of Christian that warms the pew every week but does not walk by faith.

He’s talking about dusty-Bible Christians.
He’s talking about when-it’s-convienient Christians.
He’s talking about Sunday-morning-only Christians.

They are drifters. They have not left the church or the basic belief system. But their life is not marked by faith. They live life with minds set on the things of the flesh. Every problem gets the natural solution, and prayer is the furthest thing from their mind until it’s the only thing left.

Paul talks about this in Romans 8.

For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.Romans 8:5-8

Don’t skip over that. Here Paul speaks some of the most sobering words in all of the Bible.

This carnal mind, mind set on the flesh, is not indifferent toward the things of God. This drifter is actively hostile toward God himself.

Paul makes it clear in Romans 8 that this one who fills his or her mind with the natural world and its thoughts and priorities CANNOT please God.

Later in Hebrews, we will learn that only the life lived by faith and not by sight can please God.

Have you been drifting? Have you been walking by sight and relying on natural solutions for your day to day needs?

Get out of those waves that wash to and fro. Step out of that sandy-bottomed trap and get on the Rock today.

You can please God. You can hear those wonderful words – “Well done.” But it’s not going to happen by itself. You’re going to have to put your faith in Jesus.

Walk in the light.


  • Looking to catch up? You can find all of Ben’s posts on Hebrews chapter 1 here.
  • The second part of this article — Warning # 2 — is called Neglectors.

August 25, 2015

Christ on the Cross

golgothaThis is, I believe our 6th time visiting the blog Strengthened By Grace. The first was in 2010. I really appreciate the faithfulness it takes to keep writing for such a sustained period. As usual, reading this at source sends “link love” to the various writers who appear here. Click the title below.

Take your time to read each verse, and note that unlike similar outlines you have seen, all the verse references are from a single book, in this case, Hebrews.

Why did Jesus die

At our Good Friday service, one of our pastors shared these reason, from the book of Hebrews, for Jesus’ death! May it help you focus on the purpose of Christ’s suffering and what it accomplished on our behalf!

To be crowned with glory and honor after tasting death for us!

But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.” (Hebrews 2:9)

To be perfected through suffering

For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.” (Hebrews 2:10)

To free us from bondage to the fear of death

Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.” (Hebrews 2:14–15)

To be a sympathetic and helpful high priest

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:15–16)

To know experientially what obedience was like

Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.” (Hebrews 5:8)

To give us a clear conscience

how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” (Hebrews 9:14)

To be an eternal high priest

For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” (Hebrews 9:24–26)

To rescue us from judgment

so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.” (Hebrews 9:28)

To offer a once-for-all sacrifice

And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God,” (Hebrews 10:11–12)

To make us holy, blameless and perfect

For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” (Hebrews 10:14)

To give us access to the holies place

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus,” (Hebrews 10:19)

To gain our joy and His

looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)

To call us to follow His example of costly love

Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.” (Hebrews 12:3–4)

To free us from the slavery of sin

So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood.” (Hebrews 13:12)

To set the stage for His own resurrection from the dead

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” (Hebrews 13:20–21)

May 27, 2011

River Crossings

I was looking at Milt Rodriguez’ blog today and knew his writing would be a perfect fit here, but it was hard to choose a single post. Milt is the author of four books, and is active in the house church, or simple church, or what he calls organic church movement.  (See Thinking out Loud’s post yesterday on this topic.)  This first appeared at his blog, Christ and His Church under the title, River Crossers.

What is a True Hebrew?

The letter to the Hebrews was written to Jewish Christians scattered throughout the Roman empire.  We are not sure who wrote the letter but we do know that God authored it!  It is kind of strange that the letter was written to Hebrews instead of Israelites.  But as we discover what a true “Hebrew” is, it makes perfect sense.  The word hebrew literally means one who crosses or passes over something.

Abraham

Abraham is the first person referred to as a “hebrew” in the bible.

Then one who had escaped came and told Abram the Hebrew, who was living by the oaks of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol and of Aner. These were allies of Abram.”    Gen. 14:13

We can see from Abraham’s life that he was one who crossed over.  What did he cross over?  He crossed over the Euphrates river to enter the Canaan land (Gen 15:18).  He left his homeland, Ur of the Chaldeans (ancient Babylonia) to enter into the land God would give his descendants.    Why did God have Abraham enter this Canaan land full of evil tribes and peoples?  It’s because this is the place where He would build His temple, the dwelling place of God on the earth.

Abraham did what God wanted but he was only one man at that time.  God wanted a nation.  He wanted a corporate Man.

The Children of Israel

The nation of Israel crossed two rivers.  First they crossed the Red Sea leaving Egypt.  Then, a generation latter, they crossed the Jordan river to enter the Canaan land.  Here again, God’s goal was to have his people in the Canaan land.  Why? Because He wanted to build His house, His temple in that land.  He wanted a City (Jerusalem) in the land of Canaan in which He would build His very own house that He would dwell in.

Now, even though these things really did happen, they were only shadows and types of the reality that would be fulfilled in the New Testament.  The Reality that is Jesus Christ Himself!

Jesus Christ

Jesus Christ is the ultimate river crosser!  He is the true Hebrew.  He crossed over four rivers.

The River of Human Flesh

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”    John 1:14

Jesus crossed over by becoming a man.  He emptied Himself of His godhood and took on the form of a lowly man, a servant (Phil. 2:5-11).  The Greatest became the least.  The Highest became the lowest.  He left all of his “stuff” on the other side so that he could accomplish God’s eternal purpose.

The River of Baptism

Then your Lord crossed over the river Jordan and left behind his divinity so that he could totally be the Son of Man and live a life as a man who had the Father living inside of him.  He learned by the things he suffered and learned how to live by the life of his Father who was indwelling him (Jn. 6:57).

He immediately went into the wilderness after his baptism.  Like Israel of old, he passed over the Red Sea into the wilderness to trust God alone for his provision, direction, and life.

The River of Death

Then, he crossed over another river, the river of death on a cross.  This, as all other rivers, was for the purpose of obtaining God’s purpose.  God wanted a house.  He wanted a dwelling place.  And that dwelling place would be in a particular land which would be in a particular city.  He would tear down all of the shadows so that he could obtain the reality.  He tore down the external, temporary, and visible temple so that the REAL temple would be built out of his own BODY!

God wanted his corporate expression so the Son became a Seed that went into the ground and died so the God would get his corporate expression – the multiplication or increase of his Son into a many-membered Body.  He crossed the river and went behind the veil so God would have his full corporate expression.

The River of Our Flesh

Then, after he was resurrected, ascended, and glorified he crossed another river and entered into the veil of our flesh.  This glorious One came and entered inside of You!  (Col. 1:27).

To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”   Col. 1:27

Now the glory of his expression lives inside of each believer.  But how will he get his corporate expression?

By each one of us being willing to cross over rivers, leaving the religious baggage behind, and entering into the Canaan land (who is Christ), learning to enjoy the riches of that land (which are Christ),  so he can build his house there (which is Christ!).

May we all become such river crossers!

~Milt Rodriguez

To learn more about organic church, explore Milt’s blog starting with this article.