Commentary by Walter Albritton
Faithfulness Necessary to Inherit
God’s Promise of Eternal Rest
Hebrews 3:12 – 4:13
Key Verse: We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first. – Hebrews 3:14
Christians are warned by the writer of the Hebrews of the grave danger of falling away from the faith. Like the Hebrew children whose hearts were hardened by unbelief, Christians can be separated from God by an unbelieving heart. If we expect to inherit God’s promise of salvation in heaven, we must hold firmly to the faith to the end.
The early Christians were tempted to drift back into Judaism, thus “falling away from the living God.” They did so gradually because of the deceitfulness of sin. What must we do to prevent this hardening of our hearts? Two things are recommended.
One, be tenacious in faithfulness. Be careful daily to obey God. Disobedience leads to unfaithfulness. In a sense, the writer says, “Grab yourself by the nap of the neck and make sure unbelief does not creep up on you. Take responsibility for your faith; do not allow it to waver in the least. Keep reminding yourself of the uniqueness of Jesus, our great high priest to whom God gave greater honor than to Moses.”
Two, encourage one another daily. Here is a serious responsibility for all believers. We are to encourage each other, not occasionally but daily. The clear implication is that our salvation hangs in the balance. To fail to offer daily encouragement to our brothers and sisters is to jeopardize their eternal salvation.
This reminds me that one of the major themes in the writing of Elton Trueblood was the ministry of encouragement. He insisted that every Christian is called not only to be a minister of Christ, but specifically to the ministry of encouragement. We can, and should, encourage one another as we rub shoulders in daily life.
What a wonderful difference an encouraging friend can make through even a casual encounter. A cheerful greeting, spoken with enthusiasm, can make our day. On the other hand, the negative comments of an old grouch can ruin our day. Even more depressing can be the cool indifference of one who passes us by without so much as a glance.
Consider how we may employ encouragement to bolster the faith of our brothers and sisters. We might say to one another often, “Good morning, my brother (or my sister), are we not blessed by the assurance that because we are partners with Christ in this world that one day we will share the joy of heaven with him? We must not allow unbelief to rob us of our eternal reward. Let us pray for each other to continue to obey God and remain faithful to the end of our journey.”
If making such a comment seems uncomfortable to you, think how worthless are so many of the remarks we make to one another in daily conversations. Perhaps God wants to take us out of our comfort zone and teach us how to speak more freely of eternal things. Some of our unbelieving friends might ask us about Jesus if we were to speak more often of our love for him.
Faithful Bible reading is important. When we dig into the word of God daily, we allow the Scriptures to penetrate our inner thoughts like a two-edged sword. How does this happen? Here is an example.
A friend criticized me, behind my back, for something I had done. I was sure I had done no wrong. I am angry toward him. Then I read in Matthew 6:14-15 the words of Jesus, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Instantly, I am convicted. The sharp sword of the Lord has laid my heart bare, exposing my ugly attitude. I know I must forgive my friend and make amends.
Experiences like this remind us that we can hide nothing from God; we have no secret thoughts that are hidden from him. He sees all and knows all. When this truth sinks in, we realize the need to confess all our sinful desires and ambitions and allow him to cleanse our hearts.
Daily Bible reading can help us resist the sin of unbelief. When we delight in reading the wonderful descriptions of Christ by the New Testament writers, we are less likely to suffer from hardening of the heart. The word of God can strengthen our faith and soften our hearts, causing us to celebrate daily the glorious majesty of the living Christ! + + + + (Walter may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
+ + + + (Contact Walter at email@example.com)