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Kingdom Warnings in Hebrews

07 Feb

Falling_Fence_(John_Gollings_with_Samantha_Slicer_2001)

I think in some ways, Hebrews is the most unusual and “mysterious” book in the New Testament (along with Revelation), and it is one of my favorites. As I was reading it recently, three explicit warnings given in the first few chapters stood out to me, and as I thought about and looked into them further, I found some really cool stuff.  I was also reminded that while it might be more pleasant to focus only on the promises and the positives, if we believe those, we should equally believe the warnings that came from the same source.   (All scripture quotations from the WEB ® translation).

(Hebrews 2:1): “Therefore we ought to pay greater attention to the things that were heard, lest perhaps we drift away.”

(Hebrews 3:12-13): “Beware, brothers, lest perhaps there be in any one of you an evil heart of unbelief, in falling away from the living God; but exhort one another day by day, so long as it is called “today;” lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”

(Hebrews 4:1-2): “Let us fear therefore, lest perhaps anyone of you should seem to have come short of a promise of entering into his rest. For indeed we have had good news preached to us, even as they also did, but the word they heard didn’t profit them, because it wasn’t mixed with faith by those who heard.”

Condensing and summarizing these warnings helps clarify them:

  • (2:1) Our Call: Pay closer attention to God’s word; first and foremost as given through Christ himself, but also as given through His apostles and prophets.  What is Being Avoided: Drifting away from God’s heart and Kingdom, into religious deception or spiritual apathy.

  •  (3:12-13) Our call: Be aware that an evil heart of unbelief (spiritual blindness) can take root, exhort each-other.  What is being avoided: An evil heart of unbelief (a spiritually blind, deceived heart), falling away from the living God (walking in old religion instead of fresh revelation), being hardened by the deceitfulness of sin (having a heart and mind which is callous and impenetrable to the truth, being covered by layers of convincing deception).

  • (4:1-2) Our call: To fear, to ensure faith (gift of true spiritual perception) is “mixed” with what we hear from God.  What is being avoided: Coming short of and failing to enter God’s promised rest.

I don’t have a lot more to say on this…it’s sobering. I think the church of Christ, by and large and almost from the outset, has failed to heed these warnings, and has suffered the consequences listed above, resulting in irrelevance, disconnect from God, and hindering the coming of the Kingdom of God on earth. It would go a long way if believers would get over themselves and their selfish focus on “sin,” heaven, and hell, which are not what the gospel is really about.  Instead, let’s seek to have a Kingdom mentality like Jesus did (his first words in scripture are “repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand”), the apostles did (Paul preached the kingdom until the end)1, and the Father does. 

Isn’t it interesting that neither the admonitions or warnings in these verses have to do with behaviors or actions?  This is because behavior isn’t the issue.  Jesus’ life and death was for the sake of the Kingdom of God, for the will and heart of God. Nothing more or less. With that goal in mind, our path and calling are clarified. As Jesus said, we are to seek first the Kingdom of God (His will done on earth as it is in heaven) and His righteousness (the things He desires in the current season and moment).  Our good or bad behavior factors in to the equation as a very minor point, if at all.

Sin/bad behavior is an issue which has already been dealt with, and what God sees as sin in the new covenant is different from what natural man, who remains under the law, sees as sin. If we truly love God and desire to do His will, what we must be sure to avoid are things that will hinder the Kingdom. These are the things that Hebrews warns of and are spiritual, inward states like an “evil heart” that is impenetrable to new truth, religious deception and dogma, doctrine without revelation, false faith, flippancy towards God’s message through His prophets and apostles, self-confidence, etc. Bad behavior won’t hinder the Kingdom nearly like these things will (if at all).

I hope this served as an exhortation for you and I am thankful for others who exhort or otherwise fulfill their role in the body of Christ faithfully. Let’s think on these things brothers and sisters, they are extremely important if we care about God’s Kingdom. Amen.

1. Acts 28:31

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Posted by on February 7, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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