“Persevere” – Hebrews 10:26-39

December 30th, 2018

Hebrews 10:26-39


Aux. Texts: 2 Samuel 11:1-17

Call to Worship: Psalm 100


Service Orientation: Jesus is our only hope of salvation.  We need other believers, the reminder of judgment and condemnation, and the reality of our future hope to keep us from wandering from this truth.


Bible Memory Verse for the Week:  So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. — Hebrews 10:35


Background Information:

  • Of the five warnings given in Hebrews, the one in this passage is by far the most serious and sobering. It may be the most serious warning in all of Scripture.  It deals with apostasy.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 270)
  • (v. 26) Here is possibly the clearest and most concise scriptural definition of apostasy–receiving knowledge of the truth, that is, the gospel, but willfully remaining in sin. An apostate has seen and heard the truth–he knows it well–but he willfully rejects it.

Apostasy has two major characteristics:  knowledge of the truth of the gospel and willful rejection of it.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 272)

  • (v. 26) Willfully (hekousiōs) carries the idea of deliberate (NIV) intention that is habitual. The reference here is not to sins of ignorance or weakness, but to those that are planned out, determined, done with forethought.  The difference between sins of ignorance and sinning willfully is much like the difference between involuntary manslaughter and first-degree murder.  Hekousiōs is habitual.  It is the permanent renunciation of the gospel, the permanent forsaking of God’s grace.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 273)
  • (v. 26) The Greek language has two primary words that can be translated “knowledge.” Gnōsis has to do with ordinary knowledge, and in the NT is often used for general spiritual knowledge.  But epignōsis, the word used in verse 26, denotes full knowledge, understanding, and discernment.  In other words, the persons described here are those who have much more than a passing acquaintance with the gospel.  They know it well.  An apostate has all the information.  He lacks nothing intellectually.  He has epignōsis.  He is among those who have “once been enlightened,. . . tasted of the heavenly gift,” and even “been made partakers of the Holy Spirit” (Heb 6:4).  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 272)
  • (v. 26) The phrase knowledge of the truth relates to God’s revelation in general and the gospel in particular (see 1 Tm 2:4; 2 Tm 2:25; 3:7; Ti 1:1). They who at one time received this truth, but now have turned against God and his revelation, are without excuse.  Nothing can save them.  (William Hendriksen & Simon J. Kistemaker, NT Commentary: Hebrews, 293)
  • (v. 27) The emphasis falls on the adjective fearful. The word occurs three times in the NT, all in this epistle (10:27, 31; 12:21).  This adjective is translated “fearful,” “dreadful,” and “terrifying.”  In all three instances its use pertains to meeting God.  The sinner cannot escape God’s judgment and unless he has been forgiven in Christ, faces an angry God on that dreadful day.  (William Hendriksen & Simon J. Kistemaker, NT Commentary: Hebrews, 294)
  • (v. 29) This word expresses the highest kind of scorn, contempt, and malice among men. To “tread under foot” is to despise and insult, as is plain from the metaphor.  This contempt is directed toward both the person of Christ and his authority.  (John Owen, Crossway Classic Commentaries: Hebrews, 214)
  • (v. 29) To have trampled under foot means to have scorned, to have counted as worthless. A person who sees a coin on the sidewalk may think it is a slug and walk by it or perhaps kicks it into the gutter.  He doesn’t bother to pick it up and examine it.  Some people walk by Christ and think He is nothing.  They see Him clearly, and have gotten close enough to examine Him carefully had they chosen to.  But they count Him as worthless, and go on their way.  It is a fearful and damning thing to count as worthless the One whom the Father has declared to be of infinite worth.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 279)
  • (v. 32) The word behind contest on our text’s reference is the Greek word athlesis, from which we derive our English word athletic. The persecution was like a hard-fought athletic contest viewed by a partisan crowd.  There was nothing passive in their display.  In fact, they showed superb spiritual athleticism as they stood their ground!  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: Hebrews, vol. 2, 52)
  • (v. 33) For a Jew to confess the faith of Christ Crucified brought on him the detestation and obloquy of his compatriots, the ruination of his business, and even expulsion from the family circle. This would particularly be the case in the Jewish homeland, and it goes a long way toward explaining the extreme poverty of the Christian community in Jerusalem, which caused Paul to give such prominence to the collection of relief funds among the Gentile churches.  (Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, 427)
  • (v. 34) Prisoners depended on relatives, friends, and acquaintances for food, clothing, and other needs (see, for example, Acts 23:16; 24:23; 27:3; 2 Tm 4:13). The writer of Hebrews exhorts his readers to “remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners” (13:3).  (William Hendriksen & Simon J. Kistemaker, NT Commentary: Hebrews, 300)
  • (v. 34) Any man who not merely expressed but actually displayed sympathy for persons who had thus been socially condemned and disgraced by seeking to minister to their needs placed himself in peril of a similar fate. This willingness to identify themselves with their imprisoned brethren was in itself a notable manifestation of the spirit of Christ, who by his incarnation identified himself with our unhappy humanity so that he might minister to us in our need (Mk 10:45), and who, though now our exalted High Priest, still has perfect sympathy and fellow-feeling for his people in all their weaknesses and trials (Heb 4:15).  These Hebrew Christians had given proof that in the Body of Christ “if one member suffers, all suffer together” (1 Cor 12:26; Rom 12:5).  And as this oneness in the Body is essentially oneness in Christ (Gal 3:28), so in ministering to their afflicted brethren they were ministering to Christ, in accordance with Christ’s own saying:  “I was in prison and you came to me. . . Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Mt 25:36, 40).  (Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, 429)
  • (v. 36) It is also clear that the example of Jesus Christ included sufferings. It is one of the marks of a mature Christian that he has a view of God’s will which makes provision for adverse happenings when they come.  (Donald Guthrie, Tyndale NT Commentaries: Hebrews, 223)
  • (v. 38) The difference between Habakkuk’s prophecy and the wording of Hebrews is that in the prophecy the Babylonian is contrasted with the Israelites: the one is godless; the other, a devout believer.  In Hebrews, “my righteous one” is the same person who shrinks back.  In rearranged form the quotation addresses the recipient of the epistle.  (William Hendriksen & Simon J. Kistemaker, NT Commentary: Hebrews, 303)
  • (v. 39) The Greek word (NIV- confiscation) means violent or illegal pillaging, robbery, or an act of seizure. Most probably the authorities turned their backs on the crime, leaving these victims with every reason to feel very angry or mistreated.  (Louis H. Evans, Jr., The Communicator’s Commentary: Hebrews, 192)
  • There is nothing in the OT to compare in severity to the judgment described in the New. People often think of the OT as showing a harsh, judgmental God, while the New shows one of mercy and compassion.  But God’s mercy and His wrath are clearly revealed in both testaments.  It is true that we have a more complete and beautiful picture of God’s grace and love in the NT; but we also have here a more complete and terrifying picture of His wrath.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 278)


The question to be answered is . . . How does the author of Hebrews tell us to persevere?


Answer: We need to persevere in the knowledge that Jesus is the only way to be saved, never forget the judgment that comes to those who reject Jesus, and never forget in the dark what we knew to be true in the light.


The Word for the Day is . . . Persevere


We can draw near to God as Israel never could; God hath indeed made His grace to abound more exceedingly.  But let no one think that greater grace means less stringency with sin, or less fierceness of the fire of judgment.  Nay, the very opposite.  Greater privilege brings greater responsibility, and, in case of failure, greater judgment.  As elsewhere (2:2; 12:25) we are reminded that the NT exceeds the Old not only in its blessing but also in its curse.  As he had asked “How much more will the blood of Christ cleanse?” so here he asks, “How much more sore will the punishment be?”  Oh that men would believe it; the NT, with its revelation of God as love, brings on its rejecters a far more fearful judgment than the Old.  (Andrew Murray, The Holiest of All, 405)


How does the author of Hebrews tell us to persevere?:

I-  Remember faith in Jesus is the only way to be saved. (Heb; see also: Jn 14:6; Acts 4:12; 1 Tm 2:5-6)


Clearly, then, to reject this sacrifice is to be left with no sacrifice at all.  (Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, 419)


The Living God has cosmic-sized, power-laden hands and is dreadful indeed.  He will not be tamed by our postmodern repulsion for Truth, nor by our aversion to the concept of judgment.  We must adjust ourselves to him or face the consequences.  The great foolishness of walking away from his gospel, judging Christ as insufficient, lies in this:  He has no greater means for dealing with sin.  This sacrifice, this work on the cross, is the best work for dealing with our sins, and all other means are by nature inferior.  (George H. Guthrie, The NIV Application Commentary: Hebrews, 367)


The first result of apostasy is that the apostate no longer has a sacrifice that can atone for his sins.  He is, therefore, beyond salvation.  The only sacrifice that can bring a person into God’s presence is the sacrifice of Christ’s blood in the New Covenant.  If Christ’s sacrifice is rejected, then all hope of salvation is forfeited.  Opportunity is gone, hope is gone, eternal life is gone.  Apart from Christ, everything worth having is gone.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 276)


Jesus hath now many lovers of his heavenly kingdom, but few bearers of his cross.  He hath many desirous of comfort, but few of tribulation.  He findeth many companions of his table, but few of his abstinence.  All desire to rejoice with him, but few will suffer anything for him.  Many follow Jesus unto the breaking of bread, but few to the drinking of the cup of his passion.  Many reverence his miracles, but few follow the ignominy of his cross.  Many love Jesus as long as adversities do not happen.  Many praise and bless him as long as they receive any comforts from him.  But if Jesus hide himself and leave them but a while, they fall either into complaining or into too much dejection of mind.  But they that love Jesus for Jesus, and not for some comfort of their own, bless him in all tribulation and anguish of heart as well as in the highest comfort.  And although he should never choose to give them comfort, they notwithstanding would ever praise him and always wish to give him thanks.  O how powerful is the pure love of Jesus which is mixed with no self-love or self-interest!  (Thomas à Kempis, The Imitation of Cirst II.xi.)


The man whom God calls my righteous one, that is, the man accounted righteous by God, is, by contrast, the man who lives by faith, that is, who has abandoned every pretension to self-sufficiency and whose whole life is one of trust in God (cf. Gal 2:19f.).  To “shrink back” is to renounce the life of faith, and in the man who does this God has no pleasure, for, as our author will shortly explain (11:6), “without faith it is impossible to please God.”  (Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, 436)


II-  Remember that those who deliberately, defiantly, continually, and willfully reject Jesus commit the unpardonable sin and invite God’s personal judgment. (Heb 10:26-31; see also: Dt 30:15-20; Jer 17:9; Mt 12:32; Mk 3:29; Lk 12:7-12; Jn 3:19; Rom 3:9-21; Heb 3:12; 6:4)


The sin being implied here is not that of turning aside from or rejecting, but abusively and blatantly crushing with disdain none other than the Son of God.  This does not appear to be a weakness of personality but a spirit of willful rejection.  (Louis H. Evans, Jr., The Communicator’s Commentary: Hebrews, 189-90)


Our text is talking about deliberate, intentional sin.  In fact, the word “deliberately” stands first in the Greek for emphasis.  Moreover, this deliberate sin is continual.  The person persists in open rebellion against God and his Word.  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: Hebrews, vol. 2, 40)


But why would a person who knows the gospel, has seen the light, has even experienced many of the blessings of the Holy Spirit, ever reject so wonderful a gift?  What causes people to do that?  In a sense, there is always just one cause, willful unbelief.  Following our own wills often have no reason except that this is what we want to do.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 274)


As the pastor warns the wayward, so he encourages the faint-hearted.  A believer may lack the assurance of salvation, fearing that he has committed the sin against the Holy Spirit.  But the unpardonable sin cannot be attributed to a person who doubts his or her salvation.  Only the person who demonstrates an open and deliberate hatred toward God, divine revelation, and Christ’s accomplished work of salvation has committed that sin.  The doubter, then, needs words of encouragement.  He should be invited to repeat the reassuring words of Paul, “Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day” (2 Tm 1:12).  (William Hendriksen & Simon J. Kistemaker, NT Commentary: Hebrews, 297)


At the heart of Christianity there remains for ever a threat.  To remove that threat is to emasculate the faith.  At the end of the day it is not all one for the good and the bad man alike.  No man can evade the fact that in the end judgment comes.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series, Hebrews, 125-6)


Such is the person described in Prv 2:13f., who “forsakes the paths of uprightness to walk in the ways of darkness” and “rejoices in doing evil and delights in the perverseness of evil.”  There is an abandonment of the Christian profession and of the way of holiness inseparable from that profession.  Such a sinner turns away, of covenant with whose sign he has been sealed.  He sins against the light (Heb 6:4), showing that he loves darkness rather than light (Jn 3:19).  He repudiates salvation and chooses judgment (cf. Dt 30:15-20).  (Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, 419)


This God whom they have confessed as the God of grace and mercy is also the God of holiness and justice:  faithfulness to his covenant leads to blessing, but rebellion means retribution.  (Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, 425)


Apostasy is not new, nor is God’s attitude toward it.  It is the most serious of all sins, because it is the most deliberate and willful form of unbelief.  It is not a sin of ignorance, but of rejecting known truth.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 270-1)


“Why should that sin be unforgivable?  What differentiates it so terribly from all other sins?   The answer is simple.  When anyone reaches that stage, repentance is impossible.  If people cannot recognize the good when they see it, they cannot desire it.  If they do not recognize the evil as evil, they cannot be sorry for it and wish to depart from it.  And if they cannot, in spite of failures, love the good and hate the evil, then they cannot repent; and if they cannot repent, they cannot be forgiven, for repentance is the only condition of forgiveness.  It would save much heartbreak if people would realize that the very people who cannot have committed the sin against the Holy Spirit are those who fear that they have, for the sin against the Holy Spirit can be truly described as the loss of all sense of sin.”   (Charles Barclay; Commentary on Matthew: Vol 2, 52)


The author regards it as a dreadful thing to take lightly the shedding of the blood of one who is so high and holy and whose blood moreover is the means of establishing the new covenant that alone can bring men near to God.  The apostate regards that blood as “a common thing” (koinon).  That is to say he treats the death of Jesus as just like the death of any other man.  (Frank E. Gæbelein, Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 12, 107)


The author of Hebrews is rather specific.  He writes concerning a person who sins intentionally and who keeps on doing this in open rebellion against God and his Word.  To reach his readers in a pastoral manner, he even includes himself in the warning not to sin defiantly.  He is not talking about a believer who falls into sin unintentionally and finds forgiveness in God’s grace and mercy.  Rather, he points to the same sin that Jesus calls the sin against the Holy Spirit (Mt 12:32; Mk 3:29) and that John describes as “a sin that leads to death” (1 Jn 5:16).  Although he employs different terms, the writer virtually repeats the same thought he expressed in 3:12 and 6:4-6, where he speaks of falling away from the living God.  (William Hendriksen & Simon J. Kistemaker, NT Commentary: Hebrews, 293)


It is a truth of life that in many ways it is easier to stand adversity than to stand prosperity.  Ease has ruined far more men than trouble ever did.  The classic example is what happened to the armies of Hannibal.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series, Hebrews, 126)


If God required physical death for breaking the old covenant, the new covenant’s punishment would be much greater (10:29).  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Hebrews, 165)


I can put no greater affront on my king, or my father, than by shutting my door in his face.  If they come to me with a message or a gift of love in my wretchedness, to turn them away is to do them despite.  The Spirit comes as the Spirit of grace, to convince of sin and stir to prayer and lead to Jesus.  To close the door, to refuse surrender, to open the heart to the spirit of the world instead of Him, is to do despite to the Spirit of grace!  (Andrew Murray, The Holiest of All, 407)


Everything lies in the bowels of this sin–the rejecting of Christ.  There is murder in this; for if the man on the scaffold rejects a pardon, does he not murder himself?  There is pride in this; for you reject Christ, because your proud hearts have turned you aside.  There is rebellion in this; for we rebel against God when we reject Christ.  There is high treason in this; for you reject a king.  You put far from you Him who is crowned king of the earth, and you incur therefore the weightiest of all guilt.  Oh, to think that the Lord Jesus should come from heaven–to think for a moment that He should hang upon the tree–that there He should die in extreme agonies, and that from that cross He should this day look down upon you, and should say, “Come to me, all of you who labor and are burdened” (Mt 11:28), that you should still turn away from him–it is the unkindest stab of all.  What more brutish, what more devilish, than to turn away from Him who gave His life for you?  (Charles Spurgeon, Spurgeon Commentary: Hebrews, 301)


The writer invites the readers to work out for themselves how much more serious is the punishment of the man who apostatizes from Christ.  It must be more severe than under the old way because Jesus is greater than Moses (3:1ff.); the new covenant is better than the old, founded on better promises (8:6) and established by a better sacrifice (9:23).  (Frank E. Gæbelein, Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 12, 107)


Judas Iscariot is, of course, the classic apostate.  No other rejecter of Christ ever had the exposure to God’s truth, love, and grace as did Judas.  He knew the Lord intimately.  He was one of the twelve of Jesus’ inner circle of disciples.  Had he believed, he would have become an apostle.  But he rejected the truth and became an apostate.  His story is the supreme contradiction to the common excuse, “I would probably believe in Christ if I just had a little more evidence, a little more light.”  Judas had the perfect evidence, the perfect light, the perfect example.  For some three years he lived with Truth incarnate and Life incarnate, yet turned his back on the One who is truth and life.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 271)


When persecution is severe, the apostate not only will leave the church but will often join the persecutors.  “Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations on account of My name.  And at that time many will fall away and will deliver up one another and hate one another” (Mt 24:9-10).  Some apostates not only turn away from the church but turn against it.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 274)


God is a God of love.  But he is implacably opposed to all that is evil.  Those who persist in wrong face judgment.  (Frank E. Gæbelein, Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 12, 106)


Have you ever considered how much you insult God the Father by rejecting Christ?  If you were invited to a feast and you should come to the table and dash down every dish, and throw them on the ground, and trample on them, would not this be an insult?  If you were a poor beggar at the door, and a rich man had bidden you into his feast out of pure charity, what would you deserve if you had treated his provisions in this way?  (Charles Spurgeon, Spurgeon Commentary: Hebrews, 300)


I like the remark of the people who were requested to accept a Universalist as a minister.  They said, “You have come to tell us that there is no hell.  If your doctrine is true, we certainly do not need you; and if it is not true, we do not want you.  Either way, we can do without you.”

It is a most dreadful fact that there is no provision made for the future restoration of the lost; not a word said about it, except that for them remains the blackness of darkness forever.  (Charles Spurgeon, Spurgeon Commentary: Hebrews, 303)


To trample something under foot is what we do when we get rid of a bothersome insect.  Thus the sinner figuratively takes the exalted Son of God and grinds him into the dirt.  (William Hendriksen & Simon J. Kistemaker, NT Commentary: Hebrews, 295)


III-  PERSEVERE: You will be richly rewarded if you remember in the dark what you knew to be true in the light.  (Heb 10:32-39; see also: Mt 16:24-27; 25:34-40; Lk 6:22-23, 35; Heb 11:26)


Don’t lose in the dark what you knew to be true in the light.  Hang in there.  Keep on truck ‘in.   Never forget who you are and Whose you are and what God has in store for those who never give up.  — Pastor Keith


We understand that the grand key for perseverance is faith.  Knowing this, we are set up for the greatest exposition of the subject of faith found anywhere in Scripture–in chapter 11.  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: Hebrews, vol. 2, 56)


Thinking of the great reward his readers had earned in the early days of their salvation, the writer says, “This is no time to throw away your confidence.”  To his mind it would be stupid for them to abandon what they had already won by standing up for Jesus in those days.  Now that reward, which is called the “prophets’ reward,” is worth keeping.  (C. S. Lovett, Lovett’s Lights on Hebrews, 241)


Discouraged by the perils and hardships of the wilderness, the forefathers of those to whom our letter was sent were moved with a spirit of apostasy when they asked, “Would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt?” (Nm 14:3).  These Hebrew Christians of the first century were in danger of following this evil example (cf. 3:12) by “forsaking the God who made them” and “scoffing at the Rock of their salvation” (Dt 32:15).  To do this would be evidence that they had indeed “thrown away their confidence” and returned to the deceptive and impermanent material things of the present world which previously they had professed to “throw away.”  (Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, 432)


The recipients of the Epistle to the Hebrews had experienced first hand suffering for their faith in Jesus.  And they had not forgotten this “great contest,” even though the present was calm and peaceful.  They recalled the intensity and the duration of this difficult period in their lives.  Their faith was tested, and they emerged victoriously in spite of and because of the suffering they endured.  Not only had they personally endured hardship, but also they had reached out in love to others who experienced similar treatment.  (William Hendriksen & Simon J. Kistemaker, NT Commentary: Hebrews, 299)


While the farmer is occupied with plowing, harrowing, tilling, drilling, hoeing, and the like, he is too busy to be fretful.  It is when the work is done, and there is nothing more to occupy his hands, that the very leisure he has to endure gives occasion to secret qualms and lurking cares.  (Charles Spurgeon, Spurgeon Commentary: Hebrews, 307)


Apparently time has elapsed, and the believers are living in a period of peace and safety.  Their boldness in confessing their faith in Christ has fallen into disuse.  And because they have not exercised their gift of confidence, they are ready to discard it.  (William Hendriksen & Simon J. Kistemaker, NT Commentary: Hebrews, 301)


When Jesus asks us to love our enemies, to do good to those who hate us, to bless those who curse us, and to pray for those who mistreat us (Lk 6:27-28), we readily consent.  And when he continues and asks us to turn the other cheek when someone strikes us (Lk 6:29), we nod our heads and are willing to endure physical abuse.  But when Jesus says, “Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back” (Lk 6:30), we object.  Our belongings are valuable to us, and we certainly make our unhappiness known when someone takes them from us.  Jesus, however, wants us to cling not to earthly but to heavenly possessions.  Treasures laid up in heaven are lasting:  those on earth are fleeting.

The recipients of Hebrews understood and applied the words of Jesus.  When their possessions were taken away and when their property was confiscated, they realized they “had better and lasting possessions” in heaven.  (William Hendriksen & Simon J. Kistemaker, NT Commentary: Hebrews, 304)


It is indeed thus necessary that our thoughts should be drawn away from the world, by looking at the heavenly recompense; nor do I say any other thing but what all the godly find to be the case by experience.  And no doubt we joyfully embrace what we are persuaded will end in our salvation; and this persuasion the children of God doubtless have respecting the conflicts which they undertake for the glory of Christ.  (John Calvin, Commentaries: Hebrews, 254)


Worship Point:  Worship the God of the Universe Who is so gracious, kind, forgiving, merciful and loving that He does not give up on us unless or until we have completely given up on Him.  (Heb 10:26-29)


God is long-suffering, and patient, and loving, and infinitely gracious, not willing that anyone should perish (2 Pt 3:9).  But for the one who turns his back on God’s grace, there is nothing left that God can offer or do for him.  Only judgment remains.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 280)


Perhaps the saddest cause of apostasy is neglect.  A person can put off deciding for Christ so long that he loses the opportunity.  Not to decide for Christ is to decide against Him.  Such a person may never persecute believers.  He may not publicly, or even consciously, deny Christ.  But by continually resisting the gospel of Christ, he takes his stand apart from Him and is in danger of neglecting his way into apostasy.  “How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?” (Heb 2:3).  To make no positive decision for Christ is to decide against Him.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 275)


Gospel Application: Jesus (the greatest person); gave His life (the greatest value); to save us (our greatest interest); so we could have eternal life with God in heaven (the greatest future, hope and gift).   God does not take kindly to one’s “trampling under one’s feet” His greatest gift to us.  


Spiritual Challenge: Do all you can, whenever you can, as much as you can to insure that your heart and mind is fixed on the grace, love, mercy, forgiveness and salvation of Jesus.  Count it as the most urgent of warnings whenever you see your heart and mind drifting from Jesus.  (Mt 5:29-30; 18:8; Mk 9:43-45; Lk 8:13)


The only sure way of being kept from willful sin is to keep far from all sin.  (Andrew Murray, The Holiest of All, 403)


We are only in the place of safety while we maintain the attitude of complete dependency upon the Lord and of unreserved subjection to Him.  To indulge the flesh is dangerous; to persist in the course of self-gratification is highly dangerous; and to remain therein unto the end, would be fatal.  (Arthur W. Pink, An Exposition of Hebrews, 612)


Another cause of apostasy is forsaking Christian fellowship, which the writer has already mentioned (10:25).  The best place for strong influence toward Christ is to be in the company of believers.  And, especially once he has been exposed to the truth of the gospel, the worst place he can be is away from true believers.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 276)


Apostasy is sometimes triggered by temptation.  The things of this world become more attractive and more influential than the things of God.  These apostates are “rocky soil” hearers (Lk 8:13), who are attracted to the gospel for a while, but who are tempted away from full commitment.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 275)


False religion can become so habitual, so much a part of our way of thinking and living, that to give it up seems unthinkable.  It would be like cutting off part of our body, our very life.  Jesus knew how hard such a break with the old ways can be, but warned, “If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out, and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell” (Mt 5:29).  Religious tradition has long been one of the greatest barriers to the gospel and one of the foremost contributors to apostasy.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 276)


In 10:26-31, the writer of Hebrews afflicted the comfortable with strong warnings; now he comforts the afflicted with great promises.  The need of the former group of potential drifters was repentance.  The need of the latter group is endurance.  And because they have already demonstrated their ability to endure through hardship, nothing should stand in their way of moving forward in confident commitment to their faith and obedience to Christ.  (Charles R. Swindoll, Swindoll’s Living Insights: Hebrews, 162)


The one cause of backsliding is the want of faith in the unseen, a yielding of the heart to the visible, and, in the battle against it, a trusting in our own strength and not in Christ.  We see here again that there is no other alternative–either believing or drawing back.  In the Christian life nothing will avail to keep us from backsliding but the fullness of faith–always and in everything to live the life of faith.  It is only when faith gives itself up entirely to Christ for Him to do all in us, to keep us standing too, and when faith so dominates our life that every moment and every engagement shall all be under its influence, that we can hope to be safe from drawing back.  If I am to be sure of salvation, if I am to be strong against every temptation, if I am to live daily as one in whom God’s soul has pleasure, I must see to one thing–to be a man of faith.  (Andrew Murray, The Holiest of All, 419)


Instead of mourning their loss, they had rejoiced because it had happened to them for Christ’s sake; and in doing so they had testified that their true treasure was not what this world counts dear but was in heaven, eternally safe with Christ (Mt 6:19-21; 1 Pt 1:4; 1 Jn 2:15-17; Col 2:3).  This joyful acceptance of adversity which overcomes the world is obviously something very different from stoic imperturbability.  It demonstrates that they were no empty words with which Christ exhorted his followers, when he said:  “Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven” (Mt 5:11f.; Lk 6:22f.).  It witnesses to the world that “a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” and that it is fatally possible to be rich in worldly goods but “not rich toward God” (Lk 12:16, 21, 33f.).  The same triumphant faith enabled the apostles to rejoice that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name of their Lord (Acts 5:41) and caused Paul to encourage the Christians in Rome to rejoice in their sufferings (Rom 5:3, as Paul himself was accustomed to do, cf. Acts 16:24f.; also 1 Pt 4:13) and James to urge his readers to “count if all joy” (NEB, to “count themselves supremely happy”) when they were called upon to pass through all sorts of trials (Jam 1:2).  Indeed, Paul’s memorable description of himself, “as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing, as poor, yet making many rich, as having nothing, and yet possessing everything,” should be true of every servant of Jesus Christ.  (Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, 429-30)


In the sixteenth century, John Hooper, despoiled of his worldly possessions and facing a cruel death, writes from his prison that “loss of goods is great, but loss of God’s grace and favor is greater,” and, further, that “there is neither felicity nor adversity of this world that can appear to be great, if it be weighed with the joys or pains in the world to come.”  (John Hooper, Later Writings, 619)  (Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, 431)


False teachers also cause their share of apostasy.  In the same passage in Matthew, Jesus says, “And many false prophets will arise, and will mislead many” (Mt 24:11).  Persecution frightens unbelievers away from the truth, whereas false teachers entice them away.  False teaching can, and does, do a lot of damage even to God’s own people.  It can confuse and discourage and corrupt any believer or group of believers too immature to recognize and deal with the falsehoods or too sinful to resist them.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 274-5)


So What?:  So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.  You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.  (Mt 6:19-21; Col 2:3; Heb 10:35-36; 1 Pt 1:4; 1 Jn 2:15-17)


The eternal inheritance laid up for them was so real in their eyes that they could lightheartedly bid farewell to material possessions, which were short-lived in any case.  This attitude of mind is precisely that “faith” of which our author goes on to speak.  (F. F. Bruce, The New International Commentary on the NT: Hebrews, 271)


If we see to the doing of God’s will, He will see to our inheriting the promise.  The sure mark of true faith, the blessed exercise of life within the veil, the proof of the power of Christ, the obedient one within us, the blessedness of fellowship with God will all come with this–doing His will.  To do the will of God is the only way to God and His presence.  Therefore, day by day, hour by hour, let this be our motto:  Patience, that having done the will, ye may inherit the promise.  (Andrew Murray, The Holiest of All, 416)


The Christian stands between two worlds; each offers him its goods as possessions.  In unceasing conflict the two compete for mastery.  The one has the advantage of being infinitely more worthy than the other–giving infinite satisfaction, and lasting for ever.  The other is in no wise to be compared with it–it cannot satisfy, and it does not last.  But, in the conflict, it has two immense, two terrible advantages.  The one is, it is nearer; it is visible; it has access to us by every sense; its influence on us is natural and easy and unceasing.  The other, that our heart is prepossessed; the spirit of the world is in it.  And so it comes that the possessions of this world with the most actually win the day, even against the better and abiding possession.  (Andrew Murray, The Holiest of All, 410-1)


It’s called strengthening the character of a helping society.  When people observe perseverance, endurance, and courage, their moral fiber is reinforced.  Conversely, your choice to bow out of life can and does weaken the moral resolve of that same society.    (Joni Eareckson Tada, When Is It Right To Die?, 71)



So firmly had their interest been fixed on heavenly possessions that they could take the loss of earthly good with exhilaration.  (Frank E. Gæbelein, Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 12, 110)

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”

— Doctor Luke in Acts 4:12 NIV



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