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24 September, 2013

Faith - Part 2

Hebrews 3:12-19 “ See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.  But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.  We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end.  As has just been said: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts  as you did in the rebellion.” Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt?  And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies perished in the wilderness?  And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed?  So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.”

Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary
Hebrews 3:14-19 The saints' privilege is, they are made partakers of Christ, that is, of the Spirit, the nature, graces, righteousness, and life of Christ; they are interested in all Christ is, in all he has done, or will do. The same spirit with which Christians set out in the ways of God, they should maintain unto the end. Perseverance in faith is the best evidence of the sincerity of our faith. Hearing the word often is a means of salvation, yet, if not hearkened to, it will expose more to the Divine wrath. The happiness of being partakers of Christ and his complete salvation, and the fear of God's wrath and eternal misery, should stir us up to persevere in the life of obedient faith. Let us beware of trusting to outward privileges or professions, and pray to be numbered with the true believers who enter heaven, when all others fail because of unbelief. As our obedience follows according to the power of our faith, so our sins and want of care are according to the prevailing of unbelief in us.

Brothers and sisters, you cannot read Hebrews 3:12-19 and minimize what you read by playing fancy footsteps around it. You are neither allowed to use one or two Bible verses to justify the reason why you do not heed to these verses. I do not mean to hurt anyone’s feelings nor insulting you or judging you. I am simply sharing with you that the God that I got to know the past fifteen years do not take kindly when we assume that a presumptuous faith will do. We have examples throughout the Bible from the book of Genesis to the book of Revelation. When it comes to our faith in God, Satan is no joke. The kind of temptation that caused the fall of Adam and Eve is very alive today.

When you cultivate a childlike mind, as you read a verse like Ephesians 2:6 you do not go prancing around as if God never wrote anything else. As a child of God, if indeed you have received true Salvation and Satan is not reigning in your life, then you go directly to God through humility and patience, you tell Him that your mind is not able to reconcile these verses in Hebrews 3 and the fact that we are supposed to be saved by grace alone so no one can boast. I promise you, He will love the fact that you would rather come to Him in your ignorance than believing glibly what some Satan’s child is telling you to believe.  If your heart is right, He will always take you further and reveal His word further. The truth is, Ephesians 2:6 and Hebrews 3:12-19 are true and consistent and God does not contradict Himself. But, to go on understanding more, you have to know Him, sit at His feet, worship Him with your life, carrying the cross He puts in front of you. You have to live a life that shows you understand the depth of the sacrifice He made on the cross. You have to learn what it truly means to find rest in Him. You have to know what it means to live and walk in the Spirit. Above all else we have to live a life that shows we are truly living in union with Him. And we have to live with complete reverence for who He is. All of what I have mentioned in the way we are to live this life of faith in Him, is about His grace getting us there because, alone, we do not have the capacity.

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When you get to know God, you learn to see things with a different set of eyes, “your spiritual eyes” and this is why Paul said: I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. Don’t make the mistake of missing out on the key word there. Paul says “those who believe” Then you ought to examine yourself to see if you truly believe. Does your life reflect the word of God? How is His word changing you inwardly? Or do you believe in vain?

If you are dead set on claiming for instance Ephesians 2:6 and you do not want to have anything to do with Hebrews 3 it does not matter what spin you put on it, what you have is nothing short of presumptuous faith. You simply presume certain things in your own strength and your own understanding because that’s what convenient to you. Satan actually knows that about you better than you do and he not only succeeded in tempting you, he moved on for the kill and you are no wiser. I know most of you are going to say “wait a minute, most people believe in this way.” Well, for one, hell is going to be more populated than heaven so there is no surprise there. Secondly stop being a sheep because most people are going the wrong way, don’t follow them, and follow Christ. Stop living your spiritual life because it feels and sound good. Stop tweaking God’s covenant, and stop trying to find loopholes like you are a lawyer fighting to win your case.

p putting a spin on it to make it feel like if you go forward claiming your inheritance, it feels like lordship salvation. It is simply recognizing the plan of Salvation was conceived by one architect and He alone knows what is needed. He put it forward, He paid the price for it and He alone tells us how it all works out, hence the whole Bible. We go forward embracing the whole Bible, because we recognize that we are nothing and we need Him. Also, we go forward because we are grateful that He actually thought of a plan to reconcile with us.

Jesus Christ Himself gave us an example of this kind of presumptuous faith and how God feels about it. Satan in his audacity tempted Him in Mathew 4:5-6 “Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple.  “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’ --- Does the word God really say that? Did Satan lie?  Well, take a look at Psalm 91 start reading from verse 11 “For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. ….. “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;;” When you read this you realize Satan did not twist God’s word and he did not lie.” What was Christ’s answer? Have you ever pondered on those words uttered by our Lord and Savior?

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ – I do not know about you but when I pondered on those words before I knew Him well, I knew I had to go further than what I was being fed by man because certain things are written in black and white and I did not think I could use an excuse with God. Even with a minimum understanding, I knew if Christ was not exempted from living a presumptuous faith then why would I be? All I understood from Christ’s response there, when I was a baby in the faith was that Christ was telling me that every word of God is important and had to be applied. How? I did not know yet. Personally, I felt God contradicted Himself like crazy but I was not trying to insult Him or taking advantage of Him, He knew this was the extend of my understanding. But, as I went forward, He taught me.

I beg of you, do not take those words in this post and try to make someone else tell you what to believe. In fact, I do not want you to take my word for it because it is not about me. I am not going to be the one deciding if you deserve hell or heaven. Take it directly to Him who is the supreme authority. When you take certain things to a pastor or a mentor with a hidden motive because you are seeking someone to tell you that it is okay to remain in your shoddy Christianity and God will honour His word, you do not fool God and you will pay the consequences of your actions. What I said above, in no way means that you are not to talk to your pastor or your mentor. There are great pastors out there who have been literally placed by God to feed us and guide us to Him. My point is, at the end of the day, in the depth of your heart, you already know what you want to believe and what is convenient.

Part 3 tomorrow...