17 When God tested Abraham, faith led him to offer his son Isaac. Abraham, the one who received the promises from God, was willing to offer his only son as a sacrifice. 18 God had said to him, “Through Isaac your descendants will carry on your name.” 19 Abraham believed that God could bring Isaac back from the dead. Abraham did receive Isaac back from the dead in a figurative sense. 20 Faith led Isaac to bless Jacob and Esau. 21 While Jacob was dying, faith led him to bless each of Joseph’s sons. He leaned on the top of his staff and worshiped God. 22 While Joseph was dying, faith led him to speak about the Israelites leaving Egypt and give them instructions about burying his bones.–Hebrews 11:17-22 (GW)
Can you imagine the thoughts that must have gone through Abraham’s mind when God told Him to sacrifice his only son? Surely he wondered how God was going to fulfill His promise to make him a father of many nations, if he killed his son. But this matter was already settled in the mind of Abraham. This was the statement Abraham made in Genesis 22:
5 Then Abraham said to his servants, “You stay here with the donkey while the boy and I go over there. We’ll worship. After that we’ll come back (GW)
At that moment, Abraham didn’t know how God would do it, but he trusted God to provide and take care of both he and his son, Isaac. Isaac trusted God to carry out His promise through his sons, so he blessed both of them. Jacob believed the promise and blessed his 12 sons. Those 12 sons would become the leaders of the 12 tribes of Israel. Joseph believed that God would rescue his people, so he made them promise that when God led them out of Egypt that they would carry his bones back to the Promised Land and bury them there. All these promises were fulfilled and written down for us so that we might be believers as well. God is faithful!!
11 Faith enabled Abraham to become a father, even though he was old and Sarah had never been able to have children. Abraham trusted that God would keep his promise.12 Abraham was as good as dead. Yet, from this man came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the grains of sand on the seashore. 13 All these people died having faith. They didn’t receive the things that God had promised them, but they saw these things coming in the distant future and rejoiced. They acknowledged that they were living as strangers with no permanent home on earth. 14 Those who say such things make it clear that they are looking for their own country. 15 If they had been thinking about the country that they had left, they could have found a way to go back. 16 Instead, these men were longing for a better country—a heavenly country. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God. He has prepared a city for them.–Hebrews 11:11-16 (GW)
God had promised Abraham that he would become the father of many nations, yet, he and Sara did not have a child. They were well past child-bearing age when God delivered on His promise to Abraham. Though, from a human standpoint, it was impossible, it was not hard for God to fulfill His promise. After all, when He speaks, the sound of His voice creates whatever He says. He spoke the universe into existence. So, bringing forth a child from an elderly couple would not be difficult for Him. This promise was passed down from generation to generation. Many of them died before the promise was realized, but they died knowing that God is faithful and He would fulfill every promise. They pressed on in obedience to God and arrived at a heavenly country where they will spend an eternity with God because they were faithful.
7 Faith led Noah to listen when God warned him about the things in the future that he could not see. He obeyed God and built a ship to save his family. Through faith Noah condemned the world and received God’s approval that comes through faith. 8 Faith led Abraham to obey when God called him to go to a place that he would receive as an inheritance. Abraham left his own country without knowing where he was going. 9 Faith led Abraham to live as a foreigner in the country that God had promised him. He lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who received the same promise from God.10 Abraham was waiting for the city that God had designed and built, the city with permanent foundations.-Hebrews 11:7-11 (GW)
God spoke to Noah and told him to build an ark for his family because God was going to send a flood on the earth to destroy it completely. At this time, the earth was watered with dew from the ground, There had never been a rain, nevertheless, Noah obeyed God and built the ark. Because Noah was faithful to be obedient, he, his family and the animals were saved to renew the earth after the flood. Abram was 75 years old and had no idea where Canaan was when God told him to leave his home in Haran and go to a land that God had promised him. Abram was renamed Abraham which means “the father of many”. Although Abraham made many mistakes, he always returned to his trust and faith in God. Because of his faithfulness, he was able to purchase a burial plot in the land of Canaan and years later, Moses, then Joshua, led the children of Israel to the Promised Land.
32 Remember the past, when you first learned the truth. You endured a lot of hardship and pain. 33 At times you were publicly insulted and mistreated. At times you associated with people who were treated this way. 34 You suffered with prisoners. You were cheerful even though your possessions were stolen, since you know that you have a better and more permanent possession. 35 So don’t lose your confidence. It will bring you a great reward. 36 You need endurance so that after you have done what God wants you to do, you can receive what he has promised.–Hebrews 10:32-36 (GW)
Early Christians had to suffer various kinds of persecution. They were beaten, imprisoned and insulted. They were also dressed in animal skins and used as prey for the dogs in the Coliseum to entertain the ruling class in Roman society. Eleven of the twelve disciples were martyred. We here in America know little or nothing about being persecuted for our beliefs. Until recently, we have enjoyed true freedom of worship and religious expression. That is changing now, Christians are being forced out of their jobs because they refuse to accept immoral principles that are in direct conflict with our Biblical beliefs. We need to stay in prayer, studying God’s Word and encouraging one another. Jesus told us that the time was coming when we would be tested. 9 “Then they will hand you over to those who will torture and kill you. All nations will hate you because you are committed to me. 10 Then many will lose faith. They will betray and hate each other. 11 Many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.–Matthew 24:9-11 (GW)
We already see this happening in many parts of the world. But remember what Paul said to encourage us. 37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.
38 For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.–Romans 8:37-39 (KJV21)
If we remain faithful. God is faithful to do what He has promised.
28 For anyone who refused to obey the law of Moses was put to death without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 Just think how much worse the punishment will be for those who have trampled on the Son of God, and have treated the blood of the covenant, which made us holy, as if it were common and unholy, and have insulted and disdained the Holy Spirit who brings God’s mercy to us. 30 For we know the one who said,
“I will take revenge.
I will pay them back.”
He also said,
“The Lord will judge his own people.”
31 It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
—Hebrews 10:28-31 (NLT)
God sent His only Son to die a horrible death on a cross for our sins, He does not take lightly those who reject that Gift. In the Old Testament, the lawbreakers were put to death on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Those that have rejected Jesus will be put into the lake of fire forever. Their souls will suffer torment for all ages to come. Physical death can be painful for any human, but those that have not accepted Jesus have no hope for eternity. Their souls will endure punishment forever. “Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess”. We can choose to do it now and spend an eternity with God or wait and be banished from the presence of God forever.. Sin is a deadly disease and we know the cure. If your family, friend or acquaintance had a deadly disease and you had the cure, wouldn’t you share it with them? Take a moment to pray for those that are lost. God will prepare their heart for you to speak to them. Don’t be afraid of rejection, it isn’t you they are rejecting, it is Jesus and He can handle it.
24 We must also consider how to encourage each other to show love and to do good things. 25 We should not stop gathering together with other believers, as some of you are doing. Instead, we must continue to encourage each other even more as we see the day of the Lord coming. 26 If we go on sinning after we have learned the truth, no sacrifice can take away our sins. 27 All that is left is a terrifying wait for judgment and a raging fire that will consume God’s enemies. 28 If two or three witnesses accused someone of rejecting Moses’ Teachings, that person was shown no mercy as he was executed.—Hebrews 10:24-28 (GW)
If we are going to encourage one another, then we need to pray for each other and also we need to pray together. We need to meet with other Christians on a regular basis. Worshiping and praising God together is a great way to encourage each other. If we fail to communicate with other Christians on a regular basis, we tend to become discouraged in our walk with God. One of satan’s tactics is to separate us from each other. He uses the same tactics as animals that are predators. They separate one of the prey from the herd and it is much easier for them to kill the one they have separated. After all, satan is a “roaring lion” seeking those he can destroy. We must work together and be accountable to God and each other so that we don’t go on sinning. It is a good idea to have someone you respect and trust to be accountable to on a weekly basis. Just knowing that you are going to have to tell someone everything you did this week will help you to overcome temptations.
19 Brothers and sisters, because of the blood of Jesus we can now confidently go into the holy place. 20 Jesus has opened a new and living way for us to go through the curtain. (The curtain is his own body.) 21 We have a superior priest in charge of God’s house. 22 We have been sprinkled with his blood to free us from a guilty conscience, and our bodies have been washed with clean water. So we must continue to come to him with a sincere heart and strong faith. 23 We must continue to hold firmly to our declaration of faith. The one who made the promise is faithful.–Hebrews 10:19-23 (GW)
There is no remission of sin without the shedding of blood. Since Jesus was the perfect sacrifice, it is no longer necessary to offer sacrifices of blood for forgiveness of sin. Jesus fulfilled the old covenant law completely and established a new covenant for us. In the Old Testament, no one could go into the Holy of Holies except the chief priest and he could only go once a year. Now, because of the new Covenant, we can enter into God”s throne room at anytime. Our bodies have been washed and we are cleansed by His blood. 7 But if we live in the light in the same way that God is in the light, we have a relationship with each other. And the blood of his Son Jesus cleanses us from every sin.–1 John 1:7 (GW)
The blood of Jesus cleansed sin yesterday, it cleanses sin today, and it will cleanse sin tomorrow. We can hold on to our declaration because the One Who paid the price and established the New Covenant is faithful. Even in times of persecution, we can know that He will never let us go. 12 For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day–1 Timothy 1:12 (NKJV)
13 The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of cows sprinkled on unclean people made their bodies holy and clean. 14 The blood of Christ, who had no defect, does even more. Through the eternal Spirit he offered himself to God and cleansed our consciences from the useless things we had done. Now we can serve the living God. 15 Because Christ offered himself to God, he is able to bring a new promise from God. Through his death he paid the price to set people free from the sins they committed under the first promise. He did this so that those who are called can be guaranteed an inheritance that will last forever.–Hebrews 9:13-15 (GW)
The sacrifices offered by the priests of the tribe of Levi could only cleanse the exterior, it was sufficient to make their bodies holy and clean. However, it did nothing on the inside of the priest or the individuals. That is why it had to be repeated over and over. When Jesus shed His blood, it was the perfect sacrifice, cleansing not only the body, but the heart and the conscience of each person accepting His sacrifice. Because Christ offered Himself, He gave us a new promise and established a new covenant. His perfect sacrifice will last for all ages and will never need to be repeated. Once we accept Jesus as our Savior, our place in Heaven is guaranteed forever. He has given us His Holy Spirit as an earnest, a down payment ensuring us of our heritage. 14 This Holy Spirit is the guarantee that we will receive our inheritance. We have this guarantee until we are set free to belong to him. God receives praise and glory for this.–Ephesians 1:14 (GW)
9 Dear friends, we are saying this to you, but we really expect better things from you that will lead to your salvation. 10 God is fair; he will not forget the work you did and the love you showed for him by helping his people. And he will remember that you are still helping them. 11 We want each of you to go on with the same hard work all your lives so you will surely get what you hope for. 12 We do not want you to become lazy. Be like those who through faith and patience will receive what God has promised.–Hebrews 6:9-12 (NCV)
This passage should not be interpreted to mean that we must work for our salvation. That would be in direct conflict with other passages that clearly state that we are saved by”grace through faith”. What the writer of Hebrews is saying is that dong good works after we are saved is how we lay up rewards in heaven. This should encourage us to help our neighbors and others that we see in need of food, housing, clothing, etc. God gave Adam and Eve the job of tending the Garden of Eden. Work in and of itself is not a curse. God expects each of us to be busy doing good works. We are instructed to “redeem the time”. James tells us that we show our faith in Jesus by doing good works. If we want to enter into the rest mentioned earlier in Hebrews, we must continue in faith and be patient. The day will come soon enough when we will receive our rewards.
1 So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding. Surely we don’t need to start again with the fundamental importance of repenting from evil deeds and placing our faith in God. 2 You don’t need further instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And so, God willing, we will move forward to further understanding.—Hebrews 6:1-3 (NLT)
Paul is again emphasizing that even new Christians should understand that salvation requires repentance, which is more than turning away from sin, it is also turning to something new and that is Jesus. We are saved by grace through faith in God. We know that we should be baptized as an outward representation of what we believe in our hearts. It is symbolic of dying to sin and our fleshly desires and being resurrected to a new life in Jesus. We understand that after the resurrection, some will go on to eternal life with Jesus and others to eternal life in hell. What we need now is to understand what Jesus wants us to do until the time of our physical death. He wants us to follow His example and lead a lifestyle that draws others to Christ. He sent His Holy Spirit to lead us “into all truth”. We should be like the Psalmist I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11 (NLT)