13 May Hebrews 05 – Do not harden your hearts
7 Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says,
“Today, if you hear his voice,
8 do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,
on the day of testing in the wilderness,
9 where your fathers put me to the test
and saw my works for forty years.
10 Therefore I was provoked with that generation,
and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart;
they have not known my ways.’
11 As I swore in my wrath,
‘They shall not enter my rest.’”
12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. 15 As it is said,
“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”
16 For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses? 17 And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? 19 So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.
Back in the day when I was still in Junior High, which is not too long ago, I was a sprinter. If you do not know what a sprinter is, a sprinter is someone who ran 100M and 200M race. I am not sure if 400M racer count as a sprint or not. But I was a 100M and 200M runner for my school and I was fast. I was not the fastest man alive but I was able to outrun everyone in my age group at school. If you grew up in Sydney, then you would know that every year every school have Athletic Carnival. And if you win in your School Athletic carnival, then you would compete with other schools in Zone Athletic Carnival. And if you win in Zone, then you go to State Carnival. Anyway, I want to tell you about my first Zone Athletic Carnival experience. I was the fastest in my school for 100M and 200M and therefore I went to Zone Carnival to race in 100M and 200M. What happened was, one of my school runner was sick on the day and did not make it to Zone Carnival. And he was our runner for 800M race. Our coach panicked and he tried to find someone to run the 800M race. He looked at me and said, “What time is your race?” “It is in one hour coach.” “Great! You can run the 800M race and still have time to recover.” My coach did not even ask me if I wanted to run the 800M race or not. He simply told me that I am running the 800M race.
Now, 800M race is very different from 100M race. 800M is 8 times longer than 100M. It should be obvious but somehow that fact was absent from my mind. 800M race is the kind of race that you need to set your pace and control your breathing. Well, here is the thing. I never ran 800M race before. During my school carnival, I walked the 800M race because I was exhausted from 100M and 200M race before it. But I thought I could handle it. All I need to do is to sprint as fast as I can. And that was exactly what I did. When I heard the gun shot, I ran as fast as I could. And for few seconds, I thought I was a legend. I was ahead of others by far. No one was even close to me. “Dang, I am very fast.” But do you know what the problem was? It does not last long. I was super awesome for the first 100M, then I started to slow down when I reached the 200M mark, began to loss breath at 300M mark, and I was dead by the time I reached the first circle, the 400M mark. I walked and jogged for the next 400M. Anyone want to guess in which position I finished the race? I was 16th out of 16th. Dead last. I was 1st for the first few hundred meters then I was knocked out.
Why am I telling you this embarrassing story? Because you and I know it is not how you start the race that matter, but how you finish the race. It is very possible to run so fast and be first for the first few hundred meters but only to come last at the finish line. But at least, I still finished the race. Here is a disturbing truth about Christian life. It is very possible for you to start very well and never make it to the finish line. Do not be deceived by a good start. This is the warning that the author of the book of Hebrews gives to his readers. Remember that the recipients of the letter of Hebrews were Jewish Christians who struggles to follow Christ. They were persecuted by both the Government and their Jewish communities. They experienced rejection both from side. And they began to ponder whether it is worth it to follow Christ. And to this audience, the author of the book of Hebrews is saying, “Do not be deceived by a good start. You need to finish the race. Because it is how you finish the race that counts. You can have the best of start but if you do not finish the race, it means nothing. You need to persevere in your faith in Christ.” Are you with me? This is where we ended last time I preached on Hebrews. Hebrews 3:6 – And we are his house, if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope. He is trying to make his audiences aware of the importance of holding fast to the end. Do not give up half way. Hold fast to your belief. And in order to make his point, the author of Hebrews uses a story that all of them are very familiar with – the story of their ancestors’ journey from Egypt into the Promised Land.
Three things that we can see in our passage: Lesson to be learned; the root of the problem; the remedy to the problem.
Lesson to be learned
Hebrews 3:7-11 – 7 Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, “Today, if you hear his voice, 8 do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness, 9 where your fathers put me to the test and saw my works for forty years. 10 Therefore I was provoked with that generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart; they have not known my ways.’ 11 As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest.’”
Before we dig into the passage, I just want to draw your attention to something really cool here. What the author of the Hebrews does in this passage is he is quoting Psalm 95. Now, Psalm 95 was written by David. Yet when the author of Hebrews quotes it, he says, “as the Holy Spirit says.” And notice the present tense of says rather than said. What does it mean? It means that the author of Hebrews understands very well that even though it was David who wrote Psalm 95, he does so under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The Scripture is not originated from men. It was written by men but it was inspired by the Spirit. And the present tense of “says” means that the Holy Spirit is still speaking to us today. The Scripture was not just relevant to David’s days but it also speaks to us today. The lesson that the Israelites learned the hard way is still speaking to us today. What lesson? I’m glad you asked.
There are two ways to learn from history. One is to find a good value that we can imitate, and the other is to learn from their mistake and not repeat the same mistake. The lesson that the author of Hebrews wants us to learn in this passage is of the later. He is basically saying, “Do not repeat the same mistakes as the Israelites.” What happened to them? They put God to the test and provoked God. So, if you still remember, a while back I preached on the call of Moses to lead Israelites out of Egypt. And he did it through signs and wonders. Just think about what the Israelites witnessed with their own eyes. They saw all the 10 plagues happened. They saw God created hail, darkness and ultimately how God killed every first-born son in Egypt but spared the Israelites through the blood of the lamb in their doorpost. If that’s not enough, they saw the Red Sea split into two. Can you imagine walking on dry ground while having sharks and turtles all around you? It’s like walking in an aquarium without the glass. Then once they get to the other side, the Red Sea returned back to normal and swallowed the Egyptian army. That must be one heck of a sight. Exodus 14:31 – Israel saw the great power that the Lord used against the Egyptians, so the people feared the LORD, and they believed in the LORD and in his servant Moses. Israel started really well. They saw what God can do and they believed God and Moses. They were sprinting.
But three days later, they had no water to drink and they grumbled against Moses. But the Lord turned bitter water into sweet water. Then few days later they were hungry and they grumbled again against Moses. “Are you trying to starve us to death Moses? Oh how much better was Egypt. We used to have fish and chips to eat for free. But now we do not have anything to eat.” And the LORD graciously sent them quail in the evening and bread from heaven in the morning. You would think that was more than enough for them to trust the LORD. In Exodus chapter 17, the Israelites were thirsty again and had nothing to drink. They already saw what God can do just few days before. They witnessed the miraculous power of God. They knew that God is powerful. But they were thirsty. And their thirst were stronger than their belief in God. So, they quarrelled with Moses. “Why did you bring us out of Egypt to kill us with thirst?” But again, the LORD made provision. The LORD made water came out of rock. Then it says, Exodus 17:7 – And he called the name of the place Massah and Meribah, because of the quarrelling of the people of Israel, and because they tested the LORD, by saying, “Is the LORD among us or not?”” Pay attention to the two words Massah and Meribah. Massah means testing and Meribah means quarrelling. Now flip to Psalm 95:7-9 – Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness, when your fathers put me to the test and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work.
What the author of Hebrews does is he translates the word Massah and Meribah to its actual meaning, which is testing and quarrelling or rebellion. What is his point? His point is, do not be like Israel in the past. The people of Israel who were in Massah and Meribah saw everything that God did to the Egyptians. They saw the 10 plagues. They crossed the Red Sea in dry ground. They drank sweet water. They ate the quail and bread from heaven. Yet they continue to put God to the test. They continue to question God’s power and God’s faithfulness, even after everything they witnessed. And God in his kindness continue to show them grace after grace, mercy after mercy. But the kindness of God meant to lead them to repentance. Yet Israel never learned their lesson. After experiencing grace after grace, they still continue to test God. The greatest tragedy happened in Numbers 14. Remember the story of 12 spies? Before they enter the Promised Land, Moses sent 12 spies into Canaan to gather information on the condition of the land and the people in it. So, the twelve spies went into Canaan. In Canaan, they saw a beautiful fruitful land flowing with milk and honey. But they also saw giants that inhabited the land. When the spies returned, they reported what they saw back to Moses. The land is indeed very beautiful but it was filled with giants. Caleb and Joshua were ready for a fight. But the other 10 spies refused to trust God. They refused to obey God. All of Israel were on their side. Israel refused to enter the Promised Land, the land of rest, and they even wanted to stone Joshua and Caleb to death. God was angry. “After everything I have done, after all the works they saw I performed, after all the grace and mercy I poured out on them, how can these people still not believe in me?” The LORD had enough and he wanted to destroy all of Israel but Moses begged God to forgive Israel for his own name’s sake. “God, if you killed all of them, what would other nations think of you?” So, God spared their lives but he promised that none of them would enter God’s rest, which mean that none of them would enter the Promised Land, except Joshua and Caleb.
What does this story teach us? It is simply this. You can begin right, you can start fast, but never make it into the finish line. How you start does not guarantee how you will finish. It is very possible for you to be on fire for Christ at the beginning but lose breath along the way and never get up. It is possible to trust God when everything works according to your plan but doubted him when things does not work out according to your plan. “Is that mean I can never doubt God?” No, I don’t think that is what the author of Hebrews is saying. Dealing with doubt is part of Christian’s life. Raise your hand high if you ever doubt God’s goodness? Now, look around you. If they don’t have their hand raised, they are lying and they are testing God right now. Having doubts are part of living life as a Christian. When things do not work out as we expected, it is normal to have doubts. The author of Hebrews has no issue with us having doubts. However, he does warn us about living in doubts. Hebrews 3:10 – 10 Therefore I was provoked with that generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart; they have not known my ways.’ The word “always” indicates a continuous doubting. When doubts come, the right response is to kill doubts with the promises of God. But what happened with Israel was their heart refused to trust God’s promises. They rather lived in doubts and questioned God’s ways consistently. And to these people, God swore that they will not enter his rest.
Now, let’s chat. I mean, you know people like this right? They seemed to have a personal encounter with God. They were on fire. They were willing to do anything for God. They heard about the message of forgiveness of sin. They heard the Gospel and they were baptized. They were probably my favourite people at church. They were at church every Sunday. If the service starts at 4, they were not here at 4:10 like many of us but they were here at 3PM. They read their Bible every day. They never missed KM. As long as things goes their way, they were all out for God. But when tough times came, when things did not work out according to their will, they questioned God. They doubted God. And sooner or later, they walked away from God. Why? Because they treated God like out of jail card in monopoly. They only wanted God as long as God is beneficial to them. They never really wanted God. They wanted God’s blessing but they did not desire God. They were ready to cheer for God as long as God was in their team but they never put themselves in God’s team. From the outside, they looked like the perfect role model for Christian 101. But on the inside, they never treasure God. And my fear as your pastor is that this passage is actually talking about some of you. You want God’s blessing but your heart does not desire God. And the difference will be in seen in the times of testing. What do you do when tough times come? What do you do when things did not work out as you expected? What do you do when you are disappointed? It is the difficult times that prove whether you treasured Christ or not. A.W. Pink says, “Testings reveals the state of our hearts.” Testing does not make you or destroy you but it shows what is inside of you. Testing and trials allow you to see who you really are on the inside. And what the author of Hebrews is doing to his audiences and to us is he is giving us a strong warning. “Do not be like Israel. Do not follow their examples. Do not keep testing God. Because the consequence is dire. The best of start does not guarantee anything. You need to persevere to the end. You need to continually put your trust in God.”
The root of the problem
We’ll jump over verses 12 to 15 for now. We’ll get back to them later. But I want us to take a look at the root of the problem for Israel. The author of Hebrews clearly wants us to learn from their bad examples. But what cause them to not enter God’s rest? Because the root of their problem is most likely the root of our problem as well. The author is asking his audience three pairs of questions. He will answer his own questions using rhetorical question. And then he will give us his main diagnosis. There is a progression happening in this three sets of question. Pay attention to it.
First question is in verse 16 – “For who were those who heard and yet rebelled?”
His answer – “Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses?”
The point – Those who rebelled against God was the same people who saw all the wondrous works of God in taking them out of Egypt and continue to provide for them in the wilderness. They were the people who began strongly. The best of start does not guarantee anything.
Second question is in verse 17 – “And with whom was he provoked for forty years?”
His answer – “Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness?”
The point – God was angry with the same people who saw all his wonderful works, all who started out strongly, but continued to test God and refused to trust God. They were willing to trust God when everything worked according to their plan but they bailed out when it did not.
Third question is in verse 18 – “And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest?”
His answer – “but to those who were disobedient?”
The point – The Israelites unwillingness to trust the LORD led to disobedient. They disobeyed God’s command for them to enter the Promised Land and God swore that they would not enter his rest because of it.
Notice the progression. They all started well. They witnessed and experienced the wonderful works of the LORD. They were ready to cheer for the LORD. But then tough times came and they began to doubt God. Things did not work out according to their expectations. Their hearts refused to trust God even after all the things that God had done for them. And because of it, they disobeyed God. They chose to trust their own way over God’s way. And they were unable to enter God’s rest because of it. And here is the author of Hebrews’ main diagnosis. Hebrews 3:19 – So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief. The root of their problem was unbelief. Their disobedience was the fruit of their unbelief in God. And the same can be said about us. The root of our problem, the root of every sin, is unbelief. Unbelief towards God and who he is.
Let me give you an example. Why are there many young Christians who left their faith when they entered college? Let me tell you what happen. They grew up in a Christian family. They attended Sunday school every week. They had many stickers to prove it. I’m not sure if they still do it today actually. Back in my days, you received stickers if you have perfect attendance at Sunday school. They knew all the major stories of the Bible. And to some degree, they believed in the God of the Bible. Then they hit teenager’s age and started to attend E.T. At first, everything was okay but then their friends started to ask questions. “Why are you not swearing? Why are you not dating? It’s fun.” But they were still able to hold on to their faith because they lived with their parents. But the seeds of doubts was already planted. Then came College. They left the house, unless your parents are fully Indo like mine, and started to venture on their own. Their friends started to make fun of their faith. “How can you believe in God in these days and age? That is so primitive. We live in a modern age. You do not need God. You are your own god. You can decide what is right and wrong for yourself.” So now, the seed of doubt in them began to grow. Then they met him or her. The person of their dream. He or she were just exactly the kind of person they wanted to date. They complete them. So they got into a relationship. And now the question is, “Is it okay for me to have sex outside marriage?” They knew the answer. They knew it from Sunday school. God prohibits sex outside of marriage. But the desire is too strong. “Why can’t I have sex outside marriage? Everyone else is doing it. What is wrong with it? Surely God wants me to be happy right? This is normal.” They argued with themselves whether God could be trusted or not. Eventually they decided there was no harm in doing it once, twice, thrice, and before they knew it, it already became part of their life. And the more they disobeyed God, the more they doubted God. Eventually they walked away from their faith saying that “God does not exist.”
Does this story sounds familiar to you? Do you know what their main problem is? Their main problem is not sex outside marriage. Their main problem is refusal to trust God and his promises. It is their unbelief. It is refusal to believe that God is a good God and God wants the best for them. He is the one who created sex. It is his gifts for us. He knows how sex works best and it is within the boundary of marriage. But their hearts refused to trust God and his goodness. Their unbelief hearts led them to disobey God constantly. Their problems is a problem of unbelief. This apply to every sin in our lives. Every time we choose sin over God, what we are doing is we refused to trust God and his superior promises. Our sin is the result of our unbelief. Sin is not first and foremost a problem of what you do but it is the problem of the heart. Often times we think of unbelief like a cold that would go away with few days of rest. But according to the Bible, unbelief is more like a cancer in our hearts rather than cold.
The remedy to the problem
Hebrews 3:12-15 – 12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. 15 As it is said, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”
The author of the Hebrews offer us three ways that can help us deal with our unbelief. First, it is to take care of your hearts. It means to pay special attention, to be aware of the condition of your heart. Proverbs 4:23 – Keep you hearts with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. We are commanded to keep a constant watch over our hearts and to know what is going on inside our hearts. And let me tell you this is not easy. This does not come naturally. We are not trained for it. We hardly ever take time to deal with the condition of our hearts. Our society teaches us to numb our hearts. What do you do when you are disappointed? What do you do when things did not turn out as you expected? Let me tell you what we are trained to do. Go to Netflix and start watching 10 episodes in one day. Or, get the KFC special deal, 9 chicken for $9.95 and eat all of them on your own. Or, go on shopping spree. Max out the credit card. We all have our own way to numb the disappointment and the condition of our hearts. And this is what is even more scary. It works! Eating a whole tube of ice cream does makes you feel better… and fatter. Buying new clothes does ease your disappointment. Finding a new girlfriend does help you forget your ex who cheated on you. Here is the problem though. All those things does numb your hearts but it does not cure it. What is happening is that your hearts become harder every day and before you realize it, you have an evil, unbelieving hearts that leads you further and further away from God.
So the first thing you need to do is to take care of your heart. Pay attention to what is happening in your heart. That will involves you to stop whatever you do to numb your heart and ask the question, “How is my heart?” We need to do a routine check up on the condition of our hearts. Every time we feel there is something off, don’t just numb it out and ignore it but take time to find out what is happening. Ask yourself questions like, “Why am I feeling disappointed? Why am I weary? Why am I upset? What happens to me?” A routine check-up can save your lives. Some of you know my story. I was diagnosed with leukaemia in June 2009. But the doctors were able to deal with it using the strongest chemotherapy available because the cancer was still in early stage and I was still strong enough to handle it. But all of that happened through routine check-up. I thought I was perfectly fine and healthy. I was still doing my morning run and played futsal. But a yearly routine check-up saved my life. When is the last time you take some time out to examine your hearts? Take care my friends. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Be diligent in examining your hearts.
The second remedy is that we need to exhort one another every day. I love this part. We not only need take some time to examine our hearts ourselves, we also need one another. You need me to encourage you and I need you to encourage me. No Christian can survive alone. None. God created us to thrive in and through community. This is not my word. This is the Bible. Perseverance in salvation is a community project. I have a role to play in your life and you have a role to play in my life. One of the biggest lies of the devil is that you will be fine on your own. You do not need anyone else. Christianity is about you and God. Well, yes Christianity is about you and God but it is also about you and me. I need you as much as you need me. Why? Because of the deceitfulness of sin. Do you realize that we are often the last person to realize that we are in trouble? I mean, everyone around you can see it. That guy or that girl is not good for you. But you are always the last person to realize. Why? Because sin lies to you. Sin tricks you. Sin makes you overestimate your own ability and underestimate the people around you. Sin is deceitful. We are blind to our own sinfulness. We need other people to show it to us.
The word exhort comes from a Greek word parakaleo, which mean someone who walk alongside you and speak life into you. And this is not only the role of pastors. All of us are called to be parakaleo to one another. We are responsible for the life of one another. We are responsible to watch over one another’s heart. This is why KM is extremely crucial. Coming to church once a week on Sunday is great but it is not enough. In a Sunday service, you hear me yell at you and try to remind you of the Gospel. But I can’t do much in helping you guard your hearts. This happens in small groups. The purpose of KM is not simply to study the Bible but for you to have the time to examine one another’s heart and speak life into it. It is a time for you to look at one another’s life and exhort one another. You need this. I need this. As long as it is still called ‘today’, we need one another. No Christians can fold their arms and think that they do not need other people. Every Christians should get their hands dirty in one another’s life. Otherwise, our hearts would be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. This is why I do not consider watching vodcast as going to church. Vodcast is awesome but they cannot replace church. We are created to thrive and grow in community. We need one another. Even God himself is in a perfect community and unity that we know as Trinity.
It also means this, you have to be honest about your condition. As long as you keep pretending that everything is okay, as long as you are trying to numb your heart, as long as you choose to keep things to yourself, sin will continue to harden your hearts. It is only when you come clean, when you admit the condition of your heart to one another, that they can speak life into you. And I learned this the hard way. I am a natural introvert which mean I don’t talk a lot and I don’t like you very much. For years, I kept things to myself and it slowly ate me from the inside. Before I realized it, I was living contrary to God’s will and I struggled with depression. It was only when I let other people into my life that God began to heal me. I found strength to obey God through the people around me that continue to speak life into me. Sin tried to trick me to think that “I’ve got this.” But sin lied. I need other people to walk with me and warn me about the deceitfulness of sin. Today, I try to be as honest as I can with my KM about the condition of my heart. Those who have been in my KM for some time would have witnessed me crying like a baby and expressed my doubt and disappointments. Your pastor is no better than you. He is as human and as vulnerable as you. He also need other people to walk alongside him and exhort him. It is weird referring to myself in the third person. But you get my point. Do not listen to the lie of the devil that you do not need other Christians in your faith journey. I need your constant encouragement as much as you need my constant encouragement.
The third remedy, which encompasses all other remedy, is remember the Gospel. Hebrews 3:14 – For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. I want you to pay attention to the grammar of this sentence. The author of Hebrews is not saying that we must hold firm to our original confidence in order for us to have a share in Christ. He does not say that. To share in Christ means that you will have part in everything that is true about Christ. It speaks of eternal life reigning with him. Now, pay attention to the wording. It says, “For we have come…” This is a perfect tense. Which mean, it is something that already happened in the past and it has continuing effect today. So what the author of Hebrew is saying is not that if you hold fast to the Gospel, then you will have a share in Christ. No. It is the opposite. What he is saying is that because you have come to share in Christ, you will without a doubt hold to your original confidence firm to the end. The proof that you are saved is that you will persevere in faith. That you hold your original confidence firm to the end.
What is your original confidence? It is the Gospel. It is the fact that there is nothing you can do to save yourself. It is the message of such a great salvation. It is the confidence that Jesus is better. That Jesus is our champion and our brother. Our confidence is not in our ability to persevere but in Jesus’ strength to never let go. Just like the Israelites, Jesus also experienced wilderness. Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness. Just like Israel, Jesus was hungry. The devil tempted him to eat but Jesus replied, “Men shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” The devil then tempted Jesus to test God on God’s promise to protect his people. Jesus replied, “You shall not put the LORD your God to the test.” Then the devil tempted Jesus to rebel against God and worship him and he will give Jesus what he wants. Jesus replied, “You shall worship the LORD your God and him only shall you serve.” What is happening here? In all the places where the Israelites failed, Jesus succeeded. Jesus accomplished what we cannot. He fulfilled the righteous requirement of God on his own and he died a sinner death for us. So now, everyone who trust in him, is given his righteous standing. Jesus has won the battle for us. And if you put your faith in him if you trust him, he will enable you to persevere to the end. We will make it to God’s rest because Jesus is with us.
However, there is a warning. And I want to end with this warning. Hebrews 3:15 – As it is said, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” Today, if you are living in sin, if you are in active rebellion against God, if there is unbelief in your hearts, heed the warning of God. Do not harden your hearts. Do not repeat the mistake of Israelites. Get rid of your unbelief. Put your trust in God and his promises. Do not be like Pharaoh who continues to harden his heart until it is too late. But today, today, not tomorrow because you are not guaranteed tomorrow. Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts. Put your trust in Jesus. The remedy to your unbelief is to know that Jesus is better. Hold firm to your original confidence. Jesus is strong enough to save you and hold on to you.
- What is so significant about the phrase in Hebrews 3:7, “Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says”?
- What is the important lesson that the author of the Hebrews wants us to learn from the Israelites?
- “It is the difficult times that prove whether you treasure Christ or not.” Discuss the validity of this statement.
- What is the root of our problem? Can you see if this is the root of your problem? Give examples.
- The author of Hebrews argues that one of the reasons Israel fell away was because their hearts were hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Is there any sin in your life that you entertain and refuse to put to death? Are you at total war with your sin, or do you pick and choose your battles? Explain.
- What role do we have in helping one another live Christian life? Are we doing our role to the best we know how? If not, what can we do to further help one another?
- How does the author of this passage use the warning of not entering God’s rest to motivate his audience to hold firmly until the end? Do you typically think about God’s warning as a motivation for persevering in your faith? Why or why not?