Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Elements of a Persevering Faith

The early church = great success and rapid growth which led to intense persecution which led to APOSTASY (falling away).  The persecution led by the Jews first, then spread to the Gentiles

APOSTASY = to abandon, denounce, turn away from one's faith - words used almost exclusively with religion and primarily with the Christian faith.

One one hand, persecution did NOT lead to mass Apostasy - Acts 8:1-4
Example:  quote from Tertullian - "the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church".
Far more people stuck to the faith rather than leave it.

On the other hand, some did renounce, turn away, and others were tempted to.  Hence the Book of Hebrews deals almost exclusively with staying with the faith.  The writer understood the Jewish faith, was in all likelihood a Jew.

The problem today is NOT formal apostasy - very few people denounce the Christian faith
The problem IS PRACTICAL APOSTASY! - revert to nominal faith.  No real practice of the faith.  Good example:  King David

THE CAUSE???   Was NOT Persecution.
It was disappointment, discouragement, distraction - Matt. 13:22  A big part of the Christian life is humdrum - in the trenches

         drift away
          wander away
          be drawn away
          turn away
          walk away
          fall away
Common denominator in all these = AWAY!!
The call of Hebrews is 1)  to Persevere  2)  IN THE FAITH  
32% of the world's population identifies with the Christian faith.  roughly 2.2 billion people.  However, how many of those practice the faith?

THE WARNING - Heb. 2"1 - real danger = drifting away

THE INSTRUCTIONS - found throughout the book of Hebrews - Heb. 13:22 at the conclusion of the list.

"Elements of a Persevering Faith"

#1.  CHOICE  (decision) - we choose 
16 times we find "let us" - be careful, hold, approach, go on, consider, encourage, draw

"us" because = group
"let" because = choice!!
Sin my draw you away, BUT not with a hook and line!  nobody drags you into sin.

#2.  ATTENTION - Heb. 2:1  in Deuteronomy - "be careful"  In gospels - "watch out"
Our problem?  The GOOD TIMES!!   Example:  Quote from Samuel Wilkes, 18th century Christian - "A Christian never falls asleep in the fire, or in the water, but grows drowsy in the sunshine."  You don't fall asleep in the fire, you don't fall asleep when the water is coming up over your head, but it is real easy to fall asleep in the sunshine.

#3.  DETERMINATION - which is more than a decision - is a DISCIPLINE.  Example:  contrast deciding to lose weight with determining to lose weight!!

#4.  WORK - "see to it"  "make every effort"  - Heb. 4:11
Paul - Col. 1:29  Peter - 2 Pet. 1:3-5 - make every effort 

#5.  KNOWLEDGE (know how) - the Book of Hebrews is more than inspiration. It = INSTRUCTION!!
it's full of information and how to.

#6.  RECALL - Heb. 10:32-36 - thinking back   Compare to Rev. 2:5  - church at Ephesus

#7.  ASSISTANCE - human assistance - "let us" - "One Another" - doesn't happen along
                               & divine assistance - "Heb. 4:16  (need!!) 

On one hand we all need to recognize the danger!! - 1 Cor. 10:12
However, need not be pessimistic - Heb. 6:9

Closing:  Heb. 13:20-21

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