Sermon #19 Hebrews Notes
Title: “We are, if…”
Text: Hebrews 3:6-14
Readings: Lindsay Campbell and Larry Criss
Subject: The Necessity Of Perseverance
Date: Tuesday Evening -- May 9, 2000
Tape # V-82a
The children of Israel were led out of the darkness and bondage of Egypt by the hand of Moses. The Lord God did many miraculous things before their eyes. Time and again he performed mighty works on their behalf.
· He defeated their enemies.
· He fed them with manna.
· He gave them water out of the rock.
· By day and by night he led them, comforted them, and protected them.
For forty years the Israelites had seen the hand of the Lord in all their affairs. They murmured and complained. But God was merciful and longsuffering.
At last the nation stood within sight of Canaan. Many had fallen already in unbelief. But these people had persevered up to the very brink of victory and rest. Yet, at the last, with the promise in sight, we are told that their “carcasses fell in the wilderness”. At the last, “They could not enter in because of unbelief.”
In another place, Paul tells us that “All these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.”
In other words he says to us, “Be not high-minded, but fear: for if God spared not the natural branches, take heed, lest he also spare not thee.” Paul is telling us that it is necessary that we persevere in the faith. It is not the person who begins and lives for a long while in faith who is saved and enters into glory. It is the person who begins, and lives, and dies in faith who enters into eternal rest. Not everyone who says to Christ, “Lord, Lord,” is saved; but those who do the will of God, believing on Christ and enduring in that faith to the end.
The purpose of God the Holy Spirit in this third chapter of Hebrews is to show us the necessity of persevering faith. He is telling us that we must go on, steadfast in the faith. If we do not, if we forsake Christ, like those Jews who fell in the wilderness, we will perish and miss eternal glory.
Eternal Security -- I know that all true believers are eternally saved. Not one of God's elect shall ever perish. No true believer will ever cease to believe. No true follower of Christ will ever cease to follow Christ.
FALSE FAITH -- Still, all is not gold that glitters; and all who profess faith do not have real faith. Therefore, I am compelled to constantly examine myself; and in faithfulness to you, I must warn you that there is such a thing as false faith, by which multitudes are deceived.
Many people have a temporary faith which seems, to all outward appearance, real. But in the end they are found among the damned (Matt. 13:18-23). Nothing is more dangerous than a false faith which produces carnal, presumptuous security. True peace is most blessed; but false peace is most deadly.
Let me be very clear. The Word of God emphatically teaches the eternal security of God’s elect and the final perseverance of the saints. True believers shall never cease to be true believers. But I do not know, nor can any man know, how near a person may come to the character of a true believer and yet perish.
1. I take the warnings of Holy Scripture seriously (Heb. 6:4-6; 10:26, 29, 38; 2 Pet. 2:20-22; John 15:1-7; 2 Pet. 3:17; Heb. 3:12).
2. I know that many who once appeared strong in the faith have, in the end, left the faith (1 Tim. 1:18-20).
3. Therefore, I am compelled to be honest, sincere, and diligent to make my calling and election sure (1 Cor. 9:27).
Seriously consider these things. Are we truly born of God? Are we true believers? Do we have the faith of God’s elect? Or, are we simply deceiving ourselves with carnal security? I would do nothing to shake the true assurance of any child of God. But, somehow, if you are deceived, if I am deceived, I pray that God will make us to know it and cause us to seek the faith of God’s elect. I am quite certain that the man is much more likely to seek God's salvation who knows that he is naked, and poor, and miserable, than the man who says, “I am rich and increased with goods.”
NOTE: There is a difference between faith and assurance.
I know that many say, "If you doubt, you're damned." Others tell us, "If you don't doubt you're damned." For my own part, I would rather go to heaven doubting the sincerity and truthfulness of my own heart and my faith in Christ, than go to hell presuming. I am far more comfortable with the soul who is always questioning, “Am I truly in Christ?”, than I am with the man or woman who is so intoxicated with the liquor of presumption that says, “I know my lot, I know that I am saved, I never question it, and there is no reason for me to examine myself.
Proposition: The doctrine of our text is very plain. May God graciously burn it into our hearts - “We are made partakers of Christ - IF we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end.” Those who are truly born of God persevere in the faith; and those who do not persevere are not born of God.
1. A Glorious Privilege of Grace
2. A Solemn and Searching Question For All Professors
3. An Unerring Test For Us All
I. First, here is A Glorious Privilege of Grace - “We are made partakers of Christ.”
This is a very great privilege, accomplished by Divine grace. This particular privilege, though it is taught and implied throughout the Word of God, is not stated anywhere else.
· The text does not say, “We are made partakers with Christ.” That is a precious, comforting truth of Scripture. We are joint-heirs with Christ. Because all things are his, all things are ours. But that is not the teaching of our text.
· The text does not simply say that “We are made partakers of the rich benefits of God’s grace in Christ.” That, too, is a fact in which we rejoice. All the grace of God in Christ is ours, fully, freely, and perfectly. In Christ, we are partakers of pardoning mercy, adopting love, regenerating grace, sanctification, preservation, and eternal glory. All the blessings of the covenant of grace are ours in Christ.
But our text goes further. It includes all this and much more. Here, Paul tells us that, “We are made partakers of Christ.” We are made partakers of Christ himself! This is a privilege that no tongue can describe. It is beyond the thought of our finite minds. We are one with the Son of God, members of his body, bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh. Truly, this is a great mystery! Yet, this is the privilege of all true believers. The moment any sinner believes on Christ, that sinner is so vitally and really joined to Christ that he becomes a partaker of Christ. To be partakers of Christ, what can this mean?
A. To be a partaker of Christ mean that I have a share in his merits.
Sinful, though I am, vile, wretched, and unclean, I come to the fountain filled with his blood, I am washed in it, and I am made as white as snow. In that moment I become a partaker of God’s eternal Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Being a partaker of Christ, his merits are my merits.
1. That which Christ did as my Substitute is actually mine.
a. Did he bear the wrath of God as my Substitute? Then all God’s wrath against me is gone.
b. Did he take my sin upon himself? Then my sin is gone.
c. Did he pay the debt I owed to the law and justice of God? Then my debt is paid, nothing more is owed. Yes, it is true!
“Jesus paid it all, all the debt I owed,
Sin had left a crimson stain:
He washed it white as snow.”
Since my debt has been paid, since in the Person of my Substitute, Jesus Christ, I have paid all that God’s law required, God cannot require me to pay more.
“Payment God cannot twice demand,
First at my bleeding Surety’s hand,
And then again at mine.”
We are partakers of Christ - The Sin-Atoning Substitute.
2. Moreover, being partakers of Christ, his righteousness has become ours.
He is “The Lord our Righteousness.” Not only are we freed from sin by his atoning sacrifice, we are rendered righteous before God by Christ’s obedience in life as our responsible Representative. Christ, having obeyed God’s law as our Representative and fulfilling all righteousness for us, we have obeyed God’s law in him, fulfilling all righteousness. There is nothing which God in his law requires us to do which we have not done in Christ, our Surety.
“With his spotless garments on,
We’re as holy as the Holy One!”
3. Being thus partakers of Christ, we are “accepted in the beloved.”
Is Christ accepted of God? Is he fully, perfectly, completely, eternally accepted? Even so, all who are partakers of Christ are accepted in him. God looks upon all his people, all true believers in Christ, and says, “These are my beloved sons, in whom I am well pleased.”
“Near, so very near to God, Nearer we cannot be,
For in the Person of His Son, We’re as near as He!”
Can you grasp what Paul is saying? “We are made partakers of Christ!”
B. We are partakers of Christ by faith in this sense too - We live and feed upon Him.
His life is our daily bread. It sustains our souls. His blood is the wine that makes our hearts glad. He is our meat and drink (John 6:53-56).
C. Still there is a deeper spiritual lesson for us. Our union with Christ is so real, so constant, so vital that He is our Life -- To be a partaker of Christ is to derive life from him constantly.
1. We live upon Christ, just as the walls of a building stand upon the foundation.
2. We derive life from Christ, just like the branches derive life from the vine.
3. We are partakers of Christ, just as the wife is a partaker of her husband.
4. We are partakers of Christ, just like the members of my body are partakers of my heart and my head.
D. We are so really and truly one with Christ that we are partakers of him in his destiny.
When he comes again, his holy ones shall come with him. The fact that he is risen from the dead is the earnest and promise of our resurrection. At the day of his appearing, we shall rise and participate in the fruition of his mediatorial work.
1. We will judge men and angels with Christ.
2. We will join Christ in the destruction of his foes.
3. We will join Christ in the marriage of the Lamb.
4. We will stand with Christ before his Father’s throne.
5. We will inherit the glory he has inherited as our Mediator (John 17:22).
Spurgeon said, “All right and all might, all than can extol or delight, all that forever and ever shall contribute to the glory of Christ, shall be shared by all the faithful, for we are partakers not only with him, but of him - of Christ - therefore of all the surroundings of glory and honor that shall belong to him.”
E. This is all the work of divine grace. Our text says that “We are MADE partakers of Christ” (1 Cor. 1:30).
God himself has made us to be partakers of Christ his Son by the work of his almighty grace.
1. He put us in Christ in election.
2. He infused the life of Christ is us in regeneration.
3. He made us partakers of Christ by faith.
“We are made partakers of Christ.” Truly this is an astonishingly glorious privilege bestowed upon us by the grace of God.
II. Secondly, we are now confronted with A Solemn and Searching Question for All Professors.
“We are made partakers of Christ…IF…” Follow with me. I want each of us to honestly consider this question. Are we made partakers of Christ?
This much I know…Many think that they are partakers of Christ who are not. My friends, there is nothing more to be dreaded than a false faith, a supposed righteousness, a counterfeit justification, and a spurious hope. It is not enough to be a professor of Christ, a servant of Christ, a preacher of Christ, or an apostle of Christ. We must be partakers of Christ.
A. There is a false faith by which multitudes of every age are deceived.
Do not ever forget that in the church of Christ there have always been people like Lot’s wife, Ananias and Sapphira, Demas and Diotrophes, Judas and Alexander. May God deliver us from a false faith. False faith is not easily detected. It gives peace when there is no peace. It gives security and assurance to men who are set in slippery places. And it is most dangerous.
1. False faith may be greatly enlightened and knowledgeable about gospel truth (Heb. 6:4).
2. False faith may excite the affections and emotions of your heart - (Stony Ground Hearers).
3. False faith will reform the outward life - (The Pharisees).
4. False faith speaks well of Christ - (The Jews).
5. False faith confesses sin - (Saul).
6. False faith may humble itself in sackcloth and ashes - (Ahab).
7. False faith may earnestly repent - (Esau, Judas).
8. False faith may diligently perform religious works - (Jews, Pharisees).
9. False faith may be very charitable and generous - (Ananias).
10. False faith may tremble at the Word of God - (Felix).
11. False faith may have many religious experiences - (Heb. 6:1-4).
12. False faith may enjoy great religious privileges - (Lot’s wife).
13. False faith may preach, perform miracles, and cast out demons (Matt. 7:23).
14. False faith may attain high office in the church - (Diotrephes).
15. False faith may walk in the company of great preachers (Demas).
16. False faith may give peace and carnal security - (The five foolish virgins).
17. False faith may even hold out and persevere until the day of Judgment (Matt. 7:22-23).
B. Looking out over this congregation, I realize that there are great difference among us.
I am not and would not be the judge of any. Every man must stand or fall before the Lord. But I am sure that there are many differences among us.
1. Perhaps, some of you are mere hearers of the Word.
You hear the Word of God, more or less, indifferently. How terrible it will be for you in the day of judgment! You provoke God to wrath by rejecting the gospel.
2. Probably, there are others among us who only profess faith in Christ.
I remind you, it is one thing to profess to be a partaker of Christ, and quite another thing to be a partaker of Christ. For many, I am afraid their profession is no more than a fine dress for a dead corpse that makes the road to hell more attractive. God save us from a lifeless profession!
We have been baptized; but were we ever baptized into Christ? We eat the bread and drink the wine of the Lord’s Table every week; but do we feed upon Christ? We come to the communion service; but do we commune with Christ? Our names are written on our church book; but are they written in glory?
a. Some are only temporary followers of Christ.
For now, to all outward appearance, it seems that they are real believers. But temporary faith only lasts so long. Those who have temporary faith will one day cease to be numbered with the people of God.
b. Some may even persevere to the very end of their days with a false profession.
No eye can discern the difference between a true believer and a false professor, except the eye of God. There is a way which seems right to a man. It looks very much like the way of life, but the end thereof is death.
3. Yet, I am confident that there are many here who are true believers.
There are few in this world, few indeed; but in this small group, there are many, unless I am mistaken, who like Enoch of old truly walk with God by faith.
You have gotten beyond hearing the preacher - You listen for the Shepherd’s voice. You have much more than a mere profession of faith, you live upon Christ. Christ in you is the hope of glory. You have seen his glory. You have experienced his grace. To you Christ is not just a person in your life; and he is not just the most important part of your life. Christ is your Life. You say with Paul, "Christ is all."
Are we made partakers of Christ, or are we not?
III. Here is An Unerring Test For Us All.
What evidence can be produced to settle this matter? Are we, or are we not, savingly joined to the Son of God? Hear what Paul says - “We are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end.”
That person, and that person alone, is a partaker of Christ who holds fast the faith he had at the beginning. He stands upon the same foundation in his old age as he did in his youth. He has the same hope, the same faith, the same confidence that he had at the start (1 Cor. 15:2; Col. 1:23; Heb. 3:6; 11:1-2).
A. What was the beginning of our confidence?
The beginning of my confidence was just this: -- I came to Christ as a guilty, helpless sinner, trusting him as my Lord and Savior.
1. I was an empty-handed beggar, looking to him for everything.
2. I had no merit, so I trusted his merit.
3. I had no virtue, so I trusted his virtue.
4. I had no righteousness, so I trusted his righteousness.
5. I had no strength, so I trusted his strength.
As a guilty, vile, wretched, hell-deserving sinner, I simply took God at his Word, trusting myself into the hands of Christ, believing that by his blood, God would save even me. We come to him in:
6. The beginning of my confidence, the foundation of my soul’s hope was Christ alone. I neither needed nor desired anything but Christ.
B. Is there any correspondence between the beginning and the present confidence of our souls?
I can only speak for myself. I am no more today than I was at the beginning. I am still nothing but a vile sinner and Jesus Christ is yet everything I need or desire.
I am a poor sinner and nothing at all,
But Jesus Christ is my all and all.
1. Christ is all my pardon.
2. Christ is all my righteousness.
3. Christ is all my strength.
4. Christ is all my hope.
5. Christ is all my acceptance.
1. O weary sinner, come just as you are, come and welcome to Jesus.
2. Children of God, let us never be turned away from this foundation - Keep on coming to Christ as guilty sinners, trusting him alone.