Therefore… If… Remember…
Introduction: Throughout this series of studies in Hebrews, I’ve felt like a mechanic who can hold up a carburetor and take it apart and put it together and explain in very well. And he can do the same with the radiator. And with the crankshaft. But the poor man can’t figure out how the whole thing is assembled. In other words, I feel like I can deal with the various components of Hebrews with some level of competence, but I’ve struggled to put it all together in an overall structure. I suggested an outline to the book of Hebrews earlier in the series, but let me suggest another one I’ve been thinking about. Most of the commentators I’ve consulted see a dividing point in 10:19. This is the primary division in the book. The first ten and a half chapters of Hebrews are theological, from Hebrews 1:1 to Hebrews 10:18. The beginning with Hebrews 10:19 and continuing until the end of the book, there are a lot of practical exhortations and instructions. This is a typical structure for the New Testament letters. The first half or so of many of our New Testament epistles is full of doctrine and truth; and the last half or so of them is devoted to the kind of life we should live if we embrace that truth. So based on that let me suggest a very simple outline.
- 1. Christ is greater than anyone (Hebrews 1:1 – 10:18). He is greater than the prophets (1:1-4), greater than the angels (Hebrews 1:5 – 2:18), greater than Moses (3), greater than Joshua (4), and greater than Aaron and the high priests of Israel (5:1 – 10:18).
- 2. Christianity is greater than anything (Hebrews 10:19 – 13:25). The Christian life is superior to any other kind of life that can be imagined. The first part of Hebrews has to do with Christ, and the last part has to do with Christianity—or the kind of life to be lived out by those who are Christian.
So that’s the part we’re coming to tonight. Let’s begin with Hebrews 10:19 and work our way to the end of this chapter. There are three paragraphs in Hebrews 10b, and each begin with a helpful word. Notice the first word of verse 19: “Therefore.” The first word of verse 26: “If.” And the first work of verse 32: “Remember.” That’s our outline for the last half of this chapter: Therefore… If… Remember….
1. “Therefore…” (Hebrews 10:19-25)
Verse 19: Therefore, brothers and sisters, since…. And now he summarizes his first ten chapters: Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, His body, and since we have a great high priest over the house of God…
Therefore, let us… And as I said this morning, there are three “let us” statements. Now, let me stop there. Now let me stop there and show you something else in the New Testament. Keeping your place in Hebrews 10, let’s turn to some other passages:
- Romans 5:1-5
- Galatians 5:5-6
- 1 Corinthians 13:13
- Colossians 1:3-5
- 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3
In all these passages and more, Christian character is summarized in the triad of faith, hope, and love. In other words, if you were a car with a dashboard, you would have three dials or gauges with a needle indicator for these qualities.
- Faith – are you trusting God with the cries and crises of life?
- Hope – are you optimistic about the future and have a positive attitude about what’s ahead?
- Love – are you treating others as you wish to be treated?
Now, let’s go back to Hebrews 10. The three “let us” statements here correspond to these same three qualities—faith, hope, and love. The first is faith.
Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. (As we’ll see next week, he’s going to develop this in chapter 11, which we call the “Faith Chapter” of the Bible.) The next “Let us…” statement centers on hope: Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. And the last has to do with love: And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
2. “If…” (Hebrews 10:26-31)
The verses here are another of the warnings that characterize the book of Hebrews, and these verses are some of the most somber of the Bible. Look at verse 26:If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who aid, “It is mine to avenge, I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge His people.” It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
These words are plain enough to need little explanation, but they present a side of the New Testament message that is almost wholly neglected today. It reminds me of something Vance Havner said once. Someone complained to him after he had preached on the subject of hell. They said, “You shouldn’t be preaching about hell. You should preach the meek and mild message of Jesus.” Havner replied, “Where do you think I got my information about hell?” We have lost the concept of the fear of God in our society, but the writer of Hebrews suffered no such deficiency. There are five different warning passages like this in his book, and he pulls no punches in saying, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
3. “Remember…” (Hebrews 10:32-39)
Having spoken so severely, now the writer changes tone a little, sympathizes with the pressures being faced by his readers, and encourages them to persevere. In this passage he gives us some background that helps us understand the occasion for the writing of this book.Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured a great conflict full of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you know that you yourselves had better hand lasting possessions. So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised, for “In just a little while, He who is coming will come and will not delay.” And, “But My righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.” But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.
In some ways, verse 36 could be considered the key verse to the book—You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.
Notice the reference to the Second Coming in verse 37, and the call to a life of faith in verse 38, which is the fourth time the Bible gives us the phrase, “The just will live by faith.” We often grow discouraged. Perhaps you’re discouraged now, by persecution, by family problems, by financial pressure, by workload, by burnout. The book of Hebrews is written just for you, and especially chapter 10. In just a little while, He who is coming will come and will not delay… But My righteous one will live by faith. We need to persevere so that having done the will of God we will receive what He has promised.