Man Watching the Sunset From a Pier

Hebrews 10:32-33 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

32 But remember the former days in which, after you were enlightened, you endured a great struggle with sufferings, 33 partly by being made a public spectacle[1] through reproaches and tribulations, and partly by becoming sharers with those who were so treated.

Some Christians who have never suffered real affliction for their faith will believe that it is no big deal. The moment that they are abused tormented and made a public spectacle for their sharing the Word of God or taking a stand on a Bible principle, their faith will be truly challenged. It is important to remember Jesus words, “the one who endures to the end will be saved.” (Matt. 24:23) Jesus, in heaven, before he “became flesh and dwelt among us” John 1:14), before he himself suffered and offered his life as a ransom, he was well aware of other human men, who displayed such magnificent faith. In fact, Chapter 11 of the book of Hebrews speaks of many of these, whose lives were examples of true faith. Faith is not just something that pre-Christians and early Christians displayed; it is very much needed today. Ask yourself, how strong is your faith in the Almighty God and the written Word of God, the Bible?

It is very easy to say I have faith when your faith has never been challenged. Or, to say, “I believe God will protect men in difficult times.” You need to know that God does not put a hedge up around you to prevent torture, pain, and suffering. He has allowed man to dominate man for a time, and all humans are subject to their wicked imperfection, even Christians. Would you lose your business that you spent decades growing because you refused to make a cake for a wedding of two homosexuals when the liberal, socialist, progressive government threatens to shut you down? Could you spend years in a prison camp because you refuse to denounce God?

It was about the year 56 C.E. that Paul wrote, “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” (Rom. 15:4) A year earlier in 55 C.E. Paul had written to the Corinthians Christians, saying, “Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.” (1 Cor. 10:11) How are we to understand these texts and what hope has been offered us today in our understanding of the things that were written in the Hebrew Old Testament?

This statement [Rom. 15:4], along with its parallel written to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 10:6, 11), establishes a sound hermeneutical footing for the new covenant believer’s use of the Old Testament Scriptures. Here, Paul says they were written to teach us. In the Corinthian parallel, he says they were written “as warnings for us.” Obviously, they were written for both those reasons, and more. It is a shame that the modern Christian knows so little of the Old Testament. We forget (many contemporary Christians have never realized) that the church was founded on the Old Testament, and functioned for many years that way prior to the canonization of the apostles’ writings. Paul did not set out to write the “other half” of the Bible. The purpose of his epistles to the churches was to reveal the mystery which was contained in the Old Testament—the revelation that God was making one new man out of both Jews and Gentiles (Eph. 2:15). To do that, he is continually quoting the Old Testament and explaining its meaning and relevance in light of the ministry and death and resurrection of Christ.

The old witticism, “If the King James Bible was good enough for Paul, it’s good enough for me!” has an embarrassing element of truth to it in terms of the perceptions of many Christians. It was not Paul’s intent to teach new theology, but to reveal and explain the theology that had been unseen and unheard by the blind eyes and deaf ears of Israel for centuries.

In both verse 4 here, and in 1 Corinthians 10:11, Paul gives an eschatological reason for our need to understand the Old Testament Scriptures. Here, it is so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope for the future. In the Corinthians passage, Paul says the Old Testament contains warnings for us “on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come.” In both passages, his point is this: there are bigger things happening in God’s plan for the ages than our relatively small concerns of the moment. Eating and drinking (Romans) and yielding to temptation to sin (Corinthians) are flashing billboards designed to take our eyes off the road to heaven. When we get distracted by insignificant matters, and stop serving the larger purposes of God by maintaining the unity of the body of Christ, we have left the will of God.[2]

10:11. Paul again exhorted the Corinthians that the sins and judgments in the wilderness happened to them as examples and were written down in the Old Testament as warnings for Christian believers. This does not mean that the only reason the Israelites experienced these things was to provide an example for later Christians, but it does mean that in God’s providence this was part of the reason. Similarly, these events were not recorded just for the sake of the New Testament church; the Old Testament covenant people of God also benefited from these lessons. Followers of Christ are always in danger of taking their Christian experiences of grace as a license for sin (cf. Rom. 6:1), but the Old Testament example prohibits such license.

The apostle qualified his description of followers of Christ by calling them those on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come. The Corinthians lived after the earthly ministry of Christ, and therefore lived in the “latter days” or fulfillment of the ages. The writer of Hebrews said explicitly what Paul implied by this reference: the responsibilities of those in the age of Christ are even greater than those of the Old Testament age (Heb. 10:26–30).[3]

The Word of God Builds Faith

The very first Christians who were disciples of Christ had a bit of an advantage, as they traveled with Christ, they heard and saw him. They were assured that he was the Messiah by the things they saw and heard, such as his healing the sick, opening blind eyes, raising the dead, Jesus himself being raised from the dead. These ones had an opportunity to see the person that could deliver on the promises that have been made to us. These ones had faith based on things that they literally saw, namely, real things that happened.

FEARLESSWe today have that written record in the Word of God, the Bible. We have the life and ministry of Christ while he was on earth. We have a record of what the apostles did after the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ. We know that a Christian’s faith is based on truth and real things that were seen and heard, which actually occurred.  We know, and the early Christians knew, that they were and we are condemned to death because of the sin of Adam, as Paul explains, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men,  because all sinned.” (Rom. 5:12) We know why God created the heavens and the earth, placing man and woman in the Garden of Eden. (Genesis 1-2) We know what issues were raised by Satan in Eden. (Gen. 3:1-6) We know the issues raised by Satan at the beginning of the book of Job. (Job 1:6-11; 2:4-5) We have the history of man and God’s people over a 4,000-year period. Christians know why we grow old, get sick, and die but they also know that life is a gift from God through Jesus Christ our Lord. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift[4] of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 6:23) Paul and early Christians knew these things and believed them to the point that they would be martyred before forsaking them. Do you today in the 21st century? If you do; then, you have faith in the written Word of God.

Many Christian religious leaders in the world today do not believe these things to be true. Many of these so-called Christian religious leaders have abandoned their faith. They believe the Word of God is a book by men, which they analyze with a form of interpretation known as historical-critical biblical interpretation.[5] It ends up that they say Moses did not write the first five books of the Bible, Isaiah did not write the book of Isaiah, Daniel did not write the book of Daniel, Jesus did not say all the things in the Gospels.[6] Moreover, they say that the originals contained mistakes, errors, and contradictions. This biblical higher criticism in the extreme. This form of biblical interpretation, higher criticism, is being taught at almost all seminaries today and is seriously flawed, and its assault on the Bible has been unsuccessful, in their effort to demonstrate that the Bible is not the Word of God. This form of biblical criticism got its start during the 18th and 19th centuries. Because seminaries have adopted this around the world, many so-called leaders of the church espouse criticism of God’s Word in one breath while saying they have faith in the next. The impact on churchgoers has been tremendous.

   Jesus said: “It is unavoidable that causes for stumbling should come. Nevertheless, woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea than for him to stumble one of these little ones.” (Lu 17:1-2) How many good Christians have lost their faith by faithless Christian religious leaders! In the end, they will pay for stumbling such ones!

True Christians will maintain and grow their faith in the Word of God. They build their faith through personal Bible study and research. If their pastor, elder, priest, or minister casts any doubt on the trustworthiness of Scripture; the true Christian will find out what his or her church’s position on Inerrancy of Scripture[7] is and if it is not full or absolute inerrancy of Scripture,[8] he or she leave that church.

Hebrews 10:26-27 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

26 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the accurate knowledge[9] of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.

The true Christian will maintain and grow their faith in God’s Word. Some though will renounce their faith because they let doubts set in, which frees them up to the point of sinning. Then they go on sinning deliberately even after receiving the accurate knowledge of the truth. Christ’s sacrifice only covers Adamic sin, human weakness and imperfection, it does not cover the deliberate, willful, unrepentant, living in sin. His sacrifice does not redeem such ones. These ones have thrown their faith to the wind and have rejected God, and have moved over to the point of being beyond repentance. There is a coming judgment day and this is the only thing we should truly fear in life. The apostle Paul tells us, “For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away,[10] it is impossible to renew[11] them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put him to public shame.” – Hebrews 6:4-6.

Examining Your Faith

Is your faith genuine? Is it the kind of faith that shrinks every time there is a difficulty in your life? Or, is your faith strong, having been built on deep research into God’s Word? Is your faith strong enough to carry you through to the end? – Matthew 24:13.

The apostle Paul, writing to the Philippians, said, “The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Phil. 4:9) This begs many questions: What did these early Christians learn from Paul? What had they heard? What had they saw? What had they received? They saw the apostle Paul as the second-best example of faith only after Jesus Christ himself. They knew Paul was willing to go through all types of sufferings, persecution, trials and even face death on many occasions without shrinking back. They read letters that spoke of his experiences, they heard oral accounts of his suffering for the good news. They knew that Paul believed in Jesus Christ and that he proclaimed that Christ, the king of the kingdom, had given his life saving mankind.

These are just a few of the things that the Christians in the Philippian congregation and around the then known world knew of the apostle Paul. It was through his letters and many personal associations that Paul helped to grow the faith of others in the first-century. They knew the message that Paul proclaimed and that he lived and died by following the very counsel he offered them. These Christians learned and received and heard and seen and accept the life and ministry of Christ and the apostle Paul, as well as the truth of God’s Word. Now what? Will you reader of this book and faithful follower of Christ practice these same things? If you are saying yes, with what result? Yes, it will be as Paul said, “the God of peace will be with you.”

How can “the God of peace will be with you” today? First, Jesus said that we are to not be a part of the world, i.e., humanity that is alienated from God. Paul cleared that up for us. We are not to isolate ourselves from the world (depraved humanity) but rather to use it to a limited degree to carry out the will of the Father. Yes, Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Yes, the “the God of peace will be with” those doing the will of the Father. (Matt. 7:21-23) The father expects exclusive devotion, meaning that we serve him with our whole mind, soul, and strength. This will evidence our genuine love and faith. What is the primary will of the Father? It is the great commission to proclaim the Word of God, to teach the Word of God, and to make disciples. (Matt. 24:15; 28:19-20; Ac 1:8) Thus, we are to love our neighbor, that is, our fellow man or woman enough to help them become a disciple of Christ Jesus. Being a Christian means that we are Christlike in all that we do. In order to truly walk in the footsteps of Christ, we must have an accurate and full knowledge of his life and ministry. We will want to copy him in everything he did, meaning that deep Bible study is paramount.

[1] Lit were exposed as in a theater

[2] Kenneth Boa and William Kruidenier, Romans, vol. 6, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 431.

[3] Richard L. Pratt Jr, I & II Corinthians, vol. 7, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 165.

[4] Lit gracious gift; Gr kharisma

[5] See BASICS OF BIBLICAL CRITICISM: Helpful or Harmful? [Second Edition] (ISBN-13: 978-0692319857)

[6] DEFENDING OLD TESTAMENT AUTHORSHIP: The Word of God Is Authentic and True by Edward D. Andrews

[7] Inerrancy of the Scripture (Monday, October 9, 2017)

[8] Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy with Exposition (Monday, October 9, 2017)

[9] Epignosis is a strengthened or intensified form of gnosis (epi, meaning “additional”), meaning, “true,” “real,” “full,” “complete” or “accurate,” depending upon the context. Paul and Peter alone use epignosis.

[10] Fall Away, Forsake, or Turn Away: (Gr. parapiptō) The sense of parapiptō is to fall away or forsake the truth.–Heb. 6:6.

[11] Renew, Restore, or Bring Back: (Gr. anakainizō) The sense of anakainizō is to cause change to a previous state, to start anew.–Heb. 6:6.