NT Fire Starters – Day 305: Hebrews 3:1-19
READ: Hebrews 3:1-19
THINK: Perhaps you’ve heard the term “backsliding” used in a spiritual context. The theological term is “apostasy” (Gk apostasia). Hebrews 3:12 uses the verb form (aphistÃ«mi), which literally means “standing away” from God, implying spiritual rebellion or abandoning one’s belief and experience with Christ. While this is a danger for all who turn away from the faith, ultimate apostasy resulting in the hopeless condition described in this chapter doesn’t occur without constant, deliberate resistance against the Holy Spirit. Just as we aren’t saved by our own efforts (Ephesians 2:8-9), neither are we fully condemned to separation from God by our actions alone. People are saved by accepting God’s grace and putting faith in Christ; and people are condemned by rejecting (or not accepting) God’s grace and refusing to put faith in Christ.
RESPOND: Who are the “holy brothers” to whom this letter was originally written? (See 3:1 note.) Why did the author encourage them to focus on Jesus and His faithfulness? What are the implications of Jesus being “the apostle and high priest”? (See 3:3 note.) How do people prove to be “God’s house”? (See 3:6 note.) As followers of Christ, why is it crucial that “we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast” (v. 6)? In what way is it apparent that the writer of Hebrews regards Scripture (God’s written Word) as the words of God rather than mere human words? (See 3:7 note.) In what way are verses 7-11 a warning for Christ’s followers? (See 3:7-11 note.) What does it mean to “harden your hearts” (v. 8), and why is this such a serious offense against God? (See 3:8 note.) What are the implications and consequences of turning “away from the living God” (v. 12)? (See article on Individual Apostasy, p. 1812.) Why is it important for Christians to “encourage one another daily”? (See 3:13 note.) In what way were the experiences of the Old Testament Israelites an example and warning to us? (See 3:16 note.) What do their experiences reveal about the possibility of people forfeiting their destiny and reward with Christ because they fail to remain faithfully devoted to Him? (See 3:18 note.)
PRAY: Ask God to keep you hopeful and courageous in your devotion to Christ. Pray that you always take seriously the challenges and warnings of God’s Word.
ACT: Make a specific point to encourage one or more fellow Christians today. Send a note, call, e-mail or text message to these friends to see how they’re doing, to commend them for something or to let them know you’re praying for them. If you sense that God’s Spirit has warned you – through God’s Word or prayer – to change your behavior in some way or to take specific action, don’t hesitate any longer. Do what God expects and trust Him with the rest.