Responsibilities

DSC_7291-Edit

Introduction

Johnny could hear his heart pounding in his ears as beads of sweat puddled on his brow. He sat in the cockpit of a Cessna staring at all the gauges, dials, levers, and buttons. It was only his second time training behind the controls of this bird, but the medical emergency with his flight instructor promoted him from trainee to pilot. It was his responsibility now to listen to the voices of instruction from ground control. It was on his shoulders to land this craft safely and get his instructor the medical attention he needed. In a few minutes, all the time he had spent reading old flight manuals as a child and dreaming of flight would be time well spent.

Have you ever been promoted without fully understanding the responsibilities and roles? Okay, more than likely it was not in the cockpit of a plane hurtling toward earth, but have you?   It may have been a permanent position or maybe filling in for the day. Maybe you didn’t realize all the responsibilities that came with the job, and you felt as though you were dancing with two left feet. All the while hoping no one would notice, right?  Now these are physical illustrations, but let’s turn to the spiritual.

What responsibilities follow a person after coming to faith in Christ? Whether you realize it or not, if you are a believer in Christ, you have received a promotion in position. The Apostle Paul writes, “And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:” (KJV Eph 2:6). So, what are our responsibilities as believers? Although the answer can be quite lengthy, today’s teaching will focus on three key responsibilities of the redeemed due to the relationship provided by Christ’s sacrifice.

In Hebrews 10:19-25, the author gives three exhortations after explaining the new relationship with God the Father through Christ’s atonement. This passage is laden with inferences to the Old Testament sacrificial system’s rituals, which were fulfilled in the sacrifice of Jesus of Nazareth. The author begins with addressing how believers have access to a relationship with God through the sacrifice of Christ (verses 19-21). The author then turns his attention to three appeals (verses 22-25), which begin with the phrase “Let us” (v.22, 23, 24). The first exhortation states, “Let us draw near…” (KJV Heb 10:22) This appeal deals with the obligation to faith. The second exhortation states, “Let us hold fast…” (KJV Heb 10:23) This exhortation relates to the believer’s commitment to hope. Finally, the author writes, “Let us consider…”. The appeal corresponds to the command of love. These appeals are all the responsibilities of the redeemed.

 

Relationship (vv. 19-21)

First, the believer’s actions should spring forth from their knowledge of their position (or reconciled relation) with God. Many in American evangelicalism attempt to divorce doctrine from deeds. All too often people only care for the pragmatic. They turn to practices over correct theological reflection. However, theology should be the foundation of our actions. Proper thought leads to appropriate actions!

In verses 19-20, the author utilizes imagery from Jewish temple worship. In the temple, the worshipper was separated from the presence of God, which dwelt in the holy of holies behind a veil. Only once a year the High Priest was allowed into this sacred area to offer up atonement for the sins of the people. If he had not prepared properly, he would be struck dead before the holiness of God. One can only imagine the fear and trepidation this chosen individual experienced. All the while, the worshippers outside looked on in anxiety to see if God would accept their devotions.

On the other hand, Christians are told they can come with “boldness …into the holiest by the blood of Jesus” (KJV Heb 10:19). In the original Greek, the word translated boldness carries the meaning of confidence. Much like when a child comes before a parent to ask for something they need. There is no veil which separates a believer and the Father’s throne of mercy. Unlike those under the Old Testament, believers have access to a relationship with God through the sacrifice of Christ.

This concept was extremely radical for the Jewish believers who were familiar with the old sacrificial system. The Christian’s privileged access is only “…by a new and living way, which he [Jesus] hath consecrated for us…” (KJV Heb 10:19). What does this phrase mean? The word translated new here carries the imagery of a freshly slain sacrifice on the altar. But this sacrifice is more than “fresh” He is alive and well! Yes, Jesus was slain, but He resurrected and ascended to the right hand of the Father to make intercession on our behalf. This brings up the next point.

Often, believers tend to imagine Christ as distant, but He is not. Although we cannot physically witness Christ, he is still present with the Church. The author reminds his audience, “And having an high priest over the house of God;” (v. 21). We can rest assured He is ever present to help us with our responsibilities as believers!

In the conclusion of this section, it must be mentioned before moving onto the pragmatic portion of the passage. The author reveals all of this is possible “by his blood” (v.19). He equates the torn temple veil as “his [Jesus’] flesh” (v.21). How can we, if we believe this to be true, do any other than the following exhortations?

Responsibilities (vv. 22-25)

The belief (or doctrine) in this radical reconciliation with God ought to compel true believers to relish in the following duties. Due to the relationship provided by Christ’s sacrifice, believers should resolve to react in faith, hope, and love. Now, what are the believer’s responsibilities?

Let Us Draw Near

First, the author encourages his audience to draw near in faith. He writes, “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.” (KJV Heb 10:22). There are four conditions for “drawing near” contained in this verse.

The first is a “true heart”. Other translations render the word true as pure or sincere. The NASB is one of the translations, which renders this word as sincere. The interesting fact about the word sincere is that it comes from two words that mean “without wax.” In ancient days, some potters would fill the defects in their pottery with wax and passed them off as good. But when the buyer placed it in the oven the defects would be revealed as the wax oozed out of the cracks and crevices; revealing the vessels were useless. The pure clay vessels would have the selling point of being “without wax” or sincere. In other words, there is no room for falsehood in the heart of a believer.

Second, to draw near to God one must come “…in full assurance of faith…”. The author later writes, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (KJV Heb 11:6). God must be approached by faith in Christ alone.

The final two conditions are “…having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.” The consolidation of the two is because the author alludes to the old Levitical priestly preparation. They would be sprinkled with blood and washed with pure water. Some scholars argue the water could be alluding to water baptism, which should only come after conversion.

How can we apply this today? We can draw near to God through times of personal prayer. The believer can come before God by simply taking the time to read and feast on the Word of God on a daily schedule. We have access to Almighty God. Have you sought God lately?

Let Us Hold Fast

Secondly, we have the responsibility of holding onto our hope. The author writes, “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)” (KJV Heb 10:23). The NASB renders “profession of faith” as “confession of our hope”.  This profession/confession is much like when one confesses their love through wedding vows. The sign of the confession of faith for the Christian is water baptism. It states, “I belong to Jesus…I will follow Him.” This point was crucial because the original audience was facing tremendous persecution, which was causing some to turn from the faith.  However, we can remain faithful because He is faithful (v. 23).

We can apply this in our lives today! We see all around us the swelling of persecution. We must hold fast our profession of faith. The Gospel of Mark records Jesus saying, “Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels” (KJV Mk 8:38).

Let Us Consider

Finally, the author of Hebrews appeals to the believer’s responsibility to love. The author states, “And let us consider one another to provoke unto to love and to good works:” (KJV Heb 11:24). The exhortation is to stimulate others to love and good deeds. How can this be done? The author is adamant in urging them to continue assembling. The Christian life is one of community.

Why is church attendance important? Attendance is not only necessary for personal benefits but also because others are depending on you being present. When you decide not to attend something gets left undone. We are all members of the Body of Christ. We need one another. We should consider the role we play in the spiritual growth of others. We should consider others are needing us to be accountable. Believers have a responsibility to one another! Especially, as Christ’s return hastens.

How can this apply to our lives? Before we miss, consider the people who need you in the assembly. You may think that you are not missed, but remember all have a role to fill. What will be the repercussions of your spot in the pew being empty?  Christians do life together!

Conclusion

In conclusion, the responsibilities of having a relationship with God can be summed up to three key areas of faith, hope, and love. The first area of faith is very personal, but springing from it is a very public display of hope and ministry of love. All three responsibilities of drawing near, holding fast, and considering one another are a result of the great reconciling sacrifice of Jesus.


 

A Willing Heart

Moses spoke to all the congregation of the sons of Israel, saying, “This is the thing which the Lord has commanded, saying, ‘Take from among you a contribution to the Lord; whoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it as the Lord’s ]contribution: gold, silver, and bronze, …. 21 Everyone whose heart stirred him and everyone whose spirit moved him came and brought the Lord’s contribution for the work of the tent of meeting and for all its service and for the holy garments. 22 Then all whose hearts moved them, both men and women, came and brought brooches and earrings and signet rings and bracelets, all articles of gold; so did every man who presented an offering of gold to the Lord.(NASB, Exodus 35: 4-5;21-22)

The topic of giving can be a sensitive subject for many people. This is probably due to the fact we hold our treasures close to our heart. We can be hesitant to part with “our stuff” because they bring a sense of security with possessing them; even though, in reality it a false security.

Often, God calls us to give “our stuff” away, but He wants us to be willing to part with temporal means. He wants us to trust in Him to provide for our needs. He desires to be our security net. We need to be reminded that God doesn’t need “our stuff”! He only asks us to participate because He desire our hearts. Remember the saying of Jesus, “ for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (NASB, Mt. 6:21). Pray today that your heart will be willing to sacrificially give to the work of God.

Peace of the Rock

Image47 Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like:48 He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.49 But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great. ((Luke 6:47-49 KJV))

I have a confession to make. I occasionally suffer from astraphobia or for those who speak English that means fear of thunderstorms. This fear goes back to my early childhood. I know God does not desire this (2 Timothy 1:7), but in my humanity this is something with which I struggle. I must admit God has helped me tremendously with this phobia.

I remember the fear and dread that would swell in my young heart when I would see a storm gathering on the horizon; its angry clouds swirling with threatening streaks of lightning. As I write this, I can still recall the paralyzing fear that would grip me. The pounding of thunder and the howl of the wind would send shivers up my spine. I remember retreating into the safety of my mothers arms. I wanted to avoid the storms all together but I had to ride them out.

As I have matured, I have often thought of these perilous time I have faced and the Lord has seen me through every one. I do not get afraid as much about thunderstorms as I used too, but I still have to face storms of a different sort. We all face them. Pain, heartache, financial hardships, sickness, and death to name a few. I have seen people go through storms which I thought would destroy their faith but they remained after all had passed over. Then I have seen those that have an appearance of sturdiness topple because they neglected spiritual truths in God’s Word.

In today’s reading, we see a comparison of two types of people. We have a comparison of a person who hears and obeys Jesus teachings and one who hears and disobeys. Jesus likens them to two men building houses. I would like to point out there similarities first, both heard the word, both built houses, and both faced storms. (It doesn’t matter who you are the trials of life do not discriminate.)The two homes were probably built from the same types of material. They both probably looked very impressive to the average eye, but the ground work made the difference in the end. Only the house with foundations upon the rock stood tall after the storm winds had ceased.

Upon closer inspection the wise builder (the hearer and doer of the word) dug deep into the claims of Christ. He let the Word of God seep deep within the crevices of his heart. He hid God’s Word in his heart and it came out in his walk! In Psalm 119, David said, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” Our body makes no action that does not begin with a thought in our mind. This is why we are to renew our minds with the word of God (Romans 12:1,2). This builder talked the talk and walked the walk!

He not only “dug deep” but he also laid a foundation upon solid rock. Our foundation is Jesus Christ (1 Corinthian 3:11)! He knew that all that surrounded the home would possibly wash away, except the rock. When he faced a great storm it was the rock which kept the house from being shaken! Our relationship with Jesus does not make us exempt from the storms of life. We all have to run against the wind in life, but God’s Word will not ever fail us!

Jesus not only speaks peace but he is our peace(Ephesians 2:14)! He is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). In John 16:33, He said “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” Jesus desires us to have peace amidst the tempests of trials. He has not given us the spirit of fear (2Timothy 1:7).

Sometimes Jesus takes us into storms of testing. The following is a story of where Jesus led his disciples into a storm:

And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side. And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships. And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith? And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?

(Mark 4:35-41 KJV)

Jesus had told the disciples they would reach the other side before the journey had begun. Even though it may appear that Jesus does not care about your storm, he is still in the boat with you! The passage says he was in the “hinder part of the ship”, that is where the captain steers the vessel. You can rest assured in your storms the Captain is still steering your ship! It may not seem like it at the moment, but God is still in control! He lets us experience storms, often to show His mighty power! If it had not been for the Lord where would we be?

This same storm happened right before they reached the country of the Gadarenes. If you remember this is where “Legion” was cast out of a man into the swine. Could it be that the storm was trying to hinder this marvelous deliverance? I believe so. Many of the storms come right before a major victory, so don’t give up. Dig deep!

The unwise builder (hearer but not a doer) faced a storm of the same magnitude as the wise builder but his house collapsed. His life was built on the shifting sand of the world. He had not heeded Christ’s message, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” The ruin was a terrific loss of everything he held dear. I am sure he had little comfort or peace, while the other builder was not even shaken.

Do you have peace or remain unshaken when life throws you a curve? Or do you crumble? Could it be that you have refrained from “digging deep” into God’s promises? This is not to merely hearing a sermon a week or simply reading your Bible. This is, so to speak, walking the scriptures out in your daily life. Living what you believe. Being a doer and not just a hearer. What does the Bible say about this?

But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

(James 1:22-25 KJV)

We must not think that the Christian life is all fun and games. We will face storms and trials. We must do as the wise builder and dig deep and lay a foundation. It is up to us to obey or disobey. Have you dug deep and laid claim to your piece of the rock? If so, then you will have the Peace of the Rock amidst life’s storms.