August 5th 2018: Ian Middlemist

Ian Middlemist-July18-Hebrews 3:7-19

In Pilgrims Progress John Bunyan names people appropriate to their character. Christian tries to persuade Obstinate that their city is about to experience the wrath of God. The answer to this is the Bible. Obstinate thinks Christian is mentally unbalanced and returns home. Obstinate is hard-hearted, a grumbler. He has a lack of faith and will refuse to turn from his ways. In the Old Testament we read of a whole generation marked by their obstinacy (Hebrews 3:16).

God’s patience with man will one day come to an end. Often, in this life God gives to man what he wants. Today we have the greatest opportunity – to turn, if we will not harden our hearts.

This letter to the Hebrews addresses the problem of apostasy. Believers are reminded of Israel’s failure in the wilderness. We must go on believing day by day, serving, living in the gospel. We must come to the cross,  rely on the cross, day by day. Are we still believing in the gospel?

What is the gospel? To believe in the gospel you believe in Jehovah alone who sent His own Son into this world. He lived a perfect life. We have not lived a perfect life. We have fallen far short of the glory of God. But Jesus died once for all our sins – sins past, present and future – sins are forgiven. We are joined to Him by the powerful working of the Holy Spirit. We would be lost without Him, but Jesus has personally joined Himself to us therefore we must look to Him.

We’ve gone wrong – messed up. But now, because we’re in Christ, we’re where we ought to be – living in Christ. When you’re in Christ, you’re the person you’re meant to be. We must live in Him, joined to Him in faith. That’s how we experience dynamic growth.

In Hebrews 3 we see the reflective working of Psalm 95. This psalm was regularly preached each Sabbath day in the early church. The Sabbath is the day of rest, a day of resting in the Lord, trusting in Him to do it all for you. This Psalm is a reference to those unhappy events of Exodus 17 and Numbers 20. The people forgot their previous deliverance and complained about present difficulties. God was deeply grieved by His people’s doubts and loyalties, so they did not experience the Promised Land. It is a warning. Do not harden your hearts and fail to look to Jesus Christ so that you can enter into rest. Don’t let troubles of this world divert you away from the gospel. Turn afresh to Him now before it’s too late.

There’s a great opportunity. There is a contrast with Moses and Jesus (Hebrews 3:1-6), followed by another contrast, this time between Moses and the Israelites (Hebrews 3:7). The Israelites were not faithful, they wanted things their own way. They had been set free from the bond of the Egyptians, yet this was not their greatest opportunity. They entered the Promised Land – still this was not their greatest opportunity. There is a rest that is coming that is better – rest in Jesus Christ. You can enter God’s rest today. Now!

Opportunities in this life are here just for the moment. Too often we miss out because we are waiting for them to fall into our life whilst they are tapping on our shoulder. Respond to the call to turn and trust in Jesus Christ. The Israelites thought life would have been better in Egypt, but they were living in a fantasy world, not reality. There is nothing better than Jesus Christ. Respond today. Turn to Him today. True rest will be yours.

How do we turn? Hear, believe, obey and share the Word of God.

Hear. Psalm 95 is quoted three times; ‘hear’ the Word. Don’t listen to this world, to sin. Tune into the sounds of heaven. Daily we need to hear the Bible. We need to be people of the Word. We need to spend time daily hearing heaven. Pay less attention to the sounds of this world.

Believe. The person who listens to this world will certainly fall away from the living God (Hebrews 3:12). Believe in what Christ has done.

Obey. Act upon the Word immediately, not tomorrow. We’re under grace, we must obey.

Share the Word. Daily, we need to follow the Lord, exhort one another. It’s a daily exercise. In the New Testament there is nothing of Sunday, only Christianity. Here is a picture of daily exhorting – through visits, meeting up, phone calls, texts, letters, offering practical help. This is to be done daily, urging one another not to be distracted by sin. We think people are OK because they are sitting in the pew. The world is powerful, be aware of the seriousness of sin. Daily encourage and exhort one another. Let’s learn from the Hebrews of old and not harden our hearts. We must turn to Jesus Christ. Let’s encourage one another to turn away from this world and focus on Jesus Christ.

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