Radiant Church’s Lead Pastor Keith Welton continues his series on the Book of Hebrews with a sermon entitled, “A Warning” on Hebrews 3. Below, you can listen to his sermon, watch our whole service, and use the outline for a reference.
Missed last week’s sermon from Pastor Welton, entitled “The Subjected Ruler”? You can listen to it and watch the whole service here.
“Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess. 2 He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. 3 Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. 4 For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. 5 Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house, testifying to what would be said in the future. 6 But Christ is faithful as a son over God’s house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast. 7 So, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you hear his voice, 8 do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert, 9 where your fathers tested and tried me and for forty years saw what I did. 10 That is why I was angry with that generation, and I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.’ 11 So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’ ” 12 See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. 14 We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first. 15 As has just been said: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.” 16 Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? 17 And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the desert? 18 And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? 19 So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.” (Hebrews 3:1-19 NIV)
There are often times when a danger is perceived and people put warning signs out to keep you out of trouble. It may be a sign that says “dangerous turns.” Maybe at the beach it’s the “watch for rocks.”
I was thinking of things that kept me out of trouble and remembered one time when a friend and I were considering getting motorcycles. My friend had just gotten saved and was still working on good decision-making, so when his dad heard this he didn’t think it was a good idea. We were not to be deterred so his dad went and called an acquaintance who was an emergency room surgeon. He came back with a few stories about people getting gruesome injuries from riding motorcycles. For two naïve and broke college students, his warning worked.
Warnings are meant to steer us away from danger. They’re meant to keep us on the right path.
One thing about the book of Hebrews is the many warning passages that are in this book. They’re warnings to not turn away from Jesus. We come to another today. It gives an admonition and a warning for not doing that and also gives us guidance for staying true to our faith.
1. Admonition: Fix your thoughts on
We are told to fix our thoughts on Jesus. Consider. “Fix your thoughts on” is much stronger. This is what the Christian life is. You are looking to Jesus, not to other things.
of attentive scrutiny of an object study, examine (JA 1.23); (3) of careful attention to a fact or process consider, reflect on, discern (LU 12.24); (4) of careful attention to a person or thing.
Moses considered the burning bush. He paid attention. It drew him in.
It’s similar to “pay careful attention lest you drift away” in chapter 2.
What was distracting them? Well the ensuing argument is about how Jesus is greater than Moses.
Moses is an incredible figure for the Jewish people and Christians. He met with God. He was called to deliver the people. But as great as Moses was Jesus is greater. Moses even spoke of a prophet that would come after him that would be greater than him.
Jesus is greater than Moses. God’s plan has been moving forward with greater blessings. These people have had their faith and confidence in Jesus shaken, so they are tempted to go back. Going backward is not what they need. God is building the house of his people. Moses was a servant in the house. Jesus is a son over the house.
“Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house, testifying to what would be said in the future. 6 But Christ is faithful as a son over God’s house.”
Amanda and I will celebrate 20 years of marriage this year. I cant believe it has been that long. And I can’t believe it is so good. Any relationship is hard and there are ups and downs. But I would not go back for anything. We have grown and matured. Why go back? 20 years of training her and 20 years of her training me. Things were good then but just better now. I have high schoolers. I don’t want to go back to high school. I don’t want to go back.
The writer is telling them God’s done something greater, so don’t go back to the lesser. Don’t get focused on the lesser. When you lose confidence you move to something else or you have to be reminded the importance of what you have.
-Biblical figures: Jesus is greater.
-Religious teachers: Jesus is greater.
-Whatever else you get fixated on and think you have to see what so-and-so says on this topic. Jesus is greater. Because he is greater, it is more important to pay attention to Jesus than that person.
They are to hold fast to their confession. A confession is a statement of allegiance expressing binding assent and public commitment, profession, acknowledgment, confession (HE 4.14); reflects an inner commitment of loyalty to such a statement of allegiance that leads to a public expression confessing, bearing witness. He may have said this at their baptism.
Jesus as Lord. Baptism. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
“Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” (1Ti 6:12 ESV)
This is what they are to fix their minds on. It takes care of a host of other problems. Shut the door. Fixes a host of problems.
2. Warning: don’t fall.
There is Continuity and Discontinuity between the Old Testament and New Testament. Certain things are fulfilled. Some things are abrogated- done away with. Jesus fulfills law and fulfills sacrificial system, and fulfills the role of prophet, priest and king that Moses laid a foundation for. He is greater than Moses, and you don’t need to go back to those old practices. But there is also a continuity. And one of the continuities between Jesus and Moses is how people responded.
There were people in Moses’ time who hardened their hearts and did not receive what was promised.
Psalm 95 is quoted here. It is quoting from the days of Moses. It begins with a call for everyone to see the greatness of God.
“Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples! 4 For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; he is to be feared above all gods.” (Psalm 96:3-4 ESV)
Ends with a warning against hardening hearts.
-hearts are always going astray. Theology. If you know there is a current pulling you somewhere you can be on the lookout for it. Our hearts are always pulling us in the wrong direction.
“Be killing sin, lest sin be killing you.” -John Owen
Kill sin with God’s word. Kill sin by following God. I have seen too many people walk out on a slippery ledge thinking they were OK. They stopped paying attention and guard. We are looking to go to Glacier National park for our anniversary. I started reading about national parks. Do you know that a growing category for deaths is park is the result of people trying to get the perfect selfie? Absorbed with a self-focused goal and not paying attention to the danger.
-Conditional. “If.” There is a conditional element to this. A similar word echoes back to that warning. V6, 14 conditional sentence. A unique theme of the book of Hebrews is its repeated calls to not stop and the warnings about falling.
[6 But Christ is faithful as a son over God’s house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast.
If. If you hold on. If you don’t let go. If you don’t lose the courage you had a first. We must persevere. We must not stop. We must not turn to another.
Thought we are saved by faith and not by works. It is not about what we do. True. Our works cannot save us. Our obedience cannot and will not save us. We can never earn our salvation, but certain things flow from knowing Jesus. If we believe in Jesus we are going to follow him. If we believe in him we are going to believe his rewards. If we believe in him we are going to avoid the things he says to avoid. If he is our Lord we will focus on him. We ought to look to Jesus like people look at their phones, constantly and intently.
Well how much can I do and still be saved? I don’t know. Let me also say that is the wrong question. When you love someone, you begin to love what they love. You want to do as much for them as you can. I don’t say, “Let me see how much I can get away with while Amanda is not looking.” That would show a problem in the relationship. I want to say, “How can I please her, serve her?” I want to fix my thoughts on her and please her.
Our confidence is in Jesus. He has opened a way to the Father and secured an eternal redemption. That is as firm as the ground underneath us. If you trust in Christ you will be saved. The way his salvation is applied to us is through faith. We must believe, we must trust him, we must follow him.
Warning: Don’t Harden your heart. It literally means, to cause one’s heart to be hard, i.e. act stubbornly, refuse to change one’s attitude. as a medical technical term harden, become thick;
“do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the desert,” (Heb 3:8 CSB)
–Atherosclerosis, or “hardening of the arteries” is a long-term process that leads to narrowing of the blood vessels that carry blood away from the heart due to thickening and hardening of the artery walls. This narrowing, in turn, causes a reduction in blood flow to the affected areas of the body. If you were diagnosed with this how many people would leave today and do something about it? What about a spiritual hardening?
Becoming dead. An inhumanness. Fullness of life is found in God. Opening our hearts and minds to him. When we shut him off or out we cut ourselves off from him.
Like the seed sown on rocky soil has all the signs of life but does not have the endurance necessary. It dies quickly.
“B[ecause you have turned back from following the LORD, the LORD will not be with you.” (Num 14:43 ESV)
“12 See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.“
He wrote this to a church. It is possible to be in the church and have a sinful unbelieving heart!
Ways of heart hardening.
- Reject what God wants you to do. You know it and just don’t want to do it. That is a hardened heart. You just don’t care. If you know the speed limit and just don’t want to follow it, or you have not paid enough attention to know what it is, either way you are at fault. In OT he told the people to go battle and they didn’t go. Then he said don’t go and they went. They suffered for it. Your sin has effects on others.
- Complain. The great sin of complaining. It’s often the little sins that start small but grow and metastasize and destroy you.
“And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, 3 and the people of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” (Exodus 16:2-3 ESV)
Grumbling isn’t a big deal. Oh, ok. So your coworker complains about everything and it grates on you. Don’t mind your kids complaining about what you do. It communicates disdain, lack of faith, confidence. Don’t lose your confidence. Pride, that you deserve better, grumble all the time because you are never satisfied and never feel you are recognized appropriately. Pride is one of the greatest sins. It comes before a fall. Used by Satan. Passive aggressive.
A wavering mind and little trust in God. Believing you could have something better if God didn’t interfere.
- Unrepentance. We all have ups and downs. Bad moments. One thing that is not recorded of those who fell, is a genuine acknowledgement of disobedience, confession from the heart, and request for mercy. One thing not recorded in these examples of what not to do, is them recognize their wrong and making a heartfelt plea for mercy. There’s no sin that can’t be forgiven. There’s no sin greater than Jesus. But will you humble yourself. Will you submit your life to him.
- Guidance: Encourage One Another Every Day
A church is being called to exhort one another to faithfulness in Jesus. It is to be a daily event. Not weekly. You miss the point if you view church as something to do to get out of the way. Church is a community to participate in.
Hope and confidence. We must keep our confidence. Must keep our hope. Those are things that can lead us astray. Fear drives us to other things.
This is one of the greatest challenges of the church today.
You can have fellowship with other people. But there is just something unique about relating with people with whom you have heard a sermon with.
I want my kids to know the importance of church. Theologically. Practically. And not just a place to show up on a Sunday. A connection to a community that is encouraging you, and you are encouraging them. If you do not have this or are not participating you are missing out!
-This kind of community is built, its not found. Throw yourself into it.
Hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first. Hold fast their boast by holding firm what God has said.
Call for action today. Do it today. Do not harden your heart today. I ordered a foosball table for the office. I thought it might be good for the porch, youth events, or in case Dan and I need to settle an argument. I had it delivered to the house, and I put it in the school room. I never use that room so it was perfect. Amanda and the kids use that room every day. She kept asking me to get it out. I’d say, “I’ll do it tomorrow…” Finally she just started texting me pictures. Finally I said, “I’ll do it today!” It was important. Urgent. Do it today. Not tomorrow.
Crossing the line of faith. Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world and the one who we are to follow if we are to be saved. Their must be an initial turning from the world and trusting in him.
Continuing the line of faith. You may have made that declaration years ago, but you have drifted and grown cold. You have not been doing what God calls you to do. Or perhaps you are doing just enough to give a pretense so that you don’t have to do other things he tells you to do. Either way you’re hard hearted. You have to break that. Break the ice off you hit it with a hammer. You need to break the ice off your heart by saying no more rejecting him. I’m giving him everything.
Define the Relationship, “DTR”
There are certain things about faith in God that are difficult to talk about. It’s a relationship. Relationships are hard. But you know when you are in one. If you are married you made a commitment. If you have a girlfriend you expressed some kind of commitment to the other. Being a Christian means you have put your faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. It means you have made a commitment to him. You realize your sin is greater than you thought and you need mercy. There comes a time where you have to make a decision, are you going to continue with not much of a relationship, content to know one another from a distance, or you are going to say, “I want and need to walk with God. I’m putting him first in my life. I am surrendering to him and his ways. Trusting in him.”