Connection: Part 2 – Abidan Shah, PhD

CONNECTIONS 2 by Dr. Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson, NC

Introduction:  Since last week’s message on the importance of connections, especially being in small groups that we call “Inner Circles,” 4 small groups have already formed, that I know of! We have also received several emails and phone calls asking us how to get one started or suggestions for good bible studies to use. We will be answering all those questions very soon through videos and literature that will help all of you now, as well as others in the future. In the first part of this message last week, we focused more on the need for accountability through small groups. We used the WATER acronym to explain the ingredients of discipleship. In today’s message titled “CONNECTIONS part 2”, we will again focus on the need for coming together and urging one another to do the same. Main point: Christian life was never meant to be lived in isolation. We are to urge another to come together. We are to hold one another accountable. We are to cheer one another to run the race keeping our eyes on Christ.

Hebrews 10      24 “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”

Context: The Book of Hebrews, from which we just read, is probably the most controversial book in the whole Bible. I get more questions about this book than any other book in the Bible. The questions have to do with the five warning passages found in Hebrews chapters (vs 1-4)(3:7-4:13), (5:11-6:12), 10 (vs 19-39), and 12 (vs 14-29). The heart of the questions is “Can we lose our salvation?” For example:

  • Hebrews 2:1 “Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away.”
  • Hebrews 4:11 “Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.”
  • Hebrews 6       4 “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame. This is the sternest one.
  • Hebrews 10       26 “For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.”
  • Hebrews 12:25 “See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven.”

At first glance, it appears that these passages are implying that one could lose his/her salvation if they drift away or fail to persevere. 

After having studied the book of Hebrews for years, I have come to a different conclusion. When you consider who this book was written to and the context in which it was written, it is about something quite different and very applicable to our times. By the way, I believe Paul wrote it, but that does not matter here. At least, in the East, there was no problem for it to be Pauline. For starters, the title of the book is “Hebrews,” (pros Ebraious) an ancient designation of the Jewish people, although some think that this may have come later. More than the title is the use of the Old Testament on almost every page of this book. It is assumed that the people who were being addressed had a very intimate knowledge of the Old Testament. At the same time, these were not just Jewish people. They were Jewish background believers, more precisely second-generation Jewish background believers – Hebrews 2:3 “how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him.” Some think that they were converted priests from Jerusalem. Others think that they were Jewish background leaders of the church in Rome who had been kicked out by the emperor; now they were back, but there was no place for them. Nonetheless, they were just a subgroup of a larger group of Christians. Unfortunately, they were slipping away from the main fellowship and missing the old religion – the temple, the sacrifices, and the rituals. The writer of Hebrews, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, was reminding them that to go away from Christ was to go back to the inferior, to the shadows. Christ is superior. Hebrews 1        1“God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; 3 who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.” Not only that, but Christ was also superior to Moses, superior priest than Aaron, superior sacrifice, superior covenant, etc. Falling back and falling away had a much different meaning to these second generation Jewish background believers.

Application: Are you caught up in the inferior? Are you missing the traditions? Or, are you focused on the superior, i.e., Christ?

Unfortunately, these second-generation Jewish background believers had lost their desire to grow and come together – Hebrews 5:12 “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.” Hebrews 10:25 “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some…” 

What is very interesting is the number of first person plural subjunctives in the Epistle to the Hebrews. Typically, subjunctive communicates probability, but when it is used in the first person plural, it becomes hortatory, a plea or an encouragement. It is found about 19 times in this letter!

  • Hebrews 2:1 “Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard.”
  • Hebrews 3:6 “but Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end.”
  • Hebrews 3:14 “For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end.”
  • Hebrews 4:1 “Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it.”
  • Hebrews 4:11 “Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.”
  • Hebrews 4:14 “Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.”
  • Hebrews 4:16 “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
  • Hebrews 6:1 “Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God.”
  • Hebrews 10:22 “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. 23Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works,”
  • Hebrews 12       1 “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
  • Hebrews 12      14 “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: 15 looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled.” This is so desperately needed in our cancel culture where everyone is being declared as “toxic.” I wrote an article in the paper this weekend titled, “True Toxic.”
  • Hebrews 12:28 “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.”
  • Hebrews 13:13 “Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach.”
  • Hebrews 13:15 Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.

Invitation: Are you connected? Can you see some of the signs of disconnection in your life? Are you saved?

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