Summary: # 12 in a series on Hebrews. This sermon sets forth the three-fold encouragement available to Christians.
A Study of the Book of Hebrews
Jesus is Better
Sermon # 12
“An Anchor For the Soul”
“A little over a month before he died, the famous atheist Jean-Paul Sartre (SAHR truh) declared that he so strongly resisted feelings of despair that he would say to himself, “I know I shall die in hope.” Then in profound sadness, he would add, “But hope needs a foundation.” [Our Daily Bread, April 17, 1995]
The whole letter to the Hebrews offers encouragement to believers on the Christian journey, knowing that difficulties await at every bend. If you ever find yourself struggling to keep pressing on as a believer or assaulted by doubts or tempted to throw in the towel and give up as a follower of Christ. Or if you just have become sluggish in responding to the trials that come in life, then this section of the letter to the Hebrews is for you! The same help and hope offered to original readers is yours as well. All of us, at some time or another, will find ourselves needing a stabilizing anchor for our souls.
“I heard of a picture of an old burned-out mountain shack. All that remained was the chimney...the charred debris of what had been that family’s sole possession. In front of this destroyed home stood an old grandfather-looking man dressed only in his under-clothes with a small boy clutching a pair of patched overalls. It was evident that the child was crying. Beneath the picture were the words which the artist felt the old man was speaking to the boy. They were simple words, yet they presented a profound theology and philosophy of life. Those words were? Hush child, God ain’t dead!?
That vivid picture of that burned-out mountain shack, that old man, the weeping child, and those words? God ain’t dead? Instead of it being a reminder of the despair of life, it has come to be a reminder of hope! We all need reminders that there is hope in this world. In the midst of all of life’s troubles and failures, we need mental pictures to remind us that all is not lost as long as God is alive and in control of His world.” [James DeLoach, associate pastor of the Second Baptist Church of Houston, quoted in When God Was Taken Captive, W. Aldrich, Multnomah, 1989, p. 24.]
After the previous words of warning in chapter six now come words of encourage-ment. He begins in verse nine by saying,
“But, beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation, though we speak in this manner. (10) For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister. (11) And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, (12) that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”
He encouraged them to not give up, to move on to maturity and to not become sluggish in their faith. He now reminds them of the value of faithfulness by holding out the example of Abraham in both patience and in service (v. 15). He reminds them that God gives his promise of a blessing and had sworn an oath to support his word. A promise made by a God who cannot lie was designed to give comfort and encouragement to these struggling believers.
One of the greatest dangers facing Christians is to lose sight of the basis of our hope. When we become so burdened with the stormy blasts of life that we forget our hope, then we face the slippery slope of sluggish-ness, doubt, and even worse, the possibility of hardening our hearts against the gospel. So, to remedy this danger, our writer reminds us of the promise of God. These morning I want to share with you the Three-Fold Encouragement Available To Christians.
First, We Have The Profound Comfort of the Person of God. (vv. 13-16)
Abraham is a favorite character of this writer as well as other New Testament authors. Here the writer of Hebrews brings to mind the scene of how the Lord encouraged Abraham to continue on in faith. You will recall that Abraham was called out of paganism to follow after the Lord. And he did just that, believing the promise of the Lord that He would bless him and make of him a great nation and that in him all the families of the earth would be blessed (Gen. 12:1-3). When he struggled with God’s fulfillment of the promise, the Lord gave him assurance and Abraham “believed in the Lord” and that faith was accounted to him as righteousness (Gen. 15:6).