Summary: An incomprehensive study of the 'one another' verses. Part 6
This word that is translated, “encourage” in some translations and “exhort” in others, requires some special attention before we get started.
It is ‘parakaleo’. Now, I am not a student of the Biblical languages. But my resources tell me that this word comes from the same root word that means to ‘come along side’.
That is the reason I wanted to dwell on it a little bit in beginning. You see, in our language there seems to be a slight difference between encouraging and exhorting. We think of encouraging as expressing a kind of “you can do it; hang in there” approach; but we tend to think of exhortation as warning or a sort of ‘friendly instruction’. “Hey, shape up guy! You’re walking on the edge here! Be careful!”
Well in truth, this word is both. We’re going to discuss this further. But I wanted to point out its Greek meaning, because the idea of ‘coming along side’ denotes friendship and true concern.
It is not coming face to face in confrontation; it is not whispering in the ear from behind as though we don’t want to be too closely associated; it is coming along side in friendship and brotherhood and support...
...LOVING AS CHRIST LOVED US.
Let’s take a fresh look at verses 12-14 of Hebrews 3.
“Take care, brethren, lest there should be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart, in falling away from the living God.
But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end;”
Although our primary focus is verse 13, by virtue of the fact that this is a study on the ‘one another’ verses, we only get the full impact of this verse if we look at 12 through 14. So let’s use this outline:
Verse 12: The warning
Verse 13: The exhortation
Verse 14: The promise
In the earlier verses of chapter 3 the writer has warned the reader not to harden the heart against God’s voice; using the children of Israel as an example. If you look at verse 8 you’ll see that God considered the deliberate hardening of their hearts against Him as a provocation to anger.
In verse 9 He says that they tried and tested Him, in that they saw His works for 40 years, yet (vs. 10) they always went astray in their hearts in that they did not know His ways.
Do you see the distinction being made? They saw His works, but they did not know His ways.
Throughout the history of mankind, men have seen God’s works. Paul tells us in Romans that “...since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.”
If we just let our minds wander through the stories we know from the Old Testament, we have to agree that men have always seen God’s works. Pharaoh saw God’s miraculous power over and over again. Saul saw it, the Philistines saw it, Nebuchadnezzar saw it, all those who defied God’s prophets saw it (Ahab & Jezebel, etc), but seeing God’s works was not enough. They did not care to know His ways.
It has always been those desiring to know God’s ways, know Him personally, who have been accepted of God.
If you look for it in the Psalms of David, you’ll see him asking God over and over, to teach David His ways. An example is Psalm 25:4,5
“Make me know Thy ways, O Lord;
teach me Thy paths.
Lead me in Thy truth and teach me,
For Thou art the God of my salvation;
For Thee I wait all the day.”
The children of Israel in the wilderness, warns the writer to the Hebrews, saw God’s works, but they did not know His ways; therefore He became angry with that generation and swore in His wrath, “they shall not enter My rest”.
With all of that in mind, go directly, as the writer did, to verse 12 and take it as a warning, Christian, because it is for you.
“Take care, brethren, lest there should be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart, in falling away from the living God.”
Note first of all that the Holy Spirit does not warn us against falling away from religion. Sometimes I think it would be a blessing for all of us to become a lot less religious.
He does not warn against falling away from being Baptist.
He also is not warning against ‘falling into sin” here, but falling away from the living God.