Harden Not Your Hearts
Sermons: Hebrews 3:7–19
From Genesis to Revelation the Bible is full of warning signs and they are meant by God to deter men from the inevitable wrath of God if men continue on the course of sin. All the way through the Bible in different settings and by different phrases and different words, God warns men. Because The Old Testament tells us that God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked the New Testament tells us that God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance, and because it is not the purpose of God and the creation of man that man should be doomed to hell, God then throughout all of his revelation continues to warn men. And as we come to chapter 3 of Hebrews, verses 7 to 19, we have just another of God’s warnings to unredeemed men – men on a sinful course – to turn to Jesus Christ before it is too late.
Now, let me just give you a little bit of background in regard to this clear imperative that we find in these verses. As you remember, the book of Hebrews was written to a Jewish community – a Jewish community which had been visited by certain first apostles and prophets, and under the preaching of those apostles and prophets had heard the gospel. Some had believed unto salvation. Others had believed, but had not committed themselves to that belief and were hanging on the edge of believing, but weren’t willing to commit themselves, because of the fear of persecution and the love of their own sin. Then a third group weren’t convinced at all and they were just there.
So that when we look at the Book of Hebrews, we must be reminded that it is written with all three groups in mind. Parts of it are directed right at those new Christians. Parts of it are directed at those non-Christians who aren’t really accepting anything and parts of it – this part, for example – are directed toward those non-Christians who have intellectual understanding, who know the gospel, and who are hanging right on the knife edge of decision. And this passage that we come to tonight is one of those critical passages by which the Holy Spirit wants to give a great big supernatural shove to anybody hanging on the edge of faith in Jesus Christ and hasn’t yet committed himself to that faith.
And, you know, there are many people like that. There are many people who intellectually have responded to the gospel. They believe it, but they have never committed themselves to that faith. They’ve never gone all the way to commitment to Jesus Christ, accepting Him as Savior and Lord, repenting from their sins, and turning fully and whole heartedly to Him. And may I hasten to add that to know the truth and not to accept it brings upon a man a worse judgement than to really not know it in full and not to accept it.
God does not think you’ve done Him a favor just because you like His gospel. In fact, if you hear it and you know it and intellectually you ascent to it, but never commit your heart to it, then the retribution and the judgement of God on you will be much sorer, much more serious than that on those who barely even heard the content of the gospel. And to whom much is given much is required.
And so verses 7 to 19 then are the Holy Spirit’s warning to the one who knows the gospel, who knows the truth, but because of the love of sin and the fear of persecution or whatever it may be has not committed himself to the truth that he knows is real. It’s as if there’s a fire in a hotel and you’re on the tenth floor, and the firemen below are yelling, “Jump!” because there’s a net available maybe on a lower roof, about the fifth floor. And you look out the window and you really just can’t figure out whether or not you ought to trust yourself to those firemen. But the fire is moving through the apartment and you don’t have a lot of choice. But rather than commit yourself to the trust of those firemen and jump out, you’re concerned with being able to hang onto your possessions, so you grab them, hoping you can make it by running back in and going down the stairs, and you’re consumed in the fire.
Well, if you want to put this passage in that context, this is the Holy Spirit saying at the top of His voice, “Jump!” That’s verses 7 to 19. You didn’t know that did you? This is the Spirit of God moving on those hearts and saying to those who know the truth, but as of yet because of their love of their possessions or because of their own concentration on their own ability and their own plans are figuring out their own escape, and they find out that there is no escape unless you jump in total faith committing yourself to Jesus Christ.
The writer of Hebrews has a great fear for these Jews because they’ve heard the gospel.