Text: Hebrews 10:26-39
Introduction: Almost… It’s an adverb that means nearly, to fall short. Sometimes, being in an almost situation can be good: PP:
- I almost got everything done on my honey do list. (BTW, you’ll never get it done)
- I almost hit a homerun, but I did get a double out of it.
- I almost got in to an accident.
But, being in an almost situation can also be, well, not so good: PP:
- I think I’ve heard Elder Joe say I almost made that put. PP:
- I almost invested in a stock that recently went through the roof.
- I almost remembered my anniversary.
- I almost made it through that red light.
PP: Almost.. well, it also has some spiritual applications as well:
- I almost gave in to that temptation, thank God I didn’t.
Almost… is a terrible word when it reveals someone’s decision to almost become a Christian.
Today in our text we’ll see both the negative and positive aspects of … almost.
Background: Before we get there, some much needed background.
Hebrews 10:26-31 is yet another warning from the author, not to leave the fellowship of the church. For his readers, it’s not to go back to Judaism.
The writer here is further developing the severe warning he made in chapter 6 verses 4-6. PP: For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance…
When we studied that text we found the writer was addressing those in the local church who were sitting on the fence when it came to fully committing to faith in Jesus…
- They attended regularly, they gave financially, they served in ministry and participated in the activities.
- Because they were a part of the local church and participated in its activities, including worship, they not only saw God’s blessings poured out, by God’s grace, they even experienced some of it.
- They said they were a Christian and probably thought it was true because of all the good works they did in the church.
But, it’s not good works that saves you, that makes you a Christians. It’s faith in Jesus alone for the forgiveness of your sin.
The writer warns that if they choose to leave the local church, the place where the truth of Jesus is taught, if they rejected Him… there is no hope of being forgiven, saved from their sin.
Listen, to help us understand chapter 10:26-31 we need to see that what we’ll read here is the WHY those who leave the local church, those who ultimately reject Jesus, cannot be saved. 10:26 says there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins.
PP: The passage before us is about… almost.
- We’ll see the author addressing those who are almost saved in verses 26-31 and the associated consequences
- and those who are saved and almost home in verses 32-39 and the associated promises and blessings.
Transition: Open your Bibles to Hebrews 10:26.
- Hebrews 10:26-31 Almost…saved
- vss26-27 almost… instead judgment
PP: For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.
As you can see, the writer is not sugar coating anything here.
- Reject Jesus… and you will go to Hell.
ILL: Charles Spurgeon tells about a church that was asked to accept as their minister a man who did not believe in hell. They said, “You have come to tell us that there is no hell. If your doctrine is true, we certainly do not need you. And if it’s not true, we don’t want you. So either way, we can do without you.”. (Steven Cole)
That was a very wise and discerning church. Look, as Christians, we’re called to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ and the bad news of rejecting Him. That’s what the writer does today… only he starts with the very bad news.
There were many who had left the local church, and by doing so, rejected Jesus and all that He has done to reconcile sinners to God. I’m sure he knew some remained in the church, who were still on the fence about trusting fully in Jesus to forgive their sin and grant access to God.
- Just like in Hebrews 6:4-8, the writer’s addressing those same folks, who are almost.. saved, but not there quite yet.
He’s telling them:
- You’ve learned about Jesus. So, you know the truth.
- You’ve experienced and seen God work while attending the church. So, you’ve been blessed.
- You’ve heard me talk about the superiority of Jesus over the Law, the sacrificial system and the Levitical priesthood.. So, you’ve been warned.
And if you are still contemplating rejecting all of that and returning to Judaism… Because I love you, I need to tell you the truth:
- When you leave the church, reject Jesus and then continue to sin, you’ll have no hope of forgiveness or access into God’s presence… ever.
And here’s why. God, through faith in Jesus, the Great High Priest
- Has shed His blood as the perfect sacrifice. You can be and will forever be clean before God.
- The vail to the Holy of Holies is gone, so you no longer need to be restricted from entering Gods presence.
- Jesus has procured a new way into God’s presence, through the new covenant. So, God can give you a new heart.
BUT…if you leave, if you reject Jesus, there’ll be no hope of forgiveness,
- Because you’ll have rejected Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for your sin.
- You’ll have rejected the access Jesus made for entrance into God’s presence.
- You’ll have given up the change for God to give you a new heart… that will love and obey Him.
- You’ll become God’s adversary, enemy and face His eternal judgment.
Let me give you a visual: PP: Say you’re trapped in your home after a horrible storm that created a flood so high you could not get safely out. A boat came to your house to rescue you, but you said no, I’ll be ok in my house, not realizing your foundation is about to give way and you will all drown.
- The boat was your only hope for survival.
That’s what the writer is telling those who are on the fence about Jesus, to those who are almost saved.
- He’s warning them to place their faith in Jesus (their lifeboat) for the forgiveness of sin and access into God’s presence.
- vss 28-29 almost… instead punishment
PP: Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?
In verses 28-29, the writer’s comparing the consequential punishment of rejecting the law of Moses to rejecting Jesus. He first uses the ‘from the lesser to the greater’ argument as he has done often in the book.
- If you set aside the law of Moses, if you reject it, and there are witnesses, you will be punished.
Think about it.. If Jesus is superior to the Law, as I have been teaching you, then wouldn’t you think the punishment for rejecting Jesus would be even greater than rejecting the Law? There’d be no mercy, no pardon.
Then the writer tells them what rejecting Jesus really is. Three things here:
First, trampling underfoot the Son of God. PP:
This means to not only reject, to disregard Jesus, it means to walk on and over His sinless life and sacrificial death, on your way to what can never bring you forgiveness.
PP: Second, profaning the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified. This means to believe that Jesus’ blood that was shed on the cross to ratify the New Covenant, is ineffective, not able to forgive your sin and make you clean so that you can have access into God’s presence.
By which he was sanctified…. This can be a bit troubling, theologically. But if you remember the writer is addressing those who were an active part of the local church; they worshipped, they served, they were perhaps even baptized.. for all intent and purpose, they appeared to be sanctified, set apart for God’s use.
- Their sanctification was only external, not unlike the Pharisee who Jesus said were clean on the outside But on the inside they are full of the bones of the dead.
It was not internal, their heart was not clean.
Third, outraging the Spirit of grace? Rejecting Jesus is also rejecting the Holy Spirit who is the One Who extends grace, to woo and draw people to faith in Jesus. It’s saying I don’t need anyone’s help to be made right with God, even the Holy Spirit.
Folks, being almost saved… will bring certain punishment.
- vss. 30-31 almost…instead fear
PP: For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge His people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
To hit home, the writer quotes from the OT..
- Deuteronomy 32:35 where God says that vengeance is His, that He will repay, punish us for rejecting Him… and in this case, Jesus as well.
- He also quotes Psalm 135:14 where it says the Lord will judge His people.
Much of what you’ll hear in the church today is sugar coated so as not to offend anyone. It rarely shows God as vengeful, as executing judgment or punishment.
This is especially dangerous for those who are not yet saved by God’s grace.
- Since they’re rarely taught about the wrath of God against those who are not His by faith in Jesus, they have a false sense of security.
In Hebrews 12:29 the writer will describe God as a consuming fire. Because He is a consuming fire,
He says It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Look:
- God’s not dead, He is surely alive. Amen?
- He’s alert, He’s looking, and He knows our actions as well as our hearts.
- God will hold accountable those who reject Jesus.
It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God… at the day of judgment. Those who have abandoned God as the source of salvation and will instead meet Him as Judge.
- For them, all hope is lost.
There was one pastor who didn’t sugar coat his sermons… Jonathan Edwards. His sermon title Sinners in the hand of an angry God came form Hebrews 10:31 and it lit the fires of faith during the Great Awakening in in the US during the 1700’s.
Kent Hughes describes that sermon this way: PP:
- Jonathon Edwards gave his people a whiff of the sulphurs of hell that they might deeply inhale the fragrances of grace. (Brian Bell)
You don’t want to face the living God… if you’re almost… saved.
- Hebrews 10:32-39 Almost…home
- vss 32-34 Remember God’s faithfulness
PP: But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one.
Wow… the writer slammed on the brakes and does a 180. He moves from a dire warning to the blessing of encouragement.
Understand, he’s writing to the whole church, to those who are almost saved and to those who are saved and almost home… almost in God’s presence in heaven. He doesn’t want the almost home Christians to think that verses 26-31 are about them… we’ll see that explicitly in verse 39 when he says
- But we (speaking to his brother & sisters in Christ) are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed,
The writer recognizes that the Christians in the church are struggling, being persecuted for their faith in Jesus, and he wants to help them persevere through their suffering by recognizing God’s faithfulness to them in the midst of it.
He said, remember when all those difficult things happened to you, remember all the suffering you experienced, all the hardships you faced… remember, you didn’t face them alone,
- You were enlightened, you were blessed, by the work of the Holy Spirit
- to draw you close to God, to give you confidence in God’s ability to see you through the hardships, promising to keep you safe in His hands.
Remember ,that even in the midst of some of the hardest times, you reached out and showed compassion on those who were imprisoned for their faith in Jesus.
- The Holy Spirit strengthened you, kept you, moved you to look beyond your own struggles to bring comfort to whose who were struggling with you.
He’s reminding the Christians that they endured all the hardships and suffering, by God’s faithfulness to them.
With the idea that He doesn’t change, He will continue to be faithful to them even should they suffer in in the future. Why?
- Through faith in Jesus, God was their better and abiding possession.
- In other words, they had God, the creator and sustainer of the universe, on their side.
Friends, remember last Sunday I asked you to encourage two people this week who you felt needed it. I hope that went well for you. And in case you’re not sure how to encourage someone who’s going through a tough time, do what our writer did.. remind them of God’s faithfulness.
- vss 35-36 Remember to be faithful
PP: Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.
Not only are we to remember God’s faithfulness to us in the past, we’re to be faithful ourselves, yes even when time are hard. How are we to be faithful:
First, don’t throw away your confidence, this is speaking of the confidence we have as Christians in God who is always faithful, always loving, always merciful and graceful.
- Don’t give up on Him.
Second, we’re faithful when we continue to obey God and His Word even in times of suffering. Doing the will of God is obeying it, obeying Him. Don’t stop obeying. Be faithful.
You see, there’s a reward for those who remain faithful even during difficult circumstances. What reward? There are two mentioned here:
- First…Endurance. Your faithfulness to God will give you the strength to endure, to successfully navigate through life’s storms.
- Second… well he gets to that in the next 3 verses.
- vss 37-39 Remember you are different
PP: For, “Yet a little while, and the coming One will come and will not delay; but My righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him.” But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.
Jesus is coming back.. Amen? Christian look, be assured, and encouraged, you have not been left alone, we’ve already read that the Holy Spirit is with you and working in and around you. And, Jesus, Himself, is coming back.. wait for Him, be patient. He is right on schedule, He will not be late… that’s a promise from God Himself.
The writer gives us a glimpse of where he’ll go next with his teaching in Hebrews, when he says
My righteous one shall live by faith.
He does warn that not living by faith will displease God…(remember he’s speaking to the whole church;
- those almost saved and those almost home)
But it’s those who are His, through faith in Jesus, who will, have eternal life.
The writer confirms that in verse 39 But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.
- There are those who will not live by faith, there are those who will shrink back, reject Jesus,
- but not those who place their faith in Jesus, they belong to God, they are His forever.
- They will not shrink back and God will preserve their soul for Heaven.
Christian, look, through faith in Jesus, you are not like everyone else, you are different and have a different end game then those who reject Jesus.
Story behind the Hymn ‘Almost Persuaded.’ Look at the handout in your Bulletin. (read the words to the song)
Almost persuaded” now to believe;
“Almost persuaded” Christ to receive;
Seems now some soul to say,
“Go, Spirit, go Thy way,
Some more convenient day on Thee I’ll call.”
“Almost persuaded,” come, come today;
“Almost persuaded,” turn not away;
Jesus invites you here, Angels are ling’ring near,
Prayers rise from hearts so dear;
O wand’rer, come!
Oh, be persuaded! Christ never fails
Oh, be persuaded! His blood avails
Can save from every sin,
Cleanse you without, within
Will you not let Him in? Open the door!
“Almost persuaded,” harvest is past!
“Almost persuaded,” doom comes at last;
“Almost” cannot avail; “Almost” is but to fail!
Sad, sad that bitter wail “Almost but lost!”
Be now persuaded, oh, sinner, hear!
Be now persuaded, Jesus is near;
His voice is pleading still,
Turn now with heart and will,
Peace will your spirit fill Oh, turn today!
Perhaps there are some who have yet to place their faith in Jesus… perhaps you are almost saved… but the biblical truth is this…
- almost saved is completely lost and condemned.
The message today is clear: draw near to God.
- If you are saved by God’s grace, continue to draw near to God even when life throws some pretty hard punches, be faithful, remember God’s faithfulness and draw near to God… You’re almost home.
- If you have yet to place your faith in Jesus for the forgiveness for your sin… don’t wait, do it right now. You don’t want to face God… almost saved.