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Posted by Pastor Greg Allen on December 9, 2015 under PM Bible Study |

PM Home Bible Study Group; December 9, 2015

Hebrews 10:26-39

Theme: The writer offers sound reasons for not drawing back from the throne of grace because of opposition to the faith.

All Scripture is taken from The New King James Version, unless otherwise indicated.

In Hebrews 10:19-25, the writer of Hebrews took us up to the mountain-top of encouragement. In what constitutes the key passage of this letter, he exhorted his Jewish brothers and sisters in Christ to embrace the wonderful invitation of God’s grace through Jesus. They—and we along with them—were encouraged to enter, as it were, into the very Holy Place of the tabernacle and enjoy the blessings of full fellowship with God. We can do this confidently, because Jesus has truly removed every barrier and made us completely acceptable in God’s sight. It was a wonderful invitation—stated in a way that would have captured the heart of a Jewish man or woman who had trusted Christ.

But these Jewish believers were suffering persecution for their faith from their Jewish kinsmen. The writer needed to encourage them, throughout this letter, to give heed, lest they drift away; and to not neglect so great a salvation (2:1-3). He needed to warn them to beware, lest there be in any of them an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God (3:12-13). They needed to be urged to be on the alert, lest any of them would come short of the promise of God through Christ (4:1). They needed to be urged to “hold fast” their confession of faith in Christ (5:14); and not be among those who fall away and ‘crucify’ the Son of God again for themselves (6:1-6).

The good news of our invitation to come freely to God through Jesus Christ needed to be accompanied with an encouragement not to shrink back from the offer. And so, the writer puts this wonderful invitation into practical form by offering sound reasons for not drawing back from the faith—even when the opposition to the faith becomes strong through trouble and persecution.

* * * * * * * * * *

Notice how he sets before them . . .


A. Some might have been tempted to turn away from Jesus and to go back to their old ways of Judaism. But as the writer has made clear throughout this letter, there is no other covenant in effect from God but the new one over which Christ is Mediator. There is nothing to go back to; because apart from Christ, nothing remains except certain judgment. In verses 26-27, he tells them; “For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.” The “sin” he is speaking of is not merely sin in general; because, if any believer should sin (and we all do!), “we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1). Rather, the sin that is being spoken of here is the very serious sin of willingly and decisively rejecting Jesus after having been brought to the truth about Him, and of turning to something else instead. It’s to turn away intentionally and rebelliously from the only provision God has made for salvation to something else that gives no atonement for sin at all. It is to reject Christ and scorn the salvation He offers. And after that, nothing remains but judgment. You can see something of the character of this action from what is said in verse 29. This would be the kind of sin that the writer mentioned in Hebrews 6;

For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 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. For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God; but if it bears thorns and briers, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned (6:4-8).

B. The writer makes a further appeal to their sense of Jewish heritage by pointing back to the Old Testament law; showing that even in the law of Moses, rejection of God’s provision leads to punishment. He reminds them; “Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses” (v. 28). In pointing this out, he is reminding his readers of what it says in the law of God that had been given to Moses concerning those who turned to transgressing His covenant and turning to other gods (see Deuteronomy 13:1-18; 17:2-6; 18:9-22). In such a case, death was to occur on the basis of only two or three witnesses (Deuteronomy 19:15); and no mercy was to be shown to the rebel. That was the case with respect to the Old Covenant; but how much greater would the sin be when it came to the far greater New Covenant? The writer goes on to ask; “Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?” (v. 29).

C. The writer closes this harsh section by reminding his readers of the character of God as He expressed it in the Old Covenant. The writer shows that disobedience to the call invites wrath from the just Judge by quoting from the law itself. In verse 30, he writes, “For we know Him who said, ‘”Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord’”—here quoting from the Song of Moses in Deuteronomy 32:35. He even goes on to quote from verse 36; “And again, ‘The Lord will judge His people.’” Clearly it is as the writer says in verse 31; “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” As he says in Hebrews 4:13, “there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”

* * * * * * * * * *

Now; those are what we might call ‘negative reasons’ for not drawing back. But now, he offers some ‘positive reasons’. These Jewish believers had been very sacrificial and faithful; but their endurance had begun to wain. So, note next how he sets forth . . .


A. He reminds them that, back in the early days of their faith, there was a willingness to be made a spectacle for Jesus. He tells them; “But recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings: partly while you were made a spectacle both by reproaches and tribulations . . . (vv. 32-33a). It seems that so many of us—in our initial faith in Jesus—were willing to give up everything for Him. But though we might expect that we would naturally grow more devoted over time, the opposite is apparently what happens. We begin to grow weary and tired; or we grow comfortable with the things of this world, and just want a quiet and peaceful life. The writer urges his readers to stir up once again their initial enthusiasm—to recall those old days when they so passionately loved Jesus that they were even willing to be made a spectacle in the sight of the world for His sake. They were willing to endure, on the one hand, ‘reproaches’ in the form of insults and ridicule—rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for Jesus’ name (Acts 5:41); and on the other hand, to actually endure tribulation in the form of persecutions and hardships and attacks. They needed to go back again, remember how they used to be, and rekindle those old fires of devotion to Jesus.

B. There was also not only a willingness to suffer on their own part, but also a willingness to have fellowship with those who were mistreated for the gospel. He reminds them that they partly endured suffering themselves, “and partly while you became companions of those who were so treated, for you had compassion on me in my chains . . .” (vv. 33b-34a). Some Greek texts have it that they had compassion on “us”; which might make this a reference to the apostles in general. But if this is a reference to the author, it may mean that they had shown compassion personally and directly on him in ways that were similar to how many of Paul’s readers also had joined in fellowship with him during his times of suffering (see Philippians 1:7; 4:10-20). He once urged Timothy while writing from prison, “Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God” (2 Timothy 1:8). The writer of Hebrews reminded his readers of how they also partnered with those who suffered for the cause of the gospel—and had thus, in times past, demonstrated great faithfulness.

C. They also demonstrated this great faithfulness in the past even by a willingness to lose this world’s goods for the sake of heaven. The writer reminded them of how they demonstrated a great confidence in their suffering in the past; “and joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods, knowing that you have a better and an enduring possession for yourselves in heaven” (v. 34b). They had, in the earlier days of their sojourn, been willing to take the words of their Lord to heart: “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:11-12). They had, in earlier days, been willing to suffer the loss of temporal things for the cause of Christ through the plundering of their goods (perhaps through unjust legal action taken against them, or by open robbery and theft)—hoping instead to “lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 6:20).

* * * * * * * * * *

The writer wanted to remind them of those acts of past faithfulness, so that they would resist the present temptations to draw back. But there were still even more reasons for hope that lay ahead in heavenly glory. And so, he reminds them of . . .


A. First, he reminds them of the prospect of heavenly reward. He urges them, “Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward” (v. 35). Jesus, who Himself suffered the loss of all for us, once told His disciples, “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life” (Matthew 19:29). Those who suffer loss for Jesus are assured of great reward. The apostle Paul, after a life of trials and struggles for the cause of Christ, wrote these confident and victorious words shortly before being executed for his faithfulness:

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing (2 Timothy 4:6-8).

B. There is also the promise of Jesus’ return to serve as a great motivation for our faithfulness. The struggles we experience now are nothing compared to the glories we will enjoy when He reigns on this earth. The writer tells them, “For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise . . .” (v. 36). And here, he quotes the promise from God that is contained in from Habakkuk 2:3-4;

For yet a little while,
And He who is coming will come and will not tarry.
Now the just shall live by faith;
But if anyone draws back,
My soul has no pleasure in him” (vv. 37-38).

As Jesus Himself said, “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels” (Mark 8:35-38). To put all our hopes in the promise of His return is to have a great motivation for endurance to the end!

C. Finally, the writer makes an appeal to the preservation of our souls as a cause for endurance. He tells his readers, “But we are not of those who draw back to perdition [that is, “destruction”], but of those who believe to the saving of the soul” (v. 39). The word that he uses for “saving” is a word that means “preservation”. And here, he speaks very much in the manner of the words of the Lord Jesus, who calls us to be willing to lose our lives for Him in order to save them for the time of His return. As Jesus has said in Luke 21:16-19;

You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But not a hair of your head shall be lost. By your patience possess your souls (Luke 21:16-19).

* * * * * * * * * *

Now; to spur his readers on, the writer of Hebrews goes on from here to review the sacred history from the Scriptures of those who, by faith, endured to the end. That’s the content of Hebrews 11. It’s one of the truly great chapters of the Bible! But let’s learn the lesson from the passage before us. Let’s fully accept the invitation that Christ has made possible for us—the invitation to draw fully into the presence of God as His fully accepted, fully loved children. And even if we suffer for a time in this world because of it, let’s make sure we are not among those who draw back!

May God help us never to cast away our confidence!

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