Session 5

Guard your heart

There are sober warning sections in the book of Hebrews. We do well to take them seriously. We have received a gift that has to be guarded.

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Session 5 ... transcript

Guard your heart

The Bible says: "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life" (Proverbs 4:23)

Christianity isn't something that's done to you. It's a life you participate in. You aren't passive. You aren't a puppet-on-a-string.

We don't earn salvation. It's faith in Jesus that saves us. And we receive faith as a gift from God. But it is a gift that has to be guarded.

Neglecting our faith may start a slide toward a place where we no longer believe in Jesus.

The book of Hebrews explains how Jesus is much better than angels or men, and we have a better covenant with better promises. In the midst of these inspiring words there are five solemn warning sections. There are five warnings because a slide is on view.

It's possible to start out well but to neglect faith, to resist the Holy Spirit, to fall away and to end up in deliberate, wilful sin ... becoming a person who despises God.

That's not something anyone likes to contemplate, but better to take God seriously, and not ignore what the Bible says.

Warning #1 comes in chapter two, the first four verses. Don't neglect the life of faith. Don't drift away. We have received a "great salvation" ... the forgiveness of our sins, adoption into God's family, the promise of eternal life. Now, the Bible says: "Pay attention".

The second warning section is from Chapter 3, verse 5 to chapter 4, verse 16. It's a warning to not harden your heart to the Holy Spirit.

We receive the Holy Spirit when we are born again. We need Him. We need His power. In ourselves, we are weak. But He is all-powerful, and He helps us in our weakness. He nudges us when we are taking a wrong path. We are making a mistake if we ignore Him.

We don't live under a set of rules. We have a Father in heaven who loves us. And, like any father, He wants the best for us. He is for us. not against us. We are called on to draw near to Him ... "so that we may find grace to help in our time of need." (Hebrews 4:16).

The third warning is found from chapter 5, verse 11 to chapter 6, verse 12. We are to press on, and not fall away.

We have to hold on to faith in Jesus to the end. We are to imitate faithful people and show patience and endurance.

The fourth warning section is found in chapter 10, verses 26 to 39.

The Bible says "we all stumble in many ways" (James 3:2) No one is perfect in themselves. But there is a difference between a stumble and a lifestyle of deliberate, wilful sin.

The fourth warning section addresses the person who has drifted away and hardened their heart, and is now living in rebellion against God. The section says this is a "terrifying" thing.

God appeals to us to not throw away our confidence in Jesus. Don't "shrink back", He says.

The fifth warning section is in chapter 12, verses 14 to 29. Don't despise the grace of God. Instead, maintain a heart of gratitude to God for all that He has done for us.

The answer in all this, the Bible says, is to "fix your eyes on Jesus" (Hebrews 12:2) "Consider Him" it says (Hebrews 2:3). He endured. With His help, you can too.

It's not pleasant to consider that it's possible for a person to have once believed in Jesus, and then to have walked away. There are Christians who ignore these warnings in the book of Hebrews. They say that a believer cannot lose their salvation.

They sometimes quote these words of Jesus: "My sheep ... follow Me ... they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of My hand." (John 10:27-29)

That's a wonderful promise. But note that Jesus doesn't say that it is impossible for them to climb out of His hand and go their own way.

We should also note that a little further on in the same book, Jesus says: "If anyone does not abide in Me, he is like a dry branch that is thrown away ... and cast into the fire ..." (John 15:6)

I am grateful for Jesus' assurance that no one can get to me when I am in His hand, but that doesn't take away my responsibility to stay attached to Him. There is a comfort, and a warning, that go together in the same book. "Abide in Me ...", Jesus says. It's an appeal. Stay attached to Him.

Here's another Scripture that some quote. It's from Paul's letter to the Romans.

"I am convinced that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:37-39)

That's another wonderful assurance. The key is to be "in Christ". You have security as long as you are "in Him". Paul doesn't say that we can't separate ourselves from Jesus.

A little further on in the same letter, Paul writes: "Behold the kindness and severity of God ... kindness if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off." (Romans 11:22)

There is a word of comfort and then a warning, that we have salvation as long as we stay in faith in Jesus.

Christianity is not a white-knuckled ride where we may lose everything at any moment. We have a Father in heaven who demonstrated His love for by sending His Son to pay our debt ... and a Saviour who willingly bought us with His blood. And we have the Holy Spirit to help us.

But, of course, we have a part to play. Of course, we need to co-operate. And we do so in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Go now to the next session: "Walk in the Spirit"