The Cure for a Calloused Heart
I want to encourage you to turn to Hebrews chapter 3. We’re going to dive through this chapter. I’m going to spend a little bit of time really focusing on the first verse, and getting into the larger context, but let me just set the stage for where we’re going. Hebrews, a beautiful book, love what it does for us. It takes the images of the Old Testament, both the positions God created for worship for his people, and the symbolism in the worship that they had in the Old Testament and they tie it all together to show how it culminates in Christ.
It takes the idea of temple, sacrifice, lamb, sabbath, law and it shows us how it’s important in the Lord, and then it takes these positions, which we’ve discussed already in the first two chapters of prophet priest and king, and shows us how all of it culminates in Jesus. In essence, it really takes all the Sunday School stories you might have heard growing up, and it ties them all together so they’re not just loose end stories unto themselves, but shows the bigger picture of what God is orchestrating.
The things that God created in the Old Testament aren’t an end unto themselves, but are a picture of what would ultimately be fulfilled in Jesus. The bible refers to them as shadows, everything that I just mentioned to you. The reason this is important for us, I think even as believers to discuss is that we have a tendency as people to create sacred cows.
Sometimes we make big deals out of things that we realize when we step back for a minute that they probably shouldn’t be as big of a deal as what we’ve made them to be. In fact, we can fixate on them so much that we begin to worship the method rather than see the method for what it was intended to be. When it comes to methodology, I think that’s important and I think we really see it hinted to or demonstrated for us in scripture. When you read through the New Testament, one of the things that you’ll see is that there’s nowhere you can really turn to in the New Testament that tells you exactly what should happen when God’s believers gather together. What’s the order of a gathering? What should a service, we call it, look like?
There are things that are discussed that the church did when they gathered together, but there’s not this order of service that every church throughout every century was dictated to, have to do and perform when they gather together. I think the reason God gave us freedom in that, though he gave us some thoughts on what we should share within the context as we gather. The reason God gave us freedom was that every culture is different. Even generationally, what looked like, what was familiar in one generation may not be the same in the next generation. God gives us flexibility, depending on the cultural context and the time period in which you are, to leverage your culture to better speak the truth into the hearts of people.
It’s a beautiful thing. That’s why wherever you go in the world, you should hear the same message taught with God’s people, but there’s different ways in which God’s church worships. It’s a beautiful thing. We don’t marry methods, and if we marry methods, we risk becoming irrelevant to the next generation. In essence what I’m saying is be careful what cows you make sacred.
Hebrews really challenges us to put into perspective some of the pinnacle images of the Old Testament and illustrating for us how they culminate in Jesus. Now in saying everything that I just said about methods, I want us to know that practice is important. Some of the things that we do as a church become important because they become staples to your life. Like if I said to you this morning, there’s certain things in your Christian life where when you’ve met the Lord or made decisions for Christ that you can go back and sing a special song or something happens in a church service that you just maybe remember growing up as a kid that when that happens, it takes you back to that place, and it really ties your faith together. Those things are important. I don’t want to undermine those.
Organization is important. Every organism that exists requires organization. Every living thing has to have some organization to it. Otherwise they can’t exist. But here’s the trick is, too much organization and you become a statue. Too little and you become chaos. When you think about the reason for which God created his church, God did some profound things when he created his church. He tells us, by the power that lives in the church, through the Spirit that you can storm down the gates of hell. That’s pretty cool, right? But the foundation of the power that’s represented in the church is in our identity.
We want to make sure that we make a big deal out of the things that are supposed to be a big deal. When it comes to defining the purpose of the church, every purpose for which anyone would dictate as is regarded to the church, it must rest in the great commission and the great commandment. The great commission is to go into the world and make disciples. We don’t define the purpose of the church. God did. He created the purpose of the church to make disciples in the world, fully devoted followers of Christ.
The church isn’t a building. The church is God’s people. God’s desire is to reach hearts. He tells us to love God, love others. We fulfill the call of God to make disciples by loving God with all our hearts. When we love God, if we love God then we’re going to love people. We’re going to love the things that God loves, and what God loves is people so much that he gave his life. So we pursue the hearts of people to proclaim the goodness of God, that they can find their identity in him.
Every organization has to have organization. Every organism needs organization in order to live, but you want to have the priorities put in the right place. You don’t want to make sacred cows over methodologies that weren’t intended to last into generations, but to use them for exactly what they are. They’re just methods, and to find yourself rooted on the things that are to endure.
Hebrews chapter 3, verse 1, starts off that way. The author says it like this. “Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus the apostle and high priest of our confession. He was faithful to him who appointed him as Moses also was in all his house.” So he starts talking about the particulars of Jesus in verse 2, but before he dives into that, verse 1 really shares the anthem for what God’s community is about together. If you think about your identity, it’s not just loosey goosey floating around, whatever you want it to do. No, God created his church for a purpose and making that purpose a priority has to do with the power and authority that God calls us to in this world.
If you go back to Matthew 16:18, which I just referenced, where Jesus says, “The gates of hell will not even prevail against his church,” all of that was based on a confession. Jesus looks to his disciples and said, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter says you are the Christ. Jesus looks back to Peter and said, “Blessed are you Simon bar Jonah.” He calls him Peter, which means little rock, and he says, “Based on your profession of faith in the bigger rock,” who is Jesus, “I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail.”
The identity of Christ becomes central to the anthem of what we’re about and the worship that we engaged in. This is what sets us apart from anything in the world. This was what makes us unique. This is what we rally around. Hebrews chapter 3, this is where he’s starting. Remember, what we talked about with Hebrews is that this church, this early church is about to face persecution to a depth they had not experienced before.
When life throws these kind of curve balls at you, it has a tendency to do something with the heart. It can either make you stronger, more committed in Christ or you can get a big jaded. Your heart can become calloused. The thing that draws you back in the pursuit of Jesus in the midst of challenges is the love of God in your life and the love of God you demonstrate back to him, reminding you of the basics of what your foundation is.
This is what he says. “Therefore,” this summary word. “Therefore, holy brethren.” This word brethren, it can be translated brethren but I think it more accurately fits the identity of brotherhood or siblings. What it’s saying is, it’s not just written to dudes. It’s saying, church, the brotherhood, the family. Here comes your identity. He says, “Partakers of a heavenly calling, no longer do you live for the identity of this world, but you recognize your life is about the next.” Right?
His kingdom. His glory. So he says this word then. Consider Jesus. So look in the brotherhood, this anthem, living for a different world. Consider Jesus. He’s not just saying it like this. You know, let’s just take a couple seconds and think about this so we can move on with our life. This word consider literally means pay careful attention. This is your resting spot. When life rocks you, this is where you come back to define identity. This is who God made you to be. Holy brethren, set apart. A set apart brotherhood.
Many times, anyone creates an organization, a club, there’s a reason behind it, right? This is your reason. Partakers of a holy or heavenly calling, considering with careful attention, Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession. Now we’ve talked about some of the titles that Hebrews has given to Jesus, prophet, priest and king, but he introduced a new one here. The idea of an apostle. Why would he do that?
He doesn’t just say an apostle. A high priest. He says the apostle and the high priest of our confession, right? Our confession, this is your creed. This is your anthem, right? This is the central figure of all that we are. He’s calling him an apostle and high priest. Now why in this section is he introducing a new title? I mean, we just got past prophet, priest and king. Why now are we talking about apostle?
When you read the New Testament you see this office created. There was I think a specific office for certain people who were apostles, picked by Christ to go into this world to proclaim the gospel. The idea of apostle literally means one sent forth. We use it today in not the capital A, office of apostle sense, but more of a little a, when we use the word missionary. Anytime a Christian sends someone out to plant a church, like my wife and I moved here years ago to start this church. We were sent out. We’re called missionaries in other places, more pastor here.
You’re sent out. That’s like an apostle, little a. That’s what this word means in its most crude form, one sent forth. But when it comes to Jesus being called an apostle here or the apostle, I think there’s a little bit bigger picture, and let me explain.
Jesus different than all other apostles, the distinction’s made in being the one here. When you consider what’s been said about Jesus in Hebrews chapter 1 and Hebrews chapter 2, Hebrews 1 starts off talking about Jesus being the prophet. If you remember it said, “In former times, in the times past, God spoke to the prophets, but today in the last days,” it says, “God speaks to us through Jesus.” So he is the final revelation, the culmination of all things.
Then as it got into Hebrews chapter 1, into chapter 2, all the way to verse 4, it starts to compare Jesus with angels because the challenge is, when you’re reading Hebrews, you see Jesus is this last messenger and the question on the minds of the people would be, okay, well what is Jesus? How do we rank him? How do we think about him? We want to categorize things to make us feel comfortable. We tend to do that as people.
So they start thinking of Jesus as this higher angelic being. So what the author does is he starts off verse 4 and 5 and says no, Jesus is actually the exact imprint of God because he is God. He’s greater than the angels because he is God. So when you define the word angel, the word angel literally means messenger. So when you think about the prophet, the prophet is God’s spokesman to the people, that he would represent what God wanted before the people.
In the case of Jesus, he represents what the Father wants before the people. The prophet is the spokesman. An angel is a messenger. The apostles are the same thing, one sent forth. Jesus is this last, the, the final dictation of the culmination of everything God desires. That makes him the apostle. The one sent forth to you. Not only is he the one sent forth from the Father. He’s also a high priest. The high priest.
What that means is while Jesus came on behalf of the Father to communicate about God to you, he’s saying to you, God loves you. God’s pursuing you. God is sending his Son to die for you, so that he can be your high priest, meaning so that Jesus could become flesh and stand in your place, to understand and sympathize with you as high priest, so that as a high priest he could represent you back to the Father.
That’s why Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me.” So not only is he sent, as the prophet he is proclaimed as your priest. This becomes central to your identity because he is the connection in your relationship with God. He is everything. So in thinking about that, he starts to describe it this way. He says in verse 2, “He was faithful to him who appointed him as Moses also was in all of his house.” If you think about this word house, it’s actually maybe a more specific translation would be household. He sees God’s people as a household.
Peter describes us that way in 1 Peter chapter 2. You are a household in God’s family, and Moses was a part of that household, an important piece, right? Jesus was faithful to the Father who appointed him as Moses was also in all of his household. I like what he does in verse 2. He’s writing Hebrews to the Hebrews, right? What he’s doing is he’s creating common ground.
So what Hebrews does is it really conflicts sometimes with individuals that create sacred cows over particulars of theology, that won’t let God. Because it’s going to challenge your thinking, but when you’re challenged in your thinking, what you want to do, is you don’t want to come in with a sledgehammer. You want to build common ground. So Moses is beautiful common ground. People considered him just a great leader, historically for the Jews, and so, they’re comparing what Moses did to the service of Jesus and they use that as a place to build.
Now let me stop here theologically and talk about something. It says that Jesus was faithful to the Father who appointed him. I want you to know, in living in Utah, open myself up. Anyone ever wants to ask me any question about any theology or why we do anything at the church, please feel free. We want you to have an open platform, as a church family, to feel comfortable to do that. We don’t get defensive. There’s no question that is considered taboo. Just ask it.
One of the big questions I get asked commonly about living here is this statement in verse 2. He was faithful to him who appointed him, because theologically, as we’ve stated together, we recognize that Jesus was fully God. Actually he is, when Jesus became flesh, we talked about this last week. Jesus is not only fully God but he’s also fully man. We read in John 1, in the beginning was the word, who is Jesus, and the word was with God, talking about the Father and the word was God. Then it goes on, verse 14, “And the word became flesh and dwelt among us.”
In Christianity we talk about the godhead, the trinity, right? And Jesus is the only one in the triunity of God to become flesh. The Father, the Spirit have no flesh and blood. Jesus was the only one to become flesh and the reason Jesus did that was to become a sufficient sacrifice and savior for your sin. He had to become flesh to pay for the sins of flesh. Jesus took that on himself. The confusion comes before people because they have this erroneous concept of really the identity of who Christ is. What I get asked is when Jesus is walking this earth in the flesh …
Jesus was walking this earth in the flesh. You look at stories like Jesus’ baptism. When Jesus was baptized, it tells us the Father speaks and the Spirit descends in the form of a dove. The question is, well, how did … If Jesus is God, how did that happen? Did Jesus just throw his voice like a ventriloquist and make the Father talk? Since Jesus is down here and, therefore, the father talks? The answer is no. Christianity does not believe that at all.
In fact, people tend to think, sometimes we think Jesus and the Father are the same thing, so Jesus is here and then he’ll all of a sudden morph into the Father and all of a sudden morph in the Spirit. We don’t believe that at all. That’s considered heresy, and the church has condemned it over and over since the beginning of Christianity. That is not Biblical. Okay? Do not believe that. Christianity does not believe that.
Here’s what we believe. There is only one God. In fact, the Old Testament is so strong, monotheistic in the belief of one God, to walk away saying anything else is saying, “I never read the Old Testament,” because when the Old Testament was written, it was written to a group that was polytheistic, and God wanted to really see his identity, and so he writes the Old Testament, monotheistic, one God. In fact, Isaiah 43:10, Isaiah 44:6 and 8, we’ve read this together. It says, “There’s only one God. There’s only ever been one God. There will only ever be one God.” In Christianity, we say, “There is only one God.” And the Bible calls Father, Son, and Spirit God. In fact, when you think about the triunity of God in the Old Testament, Genesis 1:26, God says, “Let us …” in the plural, “Let us make man in our image.”
Then he goes back to the singular. He made man in his image. When God created in the beginning it says, “God speaks and the Spirit hovers.” You see this triunity working in Jesus before he ascends into heaven after his resurrection. In Matthew 28:19 and 20, he tells us to go to this world and make disciples and baptize them under this authority, in the name of the Father, Son, Holy Spirit. He takes this idea of God and he equates it equally in Father, Son, and Spirit. What we say as a church is there is one God existing equally in three persons, Father, Son, and Spirit, all of them, 100% God but distinct from one another. Jesus is not the Father. The Father is not the Son. The Spirit is not Jesus. They’re all distinct from each other, and that’s seen in Jesus’ last thing when he says, “Baptize in the name of the Father, Son, Holy Spirit.”
That’s why when Jesus is baptized, the Spirit descends and the Father can speak, because Jesus is not the Father. So when you look at this passage of Jesus serving the Father, there’s still questions to ponder with this section because Jesus became flesh. Theologians call this the hypostatic union where Jesus, 100% God, creator of all things becomes flesh. He takes on flesh and still being 100% God, he becomes 100% man. Why? One is so he can be a sufficient sacrifice for you, and two, in the flesh so he can demonstrate to you what it looks like to follow after God, what does it look like to be faithful in flesh, and Jesus lives that out. And I want you to know this, guys, that this idea of a hypostatic union has astounded theologians throughout the centuries.
In fact, one of the earliest statements you can find in the Bible comes in Philippians, chapter two. It actually starts in verse three, but I’m going to show you from verse five. In Philippians chapter two, verse five, Paul makes a statement here, but he’s actually writing a song that the early church had been singing for several years before Paul even wrote this letter. And the reason the church wrote this song was because they’re looking at Jesus trying to figure out how Jesus, being fully God and being fully man, what does that mean and what does that look like? And so they created this song to sing to one another as they gathered together to remind them of the identity of Jesus, because Jesus is our anthem. It’s the doxology of the church. It’s the place we come back to as an organism that’s got organization, I should say.
This is what this said, “Have this attitude in yourselves which is also in Christ Jesus …” See, in the flesh, he’s been an example. “… who although he existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but he emptied himself, taking the form of a bondservant and being made in the likeness of men, being found in appearance as a man. He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross.” What it’s saying about Jesus is Jesus was God, but while still being God, he showed us how to live a life of service, but becoming the greatest servant to ever live by dying for you to the point of death.
And it goes on and tells us from here now that God has highly exalted him so that every knee will bow to Jesus. So it’s this picture of Jesus being God again. And so what it’s saying to us, he didn’t ever cease being God, but it’s now living in that. What it’s saying about Jesus in this story is that Jesus was God in the flesh and when he walked into a room to serve people, he didn’t demand immediately everyone recognize me as God, but rather in being God, he chose to serve, fully God, fully man.
It starts to show Jesus and his humility in this story, faithfully serving just as Moses to tie this, this common bond. And then it breaks away a little bit from that. It says this, “For he has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, but just so much as the builder of the house has more honor than the house, for every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.” So, it’s saying in this story Moses was good. It’s not trying to undermine Moses, but he’s saying, “Look, Moses was a part of the household. The builder of the house is greater and Jesus is the builder of the House.” Oh, by the way, in verse four, “The builder of the House is also God.” It’s saying while Jesus is serving, Jesus is also God in the context of this passage.
I love that the author’s doing this because you can think of this context, in the Hebrew people, it’s really popular to talk about Moses. I mean when you make your top five list of most important people to exist in Jewish history, if Moses isn’t in your top five, you got something wrong with you, right? Moses is up there. It’s like he’s doing this comparison now in our lives of the debate between Michael Jordan, Lebron James here, who’s the greater? And anyone that says Lebron can leave now. I’m just kidding. But we know the answer is Michael Jordan? Right? You look at this versus and it’s like who’s greater? Jesus or Moses? Are you making sacred cows out of things you don’t need to make sacred cows over? Maybe with Michael Jordan, but who cares? We know I’m right.
But the point of what he’s saying here is Jesus is greater. Moses was just a piece of the greater purpose. He’s saying he’s been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, but by just so much as the builder of the house has more honor than the house, for every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God. It’s like this in our culture, and I probably should use this because I just used a sports illustration, but people get really passionate about things that just don’t matter after tomorrow. If I said, “Who won the super bowl two years ago?” probably most of us watched it or at least the commercials or something. But when it comes to remembering that, I’ll tell you, it was the Patriots. But a lot of people can’t remember that because it doesn’t matter. But, man, in the moment, so passionate.
You think about the Jewish people here, let’s talk about Moses. Moses is the man. He is my man. Well, I’m picking Abraham. Well, you’re worse because I got Moses. And then all of a sudden you drop … You go to a room where people were talking about things that don’t matter, and then you try dropping this, “Hey, guys, what about God?” You drop the God bombers like, mmm, we don’t talk about those things. Right? I mean the reason for which you were created, why you matter, where you get your worth value, meaning in life, let’s not deal with this. Okay? Let’s talk about semantical things that tomorrow I’m not going to care about, but today I’ll punch you in the face over. That’s what it’s like in this passage. It’s saying, “Yeah, Moses was important, but don’t lose sight of what’s most important.” Putting the priorities where they matter.
I think the psalmist, or excuse me, the author of Hebrews did this beautifully for us. He’s telling us when you read these first two chapters, God didn’t just make this up. This has been ordained from the beginning and, in fact, he’s quoted several times throughout the psalms how to find this in the book of Hebrews, and we’ve looked at some of those passages. He goes back to psalm two, verse seven. He goes to psalm 45, verse six and seven. He goes to psalm eight and he shows us these were considered, the majority of them anyway, kingship psalms, and Israel would sing it to the king, but they noticed as they would sing these psalms before their king that they’re also messianic, because those psalms could not be fulfilled ultimately by man.
And so the author has just been building this case for us to help us see the significance of Jesus in our lives. And then he goes on from here in verse five and six, he says, “Now Moses was faithful in all his house as a servant.” He’s saying Moses was important. You don’t want to throw Moses under the bus. Moses was a faithful servant in all the house. And look at this, “For a testimony of those things which were to be spoken later,” but he’s saying, look, while Moses was important and he was faithful, which is great, I hope it can be said of us, we meet Jesus face to face, one thing can be said, “You were faithful.”
But then he says this about Moses, that the testimony which he shared were to be spoken later, that ultimately the point of Moses wasn’t Moses. It was something greater. Then he says this in verse six, “But Christ was faithful as a Son over his house, whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end.” The power of the church rests on this anthem. That’s why I was saying to you guys, don’t just take this lightly and don’t just take this as another story out of a series of Bible stories, but see how this ties together in Jesus, because this is what we’re built in as his house and the power of his church rests in this.
This is how we move forward. You want to know how the gates of hell prevail or don’t prevail? Excuse me. We don’t want to prevail. It’s resting in the rock that is Jesus. And then as he’s talking about this, the author takes a step back because we can read this and be like, oh, okay, I’m doing that. Right? This is me, anthem. I’m singing that praise. I’m living on that rock. And then he starts to say in Hebrews chapter three, verse seven … He goes back into the Old Testament and he quotes psalm 95, and psalm 95 is a beautiful psalm, if you want to read it later this week. In the first six verses, he talks about this glorious God, how beautiful he is and worthy of worship.
And then in verse seven, he starts to talk about people who have seen God in this great glory and turned from him, and the people he’s talking about are the Jewish people that were taken out of Egyptian slavery and wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. People who have historically seen some of the greatest miracles God has ever done and in those moments their hearts were calloused, they were jaded. And he’s saying this as if to say, this is where our hearts can go.
Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as when they provoked me as on the day of trial in the wilderness,” talking about the wandering out of Egypt, “where your fathers tried me by testing me and saw my work for 40 years. Therefore, I was angry with this generation and said they always go astray in their hearts and they did not know my ways. As I swore in my wrath, they shall not enter my rest.” We’ll talk about rest in a little while, but you see that God, this God sending Christ this apostle to reach hearts performing some of the greatest miracles, and yet hearts were hardened, deadened on the inside.
Yeah, you look at a psalm like this, and I got to tell you, when I think about if anyone ever wrote a song in my life, if I could just say, I would rather not have a song written about me than have one like this, would work here, and it’s saying we’re going to sing songs about all the mess-ups you’ve made with your life. And it’s going to be an example to the future generations to not live this life. That’s what psalm 95 is, talking about the people in this time period, don’t be this. And their hearts were hardened and seeing some of the greatest things God had ever done and they still, they still walked too proud to turn to the Lord.
You think about this psalm and maybe Hebrews, this section in Hebrews, as it relates to the place around us, and I think the psalmist to provoke us for the state of the heart of individuals around us. If you love God, you’ll love the things that God loves, and what God loves is people because he gave his life for them. We can have the tendency to live this way. Guys, I want to encourage you when it comes to Christianity, please don’t be afraid of where the truth will take you. Be hungry to ask questions and learn.
In following after Christ with my life, this is what I’ve found, is a lot of people in this world base religious beliefs off of feelings, and at the end of the day, feelings aren’t facts and feelings can mislead you. But when it comes to Christianity in comparison to other beliefs in this world … And this isn’t said to be mean to other religions. This is just being honest. Nothing holds a candle to it. Nothing compares. It almost feels ridiculous when you historically study Christianity and the validity of its foundation and you compare it to anything else. Because they use the word religion, it’s like it can be in the same ballpark.
And I’m telling you, there is nothing, there is nothing that compares to the validity of Christianity. It’s why we say here as a church, please fill an open door to always ask questions and ask if … I don’t care if you ask a thousand, but we need to have a place to do that because Christianity is that rock solid. But I hope in just seeing the psalm, it has our heart compelled for the same way God feels for those in this world. God is love, and in that love, it compelled him to give himself away for the hearts of people and reaching hearts.
One of my favorite passages in scripture and in the pursuit of a heart is in Titus, chapter three, where Paul is writing to Titus about reaching people, and this is what he says, “Malign no one. Be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men, for we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another.” What it’s saying is, look, when the Lord chose you, it wasn’t because you were special because of something great you did. It was because you were special because of something great he did. And it’s a bit humbling to stop and think of where your …
… and it’s a bit humbling to stop and think of where your heart was apart from Jesus. But when you see where your heart is apart from Jesus, it softens your heart to the heart of others, and you want them to experience that same loving God that you experienced. And so in saying that, notice what it doesn’t say in verse four. It doesn’t say, “And now that you know that God, go into this world and beat the tar over the heads of all people until they …” It doesn’t say that, right? It doesn’t say, “Be their Holy Spirit of conviction and guilt the snot out of everyone you see. Notice it doesn’t say that in this passage, right?
What it’s telling us in this section is about to tell us is you can’t argue people into the Kingdom of God, but here’s what it says in 7:4, “But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us. Not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy” so it’s not according to your wonderful works, but His mercy that rescued you.
Look, what compelled the heart to embrace Christ wasn’t the guilt and the shame bashing from other people, it was the love of God. Love compelled the love of Christ. And can I tell you the place that Jesus desires to demonstrate His love? Is in His people. He rescued you, saved you, redeemed you, restored you to be a light in this world and you reflect His love in the lives of the people around you. So while we say as a church, we have some core values that I think just reflect what it takes to represent Jesus in this world.
We definitely want to worship in truth. We don’t shy away from truth because truth is what transforms us. It’s the catalyst for change in our lives. We don’t want to be afraid of it. We want to pursue it. Jesus prayed, in John 17:17, “God, sanctify them in the truth. Thy Your word is truth,” which means set them apart in Your truth. It’s where we find identity. It’s what we’re talking in Hebrews. It’s the anthem of who we are. So we worship in truth, but at the same time, while we worship in truth, we share that truth and love. Meaning it’s not about fighting against people, but rather fighting for people. It’s not about proving we’re right and someone else is wrong. It’s about leveraging the truth to serve others just as Jesus used His truth to serve us.
“Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus who being in the form of God took on the form of a servant even to death on the cross” Philippians two. We don’t use truth to put ourselves above people, to show that we’re right and they’re wrong. We use truth to get beneath people to serve them so that they can become all that God has called them to be. We worship in truth, we share the truth in love, and in desiring to do that, we want to become all things to all people. We don’t want people to meet us where we are, rather we want to go to meet them where they are. That’s why Jesus used the word “Apostle” it’s why Jesus called us in the world to make disciples. We don’t create this as a fortress, we create this place as a launching pad to go into this world and represent Christ in the hearts of people.
We want to love people where they are, and understand we all come to Christ from different places, different questions, different needs, different backgrounds and baggages, and all sorts of things. But God’s called each of us to reach out in this world where people are and love them as Jesus loved them. In thinking about that, I don’t want to put the thought too far onto other people. Like when we think about Psalm 95:7-11, how these people saw these great miracles and turned their hearts to God is good, for God to give us a heart for our value that way. But I don’t want to focus so much on the outside that we neglect ourselves because here’s the reality, if you’re not healthy in your walk with God you’re not ever going to be able to reach out to people as far as Christ is anyway. When you’re healthy in your relationship to Jesus, that’s when you carry the heart of God for others.
In Hebrews 3:12, it comes back to that. It says look, take care brethren. Take care of brotherhood that there not be in any of you an evil unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. But encourage one another day after day as long it’s still called today so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold fast the beginning of assurance from until the end while it is said today, if you hear His voice do not harden your hearts as when they provoked me. What it’s reminding us here is it’s now where is your soul in all of this because life can get you jaded, your heart can get hardened. But it reminds us in verse 13 to encourage one another as long as you have today. It’s saying everyone of us has a responsibility. It’s communicating to us when someone comes to our doors, every soul matters to God. And this is the moment, no matter where your heart had been to encourage one another in Christ.
I think about what falling away might look like here. Maybe in the basic sense someone’s saying, “You know, I’m still going to be good, but I’m just not going to pursue this God thing anymore.” But the Lord in this passage, I think He’s referring to this as rebellion or sin because we’re created for Him. The reality is when you’re heart becomes hardened, like it’s saying in this passage of Scripture. When you’ve gone through life and it’s made you calloused, it’s made you jaded, is that we can become prisoners of our past. And in doing so we let our past dictate our future rather that allow our past to provide us wisdom to navigate today. Jesus called us to be gate stormers against Hell. That by His power you see God do miraculous things in the hearts of people. You can let the past define you, or you can allow it to refine you with who you are in Christ. That’s this place where we’re making this conscious awareness of asking the question of where’s my heart in relationship to Jesus.
I think about Peter in Scripture where Jesus had a number of disciples leave Him and He turns to His closest disciples and He said, “Are you going to leave me too?” And Peter looks back and says, “To where we go you have the words of life.” And Peter’s the same one that gave the profession that you are the Christ, the living God. And Jesus says, “Upon that confession I will build my church. The gates of Hell will not prevail against it.” In just a few passages later Peter is cussing about Jesus, denying Christ. His heart was jaded. Where’s Jesus in all of that?
I love the stories the Gospels tells us because right after Jesus is crucified, after Peter denies Him, Jesus resurrects and Jesus shows up on the shores of Peter’s done fishing. And He comes to Peter and He communes with Peter, He has breakfast with Peter, and He says, “Peter, do you love me?” Do you love me? Isn’t it beautiful to know when you think about today’s Father’s Day and all of the baggage of life that happens in those types of relationships. And some of us may look at life, and be like, “You know, I had a great father.” Others look at life and think, “Man, I had a bad father” and when you think about God being described as a Father, sometimes that’s hard for us. But here’s what you’re seeing in the story, no matter what your earthly father was like, God is a good Father. Because here’s Peter in the midst of his failure, cursing at Jesus at His greatest hour of need, and Jesus shows up the shores of his life, communing with him and says, “Peter, do you love me?” While Peter’s love was limited, God’s love was still unending and pursuing him.
Now here’s the crazy part guys, is we can see a story like that, and we can see God’s love, and we can say yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, I agree with that. But you know our heart can still be proud and not want to turn to Him. And that’s where this story ends in verse 16 to 18. It says this, “For who provoked Him when they had heard? Indeed, did not all those out of Egypt led by Moses, and with whom was He angry for 40 years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell on the wilderness? And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest but to those who are disobedient. So we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief.” Pride. Pride in the pursuit of what they desired above God in their life is what they pursued. It tells us in this story that because of that they did not enter His rest. Can I tell you what the Lord desires for your life? To rest in Him.
We’re going to talk about the full picture of that rest next week because he dives more into it in chapter four. But God desires for you to rest in Him. That’s what Jesus said in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” It’s your anthem. But yet, what keeps us from that? It’s pride. What does God think about you? We see a God that pursues you in the midst of sin, but why? Why let the heart? Why let the heart fight against that? And the question for all of us is do you love Him? When Jesus becomes our greatest delight, nothing will keep us from pursuing Him.
I’ll end with this story. There was a man in the 1700s by the name Robert Robinson. He became a believer I believe under the preaching of George Whitefield, which was during the Great Awakening periods. And this man actually went on to become a pastor, a minister. And while he was a minister he wrote a song, it’s called Come Thou Fountain. He also coincidentally he had the tightest jheri curl to ever exist in the history there, so. 1757 he wrote Come Thou Fountain, and he was in the ministry. And years in the ministry all of a sudden his heart became callous, and he left.
He was in England when he born, raised into ministry, and history tells us that after he left the ministry, he went on to France and he just indulged his life in sin. One night, as he was leaving he got in a carriage and was riding with a group of people back to wherever I guess he was staying. But he got in the carriage, I guess his modern day Uber transportation. So he was riding this carriage, and there’s a young lady in this carriage who had just become a follower of Christ, and she’s reading poems. She looks at this man that came in and she wants to read him this poem and asks him … she wants to know his opinion. So he obliges, he’s going to give it to her, so she opens up her book and she begins to read this poem. To Robert’s surprise, he hadn’t realized that the song that he had written had become so popular, and the very poem that she reads to him in this carriage is the one that he wrote.
She begins to read this poem, she then looks up and she concludes to ask him what he thinks about that. And she sees a man broken in tears, and he confesses to her, “I wrote that poem, but I have no idea to get back to that God that I loved so dearly.” And she looks at him and says, “Don’t you see? It’s in the third line of the very song that you wrote. ‘Streams of mercy never ceasing.'” And that night in that carriage, Robert gave his heart back to God.
What I’m saying for us this morning guys, life has ups and downs, but Jesus is our anthem. And God cares deeply for where your heart is right now no matter how far you feel you fall. Streams of mercy are deeper still. Why? Because God desires for you to rest in Him. That’s why you were made. That’s why today exists. We’re gathered together today that your soul could sing with joy that this God who calls you in such deep love to rest in Him. So that from that fountain that flows in your life, the light of Christ may shine in this world.