The Eternal Reward of Persevering in Confidence (Hebrews Sermon 43 of 74)
October 16, 2011 | Andy Davis
Perseverance, Assurance of Salvation
A Lesson From Washington
The American Revolution was all but lost. Powerful British force had crushed the American colonial force at New York City and put them to flight that summer. The British and their Hessian allies had then occupied free colonies, effectively cutting the rebels in two, they had advanced within side of Philadelphia, the rebel capital by their perspective. George Washington had lost 90% of his army, and had been driven... What was left of his army, driven across the Delaware River. Many soldiers had been lost to death, to disease, to injury, and to capture. Many more had deserted. And as the year 1776 came to a close, Washington stood to lose even more soldiers legally at the end of that year, December 31st, when their terminate enlistment would end, and they could just walk away. The morale of his army was in an all-time low. But on Christmas night of 1776, as the howling Nor'easter struck the region, George Washington crossed the Delaware River and attacked the exhausted Hessian garrison in Trenton, killing or capturing over 1000 men. The Second Battle of Trenton followed within a few days, as the rejuvenated Americans held off a counter attack by some of Lord Cornwallis' best troops.
Almost trapped at that point, Washington slipped away under cover of darkness, stole behind the enemy and hit them a third time at Princeton and won another victory over British Brigade at Princeton. The course of the entire war was changed with those events. More than anything, General Washington had given his army what it could not fight without, and that is confidence in final victory. Without that confidence, an army will quickly surrender in the face of the foe. But with confidence, an army will overcome even appalling odds and when shocking victories of it, genuinely believes it can win, no matter what the odds. Well, if confidence was important for General Washington's Army, how much more for the army of Jesus Christ in this world? We are faced with at foe so powerful that if we could see all of his power unleashed against us, we would quickly surrender. As Martin Luther put it, "Did we in our own strength confide our striving would be losing, we would quickly give up." We must have absolute confidence, unshakable confidence in our final victory in order to fight well. And without that confidence, we will easily, we will quickly crumble in the face of the battle that faces us.
I. The Reward of Holding Our Confidence
And now, the author of the Book of Hebrews is giving the readers these Hebrew Christians the confidence that they will need to fight their fight or another image would be to run their race to conclusion. So we're talking about the issue of confidence. Look at Verse 35, there he says, "So do not throw away your confidence, it will be richly rewarded." It's a negative command. Do not throw it away this confidence. So what do we mean by confidence? Well, confidence is spoken of as a hard attitude or a hard disposition, a sense of internal security or certainty based on the faithfulness of God and the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. Absolute confidence that comes from the fact that Jesus Christ cannot fail, that He came from Heaven, He took on a human body, He lived a sinless life, and He died on the cross for sinners like you and me. It's a trustworthy saying that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.
Paul says, "Of whom I am the worst, even the worst sinner, and Jesus Christ came to save sinners like you and me." And is it even possible that he could fail the omnipotent God incarnate? Is it possible that he could fail? It is impossible. For he said Himself, "I have come down from heaven not to do my own will, but to do the will of Him who sent me and this is the will of Him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that He has given me. But I will raise them up at the last day, for my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Sun and believes in him will have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." This unshakable confidence that God is pleased with us in Jesus, that God will welcome us into His presence. We feel it first and foremost in that vertical relationship that we have with God, the freedom that we have with God, to come right into His presence and receive blessing from him. We saw it earlier in Hebrews 4:16, "Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with confidence," because we have a great high priest who died on the cross, who shed His blood for sinners like you and me, since He was raised from the dead, since He has ascended and is now seated at the right hand of Almighty God, "let us approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." Let's have that confidence.
So first and foremost, we have a vertical confidence with God, that God loves us, that He has adopted us, we are His children, his sons and daughters, and nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ. But then it flows out inevitably in a kind of a horizontal confidence to the outside world, especially in the context here in the face of persecution, before human opposers. Unshakable confidence in the face of human beings who had opposed us and persecute us, and would be hostile toward us. I think, for example, of the confidence of Peter and John after the day of Pentecost, you remember how the ministry continued? And there was a beggar there by the temple gate called Beautiful. And he wanted some money and Peter and John said, "Silver, gold, I don't have, but what we do have, we give you in the name of Jesus of Nazareth, rise and walk." And then they're arrested for doing this miracle. Brought in before the Sanhedrin, the very group that had condemned Jesus to death. Remember that just a very short time before that, Peter in a cowardly act of selfishness had denied Jesus three times. But God had worked in his heart, Amen, hallelujah. He transformed him. Jesus had shown Himself alive from the grave, the Holy Spirit had come, he was a different man.
And John was with him and the two of them are so bold, so confident in front of the Sanhedrin, they're unshakable. They haul these men in and ask... They're asked to give an account for this miracle that was done. And Peter and John filled with the Holy Spirit said, "Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. He is "'the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone.' Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." Oh, what unshakable confidence they had. Were they afraid of dying at that moment? Not at all. Not at all. They were fearless and bold, and it was note worthy in the text. When they saw the courage of Peter and John, they realized that they were un-schooled ordinary men, they were astonished, and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. That kind of boldness that goes first vertically with God, that God loves me, my sins are forgiven, I'm going to heaven when I die. That God has adopted me. Nothing can separate me from the love of God. Then flows outward in times of persecution, that sword, famine, nakedness, danger cannot separate me from that love.
The Apostle Paul writes about it in Philippians, talks about the persecuted church there in Philippi. And he said he wanted them to stand firm as one man contending for the cause of the Gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed and that you will be saved and that from God, for it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for Him. So there is that confidence of not being frightened in any way. What a sign it is to the outside world. So what's going on here in Hebrews 10? Well, in this chapter, the author is summarizing all the benefits that Christ gives, the benefits of that superior Priest, Jesus the Son of God, superior in every way, to the Levitical, the ironic priest, superior in every way offering a perfect once for all sacrifice, the blood of bulls and goats cannot take away sin, but Jesus offered for all time, His own blood as a perfect final offering for our sins, that's the Gospel.
I prayed at the beginning that I would preach the Gospel, friends, that's the Gospel, the blood of Jesus shed on the cross for sinners, you trust in him and your sins will be forgiven, that's it. And it brings in a New Covenant, because in the Old Covenant, Jesus could not have been a priest. But in a New Covenant, now establish this New Covenant in His blood, promises the full forgiveness of sins, there are adoption as sons and daughters, a transformed heart, it's a better Gospel. And as a result, we have a boldness, a confidence to enter the most holy place by a new and living way, into the very presence of God by the new living way that is the body of Christ. We have this incredible access and confidence. He's saying, "Don't throw that confidence away." That's what he's talking about. Does that makes sense? That's the confidence that He is discussing here. It's based on the word of God, it's based on the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. We're going to get later in the Book of Hebrews, sometime in the year 2014 or something. I don't know what pace. We're just moving along slowly, but in Hebrews 13:5 and 6, "Because God has said, 'never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.' And so we say with confidence, so we say with confidence, 'The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid, what can man do to me?'"
What Does it Mean to “Throw Away” Confidence?
Okay, well, that's the confidence. What does it mean to throw away your confidence? It's a negative command here. Do not throw it away, don't throw that confidence away. Well, I think you do it actively by sinning, by yielding to temptations. Or passively by having the root of that confidence, that root system eaten away little by little. And so, you're drifting away from Jesus, little by little, by little compromises, by little works and actions, by things you do and don't do, little by little the confidence withers and shrivels, and it's not what it was. So, either quickly actively by gross sin or passively by little accumulated actions that are sins, in a way you throw away your confidence by sin. That's how you do it. I thought about how could I illustrate this? Let me give you two practical illustrations; one, a Christian man, let's say, walking with the Lord, attending church, going to Bible study. Faithful, serving, confident, excited about Heaven, but he's got to besetting sin that comes in and he starts to make some compromises and he starts to sin and he violates his conscience.
And then starts to do this more and more. You go talk to that individual after a period of time, and he has thrown his confidence away. If he's a genuine Christian, he can be restored, God can reach out and reclaim him, but he's in a dire situation. He has in effect taken an axe in his own hands and chopped the root system of his confidence down by his sin. He has shriveled it up himself by his own hands. Or take a second illustration, let's talk in a foreign culture. Let's say a Muslim country, maybe Indonesia or something like that, and there's a Muslim woman there, young woman, and she has a dream one night, and in that dream, she finds out that there's a woman who will meet her in the capital city of her country and tell her a message by which she can be saved. And she believes that dream and goes to the city. And there sure enough, a woman finds her, introduces herself to her and knows her name, miraculously. She's never met her before, and that woman is a Christian and she shares the Gospel and this young Muslim woman believes, trust in Christ. And the woman evangelist gives her a Bible, she takes it home and hides it from her father, and her brothers, and secretly starts feeding on the Word and growing and her assurance starts to grow.
One terrible day her father discovers the Bible and beats her. Her brothers yell at her. She's a shame to the family, but her faith is strong. She knows she's going to heaven. Little by little, she can't stay there anymore. The persecution level gets too great and she goes and moves to the city. She finds some low-paying job as a seamstress there, struggling to make ends meet, exhausted every day, leaves off reading the Bible, starts to grow weaker and weaker in her faith, has no good Christian fellowship, and she meets a young Muslim man at a coffee shop, and he shows her some interest and the relationship proceeds and she has warnings through the spirit not to pursue it, but it's hard to say no, because her life is so tough and so bleak. At one point, she reveals to this young man that she's a Christian, he's not really much of a Muslim frankly, and he's not interested in religion, he he's not interested in Christianity, and he says I don't really care what you do in your private life, just don't bring me any public shame. She's at a fork in the road isn't she? What does Hebrews 10:35 say to her? Do not throw away your confidence. Do not throw it away on a relationship, don't throw it away on a sin, because it will be richly rewarded. What is the rich reward of confidence? What are we talking about, this rich reward?
We often associate the word reward with merit, right? Something you deserve, something you have earned. But it is not the case here dear friends. What is the rich, the lavish reward that's going to be, the Greek is really interesting here, bestowed on you in some way. A richness that's going to be bestowed on. It's hard to get across in the English. But it's going to be richly, this confidence will be richly rewarded. Well, the first time reward has ever mentioned is the final reward in the end. "Fear not, Abram, I am your shield, I am your very great reward." It is God Himself, who is the reward of confidence, it is fellowship with God forever in heaven, it is to be able to see Him face-to-face and be His servant and stand by His side and serve Him forever and ever and find the joy and blessing of that new heaven and new earth, that is the rich reward of confidence. That's what you get. Because Without faith, it's impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He is the rewarder of those who earnestly seek Him. There's your reward, it's God Himself. And so don't throw away your confidence, because it has a rich reward and it's God Himself in Heaven.
II. The Need for Perseverance
And so therefore, the author gives us this simple statement. You need to persevere, you have need of endurance. Look at Verse 36, "You need to persevere, so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised." Hebrews is the book of perseverance. Hebrews 12:1, we are to "run with endurance the race marked out in front of us." You need perseverance, you must have it. Without perseverance, you will not finally be saved. So endurance or perseverance in the faith is part and parcel of our salvation. It's what God promises to do for you, not only to begin your faith, but to nourish it, and sustain it until you need it no longer. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen, and when you are seeing what you want and when you are receiving what you have hoped for, you don't need faith anymore, it's temporary. But while you're in this world and while Jesus is still invisible to you, you must have faith. And so, therefore, you must have endurance in faith. You need endurance. In Luke 8:15, in the parable of the seed in the soils, the seed goes out, the Gospel message goes out and there are different kinds of heart reactions to it.
But there is that fourth soil, that rich soil, it produces a crop 100, 60, 30 times what was sown. And Luke 8:15 says, "The seed on the good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart who hear the word of God retain it and by persevering in it produce a crop." That is the Christian life, friends. You might wonder, where in the world did I get a noble and good heart? It's a gift of God to you. And so also is the endurance and perseverance needed to bring forth the harvest. It's a gift too, but you have to have it. And so, here is that mystery of divine sovereignty, human responsibility, God's action on you, your requirement that you must persevere. Romans 2:7 teaches the same thing. "To those who by persistence in doing good, seek glory, honor and immortality, He will give eternal life." That's the Christian life. It's a persistence in doing good, a persistence in the Christian life, perseverance.
So, this endurance I say to you, is part of the equipment, the sovereign God gives to His elect. It's part of what He gives them so that they may be finally saved. It's the work of God in you, but it's also your work and your responsibility too. You are to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, because it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose. There it is, Philippians 2:12 and 13. You must have perseverance. It is given by the Spirit, alright? The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace. What's the next one? Long-suffering or patience, perseverance. It's a gift of the Spirit of God. It's something the Spirit works in you. It's part of the Christian life. Revelation 1:9, John from the island of Patmos, wrote these words, he said, "I John, your brother and your companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus." It's part of being in Jesus; patient endurance. But it is our responsibility to develop that perseverance. We must endure. We must persevere. 2 Peter 1:5-6. "Make every effort to add to your faith goodness, and to goodness, knowledge, and to knowledge, self-control, and to self-control perseverance." You are to make every effort to add to your faith, endurance or perseverance. It's your job. It's your responsibility.
How Do You Develop Perseverance?
Well, how does it happen? How do you develop perseverance? How do you grow in perseverance? Well again, God gives it, Romans 5:5, sorry, Romans 15:5 says, "May the God who gives endurance and encouragement…" may He give you endurance. Alright. He gives it. Verse 4 of that chapter, Romans 15:4, says this, "For everything that was written in the past, was written to teach us so that through endurance and the encouragement of the scriptures, we might have hope." So endurance flows from the pages of the Bible. You will gain endurance as you're in the word of God, as you are saturating your mind in scripture, feeding on the word, you're going to get stronger in the Christian race, you're going to have greater and greater endurance from the Bible.
So you feed on God's word. If your endurance is low that means you're really not in the word. May be other reasons, but I think that's a fundamental reason why. But endurance also comes through God ordained trials, doesn't it? As you go through certain things God has got the hammer out and He is tinkering with your heart. He's working on you like a blacksmith or something, or a skilled craftsman. And He is working endurance into you through those trials, alright? And those trials either maybe yours alone, something you're going through, but it could be trials of those that you know about, people you know about. So first, your own trials. It says in Romans 5:3, "More than that we rejoice in our sufferings." Because we know that suffering produces perseverance." So as you go through trials, as you suffer through trials, God is working perseverance in you.
Or even clearer, I think, is James 1:2 through 4, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance, and perseverance must finish its work, so that you'll be mature and complete, not lacking anything." So as you go through trials, God is building endurance in you. But you can also benefit from the trials that other people go through. You don't even have to know them personally. But you can benefit from the trials that others go through. Listen to this. 2 Corinthians 1:6. Paul was going through a terrible trial, and he wrote about it to the Corinthian Church. This is what He says, 2 Corinthians 1:6. "If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation. If we are comforted, it is for your comfort which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer." Let me put it in simple terms: We're going through a hard time for your benefit oh Corinthian Church, so that by you, from afar watching what we're going through, you can get stronger in your Christian life too. Your endurance comes through my suffering. That's what he's saying.
Again, Philippians 1:14, the Apostle Paul says, "Because of my chains, because of my imprisonment, most of the brothers of the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly." In other words, because someone else is in chains, they aren't afraid of being in chains anymore. Do you see that? So you can grow in endurance by reading about the persecuted church. You can grow in endurance by reading about martyrs, people who died centuries ago. Just as you read their stories you can grow in endurance. I think that's part of the whole point of Hebrews 11, we're about to head. What a magnificent journey we're about to embark on in Hebrews 11. But as we have this great cloud of witnesses, we start to see how they have lived their lives, these men and women of God, who went before us and courageously lived for the Christian faith, and we can grow in endurance by that.
So, be in the word, expect God to give you endurance, suffer well as you go through your trials and learn from the sufferings of others. That's how you grow in endurance. I say to you endurance is necessary. You must have it or you will not continue, obviously, in the Christian life.
Perseverance for a Purpose
You must have it so that, the Scripture says here, the passage says here, so that you can serve God's purpose in your own generation. Look what he says, "You need to persevere so that, when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised." God has a will for you. He has measured out good works for you to do. He's got works for you to do. He wants you to do them. He wants you, as it says in Acts 13, "When David had served God's purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep." So God has a purpose for you, and when God is done with you, He's going to take you home. Until then you've got work to do.
And so you need perseverance so you can do the will of God, you can finish the race in front of you, and do all those good works that God has. So, when God's done with you, He will kill you and take you out of the world and bring you to Heaven. He'll take your life. Does He have that right? Does God have that right? Yes, He does. He has the right to give life and to take it back, but He's doing it to bring you home. It's better by far, dear friends. And so when you have served God's purpose in your generation, when you have finished this race, you will lay aside all these burdens and He'll take you home. But in the meantime, all day long, we are being killed like sheep for the slaughter, Romans 8:36, that's what we're here for, to do God's work. So we need to have endurance, and at the life of that, at the end of a life of that kind of endurance, comes that promised reward.
III. The Time is Very Short (vs. 37)
Because, dear friends, Verse 37, the time is very short. The time is very short. "For in just a very little while, He who is coming will come and will not delay." The author here is quoting Habakkuk in Chapter 2:3-4. More on that in a moment. But he says, "He who is coming... " In the original context, in Habakkuk, the verse refers to the; vision is coming, the vision is coming and will not delay. The author to Hebrews here makes it just Christ-centered at that point, the one that the visions pointing to. He just makes it Christ when He says, "Christ who is coming will come and He will not delay." So Christ is coming to us in a very little while. So how does Christ come to us in our suffering? Well, He comes to us in our life. He comes to us in our death, and He comes to us at the end of history. In our life, He comes to restrict the trial so that they're not worse than we can bear. He measures out that trial, so that it's not worse than we can handle.
Think about the church and Smyrna. It says in Revelation 2:10, "Do not be afraid of what you're about to suffer. I tell you the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for 10 days." 10 days. So Christ has limited the suffering of the church in Smyrna. It's going to be 10 days. I don't know if it's a little 10 days, but a short time, He's going to limit it. So He comes to us in our suffering to limit our trial, so it's not worse than we can bear. And in the middle of it, the spirit of Christ rests on you and He helps you. Think about the Apostle Paul, alright? He was going through a hard time. He was tired of getting beaten up. I think about. He's not a robot. He's a human being. Every city where he went, preached the gospel, he was getting beaten up. He was getting stoned. He was getting beaten with rods. He was getting imprisoned. His blood was being shed.
And I think he reached the point where he said, "I can't keep doing this anymore, Lord." And so the church at Corinth there, in Acts 18, it says, "One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision. He said, 'Do not be afraid. Keep on speaking and do not be silent. Because I am with you and no one is going to attack you and harm you, because I have many people in this city." So while you stay here in Corinth, I'm going to give you a break. I'm going to give you an island of peace. So settle in here for a while and preach and go get the elect, go get the people of Christ in the city, and preach for them. I'm going to give you that." And then at the very end of his life, when he was going to die, and He knew it, still he says, 2 Timothy 4, "At my first defense no one came to my support. Everyone deserted me. I'm all alone. May it not be held against them. But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me, the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion's mouth. The Lord is going to rescue me from every evil attack and bring me safely into His Heavenly Kingdom, to Him be the glory forever."
What does it mean, "The Lord stood at my side and gave me strength."? Jesus in some amazing way, came and stood by Paul and helped him when he preached the Gospel to Nero. I mean, what an incredible moment that was in redemptive history, but he stood there and preached the Gospel to the Roman Emperor, and Jesus helped him do it. He wasn't alone. So in a very little while he who is coming will come. He will come in your life to restrict the trial, so it's not more than you can bear and to help you get through it. Then He's going to come to you in your death, as I said, and He's going to take you out of this world. 2 Corinthians 4:17 says that our light and momentary troubles are not worth comparing, but the glory and those trials are preparing us for a glory that the Lord is bringing us to. And so, at the time of death, He comes for His own and brings you out of this world into heaven.
But in just a very little while, Jesus is coming to end human history. Amen? He is coming soon. "He who is coming will come and He will not delay." Now, you would say, "I don't know that that's what it's talking about here, because it says, "In just a very little while." The Greek word, micron, is in there. In just a micron of time, He's coming. You're like, "Well, it's been 2000 years. That's a long micron there. That's an awfully long time." But you know, the final chapter in the Bible, Revelation 20:2, Jesus says three times He's coming soon, "Behold I am coming soon. I am coming soon." "He who testifies to these things says, 'I am coming soon.'" "I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have." And then John says, "Amen, come Lord Jesus." It is a very short time compared to eternity, isn't it? A day is like a thousand years. A thousand years is like a day. He's coming soon. "He who is coming will come and will not delay."
IV. The Righteous Live by Faith... for the Rest of their Lives
Verse 38, "But my righteous one will live by faith and if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with them." So here we have Habakkuk 2:4, a key text in the Bible. It's one of the most important texts of the Old Testament. I know that because it's quoted in such strategic places in the New Testament. For example, Romans 1:16-17. Romans is the best, clearest exposition of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It's the best. In Romans 1:16, he says, the apostle Paul says, "I'm not ashamed of the Gospel because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes, first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel, the righteousness of God is revealed, the righteousness that is from faith to faith, just as it is written, the just or the righteous will live by faith." That's Habakkuk 2:4. What a key moment for that text of scripture. "You will be justified or made righteous in God's sight by faith alone, apart from works."
So he quotes it also in Galatians 3, because the Galatians had lost track of the Gospel. They didn't seem to understand justification by faith, apart from works anymore. And so he quotes it there in Galatians 3:11-12, "Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for the righteous shall live by faith." And now he quotes it here at the end of Chapter 10, to show I think what kind of life comes from true justifying faith. That life, the life you live, you ongoingly live a life of faith, the righteous will live by faith, not just at that moment, the moment of the crusade where you came forward or you heard the gospel and prayed the prayer. But this is the kind of life you will live. It's a life of endurance in good works, right? It's a life where you're running the race right to the end. That's what it means, the righteous will live by faith. That's the kind of faith that saves.
Now, what's going on in Habakkuk 2? Remember the prophet Habakkuk, was grieved by the wickedness of Israel. He cries out against it. God says, "I know what I'm going to do, I'm going to send the Babylonians, and they're going to destroy this place and kill most of the people." Not the answer Habakkuk was hoping for. When I preached it I called it, out of the frying pan into the fire, alright? This is worse. And so, he says, "Look, I don't get it. I don't know what you're doing. I'm going to stay here. I'm going to station myself, and I'm going to wait until you give me an answer, because I just don't get it." And that's where he says, "The Revelation is coming. It's coming. It's not going to delay." The author personifies it and points to Christ. But the answer of Habakkuk is marvelous. There's an individual answer. There's an answer that talks about the wicked Babylonians, and what's going to happen to them, but it doesn't name them, because it's true of any world conquering pagan empire. And then finally, God's kingdom; a three-fold answer in Habakkuk Chapter 2. The individual, through the rise and fall of history, the ebbs and flows of all of history, individual sinners are justified by faith. That's the first answer that God gives Habakkuk.
Secondly, if you're worried about the Babylonians, what goes around comes around. They come in as a conqueror. They're going to go out conquered. That's what happens, the rise and fall of the world. You know why? Because ultimately, third answer, The Earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. I am building a kingdom and empire that's going to cover the whole Earth. They're competing with me. They will lose. I win. So I am building an eternal kingdom of glory, and that will not be stopped. Individuals will come into that kingdom by faith. That's the full answer Habakkuk 2, one of the great chapters in the Bible. And that's what the author reaches for to say, "You need to live an enduring life, the rest of your life running this race with endurance." That's what you need to do.
And if so, then with Habakkuk, you can celebrate, no matter what happens. It doesn't matter how bad things get. In Habakkuk 3:17-19, it says, "Though the fig tree does not bud, and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord. I will be joyful in God my Savior. The sovereign Lord is my strength. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer. He enables me to go on the heights." Do you want to live a life like that? Do you want that kind of joy and energy and power just coursing through your spiritual veins? And say, "I don't care what happens to me in this world. I am free to serve Christ, because I'm going into that glorious kingdom that he's building by faith. I'm going to go there and I will live that kind of life."
V. The Eternal Danger of Shrinking Back
And the faith that justifies continues through all of that adversity right to the end. That's what he's saying here, "My righteous one will live by faith, and if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him." Do you hear that tone of warning? It's consistent with the Book of Hebrews. Book of Hebrews is a serious warning epistle, and he's just recapitulating what he's been saying all along. You can't shrink back from Jesus and go on into Heaven. You can't look Jesus and the gospel in the face, study it, know it, come to understand it, and then turn your back on it and walk away and go to Heaven. You can't shrink back. If you shrink back you will be destroyed. We'll get to that in a moment. But that's what it's saying here. Here it just says in Verse 38, "If he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him, but we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed." So the shrinking back leads to hell. It leads to destruction. He's saying, "If you shrink back, I will not be pleased with you."
You're thinking, "Well, is that a big deal for God not to be pleased with you? Oh yes. It was for pleasure that God shows us before the foundation of the world, right? "Praise be to the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love, He predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ... " Listen, "In accordance with His pleasure and will." It pleased Him to choose you in Christ. And as Jesus put so sweetly, I love this, this is Luke 12:32, "Fear not little flock," This is Jesus speaking, to you, "Fear not, little flock, it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom."
Oh, that's one of those three by five card verses. Put it up in here. I mean, "Fear not little flock, the father enjoys giving Heaven to you." Doesn't that just dispel bad views of God the father? I mean, He loves giving you Heaven. It's His good pleasure. Well, this verse says, if you shrink back however, He will not be pleased with you. Romans 8:8, says. "It is impossible for the carnal mind, to please God." He is at enmity with God. So this is a big deal if God is not pleased with you. God takes no delight in a cowardly person who shrinks back, who will not persevere. So, in order to make us pleasing to Him, He works endurance in us.
VI. Final Salvation is Assured to those who Persevere (vs. 39)
And so, Verse 39, final salvation is assured only to those who persevere. "We are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but are those who believe and are saved." Oh, praise God if you can say that with confidence, Amen? I am not included among those that shrink back. I'm not going to drift away. I'm not going to turn away and I'm not going to fall away from Jesus. That's not going to happen to me. Why? Because God is in me sustaining my faith, and I'm not included among those that are going to turn back to destruction, and that's what we're talking about. Hell. It's hell. "Enter through the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction and many enter through it."
That's the destruction. If you shrink back you're destroyed; Verse 39. Romans 9:22, "What if God, choosing to show His wrath and make His power known, bore with great patience the objects of wrath prepared for destruction." It's the same word. This is hell that we're talking about here in 10:39. Those that shrink back are destroyed in hell, but we are not among them. Amen? We are not among them. We are of those who persevere, literally, to the saving of our souls. That's literally what it says. So, in persevering you receive the goal of your faith, the salvation of your soul. That's what this text is teaching.
So what application can we take from this. First and foremost, look to Christ crucified again. I've already preached the Gospel. I never tire of it. God sent His son in a human body, who lived a sinless life, died on the cross, His blood shed for sinners like you and me. If you trust in Him, simply trust in Him, you will be justified or forgiven of all your sins. Look to Him again. For me, I've been hearing that now for 29 years. I am not tired of it yet. I want to feed on that truth. I want to come to Christ again today. I want to feed on Christ crucified and risen. I want to look to that and say, "That is my salvation. That is the power of God, to get a sinner like me to that heavenly place. I look to it again. I embrace it again. That is my confidence and I'm not going to throw it away. So if I could give a simple three-part summary of what I've said today. Hope, leading to obedience, leading to inheritance. Hope, obey, inherit. Is that clear enough? Hope based on the promises of God filling your heart with Heaven. Hope then obey His word consistently, persistently walking with Jesus, by the power of the Spirit, obey and you will inherit.
That's what this text is telling us. So therefore, can I urge you to cherish your assurance, your confidence. Cherish it. Don't damage it. Love your assurance. Embrace your assurance. Feed your assurance. Don't damage your assurance. You can be justified and have a very weak, or a practically non-existent assurance. It can happen from time to time. There's a journey that leads to that deplorable state. I would urge you, don't go that journey. Don't test how much can a justified person sin and still go to Heaven? That's not a worthy journey, friends. Can I commend you to turn away from it? Let's not try to find out how much a justified person can sin and still go to Heaven.
Instead, cherish your assurance. Feed your assurance by meditating on the word, by learning God's laws, holy law, and by the power of the Spirit obeying Him, doing what He's commanded you to do by the power of the spirit, live that life and your assurance is going to get stronger and stronger. Every temptation that comes, every flaming arrow of temptation that comes, you lift up the shield of faith and you extinguish that flaming arrow, your assurance will go up. I guarantee it; guarantee it. Every flaming arrow that finds its mark your assurance will be drained a bit.
Satan can't kill us. Amen, Hallelujah. He can't kill us, but he sure can damage us. So you lift up that shield of faith and you hold it against every flaming arrow of the evil one. You fight the good fight of faith. Feed your assurance. Be in church. Meditate on God's word. Have your daily quiet time. Be in good Christian fellowship. Be in accountability relationships. Men with men and women with women, find somebody who can pray with you, and hold you accountable. Be part of that. Cherish your assurance. Think often of your rich inheritance. Think about Heaven a lot, more than you do. Read Revelation 21 and 22, I think once a week at least. Read those chapters. Just find out just how beautiful the place is that you're going to. Remind yourself again and again, of what is your inheritance. Think about it. Fear shrinking back. Fear that. I think the Christian life is to be run with an amazing balance of fear and confidence. All the time. You're fearing sin and fearing the assaults and all that, in your own flesh. You're serious about that. Those are serious threats. But at the same time, you're totally confident that God, through the power of His Word, can enable you to overcome them.
Let's run together, shall we? And if I can just put in a plug for the men's retreat. Men, we need each other to fight this fight. That's what this is all about. The men's ministry is to help men fight together. Let's not fight alone. We're such independent people so often. So if you can make time, November 4th and 5th, to be at the men's retreat, please do it. I know it's a sacrifice. And now, I am shamelessly appealing to your wives. Bug your husbands. Pray for them. Persuade them. Encourage them. Exhort them. Provoke them and spur them on to love and good deeds. And say, "Hun, I can do without you for that period of time." And make the sacrifice. Let's band together, shall we men? And pray for each other and run this race with endurance. Close with me in prayer.