Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Persevering Faith

"Keep on loving each other as brothers" (Hebrews 13:1).

If faith means trusting God for the future and obeying Him in the present, then it means persevering. Repeatedly, the author of Hebrews has issued serious and fearful warnings against falling away from the faith. But what does persevering faith look like? In Hebrews 13, the author provides a whole list of qualities that are signs of persevering faith.

In verses 1–3, he writes that the faithful person continues in love for other Christians, and this is shown when we practice hospitality toward visiting believers and when we visit imprisoned believers. In verse 4, he writes that the faithful person is loyal to his or her spouse. In verses 5–6, he writes that the faithful person does not put his trust in money, because he trusts God to take care of the future. To sum it up, if we are going to persevere and not fall away, we must keep God’s law.

In verses 7–17, he tells us that the faithful person is a member of a Bible-believing church and is attentive to the words of the elders of that church. He does not drift from church to church, never joining. Rather, he acknowledges a certain body of men as his elders. He “remembers” them. He “imitates” their faith, which means they are godly, Bible-believing men (v. 7). He obeys and submits to them, which means he has an official relationship with them and with the church (v. 17).

These elders are the kind of men who are able to steer us away from false doctrines such as liberalism and neo-orthodoxy (v. 9). It may be that the church these elders oversee is small and despised, a “sect that is everywhere spoken against” as the Jews put it in Acts 28:22. But we are to be faithful and go outside the camp, bearing disgrace if need be (Hebrews 13:11–14).

Such elders lead us in true worship and set examples of charity. They watch over our souls to prevent us from falling into sin or heresy. We should submit to them and not grieve them by having a rebellious or cantankerous spirit (Hebrews 13:15–17).

To sum it up, if we are going to persevere and not fall away, we must be active in the life and worship of a serious and godly Bible-believing church that is overseen by godly elders.

Christians violate Hebrews 13 in three ways. Some refuse to join a church and submit to any leadership. Others stay in liberal churches whose leaders are unworthy of respect; gradually their souls become deadened. Others belong to good churches but complain about the leadership. If you are guilty, take action.