Hebrews 10:38-11:1, “The Just Shall Live By Faith”

[10:38]“Now the just shall live by faith; but if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.”  [39]But we are not of those who draw back, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.
[11:1]Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  (NKJV)

We haven’t particularly noted the change in emphasis in the book, which occurs in 10:19.  The first portion was basically an explanation of the preeminence of the Lord Jesus, both as the Revelation of God and as the Redeemer of His people.  From 10:19, the writer in effect answers the question, “So what?” – what does this mean to the believer – or to the unbeliever, for that matter?
As for the believer, there are responsibilities to God, to ourselves and to others, 10:22-24.  For the unbeliever, there is only “judgment and fiery indignation,” 10:27.
To his readers, the writer urges that they remember all that they have suffered for the Gospel’s sake, and not to throw it all away, but to persevere under God’s will, looking for the coming of the Lord Jesus, vs. 32-37.  In 6:12 and in 10:22, 23, the writer mentions “faith,” especially in reference to the “promises.”  Now he continues with that theme.
In our portion, we note two sections:

1. The Necessity of Faith, 10:38, 39.
2. The Nature of Faith, 11:1.

  1. The Necessity of Faith, 10:38, 39.

In quoting from Habakkuk 2:3, 4, in the Old Testament, the writer again shows that he isn’t introducing something “foreign” to the Word of God.  Even in the Old Testament, faith was essential.

Seen in the Bible, v. 38.
1. witness, the just shall live by faith.  We hear much today about “exercising faith,” but the writer isn’t referring to some sort of “decision” in which a person “decides” for Christ, although there is a time in the life of God’s people when they are brought to faith in Him.  No one is “born saved.”  “Faith” doesn’t refer to a one-time act which “seals the deal,” but to a “life:” the just shall live by faith.  This “life” is characterized by daily reliance on and obedience to God.  To such a one, there is no division between sacred and secular.  He is the same on Monday as he is on Sunday, and lives his life in the light of God’s eternal Word and not in the ephemeral “fads” of today.  Such a one knows that “contemporary Christianity” is likely to be a contradiction of terms.
2. warning, if any man draw back….  The word translated “draw back” here means “to shrink,” “to withdraw,” and doesn’t refer to a momentary stumbling from weakness (as Peter in Galatians 2:12, where the same word is translated, “withdrew”).  It refers to a habitual character, a settled determination.  Such a one was never truly saved, but is a spiritual descendant of those mentioned in John 2:23-25.  These are solemn verses.  May we hear what they say to us:
Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did.  But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.
On the surface, these verses seem to speak of great success for our Lord: “Many believed in His name,” v. 23.  Many would rejoice today in such a result and do rejoice and even boast in their abilities and of the “success” of their ministries.  However, vs. 24, 25 follow v. 23 and warn us that all that glitters is not gold, and not all “belief” leads to salvation.
The words “believed,” v. 23, and “commit,” v. 24 are translations of the same word.  Many “believed” in Jesus, but He did not “believe” in them.  How can this be?  The answer is given in v. 24:  Jesus knew what is in man.
Jesus didn’t need a “testimony meeting” about their “belief.”  He didn’t need them to “like and share” a Facebook meme about how much they loved God, or to type “amen” to it.  He knew men, that they are easily swayed and deceived.  These men were following Him only because of His miracles.  He was “ministering to their needs.”  Now, there’s nothing wrong with that in itself, but as soon as Jesus began to press spiritual truths on His hearers, they left in great numbers, John 6:60-66.
We see a similar example of this in John 8:30-59.  In v. 30, many believed in Him.  But by the end of the chapter, these “believers” took up stones to throw at Him, v. 59.
If we dilute the message in order to have a “greater” ministry, then we’re only deceiving ourselves and those who follow us.
My soul shall have no pleasure in him.  Here is the crux of the matter.  Our main audience isn’t those men and women who hear us, or read our posts, but God Himself.  We do indeed have a responsibility to those who hear or follow us – a very great responsibility.  Spurgeon used to say that the idea of the multitudes who listened to him crushed him to the ground.  It is no small thing to serve in eternal realities.  Even Paul was moved by this: who is sufficient for these things? 2 Corinthians 2:14-16.  And it is no small thing to listen to eternal realities.  Over and over again, our Lord warned those who heard Him to pay attention to how and what they heard.  Woe to us if we only dabble in these things!

Seen in the Believer, v. 39.
As with similar statements in the book (6:4-6, etc.) the writer boldly states that what he has said about “drawing back” doesn’t refer to his readers, whom he describes as “believing to the saving of the soul.”  The word translated “saving” is interesting:  one aspect of its meaning is “to preserve.”  The word itself is a compound of two words literally meaning “to make around,” and perhaps refers to the preservation and protection of something by its being enclosed.
Here, then, is the glorious teaching of the “preservation of the saints.”  And note, this preservation is through faith.  We’re not kept by what we do, but, as Peter put it, we are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation, 1 Peter 1:5.  We are preserved by what God has done on our behalf.

2. The Nature of Faith, 11:1

 This verse is not a definition of faith, although it’s often quoted as such.  It’s a description of faith and its results in the life of the believer.  It expands what the writer meant when he wrote, “the just shall live by faith,” examples of which follow in the rest of the chapter.  Salvation is so much more that mere consent to a creed, or agreement with a few historical or doctrinal facts.  Salvation is life from the dead, spiritual resurrection by the power of God, spiritual energy by the Spirit of God, energy leading to activity with reference to God, not just to “religion.”

Faith does not boast of its claims on God, as certain people teach.  It recognizes God’s claim on it!  It doesn’t say, “God, this is what I want you to do!” as if God were no more than our servant, anxiously hovering around until we give Him something to do.  No, no.  It says with Paul on the Damascus Road, “What do you want me to do?”

The just shall live by faith.

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March Memories: A Kitchen Prayer.

This poem was written many years ago by a 19-year-old girl in domestic service in England.  It was read by Dr. G. Campbell Morgan during one of his services at Westminster Chapel, London.

Lord of all pots and pans and things,
Since I’ve no time to be
A saint by doing lovely deeds
Or watching late with Thee
Or dreaming in the dawnlight
Or storming heaven’s gates,
Make me a saint by getting meals
And washing up the plates!

Although I must have Martha’s hands
I have a Mary mind,
And when I black the boots and shoes,
Thy sandals, Lord, I find!
I think of how they trod the earth,
What time I scrub the floor;
Accept this meditation, Lord,
I haven’t time for more!

Warm all the kitchen with Thy love,
And light it with Thy peace!
Forgive me all my worrying
And make all grumbling cease!
Thou Who didst love to give men food
In a room or by the sea,
Accept this service that I do –
I do in unto Thee!
_______________

(originally published March 15, 2013).  I hope the people this young lady worked for appreciated what a treasure they had in her!

“Just A Wife”

“One time when Eva inquired about my long-term prognosis, a nurse told her, ‘Honey, you don’t need to know all of that.  You’re just a wife’.”

This is a quote from Don Piper’s book, “90 MINUTES IN HEAVEN,” 10th anniversary edition, p. 147.  If you haven’t read the book, I highly recommend that you do.  I picked it up the other day at WalMart while I was waiting for my wife.  I read it through at one sitting.  I’m not ashamed to admit that the tears flowed freely.

The quote comes in the middle of a section in which Don explains what happened when he was finally able to come home after many months of lying immobile in a hospital bed and how those long months had affected his wife.  I’ll not go into all that because you can read it for yourself.

But the quote really struck me.  I’ve often made the comment that no woman is ever “just a mother.”  I’m going to have to expand that to say that no woman is ever “just a wife.”

I’m sure the nurse didn’t mean her remark as an insult.  She probably was just trying to spare Eva Piper some of the painful details of her husband’s recovery.

At the same time, though, it’s a reflection of current attitudes towards women and marriage.

“Just a wife.”

How little, sometimes, we clunkers of husbands value the women God has been gracious enough to put into our lives.  Oh, I know they’re not perfect…

Neither are we.

Like Hannah’s husband Elkanah, we’re so often unable to understand the heart needs of the woman who shares our life, 1 Samuel 1:8.

If any man does think he’s perfect, he needs to ask his wife about it.

When Adam was by himself in the Garden, God said that it wasn’t good that he should be alone.  So He did something about it.

He made a wife.

Not simply a woman, though that’s how we think of her, and, indeed, how Scripture describes her.  But she was so much more than that:  she was a wife.

It’s true that things happened we wish wouldn’t have and their perfect harmony and happiness was disrupted.  Paradise was lost and has never been regained.

Nevertheless.

It just occurred to me as I was thinking about what to write next, that marriage (and family) is the one of the few things Adam took with him from the Garden.

He still had Eve.

There’s a lot more that I could write, how Christ’s love for us is pictured in marriage, how that love is the pattern we husbands are supposed to follow as to how we view and treat our own wives.  How Adam was made complete by Eve.  She was in no way “inferior” to him, but he was incomplete without her.

Let me just close with this – a loving wife is the greatest blessing, short of salvation, that God can give a man.

Her worth is far above rubies, Proverbs 31:10.

The Heartbeat of a Mother.

Since I’m only a son, grandson, great-grandson, father and grandfather [no “greats” there yet, though our grandkids are great], I don’t know that I’m particularly qualified to write about being a mother.  But I’ll do my best.

A young woman once apologetically told me that she didn’t work outside the home, that she was “just a mother.”  At once, I told her that no woman was “just” a mother.

A mother is the first, and the most important, part of a baby’s life.  One of the very first things the little one must be conscious of is the nearby heartbeat of that one whose very body is involved in nurturing and protecting this new life within it.  Lub-dub, lub-dub, lub-dub. The rhythm of life.  For nine months, that sound is the background of existence, the assurance that all is well.

Then comes the trauma of birth – for both the mother and the child.

For Mom, “Whew, I’m glad that’s over!” – though it’s really only a new beginning.  For the child….

I had a good friend in college whose home in another state I would sometimes go with him to visit.  One time in particular I remember.  I slept in a room where the air-conditioner perched in a window.  This visit my friend’s folks turned it on.  Summer can be hot in Tennessee.  The conditioner was noisy, and I didn’t sleep very well.  Then morning came, and they turned it off.  That’s what really woke me – that deafening silence.

I wonder if that’s what it’s like for a newborn.  All kinds of new stimuli to be sure, new environment, lights, sounds, and yet…

Silence.

Where’s the heartbeat?

I wonder what the newborn feels?  Loss?  Confusion?  Panic?  The one constant of the old life is gone.  There’s no connection with this new life.  There’s nothing for the baby to hold on, so to speak.  How does he or she feel at this turn of events?

Then…

the baby is given to the mother and she cuddles him close.

Ah!  The baby relaxes; there’s the heartbeat.  There’s the connection.

Do you know why mothers are so special?  It’s their heartbeat….

Their love, their care, their concern.  Their “thereness”.

If things go as they should, there will be other “connections” made in life: dad, perhaps brothers and sisters, aunts, uncles, grandma and grandpa, friends, a special “other” down the line, children of their own….

But it all starts with a mother’s heartbeat.

Thanks, Mom.

NOTE:  I’ve published this post before.  It’s slightly edited from having been done before, but it’s still relevant.  My own mom would have been 100.

Happy Mother’s Day, all you moms out there.  We’ll never know how much we owe you.

The Heartbeat of a Mother.

Since I am only a son, grandson, great-grandson, father and grandfather [no “greats” there, yet], I don’t know that I’m particularly qualified to write about being a mother.  But I’ll do my best.

A young woman once apologetically told me that she didn’t work outside the home, that  she was “just a mother.”  At once, I told her that no woman is ever “just a mother.”

A mother is the first, and perhaps the most important, part of a baby’s life.  One of the very first things he or she must be conscious of is the nearby heartbeat of that one whose very body is involved in nurturing and protecting this new life within it.  Lub-dub, lub-dub, lub-dub.  The rhythm of life.  For nine months, that sound is the background of existence, the assurance that all is normal.

Then comes the trauma of birth – for both the mother and the child.

For Mom, “Whew, I’m glad that’s over.” though it’s really only a new beginning.  For the child….

I had a good friend in college whose home in another state I would occasionally go with him to visit.  One time in particular I remember.  I slept in a room where the air conditioner was.  This visit they had turned it on at night.  Tennessee can be hot in the summer.  It was noisy, and I didn’t sleep very well.  Then morning came and they turned it off.  That’s what really woke me up – that deafening silence.

I wonder if that’s what it’s like for a newborn.  All kinds of new stimuli, environment, lights, sounds, and yet….  

Silence.  

Where’s the heartbeat?

I wonder what the newborn feels.  Loss?  Confusion?  Panic?  The one constant of the old life is gone.  There’s no connection with this new life.  There’s nothing for the baby to hold on to, so to speak.  How does he or she feel at this turn of events?

Then

the baby is given to the mother and she cuddles him close.

Ah!  The baby relaxes; there’s the heartbeat.  There’s the connection.

Do you know why mothers are so special?  It’s their heartbeat…

Their love, their care, their concern.  Their “thereness”.

If things go as they should, there will be other “connections” made in life: dad, perhaps brothers and sisters, aunts, uncles, grandma and grandpa, friends, a special “other,” children of their own.

But it all starts with a mother’s heartbeat.

Thanks, Mom.

Love Is Not A Four Letter Word.

“Sure it is!” someone might say.  “L-O-V-E.  Four letters.”

That’s true, but that’s not exactly what I mean.  The “four letters” to which I refer are those short four-letter words which express profanity and/or obscenity.

“Love” has been so dragged into the cesspool of our modern society that it’s really hard to find true examples of it.  Or to get a correct definition of it.  Hollywood has no clue.  Sadly, neither do a large percentage of people of all ages.

Especially in Hollywood, or on what passes for TV in our time, “love” is almost always limited to the physical – how quickly A and B can get into bed.  Sex has become just “casual,” with couples meeting together, maybe only once, for no other reason than to satiate their physical desires. Even where there is a “relationship,” instead of the consummation of something in which a man and a woman have pledged themselves to lifelong fidelity, it almost seems as if sex has become the commencement of a relationship, which no longer is “til death do us part,” but “til desire does depart,” and one or the other or both go off to find greener pastures.  Or “the love” turns to hate, usually on the part of the male, and he begins to abuse the woman.

There is an OT example of this in 2 Samuel 13 (NKJV): the incident of Amnon, a son of David, and Tamar, the sister of another of David’s sons.  Amnon lusted for Tamar because she was lovely and pure.  Instead of Amnon being honorable and seeking to marry her, 2 Samuel 13:13, a friend of his devised a stratagem whereby Amnon could satisfy his lust.  Without going into the sordid details, we’re interested only in the result of all this.  After he raped her, we read in v. 15, “Then Amnon hated her exceedingly, so that the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her,” and he had her thrown out.

You want to know why there has been such an increase in “domestic violence”?  2 Samuel gives us a lot of the answer.  A distorted definition of “love” has permeated our society, but where there is only a physical attraction and nothing else, the attraction can turn to loathing and hatred.  Since the moral foundation of our society has pretty well been destroyed, violence is often the result.  Even when the couple stays together, because the man has no understanding of his responsibility toward the woman, he often makes her life miserable, with verbal and physical abuse.  There is no excuse – ever – EVER – for a man to hit a woman.

Now, lest we be misunderstood, God designed and created men and women as sexual beings.  One of the first things He told them to do was to have children, and this was before they sinned against Him.  Sex is not some sordid result of their Fall, but an integral and vital part of their creation.

We ought to be thankful that God has made those things which are necessary for the survival and continuation of the human race is pleasurable, not painful.  If eating, for example, always produced severe nausea, or sex was painful like a root canal, or sleep, instead of being restful, was filled with nightmares, how long would the race have survived?

Because sex is pleasurable, and can result in children, God set boundaries in which, and only in which, sex may be enjoyed.  Hebrews 13:4 says Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled.  It is only in marriage that sex may properly and with God’s blessing be enjoyed.  And I say, “enjoyed.”  Proverbs 5:18b-19 says, …rejoice with the wife of your youth.  As a loving deer and a graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you at all times; and always be enraptured with her love.  And this isn’t just for the husband.  In Genesis 18:12,  after eavesdropping on the conversation of three strangers with her husband, in which they assure him that his wife Sarah would bear his child, she said to herself, “After I have grown old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?”   And marriage isn’t just two people living together.  In John 4, when talking to the Samaritan lady, Jesus told her that she had had five husbands and the man she was now living with wasn’t her husband. Jesus gave no sanction to her relationship.

Because children may be the result of sexual activity, it is only in marriage that such activity is permitted.  Children need the stability of a family, mom, dad, maybe brothers and sisters in which to grow and learn to live in society.  The woman needs the stability of marriage in order to be able to properly “mother” her children and raise them as they ought to be raised.  The man needs the stability of marriage to settle him down to the responsibilities of marriage and fatherhood. The children need the stability and security of marriage and the family as they navigate the shoals of growing up and going through adolescence.   And, yes, I can hear the howls of the feminists at such patriarchal “male chauvinism.”  What does the Scripture say, Romans 4:3.

At work one day, I heard a young man boasting about the fact that he had eight children by five different women.  I don’t know if he were telling the truth or not, but he was now talking about having become a “man,” because he finally had a daughter.  He probably had no idea that “a man” would take care of those women and children (even though polygamy isn’t favorably portrayed in Scripture.  Though I doubt he was married to any of the women).  Another man, one of his “achievements” in life was that he had 21 children.

Beyond that, there is the spread of STDs, the poverty of single women trying to raise children by themselves, the misery of the children as they are often neglected or subjected to a succession of men in their mother’s lives.  Debauchery, deviancy, degeneracy, disease, death.  These are just some of the sad results of the abandonment of God’s wisdom in this part of human life.

You see, there is wisdom in the limitation of sex to within the boundary of marriage.

Love is not simply an emotion, or emotionalism, or sentimentality.  It isn’t just feelings, or hormones.  It might involve feelings or hormones, but it is so much more than that.  Even at the physical level, it is so much more than that.  Love is an attitude.  So much of the world thinks that love is about “me,” if you “love” me, you’ll let me do what I want.  It’s all about my happiness, my wants, my satisfaction.  Seldom if ever does such an attitude really think about the other person.  This is not love, it is selfishness.  True love thinks mainly about the other person.

On the other hand, true love is not to be confused with indulgence.  Even God’s love, and perhaps especially God’s love, is not mere indulgence.  Hebrews 5:5, 6 says, My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, not be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the Lord loves, He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.  Read the section down to v. 11 to get the whole thought.  This has something to say about the relationship between parent and child.  Although this post isn’t primarily about parenting, “love” is.  The world has the idea that the child should be able to do, apparently, whatever it wants.  The parent can’t discipline the child, just give him or her a “time out.”  Any sort of physical discipline, i.e., “spanking,” is strictly forbidden.  I remember listening to a lady radio psychologist several years ago when the subject of spanking came up.  The caller was in favor of it.  The lady became so upset and irate at such a thought that she was practically incoherent in her response.  That’s a lot of the attitude today.

There is a difference between a spanking properly administered and abuse, which is often how it’s categorized.  Actually, the abuse comes in, partly because the parent doesn’t understand discipline at all, or because the parent becomes so frustrated that he can’t do anything to the child without getting into trouble that he finally lashes out and oversteps the boundary between discipline and abuse.  Society contributes to this by encouraging the child to turn his parent in if the child doesn’t like what they do to him.  No child is going to like a spanking.

My grandmother used to tell a story.  She was born and raised in Indiana, a few miles south of where I live now.  Became a school teacher.  She never said why, but she moved to Boulder, Colorado – now affectionately known as “The People’s Republic of Boulder.”  (I lived in Denver, 30 miles away, a good part of my life.)  There was a school there looking for a teacher.  She applied for the job.  Remember, we’re talking about 1918 or so. She was around 20.  The school board warned her that there was an unruly student in the school who had driven out the last three teachers.  Did she still want the job?  Would the school board back her up?  They would.  So she took the job.

Sure enough, the boy began to make trouble.  Grandma was the youngest of 11 brothers and sisters, so she knew what to do.  She grabbed him by the ear, or arm, and took a yardstick to him.  Took one to me a few times, too.  I deserved it.  Anyway, fast forward about 30 years to 1947.  On vacation, Grandma and Grandpa were driving through New Mexico on their way to Carlsbad Caverns, when the car began to overheat.  Grandpa stopped at a gas station to get some water for the car, went around the back of the building, and fell over, dead.  The assistant district attorney for this little town out in the middle of nowhere in New Mexico, who came to help, turned out to be this same boy, now grown up!  He thanked her for whipping him all those years ago.  Said that without it he probably would be on the other side of the law.

You know what would happen if a teacher were foolish enough to try that today.  She would be the one in trouble and the boy would be soothed and pampered because he was “a troubled youth,” physically abused by an out-of-control school teacher.  You know as well as I do that that would happen.

That’s what’s wrong with our youth today – no discipline.  “Love” has been redefined as indulgence.  I know that not all “troubled youth” go on to lives spent in jail, but that’s no thanks to society.

Ephesians 5:25-29 says, Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it by the washing of water by the word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious church,…holy and without blemish.  So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies….  For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord the church.

We husbands are pretty good about v. 22, where the wife is to submit to your own husband, as to the Lord, but we fall down pretty badly on the nourishing and cherishing and loving her the way Christ loves us.  This post really isn’t about marriage or parenting, but it is about love, love that is concerned about the other person and seeks their welfare.  That’s where it starts, humanly speaking, between a husband and wife and then between them and their children – and children and their parents.  I appreciated my own mother a lot more after I had kids of my own than I ever did growing up.  But by then it was too late to tell her that.

Finally, love isn’t about “tolerance,” that is, we’re not to judge another person’s beliefs or lifestyle or anything.  It is said that there are no absolutes, at least not the ones taught by Scripture.  While it may be true that love covers a multitude of sins, it is also true that love doesn’t rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth, 1 Corinthians 13:6.  John, “the apostle of love,” wrote in 1 John 4:1, Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.  There’s a lot out there that claims to be from God that has nothing to do with Scripture, or Him.

Love, when properly understood, is the best of human characteristics.  Misunderstood, it can become the worst.

I understand that a lot of what I’ve written is controversial, because it goes against the grain of current thinking.  I can’t help that.  What does the Scripture say? Romans 4:3.

A Kitchen Prayer

This poem was written many years ago by a 19 year old girl who was in domestic service in England.  It was read by Dr. G. Campbell Morgan during one of his services at Westminster Chapel, London.

 

Lord of all pots and pans and things,

Since I’ve no time to be

A saint by doing lovely deeds

Or watching late with Thee

Or dreaming in the dawnlight

Or storming Heaven’s gates,

Make me a saint by getting meals

And washing up the plates!

Although I must have Martha’s hands

I have a Mary mind,

And when I black the boots and shoes,

Thy sandals, Lord, I find!

I think of how they trod the earth,

What time I scrub the floor;

Accept this meditation, Lord!

I haven’t time for more.

Warm all the kitchen with Thy love,

And light it with Thy peace!

Forgive me all my worrying

And make all grumbling cease!

Thou who didst love to give men food

In a room or by the sea,

Accept this service that I do –

I do it unto Thee!