Heb 3:14                                Partakers of Christ                                                1/8/2012       

Š      An Evil Heart of Unbelief (Heb 3:12-19, 4:2)

 

 

 

 

 

#1.                  Exhort One Another Daily (Heb 3:6,13, Prov 21:1)

 

 

 

 

 

Š      Made Partakers of Christ (Heb 3:14, Eph 2:4-6, 1:4, 4:20-27, 2Thes 2:13, Rev 22:18)

 

 

 

 

 

#2.                  Do We Hear His Voice? (Heb 3:15, Psalm 95:1-11, Heb 13:8, Deut 32:4, Rev 6:16)

 

 

 

 

 

Š      Not All that Came Out of Egypt (Heb 3:16)

 

 

 

 

 

#3.                  With Whom Was He Grieved? (Heb 3:17, 10:26,29,38, Rev 13:7-8, Jam 3:1)

 

 

Please open your Bibles to the Epistle of the Hebrews, Heb 3:12 (2X). The last time I preached from Hebrews chapter 3 was on November 13 of last year. Since then we have had many special projects, and it is only now, after almost two months that I am continuing here in this chapter. As you know, almost in entire chapter 3 God is speaking of the rebellious children of Israel who came out of Egypt; they came out unsaved and they died unsaved in the wilderness. They had an evil heart:

Š      An Evil Heart of Unbelief (Heb 3:12-19, 4:2)

Now we have already discussed extensively in last sermon these rebellious Israelites who had an evil heart of unbelief, and therefore today I want us to see the contrast between those rebels and those who remain faithful to Christ. Therefore the sermon of today is titled, Partakers of Christ, (2X), taken from Heb 3:14 where partakers of Christ are mentioned. Let us read Heb 3:12-19,

Heb 3:12-19  12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. 13  But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. 14  For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end; 15  While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. 16  For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses. 17  But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness? 18  And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? 19  So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.”

And why were they still in unbelief? The answer is found in the next chapter, in verse 2. Heb 4:2,

Heb 4:2, “For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.”

In other words, the Gospel was preached in the Old Testament as well as in the New Testament. Moreover, we need to take note that God arranged it so that the Gospel was preached also to the reprobate. They do not have the excuse that they have never heard the Gospel. But when it was preached to them it was not mixed with faith, meaning that they did not believe it at the time that they heard the Gospel preached into their ears. Their heart and their love were far from God, and they had no intention at all to believe the true Gospel, for that would have obligated them to abandon their idols. And you see, this obligation to abandon their idols is also the one great obstacle today for many people who hear the true Gospel. They hear that it is something new, and they are afraid that it is going to cost them something that they do not want to give up. For example, they are smoking, or they are drinking excessively, or they are in a fornicating relationship and they do not want to give that up, or worse they hold on to a gospel of salvation by their own free will and thus they worship and bow down to a god who does not exist. And so they decide not to believe what they hear.

Heb 3:12 says, “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.” Here is another manifestation of unbelief. In this case the person has joined the ranks of the saints, claiming that he believes the Gospel. But then when he departs it is clear that he never was a partaker with the saints of the glorious Gospel, and he does not love the saints. We are not proclaiming a salvation by works, but to abandon those to whom he has committed a loving relationship are signs that he has no faith and that he does not love the Lord. No one can be saved without faith and without love for the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us now look at the life of the saints in the church, and what their life would look like if they edify one another. We read in Heb 3:13,

#1.                  Exhort One Another Daily (Heb 3:6,13, Prov 21:1)

Heb 3:13, “But exhort one another daily, while it is called Today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” How is it that Christ will keep us unto the end? The answer is found in Heb 3:6. We were there before, but it bears repeating. We read in Heb 3:6 (2X),

Heb 3:6, “But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the glory of the hope firm unto the end.” What is this verse not saying? It is not saying that we shall receive salvation as a prize “if we hold fast the confidence and the glory of the hope firm unto the end”, and thus we cannot be sure of our salvation until we reach the end of our life. That is not what this verse is saying, for that would contradict a whole lot of verses which teach that salvation is not by our works but by the grace of God alone. No! Heb 3:6 is saying that Christ is the Son of the Master over His own house, and if we belong to His house “we shall hold fast the confidence and the glory of the hope firm unto the end,” because He is the Master of all our thoughts and feelings unto the end of our life. This Greek sentence structure is such that it could easily lead us into the arms of the Arminian persuasion. And so, back to Heb 3:13, how is it that we would exhort one another daily, lest “any of us be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin?” How is it that the labor of our exhortations would prevent the hardening of our hearts? The fact is that our works cannot prevent the hardening of our hearts; we cannot do it, but it all hangs on the grace of God. God uses the means of exhortation and the means of temptation to tilt us in that direction that He has already determined for us before the foundation of the world. God says in Prov 21:1,

Prov 21:1, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD as the rivers of water: He turneth it whithersoever he will.” The Lord works out His plan using the sins of man. Apply this now to the exhortation mentioned in Heb 3:13. We need to keep in mind that it is Christ who keeps us until the end, but He uses our fellow saints to encourage us through the faith that we see in each other, through reminding each other to remain watchful, through self-denial for one another, through prayer for one another, and through our mutual Bible studies to hold fast until the end. And thus, as fellow pilgrims in a hostile country, as members of the same family, we ought to have care for one another, to love one another, to comfort one another, to admonish one another, to edify one another, and to have peace one with another. Only thus are we really helpful to one another. And please note that this is to be done daily, for we must not be weary in well doing. And so, we can help one another to see the deceitfulness of sin. We can talk one another out of engaging in a little sin, for one sin breeds another sin, and before you know it we are deeply into sin and we are hardening our hearts through it. And we can talk one another into doing those things that are pleasing in the sight of God. There are many charities that fall in this category. There are many things we can do together and so make our life pleasant every day. Let us now continue in verse 14.

Š      Made Partakers of Christ (Heb 3:14, Eph 2:4-6, 1:4, 4:20-27, 2Thes 2:13, Rev 22:18)

Heb 3:14, “For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end.” What does this mean that we are made partakers of Christ? It means to take part in, or share in Christ. We are partakers of Christ’s sufferings. We are partakers of the Lord’s Table. We are partakers of the heavenly calling, as we read in Heb 3:1. And so, let us start at the beginning: Are we “in Christ”? And if we are in Christ, does this not mean that we are partakers of Christ? Please put a sticker here in Heb 3:14, and turn to the Epistle to the Ephesians, Eph 2:4 (2X). The Bible clearly says that we have been crucified with Christ, we have died with Christ, we have been buried with Christ, we have been raised with Christ, we have ascended with Christ, we are seated with Christ in the heavenlies, and we are reigning with Christ. We find these truths in several places in the New Testament. For example here in Eph 2:4-6 we read,

Eph 2:4-6, “4  But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5  Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6  And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:”

We have always understood that these truths hang together with the fact that we were chosen in Christ from before the foundation of the world, as stated in Eph 1:4. And so, let us apply this again.

What is Heb 3:14 not saying? It is not saying that “if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end of our life,” then as a prize for our faithfulness we are made partakers of Christ, for this interpretation will violate the fact that we were placed in Christ from before the foundation of the world. But what Heb 3:14 is saying is this: Since we are made partakers of Christ by having been placed in Him from before the foundation of the world, we shall “hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end of our life.” Here again we have a Greek sentence construction which through misunderstanding can lead us into the Arminian persuasion. And so, let us continue to search what it means to be partaker of Christ, according to Heb 3:14. Please turn one page to Eph 4:20 (2X). It means that we will learn from Christ the new life that we live after having been raised with Him. Yes, we must learn this, just like a newborn child must learn how to live. We read in Eph 4:20-27,

Eph 4:20-27, “20  But ye have not so learned Christ; 21  If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22  That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23  And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24  And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. 25  Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. 26  Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: 27  Neither give place to the devil.”

Here God addresses the business of putting off the old man and putting on the new man, which is mentioned in three different places in the Bible. What does that mean? Legally our old man was crucified with Christ, and our new man was raised with Christ. The Lord already paid for this process to be applied at the time we were Born Again. But this awareness does not come instantly the moment we are Born Again. We have to learn it like a newborn baby must learn how to live like a human being. This is how we are gradually molded into the image of Christ. This is how we are made partakers of Christ, even though we were already guaranteed this glory before the foundation of the world and at the time of the cross. Some people believe that we are able to put off the old man and put on the new man. But if we look at verse 24 we can see clearly that it is God who has to do it.

Eph 4:24, “And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” Clearly, it is God who created the new man, “which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” And so, we conclude that the process of sanctification is also entirely God’s work. But God guarantees that this process of sanctification will come to pass. And then He gives us this sanctification of our soul as a gift, and He gives us the credit for having been sanctified. Behold the goodness and severity of God. Toward those who are without the grace of God, severity, but toward those who live in Christ and receive an abundance of grace, goodness; and we also have the promise to remain in His grace forever, not only in this life, but forever in the New Heaven and the New Earth.

What are the outward signs that we indeed have been made partakers of Christ? Please turn to the Epistle of Second Thessalonians, 2Thess 2:13 (2X), and let us look at this passage. In 2Thess 2:1-12 we see the severity of God toward those who near the end of time worship Antichrist, and according to Rev 13:8 this is practically the whole world. Then in verses 13-17 the Lord addresses the small minority who still remains faithful. What is God saying to us in 2Thess 2:13?

2Thess 2:13, “But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:”

Remember those words, “through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.” No one will be saved without faith or sanctification. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Here are the outward signs that we indeed have been made partakers of Christ. Those who are led astray (verse 9) through the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders shall also receive a strong delusion that they should believe THE lie. What is THE lie? It is THE lie that God is still bringing Divine messages today, contrary to Rev 22:18. And why should they believe THE lie? It is because they have no faith. Their faith rests in a god who does not exist. It is idolatry of the worst kind, and they are dragging their sons and daughters with them through the fire. Behold, the severity of God. And will we then hear His voice when He guides us in the paths of sanctification?

#2.                  Do We Hear His Voice? (Heb 3:15, Psalm 95:1-11, Heb 13:8, Deut 32:4, Rev 6:16)

Heb 3:15, “While it is said, Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.” Did the rebels among the children of Israel hear the message from God? Of course they heard it through Moses, but they chose to ignore it. Through Moses they heard that they were given the land of Canaan. That is why they sent out twelve spies to spy out the land in preparation for their attack on the Canaanites. But ten of the twelve spies brought in an evil report, and the children of Israel decided not to invade the land. Their rebellion brought on the wrath of God who commanded them to continue to wander in the wilderness for 40 years. They heard the message of God, but then they decided to invade the land after all. But now they went against the commandment of the Lord for the second time, and they were smitten before their enemies. Clearly they heard the voice of God, but they chose to ignore it. They hardened their hearts. Now, hundreds of years later the Lord reminded the children of Israel, “Harden not your hearts as in the provocation.” Please turn in your Bibles to the Prophecy of the Psalms, Psalm 95:1 (2X). God dictated this Psalm to an unknown psalm writer. In this Psalm God lays down a contrast between those who will hear the voice of God and obey, and then beginning in verse 8 those who also hear the voice of God but they choose to disobey. One group of people who please the Lord, and another group who do not please the Lord. Psalm 95:1-11,

Psalm 95:1-11, “1  O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. 2  Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms. 3  For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods. 4  In his hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also. 5  The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land. 6  O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker. 7  For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. Today if ye will hear his voice, 8  Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness: 9  When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my work. 10  Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways: 11  Unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest.”

What a glorious beginning of this Psalm! The Rock of our salvation refers to Christ. Generally this is how we would read the Bible. When we see the word Rock, singular, it often refers to Christ, who is the Rock of our salvation. A great Rock is unmovable, solid, can be depended upon, and does not change with time, like Heb 13:8 says it: “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever.” And God said in Deut 32:4, “He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.” When we find the word “rocks”, plural, it often refers to the idols of the heathen, like when the last day of the earth is approaching we read in Rev 6:16,

Rev 6:16, “And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:” They shall seek comfort in their idols, but they shall not find it. And so in Psalm 95:1 we are admonished to make a joyful noise, especially joyful, for we are deliriously happy with the salvation that God has bestowed upon us freely. Do we hear the voice of our Bridegroom loudly singing out of this Psalm? Let us come before Him with thanksgiving. And what is the joyful noise that we shall accompany ourselves. Most likely it shall be with Psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs. But do not think that our singing will sound so artistically beautiful in the ears of God. As far as musical skills go, our earthly music may sound in heavenly ears like the braying of a donkey. The Lord looks upon the heart. That is where it really matters. And so, we sing because we love the Lord, and we sing because He has made us exceeding glad. This is what we keep in mind when we worship and when we sing to the Lord, for the Lord is a great God and a sovereign King. In His hand are the deep places of the earth. Now, what does that mean? He is not necessarily referring to places that are deep in the earth, for to God all places are equally accessible. But places that are of great significance, places that have had much influence in history, and places where many martyrs have suffered at the hands of messengers of Satan would be the deep places of the earth. For example, Golgotha would be such a place. But only God would know where that place is, for man in his depravity would make of this place a shrine, and would worship the place instead of Christ who suffered in that place. O come, let us worship the Lord, our Maker, for He is our God and we are the people of His pasture, the flock of His hand. Today, do we hear His voice? Do we hear Him calling us to the work that He has reserved for us? Do we hear Him interpreting the Bible for us? Do we hear Him when He says, “Lo, I come, in the volume of the Book it is written of Me to do Thy will, O God.” And then, when we search for Him in the volume of the Book we are enriched by Him and we are greatly blessed in all our searching, and we are astounded at the wisdom of God.

Now the contrast: Do we hear His voice exhorting us: Harden not your heart as in the provocation, as in the day of temptation in the wilderness. Keep in mind that you have been born with a wicked heart, and if you do not watch and pray you too may sin grievously, like David did. Forty years long was I grieved with that wicked generation, and I saw that this was a people who did not have faith, nor did they fear God. They sinned continually for forty years. So I sware in My wrath that they should not enter into My rest. Now, what is that rest that God spoke about in 1446 BC? Would that not be the same rest that God spoke about when He dictated this Psalm hundreds of years later when Israel was already in the Promised Land? And would this not be the same rest that God presently speaks about when He causes us to read this Psalm? Some people imagine that this was the rest that the children of Israel enjoyed when they entered into the land of Canaan. That is a bunch of nonsense, for a righteous God will assign the same penalty for the same crime. The penalty for a hardened heart is damnation in hell, and this was the penalty for the rebels of the children of Israel in 1446 BC, as well as for those in Israel who hardened their hearts hundreds of years later, as well as for those in the New Testament churches who presently harden their hearts. They have not heard His voice. Let us now return to the Epistle to the Hebrews. Please turn again to Heb 3:16 (2X). We have to say, to the credit of the nation of Israel, that not all that came out of Egypt were rebellious.

Š      Not All that Came Out of Egypt (Heb 3:16)

Heb 3:16, “For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses.” It was the majority who persuaded the entire nation of Israel to turn back to Egypt. And this angered the Lord greatly. But not all that came out of Egypt did provoke the Lord in this grievous way. We do not know what fraction remained faithful. Certainly there were many who saw the hand of the Lord upon them in the pillar of fire by night and the pillar of cloud by day. They saw and remembered that the Lord dried up the Red Sea before them, and they remembered how the Lord drowned the entire Egyptian army in the Red Sea. They remembered that the Lord gave them water out of the Rock twice, and that the Lord rained manna from heaven every morning, and from time to time the Lord gave them quail in the evening. They all have seen these mighty miracles that the Lord did for them, and yet a significant portion of them rebelled against the Lord. How was that possible? This tells us the principle that people are not converted by seeing miracles. Only the grace of God can turn their wicked hearts around.

These days quite a few people believe in the premillennial scenario of eschatology, which means that they believe there will be a glorious 1000 years where the Lord Jesus Christ shall descend from heaven and reign over all the earth from Jerusalem, and the Jews, the descendants of Jacob, shall evangelize this whole earth. For what purpose will God arrange such a scenario? He will do this so that people will become saved when they see all these signs and wonders. But people are not going to be converted by seeing signs and wonders. In fact, if we want to point to a period in history where people were witnessing a great number of signs and wonders, we should point to the exodus out of Egypt, for this was a period in time where everyone of the nation of Israel could see many signs and wonders very close by. And yet the majority of them remained unsaved. But:

#3.                  With Whom Was He Grieved? (Heb 3:17, 10:26,29,38, Rev 13:7-8, Jam 3:1)

With whom was the Lord particularly grieved? He was grieved with those who were the leaders of the rebellious band of Israelites. They were the ones who persuaded the majority to return to Egypt. Let us analyze how great an insult this would be to God? The Lord arranged the exodus out of Egypt to be a grand picture of the salvation program that He proclaimed in the New Testament. Egypt was a picture of the world under the rulership of Satan, and Pharaoh was a picture of Satan. The children of Israel were born in bondage to Pharaoh, just like everyone of the human race is born as a slave of Satan. No slave could escape Egypt, for they would have died in the desert surrounding Egypt. Pharaoh was a cruel task-master, just like those who presently are in the kingdom of Satan have a cruel task-master. Satan demands that they obey the Law of God perfectly, and if they fail just once they will inherit eternal damnation. But God promised the children of Israel in Egypt that He would deliver them, just like Christ promised deliverance to those who recognize that they are enslaved to sin and Satan. Then on the night of Passover the Passover Lamb was killed and all these slaves of Pharaoh were set free in one day. Likewise in AD 33 the Lamb of God was crucified, and when He died all those who recognized that they were slaves of sin and Satan were declared free from their bondage on the day that Christ rose from the grave. Can you see the similarity? The Blood of the Lamb shall make you free. Like Egypt was the house of bondage for the children of Israel, so our enslavement to sin and Satan was our house of bondage. Then the children of Israel started their journey to the Promised Land, which took them 40 years to complete. After we have received our declaration of freedom when we were Born Again, we are wandering in the wilderness of this world until it is our time to enter into our Promised Land. But when the children of Israel decided to go back into Egypt, this is equivalent to someone of us who abandons Christ and goes back to the life he lived before Christ saved him. By this act we are despising the work of Christ on the cross, and have trodden underfoot the Son of God, and have counted the blood of the covenant an unholy thing (Heb 10:29). The Lord Jesus Christ says in Heb 10:38, “If any man draw back, My soul shall have no pleasure in him.” Or in the words of Heb 10:26, “For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins.”

Now, with whom was God especially grieved? He was especially grieved with the leaders of the Jews who advised their contemporaries to return back to Egypt and place themselves again under the yoke of Pharaoh. But history repeats itself. Let us now apply this to our time period. Near the end of time the majority of people in the churches will go back into bondage to sin and Satan. We find this in Rev 13:7-8, where we read,

Rev 13:7-8, “7  And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. 8  And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”

In other words, Antichrist shall make war with the saints and will overcome them. The people in the churches shall be delivered to Antichrist. However not all of them. A tiny fraction of the saints are they whose names have been written in the Book of Life; they only shall not worship Antichrist, but everyone else will. How will this come to pass? Certainly not one person can evangelize the whole world and make the whole world to worship him. But, you see, Antichrist is not one person, but is many persons disguised as preachers and teachers of the Word of God, and they will lead their congregations into false gospels that will have the result that the people in the churches are brought back into bondage to sin and Satan. They are like those who lead the children of Israel back into Egypt. That is why God repeatedly warned not to go back to Egypt.

Forget the scenario of the one world religion. That will never come to pass. Satan does not need to create a one world religion; that is making it too difficult for him. Satan is satisfied when all the religions people are lured into are false religions, for they all lead people to the same hell. And he would be equally satisfied when they all would be drawn back to Rome.

Forget the scenario of a one world government; that is making it too difficult for Satan. He is satisfied when all the governments of this world have become secular, anti-God, and anti-Christ, and are in common agreement not to promote the Christian religion, but will work together to establish a heaven on earth without God and without Christ. This is really Satan’s goal, for then he has the entire human race in his hands.

And the leaders and teachers of these movements are the ones whom the Lord hates most. Let me show this from Jam 3:1, and there we read, “My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.” The “masters” refers to Bible teachers who are proclaiming a false gospel, for they are leading many people to hell. They will inherit the hottest place in hell, for they have been the cause of many churches falling into apostacy.

Can you see how great an insult this is to the Lord Jesus Christ by proclaiming that the human race can manage quite well without Christ, and without the cross of Christ? No Lord, we do not need to be Partakers of Christ. We can do quite well without You, Jesus. Now this is what this world is heading for. The older generation will die out, and of the younger generation there are very few who will know what the true Gospel is, for they can do quite well without Jesus. But before Satan will claim complete victory, the Lord will return.

AMEN.                  Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.