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The Gospel's Warning Label

Hebrews  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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The Gospel’s warning label: 1. Do not reject God's revelation. 2. The Gospel changes everything forever, especially you. - Here is a final warning in Hebrews which should put fear in the hearts of pretenders but produce confidence in the gospel (the better message of God through Jesus) for true believers, causing us to stand firm and live changed lives.

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PRAY and Intro:
Do remember our passage for study from last week? We illustrated it this way: Picture yourself on a mountain in the Colorado Rockies during a thunder storm, in two different scenarios. 1. You were hiking and are now exposed to the lightning and hail and blistering winds… seeking any shelter in a crack between rocks. 2. You are in a lookout tower that is securely grounded with lightning rods and surrounded by bulletproof glass… and you observe the power and display from your secure position in the tower.
That’s a lot like the vibe we get from the verses we covered last week contrasting the Sinai covenant mountain with the heavenly Mount Zion of the New Covenant in Christ. - Let’s review it bc that contrast is really important to what follows in our passage for today:
Hebrews 12:18–24 ESV
For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.” Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.” But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
OK, now let’s continue on to what our paragraph of emphasis has for our study today:

“This is your final warning.” (Hebrews 12:25-29)

Our Hebrews’ author is constantly balancing exhorting true believers to stand firm in faith and live confidently... with warning pretenders that they must personally listen and obey the call of faith. Following his contrast of the fear and separation of the Sinai covenant mountain with the joy and inclusion of the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God, of the new and better covenant, our author makes this final plea to warn pretenders and to confirm true believe of their the secure standing.
Hebrews 12:25–29 ESV
See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.
The author’s goal. - Here is a final warning which should put fear in the hearts of pretenders but produce confidence in the gospel (the better message of God through Jesus) for true believers, causing us to stand firm and live changed lives.
Are you listening to and obeying the call of faith?
(not past tense)
Do you trust in and rely on the promise of the unshakeable God?
If so, let us live as grateful citizens of Christ’s unshakeable Kingdom...
Expressed in the true service of a changed life.
(with reverence and awe for our just judge, a jealous God) - in the service of the King (every action of our lives an expression of devotion to Him)
What will your response be today, this week... to this final warning in Hebrews? I’m calling it...

The Gospel’s Warning Label

Many warning labels in our society are quite humorous. * But this warning is anything but trite, and it is not to be trifled with.
Here is the Gospel’s warning label:
1. Do not reject God’s revelation.
2. The Gospel changes you.
I’ll develop each of these as we continue. Here’s the first part of the warning in our verses:

God speaks. We do well to listen and obey. (v. 25)

Hebrews 12:25 ESV
See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven.
Hearing but not listening
This is undoubtedly a reference back to the wilderness generation who heard God’s warning at Sinai to keep his commandments but rebelled Hebrews 3:16
Hebrews 3:16 ESV
For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses?
Didn’t obey as equivalent to being faithless (3:18-19) - received punishment, died in wilderness (v.17)
Hebrews 3:18–19 ESV
And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.
How much more culpable!
disobedience here is tantamount to rejecting grace
Even less chance of escape if we turn away from God’s clear offering of salvation through Jesus. - Through Him God has spoken. We do well to listen to the message of the cross and respond with obedience of faith to the risen Lord.

You can be sure. God is God, and he does as he says. (vv. 26-27)

God has promised a future judgment in which He will remove everything earthly until only what is heavenly remains.
Quoting in v. 26 from Haggai 2:6, both abbreviating and emphasizing for effect…
Haggai 2:6 ESV
For thus says the Lord of hosts: Yet once more, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land.
Hebrews 12:26–27 ESV
At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain.
So while Christ inaugurated the kingdom and certified the judgment, there remains yet a FUTURE fulfillment of completing an all-encompassing global judgment.
Illust: Take a marble and form a dirt clod all around it. Then leave it out to dry. - If on the next day I start shaking that clod between my hands, pieces will crumble and fall away until only the unshakeable marble core remains.
That means we must be sure we are part of Christ’s unshakeable city. If we are dirt clod surrounding the marble… so close, but NOT actually of the perfect marble sphere. We will crumble under storms and fall away under persecution, proving us for who we really are. - That’s why all these warnings.
Since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken (which actually comes first in v. 28)
We CAN live confidently for God as citizens of his unshakeable city… IF our confidence is ONLY Christ.
No confidence in a religious system, and no confidence in the flesh (my own ability): “For every one look at your sins, take ten looks at Christ.” Robert Murray McCheyne

God calls. We come... and live as his children. (vv. 28-29)

God is a just judge and a jealous Father.
Consuming fire God (v. 29)
Hebrews 12:29 ESV
for our God is a consuming fire.
Quoting...
Deuteronomy 4:24 ESV
For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.
The same God before whom you rightly cower in fear because He is Holy, the great I AM… that same God says, “Come” and provides the means by faith in Jesus Christ.
His children know they are loved and live obediently from the heart.
Hebrews 12:28–29 ESV
Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.
Let us be grateful
The disciplining Father illustration was so appropriate (ch. 12 vv. 7-11)
Offering God acceptable worship - with fear and awe - heart obedience
Do you remember that Israel’s first king, before David, was a man named Saul? Saul did OK at following God at first, but then he began doing things in the way that he thought best.
After many and constant battles with the Philistines, we also learn in 1 Samuel 15 of Saul’s battles against the Amalekites. (Samuel was God’s priest and prophet at the time.) God instructed Saul (thru Samuel) to destroy completely the Amalekites—all the people, sheep and cattle—everything. But Saul and the Israelites only almost obeyed. They didn’t kill the best of the sheep and cattle. Then God said to Samuel in v. 11: “I regret that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions.” So Samuel was angry with Saul and distraught before God. When he met with Saul, the king tried to boast of his obedience to God. But Samuel was like, “then why do I hear the bleating of sheep.” Saul tried to excuse it by claiming that the soldiers spared the best of the sheep and cattle to sacrifice to the Lord. And then we hear this quotable quote from Samuel that resonates on into the New Testament:
1 Samuel 15:22 ESV
And Samuel said, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.
As it becomes clear in here in Hebrews, it is made plain elsewhere in the NT that what God does in us by faith is make us something new by giving us spiritual life,
Romans 8:10 ESV
But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
Being made spiritually alive results in a changed life. And it is that changed life and carrying on the ministry of the message of Christ that becomes equivalent to acceptable worship.
2 Corinthians 5:17–19 ESV
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
We will see in nearly all of Hebrews ch. 13 what sacrifices pleasing to God, acceptable worship, looks like through the changed lives of his people.
[Conclusion] So once more,
Here is a final warning in Hebrews which should put fear in the hearts of pretenders but produce confidence in the gospel (the better message of God through Jesus) for true believers, causing us to stand firm and live changed lives.
Are you listening to and obeying the call of faith? (not past tense) - Through Jesus God has spoken. We do well to listen to the message of the cross and respond with obedience of faith to the risen Lord.
Do you trust in and rely on the promise of the unshakeable God? - (Not just the negative of assured punishment, but also the positive of assured welcome and receiving His promise of eternal inheritance) If God was on Israel’s side to bring them into the promised land and establish for them an earthly kingdom, how much MORE are we assured of his promise to grow His Church and to complete his eternal, unshakeable, heavenly kingdom.
Then let us live as grateful citizens of Christ’s unshakeable Kingdom… Expressed in the true worship of a changed life. - Calvin: “Christ does not do away with the sins of the faithful so that they are free to sin; he makes them new people.”
So… We don’t simply change location. We don’t simply transfer allegiance. We become something new. - But that becoming something new should alter not only our trajectory but our very thoughts, speech, and actions.
From my life is mine… to my life is His.
From my goals and dreams are mine… to my purposes and desires are His.
From my mind is mine and my lips are mine and my hands are mine… to I will love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. Here’s my heart Lord. Here are my lips and my hands, Lord. I am gratefully and willingly yours.
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