Faith's Diet & Exercise, Part TWO (Heb 13:15-16)
Healthy Faith (vv. 7-9a)
Proven (Growing and Enduring)
Focused (“Jesus is the same...”)
Guarded (Against False Doctrine)
Listen again to how we aim to copy the healthy faith of those leaders who have gone before us: faith should be proven (growing and enduring to the end), it must remain focused (Jesus is the same…), and it has to be guarded (against varied and strange teaching [false doctrine]: pollution, digression, distraction, and dilution)
Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them.
Healthy Diet = HEARTS STRENGTHENED BY GRACE (vv. 9b-14)
We have an altar that sanctifies
We go to Him outside the camp
We seek the city that is to come
So too a healthy faith has a healthy diet. Even while we are guarding against junk food we need to feed on that which gives us healthy hearts, and that is grace. Feeding on grace means we know that we have an altar that sanctifies (Christ’s completed atoning sacrifice makes us holy, set apart to God), it means we go to Jesus for grace where he is, outside the “camp” of religious system and location, and in our relationship to him we accept the grace of bearing his reproach with him, helped along in that by remembering that we are pilgrims here (aiming not for earthly comfort but for the eternal city, the kingdom of God).
Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them. We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat. For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy places by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.
And now finally healthy faith exercises through praise to God and showing kindness to and sharing with others.
Diet and exercise are as closely intertwined in our spiritual health as they are in our physical health.
What if you just eat and don’t do anything? Is grace meant to be only something that we imbibe, soak up in our solitude, and just sit? Or is grace what we feast on and rest in AS WELL AS the energy at work in us to BE & GO?
It is not enough for your spiritual health to “attend” a church gathering that boldly proclaims God’s truth. You must “tend” to God’s business, you must be the church.
Get up and speak up! Get up and do something! (not just show up, shut up, and pay up)
Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
SACRIFICES PLEASING TO GOD (15-16)
SACRIFICES PLEASING TO GOD (15-16)
Sacrifices pleasing to God only come one way: through Jesus.
Theologically it means...
Spurgeon - Here we have a description of the believer’s position before God. He has done away with all earthly ordinances, and has no interest in the ceremonies of the Mosaic law. As believers in Jesus, who is the substance of all the outward types, we have, henceforth, nothing to do with altars of gold or of stone: our worship is spiritual, and our altar spiritual. What then? Are we to offer no sacrifice? Very far from it. We are called upon to offer to God a continual sacrifice.
His power, His will, His way
Practically it means…
Staying close to Jesus (stay close to his people to stay close to Him)
Motivation matters; sincere heart
[transition] For the author of Hebrews the time of atonement sacrifice is past. The response of praise to God and works of love are the only sacrifices remaining for the people of God. (O’Brien)
Praise is to be continual
Praise is connected to gratitude
This praise in the OT is associated with “thanksgiving” (Psalm 50:14, Lev. 7:12), and rightly so...
Praise is proportionate to knowledge of God
This praise is described as the fruit of lips that acknowledge (confess, publicly profess) his name. - You can’t rightly praise from your ignorance.
God’s name, his character: which we do not only in singing and speaking to one another (10:24-25), but also in sharing Christ with those who do not yet acknowledge his name - “God didn’t just make us, he wants fellowship with us. This is the kind of God he is. See what he has done. And for yourself, taste and see that the Lord is good.”
Be sure your praise is grounded in biblical truth.
Be sure your praise isn’t outward show but is rooted in your heart.
Be sure your praise is grounded in what God says about himself, that it flows from the spring of that truth’s impact on your heart. - Everything else is really fluff and stuff.
“Praise flows from a heart that has been brought into submission to God and His Word.” - Steve Cole
Our hearts are like a field… “Out of the abundance of the [what] the mouth speaks”?
Then we can be sure that...
Declaring His praises has a way of strengthening our comprehension and conviction.
Praising God for what we know of him helps us grow in Him.
Showing Kindness & Sharing What We Have
Showing Kindness & Sharing What We Have
(actions contributing to the welfare of others)
Things not to neglect/forget...
Without corresponding living, praise of God rings hollow. (James 2:15-16)
Without such expressions of love the praise of God lacks integrity. (O’Brien)
- (Don’t neglect) Hospitality before, and now these… Acts of kindness toward others; Christian fellowship/sharing
‘“Doing good” is a general term for all kinds of practical ministry to others, whereas “sharing” (Greek = koinonia) means sharing the essentials of life with those who lack them and are unable to work to obtain them’ - Steve Cole
Kindness and koinōnia can’t be accomplished without community.
You can’t really rightly praise in isolation… And you certainly can’t commit yourself to loving one another the way that Jesus has called you to unless you really commit to his community.
Kindness comes at a cost, and sharing can’t happen without sacrifice.
But following the heart and pattern of Jesus yields blessing and growth.
- Do you want the blessing of experiencing the grace of Christ at work and growing in your life? Then follow the example Jesus set and do it his way. Aim to be lowest and last. Shoot for serving rather than stardom. Share with those in need without holding it over their heads. Show kindness, even or especially to those who don’t “deserve” it, who haven’t “earned” it.
Pray for wisdom to not “help” in ways that hurt but to help in ways that help.
- Foolishly giving someone money who is capable but refuses to work is not kindness. Kindness would be to make the extra, taxing effort to invest in their life and see if they will learn to catch fish the fish they eat. - Enabling family and friends near us in laziness or sin isn’t love, it’s folly.
Now of course this is tricky bc we aren’t God and we need to guard our hearts against selfishness and superiority. So let me say, if we err on one side or the other here, let’s err on the side of generosity.
Well-pleasing to God...
[Conclusion] Let’s recap the impact of our text by returning to our metaphor.
Last week we concluded with, “Malnourished Souls? Atrophied Faith?” Is that God’s intention for his people?
So this week we bring it back around to… seriously…
Take Your Health Seriously
Take Your Health Seriously
Eat the right stuff - Hearts Strengthened by Grace (v. 9ff)
If you don’t eat the right stuff, your exercise will run on fumes (at best) and (at worst) you’ll be doing things that are fruitless. [Francis Chan] - You can’t eat garbage teaching (even when promoted by a good-looking and charismatic leader) and drink watered-down truth (even if you think philosophically that it’s easier to swallow, making it more appealing… What’s appealing about the gospel is that it at once kills us and raises us to life). Find every way you can to fill your heart again and again with the truth of God’s glory and grace. Where do you get your heart strengthened by grace? More of Jesus. Where do you get more of Jesus?
Pray. Read (Study). Share (Fellowship). Serve. Witness. (Cover each these things in prayer, and do all of them as often as you can with one another!)
Don’t sit on your duff - Sacrifices Pleasing to God (vv. 15-16)
If you feast on great truth but don’t exercise, you grow fat with knowledge and your spiritual muscles atrophy/shrink and your metabolism slows. Spiritually speaking, you begin to lose your appetite for the right stuff… You begin to know and feel like you’re not healthy and that further hinders your motivation to rectify it.
God’s glory and grace isn’t meant to be imbibed but not exercised.
In fact, you could say that if grace doesn’t move you to speech and action, that you aren’t drinking as much of it as you think you are. And if you don’t exercise the way you should, then you don’t thirst the way you should.
Be honest with yourself and with us (your community), where are you seeking nourishment and motivation for the Christian life?
In what ways do you need to adjust your attitude and practice so that you can praise God from a healthy heart?
Write down a couple of things that you intend to do (in the next days/weeks/months) to share your spiritual hope, to show kindness, and to share material provision with those in need.
Praise God by knowing him better… through Jesus. Know him better by drawing near… through Jesus, AND by serving him… through Jesus (by his power, his will, his way).
Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.