Faithlife Sermons

Keeping Faith

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Why should a Christian keep the faith? Hebrews 10:19-12:2 provides three compelling reasons while also providing crucial lifelines to help keep the faith.

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Introduction:

Alex came home late in the evening after a hard day at work and an even worse time with the family. “It’s so hard!” Alex said to the darkness of the apartment bedroom. “It’s just so hard. My spirit seems torn apart, I have struggled to love those who have hurt me time and time again, I have given more of myself than I thought was possible, and I still keep finding myself the object of someone’s anger. Things don’t seem to be getting any better no matter how hard I try! I feel like I just need to pull back and focus on myself. I just want to be happy for a change. After all, don’t I deserve some happiness too?”

Can you relate to Alex’s struggle at all? The exasperation, being fed up with others, being tired of the grind and daily fight without and within? If you call yourself a follower of Jesus, I think you can relate. We’ve been studying faith from Hebrews 10-12 and it occurred to me that living a life of faith brings incredible difficulty. To walk by faith and not by sight, as we mentioned from 2 Corinthians 5:7, is a hard thing to do in a world that walks by sight and not by faith. Among other things, those with faith in Jesus will experience persecution for their faith (Matthew 5:10-12), they will face deep internal struggle against worldly desires of the flesh (Romans 7:21), they are called to a life of self-denial (Luke 9:23), and they are expected to love their enemies and those who hurt them (Matthew 9:44).

The life of faith is no easy life and if we were honest, we would have to admit that it would be easier to abandon the Christian life and live each day according to our pleasure, doing whatever makes us happy without concern for others. After all, that’s what everyone else does, right?

Why should the Christian keep the faith?

Why Keep the Faith?

The text of Hebrews 10:19-12:29 gives us some compelling answers to that question and also provides us with some things that will help us keep the faith through the most difficult of times. Let’s take a look!

When considering why Christians should keep the faith instead of abandoning it, the author of Hebrews reminds us in Hebrews 10:25 that the Day of Judgement is fast approaching.

24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

It’s easy to forget that there is a whole spiritual reality building into the fabric of our universe that we just can’t see. Part of that spiritual reality is that people have sinned against God and there will be a day of reckoning for each and every soul. When the time is right, Jesus will return to the earth as the Eternal King and He will judge the whole earth according to their works. Those who repented of their sin and remained faithful in Christ Jesus will pass through the Judgement and be better for it. But those who were faithless and unbelieving will be condemned to eternal punishment in Hell.

Having faith is the way to survive the coming judgement and so I think that’s quite a compelling reason to keep the faith.

For further study, read:

- Matthew 25:31-46

- Revelation 20:11-15

- 1 Corinthians 3:10-15

But there’s an even more compelling reason to keep the Christian faith found in Hebrews 10-12: The best is yet to come!

The Best is Yet to Come

A Better Country

The author, in Hebrews 11:13-16, described the Old Testament followers of Yahweh as desiring a better, heavenly country.

13 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one.

Those of faith in the Old Testament were always looking forward to the promise of a better country, a heavenly country, that was far better than the life they were living. That promise of a better country gave them good reason to keep the faith, for to abandon the faith would mean losing that heavenly promise.

For Christians today who still hold on to the promises of God through Jesus, being found faithful will result in us finding a heavenly country far better than this earthly one.

And along with that heavenly country comes a far better joy.

A Better Joy

Jesus knew there was a better joy for Him beyond the grave as long as he remained faithful. For the joy set before Him, according to Hebrews 12:2, Jesus endured the cross, despised the shame, has now received his joy! He was exalted by God, given the name that is above every name, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2, Philippians 2:8-11). Jesus was literally given heaven!

Our joy is not quite so awesome as to possess heaven itself as her King, but we are granted entrance into that heavenly country where pain and sorrow and tears and death don’t exist. But not only are we granted entrance into heaven, but we will also be granted the right to rule alongside King Jesus!

Scripture tells us in 2 Timothy 2:12 – If we endure, we will also reign with him, and in Revelation 3:21 - 21 The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. Jesus doesn’t need us to help Him, but God has so designed things that He uses the faithful in Christ to assist Jesus in ruling over both heavenly world and the multitudes of angels. (1 Corinthians 6:1-3).

So consider this: God will not only let you who are faithful into heaven, but He has an appointed purpose for you in Heaven too!

There is a far better joy that awaits those who keep the faith.

Lifelines for Keeping Faith

I hope as this point you are convinced that keeping the faith and living faithfully is a far better option than walking away, even when things get hard.

So, having found reasons in Hebrews 10-12 why the Christian should keep faith in Jesus to the very end, we turn now to what Hebrews 10-12 have to say about the lifelines we have that will help us keep the faith, for with all the trials and hardships we face every day, we cannot keep faith without help.

Hope

The first lifeline for faith is a familiar one: hope. Hebrews 10:23 says, 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.

I don’t think much needs to be said about this that hasn’t already been said today or in the previous messages of this sermon. Hope is central to faith and when we forget our hope, our faith falters. The Greek word translated hold fast means to take possession of and to go towards. We are to grab onto our hope for dear life and never let it go! It’s our lifeline and if we let go, we will drown!

Our hope in Jesus is worth everything. The promise of a heavenly country should be so valuable to us that we invest everything we have in it. Heaven is worth the pains and frustrations we might have here and now. It’s hard to think about that because we don’t have full possession of it yet, but when we are in that better country, we will not regret anything we gave up on the earth in our quest for faithfulness. It’s worth going without now so that we will have an eternally greater reward later.

Fellowship

The second lifeline for faith is fellowship. Hebrews 10:24-25 says, 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

To help keep faith in Jesus, we need the encouragement of other faithful Christians. God’s intention and design for us is to walk this path of faith together so that we may help one another in our times of need. As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another (Proverbs 27:17).

There are many ways of fellowship among Christians, but I am convinced that the best sort of fellowship is that in person meeting where Christians can worship together, pray together, confess sin with each other, serve together, and eat together.

Jesus

The third and final lifeline for faith from Hebrews 10-12 that we will look at today is Jesus.

For encouragement in our faith, we are to look to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2).

Never forget that Jesus was, and still is, a flesh and blood human man while also being 100% God. He faced trials and challenges and temptations and He of everyone had the most reason to abandon the faith…but be also had the most reason to keep the faith. See, Jesus faced down the worst evil in the world and was destroyed by it. He knew the wrath of God was going to be poured out on Him and he could have listened to the Devil who promised Him possession of the earth if only Jesus would worship him instead of God the Father. But Jesus knew that three days in the grave followed by an eternity of joy was far better than an eternity spent in Hell.

Jesus’ example to us is to look forward to the joy set before us. But even more than being an example, Jesus actively helps us in our need.

I’m reminded of the man in Mark 9:24 who cried out to Jesus, “I believe; help my unbelief!” That is a prayer Jesus is pleased to answer. God has given us the Spirit of Jesus, the Holy Spirit, who guides us in all truth and comforts us in our grief and reminds us of our hope. Jesus is always with us through His Spirit and He is ready and willing to help us if we cry out to Him with humility and submission.

Conclusion

Today, as in every day, God is calling you and me to faithfulness. He has shown us what faith is, He has told us why faith is so important, He has told us of the power of faith to transform those near and far, He has given us every reason to come to Jesus in faith and to keep that faith, and He has given us help to remain faithful through the worst the devil has to throw at us.

I’ll close by asking the same question I asked a couple weeks ago: What is the state of your faith? And if I can ask one more question, I’ll ask this: Where in your life does God want your faith to grow?

Next week we will be hearing from a representative from Voice of the Martyrs about our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ across the world, and then in the month of October we will take a look at 5 examples of faithful believers through church history. Following that in the month of November, we will look at examples of faithful people in the Old Testament.

It is my prayer through all of this that God will motivate us as individuals and as a church to a greater and stronger faith that will carry a godly testimony across Cortland Country and beyond.

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