Home > Andrew's Blogs, Theology > Studying the Word is a Matter of Perseverance

Studying the Word is a Matter of Perseverance

I’ve been studying and teaching through the book of Hebrews and interacting with chapter six which holds a difficult passage (Hebrews 6:4-6) for many reasons. I think the hardest part of this text on apostasy is that we all have loved ones and friends who seem to fit the category this passage describes. It’s painful to think about dear ones who grew up in church and are now running the opposite direction, and so we sometimes shrink back from texts like these.

It seems to me that the writer is portraying a turning away from God of the most extreme kind – a willful turning away from Jesus after experiencing Him and His church in significant ways. Not a portrait of genuine faith but a phony faith. He does this with the intent of warning his congregation to not give up running the race.

Over and over again the writer of Hebrews warns the people to not fall away, not turn back, and to be sure to enter God’s rest. He encourages them to continue meeting together (chapter 10) so that they would spur on and encourage and persevere along in the faith. He wants them to finish well and avoid drifting off into the road ditch of unbelief. But where does the extreme example find it’s origins? Where does the falling, the drifting, the turning, and the unbelief begin?

It begins with a lazy attitude towards the Word. Yep, I said it: turning away from the living God, begins with a lackadaisical attitude towards the Word of God. Individuals who act like Christians, say the right things, and go through the right motions, yet have no movement beyond the elementary truths of God’s word are in a bad spot, and may not even be followers of Jesus. At a minimum they are stetting themselves up for drifting or out right rejection.

It’s not a good thing to be inoculated to the truth of Jesus Christ. It’s not a good thing to just get a taste of faith and then not persevere in the Word and a life that is righteous. It’s not good to be satisfied with the elementary teachings of the Bible. The writer of Hebrews warns that it is possible that one in that condition may become hardened to the point of not being soft to the Gospel. I do not believe this difficult text teaches that a believer can lose salvation but that one can become inoculated to the truth.

Hebrews 5:11ff (the lead in to the difficult apostasy passage) takes to task the “believer” who is stranded on the elementary teachings of the Bible. He calls these first teachings milk – the starting place for a new believer. But the milk drinker is not equipped to discern between that which is good and evil, righteous and unrighteous. “But solid food is for the mature who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.” He challenges them to “leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity.”

It’s clear that a constant diet of milk and not moving on to solid food is a starting place which may lead to sinful unbelief and a turning away from God. A hearty regimen of God’s Word which leads to discernment and right living (a work of the Holy Spirit in the context of a group of believers) is that which keeps us from falling away and an indicator of true faith.

Studying the Word is a matter of perseverance and perseverance is a matter of studying the Word. Sound doctrine impacts living. The Word is where our lives and motives intersect with sound doctrine. “For the Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

Our response to a such a strong warning should be to move forward in the solid food of Scripture, to embrace God’s Word and the doctrine that is in it. Read and study the Bible with others. Dig in beyond what you get on a Sunday morning.

One last thought. Those who reject Jesus outrightly are not the only ones who will not enter God’s rest, but it is also those who drift past the truth because of indifference. Let us fix our thoughts and eyes on Jesus, let us join arms and encourage each other to do the same.

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  1. January 8, 2008 at 2:38 pm

    Andrew,
    After reading this I can see how my reading 1 Pet. in it’s entirety everyday is a blessing.

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