Five Minute Devotions: Hebrews 3
Hebrews 3 invites us to respond to the New Covenant message laid out in Hebrews 1 and Hebrews 2. He begins by contrasting the ministry of Jesus with the ministry of Moses (Hebrews 3:1-6), showing how Moses’ ministry laid the foundation for this New Covenant of Christ. Using the Old Covenant, he urges readers to respond immediately to the Gospel message (Hebrews 3:7-12) and continue to hold steadfast to the Gospel until the end (Hebrews 3:13-19).
Nowhere else in Scripture are we confronted as strongly about the immediacy of the Gospel as in Hebrews 3. The author is clear. Do not delay. Do not hold back. Today is the day of salvation. You’ve not missed it at some day in the past and you cannot guarantee it sometime in the future. You only have now. Today. “For as long as it is called today.”
Think of this for a moment. You don’t have to schedule your time with God. He doesn’t have to pencil in a meeting with you to discussion your salvation. There’s no waiting list. You don’t get deferred acceptance into eternal life. It’s an ever-present present there for the taking. Any time you would like.
And a lot of people see that opportunity and think, “Tomorrow.” Tomorrow, I’ll start going to church. Tomorrow, I’ll start reading my Bible. Tomorrow, I’ll start resisting temptation. I’ll really start to follow him…tomorrow. I’m convinced that the majority of nonbelievers are not atheists, they’re apathists. They’re apathetic. They think that salvation can be put off until tomorrow. But tomorrow is never guaranteed. There is only today.
On the hand, many within the church have the opposite problem. They aren’t putting salvation off until tomorrow; they believe that it’s already been taken care of in the past. There’s no need to consider their salvation! They’ve been going to church for as long as they can remember. And this, in sum, was much of first century Judaism.
First century Jews did not look upon their ancestors with kindness. Oh, they loved their ancestry but they had no love for their ancestors. Their expulsion from the land, the loss of the land of Promise proved that their ancestors were a sinful people. When the people returned to the land, they had a promise that they would not be like their ancestors.
Licentiousness gave way to legalism. The pendulum shifted to a brand new extreme but right back into the old, old errors. When the author of Hebrews calls out his readers as just like their fathers in the wilderness, it would have been horribly offensive. But it’s true. They’ve circled right back around to the same error.
While their forefathers put off salvation until the future, they have falsely believed that they obtained it in the past. The author of Hebrews warns them: your ethnic background doesn’t save you, your cultural background doesn’t save you, your religious background doesn’t save you, your profession of belief as a child doesn’t save you. It is only a steadfast continuation of belief and action that saves. Beware that you do not miss out on it.
Jesus, fill our world with a holy zeal and passion. Make ripe the harvest and send out your workers to bring it in—building your community and your kingdom. Let us grab hold of this salvation today, not waiting until tomorrow to preach it or teach it or believe it. We declare our promise to live in the ever-present reality of our salvation.
The book of Hebrews deals often with the issue of eternal security. Do you believe that a genuine Christian can fall away from salvation?
Today’s header image is from the Basilica of San Vitale in Ravenna, Italy. The church was begun by Bishop Ecclesius in 526, when Ravenna was under the rule of the Ostrogoths and completed by the 27th Bishop of Ravenna, Maximian, in 547.
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