Sermon for Sunday August 25th, 2019, the Tenth Sunday after Trinity

 

The Lessons: Psalm 71:1-5; Jeremiah 1:4-10; Hebrews 12:18-29; Luke 13:10-17

The Text: Hebrews 12:25-29

The Topic: A Warning to listen to God and not reject Him

INTRODUCTION

An extreme sports fanatic scaled the 120-foot Christ the Redeemer statue on Brazil’s Corcovado Mountain and jumped from its outstretched arms.

For the first ever such leap, Felix Baumgartner, thirty, an Austrian, smuggled his parachute on board the little train that takes dozens of tourists up the two-thousand-foot mountain to visit the statue. He scaled the gray stone figure, climbed onto one of its fingers, and jumped. Baumgartner’s parachute worked, and he was not injured.

How many people approach life like this daredevil? Rather than turning to the one who invites all who are weary to come to him and find rest, many prefer to jump from the safety of his hands. Unlike this thrill seeker, theirs will be a far different end, for there are no spiritual parachutes for those who spurn Christ.

– Alan Wilson, “Spurning Christ,”

Preaching Today.com [1]

THE WARNING NOT TO REFUSE GOD WHO SPEAKS

Yet it is not to those who are not Christians that the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews issues the warning, “See that ye refuse not him that speaketh” (Heb.12:25a), but to Christians. Why is it that Christians then and now need to hear this warning? Surely it should be evident from the lives that they are leading that they are both hearing and obeying God? Just because people are Christians and church members does not itself guarantee that they will remain faithful to their call to obey God and love him.

In the sixth chapter of the same Epistle, the writer shows the same concern for Christians who deliberately turn away from God and abandon their faith:

For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned.

 

– Hebrews 6:4-8. KJV

 

In our Epistle Lesson today, the writer is concerned that none of the Christians to whom he is writing ever reaches the point he has described in the portion of the sixth chapter of his Epistle quoted above. Therefore he urges them to see to it that they do not refuse God, who is speaking to them.

To understand this better, we must bear in mind the continual contrasts between the Old and New Covenants in this Epistle and the superiority of the New. In the twelfth chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews, the writer draws the contrast between Mt. Horeb, where the Israelites told Moses their fear of hearing God’s voice, when God gave them the Ten Commandments (Deuteronomy 5), and Mt. Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. The contrast between Mt. Horeb and Mt. Zion here emphasizes the vast difference between the giving of the Old Covenant in a way that showed God must be feared and obeyed, and the giving of the New Covenant, with all the hope that Christ has brought to all who believe in him. Instead of darkness, fire, thunder, there are the innumerable company of angels, the general assembly and Church of the first-born, God the Judge of all, the spirits of just men made perfect, Jesus the Mediator of the New Covenant, and his sprinkled Blood that redeems mankind (Heb. 12:22-24). This marvelously glorious sight should be more than enough to motivate the faithful to stay their course and remain faithful in their love for God and obedience to him.

But if this wonderful prospect of meeting with the Lord and the myriads of angels as well as the full assembly of the redeemed is not enough to motivate the believer, then he must be motivated by the fear of God and the retribution that results from rebellion against him and rejection of his commands:

For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven: Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven.

 

– Hebrews 12:25b-26, KJV

The voice of God will shake the heavens and the earth, according to Haggai 2:7 & 22.

CONCLUSION AND APPLICATION

Since God will do this, and the future of everything except his kingdom is uncertain, we believers must place all our hope in God, and since we have an unshakeable kingdom, let us have the grace to serve God in a way that pleases him, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire (Heb. 12:29; Deut. 4:24). Therefore, let us pay close attention to the Lord’s commands in his word, and live a life of obedience, with reverence for God and awe at his presence in our lives to save us, guide us, and sanctify us.

 

 



[1] p. 433, Craig Brian Larson & Phyllis Ten Elshof (General Editors): 1001 Illustrations that Connect. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, Christianity Today International, 2008.

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