A Better Faith

A Better Faith ………… Hebrews Study Lesson 9

The keyword in the epistle to the Hebrews is the word faith. What is your definition of faith? Even within the professing Christian community, even members of a local church do not agree on a common definition of “faith”. The epistle to the Hebrews declares that a person must have a “true enduring faith” at death to enter God’s rest. So, I have called this lesson “A Better Faith” which endures to the end. Faith becomes a possession and not only a profession!

Heb 3:1 Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus;

The writer of the epistle to the Hebrews is speaking to us who call ourselves Christian, professors of Christ, members of God’s church, the Holy brethren, and partakers of the heavenly calling (those called)! Hebrews 3:1 declares that “Partakers” that consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession of Christ Jesus; have some level of faith. Yet, five verses later Hebrews calls into question, “Do all those referred to in Heb 3:1 hold fast and are “true partakers” in the end, or do some lose their confidence and hope? IF is a conditional requirement. Hebrews 3:6 below says If we hold fast our faith, the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm, then we are “true partakers” of faith in Christ.

Heb 3:6 – But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.

This is addressed to those who “profess faith” in Christ Heb 3:1, compared to a faith that endures to the end, one which “possesses faith” which I am calling “A Better Faith”

In other words, the ending faith is the “Possessed Faith”. The “Faith” that holds fast the confidence and rejoices to the end is pictured as “A Better Faith” than the faith expressed by Heb 3:1 (professed faith) which has yet to meet the condition of Heb 3:6, IF we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing firm unto the end. This though allows for “whose house we are” to be a statement or a question.

“Possessed Faith” of Christ makes “whose house we are” a statement and “Professed Faith” keeps the phrase “whose house we are” as a question.”

Later in Heb 10:35-36 warns about throwing away (their faith) confidence in Christ.

Heb 10:35-36 So don’t throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. [36] For you need endurance, so that after you have done God’s will, you may receive what was promised.

Paul addresses this concern in Col 3:21-24 with a big IF statement: (if you continue in the faith)

Col 1:21-24 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled [22] In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: [23] If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;

In the first four chapters of Hebrews, we have discussed two of the five warnings in the Book of Hebrews about the need for the “better Faith” that endures (possessed) to the end!

1. Hebrews 2:1 We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away (from faith).

Chapter three of Hebrews initiates the warning of failure to “hold fast” our confidence and hope (faith) by showing us the failure of the Nation of Israel in the wilderness.

2. Heb 3:7-9 Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, Today if ye will hear his voice,[8] Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness:[9] When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years.

Hebrews 4:11 “Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.”

James 1:12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

Jesus’ parable of “the Sower” in Mat 13:18-23 which some call the parable of “Four Soils”, is hard, rocky, thorny, and good. The seed that is sown is “the gospel” of Christ (v19) and the “hard soil” where Satan steals it before any faith sprouts, the rocky (v20-21) and thorny (v22) soil sprouts and endured for a while. Neither endured the end. However, the “good soil” v23 endured to the end, and produced abundant fruit.

The account same parable in Luke speaks of the good soil as a heart that “keeps it”, possesses it, not just profess it!

Luke 8:15 But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.

The above is the King James version. Other verses use the following phrase instead of “keep it”; cling to it, retain it, hold fast, enduring, hold it firmly, hold it fast, hold it tightly. All these phrases imply much more than the word “profess”!

The writer of Hebrews raises the same concerns as both the author of PS 95 and a number of the New Testament writers including Paul when it speaks to the requirement of “holding fast” to the end and enduring faith. I suggest that you might study the concept of “The New Perspective of Paul” which addresses this issue.

Both PS 95:7-11 and Hebrews 3:7-11 uses the same Old Testament example to show the danger of God’s people not holding fast their confidence in God until the end. Paul refers to the same “provocation” in 1 Cor 10:1-12.

Both Old and New Testaments reference God’s people as those “who God Calls His, they call God theirs, and God dwells with them. In other words, God determines who are His people.

Israel as People of God: Lev 26:12 And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people.

Church as People of God: 2Co 6:16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

Remnant as People of God: Rev 21:3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.

Jhn 6:56 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.
Rom 8:9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man has not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

God in Revelation chapter 14 draws a clearer definition of this remnant, the “true believers” in Christ:

Rev 14:12 – Here is the patience (endurance) of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.
Rev 14:13 – And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.

These are the ones who will enter God’s permanent rest at the judgment.

However, it appears there is a “moment by moment” spiritual rest for those who are “holding fast” today!

Heb 4:1-3 God’s promise of entering his rest still stands, so we ought to tremble with fear that some of you might fail to experience it. [2] For this good news—that God has prepared this rest—has been announced to us just as it was to them. But it did them no good because they didn’t share the faith of those who listened to God. For only we who believe can enter his rest. As for the others, God said,“ In my anger I took an oath:‘ They will never enter my place of rest,’” even though this rest has been ready since he made the world.

Heb 4:1-3 is addressing the nation of Israel’s failure in the wilderness. We need to remember this is the group that Paul is addressing in 1 Cor 10:1-12

The example of Israel’s Wilderness experience during their exodus from Egypt is quoted by a number of New Testament writers including Paul in 1 Cor 10:1-12 where Paul says this account was mentioned as an example for us. This example points out many tests of faith ending with Israel’s failure of faith but shows there were two that had “the better faith” by listening/obeying God, Joshua and Caleb. All the other Israelites over the age of 20 did not enter God’s Rest, the promised land.

Hebrews 4:3 says, “they didn’t share the faith of those who listened to God”. It appears that faith (listening to God) has an active element of obedience. Hebrews addresses this requirement many times, two below:

They had the initial faith. They had kept the “Passover”, left Egypt, ate the manna, and drank the water from the Rock, which was Christ. But they let their faith in God slip!

Heb 2:1 Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.

Heb 3:12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.

Heb 2:1 and 3:12 above use the word heed which means more than hear and say (profess) to understand, but to follow. obey and/or keep God’s Commands.

For me, some of the most frightening words in the Bible are Jesus’ words of “I never knew you” in Matthew 7:21-23:

Jesus addresses this issue:Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’”

Their faith of those who practice lawlessness instead faithfulness did not endure and will not enter!

Heb 4:11 Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.

Example of Paul:

Assurance (rest) of Paul: 2Ti 4:7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:

1Co 9:27 But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.

Test Self: 2Co 13:5 Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified.

Those who possess Christ will enter His Rest and who remain faithful to the end!

Daily work of Priest:

The Old Testament priests were those who drew near and were those who had to be washed in order to carry out their priestly duties. This terminology is now applied to all who are in Christ because all who are in Christ are priests.

Heb 10:22-23 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. [23] Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.

Washing: Eph 5:25-26 For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her [26] to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word.[fn]

Priests: 1Pe 2:9 But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests,[fn] a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.

Rev 1:6 He has made us a Kingdom of priests for God his Father. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service. And be not fashioned according to this world: but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God (Rom 12:1-2).

Prove (observe to do) not approve just verbally.

Prove is to demonstrate the truth or existence of (something) by evidence or argument.

Psa 95:1-7 Come, let us sing to the LORD! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.[2] Let us come to him with thanksgiving. Let us sing psalms of praise to him.[3] For the LORD is a great God, a great King above all gods. [4[ He holds in his hands the depths of the earth and the mightiest mountains. [5] The sea belongs to him, for he made it. His hands formed the dry land, too.[6] Come, let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the LORD our maker,[7] for he is our God. We are the people he watches over, the flock under his care. If only you would listen to his voice today!

We can enter His rest (presence) TODAY – IF?

A Conscious Act: Luk 9:23 Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me.

Luke 9:23 is also a good description of repentance.

Everyone is calledJohn 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Just as the writer of Hebrews, Psalm 95, and Paul uses the “provocation” (rebellion) of Israel in the wilderness as an example (warning) of what not to do so does the Apostle John use an experience in the wilderness as an example.

John 3:14-15 Jhn 3:14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: [15] That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

John 3:16 above is the heart of this example!

John 3:17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

Every one of us has been bitten by the serpent Satan and is/were dying. We must look to the cross of Christ to be saved from eternal death.

John 3:18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

We must “hold fast” this confidence in Christ by our daily commitment.

Heb 3:6 But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.

Heb 3:14 For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;

Heb 10:23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)

Mat 24:13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

Heb 4:1 Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.

Phl 2:12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

Obedience is required as evidence of “true faith” and is tested!

What does God require?

Ecc 12:13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.[14] For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

Hebrews chapter 11 is called the “Hall of Faith”, Biblical heroes of the faith! And in every case, it says the equivalent of they “obeyed”. Obedience is an implied part or condition of faith!

Caution: The Bible speaks many times about falling short, turning back, or refusing to go forward, and almost every time you hear one of these verses referred to the speaker or author includes a disclaimer that if you have made a “profession of faith” that warning does not apply. They never speak about the requirement to remain faithful. Yet definitions of:

faith – complete trust or confidence in someone or something – trust · belief · confidence · conviction
faithful – remaining loyal and steadfast
faithfulness – the quality of being faithful; fidelity:

salvation – requires faithfulness

We might pay close attention to the person called the “father of faith” Abraham, who obeyed!

1. Heb 11:8 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.

Would Abraham’s life have been the same if he had refused?

2. Heb 11:17 It was by faith that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice when God was testing him. Abraham, who had received God’s promises, was ready to sacrifice his only son, Isaac,

God directed James to write the following:

Jas 2:21 -22 Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? [22] You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete.

Abraham had to obey both God’s call mentioned in Heb 11:8 and God’s command to go and offer Isaac as an offering Heb 11:17 above.

3. Heb 11:6 And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

Many Theologians and preachers go to great lengths to say that Abraham’s call was unconditional. IF those theologians’ statements are TRUE, THEN the above scriptures must not be taken as truth!

When we started the Hebrews study, we address the issue of “Who is the Author”. As we discussed then Paul was considered the author by the early church and rebuked by John Calvin and Martin Luther using both the structure and content saying it was different from Paul’s epistles. However, in the past few years, a number of theologians have developed an interpretation concept called the “New Perspective of Paul” that says Paul’s epistles do agree with the Hebrews doctrine and so does the overall structure of the book.

However, this “New Perspective of Paul” is not new at all, it is the interpretation of concepts used from the 1st century until the 15th, 1500+ years. This concept shows how Paul’s statement in many of his epistles about a true Christian’s faith contains statements such as “hold fast”, “endure”, “workout”, etc, all in agreement with Hebrews.

Hebrews 4:1-11 points out that “faith” has a timing element and also a number of definitions. One of the definitions is “the faith of those who listened to God!” Hebrews chapter 3 and Psalm 95 have shown us that the wilderness was a time of “testing” of Israel’s “Faith” in God.

The Revelation by the Prophets (Old Testament) tells us that they (Israel) had cried out to God for deliverance from the bondage in Egypt and God heard them and sent a deliver, Moses to lead them out of bondage. God then told them that they must perform the “Passover” and place the blood on their doorpost. They believed in God’s promise and demonstrated their faith by placing blood on the doorpost. Death passed over the homes where the blood was placed.

This “Passover” event was a picture of Jesus’s blood and provides for a spiritual “Passover” for those who have faith in Christ. This was the initial test and only those families who placed the blood on their doorpost were the firstborn spared.

1Co 5:7 Get rid of the old “yeast” by removing this wicked person from among you. Then you will be like a fresh batch of dough made without yeast, which is what you really are. Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed for us.[fn]

The Revelation through The Son tells us that God has provided our “Passover” and we must cry out to God and accept by “faith” our deliverance from sin and Satan.

The Revelation from the Prophets also tells us that after the “Passover” Isreal received the “fire and cloud”. the “mana”, the “water from the rock”, and the Law (Covenants) which not only contain God’s commands but a “worship” system, temple, priests, and sacrifices).

Revelation through the Son shows us that He is the fulfillment of elements.

Jesus is the Passover, the “mana” and the “water from the rock” and we will see as we study the remainder of the book of Hebrews that Jesus is the temple, the High priest, the sacrifices, and the covenant itself. Also, we should discover that the “fire and cloud” is the work of the Holy Spirit.

And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of a spiritual rock that followed them: and the rock was Christ (1 Corinthians 10:4).

Warning: 1Co 10:5 But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.

Water: Rev 21:6 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.

Jhn 4:10 Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.

Bread: Moses: Jhn 6:31 Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat.
Jhn 6:32 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.

Christ: Jhn 6:51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

God’s “Gospel” of “deliverance” and “promised rest” was given both by the prophets (OT) and Christ (NT), both revelations describe it as two events not one!

The start of a race and the finish of a race or two critical points. In recent years some protestant theologians have decided that the “perspective of Paul’s epistles” used prior to the Reformation is the correct method. The confusing thing about “New Perspective of Paul” (NPP) is not what it declares but the name that was given it. NPP is really the interpretation that was used for 1500 years prior to the Reformation, but for more than 500 years a different method has been used and that method is called the Old Perspective of Paul, confusion.

Many of Paul’s statements imply a starting point equivalent to the “Passover” event and to the entry into the “Promised Land” as the end event, much like a race or a fight.

2 Tim 4:7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

Heb 4:9-11 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. [10] For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.[11] Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.

2Ti 4:8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

1Co 9:27But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

Castaway – fall short – do not endure – turn back, etc

Phl 2:12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

God did not rest until he finished – you do not rest in the middle of a race etc

People of God:

Lev 26:12 I will walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people.

Gen 3:8 When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man[fn] and his wife heard the LORD God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the LORD God among the trees.

2Co 6:16 And what union can there be between God’s temple and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God said: “I will live in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people.[fn]

Gen 17:7 “I will confirm my covenant with you and your descendants[fn] after you, from generation to generation. This is the everlasting covenant: I will always be your God and the God of your descendants after you.

Jer 7:23 This is what I told them: ‘Obey me, and I will be your God, and you will be my people. Do everything as I say, and all will be well!’

Jer 11:4 For I said to your ancestors when I brought them out of the iron-smelting furnace of Egypt, “If you obey me and do whatever I command you, then you will be my people, and I will be your God.”

Jer 31:33 “But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day,” says the LORD. “I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.

Eze 11:20 so they will obey my decrees and regulations. Then they will truly be my people, and I will be their God

Rev 21:7 All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children.

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