The Anchor You Need

Okay, friends…quick review (because I know you’ve slept since my last post).

1 Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death and of faith in God,instruction about cleansing rites, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do so.

-          We started the month of September (hello, fall!) on Hebrews 6 and decided to take it slow through this chapter because it was meaty, and we want to press on to maturity. We excavated six principles—six building blocks for the Christian faith—from these verses to help us be stronger. When there are cracks in our foundation, it can shift the entire structure.

-          As we asked the Lord to reveal to us areas we may need a deeper understanding, we were also reminded that we must teach these principles to others. I recently started a Sunday evening ladies’ Bible study. As a foundation, we’re working through 30 Days to Understanding the Bible by Max Anders. I’ve been learning a ton, and I’d encourage you to take 15 minutes a day and work through the chapters. Whether you’re a new believer or a vet, you’ll grow. (P.S. I am not affiliated with Max Anders or his book; I simply find it helpful and want to share what I learn with you.)

It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.

-          Do you remember the blog on these verses? Holy moly. These verses have been coined as some of the “most terrible passages in scripture.” I would agree. I had to kick over quite a few rocks to understand this section of Scripture. I used the Blue Letter Bible as a resource (they have a free app, too!) to study various scholars and commentators. I listened to Jon Courson and Dr. Vernon McGee and David Guzik. I prayed, I studied, and I still felt ill-equipped. Funny enough, after I wrote my study, I sent it to my dear friend, Angela—who’s taught me for years—and had her read it to make sure I wasn’t “off” from a Biblical standpoint. I learned through this experience that it’s okay to wrestle with Scripture. However, it’s dangerous to conclude the interpretation of Scripture without actively using the full counsel of God, in context, and testing it.

-          Just because we wrestle with Scripture doesn’t mean God is trying to be tricky; this is God teaching us to discover Him. To work out our salvation (not work for it), as it says in Philippians 2:12. When we don’t work out our salvation using His Truth as absolute, we will drift. We begin rationalizing instead of searching and discovering with the use of Scripture. I bring this topic up because there’s a word of caution coming. When I hear believers take a topic, like LGBTQ, and begin rationalizing it outside the parameters of Scripture it becomes so very dangerous. Friends, you will never be able to reconcile sin outside of the Word of God. There’s a great eBook called Good Naked from one of the best sex and marriage therapists I’ve ever met, Cindy Irwin. She’s studied the Biblical perspective of sex and marriage using the Word of God for decades (but don’t trust what I say—go search it out for yourself). She writes, “Gender, at its origin, at its Genesis, is an anointing. Male or Female is an empowerment that God has given. You will have that empowerment throughout eternity…God is a gender. The Father is….Male. He said so. The Son is…Male. The Spirit is…Male. Jesus told us is John 14-16. Gender is spiritual first.” So many people miss this (including myself until I learned this and studied it within the boundaries of Scripture). If you go back to the Garden, Adam and Eve were made, and their Spirit ruled over them until they sinned. Then, flesh took authority. Spirit and gender are connected. Which is why, when there is confusion from a gender perspective, it is not simply a flesh and mind—it is spiritual. Yet, we try to solve it medically, psychologically, etc. That’s why Christ had to come to take back what Satan took—He had to redeem mankind from the sin of the flesh and create a way in which a sinless spirit could rule (and, so begins the story of Christ).

-          So, what do we do with this? How do we manage Scripture that is difficult to wrestle with and we strain to understand? One word: love. I read 1 Corinthians 13 this week. It was so powerful. Love doesn’t excuse sin, but it does act in kindness, long-suffering, and humility. I recently had someone I know share with me that they will transition genders. I recognize this is a spiritual issue, and because we were all once dead in sin, I could relate—not with the issue itself—but to sin. Because I recognize their spiritual turmoil, this made my words back to this individual easy to find: “No matter where you’re at on your journey, know that we love you right where you are.” Did I say this because I agree with the choice or lifestyle? No. I said it because I choose to love those who I recognize are crying out for wholeness, and yet met with continual disappointment. People must know they are loved and safe before the healing journey can begin, and I plan to minister to them in any capacity I can and continue in prayer for them. My purpose in sharing this story isn’t to stir up a hot debate. There are plenty of opinions in books and on the internet right now. Instead, it’s to help you recognize that when you wrestle with God’s Word, it is important that you don’t come to your own, fleshly conclusions. You must, like the Bereans in Acts 17, be vetting the topic against Scripture in totality (and that takes work!). Most people don’t want to do the work themselves, they just want someone to give them the answer they want to hear. That’s why Paul warned us in 2 Timothy 4:3, “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” I love you all too much to tell you what you want to hear. We must press on to maturity, wrestle with Scripture, and grow.

Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are convinced of better things in your case—the things that have to do with salvation.10 God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.11 We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. 12 We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.

-          Now that we’ve recapped the last couple weeks, we’re moving on to “better things”—the things that have to do with salvation. Why does the writer say that “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown…”? That’s because, in our Christian walk, there will inevitably be a season that makes us wonder if God is paying attention. There will be a time when you wonder if anyone is watching the good you are producing in a wicked world. That’s when we should think about Luke 17:20, “So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, 'We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.'" Beloved, you have chosen the duty of serving Christ. He sees you. Let your reward be in heaven (Matthew 6:4), and not from man. Don’t become weary in doing good (Galatians 6:9).

13 When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, 14 saying, “I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.” 15 And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised. 16 People swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. 17 Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. 18 God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, 20 where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.

-          The writer of Hebrews takes us waaaaaaaaaay back to the beginning when God made a promise to Abraham in Genesis 12:4. God chose Abraham to be the father of a nation to represent God to the world. What’s fascinating is that Abram was 75 years old when he received this promise; his wife (Sarai), was barren, and by the world’s standards Abram was a cultural loser. Notice in verse 15 it says that after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised. If you’re not familiar of the story in Genesis, here’s a brief outline of what waiting patiently means:

o   After God delivers the promise, there was a famine and Abram and his family moved to Egypt (Genesis 12:10).

o   Abram and his nephew, Lot, separate due to their herders quarreling (Genesis 13:8).

o   Abram then rescued Lot from five kings with 318 trained men from his household (Genesis 14).

o   Abram questions God’s promise in Genesis 15, and in turn, the Lord makes covenant with Abram.

o   Sarai, Abram’s wife, decides it’s smart to let the Egyptian slave sleep with Abram to produce an heir (Genesis 16), who was named Ishmael.

o   When Abram was 99 years old (this was 24 years after the original promise), God changes Abram’s name to Abraham and God introduces circumcision. Abraham later laughs at God and the idea of a son (Genesis 17:17). God assures him, and his wife Sarah, that she will bear a son and be called Isaac.

o   Three travelers visit Abraham and Sarah. Sarah laughs when she overhears one of them say she will have a child this time next year. Did I mention she laughed? Oy.

o   Abraham pleads for Sodom; Sodom and Gomorrah are destroyed (and Abraham rescues Lot in the process).

o   Abraham lies to King Abimelek about Sarah being his sister instead of his wife.

o   “Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah what he had promised.” Genesis 21:1

 -          Twenty-five years later, God fulfilled His promise. There is no “prosperity gospel” story line in this because often, God has His own thoughts on time. I recounted all which happened to Abraham, so you can better understand Hebrews 6:17-19. Go back and read it again. God used Abraham’s 25-year period not just to teach him patience, but to prove His own unchanging nature of His promise. He did it to underscore the covenant His creates with each of us through the work of Jesus Christ. He did it to prove the impossible, so that we would know that God does not lie. He allowed a story to slowly unfold in the life of Abraham so that you, today, could take hold of the hope set before you about your life and be encouraged. Grab hold, friends.

-          Finally, verse 19 provides a visual. Imagine the recent Hurricane Florence or Typhon Mangkhut in your own area. Between the 90+ mph winds and the raging water, you are pulled away from your home. As you flip and turn in the vicious water, you are thrown against a deep anchor, with its top well-above the waterline. It’s a heavy, immovable force that is capable of grounding you despite the power of the storm. You are firm and secure as you shimmy up, wrapping your body around the anchor and clinging in desperation. That, my friends, is why we can trust in God’s character. He is your anchor in this life and your assurance for an eternal life in heaven. The anchor holds, and so will you—keep clinging. Amen.

P.S. Verse 20 talks about Melchizedek, and we learned that name a few chapters back. Next week, we get to meet this mystery guy!