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Making Your Hope Sure

Growing in Grace / Doug Agnew
The Truth Network Radio
November 19, 2023 6:00 pm

Making Your Hope Sure

Growing in Grace / Doug Agnew

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November 19, 2023 6:00 pm

Join us as we worship our Triune God- For more information about Grace Church, please visit www.graceharrisburg.org.

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Last week I told you that Hebrews chapter 6 verses 4 through 8 may be the most frightening passage in the entire Word of God. He warns those who have once been enlightened, who have felt and experienced the conviction of the Holy Spirit, who know what the Word of God says, who understand about the coming judgment, that if they walk away, they will never again be renewed unto repentance. They have committed blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. They have so rejected Jesus Christ that their hearts have become like steel, just inflexible, uncaring, and unresponsive. Folks, they will go to their graves, thumping their nose in God's face. They will go to hell, and when they do go to hell, they will experience greater judgment than most, because Jesus said, if you knew the Master's will and do not do it, that those will be beaten with many stripes. The reason this passage is so frightening is because for the apostates, there is no hope.

And what's even worse is that they just don't care. Now, as I shared last week, these people were never true Christians. They were church attenders who heard the truth, who understood the truth, and then totally rejected Christ. We see some of these in John chapter 6 and verses 64 through 66.

Listen to what it says. But there are some of you who do not believe, for Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe and who would betray him. And he said, Therefore, I have said to you that no one can come to me unless it has been granted to him by my Father. From that time, many of the disciples went back and walked with him no more. Folks, these were not true Christians who lost their salvation. These were hypocrites who had been deceived by indwelling sin, and they had never been truly saved to begin with. The writer of Hebrews refers to these people with pronouns that we saw last week.

They, those, them. But as we get into the passage today, those pronouns change to we, us, our. He's talking to us as Christians, and he's giving us a warning here that we are to make sure your hope, to solidify your standing with God, to have full assurance so that when you die, heaven is certain and hell is not a possibility. Now, before I go on, I want to share something with you I think is important because a lot of people get confused with this word hope. The word hope has caused great confusion in a lot of hearts because the English word for hope is kind of wishy-washy. It means an iffy expectation. Like, I hope it doesn't rain, but it might.

Or I hope I pass this test, but I might not. And so there's that iffy thing about the English word for hope, but the Greek word for hope that is used here, nothing iffy about it. There is no ambiguity. It means faithful confidence. It means full confidence.

No question, no doubt, period. I got four points that I want to share with you today, and point one is confident of better things. Look at verse nine. But, beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you. Yes, things that accompany salvation, though we speak in this manner. All right, notice who the writer of Hebrews is addressing. He's saying, you, beloved. He said, I'm talking to you, beloved, about things that accompany salvation. You know, a pastor has the responsibility of knowing his flock, and as I look at this writer of Hebrews, let me tell you, he knows his flock. He says that they're dull of hearing, that they are not where they need to be spiritually, that they are not maturing like they ought to, that they still have to be fed spiritual drink, spiritual milk instead of spiritual meat, that they are not maturing like they ought to. He said, by this time, you ought to be teachers.

You ought to be teaching others. You ought to have great discernment. But they do not have great discernment.

They can't tell the difference between good and evil, between truth and error. Folks, this reminds me of the woke church in America today. As woke pastors get up in the pulpit and they look out over their congregation and they tell them, we need to embrace homosexuality. We need to embrace transgenderism. And all you people, don't worry about these old, old antiquated warnings that we have in scripture telling us that these things, homosexuality and transgenderism, that these things are not good. And they warn us that they're abominations before God. He's saying, don't believe that.

People listen to me carefully. The scripture is God's truth. It does not get old. It never changes. And it is just as relevant today as it was when it came off the pins of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Paul, James, John, whoever wrote the scripture.

It was just as relevant today as it was when it came off their pins. Isaiah said this, woe to those who call good evil and evil good, who put light for darkness and darkness for light, who put sweet for bitter and bitter for sweet. Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and prudent in their own sight. Kevin DeYoung wrote the forward to Rosaria Butterfield's new book. The book is called Five Lies of Our Anti-Christian Age. And I would encourage you to read that book.

It is absolutely amazing. But listen carefully to what what Kevin DeYoung said. There is a war raging between good and evil in our world. And though we might prefer the conflict to be fought somewhere else, we don't get to pick the times in which we live. The front lines today are battles over sex, gender and identity. We must be ready for a fight in precisely these places.

Don't underestimate the power of your opponent. The devil wants us to join him in his rebellion against God. He wants to make us cowards and traitors. He wants us to believe the myth of our autonomy. He wants us to raise the white flag and side with the enemy, the enemy without or the enemy within.

It doesn't matter to him. The devil hates every spiritual blessing in Christ. He hates Christ power. He hates Christ forgiving grace. He hates Christ transforming grace. He hates the gospel and the church. He hates happy marriages and well ordered families. He hates personal holiness and obedience.

The devil hates Christians who stand their ground. The writer of Hebrews desires to encourage his church. And he says, guys, I see things in you that accompany salvation. What does he see? He sees some fruit.

Jesus said that we would know those that are his, those that are truly Christians by what? By their fruit. Do you have fruit?

Do people see your fruit? Is it evident? Is it evident to your own heart?

All right, point two. God is not unjust. Look with me at verse 10. For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints as you still do. Is your spiritual soul producing good fruit? Are you turning the other cheek?

Are you going the second mile? Or are you rejoicing when you're persecuted for Christ's sake? Second Timothy 3 12 says all who live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer for persecution. In Galatians chapter 5 verse 22. The Apostle Paul gives us a list of what the fruit of the Spirit is and this is what he says.

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. So do you find hatred giving way to love and peace? Do you find envy being conquered by joy? Do you find insatiable lust being conquered by self-control? For example, maybe before you came to know Christ you had a habit in your life of going to the internet looking at pornography on the internet. Well, let me ask you something.

Has that changed? Has the Lord done such a work in your heart that you've got victory over that now? Has the Lord done a work of self-control in your life that is so great that you see that being taken care of in a very powerful way? Look at the good fruit that he mentions here in verse 10. He speaks of ministering to the saints.

I see this fruit in Grace Church probably more than any church that I've ever been associated with in my life. If people in our church get sick, needs are met. They're going to show up at your front door with some food, some meals to take care of you. If we have a death in our church, people are concerned about that. They want to help those people through their grief. They go over and they hug their necks, they bring food and they do everything they can to help those people go through a time of grief and a time of sorrows. And you ladies here, listen to this.

I think this is so important. You're cooking for people. You're serving people.

You're buying things for people who are hurting and who are in deep need. And what does the Lord say about that? He says, God is not unjust to forget your work and your labor of love, what you have shown toward his name.

And what does that mean? It means that God has not forgotten what you have done. It means that if you never get a thank you from this church, if no one ever pats you on the back, if no one ever says, attaboy, then it really doesn't matter because God sees it and God honors it.

And on the final day of judgment, God will reward you for it. We have men in our church who fix electrical problems for people in the church, who fix fences when they get broken down, who if you're sick, they'll go over and cut your grass. We have men in this church who will go to a widow who's hurting and help them out financially if they need it, or go to their home and fix a broken sink or a faulty toilet.

And they'll do it because they know that that widow is on a fixed income and they need the help. I want you to remember this, God is not going to forget your work and your labor of love. It doesn't matter if no one else notices or no one else ever sees it. You're going to be rewarded by this great God for how you loved people.

Listen to what Richard Phillips said. How do you show your love to God? You show it by coming to church to worship him. You show it by making time in your day to read scripture and pray and by taking a stand for him in the circumstances of your life. But most tangibly, Christians show their love for God by their loving ministry to other Christians. Apostle John put it this way.

We love because he first loved us. If anyone says I love God and hates his brother, he's a liar. For he does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him, whoever loves God must also love his brother. This is why the writer of Hebrews is excited to see that his people are busy helping one another. The Greek word here is Diakoneo, from which we derive the word deacon.

Diakoneo ministries are those that address the physical or temporal needs of the congregation and community, such as housing, financial assistance and visitation of the sick. This is an important part of life in the church and a vital way in which we show our love to Christ. Folks, when God saves us, he removes our sin from us as far as the East is from the West. The scripture says he remembers our sin no more. The scriptures teach us that his blood, the blood of Jesus, that shed blood, washes away our sin completely and totally.

And then he imputes to us the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Folks, that is so important for us to understand that when we stand before Jesus in that final day, when we stand before Jesus, he will not bring up an argument that we had with our wife. He will not bring up a lie that I said to my friend. He will not bring up a nasty word that I spoke out of my mouth.

Why? Because when he looks at me in that last day, he won't see Doug Agnew. He will see the righteousness of Jesus Christ.

And brothers and sisters, that ought to make a Presbyterian shout. But the goodness of God does not stop with his forgetting of our sins. But it goes on that he will remember our work and our labor of love for his sake. Folks, if you ever doubt the goodness of God, I want you to think about that. God forgets your sin and he remembers your labor for him.

A.W. Pink said this. It may look now as though God places little value on sincere obedience to him, that in this world, the man who lives for self gains more than he who lives for Christ. Yet in the soon coming day, it shall appear far otherwise. Amen. Point three is spiritual diligence. Look with me at verse 11.

And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end. Here's a good question. Do you have to have full assurance of your salvation to go to heaven?

And the answer to that is no. There are Christians who have very, very tender consciences. And although there's been genuine repentance in their life and they have turned from their sin and they've turned to Christ, and although they believe with all their heart that Jesus died on the cross to pay their sin debt, and they are trusting in that, and that Jesus rose from the dead to break the power of death, they still worry. Why do they worry?

Here's the answer. Their sin nature has not yet been totally eradicated. And it will not be totally eradicated until they go to be with the Lord. So they are going about their life one day and all of a sudden this terrible lustful thought comes in their mind. And they don't act on it, but it's there in their mind and they think, my goodness, I'm a Christian. And if I'm a Christian, I should not have had a thought like that. Or they're at work and somebody at work accuses them of something that they absolutely did not do.

And they get mad and that anger wells up and they shout a retort to that particular person and they just give him down the country. And they think, wow, a true Christian should not have done that. A true Christian should not have lost his temper like that.

A true Christian shouldn't have said what I did. So, yes, our salvation is not dependent on our assurance of our salvation. Let me tell you something, brothers and sisters, if you're not sure of your salvation, you need to do everything you can to do what the scripture is telling us to do here. And that is to make your hope sure. In verse 11, to be diligent to attain the full hope of our salvation. The Greek word for diligent there is phude. It means eagerness in haste. The writer of Hebrews is saying this, make your hope sure.

Why should you do that? So you will have confidence when persecution comes so that you won't tremble when you are approaching death. So that you can say this, for me to live is Christ, but to die is gain. For me to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. O death, where is thy sting?

O grave, where is thy victory? For the sting of sin is death, the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be unto God who gives us the victory through Jesus Christ our Lord. What shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation or distress or persecution or nakedness or famine or peril or sword?

No, for in all things we are more than conquerors through Christ who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life nor angels nor powers nor principalities nor things present nor things to come nor height nor death nor any other creature shall separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Folks, the writer of Hebrews knows that persecution of the church is going to get hot, it's going to get heavy, and it's coming. And what do these Christians need?

They need full assurance of their hope to the end. Let me share with you some things that some true Christians said right as they were getting ready to die. I think of this Deacon Stephen who was down in a pit and the religious leaders were throwing rocks on him and were stoning him to death. As those rocks were pummeling his body, he looked up into heaven and he says, Father, lay not this sin to their charge. I think of John Knox in Scotland. He's on his deathbed, couldn't get out of bed, and he looks up into the eyes of those that were around him and he says, live in Christ, die in Christ, and the flesh need not fear death.

I think of D.L. Moody who was up in the pulpit preaching this particular Sunday. He got right in the middle of his sermon, he felt his heart giving out. He looked down in the front row and R.A. Torrey, the great pastor, was there. He said, Torrey, you're going to have to come up here and preach. He said, I think I'm dying.

He said, I'm going to need some people to help me. Some men came up, they picked him up, and they carried him to a room right behind where the pulpit is. R.A. Torrey finished that sermon. How he did that, I don't know, but he finished that sermon.

And D.L. Moody was in the back, his life was just leaving him, and this is what he said. The world is receding. Heaven is opening. If this is death, then death is sweet. Polycarp was taken to the middle of the Roman Colosseum, had the whole Colosseum filled with people ready to see Polycarp being burned at the stake. They had him already tied up to that stake, and he looked at his persecutors.

Let me read you what he said. You threaten me with fire that burns for an hour at most. You must not know of the fire of coming judgment and of eternal punishment reserved for the ungodly.

Why are you wasting time? Kill me in whatever way you see fit. I am the Lord's. In the light of certain persecution that's coming on the church in America today, I think we need verse 11 just as much as the Jewish Christians did in the early church.

The writer of Hebrews said, I desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope to the end. You know what he's saying? He's saying, you that say your questions, quit playing games. This is not a game we're going through here. Get your head out of the sand and put your full trust in Christ.

Why? So that you will know that you know that you know that you know that you know that you are eternally safe. Point four, fighting laziness. Look at verse 12. That you do not come sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. Verse 12, he says, be not slothful, but be followers of them. If I were to ask you very quickly to write me down a list of sins, what would you write down?

Probably something like this. Murder, adultery, theft, blasphemy, drunkenness, drug abuse, child abuse. We could go on and on. But I doubt very seriously that word slothfulness would be on that list. We don't think about slothfulness as much as being a sin, but God hates laziness.

Absolutely hates laziness. If you go to the book of Proverbs, King Solomon told us to go to the ant and look how they do it. And that's how God's people ought to be living like the ant, busy. And then when we go to work, we are to work at our job as unto the Lord. What does that mean? That means you're to work for your boss as if your boss were Jesus himself.

Let me ask you something. If every Christian was doing that today, what would that do to the witness of the church? Man, would that not just blossom out the gospel everywhere we went? So we're not told or we are told that we're not to be lazy or slothful, but we are to imitate those who by faith and patience inherit the promises. It sounds like what Paul was saying to the Corinthian church in 1 Corinthians chapter 11, verse 1, where Paul said, imitate me as I imitate Christ. Now, in a few months, we're going to get to Hebrews 11. That's my favorite chapter in Hebrews.

I call it the Old Testament Hall of Faith. And I like verse 6. Verse 6 says, But without faith, it's impossible to please God, for he who comes to God must believe that he is and that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him. Then he starts with Abel, the son of Adam. He goes through the Old Testament and just pointing us to all of our Old Testament heroes.

And what do we see in chapter 11? We see that the heroes of our faith were not perfect men. They were not men who never stumbled, who never made mistakes. They were not men who never wavered, who never faltered, who never misunderstood. These were imperfect men who often stumbled, who often wavered, who often misunderstood. But what did they do? They persevered in their faith.

They would not quit. And they they lived in such obedience that their lives glorified God. God gave us Hebrews chapter 11 to say this to us. You don't have to be a superstar Christian to glorify God.

You don't have to do that. But you must be a faithful Christian. Noah got drunk. Abraham told lies. Moses got so angry that he killed a man. David committed adultery. They were not perfect men, but they were men who repented, trusted the Lord with all their heart, and brought glory to him, glory to him through their obedience.

That's who we're told to imitate. We see first that they were sinners. But the next thing we see is that they overcame by faith.

Man, that helps me. Another verse of scripture that's always been helpful to me is 1 Corinthians chapter 10, verse 13. That says, There has no temptation taken you, but such is as common to man. But God is faithful. Not let not let you be will not permit you to be tempted above that which you're able, but will with the temptation provide the way of escape that you may be able to bear it. That tells me that I'm not in this fight by myself, that I'm not in this fight alone, that the Lord is with me and that the Lord has taken others through the same temptation that I'm going through. And he's given them victory.

And if he's given them victory, he can give me victory as well. So I'm not imitating a sinless Paul. He's not sinless. Or a sinless David. He's not sinless. Or a sinless Moses. He's not sinless. I'm imitating sinful, imperfect men who by faith and obedience glorify the Lord.

I want to close with a personal illustration. About 35 years ago, I had a pastor friend's name was Mike, and there was a church that called him up and said, Mike, we would like for you to come and be our pastor. The church, the area of town in which that church was, was a declining area. It was poverty everywhere. And the houses, about everyone in that whole community needed painting.

And there were potholes in all the streets. And there was a school right in the middle of that community had to have a big fence around it to keep all the homeless out of it. And so my friend Mike called up his denominational leaders and said, I've been called to this church and I'm not sure what I should do.

What do you think I ought to do? And five men that he talked to said, we don't think it's a good idea. You don't really have any future over there. That church doesn't have much money. They're not going to be able to pay you much. And beside that, the educational level is very low there.

And we think you'd be better just waiting for something else. He decided to really pray about it. And he did what he called a prayer walk. He got out in the streets of that community and he went down one street, another, another to have been down every street. And as he was walking through the streets, he saw kids that were playing out in the front yard. There were black kids and white kids and brown kids and red kids and yellow kids.

All kinds of different races that were all over that community. He looked out and he saw fathers that were up on the front porch and said, so many of them were drinking beer, just getting drunk on their front porch. He said he looked over at a store.

There was several teenagers that were hanging around the store smoking pot. He's been praying the whole time he'd been walking. He said that all of a sudden, he said God spoke to his heart. He said it wasn't an audible voice.

It was louder than that. And he said the Lord just spoke to his heart and said, Mike, these people need Jesus too. He said he cried all the way back to the car, got in the car and went back home, see his wife and told his wife what had happened, what he had seen. He said, I think God's calling us to this church. He called the church back.

He said, I would love to be your pastor. He went to that church. He preached Jesus and him crucified. He visited in the neighborhood.

He walked from house to house. And when he would meet those that did not know Christ, he shared the gospel with them. He went to shut ends and ministered to them. And he preached his heart out. And that church began to grow and prosper. And that whole community was very powerfully impacted.

Why? Because he refused to be slothful and he trusted God instead of his religious leaders. And the Lord honored what he did. Folks, how important that is for us to understand if that's what God wants from us. He wants our heart. He wants our all. He wants our obedience. He wants our love. And when he has that, we have an assurance that all hell can't take away from us.

When he does that work in our life to give us that full assurance that it brings joy, that nothing else in this world can give to you. I like the way Peter said it. He said, do this.

Make your calling and election sure. People at Grace, let me ask you this. Are you sure you know Christ? If you were to die today, do you know that you'd spend eternity with him? Are you sure you know Jesus?

Let's pray. Heavenly Father, you never said that the Christian life would be easy. In fact, you call your people to crucify the flesh and die to self. Father, help us to understand that calling and help us to realize that this life is fragile and our time is short. May we get serious about our priorities and may exalting Christ be on the top of our list. For it's in Jesus' precious and holy name that we pray. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-19 12:12:43 / 2023-11-19 12:23:53 / 11

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