Hope in the Midst of the Warnings in Hebrews

A believing heart turns toward God. As long as it is “today”, we can turn toward God, and we can have confidence that He will forgive.


“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off every encumbrance and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with endurance the race set out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Hebrews 12:1-2[1]


These two verses in Hebrews 12 were shared with me by a gentleman at the church I go to who sends out daily verses by text to a group of men. Sometimes things like this are particularly timely and poignant. These verses inspires my thoughts today.

I have been wrestling with my own sinfulness lately. I have been painfully aware of areas of sinful behavior in my life and sinful attitudes in my heart that I have yet to conquer. The threads of this sinfulness go back to childhood, and they are rooted deeply.

I find myself stumbling over the same things time and again. I sometimes feel like a bird caught in a snare that cannot escape. I am tempted to be completely disgusted with myself, indignant, and condemning. Then, I recall that God is faithful to forgive; and I must ask myself, “Who am I to condemn?” Unless, of course, I am not really “saved”.

I have variously felt convicted, forgiven, hopeful, condemned, hopeless, and depressed in cycles for a long time. I tire of continually going back to God, asking for forgiveness…. again! I fear that my lack of success in overcoming these things means that I do not have the power of the Holy Spirit in me; and maybe I have fooled myself into believing in Christ’s power in my life.

I am reminded today that the letter to the Hebrews carries in it some of the most hopeful and some of the most despairing verses that can be found in the New Testament, like my cycle of feelings. I am digging deeper today to explore them. In doing so, I am reminded that the trajectory of Hebrews is hope!

The following verses provide great hope to the weary Christ follower:


“[S]ince we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Hebrews 4:14-16


If we “hold firmly to the faith we profess” and “approach God’s throne of grace with confidence”, these verses promise mercy and grace to help us in our time of need. These words bring great comfort to a person like me.

Yet, thoughts arise in my mind that are concerning: What does it mean to “find grace to help us in our time of need”? How does this grace help us? Does this grace mean forgiveness in our time of need? If so, then I am thankful for that grace?

What is that grace in our time of need us the power to overcome the sin – to put a stop to it? What if the grace we receive is meant to empower us to stop, and I don’t stop? Does that mean I didn’t receive the grace that is offered? Am I doomed if I continue to fail?

A fear naturally arises that grace is not enough for me, that maybe it isn’t offered to me, or that I have spurned that grace by continuing to fail. If we go on sinning, we fear we will exhaust God’s well of mercy. The consequences of “falling away” loom ominously:


“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.”

Hebrews 6:4-6


This passage is particularly ominous in its finality and the impossibility of coming back from “falling away”. I have tasted of the goodness of the word of God, If I go on sinning is there no repentance for me?

Am I the only who thinks like this? Am I the only one who fears being on the wrong side of this grace that is offered, doomed to a life of sin and, eventually, death? Fortunately for us, we have hope!

Continue reading “Hope in the Midst of the Warnings in Hebrews”

The Upside of Deconstruction

Deconstruction might not be the evil that some Christians may believe it is


Like many people, I suppose, I have been thinking about the phenomenon known as “deconstruction” since it has become popular to tell deconstruction stories in recent years. A deconstruction story is an “anti-testimony”; it’s a testimony of a journey from belief in the God of the Bible to non-belief in the God of the Bible.

Last summer, a high profile Christian worship leader and the guy who wrote the book urging Christians not to date (that created a generation of non-dating Christians) “deconstructed”. They walked away from their faith and publicly announced it, blogged about it, were interviewed about it and became celebrities of the walk away from faith movement.

Other notables come to mind as well, but I am not going to name them. That isn’t the point. I only recount these stories to demonstrate that “it’s a thing”, as my kids say.

Old timey religious folks used to call it “backsliding”. By that, they meant turning back to a sinful lifestyle, lured away by the temptation of sin. I remember people calling it “falling away”. By that we meant, losing faith, not being able to hold on to it.

Deconstruction seems to be a much more noble and honorable thing to do than backsliding or falling away. (I say that not without my tongue in cheek.) Deconstruction suggests that you had a hand in it. You didn’t backslide against your better judgment or let faith slip through your fingers; you rolled up your sleeves and dismantled your faith, and you found that it didn’t fit back together again.

It’s scientific, right? So it must be a good thing.

Deconstruction is popular, I believe, because skepticism is gaining in popularity. Scientists, like Neil de Grasse Tyson and pseudo-scientists, like Bill Nye, “the Science Guy”, have ridden that wave of popularity scaling away religious (and philosophical) ideas and replacing them with science, because (they say) science has all the answers.

Deconstruction is science, right?

I don’t buy it for a second that science and religion are incompatible, and neither do many scientists. I participated in a Zoom conference just this morning with a biochemist who is a believer. On the other hand, deconstruction might not be the evil that some Christians may believe it is. In fact, I think, deconstruction can be a good thing.

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Repentance from Dead Works

For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, … and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance

depostphotos Image ID: 5379147 Copyright: Iurii

These are some of the most terrifying words in the New Testament:

For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.” (Hebrews 6:4-6)

For anyone but the hardest core Calvinist, these words are enough to make one shudder. No one wants to fall away. But we often do what we know we shouldn’t. The mind is willing, but the flesh is weak. Though we may be born again, the old man lurks incessantly beneath the service and around every corner. The struggle is real.

Most people, however, (me included) tend to read these words out of context. As an isolated statement, we might be strongly tempted to believe these words speak to sin, especially those nagging, habitual, ingrained sins that we have a hard time overcoming. We feel as if, one day, we will sin one too many times and will have fallen away – completely lost and irredeemable!

But the context speaks to something different than the direction our mind is prone to go.

The statement in Hebrews 6 quoted above is prefaced with the following introduction:

“Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God ….” (Hebrews 6:1)

What is the “elementary doctrine of Christ”? What are these “dead works” from which we must repent? This is the key to keep from “falling away”.

Continue reading “Repentance from Dead Works”