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Hebrews 6:9-12 by Robert Dean
Series:Hebrews (2005)
Duration:55 mins 26 secs

Hebrews Lesson 74  December 28, 2006


NKJ John 10:10 "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.


This week I have gotten some interesting questions.  One question that came in through email was somebody said, "It seems like you always cite these different verses before class.  Why do you do that?" 


Some people don't know the answer to that. The reason that I do that is because Bible memory is very important. I know that a lot of you are very busy and you haven't quite figured out how to make that a priority in your life. A lot of people don't do that. So I am hoping that by always repeating these sets of verses before class that you will listen to them. Every now and then I see people lip sinking along with me while I am saying them which is good review for you, hoping that through all of the repetition you don't put your brain in neutral and say, "Oh well that is what we go through before class."


I hope that you will think through those verses. I have chosen them for a number of reasons and I put them together the way I do for a number of reasons.  Hopefully that will help you remember them. 


I got started doing that a number of years ago when I was sitting around at lunch up in Connecticut over at North Stonington Bible Church at a Labor Day conference. Charlie Clough was speaking over there.  He and Jay Chapel and I were sitting around talking about different things. Charlie told the story about how back years ago when he was at Lubbock Bible Church he had a guy in his congregation who was a bomber. I guess they were flying B-52's in the Vietnam War and what it was like the first time he went on a bombing raid over North Vietnam and over Hanoi. According to the tactic for bombers in flight, they stacked them. You have two or three levels of bombers. You have your wingman, your bombers on each side, over you and below you. There is a reason for the way they fly in formation and how they fly in formation so that everybody can protect everybody else around them. As he described it, he was flying into North Vietnam and all the anti-aircraft fire started going off a round him. You just get scared to death. You want to push the panic button and you want to start grabbing the wheel of that airplane and start diving and maneuvering and trying to dodge and get around everything, but there are set procedures for precisely what you are supposed to do and stay in formation so that everybody can watch everybody else. He had this panic come over him and fear.  All of a sudden in his head he heard the voice of Pastor Thieme reciting the verses that he used to recite before Bible class. Among them were Isaiah 40:31 and Philippians 4:5-6 and others. It stabilized his emotions and calmed him down. 


I thought, "That is a fantastic principle." 


Reciting those verses in such a way like that before every class so that people will learn them and memorize them and maybe one day you will be in a position and you will hear my voice in your head. But you will hear the Word of God and not just teaching. That is very important. That is one reason I do that. 


The last couple of weeks we have been in this paragraph in Hebrews 6:9-12 which comes to a positive encouragement after a section where the writer has blasted these Hebrew believers for their spiritual lethargy. They have become lazy spiritually. They are yielding to the pressures of the moment, the opposition from Jewish believers, the antagonism from other Jews who are the opposition from the Jewish hierarchy – from the Pharisees and the Sadducees-  antagonism from other Jewish unbelievers because they have chosen to follow Jesus Christ and to put their trust in Him. As they are going through this now they are beginning to second guess their decision to trust in Christ and to follow Him. So he has blasted them back in verse 11. 


He said, "I have much to say about Melchizedek and the unique priesthood of the Church Age." That is the thrust of his argumentation. 


NKJ Hebrews 5:11 of whom we have much to say, and hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing.


The word dull means lazy or slovenly. You just don't care. It has affected your whole spiritual growth. 


"By now I ought to be teaching you as adults; but I have to go back to basic doctrines, basic principles because you need milk and not solid food." 


Then he warns them about the real danger that a person can get in through spiritual lethargy of just losing all forward momentum in the spiritual life and going into a reverse course where you back up. It can get to a point just as a practical matter that you just won't recover. You reach a point-of-no-return, not an absolute point-of-no-return because he says that all things are possible with God. We can recover if God permits. But practically speaking, we have all seen this happen in people's lives. They create this habit pattern and this negative momentum with regard to spiritual things. As far as things go in life, there never is real spiritual recovery. That is what the warning is. Now he says in contrast...

NKJ Hebrews 6:9 But, beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation, though we speak in this manner.


In other words, "I don't expect you to stay in this condition. If you respond to what I am teaching you in this epistle then you're not going to stay in this position of the spiritual doldrums where you are stagnant and there is no growth or even reverse growth where you are backing up completely."


So what he is confident of is those things that come with the package that God gives us at salvation that prepare us for that future salvation. Always remember that when you run across this noun "salvation" in Hebrews, it is not talking about justification. 


In English and in English speaking churches and among American evangelicals our patois, our common Koine verbiage, is that if we want to know if someone is going to heaven, we ask, "Are you saved?' 


We use the word "saved" to be a blanket synonym for entering into eternal life or being regenerated for being justified. But the Bible uses the word in different senses. In many cases this noun soteria doesn't focus on the beginning of the process where we are regenerate, where we are justified, where we are reconciled, where our redemption is realized; but it focuses on the end product what we call phase 3 when we are absent from the body and face to face with the Lord and realize our blessings and rewards given at the Judgment Seat of Christ. And so what we see in 9-12 is this focus in almost every sentence on something future, something oriented to that future destiny and inheritance which is where he ends in verse 12 that we need to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.


In verse 10 he gives his reason, why he is confident they are going to forward. 


NKJ Hebrews 6:10 For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister.


The same thing with us - no matter what happens in your life, the same principle is true. God is just and God is going to work in your life and He is not going to forget any forward advance, any spiritual advance, any divine good that has been produced in your life through the Holy Spirit. God is going to remember your work and your labor of love and the fact that you are ministering and have ministered even though for them they are in spiritual regression.  There is still a measure of some spiritual momentum and interest because he uses a present tense participle. He talks about God remembering their past work, the labor that came from their love for God. It is the love for God that motivates us. You have ministered to the saints (aorist tense) and you do minister (present tense). So there is still practical application in terms of Christian service. We studied the terminology there that it relates to the word diokoneo which is the act of Christian service. 


Verses 11 and 12 are where we are now.  We read…


NKJ Hebrews 6:11 And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end,


"We desire" is your main verb. 


So what you have is an infinitive of purpose in verse 11 that is your intermediate purpose with your ultimate purpose given in verse 12. 


That is until the end of your life.


NKJ Hebrews 6:12 that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.


So step one purpose is show diligence. Be diligent. Put forth effort in your present spiritual growth. Step two is to not become sluggish, but to positively imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.


Now we will look at that and break it apart this evening. In terms of summarizing this…


  1. First we can have confidence that despite failure, God's grace always provides for recovery. That is a tremendous principle to understand. No matter what happens, no matter how much you fail, no matter how badly you sin, God's grace is great enough for any sin.  There is forgiveness and there is recovery. No sin is too great for the grace of God
  2. The second thing that he emphasizes in verse 10 that God's justice isn't going to forget that which has positively been produced in your life through God the Holy Spirit. He is not going to forget or overlook that which we have done in the power of the Holy Spirit. 


Now that leads us to understanding the rationale that he is using. It is the justice of God. We need to do the same thing when we think about things. Think about the justice of God or the essence of God. We saw this as we looked at the essence of God. The focus was on His righteousness and justice. 


Essence of God


Sovereignty  Omniscience

Righteousness  Omnipotence

Justice  0mnipresence 

Love  Veracity

Eternal life  Immutability


Righteousness is the absolute standard of His character.  Justice is the application of that.  So whatever God does in His dealing with us, it is always going to be absolutely fair, right and just because He knows all the data.  He is omniscient.  There is no fact that he is unaware of.  He knows all of your motivations. He knows all of your failings. He knows all of your successes. He knows everything. And as Abraham stated back in Genesis…


NKJ Genesis 18:25 "Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from You! Shall not the judge of all the earth do right ?"


We can rest and relax that God is going to do the right thing in His evaluation of us.


So we put together this little flowchart. We will look at it one more time to try to get it into our heads. The word is taught. Under the filling of the Holy Spirit it comes into the soul as epignosis doctrine. It is not just academic knowledge which is gnosis. It is useable knowledge. That is epignosis. It is spiritually useable knowledge. But, it is potential. You don't just automatically apply it because you are filled with the Spirit. Some people have gotten that idea.  It comes from a quasi-mystical view of the filling of the Holy Spirit – that if I am filled with the Holy Spirit, He automatically applies it. We all know that if you try to do that (let go and let God), it is very frustrating because the Holy Spirit doesn't override your volition. That is what is wrong with defining the word filling with the Spirit as control. Control has the idea that your volition is controlled by the Spirit. Your volition is not. Your spiritual growth is being controlled by the Spirit – not your volition. It is better to understand it as influence. God the Holy Spirit is influencing you with the Word of God so that you have that brought to your attention in your mind to apply. In that process as you apply the Word, God the Holy Spirit produces growth. 


Now as we study the Word we go through this process of divine viewpoint truth coming into our soul. Divine viewpoint comes in and human viewpoint kosmic truth gets flushed out - hopefully. Actually it doesn't leave. It is still there so you have something to live on when you are in carnality. Sometimes at certain levels of Christian growth you feel like you almost have multiple personalities. You are in fellowship walking with the Lord one day, you are one way. 


The next day when you are carnal and out of sorts - you are angry, you are bitter or you are resentful- you think, "What happened to me? I am like a totally different person than I was yesterday." 


We feel like there is this battle. There is a battle going on in the soul. Sometimes you feel like you are two different people. We all have days like that where we look in the mirror and wonder what happened.  Who is that?  But when we are growing we take in the Word. Epignosis doctrine comes from divine viewpoint truth that goes into the soul and we exchange the human viewpoint garbage that we learned growing up for divine viewpoint truth. 


As we walk by the Spirit, stay in fellowship, apply doctrine, abide in Christ the Holy Spirit produces spiritual growth that affects us in two ways. One way is through spiritual production of character. This is Galatians 5:21-22, the fruit of the Spirit. But then it also produces Christian service. That is the positive side of divine good, human works, Christian service as expressed through our priesthood which is toward God, serving God. We have a verb that we will see tonight that is important. The word is leiturgos which is where we get our word liturgy. It is the idea of serving God. It is related to worship. Our life should be an act of worship toward God as we obey Him. The second aspect is ambassadorship which is related to man. That is representing God, taking the gospel to a lost world. So, Christian service flows out in a couple of different ways. This is what is covered in verse 10 in terms of our work, our labor of love, and Christian service. That is all summarized in verse 10.


Ephesians 4:11-12 says that the purpose of the pastor-teacher is to equip the saints. That's you. I am the pastor. You are the saints. My job is to equip you to do the work of service. How do you do that?


NKJ Ephesians 4:11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers,


NKJ Ephesians 4:12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,


You do that by teaching the whole council of God, teaching the Old Testament and teaching the New Testament, teaching all the doctrines, teaching everything so that you become equipped mentally with what you need to live your spiritual life and to grow. That will eventuate in service. That is the work of ministry in verse 12. It is the word diakoneo, the same word we have in verse 10 which is the word for ministry.


  1. That brings us to the third point in this paragraph which is that the believer is expected to persevere in light of our future expectation – that future hope, that confident expectation. There is a future. There is a very real time of accountability before the Lord Jesus Christ when we will stand before Him at the Bema Seat and we are going to be accountable for every word, thought, and deed, not in terms of sin or sinful punishment but in terms of the fact that God has given you and me a package of assets, a package of abilities and the potential. We have God the Holy Spirit. We have the completed canon of Scripture. We have 40 different things that God has given to us at the instant of salvation. We have all of these things that no other believer in human history has had and we are expected to serve the Lord and to maximize on that potential and not just sit there and stick it away somewhere and say, "I am glad I am going to go to heaven." And that is about the end of it. So we are to persevere in Christian growth in light of that future expectation, to continue in faith and patience in order to realize a full inheritance. Inheritance is always a code word talking about rewards and blessings in eternity. So we are living today in light of eternity. Once we get to that stage in the spiritual life, it really begins to change our whole way of thinking and our priorities because all of a sudden we begin to realize that all of that stuff, all of that garbage that we put up with at work, all of the garbage that we put up with family, all of the unpleasantries that we put up dealing with people, opposition to the gospel, living in the devil's world – all this is all meaningless. Paul says that he counts present suffering to be nothing when you compare it to the future glories that we are going to have. Romans 8. So we have to live today in the light of eternity. 


So let's look at these verses.


NKJ Hebrews 6:11 And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end,


Here the main verb of this sentence is "we desire." The word for epithumeo which is a word sometimes translated lust in a negative sense. It indicates a strong controlling desire. It emphasizes volition. It is a strong desire to see something happen. This is the desire of the pastor for his congregation that they get serious about the Word of God and that they press on. 


I was going to read was a report I took off the internet last week on the Barna Report which George Barna is an evangelical sociologist who takes all kinds of surveys and has for about 15-20 years on the state of evangelicalism in America. His end of the year report came out last week and he listed the 10 most significant findings of the last year. I was going to read all ten of them. I will do that another time. One of them was that the survey indicated that pastors think that 70% of their congregation is going forward spiritually. The reality is that about 10% of them are. Now that is a broad spectrum of evangelicalism.  I would say that is probably pretty optimistic even for most evangelicals. Most of them are just part of the old nod to God crowd. They just want to show up on Sunday morning and have a 20 minute sermonette for Christianettes and that's it. That is all that they have got. They don't ever get much feeding of the Word. But you have a lot of idealistic pastors out there who are extremely naïve about the nature of sheep. But I think we have a different scenario here at West Houston Bible Church and a lot of doctrinal Bible churches because people who come to doctrinal churches tend to be very motivated to learn the Word. But even that doesn't mean that just because you are here three times a week or you are listening tapes four or five times a week or whatever it is that you going anywhere spiritually. You may just be accumulating a lot of knowledge, but there may not be much application or much change. That happens with a lot of people. We have all seen that happen where people get a lot of knowledge and think that somehow just the knowledge of doctrine equals spiritual maturity - and it's not. It is the application of doctrine that brings about spiritual growth and spiritual maturity. So the writer of the epistle uses a first person plural here. It is an authorial "we". It is simply expressing his own desire that each one in this congregation shows the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end. 


Now I want to come back to this word in just a minute. This idea – the same diligence - the same as what? What is the point of comparison? The same diligence - you really have to go to the next verse to pick it up.  In verse 12 we read…


NKJ Hebrews 6:12 that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.


Now in the context of Hebrews he is going to go through this whole list of faith heroes in chapter 11 at the end of which he is going to say, "This great cloud of witnesses." 


So what he has in his head is he looking back to the great heroes of the faith from the Old Testament. Because he is focusing on the Old Testament doesn't mean that that nobody in the New Testament is, but in terms of canonicity they aren't there yet to mention them. So we are talking about Adam and Noah and Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and Joseph and Moses and David and Elijah and Isaiah and Jeremiah and Daniel and all the Old Testament saints. But also we would include the New Testament people such as Mary and Martha. We would also talk about Peter and Paul and James and all of the apostles that these are men and women who pushed it to spiritual maturity and were tremendously dedicated to serving the Lord. That is the example. We are to look to them because they are imitating Christ. It is not that we are imitating them because we are imitating them. As we will see in a few minutes, look at some of these passages. 


Paul said, "Imitate me because I am imitating the Lord." 


We don't imitate him in the things where he is not imitating the Lord, but imitate him and these heroes of the faith because of what they had in common which made them tremendous servants of God and servants of Christ. Our focus is to look to them as models and examples of how they through faith and patience inherited the promises. So we are to have that same kind of diligence. So he says that...


NKJ Hebrews 6:11 And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end


Demonstrate it! It is supposed to be evident in your life. A Greek word that indicates proof that somebody will look at your life and see this kind of thing. 


The word for diligence is spoude. It is the noun form of the verb spoudazo. Spoudazo is the word that is translated in the King James Version, "study to show thyself approved unto God." The study is more of an interpretation in that passage. It is the idea of being diligent in your responsibilities. Since Timothy was a pastor, his responsibility was to study and teach. So that is why they translated that "study to show yourself approved unto God" in the King James. Newer translations usually translate it "be diligent." But that is the idea. It involves hard work. It has a sense of urgency about it. It has a sense of priority and importance that this is so crucial that you need to be diligent, you need to put forth effort, and you need to put forth spiritual sweat to grow.  You need to make going to Bible class a priority, reading your Bible a priority, learning promises a priority, studying everything you can and putting it into application.  As we will see there is a sense of urgency in the text all through the New Testament because Jesus could actually come back tomorrow. Are we ready for the Bema Seat? It can happen tomorrow. It may not happen until the next day. Even if Jesus doesn't come back tomorrow, you may be in a head on collision on the way home tonight and you are meeting Jesus just as sure as if He had come. So are you ready? That is the urgency that he has here.  Put forth a diligence, an effort to the full assurance of hope until the end.


The word for assurance is conviction. Do you really believe that Jesus could come tomorrow? Now if you believe that, how is that affecting how you are living today?  If you knew for sure that Jesus Christ was going to come back next week, how would that change what you are doing between now and next week? If you knew you were going to be standing before the Bema Seat of Christ in 10 days, how would that change? If it is going to change anything, then that is what we need to work on. We need to realize that this really is going to happen. It is not just a nice doctrine. It is not just an interesting curiosity. It is not just a nice academic fact. Jesus is coming back. We are going to be taken to an evaluation before Him. And, are we living today in the light of that evaluation.  That is the idea here - that we have a true conviction that this is true. That is part of what faith is. If you believe that your house had just caught on fire, what would you do right now? You would be running out the back door. Your actions would be related to what you truly believe and are convinced is true. That is the idea here. There is to be diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end. 


That word "hope" is the word for confident expectation. It is to the end. That is the destiny. That is the end goal of the Christian life, not the end of our life; but until the end where we reach that mature stage. It is the Greek word telos which is related to the verb teleioo which is translated maturity or completeness. It is the idea of taking it all the way to the final product of spiritual maturity. 


Then we come to verse 12.


NKJ Hebrews 6:12 that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.


In other words, be diligent. Don't be lazy. Don't become complacent, but set out your goals spiritually. Make a plan. Change your priorities. Make the Word of God a priority. Listen to tapes. Get in the car and listen to a MP3 player. When you are at home, put it on whatever recording device that you have.  Listen to DVD's. If you don't have time to listen to a whole lesson at one time, then listen for 15 minutes. Whatever time you have, utilize that time.  If you want to memorize Scripture, get 3 x 5 cards. Print them out. You can go to any Christian books store and buy the NavPress pack for the Navigators that they have for their basic Bible memorization. They give you a vinyl plastic thing that has a clear side on it. You get your memory verses and you work on that. I did that for years. You learn those verses. Whatever works for you, but just get it done.  Memorize Scripture. Listen to the Bible on tape. You can go to any kind of website (a used book website) and get Charlton Heston reading the Bible on tape or on CD or whatever it is. The point is to maximize the time that the Word of God is shaping your thinking. 


So we are not to become sluggish. This is the Greek word nothros which is a word meaning lazy or sluggardly or complacent. So the contrast is not to become complacent and sluggish in your spiritual growth, but to imitate mature believers. He has already accused them of being sluggish. The same word is used in verse 11 where he says that they have become dull of hearing. So they are already showing signs of slipping into negative volition. 


Then he says to imitate them, the mature believers.  This is the Greek word mimnetes which is where we get our word mimic. You can hear it in the sound of the Greek word mimnetes. It means to imitate someone, to follow their example as we see how they live. How are we to imitate them? We are to imitate those through faith and patience inherit the promises. We don't imitate them in their carnality, because every human being who is a believer has carnality and failures. Paul had failures. We don't imitate them in that area. We imitate them in the way that they are imitating Jesus Christ. This is what Paul says in a number of passages. 


NKJ 1 Corinthians 4:16 Therefore I urge you, imitate me.


Now he is not on some kind of approbation trip where he wants everybody to live just like him. He is imitating Christ as he makes clear in I Corinthians 11:1. 


NKJ 1 Corinthians 11:1 Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.


He is a mature believer. 


He is so sold out to the plan of God and the agenda of Jesus Christ and serving Him in the Church Age that he can say, "Do what I do." 


This is because he is doing precisely what Christ said to do. That is the Apostle Paul. 


In Ephesians 5:1 he says…


NKJ Ephesians 5:1 Therefore be imitators of God as dear children.


That is the ultimate standard that we are to mimic. 


He says to them….


NKJ 1 Thessalonians 1:6 And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit,


So we are to be imitators ultimately of the Lord Jesus Christ. But this concept of imitation is further defined by this prepositional clause. It is to be done through faith and patience. I already pointed out that this is primarily a reference to Old Testament believers, Old Testament heroes of the faith; but secondarily it would also include the New Testament leaders of the church.


Now the word here translated patience is the word makrothumia which has the idea of long suffering or forbearance. Makro means long. That is where we get our English word macro. It means big or long or large. Thumia is the word for anger. It takes you a long time to be irritated, to get angry or impatient.  That is a good word. It makes a lot of sense. Most of us are still struggling with that. We are to be long suffering. It is through patience and waiting. We aren't going to see that inheritance tomorrow or the next day. That is part of the test – learning to wait on the Lord. This is a different concept from the word for endurance which is hupomone which has the idea of staying under the pressure. This is the idea of waiting calmly with a relaxed mental attitude, not getting impatient because we are living in the devil's world and we are getting so frustrated all the time with having to deal with a lot of sinful people around us.


Turn to James 5. James 5:7-11 gives us this same idea in an expanded sense. James is one more book to the right - Hebrews and then James. This is the last chapter of James. James 5:7 is where James begins the conclusion of the epistle.  In James 5:7 he says… 


NKJ James 5:7 Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain.


He is going to repeat the word for patience or use it as a synonym for endurance several times from 5:7 to the end of chapter 5. That's the theme. He introduced the theme of endurance back in James 1:2 where he said….


NKJ James 1:2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,


NKJ James 1:3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.


Our doctrine gets tested. Our belief system gets tested. We are to be consistent in application of the Word. It wraps up in his conclusion.  He says… 


NKJ James 5:7 Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain.


Again we see that James has that same future focus that the writer of Hebrews has and Paul has. We need to live today in the light of what is coming. We don't want to be like the person John refers to in I John 2:28 of having shame at the Judgment Seat of Christ. So we need to be patient, long suffering, not get impatient until the coming of the Lord. 


He uses an illustration from agriculture. Whatever you do, you can't make the corn or make the tomatoes or whatever you are growing, grow faster. It proceeds at its own rate. You can't make yourself grow any faster spiritually. You can't hurry it up. You can't go out there and try to make things happen.  It takes time. I am convinced that a certain amount of spiritual maturity is going to take place because you become more emotionally mature. It just takes time and you can't rush it. 


This is not a reference to the coming of the Holy Spirit at the beginning of the Church Age and then a later manifestation for some end time. I just have to throw that in because there are a whole lot of people out there that believe that. As soon as they see latter rain they start talking in terms of the Holy Spirit because this is a big charismatic doctrine. It's not talking about that. It is just using an agricultural analogy. In Israel you have a rainy season and a spring.  That is the early rains. You have another rainy season later on towards late summer or early fall. That is the latter rains. It doesn't have anything to do with the coming of the Holy Spirit. But there is a whole bunch of people who think it does. That is what happens when you have literal hermeneutics. 


NKJ James 5:8 You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.


He repeats the concept again. 


Eggizo - it is at hand. It is imminent. It can happen at any moment. So he repeats this command to be patient and then he says to establish your hearts. This again is an imperative form of the verb sterizo which means to set it in place. It is setting something in concrete, to make it firm, to establish it. You need to take your decision to make the Word of God a priority in your life and set that in concrete. There are a lot of people who 20 years into their Christian life they are still trying to figure out if they are going to follow Jesus. It is okay to follow Jesus as long as His agenda is my agenda and as long as He stays in my comfort zone. But as soon as He gets me out of my comfort zone, then I better find something else to do. We don't want to get too fanatical about this Bible doctrine stuff. The idea here is you have to establish your heart. You have to make a decision that "what matters to me is the Word of God. It doesn't matter what else, because I am going to do what the Word of God says to do. I am going to make that the thinking of my soul." So the command here is to set it in place, to fix it so that it doesn't move, to make a permanent decision in terms of the course of your life.


 The coming of the Lord is near. 


Then we have the reason given based on a hoti clause. It is because the Lord's coming is near. This is a reference again to II Corinthians 5:10 that we will all stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ.


This brings us to the doctrine of works that we studied a couple of weeks ago. I just want to remind you of Ephesians 2:10.


NKJ Ephesians 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.


You are not saved just so you can go to heaven. You are not saved just so you can sit in Bible class and accumulate 25 doctrinal notebooks from A to Z of all the important doctrines of the Bible and be able to correlate everything together. Not that there is anything wrong with those things, but that is not the purpose for your salvation. The purpose of your salvation drives through all of that. It is to get through all of that to application. We are to be living evidence within the framework of the angelic conflict. That means a production of divine good that stands on record for all of eternity


NKJ Ephesians 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.


That is manifesting these good works. Part of this affects our basic attitude. This is one of the verses in the Bible most of us would like to say that we believe in the inerrancy and infallibility of Scripture every word comes from the mouth of God except for this verse. There is a verse over in Philippians that says do all things without grumbling or complaining. 


We say, "Let's go to the next verse."


This says not to grumble. The word is the Greek stenazo which means to complain, to groan or to gripe about whatever it is that other believers are doing that irritate you. 


NKJ James 5:9 Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door!


Now I don't know about you, but there are a lot of things about other believers that irritate me. This is not an easy verse. 


Don't complain about other believers. Whatever it is they are doing, don't complain about them. Don't gripe about them. That is between them and the Lord and the Lord is going to handle it. 


You are going to be accountable for that. They may be doing things in an irresponsible way. They may be doing things in a foolish way. They may have lower standards. They may be messing up by the numbers, but that is between them and the Lord. Your job and my job are to apply doctrine consistently so that we are going to be accountable before the Lord. 


He wants us to realize this. We need to live in the immediacy of the rapture, the immediacy of the coming of Jesus for us and taking the Lord us to the Judgment Seat of Christ, so that it is so real to us that it is more real than anything else that we are doing in life.


NKJ James 5:10 My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience.


He is saying the same thing that the writer of Hebrews is saying. Look at Abraham, how long he waited before he realized the promise of Isaac. Look at Jacob as he is out of the land for 20 years before he returns to the land. Look at Joseph as we are studying now and look at the years he spends as a slave and then in prison before God promotes him. And look at David and the years he spent out in the wilderness waiting on the promise of God before it was finally realized. 


Look at Paul who is called an apostle as one out of season in Acts 9. 


Yet he has to spend 14 years back in Tarsus before Barnabas says, "Oh. Wait a minute we have this guy named Saul of Tarsus or Paul. I have got to go get him because he would be perfect for the job of taking the gospel to the Gentiles." 


So he is set aside in training for a long period of time before Paul finally gets involved in the ministry. So there is a period of suffering and training and patience in verse 10.


NKJ James 5:11 Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord -- that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful. 


There is hupomone. It is related to patience. 


So the writer of James takes Job as his example. But there is one other thing that is going on here. 


You see when we look at these examples and you say, "Okay. I hear what you are saying. I need to look at Adam and Noah and Abraham. But God appeared to them. What about Jesus appeared to Paul? And you have Peter and Andrew and James and all the other disciples. They walked with Jesus for 3 years. Now if I had that, then maybe that would make a difference. These guys - there was something different about them." 


That is the rationalization that people adopt to justify mediocrity in their spiritual life. 


"I can't have the impact of James or John or Peter or any of the Old Testament believers because they had something special."  


The lie is that they were different from us. We tend to think that they were different; but they are not. The truth is that there is no difference whatsoever.  James 5:17 says…


NKJ James 5:17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months.


The point is that Elijah is not any different than you or me. Isaiah wasn't any different than you or me. Daniel wasn't any different from you or me. 


Don't say. "It was his environment." 


Don't say, "God appeared to him." 


That is garbage. There is no difference. The only difference is their volition. You see when you look at Old Testament saints which is where both Hebrews and James are going here for their point of comparison, you have got so much more. You have the indwelling of the Spirit. You have got the filling of the Holy Spirit. You have been sealed by the Holy Spirit. You have the completed canon of Scripture. You have this vast array of both Old Testament and New Testament and Church Age witnesses who have set an example before you. You don't have an excuse. I don't have an excuse. The challenge here is that with all of this we need to follow their example. The only difference is that they were willing to trust God and walk by faith and not by sight. We're not. It is a matter of volition. Are you willing to do what they did, make the decisions they made, because for them God was more real and the plan of God was more real than anything that they experienced – anything in their background. 


Now that leads us to a question. That is, what is it that really made them different? What made it possible for those men and women to be the spiritual giants that we think of to have impact that they had and to serve the Lord to such a great degree? How can we imitate that? 


Well, the first point is that it boils down to their faith. They had the will, the gumption, the guts (whatever word you wan to use) to really believe God; to truly trust Him and take Him at His word and take up the challenge to walk by faith and not by sight. 


NKJ 2 Corinthians 5:7 For we walk by faith, not by sight.


That means that the Word of God and the principles described in the Word of God have to become more real to you than anything you experience whether it is emotions, pressure from those who are outside. Think of all the rejection that Jesus went through. John 1 says that He came to His own, but His own received Him not. For 2,000 years God was preparing the Jewish people to receive and accept Jesus His Son as their Messiah. 


He came and they said, "We don't want you." 


Did He react? Were His feelings hurt? Did He get all upset and go home?


Did He say, "I am just going to go home now?"


No, He just kept at it and kept at it and kept at it. No matter how they mistreated Him, maltreated Him, abused Him, falsely accused Him, Jesus never vacillated, never changed and never waffled. He kept His eye on the mission. The mission was to serve God completely. 


So for Jesus in His humanity the Word of God was more real to Him than all of the opposition, all of the rejection, all of the hostility, all of the insults, all of the gossip, all of the slander. They called Him a drunk. They called Him a glutton because He went to parties and He would eat and drink. Obviously He has to be drinking alcoholic wine or they wouldn't have had a basis for calling him a drunk. It didn't mean he got drunk. He ate food so they called Him a glutton. That means He had to have had a glass of wine and then they called Him a drunk. The reason was that John the Baptist came and he didn't.  He fasted. He did not partake of any pleasantries. You see people are always going generate an excuse to be against you if you are a believer – if you are standing for the truth. They are always going to take something that has a little core of truth and then twist it all out of proportion. So Jesus came and for Him the Word of God was more real than anything that people did. 


That means that you have to do what Jesus did, what Paul did what Moses did and what everybody did. They lived on a totally different code of conduct.  What was in their head and why they lived and why they made the choices they made was not like anybody else. They had a different standard of thinking.  They were operating (you are going to love this) on a Mac operating system while everybody else was on a PC. They had something better going for them.  They had the truth. Now some of you PC people don't understand that. I have been using Mac's for 20 years and any given Mac I have ever had never broke. Every PC I have had gets a new everything every year. They had a superior operating system. They had the truth, divine viewpoint. They were completely sold out to it. People who continue to try to operate on both systems – human viewpoint and divine viewpoint when it is comfortable - always crash. It never works. That is what made the heroes of the Old Testament better. They operated at key points on divine viewpoint. Their core values whether we are talking about Jesus or whether we are talking about Old Testament prophets whether we are talking about New Testament heroes - their core values were always shaped completely by the Word of God so that the existence of God and accountability to Christ at the Judgment Seat of Christ was more real to them than any temptation, than any physical pleasure, than any personal agenda item that you can come up with. The fact of the Judgment Seat of Christ was so real to Paul. Just read what he says I Corinthians 9 and in II Corinthians 5 in places where he talks about running the race and how he beat his body into submission as it were, using a tremendous metaphor there. You feel the energy there of how he is almost physically grabbing himself forcing himself to do that which he knows he must do because of the real danger of being disqualified. So the existence of God and accountability to Christ was more real. They were walking by faith and not sight. 


That is the first. I have 5 things that made it possible for these people to be the spiritual heroes that they were. It all starts after salvation with that willingness to make the Word of God the number one priority and to walk by faith and not by sight where what God says is more important to you than what anybody else says or thinks. No matter what anybody does, the only thing that matters is what Jesus said I need to do in this kind of situation. That is the starting point. We will get to the other 4 when I come back from Kiev in three or four weeks. 


One of the points is that they all have a passion for evangelism. While I am gone Ike is going to be teaching on Tuesday and Thursday night related to principles of evangelism and communicating the gospel in a pagan world. So you are going to want to pay attention to what Ike says at that time.


Let's bow our heads in closing prayer.