“...hold firmly to the faith…” Hebrews 4:14
The early first century church came under harsh persecution. Historians have noted the roads entering the district of Rome being lit by burning crosses, with the remains of martyred Christians hanging upon them. Rome was strongly opposed to the movement sweeping across the empire - a movement which recognized an eternal king. Many people who had first embraced the grace of Christ began to fall away for fear of death by various styles of executions. One of the main purposes within Hebrews was to encourage Believers to remain steadfast in their faith.
Three times, the writer of Hebrews admonished first century Jewish Christians: “...do not harden your hearts…” (3:8 & 15; also 4:7). The motivation for Believers, even to this day, was the promise of entering eternal rest - the joy of acceptance into Heaven, a rest reflective of God’s rest after the creation (vv. 3-10). So the writer emphasized that no Believer should be found to have fallen short by placing more value on this life than on one’s eternal life (vv. 1 & 11).
All Christians of the early church received the message of salvation in the same manner: they had to be told of salvation through Jesus Christ. That method has not changed… one’s mind must be engaged to process what is heard or read to engage the spirit when inviting into one’s heart. What words engage the mind and soul in such a way? The Word of God, which is living, active, sharper than any double-edged sword, and which penetrates into one’s soul, judging the thoughts and attitudes of the heart (vv. 2 & 12). The reader is directed to accept that nothing is hidden from God’s sight; there can be no duplicity with God, as He sees right through it and will call every soul into account (v.13).
The fourth chapter concludes with a declaration of Jesus being The Eternal High Priest who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses, having been tempted in every way as ourselves, and Who grants mercy and grace to help in a time of need. Within these parting comments are found today’s five understandable words: “...hold firmly to the faith…” (v.14; vv. 14-16).
Christianity will never win a popularity contest with the world. Christians are being martyred in higher numbers today than at any time in history. We are emboldened to hold firmly to the faith through the mercy and grace God provides to those who believe. Hold on… this life is a roller coaster of sorts. Trust God for strength and courage to persevere in the faith.
Have a blessed day…