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A Warning to Persevere

Devotions

Many areas of life require perseverance, such as completing a degree program, overcoming a challenge at work, or finishing an exercise routine. The Christian life is no different; Scripture calls each of us to persevere in the faith.

That call to perseverance is emphasized first by a negative example: recalling those who fell. In the old covenant, those who rejected God’s Law were punished. The conclusion: “How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?” (v. 29). Given all that Christ has done for us, a deliberate and persistent rejection of His grace and mercy leaves us in a very dire situation indeed.

Second, we are given a positive example: recalling those who endured. In fact, the author of Hebrews reminds his readers of their own perseverance in the past. They had undergone “great conflict full of suffering” (v. 32), that involved public insult and persecution, imprisonment, and confiscation of personal property. In all of this, they had suffered “joyfully . . . because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions” (v. 34).

Finally, we are reminded of a future hope: “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised” (v. 36). Using quotations from Isaiah and Habakkuk, the author reminds us that Christ’s return is imminent and we are called to live by faith (and in faithfulness) as we wait. Through perseverance in the faith, we belong “to those who have faith and are saved” (v. 39).

Apply the Word

When our spiritual perseverance wanes, we should remind ourselves of Christians around the world who face severe persecution. You can learn more online about the persecuted church today (opendoorsusa.org). Then pray for your suffering Christian brothers and sisters around the world, and be encouraged to persevere in faith yourself.

BY Bryan Stewart

Bryan A. Stewart is associate professor of religion at McMurry University in Abilene, Texas. His particular interests are the history of Christian thought and the way that early Christians interpreted the biblical canon. He is the editor of a volume on the Gospel of John in The Church’s Bible series (Eerdmans), and he has done extensive research on the ways that the early Church preached on this Gospel. He is an ordained minister. 

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