Christianos ad leones! Made to be a Spectacle
“For” is a connecting word and directly links v.25 with the following. The connecting verses are the thought of the consequences to which neglect of the corporate gathering may lead, and the awful revelation of judgment which the final day will bring. Another warning similar to:
Hebrews 6:4-6 NKJV “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 [a]if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.”
The state described is one of willful and continued sin, which is the result and the expression of apostasy from Christ. It is not, “If we fall under temptation and commit sin;” but, “If we are sinning willfully.” The descriptive words are few as compared with those of Chapter 6, but they teach the same lesson. The full knowledge of the truth has been received by those to whom the writer here makes reference; they have been “sanctified in the blood of the covenant” v. 29 For such “there remains no longer a sacrifice for sins:” that offering of Jesus which they deliberately reject has abolished all the earlier sacrifices. The observances and ceremonies of Judaism, which had been full of meaning whilst they foreshadowed Him that was to come, have lost all their power through His coming. These Hebrew believers having lived under the sacrificial system, where sinning willfully was common place, as they could experience the sacrificial lamb once a year. The writer of Hebrews tells them they cannot treat Christ’s blood as that of a common animal. For such sin as this, the sin of knowing and willful rejection of the only Sin offering, God thus provides no other sacrifice.
“Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.” – Hebrews 3:12
Pastor Joe Kelly of GOSPELTELL an organization that seeks to maintain the authority of Scripture writes, “CNN reported that professing Christian recording artist, Toby Mac’s son, died of an “accidental overdose of fentanyl and amphetamines.” While not trying to be insensitive to his family, there is no such thing as an accidental overdose of that combination of drugs. The risk is clear, that to submit ones life to be medicated by the agents of Satan is to invite spiritual and physical death. It may be slow and years into the future, or quick. There was a time when such incidents only occurred in the hopeless and sin-bound people of the World System. Now that the Great and Final Apostasy has occurred, the majority of professing “Christians” are apostates. The younger generations are with the blessing of leadership accepting the influence of the kingdom of darkness. They are dying of sin-caused maladies.
Everyone makes mistakes and no one is perfect, but true Christians do not commit flagrant and willful wickedness and rebellion against God. To do so would require rejecting the indwelling Holy Spirit and defiling His temple. It is to depart from God. It is a great mistake, and extremely dangerous to young and impressionable professing Christians, to project dying from a combination of illegal drugs as a mere Christian mistake. Instead, it should be identified for what it is—the consequence of departing from God. It should be a warning to the ones who are on the verge of doing the same thing. No one wishes to injure the grieving friends and family members. But they will grieve no matter what. So why marginalize the rebellious and dangerous behavior, leading more young people to take the same risk. Why make certain that more parents will be awakened in the night with the tragic news that their son or daughter is in eternity? Maybe if the true path of discipleship, what it means to be a genuine child of God, was preached and taught more often and thoroughly, fewer young men and women would depart from the Fountain of living water to drink from Satan’s broken cisterns. Tragically, that is not the case. Instead, there are millions of people claiming to be Christians but are unwilling to live or accept what that truly means. They believe it means—under the guise of loving lost people—to conform to the World System and its lust of the flesh, lust of the eye, and pride of life. To listen to their music or preaching is like drinking from a sewer pipe. And people wonder why so many individuals in the younger generations have no clue about true, biblical, Christianity. This is not a game! Satan has no pity for his victims. We are temporarily on this earth, invited to spend eternity with God, or can choose to spend it with Satan. It is that clear. Choose wisely! With much love, Pastor Joe Kelly”
This is the fruit of the false love gospel. Parents are more afraid of losing their kid’s friendship than they are of losing them to the world. True love, God’s love, corrects erroneous teaching! The false love gospel has wreaked havoc on our youth. Stop teaching your children they can continue to live in sin and go to heaven because they made a declaration. This is not Scriptural. It is a coward that refuses to tell your children the truth. Grace teaches me how to live a holy life! Eternity is at stake!
The only thing that those who trample the Son of God and treat His blood as a common thing, insulting the Spirit of grace by continuing to sin willfully have to look forward to is judgment.
Let’s return to the sternness of this letter. Do not neglect your salvation. V.25-27
These are the words the Lord spoke to Israel: “Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.”” Exodus 19:5-6
These are the words the Lord speaks to NT Christians:
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”
1 Peter 2:9
What God wanted for Israel, a people to be holy before Him, a royal kingdom of priests who loved and obeyed Him; He performed in Christ. And the Lord still cries out,
“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.” Hosea 4:6
These words still apply! When a priesthood of people reject their God, only destruction can follow. How are we destroyed? A rejection of the knowledge of God, His ways, His laws, and His precepts. This people perish for lack of the knowledge of God and His salvation. This knowledge Israel might have drawn from the law, in which God had revealed His counsel and will, but it would not. Israel rejected the knowledge and forgot the law of its God, and would be rejected and forgotten by God in consequence. HEAR THIS: To reject is willful, conscious, deliberate sin; to forget, is an act of negligence. The rejection of God’s law was the act of the understanding and will, forgetfulness of it comes from the neglect to look into it. The priests knew God’s law and “despised” it; the people “forgot” it. Both are to blame: the people who refuse sound doctrine are indeed negligent and therefore forgetful; and those who are to mandated to teach God’s holy Word, reject and despise it.
Smith Wigglesworth: “If it is in the Bible, it is so. It is not even to be prayed about. It is to be received and acted upon. Inactivity is a robber which steals blessings. Increase comes by action, by using what we have and know. Your life must be one of going on from faith to faith.”
v.28 “anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses”
This is an OT law (Deut 17) and renewed in the NT by Jesus:
Matthew 18:15-20 New King James Version (NKJV)
15 “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ 17 And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.
18 “Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.
19 “Again[a] I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”
This is not a verse about the gathering of the brethren, but about how to rightly handle a sinning brother. This is God’s revealed Word to be ACTED UPON.
WE cannot neglect God’s Word and how to love the brethren- it is not just in taking care of each other’s physical needs, but even more so attending to the spiritual needs of one another. If you really believed this urgent warning in Hebrews, “If you continue to sin willfully”, then you would not only apply them to your own life, but you would keep a keen eye on your brother in Christ. Read v.29-31
Negligence in “forsaking the gathering”- and yes, it means “public worship” as the Greek contrasts the gathering with the word synagogue- the Jewish public place of worship. SO it is not just in attending a Bible study, or fellowshipping with a few other Christians for tea; but the corporate meeting, where the church worships together as one and we receive the preaching of the word, lay hands on one another, pray for one another. This negligence has the potential to lead to willful sin, in a great and many different ways. WE deceive ourselves, lie to ourselves about our walk and think we are OK.
The tone of this letter changes and we receive encouragement:
Recall the former days when you endured suffering. V.32
I believe it is beneficial to look back on your salvation experience and remember the joy you had at the beginning, when you shared Christ so loudly everyone departed from you. When all you could do what talk about Jesus and you didn’t care about anyone or anything except to be near Him. Remember those days when all you wanted was to be in church, worshiping with other believers, praying at the altar, singing songs of love to your Savior and only Redeemer. I was so ecstatic about Jesus and being forgiven and born again a new creation, I could not shut up and so I was ridiculed and made fun of and abandoned by all my “friends”
I liken it to remembering when you were first in love and how you couldn’t wait to just be near that person and hold their hand, talk on the phone, sit next to them, if even for a few minutes. Ps Matt and I would drive 45 min to sit and talk for 10 min.
And then you got comfortable, And trials came to test your relationship. And you were more concerned with what others thought about you than what He thought. You cared more to please others than to please Jesus because He became “old hat”. You got comfortable and apathetic. And like an old married couple that began to take their spouse for granted, forgetting why you ever loved them, and began catagorizing their faults instead of listing all their attributes and you became 20-year strangers because of neglect and part ways because you “fell out of love”
King David prayed:
Psalm 51:12 New King James Version (NKJV)
12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.
To look back upon past events, which may be very instructive, and prove the means of establishing you in your resolution of adhering to the gospel. In particular, reflect on what you have suffered, and how you have been supported and delivered by Him in your suffering, that you may not become despondent upon the approach of similar evils, but may still trust in God and persevere in faith.
2 Corinthians 4:8-10 New King James Version (NKJV)
8 We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.
Be willing to be made a spectacle. V.33
Expressed by the common cry “Christianos ad leones!” The phrase translated “them that were so used”., here it is not used in a passive tense, but very active and ongoing and manner of life.
In the Greek- exposed as in a public theatre, exposed to public reviling
A reference to the assaults upon honor and good name, to assaults upon the person (the life) and outward possessions, held up to public view, or exposed to public scorn.
When this was done, or in precisely what manner, we are not told. It was not an uncommon thing for the early Christians to be held up to reproach and scorn, and probably this refers to some time when it was done by rulers or magistrates. These here specifically had their possessions stolen from officials. It was a common custom among the Greeks and Romans to lead criminals, before they were put to death, through the theater, and thus to expose them to the insults and reproaches of the multitude.
The writer of Hebrews encourages these believers that it is good and right to be made a spectacle for their only Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 4:9 New King James Version (NKJV)
9 For I think that God has displayed us, the apostles, last, as men condemned to death; for we have been made a spectacle [a]to the world, both to angels and to men.
Matthew 5:11-12 New King James Version (NKJV)
11 Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
In being made a spectacle and ridiculed on a public forum– do not cast away your confidence v.35
… “Cast not away, then, your BOLDNESS, for it has great recompense of reward”. The exhortation begun in v.19 “having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of the Lamb” is resumed, with now the added force springing from their remembrance of what they have already endured and a pressing on for a greater reward in heaven.
Therefore do not away your boldness — As a cowardly soldier casts away his shield, and flees in the day of battle; but since God has supported and brought you through all your sufferings thus far, with much patience and joy maintain and improve your confidence and courage against all difficulties and dangers; which has a great reward, by way of recompense for your obedience.
A reason for holding fast their confidence is now found in the result of so doing. It has great reward. Therefore, do not throw it away as a worthless thing you have no further need of.
Romans 8:34-35, 38-39 New King James Version (NKJV)
34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. (no one can condemn you because it was Christ who died and redeemed you. No one else) 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Notice Paul says that there is no form of tribulation, trial, persecution or distress that can separate us from Him. NO external circumstances, no revilings from evil men. We are killed by others for His sake. We are conquerors of all these spectacles through HIM. These may take our lives, but never our souls.
WE often quote and misinterpret this Scripture, leaving out a very important caveat. The love of God is found in Christ- when we identify ourselves with Him. What does Paul not mention here? SIN, disobedience, rebellion, unbelief. Because willful sin and disobedience tramples on His precious blood and will eventually separate forever those who do not abide in Christ and obey His gospel, but cast away their confidence.
1 Peter 3:13-17 New King James Version (NKJV)
13 And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” 15 But [a]sanctify [b]the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; 16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. 17 For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.
Job 23:10-11 New King James Version (NKJV)
10 But He knows the way that I take; When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.
11 My foot has held fast to His steps; I have kept His way and not turned aside.
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