Believer’s Behaviour Part 2

More Practical Guidelines

Hebrews 13:7-19

My wife Stephanie carries with her something very precious. If you were to see it, at first glance you may think nothing of it. Now days it’s looking a little worn, but to her it has lost no value.

It’s a letter from a man, no it’s not a love letter from me, but indeed a letter written out of love. That letter was written by the man who’s now with the Lord. He preached the night Stephanie gave her heart to Jesus.

It’s a letter of encouragement, a letter of remembrance. A link to one who spoke the word of God to her and every time that letter is opened fond memories rise up with every word. Fond memories of the life and witness of that man. Fond memories of the message he spoke and certainty about the decision made to follow Christ.

That’s the kind of sentiment in the heart of the writer of Hebrews as he began this passage in 13:7-19.

Immediately we are encouraged to remember. The community of believers were suffering and life was difficult as they tried to live out faithful endurance. When you’re getting belted from every side and the kids are sick or you’ve lost your job, the bills are mounting up and the way forward isn’t clear, where do you focus?

When you’re in those dark times and your faith is being tested and you feel all alone... remember... Take out you own letter of encouragement and let the fond memories nourish and energise you; to spur you on through your circumstances.

Remember the example of those faithful saints who have demonstrate to you that it’s possible to have victory in the face of adversity. Faithful examples who have not just talked the talk, but have walked the walk, with grace, love, dignity and humility. The command says not only to remember... but to imitate!

We live in a state of constant change. It can be confronting, it can be confusing and it fills many with concern. The writer of Hebrews says to these believers, “LOOK AT JESUS! He never changes. Yesterday... today... forever...”

Although your situation may change, you can trust Christ, you can trust the Gospel which you have believed! Why? Because it doesn’t change... you have nothing to fear! Earlier in the chapter the writer reminded us:

Never will I leave you... never will I forsake you...

If Jesus remains the same and if the Gospel remains the same and the call to imitate those faithful examples of saints who have gone before have not changed, then why the need to be carried away by strange, new teaching? Yet the warning is there.

You and I must be on guard against false doctrine. Jesus calls us to come out of the world, yet there are preachers who want to take us back into the world with worldly carnal doctrine. Jesus said, “The world will hate you, because they hated me.” Yet some preachers believe that the world is your oyster to be embraced. The Bible warns us about suffering, yet there are those who teach who peddle prosperity. So be on guard!

Yes the blood sacrifices ore over, but for the Christian the spiritual sacrifices continue. There are two types of spiritual sacrifice:

  • The sacrifice of Praise - When we come into God’s presence, we are to bring words of thanksgiving. We are to speak and sing out our praises to Him.

I read this recently:

When the spirit of praise takes root within the soil of the heart it will spread buds and blossoms over all the soul and adorn the lips with its fruit.

  • Good Works – Faith without action is dead. Our good works are spiritual sacrifices.

Christianity is really a practical religion that regards every act of charity done in the name of Jesus as a sweet and holy psalm. God is well pleased with every good work done out of gratitude for his grace and accepts such as a sacrifice offered to himself.

Now we are going to cover more of this in coming weeks... I’m going to do a mini series on basic Baptist beliefs... which will include priesthood of believers, church autonomy, religious liberty and congregational church government...

Church leadership is an interesting subject for Baptists. It’s a point of tension for a congregational style church. But there’s ample evidence confirming a New Testament framework of leadership.

Here in Hebrews 13:17, there is a basic assumption - Good leadership is committed to proper instruction and doctrinal integrity.

  • Obey in this passage means to have confidence in or being persuaded by good doctrine.
  • Submit means being ready to comply. In other words having heard sound doctrine, submit to the teaching.

The context of the passage according to some commentaries assumes there is tension between the congregation and the leaders. So in light of what has already been said in the passage, the writer urges the church to have confidence in their current leadership team and submit to their leadership.

Instead of working against them, the members of the congregation are to yield to their leaders so that their ministry may be done with joy. A teachable and cooperative congregation is an encouragement to all their leaders, bringing joy and cheerfulness to their ministry.

Yet a contrary and unruly congregation with exasperate a leadership causing disinterest and dejection. When this happens as one writer says:

The people will suffer much spiritual loss, for which they can only have themselves to blame.