by Barry Newton
At first blush, the idea might sound attractive. Why not ensure that every message presented in the worship assembly be positive and upbeat? If God’s people need to be motivated, why not solely appeal to why disciples should love the Lord and how love for God should direct their lives? Such an official razor policy will amputate any negative messages which might cause people to feel uncomfortable, guilty, or fearful.
To be sure, God’s people need to feast upon positive motivation. This is healthy. Accordingly, the letter of Hebrews is filled with encouraging reaffirmations of what Christ has done for us, as well as what his position as Son and High Priest means for our lives. But because the perseverance and spiritual growth of God’s people is more important than mere numbers or whether the message has been packaged in a positive form, situations can arise when strong medicine is required. The author of Hebrews encountered just such a time.
The reality was that his readers were playing with fire and needed strong medicine to penetrate and quiver their nearly hardened hearts. Some of them were flirting with abandoning Christ, which would manifest itself behaviorally through forsaking the worship assembly. The prescription called for hard, straight talking. Hebrews 10:26-31 delivers.
To simply walk away from the one sacrifice that can purify and cause a person to be holy, thus spurning the Son of God and treating as ordinary his blood of the covenant, is an insult, not to man, but to the Spirit of grace. Such disregard and disposal of the Son makes that person an enemy of God. The language of “fearful expectation,” “raging fire,” and “it is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God,” reminds us there is no uncertainty about the outcome.
It is wonderful when God’s people thrive on a positive diet. Sometimes, however, for the human heart to grow closer to God it needs to be jolted back to reality with a strong dose of straight talk. “Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off” (Romans 11:22).
by Barry Newton