The Need for Endurance

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Lost Advantage

As you turn your Bibles to Hebrews Chapter 10 this morning I want to point out the lost advantage we have as Christians in our community.
The Early Church
Acts 2:47 includes a phrase that I come back to often, and will continue to come back to. Acts 2:47 speaks of the church and says this of it:
Acts 2:47 (KJV 1900)
47 ..... having favour with all the people ....
Understand that people means — the people. It isn’t just saying that church had favor with itself or favor with certain segments. When Acts says people it means people in general.
Louw Nida defines the word λαός (laos) as
the largest unit into which the people of the world are divided on the basis of their constituting a socio-political community
And so we can know the model of the early church was to have such a character that the world looked upon them favorably. — This of course was prior to the persecution that came soon there-after — But, it tells us this: The character of the church should be such that without outside influence it is looked upon favorably.
Self Inflicted Wounds
I am sad to admit that the church today, in America, suffers from many self-inflicted wounds.
Internal conflict, not just between denominations but within local churches has left us divided, not just in fellowship but in purpose — Pride and Arrogance, especially by leadership within the church, has exposed hypocrisy. — Not only do their actions hurt people within the church, it seems that those who exhibit the greatest price and the greatest arrogance are the ones who also seek the greatest notoriety. And when they gain that notoriety, and then fall, their fall ends up being a public embarrassment.
Last month the Southern Baptist Convention released a list of alleged sexual abusers that they had compiled. And while I commend them for making the list public, it is shameful that the list includes over 700 cases of abuse.
This isn’t anything that we weren’t warned about. Jesus says in Matthew 7:15
Matthew 7:15 KJV 1900
15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
Reports like the one released by the Southern Baptist could create the impression that the church is the source of abuse when the reality is that the church has been victimized by these wolves.
That is the true perspective — This isn’t a list of the faithful, this is a list of the wolves. — Wolves who have infiltrated the Kingdom of God under false pretense, and have turned the hearts of the people against the church.
Ugly Sayings
Completely independent of wounds that seem self-inflicted by the church, the church, our beliefs and the our savior have certainly had ugly things said about it.
While the faith hasn’t been attached directly, the tenants of the faith have. There is this intersection where the values of our culture and the values of our faith meet. — More often than not those values conflict and darkness is prevailing over the light.
If you hold to a biblical position on life, and on sexuality and on marriage then you must be prepared to have your position mocked and ridiculed. — Just reading some of the reactions in regard to the Supreme court decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade burdens my heart. — But it is to be expected.
I find it extremely timely the passage we have come to in the book of Hebrews this morning. Read with me v32-36 of Hebrews chapter 10.
Hebrews 10:32–36 KJV 1900
32 But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions; 33 Partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used. 34 For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance. 35 Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward. 36 For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.
Our message this morning is entitled The Need for Endurance as we continue our series A Once for All Life.
Let’s Pray.

The Need for Endurance

As the title of this message states: Christians have need of endurance or patience as we find it worded in v36.

A Historical Perspective

I think if we are honest with ourselves and we have any understanding of the persecution that the church has historically faced, we can admit that even at its worst the persecution that we face in this country is pretty light.
I try — probably not hard enough — to not roll my eyes when I hear Christians complaining about how persecuted the church in America has become. — I do believe we are heading towards a place where Christians are actively persecuted in severe ways — I just don’t think we are all the way there just yet.
But, vv32 & 33 are the reality, even for today
Hebrews 10:32–33 KJV 1900
32 But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions; 33 Partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used.

Sports Reference

Christians do face affliction, meaning suffering or hardship, even today and the author uses sports term to make this point.
I find it fascinating that today we use sports terms to make our points, whether it is in business or in preaching, or just casual conversation. — How often do we tell someone that something was hit out of the park or to set a goal.
The word translated fight referring to the Christian life is the word ἄθλησις (athlēsis). It sounds like the word athlete because that is where we get our word athlete. It means contest — which is something a faithful pattern of life is often compared to.
In 1 Cor 9:24-25 Paul writes
1 Corinthians 9:24–25 KJV 1900
24 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. 25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.
and at the consumption of his life Paul said in 2 Tim 4:7
2 Timothy 4:7 KJV 1900
7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
4 Maccabees
I am going to read from 4 Maccabees, but I want you to understand that the books of Maccabees are not cannon. Meaning they are not inspired writings. We should think of this the same way that we think of any of the books at the Christian bookstore that aren’t the Bible. Good for reference, but not the inspired word of God.
Interestingly enough, this book 4th Maccabees was more well regarded and preserved by early Christians than the Jewish people of the time. — And it is for the same reason I bring it up now — The book relates to persevering through the hardships of the faith.
Let me read to you then from 4 Maccabees on the subject of Martyrdom
4 Maccabees 17:7–16 NRSV
7 If it were possible for us to paint the history of your religion as an artist might, would not those who first beheld it have shuddered as they saw the mother of the seven children enduring their varied tortures to death for the sake of religion? 8 Indeed it would be proper to inscribe on their tomb these words as a reminder to the people of our nation: 9 “Here lie buried an aged priest and an aged woman and seven sons, because of the violence of the tyrant who wished to destroy the way of life of the Hebrews. 10 They vindicated their nation, looking to God and enduring torture even to death.” 11 Truly the contest in which they were engaged was divine, 12 for on that day virtue gave the awards and tested them for their endurance. The prize was immortality in endless life. 13 Eleazar was the first contestant, the mother of the seven sons entered the competition, and the brothers contended. 14 The tyrant was the antagonist, and the world and the human race were the spectators. 15 Reverence for God was victor and gave the crown to its own athletes. 16 Who did not admire the athletes of the divine legislation? Who were not amazed?
The book of Hebrews is written to people who are familiar with this same sort of contest.


And while we don’t know to what extent and by whose hand plundering was done, but we read in v34 that the people written to in Hebrews 10
Hebrews 10:34 (KJV 1900)
.... took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance.

Historical Accounts

Tacitus said this of Christians in the 1st Century in Rome. Very possibly the Christians written to in the book of Hebrews:
Their death, was made a matter of sport: they were covered in wild beasts’ skins and torn to pieces by dogs; or were fastened to crosses and set on fire in order to serve as torches by night when daylight failed.
Clement made this curious comment, that Christian women had to
Enact the parts of Dirce and the daughters of Danaus
For you and I this doesn’t have much meaning, but in the play Dirce was tied to the horns of a wild bull to be killed.
It is less obvious what was done in the play representing the Daughters of Danaus, but in Greek mythology 49 of the 50 daughters of Danaus kill their husbands and as penance are forced to fill a leaking bathtub forever. — In any event, their treatment was cruel and deadly.

Modern Level of Persecution

When we compare the current level of persecution in this country with what Christians came to expect during the time that our New Testament was being written — You will find that there is just — No — Comparison

Endure by Remembering

Remembering the Past

I pray to God that we never see the extreme persecution felt by the early church, but it could happen. But martyrdom withstanding, I have no doubt of public reproach and affliction — I have no doubt of escalating hardship.
How are we going to endure it? By remembering the past


The problem with the gospel isn’t the gospel, it’s you and I. We remember what Jesus said right
Matthew 16:24–26 KJV 1900
24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. 26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
And when we are a new believer — These words seem to be more urgent.

Plantation Illustration

There is an old story of a plantation owner The plantation owner noticed that his servant always seem to have a smile on his face, and always seem to have a good attitude no matter what task was given to him. This was curious to the plantation owner how could a servant be so content in life.
One day the plantation owner decided to ask a servant what the secret to his happiness was. The server responded if you go home and put on your finest suit and come down here and work in the mud with me then you will know the secret to my happiness. — that's absurd so the plantation owner and he went back up to his house without having his question answered.
Later that year a plantation owner was struggling to his debtors. As he looked out to the fields he saw that same servant smiling away as he tiled. The plantation owner decided again to come down and talk to the servant and ask him what the source of his happiness was. He was given the same response. If if you put on your nice suit and come down in total in the mud with me you will find the secret to my happiness. — that's too simple the plantation owner thought it again went back to his home unsatisfied.
Sometime past in the plantation owners family had left him. The debt on his plantation was growing and he wasn't able to afford them the life that they expected. The way things were going the bank would soon take the plantation from him. He was miserable. But he looked out the window again and he saw the sermon just as happy as he could be toiling in the mud. — the plantation owner was desperate and so he went to his closet and put on his final suit and walk down to talk with a servant. I am here in my finest suit give me one of your tools I am ready to work alongside you to find out the source of your happiness.
The servant stopped him right then. Sir, you don't need to give up your finest possessions to be happy. You just need to be willing to. And the servant shared with the owner of the plantation the gospel of Christ.

Zeal of the new believer

It is easy for us to forget the state of our heart when we first believed. That point we reached when we said I surrender all. — Sure I will toil in the mud if that is what you ask of me— The author of Hebrews urges us to remember because as time passes we forget how desperate our situation was without Christ.
Hebrews 10:34 reminds us that there used to be a time when we didn’t care if our worldly goods were stolen from us — Because we knew that we had better possessions in heaven.
Likewise — In the midst of hardship our bible tells us that we shouldn’t allow the world to take away our confidence because our confidence is in Christ! — Our promises are greater than anything that the world can take away — Because the world can never take away our peace and Joy in Christ, and it can never take away our eternal salvation.
Christian — Keep your confidence.
Times may be increasingly difficult and that is all the more reason for us to fortify ourselves against the demonic attacks of persecution and reproach.
The same message I would have for the believer this morning is the message I would have for the unbeliever. Trust in Christ. In Christ we have better promises than anything that world could offer or could take away.
If you have any questions about this message — We are going to close in prayer in just a few moments. — Please come talk to me after. — I would love to talk to you more about our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Let’s Pray
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