It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God - without love
Hebrews 10:18-39 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
18 Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin.
19 Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; 24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
26 For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge His people.” 31 It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
32 But remember the former days, when, after being enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings, 33 partly by being made a public spectacle through reproaches and tribulations, and partly by becoming sharers with those who were so treated. 34 For you showed sympathy to the prisoners and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and a lasting one. 35 Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.
37 For yet in a very little while,
He who is coming will come, and will not delay.
38 But My righteous one shall live by faith;
And if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him.
39 But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.
“Vengeance is Mine, I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge His people.” It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God. These are not words that are often spoken in or by the church today. It is words like these which tend to cause people to view the church and God Himself as harsh and judgmental, rather than as loving and gracious. We are after all to be witnesses for Christ. We are to testify to the world of His love and more over we are to be His representatives, actually demonstrating His love, His mercy and grace to the world. Jesus Himself says: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” (John 3:16-17) It is the love of God we are to be witnesses of to the world. It is the life and the light of Christ, which we are to demonstrate to the world. Jesus Himself says: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16) It is by shining the light of Christ, by doing good works among men that people will glorify God. Jesus says: Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.” (John 14:12) Jesus, during His ministry on earth, sought out sinners, outcasts and those rejected by society. He showed them love, mercy and grace. Those are the works of Christ that we are to do today in the world.
Yet among Jesus final words to His disciples were: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.” Jesus came, sent by God, because of God’s love: “that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” But let’s be clear about what the love of God truly looks like. It is the mercy, the grace, the forgiveness and love that Jesus showed in His life. But it is also the sacrifice He offered on the cross. God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.(Romans 5:8) We cannot fully express and demonstrate the love of God to the world through our own acts of acceptance, grace and forgiveness. The true love of God can only be demonstrated in the cross of Christ. Jesus greatest act of love and grace, is not expressed in His life, but rather in His death. We need to testify of God’s love to the world. One who testifies is to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. If we are to tell the whole truth of God’s love, we must tell more than just about the life that Jesus lived. We must also tell about His death.
Jesus came so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. It is not enough though to believe in His life. It is the one who believes in Jesus death on the cross, His sacrifice, as payment for sin, who shall not perish. Today’s text says: For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? If we ourselves continue in sin, knowing the price that Jesus paid, we trample under foot the Son of God and the demonstration of God’s love. If we only tell of God’s love, His mercy and grace and don’t tell the whole truth of what God’s love really is, if we tolerate, accept and condone sin, without telling the world that Jesus died for their sin, we and they; trample under foot the Son of God and reject the very love that He came to give.
Jesus didn’t come to judge the world. He came, because of the love of God, to demonstrate that love both through His life and even more through His death on the cross. Not everyone who believes Jesus lived will be saved, only those who believe He died for them. The love of God came at a great price. How can we believe that to reject the love of God, demonstrated through the death of Christ for our sin, will not also have a cost? Jesus says: “God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.” (John 3:17-19) He says: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.” We are to demonstrate and testify of the love of God to the world. We need to love enough to tell the whole truth. They need to know and experience God’s love, yet they also need to know: “The Lord will judge His people.” It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God; For those who have rejected the love that was demonstrated through the cross of Christ.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit thank You for Your love, Your mercy, Your grace given and demonstrated while I was yet a sinner. May I never, through my own life or through not telling the whole truth to others, trample on, reject, despise or diminish the price of the great love You expressed through the cross. May my life be an example of Your love and light and may I love enough to tell the whole truth that others too may believe not only in Your life, but also in Your death, the price You paid for love. Amen