Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. For, ‘Yet a little while, and the Coming One will come and will not delay; but My righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.’ But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls. Hebrews 10:35-39
The title is the last lines to one of my old favorite hymns, “How Firm a Foundation.” The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose, I will not, I will not, desert to his foes; That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake, I’ll never, no never, no never, forsake! (Bernhard Schumacher, 1931) The writer of Hebrews could have written that hymn.
Hebrews is filled with calls to persevere in our faith, and warnings about what will happen if we don’t. In Hebrews 6:11 we find, We desire each of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. There the writer called them sluggish, in Hebrews 5:11 he called them “dull of hearing.”
And the writer says, if you don’t stop drifting (2:1) and neglecting your salvation (2:3) and forsaking the assembling of yourselves together (10:25), you are going to be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin and fall away from the living God (3:12–13). Those are big warnings. If you drift, play around with sin, don’t pursue holiness, and aren’t growing in grace, this is a wake up call for what we call “carnal Christians.”
Hebrews 10:39 tells those carnal Christians that if they shrink back in their faith they will be destroyed, causing me to discard the word ‘Christian’ from the description. This would be a deception, perhaps causing such people to think that they could and would eventually get their acts together. In other words, that thinking would be a mark of someone who is not really saved at all.
On the faith side, for those who do not shrink back in their faith, there is great reward. In order to do this, you will need much endurance. In other words, the Christian life is not a cake walk. Difficult times are to be expected. Don’t think that you are going through something unusual if hard times hit because of your Christian faith.
In Luke 21, as well as other places, Jesus told of how we will be brought before kings and governors for His name’s sake. We will be delivered up even by parents, siblings and friends and some will be put to death.
Luke 21:19 encourages, By your endurance you will gain your lives. And Paul stated in Acts 14:22: Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. So get your endurance gene sharpened!
A mark of saving faith is that it endures because God will give you the grace and the strength to endure. That is what will give you the courage to sing “I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.” We are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but are of those who have faith and are preserved–no matter what.