This week Pastor Shaun will resume his sermon series on the book of Hebrews. His primary text is found in Hebrews chapter 3. This particular chapter has frequently been interpreted and taught incorrectly leading people to falsely believe that a believer’s eternal security is not all that secure. This is one of two passages that well-intentioned people struggle with interpreting. The second passage is located in Hebrews 6 and we will discuss that in the coming weeks. For now, lets stick with Hebrews 3. Verses 12-14 say this:
“Take care brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.”
There is much that can be said about this passage of Scripture and Pastor Shaun will certainly preach this text on Sunday, but for our purposes, let’s examine this passage in light of our perseverance in the Christian faith. Let’s dissect this passage a bit so that we can interpret it correctly.
Take care brothers: The Hebraic author is identifying his audience as brothers. In other words, he is taking them at their profession. We have already identified in previous posts (see my first post for the Greater Than series) that the audience is a mixture of Jewish believers and unbelievers. It is clear that they are facing persecution for claiming Christ as the Messiah and announcing His life, death and resurrection as sufficient for the salvation of God’s people. Because of this persecution, some are being tempted to abandon that confession so that they may be accepted back into the “inner circle” of Judaism. Some of the audience may even believe that Jews worship the same God as Christians. However, this is not the case. To reject Christ as the Messiah is to reject God the Father who sent Him (Matt. 10:40; Luke 10:16).
The “evil, unbelieving heart” stands in contrast to the faithfulness of Jesus and Moses in verse 2 of chapter 3. The Hebraic author is pastorally concerned for the hearers of this letter/sermon. He reminds them that a perpetual “evil unbelieving heart” will lead them to “fall away from the living God.” We know because of other passages that this cannot mean a true Christian can lose his salvation. To demonstrate this, let’s take a moment to consider some other passages of Scripture in order to understand our primary passage more clearly:
“And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.”
John 10: 27-30
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”
“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”
2 Thessalonians 3:3
“But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.”
2 Timothy 1:12
“… But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.”
2 Timothy 4:18
“The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen”
“looking to Jesus, the founder and perfector of our faith”
1 Peter 1:3b-5
“He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers nor things present nor things to come nor powers nor height nor depth nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Write these down, store them in your heart, dissect every word of the promise that the God who calls you and causes you to be born again is faithful to preserve you by the power of the Holy Spirit who is the “guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it” (Ephesians 1).
Now that we have these verses as our backdrop, we know that the Hebraic author could not possibly mean that Christians can lose their salvation. If that were the case, he would be contradicting not only Paul and Peter, but also Christ Jesus Himself.
Now we know what the Hebraic author does not mean. Now we must grasp what he does mean.
I submit that this is a loving and passionate plea to a general audience of Jews who profess Christ to persevere. Again, the Hebraic author is taking his audience at their profession, but understands that there are people there who are not truly converted that will hear the plea. He understands that these unconverted Jews are in the best position to become Christians because true believers who can continue to evangelize them surround them. One commentator says this about our passage:
“Those who are truly the Lord’s do not fall away forever, but there is no assurance that we are truly the Lord’s if we live contrary to him (cf. 10:14; Rom. 8:29-30; Eph. 2:6; Col. 3:1-3). So, these strong words call all professing Christians to a self-examination that would keep us from living in fear or rebellion (see also 2 Cor. 13:5). One evidence of truly knowing Christ is perseverance in faith. We must be on guard, therefore, that we do not develop ‘an evil, unbelieving heart.’ What is the antidote to the poison of unbelief? It is mutual accountability and daily encouragement of one another. Sin is deceitful and can harden our hearts.”
It now becomes clear for us that the author of Hebrews is telling his Jewish audience (and by God’s grace his exhortation is relevant to us) that God has established an ordinary means of grace to help us on the path of persevering in our faith- Christian community.
He says, “exhort one another, every day, as long as it’s called ‘today’” This is a command to habitually remind each other of the gospel message. This is a call to evangelize believers. We can take away several things from this passage alone:
- It strengthens and edifies God’s church in the gospel. Churches should preach the gospel everyday. The gospel isn’t just for justification. It is also for sanctification and glorification.
- It evangelizes non-believers who are merely giving lip service to the tenants of the Christian faith. There are non-believers mixed in with true believers. Sometimes it’s obvious and sometimes it’s not. Much like the Hebraic author, we are surrounded on Sunday morning (and sometimes throughout the week) by people who give lip service to God, but whose hearts are far from Him (Matt. 15:8). Therefore, the gospel must always be on our lips.
- Have confidence that in Christ, your eternity is secure. It is God’s Holy Spirit that perseveres you (Ephesians 1).
- Take the charge of the Hebraic author seriously when he states, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Heb. 10:24-25).
Much more can be said about this passage, but let us leave it there for now. If you have any questions or concerns about anything in this post, please e-mail me at
Order of Service
In Christ Alone
Welcome and Announcements
How Great is Our God
Sermon: Hebrews 3
Closing Song: Blessed Assurance
 Robert A. Peterson, Professor of Systematic Theology, Covenant Theological Seminary.