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Miabelle and Sadie (Dee's grand-daughters)






Last week I returned to Nebraska to speak at a retreat and to see family and friends, for my home with Steve was there for so many years. I was able to have lunch with two of our beloved bloggers: Kim and Joyce. Each is so radiant with the love of Christ, evidencing the fruit that comes from being connected to the vine. At lunch Kim shared, as she has on this blog, how wonderful it is to be assured of her salvation, to know it is of grace, and that she cannot lose it by her behavior, for indeed, we all sin every day. She grew up in a denomination that teaches you can lose your salvation when you sin, so she was in constant anxiety. But now she is at rest, finding her hope in Christ alone.

This is from Anita Lustrea's office at Moody Radio


I have thought of Kim and those like her as we approach Hebrews — the book that is often used by those as “support” for the belief we can lose our salvation.  There is a repeated warning, indeed, but the warning is to those who think they are saved, but are not. They may be trusting in a moment when they went forward, or had an experience where they tasted the goodness of God, or feel they are living a good life — but there is no ongoing evidence in their lives that Christ is in them. They look at their supposed “salvation” rather like, as John Piper says, a vaccination — and they don’t think about it anymore. But if the vaccination actually took, there should be evidence in their lives.

These are challenging passages, so we must slow down. (It’s so wonderful to have our new members here from near and far-away places — you’ve stepped into a challenging study, and I so hope you stay with us.) If these passages are read quickly, they could cause real alarm — if read slowly and carefully, they can actually give you confidence. But they are meant to alarm some — those who think they are Christians, but who are actually trusting something other than God. The author even calls them brethren or brothers, but the Scriptures are clear that there can be false “brethren.” They are in church, they may be singing in the choir and even teaching Sunday School — the pastor may address them as “brothers and sisters,” even though he knows some are not truly in the family. They may look like believers, just like tares look like wheat. But there is no ongoing evidence of fruit and relationship with Christ in their lives. They may be mean, crass, spiteful, and morose. Yet they would tell you they are Christians, that they said a prayer, were baptized, and had tasted the goodness of God. But how do we know if we are really saved? And do these passages in Hebrews teach we can lose our salvation?

Absolutely not. They warn those who are not believers, but who may think they are.

I want to tell you Carol’s story, in hopes it will prepare you and shed light on the passage we will be studying this week and this repeated theme of holding to our hope that beats throughout Hebrews.


Steve and I were new Christians and had just moved into a little house on Lupine Court in Indianapolis with our toddler, J. R. I was desperate for a woman friend and perked up when I met Carol who lived three doors down. Perky, pretty, and earnest — I immediately invited her down for coffee during J. R.’s nap. We bonded quickly and experienced the joy of feminine friendship. She and her husband Bob had been trying to have a baby after suffering a miscarriage. I was overflowing with excitement about my new life in Christ, and could not help but share. Carol listened attentively, if a bit uncomfortably. She was refreshingly honest with her questions. When I asked if I could pray for her to have a baby, she laughed nervously, but said, “I guess it couldn’t hurt.”

To our delight, it wasn’t long before she found out she was pregnant again. She told me, and said, “Maybe it was the prayer!” But just weeks later, she began spotting, and she feared her nightmare was happening again. Carol fell to her knees in the bathroom and said:”God — if you are real, and if you let me keep this baby, I will give my life to you.”

Carol’s spotting stopped, her pregnancy went well, and she gave birth to a baby boy. She had tasted, as Hebrews 6 says, “the goodness of God.” Does that mean she was saved? No — everybody tastes the goodness of God in His mercies, which are new every morning. Did she give her life to him as promised? No. She gave a donation to Care instead. The warning of Hebrews 6 is for people in Carol’s situation, who have tasted the goodness of God but not taken Him seriously. What are they falling away from? The wooing of God, the goodness of God. They are not born again and they are resisting His wooing.

But God did not give up on Carol. One afternoon while our little boys napped, Carol asked me: “It seems so arrogant to say that Jesus is the only way. Can’t there be many ways — Buddha, Mohammed, Moses, or Jesus?”

As a baby Christian, I wasn’t sure how to answer her, but I knew enough to say, “Why don’t you ask God to show you if Jesus is the only way?”

So Carol did. And then she flipped open her Bible and put her finger on a page, demanding an answer. Graciously, God gave the incident of the transfiguration in Luke 9:28 when Peter, James, and John saw Jesus transfigured on the mountain, his face altered, his clothing dazzling white, talking to Moses and Elijah. They wanted to build three tabernacles in their honor, but a voice came out of a cloud and said:

“This is my Son, the chosen One, listen to him!”

Luke 9:35


Carol was so excited that she came running down the block with her baby and her Bible, eager to show me how God had spoken to her. God had shown her, as the author of Hebrews does in the opening of Hebrews 3, that Jesus is better than Moses (better than Elijah, better than Buddha…)

Did Carol trust Him for her salvation?

No. I told her I was afraid for her. She told me she thought she was one of God’s favorite people — and she was not afraid.

The warning of Hebrews is to people who have tasted God, heard from God — yet do not take Him to heart.

We moved away from Indianapolis but stayed in touch with Carol and Bob. Years later Bob became very ill and died of a brain tumor.

Not too long after that, I was doing a retreat in Indianapolis and contacted Carol, who agreed to meet me for lunch. During lunch Carol said: “I heard you on Focus on the Family.”

“You are listening to Focus on the Family?”



“You can’t go through what I’ve been through without turning to God.”

I stood up and came to her side of the booth, sat down, and held her. She was different. And I have continued to see a difference in her — trusting God, serving Him, staying close by His side. Do those things save her? No — they are evidence that she is saved. Can she lose her salvation? Absolutely not. She did nothing to earn it and she can do nothing to lose it. He holds her in the hollow of His hand — and no one can pluck her out of His hand.



If you are trusting in Christ alone, He is the Solid Rock. Stay close by His side — not to earn salvation, for you already have it, but it will increase your assurance that you know Him. A repeated theme, not only in Hebrews, but in the letters of John and in other passages is that your assurance that you are saved will grow as you stay by His side, as you walk in the light, as you turn from your idols and run toward Him. Does that save you? No. But it will increase your peace that you are indeed, His child. Rest in His grace. Find His perfect peace.


Sunday/Monday Opening Reflections

1. What stood out to you from the above and why?

2. Do you ever feel anxious about your salvation? How might you talk to your soul if you do?


Monday-Wednesday  Bible Study on Hebrews 3.

3. Read Hebrews 3:1-6

A. Why is Christ better than Moses? What does this mean?

B. Meditate on verse 6. He says “we are God’s house” IF. What is the IF?

C. It is important to see that the author says we are rather than we will be. This is important. What is the significance of this?

4. Find the pattern to find the theme of Hebrews.

A. What is the warning of Hebrews 2:1?

B. What is the warning of Hebrews 3:6?

C. What is the warning of Hebrews 6:11-12?

D. What is the warning of Hebrews 10:23?

E. What is the warning of Hebrews 10:35?

F. What is the warning of Hebrews 12:1?

G. What is the assurance of Hebrews 13:20-21?

5. Read Hebrews 3:7-19. This is an illustration of all the warnings above. What is it?

6. How would you pray or counsel the person who thinks he is saved because of a prayer or because of being baptized, but has neglected God?

Thursday-Friday: Listen to John Piper on Hebrews 3.

It’s a hard passage and he is very helpful.





7. What comments do you have on the sermon?


8. What is your take-a-way and why?

Leave a Comment

Comment * If this is your first time here, please comment then fill out your name and email as stated at the bottom. Dee will approve you within 24 hours.


  1. How would you pray or counsel the person who thinks he is saved because of a prayer or because of being baptized, but has neglected God?

    I hope that I would pray before & during the conversation, asking for wisdom and insight.
    Asking the person questions and then really listening to them, allowing them to listen to themselves, sharing a bit of my journey, what Christ means to me, praying that they will taste and see that the Lord is good, they don’t need to hid from Him if they are staying away because they fear God or their own sin too much.

    If they don’t fear Him enough I would perhaps try to get them to ponder their own mortality, the way life seems to be rushing by while we are busy doing things that won’t matter for eternity. To think about standing before God one day, and what will justify them if they ignore so great a salvation.

  2. Bill and I are in Georgia for a wedding this weekend, we are really blessed to be staying by the ocean. I got up early today and saw the sun rise, contemplating the richness of creation and that He holds it together by the power of His Word. Looking at the great detail of the shells, the colors & patterns of these little creatures no one but Him usually even sees, I thought about his care for the birds, and wondered if He also knew each of the former inhabitants of the little shells I was collecting.
    Looking at the rich colors of the shells, I wondered what our bodies will be like in Heaven, I have an idea girls that we are going to be pretty splendid!

    Krista & Diane, I am praying for you to hold fast in the trial, for trust & obedience, and that every purpose God has in this trial will be accomplished.

    Laura dancer, I am praying for your faith to be stretched and grown by you difficulties, and for Sarah to see Gods great love for her, and stop running to destructive things.

    Susan praying that your love for Christ will give you peace and that your love will overflow onto your family members, that they will see Christ in you in a way that will soften them

    Renee I love your contributions here, your deep thoughts stimulate all of us, I pray for peace assurance & clear understanding for you

    Joyce when my kids leave and I know I won’t see them again for awhile, I try to turn in my mind very purposefully from being sad, to being ever so grateful that God gave them to me to parent & that we had time together. I wish I could hug you!

    Dee I hope your company has been a blessing, thank you for your care here to us, for feeding us sheep!

    Elizabeth how is your pain, are you doing okay?

    1. Thinking of you on that beach…

    2. Love your thoughts about heaven, Chris — and observations of nature.

      Made me realize that I could take time looking for patterns in the frost while I scrape my car windows 🙂 I look for patterns everywhere else, but complain about scraping frost off the car, while I actually could be enjoying it (at least until temps are subzero!!)

      1. I love frost patterns too Renee!

    3. Chris, I feel so guilty just “missing” my daughter, after a visit, when you lost your son, tragically. I do feel so blessed to have had her here for 11 days and now she is safely back with her husband. Your right, I am so blessed to have had the Lord loan my children to me to raise. All we have to do is look around, to feel so blessed. I can’t imagine losing a child…your such a blessing to us, Chris. Thank you.

      1. Don’t feel guilty Joyce, I understand missing a child, I didn’t mean for you to feel bad about sharing how hard parting is.

    4. oh Chris, you are so other-centered…such a beautiful heart! Love your thoughts too on the shells–the details He creates just because He loves to create, for our pleasure, and to make things beautiful…praying for this time you have with Bill too

      1. You dear Elizabeth are the “other centered” one I think, I do admire that in you, thank you.

  3. I just listened to the extra optional sermon (first). I think I have to re-listen, there was a lot in there. He talked about how much we hear the words “unconditional love” in sermons and books, but he says that “justifying and sanctifying love is not unconditional”. After listening to this, I feel there are probably fewer authentic Christians than we think. It’s not so reassuring to someone like myself, who struggles so much with doubt or who admits to God that I don’t love Him like I should.

  4. Okay this is my second go round here…my sweet and busy husband accidentally deleted my responses bc he was using my stuff when I stepped away! : )

    5. Do not harden your hearts. I might be totally side tracked here…but I have to say something. There are a lot of people who are afraid of this warning because they question themselves and then I have run into people that think it sounds too harsh. I have lived that moment that is warned of…hardening my heart. It was almost like whistling in the dark, trying to distract myself from what I was actually doing. I would go to church or here a sermon on the radio, I would feel the pull of the Holy Spirit to let go, but I would choose to harden myself. Sometime I would tell myself “tomorrow” or “after this pack of smokes…” “After this party…” While other times I would just drown out the calling by running away from it completely. It is a physical and very conscious act to harden your heart…it can’t happen to you on accident and although we all give into moments of sin…an extra piece of pie when we aren’t even hungry or bickering with a spouse…this warning I believe is talking about a greater form of rejection or hardening. It’s the soul risking one….if that makes sense. Not to say that any sin is acceptable…but I think that when you harden your heart too many times it just becomes numb to the calling of the Holy Spirit….and that is when you are too far gone for The Lord to reach you….not that He doesn’t want to save you, but you can’t even hear Him anymore…you’ve been drowning Him out for so long.

    6. I do know and dearly love some people who believe that because they said a prayer or walked up to the front of church once…they are saved forever. I pray The Lord woos them the way He did me. And I try to offer support when I get the opportunity to bring the subject up with these friends and family members.

    1. Sarah, I can identify with you on this subject. I’m so glad we listened to his gentle wooing:)

    2. Sarah your hardening of he heart comments are so good. Now that we see how great His love is, how can we think of wounding Him more by not listening to His voice?

  5. After listened to both sermans I realy needed to read Galations 5, 1 “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a youke of slavery”

    Yes and I am all for serving and useing your gifts to serve the church. Romens 12 is one of the chapters I love most in the bible,and I am a missionary …, but that was a lot of pressure. The thing that is most important is to LOVE the Lord!!! And you do things out of this love.

    Maybe I just wasn’t in the right mood and he did not say what I heard, because I normaly like Piper. 🙂 So I will listen to it again.

    1. “Like” =) Haven’t listened to second sermon yet. Maybe I’ll just listen to the Piper one again (or maybe find a Keller one!)

    2. Ok, I listened to the sermons again and all is well now. So funny how you can “overhear” things …

      Maybe the mood came from the 5cm of snow that came down… Ha, ha you can blame it on the weahter, winter is here!

  6. OK, I’ve read the transcript to the first sermon and am now listening to it. I just thought I’d share in case it is at all helpful to others–I kind of like reading Piper (basic transcript is below sermon player) more than listening to him. Maybe I’m just so used to Keller, but Piper’s delivery can be a little distracting, emotionally, if that makes ANY sense! Just thought I’d point that out than you can read it–and hopefully it may have a more positive impact.

    1. Your order probably would have been better for me 🙂 Read, then listen!

    2. Thanks Elizabeth! I am a visual person (I print emails sometimes!) I have to listen to sermons 2-3 times to get the gist of them. I was just thinking how I would like to read the sermon!

      1. me too Laura–my listening comprehension has (unfortunately) never been as strong as my reading comprehension! With Keller’s it helps me to write as I listen, but Keller is so relational in his delivery I usually find him easy to listen to.

    3. I agree, Elizabeth. I listened to the sermon last evening and decided to read the transcript this morning. I got SO much more in reading than I got from listening. I think in the future this is the route I will take with John Piper.

      “If eternal security were like a vaccination, then Christ might be honored on the day of the inoculation, but after that he may be forgotten, the way we forget our vaccinations. But not so if eternal security involves a daily battle against unbelief where the weapons of victory are faith-building exhortations about the trustworthiness of Christ and the greatness of Christ and the value of Christ over all things.”
      I find part of this statement a bit troubling…”if eternal security involves…” If J. Piper states that you either are a “partaker” or you are a “think you’re a partaker”…in my mind, if you are a partaker than the question of “eternal security” has been settled from the start. I agree that despite this there will be daily battles, but the daily battles have no bearing on one’s eternal security.

      This is a great reminder…”Don’t be careless or nonchalant or inattentive about the condition of your heart. Don’t coast or drift and take your perseverance in faith for granted.”

      I understand J. Piper’s points about “unbelief” but also believe that “partakers” can have times where belief falters. In looking at Mark 9 (14-24)…the father of the demon-possessed boy believes that Jesus has power to make a difference in the boy’s life; the addition of “if you can” also shows the father’s doubt. The father states that he believes yet asks Jesus to help him overcome his unbelief.

      Oh, sorry Elizabeth…this ended up being more of my thoughts on J. Piper’s sermon overall than just a thanks for your suggestion of reading the transcript.

      1. oh Nanci–such wise insight. I love having you here! I have always loved the story of the man in Mk 9 too–so identify with the ” i believe but help my unbelief”–and loved this from you “the daily battles have no bearing on one’s eternal security”

  7. Thanks so much for your prayers…I’m doing fine. I am so thankful to have three beautiful children, the Lord blessed me with and with phones and Skype and e-mail…to keep in touch with! What if all we had was slow letters from stagecoach’s!

    I wanted to comment also, that very seldom have I doubted my salvation and when I did, it was the evil one putting thoughts into my head and listening to them. In the beginning, after I gave my heart to Jesus, in my 20’s, I would pray the prayer over every time, like Susan said she did, so I would make sure I was saved! But after 40 years, I have an intimate relationship with Jesus and never doubt my salvation anymore.

    If I had a friend who thinks he is saved by a prayer or by being baptized…but neglecting God, I’d have to say to him or her, that, that alone won’t save you, that it is a daily walk with Jesus, trusting and relying on him for every situation, moment by moment. His presence is with us always and he desires us more than we can ever imagine.

  8. I would appreciate prayers for my mom. She fell last night and had to have her brain drained of blood tonight. She is old but still “with it.” Her body suffers. She loves the Lord. I love her. Thanks.

    1. Laura, I will add your mom to my prayers…can you share her first name? take care…I will prayer for you as well.

      1. My mom is Margaret. She broke her humerus and is trying to recover from the brain surgery. She is stable. I just would like her to be comfortable with little pain and unafraid. She is a sweet old woman. God has watched over her. I realize we get old and eventually die; it is life. I just would rather her not be in a lot of pain. I guess I thought one day she would just die in her sleep, peacefully. She has had a hard life but is always faithful to our Lord. Thanks for all the prayers.

        1. Oh Laura, this must be so heart breaking for you. So sorry..Am praying for you and your mom. Thanks so much for keeping us updated.

    2. Laura–praying now, so sorry

    3. Praying for your mom Laura.

  9. Love John Pipers reminder to “check your fight!”

  10. 7. What comments do you have on the sermon?

    I loved what Piper said-that evidence that you are a Christian is that you are vigilant over your heart. I think whenever I struggle with sin or idolatry-the fact that I struggle is important, and my faith doesn’t lie in accepting Christ in 1988 and even how I understood scripture for the first time-the true sign of knowing Him is that I cling to the fact that HE will finish the work He started in me until I am perfect face to face with Jesus, and HE WILL and I so long for that day when I am perfect face to face with Him. 🙂 This is my hope! I am in this flawed body still-I struggle with sin and temptations to treasure other things more than Jesus..but OH I don’t want to and it scares me to think I can have seasons or moments when I do-and I do-so I must fix my eyes on Him daily. IT doesn’t mean I have lost my salvation, it just means that I need to heed to run the race that is set before me-HOW? By fixing my eyes on Him-the AUTHOR AND PERFECTER of my faith. He will complete His work in me-this is my hope.

    I like how Piper brought out how we need one another to encourage us to press on..I have more thoughts on this but no more time-this is really good!

  11. This is something the Lord gave me this am
    “There is no other name under heaven or earth”
    It is all about Jesus
    The refrain is high and constant
    Escaping from our lips
    Yeshua is on the move
    Jesus is coming
    Hallejah, our Lord is coming
    In all His glory, our soverign Lord
    Our lips are encased with His precious blood
    Only one name is shouted
    Over and over agin
    Behold Jesus
    Behold Yeshua
    The precious “Lamb of God”
    There is no other name under heaven or earth
    Only Jeus, only Yeshua
    It began as a whisper, a sigh
    A shout, now many are shouting
    Jesus, Yeshua
    The valley resounds
    The name crashes mountains
    Rolls down hillls, dances on the wind
    Jesus, Yeshua our beloved Lord
    Our Lamb of God is coming
    Jesus, Yeshua
    We run to the name
    We run to the beloved Lamb of God

    “It is the name of the Lord
    That people run to
    It is the name of the Lord
    Jesus, Yeshua
    There is no other name”

    When we lift up the name of Jesus
    He has promised to draw
    all men unto Him
    He does the drawing
    His precious name
    Dipped in blood
    His name alone
    No other
    Jesus, Yeshua
    How I love that name!

    Last night on our evening news.
    A young girl committed suicide on line
    I believe on you tube
    She had been bullied for 3 years.
    Even changing schools etc.
    She and her parents tried everything
    But in the end she chose death.
    She said she only wanted someone to care, to love her.
    It was tragic and sad and it broke my heart.

    Even though I do not post all the time
    I am reading
    The Lord is showing me how precious I am to Him
    That I am forgiven
    Somedays I have no one to talk to but the Lord
    And I mean literally no one.

    But I praise God
    I sing, I shout, I dance in my living room
    I love my Lord and He loves me.
    I wish and pray that for everyone.

    In Christ alone I stand
    All other ground is sinking sand
    All other ground is sinking sand.

    In Christ

  12. I wanted to real quick jump on and post the link to the optional sermon–in case anyone wants to be able to read the transcript 😉

  13. 8. What is your take-a-way and why?

    “If the faith whereby I have laid hold on Christ to be my Savior be altogether wrought in me by the Holy Ghost through grace, then I defy the devil to take away that which he never gave me or to crush that which Jehovah Himself created in me. I defy my free will to fling what it never brought to me. What God has given, created, introduced, and established in the heart, He will maintain there.”-Charles Spurgeon

    This has been a beautiful passage to study. For me, it has been a strong encouragement of the assurance we have as believers. We cannot lose what we did not attain on our own. Our salvation, a gift from God, is based on Jesus. It’s an unconditional, irrevocable, undeserved gift. I think the enemy uses passages such as this to have believers focus on our weaknesses, and doubt Who, Whose we are. But the passages are here to encourage—we are HIS. We are chosen and cannot be un-chosen. We know we will struggle, He has told us that many times. But struggle does not mean we have lost our identity—it is part of sharing in His identity—as the One who fought the greatest of all battles. The trials enrich the fruit, they do not negate them. Those who proclaim to be believers will not bear fruit—it may look like fruit, but it will be plastic. It will fall away at the time of trials.

    “You would not have called to me unless I had been calling to you,” said the Lion-CS Lewis

    1. Elizabeth, I love your takeaway. Sorry I have not been able to participate in the discussion, but I agree with what you are saying here. I was just listening to CS Lewis’ “The Silver Chair” as I was travelling to Krista’s place this week where you got your quote from Aslan. Love it.

      I just glanced out my windows here in New Brunswick and we had our first heavy frost last night and all your talk of fruit reminded me of how some grape growers in this part of the world wait for the first frost to make ice wine. Just as you can’t have ice wine without frost, suffering makes a more concentrated purer Christian, I think.

      I am not a “drinker”, having been raised in a very strong teetotaller tradition (long story but some of you may understand my Baptist roots here), but the concept of ice wine intrigues me. Here is the Wikipedia definition: “Ice wine (or icewine; German Eiswein) is a type of dessert wine produced from grapes that have been frozen while still on the vine. The sugars and other dissolved solids do not freeze, but the water does, allowing a more concentrated grape must to be pressed from the frozen grapes, resulting in a smaller amount of more concentrated, very sweet wine. With ice wines, the freezing happens before the fermentation, not afterwards…. This gives ice wine its characteristic refreshing sweetness balanced by high acidity.”

      Keep up with the Spurgeon quotes, Elizabeth. Love them!

      1. oh Diane–I am so drawn to your wise heart. I read your posts and imagine I am just sitting there listening and could sit for hours!
        I’m not a drinker either, but the ice wine analogy is incredible-I have never heard of that before. It is so profound–I keep re-reading the definition. I hope Dee and others see this. “a type of dessert wine produced from grapes that have been frozen while still on the vine”–what an incredible picture, as you said, of the sweetness produced when Christians, still clinging to the Vine, endure suffering.

        I’m praying for your family Diane–it seems you all have been under such suffering. Praying for there to be fruit that comes forth from it all, He will not waste the suffering. Love to you all~

      2. Diane,
        Yup, understand the teetotaller tradition well 🙂 I like your analogy of ice wine to describe what suffering produces in believers. (and the wine sounds good! I’m up to about 1 glass/year — which would have appalled some friends and relatives!)

  14. Sorry for the length–and all the quoting!, but wanted to share these 2 from 2 different Spurgeon sermons on Hebrews 3. With these tough passages, it’s helped me to read older wisdom–these words have helped me see God’s heart in the passages:

    “No matter how hard, how insensible, how dead we may have become—let us go again in all the rags, and poverty, and
    defilement of our natural condition, and throw ourselves flat on our faces before His mighty Cross! “With all my sin, and all my hardness of heart,” let the Believer say, “I do believe that Jesus died for me.” Let him clasp that Cross! Let him look into those listless eyes! Let him bathe in that fountain filled with blood—this will bring back to him his First Love! This will restore the ancient holiness of his faith, and the former tenderness of his soul!
    To you who think that you never were converted, and probably never were—who have grown very hard, and fear
    you never could by any possibility melt in repentance—I give this exhortation, and O, may the Holy Spirit enable you to obey it. Come to Jesus you vilest of men! Laboring ones, heavy laden ones, come to Jesus! Black, foul, filthy, hardhearted ones, come to Jesus! He is able to save unto the uttermost them who come unto God by Him.”

    on Heb 3:18-19 “It was not through great sin in other respects although they were a sinful people. God was ready to forgive them everything else but unbelief; and had they but been willing and obedient, the times of their ignorance he would have winked at. He had provided sacrifices on purpose to take away sins of ignorance, and multitudes of sins besides; but nothing takes away the sin of unbelief, so long as it remains in the heart. Ye must be believers, or the blood of Jesus Christ itself shall never be sprinkled upon you to your cleansing. However great your sins may have been, all manner of sin and iniquity shall be forgiven unto you if you believe. The greatness of his sin shall shut no men out of heaven; unbelief alone, will stop the way.”

    1. Elizabeth,
      I love your take-away above and now these quotes from Spurgeon. They are so powerful, so rich. I love Spurgeon’s explanation that it is NOT any type of sin, or its magnitude, that shuts men out of heaven, but only unbelief. Love his continued exhortation to us all to come to the Cross. It is truly the answer to any problem we could have.

    2. Thanks, Elizabeth! Love the Spurgeon quotes.

  15. 4. Find the pattern to find the theme of Hebrews.

    A. What is the warning of Hebrews 2:1?

    I need to pay careful attention to what I have heard (the Word of God, the Truth of the Gospel) so that I do not drift away. (I think this also speaks to renewing our minds with the Word, daily, as it is so easy to drift in the culture in which we live)

    B. What is the warning of Hebrews 3:6?

    Hold on to my courage and the hope of which I boast. (Paul said that we boast in Jesus Christ)

    C. What is the warning of Hebrews 6:11-12?

    Life is going to be difficult. It requires diligence to the very end and that’s hard work -no room for spiritual laziness. Imitate those mature believers who through faith and patience inherit what was promised.

    D. What is the warning of Hebrews 10:23?

    Hold unswervingly to my hope in Christ. (Walk the straight path)

    E. What is the warning of Hebrews 10:35?

    Don’t throw away my confidence.

    F. What is the warning of Hebrews 12:1?

    Throw off everything that hinders me spiritually and take sin seriously – it only entangles me and trips me up so I can’t move forward. I am to run the race (of my life) with perseverance. I find it interesting that there is a “race marked out for us”. It must be God who has “marked out” each of our courses that we must run.
    Wow. This is really good for me to remember. How I often look at someone else’s race that they’re running, and I want what they have. Kind of reminds me of watching runners when they race. You can’t cross the line and get into someone else’s lane, you have to stay in your own lane. (or be disqualified)
    I think this would be a big thing that hinders me spiritually – wanting to be in someone else’s lane instead of running the course God has marked out for me. Wasting time whining to God, “Why didn’t You bless me like that….or give me that gift….or why do I deserve this trial…”

    G. What is the assurance of Hebrews 13:20-21?

    Part of my assurance is remembering who God is, and what His promises are. He is the God of peace. He made an eternal covenant with us through the blood of His Son. Jesus has been raised, and He is my Great Shepherd.
    Going back to the race analogy, God has my life-course marked out. He knows the trials and sufferings that will happen. Therefore, He has equipped me with everything I need to stay in my lane and run. It’s like if my course included muddy, slippery places, He’d make sure I have the right running shoes with spikes so I wont slip. If He knew there would be times of rain and cold, He’d make sure I had a warm, waterproof jacket.
    He says I can’t change lanes, but He gives me everything I need to run where I am placed, and all the while He is working through my trials to mold me and shape me into someone who pleases Him.

    1. oh Susan–I feel like the Lord just led me to come see this right now-just for me–
      “Therefore, He has equipped me with everything I need to stay in my lane and run. It’s like if my course included muddy, slippery places, He’d make sure I have the right running shoes with spikes so I wont slip. If He knew there would be times of rain and cold, He’d make sure I had a warm, waterproof jacket.
      He says I can’t change lanes, but He gives me everything I need to run where I am placed, and all the while He is working through my trials to mold me and shape me into someone who pleases Him.”

      This just hit me EXACTLY where i am today–oh, tears, wow.

  16. I was reading a commentary and came across the following which I found quite helpful…

    (3:11) “But by ‘unbelief’ here, I do not mean the doubts of a sincere person who really wants to know God. I mean the opposite. The people whom Moses led were not sincere. They did not want to have a relationship with God. And their problem was not really doubt. They knew about God. Their problem was the decisions that they chose to make about him. They refused to accept his authority over their lives.”

    (3:13) “We pretend that we control our own lives. So we imagine that we do not need God’s help. Or we think that he is not really powerful. When we think such thoughts, sin deceives us. Or, we could say that we have deceived ourselves. The problem is in our own hearts and minds. We have a wrong attitude that we do not want to change. That is what the Bible calls ‘a hard heart’.”

    (3:17) “God is not a God who wants to be angry with people. He forgives every kind of wrong thing that his people do (Exodus 34:6-7). But he cannot forgive people who do not want him to forgive them. He cannot forgive people who are proud of their evil deeds. He cannot forgive people who constantly refuse to accept his love. Against such people, God is a strict judge. He always does what is right. They are guilty, so they will certainly know his punishment.”

    I just wanted to also mention, that John Piper’s sermon transcripts definitely gave me much food for thought.

    Thanks, Elizabeth and Diane for your additional thoughts.

    By the way, although I don’t know Krista or all the circumstances involved in her situation, I feel drawn to pray for her. Every time I hear Laura Story’s “Blessings” Krista is brought to mind and prayer.

    My take away is that our heart tells it all…am I working out my relationship with God that might involve momentary doubts, etc. but given my best heart efforts or am I merely adding Him on to my plate (so to speak) as I would another item on a buffet with little care, thought, or love? If it is the prior, God will not let me go; He will work with me through the hills and valleys of faith well aware of my faults and sinful nature but my sincere yearning for relationship. If my relationship with God is the later, then I wasn’t really into it in the first place. (and when all is said and done, this is pretty much what John Piper said in other words.)

  17. 5. Read Hebrews 3:7-19. This is an illustration of all the warnings above. What is it?

    Wow, this is a lot. I am trying to put this into context that Hebrews was written to those who professed faith in Christ (many truly saved, some who probably were not) but were being persecuted. As Keller said, they were finding out that being a Christian meant their lives were marginalized in many ways. They were under pressure to return to the old ways of Judaism, the sacrifices, the innumerable rules and regulations. They were wavering in their belief that Christ alone was enough to save them.

    They are exhorted to listen, to pay attention, and to do it TODAY. The longer they continue on in doubt, the danger is a hardened heart. The writer compares them with the Israelites that Moses led out of Egypt. They saw miracle after miracle performed by God, yet persisted in their unbelief and MISTRUST of God, that He would really take care of them. They wanted to go back to their old ways, to go back to Egypt, back to slavery. This angered God so that He swore they would not enter His rest, they would not enter the Promised Land. I think the writer is making a parallel with the Land and heaven. So, too, those who would fall away and return to Judaism because of their unbelief would prove that they really did not place their trust in Jesus.

    Those who are really His will “hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first”.

    But these examples are not just for those who lived in the past. The warnings are relevant to us today, for us to examine ourselves. The example of the children of Israel’s continued unbelief and lack of trust was recorded to stand for all time as a warning. But I love that even in these hard words, there is hope. If one finds himself looking more like one of those ancient Israelites, he can, if He hears the voice of the Spirit, turn and repent…but he must do it quickly, as the longer he ignores the Spirit, the more entrenched he will be in his doubt and unbelief.

  18. 8. What is your take-a-way and why?

    My takeaway is how this passage both assures us as believers yet also warns those who profess they are but aren’t. It is a two fold message. I especially loved Elizabeth’s assurance takeaway, she said it so concise and beautifully. I also LOVED her Spurgeon quotes-I am printing them and posting them in my home!

    Simply stated I was encouraged again in assurance that I am His based on what He has done-not on what I have done and I am so thankful I am unable to ‘walk away’-and thankful I haven’t ever had the desire to. 🙂 I can’t take credit for anything though-even my desire to run the race with perseverance!

    My hope is in Him and this passage also encouraged me to rest in the assurance I am His-rest in His Grace. His peace flows like a river inside-and that too is incomprehensible-hard to explain. His love compels me to love and He gets the credit for any fruit in my life. He is my life, my identity, and His love melts my heart and He is faithful to reveal the stony areas of my heart that lack compassion and Grace toward others.

    Another thing God brought to mind and something I am praying about is to be careful not to try to judge who isn’t in Him. Yet I was encouraged when Dee and Inka both reminded me when I am with someone who doesn’t know him or who may think they do to ask God to show me what it is that is holding them back.

  19. Optional sermon…focusing on the IF…condition for being something now. We are God’s house if we hold fast confidence and hope in God. It is so frustrating to see this false security in the south…it depends on the Holy Spirits persevering grace! He will complete the work He started in me or I am done for. Love that! My heart hurts for the Israelites and their stubbornness. I want to be certain I am not like that.

    assigned sermon//take charge of heart…I need to take charge of that more with my kids!! And that there is no coasting…Like what he says about all of this.I see so many who seem to be coasting.

    Do you treat it like a vaccination or relationship? Safe from hell or relationship with the one who has keys from hell?

  20. I liked Piper but I guess I get his heart?? Anyway, my take away is still pondering the verse 3 of Hebrews 1:1-3 how Jesus is the exact representation of the Father. It just warms my heart even reading the hard things in Scripture. All is meant for us to be restored or pointed to HIM. All. So all is grace. Many will reject it but to those whose eyes He has opened it is beautiful. I love this picture of God, though He is perfect holiness in flesh He looked so approachable and He was that is the kind of Father we serve. He is completely approachable through Christ.

  21. My take-away: God is bigger than my questions. I seemed to come full circle, sorta back to where I started — that I want more insight; I think there is a bigger picture that I am missing

    Just got back to town. I’ve spent several hours on the road yesterday and today and downloaded some stuff to listen to before I left. A couple hours included speaking and Q & A by Keller. The recordings were not at all what I expected (based on the title), but they were excellent. Interestingly, in the middle of the Q & A at the U of Chicago, someone asked him if he thought a person could lose his/her salvation. He very briefly (about 1 sentence) shared what he believed, said he was a Presbyterian minister, and that if he talked to someone “one-to-one,” they would understand what he believed. But he also said that he was there to talk about Christianity, not Presbyterianism. I am curious how he would explain the passages in Hebrews; the audience/setting was unique; I’m hoping I can find somewhere he addresses the passages.

    In the Q & A, he also discussed responding to passages in Scripture that seemed to contradict each other or appeared to be in error (and had at least one good example). I didn’t realize that C.S. Lewis believed that the Bible includes errors. I disagree with that, but there is a lot I don’t understand.

  22. 6. How would you pray or counsel the person who thinks he is saved because of a prayer or because of being baptized, but has neglected God?

    This is really hard, I think I’d really pray for a lot of wisdom and discernment first. The last thing I want to do is plant seeds of doubt in someone who really is saved, but perhaps going through a desert time, or is a baby Christian. I’ve had periods, especially as a new Christian, where I just didn’t really know everything I was “supposed” to be doing. So you become a Christian, but you need to be discipled and mentored to learn how to live the Christian life. I never was discipled – that’s part of the problem of being in a large 2000+ member church – the pastors don’t know everyone personally, and if you walk out the door and never come back, no one even misses you! On top of that, when your family wonders if you’ve “gone off the deep end”, and you get no encouragement at home, it’s really tough. I lived there for a lot of years. In my new church, I am just starting to experience “community”, being known personally, and it’s taken a year for that.

    Now if this person was continually living in open sin, yet told me that he was saved because of a prayer, etc…., I would probably take him to 1 John, and say let’s look at some Scripture about sin…not that we don’t still sin, but if it’s a continual, habitual pattern and it doesn’t even bother you, you feel no conviction about it…
    I’d ask a lot of questions and try to be a really good listener.

  23. 7. I just finished listening to the first of John Piper’s sermons. I liked it very much; I both listened and read the narrative, but the narrative leaves out a lot of “extra” things he says. He is a passionate preacher. I like how passionate he is about every message being a salvation message. Good examples he gives were the vaccination metaphor, “How many of you thought about your polio vaccination this morning?” Jesus is not an innoculation against hell, and then we forget Him. He also made such a good point about how much we need community because every day we are bombarded with thoughts that slip in and say that this or that is better than Bible, better than church, why don’t you just forget about that stuff and do this…we need to encourage each other daily. This tells me that I NEED YOU GUYS! Being on this blog helps keep me close to Him. Just this summer, someone close to me said, “Why don’t you take a break from Bible study?” And I said to them, “Would you like me to say to you that I’m going to take a break from you and not talk to you say, for a couple of months?”
    But this is what we’re hit with every day – “take a break from God…you don’t really need to talk to Him every day, do you? Isn’t there something better you could be doing with your time?”

    8. What is your take-away and why?

    My take-away is to “take-away”….all of this. It’s not a wrapped-up, finished thing for this week. As we continue on in Hebrews, this will be a repeated theme. There are assurances, there are warnings. As Piper pointed out, this book is addressed to “Brethren -brothers and sisters”. There are both in their midst. I don’t think you can pull out any particular passages and say, this is about eternal security. I’d like to remember to put myself in the original hearers position as it was read to them. This letter speaks assurance and warning, it speaks about self-examination. But, as we’ve learned, there is a Hero in this book, Jesus.

    1. Love your comments on the sermon, Susan, as I will not have a chance to listen to them now. You encourage me to listen to his perspective.

      I especially LOVE your thoughts on the importance of Christian community and Bible study (both in church and on this blog.) So true! I NEED YOU GUYS, too. “He also made such a good point about how much we need community because every day we are bombarded with thoughts that slip in and say that this or that is better than Bible, better than church, why don’t you just forget about that stuff and do this…we need to encourage each other daily. This tells me that I NEED YOU GUYS! Being on this blog helps keep me close to Him. Just this summer, someone close to me said, “Why don’t you take a break from Bible study?” And I said to them, “Would you like me to say to you that I’m going to take a break from you and not talk to you say, for a couple of months?”
      But this is what we’re hit with every day – “take a break from God…you don’t really need to talk to Him every day, do you? Isn’t there something better you could be doing with your time?”

  24. NO ! The 2 places referred to are Hebrews 6 :4-6 & Hebrews 10: 26-27….both of these scriptures are people who have heard the Gospel and rejected Jesus.The “Judizers”. If these Verses were what they “seem” to appear to be in the opinion of some, then HEAVEN would be ablosolutley desolate forever, because we ALL SIN WILLFULLY, Romans 3:10-23.
    Actully Hebrews teaches the exact opposite. See Hebrews 10:10-12 jusst for 1. But Read the whole book of Hebrews and you will find to your pleasant surprise that Hebrews is one of the most comforting books when it comes to the believer’s assurance of salvation through faith in Jesus that there is in the Bible.
    Back to Hebrews 6….see hebrews 6:13-20…..in KJB or in the New Living Translation or any version you have.

    See Also Romans 4:5-8 & 2 Cor. 5:19 about future sins and the “BELIEVER”.

    TRUST JESUS, not the fearful and the Hypocrites. 2 Timothy 1:7

  25. I have given a full explanation of why this cannot be what it appears to be at first glance in Heb 6:4-6 & Heb 10:26-27.

    AND let me add btw that if these 2 lone verses were loss of salvation then they would totally contrdict the totallity of scripture to the contrary. No….. these are only the Judizers who “TASTED” of he good things of the Gospel BUT they did NOT “SHALLOW IT”. In other words they “rejected CHRIST” and returned to “Judaism” and the “LAW”.
    Again read the ENTIRE book of HEBREWS and you will not find a MORE comforting book as far as the believer’s assurance of salvation from God, “IN CHRIST”.

    Trust our SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST…and NOT the worriers, fear mongers and hypocrites. Numbers 23:19