1. Warning (verses 4-6)
2. Illustration (verses 7-8)
3. Counsel (verses 9-12)

We come today to one of the most debated passages in all of Scripture. It almost has a name for itself. It's called, "Hebrews 6." I remember speaking with a friend of mine recently. The topic came up that I was preaching through Hebrews. He said, "Have you preached Hebrews 6 yet?" He knew of the controversy surrounding this verse. He was curious to know exactly how I had handled it. Well, that was several months ago. This morning, I am finally preaching Hebrews 6. Here's our passage.

Hebrews 6:4-12
For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame. For ground that drinks the rain which often falls on it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God; but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned.

But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation, though we are speaking in this way. For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints. And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

The big debate in this passage has to deal with the nature of the gospel. When someone comes to faith in Christ, can they lose their salvation? Or, will God keep them to the end? Are we secure in the arms of God? Or, will we not know until the final day whether we have made it or not.

Perhaps you know some people who have walked with the Lord for some time, but now are not. At one time, they seemed so fired up about Jesus, but now they are far from Him. Do you know people like this? When I begin to think about this, names and faces flood my mind. Thinking about them challenges my mind regarding the reality of their faith. What happened to these people? Did they lose their faith? Did they lose their salvation? Or, did they ever have it in the first place? These are the sorts of questions that Hebrews 6 begins to answer.

There are some who take these verses and interpret them to mean that we can lose our salvation. There are others who read these verses and say that you cannot lose your salvation. Regardless of how you take these verses (whether you can lose your salvation or not), the main message of this text comes loud and clear. Let us not miss the forest for the sake of the trees. "Don't Fall Away!" The state of those who fall away is not good, so don't go there. Everyone believes that you can fall away. The big question of the text is this: what do you fall away from? Do you fall away from salvation? Or, do you fall away from a mere profession? In either case, the results are tragic. We ought to pray and seek the Lord that such things will never happen to us.

Let's dig into our text. My first point is this:
1. Warning (verses 4-6)

This warning comes in verses 4-6. The writer describes a certain group of people. There are six things that are true about these people. You can see the first of them in verse 4, ...

a. They have been enlightened (verse 4).
b. They have tasted of the heavenly gift (verse 4).
c. They have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit (verse 4).
d. They have tasted the good word of God (verse 5).
e. They have tasted the powers of the age to come (verse 5).
f. They have fallen away (verse 6).

For these people, according to verse 6, "It is impossible to renew them again to repentance." In other words, for them, their hope is lost. They no longer have an opportunity to know the grace of God, and the reason is simple. They came so close, and rejected it all. And God is thereby done with them.

Such a reality might seem harsh. It may even seem un-God-like. But, such a reality is throughout the Scripture. I give you two examples. The first is what took place with the people of Israel. They had seen the plagues (Exodus 7-13). They had seen the LORD divide the Red Sea (Exodus 14). They had seen the bitter water made sweet (Exodus 15). They had eaten the manna God provided (Exodus 16). They had seen the water come out of the rock (Exodus 17). When they went to the precipice of the promised land and refused to take it by faith, the LORD said, "I'm done with these people."

God said, "Your corpses will fall in this wilderness. ... According to the number of days which you spied out the land, forty days, for every day you shall bear your guilt a year, even forty years, and you will know My opposition. I, the LORD, have spoken, surely this I will do to all this evil congregation who are gathered together against Me. In this wilderness they shall be destroyed, and there they will die" (Num 14:29, 34-35). God was done with them. They had seen so much, and yet still rebelled in unbelief. God had tolerated their rebellion long enough. He said that they were going to die in the wilderness. And die they did. Once that pronouncement was made, there was no turning back.

This is similar to Jesus and the Pharisees. They had seen the miracles of Jesus with their own eyes. They had seen Jesus cleanse the leper (Matt. 8:1-4). They had seen Jesus heal the centurion's servant (Matt. 8:5-13). They had heard about how the fever left Peter's mother-in-law (Matt. 8:14-17). They had heard of Jesus healing the Gerasene demoniac (Matt. 8:28-34). They had seen Jesus heal the paralytic (Matt. 9:2-8). They had seen a hemorrhaging woman healed instantly (Matt. 9:20-22). They had seen a little girl raised from the dead (Matt. 9:23-25). They had seen the blind receive their sign (Matt. 9:27). They had seen the dumb able to speak (Matt. 9:32-33). They had seen Jesus cast demons out of people (Matt. 9:33; 12:22). And when the crowd cried out, "Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel," (Matt. 9:33), the Pharisees were saying, "He casts out the demons by the ruler of the demons" (Matt. 9:34). When all the crowds were amazed at Jesus saying, "This man cannot be the Son of David, can he?" (Matt. 9:23), the Pharisees said, "This man casts out demons only by Beelzebul the ruler of the demons" (Matt. 9:24). To this, Jesus responded, ...

Matthew 12:25-32
Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself will not stand. If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then will his kingdom stand? If I by Beelzebul cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out? For this reason they will be your judges. But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. Or how can anyone enter the strong man's house and carry off his property, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house. He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters. Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.

In other words, to see Jesus this close and to watch all the miracles that He did, and then to identify His works as from the devil is simply too much. Your sin will never be forgiven.

Here's the principle that we see in Scripture: if you get so close to Jesus and see His works, and then turn your back upon Him, your hope is gone. And that's what we see here in Hebrews 6. We see people close to Jesus in that they are close to the people of God. We see them hearing the gospel and understanding it. We see them witnessing the blessings of those who walk with God. We see them sharing in the blessings of the Holy Spirit. We see them discovering the treasures of the word of God. We see them experiencing the miracles taking place among God's people. And then, we see them reject it all.

For such people, we see that it is "impossible to renew them again to repentance" (verse 6). Why? Because they "again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame." In other words, the falling away of this context isn't merely indifference to the gospel or confusion about what's really true. Falling away isn't a lapse into sin like some moral failure. No, the falling away in this passage is when people turn away and repudiate the whole thing. They deny Jesus. They affirm that it was good that He was crucified. They say that Jesus is not a worthy savior. And our God is such that He will not tolerate such openhanded rebellion from those who have seen so much. Rather, He will leave them lost in their sin.

They are a bit like those Paul speaks about in Romans, chapter 1. They see God in the creation. They know of his "eternal power and divine nature" (Rom. 1:20). And yet, they turned away from God and the creation, pursuing their own sin instead. God merely gives them over to their own passions (Rom. 1:24, 26, 28). In Romans 1:28 we read, "Just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper."

And that's the case that we see here in Hebrews 6. It's impossible to renew them again to repentance (verse 6), not so much because God can't restore them, but because God won't restore them. They have come too far. They have seen too much, and they have rejected it all, thereby insulting God. Hebrews 6:6 says they "put Him to open shame." God won't have it.

Let me remind you that these verses flow quite naturally from verse 3, "And this we will do [that is, we will continue on to maturity] ... if God permits." In verse 4, the writer begins to show an instance where God doesn't permit spiritual maturity to take place. He doesn't permit a sinner to come to Him. He lets them go their own way.

At this point in my message, I will tip my hand here in these matters and say that I do not believe that you can lose your salvation. I do not believe that these verses teach that you can. There is overwhelming testimony of Scripture that speaks of the security of the believer.

Romans 8:1
Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Romans 8:28-29
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;

Romans 8:38-39
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

1 Peter 1:5
who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

Jude 24-25
Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

John 6:35, 37
Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst. ... All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out."

John 10:27-29
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, 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.

Hebrews 9:15
For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.

Hebrews 10:14
For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.

Now, there are many that do believe that verses 4-6 are describing the truly saved individual. I don't think that they are. Here's why.

First of all, in this list, you don't see any sort of typical words that imply salvation. Nor do you see that they have been redeemed or regenerated or given life in Christ. You don't see anything like the new birth mentioned or justification. You see nothing of how they are made righteous or made holy. You hear nothing of them experiencing forgiveness or experiencing the grace of God--nothing of that sort. There are different images used.

Furthermore, you see nothing said of the fruit of the lives of these people. Nowhere in these verses do we see that these people, "believe." There's nothing about faith in these words. You see nothing of their love for God. Or, their love for the people of God. In fact, you can easily argue that these things were absent in their lives. I say this because of the contrast given in the verses following this warning. In verses 7 and 8, the writer gives an illustration, where the whole point is that rain-soaked ground that brings forth no fruit will be cast into the furnace. The obvious application is clear. Those described in verses 4-6 are like the rain-soaked ground that has brought forth no fruit. They will be cursed. They will be burned. Their fate is sealed. It is impossible "to renew them again to repentance" (verse 6). They had no fruit. They weren't real. To be sure, they had experienced a lot, but they had no fruit to testify to their salvation.

Furthermore, when the author comes to verses 9 and following he speaks of how the original readers of the letter were not like this at all. He said, "But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation" (verse 9). Notice the change in pronouns: "we" to "you." Verses 4-6 are talking in third person of those who abandoned the faith and had deserted the church. But, for the original recipients, he saw in them the things that are evident in the lives of those who believe in Christ. They had a love for God (verse 10). They put their love on display in how they ministered to others (verse 10). They had a hope in God (verse 11). They were those who had faith in the promises (verse 12). This is in contrast to those in verses 4-6.

Continuing on in the context, you see the writer's emphasis upon God's character. He promises salvation. He will keep his promises.

Hebrews 6:13-20
For when God made the promise to Abraham, since He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying, "I will surely bless you and I will surely multiply you." And so, having patiently waited, he obtained the promise. For men swear by one greater than themselves, and with them an oath given as confirmation is an end of every dispute. In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

These verses, I believe, ought to bear much weight on how the descriptions given in verses 4-6 are to be taken. I believe that they ought to be taken of non-believers, who have come close to Christ, but never fully believed on Him. They had heard of Jesus. They were attracted to Him. They came into the church and experienced many of the blessings of being a part of the covenant community of God. But, they never really embraced everything. Eventually, they fell away. Oh, they were close. But, then they abandoned it all.

They were like those told of in 1 John 2:19: "They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they were not of us." They were with the church. They experienced many of the blessings of being in the covenant community of God. But, they were not a believing member. And thus, they left, never to return again.

Let me show you how I take each of these phrases. These people had been ...

a. Enlightened.

"In the case of those who have once been enlightened" (verse 4). That is, the light of the gospel had shone on them. Something had taken place in their mind. In Hebrews 10:32, the term is used to denote the beginnings of salvation. But, I don't believe that the term must be used to describe those who are saved.

For instance, when Jesus came into the world, he was the fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah that said, "The people were sitting in darkness saw a great light. And those who were sitting in the land and shadow of death upon them a light dawned." (Matt. 4:16; Is. 9:2; 60:1-3). This doesn't imply that everyone who saw the light believed.

At the beginning of John's gospel, we read that Jesus "was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man" (John 1:9). But, this doesn't necessarily imply salvation upon every man. It simply means this: these people had come to the realization that Jesus was the Messiah. They saw it. It had dawned upon them. They were enlightened to this knowledge. But, they didn't embrace it to the end of believing Him and trusting Him.

b. Tasted of the heavenly gift.

There is a bit of a debate of exactly what the heavenly gift is. It's probably not the Holy Spirit, as He is mentioned in the next phrase. It may be Christ, who is called by Paul "the indescribable gift" (2 Cor. 9:15). It may be salvation, which is called by Paul "the gift of God" (Eph. 2:8-9).

Whatever it may be, it denotes the kindness of God, which is the point. These people had tasted of God's kindness in some way. They had tasted of God's kindness in Christ. They had tasted of God's kindness in salvation which was all around them.

I do believe that it is significant that the word used here is "tasted." They never swallowed the heavenly gift. They never devoured the heavenly gift. They merely tasted of it.

When you go to the ice cream store and look into the tubs of ice cream, you may see there a flavor that you have never experienced before. "Superfudge Truffle." You say, "Oh, that looks good." And then, you ask, "May I taste it?" And the teenager behind the counter takes a little pink spoon and scoops out a portion for you to taste. Oh, It's not enough to fully satisfy you, but it is a enough to get a feel for what a whole scoop would taste like. [1]

I believe that this is the thrust of the passage here. They only tasted God's kindnesses. Jesus said, "Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves" (John 6:53). Salvation is eating and drinking Christ. It's getting a whole scoop, not just a little taste, which this phrase appears to represent.

c. Made partakers of the Holy Spirit.

This phrase can easily be translated, "shared in the Holy Spirit" as the ESV and NIV does. I believe that this carries the idea of the phrase.

Being in the church and around the people of God brings with it many blessings. One of which is that the Spirit, who indwells the body, overflows in His blessings. The Spirit is in you. Anyone in the church, whether they be a believer or not, is surrounded by the Spirit. And in a very real way, they share in the Spirit with others.

d. Tasted the good word of God.

This phrase clearly indicates that they were around the covenant community of God. They were gathering with the church each Sunday morning. They were hearing the word of God proclaimed. They heard the word of God spoken informally by others. If possible, they were reading the word of God, and they liked it.

But, listening to good preaching isn't any special sign of spirituality. George Whitefield was a great evangelist in the 1700's. He went everywhere he could and preached the gospel to countless multitudes. His biggest fan was Benjamin Franklin, by no means a Bible-believing Christian. David Hume, the Scottish skeptic and atheist, would race off at five in the morning to hear Whitefield preach. When asked if he believed in the message that George Whitefield preached, he replied "No, but he does!" [2] Such is the attraction of preaching. It can catch the minds of the unsaved.

There is something very attractive, even to those in the world, when a gifted preacher puts forth the truth with passion and clarity. King Herod, "used to enjoy listening to [John the Baptist]" (Mark 6:20). Herod was far from a godly man. He eventually lopped off John's head. But, he loves his preaching.

I believe there are many who will hear the word gladly, even if they aren't believing in Christ. Such is the case of those identified in verse 5. I trust that you can see how close these people were to Christ.

e. Tasted the powers of the age to come.

I believe that this has reference to the working of God in the church. They had tasted that God answers prayer. They had tasted that God provides resources. They had tasted how God heals the sick, gives joy in suffering, transforms lives of sinners, and gives peace among the brethren. They witnessed good marriages and righteous children. They experienced what it was like to live among wise people who make wise choices as God imparted His wisdom to His people. They tasted love abounding among the brethren. They saw how God was leading people to give their lives for others and to act humbly in all ways. They experienced the patience that God gives us when we are wronged and the strength to forgive.

These types of things are in the church all the time. And these people had tasted it all! People can be non-believing, and yet taste of the powers of God when mixing closely with the people of God.

f. Fallen away.

These people have fallen away in that they have left the church and are no longer interested in the things of God. They have left Jesus behind. They have turned hostile against Him. Oh, it may have excited them for a time, and they may have seen some benefits in their lives, but now they have left the community.

They have turned their backs on all of the blessings of God. Perhaps they have gone back to their sin. Perhaps, as is the case most likely for the original hearers, they have gone back to the Jewish way of life, trusting in the priests and sacrifices and festivals and external conformity to the law of God.

I don't believe that they have fallen away from salvation. In verse 6, it says that it's impossible to renew them again to "repentance." It doesn't say that it's impossible to renew them again to "salvation." Indeed, I believe that they never quite had it. Oh, they experienced lots. But, they never really arrived.

To abandon God in this ways is to bring him to open shame. It's to say that His ways aren't good enough.

At this point, I do want to comment upon those who say that these six phrases in verses 4-6 are describing the true Christian. For those who say such things, they must believe that such people can never come back. Because, it is impossible to renew them again. "Once lost, always lost." They can't come back! Often, this is not the case with those who say that these people lose their salvation.

2. Illustration (verses 7-8)

This comes in verses 7-8. Again, I believe that this illustrates what was just spoken in verses 4-6.

Hebrews 6:7-8
For ground that drinks the rain which often falls on it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God; but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned.

Picture with me a field in which seeds have been planted. The conditions for plant-life are perfect. The soil is fertile. There's enough sunlight. The temperature has been plenty hot. Humidity is in the air. The rain has come in abundance. The workers have been in the field fertilizing and cultivating the ground. And when the harvest comes, it brings forth the vegetation desired. In this case, there is much joy. The harvest is brought in. The planting has been successful. That's verse 7.

But, now, consider the opposite. The seeds have been sown. The soil is fertile. There's enough sunlight. The temperature has been plenty hot. Humidity is in the air. The rain has come in abundance. The workers have been in the field cultivating and fertilizing the ground. And when the harvest comes, it brings forth only thorns and thistles - totally worthless. In this case, there is little joy, as their labors have gone for nothing. That's verse 8.

This is the illustration that the author uses to explain verses 4-6. There are those who are like the good soil. In their case, the good things of God come to them, like the gospel, like the heavenly gift, like the Holy Spirit, like the word of God, like the power of God. And they take these things, and they bear fruit for God. They believe the gospel. They trust in Jesus. They have a love for Christ. They have a love for His people. They have a love for His word. They see the fruit of the Spirit working in their lives. They aren't merely sharing the Spirit with others; He's living and active in their lives. They have joy. They see sin decreasing. They see their holy passions developing in them. Those bearing fruit on the good soil will be blessed of God (verse 7).

But, there are those who are like the bad soil. In their case, the good things of God come to them, like the gospel, like the heavenly gift, like the Holy Spirit, like the word of God, like the power of God. They take these things and enjoy them for a season, but they eventually reject them all. They turn their back on the gospel. God's kindness to them in the heavenly gift is returned. They have no regard for the Holy Spirit. The word of God has begun to bore them. The power of God has not convinced them. The tragic end of these people is that they are "close to being cursed, and they end up being burned." This is what it means that they are not turned again to repentance. Their life will end in judgment.

I believe that the people described in verses 4-6 is the ground that yields thorns and thistles. Seeds sown here have every advantage to grow, but don't. You can't help, but to think about how parallel this illustration is to the parable that Jesus told about the sower. He said, ...

Matthew 13:3-9
Behold, the sower went out to sow; and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up. Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. Others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out. And others fell on the good soil and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear.

In that parable, there were four soils. One of the soils was completely hard. The seed couldn't possibly grow on it. But, on three of the other soils, the seeds grew up very well. They all sprouted and began to grow. On two of them, the soil was unable to sustain the plants. They were either dried up because they had no root. Or, they were choked out because of the other weeds that grew around it. But, only one of the soils brought the seed to the place where it bore fruit.

And I do believe that this parallel comes over for us nicely into the illustration here used in Hebrews 6. You have plants growing up on both soils. But, only one of them bears fruit. The other bears no fruit. Oh, these people grew, but they never bore fruit. They were never saved. You have to reflect this back upon the descriptions of those given in verses 4-6. They depict the ground that yields thorns and thistles. And it is fruit that gives testimony of the reality of their salvation.

Well, let's go on to my last point this morning. We've seen the Warning (verses 4-6). We've seen the Illustration (verses 7-8) And now, we come to the ...
3. Counsel (verses 9-12)

At this point the writer becomes pastoral. This is where I want to end this morning. He turns to speak with the readers. There are times when people hear these things and they fall into deep depression, thinking that this has happened to them. There's no room any longer for repentance! If you are thinking those thoughts, then, this probably isn't you. Because those who arrive at such a circumstance don't often have hearts that are soft enough really to care about these things.

Now, hear the writer's heart, ...

Hebrews 6:9
But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation, though we are speaking in this way.

Though talking of the perils of falling away, he comes now and gives assurance to his readers. "We are speaking of tragic realities. But, we don't see these things in you." We are convinced that you have the things that accompany salvation.

Hebrews 6:10
For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints.

In effect, the writer is saying, "God has seen what you have done. He has seen the way that you have loved Him. You love Him by loving the brethren, and you have ministered to them greatly. When some were in need of help, you gave them help. When their food pantry was low, you delivered a bag of groceries to them. When others needed a place to stay, you took them in. When they needed some transportation, you gave them a ride. When they were in financial need, you gave them money. You prayed for them. You rejoiced with them. You read the word of God with them."

This is true ministry: serving one another. The ministry is not going to some event. The ministry is serving others in their need. Do you have it? Can you think of people in need when you have helped?

As those things were taking place in the life of the people, the writer to the Hebrews was given assurance that they were not those who were falling away. But, that's not a call to say, "Whew, we made it!" And so to sit back and sip lemonade for the rest of your life. The Christian life is a fight.

At the end of his life, Paul said, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith" (2 Tim. 4:7). He told Timothy to "Fight the good fight of faith." (1 Tim. 6:12). This is the call of our text, ...

Hebrews 6:11-12
And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

We are called to a diligent pursuit of God. We are called to diligently pursue our hope.

The Olympic athlete, who has a dream to get the gold, will diligently pursue the goal. He will set the goal in front of him. He will remind himself of the goal. He will work hard to remember the goal, so that in the tough times, he will keep going.

The Christian life is much the same. We set our hope before us every day. We are to remind ourselves of the hope. We are to work hard to remember the hope we have, so that in the tough times, we will be powered to keep going. Philippians 3:14 says, "I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." There's no room for sluggishness in the Christian life (verse 12). But, rather, we are to have faith and patience.

This sermon was delivered to Rock Valley Bible Church on February 28, 2010 by Steve Brandon.
For more information see www.rvbc.cc.

[1] I am indebted to Arturo Azurdia for this illustration.

[2] See http://stevenjcamp.blogspot.com/2007/07/george-whitefield-portrait-of-revival.html.