Warning About Unbelief

Title: Warning About Unbelief

Bible Book: Hebrews 3 : 7-19

Author: Jerry N. Watts

Subject: Faith; Unbelief; Doubt


In the supplement of the Fredericksburg Bible, there is a story which is told in "first-person" by a preacher which goes like this. A wealthy merchant of Philadelphia, who would not listen to the gospel message in health, sent for me at his death-bed. I told him: "I have nothing now to tell you. You are a sinner, and here is a Savior. Do you feel your guilt, and will you take a Savior?" "No. There must be some better place than hell for a man of my respectability."

It is sad to say, but this has become the modern day mantra which governs the hearts of many people. Suffice to say, this philosophy (along with other modern day philosophies) do not line up with the Bible. God word is quite clear about eternity for those who do not believe and offers us warnings. These warnings include unbelief in Jesus as savior as well as unbelief in the workings of God beyond salvation.

Our text offers us two thoughts about unbelief.

I. The Way We Go Through Life

Our text refers to that familiar story of the Children of Israel's exodus from Egypt. God had promised a land flowing with milk and honey and they were excited about the prospect of having a homeland. For over 400 years the Israelite people lived in Egypt under the oppressive hand of the Pharaohs and were excited about getting a HOME. Yet as He often does, God brought the Israelites to a place of decision, a place of testing to check on their "belief" in Him. God frequently does this to see if we have enough faith in Him and yet feel a sense of responsibility to Him. God had given them a promise, but somehow it never occurred to them that God expected them to believe in such a way that THEY would be involved in the work of taking the land. Candidly, He does the same in our lives and then He gives us a choice.

A. The Decisions We Come To

Nothing impacts us like our decisions. In verses 7-8 we see God pointing out the ëbad' decisions made by the Children of Israel. And this is where the difficulty starts. His call is for us to hear His voice and respond. When God speaks, He expects people to listen and respond to His voice. He expects us to respond, but He does give us a choice. When we don't respond like they didn't respond, it speaks of our unbelief in Him. Our decisions reveal our belief or unbelief. Today, "if" you hear His voice, don't decide to harden your heart.

If you do, you may well have the same out come the same way. They decided to be hard-hearted and disobey which God saw as rebellion resulting in a 40 year death walk. They were literally "dead men walking. With their rebellious decision they began a journey from which they would never return. Wonder how many times ëour' disobedience toward our Heavenly Father is seen as rebellion.

Our decisions chart our course through life and the dangers we face.

B. The Dangers We Walk Through

Candidly, the danger for a believer is frightening. If we yield to the temptations which our enemy places before us we will fail the test God places in our lives and as a result provoke God to anger. Think about the inherent dangers in this scenario. First, Satan gets his hooks in us because he lays out the bait, sets the trap, and pull us in. Anytime we succumb to him, it affects who we are, what we think, and what we do. King David is a prime example. Once he succumbed to the temptation to remain in Jerusalem he was on a greased banister sliding into the abyss of disobedience. Satan has his hooks in David and didn't want to let go - and didn't let go until forced to turn loose.

Next, consider that if we fail God's test of our faith (that is, our belief), it will anger God. In the 21st century many refuse to belief that God gets angry, because after all, God is love. Yet, the Bible tells us that our God's character is the same "yesterday, today, and forever." If this is true, why does the Old Testament record over 30 times God referring to "My Anger" and another 3 dozen times referring to "The Lord's Anger" or "God's Anger."

In several places, the Bible uses the term "burning anger." I submit that we don't want to anger God because it could be dangerous. Very little seems to anger God like unbelief. One of the many reasons is that God designed Heaven for His crown creation who believes. To not respond in belief to Him is to make the wrong choice.

C. The Destination We Choose

Read verse 11 with me, "So I (the Lord) swore in my anger, "They will not enter my rest." From Sunday School most of us recognize these words of Jehovah God as is related to the Children of Israel and certainly, the decision-makers of the Children of Israel made the decision to not go into God land of promise. By default, they decided to spend their aging years outside of God's best and literally to die in a place which was almost as bad as Egypt.

Kadesh Barnea is an interesting place for us. Consider that the Children of Israel followed God out of Egypt, through the Red Sea, by Sinai, watching the cloud during the day, and the fire by night. Until now, they had watched God step in and do the difficult work. In order to take the last step of the journey, they were confronted with a decision. What they decided would determine whether or not they would enter Canaan.

It is at this point that their belief is determined. If they do not believe, they do not get to go into "my rest." Let me draw a parallel.

With His Spirit, God leads us (you and me) out of our spiritual "Egypt." He clears out our Red Sea to direct us through while He takes care of the enemies which follow us. Remember, He is our read guard. (Isaiah 58:8). Then He continues to lead us by His spirit to our Kadesh Barnea which is symbolism for Calvary. As we stand there looking at the cross just like the Israelites looked at the Promised land, we are faced with a similar choice. Will we believe God's promises or will we trust the counsel of man? This is the choice which determines the course of our lives and the way we go.

Now, let move from the way we live to the warning for our life.

II. The Warnings We Get In Life

The Bible is full of warnings for us. Candidly, we tend to either overlook or not believe the warnings which God gives. For instance, "to whom much is given, much is required." If we truly believed that and recognized how much we have, then our lives would be entirely different. How about this one; "everyone outside of Christ will spend an eternity in a place called hell." If this was a deeply held belief, would it not require some action from us?

Let's look at the balance of this chapter and take to heart some warnings as encouragements.

A. Be Careful

Verse 12 begins with the words, "Watch out." If there ever was a two word warning, this is it. We tell our granddaughter this quite often. But consider the importance of this warning. It says, "Watch out, so there won't be IN ANY OF YOU an evil, unbelieving heart."

The most frightening possibility for mankind is to live and die with an unbelieving heart. Did you notice that an unbelieving heart is naturally evil and it departs from the living God? Practically speaking, the content of our heart controls our life. So with a heart that possesses evil, unbelief, and is away from God, our actions hold all the qualities of the enemy. Be careful.

B. Be Courageous

Look at verse 13 and hear what it says, "Encourage one another." Some will contend that this doesn't need any courage, but I suggest that the reason so few encouragers remain.

One of the greatest needs in the church (and the world) is for courageous encouragers. Have you ever considered how powerful encouragement really is. The Bible says, "Encourage one another so none of you is hardened by sin's deception. "Think about the implication here. It would appear that encouragement has the potential to lift a person out of falling headlong into sin. The warning here is, "if we are not encouraging, then we will share in the responsibility for others spiritual backsliding."

Consider this, when we see someone slipping away from their relationship with God, we are faced with some choices. We can ignore it; say it's none of our business, and walk away, which will contribute to a hard heart. Or we can condemn them for being so weak (sad to say for those who choose to speak, this could be the norm). However, the Bible tells us to speak a word of encouragement to the brother who is slipping away so their hard will not become hardened. Be courageous, it could make a difference.

C. Be Consistent

Verse 14 begins by calling us (as believers) to be companions with Christ. In the KJV, the word for companion is partaker while the Greek word means "participant, sharer, partner, or an associate."

Christ desires for us to act like we are a part of His family, ministry, and work. Think about this phrase "the reality that we had at the start." Think about the time you met Christ. The reality or confidence we had at that time was over the top. We felt as if we could charge hell with a water-pistol because we knew that our God was greater than all the forces of hell. The warning or encouragement we are given is to live today like we lived then.

May I offer one last warning which I see in the balance of this chapter?

D. Be Cautious

When you hear His voice, respond and don't reject His call. If you reject His call, you'll not be able to enter His place of rest, peace, and joy. His call is not simply for you to pray; it only begins with a prayer and ensues with your life. Without this kind of commitment, we will find ourselves just like the Children of Israel found them.

In car racing, I am told, that there are seven flags. The green flag begins the race, the checkered flag ends the race, and the yellow announces caution. Today, let us hold up the yellow flag to caution people about unbelief.

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