Jack Graham - Soon and Very Soon
We want to keep going, and that's the theme of Hebrews. Just to remind you, it truly is about GOING THE DISTANCE and building a muscular faith, a maturing, muscular faith. That we leave the elementary things behind and we grow in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. The theme always of the Bible and of Hebrews is, of course, Jesus "who is the same yesterday, today and forever". Hebrews 13, and verse 8. But the major focus of the letter to the Hebrews is encouragement to endurance. That we would be coached up, if you will, trained in never giving up, always persevering, always going through and getting through, and never ever quit! The message of Hebrews, like the message that we have before us today, is it's always too soon to quit. Never, ever give up!
Now as we read this passage of Scripture, Hebrews 10, we get acquainted a little bit more to the audience to which the writer is addressing in Hebrews. And in fact, these Hebrews Christians, and they are believers and followers of Jesus, who were formerly Hebrews practicing Judaism but they came to faith in Jesus as the Messiah, and as a result, not only from the world, but even the world of religion, they were facing great persecution and opposition. And so the writer gives us these word, beginning in verse 32, "But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened". And you can just scribble in the words saved there, because enlightened means to be enlightened to the knowledge of salvation. We are enlightened, the old song says "I saw the light". We were walking in darkness; now we are living in the light. We have been enlightened in Christ.
"You endured", those of us who are saved, "a hard struggle with sufferings". Suffering is a part of life for all of us, and Christianity is not immunity from the problems and the pressures, from sickness and suffering that every human being faces from time to time. And yet not only the sufferings that come from within, but from without, for verse 33 says, "sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated". That is, standing with those who are suffering. "For you had compassion on those in prison". This is some evidence that the writer of Hebrews is, indeed, the Apostle Paul who was in prison for his faith. This could be autobiographical by the author, Paul, when he says "for you had compassion for those in prison" meaning himself as well, "and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one".
It cost them everything to follow Christ, including their property! Jesus said, "You must be willing to lay down your lives and your possessions, and your all to follow Me". They were living this out, and yet, they didn't resent the loss of these material things because they knew they had invested in eternal things, eternal realities. And so verse 35 says, and this is the key verse. One that you'll want to underline, perhaps memorize. It says, "Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward". Don't throw away your confidence. "For you have need of endurance" and there's our word endurance, or patient endurance, "so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised". And then verse 37 which is the title of the message: "Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; Soon and very Soon", in a little while the one who is coming, Jesus, is coming again!
And it will be imminent when He comes. "But my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back", that is, if you quit, "my soul has no pleasure in him. But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve, rather their souls". If we are to endure, we must, number one, recall how we started. That's what the author is giving us here when he says, "Look back and think about the time that you were enlightened, the time that you were saved, even those tough times of persecution, and know this, that you stood firmly, you stood on God's promises, you lived in hope as an anchor for your soul, and God always, always faithful to you"!
We can all look back in times of our lives, the tough times, sometimes the dark times when we were oppressed or resisted in some way for our faith, and we realized that God was with us, in the furnace, in the fire! God has always promised to never leave us or forsake us. I keep a journal, and I can look back in my journal, my daily journal that I've been keeping for a number of years now, and I can see answered prayers. One value of keeping a journal when you pray, when you study your Bible. Just write a little something every day. You know what got me really going on my journal? I would stop and start, and stop and start. I just made a resolve that I was going to write something every day, even if it was just good morning, Lord. And it's like getting on a treadmill. If you get on for one minute, you might stay thirty minutes, alright.
So the point is, that if you will just record the things that you're thinking about, praying about, and then over the years you may want to look back and you see the blessings of God, the favor of God, the faithfulness of God in your life. Recall how you got started. There's a well known book called Begin, and it says in it, "Begin with the end in mind". And that's good because we do live for the reward that is coming. We begin the Christian life with the end in mind. Our future is secure; that's hope. But we also begin and continue with the beginning in mind. You have to get a good start in your life. So you have to know that you're saved. You can't stand if you're not really standing in Christ. There's a tongue twister which says: The faith that fizzle at the finish was faulty at the first.
So you need to make sure that your faith is founded on Jesus Christ, because our confidence, our hope is in Him! Because have you made the discovery that not everyone loves you if you're a Bible-believing, Christ-honoring Christian. Not everyone loves that. Now there are Christians physically persecuted around the world, and we should be praying for persecuted Christians and persecuted churches around the world. It's going on even as we speak. Here in America not so much, of course, personal physically persecution, but we do face resistance, increasingly so. Our religious freedoms are being attacked at various levels. Christian schools are being attacked by the secular left, and so on. And I can give you a number of examples of this. If you stand for life, that we are pro-life and pro-love in our actions. Pro-life in our belief and pro-love in our actions.
If you stand for light and truth and life and love, there will be some who will oppose you because Satan will make sure of that. Remember, the voice comes from others but the source is Satan himself. We're in a spiritual battle. And so we may find ourselves a spectacle to the world. As described here. You were publicly exposed, you were mistreated and mocked before the entire world, he said of these Hebrews who were following Jesus. It's the word there publicly exposed for theater. It's as though you are on the stage and you are standing under the spotlight, and you are totally and publicly out there for the Lord Jesus Christ! When I think of being publically expose, I think of the time when I wanted to be in the stage band at Eastern Hills High School in Fort Worth. I was a drummer and I played the snare and I wanted to be in the stage band which was "cool". But to be in the stage band, to qualify you had to be in the marching band.
I didn't love the idea of being in the marching band. I salute all of you who play in marching bands, or did. But you know, it wasn't my thing. And yet, if I was going to be in the stage band which was "cool", I had to be in the marching band which I didn't think was all that cool at the time, but I said, okay. So we're going to march. First march, Farrington Field, west Fort Worth. I'm a sophomore in high school, 15 years of age and I'm thinking I'm going to get a great snare drum. When I get to the field, the practice field that week, I found out I was playing the bass drum, the big bass, boom, boom, boom. So you know, wasn't thrilled about that either. Well, they hand me my uniform. I never even tried it on. I was disinterested in marching I didn't know the steps really well. But they gave me my uniform and I never even tried it on till about an hour before I was supposed to report to the band. And then I pulled them on, I realized they were like 6 inches too big.
So what am I going to do? Mom comes to the rescue! That's what mom's do, right? So she taped everything up, cinched everything up. We had about 50 pins in this thing and we had tape, and you know, it's all cinched up and I'm ready to go. So I go, I get to the middle of Farrington Field and if I'm lying, I'm dying, in the middle of Farrington Field in front of all my friends, at the fifty yard line, my pants go right to my ankles! That's what all my friends did right there! Yeah, a public spectacle! Now what do you do with a bass drum in line with your pants at your ankles? I'm trying to pull them up, play with one hand. You say, "What did you do"? I don't remember, I blocked the whole thing out from that point on! I don't remember! But it was the last time I ever marched in a marching band!
Now you know when you're 15 you're a little conscientious anyway. I'm a sophomore, I'm 15. So that same fall, talking about theater, I'm in theater. We did a play called Rebel without a Cause. You remember, some of you, the old Jimmy Dean movie with Sal Mineo? Rebel without a Cause. Well, so I played the Sal Mineo part whose name is Plato. And there's a big scene in the play where Plato pulls a gun and shoots some of the bad guys, a gang. And that's the big moment! I mean the whole play is coming to this thing and my big scene. I've worked on it. It's a cap gun, of course, and I'm ready, and we had these tight fifties style pants on, I had this gun right there where they told me to put it. I had it right there, cinched it in the waistband of my pants. And so we get to the big moment, they're shoving me around, and I reached to get my gun and that gun is going down my leg! Same fall!
I'm reaching down there, trying to get the gun! My friends were doing exactly what you're doing! I finally just shove it all the way down to the bottom, go Bam! All the fall semester of my first year of high school. Made me tough! I'll tell you that. But my friends mocked me to no end! And laughed at me. So get a picture then. Of course, what we're talking about is not funny when you stand for Christ and people mock you for it, and laugh at you. And yet so often we want to fold. If somebody says something, if somebody criticizes us or trolls us online, or goes after us in some way, or puts us out of their group. Sometimes we care more of the opinions of others than the opinion of God. God has called us to stand for righteousness no matter what! And never stand down and shut up when you ought to stand up and speak up.
And so these early Christians, they're struggling now, they're thinking, you know, it's time to throw in the towel; it's time to give up! And they're told, "Look, don't do that. Remember when you were getting it done, you were in the fight, you were in the battle, and God sustained you". And you can look back as I have many times over your life, and not one time has God ever failed us! Amen? And in the dark times especially, you know God works the night shift, and we grow to the dark. And I would say when you go through a trial don't just go through it, grow through it, get stronger through it! We're maturing; we're developing a muscular faith! So recall how God has blessed you. His faithfulness. And there's a saying that I've often said, "Never doubt in the dark what God showed you in the light! Never doubt in the dark what God showed you in the light"! That's not original with me, but it's something I've quoted through the years, and I believe it! "Never doubt in the dark what God has showed you in the light"! But I want to turn that upside down for you today. Never doubt in the light what God taught you and showed you in the dark! Because so often the most important lessons we've learned in life are those dark times.
But then the second thing is, and that is to look around, or might even say look within, and keep going! Verse 35 says: "Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward". I like that word confident. The Christian life is a confident life. Why? Because we know our future is secure. It's settled! We have a great reward in advance. And this word confidence, if you could just add some synonyms, it's a word which means assurance, trust, boldness and hope, assurance, trust, boldness and hope! You know, as an athlete I always wanted to play with confidence, because if you lose your confidence as an athlete, guess what happens? You lose! You'll be defeated when you lose your confidence. But human confidence is one thing, but we're talking about something beyond our own personal confidence or mental toughness.
This is the confidence that we have in Christ. This is the confidence that we are given to Him and that keeps us going when we may want to give up. We all have doubts and fears. But don't throw away your confidence! Don't throw away your boldness! Learn to doubt your doubts and believe your beliefs! You cannot throw away your salvation, you cannot lose your salvation because salvation is in Christ alone, by grace alone, through faith alone, not in ourselves! You cannot lose your salvation, but it's possible to lose your confidence in the Christian life. Right? If you do not determine and discipline yourself in God's work, standing on God's promises to keep going! And this word here patience. I really like this word because in this word patience or endurance, that you see in verse 36, you see it? "You have need of endurance". Some translations give it patience.
So let's just put them together. Patient endurance. Staying power, stamina, steadfastness, patience! It is, this word has with it a quiet confidence. It's a boldness that is not brash, but is sure, and strong! Patience is a fruit of the Spirit. Longsuffering, patience. That's muscular faith! And the only way you can grow your faith and your character which is in is through trials and tribulations. That's what the Scripture says in the book of Romans. We're told that that character is produced by perseverance. That's Romans 5:3 and 4. "Not only that but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance and endurance produces character and character produces hope". All of this is linked! So we keep going, knowing that we're getting stronger as we go. Over the years I've worked with trainers on physical fitness and when you're lifting weights, a couple of things are true.
One, if you want to get stronger, do lower reps of heavy weights. But on the other hand more reps with less weight creates what? Endurance. Same is true in running. If you're a sprinter, shorter bursts of energy creates speed. Shorter runs creates speed as you train. But longer distance runs create, you go slower, not as fast, but you build endurance and you can go further. That's what we're looking for in the Christian life because the Christian life is not a short sprint; it is a marathon with an obstacle course, and all kinds of challenges! So what we need is more reps, and sometimes God will put us through repetitions and through some things that challenge us and test us, even tribulation, even suffering in order that we would grow stronger and endure and build patience in our lives which creates hope.
I'm reading a book called Grit. It's not a Christian book. It's written by a lady by the name of Angela Duckworth. Grit, G-R-I-T. And she defines what it means to have grit as simply to be gritty. Okay? So what is it to be gritty, according to Angela Duckworth? She says to be gritty is to keep putting one foot in front of the other, to be gritty is to hold fast to an interesting and purposeful goal, to be gritty is to invest day after week after year in challenging practice. To be gritty is to fall down seven times and rise eight! That's what we're learning in God's Word in Hebrews! To be gritty. Ours is a gritty grace! We get knocked down seven times, we get up every time by God's grace, and we build grit in our lives.
Will Smith's a great actor and he was discussing his acting career and how he became adept at his craft, and he truly is a remarkable actor. And so here's what Will Smith said about his preparation. He said, "The only thing that I see that is distinctly different about me is I'm not afraid to die on a treadmill"! I am, by the way. He said, "I will not be outworked"! Period! You might have more talent than me, you might be smarter than me, you might be all those things. You've got it on me in nine categories, but if we get on a treadmill together, there's two things: you're getting off first or I'm going to die. It's really that simple. I love that kind of spirit! That's the power that God gives us to keep going when we want to give up. It's all found in hope.
One final thing, and that is, not only do we look back and recall how we began, not only do we look around, look within and keep going, but we look ahead and we run for the reward. We look for the reward. That's why in this passage, look at it again, back in Hebrews 10. He says: "For a little while" This is verse 37: "For, 'Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay;'". Soon and very soon is what the words mean. Stay ready, stay prepared for in just a little while, soon and very soon we will see the King! Because He's coming again! And for those early Christians, and it should be for us, it was the prospect, the promise of the soon return of Christ that kept them going and should keep us going, knowing that Jesus promised "I will come again"!
Those dumbfounded disciples on the Mount of Olives that day, not knowing where to turn, where to go. Jesus has ascended into the heavens, but the angel said, Acts 1:11, "This same Jesus which is taken up from you into heaven, will come again in the same way that you've seen Him go"! Christ is coming again! Visibly, victoriously, personally, physically Jesus is coming again! When you pray the model prayer, the Lord's prayer, "Your kingdom come", did you know you're praying for the Second Coming of Jesus? You're praying that Christ would come and establish His kingdom. And you say it's been a long time. It's been two thousand years, where's the promise of His coming? Simon Peter, the apostle, addressed that.
In his second letter he talked about those who come along, the scoffers, the skeptics, saying, 2 Peter 3:4, "Where's the promise of His coming"? You people keep saying, "Jesus is coming again. Come on. Where is He"? Scoffers, skeptics. And again Satan always sees to it that the scoffers and the skeptics, the naysayers, the people that say "You're a fool, you're a freak show, you're a fanatic because you follow Jesus" They'll always show up and say, "Really? You believe Jesus is coming again"? Yes, and absolutely yes! If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you're looking forward, leaning in to the day. The way we lean in and finish strong is because we're always leaning into the promise, leaning into the prospect that Christ is coming again!
Now, what we say is this: Peter answered it, by the way by saying, "A day with the Lord is a thousand years; or a thousand years is a day". Time means nothing to God! I mean, it's just like that. Our lives are but a brief candle. So you say it's been a long, long time? Well two thousand years is a long time, but in the providence and plans of God, God has a day, God has a date, and Christ is coming. Ready or not, Jesus is coming again. And so we run for that reward that day when we see Jesus, either in death when we cross the finish line personally, or when we are raptured out of the race, we're taken into the presence of the Lord. We will see Jesus. We'll see Him face to face, and it's His face, "Looking unto Jesus, the Author and finisher of our faith".
It is this, as the scripture says, "Blessed hope! It's the hope of the return of Jesus Christ. When we will be raptured into His presence and forever live with Him". That keeps me going! Because I know this isn't a dead-end! This life is a journey and we are on our way to heaven, we are on our way to Him! And we ought to be saying with the Apostle John, as the Bible concludes, Revelation 22:20, "Even so, come, Lord Jesus"! Come on, Lord! You can say that; you can pray that if you're ready for His return. Soon and very soon. It doesn't mean that His coming is necessarily immediate, but it does mean that His coming is imminent. The question is are you ready? Question is: do you live with this confident expectation that your future is with Him?