Service Video Message Video Message Audio The service video is unavailable at this time. The sermon video is unavailable at this time. The sermon audio is unavailable at this time. Scripture Verses Hebrews 6:1-20 Downloads & Resources Building Our Hope Dr. Jon Morrissette - 3/23/2003 God wants us to have confidence in the face of the enemy. One of the extraordinary qualities of our servicemen is their confidence. They know who they are. They know what their mission is. They believe in their cause. They are vigilant. They are prepared. And even though they are aware of the grave danger before them, they carry with them a quiet assurance of victory. They are an inspiration to us. General Tommy Franks summed this up when he said, "The outcome is not in doubt. In contrast, the enemy is plagued with confusion and disarray. Their cause is vague and undefined. Their future is uncertain. They are abandoning their ranks and fleeing into the countryside. They are filled with terror. They have been blinded from the truth that the hour of their defeat is at hand." One of my favorite old hymns is "Onward Christian Soldiers. "This hymn typifies the soldier-like confidence that God wants us to have in the face of the enemy. Think about the words of this hymn. Onward Christian soldiers, marching as to war. With the cross of Jesus, going on before! Christ the royal master, leads against the foe; forward into battle, see his banner go! At the sign of triumph, Satan's host doth flee. On then, Christian soldiers, on to victory! Hell's foundations quiver at the shout of praise. Brothers, lift your voices, loud your anthems raise! Like a mighty army, moves the Church of God. Brothers, we are treading, where the saints have trod. We are not divided, all one body we; one in hope and doctrine, one in charity. Onward, then, ye people, join our happy throng. Blend with ours your voices in the triumph song. Glory, laud, and honor, unto Christ the King; this through countless ages, men and angels sing. Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war. With the cross of Jesus, going on before! What gives a soldier such tremendous confidence that victory is at hand? And as Christians do we have this kind of confidence about our salvation? About our triumph? About our eternal hope? About our victory and destiny in Christ? Do we have General Tommy Franks' confidence that the outcome is not in doubt. Based on Hebrews 6 we discover that the Christian's confidence is built up in three ways. Our hope is built up through basic preparations. In Hebrews 6:1-3 (NIV) we read, "Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do so." Before a soldier is sent off to war he must first go through basic training. This basic training is foundational to everything he will become. In times of distress the soldier will always be able to fall back on his training. I've always heard that in boot camp the first order of business is to break a soldier down physically, emotionally, and psychologically. Only after he has been broken down and has been stripped of all self-confidence can he be reconditioned and built up. His old confidence which was rooted in pride, gets replaced with a new confidence that is grounded in humility and simple obedience. The soldier develops great confidence as he builds on the basic preparations being prescribed to him by his commanding officer. This very same thing is true of the Christian as well. The Christian life begins with basic training. First, our old confidence which was rooted in self effort and the works of the flesh, is broken. We realize that we cannot save ourselves and that we need Jesus Christ for salvation. In time we develop a new confidence that is rooted in humility and simple obedience as we follow the commands and teachings of Jesus Christ. Our new confidence grows as we turn away from sin and renounce evil. Our confidence grows as we trust in Christ's work on the cross and humbly submit to Christ in baptism. We are set apart for responsibility in Christ's kingdom through the laying on of hands, and we are taught basic beliefs like the resurrection of the dead to prepare our souls for eternity. We can gain great confidence and assurance through simple obedience to Christ. The Christian life begins with basic training. With conditioning this training becomes the bedrock of our eternal hope. The basics of life in Christ are always there for us to fall back on. Our hope is built up through progress and a sense of achievement. I was listening to a General explain why United States soldiers are the best in the world. They have perfected their training so that soldiers feel a sense of achievement as they complete classes, training, exercises, and various missions. They must earn every stripe and pin and marking on their uniform. When a soldier puts on his uniform he is filled with confidence and honor as he is reminded of all the great things he or she has achieved. Hebrews 6:4-6 (NIV) begins, "It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace." These verses describe Christians who have gone through all the basics, but who by some great misfortune fall away from Christ. Their lives become filled with evil deeds. They so harden their hearts that they cannot be brought back to repentance. Last night a Muslim-American soldier injured sixteen soldiers as he tried to assassinate the commander of the 101 Airborn Division in a grenade attack. This was a soldier who had completed basic and advanced training, who had pledged his life to the cause and had accepted a sacred trust, who was deployed in Kuwait at camp Pennsylvania, but who did evil and became a traitor. Militarily there is no hope for this soldier. He will be investigated, prosecuted, judged, and will spend the rest of his life in prison. He's finished. Hebrews 6 reminds us that there is no hope for those who betray the name of Christ, who harden their hearts to the point of non-repentance. But let's balance the equation. Hebrews 6:7-8 (NIV) continues, "Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned." Royce Kirkpatrick shared a lesson with me that he taught in the friendship class. He began with a thought-provoking question. "If you were on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?" For the Hebrew Christians the answer to this question was "yes"! There was evidence of their salvation. There was evidence of fruitfulness, of faith, of repentance, of God's blessing, and of the certainty of their hope. They were doing good works. They were showing God's love in practical ways. They were reaching out and helping people. Our good deeds do not secure our hope, but they do confirm our hope. They confirm the validity of our faith, the depth of our repentance, the breadth of our obedience, the certainty of our eternal destiny, and God's work in our lives. But the absence of good deeds, the presence of evil works, the presence of thorns and thistles, unfruitfulness, a hardened heart, and a defiant refusal to repent, confirm that a person's eternity may be in jeopardy. In Hebrews 6:9-10 (NIV) the writer of Hebrews says, "Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are confident of better things in your case— things that accompany salvation. God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them." Again, the evidence of good works provides a sense of spiritual accomplishment. Our works can be the stars and stripes and pins and markings that fill us with confidence and remind us that our hope is being secured. They tell us that our salvation is real and substantive. Our hope is built up through perseverance. Hebrews 6:11-20 (NIV) says, "We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised. When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, saying, 'I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.' And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised." "Men swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek." When that General was describing why United States soldiers are the greatest in the world, he also mentioned that each division has its own history and heroes. The soldiers' greatest desire is to honor the tradition that they are part of. The soldiers draw upon their division's rich history for inspiration and courage. The author of Hebrews is trying to accomplish the very same thing by appealing to the rich history of Israel and one of its greatest heroes, Abraham. He wants to inspire the Hebrews to persevere and encourage them to imitate Abraham's life of faith and patience. Without getting bogged down in excessive detail about Abraham's life, Hebrews 6:14 reminds us that God made a tremendous promise to Abraham. "I will surely bless you and give you many descendants." You can only imagine how that promise must have filled Abraham with confidence. But if you survey the story of Abraham in Genesis you will notice how completely and imperfectly Abraham struggled to take God at his word. He fell on his face. He sinned. He gave into temptation. He disappointed God. But you will also notice how through the school of hard knocks, Abraham learned to trust God, take God at his word, and wait on God's promises. In time Abraham responded with repentance and he grew in faith. As Hebrews 6:15 says, "after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised." In this sense, Abraham is not an example of perfection, but of perseverance. The story of Abraham teaches us that our hope is built up through perseverance, as we wait and trust in the unchanging promises of God. God ultimately expects perseverance, persistence, stick-to-it-iveness, and faithfulness, but not perfection. Our hope is made certain as we trust in God's promises. We inherit those promises through faith and patience, by being diligent, and by avoiding passivity and laziness about spiritual matters. Application. Now for a few practical applications that arise out of Hebrews 6. First, we cannot overstate the importance of receiving basic training and laying a rock solid foundation for your Christian life. The first verses in this chapter refer to the elementary teachings about Christ, but also to the foundational steps of repentance, faith, and baptism. If you haven't taken these steps, these verses are a starting point for you. Later this summer we hope to launch a few new L.I.F.E. groups. These groups are designed to establish you in the basics and help you take the introductory steps of faith, repentance, confession, and baptism. But if you need to take some first steps toward Christ, we don't want you to wait. I encourage you to seek me out after this service to learn more. For those of you who have taken this first step, it's important to assess your heart. What kind of fruit are you producing in your life? Are you producing a crop that is useful to God? Or is your life producing thorns and thistles? Is your life abounding with good works that God prepared for you to do? Are you helping those in need? Are you showing Christ's love in practical ways? Are you responsive to the Spirit's leading? Are you building on the foundation you laid when you first came to know Christ? Are you moving on to maturity? Right now we are launching two or three new Deeper L.I.F.E. groups to help you move deeper into Christian maturity and fruitfulness. We also have Adult Bible Fellowships that are ongoing for you to join. Will you grow up?