They needed endurance. The going continued to get tough, and some of those who had so far toughed it out were now considering getting going.
As they became known as followers of Christ, some were publicly exposed to reproach and affliction. Some had known the plundering of their property. Some had even been thrown in prison. And so for some, the taking away of their livelihoods was tempting them to throw away their confidence in the promise of a great reward. Thus, says the writer to these harangued Hebrews, “You have need of endurance” (Heb. 10:32-36).
For to stop walking by “the new and living way” that Christ opened to them by His blood and through His flesh, to stop drawing near to God in full assurance of faith with hearts cleansed and bodies washed by the cleansing blood of Christ (10:19-22), was to risk going back into deliberate sin, trampling underfoot the person of Christ, and profaning the blood of the Christ (10:26, 29).
The stakes were high. They needed endurance.
Hover over this for a bit, and it’s enough to make the weary follower a bit anxious. To cause great concern for the one who has held on to Christ for dear life, but as the price for holding on increases, as the cost becomes more crushing, the grip feels like it is slowly weakening. Yeah, I need endurance . . . but can I endure?
Yeah, I can. How come? Because we are not of those.
Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. For, “Yet a little while, and the Coming One will come and will not delay; but My righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, 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 their souls.
(Hebrews 10:35-39 ESV)
We are not of those who shrink back. That’s not what saving faith produces. Those who are saved by the power of the gospel, are kept by the power of the gospel. Those who are counted as righteous through the finished work of Christ on the cross, those who are being made righteous through the on-going work of the Spirit infusing their lives, are those who will walk in righteousness “from faith for faith” — “as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith'” (Rom. 1:16-17). That’s who we are. That’s our born again being in Christ. In Him, we are of those who have faith and preserve their souls.
We have need of endurance. Sometimes to endure the consequences of following Jesus, sometimes just to endure the hardships of life. But because of who we are in Christ, we will endure. We are not of those who shrink back and retreat. Sure, we may slip up and trip up and give up ground temporarily to the flesh and to the world. But we concede not the holy ground we have been graced to stand upon. We lean into the cross. We apply afresh the blood of the Lamb. We again fix our eyes on the prize, and we endure by faith, preserving our souls by His ever-present, enabling power.
We are not of those who shrink back. That, dear saint, is not who we are.
Instead, we are of those who purpose to do His will, and keep on keepin’ on doing this will, confident that we will receive what He has promised. For yet a little while, the Coming One will come and not delay.
By His grace alone. Through faith alone. For His glory alone.