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Hebrews 3 Sermon Notes

By July 3, 2022March 25th, 2023Sermon Notes

I want you to imagine that you are in a courtroom.
You are the judge, you are the prosecutor, you are the jury.

The defendant is God.

All rise… court is now in session… the honorable __________ now presiding. You bang the gavel on your desk. “Please be seated.”

What are the charges that you are bringing against God today?

I have been tempted with this sin pattern over and over. I’m struggling and I don’t know if I can trust God. Will he help me?

You present your evidence.
God only says a few words – “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man and I am faithful. I will provide a way out.”
The jury deliberates… which is you, talking to yourself and the verdict is in. God is guilty because I’m still struggling. God cannot be trusted.

Court adjourned!

Later the court reconvenes with a new case.

What are the charges?

God is keeping me from the life I want. I would be happy if he would take away this pain and this struggle. I don’t think he has my best interest in mind.

You plead your case. Call your witnesses. Present your evidence.
God simply says – “I have come that you might have life and have it to the full.”

This time the case ends in a hung jury. You are undecided, but you reserve the right to bring the case again.

Today we continue our time in Hebrews. Last week our warning was “Don’t Drift”
This week our warning is “Do NOT Harden Your Heart”

As we will see from the example in Hebrews, each time we put God on trial. Each time we test Him we are opening ourselves up to hardening our hearts to God.

The strong warning from Hebrews is Do Not Harden Heart.
Do not continually put God on trial, if you do you will not experience God’s rest.

Before we get to the warning, the writer of Hebrews gives his readers two reminders.

Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest. 2 He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. 3 Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. 4 For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. 5 “Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house,” bearing witness to what would be spoken by God in the future. 6 But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.

Reminder of who they are in Christ.

The author says “You Are HOLY”

Holy is a word that means to cut, to set apart. If you have trusted in Christ, you are purified, you are set apart for Christ.

He says – You are brothers and sisters.

These people are part of a family. They have been set apart to be a part of a family.

These people were suffering. Their faith had been shaken. They needed to be reminded. Hey – I know things are hard, but this is where you belong. If you are wondering where your people are, these are your people.

He reminds them You share in the heavenly calling.

The word calling is the word for vocation. As a part of God’s family we may have different jobs and different gifts, but we all have the same calling.

What is this heavenly calling?

Heaven is an existence where God is at the center of everything. It is an existence where there is no sun because God gives life and light to all.

The heavenly calling is a life completely ordered around God and the things of God.

It doesn’t mean we say bible verses all the time and sing worship songs constantly, that would be annoying.

The heavenly calling means in this life we live like God is in charge and at the center of everything just like he is in heaven.

Reminder that Jesus is Better than Moses

Jesus is better because of his identity. Moses is a servant and Jesus is the Son.

Moses was a faithful servant. Moses is no slacker – He is said to have talked with God face to face.

Jesus is God. Jesus is the exact representation of God’s being. He is not better just because he did more than Moses. He is better because of his identity as the Son.

It is clear from the reminder here that the author has every confidence that he is talking to believers. They are part of God’s house because Jesus has made them part of his house.

What are we to do with the “if” in verse 6?

But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house, IF indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.

Does this mean that a person who is a Holy brother and sister sharing in the heavenly calling can cease to be a brother or sister?

No – but it does mean that we can cease acting like brothers and sisters if we do not hold firmly to our confidence in Christ.

If we start placing our confidence for future hope elsewhere then we will not behave as people who put their confidence in Christ.

Now we come to the warning. The warning is a quote from Psalm 95.

So, as the Holy Spirit says:

“Today, if you hear his voice,
8 do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion,
during the time of testing in the wilderness, 9 where your ancestors tested and tried me, though for forty years they saw what I did.
10 That is why I was angry with that generation; I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.’
11 So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’ ”

Define the Warning

Do not harden your hearts, do not continually question whether you can trust God.
It is okay to doubt. It is okay to wonder, but if you continually put God on trial you will harden your heart towards him.

Tiffany is my wife. She committed to me. I committed to her. What would our relationship be like if at every disagreement, every inconvenience, every failure we questioned our love for one another?

The result would be that our hearts would be hardened towards each other.

We harden our hearts towards God when at every crossroads in life we put God on trial and wonder whether he will keep his promises. Does he really love me? Can I really trust him? Will he really keep his promise?

It is normal to question. It is normal to be unsure, but hardening happens when we put God on trial and ask Him to prove Himself over and over again.

How Do We Heed the Warning?

Remember your ancestors. They tested and tried God at every crossroads. Do not be like them.

Heed this warning by listening for God’s voice, trusting His voice when he speaks, and obeying his instructions.

When the writer says remember your ancestors, he is referring to the Exodus story and the wandering in the wilderness. Let me recap part of that story.

The Hebrew people are in slavery in Egypt. The people cry out to God and God delivers them from slavery. He leads them into the wilderness – to the bank of the Red Sea where he miraculously parts the sea and they walk across on dry ground.

Pharaoh’s army is then swallowed up by the sea and the Hebrew people escape Pharaoh’s grasp.

What did the Hebrew people do on the banks of the Red Sea before God parted the waters?

Moses, why have you brought us out here to die? We had it better back in Egypt. Let’s go back. Let’s surrender to Pharaoh and get back to building his empire.

Over and over their story is testing God, trying him. It is not a story of trust and resting in Him.

The consequences of ignoring the warning – “You will not enter my rest.”

The Promised Land – Canaan was the culmination of God’s Rest for the Hebrew people.

In scripture Rest is a ceasing from activity and ceasing from wandering.
Rest is having a home, a place to belong.

When they got to the land what did the people do?
We can’t go in because these people are too strong, too big.

God parted the sea… what do you mean too strong and too big?

They had every bit of evidence that they needed to know that God was able but they did not trust Him. They took God to court over and over when circumstances were difficult.

See for the Children of Israel, God’s rest was always available to them. They could rest content as slaves in Egypt. They could rest content in the desert.

Rest was not just about finally making it to the Promised land. Rest is and was always about trusting God to keep His promise to lead, to protect, and to provide.

What about us? How do we enter God’s rest?

The reality is holy brothers and sisters who share in the heavenly calling if you have trusted in Jesus, YOU HAVE ALREADY ENTERED GOD’S REST!

Now – hold onto that rest. Hold onto the confidence that is your in Christ.

God’s rest is not fully realized but you have walked through the doorway to rest… now keep going! don’t turn back! Put down the gavel, leave the courtroom and enjoy the life God has given.

Hebrews 3:1 fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest.

Apostle – Jesus was sent from the Father
High Priest – He is our mediator and he is like us he can relate with us.

He died on a cross to pay for your sin debt. He rose proving he was sent from God.

He understands you. He can sympathize with you. He knows your weakness.

Fixate on Jesus and the rest that is yours in him.


Rest is a ceasing from activity. Jesus said on the cross, it is finished. Your sin debt, my sin debt has been paid once and forever.

If you have trusted Christ you are forever His. Jesus has said that no one can snatch you out of his hands. He has you. He will never let go.

Rest is a ceasing from wandering. The good life, the happy life, the contented life exists as you walk in line with God’s word.

We come to another fork in the road.
God I think I would be happy if you give me ____ or
God I would be happy if you would take away ____
God I really want this and you only love me if you let me have this…

Have you ever seen a child who is tired and trying to resist taking a nap? They will do everything within their power to resist rest.

Parents know that all they need to do is just be still and rest. Parents would be happy, the child would be happier, everyone would be happier if they would just rest!

Do not resist the rest that is already yours in Christ!
Do not harden your heart by continually putting God on trial.

Two things that are most terrifying to me as I read this warning

Each of us is capable of hardening our hearts.

No emotional or spiritual experience will protect you from hardening your heart.

Look at the Hebrew people in Exodus, they had a pillar of fire leading them through the desert. They had the Red Sea open up in front of them still they hardened their hearts.

You could have the greatest worship experience on Sunday, God could do a miracle right in front of you and you would still be able to harden your heart.

God will let us harden our hearts.

I know that It is heart-breaking to watch someone harden their hearts towards God. It hurts to know that the life ahead of them is a life filled with chasing rest and happiness and knowing they will not find rest.

God will let us go astray. He will warn us.
He will rebuke but he will let us go.
He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in mercy.

He will receive us back, but he will let us go astray.

It is terrifying to know that he will let me wander astray if I choose to.

If I am able to harden my heart and God will let me harden my heart, what am I to do?

Let’s look at the rest of the chapter for some instruction and make application.

V 12 – 16
See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.

SEE TO IT – Similar to our application from last week – PAY ATTENTION

You cannot delegate the responsibility of guarding your heart.

Your heart – Your responsibility.

My heart – My responsibility.

No excuses, no time to drift, don’t let the deceitfulness of sin settle in, you must be watchful always to evaluate what ideas have captured the attention of your heart.

Some translations translate this phrase as WATCH OUT! Be on guard! Take Heed!

Above all else guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life. Prov 16:23

Your heart is the command post of your life.

You can let good intel into your heart.
You can let bad intel into your heart.

We have to become good intelligence analysts.
“Where does this idea come from?”
“Can we validate the source?”
“Is the source reliable?”

Sources of Good intel
The bible, the church, other faithful believers

Sources of Bad intel
Yourself, Satan, culture (the world & it’s systems)

The one enemy idea that wants to infiltrate your heart is.

God cannot be trusted.

Be on Guard… Watch Out… See to it

See to it by putting the truth into your mind

Sin is Deceitful:
Sin always over promises and under delivers. ALWAYS!
Sin always harms more than just the sinner. ALWAYS!

My Heart — My Responsibility

See to it that you don’t turn away from God but instead Encourage one another.

Encourage one another

See to your own heart and also encourage others to watch their hearts.

I keep trying to get over the fact that I need encouragement but I never will.
I just don’t like to need people in my life.

We will never “get over” the reality that we need one another. God has designed us for relationship.

A few weeks ago, a friend called and said, “I was thinking of you and praying for you and want to know if you need anything.”

I shared with him a specific struggle. And he encouraged me by saying nothing new but something very important and something I needed to hear.

He said something like “Stay the course. God is faithful. You have been as faithful as you know how. Trust God. Let the Holy Spirit and time do its work. God has not forgotten you.”

He encouraged me to not give into unbelief. Unbelief was settling in because I was struggling to trust God. Life circumstances have been difficult.

God, I’m not sure I can trust you because it is not supposed to be this hard!

When life is hard as it often is, I can come to God honestly like the man who came to Jesus and say, Lord, I believe… help my unbelief.

Lord… I trust you but it is hard… will you help me?

Final Word – TODAY

Today will you trust God?

Maybe that means trusting him for the first time and receiving the purification for your sins that Christ has provided and entering into God’s rest.

All we have is TODAY. Tomorrow is not promised and yesterday is behind us.

TODAY if you have begun hardening your heart, you can turn to God and repent.

If you have God on trial, if you are testing God because you think He is withholding some good from you, TODAY will you trust him? Take off your judicial robes, put down the gavel and turn to God.

“I can trust him TODAY, but I don’t know about tomorrow.”

If you trust Him with every TODAY then the yesterdays and tomorrows will take care of themselves.

It is okay if you struggle to trust God. God is patient with us. But will you put down the gavel and say to him.. Lord, I do believe, help my unbelief.

And then when he offers help… will you receive the help that He offers?

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