Dr Pamela Prince Pyle

If We Hold Fast

Christ [is] a Son over His own house, whose house we are
if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end.
Hebrews 3:6

This week’s post is by guest contributor and author Diane Woerner.

The question of eternal security (that is, whether we will make it all the way to heaven once we start out with Jesus) has been wrestled with since theological wrestling first began. Like several things in scripture, there are verses that sound like we can never lose our salvation, and other verses that sound like we most certainly can.

It has always been my thought, in matters such as this, to operate under the more risky scenario. In other words, I would rather be overly concerned to do what is needed to insure my place in the kingdom, than to take it for granted and somehow miss out. The question of course is: what is needed?

Hebrews 3:6 tells us we are part of Christ’s house if we “hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing.” Notice that it does not mention living a perfect life or doing certain religious practices or praying a certain prayer. Confidence and rejoicing are matters of the heart. Only when the heart is right does the life of Christ overflow in our own lives.

But also notice that it speaks of the confidence and the rejoicing. Believers are to hold on to the very unique experience they have when they are first born again. This becomes an important thing to consider. At that specific time you understand to be your entry point into the family of God, did you also experience a supernatural confidence and rejoicing? For those of us who started very young, and thus responded to the call of God several times as we grew older, can we recall at least one of those events to have included an astonishing, God-given faith and joy?

You see, salvation is the most supernatural and holy event that can happen to a person. Even divine miracles such as healing are not as significant, for we will still eventually die. But at the moment of salvation God takes our deadened spirit and breathes eternal life into it. What is more, the Spirit of God Himself somehow enters our beings, becoming our counselor and comforter.

If this doesn’t produce an overwhelming assurance and gladness, I don’t know what could. However, the emotions of those first hours or days do eventually fade. What follows is a lifetime of determined “holding fast” to what we know once happened. Difficult questions will arise, and our enemy will tempt us to doubt God. Painful circumstances will severely test our joy.

I find it helpful to make a distinction between understanding and faith, and between happiness and joy. You see, unlike understanding, faith doesn’t exactly reside in the mind. It affects the mind, and in some ways we have contact with it through our minds. But faith lives in our spirits. Thus the man in Mark 9:24 could say, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.” In his inner being he somehow knew that Jesus could heal his son. In his mind, it made no sense.

In the same way, even in the darkest hours of fear or suffering or grief, when our hearts are melted or broken, there can still be a deep and abiding joy and hope down in our spirit. And it is there that we must “hold fast,” knowing that God’s strength and healing will eventually come to our emotions as well.

There is, however, another process described in Hebrews 3. Verses 7 through 11 quote Psalms 95:7-11, which speaks of the children of Israel “hardening their hearts” or “going astray in their hearts” when the trials came. The writer of Hebrews then clearly warns us in verse 12, “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God.”

I think what happens here is that instead of our minds and emotions being fed and nourished by our spirits, the flow gets turned around. We decide to let our thoughts and feelings take the lead, and in that they are never strong enough to withstand the testings and temptings of life, our hearts become hard and rebellious. Therefore we are instructed to “exhort one another daily…lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin” (verse 13).

The children of Israel who had rebelled in this manner all died in the wilderness and did not enter the promised land. It is not as clear that all who rebel today are equally without hope. But to the extent that rebellion still resides in us, we should be very, very concerned. Verse 14 says, “For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end.” It seems that if our confidence is not steadfast, we may not be truly “partakers” of Christ.

The Greek word for “partake” is a combination of having and being with. It means a very close sharing of nature and purpose. We speak of partaking of the bread and cup in communion. The bread and wine literally become part of our physical selves. This is a picture of how Christ’s nature becomes an actual part of our spiritual natures.

What is His nature? It is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22,23). We who partake of His nature will by definition have these qualities as part of our natures. If we don’t, He isn’t part of us and we aren’t part of Him.

I believe these scriptures are challenging us to test our confidence and joy. First, we must decide if these are truly there, deep within us. This requires a quieting of all the noises and distractions until we can “hear” the voice in our spirit. If we don’t find God’s nature in ours, we must humble ourselves, confess our sins, and plead for His grace until the assurance of His acceptance comes. That’s how salvation actually takes place.

But even after we are able to “know in our knowers” that God is alive in us, we must continually and willfully keep the flow going from our spirits to our mind and to our emotions…and not allow the stream to be reversed. Those of us who are truly born again will want to do this. That is our eternal security. If the “want” is not there, neither is the life.

Therefore with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. 
Isaiah 12:3

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