I do want to say happy spring break. Some of you have already had your spring break and you’re coming back from it. You can enjoy the last few hours of it. And then the public schools around Orange County and Seminole County and some of you guys, your spring break is about to begin. So I say Congratulations to you and I hope everyone has stayed dry with all the thunderstorms that we’ve had here recently that have brought this cool weather as well. We had an opportunity Wednesday night. Amy and I hung out with the Avila small group out in the Oviedo area and to start off our discussion of the Bible, it was raining, so we just want to spend some time talking about storms. So we’re all sharing our horror stories about the worst storms that we had ever experienced. And then Christine Boyle, of course, gave us the upstate New York perspective, a different kind of storm, so to speak. She told us about as a child experiencing a Blizzard where her family survived up in Buffalo. Obviously, they did survive, but Christine was telling us it was so bad with all the snow that literally their family had to eventually dig their way out to be able to get through the door and open the windows just to get through the snow.
But whenever the conversation turns to storms, my wife always seems to come up with the scariest story. You see Amy as an eleven year old in South Miami, Amy and her family survived one of the worst storms, one of the worst Hurricanes the state of Florida has ever seen. Hurricane Andrew. If that rings a Bell with some of you look at this monster, you can see it before it comes and barrels into South Florida. It made landfall as a cat five. Max, sustained winds of 200 mph. And all of Amy’s family, they were hunkered in the hallway for hours trying to find safety. The eye went over the top of their neighborhood. It sounded like a freight train on top of them, just ripping through everything, tornadoes everywhere. And Amy’s dad was just there holding on to the doorknob just to keep his family safe for hours, just holding on, Amy and her family would have gotten sucked out of the house. It was that severe. So without something or someone to hold on to, Amy and her family certainly would have been lost. But here’s why I share this. Not only do we have the literal storms in our lives, but even more so, all of us experience the metaphorical storms as well.
And when it comes to the storms, horrific storm such as pain and suffering and tragedy, it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. All of us here today are just about to enter a storm. You’re perhaps in the middle of a storm or you’re coming out of a storm. That’s how it works. When storms come, they can be so devastating. They have the potential to destroy your faith and to just rip out your soul. So that begs the question, when the storms come, what will sustain your commitment to God and to God’s promises. This question. This is exactly what Hebrews answers for us over and over again. Please turn with me into your Bibles to Hebrews, chapter six. That’s our text for today. Hebrews chapter six. I’m skipping ahead. Eddie Francis will preach on Hebrews five next Sunday, so a lightning quick recap of Hebrews thus far. Hebrews, it’s a sermon to older Christians, and these Christians have endured. They’re still around the Church, but many are in danger of drifting away. And the overall theme of Hebrews is simply this. And it’s been said before, and you can say it with me.
Jesus is better. We must pay attention to Jesus. Jesus will restore our lost humanity. The word of Jesus is better than the prophets. Jesus is better than the Angels. Jesus is better than Moses. Jesus is better than Joshua and the rest he offered. And the author warns us all throughout Hebrews, do not drift away. Do not miss out on Jesus. And just two weeks ago, Tyler Owens gave us a recipe for rest from Hebrews chapter four. So this leads us back to our question today, when the storms come, what will sustain your commitment to God and his promises? Let’s find the answer here in Hebrews six verse nine. Hebrews six, verse nine. It says, Though we speak in this way, and I’ll stop there for a minute, in this way, we speak in this way. Well, what way? Well, in the prior section, this is what he’s referring to, speaking in this way of warning you, challenging you, confronting you. And again, Eddie’s going to cover this next week, though we speak in this way, verse nine. Yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things, things that belong to Salvation. For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name and serving the Saints as you still do.
And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness, to have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish but imitators of those who through faith and patience, inherit the promises. So overcoming the storms of life to claim God’s promises. That’s the point of this section we just read, and we see later in chapter 10 verses 32 through 36, verse 36 is highlighted on the screen. We learned that these Christians were bullied. They lost their jobs or they were thrown in jail because they followed Jesus. And the author appeals to us or appeals to them. In chapter ten, verse 36, you must endure in order to receive your promises. And here in chapter six, verses ten and eleven, same message. He feels hopeful they will endure, and he reminds them to keep on doing the right thing until the end even when the storms come. Facts, as a Christian, you will get beaten around by the waves. And our culture right now is a rip tide. It’s pulling us away, and the Bible gives us warning signs. All of the cultural rip tide. Watch out. It’s pulling us away.
Pulling us to what our instincts would tell us is better. A better life, better career, better politics, better causes, a better truth. Find a better spouse, a better soulmate, a better gender. That suits me better. And while you’re at it, give me a better Church with a better doctrine on the gay lifestyle. If you’re not getting persecuted as a Christian today, take a biblical stand on sex and see what happens next. Here comes a Hurricane. You and I are in constant danger of getting pulled away by the currents of culture, the currents that tell us that there is something better than this old way of Jesus. The storms will test you. Do you really trust God? The storms will expose with your heart has been truly transformed by the Gospel. Look again in verse twelve. Here, we’re told we must have trust and patience or we won’t last. We won’t make it. Without trust and patience, we won’t make it. These are the motivators for you to follow Jesus and to make difficult choices even when you don’t want to. Our trust and our patience in Jesus must be greater than what our instincts and our culture tell us to do.
Do you trust God? Your commitment to Jesus, your commitment to the Church? It’s only as strong as your trust and your patience in God. Now this is a picture of the attic in my old house. We moved out of that house a few months ago. The attic is not supposed to look like that. Moving out, I was clearing a lot of things out of the attic. I was in a rush, wasn’t paying close attention. And instead of stepping on the plywood or the board, I definitely stepped on the drywall ceiling. The drywall floor went straight through, and it wasn’t a clean hole either as you can see. I was clearing things out with my arms, not on purpose, hitting nails. And it was just not a good situation. It was very painful and scary because I’m scared of heights. It’s not very tall, but when you fall out of the attic, it’s quite an experience. I don’t recommend it. So I fell right through the attic floor. And a couple of months later we’re moving into a new house. New attic. No hole in the attic as far as we knew. So the first few times I’m going up in the attic to try to check it out, store things, see what’s up there.
I’m very hesitant, as you might imagine, and so I’m afraid to move. And every move is very cautious and very slow. I’m afraid to move because what’s happening? My instincts from before. Okay. My instincts are telling me you’re going to fall again.
I doubt that floor can hold me, so it was scary, but I had to move on. Eventually, I had to trust that these wood beams could more than support my weight, so that I slowly and patiently walked in the act. The reason I say this story is the same way our commitment to Jesus will be very weak until our trust in Jesus overrides our instincts. We will have our doubts about many different things having to do with God. We will doubt God’s promises. We will doubt God’s word. We will doubt God’s timing. But when this happens, the writer of Hebrews calls us to imitate those with trust and patience. And speaking of trust and patience and those incredible virtues, let’s now read verse 13. When God made a promise to Abraham, there it is. Since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, saying, Surely I will bless you and multiply you. And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise. Verse 16. For people swear by something greater than themselves and in all their disputes and oath is final for confirmation. So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise, the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.
Verse 19. We have this, the sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizidek. Abraham, and there’s really so much going on here in these eight verses. I would not be surprised if you were with me for the first couple of verses. And they’re like, what oath and promised, and it gets dense very quick here. So there’s a lot going on. Remember, again, that our author is an Old Testament gunslinger. So the original audience is steeped in Jewish history and Torah. So I think we need to take a moment and understand the teaching here with Abraham. And you’ll be familiar with some of this or perhaps a lot of it, but I think it’s important to understand the text here in Hebrews. You have in the very beginning, Genesis one through eleven, God creates the world, makes humans in his image, and he gives us honor. He gives us Dominion over all creation. He puts us in charge. But by Genesis three, we’ve already ruined it all.
It didn’t take long. And this downward spiral begins for humanity. And then in Genesis twelve, this is God’s counter move to restore humanity. And it all starts with a conversation between God and Abraham.
God promised Abraham. God will restore humanity by making Abraham a great nation. He’s going to do it through Abraham’s family. God will restore the Earth. He will restore humanity. God has a new plan. All right, so it’s going to happen through Abraham. So what needs to happen for Abraham to become a nation? Well, he and his wife Sarah need to start having babies and lots of them if you’re going to make a nation. You know the song, right, father Abraham? Yes. I thought that was fitting here. Right? Father Abraham had many sons and daughters. Okay, right. It’s both. Amen. But you really couldn’t sing the song when the promise was made, could you? How many kids do they have when this promise is made? Zero. And how old are they at this time, Eddie? As old as dirt. Yeah, you said it. I didn’t. I’m just repeating you. Abraham and Sarah, they’re in their 70s and they’ve never been able to have children. That’s who this promise is going to originally. So remember, trust and patience in God. It’s not your culture, it’s not your best instincts. And we’re condensing this story a whole bunch here.
But in Genesis 16, you need to know if you don’t know that. Abraham and Sarah struggle with doubt. They shortcut it. I think we can relate to this. They shortcut it. They find a popular cultural solution to start their family. They force God’s hand on this, and it goes horribly wrong for Hagar and Ishmael and the entire family. Then moving on to Genesis 21, the son of promise is finally born. His name is Isaac. How long did Abraham and Sarah wait for this promise to be fulfilled? 25 years. Let’s get some perspective here. 25 years ago for us was 1997. And some people are like, oh, that was only yesterday. And then others like, I wasn’t even born then. The 1900s. 1997. That should give us some perspective. I mean, how many of us in this room have even been Christians 25 years? Some have, but not many. How many have been alive since 1997? Anyone here been waiting on a specific promise from God since 1997? See, 25 years is a long time. Facts. We can complain. We can complain when God doesn’t fulfill a promise to us in six months, let alone 25 years. But Hebrews 6:15 States that Abraham patiently waited.
Abraham and Sarah waited 25 years through the terrible storms that nearly broke apart their marriage and their family, that’s trust and that’s patience in God. In Genesis 22, all of this important backstory to understanding what the Hebrew writer is teaching us. Genesis 22. This is when God tests Abraham. He asked him to sacrifice his son Isaac. And these tests, these storms, they reveal how deep and strong our commitment really is. God will test us and sometimes in the most unorthodox, unfamiliar, shocking ways, like he did with Abraham. And we just have to sit with that. God does not cause every hardship. That’s not what I’m saying, but absolutely, there are numerous times when God will test each one of us. And God, sitting from above, knows. And he knows he can work for the good of those who love him in every single situation. So in this situation, Abraham decides to trust God. He obeys God and he decides he will indeed sacrifice his son Isaac for God. And we learned later in Hebrews chapter eleven, Abraham trusts God because he knows God can reverse death to make good on this promise. So God then spares Isaac and he doubles down on his promise to Abraham with an oath.
And that’s the portion of Genesis 22 that the writer quotes here in Hebrews chapter six. Let’s look at Hebrews six again. All of it is so rich. Verse 13, for when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself. And then it goes on to talk about what this oath was and what it meant. And it’s easy to get lost in this. And I would say it’s definitely odd that God would swear by anything, right? Strange scripture here. But what the Hebrew writer is doing, the writer is using a human argument here to help us. In court, when you’re about to give your testimony, you put your hand on the Bible and you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help being God. What’s happening there? It’s a super promise, so to speak, right? What you say now is trustworthy because you’re swearing by a higher power, something bigger than you. And so if we swear by God or the Bible or whatever, if we swear by God, when we make an oath, what can God himself swear by?
And that’s what the author is saying here, because the answer is rhetorical. It’s just nothing. No one is a higher power than God. The point is God didn’t have to do this. He didn’t have to swear an oath like this because God’s word is God’s word. Why did God do this? Why did God swear on his own name, his own character, to guarantee his promise? Well, here it is. God swore an oath to Abraham to help him and to help us. God knows how weak we are. God knows the many doubts that people like Abraham and us wrestle with all of the time. Think Tim Mackey says it well here, God’s oath is an act of Grace, not because his word is ever in doubt, but because we are the ones in doubt. I love this. And I’ll say it again, to let it sink in. God’s oath is an act of Grace, and it’s not because his word is ever in doubt. It’s because we are so often in doubt. And God swears by two unchangeable things, his word and his own good name. And I really believe this should give us strong encouragement, the strong encouragement we need to hold fast to the hope set before us. In his Grace, God even lavishes an extra layer of assurance that he will indeed fulfill his promises.
And if you’re like me, you may think, well, okay, I’ve always heard the Abraham story. That’s great. I’m going to imitate his trust and patience. All right. But what is a promise made thousands of years ago on the other side of the planet have to do with me? Really? Why should I care about Genesis Twelve and Genesis 22 and what happened there? Why do I care about this promise? And in verses 16 and 17, this is when it starts to come back around to you and me. At first, we might think, well, the author is only talking about Abraham, but then the writer brilliantly turns the corner and addresses us. The oath God made was not just for the promise to Abraham. God also wants to reassure the heirs of the promise. Brothers and sisters in Christ, that’s you and me, we are heirs of the same promise made to Abraham. And it’s so important that God doubles down to reassure all of his children. The word promise appears 15 times in Hebrews. And that’s more than any other book in the Bible. Yes, there are many important warnings in Hebrews, but there’s this balance at the same time that the writer wants to make it Crystal clear that God desires his children live confidently in the promise of our Salvation.
And I love it. If God makes good on his promises to Abraham, God will make good on his promises to you. And here’s why. The promise to Abraham points forward to the promise of the Messiah. And by the way, Jesus is greater than Abraham. You see, Jesus is the fulfillment of Genesis Twelve, Genesis 22. Jesus came to restore the brokenness of humanity, our selfishness, our anger, our violence, the brokenness of our hearts. Jesus came to Earth to become the kind of human that no other human could ever be. Jesus comes, he absorbs the consequences of our sin, all this damage that we have done individually and corporately. In his death, Jesus takes all of that down to the grave. Then, in his great love and power and passion for us, God raises Jesus from the dead. And this is good news because for those of us that place our faith in Jesus, God now offers forgiveness, Grace and a restored humanity. This is the gospel. Amen? This is good news. And this is the good news that was set in motion in Genesis Twelve and Genesis 22 with that original conversation and the promise to Abraham. We are heirs of the promise.
This is the good news. And he who has ears, let them hear. And as you hear the good news this morning, as you hear this call to patiently wait on God’s promises, how will you respond? We do have some living water challenges to take with you this week to have some great conversations right after we finish today to take this to your small groups, to be talking about this, to let the word be watered and getting good soil and to grow. That’s our goal. That was the goal for the writer of Hebrews in the very beginning. Living Water Challenges First of all, I would say if you’re not a disciple of Jesus, if you have any doubts whatsoever whether you’re right with God today, if you’ve drifted away, come back home today. Come back home today. Ask for help right after the final song. Come clean, confess your sins. Jesus offers forgiveness. Jesus will restore the humanity that you’ve lost. He’s done it for me and he can do it for you. And Secondly, I’d say dig into your Bibles. This is not a new teaching. Dig into your Bibles and discover or rediscover God’s promises.
Specifically, God’s promises to you. We did this, I mentioned the small group that we were with this past week with the Avilas out in Oviedo, we all got together, we started our lesson. But then we broke up into different groups and we had everyone get in their Bibles, dig in and come back and share with the group at least one promise that God has made to you and me. Read those promises. Claim those promises. Share those promises with your neighbor or even a stranger. The world needs these promises. It’s living water. Dream about these promises coming true. And then you trust that God will make good on those promises in his timing. Again, it’s a guarantee from God with an oath. I’d say last but not least, make sure you know what God has not promised you. Satan loves to play games with this one. He is the father of lies. He twists God’s words. I’d venture to say this is one of the greatest reasons we drift away is we have the wrong concept, the wrong idea of what God has actually promised us. Satan loves this. Since the beginning, Satan wants to create a fracture of communication in our relationship between God and us.
So we get the wrong idea of what God promised us and what God didn’t promise us. We think God promised us this. It’s not happening. And then I know I can just shake my fist at God in prayer and have the audacity to say, God, why aren’t you fulfilling your promises in my life? Meanwhile, God had never promised those things to me. Get in your word. Know what God has promised and what God has not promised. Don’t let Satan’s gossip, and that’s what it is. Satan, it’s the gossip of the evil one that will turn you against the Almighty God. Know the promises. So to conclude, let’s circle back to our original question. When the storms come and remember, it’s not if it’s when when the storms come. What will sustain your commitment to God and his promises? Yes, it is trust and patience. Yes, it’s imitating the trust and the patience of Abraham and Sarah. But the writer of Hebrews has even better news when answering this important question. Let’s read again the conclusion of this section. In Hebrews 6:19, it says, we have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that now enters into the inner place behind the curtain where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.
Now we’re going to zero in on verse 19, verse 20. Just take verse 20 and store it away in your back pocket. We’re going to study that in two weeks, but we’re going to look at verse 19 here. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor for the soul. In the ancient world, the anchor was a metaphor for hope. And we all know about the symbol of the fish. We see it in people’s cars. And some of you may have this that was used in the early Church, but the early Church often used the anchor to represent Christ in the Church. So the anchor was also the first Church logo, if you will. And they had it on their website. Bumper sticker on their horse carriage. I don’t know, but that’s what it was. So this is where it comes from. All right. This very passage of scripture, the anchor because the image of an anchor is very powerful. Think about it. What’s the point of an anchor? An anchor is used to prevent something that is moveable from moving. So you need the anchor because of the storms. That’s the whole point of it, because the anchor is stronger than you. An anchor is transcendent. It keeps you fixed in position when the storms come your way. Hebrews six tells us we need an anchor and we must place our trust in something way beyond our own willpower and our own commitment.
So here’s the good news. Jesus is the anchor for our souls. That’s the good news. Jesus is the anchor for our souls. And the point of an anchor is not that everything goes well for you. Remember, it’s not a matter of if, but when the storms come. It’s a fact, your commitment to God and his promises will be tested. And to give you a head start on your homework, the promises of God are not for health or success or happiness, a soulmate or that everything just works out for you. For most people truly following Jesus, we often go through the exact opposite. Jesus never promised for everything to go well, but Jesus did promise to be our anchor. We need Jesus as our anchor to keep us from drifting away and from missing out on God’s promises. Jesus is the anchor for your soul. Jesus is stronger than you. Jesus is transcendent. Jesus will not and cannot be moved. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. Jesus is the one we must hold onto during the storms.
Jesus is the one that conquered death, hell and the grave. With Jesus as our anchor, I am confident that our best days as Christians are right in front of us.