Prepare for Passover

Are you discouraged? Are you frustrated and doubtful–perhaps so much so that you–a baptized member of the Church–are wondering whether you should partake of the annual Passover service this year? Are you tempted to give up?

At the same time, do you neglect to analyze your life–how you are doing?

The few remaining days prior to Passover especially are a time of self-reflection and analysis. The letter to the Hebrews helps us in meeting this challenge. In that epistle, Paul gives all of us life-saving admonitions and encouragement. He begins in Hebrews 2:1, by uttering this sober warning: “Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away.”

Paul cautions us not to take the truth of God for granted. Rather, we are to take great pains to retain and apply what we have been taught from God’s Word. It IS possible just to drift–to lose interest in God’s Way of Life–to find, instead, pleasure and excitement in what this world has to offer.

Paul asks us to consider very carefully our own persuasion and conviction, as well as the consequence of neglecting what we believe, know and understand, when he poses the question, “… how shall we escape if we NEGLECT so great a salvation?” (Hebrews 2:3). He warns us not to harden our hearts towards God’s teaching, especially during times of trial (Hebrews 3:8); not to “become weary and discouraged” (Hebrews 12:3); not to develop “an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God” (Hebrews 3:12); and not to “refuse Him who speaks” (Hebrews 12:25).

Because–it IS possible to neglect God’s Word; to begin to disobey Him and to reject the truth; and to depart from God. Unfortunately, MANY–over the centuries–have done just that; and Paul warns us not to follow their bad and deadly example. He encourages us to “be DILIGENT to enter that rest” of the Kingdom of God, “lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience” (Hebrews 4:11). He repeats the same warning and encouragement in Hebrews 6:11-12: “And we desire that each one of you show the same DILIGENCE to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish [or “lazy”]…”

Have you become sluggish or lazy, in studying God’s Word, applying what you understand, and obeying His voice? Or, are you diligently and continuously doing your job as a Christian? It is easy to become sluggish in respect to regular prayer, Bible study, meditation and occasional fasting. And the more we neglect these vital ingredients of a Christian life, the more we WILL develop a HABIT of neglect–until we might not be willing any more to listen to God’s Word, as explained to us by His ministers.

That is an awfully dangerous trap into which one can fall.

Paul admonishes us in Hebrews 10:35-36: “Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of ENDURANCE, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise.” He continues to encourage us in Hebrews 12:1: “… to lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with ENDURANCE the race that is set before us.”

Some brethren did not want to hear Paul’s admonition and warning, as some today may not want to read the words of this Editorial. But rather than refusing to hear, Paul encourages us today, as he encouraged the brethren at his time: “And I appeal to you, brethren, bear with the word of exhortation” (Hebrews 13:22).

We must examine ourselves to see whether our heart is right with God. And if it is, we can and will find help in times of need, as Paul clearly says: “… let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water” (Hebrews 10:22; compare Hebrews 4:16).

We can and should encourage each other in the process of our perfection (compare Hebrews 10:24-25). We should be “looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God” (Hebrews 12:15). And so, Paul was confident that “we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul” (Hebrews 10:39).

Some, however, did fall away during Paul’s time; many did over the centuries; and some will still fall away before Christ returns. Let us therefore examine ourselves truthfully and with brutal honesty. And after “having done all to stand” (Ephesians 6:13), let us eat the bread and drink the wine this Sunday evening, symbolizing the body and blood of Jesus Christ’s supreme Sacrifice. When we do, we come “to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel” (Hebrews 12:24); and we ask God the Father to make us complete, “who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant” (Hebrews 13:20).

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