Friday, November 29, 2013

A Certain Hope Rooted in a Certain Memory

Reading: Hebrews 6  
Have you ever forgotten to do something really important? I have and the sinking feeling I get when I realize it is not pleasant. God hasn't; nor will He.
God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. (Hebrews 6:10)
As evangelicals, we are all well trained to know that all our righteousness is as filthy rags to God. We understand that with nothing in our hands we come to God. …that we are saved by Christ's works, and our own works merit nothing before God in salvation. However, we often don't know what to do with verses like this.
There are three key things this verse reveals:
  • Why God will not forget
  • What God will not forget
  • What you must not forget
Why God Will Not Forget
The foundation of all that follows in this verse is the truth that God is not unjust. In other words, it would be unjust of God to forget your work as a believer and the love you have shown Him.
And lest we think that “God is not unjust” is a distinct statement from the rest of the verse, it is worth noting, as some other translations make clear, that in the original language God not being unjust is tied directly to His not forgetting your works and love. For instance,
For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints. (Heb 6:10 NASB)
God would no sooner forget your works than He would be unjust. What God remembers, He rewards. The whole point of the writer of Hebrews reminding us that God will not forget is to assure us that God will reward us for what He remembers. This gives us hope.
What God Will Not Forget
God will not forget your works! What works? Works of love which you show God even as you help His people. It isn't that the work and showing love are two different things, but more like we might use “and” in the expression, “I'm sick and tired of...” wherein the second expression modifies the first. The works which God will not forget are the works of love which we show to His name.
When do we do works that show love toward His name? When we minister to the saints; when we serve God's people. The saints aren't a group of people who are up in heaven. The saints are the people of God to whom He has joined us in fellowship. Often they are the weaker brothers and sisters to whom whatever we do to them we do to Christ (Matthew 25:40).
Do you realize that your works matter to God? For God to remember your works means that He will reward them. The labors you do caring for God's people are not lost on God. They are not lost in the grace of God so that they don't matter.
How could all of this be true? How could “our righteousness is as filthy rags” and “God won't forget your works” both be true? This is the beauty of salvation. In salvation, God promises to remember our sins and lawless acts no more (Hebrews 8:12; 10:17)! In His mercy, God will not remember our sins; in His justice God will not forget our works and the love we show. This is possible because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for us (Hebrews 10:11-18).
Do you ever think your works don't matter to God? You are showing love to God when you help His people. This means your work in caring for people is a form of worship.
Do you think that your care for God's people doesn't really matter in eternity? It matters. You are washing Jesus feet when you are washing the feet of the saints. There will be a day in the future when all our serving God's people, the least of his brothers and sisters, will be brought up again and remembered. These things will be remembered in a way that will matter in eternity (Matthew 25:31-40).
Why does this matter to God? Because God loves His people. He loves them more than you can know. He gave His one and only Son.
What You Must Not Forget
Since God will not remember your sins and lawless deeds, and since He will reward your works of love to His people, we must not forget that He will not forget. If we remember this, we will also not forget to continue those works of love.
Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. (Hebrews 13:2)
This is a call to share our lives with those who aren't just our good friends—those who can't reward us. The “stranger” in our midst.
Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. (Hebrews 13:3)
This is a call to suffer with those who are suffering for the Gospel. It is a call to suffer with those who are unjustly suffering.
And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. (Hebrews 13:16)
This is a call to continue to live lives that do good and share with others. And notice the reason given: with such sacrifices God is pleased.
For us to know that God will not forget our works and that He will not remember our sins is intended to encourage those who have been doing good works. And it is intended to encourage them to continue and not give up doing them. The context of Hebrews 6:10 is that because God remembers, we have certainty that we will inherit the promise of God's blessing. God will not be unjust. God will never fail to keep this promise. (See Hebrews 6:11-15.)
God would no sooner forget your works than He would be unjust. Do you realize that your works, the love you show God's people, matter to God for He cannot be unjust. This gives us a certain hope rooted in God's certain memory!
Love the Gospel, Live the Gospel, Advance the Gospel,