HOLD FAST TO THE END AND DO NOT BECOME SLUGGISH!

26th of the 12th month 2016/2017

Shalom all,

Iḇ’rim/Hebrews 6:11-12And we desire that each one of you show the same eagerness, to the entire confirmation of expectation until the end, 12 in order that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through belief and patience inherit the promises.

After issuing a clear warning against falling away from the Truth, the writer of this letter encourages the readers to be steadfast in showing a true eagerness for the Truth and be on guard against the dangers of becoming sluggish. It is these words that I want us to carefully consider and recognise how important it is for us to make sure that we do not become lazy in any way. In a brief message called, ‘HOLD FAST TO THE END AND DO NOT BECOME SLUGGISH!’ I will take a closer look at the contrast between eagerness and laziness!

These words from part of an exhortation to steadfastness, a repeated theme that we see being expressed throughout the entire letter to the Iḇ’rim/Hebrews. The basic message contained in these two verses is simply this:

“Keep showing the same diligence of complete set-apartness and do not become sluggish in your fervent love for Elohim and the body of Messiah!”

Many had started to become lazy and were sinking into a kind of ‘spiritual listlessness’ as their initial love and zeal for the Truth had begun to grow cold, causing their true zeal for set-apartness to wane and lose its importance in their lives due to increasing persecutions and pressures being exerted upon them. As we consider these words we must also take heed that we do not find ourselves becomes sluggish in our duties and be on guard against simply ‘going through the motions’ of doing what should be done out a sense of duty rather than love. When we continue to show the same eagerness we began with and do so out of a complete love for Elohim and each other, then our ‘duties’, as set-apart ambassadors of the Most High, will not be deemed as laborious and boring or too hard to accomplish but will be done with great eagerness and passionate zeal that continually seeks to please our Master, being clearly evidenced in the joyous service we render unto Elohim and one another on a daily basis!

There are many today who are professing to be true believers in Messiah yet they display no zeal or eagerness as their sluggishness in guarding righteousness is clearly evident by the amount of compromise they allow in their lives, while vainly justifying their lack of zealous obedience that ought to be present due to increased pressures in their daily lives! In other words, many have lost the eagerness that they once had and have become sluggish because they claim that they are ‘too busy’. One’s zeal and eagerness for true set-apartness in Elohim should never be determined by how busy one is or not, and here in this letter we see the writer earnestly calling for the hearers of this letter to keep holding fast to the eagerness that they have previously shown in their labour of love toward Elohim and in doing so they would be guarded against sluggishness!

Today we are also to be greatly encouraged through these words to be constantly eager in our love for Elohim, holding fast till the end, so we will not be found to be sluggish in our labour of love and pursuit of apartness!

I would like to look at a couple of the words that are used here and highlight how dangerous laziness or sluggishness is, when not guarded against, as it may not necessarily be obvious at first, especially when vain excuses are used to justify compromise due to hectic and busy schedules.

In verse 11  we are called to ‘show’ the same eagerness and the Greek word that is translated as ‘show’ is ἐνδείκνυμι endeiknumi – Strong’s G1731 which means, to indicate by word or action, prove, demonstrate, show, manifest, display, and is constructed from two words: 1 - ἐν en – Strong’s G1722 which is a primary preposition denoting position and by implying the state of being instrumental meaning, in or on, with, by; and 2 - δείκνυμι deiknumi – Strong’s G1166 which means, show, expose to the eyes, give evidence or proof of a thing, to show by words or teaching.

This word δείκνυμι deiknumi – Strong’s G1166 is used in:

Ya’aqoḇ/James 2:17-18So also belief, if it does not have works, is in itself dead. 18 But someone might say, “You have belief, and I have works.” Show me your belief without your works, and I shall show you my belief by my works.

Ya’aqoḇ put forth a very clear challenge in regards to one’s belief/faith in Elohim and basically said, ‘Show me yours without works and I will show you mine by my works!’

The Greek word that is translated here for ‘works’ is ἔργον ergon – Strong’s G2041 which means, works, labour, business, employment, behaviour, deeds, and we can be reminded of the words of our Master to the assembly in Sardis:

Ḥazon/Revelation 3:1-2And to the messenger of the assembly in Sardis write, ‘He who has the seven Spirits of Elohim and the seven stars, says this, “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. 2 “Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete before Elohim.

Messiah was telling this assembly, “I know your works… and they have not been found to be complete before Elohim!

In Mattithyahu/Matthew 5:16 יהושע Messiah tells us that we are the light of the world and that we must not hide the light, but that we should shine the light of His Truth in everything we do, and that our light should shine before all men, so that they see our good works and praise our Father who is in the heavens!

Guess what the very next words of the Master are, after telling us to let our ‘good works’ be seen by all….:

Mattithyahu/Matthew 5:17 “Do not think that I came to destroy the Torah or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to complete.

The clarity of His Word is made plain in telling us that we shall be unable to let our good works be seen by all if we destroy the Torah and the Prophets! In other words, ‘works’ that are done without the perfection of the Torah are not deemed to be ‘good works’ by our Elohim, no matter how good they may seem in the eyes of the flesh!

To the assembly in Sardis Messiah says that their works have not been found complete before Elohim! The Greek word translated as ‘complete’ is πληρόω  plēroō – Strong’s G4137 which means, to make full, complete, accomplish’. This is the same word used in Mattithyahu/Matthew 5:17, and this means, in essence, to fully meet what is required, and not to finish and be done with! We cannot change His Word to suite ourselves and try to fashion and shape it to fit into our comfort zones – His Word is the same yesterday, today and forever and He does not change and so we should not attempt in any way to change that which He has given us through His written Word!

As we consider the clear call to wake up and strengthen what remains being given to the assembly in Sardis we are to recognise how important it is for us to not let our works become dead works due to compromise that sets in over time!

In Kěpha Bět/2 Peter 1 we see Kěpha listing for some very important qualities or characteristics that will equip us to be able to stand firm and protected from stumbling. The qualities/characteristics that he lists are:

BELIEF – UPRIGHTNESS – KNOWLEDGE – SELF-CONTROL – ENDURANCE – REVERENCE – BROTHERLY AFFECTION – LOVE

For more on these please see the message called, HAVING ESCAPED FROM THE CORRUPTION IN THE WORD, CAUSE BY LUST’ under the sermons 2016/2017 menu on our site (http://atfotc.com) or by simply clicking on the following link:

http://atfotc.com/index.php/our-sermons/sermons-2016-2017/700-having-escaped-from-the-corruption-in-the-world-caused-by-lust-2-peter-1-1-11

When these qualities are being continually added to one another in increasing measure each day, we shall never be inactive nor without fruit in the Master and our works will not be dead works, nor will we become sluggish or idle in duty!

How are your works being shown before all? Does everyone you meet recognise or know what you believe and who it is you believe in or are you hiding the light that ought to be in you due to increasing pressures and persecutions?

How is your eagerness to do the good works of loving obedience at all times?

Have you found that you have grown cold and have fallen asleep to doing what you know you should be doing and find that whatever you are doing unto Elohim has become a mundane duty rather than an expression of your committed love and devotion to Him as Master and Elohim who saves?

The Greek word that is translated as ‘eagerness’ in Iḇ’rim/Hebrews 6:11 is σπουδή spoudē – Strong’s G4710 which means, haste, diligence, earnestness, effort, hurry, striving after and comes from the root word σπεύδω speudō – Strong’s G4692 which means, to hasten, urge on, hurrying, and we see this Greek word used in:

Kěpha Bět/2 Peter 3:11-12 “Seeing all these are to be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be in set-apart behaviour and reverence, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of Elohim, through which the heavens shall be destroyed, being set on fire, and the elements melt with intense heat!

With this Greek word σπεύδω speudō – Strong’s G4692 being used here for ‘hastening’ the coming of the day of Elohim, we recognise that our obedience is the way that we are able to do this, even under the heaviest of persecutions, so that His Word brings us to a set-apart perfect place of living without compromise, guarding His commands with great faithfulness, being trustworthy with the Good deposit of His Word in us and never being sluggish or lazy!

What the writer of Iḇ’rim/Hebrews is telling us is that we are to hold on or keep the same diligence of complete obedience unto Elohim, firm unto the end, for then our confirmation of our hope will be complete at the end, when our Master returns!

The Greek word that is translated as ‘confirmation’ is πληροφορία plērophoria – Strong’s G4136 which means, full assurance, conviction, most certain confidence and comes from the root word πληροφορέω plērophoreō – Strong’s G4135 which means, to bring in full measure, fulfill, fully accomplish, fully convinced, fully persuaded, which comes from two root words that collectively can carry the meaning of ‘being constantly full or mature in bearing or wearing’.

The reason for mentioning this is to highlight how our ‘continual and mature wearing of the complete armour of Elohim’ can only be faithfully accomplished when we our belief is completely persuaded in the promises of Elohim, as Aḇraham was:

Romiyim/Romans 4:19-22 “And not having grown weak in belief, he did not consider his own body, already dead, being about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb, 20 he did not hesitate about the promise of Elohim through unbelief, but was strengthened in belief, giving esteem to Elohim, 21 and being completely persuaded that what He had promised He was also able to do. 22 Therefore also “it was reckoned to him for righteousness.”

 We often find that one of the main reasons that the love of many grow cold or why many become sluggish is that they are not completely persuaded that Elohim will do what He has promised, and when they neglect to guard righteousness due to a drifting away through compromise they fail to continue in the same eagerness that they once had!

 

The exhortation here in Iḇ’rim/Hebrews 6 is clear – keep your eagerness firm to the end so that you do not become sluggish in your works and duty of set-apartness and incomplete works of obedience before Elohim with!

 

The Greek word that is translated as ‘sluggish’ is νωθρός nōthros – Strong’s G3576 which means, sluggishness, slow. Lazy, slothful, dull and this word is only used twice in the Renewed Writings (N.T.), both of which are found in the letter to the Iḇ’rim/Hebrews. The other verse in this letter where we see this word being used in in:

Iḇ’rim/Hebrews 5:11 concerning whom we have much to say, and hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing.

The writer was telling was telling his audience that they had become dull of hearing, and the Greek word νωθρός nōthros – Strong’s G3576 is translated here as ‘dull’. They had become lazy in their hearing of the Truth and as a result they could not receive the meat/solid food of the Word, as they needed milk all over again, showing that they were inexperienced and immature! The danger of this is that they could never go on to perfection; and sadly we take note that many who have tasted the Good News yet grow sluggish in their hearing and become lazy often fall away. In chapter 6 the danger of this dullness is made clear as we see that it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, having tasted the Good Word and been partakers of the set-apart spirit, to be renewed to repentance! We must not become sluggish in hearing! Hear what the Spirit is saying to the assembly! When you grow lazy in hearing the Word you become malnourished and lose your senses and become deaf, unable to hear the Truth any longer! Let us not become deaf but rather go on to perfection by showing the same eagerness as we did when our Master called us out of darkness into His marvellous light!

 

This Greek adjective νωθρός nōthros – Strong’s G3576 is a derivative of the root word νόθος nothos – Strong’s G3541 which means, a bastard, illegitimate children and is used in:

Iḇ’rim/Hebrews 12:8But if you are without discipline, of which all have become sharers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.

Those who are without discipline clearly do not hear the Truth as they have closed their ears in stubbornness and rebellion. We therefore recognise that those who are dull of hearing or those that becomes sluggish in their work of the belief shall not be called sons of Elohim, but shall rather be cast out as illegitimate! Ḥazon/Revelation makes this very clear:

Ḥazon/Revelation 21:7-8The one who overcomes shall inherit all this, and I shall be his Elohim and he shall be My son. 8 “But as for the cowardly, and untrustworthy, and abominable, and murderers, and those who whore, and drug sorcerers, and idolaters, and all the false, their part is in the lake which burns with fire and sulphur, which is the second death.

The Greek word that is translated here in Ḥazon/Revelation 21:7as ‘overcome’ is νικάω nikaō – Strong’s G3528 which means, to conquer, prevail, overcome, victorious. As we stay in our Master and Elohim by guarding His commands and walking in set-apartness, we are equipped with courage to overcome! The promises given to those who overcome in the messages given to the assemblies in Ḥazon/Revelation give us a boost of encouragement to hold fast to the Truth and endure!

To those in Ephesos:

Ḥazon/Revelation 2:7He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the assemblies. To him who overcomes I shall give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of Elohim.”

To those in Smurna:

Ḥazon/Revelation 2:11He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the assemblies. He who overcomes shall by no means be harmed by the second death.

To those in Pergamos:

Ḥazon/Revelation 2:17He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the assemblies. To him who overcomes I shall give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I shall give him a white stone, and on the stone a renewed Name written which no one knows except him who receives it.”

To those in Thyatira:

Ḥazon/Revelation 2:26And he who overcomes, and guards My works until the end, to him I shall give authority over the nations

To those in Sardis:

Ḥazon/Revelation 3:5 He who overcomes shall be dressed in white robes, and I shall by no means blot out his name from the Book of Life, but I shall confess his name before My Father and before His messengers.

To those in Philadelphia:

Ḥazon/Revelation 3:12He who overcomes, I shall make him a supporting post in the Dwelling Place of My Elohim, and he shall by no means go out. And I shall write on him the Name of My Elohim and the name of the city of My Elohim, the renewed Yerushalayim, which comes down out of the heaven from My Elohim, and My renewed Name.

To those in Laodikeia:

Ḥazon/Revelation 3:21To him who overcomes I shall give to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.

One can be greatly encouraged as we see the collective blessing of overcoming the pressures and trials that we face, for those who overcome will get to eat of the tree of life and the second death will have no power over them as they have access back to the tree of life! Overcomers get to eat of the hidden manna and authority over the nations will be given to them for they will be able to rightly rule with proper discernment! Overcomers shall be dressed in white robes and have assurance that their names will never be blotted out and will become supporting posts in the Dwelling Place of Elohim and be given to sit with the Master on His Throne!

This in itself ought to be sufficient encouragement to endure and overcome!

Romiyim/Romans 12:21 “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Yoḥanan Aleph/1 John 5:3-5For this is the love for Elohim, that we guard His commands, and His commands are not heavy, 4 because everyone having been born of Elohim overcomes the world. And this is the overcoming that has overcome the world: our belief. 5 Who is the one who overcomes the world but he who believes that יהושע is the Son of Elohim?

 

Do not become sluggish which happens when one fails to overcome by not staying in the Master and guarding His Word!

 

The Greek word for ‘sluggish’ – νωθρός nōthros – Strong’s G3576 – is used in the LXX (Septuagint – Greek translation of the Tanak – O.T.) in:

Mishlĕ/Proverbs 22:29Do you see a man who is skilled in his work? He does stand before sovereigns, He does not stand before obscure ones.

The one who is skilled and always ready to serve is one who will stand before sovereigns and not before obscure ones!

What Shelomoh is telling us here is that the one whose work is of a high standard is the one who will get promoted. This parable ought to encourage us to strive for a high standard of workmanship, especially as we recognise that whatever we do, we work unto the Master and should therefore never be slack or idle in duty. In fact this word used here for ‘skilled’ gives us a completely opposite picture to the one who is idle and slack, and emphasises one who prioritises his responsibilities and does his utmost to give his best all the time! This must be the true quality of a set-apart one of the Master in all they do!

As we consider this saying may we all be urgent in our pursuit of apartness for then we shall stand before our Mighty Elohim and King!

Romiyim/Romans 12:9-11 “Let love be without hypocrisy. Shrink from what is wicked, cling to what is good. 10 In brotherly love, tenderly loving towards one another, in appreciation, giving preference to each other; 11 not idle in duty, ardent in spirit, serving the Master

The Hebrew word that is translated as ‘skilled’ in Mishlĕ/Proverbs 22:29 is the adjective מָהִיר mahir – Strong’s H4106 which means, quick, prompt, ready, skilled, and comes from the root verb מָהַר mahar – Strong’s H4116 which means, to hasten, act quickly, prepare, make speed’. This verb is used 3 times in:

Berěshith/Genesis 18:6-7So Aḇraham ran into the tent to Sarah and said, “Hurry, make ready three measures of fine flour, knead it and make cakes. 7 And Aḇraham ran to the herd, took a tender and good calf, gave it to a young man, and he hurried to prepare it.

We have a responsibility to be ‘in haste’ in regards to living set-apart lives and walking in complete reverence of Messiah! What we are to recognise is that while many wicked are in a hurry to shed blood and practice evil, we must be in a hurry, so to speak, to do good. To be in a hurry to do something speaks of the urgency with which one does that which they desire to do without losing any time.

 

As we consider the various words we have already looked at, let me ask you, ‘Are you skilled or are you sluggish?’

‘Do you show the same eagerness you once did or have you become sluggish?

In this passage from Iḇ’rim/Hebrews 6 that we have been taking a closer look at we are clearly warned against becoming sluggish in our work and are called to be imitators of those who through belief and patience inherit the promises!

The Greek word that is translated here as ‘imitate’ is μιμητής  ‘mimētēs’ – G3402 and simply means ‘to imitate or to follow’, and we get our English word ‘mimic’ from this word. This word is also used in:

Eph’siyim/Ephesians 5:1-2 “Become, then, imitators of Elohim as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Messiah also has loved us, and gave Himself for us, a gift and an offering to Elohim for a sweet-smelling fragrance.

Now a mimic is one who impersonates and copies, or is a replica of someone else.

The word ‘imitate’ simply means to follow as a pattern, a model or an example; and to be or appear like – in other words resemble and to produce a copy of or reproduce.

Yoḥanan Aleph/1 John 2:6The one who says he stays in Him ought himself also to walk, even as He walked.

We who say we ‘stay in’ our Master and Elohim, ought to walk as He walked, and this therefore calls for us to present our bodies as a living offering – set-apart, well-pleasing to Elohim – for this is our reasonable worship.

Sha’ul tells us in:

Qorintiyim Bět/2 Corinthians 2:14-16But thanks be to Elohim who always leads us on, to overcome in Messiah, and manifests through us the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. 15 Because we are to Elohim the fragrance of Messiah among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are the smell of death to death, and to the other the fragrance of life to life. And who is competent for these?

As we face daily battles and struggles we can give a continual thanksgiving offering unto our Mighty Elohim who always leads us on, to be overcomers in Messiah, and we can manifest the sweet fragrance of His knowledge as we stay in Him! This sweet fragrance of the knowledge of Messiah that is manifest in our lives, as we live completely set-apart lives unto our Master, will be a fragrance of life to those being saved, while at the same time will be a fragrance of death to those who are perishing! The same fragrance that is life to some and death to others! Sha’ul asks the question of who is competent for these, and he makes it clear in:

Qorintiyim Bět/2 Corinthians 3:5-6Not that we are competent in ourselves to reckon any matter as from ourselves, but our competence is from Elohim, 6 who also made us competent as servants of a renewed covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit, for the letter kills but the Spirit gives life.

Our Master יהושע Messiah makes it clear in Yoḥanan/John 15 that without Him we are able to do nought, and we who stay in Him will bear much fruit. Our ability to be the fragrance of the knowledge of Elohim requires our ability to be steadfast in staying in Him and enduring under many trials and battles we face each day, so that we can be the sweet fragrance of Messiah, as true ambassadors of His coming Reign!

In a world that is growing more and more corrupt by the day we recognise that the dangers of drifting away from the Truth and very real and the dangers of becoming dull of hearing the truth are real too, especially as we see how many are falling away from their once secure stand in the Truth; as their lives are being weighed down by the deceit of riches and the worries of this age. Despite the depravity of the age we are living in we have been given the treasure of the truth in our earthen vessels and we are called to guard and hold fast until the end, so that we can always bear the fruit pf our Master and never become idle in duty before His face.

May this brief message stir in you a renewed eagerness to hold firm the sure calling you have in the Master and awaken in you the clear and present dangers of sluggishness that causes a dullness to hear which causes a drifting away from the Truth, in order that you:

HOLD FAST TO THE END AND DO NOT BECOME SLUGGISH!

As you look intently into the mirror of the Word how is your eagerness being shown? Are you being a true imitator of Elohim? Or have you found that you have allowed compromise to set you on a drifting path of sluggishness and have become very slack or idle in guarding the Truth with the passionate zeal that you once had for the Truth?

Let this message awaken in you the need to show the same eagerness you began this race of set-apartness with and do your utmost in taking heed what the Spirit is saying to the Bride of Messiah, calling for complete set-apartness and a zealous love for Elohim that never grows cold.

Have you found that you have simply being going through the motions of an assumed obedience yet found that ding what you know you should be doing becoming dull and boring? Then wake up from your slumber and re-establish and hold fast a firm eagerness and love for Elohim the end!

Have you found that your desire to gather with the Body of Messiah has simply become a duty rather than a response of eager love for Elohim? I have noted over the years how some will gather on the Sabbaths and Feasts of יהוה only when it is convenient for them and when they do they are not doing it from a zealous and eager place of love but rather from a place of ‘I know I must so I better do so’! When something is done out of a ‘sense of duty’ that would rather not be done then it is clear that sluggishness has set in and the same eagerness which once was, is no more! How about you?

When the same eagerness is held firmly fast to until the end then love for Elohim and toward one another in the body will be clearly evident, not just on the Sabbaths and Feasts, but on every day, making the gathering together on the Sabbaths and Feasts a joyous event, done out of a loving and zealous eagerness for Elohim!

In a time when the pressures of this world are increasing at an alarming rate, we need to be reminded constantly that we do have a duty to hold fast to the end and not become sluggish. Let your eagerness be shown in what you do and let love be without hypocrisy!!! Do not put on a show for everyone, once in a while, but let love be real and seen in the eagerness shown for Elohim and continue to attend to the set-apart ones as you should.

HOLD FAST TO THE END AND DO NOT BECOME SLUGGISH!

As we consider the pressures that we shall face for living reverently in Messiah, let us be trustworthy until death and never let go of our steadfast duty of manifesting the fragrance of our King! Hear this call for endurance as you hear what the Spirit is saying to us as an assembly that seeks to manifest the powerful fragrance of our Master and Elohim!

Maybe you have been facing some intense pressures and even some crippling times of poverty, and have been disgusted by the blasphemous living of whitewashed wanna-be believers. Know this – our Master knows what you have been going through and He knows all you have been doing, and He is calling us all to endure and be trustworthy until the end, for our reward is in the heavens!

HOLD FAST TO THE END AND DO NOT BECOME SLUGGISH!

 

יהוה bless you and guard you; יהוה make His face shine upon you and show you favour; יהוה lift up His face to you and give you Shalom!