Lest Any Man Fail

Posted by on Mar 2, 2008

By Pastor Mike Withem

First Baptist Church Of Ranson, WV

March 2, 2008

Sunday Morning

“Lest Any Man Fail”

Scripture Text: Hebrews 12:12-17

Introduction

 

A.   Normally, when we think about the grace of God, we think about saving grace.

1. The Bible says in Eph. 2:8-9, “8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

2. The Bible also says in 2 Tim. 1:8-9, “8 Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; 9 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.”

3. And so, normally, when we think about the grace of God, we think about His saving grace.

 

B.   However, did you realize that there are many other ways in which God bestows His grace upon us, in addition to His initial saving grace?

1. For example, God bestows His grace upon us every time He speaks to us (enlightens us) through His Word.

2. Listen to something that the apostle Paul said to the elders of the church at Ephesus when he met with them for the last time, “32 And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.” (Acts 20:32)

3. Notice that Paul referred to God’s Word as “the word of his grace.”

 

C.   Another example, God bestows His grace upon us every time He answers our prayers.

1. Look back, if you will, to Hebrews 4:15-16, it says, “15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”

2. Whether we realize it or not, every answered prayer is another bestowal of God’s grace upon us.

 

D.   A third example, God bestows His grace upon us every time He ministers to us through His indwelling Holy Spirit.

1. Every time He leads us.

2. Every time He convicts us.

3. Every time He comforts and encourages us.

4. Every time He reminds us of Biblical truth that we have learned in the past.

5. Every time the Holy Spirit ministers to us in any way, God is bestowing His grace upon us.

6. This is why the Holy Spirit is referred to as “the Spirit of grace” in Heb. 10:29.

 

E.   And so, there are many other ways in which God bestows His grace upon us, in addition to His initial saving grace.

1. The reason I’m pointing this out is because of the exhortation that is found in Vrs. 15 of our text.

2. Notice again the first part of that verse, it says, “15 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God;”

3. In other words, “…lest any believer fail to avail himself of (enjoy the benefits of) the many different ways in which God bestows His grace upon us.”

4. Let me illustrate it like this.

5. God has this marvelous fountain of grace that is continually flowing.

6. We drank from this fountain the day that God saved us.

7. Do you remember that day?

8. Do you remember how sweet it was?

9. Do you remember the joy that flooded your soul?

10.   We drank from God’s fountain of grace the day that God saved us, however, this fountain is still flowing, and the reason it is still flowing is because God’s reservoir of grace is unlimited.

11.   What the writer of Hebrews is telling us here is that we need to keep going back to this fountain, not to get saved again, but rather to take advantage of other ways that God bestows His grace upon us.

12.   Every time we read God’s Word, we are going back to the fountain.

13.   Every time we pray, we are going back to the fountain.

14.   Every time we submit to the Holy Spirit’s leading in our lives, we are going back to the fountain.

 

F.    This morning, I want us to notice at least three benefits of going back to the fountain (availing ourselves to all of the different ways that God bestows His grace upon us.)

 

G.   First of all,…

 

I.       We Will Be Strengthened.

 

A.   Notice again Vrs. 12-13 of our text, “12 Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; 13 And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.”

1. Apparently, the writer of Hebrews is returning to his comparison (allegory) of the Christian life to a foot race.

2. He talks about “hands” that are hanging down, and “knees” that have grown “feeble” and “feet” that have become “lame.”

2. I’m told that one of the first signs that a distance runner is getting tired is that his “hands” begin to “hang down” or drop.

3. I’m also told that the second sign is that his “knees” become “feeble” or weak.

4. Clearly, the writer of Hebrews here is describing a long distance runner who is beginning to show signs of weariness or fatigue.

 

B.   What does this have to do with living the Christian life?

1. Well, the fact is, Christians sometimes become weary of living the Christian life.

2. Not physically weary, but spiritually weary.

3. For example, trials and tribulations can make us weary.

4. The believers in Thessalonica knew all about trials and tribulations.

5. Listen to what Paul wrote to them in 1 Thess. 3:3-4, “3 That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto. 4 For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know.”

6. And so, sometimes trials and tribulations can make us weary.

7. Persecution (opposition) can also make us weary.

8. Listen to what Paul wrote in 2 Tim. 3:12, “12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”

9. These Jewish believers to whom the book of Hebrews was written knew all about persecution.

10.   And so, sometimes persecution can make us weary.

11.   Ministry can also make us weary.

12.   Listen to Paul’s admonition to the Galatian believers recorded in Gal. 6:9, “9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”

13.   The fact is, there are a lot of things that can make us spiritually weary (weary in our Christian walk).

 

C.   The question is, “What should we do when we become weary?”

1. Some believers just quit!

2. However, there’s no reason to quit!

3. Do you remember the fountain that I was talking about a moment ago, the fountain of God’s grace?

4. When we become weary, we should go to that fountain and take a big drink of God’s grace.

5. We should immerse ourselves in the Word.

6. We should lose ourselves in fervent prayer.

7. We should yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit’s leading.

8. By drinking from the fountain of God’s grace, we will find the strength to go on, even when part of us feels like quitting.

 

D.   And so, when we drink from the fountain of God’s grace, we will be strengthened. Notice also that…

 

II.      We Will Be Sanctified.

 

A.   Notice again Vrs. 14-16 of our text, “14 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: 15 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; 16 Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.”

 

B.   First of all, I want to deal with the phrase “…without which no man shall see the Lord” in Vrs. 14.

1. At first glance, it appears to be saying that one of the requirements for heaven is personal “holiness.”

2. This, of course, is not the case.

3. The Bible tells us elsewhere that the only requirement for heaven is simple faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ (the blood He shed on our behalf).

4. What you have to understand is that this verse is talking about two different kinds of holiness.

5. The “holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” is a positional holiness (righteousness) that we receive the moment we trust Christ as our Savior.

6. Paul talks about this positional righteousness throughout his letter to the believers in Rome.

7. One example is Rom. 4:4-5, “4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. 5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”

8. The writer of Hebrews mentioned this positional righteousness back in Heb. 11:4. Look back at the first part of that verse, it says, “4 By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous.”

9. And so, when the writer of Hebrews talks about the “…holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord,” he was talking about the positional righteousness that we receive the moment we trust Christ.

 

C.   Notice, however, that the writer of Hebrews also admonishes to “follow” after “holiness.”

1. The holiness that we are to follow after is not a positional holiness, but rather a practical holiness.

2. In other words, those who have been made righteous by trusting Christ as Savior, should afterwards make every effort to live a holy (righteous) life.

3. Listen to Peter’s admonition found in 1 Pet. 1:15-16, “15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”

 

D.   Now this raises a question, “How can we achieve any significant degree of practical holiness when we have so many different things working against us?”

1. We have the world working against us.

2. We have the devil working against us.

3. We have our own sinful flesh working against us.

4. How can we achieve any significant degree of practical holiness when we have all of these things working against us?

5. Remember that fountain, the fountain of God’s grace?

6. That fountain is still flowing, it hasn’t run dry!

7. There is still plenty of grace available to help us live the kind of life that God would have us to live.

8. We just have to avail ourselves to it (drink from it).

9. We should immerse ourselves in the Word.

10.   We should lose ourselves in fervent prayer.

11.   We should yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit’s leading.

12.   By drinking from the fountain of God’s grace, we will find the ability to live, not a perfect life, but a holy life, a life that will be pleasing in the sight of the Lord.

 

E.   Notice that the writer of Hebrews gives us some outward signs that a believer is lacking in personal holiness.

1. He talks about following “peace with all men,” and avoiding the “root of bitterness.” (Vrs. 14-15)

2. Are you at odds with someone this morning?

3. Are you bitter toward someone this morning?

4. Do you have the “root of bitterness springing up” to “trouble you”?

5. If so, I know something about you.

6. You haven’t been to the fountain lately.

7. You haven’t been drinking from the fountain of God’s amazing grace.

8. You haven’t been availing yourself of the many different ways that you can continually benefit from the grace of our God in your life.

9. Don’t you think it is about time that you return to that fountain?

 

F.    The writer of Hebrews also gives us an example of someone who is lacking in personal holiness, his name was “Esau.”

1. Notice that he calls “Esau” a “profane person.” (Vrs. 16)

2. This does not mean that Esau used profanity (bad language), although he may very well have done that.

3. What it means is that Esau lacked holiness.

4. In fact, the word translated “profane” here literally means “wicked or heathenish.”

5. Esau had one goal in life, and that was to satisfy the desires of his sinful flesh. (He had no desire whatsoever for the things of God.)

6. Can you identify to any degree with Esau?

7. If so, you need to get yourself to the fountain of God’s grace.

 

G.   And so, when we drink from the fountain of God’s grace, we will be sanctified. May I say, also (and finally), that…

 

III.    We Will Be Satisfied.

 

A.   In other words, when we come to the end of our lives, we will have no regrets.

 

B.   Notice again Vrs. 17 of our text, “17 For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.”

1. I’m sure most of you know the story of Esau.

2. As we were told in Vrs. 16, Esau “sold his birthright” for “one morsel of meat.”

3. Afterwards, he regretted what he had done, but it was too late to undo his actions, even though he was truly sorry for the mistake he had made (“sought it..with tears”).

 

C.   I’m afraid that many Christians, when they come to the end of their lives, like Esau, will have many regrets.

1. They will regret not having lived their lives for God.

2. They will regret having wasted their lives seeking after things that have no eternal value.

3. They will regret having given up spiritual treasures for worldly pursuits that bring no eternal satisfaction.

 

D.   But you say, “Pastor, I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to waste my life. I don’t want to miss out on those spiritual treasures!”

1. Okay, then here’s what you should do.

2. You should drink from that fountain, the fountain of God’s grace, and you should drink from it often,.

3. Those who drink from that fountain often, those who…

-immerse themselves in the Word open,

-lose themselves in fervent prayer often,

-follow the Holy Spirit’s leading often,

will have no regrets when they come to the end of their lives.

Conclusion:

 

A.   As I get ready to close, I want us to look one more time at the first part of Vrs. 15, it says, “15 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God.”

1. In other words, “Be careful that you don’t neglect to avail yourself to that ever flowing fountain of God’s grace.

2. May I ask you a personal question? “When was the last time that you drank from that fountain?”

 

B.   Perhaps I am speaking to someone this morning who has yet to drink from this fountain for the first time.

1. Someone who has yet to experience the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

2. If I am talking about you, this morning, may I invite you to come and drink from this fountain.

3. Do you remember what our Lord Jesus told the Samaritan woman whom He met at Jacob’s well?

4. He said, “14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” (John 4:14)