Wednesday evening hello to each and every one of our Bethel Youth Ministry! Hope that this greets everyone well, and no one has been blown away by the Monday morning winds nor coughing too much from all of the Silverado Canyon smoke and ash! Praise and thanks be to God that apparently our congregation members and families were spared the loss of homes to the closely raging flames.
Last Lord's Day we had our guest speaker, Pastor Daniel Hyeon, address us from the Letter to the Hebrews. This letter to the Jewish-Christians of Rome was written by an exceptionally well educated someone outside of Rome who knew about the pressure that Christians were under in Rome due to persecution by the Imperial government. This persecution at this time usually meant loss of one's employment and confiscation of one's home and wealth.
Jewish Christians were in a strange position in this persecution. If Christianity was an illegal religion in the Roman Empire at the time, at least Judaism was then a legal religion. Jewish Christians could escape the consequences of persecution if they would forget the Christ and go back to the synagogue, the Jewish place of worship. In order to be accepted back into the synagogue, however, the Jewish Christians had to PUBLICLY DENY that Jesus the Christ was the Son of God, the Savior.
Think about that!
The Letter to the Hebrews was a long set of carefully detailed arguments meant to persuade the Jewish Christians of Rome not to give up on the Christ despite the terrible persecution.
Pastor Daniel noted to us that throughout the history of His chosen people, the Jews, God chose certain individuals from time to time to deliver His stern messages of warning and tender messages of redemption. These divine messengers were the prophets such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel.
Pastor Daniel read from the Letter to the Hebrews chapter 11, verse 6: “ And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”
As we learned from this passage, without faith we cannot please God. We also understand from the passage that faith has two parts: firstly, God exists. Secondly, God rewards those who earnestly seek Him. This means being completely sure of what we cannot see, and it means seeking God in with such a focus and persistence that it seems to some unbelievers that we are out of our minds.
As Pastor Daniel said, the Letter to the Hebrews reminds us now as the Jewish Christians back then, that Jesus was in one person the high priest and prophet and sacrifice once and for all. He was incomparably greater than anyone else in the Bible. He proved that He is God, and that He is the only Way.
So, to Jewish Christians of Rome (and to us) “...don't go back to your old, superseded ways!”
We are gifted with redemption from the shackles of our sins, if only we believe and continue believing no matter what! If we do believe, we each of us live day by day, day and night, a life in full surrender to our Savior.
Pastor Daniel closed with a reference from the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 13 verse 45 and 46: “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.”
Whatever the pressure from powers and authorities, don't give up the pearl of salvation!