How to gain an eternal inheritance by avoiding the mistakes made by the wayward wilderness wanderers. Lessons from Hebrews chapter 3.
When our life on earth ends where do we go? What is the secret of gaining eternal life? Many know that Jesus is the Way, the truth and the life and that no one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6).
But how many believers are aware of the fact that trusting Christ is merely the start of a journey on the road to heaven? It’s going to be an incredible journey where not all arrive safely.
Along the way in our earthly pilgrimage many trials, temptations, distractions and diversions await believers which may cause some to miss the intended destination—heaven and a share of Christ’s inheritance and rewards.
“Watch out! Don’t let your hearts be dulled by carousing and drunkenness, and by the worries of this life. Don’t let that day catch you unaware, like a trap. For that day will come upon everyone living on the earth. Keep alert at all times. And pray that you might be strong enough to escape these coming horrors and stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:34-36).
The above is a stern warning by Jesus not to get carried away by merry making and the pleasures of life or get caught up in the concerns and worries of life that we fail to prepare ourselves for His return.
The wandering of the rebellious Israelites in the wilderness for 40 years is highly instructive. For it highlights what we need to avoid if we desire to reach the Promised Land, a place of blessing and rest, which is a type of heaven.
In this regard, we need to turn to Hebrews chapter 3:12-15 which sheds light on the unbelief and sins of these wayward wilderness wanderers:
Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God. You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God. For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ. Remember what it says:
“Today when you hear his voice,
don’t harden your hearts
as Israel did when they rebelled.”
The moment we harden our heart—when we stop believing in God and live in sin, like the wayward wilderness wanderers—we lose our inheritance in Christ (verse 12, 14). Hence the exhortation "do not harden your heart" is repeated in verses 8 and 15 of the same chapter.
If we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ. For Christ says: If you continue to obey my teaching, you are truly my followers. He who endures till the end will be saved.
Obedience till the end is the key if we want a share in Christ’s inheritance - Heb.3:14, John 8:31, Matt. 24:13
You may wonder why I take the time to write this post. I feel many believers start well in their journey of faith but along the way they may fall away like the Israelites long ago—the wayward wilderness wanderers. Only those who remain faithful till the end, namely Joshua and Caleb, were able to enter and take possession of the Promised Land.
In conclusion, only believers who continue to study and obey the teachings of scriptures and whose faith in God remain as strong as when it first began will get to share in Christ’s inheritance.
Doesn’t John 10:27-29 teach that no one can pluck believers out of the Father’s hand?
Isn’t there eternal security for believers once and for all when they place their faith in Christ?
27 My sheep listen to My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give them eternal life, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.
Let’s examine the above passage more closely. People forget that this comforting promise found in verses 28 and 29 is preceded by verse 27 where Jesus sets out a condition: sheep (believers) must be obedient to the shepherd (Jesus) ie. know Him, listen to His voice and follow Him.
Thus the promise that God will hold on to believers’ hands (without letting them go) does not apply to backsliders, those who willfully choose to live in sin or depart from the faith (commit apostasy).
To make a claim of eternal security for all believers is too far fetched. The verse John 10:27 tells us God is faithful in keeping believers eternally secure only if they keep their side of the bargain ie. continue to be obedient and follow Him.
Being fixated on the promise of eternal security in John 10:28-29 without considering the preceding verse, John 10:27, is committing a grave error of interpretation.