Hebrews 3:1-19 “A Simple Faith”
I would like to start this morning by telling you a story of something that happened to me this last week. Last Sunday I was sitting in my office getting ready to preach when I looked out to the coffee percolator to note that the blue “on” light was off. Yes, it was plugged in. It should have been cooking away, but it was not. First I thought that ground-fault break on the outlet might have tripped. A few years back I had already repaired the cable by adding a new plug that had a light on it. The light was on and green, so I knew the problem was elsewhere. When all else fails, jiggle the cord. Sure enough the perking started up right away.
I took the cord home after worship to test it out with a meter. Yup, it was no good. I thought to myself that I could just order a new one on the inter-web. I spoke the words “percolator cable” into my phone’s search engine. Do you know what happened? It actually worked! Right away I could see that I did not have to order a new cable. I could easily pick one up in aisle J10 at Walmart in Lihue. Wow, it even said that there were seven of them right there waiting for me.
On Tuesday I was out in Lihue for the afternoon bible study at Pua Kea. I stopped by Walmart. I noticed how nicely all of the aisles were marked with letters and numbers. Honestly, I had never noticed that before. This was all too simple. In short course I was standing right in front of the percolator cable that I could easily buy and bring back to the church so we could have hot coffee during fellowship.
I reached out my hand and grabbed the package with the cable in it. Hmmmm, it would not come the wrack that was holding it. I tried again. Then, I noticed that there was a locking mechanism that needed a special key to release. You have all probably noticed that batteries and make-up and a whole host of other items are all under lock and key at the stores now. But really, a percolator cable is such a hot item for thieves? All the minor criminals on the island got to have their freshly brewed coffee? Right? Actually they do not keep the coffee under lock-and-key—why keep the percolator cable locked up?
Everything was soooo simple going into this. Now I had to face the hardest thing on the planet: Finding a salesperson. I did finally spy one over by the computer ink cartridges. She was helping someone. Then, two other people came up to her asking for help with a wifi router. I quickly jumped into the fray asking for my percolator cable.
“Okay, just follow me while I help these other people. . . .” I started pushing my cart around the department from one aisle to the next honing in on this salesperson. In between helping the other customers she had to ring them up at the register because you cannot simply take the item to the front. You have to pay for it there, too. I found myself helping with the choosing of a wifi router for the couple, too. This seemed to annoy the salesperson. (By the way, the salesperson is actually called an “associate” but I am not sure why. This one really did not want to associate with the customers if you ask me.)
What I thought and had earnestly hoped would have been a simple grab and go operation turned into an amazing ordeal of dealing with all these other people and store rules and policies. Yup, we have coffee this morning at fellowship! It is an astonishingly complex cup of coffee.
Now, I think about Jesus. He was a man of simple ways and simple means. He left us with a very simple faith. Our scripture from Hebrews this morning portrays that beautifully.
Jesus was born in a simple stable. He worked with his father as a carpenter. He never got a degree from a college or university. He never got a ministerial license from a denomination. He never even got a driver’s license. He had no taxpayer identification number. He never had to go through a TSA checkpoint. Everything about the man we know as Jesus Christ was really very simple—that includes the faith in God that he left with us!
So, in verse 1 we read the line “high priest of our confession.” Well the term “confession” refers to our faith. Right? If somebody asks you “What is your confession?” You would answer as a Christian: “I confess Jesus as Lord of my life.”
In verse 2 we read the line “He was faithful.” The ‘h’ of ‘he’ is capitalized meaning it is a reference to the Lord Jesus. Again in verse 6 we read “but Christ was faithful over God’s house.” Verse 7 reads “if we hold fast our confidence.” Again, the word “confidence” in this case is simple another word for faith. It comes from “con” meaning with and “fide” meaning “faith.”
I want to jump to the very end of the chapter in verse 19 “So they were unable to enter because of unbelief.” This is once more a reference to simple faith—or in this case a lack thereof. Belief in Jesus is faith in Jesus. These words are synonymous. Lack of faith is therefore unbelief in Jesus.
There was once a time in my life when I went to church and heard the man talking in front from beneath the cross, and he shared with me the very simple faith that I was loved by God. “Jesus loves me, this I know, because the Bible tells me so.” And, I heard that forgiveness was real. I knew that life was forever with the God who saved me. All I had to do was bow my head and pray and miracles would happen. That is the simple faith that we all long for.
In contrast, the writer of Hebrews brings up the story of Moses, who was indeed a man of faith. But, in this story of God’s freeing the Hebrew slaves, we see this idea of unbelief coming up. Even though God was faithful to the Hebrews, to His people, as soon as the slaves were in the desert crossing to the Promised Land, they lose faith in God. The bible tells us that while Moses was up on the Mountain getting the Ten Commandments, the Hebrews were melting gold to make an idol of a calf. They were receiving manna from heaven, yet they wanted to go back to Egypt to eat the bread there.
Once the children of Israel did finally cross into the Canaan, with Ten Commandments from God, more rules and regulations were added to the point that there really was not just a simple faith in God. You had to have a special class of people, the Levites, to interpret the faith for you!
When these same interpreters of the faith sought our Jesus, they did not express a simple faith. Instead, they tried to trap Jesus in his words. Look with me at Matthew 22:34 and on: “When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they came together, and one of them, being a lawyer, asked him which is the greatest commandment. And He said ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind. And the second commandment is that you shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the laws and the prophets.’”
You see, it is simple faith indeed. Let us say that you have come to the faith in Jesus Christ. Alleluia. Praise God. You know now exactly where to go. You know exactly which aisle it is in. You get there, and somebody seems to have put a lock on it. You are tugging on it. It won’t come off. You end up following an associate around with an empty basket instead.
I have to confess that I thought of two things after the whole ordeal. First, the percolator cord actually was not locked—only its packaging was! I could have very easily of simply opened the package and walked out of the store with it.
This is the same with our faith in God. You know, if you have to, just leave all the packaging behind if it is stopping you from getting what you need in your life. Christianity is really a very simple faith. Love God. Love your neighbors. Do these and it all will work out for you.
The other thing I thought about sincerely was that I did not have to go to that store at all to pick up the percolator cable. And, in the future I might not even do it. When I asked my phone for a percolator cable it also gave me options to just order it online and have it sent to me.
Jesus was sent to us! That means our faith was sent to us! Your faith in Jesus was sent right to you with your name on it.
Of course, you can pick it up right now right here in the church, we have a lot of faith that is not locked up in some way that you have to follow others around with an empty basket. You can pick it up “today.”
Lastly I just wanted to point out that the word “today” appears three times in our text. Check out verse 13 “Exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today.’” In the Greek text all of these “today’s” are in bold letters. They really stand out—not so in our English text.
The simple faith in God was not just yesterday’s faith. It is not some mystery faith of tomorrow. The simple faith in God is the faith we have today. I do not want you leaving here with only some vague faith in the future. I want you to leave here with faith today.