Questions for Littles: Of what is the writer confident according to v9? What do these better things accompany? What is God not unjust to do (v10)? What two things have they done toward God’s name? To whom is this ministry toward God’s name done? What does the writer desire (v11)? Unto what are they to show diligence? What are they not to become (12a)? Whom are they to imitate instead (12b)?The Scripture for the sermon this week is dripping with love.
First, there is the way the writer addresses his readers: “beloved.” He has just spoken to them a very difficult word:
a threatening word to suggest that this could happen to some of them,
a frightening word of how one can end up being abandoned by God,
and a profoundly sad word of how this happens to people precisely because Jesus comes to mean quite little to them.
There is, therefore, something precious and instructive here about the word, “beloved.” The firmness of the threat makes its tenderness that much more precious. Let us see the character of our God here, whose word it ultimately is.
Often, He is a Father who is exercising the best of His goodness and wisdom in assigning to us that which is difficult.
Sometimes a hard word like the one in vv4-8, sometimes a messenger from Satan (2Cor 12:7-10), sometimes a form of discipline (Heb 12:5-14), but always from Him who has from all eternity considered us His “beloved.”
Therefore, it is an instructive word, because it teaches to us something about how we ought to conduct ourselves. The more difficult a thing we must say, the more tender must be our affectionate manner of address, that we may imitate the character and wisdom of our Lord!
Ultimately, this love is the source of the apostolic confidence about them, because it is a love that God has not only shown to them (reproducing it in the apostle), but it is also a love that God has reproduced in them (reproducing it toward other believers).
What is the work and labor for God that He will surely not ignore? It is a “work and labor of love toward His name” (v10). How does this love toward His name show itself? By “ministry to the saints” (v10)—those people whom the Lord has declared “holy” (“saints”) by identifying them with Himself.
This, ultimately is the key to stirring up our own confidence and assurance: not navel-gazing introspection to assess whether we feel loving enough, but rather “showing the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end.”
In the diligent effort of loving God’s name, and therefore working hard to serve His people, we find that He is the One producing love in our hearts, and therefore He strengthens our assurance that He is the One who has granted unto us repentance.
We do not thereby earn our way to glory. The “promises” are still gained by “inheriting.” However, the demonstration of the family resemblance, by the Father’s Spirit within us assures us that the inheritance rightly belongs to us.
To whom should you especially express tender love? What work of service to the saints do you do?Suggested Songs: ARP16A “Keep Me, O God” or HB473 “Blest Be the Tie That Binds”