The Former Days

Recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings” (Heb. 10:32).

- Hebrews 10:32–33

Over the past few days we have been examining the exhortations the author of the letter to the Hebrews gives to his audience in order to help them remain faithful to the Gospel. We have seen that it is necessary for Christians to encourage one another (10:24–25) so that they can overcome deliberate sin (vv. 26–27). Such sin will lead a person into apostasy and into the fearful judgment that will come to all who profess faith in Christ but then later fall away (vv. 28–31).

These teachings can be hard to receive. They point out one of the many tensions in which we now must live. We know that God preserves all those who have true faith (John 6:39; Rom. 8:29–30). Yet at the same time we see that we contribute to our perseverance. We hold onto our faith; we strive to grow in grace.

This is not to say that we earn salvation. Our efforts do not add to our redemption, nor are they meritorious in any sense. In the end, the only reason we hold onto Christ at all is because of the Holy Spirit’s sovereign work in our hearts. Nevertheless, God has ordained that one way in which He preserves us is by giving us warnings that motivate us to make the real and meaningful decision to persevere.

The warnings in Hebrews 10:26–31 might give us the impression that no one in the original audience of this epistle had true faith. But this is not the case. Today’s passage begins to offer some comfort and assurance to the audience regarding the state of their souls. Verses 32–39 remind us once again that the author had confidence that some, if not all, in his audience were true believers and would persevere to the end. As we have said before, such confidence is possible only because he knew that those with true faith can never lose their salvation.

In verses 32–33 the author calls his audience to remember the day when they were first enlightened. In those days they endured in faith despite all their sufferings. Our author is saying that if they could endure then, they could still endure at this later point in their lives.

We see that while we must never base our assurance solely on a decision that we made years ago, it is still appropriate to remember the days when we were first converted. For when we do this, we remember the joy and assurance that Christ gives to His children, joy and assurance that can be ours again if we continue to persevere in our faith.

Coram Deo

Are you struggling because you do not feel any of the joy or assurance that we should have as believers? If so, look back on your conversion or other moments in your life when you have felt particularly close to God. Let these past evidences of God’s work in your life motivate you to trust God’s promises.

Passages for Further Study

Isa. 46:8–10
Jer. 2:1–3
Phil 1:3–11
Col. 2:1–5

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you do not make more than 500 physical copies. For web posting, a link to this document on our website is preferred (where applicable). If no such link exists, simply link to www.ligonier.org.

Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: From Ligonier Ministries, the teaching fellowship of R.C. Sproul. All rights reserved. Website: www.ligonier.org | Phone: 1-800-435-4343