“But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.” (Hebrews 3:6, KJV 1900)
In 1973, went through the United States Army Ranger School in Fort Benning Georgia. I knew in advance that this was going to be roughly three months of grueling misery. One of the things I saw in the first two weeks amazed me. Every morning after our five-mile run, calisthenics, and obstacle course, while in formation, several soldiers would ring the bell indicating they were quitting. Since this was quite humiliating for those dropping out, many started going AWOL (absent without leave) instead. They just could no put up with the mental and physical stress of the training.
Those that quit were not much different than the rest of us. They were physically fit. They had made a voluntary commitment to go through the course. They were mentally and physically capable. Yet, they quit. There was something deeper that they were missing. Something in their core. We called it intestinal fortitude. It was an issue of heart.
The writer of Hebrews after presenting the supremacy of Jesus Christ, concludes the thought by stating that we belong to Christ’s house, the church, if we hold firm to the end. I believe there is an interesting parallel to what I experienced in the Ranger School. Interestingly, we were called Rangers from the day we arrived at the school, though we had not yet graduated the course. However, any who did not graduate or dropped out, were not.
There are many in Christendom today, who have made verbal professions of faith, but have never experienced the inner work of the Holy Spirit called regeneration. Regeneration is a work done in the heart of a person, by which the Spirit changes their nature. The prophet Ezekiel spoke of this work to come (Ezek 36:25-27). The prophet Joel also spoke of this work, which began on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:17-21; Joel 2:28-32). This work of the heart is essential for without it a person, though they may make a profession of faith, is not truly a member of Christ’s house, the church.
We often wonder why those who have made professions of faith and seem so zealous in the local church suddenly drop out. They just quit. They stop worshipping. They stop serving. They move to groups with flawed doctrine. They go into deep sin and never return. It is in reference to these that the writer of Hebrews gives this exhortation. He is stating that true believers will hold to their profession until the end. Conversely, those who do not have never truly been members of Christ’s house. John wrote it this way.
“They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.” (1 John 2:19, KJV 1900)
I had a pastor once who stated it like this, “If your faith fizzles out before the end, it was flawed from the beginning.” It is a matter of the heart not the intellect. In response, Peter gives this exhortation, “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:” (2 Peter 1:10, KJV 1900)