“But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” (Hebrews 3:13, KJV 1900)
I mentioned in a previous post that I went through the Army Ranger School in 1973. It was one of the most demanding things that I have ever done. In the first two weeks, we saw many soldiers quit the course, drop out for physical reasons, or just go AWOL to avoid the embarrassment of quitting publicly. Out of the 290 that began the course, only 178 graduated.
I was fortunate to be in one of the better platoons in the course. We had only one person fail to graduate. One of the things I remember was that those in our platoon encouraged one another every day. When one was struggling, the others would help and encourage him. We just pulled together into a tight functional unit. I believe that this is one of the reasons for our high success rate as compared to the other platoons.
Daily encouragement will make a difference. Here, the writer of Hebrews gives instruction to the Jewish community to exhort one another every day. The word “exhort,” the Greek parakaleo, literally means to call near and this for a variety of purposes. It might be for exhortation, admonishment, comfort, etc. Here, in the context of possibly falling away from the knowledge of salvation in Christ, it means to exhort and encourage in the truth.
The writer’s Jewish audience needed a constant reminder of the truth in the hope that they all would come to genuine faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. This is because some had head knowledge regarding Jesus and even intellectually affirmed its truth, but had not experienced the transformation of the heart. Thus, they needed to exhort one another daily regarding this vital truth. Paul wrote that “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17, KJV 1900) The Lord has ordained that for one to come to faith, genuine saving faith, he or she needs to hear the word of truth. This most often requires continual exhortation from the word of God.
I have seen many professing believers in the congregations that I have pastored, come to faith a long time after making their initial verbal profession. They had professed faith in Christ, been baptized and even joined churches. Often, they would state they had previously professed faith in Jesus but had never been truly saved. They had the head knowledge, but not the heart knowledge.
Like the author’s Jewish audience, our churches also have people who believe they are saved, because they have an intellectual assent to the truth of the gospel. Yet, they have not experienced the conversion of the heart. I remember one such girl in a church that I pastored. Every week we would serve communion and review Christ’s atoning sacrifice for us. One week, it happened. Her head knowledge reached her heart and she truly believed. “faith comes by hearing.”
We need to continually meet and encourage one another with the message of God’s salvation in Christ. We can do this by sharing our personal testimonies and the word of truth. It is interesting that the word parakaleo literally means to call near. This exhortation that will end up touching the heart must be intimate. It requires nearness in location and in heart. The author states that it is required daily. We must draw near to one another daily so that none will fall away from the knowledge of the truth