You are currently viewing The Hebrews Cure for Apostasy

The Hebrews Cure for Apostasy

Forsaking Christ (what we call apostasy) is commonplace these days. Many who once walked an aisle, raised a hand, received the Word with joy, and were baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have now renounced that very name.

Since the apostles’ day, apostasies have been always present and ever sad. People like Judas, Demas, Jesus’s “stony ground hearers,” well-known Christian leaders of our day, and some of our own sons and daughters all too frequently forsake Christ to return to their lives before “conversion” or to some other lifestyle or worldview more appealing than the Savior’s (e.g., Matt. 13:20–22; John 6:60–66; 2 Tim. 4:10; Heb. 6:4–6; 2 Pet. 2:1–3, 20–22; 1 John 2:18, 19; Jude 17–19).

The letter to the Hebrews was written to counter apostasy. This makes it a go-to Scripture for any wanting to retether to Christ those who have been adrift (Heb. 2:1). The remedy for apostasy is simple: Hebrews tells those at risk of forsaking Jesus to consider him (3:1). That’s it. Though he’ll fill in the details in the rest of Hebrews, the inspired author’s direct and brief counsel is this: “Consider Jesus.”

Spiritual Cancer and Cure

To consider Jesus is to look at and to him (12:2), to fix our thoughts on Jesus, and to contemplate all we can about him—all he is, says, does, rules, wields, promises, accomplishes, and fulfills.

Contemplate all Jesus is, says, does, rules, wields, promises, accomplishes, and fulfills.

I’m disease-and-cure-minded these days. I currently have two brutal diseases (stage four prostate cancer and actinomycosis, a severe bone disease) that require daily treatment. Apostasy is the same, only this soul disease requires daily meditation on Christ, not daily medicine from a tube (3:12, 13; 10:24, 25). I’ve summarized the Hebrews approach like this: if forsaking Jesus is the cancer, then considering Jesus daily is the cure.

As simplistic as that might sound, it’s anything but. Jesus is the soul (and, with apologies, the sole) cure for apostasy.

What Is It to Consider Jesus?

To know Jesus is eternal life (John 17:3). And considering him means to grow in the knowledge of him and to value knowing him above all else (Phil. 3:8–10; 2 Pet. 1:2; 3:18). It’s to center our adoring attention on the person and work of Christ, which is precisely what Hebrews does.

To consider Jesus is to make the knowledge of Christ—in all his unchanging beauty and unchangeable glory—the center and source of our joy. We can find daily delight in him.

To remedy apostasy in our time, I commend the Hebrews cure: a consideration and contemplation of all of these qualities and more.

Apply the Cure

In that light, I offer three spiritually healing exercises for the soul on the brink of apostasy:

1. Listen to faithful expository preaching on Hebrews (start with anything by R. C. Sproul or John Piper).

2. Read through Hebrews repeatedly (5 to 10 times) and create a list of our Savior’s names, titles, and descriptors—and then explore what each one means. Christ

is the radiance of God’s glory, the imprint of his nature, and the upholder of his universe (1:3)
commands the hosts of heaven (1:6, 7, 14)
is crowned with glory and honor (2:7–8)
is our merciful and faithful High Priest (2:17, 18; 3:1; 4:14–16)
is the faithful beloved Son over God’s house (3:2–6)
gives everlasting rest (4:1–10)
learned obedience through suffering (5:3–9)
was perfected through suffering (2:10)
is the anchor for our drifting and drowning souls (6:19–20)
is our refuge and hope (6:17, 18)
guarantees and mediates a better covenant (7:22; 8:6–12; 12:24)
continues forever (7:21, 24)
always lives to intercede for us (7:25)
is holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens (7:26)
is seated at the right hand of the throne of God’s majesty on high (1:3; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2)
offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins (7:27; 9:13–14; 10:10–18)
writes his law on our hearts (8:10; 10:16)
remembers our sins no more (8:12; 10:16–17)
is the founder and perfecter of our faith (2:10; 12:2)
for the joy that was set before him endured the cross and despised its shame (12:2)
has a kingdom that cannot be shaken (12:28–29)
promises a better home in a better city in a better country (11:10, 14–16; 13:14)
is the Lord our helper so we will not fear (13:6)
is in all his ways and works the same yesterday, today, and forever (13:8)
bore our reproach outside the camp as the sacrificial scapegoat for our sins (13:12–14)
is the great shepherd of the sheep (13:20–21)

3. Become familiar enough with those ascriptions and descriptions to include them in your prayers to the Lord:

Dear eternal Son of God. I worship you as Lord of all the heavenly hosts; the One who tells the angels what to do and sends them forth to serve us . . .
Dear Apostle of God, who speaks to man for God, and High Priest of our confession, who speaks to God for man . . .
Dear Lord Jesus Christ, you are God’s anointed King, whose throne is forever and ever . . .
Dear Mediator and merciful High Priest and Savior. You sit at the right hand of the Majesty on high to intercede for me . . .
Dear atoning Lord, you are our single sacrifice for sin, our helper forever, the great Shepherd of your sheep . . .
Dear sovereign Savior—you are the same yesterday, today, and forever—I worship you, my unchanging God . . .
Dear Lord Jesus, you are holy, innocent, undefiled, and separate from sinners—would you please help me to be like you?

Humbly learn of Christ in these ways (through Hebrews and the rest of Scripture), and then address him accordingly, so your knowledge of Christ will grow deep and your soul will be healed of all spiritual wanderlust.

To consider Jesus is to make the knowledge of Christ—in all his unchanging beauty and unchangeable glory—the center and source of our joy.

By considering and then praying the names and titles of Jesus, as well as those of each person of the Trinity, we learn to respect God’s attributes, offices, and roles. We’re led into wonder, love, and praise. We move beyond a quick “Dear [indistinct and undefined] God” and commune instead with the distinct and defined triune God. Such rich contemplation and communion cannot help but cure our prone-to-wander hearts.

Fix Your Eyes

If you are on a path toward apostasy (or “deconstructing”), you may accelerate if you fix your eyes on things that aren’t Christ: the failures of other Christians; evil and suffering in the world; and, chiefly, yourself and your personal desires, doubts, fears, and questions. This gaze away from Jesus naturally causes faith to falter—just as Peter started to sink when he took his eyes off Jesus and focused instead on the frightening wind (Matt. 14:29–31).

Hebrews is clear on the cure, and it’s a simple “fix”: fix your eyes on Jesus, “the founder and perfecter” of your faith (Heb. 12:2). None of us will finish the race if our eyes are on our pain, exhaustion, and the many perils ahead on “the race set before us.” We’ll endure only if we keep our eyes on the prize, who is also the power, who is also the founder and perfecter of our faith.

Hebrews tell us what to do next: “Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed” (vv. 12–13).

Is your faith weak and ill? Look to Jesus. Be healed. Run on. Finish well.


Leave a Reply