“And another also said, “Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.” But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:61-62 (NKJV)
I want to follow you, but first let me go and say good-bye to my family. Jesus told him that wasn’t possible.
If you are going to plow a straight row you have to keep your eyes on where you are going, not where you’ve been.
You have to be focused on what you are doing, not what you’ve done.
With the tools they used for plowing in those days, you couldn’t be halfway involved and plow a straight line. You had to be fully devoted to the task at hand.
So it is with being a part of the Kingdom of God. You cannot be halfway devoted to Jesus and consider yourself committed to Him. You can’t start for the kingdom, go back to the world, start for the kingdom, and go back to the world… You have to choose where your devotion lies and then stick with it. As followers of Jesus Christ there is no place to stop and there is point to turn back or even look back. We are warned about this all through Scripture. One of the biggest warnings for believers is found in Hebrews.
“But recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings: partly while you were made a spectacle both by reproaches and tribulations, and partly while you became companions of those who were so treated; for you had compassion on me in my chains, and joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods, knowing that you have a better and an enduring possession for yourselves in heaven. Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: “For yet a little while, And He who is coming will come and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.” But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.” Hebrews 10:32-39 (NKJV)
The reading seems to indicate that they started almost as soon as they embraced Jesus as Savior and Lord. There was a “great struggle” with suffering. The next few verses give us a picture as to what this “great struggle” with suffering was. They were made a spectacle. The idea of the spectacle is that what happened to them, happened in the public eye. People saw their great struggle with suffering. People saw their great struggle with suffering and some ridiculed them for it. People saw their great struggle with suffering and did what they could to make it worse.
These Hebrew Christians endured all of this suffering, even to the point of having their stuff taken from them. The picture is that they patiently endured this because they knew there was something better waiting on them. They knew that what they would receive in the future was better than what they were losing in the present. They knew that eternal rewards were better than earthly riches.
Since they knew that there was something better coming than what this world offered, they should not cast away their confidence and turn back from following Jesus. That confidence in Jesus will bring a great reward. But in order to receive that reward they, and we, needed endurance. If they, and we, want the enduring possessions of Heaven, and the great reward for following Jesus, they, and we, must persevere in faithfulness to Jesus. There is no drawing back AND remaining faithful. It’s one or the other. Without remaining faithful and running the race God has set before us there is no receiving the enduring possession of Heaven or the great reward from Christ. Jesus will return, and it’ll be worth it all then, but while we wait we must persevere. We must endure to the end.
God has no pleasure in those who draw back. This means that it does not please God when someone draws back. Why is drawing back so bad? It’s because those who draw back, draw back to perdition. Perdition is the same as damnation and the opposite of salvation. As much as we might like to soften this up we can’t and remain faithful to Scripture. We aren’t told that those who draw back aren’t experiencing God’s best or are missing out on God’s blessings. Those who draw back, draw back to perdition and damnation. That’s pretty serious.
The author does say that he expects better for these Hebrew Christians, and all Christians in general. It’s important to understand that there is no reason for a genuine believer to draw back. Regardless of what anyone may say, a genuine believer drawing back does not have to happen and should not ever happen. However, the fact is that those who draw back, draw back to perdition.
Scripture is filled with examples of people to looked back, turned back, and went back. This week I’m going to write about some of those people and the consequences that followed their decision.