Years ago I heard a pastor say, “When you see the word “therefore” in the Bible, you want to check to see what it is there for!” The writer of Hebrews had been passionately exhorting the Hebrew believers to let go of their reliance on religion and ritual to save them and, instead, to cling to Christ alone. Having established Christ’s superiority as the Sacrifice for sin, now the author gives us the “So what?” Here is a call to active faith:
Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:19-25 NIV)
Look at how he encourages us to respond to what Christ has accomplished for us, with the three “Let us” statements. “Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings...” Because of what Jesus did on that cross, we can boldly draw near to God. He WANTS us to draw near, and Christ has made that possible. We can have full assurance, not because we are worthy, but because Christ is worthy!
“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” This is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. HE who promised is the faithful One. It is not my faithfulness that is my security - it is HIS faithful character, the One whose Word is true and sure, the One whose promises never fail - HE is the One who is faithful!
We have 21 real examples of believers who held unswervingly to their hope this past weekend. The 21 Coptic Christians who were beheaded in Libya by the evil ISIS BECAUSE of their faith in Christ, did just that. They did not deny their Savior, even though it might have saved their lives. They were looking toward that heavenly home, fully assured of what their faith would bring. [For an outstanding blog on this subject, see what Ann Voskamp wrote about these 21 men, by clicking here]
Finally, “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another - and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” We live in an area, in South Orange County, in which we suffer nothing for our faith. Maybe that’s the problem!
We have what I call the “31 flavors” of great churches in this area. You can go from church to church and hear great teaching and amazing worship - and lots of people do just this. They wander to the next “best” church in search of the perfect one - the one with all the programs for the family, the one with the best musicians, the one with the most entertaining pastor. We also live in an area in which I’ve seen several churches pop up and then die out, because people won’t commit to the church they are in. I had a pastor who once said, “If you want a new pastor, pray for the one you’ve got.”
But the Church is not a program, it is not a beautiful building, it’s not the most eloquent pastor. The Church is the body of Christ. We were meant to be connected to each other, to encourage one another, to hold each other accountable, to spur one another on. Especially as we see the Day approaching. Christ’s return is 2,000 years closer than when the author of Hebrews wrote this - and all signs seem to point to the imminent return. Even so, LORD Jesus, come quickly!
Lord, help me to never take for granted the amazing grace that allows me to draw near to You! Help me to remain steadfast in my hope, because great is YOUR faithfulness. And help me to remember to do all of the “one anothers” in your Word, because you have given us this Body as a gift, that we might remain in you to the end.