Meditations in Hebrews 10: 44. Exhortations (Continued)
Heb 10:19,22 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus….. let us …..
The Way Opened: So, there we are, he says, we now have a confidence to be able to get in close to God where He dwells and we have this way in because Jesus, when he died on the Cross, earned this way in for us. God’s ‘Presence’ had been hidden away behind a massively thick curtain in the Temple, inaccessible to all except the high priest who was allowed in there once a year to present a sacrifice for all the people, but beyond that God was inaccessible. But now, now the curtain has been torn in two and a way in made by the Son of God himself, and he still acts like a priest for us, saying, “Come in, let me introduce you to my Father.” That was what we saw in verses 19 and 20 of chapter 10.
Five “Let us” exhortations: But then we saw that in the verses that follow there are five exhortations, each one beginning with, “Let us….” The first one we saw, was “Let us draw near to God.” If the way has been made open to allow us in to the innermost sanctuary where God dwells, we would be foolish not to make the most of that opportunity. As long as we have a whole-hearted faith, we’re in! But there are four more.
- Hold to your hope: “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess.” (v.23a) Not only do we have an opportunity, we have a life outlook that constantly looks forward; it’s called hope. It’s not only about what happens after I die, but it’s all about tomorrow. Tomorrow Jesus will be exactly the same as he was yesterday or today or two thousand years ago.(Heb 13:8) I can trust him. He will still be there working to draw me ever closer to the Father, to be ever more like himself, with a power that will be everlasting. That is the hope we’ve been told about and of which we now profess, and it is another of those means that enable us to stand strong in our faith.
Why? But then there is a rider to this exhortation. Why can we hold to it, how will it work out for us? The answer is simple: “for he who promised is faithful.” (v.23b) The Father is faithful to His promises and will not change His mind and suddenly withdraw His offer of ongoing life salvation. Moreover Jesus is faithful and will not suddenly change his mind and stop speaking up on our behalf. Oh no, we can hold on to this hope because the Ones on whom it is based are unchanging.
- Encourage more love, more goodness: “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” (v.24) This life of faith is not to be about just hanging on, it is about developing it in both me and in you. Why am I writing these studies? Partly to build and bless me, but I’ve found I have a watching audience and so I want to bless and encourage you as well, and this is one of the best ways to do that. This Christian life isn’t just about sitting around waiting until we get called to heaven. I am sure many of us think we are just sitting in a heavenly waiting room, waiting to get called. No, it’s about receiving and taking hold of that inheritance we read about earlier, and that involves me being changed and me being involved in bringing change to others and to the world about me. More love, more goodness, let’s change and let’s change the world with it! Even as we age, may we become more Christ-like and by the time comes when we are called home to heaven, may there be signs all around us of a world that has been changed by our presence, our activities, a world with more love, more goodness!
- Get with others: “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing.” (v.25a) What an apt word today, for those who know these things say that all around us are people who have become disenchanted by church and who have stopped going. Now I actually believe the ‘disenchanted movement’ (it is not something recognized as a movement) is actually a work of God as He stirs many to face the reality of church life that so often just seems to be full of ritual. Turning up at church and church meetings to work to a program and go through a series of things that tend to be the same week by week, is not what church is all about. But this isn’t the place to suggest what church should be, as much as I would like to, it’s the place to challenge the ‘disenchanted stay away’ group and say, life flows through people, Holy Spirit life flows between Christians and if we are to “spur one another on toward love and good deeds,” we can only do that when we are together with other Christians. There appears to be a completely unstructured and informal movement, in the UK at least, of Christians meeting together in new groups (while still going to church many of them) to fellowship, worship and minister together. And how would I summarise what I see they are doing? See the last of these five exhortations:
- Encourage each other: “but let us encourage one another.” (v.25b) How simple. That is what we all need. How does it happen? We meet together, share together, eat together, fellowship together, get to know one another like we’ve never known before, pray for one another, and perhaps worship together as we allow the Holy Spirit to inspire and lead. The result? A bunch of encouraged stronger believers who realise afresh the wonder of what it means to be the body of Christ. And just in case all that doesn’t do it for you, he gives one last prod: “and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (v.25c) i.e. remember that as every day passes it draws us nearer to the time when Christ will return. I always bear in mind Jesus’ words, “when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” (Lk 18:8) I don’t know about you but even if Jesus came with a gentle smile on his face, I don’t want him to be able to say, “what haven’t you been doing that my Spirit put on your heart but your faith failed to rise to?” How can I avoid that? By meeting with other Spirit-empowered believers who can challenge me, stir me up and keep me going forward.
On a personal note, I am not enamoured by ritualistic, unreal Christianity, but I am really blessed when I can join with brothers and sisters who want Jesus to be Lord and want to give his Holy Spirit free reign, and fellowship, feed, worship, pray and minister together. When that happens I go away blessed and stronger. That is what our writer to the Hebrews wants for his readers I believe. Let’s not disappoint him!