"Unity without verity is no better than conspiracy." - John Trapp

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Four Words for a Searching Church: One - Be Steadfast

In thinking about the transition Beacon Baptist is going through right now (today was Pastor Patrick's last day), I was looking back on a message I preached during one of his absences on Hebrews 10:23-25. I think the points are maybe more valid today than when they were delivered roughly a year and a half ago. I'm going to post the points one at a time to keep this from being a long post.
Hebrews 10:23Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Steady As She Goes (v.23a)

To understand the passage we must first understand something of the situation that caused Hebrews to be written. Persecution of Christians had started, and while the recipients of the letter had held on to their faith to this point, they had been contemplating a return to Judaism. The letter of Hebrews was written to convince them of the superiority of Christ to all things relating to Old Testament Judaism. In addition, five times in Hebrews the author warns the readers about the consequences of turning their back on Christ. This passage, with its encouragement to remain faithful, preceeds the fourth of these warnings.

We may not be called to stand against the type of persecution that the Hebrew Christians were facing (see 10:32-34) but Satan will use events in our lives to get us to waver in our commitment to Christ and His church. Events might even be the loss of a loved Pastor, the prospect of facing another Pastoral search process, or the uncertainty of what will happen in the interim. But regardless of the difficulties we face in individual and corporate lives, we must cling to our hope.

We must not be like the plant in the parable of the sower that grows quickly but has no depth. That plant dies when the long hot days of summer come. Instead, for us, the great hope is the return of Christ (see v.25). We look forward to that day. The trials and tribulations of this life are nothing compared to the glory that awaits us. So we need to be like constant in the midst of the storm. Steady in the face of adversity. Neither stopping, nor hurrying.

Trust Your Anchor (v.23b)

Holding on to hope is possible for us when we recognize that hope is founded on the unbreakable promise of God. We may fall and fail, but God never fails. The author of Hebrews is here simply restating the point he had made in Hebrews 6:10-20, that God has sworn that we will have an eternal home. That hope is an anchor for our souls.

If our ability to remain faithful depended on us, we should all despair, but God is on our side. He is working for us. The Creator of the universe has made a promise, and nothing will keep Him from fulfilling it. In light of this, we must not quit – we must hold faithfully to the hope of heaven.

Regardless of what occurs to one local church body over the next several months, God will bring all those in that church, and in the universal church, safely through to glory because Jesus as our Great High Priest has completed His work. The author of Hebrews has told us that unlike the Old Testament priests, Jesus has sat down, and we are sanctified for all time (Hebrews 10:11-14).

I know I have mixed the metaphor here. But on the one hand, we are to stay the course and keep moving forward. Holding fast to our anchor, in this case, does not imply standing still. Because our anchor is to the spiritual reality of our salvation. Therefore, we can move forward to strengthen God's kingdom in the physical world. But it requires us to work together.

So, if we are to encourage one another, our first task is to be steadfast.

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