One of my readings this morning was Hebrews 10:4-39. The main message of this text is that Jesus Christ is both our Priest and the final Sacrifice for our sin, through his suffering and death on the cross. Thus, our salvation is finished —done, and nothing more can be added to it. The writer then makes a call for his readers to persevere in their faith by using three “let us” statements, which are insightful:
10:22 “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.” This is an encouragement for us never to hang back in coming before God because of the guilt of our sin. We have in Jesus Christ a great high priest whose sacrifice dealt once and for all with our sin and cleansed even our consciences of guilt (9:9) before God. (The part about our bodies being washed is probably a reference to baptism.) Let the certainty of what Christ has done for you draw you to him everyday. Never stay away from Jesus because of your sin—that is why he died. In this way, you will persevere in your faith.
10:23 “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who has promised is faithful.” The writer is addressing those who were being persecuted for their faith, but the call can also address any situation in which our faith is being tested. It can address you and how you are dealing with the emotional, physical, and economic impact of COVID-19. It can address those of us who are facing another round of chemo today. It can address those who are suffering from the continuing impact of abuse, or grief, or situational confusion. Hold fast to the profession of your faith without being shaken by these trials. Nothing has changed about Jesus, your great and faithful high priest who ever stands making intercession for you. Nothing has changed about God’s faithful love for you or his ability to care for you. Nothing has changed about the faithful promise of eternal life that you will one day inherit. Though circumstances have changed, and will continue to do so, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever! In this way, you will persevere in your faith.
10:24 “Let us consider (brood over, think deeply about) how we may spur (provoke, arouse, excite to action) one another on toward love and good deeds.” In the midst of our own hardship we should also be thinking of how we may encourage other believers to persevere in the midst of theirs. When we suffer, we can become curved in upon ourselves and forget the needs of others. Instead, a call to persevere also includes a call to help those who are facing difficulties that might cause them to lose their grip on faith. In v. 25, the writer indicates that this encouragement can be done through the regular meeting together of the church. While this option has been taken away from us at the moment, we can use other means in order to do this. The lost art of letter writing, as well as phone calls, emails, texts, FaceTime, What’sApp, Zoom, etc., can all be vehicles for such provoking encouragement. Think about who it is among friends and family that might need such an encouraging touch from you. I have and this is why I’m writing this and all my blogs—not to hear my self think out loud, but to encourage you to persevere in your faith and not to swerve from it, just as I’m striving to maintain my own faith. In fact, helping you persevere helps me persevere.
Let me conclude with Hebrews 10:36, 39…”You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised….But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.”
Friday is Good, but Easter is better!