Friday, May 13, 2016

The Vision (5.13.16): Three Exhortations

Note:  Here are some notes from last Sunday morning’s sermon which focused on the three exhortations in Hebrews 10:22-25:

First exhortation (v. 22):  “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith….”

Why would anyone in his right mind stand apart from Christ?  Would a man freezing to death not draw near to a roaring fire?  Would a starving man not draw near to a banquet of food?  Would a sick man not draw near to a physician?  Would an exhausted man not draw near to rest? 

The answer to spiritual struggle is never that you need less of Christ.  Or that you need to distance yourself from Christ.  It is always that you need more.  That you need to come closer.

Second exhortation (v. 23):  “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering….”

This is a call to commitment to Christ that lasts over the long haul.  Hold fast to your profession [homologia:  confession].  Be a man of your word!  Do not waver.

I’ll never forget the time when a friend from seminary stopped to see me and told me he was now a Buddhist.  Trading Christ for Buddha is like trading a golden treasure house for a handful of ashes.

You show you are a believer by remaining a believer.

Notice v. 23 b:  “for he is faithful that promised.”  Where is the focus?  On the one who perseveres?  On the believer’s faithfulness?  No, but on God’s faithfulness.  If we hold fast to our profession it is only by the grace of God!

Third exhortation (vv. 24-25):  “And let us consider one another…. Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together….”

This exhortation relates to remaining true to the body of Christ, the local and visible body of believers.  Staying true to Christ also means staying true to his church.  It speaks to the mutual benefits of community.

Believers consider one another and provoke one another.  This does not encompass malicious provocation.  This does not mean hypocritical or high-minded judging.  It does not mean attacking, demeaning, maligning, insulting or putting down a fellow believer.  It means healthy exhortation by word and deed.  To what end?

To the provocation [eis to paroxusmon; the noun here is the root for the English word “paroxysm”:  a sudden attack or violent expression of a particular emotion or activity] of love and good works.

We are exhorted to love (agape).  This means love of neighbor.  It also means love of the brethren.

We are exhorted to good works.  Our emphasis on justification by faith does not mean we are against good works.  Paul is not at odds with James.  Faith without works is dead.  Consider:

Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Titus 2:14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

And it includes not forsaking the assembling of believers (episynagago; v. 25).  Some are spiritual gypsies, floating here and there and never settling down.  Some make public commitments, even sign covenants, then turn around and break their word.  We need to come to church.  We need the meetings!  We need to be de-toxed from the world.  We need to meet with each other, but more than that we need to meet with our God.

The tabernacle of old was called the tent of meeting.  The answer for many spiritual problems is:  More meetings needed.  More meetings with God’s people, and, most importantly, more meetings with our God.

The sum:

Hold fast to Christ!

Hold fast to your profession!

Hold fast to God’s people!

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

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