Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Considerate Sequel to Hebrews, Part 2

Hebrews 10:22-25
[22] let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
[23] Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.
[24] And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works,
[25] not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

Our faith in Christ's person and accomplished work of redemption should persuade us to draw near without fear. We must have a true heart, believing in truth the things which we have heard. “Let [the believer] ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways,” James 1:6-8. Our hearts are sprinkled by the blood of Christ which cleanses from all sin, and we are washed by the water of the word.

This is surely another symbol of an Old Testament ritual. Our lives are now acceptable offerings to God through Christ our High Priest. Like the priest of old would wash portions of the sacrifice in pure water to cleanse them, so too our High Priest washes us and makes us clean, acceptable to God. Titus 1:15-16, 1st Corinthians 6:12; 10:23, Romans 14; John 13:10; 15:3; Revelation 1:5 teach that we are clean by the blood of Christ. This cleansing is the legal act of justification. Christ “put away sin” by His self-sacrifice, Hebrews 9:26; this speaks of our former sins before salvation. We also read that Jesus “perfected forever” those who are being sanctified, Hebrews 10:14; this indicates our future state, that sin has been eternally dealt with in a legal sense.

Another thought regarding the possession of a true heart: our Lord entered the true tabernacle in Heaven, erected by God and not by man; the earthly tabernacle was merely a shadow of the true, the genuine. Likewise, a believer must draw near God with a true heart, in full assurance of faith. The former method of approaching God was entirely exterior; men were anointed priests and performed the sacrifices and duties the law demanded; yet the veil still stood. Now the veil is rent, and God demands that those who worship Him worship in spirit and truth, an interior worship as the Holy Spirit abides in us, equipping and empowering us to know and perform the will of God, John 4:23-24.. The exterior religion was physical sprinkling and cleansing, which was accepted for a time. True faith is internal as a man or woman is regenerated by the new birth, born into the household of faith, and given a heart of flesh that is capable of drawing near to our Lord. Religion is exterior, generated by man’s efforts to cleanse and perfect himself; faith is internal, born entirely by the power of the Holy Spirit, who dwells in us to fulfill and perform what we, in our own strength and ability, cannot. This is the true heart which creates full assurance of faith, and inward transformation as we are born again and pass from the shadow of worship to maturity.
When Jesus was commanding His apostles to abide in Him, He was quick to remind them they were already clean because of the word spoken to them. They were justified; it only makes sense Biblically and logically that the abiding Jesus speaks of after that point is the constant, day-by-day act of sanctification. Now that they were saved, Christ was informing them that they should bear fruit by abiding in Him; that is, living in faithful trust that is grounded by the leading of the Holy Spirit revealed in the word. This visible reliance in the Lord, and His power being demonstrated in our daily lives, would glorify God and bring reward in due time, John 15:1-8.

We are to have confidence in the surety of Christ's person and sacrifice, which was especially meaningful to the Hebrew Christians who were tempted to revert to Judaism. The writer reminds his audience of God's faithful character; there is no worry in placing our trust in such a God. There was no need to resume the ceaseless, redundant work of temple offerings and sacrifice since Jesus Christ finished sacrifice with the offering of Himself on the cross. We are to consider one another to prevent wavering and to stir up good works, which are profitable for men (not for salvation) and will make a believer fruitful and useful to men, Titus 3:8, 14; 2nd Corinthians 9:12-13. We must remind and encourage one another daily to continue in the grace of God. Otherwise grace gives way to fleshly living in two ways: license or legalism. The Corinthians were a wonderful demonstration of license; they felt that since they were saved they could apparently behave any way they wished; Paul rebuked them by calling them carnal and childish. The Galatians were becoming legalists, wanting to obey the letter of the law. Paul rebuked them by telling them that they were to walk in the Spirit, not their fleshly efforts; mingling the two made grace impotent. Legalism’s leaven begot pride, jealousy, strife, contention; comparing one believer to another and judging with austere regulations that would raise our seat beside God, as if He needed our help governing His people. The confidence of our hope is that the good work God has begun, He will finish. Our confidence is that, what we lack being weak and without power, God has more than enough to supply and will supply to those who desire it, for He does not give the Spirit by measure.

It is through many tribulations that a believer will enter the kingdom of God, Acts 14:22. We need encouragement for the fiery trials that are a sure hallmark of a believing, spiritual Christian. The tribulations do not operate as leverage to open the gates of heaven further until we have suffered or obeyed enough to enter (ala Roman Catholicism, which is what conditional salvation is closely related to); rather such tribulation is a visible token that a man or woman has savingly believed, become a child of God, and are experiencing the trials that come as God conforms us into the image of Christ, John 16:33; Colossians 3:10. The body concept of Christianity is vital to a believer's welfare. The writer exhorts us not to become a 'lone-wolf' Christian. As every believer is given a gift by the Holy Spirit, that gift was meant to be ministered to the body as a whole and not hoarded to oneself. It is in the body of Christ that we will find comfort, exhortation and confidence to hold fast the confession of our faith, lest the dry and barren world wear us down to the point of compromising or forsaking our faith. The writer apparently was an old enough Christian to have witnessed the dissolution of other churches assembling together for breaking bread and worship; he knew that the influence of Judaism and its temptation would certainly draw off brethren from assembling and warned them that solace lay in the body of Christ, with like-minded men and women who were saved in similar manner, Acts 15:11. They would be quick to remind an errant brother that it is Christ, and not sacrifice, that saves. They would be quick also to remind them that it was Christ's offering of Himself and not our efforts that have purchased salvation's inception and retention, Hebrews 10:10-14; 1st Peter 1:5; Jude 1:1.
To be Continued.

No comments:

Post a Comment

"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness," 2nd Timothy 3:16.

My wife and I welcome comments to our Blog. We believe that everyone deserves to voice their insight or opinion on a topic. Vulgar commentary will not be posted.

Thank you and God bless!

Joshua 24:15

All Scripture is taken from the King James Bible (KJV) or New King James Bible (NKJV). Copyright 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.