T HERE’S SOMETHING I want you to do as Christians and this is why I want you to do it — why you should want to do it.
We’ve heard these reasons before, but we need to hear them again, focus on them again.
The preacher in Hebrews holds up the truth and says this is what the truth leads us to do. He reminds us that our fellowship with God will be hampered if we don’t comprehend the significance of what Christ has done.
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BECAUSE OF CHRIST, we have confidence to approach God.
Confidence is a characteristic of free Roman citizens who hold their heads up without shame or fear, looking others directly in the eye. In Roman society, slaves could not exercise such boldness.
We are no longer slaves but free. We can boldly and confidently approach God. Not because of our worthiness, but because Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice of his life.
Christ at the right hand of God gives us the confidence to come into God’s presence, knowing our pleas will be heard, our lives made whole.
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THE PREACHER is going to encourage us to act, but before he tells us what to do, he reminds us that Christ is a great high priest. Back in the day, priests made daily offerings. They stood at the altar. And all the while, those offerings could not “take away sins.”
Christ, on the other hand, made one offering, and since that offering was wholly effective, “he sat down at the right hand of God.” His sacrificial work was finished.
So, that’s the preacher’s argument. His reasoning for what he is about to ask of us. Having heard that Christ died for you, Christ rose for you, Christ reigns in power for you, Christ prays for you; being reminded that we can confidently come into God’s presence because of Christ, therefore, “Let us.”
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IT’S AN INVITATION to join the preacher. Let us. It’s a loving request. Join with me. Let us.
■ Let us draw near to God. With a genuine heart, with the certainty that our faith gives us. This is a call to exercise our right to worship, to approach the altar and serve God. In the Temple a curtain separated the Holy of Holies from the outer tabernacle. Only the high priest could go beyond the curtain. Jesus’ taking on our humanity and dying, was like the curtain being removed. Nothing blocks our entrance into the presence of God. The sacrifice of Christ opens the way for us into the presence of God.
■ Let us hold on to the confession — Jesus Christ is Lord. Hold on to our hope without wavering. Hold on because Christ is reliable. Hold firm to our confession because God is faithful. God will follow through on what he has promised, and as Hebrews makes quite clear, for those who persevere, God’s trustworthiness is wonderful news.
■ Let us consider each other. Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Christianity is never a private faith. We are in this together. Don’t stop meeting together. Personal devotional is critical. At home reading the Bible and praying. Crucial to our faith. But connection is vital. We gather, not to see or be seen. We gather not for “what I can get out of it.” We gather, in God’s presence, to encourage each other in the faith. To support godly behavior and actions.
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WE HAVE BEEN MADE brothers and sisters by the finished work of Jesus Christ. The result is responsibility to one another as brothers and sisters.
We have assurance because of what Jesus has done. We have hope because of what Jesus has done. We have obligations to one another because of what Jesus has done.
“Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds.” The King James Version says “provoke” one another to love and good deeds. Entice one another. Incite one another to love and good deeds.
The picture is gathering together for the sake of others and rallying each other to love and act in Christ’s name. Motivate one another to love and good deeds.
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LET US PROVOKE, IRRITATE, and even exasperate one another to love and good works. How do you provoke love? How do you irritate someone into good works? We talk about love as something without irritation or exasperation, a stance that involves tolerance, patience, and comfort.
But, instead of asserting a community built on sameness and good feeling, provocation and exasperation are part of being a community.
Gather together and provoke each other to love and good deeds. Meet together and stimulate each other with the reminder of what Christ has done for us. Come together and irritate each other until we love and act.
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THE PREACHER IMPLORES:
■ Let us gather because of our faith in the great high priest.
■ Let us irritate each other with calls to love.
■ Let us go and live the sacrificial love of Christ.