Beth Moore - Holding On
I am thrilled about what we're about to study. I don't know about anybody else, but, man, this is some kind of day we are living in, isn't it? I mean, can I just say to you that no matter where you've been on any issue, any side, it's been a mess. Can we just go ahead and agree... let's agree in the Lord that it is the biggest mess, and how on Earth do we go forward under these kinds of circumstances? Where does this go in our culture? Where does our culture go? If we keep going in this trajectory, where are we going? What does looking forward even look like? Are these questions on anybody's mind but mine?
And here is the invitation before us that there are times when going forward means going back. We're gonna open our Bibles, and we're about to go back to the fundamentals and go back to the cross of Christ. Anybody game for that? We're about to find out what Paul was talking about when he said, "These are the things of most importance". We've lost contact with what are the secondary matters to the church and the primary matters to the church. What is it? How do we articulate what we believe? We are in a culture where so much about Christianity does not look from outward appearances much like Christ. How do we find our way back?
We go back to go forward, and I'm gonna ask you to turn with me, if you would, please, to the book of Hebrews and the 10th chapter. I'm gonna start reading at verse 11 and read through verse 25. "Every priest stands day after day ministering and offering the same sacrifices time after time, which can never take away sins. But this man, after offering one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God". He's talking about Jesus. "He is now waiting until his enemies are made his footstool. For by one offering he has perfected forever those who are sanctified. The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. For he says: This is the covenant I will make with them after those days, the Lord says, I will put my laws on their hearts and write them on their minds, and I will never again remember their sins and their lawless acts".
Does that sound like any kind of good news to anybody? Any kind of good news? "Now where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer an offering for sin. Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have boldness to enter the sanctuary through the blood of Jesus, he has inaugurated for us a new and living way through the curtain (that is, through his flesh), and since we have a great high priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water. Let us hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, since he who promised is faithful. And let us watch out for one another to provoke love and good works, not neglecting to gather together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day approaching".
You will see that D capitalized in many of your translations, and that is the Day of the Lord. And he's telling us this, and once we get this through our heads, we can understand so much about the way the enemy will come and attack the fellowship of believers, because what we're told by the Holy Spirit is the closer and closer and closer we get to the Day of Christ, to the return of Christ, the more and more and more and more we need to be there for one another and be unified with one another. So what do you think the enemy will do every single time he sees the signs of the coming of the Lord? He will do everything he can.
Revelation 12:12 says that he's furious because he knows his time is short, so he does everything he can to cause disunity and to tear us apart, and there are real things that we may disagree on, but we're called together to see that he's telling us that as the day is approaching, we wanna be shoulder to shoulder in a way that we have never been before. Now, before we really get into Hebrews together, I wonder if you would give me a couple of minutes to invite you into the concept. I wanna remind you where it says "with a true heart". Did you see it? It says in verse 22, "Let us draw near with a true heart".
Some of your translations say "a sincere heart," to come with the sincerity of where our heart may be at this time, and I wonder: What is the condition of your heart this very day as we gather? Even those of you who are all by yourself on the other side of the screen, you're gathered with us in spirit. What is the condition of your heart, the true and sincere condition of your heart? I wonder if it's hard as a rock, if it's numb, if it's broken or bruised? Does anybody know what I'm talking about, the difference between broken and bruised? You know what I mean? There's broken, where your heart feels shattered, or it feels like it has, like a windshield that has been hit by a rock, but then there's just that, where everything in you feels bruised, just bruised. Healing up from its fractures but bruised.
Maybe your heart is bone tired, demoralized, maybe very hopeful, renewed, tender. Maybe your heart is filled with doubt. Tell him it is. Tell him it is. "Lord, I'm not positive I believe". Bring it to him in exactly the state that it's in. Now, I wanna tell you a couple of things about Hebrews. The book of Hebrews by God's sovereign plan, and maybe even by his smile, God purposed that scholars could speculate all day long and for centuries and still not know who the Holy Spirit filled with ink to pen this particular book. It does not have a signature with it, so there's been all sorts of speculation. This much we know or can assume, because the book of Hebrews speaks about the temple as if sacrifices are still currently happening, then we know it's got to be prior to the destruction of the temple in the year 70, so we know it's got to be an early book, but who wrote it, we don't know for sure.
Now, I wanna show you something and I want you to take a little bit of stock in this. Notice with me 10:22: "Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water. Let us hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, since he who promised is faithful. And let us watch out for one another to provoke love and good works, not neglecting to gather together". Now, stop there for just a moment, and is anybody on to the words "faith, hope, and love"? This triad that we would find over and over in other places in the New Testament.
This is one reason why some believe that the apostle Paul may well have written the book of Hebrews. Others are just absolutely positive, without any way of knowing for certain that, no, he did not, but I do want you to know that this triad is used, you know it, with most familiarity, out of 1 Corinthians 13:13: "Of these things remain and the greatest of these is love". But Romans chapter 5, Galatians chapter 5, Colossians chapter 1, 1 Thessalonians 1, and 1 Thessalonians 5, but we're not supposed to miss it because no matter who God used to pen it, it was the Holy Spirit authoring it, and he's calling us to these things to be renewed in the things of faith, hope, and love.
Another indication... now, I don't know. I don't have strong feelings about it. Another indication that it might be Paul or might be someone that he very much mentored and tutored is because we get to the end of 13 chapters of Hebrews and he refers to having written to them briefly. There's nothing that we would consider to be a brief letter about Hebrews, nothing, nothing. So this is what we know for certain: it was someone that was very wordy. Notice with me, this is gonna be the heart of what we're talking аbout: "Let us hold on," verse 23, "to the confession of our hope without wavering, since he who promised is faithful".
Do you realize, if this would echo in our souls... listen, listen, listen. There is so much we cannot control. Has anybody noticed that? Anybody, like, fit to be tied today over it? So much we cannot control, but this you can control. You can control whether or not you're gonna be faithful to God in your situation. Yes, ma'am, and yes, sir, you do get to control that. You cannot control your circumstances much of the time, but you can control whether you are gonna respond faithfully to the Lord Jesus in your situation or not. And why? Not because it's easy, but because our God is faithful, because we choose to be faithful to our God, who has been faithful to us. That's why.
This section in Hebrews chapter 10 is an end bracket on a six-chapter section of Hebrews. Now, I love to look into this kind of thing. So the writer is using a literary device that you and I would find in many, many things that we read. A new section, say a chapter of a book, might start with a particular theme, and then, by the time it gets to the end of the chapter or she gets to the end of the chapter, they're gonna repeat what they said in the beginning, why? To give it a good ending. And so, that's exactly what's happening in Hebrews, but when we take a section out of context like this, we often don't see it. So there's all these verbal parallels.
You and I are gonna go back to Hebrews 4:14 through 16. Listen to this. Listen to this. "Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession". Did you hear the repetition? "Let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way". Did it say "every way" or not? "In every way as we are, yet without sin. Therefore, let us approach the throne of grace with boldness so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in time of need".
So everything he's going to do between 4:16 and when we get to Hebrews chapter 10, verse 19, everything he's going to do is to expand on this, then tie it up in 10:19 through 23. Does that make sense? So look at the board and look at all the similarities. I've got all of it highlighted in the colors where they match. So, "therefore" is an important word because it's saying "in light of everything you've just heard, therefore here's what we're gonna do". You see in the green, "since we have a great high priest". This is in reference to the high priest in Israel under the old covenant going into the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement. Then you see the repetition of "let us draw near and let us approach". You see the words "boldness" used several different times, and you see the word, and I don't want you to miss this.
Do you see the words "our confession" and "the confession"? So it's not just a mirror image: Ten is not just a mirror image of four. It is drawing it into, it's developing the concept, from Jesus, stay with me here, passing through the heavens into the presence of God after he has made the way through his death, through that curtain, that becomes his flesh torn like a veil, that he has passed through the heavens, and because he has passed through the heavens, Hebrews chapter 10 is telling us that now we get to approach with boldness.
So it's him approaching in Hebrews chapter 4 and then making a way for us to approach, and all the intermediate chapters are getting it developed until we get to that point in Hebrews chapter 10: "Let us draw near with boldness to the throne of grace". We're gonna make a series of points together, and we come now to our very first one: Let us hold on firmly to the faith we profess. We've been told in 2 Thessalonians 2:15 to "hold on to the teachings of the scriptures". In Colossians 2:19, it talks about people who have gotten so distracted by spiritual things that they have lost contact with the head, who is Christ. In other words, they're all distracted with all the things that go along with being religious, spiritual people, but they've lost contact with Jesus, the head. They have lost hold.
Would anybody agree with me that there's just nothing like trying to tightly hold an unreciprocated grasp? Anybody know what I'm talking about? When was the last time you tried to hold somebody's hand and they got... didn't hold back? It's so awkward. The first way Keith can tell if I'm mad at him is he just reaches for my hand, and it's just like... In fact, I make sure that I sort of make it limper that it would even be just, so he'll know that there's nothing. There's just nothing there. Anybody? Anybody? And think about when you're walking your child across the street, what it feels like when you're holding on to them but they're not holding on to you, and you, I mean, you just practically got 'em by the wrist, but then when they get a little older, and then they can grab back on.
I told you all that I love to hold babies, and I was with some friends of mine today through lunch, and I got to hold their precious baby, and he's six months old, and he's at that age where, boy, you can feel the weight of 'em, but they don't hold on yet. I mean, you're just constantly, they're bobbing all over the place, but they don't hold on yet, and then there's that age where they start wrapping their knees around you really tight, and their arms around your neck. What I'm saying to you is this: over and over, the scripture speaks of God having hold of his own. It even refers to "I have you by the hand. I will hold you in my hand. My right hand will hold you," the Psalmist said, over and over again, but that being held onto...
This I wanna tell you, if you are in Christ, he has never let go of you, but I'm gonna tell you that the action of faith is when we respond by holding tight as a reciprocal action. Does anybody understand what I'm saying? There's nothing like the confidence... how does confidence look in a Christian? Confidence looks like a tight grasp on the hand that is grasping us. Okay, the apostle Paul said it this way. Do you remember in Philippians chapter 3 when he says, "Not that I have already attained this, but I make every effort to take hold of". Everybody say "take hold of". "To take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me".
In other words, you have a holy calling. I have a holy calling. Every one of you who are in Christ on the other side of that screen, you have a holy calling. He knows what he has grabbed hold of you to do in the course of your lifetime and in your calling. In general, those things we'd have in common, that in ways with our mouth and with our actions and with our love and with our affections, that we live out the gospel and share the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, but you're also called to certain things, called to certain kinds of serving, called with certain kinds of gifts. He has apprehended you. He has grabbed hold of you for a reason. In the sphere of influence that you're in, in the city that you're in, in the neighborhood you are in, Jesus has grabbed hold of you for a reason.
And what Paul is saying is, "I'm grabbing back. I want what he wants me for. Whatever he has taken hold of me to do, I want him to do it". And I wonder if we could take that up as our individual goals. "Lord, what did you take hold of me for? Then I wanna take hold of it. I wanna take hold", it's where your fulfillment will be, not, "Oh, I thought we'll always have a good time"? We're not going to anyway, but it's life that matters. "And what I'm here for? What do you want from my life? You have grabbed hold of me. I wanna grab hold of that for which you have grabbed hold of me". What happens when we hold on to the one who is holding on to us, when we grasp that hand tight? This brings us to point number two: "Let us be confident we have a gloriously good confession".
Okay, in Hebrews, depending upon your translation, you'll see it both ways, but it means the same thing. You will see the faith that we profess, or our profession of faith, and you will see confession. So, okay, which one is it? Well, it's both, because it's a means of speaking out that which we believe, or that which, as you're gonna see in just a moment, we agree with, that which we agree with. So it's this confession I want you to know. Be confident in the scriptures that you and I, in Christ, have a gloriously good confession, gloriously good. Hebrews 3:1 says: "Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession".
What is our confession, or to use another word, our profession? What is it that we're professing? What is it that we're confessing? If you are a follower of Jesus, you have an articulate doctrine. You have a coherent worldview that makes sense of what has happened to the world and what has happened for the world. You do have it. You're not a nut. You can honestly reason through the scriptures why evil entered this world and what has happened because of it. It is time that you and I were not intimidated by the cynics. Let me tell you what can happen here. Either we can heal up after this big mess we've been in and we can go back to the fundamentals of our faith and see what it is we agree with, or we can get cynical and we can just walk away. Listen, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. This God who called us is faithful.
Let us be faithful in return. Let us be faithful in return. Do not become a cynic, and do not be intimidated by those who are. You know, I'm gonna tell you something. Every now and then, we just need the guts to say to someone, if the Holy Spirit leads us, "Do you have a better explanation"? No. No. No. You do not need to be ashamed of the gospel. I'm gonna tell you, the older I get, the more convinced I am there is nothing out there that competes with the gospel. There is no other answer like the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ, nothing else like it. Hold to our confession. I wanna show you the Greek word for "confession" because it's made, it's a compound word. You're gonna see the word H-O-M-O, homo, and then you're going to see the word that we use, that we've heard many, many times.
It may be one of the most familiar Greek words there is, logos, logia. We got homologéo, that word that it's, the verbal term that goes with it, a word that means to agree, to confess. It means to say the same, and it means a confession, a profession, a recognition. Now, stay with me here for a moment. So when we profess or confess, our great confession is that we are saying that we agree with what God said. That's our confession. So when it comes to our confession of faith, in Hebrews and in our New Testament, what we're saying is we agree with God about the gospel. We agree with God about what he says Christ has done for us, who he is, and what he is going to do. This is our confession. This is us using our mouth to say, "We agree with this. We come into agreement. We confess the same. We say the same".