Some time ago, I was at a leadership conference and the speaker there was talking about teamwork and how teams worked together. He painted the analogy of geese. If you've ever noticed that when geese fly, they tend to get into a formation, they create a "V." The purpose of this is to maximize their efficiency. The lead goose takes the main hit of wind and the rest get the benefit. It's thought that they can fly significantly further in this formation than if they were flying on their own. If you observe geese flying like this you'll hear them begin to honk. It's almost like they are trying to encourage the front bird "keep going," "you're doing great." Finally, after the bird can't take it any longer, the lead bird will fall out of formation and go to the back of one of the sides. He's ready to rest and someone else get's to take the lead.
Biblical encouragement – is different than simply platitudes and emotional pumping up – but it is reminders based on facts.
According to Webster’s, encourage means "to give support, confidence or hope." However, the Biblical application of that is quite different.
Today – we’re going to look at what the Bible means when it says to encourage one another. Before we get into that, however, we need to look at the context of this passage
Jesus’ sacrifice brings us a new standing (19-20)
If you have your Bibles, what if you take them out and open to you Hebrews chapter 10. To begin my looking in verse 19 and as we do that we’re going to be getting a little bit of background into some of the statements. You see because of what Jesus Christ did on the cross there are some significant applications for us. So let’s check this out.
Hebrews 10:19-25: Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God,
So let’s take this apart briefly. The writer of Hebrews begins this section with the word ”therefore.” As you may know, anytime we see the word therefore we have to really ask her so the question what is that therefore. So if you were to look back in the previous part of the chapter, see you in the writer he was really going into the Old Testament sacrifices and what they did. The priests would be daily in the temple ready to receive people’s sacrifice. Once a year, the high priest would make himself available so that the people of Israel would bring sacrifices to the temple or to the tabernacle in order to have their sins atoned for or covered up for the next year. And so the high priest would kill the animals needed for the sacrifice and then sprinkle the blood onto another animal sending it out of the town, sort of the scapegoat.
If we were to go back and read the previous verses, we would find that the writer of Hebrews is showing that all of the sacrifices and all of that sprinkling was only temporary covering it was something that only happened for a short time. Annually sacrifices have to be made in order to cover people sins. So by stating therefore he’s reminding us what he’s already told us getting us to go back and think about that. And then he goes on to give us two significant implications of what Jesus is the fact that Jesus perfect sacrifice provided atonement for our sin once and for all.
So here are the two implication:
1. We received the privileges of Priests (19)
since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh,
In Matthew 27:45-54 – we get a picture of what happened when Jesus Christ. You see, there was great darkness over the land for several hours. The veil in the temple that separated the holy place from the holy of holies was torn in two from top to bottom. Normally, the high priest would go in there only once a year, and that was the only person allowed in. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, that barrier was torn in two and the writer of Hebrews is helping us see that we have rights as priests. We don’t need a mediator between us and God – Jesus is that “great high priest” as we’ll see in a moment.
I find it interesting to look at people’s responses when they find out I’m a pastor. Some most of whatever respond with an acknowledgment of what that role means and simply say Oh that is good.” Others will give me some sort of response like I’m a holy man like I shouldn’t be in their presence. It’s a very weird reaction to me. But I think it’s important for us to understand that we are all on the same level before Jesus Christ because of what he has done. My six-year-old daughter so he became a Christian last year. She and Danielle were talking about things and she came to the realization that being a Christian and having eternal life required more than just going to church or being a part of the Christian family. And so she as a then a five-year-old gave her life to Jesus Christ asked him to forgive her of her sins and bring her in to his family. She at six years old has the same rights, privileges, and access to God that I do as a seminary-trained person who’s been a Christian for nearly 36 years. Billy Graham, RC Sproul, John MacArthur, Chuck Swindoll, Ravi Zacharias, Charles Stanley Andy Stanley, Lee Becknell, Bob Schmidt, Fletcher Honemond, AK Thilagar, the Apostle Paul, Augustine, and John Calvin all have or had the same access to God. Sure, each of us play different roles in the body of Christ, but our access to God is as a priest would have – direct and unfettered.
The apostle Peter affirms this fact when he writes in 1 Peter 2:9 “you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation of people for his own possession….” I don’t want to be labor this point, but I want you to see how important it is that we understand that Jesus Christ sacrifice not only paid for your sins in mind for eternity but open wide the door for us to have a relationship with God.
In addition to giving us privileges as priests,
2. Jesus is our perfect, great high priest (21)
One of the main purposes for writing the book of Hebrews was to demonstrate that Jesus is a great high priest, far greater than any priest that has ever been known. Since there was a built in hierarchy of priests, it would almost go without saying that there would be a great-high priest. Not only is Jesus the High Priest over a specific congregation, but He is over all of the house of God – over all believers. He is the ultimate head of the church, of all of the people of God.
So Jesus’ sacrifice does some significant things for us in our relationship to God, putting us on equal ground under the authority of Christ. The natural question that the writer of Hebrews is addressing is…
How should we respond?
It is natural that we should respond to the perfect sacrifice of Jesus.
First of all,
We should draw near to God with confidence (22)
Notice that this is a job for all of us – it is a corporate event. In Greek, the word which is translated “let us draw near” is one word, one command for all of us to draw near. Because of our positional relationship with Jesus Christ, we have no reason to be afraid to come to God. This is the beauty about what Christ has done – we do not need a mediator – He is our mediator. We have no reason NOT to come to Him.
If you have never received the forgiveness and salvation of Jesus Christ, here is what I want you to understand. Once your sins have been cleansed by Him, and you have, by faith placed your sin on Jesus, then you have been permanently cleansed and forgiven. It is finished.
Romans 8:1 states “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
It is natural, as humans, to either shy away from people that we have offended or to not want to come before someone because of a guilty conscience. That is the beauty of our salvation. God wants us to draw near, knowing that even if we have sinned, we are still eternally forgiven.
We should hold fast to our confession (23)
As humans, it is natural for us to have doubts from time to time. It’s natural for us to be drawn away by some propaganda designed to make us lessen our devotion to God. And yet the writer of Hebrews here is urging us to stand firm.
We should consider each others in this process (24-25)
Consider how to stir one another up. – stirring up has a lot to do with prodding – and yet it doesn’t simply say to do it, but to consider how.
Parents – you know that when you are disciplining your children, one receives it one was, another may receive it differently. The point is, when we do this with each other, we need to consider who it is we are urging toward – love and good works.
Consider – think about each other – pray about each other, pray for each other.
In his book on the doctrine of prayer ("The Christian Doctrine of Prayer") – Hastings writes –
"If we believe that it is right to pray for ourselves, we are inclined, almost without a second thought, to conclude that it must be equally right to plead for other people, and to take it for granted that if our prayers are to our own advantage, they must be equally effective and beneficial when offered for others."
Prayer initiative – Wednesdays – 6AM, 12PM, 7PM – sanctuary open – come an pray.
Encouraging one another – come along side
In the same way – we need to do that. Encouraging one another all the more – especially as the Day of Christ draws near.
Last week, we introduced the command to love one another as Jesus was giving his farewell discourse. In John 14, smack in the middle of that discourse, Jesus tells the disciples that the Holy Spirit would be coming. He referred to Him as the “comforter.” – in Greek it is paraclete – the one who comes along side.
Encourage – is the same root word – meaning to come along side – sometimes to comfort, sometimes to remind.
I mentioned the two other instances when many English translations have “encourage one another.” Those two cases in 1 Thess. 4 and 5 seem to have the same meaning as it does here. The purpose is to either comfort people about the truth of those who have gone before or to encourage people – remind them – about the truth of eternal life. In the same way, here we are challenged to encourage one another in the reality of our salvation – our position before Jesus – not simply to let salvation be a one time event – but to live it out – to demonstrate it.
As we live life together – we are not only challenged to unconditionally love each other, but to encourage one another to live out life - honoring Christ.