Hold Fast (Hebrews 10:19-25)
Without perseverance nothing else ultimately lasts. Real Christian faith perseveres. Faith does not quit God or the visible church. Triumphant fortitude and steadfast endurance are the marks of the faith that lasts. The New Testament Letter to the Hebrews addressed Jewish Christians who were about to leave the church to return to the temple, leave the gospel to return to the law, leave Jesus to return to Moses. The author admonishes them repeatedly to hold fast. Although God holds us, we must hold fast.
Holding Fast Begins by Drawing Near to God
The Christian lives with the privilege of drawing near to God. In the ancient world such a privilege belonged to the priest alone. In Jesus Christ every believer is a priest with access to God immediately. Perseverance continues to press on toward God without ceasing for any reason. The text gives us four reasons why we can draw near to God.
We can draw near to God because of who we are. There are two qualities that characterize those drawing near to God. We draw near "with a sincere heart." The heart is the seat of personal character. There can be no divided allegiance, double-mindedness, or reservations for the one who presses into God's presence. We must also draw near "in full assurance of faith" (v. 22). We must banish any disbelief as to our acceptance with God through Jesus Christ. Full assurance means no reliance upon myself, my merit, or my performance, but all reliance on Christ.
We can draw near to God because of what God has done. We have received access to God as a gift. Drawing on the images of the Old Testament, the text gives us two things God has done for us that enable us to draw near. Inwardly, our hearts have been sprinkled. In the Old Testament the Hebrew people and priests were sprinkled with the blood of a sacrificial animal (Ex. 24:8; 29:21). We have been sprinkled with the blood of Jesus Christ. This has liberated us from a bad conscience. Outwardly, our very bodies have been washed with pure water. Body and soul God has made us fit to stand in His presence. God's provision should stir us mightily to press into His presence and hold fast our right of access.
Holding Fast Continues by Holding onto Our Hope
Because we are held, we are to hold on. "Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess" (v. 23). Hope is faith looking forward. Now the life of faith is difficult. The objects of our faith are in the future and are invisible. The risen Christ, the throne of God, the resurrection of our bodies all belong to throne of God, the resurrection of our bodies all belong to an unseen and future time. Faith holds onto the hope of all this.
Yet we hold because we are faithfully held. "God . . . is faithful" (1 Cor. 1:9). Our hope does not rest in our own fickleness and faithlessness. To break His promise is the contradiction of God's very nature. Because He holds us, we hold onto the hope. The fidelity of God challenges our own fidelity. If He is that faithful, so must I be!
Holding Fast Bears the Fruit of Mutual Encouragement
We encourage each other individually. "Let us consider how we may spur one another on" (v. 24). We are consistently and continually to prod one another in a ministry of loving confrontation. Literally, we are to "lay our minds down on one another." We are to observe and mark how to encourage each other. The quality of our encouragement is expressed by a tremendously energetic word which suggests irritation, incitement, and stirring up to rivalry. The goal of our encouragement is to be "good works." I am to incite in you the desire to deeds which are attractive and winsome to those' who see your life.
We are to encourage one another in the church. "Let us not give up meeting together" (v. 25). Why do you come to church? The proper reason for church attendance has little to do with "what I get out of it." Your presence in the gathering of God's people has to do first with the encouragement of others. Some were abandoning the fellowship. The effect of this was discouragement on those who remained. Every filled seat in God's house is a testimony of encouragement to the pastor and people. Every empty seat is a symbol of discouragement.
The Christian lives all of life under the aspect of the Coming Day. That Day is our face-to-face encounter with the living God. The Word connects your presence at God's house directly with that encounter. You are to persevere in your presence with God's people. Heaven keeps church records, too.