TWO WORDS—LET US . . .
19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess,for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
It does not say—LET ME or LET YOU . . .
But it says—LET US . . .
Without being a part and joining a local church—it is impossible to live the Christian life.
It is out of reach.
- TO EXPERIENCE GOD’S GRACE THROUGH HIS FAMILY—v22
- V22—A sincere heart—undivided allegiance in the inner being.
- Full assurance of faith—faith that knows no hesitation in trusting and following Christ.
- Hearts sprinkled . . . from a guilty conscience—total freedom from a sense of guilt, a freedom based on the once-in-for-all sacrifice of Christ.
- Bodies washed with pure water—allude to Christian baptism and the cleansing from sin through the sacrificial death of Christ that it signifies.
- It is only within the body of Christ can we know how the Christian can celebrate the very presence of Christ and live out his or her faith in a genuine way.
- It is only within the body of Christ can we learn of God’s grace and see models of how it is to be lived out.
1 John 1:9—If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
- The community of believers called the church allows the believer to actualize and come to understand what being released from the concept of sin really means.
- The believer is then able to go into the world and display the character of Christ in forgiving his or her neighbor.
Years ago in Guatemala, a man came to me who had dishonored our Lord’s name. He was truly broken and had repented. Yet he was still without joy. It was obvious he needed to be assured that he was forgiven; otherwise Satan would have gained an advantage over him.
I did something then which until that day I had never done. I put my arm around him and said, “Brother, you’ve repented; your sins are forgiven. Let me pray with you.” And this broken, humble Guatemalan said, “Oh, thank you, thank you. Now I’m free!”
With tears running down our faces, we hugged each other. He was so excited, because a fellow brother in Christ had reassured him.
But this man should have been reassured earlier by his local church. When someone is obviously broken and repentant, the church must stand up and say, “In the name of the Lord Jesus, rejoice! He has forgiven you, and we forgive you too.” The assurance from such corporate forgiveness brings healing and joy to the entire congregation.
Citation: Luis Palau, “Discipline in the Church,” Discipleship Journal (July/August 1983
- Classical Christianity stresses not only that God in Christ pardons our sins but that God provides a community of forgiveness whereby we are enabled to actualize our freedom from bondage of sin.
- The bare word of unconditional pardon would be immoral without a community concerned with the ever-deepening growth of the forgiven person.
- TO BE TRANSFORMED BY TRUTH—v23
HOW DO WE HOLD STEADFAST TO OUR FAITH?
- THIS APPEAL IS FOR A STANCE OF UNWAVERING FIDELITY TO THE ESCHATOLOGICAL HOPE THAT CHRISTIANS POSSESS THROUGH CHRIST.
- TO HOLD FAST THE HOPE WE PROCESS—is to maintain a firm confidence in the objective gift of salvation God has extended to the community on the basis of Christ’s priesthood and sacrifice.
- THE ENCOURAGEMENT TO HOLD FAST is reinforced by the term—without wavering.
- LET US HOLD FAST . . .—calling for the community to remain stable and to affirm its privilege status as the people for the community to remain stable and to affirm its privileged status as the people who have been granted access to God through Christ.
- The Christian acts in certain ways because of the Christian’s constant encounter with a God who sees things differently than we do.
- We are NOT good enough to go it alone. PAUL CHIEF OF SINNERS—THAT WHICH I DON’T WANT TO DO I DO—
- As a soldier is trained through the rigors of boot camp, a Christian is developed through the crucible of the church.
- TRUTH HELD UP HABITUALLY BEFORE US—EITHER TO REJECT IT OR ACCEPT IT.
- At church the truth is constantly and habitually held before us until we either see or reject the truth.”
MY CHALLENGE AS PASTOR IS TO HOLD US THE WORD OF GOD WHETHER PEOPLE WANT TO HEAR IT OR NOT.
2 Timothy 4:2—Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.
Hebrews 4:12— 12For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
- HOLD UP THE LEVEL—is my new house level? Is it plumb??
The Bible is alive, it speaks to me; it has feet, it runs after me; it has hands, it lays hold of me.
=Citation: Martin Luther, “Martin Luther–The Early Years,” Christian History, no. 34.
- The church is the central place of a Christian’s moral formation, for only the church keeps this vision before us in this affective, habitual, social way.
B. THE CRUCIBLE OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH
- When religion is reduced to the momentary psychological high, the sporadic encounter, the two-Sundays-a-year drop in, we are thereby protected from having this faith get under our skin, become second nature, a part of us. It will be only the brief happening, not the lifelong habit.
- Christianity is not a momentary, instantaneous affair.
- It takes times, cultivation, work, perfection, reformation.
- The essential locus for making of Christians is the crucible of the church.
- One of the central functions of the church is to call Christians to change, to be converted, and then continue to grow.
- We are creatures of habit, who do not self-sustain goodness, hope, and vision.
HABITS—neglecting their HABITS—v25
- But be well assured that we will conform to some worldview or we will die.
- “They have been neglecting their habits“—Many today do not feel the presence of God, are not motivated toward any responsibility for their neighbor, sense no claim upon their lives, because they have been neglecting their “habits.”
If you cheat in practice, you’ll cheat in the game. If you cheat in your head, you’ll cheat on the test. You’ll cheat on the girl. You’ll cheat in business. You’ll cheat on your mate. Sow a thought, reap an act. Sow an act, reap a habit. Sow a habit, reap a character. Sow a character, reap a destiny.
George Munzing, “Living a Life of Integrity,” Preaching Today,
In one area of Africa where Christianity began to spread, converts were zealous about daily devotions. They would find their own spot within the wild thickets and pour their hearts out to God. After some time the spots became well-worn, and paths were created. Soon, one’s prayer life was made public. If someone began to neglect his or her devotional life, it would soon be noticed by others. Believers would then gently and lovingly remind those in neglect, “The grass grows on your path.”
Citation: Submitted by David DeWitt; source: Today in the Word (June 1992
- Ritual is a dirty word in our society. We value freedom, spontaneity, casualness.
- Most of us find though that commitment requires a certain amount of sameness, repetition, and continuity; it takes time to grow, to deepen our understanding of ourselves and others.
BASEBALL GLOVE—During a game when the ball is hit hard to you–Don’t think—REACT—DON’T HAVE TIME TO THINK
In our world as wickedness is everywhere—don’t have time to THINK.
At church—we develop our MORAL HABITS to where we REACT—and don’t have to THINK.
HOW DO WE HOLD FAST WITH COMPLETE FIDELITY? By repetition, by habits, and by continually holding the WORD OF GOD before us.
- TO BE PROVOKED TO LOVE—v24
- RED HEADS—IRISH are known for their quick temper—quickly being provoked to anger.
- This word—provoke—used primarily, and almost exclusively when speaking of anger. Paul & Barnabas—provoked to anger.
Acts 15:39— 39They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus.
- Here love is provoked in the sense of being stimulated in the lives of Christians by the considerateness and example of other members of their fellowship.
- Come to church to be provoked to love others like Christ did. Not something you do alone. By conviction of God, example of others, charge by teachers.
YOU MAY NOT WANT TO DO THE WILL OF GOD
YOU MAY SAY—I CANNOT DO IT
LOOK AT MY LIFE—I AM A FALLEN, WOUNDED INDIVIDUAL
LOOK AT MY PAST SOME MAY SAY
BUT THE PEOPLE OF GOD AND THE POWER OF GOD ARE HERE BESIDE YOU—HOLDING YOU UP—CHARGING YOU TO GO AHEAD—DEMANDING NOTHING LESS THAN COMPLETE OBEDIENCE TO THE WILL OF GOD.
After an accident in which she lost her arm, a girl named Jamie refused to go to school or church for an entire year. Finally the young teen thought she could face her peers. In preparation, her mother called her Sunday school teacher and asked that he not call attention to Jamie. The teacher promised, but when he got sick on Sunday and had to call a substitute, he forgot to tell the second teacher.
At the conclusion of the lesson that day, which was about inviting friends to church, the sub led the class in doing the hand motions to the familiar children’s poem:
Here’s the church
Here are the people
Open the door
See all the people.
Jamie’s eyes filled with tears. A 13-year-old boy realized how she must be feeling. He knelt beside her. With one hand apiece, they supported each other, making the church, steeple, and people. Together they illustrated what real church is.
Citation: Billy Waters, Teacher Touch (Colorado Springs: Cook, 1999
IV. TO HAVE OUR FOCUS RENEWED—V25
“LET US” . . . BE DIFFERENT—JOSHUA 24:15— 15 But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
- “HABIT OF SOME”—implies indifference and apathy
- Possibly fear of recognition by outsiders
- Disappointment in Christ in not returning yet
- Laziness, apathy . . .business obligations—2nd century house churches in Rome.
- Writer of Hebrews called the desertion of the church of God as utterly serious.
IDENTITY REAFFIRMED—1 PETER 2:9-10; JEREMIAH 29:11; JOHN 3:16—EPH 1
- LET US . . .be different. Because life is tough—WE NEED TO STICK TOGETHER.
- WE WERE MADE TO BELONG. LIFE IS DIFFICULT SO GOD GAVE US A FAMILY TO MAKE IT THROUGH THIS LIFE TOGETHER.
- Romans 12:5, “In Christ we who are many form one Body, and each member belongs to all the others.”
- Fellowship is loving God’s family.” I John 4:21. “The person who loves God must also love other believers.”
- A lot of people say, “Well, I’m going to go to church,” as if church is a place you go to.
- Church is a family you belong to. Big difference. It’s more than a building, more than a service. It is family that we are to belong to.
- It is impossible to fulfill all the other purposes God had for your life without fellowship.
- You know, you hear some people say, “Well, I’m a Christian, but I don’t want to belong to any church.” That just doesn’t make sense.
- The church is where you live out what it means to be a Christian.
My friend LEE—I DON’T NEED A TEAM! World’s greatest athlete but never a part of a team.
- That’s like saying, “I’m a football player, but I don’t want to be a part of any team.” It doesn’t work.
- That’s like saying, “I’m a tuba player, but I don’t want to be a part of an orchestra.” A tuba player without an orchestra sounds pretty funny.
- That’s like saying, “I’m a bee, but I don’t want to be a part of a hive”; a soldier without a platoon.
- A Christian without a church family is an orphan. God meant us to be a part of a family.
- If you want to grow, if you want to see God at work in your life, you have got to join a body.
- If you’re floating from church to church it’s like (let’s say you were the liver in the Body of Christ, that was God’s job for you) you can’t un-attach yourself from one body and try to go attach yourself to another and then to another.
- If you tried to do that, if you did that with an organ, it would shrivel up and die.
- Same with the Christian walk—you will shrivel up and seriously weaken as a Christian.
- Direct access to God—THOSE WHO NEGLECTED GATHERING TOGETHER COMPLETELY FAILED TO APPRECIATE THE SIGNIFICANCE OF ENTERING INTO THE VERY THRONE OF GOD.
- We as a corporate body—we are allowed to enter into the very presence of God and bring Him pleasure every week.
- WORSHIP IS A WAY OF REFLECTING BACK TO GOD THE RADIANCE OF HIS WORTH BECAUSE WE ARE IN LOVE WITH HIM.
- FOR THE HEART TRULY LONGS FOR GOD HIMSELF.
- TO SEE HIM AND KNOW HIM AND BE IN HIS PRESENCE IS THE SOUL’S FINAL FEAST. WORSHIP IS AN END IN ITSELF.
- IT IS IN INWARD COMMAND, NOT JUST SOMETHING TO CHECK OFF—
- PSALM 37:4—Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
- WHEN WE DELIGHT OURSELVES IN THE LORD, WHAT BECOMES THE DESIRE OF OUR HEART? GOD HIMSELF.
- FAR TOO MANY HAVE NO IDEA THAT THE EMPTINESS IN THEIR SOULS CAN BE MET BY TRULY SURRENDERING THEMSELVES TO WORSHIPPING GOD.
AT CHURCH—WE ARE REMINDED OF WHAT IS REAL AND WHAT IS TRUE
TOMMY NELSON—NEW CHRISTIAN SHARING JOHN 3:16 IN GREAT TEARS
- WE ARE BEAUTIFUL IN GOD’S EYES
- WE HAVE BEEN BOUGHT WITH A GREAT PRICE
- WE ARE DEARLY LOVED
- WE ARE A ROYAL PRIESTHOOD
- HE CHOSE US BEFORE THE CREATION OF THE WORLD
- WE HAVE AN HERITANCE
- WE ARE CHILDREN OF GOD
People came early one Christmas Eve for the 11 P.M. service at Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, New York City. Among them was a recovering alcoholic, six months sober, who slipped into the eleventh row. This was his first Christmas since having lost his family. A family of four sat down two rows in front of him. Seeing them together was crushing. He decided he couldn’t handle it—he had to have a drink.
As he moved from the sanctuary to the narthex, he ran into Pastor Thomas Tewell. “Jim, where are you going?” the pastor asked.
“Oh, I’m just going out for a Scotch,” Jim replied.
“Jim, you can’t do that,” the pastor responded. He knew that Jim was a recovering alcoholic. “Is your sponsor available?”
Jim replied, “It’s Christmas Eve. My sponsor is in Minnesota. There’s nobody who can help me. I just came tonight for a word of hope, and I ended up sitting behind this family. If I had my life together, I’d be here with my wife and kids too.”
Pastor Tewell took Jim into the vestry to talk with a couple of other pastors. Then he slipped into the auditorium, having no idea what to do. He whispered a prayer: “O God, could you give me a word of hope for Jim?” He welcomed everyone and told them about the church. Then he said, “I have one final announcement. If anyone here tonight is a friend of Bill Wilson—and if you are, you’ll know it—could you step out for a moment and meet me in the vestry?” Bill Wilson, better known as Bill W., is a cofounder of Alcoholics Anonymous.
From all over the sanctuary, women, men, and college students arose and made their way out. “And there while I was preaching in the sanctuary about incarnation,” said Pastor Tewell, “the Word was becoming flesh in the vestry. Someone was experiencing hope.”
Citation: Adapted from Dr. Thomas Tewell, The Communicator’s Companion (3-21-02); submitted by Lee Eclov, Lincolnshire, Illinois
- INVESTING YOUR LIFE IN OTHERS—EVERY DAY.
- DO THE RIGHT THING—WE ARE WITH YOU
- STAND FIRM—DON’T BE DECEIVED.
- WE ARE EMAILING YOU—WE ARE CALLING YOU—WE ARE LOVING
YOU TO THE TRUTH OF GOD.
B. HOPE TO KEEP GOING—”DAY IS COMING”
- IN CHURCH—WE CAST THE VISION FOR THE TRUE REALITY IN LIFE.
- IN THE WORLD—THIS IS ALL THERE IS—ECCLESIASTES
FREES US FROM SEEKING GLORY & APPLAUSE FOR OURSELVES
LIVE A LIFE OF GRATITUDE B/C OF WHAT AWAITS US & WHAT HAS BEEN DONE FOR US.
FUEL FOR SERVING OTHERS.
Romans 8:31—if God is for us, who can be against us?
Romans 12:19—Vengeance is mine says the Lord
James 1:2-5—makes sense of suffering
Romans 5:3-5—exult in our tribulations
Coming to Church—the vision of eternity is continually put before us—reminding us that this is NOT all there is
PLEASE DON’T MISS CHURCH