The Book of Hebrews #42 chapter 10:19-25 pt. 3
The Book of Hebrews
Responding to the New Covenant (pt. 3)
Hebrews 10:19-25
So far we’ve looked at two of the three characteristics of salvation the author of Hebrews shares with his audience.  They all begin with the phrase, “Let us”.  If they respond to Jesus by accepting that He is the Promised Messiah and leave Judaism and embrace Christianity, they will first of all, have to exercise faith. We see that in verses 19-22 where he says, “Let us draw near with full assurance of faith.”
Accompanying that faith is hope.  Our hope is in Jesus Christ.  Either He is Who the Bible claims or He isn’t.  But outside of Him, we believe there is no hope.  That’s verse 23; therefore, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope.”
The third thing is love.
verse 24
Now obviously, these Jewish readers were having a hard time breaking with the old covenant. They were having a hard time coming all the way. And they were still holding on to legalism and all this other stuff, and they were still wanting to go back to the Temple and go back to the priest and back to the sacrifice, and it was so hard to make the break.
That had centuries of history and culture to have to deal with.  And that shouldn’t be too hard for us to understand. 
There are people today who have a very difficult time just moving from one denomination to the other, much less moving from one religion to another.  One of the most difficult conversations we ever have as pastors is talking to someone from another denomination about baptism. 
And so He encourages them by saying, "Come on and get in the fellowship."
Verse 25
We need to be here.  There are some weaker Christians who need to be encouraged and strengthened, and many times that will happen through a faithful friend or deacon or Sunday School teacher.  There are some who don’t attend prayer meeting who believe they have nothing to other or don’t know how to pray, and if a Sunday School teacher or trusted friend would come alongside them and say, “Come go with me”, they would go and learn how to pray. 
Now generally, that is how we approach this passage, and I don’t think it wrong to see it that way, but in context, that is not the primary focus of these verses. 
This is an not primarily an admonition to Christians to come to church.  We shouldn’t have to do that.  Christians shouldn’t have to be encouraged to be at church.  We ought to be here come hell or high water.  Nothing should be able to keep us from being with God’s people to worship and fellowship and learn.  And it’s a shame we have to spend so much energy just trying to get the membership here.
He is writing, not to encourage Christians, but those who are in other religions, primarily Judaism, to come to Christ and get in on the fellowship of true believers. 
Listen:  There are people all around us who are searching for the truth.  They are listening to the Mormons and the Jehovah Witnesses and the Muslims and Buddhists.  And Christians need to be  working with them and loving them and setting an example before and encouraging them so that they might come all the way to Christ. 
There are others who are close to Christ and may have even made a professions of faith, but they’ve not come all the way into full fellowship with God and His people.  They are wishy-washy when it comes to making an all-out commitment to Christ.
And he's speaking to them, saying, "Don't forsake this fellowship and go back to the Temple." Take it in its broadest scope. They were all having a hard time making the break, those who were intellectually convinced and those who were really saved.
They were all in danger of falling back, and He's saying, "Keep that fellowship going. Don't go back. You need each other. You need to love each other. You need to be irritated a little bit. The word "exhort" is translated “provoke” in the KJV and it is literally “irritate”. It's a negative word. "Irritate each other into doing good works." An old preacher told me a long time ago that preaching is designed to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.  
That’s what he’s saying:  Exhort, stimulate, irritate one another.  Don’t just let someone sit in their unfatihfulness.  Confront them.  Irritate them, if need be.  Provoke them to do what they need to do.  That’s what Christians do.  It’s all about love and good works. 
And the language he uses to say that is very strong.  He talks about “forsaking” the assembly in verse 25. 
Apparently, some were had already turned their back of the church and were going back to Judaism. “Don't do that," He says.  “Get together and exhort one another," encourage one another, "and so much more, as you see the day approaching."
What day? Well, I think He's talking here, first of all, about the destruction of Jerusalem. What he could be saying is, “Judaism is about to come to an end anyway.”  Soon, Jerusalem would fall and the temple would be destroyed and they wouldn’t be able to worship as a Jew as they had for centuries. 
But more than that, he is talking about the coming of Jesus Christ. Stimulate each other to godliness, and don't forsake the assembling of yourselves together and do it because Jesus is coming soon.
Some people say, "Well, I don't need to go to church. I'm already saved, and I can miss a few here and there." That just shows their immaturity and lack of understanding of Scripture because the more we grow to be like Christ and grow in our understanding of His Word, the more we understand the importance and significance of how desperate is our situation. 
We need each other to be together. We need to be in fellowship with other as mutually we strengthen each other, and we encourage each other to remain steadfast. And besides that, we talked last week about the human side of security. This is a part of it.  We show the validity of our faith by abiding, and at the very core and foundation of abiding is faithfulness to worship and service.
We can accumulate all the all the credentials we won’t too in regard to salvation.  We can have church membership and tithing records and titles and offices and do all kinds of things, but that doesn’t guarantee our salvation. 
You can’t separate these three “Let us” statements from one another, but I’ll tell you what I’ve discovered.  The middle one is the key.  You may have some kind of profession of faith as the first one says, and you may have lots of bragging rights about good works as the last one says, but the key to going all the way with Christ and giving the evidence of our faith on the one hand and the purity of our works on the other, is “holding fast”.
Once the “hold fast” is there, the faith will be validated and you will not forsake the assembly, but will instead demonstrate love and good works, especially in light of the soon and sure coming of Jesus Christ. 
And so what is the writer saying to us? Very simply, he says, "Come on in. The door is open. Believe God. Enter His presence. Stay there. And commune as believers." That's a positive response to the new covenant. Let's pray.
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