September 24th 2016: Alex Coblentz

We were delighted to share fellowship with Alex and Mary Nell Coblentz from French Camp ARP Church, Mississippi last Sunday. Alex preached a wonderful message of encouragement from Hebrews 10: 35, “Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.”

Alex began by asking us, ‘What kind of believers might the writer of Hebrews be talking to?’ We learnt that the writer is not speaking to a crowd of unbelievers, he writes to those of Jewish faith who had come to Christ, those who had received the knowledge of the truth.

Verse 26 of this chapter tells us ‘For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice of sins.’ Don’t throw the knowledge of the truth away! Sadly, many have thrown away their confidence. People who have a Christian background but not had a full conversion fall away in a crisis, they throw it all away. Young and old are drawn away by distractions, away from the call of Christ. We who believe are often puzzled by people who throw away their faith. It is not logical. At heart it is a spiritual issue, a matter of rebellion. There is a warfare going on in the hearts of men and women. There is an enemy, the deceiver who continues to seek who he may devour. People have sold their inheritance in the gospel. There are many whose faith is not as deep as it should be. Some reject Christ because prayers are not answered, some look at suffering and question how a God in heaven could allow this to happen. They have trusted in a God of their imagination and find no conversion.

In Hebrews, the whole thrust of the epistle is to point us to Christ – a better covenant that is sealed not with the blood of rams or bulls but Christ’s blood on the cross. The writer of Hebrews pleads with us not to throw our confidence away as it has been purchased with the blood of Christ.

‘Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Christ, 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, 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 with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful’ (Hebrews 10: 19-23). This is our confidence. Our confidence is not in the church, the pastor, pensions or anything else which is temporal. Christ has purchased for us the curtain of the holy of holies, symbolising our free access to God.

Interspersed with these great statements in Hebrews there are warnings:

  • ‘Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it’ (Hebrews 2:1). As long as we are moored close to God we are secure in that relationship. If we neglect the reading of scripture and the assembly of saints then the mooring becomes adrift.
  • ‘Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God’ (Hebrews 3:12). Every one of us still has the flesh. We may have an unbelieving heart, even though we are redeemed. We need to exhort one another every day. Look to blessing of fellowship in the church.

‘We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek’ (Hebrews 6:19). Jesus is our anchor. He has gone before us, lived the perfect life and shed His blood for us, was resurrected and we will follow Him in the resurrection. Jesus has gone ahead of us, He is our anchor within the veil. As we continue to fight the headwinds of life, Christ is our anchor who will hold us fast.

  • ‘Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward’ (Hebrews 10:35). We should not throw away our confidence. In Jesus, our high priest, we should draw near to God with a true heart.

‘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 with pure water’ (Hebrews 10:22). We need to hold fast. What a wonderful salvation we have in Jesus Christ!

  • ‘And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day dawning’ (Hebrew 10:24). The fellowship of believers is a means of grace. Come to know each other and love each other, encourage one another. Don’t live in an isolated eggshell. The neglect of fellowship is a sin of ownership. If we let down our guard we become vulnerable to the attacks of the enemy.
  • ‘For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins’ (Hebrews 10:26). The sin of going on sinning deliberately. This is a fearsome and solemn warning. The exhortation is before us. We know the difference between right and wrong. There is a hardness that enters in if we continue to sin. Cry out to the Lord to have mercy on us. Cast our anchor with Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, the anchor of our souls.

‘But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated’ (Hebrews 10:32). The people he is writing this to are not comfortable Christians; they are believers who have suffered for their faith. There were people who needed encouragement, people who were possibly tempted to throw away their confidence because of persecution. Yet, amazingly, even in persecution, they joyfully accepted this. They knew their treasure was in heaven. If we put our confidence in the one who is the anchor of the soul, then in the day of trial or judgement we will stand firm.

“Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a  great  reward.” (Hebrews 10:35). We have this confidence. Do not give up now. ‘For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.’ The anchor of our soul is this faith, ‘the righteous shall live by his faith’ (Habakkuk 2:4).

We have two paths before us: ‘But we are not those who shrink back and are destroyed, but those who have faith and preserve their souls’ (Hebrews 10:39). We can shrink back, withdrawing from the challenges of life, things which intimidate us, hoping things out there don’t impact me or hurt me. The other option is the call to take a stand for Jesus. We live in a throw-away society, we don’t value things. But our faith is not disposable. God calls us to exercise a faith that will endure – no matter wat may come. God will carry us, preserve our souls to the day of glory. What a day that will be when we behold Him face to face and be like Him!

 

 

 

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