THERE . . . the Grand Jesus
Hebrews centers on the grand Jesus. Here’s its message: No one, nothing compares with Jesus. No angel. No priest. No action hero. No other being shares the being and the glory of this Jesus who is God. No one is so wonderfully Son of Man as Jesus. No one saves but Jesus. No one reveals the Father like Jesus, the brightness of His glory, the express image of His person.
The devil centers on the grand Jesus too. He’s fool enough to think he can kill Him. His cross-cunning foiled, he, nefarious dastardly he, delivers body blows aimed at the church-body of Christ. Especially at those tweens of the body—those right between young and old grown up. The vulnerable ones, he’d get, with might and main and modern media seeking to tear them sing them distract them and delude them one by one from the life and love and lordship of the Savior. In this way, if it were possible, the church, with body parts missing, scattered, and asunder, the church but a crippled and mangled body would reflect poorly, to say the least, on Jesus the Head. He would be a laughing stock, seen as a titular Head only, a savior-shepherd unable to keep His own. Unworthy of all this praise, this hype, this devotion, these creeds of the Christendom of the last two millennia—Jesus un-saviored, unsaving, unsavory.
You tween: you in the church of Jesus Christ: Do you hear that? Do you understand that? The devil is out to get you especially. And if he does, you are meat: he eats you up, you go to hell. And if he does then Jesus is mocked, and you have been a part of it all: the guile, the hypocrisy, the going along with Christianity thing just because your parents took you by the hand through it, and that is the only thing you knew, and so on. You then show you are no different from those carnal Jews, no different from today’s Babylonians, members not of Christ indeed, but of the great harlot, Babylon, mother of abomination. You were there then when they nailed Jesus to the cross. And you crucify Him afresh today by your unbelief and worldliness.
Really? We are persuaded better things of you! You fear God, every covenant tween fiber of you! above all, and with reverence, kissing His Son. You fear the devil, and with humility, knowing your flesh. You fear dishonoring Jesus the grand Savior—yours! You just know Jesus and His blood are the new and living way for you, to God! And you’ve just got to go, you want to go in that way . . . for even in your young life you’ve been there, done that . . . and nothing but God in the Savior now revealed is worth living for, worthy of all our trust!
THEREFORE . . . Believe Grandly Draw Near, Going Up
Draw near to God. We’ve mentioned that before, commenting on Hebrews 10:22. That is what the Holy Spirit whispers always to God’s children. Draw near . . . using the means mentioned by your parents and by every minister and catechism teacher worth his salt. Prayer, preaching, and such.
Just one more thing though, to make your believing grand. Remember to go up. For drawing near to God by faith, in full assurance of faith, is living truly as one who is of another world, heaven, and continually going there, to the God who is above. Drawing near to God is ascending. It is seeking the things above where Christ dwells at the right hand of God (Col. 3:1). It is minding, thinking heavenly things (Phil. 4:8). It is living as if blind to this world, walking by faith and not by (Internet site) sight (2 Cor. 5:7). It is rejoicing in the Lord always (Phil. 4:4), and thanking God more and more for spiritual blessings in heavenly places (Eph. 1:3), though vanilla ice cream and sunshine on my shoulder make me happy. Drawing near, going up, is yes, being other worldly—in this world, not of it. And increasingly so: drawing near, nearer, up, and higher every day is having done with lesser things every day. It is rising up, indeed, as men and women of God, serving Christ here, and using stuff, with thanks, and not being monastic, or going Amish. But sometimes, as the disciples of old in their busy life with Jesus, drawing near to God by faith is sometimes literally leaving the cell phone at home, drawing away, even far from madding crowds, and devices and toys and games people play. Drawing near . . . to God. And always further . . . and further . . . away . . . from . . . Hollywood.
Hoping in the Hope, and All Others Mere Galley Slaves
Hebrews tells true believers not only to draw near to God but also to hope in God. Hope has regard to and is convicted of a certain good future. Believers cannot help but hope. For faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Heb. 11:1). Because our faith is naturally weak, and therefore prone to give up hope, we are to make sure to hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering (Heb. 10:23), and to remember that God is faithful.
Ah, blessed hope! Hope is the future God Himself has promised. It is the goal of God Himself, the future He has ordained from eternity. What God Himself hopes for, if we can say it like that, is the glory of His own name. And that is exactly why we hope for it. Our hope, God’s hope, is the glory of God realized in and through Jesus Christ and His salvation of the church. This hope, therefore, is the gathering of every last one of God’s elect, and their being defended and preserved by the word and Spirit of Christ until the day of days, the “day approaching” (Heb. 10:25), the final day when Jesus comes again. This hope, therefore, is heaven. It includes the desire of every believer that the wicked who persist in their evil, who are the seed of the snake, go hissing all the way to hell, and that Babylon, the kingdom of man, be destroyed.
That your hope? You confess it, do you not—with the church, with God Himself? Then hold it fast—not like a barnacle on a ship or a burr on a dog, but as a believer with all your heart hold hope, and the Word of hope, and the God of hope in hope’s embrace. God’s own future, something He has planned from eternity, the church’s future—this must be your hope. It is a living hope, a vital, make-a-difference in your life hope to which we are born again (1 Pet. 1:3), and which like a mighty wave buoys you up and sweeps you, relentlessly, toward the lovely shores of the coming kingdom of God.
All other hopes, other goals you may have must serve this hope—like so many slaves in a galley. When they do not, they are nothing but shameful, covetous, and carnal desires. Desire a mate? Hope for one? OK. But what do you desire more: to be married, or that Christ will come? I know, often we can have both. But our desire, our truly hoping for anything, must be a servant to the most blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ (Tit. 2:13). Hold the profession of your hope fast, and you can be sure to keep yourselves from living for some ship to come in, from playing the lottery, and from making room in your dream house for too many Lamborghinis. For by faith you will be too near to God and to heaven for that. And your hope of heaven and the gain that is dying and being with Jesus will keep you dreaming of the mansions of glory.
Loving in That Strangest of Assemblies
Believing grandly, hoping grandly in the grand Savior Jesus . . . this cannot be for us all alone, even though it may that you prefer to be all alone under your favorite pine tree warbling with the birds a hymn of praise. Don’t get me wrong: ’tis good to be alone sometimes, but not always and only alone. For there are no alone Christians. The church of Christ is a body. The members of the body need each other. We believe, we hope, we warble . . . together. Or there is no faith. We are hopeless. And without a song.
That’s what Hebrews means when it tells us, right after exhorting us to faith and to hope, to “consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together” (Heb. 10:24–25).
Do we get that? You young believer, you’ve just got to. For the manner of some, even of many, is to forsake it all—all the church thing, the corporate Sunday worship thing, the coming together to pray and to study the Word of God. And all in the name of “me and Jesus and a pine tree.” That’s all I need, the moderns are telling us: just Jesus, and some buds I choose, and the mountain breeze, and WCSG, and to surf the Internet for the latest great . . . wit . . . of a preacher.
Do that, and devils lick their lips. Ready to pounce. As one by one even well-meaning professing Christians go solo, riding off into the sunset, and we hear they are now on some compound somewhere (see: even they end up together with somebody!) in South America about to drink some Kool-Aid, or hip-hopping off to meet the sunrise and to reinvent the Christian faith . . .
The assemblies? They are of the church of God! They are the gathering of believers and their seed. They are where the church preaches and administers sacraments, and where God Himself opens and shuts the kingdom of heaven. They are where faith is born, where hope lives, and where love . . .
Is the greatest!
Hey, young Christians: “Come together! Right now!” And stay together. And grow together. And stir up love, true love, the giving, the joy of giving, the joy of showing off, most brilliantly, the light of God’s own love.
In the church: where love must be stirred up, for the assemblers are so loveless and prone to hate and devour one another like beasts and like demons. But where love reigns and conquers selfishness and hate. Where the God of love reconciles, harmonizes, enriches. Where the kingdom of God advances, one deed of love and mercy at a time.
And there, among God’s saints, young, old, and tweens now men and women of the living God, there, yes, there the great and grand Jesus we do know and grow to know. And believe. And long for. And love . . .
Rev. Mitchell Dick is the pastor at Sovereign Grace United Reformed Church located on the NE side of Grand Rapids, MI.