By Kasey Knowlton
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” - Hebrews 10:23-25
Long ago, Norwegian and Dutch sailors had a saying, “houd vast,” which meant to hold tight. In time it became, “hold fast.” If a sailor were told to hold fast the line, he would know to tighten it. It was not uncommon to see sailors with the words “hold fast” tattooed onto their fingers just below the knuckle, a trend that continues to this day. When hitting rough seas, they’d grasp a rigging line with one hand and keep the other free to help other crewmates from being swept overboard. In the Greek, it is the word, “epecho” (ep-EK-o), which means to hold upon, or hold one’s mind towards. Here, the author of Hebrews is instructing us to hold fast to our confession of hope without wavering. In other words, don’t let go of the line!
In this hour upon the Earth, there are plenty of storms swirling around that threaten to spiritually toss us overboard. There are the ongoing political divisions, Covid-19 (and all of the strong opinions about that), disintegrating morals within the culture, compromise within our churches; just to name a few. Now, perhaps more than ever before, our need to hold fast to our confession of faith in Jesus Christ is utterly vital. If we waver now, we risk being swept away.
But how do we know the line will hold, that our faith will survive the storm? Verse 23 reminds us, “…for He who promised is faithful.” In fact, throughout the entire letter of Hebrews, the author is making a case for the power and promise of the Lord Jesus Christ. It details how He is superior to the prophets, the angels, Moses and the priests. In fact, “hold fast” is used several other times in the letter, including in 4:14. It reads: “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.” Because of what Christ has done, we can confidently hold fast - grip tightly - our confession of faith. We need not waver, or loosen our grip or to doubt Him, for He has been and will be faithful to fulfill all that God has promised. In other words, He will not let us down!
But what has God promised us? As believers, we understand that by placing our faith and trust in Christ, we are saved from separation from the Father and spared the torments of Hell, for Christ took the punishment of our sin upon Himself. As John 10:28 says, “and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.” This is certainly part of the promise. To better understand what the author of Hebrews had in mind, we need to look at verses from a previous chapter. Hebrews 9:28 states, “…so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.” Here we see the emphasis not only on forgiveness of sin, but on Christ’s second coming. Truly, His return to usher in an everlasting Kingdom is a key reason for the hope of our confession. We know the line will hold because He is faithful! Curious that these verses add, “to those who eagerly await Him.” Is Christ’s return something that you are eagerly anticipating?
Holding fast our confession of faith and building anticipation for Christ’s return is difficult to do alone. I think this is why verses 24-25 go on to say, “and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another…” Here the author states that we are to “stimulate one another to love and good deeds.” But how? I think verse 25 is telling us, by “not forsaking our own assembling together.” We come together to be strengthened in our convictions, encouraging one another. We are the sailor holding fast the line with one hand while holding out the other, helping our brother or sister not be swept overboard. Paul talks about the different giftings imparted to us by the Spirit in 1st Corinthians 12:7. “But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” Notice that these gifts were for the “common good” – that is, to benefit the whole body of Christ. We need each other! It’s why belonging to and serving in a strong Bible believing church is so vital. We were not meant to weather the storms of this life alone.
What’s striking about the last part of Hebrews 10:25 is that it instructs us to encourage one another and meet together, “all the more as you see the day drawing near.” It seems that the author of Hebrews is suggesting that meeting for encouragement grows in importance the closer we approach the coming day of the Lord. It’s that day when, as Hebrews 9:28 tells us, “…He will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.” I would submit to you that while, “no one can know the day nor hour,” as Jesus states in Matthew 24, we can see it drawing closer, as the author of Hebrews is suggesting. Paul makes a similar point in 1 Thessalonians 5:4-6: “But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober” (Emphasis added). Friends, let us not be caught of guard by the signs of the times nor dismayed by them. For the coming day of the Lord will be a glorious day for those who believe!
As the hour grows late upon the Earth, and the storms rage on, let us remember that our hope has an anchor, that great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus Christ. Let us hold fast to that hope, the hope of our salvation, as we anticipate Christ’s coming Kingdom, staying ever alert, so that we may see the day as it approaches. He is coming, dear ones, and that right soon.
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