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Encouraging One Another

If ever there was a bible passage that clearly encourages us to be part of a church, it is found in our Hebrews passage this week [Heb 10:11-14, 19-25].

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 ..’ [v24-25]

The writer leaves no room for lukewarm faith or irregular attendance: church is vital for growth and survival.

Hang on! Why can’t we go it alone? Surely an individual, disciplined approach to daily study and prayer and reflection is enough? It would be a lot simpler not having to turn up at church each week trying to build relationships with a bunch of strangers! And more convenient!

It seems Christian fellowship and community are vital to the outworking of God’s promise of Christ’s ultimate return. This week’s lesson tells us that the church is a new community of people whose consciences are cleansed by God [v22], who are confident in God’s forgiveness, and eager to encourage one another ‘toward love and good deeds’ [v24].

This passage bubbles with joy and certainty: ‘we have confidence’ [v19]; ‘let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings’ [v22],  ‘let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess’ [v23].

‘Confidence’ is the key word of this passage. In Greek, the word embraces frankness, outspoken speech, openness to public scrutiny, boldness, and joy. It’s a characteristic of free citizens who can hold their heads up without shame or fear, looking others directly in the eye. In Roman society, slaves were unable to be so bold, in public or private.

But in the family of Christ, all are equal. Slaves and masters become brothers and sisters, rich and poor become friends.

In Hebrews, ‘confidence’ characterises members of the household of God [Heb 3:6; 10:21]. Ultimately, we are God’s house, God’s dwelling place, God’s temple, over which Christ is the faithful overseer [3:2-6] and high priest [3:1; 10:21].

Based on Susan Eastman  http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=1424,

and Amy Peeler http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=418

Hebrews 10: 11-14, 19-25

Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. 14 For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.

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.