Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Holding on to Confident Rejoicing

Christ [is] a Son over His own house, who house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end. (Hebrews 3:6)
The author of Hebrews is writing to a group of people who were up against severe persecution. As Jewish believers in Christ, they were getting it from two sides — from Jewish leaders who had rejected Christ and from the Romans who, oddly enough, view Christians as atheists because they did not worship Caesar and bow to the Roman pantheon. It was tough for them, no question about it.

In the midst of that, the author of Hebrews encourages/exhorts them to hold on to their faith in Jesus the Messiah because He is the Anointed One who fulfills all the promises God has made. Moses was faithful as a servant in the house God was building, and certainly to be greatly honored (Hebrews 3:2, 5). But Jesus is faithful as the Son of the house. The house is all those who believe the promises of God and receive His Anointed Son.

There is a great confidence we can have in that. The Greek work for “confidence” means courage, boldness, outspokenness. It speaks of the right of access we have before God. That is why the author says in the next chapter, “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). The Greek word for “boldly” in 4:16 is the same as the word “confidence” in 3:6.

Under Moses, the people of God were afraid to approach God. In Jesus, we can come boldly before God:
For you have not come to the mountain that may be touched and that burned with fire, and to blackness and darkness and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words, so that those who heard it begged that the word should not be spoken to them anymore. (For they could not endure what was commanded: “And if so much as a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned or shot with an arrow.”And so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I am exceedingly afraid and trembling.”)
But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel. (Hebrews 12:18-24)
That is the confidence we have now because of Jesus Christ, the confidence the author of Hebrews encourages us to hold onto. It is that faith which can see us through great difficulty.

The word for “rejoicing” means to glory in, boast in or brag about. It is the same root word Paul uses when he says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). See, this boasting is not about who we are and what we have done — there’s nothing to brag about there and certainly no reason to have confidence. No, the boasting Hebrews speaks of is about Jesus Christ, what He has done for us and the boldness we can now have in Him.

How do we hold on to this confidence and rejoicing and manifest the household of God in turbulent times? There are a number of keys the author of Hebrews gives us which will be of great help to us (you can search these out in the book of Hebrews), but it all comes down to this, found in Hebrews 3:1. “Consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Jesus Christ.” It is only as we keep our focus on Him that we are able to continue walking in the victory He has won for us. (See The Table of Considering Him)

Yes, things may be getting difficult for you right now, but hold to your confidence and boasting in Jesus Christ and you will make it through.