Improving Our Christian Community
A Study of Hebrews 10:23-25 by Bob Burridge ©2019
The first part of the book of Hebrews is about God and how the coming of JesusChrist fulfilled his plan. Then in chapter 10 the focus of the Book of Hebrews turns to the practical outworkings of God’s truth in our daily lives.
Hebrews 10:23-25 shows the importance of the unified support we should give one another in the church.
That foundation of hope in Christ is the foundation of the Christian community.
Hebrews 10:23, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.”
What holds us together isn’t our common circumstances, hobbies, taste in music, or political views. Our unity is because together we confess some basic truths, and we share our hope in God’s unfailing promises.
First: We understand that we’re all here by God’s grace alone.
Nobody in the church is any better than anybody else. No one is part of God’s family because he deserves to be. We all should be motivated by the same deep gratitude for our Savior. We’re united in our love for our Heavenly Father, for the Son Jesus Christ our Lord, and for the Holy Spirit who comforts, teaches, and implants that love in us.
Second: We each have the same main goal in life.
The Westminster Shorter Catechism begins by teaching that the chief end of man is, “to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.” That should be remembered and persistently taught with love and patience to every child and adult.
The first thing the Bible tells us about the new community in Acts 2, right after Peter’s sermon at Pentecost, is that “they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. ” (Acts 2:42) Our confession of how God’s grace unites us as a spiritual family in Christ is our foundation. Those who trust in God’s care for us have hope. They sincerely expect that Christ will fulfill all the promises he made.
Our confession must be without wavering.
The original Greek word translated as “without wavering” is “aklinaes” (ἀκλινής). It’s derived from the Greek noun “klinae” (κλινη) which means “bed or couch”. The verb form based on that noun is “klino” (κλινω) which means “lay down on a bed, fall down, bend down”. The word here in Hebrews 10:23 has the letter “a” (α) in front of it which negates it. It’s like adding the word “not”. Our confession of hope must not be easily bent down or thrown down, not put to bed. The hope we confess should be inflexible, secure, and therefore “without wavering”.
Those who don’t rest in the full authority of the Bible alone have no real foundation. They add the theories and assumptions of imperfect humans, even if the sources are authors or preachers. They can’t understand why we won’t give in on things such as the fact of Creation, the virgin birth of Jesus, the need of salvation from sin, and the awful reality of eternal judgment. The redeemed believe God’s word. Its truths are beyond negotiation or amendment.
The opposite kind of person is seen in James 1:6-8, “… the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”
Those who are unstable move this way and that, never finding an anchor that holds. They assume there’s no absolutely “right way” so they bend easily. Doctrine seems so hard for them. They wonder why we should be concerned about what’s right. They say, “Who can know for sure any way?” They filter everything through the colored glasses of a fallen heart disabled by unforgiven sin.
But God has spoken, and not unclearly. Being unwavering assumes things will come along trying to turn us away from the truth. We better not turn aside. Together we need to stand firmly upon what God has made known.
The Christian community has a responsibility.
Hebrews 10:24, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,”
We should carefully consider how we can encourage others. Great armies don’t go into battle without a plan.
If they did, they woud lose miserably – and wouldn’t be “great”. Chess has always fascinated me. It becomes a whole different game when you learn to use a game-plan. You build up a strong defense, and use the pieces together to plan your attacks. You isolate your opponent with forcing moves where the rules make him move where you want him to go.
It’s also important to plan out how we can help others in the church so we all can grow in love and good works. We need to work together as one body just like our hands, legs, mouth, and ears all cooperate to get things done. In chess we coordinate all the pieces from the pawns, to the queen, along with the rooks, knights, and bishops. Like in chess, all the people in the church have a reason God put them here. Each has his purpose. Some teach and lead, all pray, some do office work, set up tables, work in the kitchen, greet visitors, paint walls, cook dishes for socials, help in the nursery, encourage others in the church – many jobs need to be done.
1 Corinthians 12:21-22, “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’ On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable,”
Like an army prepares for battle we need to carefully plan our encouragement of others in the church. Think about ways to help one another become what we ought to be.
In whatever skills or jobs we each can do, Hebrews 10:24 is very specific about two main goals.
1. We should plan ways to stir one another up to “love”.
A good summary of what this true kind of love is about is found in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”
We should strive to be growing as examples of all these characteristics. We should also look for ways to encourage others in these attributes too in whatever God’s called them to do.
2. We should plan ways to stir one another up to do “good works”.
Deeds are “good” only when they please God and are done for his glory. We know what these good deeds are because God’s told us in His word.
If we don’t think about how to best accomplish this, we’re not doing what this Bible passage says — “Planning”
The gatherings of the Christian community are where it’s done.
Hebrews 10:25, “not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
Simon Kistemaker in his commentary on Hebrews wrote, “One of the first indications of a lack of love toward God and the neighbor is for a Christian to stay away from the worship services. He forsakes the communal obligations of attending these meetings and displays the symptoms of selfishness and self-centeredness.” (Baker N.T. Commentary)
Even in the early church some had a problem with being regular in being together as a family. The Greek word for “meet together” is “epi-sunagogae” (ἐπισυναγωγή) it’s where we get the word “synagogue.” The gathering of the church family is commanded by Christ.
Moffatt calls one who never commits to a local congregation “a pious particle”. The idea of a Christian without a church family is a problem. If a Christian is to be like Christ, then like Christ, he can’t be isolated from others. Failure to be a loyal connected family demonstrates disloyalty to the Kingdom of God.
But it’s more than just getting together on Sunday mornings. After warning the readers how ancient Israel had fallen away Hebrews 3:12-13 says, “Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”
We live in an age where we have amazing tools for encouraging one another.
We have many ways to make connections: e-mail, postal mail, all kinds of phones, social media,
and ways to easily get around in our communities. These tools can be used in our plans for good, or misused to distract us from our duty.
If we really trust the promises of God without wavering, we work out plans to improve ourselves and to encourage those in our church family to grow in how we love and do all things for the glory of God. We shouldn’t just reach out to those our age, or who dress like us, or who sit in the same area of the church as we do, but to all who struggle to be a light in this dark world, and who are born spiritually into the family of Christ.
We’re to plan how we can each make our church family stronger and more Christ-like. Those seeking a Christian family will find what they’re looking for when they’re invited to join in.
(Bible quotations are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.)