What is Church? – Part 2

Do you need good news today? How about this: we haven’t been given a spirit of fear. As God’s people, we have been given a new spirit. One of power, love, and discipline. In this series, we’ve discussed that the Church is not a building, a single person, or a system. The Church is a “we.” Today we are going to dive into how the Spirit that we’ve been given—one of power, love, and discipline—directly connects to this idea of Church.

In Part 1 (read here), we read Hebrews 10:19-22 to set up an essential foundation. A foundation of action. What follows in the rest of verse 22 on through verse 26 are three incredible statements. The “let us” statements.

Let Us Draw Near

We see the first “let us” statement in verse 22.

“…let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”

Remembering what we built on yesterday, our foundation, we understand that because Jesus sprinkled his blood on the Mercy Seat of our hearts, he has provided us with communion and audience with the God of Mercy. We can now draw near with sincere heart, with full assurance of faith, because we have been cleansed from an evil conscience, and our bodies have been washed in pure water.

This is a drastic turn from what those folks in the Old Testament did. No one needs to tie a string around our leg to drag our dead bodies from the presence of God. We need no longer fear the presence of God.

James 4:8 says to us, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” This is a different picture of God than we saw in the Old Testament around entering his presence. Why is this important? Doesn’t it just confirm that the God of the Old Testament was different than the God of the New Testament?

No. Here’s why.

A New & Better High Priest

In the Old Testament, the High Priest was commissioned with the task that we see in James 4:8. It was his responsibility to draw near to God so that God could draw near to us. But, these high priests were sinful men. They fell short of the glory of God as we do.

But our High Priest never faltered. He never fails. This is why Hebrews 10:22 says that God chooses to disseminate, or distribute, mercy at the seat, the meeting place, the cleansing place of his people. The same God is there waiting to meet us, but now we have a better High Priest. Our sinless, faultless High Priest has ensured that we can now draw new with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith.

But what happens when our faith is struggling. What about the times where we don’t understand what God is doing? The wonderful news is that the faith in view here is in the instrument. Jesus. We can struggle with how God created the world. We can struggle with what God is doing in our lives. We can struggle with the concerns of Coronavirus and what’s going on around us. But here’s what we should have: full assurance that Jesus is the right High Priest.

We can know beyond a shadow of a doubt that when we fail, he does not. What we’re resting in is the fact that our hearts have been sprinkled clean, not by the blood of a lamb or the blood of a goat, not by a human sacrifice, or by human hands, but by Jesus Christ who himself paid for the sins of all humanity. Because of this glorious truth, the writer of Hebrews can say, “let us draw near.”

Let Us Hold Fast

Moving forward to Hebrews 10:23, we find our second “let us” statement.

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful…”

What’s important to note here is that this “let us” statement doesn’t hinge on our faithfulness. Holding fast to the confession of our hope without wavering hinges on the faithfulness of he who promised—Jesus. It’s not based on our works or on our ability to at all times be good spiritual citizens in the Kingdom of God. And thank God for that because, if we’re honest, we fully admit that we aren’t good citizens all the time.

What we’re doing here is holding fast to the confession of our hope. What is the confession of our hope? It’s that God makes promises, and he keeps them.

What is the confession of our hope? It's that God makes promises and he keeps them. Click To Tweet

Promises of God

This brings up a really hard issue with which we find ourselves warring over within the Church today. Doesn’t the Bible say all the promises of God are yes and amen in Christ Jesus? Absolutely. But the right way of understanding this would be to look to the Old Testament and realize that Jesus has always been at work. He didn’t just appear in the New Testament. He has always been. He is not created. He has eternally existed. This means that when the promise was made to Abraham that Isaac would be a descendant, Jesus was the one in whom that promise was yes and amen.

And, that’s the correct way to understand 1 Corinthians 1:20 because God’s promise to Abraham doesn’t apply to us. God never promised that we would all have a son named Isaac. That would be patently absurd, right?

What we must remember is that God is a promise-making God and a promise-keeping God. All the promises of God are yes and amen in Christ Jesus, but some of those promises have gone away because they were made and fulfilled to certain people. We have new and better promises, namely that Jesus—our High Priest—ensure our victory. So let us hold fast to the hope that the promise-giving God is also the promise-keeping God and that because Jesus sprinkled our hearts, we can now commune with him.

All the promises of God are yes and amen in Christ Jesus, but some of those promises have gone away because they were made and fulfilled to certain people. Click To Tweet

Let Us Consider

In light of this knowledge, let’s take a look at the third “let us” statement.

“…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.”

This is where many Bibles put a heading break in the chapter. Sadly, this causes the belief that the writer has changed subjects. But he hasn’t. And connecting the next verse to what we’ve just read is extremely important.

“For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins…”

How does this connect? Let’s deal with the sin issue right off the bat. These three “let us” statements are in light of what Jesus did in the temple, what he did (and does) as High Priest, how he has enabled us to commune with the mercy-dispensing God.

Walking in Sin

If we, given what Christ has done, don’t walk with full assurance of faith, knowing that he has made a promise which he is going to keep. If we don’t consider how to stimulate one another on towards love and good deeds, then we are walking in sin.

This may be challenging for us to hear, so as we wrap up today’s post, let’s zoom our focus in. Let’s take a look at what we’re supposed to do. We, as the Church, are supposed to stimulate one another to love and good deeds.

This is our job, Church. Our purpose is to stimulate one another on to love and good deeds. This is why the Church is not made for the world. Yes, we are on mission to the world, but the Church is composed of covenant people. People who have been washed in the blood of Jesus. And we accomplish our job by not forsaking our own assembling together.

Our job, as the Church, is to stimulate one another (other Christians) on to love and good deeds. #church Click To Tweet

Let’s Talk

In the next post, we will visit this more in-depth. For now, I’d love to hear the ways that you stimulate your brothers and sisters on to love and good deeds. Comment below or email me at nathan@nathanfranckhauser.com.

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