How can we PREPARE ‘WELL’ for the RETURN of CHRIST?
December 16 Bible Reading: Hebrews Chapters 10-13
“Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus…let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Heb. 10:19, 22-25)
In the above verses, the author of Hebrews describes the relationship between faith, hope, and love, and thereby reveals how we can prepare well for the return of Jesus Christ. It is by our faith in God that we can place our hope in His promises. It is when we restore a right relationship with God that we can restore our relationships with others. Our love for God demonstrates itself in and through our love for others. The above verses exhort us to faith, hope, and love through three commands: “let us draw near” (v. 22); “let us hold fast” (v. 23); and “let us consider one another” (v. 24).
During the times of the Old Testament, people were kept at a distance from God with priests only able to minister from the Holy Place, and the High Priest being able to minister in the Holy of Holies only once a year on the Day of Atonement. However, now we are now encouraged to draw near into His presence by faith at any time and from any place on earth since we are brought near through the blood of His cross in Christ Jesus. We can trust in the person and work of our great High Priest who is able to “sympathize with our weaknesses” (4:15).
The writer to the Hebrews has devoted an entire section explaining how we should live and prepare well while anticipating the arrival of Christ:
First, "let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith" (v. 22a). We are now privileged to draw near to God in four ways:
- With a true heart. The people of Israel drew near to God with their mouth, and honored Him with their lips, but their heart was often far from Him (Matt. 15:8). Our approach should be with utter sincerity.
- In full assurance of faith. We draw near with utter confidence in the promises of God and with the firm conviction that we shall have a gracious reception into His presence. Without faith, it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6).
- Having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience. When we are born again through trusting Christ, we appropriate the value of His blood as we sprinkle our hearts with it, just as the Israelites sprinkled their doors with the blood of the Passover lamb. This will deliver us from an evil conscience when we continually draw near to God.
- Having our bodies washed with pure water. The washing of the body in pure water is an allusion to water baptism. While the sprinkling of the heart with the blood of Christ accomplishes spiritual cleansing, we then bear testimony to that cleansing by following Christ in the public witness of baptism.
Third, "let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works" (v. 24). Our love for one another in Jesus Christ must manifest itself in works of love and gathering together in His name, especially in the light of His imminent Coming. The author of Hebrews asserts that this practice of assembling together ought to increase as the believing community sees the day of Christ approaching. The assembling of God’s people provides opportunity for reciprocal encouragement, strengthening, and the stirring up that can be gained from one another (Col. 3:12–16).
So, in view of all that Christ has accomplished for us we need to approach God confidently in worship, maintain our Christian confession and hope, and help one another by meeting together regularly for mutual encouragement until the Lord Jesus Christ returns. The central activity of Christianity is the gathering of believers together for encouragement, education, and edification as the disciples gathered in the early church: "And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers" (Acts 2:42).