Tragically, we find ourselves in an age in which our culture is intent on calling “evil good and good evil…putting darkness for light and light for darkness…putting bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter” (Is. 5:20). We find ourselves in a time in which Christian values are ridiculed as intolerant and oppressive and thus are oppressed and not tolerated. In a time such as this, how should the church respond? This morning we shall learn that we must not lose hope, we must stir up one another, and we must be the church. Hebrews 10:23-25 says:
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 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.
Do Not Lose Hope
We read this command: “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” First, notice that we are called to hold fast. This means we are to be intentional about maintaining and holding onto something. We are to never let go (or better yet never let it let go of us!). What exactly are we to hold fast to? We hold fast “the confession of our hope” and we are also told to do so “without wavering”. Our hope is not found in a friendly society nor is it found in any external circumstances, but rather it is found in our confession. What is our confession? We confess the “gospel of Christ” (1 Cor 9:13). Our confession is that “Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:11). As the old hymn says:
My hope is built on nothing less,
than Jesus blood and righteousness.
We are told not to lose hope nor waver because “He who promised is faithful”. We have no idea what will happen tomorrow or today, we do not know if things will get worse or better, but praise be to God, this one thing we know:“God is faithful” (1 Cor 1:9; 10:13), “Christ is faithful” (Hebrews 3:6), “the steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lam 3:23), “He who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it” (1 Thess 5:24), and “He who promised is faithful” (Heb 10:23). Our God is faithful; therefore let us continue in faith.
Get Stirred Up
In our next verse we have another command: “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.” Notice that when it says we are to consider how to stir up one another, this does not mean we think about whether or not we want to do it. Rather, it is understood as being intentional and perceptive for ways to accomplish something. When Jesus told His followers to “notice [consider] the log that is in your own eye” (Matt 7:3), He wasn’t calling us to consider whether or not we shall remove it; but to recognize it so as to “take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye” (Matt 7:5).
What are we called to consider? We are to consider how to stir up one another. This, by the way, is a fascinating statement. Literally, God is calling us to provoke and incite one another. A good illustration of this phrase “stir up” is a hornet’s nest. Have you ever stirred up a hornet’s nest? You hit the nest and they are quickly stirred up and agitated (and usually you are too!)
This is what God wants us to do with one another. It’s true, God wants us to stir up one another and provoke one another. Fortunately, we are not called to inflict painful stings upon one another (like the hornets are fond of doing); but we are called to stir up, provoke, agitate, incite one another “to love and good works”. We should literally be provoking one another to love God and love others and to be stirred up to do the “good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph 2:10). We need the rock of Christ-like love to be thrown towards the nest of faith so that the Christian hornets get stirred up and provoked to consider/look for ways to show our love for God and others.
One other note about this verse, while Christians must be active in our political process, we are not called to stir up and provoke non-believers but stir up one another. This stirring up, you should know, has been the beginning of many revivals throughout the ages.
Be the Church
Where does this stirring up to love and good works occur? It occurs primarily through the local church. We read that we should “not neglect to meet together, as is the habit of some”. This doesn’t mean that you “show up for church”, it means that you are the church and you are connected and serving in the local church. When the church gathers, we should be intentional about “encouraging one another”. A healthy church is not as concerned about your past as they are about your future. The reason for all of this is that “you see the Day drawing near”. The Day is the great Day of the Lord in which we stand before Him and all is set straight. This Day is important because only those who are united with Christ by faith shall be able to stand.
Do you have a desire to hold fast your confession? Does your confession bring you hope? Do you believe God is faithful? Do you consider how to stir up one another to love and good works? If not, you must not see the Day drawing near.