Based on the ninth characteristic of a healthy church in Take Your Church’s Pulse.
Theme: Jesus’ sacrifice lets us draw near to God together as one people.
Goal: To draw near to God together as one people.
Need: Fellowship. (koinonia)
People of God, as those united to Jesus through true faith, we are never alone. We always have the abiding fellowship of Jesus through the Holy Spirit, as well as the fellowship of each other. We have been talking about “the joy” set before Jesus which enabled Him to endure the cross, scorn its shame, and sit down at the right hand of the throne of God. “The joy” is not just the throne. It is the people gathered around the throne worshiping Jesus because as the Lamb of God, He is worthy to receive our praise. Jesus’ “joy” is also our “joy” because together we are one body, one new people through true faith in Him. And as such we are never alone.
This is good news to both those who rejoice as well as those who mourn. Those who rejoice do not rejoice alone. Whenever we have some good news, some great blessing we have received from God (whether it’s a new child/grandchild, a new job, a great victory, a happy occurrence, anniversary, birthday, etc.), we never rejoice alone. We have each other, and together we rejoice as one.
Also, just as we do not rejoice alone, we do not mourn alone. When bad things happen, we do not walk through the hard times alone (whether it’s the loss of a loved one, a job, a farm, a business, failure, struggle, or burden of any type). We never mourn alone. We have each other, and together we mourn as one.
In a world where loneliness can often be the worst thing, we can say together that because of Jesus Christ and our faith in Him, we are never alone.
(Read Hebrews 10:19-25)
Jesus’ sacrifice lets us draw near to God together as one people.
The author of Hebrews gets pretty technical sometimes, using the history of the experience of God’s people Israel to demonstrate the superiority of Jesus Christ. However, the author does not do these things for nothing. All the technical talk and history lessons lay a groundwork that points us to the wonder of the benefits we receive in Jesus Christ! And one of those benefits is fellowship before the face of God.
(Read verses 19-22)
This is all one sentence! It begins with statements of fact that culminate in the first application of what this all means.
“Since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus ... since we have a high priest over the house of God ... let us draw near ...”
In other words, separation from God was a consequence of sin. When Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, they (and subsequently “we”) were cast out from God’s presence. We were “without hope and without God in the world” (Eph. 2:12). As a good friend of mine once pointed out, “the word ‘sin’ in Latin literally means ‘without.’”
Sin separated us from God, but Jesus’ perfect sacrifice allows us to come back to God through true faith. But when we come back, we do not come alone, we come together as one people in Christ.
In short, the author of Hebrews is saying, “since the door has been opened, and the curtain drawn back, let us draw near to God because together WE CAN!”
(Read verse 22)
“Let us (together) draw near to God!” There are other benefits as well. Not only can we draw near to God, but we also can hold onto hope.
(Read verse 23)
Our hope is in God. It is not a wish or a “pipe dream.” It is a real, living hope because our hope is in God, who remains faithful forever. The door will never close again for those who are in Christ. Not only can we draw near to God today, but we can always draw near to God. And one day we will be with Him forever! This is our hope. But even greater, not only can we draw near and hold onto hope, but we can also spur one another on and offer encouragement.
(Read verses 24-25)
Through true faith in Jesus Christ, we have each other. We can work together “spurring one another on toward love and good deeds.” We can meet together to mutually encourage one another in our faith and our hope in Jesus. These are great benefits to being made one new people through true faith in Jesus Christ. And if we do it right, not only will we encourage one another, but we will also draw others to the same hope. Remember that we said God’s Word is both proposition (writings and sayings) and person (the Word who became flesh). Well, the same is true with our witness.
As we live out our faith showcasing all of its benefits, including mutual encouragement, we become a living example of the truth we profess; the Word becomes flesh again.
(Read Acts 2:42-47)
Notice that it was not just the words they spoke that made such an impact on people. It was also their actions motivated by their faith. “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching AND to the fellowship ... And the LORD added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Jesus’ sacrifice lets us draw near to God together as one people. And as we do by God’s grace we draw others to Him as well. So how are we doing?
Jesus’ sacrifice lets us draw near to God together, and as we do by God’s grace we draw others to Him too. So let us draw near to God, let us hold onto hope, and let us encourage one another and spur each other on toward love and good deeds ... for God’s glory and Christ’s kingdom. Amen.