Encourage One Another

Hebrews 4:14-16

Eccl. 1:14-15 “I reflected on everything that is accomplished by man on earth, and I concluded: Everything he has accomplished is futile – like chasing the wind! What is bent cannot be straightened, and what is missing cannot be supplied.”

Jean-Paul Sarte (20th century French philosopher) wrote: “Man can count on no one but himself; he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.”

If those two variations on same basic perspective are comprehensive and correct, why bother? Must we then do as Bertrand Russell declared: “it remains only [for man] to cherish the lofty thoughts that ennoble his little day.”

Perhaps you noticed – all of that, even quote from the Preacher in Ecclesiastes, gives no place to God in scheme of things. If all you consider, for this life, is man – his desires, predicaments, solutions, ambitions – everything is futile and empty, only for the little moments of his little day.

Our text makes it plain – Bertrand Russell was wrong: more to all that exists than “omnipotent matter roll[ing] on its relentless way”. There is whole other dimension to life and existence, one that is absolutely real although unseen with physical eyes. It is there, with the God who inhabits eternity, that we discover truth, real truth that can be known and understood. That truth assures us of two things: there is meaning to this life and hope for the next life. Also assures us: genuine lasting meaning and hope come to us only on God’s terms.

The inspired author’s point in these 3 verses: Encourage one another. Don’t give up hope!! Our cause for hope inescapably founded in what we commemorate every “first day of the week”, more intentionally on this first day, Easter. It is the resurrection of the Lord Jesus that guarantees our hope, that gives substance to our encouragement of one another. Encouraging one another not an after-thought; was front and center for angelic messenger at empty tomb. Two Mary’s not allowed luxury of keeping good news to themselves: “But go, tell his disciples, especially Peter”. (Mark 16:7)

Let us hold fast, let us take heart, let us come boldly, let us encourage one another!

A. Let us Hold Fast v.14

our belief in Christ – “​Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession” (Heb. 3:1)

do you have a true confession? – “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Rom. 10:9)

details of confession of utmost significance: Jesus is Lord (not Savior), Jesus is King, Jesus is in charge and calling all shots in your life

is doing so presently, 2000 years down the road, because he is alive, raised from the dead, ruling his kingdom and his subjects

if that is your confession and your belief, you can be assured that Jesus will save you from your sins

ok, so that is true, now what? Hang on! Hold fast to Jesus. When life is dark, hold fast to Jesus. Confusing. Discouraging. Impossibly hard. Painful. Lonely.

remember this: it doesn’t depend on you and strength of your grip! “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.” (John 10:28-29)

notice also: you are not in Jesus’ hand, we are in his hand – “neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.”

one of our tasks while there in Jesus’ hand – encourage our brothers and sisters to keep hanging on…to Jesus

if he has the words of life, if he is our life, we must cling to him and do our best to help others to cling to Jesus

B. Let us take heart v.15

“One day in October 2012, a New Yorker named Jeff Ragsdale, recently dumped and down on his luck, taped a flyer around Manhattan. It read, “If anyone wants to talk about anything, call me.” He included his cell-phone number. Within a day, he had received about a hundred calls and text messages. When people started posting pictures of the flyer on Reddit.com, the social-news Web site, that number jumped to seven hundred calls and a thousand text messages daily.” no training, but he understands

Jeff probably a nice enough guy, maybe even useful to talk with; but, in ultimate sense, Jeff is powerless to help with our greatest need

we have an understanding Christ

is important to know: we are not clinging to a rope, a rock, a statue, a dream or an ideal; are clinging to a real live flesh and bone Lord Jesus who has gone before us, now present with his Father in his office as High Priest

let’s put beginning of verse 15 in positive – “we have a High Priest who can sympathize” (don’t stop there) “with our weaknesses”

super-important qualifier there – point not that Jesus can sympathize with our circumstances, he sympathizes with our weaknesses, our infirmity, our lack of strength and ability

to live pleasing to God in fallen, sin-corrupted world required all strength of the God-Man; and then even beyond, in Garden Jesus needed strengthening to carry through – perfect humanity not sufficient by itself for that trial

no matter what happens, can’t honestly say to Jesus “you just don’t understand” – he came from highest heaven, glory of God’s immediate presence, descended all the way to death and the grave, experiencing all trials of humanity along the way, from human perspective; now, that very God-Man, “Jesus the Son of God” has returned, ascended to the presence of His Father and our Father once again

if you come from another religious tradition, might wonder why we in our Baptist church don’t have priests – ah, but we do, we have a Priest who is not in place that represents presence of God, he is in very presence of God

has gone there to make it ready for us, he made promise about that, too! – John 14:3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”

what does that mean in practical terms? “Your worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God’s grace. And your best days are never so good that you are beyond the need of God’s grace.” Jerry Bridges

C. Let us Come Boldly v.16

totally opposite response to Adam and Eve – “the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God moving about in the orchard at the breezy time of the day, and they hid from the Lord God” (Gen. 3:8)

desperately needed God’s help, in absolutely hopeless condition without God’s intervention; tried to fix in their own way

when God showed up, against their wishes, still didn’t seek his help, blamed others for what went wrong

was the same in Moses’ day – people told Moses they wanted God to keep his distance (Ex. 20:19); were afraid to get too close to Moses after he had been in God’s presence (Ex. 34:30)

is to be something different for the Christian – therefore, let us come boldly, with confidence, into God’s very presence

On that day, many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, and in your name cast out demons and do many powerful deeds?’ Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you. Go away from me, you lawbreakers!’ (Matt. 7:22-23)

we did this, we did that, yes was in your name, we didn’t do that, we’re not like them; coming boldly, perhaps arrogantly on their own merits, even though they acted in Jesus’ name, still trusting in their own performance to make the grade

the “therefore” makes the point: on basis of what just came before approach the throne of grace confidently

on the merits of Christ

“since we have a great High Priest” – he is the privileged one who provides access to God – no priest, no admittance, and you don’t get to bring your own priest

must avail ourselves of the High Priest who is already in God’s presence, the Lord Jesus, and make our requests in his name

repeatedly in John 14-16 Jesus exhorts his disciples – “ask in my name”; God is our Father but only because redemption purchased by Jesus has been applied to us, righteousness of Jesus has been credited to us

have you “received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry, “Abba, Father.”? Does “the Spirit himself bears witness to [y]our spirit that [you] are God’s child.”?

then approach the throne of grace with confidence expecting your sympathetic High Priest to supply precise and abundant resources to meet your need

come confident that you will find mercy – doesn’t matter what you bring for need: no sin too great or shameful for God to show mercy; no need too great but what God’s grace is greater

do not think “I can handle this ok”; do not think “I ought to be able to handle this ok” – come to the throne of grace

talk to yourself, encourage one another with words of Wesley’s hymn, “Arise, my soul, arise”

D. Let us encourage one another

at very beginning, even before sin, God looked at Adam and stated his conclusion: “​Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”” (Gen. 2:18)

by God’s design, we need one another; because of difficulties associated with living in fallen sinful world, we need encouragement from one another – that also is by God’s design

God thought it important to become one of us; Christ thought it important to give himself for the church; we must think it important to care for one another

God didn’t leave it up to us to figure out solution to our problem, we can’t leave it up to the other guy (our brother) either

these three verses full of plural references – we / us – we are in this together, even when looks like you might be alone

Elijah, a prophet of God no less, fresh from God’s amazing victory over false prophets, declared to God: “I alone am left and now they want to take my life.”

God’s response to him: “I still have left in Israel seven thousand followers who have not bowed their knees to Baal”

can’t say that for those with different confession, with different High Priest, only those who recognize Jesus as their High Priest

can assure you of this: we live in throw-away society, that includes relationships too! BUT, listen to words of Jesus:

John 6:37, 40“whoever comes to me I will never cast out. …For this is the will of my Father – that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life.”

you have to come empty-handed, depending solely on his grace and mercy; same is true of those who come to throne of grace – God doesn’t make deals

For all of this to make sense, to have meaning, to be an encouragement and provide hope, one thing must be true: must be a risen Savior who has conquered sin, Satan and death who now stands by his Father in heaven. There he has one hand on his Father, stretches out his other hand toward those who come to him by faith. Come to him now, while it is still Today – there you will find saving grace; you will find sanctifying grace, the perfect and all-sufficient grace to help in time of need.


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