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Confidence To Hold On And Encourage Others

Hebrews 10:23-25
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (NIVUK)

The broken body and shed blood of Jesus was not a mystical idea: it was real and physical, it was witnessed and recorded (John 19:33-37). It is not religious sentiment, but well testified evidence that God the Son died for the sins of the world – amongst them, our sins (1 Peter 2:24). Therefore, we should be confident that His sacrifice is sufficient payment for our rebellion and wrongdoing, confident enough to leave the past behind and press on towards the joy of meeting Him (Philippians 3:13-14). That is the hope which is bound into our profession of faith in Jesus. He is faithful to His promise to receive us as God's children (John 1:12).

Our onward journey should be unswerving, without deviation or distraction. And yet the wiles of the world, flesh and devil combine to attempt to pull us off the narrow road into more comfortable distractions. The Lord knows that temptations lie around every corner, and our will to ignore them is weaker than we like to think (James 1:13-15). That is why we need other believers, and they need us, to encourage us to keep our eyes on the finishing post of our race, and to persist in doing what pleases the Lord (Hebrews 12:1-3).

Although it is possible to be a believer in Jesus without regularly meeting with others, it is not wise to live in a spiritually isolated bubble: it offers no protection against temptation and no spur to serve in a way that discerning believers might encourage us. It is foolish, and not a little vain, to pretend that we do not need other believers, fellow travellers on the road to heaven (1 Corinthians 12:14-27). We are not wise enough, strong enough or smart enough to live the Christian path without regularly meeting to hear God's Word explained, to pray with others, to let them rebuke and correct us as well as teach and train us in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Others also need us for the same reasons.

And yet in this communication-rich but relationship-shallow age, there are many isolated believers. Some must move away to find work, others run away from responsibilities or problems: burying themselves in work is a God-substitute which offers no spiritual protection or progress. Some have been deeply hurt by other Christians or manipulated by controlling pastors: they do not want any another painful church relationship. But stopping fellowship soon becomes a habit, and it is difficult to recover from. And it makes a mockery of the Body of Christ. So, choose to meet regularly with other believers. Find out where they meet and join them. Allow yourself to be encouraged and encourage others in the faith. You cannot be a productive Christian in isolation.

Lord of the Church. Thank You for the Body of Christ, the church; Your people who You have placed together to represent Jesus to the world. Forgive me if I have had a wrong view of Your church, thinking that I am not needed or wanted; or that I do not need to be taught and corrected; or that I have nothing to offer other believers. Please help me to be obedient and find my place amongst Your people. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams